Drumbeat: August 24, 2009

Scenes from the Violent Twilight of Oil

Across the globe, oil is invoked as an agent of destiny. Oil will make you rich, oil will make you poor, oil will bring war, oil will deliver peace, oil will shape our world as much as the glaciers did in the Ice Age.

But how?

Oil is not a machine that can be disassembled or schematized for comprehension. It is a liquid. How do you coax secrets from a liquid? To know a person, you talk to him. To know a country, you visit it. To know a religion, you study sacred texts. Oil defies these norms of interrogation. It is a commodity that is extracted, refined, shipped, and poured into gas tanks with few people seeing it. It has no voice, body, army, or dogma of its own. It is invisible most of the time, but like gravity, it influences everything.

Over the course of eight years, I tried to solve this puzzle by talking with people who worked in the industry, visiting people who were touched by its operations, and taking a look not only at oil fields but the battlefields they have spawned. I met with oilmen in Houston, princes in Riyadh, lobbyists in Washington, roughnecks in Baku, warlords in the Niger Delta, leftists in Caracas, billionaires in Moscow, environmentalists in Quito, generals in Baghdad, traders in Manhattan, wildcatters in Midland, and diplomats in London. If you have conversations with people such as these, the topics you discuss include not just politics and economics but history, geology, geography, chemistry, engineering, physics, climatology, ecology, accounting, law, corruption, culture, psychology, anthropology, greed, envy, disease, ego, and fear. The world of oil is an intellectual as much as a physical space, and my years of journeying took me through a crude world that is as dark and amazing as the liquid that casts a spell on all of us.

(This article, and the Yergin one, are part of Foreign Policy's special report, Oil: The Long Goodbye.)

Pemex May Miss Output Goal This Year as Drop Worsens, Cera Says

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos, Latin America’s largest oil producer, may miss its goal of producing 2.65 million barrels of oil a day this year, said Alejandra Leon, an analyst with Cambridge Energy Research Associates.

Pemex, as the Mexico City-based company is known, may produce 2.6 million barrels, Leon said in a telephone interview from Mexico City today. The company will find it “difficult to reverse” a five-year output decline before 2012, she said.

Pipeline May Quench China’s Oil Thirst

LONDON — A pipeline set to join China’s energy demand with Russia’s oil supply will spur production and spark refinery construction and could greatly reduce Beijing’s need for crude from elsewhere.

Russian crude imports to China in the second quarter of this year rose by 30 percent from the first three months to average 346,692 barrels per day, a 37 percent rise year on year.

Currently, Russian oil flows to China via rail or ship, and until the East Siberian-Pacific Ocean pipeline is completed next year and a spur begins bringing in a predicted 300,000 bpd of Urals crude in 2012 it will lag while cheaper options are preferred.

Chinese vessel spotted in Shirakaba gas field area

A Chinese ship has been spotted conducting activities in the Shirakaba gas field area of the East China Sea, which Japan and China have agreed to jointly develop, government sources said Monday.

The government has asked China to explain what the ship was doing in the area.

Putting a price on walkability

How much is walkability worth? An intriguing new study suggests that people are willing to pay considerable premiums for houses in neighborhoods that are highly walkable — that is, where you can actually get to nearby stores, schools, and parks without having to hop in the car.

The study, conducted by a group called CEOs for Cities, looked at 90,000 homes in 15 different markets in the US, mashing up home sales data with “walkability” scores from WalkScore.com. (See the press release describing the study here, or download the study itself, in pdf form, here.) In 13 of the 15 areas studied, homes in highly walkable neighborhoods sold on average for $4000 to $34,000 more than homes in neighborhoods of average walkability. The pattern held in locations as diverse as Chicago, Tucson, and Jacksonville, Florida; only in Las Vegas were more-walkable neighborhoods less desirable than less-walkable ones. To the author of the study, Joseph Cortright, this suggests that neighborhood walkability is “more than just a pleasant amenity,” and deserves far more attention from politicians and other urban leaders.

Solar cell phones take off in developing nations

Kenya's biggest mobile phone company, Safaricom Ltd., launched the nation's first solar-charged phone this month. The handset comes with a regular electrical charger and a solar panel that charges the phone using the sun's rays, company CEO Michael Joseph told CNN by telephone.

Retailing at about $35, the phones were manufactured by Chinese telecommunications company ZTE Corp. Safaricom plans to make an initial supply of 100,000 phones available.

Mexico City bans stores from distributing plastic bags

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (CNN) -- Mexico City's thousands of stores went green Wednesday, as amended ordinances on solid waste now outlaw businesses from giving out thin plastic bags that are not biodegradable.

U.S. Refining May Drop by a Quarter on Climate Bill, API Says

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. refining production may drop by a quarter by 2030, making the nation more dependent on fuel imports, if the climate-change legislation approved by the House becomes law, the American Petroleum Institute said.

The Washington-based group, whose members include Exxon Mobil Corp. and ConocoPhillips, released a study today it commissioned on the legislation approved in June by the House. The Senate has yet to vote on the measure, which would cut greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent from 2005 levels by 2050.

The API said costs associated with the program will discourage refiners from running plants at full capacity. The report concludes that U.S. refining production may drop by 4.4 million barrels a day, or 25 percent, and investment in refining may fall by as much as $90 billion, or 88 percent, by 2030.

“This study clearly shows the devastating impact this legislation could have on U.S. jobs and U.S. energy security,” Jack Gerard, chief executive officer of the Washington-based group, said in a statement today.

Denninger: America Is Running Out Of Rope

The dollar is in the toilet and threatening to break all support levels. If it does, it may collapse to as low as 40, which will in turn rocket oil north to $300 or more and gasoline to $10!

If that happens it is too late to stop it and too late to reverse course. What we now know as a middle class will be reduced to sheer destitution - literal destitution.

...We are not on the cusp of recovery, we are on the precipice of disaster. Whether we avert it is an open question but this much is certain - if we wait until external funding disappears it will be too late to prepare and too late to act in furtherance of our nation's interests. When gasoline is $10/gallon as is heating oil the price of food will more than double, heating costs in the northeast will quadruple and millions will either starve, freeze to death or both. At the same time the ability to fund Social Security and Medicare will vanish - at the precise moment when it can't.

Titan’s Giant Tires Falling Flat in Alberta Oil Sands

(Bloomberg) -- Titan International Inc.’s bid to break into the oversized-tire market hit a roadblock after tires installed on trucks hauling Canadian oil sands lasted just 1 percent as long as expected.

Titan has halted production of 13-foot (4-meter) tires used on dump trucks to install pressure-monitoring devices, Chief Executive Officer Maurice Taylor said in a telephone interview. Four tires failed after 100 hours of work on the 400-ton trucks used to haul oil-soaked sand for Royal Dutch Shell Plc and other energy companies in Alberta, rather than the minimum expected lifespan of 10,000 hours, he said.

Canada's bloody oil

My people are dying, and we believe British companies are responsible. My community, Fort Chipewyan in Alberta, Canada, is situated at the heart of the vast toxic moonscape that is the tar sands development. We live in a beautiful area, but unfortunately, we find ourselves upstream from the largest fossil fuel development on earth. UK oil companies like BP, and banks like RBS, are extracting the dirtiest form of oil from our traditional lands, and we fear it is killing us.

We have come to call the tar sands "bloody oil". This is why, this week, I am coming to London to attend the Camp for Climate Action, with the aim of internationalising the campaign for a complete tar sands moratorium.

Detroit tries peddling produce like ice cream

DETROIT - In a U.S. neighborhood served by 26 liquor stores but only one grocery, a community group is peddling fresh fruits and vegetables like ice cream.

Five days a week, the Peaches & Greens truck winds its way through the streets as a loudspeaker plays R&B and puts out the call: "Nutritious, delicious. Brought right to you. We have green and red tomatoes, white and sweet potatoes. We have greens, corn on the cob and cabbage, too."

The truck set up like a small market brings affordable produce to families on public assistance, homebound seniors and others who can't reach the well-stocked grocery chains in the suburbs.

Experts call Detroit a food desert: More than half of its residents must travel at least twice as far to reach the nearest grocery store as they do to a fast-food restaurant or convenience store. Many shop at liquor stores and corner markets that carry few, if any, fresh fruits and vegetables.

Daniel Yergin: It's Still the One

Just because we have entered this new age of high-velocity change does not mean this story is about the imminent end of oil. Consider the "peak oil" thesis -- shorthand for the presumption that the world has reached the high point of production and is headed for a downward slope. Historically, peak-oil thinking gains attention during times when markets are tight and prices are rising, stoking fears of a permanent shortage. In 2007 and 2008, the belief system built around peak oil helped drive prices to $147.27. (It was actually the fifth time that the world had supposedly "run out" of oil. The first such episode was in the 1880s; the last instance before this most recent time was in the 1970s.)

However, careful examination of the world's resource base -- including my own firm's analysis of more than 800 of the largest oil fields -- indicates that the resource endowment of the planet is sufficient to keep up with demand for decades to come. That, of course, does not mean that the oil will actually make it to consumers. Any number of "aboveground" risks and obstacles can stand in the way, from government policies that restrict access to tax systems to civil conflict to geopolitics to rising costs of exploration and production to uncertainties about demand. As has been the case for decades and decades, the shifting relations between producing and consuming countries, between traditional oil companies and state-owned oil companies, will do much to determine what resources are developed, and when, and thus to define the future of the industry.

States of Play

"Big oil," as Daniel Yergin notes, isn't what it used to be. Forget the "seven sisters" -- those huge companies that dominated the oil business in the 20th century. Today, at least 80 percent of oil reserves are in government hands, and three quarters of the 20 biggest oil companies are owned by states, many of them struggling to meet the needs of their populations.

With the global economic downturn walloping companies large and small, it's worth asking: What happens to all that state-owned oil? After all, national oil companies, those state-owned petroleum giants that just last year were enjoying $100-plus-a-barrel oil, aren't immune from the recession. Their revenues have slipped as oil prices tumbled. Today many of them are hurting, and the big question is whether they are equipped to invest in the downturn. Lack of investment in the lean years could provoke a price spike -- or worse, a supply shortfall -- when demand picks up.

Not all national oil companies are the same, however. Operating costs vary wildly between the easy-to-drill onshore fields in Saudi Arabia and the expensive ones lying deep, deep off the coast of Brazil. Access to finance is another crucial, though little understood, part of this picture.

U.K. Gas Plunges on Excess LNG, Supplies From North Sea, Norway

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. natural gas contracts plunged on lower than normal demand and excess flows of liquefied gas and supplies from the North Sea and Norway.

Same-day gas dropped as much as 59 percent to 13 pence a therm as of 12:16 p.m. London time, according to broker ICAP Plc. That’s the lowest since October 2006 and equal to $1.49 a million British thermal units. A therm is 100,000 Btus. Gas for the rest of the working week dropped 6.95 pence to 16.05 pence.

Natural gas: The key U.S. energy source for the next decade?

Natural gas is experiencing a perfect storm of new technology, a reluctance to cut production, and a pricing anomaly that together may make it a dominant energy source in the U.S. in the decades ahead. How has this happened?

Saudi gasoline imports higher than expected

Saudi Arabia imported 51,114 barrels per day (bpd) of gasoline in August, higher than expected by traders, due to stockpiling ahead of Ramadan, industry sources said.

The world's top oil exporter, which was expected to import about 34,100 bpd of gasoline this month, came into the spot market to purchase an additional two spot cargoes of about 30,000 tonnes, or 256,000 barrels, traders said.

The additional spot barrels were put into the kingdom's strategic storage, they said.

Energy security to become big issue says expert

An international relations expert says the politics of energy will be as important as the rise of China and could be more important than climate change.

Emeritus Professor Stuart Harris has told an Australian National University seminar that energy issues have the potential to spark conflict over existing disputes, in areas like the South China Sea.

Professor Harris says the issue of energy security needs to be given the same attention as the challenges posed by the rise of China.

"It's in my view, becoming increasingly difficult to look at international relations without looking at energy," he said.

Mexico's EPR 'Guerrillas': A Nuisance or a Threat in 2010?

In this time of unprecedented violence and criminal activity throughout Mexico, the last thing President Felipe Calderón’s government needs is a guerrilla group resurgence. But is the chaos in some parts of Mexico tempting those who seek to end the democratic state?

Jan Lundberg: Natural Gas Scam and Folly Again

Top Inside-the-Beltway Democrats are trying to serve up a two-decades old fiasco again: touting natural gas as the "bridge fuel" for a renewable energy utopia. Fossil Fuels Policy Action looked at this in 1988 and rejected the idea's environmental and energy-security premise as well as its ethics. Basically, this new "agenda," as they call it, is the same scam as the late '80s -- it had its way, ran its course, and look where we are now. Natural gas in its easily recoverable state was exploited past the comfort level, causing a resurgence of coal and a near-resurgence of nuke power.

'Cash for clunkers' deals siphon vehicle supply on lots

Dealerships are seeing a shortage of cars, particularly fuel-stingy models popular in the government program.

Is the world really running out of oil?

The press, and especially those in the Western hemisphere, seems obsessed with the idea of the world quickly running out of oil supplies. This is not a new phenomenon. For some time now, there have been no dearth of pundits clamoring and arguing that world oil supplies are coming to an end and that the peak oil has already been reached.

However, it may not be utterly ridiculous to point out that things are often highlighted out of context. Emphasis is laid on aspects that are often said with a perspective. There seems to be a different ax to grind.

Hence, on a Monday morning earlier this month, while at Schiphol on the way to North America, a story in the influential British daily newspaper, The Independent, caught attention with its catchy headline — “Warning: Oil supplies are running out fast”.

Mexico's Declining Oil Production: Clarion Call for Cantarell

The eighth largest oil field in the world will be dead by the end of next year. Shall I repeat that, or did you get it the first time? Like the Time to Die Speech of Rutger Hauer at the end of Blade Runner, the Cantarell complex has surely seen its share of ocean storms, human hopes, and stars since its discovery by a humble fisherman in 1976. If you’re wondering whether that fisherman has a name, the man who saw oil floating on the surface of the ocean as he gathered his nets, the answer is yes: Rudesindo Cantarell.

The days when you could find a supergiant oil field while fishing are over. Cantarell came late, in the oil age. That meant this global giant would receive all the best doctoring modern technology could provide. The result is that Cantarell was pumped out effectively and hard, especially after the technique to re-pressurize the field was adopted. This allowed for a spike high of daily production to be captured for several years, late in its life when a field would otherwise go into gentle decline. The result? Quicker monetization of the oil for the benefit of the Mexican state. But then the price: a catastrophic, fast crash.

Oil Trades Near 10-Month High on Optimism for Economic Recovery

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil traded little changed, after approaching a 10-month high in New York as rising equities bolstered confidence in the economic recovery.

Oil’s gains of the previous four days halted as the dollar strengthened against the euro, damping interest in dollar-priced commodities that can be used to hedge against inflation. Crude rose earlier, after an Aug. 21 report that showed sales of existing homes in the U.S. jumped more than forecast in July to the highest in almost two years.

No need for OPEC output cut in Sept - Iraq

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said on Monday he saw "absolutely no need" for OPEC to raise oil production at its September meeting.

Shahristani told Reuters in Istanbul that signs of global economic recovery would probably lead to increased oil demand in the near future, but at the same time crude reserves were higher than they had been in the previous five years.

Iraq’s Second Oil Bidding Round Needs Higher Fees to Succeed

(Bloomberg) -- Iraq, which awarded only one oil field contract in June because of disagreements over fees, needs to pay more to attract foreign bidders in the second round of licensing, according to former state officials and analysts.

International companies vying for the untapped deposits, including Majnoon, Iraq’s largest undeveloped field, want higher returns for working in a country lacking security and an oil law. Contracts to be awarded in November may be delayed until after a January election and revised if the government changes.

Mexico Oil Bond May Weaken Effort to Cut Budget Gap

(Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s plan to sell 13 billion pesos ($1 billion) of oil-backed bonds to shore up local government finances may weaken President Felipe Calderon’s efforts to rein in a widening budget deficit, according to an Invesco Inc. fund manager.

The bond, announced Aug. 21, will provide a reprieve for states and cities that have been forced to slash payrolls and reduce services as an economic slump cuts into their local tax take. The federal government will also give them an additional 13 billion pesos from a rainy-day oil fund, Finance Minister Agustin Carstens said last week.

Sinopec to Boost Overseas Expansion as Profit Surges

(Bloomberg) -- China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., Asia’s biggest refiner, plans “rapid” overseas expansion to secure oil supplies after profit reached a record and as the nation’s economic recovery spurs fuel demand. Shares rose.

The Beijing-based company plans to buy overseas assets, including acquiring Addax Petroleum Corp. from its parent, Chairman Su Shulin told reporters in Hong Kong today. Net income surged to 22 billion yuan ($3.22 billion) in the second quarter, Huang Wensheng, spokesman at China Petroleum, known as Sinopec, said by phone.

The Red Dragon's thirst for oil grows

While the United States continues its moratorium policy of locking up 85 percent of its natural resources from exploration and development, the Red Dragon is continuing her desperate quest for oil, locking up every oil deal it can get hold of.

China is now "Big Oil," knowing full well the world economic downturn provides economic opportunity. China is investing heavily to secure oil and natural gas concessions for their growing economy, which is growing at the rate of 2 percent in a time the world is in an economic recession.

Energy 'as vital' as China for new global power

A senior Australian international relations specialist says the changing economics and politics of energy will be as important as the rise of China in reshaping global power and that it could be more important than climate change. Emeritus professor Stuart Harris says energy issues have the potential to spark conflict over existing disputes in areas like the South China Sea.

Soaring int'l oil fuels expectation for China's price hike

Global economy is "beginning to emerge" from recession, said Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve on Aug. 21. Crude oil price rose to its highest level since Oct. 20, 2008 on hopes of world recovery the same day, with light, sweet crude for October delivery settled at 73.89 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). Soaring international oil prices have also increased expectations of refined oil price adjustment in China's domestic market.

LNG Demand May Rebound by 2013, Sparking Shortage

(Bloomberg) -- Demand for liquefied natural gas may rebound by 2013 and customers may face a shortage of the cleaner-burning fuel as the global economy recovers and new importing nations start purchases, a report said.

There may be a shortfall of as much as 30 million metric tons, or about 18 percent of last year’s consumption, in 2013 as customers add new import capacity, Tony Regan, a consultant at Singapore-based Tri-Zen International, said in a report today.

Coal Rally Ending as China Shuns Imports, Opens Mines

(Bloomberg) -- China’s unprecedented appetite for imported coal is about to be sated, jeopardizing a five-month rally in prices by adding to a global surplus of the fuel used in power plants from Perth to Chicago.

Dam disaster shows Russia 'very far behind': Medvedev

ULAN UDE, Russia (AFP) – The disaster last week at Russia's biggest hydroelectric dam that is feared to have killed 75 shows the country lags very far behind in technology, President Dmitry Medvedev said Monday.

"The only truth here is this. Our country is technologically very far behind," he said on a visit to the Siberian city of Ulan Ude.

Power Cuts May Threaten S.African Rebound: Week Ahead

(Bloomberg) -- The pace of South Africa’s recovery from its worst economic recession in 17 years is threatened by the inability of its national power utility to raise funds to build the power plants needed to keep the world’s biggest precious metal mines running.

China Air to Exit Fuel Hedges After Return to Profit

(Bloomberg) -- China Airlines, Taiwan’s largest carrier, plans to exit all fuel-hedging contracts, locking in paper profits that helped it end six straight quarters of losses.

“When oil prices reach $75 and above, we will get out,” Chairman Philip Wei, 67, said in an Aug. 21 interview at the carrier’s Taipei headquarters. The airline was profitable in the second quarter as hedging gains offset an operating loss, he added, without giving any figures.

Europe's Saharan power plan: miracle or mirage?

RABAT (Reuters) - A 400 billion euro ($774 billion) plan to power Europe with Sahara sunlight is gaining momentum, even as critics see high risks in a large corporate project using young technology in north African countries with weak rule of law.

Solar panel prices to slide into next year

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A steep fall in the price of solar panels has chipped away at manufacturers' profits this year, and relief is unlikely to come soon, as many in the industry believe pressure will intensify and push prices even lower into 2010 and perhaps even 2011.

Global demand for solar power soared last year until a pullback in solar incentives in Spain and a credit crisis that stifled financing for new projects led to a falloff in demand for solar panels and a global supply glut.

Wind farm debate splits property owners

Grant welcomes the chance to get into wind energy development and generate some income. His courting of wind developers however has put him at odds with some of his neighbors, who consider a large-scale wind farm to be the industrialization of their backyards in the sparsely populated region.

"My goal is to stay in ag, be able to pass on our generations of history," Grant said. "This gives us that opportunity."

As the nation's demand for renewable energy grows, landowners and governments across the West are wrestling with how to balance their cherished private property rights against the far-reaching visual impact of 400-foot-tall wind turbines and the transmission lines needed to move power to distant cities.

Fueling speculation: Researchers at Cambridge firm are tight-lipped about their secret ingredient for turning sunlight into liquid energy

CAMBRIDGE - Joule Biotechnologies Inc.’s secret ingredient - a designer organism - looks like green Jell-O before it’s refrigerated.

The stuff is kept behind several locked doors in an unmarked brick building on Rogers Street, where Joule researchers are still tinkering with how the organism, which no one here will name, consumes sunlight and carbon dioxide, then sweats ethanol. The 2-year-old company, which just made public news of its possibly revolutionary process, said that one day soon, its SolarFuel could be used to power vehicles. But until then, Joule officials said they intend to keep quiet about just what goes into their product.

On a recent visit, however, chief executive Bill Sims and cofounder David Berry did provide a peek at the Joule process, while dodging persistent inquiries about the mysterious fuel-making organism.

Nuclear Reactors the Lego Way

NuScale Power discusses how it can build a 1-gigawatt nuclear plant with an array of small reactors. And the power will be cheap.

Peak oil and climate change ... drowning in rhetoric!

These are both long-running or even stalwart themes of the late great consumer society. They only stretch back a decade or so to some people, but a whole lot further when you drill down a little -- looking for the right ice cores or pockets of remaining oil and gas. Today they provide the base, or in finance jargon the underlying security for an endless road show and conference business that stretches right around the world.

Not only thousands of Web sites, TV shows, press reporters and publishing houses extract value from dwindling oil and changing climate, but big business and big government have also adopted and absorbed these themes. Both big business and big government now get plenty of traction from what some call the two Great Causes of Our Times.

American Anger Is All The Rage

To explain the anger that Americans feel as "incidental anger" generated by bad economic times certainly sounds logical. But something else is stirring. There was anger in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s but there were no tea parties, town halls or liberty rallies for libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-Tex). The so-called anger is akin to the anger that many apparently felt once they'd read the original Bible courtesy of the Gutenberg Press. The various practices, rituals and rewards that the Roman Catholic Church had claimed were necessary to pass into heaven were nowhere to be seen, and eventually these distortions and lacunae led to the Reformation. Worshippers felt betrayed.

There are rituals - or at least themes - abounding on the Internet including Peak Oil, Environmentalism, Global Warming, Central Banking, Stock Market Investing, Retirement Planning, Fiat Money, Democratic Rule, Muslim Extremism, etc. In our humble opinion, these constituted the spiritual nourishment of the late 20th century. And bankers and money-men were (in hindsight) positioned via the media as Shepherds of the Age. The promotions of the monetary elite, buttressed by ever-higher barriers-to-entry, were designed (when married to actionable legislation) to generate an endless stream of wealth and control. But the Internet, in providing these promotions, also provided information to undermine them.

Call to protect organic farmers from cuts

AS THE Department of Agriculture announced a major review of the organic farming scheme here, the largest organic farming group has said smaller farmers should escape the cuts to agriculture spending.

The 1,000 member Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association said cuts, if essential, should be informed by a vision for the future shape of rural Ireland.

The association said it “believes that the growing economic consequences of climate change, peak oil and environmental regulation will make both smaller holdings and organic farming more and more viable in the future.”

The Merging of Climate Change and Energy

Whether one believes in global warming, climate change and our nation’s energy policies are merging. Rising global temperatures have become a divisive issue; many believe them to be a part of the natural cycle, while others point to the diminishing polar ice shields as proof that our emissions are killing our planet. Unfortunately, the issue is far from being definitively resolved. My view has always been that promoting clean air and clean water and reducing our dependency on foreign energy is a positive step forward. Once more, the sheer magnitude of what is at stake should dictate being open-minded. While the controversial American Clean Energy and Security Act offers some positive aspects, it falls short of providing the right policy. A more reasoned approach would be one that reduces our dependence on foreign sources of energy, funds research and increases production of clean domestic energy, and provides transparency of the true cost of changing our energy status quo. Here is the good, the bad, and the ugly of the current American Clean Energy and Security Act, better known as the “cap and trade” legislation.

Southern governors say don’t forsake oil, coal in clean energy debate

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) -- The South's governors worry that efforts to address climate change from carbon emissions could forsake their region's abundant coal, oil and gas supplies.

A global climate deal must be simpler, fairer, and more flexible than Kyoto

Negotiations on emissions in the run-up to the UN climate summit show no sign of the radical change we need.

Africa wants $67 billion a year to fight climate change

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - African leaders will ask rich nations for $67 billion per year to mitigate the impact of global warming on the world's poorest continent, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Monday.

Ten leaders are holding talks at African Union (AU) headquarters in the Ethiopian capital to try to agree a common stance ahead of a U.N. summit on climate change in Copenhagen in December.

Experts say Africa contributes little to the pollution blamed for warming, but is likely to be hit hardest by the droughts, floods, heatwaves and rising sea levels forecast if climate change is not checked.

Research finds higher ocean acidification off Alaska that could threaten fishing industry

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Erosion threatens to topple coastal Alaskan villages. Melting ice threatens polar bears. Now, a marine scientist says the state's marine waters are turning acidic from absorbing greenhouse gases faster than tropical waters, potentially endangering Alaska's $4.6 billion fishing industry.

The same things that make Alaska's marine waters among the most productive in the world — cold, shallow depths and abundant marine life — make them the most vulnerable to acidification, said Jeremy Mathis, a chemical oceanographer at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

China Nears Climate-Change Deal With U.S. Over Fuel Efficiency

(Bloomberg) -- China and the U.S., the biggest sources of the greenhouse gas emissions heating the planet, have stood in the way of an international climate treaty for almost as long as there have been efforts to craft one. The U.S. never ratified the 1997 Kyoto Protocol partly because the pact didn’t compel China and other developing economies to lower emissions.

Now, the two countries may be moving toward agreement on how to rein in the 40 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide pollution that comes from their cars, factories and power plants.

We believed Obama was going to tackle climate change. It isn't that easy

Barack Obama might be the most powerful man in the world, but he faces tough opposition from all sides over climate-change legislation.

McKibben: 'No development will be of use if Ganga dries up'

Climate change is not a fully mature political issue here. People need to be clear about the danger to development posed by not doing anything. What's the back-up plan if the Ganga's glacier melts? No car factory will be of any use if the monsoons fail. No development will be of any use if the Ganges dries up. We can go on negotiating, but the real negotiation is between human beings on the one hand, and physics and chemistry on the other. Physics and chemistry have laid their cards on the table. 350 parts per million (ppm) is the highest safe level of CO2 in the atmosphere. Above 350 is the danger zone. The planet now has 390 ppm CO2, and this number is rising by about 2 ppm every year. Certainly, India occupies the higher moral ground but that won't make the rains fall.

Fighting global warming with CIA?

A new debate is unfolding over whether linking climate change too closely with security planning will create a self-fulfilling prophecy, running the risk that the United States will rely too heavily on its armed forces to deal with global problems.

“Once you try to securitize the problem, you also securitize the solution,’’ said Adil Najam, director of the Boston University’s Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future.

“The solution to those problems is not in the Pentagon,’’ he added. “It is moms and pops driving SUVs.’’

Najam and a growing number of others fear that policymakers will turn to the military too quickly - dispatching naval forces to secure new shipping lanes in the resource-rich Arctic as polar ice recedes, for instance - or hand the Pentagon a virtually limitless mission to stabilize regions suffering from environmental dislocation.


I thought this idea was great. Ive wanted to use a "Kill-A-Watt" device to examine the phantom loads in my house. But you only really need to use it once to do the tests then you probably don't use it again for a long time. Maybe a once a year check?

So to have the local libraries lend these devices out is a great idea. Im going to ask my wife if she can go get one for me (she has the library card)

Who ever came up with this idea deserves a pat on the back. Im sure some taxpayers will want to hold a tea party to protest the waste of money :(

The idea sounds great on paper. I suspect however, that the widespread innumeracy and lack of understanding of science means few would have any clue what the results mean.

Our libraries are doing this, as are some local NonProfits. It's great, but also could use a little more of a boost..

I have one of my own, but need to check more of my appliances. A neat gift idea for friends/family is to come up with a little Notebook format so there is an easy and prepared way to use a KillAWatt and make some useful and sensible notes with the results. You could even come up with little KillAWatt games for taking tests with appliances under different conditions.

I connected a fridge to it for a month, but should also have noted the room temperature as well. If you have a portable dorm fridge, it would be neat to see how differently it performs in a cool basement or garage, or out on the porch in the winter, etc..

I'm typing this on the stoop out front of my house, squinting to see the LCD, and am reminded of my desire to make the backlight removable, and use a mirror/diffuser to reflect daylight in, drop battery consumption and see the screen better. This would even be great in my sunny office, where I'm sometimes compelled to close the shades and turn ON the lights in order to use the 'Puter.. Madness.


Hi Phil,

We have three Kill-a-Watt monitors in our home, and whilst that may sound excessive, all three are actively used. Our two heat pumps both operate at 115-volts and these devices permit me to log their consumption so that I know precisely how much electricity is used for space heating purposes over any 24-hour period. I combine this with hourly temperature data I download from Environment Canada -- we can thus model our home's heat loss with a reasonable degree of accuracy, wind, solar insolation and other internal heat gains notwithstanding (an average of 94-watts per °C when outside temperatures fall below 13°C).

Our electric water heater operates at 115-volts as well (an indirect water heater tied to our oil-fired boiler can be fired-up as required, but the electric unit supplies virtually all of our needs). This water heater consumes an average of 2.5 kWh/day on days when we shower only and 3.5 to 4.0 kWh when we run a couple loads of laundry; there is some seasonal variation tied to changes in inlet temperature and the type of clothing worn, e.g., bulkier and heavier items during the winter months translates into additional washer demand and increased water consumption per load. At just 67-litres, tank capacity is limited, so I use the readout to help stagger various demands, e.g., if the display shows a draw, I'll hold off running the next load of laundry until it shuts off.


We have three Kill-a-Watt monitors in our home, and whilst that may sound excessive, all three are actively used.

You sound a bit like me (although I only have one, and have mostly measured the things I want to). I have been reluctant to plug it into high power appliances as I seem to recall the directions implies it might only handle around a Kilowatt. What do you know about the risks to the device?

Like you I've been monitoring usage, versus temperature. In my case its cooling, and I've only fit the data to mimimum indoor temperature (how much heat can the house absorb before it gets too hot), and daily max temps. Imperfect, but there is simply not enough data for more than a few parameter fit to make any sense.

The big variables at my house, after the AC are the big appliances, washer, and especially clothes dryer, these are probably responsible for most of the noise in the usage data. In California summers you can pretty much consider insolation to be the same day to day (there is almost never a cloud).

Hi EoS,

The Kill-a-Watt meter is rated for 1,875-watts or a full 15-amps at 125-volts; at full load, the two heat pumps each draw about 1,500-watts or 12.5 amps, so they're well within its maximum rating. As you may recall, the Sanyo is a high efficiency inverter model (17 SEER / 9.3 HSPF) and it's the only inverter model I know that operates at this lower line voltage.

Interestingly, the electric water heater is supposedly equipped with a 1,500-watt element, but it seldom draws more than 1,200-watts. If I had simply relied on the nameplate rating, I would have overestimated its demand by roughly 25 per cent.

BTW, when we heated our DHW with oil, we consumed an average of 1.2 litres per day during the off-season, or the energy equivalent of 10.5 kWh at 85% AFUE. The electric tank uses about one-third that, due to its much lower standby losses (not a significant problem during the winter months but, obviously, something best avoided at this time of the year). And our fuel oil consumptions would be at least two to three times that if we didn't have a Tekmar control system.

Edit: Oddly enough, our oil tank was topped up this afternoon. It seems we've used a total of 79.8 litres (21.1 gallons) since our last fill on February 23rd, some 182 days ago. We didn't shut down the boiler until mid-June, so it would occasionally fire-up to assist the electric tank during periods of heavy usage (we've since decided to keep it off unless we have overnight guests). Going forward, I think we can reduce our fuel oil consumption to less than 100 litres a year -- during extremely cold weather, a small amount of hot water must be circulated through the pipes to prevent freezing, so I'll typically run the boiler for five or ten minutes before heading off to bed, whether this heat is required or not; otherwise, expect problems the following morning (ask me how I know).


Jay Hanson just posted on his list a short review of Vaclav Smil's latest book.
Global Catastrophes and Trends: The Next Fifty Years

I just got Smil's book and he's obviously biased. No mention of overpopulation and he echos Julian Simonesque arguments against peak oil. He even cites our old pal Morris Adelman.

On the other hand, Smil devotes barrels of ink to the likelihood of super volcanoes, asteroids striking the Earth, and the like.

Don't buy Smil's book. It's half politics and not worth a dime.

On Amazon.com the book has only one review and he gives the book 5 stars. The review reads in part:

He questions the estimate that peak oil production will be reached between 2012 and 2020 because (1) estimation models are simplistic, (2) many past estimates have failed, and (3) published reserve estimates are not complete or to be trusted....

His discussion of global warming stresses the limitations of our knowledge.

In other words we are all as dumb as dirt and don't know anything about the future of the oil supply or global warming. What would we do without the Vaclav Smils of this world?

Ron P.

"He questions the estimate that peak oil production will be reached between 2012 and 2020"

So does da Rat. We're here, dude

Naturally! Rattus rattus is a human commensal. We provide the food, they (generally) do no harm. Mus musculus and Columba livia, too.

Too bad if Smil's gone bogus. I remember enjoying his '97 "Cycles of Life: Civilization and the Biosphere." Thot it was a good popularization of Schlesinger's classic text.

(1) estimation models are simplistic,

It really doesn't matter whether a model is simplistic or complex, it's whether the results are valid or not that matter.

(2) many past estimates have failed,

This is irrelevant, another "it hasn't happened before, therefore it will never happen" argument.

(3) published reserve estimates are not complete or to be trusted....

This one could go either way. The reserves could be higher or lower than published. This would seem especially true for US and OPEC reserves.

Can't see how any of the above arguments can be used to refute peak oil.

'Simplistic' is not the same as 'simple' though they are often confused:

dictionary: simplistic |simˈplistik|
treating complex issues and problems as if they were much simpler than they really are : simplistic solutions.

thesaurus: simplistic
the proposed solutions are too simplistic facile, superficial, oversimple, oversimplified; shallow, jejune, naive.


simple |ˈsimpəl|
adjective ( -pler , -plest )
1 easily understood or done; presenting no difficulty

He's saying that the peak oil analyses are inadequate for the task.

He's saying that the peak oil analyses are inadequate for the task.

For once we agree - we will only know we have passed the final peak by looking in the rear view mirror, probably several years later! To refute real world data that says the world has now peaked using that argument is invalid.

Re: Daniel Yergin: It's Still the One

However, careful examination of the world's resource base -- including my own firm's analysis of more than 800 of the largest oil fields -- indicates that the resource endowment of the planet is sufficient to keep up with demand for decades to come. That, of course, does not mean that the oil will actually make it to consumers.

In other words despite the fact that I am the greatest astrologer that has ever lived and your horoscope indicates that the stars are perfectly aligned to usher in a decidely prosperous future for you and yours, one must keep in mind that the resolution of my astrological prognostications can't possibly account for that rather massive asteroid that is about to score a direct hit on your village. So please just continue to pay my talking fees...

The link to the Foreign Policy article actually takes you to page 4 rather than 1. Page 1 is here:


I didn't find much of interest in the article anyways, just typical Yerginite "I know my stuff" goings-on. I still appreciate The Prize though.

Yes, Danny, the world won't run out of oil... But, it won't pump it fast enough to keep up with demand... You might want to take a trip to Texas, the North Sea, or Cantarell to see what we mean.

I double-dog-dare Daniel Yergin to come to this year's ASPO-USA conference to present his revisionist views of the world. Some of that "careful examination" he prescribes might reveal him to be a fraud.

""(It was actually the fifth time that the world had supposedly "run out" of oil. The first such episode was in the 1880s; the last instance before this most recent time was in the 1970s.) ""

This remains the strongest argument against PO. Once this is reached in a discussion, it just goes round and round, at least in my tirades. People shift back to their biases, and no reason can dislodge the belief.

Robert Rapier's warning of a few years back, to avoid calling peak for the derision a false call generates, is appropriate.

We are at peak, but convincing otherwise is like telling some that the Moroni's gold plates never existed.

If we have not reached peak oil, we should use our reprieve to create the conditions under which our future is viable when peak oil does occur. Peak oil or not, the profligate use of fossil fuel is a recipe for disaster. This debate is so maddening because we should cut our oil use regardless. But then, that would require us to look beyond a few decades.

In the mean time, we will continue to cool beach sand In Dubai.

Arguing about when peak oil is futile, especially with those who choose to frame it in a dishonest fashion. Yergin wants to talk about running out of oil, a convenient straw

"Robert Rapier's warning of a few years back, to avoid calling peak for the derision a false call generates, is appropriate."

sir rapier doesnt seem nearly as concerned about derision when resources are called reserves. to avoid derision, just call peak oil a thought experiment and no derision can be cast by decree of sir robert.

Haven't we covered this ground in excruciating detail? When the conversation is "Speculative" - which it was - does it really matter if it is a "speculative reserve" or a "speculative resource"? The whole point of the essay was merely to ask "How big is that number?"

Further, as has been pointed out to you several times, all of the original press releases - which the original essay was written from - talked in terms of reserves (which I quoted directly). Gail plucked the essay from my blog as it was originally written - almost a month and a half after I posted it.

Just get over it. Try to comprehend what the word "speculative" actually means, and then look around and notice that you seem to be the only one complaining.

.. and Elwood, please consider knocking off the sarcastic 'Sir Robert' stuff.

It really only makes your own argument and stance appear to be petulant and purely personal. Please, stick to the issues.

Surely you've noticed how unimpressive Limbaugh comes off when he calls President Obama 'The Messiah', right?


""(It was actually the fifth time that the world had supposedly "run out" of oil. The first such episode was in the 1880s; the last instance before this most recent time was in the 1970s.) ""

Such things are said by people who don't understand the term "peak". The movement is not called "Running-Out-Of-Oil", its called "Peak-Oil". Hell of a difference.

World is running out of oil since the first day oil was started to be extracted. Nobody can dis-agree on that point. The inorganic theory do not pass the simple physical facts.

Peak oil can easily be proved on basis of two natural and very obvious and heavily tested facts:

1. All individual oil fields when allowed to operate at full capacity (that is irrespective of geo-politics) make a normal curve of production (volume of extracted oil on y-axis, time on x-axis) in its life time.

2. A group of normal curves when combined makes an aggregate normal curve.

Since total world oil production at any time (since 1859 when first commercial oil field started operation) is an aggregate of individual oil fields therefore according to point 2 above it follow a normal curve.

Once that is established the peak is easy to be proved. All normal curves have a rise, a peak and a decline.

Another way to prove peak oil is that, in all normal curves, first there is rise with increasing speed (the first phase of rise), then there is rise with decreasing speed (the second phase of rise), then there is no rise, this is the peak point, it can be a little plateau too but given the length of history of oil extraction compared with the length of plateau it still is very close to a peak than to a plateau, once peak is passed there is decline, first phase of decline is with slow decline rate, then the decline rate increase until the resource no longer is significant.

The increase in rate of decline later in the decline was correctly pointed out by west texas.

IMO, Yergin speaks to wall street and inside the beltway. He is the respected authority, therefore his veiws represent the prevailing truth along with API. TPTB will unfortunately make policy accordingly.

He'll not engage in dialog w/ ASPO. Why should he bother with a few "alarmists?"

I agree with you in general, but that is the supreme irony of this statement, which I comment on downthread:

In 2007 and 2008, the belief system built around peak oil helped drive prices to $147.27.

In one instant, he dismisses ASPO and like as a fringe, but in the next he feels compelled to explain high prices as a consequence of peak oil belief. Does Yergin really believe that the mere concern for peak oil (hypothetically belying any fundamental underpinning) is enough to drive oil markets?

Maybe, just maybe, we are in stage three of Ghandi's progression:

First they ignore you ('This is the third time in 30 years Peak Oil has been proclaimed')

Then they laugh at you ('Peak Oil is garbage')

Then they fight you ('Peak Oil belief caused the price spikes!')

Next, Peak Oil will win. (a hollow victory, to be sure...)

Excellent point. Right now he is the king's minstrel. There will be lots of crude oil until there isn't and by that time Yergin won't matter. That point and many others (multiple dismissed black cygnets) is why I am a confessed doomer. Who would ever want to live in uninteresting times anyway?

BTW: I just finished our solar powered food dryer this morning. Right now it is out in the sun and the inside the box temperature with all the vents closed is about 160 degrees F. Vents open, it will be down to about 120. A friend gave me some windows he replaced with better ones so my dryer is a few inches bigger than the one in the book. Tomorrow we will dry a load of zucchini and tomatos.


Or, as my slightly edited segment from the article immediately below Yergin:

Access to finance is another THE crucial, though little not at all understood, part of this picture.

As I have been saying, it really doesn't matter how much is in the ground. There is only so much money that the global economy can come up with to find and extract it, especially in a stagnating or declining economy. As the marginal cost of extracting new oil goes up, that limited money acquires less and less new oil. If that means a lot still remains in the ground, then that may be fine and dandy, but makes little difference for those of us living above ground.

I don't think it is a coincidence that there are multiple Yerginesque attacks on peak oil today. Price of oil is up and various interests are undoubtedly funding another disinformation campaign. All the pieces appear in parochial trade publications. I was unable to log in to post a comment to Yergin's article and when prompted to notify the web master, my email was returned. Hmmm....

I think the FP articles are partly because of the big anniversary. August 28, 1859 - 150 years ago this Friday - Edwin Drake drilled the world's first commercial oil well in Titusville, Pennsylvania.

Silly person! Don't you know by now that everything of consequence happens in the US first?

"Upon Drake's first drilling success in Titusville on August 27, 1859, the well produced 25 barrels of oil from a depth of only 69.5 feet" - Encyclopedia of Earth.

"Canada would be thrust to the forefront of commercial oil production when James Williams drilled the first oil well in North America in 1857. The first commercial oil well was situated in the southwestern Ontario town of Oil Springs ... the oil was extracted at a rate of 37 barrels of oil per day. Williams built and operated a local distillery from which he refined and sold kerosene." - Government of Canada Key Economic Events

I suppose Drakes well was deeper, thus justifying the std. US revisions to history to ignore Canada. A. G. Bell would understand. ("Returning home to Brantford Ontario after six months abroad, Bell continued his experiments with his "harmonic telegraph".) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Graham_Bell#Canada


Americans refuse to recognize records in their Northern territories. :)

Actually almost all modern technology was invented in Russia,you can consult old issues of thier history text books for verification.

...careful examination of the world's resource base... indicates that the resource endowment of the planet is sufficient to keep up with demand for decades to come. That, of course, does not mean that the oil will actually make it to consumers. Any number of "aboveground" risks and obstacles can stand in the way, from government policies that restrict access to tax systems...

In other words, don't allow environmental concerns to restrict drilling and don't tax windfall profits. Subsidize exploration and production, rather. Give the oil companies a free hand. This is propaganda on behalf of those who profit from unrestricted exploitation, plain and simple. He is nothing more than a shill for those who can well afford to buy his mouth. "...various interests are undoubtedly funding another disinformation campaign." Yep, you got it.

Price of oil is up

That's an understatement, Brent is up from around $45 a barrel to around $75 in six months - about 333% annual rate, yet another bubble I think! At the very least (despite yergin's assertions) that indicates supply is constrained (for whatever reason!)


It was the price of oil going up waaaay more than wage inflation that conviced me we were close to peak back in 2004, now real world data (despite Yergin's pontifications) confirms my expectation we are now post Peak.

I just don't know 100% for sure if this is the final peak, but that doesn't really matter as it's very probably the final peak for me which requires a different life strategy to prosper on my experienced downslope.

OPEC is controlling the price more than geology right now because they are controlling marginal production. I wouldn't use the current price to make a point about oil peaking. (If that's what you were doing; I'm not sure.)

The volume data says we have peaked, IMO the price says the world's economy can't afford the price and grow, again, so I expect it to be a another 'bubble' killing off any 'greenshoots'.

I'm thinking its the expected post peak volatility. $30 is too cheap for many oil producing countries now. $80 is too expensive for many industries that use oil.

I'm expecting another drop in oil and the stock market this fall. Commercial real estate is going to start defaulting as well. The recession is going to continue for a while.

"Commercial real estate is going to start [has started] defaulting as well."

I especially love this quote from Yergin:

In 2007 and 2008, the belief system built around peak oil helped drive prices to $147.27.

Please help me understand why an influential consultancy like CERA, with its belief system built around abundant oil, repeatedly expounded on places like CNBC, was unable to help prices stay below $40...

His use of 'belief system' was Freudian...;-)

I am waiting for the day 2012-2013ish when Yergin is called to the White House to advise on energy crisis and he gets on national TV saying 'we have predicted that the oil situation would be dominated by above ground factors for a long time now - people didn't listen', or some such..

Charisma and confidence trump facts. Depletion (so far) has trumped technology. Theoildrum has (so far) trumped CERA, not because we know more about oil, but because we have thought about more than just oil. Society has not benefited much from any of the above however.

The more people I talk to about the world, the energy situation, the credit crisis, the more I am struck by how few highly intelligent people think in systems/multiple inputs outputs. Peak Oil will never again be just about the number of hydrocarbon molecules underground (nor was it ever really). It will be about the flow rate, and subsequent decline rate due to technology building bigger straws, the ability to finance, the ability for social democracies to afford, the amount of non-energy limiting inputs, and geopolitics - how can CERA keep track of all that and use anything more than a 5-10% confidence level?

It will be about the flow rate, and subsequent decline rate due to technology building bigger straws, the ability to finance, the ability for social democracies to afford, the amount of non-energy limiting inputs, and geopolitics..

It will also be about the consequences of dumping massive amounts of oxidized carbon into the atmosphere & oceans, triggering feedbacks that exacerbate environmental & socioeconomic problems until they combine synergistically to overwhelm the ability of ecosystems and cultures to accomodate them. Perhaps it isn't that intelligent people are incapable of thinking in terms of the inputs/outputs of complex systems; perhaps it's that they recoil in terror from the realizations that accrue from doing so.

Nowadays, terror is just a part of everyday life for me.

"You're lucky to be living in the End Times." -- J.R. "Bob" Dobbs


Holy Cow !!!!

That's it! I should sell my commodities company and become an Ordained Minister!

Why did'nt I think of that sooner? Who needs money? I can be saved, in more ways than one. What a deal.

Eternal salvation or TRIPLE your money back. Only the Church of SubGenius makes this guarantee.

The Church of the SubGenius is known for a standing offer that stems from the ordainment fee: "Eternal Salvation or TRIPLE Your Money Back!" The organization claims that if an ordained SubGenius minister dies and finds himself standing at the gates of "Normal" or "Boring" Hell, he will be personally greeted by Church founder J. R. "Bob" Dobbs Himself and receive a refund check for $90.00, along with a booklet titled, "How to Enjoy Hell for Five Cents an Eternity," which costs $89.96.

Yeah, yeah,
And I'll sell you some nuke war insurance, in case WWIII takes out your house, we'll guarantee to rebuild it, and will even put in a free pool for you.
Offer invalid in the event of a 'limited' exchange, only good for full-out launches.
Just send me 10 bucks a month.

DD - ya I forgot the environment -how could I??

(and in my experience peoples cognitive dissonance of terror emanates more about their own/their kids futures than any terror about environmental impacts) I really wonder what % of society would trade 10-20 years of future carefree bliss for a ruined planet after they're dead and vice versa. (not measured by a yes/no social science survey but via actual behavior)

..peoples cognitive dissonance of terror emanates more about their own/their kids futures than any terror about environmental impacts

Concerns over one's own/one's kid's future and those over environmental impacts are, rightly considered, one in the same.

I really wonder what % of society would trade 10-20 years of future carefree bliss for a ruined planet after they're dead..

Virtually 100%. After all, the world ceases to exist, for all intents & purposes, upon one's personal demise.

I think quite a few people would opt for living harder and having a world for thier kids and grand kids IF you could convince them that the choice is a real one.

Of course "if" is the mightiest word in English in addition to being one of the shortest.

Hello, I've been wondering if you could help me out.

I'll soon be a junior in college and I've been looking at different energy/environmental programs for graduate school. In my search I discovered that the University of Vermont had the highest rated environmenatal law program in the country and I remembered that you worked at the University of Vermont. I tried emailing you but I can't for the life of me understand how to use outlook. I'm looking for any advise you could give me on energy/environmental graduate programs.

Daniel Achstatter

Hmmm. This a tough question. I don't know much about the law, but in general I think the future of conventional education is highly overrated - a good way to get heavily in debt and lack future options. Society currently sends us signals that higher degrees are true fitness markers and therefore our friends and family encourage/are proud of seeking higher degrees -it depends on your ultimate objective - if it is to be a professor/teacher then that route might make sense - if it is to be 'successful', then choose something that you enjoy that is related to natural sciences or basic needs. Its my opinion (since you asked) that 'paper' jobs (like lawyers and stock traders, etc.) will be in far less demand a decade hence than today. As to Vermont, I would rank Vermont, OR/WA, Minnesota/WI as 1-3 in no particular order for social cohesiveness, progressive thinking, natural capital, low population density vs biomass, and access to water.

I wish you well -it is difficult to advise young people on what to do because the media is telling you something completely different and there are still many different trajectories that might occur - virtually all will end up with lower consumption per capita. My best advice is to do whatever you are passionate about and surround yourself with good people

-it is difficult to advise young people on what to do..

You think so? Pretty simple if you ask me: Pick up a hoe. Develop your callouses.

Four years ago, I talked to a graduating high school student, the daughter of some friends of ours, about what I thought was coming our way. She asked what she should major in. I suggested something related to agriculture. She looked at me like I had suddenly grown a second head. She graduated from college this year with a liberal arts degree, probably planning to go to law school.

Actually in longer future a law degree is probably about as useful as a degree in agriculture, eg. both about zero. Or have they begun teaching how to raise callus's with a hoe at agricultural colleges? I'd recommend studying general practice medicine (GP), dentistry, or if you want to get rich, how to produce medically useful anaesthetics with simple inputs.

I gave the same advice to my daughter who was interested in International Studies as a major. I suggested that instead of getting an undergraduate degree in International Studies (which is not a good choice as a major if international commerce collapses and NGOs lose their source of funding as government revenue and endowments shrink) that she study to become a General Practitioner. With a GP, she'll be able to work on rural health either in the US or overseas in underdeveloped countries.

I actually remember you talking about that - has it been 4 years?
Harvard just gave a seminar for high school teachers on Peak Oil - I actually think high school teachers can make more of a difference on peoples lives than college profs - they were a smart group - had assignments to read Beyond Oil, The Prize, Twilight, The Partys Over (which they called the 'downer' book). Asked lots of good questions. (Politely) laughed at my graphic...

... probably planning to go to law school.

It's scary how often one sees this refrain.

Either be a doctor (animal or human) or an agriculture specialist. Both of these fields should have promising jobs in future. Nobody would be caring about environment once the second phase of decline in world oil production start. There would be little jobs in energy sector, it would infact be an industry kicking more people out than taking in, a net negative employer.

In short, anything that can be operated without electricity is a good field to graduate into. A safe option is mechanical engineering, it can get you a good job post peak when world shift more to rail transportation and manual machines, it can also get you a good job even if we all are wrong and peak oil is far in future.

As detailed in my earlier weblink-supported postings, I would like to ask Yergin: if OPEC has plenty of high flowrate, cheap oil for decades to come, then why are they doing all that very expensive R&D into trying to extract the truly difficult, high-cost "barrel dregs" of their tarmats?

If OPEC had a geologic plenitude of those 'amazing & magic, light, sweet reserves' that they always talk about, then they should be content to just keep punching holes Jed Clampett-style for a long time to come versus funding tarmat research. I hope this topic comes up for discussion at the upcoming Denver ASPO Conf.

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

Case in point...

Petrobras announces 280 million barrel oil find

Brazil said it had discovered a new oil field off its south east coast, holding as much as 280 million barrels of light crude.

State-run energy giant Petrobras said it made the find in its vast Campos Basin, in water around 1,000 meters (3,200 feet) deep.

"Preliminary analysis indicates the presence of recoverable volumes in the region of 280 million barrels," a statement from the firm said.

Now, Brazil is looking at drilling under 3,000 feet of water, through whatever else is keeping the oil in place, at a highly increased cost and risk.

Now, considering that world oil consumption is 80 million barrels daily, this find is the equivalent of a whopping 3 1/2 days of consumption.

Yes, we are scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Hello Geckolizard,

Thxs for the info, and I see the point you are trying to make with Brazil's feeble 3.5 days of new oil, but expensive and difficult as this is to get out--it is NATURALLY still highly viscous crude--it is not the true petrol-dregs, it can't be easily compared to marlstone in CO, bitumen sands in Canada, or tarmats in OPEC such as beneath Ghawar [recall Simmons PDF link] or beneath Venezuela's depleting oilfields.

Tarmat extraction is more like spending a great deal of time & energy to get out the very last thin streaks of peanut butter that cling to the side [EDIT: bottom is more accurate] of the jar. In short: a superstraw works great in a soda-pop [light oil] or even a milkshake [heavy oil], but I don't know anyone that sucks peanut butter with a straw, or even trying to slurp the very last of it out.

Ghawar in 50 years...?

Ghawar now?

Bake. Stir in brine. Then you get Ghawar, and a lot sooner than 50 yrs.

LOL, thxs for the photo, but probably much less than fifty years:

Real Time Well Placement above a Tar Mat, Leveraging Formation Pressure While Drilling and Pyrolytic Oil-Productivity Index Technologies

2008, Society of Petroleum Engineers, Saudi Aramco authors

Recent development of a large oil field in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia achieved real time well placement above a tar mat by utilizing Formation Pressure While Drilling (FPWD) and Saudi Aramco’s Pyrolytic Oil-Productivity Index (POPI). Placement of 6 ⅛ in. horizontal power water injector wells in close proximity above an impermeable, undulating, tar layer posed a unique geosteering challenge. Additionally, a heavy oil layer of varying thickness exists above the tar. The uncertainty was to determine at what vertical depth fluid mobility stopped and heavy oil and/or tar began in the high porosity/permeability reservoir...
As I am not a SPE member, my brief read and analysis of this follows as:

1. Primary extraction tech did Not get this crude out.

2. Secondary extraction attempts by peripheral reservoir water-injection did Not get this crude out. This is the water-sweep override phenomena much earlier discussed by SS, Euan, and F_F, among others.

3. EOR by top-layer MRC horizontals and sidetrack wells did Not get this crude out as inherent super-K fractures allowed the increased water injection pressure & volumes to flow around these areas specifically targeted for extraction. See Voelker 594-page PDF Motherlode for details.

4. SPE 113550-MS above was ARAMCO's EXtraordinary Oil Recovery [EXOR] attempt to recover bypassed low permeability, heavy crude just above the tarmat.

A. Carefully Geo-steered "Placement of 6 ⅛ in. horizontal power water injector wells in close proximity above an impermeable, undulating, tar layer" does Not come cheap.

B. I think it is also logical to assume that they also drilled natural aquifer drive 'tunnel wells' below the tarmat to increase injection volumes. Again, not cheap compared to the Jed Clampett-style of very high ERoEI.

C. Again, this is expensive, but I think it is also logical to assume that they also placed carefully geo-steered MRC horizontals with downhole pumps near the top of this target area for extraction. They would want to roughly attempt to constantly 'cone' this area; suck up the released heavy crude & injection water before the it reaches any Super-K and/or migrates to the outside even-higher porosity soil layers [those layers already swept by steps 1-3]. No sense raising the overall reservoir water-cut average; Aramco is trying to control the water-cut as they work these bypassed targets.

5. Next step is obviously the very last gasp of tarmat extraction. But, even though the volume is mind-boggling huge, can they find a cost-effective, positive enough ERoEI tech/chem-method to fluidize this Crud-Junk to move it to the surface?

Inquisitive minds would like to know, IMO.

The big advantage ARAMCO has over Colorado marlstone [bitumen sands too?] is that they already have the injection equip, water-handling [GOSPs], and other infrastructure on the surface. Beats digging up tons of dirt to move it on trucks, with tires now wearing out at 100 hours.

A few more thoughts:

It would interesting to try and pin down Red Cavanaugh of the API to see what level of industry wide concern is building as we progressively more to more heavy and sour crude flowrates. Recall my recent posting whereby Mayan Sour, Heavy Crude sold for more than some light, sweet crude. Perhaps, this won't be such an uncommon anomaly going forward?

IMO, since reservoir dreg extraction by EXOR methods will be much more expensive going forward: the API member corps. should be concerned with a progressively changing light/heavy ratio optimization of the Entire upstream & downstream infrastructure so that adequate financing for continued ramping of sour & heavy can be achieved. Financial support for volumetric sour & heavy flowrates can do much to offset the industry tendency to focus on the 'easy fruit' of light & sweet.

I'm pretty sure that what the Brazilian government is thinking is that they are going to gross about twenty billion dollars from the find. As long as it costs less than that to get the oil out they don't really care about anything else.

edit: oops on the math

Gecko - you are not getting the point! You see this recent Brazilian find just goes to show that there is plenty of extra oil out there. You make the point that this find is only 3.5 days worth of global consumption but completely fail to realize that all we need to do is find a million similar fields and then we will have enough oil for 9,589 YEARS! There is plenty of oil, we just need to go get it.

Honestly! Peak oil, smeak oil..

Heinlein was on the right track.

"Most people can't think, most of the remainder won't think, the small fraction who do think mostly can't do it very well. The extremely tiny fraction who think regularly, accurately, creatively, and without self-delusion – in the long run, these are the only people who count."

Imagine everyone you could ever name that fit the above description, Jesus, Gandhi, Thomas Jefferson, Socrates, John Locke, Einstein, Pythagoras, Mandelbrot, Carl Sagan, Twain, George Carlin, Shakespeare, Asimov, we could name perhaps 25,000 people in recorded history. Now maybe multiply by 100 to account for people who were lost by history, that's about 2.5 million people.

In the last 5,000 years of recorded history, more than 25 billion people in total have lived on this planet. The people who count are between 1 in a million and 1 in 10,000 of the rest of the population.

The tiny fraction who think, pay attention, and give a fuck are always dwarfed by, pardon the accurate slur, the huge mass of all of the sheep. Sheep can be shepherded, screwed, sheared, and slaughtered. You can even train some sheep to perform special tricks.

But you cannot make them think, pay attention, or care about how things work. They are entirely social, reliant on authority and prophecy for navigation, and the physical world has always been an utter mystery to them.

If you think, pay attention, and give a fuck, getting out the way of the avalanche is the only option. All other options involve trusting people who are incapable of processing the world as you do, meaning you are required to be an active leader and shepherd.

Otherwise, you may as well call yourself King Canute and fully expect that the tide of sheep will not listen to you.

If we had believed that the top five net oil exporters had shown three years of collectively higher net oil exports relative to 2005, rather than lower, then I guess it is self evident that oil prices would have fallen back to the $38 range.

I actually encountered something like this when I debated Michael Economides in 2007 regarding Peak Oil. He produced an EIA graph showing higher Saudi oil production. I countered that the data tables that I had looked at showed lower production. He said that it was self-evident that production was higher--just look at the graph. It was only when I proposed a $1,000 bet over what the EIA data table showed that he admitted that he was talking about the EIA's estimate of Saudi "Productive Capacity."

It was only when I proposed a $1,000 bet over what the EIA data table showed that he admitted that he was talking about the EIA's estimate of Saudi "Productive Capacity."

He bluffed and you called him out. I'm sure he quickly changed the subject i.e., before the audience could ponder the difference between 'production' and 'productive capacity.'

I've told my "Julia Roberts" story a couple of times. Regarding "capacity," I pointed out to the audience that while I had the theoretical capacity to date Julia Roberts, the probability of it actually happening was rather low. Economides replied that he had actually dated Julia Roberts.

"Its self evident... Just look at the graph"
Thats priceless.

Im wealthy, just look at these $100 bills I printed out.

Which brings up the question of why are these people lying to us? Is it because they are making money at deluding people? or was it that he finally got interpretation of the data correct? If the former, who is paying him? If the later, is he still on board? If not why not?


YOU know he's a shill,and a damned good one,maybe the best in the world,and I know it,and probably 99 plus percent of the people who post comments here know it,but the WORLD doesn't know it,and even after gas hits ten bucks and flour is two dollars a pound,the average jerk on the street will believe someone like him quicker than you or me.

oldfarmermac -

Speaking of shills and the act of shilling, Yergin is one of the best, but hardly the only one. There is a whole army of think tanks, non-profit organizations, foundations, etc. out there who are little more than a front for a whole variety of major corporate interests, along with those elements of academia and the political establishment that serve said interests.

Their main purpose in life is to do seemingly impartial analyses of 'key contemporary issues', to host forums on those issues, and to churn out a never-ending stream of publications presenting the results of their work. In other words, indirect lobbying without the sleaze of direct lobbying, or 'soft lobbying' if you will. The whole idea is to 'colonize' issues that could affect corporate interests and to control the contours of the debate to help protect those interests. They are very good at what they do.

Just the other day I got my latest issue of 'Resources' a very slick and nicely done free quarterly publication put out Resources for the Future, a Washington, D.C. based non-profit. (I got on their mailing list a long time ago when I was doing environmental consulting work.) As best I can describe, their whole thrust seems to be to defend the status quo and to provide cover for corporate interests, all under the guise of impartial economic and policy analysis. Nothing painful is ever proposed. In fact very little action is proposed at all.

However, one can get a little closer to what they are really about by looking at the list of their board of directors. There are at least four retired CEOs of some of the real biggies, like BP America, Chevron, Rio Tinto Energy Group and a major utility; an environmental executive from DuPont: one or two from what appears to be the 'financial services industry'; plus a few high-powered academic honchos, lawyers, and ex government officials to fill out the roster. It couldn't be any more establishment.

These are the people who determine what studies Resources for the Future undertakes, the scope of those studies, and who have final say as to the content of their 'Resources' publication. It's all very slick and under a thick academic veneer, but when you get right down to it, it functions as a sort of intellectual filter. Innocuous, indecisive mush flows out, but controversial and sensitive discussion never sees the light of day.

I've always maintained that it is entirely possible to lie while still telling the literal truth. It's all about 'content management', and the lies and deceit come into play in the selection and rejection of specific content.

Pravda was never this good.

Joule ,

I agree whole heartedly.

You said it well.

The arts of public relations,advertising,and psychology have merged into a new variation of Big Brother,and he grows bigger and more powerful as we watch.

But they say that God looks after fools ,drunks,babies and the United States of America.

We may last a while yet.

It is important first and foremost to understand the mindset of the people at the top - the people for whom Yergin and CERA and their ilk work. That mindset is that failure/decline/collapse is not an acceptable option, therefore, they must and will do "whatever it takes" to make sure it doesn't happen.

Of course, we all know that there is no "whatever it takes" that can possibly prevent it from happening, but that is a paradigm shift that these people are simply not capable of making. They are too invested in BAU. It is that BAU that has gotten them where they are, and they know full well that its demise means their demise.

"Whatever it takes", by the way, does not exclude disinformation, propaganda, and outright lies; nor does it end with those. The people at the top are sociopaths, and that means we would all be well advised to heed this warning: with these people, NOTHING is off the table if they think it might possibly help them to avoid failure/decline/collapse.

WNC Observer -

Right on!

The Establishment, the Powers That Be, or whatever you want to call the interlocking assemblage of insiders that control the combined government/corporate/financial world seem to be really getting antsy these days, and at this point I would put nothing past them in their effort to maintain the status quo and the position of privilege that provides. Not martial law, not summary arrests and internment, not engineered flu epidemics, not monetizing the debt and beggaring anyone with savings, not false-flag terrorist attacks, not fake wars ..... literally NOTHING. Desperate ruthless people do desperate ruthless things.

One sure sign that we're on the way down is that powerful, high-ranking people no longer seem to be concerned about being caught in engaging in criminal or unethical behavior and have become quite blatant about it, as they know the fix is in and the odds of them being held accountable are extremely low.

I think these raucous town meetings on health care are actually about far more than the obvious issue at hand, for they have become a lightning rod for an exploited middle class increasingly seething with anger. As more and more people come to the unavoidable conclusion that they have been royally screwed, there is more than a good chance that we're going to see some real ugliness in the not too distant future.

"Whatever it takes", by the way, does not exclude disinformation, propaganda, and outright lies;

"It is unfortunate, considering that enthusiasm moves the world, that so few enthusiasts can be trusted to tell the truth."

- A J Balfour

Pravda was never this good.

Had Pravda been this good, there would've been no need for the Soviets to have been so overtly oppressive.

What you describe is ubiquitous. And it isn't limited to lobbyists or think tanks or industry associations, either. The government does it, either directly or via funding 'initiatives' that do it. An example of the former is the little 'feel good' pub the USDA puts out, called "Agricultural Research." It features all this 'progressive' research into ways of promoting 'food security' that is nothing more than direct subsidization of agro-industry, to the detriment of the small farmer & public health. An example of the latter is the Bureau of Reclamations funding of the "Rio Grande Initiative" whose goal is to line all the small irrigation ditches with plastic and to replace flood and sprinkler irrigation with drip. The Netafim International Group, who supplies drip irrigation supplies, is all behind the Rio Grande Initiative, of course, and BOR funding constitutes a subsidy of this corporation that pushes plastics. The small ditch companies will bear the expense along with the environment, since ditch seepage supports prime habitat for wildlife. The spin is that it's all about "water conservation," of course. But it's all about pimping plastics, i.e, petroleum, and not about food at all.

These are just two examples of what you're talking about, out of hundreds. We, the taxpayers, fund propaganda & research that benefits corporations that work against our own best interests, and the motivational psychologists in their employ makes it all seem hunky dory. This is a far more sophisticated form of Fascism than Franco or Mussolini ever dreamed of.

"Friendly techo-fascism" -- the best brand of fascism there is!

Don't know where to fit this in, so will follow Daxtatter's OT question.

The doomsters are predicting dire things for the dollar in the near future, and a little pile of dollars presently in a university credit union is what I live on. Is there somewhere in Canada safe to park one's savings? Credit Union or (gulp) bank? I say Canada because we have some connections there, and it's close.

Be sure I'll check out any recomendations and not hold responsible anyone who ventures a suggestion.

We stewed around for a year and finally got out of stocks just before all the market turmoil. Now I'm afraid the dollar is just another dicey equity.

Do a little reading at "The Automatic Earth".

Check out the primers on the right-hand side-bar.

Share your conclusions if you don't mind.

If you're asking me, I only do business with a local credit union. Have been a member since the mid-80s. I think that it's safer than a bank and even if it isn't, I don't want to support a for profit institution. There's also perks with the CU I wouldn't get from a bank. Free help obtaining a mortgage, investment advice, etc. I don't know anything about Canadian CUs. Oftentimes, membership in CUs is limited to certain professions or you have to live in the limited geographic area they cover, so if you don't live in Canada you may not qualify for membership.

Do business only with a local CU-banker that is willing to give you his home and/or Eco-Tech Bunker address. That way you know where to go to get Your Share of Your Money when ALL bankers go DELETE ALL FILES *.* on their corporate computers simultaneously. /sarconal?

As I have iterated previously, never ask a fund manager if you should invest, never as a real estate agent if it's a good time to buy or sell and never ask a banker if his bank is safe place to leave your money and of course there are many more examples.

A person's ability to truthfully advise or comment can be influenced by pride (previous predictions, their perceived community status or simply dogmatism), by their financial status (their livelihood dependent on BAU), by their investments
and wealth (a continuance of denial and counter argument, reassures their past strategies were correct).

Examples can be found in the media. The interviewees are selected on their past performance, their ability to not be radical, to say "the right thing", tell us what they think we want to hear or even should be told. Yergin does an admirable job of that.

When the real estate game is trouble the media always interviews a real estate agent. What the hell do they think the agent will say..."don't buy, don't sell"?. Fund managers say "leave your investments, the markets will recover".

Who has the biggest agenda? The media trying to maintain a happy optimistic theme or the wealthy with the agenda of promoting BAU to exploit the sheeple to the end.
The appearance of normality WILL be maintained for as long as possible. It's probably the best strategy for those with power and/or money. Imagine the opposite. Imagine if "the people" were told the truth. That would never do, especially if your livelihood and status depends on being re-elected or maybe even avoiding the Guillotine.

I agree with your sentiment, eg. "move away from the $US", BUT am not sure the $Cdn is the place to go. It's probably better than the Lb Sterling, Euro, Peso, Yen etc. though, being largely commodity based.... Not sure. If you must go in $Cdn, deposits in any Cdn bank are insured to $60k, though interest rates are terrible. TSX is wedded to the DJIA, so don't go there. I'd recommend purchasing some real propery in some place where speculation hasn't raised prices ridiculously. Not farmland in good areas bacause speculators are already in there, eg. an acre in South Ontario now costs 4x in carrying costs what it can return in crop share. Best might be to invest heavily in a Cdn denominated share of something like a Potash or Uranium miner (enough reactors survive to use up present known resources?). Lumber IMHO makes no sense due to distance to market, dispersion of paper-making technology to better growing sites. Tar sands companies should be good, if you don't mind the "tarring" by ecologists (actually unfounded, but as above discussion says, facts mean little next to a good propaganda machine).

Now I'm afraid the dollar is just another dicey equity.

So is the Yen, the Euro, the Swiss franc, etc. especial the Chinese Yuan.
Loan guarantees from G20 nations governments account for 32% of last years G-20 GDP!~
China on pace to print $2 trillion renminbi this year, double last years pace - and there the pary officials control the money supply AND report the govt stats!

World has 2 quadrillion of notional securities on top of 55 trillion of GDP on top of shrinking energy gain. ALL currencies are dicey equities.

2 quadrillion?
You gotta link?

One of several aggregate estimates floating around - Ive seen higher - don't think anyone really knows.

We don't know how much of this is offsetting (e.g. small vol. currency swaps that have 7-9 zeroes notional and could be settled for 5), but still.

I think


My personal guess is that you should get situated in a spot that looks to be RELATIVELY safe and convert as much of your cash into hard long lived assetts as you can ,within reason-such as extra insulation for your house,a very fuel efficient small car,a garage full of non perishable items such as soap,toilet paper,boots winter coats,etc.

History indicates that inflation is in the cards and it is very unlikely that you can earn enough interest to outrun the price increases that are coming down the road soon.

And you can keep an eye on your extra soap easier than you can a bank or broker.

You did well to get out stocks etc,early ,now the question is should you get out of cash,early?

Thanks to all for the discussion. I'd not noticed "The Automatic Earth" links, and they're useful.

Oldfarmermac, your counsel is probably sound, and I hesitate to take it. We rent an apartment in Queens, NYC, and have no car. What I have is 78 years accumulation of junk, and I need to reduce it so 1. we could move quickly and 2. my young (50) husband and kids (40ish in San Francisco and Asheville) won't have to deal with it. My spouse has an intellectual community at NYU and we're helping a friend run for NYCity Council, so we're embedded here. I have no strong desire for self-preservation, but fear losing control. I know if the ATM goes, we're screwed.

Fear I am looking for simple answers, and real answers will require major changes. Thanks again.

(For clarity, I was married to a good woman for 18 years and now have been with a remarkable man for 27 years, married in Montreal in 2005.)

I am no financial expert but I deal with the "Cosral Community Credit Union" in B.C., Canada. I also have all my money in "CEF" which is a precious metals fund.

darwinsdog -

Indeed it is!

Sort of totalitarianism with a happy face, and liberal use of Vaseline.

the average jerk on the street my best friends and family will believe someone like him quicker than you or me.


Most of my family are fundamentalist Baptists and believe in the end if the world and are therefore primed to believe in peak oil-and even uneducated farmers realize that it doesn't RAIN oil,as it does water.I have heard an illiterate hill billy remark that if they are trying to bore a hole all the way to hell(hearing a newspaper article read about the off shore Brazilian oil at the local store) and risk disturbing the devil that oil must be getting short except "for what the sand xxxx are holding back." followed by "course long z hays going up ah hold off selling maoown long as ah kin."
Farmers are quick to recognize long term price patterns and are not easily fooled by temporary dips and spikes because crop and input prices behave in a similar fashion.

As far as friends go I have many acquaintances but count myself lucky in that I have at least two real friends.

I might have more friends if I could bring myself to suffer fools gladly.

Both are environmentally aware conservatives.I know that most people regard an environmentally conscious conservative as a hypothetical creature akin to the sasquatch, but they really do exist- a few at least.

Both of them visit the Oil Drum from time to time.

Hello FMagyar,

To finish your last open sentence: "So please just continue to pay my talking fees..." so that I, Yergin the Great, can build the most awesome Eco-Tech Bunker on a giant farm the planet has ever seen, plus have many other hidey-holes WTSHTF.

The future of airplanes: electricity

GM (MTLQQ) has earned high praise this summer – and deservedly so – for its announcement that the forthcoming Chevy Volt electric car will get as much as much as 230 miles per gallon for in-town driving.
But while Detroit was stealing headlines on the ground, a little-known Chinese company was doing something even more incredible in the skies.

At the OshKosh AirVenture show a few weeks ago, Beijing startup Yuneec International took the wraps off the world’s first commercially produced electric aircraft, the E430.

Powered by lithium polymer batteries, weighing close to a thousand pounds, and sipping about $2.50 worth of electricity per hour of flight, the E430 has completed more than 20 hours in test runs during the last couple months...

Little more has been revealed about the E430, other than some technical specifications and that it can operate for up to three hours without a charge.

I say electrify the rails, not the skies...

I say electrify the rails, not the skies...



So there ya go. If the plane had supercaps it could have gotten them charged up.

I think the right hand picture is of the failure mode if the supercaps are charged with too high a voltage. :-)

Out of curiosity, did that plane in the photo above crash or land safely?

The plane was fine, it was hardly fazed.

thxs for the link.

Hardly fazed, but rather tased!

This won't be replacing commercial aircraft any time soon. It's mostly of interest to recreational pilots or possibly initial pilot training. It's too small to carry much, and it lacks endurance for longer tasks.

There's a video of it on youtube that shows just what kind of scale we're talking about:


That looks like fun, though. I'd love one to tool around with. I used to do a lot of PC flight simulation and always had a dream of getting my pilot's license.

The other toy I'd love to have is this one:

A lot of the fun of my motorcycle but with greater safety...and the ability to wear normal clothes!

I'm about 1/3 of the way through my Private Pilot's license. It will probably stay that way for a long time, as I just can't justify the cost when I have so many other things to do with the money. At the flying school where I was training, someone had written at the top of one of the white boards in the classroom "There's a lot of money in aviation. I should know, I put it there!"

Right now, my wife and I are actually thinking about getting glider licenses. It's a lot cheaper and uses less gas to boot.

Right now all the 'extra' money I'm making is going to post-peak preparation...hard for me to justify even the cheaper glider license, unfortunately.

You could switch to sailing. Same principle except the wing's vertical and you don't get there as fast. A good boat is a lot cheaper than a plane and has international trade as well as residential potential. Very low emissions.

Electric powered planes could only be used for short hops. The weight of the batteries alone seriously limits the amount of passengers, and when those batteries no longer are capable of handling a charge... EEK!

Passenger airline service is one of the most threatened industries after peak oil.

I just love the Yergin article above!!
"blah blah blah resources for decades to come etc etc"
No mention of EROEI, which is the problem, the slowing flow rates.

Hundreds of shops and offices around here (outer Tokyo metro area) have "For Rent" signs. Car sales are down again. Roads near empty often. I mean the economy is literally running out of gas, quite literally, faltering due to lack of the ability to make enough machines move fast enough cheaply enough. What could be more simple to understand? What is so darn difficult about correctly diagnosing this problem and admitting we humans were true idiots to wall ourselves up in cement and asphalt?

Thousands of people turned out to hear politicians give speeches on Sunday (big election on Aug. 30) I`ve never seen this kind of keen interest (i.e. panic) before. The look on peoples` faces here in my town at the big-wigs` speech: serious, but doubtful, and really concerned.


[Sinopec] Asia's biggest refiner, plans "rapid" overseas expansion to secure oil supplies after profit reached a record and as the nation’s economic recovery spurs fuel demand. Shares rose.

The Beijing-based company plans to buy overseas assets...

Ok. Buckle up. Here we go...

I guess we are about to find out if there is enough oil to go around. I think we already know the answer. Let the battle begin. In the Western Corner we have heavily indebted countries, with no capital reserves, wrecked banking infrastructure, printing presses buzzing and governments running huge deficits. In the Eastern Corner we have countries with no debt, huge demand growth and buckets of cash.

Then again the US has 10 aircraft carrier groups and a quadzillion dollar defence budget (while the printing presses still have ink in them).

We live in interesting times....

I think its 12 aircraft carrier battle groups. But the Chinese don't have to worry. They are only a threat to countries that don't have modern missles. Or submarines.

The synonym for aircraft carrier is 'target'

there's targets and submarines
anom, and probably misquoted.

It's a classic submariner's saying "There's two kinds of ships: submarines and targets."

I don't know an original source, and for once google is wimping out on me.

Another article about the new gold rush:

Without prospects, they’re prospectors

"You have to consider the economy," said Gary Rhinevault, caretaker of the Lost Dutchman's Mining Association campground, where 45 prospectors pay as little as 30 cents a day to pitch their tents. "In 1932 there were more prospectors out trying to make a living than in the 1850s."

I have a friend who is an avid amatuer prospector and he is of the firm opinion that with gold near a thousand bucks he can find enough to support himself at least ot the extent of buying beans and bacon and Louis LAmour novels,as he puts it.

'No development will be of use if Ganga dries up'

Aw man. On top of everything else there is to worry about, now the Ganga is drying up. Guess we're just gonna have to grow our own.

Finally you say something funny!


(Doomer warning) Denninger makes a point on the ticker about the interest on the national debt reaching 6% of GDP by 2012. If it does hit 6% GDP in 2012, and if oil production is dropping at 5% too, then the US can kiss the dollar goodbye! Current gov't revenue is $2 trillion per year, and interest is $400 billion. When the interest exceeds 50% of the revenue ($1 trillion), the gov't will go under financially. All that will take is a few more years of trillion dollar deficits, and one or two interest rate hikes. We are not on the brink of recovery, but the edge of disaster!

Denninger was on fire today. One of his longest rants, and he's predicting black hole implosion, pitchfork and fire branding crowds.

Anyone else able to follow his whole screed? I guess I need to pop another window and check the USD index.

See currency chart below:

Currency US $ British Pound £ Yen ¥ Euro €
US Dollar $ 1 0.6093 94.55 0.6993
British Pound £ 1.641 1 155.18 1.1477
Yen ¥ 0.010576 0.006444 1 0.007396
Euro € 1.4301 0.871 135.216 1

Pennsylvania still doesn't have a budget:

Pennsylvania budget impasse takes toll on residents

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- In Pennsylvania, day care centers are closing. Food banks and libraries are cutting back. A school district is taking out a multi-million dollar loan.

Local governments and social service agencies are struggling to maintain services as lawmakers and the governor battle over how to close Pennsylvania's $1 billion budget gap. Democrats don't want to cut too deeply into services, while Republicans don't want to hike taxes.

I think a lot of states will be facing similar problems next year, if we don't get the hoped-for economic rebound to replenish government coffers.

In the red, U.S. school districts cut yellow buses

HOUSTON - As a mother of two, Feleccia Moore-Davis is accustomed to the usual back-to-school swirl of new supplies, new clothes and new routines. But this year, that final flurry of summer is accompanied by an unusual worry.

Moore-Davis does not yet know how her children will get to school.

Last month, the financially pressed Houston-area school district her two daughters attend decided to end bus service for students living within two miles of schools. Now Moore-Davis is contemplating the bustling intersections and streets without sidewalks the girls would have to navigate if they walked to school, and wondering whether her own work schedule can be reconfigured for drop-offs and pickups.

It is a dilemma facing thousands of parents across the country, as cash-strapped school districts from California to Florida have cut bus routes to chip away at spending.

Makes about as much sense as cutting public transit to balance city budgets.

I think it would make even more sense to charge back the cost of delivering children to and fro far flung exurban home sites to schools. As it is now, this is a hidden subsidy for sprawl (though it is paid, in part, by the children who sit on busses for long drives).

Bussing kids to & from large institutions that must be heated &/or cooled, cleaned & maintained, was a bad idea even in the days when fuel was cheap. It's an especially bad idea in the days of the internet. Let kids learn from home, where they can't aggregate in large age segregated mobs that feed off peer mob energy. Where they don't come to bitterly resent the necessary policing of their behavior inspired by this energy. Direct their learning if you're able or let them self-direct it. The self-directed learning of kids can't be any less efficient than that directed by those socially sanctioned to police them (so-called 'teachers'). After all, kids know their own interests & aptitudes better than anyone else does. Let 'em roam the net and learn what they can and what they want to. Thinking that adults 'know best' what kids need to learn is hubristic ageism.

Right on DD, Spongebob forever!

Your sarcasm reeks of conformity, of complete buy-in (or is that sell-out?) to the system. Try to think for yourself rather than just parroting the position you've been inculcated with. You weren't into school sports by any chance, were you? Or the product of military conditioning? Spongebob or Sophocles, let the kid decide for him- or herself which they prefer, then let 'em live with the consequence of their uncoerced decision.

If it had been left to me, I would have majored in Nintendo and computer programming.... Which, computer programming has been my career for the past 10 years... I think self-direction only works for kids with sufficient drive, and the system is currently geared towards removing drive from people. They want passive sheep, not thinking goats.

It seems that enough of us have migrated to this place of right reason, even though many here even find things hopeless, or close enough it doesn't make any difference. Ambitious kids with a modicum of supervision would do the same. Maybe they would have some solutions to the problems / situations we discuss before civilization deteriorates to what I envision it might.

DD: Sorry to offend but I have a couple grandchildren (11 and 7) who would rather watch Spongbob or text on their cell phones than understand solar energy, or exercise, or damn near anything else. They are each near top grades in their respective classes. So from this small sample I have concluded from my small samples your idea won't work thus far, YMMV.

And yes I could be called a Doomer conformist. How big is your garden?

DD -

I agree completely! I file ideas like this under the general heading of 'replacing physical networks with virtual networks where possible.' I think it is good to meet your instructors and classmates face-to-face sometimes, but the massive institutional physical network that we call public education is outmoded.

Let teachers make instructional youtube videos of their lectures and devote the live sessions to answering follow-up questions;

Do we believe in merit pay? Link a portion of teacher compensation to viewership (content standards needed, of course...).

Devote more learning to experiential activities (ah, I see from the online schedule that next Wednesday's class will be held at the community garden...)

I'm going overboard, but you get my drift. So many possibilities for primary education here.

I'm going overboard..

Not at all. You get the idea. ;)

Study Finds That Online Education Beats the Classroom

A recent 93-page report on online education, conducted by SRI International for the Department of Education, has a starchy academic title, but a most intriguing conclusion: “On average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.”

I don't even need to read that report. I know what it is about.

Here is my conjecture:

1. The 'SRI International' will be affiliated in some way with an 'e-learning' company of the 'Arnie' ilk in Calif.

and here is granite-solid fact:

2. The purpose of education is not to shovel facts into a youngster's head. It is to welcome the young adult into a 'complex' society, where people have to get down and dirty with each other and learn to get along. There is no way that a purely on-line education allows for the young adults in our communities to learn to be human.

3. Technology should always play servant to the human.

4. Even if we choose to squirrel away our youngsters in a middle class online ghetto, the poor will still be there to 'deal with'.

God, no. We must reject any attempt to 'educate' our children in a vacuum, education is 1% fact and 99% experience. On-line (or radio schools, as per my post about the Aussie school) should be the exception. Never the norm. If we even dare use technology to separate middle and lower class kids then we might as well all go and move to a log cabin in Montana. There is enough of a divide betwix the middle classes (what we in the UK call the 'coping classes') and the Banksters already. It would be a crime to divide even further.

Agree. Just a minor modification.

The purpose of education is to enable children to think for themselves. The purpose of schooling is to help them learn to get along in the world away from an over protective environment. Sometimes, even most of the times, schooling interferes with education. But that should not detract from the value of schooling. At the end of the day we are social beings and not just thinkers and philosophers.

The environment at home plays an equally big role in education. We need to encourage our children to think for themselves, make mistakes and learn. Easier said than done. Always easier to control than let go.

The 'SRI International' will be affiliated in some way with an 'e-learning' company of the 'Arnie' ilk in Calif.

SRI International has been around for a very long time

SRI International, founded as Stanford Research Institute, is one of the world's largest contract research institutes. Based in the United States, the trustees of Stanford University established it in 1946 as a center of innovation to support economic development in the region. It was later incorporated as an independent non-profit organization under U.S. and California laws. SRI's headquarters are in Menlo Park, California, near the Stanford University campus. Curtis Carlson, Ph.D., is SRI's president and CEO. Year 2008 revenue for SRI, including its subsidiary, Sarnoff Corporation, were approximately $485 million.[1] As of 2009, SRI and Sarnoff employ about 2,000 staff members combined.


Doug Engelbart was the primary force behind the design and development of the oN-Line System, or NLS. He founded SRI's Augmentation Research Center (ARC), and his team there developed the original versions of many modern computer-human interface elements. These included: bit-mapped displays, collaboration software, hypertext, and precursors to the graphical user interface including the computer mouse. As a pioneer of human-computer interaction, Engelbart is arguably SRI's most notable alumnus. He was awarded the National Medal of Technology in 2000.

In 1964, Bill English, then chief engineer at the ARC, built the first prototype of a computer mouse from Engelbart's design.[7]

In the 1960s, liquid crystal display (LCD) technology was developed at RCA Laboratories, which is now the Sarnoff Corporation, a wholly owned SRI subsidiary.

From 1966 through 1972, SRI's Artificial Intelligence Center developed the first mobile robot to reason about its actions. Named "Shakey", the robot had a television camera, a triangulating range finder, and bump sensors. Shakey the Robot used software for perception, world-modeling, and acting. The Artificial Intelligence Center marked its 40th anniversary in 2006.

Hewitt Crane and his colleagues developed the world's first all-magnetic digital computer,[8], based upon extensions to magnetic core memories. The technology was licensed to AMP, who then used the technology to build specialized computers for controlling tracks in the New York City subway and on railroad switching yards.

In 1969, ARPANET, the world's first electronic computer network, was established on October 29 between nodes at Leonard Kleinrock's lab at UCLA and Douglas Engelbart's lab at SRI. Interface Message Processors at both sites served as the backbone of the first Internet.[9]

In addition to SRI and UCLA, UCSB and the University of Utah were part of the original four network nodes. By December 5, 1969, the entire 4-node network was connected


The analysis for the Department of Education found that, on average, students doing some or all of the course online would rank in the 59th percentile in tested performance, compared with the average classroom student scoring in the 50th percentile. That is a modest but statistically meaningful difference.

Why is it that these articles always contain a trick set of words ..."doing some or"?

Well, it seems to this ole' country lawyer that students in a high income area will almost always have "some" online learn'in while only students who live in the most abjectly impoverished areas will have no online learning whatsoever.

So what exactly is this tricky dicky worded study proving?

This is how the Aussies do remote schooling:


They are good at remote schooling... Not so cricket!!


Time for some community organizing - get the city to make the areas within two miles of schools walkable and bikable.

California and others have made big budget cuts this year, but next year there will not be any excess left to cut. Next year they will cut deeper in Schools, police, services and road maintenance. Retirement plans and insurance will be on th block too. Do not depend on State govt for ANYTHinG!

Of course, no one would even consider the obvious... raise taxes. No, like Slim Pickins in "Dr.Strangelove" we'll ride this sucker all the way down.

well, if you didn't find anything to laugh about so far today , then try this StatoilHydro (Norwegian oil company) teambuilder slash boost-moral Rock video ... Black Gold Hunters
.... he he man, what's next? (It got some spanking in Norwegian media / blogosphere)

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos, Latin America’s largest oil producer...

Since when Mexico start being part of Latin America? or do Mexican Oil Company operates in latin america too?

LONDON — A pipeline set to join China’s energy demand with Russia’s oil supply will spur production and spark refinery construction and could greatly reduce Beijing’s need for crude from elsewhere.

This particular pipeline may have no link with Eastern Siberian oil fields but chinese long term contact with russia about exclusive rights on all oil extraction in East Siberia is a revolutionary step. This is how sensible countries get resources without shedding a drop of blood.

How much is walkability worth?

Half of all the happiness in life. Walkability is reduced either by very high (40 floors plus) buildings or miles long lanes of extremely big houses (like in defence and clifton areas of karachi). These are two extremes. In both situations you can't get a regular supply of everyday items just by walking: you can't climb 40 floors through stairs and you can't daily walk for miles just to get groceries especially in quiet and dark lanes. The middle way is the best way. My suggestion is that no apartment buildings should ever be made. They are totally unlivable in absence of electricity if for nothing else then supply of water. On the other hand extremely big houses are also nearly unlivable if for nothing else than long walks. The middle way is to have 200 sq meters (about 2000 sq ft) to 400 sq meters (about 4000 sq ft) houses. Ideal case is a 100 sq m building on a 400 sq m plot to have some fruit trees and vegetable/kitchen gardens. A couple of goats can also be parked in dirt for milk, meat and pet use.

The dollar is in the toilet and threatening to break all support levels

According to an article at Economic Edge usa stopped printing dollars (quantative easing) when china warned about dumping its stock of dollars and treasury bills and supply of fresh loans. So dollar is not going to lose much of its value in near-term, as long as usa continue to exist as an entity. There are strong chances of demolition of the union of states called usa due to several obvious reasons.

However, careful examination of the world's resource base -- including my own firm's analysis of more than 800 of the largest oil fields -- indicates that the resource endowment of the planet is sufficient to keep up with demand for decades to come.

No need of "careful examination" to know that. Supply always meets demand, price is the tool. How much price becomes is the matter of concern.

Saudi Arabia imported 51,114 barrels per day (bpd) of gasoline in August, higher than expected by traders, due to stockpiling ahead of Ramadan, industry sources said.

51,114? Is that a significant number? NO. Saudi Arabia produce like 8 million barrels of crude oil per day and consume like a quarter of that in gasoline. 51,114 is just 2.5% of that, totally point less.

This particular pipeline may have no link with Eastern Siberian oil fields but chinese long term contact with russia about exclusive rights on all oil extraction in East Siberia is a revolutionary step.

Wrong on both counts. Some Eastern Siberia oil fields are already connected to the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline, but while construction in progress they pump oil from the fields to the west. Chinese spur pipeline from Skovorodino to Daqing is not the main route, see the map:
The main route goes to Pacific Ocean, so I wouldn't say China got exclusive rights on all oil from East Siberia.

Since when Mexico start being part of Latin America? or do Mexican Oil Company operates in latin america too?

Since always, WFP. In fact the name Latin America is a misnomer, it was invented by the French who historically had nothing to do with the discovery, settlement, culture, independence and formation of our countries in a process that lasted 500 years, to this day. The correct name is Spanish America or even Iberoamerica if we include Brazil.
In "The Open Veins of Latin America", the Uruguayan Galeano points out this.

Another thing is that Mexico, geographically, lies in the North American continent, there being this long strip of land south of them called Central America.
South America doesn't start south of the Rio Grande/Bravo. No señor !

There's very little economic north-south integration among the Iberoamerican countries, only Mercosur, a failed imitation of the European Common Market -Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Hello TODers,

In my ongoing effort to stay on the bleeding edge of Peak Everything, I offer up these new ARAMCO graphics for your perusal [34-page PDF Warning]:

Integration of Core-based Chemostratigraphy and Petrography of the Devonian Jauf Sandstones, Uthmaniya Area, Ghawar Field, Eastern Saudi Arabia*

..Chemostratigraphic correlation identified 6 geochemical packages and 23 individual units, correlatable to 10-foot intervals between the two wells, which were virtually identical to a previous gamma ray log-only correlation; a geochemical signal for an important intraformational biomarker was also recognized. This chemostratigraphic correlation was used as the basis for a comprehensive layering scheme for 21 wells in an object-based geocellular model.


• Chemostratigraphic correlation was able to resolve sedimentary packages and units to 5 feet vertical resolution in two wells 5 km apart.

• Integration of chemostratigraphy and petrography proved facies-based differential diagenesis –directly related to facies-specific reservoir quality.

• Chemostratigraphic correlation heavily influenced the geocellular model layering scheme, and strongly supported a sequence stratigraphic correlation across the UTMN area.
If you can: See pages 14 & 34, but mentally combine, then extrapolate out.

IMO, this is very powerful stuff for precise reservoir characterization and accurate geo-steering. Recall from the huge, multi-keypost and multi-thread Ghawar posting series circa 2007 that much discussion was undertaken by SS, F_F, Euan, GaryP, and others about SE UTMN and its apparent problems. This is also where the tarmat is thickest according to Simmons, and the UTMN thrust block discontinuity occurs.

Remember, the Jauf and Khuff layers are beneath the Arab-D and the tarmat, but they have much more well data on the Arab-D, therefore I bet their EXPEC POWERSII is working overtime to supercompute some very intriging full stratigraphic & geocellular output for the whole of Ghawar.