Drumbeat: February 8, 2010

Obama renews call for oil taxes in 2011 budget

"For our members—the small businessmen and women of our nation's oil and gas industry—this is a knockout blow," Somerlyn Cothran, executive director of the National Stripper Well Association in Tulsa, said on Feb. 2. "Implementation of this budget proposal would mean a significant loss of jobs and a dramatic loss of tax revenues for each of the 35 states where our members are productive, contributing businesses. Plus, the resulting decrease in oil production will serve only to make America even more dependent upon foreign oil."

Cothran noted that while a marginal, or stripper, well produces 15 b/d or less of oil, US stripper wells collectively produce 20% of the country's oil or 1.2 million b/d—as much as the US imports from Saudi Arabia.

"There is a shocking difference between the 'big oil' companies and the little guys, who are Rotary Club and PTA members in their respective hometowns," Cothran emphasized. "There should absolutely be a structural and financial difference in relation to tax subsidies between the large-scale, international oil companies and small, independent operators. This is the only way to ensure the survival of our industry's small businesses."

Characterizing the incalculable (Kurt Cobb)

A rule of thumb then might be that the more complex the system, the less likely it is we will be able to model its actions with precision. And, the greater the number of humans involved in affecting that system and the deeper that involvement, the more difficult it becomes to design precise models of the system. In general, the reliability of a model decreases as the complexity of the system it is modeling increases.

What are we left with then? Shall we simply give up and say that much of what we would like to model cannot be modeled? I would counsel against this view.

The Market Potential of CNG as a Transportation Fuel

CNG and battery-powered vehicles are often presented as competing alternatives for the future of transportation, and in some sense, that’s true. However, based on today’s economics, they have far different potentials and address quite different market needs and niches. For those who believe in peak oil, at least in the sense of a limit on the volume of affordable oil, CNG represents potential as a critical alternative fuel which can permit the global economy to grow again.

On the other hand, CNG is unlikely to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. . .

CNG and electric vehicles, therefore, should be understood to target different market segments and solve different social problems. Both are potentially important alternatives for society in the coming years.

Entropy revisited

You can't win, you can't break even, and you can't get out of the game. Those kernels are my favorite descriptors of the Three Laws of Thermodynamics. Respectively, the clauses mean (1) energy is conserved (First Law), (2) entropy never decreases, thus precluding perpetual motion machines (Second Law), and (3) it is impossible to cool a system to absolute zero (Third Law). The Second Law in particular puts insurmountable, irreversible constraints on everything we do. Without the Second Law, there would be no heat losses in energy systems, and electricity would be far too cheap to meter and commodify.

One way of looking at our current set of predicaments is that we've been on a binge, consuming energy considerably faster than it can be captured and stored by Earth's ecosystems. While fossil fuels once appeared limitless (and still do to deniers of peak oil), and though we're literally bathed in energy (in the form of sunlight), the disappearance of the fossil-fuel storehouse accumulated over millions of years isn't something that can be replaced with anything nearly as convenient as fossil fuels. Solar, wind, wave, geothermal, nuclear, and hydropower simply don't pack the same punch as fossil fuels, either singly or in combination. In short, we're falling off the net-energy cliff, and there's no lifeline to grab onto, no known technology to break the fall.

Permits Drag on U.S. Mining Projects

Obtaining the permits and approvals needed to build a mine in the U.S. takes an average of seven years, among the longest wait time in the world. So despite having vast underground stores of raw materials, the U.S. is one of the last places miners go to start a project.

At the proposed Kennecott Eagle nickel mine in Michigan's sparsely populated Upper Peninsula, the wait is at seven years and growing. Global miner Rio Tinto says the project would fill a raw-material gap in the U.S. economy, but the company has yet to produce an ounce of nickel there.

Survey Says Americans Support Carbon Tax More Than Cap-and-Trade - But Nobody Really Knows Much About Either...

One aspect of this survey which is backed up by others: Not too many people have even heard of either approach. 35% of people responded saying they had never even heard the term cap-and-trade before, with 26% saying they know only a very little about it. Carbon tax had 31% of people being entirely unaware of the term, with a further 26% knowing little about it.

The Biggest Thing is That Few Even Think About Pricing Carbon
More than espousing either cap-and-trade or a carbon tax by presenting this survey--and I admit that the results happen to correspond well with the US Climate Task Force's avowed mission of singing the praises of a carbon tax over cap-and-trade--I think the real take away from this is the average American really hasn't been made aware of either approach. (Still less cap-and-dividend...)

Shell Denies Plans to Sell Major Nigerian Assets

Royal Dutch Shell PLC has denied it plans to sell major Nigerian assets in the coming months, a Nigerian minister said Friday.

"Shell hasn't come to us and when I inquired they denied it, that they were selling major assets," Odein Ajumogobia, State Minister for Petroleum Resources, told Dow Jones Newswires.

Branson warns that oil crunch is coming within five years

Sir Richard Branson and fellow leading businessmen will warn ministers this week that the world is running out of oil and faces an oil crunch within five years.

The founder of the Virgin group, whose rail, airline and travel companies are sensitive to energy prices, will say that the ­coming crisis could be even more serious than the credit crunch.

"The next five years will see us face another crunch – the oil crunch. This time, we do have the chance to prepare. The challenge is to use that time well," Branson will say.

"Our message to government and businesses is clear: act," he says in a foreword to a new report on the crisis. "Don't let the oil crunch catch us out in the way that the credit crunch did."

UK gas traders not worried by cold weather forecasts

Freezing temperatures in the UK this week are expected to tighten the gas supply-demand balance but gas prices will be capped by partially replenished mid-range storage and demand ceilings of around 420 million cubic meters/day, UK gas trading sources said Monday.

The Rough storage facility is down to 40% of capacity, and short-term storage capacity is also below 50%. The comparative levels held in storage now are far below levels seen even four weeks ago following prolonged heavy draws as the country dealt with the last spell of severe winter weather.

So far the gas market has absorbed the impact of the relatively cold winter without any significant impact on the curve, with summer 10 gas trading roughly stable at 33 pence/therm and winter 10 gas at 45.5 p/therm.

UK prompt power edges up on cold-induced hike in gas prices

UK power for delivery on the next working day inched higher Monday on a cold-weather induced increase in the price for natural gas, the fuel for over two-fifths of the country's power generation, although gains were limited on expectations that healthy margins could soak up any demand increase, traders said.

Working day-ahead baseload power rose 15 pence to GBP36.40/MWh ($56.67/MWh, Eur41.52/MWh) by 12:00 GMT, while day-ahead peak was flat around GBP40.25/MWh. . .

"There's so much plant out there right now that you could double demand and power would still trade off fuels," one trader said.

"We really need to see a chunk of cheap plant to come offline to see some action," the trader added.

Roundtable discussion of the top oil stories of the week (Podcast)

Peter Zipf, Beth Evans and Jeff Mower discuss the three top oil news stories of the week, including earnings results and how this relates to market developments, the new renewable fuels standard and biofuels approach, and the fiscal 2011 US budget, which may include a repeal of tax breaks for the oil and gas industry.

At least 5 dead in Connecticut power plant blast

Fire officials said a natural gas leak caused the blast during testing at the Kleen Energy Systems LLC facility, which was 95 percent complete and due to come online this summer as the largest electricity generating plant in New England.

As many as 200 workers were at the site on any given day and the exact number of dead and injured would not be known until each contractor provided a list of employees, Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giuliano told a press conference.

Credit Suisse survey finds bearish sentiment on US gas prices

Energy investors surveyed by Credit Suisse are bearish on US natural gas prices in 2010, but bullish on natural gas stocks, Credit Suisse analyst Jonathan Wolf said Friday.

Financial and energy professionals believe gas prices will average between $5 and $5.50/MMBtu this year, slightly below pricing suggested by the NYMEX futures curve. Credit Suisse surveyed attendees at the bank's Energy Summit in Vail, Colorado earlier this week.

The reason for the gloominess? Liquified natural gas, respondents indicated.

Cape Wind fight goes on

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar journeyed out into Nantucket Sound on a Coast Guard vessel last week to signal the Obama administration's readiness to put some muscle behind wind energy. To do that, Salazar has to resolve a battle over building a wind farm on 25 square miles of open water that has driven a rift between environmentalists, infuriated local Native Americans and threatened one of the administration's cherished priorities.

Iran’s President Moves Ahead on Uranium Processing

Iran’s president ordered his atomic scientists on Sunday to begin enriching their stockpile of uranium in order to power a medical reactor, a move that accelerated Iran’s brinkmanship over its nuclear program by moving the country closer to producing weapons-grade fuel.

Earth, wind and wire: Going beyond solar panels

Not long ago, people who wanted to generate their own green energy at home had to content themselves with rooftop solar panels. But new technologies -- and hefty government subsidies -- are now allowing homeowners to tap the wind, the Earth and other renewable sources in their own backyards. Call it the green evolution.

The cost of heating and cooling with fossil fuels has nowhere to go but up, thanks to rising global demand and increased regulation of carbon emissions. Turning one's home into a clean mini-power plant is getting cheaper and easier all the time.

CTA's Doomsday service faces its first rush hour

Predictable as it was that the threat of previous CTA service cuts would not be carried out, it was even more obvious there was no stopping them this time.

The questions now are:

What will it take to forge successful negotiations between CTA management and the transit agency's labor unions (since neither the city of Chicago nor the state of Illinois is willing to put skin in the game)?

How long will it take? Is Henry Kissinger or Al Sharpton available to help move things along?

How soon could full service be restored?

Canal expansion may spur switch to shipping

Chinese toys and sneakers headed to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. on the U.S. East Coast may bypass Warren Buffett's $33.8 billion railway as the expansion of the Panama Canal slashes the cost of shipping them by sea. The deeper, wider canal will allow A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S, China Ocean Shipping Group Co. and other lines to ship more cargo directly to New York and Boston instead of unloading it on the West Coast for trains and trucks to finish the journey east. That could save exporters 30 percent, the canal operator said.

Wind industry picks up, but jobs decline

America's wind energy industry enjoyed a banner year in 2009, thanks largely to tax credits and other incentives packed into the $787 billion economic stimulus bill. But even though a record 10,000 megawatts of new generating capacity was created, few jobs were created overall and wind power manufacturing employment fell — a setback for President Obama's pledge to create millions of new "green jobs." Obama has long pitched green jobs, especially in the energy, transportation and manufacturing fields, as a prescription for long-term, stable employment and a prosperous middle class.
But those jobs have been slow to materialize, especially skilled, good-paying blue-collar jobs such as assembling wind turbines, retrofitting homes to use less energy and working on solar panels in the desert.

Gas price slump stings BG

UK-based integrated gas giant BG Group saw profits from continuing operations slip 15% year on year to £592 million in the fourth quarter of 2009 amid a sharp decline in natural gas prices.

Blizzard bumps oil prices

Oil prices reversed some of last week's losses today and rose from a seven-week low to near $72 a barrel, spurred by bargain hunting and hopes that a blizzard in the US mid-Atlantic region would boost fuel demand.

Santos unveils reserves bonanza

Australian independent Santos said it had boosted total proved and probable reserve at the end of last year by 42%, or 427 million barrels of oil equivalent, year-on-year to a total 1.44 million boe.

The company said reserves were plumped by a 60% year-on-year increase in proved and probable coalbed methane reserves to 3748 petajoules (about 100 billion cubic metres), which included its first booked reserves after entering the Gunnedah basin in 2007.

EPA lowers cellulosic ethanol standard for 2010

The US Environmental Protection Agency published guidance for the second phase of the renewable fuels standard (RFS2) Feb. 3, directing refiners to ensure that the gasoline pool contains 8.25% ethanol. 

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) required sales of 12.95 billion gal of renewable fuel in 2010. EISA created a second, expanded version of the RFS, known as RFS2. 

The RFS2 rules from EPA originally were scheduled for release Jan. 1, 2009, but EPA delayed the release until this year. 

For the first time, EPA announced volume standards for specific categories of renewable fuels. The 2010 cellulosic ethanol standard is 6.5 million gal, down from the 100 million gal that Congress established in 2007.

Cellulosic shortfalls of two companies led to RFS target cut: EPA

Two companies expected to produce the bulk of the earlier estimate, Cello Energy and Range Fuels, "have delayed or reduced their production plans for 2010," according to the EPA documents.

Cello and Range could not be reached for comment on Friday. . .

Uncertainties about Cello surfaced during a trial last summer where evidence was submitted that showed production from Cello's biodiesel plant did not contain any bio-based carbon. The company claimed it could turn cellulosic material, used tires and plastics into fuel, according to court documents.

US renewable, efficiency standard could save $113 billion: UCS

A federal renewable energy standard of 25% by 2025 combined with an energy efficiency standard of 10% by 2020 could save US electricity consumers $113 billion by 2030, the Union of Concerned Scientists said Friday in a new analysis.

The two standards also would boost renewable energy generation by 23%, the group said.

While job numbers proliferate, is 196,000 a good one?

The consulting firm Navigant said Thursday that by its estimates there are 196,000 people in the US currently employed in the renewable electricity industry.

Job numbers are often carelessly tossed around. Nonetheless, Navigant said in its study that if there is a 12% national RES established for 2014, there could be 67,000 more jobs in the sector by then. A 20% RES target in 2020 would add 191,000 jobs, and a 25% RES target for 2025 would add 274,000 jobs.

For 2025, with a 25% national RES, Navigant broke down the new jobs this way: 116,000 in the wind industry, 60,000 in biomass-related jobs, 50,000 in the solar sector, 34,000 in the hydro sector and 15,000 in the waste-to-energy area.

IADC/SPE: Project is devising autopilot drilling standards

A Research Council of Norway joint industrial project, AutoConRig, aims to develop standard communications for the drilling process, build a framework for autonomous machine control, and create and maintain explicit specifications of shared concepts among drilling centers, reservoir and production centers, operations and maintenance centers, environment centers, and field operations. 

AutoConRig, started in 2008, is part of a larger project, Integrated Operations in the High North, that plans to develop an advanced infrastructural framework of integrated operations off Norway.

Intervention boosts Beatrice field oil flow

he Ensco 80 jack up has moved off the field, which is in the Inner Moray Firth area, after refurbishing and restarting three wells tied into the Beatrice Bravo platform. Ithaca, operator of Beatrice field under a lease from Talisman Energy Inc., had expected the production boost to be about 500 b/d. 

The company attributed about 1,000 b/d of the incremental production to the B11 well, in which intervention included perforation across a previously untapped section of the Middle Jurassic Beatrice reservoir to access an undrained part of the field.

French refining industry situation 'critical'

The French refining industry faces a “critical” situation as part of a European system in which “between 10 to 15% of the 114 refineries should be shut down to restore a demand-supply balance,” says the leader of a trade group. 

Jean-Louis Schilansky, president of Union Francaise des Industries Petrolieres (UFIP), gave that assessment at a press conference Feb. 4 in Paris. 

In an industry outlook, Schilansky noted that demand for oil products in France last year dropped by 2.8% in a change he called “structural.” 

Refinery runs for all of last year fell to 72 million tonnes from 84 million tonnes in 2008 as margins diminished.

Valero buys Wisconsin ethanol plant

Valero Renewable Fuels Co. LLC has completed the purchase of a 110 million gal/year ethanol plant near Jefferson, Wis., from privately held Renew Energy. 

The purchase price is $72 million. Renew Energy filed for bankruptcy early last year after 6 years of operation.

Gas pipeline blown up in Quetta

Unknown miscreants have blown up a gas pipeline with explosives located on western bypass here in Quetta on Sunday, Geo news reported. According to police sources, the gas pipeline was under construction when unidentified men blew it up with explosives, but however, the explosion did not result in suspension of gas supply to area.

Nigerian militants say disabled Shell oil pipeline

A Nigerian militant group said on Sunday it had attacked a Royal Dutch Shell oil pipeline in the Niger Delta but the Anglo-Dutch company said it had no reports of any such sabotage.
The Joint Revolutionary Council (JRC), a coalition of ex-militants and community leaders, said in a statement it had disabled a trunk line in the Obunoma area of Rivers state connecting several flow stations to the Bonny export terminal.

Production in Dubai’s new oil field to begin in a year

The Media Office of the Dubai Government said today that the commercial production of oil from the newly discovered ‘Al-Jalilah’ oilfield will start in an year.

Research and initial exploration in the new deposit off the coast of Dubai located east of the existing Rashid oil field predicted the possibility of full scale commercial production within an year, said a statement from the Media office. Once operational the Jalilah Oilfield will be the fifth producing fields in the emirate since the oil was discovered in the sixties of the last century.

Fuel Subsidy: Governors Threaten Legal Action

Some state governments are preparing a legal action against the Federal Government for fuel subsidy deductions from the Federation Account which they claim are illegal and unconstitutional.

The past administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo had initiated the Petroleum Support Fund bill in 2006 to legitimise the deductions to fund the huge subsidy bill, but it is yet to be passed by the National Assembly.
 Also, because of the deregulation programme of the government, the bill is not likely to be pursued any longer as government will no longer be involved in the pricing of petroleum products.

The 36 states of the federation, 774 local councils and the Federal Capital Territory contributed over N1.3 trillion to the subsidy fund between 2006 and last year, although only Lagos, Rivers and Abuja enjoyed the benefit of paying N65 per litre of petrol before the current fuel crisis crept in.

Addressing the food versus fuel debate in Ghana

The lines between energy and agriculture are becoming more blurred. As science advances, the use of biofuels in most parts of the world has continued to increase. One thing that has gradually come to stay and is in recently times attracting significant foreign investment in Ghana is energy crops. The last four years has seen Norwegian, Brazilian, Dutch, Swedish, German and British firms all competing for farmland to grow energy crops in different parts of the country.

The Iraqi oil conundrum

Speculation that Iraq's production could - in the not too distant future - exceed that of Saudi Arabia may still represent Washington's main strategy for postponing future severe global energy shortages.

Shareholder group calls on BP to rethink oil sands project

OIL giant BP is facing calls by a shareholder group to review its plans to invest in major oil sands projects in Canada. FairPensions, which lobbies for companies to adopt "responsible investment practices", has filed a resolution it hopes will be voted on at BP's general meeting in April.

The resolution calls for the risk and audit committees at Europe's second largest oil explorer to review factors such as future carbon prices, potential regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and possible risks to its reputation it might face from investing in oil sands projects.

China's economy set to grow 10%

AN OFFICIAL Chinese economic think tank has predicted the country's economy will grow by around 10 per cent this year. The Centre for Forecasting Science predicted that first quarter growth equivalent to 11 per cent in the first three months of the year would slow slightly during the rest of 2010.

Falklands oil prospects stir Anglo-Argentinian tensions

It does not look like much: a jumble of pipes, containers and drilling equipment sitting on a windswept jetty at Port Stanley. The hardware, however, signals an imminent search for oil and gas that could turn the Falkland Islanders into south Atlantic oil barons, a prospect that has already triggered a dispute between Britain and Argentina.

Is diesel dead?

Diesel. Nasty oily stuff or thrifty saviour? Until fairly recently, you might have said that UK buyers were coming around to the second view.

In Europe, diesel's share of the new passenger car market has grown from 25 per cent to more than 50 per cent during the past decade, but in Britain, from a lower base, growth has been even faster during the same period (from 15 per cent to 43 and a bit). In recent months, though, Britain's love affair with diesel has lost its ardour.

China approves Gansu coal mining plan

Ningzheng mining region is located in eastern Gansu, covering an area of 1,100 square kilometers. The mining region was designed to produce 20 million tons of coal annually after construction, which will become one of the largest energy bases in Northwest China.

$60b Aussie coal deal inked

Australian coal and iron ore company Resourcehouse said over the weekend it had signed a record $60 billion coal supply deal with Chinese power stations, a move analysts said underscored Chinese companies' growing demand for energy to fuel the country's economic development.

Resourcehouse will supply 30 million tons of coal annually over 20 years to China Power International Development Ltd, a unit of major power producer China Power Investment Corp (CPI), Clive Palmer, chairman of the Australian company, said on Saturday.

China's railways send 5m passengers by Feb 6

China's railway network has transported 5.03 million passengers as of February 6, the eighth day of the country's annual Spring Festival transport peak lasting from January 30 to March 10 this year, said the Ministry of Railways (MOR) Sunday. The figure was 105,000 more than that in the same time last year, up 2.1 percent year on year, according to the MOR.

Coal exporters face low prices costly transport

Coal exporters face a tough year without the cushion of forward selling at higher prices that helped get them through 2009, and with their familiar problem of high rail transport costs persisting. Exporters may have to cut production as they did in 2008-09 if prices slump and they cannot shift coal to Asia.

Russia, one of the world's top five coal exporters to Europe and Asia, will ship about 8 percent more thermal coal in 2010 than last year but will battle for more than a slim profit margin, analysts and exporters said.

The Role of Oil in the Iraq War

In truth, the oil production level in Iraq has deteriorated during that period compared to its levels under the former regime. Also, Iraq’s recent openness to the international oil companies in 2009 was not matched by a noticeable openness to American companies. It was the Asian state-owned companies (especially from Malaysia and China) that had the lion’s share, and only two American companies, ExxonMobil and Occidental Petroleum, were awarded contracts. More importantly, the American companies did not broadly participate in two other Iraqi tenders. Their refrainment from competing with other companies was thus notable and remarkable, especially Chevron which withdrew in the last minute.

Government's switched on energy move

ALL Australian homes will soon have to undergo a mandatory energy-efficiency assessment costing up to $1500 per property. The assessment has to be done before any property can be sold or rented under new laws to tackle carbon emissions.

Barring accusations of vote-rigging it appears that Ukraine has voted for closer co-operation with Moscow.

Ukraine's Tymoshenko cannot catch up-latest results

Results from Ukraine's Central Election Commission show that with only 1.58 percent of the vote yet to be counted, Victor Yanukovych was 2.79 percentage points ahead of rival Yulia Tymoshenko, who can no longer overtake him.

The Commission said on its Web site Yanukovich gained 48.60 percent of the vote and Tymoshenko 45.81 percent, with 98.42 percent of the vote counted

The reason their vote shares don't add up to 100% in a two-person race is that voters also have the option of checking "none of the above" on their ballot. Sensible provision, wish we had it.

Some more comment on what this might mean

Update: Yanukovych, monitors, press Tymoshenko to concede


The official results signalled a comeback for the rough-hewn Yanukovych, 59, and widespread disillusionment among Ukrainians that the Orange Revolution democracy movement of 2004 has not delivered the hoped-for prosperity and stability.

Reversing current President Victor Yushchenko's pro-Western, anti-Moscow course, Yanukovych has promised to give the Russian language official status alongside Ukrainian.

He called for a "historic partnership" with Moscow in a speech to the Kremlin's ruling party congress in November last year and has backed Kremlin chief Dmitry Medvedev's proposals for a new security architecture in Europe to replace NATO.

Yanukovych urged his 49-year-old rival on Sunday night to resign as prime minister.

Aide Borys Kolesnikov, answering reporters' question on Monday, said there were no back-stage contacts with Tymoshenko's camp to do a deal on a future alliance.

"It is impossible. There can be no coalition with BYuT (the Tymoshenko bloc in parliament)," said Kolesnikov.

Tymoshenko was the co-architect of the 2004 revolution with Yushchenko, but their relationship quickly soured and Yushchenko has attacked her bitterly in this year's campaign.

The fiery former gas tycoon urged her team late on Sunday to "fight for every result, every document, every vote", though she backed away from a threat to call people out on to the streets in a repeat of the 2004 protests.

In Russia, the source of the gas which flows through Ukraine's pipeline network to the West, the election was closely watched but state-controlled media avoided taking sides.

The country's two leaders, Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, did not make any public statements on the vote and their spokesmen declined comment.

The Russians have learnt that it is better for them to sit quietly rather than loudly back their preferred candidate as they did previously.

Perhaps the Ukrainians are disillusioned with the change they hoped for and were promised by the politicians, remind you of any other politicians who made promises they didn't keep, Oh yes that's just about all of them then:-)

Freak Current Takes Gulf Stream to Greenland



Question: Can this become a permanent state?

Update 3/2/2010



"The most recent geologic interval of global warmth comparable to climate projections for the end of this century was ~3.3 to 3.0 Ma (IPCC 2007), during the mid-Piacenzian Age of the Pliocene Epoch. During this time interval, the positions of the continents and the patterns of oceanic circulation were similar to modern, but mean global temperatures were 2 to 3°C warmer, and sea level was about 25m higher (Dowsett 2007)."


We have:

(1) Public and private debt together with cheap $20 oil drove carbon based consumer society
(2) Accumulated debt + peak oil triggered GFC
(3) Governments taking over company debt leads to sovereign debt crisis
(4) We have to be careful that next phase of peak oil - declining oil production - does not completely destroy our economy otherwise we don't have the financial means to get rid of our coal fired power plants.
(5) Car factories must be retooled to mass produce components for carbon free energy systems

Australia still continues with car dreams:

Which bank would now finance more road tunnels?

The winds over the Nordic Seas have been flowing toward the west or southwest for a while. The result has been that storms have been blocked from progressing toward Europe and the air flow has cooled Northern Europe. I've watched the satellite images as storms have exited the East Coast of the US moving toward the Northeast, then collide with the other flow and turn back toward the Northwest over the Labrador Sea and southern Greenland. But, there would appear to be a considerable flow of wet air as well, dumping lots of fresh water in these high latitude areas.

If this recent situation is the result of previous additions of fresh water to the Nordic and Labrador Seas, it would appear likely that the recent weather might thus add "fuel to the fire" in a negative sense, damping the THC sinking in these areas. It's tempting to extrapolate this process by claiming that this is a long term (perhaps permanent?) change. Without the inflow of the salty water into the Nordic Seas, it would be highly likely that the THC previously found in those waters will no longer be possible. However, with that westward shift in the Gulf Stream, a large inflow of warm, salty water is now blasting into the Labrador Sea, which will offset the impact of previous inflows of fresher waters (and sea-ice) via the East Greenland Current. Here's a graphic of surface salinity from the same source as the image of the flow. A big question in my mind is, where is all that Gulf Stream water going? Is the flow going to make it all the way all the way into the Arctic Ocean, strengthening the THC sinking there? Is that what starts an Ice Age?

E. Swanson


Why, only yesterday, I was thinking about today....

Strange days...

That graphic is fascinating but I can't find the source data/website. Iused to have a link to a full timeseries animation for that image but have lost it.

EDIT found it:


If you click on 'animation' you can choose loops in time and select temp or velociy (U,V) and other parameters and set the loop running.

Edit 2: The map above shows the image from dec 30th. The lastest map dated 3rb Feb clearly shows the Gulfstream moving back to a normal cross Atlantic flow. So we can all calm down people - no staue of Liberties buried in ice yet.

So it looks like the Daily COS has gone for a bit of sensationalism (on this 6th Feb article) by using an image dated 30th Dec when the latest image on the 3rd feb clearly shows a return to norm.


If one looks back to the 12/30/2009 data, one finds that at depths below the surface, the Gulf Stream was still flowing in it's usual direction. Select the 100 or 300 meter depth plots of salinity for instance. The surface winds pushed waters from the ocean surface in the direction of the Labrador Sea. The latest graphics show the same flows at these depths.

For some real fun, select the 1000 meter data, which shows quite clearly the very salty out flow from the Mediterranean Sea, which sinks below the surface of the Atlantic and spreads out over a wide area. Of course, there plots are re-analysis data, i.e., the results of computer modeling...

E. Swanson

I can't resist ...

I worked for 12 years in the group that created the Ferret analysis and visualization software that is used by the Mercator group for the visualizations above. In 2004 I traveled to Toulouse to interact with their modelers and help them use our software to provide a web interface to their model output. It's nice to see that those efforts are still producing results.

God, Toulouse is a beautiful city!

Thanks Matt.
I was wondering what happened to the gulf stream, considering the freezing weather they are having in UK.

My post (on another thread) yesterday at 10:53 AM

I operate under the assumption that all models are wrong, in whatever area they are applied.

For example, the betting model (millions of people betting hard cash, surely a superb model) have the Colts winning the SuperBowl. I know that is wrong and the rest of the world will as well in a few hours.

Models can still provide guidance but are hardly conclusive "evidence". So I agree that the second digit of any estimates might as well be a random # and some serious flaws will develop.

We see the future "through a glass, darkly". Yet it is the best we have and the overall trends are clear.

Best Hopes,



My best effort to connect the SuperBowl and stay on topic for The Oil Drum :-)

Best Hopes after a wild night !


New Orleanians know to take two Aleve BEFORE starting to drink and a few ibuprofen afterwards with plenty of water

Damn, Alan! Thats a tripple wammy on the liver. GA boys just take their lumps like a man. You can't cheat the "Hangman".

Congratulations to the Saints. The interception return for a touchdown that put the game away looked to me like a wonderful gamble that paid off big -- right situation, right defensive play, executed beautifully by the three defensive backs on that side. You don't see Manning get fooled like that very often. OTOH, if it had been a pump-fake to that receiver, it was going to go for a touchdown the other way.

And to be on topic -- models are not usually very good about handling regime-switching events, where there's one set of equations/coefficients before the event and a quite different set afterwords. Hard for a modeler to recognize that there are multiple regimes, really hard to forecast the switches. It's one of the reasons that economists are so bad at forecasting recessions, and particularly when they will start.

Kuwait approved a 100 billion dollar spending bill to try to boost oil output capacity. Various reports described probable production capacity boosts from 500,000 BOD to 1,000,000 BOD within five to ten years.


OPEC was reported as having cut over 4 million barrels of oil a day output in late 2008.

OPEC oil consumption has grown millions of barrels per day over the past decade.

Interesting that Branson recognizes there will be an oil crisis. I wonder what it means in terms of his decisions about running an airline -- which presumably is toast in a world of skyrocketing oil prices....

Catman, with high oilprices the economy is toast, driving down oilprices.

I wonder if Sir Richard's biofuel dream is still alive:

Whatever his precise motivations, Branson has invested widely in biofuels and has put his Virgin Atlantic group at the forefront of the jet biofuels movement, committing one of his 747s (empty except for crew) for a biofuels test under flight conditions in 2008.


The idea seems to be "taking off":

Use of jet biofuels by airlines should be mandated in the EU from 2020, says UK think tank report


No problems, Branson is having a holistic view, so he prepared ! Virgin Atlantic Biofuel Flight

Branson can probably run his jet planes on jet fuel made from vegetable oil, and his railways on electricity, but he needs someone to get moving and provide vegetable oil based jet fuel and electricity from some source to make this work.

North Sea oil is on a steep decline and the clock is ticking. Options are running out. If Britain doesn't get the necessary infrastructure in place in time, it's going to cost Branson a lot of money. For the rest of the British population, it means they well spend a lot more time at home.

If biofuels are such a good deal no mandates will be necessary, they will sell out like turkey breast for 99 cents a pound. If biofuels are not such a good deal and are forced on people; nations might crumble. A little bit of rust at a time can bring down a bridge. What is debt financing of projects that fail to produce? Why is the euro falling in value? People traded free market economies for government interventions that bailed out a select few.

I expect some populist politician who can get the working public behind him may finish off what peak oil has started so far as air travel is concerned-by slapping a very serious tax on air travel or maybe the fuel directly.

I will support that tax with a passion-there is no reason for the air travel industry to be exempt from fuel taxes.That jet fuel can be blended into something I need -enough of the free ride for the better off class.I suppose I must be turning into a populist in my old age;)

But if I can't afford to fly to Rio to escape the winter, or colorado to ski, I can take pleasure in making my fuel a little cheaper and the travelers ticket a little more expensive.

This is the reality version of most American politics-where's mine? ;)

Loss of Species Hits Economy:


It's sad that the only way we can convince ourselves to care if we wipe species into extinction is whether it will cost us money. By 2050, climate change is likely to send more than a million species to extinction. I'm trying to imagine anything the human race has done in the past 100,000 years or so that is this horrific.

(This link isn't new, just a report on a scientific study that backs up the million species to extinction claim. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/01/0107_040107_extinction.html)

Hope you don't mind the silence after that post, Tao.

It is just wretched. Doesn't leave much else to say..


-1,000,000 :-(

Fed to Outline 'Exit Strategy'

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will begin this week to lay out a blueprint for a credit tightening, to be followed once the Fed decides the economy has recovered sufficiently.

The Fed has ended several emergency lending programs, but the big step of broadly tightening credit looms. For now, the central bank has little interest in discouraging bank lending or consumer borrowing. Eventually, it will, to forestall inflation.

In the past, it simply raised its target for the federal-funds rate on banks' overnight borrowing. That rippled through to other rates. The Fed steers the fed-funds rate, which has been near zero since late 2008, by buying and selling securities to influence the supply of money in this market.

Because it has put so much money in the banking system, the Fed expects to find it hard to control the fed-funds rate with traditional approaches. Hence the search for alternatives.

It seems like taking money back out of the financial system is one issue; raising interest rates is the other. The article is mostly about the latter issue, I believe. A quote off to the side of the article says, "As far as small business is concerned, credit could not be any tighter. - Patrick Dempsey" implying that taking money out of the financial system will be very difficult. Either move could make the credit unwind worse, it seems to me.

Tethys Petroleum discovered oil in Kazakhstan near the Aral Sea. The well flowed over 6000 barrels a day of restricted flow from two zones in both sandstone and dolomite strata. There are no pipelines in the area. The company has been selling oil to local traders using trucks to transport the unrefined oil.

Is this significant in any way whatsoever? That will supply enough oil for the whole world...for about 6 seconds of each day.

It is significant for this is a new field and this was a successful wildcat well. I read that the average Saudi well produces 500 barrels a day. This one flowed 6800 barrels a day restricted flow of 38 API oil without paraffin problems plus some natural gas production as well. This is only one oil structure drilled in an area with multiple prospects. It is also significant because doomers were saying all the oil had been found, we were doomed. Kazak oil was flowing to China. It is not always one giant mega-project that makes a company, but a thousand wells like this one would equal about 6.8 million barrels of oilflow per day. If you could produce 10 percent of the Bakken OOIP you might get 40 billion plus barrels of oil, even though a single well might only produce about 500 barrels a day.

It is not always one giant mega-project that makes a company, but a thousand wells like this one would equal about 6.8 million barrels of oilflow per day.

rainsong, 6.8 mbd compensates for about 2 years of loss from declining oilfields. Doomers (realists) say that most oil is found.

It is also significant because doomers were saying all the oil had been found, we were doomed.

As I have noted several times, Sam's analysis of North Sea production showed that North Sea oil fields whose first full year of production was 1999 or later (the North Sea peaked in 1999) had a peak production of about one mbpd in 2005, versus a 1999 North Sea peak of about 6 mbpd (C+C).

This one mbpd of new production--equal to about one-sixth of total peak production--served to slow the 1999 to 2009 rate of decline to about 4.6%/year.

What this does show is that oil companies can and will make money in post-peak regions, but I don't think it offers much comfort to consumers, especially in oil importing countries.

If you could produce 10 percent of the Bakken OOIP you might get 40 billion plus barrels of oil

ho hum ....wake me when bakken cumulative reaches 1 gb.

There you go again, you guys who can't grasp the New Physics--which allows us to recover more than 100% of Original Oil In Place, from a near zero permeability formation.

Bakken wells drilling time - 30 days. Production in the sweet spots over 1,000 barrels a day IP. Production growth - over 700 percent in a few years. Bakken -- one of the largest oil accumulations in the nation. Drill bit proved reserves approaching 4 billion barrels.

What this does show is that oil companies can and will make money in post-peak regions, but I don't think it offers much comfort to consumers, especially in oil importing countries.

Production in the sweet spots over 1,000 barrels a day IP

yeah, trouble is, the sweet spots are few and far between. few, very few bakken wells in nd have ever produced 1000 bpd for a month(30,000 bbls/month).

for nd, 2009 - ytd, each new well has added a net of under 100 bopd. the existing wells don't know they are not supposed to decline so fast.


When the initial wells have been drilled and they indicate that 1000 such wells are feasible, it's a big deal. Until then, it's at best an interesting tid-bit...and at worst, a distraction from the 1000 (or 10,000, or 100,000) existing such wells that are declining.

Really, if the volume doesn't stack up nicely against existing super-giant fields, it can't really change the overall dynamic.

If there were no Iraq and no spare OPEC capacity, oil would be worth more. Its not like there is no oil in the Bakken. West Texas might have read his cross section wrong and hit a layer about as permiable as cement. There are N.D. ranchers who are millionaires. Money in their pockets to get a beer at the saloon, poor no more.

China uses their proceeds from Walmart sales to buy up America. Not cast pearls to swine. Climate doomers want to ban oil anyway. I am supposed to prepare for another foot of snow. It is likely to become the snowiest winter in 140 years. Climategate got people hysterical about the weather, based on the false data, govt. throwing good money to the bad. China has no carbon credits, only cold cash.

It's already worth more than people can afford, but that's not really the point. Of course there is oil everywhere, just not enough to provide for all the desires. The supply of it will make a few people rich, and the lack of it will make many people poor.

Oh great rainsong, in reading the two lines here I felt just great for a second- energy- and climate troubles gone for a whole second.. Thanks so much..

I read that the average Saudi well produces 500 barrels a day.

What?!! I may be dating myself here, but I remember when the average Saudi well produced 6,500 barrels per day. Some of them produced 100,000 barrels per day. I guess things have gone downhill a bit since then.

So, now it's a big deal when one well in Kazakstan produces as much as the average Saudi well did back before things started to go south.

I don't really think this is going to save us.

This is likely a small pool of oil. If they drilled it on a flank the true width is probably less than on the crest of the anticline. It should put them in the pay, but not enough to retire on. They have also been reworking Soviet era wells that are in better condition than what the Stripper Well Association has.

@ Rainsong:

Link(s) for the info about the Tethys find, please?

RETRANSMISSION-Tethys Petroleum Limited: Kazakh Exploration Well Flows Over 6,800 Barrels of Oil per Day - MarketWatch

200-2008 Kazakh production averaged 9.38% YOY growth. Is nice! I like!

For Rainsong: Peak Oil News and Message Boards : Catalog of recent oil discoveries : Peak Oil Discussion. Every spud and wildcat under the globe. Wow. Or you could fire up an RSS feed on RIGZONE. Go to the ASPO site and learn what "YTF" stands for, too. No peak oiler worth listening to says we will never find any more oil.

@ KLR:

Thanks for providing that link on the Kazakh well. If I'd Googled a bit, I probably could have found it.

I read that the average Saudi well produces 500 barrels a day.

Do you or anyone else (Rainsong especially....) have any info whatsoever that can back up a comment like this??

SA is 13% of world output, which is 80*0.13 = 10MB /day.

An average of 500 barrels per well means that they would need 10e6/5e2 = 20,000 producing wells. Do we believe that number?

Or do we believe that they have perhaps 2,000 or fewer wells? That would be closer to 5000 or more barrels per well per day.

So Rainsong isn't wrong, the average Saudi well does produce 500 barrels per day ... and probably at least 10 times more.

I am totally amazed how often people quote figures (that are easily checked by doing a very simple sum) that are at least an order of magnitude out!

I wonder if such a thing as an 'average Saudi well' exists?

Yeah, 5000 bpd does sound more reasonable for an average Saudi oil well. I mean, things are probably going downhill there, but they're not going downhill that fast. It's still much, much, much better than an average American well.

I guess people have to realize that 6,800 bpd is not a big deal for a well in the Middle East.

Do you know that the Spindletop discovery well in Texas in 1901 produced 100,000 bpd? For about nine days. By the end of 1902, they had drilled 285 wells, but by 1904 the whole field was down to producing only 10,000 bpd. The Spindletop field had stopped producing oil by 1936.

Have no fear Rocky....we're about to fix that. We'll spud a new well at Spindletop in month. Hooray!! PO is about to be fixed. Actually the location of the well at Spindletop is just a coincidence. The effort is just the downdip extension of the deep Yegua NG/condensate play that has been gone on for a while. But no doubt if we hit there will be those headlines sighted by the deniers that Spindletop lives and we'll never run out of oil: just keep drilling deeper where we've already found the grease.

The Nickel story, Permits Drag on U.S. Mining Projects, talks about permits and local opposition. But it has no economics-related context. For that, here's the 'Price Evolution' plot from the Minerals Databrowser:

Even though global production is up, nickel's inflation adjusted price per ton in the last few years is the highest it's been in the last fifty. No wonder interest in mining in the US is up.

-- Jon

jonathan you make some nifty presentations on important statistics.Great!
But, these sort of charts are not doing it for me. I would suggest to just keep the x-axis as the timeline and put two info-sources (metric tons and dollar/tons) superimposed into it as y1 and y2.

I like both formats. This format illustrates economies of scale where warranted, increasing marginal costs, collapses, and so forth.

And kudos, Jonathan, for the superb data you bring to the table.


Paal, Paleocon and toilforoil,

Thanks for the comments. I really do appreciate your constructive criticism. I'm sure you realize that I am using the readers of The Oil Drum as my guinea pigs to try out new visualization styles before going public with the US Minerals Databrowser. I cannot think of anywhere else that I can get feedback from such a wide range of insightful, data focused readers who will also point out any errors in my analysis. If I can make this group happy I know I have something ready to show to a wider audience.

Paal, you should rest assured that there is another plot type called 'World Production / Price' in the databrowser that plots the data as you suggest. I know that the price vs. production plot above is not for everyone. But I think it provides some special insight. especially if you poke around the databrowser and look at several commodoties. Certain common patterns arise, like the recent spike in nickel.

Best Regards,

-- Jon

Thanks again, and as you imply you really do present the data as I suggested, but the designations lack somehow, dollars/ton for instance.I reckon that part is behind the "Men at work" sign..:-) Those Databrowsers really are time saving gadgets, for people on the move.

Jonathan, A post here and there along the way on the proper way to read these new style charts would be appreciated.

Sometimes we older geezers have a hard time with things that have been invented since we went to school and violate the formerly fixed rules used in grammar and communications.

I have come to the conclusion that unless you are first trained in software (obvuoisly impossible) before you try to learn to manipulate a computer, the LESS YOU KNOW the better off you are.

That way you don't have to "unlearn" the concepts developed over a lifetime of expecting the rules of reading and interpreting written material to remain constant.

A graph with two y axes , clearly labeled at either side, with the plotted data presented in two clearly contrasting colors, is one thing, and a fine one.

But when an old geezer like me looks at the graph you posted, it seems to contradict itself in a very fundamental way.

And when people post ten or twelve superimposed colors of sawtoothing trends that are often rather closely spaced and the whole thing is confined to a computer window that even expanded to full screen is still as crowded as a sardine can , it is nearly useless.

"...a computer window that even expanded to full screen is still as crowded as a sardine can , it is nearly useless."

I couldn't get that far, as there were no working controls on the page at least not in Firefox.

At any rate, check out Edward Tufte. His essay on PowerPoint is getting long in the tooth, but it's hilarious since the stupid ways presenters use PowerPoint have only multiplied like oversexed rabbits during the years since it was written. This link is really an advert (the essay is not on-line) but the two samples shown will convey some of the idea.

This Wikipedia link on chartjunk conveys some more, though not scintillatingly well.

People who do graphics in a serious way ought to find a copy of some edition of the original book - again it's getting a bit long in the tooth, but it has become ever more apropos as everything has continued to be dumbed down ever dumber and ever downer.

When I click your link I get a chart for aluminum. If I switch the drop-down to, say, phosphate, nothing happens. Nor is there any "update" button. ???

Edit - also pls. see what I just said to OFM.

In The Market Potential of CNG as a Transportation Fuel, there ar several practical matters that also have to be overcome (as someone whom occasionally drives a CNG vehicle).

First, is infrastructure. Drive anywhere except some of the middle of nowhere places like US 50 in Nevada or US 264 in the far eastern extrems of NC and you are likely to find a gas station selling three grades of gasoline and onroad diesel every few miles. Not so with CNG.

Because of that you have to cognizant of your fuel range and fuel sources. We have CNG vehicles from Honda and Ford (they operate at two different maximum pressures of the fuel tank in the vehicle's trunk). When you "run out of gas" with one of these vehicles, you are done. There is no alternative to put gasoline in the tank and run them on gasoline untilyou get back to the CNG station.

Second, the type of compressor available for use in filling the CNG tank. Natural gas in pipelines and distribution systems are far too low to be of any real use in fueling vehicles. To get to the appropriate filling pressure you have to compress the gas to upwards of 3500-4000 psig. Our Honda operates with a "full tank" of 3250 psig and the Ford Crown Victoria at 3750 psig. There is a whole process associated with connecting these vehicles so that their fuel tanks can be recharged back to the operating pressure.

But the real problem is the size of the intercoolers from compression of the CNG. Anyone who has worked with the large pipeline compressor stations knows the importants and the limits of the coolers before the gas in reinjected into the pipeline after recompression. The same is true for filling a vehicle. A CNG vehiclenear "empty" on it's regulator could take as much as 20 minutes to fill on a warm summers day when the compressor is equipped with a large cooler for "fast fills." But for smaller compressors with smaller coolers, 8-10 hours could be the norm. That may be fine for going home and plugging your CNG vehicle into MR. Boyle's Home Compressor overnight.

Finally, any large scale coversion is likely to do the same thing to NG prices and availability as "Fermenting Our Food." Although we seem to have a "glut" of NG at the moment, we may tax our supplies and our infrastructure with a large scale conversion. As California found out a couple of years ago during it's heat wave, turning over all those gas turbines to provide A/C in the middle of a heat wave also tests and exposes the limits of the gas infrastructure to provide that gas (heat waves affect NG compressor stations, too, cutting down the amount of gas that can be sent down the pipelines).

Small substitutions make no real difference and large ones can prove to have interesting problems unless you can really handle all the moving parts at once

There could be a few technologies that could make the difference. Adsorbed natural gas storage would allow you to store gas at lower pressures. Also increased vehicle efficiency (downsized engines, hybridisation, lightweighting & aerodynamics) can increase distance travelled for a given amount of gas. Dual fuelling / flex fuelling are also a possibility that would allow using conventional fuels if NG was not available.

Dual-fuel cars are currently a non-starter due to the way incentives are constructed -- you get points for Ethanol flex-fuels, but no end-user rebates for dual-fuel petrol/cng. The dual-fuel adds cost but you get no rebate, while the CNG-only adds less cost and you get a rebate. There have been fleet duel-fuel conversions, but those have had more maintenance issues and more emissions on average than similar single-fuel cars, and a duel-fuel CNG engine has less power than a dedicated one due to lower compression ratios for petrol.

Today that means CNG is for city cars, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. If you could convince people to have a smallish, alt-energy commuter vehicle that got driven a lot and larger vehicle that didn't (or better, was rented) you'd have a better situation overall than you do today.

The solution here lies in the information you have just provided (though I have posted on this before).
The dual fuel vehicle should be able to run on both CNG and Ethanol. Both of these fuels can be used with very high compression engines (up to 16:1), and with the charge air cooling from ethanol vaporisation or CNG expansion, they could deliver diesel like fuel efficiency. Nascar runs on ethanol and their vehicles seem to have plenty of power.

The real culprit is maintaining backwards compatibility with petrol - it limits the maximum compression, and efficiency of your engine. Having CNG solves the cold starting problems of ethanol, and the ethanol tank can be shaped around the CNG tank to store more fuel for the same space (many years ago in Australia I drove a dual fuel petrol/propane vehicle that did this - got 550 miles from the two tanks), which solves the range issue of CNG. For city driving, just fill up at home overnight - a "plug in " vehicle, and your fuel cost is halved.

Of course, with modern variable intake valve technology, you could close the intake valve early on gasoline to reduce the effective compression ratio back to 10:1 or so.

Being fuel aware is much easier than it was - "there's an App for that", that will show you where the CNG places are. Ditto for ethanol.

Agree with your view about two vehicles - some simple to changes to registration and insurance would solve this. Register and insure the driver, rather than the vehicle, you can own as many vehicles as you like, but you can only drive one of them at any time - 2x vehicles does not equal 2x risk, so should not equal 2x cost.

I think both the vehicles I've driven have standard engines converted from gasoline use to CNG. When you look under the hood there's a bit more plumbing associated with getting the fuel to the cylinders, but otherwise the engines look like stock engines.

I think you meant Formula I and Indy cars run on ethanol (thats why fires and fuel spills and ruptured fuels tanks, even with the foam inserts are so dangerous...the flames are not visible in daylight).

NASCAR (truck, Sprint Cup and Nationwide-formerly Busch-series) all use gasoline powered engines...Sunoco...98 Octane.

Trooper, I stand corrected, it is indeed Indycar that runs on ethanol, and that is only for the last few years, for the previous three decades, they ran on methanol.

Quite so about the minor changes to convert an engine - it is really just a different fuel delivery system. But if you want to see what an engine that is optimised for NG looks like, then look at a diesel. Most industrial NG engines are converted diesels, and many retain the diesel injection for their "ignition" system. With the compression ratios of up to 20:, these NG engines get up to 40% thermal efficiency.

A small diesel engined car could easily be converted for dual fuel diesel/NG operation, with about the same amount of plumbing mods you have seen.

A leading manufacturer of NG systems for diesel engines, Westport of Vancouver, was bought up by cummins a few years ago - they could see which direction things are going. Diesel engines running on NG have less emissions issues than straight diesel, and so don't need these costly pollution controls appearing on new diesel vehicles.

Lots of potential, just no much market penetration, at least, not in N. America.

Drive anywhere except some of the middle of nowhere places like US 50 in Nevada

I've driven 50 four times in the last two years. One of my favorite roads. One must be fuel aware.

The air is vitually devoid of radio waves unless you have XM/Sirius.

Hopefully one of our engineers or hvac people will tell us just how much energy is lost in the process of compressing the ng from pipeline pressure to fuel tank pressure , which sfaics is lost -none of it can be recovered, unless maybe by using the cooling effects resulting as it expands again to refrigerate the passenger space?If this is by golly a patentable idea I will put a hillbilly hex on whoever patents it w/o cutting me in.

The amount of energy required to run and cool the compressor unit must be substantial-but of course it would almost certainly be grid juice except in the real boonies-where it might be ng used run an ice used in turn to drive the compressor and cooling fans.

The heat of compression that must be wasted away by a home compressor station or one located at a small business might be salvaged by diverting it to space heating in cold weather or hot water heating all year around.

OFM, you know we engineers can't resist a challenge like that! On the website for Toromont Energy systems, is a "slide wheel" that gives the power required for compressing NG.
Suburban delivery pressure (the lines that would run to gas stations) are at 60psi. To compress this to tank pressure of 3000 psi takes 170kW to compress 1000 cu.m/hr. In meaningful units, it takes 16MJ to compress 1GJ (or 16,000BTU to compress 1 MMbtu), so about 1.6% of the gas energy.

If you are compressing from transmission line pressure of 1000 psi, it is less than a third of this, or about 0.5%.

The best thing you can do with the cooling effect on expansion is to cool the incoming combustion air, it is like an intercooler for free. The effect is even more dramatic if you are using liquified natural gas. This is very advantageous for gas turbine systems.

People (in Canada) who have the home compression systems let the heat of compression warm their garage, instead of using their domestic heat. It doesn't keep the garage toasty warm at -20C outside, but it does take the chill off. Even better would be to duct the warm air to under the car. so that the engine is warm before you start in the morning. Hot water is a good idea too.

I couldn't find information about the power consumption of the home filling unit, but it plugs into a std 120V outlet, so it can't use that much electricity.

The good news is that NG is highly compressible (it does not follow the Ideal Gas Law). One of the first things I remember learning in ChE 205 and doing all of those compression/recovery calcs with non-ideal gases.

Takes me way back.

(... the bad news is that NG is not liquid at room temps), said with a whispering voice.

So if 1.6 percent is the calculated energy energy required for compression, then when the losses involved in running the electriccompressor motor and compressor and cooling fans are added it the total or practical energy penalty is probably between two and two and a half percent.

Less than I would have guessed, which was five percent or more.But I would have been in the money if an ice were to be used to run the compressor.

If drivers have to go out of thier way to fill up where stations are few and far between, as will be the case for some time, there might be anotheradditonal practical loss of five percent or more , compared to gasoline which can be conveniently purchased almost anywhere .

That's true about if they have to go out of their way. That is why, to date, the action in CNG vehicles has been for corporate fleets, especially city buses, where they return to base each day and can be refuelled. For the average commuter, the home filling station is the way to go (fuel is even cheaper then), but having the dual fuel ability solves this inconvenience issue. Same reason as why we are likely to see more PHEV's than EV's - if you run out, you can always fill up on liquid fuel.

The Market Potential of CNG as a Transportation Fuel

I'm not sure to what extent NG can be used like oil as both a chemical feedstock and a source of fuel. On an energy per weight basis NG is similar to petrol and diesel however much it is compressed. Therefore if CNG takes off as an alternative transport fuel I would guess that we would need a similar tonnage of gas as we now need of oil. I understand a tonne of oil is about seven barrels.

This is saying for every million tonnes of oil we now need in the future we will need a million tonnes of gas. If CNG takes over as the major fuel by 2030 or so in Australia's case that could double gas demand. Drumbeat regularly has items about huge LNG exports from Gorgon but I think that could be eclipsed by demand for CNG within Australia. That's why I think we should not rely on gas for more electrical generation which will be one consequence of cap and trade schemes. Gas should be conserved for future transport.

I also agree with the article about limited market penetration of PHEVs. Most of those folks who drive around in large pickups and utes probably need them for heavy work. They are not going to switch to a PHEV.

Boof, NG is used in a huge variety of industrial processes, particularly for making methanol and ammonia (for fertiliser manufacture). It can, and is, also used for plastics, etc, as can be propane, butane and even petrol/oil. NG is preferred as it is cheaper than the others by factor of 2-3.
On an energy per mass basis, NG has about 11% more energy per kg than petrol.

Also, NG is already "refined" at or near the well head, whereas crude loses about 10% of it's energy in the refining process, so combining these two, we need about 80% of the tonnage.

But it gets better, because NG engines can be run at diesel like compression ratios (up to 25:1), so new "petrol" (spark ignition) engines can be built for it, and will get diesel like fuel economy, a 20% improvement.

So, with vehicles designed for NG, we can actually use about 60% of the tonnage of crude. Worldwide production of NG (on an energy basis) is almost as much as oil.

What baffles me is that for all the potential benefits of CNG as a fuel, there has not been more market penetration, and more backing from government. For Australia in particular, I think the ROI on a $ on investment into CNG programs is much better than on biofuels, but it's not happening (yet)

The fact that NG offers such potential for transport fuel is a good reason not to sell it all to China. For Oz to be exporting cheap fuel (NG) of which it has plots, and importing expensive fuel ( oil) of which it has little seems just wrong. A major investment in CNG vehicles and infrastructure would pay off pretty quickly and could make Australia oil independent.

I don't think cap and trade, or even a carbon tax, would cause a big switch for utilities from coal to NG. The real reason they build NG is that it is much cheaper and faster to do so than coal, and with less environmental restrictions (flue gas cleanup, sulphur removal, ash disposal, etc). NG is about three times the energy cost of coal, it would take a CO2 price/tax of about $80/ton to make up that difference, and I can't see it trading for that.

AS for the PHEV trucks, you have to realise that over here (US/Canada), many, possibly majority, of pickup truck drivers are urban commuters. These would benefit from being PHEV. Actually, so would people who do use them for work - being a hybrid gives much better mileage for stop/start, so if the vehicle is doing lots of (non-highway) miles per day, the benefits really add up. Same applies for lots of mountain/windy road driving. That's why taxi drivers are rapidly switching to hybrids - their fuel costs go down by 60-70%. So, with the right hybrid pickups and vans, whether plug in or not, the people that drive them for their living would see a benefit and start buying them - but so far, there are none available. In fact, there are very few diesel options available here, except for the very large pickups - nothing like the diesel Nissans and Hiluxes I grew up on at the farm in NSW.

[Facepalm] Apparently John Kilduff believes "If we build refineries, the oil will come."

That interview was a perfect example of The Creed of Objectivity Killed the News.

There is no such thing as objectivity, and the truth, that slippery little bugger, has the oddest habit of being way to hell off on one side or the other: it seldom nestles neatly halfway between any two opposing points of view. -- Molly Ivins

classic red herring

Hirsch has got the peak oil bit down pat, and he was so matter of fact about it, like it was a broken record. They even projected two charts he apparently must have provided. It was right there on the oil production chart - a plateau since the latter part of 04. Why is it other people like the guy he was debating do not get that during the several years plateau accompanied by rising oil prices, supposed OPEC spare capacity did not come to the rescue? Not even the Saudi's could muster much more. Spare capacity claims appear to be no more substantive than the mirages in their deserts.

Another 100 million Americans: a good thing?

NPR this afternoon hosted the show Talk of the Nation, interviewing Joel Kotkin, author of "The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050". He argues that, for the most part, this will be a good thing. A few of the callers into the show tried to raise the issue of ecological limits and destruction, but they were mostly poo-pooed and Mr. Kotkin seems to feel that this growth is necessary to avoid the coming fate of Japan and other low-growth or negative-growth countries, where 40% of their population will soon be over 60 or 65 years of age. For those of us "doing the numbers" on energy supply, there do not look to be any good answers - but adding another 100 million to U.S. population may be a worse solution than others.

Mr. Kotkin is likely right in another of his assertions, however: whether it's a good thing or not, the population growth projections will probably happen regardless (barring a total crash taking place before then). Forty years to go.

I wonder if any readers here would be willing to review the book for TOD?

Dick Lawrence

From the NPR web site:

Talk of the Nation
Imagining 'The Next Hundred Million' Americans
Published February 8, 2010 1:00 PM

The U.S. population is expected to reach 400 million by mid-century. In his book, The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, Joel Kotkin argues that future will be green, diverse and suburban. Kotkin explains how the nation's changing demographics will transform American life and communities.

I doubt that we'll ever hit 400M. That assumes that the flood of immigration continues, and people don't tend to immigrate to countries in long-term economic decline. More likely, they leave.

He also doesn't factor in the possibility of a major pandemic (natural or bioterrorist) or catastrophic natural disaster ("the Big One" in California, for example) causing a sudden die-off of tens of millions. Either, or both, could very well happen.

Finally, he doesn't factor in the possibility of a long-term decline in birth rates to far below replacement rate. When economies are in long term decline, you tend to get that, also.

I'm guessing we'll peak at somewhere between 325M and 350M between 2020 and 2040, and then begin a long-term population decline that will go on for the better part of a century or more. I have no idea where we'll level off at, that is too far in the future. Maybe 200M, maybe a good deal less.

Yes, I have watched Japan head into population decline, it startd 4 years ago and it`s accelerating. It is, by the way, unstoppable. (Just as the pop. increases back in the 1950s and 60s must have been and seemed unstoppable). The culture actually develops ways to allow people to enjoy life without getting married or having families.....Japan had this before when populations couldn`t rise (the pleasure quarters, geisha entertainers, etc.) but the entertainments that keep people busy and not loney are on the rise again (hostess bars, I-net cafes). There is no longer the expecation that anyone will get married (although some obviously do).
The economy keeps getting worse and people lower their sights. People with not enough education to be professionals have the most difficulty to afford a family but they are too absorbed in self-preservatuion to notice that they can`t reproduce. The professional class can afford kids but they are all panicked about the future so they don`t want too many (too much stress, costs, wory about schools and educational attainments). It`s wild.
People in their 20s watch the ones up ahead---the huge costs families face---and they just opt out of all of that by staying single for a loooong time.

This guys bio is a riot:

From wikipedia--

"Kotkin argues that the model of urban development as exemplified by pre-automobile cities such as New York City and Paris is outdated in many cases. Kotkin believes in a "back to basics" approach which stresses nurturing the middle class and families with traditional suburban development. He states that the current trend of growth of suburbs will be the dominant pattern around the world.[1] As a result, he believes rail transit is not always ideal for modern cities and suburbs.[2]"

I hope Kunstler listened to that and now has some new fodder for next blog.

How are people going to immigrate to the U.S.? Are the planes going to fly on unicorns and happy thoughts? If problems get bad enough, who is to say the U.S. will even exist?

No need to worry about the planes, people are immigrating in droves on foot. Now if the US got to be worse than Mexico and points south ... but we and they are economically coupled enough so that if we go down it will pull them downward too, at least for a while. A reversal in absolute terms seems unlikely in the lifetime of anyone now reading this.

If conditions continue to deteriorate, it won't be long until the actual U.S. army is occupying the border. Mass deportations are inevitable.

Everyone had a car in that movie, that doesn't appear to be a PO future.

There was a collapse in demand as the human population contracted. ^_^

what is the carbon footprint of the super bowl? how many barrels of oil does it take to produce the super bowl? given the bleak realities of PO should it continue? when the super bowl does stop will that indicate "the crash"? i posit that foot ball players should only make $14 per hour.

china is projected to have 10% growth. shouldnt chinese be reducing their lifestyle? i posit that chinese should make only $14 per hour.

geologists, $14 per hour.

JHK, $14 per hour.

the fed chairman, $14 per hour.

doctors, $14 per hour.

any CEO, $14 per hour.

members of congress, $14 per hour.

high class hookers, $14 per hour.

all must reduce life style. peak oil is here.

"it's all good"

You might get a dollar an hour in China or you might drive a Mecedes S-Class. They celebrate Mao's birthday. It is not politically correct to say bad things about the communist pary. Unregistered religious groups were persecuted. Some were tortured in prison.

The Super Bowl....

Oh my God. We had it syndicated on BBC. I Started watching it at bloody midnight and they didn't kick-off until nearly one A.M.. I was cheering for the New Orleans Saints because they played at Wembley last year, and also because I am a life long Southampton FC fan who are also The Saints.

... But seriously my American friends; what is with the stop-start, stop-start BS with American Footie? Christ sake, just play the damn game! It could be a truely good spectator sport if it wasn't for all the interruptions.

Now real football, on the other hand, is all nice and compact: Drink beer, go to ground, more beer, tell Ref he is a kiddy fiddler, more beer, cheer the goal, leave ground, wait for the rozzers to piss off, have a go at the away fans, more beer, home, sleep, a new week.....

Christ, with American Footie one has to book an entire week off work just to see the first half...


The Superbowl is one of the reasons I left the USA!
I felt like an alien being over there every January because I couldn`t understand why everyone was getting so excited about something so boring and trivial. The silly hats, the drinking, the obsessing about the ads, the focus on cars (the ads were often tied to cars), the betting...on something that doesn`t have any action at all, as far as I could tell by passing glances at the screen.
It seemed rather wasteful somehow (I didn`t know about PO but I imagined all the TV sets, all the SUVs involved, all the brash but stupid gung-ho-ness that seemed like a metaphor for the follies of the US military.) At the parties, I gathered, everyone ate meat (sandwiches with meat) or salty snacks made by large corporations.
There seemed to be lot of cruelty predicated on it......the gloating, the boasting, the strutting, the excess......If I were an anthropoligist, I would have--uh--a "field day" deconstructing the whole thing (it`s similar to an American Christmas IMO, an apotheosis of consumer/corporate values)but I am not one so I will leave that for someone else.

I am hoping that the Superbowl will not be considered "too big to fail" and that it will come to an end within a few years. Or dwindle away, shrinking and fading into the past. Surely people will have other, better things to do with their time.

But me like beer and circus!

+1e6. ROFLMAO.

I seem to remember John Cleese querying whether an NFL World Series could be so named without other countries participating. I watched an NFL player do a 'touchdown' except he didn't as in rugby. Like it or not it is soccer and cricket that are getting the half billion TV audiences.

Outsiders to the US are always amazed at
1) how the US can go to war so often
2) why Super Bowl is preferred to other codes
3) how you can calculate in yards and bushels.

But how do you have time for TV commercials and associated beer runs without time-outs and advertising breaks every 30 seconds of play time?

Still, football is faster-paced than baseball. Maybe I'm getting more patient -- I used to not be able to sit through either, and now I like both.

India paving the way; 23 kms of black top per day

I suspect this will be the dominant vehicle on the road.

Indian rickshaw

quiz: my eyes aren't so great but I will blame it on my laptop screen. What is going on with the front forks in that pic? Looks to me like an elastomer shock setup, but what is that on the lower forks, a couple of bells?