Drumbeat: September 7, 2009

Debate about peak oil is misleading

The enormity of an operation such as Gwahar can make us complacent about the scarcity of the world's supplies of oil but, as we all know, this is a finite resource and it will not last for ever. Dubai is already moving to a non-oil economy and many other countries [the UK not least] will have to do the same in the coming years.

This has led to the concept of "peak oil" – the point at which there is less oil left in the ground than the amount we have taken out. There are plenty of theories about when peak oil will be reached: two years ago, next year, five years… take your pick.

Despite the rather pessimistic view generated by the concept of peak oil, new fields are being discovered all the time. One pops up and then another, and another. Each new discovery pushes peak oil just a bit further away and leaves us wondering whether the panic over declining oil reserves is just another bit of eco-hype.

Oil Little Changed as Driving Season Ends in U.S., Demand Wanes

(Bloomberg) -- Oil was little changed near $68 a barrel as the U.S. driving season wound down and the profit margin for turning crude into gasoline and distillate fuels declined, further depressing demand.

“The driving season in the U.S. has come to an end,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC in Houston. The premium of gasoline over crude oil, or the crack spread, is falling, “which would further depress demand for crude.”

Drilling in All The Right Places

While oil has rallied smartly this year after plummeting last fall, there has been no corresponding comeback for its cousin, natural gas. To the contrary, gas prices have sunk to seven-year lows as supply threatens to exceed storage capacity and overwhelms demand.

Tiber Oilfield Spells Major Upside for Prices

The real question isn’t how big global oil reserves are or how much can ultimately be recovered. The question is how quickly they can be produced. If the world demand grows to 90 million barrels per day over the next five years, one of two things must change: Either prices will need to rise enough to choke back demand, or producers will need to ramp up capacity to 90 million barrels a day.

But new production from fields like Tiber in the Gulf and Tupi offshore Brazil is counterbalanced by declining production from existing, older fields.

Innovation in Oil Field Means More Oil, Less Expense

A new concept coming to North Dakota's oil fields will make it look like less drilling is going on when actually much more is.

Harold Hamm, owner of Continental Resources and an innovator in tapping a rich new formation beneath the Bakken formation, has a permit to drill a new well using what his company is calling the ECO-Pad concept.

Mexico’s big gamble pays off

When Agustín Carstens, Mexican finance minister, hedged all his country’s oil sales for 2009 at $70 a barrel, in effect gambling that prices would stay low this year, he surely had in mind the dreadful political experience of a Latin American neighbour.

Ecuador entered into a hedge programme in 1993. But instead of receiving an $8bn windfall like Mexico did this year, Quito’s central bank lost almost $20m to J. Aron & Co, Goldman Sachs’ commodities unit. A political storm followed and a committee investigated “allegations of corruption” against the head of the central bank.

The event illustrates the main obstacle for sovereign hedging of oil prices: politics. Indeed, Mexico’s hedge is noteworthy not only for its success but also for its rarity.

EnCana bomber probe chills B.C. community

It is early evening in Tomslake and the rural roads are eerily quiet.

This corner of northeastern British Columbia is no longer the place to go for an idle drive, even on one of summer's last beautiful days.

As the tension ratchets up around the now 11-month search for the EnCana bomber, chances are a watchful, nervous neighbour will call the RCMP.

Transition Towns project helps kick oil addiction

FOR anyone unfortunate enough to have been in the grip of alcoholism, the first of the customary 12 steps to freedom comes by admitting that it's an addiction which is making their lives unmanageable.

Now there's a new program sweeping the world with its own 12-step program, but this time the substance is not booze, but oil, and the binge drinkers are the countries of the developed world.

$220/bbl oil someday, but not just around the corner. Game is changing fast

Jeff Rubin at CIBC World Markets in Canada predicts $200/bbl coming very soon. He correctly predicted the price of oil reaching $50 in 2005 and $100 in 2007. The year 1966 was the peak for discovery of new oil fields. Production declines by 4 million bbl/day/year because of depletion. The industry must discover reserves over the next 5 years that will add 20 million bbl/day of capacity. A new oil sand project in Canada can carry a price tag of $90/bbl. Demand/depletion will push up price.

Saudis Believe Energy Independence is Nonsense - But Why Must America Agree?

Contrary to popular conception, energy independence does not mean self-sufficiency. It doesn’t mean not importing any oil or walling ourselves off from the global market. Energy independence is not a function of the amount of oil we consume or import. Rather, energy independence means turning oil from a strategic commodity second to none—one that underlies the global economy and determines the course of world affairs—into just another commodity to trade.

Simmons vs Yergin, Lynch et al on Peak Oil

Matt Simmons, author of Twilight in the Desert and founder of an investment bank focused on energy, has taken aim at the various anti-peak-oil stories written around oil’s anniversary.

Taking a chance on oil - thinking beyond the oil market downturn

Dubai, UAE - The current recession and the nature of cash-starved financial markets provide an attractive investment environment for energy companies with the willingness and cash to take a long-term view. Recessions don't last long when compared with the average length of energy investments; therefore any forecast of the profitability of capital investment whose output will go on stream perhaps seven to nine years from now must look beyond the short-term, found a new report by Booz & Company.

OPEC to Hold Quota After Oil Reaches $75 Saudi Target

(Bloomberg) -- OPEC’s success in more than doubling oil prices since a five-year low in December will probably persuade ministers to maintain production quotas after this week’s meeting.

Reducing shipments beyond record cutbacks last year would endanger the global economic recovery, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ president said last week. Oil rose to $75 a barrel on Aug. 25, the price Saudi Arabian King Abdullah says is fair for consumers and producers.

Lula Calls on Brazilians to Help Win Approval of New Oil Rules

(Bloomberg) -- Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva today called on Brazilians to help him win approval of new oil regulations to grant the government greater control over deep-water oil fields.

In a nationwide radio and television broadcast, Lula said the government’s proposal for new oil rules will guarantee most of the income from the so-called pre-salt oil remains in the hands of Brazilians. The rules also mean oil revenue must be spent on education, science, technology, culture, the environment and anti-poverty programs, the president said.

Deadline extended on $400m Neutral Zone contract

The al-Khafji Joint Operations Company (KJO), a joint venture between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, has announced that contractors wanting to bid for the US$400 million tender to expand water facilities at the al-Khafji oilfield now have two extra months in which to do so.

Mexico’s Kessel Is ‘Evaluating’ $11.1 Billion Chicontepec Field

(Bloomberg) -- Mexico is “evaluating” its $11.1 billion onshore Chicontepec oil project after production failed to meet targets, Energy Minister Georgina Kessel said.

Sinopec's Fujian to hike Sept crude runs by 40 pct

BEIJING - Fujian Refining & Petrochemical Co Ltd, a joint venture between Sinopec Corp, Exxon Mobil and Saudi Aramco, plans to raise its crude processing in September by nearly 40 percent from August, industry sources said on Monday.

South African Coal Falls Most in 11 Weeks on Excessive Prices

(Bloomberg) -- Prices for coal shipped from South Africa’s Richards Bay, site of the world’s largest export terminal for the fuel, slid the most in 11 weeks on speculation global prices were too high.

Natural gas: A victim of its own success

Natural gas has grown from an unwanted byproduct of drilling for oil to being billed today as the fuel for the future. Natural gas has a very high energy content, it is the cleanest fossil fuel, and it is in abundant supply.

Showa Shell to Spend $1.1 Billion, Boost Solar Output

(Bloomberg) -- Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K., a Japanese refiner and solar-equipment maker, plans to build a 100 billion- yen ($1.1 billion) photovoltaic-panel factory to expand solar capacity about 10-fold and offset waning demand for oil products.

Wind May Cut Power Prices, Reduce Coal, Gas Use, Bernstein Says

(Bloomberg) -- Expanding wind power capacity in the U.S., the world’s largest producer of wind-generated energy, may lower electricity prices and reduce the use of coal and natural gas, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. said.

“The impact of wind power has been to reduce the marginal cost of supply,” analysts Hugh Wynne and Neil Beveridge said in a report. “Power prices are expected to fall significantly from 2008 to 2011.”

Former nuclear pariah India seeks uranium stocks

NEW DELHI — Energy-starved India, armed with permission to buy atomic fuel from around the world after the end of a three-decade ban, is courting new partners alongside old friends in its global hunt for uranium.

The strategy, spelt out in a government paper published last week, will see New Delhi reach out to Mongolia, Namibia and Kazakhstan besides traditional allies like Russia in its search for the ore that is refined into nuclear fuel.

China to Build More Nuclear Plants, Japan Steel Says

(Bloomberg) -- Japan Steel Works Ltd., a maker of atomic reactor parts for Areva SA and Toshiba Corp., more than doubled its forecast for China’s nuclear plant construction because of stimulus spending and environmental pressures.

India - Water harvesting and management Water: The elixir of life

Come summer, the crisis of water scarcity is all-pervasive in India-be it a metro city, a small town or a village. As the mercury rises in the summer, long multi-coloured bucket lines begin to appear at community taps in cities and villages across the country. Tempers fray as formerly amicable neighbours fight bitterly for their share of the precious commodity. Meanwhile, in affluent neighbourhoods, state-subsidised water is used to wash cars and for water gardens. As water tables sink and frustration increases, no immediate end to the water woes for the people in cities and in rural areas is in sight. Thus, the water crisis turns into a political issue blaming the government and authorities concerned in our country. People start crying for water, start agitation and sometimes resort to violent demonstrations too. Media hype adds fuel to the fire. At that time when people are consumed with sheer rage because of water scarcity, public awareness and education is worthless. Nobody happens to be in mood to listen to the wise advice, that too from a politician!

Bill McKibben - 350: The magic number

Next month, the most widespread climate change demonstrations in history will take place across the planet. On Oct 24, in almost every nation, people will rally around the most important number on earth: 350. They’ll be aiming their protest at the delegates soon to head for Copenhagen, and the message will be clear: we don’t need an agreement. We need a solution.

China backs state firms on oil options losses

BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing has publicly put its weight behind some state-owned firms struggling with oil derivatives losses, saying it will back them in any legal action against the foreign banks that sold the products.

In a statement on Monday, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission said that some state-owned enterprises had sent letters to their trading partners about oil structured options trades, confirming a report in Caijing magazine last week that had sent shudders through the banking community.

China Probes Oil Options Trades at State Companies

(Bloomberg) -- China is investigating oil options trades by government-run companies to minimize losses from the transactions, the state asset watchdog said.

Domestic companies must “take legal steps” to avoid losses, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission said in an e-mailed statement today. Some companies have already notified their derivatives trading partners that they reserve their rights of recourse as oil-structured options trades are being investigated, the commission said.

Sudan oil revenue 'discrepancy'

Revenue from Sudan's oil may be being unfairly shared out threatening a north-south peace deal, a report by campaign group Global Witness says.

It says discrepancies in figures given by the north and those of the Chinese firm operating the oilfields may mean the south is being seriously underpaid.

Russian Oil Production Overtakes Saudi Arabia

Russia is extracting more oil than Saudi Arabia, making it the biggest producer of "black gold" in the world, figures show.

The statistics, from the oil cartel Opec, reflect a trend that has seen the Russians periodically surpass the Saudis as the world's biggest oil producers on and off since 2002.

These latest figures are being hailed in Russia as evidence that such periodic production spikes are not one-offs though and that Moscow really does have a right to lay claim to the No 1 spot.

Oil back in style for Russian companies

Russian companies have resumes investment programs in oil production.

The programs were interrupted by the economic downturn and the subsequent drop in oil prices.

The head of Russia’s largest privately owned oil LUKOIL has said the price of oil is now high enough to allow investment at an exchange rate of 30 roubles to the dollar.

National players 'on starting blocks'

National oil companies in the Middle East and north Africa are more active in resuming projects than independent groups, a senior executive at seamless steel pipe manufacturer Tenaris said today.

The Oil Services Industry's 2Q - Still No Rebound

The oil services industry's collective second-quarter results were terrible, thanks to another significant decline in North American drilling activity.

OPEC to eye economic stimulus

VIENNA (Reuters) - OPEC ministers meeting in Vienna this week were expected to keep supply targets intact and instead rely on hoped-for economic growth to sustain oil prices.

The oil market rose towards $69 a barrel Monday after Group of 20 finance leaders said at a weekend meeting they would not end stimulus plans until recovery was well established.

Opec’s options are limited now

Remember July 2008, when crude oil reached an all-time high of $147.27 a barrel, lending credence to the principle of "peak oil", the decade-old doctrine that holds that global crude production will crest sooner than expected and then begin a precipitous decline. Analysts predicted that prices will top $200 before the end of 2009. However, that was not to be. The worst global financial recession since World War II pushed the oil price down to $32.40 in December 2008 and now back near $70. The panic of July 2008 looks another era.

Chavez, Peddling ‘Gas OPEC,’ Arrives in Turkmenistan From Iran

(Bloomberg) -- President Hugo Chavez arrived in Turkmenistan as the Venezuelan leader seeks tighter cooperation among countries with the world’s largest natural-gas reserves.

Medvedev makes offers on gas relations with Caspian states

MOSCOW (Itar-Tass) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev intends to come out with an offer to leaders of Caspian states to build relations in the gas sector on the basis of mid-term and long-term intergovernmental agreements.

At a working meeting with Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, he said he was planning to discuss it with the leaders of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan at an informal summit at the end of the week.

Venezuela to sell gas to Iran

TEHERAN - Venezuela is to supply fuel-starved Iran with 20,000 barrels of petrol a day, President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday at the end of a two-day visit to the Islamic republic during which deals were also inked on medicine and commerce.

Activists call for Burma-China pipe halt

Activists called today for China to stop construction of controversial oil and gas pipelines through Burma, warning of instability and civil unrest if Burma’s ruling junta continued to starve its people of energy.

Petroleum Industry Fundamentals 2009

This timely Workshop for management and players seeking a future in the industry provides clear insight into the fabric of the global oil/gas, game, the evolving industry structure, key nomenclature in use, the basic economics and models driving the oil industry, issues impacting Africa's past, present and future, including claims of a “Continental Oil Curse”, thorny questions of world oil resource endowment and reserves (including peak oil debates), and critical images on the emerging world oil future relevant for large and small companies, state-owned entities and Governments shaping the current and future oil and energy game.

Oil industry aims high as it takes up the cause of geoscience in varsities

US oil giant Chevron, leading Thai oil explorer PTT Exploration and Production and Chulalongkorn University have joined forces to launch the first master's degree programme in petroleum geoscience in Thailand. It opened its first semester a week ago.

Visions of an Energy-Starved World

CHRISTOPHER STEINER was once the happy driver of a sport utility vehicle. Mr. Steiner, the author of “$20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better,” makes this confession early in his book: “I drove an old Toyota 4Runner all over the country for a decade — running the odometer past 240,000 miles — and I loved it.”

Therefore, he is far from gleeful when he describes how many S.U.V. owners decided to ditch their beloved big cars when gasoline hit $4 a gallon in 2008. Then, of course, gas prices returned to more affordable levels. Did those owners act too hastily?

No, says Mr. Steiner, a staff writer at Forbes and a civil engineer. We could all end up forsaking our fossil-fuel vehicles in the near future, he says, because of what he calls the dwindling supply and burgeoning demand for gasoline. He says that “Texas- and Saudi Arabia-style gushers” are a thing of the past, and he points to the booming economies of countries like India and China, which will enable hundreds of millions of new drivers to hit the highways.

Gas Will Rise, but It Won't All Be so Bad

Gasoline at $4 a gallon didn't last long, thankfully. We've settled in around $2.50, and that short period of pump shock is a recent but fading memory.

If Christopher Steiner is right, it's only a lull. High gas prices will come back -- soon, and with a vengeance, he declares. Think $4 was bad? You ain't seen nothing yet.

China Urged to Subsidize 'New Energy' Vehicles

TIANJIN, China—The head of BYD Co., one of China's leading makers of electric vehicles, urged the Chinese government to subsidize private purchases of all-electric battery cars and other "new energy" vehicles, saying their widespread adoption in China depends on it.

Q&A: Environmentalists at odds over solar plan

As two noted environmental activists and Sierra Club members, Pat Veesart and Carl Zichella agree on most things. But there’s one thing they don’t see eye to eye on — the three commercial solar power plants proposed in the eastern part of San Luis Obispo County.

Is The Stock Market Cheap?

* The three key things I see preventing a return to normal are:

1. Peak Oil - this affects the whole world, not just the USA.

2. USA Debt - the USA's huge and growing debt seems like it will be a major drag on the USA and prevent it going back to normal. This may also be a factor for the rest of the developed world.

3. Demographic Aging - seems like a major, major problem preventing the rest of the developed world from going back to normal. It seems a like a pretty big issue for the USA as well given the baby boomers passing their peak spending / saving /earning and moving into retirement.

The Next 100 Years

Friedman’s argument is a strong one, building on such prestigious earlier work as Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, among others. I find it to be a convincing read on the forces shaping world history. However, his outlook for the next 100 years suffers from two significant flaws.

First, he does not account for climate change impacts and related issues such as resource depletion and species losses. And, second, he does not account for transformative emerging technologies (which could prove to be either a boon or a bane).

People Suck

Three new documentaries slam conspicuous consumption, oil companies, and greedy traders.

2012 and the Mayan Calendar: It's Not the End of the World

Ever since I got convinced (and scared silly!), somewhere around the age of ten, that the predictions of Nostradamus were about to come true - I've been somewhat skeptical about end of the world theorists. Yet moving in green circles, there's no end of people that actively wish a calamity upon our sinful, industrial status quo - whether it's peak oil, the Millenium bug, or something else. (A friend once described this tendency as disasterbation.)

Sustainable Labor and the Farmer’s Market

Labor Day came into being in the late 1880’s and early 1890’s, during a wave of popular sentiment toward organized Labor. Industry was on a steep upswing at that time, powered by leading-edge fossil fuel energy technology. Furnaces became the driving force of what is now the developed world. Big furnaces cooked metals out of ore. Smaller furnaces drove pistons and performed mechanical work. Furnaces were everywhere, behind every mechanical thing and every manufactured product. Mines fueled steel mills that built railroads that distributed goods. Manpower was in short supply, and a mass migration occurred from rural farm jobs to industrial jobs.

A lot meant by an allotment

It is almost 70 years since the nation was encouraged to use every available piece of land to Dig For Victory. It’s now high time the Government repeated that green-fingered campaign in a bid to ensure there’s enough food on our plates, argues AM Leanne Wood

U.S. climate change bill to compete with healthcare

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Environmentalists hope the push in Congress for climate change legislation is not overwhelmed by the debate dominating Capitol Hill over changing the U.S. healthcare system. But it might be.

Bangladesh diary: Cyclone aftermath

Repeatedly struck by cyclones, flooding and even drought, Bangladesh is reckoned to be one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The BBC's environment correspondent David Shukman travels to a region still recovering from the most recent storm.

Religion may save us from global warming: Scientist

LONDON: One of Britain's most eminent scientists, who is an atheist, has said that the world may have to turn to religion to save itself from catastrophic climate change.

According to a report in the Telegraph, Lord May, the president of the British Science Association, said that religion may have helped protect human society from itself in the past and it may be needed again.

UK Christians don't need convincing

Lord May is preaching to the converted when he urges religious groups to play a leading part in the fight against climate change.

Japan's likely next PM pledges big emissions cut

TOKYO — The man expected to become Japan's next prime minister said Monday his government will follow through on a campaign pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.

"Disasterbation" is but another disparaging term that's a kind of non-denial denial, too clever by half.

If you understand overshoot, then you know that the longer it is allowed to persist, the deeper the ultimate crash. And we're not only talking about human population here, but catastrophic losses in every aspect of the global ecosystem and very possibly in accumulated human knowledge as well.

No, I don't want it to happen. No, it's not my choice one way or t'other. No, being 'less bad' in our practices will never make them 'good,' meaning sustainable. No, we can't achieve our inevitable reversion to mean without losing, and losing big. And no, trivialization-by-wordsmithing won't make the coming crash(es) any less real, or any more bearable.

Another small step in the right direction:

New law to require energy rating on commercial buildings

CALIFORNIA - Investigating energy use is part of the due-diligence process of many commercial property transactions now, but starting next year a formal report with that information will be required as part of the sale, lease or financing of nonresidential buildings under a new state benchmarking law.

Assembly Bill 1103, signed into law in 2007 and set to start taking effect in 2010, will require owners to provide 12 months’ worth of comparable energy-use information to prospective buyers or full-building tenants as well as financiers. It was originally scheduled to take effect for all properties Jan. 1, but draft implementation regulations from the California Energy Commission last month proposed a three-year phase-in period, starting with the largest buildings in July 2010.

See: http://www.northbaybusinessjournal.com/14771/new-law-to-require-energy-r...


That's great Paul. Funny that not requiring a substantive change in efficiency, but instead just making information available, is likely to shift behaviors. In process development it is well-known that to optimize a process step you must first measure it -- once you have the numbers the battle is halfway won.

I encourage everybody to plot their energy usage for a few years -- certainly electricity and nat gas, and gasoline too. You'll likely be surprised at how much you use, and how easy it is to save some of it. It may take some time to get a multi-year history going, but once you're in the swing of it the effort is rather enjoyable. I'm not naturally the sort that tracks mileage from each tank of gas, but you don't need to be. Just updating the graphs every few months lets you know how you're progressing.

I have done this and you are correct.
The big energy eaters in the home are obviously the space conditioning equipment and the dryer.
You can save a bunch by adjusting your thermostat and dressing differently.
Ideally, dwellings should be ultra-insulated to minimize the energy gain/loss through the building envelope.
All this could be done. Americans in particular could cut their energy usage in half by just paying attention and planning trips without spending a dime on new devices or equipment.
If we started to build and by products with minimal energy usage in mind we could do much better than that. That is why I like the idea of some sort of energy based value system.

Hi Paleocon,

I agree. This requirement seems to have some measure of industry support, at least from what we read here, and I think it will be ultimately beneficial to both landlord and tenant. Before purchasing a new vehicle, most of us check the posted fuel economy ratings and this allows prospective tenants to do pretty much the same thing. It also rewards building owners who invest capital to improve their building's thermal envelope, HVAC and lighting systems and encourages others to do likewise. Over time, it should help reduce the state's electrical power and natural gas requirements and related CO2 emissions.


The UK Guardian's report of ex-government science adviser Lord May (see also Telegraph link above), quotes Lord M's hopes for religions ahead of his presidential address to the British Science Association.

The international reach of faith-based organisations and their authoritarian structures give religious groups an almost unrivalled ability to encourage a large proportion of the world's population to go green, he said. ...

Experiments using what scientists call "game theory" show that groups of people can achieve their goals if cheats and those who fail to pull their weight are punished ... religion had historically played a major role in policing social behaviour through the notion of a supernatural "enforcer" ...

"Maybe we could be clever enough artificially to engineer substitutes for these lost ecosystem services, although I fear this could see us living, at best, in the world of the cult movie, Blade Runner, and more likely Mad Max," his address states.

Re: Saudis Believe Energy Independence Is Nonsense..., up top.

The article summarizes my view except for a minor quibble or two. Defining energy as only oil as the Saudis do might be correct from their point of view. But energy includes many forms besides oil, making independence easier to achieve than many think.

Oil is the hardest to replace but mixing forms of energy and giving the credit to oil hardly helps:

"A PHEV would normally drive 100-150 miles per gallon of gasoline. If it is also made as flex-fuel and fueled with a blend of 80 percent alcohol and 20 percent gasoline, oil economy could reach over 500 miles per gallon of gasoline." the article states.

Oil economy is not 500 miles per gallon as stated. It is still at whatever is was without alcohol and electricity. It is electricity and alcohol that would enable the PHEV to use less oil. This refusal to credit other forms of energy indicates an almost religious fixation on oil in my view.

This messy mixing of forms of energy is the bane of energy analysis and unique to energy. It does not help understanding or dealing with the situation. No sane person would mix forms of grain as is done in animal feed and give all the credit to corn for example. Nor would anyone mix metals to form an amalgam and give all the credit to one of the metals. But this is done all the time in energy and oil analysis. Evidently some can not imagine a world without oil anymore than a religious person can imagine living without God.

It is clear to me the Saudis can not or don't want to imagine a world without oil for obvious reasons.

I think they are much more concerned about a Saudi Arabia without oil exports.

They are probably thinking that once the oil is down to a trivial amount they will be forgotten by the US and that they will all(meaning the privileged class) either be leaving or dead within a few days of the overthrow of the royal family.

I expect they are correct in so thinking.

"Evidently some can not imagine a world without oil anymore than a religious person can imagine living without God."

As George used to ask Jerry Seinfeld, "haven't we talked about this before?"

This website is called "The Oil Drum", not the energy drum, and for good reason.

On earth, there is no shortage of energy, the world is pulsing with the stuff, and more comes to us in waves of billions of kilowatts per day, every single day throughout history.

Humans are really not capable of handling many issues at once. The first issue should be breaking the monopoly of oil as a transportation fuel. That one task, while sounding easy at first glance, is far from easy, and billions of dollars and man hours will be required to achieve it.

Oil has a special place in transportation, in that it suffers from virtually no competition from other energy sources. The massive power of the electric power grid has not been able to compete there, and natural gas and propane (which can make great transportation fuels) are marginal at most.

The electric grid,propane and natural gas have a huge strategic and economic advantage over oil in the U.S. market however: They are already here.

Oil and other energy sources are NOT equal. We pay a fantastic penalty for allowing oil to be our one egg in one basket approach in transportation, exporting our money, our influence and our liberty in exchange for it.

Yes, we must count all forms of energy when we use multiple sources of energy for our needs, but we MUST factor in the externalities of security and economics, and adjust oils benefit correctly.

At the pace we have been going for the last 30 years importing oil, we will have no worry about peak oil: We will have sent our money out of the nation to buy the oil, and will have long run out of money before we ever have to worry about running out of oil. The producers of oil must sell oil to continue to prosper. They do not care if the reason for a decline in oil consumption is due to technology or American bankruptcy, whether it is caused by lack of supply or lack of demand, the outcome is pretty much the same. The goal of the oil producers is the same: Sell all the oil they can produce.

Our goal must be the opposite: To humanely reduce total oil consumption and diversify to multiple forms of energy and use the energy efficiently. (note: this does not mean the goal is to stop using energy. That to me is pure fantasy, it is not going to happen. The goal is to stop wasting energy needlessly through bad technology, poor design, failure to use technical options, etc.). But our beginning task must be to increase fuel diversity. That task will take long enough...maybe too long.



Maybe I'm a bit hardcore realist/conservative in this respect but I simply cannot imagine the US ever repaying our debts except by inflating them away,which is but one step above repudiating them outright-which may well happen if the cards fall for war and we win.

The only way we will pay up is if some country or coalition of countries can MAKE US PAY UP.

This was tried with Germany after ww1.

I believe we will go down fighting before we pay for the oil and the stuff Walmart has been selling.

Yes the producers will sell all they can because the want the money NOW.We will burn it because we want the easy gluttonous lifestyle NOW.

Our souped up monkey brains are still geared towards thinking in the present or the immediate future and anything more than a few years down the road does'nt really exist for the guy on the street or his congressman.

The smart sellers will get rid of the dollars as fast as ever they can.

These things said your post makes great sense, but I don't expect to see a lot of progress along the lines you suggest because imo things are moving too fast towards a crisis of some sort.

If we survive the crisis and it serves as a wakeup event,things will change along the lines you suggest.

Right now even in this forum most of us seem to be stuck like a scratched record on the bau song if you propose a doable and realistic change,such as building a durable easy to fix easily updated car.

All comments are directed to why it can't be done from the bau standpoint.

Bau will soon be jioned by baiutb-business as it used to be.

Ten or fifteen years from now it will be impossible to build any other kind of car for two reasons-conservation/efficiency leglisation and energy constraints.This should be perfectly obvious to any long term reader of this forum.

I predicate this prediction on the survival of our current govt and peak oil being a current reality.

Why bother with any sort of a car at all? Legs are so much more convenient and require no gasoline.

Right now only in the US is it virtually impossible to manage without a car. But the slow collapse currently going on will ensure that this situaion changes. Yard sales will morph into selling other things that one can get ahold of---like food.

Villages will slowly come into existance, although they will look pretty strange and makeshift.

People won`t even remember they used to drive.

I haven`t driven for 15 years. And no paying for anything to do with cars either---so freeing.

You said it-"in the US it is virtually impossible to manage without a car".

In my opinion we are so culturally invested in the car and have so much of our national wealth sunk in car dependent infrastructure that we will continue to build and drive cars at any cost-no matter how desperate a drunk or drug addicts financial situation is,he always has the money for one more drink or one more fix,if he has any money at all.

Of course your remarks about the rise of villages and so forth are equally likely to prove to be true.

I would not survive financially without a motor vehicle of some sort,and most people I know are similarly situated.

In regards to EROI I think people get confused on how the effects manifest themselves. Other than extraction, all things involving energy have a negative EROI, but this can be (potentially) sustained as long as the output energy is more valuable than the input energy. Electricity production has a massive negative EROI, but the reason why, say, a coal plant can operate on a negative EROI is that the output energy (electricity) is significantly more valuable than the input energy (Ex coal), meaning 2/3s of the input energy could be wasted and still make a profit.

Low EROI energy sources may in a theoretical thought exercise being competitive if their output energy (ethanol, bitumen based petroleum), however these are expectations based on current input energy prices. But the price inflation of their output energy that would make it competitive also increases the input energy prices. So the cost projections for a low EROI energy process escalates rapidly in times of increasing energy costs, and the actual break even cost is much higher than what would be anticipated in a low energy cost environment.

Wouldn't break-even depend on the relative increase in the cost of the input energy versus the value of the output energy?

A zillion stripper wells in Texas attest to the fact that it's economical to sacrifice a lot of coal and natgas to generate a little oil. As liquid fuel gets scarce, won't it naturally increase in price faster than coal, keeping those strippers pumping their oily brine indefinitely?

Wouldn't break-even depend on the relative increase in the cost of the input energy versus the value of the output energy?

Yes, that is my point exactly! Trying to figure out the total amount of energy expended in the operation is damn near impossible. Pimentel, when figuring out the eroei of corn ethenol, just uses the cost of everything, labor, rent or cost of the land, cost of the tractors and other farm equipment, cost of fertilizer and everything else. That is the correct way to do it.

But what Pimentel is really doing is figuring out the Return on Investment. That removes everything confusing and states it in terms everyone can understand.

Ron P.

Electricity production has a massive negative EROI, but the reason why, say, a coal plant can operate on a negative EROI is that the output energy (electricity) is significantly more valuable than the input energy (Ex coal), meaning 2/3s of the input energy could be wasted and still make a profit.

Daxtatter, this is not correct because this is not how we figure ERoEI. You are, in your calculations, counting the energy embedded within the coal. No, that energy came from the sun millions of years ago. What counts is the energy expended in mining, processing and transporting the coal. Counting all this energy along with the energy expanded by the power plant in generating the electricity, the electricity generated still has a positive ERoEI.

I know this makes it extremely confusing. But in figuring the ERoEI of deep offshore sub-salt oil production, we do not count the energy embedded in the oil, only the energy expended in producing the oil. This is why I have campaigned, with absolutely no success, that both Es should be dropped and simply stating it as ROI, Return on Investment. Because ultimately that is all that counts.

If the oil company can extract oil at a cost of $70 a barrel and still make a profit, they will do it. And that is all that matters. But when we add both Es it becomes very confusing. Do we count the human energy expended by the roughnecks on the oil rig? How about the energy making and trucking the drilling mud? Just count the cost and you will remove all the confusion.

Ron P.

If the oil company can extract oil at a cost of $70 a barrel and still make a profit, they will do it. And that is all that matters.

Not sure if this makes sense to me. For example, there's been talk of building a nuclear reactor as an energy source for extracting/upgrading tar sands. It may very well be economically profitable to do so if oil is expensive enough.

But just because it makes economic sense, doesn't mean it necessarily makes sense. If the tar-sands oil is ultimately used for transpotation, why not use the electricity from the nuclear reactor to propel electric trains instead of making oil to power truck/cars. This would be much more efficient, although not necessarily more profitable.

If the tar-sands oil is ultimately used for transpotation, why not use the electricity from the nuclear reactor to propel electric trains instead of making oil to power truck/cars. This would be much more efficient, although not necessarily more profitable.

Frugal, your argument makes perfect sense... except it is on a different subject altogether. But to your point, electric trains from nuclear power plants. That would mean the trains would have to be battery powered unless you used a small nuclear reactor aboard the train. That would have safety concerns, in the event of a train wreck, that may make that proposition impractical.

Of course you might have a third rail, or overhead power like electric trollies. Still that is a totally different subject.

But you still have a good argument except that it is only very indirectly related to the ERoEI argument.

Ron P.

what's wrong with an electrified third rail? Most of the our trains run this way...although come to think about it all the freight trains I see always have at least two diesel locomotives.. perhaps electric motors aren't 'powerful' enough to haul heavy loads, or perhaps they suck too much juice out of the system and would thus leave passenger trains stranded... mmm, interesting..

what's wrong with an electrified third rail? Most of the our trains run this way...

Really? I have never heard of a train, except a subway train, running this way.

What's wrong with it is so obvious that I am shocked you would even ask. A third rail is deadly. In the subway only employees are allowed on the tracks. But a third rail going cross country? Millions of animals would be electrocuted annually, not to mention children who often play on the tracks. And then there is oridinary people who must cross the tracks on a daily basis. How many of them would die because they accidently stepped on the third rail?

Ron P.

Really? I have never heard of a train, except a subway train, running this way.

Yes, a lot of lines are third rail powered in Britain. Some of the longer routes are overhead still, but these get knocked out too easily in storms from trees etc. and there fore cost a lot more to maintain.

Also, don't compate American 'rail roads' with our train tracks. US rail roads are literally 'roads of rail', and most stations you actually have to step up into the carriage. Our tracks are sunk, or the station platforms are raised and the tracks run through gorges or embankments which form natural barriers. Also, the whole third rail is not continually electrified - it is turned on as the train approaches so in effect the electricity supply shadows the train so the kids are more likely to get squashed than electricuted!

Here is a picture of a platform at Clapham Junction - Britain's busiest station with over 20 tracks:

Okay, I stand corrected. I had no idea. Our cross country trains here in the US are diesel-electric.

Ron P.

Our cross country trains here in the US are diesel-electric.

North American railways are really behind the eight-ball on electrification. World wide, about 25% of the track carrying 50% of the freight is electrified. Electricity is much cheaper than diesel fuel, and electric locomotives are much more powerful and reliable than diesel ones.

Normally, though, they get power from overhead wires 5-6 m (15-20 ft) above the track. The main advantage of this (other than preventing people without long ladders from being electrocuted) is that they can use much higher voltages (typically 25,000 volts).

The British probably use third rails because they don't have as much overhead clearance as other countries. India, on the other hand, is starting to run double-stacked containers on flatcars under 25 kV wires. This requires the wires be nearly 7.5 m (25 ft) above the track.

The Trans-Siberian is electric (overhead wire).

All Japanese trains are electric.

Here's an example of a heavy freight train using overhead electrical wires. This train carries iron ore between Kiruna, Sweden and the port of Narvik, Norway. Those locomotives are apparently very powerful as there is a significant elevation difference between Kiruna and Narvik.

Here's an example of a heavy freight train from 1938 with a power of 8,162 kW and recuperating brakes (3 trains downhill basically pulled 1 train uphill):

which ran on the St. Gotthard line on a regular schedule:

Btw, this line is still over 90% hydro powered today.

Thats beautiful..

Got to love trains. I have 30 year old electrical miniatures, Fleischmann & Minitriks. Toys for winter.

I meant the scenery.

That is a about 50 year old DM3 locomotive, they have survived the 00 decade since the iron ore export expanded faster then anyone expected. The replacement locomotive is called Iore. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IORE

QR National 3500 Class electric loco. 3900kW each, until recently were more or less captive to the central Queensland coal system, of all things. With the downturn in coal export traffic, there's some suggestion that some may return to general freight duties.

All the the significant passenger routes in Australia are elecrtified, although only Queensland has any electrified freight routes (and then only midway up the coast and out to the coal fields)

Oh, dear. Surface transit having third rail and running 'cross country', if you will, used to exist, and for all I know some still does. The Staten Island Railway (formerly Rapid Transit) was/is an example. The grade crossings were eliminated by street closings and bridges decades ago, making the track less accessible than it used to be, but it's still basically a surface line.

Most animals, most of the time, do not end up bridging the third rail to electrical ground, so despite any lurid fantasies one might indulge in, there was never any question of it becoming clogged with roast game. For one thing, there's generally a wooden slat mounted a few inches above it. I suppose a squirrel is lost once in very great while, but squirrels are a surplus commodity also occasionally lost to overhead wires and electrical substations.

At the grade (level) crossings, the third rail tapered downward and ended, leaving a gap over the street or sidewalk. No one ever needed to step on it or even near it except on rare occasions evacuating a train under RR employee supervision, usually after the power was switched off for sure. The lights would go out briefly in your car as it crossed the gap. The line was fenced but of course it could not be fully fenced at crossings. There were little red warning signs where the third rail began.

The line was electrified long before the coming of consumer society. Parents were expected to act as parents and actually supervise their kids. If they didn't, well, tough luck. So again, despite any lurid fantasies, there was no accumulation of human bodies along the line. Indeed, I don't know whether anybody ever managed to electrocute themselves - although some thieves did manage to make off with several hundred feet of live 600-volt cable on one occasion - but if they did, I very much doubt their grieving relatives became multimillionaires as happens now. Oh, and if things become as bad in the future as some doomers would have it, I imagine parents will once again need to supervise their kids if they care about them, since in a world that far gone, much of the mollycoddling that now keeps kids "safe" despite rampant gross parental neglect will simply be unaffordable.

Edit - after seeing HAcland's post - AFAIK the third rail was energized all the time on the Staten Island line.

Surface transit having third rail and running 'cross country'

I have a picture of the third rail of an electric railway at a level crossing near Mont Blanc. It has a sign on it saying (in French), "Danger of Death". And of course, the French know that does not mean you might be killed, it means you will be killed.

But they're French. Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow you die, but don't touch the third rail while going home or you'll die sooner.

200 people a year are killed climbing Mont Blanc, but they all knew that before they started up. If you're French, it's your privilege to kill yourself, and they're not going to deny you it.

I imagine parents will once again need to supervise their kids if they care about them

I also have a picture I took in Mexico of an open electrical panel mounted at kid height, right next to a playground, and similar ones from Peru and Nepal. Nobody supervises the kids, but I think they all know not to poke their finger in the panel. In less developed countries its more of a Darwinian thing.

I also have a picture I took in Mexico of an open electrical panel mounted at kid height, right next to a playground, and similar ones from Peru and Nepal. Nobody supervises the kids, but I think they all know not to poke their finger in the panel. In less developed countries its more of a Darwinian thing.

Sometimes, it's not the children you need to worry about, as this Brazilian reporter discovered:


"And we'll be back after this commercial break..."


Nobody supervises the kids, but I think they all know not to poke their finger in the panel.

Yup. Imparting that sort of knowledge is part of parental supervision, and one that's largely missing in the USA.

No, I think it was when little Jose poked his finger in the circuit that the situation became clear. You don't have to electrocute more than one kid per playground to get the message across.

This would be much more efficient, although not necessarily more profitable.

Can you come up with a specific example of how direct use of the electricity in transportation could be more efficient, but less profitable?

I suspect the only case involves subsidies, or other pricing distortions. In an unfettered marketplace I think any use of electricity directly is going to be both more efficient and more profitable.

What I'm trying to say is that something like a low EROI energy source's costs increase as energy prices increase. That's why something like corn ethanol, despite costing less than $4 per gallon GGE when energy prices were low, didn't become profitable even when gasoline prices exceeded $4 per gallon. Oil sands were produced at below $60/bbl, the costs of production, particularly new developments in no small part to the embedded energy cost increases from steel and concrete.

My other point was that you can have a profitable low or negative EROI energy source IF the energy source produced has a higher intrinsic value than the input energy. Coal to liquids has a negative EROI, but it could (emphasize could) become profitable because liquid fuels are more valuable than coal.

My other point was that you can have a profitable low or negative EROI energy source IF the energy source produced has a higher intrinsic value than the input energy. Coal to liquids has a negative EROI, but it could (emphasize could) become profitable because liquid fuels are more valuable than coal.

No, this is not correct. You are still including the energy embedded in the coal. That was put there by the sun millions of years ago. That is not part of your investment. Read Nate’s comment below:

1)EROI is a ratio - can't be negative. If its under 1, it is subunity, and implies the process uses more energy than it provides.

If you have a profit then you have a positive EROI.

Ron P.

If the oil company can extract oil at a cost of $70 a barrel and still make a profit, they will do it. And that is all that matters.

I would agree with the comment except the bold.

According to OECD, 1 ton of energy output(boe) will produce about $5000 of GDP net(.2 toe/$1000).


Before the oil spike, when oil was $70 per barrel or $500 per ton of oil the economy functioned normally. This is the assumed base condition of the world economy with 50% of energy comes from oil( it's less but oil tends to raise other energy prices, etc.)

That means 1 ton of energy produces $5250 of GDP with $250 going to buy .5 tons of oil.

Then introduce $140 per barrel oil. The economy then produces
only $4739 GDP net per ton of energy;

$5250-$140 x 7.3 x .5 =$4739 which is less than the $5000 per toe it needs.

The oil price is a negative feedback for macroeconomic growth--fairly obvious.
So by this very simplified analysis there are only two ways to continue operation;
1) reduce the dependence on oil.
2) increase the energy efficiency of overall energy use.

If we reduce oil use from 50% to 40%, all other costs remaining constant then we could tolerate a price of $107 per barrel. ($5250-$5000)/(.4 x7.3)= $85.6 per barrel

If we increased efficiency from 1 toe per $5500 GDP total by 10% to $5775 we could tolerate $144 per barrel oil.
$(5775-5250)/(.5 x7.3) = $144

If we did both we could tolerate we could tolerate $171 per barrel oil.
$(5775-5250)/(.4x7.3) = $179.79 per barrel.

This suggests that the world economy will keep oil prices below $100 in the long run unless either oil dependence or economic efficiency in toe per $1000 is raised a lot.

Let's hope oil companies can figure out how to produce new oil at $70 per barrel.

Majorian, my apologies. I meant that is all that matters to the oil company. Sorry, I should have stated that.

It obviously matters, to the economy, how high the price of oil goes. There is definitely an limit as to what price the economy can tolerate before such high prices drive demand, then price, back down. That has been one of my main points that I have made, many times, on this list.

You state your case very well in your post. I agree with every thing you say 100%. However that being said, if the price gets above the level the economy can tolerate, a recession will ensue driving prices below the profit level of the oil company. They will no longer produce $70 oil if oil is $50 a barrel.

Of course it is not all that simple because most of the money that produces oil at a cost of $70 has already been invested. The company is now losing money on every barrel they produce but would lose more if they just closed the taps and stopped producing. So it's really a gamble on the part of the oil companies. They are gambling that the oil price will be high enough for them to make a profit but not so high it will crash the economy. They would likely gamble on $50 oil but I doubt they would gamble on $70 oil, especially if there is a chance that their investment might be nationalized and they recieve pennies on the dollar for their investment, as did Hugo Chavez.

Ron P.

I see EROEI and ROI as two different limits to energy production. I believe there are two other limits Capitalization costs, and cost as a percentage of GDP.

* EROEI is a hard limit. All sources of energy with EROEI < 1 are useless except maybe in rare cases of converting to a more valuable form of energy (i.e. solid to liquid).
* ROI is an economic limit that can vary depending on the market place. The lack of investment in renewable energy is largely because of low ROI.
* The Capitalization limit: Even with good EROEI and ROI, some forms of energy production can die if the start up costs are too high or investment return is too far in the future, for example Nuclear Energy.
* The Percent of GDP limit: If energy becomes too expensive, the economy cant sustain it for long and most likely will contract to cut demand (see oil prices in 2007). Thus a form of energy production that is only profitable if the price of energy exceeds 15% of GDP is as bad as EROEI < 1.

I believe these 4 limits will close around us like a noose in the coming years.

Interesting comments.

Thus a form of energy production that is only profitable if the price of energy exceeds 15% of GDP is as bad as EROEI < 1.

No, only if economic growth is the objective.

I don't think that the capitalization limit concept adds anything that is not already contained in ROI. What is says is that high capital costs combined with long dated and uncertain cash flows produce unacceptable ROIs. What you define as good ROI but distant uncertain investment returns, would be considered bad ROI after application of relevant discount rates.

This has always confused people, but the definitions are all in the primary literature from the 1970s, when this topic was hot.

1)EROI is a ratio - can't be negative. If its under 1, it is subunity, and implies the process uses more energy than it provides.
2)EROI is dimensionless - a number alone can't tell you much unless its multiplied by scale.

3)There is the efficiency of energy extraction, which is really EROI, and there is efficiency of energy transformation, which is, rightly, called efficiency. We measure EROI of coal, because the coal is sitting there 'free' to us for all intents and purposes because it is a form of ancient sunlight not recreatable on human time scales. How much energy do we need to find, extract and harvest the coal vs how much energy it contains is the EROI. AFTER that, we have a pile of coal and can decide what to do with it. If the resulting electricity only has 30% of the joules that the coal did, but it is in a higher more socially useful form, this 70% is an efficiency loss (and gain in quality).

Both EROI and efficiency are steps along the spectrum of human energy harnessing and use. They are often conflated. For example, we calculate the EROI of oil, but often forget that oil itself then needs to be further refined to be very useful - so an oil EROI of 10:1 then combines with efficiency of refining 90%, to come up with the final EROI + efficiency of 9:1, or 5:1 depending how you calculate it. Efficiency is more of a demand side measurement. EROI, particularly when incorporating scale (net energy=EROI-1, energy gain =net energy X scale), is what our fundamental supply side looks like.

Hope that didnt further confuse..

Showa Shell to Spend $1.1 Billion, Boost Solar Output

Japan’s oil consumption has slumped since touching a peak of 247 million kiloliters in 1996, damped by a shrinking population and a switch to cleaner alternatives. Demand is forecast to continue to decline by an average of 3.5 percent a year to March 2014, according to the trade ministry.

Looks like Japan is one of the few countries that are taking peak oil seriously -- they're actually planning for reduced oil consumption. Population decline and increased efficiency is helping to make that happen. I believe other contries could learn something from watching Japan.

However, it's possible that they're just switching from one fossil fuel to another. I would like to know if Japan's coal and natural gas consumption is increasing or not.

I would like to know if Japan's coal and natural gas consumption is increasing or not.

Yes to both.


Thanks, that graph clearly answers my question.

Is oil FOB shipping point or FOB origin? From perspective of where the consumption gets counted for nations? IOW, if Japan increases imports of needed finished products that have high embodied oil but the oil is actually physically consumed elsewhere, that might give misleading flattening in oil consumption and exaggerated increase in oil use in places like China.

One way to look at this is in the emergy (energy memory) of a typical portfolio of consumption goods - I assume this data exists but am not sure.

Nate, I am not an oil buyer or seller but I think it would have to be FOB shipping point. For instance Saudi Arabian oil which had its origin at Ghawar would be sold FOB Ras Tanura or FOB Yanbu, whichever terminal it was loaded at, and not FOB Rub' al Khali, (the Empty Quarter).

Ron P.

Oil prices are normally quoted for a specific type of oil FOB a specific location. These are known as "benchmark" prices. For the U.S., what is often quoted is the price of West Texas Intermediate blend delivered at Cushing, Oklahoma.

If you want the price for WTI delivered at Chicago, you add on a transportation charge from Cushing to Chicago. Whoever pays the charge isn't really relevant because transportation is factored into the price.

If you are shipping heavy crude oil from Edmonton for delivery at Chicago, you take the price for WTI, add on the transport charges from Cushing to Chicago, then you subtract off the transport charges from Edmonton to Chicago, then you subtract a discount for heavy oil compared to light oil. That gives you the sales price for heavy oil at Edmonton.

If you are talking abut finished products, rather than crude oil, it gets much more complicated.

I don't have those numbers for you Frugal but Japan has been investing many billions in LNG plants especially in Indonesia. It's a relatively local and secure source so it makes a lot of sense IMO.

One Second After by William Forstchen - A Review

This book was mentioned on the DB some time ago. I'm a sucker for stories about fictional or alternative societies so I bought it. The underlying plot is the same as Lights Out by Half Fast (David Crawford) which is available on line - there is an EMP which causes chaos, a group of bad guys shows up, the bad guys are killed and society regroups. It also borrows an airplane from Patroits by James Rawles.

Unlike the afore mentioned books, it has, essentially, zero useful/practical information about how society adapts or how to fight the bad guys. What it does revolve around is how impotent agencies are/were and the dieoff of the people (both ones traveling through who were stuck by the EMP when their vehicles died and the locals). Ultimately, about 80% of the people die mostly due to starvation. This is its strength and why I believe hard core doomers will "enjoy" it.

For those who haven't read this kind of fiction, the people's actions were brain dead. I was amazed at how ineptly they responded. Two books by Tom Sherry (Shatter and Dark Winter,) that were formerly on line demonstrated how well people can regroup after a disaster. And, Rawles' book also shows this.

However, to me, it was the emotional impact of the dieoff that other books have not delved into that is its forte'. The psychology of chaos and collapse is definitely an issue that needs to be considered deeply even though it is sort of a taboo topic.

So, all in all, I recommend it for everyone even though non-doomers will probably be less enthralled than I was. For those who don't want to spend the bucks, an alternative to get the same feel is to view the movie Testament which is the story of a small town near San Francisco after SF was nuked. No gore, special effects or destruction just unrelenting depression as everything collapses and people die. I should add that the people in the movie were just as brain dead as those in One Second After.


I would like to second the recommendation for One Second After. Although it was a bit lightweight, I had a hard time putting it down. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

This weekend I finished World Made By Hand, and I have to say I'm pretty disappointed. It was very similar to One Second After but watered-down by half. I had a hard time caring about the characters or what was happening.

My two cents. Sorry, Jim.


Well, I'll second your thumbs down on World Made By Hand. I thought it sucked. It would take too much space to list the ways I disliked it.


I meant my apologies to James Kunstler.

Loved The Long Emergency. Like Cluster---- Nation.

World Made By Hand, not so much.

The Long Emergency is a commentary/analysis type book and a very good good one,as long as the reader understands that such books are good for developing a picture in the mind of what might come to be,rather than what specifically will come.

World Made By Hand is a passable novel,just barely,as novels go,but as a window into a post crash world it's a joke,and not even a funny one.I for one am sorry I wasted my money on it.

Yup, you can tell Kunstler was a thoughtful journalist.

Todd, if you haven't already, you might want to give "Parable of the Sower" and "Parable of the Talents" by Octavia E. Butler a try. Not a fast crash scenario but starts in California after global warming and drug use has turned it unlivable.


Thanks, I'll check them out.


Thanks for the review!

There was another book out recently (in 2008 or 2007) in which the setting was the blowup of oil facilities all over the world. Unfortunately I cannot remember the author and the title. There was also a trailer video.

Any ideas?

Maybe you're thinking of "Last Light" by Alex Scarrow?

Thats it, thanks.

"Lucifer's Hammer" can't beat a cannibal army for thrills.

Anything by Niven and Pournelle, authors of Lucifer's Hammer. "The Mote in God's Eye" is my vote for best sci-fi ever. With great insights into human behavior.

Excellent analysis by Denninger today-how long until Bama has to fire somebody for mentioning a nutty conspiracy theory like this in public? http://market-ticker.denninger.net/

Yes, Chris Martenson makes almost the same point here: The Great Asset Bubble, except he includes all debt rather than just mortgage debt. Martenson shows the debt to GDP ration in the first chart. In the third chart here he shows total credit market debt which is really alarming.

However if there is some kind of conspiracy here it is the worst kept secret in history. All the data are publically available.

Ron P.

"However if there is some kind of conspiracy here it is the worst kept secret in history. All the data are publically available."

It's like the drunk naked guy at the party. Everyone knows he's there, but no one's talking about him.

and meanwhile, the rightwingnuts are all up in arms because president obama is encouraging kids to stay in school. is this because the rightwingnuts want to keep their constituency stupid (and barefoot and pregnant for extra points)?

John Harwood sums it up nicely in 45 seconds.

I didn't catch the exact posting you are referring to.

I like the idea of what we are experiencing is the "hedonistic" peak oil. Hedonistic in the sense that we are easily convenienced. Any other energy peaks will be an inconvenience as we will swap easy oil for alternatives such as coal.

The one where Karl summarizes the idiocy of figuring more debt will cure a situation of too much debt to income. It is like getting more credit cards to meet the minimum payment on the ones you have.

Can someone please explain the following for me please:

1) Are the OPEC quotas the amount of oil they can export or pump? in other words how, if it all, does the Export Land Model and the quotas interact

2) If a whole barrel of oil is refined into petrol how many gallons are produced?

thanks, these questions have always bugged me...

1)OPEC quotas are how much oil they can produce, or more correctly, how much oil they can extract from the ground. And they all cheat. There are no quotas on exports.

2)A whole barrel cannot be refined into petrol. Ordinarily a 42 gallon barrel produces about 19 barrels of petrol but that varies with the weight of the oil. If you crack the really heavy stuff of course you can get a lot more petrol from a barrel of crude. I have no idea what the limit might be but the more petrol you produce, via cracking, the less diesel, jet fuel and other products you can produce.

Ron P.

thanks Ron - so would it not go to say that as the OPEC countries own consumption increases they will have to raise their quotas to keep the dollars rolling in?

Well, I guess it works both ways. If they raise quotas then the price drops and fewer dollars roll in. Anyway OPEC has had this problem since they formed in 1960. It is a balancing act. They want to keep oil prices high but not too high because this hurts the economy, causing demand, and prices to fall. Looks like that right now they like prices around $70 a barrel. They found out last year that if prices get too high this can cause demand to collapse, hurting them more than it helps.

Ron P.

Fund bike lanes with a cyclist use-tax

I have a partial solution that does not require taxing all of us for designated bike lanes on some rural roads frequented by on-road bicyclists: Why not have them pay for a yearly license tag ($15?) as a Use Tax? And have all the tax go to paving shoulders for designated bike lanes.

Hello Substrate,

This reply is not aimed at you, but at the author of your included link, Yale Mooers [Hope he joins TOD to become more informed].

Leanan may have more accurate and current cost figures, but my WAG is that $15 won't even buy you a sq. yard or sq. meter of 'installed asphalt'. Thus, the bike paths won't go very far.

IMO, Yale needs to research SpiderWebRiding and railbikes. Recall my earlier posting where even young Boy Scouts were building and installing lightweight, cheap [but high quality], narrow gauge tracks with no heavy equipment required. Here is the source webpage, then go inside the photo gallery option to drill down to the Boy Scouts at work:


IMO, Yale needs to start postPeak thinking on how we will get fresh, fragile eggs and other vital goods to market: smooth rail, or terrible roads, or worst of all, no roads at all with everyone lugging a heavy backpack or balancing a load on our head like this poor woman:

No trees for miles around and I bet she would have to go many miles further just to find some asphalt or concrete roads.
Yale: Your mileage may vary [YMMV].

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

It's not exactly SpiderWebRiding, but ...

Railing against conventional transportation

Imagine a train car suspended high above traffic that could reach speeds of 250 kilometres per hour and get you from Quebec City to Montreal in less than an hour.

Each car in the inverted monorail system could transport 60 to 75 passengers and would be powered by 16 in-wheel electric engine motors. No need for expensive fuel - just clean, affordable electricity, its promoters say.

And there's no need to buy acres of land to build a network. The pylons from which the rails would be suspended could be installed almost anywhere, including the medians of four-lane highways or even urban boulevards. They could straddle overpasses, span rivers and be built above bridges.

The Green Scene
Getting your ducts in a row: A home audit

Energy efficiency isn't as sexy as shiny solar panels or sleek wind turbines. But it's often the quickest, cheapest way to start reducing your carbon footprint. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, most homeowners can reduce energy costs 20 percent simply by insulating and fixing leaky ductwork.


I asked how to choose what to do first.

"I'm focused on looking at the things that will give you the most return for your money and efforts," Linton replied. He suggested starting with projects I can do on my own and that were most affordable: Caulk cracks in the plaster ceiling and in gaps between the rock fireplace and the wood stairway, for instance. Insulate the basement door to prevent heat (and cool air) loss through the stairwell. Tackle the bigger, more expensive projects in stages, he continued.

Still, I need to insulate the ductwork and subfloor as soon as I can, said Linton. "You're losing a lot of heating and cooling energy through there. It's kind of like you're driving around with a leaking gas tank, and you're going around town, leaking gas everywhere you go."

Fix that leaky tank, Linton urged.

Hightrekker, are you out there? Could you ping me at aangel (at) postpeakliving (dot) com ?

Perpetuating coal-generated power shortchanges us all

Cliffside will burn 2.5 million tons of coal each year — much of which will be extracted by decapitating mountains and dumping the tops into nearby valleys and headwater streams. The practice has erased more than 500 peaks from the Appalachian skyline and buried or polluted nearly 2,000 miles of streams. Additionally, by pumping the global warming equivalent of 1 million cars into the air each year, Duke will ravage the North Carolina coastline by increasing sea levels and destroying people’s property. Moreover, Duke will foul our skies by belching out oxides of nitrogen, sulfur dioxide, mercury and other toxic pollutants. Conservative estimates of the externalized costs of damaging our health, forests, water bodies, agricultural crops and fisheries with these air pollutants will add millions of more dollars to the societal price of constructing and operating Cliffside.

In sum, Duke Energy will wreak havoc in the coalfields, ruin our chances to curb global warming and pollute our air, land and water — all while ransacking your pocketbooks to build an unnecessary power plant.

See: http://www.citizen-times.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090902/OPINION...

We need to do whatever we can to halt the construction of coal-fired power plants. One sure way to do this is to use electricity more wisely — renewables will play an important role (and, potentially, nuclear as well), but conservation and improved efficiency will take us there sooner and at a lower cost.


Interesting that Duke will do all that damage entirely on its own...

Hi Paul,

I was under the impression that Duke was one of the more forward thinking utilities. Do they plan to export much of this power out-of-state? (I see to recall they wanted to beef-up their bulk power interties as well.)


Utilities, like other corporations, stop such "forward thinking" when they see their profits (and/or existence) threatened. The spin around here with out local electric co-op is "a balanced solution" (select NC for my state). Naturally, out co-op now buys electricity from Duke and they want their customers to write their Congress Critters to spread the utility message. Their attention grabbing headline is: Could You Afford a 40 Percent Increase in Your Electric Bill?...

E. Swanson

High Hazard Coal Ash in NC

A coalition of environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, formally asked the Dept of Homeland Security, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency to make public a list of 44 "high hazard" coal ash disposal sites across the country. With 12 (10 controlled by Duke Energy, 2 by Progress Energy), North Carolina topped the list.

Duke energy is looking at the writing on the wall. If Congress classifies coal ash as a regulated pollutant it might cost them the game.

Q: Can't you fight fire with fire? Make it about jobs, green jobs and lots of em'. Rooftop solar, retrofitting windows and insulation on existing buildings is going to put people to work right now.

What good is cheap utility prices if you're out of work?


Mmmm...oh, well, not clear enough - I was just musing on the hyperbolic way the original quote seemed to blame the entire effect of all coal burning worldwide on Duke alone. Despite Tim Haab's Duke jokes (scroll down a little to "another reason to hate Duke"), I had no idea that Duke, all by itself, was quite so all-powerful. (I have no idea whether they want to export power; there might be no need to care, since the normal course of population growth and obsolescence of other facilities would surely make that only a short-term proposition.)

More seriously, it's fashionable to bash big business such as oil companies and utilities (including the unloved Duke), but few seem to mind using the products, and virtually no one seems willing to contemplate restraining the big population that necessitates big complex everything else. So, all well and good to halt coal plants if that's one's thing, except for the simultaneous moves to halt gas, nuclear, wind, solar, tidal, and everything else as well. I simply don't see how USA citizens, never mind citizens of the cold white Canadian north, plan on surviving the winters once they get what so many profess to wish for, at least in polls where professing seems cost-free. Sure, people survived in the 18th century, but even the most cursory look at old gravestones shows most didn't live long - and if today's gargantuan population tries the old ways, the forests will be extirpated in a season or two.

Oh, and this is not in the quote, but once one scratches even a micron below the surface, much of the desire to halt everything seems to stem from the parochial matter of "property values", with only a few loud shouters giving a stuff about larger considerations. So I also wonder how the various citizens expect to get the lush retirements the "property values" were supposed to buy them, should they succeed at shutting everything down.

Hi Paul,

In case you thought my comments were specifically directed at Duke, let me amend my original comment to read:

"We need to do whatever we can to halt the construction of coal-fired power plants [everywhere]."

And, FWIW, I don't view utilities or energy companies as inherently evil, but I will criticize what I believe to be poor choices. We may see things differently, but only a fool would expect unanimity.


We need to do whatever we can to halt the construction of coal-fired power plants.

In a market based economy there is one sure-fire way to do it- make electricity rates reflect the true cost of electric generation. CO2 needs to be regulated and should have a financial penalty. Disposal of Coal Ash since the TVA disaster last year is now a hot button topic and is soon to be regulated:

Burning coal produces more than 129 million tons annually of combustion waste — a concentrated ash that includes toxic elements such as arsenic, lead, cadmium, selenium and mercury — but federal authorities have yet to establish uniform standards for handling it.

Congress raised the prospect of regulating coal ash as a hazardous waste in 1980, but regulators moved slowly until March 2000, when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it planned to designate it a "contingent hazardous waste." After electric utilities protested that such a move would cost billions, then-EPA Administrator Carol Browner reversed herself and determined that coal ash amounted to a solid waste. The agency pledged to issue regulations on the matter nonetheless, but it failed to do so in the eight years since President Bush took office.

When Coal-Fired Electrical Generation becomes too expensive it opens the way for nuclear power and rooftop solar. Rooftop solar can be implemented quickly, puts a lot of people to work right away and takes the pressure off of the grid until we can commission more Nuclear Plants.


Hi Joe,

You're right, but I take it the coal lobbies have the ear of the legislative branch and the flow of dollars to ensure their message is heard and understood. Ratepayers will be another concern... public support tends to sag when what you propose negatively impacts household budgets and the local economy. Conservation holds an advantage in that it can be framed as a "positive", i.e., helping consumers reduce their energy costs and making local businesses more competitive (kinda hard to argue against that).



I believe that as from both the practical engineering and political povs that you are right in focusing on efficiency/conservation first,because there is a well known but not often mentioned (not OFTEN ENOUGH at least) synergy of politics,business,and engineering involved.

Every body here certainly knows all about this but I have not seen it wrapped up with a ribbon on it in a couple of paragraphs.

Efficiency is a much easier sell politically than renewable energy as it is politically cheaper-mandating low flow toilets,higher insulation standards,more efficient appliances,etc,is easily accomplished in COMPARISON to mandating solar hot water or pv,etc,because such efficiency mandates don't require any immediate effort or expenditure on the part of the consumer/ homeowner/business manager.

In addition the public is gradually becoming more aware of the ovrall issue of ff energy/other natural resources depletion and even mediicre brains enclosed in thick bony skulls when squeezed between falling incomes and growing awareness of inevitable higher future prices will eventually process this data and come to the conclusion that something has to be done.

For the time being and for probably another five to ten years at the very least(my own wag)efficiency and conservation will continue to get a far bigger bang for the buck than renewables on the average per dollar invested.

In the meantime the renewables industries are making pretty fast progress in lowering thier costs and expanding thier capacity. I suspect that the cost of renewables will fall to match the cost of non renewables considerably sooner than most of us think(in large part because I expect ff prices to rise steadily beginning very soon).I personally will eventually purchase some pv but since I don't have the money to do it as a precautionary measure or as a statement of my personal philosophy/beliefs this purchase must wait until the pv can pay its own way,in cash .I guessing this will happen within five to fifteen years.(If it takes the full fifteen years it won't matter to me most likely.)

In five years assuming the economy is still stumbling along the political and business calculus will have shifted quite -a bit in favor of renewable energy,perhaps enough that it will be politically feasible to make a war effort level push for renewables.

I would not be suprised if for instance new construction building codes ten tears down the road mandate solar hot water and a certain level of pv capacity,especially in the sun belt.

Other areas may see energy taxes and income taxes rise to the point that ground source heat pumps etc, are must have rather than just nice to have features,especially if tax credits or low cost loans are made available for the installation of these systems.

The public can change its ways faster than it is given credit for when its a case of dollars and cents.Just about every body I know started driving Japanese cars as soon as it became obvious that they are cheaper to own and operate than domestic cars.Interestingly enough there has been a migration amony the car savvy lower income groups BACK to used American cars for a simple reason-thier resale value is so low in comparison that they are nowadays actually cheaper to own if you are car savvy.(I bought my used Ford Escort for a little less than half what the most closely comparable Toyota would have cost me.)

Thanks, OFM, for your insight in this area. As a hammer, I tend to see everything as a nail, but I honestly believe you're right on all accounts -- conservation and efficiency improvements can be implemented relatively quickly and inexpensively, and they provide a little extra breathing room as we transition away from fossil fuels. And, politically speaking, it has to be one of the easiest options to sell of all.

There can be other indirect benefits to this type of work as well, such as improved employee productivity (and in some cases increased worker safety), or perhaps increased retail sales. One of the key secondary benefits of what I do on behalf of Nova Scotia Power is related to improved cash flow. NSP pays 80 per cent of the cost of our lighting upgrades and the customer's 20 per cent co-pay can be repaid over 24 months, interest-free, on their account. There's no out-of-pocket expense, no up-front costs and the upgrade generates immediate net-positive cash flow; typically, for every dollar repaid over the first 24-months, the customer will receive three or four dollars in energy savings. Like a good number of us, many small businesses are struggling to make ends meet, so a three or four hundred dollar a month net saving in utility costs can make a big difference, and none of the traditional supply-side options offer this.

With regards to vehicles, I'm a Chrysler guy and the rate of depreciation in this case is especially high. I buy new and so normally this would be a concern, but I hold on to my vehicles for at least ten years, at which point, they're all pretty much worth the same. My 2002 300M Special is now in its eight year of ownership; it's been a phenomenal car in most every respect and I have no desire to part ways with it anytime soon.


These fellows took out a full page ad in the Mountain Xpress announcing public hearings: http://www.ncwarn.org/

"Tell the Utilities Commission not to let Duke Energy waste your money. Tell them to deny unnecessary rate hikes. And cancel Duke Energy's global warming machine at Cliffside!"

"The energy giant wants YOU to pay $1 Billion up front for Cliffside - even though the controversial plant may never open." [emphasis theirs]

Chinese auto manufacturers to produce 12 million vehicles this year:


Those thinking that falling U.S. oil demand due to the Great Recession will lower oil prices should reconsider. Any drop between now and the end of January is seasonal and will be a prelude to even higher prices next year IMO.

Almost all of those 12 million vehicles are to satisfy domestic demand, too. How big is the Chinese workforce, anyway? I found this: The 750 million Chinese who aren't getting rich. - By Henry Blodget - Slate Magazine

Statistics in China are easy to come by and hard to have faith in. But here goes: About 750 million Chinese are farmers, and about 85 million make less than $75 a year. The average rural per-capita income in Sichuan province in 2002 was $253, less than the fees required to attend a local middle school. Rural incomes have almost doubled since the mid-1990s, but taxes have jumped four to five times. (To register to get married, for example, you have to pay 14 taxes.)

Another link suggested a rural workforce of 530 million. Figures for the Chinese vehicle fleet are around 60 million, IIRC, so this market will know no bounds if enough viable customers can be created.

Morgan Downey has a new post: The End of Decline: Oil Demand Recovering Excellent analysis, and I was particularly interested in this update on how the US workforce gets around: Most U.S. Workers Still Driving Alone - Population Reference Bureau. This is from last fall, the newest article I'd been able to find on this topic was from 2005. Nothing had changed in the interim, last year unquestionably saw a move towards MT, to the point of maxing out its capacity; but just as surely many have returned to the convenience of driving solo, what with gasoline prices at a reasonable level.

In fact, solo commuting has been stuck at 76% from 2000 to 2007. The US workforce is 154,577,000 at the moment, so that's 117,478,520 solo drivers - the "non-discretionary" part of gasoline demand, and the number to bear in mind when calculating how/if the US can wean itself off petroleum. The cost with any tech would be pretty staggering; even switching to FFV through conversion of the existing fleet would, if the conversions came in at a low low price of $500, $58,739,260,000. And FFV conversion is the cheapest route of them all, my price is an idealized average, discounting labor, or assuming scaling up/tax breaks will take away some of the sting. Current fees for CNG conversion are ca. $7000, thus $822 billion?

From the article, 'The debate about Peak Oil is midleading', is this little nugget:

"We should be focussing on cost of production rather than some mythical tipping point at which we start to run out of oil."

I keep seeing in articles about peak oil this reference to running out of oil. It's irritating because no one on TOD talks about running out of oil, but rather the implications of the decline of oil from peak extraction. What is it about the human brain that cannot distinguish between depletion from peak and running out? It's almost like these writer's are unable to understand anything more complex than one extreme or another. For them we are either up to our ears in oil or we are running out. How does their perception of reality make that senseless leap?

Fact is, we probably will not get very far down the depletion slope before all economic hell breaks loose and an incredible amount of oil remains untapped.

Let's not take this author so harshly out of context - expand the quote a very little and he seems basically to agree with you:

The debate about peak oil is, therefore, misleading. We are not about to run out of oil any time soon, but we are going to have to pay a great deal more to get it out of the ground. We should be focussing on cost of production rather than some mythical tipping point at which we start to run out of oil.

Which for now is correct - for example, last year's $147 debacle was not about running out.

The author is operating in a social milieu. Given the lurid survivalist stories that have started to appear even in the mainstream papers, and given plentiful blogs contemplating massive population die-off as soon as the next decade or two, can you really blame him so harshly for that mention of a "tipping point"?

PaulS, point well taken. Maybe I roughed him up a bit too much on that particular point considering he does elaborate as indicated. I've just seen that counter argument, that peak oilers claim we are running out of oil, when in fact that's not the case.

Often though I think counter arguments are made not because they make sense, but because they are a knee jerk emotional reaction. E.g., Obama's Death Panels, which was obviously nonsense, but conveyed their emotional reaction.

My beef is that they all mention "the debate" as if there has been one. So far it's just the media with extraordinarily bad analysis of he said/she said. If and when the Yergin/Lynch crowd ever accepts a debate, please let me know.

Part of the reason that people can't understand it is because the fundamental math to substantiate peak does not exist. The classical derivation for the Logistic curve (aka the peak oil sigmoid function) only leads to an asymptote to some nebulous "carrying capacity". The problem is that a carrying capacity never depletes, it simply reaches a steady state of resource levels (i.e. birth/death or predator/prey). So, according to the classical derivation, we can't run out of oil! Yet this is all wrong since the Verhulst equations that provide the sigmoid only describe a birth/death or predator/prey system that essentially "recycles" resources. Same thing applies if you want to derive the peak as a Gaussian curve.

I know that many of the people here hate to hear this pointed out as I start to sound like a broken record, but these semantic disconnects can exist and will lead to this kind of "warped" intuition. I give credit to the people who can do thought experiments in their head and essentially break through the disconnect. But in this case, they simply apply empirical observations and perhaps use the logistic simply as a heuristic. But the problem with a heuristic is that it can't prove anything.

Still, if we want to come up with a good derivation, we can. By applying the idea of dispersive discovery, we can derive the Logistic sigmoid as a special case. What this will do is enable the clever analysts help understand depletion and how peak oil really evolves, and if they can subsequently get the word out we can help people out who run into this disconnect.

Bottom line is that we are our worst enemy when we try to convince people that we know what we are talking about, when in fact we can not even present a cogent, bullet-proof mathematical argument to describe the peak.

We are even further our own worst enemy in thinking that we NEED, or will ever OBTAIN a bullet-proof mathematical argument to 'prove' any part of collapse of complex systems.

I agree with everything you said above that.

I would find it fun and challenging to work out the collapse of systems mathematically, but, alas, like you say it would likely remain intractable to prove.

We are even further our own worst enemy in thinking that we NEED, or will ever OBTAIN a bullet-proof mathematical argument to 'prove' any part of collapse of complex systems.

Well, it would be fairly straightforward to design a differential equation describing how the rate of production/consumption responds to how much we have already been using, and how much is left. The problem is that we don't know what to put in for the functions. Realistic ones would have to know something about the distribution of the costs of different fields, and how the economy responds to the scarcity/price. But, given a finite resource, I doubt the overall picture changes much as a function of the details. One way to proceed, is to use a small number of adjustable parameters to define these functions, then show how sensitive (or not) the trajectory is to these parameters. My guess, is that the trajectory near peak doesn't change very much for any reasonable combination.

That is how I would start conceptually but like much of this stuff I would try to cast it into stochastic terms instead of the deterministic frame that ordinary differential equations imply. As an example, when you suggest a distribution of the costs of different fields, it puts us in a stochastic context immediately. The range of costs propagate outward to produce a range in outcomes. But beyond this point my gut doesn't show much confidence in which way to proceed.

Non-sequitur alert: enemy, I think you utterly missed the point of the text you blockquoted...

I dunno, seems to me the fundamental concept is pretty basic stuff without reference to logistics, Verhulst, sigmoids, etc. Supply is finite; big with creamy nougat center but still finite. Sum of annual consumption numbers over life of planet must be less than or equal to supply, so sum is finite too. Numbers themselves form finite set, so one must be the largest - or maybe in an awesome coincidence there's a tie, but that doesn't greatly damage the concept.

Now there's one catch. Should a truly massive as-yet undiscovered reservoir comes to light, the concept might cease to be of concern in the short or medium term. That can't be helped and no conceivable math can make it go away completely as a possibility.

But all of this comes to nothing in the sociopolitical sphere, where quantitative or mathematical language is just gibberish anyhow.

So why isn't the largest value first. The disconnect comes about when people think in terms of emptying a gas tank. All the physical analogies people use don't apply and they can get stuck trying to figure out what "running out of oil" means.

It's irritating ... What is it about the human brain that [it] cannot [comprehend ..] ????

The human brain is exactly the problem.
We are not fact processing machines.
We operate by emotional associations.

"Running out of oil" sounds kind of like:
"Running out of gas"
and they are closely interrealted in our brains as is the physical experience of seeing the gas gauge edge toward empty and then responding by simply going to the market place (the gas station) to purchase more.

Hello TODers,

Now that the sad spectacle is finally over of the strange man in a strange land, Michael Jackson [MJ], some 'Wild & Crazy' thoughts from yours truly:

"Remember when the Music.. would set our minds afire"--Harry Chapin
Wildfire Reloaded, "She comes down from Yellow Mountain..." [4:52]
Music was MJ's life. If he had ever read Jay Hanson's Dieoff.org: he would instantly understand the deeper meanings of these songs above.

Recall my earlier calculations on how Illinois is spending roughly $330,000 per O-NPK ton to incorrectly bury John Does below the root zone. My embedded energy WAG in MJ's final 5-10 lbs of O-NPK easily runs into the many, many billion$$$; a huge violation of the Circle of Life.

Sadly, if the Jackson family had really contemplated with a deep Thermo/Gene mindset the musical work of MJ: it did not have to be this wasteful at all. In fact, his death could have done much for Peak Outreach if multiple nexuses [nexi?] were focused into overlapping themes to promulgate Asimovian Foundational growth of new cultural memes.

1. "We are the World, We are the Children..."

There comes a time
When we head a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
And it's time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all.

We can't go on
Pretending day by day
That someone, somewhere will soon make a change..
No doubt as we are the Overshoot--We are the Little Blue Marble's plague species. Since we are indeed the World, can we harness the concepts of predictive collapse and directed decline, innate territoriality, biosolar habitat initialization & enlargement and Detritovore states [Hirsch report]?

2. "Just Beat It" Perhaps a plea to move to Optimal Overshoot Decline before it is too late?

They told him don't you ever come around here
Don't wanna see your face, you better disappear
The fire's in their eyes and their words are really clear
So beat it, just beat it..
MJ encouraging the growth of ruthless Earthmarines for specie protection AT ALL COSTS? IMO, MJ would also grasp the deeper imperatives of Asimov's Bio-Elemental List [P is #1, S is #2..] from Beethoven's music:
Elysium is referenced in the Schiller poem which inspired Beethoven's Ode to Joy (9th symphony, 4th movement)

"Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,
Daughter of Elysium,
Touched with fire, to the portal,
Of thy radiant shrine, we come.
Your sweet magic frees all others,
Held in Custom's rigid rings.
All men on earth become brothers,
In the haven of your wings."

In Gladiator (2000 film) Maximus: "Three weeks from now, I will be harvesting my crops. Imagine where you will be, and it will be so. Hold the line! Stay with me! If you find yourself alone, riding in the green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled. For you are in Elysium, and you're already dead!"

3. "Thriller" --refer to Dr. David Suzuki's Quote: "We are on a suicidal path..We are in the 59th minute..".

It's close to midnight and something evil's lurking in the dark
Under the moonlight, you see a sight that almost stops your heart
You try to scream but terror takes the sound before you make it
You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes
You're paralyzed

'Cause this is thriller, thriller night
And no one's gonna save you from the beast about strike
You know it's thriller, thriller night
You're fighting for your life inside a killer, thriller tonight..

The Jackson family could have done so much if MJ was merely exposed 'to the cold-hearted orb that rules the night' and the dazzling light that scorches the harsh daylight:

MJ's remains could have been tossed into the Serengeti and global webcams could have documented the Last Process as his music played. A huge TV screen in the background could have urged viewers to google Peak Everything and all related websites and books. Dire movie scenes from EOS, The Road, 2012, etc could get screentime too. If funded by the music industry: the African poor, that MJ worked so hard to help, could have also daily brought or sent their tens of thousands of dead babies to dramatically enlarge the Thermo/Gene Malthusian impact to the rest of the watching world.

Imagine vultures, by the tens of thousands, descending to quickly rend the dead into O-NPK guano. Flies and maggots so plentiful that the webcams would require wipers to clear the lenses. Crocs doing Chubby Checker's Twist as they hogged down the decaying flesh. The glowing beady eyes of other predators feeding and fighting through the night. The Battle of Krueger [youtube video, please see] writ large into a Freddy Krueger diorama...

IMO, It was a golden opportunity lost to Peak Outreach to the young. They would have sent in massive amounts of charitable donations besides reading, doing the Peakoil Shoutout, and leveraging the paradigm shift to new levels. I am sure TODers could think of much more than what I speculatively wrote above to enhance Peak Outreach.

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

Well, I think MJ did have one song which touched on the competitiveness of our species: that one where he says, "if this city is an apple, let me take a bite".
"If they say why, why, tell them that it`s human nature, why why, does it feel this way....if they say why why, tell them that it`s human nature". My interpretation of this is first that it`s a double entendre, so of course, surface level he means sex. But under that it`s the competitiveness that people feel, the drive to conquer the city and become an elite. Which is what MJ did. Executed prefectly, but the follow-up was flawed.

In my opinion "Beat It" was about racism, the racism he faced when he tried to get his videos on MTV and couldn`t because of his color.

My friends and I in college danced to MJ`s music. I graduated in late 1980s, in time for the rise of true greed on Wall St. (I did not get a job there or seek one there) MJ`s song about taking a bite from the "apple" city can only mean New York. He is of course talking about his own life but the meaning shades into the lives of my college classmates who went to work at Goldman in droves.

You might consider a sacond career as a stand up comedian at environmental conferences.


I'm sorry, that is just too clever :-)


The first article Debate about peak oil is misleading says:

"Dubai is already moving to a non-oil economy and many other countries [the UK not least] will have to do the same in the coming years."

Dubai and many other middle eastern countries except egypt and iraq can never move to a non-oil economy unless they are forced to do so and then with a drastically reduced population. From a long term planning point of view, countries like uae, yemen, syria and even saudi arabia had made castles of sand by relying on oil. They have increased their population to may be 100 times than sustainable levels at the same time decreasing the long term sustainability by destroying oasis, sucking up underground water that gathered there in centuries etc. Dubai is a typical case of this over extension. It can never build an economy on non-oil, not any economy worth considering. There is simply nothing there. That is what a desert is. 50 years from now there may exist 20,000 fishermen and that is the most the land can support in long run. Any shifting to an industrial economy would require decades of planning and implementations and once they achieve it the fossil fuels would run too low to support any industrial economy any where on earth. There is also lack of metals there. The most they can do is make potteries, catch fishes and trade. Saudi Arabia would be a little better due to presence of some oasis and due to its geographical position that encourage land trade through its north. Syria is out of oil export business already and now rely on other sources of incomes, it can thrive better than a lot of countries. Egypt, once depopulated to one-tenth of its current population can actually become the most powerful country in the region. It has many sources of income such as tourism, trade through suez canal and a very strong agriculture base. Same is the story with iraq. Saddam Hussain once said that Kuwait has no power except oil but for iraq oil is just another source of income in absence of which iraq can still thrive.

"This has led to the concept of "peak oil" – the point at which there is less oil left in the ground than the amount we have taken out. There are plenty of theories about when peak oil will be reached"

Not exactly. Peak oil need not be the middle point of resource exploitation. Its the point where no matter how much men, material, money and machines are deployed and no matter how much political will is there the extraction rate of oil can't be increased.

"Despite the rather pessimistic view generated by the concept of peak oil, new fields are being discovered all the time. One pops up and then another, and another. Each new discovery pushes peak oil just a bit further away and leaves us wondering whether the panic over declining oil reserves is just another bit of eco-hype."

I see it the opposite way, pessimist is the action of peak oil deniers even if their voices are optimists. It matter more what a person do than what he/she says. Those who deny peak oil are risking a lots of resources and hope for a future that don't exist. They are denying a fundamental law of nature and nature has a rule to deal with those people badly. If all of us accept that energy resources are soon to decline we can settle down on a planned, systematic powering down that would be less painful and more easy. Resources would be diverted to where they are needed most, food and medicines production for example. Birth rate can be moved down to have a net reduction in population without killing anybody. If world keep on denying the truth by believing that resources are near infinite and the observed decline in production is due to politics then that would be used as perceived justifications of wars and a lot of lives would be unnecessarily lost, that is what would be pessimist.

A discovery would push peak oil further in future if that exceed annual rate of production, otherwise would be too little to matter in the grand scheme of things.

"In the past couple of weeks alone we have had a 8.8 billion barrel discovery announced at the Soussangerd field in Iran and BP revealed a five billion- barrel find at the Tiber field in the Gulf of Mexico."

Nobody should take the impression that since past two weeks had two discoveries its always a discovery a week average. The irani claim is hard to believe in absence of independent auditing and its most likely be an estimation of Oil-In-Place (OIP) rather than resource reserve as the trend is going, for example look at what ASPO USA had to say about it:

"Last week, the news was dominated by BP’s announcement on Wednesday that it had made a “giant” oil field discovery called Tiber, 35.000 feet beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. BP did not announce the size of the find, but said it was comparable to other discoveries in the area, leading to press speculation that the Tiber find was on the order of 1-3 billion barrels. Initially the announcement that oil could be found so far below the surface was greeted with much enthusiasm with some stories suggesting that a new era of finding oil was at hand and that exploration in the Gulf would revive.

Within a day reality set in as reporters learned that it was likely to take ten years of difficult and expensive drilling before any oil could be produced and even then less than a third of the oil, and possibly as little as 5 to 15 percent, can be recovered. Given that production from existing fields in the Gulf is likely to start declining rapidly in the next few years, oil from the deep water discoveries is unlikely to be sufficient to increase production from the Gulf." (source).

"The debate about peak oil is, therefore, misleading. We are not about to run out of oil any time soon, but we are going to have to pay a great deal more to get it out of the ground. We should be focussing on cost of production rather than some mythical tipping point at which we start to run out of oil."

Peak oil is not a point at which we start running out of oil. Common sense tells that we started running out of oil before time of alexander whom iraqis showed fire on water by burning oil layer on water. We been running out of oil all the time since start of civilization as the civilization's 10,000 years is a very small amount as compare to hundreds of millions of years needed to make the oil. Peak oil is simply the time when maximum flow rate is achieved. Rise in production before peak, plateau at peak, decline in production after peak. Rising cost of exploitation is a sign of decline. The peak must be passed that over all cost of exploitation world wise is increasing.

Kunstler's rant for Monday is another good one. He correctly diagnoses the political ramifications of Obama behaving like a paid stooge for Wall Street http://kunstler.com/blog/2009/09/-one-national-moment-of-nausea.html#more

Thanks for the link.
I wonder if Gail takes offense from what Kunstler says about actuaries?

On a broader note, even though I voted for the guy, I must admit that so far Obama has been something of a disappointment. He seems to be loyal supporter of the Chicago School of Economic Thinking in everything he does, even though the model is beginning to crumble at its very core. (No we can't ... defy the laws of physics.) I wonder if Congressman Roscoe Bartlett has had a moment to chat with the President and if so, what Obama's reaction was (or will be)? Is Peak Oil merely another "important but less urgent" problem? Is giving pep talks to 3rd grade students the more paramount problem to be tackled at this time? Does bread and circus continue to trump reality?

Oil company testing floating wind turbine: