Drumbeat: December 31, 2009

US natural gas rig count up 8 to 759 this week

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the United States rose by eight this week to 759, according to a report on Friday by oil services firm Baker Hughes in Houston.

... Many gas producers had scaled back drilling operations earlier this year with credit tight and natural gas cash prices sinking this summer to $2.50 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), a 7-1/2 year low and down some 80 percent from July 2008 highs above $13.

But gas prices have been on a steady uptrend for the last three months, rallying some 25 percent this month alone to more than $5.50 as a steady stream of cold air kicked up demand.

Some traders say prices are now high enough to encourage more onshore drilling, noting nearly all shale gas production is profitable near that level.

EPA questions New York state plan to drill for shale gas

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has "serious reservations" about allowing shale gas drilling in New York City's watershed, warning of a threat to the drinking water for 9 million people.

An EPA report on the divisive issue is the latest potential roadblock for energy companies seeking to exploit the Marcellus Shale formation, which state officials say may contain enough natural gas to satisfy U.S. demand for more than a decade.

Oil rises to $80 for first time since November

NEW YORK – Oil prices ended 2009 with a bang, surging by about $10 a barrel in the final two weeks as the country cut into its hefty crude supply.

On Thursday benchmark crude for February delivery added 8 cents to settle at $79.36 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude barrels, which touched $80 earlier in the day, are 71 percent more expensive than they were at the beginning of the year.

Russian oil to flow to Belarus despite failed deal

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia has no plans to cut oil supplies to Belarus from Jan. 1 despite failing to agree terms of 2010 deliveries, a Russian government source said on Thursday, adding that talks would resume in early January.

The comment will be seen as a relief in Germany and Poland, which experienced cuts in Russian crude oil supplies in January 2007 along a major pipeline running via Belarus because of a similar dispute between Moscow and Minsk.

PDVSA and Eni finalise plans

State-owned PDVSA and Italy-based Eni are finalising plans for a joint venture that would start producing heavy crude oil in Venezuela's Orinoco region in 2014.

Regulators: ND wind power grew quickly in 2009

BISMARCK, N.D. – North Dakota regulators say the state's wind power resources almost doubled in 2009.

Four major projects began operating. They're capable of generating about 547 megawatts.

John Michael Greer: Immodest Proposals

While at the public library here in Cumberland the other day, I found a book titled The End of Prosperity. This – I was about to describe it as meretricious, but that would be unfair to honest prostitutes – this pointless waste of inoffensive trees, then, claims that if the US government raised taxes to a level that might just actually pay for the services it provides, the result would be, well, the end of prosperity. Somehow the authors managed to ignore the fact that in the 1950s, when American prosperity was by many measures at its all-time peak, people in the upper tax brackets paid well over 2/3 of their income to Uncle Sam, and that the country has by most measures become less prosperous, not more, as those tax rates have been lowered.

There’s a reason for that, and it ties back into the distinction I made in several earlier posts about the differences among the primary, secondary, and tertiary economies. The primary economy, which is nature, and the secondary economy, which is the production of goods and services by human labor, are subject to negative feedback loops that tend to hold them in balance. The tertiary economy, which is the exchange of money and other forms of abstract wealth, is subject to positive feedback loops that drive it out of balance in ways that unbalance the other two economies as well.

A look back at the best business books of 2009

"$20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rising Cost of Gas Will Change Our Lives for the Better" by Christopher Steiner, Grand Central Publishing. 288 pages.

"Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization" by Jeff Rubin. Random House. 304 pages. 7/13/09

I devoured these two fascinating books over the last Independence Day weekend, a propitious occasion to learn that one of our most cherished American freedoms may soon evaporate. Each depicts the ways our lives will change as the price of oil, gasoline and petrochemicals continues to rise, and both posit a future that resembles, in many ways, our pastoral past. Much of what these guys write reads like science fiction, though like the best SF, there are recognizably plausible elements therein to enable the suspension of disbelief.

Increased US military involvement in Yemen could boomerang

Yemeni officials say more than 30 operatives of al Qaeda's Yemeni offshoot, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), were killed and 29 others captured in raids in recent weeks that foiled attacks on the British embassy in the capital Sana'a and Yemeni oil facilities. Human rights activists and al Qaeda charge that scores of innocent civilians died in the attacks.

US support for the raids reflects concerns on both sides of the Atlantic that multiple conflicts in Yemen - including the fight against al Qaeda, a five-year war against tribal rebels in the north that has dragged neighboring Saudi Arabia into the hostilities, a secession movement in the south, rampant inflation and unemployment, dwindling oil revenues and an acute water shortage - could turn Yemen into the strategic region's next failed state alongside Somalia.

China grants new licenses for fuel wholesale, storage

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has granted new domestic fuel wholesale licences to six companies, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday, as part of an ongoing plan to open up its vast fuel distribution market.

India: Power sector in the dark in 2009

Electricity, a basic minimum service that any citizen or industry should get for its development, witnessed severe fluctuations in progress in 2009 in terms of capacity addition.

Although the country hopes to achieve 78,000 MW in new generation capacity in the five years ending 2012, the way things are moving now make this target look like a tall order.

Taxi fares fleecing commuters as CNG stations halt supply

ISLAMABAD (APP): Taxi drivers were fleecing commuters under the pretext of suspension of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) supply for two days to the filling stations in the twin cities.Passengers were compelled to pay exorbitant fare due to shortage of public transport plying on various routes in and out of the cities.

The Philippines turns to green energy

WITH record crude prices fading into the background, 2009 marked the year when green energy moved beyond being a promising technology for a cleaner environment in the Philippines. After decades of neglect because of high production costs and limited markets, the development of biomass, geothermal, solar, hydro, ocean and wind power—or what the Department of Energy called the Big Show—received serious attention.

What gave a boost to the once empty green promise was the passage of the Renewable Energy Act of 2008.

The law was passed amid record crude prices, which sent local electricity and pump prices shooting for the stars.

Indonesia's 2009 Oil Production Misses Target - BP Migas

The Indonesian Upstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Agency (BP Migas) said that oil production in 2009 reached only 949,000 barrels per day, or 99 percent of the 960,000-b/d goal set in the 2009 Revised State Budget.

Korea Buys Oil Fields in Kazakhstan

Korea National Oil Corp. (KNOC) has secured two oil fields in Kazakhstan by buying a stake in a Kazakh enterprise.

China's pipeline starts pumping central Asian gas into Xinjiang

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- The western section of China's No.2 West-East gas pipeline starts supplying gas on Thursday.

The pipeline now can transmit natural gas from central Asia to Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Demand for gas in Russia declined by about 10 pct in 2009 - Gazprom

MOSCOW (Itar-Tass) -- The shrinkage in demand for gas in Russia over 2009 is about ten percent, Gazprom’s spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said on the Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) radio station on Thursday.

The fall in demand for gas in Europe proved a little bigger.

North Dakota is poised for natural gas growth

North Dakota is home to trillions of cubic feet of natural gas, Helms said, and is a common byproduct of raw crude oil production. The AP story points to the recent $30 billion deal by the world’s largest oil company, Exxon Mobile Corp, to purchase XTO Energy Inc. The move makes Exxon the country’s top natural gas producer, as it expects to grow natural gas sales to electric utilities.

Helms said there currently is surplus capacity on two natural gas lines in the state and there is expansion of capacity on a third line. The companies involved in natural gas distribution and processing in the state all have large capital budgets planned to expand the gathering and processing facilities, Helms added.

Deep Sea Anchors for Offshore Installations

In the 90s, when petroleum production began moving towards deeper waters, Lieng was a geotechnologist with SINTEF. He envisaged a better solution than the box-like suction anchors of the time that were placed on the seabed. These are open at the bottom and function by pumping out the water inside, thus creating a vacuum that pulls the anchor into the substrate so that it holds solid. However, the need to carefully orient such anchors, and their sensitivity to high seas and waves, makes for problems when they are being deployed, in many cases involving delays that can cost millions a day.

Jon Tore Lieng thought that the simplest concept would be to drop a sufficiently heavy anchor straight down into the sea. If it was heavy enough, and moving fast enough, such an anchor would force its way into the seabed and create and extra powerful hold.

Stimulus, Schmimulus -- We Need Jobs to Build a Sustainable Economy

In reality, the U. S. economy will falter for many years unless a government-led reform recognizes new economic and environmental realities and confronts the challenges before us. We can return to full employment by creating jobs that lay the foundation for shared prosperity, or we can wait for the captains of capitalism to rescue us under the same trickle-down paradigm that has failed so spectacularly. Facing peak oil and global competition for scarce natural resources, we must repair and reform the physical and intellectual undergirding of our economy to build a broad base of prosperity.

Andrew McKillop: COP15 in Copenhagen ... a failure for globalization!

Fending off the near-term impacts of Peak Oil by slowing energy demand growth, while profiting from the coming global bulge in cheap gas supplies, was yet another, of course never admitted, but appealing strand to forcing the pace on global energy transition. Deep in the Herd Memory of today's oil importing OECD country leaders, lies the spectre of the 1970s Oil Shocks, well hidden by the public message that energy transition will "prevent climate catastrophe." Both the "non-hydro renewables" like solar and wind power, and cheap natural gas supplies offer new ways to obtain energy security and continue increasing energy consumption.

The Law of Averages in Data Centers

The study suggests that midsized data centers are most likely to face an energy crisis in the near future as compared to either small or large data centers. What is left behind are middle tiered data centers that are between 5k-50K in size.

This basically spins from the fact that either there is lack of sufficient power for these data centers or even if such power is available it is too costly to power up the racks. The study suggests that the best possible alternative in such a case is not to have their own power supply arrangement but the same old mantra – outsourcing or third part data centers.

Montana's "Clean-Coal" Governor's Climate Change Blunder

Schweitzer has made quite a name for himself in pro-coal energy circles, traveling around the country promoting "clean-coal" technology in speeches and presentations. The Montana governor has even appeared on several national television shows, even landing a prime-time spot at the Democratic National Convention in 2008 to promote his coal-intensive energy vision.

Many environmentalists are concerned that what President Bush was for oil, Governor Schweitzer could be for coal if his trajectory in the Democratic Party continues.

The 2000s: Selling the Apocalypse, Now

For much of the last century, American social history could be broken down into decades. The Eisenhower-values '50s segued into the '60s youth revolt, the '70s malaise, the '80s exuberance, and ultimately the '90s granola-fueled quest to fix the world. Such generalizations usually take a few years to crystallize, but one thing is already clear about the 2000s: This was the decade when the apocalypse went on sale.

How much do we rely on California for our food?

Hawai'i's food prices have soared over the past few years. Fresh loaves of unsliced bread that used to cost a dollar at KTA's bakery are now $2.79. The cost of everything, from almonds to strawberries, have risen, often drastically. And they're likely to go higher in the coming months, thanks to factors including a major drought in California's central valley, reduced rainfall in Waimea's "vegetable belt" and increased fuel and shipping prices.

How high? There's no way to predict, because the state's agency that monitors produce prices and imports has been shut down.

The state Department of Agriculture's Market Analysis and News Branch was abolished earlier this month as a cost-cutting measure.

Oil rises to $80 for first time since November

NEW YORK – Oil prices on Thursday hit $80 a barrel for the first time in seven weeks as the dollar sank on the final day of the year.

Benchmark crude for February delivery added 61 cents at $79.89 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil jumped as high as $80 a barrel earlier in the day. It hasn't traded for that much since Nov. 11.

Shell Buys Forties Crude Stored on Tanker; Seeks More Loads

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc bought a shipment of Forties crude oil from Vitol Group which has been stored on a supertanker off the U.K. since November.

Europe’s biggest oil company said it bought 600,000 barrels of Forties loading from the tanker Flandre at Scapa Flow in the North Sea between Jan. 16 and Jan. 18 at a discount of 10 cents to Dated Brent.

Acute power crisis in Nepal

Residents in most parts of Kathmandu Valley woke up to a cold and powerless Wednesday morning as Nepal Electricity Authority began its 51-hour weekly power outage across the country.

Power cuts which nearly doubled from the existing 28-hour per week as a result of low water level in rivers is severely affecting the Himalayan nation for the second consecutive winter.

China protests US duties on oil pipe imports

China expressed Thursday strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to the United States decision to slap punitive penalties on Chinese oil well pipe imports, saying the goods are no threat to American companies.

A Pro-Bicycle City Faces Trouble Promoting Electric Cars

The Dutch have tried stiff fees, a maze of prohibited lanes and other ways of outright discrimination to limit the number of cars in this antique city of arched bridges and canals. It was originally built to cater to boats.

The city's charm campaign was then shifted to bicyclists, but now officials are trying to switch gears and mount an aggressive effort to encourage people to buy new electric cars. That jibes with this country's fight against global warming, but it is also warming the tempers among cyclists. They worry that their traditional right-of-way over cars will be sideswiped by more cars and more parking ramps.

The city council is giving free power to new electric car owners for the next two years and has agreed to pay half of the extra cost of purchasing plug-in vehicles, as compared to cheaper gasoline-powered models. The city might even carve out a reserved parking space with fuel access and front-door approach for new owners. That's a jackpot in this space-squeezed city.

'Big Slide' play reading includes author James Howard Kunstler

ROCHESTER - Nationally-known author James Howard Kunstler, a graduate of Brockport State College, returns next week to attend a staged reading of his play “Big Slide.”

The production, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Jan. 9 at MuCCC, 142 Atlantic Ave., is a three-act apocalyptic vision of early 21st century America.

North Dakota to sue Minnesota for even thinking about a carbon tax

Not only can’t we pass a carbon tax in America, we can’t even think about one.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Tuesday he expects to sue Minnesota for just that, and North Dakota’s legislature has set aside $2 million to fund the lawsuit. Now there’s a good cause.

China's navy mulls push into Arabian Sea

BEIRUT, Lebanon (UPI) -- A Chinese admiral's proposal to build a naval base in the Gulf of Aden, ostensibly to supports Beijing's anti-piracy flotilla off Somalia, has alarm bells ringing in the region.

China's growing naval encroachment in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean to protect its Middle Eastern oil supplies threatens eventual conflict with India, its longtime rival and Asia's other economic titan that is also flexing its muscles in its regional quest for oil.

Oil rises in Asia after US crude stockpiles fall

BANGKOK – Oil prices headed toward $80 a barrel Thursday in Asia, the final day of trading for 2009, after U.S. crude stockpiles fell for the fourth week in a row.

Benchmark crude for February delivery was up 44 cents at $79.72 a barrel at late afternoon Bangkok time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added 41 cents to settle at $79.28 on Wednesday.

Commodities Heading for Best Year Since 1970 on Chinese Demand

(Bloomberg) -- Commodities headed for their best year since at least 1970, led by a doubling in copper, sugar and lead prices, as Chinese demand compensated for the steepest slump in the global economy since World War II.

The S&P GSCI index of 24 raw materials rose 52 percent, its best annual gain according to data on Bloomberg going back to 1971, as of 11:26 a.m. in London. That outpaced the 28 percent gain in the MSCI World Index of stocks in 23 developed nations and 3.5 percent decline in Treasuries, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch indexes.

Oil At $80 Raises Issue Of Oil At $100 In 2010

It is simple to dismiss the current rise in oil to just shy of $80 as a reaction to the value of the US dollar or a possible cold winter in the northern half of America. A more macroeconomic view might point to the theory that the world reached its “peak oil” production this year and that demand will out strip supply from now until the end of time.

Gazprom - Ukraine contract to avert New Year gas war

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia and Ukraine will avoid a repeat of a New Year gas war by virtue of a 10-year contract on supplies signed by the ex-Soviet neighbours this year, Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom said on Thursday.

Gazprom's chief spokesman, Sergei Kupriyanov, said during a live radio broadcast that the firm had dropped litigation in a Stockholm court against Ukrainian state energy firm Naftogaz and that Kiev was unlikely to face fines on gas consumption in 2010.

IMF Lets Ukraine Use Reserves to Cover Gas Payments

(Bloomberg) -- Ukraine won approval from the International Monetary Fund to tap into reserves and cover gas payments, though the Fund will continue to freeze loan disbursement until parliament can commit to budget cuts.

“The IMF Executive Board agreed to the government’s request to modify the performance criterion on Net International Reserves (NIR), as specified in the current Stand-By Arrangement, to lower the end-December NIR floor by about $2 billion,” the IMF said in a statement late yesterday. This will enable Ukraine “to use existing resources to make external payments. It does not involve any new disbursement by the IMF.”

Gazprom says does not fear competition in China

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Gazprom is confident it will be able to supply China with large volumes of natural gas despite a recent deal between Beijing and Turkmenistan, the Russian gas export monopoly's chief spokesman said on Thursday.

"Luckily, the Chinese market is so big and so full of prospects that we are a long way from seeing real competition there," Sergei Kupriyanov said during a live radio broadcast on Ekho Moskvy radio station.

OPEC Oil Output Rose in December, Bloomberg Survey Shows

(Bloomberg) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries increased crude-oil production in December to the highest level in a year as members took advantage of rising prices, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Output averaged 28.965 million barrels a day this month, up 65,000 barrels from November, according to the survey of oil companies, producers and analysts. The 11 countries with quotas, all except Iraq, pumped 26.615 million barrels a day, 1.77 million above their target. All members exceeded their production goals.

Plentiful Petroleum

Even if skeptics will quibble about the number I have chosen the point is still obvious: how can we be running out of something we always seem to have more of, even including the 100 million barrels or so that we consume each and every day. The balance of justice will tip in my favor, Hubbert is wrong and I am right at least in the short run. Clearly there is not an infinite reserve of petroleum because everything is finite in the very long run.

The gas giant planets of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are largely composed of hydrogen and methane which indicates that crude petroleum feedstock is abundant in our solar system. Thus there is some reason to think that some of this lies in the interior of our planet which slowly but surely percolates through the rock to the upper layers of the crust.

Road to Perdition

In the next twenty years retiree benefit payouts will skyrocket as Baby Boomers retire en masse. The confluence of these entitlement payouts with soaring interest on the National Debt and peak oil will floor the U.S. economy. The only way to honor these commitments would be through huge tax increases.

Decade of low points broken up by occasional highlight

“Certainly by the end of the decade, we will know whether we have in fact used up half the oil or whether we haven’t. If we have, which is quite likely, then the pressure will increase to come up with better alternatives,“ he said. Thus, the 2010s will be the real start of what Hiemstra calls “the great energy transition,“ which he predicts will take 30 to 40 years.

The Best News from 2009

Peak oil consumption -- for the U.S. -- also seems at hand. Reform of the transportation sector accelerated in 2009. The amount of driving Americans do peaked in 2004, leveled off for three years, and began to drop in 2007, well before the economic crisis.

Iraq Says Oil-Round Winners Agree to Contract Changes

(Bloomberg) -- Iraq said companies that were awarded fields in its second oil-licensing round agreed to contract changes that prevent them from avoiding certain duties and taxes.

The modifications were proposed by the contracts and licensing division of the Council of Ministers and presented to the winning companies yesterday, the Oil Ministry said in an e- mailed statement. The revised contracts will be sent to the council next week for approval.

Judge rules for plaintiffs in suit against utility

WORCESTER, Mass.—The plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Unitil have won a legal victory from a judge who ruled against the electric utility's motion to move the case out of central Massachusetts.

Residents and businesses in the Fitchburg area sued the utility for compensation for losses incurred in the aftermath of an ice storm in December 2008.

Unitil claimed in its motion that because of the widespread effects of the ice storm and media coverage it would be unable to get a fair trial in Worcester County.

Bill banning use of offshore platforms for fish farms could affect Gulf aquaculture

Proposed federal legislation could make the Gulf of Mexico a less likely site for the nation's first commercial offshore fish farms.

Under the National Sustainable Offshore Aquaculture Act of 2009, proposed by Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., it would be illegal to use oil or natural gas platforms for fish farming operations.

Snowball of change can lead to green avalanche

Nature doesn't negotiate. Do you think immigration is a big issue? Sea levels are rising faster than ever expected and hundreds of millions of refugees, many from Bangladesh, will soon be looking for somewhere to go. A growing chorus of countries is calling for the nations most responsible for creating the problem (the U.S. is at the top of that list) to make room for those people. Failure to act decisively to curb climate change is tantamount to sending out enough green cards to double our population.

Eye on Earth: 2009 Year in Review

Worldwatch looks back at this year in environmental news, picking the most notable stories posted to Eye on Earth over the past 12 months.

China Won’t Set Solar Power Prices Soon, Securities News Says

(Bloomberg) -- China may not set the on-grid prices for domestic solar power anytime soon because of high production costs, Shanghai Securities News said, citing a government official.

The government won’t be able to subsidize solar power projects as their costs are too high, the newspaper said, citing Shi Lishan, deputy director or renewable energy at the National Energy Administration.

Lithuania ‘Prepared’ to Shut Nuclear Plant Today, Premier Says

(Bloomberg) -- Lithuania is “properly prepared” for the closure of the country’s only nuclear plant today, Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said.

“As much as we could, we’re approaching the shutdown properly prepared,” Kubilius said in a radio interview with Ziniu Radijas today. “Electricity prices will rise after the closure, but the increase will be significantly smaller than previously projected.”

BANGLADESH: Ever so vulnerable to storms, floods and sea level rises

DHAKA (IRIN) - Low-lying Bangladesh with its 230 rivers and dense population of over 150 million has long been prone to flooding, soil erosion and saltwater intrusion, but climate change could aggravate the situation, experts and government officials warn.

In a report entitled A Global Report: Reducing Disaster Risk: A Challenge for Development, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has identified Bangladesh as the country most vulnerable to tropical cyclones and sixth most vulnerable to floods.

George Bush key to green future

The grand irony of Copenhagen is that the best hope for a genuine agreement on climate change between the developed and the developing world now lies in George W. Bush's Major Economies Forum, not in the UN process.

Mass. joins program to cut tailpipe emissions

Massachusetts is among 11 eastern states that agreed yesterday to develop a plan by 2011 for a regional program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicle fuels.

Governor Deval Patrick was among the governors who signed the agreement, committing to evaluate alternative fuel options and study the costs of such a program, which will promote using cleaner fuels.

Climate change increasing malaria risk, research reveals

Rising temperatures on the slopes of Mount Kenya have put an extra 4 million people at risk of malaria, research funded by the UK government warned today.

Global Warming: Where Governments Have Failed, Branson Wants to Step In

Perhaps it's a case of big business aiming to bail out government, for a change.

The response by government to the threat of global warming has been underwhelming so far, a fact that remains little changed despite the political agreement negotiated at the U.N. summit in Copenhagen in December. But at least one business leader, the British billionaire and founder of the Virgin Group Richard Branson, says he has heard the alarm from scientists and environmentalists about climate change, and believes that the world must not waste time shifting away from oil and other fossil fuels.

Plentiful Petroleum...

The gas giant planets of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are largely composed of hydrogen and methane which indicates that crude petroleum feedstock is abundant in our solar system. Thus there is some reason to think that some of this lies in the interior of our planet which slowly but surely percolates through the rock to the upper layers of the crust.

Sheesh! Do any of these morons ever crack open any kind of physical science books?

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) Earth, where we happen to live, is one of the four *ROCKY* planets in our solar system, the other three of course being Mercury, Mars and Venus. Tell you what if you find oil on Mars come back and we'll talk. Oh, and if it turns out to be from fossil Martian organisms that once may have lived in a martian sea, that doesn't support your theory...OK?

Gaia passes gas. Suburbia is saved.

That article had no purpose but to poke his finger in people's eyes. Resist, FM, resist!
I hope the reactions to Giles here don't make this a 300 post day. It's irresistable red meat for this site, no doubt, but let's change the subject.

Anybody working on personal or family-level solutions for the new year? I'm twisting my handyman business towards the boring but reliable solution of weathersealing and insulation.. possibly with a sideline in Insulated Shutters, and similar retrofits.


(PS, we met a whole Slew of Brazilians at a youth hostel in Madison this week.. they loved my daughter's Brazil soccer shirt.. hostels are great, what a fine, cheap way to get out into the world a bit!)

Resistance is futile, you shall be assimilated ;-)

I'm twisting my handyman business towards the boring but reliable solution of weathersealing and insulation.. possibly with a sideline in Insulated Shutters, and similar retrofits.

Good idea, I understand there is some stimulus money for insulation and weatherizing on the horizon for the coming new year. I may have to give up solar and become a handyman for a while just to ride the wave.

Brazilians in Madison?! LOL! They'll freeze to death.

They want shovel ready projects involving infrastructure. To BAU that means highways and bridges! That, not suprisingly, is where the money is going, to support the infrstructure for the automobiles to be powered by the magic oil. Of course, petroleum means "rock oil," so it only makes sense!


Anybody working on personal or family-level solutions for the new year?

I am doing something very different starting this year -- moving to an anarchist intentional community (AKA commune) and having a go at subsistence farming and living with as little money as possible, with as much mutual aid as possible. For the last ten years I've been teaching philosophy at a tech school to auto mechanics and construction management students and cannot stomach it any more. I am, however, hedging my bets, and only taking a leave of absence for a semester to see how it works out.

Great! I hope you can post frequently about your experience or maybe even start a blog about it.

Just curious though, and I suspect I already know the answer, based on your saying: "that you can't stomach it any more", how receptive exactly are construction management students and auto mechanics to the subtleties of philosophical thinking?

I guess a story such as "The Soul of the Mark III Beast" which can be found in The Mind's I (Douglas Hofstadter and Daniel Dennett, 1981), might make the little wheels in their mechanical minds spin out of control...Of course unfair stereotyping aside (I actually do know people who are quite able to combine mechanical skills with critical thought).

"The Soul of the Mark III Beast", in which a lawyer invites a timid woman to "kill" a robot. The mechanical creature, a steely cross between a mouse and a beetle, "eats" electrical current from the wall, "flees" its pursuer's hammer blows and "bleeds" oil when damages. These points of superficial congruence with the animal kingdom seriously freak the woman out, and she's really got to maintain to finish the job. In short: the fuzzy-to-nonexistent boundary between the sentient and the nonsentient, illustrated (in prose).

From: Review of Mind's I by Colin Marshall

BTW I'm not really familiar with Colin Marshall and I just found this review through Google but I think some of your students could come up with a slightly better synopsis than this one ;-)

how receptive exactly are construction management students and auto mechanics to the subtleties of philosophical thinking?

They've actually been great and I am very glad I ended up with them as an audience rather than coddled rich kids at some expensive Liberal Arts school. One advantage of working at a tech school is that the students are more invested in their education. Even if they may not all have impeccable academic credentials they are not just doing time and partying while waiting until they can assume positions as mid-level managers in some corporate office. It's forced me to rethink my approach since they are willing to challenge the relevance of just about everything I say.

"The Mind's Eye" is great, and I've used bits and pieces from both Dennett and Hofstadter in courses. The computer geek types eat that stuff up.

As for a blog, yes that's on the agenda and I'm taking some tentative steps in that direction. I'll share a link when it's a bit more substantial.

"an anarchist intentional community" (?) Good luck on what your doing but isn't "anarchist intentional community" the ultimate redundant oxymoron? :-)


I forgot to mention that semi-officially it's an "anarchist socialist discordian intentional community." Makes "business ethics" or "military intelligence" seem to make sense...

But seriously the anarchist side is not really all about disorder, so it's not really contrary to intentional. Anarchist simply means that everything is decided by consensus, real consensus in which everyone has veto power, and not the sham consensus of majority rules voting. In order to work people have to be willing to admit that they are wrong and have to take seriously the process of consensus building and being honest about communication and resolving conflicts. We shall see.


Sounds a bit like Babylon 5 ;-)

2009 was a big year for us, energy-transition-wise. We put solar PV on our roof, had insulation blown into our walls, weatherstripped, replaced various single-paned windows with double-paned (though, sadly, not all), and had heating system overhauled (ducts sealed, asbestos removed, various other things to improve efficiency). Also downsized one car and are doing all short trips by electric bike. Just this month we had a solar hot water system installed and are still figuring out its quirks.

For 2010 we're in the process of installing a 700 square foot vegetable garden. I've got to figure out how I'm going to irrigate it and what I can grow successfully. I find the learning curve ahead of me a bit daunting, knowing I'm bound to reap some big failures as I go, but there's no help for it, I suppose.

I think there is a huge untapped market for handyman type stuff. For my kids' schools' fund-raising auctions, I contributed some family energy assessments. Very basic stuff, mostly just looking around people's houses and pointing out opportunity areas. Things like: "See the daylight coming through the gaps around your front door? You need to weatherstrip it." "You have absolutely no insulation in your attic? Uh, yes, sealing and insulating your attic should be a higher priority than solar PV." As none of these folks were do-it-yourselfer's, my advice was generally to find a handyman to help them with this stuff. If I'd known someone who specialized in this for a reasonable price, I would have referred him/her. The problem with most standard insulation companies is that they won't necessarily do the sealing in the attic before laying down the insulation, negating a chunk of the benefits of the insulation.

Hi taomom,

I don't imagine you have a lot of free time on your hands, but if you ever have the opportunity to share your experiences in greater detail, I would be very interested to learn more and I expect other here would be too.

Donating home energy audits is a great idea and I hope others will follow your example.


I appreciate hearing from folks that are really making substantial improvements to their houses for energy efficiency. It must be great to be at the point where you can commit to the time and expense to 'get on with it'. We made much more use of the garden this year and re-roofed the back of the house with 40 yr 'energy star' shingles. I don't think the shingles will have any energy now, but the cost differential with 15 or 20 yr shingles was < 10% of the job. Doing it 'right' will save someone else cash and resources in the future.

My wife and I went back and forth over the past 6 yrs on efficiency improvements. In the end, it was mostly weatherstripping as Taomom described. Now I've decided the best use of our cash flow is to simply get rid of the overpriced existing 60 yr house with the mortgage, declining value and high operating costs ($3000/yr utilities + $3000/yr maintenance + $3000 yr prop. tax). I just can't see putting another $20k of efficiency into it. Plus, I've found the construction of this little post-WWII house leaves little room for proper insulation. Instead, we'll move the family into a 2 bdrm condo for 2-3 yrs. I'm even considering renting since I'm not at all convinced that this bubble has corrected yet. So, we'll save, save, save and then buy a house with mostly cash. I plan to use the savings in interest payments to buy a few acres of productive land on the edge of a nice town.

Collect rain water off your roof, store it for later use on your garden. Try not to use tap water, or even well water to water your garden, these are techinically not sustainable in the long run. Pick the plants you use for those that will do better in your area of the country. Go to others in your area that are growing gardens and talk to them about what they have been doing and ask questions. Remember that not everyone will have a sustainable mindset in how they grow a garden. Look around at edible landscaping Ideas for your area, and would you e.mail me and we can talk about the issues of growing a garden and edible landscaping and the like.



Hi Bob,

I wish you the very best with your new business venture. I can't persuade friends and neighbours to insulate and air seal even though it's the most sensible and cost-effective option, and yet I've had no difficulty convincing a number of friends and associates to install ductless heat pumps. How ironic that folks will kick a $200.00 solution out of their way as they race to embrace the $2,000.00 alternative.


Had all the blown in insulation removed out of the attic. Discovered some nimwit had carefully plugged all the soffit vents from the inside hence the ice dams that were wrecking the roof shingles. Cleared vents, installed baffles, sealed many interesting large gaps in attic floor (particularly nice ones around chimeny and plumbing stacks). Am in process of cutting Roxul batts to reach R66 in attic insulation. Joists and rafters are very vaguely 16 inches apart, hence every bloody batt has to be carefully cut. I will never buy another house with a hip roof again. Miserable to fit in eaves and seal and insulate. Gables only. Hope to have attic back together by end of January, -40 comes in january. Have saved enough money to replace all single-paned windows (in Saskatchewan) with triple-glazed, low e, argon filled, must order windows as will have to made (non-standard sizes). Spent fall plugging and stucco patching cracked sill plate between foundation and wall and have largely solved ice on baseboards problem. This also plugged the interior convection cell that was sucking cold air in at the cracked sill plate and pumping it out in large gap in attic floor around chimeny (how do you spell this in English grr). This has been a long and painful process that isn't done yet, won't be done for another month and the really cold weather has been here for a month already. Grrrrrr and Brrrrr Miserable hard work

Hi Paleo,

We had the same problem when we bought this home. There was just 70mm of fibreglass insulation in the attic (and it wasn't uniformly placed at that) and a 50 mm air space all the way around the inside chimney. Consequently, a tremendous volume of conditioned air was being sucked up a three story chase and warming the attic, which resulted in a row of massive icicles from one end of the roof to the other. Installing a metal flashing and sealing with high temperature caulking fixed that problem and dramatically reduced our fuel oil requirements.

Our attic is now R66 as well. We left the existing insulation in place and added another R20 above it to bring it up to the top of the rafters, then installed R40 batts perpendicular to this to help minimize thermal bridging. The walls went from R6 to R22.5 and we replaced all operable windows with new Pella Architectural series low-e/argon units (it was going to cost $22,000.00 to replace the fixed units with matching true divided lights so we left those in place with the exterior wooden storms and added two 3M window films on either side of the inside panes).

This and other improvements to our home's thermal envelope, and a new oil-fired boiler knocked some 3,700 litres/1,000 gallons off our annual fuel oil requirements. With the subsequent addition of the two ductless heat pumps, the remaining 2,000 litres have been largely eliminated as well.


This and other improvements to our home's thermal envelope, and a new oil-fired boiler knocked some 3,700 litres/1,000 gallons off our annual fuel oil requirements. With the subsequent addition of the two ductless heat pumps, the remaining 2,000 litres have been largely eliminated as well.

I've been watching your posts and wondering, why are you using fuel oil given the massive natural gas fields offshore Nova Scotia? I mean, Sable Island alone produces 500 million cubic feet of gas per day, and the NS government collects about $500 million per year in royalties from it. Is that the only benefit you get from it? Does the provincial government have no policy to assure that everybody gets on the NG grid before any gas goes to export? Does all that gas just flow past your house on the way to New York, and nobody in NS uses it?

Here in sunny Alberta, that would never happen. The provincial government ensures that domestic users get first priority, and gas only goes to export if there is a surplus to domestic demand. The provincial government does its best to ensure that all domestic customers have access to the NG distribution grid. They do projections 25 years into the future, and the official plan is to cut the US off as production declines (which it is doing). The US has been informed of this, although it is doubtful they are paying attention given their current NG surplus.

It's all a question of energy security. The oil going into eastern Canada comes from some highly unstable countries, and you can never be sure of supply. While it is theoretically possible to move oil from the west coast to the east coast via the Panama canal, that would be difficult to arrange in a supply emergency. The NG supply, though, is extremely secure assuming you can keep the terrorists away from Sable Island, which shouldn't be that hard.


This is a rather sore point for many Nova Scotians. The natural gas distribution system in this province is virtually non-existent and I'm guessing fewer than 1,000 homes are currently connected (the roll-out has been painfully slow).

When we bought our current home in 2002, we were told natural gas would be available in our area within two to three years and some eight years later, that projection remains unchanged. In any event, on the basis of what we were told then, we installed a new oil-fired boiler and indirect water heater that was certified to burn either fuel and oversized the gas lines to the BBQ, range, fireplaces and dryer so that they could serve these loads when that happy day came (natural gas lines are slightly larger in diameter). Our intention was to use oil and propane only during the interim.

Having said that, if by some miracle natural gas were to land at our doorstep tomorrow I'm not so sure I would switch given that it's a money losing proposition. Natural gas currently retails for $11.88 per GJ. Our boiler has an AFUE rating of 82%, so the cost per kWh of heat is approximately 5.2 cents (this time last year is was 7.2 cents). The heat pump we installed last year has a HSPF of 9.3, so we obtain, on average, 2.74 kWh of heat for every kWh consumed; at 11.796 cents per kWh, our cost per kWh of heat is thus 4.3 cents. And once you factor in an account fee of $18.00 per month, the competitive position of natural gas only degrades further.


Well, given that you are paying nearly twice as much for natural gas as I do (around $6.30 per GJ), I can see that the economics don't work out as well for you. My furnace is about 95% efficient, and I have R20 insulation in the walls and R40 in the attic, so my heating costs are well under control. This is rather typical of Alberta houses these days - the cost of heating aside, it makes the house much more comfortable in cold weather.

They key point I would make, though, is that oil is unlikely to stay as cheap as it is now. I have the feeling that this is the calm before the storm. Too many major world producers are in decline, and some of them are going into free fall. Canada is an exception, but the oil pipelines don't reach to the Maritimes. The natural gas situation is much better, mainly due to the US success in producing shale gas.

Nova Scotia is very exposed to international oil prices and supply shortfalls, and I don't think you can count on the federal government to subsidize oil imports in a crisis as it has done in the past. It's too bad that the NS government apparently isn't thinking very hard about energy security.


I've noted several times before that I wish we had installed a small electric boiler given that our space heating requirements, post retrofit, are relatively modest. Again, oil and propane were intended to fill the gap until natural gas arrived on our street, but that promise was never kept and I don't expect it ever will.

In July 2008, Heritage Gas was charging a whopping $19.296 per GJ (8.47 cents per kWh at 82% AFUE), which makes natural gas heat twice as costly as that provided by our two ductless heat pumps. We have four propane fireplaces, a propane dryer, BBQ and cook top and the boiler and DHW can be converted to gas by simply swapping out the burner head; on that basis, it still makes sense to go with gas. However, if we didn't have these additional propane appliances or if we were building new, I would go all electric.


obviously I don't know your circumstances, but why did you remove the blown in insulation?
have you taken into consideration the elevation difference between your location and the manufacturer of your new windows? (I'm not totally up to speed on this but the low e arson elevation dif. seems to be a concern)
have you looked into an under house vapor barrier?

It's a hip roof with very low eaves so to be able to move practically in the attic the insulation had to be removed. As well, I've been sealing the holes in the attic floor so all the blown insulation had to be removed to do this. Furthermore, it was fiberglass which I am very allergic to and I'm asthmatic, so if I'm working in the attic it has to go. Practically I don't see how you can reasonably seal an attic floor with insulation present while you're trying to work. Also it would have been impossible to unplug the soffit vents with it present.

House has a basement, can't put in an under house barrier. Why would you out of curiosity? and why does the elevation difference matter? Thanks

and why does the elevation difference matter? Thanks

Old-school argon-filled windows could lose argon due to differential pressure if built at one location and installed at another elevation.
But modern argon windows have an expansion bladder and a tube to be crimped at install elevation, or another means of dealing with varying atmospheric pressure, so I think the install elevation is now a non-issue.

I just dug into it a bit. Apparently the "breather" tube option can ad $$ in a hurry, the rule of thumb seems to be do not transport higher than 5,000 ft. above the point of manufacture. If it's a problem for you there's an Aramsco (which I can not vouch for) plant in Utah, el. 7,000 ft.

Hi Paleo
One of the benefits of blown in is it is supposed to eliminate the need to seal most penetrations, and a whole bunch of other crap, but it's done so I'll get over it.
I went looking thru my old Fine Homebuilding collection searching for the under house barrier but came up short. here's two links that I think might get you going down the road.
Your local library might have them.
as far as the elevation thing goes let me research that a bit more,I'll post what I find

It's surprising that George Giles made so many blatant mistakes in that rant given his claims so much educational experience. Is he another over educated idiot who knows a lot about a narrow specialty or is he intentionally blowing it out his rear end just to attract attention? Maybe he spent too much time in that hot bed of redneck religious fundamentalism, Huntsville, Alabama, while working for NASA. Did he hang out with those one time NASA denialist, John Christy and Roy Spencer while there?

E. Swanson

George Giles is the founder of the Gonzo School of Economics,

That is an offshoot of the Bozo School of Economics...


Folk who are reading randomly through the many TOD posts on this Happy Happy New Years Day may not understand (especially if they have drunk from the champagne and kool-aid bowls) that you re referring to the bottom of this link where it says:

George Giles [send him mail] is the founder of the Gonzo School of Economics, the radical branch of Austrian Economic Theory. He was the youngest Republican ever elected in 1972 at age 17. You could be elected at age 17 if the office was not assumed until after age 18. It only took 3 months of local GOP meetings to become a virulent Libertarian ever after.

The site even includes a photo of Professor GG

p.s. The "Best of George Giles" series also includes this gem re AGW:

"Global-warming Political Science" is the product of an affluent society that allows a spoiled rich brat like Al Gore to get a Nobel Prize for telling un-truths. The American people fired him! He is currently unemployed and for a good reason; he has no job skills of any value, as would many of the "scientists" prosecuting the global-warming crusade if the market were free to choose.

We cannot predict weather accurately for more than a week, why should we allow the same predictions to be accepted for all of the future? The answer is we should not.

The above tid bit is snipped from here

We cannot predict weather accurately for more than a week, why should we allow the same predictions to be accepted for all of the future? The answer is we should not.

Yeah. And I shouldn't fix my roof because it's not going to rain this week.

Here's an earlier article which George Giles wrote back in 2006. At the end, he states:

George Giles -- is an independent thinker and writer in Nashville, Tennessee. He took graduate course work in Atmospheric Physics under the Alabama State Climatologist.

And who was the Alabama State Climatologist? Yup, that position was held by none other than John Christy!

E. Swanson

Plentiful Petroleum...

I think that their arguments can be refuted with the TOD-simple pointing out of EROEI.

If they argue that there is plenty of oil, then ask them how much it will cost to get it, and how much people can afford to pay for it, too.

Re: Abiotic OIl - all posts:

January/February Skeptical Inquirer (Vol. 34, Issue 1) has a two page article, "Thomas Gold: Is the Origin of Oil Nonbiological?" It is written by Martin Gardner, described as "author, critic" and a member of the CSI.

They violated thier basic tenents in publishing this, though the author finished with

Will Gold's theory of oil's origins some day be confirmed? This seems now to be very unlikely. But, maybe I'm just following the herd.

I wrote their letters, stating facts as I understand them. Would someone in ASPO be good enough to do likewise with an answering article? The item is on pages 16-17. It truly needs an authoratative response.



I have been a long time fan of Gardner I used to look forward to his Mathematical Games column in Scientific American back in the day when Sciam was still a real science based publication.
I know he must be getting on in years but unless he is losing his mind due to age and senility I find it highly unlikely that he believes in abiotic oil. I haven't read the article but I'd venture to guess that what he is doing is debunking it.

Gardner's uncompromising attitude toward pseudoscience made him one of the world's foremost anti-pseudoscience polemicists of the 20th century.[3] His book Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science (1952, revised 1957) is a classic and seminal work of the skeptical movement. It explored a myriad of dubious outlooks and projects including Fletcherism, creationism, organic farming, Charles Fort, Rudolf Steiner, Scientology, Dianetics, unidentified flying objects, dowsing, extra-sensory perception, the Bates method, and psychokinesis. This book and his subsequent efforts (Science: Good, Bad and Bogus, 1981; Order and Surprise, 1983, etc) earned him a wealth of detractors and antagonists in the fields of "fringe science" and New Age philosophy with many of whom he kept up running dialogs (both public and private) for decades.
Source Wikipedia

Cheers and Happy New Year!

Minor technical issue...even if we were to assume there are vast hydrocarbon stores near the center of the earth (I don't, but let's just say...), do you want to be the one who finances the well deep enough to get there to get it? :-)

Re: Plentiful Petroleum by George Giles, up top:

Most regular readers of Drumbeat will have no problem finding the flaws in his main thesis, but this is the first time I've seen the term "reify" in a Drumbeat post. This is the definition in his hyperlink:

–verb (used with object), -fied, -fy⋅ing. to convert into or regard as a concrete thing: to reify a concept.

I have many times criticized the concepts of EROEI/Net Energy because they are examples of reification and are fallacious.

Despite the obvious errors in his rant it is nice to find someone else who is at least aware of what I'm talking about.

There are many example of reification in politics and religion. Bush's war on terrorism is an example. LBJ's war on poverty is another. In these cases terrorism and poverty are taken as concrete like war on Germany, when in fact terrorism and poverty are both abstract concepts that are undefined.

We can perhaps have a war on underpants bombers or shoe bombers aboard aircraft, but usually each act of terrorism is unique and requires a specific concrete action to counter it. The same is true with poverty.

And it is also true with energy/net energy. Each form of energy is unique and comparing, adding, subtracting etc. different forms of energy tells us nothing about dealing with the Peak Oil problem.

Of course Sarah Palin would use poetic licence to justify it as she does with her death panels argument. But if we are to argue in poetic metaphors, no discussion can take place since all one side has to do when proved wrong is say she was speaking metaphorically not literally.

No arguments with any meaning can take place when language is used poetically. That is how I know she is an idiot.

When abstractions are treated as though they are concrete it is a reification fallacy. EROEI/Net energy are examples of reification fallacies.

You can b.s.-ify all you want, x. Corn-based ethanol is still the waste of good land, water, energy and intellectual resources.

Boy, you're on a roll today, X.

You keep on with this claim that unlike things cannot be justly compared, and then you try to draw a relationship between the (well-defined) abstraction of Energy and the (poorly defined) abstraction of Terrorism? Do you see the problem here?

One of the very concrete facts about terrorism is of course that while it's driven by imagination , innuendo and the immensity of the dark unknown, that people will act very chaotically and physically in response to fear.. so even if the 'ism' is a fantasy, the bombs thrown by both sides are very real reactions to these abstractions.

A drag race between a diesel and an ethanol formula car might be distinguished by a somewhat theoretical string of definitions about their energy sources and associated costs (because Money is at least a 'Symbol', if not an outright abstraction itself).. but they still function well enough to roll along the same roadway.. and someone will likely win.

Life on earth depends on converting one form of energy to another.

Each form of energy is unique and comparing, adding, subtracting etc. different forms of energy tells us nothing about dealing with the Peak Oil problem.

According to your "theory" - efficiency of PV or ICE doesn't mean squat.

All so that you can support the fat subsidy that corn ethonol gets ?

Having been on this site for years, I realize the futility in pointing out the absurdity of your argument. So I won't.
Have an insane New Year.

Link up top: Plentiful Petroleum

Along the way methane gets oxidized into longer chain molecule as byproducts of methanogen metabolism.

Now I am not a chemist or a physicists but I can recognize BS when I see it. Longer hydrocarbon strings cannot possibly be the result of oxidation. There are no oxygen atoms in hydrocarbon strings and they cannot be the product of oxidation.

And then there is the fact that when the earth was molten, any methane that was trapped would simply have bubbled out. And none is trapped in the upper crust because volcanic gassed do not contain methane.

That whole article is just so damn dumb it is pitiful.

Ron P.

Darwinian -

Agree. To paraphrase someone else, this article is so bad in so many ways that it isn't even wrong; it's beyond wrong.

Unfortunately, this fellow George Giles is quite popular and is taken seriously by many people. I first saw it on the Lew Rockwell site, a staunching libertarian website. For some reason, libertarians and ultra-conservatives seem to really eat this stuff up. I guess it's a reaffirmation of the belief that the unfettered market will solve everything so why worry.

I was toying with the idea of emailing him to point out all the errors and misconceptions, but then I figured: why bother, it would be about as productive as punching a giant marshmallow.

Giles claims to have undergraduate degrees in Chemistry and Math. How is it that he accepts the Abiotic Oil hypothesis? And, how could he miss the obvious fact that present production is much larger than that which might be available from abiotic sources deep within the Earth? The lunatics have taken over the asylum...

E. Swanson

That whole article is just so damn dumb it is pitiful.

Yeah, but it's comedy gold. Funniest thing I've read on any related topic in recent memory.

You guys forgot this gem too:

Temperature data over the last 150 is a worthless statistic when you consider that this planet has been around for 4.5 billion years, and that life emerged only in the last 600 million years. For millions of years the Earth was covered by a massive ice sheet that prevented sunlight from striking the ground.

Life for only 600 million years? Damn, the Gunflint Chert fossils in our collection are going to be bummed to find out they were never alive.

Hi Ron,

Since it's still eve of New Year where I am, I wanted to take a minute to say how much I appreciate your sharing your understanding. Having things explained by someone I trust is one reason I'm here (as much as possible.) I'm grateful to others here as well.

And then there are the smiles, eg., "so damn dumb"...

Japan's percentage change YOY for oil consumption and GDP:


Often we hear talk of the US or other nations entering a "Lost Decade," if not Decades, ala Japan in the 90s. The parallel would be far from exact but this graph shows that the more robust growth in the 00s showed far greater drops in consumption, the inverse of the usual greater oil consumption = GDP growth formula. Japan is getting more GDP for their imports; the first conclusion that comes to mind is that they were only able to move away from oil consumption when greater growth allowed them to do so, having greater discretionary funds to spend on expanding MT for instance, or moving away from oil-intensive industrial activity.

Will the US go into a prolonged economic slump and yet maintain 18-20 mb/d, before having the means to move away from a hydrocarbon-intensive infrastructure? Or are the experiences of other nations more instructive here?

The correlation between oil consumption and GDP holds on a worldwide basis, but doesn't hold up as well on an individual country basis--perhaps because of the role of imports/export. Also, finance plays a big part in the reported GDP of developed nations. Adding debt tends to increase reported GDP, even though there are liabilities are that aren't reflected in reported GDP. A third issue is use of oil products for private transportation. I haven't looked into the situation, but I suspect that in Japan, personal auto use increased in the 1990s, even though GDP was not increasing very rapidly.

As I understand it, Japan's real GDP increased by about 10% per year in the 1960s, 5% per year in the 1970s, 4% per year in the 1980s, and 1.5% per year in the 1990s. Recently, especially in the last year or two, the economy has been contracting.

If we look at Energy Export Data Browser, we find

The patterns in the 1960s and 1970s are as we would expect: rapid increases in oil consumption (and total energy consumption).

The 1980s are sort of a mystery. That was the time of high oil prices. Around the world, many users switched away from burning oil for electricity production and for home heating. Instead of using oil, there was a big ramp up in nuclear and coal. There was also more interest in efficiency--smaller cars and better insulation. There was no doubt some real efficiency improvement, but there was likely also a shift toward more imports of finished products, and less manufacturing by Japan. (Back in the 1970s, it seemed like everything we bought said "Made in Japan", similar to the way we now see things that are "Made in China". This changed over a fairly short time period, and much of the heavy industry left Japan for other, cheaper places.)

In the 1980s, there was more growth in oil and nuclear use than one might expect based on GDP growth. My hypothesis would be that the Japanese started buying more cars, instead of just using public transportation. Attempts to stimulate the economy using more debt may have had an impact as well.

In the 2000s, the flat to declining consumption is what one might expect from real GDP growth.

I would be interested in hearing interpretations of the situation by people who live in Japan, or by those who have studied the situation more than I have.

Gail -- "The 1980s are sort of a mystery. That was the time of high oil prices." I assume you're talking about the early 80's? By '86 the KSA open the valves wide and flooded the market = $10/bbl or less. But the price boom that started in the late 70's did knock the global economy to its knees for much of the 80's. The time lag between cause and effect I suppose can be a little tricky to account for.

High prices, however brief, warranted that large switchover to NG/nuclear/coal from resid for power generation.

Japan tops the world in modal share for rail at 27%, compare .3% for the US. Not sure how that's evolve in the last half century, can't find numbers. The 1998 recession was their only protracted one, with attendant drop in consumption. As of 2005 they are dependent 49% on oil, so even all that rail hasn't brought total energy independence. Your graph of the various sectors shows increased consumption allover through the Lost Decade, so nix on Peak Demand, barring a real upsetting of the apple cart.

Whither the US?

I came across this document (Long-Term Oil Supply Outlook: Constraints
on Increasing Production
) by Sadad Ibrahim Al Husseini in 2007. I'm sure his name is familiar to many if not all of you. I was particularly taken by this chart which shows a long, slow decline in world oil production. This seems very much at odds with the forecast of others such as ace. I'm wondering if Mr. Husseini is being optimistic or are others overly pessimistic?

Husseini's outlook, while not out-and-out catastrophic, is actually pretty grim. Total Liquids at 75 million bpd in 2030 means the music has stopped, right now, and in the mad scramble for seats over the next 20 years many will lose out. The US disproportionately so since its usage is disproportionately high.

Husseini appears a bit more optimistic about supply growth out of the Middle East and FSU than Ace, but declines everywhere else more than offset these production gains. If you think the Saudis are bluffing and have little oil left, you end up in Ace's camp.

The US disproportionately so since its usage is disproportionately high.

Steve, I read this many times, but how disprop. is it really ? Holland f.i., with 16 million inhabitants, uses 1 mbd.

Husseini's outlook is about the same as Aleklett's from ASPO. It is indeed not a catastrophic scenario taken into account that in the transportation sector there is a lot of space for fuel efficiency.


You make a good point. By disproportionate I simply mean that the US share of the oil market at around 22% of daily consumption is higher than the global average per capita. A country such as Holland has a similar per capita oil usage, and a relative dearth of energy options. The US still has diverse options, giving it a chance to blunt oil scarcity.

IMO, a rough consensus on oil scarcity is emerging and the markets will turn their attention to a more significant issue. We tend to discuss total production/consumption as if the bbls were equal but we know this is an abstraction and that not all bbls are equal. We are depleting the highest-quality crude faster than total crude, and the syrup we are left with is increasingly harder to refine. This will translate into price support for the 'light' crude benchmarks and increasing spreads between light and heavy crudes. It will be interesting to see if this plays out as the heavy crude contracts (ASCI) get more trading activity this year.

Han, interesting figure of 16 million/ 1 million. Do the Dutch actually use per capita as much as the yanks or is the word "uses" a mistake (with the words processes or handles a better fit). In other words how much of that million barrels is used by others filling ships bunkers or by exported petroleum based product.

Neal, I think it is their net use. In 2005 the percentages for Holland were: about 23% of oil used in industry, 25% for road traffic, more than 40% for shipping and aviation and 8% for electricity generation.


The US will lose out, and so will everyone else, but the US moreso because we will not have funds to bid on the remaining oil. Those counties that have increased their manufacturing base, which is the real source of wealth, will be able to continue to acquire greater share... and share is the operative word here. Even those wise nations that now create most of the world's wealth will be unable to have sufficient quantity.

One other thing lost in the shuffle: the figures al Husseini uses are the best case scenariao.

I plan on moving to a small 'farmette', with sufficient acreage to feed my family. Hope my money is still good when I get ready

Have a nice decade ahead.

Hi Zaph

I think we are in agreement. Al Husseini's estimates don't provide much comfort to cornucopians.

Thanks for the well wishes! If your farmette is successful in corraling primary energy, maybe you won't need much money...

I think too, that estimates (such as the one by Aleklett, and perhaps this one by Al Husseini) represent one estimate with a range of estimates. I don't think Aleklett wants to be viewed as an alarmist, so I would expect he would pick an estimate that gives the general shape of the curve, but isn't necessarily as bad as it might be.

I think the others are overly pessimistic in their outlook for future production. Many of the gloomy forecasts I've seen do not factor in the likely human responses to the calamity as it unfolds. It makes sense to me that future oil production will follow the "best case scenario." If the populations are desperate, and the oil is out there, and it can be produced, then, politics aside, why wouldn't production be full-throttled?

Having said that, Al Husseini's forecast for the FSU looks a bit dodgy - he thinks it will be steady at about 12 MB/d till 2030. He also expects Iraq's production to stay below 3 MB/d, whereas it will likely reach about 5-6 MB/d and stay there for a while.

We should also bear in mind that all future prognostications are made with the underlying assumption that current technologies will be deployed and scaled up. The populations of the world haven't yet woken up to peak oil, and intellectual resources have thus far been scarcely allocated to improving such things as EOR, RF and EROEI.

It seems unlikely that production will plummet precipitously in the long term future, when virtually everyone will be working on the oil problem and many improvements and advances will be made.

Hello, Shox,

re: "If the populations are desperate, and the oil is out there, and it can be produced, then, politics aside, why wouldn't production be full-throttled?"

Politics aside:

1) Desperate populations might not take kindly to either exploitation, shortages or anything in between. http://www.theoildrum.com/node/4196, "This assumption--that far offshore facilities are beyond the reach of militants--must now be reconsidered."

2) The price is not right.

3) Saying "and it can be produced" is something of a circular argument, when the desperate populations coincide with financial meltdown, "greying" workforce, "greying" equipment, lack of credit, lack and interruption in delivery systems, etc. These factors - and many others - may serve to make formerly "can be produced" oil into "not producible."

Not much slack, in other words.

4) Now, this is a separate argument from a slightly different version of your rhetorical question, namely, "Why wouldn't *adaptation*, *risk management* and *some efforts at mitigation* be full throttle?"

The "full throttle" response in the realm of re-organization, re-localization, etc., even if belated, may help ease suffering.

That's what we're working on by asking for an immediate scientific investigation by the National Academy of Sciences into global oil supplies, including impacts (of decline) and policy options. Please see www.oildepletion.wordpress.com

The Great Leap

An interesting article on China just appeared in The Nation.

But is another thirty years like the past thirty even possible? The third act of New China begins as a world financial crisis reveals the deep flaws of global neoliberal capitalism and as a diminishing fossil fuel supply and rising global temperatures escalate the competition for resources. Meanwhile, China is in the midst of the largest project of industrialization and urbanization in human history, one that requires massive amounts of capital and fossil fuel. It's like watching a jeep race up a mountain road as an avalanche begins to cascade downward from above.

EDIT: Sorry that's a bit older than I thought -- dated before xmas, but I don't recall seeing it here. Apologies if this has already appeared here.

Thanks, George. I like reading think-pieces on China ... I'm starting to read Hayek's The Road to Serfdom which was specifically written as a polemic against the type of central planning China is now executing -- with apparent success.

Of course Hayek may have been absolutely correct, in 1942. The world knows quite a bit more about modelling systems now, and it has much better tools.

I agree with the author of The Nation's article when he says that we're heading for a sort of worldwide corporatist oligarchy, which, I think, will eventually degenerate into late-medieval fuedalism ... if we're lucky.

Another example of "less is more"?

Killer superbug solution discovered in Norway

OSLO, Norway - Aker University Hospital is a dingy place to heal. The floors are streaked and scratched. A light layer of dust coats the blood pressure monitors. A faint stench of urine and bleach wafts from a pile of soiled bedsheets dropped in a corner.

Look closer, however, at a microscopic level, and this place is pristine. There is no sign of a dangerous and contagious staph infection that killed tens of thousands of patients in the most sophisticated hospitals of Europe, North America and Asia this year, soaring virtually unchecked.

The reason: Norwegians stopped taking so many drugs.

I have been trying to convince the American doctors in my family of this for a long time.
Ironically the Brazilian doctors in my family have already been practicing this for just as long, with excellent results

This is just another consequence of the advertising, pharmaceutical and health care industries being in bed with each other in the US.

I love this:

"We don't throw antibiotics at every person with a fever. We tell them to hang on, wait and see, and we give them a Tylenol to feel better," says Haug.

Convenience stores in downtown Oslo are stocked with an amazing and colorful array — 42 different brands at one downtown 7-Eleven — of soothing, but non-medicated, lozenges, sprays and tablets. All workers are paid on days they, or their children, stay home sick. And drug makers aren't allowed to advertise, reducing patient demands for prescription drugs.

In fact, most marketing here sends the opposite message: "Penicillin is not a cough medicine," says the tissue packet on the desk of Norway's MRSA control director, Dr. Petter Elstrom.

My ex wife actually divorced me in part because I refused to treat our son's minor ills with drugs and antibiotics. He survived. Ironically her father was a Brazilian government scientist studying naturally occurring herbicides, she on the other hand became an astrologer...C'est la vie!

One of the many reasons to minimize the use of antibiotics is the C-diff bug:


Years ago, my daughter, then in Middle School, demonstrated how fast bacteria become resistant to antibiotics. She took a (presumably benign) mail order strain of E. Coli and let it grow in a petri dish for 48 hours, then applied an antibiotic solution. After 24 hours she took a sample of the survivors and transferred them to another petri dish, let them grow for 48 hours, then the antibiotic wash, and so on. After about two weeks, the antibiotic solution just served to distribute the bacteria around the petri dish and there was a population explosion. (Her next project after that was to measure the gravitational effect of the moon using a gravimeter that I borrowed from a geophysical contractor).

Of course, for those of creationist bent, evolution cannot/does not happen.

So I think creationists should continue to use the ineffective antibiotics which bacteria have evolved to ignore (since by their theories such evolution is impossible).
That would be another kind of evolution, as the believers' genes died out. Not that I really expect such consistency from the superstitious.

Would that be called 'Artificial DeSelection' ?

We are not men. We are Devo.

My brother had a similar high school science project except he exposed the bacteria to UV light and created a UV resistant strain. He won a prize at the local science fair from the US Army unit located at Dugway Proving Grounds outside Salt Lake City. Dugway is where the US Army conducts is nerve agent and biological agent research. True story.

No worries mate, we got healthcare reform in the pipe.

re: killer superbug

Structured Treatment Interruption for HIV has some overlap. Sometimes patient response to the meds declines after a lengthy course because the HIV becomes drug resistant. They take them off for a while and the wild type HIV outcompetes the drug resistant HIV and they respond to the meds again when they go back on.

From "Oil at $80..."

A more macroeconomic view might point to the theory that the world reached its “peak oil” production this year and that demand will out strip supply from now until the end of time.

As we all know, however, the formula is: Use as much oil as you wish until price rises to where demand is supressed to below supply, when the price drops, declare a recovery and increase oil use until price rises and supresses demand.

Repeat with the expectation of a different result until diagnosed as insane!

Fantastic Idea with one suggested improvement:


The Huffington Report is recommending that all Americans move their money away from the big national banks, and to local and community banks. This is relocalization on a financial scale where it really matters. I would suggest one improvement: Move your accounts to a credit union if you can join one (and 95 percent of America's population can). The only thing that kept the Huffington Report from mentioning Credit Unions is the publication had some problems understanding national IRA ratings for them, and because not everyone can join them (although almost everyone has).

But a wonderful and strong financial pairing would be a community or local bank and a local credit union! Two accounts and you would have leverage, low fees and costs and be distanced from the large national banks which obviously can no longer be trusted as reliable co-parties in any transaction.


Huffington mentions as some to avoid at all costs, those banks that have taken federal money, refused all attempts to be held in some control and are growing larger dispite their disrespect toward their customer:

JP Morgan/Chase,
Wells Fargo,
Bank of America

Is the public finally ready to display real Democracy with thier money? Only time will tell.


Theme for 2010...The Grassroots Awakening? There have been many local seeds sown in 2009, but will they sprout through the layer of artifical "green shoots" layed down by the Wizards of Wall Street?

I wish everyone strength and clarity in 2010 and beyond. Keep your friends and allies close.

...and your enemies even closer...;-)

Huffington Post and Denninger on the same side?

The end of the world truly is nigh...

Denninger says "The point is not to take credit.

It is to make a meaningful difference."

I differ slightly...the point is to make a meaningful difference but DO TAKE CREDIT...we will give credit to anyone on the right side of this issue, and we should let our friends and family know, put it on t-shirts, whatever it takes to get the word about taking not only the RIGHT path, but the path that will benefit you, your community and your country. So seldom can someone do something that is both RIGHT and PROFITABLE. This has to be big enough to make a REAL difference, not like those silly "don't buy oil for a day" boycott's, but a real ongoing restructuring and diversification of the American financial system. If the government will not diversify away from the too big too fail model, the public can vote with their checkbook and do it for them, or should we say, for us.


I'll second that recommendation on credit unions. Last year I opened an account at a CU down the street (too much in my other bank). Was shocked to see how much better the deal was. Many perks but the best was that my CU paid alost 3 times the interest on the checking account as my bank. Also insured under a different program then banks...much better funded.

I don't think any of these banks need real money to play around with funny money.

Already a step ahead, did this several years ago. So what's the next step after that?

De-funding the State.

I'm with you on de-funding the banks, RC. I started with Wells Fargo and Citi - closed accounts/sold WFC stock. Next will be my two Chase credit cards - one is at zero already (yeah!). That leaves me at USAA which I intend to keep unless they go stupid, too.

I encourage my family and friends to do likewise even though I would potentially lose out on a pension from Wells Fargo should our individual actions prove fruitful.

No pain, no gain.

Edgy,you said,
"I would potentially lose out on a pension from Wells Fargo should our individual actions prove fruitful."

Everyone must examine their own situation, and I don't think anyone should be asked to lose money in the effort to defund the above mentioned national banks. The theory of the action is to benefit the average customer/depositor, and I think most folks will find with a bit of shopping that defunding the large national banks will be much to their individual benefit. The underlying premise of this action is that the large national banks can no longer be considered trustworthy co-parties in any transaction.

If you don't mind, may I ask if you were a former employee of Wells Fargo? I am involved in various ways with the financial community (mainly through market research) and would be very interested to hear about any pensions a person would get for being a depositor or shareholder. Any information would be helpful if you do not mind discussing this, thank you, and again, no one should be expected to give up money that is rightfully coming to them, so each person should do what is good for themselves in the long run.


I worked for Norwest Technical Services, a bank operations unit of Norwest Bank, for 12.5 years. Several years ago Norwest bought Wells Fargo, kept the name and moved their headquarters to San Francisco (from Minneapolis.) I started with them in the fall of 1980. Don't know if they still have a company sponsored pension fund... doubt it.

At the time, one had to have 10 years of service to be eligible for the pension. I think I'm eligible at 55. Not sure if I can take a lump sum... I'll have to dig out those papers.

Everyone must examine their own situation, and I don't think anyone should be asked to lose money in the effort to defund the above mentioned national banks.

I agree. And if I can still get it AND they can be defunded, all the better. If not, I'll volunteer... no asking needed. I'm that fed up.

In the mid-eighties, if memory serves, the bank (then known as Northwestern National Bank - remember Thanksgiving Day in 1982(?) when it burned?) paid a consulting firm $400,000 - $500,000 to come up with a new name... Norwest. Several of us just shook our heads. Over the years there were many, many other examples of huge sums of money wasted. I was new to corporate America and was shocked at the amounts of money spent that produced nothing.

My entire 12.5 years with them was spent in one building. I can't tell you how many times we were moved within that building and the associated cost. Unreal.

Watched this last night on netflix watch instantly
In some of my more optimistic musings I see PO saving humanity, alas reality

Forecast 2010
By James Howard Kunstler

"Just about everything which evaded fate via gamed numbers, budgets, and balance sheets in 2009 seems destined to hit a wall in 2010."


Kunstler, for all his entertaining lexical acrobatics, is not known to have a particularly good track record.

Ahem... he indicated we'd be in for a long period of economic decline in "The Long Emergency". So far... he's on track.

I suspect he'd have been close to his market forecast too... but who realized the extent we'd go to protect Wall Street?

Will, That is a great point. I would never have believed , even two years ago, that the US government would be so beholden to big banks and wall street suck faces that they would totally and permanently screw over the taxpaying american public. Lets keep trying to prosecute Navy Seals who roughed up a particularly bad Al quida guy but leave the scheming bloodsucking bankers alone rather than putting them in jail where they belong. Maybe the best idea is to put the seals in jail and then put the bankers in with them.

NASA Ames Center looks at problem of drilling on Mars
by Kristen Nelson, PNA Editor-in-Chief

If there is life on Mars, it would probably be microorganisms in water deep below the surface of the planet. Dr. Geoffrey Briggs, director, Center for Mars Exploration at the NASA Ames Center is looking at ways to drill on Mars. Briggs said NASA has been working with Halliburton, Shell, Baker-Hughes and the Los Alamos National Laboratory to identify drilling technologies that might work on Mars.

It makes now sense said journalist Charles Alexander Moffat that " ... George W. Bush has announced ambitious new plans for the United States to invade, oops, sorry, I mean "explore" Mars."

That is good news and I am somewhat relieved since peak oil with all the awful impact on society is now a non-issue.

Cool! Once Halliburton is on the scene, maybe we can get (all of) Blackwater to go over there to handle security.

According to zFacts.com, the US will start the new year with a Federal Debt of close to $12.3 trillion. We will be adding about $120 billion every month in 2010. Today an official at Treasury stated Freddie and Fanny losses at $400 billion. This number will also rise at a multi billion rate every month in 2010. This amount must be added to the Federal Debt. There are other TARP and associated bailout losses that also must be added to the Federal debt. If we discount the mickey mouse accounting by people who should know better in Washington, the US is near 100% federal debt to GDP now which now about $14 trillion.

Three and a half to four years ago before everyone had a blog, I was surfing way too late at night about the debt issue.

Someone – and I don’t know who it was – coined the term the new Mercantilism. In effect they described digital money and “real” money (ie, physical cash, goods, raw material) as converted “phony digital” to real hard goods, and said the economic game for those in the know was to get rid of the soon to be non convertible digital money holdings into tangible goods of any type – not just precious metals

I wish I knew who that person was – a few web searches yielded nothing along the lines. But I swear it was on the web.

I don't think this is the article you're refering to, nor that I coined the term, but here's a blog post from a bit over four years ago on the New Mercantilism with regard to energy:


The article was along those lines - and now as I recall it was easily 4 years ago, maybe even 5.


I dont have any solid metrics but I think the world debt load cannot be converted into real objects of worth if they are called in.

We are watching what I call the war of the gods. Arguments about a type of capital that has no ability to be converted into real world metrics at the present amounts we are used to.

Anyone have popcorn?

Colorado's Minimum Wage Becomes 1st in US to Drop

Colorado's minimum wage will drop slightly in the new year — the first decrease in any state's minimum wage since the federal minimum was adopted in 1938.

There was an article posted on TOD earlier which I can't find now, but the gist of it was the Author of the article believes in Abiotic oil and rejects Hubbert's peak oil assertions. He had a link for responses on his website, so here's what I wrote - and below is his email response. Have a good laugh on this last day of the year - Happy New Year!

There is no such thing as abiotic oil. Oil is the result of plant life decomposing and being compressed and heated up by millions of tons of layers of sediment over millions of years. None of the other planets produce oil, because no plant life ever existed there. You get oil at certain depths, natural gas from another depth and coal at a shallower depth. Those are hard facts from the Science of Geology. The energy in oil originally came from the Sun. It represents stored energy.

No one conversant in peak oil that knew a lick of what they were talking about ever said we were running out of oil, including Hubbert. Peak oil means we reach a point of maximum production, which cannot be exceeded due to the enormous amount of oil consumed daily, a reduction in the size of new oil fields, and depletion of existing oil fields. Oil discoveries in the U.S. peaked in 1930 and production peaked 40 years later in 1970, just as King Hubbert predicted in his famous presentation in 1956. World oil discoveries peaked in 1964, production peaked 40 years later in mid 2004, and production has been on a rocky plateau ever since, which also happens to coincide with the point in time of peak demand in the U.S.

Whenever the price of oil, adjusting for inflation, has been at 6% of GDP or higher, the U.S. has suffered a recession. At the current 80 dollars a barrel, we are at exactly 6% of GDP for oil, and we are in a long recession. For that recession to end, the price of oil must come down. However, the average depletion of existing oil fields is at 6.7%, and with China and India's economies expanding, the demand for oil will require by 2030, six more Saudia Arabia's. Only if Iraq can muster 10 million barrels a day can we get one more Saudia Arabia. As the price of oil continues to rise, the U.S. economy will continue to suffer in a continued long recession.

Those are the cold, hard geologic and economic facts about our situation.

His response:

Biotic oil is based on just a single fact the chirality of the raw material but to then conjecture that it comes from all these other places if just ludicrous. Lots of things change chirality other than temperature and pressure like methanogens or reactions in clay. The Russians have never held to the biotic theory and they have the largest reserves in the world.

The Hubbert curve is ludicrous as many systems have a sigmoidal shape and then decay shape (fat tail). There are those that want to use the hubbert theory for policy making and that is wrong becuase he can neither be proven right as I cannot be proven wrong, the data is too mushy. I just say do nothing, let the market sort it out.

To say that the climax forest gets plowed under and then in a few millions year oil forms is the same as conjecturing on how many fairies dance on the head of a pin. Neither can be measured.

Check back this time next year when proven reserves will still be going up, so I respectfully disagree.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

It's like trying to convince a 2 year old to let go of the keys! At best laughable.

I did a search for definitions for two words he used, chirality & methanogens, but neither one had any meaning. Very strange.

Interesting Earl. Reminds me of a silly little game we played with freshman when I taught physical geology lab: would make up fake rock names. And included actual specimens: roadite (asphalt with gravel in it) and conretite (concrete with gravel in it). What can I say...teaching lab could get boring.

On the serious side: It seems they never challenge the abioitc crowd as to where we'll find this hidden treasure. The Russian started a well about 20 years ago to drill ultra deep in eastern Siberia. Last I heard they were at 35,000' and making something like 100' per year (drilling in granite). And an even more important question: who's going to explore for this hidden treasure? Except for a few Russians and Swiss no one I know in the oil patch is looking for abiotic oil. Guess GG better poney up some bucks and get the show on the road.

The Russian started a well about 20 years ago to drill ultra deep in eastern Siberia. Last I heard they were at 35,000' and making something like 100' per year (drilling in granite).

Is that the source of the Well to Hell hoax?

I think so barrett. I had not heard about the hell part but when I read "Kola" that kicked in a few half-dead brain cells. I can imagine they did hear the screams of the damned. At least the damned electronics they might have run down such a hot hole. The tale had to be real fodder for the fundamentalists. Could have made some pocket change selling bootleg copies to those churchs.

Peak, What a great idea!! If you want to pass off a bunch of BS just make up a few words that almost sound like they have meaning, so the relatively informed will assume they just haven't learned enough yet. A blastefarian exercise if I ever saw one.

Don't know if you are familiar with the story but a few years ago a physicist named Alan Sokal really rankled the academic world by cobbling together some made up BS about quantum mechanics and social theory and sending it to a post-modernist journal called Social Text, and they published his drivel. Soon afterwards he revealed the hoax and had the word jugglers all in a tizzy. He later wrote a great book with a mathematician exposing the vast amounts of inanity in a whole huge wing of academic social "theory." The book is called "Fashionable Nonsense," and its a fascinating read... Sadly, however, the tactic of making up some BS jargon to support one's radical earth shattering fantasy du jour (cultural relativism, cornucopianism, free-market fundamentalism, abiotic oil or whatever) seems always to find willing listeners.

If I were king of the world I'd require courses in logic and probability theory in order to graduate high school.

Is "blastefarian" your coinage? Not sure exactly what it means but it has a great ring to it!

I would have to say I did in fact fabricate the word but my inspiration comes from an individual i worked with who was the epitomy of the Peter principle and had some great sayings. Like " no matter where you go, there you are." and " You can lead a horse to water, but cows drink too."

We got to where we called any similar inanity of this sort "Carlsonisms"

"...neither one had any meaning"

WTF? Maybe you intend to be having us on, but for some bizarre reason those responding seem to be taking this manifestly silly assertion seriously(!) Could the New Year's Eve beverages be taking effect altogether too early in the day?

Chirality - a chiral molecule is a type of molecule that lacks an internal plane of symmetry and has a non-superimposable mirror image.

Methanogen - methanogens are microorganisms that produce methane as a metabolic byproduct in anoxic conditions.

The latter definition seems a bit ironic in the context of the article.

methanogens are microorganisms that produce methane as a metabolic byproduct in anoxic conditions.

More specifically they are all, if I'm not mistaken, archaea.

I think that's right.

Thanks PaulS, I'm so glad those two words do actually mean something. I knew the guy was out there, but it's nice to know he has some boundries.

Yes, I was having some end of the year fun. Ok, back to the seriousness of the overall topic - back on track...in 2010!

Just a footnote.
What the funny abiotic oil guy seems to have latched on to is the business of distinguishing abiotic and biotic origins of 'organic' molecules containing carbon. The chirality (in vernacular, left-hand, right-handedness) of biotic carbon shows a large preponderances in one or other 'handedness'; e.g. respectively amino acids and sugar residues in nucleic acid. The a-b oddball tries to counter, without being asked, the normal argument in favor of biotic origins of our earthly hydrocarbons; i.e. that there are 'biomarker' molecules exhibiting biotic handedness found in petroleum.
(As pointed out already 'methanogen' microorganisms partially catabolize biotic carbon for energy and in the process, excrete methane.)

This might be helpful.
I am surprised he did not throw in 'racemization', for good measure!

The funny 'Russian abiotics' make a better shot at explaining their position, but it could take up too much of 2010 to explore in detail. ;)
Have a good and relevant New Year

Peak Earl,

I think you meant this guy: Plentiful Petroleum by George Giles

One of his positions was:

I have written about peak oil before in LRC. The most recent piece can be found here. The basic thesis is quite simple: we are not running out of oil. Hubbert is as wrong as wrong can be. The facts backing up this assertion are simple: every year in the past 60 years has had more petroleum reserves at the end of the year than at the beginning. ...

The gas giant planets of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are largely composed of hydrogen and methane which indicates that crude petroleum feedstock is abundant in our solar system. Thus there is some reason to think that some of this lies in the interior of our planet which slowly but surely percolates through the rock to the upper layers of the crust. Along the way methane gets oxidized into longer chain molecule as byproducts of methanogen metabolism.

One last round of dead horse flogging.

Your short quote shows that this guy uses many of the classic tricks of sophists:

1. mention that the facts support what I am saying and contradict what my critics are saying, without bothering to cite any of those facts. Relevant quote: "every year in the past 60 years has had more petroleum reserves at the end of the year than at the beginning." How tough is it to put together a table of the data?

2. use irrelevant analogies. The fact that the big gas planets have so much methane on them, which shows that "crude petroleum feedstock is abundant in our solar system" is kind of useless to us on earth.

3. sling technical sounding terms with no other apparent purpose than sounding scientific. Does it really make sense to expect to burn (oh, I mean oxidize, or metabolize) methane and get an energy source as a result? This is an old trick -- take ordinary language and make it sound vastly more impressive by substituting terms of Latin or Greek origin, or just plain old-style language. Religion relies on this trick -- "thou shalt not" sounds so much more impressive than "don't."

4. abuse logical terms to draw conclusions that are simply not supported. "Thus there is some reason to think" follows irrelevant info on other planets. That is a pure non-sequitor, saying "thus" doesn't make your lack of evidence into an even remotely plausible argument.

5. taking down the bigman of the poor benighted critics' clan with a rhetorical flourish. "Hubbert was as wrong as wrong can be." This is pure name calling along the lines of "you mother wears combat boots."

What upsets me most about this kind of thing is not that it is so obviously foolish and meaningless, but that so many rubes take it so seriously.


Lots of things change chirality other than temperature and pressure like methanogens or reactions in clay.

Peak Earl,

If we look back at the Decade that Was: 2000-2009;

one of the things that stands out is that it was a rancorous time filled with many buzz-saw logic sounds and words:

1. Free Markets
2. Enron, WorldCom, Bernie Madoff
3. Technology
4. 9/11
5. HomeLand Security
6. Change / Climate Change
7. Globalization, Global warming, Global Village
8. ________________

See more here and here and here

One thing for sure is that we all love to make noises. Nothing thrills us more than the sound of our own voice empowered by paradigm shifting sensationalisms.

So this Giles fellow has latched on to "chirality change" and "methanogenics".

How cool is that?

It certainly throws the listener back into the FUD vortex. Those words sound cool enough to possibly be real. How come I don't know them? Is this guy smarter than me? Oh oh. I better shut up and look up these new homileticals in my Funk and Wagner.

Biotic oil is based on just a single fact the chirality of the raw material but to then conjecture that it comes from all these other places if just ludicrous. Lots of things change chirality other than temperature and pressure like methanogens or reactions in clay.

Chirality: (physics) The geometric property of a rigid object (or spatial arrangement of points or atoms) of being nonsuperposable on its mirror image. (chemistry) The handedness of an asymmetric molecule.

Methanogen: Any of various archaea that are capable of producing methane from the decomposition of organic material.

The majority of molecules in crude oil are not chiral, and methanogens require organic matter to produce methane - which is not actually crude oil. He has no idea what he is talking about, he is just tossing out unfamiliar words to confuse people.

Peak Oil may shut down Alaska pipeline:


Thanks, X. It is a very informative piece.

I was especially interested in flow rates quoted. 2.1 MBPD at peak, 700,000 today, 350,000 in "10 to 20 years."

Of course, this is probably not abiotic oil. If it was, the flows would be increasing like... hm... let me see, like... ??????

Help me out here! Where do the flows steadily increase i.a.w. demand??? Where is that? I forget.

Here's a New Year's thought I'd like to share (and hope passes muster with Leanan).

It's off-topic and yet very much at the center of the topic of "possible successful human species adjustment to overshoot" (I'm sure Totoneilia/Bob Shaw could say it better! Bob, where are you?)

I happened to catch an interesting interview with Ray Kron, exonerated death row inmate.

"Since the mid-1970s, 139 people have been exonerated and released from death row, innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted."

One of the most fascinating things about what he said was: prior to his experience of wrongful conviction, he himself had been in favor of the death penalty.

It reminds me of something at the heart of empathy or "imagining oneself in the other's place." Or, the many versions of the "Golden Rule."

All-too-often the place occupied and lived by "the other" is simply incomprehensible.

Can't be imagined.

Having lived it, one can become an eloquent spokesperson for the previously invisible human experience.

In other words, if humans were to exercise more imagination and empathy in this realm, then...the humane answers to both peak oil and "the elephants" might perhaps be both obvious and more workable. And the quality of life more enjoyable.

And Happy New Year to all.

I wish all a happz new zear, and hope to be able to do the same next time.