Drumbeat: July 29, 2009

H. Sterling Burnett: Developing shale oil may solve our energy crisis

Oil from shale is ideal for use as premium jet or diesel fuel and for other valuable industrial products because of its high hydrogen content. Its consumption produces less carbon dioxide per unit of energy than conventional gasoline.

Developing America's domestic oil shale resources would also provide an economic boon to a flailing economy. The RAND Corporation estimates that a 3 million bbl/day industry could generate $20 billion in annual profits while reducing prices for consumers. Even better, we would be producing nearly three times as much oil as we import from Saudi Arabia each day and nearly four times as much as we get from Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.

In addition, oil shale development and production would create as many as 100,000 direct and indirect new jobs during the operation of just a 2 million bbl/day shale oil industry. According to the DOE, federal and state governments would receive $2 billion a year from income and sales taxes, royalties, and lease payments.

Oil Tumbles While Stocks Sink

Worry that poor economic conditions will restrain commodity demand and hurt profits of metals and oil companies helped drive stocks lower on Wednesday.

Dallas firm fueling change to natural gas in corporate fleets

Corporate fleet vehicles are driven into the BAF Technologies factory on traditional diesel or gasoline but come off the car lifts as natural gas vehicles.

Marcellus Shale's Estimated Nat. Gas Yield Rises to Nearly 500 Tcf

New calculations show the Appalachian Basin's Marcellus Shale formation could yield enough natural gas to supply all U.S. needs for nearly two decades -- dramatically more than previous estimates.

Penn State University geosciences professor Terry Engelder projects nearly 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could be produced from the entire formation, which is found in portions of five states, including most of Pennsylvania.

'Smart Grid' Raises Security Concerns

Electric utilities vying for $3.9 billion in new federal "smart grid" grants will need to prove that they are taking steps to prevent cyberattacks as they move to link nearly all elements of the U.S. power grid to the public Internet.

The requirements from the Energy Department come amid mounting concern from security experts that many existing smart-grid efforts do not have sufficient built-in protections against computer hacking, such as new "smart meters" that put information about consumers' power use onto the Internet, grid-management software and other equipment. . .

Many such systems require little authentication to carry out key functions, such as disconnecting customers from the power grid.

USEC Denied Loan Guarantees

White House spokesman Benjamin LaBolt said Tuesday that "the president remains fully committed to ensuring that the United States maintains domestic uranium enrichment technology and the capacity to meet our nuclear energy needs and national security priorities." But he added that the USEC technology "is not commercially viable today, according to an independent engineering review, and therefore not eligible for DOE's loan guarantee program at this time." He said the administration thinks the technology "holds promise."

USEC said that the technology was developed by the Energy Department during the 1970s and 1980s and that it uses a small fraction of the electricity used by the plant USEC currently operates in Paducah, Ky. USEC says it has improved the technology and tested it over "235,000 machine hours."

U.S. wind power installation slows

New installments of U.S. wind energy in the second quarter of this year fell by more than half from the first quarter as the recession helped cut contracts for new turbines, an industry group said.

New installations totaled about 1,210 megawatts in the second quarter compared with about 2,790 MW in the previous one, the American Wind Energy Association said on Tuesday.

"The recession is a force that is having an effect on the industry, as it is on most other industries," said a spokeswoman.

California's Expanded Drilling Plan Delayed But Not Dead

A proposal by Plains Exploration & Production Co. (PXP) to expand drilling off California's coast, then shut down the rigs after several years, appears down, but not out, after a recent setback.

Rekindling the quest for stability

Any push by the CFTC to tame speculators in the energy market is ultimately aimed at achieving the same goal [curbing volatility], though regulators will argue that consumers, rather than producers, would be the main beneficiaries. What constitutes a fair price will forever be debated, but the common thread here is the quest for greater stability.

Don't expect Big Oil to publicly cheerlead this new-found commitment to curb speculation. But there is every reason for the energy giants to quietly hope the CFTC can tamp down the volatility roiling their world these past few years.

Goldman Sachs Group and others at the leading edge of the commodities bubble will no doubt have a different take this. But again, if they get slapped with stricter rules, not many tears will be shed.

Oil producers seek pricing relief

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oil producers said Tuesday that declining demand in a global recession has produced a glut of crude at the massive Cushing oil storage terminal that is driving down the cost of the oil they produce. . .

Oklahoma produces about 180,000 barrels of oil a day. But that oil is selling for up to $5 per barrel below market prices and up to $18 below market during the winter months, Hamm said. Benchmark crude for September delivery fell $1.15 Tuesday to settle at $67.23 a barrel in trading on NYMEX.

California assembly drops offshore oil plan from emergency budget

California’s state assembly on July 24 passed an emergency budget package but deleted a bill that would have potentially authorized the first new oil and gas activity off the Santa Barbara coast in 40 years.

Report: U.S. energy use fell in 2008

The United States used 99.2 quadrillion BTUs, or “quads” of energy in 2008, down from 101.5 quads in 2007, according to the report.

Use of energy in the transport and industrial sectors of the economy fell slightly, while residential and business usage climbed slightly.

Usage of “green” or renewable sources grew, with the largest chunk of that coming from hydroelectric generation. Hydroelectric sources made up 34 percent of renewable energy generated in the United States last year. Even so, hydroelectric sources provided just 2.4 quads of U.S. energy in 2008.

Wood was the second most-used renewable source in the country last year, followed by biofuels, wind, waste, geothermal and finally, solar generation, according to the Department of Energy.

Venezuela freezes relations with Colombia

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez froze diplomatic relations with Colombia late Tuesday, citing verbal aggressions from the neighboring South American country.

Chavez recalled Venezuela's ambassador to Colombia, as well as most of the embassy's staff.

Chavez also threatened to take over Colombian companies operating in Venezuela if Colombia offends Venezuela one more time.

CNOOC Unlocks New Oil and Gas Discovery in Bohai Bay

CNOOC has successfully drilled a new discovery in Bohai Bay. The newly discovered JZ 20-2N field is located in the northeast of Liaodong Bay, about 4 kilometers north to JZ 20-2 gas field.

The discovery well JZ 20-2N-1 penetrated oil pay zones with total thickness of 33.4 meters. The well drilled to a total depth of 3,720 meters, with water depth of about 16 meters. The well was tested to flow at an average rate of 1,900 barrels of oil and 3,450 thousand cubic feet of natural gas per day via 8.73mm choke.

Natural gas price drops could lead to shortfall in Oklahoma

With natural gas prices still in the basement, budget officials are revising their estimates of how much Oklahoma can collect in gross production taxes on the product, a key source of state revenue.

BP, Valero results weigh on energy sector

Oil major BP and U.S. refining leader Valero Energy Corp. cast gloom over the energy sector on Tuesday as the two energy giants signaled no quick exit from the current downturn in their businesses.

BP CEO Tony Hayward said he sees no concrete signs of rising demand for crude or natural gas. Valero said it could post another loss in the third quarter.

Oil Declines a Second Day as API Report Shows Rising Stockpiles

Oil fell for a second day after an industry report showed increasing crude supplies in the U.S., the world’s biggest energy consumer.

Crude inventories rose 4.07 million barrels last week, the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute reported late yesterday. The Energy Department will release its report later today. Oil extended losses as Asian and U.S. stocks declined after a measure of consumer confidence fell short of projections.

Iraq Cabinet OKs Law Establishing National Oil Co

The Iraqi cabinet Tuesday approved a law providing for the establishment of a national oil company for the first time in decades, a government spokesman said.

Ali al-Dabbagh said that the cabinet submitted the new draft law to the country's parliament for final approval. . .

The reinstated national oil company would act as the parent of the existing three major Iraqi oil operators - the South Oil Co., Iraq's largest petroleum company in Basra; North Oil Co. in Kirkuk; and Missan Oil Co. in Ammarh in southern Iraq.

Exxon oil find shows Indonesia investment hurdles

Exxon Mobil Corp's (XOM.N) Cepu find in this poor rice-growing area of Java was meant to revive Indonesia's flagging oil output, but nearly a decade later there has been barely a trickle of oil from the huge field.

Indonesia has the world's 10th largest natural gas reserves and 25th biggest oil reserves, while it ranks in the top ten for copper, gold, nickel and tin, but a poor investment climate has deterred new foreign interest to develop its rich resources.

The snail's pace of pumping oil at Cepu, which ranks among the U.S. major's top 10 projects worldwide, illustrates the multiple barriers foreign resource firms often face developing projects in Southeast Asia's biggest economy.

Oil is Peaking But Not Because of Speculation

Prices did ultimately fall, but not because the supply situation eased, nor because speculators fled the market, and not because inventories were released. Prices fell because the global economy collapsed.

This period then shows us two of the possible adjustment mechanisms in the era of peak oil: oil-less growth characterized by increasing prices and continuous, incremental adjustment; and recession accompanied by a dramatic steep drop in consumption and a collapse of oil prices. The lesson to be drawn is that conservation can work within limits, but at some point, there is a straw that breaks the camel’s back and the whole system collapses. Ultimately, the inability of the oil supply to keep pace with global demand proved to be a key contributing factor to the current recession. However, that the proximate cause of the recession is China, not peak oil. China ultimately provided both the financial liquidity and the commodities demand which brought down the global economy. Were China not so large and not at its current stage of development, peak oil might have come and gone without anyone noticing for some time. As it was, China hit its stride just as the oil supply was stumbling. The issue was not, therefore, peak oil in and of itself, but rather the supply/demand imbalance caused by the inability of the global oil supply to adjust to China’s incremental demand.

One question I have--if we have as much natural gas as we seem to (see Marcellus Shale article above), why is the US government so apparently oblivious to the possible use of this resource? In order to make it work, we need higher natural gas prices and more infrastructure. This may require some temporary ( or long term) limits on production. Plans need to be make for converting demand to using natural gas, matching demand to likely available supply.

I don't think we can assume market mechanisms will do enough, in the timeframe we need the new resource.

If the US decides to shift much of its energy consumption (i.e., electricity, transportation, etc) to gas, then the unverified projections of 2 decades of NG would drop to something like 1 decade. Then we are back to the problem we started out with; how to provide a sustainable energy solution that is not subject to depletion and wrenching transition to something we should have done in the first place.

You are right. Natural gas is definitely temporary. We would need to think about whether building huge amounts of infrastructure for temporary use would make sense. But I think of wind as temporary too, on about the same time-scale. Once natural gas resources are not available to balance out wind, and inadequate oil is available to maintain roads and heavy equipment, wind will also stop working.

Gail -

This is why I have some antipathy toward ramping up natural gas usage in any major way.

A large amount of that gas will be used by utilities to generate electricity, thus leaving less of this 'extra' for the very vital use of home heating. While alternative energy such as wind and solar can displace a certain amount of electricity production, the same is less true for home heating. Apart from the very small fraction of homeowners that are able and willing to heat their homes with wood, the vast majority of homeowners are totally dependent on the burning of fossil fuels for home heating. (Even if you have electric heating, you are still indirectly dependent on fossil fuels).

I realize that there are major problems with both the economics of supply and pricing structures, but from a purely conceptual standpoint I would rather see us not go hog wild in using these newly found supposedly vast gas reserves for electrical power generation, despite the fact that gas is cleaner and generates less CO2 than coal. It's going to go and probably go faster than a lot of people think.

I say conserve the gas for uses for which there are no attractive substitutes, and one of those is home heating (the other being petrochemicals).

The best thing we could do is to just use natural gas more efficiently. Hopefully the smart grid can have a big impact on peak load demand, and minimize the need for nat gas peaker plants. Actually, there's a company Ice Energy that creates ice with off peak electricity to cool buildings in peak hours.

Also, trigeneration (using cogeneration with absorption chillers in the summer) should have a big impact on peak demand, as it would cool the building without grid power and at the same time produce electricity. Cogeneration in general is a pretty damn good idea.

As far as using nat gas for vehicles, (pickens plan doesn't make sense, more wind = more natural gas electricity for load balancing), it's probably a bad idea, except that I like the idea of having more energy diversity in transportation.

In case anyone missed it, Dave Cohen wrote a great piece in May where he laid out the substantial contribution the Danes are obtaining through CHP: Never put off until tomorrow… :: ASPO-USA: Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas.

Cogeneration in smaller natural gas generators and 3 of Denmark’s 8 baseload coal-fired plants, not the wholesale replacement of coal combustion by wind power, helped Denmark make a large reduction in their CO2 emissions after 1995.

Dude --

I'll second you on Dave Cohen's piece. Very cogent on the economics and nice read on the ideological fault lines as well.

Denmark's case is a terrific example of why expanding renewables won't kill the existing coal fleet. Neither will a big fat carbon tax. To be fair, though, putting these in place will very likely stop new coal from being built.

Best precis I've read in a while. Thanks for linking it in!

Denmark's case is a terrific example of why expanding renewables won't kill the existing coal fleet.

Denmark is only 1% the land area of the US and has no hydro resources or good solar resources. The US already produced ten times the wind energy of Denmark, so I don't think it's very relevant to "expanding renewables" on a continental scale.

Daxtatter -

Yes, I'm all for using natural gas more efficiently. But the things you mentioned are all on the electrical power generating end of things.

The stubborn fact remains that in the US natural gas is by far the predominant means of home heating. Some of these schemes, such the 'trigeneration' you mentioned might have some applicability in an industrial or dense urban setting, but let's face it: in the US most people live in detached single-family houses, the majority of which are heated by natural gas. This represents a serious problem for the not-so-distant future.

Yes, I was just talking about one side of nat gas use, but 34% of nat gas is used by industry and 30% is for electricity. Home heating is only 20%. Insulating homes not only decreases natural gas use for heating but also reduces peak load demand, thereby reducing nat gas useage.

Personally, I think they should do zero interest loans to homes that reduce energy demand 90% or more (passivehaus, zero energy homes, etc). I think that would kick off construction of such homes. Hell, I think the government should go to every house and put in R-50 and solar hot water. But one step at a time. The massive increase in weatherization funding is certainly a start.

The hype of the smart grid remains me of the original benefits for the internet - the free flow of information and more productive efficient working. This was to a degree true of course, but the key revolution in the internet was in commercial sales - more efficient shopping/resource allocation (including social networking) - allowing better marketing of products. I for one totally reject any efficiency saving from a so called smart grid - at the end of the day it comes down to supplying power as A NET - robbing Peter of power to pay Paul is no solution. I am starting a web site soon dedicated to the myths of the smart grid.

A) Probably the reserves are overstated. Just a 'Green Shoot' hunch.

B) This is of a piece with 'Peak Gas'. Looking at price and availability, gas is where oil was in 1998. The USA is flooded with gas and the future looks endlessly bright. In 1999 the talk was of $5 oil; a few months later the price had doubled. Gas is cheap now, much cheaper on a btu basis than equivalent crude. I believe the divergence between gas and crude as well as between crude and distilates/diesel is what is constraining crude prices to below $70/bbl.

More on Peak Gas here:


C) Natural gas is the important source of nitrogen fertiizers. While this article is a year or so out of date, it clearly indicates the amount of gas needed to produce the fertilizers farmers need to grow the food - our pet cows and piggies need to eat! This is true both in the US and in other countries such as China:

It takes about 33,000 cubic feet of natural gas to produce one ton of nitrogen fertilizer. About 96 percent of the corn planted in the United States depends on fertilizers, such as Anhydrous Ammonia (NH3), 28pct-Liquid Nitrogen, Urea and Ammonium Sulfate. Fertilizers consume more than three percent of total U.S. natural gas use. The ethanol boom could dramatically impact natural gas prices.


D) Since food is all important, the greatest priority use is for natgas conversion into fertilizer, with fertilizer to be exported as required. While I expect an 'overshoot event' within the next ten years there is an ethical requirement that the means to support adequate food production be provided - even at a financial loss - if at all possible.

I posted this article on a Drumbeat a few weeks ago and it provoked a good discussion; it's apt and for those who didn't see it before; GHG's can be reduced by switching natural gas enectrical generation for coalgen. While many older natgas plants were installed for peak- only use and are relatively inefficient, capacity/combined cycle/cogeneration can be added while the inefficient units are retired:


E) Don't eat that tofu:


F) Where will the heavy fist of US Empirium strike next? Korea? Iran? Venezuela? All of the above?

I vote for Venezuela! I've mentioned this before; it's a close- to- Miani, tropical Iraq without the camels and the provocation infrastructure is already in place along with a compliant Colombian protege:

According to commentator Rick Rozoff, writing in a column for Global Research entitled "US Escalates War Plans In Latin America," our leadership is already gearing up for such an eventuality:

US Military: After Iraq, Latin America

On June 29 US President Barack Obama hosted his Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe at the White House and weeks later it was announced that the Pentagon plans to deploy troops to five air and naval bases in Colombia, the largest recipient of American military assistance in Latin America and the third largest in the world, having received over $5 billion from the Pentagon since the launching of Plan Colombia nine years ago.


G) Regarding H. Sterling Burnett: Developing shale oil may solve our energy crisis

What compleate and utter garbage! The Examiner is a throwaway coupon vehicle or shopper. The article is asinine. The writer is a fool. He beats his wife with a tire iron and has 'rough sex' with this mother. He kicks his dog and cheats at cards. Why does he have credibility?

Why? Why? Why?

Anybody under the delusion we don't have hundreds of years of natural gas should read this post:


[blockquote]Most of this increase resulted from development of a technique known as “hydraulic fracturing” where water is injected via special “wells” to shatter underground shale formations and release trapped gas.

Not included in the committee’s “reserves” are the discoveries in “unconventional resources” that are becoming technologically practical to tap. One of these is the presence of “geopressurized zones” with gas at depths on the order of 25,000 feet found on the Gulf Coast of the United States. Experts put these reserves at 5,000 to 49,000 Tcf. Beyond that are the methane hydrates on the seafloor, which if not banned to the United States by a Law of the Sea Treaty, could provide an estimated at 7,000 to 73,000 Tcf.[/blockquote]

"Experts put these reserves at 5,000 to 49,000 Tcf."

some experts these are: making a hokus-pokus switch from unconventional resources to reserves separated by just one sentence.

maybe the sec could define a new reserve catagory: voodoo undeveloped.

and another thing. interplanetary lng transport is many 100's of years in the futute, imo.

We could probably access and burn enough hydrocarbons to turn the Earth into Venus II if we really put our minds to it. Great achievement, that would be.


Anybody under the delusion we don't have hundreds of years of natural gas should read this post:

This is possible. The way things are going with the economy there will be little natural gas usage. Current reserves - without shale gas - will be adequate for hundreds or (of) thousands of years.

Nobody will be able to afford to buy the gas, so nobody will be able to afford to drill for it. If nobody drills for it, it may as well not exist.

Peak oil has great deal to do with physical production of crude oil. It has more to do with what its price is. Many do not agree with this reasoning, but almost every peak oil proponent (Simmons, Heinberg, Cobb, Ilargi, Campbell, Tverberg, etc.) concludes their peak oil argument by observing that the oil price will increase - perhaps dramatically - as a consequence.

Okay ... the price of crude increased dramatically from 1999 to last summer; an increase from $14 annual average price to over $90 last year. What is the peak oil price, again? Will someone ring a bell to signify the arrival of price increases that are somehow different from price increases recently experienced? After all the recent increases were so dramatic a consequence was the undermining of those prices. 'New' prices could hardly be as damaging.

Why did the price change? Many reasons. in 1998, oil was cheap because Saudi Arabia decided to pump its North Sea and Alaska competition into depletion. It wanted to gain control of the OPEC price mechanism. The consumers could hold out for lower and lower prices and marginal pricing could reduce the costs of their inputs. This was a shot of adrenaline to real estate development, particularly in the 'edge cities' like Las Vegas and Phoenix. @ $12 a barrel, any sort of long- distance live- work arrangement was both feasible and ideal. Added to this was a marginal loss of demand in SE Asian countries that had currency crises that made the purchase of dollars - used to buy oil - very expensive. Consequently, there was constrained demand relative to gushing supply.

Just like today in the gas marketplace!

In 1999 this changed. OPEC found reasons to cut production, Asian demand began to increase again. Traders, leery of the frothy stock market moved into commodities. Russian, North Sea and Alaskan production either dropped or appeared vulnerable. As prices for oil increased, the costs were recouped by producers who ramped up prices for goods. Asset prices outside of stocks began to rise. The 'Dot- Com' recession briefly held prices low for a year, but afterwards, the uptrend regained force. The real estate bubble was now supported by cheap credit, not cheap oil prices. The race to our current economic dilemma was on.

With natural gas a similar set of circumstances appear to be working on gas prices. The real production from Louisiana, Texas and Appalacian regions is added to Wyoming coal bed methane production. Untouchable resources became reserves. The new 'frac-ing' technologies meant that well output would increase dramatically and this is being confirmed by the production of some tight- gas wells. It is possible that production would remain high or go higher over the next year or even for a few years. What next?

- Will America be around in a few years?

- Will there be enough water?


- What will the gas be used for? If gas is used (gas here being the term for natural gas, not gasoline) for fertilizer and chemical production, home heating and electrical generation, gas prices will likely remain low relative to both other energy forms and prices overall. Fixed endpoint demand is modest and mature, even if more electric generating stations are built. Increased electrical ganerating demand would be balanced by feeble industrial demand. Modest use means modest demand on production and long term availability. Prices would rise but slowly, the price peak would be now, the shale and hydrate gas would be around for a long time and that period could be used to transition to direct solar, thorium nuclear and other renewables. It would allow for a more 'nature friendly' buildout of the countryside. In the US, at least, the transition could be relatively painless, even if the level of economic activity is slow. People would have food (fertilizer), heat in their houses and electricity.

If natural gas is used as a motor fuel, the likelihood is the low- price period would be quite short, particularly if an aftermarket kit is manufactured to convert gasoline ICE cars to gas. A hundred million gas cars would burn through trillions of cubic feet of gas very rapidly; three hundred million that much faster! The gas production scheme would have to allow for massive production to keep prices low enough to allow current casual auto use, any higher and the rationing effect of the higher price would defeat the endeavor.

The demands on gas would also have to include the construction and maintenance of the entire auto infrastructure, including highways, parking and bridges, the manufacture of vehicles and their repair, as well as the expansion of the auto development ecosystem overall, this including suburban housing and retail.

If there is a price differential between oil and gas, the pressure to use gas as a worldwide alternative fuel would increase. What would happen is the oil producers would be forced to either lose revenue by losing market share to gas producers or to overproduce out of depleted reserves to compete. There would be a limit of course; no price high or low will increase net oil production and lowering local producer prices will accelerate local demand reducing amounts available to export. Gross depletion would also limit the amount of excess oil that could be made available to drive oil prices lower.

Gas would win the car fuel battle but as more and more cars are converted to gas use, the overall demand on gas reserves would increase. Seasonality would disappear first, meaning there would be gas shortages in the cold weather times of the year; car gas demand would drive out heating gas demand. People would have to choose between driving their new, expensive gas conversions or keeping warn. That would mark the end of the low- priced gas 'plateau'.

How long would this plateau last? Logically, it would be very brief. Increasing the size of the tap - to produce gas in sufficient quantity to satisfy demand at a very low price, that price being the 'casual motor fuel use price' - would accelerate depletion. The situation would be similar to the depletion curve of the North Sea fields; here today, gone later today!

As the English are realizing right now, the selling of an extremely valuable resource at give- away prices is numbingly stupid. It renders the production peak - in dollar terms - microscopically tiny.

So ... the key question - that really must be asked all the time in these matters - is, what will this resource be used for? I personally am a cynic. I know from experience that the people who use resources do not concern themselves about either source or recourse. The people who know don't care. The consequence of this will be an expansion of auto use of gas.

Now, there are permutations and alterations to this outcome. One is that a currency or credit collapse will cut off investment funds. This would make the gas unavailable, as would such a low price as to reduce rig utilization below a replacement point. This outcome is possible. So far, the government has been able to 'put out the fires' and manage rescues for a long string of faltering players in the financial markets. California, GM, Chrysler, GM, Citi, CIT, Eurozone banks with dollar exposure, etc. I suspect this propping action can take place for a lot longer than people suspect it can. This does not ensure investment capital, however.

Another permutation revolves around the price disconnect between crude and gas. Historically the markets correlate as both are forms of btu's. Either gas goes up or oil goes down in price. If oil goes down again, the disincentive to produce gas will be more less equal to the disincentive to produce oil. The production curves of both would decline together before converging. This has taken place already to some degree with current prices. Should oil prices drop for technical reasons - overbought or increased storage/contango unwind - gas could drop lower. This would shut in rigs and constrain production ... even of currently producing tight gas formations.

If prices go up for gas toward oil btu levels - even to historical trend levels of $5-6/mcf demand would decline. Must Americans are broke and if faced with the choice between expensive gas and expensive gasoline, the outcome will be 'none of the above'. That would clearly make Peak Gas 'now' than at some other price point a year or so down the road. This is price rationing; there would be gas available for future use, which is important.

While there are large gas deposits, they are not 'limitless'. Use is the most important factor in the energy equation. Right now, the use- issue- relative- to- economic development isn't considered important, that individual players can come to whatever use conclusion they like and discipline is not required. A large fraction of total fossil energy resources and reserves has been squandered even when the projected gas resource total is added. The reason for this is because resources have traditionally been considered 'unlimited' and near- free or cheap for all to use.

A cheap use was consequently developed.

This should not be allowed to happen again. In all things, discipline matters! Since humans seem to have forgotten the skill of learning and how to discipline themselves it is likely that gas will be squandered as the other fuels have. Too bad. It seems like we've been given an energy reprieve but it is ... as usual ... an illusion.

Keep in mind the theoretical dollar is hedged. If the dollar dies, all bets are off!

We must educate people to see the need to examine carefully the allegations of the technological optimists who assure us that science and technology will always be able to solve all of our problems of population growth, food, energy, and resources.

Chief amongst these optimists was the late Dr Julian Simon, formerly professor of economics and business administration at the University of Illinois, and later at the University of Maryland. With regard to copper, Simon has written that we will never run out of copper because “copper can be made from other metals.” The letters to the editor jumped all over him, told him about chemistry. He just brushed it off: “Don’t worry,” he said, “if it’s ever important, we can make copper out of other metals.”

Now, Simon had a book that was published by the Princeton University Press. In that book, he’s writing about oil from many sources, including biomass, and he says, “Clearly there is no meaningful limit to this source except for the sun’s energy.” He goes on to note, “But even if our sun was not so vast as it is, there may well be other suns elsewhere.” Well, Simon’s right; there are other suns elsewhere, but the question is, would you base public policy on the belief that if we need another sun, we will figure out how to go get it and haul it back into our solar system? (audience laughter)

Now, you cannot laugh: for decades before his death, this man was a trusted policy advisor at the very highest levels in Washington DC.

Dr. Albert Bartlett: Arithmetic, Population and Energy

BTW Dr. Bartlett has a point, laughing at a moron such as Julian Simon would probably be considered rude and uncivil...
IMHO when the emperor is parading around naked, the proper response is to make him the laughingstock of the empire!

Beyond that are the methane hydrates on the seafloor, which if not banned to the United States by a Law of the Sea Treaty, could provide an estimated at 7,000 to 73,000 Tcf.

Anyone who includes hydrates in their estimate of reserves is a dunce and therefore anything they say should be ignored.

Ron P.

Anyone who includes hydrates in their estimate of reserves is a dunce and therefore anything they say should be ignored.

(The following comment to be read with an effete British accent and a slightly upturned nose.)

M'dear sur, If you don't mind my saying, would you please be so kind as to refrain from calling what is obviously a spade by its true name. You do realize that by doing so you might inadvertently bring about a fit of the vapors in those with a less robust constitution than your own. Please do make an effort to maintain a modicum of civility.

He's brutish. Brutish I say.

I miss the little up arrow.

Where are west texas and rockman and alan from big easy when we need them?

Good to know that we have a little more of a cushion during the transition period, though.

I don't think we should take comfort in this apparent 'cushion,' I think it leads to complacency.

IMO, the Marcellus Shale is still a "bird in the bush." If we experience a financial collapse, we may never see any production from this bird (or what production comes from it may be commandeered for "gobermint use only" during Bakhtiari's Phase II of The Transition (T2)- which starts soon, I think ;).

More fossil fuel? Cool. Let's burn it.

I'm only being partially sarcastic, as in the end that's what it comes down to.

I bet we burn it too. They'll declare Marshal Law at some point and we'll convert military vehicles to natural gas or something stupid like that.

We homo saps are fucking hilarious.

Minor correction needed, but I think a correct definition will be crucial for the postPeak discussion:


What is the correction needed toto??? I'm not getting it.

Answer quickly please, we are running out of time for our "postPeak discussion" ;)

spelling, I'm guessing. 'Martial'

LOL - ok, thanks guys.

(...."how can we spell when our world is burning?" - midnight oil)

Yep, just spelling correction.

I'd like to have an email conversation with you, if you wouldn't mind. If it pleases you, could you send a note to my junk account at bog_dog at hotmail (dot com) and we can exchange addresses?

Thanks a lot!

Gail wrote;

But I think of wind as temporary too, on about the same time-scale. Once natural gas resources are not available to balance out wind, and inadequate oil is available to maintain roads and heavy equipment, wind will also stop working.

Precisely why it is important to use wind/solar/geothermal/hydro to stretch out the time-scale of NG availability, instead of using it up quickly.

The better long term perspective would be to use NG as a quick dispatch in a predominantly renewable/nuclear smart grid where the dips in national level wind and solar are moderated by demand side management, geothermal, hydro storage, CAES, and NG turbines.

Without major work towards population reduction, all that natural gas is going to do is accelerate us faster towards the cliff?

Certainly that would do in BAU wind, but we have been using wind power for centuries already so I expect a change in business is more likely than the doom of wind.

I must agree about the temporary nature of the gas supply but using some of it-maybe alot of it- to fuel transportatiom may buy enough time to learn how to build better electric vehicles and build out wind and solar ,etc.Doing the build out is going to be tough enoiugh even if the economy is more or less functioning "normally" as in the last few decades.

If the global supply of oil really does decline at 4 percent or so annually,and twice that for importers,we be so far down and out that we just can't handle the stress.I am presuming that this will be the case,and therefore think we should burn it (-the ng,I mean) on keeping things on track until the renewables are as far along as possible.

I must admit that I posted an erronous comment somewhere a day or two ago concerning propane versus ng for mobile engine use.


But I was out of date on the costs of the extreme pressure tanks needed for natural gas.If you live where you can fill up with ng you may soon find that it is worth your while to look into a ng vehicle.

If the US decides to shift much of its energy consumption (i.e., electricity, transportation, etc) to gas, then the unverified projections of 2 decades of NG would drop to something like 1 decade.

And the easiest extractable shale gas peaks fast and declines fast. Forget the hardest, most expensive extractable gas, so it could be much less than 1 decade.

What I'm very interested in is any shale gas work in other countries. I've heard that there's some exploration in to gas shale in the UK, but other than that there haven't been any news on it. Seems to me the biggest takeaway from gas shale is that we're not going to be dependent on LNG (even if we still import some) for the foreseeable future. I'd be interested to find out what impact there will be on the world LNG trade dynamic.

"... interested in is any shale gas work in other countries."

other than us and canada ? there is a whole lot of shale gas being evaluated by exxon, apache and talisman, to name a few in canada. exxon is looking at germany,hungary and poland.


it is interesting to note that exxon thinks the worldwide shale GAS IN PLACE is 1 quadrillion scf while some of the gas cornucopians see 2 quadrillion scf RECOVERABLE in the us alone, and i think that figure just went up today with the marcellus shale post above.

exxon was an early player in the barnett shale and decided to make an early exit. i believe exxon made the correct decision.

There is the likelihood of more oversight in the North East than has occurred in other parts of the country. The Delaware River Basin Commission has raised additional barriers to drilling. Further one of the sponsors of the move to bring hydrofrac fluuid within the Clean Water Act is a Congressman from New York, and the House hearing had testimony for the move from a consultant concerned about the watershed supplying water to New York.

And more oversight is needed, in my view. The more I learn about fracing the more I think we are going to poison our water supplies. Actually, it's hard for me to see with what I've learned so far that it is even possible to use the technique without poisoning groundwater.

Perhaps someone knows more about this and can say something?

Normally the monitoring of the fluids falls under the aegis of the State agencies, and one of those involved testified before the House that he had been unable to corroborate any of the claims of hydrofrac fluid problems of the type that have been rumored. The testimony pointed out that the States do a volume balance to ensure that all the fluids involved in the Hydrofrac are properly disposed of. Generally both the hydrofracing operation and fluid disposal occur several thousand feet below the surface. The groundwater is in the top few hundred feet.

It's my understanding that the constituents of the various frac fluids are a proprietory secret. So maybe a first step would be to lift the veil. Then, when an alarm goes up over a contaminated well, the authorities would be better able to assess the situation.

It would seem like we would want to examine the risk in quite a bit of detail:

1. Is it risk of temporary contamination for a day or two? Or for a week? Or for much longer?

2. How widespread is contamination likely to be, based on past history? Will it be to a single well or two, or is there the possibility of contamination to a major water supply?

3. Is the threat of contamination from fracing fluid? If so, what can be done to minimize the impact (such as make sure there is no diesel in the fluid)? If the fluid can be kept pretty close to sand and water, with a small amount of other ingredients that are not harmful if ingested, the problem may not be a huge one. Also, some of the risk may be eliminated by making certain safe practices are followed in preparing and maintaining pipelines.

4. Is the threat of contamination from natural gas? If so, what issues are there?

If we were in a situation where we had a huge amount of other better fuel choices, we could perhaps give up easily, in the face of the risk of water contamination. Without a lot of good choices, it seems like we need to understand the risks well enough to make reasonable decisions, and take steps to keep the damages down. Perhaps initially it would make sense to limit drilling to less-populated areas, so that if there are risks that were not properly evaluated, they can be learned early-on.

IMO, the best way to get a full examination of the risks and potential hazards of frac/drilling polluting water sources is to make the Boards of Directors & Executive Staff bet their lives, and the lives of their offspring, that they can safely do this process.

This 'proactive incentive' would thus make them very cautious to insure full corporate compliance that no dire ecosystem effects will arise. Their chance to make great personal profits should be linked to a high personal cost if something goes wrong.

Consider the countless taxpayer billion$$$ we could have earlier saved if we had proactively required senior executives and families to live on what are now the Superfund Cleanup sites. Senior executives would not drink flaming Cuyahoga River water for very long before they would order it cleaned up. Or let their kids play in the vicinity of the Love Canal, and so on.

This is no different than people on a lifeboat far out at sea, IMO. If someone pooped in the freshwater bucket-->the others will immediately throw him/her overboard for such stupidity.

Will the Board of Directors serve themselves fresh, unfiltered bottled water taken directly from these frac areas? Will politicians in all areas willingly drink the clean water output from their sewage treatment plants and area chem-factories? If not, then I think something is wrong...

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

This proposal of mine is no different than it is in Nature. See this Youtube of lions attacking a giant water buffalo. Great feast when they bring it down, but one of the lions gets gored to death. Such is life..

Buffalo kills lion. [1:09]
My guess is the PTB, who can afford clean, imported water, could care less what the other people will have to drink postPeak. Please refer to Zimbabwe's Mugabe and cholera for the others, plus other global examples too numerous to mention.

How many Coal Mining CEOs have died far below ground in comparison to their employed miners?

IMO, too many little people get gored, but the PTB-lions continue to feast at no risk to themselves.

Consider if the Chinese coal executive offices, plus the regional Govt offices, were located underground near the headwalls--I bet the currently atrocious safety record would improve ASAP.

How about if Lord Browne's executive office building was directly above the Texas refinery that blew up a few years ago? I bet that explosion would have never happened.

What if the Pentagon was located above their largest ammo storage facility? I bet they would think twice about requesting further enlargement of the military budget.

Where was Union Carbide's executive office located when Bhopal's chemplant killed thousands in 1984?


Gee, this seems very pastoral & lush:

A mile and quarter down a private two-lane road within a 646-acre tract of unspoiled forest and meadowland alive with deer and wild turkey lies the 2.1-million-square-foot former world headquarters of the Union Carbide Corporation -- Connecticut's largest office building, acknowledged to be among the most architecturally significant, innovative and controversial office structures in the country.

Despite its auspicious opening in 1982 as an icon of Fairfield County's crop of corporate campuses..

If our Congress & White House were forced to be located downwind of the very worst USA pig containment farm [LOL, that's an oxymoronic statement]-->postPeak change would happen fast.

I would guess that their view is blocked by a thick wall of Coal, Oil, Auto, WallStreet and Healthcare Lobbyists. A few reps might be looking out occasional windows onto the wider world, but that doesn't create the 'verifiable buzz' that I'm guessing is defined by this stream of 'experts' and their shiny Brochures, Powerpoints and Checks.

This is the heart of fascism, where the government's access to information and hence, priority management, is cornered by the well-connected luncheon crowd.

Don't worry-Change You Can Believe In is coming any day now (don't hold your breath).

Yes BrianT, we all know by now that you hate Obama.

"One question I have--if we have as much natural gas as we seem to..."

the devil is in the details. i havent seen the penn state study, but based upon what has been arm waved into existance from proven and probable, possible and speculative technically recoverable resources to "reserves", is based upon a lot, a whole lot, of assumptions.

take the haynesville shale play for example. wells have generally been drilled on 640 ac spacing and presto, hundreds of trillions of resources are created out of thin air simply by assuming that each and every 80 acres tract will produce as much as a typical 640 acre (and greater) well. these potential resources find their way into the media as "reserves".

if you read through the presentations of public traded companies, they use the phrase "based on 80 acre spacing".
these public traded companies dont have any actual performance data to base these figures on (specific to the haynesville), just assumptions. there are no areas of the haynesville in lousianna developed on 80 ac spacing. some of the operators are experimenting with closer spacing.

petrohawk and their jv partners(shell, i believe) have drilled some sections with two wells per section with various spacings between wells. petrohawk, commingles production from these two well units, so individual well data is not available to the public.

based on the location and orientation of many of these first wells, chesapeake, petrohawk and others apparently have contingent plans to drill on much closer spacing.

another thing to keep in mind is that this haynesville play is still very young. the longest producing hz well has just 17 months of data available.

i am in the middle of a public data study of the haynesville and will post something in due course when i feel confident with my conclusions.

performance data for the haynesville doesn't seem to support the often quoted 6.5 bcf/well either, but the data is preliminary. there is some evidence of interference between widely spaced wells in areas of more intense developement.

Thanks for that info elwood - didn't know about the well spacing. The comment from EOG's CEO about Johnson County being played out was telling - that's about 7% of the total Barnett surface area, in about 10 years of intensive drilling, giving a very rough idea of how long these resources could theoretically hold out.

A switchover to NG from coal would mean a very high altitude level of drilling:

Utilizing NG as a vehicle fuel would perhaps double this figure - for April NG was .00151% of total NG supplied to consumers. RRapier did his own back-of-the-envelope, estimating by btus what amount of NG would supplant petrol: How Much Natural Gas to Replace Gasoline?, followed up by R-Squared Energy Blog: Behind the Costs of CNG Conversions. Those'd make a good double header here.

Therefore, to replace all gasoline consumption would require 45 billion scf per day, or 16.4 trillion scf per year. Current U.S. natural gas consumption is 23 trillion scf per year (Source: EIA).

Aside from that do we have the raw manpower to punch all those holes? Or steel? The NIMBY issues aren't to be taken lightly, either - people positively howled out here about LNG and associated pipelines.

except that the media, including rr, refers to these quadrillions of scf of potential resources as "reserves".


this study was published about july 5, 2009 and was refered to by uber good-ole-boy(pickens) in his press release about then, stating that the energy equivalent of shale gas "reserves" was equal to saudi arabia's oil reserves.

previously the csm headline refered to reserves although the body of the article clearly stated resources. the headline on the current version refers to "resources".

i emailed pttc about this in early july, i didnt get a reply, but they have changed the headline. the media remains oblivious.

From "Marcellus Shale's Estimated Nat. Gas Yield Rises to Nearly 500 Tcf:"
Engelder said the estimates are based on natural gas flow rates from wells drilled by major Marcellus Shale developers, which have been above expectations.

Is this estimate of 500 Tcf of methane based on the high initial flow rates from horizontally drilled wells without regard for the rapid decline in production after a year or two?

A reader suggested I post Tim O'Reilley's Draft Blogger's Code of Conduct for discussion.

We celebrate the blogosphere because it embraces frank and open conversation. But frankness does not have to mean lack of civility. We present this Blogger Code of Conduct in hopes that it helps create a culture that encourages both personal expression and constructive conversation.

1. We take responsibility for our own words and for the comments we allow on our blog.

We are committed to the "Civility Enforced" standard: we will not post unacceptable content, and we'll delete comments that contain it.

We define unacceptable content as anything included or linked to that:

- is being used to abuse, harass, stalk, or threaten others
- is libelous, knowingly false, ad-hominem, or misrepresents another person,
- infringes upon a copyright or trademark
- violates an obligation of confidentiality
- violates the privacy of others

We define and determine what is "unacceptable content" on a case-by-case basis, and our definitions are not limited to this list. If we delete a comment or link, we will say so and explain why. [We reserve the right to change these standards at any time with no notice.]

2. We won't say anything online that we wouldn't say in person.

3. We connect privately before we respond publicly.

When we encounter conflicts and misrepresentation in the blogosphere, we make every effort to talk privately and directly to the person(s) involved--or find an intermediary who can do so--before we publish any posts or comments about the issue.

4. When we believe someone is unfairly attacking another, we take action.

When someone who is publishing comments or blog postings that are offensive, we'll tell them so (privately, if possible--see above) and ask them to publicly make amends.

If those published comments could be construed as a threat, and the perpetrator doesn't withdraw them and apologize, we will cooperate with law enforcement to protect the target of the threat.

5. We do not allow anonymous comments.

We require commenters to supply a valid email address before they can post, though we allow commenters to identify themselves with an alias, rather than their real name.

6. We ignore the trolls.

We prefer not to respond to nasty comments about us or our blog, as long as they don't veer into abuse or libel. We believe that feeding the trolls only encourages them--"Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it." Ignoring public attacks is often the best way to contain them.

We also decided we needed an "anything goes" badge for sites that want to warn possible commenters that they are entering a free-for-all zone. The text to accompany that badge might go something like this:

This is an open, uncensored forum. We are not responsible for the comments of any poster, and when discussions get heated, crude language, insults and other "off color" comments may be encountered. Participate in this site at your own risk.

We have added the "flag as inappropriate" feature in the past few months. We hope readers will use it, for even posts that are borderline inappropriate. The readers have caught quite a number of inappropriate posts. We need to use whatever approaches we can to maintain a forum that all feel welcome to visit.

Thank you Gail. I especially like the point, "we won't say anything on line that we wouldn't say in person." I would add, "that we wouldn't say in person with the mask of anonymity removed."

I tend to follow this rule personally but perhaps for a lot of people the "mask of anonymity" of Internet commentary is a good thing. Much gets said that would otherwise remain hidden. A certain amount of conflict that would not occur in polite company is not only useful but entertaining. Beyond a little hissing it gets boring though.

You mean ... referring to H. Sterling Burnett as a wife- beating, incestuous, dog- kicking, card- cheating fool ... is an 'ad hominum attack'? What if it's all true?

How about the asinine part? What if he's worse?! What if he's George Will using a pseudonym?

Is referring to the President as 'Obamalama' going too far? How about asking whether he was like ... H. Bruce Springsteen, "Born in the USA"? How about H. Barack Obamalama? Howzabout B. Hussein Obamalama? The 'Hussein; part is enough to give most ... uh, 'Muricans' warts.

How can 'Murica have a president who was born in Kenya, went to a madrassa, prays five time a day, and is realated to H. Saddam Hussein? How can this person ... become president? The answer has to be 'growth'.

How about David Letterman on national TV suggesting that Sarah 'Take this job and shove it!' Palin's daughter was having a quickie during the 7th inning of a Yankee game with H. Alex Rodriguez. Was that an ad hominun attack? If I was Rodriguez I would sue!

Okay, whatever it is, I promise not to do that anymore.

Obama is Mr. Pro- growth. That's how he got where he is, now. He is not about to repudiate himself. Growth is the American Dream and the American Way. That's why the current situation has to burn itself out. Obama and his crew do not have the tools to change the world because they would have to change themselves into something they do not comprehend. Obama would have to become like that unmentionable wife- beating, card cheating cad. I think Summers is already there, btw ...

So, in our bloggish polity we will all enjoy dollar collapse, drought(s), floods, hurricanes, financial chaos, famines, pestilence, war and death. Etc.

No problem! I certainly have no room to get upset.


Won't work in a lot of cases.ofm is a heathen athiest godless darwinian living and working in a fundamentalist primitive baptist community and looking after elderly family who believe he only needs to repent of his backslidin ways and get back to the bosom of Abraham in order to jion them in heaven a few years down the road-rather than burning in hell forever.

Some of the locals-quite a few of them actually -use the net.

How can I put this?

Nope, an incredibly bad idea that was dead (and thought to be buried) years ago.


A blog that attempts to enforce such a 'white picket fence' view of discourse and human relations is destined to become a ghost town as the restrictions on normal discussion, freedom and free speech become a stultifying blanket smothering the normal rough and tumble of life.

It sounds like a prescription from a government department, designed to maintain BAU and ignore descenting views. Remember, this is Tim O'Reilly, who tried to claim trademark rights on "Web2.0" and in doing so earned the scorn of the industry. Not someone you should be looking to for the right way to do things.

It seems like the idea of maintaining civil discussions is one that we can emulate, whether or not we agree with Tim O'Reilly's views in general. We clearly need to be open to a range of opinions, but we can't let this openness degenerate into personal attacks.

Some issues tend to be terribly polarizing (for example, climate change, drilling more offshore oil wells, and lobbying). We need to have a forum where both sides feel comfortable in expressing their views, even if the majority are on one side of the argument or the other.

I think TOD does a remarkably good job of keeping the signal-to-noise ratio high, but a reminder like this can't hurt.

Ask where civility is when the President of the USA calls the actions of law enforcement 'acted stupidly'...and when the person who did NOT own the residence also played the race card and made insulting remarks.

As to the 'flag as inappropiate'? Far better was the negative/positive counter. At least the one who posted said comments could vividly see what others thought. Whereas the flagging is NOT obvious and so far as I have seen has done little of value.

But civility on TOD IMO has been raised to a better level than before yet I have seen post by owners bragging of owing slaves as well as holocaust deniers and other off the wall trash, yet it has to be peer pressure that must be applied and not a huge set of rules that are easily manipulated as they are essentially value judgements of those who would enforce them.

Insulting others? A very fine line. Stalking others? Again a judgement call. So who is the judge? Far better it be those who are members of the site.

Its been stated over and over that the editors do not have the time nor desire to read all the POSTS...if so then who will judge? Arbitrarily I am sure will be the rule. Depends on whose ox is being gored.

The Matthews have disappeared due to banning as well as Hotgarth...it worked after a while. Took a long time but worked. Grease Monkey still exists.

So why impose a set of rules just because a few whine about them thinking they were not treated 'civily'? Hey we are all grown up and if you can't take the heat then the kitchen is not your place to be.

AFAICS just about all the major contributors can and seem to defend themselves extremely well. Yes some go off track and I am very apt to do. But I try to only do it on DBs.

And DBs should be allowed more leeway, being open-ended, than the Essay Topic Posts.

Most of the flak occurs on DBs. So what? Feelings are hurt? Booo hooooo...wake up to the real world for its likely to get far worse.

And a politician or past one has a hard time with vigorous debate? Gimme a break!

And a slave holder might not like to be reminded of it? Gimme that break once more.

And a holocaust denier don't wish to be called to task on that?

We all judge each other and the posts...why put some more frigging bureaucracy into the game?

I would say TOD is fairly sucessful. So why change it? This rule making I have seen many times and each time the moderators eventually chased all the members away.

Right now I think its fine. I would like to see the 'flagging' go away for its invisible.I liked the vote up/down myself. Even if I did collect quite a few along the way.



I agree entirely about the "Flag as inappropriate" option. It is totally opaque and seems to do nothing.

I understood that the Up/Down rating system would be reinstated after the Drupal update, once some technical problems could be sorted. Sadly it has never come back.

Perhaps we could have a poll on these options?

My personal choice is for an Up/Down vote system that shows all votes, not just the balance as the previous system did.


I am afraid there will be no voting. The current system worked today, to get rid of some inappropriate comments, thanks to some of the more responsible commenters.


If you check my record, you will find that I am an infrequent commenter.

I was a lurker for more than a year before subscribing to the site, and have now been a commenting member for more than 2 years.

I find your response highly offensive, as it blatantly implies that I am an irresponsible commenter. Although I have occasionally been somewhat forceful in my responses to other posters, I believe that my submission on this occasion was reasonable, balanced, and uncontroversial.

As an official editor you no doubt have the opportunity to remove comments that you dislike, but I still feel that it would be far more appropriate for the membership as a whole to be able to quickly display their opinion of every commentors statements. The previous voting system made this possible, but my suggestion of a thumbs up/thumbs down version would be better.

I still believe that all subscribers should have the opportunity to vote on whether or not an Up/Down assessment of contributors opinions should be re-implemented. What are you afraid of???

Your response also emphasises my original comment about the opaqueness of the present system. I view the comments to any drumbeat at most twice. I have no idea as to which comments you might have removed because (I assume) of the "flagging" by "Responsible commenters".

I must confess to being thoroughly disillusioned by your performance an editor of The OilDrum. Perhaps it is time to move on to a more open forum.


I currently believe the "flag as inappropriate" is likely to do more good than bad. I don't understand their allocation system though. By flagging as inappropriate and "memory hole-ing" the comment, an offensive comment can be retired without fanfare and causing a ruckus. If people have used the flag itself inappropriately (i.e. they just didn't like the post) it can be brought back out by the editors.

The voting system - although I liked it in some ways, has a bad herd mentality issue. Once a comment gets down-rated, it's likely that others will see down-rating and before even reading the post believe that the contents are invalid or worse. Then more down-ratings are added, etc. This is likely why the Flag has no history of others who have flagged a comment - no one can see the bandwagon, so everyone doesn't just try to jump on it because "everyone else is doing it."


Maybe what she might be afraid of ,quite justifiably in my opinion,is losing control of the tone and direction of this very fine site- definitely one of the very best ones on the net-where she has put in one hell of a lot of work -and if I understand correctly ,mostly UNPAID work at that.Plus she has a responsibility to the other editors, managers, and staff in this same respect.

And given the way this old world works, the kind and generous people why donate to help with expenses probably have made it known that they like the site more or less like it is.

The greatest thing about the net is that if you look for it ,you will find a forum to your tastes.

Perhaps you really should move on to as you say,a "more open forum".You will most likely find very little grain among the chaff once you do,if it is really open.

I personally have gotten into only one drawn out insult slinging mud throwing match here on the Oil Drum and realized quickly that I was wasting my time with the other party,and every body elses too.

I will leave it to others to respond to that party's comments.Not many do.

I have engaged a couple of others regarding religions and ethics but I have refrained from calling them names,etc,and they have been civil enough to pay me the same courtesy.

If somebody does not do what Gail is doing ,or at least trying to do,in a year or less this site will not be worth a place on anybody's favorites/bookmark list.

She deserves our hearty thanks a lot more than our criticism.

My response is that it has worked pretty damn good for 3 years and more.

So why mess with something that works?

A few feathers are ruffled? WTF!!!

This is the net. Most children use worse language than us adults and are into for more depraved websites.

As adults we need chaperones?

Come on.

The net as it grew utilized the principle of 'peer pressure' and it served well enough. Sometimes a crowd can destroy a website and chase the good away with evil.

This is what banning takes care of. Real bad heinous behaviour which has happened here several times and was taken care of. Yet the offenders had a long long time to reform. Email to the editors I believe was the approach.

The voting and later the flagging was efforts to relieve the burden on the editors , and so it was stated. So the members exercised their rights to complain and it worked.

Thats the way I recall it and for those who disagree I have to ask...'Just how long have you been here?'

We have a few new commentors and a tad of derision ensues. So?
Derision is a good tool sometimes.IMO of course and I see it very very often...most directed towards Christians, Bush, Conseratives, Baptists, Rednecks and lastly Americans...yet many did not flee and have suffered far more abuse than those who of late have complained most loudly for very minor events.



The "abuse" that gets doled out here is nothing compared to what I can draw on Free Republic or Daily Kos.

It's a fact that neither wing likes having their ideals questioned.

"..and when the person who did NOT own the residence "

i wasn't aware that renting while black was a crime in any state.

imo, the police did act stupidly and obama acted stupidly in retracting his earlier statement.


We generally see things alike but I have to disagree with you about the cop and the professor.



If those who believe in the principles of the santicity of the home and personal liberty and fear of an all powerful state and the second amendment etc do not come to the defense of this BLACK MAN,they are obviously imo no better than the redneck racists they are so often accused of being.

I will go to my grave ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED that if the prof had been a white man, there would have been no arrest.And no need for any hard words either.

And if the cops involved are such trembling cowardly fainting hearts(the word I want to use would NOT MAKE GAIL HAPPY!) that they too stressed to stay calm in that kind of nieghborhood
where I doubt seriously that they have a whole lot to do,then I suggest that they,at he very least, have thier guns taken away and be given clerks jobs sorting paperwork.

The cop showed utterly and absolutely convincing evidence that he does not have the judgement to hold the job.Suffering a little occasional personal physical abuse with a grin is part and parcel of the work.

Unless perhaps as a cop he has come to believe that he is the lord of,rather than the servant of,the citizens he is sworn to protect.

I have watched local deputies arrest an obnoxious drunk that cursed and abused and spit and threatened and they just laughed and said "goes with the territory" and charged him with drunk in public.

Of course had he actually stuck a fist into somebodies nose they would have charged him with resisting arrest,or may be just put a fist in his solar plexus if nobody was watching.
Easier on the drunk.
Easier on them .
Easier on the community.
Cheaper and faster.
Cops back on the street after ten minute drunk in public trial rather than all day or all week resisting arrest trial likely to be appealed.

Imo the cop is the luckiest guy in the world in that OBama IS a black president and WANTS the controversy calmed down.The black /hispanic political establishment is powerful enough to have his job and the chief of police job too.

Biden would have made the "stupid" remark for real,but imo Obama made it as a strategic move,partially placating all the justifiably enraged blacks,hispanics,not to mention fish belly colored people of my political persuasions,etc,and also demonstrating that everybody can let his mouth get started before putting brain in gear and thus setting the stage for conciliatory moves later.

I don't like a lot of his ploicies but I believe that OBama is an uncommonly perceptive and intelligent LAWYER-and that he responded just the way his lawyer/politician instincts told him he should.

And this situation demnostrates perfectly my scenario concerning runaway inflation;under pressure and having already committed themselves to printing money ,if things are going wrong when they try to correct and sop up the monetary excess,they (the feds of course) may very well try to bull thier way thru pedal to the metal.Runaway!!!

Some people are unable to think and only react under certain circumstances.A cop who is subject to this failing needs to find a new line of work.

And so far as his RECORD is concerned,anybody who is even slightly knowledgeable about the ways of this sorry world knows that there are countless people flying under false colors.

If I were a black cop in the department my choice would be to support my department and professional colleague at no risk- except to my conscience- or speak out and probably ruin my career.Think about it.

Gates was wrong, Obama was wrong. Crowley was the only one who acted responsibility.

If Gates had not wised off and insulted the officer and created a scene it would have been over at that point. He didn't let it alone. He had to make a play.

I hope my own sheriff and deputies go to the same lengths as Crowley did.

And I don't think they should have dropped the disordely conduct charge but let him face the judge. Then justice would have been served.


a man's home is his castle. what evidence of a crime did this police officer have ? what gives a police officer a right to trespass on a man's castle ?


The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures. It was ratified as a response to the abuse of the writ of assistance, which is a type of general search warrant, in the American Revolution.

airdale, please report to the ministry of truth without delay.

Garyp, it is not black or white. It works both ways. That is you can have rules, indeed you must have rules, but not so strong that it stifles debate altogether.

A couple of years ago I was a member of a list started by Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran, the author of the book called "Power to the People". It was an energy related list. But Vijay then abandoned the list and there was no moderator. But it was still a great list with about half the posters cornucopians and the other peak oilers. Michael Lynch was a frequent poster.

Then a real jerk joined the list. He insulted everyone. Any time anyone posted anything he would follow up telling them how stupid they were. The list died, dropping down, at that time, to less than one post per day. If there was a moderator, someone to ban that jerk, the list would have returned to its former glory.

So it is not a bad idea, there must be a moderator to keep things civil and generally on subject or else everyone will leave. No too strong a moderator mind you, but a moderator nevertheless.

The surest way to kill a list like this is to have no rules whatsoever.

Ron P.

I'd agree in spirit, but disagree with the emphasis on rules, because they can become something "invoked legalistically to justify one's actions". In my experience things work best if moderators make it clear when they're making judgements, so that the rest of the community can see if they agree/disagree and you can get feedback. There are useless discussion boards where the only way to have content posted is if you "restate the board owner's world view in new words" and where things are so open that flamewars, and particularly flamewars with no technical underpinnings, run riot. In almost all cases, after an appropraite number of polite posts pointing out ways in which an individual is acting in a way a moderator views as inimical to the list, the vast majority of readers will support a moderator banning an individual "based on their explained decision" rather than on the basis of some fixed set of rules. (Some of the worst boards are where moderators legalistically invoke rules rather than standing behind their informal judgement that behaviour is inimical to the goals of the board.)

I agree with the need for a moderator, but where did you get this idea?:
"But it was still a great list with about half the posters cornucopians and the other peak oilers"

When did accepting that we are at or are going to have peak oil very soon , mean that society is going to run out of energy, resources food, and other "power down or doomer ideas"??

I would be surprised if any regulars at TOD do not accept that peak oil is a reality.

It's "peak oil" NOT "peak energy" and certainly not the end of civilization. I am very optimistic that the world will not descend into "Kunstler's dream world", but that doesn't mean BAU, we actually have never had BAU, things always change.

I agree with the need for a moderator, but where did you get this idea?:
"But it was still a great list with about half the posters cornucopians and the other peak oilers"

Well, I got it from the list. About half were cornucopians and about half were not cornucopians, they were peak oilers. Now I realize that there are a tiny few peak oilers that are also cornucopians, but their numbers are so small that statistically they can be ignored.

When did accepting that we are at or are going to have peak oil very soon , mean that society is going to run out of energy, resources food, and other "power down or doomer ideas"??

Yes, yes, I know. A very few peak oilers think that everything will just be just fine for decades after peak oil. Now I know these folks do not believe that it be BAU but they do believe that if we just tighten our belts and cut back a little everything will be just fine. There is a name for these folks, they are called cornucopians!

And a person who is not a cornucopian is a person who basically understands Energy and Human Evolution.

Ron P.

By "basically understands" you mean "agrees with", right? Either way, you've thoroughly redefined "cornucopian" so that >99.9% of the general population are cornucopian. And what have you achieved with this brilliant semantic intitiative?

My guess is 99.999% of the global pop have no deep-gut understanding, at all, of who or what Robert Malthus [200+ years], M. King Hubbert [55+ years], or Jay Hanson have written [15-20 years?]. I would love to see the results of a global poll.

By my definition: until more people easily recognize these names than Michael Jackson or Britney Spears--they will ACT [consume & reproduce] like Cornucopians so that we get the Thermo/Gene Collision--which is much worse than merely hoping for the best.

IMO, Peak Outreach has a long way to go..if we hope to have any chance at Optimal Overshoot Decline.

Surviving the 'End of Civilization' 2050
Six rules for investing in the worse-case scenario

..Why? Very simple: Our "Brains Aren't Wired to Fear the Future," writes New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. We're wired to respond to crises, while pushing off the real big problems (health care, Social Security, etc.)

That's basic behavioral economics: Over tens of thousands of years, evolution has programmed our brains so that collectively we will behave counter-productive with the future, making an "End of Civilization" scenario inevitable, a foregone conclusion, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Why? Because our brains are handicapped, we are literally incapable of acting soon enough to solve the problem...

There's a whole lot of people who don't reproduce (consume is ambiguous in this context) without knowing who the hell Malthus, Hubbert or Hansen are or even without speaking English.
I have chosen not to reproduce and it nothing to do with these guys. I don't believe in the thermo/gene stuff (as a united whole) and I think of the climate scientist when I read "J. Hansen". Conversely, there are people who believe in this stuff and who use it to justify their selfish reproductive behaviour.

Hello HFat,

Thxs for your reply. Yep, I am like you too, but I am now 54 with no offspring. The problem still remains the actions of the collective whole.

Somehow, I just don't think the Duggar family, or the offspring of Ibn Saud are going to give up reproductive sex, then relocate to Haiti and eat mud cookies for 3 meals a day:


EDIT: Will 'Peak Everything Dating' websites ever outnumber sites like this?


Who needs brains? In 5 years, supercomputers will have more processing power than the human brain. They'll be the ones in charge.

It'll be at least 30 years before you can run brain simulations that are functionally useful however. The software and basic neuroscience behind the mechanics of brains isn't there yet, though its advancing rapidly.

Personally I'd rather get insulted regularly than have voices that disagree with me silenced.

Of course, given my world view, if I didn't feel that way I'd have nobody left to talk to...

That's not true! I always agree with you.

You just don't know me well enough yet :)

I would like to see more civility in these posts. Insulting contributors is another method of silencing speakers. I have heard from more than a few people that they no longer post here because it too often degenerates into personal attacks against an individual's integrity or motive or intelligence. How many lurkers out there would contribute to the discussion if they didn't feel they would be attacked. I think that TOD reaches a broader audience if there is respect for diversity of opinion.

So to that end, I see nothing wrong with reminding people of the need to be civil.

Good point.

Only a tiny minority of the long term posters here are invariably civil. I admire and respect their self control immensely.

On the gripping hand, ideas put up here should be challenged. I know as well as anyone the pain of having a beautifully crafted idea shot to pieces in a public place, and how even well-intentioned, civil criticisms can feel like a personal attack.

Perhaps as an adjunct to the "Flag as inappropriate" we need a "Be careful out there!" button. Only the original poster sees the result and it has no effect on the post's status, just as a way to let people know when they are treading about the edges of civil behavior without adding to thread noise or locking a comment that someone may wish to edit.

[Edit...] I also think Airdale has a good point about the scoring. It wasn't perfect, but it does give the original poster (and everyone else in that case) some idea about how their post is regarded by people who for whatever reason choose not to respond to it.

The whole 'flag' concept does not work too well.You expend one or two and then you can easily reach your limit. You have no visibility as to what others have flagged either as well as the one you just flagged and no one knows if any comment ever reached the point of being deleted.

So you flag one and that the end of that. Beyond this you know ZERO.

No feedback, just a blank wall. Then there is the aspect of just WHEN did it get deleted? After 2 or 3 days to build up a sufficient number of flags? All the while its visible and you may be the ONLY ONE to flag it as far as you know.

Then you can somehow go back and UNFLAG the ones you flagged previously..and then what happens? Sorta a black hole.

Sounded good. I am not sure of its results at all. Do I need to know? Ahhh the rules...just do this and that and not this and that...

I far prefer to see if others think this commented over stepped and it serves as feedback to the commenter as well, the UP/DOWN systems of counts , I speak of.

I found that I sometimes desired to view those with most negatives. Also I think it would be very simple to incorporate the numbers into GreaseMonkey as well so that you could select which comments you preferred to have on your browser window.

And BTW how am I or others to know whether their comments have been flagged or not?

And the point of informing someone, "I just flagged your comment."
does that do any good? Suppose the person putting up a very unpopular comment sees a huge number of down marks? Then they can contrive to behave differently perhaps. A feedback system is what it turns out to be. Also someone could form a 'cohort' for the express purpose of flagging a selected member. Or create numerous IDs to do the same.


Don't worry about reaching your limit. The flags are available pretty quickly after you use them. So you can use something close to a flag a day, and not run out.

The point being that if it takes two days to garner enough flags then its pretty useless for the whole post is now stale and has been seen by everyone.

Also I am sometimes interested in knowing that I or others overstepped good judgement and with out more visible evidence I find that hard to discover.

Also I am allowed , this is important, to increase the UP flags and there by show my approval of what the commenter stated in opposition to those who give it DOWN(negative) marks...like I said..we are all then voting in a manner of speaking on each comment. More democratic..whereas the flagging is not so obvious and a otherwise GOOD comment can disappear before I get a chance,or others, to view it.

Come on..we are all grown up and if little kids are reading all this then perhaps their parents should know that grownups sometimes speak freely and not with undue concern as to the audience makeup.

Airdale---freedom,,its all about freedom, about debate,about wrong and right comments whereever they may lead. I can learn only from opposing viewpoints, if I am wrong and I will alter my views. Hiding comments lessens my prerogatives.

PS. The language here is hard to define. I am taking POST to mean the whole complete thread from beginning to end of the ESSAY/TOPIC(or call it what you will) AND the 'comment' to me a reply to or new comment within the POST...thereby creating a new THREAD...all difficult to ascertain due to the nature of the methodology used on TOD. It suffices but is difficult to discern what the member means, as in this case.

Don't worry about reaching your limit. The flags are available pretty quickly after you use them. So you can use something close to a flag a day, and not run out.

Suppose the person putting up a very unpopular comment sees a huge number of down marks? Then they can contrive to behave differently perhaps.

Yup, and that was part of the problem with the counters - they often reinforced a closed unwelcoming echo chamber walled in by mere "popularity". Surely there's enough of that sort of nonsense to be found on any of the many sites devoted to trivial entertainment. After all, "star"-dom revolves around nothing but "popularity". But the sort of issues under discussion around here do not respond so well to "popularity" - lack of "popularity" among wild doomers would do nothing to undiscover a new supergiant oil field, nor would lack of "popularity" among wild cornucopians add a single drop of oil to a depleted old one.

While "unpopular" (according to the counter) certainly might coincide with "inappropriate", most often it denoted simply "information or viewpoint differing a bit from what the noisiest part of the prevailing herd of the moment desired to see." Alas, a good, thriving discussion will often involve information or views "unpopular" among the herd of the moment.

Having a button you can press to indicate displeasure with a post just to the original poster provides for low bandwidth social feedback without the feedback loop that the up front scoring provided.

You are doubtless familiar with the "Why is everyone looking at me that way?" effect when speaking in front of a group.

I recently came to the conclusion that for me, personally, it was wrong to post on the internet and not leave my real name. This does not lead to my postings being any less passionate for what I advocate, but serves to 'keep me in line' in terms of civility. There is a component to posting without attribution on the internet that I have come to regard as cowardly. Other folks may have reasons to use a psuedonym, or remain anonymous, but as for my own path it's the only ethical thing to do. I'll keep my TOD nickname to log in, but I will sign the end of each post with my real name. Of course, we are all free to do as we like, and while I hate as much as the next guy/gal to be told what I can and can't say, I understand why some blogs wanting to enforce certain rules of conduct. But I think that if I keep things civil and stick to the facts without going off on some tanget in hominem attacks (which, I must admit, I have done from time to time in the past), it keeps me focused on the point I want to make, and perhaps allows me the humility to learn something from someone who I might not agree with, or even like.
Just my two cents.

Pete Deer

PS: Dred is a slight anagram of Deer, in case you were curious.

My kudos to Pete Deer for de-cloaking. IMO, it should be a TOD-requirement to disclose name & location to enhance WWW-civility. I myself de-cloak at least once every day I post:

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

I used to include my above tagline in every posting, but Leanan prefers that we reduce repetitious info.

The advantage of de-cloaking is that one can collect a nice file of death threats, as I have. No different than the lion willing to be gored...

Consider the stark difference in the quotes below:

"I only regret that I have but one life to give my country."--Nathan Hale

"I only regret that I have but one life to give my country."--Unknown


No way Nathan Hale would accept a #119198 tattoo.

I think de-cloaking is a good thing also.

For you. Not for me.

So Bob, we see you call yourself that but is that really your name? Only you know the answer to that.

Not to cast doubt BUT this whole issue about anonymity simply slays me.

Why? Check the 'personal data'..Almost NO ONE puts down an email address. Not a bit of personal data.Its all very much BLANK.

Heck we don't even know if those who rant about the USA are even citizens of it. They may have far worse political situations where they live but they do not tell us where that is.

I post more or less anonymously because I am too open, I write personal details of my life and my family which I don't want to be traced back to me. I do not pretend to be anything but British, living in Cambridge UK, and I deliberately use English english most of the time. I have been rebuked for one two posts over the years, and I apologise on line if I accept they were out of line.


The only reason I don't post under my real name or post my email address is that I don't want people who might disagree with anything I say here to hassle me via email, or worse. The flip side of that is that I try very hard to be restrained, moderate, reasoned, and civil in whatever I post here. Call it self-censorship, if you will. Since I am, indeed, "hiding behind my anonymity, I feel that I have an extra obligation to not abuse that.

Maybe the rule should be that if you can exercise self-censorship, you can be anonymous, but if you are not going to be so restrained, then you should post under your own name. That would seem fair to me, and either way there would be something to push against out-of-line postings - either self-censorship, or the wrath of the rest of the community.

I don't see how you could actually "enforce" such a rule, but it could certainly be made an explicit expectation.

Hello Airdale,

Thxs for your reply. Yep, that is my name and location, and my relatives and other people will vouch for me. I have posted this before, but no one has yet taken up my offer: in exchange for a modest sum of cash and a confidentiality agreement-- I will gladly meet a person, then let him or her examine my driver's license, birth certificate, and other documents to sufficiently prove that I am who I say I am.

Perhaps we need a TOD group on Facebook.

I think Airdale has a good point about the scoring. It wasn't perfect, but it does give the original poster (and everyone else in that case) some idea about how their post is regarded by people who for whatever reason choose not to respond to it. r4ndom

Let me be the first to plead guilty to being at times "overzealous" in making my points. (I've never used profanity or personal attacks but I have had my posts and at times my character attacked on this site but I'm a grown-up (most of the time) and I can usually give as good as I get so no harm done. If I have offended others on this site over the years I apologize.

That being said to have an unseen omniscient deleting certain commenters while allowing shouting matches with other posters to go on and on and on...appears to be more of an arbitrary function. "Sticky wicket that"


Sorry about that one, I overreacted big time and completely missed the point of your post.

Regarding USEC Denied Loan Guarantees, this is a sad story for the US nuclear industry. USEC currently operates the United States' only uranium enrichment plant, but its method is hopelessly inefficient, compared with those in other countries. USEC has spent $1.5 billion so far on a new plant, and needs a $2 billion loan to complete the new more energy efficient plant. Its chances of getting a loan without a government guarantee are nil.

USEC has another problem as well--

USEC is also facing pressure because half the enriched uranium it sells comes from decommissioned Russian nuclear warheads. Under contract with the government, USEC has blended down material from more than 14,000 out of 20,000 warheads due to be eliminated. The program will end in 2013.

There may be other approaches, but it is looking increasingly like we will be out in the market, looking for enriched uranium to buy elsewhere, at a time when supplies may be dropping to well below what is needed on a world-wide basis.

looking increasingly like we will be out in the market, looking for enriched uranium to buy elsewhere, at a time when supplies may be dropping to well below what is needed

Simple source of uranium ore: Amazon! Note the many positive reviews.


Some of the reviews are quite funny. Giant mutant ants so large you have to kill them with a shovel :-).

AREVA is planning to build a centrifuge enrichment plant in Idaho that should be in full operation by 2017. Google "AREVA" and "Eagle Rock". In addition, other weapons downblend programs like MOX are under development, which could also be expanded to include spent fuel reprocessing.

It looks to me like AREVA is looking for investors in its plant.

Areva open to uranium plant investors - report

"We would be glad if Italy and Spain joined us, and we could also look elsewhere," said Francois-Xavier Rouxel, executive vice-president of Areva's enrichment business.

He did not say whether China or India, two major customers, would take part, the newspaper added.

U.S. DOE Cancels Loan Guarantees for USEC Uranium Enrichment Plant

The question now is whether that because DOE has denied the loan application to USEC that it will therefore award the loan guarantees to Areva which has also applied for them for its $2.4 billion Eagle Rock Enrichment Facility being built near Idaho Falls, ID.

Until it gets funding, I don't think it is a done deal, but you do have a point. If the funding comes from China or India, I wonder who the enriched uranium will go to. If there is a shortage, I wonder whether France will take what is available for itself, or sell it to US utilities.

Edit Oops. I think I made a mistake. The top reference was with respect to another enrichment plant elsewhere (Georges-Besse II in France) . I suspect that if Areva cannot get a US loan guarantee, though, that will be the direction it goes in this country as well.

There may be other approaches, but it is looking increasingly like we will be out in the market, looking for enriched uranium to buy elsewhere, at a time when supplies may be dropping to well below what is needed on a world-wide basis

The whole value of this statement depends on how much this "may be" holds. I think this is kind of exaggerated alarmism. The good thing about the nuclear fuel market is that both supply and demand can be predicted with a great degree of accuracy at least 5-10 years ahead. If enrichment services turn to be in short supply, there is enough leeway to actually complete those plants, which are in a limbo state right now mostly because of the state of the economy.

I'd be more concerned about the slowdown in new nuclear build, which will probably lock us in more years of coal usage. Actually I suspect this slowdown is what ultimately sits behind the lack of funds for USEC, not anything else.

Perhaps the reason for the denial has more to do with the location of the plant than with the technology. There will be many tons of depleted uranium generated for each ton of fuel grade uranium produced.

Not to worry, your friendly neighborhood wacked out military general, will put the depleted uranium to good use...DU is used in armour penetrating military ordnance because of its high density, and also because DU can ignite on impact if the temperature exceeds 600°C.

WOOO HOOOOOOOO. Go get'em boy's....

I would happily stockpile depleted uranium in anticipation of future breeder reactors.
I find uranium enrichmnet to be an attractive industry for countries that have a high technology level, cheap electricity, good safety culture and solid procedures for handling radioactive waste.
Its a plus if they have few religious whacos, a well functioning democracy and no ambitions of being a super power.

The futures market is broken again.
I'm not going to post the weekly EIA data but reported Cushing inventories are back to high levels (over 32 mbs), there's over 1.8$ of contango between September and August WTI and September WTI is over 3.2$ under September Brent.
Not so long ago we had commenters here talking about the end of the contango.
But what can possibly explain this mess? Last month's guerilla ops in Nigeria? Bid deal! What is all this storage for? Can't this be arbitraged? Apparently not... I guess heavy speculation is gumming up the works because a number of super-rich are concerned about loose monetary policies.

Anyone else out there willing to offer uninformed commentary on these ridiculous spreads?

Was in Cushing yesterday. Not sure where they plan to put all the crude piling up there.

More importantly, why are "they" piling up there? The contango over the next few months is very attractive but that brings us back to my original question: why is the contango ballooning?

There's been a >0.8 mbpd jump in US imports according to the EIA. Some have interpreted these import spikes as unloading of floating storage... which they said would flatten the contango! I don't give credence to this pricing model and I would expect such unloading to deepen the contango so this would be an adequate explanation as far as I'm concerned... except that I have no idea why floating storage should be unloaded right now. Is someone, somehwere suddenly wanting to export more oil?

Anyone else out there willing to offer uninformed commentary on these ridiculous spreads?

All I can say is that we should be prepared to watch futures prices fall quickly over the next few months. If I were a gambler I'd be shorting the October - December futures contracts.

To see the amount of volatility in oil futures over the last week, month and quarter you can check out the Energy Futures Databrowser and review the futures chain at some previous dates.

I predict we will spot price will be below $60/bbl before the year is out.

-- Jon

Morgan Downey had a chart of crude forward curves in contango vs actual prices in his book - mostly to illustrate how far the curves missed the mark. Dunno about his source.

He works in the financial markets, so I would assume he has access to pretty good data.

The data is public... well, the futures prices are anyway. I don't know what's meant by "actual price" exactly so I suppose that might be proprietary.

More importantly, the futures curve is obviously not supposed to be on any "mark".

Morgan's chart is on page 327 of his book; it's of curves on the first trading day of each year; for every year of this decade they were backwardized, until 2006 - CERA's influence? 2008's was sharply down, 2009's sharply up - eyeballing it, at the middle of the year it looks ca. $54/bbl - not too far off the "mark." His source is Bloomberg Data, perhaps it's available in some form on their site via subscription. The chart goes back to 1996. He also discusses how marginal F&D costs have gone up, $20/bbl in 2004, now $80/bbl.

What is "it" and what is the "mark"? Could you spell out what you (and Downey) mean?

How close it came to approximating what the price turned out to be. I know it's just a reflection of what traders believe at a given moment.

Well, many have failed at predictions before and the situation doesn't seem so clear-cut to me.

But even if you can't predict the price, what risk is there in (for instance) buying November WTI and selling November Brent really? I have no futures trading account and I am not advising anyone to trade based on my ramblings. I'm simply wondering why these spreads aren't arbitraged...

Yes but it doesn't work. What business has November Brent to be above November WTI?

Now I'm puzzled - what do you mean it "doesn't work"? As for value presumably Brent is scarcer than WTI thus priced at a premium, the spread of which you can make money off of. Or not. Or Chris Cook is right and Brent is gamed, but if he's right that should just encourage you to ride on BP and GS's coattails. I've gotten laughs from 3 random bankers in the last month joking about buying some GS stock, "they seem to know what they're doing."

Brent can be scarcer in the short-term and the front month has often been higher than WTI lately. But WTI is intrinsically more valuable than Brent (unless something changed and I missed it) so WTI should be used more or even exported when it's cheaper. What is there you need Brent for if you have access to WTI really? I figure 2-3 months should be more than enough to work through a WTI glut considering there's so much idle capacity.
But if the tankers and such are already tied up arbitraging the contango, then I guess all sorts of distortions can be expected. Ultimately, to arbitrage the crude market, you need crude-handling infrastructure and not financial engineering.

it could have something to do with this:

"Israel on Iran: Anything it takes to stop nukes"


Yes, I can see at least three reasons why it might be profitable to hoard the physical product on-shore right now:

1) Conflict in SW Asia, already mentioned;
2) Rapid decline of the USD;
3) Seizing up of credit facilities.

The increasing contango would seem to indicate that somebody somewhere is betting on a big shift away from normalcy, and soon.

Also from the report, US Crude Oil production for the week ending Friday was 5,107,000 bp/d. That is a six month low and US production has fallen 375,000 bp/d since the week ending April 10th. That week the US produced 5,482,000 bp/d, the highest since just before Katrina hit in 2005. It has been trending downward since mid April however.

Ron P.

Bloomberg: Trader on Bloomberg says markets are manipulated and volumes 'ficticious'.


"markets are manipulated and volumes 'ficticious'."

The reality now is that the Markets themselves are fictions.

Our financial system over the past 9 months has been a Fiction.

A fictional world economy in a non-fiction world...

hmmm, I wonder how that's gonna turn out...

This is making less and less sense. Perhaps that's because this thread was infected and has now become fictitious as well. Fiction is starting to look like intellectual ice-nine, except it's stranger than fiction this time.

Watch that video again and note what he says @2:48 or so.

The market's are literally being driven by fiction.

We are witnessing a Mass Delusion as it is about to collide with Reality.

"The Trap Door" he mentions is going to open on the markets soon and then we can all quit our intellectual masterbation (I admit, I love it too) here on TOD and start putting out fires in each of our own locales.


(edit - notice the "anchor personalities" seem to not even be listening to their guest and they miss his most important points ... )

There is much less here than you all seem to think.

This guy is an equity trader for a fairly minor firm. He, as he admits in the video, merely executes trades that clients order on stocks alone. He does not trade bonds, commodities or other products - and he does not make decisions on what trades to make (unlike some traders who do use house money and bear risk). His job is to try to get the best price when executing trades that are decided by others.

He is not talking about problems in markets overall, but short-term impacts from high frequency trading. His claim is that high frequency trading adds volume that skews markets, which may or may not be true. He says that artificial levels of liquidity make markets more volatile and subject to downside corrections in the current environment. But he does not make the larger claims that you ascribe to him. The issue he is talking about seem to be short-term price movements. He does say that this can lead to a bubble like environment which can collapse, but is not going anywhere near your claims.

If you want the source for the casino speculation that is what the commodities markets have morphed into look no further than Goldman Sacs, the Planet Eating Death Star.

This current article by the up and coming journalistic sleuth, Matt Taibbi, in Rolling Stone Magazine sizzles:

The Great American Bubble Machine
"The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."


But Rolling Stone didn't have to wait long for the lieutenants of Goldman Sacs to be out in force:

Bashing Goldman Sachs Is Simply a Game for Fools: Michael Lewis

From the moment I left Yale and started working for Goldman Sachs, I’ve felt uneasy interacting with those who don’t.

It’s not that I think less of Goldman outsiders than I did while I remained among you. It’s just that I feel your envy, and know that nothing I can do or say will ever persuade you that I am no more than human.

Thus, like many of my colleagues, I have adopted a strategy of never leaving Goldman Sachs, apart from a few brief, spasmodic attempts to make what you outsiders call “love” or “the beast with two backs.” Goldman recognizes how important it is for its people to replicate themselves. We bill no performance fees for the service.

Today, the sheer volume of irresponsible media commentary has forced us to reconsider our public-relations strategy. With every uptick in our share price it’s grown clearer that we who are inside Goldman Sachs must open a dialogue with you who are not. Not for our benefit, but for yours.


After reading the above article I wonder where are the torches and pitchforks?


Joe, the author of the second article was being sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek.

I guess you're right. I got so ill I couldn't read anymore.

that joke was on me :-)


Joe, the joke is on all of us.

I am sitting here in shock. Surreal just does not even describe it anymore.

This little "recovery" illusion is in the process of being shattered in public. There will be no confidence whatsoever in our markets starting soon./

We could have a complete collapse of the financial system any day now. Just like what almost happened last September but this time the Fed and Treasury will not be able to stop it.

Humpty Dumpty's Last Fall is coming to a theatre of operations near all of us very soon.

I bet Paulson, Greenspan etc have bags packed and are ready to bug out, I shit you not ;)

Yikes! too busy to respond...am going shopping...now wheres that list: canvas tent w/poles, canned food and I almost forgot. Lots of ammo.


Yeah, yeah, real funny ;)

Seriously, the high frequency trading/program trading/front-running-market manipulation story is just starting to enter the regular press but the masses just don't get it yet.

Watching that video, the anchors clearly do not understand the implications of what the trader is telling them... and that is almost certainly the case the majority of the audience too.

But at some point the stupid will wear off and the euphoric market will collapse when it becomes clear how compromised (and fraudulent) our markets have become.

That trader isn't kidding, or using hyperbole. This little fraud of a stock market rally is going to implode soon.

This week in petroleum

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

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.6 million barrels per day during the week ending July 24, 171 thousand barrels per day below the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 84.6 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production fell last week, averaging nearly 9.0 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging about 4.0 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 10.0 million barrels per day last week, up 821 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 9.5 million barrels per day, 586 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged nearly 1.0 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 254 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 5.1 million barrels from the previous week. At 347.8 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 2.3 million barrels last week, and are in the upper half of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and gasoline blending components decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 2.1 million barrels, and are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 2.0 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 5.5 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period has averaged 18.7 million barrels per day, down by 4.1 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline demand has averaged 9.2 million barrels per day, up by 0.8 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel demand has averaged about 3.3 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, down by 10.7 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel demand is 13.3 percent lower over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

These are links to some graphs:

The distillate one looks like up, up and away! The others don't look too far out of line with historical amounts, but are on the high side. I see oil prices are down again today--no surprise with high inventories and the stock market down.


These charts are awesome. Paint a great picture. But curious, how many years constitues the "average" blue line?

Much thanks.

The blue zone is the 1st standard deviation from the 5 year average. Its a little misleading as you'd think the blue zone represents the actual range over the last five years.

In the most recent data points, there is a very interesting reciprocal bounce: oil stocks suddenly trending up, gasoline stocks suddenly trending down. Refiner strike?

I'm going to keep repeating what I've been telling the alarmists when US gasoline inventories were low: gasoline is not the only product. In order to build a gasoline inventory, you'd need to build an extra inventory of everything else as well. And where would that extra inventory be stored? Unless and until this structural problem is solved somehow, gasoline will be in relatively short supply and will be relatively expense. There is no strike, cartel or shortage.

I'd say it's even simpler. Last week gasoline inventory was at the top of the "normal" band in a season where demand and stocks usually decline. So refiners didn't see a need to produce more this week.

Note that the distillate inventory did increase this week.

Distillate is used in industrial production and in commercial transport. Both are way down. There is some flexibility in refining oil as to what products will be produced, but it looks to me as though it is hard to scale back distillate production far enough, and still get the other products needed.

If gasoline was arbitrarily expensive, I guess pretty much everything could be refined into gasoline. Then again, who would pay for such expensive gasoline?
The most sensible solution if distillate demand remains depressed would be to progressively convert the heaviest and most-used gasoline vehicles to diesel. In the short run, storing ridiculous amounts of non-gasoline products is probably the most economic solution, which is presumably why it's happening.

about doe production reports:

"As we noted in our prior “Note About 2009 Natural Gas Production,” the combined effects of
elements of our published methodology (See published methodology) mean that production
estimates for some States were not comparable for December 2008 and January 2009.
In particular, the annual movement of companies in and out of the sample of natural gas well
operators and the change in calibration period used for estimation combined to show a decrease
in production in Texas from December 2008 to January 2009, while data from the companies sampled
in both years indicated a small increase - an increase confirmed in later data based on reports to
State agencies. We are conducting a comprehensive review of ways to improve our natural gas
production estimates which is covering not only sampling and estimation, but also other issues
such as sudden changes in production from previously non-sampled operators and comparisons
with other data sources. We plan to publish a single set of revisions to our estimates for 2008 and
2009 when the review is complete later in 2009, along with documentation of any methodological changes. For the interim, we have posted a more detailed discussion of these issues in
detailed discussion."


i see some interesting data being reported by the louisianna oil and gas commission. for example when two wells are commingled, they report the same (combined) production for each of the two wells.

Regarding the H. Sterling Burnett: Developing shale oil may solve our energy crisis, readers should be aware that there is a water issue in producing this shale oil. For example

Shell’s Plan for Oil Shale Water Faces Stiff Opposition

Shell Oil’s plan to acquire a junior water right for an 8% stake of Colorado’s Yampa River average April-to-June flow for oil shale development has been opposed by some twenty-five parties, all submitting letters of opposition to the District 6 Colorado Water Court in Steamboat Springs.

Among those opposing the plan were a bevy of federal, state, and local governmental agencies, a coal company, and several environmental organizations. . .

The Yampa River is the only river left in Colorado with unappropriated water.

It's a 375 cubic feet per second maximum draw for Shell's in situ process which requires 1.5 barrels of water per barrel of oil. It looks like the project would produce 1.5 million barrels per day(30% of US domestic oil production).

How many golf courses in Phoenix and LA would that close down?



LOL, not enough, IMO.

It also needs to impact decorative outside fountains, countless swimming pools, incredibly frequent car washes to maintain maximum 'chrome penis' shine in our blazing sunlight, flush toilets, etc. Needless to say, but I think my Asphaltistan's various Chambers of Commerce hope I drop dead soon.

The figure I recall for oil shale was 1.3 GW/100 kb/d; they're talking 19 GW total now so ca. 700 kb/d when this monstrosity is built, with all its attendant pipelines and dedicated refineries in place, processing a smelly waxy oil and soaking up 152 acre feet that won't make it into the Colorado any more. Every year oil shale becomes more and more the fusion of hydrocarbons, and get set, we're going to build us an ITER anyway.

Excellent article by Mr. Burnett. Not only are there vast oil resources in shale. But also offshore, ANWR, and in the Arctic regions. And Mr. Burnett is correct in pointing out that the Obama admin has put all these resources off limits. Even the research leases for developing oil shale technology have been canceled. It's like Obama and the Democrats WANT to destroy the country's oil industry altogether. At some point the tide will turn and these idiots will all be kicked out of office.

Watch this clip to see just how out of touch with reality the government is:


Mr. Burnett has no clue what he's writing about. Developing shale oil is not just a matter of removing regulatory restrictions and starting to produce. Check past TOD articles such as this one to get a reality check on the numbers coming from RAND Corp and others.

Consider also the source of the referenced article: the opinion page of the Washington Examiner, a free DC tabloid.

Wake me up when we have replaced all our KSA imports with shale oil.


Yeah that's what the "anti-oil" crowd says about everything. Bakken, offshore, ANWR, Arctic, deep water, tar sands, etc. There's not enough oil there to make any difference, so it doesn't matter if it's off limits or not. We'll see how long Obama and the Democrats can keep their liberal illusion going.

I still say they should open permission wide but not allocate any Federal funds for development.

If it is economic to produce then it will be.

Funny though, I don't hear lots of oil company execs pushing for these things, only Republican political talking heads.

I wonder why that is?

It must be that you're not listening because they say it every time I see one on TV. For example:


In addition to the execs, the API is running ads on TV constantly. The problem isn't the lack of support form the public. It's that the liberal elitists running the country are out of touch with the public.

It's that the liberal elitists running the country are out of touch with the public.

Imho, it's "corporate centrists" who are running the country.

Ah, that's the problem.

Too much TV.

Listen to Mr. Baldwin, that stuff will rot your brain.

Turn the TV off, and back away slowly. Take extra care to avoid Murdock's Faux News.

tell us how much oil can be recovered from the bakken. is it one ghawar, two ghawars or five ghawars ?

The interesting thing about Bakken isn't the total recoverable reserves, it's how much that amount has increased with new technology.

tell me about this new technology. the state of nd allows essentially unlimited flaring of ng, a reservoir management technology invented about 1859.

Yeah that's what the "anti-oil" crowd says about everything. Bakken, offshore, ANWR, Arctic, deep water, tar sands, etc. There's not enough oil there to make any difference, so it doesn't matter if it's off limits or not. We'll see how long Obama and the Democrats can keep their liberal illusion going.

Liberal Illusion? How odd.

Here is the Department of Energy's analysis of drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf:


Here is the MMS Study of OCS Oil. Almost nothing on the Atlantic side. Possibly 3 billion barrels in the restricted eastern Gulf. And maybe as much as 8 billion off the west coast. (against a US ultimate resource base of about 260 billion). Not much compared with a 7.5 billion barrel per year consumption.


Here is the DOE's analysis of drilling in ANWR:


Here is a Oil Drum article on the Bakken Formation


I think the item in common is that none of these are able to provide enough oil to reduce our dependence. They might slow the 2030 decline rate a touch.

Personally I agree with the business leaders that we should not drill for oil in high tourist earning areas until we have worked to increase vehicle efficiency. We could save far more oil per year just by increasing all personal autos to 35 mpg than we could produce from these sources.

Almost nothing on the Atlantic side yet Cuba found 20 billion barrels offshore, yeah right. The EIA sounds a lot like Hansen's made up GISS temp and sea level numbers.

The Libralls want to use everyone else's oil up first and save ours for last. After that we'll have plenty while everyone else will have little or none. Its an insidious plot of World Domination.


Is this sarcanol or is GWB hiding a deep dark secret in his closet? With the Pinky Linky, I'm hoping you're being sarcastic..

"NeoLiberals", maybe I could buy that..


Well thats how Rush pronounces it. The spelling (AFAIK) is mostly used by liberals to make fun of conservatives that are making fun of liberals.

Didn't realize the Pinky Linky was subtle, but I suppose not everyone watched Warner Brother's cartoons in the 90's. The series was the last hurrah for WB's cartoons IMO.

Pinky: "Gee Brain, what do you want to do tonight?"
The Brain: "The same thing we do every night, Pinky—try to take over the world."

I believe the accepted spelling is "Libruls"; variants are "Libtards" and "Moonbats"; cf. epithets for conservatives: "Wingnuts", "Wingers", "Freepers".

Let's not forget "bleeding heart liberals" and "right-wing wack-jobs".


It is worth taking some time to learn about why oil shale has never been exploited commercially despite quite a bit of government support. Basically all these low EROI energy sources are dead ends.

The primary explanation is that oil shale is a lousy fuel. Compared to the coal that launched the Industrial Revolution or the oil that sustains the world today, oil shale is the dregs. Coal seams a few feet thick are worth mining because coal contains lots of energy. If coal is good, oil is even better. And oil shale? Per pound, it contains one-tenth the energy of crude oil, one-sixth that of coal.

Searching for appropriate analogies, we enter the realm of Weight Watchers. Oil shale is said to be "rich" when a ton yields 30 gallons of oil. An equal weight of granola contains three times more energy. America's "vast," "immense" deposits of shale have the energy density of a baked potato. Oil shale has one-third the energy density of Cap'n Crunch, but no one is counting on the Quaker Oats Company to become a major energy producer soon.


Walter Youngquist discussed so called shale oil in the First Ed. of GeoDestinies and in the Hubbert Center Newsletter #98-4. I recently read that the 2nd edition of GeoDestinies has been completed in manuscript form. I hope that publication is completed soon.


Thanks-it is interesting and well written! An update would be appreciated when available.

It is very good. Here is a great snippet:

Oil shale interest--rise and fall. In the mid-20th Century the U. S. public was becoming
aware of the huge western oil shale deposits. World War II had shown the critical importance of oil to
both military and civilian operations. Gasoline was strictly rationed in the U. S. at that time.
Immediately after the war in 1946, the U. S. Bureau of Mines began the Anvils Point oil shale
demonstration project near Rifle, Colorado. The public for the first time saw the Government pursuing
shale oil. Later, the peak of U. S. oil production was reached in 1970. For several years previously
domestic oil supply had not met demand. Oil had begun to be imported. Long gasoline lines during
the oil crises of 1973 and 1979 rudely awakened the public to the fact the U. S. was no longer self sufficient
in oil. What to do? The reported vast quantities of oil in oil shale seemed a logical venture.

Oil companies led the investigations. Leases were obtained and consolidated (some leases had
been in effect for many years, and were merged into larger working blocks). Colony Development
Corporation was formed to include Atlantic Richfield (now Arco), Ashland Oil Company, Shell Oil
Company, and The Oil Shale Corporation. White River Shale Oil Corporation
was formed by Phillips Petroleum Company, Sun Oil Company, and Standard Oil of Ohio. Gulf Oil
Corporation and Standard Oil of Indiana (now Amoco) formed Rio Blanco Oil Shale Project. Phillips
Petroleum Company and Sun Oil Company formed White River Shale Oil Development. Other players
choosing to go independently included Union Oil Company of California (Unocal) which had a longstanding
interest in oil shale, and in 1957 had built a small experimental plant near the community of De
Beque, Colorado. Exxon and Occidental Petroleum also had independent operations. It was a premier
group of companies, with excellent technical talent. And there was money to do the job. It remains
the largest effort to commercially produce significant amounts of oil from shale the world has ever
Yet, one by one, these organizations gave up their oil shale interests. (Gulliford, 1989,
Symonds, 1990). The last company to do so was Unocal (Turner, 1991), and in the Parachute Creek
Valley a short distance north of the town of Parachute (earlier called Grand Valley) there is a $650
million abandoned Unocal shale oil plant as a monument to this endeavor. Why has shale oil been such
an elusive energy source? A brief examination of geological and technological factors may reveal some

hi jon,

here is a discussion of oil shale from "colorado mining, a photographic history" by duane a smith copywrite 1977.

"Oil shale has been fascinating people since the 1880's. According to local legend, one early pioneer of the Rifle area put up a fireplace made of the local dark, easily worked rock. He had an unexpected housewarming when he lit the first fire in it. In 1906, oil shale was tested as a road-building material. Finally, in 1913-1915, an examination was made to determine the richness of Colorado shale, out of which came an optimistic 1916 government bullitin. Demand for the phamplet was such that the edition was soon exhausted - and the rush was on. Caught up in the fervor, one writer bravely forecast: "The recovery of petroleum by distillation of shale promises to develop into an important industry in western Colorado in the course of the next four or five years." This was a forerunner of many similar statements.

.... and... A 1918 estimate placed the reserves at twenty trillion barrels."

This is only about producing oil, so you have to compare comparable production systems.

As I understand Shell's process(EROEI=3.5),therefore .52 boe of coal turns into electricity to produce 1 boe of oil plus 1/3 boe of derived natural gas. If the natural gas is returned to the process one boe of coal would produce 1.9 barrels of shale oil.

Refining oil is 90% efficient so it drops to
1.71 barrels of shale oil product per boe of coal.

Coal is about 4.8 boe/ton so .11 ton of coal(.52/4.8) would produce .90 boe of refined shale oil with natural gas recycle.
Without natural gas recycle,.86 boe(.18 tons of coal).

Either way oil shale is slightly net energy positive: .90-.52 or .90-.87 = net energy positive


A ton of coal(bituminous) by Sasol's F+T method produces 1.8 barrels of CTL. 160000 bpd/33 million tons of bituminous coal per year at Secunda, SA.
So here .56 tons of coal produces 1 boe of oil.
1.8 boe CTL output - 2.7 boe input (.56 x 4.8 boe/t)=-0.9 boe, clearly negative net energy.

As you can see converting coal by CTL is wasteful of much of the potential energy of the mined mineral.

The Taicuk retort is slightly more efficient but produces more CO2 and you have to include the mining, much higher water requirements and the disposal of shale.
The report also shows that the CO2 emissions of the Shell process(with coal fired electricity) are about 30% higher than conventional oil.


It is almost a certainty that we are running out of oil so we have to look at the substitutes which are unconventional oil and coal.

Even though oil shale has the energy density of 'a baked potato', less energy is used to produce a boe of refined shale oil than to convert coal into liquid fuel. The energy density of oil shale is not as important as the amount of energy needed to produce the finished product.

A couple of additional issues to think about. First, the built-out infrastructure already exists for coal extraction, in most places globally. That's not the case with the Piceance. Indeed, the Piceance (and I use it as I do think its the best example being the best deposit) is vast and virgin land that exists near little infrastructure. Building infra to extract at scale would be truly awesome in time, labor, and materials. Second, it's possible that oil shale extraction actually sees a decline in EROI as one scales up the process. The geology of the trapped oil, and its wide disbursement, suggests that very small scale experimental stage extraction that is often not in-situ will produce results that are optimistic. Finally, just using your own 1 boe of coal to net 1.9 bbl of unrefined shale oil, that looks very much to me like the kind of thin EROI margin that will make it difficult to provide sustainable profit to everyone in the production chain. Consider, that if one is going to to this at scale, real scale, than the producers of coal, the carriers of coal, the infra engineers, and so on will all want their cut. 1.9 from 1.0 is pretty thin. We already saw, for example in the world of 1.4 ethanol, that as soon as someone in the production chain increases prices, the capital profit margins are too thin and another player on the chain crashes.

Regardless of whether Shell's EROI math is correct, or your citation of Shell is correct, my point is that Oil Shale looks worse as you scale. The amount of electrical power that would be required to sustainably cook the deposits in-situ would be so enormous, that it surely would make more sense to deliver that power to an electrified grid for public transport.After all, the entire oil shale quest would only be about the search for liquids. At some point the search for liquids runs into a wall. I think US oil shale is that wall.


Finally, just using your own 1 boe of coal to net 1.9 bbl of unrefined shale oil, that looks very much to me like the kind of thin EROI margin that will make it difficult to provide sustainable profit to everyone in the production chain. Consider, that if one is going to to this at scale, real scale, than the producers of coal, the carriers of coal, the infra engineers, and so on will all want their cut. 1.9 from 1.0 is pretty thin. We already saw, for example in the world of 1.4 ethanol, that as soon as someone in the production chain increases prices, the capital profit margins are too thin and another player on the chain crashes.

IMHO EROEI is just a confusing distraction.
I would make an analogy to rate of return(EROEI) versus break-even point(net energy). Which is more important? Obviously break-even point, it tells you how many widgets you must sell or go broke.

Speaking of players, this is what game theorists call the minimax principle.
You want to maximize your minimum gain and minimize your potential loss.
The EROEI principle is simply to choose the maximum profit everytime without considering the situation.

Supposing you had a game between oil with a profit of 20 in pre-peak times and oil shale with a profit of 1 in post-peak times when there is no oil. When there is oil, there is no oil shale and when there is no oil, there is only a profit from oil shale.


Well, fill out the matrix in the link above with 20 upper left and 1 in the lower right and zero in the other places.
You'll notice that the proper conservative (mixed) strategy is choose the lowest profit option over the most proftable entry by the odds of 21:1.
This will keep you alive in the game in the long run.

Notice if there is any oil left post peak you'll develop a saddle point and oil will 'dominate' oil shale(arrows appear).


where oil is available but slightly less profitable than shale you will get the same result as in the first matrix.

So if you believe that one day the oil will dry up
completely, you'd better be willing to consider oil shale.
Did you know that at one time(19th century) Britain got almost all its petroleum from oil shale(Lothian)?

Hehe..disproving EROEI with game theory

Not to worry, conservationist, New Zealand has saved you:


LOL! By the way, you forgot the sarcanol tag.

I think Con really believes there is oil everywhere, it is just a liberal plot to deny him his divine right to prosperity, and promote communism.
Of course, I'm keeping an open mind, and can't wait for all that shale to save the American Way of Life.

Yep. It's all right here in this video:



I think it is Leanan having fun with the rest of the TOD commenters.

Leanan's on vacation, presumably working on her RBI. Gail's good at pitch hitting with these reductio ad absurdum op ed pieces though.

Peak Oil theory is "put forth by the liberal establishment and the geo-socialists"? Just like global warming!


Hoki is one of our (formerly)most common fish species. If the oilfield proves to have any reserves, it will probably be overproduced in the same way as our fisheries stocks, with no benefit whatever to the nation.


the obama admin is probably also against developing the vast resources contained in baked potato(e)s.

Unless there's a "government plan". Then they would be for it.

Lets skip the shale, and go for the granola, a better energy source.

The Pentagon is preparing to make troops available if necessary to help the Federal Emergency Management Agency tackle a potential outbreak of the H1N1 virus this fall.

By the time FEMA responds, the flu epidemic will be over......Then the pentagon can send in the tanks to stop the civil unrest......

As the oil production decline steepens over the next few years, vaccines and other medical supplies may become scarce due to costs of production and lack of transportation.

No kidding. This is why our federal space program is so excited about getting humans to Mars and beyond. The whole planet it screwed.

We should be going to Venus instead of Mars.
Venus gets *more* solar energy than Earth, Mars gets less!

If it's cool enough underground...

Not doubting you, but do you have a source for your first paragraph?

Thank you.

No more TV, son.

Go on Outside for some sun and make some friends to play with.

With all the recent Campfires about consumption, competition and human nature, you might find this interesting. I don't know where to begin on this. I guess it's one way to reduce consumption, and it's one social reaction to economic decline.

They are young, earn little and spend little, and take a keen interest in fashion and personal appearance -- meet the "herbivore men" of Japan.


Zimbabwe's Mugabe victim of Alternative Fuel scam

When Nomatter Tagarira, a spirit medium, claimed that she could conjure refined diesel out of a rock by striking it with her staff, ministers in Robert Mugabe’s Government believed that they might have found the solution to Zimbabwe’s perennial fuel shortage.

She found a bowser that maybe dated back to the 70s. She ran a pipe down to a rock and had an assistant turn on a valve when she hit the rock with a stick. The government officials were suckered in, gave her some cash, and a farm.

LOL! Damn, and I was so hoping that I would be able to pull the same scam on some future American Warlord, so that I could live out my last days in splendor. Nomatter screwed it up for the rest of us.

BTW, she has a Terrific first name. Should have been the first clue to warn off Mugabe. I bet her kids are named Cold Fusion, Perpetual Motion, Zero Point Energy, Cornucopian, Singularity, et al. :)

Edit: to add 'able' above

Wooden Tires and Chicken Fuel

The following link is basically a converted Kawasaki KLR650 M/C:

Fuel Mileage 46.6 kpl @ 90 kph (96 mpg @ 55 mph)

compare to virtually the same model running on gasoline:

Fuel Mileage23.3 kpl @ 90 kph (55 mpg @ 55 mph)
I would someday like to get hold of their diesel M/C motor to wedge into an aero-sleek, street-legal, single seater, very lightweight, recumbent trike as it probably might get 200 mpg. I hope Kawasaki Industries offers one for sale soon.

Hydrocarbon fuel is likely to get too expensive with the liberals in charge and all. Better get you one of these:


Hello TODers,

I encourage you to read the entire link:

Fed-up South Africans lash out at Zuma's government

Violent protests have erupted in about 20 townships as the urban poor who backed the ANC grow angrier about the lack of improvement to their lives.

.."This is not going to stop," political analyst William Gumede predicted. "I think this thing is going to snowball."
These people are fighting mad because they never got modern services. Imagine how First World consumers will angrily react when the modern services, that they grew so accustomed to having 24/7/365 that they took them for granted, are taken away when the blackouts & shortages become commonplace. Yikes!

Yep. They'll probably throw the liberals out of office.

I guess receding horizons now even extend to the Moon:

NASA's goal of putting astronauts back on the moon by 2020 is all but impossible to achieve, a presidential panel was told Wednesday.

An independent analysis concluded there is little hope NASA could replicate any time soon what Apollo 11 accomplished 40 years ago. And sources said an undisclosed part of the study showed it may take until 2028 — nearly 60 years after America's first moon landing — to get back.

"We can't see [the gap] closing," Gary Pulliam, an analyst with Aerospace Corp., told a near-silent audience in Huntsville, Ala., where engineers at the Marshall Space Flight Center have spent the past four years designing new rockets for NASA's Constellation program.

One NASA analyst, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak on behalf of NASA or the review panel, said astronauts might be able to return to the moon by 2028, although another source said 2035 was more likely.
My guess is that postPeak problems here on Earth will be so overwhelming by 2035 that a moonshot will be the last thing on our minds. We may not even have sufficient weather, climate, GPS, and communication satellites long before 2035.

It has a lot more to do with the fact we've allready developed ICBMs so we dont need to have a nice political race to dress up weapons research.

Totoneila, was the landing of a man on the Moon in 69 peak humanity? Most households had one breadwinner, which provided for a rich life with a new car every few years, a vacation trip somewhere for a week or two, food was cheap, housing was cheap. A brand new Camero was 3,000 dollars. World population was still at a reasonable level. Oil was downright dirt cheap. New music hitting the airwaves was diverse and inspiring. No global warming or peak oil. Polar bears and caribou were not headed for extinction. Desertification, deforestation, ice cap melting and all the other maladies created by humankind were decades off.

Maybe Neil Armstrong's first step on the Moon was a small step for man, a huge leap for humankind, and a peaking of man's ascent, to be followed by an ever increasing pace of descent.

Could it be in 3,000 years, the landing of a man on the Moon will be folklore. Some will believe it while others laugh at the sheer audacity to suggest such an outrageous accomplishment.

Most households had one breadwinner, which provided for a rich life with a new car every few years, a vacation trip somewhere for a week or two, food was cheap, housing was cheap

As I recall, most people did subsistance agriculture if they made it to adulthood in 1969. The US was not typical. There was the persistant threat of global thermonuclear war, lower per capita median and average wealth globally and in the US, a war in vietnam and a draft... I have no desire to return to the halcyon days of the 60's.

The problems have roots in nasa management prefering over ambitious and money wasting plans before plans that actually reach their goals.

Of course, part of it too was that we were more lucky than is generally realized. There are a lot of things that could have gone wrong (as we found out on Apollo 13, and later on the Challenger and Columbia), and instead of a triumph we could have just had dead astronauts.

The real nature and extent of the risks was never acknowledged or discussed in public. However, anyone who was not totally stupid realized that it was indeed a risky venture.

There was enough at stake back then that everyone from the astronauts up to the President felt justified in taking the risks. I'm not sure there is as much at stake now, which is why they are being so risk adverse, which is why a return is receding into impossibility.