Drumbeat: November 16, 2009

Oil reflects dollar moves, not market dynamics: Yergin

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Current oil prices are the result of financial market gyrations and do not reflect the supply-demand dynamics of the physical market, energy consultant and prize-winning author Daniel Yergin said on Monday.

Crude oil benchmarks are holding near $80 a barrel, having doubled from under $40 at the end of last year, after plunging during the financial crisis from all-time highs. But bulging inventories are keeping gains in check.

"Oil prices today do not reflect the world's supply and demand fundamentals. Instead, prices are reflective of the weak dollar and expectations of a strong economic recovery," Yergin told reporters on the sidelines of a conference.

Kjell Aleklett: The Struggle Against Climate Change May Cause Starvation

At about the same time as the climate meeting is being held in Copenhagen, the world’s population will pass 6.8 billion. We are now immensely more numerous than we were in 1950 when the world’s population passed 2.5 billion. The world’s new citizens since 1950 have experienced an era of development without equal and the fuel for this development has been the coal discoveries of the 19th century, gigantic discoveries of oil in the 1960s and, as icing on this cake, immense natural gas discoveries during the 1970s. We have been drenched in fossil energy and today’s globalised economy is completely dependent on this torrent. Today when you sit down at the dinner table and enjoy your food you should realize that it is soaked in crude oil and natural gas. The fact is that we, the world’s 6.8 billion inhabitants, would never survive without enormous quantities of fossil energy.

Russia, EU sign memo on energy supply early warning

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The European Union and Russia on Monday agreed to an "early warning" mechanism to shield Europe from potential energy supply cuts and protect consumers in the event of a repeat of last year's Russia-Ukraine gas dispute.

The agreement requires both sides to notify the other of any likely disruption to supplies of oil, natural gas or electricity and to work together to resolve the problem. Third parties would also be allowed to participate, the European Commission said.

Steve LeVine: Gazprom Comes to the U.S.

Last month, the company's Houston office opened with the main aim of marketing liquid natural gas from Sakhalin II (recall that Gazprom strong-armed its way into a controlling share of the project in 2007), on Russia's East Coast, in California. This goal hasn't gone off so well as yet, and probably won't soon -- U.S. gas prices are simply too low, and because of a glut of shale gas, prices aren't likely to rise much at least in the medium term. So Gazprom has sold all its LNG so far in Asia.

But a companion component of the strategy has succeeded remarkably. It's in pure gas trading. Though the trading side of the U.S. market is crowded with sophisticated actors stepping on one another to find and sell the fuel, Gazprom managed to corral and sell 350 million cubic feet a day in its first month of operation. That's a fraction of its goal -- the sale of 6 billion cubic feet a day. But it's a respectable start.

6 double dip warning signs

Few would argue that the chaos in the financial markets in the fall of 2008 helped send the economy into its worst period of decline since the Great Depression. But the oil price shock earlier that summer, which sent prices to a record high of more than $145 a barrel, may have had an even bigger impact on consumers.

Repsol Cuts 5-Year E&P Spending to 8.8 Billion Euros

(Bloomberg) -- Repsol YPF SA, Spain’s biggest oil company, cut its five-year exploration and production investment plan to reduce costs as the economic slowdown saps earnings.

Repsol will invest an estimated 8.76 billion euros ($13.1 billion) in E&P from 2008 through 2012, down from an earlier plan to spend 9.3 billion euros, the Madrid-based company said today in a regulatory filing. The program totals 12.3 billion euros when projects such as refinery work are included.

Kurt Cobb: Amelia Earhart and the complexity problem

Earhart lost her way on the final leg of her journey because of multiple breakdowns: The direction finder on the naval ship stationed near the island where she was to land and refuel lost battery power; the radio operators on the ship could hear Earhart, but she could not hear them; the antennae of Earhart's plane may not have been well-suited to the needs transocean flights; a flight pattern meant to bring her plane over the island may have been incorrectly calculated.

Like her, our civilization does not realize that it may not have enough fossil fuel to make the transition to a renewable energy economy. To build such an economy we will have to use current energy sources which are mainly fossil fuels. If we squander that patrimony on current consumption and continued growth, we may find our energy infrastructure inadequate to our needs as the fossil fuel age winds down. And, like Earhart, we are not getting the proper feedback to tell us what to do, she from her radio and we from the market economy which fails miserably to anticipate and properly signal us concerning long-term challenges such as global warming and fossil fuel depletion.

Gross National Income per liter of oil consumed

As peak oil sets in while the world is growing thirstier for oil, what benchmark should be used to assess if you are weaning yourself from oil? I propose it should be your income divided by the amount of oil you consume.

Why? Because this will measure how truly oil independent you are and how much purchasing power for ‘other stuff’ you will ultimately have, once oil becomes truly expensive (and I am assuming here it will be expensive, not unavailable).

AltaRock Geothermal Gets New Boost

As part of a newly announced $338 million boost for 123 geothermal energy projects nationwide, the Department of Energy will sink $25 million into what is called an “enhanced” or “engineered” geothermal demonstration project in Oregon being developed in part by AltaRock Energy Inc., which recently halted work on a similar venture in California due to drilling problems.

Electric vehicles, infrastructure power 2009 Beyond Oil conference

Shiny new electric vehicles, emitting only low-whirring sounds, glistened as they darted among the few sun breaks in Seattle outside a Cascadia Center conference titled Beyond Oil: The Sustainable Communities Initiative.

The all-electric Ford Focus made its debut at the late-October event, co-sponsored by Idaho National Laboratory. Ford's Focus added to a charged atmosphere around the Department of Energy's $100 million grant for a 36-month transportation study in five states. The Pacific Northwest is jointly pursuing a vision of electrified transportation in the I-5 corridor from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Eugene, Ore., as part of the study.

Hope floats on eco-celebrity's recycled plastic boat, Plastiki

David de Rothschild talks about his most dramatic adventure yet: He's readying a sailing vessel, Plastiki, made entirely of recycled plastic for an 11,000-mile journey west into the Pacific. One key stop: a massive, floating plastic junkyard in the middle of the ocean that is the direct result of mankind's polluting ways.

Dmitry Orlov: The Oceans are Coming Part II - Living on the Land

In this part, we focus on two areas that are most familiar to the two authors, and also relevant to the majority of readers: Dmitry is going to look at the likely impact of future sea-level rise on the Eastern Seaboard of the USA, not just in terms of the direct effects of flooding on habitation, but the many different indirect effects that sea-level rise will have; Keith is going to do the same for the east coast of England and the Netherlands, two places that have seen their fair share of flooding in the past, and are bound to suffer in the future.

Reader Q&A with Dr Fatih Birol, IEA chief economist

Q. When will global oil production peak? How grave will be the impact upon different societies in the world? How should we prepare?

A. As I have already said, we do not project total oil production (including crude oil, natural gas liquids and unconventional oil) globally to peak before 2030 in either of our scenarios – provided that adequate investments are made in exploration and development. But the uncertainties with respect to remaining oil resources and investment are so great that we cannot be entirely confident that it will be possible to continue to increase world production. Most of the increase in output we project over the next two decades will probably have to come from OPEC countries and they may not be willing or able to make all of the required production growth. This is an important issue we have highlighted several times in the past. Under-investment could lead to much higher prices, exerting a heavy burden on the world economy. That is one reason why we need to act now to curb the growth in demand for oil; lower oil use would not just contribute to meeting climate goals, but would bring enhance our energy security and bring long-term economic benefits.

How the Great Recession Will Transform America

Warren Buffett bought a RR anticipating a major change in America driven by high energy costs. The article Warren Buffett vs the Soccer Moms lays out the thesis that “Buffett is betting on higher energy prices and a different transport focus.” In effect, Warren is betting that the American Dream is over. Instead of living in a suburban McMansion with a green lawn, an SUV, and suburban schools, the middle class will be force to re-huddle in cities and rely on public transportation, with trains rather than trucks moving goods between city cores.

I think America will be transformed by the Great Recession, but not in such a dispirited direction.

America is in a true crisis

The "solutions" that have been implemented thus far will drive our deficits skyward, drive the dollar downward, and ultimately push the economy into a depression.

The confluence of a deepening depression with the onset of peak oil shortages in supplies and soaring prices between 2010 and 2014 will plunge the country into chaos.

As the world loses confidence in the leadership of our country, they will exit our debt and our dollar. The collapse of the U.S. currency could result in a number of calamitous scenarios.

Will crude oil price touch $100 this year?

The lack of planning for an oil emergency in this country could have crippling effects. Can you imagine a crunch during the farming planting season? Since most everything is tied to crude oil prices, it should be on your radar constantly. If peak oil is a truism, there are much higher prices coming in the future for most commodities.

OPEC head: $75 to $80 a barrel a 'good price'

ABU DHABI (AFP) – Seventy-five to 80 dollars a barrel is a satisfactory price for oil, the president of OPEC said Monday, adding that the cartel may leave production unchanged at its meeting next month.

"Seventy-five to 80 dollars a barrel is a good price... for the recovery of the world economy," Jose Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos, who is also Angola's oil minister, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference on Gulf energy security in Abu Dhabi.

Oil Rises From One-Month Low on Weaker Dollar, Japan’s Economy

(Bloomberg) -- Oil rose from a one-month low as the dollar weakened and Japan’s economy expanded at the fastest pace in more than two years, boosting confidence about the strength of the global recovery.

Russia Dec oil export duty to rise 17 pct to $271.1/T

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will raise its oil export duty by around 17 percent to $271.1 a tonne from Dec. 1, reflecting a rise in oil prices, Finance Ministry and Reuters calculations showed on Monday.

Gazprom sees gas output at 530 bcm in 2010

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Gazprom, the world's largest gas producer, plans to extract 530 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas in 2010 as a gradual recovery in demand allows the Russian company to produce more than the 450-490 bcm expected this year.

However, Gazprom's forecast, released with its third-quarter results to Russian Accounting Standards on Monday, is a cut from its previous official forecast of 565-570 bcm and falls short of last year's output of about 550 bcm.

China Coal Producers Advance Amid Deadly Snowstorms

(Bloomberg) -- China’s coal producers surged as the country’s worst snowstorms in decades disrupted supplies and boosted demand, driving up prices of the solid fuel.

Nabucco Doesn’t Expect Costs to Rise, Mitschek Says

(Bloomberg) -- Nabucco Gas Pipeline International GmbH, operator of a planned 7.9 billion-euro ($11.8 billion) natural-gas pipe to Europe, said costs probably won’t rise because they were set when materials prices were at record highs.

A higher bill for the project “isn’t expected at all because when the cost was set about 1 or 1 1/2 years ago, we saw peak prices in commodity markets,” Nabucco Managing Director Reinhard Mitschek said today in an interview in Budapest.

Single EU Energy Markets Starting to Develop, Capgemini Says

(Bloomberg) -- The European Union is slowly starting to show signs of having single markets for electricity and natural-gas, boosting competition and trading, according to a new report by Capgemini SA.

Electricity exchanges increased in the past year, thanks to new interconnectors and wholesale markets, said Colette Lewiner, the Paris-based global leader of energy and utilities for Capgemini. “Market coupling is increasing,” she said in an interview.

Frontier refinery plans to fight $6.8M EPA fine

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – A Wyoming refinery says it plans to fight the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's nearly $7 million fine levied in late September for allegedly dumping hazardous waste into a pond designed to hold storm water.

Gerald Faudel, Frontier Oil Corp.'s vice president of government relations, told the Tribune Eagle, "We continue to believe there's a misunderstanding with that pond."

Weapons Upgrade at the Dubai Air Show

“The U.S., U.K. and France — among others — have relied on the Mideast in particular to either boost or even sustain their domestic military aircraft production because, with the obvious exception of the United States, their domestic markets are no longer large enough to do that,” Ms. Ashbourne said.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain — members of the Gulf Cooperation Council — along with neighboring Oman, have significant national security problems. Mostly wealthy, with small populations, relatively large migrant communities, massive hydrocarbon resources to protect, and unstable or potentially nuclear-armed neighbors, the Gulf governments have plenty of reasons to look closely at the military displays and brochures in Dubai this week.

Chavez asking Cubans to 'bomb clouds' amid drought

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez says he will join a team of Cuban scientists on flights to "bomb clouds" to create rain amid a severe drought that has aroused public anger due to water and electricity rationing.

Chavez, who has asked Venezuelans to take three-minute showers to save water, said the Cubans had arrived in Venezuela and were preparing to fly specially equipped aircraft above the Orinoco river.

Russia says launch of Iran nuclear plant delayed

MOSCOW - A nuclear power plant that Russia is building in Iran will not start operations by the end of 2009 as previously announced, Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko was quoted as saying by news agencies on Monday.

“We expect serious results by the end of the year, but the launch itself will not take place,” Shmatko said, quoted by Interfax and RIA-Novosti.

Nuclear energy high on Senate's climate agenda

WASHINGTON (AFP) – With crucial global climate talks less than a month away, US senators appear to be betting on nuclear energy as the key to finally passing sweeping domestic climate change legislation.

How reputation could save the Earth

HAVE you ever noticed a friend or neighbour driving a new hybrid car and felt pressure to trade in your gas guzzler? Or worried about what people might think when you drive up to the office in an SUV? If so, then you have experienced the power of reputation for encouraging good public behaviour. In fact, reputation is such an effective motivator that it could help us solve the most pressing issue we face - protecting our planet.

Environmental problems are difficult to solve because Earth is a "public good". Even though we would all be better off if everyone reduced their environmental impact, it is not in anyone's individual interest to do so. This leads to the famous "tragedy of the commons", in which public resources are overexploited and everyone suffers.

Public goods situations crop up all over the place, including decisions on maintaining roads, funding the police and whether or not to shirk at work. This leads us to an important question: is it possible to make people care enough about such problems to do their bit?

UN Board Predicts More ‘Automatic’ Approvals for CO2 Projects

(Bloomberg) -- The chairman for the world’s largest carbon-offset market said more emissions-reduction projects will be automatically approved after the rate plunged from a year earlier, curbing investor funding.

Shell pushes for unfettered carbon trading markets

Royal Dutch Shell Plc is calling for the removal of any restrictions on carbon credit trading and asking for derivative contracts to be allowed under cap-and-trade programs.

“You have to allow a secondary market to develop,” David Hone, Shell's climate change adviser, told reporters at an energy conference in Singapore today. “You don't want to have a carbon market that's restricted from doing what other commodity markets are doing.”

APEC leaders drop climate target

SINGAPORE (AFP) – Asia-Pacific leaders on Sunday vowed to work for an "ambitious outcome" at next month's Copenhagen climate talks but gave no target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"We... reaffirm our commitment to tackle the threat of climate change and work towards an ambitious outcome in Copenhagen," they said in a declaration at the end of a two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

The 21-member grouping declared climate change "one of the biggest global challenges" but dropped a target to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a goal outlined in an earlier draft of the joint statement.

Obama Hobbled in Fight Against Global Warming

President Obama’s ambitions are limited by a Congress that is unwilling to move as far or as fast as he would like.

We are already adapting to warming

THERE is an understandable imprecision in the shorthand used in the complicated climate change debate.

Addressing global warming is not about saving the planet but is about preserving our environment and our way of life. The planet will survive, even if we don't.

Victims of climate change tell the world how it’s destroying their lives

Climate change is a huge threat to development in Africa. Despite contributing less than 3% of global emissions the continent will be hit hard. Scientists predict serious impacts on the production of many staple foods – with the average yields of maize in southern Africa projected to decline by 30%. The number of people without adequate access to water on the continent is predicted to triple to 600 million by 2050.

Poor nations insist on climate treaty next month

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Poor nations insisted on Monday that a legally binding climate treaty is still possible in Copenhagen next month even though U.S. President Barack Obama and many other leaders reckon it has slipped out of reach.

Climate change not man-made, say majority of Britons: poll

Less than half of Britons believes that human activity is to blame for global warming, according to a poll carried out for The Times newspaper and published on Saturday.

Only 41 percent accept as an established scientific fact that global warming is taking place and is largely man-made.

Almost a third, or 32 percent, believe that the link is not yet proved; eight percent say it is environmentalist propaganda to blame man and 15 percent believe the world is not warming.

Climate change catastrophe took just months

Six months is all it took to flip Europe’s climate from warm and sunny into the last ice age, researchers have found.

They have discovered that the northern hemisphere was plunged into a big freeze 12,800 years ago by a sudden slowdown of the Gulf Stream that allowed ice to spread hundreds of miles southwards from the Arctic.

...“It would have been very sudden for those alive at the time,” said William Patterson, a geological sciences professor at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, who carried out the research. “It would be the equivalent of taking Britain and moving it to the Arctic over the space of a few months.”

His findings, published at a recent conference, reinforce a series of studies suggesting that the earth’s climate is highly unstable and can flip between warm and cold very rapidly with the right trigger.

Devon puts its interest in the Jack Field and other Gulf of Mexico (GOM) fields on the block, in order to focus on onshore North American projects.

Devon to sell its Gulf, international assets

NEW YORK, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Devon Energy Corp (DVN.N) said on Monday it plans to sell its Gulf of Mexico and international assets and focus on its fields in the United States and Canada.

Very interesting WT. Might be the best timing as the confirmation well has substatiated significant reserves. Get out now before the big development bill shows up. It will be even more interesting to see what they mean by a "focus on onshore North American projects". They had all but abandoned conventional exploration plays onshore. Easy to guess they'll plow the money into the shale gas plays but only time will tell. But I have heard that they are ramping back up the SG rig count faster then anyone had thought they would.

Have you heard anything about production problems with Thunder Horse? I heard, from someone whom I believe to be a credible source, that they have had problems with rising water cuts almost from day one, because of very high vertical perm. The number I was given was that crude oil production, at least for a while, was down to 60,000 bpd (as you know, we need to differentiate between barrels of oil equivalent and crude oil).

I asked Euan about it at ASPO, and although he said he had not heard anything to confirm or refute the story, he did say that the reservoir had very high perm, basically unconsolidated sand, instead of sandstone.

WT -- I've heard similar rumors. But you know how stories slide around in the oil patch...especially when lubricated with a few beers.

Little Geology question..

Is 'Consolidated Sand' still somehow distinct from sandstone, or is it the same thing?


jokuhl -- Consolidated sand usually refers to a rock that is hard...bang it slightly with a hammer and it doesn't break. Many of the shallow oil/NG fields in the Gulf Coast are unconsolidated sand reservoirs. Look at it funny and it falls apart into individual sand grains. These unconsolidated sand reservoirs will hold together fairly well as long as they are just producing oil/NG and you're not producing at too high a rate. But when water production begins the sand is typically carried into the production tubimg and will stop the flow completely in time. We call it "sanding up". You can clean the tubing but the problem will usually repeat. We have techniques to glue the sand together but they don't usually work to well. Even when its a small amount of sand and doesn't plug the tubing it can be very abrasive and damage production equipment via "sand blasting".

Rockman, I find that very interesting. I have a friend who has been in Saudi, working for Aramco, for the last 19 years. He told me that in Safaniya, where he works, they get a lot of sand coming up with the oil there. He told me that about two years ago and I did not think much of it at the time. I will see him again in January and ask him then how big a problem it really is.

Ron P.

Interesting Ron. Typically once the sand flows it almost impossible to stop. You might do a workover and clean the sand out and then have it plug again a few weeks later even if you did cut your production rate back. Makes me wonder what the initial cause was: water production or pulling the wells too hard. One of the big gains from horizontal well completions in unconsolidated sands was the ability to pull the wells very hard. The horizontal completion systems tend to act like filters which kept the sand from flowing into the tubing. I've seen more then one gas well blow wild after produced sand cut a hole in the top of the well head. If you ever seen films of steel plates being cut with sand laden water at high pressure you know what I mean.

*IF* this is the problem at Thunderhorse, is the best solution to drill new wells and produce them at a much more moderate rate ?



Tough to answer Alan. New wells cost a good bit. A damaged well can still be profitable even at lower then anticipated flow rates. It might also recover most of the originally anticipated reserves though over a longer time span. As a general rule you'll stick with a wounded well as long as you feel you'll get the recovery eventually. It goes back to that "net present value" metric we've chatted about before. New wells might increase the flow rate but the NPV gain could be small or even negative. OTOH, offshore operational expenses are high and stretching production out too much longer then the original plan can impact NPV negatively a good bit. Another consideration is that you typically have to shut a platform in when you drill a new well. Not always but it's a saftey issue. If you have damaged wells the last thing you want to do is shut them in. A well might be doing only half of the 20,000 bopd you had planned for. But shut it in for a month or two and it might come back on only at a small fraction of what it was producing before you shut it in. Been there...done that...and suffered for it.

Thanks for all this info, Rockman.

It's so helpful to see how some of this plays out at the detail level, even if it's just a tiny sliver of the whole process, it helps characterize the kind of situation you guys get into out there.


Interestingly, oil companies I worked for discovered that if they took the sand filters off the heavy oil wells and produced all the sand they could, they got far more oil production than they expected.

Eventually this got to be a recognized oil production technique called Cold Heavy Oil Production with Sand (CHOPS). There's a lot of theory around this involving wormholes opening up in the formation along which oil can flow.

In some cases the oil contained over 30% sand, but any oil is good oil. The only difficulty was sand disposal, but that's a solvable problem.

One would think that in Saudi Arabia adding a little more sand to the desert would not be a serous issue.

Rocky -- Are you familiar with progressive cavity pumps? I've never used one but they are designed to handle high sand loads. I saw one S TX go from a 60% run time with ESP's to a 95% run time with PCP's. Sand disposal can be a problem but once a friend used the sand to pave all his lease roads with asphalt. Nicest lease you ever saw. And the roads costs less then disposal.

Oh, yes, I know about progressive cavity pumps. I think about half the ones in the world are found in oil fields in Alberta and Saskatchewan. They're weird things, but they are awfully good at pumping large amounts of sand, and can pump gravel if they have to.

We used to dispose of sand by paving lease roads, and county roads, too. Once they realized the oil companies would do their road maintenance for them, the county governments were all in favor of it.

I designed a program to track the amount of sand going onto different stretches of road because the government drilled cores to see how thick the roads were getting. They wanted a nice even thickness on all of them, and they didn't want us to raise them 10 feet, which sometimes did happen.

Devon is selling their Gulf of Mexico properties so they can concentrate on shale gas and oil sands (notably their Jackfish in-situ project):


It appears that the cost of GOM drilling is getting to the point where oil sands look downright cheap.

From the Fatih Birol interview:

I think it is important to bear in mind that peak oil is not just about supply; it implies a peak in demand too. Price is the key that will balance both. It is our view that higher prices will be needed to allow supply to rise as we need to exploit more difficult and costly resources

As I have already said, we do not project total oil production (including crude oil, natural gas liquids and unconventional oil) globally to peak before 2030 in either of our scenarios – provided that adequate investments are made in exploration and development.

Basically, there is plenty of energy as long as we can afford it, (and have enough energy to get it out...).

IMO, courses in ecology and biophysical economics should be required for any national or planetary energy watchdog agency employee.

I think that they have already come as much out of the closed as they can / are allowed to. Double leaks, several warnings, several "misquotes".

Wish I could say the same for EIA or OPEC or UN or many other orgs.

In general public officials don't do as much as IEA has now done in talking the truth. Sure, it's still very much veiled and between the lines, but it's there.

The fervent denial of "no peak before 2030 if we invest" does sound like a get-away clause, though. Whatever happens they can always claim: "you didn't invest enough!"

It'd also be nice to see them do a 12-man 1-year study on all liquid fuels EROEI, scaling, costs/GDP and envinronmental costs. But I ain't holding my breath for that :)

They (IEA) do get the rebound issue finally though, which is a slight imporovement on the "efficiency alone will solve everything" stance that is so prevalent in the industry:

"Therefore, we clearly state in our Outlook that governments must take deliberate action to avoid such rebound effects by giving appropriate price signals to consumers: setting efficiency targets alone are not enough to achieve climate goals.

Now, which politician is going to get harsh limits through to voters is beyond me.

The more I think about this, the more I'm biased to believe that a crash is *the* solution, not something we should avoid.

Only deep enough pain causes trauma and long-lasting behavioural changes.

Then again, I know I'm biased.

P.S. How badly do you think the neo-classical mish-mash model of economics steering has to fail, before biophysical or ecological economics start to get integrated in the thinking? Doesn't look very hopeful as of yet. Looks more of the same to me, just remember to wear a pseudo-Friedmanian hat during booms and a pseudo-Keynesian hat during busts.

Interesting comment on the interview…
Could there be a clash between Birol (Chief-Economist) who has been talking a lot about Peak Oil in some recent interviews and Richard Jones?? (Deputy Executive Director, and… former assistant of Paul Bremer in Iraq...)

2. the guardian article is just internal politics! in august birol tells the independent, peak oil in 10 years! (everyone is alarmed, articles everywhere). a few weeks later he tells david strahan that he was misquoted or misunderstood by the independent (yea, sure), peak oil is back to 2030! (my guess? one of his bosses told him to fix that- and he only has 2 bosses at the IEA… exec.dir. nobuo tanaka and dep.exec.dir richard jones)
and now a day before the weo 09 is published, the guardian quotes a “senior iea official” that says the US (aka richard jones in the IEA) distorted IEA forecasts! what an odd coincidence… just a power struggle between birol and jones!
Posted by: mike | November 16 9:49am | Report this comment

Lionel...is there a reason why you are posting under two different screen names here?

Also, you need to close your blockquote tags. The reason your post looks funny is because you are using

<blockquote> <blockquote>

instead of

<blockquote> </blockquote>

Leanan, I post(ed) also with two names. The reason I gave was that I use two different computers (one at work and one at home). I still have to answer why (after the reply of someone that that is a bad excuse): I didn't know the password when I wanted to leave a comment, and after that I left it that way.

You couldn't just use the password retrieval function?

You couldn't just use the password retrieval function?

Yes, would have been better. I will do that from now on, so goodbye with my other I.

Lionel...is there a reason why you are posting under two different screen names here?

How'd you know?

The goofy formatting.

This is just bureaucratic CYA double-talk. "I would be rich if I weren't so short of money!"

These days, I just assume that I'm being lied to (or at least, deliberately misled).

"As I have already said, we do not project total oil production (including crude oil, natural gas liquids and unconventional oil) globally to peak before 2030 in either of our scenarios – provided that adequate investments are made in exploration and development."

This ones struck me as particularly hilarious.

It reminded me of the old Groucho Marx line,

"Why, this is so simple a five-year-old child could understand it! [aside] Go find me a five-year-old child; I can't make heads or tails of it."

He confidently projects no peak before 2030. But that projection requires massive investment which elsewhere he has said is unlikely.

What a jokester!

I should note that the veritable BBC SF series "Doctor Who" is now officially peak oil aware. In last night's special, set in 2059, the doctor made reference to "the oil apocalypse".

Catch'um young.

Science fiction in general has been peak aware since forever. I strongly suspect a bit of effort could find references to peak oil and other such limits going all the way back to the '60's.

Depending on how broadly you define science fiction the genre has been existence for up to 2000 years. Don't recall any stories or novels through the 1950s involving resource limits, invariably in the future we'd power our cars and spaceships with vaguely defined "atomic piles." Frank Herbert did write a novella in the late 50s that involved nations using submarines to hijack each other's oil supplies: The Dragon in the Sea - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Frank was quite ahead of the curve in regards to matters like resource limits and ecology though. Under the influence of LTG and the environmental movement you had a whole raft of stories with ecological themes in the 70s. Still don't recall anything centered around the fallout from oil depletion specifically. There are dystopian worlds but they seem to be in the wake of diseases or nuclear wars. There are thematic indexes of SF stories that might reveal more. The party line to this day is that we have the technology, an energy transition might become the backstory to a period of what Heinlein termed "Craziness" in his future history, but we pick up the pieces thereafter. Even Star Trek posits WWIII in the coming decades, before we build that test ship the Vulcans detect. Engage...

One of my old favorites is Heinlein's 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress', where the Penal Colony on the Moon rises up in revolt against the Earth, largely because the required grain shipments from the moon are leaching both precious water and the NPK Nutrients (TOTO!!) that once sent downhill will never make their way back up to 'Luna' ..

It's all about resource awareness and enlightened self-rule (Heinlein was fairly deeply Libertarian, which as Thom Harttman (? Sp) describes it, 'Republicans who want to smoke pot and get laid'.

"People think if you put honest numbers into a computer you'll get honest numbers out. I did too, until I met a computer with a sense of humor.."

Ah. Never cared much for Heinlein's writing but that's interesting that he was addressing that, I'll look for ultra cheap copy at the Goodwill. I see it came out in 1966, thought it was a bit earlier.

"Hartmann." I think he lifted that dig from someone else. Funny thing is Thom's a rather spasmodic speaker, along with a pretty awful sense of humor, and I always thought a bit of pot might help his broadcasting skills...

Funny coincidence, I was just moments ago revisiting E.M. Forster's short story, "The Machine Stops." Quite apropos for TOD.

Greer uses that story as a touchstone on occasion: The Archdruid Report: The End of the Information Age.

I remember The Space Merchants, Pohl and Kornbluth
I was a teenager when I read it and I still remember them riding trixis or something pedal powered, nearly no oil, colonies in Antartida, growing monstrous tumors of muscle for food. Wiki says it was about advertising but I remember very little of that.

Just to be clear, what's happened is that at least one of the two writers Russell T Davies and Phil Ford has decided to put a peak oil statement into an episode of the series.

(I don't think it matters much in this case, but one of my pet annoyances is when people ascribe a single world-view to multi-person entities. It's more of a serious error in figuring out tactics when people say things like "The BBC's view on peak oil..." or "The Telegraph's view on peak oil..." as if there is such a single view maintained by the "entity".)

I've been a huge Dr. Who fan since the Tom Baker days. In my opinion David Tennant has been a very fine Doctor, and I'm hard-pressed to say which one (Baker or Tennant) is the more quintessential. I'm very sad that Tennant is moving on and leery about his replacement, though to be fair, I'm always leery of any new Doctor incarnation. Science fiction is a profound way for the human race to re-imagine itself, technologically, societally, ethically. (There's no way for us to change unless we can first imagine that it's possible.) What I've always liked about Dr. Who is its use of humor and the fact that it's not always dystopian. (Same goes for Star Trek.) The special last night--where was it broadcast? Can we see it in the US yet?

Broadcast in the UK. Shown on BBC America in Dec, or at your nearest torrent about 30 mins after it finished showing last night.

More money worries in Ukraine:


Thankfully we in the UK have a diverse and robust energy policy to see us through winter...doh!!

De Vasconcelos said the cartel may leave production unchanged at its next scheduled discussion in Luanda on December 22, "but there is a provision for an increase" in production.

"This situation will be discussed" at the December meeting, he added.

This reminds me of their frequent promises to increase production during 2007 and 2008; promises unkept, IMO, because they have peaked and cannot do so.

Peak gold - nice parrallel with oil

Actually not quite the same, however, since gold does continue to 'well up' from the earth. It does, though, point out the fallacy that the non-biologic oil people neglect to mention. Like gold, if oil is welling up, it would be doing so very V E R Y slowly, and hence peak oil, like peak gold, would not change much for a few hundred million years.

Plus the fact that we get to 'Eat our Gold and Have it to'.. it's not burned away.

We won't be running out of those rocks, we'll just keep fighting over them.

Actually jokhl we do seem to be running out of those rocks. I was never interested in gold mining but recent articles I've seen indicate that remaining inground gold assets may be more like the Canadian tar sands: there are resources to be had but it will cost a good bit more to produce. I don't recall the exact numbers but currently mined gold ore has a content that's only a small fraction of what has been mined in the past. Perhaps there are Ghawar-style gold mines out there which are just waiting to fall off the prodcution grid. Heck...there are billions of ounces of gold in sea water...all you have to do is spend a ton of money to recover it...just like the tar sands and the shale gas plays.

Point taken.

I was just saying that the ones we've already got aren't getting consumed as fuel. Of course there is a still a very good bit of gold treated more 'expendably' in the electronics, optics and I'd suppose other hi-end metals industries.

And of course, my old counter to the 'The stone age didn't end..' line is that, in fact, the stone age doesn't seem to have ended at all. We're just doing a lot more to shape the stones before we throw them at one another, and smash and cut things with them.

But I'm quibbling..

"The Stone Age didn't end because we ran out of rocks..."
Some Saudi oil official

But we know that's exactly what happened. The "rocks" of the Stone Age were the high grade obsidian and chert used to make tools and weapons. They were traded thousands of miles and in fact they got hard to find. The RROEI (Rocks Returned on Energy Invested) reached uncomfortable levels, spurring investigation into metallurgy. Probably the previous practice of using naturally occurring copper nuggets flattened into decorative doo-dads was the jumping off point.

Boy. You really do learn something here every day.. and then beyond that, there's not a point to be made that won't elicit a counterpoint. I need to hang out with more flakes and goodnatured knuckleheads again! This is too exhausting..

Ah, I just get a kick out of pointing out that the Saudi minister's fatuous comment, meant to obfuscate the issue of light,sweet crude depletion, is actually a reference to an ancient resource peak. An exact parallel. Couldn't resist.

Peak rocks (end of the Stone Age), peak antelope (had to get serious about this agriculture stuff), peak soil more than once (in which the Fertile Crescent became the Great Iraqi Desert and the grain fields of Rome became the Sahara), peak trees (in the greatest contemporary maritime empire, 18th century France, it took 1000 acres of old growth forest to build an ocean going ship and 600 years to grow the trees), peak whales (19th century, well analyzed here).... we are treading in the footsteps of history.

I think Phoenician shipbuilders and copper smelters devastated the eastern Mediterrainian shoreline and islands of wood also. Pre-Greek times.

I think the big problem in the Stone Age was not Peak Rocks but Peak Mammoths.

Imagine you're a stone-age mammoth hunter, you've got a huge collection of mammoth spears, you've got four wives, scores of kids and hundreds of relatives, and you're killing a mammoth a week to feed them all.

And then, suddenly, no mammoths? No, it couldn't be. There must be more mammoths out there, somewhere...

I'm not so certain that chert has disappeared. Its very common. Perhaps you meant flint? Of which I think is a form of chert or both are a form of silica.

I can go about 100 miles and find a whole ridge of flint. A good friend of mine is a paleontologist/geologist and as teenagers we delved into much rock hound areas. Finding all kinds of fossils mostly. He ended up having an extremely good collection and much better than some Universities.

Right now he is on several digs and one is near where I speculate much flint is obtainable.

Yet around here the Native Americans used creek bed rocks, mostly chert for tool and weapon making. I have some number locally collected in my desk. A beautiful hide scraper and much more. Made out of about what one could find in a flowing creek and smoothed very nicely by the water action.

Obsidian I admit can be rare except in certain areas. None around here. Its formed I understand by volcanic activity.

I once went to PowWows locally and watching knappers turning out good points in very short periods of time. They were always trading various stone and minerals constantly.

I doubt that Peak Flint has occurred as yet. But due to farming much that was easier spotted in many locales has now been covered by silt and erosion. Where my uncle showed me as a boy he picked up many points is now totalled out for that. We walked over it and he could barely recognize the spots.

Plowing has also knocked down the hills where Indian knappers worked at near the creek banks. Plowing has also destroyed much pottery and other artifacts. I live near several mounds and have walked over them over the years. Each year they become flatter and flatter. Hard to tell whats down there and I do not disturb them but the plowing, both bottom and chisel has rendered them invisible.



That flint was still available in North America was't much use to the Europeans and Asians who developed metal technolgy.

You might consider that the edge of an obsidian knife is far sharper than any edged metal object.

Used in surgery these days to some extent I understand. Perhaps a micron?

The flenseing tool I have is very well shaped for its purpose. The end held in the palm is worn extremely well by the users. When needed some more knapping restores the edge.

Some spelling errors above which my spell checker fails on..Peak Dictionary?

This tool is made of a stone that I can find enormous cousins to in nearby creeks and by the rivers.

I can also walk down to a creek on my property and dig good clay. Some right on the top of the banks.

Having access to water,clay and stones are essential. One might say 'the EROEI is minimal or very high' depending on definitions. The total Input is the walk and the knapping. The output is a very good tool.

Same as making baskets out of honeysuckle vines. Etc etc.....


Kunstler: The Fate of the Yeast People

What might we do about overpopulation here in the USA? Legislate a one-child policy? Set up an onerous set of bureaucratic protocols forcing citizens to apply for permission to reproduce? Direct the police to shoot all female babies? Use stimulus money to build crematoria outside of Nashville?

It's certainly true that the planet is suffering from human population overshoot. We're way beyond "carrying capacity." Only the remaining supplies of fossil fuels allow us to continue this process, and not for long, anyway. In the meantime, human reproduction rates are also greatly increasing the supply of idiots relative to resources, and that is especially problematic in the USA, where idiots rule the culture and polity.

If only we could sterilize those "NASCAR morons", the man sounds like a left wing Sangeroid or a mirror image of those white supremacists of the early 20th except this time he wants to sterilize the big hair SUV driving proles before they overwhelm his gilded civilization. I certainly get a kick out of Ol' Jim and his version of supremacy, especially his ability to turn a phrase. A couple questions of the learned and thoughtful posters here, how large an audience does he really have and could he physically survive giving his "yeast people" presentation to any group of the ACORN wing of the Democratic party?

I enjoy his rants also, but the reality is that if he was speaking like this about any ethnic category other than white/Christian males, his site would probably be boycotted by the politically correct branch of TOD. He appears to take pains to avoid even commenting on the female partners of this great unwashed mass of white male humanity, so as to not offend or upset the college circuit applecart. OTOH he is a skilled and amusing writer-nobody is perfect.

If he were a better writer he could be in the class with Madison Grant or Lothrop Stoddard. (Stoddard btw wrote the best tome on Nazi Germany ever written "Into the Darkness") I've tried to get Jimbo some publicity with the right wing radio bleaters, perhaps he will get lucky and become one of their smaller targets of their manufactured rage. Then the Kossaks can rally round their Yeastmaster, and he can raise he speaking fees, and Bubba the Beer Sponge can become a bullet point on some political hack's Power Point presentation, and all will be happy.

OK, you've almost got me.

If you could turn Hannity and Colmes(?), into Hannity and Kunstler, and promise that the gloves would be off.. you might have a TV show I'd have to check out every now and then!

Otherwise, I think these rants you are pointing to are sad. (Sad of Kunstler, not you..) They are, in fact the same cheap shots that keep a Hannity or an O'Reilly or Limbaugh getting the attention they get, and hence doing all the good that they do! (Which is to say none.. their supposed roles as truthtellers become victims to that bit of cheeseball marketing strategy that got them this attention initially.. and the same goes for JHK, I believe)

I am with you Existentialist. Far better that their children, and our children, should die in the gutter from starvation. After all, that is God’s way of limiting the population and we are God loving and God fearing people. How dare anyone discus compulsory birth control.

Anyone who thinks birth control should ever be compulsory is a freedom hating Socialists Nazi.

In the arrangements of nature, freedom is relegated to an operational position that is secondary in importance to survival…. In a competitive world of limited resources, total freedom of individual action is intolerable.
- Garrett Hardin, The Ostrich Factor, page 140

Ron P.

Oh piffle to your PC, you won't find a bigger proponent of genetic research and how to apply it to human evolution on this board than me. I simply have no use for PC of any stripe, but I do have some sensitivity to the emotional weaknesses of your average strung out person who with one semester of Sociology on their resume and a constant bombardment of hysteria simply cannot get off the script without a near breakdown.

"...you won't find a bigger proponent of genetic research and how to apply it to human evolution on this board than me." Existentialtribalist

I've heard about that. Didn't they used to call it Eugenics?

The study and practice of selective breeding applied to humans, with the aim of improving the species. Widely popular in the early decades of the 20th century, it has largely fallen into disrepute after having become associated with Nazi Germany.


Thank you Joe, but may I recommend the rejoinder for your use next time "anaziwhowantstokillsixmillionmorejews." What I do find ironic is that amongst the Evolutionists for lack of better words a hearty disdain bordering on superstition for genetic research, while amongst the wordist book thumpers often times a fascnination with animal breeding but a complete aversion towards thinking that doing so is just a sped up Evolution. And Joe I wrote genetic research not Eugenic hypothesizing, that was done by a few cranks not unlike the cranks who today propose that we use mirrors to block the sun's rays from destroyingalllifeasweknowit. Movie recomendation "Gattica"

existential - I don't think the problem is with human evolution. Humans are an opportunistic species and meet all criteria of being "fit"; able to adapt to almost any terrestrial environment. But if you took an estimate of the weight of humans and their cattle it would exceed 98% of the charismatic species on the planet. The problem is that our success is overwhelming the earth.

How do you use evolutionary genetic engineering in order to address issues of reducing the biotic potential of humans while navigating the sphere of political and religious hubris? It is my conviction that the elites are quite aware of overpopulation and rising affluence with all of the attendant threats. What do they intend to do with that knowledge? Feed the poor and create a more equitable distribution system?


Darned good questions, I dunno, and I'll leave it at that, going to go deer hunting now and will have to solve those problems later.

"Poor" is a permanently self-replenishing resource, as not only can it effectively reproduce amongst itself it can also spontaneously emerge from other populations.

The poor need not always be among us. Poor is relative. Eat the rich and no one will be poor. Who was poor ten thousand years ago?

What good do the rich do? Especially the 'deserving rich', entrepeneurs-become-barons of industry. They've done nothing but accelerate the rise in entropy. Render them into scented soap and fertilizer, I say.

Is there any evidence that from an evolutionary perspective our species has any hope of survival in other that a hunter and gatherer mode? I've not seen any and can only conclude that my genes can only survive, long-term, by a re-emergent hunting and gathering system.

If I'm caught with rich folks in my rendering pot, I shall be calling upon Richard Dawkins to present expert evidence in my defence.

so toil...are we to assume your paycheck is written by a poor man? And your kids go to a school financed by the taxes paid by the poor? I think you get my point. I've known more then a few rich buttholes in my life. I've also known quit a few poor ones too. Likewise some of the finest and most horonable folks I've ever crossed paths with were rich. And more then many would suspect, many of the kindest folks who shared with me didn't have much to begin with. Maybe I'm just luckier then you as I've spent my life split between these two worlds.

Not everybody can be rich, but everybody can be poor. Assuming we've taken birth control off the table, population will always grow to consume all available resources and then some, and all you have left is war, disease, or starvation.

Malthus wasn't wrong, just a bit early in the cycle.

Everybody can't be poor. Poor is relative. Everybody can do without..., but everbody can't be poor.

On the basis of what evidence do you repeat the 'pop will always grow and then misery blah blah' line. Always?

"Monsanto Kids (TM)" anyone? (shudder)

In so many ways, numbers matter. Every "oppressed" minority knows that growth in population fraction equals growth in power. There are examples on this on many scales -- large, like Christian vs Muslim; medium, such as Mexican immigrants vs California; or small, such as town mayors going from white to black to Hispanic over the course of a few decades.

I wonder if this is part of the push to power-down the West -- you have a small and slowly growing population of high-consumers plus a large and rapidly growing world of increasing consumptive low-consumers. Today if you cut back the US by 50% you save the teeming masses for another 20 years, and that seems popular and easy versus conquering population growth.

But in reality it's not Population X or Consumption Y, but X * Y integrated around the world and across decades. That product MUST and WILL come down, and rapid population control is the only way it won't be a terrible process.

But, of course, for the disenfranchised to participate in population control you at best would need to give them lower cuts, so as to ensure relative growth, or you'd have to force them, or simple kill them. AFAIK, nobody has ever managed the former, only China succeeded with the middle option, and history says the latter works just fine. Untimely death it will be, then?

Huxley's "Brave New World" comes to mind as does the movie "Gattica", neither being nirvanna or utopia but about the best to be hoped for with what we can discern from what we know at this point in time.

"Logan's Run"

...it may be too easy to come up with a list in the hundreds, thousands if aggregate television, books, and movies.

"logan's run" is based on the concept that the young were outnumbering the old. in reality the old are outnumbering the young. a new movie should be made called "logan's walker".


Meh? In "Logan's Run" there were no old. Period.

Hit 30, your gem flips, get recycled.

in the book the, which is a very different story, it is explained.

I don't think I ever even saw a copy of the book, and I was a voracious SF reader at that age.

Therefore, I doubt most people will have a clue what you are talking about if you refer to the story from the book.

The first book was actually quite popular. Popular enough to spawn at least two sequels, which were not quite as successful. (I read them all as a kid.)

In the book, it was 21 when your gem starting flashing, and your life was over. The idea reflected both the rise of the young at the time - "never trust anyone over 30," etc. - and the concerns about overpopulation.

It's really surprising how edgy '60s and '70s entertainment was, compared to now. At least when it comes to population issues. Remember that Trek Classic episode, "The Mark of Gideon"? It involved a world so overcrowded that its leader was trying to unleash a plague on his own people to reduce the population. His plan was to keep Kirk as a source of the pathogen, and sacrifice his own daughter as an example. The "happy ending" is that Kirk goes free, and the beautiful blond daughter is saved by McCoy and lives - to serve as the source of the pathogen instead. The plans for population reduction via disease continue.

Can you imagine the reaction that would get today?

Did I miss something?
I went back and re-read JKs post and didn't see anything about sterilization. You un-necessarily attribute to him things he doesn't say.
There is some irony that he attracts some real Tea Party-ish folks over there. I personally avoid commenting on his un-moderated blog where verbal bomb throwing and insult is the standard. Makes me appreciate TOD for its discussions even more.
gotta love this reference- "yeast shaman figures such as Sarah Palin and Glen Beck".
But this less sneary sentence says alot about JK's perception (and humanity)- "It's a sad and tragic process and, all lame metaphors aside, there are real human feelings at stake in our prospects for loss of every kind, but especially in the fate of people we love.

You missed nothing. This board is full of people with reading disorders.

Thanks,GetAbike,you seem to be one of the few posters above who have read and understood Kunstler's "Yeast People" in it's entirety.He does not advocate eugenics or anything like it.

JHK is always worth a read,not only for the colourful language,but for the good ideas he has.He doesn't seem to moderate the comments.I don't read them and they don't need to be read.

Thx, thirra.
Sometimes reading unpleasant things is useful- It is one way to take the pulse of Amerika- kind of like trying to listen to talk radio.
There was a great commentor today, Laura Louzader, who very eloquently reminded the other posters that they shouldn't be so smug about collapse- as if THEY would be the only survivors.
Anyway, look her up on CFN comments about 1/3 the way down or her blog at

Indeed, he starts out by saying there's nothing we can do about overpopulation.

I think what people are responding to is the term, "The Yeast People," and the tone which suggests he's above them. Of course, he is one of them. Almost all of us are, as he defines it: people born after WWII.

Yep, and Jk, much as I love him, is a bit of an elitist.
Yes, we are all Yeast and though some might disagree, in this vat together.

Pointing out the obvious about people is taken in many quarters as placing ones self above them.

Because nobody would say anything so unflattering about their own family, would they?

What I find interesting is how some individuals view the US as a major contributor to the overpopulation issue. The fertility rate in the US is barely breakeven I think it is around 2.1-2.2. If it wasn't for immigration the population of the US would be either falling or close to it. Gathering everyone together in high density urban areas is entirely sufficient to drop fertility rates below 2. To stabalize the US population all we would need to do is to make a decent attempt to close the borders. This would cause great upheaval by many areas of the economy affecting both the left and the right. So we will continue the status quo.

paro - the larger problem is not necessarily overpopulation. Rising affluence is a much greater threat to planetary limits than population. The U.S. uses something like 25% of the resources of the Earth. With 4% of the world's population it appears that Americans are 25% of the problem.


So if we have a lower standard of living we can have more people. If we have fewer people we can have a higher standard of living. Flip a coin on whether population or affluence is the bigger problem.

Experts worry about another food crisis

The economic crisis helped knocked down food prices last year from record highs. But many agricultural experts warn another food crisis could be on its way as the global economy recovers.

Report: More Americans Go Hungry

The number of Americans who lack dependable access to adequate food shot up last year to 49 million, the largest number since the government has been keeping track, according to a government report released Monday that shows particularly steep increases in food scarcity among families with children.

and here's the actual report: Household Food Security in the United States, 2008 (USDA)

Bert -- No doubt there are many who lack what they need. But the 49 million is a little much to accept. Maybe it's just the way they define the stat. That would be one out of six Americans. I volunteer in some of the poorest school districts in Houston and see no where near that percentage who look like they are missing many meals. But I do see a whole generation of kids who are suffering from very poor nutritional choices. Perhaps that's what the stat is more reflecting: not so much a lack of food but very poor choices being made as to what to eat. I've worked a little in Africa not too long ago and I know first hand how ugly malnutrition can look. I can't remember a single person I've seen in the last 6 months who looked liked they were hungry.

Well, if the consensus is that overpopulation is a bad thing, hunger, the first step to fixing that, should be greeted with joy, no?

Story linked on Drudge about the "Ukrainian Flu" possibly being a new mutation:


I find this comment most ironic:

President Yushchenko said: “People are dying. The epidemic is killing doctors. This is absolutely inconceivable in the 21st Century.”

WTF, does idiot Yuschenko not grasp the fact that doctors (or any other humans for that matter), are not any more immune to being killed off by a newly evolved pathogen in the 21st Century than they might have been at some time in the past.

Welcome to reality!

Oh, but our knowledge and technology have surely saved our sorry asses in the past, There is no possible way to imagine that a Black death Swan could surprise us and do us in.

Maybe it's time for people in positions of leadership to start conceiving of the previously inconceivable. Then again maybe we'll get lucky and a virus will come along that wipes out only delusional morons.

I think that there is a large amount of internal politics attached to the story. From the Kyiv Post

"There is a saying in Ukraine: the active idiot is better than the lazy philosopher. And it now looks like people will vote for Tymoshenko simply because she is taking action on this flu issue, which has completely dominated public discussion," said political analyst Volodymyr Tsybulko. "No one much cares that Tymoshenko was the one who created the issue she is acting upon."

The situation does not appear (outside of the political spin) to yet be that bad

The World Health Organization, which sent a mission to Kiev on Nov. 2 at the urgent request of Tymoshenko's health minister, concluded on Friday that "the numbers of severe cases do not appear to be excessive when compared to the experience of other countries." Vasily Lazorishnets, Ukraine's Deputy Health Minister, said there have been a total of 166 confirmed cases of swine flu in Ukraine, including 15 deaths, but he stressed that the total number of deaths from the flu of all types in 2009 has so far been lower than in previous years. Ukraine plans to stockpile 950,000 doses of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu, far more than it has had on hand in previous flu seasons. Meanwhile pharmacies have sold out of flu medicines and surgical masks across Ukraine.

Of course it depends on which side that is doing the spinning.

The situation does not appear (outside of the political spin) to yet be that bad

In the USA there were ~3,000 hospitalizations from H1N1 reported last week (pop ~300,000,000).
In the Ukraine there were ~25,000 hospitalizations from H1N1 reported last week (pop ~40,000,000).

So 300,000,000 / 40,000,000 gives us a factor of 7.5.

25k * 7.5 = ~187,500 hospitalizations/week (if the USA had the same rate as Ukraine). Of course, bad is a subjective term.

Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.


PS, good comment over at Countercurrents FM. I had to stop myself taking that conversation any further, once the troops had started rallying for the higher purposes behind enlightened pedantry.

'You've got to know when to hold'em, Know when to fold'em.. Know when to walk away, Know when to run..'

Fezzik: I just don't think it's right, killing an innocent girl.
Vizzini: Am I going MAD, or did the word "think" escape your lips? You were not hired for your brains, you hippopotamic land mass.

I'll walk ;-)

Retail sales surge...but it's mostly autos. Non-auto sales were lower than expected.

Pittsburgh wants to tax college students.

State police are stretched: "What's hurt us and what's hurt a lot of state patrols is this rural sprawl. People are moving to the country… most of those places in the country don't have their own police departments."

Money Trickles North as Mexicans Help Relatives: Instead of illegal immigrants sending money south to Mexico, some families in Mexico are sending money north, because their family member in the States can't find a job.

It must be Monday, with all the posts and all the news in the negative.

the item on the double wammy included:

"A better than expected Christmas season would do a lot to lift worries hanging over the economy. But with credit tight, unemployment high and consumers who have jobs saving more, some worry retail sales will disappoint. "

But for some reason the financial world does not understand how consumers relate to the economy as jobholders. If jobs are down, what are all of those consumers going to use to increase their holiday spending? Credit? And, who exactly are they going to borrow from, using what for collateral?

I have spoken with some people who are relatively high up in the strata, and they really don't get it! And, what's more, they don't want to!

I was a good consumer today, and bought a string of C9 christmas lights, only to unscrew the Incandescents and put in these ..

with eleven of them in place (all that I own so far), my Kill-a-Watt meter told me I was getting 3watts of draw.. so low for that tester it's probably skewed, but not a bad start!

They're steep at $1.99 a pop, but they're dang pretty!

(I also bought a bunch of insulation and adhesive, so the gas wasn't all blown for decorations and fruffery.)

An on-line source got C9s & C7s (and night lights, LED car lights, etc.).


And their home page


Best Hopes,


But for some reason the financial world does not understand how consumers relate to the economy as jobholders. If jobs are down, what are all of those consumers going to use to increase their holiday spending? Credit? And, who exactly are they going to borrow from, using what for collateral?

Sure they do, that's why they have raised credit card APR rates above 29% especially for those that have lost their jobs. Hey if the schmucks won't buy stuff, they just sock it to them on their already existing outstanding debts. The banks are making money hand over fist with this strategy right now.

Of course when the masses default on all their credit card debt because they simply can't pay anymore then the banksters will just go to the Feds again hat in hand and ask for a tax payer funded bailout.

Unfortunately at some point that won't work anymore because people who don't have jobs don't pay income tax, people who don't buy stuff don't pay sales tax, people who don't drive anymore don't pay taxes on gasoline...etc...So the little house of cards they built will all come tumbling down.

Then the folks in the ivory towers of the financial world won't understand all the disgruntled people shouting "Off with their Heads, off with their heads!"

There will be a day of reckoning and a reality check too, though they might find it hard to cash!

I'm not a big fan of the slideshows, but I found this interesting:


It's a CNBC piece on cities with homes most underwater. Some communities are closer to the 90% reduction that AE predicts in home values than others.

degar7 - Thanks for the slide-show.

And topping the list is the fastest growing city in the U.S., Las Vegas, NV with 81.1% of the current homes owing more than the value of the homes.

Residential Developers really are a simple-minded group. All they looked at was previous rates of return and based development projects that often took years to bring to market. Market value was based on lofty appraisals which were based on sales over the prior six months. Hotel and Commercial Developers were even more simplistic in their calculations. They would take the vacancy factor for hotels and strip malls in Vegas (at the high point approaching 90%) and finance construction of thousands of new hotel rooms and Super-Centers.

If you thought the residential crisis was terrifying wait til' the commercial market hits the skids.


Joe thakns for replying. I agree with your commercial real estate fears.

But I was thinking along a different path. Consider this:


Foods stamps are now given to over 35 million americans. I hope it's not to much of a stretch, but as some around these parts have said for what is coming up on years now: why pay a mortgage that is upside down if you can not even pay for food. Now I know alot of those properties are second or third homes, but not all of them. My point is the continuing trajectory is not a good one.

One more thought (or question): Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought to qualify for food stamps you could not have liquid assets of over $1500. So at least 35 million people don't have 15 c-notes to rub together?? Scary stuff indeed.

So at least 35 million people don't have 15 c-notes to rub together??

That would not surprise me at all. 61% of US workers live paycheck to paycheck. If those paychecks stop, most people are in trouble within a month.

And it's not just the poor. Even people making six figures live paycheck to paycheck. They make more, but they spend more, too.

Currently over 13% (an 18% rise over 2007) live below the poverty line in the USA. Each day there are close to 4 million people who are homeless in America (including that poor relative on the couch). I'm not going to lose a lot of sleep over those poor yuppies suffering with $100,000+ per year however. They need a lesson in economics.


I enjoyed Dmitri Orlov's piece 'The Oceans are Coming'.

A high resolution version of the 1930 Modern Mechanix scheme to 'reclaim' the North Sea is here:


Of course if they did it now all those off-shore wind turbines would become 'on-shore' and people would grumble about having to live next to them.

Sobering piece, that. I looked at a contour map and 65 feet of sea level rise would put me able to pull up my dory and beach it at the bottom of my vegetable garden. Could be fun.

Of course, it would also turn most of town into a salt marsh, turn the economically productive bits into crab habitat, and undermine the remaining high ground. Not to mention the effects of severe weather on the coastline. Hard to ek out a living at that point, even if the vegetable garden survived.

Maybe not on topic, but very interesting from Thom Hartmann's blog:

In Strange News...
What's the world coming to when your $1.45 million bulletproof SUV with gold trim, a highly expensive Vertu cellphone and three bottles of premium vodka is no longer available with its whale-penis-skin interior? We have environmentalists and Pamela Anderson to thank for this. Dartz, the company that makes the armored luxury SUV for corporate CEOs, has scuttled the exotic material and has now put out a press release in all-caps "ARMORED CAR WITHOUT PENIS. LET'S SAVE THE WHALES." Ah, the sacrifices our very, very wealthy are making!


Forbes reports that North Dakota's oil production is expected to approach 350,000 barrels next year, an increase of more than 50 percent, because of a major pipeline expansion and the anticipated startup of a shipping terminal near Stanley (SXE) that will be able to haul 60,000 barrels a day by rail to refineries near Cushing, Okla.

The latest statistics for North Dakota oil production are for Sept, 2009. They report 238,003 barrels of oil per day. Production has been increasing by 5,000 to 10,000 barrels of oil per day each month. If this trend is continuing then November, 2009 production would be 248,000-258,000 barrels of oil per day and would be in the range of 255,000-265,000 barrels of oil per day at the end of 2009. Saskatchewan's Bakken oil is currently at 65,000 bpd.

Bakken oil production (Sask, ND, Montana) would be in the 500,000 barrel of oil per day range in 2011-2012 and onwards.

The 500,000 bpd is over 3 times what was coming from the Bakken two years ago and double the estimate of whether Bakken could move the needle for US production (Oildrum - piccolo projection).

465,000 bpd from Montana and ND would be 14 million barrels of oil per month.

US production of oil is 162 million barrels per month.

So over 8% of US oil production.

The oil production technology for the Bakken is still improving and they are talking about possibly getting to 30% of the oil in place. 400 billion barrels of oil in place. That would be 120 billion barrels. So the 6-8 billion barrels of reserves talk is a snapshot based on current technology.

167 billion barrels of oil in-place in the North Dakota portion of the Bakken and not including Three Forks Sanish oil.

Other news positive for more near term oil
- gulf of mexico oil - various deepwater projects
- Iraq oilfield development to 6-12 million barrels of oil per day
- nigeria settling down could allow 1-2 million barrels of oil per day
- Brazils oil
- Applying horizontal multifrac drilling to other old fields
- Thai/Capri and other tech that would help get a lot more oilsand oil

Yeah, yeah... and like I said at 2:30pm [or so]

Wow! 0.61% of what we need will come from just Bakken fields?

[that would be 500,000 bpd of the 82,000,000 bpd we need, based on present demand]

and, it will only take until 2015 get get it way up there, eh?

Consider, Bakken is a shallow play, and uses long horizontal drilling to boost production. That means it plays out fast, having a very abrupt Peak.

So, why is Forbes so excited? They are pumping up investment in Bakken for short term profits. In a few words, "Business as Usual." The end is coming, but in the meantime, there is a buck to be made!

Various reasons this is significance and could be very significant:

* Export Land Model would mean that more domestic oil is more important
* 8 billion barrels of reserves is $640 billion at $80/barrel
* 500,000 to 1 million bpd for 20-40 years would mean more time spin up other oil if needed (offshore california oil or Alaska oil)
* the 350,000 bpd estimate is for next year 2010
* Technology and process improvements suggest that the gains are not over in the Bakken.
1997 USGS estimate was 150 million total barrels of recoverable oil in the Bakken.
Last year USGS estimate was 3.5 billion barrels of oil.
New estimates (unofficial at 6-8 billion barrels)
Continued technological improvement for getting more in place oil (267 billion barrels not including Three Forks Sanish in North Dakota) out would be globally significant levels.
30% recoverability would mean 77 billion barrels of oil. three Forks Sanish could double in place oil.
* The same technology could be used to revive other old US oil fields

There are a few problems with such a plan for revival. A lot of old fields did not have enough casing set to isolate the primary zone you are now proposing to revive. If the wells were plugged, probably in a manner which would not protect that productive zone, or if the original casing deteriorated, revival will be suspect, since the older fields were drilled excessively anyway. Examples would be Cushing, East Texas and Healdton. Some other areas of old production, lest we get too gleeful about the potential for redevelopment, were around salt domes, and for the problems there, see the section on unconsolidated sands above. Except, many of these were simply protected sands under the folds of the salt domes, and when they lost their drive, could not be pumped - think quicksand. Candidates for redevelopment would be areas which were not in the "low hanging fruit" category, and thus mostly bypassed in original development, yet still containing Bakken quantities of original oil in place (OOIP) - there are not very many others, if any.

I have a lease on a very small area like this. There were 27 wells drilled, casing driven into a shale just above the big productive sand. Plugged with tree trunks circa 1933. Redrilled in about 1955. Waterflood tried, and 37 wells were plugged, out of the original 27 - probably plugged some mouseholes - and salt water still kept popping to the surface when waterflood was tried. All the waterflood era wells were plugged and in 1969, the redrilling started. Can't be frac'd, just lose the frac to old holes (drilled on 2 acre spacing). It still has a nice oil skim on top of the big sand, now a water sand. It had a roughly 130 acre productive area, is now developed in other sands but had two Ellenberger wells, both now plugged back to other zones. This is a microcosm of what is out there. It makes about 6 BO/D now, but most folks would have plugged it in the late 90's; I didn't have the money to plug it then.

Having said that, I hope you find a few fields which can be redeveloped. Just don't push the posted price too low and I will still cheer you on, OK?

Hope springs eternal -- that's how Zeus designed the curse.

So why don't you just pop off and quit the game then?

After all, there is no hope, tomorrow will be worse than today for everyone (including you), and there's no point in doing anything.

Darn nihilists.

So why don't you just pop off and quit the game then?

I can only speak for myself but since I'm a sadistic SOB, if I did that I wouldn't be able to annoy the living hell out of people who would wish me gone ;-)

So why don't you just pop off and quit the game then?

An excellent question, and one I consider daily.

The point of the essay is that we must give up delusional hope. It is delusional to believe that we can reverse the damage to the biosphere caused by the last 10,000 years of human population growth. The Holocene mass extinction event has accelerated to the point that we lose 36 football fields of rainforest every minute, 100 elephants every day, and 100 million sharks every year. Jeremy Jackson informs us that the oceans will be dead within 30 years -- they will be euxinic cesspools dominated by anaerobic microbes and jellies, with the neat side effect of belching gigatons of poisonous H2S into the atmosphere.

Once your mind is no longer clouded by hope, you can contemplate clearly these facts and the future of humanity. This is not nihilism; it is simple pragmatism. Fundamentally, the ecosystem services on which humans depend are being rapidly dismantled: predictable rainfall, accessible freshwater, survivable temperatures. We are left with only three choices: (1) gain control of the global carbon cycle; (2) learn to colonize the Wasteland Earth; (3) embrace extinction.

Personally, I very much want to see us choose (1), but it requires a total, species-wide dedication that seems unlikely, especially in an environment of declining energy and mineral resources.

That leaves colonizing the barren, destroyed Earth -- frankly, I have no interest in living in a domed city surrounded by endless desert and H2S-poisoned air. Or in a mineshaft.

Extinction is the default option, and humans are embracing it with a passionate intensity.

So for myself, I'll continue to work on waking people up. And every day I'll be glad that I don't have children.

They report 238,003 barrels of oil per day.

sept oil production of 238,003 bpd includes about 90,000 bpd from other zones. so an estimate for the bakken would be 148,000 bpd.
production has increased by about 4000 bpd per month for the first 9 months of '09. much of that increase is actually from '08 drilling because frac'ing operations all but shut down for about 5 months during the past winter. the rig count dropped some, i think the rig count got down to about 40.

it appears that you are taking excessively optimistic estimates from a conventional reservoir, canadian bakken, and applying it to all of the bakken.

the remainder of your post includes too many exaggerations to respond to at this time.

type at you later.

To be fair to our friend, I'm sure that the Bakken production helped slow the decline in US crude production from 2007 to 2008.

westexas, one could argue if that is an advantage. Yesterday was in the news that sales in the U.S. are up again, caused especially by rosen car sales. The big plane factories are expecting that orders will increase soon. All this trying to keep oil production from falling, means that later the crash could be faster.

Han -- And I suppose you expect the lemmings to wise up one day too? Just a friendly tease. As someone else pointed out: the US doesn't tend to respond to a pending disaster. We're much better at responding after the disaster strikes.

the US doesn't tend to respond to a pending disaster. We're much better at responding after the disaster strikes.

ROCKMAN, this counts for almost all countries.

This is what happens when a popular "science" writer writes about science. In Malcolm Gladwell's latest book:

An eclectic essayist is necessarily a dilettante, which is not in itself a bad thing. But Gladwell frequently holds forth about statistics and psychology, and his lack of technical grounding in these subjects can be jarring. He provides misleading definitions of “homology,” “sagittal plane” and “power law” and quotes an expert speaking about an “igon value” (that’s eigenvalue, a basic concept in linear algebra). In the spirit of Gladwell, who likes to give portentous names to his aperçus, I will call this the Igon Value Problem: when a writer’s education on a topic consists in interviewing an expert, he is apt to offer generalizations that are banal, obtuse or flat wrong.


Problem? What problem?