Drumbeat: March 2, 2010

Food security tests Africa’s unity agenda

An immediate paradox is the reality that we continue to face hunger and poverty in a context where large tracks of agricultural land remain under- and unused.

A second and related paradox is that, we are witness to a situation where many of our farmers are moving from the growing of staple foods to the production of high-value agricultural products for export, including bio-fuel, hence forcing many countries to import basic and staple agricultural products.

Losses wipe out equity of Mexico's Pemex

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The equity in Mexico's state oil monopoly Pemex was wiped out in the final quarter of 2009 as losses on refined product sales, lower crude output and high taxes offset higher crude prices.

Pemex said on Monday it lost 16.6 billion pesos ($1.3 billion) in the fourth quarter of 2009, pushing the full year loss up to 46.1 billion pesos.

Pemex Closes Two Crude Oil Export Terminals in Gulf

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos closed its largest and smallest oil export terminals in the Gulf of Mexico because of heavy rain and winds.

India Fuel Exports Rise on Increasing Shipments to U.S., Japan

(Bloomberg) -- Bookings of tankers to export fuels from India’s west coast, the home of two Reliance Industries Ltd. refineries, rose in February as India sold more gasoline to the U.S. and Japan.

Senators Seek Change in Alaska's O&G Structure

A two-week study of Alaska's oil and gas tax structure has convinced some state senators that the Legislature needs to act fast to change the system or risk the plundering of state riches.

The cost of doing nothing is "colossal," up to $2 billion in lost revenue a year under some scenarios, says Sen. Bert Stedman, a Republican from Sitka who co-chairs the Senate Finance Committee. He's been holding hearings for two weeks on Alaska's oil and gas tax system, and on Friday said he's preparing legislation to settle the issue before the session ends in April.

Gazprom May Reduce 50% South Stream Stake, Allowing EDF Entry

(Bloomberg) -- OAO Gazprom, an equal partner with Italy’s Eni SpA in the South Stream natural-gas pipeline project, may reduce its stake to allow Electricite de France SA to buy shares in the venture.

BP Deal to Expand US Shale-Gas Operations - Sources

BP PLC is expected to announce Tuesday an expansion of its U.S. shale-gas operations through a joint-venture deal in Texas with privately held Lewis Energy Group worth at least $160 million, people familiar with the situation said.

Oil production helps community escape recession

Oil production in North Dakota has helped a run-down area get through a tough economic climate.

Unemployment in the state was five percentage points below the US average in December, at 4.3 per cent, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Local ranchers have been turned into millionaires by selling oil companies access to oil underneath their properties.

In some areas of North Dakota the oil production has even created a labour shortage. In Dickinson, McDonald's has been offering people $300 in bonuses when they sign to work for the food giant.

Kenya: Paper mill recovery hinges on cheaper energy

The previous management that abandoned the factory when creditors came knocking put its power costs at 33 per cent of the total operational costs.

This is the highest single operational cost and does not even factor in the heavy diesel the company uses to run some of its boilers.

Ethiopia: Fuel Shortage Mystery Plagues Drivers

The delayed delivery of ethanol might have caused the petrol shortage in Addis Abeba during most of last week, although power failures shared the blame at some places.

New no. 1? Ford sales top GM

Ford reported a 43% jump in sales compared to a year earlier, which was the worst month for the industry in 19 years. It topped the forecasts of sales tracker Edmunds.com, which had estimated a 35% increase. Ford's results were also up 22% compared to January.

Consumerism 'doomed', investment forum told

Western governments may not realise it yet, but consumerism as we know it is doomed and resource war with China inevitable, the world’s biggest fund managers were told yesterday.

The unsettling message, which focuses on the potentially destabilising shortfall of the rare “technology metals” used in everything from mobile phones to guided missiles, was issued in Tokyo yesterday at the close of one of Asia’s largest annual investment forums.

Are America’s Fears of a Greentech Race with China Unfounded?

While some U.S. politicians and commentators still paint China as the global pollution villain, especially after the disappointing outcome at Copenhagen, others are beginning to take green China seriously — as a threat. Last fall, for instance, when Senator Charles Schumer got wind of a planned wind farm in west Texas, announced by a partnership of American and Chinese companies, that would use some wind equipment made in China and potentially create new jobs across the Pacific, he recommended blocking stimulus money from the project, rather than help boost green China. The stimulus money “is supposed to create jobs in America,” he wrote in a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu. (The new wind farm would also have created 300 jobs in Texas, but Schumer was worried that a greater number could be created in China.)

Climate debate missing the point

My considered view is that nuclear power will end up forming the backbone of any effective real-world clean energy plan, but I’d be just as happy if other prospective technologies, such as concentrating solar power or enhanced geothermal systems, are able to take a major role.

Yet, even if you disagree with my plan (or anyone else’s for that matter), you shouldn’t seek to ‘block’ any qualifying technology. And if you wish people to take your plan seriously, you must be prepared to tell them how much it will likely cost, what sort of support it will need to be put into action, and consider its implications for electricity grid stability, energy storage and sustainability.

Israel to review nuclear power plant construction

Israel's Atomic Energy Commission and the Israel Electric Corporation signed a deal to develop the infrastructure needed to construct nuclear power plants, Israel Radio reported on Tuesday.

Energy surge

HOW would you like to generate your own electricity, and make money from it? If things go according to plan, the impending introduction of a new feed-in tariff law that is set to revolutionise Malaysia’s renewable energy production will make it easy for everyone to generate renewable electricity and sell it back to the national power grid.

Power plants in private hands contribute to rotating blackouts

MANILA, Philippines – While the privatization of power plants was expected to provide efficiencies that evaded them when they were state-run, the rotational blackouts that hit Luzon on Monday proved otherwise.

Being Ready, in Quake Zones or Snow Zones

A little preparation and training can go a long when when disaster strikes, at any scale.

How the Men Reacted as the Titanic and Lusitania Went Under

Records from two nearly 100-year-old shipwrecks, the Titanic and the Lusitania, have given researchers new insight into human selfishness — and altruism.

On one boat, it seems, the men thought only of themselves; on the other, they were more likely to help women and children. This occurred for one key reason, researchers said: time. The Lusitania sank in about 18 minutes, while the Titanic took nearly three hours. Women and children fared much better on the Titanic.

Shrinking Glaciers Threaten Tajikistan's Economic Dreams

Like many other farmers in the remote village of Barchid, lying in the shadow of Tajikistan's Pamir Mountains, Makbulsho Yakinshoev knows little about issues like greenhouse-gas emissions or global warming.

But the 65-year-old Tajik farmer knows what he sees, and for years he has seen his fruit and vegetable harvests decline as the glacier that looms above his village retreats.

Are you a farmer at heart? Start a ‘Crop Mob’

A growing number of young people are finishing college and resisting the pressure to plunk down in a cube behind a computer. Others skip college altogether—given the spiraling costs involved, it’s hard to blame them—and yearn for meaningful, hands-on work.

Community-scale organic farming has emerged as an attractive profession for such talented, energetic youth. But there are problems with this choice. Hours are long, the pay too often stinks, and land prices remain crushingly high. To top it off, our nation lacks universal health coverage.

Yet youthful zeal to farm abides, and hasn’t let up, as far as I can tell. This is a major asset to the sustainable food movement. As our nation’s million or so active farmers nears retirement age, an emerging generation of landless farmers is rising.

For Pennies, a Disposable Toilet That Could Help Grow Crops

A Swedish entrepreneur is trying to market and sell a biodegradable plastic bag that acts as a single-use toilet for urban slums in the developing world.

Once used, the bag can be knotted and buried, and a layer of urea crystals breaks down the waste into fertilizer, killing off disease-producing pathogens found in feces.

Saudi crude output still down from 2008 - Aramco

KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's oil production is still down compared with 2008, having fallen in 2009, state oil company Saudi Aramco's chief executive was reported as saying on Tuesday.

Oil drilling for production has declined, although exploration activities are increasing, Khalid al-Falih was also quoted as saying in the Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.

CFTC official sees transparency challenge in global energy markets

Energy commodities regulators worldwide will need to move carefully and cooperatively if they expect to make global oil markets more transparent, US Commodity Futures Trading Commission member Scott D. O’Malia said in Tokyo on Feb. 26.

“We have to acknowledge that we’ve witnessed a paradigm shift in the global oil market over the past decade,” he said in remarks to the International Energy Agency and Institute of Energy Economics Japan’s Forum on Global Oil Market Challenges. “The paradigm has shifted in two significant ways…. First, oil is now a financial asset and its price movements are correlated to economic growth. Second, the growth in oil demand is being led by developing nations.”

Avoiding Exxon: The Oil Investment Trap

Two weeks ago, ExxonMobil announced their 2009 reserves replacement. (Simply put, the reserves replacement is the amount of new reserves compared to oil produced.) In 2009, ExxonMobil added 2 billion barrels of oil equivalent to its reserves, replacing 133% of its production during that year.

ExxonMobil — one the world's largest publicly traded oil companies — shouldn't be so quick to gloat. These new reserves aren't easy-to-get from conventional sources, and the reality is that Exxon's saving grace lies in developing unconventional oil, such as oil sands.

In other words, developing those new barrels will be costly.

Venezuela struggles with energy emergency

CARACAS, Venezuela (UPI) -- Venezuelan plans to cut electricity demand amid a looming energy crisis are not feasible for businesses in Caracas, the chamber of commerce said.

Climate Change: "The Great Squeeze"

Hassan Abu Bakr, professor and researcher at Cairo University's faculty of agriculture, led the discussions that followed the film and answered questions posed by the febrile crowd.

The documentary attempted to illustrate how human actions and the excessive use of energy for the past 200 years had led to the consumerist behavior that today threatens our very survival. Since the discovery of fossil fuels that led to the Industrial Revolution, we have embraced a vision whereby the world revolves around oil consumption.

Have we reached an oil peak yet? Some experts say so, while others predict it will happen in the years ahead. However, since the 1960s, the discovery of oil sources has been declining regularly, and, as one of the experts interviewed in the film says, “once we pass this oil peak, no country will be able to get enough oil unless another one gets less.”

War over the Arctic? Global warming skeptics distract us from security risks.

Global warming skeptics must recognize that real - not predicted - climate change is already turning the Arctic into a potential military flash point.

Russia February Output Nears Post-Soviet Record on TNK-BP Gains

(Bloomberg) -- Russia crude production neared a post-Soviet record in February as TNK-BP, the venture owned by BP Plc and a group of billionaires, raised output at new fields in both western and eastern Siberia.

Crude production reached almost 10.08 million barrels a day, a gain of 3.3 percent from a year earlier and 0.2 percent from the previous month, according to preliminary data from the Energy Ministry’s CDU-TEK unit. Output, which has exceeded 10 million barrels a day for six months in a row, was slightly below November’s record.

Oil gains to around $79 amid mixed US data

Oil prices hovered near $79 a barrel Tuesday as investors considered mixed signals about the strength of the U.S. economy and the dollar's fluctuations against the euro.

Demand for OPEC Oil May Drop in 2010 on Weak Economy

(Bloomberg) -- Demand for OPEC crude may drop by 100,000 barrels a day this year as stockpiles are higher than the five-year average and the global economy is weak, the United Arab Emirates oil minister said.

Demand for crude produced by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries could drop this year after last year falling by 2.3 million barrels a day to 28.7 million barrels a day, Mohamed Al-Hamli said in a speech in Abu Dhabi today.

Analysts see the cost of gas rising: ‘There is no legitimate fundamental reason’

It may not make much sense, given that the economy remains weak, but the cost of filling up your car is about to go higher.

Seasonal influences are strong this time of year and account for much of the expected increase that many analysts say will push gasoline to a nationwide average of at least $3 per gallon this spring.

Saudi Arabia Raises April Oil Prices to U.S. on Most Grades

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest state-owned oil company, raised its official selling prices for all crude grades, except Arab heavy, for customers in the U.S. for April, a company official said today.

Enbridge Says Oil Pipelines May Run at Reduced Rates Until 2017

(Bloomberg) -- Enbridge Energy Partners LP, the Houston-based pipeline partnership controlled by Canada’s largest pipeline company, said it may take seven years to fill new crude oil pipelines from Canada to the U.S. because of excess capacity.

“It may be 2017 before we see all the pipes that are being planned to be full,” said Stephen Letwin, managing director of Enbridge Energy Co., the general partner of Enbridge Energy Partners, during an interview at Bloomberg headquarters in New York. “The fact that these pipes are not filling until 2017 is not critical because we know we are going to get our value back.”

'Buy farmland and gold,' advises Dr Doom

The world’s most powerful investors have been advised to buy farmland, stock up on gold and prepare for a “dirty war” by Marc Faber, the notoriously bearish market pundit, who predicted the 1987 stock market crash.

...One of Dr Faber’s darker scenarios involves growing military tension between China and the United States over access to limited oil resources.

Iran plans tenders for eight new blocks

Iran plans to hold tenders soon for eight new oil and gas exploration blocks, Mahmoud Mohadess, head of the exploration office at the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) said today.

BP Aims to Boost Profits by $3 Billion, Forecasts Rising Output

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc, vying with Royal Dutch Shell Plc as Europe’s largest oil company, plans to increase annual pre-tax profitability by $3 billion over the next two to three years by bolstering production and cutting costs.

BP will increase average annual oil and gas output by 1 to 2 percent through 2015, the company said in a annual strategy update today in London. Most of the increased profitability will come from making the refining and marketing business more efficient. The company will centralize exploration and production project management to save money, it said.

Energy exec: Israel could soon export natural gas

TEL AVIV, Israel – A U.S. energy company says Israel's longtime dependence on natural gas imports could soon come to an end.

Noble Energy chief executive Charles D. Davidson said in Tel Aviv on Tuesday that two undersea gas fields his company is developing off Israel's coast are set to become operational in 2012.

Nord Stream to Complete Gas Pipeline Financing Deal This Month

(Bloomberg) -- Nord Stream will complete the financing to build a gas pipeline from Russia directly to western Europe this month, Alexei Miller, chief of OAO Gazprom, the majority shareholder in the project, said.

Iraqi minister says oil deal with Japan failed: report

TOKYO (AFP) – Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani has said that talks over a huge oil development deal with a Japanese energy consortium had broken down, a leading Japanese newspaper reported Tuesday.

Baghdad would "promote the development (in the Nasiriyah oil field) centred around an Iraqi state-owned company", he was quoted as saying by the Asahi Shimbun.

India seeks closer ties with Saudi to fuel recovery

RIYADH (Reuters) – India said it expects its economy to rebound to 9-percent annual growth rates within two years and wants to expand its energy ties with top OPEC exporter Saudi Arabia to help fuel the recovery.

India PM visit to Saudi shows rising security ties

RIYADH (AFP) – Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to oil and regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia has been underpinned by India's thirst for energy, and its need to battle radical Islamists.

The first prime minister to visit Saudi Arabia in 28 years, Singh emphasised New Delhi's direct stake in the various conflicts of the Middle East region and its desire to work with Riyadh on them.

E.ON Said to Consider Sale of U.S. Unit to Trim Debt

(Bloomberg) -- E.ON AG is examining the sale of its U.S.-regulated utility business, valued at about 4 billion euros ($5.4 billion) by analysts, to reduce debt, according to a person briefed on the matter.

BP to quit 5 African states

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Oil major BP Plc said on Tuesday it would pull out of five countries in southern Africa following a strategy review, but would still invest to grow its market share in Mozambique and South Africa.

The company said it plans to sell its marketing businesses in Namibia, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Botswana, but said Mozambique and South Africa offered better synergies with its supply portfolio.

Three reporters seized in Nigeria: police

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria - A South African sports journalist and two Nigerian colleagues have been kidnapped in Nigeria’s restive oil-producing Niger Delta, South African media and a Nigerian police source said on Tuesday.

The South African reports said the three, from the SuperSport satellite channel, were kidnapped near Warri, an oil industry hub, as they headed for the airport on Monday.

Lyondell Said to Reject $14.5 Billion Reliance Bid

(Bloomberg) -- The board of bankrupt LyondellBasell Industries AF rejected a $14.5 billion bid from Reliance Industries Ltd., an oil refiner and explorer controlled by India’s richest man, two people briefed on the matter said.

Abu Dhabi’s IPIC Hires Banks for $2.5 Billion Loan

(Bloomberg) -- International Petroleum Investment Co., the Abu Dhabi government-owned energy investor, hired banks to raise $2.5 billion of loans, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Suncor unveils new tailings pond technology

CALGARY -- Suncor Energy Inc. is moving forward on a new tailings pond technology it believes will rapidly speed up its ability to reclaim the areas of northern Alberta it has strip-mined as it extracts bitumen buried beneath the Earth's surface.

Seismic Effect on Fish Shows Increased Catch in Norway Study

(Bloomberg) -- A study showed limited damage to fish from seismic surveys of oil reserves off Vesteraalen in northern Norway as the country debates whether to open more of its coveted Arctic to petroleum and gas exploration.

The Institute of Marine Research study in some cases even found increased catches of haddock and halibut after the fish were hit by sound waves used to map oil and gas reserves, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said today.

U.S. analyst has two Canadian picks for peak oil

The recession has really taken supply and demand in the energy business – which was quite tight, as we had a rising demand and a flattening supply in the world of 2009 – and turned it around temporarily. The high prices of 2005 and 2008 got a lot of people interested in energy conservation and efficiency, or they ran through the money that they had, which forced them to use less energy. In many poor countries, that's what happened.

Iran's nuclear swap option revived

Yukiya Amano, the new director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has raised hopes that a "confidence-building" plan for a swap of nuclear material between Iran and a third party could still be salvaged.

Shell defends continued focus on fossil fuel - paper

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Plc \Chief Executive Peter Voser defended the oil giant's retreat from some green technologies to concentrate on oil and gas production in an interview with the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Shell withdrew from its solar business because it was not prepared to make the required investments, Voser told the newspaper adding that alternative fuel for cars remained problematic.

EPA Approves World's First 100% Natural Gas 2010 Taxi

ASHEVILLE, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Altech-Eco Corporation of Asheville, North Carolina announced today that they have obtained a Certificate of Conformity (COC) from the EPA for their DEDICATED 2010 Ford Transit Connect compressed natural gas (CNG) conversion system. The “Dedicated” system means that the vehicle runs entirely on 100% natural gas, and needs absolutely zero gasoline ever.

Electric Car Strategy: Follow the Fleet

Like other automakers, Ford Motor Company is betting heavily on electric vehicles as the economy recovers. That decision has been powering the prospects of Azure Dynamics, a company in Oak Park, Mich., that makes electric drive trains and other components for hybrid commercial fleet vehicles like courier vans.

Heat From Power Generation Could Trim U.K.’s 2050 Energy Needs

(Bloomberg) -- Capturing heat from power plants could help reduce Britain’s future generation capacity, projected to exceed 150 gigawatts by 2050, by 13 percent, according to a Combined Heat and Power Association report.

Diversifying the ways heat is supplied and using combined heat and power, or CHP, plants would reduce peak demand, making it easier to manage electricity usage, the report said. Heat represented 41 percent of Britain’s total final energy consumption in 2007.

Chain reaction: The nuclear debate is among the most pressing of our times

Following the precautionary principle, avoiding the construction of more nuclear power stations worldwide is a sensible idea.

But this doesn’t hide the fact the planet is facing an energy crisis. While plenty of alternative and renewable sources of power exist, whether they can be adopted in sufficient time, or provide the true volumes required seems uncertain.

Qatar, Germany set up solar power joint venture

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- A state-run foundation in the natural gas-rich state of Qatar says it is setting up a joint venture plant with Germany's SolarWorld to produce the main ingredient in solar panels.

Qatar Foundation says the deal marks "the first phase" in the Persian Gulf state's push into the solar energy field.

Transition Milwaukee

For some, the future is bleak. Imagine, if you will, a nightmarish apocalypse of oil shocks and climate change that leave everyday Americans groping around alone, cold in the dark, cranking induction flashlights to illuminate cars that won’t run, big-box retailers devoid of merchandise, and decaying cities peopled by zombie-like citizens who can tap out text messages with precision but go hungry without microwavable meals.

For others, the forecast of a world without cheap and abundant oil is motivation to start building a brighter future today. A growing vanguard of people around the planet are rejecting a vision of self-imposed apocalypse and embracing this second future, with an emphasis on humanity and sustainability customized at many local levels.

A Warning on Europe’s Forests

Europe’s forests have been expanding for the last 60 years. But the rate at which forests are growing in Europe is slowing, and forested areas face even more acute challenges in the future because of climate change, Janez Potocnik, the E.U. commissioner for the environment, warned today.

“Europe’s forests are a precious resource,” he said at a news conference at E.U. headquarters in Brussels. “Their wide range of social, economic and environmental functions means that the stakes are high.”

British scientist in climate row admits 'awful' emails

LONDON (AFP) – A British climate researcher at the centre of a row over global warming science has admitted he wrote some "pretty awful" emails to sceptics when he was refusing their requests for data.

But Phil Jones, of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, defended Monday his decision not to release the data about temperatures from around the world, saying it was not "standard practice" to do so.

South Dakota legislature declares that astrology can explain global warming

Wow! The South Dakota legislature has declared, by majority vote, that the ancient pseudoscience of astrology “can effect world weather”! Astrology, of course, is a superstitious belief that the movements of stars and planets can affect our daily lives here on Earth, a belief that has no basis in science. Some people – including, apparently, the South Dakota legislature – still take it seriously, although most view astrological forecasts as light entertainment.

Expert: Climate change effort will take centuries

Climate change won’t be solved by the passage of one bill. It’s something we’re going to have to manage over hundreds of years.

The best outcome of whatever policy we implement is that nothing happens. That’s the most difficult thing about it. This is a long-term problem. It will keep coming up until we deal with it. That’s difficult in the current political climate. Moderates are scarce and the bases of the parties are miles apart. Eventually the public will demand action. But that doesn’t mean nothing should be done now.

New US nukes require US Gov't financing AND ratepayer pre-pay

I found that the first new US nuke in several decades (Vogtle in Georgia) will get US Gov't guaranteed financing for a majority of the cost PLUS Georgia ratepayers will pay towards the plant as it is being built. NA for deregulated states (Texas and California among them).

So far, only Georgia, Florida and South Carolina have approved ratepayer pre-pay, so I expect that Vogtle and perhaps one or two more new nukes will be built in the next few years. TVA seems a good candidate after Watts Bar 2 is finished circa 2013.

Once Vogtle goes on-line (on time and on budget or close), then more utilities may be willing to take the risk/be able to find financing.


Best Hopes for more new nukes,


Possible Timeline for new US nukes -

2011 - Construction Start Vogtle 1 & 2
2012 - TVA commits to Bellefonte 1 & 2 OR 3 & 4 (finish incomplete nukes or start new nukes next door or use pad and containment of old nukes for new nukes)
2013 - Watts Bar 2 completed. Work starts on Bellefonte 1
2015 - Work starts on Bellefonte 2
2017 - Vogtle 1 complete
2018 - Vogtle 2 complete, construction on X 1 & 2 starts
2020 - Bellefonte 1 complete, construction starts on Y, etc.
2022 - Bellefonte 2 complete


Of course, their is this:
But, just like Peak Oil, we will find a solution.

I know ! I know! The ahswer is technology. Right ? i've been waiting on it, and I know WT will let us know when it is going to change the ELM outlook. He'll spring the surprise on us any decade now.

Gen 3 nukes are exorbitant - $14B or more for 2, 1 GW plants. Florida recently rejected the rate increases recently - killing the plant.

The only nukes that we should support are
- Gen 4 which reuse nuclear "waste"
- Replace coal plants

No Gen 4 nukes in the USA till 2040 or so then.

A carbon tax would make new US nukes MUCH more competitive !


Alan - having lived in northern Ohio, downwind of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant, in 2002, I've got to say that I am extremely wary of nuclear power. Davis-Besse is the power plant in which an acid leak almost ate through the reactor vessel in 2002. Davis-Besse was also struck by a F2 (a relatively weak) tornado in 1998 - an event which, IIRC, thankfully did not cause a great deal of damage to the facility. I know that there are different, theoretically-safer designs available but the magnitude of damage that can arise due to catastrophic failures should make us seriously debate increasing our reliance on nuclear energy.

There are several questions I would raise regarding any new nuclear power plants:

1. Has this particular design been proven operationally safe over long periods of time?

2. Does the reactor have available water to continue operations if the local climate dries due to global warming? Many nuclear power plants are forced to shut down during periods of drought due to insufficient water supplies.

3. Is the reactor building built to safely withstand the impact of a hijacked large aircraft, as well as environmental events including earthquakes, hurricanes and/or tornadoes, and floods?

I won't even get into the radioactive waste issue.

Just my two cents on the subject.

Nukes are designed for a full speed impact of the largest a/c then flying/on the drawing board.

Likewise, for tornadoes (shut them down, but safely if switchyard is disrupted).

The AP1000 is a derivative design (safer, slightly larger) of the Westinghouse nukes. The EPR is the same for the French nukes (with some Siemens nuke input).

If nukes have to shut down for lack of cooling water, a waste but NOT unsafe. Current sites proposed for new nukes seem OK.

The alternative to nuke is coal.

LOTS of mercury, sulfur and even more uranium than nukes floating downwind from them. PLUS we boil the planet in the process.

It is not nukes vs. ideal (say conservation) but nukes vs. coal for many decades :-(

Now up to the attic for some conservation for me,



Somewhat off topic... "Zeitoun"

Do you know it?

A good read I just enjoyed. Folks in your home town and their experiences around Katrina. Put a real human side on New Orleans for me. Maybe you know them... I sure hope things are going OK for them now.

Highly recommended. Written by a local here in central CA - Dave Eggers.

LOTS of mercury, sulfur and even more uranium than nukes floating downwind from them. PLUS we boil the planet in the process.

Not with CCS coal.
(And don't claim this is an unproven technology while 'clean' nuclear waste overflows not just in the US but around the world.)

You're still stuck in your box with more baseload nukes.
Nobody is going to build pumped hydro dams, which waste energy thru conversion losses.
They have to run day and night and you end up wasting a quickly dwindling resource. Wind and nukes makes no sense at all on account of the storage issue.

The best bet is CCS coal coupled with massive wind.
CCS reduces CO2 emissions by 90%.

In current coal plants you get 1 Mwh per 1/2 ton of coal, under CCS you get 1 Mwh per 2/3 ton of coal. But pairing wind with coal you reduce the coal required by 1/3 or 4/9th of a ton of coal per Mwh or 2.25 Mwh per ton of coal.

Lets say you build 300GW of wind(900Twh) and match it with 300GW of IGCC-CCS coal(replace all conventional coal-1800Twh). Based on $129.3 per Mwh for CCS and $149.3 per Mwh for wind, the cost would be ~$400($376) billion dollars,
or 15 cents per kwh.


This would represent 2/3 of all current US electric demand(4100 Twh). With current nukes and hydro it would be 93% of current US demand.

At 2.25 Mwh per ton, we could reduce coal production by 20%
to 800 million tons.

Using our best available nuclear technology the world has 2000 quads of uranium left for energy but 17000 quads of coal left, +4000 quads of which is in the US. The US mines today 24 quads of coal per year.
The whole world uses about 24 quads of uranium per year today.
We will run out of uranium long before we run out of coal.

Clean coal is expensive and wind is expensive but together they are less expensive than nuclear plants filled with waste and running low on fuel.

The world consumed 136 quads of coal in 2008 so, going by your figures you're talking 83 years of uranium or 125 years of coal. I'll take uranium for $100, Alex. There are 4 large scale CCS projects, the oldest was commissioned in 1996.

I was lucky enough to grow up with a father who was first a reactor operator and then a project manager for the Charlevoix Michigan Nuclear plant "Big Rock". When it closed he moved downstate to a coal plant to be their environmental quality guy.

The way the plants were run is night and day according to him. Nuclear plant ran like a tight ship, with procedures and directives for anything that could possible go wrong. Environmental scrutiny was incredible, and everyone new it, so they covered their asses as much as possible, readying for worst case scenarios.

In comparison the Coal plant was run like a high school prom committee. The environmental dpt was constantly shat on because the EPA was seen as a toothless joke. They would rather pay the small fines then not dump tailings in the river or go over their Nox limitations.

I walked around the area surrounding both the plants quite a bit. The area surrounding Big Rock Nuclear is for the most part prisinte wilderness. There is no lasting radiation, the plant never released significant quantities into the area and Lake Michigan and was decommissioned as safely as possible.

In contrast the area around the coal plant was, for lack of a better term: a dump. Oil pumps would overflow and spray oil into the ground, drainage areas would overflow on heavy rain days and leach into the surrounding soil. The surrounding land was black with soot and who knows how high the heavy metal levels were. Coal dust was everywhere.

My point is that Nuclear power has had a scrutiny unequaled by other power sources. Because of that they have produced the finest techs and management in the business, the pressure has made diamonds of most of the people that work at Nuke plants.

IMO the problem of spent fuel storage, uranium mining and supplies, and radiation leaks are minuscule compared to the severe effect of coal on respiratory health, environmental damage from strip mining, and of course AGW.

Nukes, wind and solar is the way forward IMO.

Did you read about that Vermont nuke plant that will close down ?

'nuff said.

"has had a scrutiny unequaled by other power sources.."

And it's STILL leaking.. high levels of Tritium, 20 feet from the Connecticut River.

You guys are silly. One nuclear plant has a problem and it's an industrywide problem.

How many deaths are directly attributable to Nuclear power versus Coal? It's not even close.

I find the knee jerk "no nukes" people some of the most exasperating "environmentalists" to argue with because they don't have any arguments other than that "did you see what happened at 3 mile" or "what about all the waste"

Coal pollution is a slow death, which is why nobody ever gets that worked up about it. Yet one nuclear plant MIGHT have leaked some radiation and suddenly it's an industry wide huge problem and all nuke plants should be shut down.

Yet one nuclear plant MIGHT have leaked some radiation and suddenly it's an industry wide huge problem and all nuke plants should be shut down.

Hi madvillain,

At the risk of stirring things up further, you emphasized the word "might" in the above statement which suggests to me you're not fully convinced Vermont Yankee is leaking tritium. Is that a fair and reasonable interpretation?


Yet one nuclear plant MIGHT have leaked some radiation and suddenly it's an industry wide huge problem and all nuke plants should be shut down.

Yeah, one might have:

The 2005 report prepared by the Chernobyl Forum, led by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and World Health Organization (WHO), attributed 56 direct deaths (47 accident workers, and nine children with thyroid cancer), and estimated that there may be 4,000 extra cancer deaths among the approximately 600,000 most highly exposed people.

Other estimates go into the hundreds of thousands for related deaths.

The big problem is that the number of deaths from Chernobyl and coal emmisions are unknowable, and we're likely to have both nukes and coal plants for a long time. We've made our deals with many devils.

The world consumed 136 quads of coal in 2008 so, going by your figures you're talking 83 years of uranium or 125 years of coal.


Except that coal supplies ~50% of world electricity and nuclear supplies ~14%.


Lets magically reverse it so we have nukes burning 136 quads of uranium and coal plants burning 24 quads of coal(in the name of the Planet).
The nukes would burn up all the uranium in 15 years(2000/136) and the coal plants would last 710 years(17000/24).
Coal will outlast uranium.

Huh, who'd a thunk it.

Europe, Japan and Korea, which are poor in fossil fuels will actually need nukes, so why does the US need ANY?

Maybe for prestige.


don't understand why you'd even start an argument from the "let's magically reverse" POV.

Even if you "magically double" uranium use than we still have 40 years left.

In 40 years I might be living on the moon. 40 years buys a lot of time.

don't understand why you'd even start an argument from the "let's magically reverse" POV.

To show that if you use uranium faster it won't last very long.

But I like this comment of yours.

Even if you "magically double" uranium use than we still have 40 years left.
In 40 years I might be living on the moon. 40 years buys a lot of time.

Do believe in magic, Madvillain?

(Apparently you do.)

Nothing about grades of reserves or conversion of resources into same or changes in demand from increased efficiency or

Coal is a Fail on so many levels. Wake me when CCS is implemented on any meaningful scale. So far the jib jab from the industry that it will be universal soon is on the same level of plausibility as a serial killer telling the court he promises not to brutally slaughter people anymore.

t r u t h o u t | The Dirty Truth Behind Clean Coal

In theory, in order for CCS to work, large underground geological formations would have to house this carbon dioxide. But according to a recent peer-reviewed article in the Society of Petroleum Engineers' publication, the CCS jig is up and the technology just doesn't seem feasible.

"Earlier published reports on the potential for sequestration fail to address the necessity of storing CO2 in a closed system," writes report author Professor Michael Economides in an editorial for the Casper, Wyoming, Star-Tribune. "Our calculations suggest that the volume of liquid or supercritical CO2 to be disposed cannot exceed more than about 1 percent of pore space. This will require from 5 to 20 times more underground reservoir volume than has been envisioned by many, including federal government laboratories, and it renders geologic sequestration of CO2 a profoundly non-feasible option for the management of CO2 emissions."

To put this in laymen's terms, the areas that would house carbon produced from coal plants will have to be much larger than originally predicted. So much so, in fact, that it makes CCS absolutely improbable. By Professor Economides' projections, a small 500 MW plant's underground CO2 reservoir would need to be the size of a small state like Vermont to even work.

The average size of a coal power plant is 500MW.
It would produce around 300000 tons per year of CO2.
The Sleipner platform in the North Sea buries 1000000 tons per year. Weyburn CCS buries 1.5 million tons per year. Al Salah in Algeria buries 1.2 million tons per year.

Professor Michael Economides is an idiot and a tool.
In 2007 he said that Peak Oil was 30-50 years away.

He's your source?


You left out the Snøhvit gas field.

SourceWatch says US has 615 coal plants. CSM piece from 2004 says Chindia were on track to add 775 new plants by 2012, a rate of 96 per year. Retrofit, wither thy sting?

Michael J. Economides is one of the most instantly recognizable names in the energy industry. He is a professor at the Cullen College of Engineering, University of Houston, and has also served in the faculty of other major universities in both the United States and Europe. Professor Economides has written or co-written nearly 200 journal papers and articles and 11 textbooks and professional books, including The Color of Oil. As an industrial consultant, he has been retained by national oil companies at the country level and by Fortune 500 companies. Professor Economides has served in a professional capacity in more than 70 countries, working in senior technical and managerial positions in the petroleum services industry.

Retrofit, wither thy sting?

CCS doesn't make much sense if there is no penalty for polluting.

CCS now is used for 'cleaning up'natural gas with too much CO2 in it(and is therefore unsellable) or recovering oil by CO2 EOR--about 5% of US oil production is recovered with CO2.
So logically at some point it is economically viable.
The technology works but the economics is bad.
Unless we require clean up or encourage industry to stop CO2 emission with a carbon tax disincentive it won't get done.

Economides is #99 on Imhofe's List of 400 Climate Change Deniers.


Economides doesn't believe in Global Warming or Peak Oil = paid corporate shill

That is why we use Thorium.

"Clean coal" is not only expensive it is an oxymoron.No doubt the technology is available but it can't be scaled up to the point where all the pollution is buried.And how securely buried is another question.CCS is also extremely inefficient,costing about a third of the power generated.

CCS is a propanganda tool for the fossil fuel industry.Only mugs believe that drivel.

Get real and get off your anti nuke hobby horse.It is a sick,tired old moke.

Actually, we've been burning the original "clean coal" here at the farm for the last twenty-five years now--Pennsylvania anthracite.

It's hard, shiny, low-emissions--and hot. Nothing beats it for cooking and hot water.

Of course, we pay through the nose for it, because it's almost gone. It peaked way back in the 30s.

A long way from clean..
The (arithmetic) average emission factors obtained from the individual samples (assuming complete combustion) (Table FE4)(10) confirm the long-recognized finding that anthracite emits the largest amount of carbon dioxide per million Btu, followed by lignite, subbituminous coal, and bituminous coal. The high carbon dioxide emission factor for anthracite reflects the coal's relatively small hydrogen content, which lowers its heating value.(11) In pounds of carbon dioxide per million Btu, U.S. average factors are 227.4 for anthracite, 216.3 for lignite, 211.9 for subbituminous coal, and 205.3 for bituminous coal.

My quotation marks failed to communicate my irony. Anthracite does give high energy per ton and it burns away to less soot. It contains fewer impurities than, say, lignite. But, yeah, it ain't "clean."

The best bet is CCS coal coupled with massive wind.

I'd take that bet, but I'm not sure anything we could bet with will be worth anything by the time the bet ends. :D

CCS reduces CO2 emissions by 90%.

Perhaps theoretically, but as yet, there is not one single full-scale plant running anywhere in the world.
Once you add the cost of CCS (and before you count the effect on health) to Coal, it's cheaper to build Renewables.

I didn't mean to suggest that plants shut down due to drought were unsafe, only that if we are (and I believe that the available evidence shows we are) facing a drying out of many regions due to global warming, some locations that are currently suitable for power plant siting may not be in the future - making the particular plants in question worthless.

I am aware of just how nasty coal pollution is but it seems likely that even if we manage to turn away from coal for electrical generation, TPTB will decide that Fischer-Tropsch gasification is a way to keep the happy-motoring general public pacified in the face of peak oil while letting global warming fall by the wayside- this is in fact one of the major recommendations of the Hirsh Report, as you (Alan) and many other TOD members undoubtedly know. Fischer-Tropsch releases most of the pollutants that straight forward coal burning does. I wish it weren't the case, but I think that one way or the other we are going to wind up using most of the coal we have left.

I'm very much in favour of nuclear power (from the point of view that I don't think there's a feasible alternative to not using them), and I wish the UK (my country) had started on a gradually increasing program of building nuclear plants ten years ago. But there's at least two criteria I'd add to your list:

a. Any changes to plant blueprints (eg to deal with local conditions) go through a rigorous checking process to ensure they won't compromise the existing design's safety levels. (Most engineering issues arise when you make "minuscule" changes after the design has been evaluated.)

b. All contractors and workers have their output inspected randomly on the assumption they will do and then try to hide substandard workmanship.

(The need to do these is incidentally why plans to drastically increase nuclear power capacity over a very short timescale really worry me: one of the issues is that you really need people in charge who will push-back forcefully if someone attempts to railroad these questions in the name of bringing things in on time.)

These are the kind of things that ought to be done for any engineering project, but they generally get fudged in the name of profit. But there's a different between a substandard condo and a substandard nuclear plant.

At least some business groups are unhappy about the in-advance rate increase, since the higher electric prices will make manufactured goods more expensive, so less competitive. The Washington Post reports:

The utilities' gains are the consumers' losses -- and businesses such as the Georgia Industrial Group and the Georgia Textile Manufacturing Association have joined consumer and environmental groups in combating the state laws and higher rates.

In Florida, PCS Phosphate, which has a fertilizer plant that uses about 1 percent of Progress Energy's output, told the Public Service Commission that new rate increases "will substantially affect" the company "by directly increasing the cost of power."

"Certainly coming on top of the recession, it is badly timed," said James W. "Jay" Brew, attorney for PCS Phosphate, a unit of Potash Corp. "It's asking a lot of current customers to fund that large a capital expense up front."

Most states now have some sort of "green power" option where you pay extra each month and this supposedly helps subsidize the development of renewables. IMHO, people who have signed up for this green power option should be exempt from having to pay extra to finance nukes. That seems only fair to me. Probably won't be that way, though.

Fair has nothing to do with it, like you allude. Anyway, they'll probably say our drawer of tee shirts sent over the years offsets the extra.

Quite surprising... the Obama administration is promoting nuclear power with planned subsidies of over 35 Bio.$.
And this in the context, that the US has a "natural gas glut".
You could listen to N. Pelosi nearly a year ago: "NatGas is clean, cheap and abundand".

Could it be, that there is actually no NatGas Glut? Was Simmons right about the "greates scam ever"?

Just check this: The Disappearance of the Natural Gas Glut.


Could Berman be right?

quad -- I'll offer that they are mixing apples and oranges to some degree. Seasonal variations cause short term gluts and shortages. That says nothing of long term supplies. Thus when someone speaks of a NG glut you have to ask in what time frame are they referring. Has the recent glut just disappeared? Right now NG prices are dropping down to around $4.60/mcf from about $1/mcf higher just a few weeks ago. That's almost a 20% drop in price. Does that sound like a NG glut developing? We don't make prediction on future NG prices. We use what ever NG is selling for the day we run our economics. But I'm not not going to be surprised to see NG prices move lower during the summer.

OTHO, we are trying to spend $'s as fast as possible to drill NG wells in the Gulf Coast based upon our expectation of future (3 - 5 year) NG demand. Will we be proved right? Time will tell. But it's more than just an opinion on my owner's part: he's willing to spend $300 million that his expectation is correct. Everyone is free to have an opinion. Not everyone is willing to back it up with their cash though.

financialsense attributes the disappearance of ng glut to:

1)imports, 2) industrial demand/weather and 3) production

but according to the doe ng monthly, just out:


1)imports are down(2009 vs 2008)

2)industrial,residential and commercial consumption are down. electrical power generation is up, but total industrial is down

3) production is down 1.8 % (annualized feb - dec), this amounts to about 0.9 bcfd.

i think financialsense must be viewing ng supply/demand through a funhouse mirror(weekly ng storage).
based on ng in storage from a year ago, the shortfall in ng supply amounts to about 0.15 bcfd

i think financialsense must be viewing ng supply/demand through a funhouse mirror(weekly ng storage).
based on ng in storage from a year ago, the shortfall in ng supply amounts to about 0.15 bcfd

They are quoting Mark Papa CEO of EOG Resources

“We look at the 914 data and we try and tie that back to the IHS data [IHS is a consulting firm] and we really can’t tie it back and it looks to us like the 914 data is just consistently overstating particularly in the other states category. The second item we look at in the 914 data is just the balancing item and the balancing item seems to have grown over time. So we have tied our internal models to the IHS data and even though the gas rig count has gone up considerably over the last 4 - 5 months what it tells us is that the production is still going to be down to the tune of about 3 bcf a day relative to December 08 throughout all of 2010

-Mark Papa


EOG Resources, Inc. is one of the largest independent (non-integrated) oil and natural gas companies in the United States with proved reserves in the United States, Canada, Trinidad, the United Kingdom and China. EOG Resources, Inc. is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and is traded under the ticker symbol “EOG.”

At December 31, 2009, EOG’s estimated net proved natural gas reserves were 8,898 Bcf and estimated net proved crude oil, condensate and natural gas liquids reserves were 313 million barrels for a total of 10,776 Bcfe. Approximately 75 percent of EOG’s reserves on a natural gas equivalent basis were located in the United States, 16 percent in Canada, 9 percent in Trinidad and less than 1 percent in the United Kingdom North Sea and China. At year-end 2009, EOG had approximately 2,100 employees

Hopefully this will get stuck down at the end of the thread;;;;;

And when it's all said and done, all we've done is kick the can down the road a few more decades. Let's face it folks, it's all over, all we can do now is ride the train down the slope of Hubberts (sp) curve.

I agree with the hermit. All this talk of nukes and NG... I think its too late. The switch needed to be made a long time ago. The poor will burn whats left of the cheap stuff and the rich will finish off the expensive stuff (kind of like my family eating chuck steak and my buddy's eating t-bone).

The poor will burn whats left of the cheap stuff and the rich will finish off the expensive stuff (kind of like my family eating chuck steak and my buddy's eating t-bone).

This assumes the "rich" will be able to protect their wealth. I think there soon comes a time when the rich will find their wealth is an illusion, and that they have few useful skills in the absence of said wealth. So enjoy your chuck steak!

Today i count 4 articles related to global warming. None seem terribly related to peak oil or fossil fuels in general. One is about forest extend changes due to temperature changes. The second is about a well covered story about FOI requests in England. The third would be a marginal story even on a climate change web site like www.realclimate.org or www.wattsupwiththat.com. This story is real fluff. The fourth is a light weight story without much content. This brings me to my question.

Why with so many dozens of climate web sites out there, does this site cover climate change so much? Would it not be better to specialize in oil topics?

Since much of the world already has an opinion/belief on climate change, isn't theoildrum harming its persuasive power by covering a marginally related topic so heavily?

I don't think four articles is a lot.

I consider environmental articles on-topic. And I think the political aspects of the climate change debate are very relevant. Should peak oil ever reach the level of acceptance that AGW has, we can expect to get the same treatment from those who want to maintain the status quo.

Since much of the world already has an opinion/belief on climate change, isn't theoildrum harming its persuasive power by covering a marginally related topic so heavily?

Quite the opposite, I think. Climate change is how the world is talking about energy. We can't ignore it.

Also, the DrumBeat has always had a broader focus than the rest of the site. And I think the focus of the site in general will be broadening. Most of us agree that peak oil is in the rear view mirror now. There's a lot less interest now in counting barrels of production. I expect there will be a lot more "big picture" stuff. Which will no doubt annoy some people (especially those who come here to get trading tips).

we can expect to get the same treatment from those who want to maintain the status quo

Yes, we TODers should pick more secure eMail passwords and delete most of our old eMails, before Exxon-Mobil tries the same trick a second time.


Most of us agree that peak oil is in the rear view mirror now. There's a lot less interest now in counting barrels of production. I expect there will be a lot more "big picture" stuff.

Please no!

Just because *we* think peak oil is in the rear view mirror doesn't mean everyone else does.

I would suggest that we need those "counting barrels" articles more than ever! In fact, where have they been?? You simply can not rely on people to dig stuff up from the archives or find it on Google. It needs to be front and centre in order for the maximum amount of people to get the message.

Let us not just talk amongst ourselves. We have a responsibility.

In closing... Please! More Counting!

There are still posts tracking oil production. They will continue, but they won't be sole focus of the site. Frankly, I don't think there's as much interest any more - among the staff or the readers. There's no way to tell whether changes in production are due to supply or demand, so the production charts aren't terribly useful these days.

I agree about the difficulty distinguishing during the recession... but that is only temporary. And I am again disheartened by the proclamation of lack of interest from staff and readers. With all due respect to you and the staff who seem tireless (but of course are not), I would love to see a survey of current readers... but even if current readers feel that way, I would also ask them what it was that brought them here, and what it is that they use most from this site to alert others of the issues we face. I think both answers will be, the data. Because it was heavily researched, professionally presented, and indisputably compelling.

If production charts on a global scale aren't terribly useful, then what about the various choke points? Where is the in depth and ongoing analysis of the terminal decline of conventional production in both the Northern and Southern neighbours of the US.... where are the choke points in Africa? How's the North Sea doing these days? What difference will the Falkland Islands make on peak oil? Just because you and I know the answers to this, doesn't mean everyone else does. "We" still represent a tiny minority.

And what about that Export Land Model thingy that westexas prattles on about in the comments every, sinlgle, day... ;)

I don't want this to be confrontational at all.. and I am not at all saying that what the oildrum has become is a bad thing, it really has blossomed, but I am worried about losing the roots of what The Oil Drum has always provided and what *I* feel really brings new folks in and energizes them to be concerned and act. And that is hard and fast numbers on production in fields, and regions around the world.

I agree about the difficulty distinguishing during the recession... but that is only temporary.

I don't think there's agreement about that. Some of us think the recession won't be temporary.

If the global market returns to a situation where it can be assumed everyone's pumping all they can, then I imagine there will be more interest in production charts again.

However, we have always had a broader interest than counting barrels. And I think there's a growing feeling that it's time to start offering solutions, not just point to problems.

I think what chrisale is getting at is this situation: Uninformed person hears phrase "peak oil", and googles it. They click on The Oil Drum (now number four in the Google search results). What do they see, how do we hold their attention, and can they get the relevant information quickly enough so that they don't get frustrated and google "Tiger Woods cocktail waitress".

I found this site because I was concerned about the national security implications of sending so much money to the middle east. I had never heard of peak oil, but found the info pretty quickly here, was chastised by WT for my cornucopian beliefs, and then did more research till I figured it out.

I think making that "first google" experience easy and informative should be a primary objective of TOD.

They'll land at Wikipedia, Savinar's site, and PeakOil.com before they get here.

We have had some discussion about doing some "intro to peak oil" stuff, and organizing old articles to make them more accessible to newbies. But we're a bunch of nerds. Communicating with Joe Public is not our strong suit. Frankly, most of us are so bad at it that we don't even comprehend how really bad we are. ;-) And nobody seems much interested in doing that kind of thing, either.

There's been some talk about re-organizing the site and bringing in some new people. Maybe that will help.

I have only started posting recently, but I have been a TOD reader for years (at least three, maybe four). When I find someone who actually shows an interest in peak oil, I usually loan them some of the basic books on the subject, such as Deffeyes'Beyond Oil or Heinberg's The Party's Over, so that they have an understanding of the basic idea, before directing them to TOD. I really appreciate the site the way it is, but then maybe I'm a nerd. ;-)

I think the new "Advanced Search" capabilities go a long ways toward being able to find relevant articles. I agree, though, it would be good to be able to highlight some beginning articles as well.

Part of the problem with overview discussions is that the issue is so broad and so complex, it is hard to know where to start, and how much too talk about. I did a talk for a group of British actuaries this morning, and had a hard time knowing which pieces I should pull in to a one-hour talk on the subject.

Our site is really for readers who are willing to dig deeper--not just look at the superficial story about oil production peaking. There are a lot of other things that go with peak oil--economic, and improved technology, and hoped for substitutes, and mitigations in the absence of energy that become important as well.

Perhaps a few key posts from the past listed in the right sidebar above the credits would help. Some of them could possibly be changed to pages one could tab through.

Thanks a bunch for the constant thoughtfulness and work.


There's a heap of existing research to be tapped; I'd look for ways of presenting those in a more accessible manner. Most members of the public just assume we'll all go out and buy EVs, or tap the oil shale; where are the articles responding to these issues? The new search engine helps, but André's link farm was more the idea. Wherever it went to...

I'd like to see a section for links to data resources, too. This could be built up with a couple of quick and dirty postings here; just ask us to contribute links on whatever topic de jour. Or we could all share bookmark files, so everybody could see what others have dug up on their own (with off topic bookmarks left out, of course).

However, we have always had a broader interest than counting barrels. And I think there's a growing feeling that it's time to start offering solutions, not just point to problems.

If you are talking about individual solutions then I agree. That is what TOD Campfire is for and I think it is doing a great job. It is offering helpful hints on how to survive the consequences of peak oil.

But if you are talking about solutions for the world then you are wasting your time and energy, and any money you may be putting into those solutions.

Trying to convince the world that it should follow your lead, and therefore your ideas toward saving the world from collapse, is an excerise in futility, a total and complete waste of time. You will find that the world is just not interested in what you have to say.

Ron P.

Trying to convince the world that it should follow your lead, and therefore your ideas toward saving the world from collapse, is an excerise in futility, a total and complete waste of time.

I have been reading the first draft of the Transportation module of the United Nation Environmental Program's "Green Economy Initiative" for several weeks now. Some of my ideas are included.

Moral: It is *NOT* as futile as you think, but it is damn hard ! And all you can hope for is a voice at the table which MIGHT influence real world decisions.

Ask Greenish as well.

Best Hopes for TRYING !


Alan, thanks for the post but I must respectfully disagree. All your great transportation ideas are really fantastic. They all should have been implemented... half a century ago. Back then, they might have changed the final outcome, or at least delayed if for perhaps half a century.

I am trying to say, very respectfully mind you, that converting to trains and doing all that green transportation stuff, will not save the world. However they may delay the collapse for a few years. A few years would be long enough for the world population to increase four or five hundred million and increasing the misery by that amount when the world economies do collapse. Time enough for a few more million species to go extinct. Time enough for the deserts to expand a few more million square miles. Time enough... well you get the idea.

Sorry for the pessimism but you should know by now that I am a doomer. I saw this coming forty years ago Alan. I knew that exponential growth could only continue for a few more decades. I knew then that collapse was inevitable I just had no idea when. Now I have a lot better idea when.

Homo sapiens are a plague species. And they shall go the way of all other plague species in the past. But…. I am ever the optimist. There will be survivors. All plague species of the past always have had survivors.

Ron P.

Sorry for the pessimism but you should know by now that I am a doomer.

I am ever the optimist.There will be survivors.

Thinking that most will die is pessimistic also.

Less pessimistic than extinction for homo sapiens.

I still think that there is hope that we will not burn the very last bit of coal we can get to.

A bit less hope that we will reduce our numbers without using the 4 horsemen. But not TOTALLY hopeless.


Less pessimistic than extinction for homo sapiens.

Extinction is most likely to happen from a meteor. Pessimism in the context of PO is if many billions of people will die. So "There will be survivers" is not optimistic.

Worst case Climate Change, we all die.

Oceans turn into something like the Black Sea

The water is saturated with hydrogen sulphide at depth below 150 m and there is a lack of lack of oxygen (a state known as hypoxia).


and then we get a giant H2S/CO2 burp


Exit most remaining higher life forms.


The difference between a 'doomer' and an economist:


I am ever the optimist.There will be survivors.


"In the long run, we are all dead!" John Maynard Keynes

Could not disagree more, Han. A die off will reduce fossil fuel consumption and just might avert the worst feedback effects of AGW. The remaining survivors won't have the magic energy of fossil fuels in abundance, so they will be forced, by necessity, to be creative in their energy use and production. Biodiversity, something which has incalculable benefits for the earth, and thereby, for humans, will increase. The world will revert to being ruthlessly Darwinian, which should raise the fitness of humans in the long run.

A good working hypothesis would be that "saving lives" now will just make the crash all the more dreadful, horrific, miserable, and catastrophic later. Much of our effort is devoted to giving the miserable and the desolate the opportunity to live a longer life of misery, starvation, and desolation.

Keeping the billions we have alive now is a crime against nature, truly, as 120 species go extinct every day, in large part because of the impact of all those billions.

China has recently added enough electricity to run all of Germany. If Germany went 100% renewabl, it would be moer than canceled out by China's growth. And then there is the fact that China is now the world's largest car buyer.

It's hard not to be a doomer but I am always open for good arguments to prove the contrary.

You are right. We are the plague that keeps on giving.


I believe that you are correct in your overall outlook. Most people, though, would dissagree with you and would much prefer Alan's hopeful message. You even felt the need to apologise for being pessimistic. The reason people hate pessimism so much is that it is always seen as the opposite of the default (majoritarian)position which is optimism. It's like the God argument. If I believe then I am a theist(good). If I don't then I am an atheist(the opposite and bad). If optimism did not exist as a concept then pessimism would be called realism or maybe just curiosity. This bias appears in many common expressions and aphorisms. "If you don't have something nice to say then you shouldn't say anything at all". "Don't rock the boat". "Don't make waves". "Curiosity killed the cat". Etc. Al Gore's Incovenient Truth ends with 10 or 15 minutes of "What you can do to help?"! Please! It is amazing that the scientific method was ever conceived of by humans.


I support Alan (and others) in their endeavors to come up with solutions or mitigations to what is happening to the world. I submit that these ideas and concepts will not prevent the major changes that the world is now experiencing with even more drastic changes to come. They will however be there for those who do survive and start to rebuild. Whether the survivors are 10% or 90% of the current population doesn't matter.

There are many comments about technocopians not getting what is happening. One of the basics of being a human being is to learn and move forward in life. Humanity is about to go through a steep learning curve.

I appreciate all the efforts by all humans, be it the scientist for a silver bullet, the doomer with farm and animals, and especially the staff of TOD. Any of these may be the opportunity for me or my descendants to survive if we so choose. There will be many for whom the coming changes will be too much.

Survival is more a generalist activity than a specialist activity which makes TOD valuable in its current form of incorporating many related aspects of the world situation.

My thanks to all contributors and conversationalists on TOD.

Embrace change.


The "plan" should be to BUY time to REDUCE the population. Stop births today and in a 100 years the planet will be empty of humans (maybe a few geezers roaming about). Or we just limit age to about 50 and everyone about that gets to jump in an active volcano.

Ask Greenish as well.

Whups! Here I am anonymously reading to wake up my brain after rough night's insomnia, and I find a call to action. Well, OK, I'll weigh in....

Ron: Trying to convince the world that it should follow your lead, and therefore your ideas toward saving the world from collapse, is an excerise in futility, a total and complete waste of time. You will find that the world is just not interested in what you have to say.

I'm second to none as a fan of Ron's indefatigable posting in defense of logic and reality; a dirty job but I'm glad someone's doing it with his level of persistence.

As Alan knows, I'll agree that it isn't futile, it's just damn hard. Either Alan or I may think that one chance in a thousand is a lot better than no chance at all, and I think perhaps he and I tend to see future scenarios probabilistically, with a near-infinite gradation between greater and lesser degrees of bad outcome. To me, all things being equal, a future with hummingbirds and oak trees still alive is significantly different than the same future without them, and worthy of time spent working towards it rather than watching TV or whatever other humans consider a good use of time. A future where 917 nuclear bombs are dropped during resource wars is worse in some ways than a future in which 243 nuclear bombs are dropped during resource wars. Etc.

This probabilistic sort of approach is realistic and reasonable for one who would seek to steer the way the outcomes fall, and I've done it for many decades. It takes a relatively rare sort of discipline to throw all one's effort and life's energy into something they expect to probably fail, yet that's where the hope lies, in my experience.

(I will note in disclaimer that I have no high expectations for grassroots groundswells to occur without sneaky unseen machiavellians like me steering them behind the scenes).

It seems more usual for humans to adopt what I have occasionally termed a "nihilism heuristic" and conflate all possible outcomes past an arbitrary subjective threshold of bummerosity. By the very nature of arbitrary standards, there's no way to debate that.

Of course, when Ron takes the position that dragging out the human crash will probably negatively affect other species, he's on solid logical ground. Tough damn choices, even among activists.

I doubt that Alan and Ron really disagree much; what we may be seeing is two slightly different worldviews.

Then again, maybe I'm wrong. This could be the day.

If you insist on looking at it as 'Convincing the World', then I can see why it looks so hopeless to you.

It's about bringing people in, a few at a time.

Movements have happened before, Ron. Maybe they are still possible.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

But it's ok, Ron. Don't get up.. I'll get it.

It's about bringing people in, a few at a time.

Yes, the Mormon church started with only a few people some 175 years ago and today they have over 12 million members. And many of them go door to door in every country in the world in an effort to gain converts. Now suppose we were all as diligent and successful as the Mormons in trying to convert people to accepting peak oil we could probably gain as many believers in another 175 years.

Yes Jokuhl, I do believe it is still possible to repeat such a success story. But I do hope you can still understand my pessimism.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Gad, don't get me started on Margaret Mead. She was a wonderful woman, with a heart of gold, and a damn fool. She was a member of the Franz Boas school of anthropology. They were all blank slaters. They believed that jealously, anger, love and all other human emotions were all learned behaviors. She, and Boas, believed that crime and murder never happened among the "noble savages". Her Opus "Coming of Age in Samoa" was dedicated to proving that point. Turns out she was snookered by a few teenage girls who thought it fun to tell here wild stories.

Interesting, while Googling Margaret Mead I found that, at least in some cases, Jared Diamond suffered the same fate. Science Mag: Ruckus, and a lawsuit, over Jared Diamond’s report from Papua New Guinea for the New Yorker

The common thread: when western scientists, or journalists spend time with isolated, pre-industrial and tribal societies, do they sometimes get it very wrong? Answers can be hard to figure. Mead, some say, bought hook, line, and sinker some tall tales from the giggling young women she interviewed. Maybe, it says here, Diamond got similarly snookered.

Ron P.

When I was working on an MS in Anth I remember reading an article about an anth student in CA who had to do some research on yard workers in a shipyard. He got a summer job there so he could work directly with the people and get to know them. Of course, he was the butt of jokes until the hard hats got to know him and level with him. One day he heard one of his fellow students interviewing one of the yard workers in an office. The shipyard worker was giving the student the biggest line of BS he had ever heard.

Moral of story: If you don't even bother to get to know the people you are interviewing (Mead didn't even speak the native language) you can expect to be treated like a moron.


I believe most people who have been around a bit have encountered something like that. For example, I am often flabbergasted by the nonsense people "know" about my native land (Finland), because they have met some Finns or even spent a few days in Finland. It appears people generally find it hard to be perfectly truthful when they know they can get away with just any old crap. Works the same in Papua New Guinea and Scandinavia.

For the past two years I have spent most of my time in Mongolia and China, and if I need to find out things about these countries, I generally go for a source that is more reliable than a native (a book written by somebody with credentials, or an expat with years of experience, etc.). Once you've got a pretty good grasp of things, of course you can learn ever so much from the natives, but you should never take anything they tell you at face value.

One crazy example: when I first arrived in Ulaanbaatar about two years ago, I asked some young Mongols where I could try traditional Mongolian food. They took me to BD's Mongolian Barbecue. They had no idea that there is nothing Mongolian about Mongolian barbecue, let alone that BD's is the only foreign restaurant chain in Mongolia.

Mormonism? Good comparison, Ron.

How about Suffrage, or Civil Rights? Environmental Protection, Endangered Species. Child Abuse, Drunk Driving.
Of course not. Mustn't find any place where people have struggled, joined forces and made some gains, gotten heard.

You've got many, really good reasons to stay put. Please, don't get up.

Jokuhl, I never said mass movements do not yield results.... eventually. After all the Mormons do have over 12 million members after 175 years. Civil Rights took over one hundred years after the war. However let us not get ridiculous. Child abuse, or rather the fight against child abuse was never a mass movement. It was recognized as a crime, just like robbery, and laws were passed against it. The same can be said about drunk driving. Environmental protection and the endangered species act was something us liberals recognized as a need but has not yet yielded very good results. We rant on but species are still going extinct and the environment is still being destroyed. Occasionally we do have a little success but that should not obscure our failures which are hundreds of times greater than our success. And in no way were they a mass movement.

So Jokuhl, please rephrase your argument and leave out the silly nonsense next time.

Ron P.

Margaret Mead gets a lot more credit than she is due , and she wasn't half as smart as people give her credit for being.

Of course it is possible to twist the "words small group of thoughtful committed people " into almost anything if you are willing to bend the definitions of these words far enough.

I think there is value in documenting the slow-motion train wreck of peak oil....the MegaProjects that push out and fall short, the hyped discoveries that are news when the first well comes in and then fall short in production, the ever-full super-giants that water-out field by field. And, of course, the jostling economies that surge and falter as their shares of dwindling resources shift on the world stage.

Personally, I like the DB mix. Best forum on the web, IMHO. Whatever Leanan wants to do is A-OK by me....

Agreed, except for the suggestion of an inevitable train wreck. I just can't buy into your marxist-like economic determinism. I do think that the form of history is dialectical, but I find myself increasingly impressed by the capacity of thought to create new opportunities for civilational progress, the type of progress that leads to lesser amounts of violent jostling.

It strikes me that the marriage of evolutionary sciences with neuro-science, for example evolutionary anthropology, is an important example of thought redirecting history. Because of this intellectual work, we will get less and less of the nonsense that society is at base competitive and violent, and that cooperation and non-violence are luxuries.

All of that sounds nice, and might actually ring true on a less populated planet full of non-humans. Given where we are, I would argue the niceties of education, dedicated science, and professional thinkers are luxuries which are unlikely to continue. When people have personal opportunities, ample choices, a full belly, and a promising future for their children they are amazingly inventive and generally humane.

Evolutionary anthropology says we humans killed off multiple semi-human brethren, wholesale, by habitat destruction and resource competition, and maybe more directly through killing them.

Society is competitive -- my kids compete all day every day, and really I do as well. Grades, sports, popularity, clothing, attention, money, recognition, neighborhood, corporate survival -- everybody I know is doing about the same thing. Is your existence markedly different?

Carrying capacity and limits to growth are the key. It's not marxism (boy, that suggestion left a bad taste in my mouth!) but simple math -- exponential growth versus limited resources. We can argue about how pleasantly we get from here to a sustainable carrying capacity, but along any path most of us will not survive the trip. It's supply and demand, people-style -- too many people equals lower value of life which leads to increased death - wholesale, probably.

Case in point for today: not 20 miles from my quiet, safe, middle-class neighborhood a man was shot 7 times mid-day yesterday next to a walk-up/drive-up restaurant. Patrons literally stepped over him to place or receive their orders, and the shop continued to serve. Somebody did at least call 911, and the responders were sufficiently intimidated by the patrons displeasure at having their path blocked that rather than stabilizing him in place they immediately gurneyed the victim and departed (police, who just had layoffs, hadn't managed to respond yet). Witnesses didn't want to get involved at all, nor did they want it to disrupt their lives. The fellow died in the ambulance.

We live in a society where some people's chicken fingers staying warm are worth more than a stranger's life, and you think we can evolve ourselves to handle the decline? I would argue that empirical evidence proves the converse already, and we're only a couple of decades into the great decline so far.

Ok, so your "neighbourhood" doesn't make it. That doesn't prove mine doesn't.

Don't be so sure. If you live in a city with a population of over 100K I imagine that there are zones nearby where the ambulance won't go without police on-site first (the neighborhood for the story above got added to that zone yesterday). And where the utility cut-off people have police escorts.

Some people won't realize the cities just are not safe until the proles show up outside their place demanding food, money, and drugs. We'll see who does better, someone farming in Detroit or farming in New Hampshire in the event of any future problems.

My first reaction is that is an example of the social isolation of Suburbia.

I have seen several injuries in New Orleans, and bystanders automatically render aid, such as they can (someone hit by a car got two raincoats off peoples backs to cover them in the rain).

During Carnival, people will make way for ambulances (and beer trucks, another emergency vehicle) despite crowds ten deep.

Best Hopes for Less Social Isolation,


Best hopes for more beer trucks!

What difference will the Falkland Islands make on peak oil?

chrisale, I heard there must be some 60 Gb there under the ocean. If so, let's say 30 Gb is recoverable. That's what the world uses in 1 year.

And that is hard and fast numbers on production in fields, and regions around the world.

I agree with Leanan that for now production is less relevant. When the recession started in 2008 I stopped looking at the graphs in 'Oilwatch monthly' from Koppelaar. When not every country is producing flat out, what does it say about spare capacity ? The big picture is what counts and that is that most countries are past peak and that production can keep up mainly because of addition of a lot of small fields.

First, I think most of us are "nerds" in some way. Again, that's why I ended up here.

In fact, that's why I'm asking. I need a nerd fix!

Nerds will inherit the Earth, we just need to give them the data to do it. ;)

But seriously....

The big picture is what counts and that is that most countries are past peak and that production can keep up mainly because of addition of a lot of small fields.

And that's what I'm talking about...

I would like to see proof of what you just said.

I fear that we are turning into more of an echo chamber than a information storing house.

It is just as important, imo, perhaps more important, to document the descent as it is to document the run up and the peak.

Heck, where's a good article analysing the plateau that we have so clearly been on for years now?

Again, not being confrontational.. just looking for more data to satiate my nerdy ways. I'd especially like more talk of the Export Land Model as it seems that that is what is really going to bite us in the *ss in the very near future.

I would like to see proof of what you just said.

Ok then chrisale, look at how many countries/regions are increasing their production. Countries that are reaching (or reached) a second, lower peak I still call 'past peak'.

Heck, where's a good article analysing the plateau that we have so clearly been on for years now?

You have to combine all the data. Almost 60% of worldoilproduction is in non-OPEC and they are past peak. OPEC reserve numbers are inflated, but maybe you are not convinced. The world loses 3-4 mbd every year from existing fields and look at Megaprojects on Wiki how much oil comes from new fields and how big the fields are that replace oil from declining giants. And: what about the increase of oilprices from 2004-2008.

Han -- I agree with Leanan that the metrics on current reserves and future reserves have been debated sufficiently. I think in the coming years how much oil/NG is being or could be produced will become much less important then who has access to those resources. Having the funds to purchase oil might not be the only factor. If you're China and have tied up enough future oil production then there is no effective PO in your world. Re: the Falklands as an example. Though it might represent only one year global consumption (a long way to go to prove that IMHO) that volume of could represent many years of consumption for England. But even that can be misleading: how fast that oil is produced will have impact and not so much with regards to ultimate recovery. Even if Country X has the funds to purchase their oil requirements but they can't access available supplies then they slam hard into the PO wall. Add that to another developing factor: ELM and increased sovereign control over a growing percentage of global production. Does it matter to the rest of the world what Ghawar's future production profile looks like if the KSA stops exporting oil long before it drops to, let's say, 50% of current deliverability? To what degree does it matter to the US if all those new billions of bbls of oil discovered off Brazil's coast if none is exported? Since oil is fungible there would be some impact but perhaps nearly as much as some might expect.

Just a guess but I suspect in coming years the common topic on TOD will be more about who is controlling future production and, as Leanan points out, what solutions do we envision to deal with such circumstances. We may technically be out of the recession today. But I also agree with Leanan that the economic impact of PO, ELM, etc are here to stay and will likely dominate the discussion for years.

I think in the coming years how much oil/NG is being or could be produced will become much less important then who has access to those resources. Having the funds to purchase oil might not be the only factor.

ROCKMAN, the 'geopolitics can trump everything else' argument. One can imagine.

If you're China and have tied up enough future oil production then there is no effective PO in your world. Re: the Falklands as an example. Though it might represent only one year global consumption (a long way to go to prove that IMHO) that volume of could represent many years of consumption for England.

Only if they can keep this oil away from the market.

I think in the coming years how much oil/NG is being or could be produced will become much less important then who has access to those resources.

I agree. The one set of graphs and data that I find the most interesting, because it seems easy for me to digest, is the export rates for oil exporting countries.

When I see that for many countries that export, that their export rates are dropping... seems important and meaningful.

Once those get near zero, then where I live would only have whatever it gets from unconventional sources, or whatever is left domestically.


All the English will learn from a 'big' discovery in the Falklands is that in, say, 20 years time, something will come along in the nick of time, again, to save their necks.

Full disclosure, I'm half Pom (English).

The only good a 'big' Falklands discovery will do, if they can keep it for themselves, and away from the Argies, is to buy them time to build Nukes and Turbines, and insulate the hell out of their old, draughty housing stock. They'll still be 60 million people on an island build for 20, though.

Leanan, from yesterday:

There are elements of climate change that should be discussed here. How the politics of climate change is similar to that of peak oil. How climate change will affect our transition to the post-carbon age. Whether talking about AGW is an oblique way of talking about peak oil.

But there's just no point in rehashing the same old tired arguments about climate science. No one's going to change their minds, and a lot of people find it really tedious and annoying. There are plenty of other places where that can be argued.

So should topics be kept focused or should they be allowed to go where they will? As for the Drumbeat, it's the various threads that bring people in for some amazing discussions. While I came to TOD for info on PO, it's these excursions into other topics that keep me coming back. I've learned more about CC, debt/finance, agriculture and even politics here than from any other site, because of the great insights and links people post. While PO is the primary focus of the Drum, it can get a bit dry without discussing how it interacts with other systems. It's the one sight I've found where everyone isn't just preaching to the choir.

I'd really rather you post this in the thread it started in, rather than bringing it forward. However, since it's somewhat related to today's discussion, I'll let it stay here.

So should topics be kept focused or should they be allowed to go where they will?

Both, and neither. :-)

For the key posts, we'd prefer they be kept focused. The DrumBeat has always been more free-flowing, but I do discourage totally off-topic posts. I will also ban topics that have already been beaten to death. Sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently.

Basically, we have a lot of people sharing one thread a day. I'm trying to keep it interesting and useful for everyone.

Sorry, Leanan. I posted it to show that you have a tough job keeping everyone happy while setting limits. I agree that some of the off-topic "pissin'" contests get tedious and break down into tit-for-tat arguments.

Have you thought about splitting the Drumbeat into an energy only thread and an open thread? "Energy Beat", perhaps a couple of days a week, no off-topic discussions/posts allowed.

First time writing. 1 1/2 year lurker. I thoroughly enjoy the oildrum, it is better than reading the newspaper or going to any of the main stream news sites. The depth of knowledge and the mostly intellegent arguments made on many sides of the issues is eye opening. I must say I do enjoy the charts and statistcal data and understand how that could burn some individuals out and my hat is off to all for their hard work. Really do not know how you all do it. Many thanks!


I don't think we need more complexity, or more open threads.

We can't be everything to everyone.

There's no way to tell whether changes in production are due to supply or demand, so the production charts aren't terribly useful these days.

Well, I think you are dead wrong on that one Leanan. With oil at $80 a barrel all non-OPEC and even five OPEC nations are producing flat out. Together they produce 63 percent of all oil produced. The production numbers from the 63 percent of production that is producing flat out is very useful.

The November non-OPEC numbers from the EIA made a new four year peak but it was still almost 300,000 barrels per day below the December 2003 peak. And from all reports the numbers will be down in December. Those numbers are due out next week.

This sudden surge in non-OPEC production is due almost entirely to new projects in the GOM and in Eastern Siberia. But production from these two sources has peaked and it looks like production will start to slide, but only slightly, in 2010 before it heads down in earnest in 2011. Anyway I am watching it like a hawk and think production charts are extremely useful. In my Excel files, I have about a hundred of them.

Ron P.

It seems to me that the limit on oil production may very well be what we think of as peak "oil demand".

Think about it this way. We aren't going to use more than one barrel of oil as an input to get one barrel of oil as an output. This can be generalized--there are going to be more inputs that just oil. We need to have water, and concrete, and human labor. We also need the whole system in which it fits--the pipelines, the cities and states providing basic service. The cost of the oil cannot be disproportionate to the utility we get from the oil, (because we have to pay for everything else as well) so price can't keep going up endlessly.

When we get to a situation when oil supply is lower like today, we find huge squeezes--especially on the credit system, which cannot continue to grow exponentially. In order to support a higher price of oil, the whole rest of the system (including services by governments and discretionary spending) has to downsize. We need to go through huge recession, to bring demand in line with supply. With the recession comes lower demand--reflecting the fact that the price already is at a point representing a situation where the price of oil is disproportionate to the utility we get from the oil (at least within the framework of total funds available to society.) It is this (relatively) high that pushes us toward credit defaults, credit cutbacks, and recession.

It is only because economists have told us that oil prices can go up endlessly that we believe this story.

I am not really convinced that geology is the #1 issue any more. We can keep puling more oil out, only as long as higher prices will support the effort. If prices could rise to $500 barrel, I would doubt that we would have a problem with adequate oil production. At such a high price, we could got to extraordinary lengths to do things like melt huge deposits of very heavy oil and extract polar oil, oil shale, and ultra-deep oil, so the problem would be pushed off for several generations.

It is only because economists have told us that oil prices can go up endlessly that we believe this story.

I am not really convinced that geology is the #1 issue any more. We can keep puling more oil out, only as long as higher prices will support the effort. If prices could rise to $500 barrel, I would doubt that we would have a problem with adequate oil production. At such a high price, we could got to extraordinary lengths to do things like melt huge deposits of very heavy oil and extract polar oil, oil shale, and ultra-deep oil, so the problem would be pushed off for several generations.

Well first lets define the infinite price for a good or service. I define it as the point at which someone will kill you for the good or service with a high probability of escaping. This generally means a regional break down in law and order. The obvious example is walking through the poorest slum at midnight with a thousand dollars in your hand. The value of a thousand dollars to you is effectively infinite as good chance your life will be taken.

My point is that the price can rise until the more basic economic mode of simply taking things by force becomes the way transactions are settled. I argue this is the infinite price point and its very real.

Next as far as 500 resulting in greater oil exploration the assumption is that its possible to do 500 dollar transactions without the price going to infinity i.e people deciding to kill for oil.

I argue that this is not possible i.e at some price point the market transforms itself into and infinite price based market and starts killing for the product. So once you correctly define infinite price then it seems clear that markets often go into infinite price mode when the price using other measures fail.

Certainly there is a market transition involved but thats simply a repricing event or change in currency if you will the old form of money loses all value and the new form of wealth i.e hot lead replaces it. The market itself continues through this currency collapse and transition. You just need to adjust for the price inflation and just as obvious in general one party of the transactions finds that the price was infinity.

Certainly warfare follows market principals and economic its just the currency used for transactions is human lives.
One side as I said values the execution of the transaction at infinity the other translates into some other currency in general the winner sees it as a simple barter transaction paying very little or almost nothing in some cases. Often the outcome is difficult to value.

For oil at least these infinite price transaction have always played a role so there is no doubt at all that the maximum price is infinity it routinely goes to the price regionally. Indeed the number of regions where the price of oil has already hit infinity today is probably higher than it has ever been since WWII. Especially if one includes secondary energy related problems.

The only real issue is at what price point does this transition to infinite pricing occur in general ?

Here you have to consider a wide range of external issues but I'd argue that somewhere between the current price and some high price say 500-800 a barrel that we see the market decide to undergo a currency exchange event and reprice oil in human life on a broad basis.

The timing is of course difficult to determine but at some point it simply cheaper to take than to pay on a widespread basis.

So yes there is no high dollar priced market for oil and yes there is a maximum price we will pay for oil using dollars but once that point is hit we simply transition to this more fundamental sort of market that uses infinite pricing for one member of the transaction.

Well I may be one of those type of economists who say that the price will go up endlessly. Even though the pirce of oil is well below it's peak of $146 or so, I still see the price of oil in an uptrend.

However in the short run, (1) the US dollar occasionaly makes some counter long term trend moves and (2) oil inventories are sometimes liquidated - making the price of oil move down. At least that is what will happen while we are more or less on a peak oil plateau. When oil output starts relenetlessly downward, all known market mechanisms will eventually fail - and yes, the price of oil will be measured some other way - or maybe the price of things will be measured in oil.

While westexas' exportland 2.0 explanation is bad enough, the world could actually discard all its conventional oil financing systems overnight in the event of war in the Mideast, or a large bomb placed in the right location within Saudi Arabia. I expect in those dire situations that the Government will let everyone settle their contracts for a cash payment (without making delivery), at say $500 a barrel, and then promptly close market trading for oil for good. And yes all countries will go along with that because it will not be considered fair play to let those countries with cash reserves buy up all the available oil. The alternative would be war.

Otherwise if oil problems develop more slowly, when oil reaches about $500 or so (inflation adjusted) the market price system will still shut down to be replaced with some type of world government allocation system.

Exactly pick your scenario it does not matter its important to recognize that markets can undergo a restructuring and repricing or even a change of currency if you will what ever you want to call it but the overall market dynamics continue.

Certainly the current US and world economy cannot handle very high priced oil for long I don't think anyone disagrees but to expect some sort of smooth transition of any sort as both the markets and economy reach its stress points is probably the least likely event.

Look at it this way at some price point stealing gasoline makes a lot of sense. Lets say for example its 10 dollars a gallon. Say the average tank is 15 gallons and with the right equipments you can drain a tank in ten minutes. Say four cars and hour thats 600 bucks and hour and say you can do it for about six hours a day thats 3600 a day. Say it takes two people and even if I'm off its 1000 a day at least or about 20k or so a month. Your making some serious money. Obviously at some price around this stealing gasoline is lucrative.
Say somewhere between 5-10 dollars and hour. Certainly you will have situations where violence will result with this sort of activity.

Often enough to become a serious problem. Say you go to a EV well you can bet the battery packs are worth even more and they will still the whole car. The point is its fairly easy to see a point at which social order breaks down when a basic commodity becomes valuable sooner than later.

Now EV or gasoline does not matter a huge part of why cars are useful fails as you have to watch where you park pay guards to watch the car etc. Worry about someone stealing gasoline killing you or just as often you killing some kid on a skateboard that happend to stop besides your car etc.

Gas stations become banks as far as getting hit tanker trucks hijacked etc. Heck look at some of the stuff that happened in the 1970's and the recent price spike.

I think its simply incorrect to assume BAU however you have to recognize that as the price climbs significant "repricing" events occur along the curve generally related to increasing lucrative theft with the threat or act of violence.

Basically when BAU results in people practically leaving hundred dollar bills lying in the street then things change. Repricing events occur. And of course its not just at the personal level but right up through the governments.

If the oil and gas industry starts having to run armed guards and deal with hijacking you can bet things get expensive. And of course good old Nigerian style drilling of pipelines etc.

All of this adds and additional premium and thus inflames matters. For cars constantly wrecked gas tanks and other damage from theft sends insurance premiums throgh the roof.

All of what I said has plenty of historical backing and in my opinion is realistic and it dramatically changes the fundamentals of using oil. I don't know about you but I'd not be driving to the mall leaving my car in some monster lot.

Social order collapses rapidly when a basic commodity becomes expensive the steady unraveling of the social fabric drives the price even higher leading to these repricing events if you will.

And of course the strain of and explosive increase in the commodity related thefts leaves plenty of opportunity to commit all kinds of other crime as the police are chasing gasoline thefts others are using the opportunity to commit other crimes.

On the law enforcement side of the game no matter how you slice it he community has to devote significantly more of its resources to protection leaving less or everything else. Often esp in this sort of climate dramatic cuts are made to social welfare problems as you get a lash back against the lazy poor making more people ready to commit crime not look for a job that does not exist.

All of this is still a market at work its not outside of the market and if you want to seriously discuss price and the future then you should price in this polarization event and or prove its not going to happen.

And it should be clear that this sort of social unraveling puts tremendous pressure on the governments to secure ample oil supplies for their people even if they have to subsidize the price taking on unpayable debts. Rationing without the ability to actually get the oil just makes things even worse. Again I see this as normal market forces at work is not abnormal its expected.

And last but not least the rate that the above can happen is far faster than any sort of technical response involving advanced extract methods those approaches are measured in years this social problem in months. There is a huge time mismatch. Same for that matter on the financial side. I think every potential investor on the planet recognizes that under these conditions nationalization of the oil industry given its now of strategic value is obvious. And of course many sectors of the business outside of production would be unprofitable because of excess capacity and additional security costs. So you have a industry with many of its sectors losing massive amounts of cash and its incredibly strategic are you going to invest ? Hell no the oil industry effectively becomes and arm of the government and military at this point.

And again this is well within reasonable market response.

Then you consider what you said and "events" occurring ...

And last but not least given we had extensive reports of people drilling gas tanks when the price hit 140 we at least have a good idea of a lower bound problematic price somewhere above 100 dollars however this problematic price can drift lower since its driven by the number of people desperate enough that stealing gasoline makes sense. With our higher unemployment rates today one has to imagine that this lower bound price is lower than before. Certainly identity theft and stolen credit cards will play a role.

My point is that this market transition bound is not only the one that starts the earliest but also the one that has the biggest above ground impact. Recognizing there is no limit but also recognizing that this implies repricing events is important. And again as you point out if you throw in a spark event like you describe then you have a good chance of a significant repricing to infinity aka killing someone for oil.


Gas prices aren't related to fundamentals. Must be the speculators.

The real issue is how much of the world's wealth is diverted toward consumption, wealth being a proportion - rather than a numerical - proposition. The level of diversion does not matter, only the fact of it.

This is where the rubber meets the road since the bulk of consumption is simply waste that is counted - perversely - as economic 'production' in the GDP metric.

For the past ten years or so the diversion of wealth has resulted in increasing costs and diminishing returns, beginning in energy- dependent US manufacturing. The consequence was a flood of offshoring of US jobs (and US customers for other businesses and US base capital) and the limitless import of cheap Latin American labor to produce fixed capital goods. The same process took place in credit and finance, transportation, then retail ... and is now taking place oil refining.

With refining, the outcome of increasing costs and diminishing returns is out and out shortages regardless of price.

A few more dollars' rise from $80/bbl and the refinery margin disappears altogether. The market for finished petroleum products diminishes as prices increase. This isn't speculation, but an observation. There is a limit - an upper bound - to finished energy goods' prices.

The lower bound is an abstract - what the producers can command - but increasingly a fixed price level required to bring new oil onto the market.

We are near where the upper and lower bounds meet in the middle of relatively low 'Simmons' Prices' yet staggeringly increasing real prices. Gasoline is cheap unless you are unemployed and broke then it is a luxury available only to millionaires. The wealth shifting consumption process steals jobs so that some may drive.

It was bad enough that consumption was stealing food so that some may drive.

In the beginning it was subprime borrowers - those with bad credit and little income - who failed the finance mechanism created to support (exploit) them. At the end it is the subprime borrowers - those with bad credit and little income - that fail the finance mechanism. One is 'Joe Blow' who was a retail clerk or construction day- laborer, the other is the United Kingdom.

... or Dubai, Greece, California or Japan. The distinction between cases is scale, not structure. Welcome to the subprime USA!

The outcome is advancing poverty and the diminished ability to consume, the distinction here is consumption for what? This is the inconvenient question that seems to pop up like the repo man: what will 'X' energy be used for? So far, the need to answer that question - to set priorities and to eliminate consumption from GDP - has been successfully pushed forward into the future. The future is now! Eliminating consumption for its own sake is the same as discovering another Saudi Arabia, that does not have to be drilled!

We simply have to decide not to use it and pay ourselves for not using it. Let someone - anyone - get rich for not consuming and the energy crisis is solved.

But ... the current paradigm must play itself out, first. Yes folks, we are that stupid.

Yes, great post steve. Took me awhile to digest, not sure if I have much to add.

A considerably more critical metric, IMHO, are the megaprojects planned or in process. Those will have a very great deal to do with the shape of the downward slope. We probably need a little more focus on those than we've seen here lately.

There's no way to tell whether changes in production are due to supply or demand

This uncertainty explains why TOD is so interesting from an analytic point-of-view.
If we didn't have uncertainty we wouldn't really need analysis and the debate that comes along with it.
The more uncertainty we have, the more motivation we have to figure things out (at least for me).

To have USA or other democracy change policies, the masses need to be persuaded. I personally believe that a focused site will be more effective than one that has a lot of off topic material.

No one I know reads every word & comment on TOD.

The focus is in the articles/key posts. At least one/day. Scroll back a couple of pages and find what interests you. We cannot write EVERYTHING exclusively for newbies.

Drumbeat came into existence in a response to a need to stay more "on topic" in the articles/key posts and their specific topics.

one that has a lot of off topic material

Climate Change is AT LEAST as on target as the current status of Ghawar. Arguably more so.

It would be VERY misleading to talk only about oil and not about the environmental effects.

Best Hopes for Seeing the obvious link,


....the masses need to be persuaded.

I suggest the masses need to be educated. It's going to be hard when we have "Democratic" legislatures( that don't know the difference between astrology and astronomy) passing education bills like this:

South Dakota legislature declares that astrology can explain global warming

This sort of idiocy/ignorance needs to be exposed where-ever/whenever possible. Do you think their ridiculous attempt to misinform their schoolkids is not related to their "newfound" oil?

The problem with political solutions and group action in general is that most people have a high school education and if they graduated high school it was with a C average. This is the situation of the majority of voters. Those who receive high or low marks are in the minority. If the low marks and failures to graduate high school are added to those with a C average there is a strong majority who have poor independent reasoning skills.

Since school boards are also political offices they respond to the majority opinion. That opinion is based on culture and religion, not scientific reasoning. This is the reason logic is not taught in high school. If it were students would start to question what they are taught at home. That is a no no for any school board member who wants re-election. So logic and independent reasoning is not taught in high school, but reserved for college and is generally taught in Composition 101 there.

However since only about 16% or so ever graduate college, there are on average few in the body electorate capable of using logic properly or of independent reasoning based on it. And those who do use logic and independent reasoning are despised and called elitist by the majority because the the results they are arrive at contradict views held on the basis of poor reasoning or non reasoning.

Arguments about Peak Oil, global warming and evolution are beyond the capabilities of the majority of the electorate.
They vote tradition, culture and religion along with emotion. Of course this frustrates the elites who think they know better. But majority rule is majority rule. It is not rule by those who think they know better.

That is why looking to politics is not a viable answer to problems like Peak Oil, Global Warming and other complex issues.

Intellectual arguments get hijacked by the opposition who care little for the rules of logic as in the Argument Clinic:


IMO, the legislature members know the difference, but they do not care.

...the masses need to be persuaded.

That statement is hilarious. I know of a few million others who are all trying to do exactly that. Only their are trying to persuade the masses to convert to their politics, or their religion, or to their ideas as to how society should behave.

But should you, or anyone else, try to persuade the public on how to mitigate peak oil, or AGW, you will have about as much success as those other few million sites, or newspapers, or magazines, or radio and TV programs, trying to persuade the public to their particular viewpoint about their religion or politics or whatever.

Persuading the masses....give me a break!

Ron P.

I'm sure the iron triangle appreciates your willingness to run your white undies up the pole. Of course, they will continue their campaign, quite successful at the moment, to disinform the masses on multiple fronts, most notably regarding climate change.

Of course, they will continue their campaign,

Toil, I have seen a lot of people miss the point I, or anyone else for that matter, that I was trying to get across, but I seldom see anyone miss it quite as far as you.

Yes, of course they will continue their campaign. That was my point. Everyone has a flipping campaign! And everyone will continue their campaign. The public knows what they wish to believe. And the public will believe the person on their soap box who is telling them exactly what they wish to hear. Tell people what they wish to hear and they will be your true believers forever. But tell them something they do not wish to hear and he will shut their eyes and stop their ears to anything you have to say.

The vast majority of people simply cannot be persuaded by arguments. Only events can make them face reality.

Ron P.

But tell them something they do not wish to hear and he will shut their eyes and stop their ears to anything you have to say.

Hear no PO........Speak no PO.........See no PO..........NO!

As an empiricist, I don't see the separation of arguments from events. The meaning of each derives from the other.

Campaigns work, which is why people with interests to protect spend so much money on them. And campaigns against entrenced economic interests have also been successful.

Victories are rarely if ever complete. Lots of people still smoke, but do so in decreasing numbers where campaigns have been undertaken, and do so in increasingly restricted areas. The campaign against slavery has not succeeded in eliminating slavery, but has removed this practice from most countries and has resulted in no one of any social standing defending the institution of slavery. The campaign for toleration of sexual orientation has made tremendous inroads in about a generation. The idea that men and women are equal, if not the same, is resisted in fewer and fewer parts of the world.

Campaigns do not depend on argument alone for their success, but argument is essential. Evolution has produced a species that can conceive of the future, can think logically and can weigh alternatives.

Some years ago, you drew my attention to Steven Pinker. Thank-you for that. In the following, Pinker is in the midst of responding to 'blankslaters' concerned about the implications of the idea of human nature. The first paragraph is Pinker summing up the concern of 'blankslaters' regarding the possibility of human perfectability (in a part not quoted here, he deals with the dangers of the very idea of perfectability, and I agree with him on that point as well):

http://www.tvo.org/TVO/WebObjects/TVO.woa?videoid?27290963001 (about minutes 36-38~)

"Why try to make the world a better place if people are rotten to the core and will just foul it up no matter what you do?

"Well, I think this too is a non-sequitar, because ignoble motives, even if they are innate, do not automatically lead to ignoble behaviour. Because the human mind is a complex system of many parts and some parts can counteract the others. Such as a moral sense, or a set of cognitive abilities that allows us to learn about the lessons of history, and the executive systems of the frontal lobes that can take advantage of that knowledge gained and the moral sense in order to devise new ways of getting along with one another. Indeed, the undeniable moral progress that has existed over the past few centuries did not take place because human nature was erased and replaced with something better, but because one part of human nature was stretched in its application."

I think it is precisely because of their recognition of our capacity to learn, to change our personal behaviour, to innovate, to adapt our institutions to new circumstances and events, that people like E.O. Wilson campaign even in the last stage of life to change the trajectory of the human activity. Evidently, Wilson, for example, believes in the necessity and strength of argument.

Indeed, the undeniable moral progress that has existed over the past few centuries did not take place because human nature was erased and replaced with something better, but because one part of human nature was stretched in its application."

I would argue that we are at a huge disadvantage, at least in the USA. We've let the profit motive dominate the providers of mass communications. They have discovered that humans are suckers for emotional thinking, and personal storytelling. The problem is this doesn't much engage the logical process. A compelling personal story about something very rare has more effect on public perceptions than a less emotionally compelling story about a common phenomenon. So we end up with all sorts of myths, such as "don't wear your seatbelt, your best chance in a crash is to be able to jump out of the car -wear your belt and you will burn to death in the wreck". In short for the entertainment industry, which has taken over public communications to the masses, "never let a fact or statistic get in the way of a good story" is a fundamental principle of business. Similarly for politicians, and political activists, "never let a fact ruin a good talking point", is engraved in stone. In order to make progress -or even halt the decline towards batshit insane levels of public misunderstanding we have to overcome the reams of emotionally compelling, but logically suspect programming that the public gladly consumes.

As an empiricist, I don't see the separation of arguments from events.

Well I think you have a serious problem Toil. Let me see if I can help you out. An argument would be a preacher arguing to his congregation that Jesus is coming soon. An event would be his actual arrival. Understand? If not then let me know and I will try to think of another example. ;-) Anyway, the former would not convince me, the latter would. ;-)

Thanks for the Pinker video link. I will watch it tomorrow. I hope it is not one that I have already seen. But even if it is I will watch it again anyway.

I have no argument with you about people's ability to learn. But we learn what we are ready to learn. Did you ever meet a creationist that was ready to learn about evolution. People believe, most people anyway, what they desire to believe. We see in the world what we desire to see and no argument will convince us otherwise. Here is one of the best explanations of this human predilection I ever read:

Perhaps the most important advance in the behavioral sciences in our times has been the growing recognition that the perceiver is not just a passive camera taking a picture, but takes an active part in perception. He sees what experience has conditioned him to see. What perceiver then sees what is really there? Nobody of course. Each of us perceives what our past has prepared us to perceive. We select and distinguish, we focus on some objects and relationships and we blur others. We distort objective reality to make it conform to our needs or, our hopes, our fears, our hates, our envies, our affections. Our eyes and brains do not merely register some objective portrait of other persons or groups but our very active scene is warped by what we have been taught to believe, by what we want to believe and by what we need to believe. It is impossible to reason a man out of something he has not been reasoned into. When people have acquired their beliefs on an emotional level they cannot be persuaded out of them on a rational level, no matter how strong the proof or the logic behind it. People will hold onto their emotional beliefs and twist the facts to meet their version of reality.
Sidney J. Harris

Ron P.

Pinker is smarter than most could ever hope to be, but somehow despite reading some of his books I never warmed to him. I think it's the insufferable optimism.

Funny you should say that. Ever since Pinker said, "My genes can go jump in a lake," I've thought that about him. Brilliant, but not informed enough with the tragic view.

I think the same thing about Dawkins. Perhaps it's because they only hang around smart people like themselves.

Remember the close of Dawkins' "Selfish Gene?" Paraphrase: But we humans, only we can break away from the dominion of the selfish replicators!

No, dude. Maybe YOU can--maybe Pinker can--smart person that you are, but "WE" humans? No.

Still growing, 10,000 per hour.

(Pinker's latest book is a vast disappointment. I call "The Stuff of Thought" "Stuffy Thoughts," because there's something so pedestrian about it.)

If the masses are not persuaded, then this site is merely a theoritical talking box for a very, very small minority; and in the long run, will have no measureable effect on the world.

Right! If this site converts 10,000 people to the peak oil point of view, whatever that is, then that is .00015% of the world's population. That should be enough to save the world from economic collapse. Or, to save the world from whatever we are trying to save it from.

By the way Blondie, just how many people would need to persuaded in order to claim that "masses" have been persuaded? What percentage of the world's population are we aiming for? And just what do you think the goal of The Oil Drum is? Is the goal of this site to convert the masses. If so what are we trying to convert them to?

Anyway if it is a mass movement you are aiming for then I recommend you read:
The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer. As for me I have read it, three or four times. But I have no illusions... or delusions... about changing the world.

Ron P.

a side note to your 10.000 converters ...
The site tells there are '15,618 Days to the end of oil', 42.7 years = October 2052 to be exact.

But should you, or anyone else, try to persuade the public on how to mitigate peak oil, or AGW, you will have about as much success as those other few million sites, or newspapers, or magazines, or radio and TV programs, trying to persuade the public to their particular viewpoint about their religion or politics or whatever.

Interesting. I intrepret Machiavelli to say I should keep following TOD :)

"Men will always follow paths beaten by others, and proceed in their actions by imitation. But as they are rarely able to keep to these paths, or to match the skill of those they imitate, a prudent man should always set out on paths beaten by those who are truely great and worthy of imitation." -- Niccolo Machiavelli

Focused just on Peak Oil will lead to the wrong solution, worse than no solution IMO. See Hirsch.

So, if given the choice of no planned response to Peak Oil and a response that ignores Climate Change, then I think no response is preferable, even if it means social & economic collapse.

For the CO2 will last a millennium and the USA will not in any case. A new civilization will likely arise from the ashes of ours.


For what it's worth - I enjoy the Drumbeat and it's wide range of articles and comments. Including the AGW material. Many people have made good arguments on the subject and have done so without distracting from anything.

Keep it up Leanan and the TOD.

And I think the political aspects of the climate change debate are very relevant.
Climate change is how the world is talking about energy.

Leanan, if it's about talking from politicians most times one have to think on a saying from Jimi Hendrix:

"Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens"

Peak oil and climate change are just symptoms of the larger overshoot predicament. I value the trend to a broader view on TOD.

I agree with you Leanan. Energy is what caused AGW, and if we had a large clean cheap supply of energy we could use it to solve AGW.

Drumbeat just isn't the place for the high level arguments like were going on with Heading Out last month. And We can't let the denialists think they won if no one responds to them.


If people ignore climate change, they are more likely to see peak oil as a non problem. Just go full speed ahead on oil shale, tar sands, and coal. As much as I sometimes think I would be better off in denial, please keep up the agw articles.

I'm with you blondieBC.

I came to the Oil Drum to explore the many ramifications of peak oil - and there are many.If I wanted to explore climate change there are many other sites to go to.

The argument that global warming is closely related because it also involves fossil fuels is a weak one frankly.

And I do think the Drum is losing focus by all these references, stories, and links to climate change consequences.

How about just staying out of the DrumBeat, then? That's kind of why we set up the DrumBeat to begin with.

Maybe you need to add a tutorial about scrolling? ; ]

Then they wouldn't have achieved their main purpose - to beat down anyone who talks about AGW. They think if they keep doing it, AGW will go away.

You are not helping Evnow. That comment is just silly. And I must add when drumbeats becomes two thirds to three fourths global warming posts, it will not be worth following anymore.

I believe in global warming and I believe it is man made. However there is not a damn thing we can do about it. However I must also admit that there is not a damn thing we can do about peak oil either. We are but observers. I guess my bias is that I would rather discuss peak oil, oil production, and the consequences of peak oil a lot more than AGW. All that endless bickering about AGW just gets boring.

I still follow global oil production very closely. I track several web sites but especially the EIA production numbers.

Ron P.

Ditto Ron

Thank you for making me feel welcome to the community. I will stay out in the future.

You are recommending a change to a daily column that has been running in this format for several years. And your basis for this change is simply because you disagree with the focus of the column.

In addition, you have the option to:

1. Not read Drumbeats at all yet still read TOD to get oil articles that interest you.
2. Read Drumbeats but scroll past AGW stories and comments.
3. Not read TOD.

Yet you instead try to argue that your position should be the new normal and that Leanan should adhere to your preferences (versus those of many others) in choosing what to include in the Drumbeats. I recommend that you reconsider your position, especially in light of the long history of Drumbeats on TOD. Personally, I simply scroll past much of the commentary and I don't read every linked Drumbeat story anyway.

2. Read Drumbeats but scroll past AGW stories and comments.

I tend to do this whenever DB (or Campfire) posts descend into debates about Human Nature or religion. I find both topics interesting, but at some point in the threads, I decide I've read enough, collapse the entire thread, and move on. :)

The AGCC (of which I am personally convinced) threads are interesting if for no other reason than the entertainment factor of watching people with untenable positions get hammered by the likes of Darwinian and ccpo. :)

I didn't tell you to go away. Just to stay out of the DrumBeat if you don't like the "big lens" stuff.

I don't recognize your name, so I thought you might be new here. It's not unusual for newbies to come in complaining about all the off-topic stuff in the DrumBeat...not realizing that that's kind of the point of the DrumBeat. There are plenty of other threads for you to read and participate in, and they will be more focused.

I love DrumBeat - it is compulsory for me every day (both the news stories selected, and the various paths the comments take in response, on topic or off) - it's endlessly informative, and the Global Warming balance is about right too, I think.

My only criticism is the reasonably frequent discussions about TEOTWAWKI occurring soon - and lots of talk about people changing (having to change) their lives in order to operate in a situation of societal breakdown (whether caused by economic collapse, or a shortage of affordable oil, or both). I remain unconvinced that anyone currently reading here (especially the Boomers and older) will be required to so drastically change their way of life out of necessity. Plenty might well do so out of choice, perhaps for their children's sake, but that is different.

There is nothing wrong with heading for the hills, or smaller communities, and getting the farm, and growing veggies, installing the PV, and stocking up on hand-powered tools ... but I think it is lifestyle stuff for a tiny percentage of the population that is mainly in cities. Perhaps it is a higher proportion of the readership here, of course - people with the intellectual breadth, skills, natural inclination that way, and of course, the financial means and career options to do it.

Maybe I am quite wrong, and in ten years time everything will be so different that we cannot envisage it from here, but for most of us, sheltering from an economic storm in our current (highly urban/suburban) situation is the reality, rather than 40 acres and a mule in New Hampshire or Oregon.

I agree. More and more, it's looking like the most likely future is what Sharon Astyk called "the brother in law on the couch version of the apocalypse."

There are two paths to mitigating (or trying to) Peak Oil. One will boil the planet in the process (Hirsch). The other will significantly reduce oil use while significantly reducing carbon emissions (bicycling, electrified rail, conservation, efficiency).

PO & CC are Siamese twins. I do NOT think that they can be separated.


Agreed. All these complaints about discussing AGW on TOD ignores the fact that there is a major PR disinformation campaign in operation which spreads propaganda to hundreds of web sites every day. On occasion I've tracked stories as they have spread, so I know this is a fact. I can only hope that this site continues to offer the opportunity to rebut some of that propaganda as it appears in the media...

E. Swanson

The way I see it, all the things in your second category are things we need to do anyway, simply because the FFs are depleting away. Any carbon reductions and mitigation of AGW are simply icing on the cake.

It matters less why someone does the right thing, than that they do it.


Thanks for the options Alan. I vote for boiling the planet. But then again you know how I make a living.

Just teasing. I always admire your dead fast devotion to your cause. But that doesn't mean I can't mess with you from time to time.

PO & CC are Siamese twins

Thank you Alan. Anyone who cannot see the relationship between the two needs to spend more time thinking about the carbon cycle, and has not grasped the reality of what PO means. The energy in FF is stored in the carbon molecular bonds, there is no way to use it without liberating the carbon, and there is no way to recombine it without putting the energy back into it. Further, there is no way for 7 billion people to survive without continuing to use vast quantities of fossil fuels. So the climate will change, and it might be worthwhile understanding that better.

From a bigger picture:

* I appreciate your efforts and that there are things that are worthwhile doing - that could make the lives of surviving people in the future easier and perhaps reduce the trauma of the coming troubles.

* I also appreciate the efforts of those who are interested in studying the details of decline rates and such - even though it bores me some and from a big picture POV the timing won't really matter much. Basically I think it is pretty well settled - PO is "now", more or less, and there are a host of other forces that will have significant impacts on how things play out.

The key is to understand that we are living through the interplay of several large forces, and that minor changes in those can have very significant effects on the details of how things will work, but in the big picture it is pretty clear what will happen. So mitigation strategies like rail projects may have big impact for some, but will never be able to change the fact that our overpopulated industrial world will have to change in drastic ways. That does not mean they aren't worth doing.

Lastly, the only thing worse than peak oil is no peak oil. By that I mean that I do not believe that humans will stop using FF, and that PO is the only thing that has the capability of having a significant impact. I desperately hope we do not find any more big fields.

There are now over a hundred potential coal-fired power stations that have been cancelled or postponed because, in part, of concerns over the possibility that their products will enhance global warming.

If coal is not used then, recognizing that there will be some conservation, but also being realistic, alternate sources of power will be required. This is, therefore, quite germane, but there has to be a balance,and that is not always understood

Re: Saudi Arabia, China, India, etc. (various links uptop) & ELM 2.0

ELM 2.0 takes into account Chindia's rapidly increasing net oil imports, which went from 4.6 mbpd in 2005 to 6.0 mbpd in 2008 (EIA), a rate of change of +9.0%/year. Extrapolated out to 2010, they would be net importing about 7.2 mbpd. Expressed as a percentage of net exports from the (2005) top five net exporters, Chindia's net imports increased from 19% of the top five in 2005 to 27% in 2008, to a projected 33% in 2010. One can see where the trend is headed, as combined net exports from the (2005) top five showed a -2%/year rate of change, from 2005 to 2008.

But let's look at the Net/Net Exports from the top five, after subtracting out Chindia's net imports. In 2005, the Net/Net (2005 top five) number was about 19.4 mbpd. Assuming 22 mbpd Net Exports from the top five in 2010, and assuming 7.2 mbpd net imports into Chindia, the Net/Net number would fall to 14.8 mbpd in 2010.

Now, Sam's best case for the (2005) top five is that their net exports would be down to about 15 mbpd in 2018, and if we extrapolate Chindia's net imports, they would be approaching 15 mbpd in 2018, resulting in a projected Net/Net number of zero. If we do some "Cowboy Integration" (19.6 mbpd X 365 Days X 13 years X 0.5), it suggests that estimated post-2005 Net/Net Top Five Cumulative Exports are about 46 Gb. At the end of this year, the projected remaining Net/Net (2005) Top Five Cumulative Exports would be down to about 22 Gb, a five year Net/Net depletion rate of 15%/year. This is ELM 2.0.

How much of Chindia's crude imports do actually come from the top 5 net exporters? The above asumes ALL comes from these 5 expertors, in reality they get their crude from many.

ELM is certainly an "interseting" concept, ELM 2.0 is just confusing

How much of Chindia's crude imports do actually come from the top 5 net exporters?

It doesn't really matter. It was just an example that was easier to understand if the top only the top five exporters were used and only China and India were used as examples of importers.

How much of the US's imports come from the top five exporters? Or South Korea's? All exporters are exporting as if the importing world were one big barrel and they are all dumping oil into that one barrel and all importers are sucking oil from that one barrel.

It is net exports verses net imports. I sure wish there was a web site that tracked such. There used to be a net oil exports web site but the owner of that site has completely abandoned the site.

Ron P.

Now that you mention it, Ron, BP has included info on regional Oil Imports/Exports each year in the Stat Review, and back issues (to 2002) are available at the Energy Export Databrowser site. Without doubt Foucher has included all that in his analysis, though. But it would be simple enough to play around with the data with on one's own.

As I said, “Expressed as a percentage of net exports from the (2005) top five net exporters.”

Several Points: (1) Saudi Arabia is increasingly favoring China & India as their prime customers, with the US fading fast; (2) The (2005) top five account for about half of global net oil exports; (3) Closer to home, in the bottom half of 2005 net exporters, combined net exports from Canada, Mexico & Venezuela dropped by 20% in just four years, from 2004 to 2008; (4) The crux of the ELM 2.0 argument is that developing countries will continue to outbid developed countries for declining oil exports.

IMO, if my original post above isn’t just about the scariest thing that you have ever read, you don’t fully understand the problem.

Let’s try it this way. If we extrapolate recent trends, Chindia’s net imports in 2018 (eight years from now), expressed as a percentage of combined projected net exports from the (2005) top five net exporters, will be approaching 100%, leaving nothing for non-Chindia oil importers.

Ah, 4) made it more clear. ELM 1.0 was scary enough, thank you. I do understand the problem. Fully (4 years, 9 weeks on TOD). I suppose a major war will break out before 2018 then.

I suppose a major war will break out before 2018 then.

No, PP. A major depression will break out.

Those are not mutually independent possibilities.

By 2018, China will be needing those 18 subway lines in Shanghai (largest in world by good fraction when completed)





Other Chinese Metros


that 20,000km of additional electrification of railroads (and 20,000 km of new rail lines, not same as electrified km)

and ALL those deals that they have made with oil exporters.

Best Hopes for eBike sales in China !


I wonder whether the millions of batteries for electric bikes are going to become an issue. Why not go all the way?


No batteries
No pollution
Life cycle measured in decades
Heart healthy

Heart healthy means more Chinese.

Of one looks at the benign neglect of cigarette smoking in China (no warnings, public info, quit smoking programs, etc.) one can deduce that the leadership is not that interested in longer life expectancy in China. Same for air pollution. Longer lives mean more Chinese.

Once population begins to fall (2035 ? due to one child policy), and China is not in a crisis, that attitude may change.


Yep, bicycles are great. Just ask 2 billion Asians who are sick of it and like driving cars much, much better.

I would prefer to ask the Dutch and the Danes.

PS: They live many years longer than obese Americans.

The death and disability costs of autos in Asia are horrendous (India >100,000 deaths/year). The air is past polluted, unbreathable in many cities.

Automobiles are seductive until one creates a lifestyle dependent upon them. That lifestyle is an unhealthy and wasteful, one with too much social isolation. And can require invading countries to get oil.

Best Hopes for far fewer cars,


IMO, if my original post above isn’t just about the scariest thing that you have ever read, you don’t fully understand the problem.


If we extrapolate recent trends, Chindia’s net imports in 2018 (eight years from now), expressed as a percentage of combined projected net exports from the (2005) top five net exporters, will be approaching 100%, leaving nothing for non-Chindia oil importers.

Chindia on collision course (kamikaze run) with the rest of the world.

Chindia on collision course (kamikaze run) with the rest of the world.

At what point will they be on a collision course with each other?

When will all the major players be on a collision course with one another?

When will all the major players be on a collision course with one another?

From the moment they all imported oil.

IMO, if my original post above isn’t just about the scariest thing that you have ever read, you don’t fully understand the problem.

The whole argument is predicated on the assumption that OPEC is wholly in decline, or that nothing can replace their production, or that importers are incapable of curbing demand, to name just a few factors in an exceedingly dynamic system.

Middle East output contracted -1.30% in 2007 - peak? They gained 3.94% in 2008. They also contracted -2.17% and -6.01% for 2001 and 2002, were they going over a cliff then?

I do agree that skyrocketing demand and declining exports will be a big factor in coming years, but really dislike these screaming headline type statements.

Looking at it this way. Chindia is able to deliver several times the units of GDP on each unit of energy than economy US. Chindia is running huge current account surpluses. US is running huger current account deficits. Chindia is operating largely on cash US largely on debt. Chindia is holding plenty of US debt but is increasingly able to exchange it for real resources over time.
Likely outcome Chindia will outbid US for needed resources just as WT and Sam F. have been predicting and charting. US purchasing power will diminish by whatever means for said resources. Producers will tend to want to sell to Chindia rather than US.

The ability of the US government to raise longterm funds through treasury auction will be increasingly impaired by the unwillingness of lenders to 'bet' on 10 year or longer notes. In addition to cripplingly steep T-bill curve I expect the CDS market to begin signalling Greece style debt default for the US within the next few years. (but with no entity large enough to shoulder the bailout burden) 100% debt to GDP threshold to be breached by end this year. (400% total dept to GDP for private, gov, corporate) Unfunded mandates CDS market off the charts greater than entire value of assets.

State bankrupties, mortgage devaluation, corporate failures will make borrowing, revenue and job loss picture 'unrecoverable'. Many debt ridden resource poor OECD 'patients' will not get get back on their feet and function in the new paradigm hence be unable effectively participate in resource competition, spun as 'peak demand'. A few more relatively fit economies can struggle on for awhile longer.

Footnote; I do not expect forced resource constraint to be equally borne along the food chain within country. Additionally domestic supplies of energy will also become subject to the relative fitness of these other economies just as we have already seen happening with those traditionally within the US 'sphere of influence'.

There is a difference--the US government doesn't purchase oil and related products for the whole US economy. Implied but not expressed by the outbidding aspect of the ELM is the failure of the IOCs to outbid China's state oil company and India's ten largest oil and gas companies, of which the state-owned company is by far the largest.

The above mixing of apples and oranges has always bothered me regarding ELM's premises. I understand why they're grouped together--to simplify the model--but it renders the model inaccurate to some degree.

Yeah I think I get your point. Having to answer to shareholders a bit different than the ruling party. I had a bit of personal experience with this.

Understand refineries in China are forced into a position where they occaisionally have their 'margins' squeezed pretty hard. When I was in China we were told the refineries were in a bit of revolt (because their profits were negative on the finished price control) and had simply slowed down their 'throughput' so we had some pretty long lines for getting fuel, mainly diesel. Can't make it too 'efficient' or they'd probably shut down altogether, but ,yeah, that could get punitive pretty fast. This was prior to the Olympics and oil was high I guess they resolved it somehow.

The largest refinery being state run in India probably gives them a lot of 'price control' too.

I do see that margins get squeezed with the IOC's here too and they also tend to slow things down or do maintenance until finished products get scarce. Interesting point though.

Having spent some time in developing countries I'm thinking ,since so much more useful work is done by hand, by bicycle and cart, and by more appropriate sized engines that through ,what we would think of as, sacrifice the fuel that does get burned is used fairly productively. The trucks that moved where I was in W. Africa had to be overloaded to the max before they turned a wheel. I saw just a lot of big loads being carried on peoples heads which would have required a P/U here. Saw a fair amount of that in China too, along with some truck 'deadheading' on the freeways which did surprize me.

The contract bicycle construction gangs with equiptment were amazing. I saw a baked yam bike and trailer complete with blazing cast iron oven, wood supply and a big pile of yams being pedaled (or even peddeled) by a middle aged woman through Shanghai to supply a cheap hot lunch for factory workers. It must've weighed 300 lbs. it's gonna be tough to compete with that post peak.

Thanks for your reply and the annecdotal information. I haven't spent very much time outside of the USA, but my brother went around the planet three times via backpack and hostel, and his stories and pictures were very educational. Refinery capacity in the US is shrinking; I think the goal is to get retail gasoline and diesel back over $3/gal national average, which will likely be accomplished by the end of June.

You understand my point, but I'll make myself clearer. There is no mechanism that allows any level of US government to order a refinery to buy oil to supply the domestic market. That market is only supplied as long as a profit can be made. State-owned refineries have no choice but to supply the domestic market at the level dictated by their bosses; for the PRC's government, it doesn't matter if refineries make a profit or not as it's more important to keep the overall economy running efficiently. This imparts a very big advantage. However, it is possible for US governments to purchase fuel and then distribute it, but that still requires refiners that for the moment remain private.

And that last sentence allows me to say that I see the whole energy distribution system as a natural monopoly which like railroads and airlines would be more efficient if the profit motive was eliminated. As you note, the USA is already at a disadvantage; and as I once pointed out to students, it was the Chinese laborer who built the railroads through the Sierra Nevada by doing things no white man would or in many cases could do. When the going gets tough, the tough get going; how does that bode for a mostly sedentary and 30%+ obese society?

When the going gets tough, the tough get going; how does that bode for a mostly sedentary and 30%+ obese society?

I'm thinking new concept for 'NutriSystems'.

Here is the result of ELM 2.0 on U.S. Net Imports:

Net imports in December 2009 is down 4,952,000 b/d from peak month (August 2006).

US consumption roughly 20% down from its peak? Could that be the equivalent of the REAL economic downturn?

That's imports not consumption. Here's Products Supplied (consumption)

Dec 2009 is down approximately 10% from Dec 2005.

US Natural Gas consumption also increased after the peak in oil consumption - slightly offsetting the reduced oil use.

This is the Oil Products supplied graph in thousands of barrels per day format. It goes through the end of 2009. December 2009 is very close to December 2008. The year consumption was that low previously in December was 2001 (during the recession). To get equivalently low consumption prior to that, you have to go back to 1996.

Yes, Undertow, I know the chart shows imports. US oil consumption peaked at 20.8 millon barrels in 2005 as far as I know. If imports are down almost 5 millon barrels, assuming a slight offset by natural gas and local oil production, there is a reduction of about 20% in consumption.

The graphs posted by myself and Gail clearly show that consumption is not down 20%.

According to the EIA in 2005 (peak year) US consumption of oil products averaged 20.802 mb/day (matching your figure). The preliminary value (from the EIA monthly reports) for 2009 is 18.685 mb/day. That's a 10% reduction not 20%. You can drill down on the EIA site if you want to see how it all balances.

It all depends on what you mean by "oil": product supplied in the US 2005-2009:


Most of the decline is in "other oils" and distillates, i.e., plastics and semis, to single out their two most totemistic applications.

It all depends on what you mean by "oil": product supplied in the US 2005-2009:

It's not why I mean. It's what the EIA means (they are their figures and their definitions) but I agree with your general point.

Agree. Though I think a year's average doesn't show the whole depth of this relatively fast developing event. I see the reduction closer to 3 mb/day or almost 15%.

Could that be the equivalent of the REAL economic downturn?

Here's the view of the downturn from the JODI Databrowser:

The flows reported in the JODI dataset and depicted in the following graphs are defined as follows:

  • Production -- Marketed production, after removal of impurities but including quantities consumed by the producer in the production process
  • Stocks -- Represents the primary stock level at the end of the month within national territories ; includes stocks held by importers, refiners, stock holding organisations and governments
  • Stock Changes -- Closing minus opening level
  • Demand -- Deliveries or sales to the inland market (domestic consumption) plus Refinery Fuel plus International Marine and Aviation Bunkers.

Imports and Exports are reported separately and should be equivalent to production - consumption + stock change. The numbers don't always match up perfectly, though. (The JODI dataset is imperfect but data from certain nations -- the US is one -- are pretty good.)

Here's the the latest chart for gasoline with data up to December, 2009:

Straight through 2008 and 2009 there is only the slightest reduction in demand (aka Consumption). There is no obvious trend.

For diesel, however, we see a different picture:

Starting in 2008 we see a very noticeable decrease in diesel consumption that outpaces any reduction in refinery output. This imbalance is seen both in a stock build and in reported exports. In the last few months of 2009, however, there appears to be a trend change toward increased diesel use. Is this a sign of increased consumer buying toward the end of the year resulting in increased trucking? I don't have many answers here, mostly questions.

The reason for looking at the flows of individual refinery products instead of total products is that the recession/depression will have subtle effects on the redistribution of petroleum products that can only be determined be looking at the detailed data rather than the summary data. Another example is the kerosene graph (jet fuel) which has been declining since 2006. If I had to summarize the above two graphs (and kerosene) I'd say that they provide evidence that people will give up shopping and vacations before they give up driving which I think is probably true.

These are some of the changes in energy consumption behavior that the downturn has caused thus far. I expect we'll have to wait for $5 gasoline before we see a rapid decrease in gasoline demand.

This same look-into-the-details approach is what motivates the Energy Export Databrowser which invites users to examine energy flows for oil, coal and natural gas in individual nations and multi-nation groupings. Peak Oil (and peak coal and gas) will play out very unevenly across the globe and it behooves us to figure out how to communicate this complexity to decision makers.

Happy Exploring!

-- Jon

Hey Jon,

My exceedingly crude form of data analysis is to extend the X axis on a spreadsheet out to, oh, 2015, then slap linear trend lines on data since, oh, last June. When I do this for US distillates I get them broaching 4.5 mb/d a little over a year from now, which is rather extraordinary - they've operated in a <5mb/d band since '05. Average since then is 4062.8 kb/d, average for '05 is 4133.25 kb/d, latest high is 3988 kb/d in mid-Dec (Christmas related?), so that as a trend suggests incipient recovery.

My graph posted upthread shows product supplied + 3 month moving averages, good enough resolution to see what's been happening lately. There have been big head fakes in the past, though; people love to drive, fly, ship stuff, make plastic shopping bags, pesticides, propane fired barbecues, and I don't know what else!

In the last few months of 2009, however, there appears to be a trend change toward increased diesel use. Is this a sign of increased consumer buying toward the end of the year resulting in increased trucking? I don't have many answers here, mostly questions.

Maybe folks are using diesel to heat their homes. I know a guy that can't afford a full order of heating oil so he's been using diesel in his boiler, which he can buy a few gallons at a time, sometimes cheaper than the heating oil. The oil companies also charge a premium to deliver small loads. Dude says he can save money buying off-road diesel, so he just picks up 10 gals or so when he gets his unemployment.

Huh. Can you do that without damage to the furnace?

You know about EIA - Petroleum Consumption/Sales Data & Analysis, I assume. Prime Supplier Sales Volumes has monthly data for #2 Fuel Oil, i.e. Heating Oil; trend is down down down.

This is 13.5% of total distillates for Dec, seasonal peak of usage of course. I ran some percentages on market share which I'd quote but my XP is on the fritz at the moment.

damage to the furnace diesel fuel - Google Search

Can you mix kerosene with home heating oil without damage to furnace or contaminating home heating oil?
In: Miscellaneous, Home and Garden [Edit categories]
Yes you can; According to "FlashOffRoad"

"Kerosene is routinely added to home heating oil, in large quantities. The furnace doesn't know, or care. The furnace oil pump does not have the same clearances (they are more crude, greater clearances, lower pressure...) and the kerosene won't hurt them. Most will (and often do) run on straight kerosene--here in NH, if the oil tank is outside, the mix will be either 50/50 or straight kerosene. Kerosene doesn't have the same heat values either, you won't get the same amount of power from a gallon of kerosene as from heating oil, or diesel fuel."

See full article for more detail

I know folks that have done it for years. The only difference is that diesel has a cetane (and sulfur) limit for use in ICEs. From wiki:

Number 1 is similar to kerosene and is the fraction that boils off right after gasoline.

Number 2 is the diesel fuel that trucks and some cars run on, leading to the name "road diesel". It is the same thing as heating oil.

Number 3 is a distillate fuel oil and is rarely used.

Number 4 fuel oil is usually a blend of distillate and residual fuel oils, such as No. 2 and 6; however, sometimes it is just a heavy distillate. No. 4 may be classified as diesel, distillate or residual fuel oil.


I just called a buddy at the oil company. Their delivered price for >150 gals of heating oil today is $2.93. Onroad (taxed) diesel was $2.79 at my local station. I bought off-road (untaxed, dyed) for my genny yesterday for $2.36. If I heated with oil, I know what I would be using.

Your lucky Ghung;;;; I have to go into town tomorrow and buy fuel for my road grader. I will get the Red Dyed stuff, and won't have to pay the road tax but I will have to pay the sales tax, which is 10.5% It will be interesting to see what I pay for the 120 gal. I get.

Youn can put diesel fuel in your furnace and have no problems;put furnace fuel in your diesel over the long haul and you MIGHT SUFFER AN EXPENSIVE BREAKDOWN OR A SHORTEN THE LIFE OF YOUR ENGINE.

A lot of people around here used to put furnace fuel in thier farm equipment , but not many do so any more.

I not sure just what the difference is , but I suspect that some contaminants that are removed from name brand diesel are left in furnace fuel.

At the least I would reccomend that any one using only modest quantities buy theier diesel fuel from a reputable local supplier handling a name brand product.

You can't save enough on a hundred gallons or two hundred gallons a year to compensate for the risk of a very expensive engine failure.

This said, in apinch I would still put some furnace fuel in my own equipment-but I will never make a habit of it.The guys who made a habit out of it have mostly become convinced it doesn't pay anymore.

I'm sure that the overall decline for heating oil is folks switching to natgas and electric heat. Many electric companies have offered "total electric" incentives over the years. Newer oil heating systems are more efficient as well.

Or many of the homes still heating with oil have been abandoned? I wonder if there's a correlation between its use and income. "Burners"? How tacky...

Hi Ghung,

I'm guessing there could be several reasons, the key ones you've already touched upon; namely: 1) conservation (i.e., turning down the thermostat), 2) efficiency improvements to the home's thermal envelope (e.g., added insulation, caulking and weatherstripping, new windows and doors, etc.), 3) replacement of older furnaces and boilers with more fuel efficient models, 4) increased use of supplemental heating systems (e.g., wood and pellet stoves, ductless heat pumps, electric space heaters) and 5) fuel conversions, principally, natural gas. I fully expect residential fuel oil sales to continue to decline year over year.


It's nice to see were making some headway, Paul. Now if we can do more with transportation, etc. (and just get folks to turn things off).

Hi Ghung,

We've always been reasonably frugal in our use of electricity, but I made a couple minor changes recently that have had a huge impact. 1) I replaced my desktop PC with a laptop (21-watts versus 140-watts); 2) we now use the toaster oven almost exclusively rather than our main oven (1,500-watts versus 5,500-watts); 3) we pulled the plug on the last remaining satellite receiver and TV set (30 and 10-watts in standby mode, respectively); and 4) we now restrict the operation of the heat recovery and ventilation system to specific times of the day (217-watts). The combined savings are approximately 10.0 kWh per day. That's a 30 per cent reduction on our total bill, achieved with virtually no effort and with no sacrifice in comfort and utility.

Giving up the HEMI? Oh man, now that's hard ! Good luck prying the key fob from my cold, dying hand.


I have been assuming that the US will pretty much be forced to live on about 1/3 of present total oil usage by 2020, or not long thereafter. The ELM effect will whittle down the amount of exportable oil available, and ChinIndia will be getting an increasing proportion of that. The value of the US$ will decline, and they'll be able to outbid us. (And as for the military option, the only way that can change the game is by destroying the oil infrastructure for everyone, and sending everything downhill that much faster.) We'll get that 1/3 mainly from domestic sources, with a little bit still coming from Canada, and maybe just a trickle from a few other places.

Life will go on, but not life as we in the US are enjoying it now.


If I get this correct, ELM 1.0 was (flat to declining exporters' production - rising exporters' use).

ELM 2.0 is (flat to declining exporters' production - rising exporters' use - rising percent of imports by China and India).

The exporters decide how much to export versus use internally and they will choose their comfort and economic gains over importers. The next assumption is that China and India will out-bid the rest of the world and therefore get the "first shares" of exported oil.

China has certainly moved to secure future oil streams and has the foreign currency reserves to buy more. I know that India has shown increased imports so far, but do they have the financial reserves to also grab a tight hold on future oil production streams?

Although I think ELM 2.0 is real, I still wonder about the order of decimation. In both ELM 1.0 and 2.0, we are basically playing a game of musical chairs, whereby a chair represents an certain amount of oil imports. Each year, chairs are removed, leaving less for importation. China's recent moves have pulled some chairs out of the game and placed them in their pile. China and India have recently been grabbing more chairs each year.

Even if China and India get as many chairs as they want, the battle is then among the remaining countries seeking to satisfy their desire of chairs. Russia is already counted in ELM 1.0. Is Brazil? If so, then the BRIC countries are satisfied and out of the game by definition. That leaves the US, Japan, Europe and the rest of the world's importers to battle it out.

mmmm..... Three debt laden, aging populations with overextended entitlement promises versus the third world countries and a few rising asian countries. Even with our problems, I think we can outspend many of the third world countries. I think much of Africa will lose before we do.

Now, don't get me wrong, I think we're going to get crunched, I just think the effects of ELM 2.0 will hit the third world before the developed world. In other words, the order of decimation would be....

Third World
Developed World
Emerging World
Exporting World

That said, the human proclivity for war puts the exporting world at risk. I can see the developed countries sending troops to secure their oil (again)!

Mossadegh didn't have a chance.

China and India have been more willing to meet NOC's need for price IMO. In this regard, a recent article on this site carried an opinion that China was OK with $80 oil. I certainly do not know the quality of that opinion, but here oil traders are so happy to make a buck that they many times, no doubt, frustrate the IOC's. That frustration may harm our future oil supply especially when other markets are much more accommodating. This Government should seriously put US oil traders on a leash and give IOC' assurances that their interests will be protected. In as much as free markets are basically an historical asterisk in this Country, I don't think this Governmental action would raise an eyebrow.

This Government should seriously put US oil traders on a leash and give IOC' assurances that their interests will be protected.

And you are assuming that the USA has a national government that actually perceives its long-term national interests clearly, cares one whit, and is capable of effectively doing anything to actually protect those national interests? Where do you get that from? I've seen zero evidence of it.

newman -- something to consider with that "$80" per bbl figure: many of the Chinese deals with NOC don't just involve buying oil. In many cases they are investing in the development of fields. In return they earn a share of the production. An example: China invests $1 billion in developing an offshore oil field in Angola. When done China's share of the production costs them $30/bbl. Flash forward to 2013: Oil prices have again spiked to $140/bbl. Not everyione with the capital can buy oil even at such a high price. But China ships it's share of oil back home at a sole cost of transportation. Let's guess $4/bbl because shipping rate have boomed. So in a world where oil is selling for $140/bbl (if you can even buy it at that price) China is shipping X thousands of bbl of oil/day back to the homeland at a cost of $30 + $4 + interest lost on their initial investment. Needless to say the Chinese are getting access to oil that no one else can buy at any price and at a cost that's probably considerably less then the going rate.

This is a big part of their current business plan. The US gov't has nothing to compare to this effort. ExxonMobil might invest $4 billion in developing an oil field off the coast of Equatorial Guinea. In 2013 they will sell that oil to whoever is the higher bidder. If that's the EU (where that oil is currently going) then that's who gets the oil...not the US.

Thanks for fleshing this point out as it illustrates one of the problems I noted above with ELM.

karlof -- good point. I actually had not thought of the situation as an element of ELM. But in such a case an exporting country is effectively adding to the ELM volume. Though they may not be utilizing those bbls internally they are, none the less, removing that volume from the export market in one sense. But in a somewhat hybred way: that volume also represents a certain amount of oil the Chinese wouldn't be trying to buy on the open market. Thus not critical in an over supplied market but becoming very critical if demand is ahead of deliverability. But in that situation the Chinese could bid up oil considerably using a cost averaging philosophy: $30/bbl in-ground developed oil + $140/bbl open market oil = $75/bbl net effective price.

WT -- Does what I just said make sense in your view of the ELM world? Even if it does how can you estimate the volume of this hybred ELM? The Chinese offer press releases when they cut those deals but never any details. And then you have to guestimate the volume of future yet undeveloped reserves. A factor for sure but of what potential magnitude?

It's also possible for the field development to production timeline to be lengthened to suit the NOC's needs (as it would an IOC's). Capacity would rise without any increase in total production; the effect woul be similar to pumping the crude then letting it sit on tankers for awhile.

ELM and its influence by NOCs puts most importing countries at a distinct disadvantage. Eleven years ago I said this would be the Asian Century, and that Asia would be led by China. At that time, BushCo and Greenspan hadn't mucked the US's future abilities and thus compromised our basic security. And the current crew hasn't improved a thing.

karlof -- Always possible for them to sit on production. The trades are rather complex with a variety of provisions/requirements. But hostorically such efforts have been typically driven by the need for cash flow. Even during low price periods when it would make sense to cut back on production many companies will actually try to increase flow. Cash is almost always king.

Well, there's precedent for shutting-in production to await a rise in price, which a number of CanRoys did recently. But the fundamantal problem remains with CNOC buying up future potential prodution assets that will rise in value going forward thus contributing to China's longterm energy security whereas US-based IOCs seem to be making no such effort. I don't think we'll need to wait more than a decade to see the outcome.

Even with our problems, I think we can outspend many of the third world countries. I think much of Africa will lose before we do.

This is what I used to think. And I suppose the key difference between 1.0 and 2.0 is who gets the bulk of post-2005 cumulative net oil exports.

In our ASPO presentation, I showed oil consumption through 2008 for the following countries (on normalized scale with 1998 consumption = 100): US, China, India, Kenya and Morocco. From 1998-2008, annual oil prices rose at 20%/year; let's look what happened to consumption in these five countries. After going up slightly (in percentage terms), US consumption in 2008 was back to the same level as 1999 (and it has dropped further since then), but Morocco was up about 30%, Kenya up about 48%, India up about 62% and China up about 93%.

I would argue against the common perception that the US and many other OECD countries are "wealthy," relative to developing countries, especially in light of total public/private debt and vast unfunded medical/retirement claims in most OECD countries. In reality, what we have is many effectively bankrupt OECD countries competing against fast growing developing countries for declining oil exports.

Based on recent data, it appears that developing countries have an inherent advantage, in regard to bidding for declining oil exports, over developed countries, and this may also explain, to a large degree, why "Export Math" works in developing exporting countries, in addition to the natural tendency to take care of the home team, before exporting. I think that Nigeria is an ongoing example of what happens when a country tries to export without fully meeting domestic demand.

Two If's and a Then:

If Sam's (2005) top five projections are approximately correct, and if Chindia's net imports continue to increase at about their current rate, then post-2010 cumulative Net/Net oil exports from Saudi Arabia, Russia, Norway, Iran and the UAE--net exports remaining after subtracting out Chindia's net imports--would only total about 22 Gb. To put this in perspective, this is only about 10% of what Saudi Arabia claims as their proven oil reserves.

American reliance on government at all-time high

The so-called "Great Recession" has left Americans depending on the government dole like never before.

Without record levels of welfare, unemployment and other government benefits as well as tax cuts last year, the income of U.S. households would have plunged by an astonishing $723 billion — more than four times the record $167 billion drop reported last month by the Commerce Department. Moreover, for the first time since the Great Depression, Americans took more aid from the government than they paid in taxes.

I do think there was a bounce in the economy, as reflected in that increased diesel consumption. But I wonder how much of it was due to government spending.

We've all seen designs for perpetual motion machines - you know, a battery powered fan, which blows air on to a wind generator, which powers a battery charger. We all know these never work, too, courtesy of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

When I think of people sending in money to the government in the form of taxes, just so that the government can give it back to them again in the form of benefits, I can't help but wondering if it isn't pretty much the same idea.

The Second Law of Econo-dynamics?

The entropy of the economy tends to increase over time (assuming the economy is not in a state of equilibrium, with all resources distributed equally).

But, why would this only apply to giving money to the government? Wouldn't it also apply to many private businesses, as well? Perhaps even to all non-government entities that you give money to?

Or, is your point that there is a GREATER increase in the entropy of the economic system when the money funnels through a government (as compared to a private business)?

To me, any economic transaction would increase the entropy in the economic system.

And, yet, the rich keep getting richer...

That's funny, it's the same thought I was having up above for the Nuclear Business Model.

Let's charge the Government (Taxpayers), and then the Ratepayers a little extra, too. See, the free market is a magical money-generator! No Risk, No downside, and sweep all of the leftovers up in a little bag and present it to the Good Citizens, and we're done!

These figures confirm the hypothesis I constructed regarding future net exports upon hearing of ELM 1.0. Also confirmed is the reasoning used to explain why oil price wouldn't decline during the current US/EU Recession, but rise instead.

Obama is in Savannah talking about clean energy jobs, saving energy and his new "HomeStar" program, to make homes and buildings more efficient. Rebates for energy saving materials will be "on the spot" instant rebates. "No forms to fill out".

Here's a link:

Obama to spell out rebates for energy efficiency

SAVANNAH, Ga. — President Barack Obama is calling on Congress to pass a series of rebates for people who take steps to make their homes more energy efficient.

Obama says the Home Star program would reward people who buy insulation, water heaters or other energy saving equipment with an on-the-spot rebate of $1,000 or more. The president says the plan would not only save Americans money on their utility bills, but would also create jobs and reduce America's dependence on foreign energy sources.

Dr. Chu is on CNN right now talking about "clean coal".

I wonder if the executive branch is now focused more on energy or just paying a visit. If I were POTUS (HA!, you would all be in a world of sh.....) I would put climate change on the back burner since:

1. It's divisive at the wrong time
2. He can't sell it
3. It's already baked into the cake. A couple of years won't make much difference.

Peak Oil? Nah! Scares the sheeple and gives the "drill baby drill" crowd too much ammo.

On both of these issues I would state my position and tell the American people that they (and their leaders) clearly don't have the will or courage to deal with it. The "don't blame me" speech.

Focus on efficiency and conservation. For most people this is a win/win solution. Conservation has a real and immediate impact on people's wallets. They see it when they get their heating/power bills or go to the pump. It is fully distributed, as all parts of the country get the benefits. It is the most effective way to deal with energy depletion and carbon emmisions (initially). It begins to wean the masses off of the "more is better" and "more energy = growth and prosperity" memes. Once folks get used to conserving and enjoying the benefits it will be easier to push for things like expanded rail, EVs, alternatives, etc. As in WWII, "to conserve is patriotic" should be the sales pitch. I would create a superhero for the kids: "NegaWatt the Crusader: Fighting waste for God and Country" and his arch-enemy, "SUV the Fuel Sucking Pig". Three-year-olds would love it. The programs that utilities have started comparing your energy usage to your neighbor's is a great start. Give rebates to the top 10% conservers in an area.


All of this would happen, "if I where the King of the Foressst"!

Don't sell yourself short. I have long believed that ripping random pages out of phone books, putting them on the wall, and tossing a dart would yield us a considerably better lot of government officials than the ones we invariably end up getting.

Didn't Buckley say that he would rather be governed by the first five hundred people in the phone book than the faculty of Harvard U?

Dr. Chu is on CNN right now talking about "clean coal".

If true, one has to conclude that a degenerative disease takes over the mind after one crosses over into the political twinkle-light zone and starts drinking the party kool aid.

While I'm all in favor of conservation measures and retrofits, I suspect that Obama is a bit out of touch. Back in December, he said:

"The simple act of retrofitting these buildings to make them more energy-efficient — installing new windows and doors, insulation, roofing, sealing leaks, modernizing heating and cooling equipment — is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest things we can do to put Americans back to work while saving families money and reducing harmful emissions,"

My experience is that adding insulation other than simply piling up more of the stuff in the attic is not simple nor is it likely to be cheap. Walls are especially tough, since increasing insulation requires thicker walls or foam insulation or both.

Many older buildings were built before codes set stud spacing at 16" or, more recently, 24", thus fitting standard size fiberglass into those odd sized spaces can be a real challenge. Also, if the vapor barrier is not properly installed, the result can be major damage, as was found in the Southeast some years ago with new houses which had synthetic stucco applied over foam sheathing. The result was condensation inside the walls, which then proceeded to rot. Adding to the problem is the tendency of builders to use unskilled labor, often illegals, since they are expendable.

Workers need to be given enough education to understand the importance of proper installation and inspectors need better training to enforce the best practice. Once the insulation is installed, there's no way to inspect what's hidden within the walls. I suspect that with many older buildings, it may be better to just tear down the building and start over. Simply handing out instant rebates to people in Home Depot or Lowes isn't going to result in good work, if the home owner does the work himself as on-the-job training...

E. Swanson

Absolutely. We have just had a political storm over the installation of insulation in Australian homes - the scandal was sufficient to cause the demotion of a high-profile Minister for the Environment. Home owners were offered free insulation if their house was deficient (fibreglass and/or foil), and the government would pay 100% - on both stimulus and energy-efficiency grounds. Terrific - except a whole bunch of fly-by-night and unlicensed installers were created, and four young workers were killed installing the stuff badly.

If something is free, the home-owner, the installer, and the government too - don't care in the least about the quality of the job, so it all goes bad. When will governments learn that if something is priced at zero, it is also valued at zero? Even if they had made the home-owner pay 10-20%, and maybe get a few quotes, the deaths could have been avoided, and reputable, licensed installers would have gained most of the market.

Indonesian bank bailout sparks violent protest

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Anti-government protesters hurled rocks Tuesday at police who returned fire with tear gas and water cannons outside Indonesia's national parliament, where lawmakers argued and shoved each other over a controversial bank bailout.

The violent scenes erupted as almost 1,000 people rallied outside the building in Jakarta to protest the government's $715 million bailout of Indonesia's Bank Century in 2008, which has hurt the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who was re-elected in July 2009 on an anti-graft platform.

I'm jealous

mega projects followers might find this useful:

Anadarko Announces 2010 Capital Program, Guidance and Highlights of Today's Investor Conference


Anadarko has allocated approximately 22 percent of the 2010 capital budget to the ongoing development of its oil-weighted and sanctioned mega projects, which remain on time and on budget. The Jubilee Phase I development, offshore Ghana, is on track for first production in late-2010. Construction of the 120,000-barrel-per-day FPSO (floating production, storage and offloading) vessel is approximately 90-percent complete. The FPSO is scheduled to arrive in Ghana in the second quarter of this year. All 17 of the Jubilee Phase I development wells have been drilled, and the installation of the subsea infrastructure is under way.
At the Caesar/Tonga complex in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, the partnership has successfully drilled three of the four development wells, and conversion work on the topsides at the Constitution spar is nearly complete. The project remains on schedule to deliver first production during the second quarter of 2011.
Work also continues to progress at the El Merk development in Algeria. The project is approximately 28-percent complete, and 62 of the 140 wells have been drilled. First production is anticipated in late-2011. By 2012, the company expects these three sanctioned mega projects to deliver approximately 60,000 barrels of oil per day, net to Anadarko.


And for context, this will be maybe 1 minute per day worth of world consumption? To help offset perhaps one hour's worth of natural field decline?

But it is more Paleo. Not enough for sure but beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Remember Anadarko's prime goal isn't to fix PO. That can't be done. It's to make money for it's shareholders. And they are, for the most part, folks with part of their retirement accounts tied up in US blue chip stocks. That's why it always tickles me when some folks rant and rave about profits of ExxonMobil et al. There is no Mr. Exxon getting a big fat check every month. The largest single class of investors benefiting from ExxonMobil's success are US union members.

The largest single class of investors benefiting from ExxonMobil's success are US union members.

Possibly true, but also possibly misleading - I bet there are numerous individual Exxon shareholders with huge portfolios, as there are on all well-established listed US companies, and where there has been Old Money around for a couple of generations, at least.

Cargil -- that statement was based upon a report from fund managers overseeing union accounts. But it's a rather old report so I'm not sure how accurate it is today. But most of the stock equity in the US belongs to all the funds which include a huge chunk of retirement accounts. Certainly some Old Money around but even though on an individual bases some of those folks have a big pile, collectively no one comes close to matching stock ownership as the small players. Donald Trump has a big account but it's tiny compared to the UAW.

In general I think some folks get mislead by their disdain for the very rich. OK...the gov't wants to increase taxes on "the rich". That's fine but folks need to remember that about 2/3 of those "rich" folks are small business owners. If it's more important for the gov't to get that money then leave it the hands of the primary source of employment in the country so be it. I know it's a worn out question but it's worth repeating: You ever get a paycheck from a poor man?

Hi, my apologies if this was posted previously, I haven't been here regularly this last month. But it's interesting to see this in Scientific American, which I got in the mail yesterday. "Fusion's false dawn", noting that it won't be a practical energy source.

The link below just shows a "teaser" version of it, but it's good to see actual logic being used.


it's a Teaser even Grandma can grasp and approve...

Its fuel would be materials found in ordinary seawater; its emissions—both atmospheric and nuclear—would be zero

Who can say no to such prosperity? Even the Spaghetti-Monster couldn't have come up with anything better.
That said- I can live with a Fission article or two, every now and then. But don't push me :-)

*) It strikes me that the scientists can't understand the importance of the extreme pressures hydrogen is exposed to inside a star where the fission takes place, which of course is free and perfectly tuned at certain depths inside a star....

If it wasn't clear enough in my original post, the SciAm article debunks fusion as a practical option.

(Misprint: I see I have a fission-misprint all over the place in my text, due to a brain damage,that should read fusion.)

Greenish ,I got confused when reading the Teaser..... saying :

The trick has been tried before—and with success . But every time scientists have fused together these isotopes, they have had to pump far more energy into the lasers than the reaction spat out. This time the ledger will flip. The boom at the pellet’s center will release more energy than the lasers squeezed in, a switch more important than mere accounting would suggest. In theory, this excess energy could be collected and made to run a power plant.

This sounds like a FUSION sales argument to me- not a debunking- but being awake right now that probably takes place another place in the full article?

Actualy, it's fairly well done. It raises all the usual cornucopian positives only to put them in perspective as irrelevant in practical real-world terms. For instance, in the article itself it points out the lie that the fusion target pellets can be made for a nickel apiece, when currently they cost a million bucks each. It uses the word "lie", too.

I've felt that in some ways SciAm has been going downhill, but this story is pretty good.

Great- it's due time this fusion-hypothesis is put on it's proper shelf- the lower one.
I was very eager to read the full article so I had some Googling efforts after reading your "teaser", but to no avail- just the erroneous kind of snippets like the one you linked. I think (until opposite proven) such words as "lies" is proper wording when describing the fusion scam - Cold fusion is worse though.

Scientists dreaming of "Making a controllable Star in a Box- and thereafter tapping it for energy" is sweet- but stupid.

Scientists dreaming of "Making a controllable Star in a Box- and thereafter tapping it for energy" is sweet- but stupid.

Hey! I spent the first five years of my career writing computer programs for those folks. There is a case to be made for continuing reseach at some level. I'm not for throwing tens of billions at ITER -big Tokamaks just don't seem to promise a path to affordable energy. But there are some exciting projects that cost a hundred or a thousand times less. Think of the cost benefit in a probablistic manner. There is some small chance of eventually coming up with something worth a great deal. That is worth a smallish continuing investment. Just as buying a lottery ticket when the jackpot is $200million (i.e. occasionally the lottery has statistically good odds, because the prize money has built up from past runs).

Scientists dreaming of "Making a controllable Star in a Box- and thereafter tapping it for energy" is sweet- but stupid.

We're checking it for errors.

I spent some time checking the literature on the problems involved in bringing fusion to commercial production a while back.I don't have access to the links any more ,as my old computer died a horrible death, but there are literally hundreds of very tough problems that must ALL be solved-not just a few dozen piddy ass little problems such as how to build a particular component, buy actually inventing a material capable of being used to manufacture that component, then inventing machinery to make the material, them building a plant to manufacture the material , then testing it for a few years-this monster has so many heads that Conan and Superman and Hercules all working together couldn't kill them all in a century.

When that ultimate exotic marerial fails, the whole project is back to the drawing board to invent a substitute.

Allow me an anology.

We have ten thousand people on this thing for decades now.

They have not yet succeeded in building a campfireand controlling it although they have managed to do the equivalent of burning down the country side by setting off an explosion.

But for some reason we expect them to move from the so far nonexistent canpfire after fifty years of trying to a working internal combustion engine in another thirty years or so.

Nobody who refrains from drinking the cornucopian koolaid and also knows even a little about the process of research, development, and commercialization of a new science, folloowed by a new industry, could possibly take fusion power within our lifetimes seriously.

The scientific illiterati can probably also be convinced that in the next 10 years scientists will discover a next 100 new elements to add to the Periodic Table.

If fusion were that easy, we wouldn't be here.

(Because somewhere in the hot dense bowels of the Earth, atoms would have fused and started an energy chain reaction. Alas, it happened to that poor nearby planet we call the sun.)

atoms would have fused and started an energy chain reaction. Alas, it happened to that poor nearby planet we call the sun.

Well, I don't like to nitpick but you are confusing fusion with fission. Fusion is not a chain reaction.

Oh yeah? Well, you are surely aiming at man-made fusion with this reply, but nature itself can do.

Fusion chain reaction

Proton–proton chain reaction is the most beautiful of them all and that's why man wont be able to copy this-one on any meaningfull scale -IMHO- A 3-stage-Wonder.

thanks pm

yes, that's what I meant, the first Wiki definition, namely that when sufficient energy is released in a tight spot by a first fusing of nuclei, that energy can become the kindling energy for the next fusing of atoms and so on.

the bigger point I was trying to raise is that there are certain necessary conditions for us to be here as living creatures in the first place and in this sector of the universe. one of them is that atoms do not readily fuse, because if they did, they would have; and we wouldn't be here. so the quest for the holy grail of on-earth well-controlled fusion may be a quest for the unattainable. of course we do have on-earth fusion in hydrogen bombs, but there it is the enormous and uncontrolled energy of the fission chain reaction that kindles the fusion events. perhaps if we knew how to make linearly accelerated micro atom bombs and if we knew how to direct/focus their enormous energies at a fusion pellet, we could achieve a controlled fusion reaction.

no probs, obviously you are correct with your philosophical approach to fusion here : so thankfully whatever earth's mantle is built from - it's not the same as the Sun's.. :-)

Your comment on "make linearly accelerated micro atom bombs" is actually what they try to do, but the necessary input substances are not easy to come by at all- and not only that, tritium has a half-life of 12 years - and from top of my head globally stored tritium reserves has shrunk to 1/4 or so from 1970's quanta and is shrinking as we speak.At the time, when reading about this, that amount was little or nothing compared to what was needed to actually run "a working fusion reactor"

WSJ today on remote mining:


Note especially: "Easy and accessible mineral reserves have been largely tapped...".

Yes, "Peak YOUR_FAVORITE_MINERAL" is coming.

From the Rio Tinto Minerals web site we read that they supply 25% of the world's talc. So where would you go to learn more about talc and figure out whether we're anywhere near "Peak Talc"? Are there any easy-to-access charts on the topic?

That's why we're putting the finishing touches on the US Minerals Databrowser. Here are a couple of graphs about talc:

Now, I'm not suggesting that talc is as important as oil but the shape of this graph and the switch from exporter to importer is very reminiscent of other graphs we've seen.

That graph was for the US but the article talked about mines in Australia. Surely we're not at "Peak talc" globally ... are we?

Hmmm ... US peak occurred in 1979. World peak occurred in 1997. And still the price trend is down. If talc is really that useful I guess we can expect the price for talc to go up pretty soon. From Rio Tinto:

Talcs enhance performance in countless applications, including paper, paints, plastics, ceramics, personal care products, agriculture and pharmaceuticals.

Sounds like we should be on the lookout for inflation in these products.

Happy Exploring!

-- Jon

Very interesting Jon. But I wonder if the production drop is due to declining resources or declining demand. I've no idea but one big use for talc years ago was baby powder (originally called "talcum powder"). You mentioned personal care products. But talc also contains very small quantities of potentially harmfull elements (which babies shouldn't be allowed to breath) so it was replaced in such products by (drum roll please): CORN STARCH!

One might offer an interesting parallel with gasoline and corn derived ethanol. One might...but not me. Just an unimportant but mildly amusing sidenote.

New ghost towns: Industrial communities teeter on the edge

The difference is that people could leave a ghost town — miners to work new veins, farmers to till fresh land, merchants to move closer to road or rail.

Today, Tim Shumaker sees no such options. In past layoffs, he always found work somewhere; now there seems to be none anywhere.

So, like almost everyone else here, he's staying put, wondering whether Ravenswood could become a new kind of ghost town: a place where people stay, because they have nowhere else to go.

That was a very good item exposing a microcosm within the Big Picture. It appears Dr. Meadows's "Voluntary Simplicity" will be enforced upon Millions. But without land redistribution, what will those Millions do besides die?


I don't know. But if we look at countries with very high rates of poverty, it seems there is very little killing being done by the impoverished, perhaps because they get just enough to live. Remove that small lifeline, and there'll be riots as proved by happenings in such places. The question is will that happen here with the existence of a very good lifeline--Food Stamps--and continuance of the "automatic stabilizers" unemployment payments and medicare? Judging by congress's actions to shore-up Food Stamps and continue funding the automatic stabilizers despite the Bunnings and Kyls, the elites seem to want to avoid facing a revolt fueled by lack of food. How long they'll continue to do so is a fair question. For as long as it takes seems to be the current answer.

From the Dear Prudence advice column:

The past few years, my wife has been making changes for what she believes is going to be some kind of life-altering event in the near future. Whether it be due to global warming or war or whatever, she hasn't decided, but nonetheless she is preparing. She spends countless hours on the Internet putting together a "survival book" of sorts, which has everything from how to grow your own food to how to survive a nuclear fallout. Now she has decided that she and our family (myself and two teen daughters) should learn how to shoot a gun "just in case." When I asked her what the point of that would be since we don't own firearms, she said that might change. This seems crazy to me. My wife and I have always practiced a common principle of nonviolence and we've raised our girls to be the same way. What should I do? I feel like my wife is becoming someone I don't recognize. (And going to see Cormac McCarthy's The Road? Big mistake.)

Prudence thinks the woman needs a medical evaluation.

Later on, someone else chimed in saying her husband was preparing for the End Times, and she had decided that it wasn't a bad thing to be prepared.

What a lot of melodramatic nonsense ... too much Hollywood (or perhaps Bible), too much free time, too much spare cash, and definitely too great a sense of exceptionalism - or their "life narrative" being special. A bit like 14yo school kids from the 1950s not doing homework because they think the bomb is about land on them.

i saw a article link about a resource war between the usa and china over REE, that is rare earth elements. isnt china sending us all it's REE in the form of electronic gadgets?

cell phones, cameras, mpeg players, computers, clocks, stereos, blu ray dvd, televisions, you name it. and every six months techno lust dictates, "gotta have it", the next incremental improvement that makes your current model obsolete. arent these devices packed with REE? havent we ever heard of recycling? is that too simple or repugnant a solution? what am i missing here?

i would imagine that the concentration of REE in gadgets is the same or higher than ore. might make a for full unemployment. removing components from discarded electronics for reprocessing.

but we just chuck it out or dump in the recycling center where it gets shipped back to china. china gets polluted twice. once while making it and second time while "recycling" it.

uhmerika has the highest quality garbage. i suspect there will be garbage wars in the future. indeed, the usa will be invaded for it's garbage dumps. the low hanging fruit has been discarded even lower.

as to:
"New ghost towns: Industrial communities teeter on the edge"

this is exactly what we need. lower wages and benefits. work 'em to death and eliminate soc. sec. only this will advert PO.
hey, one must pander to TPTB and BAU or else one may become one of the short lived disenfranchised.

we are all just twinkie wrappers blowing in the breeze.

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

"it's all good"-anon.

Price Price Price
I say price
Many engineers here, few economists

If there's one great error in logic here it's giving almost no consideration to behavior changing based on what resources cost.
I realize one can't reliably graph future behavior, but future behavior will be dramatically different with $200 oil.
We are creatures of our environment. We see the downside of that now - if oil is $80 we're going to burn it. It's not optimism to expect different future behavior with higher priced oil. It's not going to take 20 years to build a nuke plant in a state with brownouts.

I'm more concerned with a tipping point in climate change than a long-term depression from energy prices. That said, I do believe some exciting moments as demand significantly exceeds oil supply.

- if oil is $80 we're going to burn it

That's assuming you have a spare quad of $20 bills in your pocket.

In a Depression, the mantra is: "Brother can you spare a dime?"


You could probably normalize the valuation in terms of EROEI, "oil with an EROEI of more than about 3 is going to be burned". Ditto for coal.

Unless of course some new, "too cheap to meter" form of energy comes about, or we have a mass dieoff pandemic, or nuclear war.

Any way you slice it, the path we're on is going to burn most of what is left, and there basic logisitics says it cannot be any other way. The best we can do is to take every opportunity to make changes (personally, locally, nationally) ASAP.

Seems like a fallow period for peak oil news. Just a bunch of ho hum articles. I miss the drama of something to sink my teeth into.