Drumbeat: March 7, 2010

Energy world is in a new mode

The title of this year's conference, “Energy: Building a New Future,” reflects that renewed optimism. But it also suggests that, while the worst of recession may be over, what's ahead for the industry is unlikely to look anything like the past.

That's true not only in the short term, when the biggest issue remains what shape the economic recovery will take and how it will affect global energy demand, but also further out, when clean-energy policies from governments and shifting market dynamics could bring wholesale changes to the business.

To address these issues, as in the past, CERAWeek will feature some of the biggest names in the energy world, including CEOs of major oil and gas companies and electricity providers as well as policymakers, academics and economists.

Oil oversupply too little to hurt market - Iran

DUBAI (Reuters) - Oil producers are pumping more crude than consumers need but the oversupply is insufficient to have a big impact on the market, Iran's OPEC governor said on Sunday.

"There is some oversupply in the market," Mohammad Ali Khatibi told Reuters in a telephone interview. "But it cannot damage the market. It can be absorbed into stocks."

New Natural gas discovery is VITAL to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia holds large crude oil reserves, However, the Kingdom is very short in natural gas reserves.

India: Industrial sector reeling from power shortage

HYDERABAD: Expressing helplessness over power cuts and shortage of supply, Chief Minister K Rosaiah said in the present scenario, it is inevitable to impose restrictions.

The Philippijnes: Gov’t urged to consider putting up nuke plant

An opposition lawmaker urged the government Sunday to seriously consider putting up nuclear power plants that could generate sufficient power supply to Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, saying it could be the ultimate solution to the recurring energy crisis in the country.

Philosophy, Environment and Insanity

One of our most puzzling behaviours is our continued destruction of the natural environment that sustains us. When the consequences are so obviously disastrous and self-defeating, why don't we stop? The answer to this perplexing question seems to be hidden deeply within our human psyche, buried somewhere beneath genes and character until it expresses itself in culture. Exploring this inner territory in search of answers is challenging.

Deep Economy. Read It!

Our ideas of growth and development can’t involve the rest of the world (or even Americans) living like Americans.

1. If the Chinese ate meat like Americans, they’d use 2/3 of the world grain harvest.
2. If the Chinese owned cars like Americans, they’d use more than all the oil currently produced globally.
3. If the Chinese ate fish like the Japanese, they’d consume more than the current global harvest which is already not sustainable.
4. Now think what if India, SE Asia, and Africa followed suit.

Bark beetle debate adds fuel to the wildfire

Across the Western USA, the complex relationship between forests, logging, wildfires, drought, climate change, and yes, even beetles, remains a controversial challenge for politicians, logging interests, and environmentalists.

Iran’s Ace (or Deuce): Its Oil Reserves

Diplomacy and energy are never far apart in the Persian Gulf. So, as American officials seek new international sanctions against Iran this week, it’s probably wise for them to remember how much the world’s global energy map has changed over the past decade.

Iran’s leaders certainly do, and they’ve been counting on their increased ties with Asian countries, especially China, as their trump card against efforts to hem in their nuclear program.

At the same time, the Iranians may want to reconsider just how much that trump card is worth. A number of experts say it is losing its value with each month that the stalemate over its nuclear program continues.

Africa's oil exports to China only account for 13% of total

Africa's oil exports to China accounted for only 13 percent of its total oil exports, lower than the amounts exported to Europe and the US, which both surpassed 30 percent, China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said during a news conference at the ongoing Third Session of the National People's Congress on Sunday, xinhuanet.com reported.

Yang also said China's investment in Africa's oil sector accounted for only 1/16 of the world's total investment in African oil, which is also much less than the amount invested by either Europe or the US.

Iraq extends gas MOU with Shell - oil minister

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq has extended a memorandum of understanding with Royal Dutch Shell on a natural gas venture around the southern oil hub of Basra for six months from March 2010, Iraq's oil minister told Reuters on Sunday.

"We will resume talks with Shell after the election," the minister, Hussain al-Shahristani, said after he cast his vote in the country's second full parliamentary election since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Iran says to issue bonds worth 1 bln euro

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran will start offering bonds worth a total of 1 billion euro on March 9, the Oil Ministry's website SHANA reported on Sunday.

Nigeria arrests 24 over 'illegal' refineries

LAGOS (AFP) – Nigerian security forces have arrested 24 people accused of stealing crude oil and illegally refining it, a military spokesman said on Sunday.

Is fusion power really viable?

2010 is a big year for nuclear fusion but experts fear that a lack of fuel could push the dream of cheap, safe, clean and limitless energy far into the future.

The biofuel era - not on horizon - yet

The world, it is said, belongs to those with the most energy. And the search for alternative energy, for a number of reasons - from political to environmental - continues. The price spike in 2008, preceding the recession the world is now desperately endeavoring to climb out - gave a fillip to the pursuit.

Catalyst could power homes on a bottle of water, produce hydrogen on-site

(PhysOrg.com) -- With one bottle of drinking water and four hours of sunlight, MIT chemist Dan Nocera claims that he can produce 30 KWh of electricity, which is enough to power an entire household in the developing world. With about three gallons of river water, he could satisfy the daily energy needs of a large American home. The key to these claims is a new, affordable catalyst that uses solar electricity to split water and generate hydrogen.

The Wrong Kind of Green

Why did America's leading environmental groups jet to Copenhagen and lobby for policies that will lead to the faster death of the rainforests--and runaway global warming? Why are their lobbyists on Capitol Hill dismissing the only real solutions to climate change as "unworkable" and "unrealistic," as though they were just another sooty tentacle of Big Coal?

At first glance, these questions will seem bizarre. Groups like Conservation International are among the most trusted "brands" in America, pledged to protect and defend nature. Yet as we confront the biggest ecological crisis in human history, many of the green organizations meant to be leading the fight are busy shoveling up hard cash from the world's worst polluters--and burying science-based environmentalism in return. Sometimes the corruption is subtle; sometimes it is blatant. In the middle of a swirl of bogus climate scandals trumped up by deniers, here is the real Climategate, waiting to be exposed.

Climate change skepticism a litmus test for GOP

WASHINGTON - — It wasn't long ago that Marco Rubio and Tim Pawlenty, two of the brightest fresh faces in the Republican Party, supported legislation to limit the greenhouse gas emissions that are blamed for global warming. But in recent weeks both have suddenly begun to express doubts about whether burning coal, powering cars with gasoline and other human activities in fact have anything to do with a warming Earth.

The shifts by Rubio and Pawlenty — as well as other prominent Republicans — reflect the rising power of climate change skeptics in the GOP, where global warming is becoming a litmus test for conservatives.

RealClimate: Arctic Methane on the Move?

Methane is like the radical wing of the carbon cycle, in today’s atmosphere a stronger greenhouse gas per molecule than CO2, and an atmospheric concentration that can change more quickly than CO2 can. There has been a lot of press coverage of a new paper in Science this week called “Extensive methane venting to the atmosphere from sediments of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf”, which comes on the heels of a handful of interrelated methane papers in the last year or so. Is now the time to get frightened?

No. CO2 is plenty to be frightened of, while methane is frosting on the cake. Imagine you are in a Toyota on the highway at 60 miles per hour approaching stopped traffic, and you find that the brake pedal is broken. This is CO2. Then you figure out that the accelerator has also jammed, so that by the time you hit the truck in front of you, you will be going 90 miles per hour instead of 60. This is methane. Is now the time to get worried? No, you should already have been worried by the broken brake pedal. Methane sells newspapers, but it’s not the big story, nor does it look to be a game changer to the big story, which is CO2.

Businesses will save $700m by cutting emissions: report

CLAIMS that even small greenhouse gas targets will hurt big industry have been undermined by a government report that found basic efficiency improvements could cut national emissions and save businesses more than $700 million.

From above -- Africa's oil exports to China only account for 13% of total.

Seems like a rather benign point. But there’s a distinction not offered. The oil flow generated by Chinese investments in Africa belongs to the Chinese gov’t and will flow in that direction. The balance of African production belongs to corporations and NOC’s. This oil will flow to wherever the free market directs it: to the highest bidder. Another consideration: much of the Chinese investments have been in offshore/deep water fields. Much of this production has yet to begin flowing. Meanwhile all those African fields feeding the other economies continue to decline. Though I always take note of the Chinese acquistion of in-ground FF reserves around the globe we can’t really quantify the siginificance. But it is interesting the Chinese felt the need to offer a little PR: “Don’t worry…we’ve only slipped our nose under the tent a little bit”.

Hmmm. Thou doest protest too much?

I wonder what the percentage was in 2005.

I don't know the answer, but based on EIA data, I can say that combined net exports from Algeria, Angola and Nigeria went from 5.3 mbpd in 2005 to 5.7 mbpd in 2008. In the same time frame, Chindia's combined net imports rose from 4.6 mbpd to 6.0 mbpd.

So, Chindia's combined net imports, expressed as a percentage of total net exports from Algeria, Angola and Nigeria, rose from 87% in 2005 to 105% in 2008.

The past is not necessarily a good predictor of the future. China used to be a net oil exporter, but their experts have been running the numbers past their computers (they're not much into using the Suanpan - the Chinese abacus - any more), and they know what's coming.

Basically, they are locking up as much of the world's oil reserves for themselves as they can, because they think they're going to need a lot of it.

I find this fascinating because, in my consulting days, I did a lot of work for companies which unbeknownst to most people, are Chinese controlled. My interests and theirs coincided in a way that was mutually profitable for all of us.

Some of my nephews (of which there are a lot, but not as many as my nieces), are continuing on in the tradition. We're all Canadian (although many of us have multiple citizenships), but our interests were not a great deal different from the Chinese. (And of course a great many Canadians these days are of Chinese origin).

In the global perspective, this is great for us Canadians, and also very good for Chinese, but it may not bode all that well for many Americans.

Stat Review has Inter-area movements data. Total African export destinations for 2008:

US	Canada	Mexico	S. & C. America	Europe	Africa
30.34%	3.46%	0.06%	4.93%	        37.09%	1.34%

Australasia	China	India	Japan	Singapore	Other Asia Pacific	Rest of World
0.06%	        13.15%	5.31%	1.57%	0.10%	                   2.55%	0.03%

Now, the data is broken down for North/West/East & Southern Africa. For these regions China accounts for 2.56%/17.06%/59.64%. But the big producers are Angola/Nigeria/Algeria/Lybia/Egypt. Sudan is the only east coast producer they deign to include, with only 0.6%
of total African production.

The past is not necessarily a good predictor of the future. China used to be a net oil exporter, but their experts have been running the numbers past their computers ... and they know what's coming.


I'm not disagreeing with what you have said but I would put it differently.

I would rephrase the first part as the standard "Past performance is not indicative of future results" or "Past performance is no guarantee of future results." And, although I'm certain their experts have been crunching numbers, I stubbornly maintain that you don't need to be an expert to "know what's coming."

My whole angle in this debate is that we should should spend much more time reviewing the past (i.e. historical data on production, consumption and import/export balances). And I'll go out on a limb in asserting that anyone can "know what's coming" if the data are presented to them in the right manner. That's what the Energy Export Databrowser is all about and China is a perfect case in point:

It is my hope that it doesn't take an "expert" to interpret this graphic. Yes, China's performance as an oil exporter in the 1980's was no guarantee of future exporter status. But we humans, as story tellers, can understand why: Consumption increased as China began to urbanize and industrialize into the "world's workshop". (My 13 year old son, looking over my shoulder, just summarized this information from the graphic for me.) Someone familiar with China's recent history could certainly add more detail like why consumption jumped in 2004.

The other human trait Energy Export Databrowser tries to harness is our innate ability as pattern recognizers. As one flips through the different charts available one recognizes China's production pattern as "leveling off near the peak in production". The transition from importer to exporter is also familiar among developing nation oil exporters as "Export Land Model". Humans are excellent pattern recognizers.

Every human on the planet is hardwired to be both a story teller and a pattern recognizer. My sincerest hope is that we can take available data and convert it into data graphics that allow regular folks to do their own interpretation. Listening to experts is one thing but I came of age in the 'Show Me' state of Missouri and I won't believe anyone until I can see it for myself. I expect and hope that our recent experience trusting financial experts will make us all a little more skeptical going forward.

Best Hopes for the resurgence of 'Show Me' values,

-- Jon

As recently as 1990 fuel oil was the dominant sector in Chinese consumption. CERA's call of Peak Demand in the US/Europe seems predicated on an assumption that we will repeat the performance of the late 70s/early 80s, where bullish forecasts of demand were soundly chucked into history's dustbin by 1985, largely owing to this transition away from heavier lower quality products to NG/nuclear.

The Chinese have already mostly gone through this cycle, fuel oil in 2008 is only 8.95% of their total. But the rest of the world has yet to follow suit; total production amounting to 19082.19 kb/d is from nations who burn >50% of their consumed oil for power generation. "Low hanging fruit." Whether the OECD will deign to hand out baskets for gathering is another matter, of course.

My tentative guess at the total volume of oil used for generation is 4.48 mb/d, substantial enough, but JD passed along an intriguing comment from Henry Groppe that the actual figure is some 4 times larger. My 1st guess was based on JD's given 620 kwh per bbl = 35% efficiency, but even that is slightly too high for the US, and Lord knows what efficiencies are like in places like Benin. Groppe no doubt has much better data to work with than I do.

World consumption contracted 6.48 mb/d from 1979 to 1983, thereafter rising to reach the previous high in 1988. Not a permanent change of affairs but it is a decade's worth of respite.

We're all Canadian (although many of us have multiple citizenships)

I have an intense - and possibly irrational in the eyes of some - dislike of multiple citizenship ... it is one area of life where I think you should have one bet, and one only. Others might like the "flag of convenience" aspect of more than one passport, but I think it sucks. And yes - I have listened to all the arguments about emigrating from one culture, into another, and our kids should have both, etc, yada yada ... but it doesn't wash for me.

I have an intense - and possibly irrational in the eyes of some - dislike of multiple citizenship

There was no such thing as Canadian citizen citizenship prior to 1947 - Canadians were "British Subjects" prior to that time, so this is a relatively new concept for Canada.

Many Canadians have attachments to multiple countries - for instance my wife was born in England but immigrated to Canada at the age of two and grew up in Canada, so she has attachments to both countries and is a citizen of both. Probably most Brits retain their British citizenship when they acquire their Canadian citizenship. It's something of a tradition.

I know people who are citizens of three, or occasionally four countries. Typical example - British father, French mother, born in Canada. Add a German grandparent to the mix (Germany bases citizenship on ethnic origin rather than country of birth) and you have someone with quadruple citizenship.

Canada has a higher immigration rate than almost any other country, and Canadians tend to ignore ethnic origins when picking spouses, so it's hard to define what "Canadian" means. A lot of people are "Heinz 57s" and/or put "Canadian" down on their census forms for ethnic origin.

Maybe it's someone who says "Eh?" a lot. Actually, not even that. I'm a 3rd generation Canadian and I never say "Eh?" Must be my Scandinavian origin (We still say "Uf-da!" and eat lutefisk, just like our cousins in Minnesota, even after 3 generations).

Leanan, I am shocked that you deleted Chris Martenson's post. He offered us a chance to review his new e-book about Peak Oil. Was that a reason to delete his post? If I wrote a book and offered it to TOD readers, free, via email, would you delete my post also?

I believe that, in this instance, you were just way heavy with your delete key!

Chris Martenson, a PhD and former vice president of Pfizer, quit that job to inform us about peak oil and the coming economic crash, taking a huge cut in pay just to inform people. He put together his Crash Corse, there hours long with about an hour of it on Peak Oil.

Ron P.

While his Crash Course is a great presentation, I think we equanimity on doing this, and Leanan was correct in her actions.
I recommend his work frequently.

Equanimity on doing this? You lost me.


I think we equanimity on doing this

Yes - please explain.

I have reason to believe that that was not really Chris Martenson. If it turns out I am mistaken, I will restore the post.

For those who saw the post...please be careful. Anyone can use any screen name or e-mail address they want. You don't know who is really behind it.

Anyone can use any screen name or e-mail address they want. You don't know who is really behind it.

Good Point! I have previously asked about the individual who claims to be Steven Chu, do we know that he is who he claims to be? I continue to be very skeptical of the tone of his comments.

I'm sure someone at TOD is able to trace an IP address.

Can you post a link to a comment written by this supposed Steven Chu?

I'm sending you a copy of the post and his profile description to your posted gmail address

Thank you. It's not the real Steven Chu.

I believe we once had someone posting here under the moniker Hugo or Chavez and we weren't sure if it was really him or not.

We knew it wasn't him. That was OilCEO...again.

Impostering is something that ISPs take very seriously. Most people do it as a joke, not expecting anyone to take them seriously. But if someone complains, your ISP may cut you off.

We also had a Matthew Simmons posting here. He wasn't the Matthew Simmons, but he wasn't claiming to be, either. He was a guy whose name really was Matthew Simmons.

Wasn't OilCEO a worthy contributor back when? Would be surprising that he'd be spending his/her time here with childish pranks.

I think his problem was a tendency to PWI (post while intoxicated).

I think a great many post here PWI (post while intoxicated, PWN (post while naked), or PWH (post while high)....Let's do a survey??

He spent most of his time here engaging in childish pranks. I don't know if he was drunk or mentally ill, but no, on the whole, he was not a worthy contributor.

Too bad you can't host a discussion featuring the real Martenson, Chu, Simmons and Chavez. That'd be ... interesting.

That was NOT the real Chris Martenson. He is being stalked by someone trying to discredit him by posting such messages. The police are involved.

Yikes. Needless to say, good call in promptly deleting the post. I talked to someone with another Peak Oil related blog a year or two ago, and he said that they had been the target of very sophisticated cyber attacks.

Leanan, being someone who runs a peak-oil related site and not having seen the post, I'm interested in knowing what to keep an eye out for.

What tipped you off?

He offered peak-oil related porn, which seems rather strange for a man of Martenson's age and position. His account was created only a few minutes before he posted, and the e-mail address was a Yahoo one. So I asked the staff (we peak oilers keep in contact), and they said Mr. Martenson doesn't use a Yahoo account, and that it was not likely it was him. Nate e-mailed him to ask, and he confirmed that it wasn't him.

You have my apologies. The guy fooled me. I had heard the term "peak porn" before but never followed up on it. I thought there might be some connection with so-called "doomer porn". Guess not.

Thanks for the information.

Ron P.


With about three gallons of river water, he could satisfy the daily energy needs of a large American home. The key to these claims is a new, affordable catalyst that uses solar electricity to split water and generate hydrogen.

Sounds good to me. Do it!

And I suppose that he and his friends and family have had no electric bills for quite some time.

This is just a scheme for a hydrogen battery. He'd have a fair old bill for the required 30 square metres of solar panels though! Trying to store hydrogen in millions of small amounts is a sure recipe for disaster IMO, it's very leaky explosive stuff.

BTW the average American uses about 270 KWh of primary energy per day (about half of it is used on their behalf by Government) if there are around 2.6 people in the average US household then the average daily domestic total energy rquirement is ~350 KWh ie: about 10 times what would be produced by this scheme. This just proves to me once again that FF alternatives like solar PV don't even come close to meeting our BAU energy needs.

Let's see:

Solar max= 1000 watts/sq meter

Best PV efficiency = @ 15%

so: 1000W/sq. meters x .15 x 30 sq. meters = 4500 watts

4500 watts (installed) x $8.00/watt (WAG) = $36000 (just for PV)

Add in the hydrogen generator, fuel cell and losses due to efficiency: doesn't seem affordable.

Seems better to install a big PV system and good batteries, backed up by a natgas generator (or Bloombox :-) ).

I did my calculation for Denver:

  • Average solar insolation over the course of a year: 6.5 kWh per m2 per day,
  • Multiply by 30 m2 gives 195 kWh per day,
  • Divide that into 30 kWh per day,
  • End-to-end efficiency is 0.154.

As that's about the efficiency of solar panels alone, figure that they've left out the inefficiencies in the rest of the chain. Hydrogen fuel cells have a theoretical efficiency of 0.83, but 0.7 is probably a more realistic figure (many estimates for fuel cells in cars is 0.5). Assume an efficiency in producing and storing hydrogen of 0.9 (as a minimum, the hydrogen has to be compressed).

Compensate for those inefficiencies with increased panel area, and you need more like 50 m2, which increases the cost significantly. If you're going to put up that much solar panel area, why bother with hydrogen and all the complexity? Grid-tied and sell your excess.

This just proves to me once again that FF alternatives like solar PV don't even come close to meeting our BAU energy needs.

Every time I hear this statement I want to scream! Disclaimer: I believe in and work with PV solutions.

If might respectfully disagree and suggest that perhaps part of the problem is 1)this continuing beating of the drum that we need to compare every thing to BAU and 2) that solar doesn't come close to meeting real world needs. Below is a prototype solar light post that my little company designed. It consumes a total of 8 measly watts of power and runs off a 12 volt DC lithium ion phosphate battery that is charged by an 80 watt solar panel. The structure is tested to 150 mile an hour wind speed.
The individual LED lights emit 800 lumens each. The orange light shown is a test of a Sea Turtle safe light that was designed specifically to solve the issue of turtle hatchlings that are confused by bright lights here on the coast of Florida. The picture below doesn't do justice to how bright this light really is. BAU in my opinion is dead and it's time to get over it and use the alternatives we have which actually work in the real world.

Solar Light Post

And if you believe that, I have some waterfront property in New Mexico that you might be interested in investing in. Call 1-800-FOO-LDYU. Have your credit card ready.

And if you believe that, I have some waterfront property in New Mexico..

Better watch what you advertise. It does exist. Carlsbad has a few miles worth along the Pecos river. And there are several lakes, that are basically dammed rivers.

The comments following the post were instructive. How, exactly, is all this hypothetical H2 to be stored? Hydrogen is extremely corrosive, and in fact that is its biggest drawback as fuel for fusion power. I mean, the sun holds it with gravity. Small scale fusion requires storage. It leaks, it is explosive in an oxygen rich atmosphere, and it eats up most containers strong enough to hold it under pressure. This is why He3 is a preferred fuel for fusion (and the real reason for calls for a Lunar base, IMHO).

Other comments call into question limits to production, and basically I suppose, EROEI. Plus cost of generators, capacities, and a host of other very questionable matters.

Like so many others, this looks to me to be a promotional item, intended to induce investors to part with their money.


The Ge Brilliance 4000w Pv Package will set you back a cool $23,382.41 and is 334 Sq Ft = 31.0296154 sq meters. Let's see how the ground floor customers do.

This puts me in mind of E Fuels and their MicroFueler for homebrew ethanol. Seems they've found another niche for their moonshine:

With the imminent introduction of the Gridbuster, the Microfueler will enable homes and businesses to be less reliant on the conventional and more expensive electrical grid and generate their own electricity. The GridBuster is E-Fuel's revolutionary new generator to produce electricity from a unique blend of E-Fuel100 ethanol and 50% water.

$GRHU GreenHouse Holdings, Inc. and UAI, Inc. Form Strategic Alliance

The post didn't say how much solar electricity. Yep, give me enough solar electricity and I can rule the world.

Early results: Iceland voters reject $5.3B bank failure repay

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) — Still furious over the crippling aftermath of the global financial crisis, Iceland's voters on Saturday resoundingly rejected a $5.3 billion plan to pay off Britain and the Netherlands for debts spawned by the collapse of an Icelandic Internet bank, according to initial results.

Results returned from around 83,500 ballots — or more than 40% of the total ballots expected — counted so far showed that 93% of voters said "no" in the referendum, compared to just 1.5% who said "yes." The rest were invalid ballots.

Can't say as I blame 'em.

Too bad we, in the US, can't vote "no".

Ghung: The voters in the U.S. can vote no. But, they have always refused to. Remember all Congress critters are evil, except the ones representing me (and me is every voter) and they are always re-elected.

Actually we have a duopoly and both parties are wholly owned subsidiaries of Wall St.

Actually we have a duopoly and both parties are wholly owned subsidiaries of Wall St.

I don't think that is accurate. They are only partially owned by Wall street. Throw in some of the other owners: Big Oil, Peabody Coal, The farm lobby, AMA ... The ownership is multiple, but the common theme is money to spend on lobbying, and on political campaigning. Even unions got a piece of the action. But mostly it is big money.

And also we should not forget appeasement of the mobs.

Bread and circus worked well in the days of Rome.

Our more modern version includes Golden Calf OSCAR Idols and scantily clad Hollywood women.

God bless our American Empire. ;-)

If we did vote "no", the borrowing game and all the goodies from it would come to a crashing halt, pay-as-you-go cold turkey. We'll have to wait and see what the reaction is in Iceland when the government is less able to subsidize things because it simply can't raise the cash. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see a u-turn/climbdown in a matter of weeks or months. For perspective, imagine the screaming and yelling if, say, New Yorkers suddenly had to pay the real cost, somewhere around $10, for a subway ride because the Feds were broke.

Of course, the bankesters just looted 12 trillion out from the sheeple, and still arrogant about the heist.
And no one is in the street, at least in the fly over part.
Until this happens, they will continue to abuse us.

But - what was the referendum question? If it was "Do you want to pay back those British and Dutch bastards", then you would expect No, but if it was "Would you like to meet your financial obligations now - and take some immediate pain - but by doing that avoid really ugly stuff down the track", it might have well received a different response. Every referendum in the world has been skewed by the question asked!

RE: Bark beetle debate. The original paper was about Colorado roadless areas, and largely about lodgepole pine. As an old forester, I would certainly agree with that part of it. Lodgepole is short-lived, subject to several diseases, and typically doesn't respond well to thinning. I might argue with their conclusions regarding the spruce-fir type. Need to spend more time reviewing their references. And the paper doesn't really cover the ponderosa pine type.

It's not my intention to start a nuke/anti-nuke debate here, but Re: Philippine govt. urged to build nuclear plant. My fiancee is filipina, and all I hear from her and her parents is how corrupt and unreliable their government is. Elected officials are notorious for skimming tax money to divert to favored businesses in return for a cut. I don't trust them to properly build, inspect, operate and maintain a nuke plant, and if they screw up, it could be a big, nasty, expensive mess for... years? centuries? *** I just asked her if she thinks its a good idea. Sayeth the fiancee: "Hell no!"***

They already have a nuclear power plant...that was never used. Marcos built it during the last energy crisis, but then energy prices went back down.

Now they are talking about dusting it off and starting it up. There is some concern about the original quality of the construction work, and about how it's been maintained in the decades since it was built.

My primary objection to nuclear. The materials and waste must be secured for generations (at great cost) and I don't trust continuity/integrity of government in many places were nuclear power is online, or is being pursued.

According to Transparency International's annual Corruption Perceptions Index, Pakistan and Philippines are both ranked at 139. Pakistan has nuke plants ...


Anyway, no one should be building Gen 3 plants ...

I don't see any option for the short to mid term, other than quickly building new nuclear plants. That is the fastest way to get started on the new paradigm of mostly electric, for transportation, heating, cooling, manufacturing, etc. Later, as things wind down, as they seemingly must, an orderly retreat to solar, wind, hydro, and geo-thermal electric may be in the cards. If there is a disorderly decent, it may be to water power, and animal power. The exact nature of this will be determined by us, and more by our children/grandchildren.

Many are dismal prophets of doom. I myself may tend in that direction, since viewing reality in icey cold calm, mankind just does not act in its own long term bets interests. We wait until an emergency forces us to do something. In this case, we have already waited too long for a best case change to sustainability. It remains to be seen how we do with the longer term, and the dire necessities forced on us in the next decade or so.

Others see the glass as half full. Good luck with that.

Strange species, homo sapiens. Wonder if they'll be missed.


Dog gone it Craig. Once again I'm forced to look like MR. COAL. IMHO coal is the short to mid term option. Not a good option. Not an option that will eliminate as many of the PO problems as many folks might think (but the politicians will offer). But AFAIK is cheaper, faster and most importantly, here on our soil. The one big draw back is AGW. Given that the bulk of the American public doesn't really care much about AGW today IMHO how will they vote when it comes to chosing coal as an effort to maintain BAU? You can guess mY expectation. Remember how I make a living: selling fluid hydrocarbons. Coal is my potential enemy as much as it is the environment. Like someone once said: "The race is not always to the SWIFT nor the battle to the strong. But that's how you bet".

This reminded me of something I heard in the 1970s when I worked for General Atomic:

GA was building a research reactor (TRIGA) in Romania, which was behind the good ole' iron curtain in those days. My friend was a quality engineer. I had worked with him in the company fuel manufacturing plant. When he returned from Romania he was aghast. He had been doing some routine inspection of the reactor housing (a concrete water tank as I recall) and "red-tagged" some faulty work. Later that evening there was a knock on the door of his hotel room. Two police officers notified him that his visa had been revoked. They waited while he packed his bags and escorted them to the airport. I don't know if the reactor was ever finished, or if so, fueled. But you can bet that the contractor was paid.

I didn't see anything about Tom Friedman's column today in which he trumpets the potential for Vinod Khosla's start-up, Calera, to clean CO2 from coal-fired power plant flu gas by precipitating carbonates from hard water or sea water: Dreaming the Possible Dream: NYT.

I did a quick search on Google for the reaction enthalpy numbers and surprisingly couldn't find much definitive. I know that coral and other sea life shell formation requires a fair amount of energy for the volume of CaCO3 produced. But the living precipitation process may be very inefficient. Friedman says he can't verify the scalability of the process, though the company claims they are close to a full-sized plant operation. Anyone have any leads on the definitive energetics of this process? It would be wonderful if it really is viable and could significantly reduce the energy costs below the roughly 1/3 currently projected for CCS. But I am always skeptical of energetic claims by these kinds of start-up companies. They typically forget to (or purposely don't) include some critical energy cost factor that turns out to hurt viability (both EROI and financial) when the scaling up process commences.

Not one to take Friedman's word for such matters, I'd rather turn to some of the more knowledgeable readers/commentators on TOD who might be following this.

Question Everything

Friedman is the ultimate cock eyed optimist. And as discussed yesterday, it takes an optimist to keep plowing ahead to try to solve our energy problems in the face of overwhelming odds, including the unfortunate issues surrounding the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

He is also pushing the wonders of the bloom box as if somehow that will solve our co2 problems. Nothing wrong with the technical geniuses pushing ahead into the great unknown but his failure to really think these things through will probably just lead to more unjustified complacency.

Friedman won the lottery when he married his wife and he desperately does not want a good thing to stop.

I would much be more excited if we found a fix to what appears our natural need to consume unlimited amounts of stuff forever.

Somebody posted it to yesterday's Drumbeat.

Thanks Leanan. I went back to see what was said. But it was more Tom bashing than anything substantive about the calcium carbonate formation process. I thought sure someone on TOD would have some more definitive answers.


Guilty as charged (on engaging in some limited Tom bashing).

I'm not on top of calcium reaction energetics. Rather it was this line that caught my wrath:

“If this works,” said Khosla, “coal-fired power would become more than 100 percent clean. Not only would it not emit any CO2, but by producing clean water and cement as a byproduct it would also be taking all of the CO2 that goes into making those products out of the atmosphere.”

More than 100 percent?
Is he 101% certain about that?
So glad to hear he is giving it his 110% effort.

I'm glad that Friedman has seen the light on the need for a green future.
But that is no excuse for drinking from the green colored KoolAid bowl.

After electricity and transport, cement manufacture is the largest human source of CO2 on the planet.

Any CO2 free process which generated useful cement as a by product would be a net CO2 saver, in a BAU world.

In fact, this is already done with coal burning, fly ash is used as a binder in lower strength cements.

I haven't read the link, but I still don't believe it :)

I know that coral and other sea life shell formation requires a fair amount of energy for the volume of CaCO3 produced. But the living precipitation process may be very inefficient.

Some research shows if you run an electric current though a coral reef the shell volume increases. Such that places that are now having coral die off don't suffer the die off.

So you MIGHT be able to give 'nature a boost' - I'm sure there is some knock-off effect that I'm not seeing.

But you could have a dump load for wind machines, increase ocean habitat and give an additional reason for sea-based wind harvest.

Thanks Eric. Sounds interesting. But my reason for mentioning corals is that living systems can accomplish the formation of CaCO3 from sea water and CO2 which is the basis of this company's claim. I was more interested in the thermochemistry than the coral.


Hi George,

I brought this up a few months back and was essentially called a 'crank' just for asking about it. I heard the founder give a talk and it sounds very hopeful. I've been following their progress (none apparent publicly).

Details of the energetics were scarce, thus my asking here at TOD. Our local gas power plant, with seawater cooling plumbing in place, was to be the CO2 and seawater source.

It was pointed out to me that CO2 is acidic so bubbling it thru seawater is not going to precipitate CaCO3 - it's more likely to dissolve it. So some alkalyzing (base) agent must be introduced.

RR commented, but no one here at TOD was especially optimistic about the whole thing...


If I understand the company's claim they are spraying sea water (or hard water) through the CO2 stream, not pumping CO2 through sea water. Also they do mention the alkalinity issue. I think the chemistry is OK. What I don't know is how much energy it takes to accomplish this reaction and I would also like to know how much external energy is required just to operate the process (running pumps, heating and drying the CaCO3, etc.) If I had to make a guess I'd guess that they are not yet considering the CaCO3 returned on total energy invested (CROTEI!)


Why are you guys still concerned about what hacks like Friedman say? When they have been wrong time and time again, why pay any attention to them?

Ah, but some of you still can't quite shake off the mainstream. Hanging on to the last shreds of decent, "civilized" discourse, are we?

"Why are you guys still concerned about what hacks like Friedman say? When they have been wrong time and time again, why pay any attention to them?"

I suggest you ask this question internally and really think about it. The answer could be told to you, but it won't mean anything unless you come up with it yourself.

I've spent a few years looking into something like this, and i'm looking for university researchers with funds and willingness to collaborate on it. The endothermic step in the process is salt splitting:

NaCl + H2O -> NaOH + HCl, /Delta G = +146 kJ

The carbonation step is then exothermic:

NaOH + CO2 -> NaHCO3 /Delta G = -77 kJ

where burning carbon to make CO2 contributed 397 kJ. So the salt-splitting step costs 36% of the gross energy in the carbon. A modern coal-fired plant is about 41% efficient, and bipolar membrane electrodialysis is maybe 90%, so all of the electricity produced by the plant goes to making base, unless the carbonation energy is recovered, in which case it takes about half.

The Calera process mentions forming CaCO3 (probably as aragonite). This requires consuming two equivalents of base for every CO2 sequestered, and even though the energy released by CaCO3 crystal formation is greater, the energetics are worse than that of NaHCO3.

Reading from the Calera FAQ you linked to, they are very careful not to claim that their process works when all of the required alkalinity is produced from salt-splitting, so i'm sure they have done the math.

For this method to work, the carbonation energy must be re-captured, and the carbon enthalpy must be converted at higher than Carnot efficiency ie.. with a fuel cell or cogeneration.


Let me get this straight; cause sometimes the details flash by too quickly.

(1) So first you start with a tank full of pure clean water (H2O) which came into being exactly how?

(2) And then you add a mound of purified salt (NaCl) so as to dirty up that clean water?

(3) And then you add 146 kiloJoules per unit mass (per mole?) to that purified mixture so as to get NaOH which somehow must be separated (how and at what energy cost?) from that hydrochloric acid (HCl)?

(4) And then you have to bubble CO2 gas (at what energy cost?) through the purified NaOH to get back 77kJ per unit mass for the 146kJ plus you invested into the system?

Is that how the fancy energy accounting works?

Just wondering.

The process can start with salt already in solution, as brine or seawater. It doesn't have to be potable water.

I showed two separate steps because thats how chemists explain things. In the real application I imagine they will use a bipolar cell where 'side A' brine gains protons and gives up sodium ions to become hydrochloric acid, and 'side B' brine plus CO2 gives up protons and gains sodium ions to become sodium bicarbonate, so NaOH is never formed. Either way the net energy cost is the same.

I explained this to (attempt to) answer George's question, not because I think the Calera process will scale. Vinod Khosla has posted on this site before, in response to Robert Rapier's ethanol post. He seems very interested in maintaining BAU, through his cellulosic ethanol company, and now this add-on for existing coal power and cement plants. This is good business, telling people with money what they want to hear. Neither company will succeed in the longer term though, because the additional costs of sustainability are not compatible with Carnot-cycle limitations. This is an example of what I mean.

Thanks for the additional explanation :-)

(Still one has to suspect that sea water is not just H2O plus NaCl and that energies for purification would have to be expended (e.g. remove seaweed) and energies for pumping reactants (e.g. bubbling the CO2 past the anode) would have to be expended and energies for collecting precipitates would have to be expended.)

Thanks again.

Half full,

Thanks for this response. I thought it might be something like this. But that was on the basis of dim memories of thermo-chem from many years gone by and just a remaining intuition about the work required, which in my mind includes such items as Step Back mentions in his/her second comment.

It would be really nice if the energetics proved to be more favorable than CCS appears to be at this stage. And sequestering calcium carbonate would appear to be much safer as a long-term solution. The fact that that product has commercial value does seem to provide an added bonus. But, as you point out, and I suspected, the energetics are marginal at best, just for the chemistry alone. Thus once you add in the peripheral support exo-process energies it starts to look like more snake oil. I hope this is not the case.

One more aspect, however, is that coal is not dirty just because of CO2. The methods of mountain top removal will have to be cleaned up as well.

As the 2nd law reminds us. There is no such thing as a free lunch. And you won't make a profit on the energy side of wealth production.

PS. Sorry for getting back to you so late. I don't get a chance to read the DB posts every day.

Government must 'take back control' of North Sea oil and gas production

Peter Odell, a professor at Erasmus University in Rotterdam and an adviser to the Opec oil cartel, wants a state-controlled strategic offshore hydrocarbons authority to ensure big oil companies work more in the national interest.
"UK oil and gas production has been steadily declining since 1999. The reason is that the UK government, unlike those of most other countries, has abandoned oil and gas production to the private sector and has failed to create attractive conditions for private companies to invest more."
"The government should follow the example of Norway and many other countries by setting up a hydrocarbons authority, which would initiate new private-public partnerships to engage in offshore oil and gas production. This would generate many billions of pounds in highly needed revenues."

Britain and Norway took very different paths in the development of the North Sea, with the UK initially using state-owned groups, such as the British National Oil Corporation and a partly state-owned BP. These government stakes were gradually sold off, while Oslo has kept a much tighter rein on its sector and built up a massive sovereign wealth fund with the proceeds.


The National Geographic Channel is airing something called World Without Oil tomorrow night.

They have a blog entry about peak oil here

I had already set the DVR to record this show. We will see if it is any good or not..

There is a 2nd show coming up on March 16th:

Alaska's Last Oil

The world is addicted to oil. But now the easy pockets of oil are gone and the race is on to find new sources. Nowhere is the battle more intense than in Alaska - source of nearly 15% of America's domestic production, and home to the nation's largest wildlife preserve, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where companies are pushing to drill. EXPLORER travels back millions of years to see how oil was created, and looks to the future to ask how far we'll go to find every last barrel and at what cost.

Hmmm...that blog entry was an absolute joke, full of misinformation about peak oil and cruel stereotypes.

Granted the show may be something to watch, if only for infotainment purposes.

There something that I can't quite understand yet. So many people here continue to mention such and such stories coming out of somewhere, and invariably get excited like so many little children. NYT has story about peak oil! Richard Branson speaks out about peak oil! Inhofe accepts climate change! OK, last one may be impossible.

Remember, these people are 40 years behind the curve when it comes to peak oil, and probably 10-20 years behind the curve when it comes to climate change. Why do you need any validation from them about your ideas, when they are solid, grounded in science and nature, and confirmed by observation about everything that's going on around you?

Says alot about human psychology. We just can't stand being right about something, as individuals. It's too much to take. We need to be loved and respected by the wider mainstream society.

I suppose I need to work on being less negative about things, but I've decided that I'm never going to apologize, ever, for being a doomer. Moreover, there's alot in life to be positive about. I just don't see how if some famous person or some mainstream publication suddenly says something about peak oil, that this is anything to get worked up about, at all.

I don't think that's it at all.

It's not about being loved and respected. Rather, it's hope that something will be done on a societal level. Perhaps a futile hope, but really, if there were no hope, we would not bother with this site.

Is this related to the online game "World Without Oil"?

Sidenote: Kriscan had a recent interview with the guy that did the "World Without Oil" online game.


My impression is that it is different from the online game "World WIthout Oil".

The short video available online is scary--says that without oil, we wouldn't have food, and we wouldn't have electricity. Regard electricity, the video talks about oil being used for coal transportation, and for back up generators, and in some states directly--and mentions Florida.

Florida is a big user of natural gas for electricity--perhaps that is what they meant. All states use at least some oil in the lubricating of their equipment, so in that sense, electricity is dependent on oil. I would have named Hawaii as the most directly oil dependent state for electricity, since it imports oil and burns it for electricity generation.

I hope the quality of the movie is more technically astute than what they chose to post on the website for it:
"Another possibility for generating electricity without fuel could be through the use of naturally produced material for batteries."

The "naturally produced material" is lithium, and of course a battery generates no electricity.

Still, a well-produced mass-market message might do some good in raising awareness.

From above: "Methane sells newspapers, but it’s not the big story, nor does it look to be a game changer to the big story, which is CO2."
With all due respect to RealClimate (and my respect for them re climate ranks with my respect for TOD re oil & fossil fuels), I most heartily disagree. And that's because I see no technical fix with respect to methane and there are measures that can be taken with respect to CO2.
Perhaps it's due to my particular perspective. The "Doom and Gloom" in my online name is not because I think the problems are beyond technical solution -- and the basic problems have been obvious to me since the late 60s and 70s. The fact that after all these years so very little is being done and what that says about people is the bed rock of my pessimism.
It is technically possible to do a great deal about CO2 and we can have a debate on that. The area of land producing methane is large. Very large. Do we put a cover on it and sequester it? It's release is due to warming. How much of the warming leading to large (very large) scale release of methane is already (as they say) baked (!) into the cake.

I had the same response to that article. If 2007's big arctic melt was the first tipping point, the methane releasing from the arctic waters and in particular the Siberian methane beds is the 2nd tipping point.


In the above linked article, is this:

There has long been concern the release of methane locked in the permafrost could trigger catastrophic and abrupt climate change.

In another article I unfortunately did not bookmark, it talked about the implications on worldwide weather from release of just 1% of the methane locked in the arctic oceans. Imagine what would happen if a high percentage releases.

We may in fact be right at the edge of a massive release of methane, which some scientists refer to as a potential methane bomb. At 20 times the greenhouse effect of CO2, it would be catastrophic.

Now that it is, like you say, baked in, we better all hope it doesn't happen in a short period of time.

That little piece by RealClimate was one of the worst they have produced. They missed the quantification part which renders their smug fob-off attempt null and void. With two trillion tons of methane sitting only 50 meters below the surface and with rapidly warming Arctic Ocean waters (something none of the coupled ocean-atmosphere GCMs can resolve thanks to their totally worthless eddy viscosity parameterizations for the oceans) we are looking at 100s of ppmv CO2 equivalent extra loading in the atmosphere that could come on the timescale of less than a decade and not a few centuries. I don't see this leading to the end of the world but it would make the A2 CO2 scenario that is considered a worst case look like an optimistic joke.

The problem of release of methane from clathrates under the Arctic Ocean would seem to be much like Peak Oil. The problem isn't the magnitude of the source but the rate of the release. The clathrates aren't sitting on the floor of the ocean, they are buried at some depth below. That means there is going to be a time constant for the temperature to increase with depth. The effect would be much like that of the land surface, where the seasonal variation is attenuated with depth. At a depth of only a few meters below the land surface, the average temperature is nearly constant. Were the Arctic Ocean to warm a bit, the resulting warming below the boundary between water and ocean bottom would exhibit a similar time lag. The clathrates buried deeper in the sediments wouldn't see the change in water temperature for decades or even centuries.

As it is, most of the Arctic Ocean still freezes over in winter, which implies that the water temperature will not increase rapidly. The sea-ice actually works as insulation, keeping the water below from freezing, once the sea-ice thickens. Furthermore, in addition to being cold, the surface layer is very fresh and "floats" on top of the warmer, saltier waters which flow in from the North Atlantic or Pacific.

From this perspective, I doubt that the rate of release of methane will change very fast. Of course, I haven't any calculations to back up that conclusion. Methane emissions from land based permafrost would be a different situation, IMHO...

E. Swanson

The problem of release of methane from clathrates under the Arctic Ocean would seem to be much like Peak Oil. The problem isn't the magnitude of the source but the rate of the release.

Actually, it is both, so I assume you mean the more immediate problem?

The clathrates aren't sitting on the floor of the ocean, they are buried at some depth below.

Ah, but this is where domino theories might apply. If that shallow Siberian area goes, that speeds up the time for the others to go by heating things up that much more quickly.

That means there is going to be a time constant for the temperature to increase with depth.

Yes, but only ten percent of the permafrost on land going gets us up to about 800ppm. We don't need the melting to be very deep. This is all the more so when you think 2% of the Siberian stuff, 3% of the Siberian land-based permafrost, 3% of the NA land-based permafrost... all of which warms us up enough to then get some of the deeper stuff going, say 1%, then more of the other stuff goes...

See? Doesn't take much. And that's without considering the effects of increased desertification, the amazon browning, the oceans getting noxious to life, etc.

We have been demonstrably behind the curve with the science so far. So far as I can tell, we still are, and always will be. Takes time to do research, eh? We don't know when or even what the tipping points are, but we do know we don't know. Could be, and probably are, in the midst of one now... at least, that's what all the melting and farting seems to be saying.

We have to change our perspectives so that a century isn't a long time, but a blink. Seven biblical generations, after all, is 280 years. At only 100 years in the future, we're very short-sighted.

The effect would be much like that of the land surface, where the seasonal variation is attenuated with depth. At a depth of only a few meters below the land surface, the average temperature is nearly constant.

Someone had better tell the thermokarsts.

Were the Arctic Ocean to warm a bit, the resulting warming below the boundary between water and ocean bottom would exhibit a similar time lag. The clathrates buried deeper in the sediments wouldn't see the change in water temperature for decades or even centuries.

Doesn't that depend a lot on the speed of heating of the oceans and atmosphere? Let me add here, the Arctic Ocean clathrates are between 1 and 3 degrees (C, I think) from being unstable. Additionally, we don't need temps to go up anywhere but the Arctic for all this to become an undeniable reality, and the Arctic is heating up a lot faster than the rest of the planet, isn't it?

This idea that 1. it won't happen for decades or centuries and 2. so it's not urgent are both a bit wacky to me. After all, it doesn't matter if the effect is then if the trigger is now.


The clathrates buried deeper in the sediments wouldn't see the change in water temperature for decades or even centuries.

Probably true, but I have this nagging doubt; we used to say the same thing about Greenland glaciers: "It will take ten thousand years for the warming signal to reach the bottom." But then we found out that it takes about ten seconds -- for the liquid water to fall through the rapidly forming moulins to the bottom, and then lubricate the glacier and hasten its trip to the ocean by orders of magnitude.

So I have to wonder if something like that will happen with clathrates. I can imagine cracks in the permafrost cap propagating downward, exposing deeper strata to water...

and the basic problems have been obvious to me since the late 60s and 70s. The fact that after all these years so very little is being done and what that says about people is the bed rock of my pessimism.

Yes, but did you watch the Oscars?! I didn't...

"did you watch the Oscars?"
Can't do that -- allergic to adds

"open choke" has been taking shots at peak oil in his blog of late. he appears to be a lurker or posts under a different name. would it be possible to invite him on here to discuss his ideas ?


elwood -- skimmed his site. Seems to have a good handle on numbers but also seems a little too thin skinned. Seems he's taken offense to being classified as a Big Oil minion. If he has truly gone over to the dark side like me, WT and Rocky he should relish such barbs. Any of us could build a site and gather a set of fans. But what fun would that be. We wouldn't have nice folks like memmel, Alan or marg to tease.

The biggest problem with fusion (as currently conceived) is not net energy. It is breeding fuel(Tritium)from the fusion reaction. No one knows how to do that and estimates are that it will take 50 to 75 years to work out once we start. We haven't started.

Which is why I like Polywell fusion.

I think you gotta explain things better.
"As currently conceived" I guess means tokamak, yes? Breeding fuel (tritium) means the products of collision of neutrons with the lithium wall, yes? On this site, you need to spell it out.