Drumbeat: March 31, 2010

Energetic progress: There is every chance that in future energy will contribute less to America’s trade deficit

The oil shocks of 1973 and 1979 galvanised America’s politicians into trying to reduce the country’s dependence on imported oil. In 1975 Congress introduced the first corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for cars. Electric utilities cut their use of oil and domestic production rose. But after prices crashed in 1986 conservation efforts petered out. Average car fuel economy declined, and imports began an almost continuous two-decade climb.

The latest oil shock was far more drawn out than its predecessors, but the effects may be just as far-reaching. As oil rose from $20 per barrel in 2002 to $147 in 2008, oil companies found they could profitably extract more oil from ageing fields with techniques such as gas and steam injection. The oil industry had largely pulled out of the Great Plains when independent prospectors earlier this decade found promising new deposits in the Bakken Formation, below North Dakota and Montana. It is now thought to contain up to 4 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil, the largest continuous oil formation in the lower 48 states. And BP announced last autumn that its Tiber oilfield in the Gulf of Mexico could hold 4 billion-6 billion barrels.

ConocoPhillips to expand Alaska offshore drilling

HOUSTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama's announcement on Wednesday of plans to expand offshore oil and gas drilling allows ConocoPhillips to move ahead on exploring its leases in offshore Alaska.

Four bids for Jordan nuclear plant

Amman - Jordan has received four offers to build a nuclear power plant in the country, the chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), Khalid Touqan, said Wednesday.

Touqan said the offers came from Russia, Canada, South Korea and a consortium comprising France's Areva and Mitsubishi of Japan.

Reclaiming Ireland’s Culinary Heritage, One Roast Lamb or Sponge Cake at a Time

The book is an outgrowth of the school’s “Forgotten Skills” workshops, popular one-day classes that teach the basics of making butter, curing bacon and skinning animals.

Obama Announces Expanded Offshore Oil Exploration

(Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama said today he will allow oil and natural-gas drilling off the U.S. East Coast and cancel development in Bristol Bay, Alaska.

The president proposed permitting exploration in the Atlantic Ocean from Delaware south and, if a congressional moratorium is lifted, in the Gulf of Mexico 125 miles (201 kilometers) off the west coast of Florida.

“Given our energy needs, in order to sustain economic growth and produce jobs, and keep our businesses competitive, we are going to need to harness traditional sources of fuel even as we ramp up production of new sources,” Obama said at an event at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

(Also: Obama’s Remarks on Offshore Drilling)

Fracking not a cleaner alternative - Cornell prof.

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Natural gas obtained by the controversial technique of hydraulic fracturing may contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and so should not be considered as a cleaner alternative to coal or oil, according to a Cornell University researcher.

Although natural gas, when burned, produces only about half of the carbon dioxide emissions of coal, that calculation omits greenhouse gas emissions from the well-drilling, water-trucking, pipeline-laying, and forest-felling that are part of the production of hydraulically fractured natural gas, Ecology Professor Robert Howarth argues in a new paper.

Crude Oil Rises to 11-Week High as Dollar Slips Against Euro

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil surged to an 11-week high in New York as the dollar declined against the euro, bolstering investor demand for commodities.

Oil rose as much as 1.7 percent after the greenback fell against the common currency for the third time in four days. Prices slipped from the day’s highs after an Energy Department report today showed that supplies of crude oil rose by a greater-than-forecast 2.93 million barrels last week and that gasoline inventories unexpectedly increased.

“The market is focused on the U.S. dollar today,” said Sean Brodrick, a natural resource analyst with Weiss Research in Jupiter, Florida. “If we were trading on the fundamentals, the crude oil and gasoline numbers would be sending prices lower.”

Europe finds electric vehicle religion

Until recently, European makers seemed oblivious of the push for electric propulsion. Seeing hybrids and other battery cars as a Japanese technology, makers like Mercedes-Benz and BMW were determined to fight back with their own high-mileage alternative, the diesel.

Suddenly, there’s a shift in strategy, and while European makers aren’t walking away from diesel, they’re determined to prove that they can dominate the battery car field too.

Pemex Chief Executive Suarez Sees First Output Gains in 6 Years

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos, Latin America’s largest oil producer, is targeting its first production gains in six years as the company brings online new projects and arrests slumping output at the Cantarell field.

The company, whose production fell to 2.61 million barrels a day last year from 3.4 million barrels in 2004, expects Cantarell to be “stable” for at least the next two years and production from its onshore Chicontepec field to gain, Chief Executive Officer Juan Jose Suarez Coppel said in an interview.

Aramco Confirms Ras Tanura Location Review

A Saudi Aramco official has confirmed a Reuters report earlier this week that a change of location for the giant Ras Tanura petrochemicals project is under consideration. The project would be a joint venture between Aramco and Dow Chemical.

Al-Jubail is one alternative location being evaluated, which, like Ras Tanura, is a port city on the Saudi east coast (see map above). Other media reports suggest that Ras al-Zour is also being looked into, which is 80km north of Al-Jubai.

IHS CERA Sees Big, But Potentially Limited, Iraqi Production Growth

Iraq's current "highly ambitious plans" to expand oil production are unlikely to be fully realized given political, security, operational and infrastructure challenges, according to a new report, Fields of Dreams: The Great Iraqi Oil Rush -- Its Potential, Challenges, and Limits by IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates (IHS CERA).

Iraq currently plans to expand production to as much as 12 million barrels per day (bpd) in the next six to seven years. Achieving levels around half that in the next decade would be more likely and would still constitute "a significant expansion," the report emphasizes. IHS CERA's current outlook for Iraq is 4.3 mbd in 2015 and 6.5 mbd in 2020 -- still big growth numbers.

Libya aims to privatise half of economy in decade

TRIPOL - Half of Libya’s economy will shift into private hands within 10 years, a privatisation official said, creating opportunities for foreign investors to snap up assets in the oil-exporting country.

Troops take over 38 gas stations in the state of Táchira

From Tuesday, Venezuelan National Guard and Army troops took over 38 gas pumps in the state of Táchira (on the border with Colombia) to prevent "destabilizing actions" related to the supply of fuel.

Kazakhstan Extend Tax Probe of BG, Eni-Led Venture

(Bloomberg) -- Kazakhstan extended a tax probe into payments by the BG Group Plc and Eni SpA-led Karachaganak venture after preparing claims for 2004.

The Kazakh Finance Ministry’s tax committee is checking the “completeness and timeliness” of Karachaganak Petroleum Operating BV’s payments in the years 2005 to 2008, as well as those of shareholder affiliates, the Astana-based ministry said today in an e-mailed response to questions.

Lukoil to Increase Uzbek Gas Investment This Year

(Bloomberg) -- OAO Lukoil, the Russian oil producer with the most overseas assets, will increase investment in Uzbek natural-gas projects to profit from higher international prices.

Lukoil plans to spend $480 million developing gas deposits in Uzbekistan this year to boost output more than fivefold after 2015, an official from the Moscow-based company’s overseas arm said today.

Iraq oil law a priority, PM hopeful Allawi says

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said on Wednesday he would honour deals signed with global oil majors in recent months and would move quickly to pass a new hydrocarbons law if his bloc forms the government.

But Allawi, whose cross-sectarian Iraqiya bloc won the greatest number of seats in Iraq's March 7 parliamentary election, said the deals might need some minor adjustments and he wanted to see more competition in Iraq's energy sector.

"We are going to honour all contracts. We are going to honour all agreements because we believe this is very important," Allawi told Reuters in an interview.

Saudi’s Al-Naimi ’Hopes’ Oil Stays in $70-$80 Per Barrel Range

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al- Naimi said he “hopes” prices remain in the $70-a-barrel to $80-a-barrel range, signaling the world’s largest producer may be willing to boost output if crude accelerates further.

Natural gas ETF flaming out versus oil

In all the furor about potential inflation and the pricing pressure on energy, one amazing anomaly stands out — natural gas. In my view, it is an almost perfect fuel and energy source, yet it is getting cheaper and cheaper compared to oil. What’s up?

Offshore Drilling Plan Covers Expansion, Conservation - Salazar

U.S. Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar Wednesday said the Obama administration's new proposal allowing for an expansion in offshore oil and natural gas exploration provides both needed development of those resources and conservation protections -- notably in Alaska.

In an interview on CNBC, Salazar said the plan would result in additional production, but didn't elaborate or provide a time-frame.

Environmentalists attack Obama plan to allow oil drilling off Florida's coasts

WASHINGTON -- Florida environmentalists are blasting the Obama administration's plans to expand offshore oil drilling, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Coast.

Delays to major projects give Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority breathing space

Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA) has gained more breathing space to meet rocketing power demand in the short term because of delays to major residential and industrial projects, an official forecast showed yesterday. But the utility will still need to double generating capacity before the emirate’s first nuclear reactor comes online in seven years.

High court: PPL must pay millions in rent for dams

HELENA, Mont.—The Montana Supreme Court told utility PPL Montana on Tuesday that it owes the state $40 million in current and back rent -- along with more in future rents -- for use of the riverbeds where hydroelectric dams sit.

The order came as Gov. Brian Schweitzer was considering budget cuts to fend off a looming cash crunch, and it stands to provide the state with another multimillion dollar windfall following the recent deal to sell the Otter Creek coal tracks.

Remapping the Nuclear Grid

The “atomic renaissance” has become a household expression to describe the nuclear boom that is taking place in different parts of the world. It is certainly true for China, India and Russia, which have already launched a number of nuclear power units and are considering more in the coming decade. The nuclear boom has echoed through Europe, although this part of the world is better known for its unconditional support for the development of renewable energy sources—more of a shift in attitude than an atomic renaissance.

Vermont Yankee Tests Show Tritium Plume Spreading

Vermont Yankee officials announced last week that they had definitively identified and stopped two tritium leaks from underground pipes surrounding the reactor. Elevated levels of tritium in groundwater were first reported Jan. 7.

A series of nearly two dozen test wells drilled at various depths in locations around the reactor are informing state officials about the scope and movement of the tritium plume, which appears to be inching closer to the Connecticut River.

China Said to Curb Soybean Oil Imports From Argentina

(Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s biggest soybean oil importer, will seek to curb shipments of the commodity from Argentina on growing trade tensions between the countries and to help domestic oil producers, four executives said.

Beginning April 1, some soybean oil shipments from Argentina will likely be rejected for failing to meet a national standard on impurity and companies are discouraged from applying for further import permits for Argentine soybean oil, said the executives. They attended a briefing given by the China Chamber of Commerce of Import and Export of Foodstuffs, Native Produce & Animal By-Products, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Commerce.

China begins solar-powered refrigerator development

Can a refrigerator operate without electricity? A project jointly launched by Henan Xinfei Electric Company and the China Household Electric Appliance Research Institute on March 31 displayed this possibility. The two sides began joint research and development of solar-powered refrigerators in an attempt to realize the actual deployment of environmentally-friendly refrigerators that will operate against the traditional cooling mode by the end of this year. These refrigerators emit little carbon dioxide, consume almost no electricity and do not make any noise.

Mistake? My green house won't have a garage

Am I making a mistake? My green house won't have a garage, an almost American institution and a feature considered desirable for resale. Occasionally, I question this very deliberate decision to go without.

Between the grims and the grins

In this cheerful future, we can have very comfortable lives trimmed of gluttony but guided by intelligence. Amory Lovins is perhaps the most prominent proponent of this viewpoint. He's been at it more than 30 years, and if not quite a household name, he has nonetheless been greatly influential among energy policymakers, helping guide the United States to more efficient uses of energy.

But his argument has a soft underbelly. If all we do is milk more productivity out of energy, doesn't this encourage us to spend our savings in other ways? For example, if we can save energy building and powering our homes, aren't we liable to use that savings on outdoor Jacuzzis and swimming pools?

The counterpoint to Lovins at the Aspen Environment Forum and other sessions in the West has been James Howard Kunstler. He became famous for his stern criticism of post-World War II urban designs and suburban living patterns. He's funny in a snide and often profane way. Shown a '60s-style condominium building during a tour several years ago, he barked out: “Whoever designed that should be summarily shot." Because of global climate change, Kunstler sees darkness ahead, at least by standard definitions of prosperity, including virtual abandonment of that totem of 20th century ingenuity, the high-rise building.

Can Humans Manage the Atmosphere?

To my mind, some of the intensity in the discourse over this broad suite of possible climate interventions — on top of the unintended one under way now — derives from the uncomfortable situation the human species finds itself facing at this moment in its history.

Humanity stands poised between its fossil-fueled adolescence and whatever comes next.

Breaking Ground for the Digital Homestead

If you want to go back to nature, you might think twice before leaving your computer and Internet access behind. There's a burgeoning e-commerce sector dedicated to meeting the needs of urban and rural homesteaders -- providing products, information and social networking opportunities.

Jeff Rubin: Expect a new peak for oil next year

What does $80-per-barrel oil say to you?

Three years ago, it would have told you that global oil markets were at record tightness. Back then, the U.S. president was making a personal pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia to vainly plead for more production. And economists were worrying about the implications for global economic growth.

Today, it seems the goalposts have suddenly moved. After filling up on $4-per-gallon gasoline only two Memorial Day weekends ago, today’s $2.20-per-gallon average gasoline price doesn’t seem so expensive to American motorists anymore.

Oil up near $83 on dollar, mixed US supply report

Oil prices edged up to near $83 a barrel Wednesday as the dollar weakened and the market awaited a key government report about the strength of U.S. crude demand.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude for May delivery was up 48 cents to $82.85 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 20 cents to settle at $82.37 on Tuesday.

Crude inventories rose last week by 421,000 barrels, the American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday. Analysts had expected an increase of 2.7 million barrels, according to a survey by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Inventories of gasoline and distillates fell less than expected, the API said.

Shell, Total Chase ‘Impossible’ Sales in Race to Curb Refining

(Bloomberg) -- Oil companies may struggle to unload their excess refining capacity in Europe this year as profits from turning crude into fuel stay depressed.

Total SA, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Chevron Corp. are seeking to sell refineries in Europe after the recession reduced demand. Eni SpA Chief Executive Officer Paolo Scaroni said this month it’s “impossible” to find buyers after refining profit margins slumped to a 15-year low in December.

OPEC Output Slipped From a 14-Month High on Iraq, Survey Shows

(Bloomberg) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ crude-oil production slipped from a 14- month high in March, led by an Iraqi cut, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Output fell 30,000 barrels a day, or 0.1 percent, to an average 29.205 million barrels a day, according to the survey of oil companies, producers and analysts. Members with production quotas, all except Iraq, raised output by 55,000 barrels to 26.84 million barrels a day, the highest level since December 2008 and 1.995 million above their target.

OPEC cut its quotas by 4.2 million barrels to 24.845 million barrels a day beginning in January 2009 as fuel demand tumbled during the worst recession since World War II. The group left the targets unchanged at a meeting March 17 in Vienna.

“With oil near $82 it’s going to be hard to get them to cut back by much,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Massachusetts.

Is an oil price band credible?

There seems to be a concerted effort to stabilize market expectations around a price band of $70-$80, or more realistically $60-$90, in the hope this would encourage self-stabilizing speculation in the market and steady prices around this level.

But how realistic is the stabilization effort?

Ministers to urge better dialogue on oil price volatility

CANCUN, Mexico (AFP) – Energy producers and consumers were set Wednesday to urge improved dialogue on tackling oil price volatility in a joint ministerial declaration to be issued at the end of a key forum.

The biennial International Energy Forum (IEF) concludes two days of talks in the beach resort of Cancun that have also centered on the future for fossil fuels amid increasing use of renewable energy sources.

Oil and gas have 'vital' future role: US minister

CANCUN, Mexico — Oil and gas still have a vital role to play despite the United States' need to use renewable fuels, US Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman said here on Tuesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum -- the world's biggest gathering of energy producing nations and consumers -- Poneman also backed calls for more transparency in energy supply data to help avoid excessive volatility in oil prices.

Interior Dept. to decide Alaska offshore drilling

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Interior Department is ready to announce its analysis and review of defects in a program covering lease sales off much of Alaska's coastline, including Arctic waters, according to a legal filing Tuesday.

Obama to allow oil drilling off Virginia coast

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a reversal of a long-standing ban on most offshore drilling, President Obama is allowing oil drilling 50 miles off Virginia's shorelines. At the same time, he is rejecting some new drilling sites that had been planned in Alaska.

Obama's plan offers few concessions to environmentalists, who have been strident in their opposition to more oil platforms off the nation's shores. Hinted at for months, the plan modifies a ban that for more than 20 years has limited drilling along coastal areas other than the Gulf of Mexico.

Gas Drillers’ New York Hopes Fade on Paterson Woes

(Bloomberg) -- Chesapeake Energy Corp.’s bid to tap new sources of natural gas in New York state may be quashed by Governor David Paterson’s political troubles.

Paterson is the most prominent state proponent of drilling in the Marcellus Shale, a formation extending from West Virginia to New York that has helped spur a boom in U.S. shale-gas production. Chesapeake, the second-biggest producer of natural gas in the U.S., is one of three companies that have filed a combined 58 applications for drilling permits in the state.

Cnooc Profit Misses Estimates After Oil Price Slump

(Bloomberg) -- Cnooc Ltd., China’s biggest offshore energy explorer, reported full-year profit that missed analysts’ estimates as oil prices slumped from a record.

Net income fell 34 percent to 29.5 billion yuan ($4.3 billion), or 0.66 yuan a share, from a record 44.4 billion yuan, or 0.99 yuan a share, a year earlier, Beijing-based Cnooc said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange today. That’s worse than a median estimate of 30.55 billion yuan in a survey of 15 analysts compiled by Bloomberg News. Sales fell 17 percent.

The New Face of Oil And Gas

But it was always considered one business - oil 'n gas. So much so that there evolved a pricing guide among investors to gauge the over or under valuation of the oil or gas price. This guide was simply that under stable conditions, oil should be about 6 times gas. For many decades that has been a pretty good guide, but it no longer applies - since about 2006. So what happened in 2006? Two mega developments - peak oil and hydro-fracing in gas bearing shale.

Athabasca Raises $1.32 Billion in Biggest Canada IPO Since 1999

(Bloomberg) -- Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. raised C$1.35 billion ($1.32 billion), the most for a Canadian initial public offering since Manulife Financial Corp. in 1999, to fund energy exploration in Alberta.

The Calgary-based company priced 75 million shares at C$18 each, selling a 19 percent stake, according to a prospectus yesterday. The offering is scheduled to close April 8, and the shares will begin trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange before June 18 under the symbol ATH, Athabasca said in a statement.

Peabody’s Offer Fails to Value Expansion, Macarthur Coal Says

(Bloomberg) -- Macarthur Coal Ltd. said a A$3.3 billion ($3 billion) cash offer from Peabody Energy Corp., the biggest U.S. coal company, fails to value its expansion plans and isn’t in the best interests of shareholders.

The proposal “does not fully value Macarthur Coal and its significant growth prospects,” Chairman Keith De Lacy said today in a statement. The A$13-a-share bid sent Brisbane-based Macarthur surging to A$14.05, as investors bet Peabody will have to increase its offer to win over ArcelorMittal and Posco, who paid as much as A$20 a share for their stakes.

Power Lines Replace Pines as Tree Cuts Wreck Westchester Views

Bloomberg) -- Westchester County homeowners are learning the price of keeping the lights on.

Some residents have new views of the steel-lattice towers that carry power lines through Westchester, which is the closest northern suburb to New York and has the highest median home price in the state. Oaks, maples and beeches that veiled a highway for decades are being chopped down.

“I know what time it is by the sound of the traffic,” said Amy Kupferberg, who estimates that 350 fresh tree stumps behind her family’s century-old farmhouse in Greenburgh hacked as much as $1 million off its value. “This whole neighborhood has been redefined by this.”

Solar, Wind Power Groups Becoming Prominent Washington Lobbying Forces After Years of Relative Obscurity

In 1998, the entire alternative energy industry barely even registered as a political player in Washington, spending a mere $2.4 million on lobbying the federal government. Meanwhile, in the same year, the oil and gas, electric utilities and mining industries spent a combined $142 million advancing their own legislative interests.

That landscape, however, has changed considerably.

Where did all that power debt come from?

I have been a vocal critic of NB Power and the politics of energy for 30 years. Nothing in the current state of affairs at NB Power surprises me - high debt, a nuclear albatross, a fossil fuel-dependent grid in the age of peak oil and climate change.

What surprises me or, more to the point, discourages me, is the fog that still shrouds electricity politics.

Chevrolet factory turns out its 1st Volt; Nissan prices Leaf

The first factory-built Chevrolet Volt battery car is scheduled to roll off the production line today, a significant dry run for the General Motors' Hamtramck, Mich., factory that will begin regular Volt production in November.

Tesla files update with SEC, confirms Roadster production for 2012, draws from DOE loans

Registering for an initial public offering, like Tesla Motors has done, requires that certain documents are filed regarding company actions. Since first filing for its IPO back in January, Tesla has had a few new developments surface which requires the company to amend its S-1 filing.

Clean Car Gain Means Polypore Battery Parts Beat Wind

(Bloomberg) -- Polypore International Inc., which makes one of the key components of electric-car batteries, is climbing faster than most alternative energy stocks this year as investors bet on a global shift to low-polluting automobiles.

Should the U.S. compete or work with China on clean energy?

On Monday, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced $37.5 million in U.S. funding over the next five years for the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, to be located at existing facilities in both countries. The Center will focus on energy efficiency, clean vehicles and carbon capture from coal plants.

California solar projects rush to beat deadline for subsidies

The deadline — and the push for green energy by President Obama and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger— has inspired unprecedented coordination among regulators and environmentalists who want green energy but not rampant destruction of wilderness. If they succeed in siting so many large solar projects quickly, California may set a precedent for how other states resolve concerns over land use vs. the benefits of green energy.

"It's a scene that's being played out all over the country," says Benjamin Kelahan, senior vice president for energy of the Saint Consulting Group. But California, he says, is "a hotbed of activity."

Alternate Current -- A time of opportunity - will we seize the day?

The next great economic boom will be in the arena of replacing oil. Whether we drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or deep offshore, oil is a finite resource. Many believe we have already reached "peak oil" in that from now on usage of oil will always outstrip new supplies and that within 50 years or so, oil will be scarce, if still available at all. We use oil not only for fuel, but for fertilizers to satisfy the ever increasing need for food, for plastics to build all the things we now "need" such as the computer I'm using right now and for so much more it's hard to list it all.

Food a Growing Problem

There is one more intriguing factor in the game which is presumed to be food production chasing numbers; it is that this is not the actual game at all, but the reverse, ie, numbers chasing food production. First came agriculture, then surpluses, then increasing numbers, then more agriculture etc. This point has been variously made. The UN supports the statement that “… the agricultural transformation improved food security and thereby set in motion a progressive increase of human population density. So productive was the enterprise of agriculture that over time an ever-decreasing number of farm workers were able to feed ever larger numbers of people”.

Dr. Guy McPherson Talk

Dr. McPherson recently left academia for other pursuits. As he put it in his popular blog, Nature Bats Last: "I departed university life for many reasons, among them to dedicate more time informing the world's citizens about the consequences of the way we live. My message centers on the twin sides of the fossil-fuel coin: global climate change and energy decline (commonly known as "peak oil"). ...These unprecedented phenomena impact every aspect of life on Earth, notably including our ability to protect the living planet on which we depend for our own survival."

West Kootenay Boundary economic picture bleak according to report

“In terms of peak oil, it is hard to see an upside for this region,” he said, “as dependent on external regions as we are and being as isolated as we are.”

It’s a bit of gloom, Penfold admitted, but the doom may be averted and a healthy economy emerge if people endeavour to become more self-reliant and resilient. People can begin to create more regional food, energy, goods and services to replace the ones currently imported.

U.K. Panel Calls Climate Data Valid

LONDON (AP) — A parliamentary panel investigating allegations that scientists at one of the world’s leading climate research centers misrepresented data related to global warming announced Wednesday that it had found no evidence to support that charge.

But the panel, the Science and Technology Committee of the British House of Commons, did fault scientists at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit and its director, Prof. Phil Jones, for the way they handled freedom of information requests from skeptics challenging the evidence of climate change.

Some good news for a change

As with all climate change issues, there are plenty of reasons to respond with a "yeah, but..." Regardless of the climategate tempest in a thimble the scientific warnings remain pretty terrifying and globally the pace of emission cuts needs to accelerate rapidly. The UN negotiations to agree a successor to Kyoto are stuck in a dangerous limbo, as evidenced by the failure last week of the International Maritime Organisation to make any real progress towards cutting emissions from shipping, while plans for a US climate bill continue to face vehement opposition. Peak oil, meanwhile, remains the economically apocalyptic, riot-inducing elephant in the room.

U.N. official expects no climate deal until 2011

AMSTERDAM (AP) — A new legal agreement committing nations around the world to curb greenhouse gas emissions is unlikely to be completed until the end of 2011, two years later than originally envisioned, the top U.N. climate official said Wednesday.

Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the U.N. climate change secretariat, said countries need to restore confidence in U.N. negotiations following the dismal results of the Copenhagen summit in December, which ended in a vague agreement of principles and a pledge of finances for poor countries most threatened by climate change.

Geoengineers get the fear

"Be very careful." The warning, from Robert Socolow, a climate researcher at Princeton University in New Jersey, came at the end of a meeting last week that aimed to thrash out guidelines for the nascent field of geoengineering. The discipline aims to use global-scale efforts to control the climate and mitigate the worst effects of anthropogenic warming — but the techniques used could also have far-reaching, unintended consequences.

NYMEX WTI $83.70

And the reason for the increase in price was the devaluation of the dollar against the Euro for the third day out of the last four.

So we are not only up against a plateau of oil production since mid 04, but also a devaluing currency due to huge govt deficits and accumulated debt.

This may be one of the first major issues - it is certainly biting hard in the UK already.

I am not an expert in the bond market or currency exchanges, but a layman's view would suggest that the massive UK/US debt will get harder to finance and our bond interest rates will go up and our currency down.

I agree with the projections of westexas as intensely logical, but I see no evidence of oil supply constraints yet - no companies have gone to buy oil to find it not available on the market - but happy to be proved wrong. That is not to say that this won't happen soon but has not happened yet.

However as PeakEarl points out, even without seriously increasing oil prices per-see, the currency weaknesses will out-pace market supply problems in UK and US. This may not effect Asia in the same way assuming their currencies stay in-line with the true oil price (e.g. oil price goes up due to weak dollar but so does the Yen so it makes no difference to them).

Perhaps there is some reason why this financial trajectory might not play out as I have said - like I said I am no expert. Maybe some one else could explain why not.

As a consumer it does not matter why the petrol price crosses £2/l, as long as it does and my wages are the same.

I see no evidence of oil supply constraints yet.

However as PeakEarl points out, even without seriously increasing oil prices per-see, the currency weaknesses will out-pace market supply problems in UK and US.

Agree on both counts. I keep wondering what might be a strong enough feedback loop to slow all the borrowing by the UK and US. Could the rising cost of fuel due to devalued currency be the catalyst for serious deficit reform? We shall see...

"I see no evidence of oil supply constraints yet."

So $80 oil is a non issue to you?

Denial knows no philosophical boundaries.

And we're knocking on the door of $85 today I see.

But $40/bbl is right around the corner! Right? Right?!

Your point? $80 means I can't buy oil today? Rubbish.

I would support the view that the market is worrying about potential lack of future supply and is pricing it in, but show me someone who went without oil today because it was not available.

In the fall down from $147/bbl oil people were talking about the supply glut that was going to lead us back to $40/barrel or even back to $15/barrel.

Instead, 2 years later $80 seems to be a pretty hard floor and that supply glut from the high priced oil still hasn't materialized.
The point is there is an adequate supply of $80-$90/barrel oil right now, but a definite undersupply of $40/barrel oil. That is a supply constraint.

The increase over the past 3 days is minimal, just 2 Cents.To remind you, 10 years ago the Euro started out 1:1 with the Dollar. It went down to 78 US Cents per Euro and since climbed and climbed. It DOUBLED against the Dollar. It is bizarre that oil is fluctuation that wildly if the Euro is negligible rising or falling. Today, oil went up 99 Cents while the Euro increased 0.0089.

It is bizarre that oil is fluctuation that wildly if the Euro is negligible rising or falling.

Oil is pegged against the dollar, not the Euro. Here's the article:


Crude Oil Surges to 17-Month High as Dollar Slips Against Euro

Oil climbed above $83 a barrel after the greenback fell against the common currency for the third time in four days.

Sorry, but a little bit wrong. Starting point of Euro/$ was roughly 1:1.19.

Since market is aware of the thread, that some euro member states credits may default, rising oil prices on $ basis have a diminished effect on devaluating the $ against the euro. As oil prices were on their way up to 147$ , the effect was always partly compensated for the €-zone by a devaluation of the $. But now rising oil prices trigger a rising thread of credit defaults in euroland. Therefore the exchange rate does not react in an intense way anymore. Nobody knows what kind of paper will lose its value first.

Don't be silly! The dollar hasn't been devalued.

Oil so far in this rally has not hit its intraday high reached earlier this year.

This is the Brent chart. The market has been more or less flat since last fall. If anything, the overall market seems to be without much enthusiasm. It's not much of a bull market. Check the small open interest (the red line at the bottom of the chart.)

Let's look at the big picture.

- the 2008 price spike was a disaster for both the markets and the world economies. It caused inflation in producing countries and hardship in consuming countries. While the oil spike was not the direct cause of the current recession, it certainly contributed to it.

- The price rise was caused by massive liquidity moving from money markets, stocks and real estate via hedge funds and institutional traders into 'safer' commodities such as oil.

- The volatility itself was damaging. A lot of speculators lost a lot of money when prices skyrocketed, just as a lot of user- hedgers lost a lot of money when prices crashed.

- There is less liquidity in the economy today. By this I mean both cash dollars as well as bank credit and derivatives. The stock market is still rising and liquidity is being captured within this market where it is laundered for the benefit of participants into cash. The liquidity constraints themselves would suggest another price spike in oil is not likely.

- The trend of increasing oil value was begun following the relative oil production/consumption peak in 1998. What is at issue is whether the increase in oil value is assumed to be at the expense of dollar value. I would suggest not.

- The Fed is tightening (or its liquidity provisions are being tightened for it by the real Fed in Saudi Arabia) and the ECB has been outmaneuvered by the German government with regards to any bailout of Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain or the UK. This would suggest that Germany will export its deflation to the rest of Europe ... short term. The longer term is the end of the euro, itself!

- How can the euro survive when what matters to the Eurozone is not the welfare of European commerce as a whole ... but the relative 'strength' of a pseudo- currency. The euro is not really anything more than a flabby exchange- rate mechanism. If the Eurozone cannot find the means or will to act in the face of a crisis it was intended to prevent, what is the point of the euro?

- Europe is poised at the edge of a cataclysmic deflationary depression. Germany's actions yesterday and before most certainly guarantee it.

What I have suggested elsewhere here and on my own blog is that the world's economies will stop doing regular business and start buying and selling currencies in order to obtain dollars. This is what is happening now in Europe. Germany admits by its actions that Europe as a whole has nothing to sell the rest of the world but money.

Some people will buy, but for how long?

Keep in mind that the oil/dollar trade is only a partial representative or model of the economic universe. It is a three- way relationship; between crude and dollars then between dollars and the goods and services that are made possible by the crude. What is changing is the relationship between crude and the goods and services. The dollar is simply an intermediary. Oil is clearly increasing in value. In fact, it is now greater in value than that of the goods and services created as byproducts of the oil. This is why we are having a depression!

The dollar is nothing more or less than a proxy or replacement for something else. It has been the proxy for the goods and services produced buy the US and its business relatives for decades. That is why the value of the dollar has shrunk dramatically over that period. There are more and more goods and services and there has been greater utility of those items as well as greater desire for them. The increased demand has required more currency creation, more debt and an overall expansion of both production and distribution.

This paradigm has recently changed. Dollars are not proxies for the goods anymore. Otherwise prices generally would be climbing to represent the declining value of the dollar. Instead, prices have been supported on purpose by government interventions everywhere in the world. If currency values were the proxies for goods and services, the governments would not need to do this! Prices would remain high and so would final demand as there would be lots of dollars - and other currencies - in circulation.

It is the circulation of money itself - that makes it appear plentiful and presses prices higher - reducing the value of the currency in the process.

Instead, the dollar is now in the process of becoming the proxy for oil. As the oil value increases, so will the dollar's value increase. The final value of goods and services bought with the dollar will still decline. How? Dollars will become harder and harder to come by; there will be a dollar shortage. Even when goods' prices are at rock bottom ... they will still be too high for people who have little or no funds. Goods have no value at all to those who cannot afford them.

Since this dollar shortage is what is already happening to the degree that most people are noticing, the process of dollars becoming the proxy for crude oil seems well underway.

The crude/dollar link may not be a lockstep relationship, all the time. The $200 oil that Jeff Rubin suggests is not likely, at least not over a long period. Such a move would represent a dollar devaluation. It would also mean an acute economic crisis both in the US and abroad as all of our goods would also be priced dramatically higher, including food. Since the value of our goods and services is less than the value of the oil that makes them, this price level would certainly not hold.

This is what happened in 2008, for the same reasons. We all can consider the giant price spike and crash an economic experiment with high oil prices. It was a failure, not likely to be repeated. Instead of low dollar value and high nominal prices, what is more likely is high dollar value and low prices with the dollar itself being valuable.

Short term trends in markets don't always follow fundamentals all the time, there are many other inputs which usually cancel each other out. Otherwise, market trends would take place in straight lines, which doesn't happen.

Let's check back in a month and see what is happening with crude, dollars and the euro.

- Treasury rates are rising, while the debt machine is still working. Why? Not because the debt machine is incorrect or not working properly ... or because there is too much debt being issued ... but because there are sellers looking for dollars. China, Japan and the US are all looking for cash dollars and are all selling US Treasury debt.

- The Club Med countries will be violently going broke. Germany has decided to forgo bailouts. Oh, well ... there had to be a first time! Remember Lehman Brothers? There was a massive liquidity squeeze. banks all turned to the money markets and dumped securities to raise dollars. Can it happen again? We'll watch and see.

- China is between a rock and a hard place. They need growth and can get it by spending/selling dollars for fuel which is why fuel prices are rising/holding steady. The dollars they have are relatively cheap to China as they were 'purchased' with cheap labor and coal and are interest returns on vendor loans. They will have these dollars ... until they don't any more. They won't have to spend them ALL to get nervous, they already are nervous. This is manifest by the noise between China and the US regarding exchange rates. It's not really about Chinese exports. Its US customers are broke and not buying as much China production. China has dollars and the US wants them back! Once China realizes it has a choice between not buying oil and not going broke ... see what I mean?

I like your closed little world Steve ... it really is fascinating.

Dave Murphy will be appearing on "This Week in Energy" today. He says

We'll be live at www.thisweekinenergy.tv/live and folks can subscribe to the podcast at http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/this-week-in-energy-twie-podcast/id34... or the video version at http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/twie-this-week-in-energy/id356714944

Link up top: Expect a new peak for oil next year

In the article Rubin says nothing about a new peak in oil production next year. The article is primarily about oil prices.

Whether we are talking about supply or demand, there is nothing on the horizon to prevent the imminent return of the very same oil prices that put us into the deepest postwar recession yet in the first place.

By the fourth quarter of this year, oil prices will be back in triple-digit range, and by next year oil prices will rise to record highs, taking out the high-water mark of $147 per barrel set back before the recession began in 2008.

It appears that Rubin is talking about a new peak in oil prices next year. Of course you could interpret the headline either way. There should have been a distinction made there.

Ron P.

I thought that the following post in the comment section of Rubin's column was interesting:

When will the Globe stop publishing what Rubin has to say? Does he have shares?

Of course, rising oil prices are always due to "speculation," while falling oil prices are always due to fundamental supply & demand factors.

Westexas -

As if on cue the MSNBC website story about allowing drilling along the coast has a subtitle proclaiming "Wall Street Investors Driving Up Oil Prices"

....while falling oil prices are always due to fundamental supply & demand factors. You must add: ...and unwittingly false reporting of reserves and consumption, and orchestrated false reporting to serve ones game.

In german television (CNN owned n-tv) a guy was very surprised today, that oil prices were rising. He expected the Obama decision on drilling should have the opposite effect. So nobody is able to understand what is going on with this crazy rising prices.

My personal opninion is, that this speculators are betting that the first drilled hole will be dry and priced the cost in.

I think many are seeing that as an indication of panic, and a confirmation of PO.


FYI Cliff: It will probably be at least 2 to 3 years at a minimum before the first well is drilled. So the speculators are making bet on this long term prospect and ignoring all other factors that come into play between now and then? And if the first well does make a big oil discovery it will probably be 2015 at the earliest before first production.

"President Obama is allowing oil drilling 50 miles off Virginia's shorelines."

OK...dozens of different possible reasons and 1000's of opinions. I'll start the ball rolling. Assumptions: 1) President Obama, if not completely PO aware, sees the next price spike coming during his administration. 2) President Obama is a smart guy and sees the great advantage of reminding folks (during the next gasoline price spike) that he had the foresight to sign on to the "drill here...drill now" team before it was obvious to many.

All righty...have at it. And yes...the obvious: the change can't have any possible meaningful effect on US oil/NG production for at least 10 to 15 years. If then.

If then.

As we discussed before, it's interesting to compare the onshore production from Brownsville, Texas to Pensacola, Florida, versus the offshore production, and then look at the onshore East Coast production from the southern tip of Florida to the northern tip of Maine.

South Central Onshore: OIl & Gas Production:


Southeast Onshore Oil & Gas Production:


Northeast Onshore Oil & Gas Production:


Of course, the lack of any material amount of East Coast onshore coastal production doesn't necessarily condemn the offshore areas, but it's certainly not encouraging.

From Westexas' first reference

the 6 states we are calling the south-central region of the US contains about 44% of the US's oil which has yet to be taken from the ground (9.6 billion barrels of the more than 22 billion barrels).

Though i've long known the general concept, it's really sobering to see real numbers in print. At present rates of consumption, the total US reserves amount to about 1,000 days (3 yrs). At present rates of production, perhaps 12 years. Is there a lot more out there to find not in those figures aside from oil shale?

At present rates of consumption, the total US reserves amount to about 1,000 days (3 yrs). At present rates of production, perhaps 12 years. Is there a lot more out there to find not in those figures aside from oil shale?

No, that's almost all there is. There are a few billion more barrels to find, but not tens of billions more barrels. There have been millions of wells drilled in the US, and there's not a lot of places left to look. From here, you can see the dark at the end of the tunnel where it comes to an end.

But the bigger concern is that the rest of the world is not looking very good, either. There are a few hundred billion barrels left to find, but not infinite amounts.

It appears the evolution of the North Atlantic Basin was not conducive for hydrocarbon entrapment, wheras the South Atlantic Basin was. I wonder about the Indian Ocean Basin's area that wasn't bulldozed by the northward movement of the Indian subcontinent?

"if not completely PO aware"....?????????

I think hundreds of people in his ad. are PO aware and probably scared. They are watching Greece. Watching Ireland. The states` debt problems. Unemployment. They are not idiots. Connecting the dots is pretty easy if your mind isn`t clogged with irrelevant fluff. So one way to increase the window of time before things become, well....tense....is to look for more oil and hopefully find it, taking pressure off the price, if only for a while. A while could be a year or two and buy them (relevant to other countries) some precious breathing room. The oil price is almost $84/bbl now, by the way. Good. I don`t like oil---and what it has done to the planet and to us---all that much so I am happy to see the stuff finally starting to go away. The rising prices are one sure sign of scarcity. And I do think the price will keep rising up to $100 or more now as we head into the summer season. I`m seeing tons of advertising over here in newspaper circulars, more cars, govt. paying for buildings to keep bulders employed. We are on a tear and the oil prices are going up........GOOD!!!

I don`t like oil

pi, how do you live ?

There are addicts who love their drug, and others, trying to get out, who hate their drug. And then many who will probably just say 'It's not really a drug, I'm not really addicted..'

Which view would you choose?

But are we addicted to oil like we are addicted to heroin, or are we addicted to oil like we are addicted to food? Hating oil doesn't seem helpful to me. It seems more like anorexia.

Food "Addiction" is different than the fact that we need food to live. In that sense, it would be more like hating Junk Food, which can 'help you stay alive'.. but you know that there are also far better and more durable alternatives.

We don't actually need oil to live.. except that we are in such straights now, that finding our way to a life without it will be extremely challenging. I can easily see 'hating oil' for that reason, plus the effects of it on the environment and any number of other things.

I think it's easy enough to understand what Pi might have been getting at.

Who exactly can live without oil and the capital in provides? How many? How long? I've never met anyone, even back-country in the Amazon. Why hate oil? If there'd never have been any oil then it seems to me that we would have hit peak food or wood or something else a long time ago and I bet they'd all have been angry at something too.

I understand wishing things were different. I don't understand hating a natural resource or believing in a Garden of Eden existence.

Zanzibar you apparently have not ever lived in the Amazon... When I lived in Ecuador there was a large movement to keep oil exploration out of the Amazon. The Zapara, Quichua and Shuar tribes where joining forces to keep the oil companies out of their lands. They had seen how it had made the people in the oil extraction fields sick. The animals and plants sick and scared the game animals away. The construction of roads had brought in disease, alcohol and prostitution. A formally self sufficient people who had no need for oil because they where farmers and fishermen who got everything they needed from the forest now where reduced to prostitution and manual labor for the oil companies.

I lived as a guide in Ecuador and Peru in 2004-2005. I knew some of the leaders of the Zapara tribe and they had multiple assasination attempts on them. They couldn't prove that the oil companies where behind the attacks but one of the attackers was identified as a police officer. He was never charged.

I referred to the amazon because I've never seen another place where it was so naturally easy to meet a persons basic survival needs. And yet despite that I never met a person whose life wasn't hitched to FF and their capital.

People suck. There are plenty of examples of us visiting all the same evils on indigenous populations before oil was ever an issue. Should we hate gold too? Or water? Or land itself? Since human social tragedies often revolve around these things?

Anecdotes aside it doesn't change the fact that oil leads to more people who live longer.

You have the choice of trying to see what a person is saying, or not. Read with a little more flexibility...

I suspect that Pi less hates 'Oil' as a substance, than [she?] hates the situation it has engendered, and the behaviour in us that it has enabled.


Nope. It seems more like obesity. You know, unrestricted overeating that ends with either heart attack, dying or some similar unpleasant outcome, while your doctor is telling you that eating junk food (oil), food rich in animal fats or trans-fats (natural gas) is bad for your health. But you're eating that stuff anyway, cuz you're addicted to it not unlike to heroin, stubbornly ignoring doc's recommendation to eat some veggies and fruits (renewable energy) every now and then, or you might end up with a little paper hung on your toe.
I think hating oil is very helpful here. The sooner we ditch this drug the better.
That stuff is literally killing us, if you haven't noticed yet..

I'm confused. I compared hatred of oil to anorexia. You compared over-consumption of oil with obesity. Those two comparisons seem to agree perfectly.

Oil is killing us? In what way? That doesn't make sense. Fossil fuels are the means by which we radically increased both human population and average life expectancy. These things have created their own problems to be sure, but I think most people would agree that "killing us" would entail a DECREASE in population and life expectancy.

This is why hating oil is not helpful. It gets people emotional and confused. Yes oil is the problem--PEAK oil.

Those two comparisons seem to agree perfectly.

Not really, because of the outcome of my comparison. I was trying to say that hating oil is _not_ anorexia, because oil consumption is obesity and ditching oil is just starting to eat healthy stuff regularly, not an eating disorder. I think eating disorder here is oil consumption...

Oil is killing us? In what way? That doesn't make sense. Fossil fuels are the means by which we radically increased both human population and average life expectancy. These things have created their own problems to be sure, but I think most people would agree that "killing us" would entail a DECREASE in population and life expectancy.

Maybe it increases longevity, yes, but why you people arguing by higher average life expectancy always omit the _quality_ of life in those gained years?? Is it normal to have 5 or even double digit prescription drugs on your bedside table waiting to be taken first in the morning? Is it normal to always complain about some pain, not remembering things and being a burden to your fellow citizens, because you are unable to take care of yourself while enjoying that high age gain?

Harsh words maybe, but is it really a gain to live so long and having pain, many visits to different doctors/specialists and to take more and more drugs until death us part..? And if PO hits and no medication will be available, how will so many old people live to see the next day? Is it really such a great idea to be addicted to stuff without which whole gain in average life expectancy will be just a faint memory?

"... are the means by which we radically increased both human population ..."
It should never come to that in the first place. Now finally back to why oil is killing us. Maybe you didn't notice, but more people means more problems, more consumption, bigger requirement of natural resources with which nature is unable to keep up. We are sawing off the very branch we are sitting on. Oil products - fertilizers and pesticides are washed away because of soil erosion to rivers and oceans, where they're poisoning the fish we then eat, which is killing us. Fisheries are collapsing, you know...

Bees and their infamous CCD. There are few factors, one of them with high probability overuse of oil products. Einstein probably said (I'm not sure he did, but it's still true and alarming) that if bees go, then man would only have four years of life left. Again, oil is killing us. Well, the bees, and then by proxy - us.

Sperm count. Some of the oil products mimic hormones and disrupt so many things in our bodies no wonder we are slowly becoming sterile. If the day comes when we can't reproduce anymore means "killing us" in my book.

To cut the already very long story short, oil is killing us on multiple fronts at the same time, but we rather prefer to look at a few "good things" (point of view whether they are really good things) and ignore the gazillion of bad ones, because people could get emotional and confused. So rather let them remain in loving and embracing oil (denial) and tread very softly not to kill their dreams and illusions. Bah! "You can't handle the truth, son" comes in mind... :P

That is a lovely analogy which exactly sums up what I was trying to say. Thank you very much!

You are welcome, pi. :)

The rats not only became obese, they also showed addiction-like changes in their brains -- the same changes that have been reported in humans addicted to drugs.

Specifically, the obese rats showed altered levels of a receptor in the brain called the D2 dopamine receptor. The D2 receptor responds to dopamine, the brain chemical that is released in the brain by pleasurable experiences, such as sex or drugs like cocaine.


There's really no difference among addictions. Its all about what can trigger or block the brain's D2 receptors.

Well gorging on oil has certainly caused us to have much better access to addictive foods and enabled us not to exercise to do anything about it.

See historical trends for; vehicle miles driven per individual, simple carbohydrate food consumption quantity, average individual US BMI, body fat, and overall weight, average time spent exercising....

No one should be addicted to food. You need to eat but it`s not really an addiction. No one in the medical profession would call the need to eat an addiction.

An addiction means that you want to stop....you really could stop (if you tried hard) but for other reasons you can`t (fear of losing status, competition in society, peer pressure, inertia, denial)......

I think oil is an addiction. We could do a lot better about fostering a transition but we are really scared to do that. It`s a mental thing.

Yes I live with oil (supermarket food, etc.) and plastic though luckily no cars in the family....

My dream is to be dedicated to the sun though one day. And to see more people also doing so.

OK, Rock, I'll CHOOSE DOOR NUMBER 2! Ding, Ding, Ding. I'm sure that Obama, et al are peak oil aware, or at least understand the threat (I suspect better than we think). As you infer, this decision is likely 90% political. He knows that whatever oil may be off the SE coast won't mean much, except maybe to buy us a few years. He is putting the ball squarely in the peoples' court. If the States, OilCos and Bankers can't work this out he can say he did his part. If the oil isn't worth going after, it's not his fault. So, except for the environmental factor, for him it's win/win.

I agree Ghung. An obvious choice for our president. Absolutely nothing to lose. And he can eventually even keep his environmental activists happy (if he wins a second term) by tightening up the lease restrictions If folks don't realize it just openning up new areas doesn't mean it's open season on every acre out there. Even before the first lease sale 100's of millions of $'s will have to be spent on seismic and environmental surveys. And then the Feds get to decide which specific portions to exclude. And post leasing more 10's of millions spent on specific site surveys. And the results of these surveys can cancell leases prior to drilling if the Feds deem it necessary. And when it comes down to getting drilling permits that will be 10's of millions more and at least 1 to 2 years. And the Feds can impose new restrictions at will during this process. And this assumes the companies have the interest and funds to make much of a push into all these new areas.

In the end much to do about nothing IMHO.

It is kind of funny, in a way. If you told someone in August, 2008 that the next US President would be approving drilling off the Atlantic coast, talking about "clean coal" and promoting nuclear power, which candidate would come to mind?

Both of the 2 major canidates.

I'd say it's largely to pull the wind out of the Tea Partys sails, and keep friendly with the Energy Business community.. as you say, not much to lose.

Hmm. I wonder if the implication that the Tea Party would even be using Sails is a potential insult to them?

I'd say it's largely to pull the wind out of the Tea Partys sails, and keep friendly with the Energy Business community.. as you say, not much to lose.

I don't think any of the fossil fuel companies will support him -even the ones he helps (like Illinois Coal & Iowa biofuels types). These guys are clearly in the Republican camp, they know Obama would like to tax them more...... But, at least it gives him a counterargument to the drill-drill-drill chorus. And having environmentalists getting publicly upset with him ought to help him with centrist swing voters. This was needed to defuse the anti-environmental/liberal anger that (supposedly) high oil prices can be blamed on.

I think it means that Obama thinks he will lose fewer Enviro supporters than he will gain independents and center-right voters. Most enviros will vote for a "bad" Dem over a "worse" Rep regardless.

Also, he seems to try to split every baby, so he'll toss one chip to the drill-baby-drill crowd and then find something else to toss back the other way.

Most importantly, he'll get financial support from a new block of corporations. I think there is no real down-side here for him.

For some reason associated with his apparent charisma Obama's advocates always read into him the most positive of motives. Given he's a Chicago politician, it's probably safer to assume base motives. As with all politicians.

Most enviros will vote for a "bad" Dem over a "worse" Rep regardless.

Some would rather vote for none of the above, or a third party. If all the enviros who voted for Nadar had gone for Gore, we never woulda had Bush two. There is always a risk in losing some of your base support.

I'll say its political. The guy needs to look like he is doing something, while the price skyrockets out of his control. If he just sits there while gasoline hits $4-$5-$6/gallon then his reelection is doomed.

This does nothing on the production side of things for years/decades? And even then, at what rates?

I'll go car free if everyone else does too!

Imagine if prices in the US were $6 per gallon and the infrastructure had been built to accomodate people's behavior at that price and people's dependencies on cheap road transportation had been formed with $6 gas in mind because taxes on gasoline had been paying for the transportation infrastructure for years and years instead of being subsidized out of general taxes.
Then $9 gas wouldn't be so intrusive to people's lives as $6 is now. If your needs are 2X gallons of gas per month, and the price goes from 3 to 6, then your costs go up by $6X, but if your gas needs are only X gallons per month because you have set your life up with $6 gas in mind and the price goes up from $6 to $9, then your costs for gas have only gone up by 3X.
Strategically, discouraging dependency on an unreliable resource makes far more sense than subsidizing that dependency.
However, I seem to have read that Coal to Liquids is economic at $50 per barrel. If so, then since oil has been $60-$80 even with a worst case scenario bum economy, I don't see why Coal to Liquids isn't going to take off like gangbusters and solve any supply problems at least until coal goes up. Sure there may be spikes and troughs until people realize that oil isn't going down below $60-$80 more than momentarily, and will trend upward long term. All the fluff demand is gone. The economy sucks and oil is still $60-$80+.
There is nothing that can be done about climate change even if it were 100% proven to be anthropogenic. Even if the worst case scenarios predicted by climate scientists were true and 100% believed by every human on earth, then it wouldn't matter. We would not change our behavior. Self interest dictates this.
This is true for the same reason that a theatre full of even the best most decent and reasonable people is likely to stampede the only exit if they believe a bomb is about to go off and kill everyone inside.
If $60-$80 can sustain Coal to Liquids and it's clear that $60-$80 will be sustained, then how can large scale Coal to Liquids not come online? If large scale Coal to Liquids is soon to come online, then how can near term doomer scenarios play out? It doesn't make sense.

Putting a blank line between paragraphs would make your comments much more readable. Try it, and I think you'll find more people read them and respond.

Ironically I had just hopped over that post due to a lack of paragraph structure, then read your post Leanan.

Ya know... I did use <p> tags, so if theoildrum.com wished, it could define it's css to format paragraphs with a line break between them... I tagged the paragraphs as such.

No need for tags. Just hit the enter key to start a new line.

(The paragraph tags do work...if you have the rights. But most users don't use them or even understand them, so we give them automatic line and paragraph breaks instead.)

The preview function will show you what your comment will look like before you post it. And you can edit your comment even after it's posted, as long no one has replied to it yet.

CodeMonkey76, I took a peek at your source code and it seems you added a space and a forward slash after the "br", I think that should work in XHTML, if you remove that,I think your line should break correctly as it is listed as an acceptable HTML tag for use when posting on TOD. But as Leanan said it isn't necessary because: "Lines and paragraphs break automatically."


No, he didn't. Our software "translated" what he posted. He put one hard return instead of two between paragraphs, so that resulted in the line break tag you see in the page's source code. But he did not post any line break tags.

Use the preview function! HTML may not work as you expect here.

OK! got it :-)

If large scale Coal to Liquids is soon to come online, then how can near term doomer scenarios play out?

South Africa has big CTL plants, but they produce only about 160.000 bopd.
Imagine how much that could be worldwide in 2020. Maybe a few million barrels per day if they start to build plants like crazy now. China was reconsidering their CTL plans, IIRC because of the costs and the tremendous amounts of water needed.

If you must turn coal to liquid fuel you should look at methanol which can be produced more efficiently than F+T fuels.
Methanol can be converted to gasoline by a catalyst.

F+T can directly produce a +C10 fuel that can be burnt in diesel engines.

I'll go car free if everyone else does too!

I keep seeing these posts where people state things like that, but the reality is people need to get to work, and even if people drove less it wouldn't stop the economic ravages of peak oil. Somehow people have this idea we only use oil when we fill up our cars. Remember, its used for 90% of transportation. That's trains, planes, ships, trucks, tractors, AND cars. But also its used for energy production, ashpalt, tires, plastics, and so on.

I see these posts where people say, oh I'll just bicycle to work. What work? There isn't going to be work if the economy plummets due to a big enough economic downturn resulting from a net energy reduction.

I'm walking to work now. Why wait to adapt? Yes, my job might not be there forever, but it will be one of the later ones to go, and I won't be around forever, either.

In other words, there is not going to be any work. Don't worry about people saying they are not going to use oil; they are going to use oil or if not them so many other people will use oil and other energy that it will eventually be in short supply.

On the other hand, our chances for long term survival are clearly slim unless we begin now or yesterday to fashion communities and cities that are extremely less reliant on oil and other fossil fuels. Personally, I would favor it anyway because I like the idea of resilience and I like the idea of cities where there are pockets are wide swaths where one does not hear or see the automobile. These places already exist and I have been fortunate enough to live in an area where I did not have or need a car and on a weekend I could go downtown and spend hours sitting, walking, eating, and bicycling without fear of having my day ruined by the intrusion of the auto monster.

Can we experience a significant downturn in energy use and still experience a decent quality of life, albeit, perhaps, with a reduction in income? Well, for starters, when one is not dependent upon the auto one does not need as much income. Creating a pleasant place to live and a decent community creates less need to travel to other places which also saves energy.

Continuing as we are will guarantee disaster as we will not have the infrastructure, habits, or skills, to deal with a low energy society. Changing all that will not guarantee success, but it will have certain benefits regardless, and has some chance to promoting a decent society even if it is one that has to use less energy.

Consumption has to decrease which will have economic ramifications. Less consumption will mean less growth or no growth or negative growth. If we continue with our current economic system and don't modify to deal with a no growth reality, we could end up with anarchy or some sort of tea party scenario on steroids.

I see these posts where people say, oh I'll just bicycle to work. What work? There isn't going to be work if the economy plummets due to a big enough economic downturn resulting from a net energy reduction.

I'm sure there will be plenty of work... you may not get paid a salary to do it, but I'm sure there will be work for those of us who are still around and want to live. Who knows, maybe you'll pay yourself for your own work in frog legs, fresh fruits and homemade beer.

Let's try this again. Bicycling to work will not stop the economic consequences of post peak oil. Capiche?

Bicycling to work, shop, school, church, etc. will help mitigate the economic consequences of post-Peak Oil.


What work? Is Best Buy going to be open in 2030?

If we're lucky something in the renewable energy, rail, non motorized transport, housing and building retrofit or reclamation industry. Also agriculture, gardening, water conservation, soil conservation, silviculture, or recycling and repair are based on things that still exist around us. I suppose if these hold we will also have some form of trade goods, health care and food markets left. If we can do these then we might even manage a few consumer shops and restaurants.

Doing as much good mitigation as we can now partly by freeing up resources ,not borrowing so much, not exporting wealth but generating locally means we have a chance at keeping some kind of useful work here. It's about the best we can hope for IMHO. AFBE has been advocating this stuff for years.

Bicycling to work, shop, school, church, etc. will help mitigate the economic consequences of post-Peak Oil.


You think connected complex systems reliant on copious amounts of liquid energy is going to be mitigated by mass use of a bicycle? Even if the fantasy of getting people to live in areas in which they could do everything by cycling came into fruition, which would probably take at minimum several decades, the use of oil would still be depleting from usage in other forms of transportation and products usage.

Your fantasy is deliriously absent of realism. But good luck with it.

Peakearl, you seem to be a bit snarky today to Alan.
Alan is correct, most people TODAY (US and most of world) could commute by bicycle if they had the economic incentive (raise taxes on fuel for personal use to price fuel at say $10/gal woulld be a great incentive plus the money raised would slash govt deficits, the drop in fuel used would reduce import bills).
Most roads TODAY could handle a huge increase in bicycle numbers IF bikes were given preference over cars (speed limits based on bike speeds in residential areas, most lanes for bikes only, many retail areas as pedestrian/bike zones with delivery vans only 11pm-5am).
The options are many, the costs low, timeframe to adapt only months, or do you think these options are delirious?
( BTW I commute 50 miles/day by walking 8 miles and public transport the rest, if dedicated bike lanes could get me to work I would take my bike to work; I save over $5000/ year by not having a car, the money saved/ not wasted still stimulates the economy as I invest it in renewables).
It's LAZYNESS that makes lardarses use cars in most situations.

I'm 50, work is eight miles away, and the roads are hilly, trafficky, and horrendous.

Six months of out the year there is snow and ice everywhere.

There is not a bus, train, or trolley within twenty miles of here

But "lardarse?" I hand-shovel manure into the spreader each spring and hand-dig many of my own garden beds.

But never mind: I anoint thee Paragon of Virtue.

I'm 50, work is eight miles away, and the roads are hilly, trafficky, and horrendous.

Six months of out the year there is snow and ice everywhere.

Near-ideal mountain-biking conditions. Double the length, add a few fallen trees across the trails, have the odd cliff to do a jump off, and the bikers around here would think it was perfect.

You think connected complex systems reliant on copious amounts of liquid energy is going to be mitigated by mass use of a bicycle?

It will certainly help mitigate the effects.

Personal cars are half or more of US oil consumption. As the Housing + Transportation link on this thread shows, H + T will consume most of the income for many Americans post-Peak Oil. Money spent on transportation is money not available for other spending or investing.

Shifting, say, 2 million b/day in the USA alone to bicycling will free up large sums of cash for those Americans that now drive but switch (money to be used elsewhere and helping mitigate the economic impact) AND 2 million b/day drop ion demand would even affect the world price of oil with further economic mitigation.

Mitigation need not be 100%.

Best Hopes for Efficient Non-Oil Transportation,


I'll take Door Number 3.

I think it's giving him political cover down the road. This looks like the same gambit as trying to get bipartisan support on the health care bills. Work hard at it, do what you can, and in the end if it doesn't work, the public can see that you went through the process that you had promised to do, and that the failure can be laid at someone else's feet.

The cover on the energy issue is that if there is NO effort made to "drill here, drill now", the Tea Party crowd will be able to crow that the Democrats blocked energy solutions and independence. This moves heads that off and should provide proof that it wouldn't solve anything, at least to those who will listen to proof.

Hope the Atlantic beaches survive it.

the same could be said about him declaring new sanctions against Iran in weeks not months

Door Number Three, eh?.... OK, Bob, tell us what Waterplanner has won!



I think political cover is part of it, but more to have a record to point at when the energy supply hits the demand fan before the next presidential election. When things start to get tight, I expect to hear him say something on the lines of:

'On the domestic supply side, government has done it's part. [Thump podium for emphasis] We've raised CAFE standards - and the automobile fleet being produced today is far more efficient than it's ever been.

'Energy producers are also doing their part - new wells being drilled, for both oil and gas, both onshore and in the offshore areas we've released for exploration.

'But that's not enough. Now its time for the American people to step up to do their part to get through this crisis...'

You're right. It's a smart move.

Although I don't care much for national politics anymore, I'm interested to see what plays out in 2010. Do Democrats receive support for passing a healthcare bill - something is better than nothing? Or does the wingnut Republican base throw them out?

Personally, I'm in favor of Republicans winning, and in 2012 as well. Then, they get to own the inevitable decline that will happen once we finally enter the downslope, and some Democrat or another can come back and say we need to massively ramp up alternatives, electric transport, energy efficiency etc. So it could be a defining issue for Democrats in the future, but it just can't be at this time because not enough people believe it. BAU and drill baby drill rule the day.

You better pray the GOP loses.
The USA will become a Christian-fascist military dictatorship and you can bet on WWIII.
Look at Bush-Cheney's grab for Iraq.

The comment below on on shore production/off shore production seems fair. Does anyone have industry data on what they expect off the coast of Virginia? The onshore fields must be Pennsylvania?

Interesting that we are now testing an $84 price level.


Wrong choices.

This is part of a compromise deal being worked out with blue dogs / moderate GOP (does such a beast exist ?) for votes on the coming climate bill. The bill will be introduced within the week. The other part is a push for nuclear - remember the $8B loan gaurantees for the nuke pigs ?

What are the chances they will take these compromises as cave-ins and won't vote for the bill ?

If so, announcing a policy as a done deal seems like an odd way to negotiate. Now there is no incentive on the part of the repubs,etc, to negotiate. Besides, they will never let him get a climate bill regardless, so a dumb strategy all around.

Well, if you include Graham Dems have 60 votes in the Senate. So they can get the bill passed.


They need to make sure all blue dogs & coastal senators vote for it.

In general I agree, Obama's negotiation skills are not aggressive (or may be even effective) enough.

More #2 than #1: Obama wants a demonstrable record of doing something about gas prices in place prior to this fall's election. It smacks of the classic Clintonian loser move of "insulating yourself from attacks from the right" by pre-emptively doing what Republicans would do, whether it makes any sense or not. So you can say "see - I didn't let myself get sidetracked by those silly left-wing enviromentalists - the people need their oil - let's spend more on Afghanistan" and so on.

Or if not imitating the GOP exactly, do some clever revisioning of a GOP frame. Not the fundamental reversal that our situation calls for.

How much oil is offshore of VA, and how long will it take to bring it to market? It has to be longer than a couple of years. It will have little effect on prices during any election Obama has a stake in, right?

Watch the environmentalist response here...should be fascinating as litmus test of how many "get it".

I get it. Knick Knack Patty Whack, give yer dawg a bone. Notice he ain't gonna give them my coast?

Rockman et al. -

From a geological perspective what are the prospects for significant finds along the east coast (offshore) ?

Should this be interpreted as "desperate times call for desperate measures" or are there specific characteristics of the geology offshore that would make it possible that large reservoirs exist ?

I'm curious because I thought that some exploration had occurred along the coast in the past but the results weren't too promising.



p.s. I think this a good move by Obama - once fully explored and the results come in that any oil found is inconsequential in the big picture (assuming several super giant fields aren't discovered) it may be possible to pry the steering wheel away from the drill baby drill crew and actually try to institute a more aggressive move away from oil (not that we have 10 or 15 years leeway but with every disappointing result it should be incrementally easier to pursue alternatives).

Cat -- As THE oil exploration expert at TOD the answer is simple: the potential ranges from very poor to quit good. Actually I think westexas is a tad more pessimistic then I. Previous driling efforts along the offshore US east coast were unimpressive. But, then again, the first significant North Sea discovery was made by the 93 well drilled out there. In south La. I can drill a dry hole in an area where I have 50 other wells drilled within a 3 mile circle. So how much will you beleive when someone talks about potential in a few million acres where only 5 or 10 wells have been drilled. Lack of production along the onshore east coast doesn't look good. OTOH, billions of bbls of oil have been discoverd in Deep Water Brazil that aren't related to their onshore coastal trends.

Regardless of how much may or may not be out there the real issue IMHO is the time lag factor. It will likely take a good 10 years before we come close to answering your question. And a lot longer before any significant production can reach the bank...if it actually exists.

Thanks for your reply Rockman - you have certainly maintained your position as THE exploration expert :)

Do you know of any good references explaining the geology that might make certain areas of the coast favorable / unfavorable vs. other areas or is the geology generally uniform up and down the coast ?

You did answer part of my question - it's not as easy as just waiving it off as if to say "you're not going to find anything out there..."

Of course the time horizon is THE main issue for those of us on TOD but I'm convinced most others have no idea that finding oil beneath the ocean doesn't instantly translate into gas pouring out of the pump - it's simply not a consideration in our short attention span and impatient world...

Now the question becomes - do you think companies are going to jump right on this to get the exploration started or will there be a significant time lag in that as well ?

Here you go Cat et al:


Besides being a pretty good primer for MMS ops in general it offers some insight to the east coast with numerous additional references.

Cat -- Forgot your last question: how quickly will "they" jump?

Here's a hint as to the timing issue: "Spectrum was the first company to actively collect multi-client seismic data since the leasing and drilling moratorium went into effect in the mid-1980s. It is currently reprocessing and studying existing seismic data from the U.S East Coast. In 2006, the company submitted permit applications to the Minerals Management Service (MMS) to conduct seismic, gravity and magnetic surveys off the US East Coast. The new survey would extend Spectrum's U.S multi-client library, which has been growing since the company began acquisition offshore Florida in 2003. This modern seismic now covers much of the "un-leased" area of Eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Upon receiving permit approvals, Spectrum plans to actively pursue a comprehensive program to acquire seismic and other geophysical data over the U.S Atlantic offshore continental shelf and deepwater areas focusing its activities with the knowledge gained from the reprocessed data."

And this is just the preliminary step before beginning the serious desk top exploration phase. After a year or more likely two of that process then individual lease blocks have to be nominated for a specific sale. The leasability of those blocks has to be investigated...another year or two. Then you have the lease sale itself. The high bidders might want additional seismic surveys: add another year or two. And then when the companies decide to drill on a specific spot it can take a year or more to get the drilling permit approved. Just because a company might have paid the Feds $10 million for the lease and then maybe another $10 million on seismic and overhead they still don't have the right to drill. They have to conduct environmental, archeological and sea floor audits to get a permit. And permits can be denied for any number of reasons. Once the permit is in hand then drilling rigs have to be mobilized to the east coast. This scheduling could run anywhere from a few months to over a year.

And all this time is spent getting the first few wells drilled. It might take 4 or 5 years of such activities before a commercial field is discovered. Then, depending on size of the field and water depth, it might take 1 to 2 years before a drilling platform is built (probably in Texas or La.) and set. And then add 1 to 3 years to drill any development wells. And if all they find is NG it better be a big field: a pipeline could cost several billion $'s and take 5 years to lay.

I think you get the idea: if there are commercial fields to be found off the east coast it will be a minimum of 10 to 15 years before any significant volume of hydrocarbons can entire the market IMHO.

Thanks for that great outline of the process ROCKMAN. Indeed, the timing issue looks grim if we're looking for a quick "fix" to our little predicament.

It's these "minor" details that the public has NO IDEA about - just how difficult it is to ultimately get that oil out of the ground. These facts will certainly be added to my arsenal when responding to people whining about how "expensive" gas is...

if there are commercial fields to be found off the east coast it will be a minimum of 10 to 15 years before any significant volume of hydrocarbons can entire the market IMHO.

So those that are howling that we shouldn't open these up yat, but instead wait until peak oil has hit bigtime (i.e. satisfy as much of our needs with "cheap" imports, then only drill after TSHTF are wrong. By the time any of this oil is flowing TSHTF will be old news.

This thread shows the change in The Rock's appearance, after he switched from development work, to real Oil Patch work, exploration:


It's really amazing the difference a good shave can make...


I'd also like to ask Rockman etc. if there's any significance / relevance of the oil and gas production now happening off the east coast of Canada, eg. Hibernia etc.?

There are about 2 billion barrels of oil reserves off the East Coast of Canada. Hibernia production peaked about 2003, Total Canadian East Coast production peaked about 2007 after Terra Nova and White Rose came on production. There will be a secondary peak around 2018 when Hebron comes on production. After that, it's all downhill. These fields were found decades ago and there are not many places left to look for oil offshore Eastern Canada. All the good prospects have been drilled.

There's lots of natural gas off Canada's East Coast, but it will have to wait until all the US shale gas clears the markets, because it needs higher prices to be commercial.

While it could take a decade or more to see any significant production, the new areas of exploration are estimated to hold as many as 63-billion barrels of recoverable oil and as much as 294-trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

As part of the plan, the United States will conduct its first offshore oil and gas lease sale in the Atlantic Ocean in 20 years for parcels off the shoreline of Virginia, an area that holds an estimated 130-million barrels of oil and 1.14-trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The estimated 2010 US oil consumption is 19.5 million bbl/day. Hence, it makes no economic sense to recover 6-7 days of US consumption from the Virginia parcel.

Why no sense gassey? Can you imagine what life would be like if we eliminated all oil and NG usage for 6 -7 days> And then add the value of the new jobs and incomes from the effort. I'm not sure you 63 billiob bo and 294 tcf are good numbers but if by some miracles they are then the Fed royalty on the oil alone would be $800 billion...just about enough to pay for the new health care mandate. And that would also represent a decrease in trade imbalance by $800 billion. No economic sense??????

Has anyone else noticed that the API has really ramped up their advertising lately? There seems to be a big push, both in the public eye and behind the scenes. Given today's news, it apparently is paying off.

In my mind, this is just one more piece of indirect evidence of PO in lieu of direct MSM reporting. This year, there are more and more of those pieces fitting into the PO puzzle.


I think it is worth pointing out that the Obama administration's proposal only opens drilling off the shores of red states -- those with a strong Republican base. I would assume that your 1) and 2) are both at least partly correct. But what about 3) President Obama is a smart political strategist and wants to pit corporate interests that claim to have conservative values against politicians in red states that also make the same claim. If the state politicians like this proposal Obama could potentially generate some good will among Republicans. If they don't like it because of local opposition then Obama will have pitted two of his foes against eachother.

I don't think anyone should underestimate the politically savvy of an African American junior senator who managed to get elected to the presidency.

-- Jon

I agree Jon. Anyone who thinks they can out-politic president Obama is foolish IMHO. How it plays out state by state will be interesting. As noted above it's interesting that CA was not included. I suspect that state would go for leasing if the Feds upped their share of royalty. It might not sell to well there today but after massive layoffs of state workers and severe contraction of services that worm might turn.

In the end self interest will rule the day IMHO. I always fined it amusing how CA gets all upset about drilling offshore but don't seem to mind at all that the Cortez estuary has been completely destroyed by removing the flow from the Colorado River. I suppose only CA environments are worth protecting and not Mexican areas.

nteresting that CA was not included. I suspect that state would go for leasing if the Feds upped their share of royalty. It might not sell to well there today but after massive layoffs of state workers and severe contraction of services that worm might turn.

I kinda doubt that worm is gonna turn. Part of the problem is royalties; California collects a massive royalty rate of exactly 0%, so the voters see no incentive (and that whole prop-13 2/3rds majority stuff means it is virtually impossible to change that). Drilling is an emotional thing (picture of dieing oilsoaked sea otter), and is not susceptible to rational numerate calculation of self interest.

Interesting analysis of the politics of the off shore drilling decision.


Edited to remove excessive quoting. Please post only a brief excerpt, or summarize in your own words.

Or it might be, if we are ever going to use this oil, we need to start now. We need to have infrastructure (like refineries, and staff for the refineries) in place to make use of the oil. We don't have the option of waiting 10 or 20 years to start the long process.

I am not convinced, though, that much will really get drilled. It will depend on price, and what people can afford, and capital availability. An article a while back by Chevron North America President Gary Luquette quoted a possibility of 1 million barrels a day, or 20% of current production:

Some people point to renewables and alternatives as a silver bullet to solve the demand challenge. But as the President pointed out in his White House briefing remarks this week, the sheer scale of our energy needs requires that we focus on a comprehensive approach. The fact is, we need more of all forms of energy, including oil and natural gas--which, most projections see as providing the dominant share of the energy mix for decades.

The good news: the OCS has significant potential. Over time, it could add 1 million more barrels of oil and natural gas equivalent a day--potentially representing a fifth of the current total U.S. oil production. Advances in technology could increase that amount dramatically.

If we could bring that domestic oil to market right now, all the idiots in Suburbans and Tahoes and Durangos would burn/waste it idling around taking junior to and from elementary school and doing endless Nascar loops.

In 15 years when we have that domestic production (maybe) at least all the SUV's will be rusting and gas will be $10/gallon and the oil will be used a little more wisely...

change can't have any possible meaningful effect on US oil/NG production for at least 10 to 15 years.

Maybe not Rockman, but Obama's decision to drill offshore is a great one because it placates the drill baby drill crowd; it makes an effort to get as much oil as possible from our neck of the woods; and it shows he's peak oil aware. He's got to be peak oil aware - otherwise why would someone so interested in renewables and someone that agrees with Gore on climate change possibly agree to offshore drilling, if he was not? But being peak oil aware and being able to do something substantial about it are two different things. We shall see...

I agree Earl. The president and I might not agree on too many social issues but he's probably one of the slickest politicians I've ver seen. Even makes ole Bill C look like a novice.

I agree Earl. The president and I might not agree on too many social issues but he's probably one of the slickest politicians I've ver seen. Even makes ole Bill C look like a novice.

I've heard some anecdotal evidence supporting this:

Speeding 'cushion' may dwindle due to recession

The recession may be claiming a new victim: the 5-10-mph "cushion" police and state troopers across the USA have routinely given motorists exceeding the speed limit.

As cities and states scramble to fill budget gaps with revenue from traffic citations, "not only are the (speeding) tolerances much lower, but the frequency of a warning instead of a ticket is way down," says James Baxter, president of the National Motorists Association, a Wisconsin-based drivers' rights group that helps its members fight speeding tickets.

The statistics (I think) in both the US and UK show a sharp drop in fatal road accidents in the last two years. This is strongly correlated to the recession and is put down to drivers driving more slowly and carefully, presumably to save cash.

Traffic jams are also sharply down, due to less traffic on the roads in the UK, so maybe road rage triggered accidents are down as well.

Perhaps the high petrol prices and economic down turn have disproportionately affected the demographic most likely to have accidents - the young (under 25) males who drive high performance cars.

Talking of price - I hit a new 'first' on my petrol bill this morning. When using a credit card to pay at the pump there was always an abitrary ceiling price credit of '59 pounds' that appeared on the screen before filling. I have always ignored it, as the tank was always full before I hit that price. Today I hit the price threshold first, before I filled the tank. It must have been that extra penny of tax in the latest government budget. By my reckoning today's UK prices are:
£1.18 ($1.78) per litre
£5.36 ($8.09) per UK gallon
£4.47 ($6.75) per US gallon.

I'll have to get a new credit card!

trash -- do I understand correctly: if your purchase exceeds a certain volume/total price you get hit with a higher fuel tax?

I think trash is referring to a cap on credit purchase. We have that here as well, and recently in Dallas, I have seen the cap at $100 per fillup.

Once again I`m delighted not to have a car. As things start to get more difficult, the people with oil don`t want to trade it away so fast for paper........They don`t refuse yet but they want to be careful.

No - this is simply a fixed 'limit' on the amount (in terms of cost) of fuel you can buy in one go. Once you hit that limit the pump cuts out automatically. I had always managed to fill the car tank before reaching the credit limit - until today - and I have not changed the car, so there is only one other reason. I don't know if the limit on a single transaction is put in place by my credit card or by the petrol station.

We do have a scalable annual taxation on new cars based on the the amount of CO2 pumped out by the engine. The current annual tax ranges between nothing for the super efficient or electric cars up to £950 tax per year for the big gas-guzzlers.

When you stick the card in the pump a certain amount is reserved from your account to make sure that you can pay the bill after filling. Once filling is complete the actual amount is taken from your account and the reserve "pending" transaction is cancelled.

If you are near your credit limit the "pending transaction" can take you unexpectedly over the limit as the amount is reserved immediately but usually takes a few days to be unreserved strangely enough.

It's a fixed dollar limit to keep losses down for the credit card company in the event of a stolen card being used. Around here it is $75 and you can swipe a second time if needed.

Thanks trash and zap. But now that I think of it I wonder if such an escalating fuel tax would have any benefit. Folks with low mpg big SUV's could always fuel more often but then have to accept the inconvenience. Folks with small economical cars wouldn't get hit.

The again it would probably require massive redesign of the pumps. Even if it can be done with reprograming it would still be a big job. Naa...probably not practical.

They do it with utilities, billing more for higher use. Even city water can be rigged that way by a simple adjustment to the program computing the billing. All of your fueling stations use computerized pumps; that is how they can change prices every day so rapidly. Having a sliding scale would not be difficult.

IMO, what would happen is everyone would fuel up two, three times a day, small amounts at a time. Even if the tank is near empty, on a trip, they would go to four or five stations to beat the tax. So, it would not help at all. In fact, with all the driving around added, it would do more harm.


Maybe the next desperate step is to catch people who aren`t speeding at all and accuse them of speeding.....What can they do? The powerful are powerful.

Because this problem with finances is only just beginning. This is just the start, just half of one percent of the way there.....

Interesting thought, pi. I wonder in the future, if they resort to this tactic, which I have no doubt they are capable of, they might target luxury cars, knowing that these people have money and will pay without much of a hassle up front.

The ongoing financial collapse changes the dynamic a bit. Instead of going after the poor, who might cause a scene and would not end up paying anyway, go after the rich, who would rather pay than mess with a cop or be stuck in a courtroom with the underclass.

Maybe the next desperate step is to catch people who aren`t speeding at all and accuse them of speeding.....

Not too worried about people getting ticketed due to corruption (yet?).

Catching speeders still requires resources to chase them down.

Here in the Los Angeles area, the way to generate revenue is via automated cameras at intersections. Look at the prices for 'running a red light' or making a right turn without coming to a full stop. Many times higher than speeding +10mph on a highway.

Happened to my wife last year (right turn without full stop, busted via automated cameras at the intersection): US$400.

(To be fair, she really did the naughty.)

Just got busted by a camera last month for speeding.

It's a great revenue generator. With the cameras, the ticket doesn't add points to your record and your insurance doesn't go up because they can't prove who was driving. Without those two penalties, it's pretty simple decision to just write a check and avoid the hassle of going to court.

waterplanner, you are lucky that you are not in Australia. Here you must nominate a drver when you get the fine, if you nominate somebody else they must either pay the fine or defend it in court and even if they are found not guilty they still lose the points.
Some of the cameras earn over a million dollars/year. The fines can be several thousand dollars a time and I have been in court and saw cases such as a woman who didn't know about a particular camera and copped multiple fines/day for weeks (the fines come 4-6 weeks after the offence).
You almost never get off in court. I only recently found out that my father was directed by the judge to pay the court for a fine that was in my name even after it was proven to the courts satisfaction that I was living on another continent at the time of the offence.

Maybe the next desperate step is to catch people who aren`t speeding at all and accuse them of speeding...

Maybe they'd do that in Japan, as people are pretty law abiding, and quotas gotta be met and all. But over here in Cali, why should they bother, 90% are speeding and they have their choice of who to pick on as they can only pull over a few.

Won't be much of a change in Texas. I've probably logged over half a million miles on Texas highways running to drill sites and typically you get about a 3 mpg margin. At 5 mph+ you're getting a fair chance of getting ticketed by a local and a warning by a state trooper. At 10 mph+ you're almost certain to get it. Not sure if it's as common in other states but our state troopers commonly uses "doubles" (see a tropper writing a ticket and you put the peddle to the metal...and then get caught by the next trooper a mile down the road. Folks got use to doubles years ago so they boys went to triples. And a few years ago I witness a quadruple...last guy was a county boy.

And Houston has been dishing out tickets like they were peanuts for decades. And they don't have to tighten up the standards here at all: there has always been an unlimited number of drivers doing 10+ mph for the 30 years I've been here. HPD can write as many tickets as they want to put units on the highway.

IME, the reaction is the opposite around here. See a cop, and everyone slows down, no matter what he or she is doing.

I would guess that "penalty fees" of various sorts are going to grow more onerous, as local governments try to balance their budgets. Traffic tickets of various sorts, late fees, permit problems, smoking in nonsmoking areas, etc. You can avoid them by complying with the law, so it's an easier way to raise money than raising taxes or user fees.

Q. What is the best safety gadget you can have in your car ?

Ans. A cop in your rearview mirror ;-)

I prefer getting behind one. They always speed like crazy themselves.

That won't necessarily save you. We got pulled over last week in Death Valley for this (in a government van full of scientists no less). The Napoleon-complexed Inyo County cop basically told us "I can do that, but you can't."

Yeah, it's best not to follow a police car too close. The best solution is to tuck in behind a Porsche and follow him from about 1/2 mile back. He gets the tickets, and you get the joy of seeing a Porsche driver taken down a notch.

Don't speed up too soon after you leave the Porsche ticketing zone, because the police do tend to do these things in twos and threes. Just relax and enjoy the scenery until another Porsche passes you.

Or just relax and enjoy the scenery.

Nothing better than the shaudenfruede of seeing somebody who blew past you in a huff 5 minutes ago by the side of the road with a cop while you continue on right about the limit, totally unworried about double or triple speed traps.

Nothing better than the shaudenfruede of seeing somebody who blew past you in a huff 5 minutes ago by the side of the road with a cop while you continue on right about the limit

You know, I've often had that experience. I don't really pay a lot of attention to the speed limit (other than as a helpful suggestion about how fast I should go), but I've noticed that people who pass me often get speeding tickets, whereas no policeman has seen any reason to give me one.

I seldom travel under the speed limit, but I seldom exceed it by much either. I learned this from my father, who I don't believe ever got a speeding ticket, either. A lot of people who got a lot of speeding tickets had a great deal of trouble maintaining his pace on the highway. They found this a disconcerting experience.

My father once took a driving test in a car that didn't have any brakes. At one point he thought he was in trouble because the car was going down a very steep hill toward a stop sign, and of course he didn't have any brakes. However, at that point the examiner said, "What would you do if you lost the brakes on this hill?" and he said, "I'll show you!"

watch the trucks.

watch the trucks.

The police don't really like to give speeding tickets to truck drivers because a lot of them know more about traffic law than most lawyers. If provoked they will cite case law that most policemen and lawyers have never heard about. The judges, however, will know all about it.

It's not that hard to beat traffic tickets because, realistically, the police don't have a lot of time to waste on them. A good policeman would much rather investigate a really juicy murder instead.

that would depend on the state, county or city. furthermore, is a driver going to be back in the location where the ticket was issued when it comes time to show up in court? not necessarily.

traffic tickets are not easy to beat. especially for a working man who will have to take time off work to show up. in other words, the driver "don't have a lot of time to waste on them" (or money to spend on a good lawyer). if the driver was speeding, he or she will likely just pay the ticker. i think you overestimate the knowledge of truckers on traffic laws.

truckers(professionals) are generally better drivers and may have superior knowledge of the laws than that of the happy motoring public, but superior to the police ??? not always and not likely. i doubt many policemen will be intimidated by a driver's knowledge of traffic laws.

drivers have more to loose, such as their licence and job, and may fight harder but are also more likely to slow down when a "bear" is spotted "taking pictures".

drivers almost always have their cb on, the cb will light up when a bear, county mounty or local yockel is spotted "taking pictures".

your assertion that police don't really like to give speeding tickets to truck drivers is pure hockum, imo.

i could go on.......

I routinely drive 82 in a 75, 79 in a 70, and 75 in a 65 on rural highways and interstates. The only 2 tickets I have gotten were for 75 in a 55 section of in-town interstate, and for 50 or so in a 45 section of small-town 2-lane. City cops are WAY more likely to write you up than state troopers, it seems. There have been many times where I've been on cruise when I passed a hidden cop, at 78 or 79 in a 70, and they've never responded, though I try to drop down a few if I see them in town.

I see sports cars and luxury cars pulled over far more often than cheap econoboxes. Maybe cops give me a break because I'm "mature" of age and cheap?

Note that I would tolerate a $200 ticket once per year with impunity -- it's just not worth it to slow down. If my insurance or license were in danger I would, but where I drive it's just not the case. And note that at 80 my car still gets better mileage than most, so I don't feel too guilty about passing the guy in his 2500 pickup.

I figure drivers are like gazelle and cops are like cheetahs -- they're going to get somebody, but as soon as they do the rest of the herd is going back to grazing. As long as there are many gazelle and few cheetahs, there is little reason to change behavior.

I see sports cars and luxury cars pulled over far more often than cheap econoboxes. Maybe cops give me a break because I'm "mature" of age and cheap?

A friend of mine in University did something of a controlled experiment on this subject. He had been driving a Sunbeam Tiger, a small British sports car with a Ford V8 engine, and was always getting speeding tickets. However, he got tired of it and traded it in on an American Motors Rambler.

The Rambler actually had about twice as many horsepower as the Tiger. It had a high-compression V8 engine with 3/4 racing camshaft, four-barrel carburettor, four-speed transmission, and heavy-duty suspension. Since my buddy was a mechanic on a race car team, he bored and stroked the engine, enlarged and polished the ports, and did numerous other modifications. He enjoyed sneaking up on Chrysler Hemis and Ford Cobras, and leaving them standing at the lights in a cloud of rubber smoke.

However, it still looked like an econobox, so he never got another speeding ticket.

Ain't that the hell of a 'Sin Tax'? You need to know that the sin is going to remain in place if you want to count on that revenue.

For the next few moments (in 'republic time'), folks will still be racing up and down those highways.. but it might start getting skinny again sometime soon.

(Obama on C-span just said 'We have 2% and use %20 of the worlds oil supplies, and have to move beyond these fuels..' .. pretty balanced speech, seems to me. Compromise always seems like betrayal to both extremes, eh?)

And Obama chose to give the speech surrounded by military hardware...

Ex President of Shell, John Hoffmeister, just accused Obama on Bloomberg tv of deceiving the public by using "Proven" reserve figures for the USA instead of more accurately using "Probable" and "Possible". He claimed the USA has trillions of barrels of recoverable oil and shouldn't be wasting time with renewables.

I'm assuming you saw it then, and know that the F-18 behind him was there to be touted for it's '50/50 FlexFuel Flight' in the coming days.. nicknamed the 'Green Hornet' (X should be pleased!)

Not bad rhetoric when you can get in points with the Military and the Environmentalists in the SAME announcement. (SOME environmentalists..)

Then, If he's also got Shell fumbling for talking points over 'Possible, Probable and Proven' reserves (Weasel Words!), who do you think scores that round in public perception? BO's making Hoffmiester sputter like a Peak Oiler, all the proof and no Savoir Faire to land that touchdown pass!

Wait a minute Undertow.. where did you get that last part?

EDIT: Sorry re-read your post.. I got your reference to Obama and Hoffmeister mixed..

[ I didn't hear him say 'not to bother with Renewables', OR the 'TRILLIONS' part. You sure that wasn't Hoffmeister's spin?

He very clearly said that we don't have but 2% of the worlds oil reserves at this point while consuming more than 20%, and shouldn't kid ourselves that we can live off of Oil anymore.. that we very definitely need Solar, Wind and Wave sources to be built up, but that we must also be reasonable and be getting access to the reserves we do have offshore.]

Yes, as you've spotted the nonsense was spouted by Hoffmeister. Yes I saw Obama talk about the military biofuel test flights. But I also noted he stressed several times just how vitally important the US military was in the field of US energy security...

(That's just his way of admitting that Iraq was really about oil, wink, wink!)

He claimed the USA has trillions of barrels of recoverable oil and shouldn't be wasting time with renewables.

Trillions of barrels? He actually said trillion? Hell, Saudi Arabia only claims 264 billion barrels all OPEC nations combined claim just over one trillion. If the US has trillions we can become the world's largest exporter of oil.

Drill baby drill.

Ron P.

Yep he said trillion(s). Quite astonishing. And the only reason US proven reserves are so low he claimed is because oil companies have been banned from looking for what is there. Thus Obama is intentionally deceiving the American people.

It was strange. He suddenly blurted out in the interview that Obama wasn't telling the truth about reserves and the Bloomberg host cut into him wondering what he was about to say. I think she thought he might be about to blurt out that world reserves were over-stated but no - exactly the opposite. Infinite oil everywhere it seems if only the oil companies were allowed to get it.

tow -- Damn...I feel like I've just been transported to a parallel universe: President Obama is now the oil patch's new best friend. What pops up over the Twilight Zone horizon next: the Sara Palin Abortion Clinic?

You're not that far off, actually.. if aborting baby Wolves counts.



The Sarah Palin show will be "about Alaska seen through Palin's eyes and shot in the style of Discovery's Planet Earth," according to an official release.

...The "lower 48" TV viewer will get a view of grassroots Alaska, hopefully not just grass sticking up between parking lots outside fast food franchises in Wasilla, Alaska. Here is daring the Discovery TLC channel to include films of the latest inept aerial wolf kill by Alaska Fish and Game.

It's like a grand Tea-Party Kiss Off this week!

In a similar, though much slimmer, vein, what do folks make of the graph in The Economist (chart 6 at http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displayStory.cfm?story_id=15793084) where the EIA predicts that oil production in the US will keep increasing or stay flat for the next 15 years?

The EIA actually goes far further out than 15 years. They now actually predict that US Lower 48 oil production will continue to increase right through to at least 2035 as they have recently expanded their mystical abilities to look into the future.

What I make of it is that they put out whatever crap they are told to.

The US reached a peak in crude oil production in 1970, It has fallen in half since that time. Where was this guy in the last 40 years? If he was right, why were Chevron's and Exxon's production relatively flat for over the last 10 years? It's a full moon, so maybe the nuts are out there blaming Obama for the fall in US oil production over the last 40 years?

Maybe he will explain all in his upcoming book.


His contentions may be outrageous (there is no shortage of energy; global warming is not the issue; government's handling of energy is dysfunctional), but the solution he lays out is a pragmatic plan to transition away from fossil fuels toward an affordable, sustainable energy future.

Interesting he seems a bit more keen on renewables here than he did on Bloomberg. Still he states that the US should be able to bring production of domestic oil up to 10 mb/day within a decade (with unlimited drilling and some help from unconventional oil).


John Hofmeister, former president of Shell Oil Co., wants to be the voice for grassroots Americans in the future of affordable energy

So the former president of Shell wants to be the voice for grassroots Americans!

Houston radio this morning cited that some traffic light yellows are being shortened to increase fines. Add this to traffic cameras and taxes shortfalls are not a problem....

Huh. I wonder if that's been happening here in San Francisco. I usually don't try to squeeze through but I thought it was just me that lately there seemed to be less time until the red appeared.

I thought it was just me that lately there seemed to be less time until the red appeared.

I remember, many, many years ago, being in Vancouver, BC and thinking, "these lights are awfully quick! - I don't see how you could stop in time."

Well, a few months later someone got severely irked at the police, and went out and timed the light he was accused of running with a stopwatch, through 1000 cycles.

The yellow was very short but, 3 times out of 1000, the light went straight from green to red without going yellow at all. And, just like that, he had made his case.

He presented his evidence to the judge, the judge threw the case out of court, and all the subsequent red-light cases as well. He ruled it was impossible to obey the law, and therefore the law was invalid.

After that, the city had to send experts out to re-time all their stoplights, and sit there with a stopwatch timing every light through 1000 cycles to PROVE it was physically possible to stop, before the courts would accept a charge of running that particular red light.

It was a very expensive lesson for the city.

The only problem is that police staffing is being cut so how are they going to be able to keep up with a bunch of speeders and handing out tickets while still attending to all the other nonsense going on - my town and village police force were just recently consolidated to save $$

I've been saying this for years - if the towns really wanted to raise some funds then nail the speeders - if you drive 10 over here you have someone tailgating you within about a minute. Typically at least 15 over the posted limit is status quo around my area (especially in zones posted between 30 and 50 mph)

In the next town over from where I live they've set up camera enforcement at stop lights. You are allowed to turn right on red almost anywhere in Florida but you do need to stop first, most people slow way down and just coast through if no cars are coming. Well if you do that the camera flashes and you get a ticket mailed to your home...no cops needed, instant revenue stream!

Here in East Texas you can routinely see people running 80mph on the interstate and the four lane secondary roads. If I drive from here to Dallas (90 miles) I can guarantee you at least one car will come by my at over 100 mph. You cant drive by a police officer at 100 but chances are you wont get stopped at 80.(70 speed limit)

What they are really looking for is drug cars cause that's where the real money is. Offender will forfeit the car and whatever money is found in it, and will have to get a local defense attorney (this is why the local yellow page ads for criminal attorneys is a quarter inch thick). Got a real profitable cottage industry going around here!

Reminds me of an incident on last Fridays commute. Pickup ruck blasts by me at full throttle (city street), and goes through the red light right turn at about 20 to beat the line of cars starting from across the intersection. Leading the charge was you guessed it, a cop car. I let out an audible Whoopie, when I saw his flashers come on.

Behind a paywall, but viewable through Google:

BP Begins Big Push to Revive Iraq's Oil

Raising oil production so quickly in such a small area may prove too demanding. Recently, it took Saudi Arabia nearly five years to increase its crude oil production capacity by two million barrels a day—without overriding concerns about political stability or security, notes energy consultants IHS CERA. A new analysis by the consultants say Iraq's plan to increase production is "extraordinarily ambitious" and predicted an increase of just less than two million barrels of oil a day by 2015. "It will be incredibly complicated to pull this off," says Matt Simmons, a Houston investment banker.

And there's this, too (via Stuart Staniford):

Iraq muddies oil plans with OPEC quota talk

In Vienna for an OPEC meeting last week, Shahristani said Baghdad would participate in OPEC agreements to curb oil supply when output reached 4 million bpd, some 8 million bpd short of Iraq’s envisaged target.

Shahristani is the director of Iraq's Oil Ministry. Iraq currently produces somewhere north of 3 million bpd, so he's not talking about a huge increase when he says 4.

It seems that for both technical and political reasons, we won't be seeing much out of Iraq for years to come.

This seems like a smart idea:

Businesses ‘to help employees insulate their homes’

A group of large businesses are joining forces to launch Insulate Today, which aims to help its employees make their homes more energy efficient.

The collection of companies will work with Sainsbury’s Energy and Act on CO2 as part of a trial scheme to make it cheaper and easier for 250,000 staff fit insulation in their homes and save hundreds of pounds in reduced energy bills.

Accenture, Aviva, HSBC, Sainsbury’s, Act on CO2, the Energy Saving Trust and EDF Energy are all collaborating on the project.

The companies involved hope to help their employees lead more sustainable lives through exclusive deals on home insulation and giving away free energy monitors to help the country reduce its carbon footprint.

See: http://news.wickes.co.uk/businesses-to-help-employees-insulate-their-hom...


Boiler scrappage scheme ‘a success’

The government has announced that it has reached its target and all the available vouchers for new energy-efficient boilers have been allocated.

The scheme was launched in January, with the aim of cutting CO2 emissions, saving money on energy bills and sustaining work for the heating industry.

Some 125,000 homeowners across England who took part in the initiative had up to 12 weeks after receiving their voucher to install a modern, A-rated boiler or a renewable heating system like a biomass boiler or a heat pump to claim £400 off the cost of the work.

Lord Hunt, energy and climate change minister, said: "The scheme’s been a great success and is already helping people cut down on their fuel bills. An A-rated energy efficient boiler can help save around £200 a year off fuel bills and reduce emissions."

See: http://news.wickes.co.uk/boiler-scrappage-scheme-a-success-1200

We're told the average cost of a replacement boiler and its installation is about £2,500. The £400 government grant and matching £400 rebate from participating energy firms obviously convinced a good number of homeowners to replace their inefficient G-rated boilers (125,000 participants in a two month span is pretty damn impressive). Collectively, the energy savings are pegged at £25 million a year, at today's prices -- money that can be put to better use as opposed to sent up the stack.


Well just leave it to those commonsensical Canadians. I guess that what comes from sitting around all winter with nothing to do but think.

Both those reports are of activities in the UK.

"Pay attention there at the back!"

Thanks Ralph. I didn't think those wannabe Newfies were that clever.

I'm sure those Canadians are pretty smart fellows, but I think the boiler scheme was being taken up by Brits! I had my boiler changed last year - sadly without a discount.

Power Lines Replace Pines as Tree Cuts Wreck Westchester Views (link above)

This really gets Me. The federal law written after the 2003 Ohio incident is a gross over reaction.

They require destruction of all trees which might grow to within so many feet of a power line someday.

They don't consider that it may take 30 years for a tree to grow close enough to become a threat, and that they can be trimmed back during this time.

A couple years ago they took down some 50 year old oaks on my property, I mean took them to the ground then poured roundup on the stumps.

Locally here we have a rule that limits the height of evergreens under power lines. When they reach Christmas-tree height, someone cuts them down, takes them away, and decorates them with ornaments. I don't think this is an official rule, but the power company is happy with it.

One of my uncles had a 100-foot Douglas fir growing in his back yard. At 100 feet, a Douglas fir is just getting nicely warmed up and grows about 6 feet per year, so the second 100 feet is a lot quicker than the first. The third 100 feet is slower, but by that time you have a tree you could build an entire subdivision out of, and is becoming a major hazard to aircraft. The tallest Douglas fir at the moment is 328 feet, although there are rumors of much bigger ones being cut down in the past.

He was getting very concerned about it blowing over and crushing his house, but it would have been too expensive for him to remove it. And then the power company came along and said, "Excuse me sir, but we're getting concerned about your tree wrecking our transmission line. Would you mind if we removed it?" So he said, "Sure, go ahead."

I mean, these hazards need to be controlled, but the companies could be more restrained and subtle about it.

So he said, "Sure, go ahead."

And, he didn't ask for the wood?

And, he didn't ask for the wood?

Well, he already had a house, and he wasn't planning to build another two or three, so he had no particular need for it.

Myself, I would have asked them to cut it up into 16-foot lengths and leave it stacked in the back yard, while I went out and made bids on vacant lots in the neighborhood.

Energy ministers signal shift in oil policy

Many of the world’s major oil consuming nations now agree with the Opec producers cartel that global prices should be determined by state intervention in addition to market activity in order to maintain price stability, it has emerged at a meeting of world energy ministers in Mexico.

The change in attitudemarks a significant shift in political relations between Opec, other producers and the world’s biggest oil-consuming countries. Opec’s efforts to control the market once made it the enemy of the US and many European nations.

I wonder if David M. Walker, former U.S. Comptroller General, is Peak Oil aware? Judging by the following quote from this interview at Yahoo Finance : Bush Administration "the Least Fiscally Responsible in History," Budget Hawk Says (but the jury's out on the current administration, I mean the numbers are shocking), it doesn't appear so

"What threatens our future are the deficits that will exist when the economy is recovered, when unemployment is down, when wars are over and the crises are passed," Walker says. "That's what threatens the ship of state."

On the other hand he says:

First let's talk about what won't work. We can't grow our way out of the problem because of a new four letter word: MATH. It takes double digit, real GDP growth for decades to grow your way out of a $62.3 trillion hole, which is what we have. Secondly you can't inflate your way out of the problem, because while inflation would lessen the burden of the current debt, that's not the real threat. The real threat's the $50 trillion in unfunded obligations for Medicare, Social Security and other things that grow faster than inflation. So we're going to have to,

Re-impose tough budget controls.
Reform social insurance programs.
Constrain spending.
Reform the tax system in ways to raise revenue,

were going to have to do all of that.


Alan from the islands

Excellent honest assessment of the problem. Just posted the link on my facebook page. Thanks.

Based upon what I read above, it appears David Walker has no idea what he is talking about - the problem is in fact much worse.

Notice what he says "when unemployment is down, when the wars are over, and the crises are passed."

Newsflash for you, chief: we now have structurally high unemployment (especially underemployment), the wars will never end as we are permanently occupying the area to guarantee oil and gas flows, and the financial crises are ongoing - Dubai, Greece, Ireland, California, anyone? Bueller?

anyone? Bueller?

Voodoo Economics anyone...anyone...


So, in other words, if we repeat the words "voodoo" and "anyone" enough times then "economics" becomes a crystal clear subject area?

Anyone? Anyone?

That really just underscores that we can't let healthcare inflation continue on its merry way. If we let it continue healthcare will bankrupt us, period, end of story. Maybe I should start a new political party, "the Death Panel Party", balanced budgets by sacrificing grandma....

Maybe I should start a new political party, "the Death Panel Party", balanced budgets by sacrificing grandma....


Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending March 26, 2010

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.2 million barrels per day during the week ending March 26, 192 thousand barrels per day above the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 82.6 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production slightly increased last week, averaging 9.0 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging 3.6 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 9.1 million barrels per day last week, down 337 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.8 million barrels per day, 374 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 710 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 321 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 2.9 million barrels from the previous week. At 354.2 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 0.3 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories decreased while blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 1.1 million barrels, and are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 0.5 million barrels last week and are in the lower half of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 3.2 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

Oil Pares Gain After Report Shows Increase in U.S. Inventories

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil futures pared gains after a U.S. government report showed a bigger-than-forecast increase in inventories.

Supplies rose 2.93 million barrels to 354.2 million in the week ended March 29, the Energy Department said today in a weekly report. Inventories were forecast to climb by 2.5 million barrels, according to the median of 16 analyst estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

For the second week in row, EIA ‘corrections’ may initially be giving us misleading indications about the level of the inventories. This week, looking deep into the figures, the EIA revised the prior week’s crude inventories by 2.9 million barrels (adding them to this week's numbers) – which is coincidently the total amount inventories increased this week. So without that adjustment, crude inventories would have been stable – instead of the normal seasonal increase. Please however note that I am not saying the EIA is wrong, just that it is correcting an understatement of inventories that occurred in prior weeks.

One week ago, the EIA essentially reclassified 7 million barrels of product invento-ries back to crude. Again they may be correct in fixing an error, but looking only at the bottom line weekly number may lead to an incorrect assessment as to the direction of inventories.

And the direction is down if recent trends hold up. Exportland 2.0 is in effect. Over the last month or so, US oil demand has averaged about 3% higher than the comparable four week period a year ago. This has lead to the US inventory situa-tion being worse by about 1 million or so barrels per day than the comparable pe-riod last year, when reduced overall crude + product imports are taken into con-sideration. Or in other words, the effect is that overall inventories were increasing this time last year but are now decreasing.

Due to the financial panic of early 2009, a cushion of excess inventories devel-oped. This will allow world demand, maybe now running about 2 million bpd over the comparable month last year, to temporarily overshoot supply in mid 2010 (unless OPEC really produces the excess capacity it keeps talking about). When supplies are worked back down to MOLs (minimum operating levels), we may have another price ‘shock’ that Rubin (in the news above) and others are starting to warn about.

As economic growth was at its best before the crash here in germany, You could hear diesel consuming people complaining about diesel prices being higher than prices for gasoline. Nowadays in times of a stagnating/declining economie, it looks like the price for diesel is mainly influenced by the price of crude, whereas the price for gasoline is skyrocketing, that means is driven by scarcety.

As I learned from Your Tech Talks the ratio between diesel and gasoline you get out of crude cannot be influenced very much.

So it looks like - at least here in Europe - that high gasoline prices are cutting back diesel consumption more than gasoline consumption. ( Fuel savings by cutting back mandatory driving is less than the savings of diesel due to less transport/production because of diminished demand for goods). Less refining diesel means less refining gasoline as well and the cut in gasoline supply is bigger than the cut in demand. So we see skyrocketing prices for gasoline no matter what the price for crude is, even if the price for crude would go down. No trucker will drive an empty truck even if the diesel is for free.

The OECD world and the ratio of diese/gasolin machines e consumingis adapted to a moderate growing economie and is now getting out of sinc in this sharp recession. Wonder what this summer will happen, when seasonal effects are driving demand twords the gasoline side.

Transatlantic help is welcoméd.

L. Keck

Diesel has 13% more energy per gallon than gasoline and diesel engines are 15% more efficient but it takes 25% more crude oil to make diesel fuel than to make gasoline.


Diesel is made out of heavy 'gas oil' while gasoline can be made out of light fractions of petroleum like naphtha AND heavy fractions by means of catalytic cracking.

Right now Chinese demand for diesel is determining the world price of diesel.

The Union of Concerned Scientists considers gasoline to be more 'green' than low sulfur diesel.

Thanks a lot, majorian,

If I understand You correctly, one can very well determine the ratio between gasoline and diesel. All you have to do is to choose the propper proportion of different hydrocarbon inputs.

But nontheless. The observation regarding the price seem correct. Economical good times seem to have
relative high diesel prices compared wth those of gasoline.

Some days ago an english fellow poster reported of new record prices for gasoline in GB. Here in germany gasoline was 1.46 Eur/l versus 1.22 for diesel today. Record High was about 1.56 when crude was above 140 $/b for both fuels ( maybe 1 or 2 cent difference). And now gasoline prices are rising fast and diesel prices just go with the price for crude ( + Euro / $ exchange rate, off corse).

Do You or somebode else con explain ?

Do You or somebode else con explain ?

This is about the ratio of diesel/gasoline price. Its really a wild eyed guess, but I think construction uses a lot of diesel. And construcrion is moe cyclical than the overall economy. Construction ought to be proportional to something like the rate of growth of the economy, whereas the oversize of the economy is just that. Hit a flat economy, gas demand stays about even, but construction based diesel demand ought to plument.

The Union of Concerned Scientists considers gasoline to be more 'green' than low sulfur diesel.

The Union of Confused Scientists wonders how either of them could be considered to be particularly 'green'. I think we're talking about different shades of black, here.

If you want to be environmentally sensitive, leave the car at home and ride a bicycle to work.

There are so many lazy people that would never ever consider riding a bicycle. Its sickening. People think i'm half crazy for biking across town, when there are people out their riding bicycles across the planet. If you are in halfway decent shape you can cover some serious ground on a bike, especially if you disregard all traffic laws :)

I'd like to know if our Continental Shelf contains enough oil to justify drilling it. Now if the oil industry demands huge subsidies for drilling there, then we'll know for sure that this drilling isn't justifiable. After all, if our Continental Shelf contains enough oil, and especially "easy oil", to justify drilling it, then the oil industry will ask for little, if any, subsidies for doing so. But given that Obama has proven time and time again that he's deep within the pockets of Corporate America, the oil industry is probably looking to turn a profit not by competing in free market, but by sucking off the teat of the taxpayer, just as the banking and insurance industries have done.

I don't think Obama has to do anything more with this one for now.
He's just told Sarah Palin and acolytes to stick that into their pipe and smoke it. They can huff and puff, but he's just nailed one of their feet to the floor. Where are they going to go? Solar?

I don't like the Corporate Sops he's played either.. but he knows where the bread is buttered, and is riding several fine lines of compromise here.

Health care didn't come all that far towards the center, but it did just move in the right direction. The sausage factory is in full production this year, and no, it isn't pretty and sweet-smelling.

Jeff Cohen, the founder of the media watchdog FAIR, explains how Obama rose to become our nation's leading corporatist Democrat. He did this by being a high-priced whore for Corporate America:


Cohen also mentions that Obama describes himself as a "free-market" guy. Cohen then goes on to mention that Obama is too smart not to know that by 2008 there is no free market. A few companies have taken over basically every industry. So when Obama says he's a "free-market" guy, it's just a softer way of saying he's a "corporate" guy. But Obama is smart enough not to say that.

Nobody is talking about subsidies, that I have heard of.

If oil prices aren't high enough to support the cost, it very likely won't get drilled. The big question is how much is economically extractable. The areas that in some sense are viewed as most promising (for example, near places with oil onshore, for example) have already been drilled. The places that are being added now are generally much less promising than, say, the coasts right off Texas and Louisiana.

I've got to say, this announcement, coming out of the blue, smells of a two shoe play.

This is the first shoe and skewers the "drill baby drill" brigade in their 'solution' to oil prices, energy security, etc.

However, there is the other shoe, that pairs up with this. It might be CO2 taxes, it might be fuel efficiency standards....or it might be the curtailing of subsidies and tax breaks for US oil companies. Given the current situation of the US finances, that's got to be a distinct possibility. It might be all three, or more.

We're coming up to Easter, so maybe an announcement on Thursday afternoon?

And your point Cynthia? ;) The oil patch will take "stupid money" (yes...that is the technical term we really use) from the gov't, Wall Street fund managers or any other source. And yes...you use your money to drill the low risk projects and someone's elses to drill the risky ones. How it has always been...how it will always be.

Apparently you don't mind, unlike I do, that many of our corporations are getting away with having the best of socialism and capitalism all rolled into one. Apparently you don't mind, unlike I do, that allowing corporations to get away with privatizing their profits and socializing their losses is creating a nation of haves and have-nots with nothing in between.

Cynthia -- matters not what you or I mind. The public has supported this insane system and shows no sign of changing it. In fact, the entire bizarre process seems to be expanding.

Darlin, I stopped fighting windmills long ago. Today I concentrate my efforts on matters that I can have an impact upon. I gave up a long time ago trying to make foolish people see the errors of their ways. As someone else once said: it's like teaching pigs to sing: frustrates you and irritates the pigs.

Remember Bilbo fighting Smaug? (Hope I've got this battle right..) There was a soft spot underneath where the stab would get through the scales.. but Bilbo knew it wouldn't do much good to stab at the Armor.

The Dems and Repubs are part of the Armor shielding.. whether they would agree or like the comparison, the role they play is not the one that will help kill the dragon. Not directly, anyhow.

It's a good day to die..

I'd like to know if our Continental Shelf contains enough oil to justify drilling it.

You'll never know unless they drill it. If they find large amounts of oil, it was justified, if not, not.

I'd like to know if our Continental Shelf contains enough oil to justify drilling it.

The Mineral Management Service has a map of resources:

A discussion of this was back in the Sept. 8, 2008 Peak Oil Review from ASPO-USA, (now archived, if you're searching).
Well s**t, I can't get this link to work:
it will only take you to the start of the archive
go to page 2 of the archive,
scroll down to "Peak Oil Review 8 September 2008" and click there.

Look for "Commentary: The Offshore? Good Luck, Bad Luck and Mukluk"

I suppose if one is desperate, then the 3.8 Billion bbls presumed to be under the East coast OCS are worth it.
It is (19 million bpd * 365.25 = 6.9 billion bbls/yr US oil consumption) on the order of half a year's supply, at a rate of perhaps a million bpd,
i.e. 1/19th of usage.

The other moratoria areas (West Coast, Eastern GOM) are similar sized resources.

How much will that matter?
I dunno. Maybe easier/cheaper/faster than 1 million bpd of oil shale/CTL/... ?
But it ultimately doesn't mean much unless we go to some kind of renewables.

Thanks for the MMS link. I've not laughed so hard in a couple of days. It contains that hysterically funny concept "undiscovered technically recoverable reserves." That which we don't know about but which we know exists so don't worry about a thing.

Like my undiscovered but technically recoverable youth, good looks, and charitableness.

It appears to be a subset of Donald Rumsfeld's Unknown Unknowns and Undiscovered Unknowns which we know for sure even now that we will discover and know of once we discover them.

But then again, today is April 1st (a.k.a. Rumsfeld's Fools Day).

Posted already but met with a paucity of comments: Washington Considers A Decline Of World Oil Production As Of 2011 By Matthieu Auzanneau

M. Auzanneau - After 2011 and until 2015, do you acknowledge that if adequate investment is not there, a chance exists that we may experience a first stage of decline in the “undulating plateau” you describe ?

GLEN SWEETNAM - I agree, if the investment is not there, a chance exists that we may experience a decline. If we do, I would expect investment in new capacity to increase if there is still demand for oil.

Page 8 of the presentation document of the round-table, a graph shows that the DoE is expecting a decline of the total of all known sources of liquid fuels supplies after 2011.

The graph labels as “unidentified” the additional supply projects needed to fill in a gap that is expected to grow after 2011 between rising demand and decline of known sources of supply that the DoE supposes will start that year. The declining production foreseen by the DoE concerns the total of existing sources of liquid fuels plus the new production projects that are supposed to come on-stream before 2012.

I'm developing a pretty serious case of cynicism about charts that show growth through the present time and dramatic drop off in the near future.

"Undulating plateaus" are starting to seem more rational

"This chart actually understates the case because gas production produces NGL (natural gas liquids) that condense out of the gas processing and are added to the official "oil" supply numbers, about 8 million barrels a day worth of our 85 million barrel a day habit. This fat portion of our oil is actually natural gas production energy. The above chart illustrates why natural gas is often referred to as the "bridge fuel" we need - a bridge of about 25 years between the oil peak and the gas peak to safely get us across to the nonfossil fuels of the future, like sugar and cellulosic ethanol, scaled up to what we need."

The above is quoted from the Seeking Alpha article discussing the reasons behind the recent uncoupling of natural gas prices from crude oil, in terms of their traditional 6 to 1 pricing multiple.

He alludes to liquified natural gas as a potential bridge energy source that may help western civilization survive long enough to bring viable alternative energy sources online once it becomes obvious to everyone that peak oil production has passed worldwide.

I don't know enough about LNG to know if this something viable that might give me a little hope we are not headed for the global collapse so many here foresee, and which seems like a logical conclusion to me as well based on my current knowledge and understanding. Just wondering if someone more knowledgable than me could comment on the potential of LNG to soften our landing post-peak?

LNG = Liquified Natural Gas, he's talking about NGLs = Natural Gas Liquids. Both can be used in automobiles although LNG has been employed only in heavy vehicles far as I know. NGLs require somewhat less compression than CNG but have lower energy density and thus are even more problematic from a range standpoint. CNG is the usual avenue for NGVs. Vehicle conversions are expensive for any of these.

What article are you talking about?


"The new face of oil and gas"

This was the article I was referencing.

Pardon my ignorance, but I know little about NGL's or LNG or any other liquified product of natural gas. Given the (very relative) abundance of natural gas, particularly in North America, I'm just wondering if these products could serve to extend the peak of liquid fossil fuels in a meaningful way.

It seems to me that once it's become obvious that crude oil production has peaked globally, then government and other entities with capital will become much more interested in developing alternative, ideally renewable sources of energy. At that point it will be too late however unless we have some other viable liquid FF to fill the gap while renewable energy sources are brought online. My question is could LNG or NGL's be that liquid FF to fill that role, which is what is implied in this article. It seems 8 million barrels per day are already being produced of the stuff (which is counted among the 80-90 million bpd global usage), which is not insignificant. I have no idea how scalable that number is however.

I already suspect what the answer will be, but I have zero knowledge of EROEI of liquid NG, current production capacity, timetables and feasibilty of ramping up production, complexity of converting current fleets of vehicles to utilize this fuel, etc. I'm hoping someone here could enlighten me a bit.

As far as LNG in and of itself is concerned - no. LNG is nothing but a convenient way to store and transport natural gas, by cooling it down very cold.

It's uneconomical to store and transport in all but huge quantities, typically purpose-built giant tanker ships. There are occasions where it is transported to location via trucking, but that's not a normal application. To feed into any sort of engine it would have to be vaporized first, turning it into regular old natural gas.

Aside from the fact that it needs to be stored at -260degF to maintain liquid form (and obvious safety concerns dealing with such a cold liquid), you can't use carbon steel to contain it so expense is way up there.

from the TOD acronym page:

Natural gas liquids (ethane, propane, butane, isobutane and natural gasoline)

Hmm - ethane? That's not what Schlumberger says:

Components of natural gas that are liquid at surface in field facilities or in gas-processing plants. Natural gas liquids can be classified according to their vapor pressures as low (condensate), intermediate (natural gasoline) and high (liquefied petroleum gas) vapor pressure.

Natural gas liquids include propane, butane, pentane, hexane and heptane, but not methane and ethane, since these hydrocarbons need refrigeration to be liquefied. The term is commonly abbreviated as NGL.

Well, ConocoPhillips includes ethane, whatever:

Butane is 4 carbons per molecule, pentane 5, ... .
Pentane and lower are liquid at room temperature (though volatile).
Some butane will stay dissolved in pentane/hexane/... .

KLR said:
NGLs require somewhat less compression than CNG but have lower energy density and thus are even more problematic from a range standpoint.

Natural gas liquids, sans ethane and propane and limited in butane content, will be liquid, thus have a higher volumetric energy density than methane (as CNG or LNG).
And a small pressure, think butane lighter in plastic, will keep butane liquid. Propane will liquify at room temps at about 150 psi.
CNG is typically 2000 psi or higher.

If the octane rating is high enough, it is gasoline.
Old timers in Texas and Oklahoma with gas leases often got to fill up with "drip gasoline" for free. Add a few drops of tetraethyl lead to boost the octane, or mix with some real gas to cut the smell/smoke, whooo hah!

well, for that matter, stock tank condensate and crude oil will contain a small fraction of methane, ethane, etc.

what a lot of people don't seem to understand is that hydrocarbon mixtures do not behave the same as individual components. there are an infinite number of ways a h-c mixture can be constituted and the equilibrium content of these components depends on pvt and composition and time.

Ethane may or may not be a Natural Gas Liquid depending on whether you design your gas plant to fractionate it off the natural gas stream, or not.

Obviously, propane and butane are not liquids at room temperature and pressure, and neither is ethane. The distinction is whether you sell them in the natural gas stream for fuel, or you sell them as separate products for some other purpose.

Ethane is commonly used in the petrochemical industry (e.g. for polyethylene plastic), so if you have a petrochemical industry nearby, that's where you will sell it. If you don't, you will let it go to the end user in the natural gas stream. If there's no market for propane or butane, you might sell those as natural gas, as well.

These days you probably want to only sell methane as natural gas, and sell everything else for petrochemicals.When I worked in the industry we would make the decision on a day-by-day basis.

U.S. Standard of Living Unsustainable Without Drastic Action, Former Top Govt. Accountant Says



"National H+T Index Highlights the High Costs of Transportation in Many Communities"


"A new analysis by the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) shows that only two in five American communities -- or 39 percent -- are affordable for typical households when their transportation costs are considered along with housing costs."

This H + T index simply puts actual recent data to JHK's "Long Emergency" contensions about urban failing(s). It should be no surprise to anyone here but it is a good talking point when talking about why PO can be so bad for communities.

I'd say a good rule of thumb for just about everyone: if you can't at least get to work by bicycle in a 1-hour ride (which is - what? - maybe 10-15 miles or so, unless you are really very fit), you are very definitely living way too far away from your workplace. (Even if you have mass transit available, you can't always count upon that, and you do need a backup plan that doesn't rely on either public transit OR automobiles.) This should be a red flag warning to get your home and workplace into closer proximity ASAP! (Actually, try to get a lot closer than a 1-hr bike commute if you possibly can.)

Then go out and get that bicycle while the getting is good. Then actually try riding it to work and back, at least occasionally.

For people already within walking distance to work (like myself), you are OK, but do try actually taking the walk as a trial run at least occasionally.

Those who fail to plan this way are planning to fail - which I define as becoming unemployed and stranded, with no way to get to a job, let alone find one.

Even if you have mass transit available, you can't always count upon that...

Yes, that's one of the dirty little secrets the "carfree" types rarely mention. It's strike-prone, and may become more so if/when things become more difficult. In (USA) locales where there is winter it also tends to disintegrate at the mere sight of a snowflake. (But alas the bicycle is often unsafe in winter due to heavy rutted glare-ice accumulations, so not much help there.) And in many locales, transit is useless or nonexistent after dark and/or on Sunday.

...unemployed and stranded, with no way to get to a job...

If it gets so bad that driving is impossible for a significant (whatever that means) length of time, I wonder how many jobs would be left to get to for the duration. Plenty of jobs depend on lots of driving or travel to get the work done, or else depend on or support someone else's extensive driving or travel. If, however, it doesn't get that bad (within one's own working lifetime), then, as would be the case now, arriving all stinky and sweaty on a bicycle or after walking (often some distance) from a bus stop might not be an ideal way to present oneself at an interview, unless maybe it's some highly unusual sort of job.

To put it another way, it seems like the range of scenarios for which this sort of plan might work would be quite narrow, especially in places with harsh or frequently-stormy seasons, i.e. nearly all of North America, which is not Western (i.e. coastal, maritime, mostly equable weather) Europe. What are the odds of hitting the narrow range?

only two in five American communities -- or 39 percent -- are affordable for typical households when their transportation costs are considered

That's the fundamental problem with the way most American communities are structured. They are built on the assumption of $10/barrel oil, and when oil costs $80/barrel, most of the people can no longer afford to commute to work.

And it will only get worse as oil costs rise. The smart thing for home buyers to ask when buying a house would have been, "Could I afford to live here and commute to work if oil cost $200/barrel?" But of course none of them did that.

When planning for the future, always assume the worst case. If things are better than that, you can put the extra money in your pocket.

Hybrid vehicles greatly reduce fuel costs, what they should be asking is "Will I have a job to go to with $150/bbl oil?".

"Will I have a job to go to with $150/bbl oil?".

You have to stay flexible and follow the money. I found that designing heavy oil production management systems for Chinese-controlled oil companies worked for me. Whatever you do is up to you.

But I moved within walking distance of work because there was no way I was going to pay that much money to drive there. People really should run the economics on a computer before making a decision about where to live. I know I did.

As any homeowner knows, depreciation is a real cost. I wonder what it would cost on an annual basis just to maintain our status quo total infrastructure--things like residential housing, water & sewage systems, road networks, commercial buildings, electrical systems, oil & gas systems, etc. And of course to maintain the status quo in many cases ultimately requires replacing entire systems, e.g., things like water & sewage systems.

It is also unsustainable with drastic action. And, of course, it depends on how one defines one's terms. And what is more important, quality of life or standard of living.

Quoting from a email I just received from the EIA as part of a routine announcement regarding their Monthly Energy Review publication:

Preliminary 2009 statistics show:

· U.S. total energy consumption of 95 quadrillion Btu was down 5% from 2008 . Consumption declined in all end-use sectors, but industrial sector consumption declined the most (11% lower than 2008).

· U.S. total energy production of 73 quadrillion Btu was down slightly compared with 2008; U.S. net imports of energy at 23 quadrillion Btu were down 12%.

· U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from total energy consumption of 5,427 million metric tons of CO2 were down 7% compared with 2008.

Wow! Five quads is a lot. If we could just keep up that drop of five quads/yr, we could be down to 50 quads in just 10 years - think about that. That would be so very, very hard to do, I'm sure, but it would surely leave the US far less "under the gun" (or "Damocles's sword", perhaps) than we are now. Of course, you could also forget about any so-called "recovery" (you can in any case, by the way); the US would be (will be, actually) a lot poorer nation when it got down to 50 quads.

Note, though, that a lot of that reduction was acheived by shutting down factories in the US and instead importing finished goods from elsewhere (whose energy inputs employed in making the stuff we import don't "count").

I note though that as of December some of the demand appears to have recovered.


I look at the red "Commercial" line and think "Big Boxes" and what a waste. The low hanging fruit IMHO.

Retail space per capita in the USA is several times EU and Japan norms and ten times what it was here in 1950.

Just cut back that space by 80% (and perhaps reduce hours) and we will still be twice 1950 levels. And see that red line plummet.

Best Hopes for Less Commercial Use (and all the rest),


Alan, have to disagree with you about reducing hours. It's better to have a smaller supermarket with fewer registers open 24/7 than a supermarket with wider aisles, more registers and a massive car park to fit everybody through in a few hours. I used to work in a supermarket 30 years ago here in Australia when they closed at midday Saturday till Monday 9am; Saturdays were bedlam then but today I can shop when it suits me and without the crowds.
Variable start/finish times for workers also reduce the peak of peak hour and makes better use of services such as public transport.

Heating, lighting and cooling 24/7 is not optimum either.

In your example, close Saturday @ 4:30 PM instead of noon and open Sunday from 1 till 5 PM (energy > labor) and the bedlam would cease.

Stock during the mid-day weekdays, open at 6:45 or 7 AM and close at 7:30 every evening for grocery stores would "work".

For other retail, open 1 PM till 8 PM weekdays and some weekend hours would "work".

Best Hopes for Greater Energy Efficiency,


Supermarkets need to be climate controlled and the coolers running 24/7 anyway.

It makes no sense to close them to potential customers for the savings of being able to turn the lights off for a few hours a day since those are a relatively small portion of the energy cost. Where it is done it is primarily due to labor issues.

Adding solar/wind as I've seen in one shopping area here, and perhaps even direct solar for lighting, should make a much larger difference to FF energy consumption of grocery markets.

Climate control to preserve foodstuffs has a wider range than what is needed to please customers. I suspect that simply turning off the heat at 7 PM and turning it back on at 5:30 AM would work most times and places.

Lighting generates a lot of heat that then needs to be cooled (except in winter).

I agree that labor is a much bigger factor than energy today.


The trouble with big supermarkets is that they have a lot of thermal inertia. When you turn the heating/cooling off, it takes forever for it to go down/up to ambient conditions. In fact, it never gets there. And then, when you turn it on, it takes it forever to get back up/down to room temperature. You may as well leave it at the same temperature all the time.

Light takes a bit of energy, but you have to have some lighting for theft-prevention purposes.

And then you have to have some staff on duty to prevent people breaking in and stealing all the stock in the dead of the night. While they're there, they may as well man the cash registers. You only need to keep one or two open to handle the customers.

This is the economics behind 24/7 operation of supermarkets.

The big surprise for me has been their staying power. I would have expected more retail chain bankruptcies and big box store closings by now. They are probably hoping that this is just a normal business cycle, and that we are now on the upside of the "V". What they haven't discovered yet is that this isn't even a "W", but rather the teeth of a saw pointed downward. They aren't counting on that, the next downturn will undoubtedly be a total surprise and will totally confound their plans. I wonder how many of them will survive that.

The residential #s (the dashed line) could be cut almost in half with Energy Star appliances, CFLs, high efficiency HVAC (heating & cooling), improved insulation (R-60 in the attic everywhere, more in colder areas + improved walls in colder areas), weatherization/plug holes, insulated doors and less wasteful lifestyles (say, no pools at home).

Nothing too difficult or outrageous.

Best Hopes,


The graph suggests to me that just maybe people are cutting back on the a/c in the summer a little bit? Bumping the thermostat up a couple of notches is a quick, easy and relatively painless way to save a nice little bit of money in the summertime.

That December 09 uptick must certainly be due to the normal wintertime seasonal spike in the residential sector. It has been a cold winter.

The tough nut to crack is going to be transportation. There doesn't look to be anything but random noise around a relatively flat trend line. Even the 2008 oil price spike and the September hurricane disruption didn't seem to make much difference. Fuel prices are going to have to go up A LOT before we see much of an impact on the transportation sector, I'm afraid.

This whole thing about Obama opening up off-shore drilling couldn't be pay back for getting a few more votes on his health care bill could it? Or am I barking up the wrong tree?

IMO, wrong tree. What are the options? Play out the scenarios. Drill and in short notice realize it doesn't save us. Don't drill and constituents whine about not drilling, you get de-authorized, next President authorizes drilling and in short notice we realize it doesn't save us. Either way, the Party's Over, bring in the clean-up crew. I'd love to see a skit of how this played out on Easter Island...chop baby chop.

Easter Island...chop baby chop.


Maybe they had a few last trees growing on an atoll just beyond the beach and President Baroque Easterbomber declared that he was opening up atoll tree toppling just until we get that new tree-free technology up and running?

I'm not debating whether there is/isn't oil down there merely suggesting that Obama might have had to promise a few Congressmen with ties to Big Oil, who might be up for election in a few months (before the drilling is done/conclusive) that he will give them drilling if they vote for health care. They then get a big campaign cheque from Big Oil and are feather-nested for another parliament.

Such real-politik happens all the time...

Anyone can check out campaign contributions here: http://www.opensecrets.org/


Sorry I'm English. Just because there is supposed to be a list where parliamentarians should record donations they have accepted means nothing to me. There are always, always back-handers and bribes. Given that the vast bulk of British parliamentarians are corrupt and have been thieving from the public purse I would never trust an 'official' log of who has taken what from whom.

Iron ore price deal sparks steel fury

By FT reporters

Published: March 31 2010 15:48 | Last updated: March 31 2010 19:35

European steel and auto industries on Wednesday accused mining companies of unfair pricing practices following the introduction of a new system for valuing iron ore that will see the cost of the resource nearly double.

Not 'Peak Iron' maybe, but another good indicator that the next 10 years, for the west, will not at all resemble the last 10, even without peak anything. The peak XXX's will just make it worse.

Maybe Greer was correct in his 'Becoming a Third World Nation' essay. Even Niall Ferguson's book 'Ascent of Money' describes the massive debt-overhang and eventual sub-prime crash as the start of the 'decline of the American Empire'.

Can anyone direct me to an analysis that makes sense of the hype that's sweeping the MSM about the "new" abundance of NG in the form of shale gas or whatever? I'm particularly interested in an analysis by someone who is recognizably sensible about the oil supply so I can have some confidence in their reliability.

Superbug: The Fatal Menace of MRSA

From Booklist
Via several real-life firsthand accounts, public-health journalist McKenna lays bare, often all too graphically, the ravages of a disease with the potential to do grievous international harm because there is virtually no known treatment for it. Although humans and staphylococci have been close travelling companions virtually forever, and those pesky germs occasionally make our travels difficult, once upon a time scientists believed they had discovered the key to stifling staph infections forever: antibiotics. Case closed. But not so fast. There is a particularly feisty, methicillin-resistant strain, staphylococcus aureus, aka MRSA, that apparently has plans to outlast and outlive by outsmarting just about every known antibiotic thrown at it. First thought to reside solely within the walls of hospitals and to affect those with severely compromised immune systems, MRSA surreptitiously evolved a street persona. With the bacteria’s quick-changing, deadly brothers lurking in hospitals, gyms, and locker rooms, experts at the epicenter of research report that the hunt for a vaccine may be a last-ditch strategy to fend off a wily predator. --Donna Chavez

Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases
Posted online on 08 Mar 2010.
Vitamin D and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) nasal carriage

Studies have found that vitamin D plays an important role in mediating immune function via a number of pathways, including enhancing the release of antimicrobial peptides in the skin. Given these findings, we hypothesize that low serum vitamin D levels may increase the risk of nasal carriage of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). A secondary data analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001–2004 was performed to investigate the association between serum vitamin D levels and MRSA nasal carriage for the non-institutionalized population of the USA. An estimated 2.7 million persons (1.2% of the population) are MRSA nasal carriers. An estimated 63.3 million persons (28.4% of the population) are vitamin D deficient (serum vitamin D <20 ng/ml). In an adjusted logistic regression analysis controlling for age, race, gender, poverty income ratio, current health status, hospitalization in the past 12 months, and antibiotic use in the past month, individuals with vitamin D deficiency had a statistically significant increased risk of MRSA carriage of 2.04 (95% CI 1.09–3.84). Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of MRSA nasal carriage. Further trials may be warranted to determine whether vitamin D supplementation decreases the risk of MRSA colonization.

I have actually thought about this before:

What if all our PO and AGW hand-wringing is for naught, because we are wiped out by a antibiotic resistant bacterial infection?

All the more reason to stay out of hospitals unless you absolutely must be there.

If it's a disease it'd have to be fun. Maybe Baxter labs could cook up some sort of zombie plague.

Is anyone else finding Campfire posts blocked now? I used to just be blocked from the TOD:Europe and TOD:AUS+NZ sections, but now I seemed to be blocked from TOD:Campfire too.

Driven lower by high prices and the recession, gasoline sales in California fell for the fourth year in a row during 2009, state officials reported Tuesday.


I know last year (2009) was the year my little nuclear family became a single car family, so we contributed to this drop.

We live in CA and I can tell you firsthand there is less traffic. It use to be if you were anywhere near certain highways at certain times you were dead meat, sitting in traffic until you were singing to yourself from boredom. But now you can drive with less concern because the traffic has definitely thinned out. But who can blame people for driving less when the bridges in the SF bay area get greedy and start charging 6 to cross the GG bridge, and 5 for most of the others. Even 4 bucks to cross the lowly Carqineuz Bridge, which cost 15 cents to cross in the 60's, and later cost 50 cents for several decades.

Beyond the cost of fuel, which is about 3.15 a gallon the roads are falling apart. Driving along even with decent suspension beats you up because of all the rumbling of the wheels over rough, cracked, pot-holed, uneven, pitted roads. It produces a cocaphany of sounds that lulls one into a trance. I swear, these roads are degrading so fast, they will start to crumble and break up if nothing is done about it. Then people will drive even less and less revenue from fuel taxes will lead to worse roads...

The roads in Wisconsin are also falling apart and they fix it with pea gravel and tar. Its amazing because its like putting a band aid on a brain tumor. I keep my tires inflated pretty high and my fillings in my teeth are about to fall out.

Someone on another forum mentioned gasoline in Brazil is running $6.60/gall and in France $8/gallon... I wouldn't drive at those prices. I have a bicycle and a good set of legs, but @ the current $2.82 i'll drive to my mailbox :)

We live in CA and I can tell you firsthand there is less traffic.

Wait until gasoline goes to $10/gallon, and then tell me how much traffic there is.

Beyond the cost of fuel, which is about 3.15 a gallon the roads are falling apart.

The obvious solution is to put a $4.00 per gallon tax on gasoline, and use it to fix the roads. This would be really efficient because there would be far fewer people driving on them and they wouldn't deteriorate as fast. However, I imaging the California solution will to go into a state of virtual bankruptcy (i.e. something like what it is in now) and then blame it on the greedy corporations.

haven't seen this one posted:


UPDATE 1-Exxon does not see XTO earnings bump for years
* CEO says no earnings from XTO for a couple of years.

quite a different story than what the ung players are(were) perpetrating....... and exxon has the capital to make it profitable even then.

more here, posted on berman's blog:


"Energy investors have embraced the gas shale phenomenon. In fact, if producers don’t have gas shale acreage to highlight in investor presentations — suggesting reserve and production growth — they are ignored in the marketplace. By overstating producing gas shale reserves, companies are able to show extremely favorable finding and development (F&D) economics. Low F&D costs are critical for producers to tap Wall Street for the funds necessary to sustain their aggressive gas shale drilling efforts.
The cost of leases and their relatively short lives have placed a premium on accelerated exploitation. As a result, the industry has been outrunning its ability and desire to complete wells given low natural gas prices."

Interesting conclusion

The shale gas boom has been the sole bright spot in America's energy picture, and maybe the only bright spot in the economy as a whole. And what does that bright spot turn out to be? An asset play whereby shale gas producers, conniving with bankers, inflate their own value, hoping to get out while the getting is good.

What else would you expect in 21st century America?

At the 2009 ASPO conference, Arthur Berman debated an industry guy regarding shale gas, and the industry guy asserted that there was no reason to doubt the veracity of the analysts (who were coming up with large per well production numbers). Arthur responded that this view--we can trust the analysts--was also the prevailing opinion going into the mortgage meltdown.