Drumbeat: January 4, 2010

Environmental Refugees Unable to Return Home

DHAKA, BANGLADESH — Mahe Noor left her village in southern Bangladesh after Cyclone Sidr flattened her family’s home and small market in 2007. Jobless and homeless, she and her husband, Nizam Hawladar, moved to this crowded megalopolis, hoping that they might soon return home.

Two years later, they are still here. Ms. Noor, 25, and Mr. Hawladar, 35, work long hours at low-paying jobs — she at a garment factory and he at a roadside tea stall. They are unable to save money after paying for food and rent on their dark shanty in Korail, one of the largest slums in Dhaka. And in their village, more people are leaving because of river erosion and dwindling job opportunities.

“We’re trapped,” Ms. Noor said.

Natural calamities have plagued humanity for generations. But with the prospect of worsening climate conditions over the next few decades, experts on migration say tens of millions more people in the developing world could be on the move because of disasters.

Rather than seeking a new life elsewhere in a mass international “climate migration,” as some analysts had once predicted, many of these migrants are now expected to move to nearby megacities in their own countries.

India's nuclear future

With India's energy needs growing rapidly, the country is planning a major expansion of its nuclear-power capacity.

To do so, it will need to greatly increase international collaboration, including negotiating contracts for the purchase of reactor technology and nuclear fuel. But critics say that such deals would weaken the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the international agreement that aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, which India has not signed.

LED Signals Seen as Potential Hazard

CHICAGO — Last April, the driver of a pickup truck approaching an intersection in the far western suburb of Oswego went past a red light obscured by snow and struck a 34-year-old woman turning left in her car.

The woman died and four other people were injured in the accident, which was among the first to raise concerns here and around the Midwest about a relatively new driving hazard related to inclement weather: traffic signals, like those in Oswego, that use light-emitting diodes, known as LEDs.

The new lighting is part of a fast-growing trend in environmentalism. LED bulbs use less energy, last longer and are more visible than their predecessors. They are also known to require less maintenance. But they do not emit nearly as much heat as conventional bulbs, allowing snow and ice to accumulate more easily in certain conditions.

Path From Climate Summit Unclear for Many

When presidents and prime ministers departed the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen last month, they left behind a vast legal tangle that experts have barely begun to unravel.

A half-dozen edicts that world leaders handed down -- dealing with everything from verifying carbon emission cuts to mobilizing billions of dollars for poor nations -- require formal enactment rulings from the parties to the U.N. climate conference. But by the time the global summit came to a close on Dec. 18, nations had made none of the necessary follow-up rulings.

Nitrogen Deficit to Worsen Warming

Usually when we worry about global warming, carbon is all we think about. But it turns out we have a new element to worry about: nitrogen.

Specifically, the lack of it.

A Step Beyond Anthropology

MOST people see sustainability as pertaining to the physical environment, and the need to preserve it for coming generations. But in academe, sustainability can have as much to do with social science as science science.

Goucher College, the liberal arts college in Baltimore, is extending the concept: to preserving the traditional values, as well as the arts, dress, customs and cuisines, of communities threatened by globalization and modernization, whether inner-city neighborhoods or third-world villages. Goucher calls it cultural sustainability, and is offering a Master of Arts.

Kunstler: The Futility Economy

Reality is taking us out of that familiar, if sordid, realm, whether we like it or not. Our destination is an everyday economy where you rarely travel far from the place you live, where you have to make provision for you own health, your own old age, your own income, your own diet, your own security, and your own education. If you're really fortunate, some or all of these necessities can be obtained in conjunction with your neighbors in the place where you live -- but don't expect an increasingly mythical federal government to supply any of it. Expect a new and different way of organizing households based on extended families and kinship groups. Be prepared for agriculture to return to the foreground of everyday life, where farming is back at the center of the economy. Think about how you will cultivate your best role in a social network so the things you do will be truly valued by the other people who know you. Learn how to make your own music and write your own scripts. Try to study history. Resist cults. Keep your mind clear and your senses sharp.

Even if you have a dim sense that this is where we're headed, most of you probably want to stay where you are. The investments we've made in the current mode of existence are so monumental that we can't imagine letting go of them. This will be the theme of American life for the next couple of years as we struggle mightily to escape the confining armor of the Futility Economy and move closer to ways of life that have more of a future. Right now, all the power and authority in our culture has dedicated itself to remaining inside that old armor.

Power pact lauded

Jeff Rubin, chief economist and chief strategist at CIBC World Markets for two decades before stepping down last March, says the proposed deal to sell NB Power to Hydro-Québec will bring the province "up to par" with the rest of North America.

"New Brunswick is singularly disadvantaged relative to other places in North America until it can wean itself off oil," says Rubin, author of the book Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller, which says oil scarcity in the coming decade will spur the end of globalization.

In a sweeping interview from his home in Toronto last week, Rubin says oil prices will begin a long ascent in 2010.

Public spending to help Saudi economy grow by 4% this year

High public spending will ally with rising bank lending to boost Saudi Arabia's economy by nearly four per cent in 2010 after recording one of its lowest growth rates in 2009 over the past eight years, a local study said yesterday.

2010: Powerless to change

2010 is likely to be the year when Malta finally admits it has a serious energy crisis on its hands. Raphael Vassallo on why we will pay a high price for Enemalta’s strategic failures... and not just in utility bills, either.

Pakistan: Move to avert petroleum crisis

Islamabad—With a view to averting the expected petroleum products shortage crisis after January 15 in the wake of warning from refineries to close their operations because of liquidity crunch, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani is to convene the meeting of all stakeholder in energy sector during the current week to resolve the issue of Rs 60 billion refineries dues, senior official sources at Ministry of Finance told Pakistan Observer.

Qatar gas cheaper than Iran: Sardar Assef

Lahore — Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Sardar Assef Ahmad Ali has said that if Pakistan imports gas from Qatar, it will be cheaper than the gas which will come from Iran. “Iranians are sticking to terms and conditions of the agreement and they would never compromise on the price issue,” he said. He was speaking at a seminar on “Improvement on energy sector,” organised by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Pakistan (IEEEP) at a local hotel late Saturday.

OGDC blamed for oil, gas output decline

ISLAMABAD: The oil and gas production in the country has significantly declined over the past two years mainly because of the inability of the state-run Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) to meet its drilling targets, resulting in increased outflow of foreign exchange for imported fuels, informed sources told Dawn on Sunday.

Surprising resilience in Singapore's oil-storage market

Singapore's independent oil-storage market has not exactly shrugged off the effects of a sharp increase in capacity, at a time of troubled economies worldwide – but its resilience has surprised many.

Venezuela may close metal operations due to drought

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela may be forced to close aluminum, steel, bauxite and gold mine operations in the south-east of the nation due to a drought and electricity shortfall, a minister was quoted as saying on Monday.

On The Way To Copenhagen We Added A World Food Crisis

Does the following analysis sound familiar?

"A weakening U.S. dollar is putting upward pressure on oil prices. The shock produced chaos in the West. In the United States, the retail price of a gallon of gasoline rose 50%, consumption dropped by 6.1% from September to February. Underscoring the interdependence of the world societies and economies, oil-importing nations in the noncommunist industrial world saw sudden inflation and economic recession. The energy crisis led to greater interest in renewable energy and spurred research in solar power and wind power as well as increased interest in mass transit."

If you said it sounds like 2008, when it took $5.00/gallon gasoline to get Americans to agree to offshore drilling and give up their last Arctic Wilderness, you would be wrong.

It was 1973, when the Arab oil embargo and long gas lines got Americans to authorize the 800 mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline through some of the most pristine country in Alaska.

What would our economy and climate change look like today if we had not chosen to build, build, build the Alaska Pipe Line?

Ethanol giant shifts focus

"Corn ethanol has been the best thing that has happened to the farmers since the invention of the combine," said the 61-year-old Fagen, who grew up in the tiny community of Maynard near Granite Falls. "It gives them another market for their corn."

But the U.S. ethanol building boom is over.

"It all came to a screeching halt when our friends on Wall Street manipulated the commodity market," Fagen said, commenting on the volatility of corn and oil prices. Others would argue that it was ethanol's friends and enemies in Washington and state capitals who did the manipulating over subsidies and mandates. The Environmental Protection Agency last month, for example, postponed a decision on a proposal backed by the ethanol industry that would increase the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline from 10 to 15 percent.

Regardless, Fagen has been retooling his business model. The company will finish one more U.S. ethanol plant in Pennsylvania, but Fagen's attention already has turned to other forms of renewable energy -- biomass and wind. Going forward, Fagen said he thinks his business mix will be about 60 percent biomass projects, 25 percent wind energy and the remaining share coming from building other types of industrial facilities.

A Brave New, Profitable 2010 …

Question #2: Will the severe supply restrictions in many of the world’s natural resources suddenly disappear in 2010, creating an oversupply instead?

I don’t think so.

If anything, with less capital and credit available today, the supply constraints in many natural resources are bound to get worse, not better.

We still face the prospects of peak oil. Peak water. Peak gold. Peak seafood. Peak copper. Peak rare earth metals. And more.

Not just because Mother Earth has limited supplies of these commodities. But also because the financial crisis has forced many natural resource companies to put new exploration projects on hold. Mines, too, have been shuttered over the last two years.

And keep in mind, it’s a lot easier to shut down a mine or an oil well than it is to crank them up again.

Vanguard of a natural gas revolution

T. Boone Pickens was saying that the U.S. is the Saudi Arabia, except with natural gas. I'm not sure that he's right. The reserve recovery rates might be way, way lower than what the major companies had predicted they would be. The wells are falling off quicker than expected, things like that.

...I think peak oil is a very real concept. Exxon has put a note out that by 2030 there will be a 35-per-cent increase in energy requirements. That's massive. I'm not sure our industry can provide that. [Technology has] improved our ability to bring marginal reserves on. But remember, now they're drilling marginal reserves. Where do they go after this?

2010 — Grim Economic Predictions For What May Be the Tipping Point Year

The Federal Budget for 2010 anticipates a $1.5 trillion deficit. I believe the Obama administration will pull out all the stops to boost the economy before the 2010 elections. This means more spending. The 2010 deficit will be closer to $2 trillion. The bond market and foreign buyers will choke on this amount of debt. The result will be much higher interest rates. Ten year Treasuries will start the year at 3.8 percent. By year end, rates will exceed 5 percent. As the world loses confidence in the American economy and leadership, the dollar will fall to new all-time lows falling by another 15 percent. A falling dollar will result in a surge in gold and silver. Gold will break $1,500 an ounce, with silver breaking $20 an ounce. As world demand increases and peak oil becomes acknowledged, oil prices will exceed $100 a barrel further depressing the U.S. economy.

Food action plan gets money to study sustainability

North Thompson Sustainable Watershed Committee is getting a three-year contract with Interior Health to develop a food security action plan for the valley, according to committee member Ted Richardson.

“I really think sustainability planning is going to be of increasing importance, in light of peak oil, the economic downturn and climate change,” he said.

The action plan would be an extension of the work the committee is doing to develop an on-line atlas of the valley and should lead to specific projects to improve the valley’s food security.

Innovation breeds optimism

There will be high expectations and key milestones for clean technologies in 2010, which kicks off a decade that will witness large-scale transformation of the world's energy sector.

The decade ahead

Climate change will become more widely accepted as corporations realize that it can lead to consumption and profits when little else can. If we are unlucky, the green "movement" will become a boom. We will finally realize that peak oil has past, perhaps around 2006. Climate change will be very real. It will not be as apocalyptic as some have predicted, but major changes will be in the works. We should expect more major natural disasters, including a tragic toll on human life.

Renewable energy faces difficulties

"Here's the world's dirty little secret; oil is the perfect fuel in many ways," said Dr. Robert Kaufmann, director of Boston University's Center for Energy and Environmental Science. "Other than environmental externalities, it's a great fuel. It won World War II."

Kaufmann makes clear he does not enjoy sounding like an oil advocate. But as a scientist, he admits that no renewable technology can currently compete with fossil fuels.

"I don't like it, but I understand why it's so difficult to displace," Kaufmann said. "With oil, you have a liquid, so you can pour it to fill a tank. You have high energy density, so you can use it to fly. And you have a high rate of energy return on your investment."

Research Report Foresees No 'Armed Mad Dash for Resources' in the Arctic

ScienceDaily — With climate change making the Arctic gradually more accessible, some observers have suggested that interest in Arctic natural resources and disputed marine borders could take on a military aspect. A new study by researchers of the Fridtjof Nansens Institute (FNI) in Norway refutes this view, finding that dispassionate diplomacy is a more likely and rational way of dispute resolution than military confrontation.

Oil, money and greed

OIL AND geopolitics is a sexy subject, prime material for writers and historians with an eye on the underlying themes of the recent past. Daniel Yergin's The Prize set the standard almost 20 years ago and the author has updated his seminal story to account for the boom (and semi-bust) of the last decade.

Otherwise, books for the general reader have appeared only sporadically. This has changed. The obsession with energy supply, the apparent dwindling of resources, the worries about impending environmental catastrophe and the conflicts across the globe since 2001 are behind a surge in literature trying to make sense of it all. Biographer Tom Bower's new book The Squeeze: Oil, Money and Greed in the 21st Century is the pick of the bunch.

PetroChina says oil pipeline supply unaffected by spill

BEIJING (Reuters) - PetroChina's newly launched oil pipeline running from northwest to central China is running normally after the company shut off a branch line that spilled diesel into a river last week, company officials said on Monday.

Cause of fire at Indian atomic research center to be out soon: official

NEW DELHI (Xinhua) -- India's Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Monday said that the exact cause of fire at the Bhabha Atomic Research Center in Mumbai last week, which claimed the lives of two scientists, will soon be out in the open.

Greener oil sands, greener planet

Now that the noise and fuss of political posturing has faded, one key question emerges from the Copenhagen summit: Who will lead the evolution to a low-carbon future?

It must be Canada, the only energy superpower in the democratic world.

Canada's oil sands, if they can become greener, are a major part of the answer to stable and long-term hemispheric energy supply. Copenhagen made it all too clear that the planet needs a more sustainable energy platform to address the threat of climate change.

China blames freak storm on global warming

BEIJING: Freak snowstorms and record low temperatures sweeping northern China are linked to global warming, say Chinese officials.

But, unlike the unseasonal snow falls that hit Beijing at the start of winter, the dump this week appears to have no link to the Government's relentless efforts to change the micro climate.

Only politicians, not judges, can right this injustice

PETER SPENCER'S problem has nothing to do with Kyoto and everything to do with native vegetation laws. That's not to say the Federal Government should not do something for him and other farmers on moral grounds - after all, in terms of carbon reduction, farmers have carried the can for other Australians. But Spencer would still be about to lose his farm even if no one had heard of climate change.

NSW laws restricting the clearing of native vegetation began in 1995, two years before Kyoto. Their purpose was to preserve biodiversity, not to create carbon sinks. By preventing farmers from clearing land, they effectively nationalised parts of many farms. In principle, this was the same as if the Government had told all urban householders that any unoccupied bedrooms would now be used as storage space for their local libraries.

Canada Goes After Yes Men For Copenhagen Parody, Knocks Out 4500 Websites

During the Copenhagen conference the Yes Men had some fun at the expense of Canada, creating a fake website, inventing press secretary Felix Charlebois, and promising a 40 percent reduction in emissions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The Canadian Prime Minister is not known for his sense of humour, and was not amused; Instead, Environment Canada went after the host of the parody website and demanded that it be taken down.

Germany's Serverloft did not ask for a warrant or anything else, it just shut them down, along with 4500 other websites that were in the same block of IP addresses, just to be extra safe. Now the Yes Men are outraged.

Low-Tech Magazine and No-Tech Magazine

Low-Tech Magazine and No-Tech Magazine have some fairly well written/illustrated articles about old and low technologies. The concept being, in a sustainable future due to environmental constraints, carbon taxes, Peak Oil, etc.. these old-school technologies might be used - in some places, in some form - instead of more energy intensive modern high technology.

Kjell Aleklett: The Peak Oil Year 2009

We stand at the doorway to a new year but also to a new decade and it is time to make a short summary. At the start of the 21st century Peak Oil was not an issue. During the 1990s the oil price fluctuated around $20 per barrel and that the price would increase was unthinkable. The International Energy Agency (IEA), the US Energy Information Agency (EIA), the World Bank and others all had prognoses showing that the price would be around $20 per barrel in 2020.

When in 1998 Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrère wrote their now famous article “The End of Cheap Oil” in Scientific American predicting that production of cheap oil would reach a maximum around 2005 there was no one that took them seriously. Instead, in March 1999 The Economist advanced the opinion that the world would be “Drowning in Oil”. Personally I took the warning signals serious and started to learn as much as possible about oil depletion.

Oil nears $81 on optimism of U.S. recovery

NEW YORK - Oil prices climbed to near $81 a barrel Monday on optimism that a gradual U.S. economic recovery in 2010 will boost demand for crude.

Cold weather in the eastern United States and gains by other currencies against the dollar also helped support prices.

Oil Rally May Falter at $82, MF Global Says: Technical Analysis

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil’s rally to a two-month high may sputter around $82 a barrel as the commodity’s relative strength index signals that gains have been excessive, according to technical analysis by MF Global Ltd.

Oil advanced for an eighth day in New York today, trading above $81 a barrel for the first time since November, as freezing temperatures around the Northern Hemisphere bolstered the outlook for fuel demand. The surge will probably founder before it reaches last year’s peak of $82 a barrel, MF Global said in a report.

Belarus may cut electricity supplies to Russia - Ifax

MINSK (Reuters) - Belarus may cut supplies of electricity to Russia's enclave of Kaliningrad, Belarus's state power company warned on Monday as a dispute over oil supplies deepened.

Russian Oil Supply to Belarus, Poland Are ‘As Normal’

(Bloomberg) -- Russian oil supplies to Belarus and refineries in Poland are continuing as normal amid talks on future supplies, according to customers.

Russia is supplying oil to Belarus “as normal,” Marina Kostyuchenko, a spokeswoman for the Belarusian oil company Belneftekhim, said by telephone from Minsk today. The Financial Times reported earlier today that Russia cut off shipments as talks with Belarus went over a Jan. 1 deadline.

Iran's Guards tighten economic grip

BERKELEY, California - A move by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to withdraw US$1 billion from the country's Foreign Reserve Fund to complete Phases 15 and 16 of the gigantic South Pars gas project could provoke a serious crisis in view of looming sanctions over Iran's nuclear program, according to analysts.

The IRGC cash grab reveals the military organization's power over Iran's economy and control over the country's sensitive oil, gas and nuclear industries.

India Oil Imports Rise for First Time in 3 Months

(Bloomberg) -- India’s crude oil imports rose 6.1 percent in November, increasing for the first time in three months after refiners produced more gasoline and diesel as vehicle sales climbed.

Crude oil purchases from overseas climbed to 10.48 million metric tons from 9.88 million tons a year earlier, according to provisional data from the oil ministry today. Imports in the April-November period rose 15 percent to 98.88 million tons.

Daqing sees output dip

Oil output in PetroChina's Daqing oilfield, China's biggest, dipped slightly to 40 million tonnes in 2009 as the company works to shore up the ageing field, the Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.

Oman hits 810,000 bpd

Oman has hit an average oil production rate of 810,000 barrels per day in 2009, up 7% from 2008, according to Economy Minister, Ahmad Mekki.

Russia-India ties sour in Central Asia

Unsound strategy, mutual mistrust and opportunism are combining to frustrate the efforts of Moscow and India to blunt China's soft-power push into Russia's "near beyond" - the oil and gas-rich former Soviet republics that line the path of the ancient Silk Road from the Caspian Sea to China's doorstep at Xinjiang province.

Russia's unwelcome efforts to cobble together a Central Asian security bloc and claim a central role in a new, multi-polar Euroasian security structure have been the main stumbling block to advancement of its interests in the region.

France's Total in $2.25 billion U.S. natgas deal

NEW YORK - The French oil company Total is moving into the U.S. natural gas market with a $2.25 billion deal with Oklahoma's Chesapeake Energy.

Total said Monday it will pay $800 million in cash for a 25 percent stake in Chesapeake's Barnett Shale assets, which hold vast quantities of natural gas in northern Texas.

Woodside’s PetroChina Browse Gas Sale Accord Expires

(Bloomberg) -- Woodside Petroleum Ltd.’s $40 billion initial accord to sell liquefied natural gas from the Browse project to PetroChina Co. has expired, allowing the Australian company to seek a more lucrative replacement deal.

Commodities Back as Gurus Eschew Financial Assets

(Bloomberg) -- Raw materials may return more than financial assets for the first time in three years as the global economy rebounds, according to Bloomberg surveys and 2009’s most accurate commodity forecasters.

Oil, corn, gold and palladium will advance as much as 17 percent this year, the analysts said. The S&P GSCI Enhanced Total Return Index of 24 commodities will gain 17.5 percent, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimates. That’ll beat the 11 percent jump in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and the 2.8 percent return on the benchmark U.S. 10-year note, forecasts compiled by Bloomberg show.

Wesfarmers ‘Watching’ Griffin Coal After Bond Default

(Bloomberg) -- Wesfarmers Ltd. is watching events at Griffin Coal Mining Co. after the rival supplier of fuel to Western Australian power stations defaulted on $475 million in bonds and appointed an administrator.

Hong Kong to Investigate Claims of Dirty Sinopec LPG

(Bloomberg) -- The Hong Kong government will investigate claims that dirty liquefied petroleum gas sold at filling stations operated by China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. has led to a spate of breakdowns by taxis and minibuses.

CNPC Says Fuel Spill in Yellow River Is Under Control

(Bloomberg) -- China National Petroleum Corp. said it has stopped a diesel fuel leak that contaminated the Yellow River, the country’s second longest and one of the main sources of drinking water in the north.

The situation remains “serious” and more than 700 workers have been deployed by state-owned CNPC and the government to prevent the leak from spreading and for clean up operations, China’s largest oil company said today in a statement posted on its Web site. More than 100 metric tons of diesel spilled into tributaries of the river, China National Radio said today.

Kurt Cobb: The problem of induction and the blindness of fools

The problem with the future is that it's not always like the past. In fact, were this statement not true, history would indeed be "bunk" just as Henry Ford once said. But, of course, history is a chronicle of what changed and therefore led to a future that was different from the past.

So, it is puzzling that such an obvious truism is so easily dismissed when it comes to the future of oil and energy in general. Enter one Porter Stansberry, an investment newsletter writer, who knows that "peak oil is an economic impossibility." In the linked interview he likens oil to copper. We have found substitutes for copper, namely optical fiber, so we will certainly find substitutes for oil in the quantities we need at the time we need them. He insists though that we won't need them for a very long time.

Sun, wind and wave-powered: Europe unites to build renewable energy 'supergrid'

It would connect turbines off the wind-lashed north coast of Scotland with Germany's vast arrays of solar panels, and join the power of waves crashing on to the Belgian and Danish coasts with the hydro-electric dams nestled in Norway's fjords: Europe's first electricity grid dedicated to renewable power will become a political reality this month, as nine countries formally draw up plans to link their clean energy projects around the North Sea.

The network, made up of thousands of kilometres of highly efficient undersea cables that could cost up to €30bn (£26.5bn), would solve one of the biggest criticisms faced by renewable power – that unpredictable weather means it is unreliable.

Shell accused of abandoning solar power buyers in the developing world

Shell has become embroiled in a major row with the World Bank and green energy companies after allegations that it is unfairly refusing to honour warranties on solar power systems sold to the developing world.

A widespread breakdown of its equipment in Sri Lanka and elsewhere has left the oil firm accused of abandoning a responsibility to impoverished communities while damaging the prospects of the wider renewable power sector in a world desperate to reduce carbon emissions following the Copenhagen climate change summit.

Richard Heinberg: The Meaning of Copenhagen

It was the pivotal international conference of the new century. Tens of thousands showed up, including heads of state, officials at all levels of government, representatives of environmental organizations, and ordinary citizens from nearly 200 countries. Scientists had warned that, without a strong agreement to reduce carbon emissions, the consequences for civilization and the world's ecosystems would be cataclysmic.

On the sidelines sat powerful forces (including pro-growth business interests and fossil fuel companies) that preferred a weak agreement or none at all. Their strategic public relations efforts ("by far and away the biggest public relations campaign that I've ever seen," according to PR veteran James Hoggan, cofounder of DeSmogBlog.com and author of Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming) paid off when, only days before the meeting, thousands of private emails between climate scientists were hacked and released to the public; during the next few days, prominent right-wing commentators assured one and all that "climategate" completely undercut any scientific basis for thinking that human actions cause global warming. While nothing in the emails did in fact call established climate science into question, the desired and actual effect of the exercise was to destabilize public support for a strong agreement in Copenhagen.

On the streets were tens of thousands of mostly young activists and NGO campaigners, and even a few scientists, who were prepared to raise hell if world leaders didn't act boldly to reduce carbon emissions.

So, on the whole, heads of state still felt obliged to come up with some results—but nothing too radical.

Angry farmers rally outside Australian parliament

(AP:CANBERRA, Australia) Angry farmers wearing broad-brimmed hats and cracking kangaroo-hide whips rallied outside Parliament Monday as one of their colleagues continued a hunger strike to demand compensation for Australian climate change policy.

The protest by 250 farmers and their supporters drew public attention to the plight of sheep farmer Peter Spencer, who they say is on the 43rd day of his hunger strike to protest that he is not allowed to clear vegetation from his 20,000 acre (8,000 hectare) farm.

Conservative skeptics battle clerics who believe in climate change

"Environmentalism sees Earth and its systems as the product of chance and therefore fragile, subject to easy and catastrophic disruption," the group said in a recent statement. "The Biblical worldview sees Earth and its systems as robust, self-regulating, and self-correcting, not immune to harm but durable."

Land also believes that many climate scientists see humans as a threat to the planet. He and other skeptics disagree.

"Man comes first," Land said. "Not animals. Not the planet."

Robert Parham, director of the Nashville-based Baptist Center for Ethics, thinks Land and other skeptics should take another look at the Bible. Parham, who supports climate-change legislation, says that the Bible also has at least two stories about human-caused environmental disasters. The first is when human beings were cast out of the Garden of Eden, he said. The second came during the great flood.

Greenhouse Gases: Who's Cheating?: The amounts of carbon in the atmosphere are out of whack with predictions and reported output

As the world gets serious about fighting climate change, a huge question looms: Are countries and companies really reducing their greenhouse gas emissions as much as they claim? The answer is crucial not just for the planet, but for business. The tighter the limits on emissions, the higher the price companies have to pay to pollute—and, conversely, the more profits some companies will reap by releasing less gas and monetizing the reductions under the umbrella of cap and trade. Considering the billions of dollars at stake, "can we really trust what's reported?" asks Pieter P. Tans, senior scientist at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo.

Tans and many other researchers worry that the answer is no.

Climate change far worse than thought before

NEW DELHI: Global alarm over climate change and its effects has risen manifold after the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Since then, many of the 2,500-odd IPCC scientists have found climate change is progressing faster than the worst-case scenario they had predicted.

As I noted a couple of days ago, the EIA already has their preliminary data out for 2009 for country level production, consumption and net exports/imports, e.g., Mexico:


Their year over year (2008 to 2009) rates of change in production, consumption and net oil exports for Mexico were as follows:

Production: -7.6%/year
Consumption: -4.5%/year
Net Exports: -14.4%/year

Mexico succeeded in slowing the net export decline rate, versus the 2008 rate, but in order to keep their net export decline rate down to the same rate as their production decline rate, Mexico would have had to cut their consumption at the same rate that their production fell, 7.6%/year. This is consistent with what the other case histories show, to-wit, given a production decline so far I haven't found any examples of exporting countries cutting their domestic consumption sufficiently to keep their net export decline rate above their production decline rate.

Re: Total's purchase of a 25% stake in Chesapeake's Barnett Shale production. Some basic numbers: based upon current production rates and $5/NG this computes to a 2.5 year payout. In the world of production acquisition this would be considered a fire sale. Typical payouts in good time are usually 4 to 5 years. The $800 million they paid for their 750 bcf share equals an in ground acquisition cost of $0.94/mcf. I haven't seen proven reserves sold this cheap for 10 - 15 years. The $1.45 trillion they will be spending to develop the 1.6 trillion cf of unproved NG represents a price of $1.10/mcf .
Some will offer this deal as an indication of how viable Shale Gas development still is (at least in the Barnett).

Based on these rough numbers here folks can make their own appraisals. Having been involved in dozens of production acquisitions in the last 20 years I see this deal as nothing more than Chesapeake getting screwed to the wall as a result of being so over leveraged. Total is buying cash flow at bargain basement prices and also picking up those expensive undrilled leases for $0. they will be paying for a share of the drilling expenses only as I read the press release. But this is typical when an operator has leases that have to be drilled or they expire: a partner carries them for on drilling side and the original lease purchaser eats the land costs. given the current lower drilling costs and the fact that Total is paying little or none of the front end costs I would expect to see them moving rigs into the play quickly.

More likely they both have their financial backs to the wall and their real reserves are much less than stated. Taking the number your putting up I'd argue that Total only believe 50% at most of what Chesapeak claimed was real and thats being generous. My gut opinion is its more like 25-30% of claimed reserves.

A big problem for Chesapeak but not quite the sweet heart deal you penciled out.

The irony is its actually probably a even better deal we will find out. My opinion is that industry insiders already know that if the drilling campaign slows in the shale fields production drops rapidly.
We will find out in the next several months as we enter a new spike in NG prices.

So Total could well be developing the play with prices closer to 7-14 mcf at market. Of course they will book the reserves they bought so this is a huge boost to stock prices. Next they will develop them at a more sedate pace ensuring high prices for the duration of the project. Near the end they will sell the field and it probably will get sold multiple times it would take a forensic accountant to actually tally up the final production and show it never ever reached the original claims. And of course prices and costs will vary over the period so recoverable will vary at each sale however you will continue to see the field sold at sweetheart deals.

Thus you see how a big lie is turned into big money for a long period of time.

In fact this is the general game that I think will be played out across the oil and gas industry and the new SEC rules are set up to support it.

Reserve claims are massively inflated yet product rates keep falling leading to much higher prices.
Company valuations are driven by the combination of paper reserves and excellent profits from the low production rates leading to highly inflated share prices.

This is covered up in the end with sweetheart deals selling off the fields.

Eventually of course one day the true situation cannot be hidden and share prices crash but this is in the distant future.

In the interm we have the basis for a almost perfect con game. As long of course if your not willing to believe that if its to good to be true then it probably is not true.

So unlike you I don't expect them to quickly move in rigs I expect them to develop the play at a sedate pace and reap the rewards of high gas prices * claimed paper reserves with excellent profits on a much much lower production rate. They will of course play this off as responsible development.

And of course the even greater irony is this probably how the fields should be developed but without the claimed reserve levels turning it into a scam.

Thus you can s

I really don't feel like debating your "reserve claims massively inflated" rant so I'll offer this


(subscription required)

Steve, please post a few lines that pertain to "reserve claims massively inflated". You are permitted to do that under the "fair use clause" of the copyright law.

I am dying to know what The Oil and Gas Journal has to say on this subject.

Ron P.

Have you tried clicking the link? It's not behind a paywall for me.

Well I clicked on the link half a dozen times and it was behind a pay wall every time. Perhaps you have a subscription Leanan. At any rate, could you post the paragraph pertaining to "reserve claims massively inflated". As the hood told Cline Eastwood when he asked "Do you feel lucky punk? Did I fire six shots or only five?" He gave up but then said: "Hey, I gotsta know". (I forgot the name of the movie, sorry.)

But I gotsta know.

Ron P.

Interesting. Apparently, they use javascript or some such thing to protect their articles. I use Firefox, with Flashblock and NoScript, so I never even realized there was supposed to be a paywall. When I try with IE, I do see the paywall.

Sorry, I have no clue which part of the article he means. But you can view it via Firefox.

Didn't work. I am using firefox right now. Brought up Durmbeats under Firefox and clicked on the link. It is still behind a pay wall.

Ron P.

You need to have the NoScript extension installed.

What in tarnation has that to do with anything. Oh well, guess I will never know. Never mind.

Ron P.

NoScript is an add-on for Firefox. Just about every Firefox user installs it. But it has to be installed separately. That's just the way Firefox is. Everything is "a la carte." It should install automatically if you download it via Firefox.

NoScript blocks scripting. Apparently, Oil and Gas Journal has a script running that puts up the login screen. If you block them from running scripts, you don't get the login screen.

For a smart bloke, that was pretty dumb. :D

Sorry, I didn't realize it was behind a paywall. When I previewed and tested it, it opened up so I thought all was good.

The article is from Oct 5, 2009 OGJ, titled "Lessons learned help optimize development", written by Vello Kuuskraa and Scott Stevens of Advanced Resources International Inc., Arlington Va. The content of the article is about shale plays in general, but there are specific examples relating to the Barnett.

Some excerpts:

"The core area of a gas shale play, with rich resource concentrations of 150-200 bcf/sq mi, provides a massive economic advantage over the fringe area with its much leaner resource concentrations of 50-70 bcf/sq mi. For example, in the Barnett shale gas play that covers nearly 8,000 sq mi, a quarter of the basin, the core area (which Total bought), has high resource concentrations and outstanding horizontal wells, with average EUR of 2.8 bcf (3 bcf w/ NGLs) and much higher recoveries by the best individual wells. In comparison, the fringe area (which Total did not buy) contains half of the basin area and has horizontal wells that average 1 bcfe."

"One key aspect of gas shale well performance remains a puzzle, namely the significant variability in well performance, even when the underlying, readily measurable geological reservoir properties appear to be the same or similar. One example of this is the repeated anomolous presence of side-by-side high and low performing wells. The core area of the Barnett shale provides a larger example of this phenomenom. THis area had more than 1,000 horizontal wells drilled between 2001 and 2006. The best 10% of the wells average 7.3 bcf/well while the lowesst 30% average 1.2 bcf/well." The chart then shows that wells in the 11-30% average 4.2 bcf/well and 31-60% average 2.7 bcf/well.

I hope that helps. It would be an interesting article to appear as a guest post.

It's probably not reasonable to expect articles behind paywalls at big professional publications like O&G Journal to ever be guest posts. Why should they let a small blog use their content for free, when they can get people to pay money for it? I doubt they'd find our audience appealing, either.

memmel -- These sort of "drill to earn" type deals are perfect for developing "unproved reserves". We'll never see the details of the trade but I can promise you Total has complete control over what gets drilled and what doesn't. They hit a sweet spot and Total will keeping writing those checks. Should drilling results or NG prices go south Total can pull the plug and stop supporting any further drilling ops.

I wouldn't say I expect them to move in a lot of drill rigs soon but it won't suprise to see some activity to ramp up. I haven't seen the numbers for a while but I wouldn't be surprised if drilling/completion costs have fallen close to 60% of what they were during the peak. That makes those lower NG prices not the deal killer they once were in many of the SG trends.

My gut opinion is its more like 25-30% of claimed reserves.

my rough rule of thumb is 10%.

total may not do so bad on this deal though. the secret, imo, is to drill on 640's or 320's or spacing units not competing for the same movable gas in place.

Here is the same data year over year (2008 to 2009) for Venezuela and Saudi Arabia:


Production: -5.3%/year
Consumption: 4.5%/year
Net Exports: -9.2%/year

Saudi Arabia

Production: -8.7%/year
Consumption: 3.9%/year
Net Exports: -12.3%/year

Incidentally, the five year rate of change numbers for Mexico (2004-2009) are as follows:

Production: -5.2%/year
Consumption: +0.4%/year
Net Exports: -14.1%/year

Relative to 2004, their peak production rate year, consumption in 2009 was up slightly, although it was down from 2008. In any case, their net export rate in 2009, 0.92 mbpd, was down by half from their 2004 rate, 1.85 mbpd. Our model and case histories suggest that Mexico's post 2004 Cumulative Net Oil Exports (CNOE) are probably between 85% and 90% depleted, e.g., in 2002 when IUKE's (Indonesia, UK, Egypt) combined net exports were down by 50% from their 1996 rate, their post-1996 CNOE were 88% depleted (EIA).

In 2022, when Sam projects that the (2005) top five net oil exporters combined net export rate will be down by about 50% from their 2005 rate, he is projecting that their post-2005 CNOE will be about 86% depleted.

potentially dumb question... in all of the country examples provided above... why does Production+Consumption change not equal net export change? Why sometimes higher or lower?


Three key factors affect the rate of change in net oil exports: (1) Rate of change in production; (2) Rate of change in consumption and (3) Consumption as a percentage of production at final production peak.

Given a long term production decline, there are three key characteristics associated with net export declines: (1) The net export decline rate tends to exceed the production decline rate; (2) The net export decline rate tends to accelerate with time and (3) Net Export declines are front end loaded, with the bulk of post-peak Cumulative Net Oil Exports (CNOE) being shipped early in the decline phase, i.e., the CNOE depletion rate tends to exceed the annual net export decline rate.

The post-peak conditions I assumed for my Export Land Model (ELM) were: (1) Production declines at 5%/year; (2) Consumption increases at 2.5%/year and (3) Consumption = 50% of production at final production peak (production peak = 2.0 mbpd). Rounding off somewhat, this results in net oil exports going to zero in 9 years, even though production has only fallen only to 1.3 mbpd (consumption had risen to about 1.3 mbpd). So, in simple percentage terms, a 35% decline in production and a 30% increase in consumption resulted in a 100% reduction in net oil exports.

In the case of Mexico (which was consuming about half of production at final production peak in 2004), again in simple percentage term a 23% reduction in production (from 2004 to 2009) and a 2% increase in consumption resulted in a 51% reduction in net oil exports. In the case of "Export Land," its net exports had fallen by 57% after five years.

The percentage of change in production and consumption are being taken from different original quantities - those of production and consumption. So the two percentage changes are not simply additive.

Weighted average consumption mbd != production mbpd.

I.e consumption is 20% of production and increases by 10%.

A fun graph:

From The Hubbert Linearization Applied on Ghawar. The cumulative discoveries line is amusing. My data shows only 5 gas or oil discoveries 2004-2009, and only one of those oil, Abu Sidr 1, 3kbpd.

The only thing missing is cumulative production

Re: Conservative skeptics battle clerics who believe in climate change, up top.

I'm always flabbergasted when conservatives try to use the Bible to back up their positions. The word conservative does not appear in the Bible but liberal does. Most Conservative positions are in direct opposition to what Jesus said.

He instructed his followers to sell what they had, give it to the poor and follow Him. Few conservatives do.

He had no family values. Never married. Hung around with 12 men one of whom kissed him in betrayal. There was probably a lot of other kissing going on so no one was surprised by the act.

He had long hair and wore dresses.

If a person like Him appeared today Conservatives would cast Him into hell and think they were doing God's will.


I guess we can all have our ideas of what Jesus was like.
I think his ideology was probably a lot closer to John Galt than to Karl Marx.

Somehow, I can't imagine John Galt telling rich people that the way to heaven is to give away all their possessions to the poor.

Galt strikes me as a bit more loquacious as well. Jesus got to the point (even if he did use a parable or two).

The question isn't what Galt would do, the question is who is Jesus more like.

My guess is Galt.

Jesus was a take-responsibility kind of guy, and he would have disliked Galt's "hard-workers keep what they produce" more than Marx's "to each according to his needs, regardless of what he's put in."

Jesus said treat others as you want to be treated. That's Galt's approach. Marxists, on the other hand, want more in return than what they give.

You missed a bit of context there, Andy. Marx said, first of all, and before saying anything about "to each...",

"From each according to his ability. To each according to his need."

And, your valuation of what a person gets in return is questionable. For instance, you seem a bright person. Perhaps you may be disabled in some way, physically. I have no way of knowing about that. However, if you need a wheelchair that I, being a healthy individual do not need, in a Marxist society, and I believe in a true Christian one, your wheelchair would be provided, though in all other ways we both contribute and receive equally.

I think you have a problem in that you attribute your, "Greed is good" philosophy to the Marxist. If you were in a Marxist state, you would shirk your duties and grab all you could. That, after all, is what Capitalists do in the US today! Grab more than they contribute, I mean.

Do you really think that the top 1% contribute, in effort and ability, more than the lower 95%???? That would be wierd!

No, it is the capitalist group that wants more in return than they give. And, they have the real entitlement mentality! They think their kids are entitled to it, and that they are entitled to it!

Again, it is a matter of what is valued. Is it hours worked, time in preparation (education, for instance) that may multiply the value of production? What? Think about it. How does your system justify giving 95% of all the reward to 1% or 2% of the people? Do you really believe that they deserve it? Just because they control the wealth does not mean that they earned it or deserve it.

Sorry. Jesus would still toss you guys out of the temple! And, you would crucify him again, in a heartbeat!

Oh, I'm well aware of what the theory of Marxism says, but part and parcel of Marxism is the constraint that people are fundamentally lazy and, in a Marxist system, the "from each" part is horse-sh-t and Marx knew it.

Marx was a fraud who continuously preached what he knew was inaccurate. Galt did not suffer that malady.

The thing is, as any 6th grader who has done a group project can tell you, the number of slackers and free riders will always be substantially greater than the hard workers.

Marx knew that. And he knew it was the fatal flaw of his system. But he knew something else - he knew that if people heard this, everybody on the bottom half of the heap, and many people on the top half, would hear, "I get more." So Marx was a liar whose system was based on gulling people into believing something impossible.

Galt, the character, never said a word he didn't believe to be exactly true.

Jesus is much closer to Galt than to Marx.

You want to know the mechanism by which socialism/collectivism/Marxism works?

It's very simple. Ask 10 people in your life to define the word "wealthy" for you.

What you'll find is that everybody's idea of wealthy is different, but everybody's idea of wealthy has this in common - it's something greater than what they have.

That's the human bias that makes the ludicrous concept known as "Marxism" something more than a punch line.

The interesting thing is that, despite your observations, 6th graders do get given group projects(and many other situations invoke groups as well). (Incidentally I'd quibble with your "substantially more". My experience in general groups is that there's a significant number of slackers but it's significantly short of being even a majority.)

This suggests that a better optimum corresponds to something more than your 1-D analysis. (Not that this affects the debate about how similar an individual known from redacted and expanded writings is to a fictional character responding to his authors setups vs an individual whose writings may or may not be honest reflections of his views. Me, I'm leaving this because I think I'm getting close to an argument that nails the capacity of pin heads for dancing divine representatives.)

Embryonic: "My experience in general groups is that there's a significant number of slackers but it's significantly short of being even a majority."

I've found quite the opposite, but I suppose this is entirely relative and dependent on where you are on the slacker distribution curve.


Marx was real and a man.
Galt is a fiction and a cartoon.

I'll leave it to the reader to decide where the greater similarity lies. ;-)

You have a point. Fictional characters may never lie, but real people...well, lying comes naturally to humans in a way it doesn't to other apes. Which isn't to say they never practice deception, but not like us. There's even a theory that human intelligence evolved so we could lie to others and manipulate them. Or at least detect when they were trying to manipulate us.

Galt is a fictional character written about by Ayn Rand, so maybe you're right.

However, belief that a thing is true does not make it true. Marx was an economic theorist. He had little practical knowledge. I concede that Communism works as well as self service banks. That does not change what Is aid.

The wealthy in this country have an entitlement mentality, more than the poor. Most Americans want to be paid comensurate with their worth. No one - no single CEO or executive is worth, as pay, more than 100 times the lowest paid full time worker in his hire. Period. Thinking that they are is what makes our system so tenuous. As the distortion in wealth grows, our system becomes top heavy. Eventually, if not corrected, it will fall.

And, you know it is true.

And, no... wealthy is not "greater than what I have." Wealth can be material, spiritual, emotional or physical. I have great wealth in some of these areas. I am not physically as healthy as I would like, so less so there. And, material wealth, by itself, needs further definition. You have evidently given little thought to anything except fear that someone will shirk, and get paid more than they 'earned.' I know as well as you, and as you say Marx knew, that people in general tend to be lazy; that is the impetus of inventions. Lazy people trying to find ways to avoid heavy labor.

For some, the hard work is mental... they avoid thinking as much as possible. Some by doing drugs, others in computer games or, ala Tiger Woods in other venues that give fast, easy rewards. Still others just sit on the sofa, watching football, baseball, or soaps. In these cases, their method of avoidance does not lead to anything beneficial.

I will continue this if you want, but I would like you to understand that Ayn Rand was not that great. Her system depends on perfect people, like Galt, who in fact do not exist. He is fictional. So, according to some, might be Jesus. I don't know of an economic system that works well in real time. The Austrian School, like the Chicago School, is not valid, IMO, in the reality of humanity. What is needed is usually a hybrid, but the devil is always in the detail. The problem is that people who hold one of the -isms with religious fervor want to take over. Then you get the Taliban, al Qaida, and Ronald Reagan.

Gotta run... the kids need to be put to bed.

Have a good evening. I look forward to more discusion in the future.

You are not making any sense. Have you read the New Testament? It is way more Marxist than Randian, I can tell you that.

Matthew 25:34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Matthew 20:1-16: the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. Those who show up at 5:00 p. m., one hour before work stops, get the same pay as those who work all day.

Acts 4:34: "There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles' feet; and distribution was made to each as any had need."

The phrase "from each according to his ability, and to each according to his need," is actually taken from this passage in Acts.

Of course, the parable of the vinyard is only tangently related to economic theory - it's supposed to be teaching about divine grace. The tangent relation being the apparent upset of the usual notions of merit for work performed.

Hm... more like John Galt?

The only time Jesus got mad, in my Bible, at least, was when he cast the bankers out of the temple!

And, he DID tell his followers to sell everything, etc.; AND, later Christians, if you believe such, lived in communes, pooling their assets and efforts. Sort of like Lenin and Marx?

Not to say that communism is a workable thesis of economics. Just that Jesus was more of the Marx variety, and would no doubt be pilloried today. He would certainly not be welcomed into your local suburban megachurch! Very much the radical!

He probably didn't have long hair (if he existed). We know what Jewish men of the time looked like, and they had short hair and beards. Presumably Jesus looked other men of his time, or there would be no need to point him out by kissing him.

When the Discovery Channel debuted their forensic reconstruction of the face of Jesus, a lot of Americans freaked out. One woman wrote in to complain that he looked like a terrorist.

Another person complained that "he looks like a black mayun"! Then again, I always thought the Easter Bunny was pink until I went to an Easter Egg hunt and found out he was white. I felt so much better after that!

Then again, I always thought the Easter Bunny was pink until I went to an Easter Egg hunt and found out he was white.

You must have had him confused with the invisible pink unicorns.

Current scholarship, based on Biblical and archeological sources which I have forgotten in the fog of time, holds that Jesus was a Nazer. The Nazerites, like Samson, were a special group dedicated at birth to a much stricter lifestyle regime and religious practice than ordinary persons. Not cutting the hair was one of the requirements. Nazareth takes its name from the whole mess of Nazerites who lived in the area. The Nazarim go way back centuries.

Kinda like Irish mommas who decide that their son will be a priest.

That idea is controversial at best. Nazirites were supposed abstain from wine and grapes, and Jesus apparently did not.

Nazer is Hebrew for shoot, branch, or bud. Some scholars indicated this Nazer is the root of the word Nazereth a first century village in Galilee.

Isaiah 11:1 describes a shoot from the stump of Jesse, or one from the descendents of the family of Jesse the father of King David arising.

Also, nazirites are not nazirites for life. Buddhist monasticism, with its limited, um, tours of duty, is the closest analogue.

Interesting link! That face looks like my brother-in-law.

You mean Jesus wasn't a blue eyed caucasian ? I swear thats what Mel Gibson thought ... he even got the language right ..

BTW, chances of real Jesus (an orthodox Jew who wanted to get rid off Roman occupiers) being anywhere like what the Bible says is very low. Historians are not even sure Jesus was a historical figure.

At most probably a composite of historical people and it seems certain that parts of the Jesus story are drawn from other religious myths


In fact per R. J Price in the article at the link above, the Mithraic mysteries were so like Communion that "Justin Martyr states that "wicked devils" have "imitated" these mysteries in the Mithric religions because these rituals existed before the Christian religion, so the claim was that Satan had "imitated" these mysteries in advance of Jesus. Hopefully you can see the problem with this logic, but, at any rate, it does tell us that the rituals of Christianity are similar to the rituals of Mithraism."

Other similarities, virgin birth, angels, saviors, etc were common in pre Christian Mythologies.

Mithraism came in from Persia, there's no mention of some of the Christianity like customs and myths in the older stuff. Its a bit unclear if the overlap is due to Christianity borrowing from Mithraism or the other way around. Most of the period writings that referenced Mithraism were destroyed in the first century CE so there's now way to tell with certainty who borrowed what from where.

I had never heard of Mitraism. Though I had known that Jesus myths were common in many other religions.

BTW, Mitra is the common God of Avesta and Vedas. It is as such perhaps a common IE God and myths could have come from PIE to Romans.

'The birth of Christianity : reality and myth' by Joel Carmichael.

I think this book sums up the story of Jesus well. Consistent with what we know of history at that time. Also consistent with the deadsea scrolls. Similar to ideas advanced by several socialogists like Mervin.

In fact they DID so 2000 years ago. (I refer to what "X" posted up there)

Jesus is one of Fiction's most popular Hippies.

U.S. Government's Road to Perdition

The planned domination of the Middle East is the untold truth, as our ruling elite know that Peak Oil is a fact and our sprawling suburban existence depends upon cheap oil. Once it becomes clear that peak oil has set in, panic will result and armed conflict for the remaining supplies will breakout. Instead of planning for this event by preparing the country by shifting our economy to natural gas, nuclear, coal, geothermal, wind, solar, and ocean based sources, we will invest in our military machine to seize the nectar of American life. This will be a tragic choice.

This was posted on "Seeking Alpha" early this morning. I disagree with about half of what the author says, (the part about us preparing for war in the Middle East), but nevertheless it makes for very good reading.

Ron P.

'Planning for this event'
There have been a lot of questions about this-people generally think there is no planning going on, or like the author they think there is secret planning going on to dominate what oil reserves are left.

I was reading 'The Prize' last night and on about page 365 there is a part about Harold Ickes, the 'oil czar' during WWII (also secretary of interior). He tried to get people to conserve oil voluntarily during the early part of WWII. He was ridiculed. Congress investigated. The governor of FL and the legislature of NJ complained because of the impact on tourists. He said never again, you (paraphrasing) can't get the American people to prepare for an issue like that, you have to wait for a crisis. It's political suicide.

So I don't know if anyone has any secret plans or not, but I'm really no longer surprised by the apparent lack of planning. Of course $4 a gallon gas might have been an opportunity to tell the ugly truth, but too late now...

EDIT: I should also mention that at the time voluntary conservation was tried, Britain's oil supplies were critically low, but of course no one wanted the Nazi's to find that out. So no one could come out and say exactly how serious their situation was, or how bad it might become.

Given that does it not make sense that if the world has peaked in oil production that it will be hidden as long as possible. Perhaps central banks will purposely blow ridiculous asset bubbles and do all kinds of crazy things to hide the truth ?

Naw ....

At this point isn't it just about too late to do anything else? I guess that and hope for Mr. Fusion.

Comment from Kunstler's latest essay:

"Jim, obviously you haven't heard about the mothership waiting patiently for us on the dark side of the moon. Once the greys have been defeated by the Sirian Concil then the new technologies will allow us all live in splendor and delight.
There. Now that wasn't so hard was it?"

Yes, you are right. The USA is not preparing for a war in the Middle East. The USA is already AT WAR in the Middle East.

Pakistan - "Energy crisis may cripple country by 15th"


"Friday, January 01, 2010
ISLAMABAD: The country may plunge into the worst imaginable energy crisis as virtually all refineries are teetering on the verge of financial default and may close down operations by Jan 15.

All the oil refineries of the country, currently working on a negative gross revenue margin, and with their borrowing limits already exhausted, are likely to shut down within the next two weeks following their expected default to retire the existing L/Cs to import crude oil. The shutdown would mean no oil supplies for thermal power generation plants and the picture turns outright dark."

Sounds like the "Olduvai Slide" is proceeding right on schedule in Pakistan! I haven't done the math and don't claim to have any expert knowledge in these areas, but I like to keep a graphic of the Olduvai Theory (Prophecy?) handy since it still seems like the most useful guide to the road ahead of us in this decade.

Or maybe there's nothing deep about it, and it merely illustrates the well-known malign effect of price controls that run amok.

Or maybe there's nothing deep about it, and it merely illustrates the well-known malign effect of price controls that run amok.

Sounds sort of like the one sided deregulation that set off the California power crises, make them pay market for wholesale, but a cap on consumer prices. So here we have price controls operating in a time delayed fashion, i.e. the refiners are forced to keep operating at a loss until they can no longer function, then boom, the consumers free lunch is now over!

Or the Nixon price controls, some of which had a similar effect. Some things, though, are more complicated in a marketing sense than fuel oil, so never before had there been so many "new" products (which, being new, had no "base-year price") replacing virtually identical "old" products (which, being old, had a "base-year price".)

Or the Nixon price controls, some of which had a similar effect.

I think the high volatility of the oil price, which is several times greater than the inflation during Nixon's time makes the Pakistani issue much more problematic. I remember starting my career at low pay (right out of school), then being held back by wage controls, which said any business recieving government funding could only give out raises that averaged below some predetermined rate. Such controls certainly do have unintended negative consequences. But how quickly and severely those consequences are realized depends on how out of wack prices are forced, and what options the affected parties have. In the case on rent controls, it is not practical -at least in the short term, for ownwers to take rental space off the market. Whereas for refining where feedstock costs are bigger than capital costs it is easy to see how wrong prices could quickly lead to plant closure.

Well, it's the first trading day of the new year...which means it's the first day of the Matt Simmons - John Tierney bet. It's not looking good for Mr. Simmons, I must say, though he's right that $55 now seems cheap.

Luckily for him, I doubt he'll miss the money if he loses.

If Simmons "wins", we all lose.
Up over $80 today. Yikes.

Matt's mistake was in betting on price instead of production. He should have bet on whether the average annual global crude oil production rate for 2006-2010 inclusive would be: (1) at or below the 2005 rate or (2) above the 2005 rate.

That wasn't really the point, though. Tierney and his ilk never claimed that oil production would never go down. Rather, they argue that price signals will encourage a smooth transition to other forms of energy if oil becomes too scarce or too difficult to extract. Human ingenuity will create substitutions. No copper? We'll just use fiber optics, which are even better!

Tierny certainly mentioned substitutes, in connection with Simon's prior bet, but Tierney's concluding remark implied that he figured new discoveries and technologies would cause production to increase.

Note that the average annual spot price in the US in 2005 was $57. In 2008 dollars, this would be about $62. If they had structured the bet as Julian Simon originally proposed, at this point it looks like Tierney would have lost.

Incidentally, the average annual spot crude price in 1998 was $14, which would be about $18 in 2008 dollars. So, in real terms, the price of oil went up by a factor of 5.5 from 1998 to 2008. Of course, prices then fell to an average of about $60 in 2009--which was only 3.3 times the 1998 price, in real terms. Prices are currently about 4.4 times the 1998 price, in real terms.

The $10,000 Question
Published: August 23, 2005
(emphasis added)

He (Simon) offered to bet the pessimists that oil or any other resource they chose would be cheaper, in real terms, at any date they picked in the future. The ecologist Paul Ehrlich, author of "The Population Bomb" and "The End of Affluence," took up his offer and chose copper, tin and three other metals worth $1,000 in 1980. When the famous (Simon-Ehrlich) bet was settled 10 years later, the value of the metals had declined by more than half. As usual, people had found new ways to get the metals as well as cheaper substitutes, like the fiber optic cables that replaced copper telephone wires. After collecting his winnings, Julian expanded his challenge, offering to bet anyone on any other resource price or measure of human welfare. Julian, who died in 1998, never managed to persuade Mr. Ehrlich or other prominent doomsayers to take his bets again. But now we have a braver prophet in Mr. Simmons. . .

I realize this isn't a sure thing, because the price of oil has risen before - it quintupled in the 1970's. But then it dropped, thanks to new discoveries and technologies, validating the Cornucopians' optimism. So I figure the long-term odds are with me. And while I'm at it, I'll extend Julian's challenge and consider bets from anyone else convinced that our way of life is "unsustainable." If you think the price of oil or some other natural resource is going to soar, show me the money.

The only way Simmons win is if a war against Iran breaks out, it seems.

But even then, I don't see oil going to 300 as an allowable event. The government will step in long before that number is reached.

100 - depression.
200 - collapse.
300 - publicly impossible.

Step in and do what exactly?

With oil at $300, many governments will have a hard time continuing to exist, let alone answer the phones, let alone step in and do anything.

What can they do? Ration gasoline to a privileged subset of consumers? That would bring the price back down, but it would render this wager moot, and both Simmons and the other guy would wash their hands of it.

100 - depression.
200 - collapse.
300 - publicly impossible.

Interesting statements a lot of people feel similar. And I echo step in and do what ?

The only viable answer is of course well known in economics and thats substitution.

However I posted once about this and I'll post again.


Oil is whats called a Giffen good which means it does not have a viable substitute.

The link does not deal with a Giffen good that in decline supply perhaps you would call that a Giffen good squared.

In general until society is forced to accept people that use little oil as valuable you will use as much as you can afford as the substitute is to do without. This includes public transport.

2009 Drumbeat statistical analysis

Total comments: 54,035 (148 comments per Drumbeat)
Total length of comments: 29,033,192 chars (79,543 chars per Drumbeat)
Median length of comment: 350 chars
Unique active users: 1254 (of 3140 users active since inception)
New first-time users added during 2009: 401 (ave. 1.1/day)
Average number of unique active users each Drumbeat: 59

                 Top 10 users (by number of comments) - 2009

                  User                Comments       %    Cum %
               1  Leanan                  2593    4.8%     4.8%
               2  Darwinian               1326    2.5%     7.3%
               3  totoneila               1207    2.2%     9.5%
               4  jokuhl                  1161    2.1%    11.6%
               5  westexas                1036    1.9%    13.6%
               6  WNC Observer            1021    1.9%    15.4%
               7  ccpo                     986    1.8%    17.3%
               8  BrianT                   939    1.7%    19.0%
               9  AlanfromBigEasy          924    1.7%    20.7%
              10  enemy of state           885    1.6%    22.4%

 3.2% of active users (40 users of 1254) wrote 50% of all comments (by number).
12.7% of active users (159 users of 1254) wrote 80% of all comments (by number).
25.8% of active users (323 users of 1254) wrote only one comment.
61.7% of active users (774 users of 1254) wrote fewer than 10 comments.

              Top 10 users (by total length of comments) - 2009

                 User                      Chars       %    Cum %
              1  totoneila             1,225,948    4.2%     4.2%
              2  Darwinian               897,001    3.1%     7.3%
              3  memmel                  819,970    2.8%    10.1%
              4  oldfarmermac            747,574    2.6%    12.7%
              5  Leanan                  739,351    2.5%    15.3%
              6  ROCKMAN                 641,850    2.2%    17.5%
              7  WNC Observer            627,221    2.2%    19.6%
              8  airdale                 587,648    2.0%    21.7%
              9  ccpo                    585,807    2.0%    23.7%
             10  jokuhl                  573,001    2.0%    25.6%

 2.6% of active users (33 users of 1254) wrote 50% of all comments (by length).
11.9% of active users (149 users of 1254) wrote 80% of all comments (by length).

                Top 10 users (by number of Drumbeats) - 2009

                                     Total        Most    Comments per
              User                 Drumbeats  consecutive   Drumbeat
           1  Leanan                  325          60          8.0
           2  jokuhl                  290          25          4.0
           3  westexas                282          22          3.7
           4  enemy of state          281          37          3.1
           5  Darwinian               271          21          4.9
           6  Black_Dog               245          26          2.7
           7  totoneila               243          28          5.0
           8  BrianT                  236          18          4.0
           9  elwoodelmore            224          14          2.7
          10  ccpo                    222          24          4.4

                      Maximums and minimums - 2009

        Drumbeat with most comments (353): Thu, March 05, 2009
        Drumbeat with fewest comments (36): Sun, June 07, 2009

        Drumbeat with most unique users (104): Mon, March 30, 2009
        Drumbeat with fewest unique users (22): Sun, June 07, 2009

        Drumbeats with most first-time users (5): Tue, November 03, 2009
                                                  Fri, September 25, 2009
                                                  Sat, September 12, 2009
                                                  and 3 previous dates

        Most comments by one user in one Drumbeat: 35
           By: Willem Verkerk on Mon, April 06, 2009

And some folks accused me of being long winded! :-)


Probably they were referring to average length of comment. But memmel still has everyone beat.

        Top 5 and bottom 5 users (by average length of comment) - 2009
                            (minimum 50 comments)

                      User               Ave length   Comments
                   1  memmel                 2418.8        339
                   2  steve from Virginia    1443.1        146
                   3  ThatsItImout           1280.0         86
                   4  humbaba                1277.8         55
                   5  airdale                1136.6        517

                 201  hightrekker             195.6        390
                 202  RBM                     187.8        115
                 203  Barrett808              185.5        272
                 204  Rethin                  179.0         73
                 205  earldaily               165.7         92

It makes me happy to see that I'm one of the most succinct commenters.

I take the other position..."if it's brevity your after, read a bumper sticker" :-)

By the way, where is memmel from? Becauee I know that Airdale, Steve from Virginia and myself are all southerners...we have a long heritage of being willing to talk! :-)


What I only came in 3rd on comment length ???


Don't fret; see the "Average length of comment" table above.

Wow! I had no idea that I weighed in that often!

I do draw some satisfaction from the fact that my comments only averaged 614.32 characters per post, and also that I didn't weigh in on each and every DB. Hopefully those are indicators of some conciseness and selectivity on my part. It has been my intention to only weigh in when I actually have something of some value to contribute.

Same here. In my defense, most of those were probably climate related, and, a large bulk in the first half of the year.

I think.

The first business day of the year, and all of the financial sites seem to have gloom and doom... of course Kuntsler leads the charge. And, both Energy & Capital (See Drumbeat Post above) and Seeking Alpha join in. Here is S.A.'s word on the economic 'triple dip'


"Rubin says oil prices will begin a long ascent in 2010."

What seems to me to be an overlooked story in the mass media is how oil prices didn't collapse in 2009, as many predicted. There were those who said $10 oil, and the more cautious said $25, but we bounced around the $65 to $75 range. A few years ago when oil first breached $50 there was hysteria, but now that would be considered cheap.

Just before Christmas I got my quarterly oil royalty cheques. It was slightly more than triple what I expected and all I could say was "Wheee!". The natural gas cheques, alas, were what I expected. I'm a Peak Oiler but I don't think we'll see Peak NG for a few years yet.

I've managed to but some more private-equity limited-partnership units in December for a group of twenty infill wells but it is becoming more and more difficult to find them. All the good deals are bought out by insiders before I even hear of them.

Buy conventional oil and physical precious metals for 2010 is my advice.

There were those who said $10 oil, and the more cautious said $25,

I suspect that at prices between $10 and $25 per barrel there wouldn't be very much oil coming from new fields. Production would probably drop along with the natural decline rate at these prices.

"Here's the world's dirty little secret; oil is the perfect fuel in many ways," said Dr. Robert Kaufmann, director of Boston University's Center for Energy and Environmental Science. "Other than environmental externalities, it's a great fuel. It won World War II."

Well good, just so there's no serious problem, just those little "environmental externalities" that Jay Hanson and the climate change gang claim could end the world that we leave out of the calculations...


Roger, you may have meant Jay Hanson of Dieoff.org fame but I think perhaps you meant NASA climentologist James Hensen.

Ron P.

Ron, do you really mean James Hensen?

Strange occupation, that of a climentologist.

Sorry Joules, I goofed alos. I meant Dr. James E. Hansen

Thanks for the correction.

Ron P.

Surprised to see no mention of the official opening of the modern-day Burj Babil (Tower of Babel), the Burj Dubai. I fear its story will reflect that of its predecessor.

They changed its name, naming it after the head of Abu Dhabi. In thanks for the bailout, presumably.

Speaking of Dubai, the latest edition of Orion magazine has a nice photo essay called "iDubai -- an ephemeral empire captured in phone." Forgot to mention Orion over on the thread about books, but it's great including writing by Kunstler, Derrick Jensen, Bill McKibben, etc., plus great environmental photos. It is behind a paywall but they release stuff from each issue gradually.

On a blog called "Early Warning" there is a new post saying that Iraqi oil could delay peak by 10 years.

What do the experts here think?


Finally, the cat's out of the bag, though it's been on the blogroll for some time

Skylar, no cat was suddenly released. We have been discussing this on Drumbeats for weeks.

Ron P.

Ron.. I was referring to the fact that this is Stuart Staniford's blog. Though its been on the blogroll for several weeks, I hadn't seen any explicit mention of it and was curious as to when someone might actually refer to it.

Like Ron said, we've been discussing it for weeks.

I missed that comment but caught your link at Peak Oil.com

You missed a lot of other comments, too. :-)

This cat was never in the bag.

Ryder, the chart at your link shows Iraqi oil production going straight up, starting in 2010. That just goes to show that anyone can make a chart. Bombings often kill 100 perople per day in Bagdad.

Iraq Auctions Development Rights to Oil Fields

Also on Saturday, Jawad al-Bolani, the minister of the interior, told Parliament during a closed session that his ministry — which includes the Iraqi national police — had received information about terrorism operations planned for last Tuesday, when more than 120 people were killed during a series of coordinated bombings in Baghdad, according to two members of Parliament who attended the session.

And as the article points out there could be major hitches in development that could be brought on by technical troubles with the fields, violence and political instability. And currently not a single oil rig is in operation in Iraq, not even one!

The contracts give them 20 years to develop the fields. Some oil will likely be produced in five years or so but no great amount will start to flow for perhaps ten years. The chart at your link shows them peaking at 12 mb/d in just five years. But as I said, anyone can make a chart.

To answer your question, no this will not delay peak oil even one day because you cannot delay something that is in the past. I expect, and of course this is just a guess, but I think that Iraqi oil production will start to increase slightly in about five years and grow slowely until it reaches 5 or 6 mb/d in about 15 years. And that is on condition that peace breaks out throughout Iraq. But if that does not happen Iraqi oil production is just as likely to go down as up.

Ron P.

I'm not an expert, but I am highly skeptical of their being able to maintain a 20% compound annual growth rate for the next six years. If I read the graph correctly, they've already missed the 2009 target.

Also even if they make the goal, that's only 1.67 Mb/d per year, less than 2% of current production. With investment cutbacks around the world, they'd need every drop of that.

Also, zero help on the last four years -- wet dream case still puts peak in 2016, not 2020.

On a blog called "Early Warning" there is a new post saying that Iraqi oil could delay peak by 10 years.

This is Stuart Staniford's blog, by the way. He sent me the link to that story this morning.

I am shocked! I did not read the author of the chart before I posted. As I said, according to Schlumberger Iraq has zero rig count. How could Stuart possibly think production would start climbing in 2009? There will likely not be any wildcat wells drilled for two or three years.

Again, I am shocked beyond words. How could a peak oiler like Stuart post such crap?

Ron P.

Maybe he actually thought about this a bit, which is something novel we could all do more of to avoid being so shocked when someone actually does it.

Note that he qualified it by saying it needs to be considered as a possibility, not that it is absolutely cast in stone.

Maybe he actually thought about this a bit, which is something novel we could all do more of to avoid being so shocked when someone actually does it.

Well, I don't think he is doing that. He seems to be getting his advice from news reports.

Indeed, initially I was sceptical that the country could physically export anything like that much oil any time soon -- present export capacity is only a few million barrels/day -- but plans are in progress to address that. According to a recent Dow Jones story Iraq Has "Master Plan" To Boost Oil Exports - Oil Min:

Then he quotes the Iraqi Oil Minister. Don't get me wrong, the story is very articulate but the sources are suspect. Does he really put any credence in what the Iraqi Oil Minister says?

Oh, I forgot, we have already had that discussion and apparently a lot of folks believe everything he says. Those same folks also believe OPEC had proven oil reserves of 1,027,383 million barrels of crude oil, representing 79.3 per cent of the world total of 1,295,085 million barrels.

And, according to the announced data, reproduced by Stuart, Rumaila, which currently has a decline rate of 6.1 percent, will plateau at 2.85 million barrels per day, over half of what Ghawar is producing right now. And that from a reported 17 billion barrels of reserves for the field.

And even more remarkable, West Qurna Ph I, which has a decline rate of 9.8% will produce 2.33 mb/d from only 8.7 billion barrels of reserves.

NO, I just do not believe it.

Edit: Oh God, I just realized something. I was originally under the impression that all this new oil would come undeveloped fields. New fields that had not produced anything before. That is why I mentioned, in the above post, that they had not even drilled any wildcat wells yet. No, I was wrong! They plan on getting it all from their tired old fields that are already declining, on average, by over 6 percent. They plan on getting it all by using superstraws!

Ron P.

"They plan on getting it all by using superstraws!"

Which might not be physically impossible ... for a time anyway.

Those are depletion rates in Stuart's article, not declines. BP, CNPC face uphill climb to triple output from Rumaila field - GLG News

Around 1980, production rate was greatly increased to 1.3 million bbl/day but it was impossible to maintain. The problem with the field today is that massive water encroachment from both eastern and western flanks have sharply reduced the potential of the field. With solution gas drive fields, production can be increased with horizontal drilling along the bottom of the reservoir, below the secondary gas cap. In Rumaila, water has advanced up structure to the point where it appears that this will always be a problem. Modern completion technology has resulted in production rates that seem almost miraculous. But limits always exist. The 2008 study shows that production rate in the mid-1990s was around 350,000 bbl/day rate. Since then, production has been erratic as a result of the disorder in Iraq. From the data, it appears that getting up to 2.85 million bbl/day is a herculean task. But maybe new technology will come to the rescue.

Question: Just how does one determine the depletion rate? I know that the decline rate is very easy to determine, it is just how much less you are producing this year than last year. But depletion rate is a very different thing altogether.

My point is the two are often confused as in this case:

• Without “maintain potential” drilling to make up for production,
Saudi oil fields would have a natural decline rate of a hypothetical
8%. As Saudi Aramco has an extensive drilling program with a
budget running in the billions of dollars, this decline is mitigated to
a number close to 2%.
• These depletion rates are well below industry averages, due
primarily to enhanced recovery technologies and successful
“maintain potential” drilling operations.
Saudi Arabia’s Strategic Energy Initiative

There is simply no way of determining the depletion rate of a field. All you can possibly know is the decline rate. Therefore I assumed that they were confusing the two as inthe case above.

At any rate if it is truly the depletion rate, then that makes it much worse. That is if the depletion rate is above 6 percent while they are pumping about 2.4 million barrels per day then just imagine what the depletion rate would be if they were pumping 12 million barrels per day. It would be five times as great or 35 percent per year. They would be bone dry in just a few years.

From the data, it appears that getting up to 2.85 million bbl/day is a herculean task. But maybe new technology will come to the rescue.

Yeah right. Horizontal drilling and MRC will come to the resuce. They will suck the cream right off the top of the reservoir. Will that create more oil? No, it will only dramatically increase the depletion rate. Saudi managed to get their decline rates down from 8 percent to 2 percent with such methods. That means they did not increase production, it still declined but at a slower rate. And of course the depletion rate increased. And that means that eventually the decline rate must increase dramatically.

Ron P.

Annual Production/Yet to Produce. The rates in Stuart's table would be at the plateau targets; as it stands, according to the data in the Michael C Lynch article I linked to, at 650 kb/d and 17 bbo the depletion rate for Rumailia is 1.4% at the moment. If they think they can ramp up overnight they get 16 years of output, an eternity in this business. Presumably the majors will be able to increase URR, Bob's your uncle, sunshine and roses. Or they'll find more fields by and by. I linked in the comments on Stuart's blog to a database I've built up of field discoveries as tallied by IHS and printed by the AAPG, if you're interested.

I do agree that the attitude on display here isn't geared long term, but that's nothing new. Also these fields have been through a lot; I provided some juicy info for Stuart to peruse on that score. His analysis of the geopolitical situation in Iraq was very welcome, too.

Not all of it will be from existing fields, but certainly most.

Related to the topic of Stuart's thought*, he quotes this:

Mr. Shahristani fired 250 members of the ministry's security staff thought to be militia members, and replaced top security officials with people he trusted. He turned over evidence of wrongdoing to the ministry's inspector general, and fired or transferred those suspected of malfeasance.

"Before, there was lots of interference in the ministry from political blocs, but he got rid of all that," says Abdul Mahdy al-Ameedi, head of the ministry's contracts department.

The purge stirred resentment. Some employees claimed they were wrongly targeted. Others accused Mr. Shahristani of being too by-the-book...

As a systems thinker, Stuart will be aware of "policy resistance" -- the system "likes" the way it is, and acts to return to its normal state when someone tries to push it somewhere. "[Mr Shahristani] got rid of all that"--? We won't know for sure until a decade or two have passed. Patronage/nepotism is deeply entrenched in most of the world, and it's particularly resistant to being removed.

Of course, systems do change from time to time, and maybe Mr Shahristani has merely triggered a pent-up change. But from the quote, it doesn't seem like it.

The quote shows only one of the system norms that is being disturbed here. Others include Iraq's geopolitical and economic role, and the nature of oil-field contracts taken by IOCs and quasi-IOCs (like Statoil and Lukoil).

My point is that there is more reason to expect failure (to reach 12 MM BPD, or even 10) than there might appear to be from a traditional risk analysis.

*Sorry, Stuart, I'm using you to introduce the topic. No ad-hominem intended.

Re Nitrogen Deficit to Worsen Warming, here's some more grim nitrogen news:

Scientists at climate talks: ‘The nitrogen cycle is changing faster than that of any other element’

"The effects of reactive nitrogen are not limited to a single medium. A single molecule of reactive nitrogen may transition through many forms -- ammonia, nitrogen oxide, nitric acid, nitrate and organic nitrogen -- and may successively lead to a number of environmental, health and social impacts, including contributing to higher levels of ozone in the lower atmosphere."

Graph of the Day: Response of Nitrogen Emissions and Soil Respiration to Increasing Temperature

The conditions that promote abiotic N gas loss from desert soils also inhibit N fixation (31), the dominant N input to arid regions. Future environmental shifts will therefore probably disrupt natural N dynamics by unbalancing rates of N inputs and losses, gradually reinforcing N limitations in arid environments.

Thanks for posting that, we hardly need more bad news but we desperately need to know what damage BAU is doing.

From the linked story uptop:

The researcher's results indicate that global warming has been underestimated. In the worst-case scenario, they found that nearly 300 billion tons of carbon could stay aloft in our atmosphere between 1900 and 2100 because of plants' lack of access to nitrogen -- enough to warm the planet an additional 1.19 degrees centigrade (2.14 degrees Fahrenheit)

Well damn.

Humanity's carbon-belching habit is a feast for plants, which consume the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) as they grow. But they also need nitrogen, and, according to a new study, as rising carbon levels fuel more plant growth in the coming decades, Earth's hungry greenery is going to start running low on nitrogen.
That could leave billions of tons of excess carbon in the atmosphere that would warm the climate an additional 1.19 degrees Centigrade (2.14 degrees Fahrenheit) above current estimates by the year 2100.

Nitrogen makes up over 70 percent of our atmosphere, but it's mostly locked away in a chemical bond that plants can't crack. They depend on a few types of nitrogen-fixing plants, which employ soil-dwelling bacteria to convert the nutrient into more usable forms. Outside of agricultural lands, where humans sew fertilizer into the soils, plant growth is mostly limited by whatever nitrogen nature provides.

It's late in a long day here, and I'm just checking this before bed. Not to be dense, but I'll bite, what exactly are they saying here? Is it that plants will fix less carbon when manmade ammonia fertilizer becomes more scarce? Or that nitrogen-fixing bacteria can't keep pace with increased CO2 and plants will thus be less of a carbon sink than models have assumed?

An extra degree C could be game-over for getting into irreversible positive feedback territory. Just what we needed....

They're saying that it doesn't matter how much "Food For Plants" we dump into the atmosphere, some other limitation will eventually kick in to limit growth. In this case, free Nitrogen.

National Grid Issues Gas Supply Balancing Alert

LONDON (Dow Jones)--A surge in demand for U.K natural gas amid forecasts of prolonged freezing weather across the country and tighter supply from continental Europe prompted grid operator National Grid PLC (NGG) to issue a Gas Balancing Alert to the market by e-mail Monday.

Gas Balancing Alerts are triggered when gas demand outstrips supply. It serves as a warning to gas shippers that measures may need to be taken to curb demand.

Prompt U.K. prices softened in response and within-day gas prices traded at 44 pence a therm by 1600 GMT, down from 48p/therm earlier in the day and about 34p/therm at the end of last week for Monday delivery.

National Grid told Dow Jones Newswires it was reviewing whether to issue a GBA for Tuesday. It said supplies of gas to the U.K. immediately increased following Monday's GBA, with extra supplies of gas coming mainly from the liquefied natural gas importation terminal on the Isle of Grain in Kent in southeast England, through the Langeled pipeline from Norway and through the gas interconnector with Belgium, which traders said is currently importing 7 million cubic meters of gas a day.

It remains very cold in the UK. There was an "insufficient margin" warning on the electricity grid as well a couple of weeks ago as well but a GBA gas alert is more worrying (and very infrequent - several years since the last one). And it is not forecast to warm up any time in the next week either...

It also is totally at odds with the published data for UK gas reserve:


something is definitely fishy....?

I don't think it was as much as a reserve problem as such but a total flow rate problem. Storage was being drained at maximum capacity but it wasn't enough to plug the gap on it's own. However if we keep drawing down storage at maximum then there will be even bigger problems soon.

Had the recession not cut back some industrial demand then the projected shortfall would have been even greater. We are within about 2 mcm of calling a GBA for tomorrow according to the National Grid site. Forecast demand tomorrow is currently 447 mcm with a GBA trigger of 449mcm so is is quite possible there will be another called tomorrow.

See http://marketinformation.natgrid.co.uk/gas/frmPrevalingView.aspx

I believe the campaigned against Kingsnorth coal plant was knobbled on Sunday:


accidents[?] happen...

There was an "insufficient margin" warning on the electricity grid

Can you provide a link for where you saw this please? The NETA warnings page does not show it.



Apologies, I misread the date. There has not been an electrical grid margin warning since 2009-1-15 (I read it as 2009-12-15; the Gas GBA was today though). Still I'm sure they'll be plenty of these to come if we run out of natural gas... Wish it would warm up as it's getting to be very annoying in Scotland right now.

Regarding the post on the World Food Crisis (On The Way To Copenhagen We Added A World Food Crisis) http://www.opednews.com/articles/On-The-Way-To-Copenhagen-W-by-Robert-Pa...

I don't see any comments on what may be the s##t that hits the fan first. The article links to this story http://www.marketskeptics.com/2009/12/2010-food-crisis-for-dummies.html

If his analysis is correct food will hit before anything else as a destablizer of the world economy and will hit rather soon. He notes

It is absolutely key to understand that the production of agricultural goods is a fixed, once a year cycle (or twice a year in the case of double crops). The wheat, corn, soybeans and other food staples are harvested in the fall/spring and then that is it for production. It doesn’t matter how high prices go or how desperate people get, no new supply can be brought online until the next harvest at the earliest. The supply must last until the next harvest, which is why it is critical that food is correctly priced to avoid overconsumption, otherwise food shortages occur.

The USDA—by manufacturing the data needed to keep supply and demand in balance—has ensured that agricultural commodities are incorrectly priced, which has lead to overconsumption and has guaranteed disaster next year when supplies run out.

In other words the flow rate of food is crucial and even more delimited by time than oil as it basically flows for a few months once or twice a year.

I would like to see others comment on this subject. I have forwarded it to a friend in the food production industry in the Midwest and will share any comments I receive back

I don't see the problem that the market skeptic sees.


The spot price for soybeans is a little over $10

The march soybeans are @ $10.58
while the next quotes are about $1.00/month higher not lower. This is pretty typical storage + interest costs for a $10 to $12 product.

If that major part of the argument fails, then the rest of the food/dollar collapse must be taken much lighter. I certainly wouldn't say that the world will not lose it's love of the dollar for many reasons other than food. Ben with his printing press is more worrysome.

The midwest farmer has a way to just somehow get a crop out of the ground and get it dried year after year ... it may not be too nice for climate change or NG/LPG use but it will get done and somehow they will get a crop in the ground next year. After all, some of them even have college educations.

I am not sure what you are saying Lynford. Are you saying that the spot price for soybeans is higher than last year or are you only saying that it is higher next month? If it is normal to be higher each month past harvest then that doesn't discount his point. His point would be that the USDA is giving false information which is setting the price month to month in a normal way when he is saying it should be way higher. It looks like this March spot price is higher than last March price by about a dollar http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Minnesota/Publications/Annu... That might indicate that he is wrong. But it could indicate that bidders already don't totally trust the USDA as they can read reports about harvests too. The question is is it enough higher to drop consumption enough to prevent shortages?
I don't trade stocks of any sorts so I don't really understand all the ins and out of spot prices etc. However I do garden and I know that bad weather reduces crops, once the crop is in that is it for the year and I don't think anyone labels county disaster areas unless they really fit the bill. We shall see eh?

He wrote:

Normally food prices should have already shot higher months ago, leading to lower food consumption and bringing the global food supply/demand situation back into balance. This never happened because the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), instead of adjusting production estimates down to reflect decreased production, adjusted estimates upwards to match increasing demand from china. In this way, the USDA has brought supply and demand back into balance (on paper) and temporarily delayed a rise in food prices by ensuring a catastrophe in 2010


If you've ready my posts, you know I'm concerned about global warming, and along with that there is a concern for that scenario starting a new ice age.

This article made me wonder if the thermohaline ocean circulation has changed to its ice age mode temporarily or even possibly for the long haul. It's at least a reasonable possibility, whether it is happening now or occurs later.

With all the fresh water entering the arctic waters from Siberian rivers, melting older Arctic ice and Greenland, there have been reports in recent years of the thermohaline slowing and even stopping for a few days. In any case, there sure seems like a lot of unusually cold weather right now at the top of the world, not that its unusual at this time of year, but this does seem above the norm in global warming times.

Haven't read much about the thermohaline theory for a while. Here is an article from 2004:

The Pentagon's Weather Nightmare The climate could change radically, and fast. That would be the mother of all national security issues.

The threat that has riveted their attention is this: Global warming, rather than causing gradual, centuries-spanning change, may be pushing the climate to a tipping point. Growing evidence suggests the ocean-atmosphere system that controls the world's climate can lurch from one state to another in less than a decade--like a canoe that's gradually tilted until suddenly it flips over. Scientists don't know how close the system is to a critical threshold. But abrupt climate change may well occur in the not-too-distant future. If it does, the need to rapidly adapt may overwhelm many societies--thereby upsetting the geopolitical balance of power. Though triggered by warming, such change would probably cause cooling in the Northern Hemisphere, leading to longer, harsher winters in much of the U.S. and Europe. . . Climate researchers began getting seriously concerned about it a decade ago, after studying temperature indicators embedded in ancient layers of Arctic ice. The data show that a number of dramatic shifts in average temperature took place in the past with shocking speed--in some cases, just a few years.

The case for angst was buttressed by a theory regarded as the most likely explanation for the abrupt changes. The eastern U.S. and northern Europe, it seems, are warmed by a huge Atlantic Ocean current that flows north from the tropics--that's why Britain, at Labrador's latitude, is relatively temperate. Pumping out warm, moist air, this "great conveyor" current gets cooler and denser as it moves north. That causes the current to sink in the North Atlantic, where it heads south again in the ocean depths. The sinking process draws more water from the south, keeping the roughly circular current on the go. But when the climate warms, according to the theory, fresh water from melting Arctic glaciers flows into the North Atlantic, lowering the current's salinity--and its density and tendency to sink. A warmer climate also increases rainfall and runoff into the current, further lowering its saltiness. As a result, the conveyor loses its main motive force and can rapidly collapse, turning off the huge heat pump and altering the climate over much of the Northern Hemisphere.

I'm concerned about global warming, and along with that there is a concern for that scenario starting a new ice age. This article made me wonder if the thermohaline ocean circulation has changed to its ice age mode temporarily or even possibly for the long haul.

My reading of current consensus is that THC shutdown isn't considered one of the major problems associated with global warming. For example, see this overview from 2006:

"the notion that [a future change in the themohaline circulation] may trigger a mini ice age is a myth". The evidence of previous changes for instance at the Younger Dryas or during the 8.2 kyr event is quite strong, and significant coolings were observed particular around the North Atlantic, but even such localised coolings are not predicted to occur if the circulation slows as an effect of global warming.

It is however a complicated business, and the stability of this circulation depends on many aspects of climate that are poorly observed and uncertainly modelled.

Additionally, there's a lot of confusion about what exactly we mean when we're talking about these flows, nicely summarized here.

Since the winds will continue to blow and the Earth continue to turn, does this mean that there can’t be any changes to the MOC? Emphatically no. The circulation may well derive its energy from the winds and tides, but it is heavily steered by density contrasts and the stratification of the ocean (witness the difference between the North Pacific and the North Atlantic). Changes in that modulation can have profound effects on the currents, and in particular, additions of fresh water from massive lake drainages (i.e., the 8.2 kyr event) or ice sheet collapses (the Heinrich events) most likely caused severe slowdowns or shutdowns of the MOC in the past.

I did a quick Google Scholar search and came up with this recent paper:

An Integrated Assessment of changes in the thermohaline circulation

This paper discusses the risks of a shutdown of the thermohaline circulation (THC) for the climate system, for ecosystems in and around the North Atlantic as well as for fisheries and agriculture by way of an Integrated Assessment. The climate model simulations are based on greenhouse gas scenarios for the 21st century and beyond. A shutdown of the THC, complete by 2150, is triggered if increased freshwater input from inland ice melt or enhanced runoff is assumed. The shutdown retards the greenhouse gas-induced atmospheric warming trend in the Northern Hemisphere, but does not lead to a persistent net cooling. ...

There could be lots of other dire effects from a THC/MOC shutdown, though. It's a fascinating and vital area of research, for sure.

Here's a link to a pre-print of the paper by Kuhlbrodt et al., "An Integrated Assessment of changes in the thermohaline circulation". Most models predict that the THC will weaken or shutdown as AGW increases. Also, there has been evidence of a claimed temporal variation in the AMOC, (which isn't exactly the same as the THC).

As for the THC possibly weakening with a result being the present cold blasts, consider that this may have happened back in the late 1970's to the early 1980's. Measurements indicated that the THC had stopped in the Greenland Sea. That may have been the result of The Great Salinity Anomaly, which appeared in the Labrador Sea and then was tracked around the North Atlantic Sub Polar Gyre over a number of years. It's interesting that the latest cold blast over the Eastern US has been compared to that back in 1997. Here's a link to a commentary about that from the WHOI back in 1996.

I just found that there's a new article about the THC by Hofmann and Rahmstorf which appeared in the PNAS, published 8 December. Time for some more reading to catch up on the latest...

E. Swanson

Thanks for the interesting links E. Swanson.

As for the THC possibly weakening with a result being the present cold blasts, consider that this may have happened back in the late 1970's to the early 1980's. Measurements indicated that the THC had stopped in the Greenland Sea.

I read that recently, and just happened to be in England in 1979 trying to take a train to Aberdeen, Scotland to work on the offshore rigs. It was the coldest winter in several decades and the train connectors kept freezing. The train would stop and it would start getting cold inside the train - ouch! I just wanted to sleep!

I'm sure the conveyor can slow or even stop for periods of time, then start moving again. If the salinity is reduced from meltwater, then the flow should slow or stop (proven dynamic) and the weather in Europe get much colder. We won't know for sure until it's verified, but it's a distinct possibility.

This article from Jeff Masters' Wunder Blog might also explain why this winter is cold http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1398&...

The dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice in recent years has created a fundamental new change in the atmospheric circulation in the Northern Hemisphere that has sped up sea ice loss and is affecting fall and winter weather across most of the Northern Hemisphere, according to several recent studies. Arctic sea ice loss peaks in September and October, exposing a large area of open water that heats the air above it. This extra heat has helped drive September - November air temperatures in the Arctic to 1°C (1.8°F) or more above average over about half of the depth of the lower atmosphere (Figure 1). This deep layer of warm air has grown less dense and expanded, pushing the top of the troposphere (the lower atmosphere) higher. The result has been a decrease in the pressure gradient (the difference in pressure) between the North Pole and mid-latitudes. With not as much difference in pressure to try and equalize, the jet stream has slowed down in the Arctic, creating a major change in the atmospheric circulation for the Northern Hemisphere.


Francis et al. (2009) found that during 1979 - 2006, years that had unusually low summertime Arctic sea had a 10 - 20% reduction in the temperature difference between the Equator and North Pole. This resulted in a weaker jet stream with slower winds that lasted a full six months, through fall and winter. The weaker jet caused a weaker Aleutian Low and Icelandic Low during the winter, resulting in a more negative North Atlantic Oscillation--a pattern that usually brings reduced winter precipitation over Alaska and Northern Europe and increased precipitation over Southern Europe. A more negative NAO also tends to bring cold winters to eastern North America and Europe. Though it was not mentioned in the article, reduced Arctic sea ice may also cause dry early winter conditions in the U.S. and the Caribbean (Figure 3). The authors noted that strong La Niña or El Niño events can have a much larger influence on the wintertime atmospheric circulation, which will overshadow the changes due to Arctic sea ice loss.

"the notion that [a future change in the themohaline circulation] may trigger a mini ice age is a myth".

A shutdown of the THC, complete by 2150, is triggered if increased freshwater input from inland ice melt or enhanced runoff is assumed.

808, aren't those contradictory statements? See Black Dog's post, which describes an event in the 70's/80's of a reduction in the conveyor and resulting lower temps. in Europe. It's a pretty well established dynamic that reduced salinity due to freshwater melt can slow or stop the conveyor. But just as it occurred in the event above, it may not be permanent. It's just a possibility to look at when the entire northern area of the Earth is freezing bones cold.

808, aren't those contradictory statements?

Possibly, but if I understand the claim correctly, the deep circulation is not driven by density/salinity changes, but instead by tides and wind, i.e., it's not a heat engine. Following this argument, at worst we experience a local cooling if the circulation gets all messed up in the N. Atlantic, but this isn't a global effect and so won't cause an ice age.

I don't know enough to take a position, but I find the whole subject endlessly fascinating.

I think any effects of changes in deep circulation will take decades before they are reflected in the weather (i.e. the water temperature anomalies can't effect weather until they affect the surface water temps).

As has been mentioned above, the rapid shutdowns seen after the end of the ice age are very likely to be the result of the release of massive glacially dammed lakes. It isn't thought that we have any of those today, so that mechanism (for rapid climate change) isn't available.

My understanding is that the THC sinking is the direct result of the cooling of relatively dense waters at high latitudes. There's no sinking at warmer latitudes, only up welling from below, which is related to wind forces. In the Nordic Seas, the seasonal cooling causes the waters at the surface to become more dense than those below, thus the sinking begins. In the higher latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere, the annual cycle of sea-ice around Antarctica causes brine rejection, which results in denser water which sinks below the sea-ice. These process happen only during winter and the result is that the deep waters of all the Earth's oceans are very cold, near 0 Celsius.

Local cooling around the North Atlantic would imply more snow cover, which would tend to amplify the cooling by reflecting more sunlight while the ground is covered by snow and ice. Colder water on the surface could also freeze if it were no longer able to sink before reaching freezing conditions, adding to the area of sea-ice over the Nordic Seas. Also, cooler water in the Nordic Seas and the North Atlantic would change the weather patterns as the jet streams would tend to be displaced toward the South.

I have been watching the satellite data over the North Atlantic of late. There's been a persistent southward flow from the Nordic Seas, which has blocked the northward flow of warm air originating further south from reaching the higher latitudes near England. England has seen rather cold conditions in recent weeks, perhaps due to this blocking flow. Curiously, some of the blocked flow of warmer air has turned back toward the west, the result being storms moving into the Labrador Sea from the Atlantic. I'm not a meteorologist, so I can't begin to say whether this is different from the usual patterns at this time of the year. Still, it does make one wounder...

E. Swanson

The danger of the thermohaline slowing even more or stopping will probably be fairly regional, affecting primarily the North Atlantic. I imagine the longer it persists the more likely it is that the effects might become broader. However, unless that slowdown also somehow sucks carbon out of the air, the overall long term trend should continue upwards, just as it did with the Younger Dryas and Little Ice Age.


As far as the 'Unintended hazards of LED traffic lights' are concerned, I suppose a cheap fix (considering the apparent rarity of this happening) would be for the traffic department to have a couple little rigs they could keep on a truck or plow that can be like a hot water squirtgun to clean up the occasional offending light. Of course, you could also just leave an incandescent in the fixture that gets fired up when the weather is bad.. but that's a lot of lights to refit and add a wire to.

Here's the other side of the equation..

The energy savings of LED lights can be huge. Assume that a traffic light uses 100-watt bulbs today. The light is on 24 hours a day, so it uses 2.4 kilowatt-hours per day. If you assume power costs 8 cents per kilowatt-hour, it means that one traffic signal costs about 20 cents a day to operate, or about $73 per year. There are perhaps eight signals per intersection, so that's almost $600 per year in power per intersection. A big city has thousands of intersections, so it can cost millions of dollars just to power all the traffic lights. LED bulbs might consume 15 or 20 watts instead of 100, so the power consumption drops by a factor of five or six. A city can easily save a million dollars a year by replacing all of the bulbs with LED units. These low-energy bulbs also open the possibility of using solar panels instead of running an electrical line, which saves money in remote areas.

http://auto.howstuffworks.com/car-driving-safety/safety-regulatory-devic... (though I didn't look around to confirm the LED wattage, though this item from American Science is a surplus WALK/DON'T WALK sign that only draws 7.5 watts. http://www.sciplus.com/category.cfm/subsection/15/category/147

Meanwhile, the cars passing by these lights are running at around 10 horsepower on average, or 7.5KW. Each and every one. Given that traffic lights are generally in traffic-dense areas, I suspect their power drain is a drop in the bucket compared to that of the traffic they manage.

But it's two different buckets. It's great that the cities are interested in saving some money. Their buckets are hurting. Later, those lights may do just fine in managing bike and ebike traffic, too.

Of course in a city like mine, we are often making fairly short hops, as opposed to people who are driving all over the place between far-flung towns. The difference might be fairly similar to the difference between LED lights and Incandescents..

As a completely newbie comment, I'd be looking to see if there's a better "cowling" design. Obviously there's a need to stop the lights being visible from the wrong lane, but picture in the looks like it surrounds much more of the light than it actually needs to and stops a lot of the rain/snow falling off immediatley.

I would think so as well. Maybe even just squared off at the sides, so there's nothing under to 'shelve' on.

I also wonder if the optics of LED's might not allow for a different solution to the sun glare that made those shades get installed in the first place.. possibly a molded faceplate with the front panel angled in instead of tucked under a 'porch roof'.

I do just get tweaked by the context or setup of these articles sometimes when they seem to be going 'Nyah, nyah, you thought you'd make it better, and you just messed everything up, didn't you?' It's a new design problem, and does a lot to illustrate just how much wasted energy we've been surrounded by. In this case, it was helpful (in winter storms), and yet was just blindly lost energy all the rest of the time, as we have so many other examples of..

There is a ridiculously easy solution to the problem:

Retrofit the lights with chrome-nickel heating elements and some control circuitry. Turn them on after snow storms.

So much money goes into maintaining the reliability and synchronization of traffic lights, that this oversight flabbergasts me.

Hi Bob,

According to one Manitoba Hydro study, the potential energy savings are closer to 90 per cent.

See: http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/residential/business/ready-articles/traffic_signa...

With regards to snow accumulation, the report notes that [i]n low ambient light conditions, the LED signals remain acceptably visible, even with substantial snow cover, so that's partial good news. Where weather conditions warrant, signals in high volume intersections or in areas where snow accumulation is more likely to occur could be equipped with an on demand defrosting system; e.g., defrosting wires could be embedded in signal lenses similar to those found in the rear window of most vehicles. The defrosting circuit could be activated by a sensor that detects snow buildup or by a signal issued by the city's traffic control centre.

One other thing... I've always understood that if you approach an intersection where the traffic signals are not working (or, in this case, the signals are not visible due to snow accumulation), you're obliged to treat it as a four-way stop. Without knowing the particulars of the specific accident cited, I have to believe some of the blame rests with the driver.


I would tend to believe that the savings is pretty high with the LEDS, since the color ones are only generating light energy at that one discreet wavelength.. unlike an already wasteful heated filament, whose light then has to be squished through a color filter.

I can't help but hear part of the message being the snippy shadenfreude that has to yip and ruff anytime something newfangled and yet soberly responsible is attempted. We're a culture that REALLY hates goody-goodys..

Hi Bob,

If you scan through the comments posted to various online articles related to energy and AGW, you get a pretty good sense of what you speak.

The flip side to this story is that LEDs offer much longer service life and this can potentially reduce the risk of accident and injury arising from lamp failure (a standard incandescent signal lamp has a nominal service life of 6,000 or 8,000 hours whereas its LED counterpart would likely last 50,000 hours or more). Also, when an incandescent lamp fails, the signal goes completely dark; in the case of an LED lamp, failure can occur gradually over an extended period of time, as individual diodes fail one by one. The latter is preferable from a safety point of view.


I don't keep up with links but I read a short study done by some city engineer a while back that makes it clear that led traffic lights are the only way to go-the savings in fuel and mileage on city trucks plus thier crews servicing leds versus conventional lights are enormous and actually exceed the savings in electricity, which are in themselves enormous.

Adding a heater element to lights installed in snow country will be a trivial expense in comparision to the savings.


You raise an excellent point. Standard practice around here is to have two bucket trucks in place (with engines running) whenever traffic signals are serviced -- one to do the physical work and the second positioned a few metres back to block the lane (it seems traffic cones, in themselves, are not sufficient to protect work crews from idiot drivers). An annual maintenance contract with an outside labour provider can be in the order of $1,500.00 or more per year, per intersection. If re-lamping cycles can be extended from once every year to once every five years, say, the dollars savings quickly add up.

Also, whenever a lane or intersection is blocked due to signal maintenance and vehicles must merge into an adjoining lane, the risk of accident and injury increases dramatically and more fuel is wasted as normal traffic slows.


So the "cans" around the lights should just have an open bottom...

Just have upside-down U around the light for glare and "blinders".


Edit: Oh, except the top of the can on the next light below might let the snow stack up over the top lights... So I guess you need to configure them sideways as well?

Hi Enzwell,

It's not quite as simple as that. Under certain conditions, you get a wet, "sticky" snow that pastes itself on pretty much anything it comes into contact. And you'll find the shrouds around traffic signals are open at the bottom so that leaves and other debris won't collect.


Hi Paul,

Hmm, well around here (west coast) I don't remember seeing any open at the bottom. 'Course we don't have snow, but we do have leaves, which I've never seen build up in a 'shroud'. (And, I've only seen snow on a few ski vacations, so I'm making this up as I go. :)

Of course, LEDs do emit SOME heat. Maybe they just need to vent them around the front instead of the back?

Hi Enzwell,

I guess this varies by jurisdiction but, for example, the specifications for traffic signal visors for the Texas DOT are as follows:

The visor on the front of each door must:

• Be circular in section
• Have a downward tilt of 2° to 8° relative to the perpendicular plane of the housing door
• Encompass approximately 300° of the lens
• Extend outward from the face of the lens a minimum of 9-1/2 in.
• Be of such design that the encircled portion of the lens will not be visible in the profile view of the traffic signal face
• Be open at the bottom so as to prevent the accumulation of snow and dirt

Source: ftp://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-info/cst/DMS/11000_series/pdfs/11120...

The Oregon DOT specifications for signal visors call for open bottoms as well, as noted below:

(d) Visors - Construct visors of sheet aluminum alloy 3003-H16 (ASTM B 209), nominal thickness
16 gauge. Visors shall be of one-piece construction and attach to the signal housing doors with
Type 304 or 316 stainless steel screws. Provide 8 inch lenses with a 7 inch visor and 12 inch lenses
with a 9 1/2 inch visor. Signal housing doors, with visors attached, shall be capable of being opened
a minimum of 90 degrees. Use tunnel visors on all vehicular signal indications with the bottom
portion open, so the sections light output is visible directly in front of and below the signal head.

Source: http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/SPECS/docs/08book/08_02000.pdf


Hope someone hits this post. I'll post on the subject again.

Happened to find out about a concept I've been desperately trying to explain.
Turns out of course it was known 1895 :)

Oil is whats called a Giffen Good.


I've been trying to explain this on my own for a while not but I'm not sure if I'm successful.

If I'm correct and given the definition I believe I am then people expecting another price spike are in for a surprise and further more it supports my assertion that artificial scarcity then oversupply played a big role in the recent price swings whit intrinsic demand not varying greatly.

The article does not go into it but if you consider that a Giffen good actually thats naturally constrained i.e price rises but supply does not curtailing real demand demand=supply then if this pressure is erased i.e it becomes plentiful then prices should collapse.

In their bread example bread prices increase so the poor choose to give up on more expensive foods and eat more bread even though its price is rising. If the supply of bread is actually declining then obviously they cannot eat more so they simply give up on other foods and try in buy more bread sending the price even higher. Now if there is and artificial scaricity on top i.e bread production is being kept artificially low and then the market is flooded it seems obvious that prices collapse rapidly.

In the case of bread demand drops as they spend more on other foods lowering demand for bread even as supplies increase. Prices are wiped out.

In the case of oil the second punch of the financial crises acted as the alternative i.e evaporating demand for oil as people did not have the money to buy oil i.e the actually conserved some as they lost their jobs. This can be a small number but does not matter any weakening in demand as suply is ample really crashes prices.

Lets say demand for oil at 100 was 10 and real supply was for 9 then oil dropped to 50 to supply 10 and demand dropped to 9 and supply was temporarily able to handle 11 this dropped oil all the way to 25 not the 50 equilibrium price. From here lets say demand slowly rose back to 10 well prices are whacked so they will trail the tightening of the system. Assume now that fundamental supply was really 9 not 10 i.e long term it can only supply 9 then 8 etc. Well to artificially spike it if your only able to long term supply 9 and demand is at 10 you have to cut to 8 well this causes a HUGE differential to develop
leading to a mondo price spike If you don't try and surge then you still get the spike its just its not a spike but real fundamental increases.

Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

So, based on the definition of a Giffen good, (In order to be a true Giffen good, price must be the only thing that changes to get a change in quantity demand), and your premise that oil is a Giffen good, one must deduce that an increase in price (let's say the spike in 2008) could not have been caused by increased demand. If increased demand wasn't the cause of decreased supply (and then higher prices), then the only remaining possibility is that supply was being artificially constrained.

That begs the question of why was supply being constrained? Am I right to assume that the spike was initiated because the designers of this plan thought that oil would follow the law of demand, and that the higher price would lower demand for oil? (when in reality it forced consumers to cut back elsewhere* to continue consuming oil because the intrinsic demand remained the same and supply was tightened - or in other words the price was increased?)

If this is the case, the cutbacks elsewhere would presumably be payments on debt, right? Logically, if there is a (by definition) intrinsic demand for oil, as well as an intrinsic demand for shelter, food, etc... it would make sense for people to cut back on repayment of debt (which for the sake of your argument would be the byproduct of discretionary spending on luxury or "non-intrinsic" things). Therefore the increase in oil prices would have placed unprecedented strain on the financial system, resulting in damage to the economy, which caused 'inadvertent conservation'and therefore increased supplies (which equate to lower prices).

You say "people expecting another price spike are in for a surprise". Is this because, assuming oil is in fact a Giffen good, increased demand will not increase the price, and furthermore that oil suppliers originally intended to decrease demand, therefore they will not attempt to constrain supply now that demand has been lowered (they realized their mistake? Or was this their plan all along?)?

Could it be that oil producers wanted to decrease demand because they foresaw impending supply issues, and wanted to slow/delay the process of resource depletion?

memmel what do you think?

So, based on the definition of a Giffen good, (In order to be a true Giffen good, price must be the only thing that changes to get a change in quantity demand), and your premise that oil is a Giffen good, one must deduce that an increase in price (let's say the spike in 2008) could not have been caused by increased demand.

You cannot compare bread with oil. In this oil-based economy there are no alternatives which can support grow in the way that was happening until 2008. Oil demand was rising until supply hit a plateau. For demand to equal supply oilprices had to rise.

Funds cut US and UK bond holdings

By David Oakley in London and Aline van Duyn in New York

Published: January 4 2010 19:53 | Last updated: January 4 2010 19:53

The world’s biggest investment funds are cutting exposure to US and UK government bonds amid fears that rising public debt and the withdrawal of central bank support for their economies could scupper the global recovery.

The funds fear that a big rise in government bond yields, or interest rates, triggered by market concerns about public finances, could quickly feed through to higher mortgages and business borrowing costs. As yields rise bond prices fall, devaluing the funds’ holdings.

Maybe everyone is hating the first working week of the new decade - a lot of bad news around today.


I've uploaded a new version of my Peak Oil software to my site.

The new features are:

- Hubbert Curves of Saudi-Arabia, Venezuela and Nigeria added.

You can download it over here: http://sokath.sourceforge.net/

LED lights dont melt winter ice and snow. well, when i was young and foolish i used to drive in raging blizzards, real traffic stoppers. after spending 3 hours on the garden state parkway to go
20 miles i gave up on that nonsense. it did take 3 blizzards to temper my wisdom. and...why do we as uhmerikans have to brave the "elephants"? it seems to me that prudence would dictate a safer course, i.e. staying home. and what is the root cause of this problem? profits! corporations demand workers to be present in all sorts of outlandish situations so the criminal elite and O! pressors of the working class can bask in comfort. this reduction in lifestyle i see bantered about on the oil conundrum and elsewhere on the webtubes, i would like to see it discussed using common sense. not only was it very uncomfortable to me personally and lots others stuck in snow storms but a waste of fuel. the many times i didnt go to work during inclement weather never resulted in the collapse of western civilization. now that global warming is in retreat by current events perhaps we can lower our consumption and increase our wisdom at the same time. dont drive in blizzards. stay home with family and friends. only a heel would demand workers to report under such conditions. so i miss a day's pay. i'll just skip a frozen pizza, a six pack and not buy a wide screen television. HEY! i am reducing consumption. let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Hi HB,

Ever been to Buffalo, NY?


I saw this today, seems Thorium fueled fission may be further along than I thought.
India to export Thrium reactors

India has announced intentions to export power reactors to other nations and is developing an advanced design for that purpose.

Maybe some of put Nuclear power geeks can comment?

Your link don't work Enemy. One should always check their link with the "preview" button before posting.

Anyway I copied and pasted your link into google news and still got nothing. And Leanan's link above India's nuclear future said nothing about exporting reactors. I am not a nuclear geek but without being able to read your link I cannot comment.

Ron P.

Try this.

A sign of things to come?

U.S. car ownership shifts into reverse

Americans' infatuation with their cars has endured through booms and busts, but last year something rare happened in the United States: The number of automobiles actually fell.

The size of the U.S. car fleet dropped by a hefty four million vehicles to 246 million, the only large decline since the U.S. Department of Transportation began modern recordkeeping in 1960. Americans bought only 10 million cars – and sent 14 million to the scrapyard.

See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/us-car-ownership-shifts-into-r...


Hi Paul,

I strongly suspect that this trend is only getting started.I first started thinking seriously about it after reading Rubin's book about the world getting smaller.

I live in a relatively poor and depressed part of the country, where earnings have never been high and being somewhat of a mechanic have friends in the auto business.

Older cars that have been maintained as second and third vehicles in this area are being scrapped anytime they need a serious repair.The owners just don't want to , or aren't able to, spend serious money on them anymore-and when they scrap the car without replacing it , they are rid of the insurance and registration fee which together are substantial.

Furthermore many millions of wrecks with good parts such as transmissions, engines, doors and fenders were crushed over the last three or four years because scrap metal in the hand was worth much more than used parts sitting out in the bushes.If you need a used transmission nowadays it may cost three times as much as it did four years ago, and repair labor is apparently still going up too.

A low income person driving a larger, older car can buy a cheap smaller and newer car that is much more fuel efficient and often a little cheaper to insure for little or no more than the price of a transmission job.

A lot of people are just giving up a car they have need of , getting by with one instead of two, because they are short of money-two of my nieghbors have gone this route in order to reduce expenses.

I myself parked a very economical car and a 4by 4 pickup truck in oredr to get rid of the insurance bills-I now drive my third vehicle, a compact pickup truck, almost exclusively.It burns more gas than the car but not enough to wipe out the insurance savings.

If I absolutely must haul something when the roads are really bad, I will hire it hauled or renew the registration on the 4x4, which I can run legally near home on farm business anyway.

My guess is that the car fleet is going to turn over a lot faster than expected.


I suspect you're right. As cars become increasingly more complicated and thus more difficult and expensive to repair, this trend will likely accelerate. Some thirty years ago I blew the transmission on my '77 Royal Monaco wagon (no mean feat given that Chrysler's 727 transmissions were virtually indestructible; suffice to say, it was by my own hand). My car was towed to a small local garage in Saint Jean Port Joli, Québec and a rebuilt unit was installed -- the total cost was $300.00. Today, if the transmission failed on my 300M, I'd be looking at a repair bill of several thousands of dollars at which point I'd have to make some hard decisions.


I have two cars registered (plus two unregistered). One is a 1976 Isuzu/Holden Gemini, and the other is a 1986 Holden Commodore. Two more simple to fix cars you would have a hard time finding. The most complex parts are the carburettors. Plus, being so old, insurance (even Comprehensive) isn't that big of a deal.

I'm thinking about getting rid of one of the unregistered cars, but I know it'll just get wrecked by a teen or someone who just doesn't care, which would be a shame, since it's in almost perfect shape for something that was built in 1976.

The fourth car I'm definately keeping, even if I never run it. It's a piece of history.

I wonder how much of that is "cash for clunkers." Yes, it encouraged people to buy cars...but only if they traded in a car that had to be scrapped. Car dealers are now reporting a shortage of used cars - especially the cheap ones that lower income people, including teens, can afford.

Hi Leanan,

Unless more than one vehicle were traded in for each new car purchased, wouldn't it remain a wash? So, if some 700,000 vehicles were scrapped under the programme, there would be 700,000 new vehicles on the road to take their place? In other words, there should be no net change unless more vehicles were scrapped than sold.


Cyclists crowding roads irk motorists

"I was so mad I could spit," he said. "They're sharing the road with cars going 40 miles per hour or more, and they are spread four or five across, and they won't let cars try to pass."

"Me me me me me! Me! Memememememememememeeeeeeee!" he said.