Drumbeat: September 5, 2009

Why $200 Oil Is Just Around the Corner

"We will see triple digit oil prices very early into an economic recovery," Rubin told Rigzone. "I expect we will be there within 12 months."

While he does contend that the escalating price of oil will cause another recession, Rubin believes that recovery will spell higher prices once again. The economist predicts $200 oil just around the corner.

"By 2012, we will either be in a world of $200 per barrel oil or we will be back in another oil-induced recession," he added.

Britain heading back to the dark ages

The UK is facing a tipping point over the next few years in its ability to generate enough power to satisfy an ever-increasing demand.

Democrats send letter urging Parnell to avert energy crisis

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Five Anchorage Democrats in the Legislature are pushing Gov. Sean Parnell to do more to head off an energy crisis in Southcentral Alaska.

Sen. Hollis French and Reps. Les Gara, Pete Petersen and Chris Tuck sent Parnell a letter Friday calling for an emergency plan.

Their main concern: That people are not prepared for a possible shortage of natural gas this winter that could leave people without heat and power.

ConocoPhillips Gets Green Light for Alaskan Oil Field Unit

Federal officials have given ConocoPhillips and its partner Anadarko Petroleum the go-ahead to compile certain Alaskan oil and gas leases into a new oil field unit -- a precursor to development and production in the North Slope region, reports Reuters.

China Oil Deal Is New Source of Strife Among Iraqis

WASIT PROVINCE, Iraq — When China’s biggest oil company signed the first post-invasion oil field development contract in Iraq last year, the deal was seen as a test of Iraq’s willingness to open an industry that had previously prohibited foreign investment.

One year later, the China National Petroleum Corporation has struck oil at the Ahdab field in Wasit Province, southeast of Baghdad. And while the relationship between the company and the Iraqi government has gone smoothly, the presence of a foreign company with vast resources drilling for oil in this poor, rural corner of Iraq has awakened a wave of discontent here.

Gabon's Oil Hub Tense after Disputed Vote

Security forces in Gabon continued to clash with opposition demonstrators following the announcement that the son of the country's long-time ruler has been elected president. The French oil firm Total has evacuated foreign workers from Port Gentil, at the center of the violence.

Iraq-Shell deal likely to be delayed until after polls

Baghdad: A final deal between Iraq and Royal Dutch Shell to tap natural gas in southern Iraq is likely to be delayed until after January's national elections, a senior Iraqi oil official said yesterday.

NATO Strike Magnifies Divide on Afghan War

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan — A NATO airstrike on Friday exploded two fuel tankers that had been hijacked by the Taliban, setting off competing claims about how many among the scores of dead were civilians and raising questions about whether the strike violated tightened rules on the use of aerial bombardment.

Wyoming’s coal country sends millions of tons of coal to energize power plants around the nation

WRIGHT, Wyo. - Herds of antelope graze amid the sage and short grasses of the rolling Thunder Basin National Grassland while 140-car trains rumble northward.

Each empty hopper soon will groan beneath 120 tons of coal carved from deep open pits and destined for electrical plants around the United States.

In environmental terms, this coal is the good stuff.

California: Urging Water Rules Change

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke asking them to reverse the federal government’s restrictions on water use intended to protect fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. “Three years of drought continue at serious cost to our farms, our people and our economy,” Mr. Schwarzenegger wrote.

Food cost outlook easier to swallow

High fuel costs during the summer of 2008 also played a part, leading to higher shipping costs, Alexander said.

All that is beginning to turn around, Alexander said. Prices of corn, wheat and other food commodities have come down dramatically since 2008. So has the price of fuel.

Commercial Arctic Passage Nearing Goal

More than halfway through a rare trans-Arctic commercial voyage, two German heavy-lift ships carrying power-plant components from South Korea to a Siberian port were scheduled today to pass the northernmost point on their route, the Vilkitsky Strait.

A Skeptic Finds Faith in Geoengineering

Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish political scientist who found fame as the author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist,” has completed a study of the best ways to address the warming of the planet.

His chief finding: the most cost-effective and technically feasible approach is through geoengineering, the use of technology to deliberately alter the earth’s climate.

The Second Wave - Fast-growing emerging markets are making energy efficiency a high priority. Leading the way: China.

After years as energy-efficiency laggards, China and a number of other fast-growing emerging markets are putting a high priority on restraining oil demand.

Stung by high energy costs prior to the world recession, these countries are implementing a host of measures to try to contain energy consumption and damp the impact of future oil-price spikes. Among other things, they're laying down tough new efficiency standards on everything from cars to buildings to home appliances.

Easy oil is never far from the cutting edge

In this sense, there has never been a time of “easy oil”. We are looking back to an imagined golden age. The industry’s capabilities advance in step with the demands it faces. Otherwise, we might fondly think that the 1960s was the “age of easy microchips”. As BP has shown, what was impossible five years ago becomes feasible today. Five years in the future, it will be routine.

Saudis exploring alternatives as oil prices tank

ABU DHABI — Saudi Arabia's state-owned Aramco plans to diversify its energy resources and move away from crude oil production.

Executives said the energy company has been embracing the development of natural gas sources to meet domestic and regional demand. They said gas production and exports would help cushion the blow of another major decline in the price of oil.

Saudi Arabia to supply steady oil volumes in Oct

Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, plans to keep supplies steady in October to major firms with global refining systems, an industry source said on Friday. The steady allocations are a strong indication the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will not make any formal change to output ceilings when it meets on Sept. 9. "Yes," an industry source told Reuters when asked whether October oil supply from Saudi Arabia would be held steady for major oil companies.

Drought Puts Focus on a Side of India Left Out of Progress

PIPRI VILLAGE, India — Two very different recent scenes from India: At a power breakfast in New Delhi for many of the country’s corporate leaders and top economic officials, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee declared that India had “weathered the storm” of the global economic crisis and was witnessing “green shoots” in industry and services that signaled a return to more rapid growth by next year.

Hundreds of miles away in this farming village in Andhra Pradesh, in the south, weeds were the only green shoots sprouting in the black soil that belongs to the widow Chandli Bai. Her field went 12 weeks without rain during India’s annual monsoon season before showers finally arrived on Aug. 23, splattering down too late onto the dry dirt. Her summer crop of lentils was stillborn in the ground.

“We eat once a day,” said Mrs. Bai, 65, explaining how she and her family had survived the lack of rain.

Solar Crisis Set to Hit in 2010

The solar industry is already suffering from significant overcapacity, yet incumbents are adding still more manufacturing to try to secure a cost competitive position after the shakeout. This chart, prepared by Digitimes using data from The Information Network (hat tip reader Michael), sums up the yawning gap between demand and capacity.

Oil scarcity leads us to electric cars which leads us to Neodymium scarcity

Peak Neodymium? A recent Reuters article quotes Jack Lifton, an independent commodities consultant and strategic metals expert, as raising an alarm about the use of rare earth materials (like Neodymium) in hybrid and electric cars like the Prius. The article raises the specter of running out of these rare earth materials dooming the possibility of adoption of electric vehicles and other technologies such as high powered wind turbines. It may not be as dire as Mr. Lifton suggests, however.

Energy Company Calls Halt to Drilling Project

A $17 million energy project in California that was supposed to demonstrate the feasibility of extracting vast amounts of heat from the earth’s bedrock has been suspended indefinitely after the drilling essentially snagged on surface rock formations.

The project, run by AltaRock Energy, represents the Obama administration’s first major test of geothermal energy as a significant alternative to fossil fuels. But since drilling began in June, the project has encountered earthquake fears and scheduling delays.

Matthew Simmons: Oil Spin - Ignore the optimists. Peak oil is real.

First, alarming data from the International Energy Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy shows that the flow of global crude oil peaked in 2005 and is now sliding steadily. The world will never "run out of oil," but its flow is in decline. There may still be ample oil reserves left in the ground when oil flows fall to half of today's use. But these remaining reserves are all either very low-quality heavy oil, which is difficult to process, or tainted with toxic elements that make it hard to refine into usable petroleum products.

It would be comforting if some vast new oil frontier existed that would recreate the 20th century's oil miracle, but almost five decades have now elapsed since the last great super-giant oil fields were discovered and the last frontier basins were found.

Oil and the minds of men

The great petroleum geologist Wallace Pratt famously said that "Oil is found in the minds of men." Discoveries depend on visionary theory, technical innovation and commitment to risky drilling. Plus luck. Peak Oil theory, by contrast -which asserts that global oil production has, or soon will, peak, and that this has powerful policy implications -- is found in the limitations of the minds of men. It is less geological theory than unevolved intellectual shortcoming, although it certainly has its political uses.

Peak Oil and the IEA (What they don’t want you to know…)

So while the British Government (and many others) declares that it "does not feel the need to hold contingency plans specifically for the eventuality of crude oil supplies peaking between now and 2020", a senior energy expert at the IEA –the body that advices our governments on oil- who wrote part of the 2008 WEO, cannot rule out the death of a significant part of humankind in the coming decades.

What BP’s giant oil strike means

The London company's two-decade commitment to the gulf has helped resurrect a region that was being dismissed as "the Dead Sea" in the 1990s, after companies hit a series of dry holes. "With respect to the Gulf of Mexico, BP has done very, very well," says Richard Gordon, president of Gordon Energy Solutions, an Overland Park (Kan.) oil and gas consultancy.

Tiber and Kaskida will take years to develop, and BP runs the risk of cost overruns, another crash in the price of oil, and unforeseen, expensive challenges in extracting all that crude. But BP's star gulf property, a massive oil and gas field about 140 miles southeast of New Orleans called Thunder Horse, is already raking in cash for the company (ExxonMobil owns 25 percent of Thunder Horse).

Forget 'Peak Oil' - Drill, BP, Drill

Ignoring peak-oil Cassandras, BP has made another giant oil find in the Gulf of Mexico. We're not running out of oil. Our government just doesn't want us to look for it.

The world is running out of oil and good riddance. That's the environmentalists' mantra. But since the first well was drilled near Titusville, Pa., 150 years ago, the prophecy has gone unfulfilled. Trouble is, those darn greedy oil companies keep finding the stuff.

Petrobras Expects Brazil Government to Increase Stake

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, said the government will likely boost its 32 percent stake after a planned share sale.

As part of new oil regulations, the government is selling Petrobras the right to produce 5 billion barrels of oil in offshore areas in exchange for new shares in the company. Existing investors will also have the right to buy shares in the offering to maintain the level of their shareholding. Brazil’s Congress still has to approve the planned changes.

UK official says oil was part of Lockerbie talks

LONDON -- Trade and oil considerations played a major role in the decision to include the Lockerbie bomber in a prisoner transfer agreement between Britain and Libya, a senior British official said in an interview published Saturday.

Energy XXI Surges 84% as Well Probes Same Layer as BP

(Bloomberg) -- Energy XXI (Bermuda) Ltd. the crude producer that boosted output by almost one-fifth in the past two years, soared 84 percent as an oil well drilled off the Louisiana coast neared the same geologic formation that yielded a 3 billion-barrel discovery for BP Plc.

Oil expertise from Venezuela gives Colombia's industry a boost

Reporting from Bogota, Colombia - Until recently in a free fall because of terrorist attacks that scared off wildcat drillers, Colombia's oil production is staging a surprisingly robust rebound, boosted in no small part by the arrival of oil industry executives and engineers banished by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Talk of China's green revolution belies its voracious energy grab

All the talk is about China’s green revolution at the moment, but everywhere I turn it seems to be gobbling up another multi-billion pound gas contract or oil company.

Officials may be making all the environmentally-correct noises ahead of the G20 summit later this month, but out of an estimated $46.5bn (£28bn) spent on international oil and gas acquisitions in the first four months of this year, China accounted for $45bn.

New climate plan would favour oil sands

Ottawa is eyeing a climate change plan that would allow Alberta's oil sands to continue growing – and polluting – but would clamp down on industries in the rest of the country, multiple sources have told the Toronto Star.

Eric the Green

Q What ideas beyond CCS are oil and gas companies coming up with?

A If you start improving the recovery of oil from oil fields, that in itself is a huge environmental benefit for the same amount of relative input. There are transformative technologies in accessing heavy oil. People are already trying to develop toe-to-heel air injection to recover a lot higher percentage of heavy oil and also in-situ oil from bitumen. People are also looking at non-aqueous ways of extracting oil.

Plan would pay Japanese families to have kids

The proposal would pay families the money every year until the child reached high school. It is an effort to boost Japan's birthrate, which is one of the lowest in the world and is a major drag on the country's economy. It is compounded by Japan's rapidly aging population.

Reuters summit-Try nature, not tech, to fix economic woes - UNEP

GENEVA (Reuters) - The world is waking up to huge economic benefits of investing in nature, from forests to coral reefs, after one of the "great oversights" of the 20th century, the head of the U.N. Environment Programme said on Friday.

Achim Steiner told Reuters that governments had long placed too much faith in technology to fix problems such as global warming, water pollution or erosion, instead of looking to natural solutions.

"At the beginning of the 21st century we are being thrown back onto nature because you can't fix all these problems with technology," he said.

Studies of the Arctic Suggest a Dire Situation

Climate change is happening everywhere, but nowhere faster than in the Arctic, where annual temperatures in the far North are warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe. Sea ice on the polar cap is shrinking and permafrost is melting, putting animals like the polar bear — and the Arctic people who depend on them — in increasing danger.

Tackling wider air pollution would speed climate action: UN

GENEVA (AFP) – Countries could speed up their action against climate change if they tackled air pollution as well as carbon dioxide enissions, the UN Environment Programme said.

Global warming worries the military

Okay, maybe you don't care or believe that within a couple of generations global warming's effects on sea levels will swamp the world's coastlines, displacing hundreds of millions of people. And maybe you don't care or believe that already dry regions will experience extended droughts, leaving millions more people without adequate food or water. Or that thousands of species will be wiped out. Or that the coral reefs are toast.

But what about America's fighting forces? Do you support our troops? If so, you might want to get behind the push for alternative energy and a reduced carbon "bootprint" because our military says it's essential for American security.

Worst climate change offenders to escape effects, report claims

Countries which are contributing most to climate change, including Britain, will be shielded from its worst effects, according to a study which ranks nations according to their vulnerability to global warming.

The poorest countries, including most of Africa and much of south Asia, face “extreme risk” from climate change despite having very low greenhouse gas emissions.

Countries with the highest emissions are the least vulnerable, largely because they will be able to use their wealth to mitigate the impacts.

Simply put, every drop of water counts

Halt global warming? It's simple, one expert says: to save energy, save water.

Is There a Climate-Change Tipping Point?

Researchers from Wageningen University, the University of Wisconsin and Scripps Institution of Oceanography found that an assortment of systems they studied all had critical thresholds that could trigger change from one state to another — changes that tend to be abrupt, not gradual. "Such threshold events don't happen that often, but they are extraordinarily important," says study co-author Stephen Carpenter of the University of Wisconsin. "They are the portals to change."

So, how do we know that change is at hand? The Nature researchers noticed one potential signal: the sudden variance between two distinct states within one system, known by the less technical term squealing.

Friday night failures:

Five more banks fail -- 89 so far in 2009

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Five small regional banks were closed by regulators on Friday evening, pushing 2009's tally so far to 89 institutions. Of the five failures, two were in Illinois, and there was one each in Arizona, Iowa and Missouri.

Do you think the upcoming 3-day weekend has anything to do with the timing?

Maybe. When my bank failed, they said access to accounts would be restored by 5pm Sunday, but they missed the deadline. Everything was up and running by Monday morning, but I suspect having an extra day to get things in order is helpful.

Foreign Policy has an article about the Chinese economy:

How China Cooks Its Books

The government estimates that roughly 20 million migrant factory workers have lost their jobs since the downturn started. But, with "resignations" included, the number is likely closer to 40 million or 50 million, according to estimates made by Yiping Huang, chief Asia economist for Citigroup. That is the same size as Germany's entire work force. China similarly distorts everything from its GDP to retail sales figures to production activity. This sort of number-padding isn't just unethical, it's also dangerous: The push to develop rosy economic data could actually lead China's economy over the cliff.

They really don't know how many migrant factory workers there are (or were to begin with). Or how many people there are in China. The books are not necessarily getting cooked at the top. The problem is that aggregate statistics depend on the accuracy of individual data points obtained from bureaucrats who have a vested interest in the numbers they pass along.

from the article:

The Office of Thrift Supervision was unable to find a buyer to take over the assets of Platinum Community, which were estimated at $345.6 million with deposits of $305 million. As a result, the FDIC will begin mailing customers checks for their insured deposits beginning on Tues., Sept. 8.

That means customers are out of luck over the weekend and cannot access any of their Platinum Community accounts. "The bank is gone. It no longer exists," said David Barr, spokesman for the FDIC. "We couldn't find an appropriate buyer. We don't do that very often."

Anybody know (or have links to good info on) the following:
1. How to tell if your bank is in danger of being closed?
2. How safety deposit boxes in a closed bank are handled?
3. What happens to loans from a bank that is not purchased by another bank?

With respect to your Q1, Calculated Risk (http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/) posts an unofficial problem bank list from time to time based on US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) info. Last one was posted Sept 4th.

If your bank is on the list, I'd be worried, but the level of worry might be related to the type of enforcement action that a bank is under. Problem is, some banks that fail never make it to the list, and, of course, not all banks on the list are going to fail.

1. How to tell if your bank is in danger of being closed?

Using FDIC Bank Find load the page containing the bank's "Institution Directory – Two years Financial Report" and study the entries for "loan loss allowance" and "noncurrent loans and leases."

For questions 2 and 3 the bank should open for business on Tuesday under the control of the FDIC. They might still find a buyer.

Denninger has a rather alarming graph of American debt.

I have often been asked what it would take to bring the consumer credit picture back into balance with incomes. My "off the cuff" estimate was that we had to take a 10% adjustment to GDP in 2000, a 20% adjustment now, and that credit would have had to contract by about 20% in 2000.

This graph makes it clear - as of 2006 the answer is "roughly a 40% decrease in credit outstanding, a 40% increase in per-capita income, or any combination of the two."

Of note the "correction" required was 25% in 2000.

It was 40% in 2007.

It is likely better than 50% now.


I found it rather disturbing to read the following postscript to the linked article above entitled Peak Oil and the IEA:

This article was originally submitted to The Oil Drum[27] (one of the leading Peak Oil news webpage). While the editors initially accepted to publish the article, at the very last moment they changed their mind. In other words, an article on Peak Oil was censored by… The Oil Drum (TOD). The reasons why?

“I know there are at least a few people who think we should be putting the IEA in as favorable light as we can. So I have decided not to run it…” (Gail the Actuary, Editor, 2 September 2009).

However, to be fair with TOD, some of their members did not support this action:

“Sorry to hear about what's going on regarding your article and TOD… 1) this is something that TOD should publish, and 2) this kind of censorship, as you point out, isn't something that we should take any part in.” (Jeff Vail, 2 September 2009).

At the end, they wouldn’t accept it. If even TOD starts to censor information on Peak Oil…

To put it in the words of Steve Connor, Science Editor of The Independent, “What an odd thing for Oil Drum to be worried about -- so much for the independent journalism of the internet.”

TOD has the right to publish what it wants. But the rationale given here for not publishing an article sounds alarm bells to me. Can anyone explain to me why TOD needs to pander to the IEA on what is the central issue for its entire existence?

I think it's fair to say that Gail is too close to the industry to be a dispassionate observer. The downplaying of the environmental impacts of Canadian tar sands development in the article after the API visit shows she drinks the industry kool-aid.

I read this forum for facts, not editorial - I'd be very disappointed to find out that the Editor's personal opinions count for more than the straight truth.

(maybe this post will be censored too)

All three of us editors (Prof. Goose, Nate, and I) reviewed the post, and decided that some changes were needed in how things were stated. Lionel refused to consider them.

We are a staff of about 25 with many different views. I am planning to write a post in the near future about what I see ahead, that will perhaps clarify a little my views on where our hopes lie--oil companies, conservation, new technology, etc. Depending on how one works through the issues, it seems to me one comes to very different conclusions of our various options.

We try to present articles on all of the options.

To wit: we will have an analysis on oil and tar sands environmental impacts from Pembina Institute later this month.

That's encouraging. The Pembina Institute have a beautiful slideshow that breaks down the Myths, Spin and Plain Facts about the environmental impacts of the Tar Sands. After looking at Gails' blog on the Oil Sands it looks like she bought the Spin.


Thanks for posting the slideshow.


Like the article giving the view of the Chevron/Ecuadorian lawsuit from the plaintiffs side you promised after Gail's impassioned defense of the oil companies and trashing of the Ecuadorian legal system? I don't think that has ever appeared. Some balance would be appreciated. There are articles at Common Dreams giving that point of view, I believe.

I offered them a guest post slot and never heard back. However I am pretty sure Pembina will come through - I talked with them on Friday. I have a job and am finishing my phd too you know...

Nate. I don't mean to criticize you--I know you work hard and I appreciate the quality of your work here. I am suggesting that a little less reflexive support for Gail's offerings might be in order in the light of feelings that her recent posts seem to show some consistent bias. As your time permits, you and the others might keep balance in mind when evaluating posts.

I really don't understand why you didn't post this article. It's a very relevant article for TOD, whether you agree with it or not.

Articles that try to refute peak oil are posted on TOD almost every day. It's very important to post these counter-peak-oil types of articles - it gives this site legitimacy. As it stands, TOD is in my opinion the most authorative peak oil website because of the high quality analysis and because of the many different expressed viewpoints.

I can see TOD editors censoring irrelevant articles, but not relevant articles that you disagree with.

There can be issues in the way an article is written. What was posted on Seeking Alpha is not exactly the Oil Drum version.

It wasn't censored. We wanted to post it.

We just asked that a few edits be made. That is standard for contributors to TOD. Some articles need a lot of editing, some don't. But usually, the author is asked to make changes. He may agree, or he may want to discuss it. Lionel didn't even want to discuss it. He just withdrew his article. Which is his right. But it's not like we censored it.

Honestly, people...if you're not open to at least discussing editing, don't submit your work. Anywhere. Post it on your own blog, where the only editor is you.

This comment may be inappropriate, but as a reader of TOD since 2005 I have been concerned by the increasingly obtrusive presence of "Gail the Actuary" on this forum. Like most of us here, I was initially impressed by her depth of research and generosity with her time, as well as the apparent quality of her information. She now has become the leading voice here, and an obvious proponent of the industry point of view. I will probably be censored, but I have to wonder if she was sent here for that purpose.

Articles that try to refute peak oil are posted on TOD almost every day.

Frugal, this is simply not true. Links to articles that try to refute peak oil are posted almost every day. Likewise, this article was posted as a link!

I don't think the editors of TOD are under any special obligation to publish every article that is submitted. If that were the case there would be far more articles published every day, with their own seperate thread, than we could possible read.

I find bitching about articles not published just a little silly.

Ron P.


We don't pander to anyone, but we have very limited time/staff to deal with issues such as this. Gail spent time formatting this guest post and sent it around to the other editors, of which only I was available to look at it. I suggested we could run it, but would prefer if some of the emotive language would be taken out first. Such as:

"In this article I aim to highlight the incoherence of the IEA on Peak Oil, in particular from its powerful Chief-Economist..."

I also suggested that we at TOD are analysts and primary thinkers, as opposed to journalists - and perhaps we didn't know the entire story here (we had been told last fall by some senior members of peak oil community that Birol was fighting a huge political battle within the IEA to get stronger language for WEO 2008 regarding the possibility of a near term peak - indeed if you go back and read my intro to our series on WEO, I expressed amazement at the bipolar aspect of that report.)

The above sentence and others it appears were removed in the seekingalpha version, so perhaps the author did take our advice. But given the assumptions he makes about TOD in that closing, I am left to wonder if he makes similar leaps of logic regarding IEA. But I have no expertise on all this political wrangling, other than on an issue as serious as this there will undoubtedly be political wrangling.

Remember, TOD is a loose volunteer staff of 25, all with disparate skills and viewpoints. The circle of unity we share is that liquid fuels are peaking far sooner than conventional institutions believe. Beyond that we hardly share a common voice, other than trying to discuss things empirically, logically and referencable as much as possible.

My own opinion on the matter is the IEA, (and the EIA) as organizations are far away from reality on the future of energy supplies. If they were closer to reality they could take baby steps towards addressing the differences - but they are oil experts and economists - what has happened this past decade is socio-economic and biophysically based, using far more variables than just geology (fiat leverage/credit, social equity, environment, geopolitics, receding horizons, complexity, non-energy inputs, etc.) Optimally, since energy drives society, our government energy watchdogs would long ago incorporated systems analysts, wide boundary thinkers, etc. to project a probabilistic portrayal of future energy supplies. But this step, while wise, would suggest the possibility of the end of economic growth, which to the OECD, which pays bills for IEA, would be unacceptable.

In any case, there is no relationship between IEA/TOD or any other whacko conspiracy - we have enough on our plate to beat the drum about what is happening and what to do about it. And in case of this 'report' on Birol/IEA, if there is any fault to not posting it, it is mine alone, though we were willing to if the language was changed.


I hope you might be able to see that impugning the integrity of an amazing group of dedicated individuals does not further anyone's cause. If I want drama, I'll pick up a tabloid.

Why should I censor an article that was originally accepted to be published?

Because instead of treating the editor like your enemy, you can actually collaborate with them to make the piece better. Sometimes (most times?) the author of a piece is too close to it to see its deficiencies. The writer/editor partnership can produce wonderful results — but the author has to be mature enough to see the value there. It seems that in this case that maturity is missing.

And now it's uncovered that you are editing the emails that you are publicly posting. Moreover, it seems likely that you did not obtain permission to post the emails (feel free to correct me). Because of these two mistakes, you'd have to do much to rebuild your credibility with me...because now it's severely damaged. I no longer know if you have enough distance from the topic to state facts without resorting to distorting them in your favor first.

Were I you, I would endeavor to learn from this whole episode on how not to blow one's credibility with the people who are actually on your side and actually want to see you succeed in your work.

AAngel is right. Please don't post e-mails without the permission of the author.

Nate, I note that Lionel is a student at the University of Exeter and I'm guessing that he is French (Yooropean at least) and therefore wonder why he did not submit this to one of the TOD Europe editors. Had he sent it to me I would simply have rejected it on the basis that it lacks insightful analysis and is more of a journalistic piece reporting who said what and when. There is of course a place for this (The Guardian?) but it is not the type of article I want to see on the front page of TOD.

It is of course part of our chosen role to hold the IEA to account - I seem to recall we ran a very detailed series of posts critiquing the IEA WEO 2008 last year. The challenge we have is ensuring that the IEA reads our stuff and take on board criticism where this is justified.

In any case, there is no relationship between IEA/TOD or any other whacko conspiracy - we have enough on our plate to beat the drum about what is happening and what to do about it.

When one is being chaperoned by corporate interests, as Gail has been in Equator and Alberta, equanimity of view is impossible, and that is the point of these "investigations"-- to put forth a positive view.
One cannot escape the conditions one is immersed into.
I think these corporate trips diminish the good work and information that the hard working staff of TOD present on a constant basis.

I spend a significant amount of my time trying to keep up with the threads and articles on the Oil Drum I find this to be an increasingly difficult task due to the amazing amount of material submitted. I prefer quality over quantity and while not wanting to offend the author I have to agree with the staff. This submission did not pass the quality standard I expect from the Oil Drum. My only regret was that the article was submitted, approved and removed so that it spawns the usual conspiracy theorists to sharpen the knives and attack our editors as industry pawns, tools, whatever. I guess your diligence is necessary but IMO misguided. I will include myself in this universe when I pontificate that sometimes we all are to quick to condemn those we disagree with to having small minds when we are as guilty ourselves of that trait.

To be fair, Gail is very clear when she reports on these trips that she is a guest of these interests.

Either you are willing to look into the belly of all the beasts and listen to various parties describe their positions or you are not. I think we have to hear all the stories, and just remember the context of how they are getting to us, and who is telling them in order to keep a sense of how to file them.

This is a valuable room, with a rich conversation going on in it, but we will kill that conversation if we forget that we have intentionally sought a place that leaves us in mixed company precisely for the broad perspective we can glean from it.

We surely have our differences and can express them.. but please be very careful when starting to call that difference a matter of integrity or sincerity.

'Careful, each of these boys has a mother!' Joker, The Batman Movie

An article was rejected due to emotive language? Due to journalistic qualities? OMG!

As a long time reader, I often wish The Oil Drum would gain some journalistic skills. I have read (more likely skimmed) many extended articles on interesting topics that frankly lack basic professional touches. The most common missing elements are:

  1. At least a token attempt at the inverted pyramid model so basic to general interest material. IOW, sketch the big picture and place the article in that context, tell what it offers that is new, all before diving into detail.
  2. Articles lacking structure such that they seem an endless train of details with no help from the author in organizing and uniting the whole.
  3. A dearth of reference to related analysis, basic background information, etc. (some posts are exceptions)
  4. Articles that end with a whimper, lacking summary, conclusions, future points of interest, etc.

In sum, to the editors: I would relish and rejoice if TOD had some quality journalistic pieces interspersed with "analysis" pieces which often to me seem more like first drafts.

And as to the example of emotive language:
"In this article I aim to highlight the incoherence of the IEA on Peak Oil, in particular from its powerful Chief-Economist..."

This is just the sort of element that makes for a strong article that actually aims to accomplish something. It would be not surprise that the writer would resist striking this statement; it is his thesis. And the claim will the testable as incoherence is rationally demonstrable. Like wise attribution to a particular individual may be demonstrable through published documents, etc. So the emotive language would motivate me to begin reading the article. That's a win for TOD.

Perhaps there were other particulars I am unaware of keeping the article out. Very well. But please let me register my 4+ years observation that TOD, still has plenty of room to enhance the effectiveness of it's postings and further, TOD (perhaps in disappointment to its editors) does not have any sort of aura of analytic discipline in need of protecting. Even if the occasional article dazzles, the rag-tag nature of the comments alone destroys any such academic flavor. So please, if opportunity arises in the future, bring us some journalistic and emotive content!

Roy Terry


Im sure many long time readers would prefer many things to be different about this site. More art, less graphs, more about the environment, less about economics, more about finance, less about peak oil date, more about what to do, less about growing food, more graphs less art, etc. ad nauseum. By definition we can't please everyone so we tend to focus on what we are good at and what we are willing to spend time on. In short, we're doing what we can, in our spare time, to keep this discussion in the fairway.

And we allow emotive comments from contributors that have been on board for many years, not from people we've never met or heard of. As usual, if you find the site too lacking you are welcome to get your news and analysis elsewhere. We aren't journalists and we never will be.

You are doing a heck of a lot more to make the planet better than all of the critics combined. Keep up the great work, and thank you for your generous volunteer work.

I am reminded of the two consistent criticisms that I have received: (1) I am too pessimistic and (2) I am too optimistic.

In any case, one thing that I have learned from my occasional efforts at amateur journalism is that writing is very easy, but quality writing is very hard.

Nate, Gail, Leanan, et al -
I've been following the forum from nearly the earliest days and have always felt that it was one of the best sites for 'down to Earth' oil-related news and analysis.
The featured articles are well-documented and include pertinent references for easy personal review and the Drumbeat provides a forum for the discussion of oil and energy-related journalism. There's a difference, that you've done well to point out, between 'journalism' and 'analysis.' That The Oil Drum provides space for each speaks well of the editors' commitment to credibility and a willingness to entertain contrarian views in a gracious and intelligent fashion. All I can say is "Keep up the great work!"


Double sigh.

By all means, self-declared and self-limited amateurs soldier on! Just for clarity, I am seeking to point out that TOD is frankly not terrible effective at what it sets out to do. Never mind artwork and topic choice (which I did not mention), just basic prose quality - an area in which professional journalists can offer a much better model.
And the idea that emotive comments is a privilege only allotted to old timers is practically medieval: anti-quality and anti-merit, and frankly works against producing an interesting publication.

I'll raise you a triple sigh.

There's all the "interesting" a person could ever want on trash TV, trash tabloids, and the vast array of combative trash websites. It's often very well-funded, making it all the more a fool's errand to try to compete with it head-on.

I'll ask instead for relatively calm truth-seeking, an art largely lost to "professional journalists" these days. After all, "professionals" are paid, by definition. The money doesn't just come magically from the Tooth Fairy. So, with 'star' salaries having long since spiraled not just out of sight but out of the known universe, it has become their highest duty to suck in revenue by pandering to the insatiable deity "ratings" - which denotes guys like those shown here.

Those "journalists" have, by and large, pandered themselves into irrelevance, even past a point where many now find it congenial to rely instead on John Stewart or even Rush Limbaugh for the news. So when I want amusing or "interesting" histrionics instead of sobriety, there are already lots of places - many with lush and costly 'production values' - to turn to, without need to sacrifice TOD to the list.

Roy, I personally think that giving privilege in emotive comments to old timers is pro-quality. This is a public internet forum and if the regulars make an emotive comment it is usually for a good reason, plus we know their history and viewpoints. If the same privilege was given to newbies then this site would be vulnerable to attack by interlopers and trolls trying to incite flame wars and discord on the site which would IMHO destroy this site. I enjoy the passionate but respectful dissagreements and emotive comments.


Hang in there.

You can't please everybody.

All true believers of whatever stripe want thier forums/speakers/sacred texts to reflect thiier own personal views of the world.

I do not know of another site or a publication that is as well balanced in terms of allowing dissenting opinions to be posted, or in publishing material representative of both sides of big issues and yet able to maintain it's focus and attract a quality readership.

There are plenty of sites that pursue thier goals with religious fervor and edit as if thier purpose is to convert rather than inform.The people who want to preach rather than discuss and inform really should find a forum better suited to thier tastes.

I am MUCH BETTER INFORMED AFTER READING GAIL'S "CONTROVERSIAL" POSTS and better yet informed after reading the comments they generate-especially so after reading the links posted by those who disagree.

+10. I like it just the way it is. One of my (few) daily must-reads, and one of the very few where I am willing to take the time to consider the information, and occasionally post. Of all "interactive" sites anywhere, I consider this one of my top three.

The volunteers at TOD do an amazing job at filtering information, and have my gratitude and admiration. We are talking about a "top level" article here (not a link to an article on drum beat), and I am amazed at criticisms directed at editors who are, well, editing. People can (and should) seek information elsewhere if they like, and write articles themselves for TOD or other sites. Paranoia about Gail's reporting on trips seems completely unwarranted. I read these as documenting her experience from these site visits, not as advocating the company line. It seems pretty hard to think critically without looking at all angles. Enough time (your and mine) spent on this line of thought.


Perhaps you could improve the level of journalistic writing on TOD by proofreading your own comments before posting them:

"It would be not surprise that the writer would resist striking this statement; it is his thesis."

What was that? Another rag-tag comment?

And yes, so is this.

Yes. Its a lot easier to be a drama critic than a playwright.

sandiego, I have to disagree with you, and wonder why you'd respond this way at all.
It clearly was a thesis statement, and TOD does indeed post articles of "variable" quality, but as a free information source it gives me my money's worth anyway.

If the editors say, "It's our forum, we'll do with it what we like," it would be true, reasonable, and acceptable. But if they instead come back with questionable claims about the quality of the content or the author's inflexibility, it leads me to wonder if they just didn't like what he was saying.

I tend to reflexively jump to the defense of the TOD editors like so many others here, because what they tirelessly provide is irreplaceable, and sometimes priceless. But this issue has me scratching my head - Surely there's more at work here than meets the eye. I'm not impugning Gail's objectivity - I don't even know her - but something here doesn't pass the "smell test."

In sum, to the editors: I would relish and rejoice if TOD had some quality journalistic pieces interspersed with "analysis" pieces which often to me seem more like first drafts.

I second this, and his entire post.

Am I mistaken, or do Oil Drum staff from time to time ask how they can reach a wider audience? Dry academic and academic-style pieces (and I say this as a former academic) alone will not succeed at that goal. I don't think you should go for Fox viewers - don't misunderstand me. But if you want to reach thoughtful non-academic, non engineer/techie types, you'd do well to heed Roy's advice.


"I also suggested that we at TOD are analysts and primary thinkers, as opposed to journalists "


The fact that you create material for public consumption via a form of mass-media does put you into the realm of journalism, imo.

After all, what is journalism, but the sourcing and dissemination of information ?

One could expect a journalist to reference sources, where facts are presented, or to label an article as Op-Ed, if it is, in fact, so. All the necessary disclaimers could then be applied...

Of course editors should apply some literary standards to accepting of material for publication, as long as they aren't editing out the parts that conflict with their personal world-view. That would be politics, rather than analysis.

Often, the blogs make no attempt to differentiate between substantiated fact, opinion, and sheer fabrication, leaving it to the, often uninformed, reader to make the distinction. There is a very large body of myth that results from this oversight which is hard to dispel.

My hope is that TOD will remain a substantively factual forum, with opinion pieces clearly labeled as such.

Thanks !

Well, that gets at the 'describe the color blue' dynamic of defining what 'journalism' means. What I meant is that our strength, by and large, has been self-created analysis on various topics central to the energy debate. Yes we have to use 'words' to describe our analysis, but by and large this is a dispassionate group. I am probably the most opinionated among us, and that is my blessing/curse as it may be...;-)

Hey! Why do the editors get to post with indigo-colored text!? No Fair!

Because we know how to use the Google?

Maybe it's more of a cyan..

No, it's because we have rights that ordinary users don't.

And that's how it should be, IMO. If the font color tags worked for everyone, you know there would be people who posted all in magenta, just to try and draw attention to their comments.

Hello Nate,

Thxs for your quote above: "(we had been told last fall by some senior members of peak oil community that Birol was fighting a huge political battle within the IEA to get stronger language for WEO 2008 regarding the possibility of a near term peak - indeed if you go back and read my intro to our series on WEO, I expressed amazement at the bipolar aspect of that report.)"

Yup. I have posted long before [and numerous times] my speculation that IEA & EIA internal antacid flowrates [Pepto,Mylanta,Tums,etc] must be reaching shocking levels among their analysts from these political in-fighting battles. Thxs for the possible confirmation above. This trend has probably made the IEA & EIA lousy places for top-notch analysts to work. I can easily picture the lunchroom divided into two camps.

I also long advised that Fatih Birol would be better served to split these factions into pro/con camps, then let them issue their own reports, but rigidly based upon the same single dataset gathered by their army of statisticians. IMO, TOD's unique structure is better suited for the intensive Meatgrinder discussions to reach a loose consensus, not divisive 'pissing contests' inside the IEA or EIA. That is not the primary function of what should primarily be accurate data-gathering orgs.

Let's hope the statisticians have not been affected by the analysts' arguing as that could really start to skew the data if they add their twist based upon their own politics.

I would prefer to see their politics damped as much as possible. IMO, their missions need to focus on increasing data quality and timeliness, and pushing for independent audits as suggested again by Simmons in the DB toplink today. My feeble two cents.

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

'nuff said on this topic. Let's move on. Next.


Since there is so much interest in this topic, I'm going to allow people to beat it to death today, in this thread, if they want.

But "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" - keep the discussion here. Tomorrow, we really are moving on.

Leanan, I admire your moderation style. I would be a lot less patient with some people (not excluding myself ;-).

Gail, I admire your willingness to spend time with industry representatives and to record and then pass on to us what they tell you. It is a tremendous service you are doing us.

With the oil sands pieces, I always understood you to be in the position of a translator - you said what you heard, without any personal investment in any of it. (Apart from one or two paragraphs, which you clearly signalled were opinion.)

I thank you for the time you spend, and I think you did a very good job of summarising your trip.

(Sorry for the lateness, I was out trying out my new-to-me crampons and ice axe. There's a lot to learn.)


"Since there is so much interest in this topic, I'm going to allow people to beat it to death today, in this thread, if they want.

This is in good style, allowing it to play out. Nate's attempts to divert via "Let's move on" is like throwing gasoline on a little conspiracy flame. Like he's trying to hide something. An especially wonderful touch, seeing as how she's become The Industry Pawn in more than a few people's eyes, Gail's emphatic concurrence "Agreed!"

Which is probably why there's the ruckus - this little snafu seems like some sort of violation of trust. The site appears otherwise transparent in its dealings, but this feels like you've been hiding something, making secret revisions to things in the background in an attempt to obfuscate the truth.

While I don't personally think that's the case, it would be disingenuous to intimate that there are no skeletal remains in TOD's closet. The more people that get pulled in as editors and contributors the more baggage is brought on as well - especially since those being brought on aren't the, for the lack of better descriptor, Super-Nerd Truth-seeking engineers/scientists. Back in the days of the Holy Triumvirate + 1 of H.O., Stuart, Goose, and Yankee there was really nothing to warrant questioning the motives behind the individual. The acquisition of Robert was excellent, his motives are clear and his work speaks for itself in it's attention to detail (though there are still some loons who thinks he's a shill because of his analysis on (lack of) feasibility of ethanol). He's always been ready to combat claims against his work with evidence.

When you stray from the BTU's, watts, and "pure" science into geopolitics, law, behavioral science, etc. a whole other can of worms gets opened up and opinions, like assholes, everyone's got one (and everyone's gotta be one at some point).

No conspiracy, I assure you. The truth about brouhahas like this is usually far more mundane than you would imagine. Nine times out of ten, the issue is some kind of personality conflict or misunderstanding.

And here at TOD, often even the staff doesn't know what's going on. We all work on our own sections, and have no clue what's going on elsewhere. Nate, Gail, and PG are the cat-herders. They are usually the ones who decide what articles go on the front page, deal with contributors and other correspondence, etc. They have lives apart from TOD, and aren't always available; whoever is will handle site business.

So if our response sometimes seems a bit disjointed, it's because we often don't know the whole story, either.


From This week in Science CiteTrack email September 4 2009, 325 (5945)
Climate Reversal


The climate and environment of the Arctic have changed drastically over the short course of modern observation. Kaufman et al. (p. 1236) synthesized 2000 years of proxy data from lakes above 60° N latitude with complementary ice core and tree ring records, to create a paleoclimate reconstruction for the Arctic with a 10-year resolution. A gradual cooling trend at the start of the record had reversed by the beginning of the 20th century, when temperatures began to increase rapidly. The long-term cooling of the Arctic is consistent with a reduction in summer solar insolation caused by changes in Earth's orbit, while the rapid and large warming of the past century is consistent with the human-caused warming.

"...unevolved intellectual shortcomings " what i find unevolved intellectually is taking the words of wallace pratt literally.

memo to: peter foster

oil is not actually found in people's minds. you see mr. foster, that is what is called a metaphor.

and what about the bp tiber discovery .................. 3 gb(maybe) ?? give us a break, just over a month's worth of worldwide demand.

and another thing: a lot of dry holes are also found in the minds of men and women.

what about the bp tiber discovery

The Tiber discovery has nothing to do with the timimg of world peak oil - it has to do with post peak downslope production and when the world will run out of oil. The timing of world Peak Oil is about affordable flow rates, not reserves.

he Tiber discovery has nothing to do with the timimg of world peak oil - it has to do with post peak downslope production and when the world will run out of oil.

Sorry to disagree with you. But I think the Tiber discovery is a sign that we are near peak, otherwise why would the great expense and risk of drilling such a difficult prospect have been made. It is only the probability of post-peak scarcity pricing that made it a worthwhile endeavour.

But any production that comes from it will mitigate the early part of the downslope -or perhaps extend the plateau a bit longer. But, thirty years from now it will have been long since exhausted. Hopefully we will have used any short time extension Tiber grants us wisely.

EOS -- Not neccesarially disagreeing with your premise but I'll offer another view. I've hunted FF for 34 years. Companies like BP began chasing Deep Water targets and other expensive plays for one simple reason: survival. The majors and large independents cannot survive chasing the smaller plays I've been focused on. Virtually almost all the big guys are public companies. They either the expand (or at least replace) their prodction or they will quickly see their stock price go towards zero. This upsets shareholders who respond by firing CEO's who respond by firing upper level managers who respond by firing etc etc etc.

The Deeper Water discoveries like Tiber are possible due to technology improvements. Companies supported this expansion so they could hunt for the big finds. But the need to go deep is a function of PO in the sense that the big low hanging fruit, like Ghawar, was picked decades ago. Obvious relationship to most of us on TOD I assume.

I'm also not as optimistic as you are about its impact. We'll see as BP starts offering details. The only way Tiber will be in play to any significant degree for the next 30 years is if the flow rate is rather low and thus a limited impact. Should they spend the big $'s to ramp up the rate significantly then significant field life will be more on the order of a decade. But Tiber is great news: big benefit for our trade imbalace, huge taxes and royalty income for our citizens, sustained imployment for their staff, etc. But as some pointed out in an earlier post we'll need to find a Tiber every month or so to change our future to any great degree. The DW GOM and Brazil will expand for decades. But like all other great plays before, it is finite.

I'm also not as optimistic as you are about its impact. We'll see as BP starts offering details. The only way Tiber will be in play to any significant degree for the next 30 years is if the flow rate is rather low and thus a limited impact.

I agree Rockman, it'll take 100 fields like this to slow the decline.

I have a couple of questions about some of these deep water projects that perhaps you can answer:

How much of the reserves are oil, and how much gas? They carefully release statements about "barrels of oil equivilent", but it's a mixture. My (poor) understanding of it was that as you went deeper and got hotter you were more likely to get gas than oil, so my first guess was that these fields had lots of gas and maybe not so much oil.

The second question is whether gas in a field like this was stranded. Is there enough to liquify it? At 250 miles off the coast and in a mile or more of water, can they profitably install a pipeline for the gas?


At 250 miles off the coast and in a mile or more of water, can they profitably install a pipeline for the gas?

Thats a gimme

NO !

Or more correctly not in a million years nor friggin way your out of your mind :)

David -- The "equivalent bbls" is commonly used. The typical ratio is 1 bbl = 6 mcf (mcf = 1000 cu ft). It can be confusing especial if they give such a number for a field that's all NG with no oil. They can offer a field volume in equivalent watermellons as long as they state it clearly. It's normally done to offer a sense of size when there is a big NG component.

Oil will crack to NG at high temps. But that was the big surprise in the Deep Water play. The temp gradient out there is much lower then anywhere in the GOM. Don't know the exact number but the temp at the bottom of BP's 34,000' hole may not be higher then a well at 14,000' on the La. shoreline. The decay of radioactive elements produces the heat in the earth. The rapid deposition of 50,000'+ of "cool" sediments act like an insulating blanket. Those sediments will eventually heat up but that's many, many millions of years down the road.

Memmel is right about the pipeline costs often being a project killer. But the line wouldn't have to be 250 miles long. There are numerous pl's out to the edge of the continental shelf (600' water depth). Deep Water gas has been producing thru the Independence Hub (deepest water NG collecting point in the world). It caries around 1 billion cf of NG daily. But it lies on the eastern edge of the DW play. The western play doesn't have such a gathering system...yet. I can't speculate on if/when the economics would work for such an expansion. Typically those expensive pl's require multiple fields to justify their costs. Thus it's almost always a third party company that builds the line and then transports (for a fee) for other operators.

why dont the "peak oil is about" crowd tell us what peak oil "IS", not what it "IS ABOUT" or "NOT ABOUT". here is my attempt: peak oil is defined as the maximum worldwide extraction rate(period)

i hate that phrase, "it's about" or "it's not about", where did it come from ? it sounds like an iconic, idiomatic phrase from tvland.

and here is another bogus phrase: "it's not the size of the tank, it's the size of the tap" (i have a mathmatical proof that this is simply not true).

At the point one spends more than 10% of their time trying to correct misunderstandings of the terms, it's past time to have changed the terms.

"peak oil" has become a constipated smeme. (referring to a former discussion of shorthand meme complexes on TOD). We might do well to write off the sunk costs and reframe the discussion around terms we define.

Best not done lightly, but in a coordinated way.

Yet another revealing Peak Oil trope is that the "easy" oil has been found, as if it was easier to drill in a remote, muddy areas of Pennsylvania with rigs brought in by donkeys 150 years ago than it is to drill from a high-tech drill ship (although it certainly is more expensive. A single Gulf well can cost US$200 million).

I'm always amazed by what Leanan dredges up for our amusement--oil and the minds of men from the Drumbeat today.

I admit ignorance, but I'll bet that someone on TOD knows if carrying a wooden derrick on donkeys really is as hard as drilling through thousands of feet of water and mud in a turbulent ocean on a modern ship. The author of the Post article seems to feel it is self-evidently so, and therefore another justification for the assumption that Peak Oil is just a figment of deranged or depressed imagination.

The cornucopians are getting pretty desperate, it seems.

I am really amazed the number of peak oil articles that are being published these days. I guess it's partly because of the 150th anniversary of oil, and partly because of Tiber, but still. With oil prices relatively low, I just wouldn't expect so much interest in peak oil from the MSM.

How about this conspiracy theory: the sudden outpour of these articles stems from the Obama administration, orchestrated by Rahm Emanuel's office, as another effort in their war to deny economic reality--it's an effort to drive down oil prices which have been creeping back up to Katrina levels and seems to have been moderately successful.

I don't think I believe that, but heres an oped in NYTimes on Waxman Markey backdrop. Who knows?

I guess if the Obama administration can set up death panels, brain wash school children with socialist hypnotism and create phony birth certificates they can orchestrate thousands of separate news articles.


Re the school kids thing, IMO it is following the trend started with Bush Jr. The level of contempt and cynicism among the American public is at all time highs, and the White House no longer commands nearly as much respect as it did even in Bill Clinton's era. A large and growing % of the public feels that Washington is against their interests, and to a certain extent Obama is bearing the brunt of this sentiment.

Or some don't want to expose tender little white minds to an eloquent Black man?

It's unlikely that the oil industry would spend money to effect lower oil prices, but it's certainly suspicious that virtually every infamous petroleum cornucopian has been commissioned in the past few weeks to put out a piece of blatant disinformation about peak oil. The Obama administration has been hyperactive in the economic disinformation campaign and has not been shy about dumping lots of money into the effort to prop up the economy. This would be a logical action. How about $500,000 for a nice article to that effect? Not bad for a day's work in any discipline...

With oil prices relatively low, I just wouldn't expect so much interest in peak oil from the MSM.

.... hmmm, Brent is up from ~$45 to ~$65 in just 6 months - an annual rate of ~90% (hardly a 'green shoot'!), despite the world's worst recession for 70 years.

IMO the MSM and people like the IEA can't hide the real world facts that 'Joe Public' sees with his own eyes every day - times are not normal, prices are rising even as world demand falls ... wassup?

Gandhi: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you. Then you win." I sense the Peak Oil meme has moved to the "fight you" stage. Hence the mocking articles, and the great number of them.

Give the cornucopians a break. How should they know? They've just never had the chance to hitch a team of donkeys to a drilling ship before.

It's really a matter of asking the donkeys which is harder.

On an almost related note:
I was just reading 'Little house in the big woods' to my daughter last night, and they described an old thrashing setup with a power source called a 'horsepower', basically walking a team of 8 in a circle, hitched to bars and gears, etc.. keeps me wondering just how close to that "745.699872 watts" (google) they were each actually providing..

No one has answered my query yet. But I will offer this further observation:
I have had some minor experience with packing with mules (not donkeys -- they are harder). But the biggest ship I have been on is a fishing boat that spent a few queasy hours off the coast of Coos Bay. I believe mules, and even donkeys are easier.

That proves that peak oil is real.

Thread from peakoil.com: Wondrously high EROEI oil fields from Days of Yore

A frequent claim of peaker/doomers is that the shallow, land-based oil fields back in the "Good Old Days" had a high return of energy received from energy invested. But if you look at pictures of how they actually drilled oil back then, I, for certain, question whether those "easy" fields had such high EROEI's after all. The intensity of development was higher than almost anything more recent I've seen. Combine that with the fact that the machinery (drilling, pumping, transport, etc) back then was far less efficient than it is now, and some of the unconventional plays nowadays almost look like paragons of efficiency.

Pictures of Spindletop and derricks clustered together like blades of grass are exhibit A. Later on in the thread I documented that, in the case of the same phenomenon happening in the East Texas field, that this was strictly due to greed; but the OP isn't amenable to suggestion, like so many others.

Yup, IMO, the 'Gang of Four' [H/T Simmons] are grasping at straws. I would like to see any one of the four scientifically explain how the mighty 'Minds of Men' have wildly succeeded, over the past 150 years, in making Pennsylvania the world's largest oilfield with the world's largest flowrate [hint: they failed miserably]:

PENNZOIL: Our most famous motor oil honors the state where the Oil Age began...[Please see the included production graphic]

From When Will the Joy Ride End?
by Randy Udall, 1999

I define the Oil Leg of my version of the "Iron Triangle" as some major oil companies, some oil exporters and some energy analysts. We have had the recent pronouncement from the Saudis that the outer limit of their resource potential approaches a trillion barrels, and Yergin and Lynch have been effectively debating whether we hit a peak plateau in the 21st or 22nd Centuries (and the media guys have dutifully reported all of this), but it seems to me that we haven't heard much lately from the major companies regarding Peak Oil concepts, in contrast to years past, e.g, in 2006 ExxonMobil ran the following in the New York Times:

"Contrary to the theory, oil production shows no signs of a peak... Oil is a finite resource, but because it is so incredibly large, a peak will not occur this year, next year, or for decades to come"

ExxonMobil Advertisement in New York Times, June 2, 2006

Never --I'll offer a personal insight with regards to the difficulties of finding FF over time. This may be diffcult for some to accept but the effort to locate viable drilling prospects (the actually generation effort) has never been easier. The improvement in seismic data and it's continued expansion into previously under-explored plays is difficult for outsiders to appreciate. I can only offer a silly analogy: when I started 34 years ago it was like looking for Easter eggs in Yankee stadium at night with a pen light with weak batteries. Today it like having 100 million lumins shinning on the field. But to continue this silly plot over the last 80 years all the big piles of eggs were found by a lot of folks with the poor lighting. It just took a very long time and much wasted effort.

The big Deep Water discoveries represent those eggs hidden in the stands all those wheel chair bound explorationists of yesterday couldn't reach. We can find those big piles today. Unfortunately there just aren't too many of them.

More on point about the physical difficulties of drilling today. Three decades ago crippling injuries and death were not an uncommon fact of life in the oil patch. I've seen first hand a bit of the carnage. I'll skip over my own list of red badges. Add that to the long back breaking days most hands dealt with. Today saftey is THE issue. The body count has dropped considerably. Technology has repalced blood and sweat to a great degree. The entire process is much easier, cleaner, healthier, saner, etc, then it has ever been.

Today I work for a contrarian. We're buying into world class drilling deals at bargain basement prices. And then drilling at costs almost half of what they were a year ago. Our success rate will be many time that of the more success companies 30 years ago. And the prospect of loosing a hand or life is no worse then driving around town on a Saturday night.

Just the view of someone who lives the process 24/7.

Thanks, Rockman. That's very interesting. I know nothing of oil; I do know medicine. It seems that technology has made oil drilling much easier in some ways, but the receding horizon has negated the gains in other ways -- except, at least you don't get maimed or killed so often. Similarly, in medicine, technology has made diagnosis much easier, but at the cost of increasing expectations that we medicine men can actually do something about the things we find. To some extent that really is true -- but once again, the laws of receding horizons and diminishing returns have made expectations outpace the reality of therapeutics.

In my more optimistic moments, I think that this great collapse of "peak everything" may possibly be just a major time-out-- and civilization will proceed with greater understanding. In more dire moments, it seems like the failure of leadership at all levels will sentence us to Mad Max or worse. This alternative view is too grim to spend much time with, but it haunts me in nightmares once in a while.

Never -- I hadn't thought of it but the medical field comparison is very good. Your ability to diagnose is so much improved over the decades. And even though treatments have improved the sad bottom line is that you've become very good at discovering problems you can't fix. A least not yet. Likewise the oil path has become very good at revealing how little oil/NG is left out there. And we can't fix that situation either.

I value your comments since they are from an insider in the oil industry. I am glad to know that oil is easier to find than ever based on the very expensive technology that is employed by the explorers for oil. But I think you did not emphsize enough the cost of development and production of such plays as BP's Tiber. This field may cost near what Thunder Horse cost, $2.5 billion, or maybe $4 billion in tomorrows inflated dollars.

I am not in the energy industry directly, but I am a mechanical engineer that has done some consulting work on transportation projects for oil distributors. The complexity of the wells and cost to bring the oil to the refiners (undersea pipes, pumping stations, ship loading facilities) is creating higher production costs compared to onshore. Furthermore the use of EOR to perpetuate these deepwater finds is limited by location and cost of marginal production.

So, BP's find is great, but the speed of development is much slower and production cost per barrel is an order of magnitude greater than the TX onshore fields or shallow water LA & TX fields.

All correct nb. But the numbers can still work if there's enough grease there. I can't guess how much the development costs will be but lets push it to $10 billion. If they have 2 billion bbls recoverable: 2 billion X 5/6 (reduced for royalty) X $50/bbl = $84 billion. But the time factor you mentioned can be an even bigger negative then the development cost itself. Companies take into this time value of money by applying a "discount factor". Sort of like a reverse interest rate. Typically 10% to 15%. Thus a dollar generated a year from now is valued only at $.90 to $.85. Go farther down the cash flow and you can see how quickly the income appears to decrease in value. This process generates a "net present value". Extend the development time and the NPV decreases proportionally. I'll offer a guess for the number I threw out above. The NPV of the $84 billion future income might be $30 billion. Thus the simple return on the investment is 3:1 ($30 billion/$10 billion). In the oil patch these days that's a very good deal. But also consider that BP is a public company and the market values it stock based on future expectations. I've seen such companies make big investments even if they offer only a break even return. As some say on Wall Street: we sell the sizzle...not the steak.

In investment decisionmaking, I always understood "easy" to be a financial term, meaning "either very little capital is required for a profit, or the venture is very low risk and has very high return on capital employed."

(although it certainly is more expensive. A single Gulf well can cost US$200 million).

What was the capital cost of a wooden derrick, some donkeys, and a cart in Pennsylvania in 1859, in 2009 dollars?

My guess: less than $200 000. A thousand-fold increase in capital cost, at a minimum. And an increase in risk, despite the new imaging technology.

It's kind of sad that the author can actually state the underlying reason for peak oil -- ever-increasing capital cost -- but cannot make the tiny step to realising its implications. Upton Sinclair strikes again, I guess.

The other day Darwin's Dog made an observation that we are making ourselves schizophrenic posting articles about AGW that is a result of burning fossil fuels that will destroy civilization, while at the same time we're scaring ourselves to death that we might run out of the filthy stuff.

He's right. It's crazy making.


In the end, the only answer is to use less, of everything. But given our pursuit of feelings that resulted in resource acquisition and mating success in the past, the fact that complexity arises from preferring things in color as opposed to black and white, we are inherently driven to use more. Only when we collectively determine that using more makes us worse off will this trajectory change, and perhaps not even then.

We loyal Americans can not use less--"The American way of life is not negotiable." Furthermore, "collectively determining" to use less is Communistic, and the history of Communism already ended in the triumph of the Market Economy of every individual seeking his or her own best interests.

Looks like we are doomed, but it has been fun. And it is really amusing in a sort of macabre way to sit on my couch this holiday weekend, reading all this, and watching it all come down. I have to get out of here and go for a walk and talk to some flesh and blood people!

Communism was central control of resources - but they still pursued growth of the resource pie i.e. more is better. I didn't mean collective in that sense anyways - I meant 'as opposed to just a few of us, we would need a majority to shift to that world view'.

Absolutely right, as the argument was not about the means of production, but who owned the means of production.
You are going to lose that game to capitalism every time.

Hello. The history of communism is not over. Did you notice the color of the Chinese flag?

What is over is the history of Russian communism. The Russians are really good at basic science, thick novels and chess. I don't think economics was ever really their strong suite.

I guess I just don't really understand what a "Communist" is. 50 years ago the, Richard Nixon made himself a major player by being against "Communists". At the end of his career, he made himself a major player by opening up the "Communists" of China to the Western market economies. Now, "we" are falling all over ourselves not to annoy or offend the "communists" of China. But Van Jones has just been outed and dismissed from the "socialist" (absolutely not) Obama administration.

Seems to me that the real organizational axis is market<==>tribal. From groups of people who believe that only individuals can survive, to groups of people who believe that only a coherent group can survive. That seems to be the true left-right divide, not some phony label of "conservative" or "liberal" or whatever. And whether one group or the other is actually dominant, depends to some extent on the availability of resources. The "market" will triumph whenever there are the resources and the technology to exploit them, and it will fail when times are meager.

Harvesting the energy from fossil fuels has meant paving over land and building something made of cement on it. Harvesting the energy from solar rays (as growing crops, for example) means taking the paving and cement off first if there is not enough land available. That is expensive and time consuming. If our society was all focused on doing that though---aimed at solar energy harvesting, not FF energy harvesting, then perhaps the way people get fed could be changed without changing basic competitive human nature. However, if the market is waiting for a "market signal"--people start getting fantastically hungry and weak and even dying from lack of food, before they start clearing land then that is most unfortunate.

But if somehow the govt could start people madly trying to harvest solar energy before it`s too late (ie where the market signal is true devastating hunger) then some people would still be able to "rise" above the common denominator and engage in more complex, profitable or prestigious work----and this would give everyone the chance, however small, to try to accumulate more and be an elite.

The govt could maybe, just maybe, reset the currency before devastating hyperinflation sets in and make food and oil extremely expensive but everything else cheap---making all sorts of people set out to work the land to strike it rich. I am not sure if this is possible of course.

The analogy is something like a computer (the hardware---us) the software (the form of energy). We are hardwired to compete---and that can`t change--- but the govt can maybe change the operating system so we don`t all die off in the process of running on fatally flawed data ("keep harvesting them FF!")

The problem is what happens after Peak Oil. For Business-As-Usual (BAU) thinkers, the next steps involve the transition to burning other fossil fuels, such as coal, tar sands or oil shale, etc. In that these primary energy sources produce much more CO2 per unit of delivered energy, the BAU approach will make AGW much worse compared to the cornrucopian view that Peak Oil is decades in the future. A near term occurrence of Peak Oil would be good for the problem of AGW, if it weren't for those other fuels, each of which is even more "filthy" than oil (or natural gas).

E. Swanson

the BAU approach

Humanity is never going to give this ideal up. Unless of course the sheep that follow the brainless powers that be suddenly all get a touch of contagious intelligence. You going to be the one to tell your friends, family, colleages acquaintances etc that life as they know it is going to get rather different? They are all to busy worrying about how long their neighbours front yard grass is.


As soon as conventional oilproduction begins to run downhill, it will become clear that tar sands, CTL, GTL and biofuels cannot keep BAU going.

That fact won't stop 'them' trying.

That schizophrenia runs deep everywhere. Article after article, 1000's of them, on how we're not running out of fossil fuels and there's plenty of black stuff in various forms in the ground but rarely do any of these articles pose the question "should we remove them from the ground?"

This is why I think it's such a waste of time postulating about AGW - because humanity is going to dig up and burn anything it can before it lets society collapse due to lack of energy. We're on he start of the energy decendency when weaves of civilisation will start to come undone. At no point are we suddenly going to give nature a break when this gains momentum.

We here of course all know that we should have started a crash program in shifting to a low carbon world ( 20 years ago) but it has nothing to do with saving the planet. It is to do with propping up civilisation.


Hard Rock International began working hard to "Save the Planet™" long before the environment became a widely supported cause. Its pioneering mission to give something back - both on a global basis and by involvement in smaller community projects - has not only served as a catalyst to raise funds, but it has also enhanced the very profile of corporate charity work.

I remember about 15 years ago sitting at a blackjack table at the HardRock in Vegas and I saw that little slogan on their gambling chips. What a bunch of hypocrites. WTF does my gambling, drinking and oogling scantily dressed cocktail waitresses have to do with "saving the planet"?


LOL. A bit like the BP slogan "beyond petroleum...". It's a big con because the sentence actually finishes "....you are looking at the demise of civilisation", but that doesn't make for very good marketing.

I guess the next step is to re-brand as BC - Beyond Civilization.

Marco -

I absolutely agree!

I predict that in a decade or two, concern over global warming will become a thing of the past. This will be so even if it becomes irrefutable that serious and highly disruptive effects of global warming are actually taking place (e.g., draughts in food-producing regions, coastal flooding, weird weather patterns, etc). The reason is that we will be too busying desperately trying extract every last molecule of reduced carbon that the earth's crust can provide.

Concern about the environment will become next to non-existent, as we plant every available acre for bio-fuel, rip off mountain tops to get at more coal, and search the planet for every deposit of low-quality combustible gum or goo that we can find.

We will be like a plague of locusts finishing off the last of a wheat field and then looking around to see where we can pillage next.

Of course superimposed over all of this will be increasingly ugly global 'competition' over energy resources which will escalate into actual war (though energy will never be the officially stated reason).

It ain't a pretty picture and one that won't be changed unless some drastic measures are implemented real soon. But they probably won't.

yep. well said.

A hearty second to that well said!

A crashed economy will slow this process somewhat (maybe a lot).

joule - I think you're right. A year ago when gas was $4.50 a gallon at the pump there was all of a sudden this hysterical "drill baby drill" mantra. I shudder to imagine what a nation of spoiled adolescents will do when things get really hard.


"In a decade or two".............
You gotta be kidding, all official concern for global warming is rhetoric.
Has been and will be.

Talk of and building renewable energy delivery systems, carbon sequestration, nuclear, more efficient ICE and battery cars is not for the "environment", it's because the writing on the wall is there for every government and major corporation to see. The writing says peak FF's.

When it comes to walking the talk and actually making sacrifices for the "environment", I'm sorry but ain't gonna happen. The changes that will be made will be out necessity not out of concern for global warming.

If there is an economic advantage in change or adapting it will get due consideration but governments, states or even counties will not make meaningful changes if it means any form of sacrifice and/or hardship. Taxes can only be raised so high before hell is raised with the economy and taxpayer.

Listen, I hate to split hairs but in reference to the article from the Washington Post about the Lockerbie bomber and oil you have put it under the strap line 'UK official admits ....'

Jack Straw is Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Justice and a former Foreign Secretary so he is hardly 'an official'.

I have no love for either Mr Straw or the Labour Party, but do you think we could do him the honour of getting his title correct?

Apart from anything else it is of material importance to the topic that the Justice Secretary has admitted an oil link to this squalid affair.


Take it up with AP. They wrote the headline, not me.

HAc, the real squalidity is that three uk "honourable" judges lied to convict an innocent man (as there was no jury to defend justice for Magrahi). And that now they have conspired to avoid an appeal unearthing that dirt. In line with my own case, three unaccountable liar judges resulting in a seriously-ill harassment victim being suddenly evicted into homelessness giving victory to the callous harassers. At least a prisoner is fed and housed rather than thrown out to probable death in the streets. www.2020housing.co.uk
The further squalidity is the hypocrisy of the US complainers who gave medals to the US navy murderers who shot down the Persian airliner (thereby certainly causing the Lockerbie bombing in revenge).

Note that the "honourable" Jack Straw has not replied to my letter on above website. More like sec of state for injustice and corruption if you really wish to pick hairs.

Straw is happily "admitting" an oil connection in order to divert attention from the real filth of the scam that is the "justice" system in the UK. The most evil institution in the land.

Might makes right. Jack Straw makes the Law.

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from off the goose.

The law demands that we atone
When we take things we do not own
But leaves the lords and ladies fine
Who take things that are yours and mine.

The poor and wretched don’t escape
If they conspire the law to break;
This must be so but they endure
Those who conspire to make the law.

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
And geese will still a common lack
Till they go and steal it back.

Thanks to Nate and Gail for responding to my earlier question. I’ll acknowledge several points in their responses right up front: 1) it’s a tough job to edit an online publication like TOD where many articles are contributed by guests, where factual and editorial pieces are not necessarily segregated and where many editorial decisions get made on the fly; 2) Fatih Birol is, in all likelihood, a courageous person who is fighting within IEA for a more accurate and truthful representation of the world oil situation; and 3) the article submitted by Lionel is not “perfect” – one could readily find a justification for deciding it does not merit front-page treatment on TOD.

That said, I respectfully suggest that TOD missed the forest for the trees on this one. The article contains important information about the debate over peak oil within the IEA, how that organization has presented that information to the world, and the variability and veracity of statements by its chief economist. This is highly relevant to TOD’s readership and to TOD’s mission in life irregardless of whether the editors agree with its tone or not. (Hat tip to Leanan for posting it on Drumbeat.)

The underlying concern here is obviously not so much this one article, but wanting to understand what “filter” is being put on the things that get published on TOD and whether that “filter” has changed recently. I understand that a “filter” is needed – you can’t and shouldn’t publish everything. Make no mistake, I have no interest in conspiracy theories and am a loyal supporter of The Oil Drum, what you stand for and what you have accomplished. Without exaggeration, I consider TOD the most important publication in the world. Guess what though --that makes it all the more important to try to understand how editorial “filtering” decisions are made.

Bottom line: If the article was rejected because of perceived style flaws (Nate’s explanation) -- tough luck. We can debate the decision, but stuff happens. Maybe next time. On the other hand, if the article was rejected because an editor was afraid of rattling cages at the IEA (Gail’s initial written explanation to the author), then TOD editors, other insiders and readers all appear to have some cause for concern. Apologies for the lengthy post and starting a food fight.

1) It wasn't rejected. Lionel withdrew it. I don't think he understands that having an article accepted doesn't mean we will publish it as-is. We usually do ask for edits.

2) Gail was not afraid. Her concern was fairness and objectivity, not fear of the IEA.

Sometimes it is hard to put one's finger on what won't work about a post. This post had that characteristic.

You will remember my post about the IEA organization. This post talked about a lot of details of the organization. Among other things, it said:

Given the current structure and objectives of the IEA, it seems like it would be very difficult for the IEA to be 100% objective, especially in making forecasts where there is a high degree of uncertainty. The objectives of IEA, and of its more-or-less parent OECD, are not consistent with declining energy availability, and declining growth. So in this context, Mssrs. Tanaka and Birol face considerable challenges.

Upon discussing the situation with Nate and Kyle, we decided with some editing that the piece could be made more balanced, and reflect more the true nature of the situation Birol was in. When this was suggested to Lionel, he refused.

I should point out that the e-mail that was supposedly from Jeff Vail was edited by Lionel to remove Jeff's statement about the post needing changes. In the version Lionel chose to excerpt, it gives a completely false view of the e-mail.

I think it is unfortunate this whole issue came up.

I should point out that the e-mail that was supposedly from Jeff Vail was edited by Lionel to remove Jeff's statement about the post needing changes. In the version Lionel chose to excerpt, it gives a completely false view of the e-mail.

I would like to see Jeff Vail confirm that.

To me that paints a picture of one without
integrity. I find that significantly troubling !

I didn't realize that Lionel was mis-quoting Jeff when I first read Lionel's post this morning, because I hadn't been copied on Jeff's e-mail. It wasn't until Jeff e-mailed me about the misquote this afternoon that I figured it out.

Thinking back, I had gotten an e-mail from Kyle back when we were discussing whether to post the piece saying, "Perhaps Lionel will listen to Jeff about the need for edits, if he doesn't listen to you." So I should have figured out Jeff was being mis-quoted.

It seems very strange to me that someone would pull such a stunt, when it is very easy for the editors to figure it out. Makes one wonder about his other quotes.

Quoting out of context, in my book, is the unforgivable sin. I used to debate creationists in open forum. I have debated Kent Hovind twice. That was a favorite trick of his. He would quote biologists, sometimes cutting the quote in mid sentence, but always what he quoted would change the entire context of what the biologists actually said.

Since then I have had nothing but contempt for people who quote out of context in order to change the meaning of a person's words.

Hovind is now in jail, serving a ten year sentence for tax evasion. He now has a new minstery, preaching young earth creationism to prisoners.

Ron P.

"Quoting...is the unforgivable sin."

You think so? So many people do it though.

"...I have had nothing but contempt for people..."

Well, geez! I don't like you either then!


(Announcer): Thank you for watching this edition of Out-of-Context Theater.

I forwarded you the email I received from Jeff Vail, judge by yourself...

At no point I misquoted him, and I find such accusations very serious and defamatory.

TOD is clearly trying to discredit me now.

@ lb262

Got you email with Jeff Vail and Gail Tverberg's
emails included.

@ Gail and Anyone Else

It is my understanding that email protocol
specifies if one includes someone else's email
to third party (me) the original writers of
the included email(s) should have give
permission first.

Am I wrong ?

Article about adding solar concentrating hot water and/or steam generation to existing coal-fired plants...I recalled the discussion about how Coal-fired boilers and steam heat exchangers worked a couple of Drum Beats ago. Doesn't se to be a revolution in energy generation, but maybe the game to adapt our ways is a series of first downs or singles, rather than expectations of hail Mary passes or Grand Slams.


A potential incremental gain in fuel cell technology:


But in the same Technology Review ezine, an article discounting new urbanization:


This is not a conclusion many people at TOD would accept, but it would be interesting to see the assumptions and math of the study. At a first-thought level, it seems to make sense that it would be easier, cheaper, quicker, and more politically palatable,to produce cars with improved efficiency vice encouraging/forcing/etc.lots of folks to move to city centers and construct more apartment buildings and so forth. Building 50 mpg+ cars and car pooling and tele-commuting and insulating existing houses in place and adding gardens sounds a lot more feasible on a quick time scale than uprooting millions of people and razing scads of suburban houses and simultaneously building lots of urban apartment buildings.

People may fervently wish for the re-urbanization scenario, but one has to 'do the math' and add up all the costs and time scales and see what really reduced energy use more and on a quicker time scale.

Of course, it is not an either-or choice...improving vehicle efficiency, home gardens, etc. starting very soon, and migration over longer time scales?

Moon watcher,

I believe you have a very good argument in that we might be better off trying to save the burbs than moving every body from an energy pov, and it goes w/o saying that politically a plan that saves the burbs is infinitely more likely to succeed that one that uproots people.

Personally I believe that if we were to mandate the production of truly serviceable durable and economical cars by having a BUILDING CODE for automobiles and light trucks that it could be done-and even if such a code does not help save bau as we know it ,the net effect would still be positive in the extreme.

Such a program would require virtually nothing in terms of new and untested technology.It requires only the application of the same public interest standards to the auto industry that have applied to the building industry since the adoption of uniform construction codes.

Such a program has the potential to make autos our USEFUL servants again ,rather than resource sucking ego extensions.

All that is necessary,from a manufacturing pov, is to apply the design standards/parameters used by heavy truck and farm and construction equipment -suitably adjusted of course-to cars and light trucks.

Of course some arm twisting by govt in the form of taxes on non complying vehicles,etc, would probably be necessary to convince people to buy such cars at first.

Old Farmer Mac,

From a systems approach perspective, your ideas to set and enforce minimum standards for vehicles wrt efficiency make great sense.

I am afraid that the screamers would cry communism, socialism, and eco-nazi-ism from every rooftop, town hall, AM talk radio station, and Fox/CNN news channel.

There are a lot of people who are invested in corporations who have vested interests in keeping things going down the chosen path to keep their business models and revenue streams intact.

We all don't seem to have the ability to work together for the common good. If someone can't drive a 400HP hot rod or a 6,000 pound SUV (by themselves, jack-rabbit stop and go driving style, not consolidating trips) then their freedoms are completely compromised.

As long as I'm alive I will keep having hope that positive change will come...slowly maybe...

Hi MoonWatcher,

All of what you say is true, but there is a glimmer of hope. As the cost of gasoline crept past $4.00 a gallon with no end in sight, and with news reports of sporadic fuel shortages, you got the sense that truck and SUV owners were taking some heat; if their excessively high consumption wasn't recognized as part of the problem, if nothing else, we worried that the fuel consumed by these gas hogs might very well deny "us" "our" rightful share. I'm sure some Hummer owners were feeling a bit sheepish -- these drivers after all expected respect, not ridicule -- and a good number more probably worried that their vehicles would be vandalized.

Automobiles fall in and out of "fashion" with the normal course of events (remember the mid to late 70s when Detroit couldn't crank out enough full size vans, aka "sin bins", then the bottom fell out with the '79 oil crisis?). If we're lucky, trucks and SUVs will suffer the same swift fate.


""By 2012, we will either be in a world of $200 per barrel oil or we will be back in another oil-induced recession," he added."

A rather qualified prediction. Oil prices will be higher or they won't. I predict that next Friday, gold will either close above $1,000 or else investors will sell it for less.

Yes, but you are better informed on this subject than most of his readers-he is basically explaining (obvious as it is) that the days of say 1998 ($10 oil and a strong economy) will never return, ever. Some people still think that is a controversial view.

To put the $200 comment in better perspective, here are the two paragraphs prior to that:

"We will see triple digit oil prices very early into an economic recovery," Rubin told Rigzone. "I expect we will be there within 12 months."

While he does contend that the escalating price of oil will cause another recession, Rubin believes that recovery will spell higher prices once again. The economist predicts $200 oil just around the corner.

My analogy is that the world economy, especially in the OECD countries, is like a dog that keeps testing the limits of its chain, with constrained oil supplies (especially exports) being the chain. Each time the dog tests the chain by taking off at a dead run, he is jerked back, when he hits the end of the chain, and then the chain is shortened again, then dog retreats and then tries again. . .

By 2012, we will either be in a world of $200 per barrel oil or we will be back in another oil-induced recession," he added.

He is only half right. We will not be back into another oil-induced recession, we will only be deeper into the first oil, housing and banking induced recession.

It is absolutely foolish to think this very fragile economy could withstand $200 oil prices. The US economy is staggering from every blow. The very next blow could knock it completely out. It could be $200 oil but I seriously doubt it. I believe the economy will collapse long before oil gets to $200 a barrel but very high oil prices, as we have today, will be no small part of it.

Ron P.

I kinda doubt we'll see $200 oil myself...but Rubin's an economist. He was Chief Economist of CIBC for years. Predicting the economy is his bag.

It sounds like he's buying the "green shoots" story.

It will be gradual ... A $3 / gallon economy ... A $4/gal economy ...$5 etc etc.

We are now experiencing a $3 economy at some point we will experience a $4/gal economy

Europe seems to be doing ok on an 8$/gallon economy.... (it's not the price per gallon/liter that matters, it's the (rate of) change).

From the Matt Simmons article, above:

First, alarming data from the International Energy Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy shows that the flow of global crude oil peaked in 2005 and is now sliding steadily.

Can we put this myth to rest?

The highest 12 month period ever is 9/07 through 8/08 - 73.828 MBPD, as compared to calendar year 2005's 73.728 MBPD. Selecting only calendar years for comparison is deceiving.

If demand hadn't tanked (no pun intended) in 4Q2008, 2008 as a calendar year would have exceeded 2005. In fact, 2008's production running average exceeded 2005's until about the last week of December.

I agree it's not an impressive gain from 2005 to the 9/07-8/08 period, and it's all part of the bumpy plateau, and further the lack of new investment while decline continues may mean that production may never reach that level again when demand is restored.

But let's not think that we are 3-4 years post peak yet.

Can we put this myth to rest?

The highest 12 month period ever is 9/07 through 8/08 - 73.828 MBPD,

You should be the one to give your silly myth a rest Steve. The highest year of production for C+C was 2005. If you could change the calendar and make October 1st New Years Day then you can have the peak in a different year. But you cannot do that so enough already!

And in case anyone's interested, non-OPEC peaked in 2004. We are five years post peak for non-OPEC C+C.

Ron P.

EIA gives me highest in 2008

2004        2005        2006        2007        2008
72,493.007  73,736.856  73,460.835  73,006.038  73,791.236

EIA Production of Crude Oil including Lease Condensate (World}

Is there a different EIA source which shows C&C higher for 2005?

Yes, your page has not been revised yet. All the pages here are the latest.

International Petroleum Monthly

Spreadsheets 1.1a thru 1.1d gives you the monthly data with yearly averages. Spreadsheet 4.1d gives you the annual world averages.

2005 	73,728
2006 	73,446
2007 	72,989
2008 	73,709

Ron P.

Thanks for the link.

Also found the older post which points out that EIA includes Canadian tar in the crude totals.

So that just hammers the point out home, doesn't it?
Not only is 2008 lower, it's lower despite the increased tar sand production.

I'm still not ruling out a later peak, but the range of possibilities seem to be narrowing rapidly. If depletion hasn't outstripped new production quite yet, its gonna be damn soon.

Undulating plateau, it would seem. Not exactly a dramatic increase.

More or less what Peak Oil predicted.

Thinking about the annualized production rates, I think you have a point, Steve.
But I think the way you are trying to make your point is a bit clumsy.

Approach #1
PO Guy: Annualized oil production peaked in 2005.
Steve: That's a myth. From 9/07-8/08, the average production rate was slightly higher than in 2005.
PO Guy: What's a myth? No one counts oil production years from Sept-Oct! You're making up stats!

Approach #2
PO Guy: Annualized oil production peaked in 2005.
Steve: True. But from 9/07-8/08, the average production rate was slightly higher than in 2005. So we know that the production capacity is still there
PO Guy: Hmmm. But if there is excess production in the market today, isn't it likely that fewer new projects are going to be brought on line in the near future. And more likely that depletion will actually outstrip new production in the near future. Shifting from a 'demand peak' to a 'production peak'?

Check out the trailer for a story on clean coal on Australian TV tomorrow
Obama says it will work others disagree.

So why is gold nearing $1000 suddenly? I`ve heard that the Chinese have stoppped buying US T-Bonds...is that related?

Also the commercial real estate debacle in the US seems ready to boil over and start a tidal wave of bank failures---too many for the FDIC to deal with at once, causing a bank holiday....and this will also cause problems for the dollar as QE must be implemented or people won`t get their money from their acounts.

Also, the election in Japan probably means that the Japanese govt won`t support the dollar in the same way they did before (if you won`t buy our Toyotas, then we won`t lend you the money to buy them!). The new govt here seems really intent on using govt money to help people directly, as welfare payments, free tolls on highways, and other assistance. I`m waiting for the free tolls to start and then gasoline prices to skyrocket or gasoline to become unavailable if there is some sort of military event in the Middle East...(I hope not).

Gold will go up more after $1000? Yes or No? What do you all think?

Whether you are a peak oiler or a climate changer, you've got to read this article found at ScienceDaily.com.


It compares complex systems, recognizing they all have the same attribute of building to a point of threshold by way of what they call 'squealing'. Events or things that portend a sudden change soon to occur. Once the switch occurs in a complex system, it switches into a new mode.

Right now we are getting a lot of squealing in climate change as well as the world economy. What will be the new mode when it occurs for our climate and or the economy?

Democrats send letter urging Parnell to avert energy crisis

The pending NG shortage in southcentral Alaska has been on the radar for years as the fields depleted. All we had to do is shut down the fertilizer plant on time, or the LNG plant. Nope. Extend both contracts until pipeline pressure dropped. 2011 is the year to watch.

This article is political posturing, but everybody up here is just acting loony. We live in the land of opportunity but there isn't a rational player on the field. The peak oil problem is Alaska could be easily solved, just prohibit export of the North Slope natural gas. The present owners would throw a fit, but Alaska would be fat and happy for a long, long time. Ain't gonna happen.

Cold Camel