Drumbeat: September 25, 2009

Denninger: The Horrible Conundrum Facing The Fed

But Japan had an advantage we do not - a weak currency benefited to a tremendous degree their exporters, and they are an export-based economy. As a consequence the damage done internally to import prices by the continued downward pressure on their currency was counterbalanced by an improving balance-of-payments picture.

America, on the other hand, has a huge trade deficit. Attempting to reverse this is essentially impossible as we have offshored production to low-labor-cost locales such as Vietnam and China. We are also absolutely dependent on foreign energy sources and despite 30 years of political promises to resolve that problem we have refused to take the steps necessary to do so, including funding massive nuclear energy development and drilling for all of our currently-known resources as a bridge while those nuclear plants are brought online. There is and has been zero political or public will behind accepting that resolving these problems does not lie in "pie in the sky" battery, solar and wind technologies, but rather through aquaculture-produced bioldiesel, massive nuclear power development and full exploitation of our existing fossil-fuel stores, all of which will cause energy costs to rise and exact what amounts to a tax on the American people. In short we demand not only cheap TVs from China and cheap blue jeans from Vietnam but cheap gasoline from Saudi Arabia, and combined this makes addressing trade imbalance politically impossible.

An alternative G20 model

On the eve of the world summit, G20 leaders – who have presided over the biggest financial expansion and the most catastrophic economic failure since the 1930s – bickered over the arrangement of the IMF's "deck chairs" and squabbled over whether to rap bankers on the knuckles.

No leader has risen above the fray to address the scale of the "triple crunch" threatening the world: sustained economic failure, the climate change threat and peak oil. Nor is there a world leader willing to confront, subdue and discipline the finance sector as Roosevelt did in 1933. Instead today's leaders scramble with undue haste for a return to "business as usual".

Cabot Oil ordered to shut fracturing ops in Penn.

(Reuters) - Pennsylvania regulators said they ordered Cabot Oil & Gas Corp (COG.N) to stop all hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations in Susquehanna County until it completed a number of important engineering and safety tasks.

Cabot voluntarily shut down fracking operations at the Heitsman well in Dimock Township on Tuesday afternoon, following three separate spills in less than one week, said the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in a statement.

The Resolute Ahmadinejad Knows How To Survive

Ahmadinejad is a survivor.

The first time he ran for the presidency of Iran, while careful not to offend the establishment, he said all the right things to get elected — promoting economic and social justice, cash payments from oil revenues to families in the name of equity, eradication of corruption, better educational opportunities and health care for all, an Iran that could defend itself against foreign aggression, and no compromise on Iran's right to nuclear enrichment. His tactics worked.

Gore-Backed Car Firm Gets Large U.S. Loan

WASHINGTON -- A tiny car company backed by former Vice President Al Gore has just gotten a $529 million U.S. government loan to help build a hybrid sports car in Finland that will sell for about $89,000.

The award this week to California startup Fisker Automotive Inc. follows a $465 million government loan to Tesla Motors Inc., purveyors of a $109,000 British-built electric Roadster. Tesla is a California startup focusing on all-electric vehicles, with a number of celebrity endorsements that is backed by investors that have contributed to Democratic campaigns.

U.S. natural gas rig count climbs 5 to 710 for week

NEW YORK, Sept 25 (Reuters) - The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the United States climbed five this week to 710, according to a report on Friday by oil services firm Baker Hughes in Houston.

The U.S. natural gas drilling rig count has gained in nine of the last 10 weeks but is still down sharply since peaking above 1,600 in September last year, standing at 849 rigs, or 54 percent, below the same week last year.

During the week ended July 17, 2009, the natural gas rig count dipped to 665, its lowest level since May 3, 2002, when there were 640 gas rigs operating.

Oil market response to Iran-West tension

LONDON (Reuters) - Heightened tensions between the West and oil exporter Iran pulled crude prices off an eight-week low on Friday, sending them back above $66 per barrel.

News of Iran's second uranium enrichment plant may heighten Western calls for tougher U.N sanctions against the Islamic Republic -- a move which could ultimately increase the risk of a supply disruption in the key crude producing region.

The Himalayan Gas Tango

Through September 2009, the government of India has issued a variety of statements designed to quell India's long-lived China bogey. It has done so to contain what it calls panic and scare-mongering about alleged incursions over the India-China border by units of the People's Liberation Army. The 'incidents' (as the Indian media like to call the events) have all occurred over India's north-western border with China, in the mountainous Jammu and Kashmir state.

China to rely on coal 'for long time': Beijing official

BEIJING (AFP) – China will continue to rely on coal for most of its energy needs "for a long time", a senior official said on Friday, just days after President Hu Jintao pledged action on its greenhouse gas emissions.

"It is an indisputable fact that China mainly relies on coal for its overall energy structure. Such a structure will remain hard to change for a long time," Zhang Guobao, head of the National Energy Administration, told reporters.

China discovers combustible ice in land-based regions

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- China has successfully excavated combustible ice, a kind of natural gas hydrate, in permanent tundra in the south margin of the country's northwestern Qilian Mountains, the Ministry of Land and Resources said Friday.

Detroit: The Death — and Possible Life — of a Great City

Detroit must address the fact that a 138-sq.-mi. city that once accommodated 1.85 million people is way too large for the 912,000 who remain. The fire, police and sanitation departments couldn't efficiently service the yawning stretches of barely inhabited areas even if the city could afford to maintain those operations at their former size. Detroit has to shrink its footprint, even if it means condemning decent houses in the gap-toothed areas and moving their occupants to compact neighborhoods where they might find a modicum of security and service. Build greenbelts, which are a lot cheaper to maintain than untraveled streets. Encourage urban farming. Let the barren areas revert to nature.

Precious Metal

Battery-powered electric vehicles may be heralded as the next big thing, but will lithium reserves that are already being devoured by consumer electronics be enough meet future demand?

Nuclear Loan Guarantees Should Be Doubled - US Energy Secretary

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- Federal loan guarantees for new nuclear power plant construction should be at least doubled to allow construction of four to five additional plants, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said late Thursday.

Recession slows U.S. wind power growth rate

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The United States will add 6,000 megawatts in wind power this year, down nearly 30 percent from last year as the credit crisis slowed expansion of the renewable energy source, an industry group said on Thursday.

Wind power has been one of the fastest growing sources of power generation, and the 2009 additions are equivalent to about six coal-fired power plants.

"The lion's share of that was commissioned on or before the economy went south," Denise Bode, head of the American Wind Energy Association told a news conference.

The End Of Globalization

Jeff Rubin has gone as far as to suggest the present global financial crisis wasn’t started by the sub prime mortgage crisis. Instead it was the July 2008 price peak to $147 per barrel that caused the financial meltdown. Rubin writes, “What put the world economy really in recession, is not Wall Street, but triple digit oil prices…”

Many economists disagree with Rubin’s hypothesis but do believe the massive oil price rise may well have been the tipping point that started what now is called “The great recession”-there’s still a reluctance to use the word depression and thereby conjure up images of “The Great Depression”.

Chesapeake to Sell Half Its Pipelines in Barnett Shale

Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy, which has a large regional office in Fort Worth, said late Thursday that it will raise $588 million in cash by selling half its natural gas pipelines in the Barnett Shale of North Texas, as well as properties in other petroleum basins.

EU: carbon policy could leave UK in the dark

Britain's old coal-fired power plants have only six more years to live at the most. Their death sentence has been passed by the European Union, which decreed that the most polluting stations must be retired after a fixed number of hours. But experts predict that the phasing out of these reliable but dirty old beasts will leave the UK facing a catastrophic shortage of energy that may lead to power cuts and vastly inflated bills.

Russia plays pipeline politics

BEIJING - While the United States is engrossed in Iraq and Afghanistan - even planning a troop surge in the latter - a new and bigger strategic risk looms in a much more sensitive area - Europe and Russia. The challenge is about energy and influence in the "old continent", still the richest industrial area in the world.

Kazakhs mulls over transport for oil boost

Kazakhstan, which plans to double oil production in the next decade, is in talks with Caspian Sea neighbour Azerbaijan to find new routes for delivering its extra crude volumes to the Black Sea and beyond.

The ex-Soviet republics are considering various options, including construction of a new pipeline, to add to the volumes now shipped by tanker across the Caspian Sea, Reuters reported Kazakh and Azeri officials as saying today.

South Korea Predicts Oil Prices to Rise to $75 in 2010

South Korea on Friday predicted the international oil prices are likely to rise to an average of $75 per barrel in 2010.

According to a report prepared by the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, the price of the benchmark Dubai crude stood at $60 per barrel this year, and it will rise to $75 in 2010 as the global economy is showing signs of recovery.

EU: energy security is in the pipeline

After years of dithering, and despite Moscow's threats, agreement has been finalised for a project to bring non-Russian gas to Europe.

LNG terminal opens in Saint John

Repsol and Irving Oil officially opened their controversial liquefied natural gas terminal in Saint John, N.B., on Thursday.

About 400 people attended the Canaport LNG commissioning ceremony, including politicians and energy-sector officials, who were all shuttled in from the facility's entrance on Red Head Road to a large white tent, where violinists played.

The $1-billion terminal is the first to be built in Canada and the first land-based LNG-receiving and re-gas terminal built on the East Coast of North America in 30 years.

Petrobras Eyes Ultra-Deepwater Prospects Off Bahia

Brazilian state-run energy giant Petrobras (PBR) is currently researching possible ultra-deepwater oil prospects off the coast of northeast Brazil, company CEO Jose Sergio Gabrielli said Friday.

Quoted by the local Estado news agency, Gabrielli said in Brasilia that "there could be (subsalt oil there), we're there conducting research. We have to drill to see."

Officials Tout Offshore Drilling in Bipartisan Letter to Salazar

Georgia's two Republican senators joined their colleagues in the upper chamber of the U.S. Congress in pitching for opening offshore waters to new natural gas and oil development and leases.

Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson were among 35 signers of a bipartisan letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking him to support a proposal by the U.S. Minerals Management Service to open up new offshore areas.

Chevron Seeks to Foist $27 Billion Amazon Liability on Ecuador

(Bloomberg) -- Chevron Corp., the second-largest U.S. oil company, may force Ecuador’s government to foot the bill for a $27 billion environmental lawsuit marred by allegations of bribery and political interference.

Chevron asked the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague to shift responsibility to Ecuador for paying any damages that a group of Amazon Basin residents could win in a 16-year- old toxic-waste lawsuit, according to a company statement yesterday. An investigator appointed by the Ecuadorean court overseeing the case estimated that damages could be $27 billion, more than half of the Andean nation’s gross domestic product.

Saudi offers mid-October Jubail fuel oil

SINGAPORE: Saudi Aramco is offering via private talks a cargo of 380-cst fuel oil for mid-October loading, its fifth parcel in three weeks, as it rides on buoyant Middle East and east Asian demand, traders said yesterday.

Malta: Gas supply was about to finish, report reveals

A three-day cold spell in December 2007 and a delayed shipment of gas because of bad weather left Enemalta with "only 90 minutes" of gas supplies, a dossier published by the government has revealed.

The internal Enemalta dossier, drawn up in March 2008, just two days before the general election, said the corporation had a low capacity of storage and this meant it was "not in a position to secure continuity of gas during peak periods arising from abnormal cold spells".

Nigeria: Government Must Save Manufacturing Companies From Folding Up

Lagos — Niger Delta Budget Monitoring Group (NDEBUMOG) has called on the Federal Government to introduce policies that would save manufacturing companies from folding up or relocating from the country.

The call is coming at a time most manufacturing companies in the country are experiencing multidimensional difficulties, ranging from deteriorating infrastructure, energy crisis, as well as low patronage of locally manufactured products.

China Considers Cutting Wholesale Power Prices, Citigroup Says

(Bloomberg) -- The Chinese government is considering cutting wholesale power tariffs to lower costs for grid companies, Citigroup said, without citing anybody.

Grid companies who buy electricity from generators are making losses and they have “huge” capital expenditure requirements, analysts Pierre Lau and Maggie Mok said in a research note today. The companies’ capital spending between 2009 and 2011 is estimated at 1.5 trillion yuan ($220 billion), twice the expenditure for 2006 to 2008, the analysts said,

Motoring Memories: American diesel cars

Although diesel engines are more efficient and economical than gasoline engines, the clatter, smell and smoke of earlier models found little favour with North American motorists until the 1970s when energy crises threatened gasoline supplies. And even then, their popularity in cars was fleeting.

In Europe, where fuel is much more expensive, motorists enthusiastically embraced the oil sipping diesel. Daimler-Benz introduced the world’s first diesel production car, the Mercedes-Benz 260D, in 1936. Although meant for taxi use, the 260D’s economy and durability appealed to ordinary motorists and Daimler-Benz became a strong diesel car advocate.

An Immune System for the Planet: Bill McKibben on Organizing Popular Action When Political Leaders Disappoint

I thought Obama was quite disappointing. It felt to me like he was pre-excusing failure both in Washington and in Copenhagen. If this is as important as he says it is--and in fact, it's far more important than he says it is--then you've got to do more than the occasional speech or reference. You've got to go out and campaign. This guy knows how to campaign. I think we'll know he's completely serious the day he fires up Air Force One and the day begins with the whole press corps in tow in Barrow, Alaska and ends in McMurdo Station in the Antarctic.

North Sea has potential to store over 100 years worth of UK power station CO2 emissions says DECC

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said:

“There’s enough potential under the North Sea to store more than 100 years worth of CO2 emissions from the UK’s power fleet. We are also working closely with Norway and other North Sea Basin countries to ensure the North Sea fulfils its potential in the deployment of CCS in Europe. We want to get the UK regulatory framework in place so we can harness that potential and make the North Sea part of the CCS revolution.

We need land to grow food. We need a Community Land Bank

The concept is simple. The Bank would negotiate for land, hold it and then release it to user groups under legally enforceable contracts, attracting charitable funding as appropriate, and facilitate transfers of tenants (community gardening groups) across a portfolio of land holdings. The Land Bank would also arrange insurance and ensure legal and technical compliance. In effect, it would be a safe pair of hands in which both land owners and users could trust.

The catalyst behind this idea is the rapid rise in demand for land to cultivate for food. Hardly a day seems to go by without some reference to the growing waiting lists for allotments – some estimates suggest that there are now 100,000 people on waiting lists for the current 300,000 plots. In London you might have to wait for ten or more years, in Bristol the wait can be up to three years.

Author's 'Food' Lecture Draws Attention On Campus

MADISON, Wis. -- The author of a book about food that has sparked debate on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus gave a lecture Thursday night in which he presented his ideas to supporters and critics in attendance.

UW-Madison selected Michael Pollan's best-selling book "In Defense of Food" for a campus-wide reading program, and the book's selection has set off a debate over the American diet and food production system in classrooms and far beyond campus borders.

For the World's Hungry, the Recession Is Far from Over

It's late morning and Minara Khatoon's five young children haven't eaten yet. They sit huddled on the dirt floor of their mud thatch hut, waiting as their mother stokes a makeshift fire with straw and dry leaves to prepare what will be their main — and perhaps their only — meal of the day. Minara has just returned to her home in the riverside village of Kapasia, 192 kilometers north of Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, with a monthly supply of wheat grain given to destitute rural families like hers by the United Nations' World Food Program (WFP). The food aid helps, but only lasts Minara's landless peasant family —among the poorest of the poor in what is already Bangladesh's most impoverished district — for 20 days. Her husband doesn't work due to a chronic asthma condition so to make ends meet she toils as a maid in wealthier households during the day and at night cobbles together handicrafts to sell in a local market. "This is how we survive," says Minara, pounding fistfuls of wheat on an earthen plate, her tired face far older than that of a woman of her 30 years.

Drought to Pare India Oilseed Crop, Supporting Palm Oil Imports

(Bloomberg) -- India, the biggest buyer of palm oil after China, may producer fewer monsoon-sown oilseeds as dry weather in the main growing areas reduced sowing of peanuts.

Russian Oil and Gas Industry Surprises Analysts

Russia is the biggest oil producer in the world, but the Russian domestic market is not as big as the oil production. Russia's consumption of hydrocarbons is only about 25% of the domestic oil production, so Russia exports the majority of oil it produces and whatever it refines.

I think the biggest issue that concerns most investors as far as Russian oil production is concerned is the growth rate or decline rate. At the start of the year, there were calls made by quite a large number of commentators that Russian oil production would decline this year by quite a considerable amount. The numbers published were between 1% and 5% and even 7%.

In actual fact, the Russian production is up this year. Year to date it is up 0.4% and we believe it will be up 0.3% for the full year. This growth has really surprised a lot of market commentators.

Arctic Oil Tempts Norway to Seek Drilling at ‘Gates of Hell’

(Bloomberg) -- Norway started a push to explore for oil and natural gas in more remote regions like its Arctic volcanic island of Jan Mayen, as the country seeks to reverse almost a decade of dwindling North Sea output.

“We’ve explored an increasingly large part of the Norwegian shelf,” Oil Minister Terje Riis-Johansen said in an interview on a trip to the barren outpost on Sept. 23. “If we now wish to develop Norway as an oil and gas nation, it will have to be in other areas.”

Diminishing access to traditional reserves is prompting countries to turn to unconventional sources such as oil sands and shale-rock formations to meet demand. Russia, Canada, the U.S. and Iceland are vying for a stake of the Arctic, which may hold as much as 50 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil, according to BP Plc.

Shell Output Set to Pass BP With $40 Billion Spent on Projects

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, held back by almost seven years of falling production, is set to overtake BP Plc after about $40 billion of investment from Qatar to Brazil.

Shell will boost its oil and gas output by a third, adding 1 million barrels a day to capacity by the end of 2012, according to company estimates. That would push Shell to 4.25 million, more than the 4.1 million BP anticipates for 2012.

Indonesia’s Cepu Oil Field to Miss 2010 Output Target

(Bloomberg) -- Indonesia’s Cepu oil field, jointly run by Exxon Mobil Corp. and state-owned PT Pertamina, will miss its 2010 crude output target of 165,000 barrels per day, BPMigas, the country’s oil and gas regulator, said.

“Peak production should be in May 2010, but it is impossible for Exxon to achieve it,” Hadi Purnomo, vice chairman head BP Migas said today in Jakarta.

Slumping Energy Demand Has Bottomed, Fund Manager Melis Says

(Bloomberg) -- The decline in energy demand and drop in German electricity prices may have ended, according to the chief executive officer of hedge-fund manager Energy Capital Management BV.

“The forward prices are at lows, the spot prices are at lows,” CEO Marcel Melis said yesterday at an energy markets and derivatives conference in London. “One thing is for sure -- energy consumption will not decrease anymore.”

Oil Heading to Test Support in Low $60s: Technical Analysis

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil may test support in the low $60s after breaking a trend of rising prices that began in February, according to technical analysis by Newedge Group.

If prices drop below $65 a barrel, there will be support in the $63.60-to-$63.75 area and then at $61.38, said Veronique Lashinski, a senior research analyst for Newedge USA LLC in Chicago. Crude oil for November delivery fell 3.9 percent to $68.97 on Sept. 23, ending more than seven months of price gains that started on Feb. 18 when the contract slipped to $45.87.

Crude Oil May Decline Amid Rising Fuel Supplies, Survey Shows

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil futures may decline in anticipation of extended increases in U.S. fuel supplies as demand drops.

Twenty-four of 44 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News, or 55 percent, said futures will drop through Oct. 2. Seven respondents, or 16 percent, forecast that the market will rise and 13 said prices will be little changed. Last week, 38 percent of analysts said oil would fall.

China to build third phase strategic oil reserves

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- China will "certainly" build a third phase of strategic oil reserves to meet international standards of reserve capacity, Zhang Guobao, head of the National Energy Administration said Friday.

Zhang, also vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, said China was aiming for enough oil reserve to cover 90 days, the standards of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

China's oil reserves at present is far from meeting that standard, he said.

Iran acknowledges second nuclear facility

(CNN) -- Iran has acknowledged the existence of a second uranium enrichment plant in a letter sent to the International Atomic Energy Agency, a spokesman for the nuclear watchdog agency said Friday.

Recession Fallout: Fewer Women Having Kids

If the sidewalks seem less clogged with Bugaboo strollers these days and you can't remember the last time you had to diaper a doll at a baby shower, it's not your imagination or fuzzy memory. Birth rates in the U.S. fell 2% in 2008, the biggest drop in nearly four decades, and that trend is expected to continue. A new study out Sept. 23 from the Guttmacher Institute suggests that the timing is not a coincidence; the recession may be to blame, as women factor economic anxieties into their decision about having children.

How to Sustain a Local Economy

When The Chronicle entered the lower level meeting room of the downtown Ann Arbor library, the first things we noticed were three large trays of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cut into bite-sized wedges. As public forums go, this was an offbeat gnoshing choice.

It turned out that the sandwiches – and apples, soft drinks, potato chips and other food – were all sourced from Michigan, in keeping with the theme of Wednesday night’s event. The panel discussion focused on the state’s economic crisis, and how the community can respond to it. Buying local products is one example.

Joe Berlinger's "Crude"

Yesterday, San Francisco's Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force released their much anticipated report, a comprehensive and important tome that will hopefully serve as a primer, as well as a clarion call. Recently, films like Josh Tickell's wonderful "Fuel", "The Age of Stupid" and "An Inconvenient Truth" have also served as important reminders that we face real challenges in a world of diminishing resources.

Another fantastic film is "Crude", now playing at the Landmark Lumiere. Three years in the making, this cinéma-vérité feature from acclaimed filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Brother’s Keeper, Paradise Lost, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster) is the epic story of one of the largest and most controversial environmental lawsuits on the planet. The inside story of the infamous “Amazon Chernobyl” case, Crude is a real-life high stakes legal drama, set against a backdrop of the environmental movement, global politics, celebrity activism, human rights advocacy, the media, multinational corporate power, and rapidly-disappearing indigenous cultures. Presenting a complex situation from multiple viewpoints, the film subverts the conventions of advocacy filmmaking, exploring a complicated situation from all angles while bringing an important story of environmental peril and human suffering into focus

Author speaks of future oil, environmental, economic crises

The kind of society Americans know and support cannot continue, said James Howard Kunstler, author of "The Long Emergency", a book about the issues future generations will face regarding the oil crisis, global warming and living in suburbia. Kunstler spoke on Tuesday in Lewis Lab.

America does not know how to pay back its debt, and our resources are approaching their scarcity limits, he said.

Kunstler also spoke about the future of America and what must happen for the country to be able to thrive in the future.

Urging a conclave on transportation in the Northampton-Greenfield-Amherst triangle

With the inexplicable non-green recent proposal by the Transportation Section of Pioneer Valley Planning Commission to take the train away from Amherst and give it to Northampton and other centers on the west side of the Connecticut River, many feathers have flown, as you surely know.

Since trains have lower carbon per passenger per mile than do buses, and buses lower than cars, and cars lower than SUVs, don't we need to publish that authoritatively far and wide right away to residents in the Northampton-Greenfield-Amherst triangle?

Horizons Community Planning Article

I believe that planning strategies inadvertently influence people’s lifestyle choices, amplifying their ease or hardship – which has everything to with people’s economic circumstances (i.e. poverty). Therefore, it is critical to the health and wealth of communities to adopt a framework on which to grow that promotes healthy and useful development. All too often, towns grow according to the activities of the few with commercial interests and not necessarily in a way that is advantageous to all. I am not sure local leaders realize how affected we are by these decisions.

The most obvious and impactful case in point is how development is planned to cater the automobile and how those decisions dictate our lifestyle choices. During the settling of the west, small towns dotted the landscape because people needed to have access to goods and services near enough so the trip could made in one day by horseback or buggy. Many modern and prominent academics claim that the rise of the automobile has caused the widespread decline of small rural communities all over the world.

Ask AP: Wind power and wildlife, jobless benefits

Wind power has its fans, but the turbines that turn breezes into energy are also generating concerns: Some worry that the huge contraptions might put wildlife at risk.

So has anyone considered illuminating them with floodlights or painting them hot pink, so animals know to stay away?

Our future: a biomass-powered economy

AUSTRALIA should aim to run its economy on renewable energy sources by 2051, a new analysis argues, with rural areas playing a leading role in the creation of energy from biomass.

Within 40 years, given an early commitment, 90 per cent of Australia’s transport fuel and 20 per cent of its electricity generation could come from bio-methanol or ethanol produced from wood, according to the report, “Powerful Choices”.

For this to happen, currently cleared farmland, by 2051, will need to carry 40–60 million hectares of timber in plantings tightly integrated with traditional cropping and livestock production systems.

Clean-energy jobs touch off bidding wars between states

When Arizona economic development officials look across their state, they envision the Saudi Arabia of solar.

The state has sun, land, workers and proximity to California, the biggest solar market in the U.S.

Yet for years, Arizona has failed to attract the big solar manufacturers that build the mirrors, panels and other components for solar equipment. In the past three years, about 50 renewable-energy companies considered Arizona but opted to put plants — and jobs — in other states, says Barry Broome, CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council.

"We've lost every one of the projects to incentives offered by other states," Broome says.

Duke, FPL to switch to hybrid, electric vehicles

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Two of the nation's largest power generators said Thursday that they plan to begin switching their company cars and trucks to plug-in hybrid vehicles or all-electric vehicles starting Jan. 1 to help cut greenhouse gas emissions.

China Backs Market Price for Wind Power

BEIJING -- A top Chinese energy policy official said Friday the price for wind power and other renewable energy should be set by market forces, rejecting calls for fixed prices, a system used in some countries to promote the use of renewable energy.

As China looks to renewables to fill more of its energy needs, many Chinese power companies are looking to develop wind energy but are worried about profitability and thus looking for price guarantees.

New California rules allow timber firms to sell carbon credits

Environmental groups criticize the Schwarzenegger-backed changes, which allow the companies to benefit from the fight against global warming while continuing to clear-cut forests.

Climate Change in Alps to Leave Europe High and Dry

Picturesque views of the snow-covered Alps may soon be relegated to picture books due to increasing climate change, a new European environmental report says. And it's not just skiers and tourism officials who are getting nervous about the fate of the continent's famous mountains.

Temperatures in the Alps are increasing at a rate more than twice the global average, according to a recent report by the European Environment Agency, "Regional climate change and adaptation: The Alps facing the challenge of changing water resources." The change has serious ramifications not only for the alpine climate itself, but also for the broad swath of Europe that relies on the water these "cherished but endangered mountains" collect and deliver.

'Super-typhoons' forecast for second half of century

The effects of global warming will spawn "super-typhoons" packing winds of up to 288 kph in the second half of this century, causing unprecedented damage to Japan's coastlines, researchers warned.

"If a super-typhoon lands on Japan, the high tides could bring about more serious damage than that in the Isewan Typhoon," said Kazuhisa Tsuboki, associate professor of meteorology at Nagoya University and a member of the research team.

The Isewan Typhoon that struck the Ise Bay area facing Nagoya in 1959 killed more than 5,000 people, many of whom were swept away in the high tides.

The researchers from Nagoya University, the Japan Meteorological Agency's Meteorological Research Institute and other organizations said the super-typhoons will also be stronger than Hurricane Katrina, which killed more than 1,000 people in the southern United States in 2005.

Calif. bans high-emission paint thinners, solvents

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California air regulators approved strict regulations Thursday for aerosol air fresheners, paint thinners and solvents as a way to lessen smog-forming emissions and reduce a health threat.

Has China Really Gotten Serious About Climate Change?

To get a sense of how far the Chinese leadership has come on the issue of climate change in a relatively short period, consider a conference held two years ago on the tropical island of Hainan, where, every year, China invites the high and mighty from around the world to address the weighty issues of the day at a plush resort. The theme of the conference was "Green China," and if there was a single underlying idea, it was that China, having just become the world's largest emitter of CO2 gases, was going to jump wholeheartedly on the global bandwagon to combat climate change. But on the conference's final day, during the main event and keynote address, President Hu Jintao talked about China's commitment to economic reform, to maintaining its extraordinary pace of economic growth, to opening China's market further to foreign investment and products — but only the barest nod in the direction of climate change. A confused American environmental consultant left the speech sputtering. "What was that about?" he asked former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was walking out with him. Powell laughed. "You know what the first thing is that Hu Jintao doesn't think about when he wakes up every morning?" Powell joked. "Climate change."

EU CO2 Permits Rise After Commission Vows to Prevent Surplus

(Bloomberg) -- European Union carbon permits rose the most in almost eight weeks as the European Commission pledged to prevent surplus credits following a court ruling that overturned pollution limits on Poland and Estonia.

Group Plans Market Standard for Emissions in China

WASHINGTON — A French emissions exchange and a Chinese exchange are forming a carbon market standard for China, marking a step toward a voluntary system to limit greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and forestry in the world’s top emitter.

Rather Than Melt, some Glaciers Race to the Sea

The seas are rising, and climate scientists say they'll keep rising as the globe continues to warm, causing all sorts of problems along tens of thousands of miles of coastline around the world. What the scientists can't say for sure, though, is how much sea levels will go up, or how fast. That's largely because nobody knows for sure how the vast ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica — especially the glaciers that flow down and into the sea — will respond.

At summit, doubts grow on reaching climate deal

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (AFP) – European leaders voiced growing doubts on whether the world will meet a December deadline for a new climate deal as a summit here looked set to take up global warming in generalities.

Krugman: It’s Easy Being Green

Even corporations are losing patience with the deniers: earlier this week Pacific Gas and Electric canceled its membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in protest over the chamber’s “disingenuous attempts to diminish or distort the reality” of climate change.

So the main argument against climate action probably won’t be the claim that global warming is a myth. It will, instead, be the argument that doing anything to limit global warming would destroy the economy. As the blog Climate Progress puts it, opponents of climate change legislation “keep raising their estimated cost of the clean energy and global warming pollution reduction programs like some out of control auctioneer.”

Steven Chu to greenhouse gases: we will bury you

The U.S. Secretary of Energy—channeling former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev perhaps?—has one thing to say in this week's Science to the greenhouse gases emitted by coal-fired power plants: we will bury you. Nobel Laureate Steven Chu's department has funneled $3.4 billion in stimulus dollars to research and develop the technology known as carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Behind the Furor Over a Climate Change Skeptic

WASHINGTON — Alan Carlin, a 72-year-old analyst and economist, had labored in obscurity in a little-known office at the Environmental Protection Agency since the Nixon administration.

In June, however, he became a sudden celebrity with the surfacing of a few e-mail messages that seemed to show that his contrarian views on global warming had been suppressed by his superiors because they were inconvenient to the Obama administration’s climate change policy. Conservative commentators and Congressional Republicans said he had been muzzled because he did not toe the liberal line.

But a closer look at his case and a broader set of internal E.P.A. documents obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act paint a more complicated picture.


Interesting correlation between the histogram of USA city population size and histogram of estimated USA reservoir sizes:

For every large city there is essentially a large reservoir that can feed it. This is likely coincidental but it gives people a new way of looking at reserves.

The data from the USA oil is several years old and I wish I could get more recent data.

So I guess we could infer that building more big cities is a sure way to discover more giant oil fields?


That is certainly a cleverly sarcastic way of looking at it.

A depressing way to look at it is that the vast majority of the oil fields have already turned into ghost reservoirs. These are basically dead but still get counted in the histogram. If you consider the correspondence between the number of cities and the fields, think about the same fraction of the cities turning into ghost towns. As an analogy that people can get their arms around, it is quite foreboding.

Maybe back in the 'old days' plankton just liked to huddle together like we do...? :o)


There is some good insight in that statement. There are a few ways to look at the reservoir size distribution and the parallels to urban aggregation. One is that oil can migrate long distances through porous structure to locations that the oil can pool into and thus aggregate. That this occurs over varying rates over long periods of time leads to a Pareto or Zipf's Law type of size distribution.

Wouldn't you know that Paul Krugman in fact has studied this same behavior in terms of urban growth dynamics. Krugman has written about Zipf's law and one of the clearest explanations uses this same velocity dispersion of people moving into cities. It essentially gives a distribution that has the same 1/Size CDF. The economist Gabaix has an interesting derivation assuming a variance in growth rates in this PDF:

In my model for reservoir growth, I use the maximum entropy on the variance and the derivation drops out cleanly, and you get the solid lines in the graphs shown. The CDF is 1/(1+k*Size). I call this model Dispersive Aggregation: http://mobjectivist.blogspot.com/2008/10/dispersive-discovery-field-size...

The fact that the size envelope parallels city populations is either coincidental, has some causality, or is symptomatic of some universal natural laws at work. But the fact that the total number matches can't be a natural law and can only be coincidental or in fact has provided an impetus to our country's insane growth in wealth and productivity.


I'm not as learned as you and Paul Krugman, but it seems to me that there is a fundamental law at work, usually called Sutton's Law (Reporter-- "Willie, why do you rob banks?" Mr. Sutton-- "Because that's where the money is.")

Cities are established where there are resources, and they grow as long as the resource base persists, or as long as they are able to mine the hinterlands. They collapse and become ghost towns when they exceed their ability to extract locally or at a distance.

Seems like they would naturally follow the same curve as resource depletion.

The yeast and the ciliata behave similarly -- the old question recurs: "Are people any smarter than yeast?"

Lots of qualitative explanations for what is going on but the quantitative aspect is what is so intriguing to me. The fact that it so closely approximates a theory of dispersive growth makes it more than just Sutton's Law at work. Besides, Sutton's Law is related as a corollary of Pareto's Law (the old 80/20 rule). That is, most of the wealth is located in just a few places.

There is an equilibrium argument at work here as well. Consider the "splitting up the pie" problem. If you have a constant size pool and split it up into N pieces, each size is about 1/N the total. Given the fact that people move around where the perceived money is, then you can conceivably maintain the 1/N distribution as a bunch of different pies.

I agree on the ghost town dynamic. The issue is that of the time scale that we are dealing with and the fact that humans are a renewable resource. Real ghost towns disappear but the people often just move elsewhere. When an oil reservoir turns to ghost, it is gone for good.

Sometimes for political and economic reasons a town doesn't 'reach its potential.' One such example is Coos Bay OR as described in a book 'Plundertown' by Al Sandine. Coos Bay had the potential to become another San Francisco but for Weyerhauser and Georgia Pacific sucking off the wealth and taking it elsewhere. Of course there are many other similar stories of local wealth being plundered by rapacious corporations.

Cities are established where there are resources, and they grow as long as the resource base persists, or as long as they are able to mine the hinterlands. They collapse and become ghost towns when they exceed their ability to extract locally or at a distance.

Except Dallas I was told by several native - uhh - ummm - Dallasins?!

I dunno about the ghost towns part, but about100K people can fit into Jerry Jones new house.


All this graph says is that the distribution of sizes of cities and of reservoirs look pretty similar. The thing is, the distribution of lots of other things looks pretty similar too. I have spent lots of time looking at distributions like this. I was looking at the distributions of run-times for an algorithm that solves complicated equations - mostly they're not too hard to solve, but now and again a real monster comes along. Or you could plot the distribution of personal income and it would look very similar. It's a common pattern in statistics.

Yes, but people still argue about what causes the distribution. Some of these curves obey the power law over several orders of magnitude.

I would say the causality aspect between the two is pretty shaky though.

you seem to be drifting into empericaland !

Yes, exactly, and that is what I usually rail against doing -- such as using unsupported heuristics, etc.

Although, this was one of those correlations that looked too tempting to pass up.

More on the Indirect Land Use Change Theory fuss:


And regarding FPL and it's switch to hybrid-electric and electric vehicles, up top:

FPL has started construction on what looks to be about 10 more wind turbines to the north and northwest of the home place. They are constructing roads through corn fields by chopping up the corn and hauling it away. The base holes are being dug and concrete is being poured. FPL does stuff very quietly.

I had no clue that this add on to their current 180 turbine wind farm was going to happen this fast. FPL quietly buys up the rights and then, poof, construction starts. At 2-3 million dollars each and all the turmoil on country roads, this activity is no small think to local residents.

But on the other hand there aren't many of us left anymore.

Can you tell from the base if these will be GE of Clippers ?

Any idea of the local transmission limitations ?


Illegal Palm Oil Plantations in Indonesia

Destroying habitat/jungle. One group chainsaws illegal planting.

Palm oil is a source of bio-diesel



A company here called Blue Ridge Biofuels sources most, if not all, of their input from waste vegetable oil from area businesses. You can actually smell which cars are using it as they go by.


WRT both this and the Canadian Driver article above, I'm not too keen on diesel passenger automobiles, even if they do use biodiesel. The way I see it, there is only a limited amount of biodiesel we are going to be able to produce without either ripping up the tropical forests (palm oil) or diverting too much crop land from food to fuel production. We are going to need the limited amounts of biodiesel that we can produce to keep our essential public service vehicles, farm machinery, railroads, and other important equipment running as the petrodiesel runs out. Yes, I know that the EROI for biodiesel is not real great, but it is much better than ethanol, and it may have to just be good enough. The point, though, is that there is unlikely to be enough both for these essential users and also enough to keep happy motoring going. I'm thus not sure it really is wise to build up a base of motorists that will be expecting a continuing supply of fuel for their diesel automobiles.

If people want an automobile that will at least be less of a problem for the future, if not part of the solution, then they should be thinking in terms of an NEV for local transport, and relying on public transport for longer distances, if they need to travel longer distances at all.

I keep my 1982 Mercedes Benz 240D (manual transmission, 28 to 30 mpg in the city) for evacuations and occasional bulky pick-ups and places not reachable by public transport. Currently about 50-60 gallons/yr (far more than the olive oil I eat !)

Sustainable ? Perhaps as long as I am capable of driving, perhaps not. I could certainly cut my use in half if need be.

Which is better, a gas or diesel car ? IMHO, best mileage wins, regardless of fuel.


PBJ's from Mom!.. the original biofuel!

..or you can upgrade if you want to tour in your retirement..

As a practical matter the typical person should stay away from a diesel car unless he intends to drive it a LOT of miles.

Automotive diesels just don't live up to the diesel reputation for dependability and the extra cost is hard to recoup from the fuel savings.

Of course the really new ones -the ones hitting the roads in the ast two or three years -may be more reliable.

But I have known several people who owned diesel cars-once , none twice.Of course most of the people I know are cost conscious in the extreme.

You don't pay the price premium on a used diesel car around here.

I made off pretty well with mine :)

About 50 percent of cars in Western Europe are Diesels and the proportion is growing, even though people drive less on average than Americans. More expensive fuel is one reason, but Diesels are very reliable. My first diesel, with a 2001 1.4 TDI engine gets 60 mpg and has never failed to start and never been repaired.

Every study I have seen has shown that the EROI of biodiesel is better than corn-based ethanol but worse than sugar cane-based ethanol. So your claim "EROI for biodiesel is ... much better than ethanol" is inaccurate.

The ethanol produced in the US is almost entirely from corn, not sugar cane. That is what I was referring to. Yes, you are right about the cane ethanol, but at some point the Brazilians are going to need that all for themselves.

But what is so hard about just saying "corn-based ethanol" and not being wrong? Also, many readers, including myself, are not in the US. So US-centric references are not going to be universally valid. Given that the difference between being accurate and inaccurate is ten key strokes, I can't understand why you don't make the effort.

Very misleading: "(CNN) -- Iran has acknowledged the existence of a second uranium enrichment plant in a letter sent to the International Atomic Energy Agency, a spokesman for the nuclear watchdog agency said Friday."

From the article:"
"I can confirm that on 21 September, Iran informed the IAEA in a letter that a new pilot fuel enrichment plant is under construction in the country," agency spokesman Marc Vidricaire said."

Iran probably should have informed IAEA earlier, yes. Link above.

I believe that Western intelligence services have known about this facility for several months.
This appears to be a continuation of the cat and mouse games that the Iranians are playing.
The crunch may come when the Israelis get tired of it.

The link up top: Russian Oil and Gas Industry Surprises Analysts is revealing.

There are plenty of projects in Russia, both, new projects and existing brownfield projects. Russia is a very mature producer. If you exclude all the drilling activity taking place every year, then Russian organic decline in production is close to 19%. To compensate for that organic decline, Russia drills somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 wells every year.

Russia's fields have a 19 percent decline rate! But by drilling almost 6,000 new wells each year they have kept production flat. Production this year will be slightly higher than 2008 but still about .4 percent below their peak year of 2007.

A 19 percent decline rate, less new production, is among the highest decline rates in the world. And if they follow the pattern set by most other countries, more and more new wells will produce less and less oil. The author of the article says he expects production to hold up because they have a very large reserve base. (The vast majority of those new wells are being drilled into known reserves. But he also states that their reserves equal 22 times production. That is not very large at all. That means they are producing almost 5 percent of known reserves each year.

The article states that new projects will fall off next year. That is they will be sinking fewer wells that simply suck the oil out faster from their known reserves. It looks like, despite the author's optimism, that Russian oil production will fall off a cliff, if not next year then by 2011 anyway.

Ron P.

...and growing.

Therefore, next year there will be a lot fewer fields coming on stream; in the absence of new incentives to put more money to work to grow Russian oil production, it will naturally start declining, with organic decline rates of around 19% and growing.

That's even more then Cantarell, which has 16 point something, IIRC.

Right, that means that Russia must produce about 1,780,000 barrels of new oil each year just to stay even. With 5 to 6 thousand new wells that means each new well must produce over 300 barrels per day. However we know from looking at other countries, that the more wells you drill we get less and less production from each well.

So Russia, like the Red Queen, must run faster and faster just to stay in the same place. But they say they are slowing down next year. Therefore we can expect Russian oil production to start its long decline next year, and that decline rate will increase a little each year.

I believe that next year, 2010, will be the year that the world will stop denying peak oil.

Ron P.

I don't.

Even if the economy recovers enough that oil prices spike again...the excuse is going to be the recession. Not enough investment, due to the financial crisis.

I think the world may never stop denying peak oil. I always thought this was a possibility, especially with a "Greater Depression" scenario, and it seems more likely than ever now.

Oil production will never peak and Homo sapiens will never go extinct. Rainforest will regrow as fast as we can cut it & new species will evolve as fast as we drive old species extinct. Economic growth will never cease and next year will always be better than last. All you infinite growth deniers are fulluv shit.. :P

Watch your language, please.

And there aren't many people who think oil production will never peak. The deniers tend to argue that peak oil won't be for many more years, and/or that "the market" will provide a smooth transition to renewable energy sources.

And if it doesn't, the excuse will be "government intervention is preventing the free market from working."

Leanan are you seriously objecting to the expression "Full of ***"?

Yes, I am.

There are filters that automatically block pages that contain such words.

My apologies, I didn't mean to offend, however that particular expression while certainly vulgar is part of the English language and should certainly be allowed in adult conversation when used for conveying annoyance,disgust or just plain exasperation! MHO. Just curious is "TSHTF" acronym considered acceptable?

My apologies, I didn't mean to offend, however that particular expression while certainly vulgar is part of the English language and should certainly be allowed in adult conversation when used for conveying annoyance,disgust or just plain exasperation!

I disagree. I know blogs in general have a reputation for profanity, but we don't want to be that kind of blog. We want to maintain a somewhat professional tone.

We also want to keep this site accessible at workplaces, schools, and libraries. It's not an adults-only site. I've gotten complaints from people who were following an interesting discussion, then suddenly had the page disappear, because someone dropped an f-bomb.

Just curious is "TSHTF" acronym considered acceptable?

Yes. That won't get a page auto-blocked at your local library.

Ok, I won't belabor the point, let's just agree to disagree on this issue.
For the record,I'm not interested in promoting profanity. I just find that particular expression rather innocuous.

just use a * or 1 instead of the i. It's as easy as sh*t. Or sh1t.

Yep, it's all a matter of semantics and personal tastes...words have the power you give to them...Leanan is the TOD editor, so of course her judgment is final. Can't play baseball if yuse don't know the rules...

I have not seen Editor objection previously to Consumer's suggested alternate spellings for the word in question, and the Editor just said that abbreviations of words which may be offensive to some folks is acceptable, such as TSHTF. Good thing those people in libraries and kids can't figure those out...

Maybe we should invoke the spirit of George Carlin?

Bottom line: We shouldn't fall on our swords to defend our 'rights' (which don't exist on someone else's board)to use certain words if those words impede the conversation about energy and sustainability (TOD's reason for being)...especially if there are other expressions that do not offend but make the same points.

Edit: If only convincing folks that women should have no more than two children per lifetime were as easy to implement...

I didn't realize that you were trying to make TOD available to a public mixed/younger audience.
You won't have any more %$@# from me on anything that I post.

Porge, you are still allowed the occasional "HRYD", that's "highly refined yak dung", in case you were wondering ;-) Though it is a bit of a mouthful if you try to express a point of view by saying something like: "when the highly refined yak dung impinges upon the ventilator"...

A collective decision about 3 years ago. Turnover since then has faded the collective memory.

Best Hopes for Creative semi-profanity,


Yeah, I'm all in favor of Creative semi-profanity!
Dang unhinged Chiropteran coprolites...

I think you're missing the point that some people will be accessing this on machines, over networks or through proxies/ISPs that they don't control and can't nominate themselves as "not offended by adult swearing". As someone who could, if things go wrong for me, end up using library computers, I'd prefer more creative language expressing feelings of profane disgust.

So the term "cluster****," which is to the left on every TOD page every day, doesn't get hung up in those library filters?

The "uc" in the middle of the offending word is actually a gif image. Check the page source.

DD scored a bulls-eye with that one! So, its not that we don't want to offend children and those with special vocabulary needs, but we don't want to get blocked by the filters.

Actually makes sense, since I think the goal of this board is to achieve the widest possible dissemination of the energy and sustainability conversation.

For the portion of the population that have oil, machines and guns there will always be oil, and for those people, who also own the media, their world view depends on denying peak oil. A self-fulfilling prophesy of a sort.

But it relies on a shrinking percentage of haves in an increasingly invisible world of have nots. What media coverage is there of Lagos, for example?

On the other hand, I believe the Rulers of the World are running scared. They certainly have panicked in Pittsburg. U.S. Army troops to protect the citizens from Greenpeace high climbers? Is that a little disproportionate, or is it just taking more and more energy to suppress the truth?

I think the world may never stop denying peak oil.

That is a sweeping statement. Of course there will always be deniers. A lot of people still deny the heliocentric universe, and there are still a few nuts that would argue that the earth is flat. But by and large, just as a majority of science and MSM has come to accept AGW they will, in the very near future, they will also come to accept peak oil.

If non-OPEC production continues to drop, and it will, and OPEC cannot replace the decline even as prices rise, then you will see more and more people getting on the peak oil bandwagon. Just face it, there are probably twice as many people who accept peak oil now than there was five years ago. I believ we will, beginning next year, see a tide of sentiment, not just accepting peak oil but also believing that it is in the rear view mirror.

Of course there is always the possibility that the world slides into a Great Depression. If that happens then demand for oil will likely drop faster than production drops. That will give the deniers an ironclad excuse to keep denying. No demand, they will say, therefore lower production. They will argue that production could be ramped up if only there were more demand. If that happens then you are right, the world will collapse and only a tiny few will know that peak oil actually happened.

Ron P.

Let me put it this way: I think most of the world will continue to believe we peak oilers are kooks.

Of course there is always the possibility that the world slides into a Great Depression. If that happens then demand for oil will likely drop faster than production drops. That will give the deniers an ironclad excuse to keep denying. No demand, they will say, therefore lower production. They will argue that production could be ramped up if only there were more demand. If that happens then you are right, the world will collapse and only a tiny few will know that peak oil actually happened.

I think that will be true even if demand doesn't drop quite as fast as production. The financial crisis is a great excuse, not just for the lack of funding in oil production, but in switching to renewables.

There also the possibility of things "going nonlinear," as Stuart used to put it - wars or unrest that cut off supply lines. If that happens, nobody's going to be blaming peak oil. It's going to be all about "above ground factors."

I would agree-as far as I know, the American MSM will not admit that USA oil production has peaked, and that is way in the rear view mirror. With that example, it is likely that even 20-30 years after global peak the BS will continue to be spun by the MSM on this topic.

It doesn't matter what the world says; the world denies peak oil.

It matters what the world does and the world's economic actions embrace peak oil. What else would the world do?

If one's industrial/commercial infrastructure was obsolete, fractured, over- aged along with its workers and its workers under- or mis- educated, wouldn't trying to allocate resources by finance strategies appear reasonable?

Build a bigger stone head?

I am a long time reader & my first post here. I think its quite telling that now somebody has to come in and deny the peak oil. I think it will be denied since there is an opportunity to make huge sums of money till it becomes obvious. If there is a public knowledge of peak oil then it will start to get priced-in into the behavior. then the opportunity is lost.

Look at it this way, the current recession began in early 2008 & it took 'them' about 8 months to accept that economy is actually in a recession despite all the data staring them in face. With peak oil the data is quite obfuscated and/or non-existent in case of certain big players. No way in hell it will be accepted on MSM. The only way i could imagine peak oil being talked about on cnbc is when there is a short term inventory build-up and prices are about to crash.

I wanted to talked about a scenario I dreamt-up some time back as an litmus test for validity of anti-peak oil rhetoric. let us say for a few minute that KSA has ability to produce considerably more than 12mbd on a sustained basis. Now we all know the primary killer for airlines is the costs of fuel. so one can imagine airline business will become unprofitable at lets say $200/bl oil today (somebody can help with the accurate number but that's irrelevant at the moment). now we already know that a lot of non-OPEC countries are already peaked. so more burden is on OPEC & a maybe few others. now if the oil is plentiful then it would be extremely easy for the airlines owned by (non-peaked) oil producing states to survive & outlive others (based on the same logic as the Export land model). so a simple test in coming years would be all such oil intensive businesses will be owned by the oil rich states.

what says you?

I say your logic is flawed. Oil exporting nations do give their citizens a discount, to prevent civil unrest and a general uprising. However national owned airlines would be a different story. If Saudi owned an airline then they could only get a discount for flights originating in Saudi Arabia. If a flight originated in New York, then Saudi Airlines would have to buy New York priced oil.

Also, if oil is priced at $150 a barrel, why would Saudi choose to lose money selling jet fuel to their own airlines at say one third the world price? Why would they choose to lose money just for the sake of having their name on an airline? After all, if other airlines cannot make a profit buying world market priced jet fuel, then Saudi could not possibly make up the their lost income in ticket sales.

Also, flights originating only in oil exporting nations could not possibly take up the slack if all other airlines went out of business. Most flights, under such a scenario, would either originate in OPEC nations or Russia. All flights to and from the US to the Far East would be out of business. Ditto for all European flights except those originating in Oslo. But then Norway is in steep decline so that leaves Europe completely out of the picture except for Russia.

Ron P.

You are right about them not making it in todays competitive market but in future the flying would be much less common and not nearly as many airlines would survive (at least without govt subsidy). In a less crowded space (actually a near monopoly as other survivors would be same kind) making profit would not be hard.

There would be few other advantages of a business run by such state such as much better future price visibility hence lower operating costs. Money can be lost even if oil prices go down when you have existing future contracts. There are only fixed number of such jolts a business can take.

Far as having to buy oil at spot rates outside the country is concerned, that can be fixed by having a subsidy for the difference amount as long as it helps you maintain a near monopoly on a business.

The general idea is that more & more of oil centric services (that can be exported in non-energy intensive way hence the airline example) should move towards oil rich states if the peak oil is fake.

The above is good, and here's a couple more.

Air transport is 'mass produced' as demand drops less and less volume will exist for the parts, thus raising the price. Such cost effects would touch the oil rich just as much as the oil poor. At some point,

Air transport needs airports. IF other nations can't fly due to fuel - what incentive do they have to keep up the support infrastructure?


You are as usual right about say the Saudis not gaining anything from subsidizing thier own air lines.

You probably remember John D. Rockefeller in the early days and the "good sweating" he liked to apply to his competitors until they sold out to him or simply closed up shop.Well ,maybe you can't actually remember ;) but you know about it anyway.

The Saudis could sweat the other countries airlines and then make some good money for a few years probably ,given they would have little competition -but the airports wouldn't stay open very long under this scenario would they?

Or maybe a big departure tax might keep the show on the road for a little longer even then?

My guess is that commercial air travel is a dinosaur as sure as little green apples.

Exactly, if it gets priced in then the speculative bubbles will start to slow down. Particularly if we have good quantitative and transparent numbers on reserves. Yet, it seems like speculation is how people make their money, and by keeping it all mysterious, they can profit off of gullible and naively greedy investors who feed the cycles.

If the healthy oil-producers have a longer term strategy than the speculative approach they could eventually make a killing as you describe.

"and there are still a few nuts that would argue that the earth is flat."

There are lots of nuts. Exponential growth only makes sense on a flat Earth.

I believe that next year, 2010, will be the year that the world will stop denying peak oil.

I doubt that peak oil acceptance will arrive suddenly like with the flip of a switch. Instead, I imagine that acceptance will grow continually over time.

Wouldn't it be ironic if peak oil theory's acceptance is doomed to follow the same logistic growth pattern as oil production itself, though offset in time? If so, I'd say peak oil is in the "booming" exponential growth portion of the logistic function's curve.

It has been mentioned also in the article that the reason Russian production grew or at least held flat was due to a number of new projects being launched, since the lead time for a new oil project can easily take 5 years, I believe many of the projects that came online this year, where already planned in the 2004/2005/2006 period in an era of historically high prices (compared to prior years), it is natural to expect that Russian companies threw everything they can to launch those projects especially as oil prices kept rising in 2007 and most of 2008 in 2009 their efforts seems to have paid off; but as explained in the article few newer projects are coming online in 2010 and beyond as the recession and the collapse in oil prices naturally put the break on such new developments.

With an organic decline rate of 19%, it wouldn’t take much to witness a decline in production, the same way Russia surprised to the upside in 2009, I expect them to disappoint to the downside in 2010 and 2011, further more as the world economy recover, the Russian economy may restart cannibalizing more of its oil exports for internal consumption.


+0.4% more production means exports will decline if Russian domestic oil consumption rises, as it is likely to do.

ELM is a harsh master.


Russian oil production will fall off a cliff,

They have Abiotic oil - so no worries.

CO2 is being sucked into volcanic vents & reduced to hydrocarbon even as we speak! In fact, oil is being reformed even faster than we can burn it. Soon it will be gushing & oozing out of the ground & we'll have a real mess. So drill it, pump it, refine it, burn it as fast as we can, before we're all up to our knees in crude.

They have Abiotic oil - so no worries.

And that's another thing, once Russia goes into steep decline that will put an end to all those silly abiotic oil arguments. Jump ahead to 2011:

Rationalist: If Russia has abiotic oil then why is their oil production declining so fast?

Abiotic oil nut: Duh.....

Ron P.

Because Obama and the Liberal Democrats wouldn't let them drill !


Alan, I know Abiotic Oil Nuts are really stupid, but I doubt that even they are so stupid as to believe Obama and the Liberal Democrats can tell the Russians where they can drill oil wells in Russia.

I wrote "Duh..." because I could not think of aother reply the Abiotic Oil Nuts might come up with. Anyone else got an idea?

Ron P.

I think you are underestimating their nuttiness.

OK, maybe they'll settle for the 'It's the World Court, which is run by those Greenpeace Nazis' or something in there..

Its a Washington-Moscow Conspiracy to bring the world to its knees to enslave the globe & institute a One World Government.

I thought that was anabolic that Russia had;)

Russian oil production will fall off a cliff, if not next year then by 2011 anyway

When I first saw the Russian HL plot (in early 2006), I was shocked at what it suggested, i.e. that their mature basins were more than 80% depleted, but the real kicker was that if we used the data through 1984 to predict post-1984 cumulative production, then they, as of the 2004-2005 time frame, had still not made up for what they should have produced if they had not had the post-Soviet collapse in production, which is what led me to predict, in early 2006, that Russia would resume its production decline within one to two years. (This was of course all based on Sam's work.)

As the article noted, I think that the new Russian fields have helped, but I suspect that it is a temporary reprieve. Among other things, I suspect that the 3/6 Rule is in effect here, i.e. many regions tend to show relatively flat production for about three years following a production peak, followed by a steeper decline in the subsequent six years. This would put the accelerating Russian decline in late 2010 to early 2011.

Sam's projection for Russian total liquids production (from mature basins) follows. Data shown are through 2006. The 2007 and 2008 data points fell between his middle and high cases. The initial projected 10 year production rate of change is -5.1%/year plus or minus 2%.

FWIW, my extrapolation for Russia (actually FSU) intersects at the same point as Sam for the year 2010. It drops faster after that but I didn't supply expected additional discoveries to the model, which is what I think Sam did via HL.

This was all done (in late 2005) before I had a good idea of how to model extrapolated discoveries.

Western Siberia is a very mature region. About 70 percent of Russian oil is produced there. A typical well produces about 75 barrels per day, water cut averages 85%. There are few unexplored oil fields in the region.
Regional authorities expect the production to stagnate and begin to slowly decline in the coming decade. The focus of major Russian oil companies is shifting to Eastern Siberia, where gigabarrel-sized fields still can be found.

The focus of major Russian oil companies is shifting to Eastern Siberia, where gigabarrel-sized fields still can be found.

If you know this, then why haven't they found them already. What is your evidence? Are you just guessing?

How about Northern Canada where gigabarrel sized fields can still be found. How do I know this. Well hell, I just pulled it out of my ass. That is as good as your source is it not?

Ron P.

Eastern Siberia, where undeveloped gigabarrel-sized fields still can be found. Geologists knew about them for decades, but there were no infrastructure to develop them.
Now with the Eastern Siberia - Pacific Ocean pipeline, these fields can come on stream. For example, Vankor 3.5GB, Talakan 0.9GB, Verkhnechonskoye 1.5GB (discovered in 1978). Eastern part of the pipeline is still under construction, so right now they pump oil to the west.

Thanks, Syndroma. That's interesting stuff.

For example, Vankor 3.5GB, Talakan 0.9GB, Verkhnechonskoye 1.5GB (discovered in 1978).

That was awhile ago. I do not discount the possibilities of Eastern Siberia but let us not overestimate the possibilities. Eastern Siberia is unlikely to be anything more than an expense to Russian oil producers.
Russia's Eastern Siberian Oil Pipeline Becomes More Expensive

Meanwhile, some oil executives have argued that Eastern Siberian oil projects could become uneconomical under the current conditions. In December TNK-BP Vice-President Jonathan Kollek stated that the Verkhnechonsk field would become unprofitable with the current transit tariffs and oil prices. Apparently addressing these concerns, Transneft insisted that Russia's total crude oil production would go up in the coming years. Russia's crude oil production would be up by 62 million tons a year by 2012, Tokarev claimed, adding that the ESPO project was supposed to funnel surplus oil eastward (Interfax, RIA-Novosti, January 13). In 2008 Russia's total crude output amounted to 488 million tons or 0.7 percent down from the previous year.

They are banking on Russian oil production being up by 62 million tons by 2012. That works out to be 1.24 million barrels per day. That at a time when Russia's fields are declining by 19% per year. Eastern Siberia is a total crap shoot. They might find a lot of oil there but then what they found in 1978 may be it. At any rate the production is likely to be very small and very expensive.

My point is that we should not make gross statements about massive undiscovered fields in Eastern Siberia when one has absolutely no way of knowing that.

Ron P.

In December TNK-BP Vice-President Jonathan Kollek stated that the Verkhnechonsk field would become unprofitable with the current transit tariffs and oil prices.

That was the usual bickering about taxes and tariffs. On July 22, 2009 export tariff on oil from 13 Eastern Siberian fields was set at zero.

My point is that we should not make gross statements about massive undiscovered fields in Eastern Siberia when one has absolutely no way of knowing that.

I am of opinion that there are no undiscovered fields of significant size in Russia. But the exact number and volume of such discoveries is a state secret. To protect the secret, Russian government even tried to ban foreign managers from taking top positions in oil companies. So we cannot know for sure how much oil Eastern Siberia really has.

The Russian ANWR

So am I a double misanthrope - I believe in peak oil and I believe in fission breeders?

Somedays I pick some old promise by PR/marketing departments and see how they are coming along on that promise.

Todays hunt was on EEstor


"We have received a request to certify EEStor's product," said Priya L. Tabaddor, PhD, Global Energy Services, Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.


We can confirm that a full scale manufacturing line is up and running


We don’t know if any party has observed a fully working EESU prototype at this time. We certainly didn’t when we visited the facility.

And of course

Feb 2007:
Mr. Weir:
EEStor, Inc. will be in production late this year or in the first part of next year. Contact me then we will see what we can do for providing you a battery."

A blog tracking EEstor can be found here: http://bariumtitanate.blogspot.com/

I guess it's put up or shut up time for EEstor. They said they would prove their technology to the world by the end of this month. There's less than a week left.

Meh, its always 'put up or shut up' time for the 'too good to be true' BSers.

Now, EEStor has been reported to have test modules on their bencheswhich so no sign of failure after 1 million cycles.

They could have always shown them, no?

You should follow up on the good folks at WiTricity, who don't seem to have updated their website since 2007 or floated a system efficiency percentage anywhere in the press.

Steorn still insists that they'll be launching their technology commercially before the end of the year. Even though their much-vaunted scientific panel announced that the "Orbo" is a crock.

Yes, despite the public setbacks, Steorn continues to act with unusual confidence. (Unusual for a company that has suffered such major embarrassments)

Eric, EEStor’s product is supposed to consist of approximately 31,000 small capacitors in parallel. If they had a product that could be made they would only have to take about a dozen of those capacitors, place them into envelopes with at cover letter, and mail them to a few of their detractors, the press, and investors. Within a week they would be turning down offers of 50 to 100 million dollars for a piece of the action. If their product can’t be built then what they are doing is the right path, until their investors realize they are throwing good money after bad, and cut their losses.

Investment legend Julian Robertson says the recession may be temporally over. But he says it's almost Armageddon if the Chinese and Japanese stop buying our debt. He says they would not like to do this because it will be very bad for them as well but they may not have any choice. He says there are circumstances that may cause them to have to stop buying our debt. He says they may be forced to stop buying our bonds. And right now they are buying, almost exclusively, short term debt.

This is a very good CNBC video, broadcast yesterday.

Investment Legend Julian Robertson

Ron P.

A portion of my comments from the Sci. Amer. thread regarding this:

IMO, constrained energy supplies acted as a trigger for the financial firestorm, and they are now acting as an accelerant--like an aerial tanker dropping napalm on a forest fire, instead of fire retardant.

The bottom line for governments--from local to state to the federal level--is that we cannot afford our current level of government spending, and I think that we are headed at a pretty rapid clip toward the point at which the Fed has to choose whether or not to massively monetize federal debt. In the mean time, governments will try, probably unsuccessfully, to increase revenue by raising taxes. Ultimately, the choice on the federal level will come down to monetizing or massively cutting spending. I suspect that we will see all three--monetization; higher taxes and forced reductions in spending.

Of course, local & state governments are already being forced to make hard choices about spending.

Over on Gail's SciAm thread today, I made a comment about how increasing costs of oil exploration result in those taking a progressively bigger slice of the economic "pie", leaving less of the pie left for everything else. When you talk about governments at all levels being forced to make hard choices and to start cutting back on spending, that is exactly what I am talking about. Ditto with cutbacks in household budgets and increasingly frugal lifestyles.

I have been saying that the 21st century is going to be one long exercise in giving up things. This is what I mean. You haven't seen anything, yet.

So what do I think the FedGov is going to HAVE to give up over the next decade or so?

-The military budget will have to be cut initially by about half, with maybe another cut in half the decade after that. The US will have to disengage from the Eurasian land mass and fall back to a defensible maritime perimeter. The initial cutback will be: Navy 1/3, Air Force 1/2, Army 2/3. They will have no choice, the money simply won't be there to support a larger military establishment.

-For health care, all we will be able to afford is funding a network of public health clinics to provide a basic, minimal level of care for those who can't afford anything else (i.e., increasing numbers of us). This will get people out of the emergency rooms and end most hospital cost shifting. It will be pretty basic care, probably just one step up from "Where there is no Doctor", but that's about all that a country that is sinking to 3rd-world levels can afford. I don't think that the FedGov will be able to afford anything above and beyond this, people will be on their own for anything better.

-For Social Security, forget about benefits calculated on lifetime earnings. Everyone elegible for benefits will get a very minimum "support level" that is intended to just be barely enough to keep one from starvation and homelessness. The retirement age may be raised to 70. Look to increasingly see programs where people can get housing in group facilities and food in government cafeterias as an in-kind benefit in lieu of money.

-Forget about federal highway funds. By the end of the next decade, those will be history. By that time, there won't be any money to help mass transit or electrified rail transport, either. We're already too late!

- Ditto for most other Federal programs, whether they are considered "discretionary" or not. Just about everything is going to have to go by the wayside. Only if it can raise its own revenues through user fees will it still be in operation. Thus, for example, expect only those national parks to still be open to visitors that are able to bring in enough from entrance fees to cover their operating costs.

WNC,you,like most people,are looking at these problems through the distorting lens of the current econonomic/social paradigm and you are correct if that paradigm maintains it's sway.

However,I believe that the West is in for some sweeping changes,whether by violent revolution or,preferably,by some process emanating from civil society.

Either way there will be a lot of genuine pain as well as the pain of loss of expectations.

Oh, yes, quite possible. What I was outlining is what I suspect the FedGov will have to cut back to at an absolute minimum.

This all seems logical...probably inevitable

The military Industrial Complex is in for a rude awakening.

Wait till you see all those 'engineers' and 'program managers' for the defense firms go on unemployment...ever seen the movie 'Falling Down'?

Which brings us to Denninger's comments (as shown at the top). Trade imbalance and net foreign investment are two sides of the same coin. They have to be exactly equal, but they don't have to be at any particular level. We get both sorts of confusion about this. Denninger above says "We have this unavoidable trade imbalance, so the money (debt and equity) has to keep flowing in, driving up the national debt". Others say "We keep borrowing and people keep wanting to buy American assets and this drives up the American dollar which makes all those foreign goods/oil/etc too cheap to refuse". It's just a bit more complicated than these simplifications. There are opposing forces and they have to find a balance. Anybody worrying about imbalances is worrying about the wrong thing. There has definitely been a change of tone on this whole matter. When the Saudis took over their own oil revenue then (it is said) the Americans said "That's OK, as long as you use the money to buy American debt". The new message is, we have recently heard, that exporting countries are going to be encouraged to balance their exports with imports. I guess the gold-plated Rolls Royce business will go through the roof. Seriously: We've got to stop recycling petrodollars as asset bubbles, but I don't think they can import enough.

They are only two sides of the same coin as a bookkeeping entry. Running a continual trade deficit is borrowing from the future-China and Japan only "buy American assets" with the purpose of selling exports to the USA-eventually there will be no point as the USA import ability will be greatly diminished. Already China sells more to the EU than the USA? Why? Because the USA has allowed a "complicated" trade policy to suck its economy dry.

Since I have lived in a passive solar heated house for the last 20 years, seeing Denninger calling solar "pie-in-the-sky" and suggesting that we rely on "aquaculture biofuels" for energy does not give me confidence in his judgment on other issues.
I guess maybe Chicken Little is eventually correct, but knowing when is at least as important as knowing what.

It would be funny to see if that 'Pie-In-The-Sky Solar Magic' isn't powering the desk calculator that he makes his calculations with..

I've been regularly unimpressed by his cynical surety.. too bad others feel he should get so much play here, but heaven forbid we suggest any 'censorship'

Oil Futures Pull Back on Economic Concerns

The entire crude oil futures chain has pulled back to levels not seen since mid July. From the Energy Futures Databrowser:

Over the last three months the crude oil futures chain has wandered up and down within a $10-$15 wide channel with lows in the mid $60's for the front month contract and lows in the mid $80's for the Dec. 2017 contract. (I still can't believe people are trading out that far into the future!?!)

The swings in futures prices seem to correlate strongly with economic news:

economic signs of health ==> increased demand for oil ==> higher prices (and the inverse)

The correlation of futures prices with news of new discoveries, Cantarell's decline or other fundamentals seems weak-to-non-existent.

So oil futures still seem more like a game of poker with traders trying to outguess eachother's irrational behavior than an intelligent dialogue between well informed investors.

Surely we can beat them at their own game by taking the longer term perspective afforded by reviewing actual, historical data. In this case the data is the market data available in charts like the one above -- data describing the irrational behavior of traders.

So what irrational behavior would I predict for the futures markets?

I think the following is likely to happen before the end of 2009:

  1. the economy will not improve and economic news will begin to reflect this reality
  2. traders will bring the front month contract for crude oil below $60 (perhaps well below)
  3. long dated futures will be dragged down along with the front month

Just for fun I'll extend some predictions a little further out in the future:

  1. a declining global economy will lower demand
  2. stored oil may be dumped in a short squeeze lowering the price even further
  3. production will decrease to offset low prices
  4. investment in finding and producing new oil basins will decrease dramatically
  5. official spare production capacity numbers will grow while actual spare production capacity will decrease
  6. most traders will not immediately appreciate that lower investment now means higher prices later
  7. eventually(2 years? 3? 5?), increased consumption in China and other developing nations, combined with increased depletion in mature fields will lead to shortages and a spike in the price of oil and oil futures

So, if I were a gambling man, I would wait a few months for prices to drop and then buy long dated oil futures with the intention of holding them a few years until prices rebound.

But I'm not. This is just an exercise in observing and attempting to predict the madness of crowds at work on Wall Street.

Disclaimer -- I do not own or trade any energy stocks or futures.

So, if I were a gambling man, I would wait a few months for prices to drop and then buy long dated oil futures with the intention of holding them a few years until prices rebound.

This would seem to be a decent personal strategy to hedge against economic problems, except that the rules may change. What sort of rules may be implemented to force individuals to dump any long positions (futures or options) they have in oil? Seriously, if anyone has an idea on this, I'd be interested in hearing it.

I was burned last year by being in SKF when the government changed the rules in midstream. It should have paid off well, but the rule change kept it from happening.

Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy, which has a large regional office in Fort Worth, said late Thursday that it will raise $588 million in cash by selling half its natural gas pipelines in the Barnett Shale of North Texas, as well as properties in other petroleum basins.

So is this just a desperate company trying to raise cash? Or are they bailing out of Barnett because production has hit all time peak in that field and it is time to unload assets like pipelines?

My guess is the former. Chesapeake has been in the news a lot this year, due to its financial problems. They had a lot of debt, and when the price of natural gas fell, they were in big trouble. Some feared they would collapse.

I don't know the details of that deal but they are selling a very predictable cash flow by selling those pipelines. The future volume of existing NG production is very prdictable in this play. From what I'm told most pipeline buyers are only paying 18 months payout. I.E. the buyer will recover around $600 million in tarif fees over the next couple of years. After that it's all clean profit. I take the sale is just a sign of how badly Chesapeake needs income right now. I suspect it's needed to service debt.

Paul Craig Roberts: The Economy is a Lie, Too

Americans cannot get any truth out of their government about anything, the economy included. Americans are being driven into the ground economically, with one million school children now homeless, while Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke announces that the recession is over.

The spin that masquerades as news is becoming more delusional. Consumer spending is 70% of the US economy. It is the driving force, and it has been shut down. Except for the super rich, there has been no growth in consumer incomes in the 21st century. Statistician John Williams of shadowstats.com reports that real household income has never recovered its pre-2001 peak.

How did the "father of Reaganomics" come to this?

Actually, Paul Craig Roberts has become quite radicalized over the past few years. If there is such a thing as a "mainstream establishment dissident", he is it. He has also been quite critical of US imperialist, interventionist foreign policy. Since he actually knows a few things about economics, his endorsement of ShadoStats (which many of us here regularly refer to) is quite encouraging.

Oil price to rise on stronger demand: Goldman Sachs

Goldman said 2010-13 is likely to see a dramatic acceleration of non-OPEC production decline, with annual production losses of up to 1 million barrels per day.

We are seeing more and more such comments in the news every day. Even CNBC was commenting on this this morning. Mark Haines, responding to the Goldman Sachs story said (from memory here):

But I thought they had just found plenty of oil off the coast of Brazil.
Erin Burnett replied: But it will be a decade before they start to produce any oil there.
Haines: And there is that big find in the Gulf of Mexico.
Burnett: Again, a decade away.

I was unable to locate the story with google.news so I did not comment earlier. And I only looked up when I heard the Haines comment and completely missed earlier comments on the story so I did not even know what to search for on google.news. Thanks Pollux for the link.

By next year, or at least by 2011, peak oil will be accepted by most of the people who follow the oil market, like the talking heads on CNBC, with the possible exception of Larry Kudlow and Dennis Kneale. ;-) And after that it will be only a couple of years before is is accepted by a majority of the population.

Ron P.

1 million a day! That will be a catastrophe.

1 million barrels per day per year. That is about a 2.5 percent decline. Not all that bad but that is likely to increase by at least one half percent per year, probably greater.

Ron P.

Pollux -- As Ron and a few others here already know my new company exists because of such expectations. My owner has made billions in the commododity and equity markets. He created our company this summer with the intent to spend $300 million with the drill bit over the next several years. We're following the simple commodity model: buy low...sell high. Is he making a smart bet? Time will tell but he does seem to be a good guesser. He liquidated all assets prior to the collapse last year. Now, with expectation of hyperinflation kicking in in 4 or 5 years he's back to picking up any and all commodities...especially oil/NG. As I'm throwing the remainder of my career into the pot I'm betting he is as smart as history would indicate. I have no doubt of the validity of our biz plan.


Can you get me in on the janitorial staff at company hq?

I believe I can work my way up from there;)

Sorry Rockman,

Downfall of the dollar?

Absolute nonsense, we're in a deep recession and demand for money is lousy.

Wars cause inflation and I would guess Obama's trying to wrap up Bush-Cheney's Excellent Adventure.

You think the US couldn't pay down it's 13 trillion dollar debt?

All this talk is from speculators and hedgers who are staring at the hangman's noose once the politicians really start regulating them(starting with their precious Swiss bank accounts).

We are entering a period of demand contraction in a world of surplus everything.

Peak oil won't stimulate demand; it will stimulate energy conservation.

That's why they have horse races maj. My guy is willimg to risk $300 million....how much do you want to cover of that bet? But I do agree with you about demand contraction but the bet here is that there will be a period 5 or 6 years out that supply contraction will will exceed demand contraction for a while. Of course the real big win for us is if the eventual resource wars kick in during that time frame. Great for us...not so much for the weak of the world though.

I object to the frequent publicity theoildrum.com has been providing to Denninger and his site. His forums are a cesspool of reactionary nonsense with healthy sprinklings of racial hatred and white victimhood. He silences opposing opinions by banning anyone who dissents, which in my opinion is not only dishonorable internet behavior but also the equivalent of endorsing the bountiful racist and classist garbage that clutter the site.

And before the excuse is offered that Denninger's posts are the feature, not the forum, I would like to point out that Denninger has made numerous breathless predictions about how this or that event portended some sort of imminent catastrophic event, and which somehow failed to pass regardless of the amount of bolding and italicizing he utilized in formatting his prognostications.

I understand the practice of staying appraised of differing opinions. What I do not understand is promoting political movements that espouse class and racial hatred. Don't fool yourself; Denninger is a spokesperson for a diffuse but real political movement. I tried to keep an open mind on Denninger but once I observed how he polices his forums, it became apparent to me that we are not dealing with an honorable adversary. He will ride that wave of hatred as far as he can.

Many of us apply a filter in our own brains to things like Denninger. Just because he quotes some interesting facts and figures in support of an opinion that doesn't quite add up, that doesn't mean that therefore those interesting facts and figures are no good. We can appreciate his digging those up for us while reserving for ourselves the challenge of figuring out what they really mean.

When it comes to reading things on the internet, discerning the difference between fact and opinion is skill # 1. Discerning whether or not claimed facts are actually reliable is skill #2.

who would you suggest as someone to listen to ?

Peter Schiff .. running for congress ??


Also tech-ticker review of the week ...


I'm with WNC on this one. Denninger digs up a lot of data that I don't have the time or interest to track down, and generally summarizes it quite well. I don't recall ever seeing anything racist in his postings, and a bit of hyperbole is easy to forgive. I personally prefer the Dennigner political bias over that of TAE, but both are great sites.

All predictions of imminent collapse are overblown, because people in general are so resourceful and (mostly) optimistic. A lot of things go on way beyond the point at which they no longer make any sense.

How do you see Denninger as espousing racial hatred? Seems to me he tries to align with a fairly typical middle-class view, more of the lower-middle working class than upper-middle investment class, really. I haven't read the comments though, so maybe I'm missing something.

Wide: I object to the censorship you are advocating using the racist slur against Karl Denninger-if you are going to make such disgusting claims, back them up with facts.

If you read my post again more carefully you'll see that I did not attribute racist remarks directly to him.

But you can find plenty of them by members of his own private forum, which is publicly visible. The members who do things like refer to the president as "Obongo" or other racist slurs are free to continue posting. Contrast that with my experience there, where I was banned for pointing out the political pedigree of the organizing figures behind the supposedly spontaneous "teabagger" movement.

It's clear enough for me. Racist slurs about the President of the US? Fine by Denninger. Scoring political points that are inconvenient for the nascent "teabagger" party? You're banned. Anyone who ever follows the forums there should immediately notice the complete lack of any sort of moderating alternate opinions. It's the party line and nothing else. From my own I experience I can assure you that this is by design and not by self-selection.

Denninger is a political activist and he's content to let xenophobes and racists join the party on his forum. If he wanted to claim it was an outlet for free speech that would be one thing, but his banning of posters who question the teabagger party line reveals that free speech has nothing to do with his agenda.

As someone who's mentioned Denninger recently, I'll just point out that it wasn't an endorsement in any way. (I only attributed him rather than linking directly to the news article he cited because, having become aware of it through him it seemed dishonest to avoid linking via his site because of the distaste for his site as a whole that I partly share.)

Regarding Denninger's accuracy, he seems to me to be someone who has decided on his theory and is now selecting the data that supports his thesis. (I'm not saying that I think his theory is likely to be wrong, just that I wouldn't rely upon him to accurately evaluate contrary evidence.) However, as pointed out above, he does give me both an potentially interesting subset of data to figure out my own view on the global economy (particularly since I'm trying to figure out how what happens in America will affect me in the UK), and he and the forum comments gives also an insight into what a particular subset of American society is thinking, and it's a worrying view (and would be even more so if I was a woman). (I'll freely admit there are plenty of people in the UK who view other people in ways that are just as disturbing.)

Finally, I'll say that I think it's better to mention him when appropriate and rely upon readers to form their own views than the alternatives.

I have read Denninger's site a lot but not the forum. Your claim is that his site is distasteful apparently because it is vaguely sexist and the other guy says it is racist. Whenever I have read his site, his focus is entirely on economics-I don't recall him veering off into racist or sexist commentary (ever).

If you read my original post again more carefully you will notice that I clearly addressed why the forum matters.

Are we not to judge men by the company they keep?

I guess in a sense I agree with your final sentence. However in my opinion the frequency of Denninger links from the Drumbeat combined with the lack of thorough discussion of the uglier side of his community lead to a situation where theoildrum.com is effectively doing nothing but furthering his political agenda by promoting it.

So I'm satisfied to at least have my concerns aired, and I hope that anyone here who has been taking his essays at face value will now look a little harder at what they're dealing with.

While the analysis is interesting in a micro way,
He, and his followers, are morally bankrupt.

My apologies if this has been posted before:

Marc Faber: Capitalistic System Will Collapse, "Future Will Be A Total Disaster" (VIDEO)

Keep in mind this is coming from a man who writes something called "The Gloom Boom & Doom Report." But Faber's analysis, however macabre, is widely followed. He upheld his prediction in an interview with Yahoo's Tech Ticker, arguing that, with the government's stimulus package, "the problems haven't been solved, but they've been postponed."

Faber added that he has a "high confidence prediction" that "total collapse will come." Yikes.

Ron P.

Build a Better Bulb for a $10 Million Prize

The ubiquitous but highly inefficient 60-watt light bulb badly needs a makeover. And it could be worth millions in government prize money — and more in government contracts — to the first company that figures out how to do it.

Right now, that company could be Philips, the Dutch electronics giant. The company announced on Thursday that it had submitted the first entry for the L Prize, an Energy Department contest that will award up to $10 million to the first person or group to create a new energy-sipping version of the most popular type of light bulb used in America.

See: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/25/technology/25bulb.html?em


Federal loan guarantees for new nuclear power plant construction should be at least doubled to allow construction of four to five additional plants, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said late Thursday.

Like bailing out banks, its such a good idea that it needs government support.

OTOH 13 Billion dollars (from memory) of taxpayer money was given to Goldman-using this benchmark, you could justify more than a few nuclear plants constructed with taxpayer guarantees.

You've not been paying attention.

Ya see, if the market decides something is a good idea, then it happens without government support.

Ya see, if the market decides something is a good idea, then it happens without government support.

Hmmm... I thought the current modus operandi for the Masters of the Universe (what passes for "capitalism" these days) goes something like this:

1. Make up some "creative" new debt product --like negatively amortizing option-ARMs for homeless people and con-artists.
2. Market said toxic debt products on a massive scale. Pay themselves generous bonuses for a job well done.
3. Multiply that debt 50x over by instituting a global derivatives scheme, where CDOs are laddered on top of MBSs, on top of those original toxic assets --perpetual GROWTH machine!
4. Pay themselves even LARGER bonuses for inventing all these brilliant derivatives schemes.
5. Watch global markets implode when Peak Debt finally arrives, and consumers cannot even service the debt they already have.
6. Go begging to corrupt pols and central bankster to bail them out via bankrupt taxpayers. Refuse to return any ill gotten loot, and stonewall any attempts at real reform by the few pols brave (crazy?) enough to even try.
7. Wash, rinse, repeat.

The week 37 flu report from the CDC (still climbing):


Don't look at the Texas chart whatever you do. Looks like a cliff wall (going up).

Mixed info in this week's update. Only a slight increase in US ili rate over-all but remember that's a noisy figure as it just indicates the percentage of people presenting ili like symptoms and is not calibrated for actual genuine positives. Still if it is going to fizzle it has to start doing it now.

But now the bad news. US deaths and hospital admissions soared last week.


Current week
To allow jurisdictions to implement the new case definition, counts were reset to zero on August 30, 2009. From August 30-September 19, 2009, 10,082 hospitalizations and 936 deaths associated with influenza virus infection or based on syndromic surveillance for influenza and pneumonia, were reported to CDC.

Last week
To allow jurisdictions to implement the new case definition, counts were reset to zero on August 30, 2009. From August 30-September 12, 2009 4,569 hospitalizations and 364 deaths associated with influenza virus infection, or based on syndromic surveillance for influenza and pneumonia, were reported to CDC.

2 weeks ago
For week 35 (August 30-September 5, 2009) 1,380 hospitalizations and 196 deaths associated with influenza virus infection, or based on syndromic surveillance for influenza and pneumonia, were reported to CDC.

So there were 5,513 hospital admissions and 572 deaths recorded in the US last week.

Another bank down, I believ, hitting the FDIC for $892M. With 'assets' of only $2B that's a pretty good loss. The FDIC is really letting things go too long.


I'll believe it when it happens:


G-20 agree to end fossil fuel subsidies at Obama's urging.

Evidently the Obama Administration, knowing that increasing taxes on fossil fuels especially gasoline is politically impossible, is going to try an attack on another flank.

It's a clever plan. The only problem is that these subsidies have powerful political backers with money. And not all the subsidies are in law or the tax code. The most obvious being wars for oil security.

And you can be sure that when the Republican Spinmeisters grasp what he is proposing, it will be spun as something very harmful which it is short term. But long term subsidizing fossil fuels makes no sense. All it does is increase their use and advance the date when depletion reaches the point that it really hurts.

I have to give the Administration credit for taking this approach though. Increasing gas taxes has been discussed and rejected many times because of the likely outcry by consumers. This approach can be carried out under the radar and piecemeal. Who is going to complain or even notice if the oil depletion allowance is reduced/eliminated or if royalty payments are increased to the world level?

Only those that are direct beneficiaries of course. The problem is they have lots of money and know how to spend it on lobbyists and campaign contributions. There are usually a few senators on key committees just as in the case of health care reform that can block any change.

It's a good approach, but I don't see it passing Congress any time soon.

Cantarell production declined slightly in August.

My monthly numbers:
1243000 1.2008
1192000 2.2008
1110000 3.2008
1074000 4.2008
1038000 5.2008
1017000 6.2008
1010000 7.2008
988100 8.2008
940020 9.2008
901796 10.2008
862060 11.2008
811000 12.2008
772000 1.2009
744778 2.2009
754063 3.2009
713036 4.2009
692925 5.2009
658700 6.2009
588210 7.2009
585394 8.2009

The actual numbers can be found here:

Pemex Petroleum Statistics

The actual C+C numbers were down by 19,000 barrels per day. Not much but 2,542,000 (C+C) barrels per day is the second lowest monthly production since Mexico peaked.

Ron P.

The Cantarell year over year decline was 41% from August 08 to August 09. I think that the decline rate is high, and certainly not "slight".

I'm sure, Maltose had in mind month over month decline.

Hello TODers,

Very little details in Leanan's DB toplink: "China discovers combustible ice in land-based regions".
..Preliminary research shows that the prospective volume of natural gas hydrate in the country's frozen earth regions is estimated to reach 35 billion tonnes of oil equivalent.
I would imagine that digging up the tundra for mining like tarsands would create a huge enviro-mess. Even drill platforms sending out a bunch of horizontals to collect the released gas from the melted ice would be better, but it still might have a bad impact on the area ecology.

Hello TODers,

This essay does a good job of arguing the Hubbert Curve won't be symmetrical, but will be instead, a shark-fin or a cliff. I encourage you to read the weblink, not my teaser segments below:

The Peak Oil Downside Will Be Steeper Than The Upside
By Charles Cresson Wood

..These symmetrical bell shaped curves are however lulling us into an attitude of complacency, leading us to believe that we have decades to move off of oil. This is just not so, and this article discusses five serious reasons why this erroneous perception needs to promptly be abandoned.

..In other words, the bell shaped curve will in reality look more like a wave moving to the right (through time), and the wave is just about to come crashing down.

..As these five points argue, the day of reckoning is a lot sooner than many of us would like it to be. We do not have decades to transition to alternative energy. It appears as though we have only a few years.
Reminds me of my Rogue Wave Theory helping to lead us to [19 @ '19].

I would like to see the author Wood vs Yergin in a debate. Shark-fin versus Undulating Plateau.

IMO, if the author wanted to add a Sixth Reason: He could have also mentioned the growing use of ESPs and jetpumps burning more energy to accelerate extraction through Artificial Lift. This too helps the top portion of the Hubbert Curve for only a short while, but will make the downside steeper and/or help thin out the chance of a fat-tail.

Even though he doesn't mention it specifically, all that falls under "Advanced Technology" just like he doesn't mention horizontal wells specifically. To me a horizontal well along the top of the reservoir is almost like a switch that will turn off when the water reaches the perforations.

Thanks for the link to impressive CNN/Time photos of collapsing Detroit. A few urban pioneers have returned, but weather damage makes irretrievable l9th century elegant and dignified homes and buildings.

My copies of Home from Nowhere and The Geography of Nowhere have gone from the shelf, but I recall Kunstler beat them to it on the subject of dying sprawling Detroit. Doesn't matter.

Also much reference to Detroit on TOD.

The writer is correct, though, in that Detroit us poised to be a growing, vibrant city again if the right choices are made. It has huge numbers of lots that are either empty or have dilapidated buildings on them. These are places that can be used for food production and/or greenways and/or energy production and/or new forms of building, such as straw bale, earth sheltered, etc. The production capacity of the area must be huge and could be a source of either metal to recycle or places to produce renewable products, etc.

There are a number of organizations trying to rebuild the city. Some understand what appears to be coming, others are just trying to do good. If the city doesn't rot away entirely, there's a chance the water supply, above-mentioned capacity and norther location will make it a place people might start moving to. It really could be the first truly green city of a million or more.

My wife and I are currently in Detroit seeing what we might do to help rebuild/revitalize the city.

All should feel free to E-mail me if you'd like to know what we're thinking of doing.