Drumbeat: December 11, 2009

Security fears limit Iraq oil bids

Iraq's bid to auction off oil exploration rights Friday showed companies are still reluctant to enter the country.

Only two of the eight fields on offer resulted in deals in the first day of the country's second oil auction this year. Five in regions still plagued by unrest were withdrawn and a sixth field drew only one bid.

U.S. natural gas rig climbs 9 to 757 for week

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the United States climbed nine this week to 757, according to a report on Friday by oil services firm Baker Hughes in Houston.

The U.S. natural gas drilling rig count has moved up sharply after bottoming at 665 on July 17, its lowest level since May 3, 2002, when there were 640 gas rigs operating.

Russia says close to deal with Norway over Arctic

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Friday it would welcome joint oil and gas works with Norway on the Barents Sea and a deal was possible next year to close a decades-long dispute between the two major energy producers.

Russia's resources ministry said in a statement Norway had proposed to sign a memorandum in the first half of next year after Russia proposed to jointly explore and produce energy in the disputed areas of the Barents Sea and the Arctic.

Gazprom, Uzbekistan coordinate gas transit, delivery terms of 2010

MOSCOW (Itar-Tass) -- Gazprom and Uztransgaz have signed a gas transit contract addition and specified terms of Uzbek gas deliveries in 2010, Prime Tass quoted a Gazprom report.

Gazprom and UzbekNefteGaz signed a strategic cooperation agreement in 2002. The deal stipulates long-term acquisition of Uzbek gas in 2003-2012, Gazprom’s participation in natural gas mining in Uzbekistan on production sharing terms, and cooperation in the development of Uzbek pipelines and transportation of Central Asian gas via Uzbekistan

Valero Bets on Biodiesel from Jatropha

Valero Energy, the largest American refiner, is taking another step towards building up its renewable fuel supplies. The San Antonio-based company on Friday agreed to a five-year deal with an Australian biofuel refiner to obtain biodiesel made from jatropha.

Gore’s carbon tax gets converts

Against this backdrop, another idea is gaining momentum, one that seems even more improbable: a carbon tax. Its proponents call it "Plan B," and it is predicated on the anticipated failure of cap-and-trade, along with a determination to press ahead and not let the naysayers win. Pushing a tax in the middle of an economic downturn seems counterintuitive, but Sarah Palin and the tea-party activists are already calling cap-and-trade "cap-and-tax." Elaine Kamarck, a former Gore adviser and co-chair of the Climate Task Force, which is promoting the tax, says her side decided it might as well tackle the issue head-on.

Regreening Africa

Though he cannot read or write, Sawadogo is a pioneer of a tree-based approach to farming that has transformed the western Sahel in recent years, while providing one of the most hopeful examples on earth of how even very poor people can adapt to the ravages of climate change.

...The tree-based farming that Sawadogo and hundreds of thousands of other poor farmers in the Sahel have adopted could help millions of their counterparts around the world cope with climate change. Already these practices have spread across vast portions of Burkina Faso and neighboring Niger and Mali, turning millions of acres of what had become semi-desert in the 1980s into more productive land. The transformation is so pervasive that the new greenery is visible from outer space via satellite pictures. With climate change, much more of the planet's land will be hot and arid like the Sahel. It only makes sense, then, to learn from the quiet green miracle unfolding there.

"This is probably the largest positive environmental transformation in the Sahel and perhaps in all of Africa," says Chris Reij, a Dutch geographer who has worked in the region for thirty years. Technically, these methods are known as "agro-forestry" or "farmer managed natural regeneration" (FMNR). Scientific studies confirm what Sawadogo already knows: mixing trees and food crops brings a range of significant benefits. The trees shade crops from overwhelming heat, act as windbreaks that protect young crops and help the soil retain moisture. When their leaves fall to the ground, they act as mulch, boosting soil fertility and providing fodder for livestock. In emergencies, people can even eat the leaves to avoid starvation. "In the past, farmers sometimes had to sow their fields four or five times because winds would blow the seeds away," says Reij, who advocates for FMNR with the zeal of a missionary. "With trees to buffer the wind and anchor the soil, farmers need sow only once."

Equally important, the zai and other water-harvesting techniques have helped recharge underground water tables. "In the 1980s water tables were falling by an average of one meter a year," Reij says. "Since FMNR and the water-harvesting techniques began to take hold, water tables have risen by five meters, despite a growing population." In some areas, the water table has risen by as much as seventeen meters.

Good Food: Who Can Afford It?

Although students took justifiable pride in their efforts, their blogs are by no means fawning paeans to the easy virtues of sustainability. To the contrary, what they did was taxing--often frustratingly so. Not only were the pitfalls of eating an environmentally responsible diet numerous but, somewhat ominously, one problem stood head and shoulders above the others: it was expensive.

I say "ominously" because this bodes poorly for the future of sustainable eating. It suggests that a movement now associated with elite foodies will always be associated with elite foodies.

Grow $700 of Food in 100 Square Feet!

If more Americans grew a little food — instead of so much grass — our savings on grocery bills would be astounding.

Walk and ignore the food miles, British told

COPENHAGEN - A guidebook unveiled in Copenhagen overnight makes mincemeat of the concept of "food miles", telling British shoppers that if they are really worried about their carbon footprints they could do more good by cycling or walking to the supermarket.

Alberta’s Environment Minister Discusses Copenhagen, Oil Sands

With Canada racking up successive “fossil-of-the-day” awards at the climate change summit in Copenhagen, the country’s climate record will likely come under even more intense scrutiny next week with the arrival of Alberta’s delegation, led by Environment Minister Rob Renner. Canada’s tar-sands mines, controversial because they are a particularly dirty form of oil extraction, are located in boreal forest lands in northern Alberta. Green Inc. spoke with Mr. Renner yesterday.

Analysis: 2009 Jackup Market Review

As 2009 draws to a close and 2010 approaches, we are taking a look at the year behind us in the rig market and providing thoughts and forecasts for the offshore and onshore rig market in the year ahead. This is the first installment in a series of articles which will review 2009 and preview 2010 for the jackup, floater and land rig markets.

Chinese daring wins another chunk of Iraq oil

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Chinese state oil firm CNPC won the right to develop yet another lucrative Iraqi oilfield on Friday, as the Asian powerhouse's need to secure future energy supplies drove it to make aggressive bids for contracts.

Cheap labour costs and a willingness to take more risks than their Western counterparts have given Chinese state energy firms the edge in their hunt for fuel to feed China's booming economy.

MMS Collects $111MM in High Bids for Western GOM Sale 210

The Minerals Management Service (MMS) has accepted high bids valued at $111,385,124 and awarded 155 leases to the successful high bidders who participated in Western Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Lease Sale 210 held August 19, 2009. Funds from the total high bids will be distributed to the general fund of the U.S. Treasury, shared with the affected States, and set aside for land and water conservation efforts that benefit all fifty states.

Executives Say Good Times Ahead for Natural Gas

The North American natural gas business has its best days ahead, according to a survey of the industry taken by consulting and accounting giant Deloitte, but many expect more layoffs in the coming year and more cost-cutting.

Quake Threat Leads Swiss to Close Geothermal Project

A $60 million project to extract renewable energy from the hot bedrock deep beneath Basel, Switzerland, was shut down permanently on Thursday after a government study determined that earthquakes generated by the project were likely to do millions of dollars in damage each year.

The project, led by Markus O. Häring, a former oilman, was suspended in late 2006 after it generated earthquakes that did no bodily harm but caused about $9 million in mostly minor damage to homes and other structures. Mr. Häring is to go to trial next week on criminal charges stemming from the project. On Thursday, he did not respond to messages asking for comment.

The findings are a serious blow to the hopes of environmentalists, entrepreneurs and investors who believe that advanced geothermal energy could substantially cut the world’s use of emissions-causing fossil fuels. The report comes as the United States Energy Department is preparing its own review of the safety of a closely related project, by a start-up company called AltaRock Energy, in the hills north of San Francisco.

A few glitches for electric cars

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- If you're looking forward to parking a brand-new electric car in your garage soon, be prepared to spend some money getting that garage in shape.

Electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt ideally use special "quick chargers" that have to be hardwired directly into high-power lines.

Installing the chargers is not like putting in a ceiling fan. The equipment has to be fully approved, installed by a competent professional, and in most cases, a city or state inspector will have to approve it all.

You could plug your car into an ordinary wall socket, but not if you're in a hurry. Charging a Nissan Leaf would take about 24 hours, and charging a Volt would take eight. With a quick charger, the job for either would be done in just a few hours. The Volt can also run on gasoline, but what's the point then of having an electric car?

West Virginia: Wind Project Halted

Work on a West Virginia wind power project was halted by a federal judge who sided with environmentalists’ claim that the project would harm the endangered Indiana bat.

Will 'Smart' Electric Meters Lead to Smarter Consumers?

SAN FRANCISCO -- In conjunction with utilities, tech companies and state and federal agencies, Stanford University is doing a number of experiments to see how psychology affects people's energy consumption.

Researchers say that when it comes to demand-side management, the field of psychology has been lying fallow for far too long, particularly in the residential sector.

"California has huge amounts of money to put toward marketing campaigns, and they spend it all on media marketing campaigns that we know don't work," said Carrie Armel, a research associate at Stanford University's Precourt Institute for Energy Efficiency. "Tens, hundreds of billions of dollars are going to be spent on installing smart meter technology. How much is being spent on behavioral research? Nothing. That's mind-blowing."

Platts: IPAA Chief Says Obama Hinders Oil and Gas Industry

President Barack Obama's policies on taxes, financial reform and the environment threaten to derail the oil and natural gas industry's potential to help create jobs and turn around the economy, the chairman of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) said on Thursday.

Speaking at the Platts Energy Podium in Washington, Bruce Vincent said the industry is dealing with a number of attacks, including concerns over the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing in natural gas shale production, proposals in Congress to end a number of tax breaks for the sector and legislation that could increase regulation of financial hedging.

ANALYSIS - Uranium miners face slog to meet future demand

TORONTO/SYDNEY (Reuters) - Uranium miners rushing to meet future nuclear fuel demand face a tough slog against government red tape, project-specific problems, and the hangover of years of underinvestment.

Uranium currently may be in an oversupply situation, but this includes secondary sources such as government and military stockpiles, which are expected to gradually decline in coming years. Mined uranium last year met only about two-thirds of nuclear fuel demand from reactors.

With analysts predicting construction of up to 100 new reactors over the next decade -- versus 436 currently operating -- mined production will have to help meet increased demand from utilities for nuclear fuel in the future.

Talking Energy blog 7: going nuclear

The focus this week is on nuclear power. One’s first reaction is to say: “Please – anything but nuclear power!”

...But then the practical scientist inside me takes over. Let’s face it, there are remarkably – and depressingly – few options where energy is concerned.

Richard Heinberg: Is "Clean Coal" a Dead End?

The "clean coal" argument runs like this: America is brimming with cheap coal, which provides almost half our electricity and is the most carbon-intensive of the conventional fossil fuels. The nation will need an enormous amount of energy over the next few decades, but renewable sources just aren't ready to provide all—or even the bulk—of that energy. Meanwhile, preventing catastrophic climate change requires that we stop venting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It is possible to capture and store the CO2 that would otherwise be emitted from burning coal, and elements of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology are already in use on a small scale. Put all of these factors together and the case for government funding of research and development of "clean coal" seems strong.

However, several recent studies of US coal supplies suggest that much that we think we know about coal is wrong. If these studies are correct, the argument for investing in "clean coal" becomes tenuous on economic grounds alone. These studies call into question the one "fact" that both pro-coal and anti-coal lobbies have taken for granted: that the US has a virtually limitless supply of cheap coal.

South Dakota: Cold weather prompts shortage of No. 1 diesel fuel

The rapid onslaught of frigid weather and a late harvest have created a demand wave for No. 1 diesel fuel throughout the region.

It’s been tough to find for consumers and suppliers alike.

“It got cold so fast we didn’t have enough on hand,” said Tammy Lorang, owner of Mount Vernon Gas & Oil.

The sad decline of David Attenborough

David Attenborough’s film for BBC2’s Horizon strand, ‘How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth?’, was an essay on why there are too many of us for the Earth to support – at least, if we want anything approaching a decent standard of living. Attenborough, who has been making wildlife films for half a century, argues that humans now have far too big an impact on the planet. The result, he argues, could be an ecological and humanitarian disaster.

But far from opening our eyes to a major new problem, Attenborough merely parrots the anti-human spirit of our times. It is Attenborough’s view of humanity, not humanity itself, which is toxic. Moreover, the logical upshot of his belief that humanity is wrecking the planet is for people to be stopped from having children, not merely by gentle persuasion, but by force if necessary, as people in China have discovered to their cost.

IEA Cuts 2010 Non-OPEC Supply View on North America

(Bloomberg) -- The International Energy Agency cut its forecast for oil supplies from outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries next year because of delays to North American projects.

Non-OPEC producers, accounting for about 60 percent of the global total, will provide 51.6 million barrels a day in 2010, or 265,000 barrels a day less than previously anticipated, the adviser to 28 nations said in its monthly report today. Projections for non-OPEC supply through to 2014 were boosted as higher investment restores delayed projects.

“Some changes were made to crude project start-up dates, especially in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in downward revisions there,” the agency said. Supplies of natural gas liquids, or NGLs, from North America will be lower than the IEA had predicted.

The IEA raised its forecast for 2010 global oil demand and boosted its medium-term consumption outlook through to 2014, on expectations of economic recovery.

Oil fundamentals are back as market driver - IEA

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil supply and demand fundamentals have returned to take the reins from external financial factors in driving the market, the International Energy Agency said on Friday.

"The oil price correlation with macroeconomic factors and financial market activity that has marked most of 2009 may be weakening as supply and demand fundamentals reasserted more control over price direction," the Paris-based agency said in its monthly oil market report.

'Crude prices likely to be at $75.50 for WTI in 2010'

An analogy I read last year in The Economist is quite useful in this context. There is only one buyer for a barrel of oil and that's a refinery. You and I can't use a barrel of oil for anything other than to sell it to a refinery, which can turn it into useful products. There are lots of refineries, of course, but only one market. If you look at futures, they're uncovered, whether it's the NYMEX (New York Mercantile Exchange) WTI (West Texas Intermediary), or the futures for Brent or whatever else. The act of buying or selling a future on crude does not add or remove any supply. In that sense, trading a future is a little bit like betting on a football game. Absent game-fixing, the betting shouldn't affect the outcome. You're betting on what the price is going to do.

That analogy breaks down a little bit in that the refineries themselves can buy or sell futures to hedge their cost. So there is a bit of game-fixing, so to speak. There's also the signaling effect that the futures markets have, because people look to those future curves in terms of setting their budgets and plans for exploration, drilling and development. So, at the end of the day you do have financial influence in the markets. We saw that snap back quite brutally at the end of 2008 and early 2009 in favor of who's actually using oil and who's not. Now we're starting to see the financials play a larger role again.

Refinery Closures Drive Profit Margins Higher

(Bloomberg) -- The closure of refineries on the U.S. East Coast representing nearly 20 percent of the region’s capacity is driving profit margins higher.

IEA sees weak Q1 oil refining margins in West

LONDON (Reuters) - Poor margins will keep oil refineries in developed countries running at low volumes in the first quarter of next year although plants in China and India will be busier, the International Energy Agency said on Friday.

Global refinery crude throughput will average 72.7 million barrels per day in the January-March quarter, the agency, the energy adviser of 28 industrialised nations, said in its monthly oil market report.

Shell Caps Run Rates at Singapore Petrochemical Plant

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc will operate its new mono-ethylene glycol plant in Singapore at reduced rates until the first quarter as demand for petrochemicals remains weak, a company official said.

“The downturn clearly has affected the timing of investments,” Iain Lo, vice president for new business development and ventures at Shell Chemicals, said today. “We’re not new to the market and that helped us prepare for the arrival of this plant. We’ll ramp it up when the cracker gets going.”

Oil Rises After Report Shows Record Runs at Chinese Refineries

(Bloomberg) -- Oil rose for the first time in eight days after China said the country’s refineries processed a record amount of crude last month.

Refining volume in China, the world’s second-largest energy consumer, climbed 21 percent from a year earlier to 33.4 million metric tons, or 8.1 million barrels a day, according to government statistics. China’s industrial production grew more than estimated in November.

“This is the fastest growth in Chinese oil demand since 2004,” Amrita Sen, a London-based oil analyst at Barclays Capital, said by phone. “China has really surprised to the upside this year.”

Shell and Petronas win Iraq oilfield contract

Royal Dutch Shell, the Anglo-Dutch energy group, on Friday won the right to develop Iraq’s giant Majnoon oil field, beating French major Total, which has long coveted the field.

Shell accepted a fee of $1.39 a barrel and promised to boost the field’s production to 1.8m barrels a day from just 46,000 b/d currently. Shell will operate the project and hold a 45 per cent share, with Petronas, Malaysia’s state oil company, having a 30 per cent share and the rest being held by Iraq.

North Sea sector must blow its trumpet

THE North Sea oil and gas industry needs to highlight its successes at every opportunity to help to attract top talent, a business gathering was told last night.

John Forrest, UK vice-president at Talisman Energy (UK), added that the potential for scholarship support should form a key part of the sales pitch to students who are contemplating a career in oil and gas.

BG, Eni Venture May Sell Oil Stake to Kazakhstan to End Dispute

(Bloomberg) -- A BG Group Plc and Eni SpA-led venture is in talks to sell a stake in Kazakhstan’s second- biggest oilfield in production to the state to resolve a dispute over export duties, two people familiar with the matter said.

The Kazakh government may buy a 10 percent stake in Karachaganak Petroleum Operating BV for about $1 billion, one of the people said. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions are private.

The Oil Sands: Canada's Path to Clean Energy - Hydrogen

In Gordon Kelly's book The Oil Sands: Canada’s Path to Clean Energy?, he argues that the oil sands are not the environmental disaster many suggest, and that the oil industry is dealing with the issues. He suggests that we face the fact that we need to focus our attention on developing alternative energy - hydrogen for one. Kelly would urge Albertans to spend Heritage money for Alberta to become the world leader in the development of hydrogen as an alternative to oil.

Ontario promotes green credentials to lure investors

Skyrocketing energy demand over the next few decades, the push to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and energy security issues such as "peak oil" are combining to create massive opportunities for companies developing green energy and clean technologies.

In China alone, policies designed to mitigate climate change and other forms of pollution are expected to result in a $1 trillion annual market for clean technologies by 2013.

Economic doomsday doc thought-provoking

The sky is falling!

That’s the general idea expressed in a new documentary called Collapse.

Collapse is centred around Michael Ruppert, a guy who predicted the current economic crisis some years ago.

Whether you consider Ruppert prophetic or paranoid, hearing his sobering thoughts on the collapse of industrialized civilization is a thought-provoking experience. Thought-provoking and scary.

A chicken in every pot (or backyard)

"There was no end of trouble," Bronco Moncrief said, referring to the days of yore when Cumberland and chickens went hand in hand. Farmyard animals....What was the trouble? Noise? Smell? Was there something, ahem, unsightly?

I wonder, does Moncrief live in the same world I do? Peak oil and all that. How about the Transition Town Movement? Sustainability. Micro Economics. A connection to our food. Moving away from shipping it to growing it in our backyards.... The food you and I eat travels something akin to 2400 km to get to our kitchen tables! Now compare that to the small local/ rural farmers whose food travels approximately 70 km. We, as a society, clearly spend far more energy getting food to our tables than we get energy from eating it.

A green, sustainable future that doesn't work

In the high desert of central Arizona, more than five thousand miles from the global-warming summit in Copenhagen, sits an aging and unfinished vision of the enviro-friendly, sustainable life that some climate change activists foresee for us all. It's called Arcosanti, created in 1970 by the Italian architect Paolo Soleri, and it is the prototype of a green community of the future.

The only problem is, it doesn't work. And it never did.

Climate change fears may worsen depression

Deadly heat waves, home-wrecking hurricanes, neighborhood-scorching wildfires: When you stop to think about it, global warming can be downright depressing. Now, scientists are starting to validate that feeling.

According to accumulating evidence, climate change won't just trigger new cases of stress, anxiety and depression. People who already have schizophrenia and other serious psychological problems will probably suffer most in the aftermath of natural disasters and extreme weather events.

EU CO2 Rallies on Speculation of New Global Caps

(Bloomberg) -- Speculation that climate talks in Copenhagen will produce a global commitment to cut emissions has sparked a rally for European Union carbon dioxide allowances at a time when power and gas prices indicate falling demand.

Dec. 11, 1997: World Signs Onto Kyoto Protocol

What happens at Copenhagen in 2009 is an outgrowth of the first try, at Kyoto. We'll never know if U.S. ratification might have made it work.

New proposal would pay Americans a percent of carbon permits

WASHINGTON — Against the back drop of global climate change talks in Copenhagen, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., will introduce legislation Friday that would take some of the sting out of higher energy bills U.S. consumers may face because of efforts to control greenhouse gases.

Rather than the voluminous "cap and trade" bills approved earlier by the House and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Cantwell's bill runs less than 40 pages and has a significantly different approach. Groups and companies ranging from ExxonMobil to Friends of the Earth have shown an interest in her bill.

Salazar Says Climate Skeptics Wrong; U.S. Will Cap Emissions

(Bloomberg) -- Climate-change skeptics are wrong and the U.S. will pass a new law capping greenhouse gases as it seeks to compete in the global market for low-emission technologies, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said today.

U.S. Climate Envoy’s Good Cop, Bad Cop Roles

WASHINGTON — As the United States’ chief climate change negotiator, Todd Stern sometimes plays the bad cop, and seems to rather enjoy it.

EU nations commit $3.6 billion a year to global climate fund, seek to rescue 'green' image

BRUSSELS (AP) — EU leaders agreed Friday to commit euro2.4 billion ($3.6 billion) a year until 2012 to help poorer countries combat global warming, as they sought to rescue their image as climate change innovators and bolster talks in Copenhagen.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy says the offer "puts Europe in a leadership role in Copenhagen," where international negotiators are seeking a long-term way to slow the warming of the planet.

After climate talks, scientists worry about enforcement

COPENHAGEN — Ray Weiss looks at the chanting protesters, harried delegates and the 20,000 other people gathered here for a global warming summit and wonders: What's the fuss all about?

Weiss, a geochemist who studies atmospheric pollution at San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography, says the numbers at the core of the debate in Copenhagen are flawed.

Specifically, he says the cuts that countries including the USA are proposing in greenhouse gas emissions are difficult to measure and highly susceptible to manipulation by government officials and companies.

China pours cold water on deal as tempers flare

COPENHAGEN: China has raised the possibility that the faltering United Nations climate conference will fail to reach even a political deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions, reflecting huge divisions about the design of a new treaty that has forced the suspension of formal talks in Copenhagen.

The suspension occurred as about half the world's nations banded together to call for a Copenhagen pact to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees - an ambitious goal at odds with larger countries, including Australia, which want the temperature rise limited to two degrees.

Amazon Indians Pin Forest Survival on UN Plan Negotiated Today

(Bloomberg) -- Sergio Tembe said his “blood boils” every time he sees a truck laden with logs stolen from his Indian tribe’s land in the jungle of northern Brazil.

“We need to do something, otherwise there will be nothing left,” said the tribal leader, 43, as he drove his black pickup along a dirt track. About 30 percent of the rainforest in the reservation has been destroyed, he said.

Deep in the Amazon, the Tembe Tenetehara Indians are figuring out how to get paid for protecting their native lands. They may use an arrangement known as REDD, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, which is being negotiated today at the global climate talks in Copenhagen.

World to Cut CO2 at Least 50% by 2050, UN Draft Says

(Bloomberg) -- Nations around the world must reduce greenhouse-gas emissions at least 50 percent by mid-century under a draft proposal being debated by 192 countries in Copenhagen.

The plan obtained by Bloomberg News says nations should collectively reduce the heat-trapping pollution that many scientists say could lead to catastrophic climate change between 50 percent and 95 percent from 1990 levels. The draft leaves long-term financing, or how much rich nations should pay poor ones to deal with global warming, to be dealt with later.

I would greatly appreciate anyone who could help explain something to me. Some figures of peak oil production range just above 80 mbpd whereas others are much less, a little more than 70 mbpd. The difference appears to be whether or not the figure include natural gas plant liquids. What are NG plant liquids used for? Are the a direct substitute for crude oil? Are they more expensive to produce?


Kingfish, NGLs are basically propane and butane but mostly just propane. Propane is used primarily for heating homes but has many other uses also. They are a substitute for crude oil where heating oil is concerned but the home heating system would have to be completely replaced to switch to propane. But on a day to day basis one cannot be substituted for the other.

I don't know about production costs, an oil man will have to answer that question.

However "all liquids", which the IEA uses in its projections, includes more than just NGLs. It includes palm oil, ethanol, and just about any other thing you can think of. It also includes "refinery process gain". Refinery process gain is the two percent extra volume you get from refinery products due to the expanded volume after the crude is refined.

If you look at country by country for their "other liquids" production you will find that the US has a far higher percentage of other liquids than any other nation. For instance in 2008, according to the EIA, the US produced 8,514,000 barrels per day of total liquids but only 4,950,000 barrels per day of crude oil. So the US's percentage of "other liquids" in their "total liquids" was an astonishing 42 percent.

One reason is that we count refinery process gain from the oil we import. That's right, about 2 percent of oil imported from Saudi Arabia, as well as other nations, is counted as part of US all liquids production. Of course that cannot possibly account for all the extra total liquids produced by the US. Much of those liquids are because we produce so much natural gas, as a percentage of gas and liquids production, and therefore more propane and butane than other nations.

But all and all it is a number that just confuses the issue. For instance non-OPEC crude production peaked in 2004 but non-OPEC all liquids peaked, so far, in 2007, but when the final data is in for 2009 it will show a new non-OPEC all liquids peak. However as far is crude plus condensate is concerned, 2009 non-OPEC production will still be about 600,000 barrels per day below 2004.

Ron P.

And don't forget that the all=liquids fiquire has a significant double count as it includes ethanol, which is barely EROEI positive, ie. the energy inputs to produce ethanol are counted, and then the ethanol itself is counted.

The same for bio-diesel from rape seed and the like (though better EROEI then ethanol)

Did I mention the EROLW (energy return on liveforms wasted)of palm oil? That's urang-utangs and their complete natural habitat destroyed for "green" fuel and handsoap.

Darwinian, thanks for the details, I have been wondering about some of them myself.

I would add that significant amounts of propane are used as motor fuel, mostly to power industrial fork lift trucks and other vehicles that stick "close to home".

In a pinch we could run a lot more trucks and tractors on propane if we could get ng lines extended to nieghborhoods currently dependent on propane which is delivered by trucks in pressurized tanks.

Propane is easily compressed to a liquid state capable of being stored in reasonably cheap tanks.This is not true of natural gas, which is much more expensive to compress, cannot be held as a liquid unless super cooled / stored in VERY expensive insulated tanks,and cannot be stored as a gas in quantities useful as motor fuel except in VERY expensive tanks.

Thanks Mac. Of course we might convert a lot of cars and trucks to propane or even natural gas. But this would require extensive modifications to conventional vehicles. It would not be cheap. A more likely scenario would be to simply build propane and NG vehicles from scratch. But we are not doing this, nor are we converting very many existing vehicles. It would take many years to build or convert enough to make a serious difference.

One point of contention:

Propane is easily compressed to a liquid state capable of being stored in reasonably cheap tanks.This is not true of natural gas, which is much more expensive to compress,...

Neither propane or natural gas is ever "compressed" until it becomes a liquid. It is cooled via cooling trains until it naturally condenses into a liquid. They are called "trains" because they are linked together, one after another, like a train. Each unit cools the gas just a few degrees before it enters the next unit. Naturally this requires a lot of electricity. Propane becomes a liquid at -42 degrees C and natural gas becomes a liquid at approximately −162 °C at atmospheric pressure. Of course the liquefaction temperature is higher at higher pressures.

Ron P.

Neither propane or natural gas is ever "compressed" until it becomes a liquid.

true, but the cooling is typically done by first compressing the ng followed by expansion through a choke which cools the stream to a low enough temperature to liquify. this is called cyrogenic processing. this is also the basic process for separataing nitrogen from air.

propane doesnt require much cooling to liquify as long as the pressure is high enough. the tanks that hold propane are not super-insulated so they need to be designed for pressure.

but the cooling is typically done by first compressing the ng followed by expansion through a choke which cools the stream to a low enough temperature to liquify.

But of course. That is how the refrigeration cycle works. I just assumed everyone knew that.

Darwinian - I would like to second OFM gratitude. I've been reading your posts for years and it is always an education. Thanks a lot.


Thanks Joe, coming from you that means a lot.

Ron P.

That is how the refrigeration cycle works.

traditional refrigeration is a different process than cyrogenic refrigeration. i doubt everyone knew that.

the point being that a lot of compression is involved in liquifying ng. gas is not technically compressed to a liquid, but is closer to reality than your description:

It is cooled via cooling trains until it naturally condenses into a liquid.

IIRC, the vapor pressure of propane at 80F is about 140psi, and CO2 is about 1000psi. I have never seen a number given for NG liquid at room temperature. Is that because the pressure is so high no practical tank can contain it?

Critical temp for methane is -82.7 deg C. Above that temperature it wont liquify at any pressure.

Mmmm, phase-diagram goodness.

red face here! I'm partly off base-that's like being just a "little bit" pregnant. ;)

I have been to air reduction plants doing shut down maintainence that compress the air in stages and cool it with ambient air or water and then chill it to liquefy it..this enables the production of lox, and liquid nitrogen if desired and also facilitates the seperation of co2, argon, and moisture.

Apparently the compress and chill route is cheaper for propane too.

This is indeed the cheaper method and the necessary method with ng which won't liquefy at ambient temp.I never missed an opportunity to corner an engineer or any other person able to tell me how industrial facilities work!

But it's been a long time since I was doing roving shut down maintainence as a traveling mechanic and the old memory is going.I can't even remember how to spell these days!

Lng does not appear to be practical as a motor fuel because of the expense of liquefication and storage/hauling/handling in very expensive insulated transport vehicle tanks. Lng pipeline systems do not appear to be affordable either.

This leaves ordinary pipe lines to distribute the ng to retail locations and then building a liquefication facilty to be dealt with at each truck stop or store if liquid fuel is used, plus the expense of the insulated vehicle fuel tank.This doesn't seem economically feasible either.

If ng makes it as a motor fuel it looks as if it will be delivred by pipeline and compressed at the retail location to high pressure and transferred into a high pressure fuel tank on the individual vehicle. Such tanks are expensive and don't really hold enough but they are workable with some extra fuel stops.

I agree that passenger car and light truck conversions will be relatively few but commercial trucks are designed to be easy to work on and can actually be converted easily amd quickly because there are not so many variations to be dealt with.Plus a commercal trick is designed to be easy to work on, as opposed to an automoblle which is just barely designed well enough that it CAN BE worked on. -Given that such trucks often use up to two hundred gallons of diesel a dayweek in and week out the payback can be really quick if the ng is cheap compared to diesel.

I would guess that a heavy truck shop could put two men on such a job and finish it within two days day working on the same make of truck running the same engine as with Volvos or
Macks which generally run the corporate engine.Other makes that run say Catepillar or Cummins engines would take a little longer because although the engines are the pretty much the same the rest of the conversion, such as routing lines and physically mounting the components would vary from model to model.

Propane conversions might go even faster.

The No. 1 diesel mentioned in the article is also known as .... kerosene! AKA that stuff we'd burn in lamps when I was a kid in the Starving Seventies.

I have a kerosene heater here, it's essentially a big ol' kero lamp with a circular wick. Pretty neat but with Doom hanging over so many people's shoulders, wicks are hard to get. The heater I've been using here while the snow comes down is borrowed, I scored one of my own for $50 which is an incredible deal, but we're still waiting for the darned wicks!

I've experimented with burning isopropyl alcohol and got a bit of methyl to experiment with, basically you can pour isopropyl into a bean can and light, and it'll make a neat flame and heat your place for a bit. Then I put vents in the can to make a spinning updraft and thus a spinning flame, and it was dandy but sooty - I saw this as a "mixture" problem, so have my present design for burning isopropyl. I put the alcohol in a vienna sausage can, and that's inside a larger can with large angled vents to get the lovely spinning flame. This does not seem to produce detectable soot.

So, I decided to try a bit of kerosene - I used a coffee filter to make a conical wick, lit it up, and got a tall skinny flame that dumped out soot like a mad thing. I had to take it outside.

So, kero presents a mixture problem. I want to invent a burner that combusts it completely, but buildable with materials any of us can get or scrounge. Wick material should be coffee filters (maybe the larger kind) or a tube sock or something. No it will not be UL-approved. And I love the UL! But nope sorry.

I'm also considering experimenting with small wood pieces like you'd get for a pellet stove, and so on. I just like to burn stuff.

So, anyway, Diesel No. 1 is kerosene, and it's $4.50 a gallon here! Diesel No. 2 is what you run in cars, and I plan to do a bit of experimenting with it too hehe.

It does normally not get cold enough for heating to be a huge problem here, right now it's in the 40s out and that's downright balmy. Yeah .... .can't afford a thermometer right now. But my hands are only a little bit cold and the keyboard only a little bit stiff ... it ain't that cold. But messing around with heaters is a nice hobby because every once in a while it does get cold here.

In a pinch you can run some kerosene thru a diesel engine but this is not a thing you should do regularly.

The two fuels are inded very similar, enough to be called the same thing correctly in a general sense, but there are some issues about two products not being "cleaned up" differently in regard to various chemicals present in small amounts and in handling and storage along the way to the final customer.

If you put kerosene in a diesel motor vehicle it is readily detectable as a non tax paid fuel due to special dyes used in on road diesel fuel and there are special cops that check this sort of thing regularly.The penalties are steep for commercial operators.

Again it's been a long time since I was into his srt of thing regularly .Hopefully someone else more up to date will chime in on this question.

This said some farmers used to fuel up thier tractors out of thier home heating oil tanks on a regular basis but the last time I know personally of this being done REGULARLY was thirty years ago or longer.

The dealers reccomended against it.Engine life may have suffered , it's hard to say-that heating oil was a SLOW POISON if it was a poison at all.

Have you tried the wicks they use for Oil lanterns? A hobby store might sell them as replacement parts. You could fit them into a wire housing of the shape you need and see if they work.

I am a pyro also. I used to make small bonfires in empty 6 oz tuna cans, using wax as the main fuel. After the wax vaporizes you can add air by blowing on the area above the can sides and get some very big flames. Longest I've measured were 4 feet long for over a minute. Best if you do this outside, not for something you would do inside if you don't have fire insurance. In my Bug Out Bag I have 2 tender boxes. One is a packed Tuna can with a pet food lid on top. Even in wet weather I can have a small cook fire in a few minutes. Wax will smoke a lot if the wick length is not just right.

Best luck, keep the wet towels handy, or CO2 canister.


I've got 3 kerosene heaters, 2 of which I scrounged from the dumpster. I regularly see more of them in the local garbage pick up site dumpster. The replacement wicks have been available from the local Lowes home improvement chain, but they are seasonal products, so one must catch them when available.

When a kerosene heater is left between seasons, there can a bit of work needed to get them working. The wicks can become stuck to the sides of the mechanism which normally raises or lowers them. One of my heaters is an older unit which uses small metal "teeth" to engage the wick in the height mechanism. Over time, the engagement points tends to wear and thus the adjustment no longer works. It can become difficult to adjust the flame height and the natural tendency to force the wick up or down may destroy the wick. Newer models use different methods to connect the wick to the adjustment mechanism, such as metal studs attached to the wick. I think that proper seasonal maintenance would involve disassembling the wick mechanism and cleaning the surface of the metal which guides the wick, using a solvent such as lacquer thinner to remove the carbon buildup. As usual, read the manual, which might be available from a manufacturer's web site.

E. Swanson

Italy has widest and most extensive natural gas distribution network in the world: there are more than 600 natural gas dispenser/recharger for vehicles.
The auto engine kit costs from 1500 to 2500 euros.

You can even have your individual NG recharger from the pipeline


(never seen one)

We recently purchased a large truckload of propane for our business and paid about $14 per MMBTU for it as compared to natural gas which is priced at around $5 per MMBTU. We are in a rural area and the nearest NG line is about ten miles and $1.5 million away.

Are you sure those forklifts are running on propane? I know all the ones that are not electric seem to run on CNG around here, and I know this because they always seem to leak a little and smell like someone farted. There are also CNG government vehicles and buses. Maybe it's a California thing.

The forklifts run on small cylinders that wiegh around fifty pounds full and slosh like a bbq grill cylinder.The delivery tickets always said propane but it is possible there is something else in the cylinder.It is definitely not ng which is not liquid at ambient temperatures.

The odor is a tracer put in so that if there is a leak you will smell it.I am fairly sure the same chemical is used in both ng and propane.

I used to be up on all this sort of stuff but it has been a long time since I worked with this kind of equipment.

This setup is much safer than gasoline and the exhaust is much less obnoxious , which allows the use of these machines in a lot of factories where gasoline and diesel just won't do.

If the ventilation is inadequate for the propane forklifts, then it becomes necessaruy to use battery operated machines which work very well but cannot run steady around the clock.They must be parked periodically for recharging.Most of the time the older ones will finish a 8 hour shift if used intermittently without any problems.Newer models probably have better batteries.

That nasty smell is mercaptan. Supposed to smell like rotten cabbage.

You mentioned gas so did you know the IMF is withholding the latest installment of USD 3.5 billion? Watch out to see what happens, I doubt they will be able to borrow the money anywhere else. I wonder how they are going to cover the next payment to Russia.

The all liquids also includes "refinery gain". The volume that comes out of refineries is greater than that goes in, in general. This is particularly the case if natural gas is added, and long chains converted to short chains by cracking. (Someone else probably has more precise wording for this.) A big piece of US all liquids production comes from taking heavy oil that we import, adding natural gas, and getting a bigger volume in the end.

Thanks for the clarification. It confirms my suspicion that the "all liquids" designation is a bit of a red herring. Crude and condensates seem to be the only thing that really counts for the broad range of transportation and manufacturing processes that our economy relies on.

Kingfish, Peak Oil is really about Crude and Condensate (C+C), the majority of the finite stuff that comes out of the ground - it is not about all liquids.

Alternatives like ethanol that come from crops will only peak and decline if we decide that they will peak - although actually the land that is currently being used for alternative fuels will probably soon be needed for food since population is still growing exponentially at a rate of around 1 billion per decade and 1 billion are already undernourished.

Re: Oil Rises After Report Shows Record Runs at Chinese Refineries

Looks like those rapidly expanding car sales in China are beginning to have an impact on China's oil use. Perhaps the sales of new, fuel efficient cars is beginning to overwhelm the scrapping of older, less fuel efficient cars. Not a good sign as the long predicted growth in China's oil consumption appears shifting into high gear...

E. Swanson

After saving failed financial institutions for many hundreds of billions, if not trillions, putting 3.6 bilion aside yearly for some climate fund, is indeed nothing more than face-saving.

The main problem is that we will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as long as we have the means to burn FF. And that today's scientifically proven man-made CC is the result of lower emissions of less activity 30 years ago. We are too late, as with preparing for PO.

For Elderly in Rural Areas, Times Are Distinctly Harder

The difficulties are especially pronounced in rural America because, census data shows, the country’s most rapidly aging places are not the ones that people flock to in retirement, but rather the withering, remote places many of them flee. Young people, for decades now, have been an export commodity in towns like Lingle, shipped out for education and jobs, most never to return. The elderly who remain — increasingly isolated and stranded — face an existence that is distinctively harder by virtue, or curse, of geography than life in cities and suburbs. Public transportation is almost unheard of. Medical care is accessible in some places, absent in others, and cellphone service can be unreliable.

Even religion and the Internet are different here. Churches have consolidated or closed — a particular hardship for older people, who tend to be avid churchgoers. And a lack of high-speed broadband service in many rural areas compounds the sense of separation from children and grandchildren, as well as the broader world.

The irony is that many of those places might actually not be bad places for younger people to head to. Cheap houses, cheap land. All of those old folks draw social security, and many of them have pensions or some retirement savings, so they have money to pay a younger person to drive them to medical care or shopping, fix up and clean around the home, etc. There is probably enough work of that type to keep someone reasonably busy and solvent, in-between growing stuff on whatever land they can get. If you can also produce some sort of art or craft that could be shipped to some place more on the beaten path to sell, so much the better, that gives you a stream of income from outside the community.

The key is to be willing to have very low expectations when it comes to standard of living and accumulation of possessions.

The key is to be willing to have very low expectations when it comes to standard of living and accumulation of possessions.

I totally agree. And, am beginning to think this is the major take-away for TOD. Adjust expectations; learn new skills; adapt and survive. Enjoy what comes, since if you are there you survived!

Once the grid and net go down that's going to be a LOT easier. Things can be grown in rural areas. Being able to grow food will be a major attraction.

I think a lot of young people could do without accumulation of possessions. Heck, many of them live that way already, since they tend to move so often.

But the "standard of living" thing is tough. Young people want to be where the action is. They want to go to concerts and clubs, meet lots of other young people, and at least have the option of partying 'till dawn.

I'm not really a party person. Don't drink, don't smoke, was more likely to be studying than partying on Friday night. But I graduated from high school in a small, rural town, and I can remember how much we yearned to get out. There was just nothing to do. McDonald's closed at 8pm, and then they rolled up the streets. People were bored out of their skulls. Everyone you knew was someone you'd known since preschool. It was kind of like dating your brother or sister, since everyone had known each other so long. (Nevertheless, we had the highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation...because there was nothing else to do.)

However, I do think rural living could be sold to young people. In Japan, there's a program that sends unemployed youth out to the country to learn farming, and they don't seem to lack for volunteers.

Any young person contemplating the type of move I am talking about had better have already found their life partner and gotten hitched, they are unlikely to have much to choose from once they head out to the sticks. That's probably why most of the young people headed out in the first place: lack of available options, plus a desire to see their descendant's family tree actually fork. Having now seen Paree, they are not about to get back down on the farm.

Most people do settle down quite a bit once they get hitched, the late night party stuff starts very quickly to lose its appeal. What I am talking about is probably not going to appeal to urban party animals anyway, but there are plenty of people around who do not fall in that category. For natural introverts who would like nothing better than to curl up in a chair at night in front of the fire, reading a book, the rural life might actually hold quite a lot of appeal.

The only problem is that if today's young people read a book, it's likely to be online or on their Kindle, so lack of broadband would be a deal-killer. ;-)

Well, that's the thing. When I talk about low standard of living and few possessions, I'm afraid that is going to have to mean things like borrowing books from the public library rather than having a Kindle. It may not sound very appealing, but compared to a sleeping bag under an overpass it wouldn't be so bad.

On a positive note, books borrowed from the public library usually don't disappear from one's hands as e-books from Kindle used to, when some mighty power (Amazon) decides so. :))


Don't you think that, as the cities implode, people will move out on their own. There won't be much 'selling' to do when there are no city jobs, IMO. Towns and villages will continue to slowly grow as urbanites return to the hinterlands. Factory farms will not be possible, but where they once contained vast acerage, new "urban farmers" will be able to till 15 to 20 acre plots, for sale and trade to nearby villages and towns. In the centers, where what little governance and dispute resolution takes place, other exurbanites will learn trades, and small ?factories? will produce clothing, tools, and other necessities. Perhaps sufficient science will survive to maintain some level of medical preventative and curative support as well. Libraries, and schools also will be found there, with their cadre of workers, teachers and the like.

It may be slower paced, and we may lose some creature comforts [e.g. air conditioning, electrified household chores, etc.], but I submit that it could be a satisfactory and enjoyable life.

Again, for those who survive the crash. There is the rub.

I don't think that's going to happen in my lifetime.

I guess I'm a "declinist." I always thought Greer was the most likely to be right, and events since peak oil have only solidified that opinion. Things just don't happen fast when a society is as large and complex as ours. There's too much inertia for it to change quickly.

According to Tainter, what happens as a society approaches collapse is that people cluster in the cities. The Romans did, because it was easier to get food in the city than on the farms that grew it. The Maya did, because raiding made it too dangerous to live on isolated farms or in small villages.

I think something similar will happen to us. Our aging populace will move closer to the city, because they want amenities like public transportation, police and fire protection, and medical care. And as things get worse: food handouts, running water, and electricity.

In the long run, yes, there may be an exodus to the rural areas. But I'm not expecting the cities to implode any time soon.

I lean back and forth between your view (and Greer's) and the other common view on here (complex cascading system failure). From a "BAU lite" POV, urban living makes a lot more sense than suburban life + PV panels and electric cars.

"However, I do think rural living could be sold to young people..."

I can give you 3 excellent reasons why the young leave rural, agricultural places like Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma:

Inofe, Nelson, Brownback

The political landscape is so retrograde...

OTOH, if they stayed they could do something about... Inofe, Nelson, Brownback...

Nope... Those guys have life tenure.

If you vote, you vote with your feet.

Actually rural people don't care too much about those in DC. They care about the LOCAL election and who actually runs things for them WHERE THEY LIVE.The local Judge Exec, the Sheriff, Magistrates,etc.

And BTW most young DO NOT care a whit about Senators,Reps, etc. They just do not.

My last point. Big View. Leanan's view of Ipods, the net, etc are just not going to work much longer.
This and that is a very failed paradigm/lifestyle.

We are seeing that right now.

So what you propose or others as to the failure of rural life had better take a closer look for
THAT will be what will work for the future.

Throw away the electronics gadgets. Get down on your knees in the dirt and start all over with REALITY.

The way it was, the way it will be. It can not be otherwise.
Nothing to do in town? Well stay on the farm and marry a nearby neighbor. Forget the porn and the TV fix and all the dope, etc. Get real, get down, make a sustainable living or get the heck off the planet for nature will kill you otherwise.

Isn't this starting to sink in here? Will it ever? I doubt it. Some get it, most do not.
Its not Ipods,PS3 and Xboxs. It not the zany bs portrayed in gameland. Its reality and not varnished.

Todays kids have zero inkling of reality. They live in someplace else. They can't wait to see Avatar. Made up stuff. Wannabe vampires. All sorts of shite. And therefore they do not like their senators,governors,etc.....when I doubt they haven't a clue as to they are or what their names are.

Airdale-come on folks!

Its not Ipods,PS3 and Xboxs. It not the zany bs portrayed in gameland. Its reality and not varnished.

WTF is reality anyways, huh?!



In the long run, you're probably right. Unless we crash so hard agriculture is not possible any more (and I'm not ruling that out).

But I think it's going to take a lot longer than you expect. A lot of people here are going to die before they get to say, "I told you so." ;-)

I don't own an iPod or a Kindle, but I think they may actually make sense during the beginning of the long descent. The initial expense of the device is high, but content for it is cheap (or can be). This is the same reason poor families buy video game systems. You get a lot of bang for the buck. Take the family to the movies, and they'll be entertained for a couple of hours. Buy them a new game for about the same amount of money, and they'll play it for weeks or months, and then maybe get more mileage out of it by swapping it for a new title.

And I have a little more faith in kids than you do. The stores that are really hurting now are the ones that cater to teens. Teens are the hardest hit in the job market, and it appears many of their parents can longer afford to buy them pricy Abercrombie and Fitch clothing, etc.

But they seem to be handling it well. I'd go so far as to say they're probably happier pitching in to help their families than they would be buying more stuff.

Not only are Japanese youth heading out to the countryside, Japanese businessmen "Salarymen" are doing so too. Just like here in the US, they have a lot of people looking down a road that only leads to homelessness and starvation. They are eager to take any path that leads to, perhaps, a less painful end.

As for possessions, when you are poor and landless, you dare not get attached to any more things than you can carry on your back. I, right now, have more things than I can carry on my back but I am still mentally prepared to pick out what I'd carry out of here on my back and run, if I have to.

The life of a landless person is not going to be a good one in the future. Obtaining land or joining a tribe that has land is going to be very important.

It seems as if everybody gets as far along as the banks and a few well heeled speculators owning suburbia and maybe all the rest of the real estate.

But they never seem to give much thought to what they will DO with it , if he economy doesn't turn around.

Empty houses sitting around go downhill faster than lived in houses and cost more to maintain.

Rents and sales prices will fall,MUST FALL, until they match local demand and if everybody is doubling up to save money that could be a pretty low figure.

This leads me to speculate that in some respects the following generation might, considering the additional fact that the boomers will soon be departing this vale of tears fast, just MIGHT enjoy one heck of a buyers market for the biggest purchase of all for a good long time to come.

And while I haven't seen any very recent figures, I strongly suspect that so long as any shred of the modern cultural paradigm survives and birth control is readily available we will see very low birth rates-unless tptb make decisions that in effect subsidize childbearing.

I hear and see anti religious rants all the time concerning pious people raising twelve kids but I can say with some authority that such people are very much the exception.

I know all sorts of Jesus freaks, bible thumpers, and even a few reputed snake handlers, as well as a few Catholics.There is not a six child family among the entire lot of under forty year old parents and more of them have one kid than three. Two is the norm.

I strongly suspect that the next generation of women will bear very few children BECAUSE they have poor prospects-the farmer raising a crop of kids to work his fiels paradigm may be alive and well in foriegn parts and possibly Utah but it is seems to be well and truly broken beyond repair in the good ole USA.

But only if THEPILL or a suitable substitute is dirt cheap!

My estimate is that most young women currently of child bearing age or approaching that age will give up on a second or third or later child to enable them to better look after the first one or two and to have a little better life of thier own.Momma would like a new pair of shoes too!

But niether they nor thier husbands will give up sex.

As Alan would say,

Best wishes for free birth control no questions asked.

If the borders are closed, as I expect they will be when we get over being pc,and the population is stable or even falling, things might not be as dreary as they look. for the young folks.

The country would not need new roads or freeways, and there will be plenty of large buildings of all sorts so new construction will not be much needed.

The economy will revert to making quality goods locally rather than junk far away as that is the cheaper option when energy is expensive.Furniture will again be passed down rather than dumpstered every decade or so.

Bus passes will be a lot cheaper than car payments-and people that have never owned thier own car will soon cease to miss them.

All in all if the world takes a turn towards the rational, people might just have more free time and enjoy themselves more by living with a lot less.

I don't expect things to work out this way but they COULD.

Interesting article, Leanan.
I think it is very important for middle aged and older folk who are trying or wanting to be proactive about WTSHTF, think long and hard about the rural lifestyle, especially if they are not already there, or want to go it alone.
IMO both old age and rural living are over-rated.
As stated in the article, the dependence on government programs that is necessary for retired people to maintain a rural lifestyle without family can make rural living a poor choice.
Survival for the elderly is going to require an extended family that includes the young whether they're in or out of town.

I couldn't help thinking that these High Plains seniors could be helped by royalty money from a massive rural deployment of wind turbines. I find very old people to be remarkably psychologically stable despite poverty. If we go into demographic decline I think the old people will be able to support themselves surprisingly well.

It's the young who really need help.

Putting together many threads here, [that seems to be what I am trying so hard to do] those old folks out in the boonies need to be teaching those young kids in the cities. The kids are the key... they always have been, I guess. And, somehow, they need to learn the basics of survival in an unfriendly world, with much less energy, fewer amenities, and what they would call a "new paradigm."

What would Dilbert say?

Rural life without good transportation could go downhill pretty quickly. The permaculture farms I have seen have been pretty far from towns. With a horse to ride, it wouldn't be too bad, but walking, it would be a pretty long trip. Bringing things back from town would be difficult on foot. And distribution of goods from the rest of the world to the town could get to be pretty limited, pretty quickly.

So the 64 dollar question is--how long will transportation be good?

IMO, infrastructure in general is likely to be an issue, not just transportation.

When there's a huge ice storm, the city goes only a few hours without power. People living in the boonies can wait weeks.

Eventually, they may not bother to make the repairs...especially if the few customers out there don't have money to pay the bills.

It seems like that was the way it was years back. If there was a storm, farms were often without power for more than 24 hours.

Yes. Like someone said some time ago, when tracking the decline, watch for POTHOLES in the news and on the streets.
In the specific scenario you describe, add maintenance such as plowing snow.
Plowing snow in the winter is a huge budget item up here in the NW. Even suburban streets in Spokane can wait for a week or more to get plowed after heavy snow. Out in wheat country the wind blows roads closed pretty quickly.
It may be in the dystopian future that one needs to plan to hunker down for weeks/months solid. If you are old and get sick, you die.

Here in Eureka, CA the citizens are up in arms about an increase in water bills. All the mills that used to use a good portion of the water (and indeed, for whom the water works were built up in the first place) have shut down and no longer pay for water. The infrastructure is old and needs to be replaced, but no one wants to pay for it.

We'll have to see what happens when the water mains start breaking and causing sink-holes in the streets...

Interesting that infrastructure has come up since I'm going to post some thoughts on it tomorrow.


I watched Collaspe with a real estate agent/best friend. He has listened to me over the years talk about all I've read here, etc. As recently as last week he still uttered those 'hopeful' words when the economy turns around.

I got up very early Tuesday morning to drive my partner to the airport in Austin, about 50 miles, then to friends house to watch Collaspe. One of his roommates (both younger than us by 10-15 years) works from home and was at the kitchen table. They all know something about what's going on because almost everytime I come in, I talk about it in some fashion.

During the movie I paused it at times to add something... as it continued my friend just looked at me and said 'Wow.' He finally got it. The roommate left the room as it was too depressing for him. These three guys are in the process of buying a lot and building along side another friend. Only one of them has a regular job, with Dell. Which he hates and would love to leave. Told friend last week my feelings on the real estate... basically, you'd be nuts to do it. Didn't deter him. Not so much now. Since watching the movie he has had conversations with others about not doing it. The roommates are younger and 'want' something. They are now at odds.

Last night they had a party at their new high-rise rental with stunning views of Austin. Mostly younger group. For the first time I felt sorry for them. I thought about how what's coming for them, us, might end up like a wreck on a party train. Up until the wreck, no one thinks about a wreck happening, although if you asked them prior to getting on they would agree that a wreck is possible, just not probable. When it happens, the first question will likely be "what just happened?" The party is over, that's what "just happened."

Many of us have experienced said party. Many after/behind us expect to also. Ummm, Houston, I think we have a problem.

After the movie my friend wanted to send Mike money. I liked the movie and would recommend it. That said, I think Mike's attempt at offering some hope of what to do, like all who do, is in vain. Given all that has been said and written, the population continues to be the elephant in the living room. It, along with resource depletion/pollution/climate change, etc., will continue to grow but eventually decline. Changing the world view on population will be like getting the proverbial camel through the eye of a needle. Gonna hurt and a lot of people will go kicking and screaming.

When friend starting talking about his roommates and the young in general not wanting to hear this stuff I simply said "Too bad." And to his follow-up response (more of the same), again I simply said "Too bad." Couple of weeks ago I had a similiar conversation with a sister. She started on about the economy turning around. I stopped her and said it would not. She just stared out the window, no response.

I get the feeling more and more people are sensing that an ill wind blows.

Good story Ed.
The only way I know to not be a total wet blanket on the hopes of the youngsters is encourage them to integrate their ambitions with the backstop of preparation.
You know, like saying, "Does this property have a usable lot? Work shop area?, etc.
Only half jokingly, ask if the place can be defended from zombie hordes?
Last years christmas I gave all my adult children books on gardening,wine making,and tools, and this year they get cash towards preparative projects of their choice.
It provides a space and opportunity to talk about stuff as much or as little as they want.
What else can one do?

Thanks, some good thoughts as we enter the Christmas season.

The only chance of any kind of future that the young people of the world have is if they stand up and stop the madness.

They need to understand that the establishment, the older generations are gobbling up and craping out their future at an increasing rate.

As far as population that too is being decided for them by this same group. No Money, you die. Hell of a coincidence that 1% controls more wealth and resources than the other 95% combined. People with the most money and power will be the last standing but they will be standing in Deep $hit.

It is ridiculous to think that things will just slowly collapse and then all the good people will live to start a new world made by hand.

With out some sort of uprising their may be no future.

People are making new incarnations all the time.

There will be some uprisings, and some may help, but others may also justify TPTB to swing the Hammer more and more. Naomi Klein was on Democracy Now! today, speaking at Copenhagen (well worth listening to her), and explaining how she'd been misrepresented as advocating for an 'uprising' there, while she does encourage direct action. It would be far too easy for the media to make this a 'broken windows and overturned cars' story, easy to sideline, like Seattle is now, easy to put the hammer down on the 'perpetrators and troublemakers' ..

Remember, those powers that be were also struggling against powers before them, before many had to join the machine. Some of the 'uprising' approach is exactly the same kind of thinking that has put us into Afghanistan in the mode we're in there.

It's not just a matter of applying a lot of force, it's being REALLY smart and responsible about WHERE and HOW it's applied.

“If brute force isn’t working, you are not using enough of it.” William McDonough's description of the motto of the Industrial Revolution

or this one..

'Problems that were created by intelligence won't be solved with stupidity.' Attrib to Einstein.

Speaking of force, I wonder how many saw George Ure's long opening section yesterday's post on the "Stabilization Police Force?" Really, really scary. This will be a link to his blog not the section http://www.independencejournal.com/today.htm


Turns out I was the oldest at the party... 53. Talking to my friend today, he tells me someone I met at the party is going to file bankruptcy... on 15K of credit card debt. She's a waitress. Asking about the origins of the 15K, he said she was living off credit. He found it hard to believe she was doing bankruptcy on so little... I said it's all relative - to her, 15K is too much. They want $400/mo. and she's a waitress. And I bet she's part-time, too.

Seems the more you inquire, the more you can 'see' the collaspe happening.

The Collapse is all around us. Downtown Gilroy looks even more run-down than a year ago when I moved here. The Wal-Mart less crowded. A few more abandoned houses etc.

I am going to do BK once I can afford(!) to, on approx. $26k I owe the IRS and a $2k ER bill, on a normal job these are payable but normal jobs are NOT coming back. Right now I'm on "financial vacation" until mid-March at least when the weather warms up, any money I make between now and then will be from holding a sign by the freeway onramp and see how that goes. The economy may not come back in the Spring. I may only be able to do a bankruptcy by using a rumored-to-exist low-income program I've heard exists.

Doing a BK even over a few thou makes sense when your income has reverted to the global average which is happening to many in the US.

Ultimately, the Matrix collapses and doing a BK won't matter, but we don't know how soon this will be, this is why I want to get my own BK done so maybe I can get some sort of work as an EMT. Will said work last? Doubt it. But it will be paid practice.

My advice is to "BK out", anyone out there who can. And NEVER EVER use credit again. Get used NOW to how things will probably be a year or two into the future. Live tomorrow's Apocalypse today! Get used to no credit, get frugal, save string, you know the story.

Wow! He gave it four out of four stars. And the "Users" gave it four stars also. Ebert is the most respected reviewer in the business.

I have no way of assuring you that the bleak version of the future outlined by Michael Ruppert in Chris Smith's "Collapse" is accurate. I can only tell you I have a pretty good built-in B.S. detector, and its needle never bounced off zero while I watched this film...

That fact: We have passed the peak of global oil resources. There are only so many known oil reserves. We have used up more than half of them. Remaining reserves are growing smaller, and the demand is growing larger.

I had not intended to watch this film, because of Ruppert's other nuttiness. But I have definitely changed my mind. I hope it is in video stores the last of December or early January. I am going to try to get my son who works in Saudi to watch it also.

Ron P.

Even the bewildered herd knows something is wrong, but most still live by story and myth that will not bring critical analysis, or insight.

RE: Soleri's Arcosanti:

First of all, there is nothing "green" about the idea of building a new 5000 person community in the middle of a desert. There are too many people trying to live in the desert already, not enough water to support them, and there will be even less water in the future.

The more fundamental problem, though, is this idea of having to start from scratch and build something entirely new. A truly "green" community is one that recycles everything, first and foremost starting with the existing built environment. We don't need to scrap all of our towns and cities and start over, we are going to have to figure out how to make our existing towns and cities work.

This is the same problem I have with new super-efficient passive solar homes. Yeah, they are really great, all right. Now, what about all of the other houses that are already standing?

An interesting start to that has been made in Chicago, where 'green rooftops'and horizontal wind generators on building tops have made a bit of a stir.

We have a long way to go, and a diminishing population is the major component in any sustainability movement. The real problem comes in the means available to this end. Especially in America!

Between Catholics, Mormons and Pentacostals, Libertarians, Neo-Nazis, and the established feelings and beliefs in the USA about "freedoms," and general opposition to authority, anyone 'trying' to limit population growth, much less decrease total numbers, will have a real problem. The true force in that movement may turn out to be Mother Nature, who really doesn't care about creed or idiology.

Soleri's Arcosanti

Soleri's vision was always a bit too far out. But there is value in small dense walkable community's with build in rainwater recycling even if its just a demonstration project.

Blessed are the wackos and the freaks!

or as they said in the commitments, when the band blew up..

Joey: Look, I know you're hurtin' now, but in time you'll realize what you've achieved.

Jimmy Rabbitte: I've achieved nothing!

Joey: You're missin' the point. The success of the band was irrelevant - you raised their expectations of life, you lifted their horizons. Sure we could have been famous and made albums and stuff, but that would have been predictable. This way it's poetry.

There is plenty that was green about the idea, and PARTICULARLY in creating a model for how to live carefully using marginal lands to best advantage. Designing around the energy and water flows, considering a whole lifestyle picture into the traffic needs of day to day.. Phoenix and LA take note. The lessons from that experiment might be invaluable. It doesn't mean we have to build whole new cities this way.. it can surely also mean that existing cities in deserts can look at the products of such experiments and apply them as they renovate and modify what they've had that didn't work so well.

It's too easy to pick on the experimenters, since part of the process is to force failures through, to see which parts of a concept might or might not work. Arcosanti doesn't have to be a thriving community for the best ideas in it to be learned and spread. It was one man's dream, and he's built what he could, and attracted who he could to it. I'm happy to have visited it once and added it to the list of ambitious 'mutations' that I've witnessed. Some of that DNA is in my notebooks now, and might infect my designs, or those of thousands of others who have checked it out. To me, that is a form of successful progeny.

That 'new green house' is being built instead of a 'traditional' house, which would have consumed energy at today's standard levels. Comparing it against existing housing is not a fair comparison. They are not in an 'either/or' relationship. For that argument, look at people IN older housing who are putting in retrofits to make them as efficient as possible. But new houses will get built, and cities and communities will constantly be getting revised and restructured. The new thinking and the new plans have to come from somewhere.

They seemed to work pretty well in Sim City. This page also has some real life examples of arcology, as well as intriguing fictitious ones.

What gets me is that the project has not gotten any of the funding that it could have with better planning in the planting and animal rearing they could do with the space they have.

I remember reading about the project when going to school for Architecture and wondering why they did not do more to promote sustainable living. I've cobbled together many bits and pieces and been able to collect water, grow food, cook it, and live without using loads of money to make it all happen. Why couldn't they?

Dreams are something you have, then you get up in the morning and realize you just ran out of coffee and have no way of getting more.

One thing this teaches you is to have dreams, but to plan them out better than just plopping them down just any ole place and expect them to work. As an architect he should of had better training than that.


Shell accepted a fee of $1.39 a barrel and promised to boost the field’s production to 1.8m barrels a day from just 46,000 b/d currently.

I seem to recall reading, back in the early aughts, that part of the overall energy strategy behind the Iraq War was to take control of the oil fields of Iraq that had been 'neglected' for so long, since they were the largest fields that had not been fully exploited. Then, with the following 7 years of inactivity, they remain, more or less pristine. Now, they can contribute maybe 4 MBD to output, and hold the world on a plateau for a few years.

Does anyone have figures for Iraqi peak? What were their initial reserves [uninflated], what has been used, what is left, and a potential Iraqi Hubbert's peak?

A few weeks ago on TOD there was a graphic (from a poster, not Leanan as I recall) that had a field by field estimate of Iraqi potential oil production over time.

West Qurna was 600,000 to 700,000 b/day (looking @ graph, my #s) in 7 years, a decade plateau and moderate decline. Exxon says they can extract 2,250,000 b/day in 7 years.

Does anyone have a link to that graph ? I would like some 3rd party # s for the other Iraqi fields.



The Jan. 2009 ASPO Newsletter revisited Iraq: PDF.

Thanks. ASPO is great. It is difficult at times to draw together all of the parts of the whole, and the total picture is so cloudy. I appreciate the help.

Iraqi C+C production peaked in 1979 at 3,477,000 barrels per day. So far this year they are averaging 2,390,000 barrels per day or almost 1,100,000 bpd below their peak.

Iraq claimed 30 billion barrels of proven reserves in 1980, 65 billion barrels in 1983, 100 billion barrels in 1988 and 115 billion barrels today.

I have no doubt that Iraq can produce a lot more oil than they are producing today. However I seriously doubt they will ever produce 7 million bp/d. And everything depends on peace breaking out in Iraq. The Kurds, Sunni and Shia must all sit down and work things out peacefully, agreeing to no hostilities from now on.

Yeah right, like that’s gonna happen. The current situation, not real peace by a long shot, will last only as long as the US stays there with a gun pointed at everyone. Whe the US pulls out, and we will sooner or later, all hell will break loose again. Saddam held a gun to the head of the Shia and gassed the Kurds. He kept the peace but he was too greedy and stupid to stay out of Kuwait and screwed it all up.

But only another Saddam can keep the peace and I don't think there is one in the near future. And there will never be democracy in Iraq.

Ron P.

everything depends on peace breaking out in Iraq.

I think that if Western oil companies ever start pumping anything near 7 MBPD, the radicals over there will blow up the pipelines, or wellheads [again!].

Their reserves must be non-biogeneic, wafting up from far beneath the mantle, to emerge silently and unannounced near the surface of the desert, measured and added to the 'proven reserves' of Iraq.

Oh ye of little faith:-)
Today Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain Shahristani said they expect to quadruple oil output to reach 10 million barrels per day within the next six to seven years.
So it must be true ........... mustn't it????

I still remember "Baghdad Bob" during the war! Whadda laugh.

Baghdad Bob!!! I loved him too. I think he is a us senator now.

zap -- if you research back you won't find any official gov't statement indicating that we had any plans to take over Iraq's oil fields. And looking at the latest bid winners we've kept our word. BTW...that wasn't the American Shell Oil that won the bid. It was Rotal Dutch Shell that won.

Indirectly you might say the US efforts have fostered new oil development projects in Iraq by removing Sadam but one may also make the point that Iraq might have been producing more oil today and in the near future had we not invaded. It might surprise some given all the MSM coverage about the "dominance" of US Big Oil our companies are not that strong in the global picture especially if you just focus on new projects. A good bit of older heritage projects out there but in general our big oils are not as astrog as they were in the old days.

I believe it is "Western" oil companies that were the intended beneficiaries. The consortium that, IMO, instigated the Iraq war in 2002 were not US controlled, and in fact it is significant to what happened to the US economy that "big business" became international.

I don't see a conspiracy or anything. It is more subtle and worse than that. It is the nature of international corporations to dominate and monopolize. Perhaps not in that order?

But, I understand what you are saying. And, FWIW, I agree.

Hi Rockman,

re: "And looking at the latest bid winners we've kept our word."

More generally, what do you think the reason for the invasion is/was? (Sincere question.)

It would be interesting to compare Iraqui production w. some numbers such as US military use, military budget translated into oil equivalent, etc.

Aniya -- Just guesses from me..no better then anyone elses IMO.

From a strategic stand point I think the gov't felt it needed to establish a strong military presence in the Persian Gulf. For several reasons but mostly for future energy security. Most on TOD see a day coming when resource control will dominate economic stability. Not much of a stretch to imagine TBTB seeing it the same way. Sadam just gave us an immediate excuse to do so.

Some peripheral, maybe just coincidal reasons also. If you subscribe to the belief that we are in an unconventional war with radical elements around the globe then you can make a point that we needed to establish "fire bases" outside the US. The fire base strategy was deployed heavily in Viet Nam. We often fought against an aggressor who could easily blend into the population. You cannot effectively battle against an enemy that doesn't concentrate its forces. In Viet Nam we established fire bases which allowed the enemy to focus against our troops. And to do so required concentrating their forces. We could then, in turn, focus our weapon systems (which were, and still to a great degree, ineffective against non-concentrated forces) against the enemy. A viable strategy but at a cost: you're using your troops as "Judas goats" (if you understand that concept). By having U.S forces in the Persian Gulf region it allows our enemies to more efficiently strike us. While they're occupied killing our troops over there it's difficult for them to mount attacks against us inside our borders.

One can readily argue the morality of such a policy but, if this is one motivating factor, it does seem to have been effective...so far. Similar to another rather cold-hearted but effective strategy - the point man: better to lose 1 or 2 then the whole unit. A good plan unless you're the one on point.

I`m finding conflicting information on the size of the Majnoon oil field:

The Financial Post article says 12.6 billion barrels of reserves. Shell, Petronas win rights to Iraq oilfield

While ASPO says 6 billion barrels. NEWSLETTER No. 96 – DECEMBER 2008

Then you need to decide what's a reasonable depletion rate. The Uppsala report says 7% as a best case scenario and 2.5% for Saudi Arabian fields. The Peak of the Oil Age

Plugging in the depletion numbers into the reserve numbers we get:
Reserve 12.6 GB, 7% depletion = 2.15 million barrels/day
Reserve 12.6 GB, 2.5% depletion = 860,000 barrels/day
Reserve 6 GB, 7% depletion = 1.15 million barrels/day
Reserve 6 GB, 2.5% depletion = 410,000 barrels/day

To get 1.8 million barrels/day you would have to be in the upper range of both reserves and depletion rate. It does not seem like a reasonable number to me.

The "wishful think" production number that is out there for Iraq is 10 million barrels a day. This article is from mid November:

Oil in a week - Iraq: Increasing Oil Production Capacity to 10 million Barrels per Day

Iraq is planning to increase its production capacity to approximately six million barrels per day within 80 months, following the singing of service contracts with a number of major international oil companies. This is in addition to the other agreements which are expected to be reached by next December, whereby Iraq’s production capacity may be increased to reach around 10 million barrels per day at the end of the next decade, compared to 2.5 million barrels per day at present. The overall cost that will be borne by the international companies investing in developing the Iraqi oil fields will amount to about one hundred billion dollars. Needless to say, these agreements are considered to be a historic event (both economically and politically), not only for Iraq, but also for the oil industry itself in the Middle East, and for the global oil industry.

Once more I'll chip in with this telling 20 year old clipping from the NYT: Iraq Expected to Seek Increase in Its Oil Quota - NYTimes.com, Sept 5, 1989

Iraq's announcement in July of a new oil reserve figure of 280 billion barrels - nearly triple the previous year's level and higher even than Saudi Arabia's - was a calculated move, people in the oil business said. 'More Politics Than Geology'

''It's a game that's being played, which is more politics than geology,'' one source said. ''It may be true that the oil is there, but it may not be economically feasible to produce it.''

Oil reserves are among the parameters used by OPEC to determine the size of a member's sales quota.

280 BBO!

From "The Mess that Greenspan Made" blog:

The November gain was the biggest increase since a 2.4 percent surge in August and brings the year-over-year change (unadjusted for inflation) back into positive territory for the first time in 15 months.

I was in several stores in the past week. Almost all alone, I noted that several had fewer than normal employees present, and one had turned the heat down and the clerks were wearing their coats to keep warm.

I don't know what planet reported gains in November... the one I live on certainly did not look recovered.

Just out of curiousity, where are you? (UK, US? Urban, Suburban, Rural?)

Urban, Dallas, Texas, USA

Wearing "Carter sweaters" in Dallas? We ARE doomed!

Half-lit stores with little to no detectable customers are fairly common where I am too.

We have so much vacant real estate in the form of houses and especially commercial stuff, that come the Revolution we'll have no problem housing our homeless folks.

Hi Zaphod and fleam,

re: "especially commercial stuff,"

Too true.

The thing that I cannot understanding is why there are still new commercial developments (from the ground up) going in, even across from the "For Lease/Sale" signs on commercial buildings.

And a local church just cleared one of the last remaining suburban orchards in order to re-locate and construct a snazzier, bigger, (better?) building.

I wrote them (friendly and nice) and tried to make the case that with the ag land they'd bought, they were sitting on a goldmine. No reply.

I don't know why I do things like this (trying to talk).

I notice that the price of oil is down below $70 and heading lower. So much for peak oil! There is obviously loads of the stuff left which is why the market is making it cheaper.


The End of Dream

To look back on the ideas that shaped the past decade is to survey a scene of wreckage. Ten years ago, the best and the brightest were believers in the "Washington consensus" - the idea that the debt-fuelled free market that had existed in the US for little more than a decade was the only economic system consistent with the imperatives of modernity, and destined to spread universally.

This article from the UK's "The New Statesman" is a couple of days old, but a quick look at the last couple of Drumbeats, didn't turn this up. Apologies if it's been posted here already, but it seems relevant and interesting.

Is there any reason why fuel cell locomotives haven't been looked into more? It seems a natural fit for fuel cells, as locomotives are already series hybrids and putting in refueling infrastructure shouldn't be too difficult. Batteries aren't an option for locomotives. Locomotives and long haul trucking would seem to fit better for fuel cells than than for light vehicles, but most of the funding has gone to light vehicles. What gives?

From what I hve heard, fuel cells are hydrogen technology. Since production of H2 is energy intensive, the end product has an EROEI of 1 or less. More like storing energy, or a battery of sorts.

Perhaps I am wrong about this, but IMO, the solution in most other industrialized countries is better - electrified rail. I mean, not just urban light rail, but the entire rail grid in Europe and Japan run on electric power, and not by using batteries.

I have been very disppointed that our President did not direct the stimulus to just that... oh, plus a new electric grid and production infrastructure. It always seemed to me that, if GM, Ford and Chrysler could retool to making tanks and trucks for war, they could be retooled to making mass transit, rail, and electrical components. Creating instant jobs, solving problems of diverse sorts, in a "yes we can" sort of way.

By 'giving' the money directly to the producers of same.

But, no. He gave the money to banks... to loan to producers, at interest, thereby extending the problems we already have of too much debt, decrepit infrastructure, inefficient transportation, etc., etc., etc.

Why carry an intermediate power box when you can have it delivered direct by wire?

I'm sure that electrification will beat any form of batteries, since the wires serve all the equipment.. you don't have to supply Fuel Cells or Batt Systems to everything that moves.. plus suffer the efficiency losses and the replacement costs, etc.

Sadly for now, diesel will still beat either of the above.. (or so many of the planners are still convinced)

I agree that electrification of the rail lines is a better solution, wholescale electrification obviously hasn't panned out yet (despite the efforts of AllanFromBigEasy (Still rooting for you Allan!)), and if fuel cells are going to become viable it seems a whole lot more likely work for locomotives than light vehicles. Plus, there's still no viable alternative in long haul trucking that I'm aware of other than biofuels. The focus of fuel cell efforts should be focused on those two sectors IMO.

In a comment on the December 7 drumbeat I asked how practical it would be to set up a combined cycle type power plant for rail road or marine applications. A combined cycle plant using diesel for the turbine should easily be able to trump a reciprocating piston engine in terms of efficiency. I'm thinking the same way trains have two or more locomotives, they could have a rolling power plant covering two or three (or more) rail cars. If the cost of diesel goes crazy, a 50% increase in fuel efficiency might be a big deal.

Alan from the islands

Link from TAE:
U.S. Foreclosures to Reach Record 3.9 Million in 2009 (Bloomberg)

And, the article on David Attenborough (The sad decline of David Attenborough, up top) is quite a cornucopian screed. Thanks for the link, Leanan. In my view, Attenborough is on the right track in his thinking, though I'm slowly becoming convinced that addressing the global problems with our species is impossible. We will overshoot (or already have), and most people don't want to think about it too hard.

I'm betting that the Singularity will save us in the end. ;-P

Not to worry!

Report Shows Strong Start to U.S. Retailers’ Holiday Season

A strong start to the holiday shopping season helped push retail sales up nearly twice as much as expected in November, the government said Friday, signaling that consumers may be opening their wallets even in the face of a grim job market.

Denninger is skeptical.

Yergh. Maybe ...... the public I've been dealing with is a little tired for the most part of "awareness" ribbons of various colors, and I've been considering making up "poi balls", just good basic, beginner and kid friendly ones, to hustle, but now the weather's too damn cold and wet to even consider the 50 motorcycle-miles out to Santa Cruz to hustle 'em.

There may be SOME things that are selling. For some reason, the movie theaters are doing well, I don't see movies any more, too expensive, but a lot of people are. Just like the last Depression. And there's some sort of new Furby or something that's doing well. Small, cheap, pleasures may be doing well.

As for me, my spending is as close to zero as I can get it and that's pretty close. Here's to a non-commercial Yule!


Send me your address via my email in my profile, I'll send you a small gift to make your Christmas a bit happier.


I didn't read the whole article on Attenborough.I can't see any advantage in wasting time on cornucopian crap.
In Australia we have a small movement for sensible population policies - Google "Sustainable Population Australia".We even have a Labor federal MP (Kelvin Thomson)who has been very vocal on this issue.

However,as with climate change,the deniers are out in force at every level.I believe that nothing short of a crash will change this.Most people only learn from pain.

Oh, I don't know about there not being any advantage. These days, I find myself reading more of "the other side", because I think it is important to see what they are saying. As you say, "the deniers are out in force at every level". The only way to combat them effectively is to know them:

So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.
- Sun Tzu, The Art of War

but we also must remember:

All warfare is based on deception.
- Sun Tzu, The Art of War

I'm glad to hear about the more positive things going on in Australia. Sometimes, I think that the entire world will be convinced that the human species needs to change its ways, but the U.S. will still be clinging desperately to our "non-negotiable lifestyle". ;-)

Hi thirra,

Since it's so late...I may as well share a little different take on:

re: "Most people only learn from pain."

Actually, most people only learn in an atmosphere of acceptance, opportunity and nurture, where they're treated with respect. Except for military training, I suppose. Even there, though, it depends on the "job." Pain never trained pilots or doctors.

Pain usually causes trauma. And trauma tends to perpetuate itself, via the traumatized.

Into the "seventh generation."

And here we are.

Wow HUGE article in the economist--Basically IEA officially-unofficially calling for peak oil. This is definitely big news


And it's the top story in yesterday's DrumBeat. :-)

Sorry my b.

Link up top: The sad decline of David Attenborough

This article is the biggest load of crap I have read in many months.

How can someone who once commissioned The Ascent of Man now churn out such human-hating parables?

What exactly are David Attenborough's human-hating qualities? Is it: "Attenborough believes that we cannot solve this crisis without birth control."?

Or perhaps it's: "As the most intelligent creatures on the planet, Attenborough argues, we have a moral obligation to the rest of the world to rein in our destructive tendencies and live within the limits of what nature provides.".

No, I think the author, Rob Lions, main point of contention with Attenborough is: "Moreover, the logical upshot of his belief that humanity is wrecking the planet is for people to be stopped from having children, not merely by gentle persuasion, but by force if necessary, as people in China have discovered to their cost."

Mr. Lions apparently believes that the people's right to bear as many children as they desire should be put before the welfare of our host, planet earth. Apparently he is just too stupid to realize that once we destroy our host, we in turn destroy every living thing on our host, including ourselves. He concludes his article with this very idiotic utterance.

If we accept, as Attenborough would like us to, that there are insurmountable natural limits upon the drive to raise the whole of humanity out of poverty or that we should put the planet before its people, we may very well end up with the kind of humanitarian disaster that Attenborough says he is seeking to avoid.

That's right, if we put the welfare of the host planet before the people who rely upon it for the substance of life, we will end up with a kind of humanitarian disaster. What he is just too stupid to realize is that a humanitarian disaster is already a lead pipe cinch. However the disaster may be mitigated...somewhat...if we were to take Attenborough's advice. Fat chance of that happening though.

Sorry for the rant but such really stupid articles really piss me off. His comments about Malthus contributed to my ire also.

Ron P.

The "Malthus was wrong, let's not even think about population, let alone call for people to stop having so many kids" meme that so often seems to unite the political right and the political left against the "human-hating" greens must have deep biological roots. Clearly, so the meme runs, if you even mention population control you are a baby-hating, authoritarian party-pooper. And we all know that babies are so cute, so let's just have a few billion more.

I said this earlier today, and it s/b in this string as well:

Between Catholics, Mormons and Pentacostals, Libertarians, Neo-Nazis, and the established feelings and beliefs in the USA about "freedoms," and general opposition to authority, anyone 'trying' to limit population growth, much less decrease total numbers, will have a real problem.

I was reading this yesterday ...

An Extreme Case
In the summer of 1963, the reindeer population had reached its peak density on the island. The stage had been set for the Saint Matthew Island reindeer to undergo a major population decline following the extreme over-exploitation of lichens, the major component of their winter diet. The severity of the crash die-off that led to the extirpation of the population resulted from the deadly combination of lack of available food and extreme stress from the wintery weather. Although the reindeer of Saint Matthew Island are not the only reindeer population to be introduced to an area, reach peak population levels, and then decline because of over-exploitation of resources, they did experience an unprecedented level of die-off as a direct result of the extreme weather.


And this today ...

Resource Depletion
Two major explanations for collapse are subsumed under this theme: the gradual deterioration or depletion of a resource base (usually agricultural), often due to mismanagement, and the more rapid loss of resources due to an environmental fluctuation or climatic shift. Both are thought to cause collapse of through the depletion of resources on which a complex society depends.

Tainter, 1988

There are those days when I love your rants, Ron.

Lion's willingness to 'critique' Attenborough reminds me of that Twain quote ..

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.” —Mark Twain

.. but we probably won't get to hear Lions trumpet out his endorsement for that latter half.

The thing that fascinates me is the way that most people feel that it's defeatist to think about limits to natural resources and OK leave problems to future generations and yet (certainly up until about a year or so ago) they consider that monetary restrictions are something people have to work strictly within: it'd be considered immoral for me to take out a 20 grand loan that it's my kid's responsibility to figure out a way to repay. (I think most people still actually think money is something that has to be honoured, they just consider loans some magical process that produces real money in their bank accounts.) In fact, they consider it a "valid" reason to not have children yet, or not have more children, for financial reasons.

My only hypothesis is that whilst growing up we never encounter scarcity of items that isn't also associated with lack of money so we learn to consider money the quantity that can determine one's actions.

Sorry for the rant but such really stupid articles really piss me off. His comments about Malthus contributed to my ire also.

I at least would be a lot less concerned about the future of humanity if I encountered more people who were really pissed off about such stupidity and not afraid to express it!

"Stupid is as Stupid Does"

Hope I didn't miss this Leanan. If you already reported it my apologies. But the following article is the first I've seen of us going to coal gasification to produce fertilizer. From a AGW standpoint, the Sierra club, with others, forces Southeast Idaho Energy to commit to 58% underground CO2 sequestration within 5 years, and the purchase of offsets to that level prior to that. Clearly precedent setting and bringing net CO2 emissions to roughly what they would be in a natural gas fertilizer plant. A whole number of telling items in this project. As an itinerant tree farmer about to market 300,000 tons of offsets this means a great deal to me.


State owned Dong Energy (Denmark) has abandoned plans for a coal fired plant in Lubmin, North-East Germany.
The pull-out is the third this year more after similar projects in Doerpen and Mainz were cancelled, too.

Its winter, its cold, and the Ukraine/Russia axis are up to their old tricks:


... he said it would be "extremely difficult" for the government to pay state salaries and pensions or to cover foreign obligations, including, crucially, monthly payments to Russia.

Ukraine is Europe's most troubled large economy. Its economy shrank by 15% this year.

OMG! I know E & C is a stock promotion site, but you gotta read the first item!

Here's a snippet:

We are not only lost in our illusions... we're in love with them.

for the rest, first article...



This is a link to several articles Zap, and they change often, rather like The Energy Bulletin. Which one drew your "Wow!"?

Ron P.

Sorry I didn't respond - I was away from the internet for a while.

Yes, that is the one I meant,

He meant this one:

Real Solutions to the Energy and Climate Crises

and thanks for covering for me.

This author also posts here, BTW. Good to see it out there, just the same.

From, the "Smart Meters" item posted above,

"Tens, hundreds of billions of dollars are going to be spent on installing smart meter technology. How much is being spent on behavioral research? Nothing. That's mind-blowing."

Am I the only one who thinks smart meters are not about making consumers more aware, but about having a way to turn off the gas when they are late with their payments, without having to actually 'hire' someone to physically do it? I mean, this way they are able to outsource the turn off, and do it on the cheap. Whaddya wanna bet they don't lower the 'service fee' associated?

Actually its more to do with reading the meters without human hands, and paving the way for more complex demand led pricing (good for the power companies, bad for the consumer).

I've never met a 'smart' meter, just a more detailed meter with backhaul. Truly smart would be to incorporate feed-in electronics as standard for distributed power generation. Or actionable information.

It is infrastructure to allow the utilities to more easily read meters, and it gives them the HW needed to switch to time of use rates etc. If there were a big easily readable display is say the kitchen, so that the acual home owners saw the current usage it might mean some conservation happens, but these are usually in some far off corner of the outside wall. I bet most homeowners don't even know where their meter is.

And PG&E spent some nontrivial bucks to replace my smart meter with a net meter -because of my grid connected PV. I suspect that way they can capture the data about how much energy my system produced, and then claim it as part of their renewables mandate.

Looks like we are breaking through the floor price of $70/ barrel



Boon From Canadian Oil Sands

A picture tells a thousand words and MSNBC, a hack news organization if there ever was, makes big points with this poignant picture gallery of the Canadian Oil Sands.


Re the Richard Heinberg article in Post Carbon - "Is Clean Coal a Dead End" - of course the answer is a bleeding obvious,yes.

However,Heinberg skips over nuclear as a viable option while saying that it will be difficult to get renewables up to scratch quickly enough.It is a great pity that many of the environmental intelligentsia have this massive blind spot,more from an idealogical mindset rather than a rational examination of the nuclear possibilities.

We do not have the luxury of time to debate this sort of issue.What works and is relatively non-polluting will have to be used if we are to have any hope of avoiding a catastrophe.

"it will be difficult to get renewables up to scratch quickly enough.."

If we're trying to build out nuclear, we'll have the luxury of a whole lot of time to be discussing things before they produce any power.. of course, that's not even my objection to fission, but I remain unconvinced that Nuclear would be able to help us avoid a catastrophe. It would mean an overwhelming dependence on a complex and continually expensive process.

Wind, Geothermal and solar install in days to months, and the loss of a few doesn't knock out thousands of homes.

Blind spot, or open-eyed objection..


Clearly, we will need to find substitutes for oil. But an analysis of the current energy alternatives is not reassuring. Solar and wind are renewable, but we now get less than one percent of our national energy budget from them; rapid growth will be necessary if they are to replace even a significant fraction of the energy shortfall from post-peak oil. Nuclear power is dogged by the unsolved problem of radioactive waste disposal.

Too bad you have to characterize this objection to some bogeyman of a frozen ideological stance. It might simply be a logical one.

Nuclear power is dogged by the unsolved problem of radioactive waste disposal.

Come now, what's a 500,000 year half life between species.
Or is it only 250,000.
Can't remember.

Even if you looked the half-lives up today and tried to hang on to it, our whole civilization would have forgotten we'd ever even buried that concentrated pile of piles within 200-1000 years anyway.

Cleverly Outsourcing responsibility to, uhh, whoever!

It's 24,000 years half-life for Plutonium 239. Any nation that has nuclear arms needs to keep watch for 10 times the half-life, 240,000 years, anyway, until all danger is gone. Or you burn the stuff in a suitable reactor, getting more highly radioactive, but shorter-life, waste.

Or they can do what is done already and that is to burn this "waste" in fast neutron reactor cores.

From an article above; 'Quake Threat Leads Swiss to Close Geothermal Project', with the link,


is this bit of information:

The report comes as the United States Energy Department is preparing its own review of the safety of a closely related project, by a start-up company called AltaRock Energy, in the hills north of San Francisco.

The article is about this company's first project in Basel, Switzerland, in which their cutting edge geothermal project caused 9 million dollars in property damage by causing earthquakes. The project leader, Haring (an oil man) is going on trial next week on criminal charges.

But they also have a newer project just 10 miles (in a straight line) from our community. We've been following this project and I keep debating with my wife if we should pay for earthquake insurance. Guess that decision depends on the DOE and how fast they act. Please, not another monthly expense!

I searched in vain at Real Climate for any serious engagement of Dave Rutledge’s projections of peak mineable coal. This remains a source of difficulty for me regarding IPCC projections. Can someone direct me to a sustained discussion of peak oil, and especially peak coal, on any climate change website?

Re: A tiny glimpse into the attitude of the financial elite

Item 1:

Max Keiser's latest video clip includes a shot of a vanity plate on the back of a Porsche Cayenne Turbo SUV (roughly $60K), and supposedly belonging to a vice-chairman of Morgan Stanley. The New York vanity plate reads: 2BG2FAIL (too big to fail).

Item 2:

Last year, while at a local shopping mall, I saw a red Dodge Viper ($65K+) parked at the far edge of the lot. It had a Delaware vanity plate that read: CUZICAN (cause I can).

Aside from being incredibly tacky and in poor taste and revealing the owners to be hopelessly arrogant a**holes, the vanity plates of both these vehicles do embody a certain attitude. Which I think can best be summed up as: 'I've got mine, and all you Little People can go look on with envy'.

Given all those unemployed people out there, I fear that both of these represent an ugly incident just waiting to happen. But I must confess that if something did happen, it couldn't happen to a nicer pair of guys. (I say 'guys' here because I assume that a woman would have more style and taste, but these days who can say?)

Whats more, these type of people regard any criticism of their vehicle choices as mere jealousy.

I'm ashamed of you.

In less time than it took to write that, assuming you kept the supplies with you ready to go, you could have doused-and-lit BOTH cars.

Put on a blonde wig, push a cart, hell put on a DRESS, it's only common sense to have a good disguise, do the deed as you flounce by, then off the scene and walk back in as Mr. You, and drive off.

You can do a lot without a lot of tech.

The article about food miles above is similar to others I have seen on this topic. It appears that the authors make no distinction between easily stored food that can be shipped in bulk, such as coffee, tea, grains and spices, and highly perishable items like produce, meat and dairy that require refrigerated airplanes.

They also make assumptions that people travel further to use farmer's markets than supermarkets. This may be true for all I know. If they want to encourage more people to bike and walk to the market, I'm with them, but they typically use this as a device to try to illustrate how absurd the local food movement is. In my own case, I bike to both the farmer's market and the grocery store, so I think considering the source of my food still matters. My own experience with eating local foods in season, and going shopping under my own power is that I am very careful in planning menus and shopping trips. You don't catch me just running out for a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk very often!

Needless to say, there is no value placed on the better nutrition and taste of fresh, seasonal, local foods, or the social and economic benefits in our own communities. They try to make us feel bad for the Africans who have been convinced to grow food for the commodities markets instead of for their own families, and we are of course not supposed to notice the devastation to our own rural families and communities of long-distance commodity agriculture.

In my opinion, the solution will be a combination of lots of self-sufficiency--backyard gardens and hens, a wider ring of semi-local producers of grains, pulses etc, and dairy and meat (to be consumed at far lower quantities than the present), and high prices for those precious items shipped long distances, such as spices, oils, coffee, tea, and maybe sugar. In other words, a system that looks a lot like the one that existed until the last century.

On a drizzly, cool day I walked to the Saturday Farmer's & Fisher's Market today, 0.7 miles and back (1.4 miles RT)(I drive or take the streetcar when I pick up a 25 lb sack of local milled brown rice). Several grocery stores are closer, but I can walk to all of them. Bought 1.25 lb of black drum fillets, broccoli, satsuma oranges and fresh strawberries at the market.

Yesterday I planted my second flush of beets (turnips, spinach, parsnips, broccoli, leeks also in) and last week I saw my first blossoms on my papaya tree (experiment). All crops were planted later than I should have (next year I will do better). I will plant a satsuma, fig, loquat, lemon and other trees soon.

A dairy (processing plant) and bakery are both within 7 blocks of me.

Bottom line, not THAT much energy to feed me !

Best Hopes,


While your own energy use to pick up the food may be small, the energy used to bring the food to you from the surrounding area may be much larger. Don't forget, the grocery stores you visit are feeding lots of other people, trying to make a profit. If the cost of fuel to deliver to those grocery stores or market places rises high enough, the grocer or the venders are going to find it hard to make a profit. Your garden sounds great, but the other folks around you without the foresight or the space may want to take the fruits of your efforts if they get hungry...

E. Swanson

The fisherman lives in New Orleans East and fishes the nearby marshes. Direct line from fish to my table, perhaps 20 to 25 miles. Actual distance traveled probably closer to 35 miles.

Rice grower is 70 to 80 miles away.

Broccoli 50 to 60 miles, satsuma oranges about 25 miles, strawberries 40 to 50 miles away.

Zara's, the second generation grocery store I use most, makes a point in stocking local sources of food, but they also have the berries from Chile, Mexican strawberries, mangos, etc. They get their bread from a local bakery and the dairy is 7 blocks away.

In the early 1800s, produce was brought into New Orleans by water. Small barges across the lake, some downriver (wheat) and bananas & spices by sailing ship. In late 1800s, rail replaced most of that.

At a maximum, I will get half my food from my garden. Too much to eat sometimes, but almost nothing at other times.

Best Hopes for Local Food,


Back to total liquids. One area that is not discussed is the liquids that exit the wellhead. Liquids and gas come from the wellhead. The liquids drop out in the pipeline and collect there. Periodically a pig is run down the line to push the liquids to the slug catcher. Slug catches are upstream of the gas plant. The purpose of a slug catcher is to remove the liquids from the gas. The liquids go to a storage tank and are trucked to another site for use. The gas goes to the gas plant to separate propane, ethane, butane, etc. Liquids that come from the well are termed “white gas”. White gas will burn in your automobile but has a very low octane. I once bought a “harp” type slug catcher that was as long as a football field. That will give you a good idea of how much liquid comes from the well.

The idea of burning gas such as natural gas or propane in a diesel engine is not possible. First the injectors squirt liquid into the cylinder. Injectors will not inject a gas. Injectors on gasoline engines work from an entirely different concept. Diesel injectors are plungers or injection pumps that pump the fuel into the cylinder. Pumps will not pump gas. The second thing is diesel burns in the cylinder down the full length of the power stroke whereas gas explodes in the cylinder of the gas engine. The two are incompatible. Third, diesel lubricates the upper part of the cylinder. Gas is dry with no lubrication properties. The engine will destroy itself without lubrication in the upper cylinder.