Drumbeat: February 10, 2010

Gas market goes global - Shale's impact felt around the world

Within the past week, Russia's energy giant OAO Gazprom has announced it is delaying the development of the Shtokman natural gas field, while at the same time trotting through major investment centres saying the company is poised for growth. Is it another sign of the rapidly changing nature of the world's natural gas markets or a fresh instance of Russia looking to flex its muscles using its natural resources?

One of the reasons given for the decision was the shale gas phenomenon in North America that has effectively decimated the need for imports of liquefied natural gas.

But the very fact Russia is making a decision to delay the development of a massive natural gas field as a result of what's happening halfway around the globe potentially speaks volumes that the market for the commodity is moving slowly but surely from being continental to one that is global.

DECC react to peak oil report

The man responsible for planning the country's energy security made a surprise appearance at the launch of a report into peak oil.

'The Oil Crunch: A wake up call for the UK Economy' was launched today (February 10) by leading business figures including Sir Richard Branson.

Following the launch of the report, which claims UK oil will peak in five years leaving the country exposed to rising prices, Chris Barton form the Department for Energy and Climate Change gave the government side.

Peak oil or “oil crunch”: Richard Branson puts the case for UK business

When Richard Branson starts talking about peak oil, it would be only natural to react with suspicion. He has no qualifications in this area, and his principal business depends on burning huge volumes of oil-based fuel.

As my colleague Kate Mackenzie observes, if you believe we are facing an “oil crunch”, should you really be investing a lot of money into space tourism? (The Virgin Galactic space plane is a rocket, not a jet, but it needs to be launched from a aircraft, and the rocket fuel needs to be manufactured.)

Oil Success Could Herald Sea Change for Falklands, Lift UK Firms

With a new drilling campaign about to kick off in the Falkland Islands, a leading lawyer believes a major oil find could bring fresh business opportunities for the UK's oil and gas sector.

Gavin Farquhar said the arrival of the Ocean Guardian drilling rig, due to arrive in the South Atlantic fresh from the Cromarty Firth on Valentine's Day, could herald the beginning of a new love affair between the UK and the Falklands.

US EIA raises 2010 world oil demand growth forecast

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Energy Information Administration on Wednesday said it expected world oil demand to rise 1.2 million barrels per day in 2010 from a year earlier.

2 U.S. firms won't use tar sands oil

WASHINGTON-Canada’s controversial tar sands industry took its first retail blow Wednesday as two Fortune 500 companies announced plans to eliminate the high-carbon Alberta fuel from its supply chain.

The U.S.-based firms Whole Foods Market Inc. and Bed, Bath and Beyond Inc. both unveiled new fuel policies designed to wean themselves off “higher-than-normal greenhouse gas footprints” inherent in feedstock from the Alberta tar sands.

Colombian gas exports to Venezuela collapse in January

Exports of Colombian gas to Venezuela declined to 60 million cubic feet per day (cbpd) in January compared with an average of 179 cbpd last year, the US oil company Chevron reported on Tuesday.

The sharp decline in gas supply could further increase energy problems in the western region of Venezuela. This part of the country has been affected by serious power outages that may last seven hours, due to the energy crisis.

Venezuela to OK first major oil deals under Chavez

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela was to award the largest oil investment of President Hugo Chavez's 11-year rule on Wednesday, drawing tens of billions of dollars of much-needed foreign finance to the Orinoco Belt just three years after the leftist leader nationalized operations there.

Power struggle could portend a cold, dark winter in Gaza Strip

Reporting from Ramallah, West Bank - The Gaza Strip's beleaguered residents face worsening power outages, even as winter temperatures drop, because of a financial dispute between the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority and Gaza's electricity distributor.

Is China stalling over Hummer buy?

BEIJING/NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Chinese machinery maker's acquisition of General Motors Co's loss-making Hummer brand could be stalling as Beijing frets that a failure to turn around the macho gas-guzzler may dent China's image abroad.

Chances for regulatory approval of the deal have dimmed in recent weeks, according to three sources with links to Chinese regulators, GM and the buyer, Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery -- a little-known company with no experience in either making cars or managing a foreign company.

Oil attack halves production at Baghdad refinery

BAGHDAD -- Attackers bombed a frequently targeted oil pipeline north of Baghdad, slowing production at a refinery in the capital by half, Iraq's oil ministry said Wednesday.

'Another fire' at Suncor worries analysts

Suncor Energy Inc. has been on fire lately, but for all the wrong reasons.

Yesterday, the country's largest energy company had another fire at its oil sands operations, its third in five months. Analysts were not impressed, with some now questioning the company's reliability.

India may hike fuel prices on Thursday

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet is likely to discuss tomorrow a Petroleum Ministry proposal for freeing petrol prices from government control and a moderate increase in diesel, cooking gas and kerosene rates, ahead of which Oil Minister Murli Deora held consultations with key allies DMK and Trinamool Congress on the subject.

Job Losses Push Need for Energy Bill

The solution to this jobs vs. savings conundrum is to invest money now, into projects that when completed will help us individually and as a nation to save more.

For instance, an investment now into energy efficient buildings would create desperately needed construction jobs, but pay for itself with increased energy savings.

Out of this world: are we running out of materials?

Next time you go hospital for a scan, spare a thought for the machine itself: the materials on which its function depends, are running out, and very few people seem to know or care. The former chief scientific officer, Professor Sir David King cares. He will tell anyone who asks, that we are about to enter a period of history where resources wars are a distinct possibility. He claims that there are just not enough of certain materials on planet to sustain the growing use of hospital equipment, electronics, and many other new technologies.

Plan B 4.0 by the Numbers – Data Highlights on the Global Food Supply

World agriculture today faces pressure from many sources. On the production side, the amount of unused arable land worldwide has dwindled. Overworked soils are becoming eroded and degraded, and overpumped aquifers are being depleted. Meanwhile, as the global population grows and increasing biofuel production converts grain into fuel for cars, demand for food continues to climb. In Chapters 2 and 9 of Plan B 4.0, Lester Brown discusses these challenges. Here are some highlights from the supporting data:

In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, human populations increased threefold from 1961 to 2007, while livestock populations grew 12-fold. Increasing foraging needs and human food needs have placed excessive demands on soils. The country is losing 867,000 acres of cropland and rangeland to desertification each year.

Climate 'Tipping Points' May Arrive Without Warning, Says Top Forecaster

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new University of California, Davis, study by a top ecological forecaster says it is harder than experts thought to predict when sudden shifts in Earth's natural systems will occur -- a worrisome finding for scientists trying to identify the tipping points that could push climate change into an irreparable global disaster.

"Many scientists are looking for the warning signs that herald sudden changes in natural systems, in hopes of forestalling those changes, or improving our preparations for them," said UC Davis theoretical ecologist Alan Hastings. "Our new study found, unfortunately, that regime shifts with potentially large consequences can happen without warning -- systems can 'tip' precipitously.

"This means that some effects of global climate change on ecosystems can be seen only once the effects are dramatic. By that point returning the system to a desirable state will be difficult, if not impossible."

The Story of Coal’s Dirty, Deadly Legacy

Most of us take it for granted that when we flip the switch, the lights will go on. Sure, we write the electric company a monthly check, but otherwise lend no thought to the source of the power — like urban kids clueless that chicken originates someplace other than the freezer aisle of chain groceries.

But this month, an energetic author from the rugged, coal-laden hills of southern Illinois hopes to relay the message — utterly apropos in a country where coal generates nearly half the electricity — that a consequence of that national dependence is the outright decimation of the communities surrounding the mines.

Post-Carbon Schools: Back from Hell

SUMMARY: Creeping corporate influence on K-12 education promises to corrupt what little soul remains of our disintegrating industrial culture. As an alternative in the coming post-carbon era, I suggest here a curriculum centered on morals, community, and the Land Ethic -- with emphasis on practical skills -- as the foundations of our schools. Long live the sacred!

We’re running into oil rather than running out

Oil pessimists explain that given its finite nature, the world’s growing reliance on oil could soon lead us into a cold, 21st century Dark Age. They are far from the first to believe that they are Cassandra. When Jimmy Carter was in the White House, he warned that the world’s reserves would run dry by the turn of the millennium.

The “peak oil” frenzy of the 1970s has reared its head again. The world’s increasing demand and a fixed, finite supply should have led us to a point of no return by now. So what happened?

The gross demand for oil has remained well below the amount of the world’s oil reserves. In 1971, the demand for oil was at 49.4 billion barrels per year and world reserves were estimated to hold 521 billion barrels, according to the US department of energy. According to the theories of the oil pessimists, this would mean that the world would be out of oil in a little more than a decade. Instead of facing doom in the 1980s as the depletionists predicted, the amount of oil in reserves increased to approximately 700 billion barrels as demand increased. Since 1971, when reserves held 521 billion barrels, the world has consumed 900 billion barrels of oil, and today, reserves are currently at an estimated 1.36 trillion barrels.

Jeremy Leggett: Society ignores the oil crunch at its peril

With modern economies geared to their rivets on just-in-time supply of copious amounts of affordable oil, society surely ignores this risk issue at its massive peril.

But that is what BP, Exxon, Saudi Aramco and many other institutions of the hydrocarbon era would have us do. And theirs is the perceived wisdom. I do not know of a single company, outside the taskforce group, where peak oil is on the agenda as a serious risk issue. As for government, Whitehall's official line is typical, as things stand: there is 40 years of oil supply, no need to worry, and certainly no crisis. To be fair, that view may be in the process of changing, in the light of recent events in the energy markets.

Policies 'must anticipate' oil price rises

A group of business leaders are calling for urgent action to prepare the UK for peak oil, the point at which supply can no longer meet world demands ending cheap oil.

John Miles, global leader for energy resources and industry at Arup and one of the report's authors, analyses the prospect of peak oil.

Peak oil warnings turn up in the strangest places

It’s always intriguing to see how companies come out on the big - and often controversial - questions of energy future.

Readers Respond on "Squeezing More Oil from the Ground"

In “Squeezing More Oil from the Ground,” Leonardo Maugeri, director of strategies and development of an international oil company, expresses the conventional view of his profession, assuming a world of near-infinite oil resources to be produced under market forces. Maugeri is particularly dismissive of our Scientific American article “The End of Cheap Oil” [March 1998]. It is difficult to find fault with at least its title, considering that the average price of oil over the preceding 10 years was $28 a barrel but rose to $45 over the ensuing decade to reach a peak of almost $150 in 2008.

Think further ahead about oil, buyers told

Fossil fuel buyers need to buy further in advance and reduce their dependency on oil-based fuels if they are to cope with an impending oil crunch.

The advice follows mounting fears over “peak oil” – the point at which the world's oil output reaches a maximum, and either plateaus or goes into terminal decline.

North Dakota Production Surprises

One of the canons of the peak oil crowd is that a decline in oil production from the "mature" United States is a given that no amount of exploration and development can arrest.

An examination of recent developments in North Dakota indicates that the application of new technology renders this claim suspect. Oil production in North Dakota had been declining for years, peaking in the mid 1980s at close to 150,000 barrels per day, and then beginning a 20 year decline to approximately 80,000 barrels per day by 2003.

Oil near $74 as weak dollar offsets high supplies

Oil prices rose to near $74 a barrel Wednesday, boosted by a weaker dollar but held back by a report showing unexpected growth in U.S. crude inventories, casting more doubt on the recovery in the world's biggest economy.

OPEC: Global oil demand will be higher than forecast

OPEC expects the world will need more of its crude oil this year than previously forecast, as the organization lowered its outlook for production of natural gas liquids.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, responsible for 40 percent of global supplies, predicted in a monthly report today that consumers worldwide will need 28.75 million barrels a day of OPEC crude in 2010. While that's 150,000 barrels a day more than anticipated in last month's report, the resulting “call on OPEC” in 2009 is unchanged from last year.

New report: Consumers spent modestly in January

NEW YORK — Americans backed off from holiday spending in January, but retail sales rose for a third month in a row compared with a year earlier, largely because of gas price hikes, according to figures released Wednesday by a key data service.

Kuwait Holds Oil Price Discount on Weak Asian Demand

(Bloomberg) -- Kuwait Petroleum Corp. maintained a discount for its official crude oil price to Asia as refiners kept processing rates low amid weak fuel demand.

Iraq Offers Indian Refiners More Crude on Planned Output Gain

(Bloomberg) -- Iraq is offering to supply more crude oil to Indian refiners on long-term contracts as the Middle Eastern country boosts output.

Iraq is offering to increase crude sales to India by as much as 60 percent, said an oil ministry official who was at the meeting between India’s Oil Minister Murli Deora and Iraq’s Industry and Minerals Minister Fawzi Hariri in New Delhi today. Indian Oil Corp., the nation’s second-biggest refiner, currently buys about 11 metric million tons, or about 220,000 barrels a day, of Iraqi crude, Chairman Sarthak Behuria said.

Saudi Arabia keeps March crude supplies steady

TOKYO/LONDON - Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia will supply steady volumes to most customers in March as demand recovers and prices stay in its comfort zone.

Sources at seven of the Asian term buyers said on Wednesday state oil firm Saudi Aramco told them they would continue to receive fully contracted crude volumes for March, something it did for January and February for most of the region.

Commodities Are Poor Inflation and Currency Hedges

Just because the value of paper money is declining doesn't mean the value of a static asset has to increase.

Saudi Arabia, Angola, Iran remain top 3 oil suppliers to China

Saudi Arabia, Angola and Iran remained the three largest oil sources for China in 2009, with the three supplying 47.7 percent of China's total imports, according data released Wednesday by the General Administration of Customs (GAC).

Georgia to Build Black Sea Oil Port to Boost Caspian Flows

(Bloomberg) -- Georgia plans to build another Black Sea port to boost transit fees from cargo shipments such as crude oil from the Caspian Sea region.

The Supsa port will cost “half a billion dollars” and take less than two years to build once the government gives the final okay, said Shalva Tsakadze, head of Black Sea Product Ltd., the developer of the project.

Scrap UK's wind farm plans, says Gazprom boss

Plans to build thousands of wind farms in the UK are irrational and should be scrapped in favour of more gas plants, according to the deputy chairman of the Russian energy firm Gazprom.

Warsaw nears Russia gas deal

Poland's government may finally approve a long-awaited gas deal with Russia later today, Treasury Minister Aleksander Grad said.

Kazakhstan halts oil exports to Slovakia, Hungary

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Kazakhstan has halted Urals crude oil supplies to Slovakia and Hungary via the Druzhba pipeline amid a trade dispute with Ukraine, prompting Russian oil firm LUKOIL to intervene to compensate for the loss, traders said on Tuesday.

'Kurdistan taps back on in days'

Oil exports from Iraq's northern Kurdistan region should resume in the "coming days", Iraq's Oil Minister Hussain Shahristani told reporters today.

Shell takes proposed Philippines seizure to nation's high court

The Philippines won't seize oil imports belonging to Royal Dutch Shell Plc until the nation's high court issues a final ruling, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said.

“Shell brought the case to the Supreme Court,” Ermita told reporters today in Malolos, Bulacan north of Manila. “We will observe status quo.”

Nigeria oil rebels say watching political developments

LAGOS (Reuters) - The main militant group in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta said on Wednesday it was monitoring developments after Vice President Goodluck Jonathan assumed presidential powers, but declined to comment further.

"We are monitoring the unfolding drama and will react at the appropriate time," the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said in an email to Reuters.

Bangladesh to Deploy Floating Unit for LNG Imports

(Bloomberg) -- Bangladesh, which has delayed exploration awards to ConocoPhillips and Tullow Oil Plc after disputes with neighbors, may deploy a floating liquefied natural gas unit this year to plug a shortage of gas, an official said.

Toyota recalls new Prius in latest safety fix

WASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) – The spiraling crisis at Toyota Motor Corp deepened on Tuesday as the automaker said it would recall thousands of Camry sedans as well as nearly half a million new Prius and other hybrid cars to fix steering and braking problems.

U.S. regulators also said they are reviewing dozens of complaints about potential steering problems in newer Toyota Corollas.

High-speed rail: Skipping your town

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Most of the $8 billion in high-speed rail funds that President Obama awarded last month will not be used for high-speed projects, but rather to improvements designed to make existing lines faster.

Only $3.5 billion is being spent on truly high-speed rail, a sum that's not remotely close to what's needed to build a 21st century rail network. The money is going toward two projects -- one in California and the other in Florida -- that have yet to begin construction.

Obama Pushes Sanctions to Block Iran’s Path Toward Nuclear Bomb

(Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama said the U.S. is shifting toward sanctions pressure on Iran to prevent the development of a nuclear weapon, when asked about the Iranian regime’s move to step up uranium enrichment.

Kuwait projects huge deficit in next fiscal year

Spending is expected to reach 56.1 billion dollars, a rise 33.5 percent from the current year's estimates of 42.1 billion dollars.

The draft budget projects an oil income of 29.9 billion dollars for the coming fiscal year, with the oil price forecast raised from 35 dollars a barrel this year to 43 dollars in 2010/2011.

Jeff Rubin: Why Obama has fallen from grace

There are many factors associated with Barack Obama’s plunging popularity. Botched health care reform certainly hasn’t helped. Neither has a near-double-digit national jobless rate, nor a $1.6-trillion budget deficit. But what outrages American voters most is the billions of dollars given to Wall Street investment bankers, who continue to live la dolce vita and flaunt their arrogance in taxpayers’ faces.

As I’ve argued before in this blog and in chapter 7 of my book, it wasn’t too-big-to-fail financial institutions but the interest rate shock from soaring oil prices that deep-sixed the economies of both the US and the rest of the oil-guzzling world. Interest rates didn’t just rise from around one per cent to almost six per cent because no one was minding the store at the Federal Reserve Board. It was soaring oil prices that did all that heavy lifting.

Eastern Syria faces ‘catastrophe’

DAMASCUS // Free market economic reforms have helped create a “catastrophe” in eastern regions of Syria, greatly exacerbating the effects of a devastating drought, according to leading critics of government policy.

Speaking at a weekly meeting of the Syrian economics society, a group of high-profile academics said a decision to end fuel and seed subsidies just as the drought was at its peak had destroyed the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of farmers.

Robert Kenner: Big Food will do everything to stop you talking about this

LS: What do you hope people will take away from the film?

RK: That the system is unsustainable. We've created a world where we're using up our natural resources and, in doing so, robbing our children and our grandchildren. We have to think about growing and producing food in a fairer way.

Agricultural Commodities in Light of Peak Oil

The subject of Peak Oil seems timely this week, as it has been pointed to in a number of news-worthy articles and video interviews. It is imperative to stay informed on this issue. This article hopes to provide some of the latest pertinent information on the subject while tying together how agricultural and oil commodities may relate to Peak Oil.

New Santa Cruz action group tackles affordable housing as larger concern about peak oil

SANTA CRUZ -- Transition Santa Cruz, a new grass-roots group working to reduce the local demand for fossil fuels, has re-energized the decades-old debate about creating more affordable housing.

The group, which has attracted about 500 members, is examining affordability and development in the context of creating self-supporting communities to prepare for "peak oil," or the point at which global demand for oil surpasses the supply. That means also advocating for jobs, more public transit and more locally produced food -- all with a light footprint on the environment.

Solutions for a Post Carbon World

With the avalanche of opinions on the challenging issues that face Montanans and the world today, it’s hard to know where to get reliable information. We know the conundrums of climate, energy, resource depletion, and the economy are complex and interrelated, but it can be difficult to grasp exactly how they fit together. And just what are we going to do to slow these run-away trains?

I recently got some clarity on this subject when I attended a gathering for the Fellows of the Post Carbon Institute. The Fellows are a think-tank focused on today’s interconnected sustainability crises —a one-stop shop for cutting edge thinking on the transition to a post-carbon world.

Chinese farms cause more pollution than factories, says official survey

Farmers' fields are a bigger source of water contamination in China than factory effluent, the Chinese government revealed today in its first census on pollution.

Senior officials said the disclosure, after a two-year study involving 570,000 people, would require a partial realignment of environmental policy from smoke stacks to chicken coops, cow sheds and fruit orchards.

For L3C companies, profit isn't the point

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- When organic dairy farmer Vaughn Chase received a letter informing him that processor H. P. Hood would no longer be taking his milk, he feared he'd be forced out of business.

Three years earlier, he had invested $25,000 in converting his 600-acre family farm to meet the U.S. Department of Agriculture's organic certification standards. But now he couldn't find another organic processor willing to take the milk from his remote farm in Maine. With the price of non-organic milk plummeting below production costs, returning to conventional farming wasn't an option either.

Japan’s Solar Panel Sales Rise to Record on Subsidy

(Bloomberg) -- Japan’s solar-panel sales by capacity rose to a record in 2009 led by domestic demand after the government offered incentives to switch to renewable power.

Sales increased 21 percent to 1,387.03 megawatts last year, the Japan Photovoltaic Energy Association said today. The figure is the highest since 1981, when the group started releasing data. Domestic sales more than doubled to 483.96 megawatts, while exports fell 2.4 percent to 903.07 megawatts.

Ecuador May Develop $6 Billion Dam Project After Shortages

(Bloomberg) -- Ecuador may develop a $6 billion hydroelectric project to create energy supplies for new mines and avert power shortages similar to the ones the South American country experienced in 2009.

U.S. Officials Plan $78.5 Million Effort to Keep Dangerous Carp Out of Great Lakes

CHICAGO — Federal authorities on Monday presented a $78.5 million plan intended to block Asian carp, a hungry, huge, nonnative fish, from invading the Great Lakes.

The Rise of ‘Green’ Modular Homes

Kevin Clayton, the chief executive of Clayton Homes, a modular home manufacturer based in Maryville, Tenn., predicted last year that his company’s “i-house” — a solar modular home — would command 10 percent of its profits.

That prediction hasn’t quite panned out, but the manager of Clayton’s i-house division, Brandon O’Connor, says it is raising production of the energy-efficient model — even as other builders are cutting projects in the down economy.

When Coal Flows Between Countries, Who ‘Owns’ the CO2?

Once emitted, carbon dioxide is a “globally well mixed gas” that knows no borders. Every year, commerce becomes increasingly “globally well mixed” as well. So if the world moves toward a system for tracking emissions, who is responsible for a particular batch of carbon dioxide — the company that mined and sold the coal, the power plant that burned it, the consumer who buys the exported widget made with the electricity generated by that combustion, or…?

Another Snowstorm: What Happened to Global Warming?

As the meteorologist Jeff Masters points out in his excellent blog at Weather Underground, the two major storms that hit Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., this winter — in December and during the first weekend of February — are already among the 10 heaviest snowfalls those cities have ever recorded. The chance of that happening in the same winter is incredibly unlikely.

But there have been hints that it was coming. The 2009 U.S. Climate Impacts Report found that large-scale cold-weather storm systems have gradually tracked to the north in the U.S. over the past 50 years. While the frequency of storms in the middle latitudes has decreased as the climate has warmed, the intensity of those storms has increased. That's in part because of global warming — hotter air can hold more moisture, so when a storm gathers it can unleash massive amounts of snow. Colder air, by contrast, is drier; if we were in a truly vicious cold snap, like the one that occurred over much of the East Coast during parts of January, we would be unlikely to see heavy snowfall.

For those looking forward to the EIA’s Weekly Petroleum Status Report which was due out today, it won’t be there. Washington was closed down for two days due to the snowstorm. So everything due out today will come out Friday. From an EIA email, no link, sorry.

The Weekly Petroleum Status Report for the week ending February 5, 2010, scheduled to be published at 10:30 A.M. on Wednesday, February 10, 2010, is now scheduled to be published at 11:00 A.M. (Eastern Time) on Friday, February 12, 2010.

This Week in Petroleum, scheduled to be published by 1:00 P.M. on Wednesday, February 10, 2010, is now scheduled to be published by 5:00 P.M. (Eastern Time) on Friday, February 12, 2010.

Note: The EIA sent out the above notice yesterday. However the Washington snow storm still rages so there may even be further delays in the release of all EIA reports due out this week.

Ron P.

According to the BP statistical review published in June of 2009, worldwide oil consumption fell -.6% in 2008. Global natural gas consumption grew 2.5%. Total coal consumption increased 3.1%. Nuclear power consumption decreased -.7%. Hydroelectric power consumption grew 2.8%.

OPEC’s Monthly Oil Market Report is out this morning. (Large PDF file.) January OPEC production numbers are on page 37.

Numbers worth mentioning: Iraqi production was down 85,200 bp/d in January. Obviously all those new production contracts have not kicked in yet. ;-) Total OPEC production was up 63,200 bp/d but if you remove Iraq from the mix because they are not subject to quotas, then OPEC production was up 148,000 bp/d. This is even more significant if you take into account that the December OPEC production numbers were revised up by 52,000 bp/d.

Five OPEC members, including Iraq of course, are totally ignoring their OPEC quota numbers. The other four are Angola, Ecuador, Nigeria and Venezuela. Nigeria took a huge hit in January. They were down 124,100 bp/d, due to their continuing problems with the rebels.

Venezuela crude production was up 105,200 bp/d. They need every barrel they can possibly produce due to the economic crisis down there. They are up by 29,000 bp/d since OPEC production peaked in July of 2008. The largest violator however is Angola. Their production was up 132,500 bp/d in January and that is a new all time high for them. They produced 83,000 bp/d more than they did during OPEC’s peak month of July 2008.

Ron P.

Welcome back, Leanan.

What's life like in DC under a blanket of wet snow?

In Ottawa, Ontario, we are in the midst of a snow drought. Our fleet of snow removal vehicles is idle. Meanwhile in Vancouver, helicopters and dump trucks are ferrying snow to one of the Olympic sites, while Vancouver is experiencing an extra warm winter. Why not? To waste is to live well.

May come to the DC-Baltimore region and take away all the snow you can carry. It is the snowiest winter on record for DC and Baltimore. The records go back to the 1870's. There is more snow forecast for Monday.


When Coal Flows Between Countries, Who ‘Owns’ the CO2?

In my opinion fossil fuel exporting countries who claim to take AGW seriously should impose carbon taxes. Otherwise they are sleeping with the enemy by giving other countries an advantage they won't get themselves. In theory Australia is supposed to start a cap and trade scheme starting July 1st. In order to break a legislative deadlock the Labor and Greens parties may agree to start the scheme as a carbon tax of $20 per tonne of CO2.

If this goes ahead it means that a tonne of thermal coal will effectively cost $48 extra or 2.4 X $20. That's for domestic users only. The FOB spot price ex Newcastle for export thermal coal is around $90 so if adding a carbon tax would increase the price ~50%. On export LNG the carbon tax would be around $27 on top of $400 a tonne recent prices or a carbon penalty of about 7%.

Since a revenue neutral carbon tax gets handed back to customers it should be paid into some kind of sovereign green fund of the importing country. It could go to corrupt officials by mistake but the coal importing company must pay 50% more at the point of export. The idea is that coal looks less attractive than low carbon alternatives. The new coal export contract with China would cost them 30m tonnes a year at $48 or $1.4bn.

Of course the Chinese might then seek untaxed coal from other suppliers like Indonesia but I think that will run into logistic problems. Clearly the Chinese have no intention of cutting carbon voluntarily. The upfront expense and inconvenience may hasten a switch away from coal.

What about the other possibility Boof? The Aussies impose the higher cost you envision and the Chinese still buy and burn the same amount of coal and the Aussies reap even greater rewards for adding to CO2 production. If the goal is to limit Chinses coal export the solution seems simple: don't sell it to them.

There will be some price elasticity of demand for coal in China. Higher Aussie coal prices should result in:

1) A speeding up of the conversion from inefficient to efficient coal burning power plants in China.

2) More efficient use of electricity in China (and perhaps greater use of LNG)

3) More renewables (although the growth rate is pretty high ATM, higher coal prices will prevent the steam from going out on this drive)

4) New nukes seem to be maxed out ATM, Not sure higher coal prices will affect this.

Best Hopes for higher coal prices,


As for the US, yesterday's Drumbeat had an article about oil production taxes, with some obvious pros and cons. Why wouldn't the US start with import taxes before production taxes?

Taxes at the point of sale make perfectly good sense to limit usage overall, but taxes on imports would help wean us off imports before they go away anyway.

Why wouldn't the US start with import taxes before production taxes?

Taxes at the point of sale make perfectly good sense to limit usage overall, but taxes on imports would help wean us off imports before they go away anyway.

The Nixon administration actually tried to do this in the early 1970s, in a move one economist described as "the most mindless trade restriction ever imposed" or words to that effect. It assumed that the US could wean Americans off imported oil without bringing the whole economy to a screeching halt, which turned out not to be the case. In the 1973 oil crisis the lineups at gas stations were epic in size and gas prices skyrocketed. The Arab exporters cutting supplies was the primary cause, but the fact that the "friendly" exporters were annoyed at the US certainly didn't encourage them to channel oil to the US. Everybody else got priority.

The fatal flaw in the idea is the assumption that the US has some kind of short term alternative to importing oil. It doesn't. The US currently imports nearly 2/3 of its oil and can't make up the difference itself. If it tries to tax oil imports, the oil exporting countries have ways to flow the tax right through directly to the American consumer. Americans are used to paying lower prices for fuel than countries, rather than higher prices, and they would make their displeasure felt at the poles.

Of course that was during an obvious shortage...the better time would be during a temporary glut...like now.

But the question is rhetorical, as any such taxes appear to be unnecessary while oil is abundant, and when it's not, they're unacceptable.

"...they would make their displeasure felt at the poles."

It would be felt not just at the poles, but at all points from pole to pole... ;D

Jeff Rubin: Why Obama has fallen from grace

But what outrages American voters most is the billions of dollars given to Wall Street investment bankers, who continue to live la dolce vita and flaunt their arrogance in taxpayers’ faces.

I'd agree with this. Obama by appointing people associated with the economic fiasco that unfolded under Bush watch now owns the fiasco. Giving billions to wall st and then unable to even control the bonuses meant everyone thinks of Obama as part of the wall st problems. I'd be very surprised if Giethner doesn't go after the November bloodbath (and before if Obama sees the writing on the wall).

I was outraged before he was even elected. That's why I didn't vote for him.

You were outraged that he supported bank bailout ?

Yup. I went on about it quite a bit here at the time.

Yup, I was outraged by the Bush Bank Bailout as well. That is why I did not vote for that airhead McCain. Oh wait, the airhead was his running mate, McCain was the dummy who thought the Sunni Al Qaeda were being trained in profoundly Shia Iran.

Ron P.

I didn't vote for McCain, either.

I know, the choice was, as it always is, a choice between the greater and lesser evil. The choice is never between good and evil, so we just have to do the best we can. That is why I voted for Obama.

Anyway, I knew it was a lost cause even before the election, no matter who got elected. Obama, along with the Bush bailouts, have only prolonged the agony. The events that will lead to the ultimate collapse were already in place by the middle of the last century.

The only thing left to do now is try to save our own butts and enjoy a light moment from time to time. Like here:

Stewart Takes On Palin's Hand-Scribbled Buzzwords (VIDEO)

If we cannot enjoy a laugh once in awhile, at the expense of the person who was almost a heartbeat from the presidence, then we may as well give up entirely. I wonder if it would get any worse if she were elected in 2012. When it is as bad as it can get, can it get any worse?

Ron P.

I'm starting to side with those who say, "Don't vote, it only encourages them."

I really don't think there is a choice any more. In the end, even "independent" candidates like Ross Perot are bought and paid for by our corporate overlords. And now they don't even have to pretend otherwise.

If you couple this development with the recent Chinese investments in our multi-national corporations (small, but growing), it makes you wonder exactly who will be influencing future elections, and for what purpose.

An amendment to strip corporations of any semblance of personhood and any right to lobby or donate would be a nice idea.

Wait, impose a tax on oil imports and ban corporate personhood by constitutional amendment? paleocon, this dirty effing hippie is in complete agreement with you so far.

A traditional conservative was for individual and states rights, not corporate rights! And trade tariffs are one of the few, unarguable, responsibilities of the Federal gov't.

Better a paleocon than a palincon. My dad was a paleocon and he thought Reagan was a nut. My dad died before the country went truly insane.

Traditional conservatives were for individual rights for people like them - not for people of difference race / color / language etc etc. It was all about conserving the advantages of people who were in a good position already.

Anyway this whole linear left-right is quite naive. Atleast we should use a two dimensional chart like this from politicalcompass.org

This former longhair is in complete agreement-if we had a CONSERVATIVE GOVT in the true traditional sense of the word,there would be no corporate immortality, and no privately owned federal reserve system to run us into bankruptcy.

The states would not be locked into a single mold by federal revenue sharing and regulatory stupidity but would have gone thier own ways in solving problems, giving us fifty times as many chances to turn up good solutions that could be copied.

This said, I do recognize that certain jobs must be a federal responsibility, and that certain problems have been effectively solved by federal initiatives, most particularly civil rights problems.

But if there is any one thing that turns us into a muscle bound bully incapable of changing course when we are on a path leading us to destruction, it is too much govt-and like a person with a drinking problem , the feel good short term solution is more of the same stuff that is creating the sickness in the first place.

I expect there are some people here who know how the mess that has grown into our current health care financing system got it's start-and why it has grown into the cancer it is.Hint:It has to do with manipulating and gaming the income tax system.

Pressure brought by various professional groups such as lawyers, teachers, accountants, etc, which are supposedly REGULATED by the govt or SELF POLICED, result in a straight jacketed society unable to change.

I have a good friend who has collected close to two million bucks in salary and benefits supposedly helping the poor in Richmond Va solve thier housing problems.He has never sawed a board, or driven a nail in his life, but he will probably collect another quarter million plus or so in retirement benefits if he lives to a ripe old age.

Not a single stinking fxxxxxg nail!

Personally I don't know of a carpenter as such who has done so well by a long shot, although I do know some carpenters who started construction companies and have done better.

although I do know some carpenters who started construction companies and have done better.

You see, Mac, when they started construction companies they began to exploit the labor of others, which is what capitalist society is all about. The owners liked it better when the could own their workers outright, but today is fine with them... it is defacto ownership. Soon the banks will be able to foreclose the homes of most Americans... then we will all live in company towns, company houses and beg for company jobs at poverty wages, as our greater productivity becomes their greater wealth.

Until, of course, we have another uprising, and for a while there will be a glimmering of a middle class. Of course, the Federal Reserve will take steps to stop that as soon as they possibly can, under the theory that they are protecting "the American way."

Now, there is going to be a real kicker when the oil that all of this depends upon begins to dry up. It won't help the workers much. Most of them are doomed anyhow. In the meantime, though, there is still a buck to be made...

I want some of that nugat!


Slide [21] Many people expend a lot of energy protesting against their irresponsible, unresponsive government. It seems like a terrible waste of time, considering how ineffectual their protests are. Is it enough of a consolation for them to be able to read about their efforts in the foreign press? I think that they would feel better if they tuned out the politicians, the way the politicians tune them out. It's as easy as turning off the television set. If they try it, they will probably observe that nothing about their lives has changed, nothing at all, except maybe their mood has improved. They might also find that they have more time and energy to devote to more important things.



(p.s. I should probably take the same advice re: agw/cc)

Welcome back Leanan!

I agree. I can never vote for a democrat or republican again. They never do what they promise.

I would vote for a credible third party candidate as a protest, but they can never get on the ballot here in Indiana.

I can never vote for a democrat or republican again. They never do what they promise.

Well, perhaps it is because there are those Wormtoungues that stay, no matter who gets elected to office? They end up being the unseen advisors on policy, it seems.

I think that is what seems to keep BAU rolling along in all govt's.

You can't win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket!

Reminds me of that Dilbert cartoon, where Dogbert is selling discount lottery tickets that turn out to be expired. Dilbert complains, but Dogbert points out the chances of winning are about the same either way.

Sad commentary, Leanan. The lottery is "Plan A" for most people's retirement today. There is no "Plan B."

Of course, if there was a Plan B, funding would be in danger from the passing of Peak Oil.

I have been using, "Strange species, homo sapiens. Wonder of they'll be missed." for a while. I think I will change to,
"Hope springs eternal. But eternity is such a long time." Cna't figure out of that is doomer or optimist. It shows my state of confusion.



Or as Dmitry Orlov says in reviewing Heinberg's lastest article (in which he decides national leaders are irrelevant http://www.postcarbon.org/article/67429-china-or-the-u-s-which-will)

In the past Richard has done his best to nudge governments in the right direction, especially with regard to adjusting to fossil fuel depletion, whereas I have always felt that they can go and nudge themselves. You see, from my point of view, only a fool would want to go a-nudging the Central Committee of the Politburo toward adopting better policies. Here, perhaps once there was hope; and now it's gone. Unfortunately, many people continue to believe in the miraculous properties of national politics and policy. However, Richard is no longer one of them, and this makes me a bit more hopeful for the rest of us.

Great quote but not at the link you gave. Try this one:

Collapse Gap Revisited which also includes this among other goot points:

Since collapse is unavoidable, the obvious fall-back strategy would be to invest in local resiliency and self-sufficiency. Since neither government appears the least bit interested in such matters, it is time for us to recognize them for what they are to us: utterly irrelevant. Paying attention to national politics can only distract us from doing whatever we can as individuals and local communities.

Ron P.

I once visited the Ross Perot founded EDS in Plano. Noticed some strangely sloped grass banks in the grounds and asked about them. Was told that Ross Perot was so paranoid he was afraid the tanks would roll up even in Dallas thus the tank traps. I don't think the EDS employees were joking!

However my favourite thing about EDS was the "Special" entrance for the large number of employees who could not physically fit through the security entrance.

And then there was the roundabout. I hadn't noticed anything odd until one of my US colleagues pointed out I was going round it the wrong way. I thought you didn't have any in the US but EDS had/have? one and apparently I should have been going anti-clockwise.

We do indeed have roundabouts in the US. We also have traffic circles/rotaries, which aren't the same thing but are often confused. Roundabouts are increasingly used here, having been introduced from Europe relatively recently. They are replacing traffic circles, as well as conventional intersections.

Our roundabouts do go widdershins, and if you think about it, you'll realize why. We drive on the wrong side of the road. ;-) When we pull into a roundabout, we're keeping right, not left. That means we have to go counter-clockwise.

Just as a side note, Sweden changed from left- to right hand driving in 1967

There were two major arguments for the change:
* All Sweden's immediate neighbours drove on the right (including Norway, with which Sweden has a long land border).
* Most Swedes drove left-hand drive (LHD) vehicles. This led to many head-on collisions when passing on two-lane highways, which are common in Sweden because of its low population density and traffic levels.

Quite a task : As Dagen H neared, every intersection was equipped with an extra set of poles and traffic signals wrapped in black plastic. Workers roamed the streets early in the morning on Dagen H to remove the plastic. Similarly, a parallel set of lines were painted onto the roads with white paint, then covered with black tape. Before Dagen H, Swedish roads had used yellow lines.

Ha-ha beautiful : Swedish television held a contest for songs about the change; the winning entry was Håll dig till höger, Svensson('Keep to the right, Svensson') by Rock-Boris

.... and the others are in blue

Suddenly having to drive on the right confused the horses if I remember correctly.

I really don't think there is a choice any more. In the end, even "independent" candidates like Ross Perot are bought and paid for by our corporate overlords. And now they don't even have to pretend otherwise.

That's exactly it Leanan. This country started with a dream of govt. by 'We The People', but its ended up being the good ol fat cat club for the corporate super wealthy, and you're right, they don't even try to make it seem like anything else now. Once there finished helping the corp's as politicians, they work for them as lobbyists. Obama was supposedly voted in to rid DC of lobbying, and that's how he got my vote. What happened to that idea? Wouldn't that beat all if Obama went from Prez to lobbyist?! That would be the final nail in the cynical coffin.

I liked Colbert's take better:


Oh, the wonders of satire. It is almost as good as metaphor for getting out of a tight spot when you get caught.

When it is as bad as it can get, can it get any worse?

Hey, Ron! Yes! Absolutely. Think Ron Reagan after Jimmy Carter. Warren Harding after Woodrow Wilson (though, many would say Wilson was a good President, I would argue he was not). Would that we had listened to and voted for Carter in 1980!

I think the whole Palin thing is a media hype. My fear is that they may hype her into the White House... unbelievable!


If This Goes On

The story is set in a future theocratic American society, ruled by the latest in a series of “Prophets.” The First Prophet was Nehemiah Scudder, a backwoods preacher turned President (elected in 2012), then dictator (no elections were held in 2016 or later).

Ha! That's great, WT. Even better: Palin becomes our first female Pres, and then our first Queen, by devine right. I could go on but I know too many people that would love this, and I haven't had dinner yet.

Some of us have had dinner -- Thanks for stopping there.

In this I am with you, Leanan and Darwinian.

The democrats/ liberals on the left seem determined to destroy the country by putting every body in the country on the govt payroll/dole and the republicans/conservatives on the right seem to be determined to destroy it by grossly lopsided tax and regulatory policies designed to turn the rest of us into wage slaves at best, handing what is left of our property and dignity over to our corporate masters.

And recently the democrats have just as shamelessly embraced the plutocrats as the 'publicans ever did.

If I could draw, I would draw cartoons of plutocrats with tea cup sized elephants and donkeys peeking out of thier vest pockets, one each per plutocrat.

I will say THIS MUCH (but no more) in defense of the tea party types:

They are at least off of thier butts and doing SOMETHING to change things, even if it is wrong.

Where were the Tea Party types when the Cheney and Bush "deficits don't matter" were in power for 8 years and $5.6 trillion added to the Federal debt? They were standing lock step next to Cheney. A wolf in sheep's clothing is what they are.

The inciting event was the promise of new taxes and revamping healthcare in such a way as to disrupt those who were happy with what they already had.

Debt is pernicious but largely invisible, until it isn't. Obama gets to be caught holding that bag.


Please could you repost your recipe for corn-pone? I want to try it tonite or tomorrow
I remember
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup flour + 1 Tblspoon baking powder + 1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup cornmeal

bake in moderate oven in buttered cast iron frypan

No butter? No eggs? This is what I can't remember....


Google "cornpone recipes" if OldFarmerMac doesn't get back to you. What you remember should work, with the addition of 3 or 4 tablespoons of oil. Some recipes use eggs, but not all. But make your own adjustments, don't blame me.

I didn't vote for Obama or McCain either. It was obvious the direction Obama was heading, and his appointments confirmed his BAU policies.
McCain would have been a fast track over a cliff, which in hindsight, may have been the best strategy.

I supported the bailout and still think is was the right thing to do.
However, favored bank nationalization and still do. In hindsight, it may have been better if the world economy simply collapsed down to zero and been reconstructed on sound principles but that's clearly delusional--TPTB, at least the reality-based ones weren't about to switch off the car speeding along at 80 mphs on the expressway.
I also suggested terminating financial terrorists.

Had it gone to zero, perhaps the public would have felt ready for real change but the teabaggers have proven that
people can't take too much reality.

The thing is, it was presented as either do this, or we have complete systemic collapse. That was a false dichotomy, in fact we had several options. In particular, we could have done things in such a way that government bailout money = government takeover = management out the door = "too big to fail" broken up and restructured into multiple units not too big to fail. That really is what should have been done, and would have been if the national and public interest was first and foremost in mind instead of saving the lucrative jobs of Wall Street cronys.

You can't expect people to think outside the box who live in a very, very nice box. Obama is blind to that reality. Harvard clearly rubbed off on him. People's mistake was thinking he was not part of the establishment that has always ruled America. But now their iron grip is even firmer. We are getting a populist backlash. Unfortunately, those at the forefront of the backlash don't really understand who is pulling the strings. The left is comatose.

The elites are all terrified about a "populist" backlash - all pitchforks and torches, with Palin in the lead. What they don't understand is that most people are fine with elites being in charge - IF the elites are actually operating with the national and public interest first and foremost in mind. Were the elites to operate this way, they would have nothing to worry about, and the rest of us could get back to just living our lives quietly and peacefully.

The problem is that the elites are in it only for themselves and each other. They have made this quite obvious, the bailouts were a real eye opener for a lot of people. Is it any wonder that such a "public be damned" attitude has elicited an angry response from the public?

I think a lot of us preferred the "Swedish option" (or variations of it).


We actually got down to doing a bit of it later on.

I don't think not doing anything was a real option - nothing good comes from collapse - or atleast the chances are low. A collapse is followed most probably by tyranny rather than utopia.

Agreed. The Swedish option would have been okay by me.

Obama by appointing people associated with the economic fiasco that unfolded under Bush watch now owns the fiasco. Giving billions to wall st and then unable to even control the bonuses meant everyone thinks of Obama as part of the wall st problems.

And yet a huge segment of the populous calls this "socialism."

It's enough to send me to the liquor cabinet.

This reminds me why I spent most of the 80s drunk.

Giving billions to wall st and then unable to even control the bonuses meant everyone thinks of Obama as part of the wall st problems.

It's even worse, because he knows Wall street will hit a wall.

When Jimmy Carter was in the White House, he warned that the world’s reserves would run dry by the turn of the millennium.

did jimmy carter say that ?

i think, more likely, "the national" is miss-interpreting what jimmy carter and the "pessimists" said or didnt say.

According to the theories of the oil pessimists, this would mean that the world would be out of oil in a little more than a decade.

Jimmy Carter delivered this televised speech on April 18, 1977.


The oil and natural gas we rely on for 75 percent of our energy are running out. In spite of increased effort, domestic production has been dropping steadily at about six percent a year. Imports have doubled in the last five years. Our nation's independence of economic and political action is becoming increasingly constrained. Unless profound changes are made to lower oil consumption, we now believe that early in the 1980s the world will be demanding more oil that it can produce.

The world now uses about 60 million barrels of oil a day and demand increases each year about 5 percent. This means that just to stay even we need the production of a new Texas every year, an Alaskan North Slope every nine months, or a new Saudi Arabia every three years. Obviously, this cannot continue.

"Profound changes" came in the form of the early 80s recession, followed by more production from known oil sources (AK and North Sea) coming fully online.

Poor Jimmy Carter. He made that prediction, and then the supergiant Alaska North Slope, North Sea, and Mexican Cantarell fields went on production and completely screwed up his doom and gloom message.

The key point, though, is that those were the last three supergiant oil discoveries ever made - we haven't found any supergiant fields since. They postponed the problem but didn't eliminate them. When Carter made his prediction all those supergiants had already been found, they just hadn't been exploited yet.

We haven't found any more since then, and the existing supergiants are all depleting, so things are not looking as good as they were a decade ago.

.. Which is why sainthood comes with a crown of thorns.

God bless Jimmy Carter! It didn't actually stop him, either, did it? He just picked up and kept moving in other useful and honest directions.

Like the old saying goes, 'It's not that you fell down, it's whether you got back up again.'

Better to be before your time than behind it. Now, we have leaders who care not for the future, at least the one beyond the next election.

Link up top: We’re running into oil rather than running out

The gross demand for oil has remained well below the amount of the world’s oil reserves. In 1971, the demand for oil was at 49.4 billion barrels per year and world reserves were estimated to hold 521 billion barrels, according to the US department of energy.

According to the theories of the oil pessimists, this would mean that the world would be out of oil in a little more than a decade. Instead

Where did this guy come up with those figures? According to the EIA world demand per year in 1971 was 18 billion barrels, total liquids. And production that year, they say, was 18.9 billion barrels, all liquids. If you multiply demand by over 2.5 then things would indeed look bad. Anyway, this guy is an idiot. We all know that we were still finding a lot of oil in 1971, though we were past paek discovery. And we did run into a lot of oil in the 1980s when OPEC doubled their estimated reserves... with a pencil.

In case anyone is wondering, world oil demand is currently running at about 31 billion barrels per year. If thi guy is correct then demand has dropped dramatically since 1971.

Ron P.

I suspect he means 49.4 million barrels per day; 49.4*365 = 18,031.

I think he is totally confused because he uses those numbers to come to his conclusion: " this would mean that the world would be out of oil in a little more than a decade." 521 divided by 49.5 equals 10.53 or a little more than a decade.

Ron P.

So we had 25 years of run-room then, and 30 now? Gee, we can all go back to sleep, then.

The author insinuates that the more oil you burn, the more you will have. Great stuff, this oil! As WT might say, "Party on, dudes!"

I think we have another journalist who does not know the difference between million barrels per day and billion barrels per year. What's a factor of 370% between friends ? :)

Hey, Ralph!

This is a typical problem with economists, businessmen and politicians. They both end with ...illion, so who's to judge them? So does Trillion, and now we see a lot of evidence that they think b, tr and m are all the same if they are followed by "illion."

Watch out for Quadr...



It is ironic that this article comes from Dubai, which is well past its peak. Production from the new field is estimated at only 10,000 barrels per day
I doubt that would pay the mortgage on the enormous skyscraper.

I doubt that would pay the mortgage on the enormous skyscraper.

Maybe it is just intended to pay the a/c charges for the big skyscraper.

Like their yachts, a skyscraper is a big hole in the air into which they must pump money.



What AC charges? It's been closed.

North Dakota Production Surprises

that part of the story is true. beyond the headlines, not so much.

fox claims (maybe implicitly) that nd production is increasing despite a drop in rig count to 35.

1) the rig count averaged 53 for 2009
2) exited 2009 with 75 rigs
3) stands at 91 today

parshall field peaked in oct-09 at 50,000 bpd (my interpretation).

from nov-08 to feb-09 nd oil production declined from 216,000 bpd to 192,000 bpd, an annualized decline of 38 %.

in late 2008, the oil price in nd dipped into the low $20's. because of the low oil price and cold weather, frac'ing operations were all but shut down. so the 38 % decline represents the underlying decline with very few new wells being brought into production. bexp, the company almost daily in the news with their multi thousand bpd headlines, stopped drilling one well until they could raise more capital with a public offering.

in 2009, a backlog of wells to be frac'ed resulted in an increase in the number of well completed -vs- 2008.

and imo, the "new" technology largely amounts to an unprecedented increase in oil price.

The underlying point is that Mr. Fox did not bother to look where the oil was/is being produced.

The Bottom Line
While it is true that oil is more difficult to extract from unconventional plays than natural gas, clearly the industry has figured out how to do it in the Bakken, and this technology can be applied to other areas of the U.S. that were once written off as mature.

Its not like Bakken had been producing millions of barrels per month and had gradually diminished down to some small amount to be "revived" by some new technology. If he looked basin by basin, he would probably see something different AND it hardly does anything to blunt the millions of barrels per day of oil that is imported.

Fox is an investment analyst and not even a very good one. Who needs to listen to him about geological realities?

Well, it's really great that North Dakota is doing so well, but what about the Big Picture? Let's look at the biggest oil producing states (EIA data).

Texas: in 1981 it produced 2.6 million barrels per day, but by 2008 it had declined to 1.1 mbpd.

Alaska: in 1981 it produced 1.6 mpbd, but in 1988 it peaked at 2.0 mpbd, and in 2008 was down to 0.7 mbpd.

California: in 1981 it produced 1.0 mpbd, but by 2008 it had declined to 0.6 mbpd.

North Dakota: In 1981 it produced 0.1 mpbd. Today it produces about 0.2 mbd.

Sure, the Bakken Shale is a nice big oil prospect - for North Dakota - but it's nothing compared to the supergiant East Texas, West Texas, and Alaska North Slope fields, which are in terminal decline. It's not going to save the US consumer from declining oil production.

As I noted yesterday, the advantage of only focusing on regions and countries with rising production is that it produces a much more optimistic production outlook.

Alaska North Slope/US Imports from Mexico/ND:

There has been some improvement in net OPEC exports (per Oil Movements) from low levels in the last few weeks, probably related to the pickup in OPEC output mentioned above (from a survey).

However net imports (per the EIA) into the US over the past few months have been disappointing, and it's unlikely that we will see imports pick up to meet any increase in US demand. If so, we are likely to see surplus oil inventories steadily depleted.

Granted many here do not see US demand picking up at all, and a few of you have even stated that OM report is wrong - and by implication, the EIA import report is wrong - and that the import situation is better than the figures state. If someone has alternative figures on oil imports and exports, well let's see them and discuss.

Meanwhile I will go with what I can find, and it doesn't look like the Saudis plan on bailing out the 2010 in US, should the need arise.

Sorry this might require registration or subscription:

Saudi Arabia exports lower crude volumes to US markets

By Margaret McQuaile

February 10 - Late 2009, Saudi Arabia gave up its oil storage lease at the St Eustatius terminal in the Caribbean to Petrochina. The transfer of a lease held by the Saudis since the mid-1990s looked like the latest indication of a diminishing commitment to the US market.

Saudi Aramco's Caribbean storage has been an important background feature of the Western Hemisphere oil market over the years, enabling the Saudis to move barrels quickly into key areas when needed. Now, the kingdom is seeking storage in Asia and has been talking for some time to the Japanese, who are offering facilities on the island of Okinawa and who have already signed a basic agreement on a joint strategic stockpiling project with Abu Dhabi that would prioritize the supply of crude to Japan in an emergency.


It's behind a paywall.

I've previously posted these articles on the subject:

Saudis quit Caribbean oil storage

ANALYSIS - China eyes Caribbean fuel oil market now, crude later

World Energy Sources (Wiki)

Source Percent
Oil 37.3%
Coal 25.3%
Gas 23.3%
Nuclear 5.7%
Biomass 3.8%
Hydroelectric 3.2%
Solar heat 0.5%
Wind 0.3%
Geothermal 0.2%
Biofuels 0.2%
Solar PV 0.04%

The annual increase in coal consumption is greater than all the global wind, geothermal, biofuels, and solar PV installed capacity combined.

Hydroelectric and biomass (firewood) have the greatest potential as renewable sources.

Solar heat (roof top water heat collectors) outperformed other green energy sources.

The world runs on oil. Peak oil is a suject of great importance.


I skimmed the article and missed the part were the author explained why world oil production has been stuck on a plateau since 2005….

We're running into oil...
The gross demand for oil has remained well below the amount of the world’s oil reserves. In 1971, the demand for oil was at 49.4 billion barrels per year and world reserves were estimated to hold 521 billion barrels, according to the US department of energy.

As the petroleum geologist Peter R Odell put it, “if anything, the world is running into oil”. Just look at last week’s discovery of oil in Dubai. Estimating that only 1.5 per cent of the Earth’s total physical resource base has been used since 1860...

The same way oil replaced its predecessors 150 years ago, human ingenuity will find its substitute. This will not be motivated by the arguments of the depletionists, environmentalists, or politicians, but by the search for efficiency through the market.

Lets round the 49.9 billion barrels of oil consumption to 50, that gives a daily consumption of 137 mbpd (I've rounded it up again, hope that doesn't distort the numbers too much). Have I got my numbers wrong!?

Clearly the world oil production peaked in 1971 and I can confirm its all down hill from here and the world will never produce 137 mbpd again.

.... But if we've only used 1.5% of the physical resource base, the Earth clearly has a nougat centre....

Should I mention Jevon's paradox in relation to efficiency??

Should I mention Jevon's paradox in relation to efficiency??

Deja vu! Didn't you just do that?

I like the idea of a nougat centre. I will sleep well tonight thinking of that. I think we should drill for it! Milky Ways for everyone!!!!! At last, a happy thought!!!!!!



I've been interested in locating the exact prediction made by David White in 1919. The only clue I could find is this footnote citation from an article titled "Motor Fuel from Vegetation" by T. A. Boyd. The author cites White's prediction and presents charts that show that car production will vastly outstrip oil production, thus the need to create fuel from vegetation (interesting, no?)

Anyway, here is the citation, but I have been unable to locate that obscure article. You can click on the image to open it separately. Anybody have any other information?



Regardless, it's laughable that people today would cite this incorrect prediction as a reason to doubt the validity of today's predictions based on drastically improved science and data.

Sorry, had to replace your images with text links. They were way too big.

There are plenty of musty old tomes on oil at archive.org, titles such as "Oil production methods," published 1913. Many from the late teens/early 20s warn of an imminent supply crunch. There have been something like 5 eras of peak oil alarms being sounded which people like Daniel Yergin are only too happy to point out. Also about 5 instances where the idea that economical oil shale processing would make C+C obsolete overnight.

Is it not interesting how when it comes to reporting the Consumer price index, which of course affects Social Security payments and other federal indices, that the price of energy and food are not included. However, when the gubmint reports on consumer sales, energy and food are right in there, showing better than anticipated increases. Like my father used to say " Figures don't lie, but liars figure."

This is why anyone who is going to be dependent upon SS or anything else that is CPI indexed had better get set up to produce as much of their own food as possible, have energy efficient housing and transport, and develop renewable energy (solar H2O and space heat, PVs, wood heat, other?) to the extent feasible. These will be going up, your monthly checks won't be.

"Like my father used to say ' Figures don't lie, but liars figure.'

Hey there, Treeman! CPI figures are just like the "official Gov't numbers" about unemployment. There, people who are not employed only count if they are still receiving unemployment benefits, which end after, what, 6 or 9 months? I think it is 6, but has been extended... not sure any more, since the liars are involved in those statistics, and methinks the different States have different versions.

U-6 takes in the 'underemployed' but I don't know if they add back in the folks who dropped off the charts when the compensation ended. Also, those who have been reduced to cutting lawns for those privilged few who continue full employment and full pay are now 'entrepeneurs,' and off the official count as well. And software engineers now doing the neighbors' home network, etc.

We are surrounded by liars and thieves. We call them politicans and bankers. What can we do?

On a related note, I thought the markets would get interesting this week, and they have. Stocks are sort of static, overall, but turbulent. The real interesting thing is the market for treasuries. The 10 year rate is now at 6.9%, having spike there when they auctioned off 25B of the things. They are up 0.2% this week, so far, and that is a huge increase, as well as a reflection of the trouble with the US$. Relative to other currency, it is stable, but the other currencies are in as much trouble as the greenback. Maybe more. See the posting today on the Oil Drum about the PIGS.

Since hope springs eternal, one cannot rule out recovery. It is just that eternity is a very long time.


I expect we'll be seeing more and more stories like Out of this world: are we running out of materials?

It's the classic geologist vs. economist issue we know so well:

Geoscientist Harald Sverdrup and colleagues at the University of Lund in Sweden have recently calculated that silver, gold, zinc, tin and indium will become scarce within 30 years. Professor Tom Graedel from Yale is more worried about copper, predicting that even with recycling there will soon not be enough to meet global demand. Almost everyone agrees that helium will become very scarce in 20 years, and since its liquid helium that cools MRI machines along with many other hospital diagnostic equipment, that is very bad news indeed.

The reason these scientists are being ignored is simple, they don't understand economics, or so the economists claim. They agree that if you extrapolate levels of consumption forward to a time when there are 9 billion people on the planet -- all wanting health, holidays and electronics -- that materials will become more expensive as the supply becomes limited. But, they argue, this will create incentives for further mining and exploration, as well as spur industries to create new technologies that are less wasteful. It will also mean that recycling, instead of being a drain on the economy, will start to become very profitable.

I'm planning ahead for the need for quick and easy information on a wide range of mineral resources and invite readers to use and provide feedback on the alpha version of the US Minerals Databrowser.

Here are a few graphs relating to zinc:

These plots are all based on the USGS Dataseries 140 which is a fantastic resource for historical information about minerals production and use.

Happy Exploring!

-- Jon

Looks like zinc independence is going to be difficult to achieve even with a government sponsored zinc conservation effort.

Forgive my ignorance but why is Zinc important? What is it used for?

The largest use of zinc is galvanizing, coating steel with zinc to delay corrosion. Sacrificial anodes (such as water heaters) are another corrosion prevention use.

Brass is copper + zinc and "pot metal" is usually a zinc alloy. Old type batteries were carbon-zinc.

Very little zinc is recycled due to it's low cost and most uses.


I am just as ignorant. That's why this databrowser has a 'Usage Pie' plot to show the relative ratios of end uses for each mineral. Just browsing through those plots is an education in itself.

Trying to provide one-stop-shopping for your questions about minerals resources.

-- Jon

That browser is getting better and better by the day. The 'Usage Pie' was really great.

here's some atomic links and just like regular TOD posts they may conflict and cancel each other out.
to wit:
"VERNON — The Department of Health said late Monday there appears to be "a very large area" at the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor contaminated with radioactive tritium, and contamination levels continue to rise.

"Russia awarded Vietnam’s first nuclear power deal

HANOI: Vietnam has decided to award Russia’s state atomic energy firm a contract to build the country’s first nuclear power plant, "

"BEIJING, Feb 9 (Reuters) - China has finished initial design work on its first three inland nuclear power plants, all of which will use technology developed by Westinghouse,"

"Rare Earthquake Rattles Northern Ill.; No Damage
Small quake hits north of Chicago, reports of shaky ground span 4 states; no damage, injuries"

so the snow storm that hit the mid atlantic states, what is it's carbon foot print? is it saving energy or using more? lots less cars on the road. people reducing their lifestyles by being less mobile.
many folks missing work. i bet lots get a day off without pay so that means consumption down, especially so if an employee only makes $14 per hour.

oh. yeah, consumer spending up...DUE TO INCREASE IN GAZ-O-LEEN!!!
BWAHHH-HAWWW-HAWWW! green shoots no doubt.

"it's all good"

hey! conundrummers! check out this historical photo captioned:
"September 1932. "Iraq oil fields. Man with fires in desert." American Colony Photo Department, Matson Photo Collection."