Drumbeat: October 15, 2009

Sellers on the spot ahead of gas war

A great European war is about to begin. The heart of the conflict will be in Germany, Austria, Hungary and Italy. There will be battles in the North Sea, a strike from North Africa at Italy’s boot and into the South of France. The final struggle could see a cross-Channel invasion by Britain of France and the Benelux countries.

This is a war for natural gas, a struggle for control of the market in this vital fuel.

It is not, though, a fight over market share but something more fundamental: it is about control over the pricing mechanism, the way in which gas is bought and sold in Europe. It is an ideological conflict between promoters of free markets and others who support the stability of a managed price. It is also about the potential profits and losses at stake in $30 billion (£19 billion) worth of unwanted gas.

The gas price has collapsed worldwide. It has been beaten down by recession and at the same time undermined by new discoveries in America and new supplies of sea-borne liquefied natural gas from the Gulf.

Sinopec Group Facing ‘Intense’ Rivalry for Energy Assets Abroad

(Bloomberg) -- China Petrochemical Corp., Asia’s biggest oil refiner, said the race for overseas energy assets is getting tough as companies scramble to acquire resources.

“The competition is intense,” Su Shulin, president of the state-owned company known as Sinopec Group, said in an interview in Beijing yesterday. “There are opportunities in overseas acquisitions, but there are also many people looking at them,” he said, without identifying where it is seeking assets.

China, the world’s second-largest oil consumer, joins South Korea, Japan and India in their quest to secure overseas resources to drive their economies. Sinopec Group’s domestic rivals, including state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. and China National Offshore Oil Corp., are also seeking stakes in oil and gas fields in Africa and Latin America, backed by the government’s $2.1 trillion in currency reserves.

Nigerian president says amnesty has led to peace

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) -- Nigeria's president said an amnesty granted to militants over the past two months in the oil-rich Niger Delta has restored peace to the region.

The government says more than 8,000 militants have disarmed and taken the amnesty offer since it began in August.

Petrobras Workers Strike Over Pay Impasse, Union Says

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA workers representing about one-fourth of the state-controlled oil producer’s refinery employees went on strike today after failing to reach an agreement on a pay increase, a union official said.

Yemen starts LNG production

SANAA (AFP) – Yemen started on Thursday to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG) at its plant in Balhaf on the Gulf of Aden, the company Yemen LNG announced.

The company, whose main shareholder is France's Total with 39.6 percent, said it would launch exports "in the few coming weeks" from its terminal in Balhaf.

US headed for massive decline in carbon emissions

For years now, many members of Congress have insisted that cutting carbon emissions was difficult, if not impossible. It is not. During the two years since 2007, carbon emissions have dropped 9 percent. While part of this drop is from the recession, part of it is also from efficiency gains and from replacing coal with natural gas, wind, solar, and geothermal energy.

The U.S. has ended a century of rising carbon emissions and has now entered a new energy era, one of declining emissions. Peak carbon is now history. What had appeared to be hopelessly difficult is happening at amazing speed.

For a country where oil and coal use have been growing for more than a century, the fall since 2007 is startling. In 2008, oil use dropped 5 percent, coal 1 percent, and carbon emissions by 3 percent. Estimates for 2009, based on U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) data for the first nine months, show oil use down by another 5 percent. Coal is set to fall by 10 percent. Carbon emissions from burning all fossil fuels dropped 9 percent over the two years.

More than 1 billion going hungry, U.N. says

(CNN) -- The global economic crisis has caused a spike in world hunger that has left more than a billion undernourished, United Nations agencies said in a new report.

"It is unacceptable in the 21st century that almost one in six of the world's population is now going hungry," said Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Programme.

Bloggers unite on climate change

LONDON, England (CNN) -- It is being billed as the largest-ever social change event on the Web and one which its organizers believe will unite the digital world in a wider conversation about climate change.

The third annual Blog Action Day is bringing together thousands of bloggers to discuss the same issue on the same day.

Chevy Volt: A lot of unanswered questions

My comments focused on speculation about the performance of the Volt after the batteries discharge and the range-extending gasoline engine kicks in.

Sine the Volt weighs close to 4,000 pounds, according to a knowledgeable source, and the engine only displaces 1.4 liters, some have guessed the Volt would be a slacker under gasoline power.

"Absolutely incorrect," says a GM spokesperson. "There is no degradation in the Volt's performance after the battery has reached its lower state of charge. The engine-generator provides sufficient power to propel the vehicle."

Cyclists to air their grievances

In Arizona, a driver who hits and kills a cyclist faces a $1,000 fine. It's the same in South Carolina. In Louisiana, it's $250.

Those states along with 17 others have safe passing laws. The Lone Star State does not and has no set penalty.

Now that three people, including a San Antonio couple, were struck and killed within a week of each other while bicycling legally, cyclists again are asking what can be done so all road users can travel safely.

Will e-bikes be the new 'commuter cool'?

(CNN) -- Keith Felch is admittedly a big guy, but more than a few super-fit cyclists in Southern California have been left wondering how that dude just went flying by.

And then his wife, Mary, comes motoring past.

"They stare, like how can a girl go past me," she says, laughing. It takes the other riders a few seconds but then they figure it out.

They have electric motors.

Is Putin losing gas leverage?: Russian output is falling, while shale gas is providing new competition

Vladimir Putin is on a sales binge. The Russian Prime Minister is eager to clinch long-term gas contracts with Russia's neighbours east and west. But can he deliver?

Putin was in Beijing this week to try further advance the negotiations over a major gas deal. But the two sides still can't agree on the key issues of pricing and sourcing -- the Chinese are intent on locking up secure fields.

Edward Burtynsky's Oil

A decade of photographs exploring the impact of oil from the acclaimed Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky. The collection will be on display at Washington D.C.'s Corcoran Gallery through Dec. 13.

Oil demand has peaked in the developed world, but gas may still be on the rise

One of these sources is widely expected to be natural gas. Which is why energy companies continue to buy acreage despite the drop in prices from last year. New technology and expertise has increased estimates of supplies in the US from 30 years worth to 100 years worth, and led producers to band together and lobby Congress for natural gas to have a role in any energy bill that becomes law. They note that not only is it plentiful, but the least carbon intensive of the fossil fuels, and could be used as a transportation fuel.

Indeed, there is so much optimism in the sector that drilling has been climbing steadily in recent weeks. But the short term outlook for natural gas is really unclear. Credit Suisse Equity Research notes in a new report it could go either way, outlining 10 bull and 10 bear arguments for 2010 natural gas.

Musings: Deciphering Current Natural Gas Market Data

In the last six weeks natural gas futures prices have jumped from a modern day low to nearly $5 per thousand cubic foot (Mcf) as commodity traders and investors started to cover their short positions in this fuel as the days moved closer to the beginning of the winter heating season. The jump in the gas price ends what has been an extended price slide that started back in summer of 2008 when prices were in excess of $13 per Mcf and early signs of the developing global recession emerged.

Iraq and Turkey set for gas deal

Turkey and Iraq are poised to sign an agreement which will see Iraqi natural gas flow to Europe via Turkey, as the two neighbours look to expand energy and security ties, Turkish officials said.

Turkmenistan did not overstate gas reserves

ALMATY - A British auditing firm on Thursday rejected claims made by Russian media this week that energy-rich Turkmenistan massively overstated the size of reserves at a key gas field.

Sechin's energy enigma

MOSCOW - The announcement on Tuesday of Russia's agreement in principle to supply up to 70 billion cubic meters per annum of natural gas by pipeline to China is a bit like pornography - it provides a low-cost alternative to the real thing, not to mention the chance to fantasize immediately about a future pleasure that isn't likely to materialize or to be affordable if it does.

Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, in Beijing this week with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, needs to show in the present that his command of Russia's energy concessions is capable of delivering, at some time in the future, cash into the counting-house.

US House OKs Bill Targeting Cos Invested in Iran Energy Sector

The U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill authorizing state and local governments to divest from companies doing business in Iran's energy sector.

By a 414-6 vote, the House passed the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act, a censure of firms such as StatoilHydro ASA (STO), Total SA (TOT) and Vitol Holdings BV, which continue to conduct energy business with the Middle-Eastern nation.

Dozens die in wave of terror attacks in Pakistan

LAHORE, Pakistan - Teams of gunmen launched coordinated attacks on three law enforcement facilities in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore and car bombs hit two other cities Thursday, killing a total of 39 people in an escalating wave of anti-government violence.

The bloodshed, aimed at scuttling a planned offensive into the Taliban heartland near the Afghan border, highlights the Islamist militants' ability to carry out sophisticated strikes on heavily fortified facilities and exposes the failure of the intelligence agencies to adequately infiltrate the extremist cells.

Gas shortage due to Shell refinery repairs

A longer than expected maintenance at a Shell refinery has resulted in another gasoline shortage at retail stations in Alberta.

The company's own stations, as well as others supplied by Shell, began running out of gas and diesel over the long weekend.

The Philippines: Mikey seeks oil price control in typhoon-hit areas

MANILA - Presidential son and House committee on energy chairman Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo is seeking to "manage" oil prices in calamity stricken areas.

Pampanga Rep. Arroyo made the proposal during Thursday's Legislative and Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC), a regular meeting between the executive and legislative branches to synchronize their priorities.

"Of course I stated that (oil price control) during times of crisis. Though we are in a deregulated industry, perhaps there would be a need to create mechanisms to prevent distributors, oil companies from exploiting the situation, kasi they might take advantage of it by bringing up the price," he said.

Bangladesh: For urgent extraction of coal

THE State Minister for Power and Energy said on Tuesday that generation of electricity from diesel and furnace oil is very costly. He termed coal as the only option for generating electricity at low costs and emphasised the need for its immediate extraction. Power generation has reached a point where the economy is seriously hampered for shortage of electricity by about 1,500 megawatts. Production falters in many industries where gas is either a fuel or a raw material or both. Gas supply to some sectors has to be suspended to meet demands of others. The crisis is such that some big investment proposals for gas-based industries have been deferred for at least three years. This happens due to short supply of natural gas that fuels about 80 percent of power generation. The existing recoverable gas reserve is estimated to last a few years.

Brumby warned of power shortage

Victoria could face widespread power disruptions due to the closure of two of its four brown coal power stations in the next decade as Australia reduces its greenhouse gas emissions, according to high-level advice before the State Government.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation says coal plant is illegal

NORFOLK - For nearly a year, environmentalists have argued that a coal-fired power plant in Surry County would pollute the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Environmentalists stuck with that assertion Wednesday but added a new wrinkle: the plant, they say, would violate federal clean air laws and therefore is not lawful.

Saudi Arabia's Money-for-No-Oil Scheme Dubbed a Real Knee-Slapper

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia has a bold new plan to curb greenhouse gases: pay them for the right to stop using so much oil. As The New York Times reports, the Saudis have proposed that countries looking to reduce oil consumption fork over cash as compensation to oil producers. The measure would secure Saudi Arabia's cooperation on climate talks in Copenhagen and would allegedly give the country the kick in the pants it needs to diversify its economy. But the idea of paying Saudi Arabia for oil that's not being used has sparked ridicule, scorn and bemusement across the web. Here are the most savory takes.

‘Striving for No’ in Climate Talks

In doing my reporting for the story in The New York Times today on Saudi Arabia’s latest maneuvers in climate treaty talks (they are reviving longstanding demands for compensation for lost oil revenue), I found an interesting paper on the oil kingdom’s involvement in climate talks by Joanna Depledge, a research fellow at Cambridge University focusing on climate negotiations.

The paper, “Striving for No: Saudi Arabia in the Climate Change Regime,” was published last November in the journal Global Environmental Politics. It is the most comprehensive analysis I’ve seen of the role that Saudi Arabia and other oil exporters have played through two decades of global climate diplomacy. Dr. Depledge’s conclusion is that this is a classic case of parties – in this case Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich states – getting involved in a process primarily to obstruct it. She concludes by noting hints that the oil powers appear to be shifting these days to a more constructive role.

Environmentalist Rex Weyler calls on Vancouver to "localize"

Imagine a landmass 390 times the size of the city of Vancouver. That’s the “biocapacity” required to sustain Vancouver’s ecological footprint, according to local environmentalist Rex Weyler.

The Greenpeace International cofounder is set to give a presentation to city council on Tuesday (October 20) calling for the city to make a dramatic shift toward the local production of food and energy, and to put public transit over “car culture”.

Jan Lundberg: U.S. Peak Oil Conference Conflicted Amidst The Oil Recession

Upon the first global recession influenced by the peaking of oil extraction and record high prices, the question for "peak oilers" arises: does peak oil and energy decline mean great profits for modernizing industry, or is peak oil the beginning of huge changes in lifestyle toward sustainability after societal collapse?

What Bill McKibben learned from the gay rights march

If the mainstream media is going to largely ignore a mass demonstration on the national mall—such as Sunday’s National Equality March for gay rights—public demonstrations might as well be small, numerous, and spread all over, says 350.org founder Bill McKibben.

Also, they should be beautiful.

What Doubt is There About the Science Behind Global Warming?

Climate change is an extremely complex issue, so there will always be room for people with agendas to raise questions and doubts. Yet the basic mechanism of global warming has been well understood for a century, and the best available knowledge has pointed to a sufficiently clear conclusion for more than a decade now. Humans are affecting the climate.

Use of Forests as Carbon Offsets Fails to Impress In First Big Trial

"Including offsets from tropical forests in a climate bill is a key to affordability," said Nigel Purvis, executive director of the bipartisan Commission on Climate and Tropical Forests. "It would be geopolitically and economically foolish for us to push back on that."

But a report Greenpeace will release Thursday questions the premise of using forest conservation overseas to compensate for U.S. pollution, noting that Noel Kempff envisioned keeping 55 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere over 30 years but has lowered that expectation to 5.8 million. The revised estimates do not take into account that logging may have moved to areas to the north, east and southwest of the project. And the report notes that the project's three corporate underwriters -- American Electric Power, BP America and PacifiCorp -- overestimated how much carbon the project kept from entering the atmosphere, telling the EPA it accounted for 7.4 million metric tons from 1997 to 2004.

U.S. solar firms' 3Q accounting may get hard look

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Solar companies are likely to report their brightest earnings in a year as the industry emerges from a brutal downturn, but analysts warn aggressive accounting may cast a shadow on the sector's outlook.

The nascent industry has seen its profit margins and sales growth erode in the past 12 months as a glut of supply and a dearth of financing in the industry stunted the business, which had been expanding by more than 40 percent per year.

Nuke fusion 'could solve energy crisis'

NUCLEAR fusion could help solve the world's energy crisis and the Australian government should commit to greater research in the area.

Leading nuclear physicist Barry Green said nuclear fusion had the potential to produce enormous amounts of clean and affordable energy from an almost unlimited fuel base.

"If harnessed on earth, fusion energy would provide millions of years of base-load energy, with zero greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

Curbing Climate Change by Sealing Gas Leaks

“This for me is an absolute no-brainer, even more so than putting in those compact fluorescent bulbs in your house,” said Al Armendariz, an engineer at Southern Methodist University who studies pollutants from oil and gas fields.

Acting quickly to stanch the loss of methane could substantially cut warming in the short run, even as countries tackle the tougher challenge of cutting the dominant greenhouse emission, carbon dioxide, studies by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggest.

Unlike carbon dioxide, which can remain in the atmosphere a century or more once released, methane persists in the air for about 10 years. So aggressively reining in emissions now would mean that far less of the gas would be warming the earth in a decade or so.

Oil jumps to fresh 1-year high above $75

VIENNA – Oil prices reached a fresh one-year high above $75 a barrel Thursday, boosted by a weaker U.S. dollar and growing investor optimism about an economic recovery.

A slight drop in U.S. inventories — analysts had expected an increase — also supported prices.

Total Keeps French Refining Units Shut Amid Slump

(Bloomberg) -- Total SA, Europe’s largest refiner, said it will keep its Flanders plant and a unit at its Gonfreville facility in France closed after profit from turning a barrel of crude oil into fuels slumped.

Refining margins in Europe plummeted 85 percent to $6.6 a metric ton in the third quarter, the lowest in at least seven years, from $45 a ton a year earlier, Total said on its Web site today. That’s down from $12.40 a ton in the second quarter, according to the Paris-based company.

U.K. Gas Storage Sites Face Delays, Struggle to Raise Financing

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. natural-gas storage projects face delays as companies struggle to raise financing, the Gas Storage Operators’ Group said.

“The biggest challenge we have is funding,” Roddy Monroe, the group’s chairman said in an interview in London yesterday. “The need for storage is going to increase.”

The U.K. has the least gas storage capacity of any major gas consumer in Europe, exacerbating price volatility at times of high demand or when supplies are curtailed. The country can store only 5 percent of its annual gas demand, compared with France’s 18 percent and Germany’s 20 percent, according to figures from Centrica Plc, Britain’s biggest energy supplier.

The end of affordable oil: Maverick economist says markets will lead us to be greener

Economist Jeff Rubin cemented his reputation as a maverick when he left his position as chief economist at CIBC World Markets, and a 20-year-career there, to publish a book about the end of cheap oil and the end of globalization, as we know it.

In 2000, Rubin had told Calgary's Petroleum Club that oil - then at an alarming 10-year-high of about $30 per barrel - would rise to $50 within five years. In 2005, he was among the first to correctly predict $100 oil.

Now, he says oil will break $200 as the economic recovers.

Triple-digit oil prices - not an overextended financial system plugged into subprime mortgages - caused the current recession, according to the McGill University graduate and Toronto resident.

Age of cheap oil coming to an end

Remaining global oil reserves are now estimated to lie in a broad range between 2000-4300 billion barrels. Total global oil consumption by 2007 was 1128 billion barrels.

However, the UKERC says the timing of peak oil is insensitive to the volume of the remaining resource, and will depend as much on economic and technical factors as much as on geology.

"... annual production from a region has rarely exceeded five per cent of the remaining recoverable resources and most regions have reached their peak well before half of their recoverable resources have been produced."

Sinopec Group, Rosneft May Build Russian Oil Refinery

(Bloomberg) -- China Petrochemical Corp., the country’s second-biggest oil company, may help OAO Rosneft finance and build a refinery in Russia’s Far East as part of a government plan to develop the remote region.

Kosmos Team Nears Second Multibillion-Dollar Sale

(Bloomberg) -- James Musselman, the Dallas executive who engineered the $3.2 billion sale of Triton Energy Ltd. to Hess Corp. in 2001, is attempting another multibillion- dollar deal featuring oil finds in West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea.

Musselman heads Kosmos Energy LLC, the closely held U.S. oil explorer that said Oct. 12 it has an agreement to sell its Ghana assets to Exxon Mobil Corp. A person familiar with the deal, which could be torpedoed by a competing bid involving Ghana’s government, said the sale is worth at least $4 billion.

Exxon Mobil Won’t Face Punitive Damages in New York Water Case

(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. won’t face punitive damages in a trial in which New York City accuses it of poisoning water wells with a gasoline additive meant to improve air quality, the trial judge said.

U.S. District Judge Shira Ann Scheindlin in Manhattan ruled in the company’s favor yesterday. A jury is deliberating on whether Exxon Mobil, the biggest U.S. oil company, is liable for injuring the city by poisoning five wells in and near the Jamaica area of the borough of Queens with methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE.

Utah environmental fugitive sentenced in Fla.

SALT LAKE CITY – A Utah man who fled the state after being charged with environmental crimes and later was shot after confronting law officers in Florida with an assault rifle was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Wednesday.

Toshiba in Talks With Finland to Sell Atomic Reactors

(Bloomberg) -- Toshiba Corp., aiming to win 39 reactor contracts globally by 2015, is in talks with three Finnish utilities seeking to build atomic plants as it challenges Areva SA for a share of the European market.

EDP Chief Maps Solar Strategy on Cheap Land in U.S.

(Bloomberg) -- EDP-Energias de Portugal SA, the country’s biggest power company, said the U.S. is the most attractive market for expanding in solar energy.

The company, the world’s fourth-biggest generator of wind power since acquiring Texas-based Horizon Wind Energy LLC from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in 2007, is considering solar projects after developing wind farms from New York to Oregon.

“Concerning solar energy, we are mainly considering the U.S. market,” EDP Chief Executive Officer Antonio Mexia said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “We believe it makes more sense: closer to big consumption centers and because the opportunity cost of land is much lower than in Europe.”

PSC considers Western Md. wind power proposal

BALTIMORE – Homeowners who live near the site of proposed Western Maryland wind farm brought their case before utility regulators Wednesday, saying the impact on their safety has not been adequately considered.

"This commission is our last and only hope our government will protect us," said homeowner Victor Fickes.

Japanese firm plans zero-emission ferry

TOKYO (AFP) – A Japanese shipmaker said Thursday it planned to launch the world's first large electric ferry -- the latest innovation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

A subsidiary of heavy machinery giant IHI Corp. has completed a basic design for a 30-metre (99-foot) long ferry that could carry 800 passengers, powered by rechargeable batteries, a company spokesman said.

Military Fuel-Cell Aircraft Sets Record

The U.S. Navy has developed a hydrogen-powered aircraft that can fly for nearly an entire day without refueling.

During a test flight last week, the Ion Tiger, an unmanned air vehicle (UAV), stayed airborne for approximately 23 hours and 17 minutes, setting an unofficial endurance record for a flight powered by fuel-cell technology.

Iraq May Process Dates for Biofuel, Giving Green Light to Oasis

(Bloomberg) -- Iraq may boost production of dates to produce biofuel for blending with gasoline, as governments seek cleaner-burning alternatives to crude oil.

The biofuel would be used locally and eventually processed into higher-quality fuel for export to Europe, according to Brahim Zitouni, president of Oasis Ltd., a potential project partner. The Dubai-based company proposed its technology a year ago to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who “sanctioned the vision,” Zitouni said.

Pakistan’s Engro to Build $1 Billion Phosphate Plant

(Bloomberg) -- Engro Chemical Pakistan Ltd., the nation’s second-largest urea maker, plans to build a $1 billion phosphate fertilizer plant in North Africa to feed demand in Pakistan and Western Europe. Shares rose.

“Pakistan produces a lot of nitrogenous fertilizer indigenously but we don’t have the raw material for phosphatic and potassium fertilizers,” Chief Executive Officer Asad Umar, said in an interview at his office in Karachi. “North Africa is the biggest hub of phosphate fertilizer in the world.”

Gates pledges millions to African, Indian farming

WASHINGTON — Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist Bill Gates on Thursday will unveil grants totaling 120 million dollars to promote dynamic, home-grown, sustainable agriculture in Africa and India.

The grants, which will be made by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation working together with specialized agencies, will be announced by Gates in his keynote speech to the World Food Prize Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa later Thursday, his foundation said.

Why high-speed trains are vital for Australia

A zero-emissions, high-speed train network linking Australian cities, would be visionary, nation building and go a long way to stemming our greenhouse gas emissions.

Education Outside the Ivory Box

Transition Santa Cruz (TSC), a local group committed to reorganizing the community to stimulate a robust local economy, is sponsoring their first Re-skilling Expo October 17. There will be over 20 specialists leading educational demos — including beekeeping, edible landscaping, vermicompost, poultry care, earthworks and food preserving.

TSC’s website explains that the word “re-skilling” is used to describe the process of “re-acquiring the capacity to function well on mostly local resources.”

Is there still hope for oil?

New evidence has been unearthed (forgive the pun) by an international team of geologists and geophysicists, which gives strong support to an old and once discredited Russian theory. It proposes that new oil is being formed even now.

Deep in the upper mantle of the earth’s crust, 40 kilometres or more below the surface, very high temperatures and pressures are generating hydrocarbons, or oil. This oil migrates laterally and upwards through fissures in the crust.

Tracing the fissures to find where they come together will find pools of oil amounting to 200 billion barrels or more. This volume is approximately the same as the known Saudi Arabian reserves, which make up almost a third of the world’s total. And, unlike Arabian oil, it is being continuously augmented.

RoPo group advocates sustainability

Transition Rogers Park is a new group in the neighborhood teaching members how to become a sustainable community by making their own butter, growing produce and accessing public transportation.

The group is responding to skyrocketing oil prices, a shaky economy and glaciers melting at a rapid rate due to climate change. In February of 2009, co-founders of the group and Rogers Park residents Cynthia Kasper and Pamela Richart discovered a movement to base their efforts on: Transition Town.

Biggest Obstacle to Global Climate Deal May Be How to Pay for It

As world leaders struggle to hash out a new global climate deal by December, they face a hurdle perhaps more formidable than getting big polluters like the United States and China to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: how to pay for the new accord.

The price tag for a new climate agreement will be a staggering $100 billion a year by 2020, many economists estimate; some put the cost at closer to $1 trillion. That money is needed to help fast-developing countries like India and Brazil convert to costly but cleaner technologies as they industrialize, as well as to assist the poorest countries in coping with the consequences of climate change, like droughts and rising seas.

This financing is an essential part of any international climate agreement, negotiators and scientists say, because developing nations must curb the growth of their emissions if the world is to limit rising temperatures. Based on calculations by the International Energy Agency for 2005 to 2030, 75 percent of the growth in energy demand will come from the developing world.

Philippines is climate change victim: Arroyo

MANILA (AFP) – President Gloria Arroyo said Wednesday the Philippines deserved preferential loans and other financial help to recover from recent deadly storms because it had become a victim of climate change.

Canada announces second carbon capture project

OTTAWA (AFP) – The governments of Canada and its Alberta province on Wednesday announced 778.8 million dollars in funding for a second project to capture carbon emissions in western Canada -- home to its oil sands.

The monies coming partly from Canada's stimulus package will be spent to upgrade TransAlta's coal-fired Keephills 3 power plant near Edmonton, Alberta and reduce its carbon emissions, said officials.

Alaska ports protest rules on cruise ship emissions

WASHINGTON -- Some Alaska ports of call have asked the Environmental Protection Agency to rethink -- or at least slow down -- its plans to impose stricter air quality requirements for cruise ships and other large oceangoing vessels.

The EPA wants all large vessels to stop using so-called bunker fuel within 200 nautical miles of U.S. shorelines, saying that reducing air pollution from the dirty fuel could save the lives of 8,300 people each year, help an additional 3 million people avoid respiratory problems and clear hazy skies as far inland as the Grand Canyon .

Climate Change May Mean Slower Winds

This summer scientists published the first study that comprehensively explored the effect of climate change on wind speeds in the U.S. The report was not encouraging. Three decades’ worth of data seemed to point to a future where global warming lowers wind speeds enough to handicap the nascent wind industry. But the real story, like so much in climate science, is far more complex.

Carbon emissions must peak by 2015: UN scientist

PARIS (AFP) – The head of the UN's climate scientists on Thursday urged a key conference on global warming to set tough mid-term goals and warned carbon emissions had to peak by 2015 to meet a widely-shared vision.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the talks in Copenhagen in December must focus on 2020, a far more important target than mid-century.

Secretary Chu Announces Up to $55 Million in Funding to Develop Advanced Carbon Capture Technology at Existing Coal-Fired Power Plants

Washington, DC — U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today that $55 million will be made available to develop advanced technologies that can capture carbon dioxide from flue gases at existing power plants so that the greenhouse gas may be sequestered or put to beneficial use. The funding announced today is a direct investment in carbon capture and storage related technologies that will support the Obama Administration’s effort to help mitigate the effects of CO2 – a major greenhouse gas and contributor to global climate change.

Arctic Has Potential To Alter Earth's Climate: Arctic Land And Seas Account For Up To 25 Percent Of World's Carbon Sink

ScienceDaily — In a new study in the journal Ecological Monographs, ecologists estimate that Arctic lands and oceans are responsible for up to 25 percent of the global net sink of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Under current predictions of global warming, this Arctic sink could be diminished or reversed, potentially accelerating predicted rates of climate change.

Arctic to be ice-free in summer in 20 years: scientist

LONDON - Global warming will leave the Arctic Ocean ice-free during the summer within 20 years, raising sea levels and harming wildlife such as seals and polar bears, a leading British polar scientist said on Thursday.

Peter Wadhams, professor of ocean physics at the University of Cambridge, said much of the melting will take place within a decade, although the winter ice will stay for hundreds of years.

The changes will mean the top of the Earth will appear blue rather than white when photographed from space and ships will have a new sea route north of Russia.

Greer's latest is up on the Archdruid Report.

Tks Porge, I just read it. For a long haired, bearded Druid, he sure does have a pretty good handle on reality and is quite the wordsmith to boot! John Greer, you *ROCK*!

If you haven't already, read the entire series.

Yes, I have been following it.


Ruling could undo thousands of foreclosures

As the Herald first reported in June, the case centers on documents that banks and big investors must file any time they sell mortgages to each other.

However, some paperwork often gets lost, as mortgages typically change hands over and over again in today’s complex market.

Still, Long ruled that banks can’t foreclose on homes unless they have complete paperwork covering every time a specific loan changed hands.

Denninger thinks the paperwork was intentionally destroyed because it would have been evidence of fraud.

Even if it did, that wouldn't have much impact on the rest of what's going on...

Foreclosures: 'Worst three months of all time'

Despite concerted government-led and lender-supported efforts to prevent foreclosures, the number of filings hit a record high in the third quarter, according to a report issued Thursday.

"They were the worst three months of all time," said Rick Sharga, spokesman for RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosed homes.

During that time, 937,840 homes received a foreclosure letter -- whether a default notice, auction notice or bank repossession, the RealtyTrac report said. That means one in every 136 U.S. homes were in foreclosure, which is a 5% increase from the second quarter and a 23% jump over the third quarter of 2008.

Don't worry. The recession is over!

Leanan - As has been discussed on this site many times in the past by prescient writers such as Dmitri Orlov, America's long march to Collapse began with the demise of affordable housing in America.

Beginning in 1981 under the Reagan administration, deep systemic cuts to affordable housing programs with HUD led to the emergence of contemporary mass homelessness in America.

Case in point: In 1981 massive federal subsidies to states for social services such as mental health were cut or eliminated entirely. In LA, I lived two miles from the state hospital in Pineville. Rather than releasing the inmates to the streets (some of these patients had been in institutional care for over 20 years) they gave them about $100 US and bought them one way tickets to other states such as CA, NY and FL shifting their liabilities to more "affluent" states.

The government didn't simply eliminate these costs and return them to the general fund. On the contrary...these credits were funneled back in the form of overblown tax incentives for home ownership such as depreciation schedules and tax write-offs for mortgage interest. These elements played a leading role in the housing bubble that continues to play out.

61% of all federal housing subsidies went to households whose income levels were represented by 45% of the population while 39% of those subsidies went to households whose income levels were represented in 55% of the total population

The poorest 1/5 of our population received less than 20% of all subsidies, while 37% went to the wealthiest 1/5.

The question is: Can a civil society long endure with ever widening gaps of inequity?

Perhaps it can. As Greer points out, after the age of cheap fossil fuels end it will force the US from the self-appointed role of global policeman and our our troops will come home. We can then put them to use quelling a vibrant domestic insurgency. By then the perils of Afghanistan will be a long faded memory.


Hey Joe, great comment.
Did you happen to catch On Point yesterday?
They spent an hour on the topic of Will Inequality Lead to Revolution? They had Bruce Judson, author of the new book, “It Could Happen Here: America on the Brink” and Lawrence Goodwyn author of “The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America”.
listen to it here:
I'd like to comment more on how the elites are able to keep us middle and lower classes in line but I gotta go-
dang! I hope I can find some cheetos before Days of our Lives is on.


Not ready for prime time yet will post at later date

In a sense, the past decade's practice of easy money for potential home buyers was an attempt to create a much bigger market for the bankster lenders. The impression I get is that these absurdly risky mortgages were taken on by the very people that the previous decade of Reaganism had cut out of the market. In the end, a futile attempt to artificially create a market from an income group clearly unable to take on the debt.

So if the judge's ruling stands and is used in other cases to prevent foreclosure, wouldn't this force the banks to recognise the losses and write them down? And if Denninger is right, wouldn't the write downs then expose the banks as being over leveraged without the proper assets to back them?

I am not a terribly deep thinker, but while this would be good news for folks facing foreclosure, it may result in the banks facing their losses, doing down, and taking a number of others with them. I just paid off my mortgage. Perhaps I should have waited...

This is just one small state. Judges in other states have ruled differently.

Denninger thinks the only way the economy will ever recover is if the losses are acknowledged and written down. Yes, it will be painful. Banks will fail, and the people hurt will be those invested in them.

I'm not sure the economy will recover, what with peak oil and all. And I'm not sure it's really that great news for people facing foreclosure. They might get to stay in their houses rent-free awhile, which is good. But I would guess a lot of people in trouble will be unable to hold onto their homes in the long run.

Something to consider also

Empty houses depreciate structuraly much faster than heated houses. So let them stay and pay what they can until a certain desired housing stock is reached. Those people can prepare their next move and the disruption for sociëty is minimized. Problem areas remain liveable and affected neigbourhoods don't deteriorate.

I think the opposite is going to happen. Entire neighborhoods will be abandoned. Cash-strapped local governments will no longer be able to provide services like water, fire departments, and police, especially to far-flung exurbs.

Already is happening in Flint, sure to spread to other cities.

And Detroit.

Are you in Flint, WNC?


Continuing a trend Brazilian oil company Petrobras joins Murphy Oil and Valero in investing in ethanol:

Petrobras noted that of its 2009-2013 investment blueprint, it will be coughing up $2.4 billion for ethanol and biodiesel production; while the balance will be for infrastructure development, such as the setting up of ethanol pipelines. The proposed magnitude of investment reportedly soared 87-percent from what was previously planned.


At least to most Brazilians like myself, this is not really news, it's a no brainer!
Oil, Petrobras, ethanol and the Brazilian government are all very tightly intertwined.
Wake me up when something really news worthy happens...like when Brazil wins the next world soccer cup and become Septa Champions.

According to zFacts.com, sometime today or tomorrow the Federal debt will reach $11.95 trillion. In two more weeks, the Federal debt will be close to $12 trillion. Added to this 87% of GDP debt, is the residual loss from TARP payments and toxic debt purchases by the FED. Added further are the losses from The Freddies and their absorbing more questionable debt. This debt could be $5 trillion by itself. All of the debt is deeply troubling to foreign holders of this debt and US currency. This debt should be deeply troubling to all who live in this Country, but we don't want to pay up or control the debt.

New York State is doing its part to combat ignore climate change...


Hey we can't let a little thing like cooking the planet get in the way of generating revenue and creating jobs.

Maybe its time to cook a little tar and add some feathers and dip the politicians in the mix.
I'll bet that's a job more than a few of the unemployed would be glad to do for free. Granted there would be some release of CO2 from heating the tar to melting point, however, if they sold tickets to the event at least it could generate some revenue.

Maybe there's a way to sequester carbon in the bodies of bloated politicians ?

One might think of removing all the offending politicians and their cronies in the business world to "render" them ineffective. I can see a new bumper sticker now:

"BioDiesel is People...Burn, Baby, Burn"

E. Swanson

Hmm, there is a Norwegian company that wants to transforms liposuction waste into bio diesel.

There's some real potential here.

The CEO isn't Tyler Durden, is he?

You want to control politicians?

1. Cut their pay to 150% of the poverty line.

2. Eliminate any and all campaign contributions.

3. Make campaign funding federal only.

4 Limit campaigning to 6 mo. for candidates who have little or no name recognition and 6 to 12 weeks for incumbents and well-known.

5. Eliminate corporate personhood, making owners liable for profits and losses.

6. Eliminate any and all PACs and lobbyists. Constituents *alone* have the right to lobby our representatives; businesses, not being persons, have no such right. This would not prevent employees from lobbying for their industry or business, but it would greatly reduce businesses influence.



Public service should be seen as a duty not a career path.
Have a draft process to select candidates that are qualified for particular positions based on their previous track records and experiences.
That will at least get a fair cross section of the population in the race.
The way it stands now only the most corrupt selfish and power hungry with ulterior motive vie for these public positions.
The moneyed element of corruption that essentially runs the world will never be eradicated under the current political system.
There are of course exceptions to this and some well meaning people do indeed run for office with good intentions but not very many especially in the upper echelons.
There is a poster on this site that, without mentioning names, that I would include in the Good camp and I want to thank her for that.

Phil Foglio envisioned such a system as a McGuffin for one of his stories.

In his system taxes were paid as service, with the difficulty of the job determined by the qualifications of the citizen and the amount of time they took to report for duty.

One can only imagine how long their planetary executive must have taken to report...

Here is a great slideshow of container home photos: http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/latest/shipping-container-homes...

I support this idea in that it is recycling, but I've yet to see a project that actually created "affordable" housing. Middle class, yes. Truly affordable? No.

What we need even more than this are changes in zoning and codes to allow people of very little means to build decent structures. Then such structural materials will be most beneficial.

That said, here's an example of a project that just got approved in Detroit: http://thepowerofgreenhousing.com/blog/


The NY State Dept. of Environmental Conservation has issued a draft version of a generic environmental impact statement for regulating natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale (in the Catskills, among other places...)


Fort Lupton's Flaring Tap Water

Just came across this extraordinary video of flaming tap water on the Infrastructurist blog & thought I'd share it. Natural gas extraction activity gets the blame. It's quite something to see! Don't know if I'd want my kitchen to do be able to do this...


Its common for water wells in Albeta to outgas methane. I know my brother's well, just south of Calgary, produces methane in small amounts naturally.

A neighbor in NW Arkansas drilling a water well got gas/water. He had some pros look at it and they said not worth going after. Too bad. In Arkansas every owner of the 40 acres centered around the well gets to share.

I can ignite bubbles in the creek on my property. I'm right on top of the Brentwood seam.

Oil prices crossed back to two Yergin territory this morning.

I defined One Yergin as $38 per barrel, because Daniel Yergin, in the fall of 2004, asserted that long term oil prices in November, 2005 would be back to $38 per barrel, as rising supplies caused prices to fall. So far, from November, 2005 forward, monthly US spot oil prices have never been at or below $38 per barrel, as flat to declining supplies (especially in regard to net oil exports) caused prices to increase in order to equalize supply & demand, until demand fell in the latter portion of 2008.

Of course, I still believe that we are going to continue to see a series of doublings in oil prices (we saw almost three doublings in annual oil prices from 1998 to 2008), to prices measured in hundreds of dollars per barrel, but I have tried to avoid making specific time predictions, since demand is so hard to quantify. But I think that we will continue to see a pattern of cyclical higher highs and higher lows, e.g., if we average $60 for 2009, the 2009 price would be higher than all average annual prices prior to 2006 (in nominal terms).

Incidentally, it is a little ironic that CERA is blaming the post-2004 increase in oil prices--which Daniel Yergin asserted would not happen--for a peak in OECD demand.

How much do you suppose it would cost to run a large well placed ad in the NYT pointing out the cornucopians records?

And do you suppose they could be forced to run it?

I don't think the Times would reject it. Like most newspapers, they are pretty desperate for cash these days.

During the last election, I read that a full-page ad costs about $170,000. Price is probably lower now.

They are even selling ads on their front page (long verboten) for $75,000 on weekdays, $100,000 on Sundays.

Leanan, you are the fast go to lady more times than not!

The link you put up on the cash flow problems in the solar industry has n ot attreacted any comments but I have a question about the industry.

If prices are off by fifty percent are they still running in the black?I do know thier markups have been very high up until last summer at least.

And even if they are not in the black overall , might they still be in the black as far as actual production expenses(variable expenses such as wages and raw materials are concerned?

Sometimes it's cheaper to run at a loss than it is to shut down.

I hope to see the day (within ten years or so) that solar is cheap enough(relatively) that installing it is a no brainer.

Some other papers, in past years, have been quite affordable for full-page ads if you're able to get the "nonprofit" rate and "fly standby". For instance, a full page in the Washington Post for like $17,000 (or was that a half-page?). Point being, if it's well-crafted enough, a single ad placement in a prominent enough paper can spin off a lot more stories.

The WaPo may have cut out their nonprofit rates after the Petraeus/Betray Us ad, for all I know, but it used to be relatively cheap, as did several other papers. Plus, if you have a mechanism for people to donate to re-running the ad, you can defray a fair bit of the cost.

Of course, doing a well-laid-out ad which is conceptually catchy is an art form, but there are a number of good examples to "cheat" from.

According to this in 2004 you could get "a couple of full page ads in the new york times" for just under 100000.

Assuming it's not either libelous or indecent, why wouldn't they run it? If anything, an argument about Peak Oil is good for the media because they get more columns out of it, and get to write op-eds pointing out how five minutes of research "shows" that one side is completely wrong.

The question is how many people would even notice?

As Leanan pointed out, unless you ran an advertisement for a pornographic website, they would probably accept it (not so sure about the website, now that I think about it). In any case, they ran a ExxonMobil ad rejecting Peak Oil scenarios. An excerpt follows:

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

ExxonMobil Advertisement in New York Times, June 2, 2006

Pressed for cash, states let inmates go early

But some inmates don't want to leave.

Wright said the inmates requesting an extended stay at the Brentwood facility have been denied.

"It's not a homeless shelter. I can only hold people on legal orders from the court," he said.

Interesting link Leanan. I've often wondered what would happen to prison populations in the event of collapse, but didn't consider its effects might be felt this early post peak by inmates wanting to stay in jail.

This represents a huge concern for society as we move forward down the net energy decline, as more inmates may be released early or whole prisons emptying, with thousands of potentially violent prisoners on the loose. What a time for that to occur to, as more people will become homeless and in the not too distant future people may be desperate enough to use violence to get food.

This represents a huge concern for society as we move forward down the net energy decline, as more inmates may be released early or whole prisons emptying, with thousands of potentially violent prisoners on the loose.

This is exactly the kind of knee-jerk reaction that we need. Here's some facts:

The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate, and total documented prison population in the world. As of year-end 2007, a record 7.2 million people were behind bars, on probation or on parole. Of the total, 2.3 million were incarcerated. More than 1 in 100 American adults were incarcerated at the start of 2008. The People's Republic of China ranks second with 1.5 million, while having four times the population, thus having only about 18% of the US incarceration rate.

Are we really that violent? I think the truth is that there is has been a commodification of correctional institutions in America. There's big money in those penal colonies. A large percentage of those incarcerated suffer from mental illness. Are they dangerous. Yeah, if you don't want to feed, house, provide education, job opportunities and minimum health care to poor people they tend to be a general nuisance.

But here's an idea that won't work. Cut taxes for the wealthiest individuals and corporations in America and hope that it will trickle down. Been there done that!


Back when I was active duty I purchased new office furniture for my shop...had to get three bidders, then had to do that again (all for a couple of thousand bucks worth of desks and chairs)...the low bidder was...Federal Prison Industries, now under the brand name UNICOR.

The desk drawers had slips of paper in them stating that Unicor furniture came with an 'escape-proof guarantee'...no prisoners would be found in the desks or packing cartons or whatever...hah ha.

These folks make more than desks...


44-page PDF alert:



Who says the good ole U.S. of A isn't socialist?

We toss a disproportionate number of poorer people in jail for possessing plants and plant products, where they get indoctrinated to become hard-core criminals, and oh by the way we work them in our gulag factories to make crap for our war machine, this indentured servant labor brought to you by Your tax dollars.

Our penal system is BIG Business.

By the way, UNICOR undercut a furniture business down town outside the base (town population 39,000). Capitalist free market businesses beat out by our socialist/poor folks crowd control prison system.

America, home of the slave; home of the knave.

When I worked in the Indiana State Gov't long ago, we were required to purchase all of our office furniture through the state prison industries. All of the desks were built with angle irons attaching the top to the side cabinets, inside the knee well, about 12-15 inches in from the edge of the desk - perfectly placed to bang your knee whenever you scooted your chair in. We used to call it "the prisoner's revenge".

I read some amazing stuff by Catherine Austin Fitts on the subject of prisons in the US. Here's some of it: http://dunwalke.com/8_Dillon_Investment_in_Cornell.htm

Edgy -

As it is very long, I just skimmed through the Catherine Austin Fitts piece. But from what I did read I am now convinced that it is a far more scary situation than I had originally thought.

What I find an especially dangerous development is this practice of for-profit prisons using prison labor to manufacture goods sold on the open market, such as the office furniture operation cited in the article. How can a conventional company employing free paid workers compete with a company essentially employing slave labor? The argument that having prisoners work in a factory teaches them a skill and a work ethic, etc. is pretty weak when viewed against the far larger issue of corporate entities exploiting a (literally) captive work force to gain a competitive edge.

I am not a lawyer, but I can't help thinking that there are all sorts of credible bases for a legal challenge to this sort of thing: perhaps under the purview of labor law, restraint of trade, unfair business practices, and last but not least, the article of the US Constitution addressing involuntary servitude. (And the argument that the prisoners 'volunteer' to work is highly dubious, because there are imposed incentives for them to volunteer as well as disincentives for not volunteering, so it is hardly the same thing as agreeing to or not to work at a particular job as a free man.)

It is quite clear that there are many people in high places that benefit from there being more and more people in prison rather than less. It is not too much of a stretch of the imagination to picture this thing being a nascent American gulag. (Some might argue that it already is.)

What's comes next: a business built around prison inmate organ donors (e.g., donate a kidney and you get 5 years taken off your sentence)?

In Virginia at least prison industries sell only to the government-theoritically providing both training to inmates and saving some of the costs of running the system for the rest of us, while not undercutting other businesses to any large degree.

OFM - I don't believe the thinking is that these industries are frauds. The problem is that these profit centers drive rates of incarceration where prisons are concerned. Certain industries should never be left to private industry such as police, fire, military, health care and prisons. Where for-profit is concerned it drives the market not the other way around.


oldfarmermac -

All of what you said is true. However, if an essentially slave labor work force manufactures good sold only to the government, then does that not harm legitimate companies employing 'free' labor competing in that same market?

To me, the fact that all these transactions take place within the government is of little importance. But what IS relevant is the fact that certain people are financially benefitting from a large prison population. Hence the need to create more crimes that put more people in prison and thus generate more profits.

In my view, no matter how you slice it, this is a VERY dangerous precedent. Our Congress should put an end to this, but of course they won't. The fix is in. Remember: first they came for the Jews .........

Joule, Joe,

I agree with you about the for profit prison industry wholeheartedly.

But inso far as realistic training for inmates is concerned, given the reality of getting work as an ex inmate and ther cost of training, we can afford the state run training program if it actually works-an inmate could easily go directly to work with no training at all except orientation as an assembly line worker-I have been on such jobs myself and the simpler ones you can learn in a day.But having that first little bit of experience is a big boost sometimes.

Every program of every sort gores somebody's ox-it tees me off no end that the state decided to teach welding at every two bit trade school and high school shop in the state-at my expense as a taxpayer, while cutting my throat as a welder.;)

That alone has cost me thousands every year for decades.I only get the tough jobs but naturally the amatuers who can do a simple little job think I should do them for nothing, on the aassumption that I'm really not that much better-but I'm ten times better
-I do the jobs they won't touch- and have to charge thusly to make up for all the little gravy jobs they suck up-if I bother to weld at all anymore,which I seldom do.

There's no point in getting excited about such things-the furniture industry ITSELF was the primary source of the lobbying effort that got the furniture industry chosen for training-hoping to get an extra supply of cheap workers-Assembly line workers who don't have time to look up or go the john without calling for relief.They have no contact with the public , handle no money, do the same thing over hundreds or thousands of times every day.

At one time the furniture makers actually had trouble getting enough help at the going rate-which wasn't much, I can assure you.Nowadays the domestic furniture industry is on its last legs but there is one problem they don't have-qualified applicants!

ofm: That is the way it was in Indiana, too, when I was there. It was a pretty expansive list of elegible customers - state, federal and local governments, public schools and colleges, and quite a few other "institutions". Only private businesses and private citizens were off limits as customers, but that still limited it quite a bit and protected for-profit businesses from unfair competition.

Longer mandatory sentences are worth so much to private prison stocks(Pop). A prisoner in jail for twenty years has a twenty-year cash flow associated with his incarceration, as opposed to one with a shorter sentence or one eligible for an early parole.

Edgy - thanks for the article.


All non-violent drug related inmates, should be released ASAP. Every one.

The "war on drugs" has been one of the biggest jokes in your government. Time to end the wacked out, dope police/military.

Put them to work planting fruit trees.

Please-anything BUT fruit trees-we can't sell half of our current production as it is if we have a good crop;)

The planting of Fruit Trees all over the North American Continent, is a very long range plan for the survival of the human species. I could care less, as should you, that anything is sold.

In the not too distant future, many, many people will be wandering the woods looking for something to eat.

Bklade runner, Maybe you and Paranoid missed the smiley at the end of my comment-but it is true that my family earns part of our living as commercial fruit growers.

We used to earn most of it that way.

If you have been following this site closely you will have noticed that I encourage everybody interested in self sufficiency to plant fruit and nut trees if they have adequate and suitable land available.

I'll agree with bladerunner. I think the neighbor's apple tree does not look like a source of food to the average American living on burgers and fries. Even people actively looking for apples tend to go to the store.

It's a good WAG that planting fruit trees would not affect OFM's sales in the least. And that's not really good (local food) news.

Paranoid, you are as right as rain-I am not in the least worried about home grown fruit spoiling my market, any more than you are about your practice failing because all your patients start listening to you and therefore quit having strokes and heart attacks due smoking , lack of exercise, overeating, etc.

In New Orleans, any fruit within hand reach of the sidewalk is at risk.

I have a corner lot and can plant next to the curb, but I am "at risk" for anything growing on public ROW.

I am thinking of trees that most people will not think are edible.


(need to confirm cold tolerance).

Jaboticaba (or grape tree)


and persimmons >:-)

Best Hopes for Harvesting what one has planted,


Good luck with that.

I'd suggest Carambolas but I hear the smell is bad enough that they'd make you take it back out again.

I would hope they release them at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave or inside the capital building and let the congress critters deal with it.

See Kunstler's World Made by Hand for a take on what happens to prison populations.

Red Skeleton used to do a skit based on a homeless person [called a 'bum' at that time] who tried and tried to get thrown into jail for Christmas, but without success.

All he wanted to do was be warm and fed for the day. Everyone, in the 'spirit of Christmas,' released him.

Might have called him 'the poor soul.' It was '50s schtick.

Re: "Fusion could solve..." above; it's about time. The latest fission project, Olkiluoto3 in Finland, is expected to be delayed yet *again*. The operator, TVO, expects that Areva will not be able to finish the construction by summer 2012. This time the bottleneck seems to be some changes in the security systems, demanded by the authorities. Originally, the plant was supposed to be delivered to TVO this year. (Link in Finnish)


You're a bit confused, there. The Areva project in Finland is a fission plant, not a fusion plant. Commercial fusion is apparently still a long way off, perhaps never. Sure would be good though.

Commercial fusion is apparently still a long way off, perhaps never.
Like the speed of light, commercial fusion is a constant,
Where ever you enter the process, 1950 or 2010, it is always 20 years away.

Polywell (IEC fusion)

I believe we will know the answer for the Polywell in ~ 1.5-2 years.
I think we have a real shot at p-11B. I think it is possible to beat the Bremstrahlung issue.

I know. That's why we need fusion. ;)

From the movie Idiocracy:
[cabinet has been debating putting water on the plants instead of Brawndo]

Pvt. Joe Bowers: What *are* these electrolytes? Do you even know?
Secretary of State: They're... what they use to make Brawndo!
Pvt. Joe Bowers: But *why* do they use them to make Brawndo?
Secretary of Defense: [raises hand after a pause] Because Brawndo's got electrolytes.

Rev Karl

Forgetting the important part:
"Gee you're smart. Maybe you should be president".

Request for contacts in Europe.

I hope I'm not being too forward but I would like to ask readers if they have any contacts in Europe I might look up. (The Energy Export Databrowser is pretty heavily used by the Europeans so I know there is interest in TOD related issues.)

I'm leaving Sunday on a 3 week business trip to Europe. I'll be spending time in Copenhagen, Budapest and Vienna and will have a couple of unscheduled days in each city. While I am there I would enjoy the opportunity to discuss Energy issues, give a presentation or otherwise make contact with anyone interested in energy, data management or data visualization.

Whether they are TOD readers who want to share a beer or potential clients interested in data visualization I would love to meet with them during my time in Europe. (I speak pretty fluent German and French so language should not be a barrier.)

Thanks for any suggestions.

(I can be reached off-line at "jonathan.s.callahan [at] gmail [dot] com".)

-- Jon

In the above article: Jan Lundberg: U.S. Peak Oil Conference Conflicted Amidst The Oil Recession, is the following:

Chris Skrebowski from London is an oil analyst tracking peak oil, who found that cheap oil peaked in 2004. His similarity to Petrie and other technofixers is in expecting "key solutions" to oil depletion via electrification of vehicles and biofuels.

If you electrify 10's or even hundreds of millions of vehicles, then where is the energy going to come from? Are we going to burn more coal and NG for the generation? Will the existing infrastructure support an increase of magnitude on the system to charge all those vehicles?

Doesn't this come down to a discussion regarding net energy. If you divest away from oil to other fossil fuels or renewable, then aren't we simply moving down the net energy ladder? And doesn't a divestment from oil also act as proof that the cheap oil has been used, and we are post peak?

Hello Earl,

If we go with Electric Vehicles, we can substitute solar for some of the electricity. By heating our homes and water with solar, we can bank the electricity saved and use it to recharge our EVs. We get away from using oil and gasoline. Citing Home Power and an issue where they said a Solar Hot Water unit costing between $7 and $10K could save a user 3100 kwhr a year. If you drive 310 times a year, that is an average of 10 kwhrs. 10 kwhrs is enough to power an EV sedan 30 to 40 miles. That is equivalent to 1.5 to 2 gallons of gasoline not used. The cost of electricity subtracted from the cost of gasoline, will help to pay off the Solar Hot Water system in 4 to 10 years depending upon the rise in gasoline cost versus that of electricity.

So conceivably in 10 years time, you will have the Solar Hot Water unit paid off and will not be using any gasoline nor oil. Your electricity bill should be about the same in nominal terms.

This does not take into consideration the energy expended in building an EV.

Also notice how the MSM is changing its tune about EVs now that GM etal. are getting back into the game and Tesla is profitable. I also suspect that as oil supplies dwindle, we will see the PTB promoting solar in a big way to protect their wealth. But the recent gouging of the taxpayer to support Wall Street makes me think that PTB on Wall Street are hedging that we will not warm up to EVs and solar soon enough.

If we have electric cars that are as enormously inefficient as most of our internal combustion cars, then yes, this would just be moving energy needs to another area.

But my EV gets the equivalent of 300 miles per gallon. If a good portion of the current car fleet was similarly efficient, the net energy use would be reduced significantly.

Of course, this is only one, and far from the most important, measure we need to be taking. Mostly we have to car pool and to get out of our cars (and planes) and on to our feet, bicycles, and public transportation. We have to order our lives and communities and priorities such that we don't need or want to go long distances constantly...

All these could greatly reduce the amount of oil and gas we need, and some are already happening partly for economic reasons, but nowhere fast enough to address the twin threats of PO and GW.

Well if you use NG in a combined cycle at 60% efficiency, with 5% line losses, with 85% efficient electric cars, you get 48.45% efficient, which is higher than the theoretical efficiency for an ICE. Plus electricity can be produced by any fuel source, and 40% of electricity capacity installed last year was wind, with most of the rest in natural gas. Plus most of those sources will ultimately be more scalable, more domestic, and capable of going carbon neutral (even coal, although who knows if that'll actually happen).

Hi TODers,

When reading the excerpts below, keep in mind many of the events that followed Jun 2005: Hurricane Katrina, a wrecked southern Louisiana and central Gulf Coast and a subsequent fuel price spike; the runup of oil to $147/bbl during the summer of 2008; hurricanes Gustav and Ike followed by fuel shortages; and the spectacular and sudden crash of the global economy in the fall of the same year.

Excerpts from the Vancouver Sun, 21 Jun 2005, front page and A2, from the article "Record oil prices mean gas, flights will cost more" by Richard Chu:

Consumers can expect to pay higher prices and surcharges for everything from airfares to food and clothing as early as the end of this month as oil prices rise to record levels…

Any industry that uses fuel will face increasing costs that will be passed on to the consumer…

Air Canada announced Monday it will increase the costs of its fares between $8 to $15…

Oil has hovered around the $55 a barrel level this year, but the price of a barrel of oil closed at $59.52 US Monday…

…oil prices will continue to stay high, with increasing demand worldwide cause by strong global economic growth…

"Oil at $20 to $25 a barrel three of four years ago looks to be a distant memory."

And in the Business Section of the same paper, D1 and D2, the article "Record crude prices could dampen B.C. growth" by Scott Simpson appears prominently with a big line-graph showing the rise in crude prices from a low of $17.30/bbl on 16 Nov 2001 to the high of $59.37/bbl on 20 Jun 2005:

Crude oil traded at record highs Monday amid fresh warning that there may be little room for prices to fall for at least 24 months…

…observers in British Columbia suggesting a wide range of B.C. industries will feel the pinch--along with consumers…

"There is no doubt that the world economic growth outlook is going to dimish if we continue to see pricers at their current level, or going higher," said Jock Finlayson, vice president of policy for the Business council of B.C…

"…It won't be devastating. We've got a lot of momentum built up and it won't send us into any kind of downturn…"

Higher prices dampen economic growth in B.C.'s key markets--the rest of Canada, the United States, and Asia.

"The customers to whom we are selling our exported goods--and services in the case of tourism--are feeling the pinch from higher world petroleum prices. That means they are going to have less to spend on other things…"

Here are the monthly average oil prices for Jan through Jun of 2005 (EIA data, Cushing, OK, WTI spot price FOB):

Jan: $46.84/bbl
Feb: $48.15/bbl
Mar: $54.19/bbl
Apr: $52.98/bbl
May: $49.83/bbl
Jun: $56.35/bbl

Based on the above quoted articles (and some others), with oil prices in the $45-55/bbl range and threatening $60/bbl, it appears that companies that were highly fuel intensive were already feeling the pinch in 2005. Those using automobiles in their day-to-day lives were also beginning to feel the bite. With the comment "That means they are going to have less to spend on other things," clearly some were aware and discussing how the higher energy prices were going to impact consumer-driven economies. Prices in the range of $45-60/bbl were already causing growing concern about the broader economic ramifications.

And, after the near cardiac arrest of the global economy in late 2008, oil prices briefly plunged to a "low" monthly average of $39.09 (they did not even fall to that "distant memory" of $20-25/bbl) in Feb of 2009, before beginning a climb to monthly averages around $65-70/bbl from Jun to Sep. This week, spot prices have climbed past $75/bbl.

Are there similar articles being printed today, with higher oil prices than in 2005? Perhaps the brief excursion into $100/bbl territory has numbed many people to just how significant $75/bbl oil is.

Basic interpretation of the information, and using information from the Steve Andrews interview of Steven Kopits ("The First Peak Oil Recession") that points to $80/bbl being bad for the U.S. economy (~4% of GDP chasing oil) suggests that oil prices are already high enough to slow down if not outright halt growth in the US, if not other OECD countries.

Perhaps the Great Recession of 2008 shook out many weak links and the "New Normal" can tolerate higher oil prices than $45-60/bbl. Of course, whether-or-not all the weaker economic entities collapsed in the spasm of 2008 is debatable (big banks propped up by governments, and the ongoing mortgage defaults come to mind). In any event, it appears that oil prices may already be at economic crisis levels for the US and probably a number of other countries.


Excellent contribution greywulffe!

Our society's willingness to review the past, even the very recent past, leaves us in reaction mode all the time. Thanks for reminding us of what concerned folks were saying only a short while ago. Personally, I think we are only at the end of the beginning of the current crisis. A crisis that I consider as much financial and social as strictly energy driven.

Given the titanic nature of the global restructuring that has begun I think we may be looking at The Great Volatiility in coming years rather than just the The Great Recession.

Best hopes for a rapid return to genunine conservative values: family, community, education, hard work & thrift, conservation of all types, etc..

-- Jon

I think we should be clear about one thing. "Conservative values" are about maintaining power among the Bitish aristocracy (eg. high land values and rents, high returns on invested money). That list of stuff you quote as conservative values are simply the camoflage political campaign issues. Real conservatives don't care one iota for any of that crap, you can put any old yo-yo wingnut you like into leadership, as long as they get to control financial / taxation decisions of government.

Boy, am I sorry to have used a politically loaded phrase before looking it up in the dictionary! I really didn't have anything political in mind at all. Now I wish I had written:

Best hopes for a rapid return to some old fashioned values: family, community, education, hard work & thrift, conservation of all types, etc.

That does a much better job of capturing what I intended. (Not that I am disagreeing with you, Len. I just didn't intend to start a political thread.)

Best hopes for clear and precise communication. ;-)

-- Jon

Politically conservative agendas may range from supporting the Vietnam War to upholding traditional moral and religious values to opposing welfare. But are there consistent underlying motivations?

Four researchers who culled through 50 years of research literature about the psychology of conservatism report that at the core of political conservatism is the resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality, and that some of the common psychological factors linked to political conservatism include:

Fear and aggression
Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity
Uncertainty avoidance
Need for cognitive closure
Terror management
"From our perspective, these psychological factors are capable of contributing to the adoption of conservative ideological contents, either independently or in combination," the researchers wrote in an article, "Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition," recently published in the American Psychological Association's Psychological Bulletin.

What does that even me?

I'm scared of big gov't?
I like rules and structure, and for things to be clear?
I want life to be predictable?
I like things to make sense?
I don't want to be scared?

If it means anything at all, I can't see how it would be negative.

Would an anti-conservative view be:
I like be scared and weak
I appreciate flexibility in all things, and unclear situations
I strive for chaos
I like it when the situation makes no sense.
I want to frighten people

I think psychology is trying to give economics a run for its money as the flakiest "science" wannabee.

I usually just replace conservative with reactionary, and 99% of their values match. Only the date of the reactionary rollback differs.

Bush Jr wanted to roll back to before Great Society.
Bush Sr wanted to roll back to before the New Deal.
Reagan wanted to roll back to before Enlightenment.

Perhaps this would be a better measure of political leaning: http://www.mjyoung.net/dungeon/javalign.html

Of course, a lot of people would lie on the test...

I love how conservatives like to say how their leaders aren't 'true conservatives.'

Reminds me of communists saying Stalin or Mao weren't 'true communists.'

By their works ye shall know them.

Prodigal Son,

I do tend to agree with your comments, as a practical matter.-But really and truly there is such a thing as conservatism that is intellectually respectable and realistic-unfortunately it is not in evidence in this country at this time except that it gets a little lip service from time to time.It is certainly true if you know diddly about history that the rlers of the old USSR were not communists in any true sense of the word as originally intended by Marx.The likes of Stalin coopted the name and took over the country just as the modern republican party has coopted the name of conservatism-very few present day policies have anything to do with conservatism-but explaining that to a some one who has made up thier mind is nearly impossible.

If we had a govt true to conservative roots we would:not be dependent on imported energy.

Not be bankrupt.

Not be in the pockets of big banks.
Not have bailed out the banksters.
Not have bailed out GM.
Not have had a real estate bubble made possible by the govt pursueing an inflationary policy of get rich today at the expense of the future.
Not be at war in parts of the world that have nothing to do with our security except to supply our oil addiction.
Not have the worlds largest military machine.
Not have public schools that are substantially outclassed by those in countries far less fortunate.

I could go on indefinitely but there is no point-the next twenty comments will be devoted to pointing out how big an idiot OFM is.

Maybe one or two people will understand what I'm getting at.

We no more have a conservative political party in the US than we have a Christian church-out of every hundred so called christians I know , maybe two or three seriously follow the teachings of Christ.

Amusingly, what I find most "contentious" in your last sentence is not the word "conservative" but the word "return". For example, is the "probability distribution" of attitudes to "hard work" these days dramatically different to the past? Likewise it's debatable that "thrift for it's own sake" has significantly changed, just that the amount you can borrow relative to your earning has increased dramatically so that those who are spendthrifts are serious spendthrifts and hence in much greater potential trouble than those in the past who, limited by what would be lent to them, were spendthrifts. I seriously doubt that many societies in the past have actively engaged in conservation of any resources that weren't very visibly in short supply. I'll grant that there may have may be less family and community "spirit" than there used to be, although even then I'd suspect that this may strongly be due to increased economic independence: seeing my family maybe a dozen times a year after having moved away, am I less familially inclined than my grandparents who first shared a house and then lived nearby in the same town as their parents and so saw them all the time? As another example, is the decline of "youth clubs" because young people were more "clubbable" in the past or because modern teenagers' parents could "apparently" afford more and better entertainment facilities themselves.

(In all of this I'm not talking about the extreme-extremes like the kind of people living on sink estates just as I'm not talking about truly hard-core environmentalists (who I doubt anyone "tried" to live as conservation-mindedly in the past), but the broad probability distribution of attitudes over the whole population.)

Basically, I'm always unsure when someone suggests that everyone should change back to old-fashioned values "in advance of the real-world forces prompting them to do so" since it's very unclear that those old-fashioned values weren't constructed around the "real-world forces of life at the time". Not saying that it would be remotely undesirable to change values, just that I'd imagine it'll happen in the reverse of the move to "current values", eg, circumstance will force people to share more common experiences and then we'll make a virtue of community spirit, declining incomes and (hopefully) lack of careless lending will lead to be more careful about their expenses, etc.

I think your dismal memory of the good ol' days could do with a few hours spent reviewing famous documentaries such as "Little House on the Prairie", "The Waltons" and "Leave it to Beaver".

Your points are well stated embryonic, and I cannot argue with any of them.

The "old days" were not always so great and modern values derive from a combination of individual access to money and opportunity as well as each generation's "collective personality" if you buy into the theories of Strauss and Howe.

I'll attempt again to restate what inspired my original, flip comment.

I have experienced both a modicum of financial security and a tremendous amount of joy in my life and I attribute much of that to a focus on the following core values: family, community, education, hard work & thrift, conservation of resources etc.

It is my hope that others who may currently be more focused on career or monetary gain can create meaningful lives for themselves with much lower resource consumption by embracing similar values.

I definitely believe that we (read Americans) will be forced to reduce consumption going forward. But I am very optimistic that we can do so and still lead meaning, even joyful lives in the process.

Best hopes!

-- Jon

I think my comment came out sounding critical when I was being playful after the debate about "conservative" above (which also for some reason gave the idea you were in the UK). I am hopeful that many things in society can change and we'll acquire some values better suited to both long term human survival on earth and individual and collective happiness. I just suspect that they'll arrive after circumstances have forced the change (in the same way many people "come to the view" that work shouldn't be everything after they get made redundant from a career).

In any case, I'm going to follow toilforoil's advice and refresh myself on Edwardian Britain by watching "Mary Poppins" and "My Fair Lady" ;-) .

Well said !

Best Hopes Indeed :-)


Thanks, Jonathan, for the comments.

I think the term Great Volatility is likely to be an apt one. I will probably use this term going forward (Grand Depression is one I typically use when referring to what I consider a likely scenario for the next 20 years).

And, by the way, thanks for the Energy Export Databrowser: A highly useful tool.


PS. Over $77/bbl now. Maybe the "slack" in the oil market over the past year or so has now tightened up.

In any event, it appears that oil prices may already be at economic crisis levels for the US and probably a number of other countries.

Yes, so OPEC now starting to use (a part of) their production spare-capacity seems logical. Unless....

I was thinking the same thing. With oil prices exceeding $75/bbl, maybe the time for OPEC to begin throttling up production is here.


graywulffe, you got this right:

Perhaps the brief excursion into $100/bbl territory has numbed many people to just how significant $75/bbl oil is.

Seems odd that Obama's team seem to have blinders on when it comes to the price of oil and its implications (if too high) to cause an economic contraction. Even the Saudi's have recently suggested a set price for oil to keep the fragile world economy on an even keel.

Many economists say 4% of GDP is the max. the economy can handle, but that level is reached at 80 dollars a barrel, just a few bucks higher than the close today. Oil should be set at 70 until the New Year. Of course I have no idea what the implications are of setting an oil price. Is that a good idea?

The problem lies in the one rule that economists got right and keep trying to prove wrong when it gives inconvenient results.

Supply and Demand are guided by price. Not determined, guided.

In this particular case, there is a price that can support a particular level of production. Due to depletion that price is increasing over time for any given amount of production. This was carefully explained to us by my Econ 101 teacher, so I know it is in the economics literature.

The implication for your proposal is that if we try to nail the price in one spot supplies will drop.
If we continue to let the price rise and fall as the market happens then supplies might drop anyway.

The reason it is continually repeated here that we will only know when the peak was some time after it happened is that we won't know for sure that the world can't harvest crude oil any faster until it hasn't for quite some time, even in the face of prices high enough to support increased production.

Crude Oil at record high

Crude rises after data show big drop in gasoline inventories

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Crude oil and gasoline futures rose Thursday after government data showed a surprisingly big drop in gasoline inventories as refineries cut production to the lowest level in more than a year.

I have a hard time wrapping my head around why a sharp drop in production is bullish. Refinery utilization took a huge hit, down to 80.9%.

I bet that was due to switching over to "winter gasoline."

Third lowest conventional gasoline supply total ever (lowest Jun 2009).

Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 5.2 million barrels last week, and are just above the upper limit of the average range.

That's total inventories, true, but it seems like a big disparity.

IMO, US crude oil inventory variations between about 300 mb (2 days of supply above MOL) and 345 mb (5 days of supply above MOL) are basically just noise. Having said that, US crude inventories falling below 345 mb probably represented a bullish signal. And the only US product inventory number that is really out of kilter on the high side is distillates.

I don't know what the dollar is doing, but IMO the fundamental driver for prices is the global net export supply & demand balance, and I think that Sam has done a great job of modeling longer term net exports. From January 1, 2009 through mid-October, Sam's most optimistic scenario is that the (2005) top five net oil exporters have depleted their post-2005 cumulative net oil exports by 5%. Based on his modeling, this is one twentieth of all the (net) oil that they will ship, after 2005, in just a little over 9 months.

I forgot the inventory report was today. A day late, because of the holiday:

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending October 9, 2009

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.1 million barrels per day during the week ending October 9, 510 thousand barrels per day under the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 80.9 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging 8.5 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week,averaging 3.9 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 8.7 million barrels per day last week, down 367 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 9.3 million barrels per day, 374 thousand barrels per day above the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 690 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 164 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 0.4 million barrels from the previous week. At 337.8 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 5.2 million barrels last week, and are just above the upper limit of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories decreased but blending components remained unchanged last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 1.1 million barrels, and are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 0.1 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 5.8 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

There have been an awful lot of predictions about the coming crash in the price of oil...


Memmel - help!

I didn't really believe it. What's really driving this? Those pesky speculators again? ELM rearing its head? Elusive Abiotic oil?

I say (In the immortal words of the shrubster-in-chief): "Bring it on!"

Energeek, here was my prediction for the price of oil, which I made because it is going up with the Dow.

Perk Earl on October 10, 2009 - 1:03am

The price of oil is creeping up with the Dow. Now at 72.29! Predicting oil over 75 when Dow breaches 10k.

Edit | Reply | Reply in new window | Start new thread | Flag as inappropriate (?)

The price of oil did go over 75 when the Dow breached 10k. Hey, I got a prediction right! Look for Perk Earl oil price predictions right here on TOD.

My next prediction is $80 when the Dow hits 10,300


The lead is 'Bets on oil exceeding $100 per barrel be December increase by more than 10% in options trading'

That would be my bet as well.

Bets on oil exceeding $100 per barrel by December increase by more than 10% in options trading.

This means you can probably get pretty good odds placing bets that oil will be under $60 by December.

Personally, I'd give either scenario equal probability and it's the odds that allow you to pick one over the other and place your bet. Just ask Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

I love this quote from his site:

... while most human thought (particularly since the enlightenment) has focused us on how to turn knowledge into decisions, I am interested in how to turn lack of information, lack of understanding, and lack of “knowledge” into decisions –how not to be a “turkey”

The Energy Futures Databrowser allows you to review past predictions of the future price of oil. My cursory review of the data leads me to believe that, at least since June, the oil futures market has been horrendous at predicting the price of oil beyond one month out. I think there are simply too many unknowns and too many large forces at work in ways we don't understand. In such a market it's best to play the odds, rather than follow the herd.

-- Jon

Many of the presentations from the ASPO-2009 conference have been posted including Art Berman's presentation on the shale gas play.


"It puts the timing of "peak oil" somewhere between 2009 and 2030." That's some serious fanny covering.


Von -- Not that's there's one chance in a million we'll ever give up the term "PO" I now wonder if we haven't set up ourselves for a recurring argument with the cornucopians. I personally don't see a "peak". It's a plateau that might run for a decade before there is an irreversible down trend. A physical below-ground induced peak perhaps. But even more important is what I now see as THE real critical factor. Assume we are at PO today. So what: we are currently consuming less than the max production rate. The cornucopians had all the proof they needed of no PO when prices hit $38/bbl a few months ago. Now let's go to the other extreme: we're not at PO and max production rates will increase at a steady rate for, let's say, the next 5 years. But if global demand growth is currently exceeding the max rate increase we'll be hit with rapidly rising prices. At that will reduce demand which would likely bring prices down by some margin. Thus the roller coaster of the plateau'

And now add another complication: ELM. Assume we're not at PO yet but due to increasing internal consumption by the producers we've reached peak oil exports. Even if the max production rate was still increasing even modestly, if ELM is growing faster we'll be back into the price spiking scenario. Thus we're back to what is really important: is there a sufficient supply of oil for those with the capital to pay? But that isn't a straight forward question either given the feedback loop mentioned above. I don't know if I would project this rolling (due to the combination of below and above ground factors) to 2030 but I also don't think one can present a factual argument proving it couldn't.

Yes it may remain a plateau for awhile. Yet it will drive policy wonks crazy when they realize that productivity gains are not occurring and the price continues to rise in the inelastic limit.

I wonder if the economists will get their butts in gear and start looking at the details of EROEI and availabilities of various "grades" of petroleum and how that will affect the rate (or non-rate) of economic growth.

But then again this statement from the article is useless:

However, the UKERC says the timing of peak oil is insensitive to the volume of the remaining resource, and will depend as much on economic and technical factors as much as on geology.

To first-order, it has everything to do with volume. Engineers call this kind of logic a sanity check. First consider that if we had a 10,000 trillion barrels left, then the peak is well in the future. Second, if we only had 10 barrels left then peak is now or before now. By induction, the peak date is therefore sensitive to how much is remaining, contrary to what is said. Economic and technology factors are by definition second-order factors since they require the first-order factor as input.

Not that's there's one chance in a million we'll ever give up the term "PO" I now wonder if we haven't set up ourselves for a recurring argument with the cornucopians.

I've been watching this debate come up from time to time and not commented much, but here goes: I can't help think that if the branding of PO is *that* important, we've damned little chance of reaching people who are thusly affected.

Just one more sign of the massive complexity overload. And of the apocalypse. The thing that makes me a doomer more than anything else is the utter gullibility/lack of discernment of sooo many world inhabitants.

Still, I fight for change and solutions.

Hmm... what's that say about me?


What does that make you ccpo? Just another one of us cranks with no life and nothing better to do whin about nonexistant problems? BTW...you get your memebership t-shirt yet?

Have a good weekend.

Fanny covering would have required them to include July 2008. The article predicts that the year for peak oil lies in the present or future.

Hello TODers,

You just wonder about the postPeak long-term, Circle of Life energy prospects for the Pakistani $1 billion I-NPK plant discussed in Leanan's DB toplink: "Pakistan’s Engro to Build $1 Billion Phosphate Plant (Update2)".

My guess is that they have been following, with growing alarm, Dana Cordell's expositions on [P]hosphorus plus the many NPKS writings here on TOD and other websites, books, etc. You gotta admire their natural desire to have a local manufactured source of P & K [Element Potassium] for a very short supply-chain from localized Pakistani extraction. But since they don't have native source mines: the only alternative is to build a long, but fragile supply chain, then import from afar. As discussed earlier: Morocco is becoming increasingly strategic to global security.

IMO, the key factor will be if they can source long-term supplies of energy to power their I-NPKS & food supply chains as we go postPeak. From the link:
..Engro plans to invest $5 billion in the next five years to expand in areas including power generation and food exports, Umar said.

..Financing Cost
“The worry is that the major expansion has increased the cost of financing,” said Nasim Beg.

..Pakistan plans to add a total of 5,000 megawatts of electricity to the national grid by 2013 after violent demonstrations against power outages broke out in several cities in past two years. Pakistan has faced power shortages of as much as 4,500 megawatts a day, or 30 percent of capacity, during the peak summer season since May.
Ah yes, the usual 'Price Vise' that constantly, financially narrows and progressively clamps down the chance for BAU & nutty profitability. The other nut is being remorselessly clamped by the Oil Price Vise.

This makes one wonder if this $1 billion, or $5 billion, could be better spent inside Pakistan on a massive migration to bi-directional flowrate SpiderWebRiding and O-NPK recycling for the early re-closing of the loop in the Circle of Life. Five billion will buy a lot of narrow gauge track that can be easily installed by manual labor without heavy equipment.

Pakistan, as well as all countries, had better hope that far-flung global supply chains never falter in the postPeak era. IMO, this seems delusional compared to a sound policy that supports the Circle of Life. Recall that inland transport costs can ratchet I-NPK prices 6X or more over the seaport costs. Imagine what happens if nothing arrives at the seaport...

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

Coskata fires up cellulosic ethanol plant near Pittsburg

Even as questions about ethanol's role in the energy supply chain continue roiling the industry, cellulosic ethanol pioneer Coskata Inc. unveiled and fired up its 50,000-gallon-a-year "semi-commercial" plant in Madison, Pa., today, pushing itself toward the forefront of fledgling second-generation ethanol producers.

The Swedish 2008 statistics for apartment buildings were published today. 82 % of the building area is heated with district heating, 3 % resistive electric heating, 6 % heat pumps, 1 % oil in combination with other heat surces, 1 % oil, 7 % other combinations.


What does the term "district heating" imply about the ultimate fuel being burned? I have often wondered how much Swedish heating needs are being addressed with biomass which is not accounted for in the BP Statistical Review.

Is "district heating" using heat that in other countries is simply lost, implying a higher fuel efficiency for natural gas or oil? Or are other, typically unaccounted for sources of energy being used?

-- Jon

The www.scb.se supply statistics for 2008 for both district heating and electricity co-generation were:

Total 64.9 TWh,
Waste heat from other industry 5.7 TWh

Wooden fuels 23.9 TWh
Waste incineration 12.2 TWh
Heat pumps 5,7 TWh
Other fuels 5.6 TWh
Peat 3.9 TWh
Natural gas 2.9 TWh
Coal 2.4 TWh
Heating oil 1.5 TWh
Pine tree needle oil 0.8 TWh
Resistive electric 0.2 TWh

But I am a little weary if I have gotten all the cathegories right and the waste heat figure might include more.

An interest group statistical breakdown for the district heating fuel supply for 2007 is as follows:

Unrefined wooden fuels 30 %
Biological oils 3 %
Waste gas (methane) 1 %
Refined wooden fuels (pellets etc) 8 %
Pine tree needle oil 1 %
Wood chips from torn down houses etc 3 %
Waste (mostly hosehold waste) 16 %
Industrial waste heat 7 %
Resistive electrical boilers 1 %
Electricty for heat pumps 3 %
Produced in heat pumps 6 %
Oil 3.5 %
Coal 4 %
Natural gas 4 %
Misc fossil fuel 1 %
Peat 5 %
Hot water bought from plants with unknown fuel use 1 %
Other fues 2 %

And their 2007 statistics for the fuels used to make electricity in the combined heat and power plants were:

Unrefined wooden fuels 30%
Refined wooden fuels 7 %
Wood chips from torn down houses etc 3 %
Waste 18 %
Bio oils including pine tree needle oil 1 %
Other fuels 3 %
Peat 8 %
Coal 9 %
Natural gas 14 %
Oil and other fossil fuels 4 %

The only fossil fuel that is increasing in use in natural gas for CHP since a large plant recently have been started in Malmö. This is sadly to a large degree a replacement for the closed two unit Barsebäck nuclear powerplant. Barsebäck was originally planned to have an additiona two reactors for CHP use wich would have made the statistics and environmental load a lot better. :-(

A simplification if the situation is that all countries that produces power with steam turbines where the condensing heat is not used could increase the efficiency by condensing at a higher temperature to produce hot water for district heatig or for running absorbtion chillers for district cooling.

This gives a lower electricity productio but a lot of hot or cold water that in some areas can be sold for more the the worth of the lost electricity.

And you can analyze it the other way around. If you anyway burn fuel to get heat why not extract high value electricty from the process and add some more fuel to keep the delivered heat constant?

Since the need for hot water/domestic heat does not match the need for electricity, why not

1) Run electrical generation efficiently
2) Supply low grade heat to buildings
3) on demand, at end use, add heat (natural gas or electric) as required (+10 C, heating demand may be meet by low grade heat).

As for absorption chillers, electric chillers have COP of 2.0 to 6.1. Absorption has COP of 0.65 (single stage) to 1.2 (double stage).

It will be a complex conversion to figure out if less efficient electrical generation (same fuel, less electricity, hotter waste heat) & absorption chilling is better than efficient electrical generation & electric chillers.

Lack of complexity goes to electrical chillers, as does generation to meet demand.

Best Hopes,


Reference on Absorption Chillers -


Allow increased oil sands emissions, CEO urges
Move would impose greater burden on others, but strict limits on producers would stifle the industry's growth, says head of Canadian Oil Sands Trust

Alberta's oil sands producers should be allowed to significantly increase their greenhouse gas emissions, even if that means forcing other sectors to take on additional expensive obligations to meet Canada's climate change targets, an industry executive says.

Marcel Coutu, chief executive officer of Canadian Oil Sands Trust, travelled to Toronto Thursday to spread the industry's message about climate change. The oil industry stance highlights the dilemma facing the federal government as it prepares regulations to meet its commitment to reduce emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 from 2006 levels.

See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/allow-increased-oil-sands-...

Gee, since we're already bent over, would you like us to kiss your feet while we're at it?


Hot this season: are air source heat pumps here to stay?
The government is expecting sales of air source heat pumps to go through the roof. But are they really worth getting excited about or just a passing fad?

Five-thousand heat pumps were sold in the UK in 2007. But by 2020 that figure could top 2 million, according to a study published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) at the end of July.

The report, entitled The UK Supply Curve for Renewable Heat, looks at how to meet the government’s target for 15% of all heating to come from renewable sources by 2020. It concludes that it expects heat pumps, along with biomass boilers, to provide the most significant contribution to meeting this target. The government is embracing this “low carbon” technology, but does it deserve such a tag and will it deliver the savings promised?

See: http://www.building.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=32&storycode=3151078&c=2


On Point interview.

They talk about potential for revolution.
Very good.


US headed for massive decline in carbon emissions

The problem, though, is that carbon emissions are global. And even with a massive decline in U.S. emissions, the concentration in the atmosphere continues to climb unabated: