Drumbeat: December 19, 2009

Iran rejects reports of Iraqi oil well seizure as attempt to harmties

TEHRAN (Xinhua) -- Iran on Saturday rejected the reports that an Iraqi oil well was taken over by Iranian armed forces as an attempt to harm the relations between the two neighboring countries, the official IRNA news agency reported.

"Foreign media made unfounded allegation ... and attempted to disrupt friendly relations between Iran and Iraq by propaganda campaign," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted as saying.

"Iran and Iraq currently enjoy friendly and excellent ties," he said. "Those who are not satisfied with such friendly ties between the two countries try to create rift by spreading improper language."

Iraq masses troops on Iran border amid oil well row

Iraqi troops massed Saturday near an oil well on the border in a standoff with Iranian forces that seized control of the site in a sudden flare up of tension between the two uneasy neighbors.

Some Europe refiners stop taking Saudi heavy crude

Europe's demand for oil from Middle Eastern OPEC producers as a whole has fallen due partly to a sharp fall in consumer and industry demand for oil products such as gasoline and diesel, sources at many European refineries said.

"The call on OPEC from Europe has been reduced this year. There is so much crude around in a low demand environment," the execuive at the second refinery said.

The fall in demand for OPEC crude is in part a function of the recession, in part of a result of OPEC supply cuts, and is also a factor in the wider shift of demand to Asia.

Shell Nigeria has no reports of attack on facilities

LAGOS (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) said on Saturday it had no reports of attacks on facilities operated by its SPDC joint venture in Nigeria, following a claim by militants to have struck an oil pipeline overnight.

Nigeria: Fuel crisis to grow worse

Twelve days to the end of the year and few days after the Nigeria Labour Congress succumbed to sustained pressure from the Federal Government to embrace the deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry, there are indications that the fuel scarcity currently being experienced all over the country could worsen.

Good News and Bad News?

I suppose if you focus on current supply and demand, you can make a case for lower oil prices. If oil was a renewable resource, this would make sense. But oil’s not a renewable resource. Oil is finite. We may not know exactly how much oil exists today. And we may not be able to predict how much oil is yet-to-be discovered.

But we do know that non-OPEC oil production has been in decline since 2004. And it’s not just a lack of investment in new production that’s causing the decline. It’s also a matter of oil fields like the North Sea and Mexico’s Cantarell simply not producing as much as they once did.

Some now estimate that demand could meet current production capacity in the next five years. Of course, the global economy has to keep rebounding for this to happen. But if it does, oil prices will be a lot higher than they are right now.

Certified data show that Venezuela's oil production decreased in November

The latest official certified data of oil exports compiled by the British firm Inspectorate say that Venezuela's crude oil production in November declined compared with October.

According to a paper prepared by Juan Carlos Boué, a senior adviser of Venezuela's Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, published in Middle East Economic Survey, a weekly newsletter focusing on the region's energy strategies and developments, Venezuelan oil exports certified by Inspectorate stood at 2,397,000 barrels of oil per day in November.

Big Oilfield Service Cos May Benefit from Exxon's XTO Buyout

Exxon Mobil Corp.'s move to buy one of the leading U.S. natural gas producers could provide a boost to big oilfield service companies that have been hit hard by a downturn in the North American drilling market.

China Facing Economic, Financial and Stock Market Crash Scenario

Don't confuse unsound lending and pervasive speculation in China with inflation in the US. Remember that commodity prices are set at the margin, and in this case the margin include pig farmers.

If you are looking for inflation, the place to find it is in China, not the US.

China is in a Scylla or Charybdis scenario. If China continues to inflate it will overheat. If it doesn't, unemployment and unrest will soar, and the economy will implode. Either way, there is no winning solution.

Peak oil and environmental pollution compound China's problem immensely. China is simply on an unsustainable path for many reasons.

UAE’s Nuclear Future

The UAE-US nuclear deal is now operative. With the exchange of notes between officials of both the countries at the US State Department, the Agreement for Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation will see transfer of nuclear fuel, technology and know-how to the UAE.

Plan B 4.0 by the Numbers – Data Highlights on Selling our Future

Another concern addressed in Plan B 4.0 is how the growing consumption of the earth’s resources is clearly unsustainable. Examining commodity consumption in merely two countries, the United States and China, makes this point.

China now consumes more grain than the United States. It consumes almost twice as much meat, roughly three times as much coal, and nearly four times as much steel. But what would happen if China’s 1.3 billion people were to consume commodities at the same rate as the United States’ 300 million?

Transition Network Seeks Diversity: Shouldn't We All?

When I wrote about efforts by Transition Brixton to launch its own currency, commenter Liz voiced her concerns that it was an exercise in "right-on-ness" due to the relative lack of ethnic diversity represented. Others have worried that the Transition Towns Movement feels like a rebranding of back-to-the-land ideals, appealing to a self-selecting group of green-minded souls. If Transition groups really do offer a viable, community-led response to peak oil and climate change, then it is vital they reach beyond the usual suspects. Luckily, the signs are good that the Transition movement is fully aware that preaching to the converted is no longer an option.

In fact, the Transition Network is actively seeking a paid Diversity Project Coordinator to help the network achieve its goal to successfully engage across culture, race, faith and income groups.

The High Cost of Ignoring Beauty

Jacobs’s ideas have shared the fate of every prophecy in recorded history, which is to be ignored until it is too late to act on them. Her message has been taken up and refined in recent years by James Howard Kunstler who, in The Geography of Nowhere, describes the aesthetic and moral disaster of American urbanization, as the zoning laws drive people constantly further from their places of work and recreation, leaving the abandoned wreckage of fleeting businesses in their wake. Kunstler has gone on to argue (in The Long Emergency) that suburbanization, which is the only consensual solution to the disaster, is unsustainable, and that America is preparing an extended emergency for itself when the oil runs out.

Whether or not you go along with Kunstler’s doom scenario, the question that Jacobs has bequeathed to us remains. How do we get out of the mess? If the problem is planning, how can we plan to avoid it? And is there no distinction between a good plan and a bad plan? Wasn’t Venice planned, after all, and Ephesus, and Bath, and a thousand other triumphs of urbanization?

OPEC may need to cut supply in 2010, not now: PFC

LUANDA: OPEC could have to cut oil supply by 1 million barrels per day (bpd) early in 2010 if weak demand results in a further rise in already swollen global inventories, consultancy PFC Energy said in a report.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting in Angola on Tuesday was expected to keep supply steady because of concern any cut could push prices higher and threaten global economic recovery. But high inventories could force OPEC's hand early next year, before the second quarter when seasonal demand is typically at its lowest, PFC said. "OPEC could face the prospects of needing to undertake Herculean efforts to tighten up fundamentals in early 2010," PFC Energy said in the report.

You Can't Trust the 2010 EIA Annual Energy Outlook

Suppose you worked at the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the agency within the U.S. Department of Energy charged with keeping data and making projections on energy, and you had to produce an annual report with a scenario for the next 25 years.

Being an intelligent and informed investor, you might grapple with the $147 to $33 range in oil prices over the last year and try to imagine how such volatility might happen in the future.

You might be tempted to model a few economic factors such as GDP growth rates and credit availability, and how they affect investment in energy supply.

You might consider the price at which producing a barrel of oil or a thousand cubic feet of natural gas becomes profitable, and the price at which it becomes too expensive and destroys demand.

Iraq Says Iran Violated Border, Calls for Withdrawal

The border “is not clearly delineated, is in desert and is in dispute anyway,” said Edward Morse, head of economic research at LCM Commodities LLC in New York. “The possession of an unproductive well seems a strange thing on which to hang a national crisis.”

Morse is a former deputy assistant secretary of state for international energy policy.

Energy analysts and traders were surprised at the incursion, which comes days before Iran and Iraq meet fellow members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries at a Dec. 22 meeting in Luanda, Angola.

“We don’t need any more conflict in that part of the world,” OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla el-Badri said when told of the incident today at the climate summit in Copenhagen. “I hope that is not true.”

Iraq Accuses Iran of Seizing Oil Well Near Border

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iranian forces crossed into Iraq and seized an oil well just over the two countries' disputed border, Iraq's government said Friday, prompting a protest from Baghdad and providing a dramatic display of the sometimes tenuous relations between the wary allies.

The incident could trouble Iraq's drive to attract the international investment needed to develop its beleaguered oil sector, analysts said, and it raised questions about the two countries' ties, which had improved greatly after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

U.S. Diplomat: Iraq 'Not Going to Be Pushed Around' by Iran

BAGHDAD — Iraq is "not going to be pushed around" by Iran, the top U.S. diplomat in Iraq said Saturday following an Iranian takeover of an oil well along the two nations' disputed border.

U.S. officials said they approved of Iraq's speedy defense of its sovereignty amid ongoing concerns over Iran's influence on its Mideast neighbor.

"It does speak to the overall view here that they are not going to be pushed around by Iran," U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill told reporters.

Nigeria Rebels Say They Attacked Shell, Chevron Pipe

(Bloomberg) -- Nigeria’s rebel Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said it attacked an oil pipeline used by Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Chevron Corp., the first assault in five months claimed by the group.

The “warning strike” at Abonemma in Nigeria’s southern oil region was to protest the lack of progress in talks with the government since President Umaru Yar’Adua was hospitalized in November, Jomo Gbomo, a spokesman for the group also known as MEND, said in an e-mailed statement today.

Midwest Oil Costs May Rise on 4.2 Million Barrel Suncor Outage

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. refiners in the Midwest may see crude costs rise after Suncor Energy Inc. said its oil sands production may decline as much as 4.2 million barrels while an Alberta upgrader is repaired.

A Dec. 15 fire will curb output at one of the company’s two oil sands upgraders north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, by 120,000 to 150,000 barrels a day during repairs that are anticipated to last between two and four weeks, Suncor said yesterday. Synthetic light, sweet, crude, or syncrude, produced by the upgraders is shipped to refineries in the U.S. Midwest, or Padd 2, region.

Nord Stream Gets Approval to Build Gas Pipeline Through Russia

(Bloomberg) -- Russia approved the construction of the Nord Stream natural-gas pipeline through its waters, becoming the third country to grant permission for the OAO Gazprom-led link across the Baltic Sea.

Gas Natural, Morgan Stanley Reach Deal

MADRID -- Spain's Gas Natural SDG SA said Saturday it has reached an agreement to sell just over 500,000 Madrid gas and electricity sales points to Morgan Stanley's infrastructure business and Portuguese energy company Galp Energia SGPS SA for EUR800 million ($1.2 billion).

Caltex Weighs Possible Purchases as Oil Companies Exit Refining

(Bloomberg) -- Caltex Australia Ltd., blocked from buying Exxon Mobil Corp. filling stations in the country, said it’s weighing bids for overseas refining and fuel retailing businesses as rivals including Royal Dutch Shell Plc sell assets.

U.S. natural gas rigs climb 16 to 773 for week

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the United States climbed 16 this week to 773, 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 on July 17 at 665, its lowest level since May 3, 2002, when there were 640 gas rigs operating.

But the rig count is still down sharply since peaking above 1,600 in September of last year, standing 593 rigs, or 43 percent, below the same week in 2008.

The Future of America’s Natural Gas

Low gas prices means, suddenly we’re drilling a lot fewer gas wells. No one wants to drill anymore.

Currently, in order to maintain U.S. production, we have to add between 17, 18, 19 Bcf (billion cubic feet) additional gas per day. At the current rate of drilling, we’re adding 9 Bcf a day production, so there’s obviously a shortfall.

And a shortfall means eventually the price of gas has to start going up.

China’s Coking Coal Shortage to Spur Demand Fight

(Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s largest steelmaker, faces a shortage of coking coal that may drive imports next year and spur a fight for resources with Japanese and South Korean mills, two Chinese industry groups said.

A year later, TVA chief says ash spill `painful'

KINGSTON, Tenn. - The Tennessee Valley Authority's top executive says changing the way waste is stored at its power plants should reduce the risk of another disastrous coal ash spill like the one that tarnished a riverside community a year ago. But he isn't offering any guarantees.

Revenue prepares to close North Sea national insurance loophole

The Government is investigating a tax loophole that has allowed the North Sea oil industry to avoid paying hundreds of millions of pounds in national insurance contributions, The Times has learnt.

The scheme, which has been exploited for years by scores of companies, including the FTSE 100 oil services group Petrofac, is depriving the Treasury of as much as £70 million a year, according to estimates from one of the world’s biggest accountancy firms.

Ethanol Futures Extend Declines as Dollar Gains Against Euro

(Bloomberg) -- Ethanol futures declined for a 11th day to the lowest in more than two months amid speculation the strengthening dollar will reduce U.S. corn exports and producers will boost output.

The biofuel dropped as the dollar extended its biggest rally against the euro since January, after the European Central Bank raised its estimates for writedowns by 13 percent in countries that use the currency.

Head of Geopower Basel faces jail for causing earthquakes

A geologist searching for cheap, clean energy is facing up to five years in jail for causing a series of earthquakes after drilling 3 miles (5km) down in an effort to generate electricity from hot rocks.

Markus Häring, the head of Geopower Basel, a thermal energy company, was testing pioneering technology to blast cold water deep underground and create steam to drive electric turbines. Mr Häring’s company had to stop when it recorded an earthquake measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale and a series of smaller tremors that led to 3,500 claims for damages from homeowners and a compensation bill of SwFr9 million (£5.4 million).

Peaceful nuclear energy

KUWAIT: HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah emphasized on Kuwait's keenness to utilize nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. It intends to use it as an alternative source of energy as one of its development projects' priorities.

General Electric Inches Ahead With a Proposed Reactor

General Electric may have lost most of its American customers for an advanced new model reactor, the Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor, but it is pressing ahead with the one company still clearly in the market, Detroit Edison, and is exploring whether it could build reactor parts in Michigan for projects around the world.

Stressed solar looks beyond Wall St. for capital

SAN FRANCISCO/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The solar industry needs $2 billion to expand next year, but with Wall Street still nervous about backing risky and capital intensive ventures, companies are looking beyond to boutique banks and other sources of funding to avoid falling behind.

Government sources, state-owned banks for Chinese players and small investment advisory firms are stepping into the shoes of the big banks that helped companies solar companies raise millions in the public markets during their first waves of expansion.

Bottled water sales dry up; industry asks ‘why?’

After steady expansion that saw U.S. per capita consumption grow from less than two gallons a year to a peak of 29 in 2007, bottled water sales slipped 3.2 percent in 2008 and are projected to dip another 2 percent this year, according to estimates by the Beverage Marketing Corporation, a New York research and consulting firm.

The primary cause of the decline is hotly contested.

Producers defend oil sands emissions

The carbon footprint left by oil sands crude has been a target of criticism throughout the Copenhagen talks on climate change.

Canada has been handed "fossil awards" and accused of being "climate criminals" almost daily -- often with the accompanying chorus that crude oil production in the tar sands is "two to three times worse" for the environment than any other supply of oil on the planet.

But back home, the oil industry and the government of Alberta are fighting back against suggestions that oil from northern Alberta is exponentially worse for the planet than the conventional stuff pulled from places like the U.S. gulf coast and Saudi Arabia.

Eight ways to cool a warming planet Cuts to greenhouse gas emissions are widely considered the most prudent strategy to cool the planet, but some scientists say the politics and economics of this process are unfolding too slowly to prevent the climate from a catastrophic disruption. In addition, the cuts to emissions going forward do nothing to reduce the risk from carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere, noted David Keith, a climate change researcher at the University of Calgary in Canada.

As a result, further manipulation of the climate system via a range of so-called geo-engineering schemes is attracting greater interest. The ideas fall in two categories: removing carbon dioxide from the air and making the earth more reflective. "The big fear about geo-engineering is that knowing that it is possible will make people less likely to cut emissions," Keith said. "And that is a very serious and legitimate concern. ... I share it, but I think it is better to talk about things in a straightforward way than pretend they are not there."

Obama Climate Accord Labeled Failure by Environmental Groups

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. President Barack Obama called a climate change agreement with China and about 20 other nations an “unprecedented” move to slow global warming. Environmental groups called it a failure.

Climate deal on knife edge as poor nations vent fury

COPENHAGEN (AFP) – A climate change deal woven by US President Barack Obama and other top leaders hung in the balance Saturday after smaller nations lashed the pact as a betrayal.

Obama announced an "unprecedented breakthrough" after meetings with about two dozen presidents and prime ministers in Copenhagen for the finale of the landmark UN summit on the world's answer to global warming.

But after talks through the night, the arduously-crafted "Copenhagen Accord" had been badly mauled.

Copenhagen climate summit: Five possible scenarios for our future climate

With talks in Copenhagen descending into chaos, the prospects for stabilising temperatures below 'dangerous' levels look increasingly slim. Here are five possible scenarios for our future climate.

U.S. Companies Shut Out as Iraq Auctions Its Oil Fields

Those who claim that the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 to get control of the country's giant oil reserves will be left scratching their heads by the results of last weekend's auction of Iraqi oil contracts: Not a single U.S. company secured a deal in the auction of contracts that will shape the Iraqi oil industry for the next couple of decades. Two of the most lucrative of the multi-billion-dollar oil contracts went to two countries which bitterly opposed the U.S. invasion — Russia and China — while even Total Oil of France, which led the charge to deny international approval for the war at the U.N. Security Council in 2003, won a bigger stake than the Americans in the most recent auction.

Has it ever made any sense that the U.S. invaded Iraq for the benefit of American oil companies for the benefit of the shareholders of Exxon Mobil, Chevron, or any of the over two dozen or so smaller companies? By what stretch of logic can anyone make that claim?

I have always been skeptical of this “oil grab” story. The U.S. does not have a national oil company. We have only public (shareholder owned) companies and privately owned companies. So any oil grab would have to have been a grab for commercial oil companies. In that light the oil grab story just does not make any sense whatsoever.

So if it was all about oil as many claim, then please explain that rationale.

Ron P.

I never thought it was about 'stealing' the oil directly but it certainly was a geo-strategetic invasion to secure the region. Not that much securing has happened. There is no doubt that had there not been so much oil in the region the war would never have happened.

There is no doubt that had there not been so much oil in the region the war would never have happened.

That is an extremely bold statement supported by nothing but supposition. It is just another way of saying "it was all about oil."

One can make the argument that Desert Storm was about an oil grab by Iraq. Then the next target for Saddam might have been Saudi Arabia. But the same argument cannot be made about the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Officially it was about "Weapons of Mass Destruction". Unoficially it was about George W. Bush wanting his war, wanting his glory. So the weapons of mass destruction was his made up excuse.

Had there been no oil in Kuwait there would have been no invasion by Saddam. So in a round about way it was about oil. But it was not a grab by the U.S. that set it off, it was a grab by Iraq.

But the claim that it was an oil grab by the U.S. does not make any sense and if you make the claim that there is no doubt that it was, then you must justify that statement.

Ron P.

What if it was more about who WOULDN'T get the oil more than about who would.
Oil is a global arbitrage market and the price reflects that so even if some other has control as long as they are not hostile it ends up being a John Nash type situation.
China has to get it's oil from somewhere and geographically the ME makes sense.
It is probably to prevent Iran or other hostiles from getting involved since Iraq was extremely weak after the first gulf war.

"What if it was more about who WOULDN'T get the oil more than about who would." BINGO! Although I would say CONTROL the oil not get.

It also helps to get the rest of the world on our side if it looks like we are not funneling Iraq oil directly to US but as everyone is always stating oil is fungible.

It is also about demand destruction. Demand destruction is a huge part of American Imperialism globally. If we and our pet pit bull in the region didn't periodically "bomb back into the stone age" or encourage and arm both sides of an argument (Iraq/Iran) just think how much more relevant and immediate ELM would be.

This dynamic has played out all around the world including support for despot dictators and puppet governments who actively support demand destruction in their countries for decades.

Darwinian I don't honestly believe you are that naive.

It was about who "WOULDN'T get the oil" And just who would that be? Who did we prevent from getting the oil because of the invasion. Do you have any idea what the word "fungible" means?

And; "It is also about demand destruction." Dear God, we went to war, causing over a hundred thousand deaths in order to create demand destruction?

Sometimes I am surprised at myself. Why on earth would I bother to reply to a post making such utterly absurd speculations?

Just for laughs I suppose.

Ron P.

So the war wasn't about oil or money or imperialism. Then the whole thing was about young George proving to his daddy that he wasn't a flunky. Or was it to gain acceptance into the global elite, sort of like a wannabe gang member having to kill someone to be initiated into the "Bloods"? Wars have been started for less. At least we can agree it wasn't about a woman.

Do you have any idea what the word "fungible" means?

Do you?

Oil prices are set on the margin and are linked through arbitrage globally.
Also demand for oil is elastic to a point and at a certain level it becomes highly inelastic.

I don't quite get the demand destruction assertion either other than to literally kill demand by killing people which I will agree seems ridiculous.

Do you?

Oil prices are set on the margin and are linked through arbitrage globally.
Also demand for oil is elastic to a point and at a certain level it becomes highly inelastic.

–adjective Law. (esp. of goods) being of such nature or kind as to be freely exchangeable or replaceable, in whole or in part, for another of like nature or kind.

Porge, I am not sure what to make of your reply. If you are saying that what you wrote proves that oil is not fungible then you are totally mistaken. As you say oil is linked through arbitrage globally! That is the very epitome of fungibility.

And the fact that it may become highly inelastic does not change the fact that oil is no different whether it comes from Iraq or Russia. Of course oil is of varying degrees either heavy or light, sweet or sour, but that is all handled through arbitrage globally. Similar oil is priced in the same narrow range no matter whether it was produced in Iran or Mexico, with different transportation costs figured in of course.

Reading your post again, perhaps you are agreeing with me. Certainly your statement about global arbitrage could be taken that way. If that is the case then thanks a million.

Ron P.

I did indeed mean that it is fungible.
What I am driving at is that the more oil that is available on the global markets the better.
If the Iraq oil is controlled by say Iran or restricted because of their occupation then supply becomes more vulnerable. (1970s games played by opec and also the embargo of Iranian oil).
If we can reach some agreement with say China over Iraq's oil then it becomes a Nash equilibrium type situation where we both do as best we can with a compromise.

So given the above I think that the main reason for the Iraq invasion was because of oil.
Now if Jr got a little ego stroke out it oh well.

Ron - I tend to agree with most of your points particularly about the simplistic "war for oil" theory. I like to think that decisions to go to war are usually much more nuanced.

Bush did not order the invasion of Iraq because of oil. There was no shortage of oil then nor was there any widespread discussion of peak oil. It was an ego trip by G. W. Bush pure and simple. Hundreds are dead because of that SOB and not because of oil.

But if what you're saying above is true, then in light of the fact that he had near unanimous support in the U.S., that may have been the greatest mass delusion in history.


The "war for oil" assertion never made much sense to me either. However, I think Ron is giving Bush way too much credit. I don't think he make any substantive policy decisions about anything. He's a dummy, remember. The war decision was made by Cheney, Rumsfeld, and a whole host of lesser lights. I can't pretend to have any idea what went through their minds coming to it. I see no sign of good sense in the war decision despite the fact that they could not all have been total dummies. In any case, it was supposed to be a piece of cake, remember. A quick charge in, cheering crowds, and a quick charge out, not an endless mire of factional hatred. They certainly never planed for the costs ending up so much higher than the benefits.

War for oil, for a day...

September 16, 2007
Alan Greenspan claims Iraq war was really for oil

Sept. 17, 2007
Greenspan Backtracks On Iraq War Oil Claim

Ron, are you seriously suggesting that we would have invaded Iraq if the Middle East's main export was sand? Come on, please. I say again: there is no doubt that oil and energy security had everything to do with it. For heaven's sake the former US administration all but said as much and one of Carter's state of the union's he explicitly said that the US would invade the ME if necessary to secure oil interests.

EDIT: and by the way, did you not read my initial post? I acknowledged that it was not a 'grab' but it WAS a geo-strategic invasion. We were always going to have to buy the oil from them, no one but delusional conspiracy theorists thought we were just going to truck it out with out paying...

No HAclland, I did say that in a round about way it was about oil, an oil grab by Saddam in 1991. Had there been no oil in Kuwait there would have been no invasion by Saddam. Buth's invasion of Iraq was about the events on 9/11, about so-called weapons of mass destruction, and about Bush's desire to make a mark on history.

Bush did not order the invasion of Iraq because of oil. There was no shortage of oil then nor was there any widespread discussion of peak oil. It was an ego trip by G. W. Bush pure and simple. Hundreds are dead because of that SOB and not because of oil.

Ron P.

Ron we will have to agree to disagree. I realise that you may not hold Bush Jnr in much respect but to suggest that he took the US (and the UK etc) to war on an ego trip 'pure and simple' is 'an extremely bold statement supported by nothing but supposition. It is just another way of saying "I hate Bush."

LOL! ;)

HAcland, it is not a bold assertion supported by nothing but supposition. In fact "Weapons of Mass Destruction", the excuse Bush used was the official reason for the invasion. And that is not supposition.

However it is true that I care little for Bush. That feeling is on behalf of every mother or father who's son or daughter will never return, and for every child who's parent will never return, and for every wife or husband who's spouse died because of Bush's ego trip. And let us not forget the many thousands of Iraqi's who died also.

But my feeling are not limited to Bush. I have the same feelings for the electorate who voted for, and elected, that dumb SOB.

Ron P.

well Ron, now you are just changing your tack! You said "It was an ego trip by G. W. Bush pure and simple" and now you say that it was about WMD? So if Bush thought that Uncle Saddam had WMD and he ordered the invasion how could you spin that as "an ego trip"?


Ron, at least this guy agrees with you:


If the intervention in Iraq was indeed "a war for oil," then some of that war's more positive consequences were to be seen in Baghdad last week. The country's oil minister, Hussain al-Shahristani, presided over an auction at which development rights for seven major oil fields were awarded in competitive bidding among several international consortia. Three features of the outcome were worthy of note. The auction was to award service contracts rather than the production-sharing agreements that the major corporations prefer. The price was set at between $1.15 and $1.90 per barrel, as opposed to the $4 that the bidders originally proposed. And American corporations were generally not the winners in an auction where consortia identified with Malaysia, Russia, and even Angola did best. (ExxonMobil and Occidental have, in previous negotiations, been awarded contacts in other Iraqi oil fields.)

Thus, the vulgar and hysterical part of the "war for oil" interpretation has been discredited.

I guess it is generally assumed that the U.S. "won" the Iraq war, and that the only thing open to question is "what was the purpose of the war?"

One might imagine that the purpose of the war was, indeed, to control oil supply.

And that the U.S. in fact, "lost" the war.

I could be completely mistaken but my view is............
It's like a game of chess.
Threats can be enough to secure a desired outcome, a resignation or a forced win could result in time.
Iraq was and is about Middle East oil.
The USA was securing the supply of oil. The threat of embargoes needed to be answered, with a counter threat.

The USA is willing to take it's chance with the constraints of supply and demand. While the oil is on the market the game is fair for those with the ability to play the game. Iraq can supply oil to whichever market it chooses. That does not remove other supplies, it may even make other oil more readily available. I think that is a desired outcome.

Oh, come on folks GWB very plainly stated that God told him to invade so he did.

I'm just glad he didn't use his "nucular" wepons!

As I recall even General Fallon admitted at one point that oil was central to the second Iraq war. Recall also that the first areas to be secured during and after the invasion were the oil producing areas.

It sounds as though everyone agrees that oil was involved, but how central a part of the motivation and strategy it was we may never know (unless the thousands of emails that were just recovered are released.)

I think different players had different motivations. Some of the true believers in the neo-con circle probably really believed that they were going to inaugurate a new era of democracy in the region by force. Bush probably was at least partly motivated by the desire both to improve on his daddy's attempt, and to get back at Saddam for what he said about his daddy. For Cheney, who many see as the real power behind the thrown, oil (and helping Halliburton) were surely central concerns.

The neocons (and others) had long been eying Iraq for these and other reasons, but the multiple layers of deception and confusion about the purposes for this war of choice leave plenty of room for all sorts of speculation and suspicion.

What is the latest polling on how many people still think that Saddam was behind 9/11?

It seems to me that too much time has passed.

No one knows who Saddam was, and 9/11 was what?

Perhaps not everyone agrees on the answers to either of those questions.

You are right there, of course.

But the questions are now only of interest to antiquarian scholars.

The world has moved on. The real question is "who will play in the 2010 Super Bowl"

There were two Iraq wars about oil. In the first Saddam tried to grab Kuwait and its oil and failed. In the second the U.S. tried to grab Iraq and its oil and succeeded.

Just because private U.S. oil companies are too afraid or unwilling to place the high bid on current Iraqi oil deals does not mean the second Iraq war was not about oil.

In the big picture of things it matters little whether American oil companies, Russian or Chinese oil companies get the contracts. The supply of oil will flow into the international market at market prices and America's share of it is more secure without Saddam.

It is true that foreigners will benefit more than we do from our wars. So what else is new? When Saddam was kicked out of Kuwait, clearly the biggest beneficiary was Kuwait. Now it looks like the biggest benefits of kicking out Saddam will fall to foreign oil companies.

The results of war are unpredictable but if one argues that the Iraq wars were not about oil, then what where they about? Terrorism? The 911 terrorists were not from Iraq. And it is pretty clear that deaths from terrorism in Iraq have increased since Saddam's removal.

And we know that the Weapons of Mass Destruction argument was a complete fraud. The Bush/Cheney administration wanted Saddam out to secure world oil supply and used the 911 attacks as the excuse.

In the second the U.S. tried to grab Iraq and its oil and succeeded.

Wow! If the current situation in Iraq is your definition of success I would hate to see what you would describe as a failure.

Just because private U.S. oil companies are too afraid or unwilling to place the high bid on current Iraqi oil deals does not mean the second Iraq war was not about oil.

So you are saying it was all about U.S. oil companies? We invaded Iraq for the benefit of Exxon Mobil and Chevron! That is an even bigger "Wow" than your definition of success.

I would never attempt to argue with such logic X. I have my pride you know. ;-)

Ron P.

The U.S. "lost" the war. Pure and simple.

It will take time to realize that -- the majority of Americans still can't believe that Korea and Viet Nam wars were lost.

A case may be made that we lost a series of battles in those locations.We don't know yet who will win the REAL war.It used to be us and them capitalism and soviet style communisn.

Now it has morphed into us and them with the them being Chinese style communism.No body seems to be exactly who "us "is any more since we the capitalists are now in hock up to our nose to the communists and assorted others.

Of course otheres may choose to view the world as a smaller canvas.

I think the next war America cleanly wins will be exceeding unpleasant for the world at large.

"the current situation in Iraq is your definition of a success"----

Well, it`s not mine either.

But maybe if I were a large corporation that happened to be a major US military contractor or supplier (making billions of dollars from selling equipment, weapons, vehicles, uniforms, etc. to the US military) then the situation in Iraq would be fine and dandy because it spells P-R-O-F-I-T-S.

Check out the U.S. budget....$645 BILLION for the military. A lot of that goes to the supplier corporations. They are not feeling the pinch of the economy nearly as badly as others are.

The CEOs are still playing golf and driving new cars I am quite sure.

When a crime has been committed in a detective novel, the key to unlocking the mystery is to see who benefits from the crime.

The people who are benefiting from the war in Iraq are the big money interests who are living grandly while poor people pay the price in their lives and health. It is the usual story (whether its healthcare, public transportation or higher education, Big Ag etc.) in the US. The rich get wonderful healthcare, new Lexuses, etc.) while the poor get very little (no healthcare and no trains, bad food, etc.).

The US elite do a great job of covering up and obfuscating the real issues so they can continue to funnel the wealth to the big corporations. It is actually quite scary. (And one reason I made the decision to leave the US) I have no doubt that the Afghanistan policy decision Obama made was based on similar grounds-- feathering the fluffy nests of military suppliers.

Pi - I agree with every word you wrote. OTOH somebody had to sell it. W, as Ron asserts, was on a grand ego trip and he sold us all down the river because he wanted to be a bigger shot than his Dad. I believe that.


Darwinian -

I think one must make a clear distinction between the first Gulf War following Saddam's invasion of Kuwait and the invasion of Iraq by Dubya following 9-11.

In the former, Saddam miscalculated and thought he could get away with taking over Kuwait and control its oil. In the latter, Dubya miscalculated and thought he could get away with taking over Iraq and control its oil. Both Saddam and Dubya turned out to be sadly mistaken.

Dubya's invasion of Iraq may not have been entirely about oil, as things like pride, hubris, and geopolitical power games also came into play. However, since it has come to light that i) there were plans in the works to invade Iraq long before 9-11, and ii) the so-called Energy Task Force included oil company executives meeting with government officials to study maps of Iraq's oil fields, one would have to be total naive to think that oil played no part in our invasion of Iraq.

The US doesn't want to directly steal anybodies oil, but it wants to be the one who controls its production and distribution so as to ensure that it gets all it wants whenever it chooses. There is also the strategy of exclusion at work here vis-a-vis countries like China. Just as in chess where two opposing pieces cannot occupy the same square at the same time, if the US is occupying the Iraq square, then China can not (and vice-versa).

Also, while it is true that the US does not have a national oil company, one also cannot ignore how closely intertwined are Big Oil and the US government. The US also has a long history of using its military might for the benefit of corporate interests (particularly in Latin America).

This whole thread is so funny. It is like a few blind people describing an elephent.

Every group within Bush administration had their own reason. There are several things that had to have been there for the war
- Antagonistic dictator
- Lot of oil
- Junior trying to show show he is better than daddy
- Terrible mainstream media
- Opposition without a backbone
- Gullible (and terribly ill-educated, ill-informed) citizens
- 9/11
- Easy "win" in Afghanistan
- etc etc

Take away any one (or two) items the war wouldn't have happenned.

BTW, only someone who hasn't studied colonial history could claim Saddam wouldn't have invaded Kuwait but for oil. Remember many in Iraq always considered Kuwait a part of Iraq that had been unfairly taken away by colonial powers. I don't think Falkland Island had any oil, for eg. Nor does Tibet.

Ofcourse we wouldn't have had Gulf war I but for oil. Just like we don't care about Tibet.

Agree 100%. No way would we be there if there were no oil in the region.

But the point wasn't to take Iraq's oil. It was to establish a footprint in the region, that would allow us "protect" the oil supply and project our military power there. After 9/11, the Saudis wanted us out of their country; Iraq was supposed to be our new Middle East base.

Agree- This was for geopolitical positioning and control.

As soon as 9/11 happened I looked at a map and thought we'd build a highway across Pakistan with bases in Pak and Afg. Obviously we decided to take a long, expensive detour in Iraq, but I still think it may play out that way. Any regional presence really should include deep-water port access.

Had there been no oil in Kuwait there would have been no Desert Storm, the little war that started the whole ball rolling. However that does not imply that the U.S. invasion of Iraq by the Army controlled by G.W. Bush was all about oil.

That war was all about George W. Bush wanting his place in history. It was all about so-called weapons of mass destruction. The oil in Iraq was likely the furthest thing from Dubya's mind when he ordered the invasion. At the time there was plenty of oil and, though a few of us was talking about it, peak oil was not on the horizon in politics or the mass media.

What you are doing Leanan, and all the rest who say "it was all about oil", is giving G.W. Bush far more credit than he deserves. He wanted to invade Iraq and would use any excuse to do it. The events of 9/11 gave that to him. It gave him an excuse to claim that somehow Iraq was behind those events.

What most everyone here is overlooking is that this war was initiated by Baby Bush. He wanted to kick Saddam's ass. Oil was, in my opinion anyway, the furthest thing from his mind.

Ron P.

That war was all about George W. Bush wanting his place in history. It was all about so-called weapons of mass destruction.

I don't buy that for a minute.

Dubya was shockingly uninterested in foreign policy during the campaign. Not to mention embarrassingly ignorant. I'm sure showing up his dad by going all the way to Baghdad was a nice bonus for him, but I don't buy that it was his main motivation. Frankly, I think he was too lazy to bother.

The oil in Iraq was likely the furthest thing from Dubya's mind when he ordered the invasion. At the time there was plenty of oil and, though a few of us was talking about it, peak oil was not on the horizon in politics or the mass media.

But it was in the minds of the people who surrounded Bush (and groomed him to be president). Cheney talked about peak oil before Bush was elected. And remember, they promised us a "dividend at the pump" - cheaper gasoline if we went to war on Iraq.

What you are doing Leanan, and all the rest who say "it was all about oil", is giving G.W. Bush far more credit than he deserves.

I think it's the opposite. You're the one giving Dubya far more credit that he deserves. Iraq wasn't his idea. He went along with it.

The neocons had it all planned out. They thought Iraq would be "low-hanging fruit." We'd roll through Baghdad, with the oppressed people cheering us and throwing candy and flowers. Baghdad would turn into a model of democracy (read: free-market capitalism), like Japan after WWII. It would give us a safe base in the area, and spread "democracy" throughout the region. And the American people would finally be cured of the military reluctance created by Vietnam.

The neocons really thought that this would fix the terrorism problem. 9/11 was another Pearl Harbor, so the solution was to do what we did with Japan. We aren't being attacked by Japanese terrorists these days, right?

They thought democracy/capitalism was so obviously superior that it would sweep through the region like wildfire. In the interviews they gave immediately after the invasion, they talked about whether Syria or Iran should be next. They really expected it to be "the end of history."

I opposed the war from the start, but in the long run, it's probably better that it happened when it did. Bush or no Bush, it was going to happen. It was the only way the neocon premise could be proven or disproven.

And remember, they promised us a "dividend at the pump" - cheaper gasoline if we went to war on Iraq.

No, I don't remember that at all. Not that it wasn't promised but I remember no such promise. Googled it and came up empty. Got a link?

in the long run, it's probably better that it happened when it did. Bush or no Bush, it was going to happen. It was the only way the neocon premise could be proven or disproven.

To paraphrase you Leanan; I don't buy that for a minute. Why was it going to happen? If Gore had been elected would it have happened? Or if Lamar Alexander or John Ashcroft, on the Republican side had won instead of Bush would it still have been "going to happen"? Exactly why must the neocon premise be proven or disproven. Did we go to war to prove or disprove a premise?

I think there is something terribly wrong with your logic Leanan.

Ron P.

Most of the Neocons were careful to state that oil would "pay for reconstruction":


However, having spent the better part of 5 years in/around the Persian Gulf, unless you are buying pearls, EVERYTHING is about oil and the revenue that comes from it. NO OIL=NO WAR.

I never thought that the war was about oil for the U.S.. It was about profits for the multinational conglomerates, the banks and the Halliburtons of the world, still making billions. Does anyone here actually think Cheney/Bush give a damn about non-corporate America?

No, I don't remember that at all. Not that it wasn't promised but I remember no such promise. Googled it and came up empty. Got a link?

Heh. Not many people remember it, since they tried to bury it once the opposite happened. I'd think a peak oiler would remember, though.

Dan Bartlett Caught In A Lie: ‘No One Ever Said The War Would Result In Cheaper Gas Prices’

If Gore had been elected would it have happened?

Yes. I'd bet the farm on it. Not necessarily while he was in office, but eventually.

Exactly why must the neocon premise be proven or disproven. Did we go to war to prove or disprove a premise?

No, that was just the effect.

Neoconservatism was rising at the time, and probably still would be if not for the debacle in Iraq. There were a lot of people, inside the beltway and on Main St., who truly believed that if we only had the 'nads to attack Iraq, it would mean the end of terrorism, peace and prosperity for the world, etc.

We were going to try it eventually because it was such an enticing idea, a lot of wealthy and powerful people supported it, and, with peak oil and all, we'd be increasingly desperate to try something, anything. It's hard to see how the neocons could have been derailed otherwise. If we hadn't invaded Iraq seven years ago, boy, would the sabers be rattling against Iran now.

Kinda like supply-side economics. It was all the rage, until they actually tried it.

Great post, Leanan.
Pepe Escobar appears to agree

Iraq's oil auction hits the jackpot
By Pepe Escobar

BEIJING - Former United States vice president Dick Cheney, ex-defense minister Donald Rumsfeld and assorted US neo-cons will have plenty of time to nurse their apoplexy. One of their key reasons to unleash the war on Iraq in 2003 was to seize control of its precious oilfields and thus shape a great deal of the new great game in Eurasia - the energy front - by restricting the access of Europe and Asia to Iraq's staggering 115 billion barrels of proven oil reserves.

After at least US$2 trillion spent by Washington and arguably more than a million dead Iraqis, it has come to this: a pipe dream definitely buried this past weekend in Baghdad with round two of bids to exploit a number of vast and immensely profitable oil fields.

The war has been lost.

Woodrow Wilson's dream of empire has foundered as surely as Napoleon's


Good post.

The neocons had it all planned out. They thought Iraq would be "low-hanging fruit." We'd roll through Baghdad, with the oppressed people cheering us and throwing candy and flowers. Baghdad would turn into a model of democracy (read: free-market capitalism), like Japan after WWII.

What's more, don't forget "Real Men Go To Tehran".

I think the US seriously underestimated Iran's influence in Iraq, and the reality of their miscalculation really hit home at Fallujah. From then on, the 'nuclear threat' was dreamt up as a casus belli - there was no mention anywhere in the MSM of this "threat" before then - and its creation suited Ahmadinejad (the Nationalist card) just as much as it suits the Israelis (as a distraction to their strategic territorial imperative).

Most of all the US did not factor in their economic vulnerability to the Chinese, who in my opinion flexed their muscles in 2007 by making it clear - in what I referred to as a Suez Moment - that the unipolar US era was over, and that one of the first consequences would be more equitable access to resources generally (at least to China) and Iraqi oil in particular.

To me, this news in June 2007 Iraq revives Saddam oil deal with China struck me forcibly at the time as evidence that the game had conclusively changed.

Right-on CC. What happened last week at the oil auctions had nothing to do with why Dumbass saw fit to invade Iraq.

I think the US seriously underestimated Iran's influence in Iraq, and the reality of their miscalculation really hit home at Fallujah.

But Fallujah is part of the Sunni triangle. Iran has no influence over Iraqs Sunnis. Iran has some influence over Iraqis majority Shiites, but even there Iraqi Shia are nationalist enough to want to retain a high degree of independence from Iran.

The neocons used those ideas to sell the war to the US public. But the whole point of the war was to shovel more money in the direction of the big military suppliers, who are the friends of the Republicans. The, like the whole US economy, were starting to feel a slow-down (We know why). Well, those military corporations hate slow-downs. They rely on fast fast fast cycling of materials and commensurately high revenues. They need LOTS of money to make all those vehicles, warehouses, offices, people, cars, GO! What they do is not simple, small-scale, AT ALL. It is huge-scale, machines, cement, etc. They need some serious FLOW to make a go of it.

How do you make things GO! if you are a military contractor? Ya need a war. It`s very simple. Ya get your friends in Washington to start one for you. Then you line up outside while they cut the checks and hand them to you. And don`t forget to say "Thank you"!!

I may be out of my depth here but, I think Cheney and the Project for the New American Century saw Iraq as part of a plan fort the US to continue it's dominance of world political and economic affairs. There is also some speculation that Cheney was Peak Oil aware long ago.

The Iraqi government had become extremely hostile to the US and AFAIK was in the process of locking out US interests from participating in the Iraqi economy. Apart from the oil majors, this means that US companies from all sectors would be locked out from the economy that supposedly husbands the second largest oil reserves in the world. If it could produce at it's previous peak rate today Iraq would be the 6th largest oil producer in the world. Having US interests locked out of such a potentially lucrative environment would surely be unacceptable to many American business interests.

If one looks at the beneficiaries of the reconstruction efforts in Iraq, I'm pretty sure that British and American interests are major players. One could construe that, private interests are benefiting from a situation that is being paid for by US taxpayers. If you believe that the US government has been co-opted by private interests it is not hard to believe that the war was all about the oil money.

Even if the US Majors don't win any contracts in Iraq, it is conceivable that services companies like Schlumberger, Halliburton Baker Hughes and others could still reap considerable benefits.

Alan from the islands

There is also some speculation that Cheney was Peak Oil aware long ago.

Yup. He's on the record. (PDF)

I think he was peak oil aware when he was Sec Def. and used the first gulf war to save the oil under Iraq.

Had there been no oil in Kuwait there would have been no Desert Storm,

No, had April Gladspie not said what she did (or told to say what she did) the border dispute over slant drilling would have went differently. (Remember - it was about Kuwait taking Iraq oil?)

'Course there is the whole backing of Saddam during the Iran/Iraq war.

And there is the X event before that.

And the Y event before that.

And .....

I've heard this place referred to as The United State of Amnesia.

The war was about removing Saddam. The US tried to remove him several times by covert means after the first Gulf War and failed; invasion was the only option left. Saddam had to be removed because if he was left in power he would have eventually acquired WMD, making the area (important because it has oil) much more unstable and dangerous. Also, he had to be removed to bolster the geo-strategic credibility of the US. After 911 especially, the US had to demonstrate that they had the will to deal with (remove) regimes that openly defy the world's last remaining super-power.


Who let z drink all that kool-aid?

I'm pretty sure that was snarkalicious kool-aid.

Ron, I disagree with you here. Of course it was not solely about the oil. But a big part of the motivation was in the securing of rebuilding contracts, which included oil. That by the law of unintended consequences it pretty much backfired, as Iraq clearly considers US based companies as complicit, doesn't negate the motivations. The real motivation had been to spread corporate based free market economics into the mideast. Obviously the political forces that pushed us into this adventure were not omniscient, and the results are not at all like they predicted.

"The good Lord didn't see fit to put oil and gas only where there are democratic regimes friendly to the United States" - Richard Cheney (from a speech at the CATO institute in 1998)

The job qualifications for joining the CPA were that only true believers in free market capitalism need apply, and experience didn't matter. Once there they immediately dossolved nearly the entire public sector of the economy, under the guise of de-Bathification. The Iraqis saw themselves as being fired, and foreign contractors being brought in to replace their jobs with foreign contract labor. That is when the project began to seriously go south, as the population became convinced the project was about raping their country economically. I suspect the motivation was more a case of true believers trying to implement their ideology, which they thought would lead to the best possible results for the people of Iraq as well as for the corporations. It should not be a surprise that the Iraqis didn't see the intentions that way.

It should not be a surprise that the Iraqis didn't see the intentions that way.

And of those countries who did win the Iraqi contracts, how many divisions do they have in Iraq? And what would be the value of their contracts if the U.S. pulled all troops out tomorrow? Which begs the question: Why are we still in Iraq?

Ron P.

Darwinian hijacks another thread for his own personal enjoyment. Love a good argument?

Which begs the question: Why are we still in Iraq?

Because the US has a severe case of "Victory culture". The political party seen to be involved in giving up that dream, will be accused of defeatism, and their future electoral prospects destroyed. For that reason, no administration dares to admit that it was a mistake (even someone elses mistake) to be there and reverse course. The political dynamic created by our rather juvenile military culture insures that we can't cut our losses and quit.

enemy of the state -

I fully agree. It's all about not admitting defeat, maintaining prestige in the international arena, and personal pride amongst the people running the show. A perfect example of the malignant effects of a positive attitude when none is justified.

This is hardly much different than the self-imposed trap LBJ found himself in during the Vietnam era. In 1964 he sharply escalated the war via the Gulf of Tonkin incident, not because he really thought it essential to American security, but rather because he faced a hawkish staunch conservative in the person of Barry Goldwater in the 1964 election and wanted to demonstrate that Democrats can be tough on commies too.

Then once he won the election and the war kept escalating and dragging on beyond his worst nightmare, his pride wouldn't let him withdraw because, in almost a direct quote, ' he'd be damned if he was going to be the first US president to lose a war and thus usher in a generation of Republican control in Washington'.

So, I am resigned to the notion that we will be in Iraq, Afghanistan, and perhaps parts of Pakistan far on into the indefinite future, no matter how bad it gets. No one in the Washington power establishment wants to be the first one to say, 'Hey, we really f#%ked up here, our young men and women died in vain, so let's cut our losses and get the hell out.' It would be instant political suicide, particularly in or close to an election year.

We will be there until we are no longer able to be there. So the beat goes on.

Check out the Russian economist Kondratieff. According to his theory, when an economy starts to show signs of decline (going from high growth spring to mature summer and then into autumn....The Vietnam war is "late summer" war in the Kondratieff cycle view of things) a war is often started as a way to get things moving (energy flows, material cycles). When the US. faced energy (oil) supplies starting to plateau in the late 1960s, the culture felt it as a slowdown of materials cycling, things that had been easy economically (acquiring things) weren`t anymore. Well, what better way to remedy this that starting a war (Vietnam)....to get things cycling fast again, at least for the powerful and monied??

Iraq and Afghanistan are similar....pulling economic activity, revenue, materials, money, into the orbit of those who want them very bady and have the power to grab them. Now that it`s a Kondratieff winter these big money interests are even more desperate to keep their income flowing.

Why? Because then lots of huge US military suppliers can continue to sell their wares, everything from jeeps to guns, uniforms, the food, EVERYTHING. There is demand (you the taxpayer are paying for it) caused by the US presence there. The military suppliers get their money that way. If there is no war, the demand for the goods and services of the military suppliers is much lower. That is not acceptable to the people whose income depends on that revenue.....

It's also worth remembering that the American "establishment" spent a great deal of effort cultivating Ahmed Chalabi (and vice versa), their proposed president, in the run up to and immediate aftermath of the war. When he was "found out" by the various Iraqi societal groups, the new top political people were those who had been essentially ignored by the American establishment's grooming program.

It is quite conceivable that had Chalabi somehow become president (and hence able to stack the government) then things might be tilted more towards the American establishments desires. (And quite possibly the current de facto insurgency war would have scuppered that anyway.)

So if it was all about oil as many claim, then please explain that rationale.

Ron P.

All oil is sold in US dollars. Dollars have to be bought before they can be used to buy oil. America gets paid before the oil producers, for printing paper. The US essentially gets to export it's inflation to the rest of the world. It's a form of taxation which allows the US to run the largest military in the world.

Anything which threatens this situation will be stopped. e.g. Iran, Venezuela.

e.g. somewhat expanded here:

CSS, your whole premise is totally wrong. Dollars are not bought from the U.S. Other currencies are simply exchanged, on the FOREX, for dollars. The whole process takes less than a second and costs about three basis points, (three cents per one hundred dollars). The US has nothing to do with it and they do not make one cent on the exchange. Any profit is made by the FOREX member banks and they are located around the world. Not one single dollar is added to the US tax rolls because of pricing oil in dollars.

And most important, countries do not need to buy dollars in order to buy oil. They just convert their own currency on the FOREX at the moment of purchase if that is what the seller wishes. They seller may prefer Euros. In that case and that is often the case, their currency is converted into Euros instead of dollars.

Pricing oil in US dollars does not export inflation. When the dollar suffers inflation other countries get more dollars in exchange for their currency.

Ron P.


You are right in terms of the dollar as a hugely liquid means of exchange.

But that misses the global reserve currency aspect, which is firstly that countries do like to maintain reserves of the currency in which their necessary imports are denominated, and secondly the question of what happens to the dollar proceeds once the instantaneous transaction has been made.

It is in its role as global reserve currency that the US dollar is exposed - as sterling was before it.

Triffin pointed out that where money is created as debt - as it is - then for a country's currency to become the global reserve currency means that this country must necessarily become unsustainably indebted to the rest of the world.


I take it that the reference to Iran is based upon the almost mythical "Iran Oil Bourse" ?

Since the IOB was my idea in the first place - and I worked with the Iranians for a couple of years (until it became clear that the Oil Ministry - if not the President - wanted nothing to do with it) I can categorically state that its creation had nothing whatever to do with the currency in which oil is priced, although that meme has spread pretty widely in finest Internet traditions.

Since the IOB was my idea in the first place - and I worked with the Iranians for a couple of years...

Chris, The Iranian Oil Bourse was your idea! I had no idea. You should write a special post describing how this all went down. It would make for interesting reading. You should post it as a blog so we could link to it whenever the subject comes up again. Or perhaps you already have. If so give us the link.

Thanks, Ron P.


Your wish is my command

The interview on Energy Bulletin was over three years ago, of course, and the reality of the IOB 'launched' earlier this year on Kish island is that it is basically a spreadsheet where a few petrochemical transactions are registered.

Thanks Chris, this answers a lot of questions about the Iranian Oil Bourse. We were discussing this on several lists two or three years ago. I wish I had known about this Energy Bulletin article back then. Everyone had a different idea about what the bourse was supposed to be back then. Many thought it was a method to stop pricing oil in dollars. Others thought it would put the NYMEX out of business.

I argued, all along, that nothing would ever happen. I felt that way for several reasons but one was, having lived in Saudi for five years, I knew how much most Arabs hate the Iranians and how the Iranians hate most Arabs. I felt it was obvious if a Bourse was opened by Iran very few Arabs would participate.

Ron P.

Absurd. The purpose was to control the oil and make sure that we have access to the production and it does not make any difference what countries the companies who won nominally belong to. As long as oil is fungible then it doesn't matter. Why did the US companies lose out? Who knows - maybe they didn't want to make the investment in those fields. The wealthy class mostly does not give a crap about national associations anyway. If the fungibility of oil changes, due to international conflict, etc., then we are still in control of that production. Those who are making the investments to develop that production are taking a risk that they will be able to reap the benefits of that investment.

Perhaps I shouldn't be casually wading into these shark infested waters, but here goes anyway...

Why does the invasion have to have been ABOUT JUST ONE THING, as in, it was all about the oil, or all about US imperialism, or all about GWB flexing muscles, or all about who knows what else?

Does history really work that way? Couldn't the argument be made that there were a number of converging causes that pushed the US over the edge towards shifting from the Clinton-time containment policy favored IIRC by the likes of Anthony Zinni towards first more hostile posturing and then actual invasion? Here are my list of contributing factors, in the order they occur to me, not in their order of importance:

1. neo-con fantasies of world military domination and power projection -- see anything written in the last few years by Chalmers Johnson
2. another application of the Shock Doctrine, very well discussed by Naomi Klein in her book of that title -- this involved looking at Iraq a as potential blank slate perfect for the imposition of a pure Chicago School style economy (perhaps a variant of #1)
3. the explicit or implicit continuation of the Carter Doctrine of keeping oil flowing freely from the ME at US taxpayer expense whether this serves the interest of US based major oil companies or not, anything but an Iraqi national oil company
4. hubris
5. political posturing by a weak US president eager to look tough after the very humiliating attack on the the WTC and Pentagon on 9-11-2001 (that applies just as well to the debacle in Afghanistan)
6. the enormous draw of reconstruction loot going to Haliburton and Blackwater and other elements of the increasingly privatized and well-connected inside the beltway foreign policy/military/arms manufacturing industries

In my view it will be up to future historians, if any there be who manage to get access to the right mountains of documentary evidence to puzzle out the relative weights of each of these, and doubtless more, contributing factors.

Clicking "save" with some trepidation.

I am with you.
But the main reason was securing the oil from hostiles.

Isn't it a tad reductionist to insist that there must be a "main reason?" Philosophers sometimes talk about sets of individually necessary but jointly sufficient conditions, as in each one separately contributes to the outcome but without all that outcome doesn't happen. Human social behavior is after all a complex system perhaps not easily modeled in simpler terms of primary and secondary reasons.

How about oil as the absolute necessary precondition then............
Would any of this happened if Iraq had no oil???

Of course it was all about the oil. About the oil in Iraq.

But just now, there was a phone call to Washington from Moscow and Peking: ok, give us the oil contracts and in turn we will not dump the dollar.

Or something else, that we have no idea about.

The US would not go into war without a strategic interest. Being in the ME, they de facto control the oil. Because they can shut it off any time. Its all geostrategy, not just the oil. With Peak Oil, whoever controls the oil taps - calls the shots.

The US would not go into war without a strategic interest.

Is "the US" an actual agent, like me or you or my grandmother, or an abstraction that we reify at our peril if we are trying to explain what happens in the world? I am not saying that the US does not exist, it certainly does as a chunk of territory governed at least nominally according to a particular written constitution. But it is at best a metaphor to talk about "the US" doing things because of "its interests." Even though I despise the iron lady M. Thatcher's politics I think she was right when she said that "there is no such thing as society, there are only individuals and families." She was making a philosophical point that bears keeping in mind as we try to explain the reasons for wars and other social phenomena.


See my above comments on Nash equilibrium.

That is certainly plausible -- that IF we can look at this situation as a strategic decision by one agent (the US gov't) attempting to avoid a worse outcome in a one shot Prisoner's Dilemma, sure invading Iraq seems individually rational even if it is collectively foolish ("Why can't we all just get along?" asks the naive pacifist in a plaintive whine...)

But, I wonder whether modeling international relations as strategic interactions between large scale and unitary agents (nation states) is really a fine grained enough approach. My reasons for doubting that it is are, I think, evident in the fact that this thread has continued on for such a long time without settling down to much of a consensus. That is, inside, among and between nation states are many separate agents -- global corporations, politicians worrying about re-election, military officials looking at the world in terms of their various strategic pictures and plans and ambitions, ideologues of various types trying to bend the ears of the deciderators, etc. etc. Depending on which one of these you pick to stand in for the nation states involved, you end up with a different sense of what the "real reason" behind the war is.

My contention in my comments here has just been that in trying to figure out why the war was started, what the heck we are still doing there, what we should expect for the future as to the whole region we need to take this finer grain into account and not simply assume that the relevant level of analysis is the nation state, and that the relevant methodological assumption is NOT that we should expect a single cause to ultimately be forthcoming if we stare at the situation long enough.

That said, I appreciate your taking the time to read my comments and respond. I've enjoyed participating lately in this forum and hopefully my "meta-level" comments aren't annoying you science and industry people too much. ;) If only I could get my friends to spend a couple of weeks reading TOD, THAT would convince them to rethink their assumptions that BAU will continue into the indefinite future.



I'm with you guys .The war is and was , both times mainly about oil.No oil, no war , no 9/11.
Saddam would have had to invade Kuwait with camels and hand made muzzle loaders.
But there might have have been no war without some of the other contributing factors.

But in the beginning, oil, oil in the middle, oil in the end.

Other than tourism and antiquities there wouldn't be any there there except for the oil.

And it doesn't really matter who pumps it, so long as it flows to the high bidders when it is sold.

Don't forget a large source of fresh water.

George, Like you, a little timid about getting into the conjecture "exercise in futility" that is going on today. I can just see how important this will be 5 years from now when supply issues are decimating what is left of the worlds economy. But I'm as good at conjecture as anybody else so here goes.
1. I agree with most of what you say and Leanan as well.
2. There was actually an assassination plan on GWB's father. It was not just rhetoric. As I have said before, on this site, If it was my father I would have had a significant impetus to go after Saddam.
3. The Carter doctrine is just a continuation of US stated foreign policy going back to the 1940's that it is in the US best interests to keep mideast oil flowing freely.
4. Is it only me that remembers there were umpteen violated UN resolutions that the US could hang it's hat on?
5. On to conjecture. The overriding reason to invade was to secure and stabilize all mid east oil supplies. Irag is dead center in this whole mess and only when we have removed the huge permanent bases we have established there will you convince me there was some other overriding reason.

Before I swim quickly back to shore I wanted to say one more thing. Yes the assassination attempt and the UN resolutions should be added to the list as well. I guess I just swam in here because I've lately been reading a lot of Philosophy of Social Science and so I keep seeing claims that get my philosophical goat when it comes to discussions of history, politics, or any other kind of social agency.

The fact that us humans automatically look for (and often think we've found) a single agent, event or cause behind the scenes that explains even the most complex events is probably a built in flaw in the way our minds work. But it is a flaw and shouldn't be considered the null hypothesis.

In standard philosophical style here's a puzzle for you:

There are four legionaires out in the Sahara desert and three of them independently decide to kill the fourth.
The first poisons the water in his victim's canteen, the second, not knowing that the water is poisoned, pokes a hole in it and the third fills it with sand, not knowing that there is no water inside. Who actually killed him? With apologies to Daniel Dennett whose thought experiment I am no doubt mangling here.


G The butler in the basement with a candlestick.

You could call that the firing squad or gas chamber puzzle.
Multiple people pull the triggers but only one has the lethal shot.
That way the henchmen can sleep at night I guess.

Yeah, that's exactly the point -- to absolve the executioners from individual guilt with the uncertainty built into the system.

I do recall Paul Wolfowitz saying that WMDs was the most politcally expedient excuse that the various proponents of war could agree on:


He also said:

"Let's look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil."


I cant't believe i spent 30 minutes reading these comments. of course it was all about the oil. sure there were other reasons used mostly to sell an ignorant president and american public. not only was it about oil it was about the marginal barrel of oil. the giant arbitrage mentioned above about fungible oil is true. The invasion was a very clear message to the middle east especially KSA with their vast reserves that if you got it you better produce it and put it out there on the market. Who cares who the company or country that produces it. It goes to the country that can meet the price of the marginal barrel. Might be different if there is a major war.

i had an uncle who worked for big oil and after he retired he played the oil market from his home computer. Made alot of money. he told me all about peak oil back in the 70's and told me a shipment of oil might change hands a dozen times between launch and landing. The message of the war to oil producing countries, "if you got it you better produce it, or we will Saddam you." I found it interesting that when Jr. begged the king to produce more during the waning days of his administration he was told by the King, and i paraphrase, "can't produce what you ain't got., got to save it for some time in future" That was the first real clue from a marginal producer that the jig was up. Peak oil is reality. where is Mammel? I would love to have his read on this.

Huh? Lost the war? You lot won the war in 10 days flat! Lost the peace as soon as the looting started.

If you remember he heady days of the invasion the Iraqis were supposed to throw flowers and set op a libertarian/neocon government which would invite the US oil majors in. The reality turned out differently and we are getting out by turning the country over to the parties that were the insurgency originally so naturally they will favor non US companies.

It was about getting their oil for the majors but that part failed.

I forget the name of that American general who said that all his life he had been a hired gun for American public companies, words to that effect.
Of course it is all about the oil and nothing but the oil.

I don't have any problems with that. After all if you are going to destroy a country and a people, let it be for something worthwhile, not to improve them in a late day version of the White Man's Burden.

Smedly Butler (sp)
And yes, if one has the courage to see this as a purely gangster move I'll give them the whole argument.
Remember the first name given to this blunderous bleep storm? Operation Iraqi Liberation, OIL.

yes and Daniel Plainview is played by Dick Cheany. folks if you have not watched the movie, Let There Be Blood, do yourself a favor. those kind of people really do exist and many of them have and are running our world. ah, the sweet taste of sour mash on sat. evening. think i'll just leave you folks with a little verse. got it here during a sat. nite discussion a few weeks ago.

Look to this day:
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence.
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendour of achievement
Are but experiences of time.

For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision;
And today well-lived, makes
Yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day;
Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn!

attributed here to Kalidasa, 353-420, written in 400

Wow - actual dates for Kalidasa ?! I thought there were as many dates as there are sanskrit scholars.


Kālidāsa (Devanāgarī: कालिदास "servant of Kali") was a renowned Classical Sanskrit writer, widely regarded as the greatest poet and dramatist in the Sanskrit language. His floruit cannot be dated with precision, but most likely falls within the Gupta period, probably in the 4th or 5th century or 6th century.

So if it was all about oil as many claim, then please explain that rationale.

I'm pretty sure these points have been covered in this thread, but here is my formulation.

0) Protecting the flow of oil through the Persian Gulf is in the interest of US national security.
1) Saddam had demonstrated that he would invade Kuwait.
2) In 2001, Saddam still had a military force large enough to invade the Arabian Gulf Coast states and probably Saudi Arabia itself.
3) The main deterrence to Saddam was US forces stationed in the Gulf, including in Saudi Arabia.
4) The presence of US forces in Saudi Arabia were being used to rally terrorists against us.
5) The continued US/UN sanctions on Iraq were being used to rally terrorists against us.

We solved 4 by moving US forces out of Saudi Arabia.
We might have solved 5 by ending UN sanctions.
But that still left 2 as a continuing issue.

The preferred solution was invading Iraq which solved 2 and 5 in a way which defended the primary goal 0.

Of course, it created issue 6 - US forces in Iraq were being used to rally terrorists against us. But still, two steps forward and only one step back.

Bush announced a plan to help Russia expand its oil production to compensate for the decline in production of Iraqi oil due to the war. The war has had the effect of saving Iraqi oil for later production.

The restrictions put on Iraq after the 1991 war were Cheney's way of saving what he knew back then were huge reserves for Peak Oil.
This whole Iraq thing now is just more very strong evidence that peak oil is here now.
Add the price of oil holding above 70 and probably going higher in these economic conditions and only a fool like Yergin would argue.
Yes.....this is it folks.

Written by Darwinian:
So if it was all about oil as many claim, then please explain that rationale.

The argument presumes the U.S. has won the war in Iraq and achieved its objectives. Increased oil is not flowing yet. A bomb wielding Iraqi insurgent might have other plans for the crude oil.

Perhaps the objectives have changed with a new president. Under President Obama, the policy is to get out rather than get the oil.

Bush got revenge against the guy who tried to assassinate his daddy. All the rest was just going through the motions.

Friday night failures:

Bank failure tally reaches 140

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Banks in six U.S. states were closed Friday, bringing the total number of failed banks this year to 140, at a cost of over $1 billion to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Among the institutions seized by regulators was a so-called "bankers' bank" in Illinois called Independent Bankers' Bank (IBB), which had about 450 client banks in four U.S. states.

I know the article says further down that the cost of just these recent closures was 1.7 billion to FDIC so it may be just the wording that's buggin me.

The cost of the failed 140 isn't 1 billion. As I understand it they'd burned through something like 42 billion and went negative a few months back and were seeking 45 billion more from fees plus a treasury credit line of 500 billion to deal with the 550 or so problem banks that are still waiting in the wings.


Good old "bank eated Friday".

It's not like a lot of money comes through my hands these days but any checks I get, (about one a year, maybe) I just cash at a liquor store or something, it's cheaper than a bank and much cheaper than having a bank account.

Figures such as Babe Ruth didn't trust banks and didn't use 'em, in the 1920s and 30s, this is a whole aspect of history that's not talked about. Probably a good story in that for Slate or Salon or something, but since there's no money in writing these days someone else will have to write it.

Washington D.C. area forecasters have predicted the greatest snowfall of any December snowstorm on record. A snowstorm in December of 1932 dumped 11.5 inches of snow on the D.C. area. Obama returned from the global warming talks to face a blizzard warning.

Rainsong -

couple weeks ago we had single digit temps for over a week here, plus no rain (weird) - thus no global warming

this week we have warm light rain, so warm we are having a misquito problem - oops! global warming

rinse and repeat

I,m so confused NOT

" Obama returned from the global warming talks to face a blizzard warning."

Were you refering to the CLIMATE CHANGE talks?

Point Plank'n, Rainsong! We don't need no stinkin' global temperature data to conclude the world isn't warming. Poor Obama having to have his face shoved in a bunch of snow -- I bet he thought it would be 80 freakin' degrees all winter long -- he such a moron.

Anybody who isn't a doomer has to believe that Rainsong doesn't represent a significant group of people.

Its comments like that that have me coming to The Oil Drum less and less these days. Seriously, do some research so that you can at least distinguish between weather and climate.

He's joking.

However, you have a point, in that it may not be obvious to visitors when someone is joking, being sarcastic, etc.

Perhaps we should consider, before posting such "humor," whether it might be misunderstood, and if it's really so funny that it's worth the bandwidth and possible misunderstandings.

It wasn't humor either. The question at the end was completely serious, though. I think many on this site underestimate the problems that are developing because a lack of objective intelligence inherent in the human species. There is no solution to this.

Sarcasm is the rhetorical device of using a characterization of something or someone in order to express contempt.

I'd rather you used data rather than sarcasm. Sarcasm is too easily misunderstood, and tends to generate more heat than light even when it's not.

Either that, or just flag or ignore the comment, rather than responding.

rainsong's comment on the weather might have included a mention of the fact that this latest storm originated in the Eastern Pacific Ocean off Central America. The El Nino winds pushed lots of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico toward the north, where the moisture fell as snow after colliding with colder air from the Arctic.

Those upper level flows (run an animation loop to view) which prevented hurricane formation in the Gulf of Mexico are still pushing more warm, moist air toward the north today. Those flows might indicate an increase in the tropic to pole flows, as a result of the warming of the Earth and a possible weakening of the THC. If so, look for more interesting weather as the Winter of 2010 progresses.

rainsong, you do know that we are already in the Winter of 2010, don't you? It started on 1 December, after the end of the 2009 Hurricane Season. It's called climate, not weather...

E. Swanson

More than one person noted that the heavy rains in New Orleans (roughly 30' in a week) felt like hurricane weather. The heavy rains we associate with a sideswipe of a hurricane.

The summer heat accumulated moisture in the Gulf, but without a hurricane, is waited till now is a popular belief here (and not that inaccurate).


Yeah, one can look back at older satellite data HERE. Take a look at last week, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for the hurricane sector images. The water vapor images for Thursday gives a good idea or what happened. One can pick different times of the day to display an image, which is important for the visible image, since there aren't any at night. Be aware that "Z" time is GMT, which is 5 hours before EST.

Well, looks like the second blast of snow in our area has about run it's course. Time to get the snow shovel out again. We had 14" to 20" yesterday. I'm snowed in till Spring, if I don't clear my 400 foot D/W...

E. Swanson

A year later, TVA chief says ash spill `painful'

KINGSTON, Tenn. - The Tennessee Valley Authority's top executive says changing the way waste is stored at its power plants should reduce the risk of another disastrous coal ash spill like the one that tarnished a riverside community a year ago. But he isn't offering any guarantees.

This isn't too far from me. The bad part about these plants is, even if you're not downsteam from one, we are all downwind from one. I wonder how many of these people had bragged about their low power bills prior to this debacle. It's just a shame we're stuck with "clean coal" for a long time.

We were hit with another power cut earlier today and it looks like service won't be restored until just after midnight (http://www.nspower.ca/en/home/residential/outageinformation/livepowerout...). Currently, it's minus 9°C and the temperature is falling, so it's going to be a cold miserable night in the neighbourhood. I've switched on the oil-fired boiler and its being powered by the generator, so we have plenty of heat and hot water (about the only time it gets pressed into service).

I'm heading over to check on an elderly couple a few doors down.... Ed's prepared a couple hot turkey sandwiches and I've made a carafe of tea and filled two hot water bottles. We've pleaded for them to spend the evening with us but they stubbornly refuse to leave their home.


You sound like a great neighbor to have!

Being dependent on the grid for heat is just plain foolish. I have a kerosene heater (balky ol' thing that needs a bit of babying to get it going) and some isopropyl alcohol and my goofy spinning-flame burner.

Thanks, fleam. They're a really nice couple and whatever you do for them they'll try to repay ten fold. Their home is seventy-five years old and their steam boiler doesn't work without electricity; with no other source of heat, it's getting to the point where they really should leave (the temperature outside is now minus 10). Ed and I will be heading over shortly and this time we're taking the car -- if we can't persuade them to stay with us, I want to take them to a coffee shop where we can sit and chat for an hour or so. Given their age and general health, they shouldn't be left alone.


Well, -9 in your communist degrees is something like 20 degrees F, but it's still cold. And it's very cold for old folks with sluggish metabolisms. It's very nice of you folks to look out for them.

We've got a lovely winter of about 30 degrees F overnight, around 0 in your degrees, and no insulation at all because insulation is considered a Communist plot in California, so yeah it gets cold. Probably will be around 10C overnight here, not bad at all really but still enough to make my breath show up well inside here, and the keyboard and my fingers stiffen up a lot - Internet is already very very slow as the system breaks down but winter temps make me a lot less loquacious online.

And the American Way is to not look out for your neighbors, this is why it impresses me so much that you are looking out for yours. Good on you!

Thanks, fleam. They still wouldn't budge so Ed pulled the feed to their boiler from the disconnect switch and wired a temporary plug to the end and I brought over our old Honda generator, topped up the gas tank and ran an extension cord through the garage and into the basement; with that, they now have heat and a limited amount of light. It's -12C/10F and falling, so they were worried the pipes might freeze. As soon as power is restored, we'll head back and reconnect their boiler. Tomorrow, we'll get something more permanent in place for the next time we need to do this but, for now, all's good.


Man you guys are great!

I had my "pipes" (the garden hose that brings me water) freeze, just means no water comes out of the tap. I just waited a few hours for it to thaw in the sun.

Good on you for looking out for them, regular pipes in a real house freezing, is a fairly major thing.

Thanks, fleam. Service was restored at 03h50 this morning, which made it a long night for us, but at least we were warm and comfortable; a good number of our neighbours were far less fortunate.

We had our pipes freeze in the ice storm of '98 and I swore I would never go through that again. Consequently, we have multiple sources of heat: the heat pumps if we have electricity, the oil-fired boiler if we have auxiliary power and the propane fireplaces if we have neither. And whilst our day-to-day cooking is electric (induction), our primary cook top is propane.

We keep a minimum of 600-litres of fuel oil and 300-litres of propane on hand at all times and, normally, both tanks are full or nearly full. We also store 40-litres of gasoline for the generator (with stabilizer, rotated periodically) and can tap the two Chryslers if need be -- we make a point of topping up both vehicles if it looks like the weather might turn against us.

Lots of candles, flashlights, spare batteries, a battery-operated radio, first aid kit, a couple duffel bags ready to go and a check list of all the things to do and take with us should we need to evacuate (e.g., turn off the gas and water, drain the radiator lines, add antifreeze to the sinks and toilets, etc.). It all sounds a tad over the top, but this way, we execute to a plan which hopefully minimizes the risk of something critical being overlooked, especially when we're both under stress.


I made up a plan for a hard freeze (-3 C for multiple hours, I KNOW you are laughing !) to be executed in my absence during the Christmas/New Years period if the forecast is that bitterly cold !

I have a raised house with copper pipes underneath (installed with insulation covering them), three outside faucets, outside washing machine (in the shed) and outside gas tankless hot water heater.

My plan is to drain the hot water system, shut off line to shed and open faucets to washing machine and put fresh cold water in faucets (+20 C) as late as possible. Let the water drip if a once in two decades freeze is coming (-6 or -7C).

Best Hopes for a low of 0 C this winter :-)


Hi Alan,

I wasn't laughing, but I did chuckle. In any event, it sounds like you've got things well covered.

A couple months ago, I bought another Yamaha generator -- an EF2400is -- to replace our EF1000isc (I donated the latter to a local homeless shelter because it was somewhat undersized for our needs).

So long as this little kitten continues to purr and provided we don't run out of fuel, we'll have plenty of heat and hot water. We have a second Honda generator which we don't use because it's a non-inverter model and I'm worried it might damage anything electronic, including our boiler controls. However, if push comes to shove, it's there if we need it.


I wonder if Hugo reads TOD. I think we are making progress! Rock on Hugo:

Venezuela's leftist dictator Hugo Chavez once again used an international forum to put on a show with harsh rhetoric for the industrialized world, including the United States. But the voice that rang the loudest was that of the very crowd around which the whole Copenhagen Conference revolves.

Chavez railed against the alleged injustices of free markets, claiming that "a ghost is stalking the streets of Copenhagen... it's capitalism, capitalism is that ghost." He went on to assert that the "destructive model of capitalism is the eradication of life."

He concluded with his own solution:

"...our revolution seeks to help all people...socialism, the other ghost that is probably wandering around this room, that's the way to save the planet, capitalism is the road to hell...let's fight against capitalism and make it obey us."

For his waxing poetic about the joys of socialism and the evils of economic freedom, he won a standing ovation, which was preceded by thunderous applause from the like-minded delegates at the convention.

This is all perfectly in line with the conclusion of the Washington Post, which wrote today that the plan agreed to by the United States "amounts to the single biggest transfer of wealth from rich to poor nations for any one cause -- in a sense offering compensation for decades of warming the Earth."

I'm surprised there isn't more discussion on what's happening now in Iraq, and what's happening in the US as a result of the last war, than a rehash of cause-of-war issues we previously discussed.

I want to point out again that more than 90% of Iraq's oil went to the US before the last war. Now in the US we may well never get as much again as we did before. This is a collosal economic failure, and will hurt the US in many ways.

But anyway, those that discounted the Iran seizure yesterday as some type of unconfirmed rumor need to take a look at the cold reality of the situation. It is not good, with the US stating that Iraq should take strong action.

Those with very long memories may recall that Iraq complained about Kuwait taking oil from under its territory. That lead later to war, as we all know.

How ironic it is that Iraq now stands accussed of doing the same thing to Iran.

Iran Claims an Oil Field It Seized

It sounds like much ado about nothing to me. Apparently, there's no oil left in the disputed well. And this kind of "invasion" is nothing new.

Iraqi soldiers in the area said they had frequently had disputes with Iranian troops over the oil field, with each side replacing the other nation’s flag with its own every few weeks.

Sounds to me like the media got hold of something that had been going on for a long time already. There are 11 soldiers at the well. Doesn't sound like much of an invasion force.

Deleted. too much B&B on a chilly saturday night

I just assumed that when it was called an "oil field" that is was, er, an oil field.

And the Poles attacked a German border crossing. This "Iranians captured the oil rig" reminds me of the excuse the Nazis used to invade Poland.

Don't forget the last time we had the Iraqis fighting Iran for us.


The war began when Iraq invaded Iran on 22 September 1980 following a long history of border disputes and fears of Shia insurgency among Iraq's long-suppressed Shia majority influenced by the Iranian Revolution.

Funny how things come full circle......