Drumbeat: January 13, 2010

The End of Retirement

Only 120 years old and widely available to the middle class for just the last 60 or so years, retirement is coming to an end. It is the unique product of several converging factors. The first was energy abundance in the form of fossil fuels, which allowed an ever-decreasing number of people to work the land to produce food for those that lived in the cities. Elevating great numbers of people above the daily grind of subsistence farming was necessary before the next factor could arise.

The second factor was the creation of a financial system that enabled us to “bank” future personal resource exploitation in the form of money. Online retirement calculators tell us how much money we need to retire but that money is clearly a proxy for the world’s resources. It would be impractical for the calculator to advise us to stockpile “2000 board-feet of wood for a new house, 20 lb of uranium for electricity and 400 gallons of jet fuel for foreign vacations.” Instead, it tells us to store money that we will in the future convert to resources. Once we have a nice stockpile of dollars or euros, the idea is to draw it down by converting it to foreign vacations (which are energy hogs, using in one or two weeks the amount of energy used by someone traveling by car for an entire year — simply because the destinations are often thousands of miles away), nice dinners (which bring an astonishing array of foods from around the world to an area no bigger than a dinner plate) and the occasional financial bailout of one’s children when they run out of money on a round-the-world trip.

Both of these factors are in the process of disappearing. We are not experiencing the popping of a short-term economic bubble like the tech boom or the tulip mania of several centuries ago. After this popping, there will be no significant recovery.

A Q4 refining headache for the oil majors

Seemingly the chasm between reality and investor fantasy is unlikely to abate any time soon. Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix noted on Tuesday that funds had now accumulated record length in exchange traded oil futures.

More disconcertingly still, large speculators had also piled into gasoline and heating oil futures in record proportions too.

Russia comes to the rescue as Norwegian gas supplies to Britain falter

Russia rescued British energy consumers by ensuring a steady flow of gas into the power network as supplies from Norway faltered during the cold weather, industry customers users said today.

As the National Grid warned of a "high" possibility of shortages in the north-east and south-west owing to another cold snap, the Major Energy Users' Council said Britain had been lucky to survive without shortages. Eddie Proffitt, chairman of the council's gas group, said: "The [British] gas industry has coped very well but we have been lucky. It would have been desperate if we had seen the kind of disputes between Russia and Ukraine that have reduced gas flows on the continent in the past two or three Januaries."

UK's energy regulator foresees threat to gas supplies

UK's energy regulator Ofgem foresees a looming threat to the country's gas supplies. It has warned that Britain's gas market faces a "cliff edge" in 2015-16, which could lead to short supply in the second half of the decade

Nigerian Anger at the U.S. Grows

ABUJA, Nigeria -- The alleged attempt by a Nigerian man to detonate a bomb on a U.S.-bound flight has frayed Nigeria's diplomatic ties with its No. 1 buyer of oil: the U.S.

Nigerian Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe said the country doesn't want to alienate its "traditional partners," but when the U.S. Transportation Security Administration recently included Nigeria among 14 countries of interest -- an effective security watch list -- officials and politicians in the West African nation were incensed.

Apache Fire at East Cameron 2 Platform, 1 Person Dead

(Bloomberg) -- Apache Corp. reported a fire aboard its East Cameron 2 processing platform in Louisiana state waters of the Gulf of Mexico about two miles off the coast of Cameron Parish.

East Timor ‘Required’ to Develop Sunrise LNG Project

(Bloomberg) -- Woodside Petroleum Ltd. said Australia, East Timor and partners of the Sunrise liquefied natural gas project are “required to develop the reservoir” as part of an agreement.

“Under the International Unitisation Agreement, the governments of Australia and Timor Leste and the Sunrise joint venture participants are required to develop the reservoir to the best commercial advantage,” Woodside’s spokeswoman Yvonne Ball said in an e-mail today.

Producing ‘Green’ Natural Gas in Canada?

In recent months, American legislators and energy experts have lavished attention on a carbon capture and storage project in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, where millions of tons of carbon dioxide from a North Dakota coal gasification plant are pumped into a large oil field to recover hard-to-reach pockets of fuel.

But in Fort Nelson in northern British Columbia, the natural gas giant Spectra Energy has been quietly investigating an alternative approach to carbon-capture, one that can produce clean electricity and won’t involve pumping more fossil fuel to the surface.

“The idea is to produce green natural gas,” says Gary Weilinger, vice-president of strategic development and external affairs for Spectra’s transmission unit in Calgary.

Green energy agency set to gain members

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) expects new members to join at its next meeting while China and world top oil exporter Saudi Arabia are to attend as observers, its head said on Wednesday.

IRENA was established last year to promote the development of the renewable energy industry worldwide. To date, 139 nations have joined the global organization which is headquartered in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Pickens reduces order for wind turbines, puts Panhandle wind farm on hold

T. Boone Pickens has cut his massive order for wind turbines from GE by more than half.

The energy investor, who made wind power a key part of his plan to wean Americans off foreign oil, said Tuesday he will now take delivery of 300 turbines, which he will use for wind farms in Canada and Minnesota.

None of the turbines will come to Texas, as originally planned.

A Picture of Our Post Peak Oil Food Supply

We have commented on several books in recent months that highlight how a world with limited oil resources will be forced to change. The idea that people will no longer be able to live in the suburbs and forced to move into metropolitan areas because of the lack of gasoline and high fuel prices seems extreme to us. The authors of these books believe that much about how Americans live must change as a result of Peak Oil. One change they often point to is that our diets will be different as the cost to deliver certain foods will become prohibitively expensive. Often cited are certain fish and seafood that come from foreign locations. These authors also believe Americans will be reassessing how food supplies are grown -- suggesting local gardens and farms will become our primary source of supply.

Nine meals from anarchy

A cold snap shows how fragile our supply of food and fuel is. We need a more sustainable system.

Protect Yourself from Food Supply Shortage with Survival Seed Kit Packed with Heirloom and Open Pollinated Seeds from Survival Seed Bank

The harvest that once produced food has now been designated for alternative uses and this move has seriously impacted what makes it to the food market. As more and more of this food fails to reach the consumer the greater the risk we are to face if we encounter a catastrophe. If anything were to slow the already inadequate food production we could face devastating shortages and incredible price hikes.

Recognizing the impact of such an event has led Survival Seed Bank to offer a “survival seed kit” which is packed with heirloom seeds, non-hybrid seeds and open-pollinated seeds that not only produce healthy fruits and vegetables but the seeds from those plants will continue to produce future crops, enabling you to grow a self-sustaining survival garden without fear of food shortages.

Iran suggests national currencies in joint energy projects: report

MOSCOW (Xinhua) -- An Iranian official suggested here on Wednesday that national currencies should be used in Tehran's joint projects on oil and gas with Russia.

"We want our national currencies to be used in our projects," said Iranian Deputy Petroleum Minister Hossein Noghrehkar Shirazi, as cited by the RIA Novosti news agency.

Venezuela's Devaluation a Boon for PDVSA in Short Term

Venezuela's currency devaluation should give state oil company PdVSA an immediate and much-needed boost to its budget. But President Hugo Chavez is likely to procure a large part of that windfall for social spending ahead of this year's congressional elections.

Oil in Mexico & United States Energy Security: A Tale of Symbiosis

On the outskirts of Houston, along the industrial ship canal, is a refinery known as Deer Park. It is the sixth largest refinery in the United States Its 340,000 barrel per day capacity makes it a critical refinery for the greater Houston fuels market. But what really sets the facility apart is that it is partially owned by Mexico’s national oil company, Petróleos Mexicanos, (Pemex).

The Deer Park refinery dates back to 1929, but in 1993 Pemex acquired a 50% stake from Shell and the two firms have run it as a joint venture since. The facility -- which receives roughly 240,000 barrels per day from Pemex oil fields in Mexico -- has continuously served the United States market for many years This has greatly contributed to US energy security of supply. While a significant amount of the refinery’s product is for US consumption, a portion of the output returns to Mexico.

Deer Park is a remarkable two-way street of oil connections between the United States and Mexico - and a microcosm of a larger symbiotic relationship. The refinery offers superb insight into a key international piece of the broader energy security discussion in the United States.

Industry warns of looming gas crisis as big freeze sends demand soaring

Warnings of serious and frequent disruptions to gas supplies have been issued by industry leaders.

Emergency gas rationing has been necessary in the past two weeks to divert supplies away from manufacturers to homes, hospitals and schools.

Approaching 100 companies have had their gas taps turned off as demand from ordinary families has soared to keep out the worst of the big freeze.

Now industry leaders fear this pattern of disruption could intensify in future years against a background of serious mismanagement of Britain's gas supply system.

At the same time, regulators believe Britain is at risk of shortages over the long term because it will become increasingly reliant on supplies from volatile regions such as Russia.

Kuwait: oil price fantastic, no need for OPEC supply change

(MENAFN - Arab Times) Kuwait's Oil Minister Sheikh Ahmad Abdullah al-Sabah said on Tuesday that the price of crude oil was "fantastic," as it stayed above $82 a barrel spurred by freezing temperatures.

Oil prices are "fantastic ... because of what is happening with the weather in Europe and as demand is picking up," the minister told reporters outside parliament.

Natural Gas Find May Spur Interest in Shallow Gulf Waters

Mostly left for dead years ago by Big Oil and scoured by smaller firms since, the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico are likely to get a second look by companies of all sizes after word Monday of what may be one of the largest discoveries in the area in decades.

Qatar sees bright prospects for GTL

Qatar, which is fast emerging as the ‘GTL capital of the world’, will see its GTL production rise to more than 174,000 barrels per day within two year.

BP to invest $10 billion in Egypt in next few years

CAIRO (Reuters) - BP Plc will spend $10 billion in Egypt on gas and oil exploration activities over the coming years, its chief executive officer was quoted on Wednesday as saying.

Egyptian state news agency MENA said Tony Hayward made the announcement after meeting the country's prime minister, Ahmed Nazif, and Oil Minister Sameh Fahmy.

ExxonMobil to Tap Millions from Mature Field in Texas

ExxonMobil Production Company announced a project at the Hawkins Field in northeast Texas to recover the equivalent of an additional 40 million barrels of oil, an amount equal to the annual energy needs of over one million Texas households.

"These advanced technologies breathe life into mature fields, thereby producing more resources for energy consumers."

Design work on Saudi's biggest gas plant done by 2011

Preliminary engineering and design work for Saudi Arabia's biggest gas plant should be completed by the first quarter of next year, an Aramco executive said.

State giant Aramco has switched focus to meeting domestic gas demand after completing last year a massive crude expansion project to boost output capacity to 12.5 million barrels per day.

Saudi Aramco: Gas plant at Khursaniyah is ready

(MENAFN) Saudi Aramco announced that the first unit of its gas processing plant at Khursaniyah oilfield is ready to start operations, Reuters reported.

The second unit is scheduled to start production in two to three months, said the company's Vice President for Project Management, Majid Al-Mugla.

Reports: Chinese power plants running out of coal

BEIJING - Dozens of Chinese power plants are running out of coal and might be forced to shut down this week as bitter winter cold boosts demand and snow hampers delivery of new supplies, state media said Tuesday.

China Puts Transport Of Coal On Priority To Ease Shortage

BEIJING (Bernama)-- China's Ministry of Railway has put coal transport their priority in the coming weeks to ease shortage of the fuel in Hunan, Jiangxi, Hubei and Henan provinces.

Many provinces and municipalities in central and eastern China are currently facing an energy crisis, where stockpile of coal had fallen to critical level as a result of increasing energy demand.

The transportation of coal has been also delayed by the acute cold weather.

Swallow bitter pill now - Eskom

It was better for the country to swallow the "bitter pill" of an electricity tariff hike now, Eskom's acting chief executive told hearings on the utility's price hikes yesterday.

"Let's absorb the shock of the increase now. We know this is a bitter pill we are asking the nation to swallow, but we will all ultimately benefit," Mpho Makwana told the hearing in Polokwane, Limpopo, organised by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa).

Police raid hideout for suspected stolen fuel

THE Police in Kampala yesterday raided a den where stolen fuel, some of it from the Force, was hidden before sale on the black market.

Detectives and officers from the Rapid Response Unit stormed the hideout on Ggaba Road in an afternoon operation that spanned over two hours.

A total of 60 jerrycans and six drums, several containing diesel, were recovered from the grave-like structures. They were covered mattresses.

Russian, Polish gas firms continue talks

WARSAW (Xinhua) -- The Polish oil and gas corporation PGNiG will continue ongoing gas supply talks with Russia's gas operator Gazprom Export, the company said here Wednesday.

PGNiG and Gazprom sat down in Moscow on Tuesday to a further round of gas talks launched several months ago. Poland wants to negotiate extra gas supplies from Russia after last year's stoppage of a 2.3 billion cubic meter contingent from the Russian-Ukrainian corporation RosUkr Energo.

Thailand: Power-bill cap prolonged

Electricity prices could be frozen until the end of the year as the government is considering capping the fuel tariff (Ft) adjustment beyond the end of August, according to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

The Green Con Job

The U.S. economy is sensitive to high energy prices. An aggressive push toward green power would result in the net loss of millions of jobs. There is a better way forward.

California Assembly Committee Approves Oil Tax Bill

Let the war over tax hikes begin.

And score the first battle Democrats yes, Republicans no -- just like last year.

Legislation to impose a new severance tax on oil and natural gas extraction to help bolster higher education funding passed the Assembly's Revenue and Taxation Committee by a party-line vote Monday.

KBR wins $350 mln in arbitration of Pemex dispute

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - U.S. engineering and construction company KBR Inc has won a $350 million award that resolves a 1997 dispute over payments from Pemex for platforms off the coast of Mexico.

It is the third recent arbitration award against Pemex Exploration and Production (PEP) for KBR's Mexican subsidiaries, all related to work done in the Bay of Campeche, Houston-based KBR said in a statement on Tuesday.

Judge Rules Against Alaska on Exxon Lease Rights

An Alaska Superior Court judge has ruled that the state improperly canceled Exxon Mobil Corp.'s lease rights to develop Point Thomson gas fields on the North Slope.

Judge Sharon Gleason said the Department of Natural Resources commissioner did not follow proper procedures in hearings on the ExxonMobil case, resulting in a "denial of due process" to the company, according to court documents. The decision was released Monday.

Thomas L. Friedman: Is China the Next Enron?

I am reluctant to sell China short, not because I think it has no problems or corruption or bubbles, but because I think it has all those problems in spades — and some will blow up along the way (the most dangerous being pollution). But it also has a political class focused on addressing its real problems, as well as a mountain of savings with which to do so (unlike us).

And here is the other thing to keep in mind. Think about all the hype, all the words, that have been written about China’s economic development since 1979. It’s a lot, right? What if I told you this: “It may be that we haven’t seen anything yet.”

You Say Offset, I Say Tax? Study Suggests Labels and Political Affiliation May Influence Preferences

Would you pay more for certain products to save the planet? That’s the question behind the burgeoning carbon-offset industry — proponents pay more money for carbon-producing activities (such as flying), with the idea that the carbon emissions will be balanced out by funding for alternative energy sources. At the same time, economists and climate scientists agree that a carbon tax would be the most effective means through which the U.S. could lower carbon emissions and pay for alternative energy production. However, politicians are reluctant to propose a carbon tax because taxes tend to be unpopular with constituents, especially with Republican voters. But does word choice, such as offset versus tax, really make a difference? And in addition, does our political affiliation influence how we respond to certain labels?

What I Learned By Not Getting into a Car for a Year

Adam Greenfield, a 29-year-old filmmaker born in England and now residing in San Francisco, decided that for an entire year, he would not get into any sort of automobile. No SUVs, taxis, or motorcycles. Not even a ride in a hybrid or electric car. His bicycle took him nearly everywhere he needed to go.

What was the point? For one thing, to prove that he could do it—and that others might be able to follow his lead, in ways big and small.

Portland ratchets up volunteer-led 'tool libraries' that lend tools for free

The city's first nonprofit tool library, founded in 2004 in North Portland, is up to 2,300 members. Its second, in Northeast, has already drawn 800 members in 16 months and just expanded to a far bigger space. A third, in southeast Portland, is scheduled to open this spring, which would make Portland the only U.S. city with a trio.

The volunteer-run tool libraries offer low-cost home and garden lessons as well as tools. They help people save money and connect to their community.

And they promote recycling and reuse.

City wants new urbanism, but developer says it won't sell

Alex Weis of Livesey told the commission his firm would love to pursue a cutting-edge project with housing over the top of quaint two-story shops, favoring mass transit and all the rest. But he says that's simply not feasible. "You can't rent office above retail; you can't rent apartments above retail," says Weis. "You just can't do it."

Joe Penhall: Humanity after apocalypse

Cormac McCarthy doesn't tell us the cause of the apocalypse. What did you imagine it might be?

McCarthy told me it was some kind of environmental meltdown. He has an office at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico, he loves hanging out there and a lot of his friends are environmental scientists, molecular biologists and physicists, so he's coming at it from a very scientific point of view. It's about what would happen if environmental meltdown continued to its logical conclusion: crops and animals would die, the weather would go out of control, there would be spontaneous wildfires and blizzards, you wouldn't be able to grow anything and the only thing left to eat would be tinned food and each other. But I was anxious not to quiz him too much about what happened because we wanted to preserve the mystique of it.

Brazil cuts ethanol blend to 20% as stocks hit lows

he world’s largest sugar-cane ethanol producer and consumer has lowered its mandated ethanol-gasoline blend as stocks of the biofuel hit lows and prices rise.

1,000m underground central heating system planned

(PhysOrg.com) -- A pioneering scheme to build a giant central heating system that will harness heat from deep underground is being developed by university scientists.

For the first time in the UK, a team of scientists and engineers, led by Newcastle University, plan to complete a twin borehole system that will allow warm groundwater to be continually cycled through rocks as deep as 1,000m.

World's communications network due an energy diet

The internet and other communications networks could use one-ten-thousandth of the energy that they do today if smarter data-coding techniques were used to move information around. That's the conclusion of Bell Labs, the research centre in Murray Hill, New Jersey, where both the laser and transistor were invented.

EGG-energy brings power to Africa with battery subscription service

(PhysOrg.com) -- By applying the NetFlix model of movie swapping to batteries, a team of researchers and students from MIT and Harvard is hoping to provide electricity to thousands of homes in Tanzania. Their start-up company, called EGG-energy, offers a battery subscription service where individuals can return a used battery and pick up a fully charged one when needed, about every three days. The strategy not only provides a safe, clean source of energy for basic needs such as lighting, radios, and cell phone charging, but it should also save customers up to 30% on annual energy costs.

Saudi Aramco Joins MIT Energy Initiative

The FINANCIAL -- Saudi Aramco recently joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative (MITEI) as a sustaining member.

According to Saudi Aramco, the five-year alliance will support MITEI’s research and development of new energy technologies and improve processing techniques for cleaner fuels.

Australian city's hottest night in 108 years

The Australian city of Melbourne has sweltered through its hottest night since 1902, with temperatures topping 34 degrees Celsius (93 degrees Fahrenheit), meteorologists said Tuesday.

Millions tossed and turned in the overnight heat in Australia's second city, with power cuts exacerbating the problem in some areas and some people even resorted to nocturnal trips to the beach to cool off.

Northern forests do not benefit from lengthening growing season

Forests in northern areas are stunted, verging on the edge of survival. It has been anticipated that climate change improves their growth conditions. A study published last week in Forest Ecology and Management journal shows that due to their genetic characteristics trees are unable to properly benefit from the lengthening growing season. Furthermore, the researchers were surprised to find that the mortality of established trees considerably promotes the adaptation of forests to the changing environment.

California Ties Cash to Energy

California might start paying people to cut their energy use.

On Monday, a state panel proposed that the lion's share of new fees California plans to impose on greenhouse-gas emissions should be returned to consumers in the form of tax cuts or annual dividend checks that eventually could exceed $1,000 for a family of four.

The proposal is part of an effort to find the best uses for proceeds from a carbon allowance auction. The panel argues that higher prices will drive consumers to use less of the fossil fuels that produce greenhouse gases.

At the same time, state officials hope to compensate for the pain inflicted on households by higher energy prices. They are considering using most of the money collected from the new fees to reduce taxes or pay annual dividends to consumers -- regardless of their energy spending. Consumers would benefit the most financially if they dramatically reduced their fuel bills.

Jeff Rubin: A massive public investment in obsolescence

As North American taxpayers take a look at the gleaming new models on display at Detroit’s auto show this week, they might well ask themselves just why they poured billions of dollars into saving GM and Chrysler when no one else would.

Politicians, local car dealers, parts suppliers and the auto workers’ unions told them it was to protect strategically vital jobs in their economies. But far from being essential to our economic future, those jobs are rapidly becoming obsolete—at least in this part of the world, where they are being funded by taxpayers’ money.

Asian automakers face battle to keep US dominance

DETROIT (AP) — Asian automakers grabbed their biggest chunk ever of the U.S. car and truck market in 2009, but they'll struggle to build on that momentum this year as rivals in Detroit offer a fleet of efficient, small cars.

Today's inscrutable car buyer

"..plants building the Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain and Cadillac SRX crossover vehicles and the Buick LaCrosse sedan are at capacity and can't satisfy demand."

Those three "crossovers" (small SUVs) are actually the exact same vehicle. The frame, chassis and most of the technical parts are identical. The bodies are a little different, a curve here, an indentation there. The interiors also vary a little.

All four vehicles do, however, share one characteristic: 1990s fuel economy.

GM: We'll sell more in China than the U.S. soon

DETROIT (CNNMoney.com) -- Chinese consumers bought more automobiles last year than Americans did for the first time. A top executive at General Motors thinks that it won't be long before it too will sell more cars in China than in its home market.

Peak oil is a chimera

So the pessimists are wrong — very wrong. Hopes for all the other alternative energy sources — solar, wind and wave — will only start to become realised when the oil price is consistently over about 150/barrel — and that day is presently far off.

Kunstler: Six Months to Live

The price of oil starts this week over $83 a barrel. That puts it about $1.50 from the price “danger zone” where it begins to kill economic activity in the USA. Things and procedures just start to cost too much. Gasoline. Deisel fuel (and, by the way, that means another problem for food production going into the 2010 planting season). One especially eerie situation the past few weeks has been the de-coupling of moves upward in oil from moves in the value of the dollar. Lately, oil has been going up whether or not the dollar has gone up or down. Two weeks ago the dollar went below 1.42 against the Euro and today it’s above 1.45, and oil has been rising steadily from the mid $70 range all the while. 2010 may be the year that we conclusively realize that world oil demand exceeds world oil supply — and that global oil production cannot hold above 85 million barrels-a-day no matter what we do.

Oil falls below $80 as US inventories jump

Oil prices slid below $80 a barrel Wednesday after China moved to curb bank lending and a report showed an unexpected jump in U.S. inventories of distillates and gasoline.

Oil May Rebound From $78, End Losing Streak: Technical Analysis

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil may rebound from its current three-day losing streak, possibly reaching as high as $87.20 a barrel, as long as prices don’t fall below $78, according to Societe Generale SA.

Oil is pulling back because its relative strength index shows prices have advanced too rapidly, said Stephanie Aymes, a commodity technical analyst at France’s second-largest bank by market value. Futures ended a 10-day climb on Jan. 7, the longest rally since February 1996.

Venezuelans Brace for Rolling Blackouts as Power Output Falters

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuelans will face rolling blackouts for the next five months starting today as the worst drought in 50 years threatens to shut the nation’s biggest hydroelectric plant and collapse the power grid.

The government will cut electricity for four hours every other day across the country after previous measures failed to slow the drop in water levels behind the Guri hydroelectric plant, which supplies 73 percent of Venezuela’s power, Electricity Minister Angel Rodriguez said yesterday on state television.

Ecuador minister resigns over Amazon oil project

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) -- Ecuador's foreign minister resigned Tuesday after President Rafael Correa criticized his handling of negotiations to prevent oil drilling in a pristine Amazon reserve.

Fander Falconi was the third government official to resign over a plan to seek international donations of $3 billion over the next 10 years to keep an estimated 850 million barrels of heavy crude oil under the ground in the remote Yasuni National Park.

Texas town welcomed drilling, now fears pollution

DISH, Texas – Like thousands of other Texans living atop one of the country's most productive natural gas fields, folks in this tiny town were giddy when drillers started offering up the fat checks.

The mayor likened it to the Gold Rush, and many of the 200 residents of a town that once sold its name to a satellite television company were hoping to be next in a long line of landowners to strike it rich by drilling into the Texas earth.

Many in the town on the rural plains of Fort Worth didn't even bother to ask whether the drilling might sour the air above the gas-rich rock formation called the Barnett Shale. "Nobody even thought about that kind of stuff," Mayor Calvin Tillman said.

Gas driller accused of zoning violation

GREENFIELD TWP. - The host municipality of the first and only Marcellus Shale natural gas well drilled in Lackawanna County has told the gas exploration company that it violated the township's zoning ordinance and must stop all drilling operations on the site.

BP, ConocoPhillips Pipeline to Invite Bids to Ship Alaskan Gas

(Bloomberg) -- The pipeline venture of BP Plc and ConocoPhillips will in April invite bids from companies interested in shipping Alaskan natural gas to Canada and the rest of the U.S. to gauge demand for the $30 billion project.

The “open season” will last until at least October, Denali -- The Alaska Gas Pipeline LLC said in a statement. It will allow the project to understand potential needs and to “consider our next steps,” Bud Fackrell, Denali’s president, said in the statement on the project Web site yesterday.

Bomb blast cuts gas supplies to 214,000 in Russia

The bomb went off at 08:09 pm Moscow time (1709 GMT) at the 496th km of the Mozdok-Kazimagomed pipeline in Dagestan's Derbent area. A fire and gas supply suspension ensued, a spokesman for the regional emergencies ministry said.

Around 214,000 people living in five rural districts of Dagestan and the city of Derbent have been left without gas supplies. Local temperatures stood around 10 degrees Celsius.

Total Says Refinery Strike Has No Significant Impact

(Bloomberg) -- Total SA, Europe’s biggest oil refiner, said a strike by workers in France hasn’t had a “significant” impact on operations.

“There is no significant impact on activities at the sites concerned,” Michael Crochet-Vourey, a Total spokesman, said in a telephone interview from Paris, where the company is based.

Russian gas flows in question

Russian oil flows to one of two Belarussian refineries could be suspended within 24 hours because oil companies are unwilling to confirm volumes due to an ongoing pricing dispute, Russia's pipeline monopoly said today.

Dubai Sees First Private Power Plant Contract in 2011

(Bloomberg) -- Dubai aims to sign its first contract with private investors to generate power by the end of the first half next year as it seeks infrastructure investment, an official with the emirate’s government-owned utility said.

The utility plans to issue a tender for a 1,500-megawatt power and desalination plant in the second half this year and to award a contract in 15 to 18 months, Waleed Ali Ahmed Salman, vice president of business development at Dubai Electricity & Water Authority, said by telephone today.

Gas Natural Raises 2.2 Billion Euros as Debt Costs Fall

(Bloomberg) -- Gas Natural SDG SA, Spain’s largest gas company, raised 2.2 billion euros ($3.2 billion) of bonds in the company’s first sale in almost three months as the cost of borrowing for investment-grade companies tumbled.

US nonprofits sue over patent to feed hungry

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – A pair of American nonprofits want to ramp up production in the next year of a high-protein peanut butter-like paste that could feed some of the more than 1 billion people around the world who don't have enough to eat.

But Breedlove Foods Inc. and the Mama Cares Foundation believe one thing stands in their way: U.S. patent No. 6,346,284, held by a French company and a French government research institute that are pioneers in so-called ready-to-use foods — food intended for the severely malnourished. The American nonprofits filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C., last month challenging the patent.

Green films strive to raise awareness

The festival began with “Mama Earth,” a short, often humorous look at what humans have done to the planet with a dressing down from Mother Earth herself.

According to the film, the earth’s resources have been valued at $33 trillion. The prices charged for consumer goods are not on par with the full cost of resource destruction. The solution: Think before spending money.

Cocagne joins international network of green communities

Spokesman Mathieu D'astous said the group's first event highlights the importance of supporting a local food supply and reducing the community's dependence on a globalized supply chain.

"Feeding ourselves in the future is a major issue," said D'astous, noting that peak oil will make the shipping of food more difficult and expensive.

"It's something we want to do, which is to push the local food agenda and see how we can learn to support our family farms."

Moving the metropolis

As suburbia eats up proximate farming land, a climate responsive urban growth pattern is put further out of reach for Australian cities.

With this in mind, recognizing the rural context when considering the issues of urban development is particularly important.

Under the current economic model, food production, packaging and distribution contribute to more than 20 per cent of our energy use. Most of this is consumed by packaging and distribution, so localizing and intensifying food production could easily alleviate rising food prices. This is the Transition Town notion of decoupling food from oil.

Pioneering Towns Are Rushing to Kick the Carbon Addiction -- Has Yours?

This is a cultural shift involving people at all levels of the community, from tiny rural towns in red states to major metropolitan areas.

For-profit Education

The other thing a global economy had to have if it was going to work was a plentiful and cheap supply of oil. If the world is not now on the downside of the Peak Oil curve, its close enough for government work in the US, China, India, Russia, the EU. Rulers in these developed and developing countries have begun to act along those lines. For instance, the US won’t be getting out of the Middle East anytime soon for the oil supply it offers. US military presence there has nothing to do with silly bleatings over “underwear bombers” or terrorist threats. And for another instance, economic nationalism, in the form of US tariffs on Chinese steel to give one example, is the wave of the future. Globalization cannot withstand the end of free trade or oil driven trade but it faces both.

Oil sands victimized over climate

OTTAWA - Alberta's oil sands should not be singled out as the villain responsible for Canada's poor record on climate change, says a new study released yesterday by an independent research group.

The report, by the Conference Board of Canada, said that governments must focus on a balanced approach that targets both consumers and producers to adequately address rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Engineering a Better Climate

Aerosol particles, seawater mist, and transparent screens in space—can these seemingly madcap geo-engineering ideas be the answer to global warming?

Gore Urges Senate to Defend EPA’s Power to Limit Greenhouse Gas

(Bloomberg) -- Former Vice President Al Gore joined a dozen Senate Democrats in opposing a Republican effort to block the Environmental Protection Agency from placing limits on greenhouse-gas emissions.

The Republicans may soon try to “strip” the EPA of “its ability to regulate most carbon pollution, letting the worst polluters off the hook,” Gore, who won an Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to publicize global warming, said yesterday in an e-mail to supporters.

Carbon tax wrong way to tackle climate: EU trade chief-to-be

BRUSSELS — Incoming European Union trade chief Karel De Gucht on Tuesday ruled out pursuing French-led calls to impose a carbon tax at the EU's borders, warning that such ideas risk triggering trade wars.

"In terms of border adjustments, I'm against it," De Gucht told lawmakers in response to a question during a European parliamentary confirmation hearing in Brussels.

"I don't see that as the right approach -- it's one that will lead to lots of practical problems."

James Hansen rails against cap-and-trade plan in open letter

"You are choosing the path focused on corporate greed," climate scientist James Hansen has told carbon traders in a open letter which he and climate activists attempted to deliver to a carbon trading conference in New York today.

Insurance Group Says Stolen E-Mails Show Risk in Accepting Climate Science

A major trade group for the insurance industry is warning that it is "exceedingly risky" for companies to blindly accept scientific conclusions around climate change, given the "serious questions" around the extent to which humans cause atmospheric warming.

Latin America's water needs could foster collaboration to curb global warming

Ask the mayor of a city in the Andes mountains about the outcome of December's climate negotiations in Copenhagen, and you will probably receive a perfunctory reply. Ask about the plummeting levels of local freshwater reservoirs, and you will get an earful.

The reason goes to the heart of the disagreements that split the industrialized and developing countries and prevented a long-term, binding agreement to curb global warming. But it also offers a path toward a more productive approach to north-south collaboration on climate change.

The world's poorest country is a whole lot poorer this morning.

Totoneila always kept a close watch on Haiti I recall.

Head of UN in Haiti, Hedi Annabi, reported dead along with Chinese delegation he was meeting at time and most UN staff in building at time.

Single piece of good news is that main airport now open again for incoming aid flights.


Port-Au-Prince, HA (Airport)
Updated: 1 hr 6 min 33 sec ago
Partly Cloudy
27 °C

METAR MTPP 1400Z 09005KT 9999 FEW024 27/20 1021.4

Haiti earthquake: Bodies piled up on the streets as disaster leaves 'thousands' dead

* Red Cross fears around three million people affected by 7.2 quake
* Up to 250 UN staff believed dead after headquarters collapse
* Charities launch emergency appeals to help stricken survivors
* Presidential palace crumbles, hospital collapses and houses swept away
* Quake felt in Jamaica, Cuba and Dominican Republic

Bloodstained bodies are piled high in the streets of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince today amid fears that thousands have died in a catastrophic earthquake.


Speaking of Totoneila, btw, how could he, of all drummers, lose his interest in PO? Has he been watching to many Celente stuff?

There is a difference in loosing interest and deciding its not worth investing further effort in as there will not be payoffs.

He lost a SO over his PO 'fuss'n'

And really, what was he going to do to up his odds anyway? (the same can be said for most of us BTW)

"He lost a SO over his PO 'fuss'n'

Wow- I knew there was an intuitive reason for not including my wife in my PO ruminations. She is a naturally happy, positive person and I have spared her my BS generally, and PO specifically.

What is this SO that Toto lost?

I miss him too.

mac, I assume that's "significant other."

Speaking on CNN Haiti Prime Minister says he fears death toll over 100,000. Possibly much higher.

Haiti is going to be a case study in how the world deals with environmental refugees.

Should the US and other "rich nations" open up their borders and allow these poor, struggling people to emigrate?

Is it really overpopulation which causes Haiti's misery, or is the overpopulation another symptom of Haiti's misery? When you read the history of Haiti it's not a clear case at all.


Should the US and other "rich nations" open up their borders and allow these poor, struggling people to emigrate?

No, absolutely not. That will only increase the amount of suffering in the long run. People must be forced to stay where they are and suffer the consequences of their local overshoot. If we allow environmental refugees to go wherever they want the whole world is soon going to look like Haiti.

Speaking of, India is building a fence to keep out Bangladeshi climate refugees:

In Bangladesh, climate change refugees flee to cities; India refugee wall nears completion

This area borders India, where the authorities are building a border barrier, a high fence of reinforced barbed wire that cuts through the paddy fields. Soon it will completely encircle Bangladesh, 2,100 miles of it.

Uh, over 1M Haitians already live in the US. Pretty phenomenal number from such a poor country. I can't blame any of them for wanting to leave, but this points out the issue of world over-population -- people will flee the spoiled areas first, and it is likely to leave the entire earth bare by the end.

SolarDude - That was actually a rhetorical question. Yesterday before the eruption most of the nation of Haiti was about as miserable as they are today. But the nature of a natural disaster is it will have a good chance of moving large governmental bodies to deal with the consequences of overshoot. It's way overdue.

People must be forced to stay where they are and suffer the consequences of their local overshoot.

But Dude...get a heart!


If we allow environmental refugees to go wherever they want the whole world is soon going to look like Haiti.

If you were an American Indian, you could point to ancestral experience to buttress your point.

The third world is not third because of character flaws, but rather because the first world sucks the blood out of them. It was only a few years ago that the US swooped down, scooped up Aristide, and shipped him off to Africa (or perhaps someplace else first - I forget). Such a small little adventure by today's standards. We have been trying to restore Haitian like peonage in Cuba for over 50 years, but without success.

As it is, the whole world is going to look like Haiti if we stay the course. How far beyond the tent cities do we have to go to get there?

Let's see whenever the Haitians put in a government the USA doesn't like, the USA marines get sent in (or equivalent). Yes, clearly, everything is the Haitians fault (sarconol off). Let's see, the USA has helped keep repressive governments in power thru-out the Americas, therefore any problems are the locals' fault. Yeah right! The logic fails me.

The third world is not third because of character flaws, but rather because the first world sucks the blood out of them.

No doubt that is a significant part of the problem. But the question of why some countries do well, and some do not is a very important question. Clearly culture and institutions matter as well. My hunch is that these local factors probably account for the lions share of the differences. This of course doesn't give us who were more fortunate a free pass, this is really just a case of people who weren't given a choice which parents and society they were born into. I suspect a lot of the rich world exploitation is a result of the opportunity (for predatory practices), that cultural flaws allow. And of course being preyed upon rarely helps one develop a healthy culture.

Hello enemy of state,

re: "I suspect a lot of the rich world exploitation is a result of the opportunity (for predatory practices), that cultural flaws allow."

Are you saying "Guns Don't Kill People - the cultural flaw of allowing one's country to be invaded by those with more firepower" kills people?

I think he was referring more to the example Jared Diamond points out. Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the same island. You can see where the border is, because the Dominican side of Hispaniola is green and lush, while the Haitian side is brown and denuded.

Though that may be changing, as the Haitians grow more desperate.

To put it another way, if rich nations take in people from the overcrowded nations, it enables the overcrowded nations to avoid making the hard choices to deal with the overpopulation problem.

Kind of like lending money to someone with a gambling problem.

It also prevents the less crowded nations from benefiting from population control. As has been discussed here multiple times, those prone to over-procreate will out-produce those who limit reproduction.

Malthus rides only one horse - Starvation. This earthquake will bring in Death and probably Pestilence as well. Haiti has three of the Four Horsemen riding now.

Mr. Solar Dude,
If you showed up hungry at my front door and I had plenty of food would it be okay to remind you that your hunger is your own fault and you deserve to drop dead because of your own choices? Disasters can happen anywhere in the world and not only physical disasters but also financial ones. You never know when a severe illness may strike you and you will count on my insurance premiums and/or my taxes to keep you above ground. Perhaps we should find someplace for misers to live and die so people of good will won't be called on to help them in their time of need.

Hi Solar,

re: "People must be forced to stay where they are and suffer the consequences..."

Spoken like someone who hasn't suffered.

Pat Robertson: Haitians 'Swore A Pact To The Devil' (VIDEO)

Well now we know, Haiti's problems all stem from the fact that they made a pact with the Devil. Glad we have good people like Pat Robertson to explain why we have all the terrible natural disasters. God is punishing the bad people for making deals with the devil, hundreds of years ago.


Too bad Reverand Robertson can't read a textbook:

Following the arrival of Europeans, Haiti's indigenous population suffered near-extinction, in possibly the worst case of depopulation in the Americas. A commmonly accepted hypothesis attributes the high mortality of this colony in part to Old World diseases to which the natives had no immunity. The colonists also killed a considerable number of the natives both directly and indirectly by enslavement and murder.

A passage from Henri Christophe's personal secretary, who lived more than half his life as a slave, describes the crimes perpetrated against the slaves of Saint-Domingue by their French masters:

"Have they not hung up men with heads downward, drowned them in sacks, crucified them on planks, buried them alive, crushed them in mortars? Have they not forced them to eat excretement? And, having flayed them with the lash, have they not cast them alive to be devoured by worms, or onto anthills, or lashed them to stakes in the swamp to be devoured by mosquitoes? Have they not thrown them into boiling cauldrons of cane syrup? Have they not put men and women inside barrels studded with spikes and rolled them down mountainsides into the abyss? Have they not consigned these miserable blacks to man-eating dogs until the latter, sated by human flesh, left the mangled victims to be finished off with bayonet and poniard?"

Those devils was White Europeans...


They killed the French on the island, they have ruled themselves for a very long time. They cut down the forests, they failed to control population, they are reaping the consequences.

Actually the USA has ruled them for much of the last 200 years.
See who kicked out the last President.


The U.S. and the UN occupy Haiti because it would turn into a disaster if they didn't. I don't see how the U.S. has completely ruled Haiti for 200 years, we don't control the Dominican Republic, we have a small number of forces in Haiti because it is a failed state on our doorstep. We used to control Cuba but don't anymore, Cuba is not a failed state.

First it was the French and reparations for their freedom after a long bitter struggle. But US control goes back far enough that we are one of the major causes of their failed state.

The USA and France bear much, perhaps most, of the blame for their failed state with the USA bearing the larger blame.

Two quotes (of many) Through American manipulation, 40% of the national income was used to alleviate the debt repayment to both American and French banks.

President Dartiguenave dissolved the legislature after its members refused to approve a constitution written by Franklin D. Roosevelt



Maybe we could put his holy righteousness to the test by sending him to Haiti to perform a national exorcism and then maybe his god would come down and rebuild Port Au Prince.

What a scumbag!

Haiti is a Malthusian nightmare, but France in 1700 wasn't a whole lot better off. Or England for that matter.

I already made my donation to a respected charitable organization. I hope others here will do the same.

I agree with you , Paul.

The roots of the problem are many, and so intertangled that nothing is to be gained from discussing them in terms of blame at this time.

In the end however Haiti 's basic problem is overpopulation-not that overpopulation has anything to do , so far as I can see , with the occurence of earthquakes. Perhaps if Haiti had been more prosperous thier buildings would have been better constructed, but this does not necessarily follow.Even a rich country hit by such a devestating problem relative to it's size would be in serious trouble and in need of large amounts of aid.

I tend to be a short term pessimist but a long term optimist-my estimation is that Haiti is so far gone into poverty , environmental degradation, and overpopulation that thre is no way that the country can be stabilized.

I am afraid Haiti is a classical example of overshoot and that there is nothing that can be done that WILL be done to help them out of thier long term fix.

Farmers see this sort of thing play out in the real world every year -a population of this or that species breaks out and runs away and suffers the ultimate consequence-dieoff.

I used to go out in the fields and help the process along with some parathion or some other equally obnoxious poison before the bugs ate up the crop.One way of looking at this from the ethical pov is that by killing a hundred thousand beetles I prevented a million from starving a few weeks later, not to mention saving my crop.( We have learned how to manage the pests a lot better nowadays and use far fewer chemicals far less often than in days gone by.)

I will donate a few bucks-I'm not well off myself.

It might be considered a crime against humanity but if we could send the Air Force over and SPRAY Haiti with some long lasting birth control drug(currently non existent ) every few years there might be some help for them. Seriously,it's hard to see anything less drastic getting the job done.

I try to follow the Christian philosphy of kindness and understanding but at the same time I try to be a realist.Television preachers are just parasitic scumbags like divorce lawyers or crooked cops or on the make politicians and have little or nothing to do with the real meaning of a religion.

There is a very real danger when dealing with refugees that the flow can overwhelm the country recieving them.The cops in France are afraid to go places in some French cities now as I hear it over the net, and there are nieghborhoods in many places along our own southern border where things aren't much better.

Now I can understand the motivations of the politically correct element in this country but reality demands that unless we recognize "us" and "them " as a fact there will no longer be an "us".

Of course this means very little to me personally because my long run is mostly in the past and I will be worm food in a couple more decades at most.

OFM - It is my wish that this earthquake will force people to look at the reality of overshoot. It's a shame that a poor country such as Haiti has to suffer such abject suffering in order for the rest of the world to come to the realization that too many humans is the problem.


The population density in Haiti is about the same as in Holland. The big difference is that Haiti is far down the road to Olduvai.

Not all areas have the same carrying capacity, population density is not the only factor.

Han - You misunderstand population density. Holland is an industrial country. They can afford to externalize food and resources. Haiti OTOH is a poor undeveloped country. They cannot afford externalities therefore everything is internalized.

The idea that the Haitians through their careless disregard for limits put themselves in this situation is preposterous. If you want to know why read Jared Diamond's Collapse and then discover the long tragic history of Haiti since Chris discovered it in 1492.


I just want to say ... you have burned that phrase into my mind.

The world's poorest country just got poorer


And I can't help but recall St Matthew Island and Easter Island.

Obama to Announce Fee on 20 Banks to Recoup TARP

“The politics on this is really quite easy,” said Doug Elliott, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington and a former managing director at JPMorgan Chase & Co. “The public would be supportive of anything up to shooting and burning the bankers.”

As the amazing stock market rally goes flat the fear and anger is resurfacing.

“The public would be supportive of anything up to shooting and burning the bankers.”

Not until after they have a fair trial. Of course it may be difficult to put together a jury.

Considering the revelations about the Fed, GS, AIG etc. I wonder why 'the public' might feel that way.

The removal of Tim Geithner and Larry Summers would be a good place to start.

I’m sick and tired of hearing things from uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites. All I want is the truth.
John Lennon



After plunging all of us into a greed-induced WW depression, investment banks have had their collective butts covered with a big TARP and a sweetheart no-interest borrowing scheme that allows them to make brand new risky bets and overseas investments whilst paying themselves fat little bonuses. That or they lend the money right back to us in the form of interest bearing T-bills and then line their pockets with those profits.

Personally if they took all the blame for peak oil it wouldn't bother me a bit.

Letter to Financial Times

The vulnerability of our energy system has been exposed

Published: January 13 2010 02:00 | Last updated: January 13 2010 02:00

From Mr Stephen Radley and Mr Jeremy Nicholson.

Sir, We are concerned at the complacent nature of some of the comments about the UK’s energy supply following the unprecedented series of gas balancing alerts issued by the National Grid in the past few days (Reports). Many brushed off the interruptions to supply as a one-off, and by claiming that those who paid the price were on interruptible contracts and have cheaper bills. This misses the point.

The bottom line is that the UK energy system was unable to meet the needs of all consumers. Had no, or not enough, interruptible contracts been in place and generators not been able to switch to coal, customers on firm contracts would have been facing cut-offs. The cut-offs could have been more significant still had the cold snap and supply disruptions not been offset by the lower than usual business demand for energy brought about by the recession.

To dismiss last week’s interruption as a one-off also ignores the growing risks associated with increasing dependence on gas from overseas...

Stephen Radley,

Jeremy Nicholson,
Energy Intensive Users Group

EIA's Non-OPEC predictions of two years ago; how good were they?

The EIA's monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook came out yesterday. For some reason I saved, as an Excel file, their Non-OPEC predictions of two years ago, January 2008. I had to make one correction because their Non-OPEC predictions in Jan. 2008 did not include Indonesia but their results posted this month did include Indonesia. Indonesia was still counted as an OPEC nation in that report. There was not a problem with Ecuador because they were included as OPEC in the Jan. 2008 report.

Therefore the Indonesian production for 2008, 1.05 mb/d, and 2009, 1.02 mb/d, had to be subtracted to get the correct number. Anyway, the results, less Indonesia: (Keep in mind this is All Liquids, not C+C in million barrels per day.)

             2008    2009
Predicted:   50.21   51.76
Actual:      48.61   49.27
Difference:   1.60    2.49

So their 2008 predictions were off by 1.6 mb/d and their 2009 predictions were off, on the high side, by almost 2.5 mb/d. A 2.5 million barrel per day in just two years is a whopping error! However it does appear that the EIA has now lowered their expectations of Non-OPEC production, though I still think they are too high. They are predicting Non-OPEC All Liquids production to peak in 2010.

Ron P.


Gregor has a post on this today.


Dwestlund, Gregor seems to make a big deal of the October numbers. I contend that this is an anomaly. Normally, every month, there are two or three big gainers and two or three big losers. The October data showed three big gainers, Norway, the U.K. anc Canada. Virtually all the gain was in these three countries. There were no big losers in October, which is highly unusual. At any rate, the trend will continue... down!

2009 Non-OPEC production will finish the year at about 300,000 bp/d below 2007 levels and half a million barrels per day below their peak in 2004.

Edit: After reading Gregor's full article, he seems to agree with me that this was an anomaly.

Ron P.

Gotta love the article about Dubai's new power plant -- Dubai Sees First Private Power Plant Contract in 2011. The article describes a new power plant in the works but there is no mention of what will power the power plant.

I suppose it's safe to assume that all new power plants in the Middle East will burn natural gas but the omission of this important fact belies a deeper ignorance about where our energy comes from.

Looking more closely at a Hassyan project page I see:

Construction of a 1500 MW power plant (including gas turbines associated with heat recovery steam generators, auxiliary boilers, back pressure steam turbines and all associated facilities) and a 100-120 million g/d desalination plant (including multi-stage flash desalination units, seawater pumps, drinking water pumps, and all associated works).

The plant will include four gas turbines, two steam turbines and seven desalination units.

OK. Fine. Natural gas it is. Dubai needs to build another power plant to meet increased demand for electricity and fresh water. They need to provide for their rapidly expanding population. No problem, but it would be nice to know how much natural gas they expect to use in a day/month/year.

But we are reminded that Saudi Arabia is also rushing to build more gas fired power plants to provide for its rapidly expanding population. And what about the other nations surrounding the Persian Gulf with rapidly expanding populations? Let's take a look at natural gas supply and demand in the Persian Gulf as a whole. From the Energy Export Databrowser:

According to this chart, Qatar and Oman are the only nations currently exporting natural gas while Iran and the UAE are importing and Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are self-sufficient. The biggest producers in the Gulf are Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE. I know there is still more natural gas to be developed in the region but recent increases in demand have outstripped increases in supply and show no sign of letting up.

Have we reached peak natural gas export from the Persian Gulf?

-- Jon

what will power the power plant.

Steam from fission reactors.

What could possibly go wrong?

It's a power plant, fer cryin' out loud - it manufactures power. I think we should build more of those too, then we would not be so dependent on imported power.


recent increases in demand have outstripped increases in supply

is obviously wrong! Exports increased in 2008.

However, I expect this statement will become true for the region in the next few years as these new power plants come on-line.

-- Jon

Hickenlooper's hat in ring for Colorado governorship

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, the quirky non-politician's politician, the guy who thought about running for governor before but backed out at the very last minute, is officially in this year's race.

Hickenlooper has spoken at ASPO-USA conferences in Colorado in the past.

He should be elected on the basis of his name. Governor Hickenlooper. It sings.

Senator Hickenlooper R of Iowa 1945-1969 B 1869 D 1971 101 years


I've been noticing an upsurge of "Peak Oil Is Here/Peak Oil Is A Myth", "Oil prices going up/Oil prices going down" stories. Don't be surprised by this. I fully expect to see such back-and-forth, along with a general rising of tempers, about all this for at least the next several years. Many here have said that the date for peak oil is going to be clear only in retrospect, and I suspect this is true. It may actually take quite a few years post peak before we start seeing a shift toward the "Why didn't anyone tell us/We told you so" type of articles.

It may actually take quite a few years post peak before we start seeing a shift toward the "Why didn't anyone tell us/We told you so" type of articles.

I think we may never see such articles. Peak oil may never be recognized.

I think we may never see such articles. Peak oil may never be recognized.

why is that?

Few people seem to understand how much energy we use and the role it plays in our daily lives - we've been swimming in so much energy for so long we can no longer even see it, like fish cannot see the ocean. As things start to fall apart due to the increasing costs of energy (both in terms of energy and money), I doubt they will suddenly begin to see it. Instead it will be framed in terms of other things, and focus will be diverted to scapegoating, etc.

Beyond that, the idea of peak oil means that all we have built was really just a result of our exploitation of cheap and bountiful energy (and other resources), as opposed to our exceptional, magnificent abilities. That's not a message that people want to understand, so they won't. Climate change, in contrast, tells us that we are so powerful we can change the planet. I expect that hundreds of years from now people will still be trying to achieve the dream of restoring the former glory of the industrial age, not understanding the reasons it ended.

why is that?

Because people generally don't get it. They are not familiar with the science behind it and they will try to blame symptoms of PO on any possible cause available. Heck, they already do. CERA blames it on the above-ground problems, as if those below the ground didn't matter at all and geology wasn't important, economists blame it on the Great Recession, religious people might on the second coming of messiah or apocalypse, technofix cornucopians on slow progress of new drilling technology (where are those superb fiftiary recovery turbodrilling rigs already?!) and so on. There are sooo many groups with sooooo many agendas that peak oil crowd is a tiny minority here. You had to scream like h311 to be heard in all that noise... And we are still "those stupid pessimists that were proven wrong so many times and will be proven wrong again" so probably we will be dismissed because we a priori can't be right. :P
So that's why. ;)

Yes. That, and the fact that reality tends to be messy, and the problems will be so interlinked and complex that it will be hard to point to a single cause.

Look at the disagreement among historians today on why Rome collapsed. Everything from high taxes to moral decadence to "peak wood" are blamed.

Look at the disagreement among historians today on why Rome collapsed. Everything from high taxes to moral decadence to "peak wood" are blamed.

If the average person doesn't quite grasp non linear dynamics, chaos theory, tipping points or network science then I'd recommend they buckle down and bone up on all those subjects.

Your toe bone connected to your foot bone,
Your foot bone connected to your ankle bone,
Your ankle bone connected to your leg bone,
Your leg bone connected to your knee bone,
Your knee bone connected to your thigh bone,
Your thigh bone connected to your hip bone,
Your hip bone connected to your back bone,
Your back bone connected to your shoulder bone,
Your shoulder bone connected to your neck bone,
Your neck bone connected to your head bone,
I hear the word of the Lord!

(James & Rosamund Johnson)

They could also read Barabási, Albert-László, Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else, ;-)

Hello F,

Or, just try growing their own food, making their own clothes from the cotton plant/sheep onward, treating own injuries...

The reason Settling, is in my opinion, that people will blame the decline of the economy, the government not allowing drilling here or there, and the incompetence of the national oil companies. That is they will blame it on anything except geology! Therefore the peak in production is not really the final peak, they will claim, it is just a temporary setback.

Ron P.

losers dont write the history books... and the probability rises, everyday, that america is on the short end of these geological sticks we're faced with.

taking that into account, it's very likely that historians in the future ---aka the winners--- will connect dots that are way too obvious to ignore unless you're a member of a culture that's been deliberately dumbed down for generations.

I think you are speaking of the far future and we are speaking of the near future, that is those who deny peak oil today will never admit that oil has peaked in their lifetime.

Of course 100 years from now everything will be crystal clear to historians as well as everyone else.
Ron P.

In an energy constrained future a far smaller percentage of a much smaller population will be able to get by without directly participating in food production. Maybe some of them will be historians, and a portion of those will understand the role that resource depletion (especially energy) played in the downfall of our society. The rest will believe what their church tells them.

Historians still argue to this day on why and how the Roman Empire fell. Theories span far and wide.

peak in gold, silver, tin and copper production
bubonic plague
lead poisoning
greed - corruption
social decay

It has taken scientists 100 years to unlock the secrets of the Antikythera Mechanism. Fascinating stuff: http://www.scientificamerican.com/video.cfm?lineup=1406165298&id=5221728...

That is truly a tribute to human ingenuity! Thanks for the link. It is awesome by any standard but given the historical context and times when it was made, it really is mind blowing!


As an amatuer historian and scientifically and technically literate farmer I can say with reasonable certainty "all of the above, plus many more."

It really doesn't matter if there was a single straw that might have been the proximate cause of the decrepit old camel's back breaking in terms of understanding the fate of Roman power.It doesn't matter when you are ninety and have a dozen potentially fatal illnesses or chronic problems which one takes you out-another one, or a combination, would have gotten you in a few days.

But if I had to come down in any particular camp , I would voter for a combination of resource depletion and corruption/ complacency/Roman style pork barrel politics.

This latter issue is sometimes referred to as bread and circuses but it was far more extensive than that.

Even if that's the case, the story will be able to be written from numerous positions, from all sorts of 'Resource Wastings', like Water, Habitat Destruction, Agricultural Misuse, from a view that our economical model was the reason we went on such a devastating route.. they may simply not choose to emphasize energy as a cause, but one of many upshots of another 'core' problem.

Personally, I think it was the Infomercials that did us in.. that, and those mysterious chemicals in the Auto Air Fresheners.

Still Legal in Thirteen States!

* Warning: Pregnant women, the elderly, and children under 10 should avoid prolonged exposure to Happy Fun Ball.
* Caution: Happy Fun Ball may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds.
* Happy Fun Ball contains a liquid core, which, if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at.
* Do not use Happy Fun Ball on concrete.
* Discontinue use of Happy Fun Ball if any of the following occurs:
o itching
o vertigo
o dizziness
o tingling in extremities
o loss of balance or coordination
o slurred speech
o temporary blindness
o profuse sweating
o heart palpitations
* If Happy Fun Ball begins to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head.
* Happy Fun Ball may stick to certain types of skin.
* When not in use, Happy Fun Ball should be returned to its special container and kept under refrigeration. Failure to do so relieves the makers of Happy Fun Ball, Wacky Products Incorporated, and its parent company, Global Chemical Unlimited, of any and all liability.
* Ingredients of Happy Fun Ball include an unknown glowing green substance which fell to Earth, presumably from outer space.
* Happy Fun Ball has been shipped to our troops in Saudi Arabia and is being dropped by our warplanes on Iraq.
* Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.
* Happy Fun Ball comes with a lifetime warranty.

It's Happy! It's Fun! It's HAPPY FUN BALL!!

Actually, it may well end up being some of both. The peak that we end up actually having might not be the one that we theoretically (based on geology alone) could have had, and there will be a variety of reasons for this: economics & lack of capital funds for megaprojects, government policies, geopolitical happenstances, etc. There will be enough ambiguity and obfuscation there to keep people arguing about it for decades, if not centuries.

There will be enough ambiguity and obfuscation there to keep people arguing about it for decades, if not centuries.

WNC O, I don't think so. There are about 1300 fields that produce more than 90% of the oil. There are not so much megaprojects anymore to develop neither to discover. This makes a crash scenario for oilproduction not unthinkable. Now the decline in production from many supergiants is mainly compensated by not too many (compared to the 70.000 or so fields that exists) much smaller fields. When more and more of that fields go in decline within a limited timeframe the world gets a crash scenario. Can they then still blame the governments, banks and oil companies or comes the really not so difficult to understand facts about oilfields then above the ground ?

Ron -- And that's why we geologists will become GODS in the eyes of Joe6Pack. Hopefully I'll be retired before the truth leaks out.

You may begin your groveling practice now, my children.


I think more than likely the geologist will be made the goat. It's mostly Accountants and Drilling Engineers that run the companies and the line will be:

"We drilled these dry holes as efficiently as possible- if only our geologists had given us good targets!"

Besides the job title of "God" has already been bestowed upon the directional hands.

I know frontier...just wishful think on my part. Being a geologist for 34 years I'm use to getting "that" end of the stick. That's why I tend to hang with the DD's these days...they get all the glory.

Best stupid line I've ever heard from a geologist after drilling a dry hole: "The bad news is that we drilled a dry hole. The good news: we didn't drill the best location first." And yes, the boss reamed him for a hour after the meeting. Not that what he said wasn't true (the boss was an idiot) but you just don't say that sort of thing.

"Above all we should emphatically and persistently stress the fact-to our production departments and to our executives-that dry wildcats are not financial failures if they reveal significant geological data, for from these data conclusions may often be drawn which will lead to the discovery of oil or gas in subsequent drilling"

Frederick Henry Lahee "Exploratory Drilling, AAPG Bulletin, July 1949

Perhaps it would have been better for him to have referred to this quote. Same meaning - the more things change the more they stay the same.

Thanks Frontier. Just saved it on my desk top. Never know when it might come in handy.

Sounds like those weird mutants chanting "Oh Mighty Bomb" in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

More info: Fellowship of the Holy Fallout - The Sacred Scrolls

we geologists will become GODS in the eyes of Joe6Pack.

ROCK- I sort of agree with frontier, J6P needs a scapegoat (I should know because I was recently a Union member). So let me fix that for you:

"we geologists will become DOGS in the eyes of Joe6Pack."

In terms of gas here. The UK has just gone from gas exporter to gas importer.

Here are some gas memes.

It's the nasty Russians not giving us the gas.
It's the incompetent government not stocking enough gas.
It's the greedy gas companies gouging for profits.
It's the lack of investment in gas terminals.

etc etc etc.

The idea that there may just not be enough gas there...

why is that?

There is a general lack of analytical reasoning... And it's politically inconvenient.

why is that?

One word: Hippies. *nudge* *wink*

I think we may never see such articles. Peak oil may never be recognized.


I think a lot of Europeans, particularly those on the receiving end of the aging North Sea fields, would completely disagree. Peak oil and peak NG are an undeniable reality in some places.

There are still plenty of people in the UK who blame our oil and gas production decline on adverse taxation inhibiting new field development.

Read any blog on energy matters and the comments with the highest positive feedback numbers can invariably be summed up as

"It's the government's fault. What was the question?"

"It's the government's fault. What was the question?"

I think you mean: "It's the government's fault because they have been held hostage to the will of the left wing, commie, tree hugging environmentalists. What was the question?"

Don't you think, though, that the reality of Peak Oil will finally come home when production capacity diminshes, not below what it takes for games and toys, but when it drops below what it takes to maintain essential infrastructure, feed people, and keep them warm in the winter. When, that is, survival is at stake.

Of course, we all know this, instinctively. And, this is why so many of us are called 'doomers' by our friends and relatives. I, at least, believe this is imminent.

And, to make matters worse, though ASPO, TOD and similar groups are quite public about this, the attitude of most people, and that fostered by the MSN, is to ignore the problem until it gets to that very point. At which time, for many, it will be far too late... for survival.

So far, the crunch has been relieved by reducing optional use of oil. That day, so close IMO, when there are only enough 'liquids' for survival, we are in deep doo doo. Our most optimistic posts have been those that seemed to postpone that day, like the discussions in the last week or so about Iraqi production. We simply do not see items about how we are making deep infrastructure changes, or altering our behaviors to live in reality. Instead we see GM, today, announcing that they are betting their recovery on full sized pick up trucks! Whadda joke!

Strange species, homo sapiens. Do you think they'll be missed?

Don't you think, though, that the reality of Peak Oil will finally come home when production capacity diminshes, not below what it takes for games and toys, but when it drops below what it takes to maintain essential infrastructure, feed people, and keep them warm in the winter. When, that is, survival is at stake.

No, I don't. There have always been people in the world who die due to lack of access to food, shelter, and "essential infrastructure." Few see the problem as "not enough resources." The problem is some people don't have money to buy said resources. Or greedy rich folk are hoarding the resources.

Even people who think the problem is "not enough resources" generally believe there could be enough resources, if we did the right thing.

Re: California Ties Cash to Energy, lead post up:

I am coming more and more to believe that California exists in an alternate reality.

It is a dysfunctional state whose governor has just appealed to the Federal Government for financial aid to cover a hypothetical smoke and mirrors $20 billion deficit that he and the legislature can not cover without making politically damaging decisions.

Now comes this proposal to return energy taxes to its citizens. So who is going to pay for this? Easy one. The rest of us who live in other states. Some of us produce corn used for ethanol which California continually tries to discourage or even stop and will not be receptive to the governor's appeal.

Returning energy taxes to the people of California to use for other purposes rather than balancing the budget makes no sense. Those refunds will only be consumed on other things that also use energy.

Perhaps if they are imported the energy will be consumed in a foreign country with more pollution than California. But do Californians care?

Not at all. That is the California attitude. Me first and to hell with you.

When there is not enough to go around - of food, energy, water, money - then we will see just how cohesive this union really is. It's easy when there is plenty.

When I was living in California several decades ago, there was little interest on anything that happened East of the Sierras. We all know that "fly over" country is so empty, and anyway, who gives a flip for those sub-normals living on the East Coast? Everybody thought California was going to slide into the Pacific when the next quake hit, which could happen any day now, wo why worry? Must have been all that NOx dumped into the air of LA-LA Land...

E. Swanson

Must have been all that NOx dumped into the air of LA-LA Land...

Any idea how the recession is affecting the air quality in the Los Angeles basin? You would think that the air has improved with fewer cars on the road as well as shut-down factories.

Dont know - its seems to be on the lighter side to me ,(but being a native I have no lungs at this point) its also wintertime when the air quality is the best

I think the average has been flat from last year - wildfire can raise it up

Not at all. That is the California attitude. Me first and to hell with you.

The problem in California is structural, it is impossible for the state government to raise taxes. On the face of it, this plan is a good way to go, of course the sensible thing would be to use the revenues to bolster the state governments finances -but that is a political nogo.

Obviously such a plan -which essentially amounts to shifting some taxes from income and capital onto resource consumption is a good way to go. Of course it should be national rather than local. In any case those costs you think are being shifted onto you also make Californis businesses somewhat less competitive with other states, so the freeloading goes both ways. And if all the states did something similar so the playing field was evened out, it would be for the better, i.e. the external partners providing the subsidy would be the oil exporters rather than other states.

Of course any energy tax would push energy-consumptive industries away as well.

Budgets were based on growth and new debt -- before long they'll be based on decline and past debt payments. I see zero reason to put new tax proceeds in the hands of nat'l gov't, and I'd be slow to do so for states as well, as they've proven themselves incapable of managing past monies.

The best plan, and least likely IMHO, would be to tax all natural resources sales and return the proceeds to the individual, and otherwise tax consumption and charge use fees. This would be a progressive wealth distribution mechanism which both discourages use of resources and consumption in general, and it doesn't require lots of finicky controls, comples tax schemes, centralized power, or political rigging throughout. And so it cannot happen.

Another indication that California is living in an alternate reality is: California Assembly Committee Approves Oil Tax Bill

Not the tax bill itself, taxes are taxes and all governments need money, but the clause:

contains a provision prohibiting the new tax from being passed to consumers.

No. That only works in some other universe which California is in contact with via telepathy or some other ethereal medium.

In this universe there is a truism: Companies don't pay taxes, they only collect them for the government. It's always the consumer who pays in the end.

They may not like it, but that's how it works. Only a liar, a fool, or a California politician would claim they could stop companies from passing on taxes to consumers. If it is prevented, companies just fold their tents and move to some friendlier jurisdiction, of which there are many. This results in that other jurisdiction collecting the taxes that California might otherwise have received.

Another thing which makes sense if you know the local conditions. California is the only oil procuding state which doesn't collect royalties/severence on oil. The last attempt to do so failed because industry funded advertising was able to claim it would raise gasoline prices. In reality gasoline prices will be determined by the market, oil prices, refining margins etc. and there is very little capacity to pass through the tax. It is hard for me to imagine oil companies moving a producing oilfield to another state. Sure a few marginal decisions on drilling or upfrading wells might ocurr, but with mature fields dominating production that would be a small factor.

So the clause is basically optics. Needed to avoid a PR defeat via false (political) advertising from industry.

So have the CA fields been unusually profitable historically, given the lower taxes? Or have similar taxes (or wages, or regulations) been accounted somewhere else in the process chain?

Hard to believe that CA was a low-cost-of-production area, but who knows?

That's amazing EOS. Never heard about that. You're right...the state got screwed. In La. the severence tax is 12.5% on oil and $0.33/mcf. We're driling a prospect now that has a 20 million bbl and 100 bcf target. If we're lucky enough to find it all: @$70/bbl = $208 million for the state of La. And yes, gasoline is always cheaper in La. than CA.

The last attempt was a proposition (I think before I moved here) for a 6% severance tax. Chevron spent a few hundred million to defeat it (via the misinformation about gasoline price). Chevron is the major oil company here -but I don't know too much about how profitable it is. California (LA once had zillions of dericks) was one of the early oil powers, so I suspect most fields are long past peak. Ever since the 1960 leak in the Santa Barbare channel, the PR war was lost by the industry, and offshore production is a political no-no.

Would be fair to grandfather in the existing production. Not nice to change the rules in the middle of the game. Did the public vote on the severence tax or was it the politicians' decision? Either way you folks out there better get your act together. There's a lot of potential revenue coming down the road. La. severence (12.5%) is a tad greedy compared to Texas IMO but we still drill a lot of wells there.

Well, if California did not historically impose taxes/royalties on oil production, now is not the time to start doing it. The oil companies at this point are just sucking the last dribs and drabs of oil out of the old oil fields, and if you add new taxes they will just abandon their wells and walk away from the depleted fields.

If you want to impose new taxes on oil production, the time is to do it when production is high and costs are low, not the reverse. The basic idea behind taxing oil production is to put the money away for a time when the oil runs out.

The best case example of this is Norway, which has about $500 billion socked away in the government pension fund, funded by North Sea oil, and about 4 million people. You do the math on what retiring in Norway is going to be like.

Retiring in California is going to be more like retiring in Haiti, the way things are going. At least, after the big earthquake it will be. I mean after the big California earthquake. Peak oil is not the only probable disaster California is facing.

The problem, Rocky, is that no one is paying attention; they are too busy playing games. Not just in CA, but most everywhere... all they want to do is posture as if what they say can change reality. Just about 9 years ago, the Bush administration gained a moment of notariety when they notified us that they were creating their own reality. And, they believed it!

Today, the cornucopeans continue to make statements that sound much like that.


I was wondering what people's opinions were about the effect the current situation in Venezuela will have on their oil production and exports. There's an article above about possibly providing some short term benefits, but I have a hard time believing that their currency devaluation, rolling blackouts, and military enforced price controls can be a good thing.


I highly doubt that the blackouts will affect the oil production units. Things that have high priority are not included in the scheduled powerouts.

We discovered today that our apartment block is not included in the power out schedule. Probably because we are beside the metro and a tower with lots of government ministries.

The currency devauation will be hard on the general population, as so much is imported, but the high up workers in PDVsa are not the general population. The lower down workers will probably be happy to maintain their job and will keep on showing up to work. Interesting to note that a kilo of apples is now 25% more expensive than my monthly power bill.

The price controls are only on staple goods like rice and beans. The people who go around to check prices are usually not military, although the national guard is called in to do the heavy lifting when they consficate hoarded stuff, or distribute stuff which is in short supply.

I think that the efficacy of anti-corruption measures, and the contracts that Venezuela makes with other governments, oil and service companies will have a lot more effect on its production.

PS I am very upset today because I found out that they will be turning out the pool lights at 8PM on the dot. Not a rolling black out, but a measure to reduce the building's power use by the mandatory 10%. We will be losing 4 hours of training a week.

"The people who go around to check prices are usually not military, although the national guard is called in to do the heavy lifting when they consficate hoarded stuff."

Ah yes, the duly deputized. Empowered busy-bodies who now have the authority to snoop on neighbors they don't like, armed with a cheap badge and a sense of righteous purpose. Stockpilers, take note. You/we will be branded as "hoarders" and that will justify confiscation/theft.

I would say that when a small grocery store deliberately hides 2 truck loads of cheap (government subsidized) cooking oil with the intention of worsening and prolonging a shortage so that they can earn greater profit they are working against the interests of greater society. When the store manager is selling the (government subsidized) cooking oil out the back door for 4 times the price and pocketing the difference it is worse.

I can now accurately predict when they will increase the price of sugar, garbanzo beans, powdered milk etc because it dissappears from the shelves two weeks before hand. When the price is raised the shelves are miraculously filled and people buy 4 times what they need in a flurry of panic. Note that no-one bothers doing the same with olive oil, imported cheese, sushi rice etc, even though the stores are entitled to do what they please as they are not subsidized. I sometimes have trouble finding margerine, but I can always get butter imported from Ireland, if I can pay the price.

I personaly have no problem when the same government employee who audits liquor and tabacco sales revises the sales of government subsidized staples as well to make sure that they are arriving to the general public.

PS... I am happy to learn that the steel workers have managed to persuade the management of Sidor (the largest steel plant) that it is more important to produce rebar for internal consumption than produce steel slabs for export to China. They have electricity rationing and can not do both right now.

I see the distinction. Thanks for elaborating.

So T. Boone Pickens is not going to do what he said he would.

Anyone who has had business dealings with him or Mesa in the past will not be at all surprised, nor will those who worked for companies destroyed or crippled by his corporate raids in the 1980s.

RE: The "End of Retirement" article from EB

Pretty good article. I am planning on transitioning from full-time paid employment by the end of this decade to doing more of a mix of different things, some part-time and in exchange for money, some part-time and in exchange for other goods or services, and some part-time for my own domestic economy. This is instead of what we have gotten used to calling "retirement".

I think that planning on the full-time paid employment not continuing for me beyond this decade is still realistic. The human body and mind do age, many employers really would rather not continue having the oldsters on the payroll, and even a lot of jobs that seem secure today might not be after another decade of decline. Thus, it won't be so much "retirement", but rather a change in employment. The elderly will still work, but it will be to the extent that they are able, and it might will be at a variety of things rather than just one thing.

Pretty good article.

Thanks, WNC.

I am planning on transitioning from full-time paid employment by the end of this decade to doing more of a mix of different things, some part-time and in exchange for money, some part-time and in exchange for other goods or services, and some part-time for my own domestic economy. This is instead of what we have gotten used to calling "retirement".

I'd say we're mostly going to be doing what you're planning. As the assets we've hoarded during our "productive years" devalue (whichever way that happens, hyperinflation being one likely way), we won't be able to count on drawing down their value to live off of. This is a natural consequences of moving from a rich economic condition to a poor one. The world is right now watching the beginning of the end of retirement as pensions devalue then disappear, stocks devalue, etc. etc.

But it's a difficult connection for most people to see. The link between the value of assets and energy is not even close to directly observable. I suspect that aside from the people here most would just say, "Huh?"

Unfortunately the conclusions concerning the end of retirement are true in our fiat money system, mostly since money itself has no real claim on much of anything (perhaps a small amount of gold). I already mentioned one time back that oil would serve as a better unit of money than gold, if some type of oil bank system could be developed (perhpas memmel could think up a functioning scheme for that).

Meanwhile we face the possibility of a steep and sudden loss of the US dollar's value at any time, but more likley, it will erode away slowly, almost without notice like grains of sand washing away bit by bit at the shoreline.

In fact, this process has already started. With short term interest rates less than 1%, and inflation probably at least a few % (even when adding back housing deflation), savers holding dollars are already seeing their net worth being whittled away. This process will accelerate over time, where for example, interest rates may start to move up but inflation (mostly in energy and food) will push up average prices even faster.

But getting back to missing retirement - the real crunch occurs in the US when net social secuirty funds (on a cash budget basis) start outflowing in about 7 years.

"As the assets we've hoarded during our "productive years" devalue (whichever way that happens, hyperinflation being one likely way), we won't be able to count on drawing down their value to live off of. This is a natural consequences of moving from a rich economic condition to a poor one."

I think you, and the article, potentially got it backwards. We are in a period of DEFLATION. People will be cutting back on discretionary purchases and focusing more on essentials. Those who were lucky enough to save will see lower prices and a better retirement.

Really, you geologists and other oil "experts" out there should stay away from finance and economics. You'll just get hurt :)

mkkby, actually, my view is the same as Mish's and Stoneleigh's at TAE...I agree that we're in deflation right now. I don't think the bailout money is doing anything much other than sitting in banks propping up their capital requirements so that they can keep the fractional reserve illusion going a little longer.

Eventually contraction will likely stop and then the hyperinflation kicks in. That is some time in the future, at least a decade or more away, I would say.

But that's not actually the most interesting relationship to me. There is another very interesting phenomenon to look at which is this:

As the ratio of energy per dollar decreases (or per euro or whatever), what happens to the value of money? With increasingly less energy backing it and money continuing to be issued, doesn't that mean there is more means to purchase but less goods to purchase with the means?

I look at it this way. A dollar has value not only as a function of how many dollars exist in circulation. It also has value when there is something worthwhile to buy. This is a bit hard to see but it's exactly like the front of a hand not being able to exist without there being a back of the hand.

In some Eastern thinking this relationship is often called one that "mutually arises." I think a more recent term might be an "emergent property," but I don't think that term quite gets to the exact thing I'm pointing to.

Another way to ask the question is: What happens to the value of money if there is increasingly less to buy with it?

Really, you geologists and other oil "experts" out there should stay away from finance and economics. You'll just get hurt :)

Heh, mkkby -- given the events of the past couple of years, I'd say that the finance and economics "experts" should stay away from finance and economics :-O

Looking back on all the self-induced hurts from my own stock market adventures I'd be hard pressed to argue against that point. OTHO, right now the economics for oil/NG drilling are excellent. And I don't know one operator who would disagree. But there are very few operators drilling now compared to a couple of years ago. The capital market has evaporated. How directly that's tied to the sub-prime nightare and all the ripples from it I can't offer. But we should have twice as many rigs drilling conventional oil/NG prospects as we have now based upon standard economic evalaution.

Perhaps it's the old chicken/egg question. But in this case it appears the chicken came second and sat of the egg and smashed it.

I don't think it has sunk in with most of Middle America -- even those that have been devasted by the recent meltdown (losing jobs, houses, etc.) -- that we've just experienced a permanent "reversal of fortune." We've all heard tell of folks who lost everything during the Great Depression, only to make it back in spades in later years. Well, that was then...

I would like to comment on one thing that WNC said. He said...

The human body and mind do age, many employers really would rather not continue having the oldsters on the payroll, and even a lot of jobs that seem secure today might not be after another decade of decline.

I think we need to recognize that the days of being able to count on the job market to generate jobs that paid a living wage are rapidly fading. Even maintream observers are already talking of a "jobless recovery" (which is, of course, no recovery at all). So, you are fifty-five, your skills are outdated and you've burned through every last cent you had trying to hold onto your house through two years of unemployment. Then what? Hope that Wal-Mart or Lowes throw up a new Superstore out on the strip? Even should they pick your application from the pile of thousands they'll probably get, can you live on minimum wage?

I don't have a solution for this. You're "over the hill", you're broke and you have no resources. Where do you go from here? Are poor houses (or poor farms) and soup kitchens to become the retirement communties of the Boomer generation?

I don't have a solution for this.

Me neither. The best I've come up with is that some people move in with their kids. The others are kept alive via food stamps and other programs as they are permanently supported by the government at a very low level. Some of us without kids (yours truly) manage to set ourselves up in communities and we support each other.

Will we end up building large numbers of government apartments for people who have nowhere to go?

Well, I'll tell you; I visited a defunct Shaker community near my home in Western MA, this past summer, and it got me to thinking seriously about their way of living and how it might become a model for a lot of us childless Boomers. A communal, self-supporting farm relying on a number of small cottage businesses -- garden seeds, dairying, blacksmithing, furniture making, textiles and hats -- for cash. The big challenge might be the challenge that these folks faced -- keeping young people on the farm when a "big, wide world" beckoned to them.

What was interesting to see was that these folks were largely driven out of their cottage industries by mechanization and mass production. It would be hugely ironic to see communities like these spring up in the wreckage of the machine age. Reminds me of a story about a tortoise and a hare...

I think this could be a solution. Someone here (was is Souperman?) was talking about setting up something like this. A farm where you could get a free room in exchange for a few hours of work a day. It wouldn't be full-time, giving you time to pursue another job, start your own business, etc.

Awhile back, the Times had an article about a yoga retreat. Some people came only for a few days on vacation, but some lived there. The costs were surprisingly low, despite being in a notoriously expensive area (New York). But if you don't have a big house or apartment to maintain, don't have a car to buy, maintain, and insure, and spend your days doing yoga, gardening, and cooking, your expenses are low. It sounded kind of like a religious retreat, and I could imagine churches setting up things like this to shelter those who need it.

I think we are missing a key point. For many people, the idea of "work instead of retirement" is probably wrong. Many people will still retire. Dementia, arthritis, heart disease, strokes, lung disease. All of these will pull people from the workforce before they die. The question is where their economic support will come from and how much support there will be. The fastest growing cost category in Medicaid is nursing homes. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will be the basis of an intergenerational civil, civil war. Those with children will move in with them. Those without are in trouble.

I hear what you are saying and think about it all the time. My own mother has been disabled since her forties and unable to work (my father is long deceased).

A decent community will have to provide for folks like this. No heroic medical treatments to be sure, but at least food, shelter and some companionship.

I don't know if these figures are true but they are facinating to watch.


If they are true ... OMG

Was that you who just retired while I was watching?

They need to put that clock up where it is visible to the public, such as Times Square. We had a similar clock put up in Canada in the mid 1990's, and a few years later the deficit turned into a surplus.


Times Square National Debt Clock runs out of digits amid Wall St. meltdown

By Larry Mcshane

Thursday, October 9th 2008, 10:02 AM

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/money/2008/10/09/2008-10-09_times_square_nati...

Exactly how bad is the U.S. economy?

Try this: The National Debt Clock near Times Square ran out of numbers to record the federal government's $10.2 trillion shortfall.

The familiar billboard-style clock, erected in 1989 by late Manhattan real estate developer Seymour Durst, was equipped to handle a debt count of up to $9,999,999,999,999.

Hydro transmission tiff heats up

Still smarting from what it says was an unfair deal 40 years ago to sell electricity from its Churchill Falls facility to Hydro-Québec at a ridiculously cheap rate, Newfoundland and Labrador is preparing for battle against the giant utility on another front.

Next week, Newfoundland's public energy company Nalcor Energy goes before Quebec's energy board to argue that Hydro-Québec is flouting the rules and making it difficult to get access to its transmission lines.

Nalcor plans to build a $6.5-billion hydroelectric project called Lower Churchill Falls, downstream from Churchill Falls, and sell a chunk of the energy produced there to markets in the U.S. Northeast, Ontario and New Brunswick.

Nalcor would like to secure access to transmission lines for export purposes on Hydro-Québec's grid, under so-called open access rules. But it has complained to the Quebec energy board that Hydro-Québec is being less than forthcoming about the availability of capacity on existing lines.

See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/hydro-transmission-tif...


yeah, sure, finite earth has finite amount of anything on it. oil must have a limit. what is that limit? have we reached it? mebbe. what about plastic? all made from oil. oil to heat the chemical reaction and oil for stock. and what do we do with all that plastic? dump it in the ocean. in the future the ocean will be mined for it's plastic. mmmm....recycling. now there's an idea. plastic, metal, glass. that is what societies do when there is a reduction in lifestyle, recycle.

a.c. clarke once sed that in the future electronics will be handed down through the generations as family heirlooms. but we need a new cell phone every six months. couldnt all those REE be reclaimed from tossed electronics? gainful employment for some. future jobs for the underemployed or retired?

what is the carbon foot print of the aid being sent to haiti? just asking. also i notice the u.s. gubbermint is responding much faster to this crisis than it did to NOLA during katrina. what's up with that?

dont forget, titan, a moon of saturn is full of hydrocarbons. i say we build a fleet of space ships and go get it. NOW! think avatar and
pandora but without blue people and unobtainium.

i say we build a fleet of space ships and go get it. NOW!

There are certainly some amongst us who see that as the solution. My hope is that they don't trash what remains of this tiny planet trying to get themselves there.

dont forget, titan, a moon of saturn is full of hydrocarbons. i say we build a fleet of space ships and go get it. NOW!


But where, pray tell, will "we" get the oxygen from once we're out there somewhere between the Moons of Endor and the Moons of Saturn?

And how do "we" bring a tankful of hydrocarbons out of orbit and down to Earth's surface without the whole thing blowing up?

And by the way, one more minor detail, what's the EROEI?

Step back, Humbaba was just being sarcastic. Surely there is no one on this list that is so dumb as to believe that we could economically retrieve methane from Titan.

Ron P.

also i notice the u.s. gubbermint is responding much faster to this crisis than it did to NOLA during katrina. what's up with that?

Might be somthin as simple as Obama ain't Bush!

dont forget, titan, a moon of saturn is full of hydrocarbons. i say we build a fleet of space ships and go get it. NOW!


Sure, with solar sailing spaceships...


There was a thought that came to me today. If you look back in history not all that far, for the most part there was never any aid that was brought in after a natural disaster. First of all that the communications infrastructure didn't exist - you couldn't help when you didn't even know it happened (thinking of the pre-telegraph days, in which letters needed to travel by ship).

But we also needed quick and cheap transportation to make it possible to ship in assistance. Things like large cargo airplanes for example, which didn't exist until after WWII (thinking of the Berlin airlift here). But also large cargo ships that can be quickly loaded, and are sufficiently fast (i.e. a sailing ship would likely be too small and too slow).

And finally, one needs a sufficient abundance of food and supplies before one can even think about providing aid.

And ultimately it was cheap oil and energy that made all of this possible.

But what happens in the future as oil and energy becomes more and more scarce? My guess is that rapid communications will exist in at least one form or another for long into the future, so consider that it is likely that we would still know about natural disasters more or less right away. As oil becomes more and more expensive and scarce, using cargo planes becomes more and more problematic. So the question becomes, how scarce does oil need to become before we just have to decline requests for aid?

After the Great San Francisco earthquake, the Secretary of War telegraphed all Army & Navy bases that "No man shall sleep until every tent and other needful material is on a train to San Francisco".

In the Age of Steam locomotives and telegraphs, San Francisco got aid faster than the Convention Center in New Orleans.


"So the question becomes, how scarce does oil need to become before we just have to decline requests for aid?"

Put the shoe on the other foot

Think about the bail outs of the banking industry and the Auto industry and ask the question again! and where exactly does the oil come from anyway?

your comment is very hypocrytical in my opinion while some people suffer from a natural disaster and some people suffer from being bombed!



I think this is something people often do not consider. Not just for sudden catastrophes like earthquakes, but for more ordinary problems, such as crop failures. Cheap oil, cheap transportation, and the global market is currently serving as a sort of insurance policy. There are a lot of countries that are living on the edge. On average, they produce enough to feed themselves, but that means some years they have a surplus, some years they have a shortfall. The fossil fuel fiesta means a bad year is usually just an inconvenience, not a catastrophe.

CFTC Proposes Position Limits on Energy Speculation (Update2)


“I’m somewhere between skeptical and unconvinced about whether these proposals will have any impact,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Massachusetts. “Trying to control speculation is similar to trying to hold back the tide. Usually, money will go where it wants to go.”

Michael Lynch weighing in on speculation in oil futures.