Drumbeat: February 25, 2010

John Michael Greer: Energy follows its bliss

Industrial civilization is a complicated thing, and its decline and fall bids fair to be more complicated still, but both rest on the refreshingly simple foundations of physical law. That’s crucial to keep in mind, because the raw emotional impact of the unwelcome future breathing down our necks just now can make it far too easy to retreat into one form or another of self-deception.

Plenty of the new energy technologies discussed so enthusiastically on the internet these days might as well be poster children for this effect. I think most people in the peak oil community are aware by now, for example, that the sweeping plans made for ethanol production from American corn as a solution to petroleum depletion neglected one minor but important detail: all things considered, growing corn and turning it into ethanol uses more energy than you get back from burning the ethanol. It’s not at all surprising that this was missed, for the same variety of bad logic underlies an astonishing amount of our collective conversation about energy these days.

Kurt Cobb: Do Texas and the North Sea Foretell the Future of Oil Production?

Oil supply optimists claim that new technology combined with private development of the world's remaining oil resources--most of which are now under the control of government-owned companies--would vastly increase global oil production and put off any decline for decades. Texas oilman Jeffrey Brown isn't buying it, and he cites the history of oil production in Texas and the North Sea to explain why.

Interest grows in transferring shale gas success to oil

The big boom in the US’ onshore shale gas play has led to an oversupply of natural gas, putting downward pressure on prices. A number of drilling programs have, therefore, been scaled back to wait until prices rise. And this has left equipment and expertise available at cheap rates for entrepreneurs to take on.

In the meantime, they are tinkering with transferring the shale gas boom into a shale oil boomlet.

Germany and UK cut Russian gas demand

Germany, the biggest importer of Russian gas, cut its purchases from Russia's Gazprom by 17.5% last year, while exports to the UK were slashed by 65%, a source at the Russian gas export monopoly said.

Refinery crisis afflicts global oil sector

PARIS: The world's major oil companies are grappling with a crisis in the refining sector which is forcing them to cut back heavily to staunch losses, as shown by a dispute at Total in France.

The possibility that Total could shut down a refinery in France has sparked angry protests and the government now wants the privately-owned group to commit to not closing any French refineries for five years.

But the fact is that refining is not a good business for oil companies in advanced industrialized countries, analysts said. And financial results published by the big producers show that Total's situation is hardly unique.

Petrobras makes double find

Brazil's Petrobras said today it had made two separate discoveries of oil in the Campos basin near Brazil's coast with recoverable reserves of 40 million and 25 million barrels.

Media alert: PwC and renowned author and economist Jeff Rubin present, "How will supply chains evolve in an energy-constrained, low-carbon world?"

TORONTO /CNW/ - PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) LLP and Jeff Rubin, former Chief Economist with CIBC World Markets and author of the book, Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller, are pleased to invite members of the media for a discussion on the long-term market trends that will impact sustainable positioning for the transportation and logistics (T&L) sectors.

Western’s Galileo’s Legacy Conference begins today

Missouri Western State University’s Galileo’s Legacy Conference, a yearly event that attracts experts in various fields, kicks off today.

...Dr. Newton joins retired University of Missouri professor Dr. John Ikerd, who will talk about alternative agriculture practices in a presentation titled “Food, Friends, and Faith: Cornerstones of Sustainability.” Retired Princeton University geology professor Dr. Ken Deffeyes will address the realities or our oil situation in his talk, titled “Beyond Oil: Sustainable Energy.” Dr. Deffeyes makes his presentation at 7 p.m. today, and Dr. Ikerd presents his Friday at noon. All presentations take place in Spratt Hall, Rooms 214-216.

Russia Starts Work On Baltic Nuclear Plant

(RFE/RL) -- Russian officials today laid the foundation stone of a new nuclear power station in Russia's westernmost region, Kaliningrad, which is sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania.

PFI - US nuclear power project financing under way

NEW YORK (Project Finance International) - Vogtle, the nuclear power plant co-sponsored by Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG), has announced plans to launch a US$2.5bn bond financing to fund the bulk of its portion of the project within days of winning the first US loan government guarantee for a nuclear facility. With more loan guarantees to be announced soon, the long-awaited nuclear power revival looks to be on its way. Goldman Sachs and coleads will hold a roadshow next week for the bond package which will fund a portion of its investment in the proposed Vogtle 3&4 nuclear power plant expansion. Fitch Ratings have assigned some of the senior bonds A+ ratings, and others A-

A Utility Will Help Homeowners Go Solar

TXU Energy, a Texas utility with two million customers, is making it possible for homeowners in the Dallas area to lease or buy rooftop solar-power systems in one of the first programs of its kind.

The energy provider said Wednesday that it had signed a deal with SolarCity, a Silicon Valley start-up that finances and installs residential rooftop arrays, to manage the initiative.

Bill McKibben: Why It's the O.J. Moment of the 21st Century

The campaign against climate science has been enormously clever, and enormously effective. It's worth trying to understand how they've done it. The best analogy, I think, is to the O.J. Simpson trial, an event that's begun to recede into our collective memory. For those who were conscious in 1995, however, I imagine that just a few names will make it come back to life. Kato Kaelin, anyone? Lance Ito?

The Dream Team of lawyers assembled for Simpson's defense had a problem: it was pretty clear their guy was guilty. Nicole Brown's blood was all over his socks, and that was just the beginning. So Johnnie Cochran, Robert Shapiro, Alan Dershowitz, F. Lee Bailey, Robert Kardashian et al. decided to attack the process, arguing that it put Simpson's guilt in doubt, and doubt, of course, was all they needed. Hence, those days of cross-examination about exactly how Dennis Fung had transported blood samples, or the fact that Los Angeles detective Mark Fuhrman had used racial slurs when talking to a screenwriter in 1986.

Oil shortage spills into water

Looming oil and water shortages are interconnected and the world is only just waking up to the fact, says a leading proponent of the “peak oil” hypothesis.

Matthew Simmons, the chairman emeritus of the US consulting firm Simmons and Company International, says oil production consumes large amounts of water, while boosting clean water supplies is energy-intensive.

“The inter-twining of oil and water is something we all missed,” he told the Marsh National Oil Companies Conference yesterday in Dubai.

Oil below $80 amid mixed US economy signals

Oil prices slipped below $80 a barrel Thursday as a stronger dollar made crude more expensive for international investors and the market received mixed signals on the strength of the U.S. economy.

Another Take On Peak Oil: Exports, Not Production, Indicate Crisis

President Obama pledges to attain national energy independence, only to be publicly rebuked days later by the Saudi oil minister for his lack of practicality. Two prestigious energy tracking agencies (CERA and the UK Energy Research Center) study the issue and release hefty reports in the same month with opposite conclusions. These are some of the examples given by host Jim Puplava in a January 30 segment of Financial Sense Newshour to introduce the increasingly fierce peak oil debate.

But to independent petroleum geologist and guest expert Jeffrey Brown, a crisis of world peak oil production is less critical than a crisis of peak oil exports.

Monbiot - If fossil fuel reserves rise carbon should be left where it belongs: in the ground

Peak oil should be good news for the environment, but not if it stimulates investment in even dirtier sources of energy.

China passes US as top Saudi oil importer: energy secretary

ABU DHABI (AFP) – China has surpassed the United States, long the top importer of Saudi oil, in short-term average daily imports from the petroleum-rich Gulf kingdom, US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said Wednesday in Abu Dhabi.

"It's correct, as far as I know," said Chu, when asked if China has recently moved ahead of the US in terms of average barrels-per-day oil imports from Saudi Arabia.

He did not provide specific figures.

ONGC eyes Latin America, Africa assets

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) is pushing to strengthen its presence in Africa and Latin America but is less interested in Canadian oil sands for now, its chairman said.

ONGC, which recently won exploration rights for a major project in Venezuela through a tie-up with Spain's Repsol, is also looking for overseas opportunities in Russia and elsewhere in the former Soviet Union, R.S. Sharma said in an interview on Wednesday.

European Fuel Oil Shipments to Asia Increasing 33% in March

(Bloomberg) -- European fuel oil shipments to Singapore will increase 33 percent in March as traders take advantage of prices in Asia that have been driven higher by the region’s accelerating economic growth.

Fuel oil, used to power ships or burnt to generate electricity, is moving east because of declining demand in Europe, according to a Bloomberg News survey of five traders, including companies involved in this arbitrage trade. An estimated 15 supertankers have been chartered to make the six- week journey to deliver 4 million metric tons in March, more than the monthly average of 3 million tons during the past year.

Dawn of the gas economy

The oil industry and free markets may yet accomplish what politicians at Copenhagen couldn't – by making the world a gassier place.

Conoco’s $10 Billion Divestiture Plan Seen Hinging on Syncrude

(Bloomberg) -- ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. oil company, may need to sell its stake in Syncrude Canada Ltd. for at least $3 billion to meet its goal for divestiture proceeds without putting more assets on the block.

Exiting Syncrude, the world’s largest oil-sands producer, could be the first deal in ConocoPhillips’s plan to sell $10 billion of assets in two years to cut debt. The company said Feb. 4 that it expects a Syncrude deal within several months.

Syncrude Revels in Gas Glut on Cusp of Oil-Sands Expansion

(Bloomberg) -- Syncrude Canada Ltd., the world’s largest oil-sands operator, is benefiting from a natural-gas surfeit and lower prices as the company embarks on expansions that will increase output by 50 percent.

Origin Says LNG Customers Have ‘Substantial’ Choices

(Bloomberg) -- Origin Energy Ltd., ConocoPhillips’ partner in a proposed liquefied natural gas project in Australia, said customers have the advantage in contract talks because they have a “substantial” number of supply options.

Origin is in discussions with a range of companies and aims to announce a customer by the middle of the year before making a final investment decision on the venture by the end of 2010, Managing Director Grant King said in Sydney today. The market is more favorable to buyers, who are taking more time to sign contracts, he said.

Repsol Profit Falls 48% as Refining Margins Narrow

(Bloomberg) -- Repsol YPF SA, Spain’s largest oil producer, said fourth-quarter profit fell 48 percent after a slump in fuel demand cut earnings from refining.

RWE Reduces Earnings Outlook on Energy-Project Delays

(Bloomberg) -- RWE AG, Germany’s second-largest utility, reduced its earnings growth forecast because of delays in developing power plants as well as oil and gas projects.

Recurrent net income, which the company uses to calculate its dividend because it doesn’t reflect swings in the value of fuel-price hedging, will expand by an average of about 5 percent a year in the four years through 2012, down from an earlier target of about 10 percent, RWE said today in a statement.

Argentina urges UN chief to intervene in Falklands row

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana pressed UN chief Ban Ki-moon to intervene in an ongoing row over oil drilling by a British firm in waters off the disputed Falkland Islands.

"We have asked the secretary general, within the framework of his good offices, to stress to Britain the need to abstain from further unilateral acts," Taiana told reporters after calling on Ban at UN headquarters.

Saber-rattling has surged in recent days over the Falklands following the start of oil drilling off the islands.

China says U.S. abuses trade measures in steel case

BEIJING (Reuters) - The United States has misapplied its own rules by taking action against imports from China, including the newest duties against Chinese steel pipes used in transporting corrosive liquids and gas, China's Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday.

The United States on Wednesday imposed preliminary duties ranging from 11 to 13 percent on steel pipe from China, saying the duties would offset government subsidies. The case is another in a growing list of trade disputes, as U.S. manufacturers seek government help against competing imports.

Larsen Units to Borrow $2.2 Billion for Roads, Power

(Bloomberg) -- Larsen & Toubro Ltd., India’s largest engineering company, said its units plan to borrow at least 100 billion rupees ($2.2 billion) this year to fund road- building and power projects.

“We will have to raise this money through special purpose vehicles and it will all be within the Indian financial system without any recourse to L&T,” Chief Financial Officer Yeshwant M. Deosthalee said in an interview at his Mumbai office.

India Power Ministry Opposes Taxes on China Turbines

(Bloomberg) -- India’s power ministry is opposing a proposal to double taxes on imported turbines and boilers because it will raise costs for electricity producers and delay capacity addition needed to curb blackouts, according to two officials at the ministry.

The Ministry for Heavy Industries proposed raising import duty on power equipment to 10 percent to shield domestic producers including state-owned Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. The Power Ministry wants taxes frozen in the annual budget to be unveiled tomorrow, according to one official, who asked not to be identified because the budget hasn’t been announced.

Why I Don't Expect a Lithium-Ion Battery Glut

It's no secret that I think plug-in electric vehicles are unconscionable waste and pollution masquerading as conservation. To support my opinions, I've published an easy to follow Excel spreadsheet that shows why plug-ins are 5x to 6x less effective than HEVs when it comes to reducing national gasoline consumption and 9x to 12x less effective than HEVs when it comes to reducing national CO2 emissions. To date, the only challenges to my analysis have come from die-hard EV fanatics who seem to believe battery factories grow on trees and raw material supply chains sprout like flowers in an alpine meadow.

Bloom Energy unveils fuel cell of the future

SAN JOSE, California (AFP) – Stealth start-up Bloom Energy on Wednesday publicly unveiled an innovative fuel cell that promises to deliver affordable, clean energy to even remote corners of the world.

Compact Bloom Servers built with energy cells made from silicon -- a plentiful element found in sand -- made their formal debut in an eBay building here partially powered by the energy source.

Putting In a Good Word for Algae

A European lobbying group weighed in Tuesday on a fierce debate over the environmental value of using algae to produce biofuels for vehicles.

The group, the European Algae Biomass Association, said members of its scientific committee were “confident that the commercial production of algae biofuels can be achieved with a positive carbon footprint and will represent a further important step in the direction of reducing CO2 emission in European transport, including aviation.”

Projects across USA turn landfill gas into energy

More communities are turning trash into power.

Nationwide, the number of landfill gas projects, which convert methane gas emitted from decomposing garbage into power, jumped from 399 in 2005 to 519 last year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Waste-to-Ethanol Venture Attracts Investors

In a deal announced on Wednesday, Enerkem Inc., a Quebec waste-to-ethanol processor, has raised $51.5 million from a syndicate of investors that includes the landfill and garbage-hauling giant Waste Management of Houston.

This is the second substantial cash infusion for the company, which secured a $50 million Department of Energy clean-tech grant in December.

Nuclear 'only way to cut emissions'

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says nuclear power is the "only realistic way" for Australia to cut its carbon emissions but he will not take the policy to the next election.

Speaking at the Menzies Research Centre in Canberra, the opposition leader said nuclear power was the only proven way of generating the base load power Australia needed without producing carbon pollution.

Vermont Senate Votes to Close Nuclear Plant

MONTPELIER, Vt. — In an unusual state foray into nuclear regulation, the Vermont Senate voted 26 to 4 Wednesday to block operation of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant after 2012, citing radioactive leaks, misstatements in testimony by plant officials and other problems.

Unless the chamber reverses itself, it will be the first time in more than 20 years that the public or its representatives has decided to close a reactor.

Neighbourhood grids promise energy gains

(PhysOrg.com) -- European researchers are creating technology that will treat neighbourhoods like a miniature power grid, sharing energy generated at each house according to need. Allied to a host of other developments, the concept promises huge energy savings.

How to turn blueprints green

(PhysOrg.com) -- Even in today's increasingly energy-conscious world, it's rare for the subject of energy efficiency to be addressed in the early stages of designing a new building, whether it's a single-family home or a large factory or office building. Typically, issues about lighting, heating and insulation are left until after initial decisions about the size, shape and orientation of the building have been made.

Climate change's secret weapon

The sad irony is that, despite producing little in the way of carbon emissions, both island nations may have contributed to their own demise. The Seychelles and the Maldives share the same secret underpinning to their respective economies. More than 50% of AOSIS members are secrecy jurisdictions, misleadingly labeled as offshore centers and tax havens. These economies - characterized by opaque legal and financial services ensuring little or no disclosure, high levels of client confidentiality and few requirements for substantial economic activity - are recipients of illicit capital. These laundered profits have been siphoned from resource-rich but artificially impoverished developing nations.

Is Glenn Beck A Secret Treehugger?

Is Glenn Beck a closet environmentalist? That might sound like a strange question. In his lucrative book and television career, the conservative talk show host regularly bashes the science of climate change and anyone who believes in it. Last week he mocked climate scientists for being "alarmists" who believe that "we're all going to die in a fiery flood." Not long ago he touted the global warming chapter of his An Inconvenient Book as "kryptonite against your Gore-worshipping psycho friends." And in May 2007 he hosted an hour-long television special, Exposed: The Climate of Fear, featuring an all-star lineup of climate change denialists and promising the "other side of the climate debate that you don't hear anywhere." Beck was also, of course, the driving force behind the successful right-wing push last year to bring down Obama's green jobs guru, Van Jones.

But an interview with Beck in USA Weekend revealed that his private views on climate are very different from those he espouses on his day job. In fact, Beck appears not only to be convinced that global warming is real, but that it's a genuine problem.

China says no emissions cap for now

BEIJING (AFP) – China's top climate change negotiator has said the world's biggest carbon polluter has no intention of capping greenhouse gas emissions for the time being, state media reported Thursday.

Su Wei, who led China's negotiating team at the UN climate change talks in Copenhagen in December, said the country's carbon emissions had to increase because the economy was still developing, the China Daily said.

Trek to gauge carbon's impact on Arctic sealife

London, England (CNN) -- Two teams of explorers and scientists are on their way to the Arctic for the first international project to measure the amount of carbon dioxide in water beneath the ice.

World warming unhindered by cold spells: scientists

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The pace of global warming continues unabated, scientists said on Thursday, despite images of Europe crippled by a deep freeze and parts of the United States blasted by blizzards.

I see the stock market is falling and there is more flight to US treasury bonds. According to the WSJ:

Recovery Worries Help Treasurys Rise

Treasury prices rose Thursday morning after an unexpected rise in U.S. jobless claims added to concern over the pace of an economic recovery, increasing the allure of low-risk government debt. . .

"Risk aversion has returned with vengeance," said William O'Donnell, head of U.S. government bond strategy at RBS Securities Inc in Stamford, Conn. . .

Traders said the Treasury market was also supported by technical flows before the end of the month.

My question is at what point to investors realize the U.S. is no different than Greece? We are hardly a safe haven. I know the old arguement is U.S. treasuries and the dollar are the best of a bad bunch and of course we are the reserve currency. But I have to laugh when economic scholars on CNBC, NYT, WSJ etc. dismiss the idea of the dollar collapsing entirely due to our reserve status.

I suspect we may have a run on the dollar that will be the knock out punch for the U.S. As a result the energy crisis will be put even further on the back burner of priorities and will continue to be misunderstood.

I've been calling it the Grand Prix of Debt--as governments in various countries, principally OECD countries, race each other to the edge of cliff.

The Euro's Next Battleground: Spain

MADRID—Greece set off the crisis rattling the euro zone. Spain could determine whether the 16-nation currency stands or falls. The euro zone's No. 4 economy, Spain has an unemployment rate of 19%, a deflating housing bubble, big debts and a gaping budget deficit. Its gross domestic product contracted 3.6% in 2009 and is expected to shrink again this year, leaving Spain in its deepest and longest recession in a half-century.

At the center of the crisis are millions of Spaniards like Olga Espejo. The 41-year-old lost her administrative job at a laboratory in Madrid, then found a temporary post replacing someone on sick leave—until that job was abolished. Her husband and her sister have also been laid off—all among the one in nine working Spaniards who have lost jobs in the past two years. Each gets an unemployment check of at least €1,000 a month, or about $1,350, part of a generous social safety net that Madrid says it won't cut. But Ms. Espejo's benefit runs out in July and her husband's in May. "What prospects do any of us have now?" Ms. Espejo asks.

That question haunts Spain and the entire euro zone as the Continent faces its biggest economic crisis since the common currency launched in 1999.

And as sometimes happens The Onion manages to make a serious point (emphasis added):

"It's back to basics for me," Bernard Polk of Waverly, OH said. "I'm going to till the soil for my own sustenance and get anything else I need by bartering. If I want milk, I'll pay for it in tomatoes. If need a new hoe, I'll pay for it in lettuce."

When asked, hypothetically, how he would pay for complicated life-saving surgery for a loved one, Polk seemed uncertain.

"That's a lot of vegetables, isn't it?" he said.

Those who hanker for the "simple" life of the dead peasant/tribal past really ought to meditate long and assiduously on that point.

A good discussion, indicating how complicated this really is, was received today from Seeking Alpha. If you would like a better understanding of how our government securites offerings work, this is a good read.



Tsy auctions are notoriously messy and I think the author is drawing conclusions from an extremely small data sample.

Why the UK needs an end to the winter right now.


A cold March and April and boy are we in trouble.

We have had cold winter in the upper Midwest too. It started at the beginning of December as usual, but then we missed the January thaw that often comes about the middle of the month. We had a few warm days, but not enough to melt much snow. I was hoping for a February thaw, but that too didn't happen and now we are near the end of the month.

I abandoned keeping the yard clear of snow because there is so much of it. I have a little drive path though the drifts to where I can turn the car around. During snow storms I leave the car at the end of the lane so as not to get snowed in.

It has been so cold that I have nearly burned through the corn I set aside last year for my corn stoves. I have corn in another bin but it is wet (about 22% moisture). That will not start in a corn stove just as wet wood won't start in a wood stove.

I thought I would have to go buy dry corn which I hate to do because of the additional work and the elevator charges a markup. So I deciding to try burning wet corn and it worked. The trick is to get the stove hot with dry corn before adding the wet corn. The hot fire dries out the corn as it inters slowly. It's a little like adding wet wood to a hot fire.

I didn't think it would work, but it does. I'm holding the wet corn until warm weather arrives and I can dry it down with fans only.

It appears we are headed for big floods come spring in the Midwest. Snow cover is near record levels and the ground is saturated from heavy rain that fell last October and that delayed the harvest. And it appears that with the continued cold weather, the spring thaw will be sudden.

I am expecting a real mess, but at least I will be warm with lots of wet corn to burn.

Our winter in WNC has been similar to 1993. I hope we don't have another "perfect storm" this spring. We got 3 feet of snow in '93 and it took weeks for folks to dig out and get their power back on, that after a warm spell. El Nino got blamed then.

Just so you don't get the wrong idea, in the west it has been exceptionally warm this winter. Locally, no one can recall a winter this warm. And no snow here below 3500 ft. or so. Hasn't been any. The little we had melted before New Year. Unheard of. It will be a fire-filled summer if normal summer weather patterns occur.

Abnormally warm winter in Saskatchewan too. No 50 below spells. Yeah May fire season could be bad.

This doesn't look abnormal to me, look at a few earlier winters.


Well the Eastern US had a below normal average temp for January. The rest of North America not at all

Thats only Jan. check Dec. The big red dot doesn't match all of Edmonto's winter so far either.


Here in southwest WI I haven't seen 40F since December 1st. According to the latest model, that streak will continue past March 10th...at least. While the overall temps haven't been cold (only -16F for the min all winter..we usually see -20F or better) its just been the duration.

The Arctic Oscillation is set to maybe go positive soon, El Nino could/should be dying and if we can EVER melt this snow off, then we'll be sitting good for a warm April.

Here's the latest run of the US Global Forecast System (GFS) weather model for the end of the high resolution portion of the run Europe (T + 180hrs)

And nothing particularly warmer is showing further ahead in the low res portion of the run. The jet stream over Europe is predicted to remain extremely unusually far south. Of course these models can and do change at that distance.

How has this evolved?

FT Alphaville » More UK natgas glut talk

Current sum of storage is 11578.3, so you're testing bottoms reached in 2005. Obnoxious how the national grid people break down storage spreadsheets for each year, without a master sheet with all data. Have you archived pre-2006 data, Undertow?

My graph:

UK MRS NG 2010

April Fool's!

Contrast with Rembrandt's forecast from Jan 9:

That was put on hold by a storage build - increased imports it looks like, as the LRS has followed a steady near perfect linear trend down since Dec - I'm getting an R2 of 1.0 with a linear trend.

Hope some of that was of use. I'm not very familiar with UK gas dynamics. Is the current situation drastically dire compared to the past?

The bottom graph is just from midrange storage, and as I understand it, Rembrandt is showing how quickly it could be depleted (not a forecast), if there is a cold spell at the maximum draw rate.

What is far more important is the long term storage drawdown that Undertow shows first in his group of graphs. It still has about three weeks' supply left, at a high drawdown rate, longer at a lower drawdown rate.

One of the issues in all of this is the amount of total flow that can be managed at a given time. To keep that at a maximum level (as would be needed when it is extremely cold), one needs to be able to draw down from short, medium, and long term storage simultaneously. It looks from Undertow's current graphs that this the possibility for feeds from the three areas simultaneously will work for a while longer--do this is not the immediate area.

As he says, the real concern is that March and April will both be cold. Then the three week supply (more with warmer weather) won't go far enough.

I know all that. I'm asking if this year is extraordinarily anomalous compared to the past; perhaps LRS does this Stuka dive bomb towards zero every year and we are mistaken to sound alarms about it in this fashion. The GBAs this season certainly stand out, but you don't see interruptible customers pulling their hair out, at least judging from news reports. Perhaps the gov will conduct a study of the economic impact of these interruptions.

I'm not denying that real shortages couldn't hit people, either. I'm simply asking how often these levees are hit by high water, to use a Hurricane Katrina analogy. When I began to examine the state of FF stocks in the US I drew all kinds of errant conclusions about hitting MOL; flows are much more dynamic than what simple charts suggested. Rembrandt's chart didn't see that stock build, you notice, and as I stated LRS hasn't changed at all. Chart the numbers yourself if you like.

Additional storage is being built, too: Gas storage: Every little helps | The Economist

Feb 18th 2010 | From The Economist print edition

A NEW winter tradition is emerging in Britain. Whenever a cold snap occurs, commentators fret that the country’s tiny stores of natural gas (which provides around two-fifths of electricity and heats over three-quarters of all homes) will run out. Such worries were particularly acute this winter, the coldest for 30 years.

Sighs of relief, then, on February 15th, when the Gateway Storage Company announced that it had been awarded a licence to build the first big new gas-storage facility in many years. The firm plans to spend £600m ($940m) carving out 20 vast storage chambers in the salt beneath the Irish Sea and building a processing terminal at Barrow-in-Furness. When it begins operations in 2014, it will boost Britain’s gas-storage capacity by around 30%.

I know all that. I'm asking if this year is extraordinarily anomalous compared to the past; perhaps LRS does this Stuka dive bomb towards zero every year and we are mistaken to sound alarms about it in this fashion. The GBAs this season certainly stand out, but you don't see interruptible customers pulling their hair out, at least judging from news reports. Perhaps the gov will conduct a study of the economic impact of these interruption

Storage always plummets in winter obviously as that is what it is for. However we are well in record low territory for the time of year. In fact we're already fast approaching a record all time low even though we potentially may have a month or two of draw-down to go. The recession and warm weather (just in the nick of time) saved us last year.

Fascinating the link up top though Germany and UK cut Russian gas demand . Nice to know that even though we in the UK are at record low storage levels we've still slashed our (admittedly small) purchases of natural gas from Russia by 65% due to "lack of demand"!

In a recent episode of the BBC spy drama "Spooks" (MI5) the UK has to beg Russia for more gas after an accident at an LNG import facility...

Is the current situation drastically dire compared to the past?

Record low for the time of year. In recent years we've just scraped through and we've already had high volume customers cut off this year when it gets cold - which normally only happens after a major infrastructure failure but from now on it seems will be routine in winter.

And a lot of interruptible customers did grumble about it and that was carried in the press at the time. They did find some giants like GM to say it was no problem but it was mainly smaller companies that were caught out.

That's not to say there isn't a bit more wiggle room with imports but it may not be enough and that is why we are building more storage as you point out - finally even though it is still not enough.

Ah, see what you mean. It isn't a record for all of winter; the sum of storage for this day is 11578.3 and that FT graph I posted shows levels at ca. 9k for mid March 2005. Those are sums shown on the graph, too, LRS levels for Dec 1 were only 38183 whereas the graph shows ca. 48k. The summed figure for Dec 1 was 48207.78. But if you combine the current trend with severe weather you'll be in Dutch to one extent or another pretty soon, barring another dogleg in the MRS. Was that courtesy of LNG?

Do you have long term data compiled? It's a snap to host spreadsheets at sites like Deposit Files, you know.

Peering into the past a bit more, storage seems to have been a complete non story in 2005. As is the case with other topics I always wonder how much attention the world showed something before we bloggers came along with our analytical microscopes.

From the chart you posted at this point in 2005 we had 15,000 GWh in storage as against 11,600 now. In 2005 we bottomed out about 8,500 from the graph. I don't have a complete set of storage figures that far back. Current and a limited set of historical European gas storage data (in mcm not GWh) at https://transparency.gie.eu.com/

Note we already have effectively relegated SRS to emergency use only due to the depletion status and it would only take a couple more days of exceptionally cold weather to put MRS storage in a similarly precarious position. Or loss of supplies again via the Langeled pipeline (as has happened more than once this winter) from Norway forcing high drain rates from MRS would have the same end result.

UK energy policy is a massive gamble and has been since the ill thought out mass privatisations of (previously nationalised) energy suppliers and a leave energy security entirely to the free market approach. Started by Thatcher and followed by both main UK parties ever since.

We literally drained the north sea of oil and gas as fast as possible and for the lowest possible price we could get for it to help Reagan and followers hide Carter's Peak Oil warning from the world until it was too late.

We literally drained the north sea of oil and gas as fast as possible and for the lowest possible price we could get for it to help Reagan and followers hide Carter's Peak Oil warning from the world until it was too late.

Wow. That kinda brings it all together. Well said. Why are visions of yuppies dancing in my head? :)

I am away from my data at the moment so I haven't been able to update it since last Friday, I will be home tomorrow and post the current situation compared to previous years.

My opinion is that the storage was actually cleverly designed - the pipes can only supply at a limited rate, so the stored gas probably won't run out, but the size of the storage is inadequate if we get more cold weather.

Fortunately, we started the winter with higher than normal long term storage, otherwise we would be in dire straights by now!

Thanks xeroid.

LNG Tanker Will Arrive At South Hook Feb.27 - Port Authority

The Dragon LNG and South Hook LNG terminals, both in South Wales, were fully commissioned in 2009, and between them have a capacity to supply up to 25% of the U.K.'s gas requirements. The Isle of Grain, the U.K.'s oldest LNG import terminal, can import 9.8 million metric tons of LNG a year.

Tanker           Arrival    Terminal

   Q-Flex Al Khuwair Feb.12    Isle of Grain (arrived)
   Umm Slal          Feb.21    South Hook    (arrived)
   Berge Arzew       Feb.21    Isle of Grain (arrived)
   Al Mafyar         Feb.27    South Hook

UK gas flat as weather forecasts unclear | Markets | Reuters Wed Jan 20, 2010

South Hook suffered a brief power cut stopping flows of gas out of Europe's biggest LNG terminal. Data from National Grid showed gas inputs from the terminal had stopped at around 1000 GMT and were still halted an hour later although the electricity outage had lasted only seconds. [ID:nWLB5481]

Though Interconnector remained in the export mode, its website showed it might flip to UK imports.

They're interrupting services to the terminal that provides the fuel for the power in the first place?

Anonymous source for Reuters seems optimistic:

Asked about LNG following a recent rally in NYMEX, which stood higher than UK prices, the trader said: "LNG looks OK. We still get as much as we need."

Am attempting to download some LNG stock info here.

UK LNG Stocks Jan-Feb 2010

Computed averages for each day, and even then as you can see the numbers spike all over the place; couldn't download a .csv from the national grid site, but I could simply copy the data onscreen and paste into Open Office. Note that X axis runs right to left. I assume the spikes are cargoes being offloaded? I'd superimpose an X axis grid but there are so many dates in the file that it would show on the screen as a grey blur. Recommend that you download this graph and rotate with photo editing software. I don't see any impact from the cargoes arriving Feb 21st, but perhaps it takes a few days between arrival and offloading.

Beats me! In the US LNG is a bit player, like some pesky kid who wants to join in on a game of baseball.

Umm, doesn't that storage graph say everything runs out in 3 weeks if things stay chilly? Beware the Ides of March?

Below a couple of diagrams that shows developments of natural gas in UK storage as of this morning.

The diagrams are clickable and opens up in a bigger version in a new window

The diagram above shows the development in total natural gas in UK storage for the contractual years 2005 to 2009. (The contractual year runs from October 1st till October 1st)
The diagram illustrates that this heating season started with more natural gas in UK storage.

The diagram above shows the development in net withdrawals of natural gas in UK storage between December 1st and March 31st for the contractual years 2005 to 2009. (The contractual year runs from October 1st till October 1st)
The diagram illustrates a growing use of natural gas from storage to balance UK supplies and demand.

As of now it seems like UK natural gas storage levels will reach a lower level than experienced for some years. The seasonal forecast calls for chances of colder weather than normal this spring so chances are that there still will be a need for further storage withdrawals this heating season.

Storage withdrawals need to be seen in conjunction with decline in UK indigenous marketable supplies (that is natural gas the decline in UK supplies available for end users). Further the development in imports of pipelined and liquefied natural gas.

As of January 2010 UK indigenous marketable natural gas supplies had an annual decline rate of 17 %.

I have in the workings a more comprehensive post, based upon the most recent data from DECC and National Grid, on the development in UK natural gas supplies and consumption. I had aimed at having it posted this week, but due to changing priorities it has made me reschedule it for the middle of next week.

There was a draw of 172 billion cubic feet of natural gas last week. (-172)
Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report

The five year average for that week, week 8, is -141 billion cubic feet.
American Oilman Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report
American Oilman.com has not posted the draw yet.

Ron P.

Stocks now just "average" and already lower than last year at this time. Good job the US has a natural gas glut isn't it? Wonder what that would like like without the recession?

Matt Simmons thinks that we are headed for NG supply problems in the US as soon as next winter, because the decline rates are so high, in conjunction with the slow down in drilling.

westexas -

In the US at present, it is almost a given that when a utility wants to add electrical generating capacity, it will predominately be in the form of a gas turbine fired by natural gas. The main reasons are low capital cost, ease and flexibility of operation, and no need for expensive air pollution control equipment.

These are all very attractive features, and if we had an inexhaustible supply of natural gas, no one in his/her right might would even consider coal, nuclear, or wind power. Unfortunately we do not. That is why I think more gas-fired electrical generating capacity is a mistake, and one clearly indicative of financially-driven myopia.

Natural gas is ideal for home heating. So, I would like some of these natural gas boosters to please tell me what the average American family is going to heat its home with after the natural gas either gets too expensive or becomes in short supply. Oil (that's going to go first)? Wood (maybe if you live in Maine or Oregon)? Electricity (electric heat is already very expensive)? Coal (all you have to do is replace around 60 million gas or oil burners with coal furnaces, and it would do wonders for urban air quality)? Buffalo chips?

In the northern half of the US, it is possible to live without electricity but literally life-threatening to live without a means to heat one's home. So, again my question is: how is the American family going to heat its home, 50 years from now? A hundred years from now?

In reasonably dense urban areas and towns, I think that the long-term answer is going to have to be district heating. I would envision a large geothermal heat pump as the centerpiece, along with a mix of municipal waste biogas, and/or a waste/biomass incinerator, and/or solar (PV, thermal panel, or CSP), and/or wind, depending upon the local situation. The central heat pump would deliver hot water to residential heat pumps in the winter, chilled water in the summer, which would enable them to run MUCH more efficiently than if they were trying to pull heat out of cold air, or vice versa. Presumably residences would also have solar thermal space and water heating panels installed as well wherever it makes the least bit of sense.

A scheme along these lines, it would seem to me, would offer the best opportunity to get the most cost-effective match of technology scale to local renewable energy potential and local energy demand.

Unfortunately, it would take us 25-50 years to transition to such a scheme on a widespread basis with substantial government planning and coordination and incentives; leave it entirely to "the market"/happenstance, and that time frame stretches to 50-100 years - if ever. This is yet another one of those things that we really needed to get started on decades ago.

So, again my question is: how is the American family going to heat its home, 50 years from now? A hundred years from now?

Furniture, telephone poles, murdered neighbor's house ...

#1, the more recent the less healthy to burn, #2 always unsafe (cresote) but research is focused more on physical exposure than fumes, #3 see #1.

Makes me glad I live in Central Florida.

How long can you tread water in a hurricane? ;^)

Maybe "less healthy" or "unsafe", but still "safer" than freezing to death immediately. Actually, I don't think we have to indulge in deep doomerism to realize that a lot of today's overwrought elf'n'safety standards will prove impractical and fall to the wayside even with a moderate but sustained downturn...

If there is no collapse, I would think that houses built anytime after the next ten years pass by will be extremely easy to heat due to very tight building codes and incorporation of good passive design features.

Older houses will fall enough in value to make it possible to up grade them in a similar fashion.

It's the next ten years I'm worried about.

In the US at present, it is almost a given that when a utility wants to add electrical generating capacity, it will predominately be in the form of a gas turbine fired by natural gas. The main reasons are low capital cost, ease and flexibility of operation, and no need for expensive air pollution control equipment.

Interestingly, the power generators are among the first customers to have their gas supply interrupted when there are problems. This can lead to odd situations. A few years ago, early on a Saturday morning, the Denver metro area had a partial disruption in its gas supply (sub-zero temps froze water that had gotten into some valves due to sloppy maintenance, IIRC). The cold resulted in higher than normal NG and electric demand from residential customers. NG service to the electric generators was cut off in order to serve the non-interruptable customers, but the remaining generating capacity was not adequate to meet demand, so we got rolling blackouts. Which knocks out most people's NG-fired heating as effectively as cutting off the NG.

The energy delivery systems are not only complex individually, but are increasingly interconnected. Don't know about other people, but one of the things I expect my state PUC to worry about is fuel diversity for the electric supply. And I'm willing to pay higher rates in order to support it.

So, again my question is: how is the American family going to heat its home, 50 years from now? A hundred years from now?

WT, we're sort of counting on this global warming thing (said with tongue only half in cheek).


Anything that burns. For most that will be wood, but the logistics (think of Madison, MKE, CHICAGO, MSP) of burning wood is a nightmare. You'd have to clear vast tracks of forest and then split/dry the wood and then haul it by train? to the larger cities? Not going to work.

Most of the population will move south. I could see many a person from Chicago, Minneapolis, Omaha, etc moving to Texas/Arizona and even the Oregon/Washington. I don't doubt this at all. Heating bills can be higher then mortgage payments here in Wisconsin. Maybe people will come back and forth with the seasons like the snowbirds do right now???

Another reason to have a camper packed out back, fueled up and ready to roll.

To all those who say that Phoenix, Vegas are doomed. Come spend the months of Jan/Feb in Wisconsin with no heat and tell me who is screwed. I spend a lot of time outdoors (i jog when its 0F out) and i can't see how anyone will put up with not having heat, i wouldn't.

You guys could at least burrow.

Thirsty trumps Cold, I'd bet..

but I also think the colder habitats will soon show their true colors and send the suburbanites packing before too long.


Its ugly. I'd at least move over by Lake Michigan where the overnight temps don't drop nearly as far as ours do.

Burrowing? Soil temps at 5ft are 38F right now. You have to get down 10ft or more to find 50F. My basement fell into the 30F's the year i just used wood for heat (furnace is in the basement, burning NG like crazy this year because its so cheap).

86 days straight in my backyard where the temp has failed to reach 40F :)

A lot of people could migrate by bicycle. :*)

Natural gas is ideal for home heating.

If we cared about thermodynamic efficiency burning stuff for space heating would be a crime. We need to use the NG for electricity, and use heat pumps instead. Of course I have no plans to replace my furnace -but then with my combination of mild climate, extra insulation, and low (61F) thermostat setting, I just don't use enough to justify the cost of a heatpump. My heating season is all but over (probably a couple of cold rainy days left).

The best use for NG is efficient load following electric plants to follow demand and make up for lulls in wind power. Using it for baseline power is a mistake (one reason I don't like the Bloom Box).

I thought there was a surplus of NG due to shale oil fracing? What about the claims of 90 more years supply of NG at current rate of consumption? What about the Pickens plan based on copious amounts of domestic NG? What about the Dept. of Energy TV ads with the woman boldly claiming incredible amounts of time available for domestic NG usage?

The availability of that much NG very much depends on price. If the price won't stay high enough (because people can't afford $500 month electric bills, for example), then it doesn't work.

There are a lot of other ifs to make it work as well - more infrastructure going in precisely when the new natural gas supply becomes available, because too little, and the new gas has nowhere to go; too much, and there will be some potential users of natural gas left without. If there is even a temporary oversupply of gas, the price of gas drops to close to $0, because there is no place to put the gas.

The people making statements about the big supply would very much like to drive up demand and price, so as to make it possible for this all to happen.

Earl -- Gail gives a good quick summary of the situation. But there's an even shorter explanation but that requires offering a more accurate statement: It's a 90 years supply at current comsumption rate IF IT GETS DEVELOPED. If it continues to sit in the ground it will supply zero years of supply. We can debate all day long what circumstance need to develop for those reserves to be drilled up. But, based upon the last time I saw the numbers, current drilling activity in the SG plays is insufficient to keep up with decline. Current SG activity will lessen the decline rate to some degree but until the dynamics change significantly such plays won't save us from Peak NG IMHO. They'll help lessen the effect to some degree just as domestic oil exploration will do so for PO. But at the moment it doesn't seem to change the end game much.

90 years at current consumption is one thing, but if it is developed, the rate of consumption will rise. At a 2% rise, there will only be about 53 years, at 3% about 44 years.


How does Simmons have any credibility? Why is he continually sourced here as a sage?

In 2003 he said this:

Pray for no hurricanes and to stop the erosion of natural gas supplies. Under the best of circumstances, if all prayers are answered there will be no crisis for maybe two years. After that it's a certainty.

So 7 years later there has been no crisis and NG prices are still low. Sure, his latest prediction might be right, but saying "the sky is falling" every year and then when it doesn't fall you say "well you just wait until next year!" is a pretty poor way to persuade anyone it really is falling.

The surge in unconventional NG production surprised a lot of people, including me, but his point is that the decline rates are so high that once the drilling slows down, we may be looking at some serious supply problems. And ultimately, the question is whether we have enough people and infrastructure to maintain stable to growing supplies from unconventional sources, given the very high decline rates, even if the price is right.

But of course, regarding his primary focus--Saudi Arabia--it's interesting to see what Saudi production, and more importantly, net oil exports have done since Matt's book was published in 2005.

I have a hard time believing anything he says because if you make enough predictions eventually you'll get some right. If he isn't so sure about NG, and I'll cut him some slack because it's not his "primary focus" than he should couch his warnings in much softer language.

mad -- While consulting for one of the big SG players when the bottom fell out on NG and rigs began shutting down fast my first thought was to see a hard drop in US rates. But a quick back of the envelop calc indicated it would not be so. We all know about the rapid decline rate most SG wells suffer. But on the flip side once they've dropped 70 or 80% of that initial rate they begin a rather slow and somewhat predictable decline. Granted many wells are producing at 10% or less then their IP's but there are many thousands of these wells. They thus establish a fairly solid base. The drilling drop off certainly meant an end to the upswing in rates we saw the last few years. But the older wells are still there and are doing just fine. This is similar to domestic oil production. The US is the third largest oil producer on the planet but not because of 300,000 bopd fields coming on from new DW GOM fields. It because of the many thousands of old wells producing on average less than 10 bopd. The residual production from the early SG wells isn't close to that in magnitude but they do exist. There are SG wells in KY that are still producing profitably after 40 years. Granted that profit might only be a few hundred $'s a month but times thousands of wells it does add up.

We'll eventually see a pickup in SG drilling when prices rebound enough. And then probably another big fall off should another recession hit us. But the wells drilled during the good times will add something to our long term base. Whether that eventually reaches the magnitude of the old oil wells remains to be seen.

thanks for the info ROCKMAN. "we cannot predict" as Taleb says, people like Simmons should have more humility and less hyperbole. Nobody likes the boy who called wolf and it weakens the credibility of PO interested folks to have him out there making these predictions with such stridency.

You're welcome mad. I generally take any 'prediction' with a big grain of salt...especially mine. In my youth I once characterized two different drilling prospects as "sure things...can't miss". One well was actually going to twin a well that discovered a nice gas reservoir. In reality both wells were dry holes. Humility well earned to say the least. On TOD I always try to offer my numbers as opinions more than facts. I could often qualify a prediction with a long list of "ifs" but generally folks just remember the bottom line and not the complex (and often miscalculated) variables that go into any projection. But Simmons and all the other talking heads are trapped in that sound bite world where you have a limited amount of time to make your point.

BTW -- It looks like I may soon be sharing a cup of coffee with mr. Simmons. It will be interesting to see how he frames the discussion in front of a tech savvy group.

Actually there were regional NG problems within two years, as Simmons stated. In the greater NYC area, at one point the NG demanded exceeded available supplies and the price of NG literally went up 10 fold.

So in that way, Simmons was right.

It you think NG useage is the only problem, consider propane. There was another heavy draw on propane stocks last week, as in previous weeks. Here are graphs for PADDs 1, 2 and 3. Padd 1 is headed toward the dumpster with a new storm on top of New England today and into the weekend. While there has been an increase in NG production due to unconventional sources, my WAG is that propane production is not likely to increase...

E. Swanson

Wow, 26 thousand New England, not much. I heat with partially w propane, I followed out EIA links for history. Shows Dec 08 New England at 70, then jump to 438 a month later. Maybe you'll get extra this winter too. All of Padd 1 shows almost 50% draws of their remainder in the last WEEK tho.

The Financial Times blog has more thoughts on the Bloom Box in a column called

Bloom and Gloom

It quotes a blog post by Lux:

Bloom’s California customers achieve the quoted electricity costs only because they pay for just half of the system’s capital expense, based on the generous 30% U.S. federal tax credit and the $2,500/kW California rebate (New York and Connecticut also have generous rebate programs for fuel cells, as do many countries around the world). Without incentives, we calculate electricity would cost $0.13/kWh to $0.14/kWh, with about $0.09/kWh from system cost and about $0.05/kWh coming from fuel cost. Note that this is high compared to average retail U.S. electricity costs of roughly $0.11/kWh.

The report we linked to yesterday published on the DOE website mention 46 per cent AC efficiency and 33 per cent net efficiency. These may have been affected by the cold conditions (the tests were carried out in Anchorage). But then there is the heat generated by the systems, and their durability, to consider.

If the Bloom Box works as hoped then prices should drop alot. If not, it's a non-issue (except for those that invested). As for being competetive with grid power, who knows. WT's post above on natgas prices doesn't look good.

To follow on my post above in response to WT on NG, wrt these things:

I think that individual residences is the wrong scale for these things. Properly scaled as a component of a district heating plant, these might have more potential, especially if biogas from municipal waste is the feedstock. Make this the backup power source for a district plant heat pump, with wind or solar as the primary source, and that might be a pretty good plan.

Is Glenn Beck A Secret Treehugger?

This was interesting... it reveals what we should already have known and understood. Glen Beck is, first and foremost, an entertainer. He has an audience. When in front of them, he performs. Away from the camera, he is a human being, and from what we know has a family. For the sake of his children he may even be concerned with Planet Earth.

Maybe Rush Limbaugh is concerned... hmm... on second thought... no.

Hope springs eternal. It is just that eternity is such a l o n g time.



I had a brief opportunity to visit one on one with Glenn Beck last September. I knew I was going to meet him so did a little research on him before hand. Found an interview he had done a May 23, 2008 with Boone Pickens so asked him about it. Here is an excerpt:

I (Glen Beck) said, so wait a minute, you believe that we're going to hit $150 a barrel this year. He said yes. We got off the air -- this was in the first break. We got off the air and I said, so Boone, $150 a barrel by the end of this year, when does this break the back of the economy? And he looked at me dead serious and with all soberness and said, we're there. He said, we're at an emergency. He said, just, nobody will talk about it. Nobody will recognize it. Nobody will say it. We're at a full-fledged energy emergency right now. He said, we need an Eisenhower highway project. We need somebody with vision. I said, so wait a minute. Why is it that the people that we have in power aren't going there? He said, I have no idea.


So, after we talked about this interview he asked me if I believed in peak oil "theory." I said, of course and suggested that he and FOX network needed to give this topic some coverage. I then handed him a copy of the Cantarell oil depletion curve to take with him and study.

It was a brief but fun meeting. Hope he took it to heart.

Beck does seem like he's peak oil aware. Though of course, he expects technology to save us. Or at least says that in public.

Yes, I had seen that before. It is quite the story.

Yes, I think it's clear Glenn Beck doesn't believe most of what he says. He's been pretty upfront about it, at least when he's off-stage. I mentioned this years ago - there's an interview from his radio days, where he talks about how he has to explain to his children that what he says on the air isn't true. (His daughter was upset because he said he loved pollution.)

The last time I saw Glenn Beck was on MSNBC. I haven't watched Fox Opinions now for 7 years. He was responding to a push to get the Polar bear on the endangered list due to global warming. He said, "You know what we should do? We should kill them all and make hamburger meat out of them." He then continued to rant on about his hatred of Polar bears - they're complete lack of any value whatsoever to our planet, etc.

That's when I stopped listening to anything he had to say. Sure, maybe he is peak oil aware, but who cares?

So in other words, he's a hypocritical lying sack of s**t, willing to cheer on all the wrong policies in order to make a buck, even though he doesn't believe in it. What a jerk. If he was my father, I'd be very, very ashamed.

Well put.

$$$ ... along with fame... and for some come power.

He's actor, getting paid for doing a job.

Many of us are in the same boat - working for industries we don't really believe in, keeping our money in banks we think are crooked, supporting companies with our dollars even though we know they're harming the planet.

Who knows? Maybe something good will come of it. Beck might be able to convince his viewers that peak oil really is a problem, when nothing Richard Heinberg or Matt Simmons says would make a dent.

My point exactly. And, unless there is a buck in it for him, who thinks Beck will say anything on the air about it?


Beck might be able to convince his viewers that peak oil really is a problem, when nothing Richard Heinberg or Matt Simmons says would make a dent.

Leanan, above you wrote:

Beck does seem like he's peak oil aware. Though of course, he expects technology to save us. Or at least says that in public.

He says either that PO is a problem or that technology will save us. If he says that PO is a problem no one listens, if he says that technology comes to the rescue then it is a reason to party on; the EV fleet, etc. will be there, soon.

I think Beck understands that you cannot point to a problem without offering a solution.

I don't think he'll point to a problem when the solution is not in his personal interest. He likely assumes that his money will provide a safe haven for his progeny.

"...his money will provide a safe haven for his progeny"

This attitude is exactly the one that will guarantee the worst possible outcome guaranteeing that no one will have safe haven.

The sooner we come to terms with this the sooner we can get down to the real work that needs to be done. .......or not.

Of course money can buy safety. Store some food, water, and fuel at a remote Montana complex while arming yourself with firearms as well. Perhaps even pay some people to guard you as well.

You won't be safe in San Francisco if things get dicey, but you'll be safe in a compound in rural USA. You will never have everyone living in a safe haven.

I have given this concept of safety in a compound a lot of thought.

Unless there is a leader able to establish and maintain military discipline it prpbably won't work for very long, and even if it does work it is apt to degenerate into a micro police state within a little while.

It will take a very large compound to maintain itself in even a minimal state of civilization for more than a couple of years.Lots of people with lots of skills are needed once the stockpiled goods start running low.

I don't think it would work, either. And it's not something even considered outside of the US and perhaps some in the UK. It seems to be an American fantasy.

I think Beck understands that you cannot point to a problem without offering a solution.

Well, there's your problem right there. ^_^

Anyhow Leanan, most people have forgotten it the next day.

Economically he's as doomerish as anybody here. His audience "gets" the problems with cheap money, bubbles, inflated real estate, coming commercial real estate issues, long-term value of getting out of debt for deflation and having some inflation-proof assets.

Most (probably not all) of the "outrageous" statements have some sarcasm. He has good guests, and sometimes takes opposing tacks to stimulate discussions (and arguments - this is TV).

All in all, I think his message with a lot of shtick is more valuable than daily news with a flat BAU spin.

Peak Oil and Climate Change if you accept it means a complete 180 on the fundamentals of 'why' and 'what for'.

Roger Ailes tells Glenn Beck what to say and what to think, which is intended to mislead the Great American Public.

A boy began preaching in either France or Germany claiming that he had been visited by Jesus and told to lead a Crusade to peacefully convert Muslims to Christianity. Through a series of supposed portents and miracles he gained a considerable following, including possibly as many as 30,000 children. He led his followers south towards the Mediterranean Sea, in the belief that the sea would part on their arrival, allowing him and his followers to march to Jerusalem, but this did not happen. Two merchants gave "free" passage on boats to as many of the crusading poor (which most likely included a minimal number of children) as were willing. They were then either taken to Tunisia and sold into slavery, or died in a shipwreck on San Pietro Island off Sardinia during a gale. According to most accounts, many of the poor and elderly failed to reach the sea before dying or giving up from starvation and exhaustion.



poor little kid

Glenn Beck? I wouldn't give him the time of day! Much less buy any of his books. except to burn and keep warm. He's a hack.

The best place for your worst enemy is where you can keep a very close eye on him.

I might mention tongue in cheek some politicians who put thie opposition into thier administrations instead of out on the road as exiles- but where they could be campaigning , too.

every body should tune in to Beck and people of his sort once in a while and get a little first hand knowledge of what they are saying and advocating.Second hand info is devoid of nuance and almost always distrts whatever info is actually gotten across.

If the average poster here would actually listen to Beck or Limbaugh , etc, once in a while, he would have a much more detailed and sharply defined knowledge of the day to day reality of American politics-and knowledge is always power.

good points. This can be pretty scary too. I have seen first hand how he is treated as a rock star in some corners.

Pebble-bed nuclear reactor gets pulled

Runaway costs and technical problems helped to doom the project, says Thomas. "In 1998, they were saying that they would have the demo plant online in 2003" at a cost of 2 billion rands, he says. "The final estimate was that the demo plant would be online in 2018 and it would cost 30 billion rands." Furthermore, he adds, the PBMR has never been held to account for why costs rose every year, why the completion date was continually pushed back or the nature of its design problems.

In a final twist, the PBMR announced last year that it was indefinitely shelving plans to build a demonstration plant. The programme's demise will not help South Africa's goal of doubling its 35,000-megawatt power-generating capacity by 2025.

One problem was that the design became too ambitious, says John Walmsley, past president of the South African branch of the Nuclear Institute, a professional society for nuclear engineers. The PBMR hoped to push the reactor's operating temperature as high as possible to enable not just electricity generation, but also 'process heat' applications such as turning coal into liquid fuels, he says. It also aimed to boost the power output to the very limits of the design to make the reactor more economical. "They tried to build a BMW when they maybe should have started with a Morris Minor," he says.

When we don't have much time to figure things out, the tendency is to skip steps that really need to be done. It sounds like that is what happened here.

I sometimes wonder if there will be a day when people look back and decide that the defining actions of the Carter and Reagan administrations were the effective shutting down of US research on reactors and supporting infrastructure.

I continue to have a very difficult time making up my mind about nuclear. Reliable base load electricity for centuries? Too dirty and dangerous to bother with? The one thing that I do feel fairly certain about is that a thermal-neutron once-through fuel cycle is a dead end. Various Carter and Reagan decisions locked us onto that path, not just for the last 30 years, but for at least another decade, and possibly longer, to come. Reactor research, at least the last jump to an actual working prototype for questions that can't be answered any other way, is too expensive for private companies to fund.

There are lots of interesting designs on paper with desirable characteristics -- factory-built, modular, fast-neutron, passively safe from runaway reactions. But they're just paper.

On Vermont Yankee - http://www.democracynow.org/2010/2/24/in_historic_vote_vermont_poised_to

ARNIE GUNDERSEN: ... the state asked the oversight panel to specifically look at underground pipe. That was one of the seven systems that they wanted—the state wanted us to look at. The contractor for the state inquired of Entergy, and they were told they had no underground pipes and that, in fact, there were none. So the issues related to leaking underground pipes that have been around the nation appeared to the panel to not apply to Vermont Yankee.

After that, we published a report, and this—over a period of eighteen months, there was plenty of opportunity to change the record. Entergy executives testified under oath that they had no underground pipes. And then I discovered—in my role as a contractor to the state legislature, I discovered that there really were underground pipes. I wrote to Entergy, and I said, “Do we have a misunderstanding here?” And they wrote back, “No, there’s no underground pipes.” That was last year; that was in August of last year.

Then I testified twice to the legislature in October. I told them there’s really underground pipes here, and we were mistaken when we wrote to you. And again, Entergy did nothing. And then, of course, in January, the pipe leaked, and it was obvious that there really were underground pipes.

I have a bachelor’s and a master’s in nuclear. I was a licensed reactor operator, was a senior vice president of a nuclear firm. And I discovered some license violations. This is twenty years ago. I told the president about them, president of the company, and he fired me. I then contacted John Glenn and my local senator, Senator John Glenn, about the license violations. And the Nuclear Regulatory Commission came in and found no violations. John Glenn then had the inspector general come in, and they found seven violations and found that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had been taking illegal gratuities from my employer.

... what could POSSIBLY go wrong?

Sometimes it makes you catch your breath, eh Jokuhl? Oh, those WTF minutes!


The Vermont Yankee reactor is a terrific example. It went online in 1972, so the design was licensed in the mid- or late-1960s. There are a growing number of problems here at the end of its original design lifetime: partial cooling tower collapse, tritium leakage from in-ground pipes, etc. Large volume of spent fuel in above-ground dry-cask storage because there's no long-term waste storage facility. There's a very strong argument that it's time to shut it down and decommission completely, rather than granting any extensions of the license.

Here we are, 40 years later, and there's no US-licensed nuclear technology available that would be an obviously sane replacement. As I said, lots of paper designs, but none that are ready to roll. Some of the features that I think are critical (YMMV) include:

  • Fast-neutron spectrum to reduce/eliminate on-site refueling intervals, to greatly reduce waste volume, and to get rid of water as a primary coolant
  • Modular size
  • Factory construction for increased QC
  • Passive safety -- core meltdown physically impossible

And the thing that worries me about this is not even the technical hurdles. I'm actually quite sure we could get around most of them.. what we can't get around is that when you have this much power in one place, it seems to create the perfect conditions to justify lying and covering up any possible, potential or proven problems. That's what the above examples from Vermont say to me.

It's a perfectly situated power source to allow leaks and decay to go unchecked and actively obscured.

'Absolute Power corrupting, absolutely!'

On a bleak and dreary day with lots of new snow across the land, Here's a little humor from the Onion...

E. Swanson

From the article on top:

“The inter-twining of oil and water is something we all missed,” he told the Marsh National Oil Companies Conference yesterday in Dubai.

This is not so. Last year this was allready published in 'Nature'. And it is better to say: fossil energy and water is inter-twined.

If you missed the webcast of Cal Tech's Nathan Lewis' presentation, you can see earlier versions of the same talk at:
He's given this talk to over 100,000 people over the past 6 years.
He's brilliant and well worth hearing.

On a related note, there are some other energy-related lectures posted at

Bribes Let Tomato Vendor Sell Tainted Food

Robert Watson, a top ingredient buyer for Kraft Foods, needed $20,000 to pay his taxes. So he called a broker for a California tomato processor that for years had been paying him bribes to get its products into Kraft’s plants.

The check would soon be in the mail, the broker promised. “We’ll have to deduct it out of your commissions as we move forward,” he said, using a euphemism for bribes.

Days later, federal agents descended on Kraft’s offices near Chicago and confronted Mr. Watson. He admitted his role in a bribery scheme that has laid bare a startling vein of corruption in the food industry. And because the scheme also involved millions of pounds of tomato products with high levels of mold or other defects, the case has raised serious questions about how well food manufacturers safeguard the quality of their ingredients.

It's funny. I'm still basically startled to hear these stories.

I am cynical, I really am! But Tomatoes? Man..

We get a vast majority of our food locally now, and grow what we can. (But don't can what we grow.. not just yet) We've really just sprouted a system that simply depends upon lying and cheapening whatever we touch.

Just peachy. Why am I not surprised?

If you are not doing business that way in this current invoronment then you are risking going out of business.

Ain't it a beautiful world.

Just saw a blurb on Bloomberg that Exxon exploration losses tripled on soaring costs. Does anyone have any details? It showed up once, and vanished. Nothing on Bloomberg.com either.


Craig -- couldn't find that story but found a few others: "America's largest oil company, Exxon Mobil Corp., has posted a 23 percent fall in profits but the result was slightly better than Wall St. feared as losses in its refining arm were offset by a boost in exploration thanks to a hike in natural gas projects." Other than a story about XOM and others being stuck with expensive drilling rig contracts the general theme re: exploration was positive. In fact, the latest increase in oil/NG prices pushed results higher then expected which helped offset refinery losses.

March 11 is their 2010 Analyst Meeting.


It will be a 3 hour presentation. Maybe this will be covered. I'mi about to write to Bloomberg about their news item, though. Wierd


Rockman, my face is red! That was Chevron, not Exxon. Otherwise same story.


No problamo Craig. WRT exploration profitability I would offer that you take any number with a big grain of salt. Such profitability is a very difficult number to come up with even internally. And to offer such a parameter as a yearly number actually defies logic. I.E. I spend $100 million this year (1Y) doing exploration drilling and find $300 million of future revenue (based upon a specific future price assumption as well as assuming my estimate of reserves is correct). But that income will be stretched over 6 or 8 years. But what is my profit for 1Y? One answer is income - expenses. So if I spend $100 million in 1Y but only have an income of $50 did I lose $50 that year? But the wells I drilled to generate that $50 million in 1Y income will also generate a total income of $300 million from my original investment of $100 million. So I make 300% on my money but post a $50 million loss for 1Y? And that example doesn't begin to take into account all the other accounting requirements such as depreciation, etc. So if Bloomberg says Chevron loss $5 billion or made $3 billion last year I honestly don't know what that really means.

Re: Bill McKibben: Why It's the O.J. Moment of the 21st Century

McKibben's commentary gives a clear picture of the "lawyer science" which the denialist camp has used to great effect to spread disinformation about the scientific basis of AGW. As it turns out, Inhofe's staff just released another blast in time for the latest Senate hear, focusing on the release of the CRU e-mails, which they call "Climate Gate". In the spirit of open discussion, here's a link to this "report". It's an 85 page long PDF, but most is just sections cherry picked from the batch of e-mails presented to bolster the denialist side of the "case".

As McKibben notes, these guys have become very good at manipulating public opinion...

E. Swanson

I agree that the swine are good at it. But the fact is that they've got the easier row to hoe. The explicit and implicit message of AGW scientists requires people to assume personal responsibility for the wellbeing of their environment and to demand well-directed collective action from government. The faux-conservatives of America, and elsewhere, are not really interested in the spreading the idea of personal responsibility, as it carries a revolutionary potential that threatens corporatism. Their talk of personal responsibility is always aimed at some selected group of 'losers'.

Likewise, faux-conservatives are not interested in government that functions in the public interest. They champion small government, even as they systematically erode individual liberty using the state apparatus and by unfettering the corporate interest they serve.

Good article, though I thought he might have used a better metaphor. But maybe it does portray the polarization on the issue.

Fish eggs just arrived, got to get out to "hatch" them. The wonders of FF transport.

Personally, I don't believe comparing a double murder to people who do not believe that AGW is a crisis is fair or advances the AGW cause.

In my experience in life, those who resort to name calling instead of more mature ways of persuasion are not to be trusted.

Even when it's more than likely that AGW is going to be more like BioCide than mere Homocide?

Besides, his comparison was of people who are gaming a publicized issue.. he wasn't calling them murderers, just liars and obfuscators. Kinda like Bernie Sanders the other day, who compared Climate Deniers to those in Congress who refused to accept that Hitler was a growing threat. Yes, it's a little clumsy to invoke the Nazis again.. but the comparison is actually no less apt.. just because it's fairly harsh.

JMG's current essay (linked at top) is pretty good today. As someone who has taught college courses in Energy, and in Sustainability, I will attest to the fact that it's really tough to get people to grasp Thermodynamics. JMG does a decent job in this essay.

well, all our problems concerning peak oil can be solved by reducing wages and benefits of workers and eliminating soc sec.

more profits towards the elites.

i'm trying to get paid more than $15 per hour so i must pander to TPTB, BAU crowd.

"China is heavily dependent on the export markets because there is no domestic market at the moment," Frank Haugwitz, a China-based renewable energy consultant, told the German Press Agency dpa.

Many small-scale schemes are under development to feed into provincial grids or cover urban rooftops, but they are unlikely to have any immediate impact on the overall pattern of energy consumption, Haugwitz said.

"PV even in the mid-term won't make a difference unless costs come down so much that they just cover whole areas [with solar panels]," he said."

lots more in depth look at pros and cons of china,inc viz-a-viz
world solar market.

i always say the sweet spot for solar PV is 10KW installed for $25,000 with no rebate. that's what we need. but...if we didnt spend trillions of $$$ on war we could do it now for a fraction of the current military budget.

oops! just blew my troll contract with TPTB BAU crowd.

guess i'll have to dig out of a foot of snow and head back to the factory with no medicial, no pension, short vacation, a few holidays and lots and lots of taxes to bail out gold man sacks.

but, i gots the "cat" stove cooking. so even if the grid goes out i wont freeze.

"no one gets out of here alive"-greetings from the humungus

"it's all good"-anon.

sorry to have to post two comments in one day but i am trying to pander to TPTB BAU crowd.

we need to reduce wages and benefits of workers and eliminate soc. sec.

all profits go to the elites. it's the only course of action that will advert PO.

to wit:
"Desperation on the factory floor
Blue-collar workers hanging on by thread
Charlie LeDuff / The Detroit News

Garden City -- They arrive at work at 7:25 a.m. and many of their cars are rusting buckets of crud. Except for the boss's. He drives a Volvo.

Walk in the door at Schaefer Screw Products and there is the enemy -- the clock. The oil vapors and solvents are overwhelming. The yellow light is dispiriting. The workers don't want to be here. The liquor bottles in the weedy lot out back tell part of the story. The graffiti in the bathroom -- profanely denouncing "hard workers" -- tells the rest. "

"it's all good"-anon.

"In today's America, a human being is cheaper than a machine in the short run."

Interesting quote.

Re: John Michael Greer: Energy follows its bliss, whatever that means, up top.

Bliss is a state of extreme happiness. If I understand what the title says, Greer is saying that an abstraction, energy, follows a state of extreme happiness. The guy is nuts.

From Wikipedia:

John Michael Greer (b. 1962 in Bremerton, Washington) is an American author, independent scholar, historian of ideas, cultural critic, Neo-druid leader, Hermeticist, environmentalist/conservationist, blogger, novelist, and occultist/esotericist who currently (2009) resides in Cumberland, Maryland after living in Ashland, Oregon for a number of years. He was raised in a nonreligious family. Greer graduated from Western Washington University in 1983, and from the University of Washington with an B.A. in the Comparative History of Ideas in 1993. He currently serves as the Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America, a position he has held since 2002. [1]

His first book, Paths of Wisdom, a study of the Golden Dawn system of Qabalah, was published in 1996. Greer has since written, edited, and/or translated many other books on numerous subjects and topics, including multiple encyclopedias.

Greer also studies and practices various forms of Asian mysticism (Tai Chi Chuan, Nei gung, etc), Tarot, sacred geometry, and similarly esoteric practices; he is one of 21st Century America's most noted occultists. He is also an organic gardener.

Some of Greer's more recent books include an exploration of UFO phenomena, multiple titles on Druidism and Western esoterica, along with the predicted overall effects of the post-industrial age and associated resource depletion on human culture in the future. Greer has also written extensively about "peak oil" and other forms of expected resource shortages which he believes will eventually bring about fundamental changes in many societies around the world for generations to come.

Abstractions can not have human feelings, let alone follow them. Greer claims a deficit of logic in energy analysis but the article shows he knows little about logic himself. It is full of analogy which is a very weak form of logic and is only true if the things compared in the analogy are very much alike.

He commits the reification fallacy which is when an abstraction like energy is treated as though it were concrete.
Energy is a name we give to various of forms of energy, just like grain is a name we give to various forms of grain and metal is the name we give to various forms of metal. Grain does not exist except in its various forms nor does metal.

An ill defined abstraction can not be the basis for evaluating concreta such as forms of energy, grain or metal.

It would be as though we judged the value of gold based on metal return on metal invested in which case no gold would be mined. Or in the case of grain the only form grown would be corn since the grain return on grain invested is highest for corn.

The article goes on with outright misstatements (lies) such as this: "all things considered, growing corn and turning it into ethanol uses more energy than you get back from burning the ethanol". Even if it were true it does not matter. The gain from ethanol is not in "energy" in/out but in an increase in utility and in economic gain. Electricity is even more negative in the fallacious energy in/out nonsense than ethanol. Why not take that on?

Is it because electricity is so well established that it can not be questioned? Ethanol is a partial solution to Peak Oil in that it is a form of energy that can be used by the structural mandate of vehicles on the road and the current distribution system with relatively inexpensive modifications. It is hardly in a bust situation. Ethanol production is reaching new all time highs despite bankruptcies of many plants.

These plants have been often purchased by oil companies who are dealing with their own profit problems brought on by expensive crude and falling demand for refined products. Does that mean oil is a bust? I don't think so.

John Michael Greer should stick to his analysis of UFOs. It more suits his qualifications and his fascination with the occult. He doesn't know beans about ethanol or energy for that matter.

You don't understand, because you are an a**. JMG was making a metaphor, sort of making a play on James Campbell's thing. Come on, don't you understand metaphor? Do you honestly thing Greer was attributing emotions to energy? If you do, you are weird, if you don't, you are a troll.

He knows a lot more about energy, ethanol, and probably anything else than you do.

Your analysis of the energy relations of ethanol is demented. You've been hammering on it for months here, but it's still demented. Repetition will not remedy that. Give it up. EROEI matters.

I think that aside from JMG's extremely unfortunate metaphor about energy following it's bliss, he wrote a very good piece that covers a lot of misconceptions about energy.

A very good piece. The "energy following its bliss" was just a turn of phrase playing off of James Campbell's writings, and I didn't find it unfortunate at all. JMG's writing style tends to assume a certain level of literacy among his readers.

It was a very nice presentation of the Laws of Thermodynamics, which some folks here still seem to think don't apply.

Campbell's "follow your own bliss" was his version of "do your own thing", or "follow your nose". Energy definitely does it's own thing. Too few people followed Campbell.

For the uninitiated, "The Power of Myth" (in print and on video) is a powerful/useful perspective.

All agreed.

It's Joseph Campbell by the way, but otherwise, all good. 'Follow your Bliss' means find your essential nature and don't stray. 'To thine own self be true', as it were, and is of course a nice way to help humans see how a Physical Principle like 'Energy' has little choice BUT to do so.

X is not a troll, but he's sure a character.

Campbell also said in 'The Power of Myth' that 'We don't want to know the MEANING OF LIFE, We want to know we've had the EXPERIENCE of being alive' .. and mythology is a psychological and sociological tool for connecting our own experiences to those of our people. His writings are a great way of looking at how Myth and Religion serve people and societies.. but I'll leave it at that, for tonight.



Where to begin?

First of all, GROGI is important. If your grains returned on grains invested is less than 1, you can't run a grain based society using that process. That doesn't mean that 100% of your grain investments need to be in the highest GROGI area.

Second, yes creation of electricity has EROEI of less than one. That means that you can't run a society by using electricity to run generators to generate electricity, which is exactly what JMG pointed out in his post. Again, this doesn't mean that you will never want to generate electricity.

Third, corn ethanol has an EROEI of what? It has been debated before, as I recall estimates are from 0.77 to 1.67. What does this mean? Generally, it means that at the low end, you can't run a society on corn ethanol. At the high end, it means you could, if you devoted 60% of your resources to ethanol production and if there were no other limitations to ethanol production (land, water, etc.).

Given the non-energy inputs to ethanol, you would need to find a way of eating that didn't interfere with the inputs of your ethanol industry.

Consumer, you are wasting your time. Facts, numbers, reality... mean nothing to x.

There is nowhere to begin and there is no end. X chooses mysticism over science and there is nothing we can do about that. The fallacy, pointed out by many others besides Greer, is that we as a society seem to assume that entropy doesn't apply, that we will just find real true substitutes for fossil fuels, that we can just go on as before but with clean, green, infinitely renewable fuels that are spontaneously generated by fairies.

In the fantasy world we live in, we just simply ramp up alternative energy and we can continue as before. This is a recipe for guaranteed disaster as opposed to probable disaster.

GROGI, I like that. Let's ferment it and drink to it...

Too early in the day-no coon juice until after 5pm allowed here.

X does have a point-he just doesn't know how to express it very well. A good bit of the energy going into producing corn ethanol is in the raw form of ng and coal, which are not nearly as valuable in terms of dollars at this time per unit of energy-joule or btu or whatever units-as the same number of units in a liquid fuel readily sable in the existing built infrastructure.

This is the point he is trying to get across about electricity-in very simple terms, more energy IS used to produce electricity than the electricity returns when it is used.We are happy to waste ng and coal btus however because electricity IS a VERY USEFUL much more useful form of energy, and electrical joules are several times as valuable in many applications as coal or ng btus- all this within the context of our current built infrastructure, of course.And then here is the matter of the leftovers, which are quite valuable as livestock feed and help offset the necessary production( assuming we want to keep on eating lots of meat) of corn used whole for feed.

So it all makes sense, excepting the subsidies, from a BUSINESS POV,especially if your busness is corn.Electricity makes sense from a business pov, but it leaks energy like a sieve during it's production and transmission, and more is lost during it's actual use in most applications.My laptop is keeping my lap warm at this very instant..There is no way I could be bothered with pumping my water with anything except an electrically powered pump-nothing else makes economic sense, within the current context of bau.

Of course if one expands the envelope of his thinking to the size of the one nearly everybody here is accustomed to,corn ethanol fails to make sense for reasons that have been repeated so many times repeating them again can't possibly help.

X's envelope is limited to what they teach in business school.If delivered propane were to fall back to fifty cents a gallon he would take his corn stove to the flea market.

He is smart enough within the context of what he knows.


You think he is a nut because he disagrees with you. Anyway, follow your bliss. His basic point is that we are running out of easily available concentrated energy, hardly nutty. This point will become increasingly less abstract as we are required to do more and more of our work with muscle power. If you have a quibble with his explanation of the 2nd law, then point it out so all the physicists here can debate it.

With Greer, I do occasionally wonder, what was he thinking, but that treatment of the 2nd law is about the most lucid non-mathematical explanation I've seen in a very long time. I'd recommend it as an intuitive guide to anyone who finds the mathematics baffling. (As the next intuitive step, think of temperature, or in some cases "effective temperature", as a way to measure how "concentrated", to use Greer's word, energy is.)

Also, do note that X's point of view seems to have shifted, softly, softly, subtly, subtly:

The gain from ethanol is not in "energy" in/out but in an increase in utility and in economic gain.

which is consistent with an EROI near to or less than 1 - that is, forget about corn ethanol being a significant way to harvest energy from sunlight. So it only remains to figure out whether the "utility" is really worthwhile, or whether more straightforward coal-to-liquid or gas-to-liquid approaches might provide equal or better "utility" without the (indirect) adverse effect on food supply...

Bliss is a state of extreme happiness. If I understand what the title says, Greer is saying that an abstraction, energy, follows a state of extreme happiness. The guy is nuts.

ROFLMAO. Good gawd, X, you've outdone even yourself. Who wouldda thunk it possible??? Can't you see that this is so ridiculously literal minded that it belongs in a Saturday Night Live skit if anywhere at all???

Oh, and we physicists frequently compare different forms of energy without ever being struck down by the gods of "reification fallacy", too bad about that. Sometimes we use joules as the common unit, sometimes we convert to exergy first, and very occasionally, when we need copious amounts of energy for an experiment or process, we might even convert to - heresy of heresies - dollars since dollars (rather than joules or gallons-oil-equivalent or foot-poundals or kilograms or kilowatt-hours or electron-volts or dynes or watt-seconds or, perish the thought, horsepower-hours) are still what granting agencies (and investors) normally spend. So please find something else to flog for a while, or else figure out a lucid way to tell us what's really bugging you, which remains a complete mystery...

So please find something else to flog for a while, or else figure out a lucid way to tell us what's really bugging you, which remains a complete mystery...

x will rile against anyone who doesn't support ethanol. He is against EROI because it shows how bad ethanol really is, for eg.

The following is the paragraph that ticked off x.

... think most people in the peak oil community are aware by now, for example, that the sweeping plans made for ethanol production from American corn as a solution to petroleum depletion neglected one minor but important detail: all things considered, growing corn and turning it into ethanol uses more energy than you get back from burning the ethanol.

John Michael Greer should stick to his analysis of UFOs.

I agree with you, X--Greer needs to get off his crappy soapbox and take his writing workshop prose elsewhere--but I also think YOU'RE as much of a fruitcake as he is.

In my experience, JMG's writing is insightful and he is one of the best thinkers out there on the topic.

It escapes me how you can't see that. What is your issue with his writing?

Methinks the issue is A small intellectual envelope-make that box instead.

This is a very common problem-lots of very sharp people here in this forum are unable to see Atlas Shrugged as a novel which explores ideas rather than as an engineering drawing intended to be translated into reality.

And even if Rand did believe that her vision should be the new reality, the book is still JUST A NOVEL.

Beware the literal minded when attempting to communicate.

I won't comment on X's reaction to JMG on energy, which has been adequately replied-to by others in this thread. Just a short one on the "UFO analysis": JMG was not analyzing UFOs, but rather, people's belief in UFOs, which is actually a far more interesting and fertile ground for exploration.

A substantial portion of the population has a seemingly deep-seated and unshakable belief that aliens are flying around the skies of our planet in alien-built craft far surpassing our science. Similarly, a substantial portion of the population (not necessarily the same) believes that the earth is barely 6000 years old, that there are angels amongst us, and so on.

How people acquire and hold onto these beliefs in the absence of factual corroborating evidence is a deep and important topic for investigation. In fact, it's highly pertinent to any discussion of Peak Oil and Climate Change - as Nate Hagens and others have explored on these forums and others. Why do people believe what they believe? It's one of the most important questions we can ask. A lot rides on the answers - and whether it's possible to do anything about it.

Dick Lawrence

Re: "Petrobras makes double find" (40 million barrels and 25 million barrels) Am I missing something here? This is around one day's supply of oil for the world at current consumption rates. Why is this news?

The really important point is that - even such small finds are now news.

This finds I read yesterday on Bloomberg channel. Without mentioning the quantities.
40 million is 'nothing'. Sure it is not billion instead of million ?


"January, according to satellite (data), was the hottest January we've ever seen," said Nicholls of Monash University's School of Geography and Environmental Science in Melbourne.

"Last November was the hottest November we've ever seen, November-January as a whole is the hottest November-January the world has seen," he said of the satellite data record since 1979.

Yeah, but what about all that cold weather?, you ask.

Scientists say global warming is not uniform in all areas and that climate models predict there will likely be greater extremes of cold and heat, floods and droughts.

Think all that climategate and himalayan mistake bit changes the situation?

The scientists also defended the U.N. climate panel after it came under attack for including an error about the estimated thaw of Himalayan glaciers in a major 2007 report.

Think China will help reduce CO2 emissions?


BEIJING (AFP) – China's top climate change negotiator has said the world's biggest carbon polluter has no intention of capping greenhouse gas emissions for the time being, state media reported Thursday.

Su Wei, who led China's negotiating team at the UN climate change talks in Copenhagen in December, said the country's carbon emissions had to increase because the economy was still developing, the China Daily said.

Guess we're going down that road to wherever it leads us...

Concerning John Petersen's article, Why I Don't Expect a Lithium-Ion Battery Glut, some of his assumptions about PHEV's are dubious.

The Volt can be charged from a 120 VAC or 220 VAC outlet making the extra cost of a 220 VAC outlet unnecessary. 120 VAC at 15 A is plenty of power to charge a 16 kWhr battery overnight, especially when it will be cycled between about 30% and 80% of capacity. Recharging only requires about 8 kWhr for 40 miles.

Assuming gasoline will cost $3 / gallon and be readily available is suspect. There may be several oil price shocks during the next 20 years as crude oil exports head toward zero according to Export Land Model. A PHEV will continue driving locally while ICE cars and parallel hybrids are stranded at empty gasoline pumps. The successful sales of PHEV's will depend on the price and availability of liquid fuel.

Last I read the Volt is loaded with options to drive its price up allowing GM to make profit. The cost of the battery may decline eventually. A smaller battery, say, providing a range of 20 miles, could be used to lower the price. I think GM is initially targeting the high end consumer to repay its R&D as quickly as possible. If automobile manufacturers are serious about making PHEV's successful, then they will do these types of things to make them more affordable.

Yes, there are other considerations that make PHEV's interesting...gasoline shortages being a big one.