Drumbeat: January 5, 2010

Chesapeake says NY could drive away gas drillers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Chesapeake Energy has called proposed New York state regulations for the shale gas drilling industry unnecessarily onerous and likely to scare energy companies out of state, depriving New York of badly needed revenue.

"The measures proposed ... will be more burdensome than any of those placed on our industry throughout the United States and will more than adequately ensure that the development of the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation in New York will occur with sufficient environmental safeguards," Chesapeake said in public comments made available to Reuters on Tuesday.

Pump prices on pace to top 2009 high by weekend

The cost of filling up the car is rising in the wake of soaring crude and by this weekend, pump prices will race past the highs for all of 2009.

Tracing the ascension of crude, up 14 percent since mid-December, energy prices across the board are catching up. On Tuesday, benchmark crude prices closed higher than they had on any day last year.

It's part economic and part meteorologic.

Colo. approves 5,100 oil, gas permits in 2009

DENVER -- Colorado approved roughly 5,100 oil and gas drilling permits last year, down from the record 8,027 issued in 2008 before the recession.

TVA hydroelectric dams on for 1st time in 3 years

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) -- The Tennessee Valley Authority is starting the new year with its 29 hydroelectric dams running around the clock for the first time in three years.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports TVA has more water stored in the reservoirs above Chattanooga than at the end of any year since it erected its network of dams in the 1930s and 1940s.

That comes even after 70 days of spilling water through the dams to bring down water levels.

There's so much water that TVA can't capture all the potential energy because it doesn't have the equipment to do so.

Venezuela Aluminum Cuts ‘Shrugged Off’ as Supply Leads Demand

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela’s decision to cut aluminum output to save electricity is being “shrugged off” as global supplies grow faster than demand, said Douglas Horn, a commodity analyst at CPM Group.

“I’ve been surprised that prices haven’t reacted more positively,” Horn said today in a telephone interview from New York. “There is a ton of aluminum supply out there. There’s plenty of cushion.”

Britain must grow more sustainable food, says Benn

Britain must grow more food in a different way to respond to mounting ecological challenges such as climate change, and help provide food for burgeoning world populations, the environment secretary Hilary Benn has told farmers.

"Food security is as important to this country's future wellbeing – and the world's – as energy security. We need to produce more food. We need to do it sustainably. And we need to make sure that what we eat safeguards our health," he said.

Book Review: Prosperity Without Growth - Economics for a Finite Planet

By comparison to The New Economics engagingly light tone, Jackon's book is more of a heavy hitter formed in a serious academic style. Not that this make it inaccessible, the book has received high praise for its reevaluation of how "human society can flourish - within the ecological limits of a finite planet." Its importance for sustainable development has been compared to the Brundtland Report and author Dianne Dumanoski described it thus: "What makes it unthinkable to stop growth even though it is killing us? Tim Jackson boldly confronts the structural Catch-22 that drives this madness and proposes in this lucid, persuasive, and blessedly readable book how we might begin to get off the fast track to self-destruction."

C.I.A. Is Sharing Data With Climate Scientists

The nation’s top scientists and spies are collaborating on an effort to use the federal government’s intelligence assets — including spy satellites and other classified sensors — to assess the hidden complexities of environmental change. They seek insights from natural phenomena like clouds and glaciers, deserts and tropical forests.

The collaboration restarts an effort the Bush administration shut down and has the strong backing of the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. In the last year, as part of the effort, the collaborators have scrutinized images of Arctic sea ice from reconnaissance satellites in an effort to distinguish things like summer melts from climate trends, and they have had images of the ice pack declassified to speed the scientific analysis.

The trove of images is “really useful,” said Norbert Untersteiner, a professor at the University of Washington who specializes in polar ice and is a member of the team of spies and scientists behind the effort.

Saudis keen to address electricity issue

Frequent power cuts in the summer left many Saudis wondering bitterly why the world’s top energy exporter could not supply more electricity to its own people.

They may not have to look too far. In the sweltering summers, as temperatures soar to 50°C, many home owners leave air conditioners running day and night, even when away on holiday. Power cuts follow, hitting mainly poor areas.

Like its oil-rich neighbours, Saudi Arabia struggles to deploy its petrodollars to meet the needs of a growing private sector and an increasing population. The government knows that heavily subsidised services encourage wasteful consumption – but it is loath to act.

Saudi Arabia increases 'light' oil prices for US

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest state owned oil producer, raised the official selling prices for lower sulfur, or “light” oil grades to be exported to US customers in February.

Saudi Aramco also raised prices for all crude types to be shipped to Europe next month and lowered prices for crude oil varieties sent to refiners in Asia, the Dhahran based company said in an emailed statement.

Shaybah pipe add on near complete

Work on expanding a pipeline at Saudi Arabia's Shaybah oilfield will be finished soon, two industry sources said today.

State oil company Saudi Aramco said in June it had completed work on expanding capacity at Shaybah to 750,000 barrels per day from 500,000 bpd.

Nigeria: Widening Scope of Social Unrest

Lagos — It is not an overstatement to note that the country is today in a state of anomie. No part of this nation is spared the social hardship that is currently the lot of the people occasioned by crippling and debilitating fuel shortages. Whether it is Lagos in the South West, Kaduna in the North West or Enugu in the South East, the sad stories of motorists queuing on end at filling stations and travelers getting stranded at motor parks are the same.

The extreme confusions, disorderliness and chaos at various filling stations across the country bear a clear testimony to a looming danger in the land if no urgent and concerted efforts are made by the concerned authorities to squarely address the brewing social crisis. Nigerians are facing real hard times. There are growing and all pervading frustrations, agonies and anger every where.

The End Of Gazprom’s Reign?

Just over 18 months ago, Russia was predicting a bright future for Gazprom, stating that its capitalization would exceed $1 trillion by 2015 and its shares would be trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Today, the story is very different. The company’s net profits fell by nearly half in the first two quarters of 2009, and several factors seriously challenge Gazprom’s continuing reign.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in his annual address to the Federal Assembly in November, called for an end to the economy’s heavily reliance on hydrocarbon sales. Given that the Russian economy has contracted by 10 percent, Medvedev is urging Russia to shift away from raw materials to smaller, sleeker, more technologically efficient sectors.

Pemex Output May Rise After Seven Years of Decline

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos may see crude output rise in 2011 after seven years of plunging output, the state-owned oil company said in a presentation.

Pemex, as the Mexico City-based company is known, may produce 2.55 million barrels a day next year, up 50,000 barrels from the forecast for 2010, Carlos Morales, head of exploration and production, said in a presentation on the company’s Web site dated Dec. 1.

Coal trips India’s electric car revolution

“Our problem in India is electricity,” Maruti Suzuki Chairman R.C. Bhargava told the Hindustan Times. “If you don’t have electricity, and if your electricity anyway comes from coal, I am wondering, what objective that (electric vehicles) would meet?”

State grid sees tight time for power supplies

THE State Grid Corp of China, which supplies power to more than 1 billion people, has warned that a national electricity shortage may worsen.

It said thermal-coal stockpiles were falling amid the delay in deliveries caused by bad weather.

By last Monday, the State Grid, the larger of the nation's two major power distributors, had 8.94 million tons of thermal coal in stock, only enough for 10 days, China Business News reported yesterday.

For Cape Cod Wind Farm, New Hurdle Is Spiritual

BOSTON — In a new setback for a controversial wind farm proposed off Cape Cod, the National Park Service announced Monday that Nantucket Sound was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, guaranteeing further delays for the project.

US shipment of solar modules jumps 13-fold in less than a decade

Annual industry data released by the Department of Energy show that shipments of PV in 2008 reached 986,504 kW, comprised of 586,558 kW of imports and 462,252 kW of exports. There were 66 companies involved in the survey behind ‘Solar Photovoltaic Cell / Module Manufacturing Activities 2008.'

Fears of oil depletion are 'exaggerated'

Peter Davies, Chief Economist at BP, admitted that the world's oil potential is limited but dismissed what he described as theories about peak oil.

"Can we go on as before… are there external constraints in the oil market that would prevent the trends that we have known from continuing," he told a recent seminar organised by the Saudi Association for Energy Economics (Safe)

"One factor is resources. They are limited, and a barrel can only be produced once. But ideas of peak oil supply are not true. Doomsayers have exaggerated the issue. The bell-shaped curve of production over time does not apply to the world's oil resources," he told the seminar in Alkhobar city.

"Those who believe in peak oil tend to believe that technology and economics don't matter, and I think this is false.The application of technology, the innovation of new technology and economic forces especially mean that recoverable oil resources can increase. If there is a peak in oil, it will come from the demand side. There are always fears, but these remain overstated and exaggerated."

Cramped on Land, Big Oil Bets at Sea

Big Oil never wanted to be here, in 4,300 feet of water far out in the Gulf of Mexico, drilling through nearly five miles of rock.

It is an expensive way to look for oil. Chevron Corp. is paying nearly $500,000 a day to the owner of the Clear Leader, one of the world's newest and most powerful drilling rigs. The new well off the coast of Louisiana will connect to a huge platform floating nearby, which cost Chevron $650 million to build. The first phase of this oil-exploration project took more than 10 years and cost $2.7 billion -- with no guarantee it would pay off.

Peak oil: Are we there yet?

For some time now, and with greater frequency lately, energy analysts have been predicting that the output of conventional oil will soon peak unless something is done to reduce demand.

Predictions of the date of this event have varied from ‘imminently’ to ‘in the next 20 to 30 years.’

In the International Energy Agency’s latest World Energy Outlook, however, the chief economist stated that “the output of conventional oil will peak in 2020 if oil demand grows on a business-as-usual basis.”

Phil Flynn: A New Decade

A new decade begins in energy trading with new challenges and obstacles in the markets' mission to assure the availability of supply. As the new decade begins, the greatest challenges ahead are said to be “peak oil” and global warming yet today the new decade in energy starts out worrying about the cold. The oil market and heating oil markets are soaring as the country is getting a big chill from coast to coast. The cold weather has gone global with cold temperatures even being reported in the Europe and China. In the short term the polar bears have nothing to worry about as global warming takes an extended holiday.

Oil Trades Near 14-Month High on Cold Snap, Economic Outlook

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil traded near a 14-month high in New York as freezing weather in the U.S. and global signs of an economic revival bolstered the outlook for fuel demand.

Oil traded above $81 a barrel before a U.S. government report due tomorrow that may show supplies of distillate fuels such as heating oil fell as cold weather hit the country’s northeast. China’s manufacturing expanded at the fastest pace in more than five years, a report showed yesterday.

“Fundamentals are more and more encouraging,” said Tobias Merath, head of commodities research at Credit Suisse Group AG in Zurich. “We have had some positive surprises in economic data and colder weather reaching into the U.S. distillate inventories are the key to a sustainable uptrend.”

Indonesia to drop cost recovery cap

Indonesia plans to scrap curbs on a scheme to reimburse oil and gas companies for exploration spending in order to support flagging investment, a senior energy ministry official said today.

China to ‘Actively’ Join Global Race for Resources

(Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s second-biggest energy consumer, said it will “actively” participate in the global competition for oil, natural gas and mineral resources as domestic demand rises.

The country will intensify the development of overseas resources to ensure “stable” energy supplies for economic growth, Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, said in a speech on foreign investment posted on the commission’s Web site today.

Russia resumes oil to Belarus refineries, no deal

MOSCOW/MINSK (Reuters) - Russia said it had resumed flows of crude to refineries in Belarus but it did not clinch a deal to resolve a tense price dispute with Minsk that raised fears oil supplies to European Union countries might be blocked.

Russia's foremost energy official, Igor Sechin, told Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Monday their country had restarted supplying refineries in neighbouring ex-Soviet Belarus on Jan. 3, but there were still "no signed agreements" with Minsk.

Down Mexico Way: Oil and Politics South of the Border

For energy-focused investors Mexico's deteriorating fiscal position and the actions of the country's national oil company (NOC), Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), are cause for concern. Pemex is the third-largest supplier of crude to the US, behind only Canada and Saudi Arabia. To put the company's operations in perspective, Pemex produced more crude oil than US energy giant Exxon Mobil in 2008.

Of course, other energy producing nations such as Venezuela face more dire fiscal challenges. But the Chavez government's chronic mismanagement of the national oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), and the economy in general are well known and largely priced into the market. After all, CDS spreads on Venezuela are trading at 1,130 basis points, second only to the Ukraine; traders are already pricing in a healthy dose of credit risk.

Suncor sells some U.S. assets

Noble Energy, Inc. NBL-N says it will pay $494-million (U.S.) to acquire major oil and gas assets in the United States from Canada's largest energy company, Suncor Energy Inc. SU-T .

Noble announced Tuesday it will acquire essentially all the Rockies upstream assets of Petro-Canada Resources (USA) Inc. and Suncor Energy (Natural Gas) America Inc.

How Russia Is About to Dramatically Change the World

Over the next few days, Russia will change the world. It has completed a new oil pipeline and port complex that sets Russia up to become a more powerful oil exporter than Saudi Arabia. The ramifications for Europe and Asia are profound: The shape of the global economy—and the global balance of power—will be altered forever.

2010: The Year for Gold Shares - Bob Moriarty

My very favorite company right now is an energy stock. It's not one that anyone can buy. It's still private but it's going to be a very big deal. It will be the Google of investing. It's a company called Titan Oil Recovery Inc. It's run by one of the smartest and best managers I know, Ken Gerbino. Basically the company treats their prime oil fields with a patented bacterial process that essentially lowers the surface tension of the oil, making it easier for it to flow. Their tests on dozens of oil fields show increased oil production by over 100%. That's giant. In the oil business, most oil gets left in the ground. You can never recover all of the oil in a field. This process is going to be worth many billions of dollars. It's not a total solution to peak oil but it's sure better than anything else I've ever seen or heard of.

New coal-fired power plant fuels debate

MARISSA, Ill. — On a clear December morning, drivers traveling south on state Route 4 in southwest Illinois can see the Prairie State Energy Campus' stack rising 700 feet above the surrounding corn fields — 70 feet taller than the Gateway Arch.

The scope of project is even more striking once on site. The hulking plant will consume more than 50,000 tons of structural steel, 15,000 tons of steel rebar and 160,000 cubic yards of concrete. It is surrounded by more than a dozen tower cranes, their jibs reaching skyward.

What's more, the $4 billion project stands as a tangible symbol of the polarizing debate over climate change and the use of coal as an energy source.

Trains stopped in their tracks

The heaviest snowfall to hit northern China in nearly six decades continued to snarl traffic yesterday, stranding thousands of passengers on railways and at airports.

The unusually harsh winter weather also caused coal shortages, forcing some provinces to cut power supplies.

Big U.S. fund group divests over Sudan

BOSTON (Reuters) – TIAA-CREF has become the first large U.S. fund complex to sell stakes in a group of Asian energy companies over human rights concerns in Sudan.

Beds of bounty

But while the immediate future of Enniskillen Orchard is now secure, there is another threat hanging over Maguire and the farm that belonged to his father before him.

"The developers and our local council can't wait until this area is covered in houses," he says. "All they can see is the bloody bottom line. If it is rezoned, there is no way in the world we can carry on farming activity in among those."

...Hawkesbury Harvest points out that Hawkesbury Council's recent strategic plan doesn't once mention the word "agriculture" and accuses the council of wanting "rural-living theme parks" at the expense of real farms.

The group's submission concludes: "When the sands and gravel are gone, the hydrology buggered, the microclimates changed, the landscape turned into fodder for a mower sales and repair industry and when people transit through it faster than they do now because there's nothing of real interest to see and do, will our kids and their kids thank us for this?"

Centrica Wind-Farm Funding Shows Liquidity Improving

(Bloomberg) -- Centrica Plc’s deal to fund U.K. offshore wind farms through a stake sale and bank debt may become a blueprint for competitors in the country’s $160 billion push to develop sites in deeper and more remote waters.

The Crown Estate, the authority which administers 55 percent of the coastline on behalf of the monarchy, is assessing bids from 18 companies in its third offshore wind licensing round and aims to quadruple planned capacity by adding farms in the North Sea, Irish Sea and English Channel. It anticipates announcing winners, who will need to find financing, this month.

Tajiks feel pinch in funding dam

Since a deal with a Russian investor fell apart in the autumn of 2007, the Tajik government has been trying to fund the remaining work on the dam by itself and is encouraging citizens to contribute either by taking out some shares or by responding to a parallel scheme - a direct appeal for cash contributions.

To encourage the spirit of giving, the official media have been full of reports of companies and private individuals - from cash-strapped students to elderly people on tiny pensions - making donations to the fund, or announcing their intention to buy shares. But people interviewed by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) said they were being coerced into buying shares in the power plant or making a straight donation, neither of which they could afford.

'Avatar': Why do conservatives hate the most popular movie in years?

Ever since Al Gore took center stage with his documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," conservatives have been falling over each other in their attempts to mock liberal planet savers, taking special pleasure in slamming Hollywood environmentalists who fly private jets or live in huge houses. (As soon as Climategate erupted, two Hollywood conservatives surfaced, asking the academy to take back Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" Oscar, even though, inconveniently, the Oscar had actually gone to the film's director, not Gore.)

So Cameron's giddy embrace of a primitive people who live in harmony with their land -- and his scathing portrayal of a soulless corporation willing to do anything, including kill innocent natives, to steal and exploit their planet's valuable natural resources -- is the kind of anti-technology, pro-environment dramaturgy that sets off fire alarms.

Global warming is a driver, whether you believe or not

The new decade has dawned and it promises to be a big one for the power management sector. But be warned it may take several years before we start seeing the real dividends.

Whether you believe in Global Warming or not there is no doubt that it is the engine driving the growing demand for energy efficiency and towards the back end of the past decade large sums were being pumped into the power management sector to try and stimulate the switch over to more energy efficient alternatives across a wide spectrum of commercial and industrial activities.

Global warming battle could create 129,000 Mich. jobs

Michigan could gain a significant economic boost and thousands of new jobs by reducing emissions of gases that cause climate change, according to an analysis released Monday.

The comparative costs of climate change

How much will decarbonizing the economy cost, and compared to what?

Probably the most widely discussed economic analysis on what the transition to a low-carbon economy will cost is the so-called Stern Review by British economist Nicholas Stern.

South Africa Wants to Cut Emissions, but Lacks Policies to Match Its Rhetoric

Slashing emissions in coal-dominated South Africa will require an overhaul of national policies as well as significant funding, a new study finds.

Where on Earth will we store all that captured CO2? Try the East Coast

Deep saline aquifers or nearly empty oil wells are a few of the possibilities for where to put carbon dioxide, but what might be even better is a volcanic rock known as basalt. That's because the rock both stores CO2 and, over a relatively short period of years, forms carbonate minerals with it—in other words, limestone.

Australia suffers hottest decade as globe warms

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia has sweltered through its hottest decade on record, officials said Tuesday, linking a rise in heatwaves, drought, dust storms and extreme wildfires with global warming.

The Bureau of Meteorology also said 2009 was the second warmest year since detailed records began in 1910, with an annual mean temperature almost one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) above average.

More on the UK Natural Gas Supply situation.

Gas shortage fears as demand surges 30% in cold snap

The freezing weather has led to fears that Britain could run short of gas after the National Grid issued a warning to suppliers.

Gas is used to heat about two thirds of homes and demand has surged by 30 per cent as the country battles the cold.

In response to dwindling supplies, the grid issued a gas balancing alert (GBA).

...A spokesman said that some power suppliers had stopped using gas yesterday afternoon which eased the pressure.

He said last night: 'The big generators like E.ON have gas-fired power stations and coal-fired power stations. They can choose to switch from gas to coal.'

...It is the only the second time in 30 years that the grid has had to issue the warning.

In the event of a serious shortage, big industrial consumers are expected to bear the brunt of gas consumption cuts, however a shortage could lead to higher household fuel bills.

Revision to GBA Trigger Level - 04 January 2010


One storage site has reached a level where it is has less than 2 days withdrawal remaining at full production rates and has therefore been removed from the GBA Trigger Calculation. The GBA Trigger Level now stands at 449.60 mcm and the Non Storage Supply element of the GBA Trigger Level also remains under constant review.

And now the Met Office issues a very rare "emergency flash warning"

Met Office warns of 40cm of snow within hours in South East

The Met Office today issued an emergency flash warning that London and the Home Counties could be buried by more then 40 centimetres of snow overnight.

As the Arctic cold snap was forecast to extend its grip across the whole of Britain, residents of counties including Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire were advised to take action to avoid the worst of the snowfall.

A Met Office meteorologist said the highest level of alert had triggered a warning for the emergency services advising them to prepare for the worst.

While 40 cm of snow might not sound a lot in some parts of the world, the south of England can't cope with that amount in a 24 hour period and widespread power disruption is also possible.

As a Canadian I say, welcome to my world.

Snow can be very pretty to look at, especially in a picture of aircraft queuing in line, but it will disrupt transportation and communications for hours and, when heavy enough, for days. 40 cms of snow is a lot of snow (roughly a foot and half), even for places that are prepared for it, so London is in for a bit of a standstill. Add natural gas supply issues, it is shaping up to be one harsh winter in Britain.

My advice: keep your chin up and your shovel to the ground. Stay warm. Godspeed!

Luckily London is likely to be spared the worst of the snow this 24 hour period - it's to the west of London that the heaviest snow is likely. Especially for anyone in the UK here's the latest Met Office warning chart.


There is no end to the cold weather forecast for at least the next 7 days and possibly much longer. I think I'll go buy another cylinder for my Calor Gas (propane) portable heater just in case.

Undertow, glad to hear you have a portable heater. That will come in handy should you lose electricity and/or can't rely on central heating.

The good news is that pipes generally do not freeze for as long as it continues to snow. Snow comes (usuallly) with temperatures hovering around the freezing mark.

Worse case scenario would be for a clear cold front to move in afterwards.

If power outages continue amid a cold snap, use extra blankets to cover exposed piping. To conserve heat, move everybody into one room and try to cover around windows and door frames to cut down on drafts. It's amazing how much heat human bodies will generate so where possible use the buddy system when bunking down.

All the best.

Practically, the 'buddy system' in my part of North London means going to the pub to huddle with other people until the inevitable closing time misery.

We also have a Shisha parlour where people go to smoke hookah pipes. The UK regulations forbid smoking inside cafes, so this is done 'pavement style' under propane heaters and electric radiant fires. All the windows of the establishment fold open to make the 'inside' 'outside' as well. The ability of folk to play dominoes outdoors in sub-zero conditions amazes me.


Bob -

that reminds me of a pub here in Brighton. It is frequented by a lot of people who are active in the Green party and a few days ago I walked by to see half a dozen trendy 'greens' sitting outside on the pavement under five double-bar electric heaters. I hung around and eavesdropped on their conversation. They were all talking about the 'unacceptable outcome of Copenhagen' and how the governments of the world had let the people down by not passing stricter carbon targets. The hypocrisy stank to high heaven. I wanted to shout at them. Or punch them.

As a resident of the Colorado mountains, altitude 8000 feet (~2400 meters), I see a lot of snow. We have had storms of up to 2 meters of snow at once.

Just keep this in mind: Snow is one of the few problems you will ever have that is *guaranteed* to solve itself in a relatively short period of time. Enjoy it.

I honestly love snow, but the bitter cold I can live without. Our low for the year so far is -29C. That solves itself eventually, too, but the financial aftermath in the form of extreme fuel bills (Propane in my case) takes a little longer to recover from.

Hey Undertow you beat me to it! Yesterday, long term gas storage was drained at > max withdrawal rate (455 GWh/day max, actual was 472 over the 24hrs - no wonder they issued a warning, at peak demand they would have been way short!) and short term storage fell by 10% during the 24 hours! I might need my backup power to keep the gas boiler running sooner than I expected!


Spot the cold snap in the short range storage data!


"Days until breach at maximum withdrawal (the current rate) 2.2"

But rest assured that's a "totally healthy", in government speak, plunge off a cliff.

You get that value from the short-range storage but the mid-term and long-term give you much farther dates.

Does anyone know how these really fit together for the UK? Does short-term have the fastest flow rate or can these be topped up at the max-rate from the med or long? Any UK gas engineers in the house?

Short term storage is LNG at three sites across the UK and it can drain very quickly but is only filled again very slowly. Takes weeks or months to refill it. Last year we virtually emptied it as well but managed to struggle through the rest of the winter after the weather warmed up. I think it's a case of "fingers crossed" at the moment.

The problem today isn't storage, it is the combined rate of supply/demand from storage at any particular moment. The combined storage has a daily max supply rate of around (455 LRS + 610 MRS + 389 SRS) = 1454 GWh/day = 1.0 GWh/minute. If the demand from storage is greater than that something has to be switched off, BAU must stop for somebody so that pressure doesn't fall.

Yes, I know it's a flow rate problem but the immediate reason we hit the flow rate problem yesterday was because storage at one of the SRS storage facilities (they don't say which one but it is not Partington as that has been supplying to the grid all day today) is now so low that it is no longer counted as being able to supply gas to the network thus the lowering of the GBA trigger yesterday.

This is interesting as well


Forecast: Likelihood to Interrupt

The Transporter Interruption information can be viewed by clicking on the hypertext label ‘Likelihood to Interrupt’. The information for NTS specific interruption, LDZ NSL (Network Sensitive Load- a load in an area of the Network which has limited Transportation Capacity and therefore has a higher probability of Interruption) and LDZ Non NSL are displayed in a table in the Forecast section on the bottom left hand side of the Prevailing View screen. The publication frequency of the report is D +1 published at 14:50.

 Likelihood to Interrupt   for 06/01/2010
LDZ 	        NSL 	Non NSL
Scotland 	High 	Low
Northern 	Medium 	Low
NorthWest 	High 	High
NorthEast 	High 	Medium
EastMidlands 	High 	High
WestMidlands 	Low 	Low
WalesNorth 	Low 	Low
WalesSouth 	Low 	Low
Eastern 	High 	Low
North Thames 	Low 	Low
SouthEast 	Low 	Low
Southern 	Low 	Low
SouthWest 	High 	Low
NTS 	Specific
NTS South West 	Medium
NTS South East 	Low
NTS Southern 	Low
NTS Other 	Low

Hmmm ... interesting, I'm in Eastern.

That top line figure is 3x the actual demand at peak so it sounds like there is no problem as long as NG are very conservative about the MRS and LRS. This presumably will not effective residential heating - industrial consumers should be hit first I hope. Need to look up what the residential/industrial gas ratio is.

I think you may be confusing million cubic metres with GWh/day. Storage can only supply a fraction of the UK's peak demand even when it is all available.

I see the GBA trigger for tomorrow has just been upped to 461.2 from 449.6 so we've got another 11.6 mcm of gas to play with tomorrow which should avoid a GBA unless something breaks.

Yep - well spotted - it seems I did mix the units... That does make things clearer.

Xeroid, how do you get a more current graph than the National grid website? I think we should be told...!

edited] OK, I have it now, conspiracy over!

Good luck to my fellow UK citizens..

For the first time in decades Norway is completely covered in snow, even the smaller islets far out in the North Sea now have snow. My city , Bergen, on the west coast rarely encounter more than 5 C below zero, but come Friday we are promised 20 C below.The inner valleys of southern Norway are headed for some minus 40. Capital Oslo may break all time low over the upcomming weekend. Chill out....

The inner valleys of southern Norway are headed for some minus 40. Capital Oslo may break all time low over the upcomming weekend. Chill out....

Let's hope the power grid remains viable in Norway and the gas keeps flowing. Otherwise, there will be a lot of people using emergency shelters.

Paal, the little blue guy says it all. Burr.... Try as best you can to stay warm.

Zadok, we'll probably manage to keep 'it' out subjected to 'winery' housing standards, including double/triple paned windows even for older houses. The grid will endure this year due to quite a few large industrial closings, 'Hat Tip' the financial crisis. The halt of only one large ALU-melting plant freed up enough electricity equaling the consumption of Norway's fourth largest city. (yes, indeed we have some really large Megapolises over here :-)
Norway sends all her nat-gas to 'help run' Europe, leaving us with a lot of electrical resistant-heating as a result, obviously combined with burning some wood and heating oil as well. We have no infrastructure to actually utilize nat-gas in homes here.

My thoughts are with the Europeans these days- Best hopes for a steady flow of nat-gas and in particular into Undertows house :-)

To E. Swanson : God bless the Golf stream. If the Thermohaline circulation is corrupted, well then we are screwed, simple as that.

From what little I can find, the Gulf Stream isn't warming the Eastern North Atlantic very much these days...

E. Swanson

I looked at that map & couldn't understand all the new islands off the Florida coast around the Bahamas. Then I realized that was areas of -5 anomaly.

For several days last month we had "Sea Fog". This is something that just does not happen in central Florida. It was caused by the unusual cold temperature of the Atlantic and warm(normal) temps inland.

Around here, in Western North Carolina at 3000' altitude, we've had morning temperatures down to 6-9 F (-14 to -13 C) the past few days. We've had a bit of snow as well. And we are at latitude 36N. Lets see, Bergen is at 60° 23' North. Best hopes that your weather doesn't begin to look like that in North Dakota, USA (latitude 46-49N) or you will find out why the Vikings left Greenland!

E. Swanson

Just for "laughs" here's the output of the US Global Forecast System (GFS) 12Z (UTC/GMT) run for European "cumulative snow cover" (ie snow on the ground) for a week from now (as far ahead as it runs at high resolution).


The values are for rain equivalent precipitation so roughly multiply by 10 for non-compacted snow depth.

It is the only the second time in 30 years that the grid has had to issue the warning.

And unless I am mistaken the first time was only a couple of years ago. But then what do you expect when you have governments (of all colours) who, over the last 20+ years, have completely failed to do anything about a problem which even a pre-school unicorn could work out was not good. Let me see:

1. North Sea gas production waning
2. Domestic consumption for heating, water heating and cooking rising steadily over last few decades
3. Move away from coal (and until recently, nuclear) towards more (cheaper) gas powered electric generation
4. Leave it all up to the feckless market to sort out. Hands-off approach is best!

Beat me over the head with wet a flannel. Why is our country run by donkeys?

Because donkeys elect and re-elect donkeys. I know I'm asking for a fight here but "government" is not going to deal with adaptive challenges, only technical ones (and all of these problems are adaptive challenges). The hands-off approach is exactly what the people want. Except for the relatively small TOD readership, 99% of humans really do believe their lifestyle is non-negotiable and they live it and they vote it on a daily basis. The best way to get new direction out of government is by being the example and expanding the example you want them to be--at the local level, home, neighborhood, community. It is a lot of work but that's where the action is.

So rather than just leaving this as another pointless rant, would everyone reading this offer up something they are doing at their local level as inspiration/motivation for the rest of us?

Sorry Debbie, you mis-read my post. I get the point you are making but the point I was making was that the UK government for the last 20+ years has effectively handed over all energy policy decisions to the 'free-market'. Rather than have a robust attitude where-by government sets the agenda and says what the long term energy requirements are the individual companies have not had the necessary incentive to plan long term. And when they have, their accountants tell them that the cost is too great and the shareholders will not be pleased.


Between 1992 and 2008 there was no top-level Secretary of State for Energy. There was a minister responsible for energy policy working out of the Department for Trade and Industry. This is exactly the reason why the UK is in such a poor pickle of a state concerning energy.

Having a Scottish daughter-in-law, I'll be the first to admit there are huge cultural/language differences between our nations and I recognize that we may communicate at cross purposes (spelling aside). But I think you bring up an example of how government surrenders to the "free market" because it is ill equipped to proscribe human behavior.

We are too quick to blame faceless entities like "industry" and "government" when in fact, we (people) are industry and government. They are made up of our neighbors and family members who are, in effect, a "conspiracy of common interest." All the incentive and interests are to keep things going as they are irrespective of whose name is on some bureaucratic door. Between 1992 and 2008, the US has had plenty of top-level Secretaries and it hasn't made a bit of difference. The only energy policy decisions that will make any difference are in our own hands.

Debbie I agree, but of course George Carlin said it first, and more succinctly - the gov't sucks because the people suck.

I keep hearing this mantra:" You get what you asked for. OR: Its the voters fault.

This to me is bull hocky.

I believe most voters have very bad choices. We already know what the politicos will do once elected. They will do as always.

Cover their asses.
Skim as much off as they can.
Look out for themselves mostly.
Lie and lie and lie.

Then never listen to the people but do as they wish.

This is not the electors fault. Its the trash that calls itself 'representatives' and are clearly not. They only represent themselves, the ones who give them money and the lobbyists.

I am sick of getting blamed for the trash that inhabits the government.

Witness the Obama administration for proof. Its there in spades.(pun not intended).

Its just a very easy copout for them.
"Oh you people made me do it!" "Its YOUR fault!"

I feel like going out in the 5 degree cold here and puking real hard.


Airdale, you have obviously never run for public office. If you had you would know that the only thing someone standing for office wants is for voters to like them enough to vote for them. To get people to like you they want you to reflect their opinions, attitudes, prejudices, and self images. Sure politicians lie. It is impossible not to. Mostly they equivocate because "the people" are all different and they demand different things. Try running some time and you will find yourself trying to please everyone.

Yes, to get elected, you must attract a sufficient number of votes. To do this, your presentation must please most voters.

But to RUN for office, you must have money. This is most easily supplied by people who expect you to support their interests after you're elected. The voters are periodic; the money interests are constant.

We just helped elect a friend to the New York City Council. Took him two years to raise the money. His opponent was an eight-year incumbent who sat in her office and voted pro-development. Our friend is a community organizer with genuine ideals. He's taking office just when the city and state have run out of money. Of course, all the talk is about spending cuts and not about revising the tax base that has collapsed and isn't coming back. This year I'm not saying Happy New Year; just, Good Luck!

It's an uphill battle, Debbie, getting people to see what you are pointing to because it means a person has to take responsibility for how things are turning out — but most humans hate being responsible. They'd much rather find a scapegoat.

It's been like that probably since the depths of time and will not change in our lifetime. But some people do know that there are many good people in government; I've met many, many of them. My wife happens to be a Public Defender and she and her colleagues work their butts off to make sure the prosecutors and judges don't abuse their clients' rights. And she regularly catches police lying but the judges are loath to issue contempt orders to police so they let many things slide. Of course, there are many police who are completely honest. The point is that, as in all groups, it's a mixed bag.

But it's much easier to demonize people and stop thinking, however.

Well, I'm involved with a couple of local non-profits and on Wednesday we have a pretty nice day planned. First, we've partnered with a local theater company to present at a local sustainability forum. Instead of the usual "talking head" we're doing an improv based on some pre-developed prompts. In short, we're gonna have some fun and make people laugh at a local forum, entertained by local people with the message that the transition to a lower energy, more sustainable and resilient future is up to us and the process can be lots of fun.

Later, we're going to conduct a pita bread making class followed by a potluck and book study group based on Rob Hopkins' Transition Handbook.

Should be lots of fun and involve 50 or 60 people in community based, low impact activities.

It's the little things...

Hi Debbie;
Here's the most boring but useful one I can offer. I got dirty up in the eaves yesterday, metal-taping up a leak in the Solar Hot Air panel, stuffing garbage baggies of cellulose insulation into drafty holes by the knee walls, and reorienting my 'Turret' so that I could safely get onto the snowy roof when the wind has blown my panel's barndoors shut. (I'm making motors to open/close them, but it's a manual process for now. Ok, half manual, half Wind-powered.)

Here's the photobucket spot where my clunky solar project is pictured a little, if anyone wants to see. http://s831.photobucket.com/albums/zz240/Ingto83/?action=view&current=IM...

I've also joined a yahoo group that does DIY solar heating projects, called Simply Solar, branching off of the Build it Solar website.


Bob - Cloudy and mild in Portland Maine


Bob, Sure your groups have heard of it but I just picked up 1.5 kW of thin film for 98 cents a watt.

Is this an open-market source available to anybody?

Yes they are. I was told they have 4000 of the 60 watt units. (25 panel max) I hesitate to spam but a simple Google (.98 watt) search seems to turn them up anyway.
The company has been around for quite awhile. My panels are shipping out of Phoenix to Wa State. The pallet freight was $340.

Their blem crystaline are $1.74 W. The thin film is UL listed so I'm going with that and a MPPT gridtie that'll take the higher voltage. $1 a watt seems to have arrived. Thanks to the financial crash i suppose. Energy payback wise, it's not stealing but it seems to be getting closer.

You know, here in Down Under, we can get a 1.5kW system, installed, for about Au$3500-Au$4500, after we sell the Renewable Energy Certificates. At .98c/watt, even once you include the installation costs (sparky), inverter, and freight, that's still in the same ballpark, without selling the RECs.

Unbelievable deal!

Ahh, for a little discretionary cash!

Actually, when I do have a little pile I can spend from, (??Ever??!) I'm dreamin' about a decent inverter lately. But thanks for the heads up!

Sure anytime. Enjoy hearing about your solar thermal. Our place doesn't get much direct sun but we have a great solar site within a short distance. Odd terrain.

Hope you find a good inverter.

Hi Debbie,

I received an RFP earlier this morning from a local university that is about to embark on a campus-wide lighting retrofit. The lighting systems at this university are in desperate need of a major overall and the potential energy savings are, comparatively speaking, enormous (over half a million sq. ft. of space and lighting loads are very high by today's standards). Not sure we're going to bid on it as our resources are stretched kinda thin at the moment with the other work we have currently underway, but I'm glad to see they're pursuing this (without sounding too critical, it's long overdue).


A friend of mine works for the California Energy Commission. Several months ago I sent him an article on lighting and he responded with this interesting analysis of the current state of the industry. I don't think he would mind me sharing it with the TOD community:

CFLs are still being subsidized depending on the utility. However, the utilities are growing weary of doing so. And, I think, maybe the CPUC is getting to that point as well. Thing is, the penetration of CFLs into the market mix is much higher than it was but still lags well behind incandescents. You might find cheap CFLs at Albertson's or other stores, but there is no guarantee the lamps will meet expectations. The old story of you get what you pay for applies. For example, the bulbs in a multi-pack might differ in color performance and length of life. Plus they may not be (probably ARE not) dimmable. You have to look hard for a dimmable CFL and it may not meet your expectations when you find it. Recognizing this, CLTC and the major lamp companies (Philips, Osram, GE, etc.) are working on a "Super CFL" that has good color quality, reliable life expectancy and dimmability. The mere fact they feel compelled to develop a better CFL speaks volumes about the market acceptance of CFLs. Economies of scale and low prices do not necessarily = quality, functionality and reliability.

Meanwhile, on to LEDs. First, they are a totally different light source than an incandescent or fluorescent lamp. Ever take physics? Remember the confusion over whether light is a wave or a particle? LEDs emit particles of light, i.e. the electrical current results in electrons getting spit out through a swiss cheese-like sandwich material. This means that light from LEDs is highly directional. It's well-suited for applications like spot lights and controlled-beam situations. Incandescents and fluorescents, on the other hand, convert electrical current to heat to make incandescent filaments or fluorescent gasses glow. In that case light is emitted omnidirectionally as a wave, a ball of light (incandescent) or a tube of light (fluorescent). CFLs are long tubes curled up tightly, BTW. So what this means is an LED is not a good replacement for a ball or tube of light unless optical elements are added to make the directional light look to the eye like a ball or tube of light...at a cost of efficacy. The upshot is that an LED "light bulb" is not a good choice as a replacement for a 60W incandescent lamp or an 18 or 13W CFL. Nor is a 4 foot LED "tube" a good solution vs. a 4 foot 25W or 28W fluorescent tube. Instead, we are trying to get building owners to move in the direction of LEDs for task lighting (aimed where it is needed). Ambient room lighting can then be provided by fluroescent ceiling luminaires (in the case of general room light) or LED wall washers, LED can lights or OLED panels in the case of directional ambient light. Efficacy-wise, LED ambient light isn't quite there yet, but it's getting very close. Recognizing this, some utilities are subsidizing the cost of some LED solutions. Holiday lighting is a good example. Most utilities now subsidize LED holiday lights or are thinking about it. The CA IOUs and SMUD have all funded LED projects as part of their Emerging Technology (ET) programs. In some cases, the LED solutions are moving from ET programs into incentive programs. Besides the holiday lights, we are seeing interest in freezer case lighting incentives and, at SMUD, incentives for LED can downlights and maybe PAR38 lamps.

Yes, LEDs are expensive. First costs need to be evaluated in light of life cycle costs. LEDs have long life times compared to incandescents and CFLs. Induction lamps are expensive as well and they also have long life times. (Induction lamps are fluorescent lamps that use magnetism to heat up the gasses, whereas typical fluorescent tubes and CFLs use electrodes that are subject to wear and tear from the ignition process and, thus, don't last as long as their induction cousins.) Induction luminaires are a bit less costly than comparable LED luminaires. We encourage end users to evaluate all technologies to see what works best for them. For instance, induction streetlights can be destroyed by bullets, whereas if a bullet takes out some LED emitters in a streetlight, the power is redistributed to the other emitters. Induction lamps come in one color. LEDs can be controlled to change color. And so on. Finally, the prices of the newer technologies will come down. There is a kind of Moores Law in play with LEDs, just as with computers (the price drops while functionality and quality go up).

The above is probably TMI. Please forgive me for that. I guess the summary is CFLs are beginning to mature as a technology and LEDs are popping up here and there in different applications as they prove out efficacy-wise. The trend continues away from incandescents. For further energy savings, controls overlay all lamp and emitter technologies.

Hi Debbie -- You can tell your colleague that I at least found this very informative and not at all 'TMI'. The interesting take-away for me is that future lighting may not be CFL-dominated or LED-dominated, but an application-specific mix.

Thanks for sharing!

Thanks, Debbie, for sharing this; I think your friend's assessment is spot on.

In some of our more recent retrofits, we've been replacing 4-lamp F34T12 standard troffers fitted with energy saving magnetic ballasts with new 2-lamp troffers fitted with 28-watt high performance T8 lamps and a low-output 0.77 BF electronic ballast. Fixture load drops from 160 to 43-watts and, shockingly, light levels generally remain about the same (a combination of a more energy efficient light source and greater luminaire efficacy). There are literally tens of millions of these fixtures that can be converted within North America alone.

I, for one, would welcome the development of a "Super CFL". They're getting better in most every respect, but still far from perfect (their colour rendering, in particular, needs improvement). LED technology is likewise advancing and holiday lighting and freezer cases are two ideal applications (see: http://www.nspower.ca/en/home/energysavings/programs/ledexchange/default...).

Philips, Osram Sylvania and GE will be kicking things up a notch or two over the next two to three years. It's an exciting time to be working in this industry.


Cheaper gas powered energy? It costs billions to build gas fired electric plants. This cost may be added to your utility bills in addition to higher tax bills. Some stimulus money went to build a skate park. Not something that will provide healthy economic growth, but higher medical insurance costs from twisted ankles.

The town of Fitchburg, MA is going green. In order to save on the town electric bills they shut off most of their street lights. That should save some town jobs.


Higher electric costs as a result of non-binding accords might cause a loss of jobs and real adusted income as it lowers efficiencies provided by low cost power sources.

I think your friend's assessment is spot on.

No pun intended right? ;-)

I think there is an unwarranted resistance (no pun intended) to implementing LED lighting where it could really make a difference. I've personally become a fan and I think there will be more and more acceptance as the public at large starts to get more exposure :-)


Philips Lighting and Tower 42 Light Up Office Space with LEDs
SSLighting Design News Staff

January 5, 2010...Tower 42, a 9,000 square foot office building in the city of London, completed a major investment and refurbishment of its Level 12 office space. The office building introduced customized solid-state Savio remote-phosphor LED light fittings and advanced Light Master Modular lighting controls from Philips Lighting.

The building's Level 12 office space is believed to be the first office space in the UK to use all solid-state lighting. Philips contends that the LED lighting will help the company achieving a significant energy saving of around 40% compared to a conventional T5 fluorescent installation. Philips Lighting worked closely with Tower 42 and managing agents BNP Paribas Real Estate to tailor the lighting solution to the space in order to address commercial, aesthetic and environmental imperatives, while taking into consideration the needs and requirements of potential office end-users, Tower 42’s customers.

Disclaimer: I am not promoting Philips products this is just an example.

Hi Fred,

The big issue for me is economics. For about $40.00, a standard, run of the mill 3-lamp T8 troffer will supply roughly 8,000 lumens for 80-watts. An 800 series high performance T8 lamp has a nominal service life of 42,000 hours at 12 hrs per start and retails for $2.00 to $3.00. So, after ten or so years of service, for less than $10.00, you remove the old lamps, install the replacements, give the lens a quick wipe, close it up and you're basically golden for another ten. What else can possibly touch that?

Also, a high performance T8 lamp still cranks out 93 to 96 per cent of its initial lumens at 40,000 hours, whereas a typical LED fixture will have dimmed to perhaps 70 per cent or less. Note too that as it now stands, when the LED alternative reaches the end of its life, an electrician has to install an entire new fixture! (Budget a little more than $10.00 for that!)


Hi Debbie, thanks for sharing.

It might be an unnecessary subtlety but I would correct the "particle-wave" information your friend presents. Both LEDs, CFLs and incandescent emit particles of light (and LEDs also emit waves of light). It's two ways of describing the same physical entity, but that's not where the difference between the two lies. The light frequency distribution is one of the main differences (in other words, LEDs are single color (or a few sharp colors combined) and incandescents emit a smooth and continuous mixture of many colors).

Also, the directionality does not come from one emitting a ball or wave and the other a stream of particles. It's rather a problem about how you superimpose the semi-conductor materials. Anyway, just a little clarification.

The Moore law of LEDs is called Haitz Law, by the way.

"Chicago Advances Nation's Largest Urban Solar Generating Station"

The project was first announced in April '09, and the article below written in July '09. It was just on local news that the solar array is now 50% operational, and expected to be at full capacity by the end of January.

"CHICAGO, Illinois, July 22, 2009 (ENS) - The nation's largest urban solar plant planned for Chicago's South Side moved forward today, as the Chicago City Council's Housing and Real Estate Committee recommended passage of an ordinance that would allow the city to lease 40 acres for the plant to Exelon Solar Chicago LLC.

The project, a joint venture between the Chicago-based power company Exelon and SunPower Corp. of San Jose, California, would develop a 10 megawatt solar photovoltaic plant at an unused brownfield site in the West Pullman neighborhood of Chicago.

The plant would generate electricity from 32,800 solar photovoltaic panels, creating 200 jobs directly from the construction of the plant and saving over 14,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually."


It is using financing from the US DOE Loan Guarantee Program Office.

And now the politicians comment


Shadow Energy Secretary Greg Clark warned: “For 12 years the Government has had its head in the sand about Britain’s precarious energy security.

“Today’s alert is a taste of what is to come as a result of Labour’s negligence – gas supply shortages and regular power cuts. I have repeatedly warned that Britain lacks the back-up plans that France and Germany have for these situations.” National Grid issued its warning – known as a gas balancing alert – because an unexpected shortfall meant Britain’s demand was at risk.

Gas was flowing out of the UK’s main storage facility at Rough, 18 miles off the Yorkshire coast, at a record rate yesterday as energy needed for homes and businesses came very close to the previous record high

Unexpected shortfall ? Mmm. I recall the possibility for the UK to run short has been discussed last winter, the winter before that and the winter before that. Cheap political scoring points to blame Labour also.

This situation is exactly why I chose a woodstove as the first preparation for gas shortages (not likely here in Holland anytime soon) or power cuts (happened already locally due to the weather). Without juice my central heating won't work.

Just curious for those of us not familiar with the UK's parliamentary democracy...what party is the 'shadow secretary' from?

The Conservative Party (Margaret Thatcher's party) - which opinion polls show will probably be in government following a general election in May.

Thanks, I figured that, the more liberal parties (green?) wouldn't be invited.

The party that came second in the previous general election is the official "shadow" but any party can appoint their own spokesperson to "shadow" a government department if they wish although it wouldn't give them any special status in this case.

And what exactly does Greg Clark plan to do about the precarious energy picture when the conservatives return to power?

If he's anything like Tony 'what's Peak Oil?' Abbott here in Australia, he'll blame Labour at least until the following election, while shuffling papers and Ministers..

Sounds like you Brits vote out the in party when times get bad, just like us Yanks do. Problem, from my POV is that both parties, here at least, are about as bad... they're all beholden to the corporatists, and kowtow to them. Big corporations don't want to hear about PO, so we get the 'party line,' the same from both parties. Demand peaked... economics will figure out how to run our machines w/o oil; there's plenty of gas (over here it's coal and gas. Not so much there, I hear), etc.

Good luck to you all. And to us.

The "Official Opposition", i.e. the largest minority party, i.e., the Tories, forms an entire "Shadow Cabinet", the purpose of which is to develop policy positions, keep tabs on and keep up the pressure on the party in power, and to at least maintain the appearance that they are ready to step in and run the government at any moment. Whenever a cabinet minister (rather than the Prime Minister) speaks in Parliament, it is his/her opposite shadow cabinet member who speaks in opposition rather than the leader of the opposition, so the position is more than just an honorific, there actually is a little bit to do.

This news is timely, although it won't have any impact on the current gas situation.... Cash for Clunk[ing] Boilers

Government says boiler scrappage scheme will safeguard domestic heating industry

A new national scheme to upgrade household heating systems and cut carbon emissions will help safeguard the future of the 60,000 businesses and their 250,000 employees involved in boiler sales, manufacture and installation, it was claimed by the Government today.

The Boiler Scrappage Scheme, which was first unveiled in the Chancellor's Pre Budget Report, means that up to 125,000 households in England with working ‘G-rated’ boilers can from today apply through the Energy Saving Trust for a voucher that will entitle them to £400 off the price of a new, modern A-rated boiler or a renewable heating system, such as a biomass boiler or a heat pump.

See: http://www.greenwisebusiness.co.uk/news/government-says-boiler-scrappage...

And better yet...

Boiler scrappage scheme launches

The Government’s £400 boiler scrappage scheme has launched today, with British Gas the latest provider to say it will match the offer.


Customers buying a new boiler from British Gas can cut the cost by £800 after the provider said it will match-fund the Government’s boiler scrappage scheme.

This follows a pledge by npower last year that it would provide £400 for those with boilers up to a C-rating.

See: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/e4daeccc-fa10-11de-adb4-00144feab49a.html


Peter Mandelson (Government Business Minister and effectively Deputy Prime Minister) just asked directly on BBC News Channel about the gas crisis. Using convoluted language (trying to distance himself I believe) he confirmed that he thought it was a good idea business users are being requested to reduce consumption even if he claimed to be "unaware" of the exact situation but said that he "believed" the grid would cope. Not very reassuring at all.

And now Government Energy Minister Lord Hunt just interviewed on BBC News Channel. Said that gas supplies are "very healthy" and opposition is "scare-mongering". Claimed that the Gas Balancing Alert was proof that the free market works because it resulted in reduced industrial consumption. Speechless!!

Undertow - totally agree, this too has left me speechless...

where are you based? got snow?

East coast Scotland. Haven't had too much snow yet where I am but it doesn't melt so there's been a continual coverage for a few weeks now. Very rare for this time of year. Side streets are still very bad though and the council hasn't emptied the bins in my street (and many other streets in Scotland) for two weeks now claiming that it is too dangerous for their bin-men.

I checked the BBC news site to see if they had any coverage. Their top story is about Iceland refusing pay back the banksters. Their UK page has a story about the weather's affect on traffic, that mentions that extra gas is being imported, but says it's no big deal.

It's up now.

Gas storage level low, say Tories

The UK has the equivalent of eight days worth of gas usage left in storage, the Conservative Party has claimed.

Shadow energy secretary Greg Clark called for more storage capacity and said the UK lacked "essential back-up plans".

But speaking to the BBC, National Grid said: "Be assured, the gas isn't going to run out."

Interesting. I still don't see it. They must display a different page for people coming from outside the country.

They do Leanan, but I think if you dig around nothing is barred to 'outsiders' ;)

Some things are. Mostly video, because of copyright issues. Apparently, it's common for video contracts to include separate overseas distribution rights.

Hi Leanan,

FWIW, it seems to be working for we Cannuckleheads.


..that's because you all stayed loyal to the throne!

The cubs will never abandon their lioness. God bless the Queen !



It's so cold in England and Scotland that some elderly folks are buying cheap hardback books to burn in their stoves and fireplaces, the Daily Mail reports.

I happened to be looking at their site because they were interviewing John Oliver and lo and behold he was talking about some of the differences between British and US politics (see above)

Wow. I wonder how telephone books burn? We've got so many it isn't funny. Nobody uses them any more, but they just keep coming.

They leave them in my driveway. I let one sit there there still wrapped in plastic till the time come for another delivery hoping they would get the hint. They just left it beside it.

Well of course they do. The people delivering it get paid per phone book delivered, so why would they care that you still had the previous one in your driveway? They just want to make their few cents per book.

You and me both. Google Info gives you a number quicker anyway, if the internet isn't on. Beats me why they bother, they end up in the recycling the next day @ my house.

Personally, I bet that cheap print burning would give you cancer :-) Then with no phone book how would you find a lawyer to sue them with?

, but they just keep coming.

There is a solution for that.

I don't think that will work.

I live in an apartment complex. The books aren't addressed to anyone. They're just stacked in front of the buildings. From several different companies. Eventually, the maintenance department sends people around to pick them up and throw them in the dumpsters.

I am wondering if all of this cold weather doesn't exacerbate financial woes. People who can't get to work often don't get paid. If industrial users cut back on their use, they likely lay off employees. I don't know how it works in Great Britain with respect to pay. If the employees don't get paid, it is bad for the employees. If it is the employer that has to absorb the loss, it still isn't good. Somehow, the loss will have to work its way through the economy. With less money, either the employees or the employer will be less able to pay their debt.

Today's situation is getting all the attention but the crisis is not days or weeks or even months in the making.

The crisis has been brewing all decade. From the Energy Export Databrowser:

Idigenous UK production of energy from all sources is down 40% since 2000.

So I hear that the UK is having problems during an extended cold snap? Well Duh!

My sympathies to those living in the G7's canary in the coal mine regarding energy issues.

-- Jon

My sympathies to those living in the G7's canary in the coal mine regarding energy issues.

Thanks Jon, but don't worry about us plucky Brits! We will simply buy in our energy from those nice reliable and politically stable regions of the world which want to accept our worthless coloured paper fiat notes.

We'll be ok. And if push comes to shove we can always invade the French. They usually give up pretty easily.

We'll be ok. And if push comes to shove we can always invade the French. They usually give up pretty easily.

At the moment we are helping keep them warm and toasty, other than a hour or so each side of UK evening peak, the UK/ French interconnector is sending 2GW across the channel to make up for some of the French nukes being offline.

It is strange to think the recession is keeping the lights on though, hardly a good energy policy!

Not just the recession. The big break the UK takes over Christmas/New Year kept peak demand down earlier in the cold snap. Clearly we just need more holidays to solve the energy crisis :-)

That's what we did back in the 70's with the 3 day week! ... might happen again, can't go to work without power.

Beyond ethanol: Ron Fagen moves on.

Ron Fagen, the CEO of Fagen Inc. based in Granite Falls, Minn. is responsible for building 47 ethanol plants across the U.S. between 2006 and 2008, generating some $2.2 billion in revenue in 2007.

Fagen told the Star Tribune that the U.S. ethanol building boom is finished, and his company is moving past ethanol for its future.


The EPA’s 6 month delay in approval of E15 has effectively capped ethanol production and thrown uncertainty into the demand for construction of ethanol plants in general. The Federal Government now has conflicting energy policy in regard to ethanol. It has ambitious goals which can not be met in an environment of falling demand for gasoline and a mandate cap of E10. And the EPA delaying E15 puts more stress and uncertainty into the system.

Cellulosic ethanol is dead:

If you read between the lines it would seem this move by Fagen sends a signal about the state of cellulosic ethanol as well. Since the company is one of just two or three ethanol-plant builders in the country, and it is moving into biomass and wind, that would indicate that commercial production of cellulosic ethanol is not yet ready for prime time. The biomass-to-energy industry faces its fair share of questions as well. At the moment there is no clear methods established for the harvesting, storage and transportation of biomass to bio-refineries.

If one is in the ethanol plant building business with 1200 employees down from over 3000 one can not wait around for the next move from Washington.

The original story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

A Granite Falls contractor will adapt his business model to emphasize wind and biomass.


The implications for the crude oil market are clear. No longer will gasoline be facing increasing competition from ethanol in the American market. Further increases in ethanol production will be at a far more modest rate.

Freed of some competitive pressure, gasoline prices will be able to rise even with modest increases in demand thus supporting crude prices. The crude oil market already is in the process of discounting this by testing and possibly breaking out beyond old recovery highs. Gasoline is already at least $1 higher than a year ago and it’s looking more and more like the seasonal low is in place.

Crude oil users are now placing their hedges for crude oil needs for the summer driving inventory build up.

Areas of the country that have ethanol plants already built will benefit as ethanol prices rise along with crude oil and gasoline. Ethanol will become profitable again and corn prices will rise also as ethanol producers can pay more.

But those areas of the country that drug their feet on ethanol will be forced to pay higher prices with no offsetting gain in the local economy from ethanol.

I expect any economic recovery to be uneven, with the upper Midwest and oil producing states doing relatively better than the rest of the country as crude oil/gasoline prices rise to new recovery highs and recession threatens yet again.

James Quinn on Peak Oil

I think there is more danger in the oil story than opportunity. I believe we reached peak oil production in 2005. The current worldwide recession has masked this fact as demand has declined. Recently, demand has begun to pick up. The world will be shocked in the next two years when production begins to lag behind demand. The initial result will be higher prices, topping $100 a barrel again.

At least there are some folks in the investment world who are talking sense.

Ron P.

No no, technical analysis is the way to go...just bet the other way from what they say (or at least that's what I've noticed what seems to be the case more than 50% of the time).

TA might work fine for Nike stock but it defies common sense for most commodities, I think.

$26.8 billion rail line across southern edge of Persian Gulf - Kuwait to Oman

$113.5bn worth of rail infrastructure projects are currently being either planned or under construction on Arab side of Persian Gulf


Best Hopes for Reduced Export Land Model,


A little off today's topics, but I wanted to respond to a discussion several days ago regarding vertical greenhouses (and it's taken me several days to learn about HTML and photos!)

This appears in a greenhouse growing textbook from the late 1920s, and as a farmer concerned about the future, I can't think of a more apt illustration of efficiency. From the late 1800s to as late as the early 1960s the vast majority of fall, winter and spring vegetables were grown in the areas around major northern tier cities, this particular photo is from Toledo, which in the 20s had 400 plus acres of greenhouses, as did Boston, Cleveland, Buffalo, etc. There are still rusty frames with trees growing through them in the Boston area.

These operations succumbed to several things in the late 50s and 60s; the trucking industry bringing access to the west coast at the same time federal legislation (wish I knew more of the specifics) clamped down on migratory labor in the east and midwest, while leaving the border open for illegals on the west coast, and of course the auto and urban sprawl.

If we are to have a viable year round local agriculture we will have to return to a similar system. Many growers are doing this in the NE, under plastic, and burning propane, and more recently corn and wood pellets. This system is functional, but quite inefficient, being hot air based. The old glass houses were steam or hot water in ground or under bench heated, heating the root zone, maintaining much lower ambient temperatures.

The current tax structure favors the plastic tunnels because they are considered temporary as long as you don't pour any concrete! Fixed houses are obviously more capital intensive and given Americans unwillingness to pay a price that would give growers a decent return on investment, let alone labor, unlikely to happen in the next decade at the most we have to create an infrastructure.

Food production is key to human survival, I see some hopeful signs, younger farmers at conferences, less urban sprawl, but I'm fairly pessimistic. The capital and infrastructure costs, food safety regulations that will severely burden small farms (next year my very small farm becomes a processing facility, requiring two $1000+ inspections annually because I sell wholesale) and the very long learning curve for a very complicated profession. Building fertility takes decades, even moderate chemical fertilizer use will eventually kill the soil, and it all costs money, and will take some form of energy.

Modern technology can help, old ideas can be updated, but magical towers in the city won't solve the needs. I'm fully aware that we are in for a very hard and uncertain future, but the clock is ticking in agriculture. Thanks for listening to a rant from a cranky old farmer. (Still haven't figured out paragraphs!)

Sorry, that image is too large to hot-link. In file size, I mean. The file size is much larger than it needs to be for such a low-res image. I replaced it with a text link.

Sorry, post doesn't really work without the photo, but I'm at the limit of my skills and time. Thanks any way.

I'll try to fix it for you later today, if I have time.

Okay, I thumbnailed the image for you. It's now less than a tenth the size it was (in file size - just slightly smaller in "real" size).

I also added blank lines between your paragraphs. It's difficult to read large blocks of text online. I think you'll find a lot more people read your comments if you use blank lines between paragraphs.

Thank you so much...so I'll have to spend more time learning HTML rather than reading the Drum this winter! I thought I was indenting paragraphs when I could have just skipped a line...duh

We don't really use plain HTML here. At least, in the comments section. It's kind of a hybrid. Some HTML is allowed (links, images, some formatting). And there are some shortcuts - most URLs will automatically "linkify" (be made clickable), and hard returns will end a line, without your having to do any HTML coding.

Indenting paragraphs is possible in HTML, but not really easy to do, so you'll notice very few web sites do it. A blank line between paragraphs is much easier to do (and to read).

  Just a note...
I sometimes use two   & n b s p ;   entries to create blank space /indentation before a paragraph.

  Though it does take some extra time to actually put it into the comment... I always type it out once and then copy it and paste it twice before each paragraph.

  So if you really want the format, you can do it. Personally I greatly miss the indented paragraph format I'm so used to from all those years of reading printed text.

- E

Thanks for the post.

Building fertility takes decades...

My g/f and I are small-time newbie farmer wanna-bes. We use nothing but organic sources of fertilizers. We, as I would suppose many others, have underestimated how difficult it is to "create" healthy soil. We are about to start year 3 and have only produced a handful of edible goodies. Things are getting better. Perhaps growing food is difficult ... or maybe we are simply bad farmers. :)

Or it has been cooler than in past years so what has worked for others in the past no longer works as well.

(Oh and go visit Paul Stamets's fungi.com He has fungi to innoculate plants with and you should consider doing just that.)

Ran a quick google search and found this:

Paul Stamets on 6 ways mushrooms can save the world

will watch tonight. Thanks.

Stamets is a good person to keep track of. As to the Avatar movie, Paul also believes mycelium form neural networks, as the trees did in Avatar. The screen writer may have been reading Stamets.

I was thinking the same thing while watching the movie.

Have you tried leaves. Around here the folks in town are supposed to bag their leaves. So every time I go to town I pick up a truck load. I don't till, just keep the whole garden under continual mulch per Ruth Stout (No Work Garden and other books) Besides breaking down eventually they keep in moisture and in the south also cool the soil. I also use chicken manure mixed with leaves and composted and Humanure http://www.jenkinspublishing.com/humanure.html

It does take time tho. I wouldn't say that growing food is difficult, I would say it is a skill. I have largely learned from observing my plants, what works for them. But getting hints from others speeds thing up. Don't give up...

Or one could consider a different greenhouse design.


via the moldering toilet

Nice pic and comment gypsyfarmer! And the greenhouse was directly served by interurban (electric) rail to boot. Would have had direct access to markets in downtown Toledo, via street trackage.

I could not help but notice the single electric trolley freight car next to the processing shed for greenhouses. And the "1906" date on the side of the processing shed (I assume the date that it was built).

Quite possible that trolley freight car could use the streetcar tracks to get the produce to within a block or so of the various corner grocery stores. Or to a local warehouse for final distribution by horse (both were distribution modes were used in that era)

Best Hopes for Non-Oil Transportation of Food,


That was the point I was hoping to get across, that it was an integrated system, and also probably a two way system, with the trolley loaded with horse manure returning, closing the fertility loop somewhat. A very tiny number of farms of any kind approach a closed loop system, so we export our fertility and have to buy it back from a whole separate stream. Trucks and more trucks.

Peter Davies, Chief Economist at BP, admitted that the world's oil potential is limited but dismissed what he described as theories about peak oil.

Economist. Says it all.

I think I will take more notice of the former head of BP exploration/engineering (?) featured in the ASPO.TV video.

From the same article:

"One factor is resources. They are limited, and a barrel can only be produced once. But ideas of peak oil supply are not true. Doomsayers have exaggerated the issue. The bell-shaped curve of production over time does not apply to the world's oil resources," he told the seminar in Alkhobar city.

"Those who believe in peak oil tend to believe that technology and economics don't matter, and I think this is false.The application of technology, the innovation of new technology and economic forces especially mean that recoverable oil resources can increase. If there is a peak in oil, it will come from the demand side. There are always fears, but these remain overstated and exaggerated."

He's saying that oil production will never peak because technology and economics can produce an infinite amount of the stuff. Then he does a 180 by saying it`s demand not supply that is going to cause oil to peak.

He has been touting that old BS for a while now. When I pointed out to him that the statistics say that the world has in fact peaked at the moment he had nothing to say.

But he is correct, it is the consumer not being able to afford the price that producers like BP require to make a profit that will cause WORLD peaking (as opposed to an individual well, which peaks due to geology.)

I had a similar reaction to yours.

If there is a peak in oil, it will come from the demand side.

CERA has been taking a similar line. To me, it seems disingenuous to argue that if demand for oil declines it refutes the peak oil construct. Demand and supply are yin/yang, and if countries are backing away from oil because it is unreliable and costly to procure (= declining EROI) Peak Oil is just as easily affirmed.

For a classically trained economist, the subtext of this argument is core belief around whether an input as vital as oil is functionally substitutable. An economist accepts this as true, therefore concluding that Peak Oil can't be a problem. Accepting Peak Oil means implicitly allowing the possibility of economic decline (or worse) for a lack of good substitutes.

Accepting Peak Oil means implicitly allowing the possibility of economic decline (or worse) for a lack of good substitutes.

An economist not necessarily knows this. There are even energy experts who write that alternatives can replace fossil fuels.

The Texas (1972) & North Sea (1999) crude production peaks (accounting for about 9% of total cumulative world crude production* through 2005):

Re: Fears of oil depletion are 'exaggerated' (linked uptop)

The bell-shaped curve of production over time does not apply to the world's oil resources," he (Davies) told the seminar in Alkhobar city.

So, if we sum the output of a group of regions that show bell-shaped production curves, we get a virtually infinite rate of increase in production. It's always nice when some of the residents of Fantasy Island check in with us.

*And once more with gusto--These two regions were developed by private companies, using the best available technology, with virtually no restrictions on drilling, and to put a cherry on top, the initial productions declines in both cases corresponded to massive increases in oil prices.

Not to mention that for both regions the production decline was not anticipated and came totally unexpected for most. We can look for the same thing to happen on world-scale.

Maybe that was true of Texas but accurate estimates for the North Sea's date of peak were bandied about, all ignored by exuberant CEOs of the operating companies of course.

Many countries don't exhibit neat curve shaped production profiles, either: GraphOilogy: The Hubbert Parabola.

For a while now I've been interested in what might be termed an actuarial approach to calculating the likely date for a producer to peak. Given an URR of a certain size, a region that produces full out will peak at a certain date (age). Allowances are given for eras of restraint, quality of operating companies, on vs off shore. Can't be any more hit-or-miss than HL.

WestTexas, may I just politely point out the error of your ways? You have completely forgotten about the economics. Since mankind 'discovered' economics no other resources ever need to be discovered again. Honestly, I would have expected better from you!


Hey there, Hac: I just put 60 l. of economics into my tank. The guage did not register it!!! So, I guess it's back to petrol, eh?

It doesn't go in your tank! You have to paint it onto your sunglasses! Then it's just a matter of how nicely you can paint that limits where you get to go.

Must be diluted with C12H17N2O4P if one plans on ingesting it.

I really do hate to pile onto WT with you HA but he is an exploration geologist after all. As such he must always project a bounty of oil/NG reserves just sitting out there waiting to be plucked up like gold nuggets sitting on the ground.

HAPPY NEW YEAR WT!!!!!!!!!!!! You crazy ole wirdcatter

Well, I have it on good authority (the Texas State Geologist, circa 2005), that while Texas "may" not be able to match its 1972 peak oil production rate, we can significantly increase production. So, my master plan is to help out by "flooding" the market with my 30 to 50 BOPD oil wells.

Incidentally, One degree of separation to M. King Hubbert

I just received the 2010 Texas A&M Geology & Geophysics calendar, and it is in honor of Mel Friedman. On the back, there is a picture of Hugh Heard, Mel Friedman, Dave Stearns and M. King Hubbert (circa 1960). Like you, I knew two of the four people at the table (Friedman & Stearns). Unfortunately, our friends at Texas A&M misspelled Hubbert's name, as M. King Hubbard.

Close enough for an Aggie I suppose WT. BTW -- Stearns ran the dept when I was in grad school there (73-75). Dr. Fiedman too

I sometimes think that Fantasy Island is a better place to be. It must be nice to wake up every morning and see non-depleting oil fields tended to by fairies and elves, with unicorns grazing in the pastures.

In any case, I remain fascinated by the Cornucopian, e.g., M.C. Lynch, thinking.

Lynch agrees that discrete oil wells, e.g., the discovery well in the East Texas Field, deplete.

And he agrees that discrete oil fields, e.g., the East Texas Field, which is the sum of discrete depleting wells, peak and decline.

And he agrees that regions, e.g., Texas, which is the sum of discrete depleting oil fields, peak and decline.

But this is where we diverge:

However, he believes that global production, the sum of discrete depleting regions like Texas, will virtually never peak and decline (worst case maybe a production plateau a century hence).

Simple, just deal with non-descrete wells.

However, he believes that global production, the sum of discrete depleting regions like Texas, will virtually never peak and decline

Could be that he only says what his public wants to hear.

State Finances: Just (strange) hearsay from locals lately, but...

- in PA people say that parts of the state govt. recreation and transportation sectors are in effect non-functional due to money cutbacks... (a trip down the PA Turnpike seems to hint at this.)

- and in NJ people say that parts of the state govt. recreation and social services sectors wouldn't be functioning if not for volunteers. (One can ask about the volunteer programs run by state agencies to get an idea of numbers... but I'm not sure if all such programs are publicized.)

States are doing things like shutting highway rest areas to save money. And the furloughs in California have affected state parks and the like.

Kind of reminds me of the Tajik dam story I posted up top. They can't find investors, so they're asking the people to chip in. The next step would be for people who don't have money to volunteer their labor. Some archaeologists think that's how the Egyptian pyramids were built: people paying their taxes via labor.

Here in Texas we're not quite at that stage. In fact, the State is reported to be upgrading their rest stops (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=106533838).

But state finances are not exactly flush. A balanced budget for 2010-2011 has been approved, but some agencies are underfunded, and some expenditures are underestimated, while revenues may be less than expected.

Maybe if westexas expands his production as planned, and the price of oil goes up as we all expect, Texas will finish the biennium in good shape. Provided we don't get too many economic refugees from places like California and Nevada.

Post-Katrina, the City of New Orleans said that they had no money for park maintenance (we had to stop looking for dead bodies till the sales taxes from the first post-K Mardi Gras came in), so neighborhood organizations have taken over.

Now the city does some maintenance for the two big parks (Audubon & City) but the smaller parks are in the hands of volunteers.

Actually, they look better kept now.

Best Hopes for Civic Volunteers,


Fears of oil depletion are 'exaggerated'

Peter Davies, Chief Economist at BP,...

That article begins with an error. He was CE at BP from 1985-2008.

As is stated on many a "questionable" first date, "don't worry, we won't run out of gas."

A little something via Mr. Ure.

At the height of the Great Depression, a group of unemployed Oakland workers decided to take matters into their own hands. The system wasn’t working, so they set up their own system. Money was nearly worthless, so they decided to live by barter. They called themselves the Unemployed Exchange Association and they soon went on to write a remarkable chapter in American economic history. This is their story.

Upton Sinclair is mentioned....
Sinclair got almost 900,000 votes, 37 percent of the votes cast; Merriam got 49 percent, and a third party candidate got the difference. Sinclair was told later that there was a gunman waiting at his campaign headquarters; he was told he would have been shot if he'd won.

What a fascinating story. Thanks for sharing.

Well, its why I post here - to share some of the gems I've found on the net.

And why I skim through all the posts.

Forgive me if this has already been discussed, but I have to point out to SOMEONE that one of the causes of our recent and current cold weather is the blocking high over Greenland, where the temperature has been 50 degrees F. This was reported on the Weather Channel over the weekend. Think about it - fifty degrees in Greenland in the middle of winter when the sun doesn't even rise over most of the "island". So for those wondering where global warming has gone - well, there it is! Tick, tick, tick...

I did a search at weather.com which did not give any indication that the temperatures you mention actually happened. There was an old blog post from back in December which showed plots of warm temperature anomalies over Greenland, but nothing else. Remember that Greenland is covered by ice, thus the surface air temperature above can't rise much above freezing. The same applies to the areas nearby which are covered by sea-ice. Thus, the notion of 50 deg F temperatures seems wildly out of line. Got any sort of a reference to back up the claim??

E. Swanson


It's very warm up there. Cold down here.

"Warm" is a relative term here, I suspect. This year, the sea-ice growth is a bit behind last year in the area of Baffin Bay and the Labrador Sea on the eastern coast beside Greenland. That's where Nuuk is located (see following link referenced by Triffin). I did find archived 500mb upper level charts for the end of December and there was a high pressure forming over Greenland between 28 and 31 Dec. The later dates aren't available in the archive as yet, due to the year change.

That does not mean that the temperatures over Greenland as a whole are at 50 F nor does it suggest that the cold air flows from the Arctic were "caused" by that high pressure area!!!

E. Swanson

Thank you for posting this Sunspot. I keep telling people that the heat has to be somewhere, I just hadn't tracked down where it was yet.

Soils give clean look at past carbon dioxide
It could take less of the greenhouse gas to reach a particular level of warming.

Richard A. Lovett

Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels may have been lower in warm eras of the Earth's distant past than once believed, scientists reported this week.

The finding raises concern that carbon dioxide levels from fossil fuel burning may, in the near future, be closer to those associated with ancient hothouse climates.

Current weather forecast for Nuuk, Greenland


Looks like normal winter temps ..

Triff ..



says that it's related to something called the "Arctic oscillation" which is not new as such but is more extreme than has been recorded before at the moment.

In an interview, John Michael Greer mentioned this article written by Isaac Asimov in 1977 as one of the things that got him interested in energy issues and their role societal change. If you haven't seen it, I think you might enjoy it.

Time Essay: The Nightmare Life Without Fuel

Thanks for posting this link. I remember reading Asimov's essay when it first came out, and it has influenced my thinking ever since. At the time, Asimov would have been called a doomer (if such terms had been in use then). Nowadays, adjusting for the time line (which he got wrong, but only by maybe a couple of decades or so), he might more properly be classified as belonging to the declinist camp. He does anticipate a society and an economy that do continue functioning to a large extent, at least in the US.

I really liked his image about pushcarts going from house to house in the suburbs. That one has really stuck in my mind through all these years.

With respect to "Avatar", I wonder if Bill O'Reilly will call for a national boycott of this Rupert Murdoch film. :-0


Paul -- Since you brought it up maybe you can clarify for me. Since seeing the movie I keep hearing how "conservatives" don't like it. In fact, my stepson's dad won't see it because of this buzz. But I'm well on the conservative side of the fence and I liked the story line...a lot. Then again I've always been a big fan shoot'em up westerns and that's exactly what it reminded me of. Instead of John Wayne as the hero it was a crippled former Marine fighting for the underdog. One reviewer said it was anti-military but I saw just the opposite: it was anti-mercenary with the military (our crippled former Marine) teaming up with the locals (ala Special Forces). Same guy said it was anti-war. But the locals waged war against the mercs and saved their planet in the process. Granted war is always a painful solution for a problem but it did save their people. Same guy said it was anti-corporation. But I don't know many conservatives who would support a monopoly holding such life saving resources in their hands unless, of course, they owned a lot of stock in that corporation. But I've know more than one self-professed liberal who valued nice dividends over moral corporate conduct.

I found the movie very uplifting: a local grassroots effort aided by former military to crush a nasty central governing body that's trying to take over all local education and healthcare (the corporation's "schools" and med labs). I wouldn't mind seeing more of that attitude develop south of you.

I think the review I posted is right: it's not John Wayne, it's "Dances With Wolves."

That's a better anology Leanan but JW did a few movies where he didn't just kill all the injuns.

Someone at the Huffington Post has had fun marking up a plot summary for Disney's Pocahontas and substituting names from Avatar. They seem to be virtually the same picture.

My link doesn't seem to work. Here it is, raw:


Hi RM,

I haven't seen the movie nor have I been following the debate over it so I'm afraid I'm ill-prepared to offer an opinion. As a general comment, we read too much into popular film. Was "The Devil and Miss Jones" a damning attack on corporate America or an enjoyable screw-ball comedy.... it might have been a bit of both, but I tend to think of it mostly as the latter. How about "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"? Were Americans being incited to rebel again those evil doers in government and their corporate puppet masters? Somehow, I think not.

If it's not a communist under every bed, it's a bleeding heart liberal. ;-)


The real Avatar story: indigenous people fight to save their forest homes from corporate exploitation

For decades real indigenous tribes around the world have faced off with corporations—mining, logging, oil and gas—determined to exploit their land. These corporations, much like the company in the film, usually have support from the government and access to 'security forces', sometimes in the form of ex-military or state police. Yet unlike the film, in which the indigenous group triumphs over the corporate and military invaders, the real-life stories of indigenous tribes rarely end justly: from Peru to Malaysia to Ecuador their struggles continue.

The Avatar Movie from a Black perspective

A real life example of what happened to the fictional Na'vi people in the movie is happening to Haiti right now. The US military took down president Aristide, deported him to Central Africa, and took over Haiti with hired thugs and death squads, then used the UN and the NGO squads to deflect charges of terror, racism and imperialism. Meanwhile the UN is protecting not Haitian rights and sovereignty but the right of the NGOs, corporate greed, sweatshops, trans-national corporations' right to privatization of Haiti's assets - blang (gold, iridium, copper, oil, diamonds, marble)- and the mining and oil companies to do as they please in Haiti. How greed and imperialism destroys the environment.

Maybe I missed it Barret but I thought I noticed a complete lack of references to gov't...any gov't...in the film. It's all fiction, of course, but such a huge operation would seem to require gov't acceptance if not full support. Other then implying that earth was a great wasteland in this future time frame I found it interesting that no power beyond the corporation was depicted. I don't know much about Cameron's politics but what I've heard second hand makes me wonder if the script would have been different if Bush were still in office.

BTW --Got to see it on an IMAX screen...truly amazing. If you have access I think it's worth the extra $'s. Gonna wait a couple of months and go back and see what I missed...kinda got lost in the effects from time to time.

I just got back from Salt Lake City, where we blew some time during the snowstorm by seeing Avatar in 3D, not IMAX. It was a-mazing! Uplifting, hopeful, and of course impossibly optimistic. It's ironic that the USA should be so good at producing this kind of fantasy-for-profit for global consumption.

Salt Lake seemed like a typical urban wasteland: utterly dependent on massive energy inputs to keep its millions fed, watered, and warm. We took to the ski slopes one day just because, but the high point of my day was the two-hour bus ride to Snowbird with young, intelligent, idealistic people to talk with. The six-hour bus ride home, not so much, but that's what happens when something goes awry and there's only one road out of the canyon.

It's so good to be back in warm, wet Portland, ridding the land of the invaders like ivy and holly. It's about time to put in the garlic.

It's interesting that you found the film "uplifting". While I can appreciate the visual mastery, and approve of "s$&t blowing up" as much as the next man, I found it depressing that (i) the Na'vi survived purely because they happened to be as good at conventional battle as the earth military and (ii) most of the earth people ended up going home without any consideration of whether they'd been on the wrong side. It'd have been more powerful if Cameron had come up with better ways to link the Na'vi lifestyle with how they won, and at least had some actualisation of some changing views at the end, even if it came across as a bit cheesy. (Of coure he may be playing trilogy here in which case he can't actually resolve anything for another 6-ish hours.)

Interesting observation -- iirc, there wasn't much government in Aliens, either, only the ruthless "corporation" and the evil yuppie climber, Paul Reiser. I suspect it's just narrative convenience, an antagonist that's an easy target for the audience to cheer against. "Bedouins hate the phone company. Matter of fact, I've never been in a country where everybody didn't hate the phone company." (The President's Analyst, 1967)

Good point about "Aliens" Barrett...had forgotten that detail. In that movie the set up seemed basicly commercial ops. No "save mankind" motives. It didn't hit the back story to hard in 'Avator" other then to say earth was "all brown" or something like that. But if the mineral was worth $20 million/kg then it's probably safe to assume it was critical to the earth's economy if not survival. Difficult to not imagine the gov't sanctioning the activities in such a case. But, as you say, coporations are an easy target. Don't want to put a bad face on the gov't in case your firends end up being in control when the movie comes out. Does make youwonder that if McCain had won there would have been gov't markings on all that equipment though.

There's also the Blue Sun Corporation in Firefly (although the series cancellation by Fox meant no further TV-time to explore their relationship with The Alliance and River Tam). Earth is described variously as 'Earth-that-was', and 'used up'.

I've just seen on the BBC news (tv) that we can't even produce enough of our own grit/salt for the roads. Importing it from north Africa and expect it to arrive in the UK 'within days'. Hoo-bloody-ra.

Are we completely bloody useless?

We probably don't have the space left to store it at this population size.

I see Kingsnorth is still limping along [burning oil for electricity!]:


How will they get it from the docks on ungritted roads?

cross that bridge when we get to it. So long as it gets here then the government can say we have enough!

Writing from Brighton eh? Was a student there 20 tears ago. Happy days.

I live in Hove, (actually!!!)

and we have three inchometres of snow already tonight...

Seriously, not kidding, just saw a knuckle-scraping lunatic trying to pull a caravan up onto the Dyke (it's a hill, not the other kind!) with a fiat punto. With three inchometres of snow on the road? Are you kidding me? How the hell did this guy get passed natural selection?!

Johnny Foreigner I bet. The place is full of them. I was in 7 Dials btw.

On another note, a question for anyone who cares to answer. I read Stuart Stanifords article about Iraq's possible reserves being able to support 12mbpd within 6 years and as a result COULD delay PO by a decade. IMO this needs a detailed response by someone close enough to the industry to give an informed argument for OR against. It's on ASPO USA in the daily news section.

As a former controller for a aggregate corporation in Buffalo, New York, grit shortages are impossible unless Britian has banned aggregate quarries on the islands. Buffalo had plenty of snow, and we had over a 100 year plus supply of grit on the ground. For some persepective, we produced millions of tons of aggregate, and the demand for grit was well under 100,000 tons.

The grit is just a waste product. Grit is just small rock particles too small to be called sand. So every time some wants to use gravel for the roads, grit is produced by the screening and washing process to convert crusher runs to product sorted by size.

If you are importing all your sand and gravel, then a grit shortage merely reflects incompetent ordering by your logistics department.

I also do not believe in peak salt. Someone forgot to order that too.

Meanwhile, Chinas record for screwing up the nest they live in continues--

China water warning as oil spill hits Yellow River

Hundreds of emergency workers are trying to contain the leak
Pollution from a broken oil pipeline in northern China has now reached one of the country's major water sources - the Yellow River, state media say.

Trash to LNG: Landfill energy projects increasing

"We've built the largest landfill-to-LNG plant in the world; this plant produces 13,000 gallons a day of LNG,"

Interesting Turnbull. Do you know what a gallon of LNG sells for out there? the only pricing I could find was based upon mcf or mmbtu. I made a rough guess but at 13,000 gallons per day it appears to be a pretty good cash flow to offset that $15 million price tag.

so it begins.....

"An Otsego County mining operation that uses the controversial hydraulic fracturing method will have its fetid fluids treated at the city of Watertown's sewage treatment plant beginning today. Once treated, the approximately 35,000 gallons will be discharged into the Black River."

nuff sed.

"gloppal warning"


Friday's forecast low at McMurdo Station in Antarctica, near where Robert Scott launched his fatal expedition to the South Pole in 1911, is 21 degrees.

It will probably be colder in Houston.

nuff sed.

For the uneducated & uninformed, it is early summer in Antarctica.

Of course this "observation" has zero to do with Climate Change.


Regarding "uneducated & uninformed, it is early summer in Antarctica" , I'll have to correct that to roughly ; 2 weeks past Midsummer :-)
And coming from a Celsius-centric part of the world I lost my brain activity for a couple of seconds when reading about "21 degrees" on the S-pole. However my Fahrenheit calculator restored that activity swiftly..

After several weeks in Iceland I was QUITE confused by the time & temperature sign at Keflavik. I told my Icelandic friend, it can't possibly be that warm !

He then gently told me that they gave readings in both Celsius & Fahrenheit at the airport ;-) He was amused.

One cultural difference is the definition of summer. In the Northern Hemisphere, in the USA, the first day of summer is June 21st or 22nd.

Best Hopes for Reconciling Such Differences,


Thats why it should be called "climate change" - so that laymen can get it.

In Seattle this year we set absolute high temperature records. Last december we had record snows.

That is exactly what is expected. Climate change will cause higher peaks and also higher # of extreme weather events.

and what of this, oil conundrum buddies?
It's not really a question whether Utah will be the disposal site for three trainloads of depleted uranium from a government atomic-weapons complex cleanup in South Carolina.

It's a matter of how soon.

nuff sed.

me bad....

A nuclear power plant South Jersey was forced to partially shut down due to ice build-up on the Delaware River.

nuff sed.

A thought re this toplink, and the discussions about gas shortages:

Nigeria: Widening Scope of Social Unrest

Selective quote:
" Lagos — It is not an overstatement to note that the country is today in a state of anomie. No part of this nation is spared the social hardship ... occasioned by crippling and debilitating fuel shortages. ...
"The extreme confusions, disorderliness and chaos ... no urgent and concerted efforts are made by the concerned authorities ..."

Wasn't it William Gibson who said "the future is already here. It's just not very widely distributed yet" ..? Maybe, this year, it's going to start spreading.

Southwestern Rail Conference
January 28, 2010
Dallas, Texas