Drumbeat: April 17, 2010

Saudi Arabia sets up nuclear energy science centre

KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia said it would set up a scientific centre for civilian nuclear and renewable energy to meet rising demand for power and desalinated water, state news agency SPA said on Saturday.

Fast growing power demand is forcing Saudi Arabia to look at all sources of energy, the kingdom's deputy minister of electricity, Saleh Alawaji said last month.

Demand for power grew last year by more than 8 percent and is expected to grow to more than 60,000 megawatt (MW) by 2020.

Russia to start Shtokman gas field development 2011-Putin

MURMANSK, Russia (Reuters) - Russia plans to start development of the giant Arctic Shtokman gas field in spring 2011, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Saturday.

Flight ban could leave UK short of fruit and veg

Britain's supermarkets could soon run short of perishable goods including exotic fruits and Kenyan roses as the ongoing ban on UK air travel brought Britain's largest perishable air freight handling centre to a standstill today.

Bjorn Lomborg: Obama Gets Reasonable on the Environment - Yes to oil drilling, and to a World Bank loan for a coal plant

President Obama shocked many supporters last month by proposing to expand offshore oil and gas exploration along the U.S. East Coast. The obvious explanation among outraged environmentalists was that the White House was playing politics with ecologically fragile coastlines. But this particular initiative had more to do with technological and economic realism than partisan maneuvering.

Ahmadinejad Opens Iranian Nuclear Summit

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for the U.S. to be removed from the International Atomic Energy Agency, in his opening speech at a nuclear disarmament conference in Tehran.

ExxonMobil Goes for the Gold at California Unit

ExxonMobil has completed the world's longest extended-reach well drilled from an existing offshore fixed platform drilling rig, increasing the company's ability to produce more domestic oil supplies from existing facilities at the Santa Ynez unit, offshore southern California. The well drilled from the Heritage platform using ExxonMobil's Fast Drill technology extends more than six miles horizontally and more than 7,000 feet below sea level.

Utah Oil Lease Sales Continue to Plunge

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will offer six Utah parcels totaling just under 5,000 acres during a quarterly oil and gas lease auction May 25 -- two more parcels than the last sale, but far fewer than any other auction since 1998.

At the top of the list of reasons for the decline: economics. Natural gas prices are relatively low, experts say, and fields in Texas, Wyoming and the East Coast have proven richer and easier to get at than in Utah.

Lessons From the Green Gold Rush

In the fall of 1978, with the pain of the energy crisis still fresh, mechanical engineer John Marran sat in gnarled traffic on New York's Long Island Expressway and experienced what his family calls "the epiphany." His brother Bill, who ran the family's heating-oil business, had been tracking how homes of similar size, construction and number of inhabitants consumed vastly different quantities of fuel. The difference: the heating equipment.

Time to face the music

We're moving quickly from a world where we push nature around to a world where nature pushes back - and with far more power. So we better start figuring out how to live in that world, Bill McKibben writes in his new book, Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet. Here is an excerpt.

"Eaarth": Earth is over

According to Bill McKibben, the respected environmentalist and author of the pioneering "End of Nature," the planet Earth, as we know it, is already dead. Over a million square miles of the Arctic ice cap have melted, the oceans have risen and warmed, and the tropics have expanded 2 degrees north and south. Global warming has caused such pervasive and irreversible changes, he argues, that we now live on a new planet with a new set of environmental and climatic realities — and, as such, it deserves a new name: Goodbye, Earth. Hello, "Eaarth."

Climate pink slip / 4 New Eaarth not like the old Earth

Eaarth provides mountains of indisputable evidence that not only is climate change our future, it is our present. We have failed to keep atmospheric carbon dioxide below 350 ppm. It is now at 390 ppm, and climbing. Notwithstanding the distracting oil-industry sponsored pseudo-debate, we have indeed warmed the planet, and all hell is breaking loose right now.

Which U.S. cities are least and most wasteful?

San Francisco wins the title of America's "least wasteful" city, followed by Seattle, New York, Portland, Ore., and Boston, according to a survey of the 25 largest cities.

'Green' economy wants Baby Boomers

Want a new career? Were you born between 1946 and 1964? Green jobs are a 'natural fit' for baby boomers, says a recent report from the Council for Adult and Experimental Learning.

Philadelphia-area food pantries short of produce

Food pantries in the area are running low on fruits and vegetables because of bad weather in the South earlier this year and the Chilean earthquake.

The amount of produce at pantries supplied by Philabundance, the region's largest hunger-relief agency, is down 45 percent compared with last year, said Bill Clark, the agency's executive director.

At the Food Bank of South Jersey, there has been a 70 percent drop in fresh produce because of bad weather in the South, said Joe Njoroge, the agency's chief operating officer.

Things won't improve for at least three months, until local farmers are able to harvest produce, Clark said.

Governments Worried about Peak Oil

You'd think the American media would have been all over the story, as it signaled a major about-face in the official U.S. position on peak oil. As recently as 2008, the EIA's base case scenario was for oil supply to rise through 2030, and not decline until 2090!

Yet five days later when I Googled it, there was not one story from a major domestic publication. Only blogs and the usual peak oil sites had picked it up.

In my seasoned judgment, the American media blackout is deliberate.

Gasoline Declines Most in Seven Weeks After U.S. Sues Goldman

(Bloomberg) -- Gasoline fell more than 2 percent after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was sued by U.S. regulators for fraud, sending stocks lower and adding to concern that the economic recovery will slow.

Ghana's Tema refinery shuts due oil shortage

ACCRA (Reuters) - Ghana's 45,000 barrel-per-day Tema refinery shut down 10 days ago for an undetermined amount of time due to a lack of crude oil supplies, the managing director of the plant said on Tuesday.

"We ran out of crude and had to shut down," said Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) Managing Director Kwame Ampofo. "This happened because a supplier we relied on very much disappointed us and could not deliver as expected."

Stability in Niger Delta is Key to Nigerian Oil and Gas Wealth

The key to Nigeria's economic progress is stability in the Niger River Delta, where the bulk of the country's oil and natural gas is produced and where a smoldering militancy and sabotage of production facilities threaten progress for the region's 30 million residents, energy experts say.

Tesoro Shuts Down Mandan Refinery for Maintenance

(Bloomberg) -- Tesoro Corp. has begun shutting down most units in the Mandan, North Dakota, refinery for a maintenance turnaround, according to Lynn Westfall, a company spokesman. The work is expected to last about a month.

For Oil Sands Project, a Step Forward

A pipeline that would carry crude oil extracted from Canadian tar sand fields to refineries in Texas has edged a bit closer to approval with the State Department’s release of a draft environmental impact statement this month. It concluded that the project’s construction and operation would have “limited adverse environmental impacts.”

Schlumberger to Invest $100 Million in Rumaila Camp, Drilling

(Bloomberg) -- Schlumberger Ltd. will invest an initial $100 million in a base camp at Iraq’s Rumaila oilfield and a drilling joint venture in the country as improving security boosts expectations of a revival in oil output.

Russia mulls Ukraine gas price cut for role in energy sector

MURMANSK, Russia (Reuters) - Russia is considering a price discount in gas sales to Ukraine in exchange for participation in the country's energy sector, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin told reporters on Saturday.

Peabody, Consol Coal Mines Lead U.S. in Violations

(Bloomberg) -- Peabody Energy Corp. and Consol Energy Corp. operate the two coal mines that lead the U.S. in violations, with more than double the total of Massey Energy Co.’s operation where 29 people were killed this month.

Hedge Funds Face Higher Capital Requirements Under Senate Bill

(Bloomberg) -- Hedge funds would have to clear swaps and face higher capital requirements under rules proposed today by U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln that would reshape the $605 trillion over-the-counter derivatives market that helped trigger the financial crisis in 2008.

High time for us to gamble on wave energy

Weaning ourselves off fossil fuels now is essential, if we want security in the future.

At Upstate Campus, Saving Energy Is Part of Dorm Life

ITHACA, N.Y. — The Energy Star label, the federal government’s nod of approval for energy-efficient products, usually calls to mind household appliances like refrigerators and air-conditioners. But at Ithaca College, a campus known for its embrace of all things sustainable, two dormitories proudly wear the Energy Star label, too.

Bomb blasts rock China JV hydropower site in Myanmar

YANGON (Reuters) - A series of bombs exploded at a controversial hydropower project site being jointly built by a Chinese company in northern Myanmar on Saturday, just two days after bombs killed eight in the former capital of Yangon.

Amazon Dam Project Pits Economic Benefit Against Protection of Indigenous Lands

RIO DE JANEIRO — The indigenous leaders had a plan. They would unite for a last, desperate stand against the mammoth dam threatening their lands in the Amazon, vowing to give their lives, if necessary, to prevent it from being built.

“This will be our last cry for help,” said the chief of the Arara tribe, José Carlos Arara, after a meeting of leaders from 13 tribes last month. “We are not here to kill. We are here to defend our rights.”

Next Up: A Smarter Streetlight

The light-emitting diodes that are now common in traffic lights seem poised to move into more streetlights — and to get smarter.

Light-emitting diodes, known as LEDs, produce three or four times more light per watt of electricity than standard incandescent lamps do. They do not “burn out,” although they may lose brightness over time. Since traffic signals are always on, and maintaining them requires getting up many feet over the pavement of an intersection, they have been excellent candidates for new technology.

No American Left Inside

President Obama — about the most urban president I can recall — today urged Americans to reconnect with “the great outdoors.”

Couple makes it their mission to be 'stewards of God's creation'

"Hope for Creation: A Live Simulcast Event" is being billed as the largest-ever faith-based event involving Earth Day.

It also is part of a growing trend of Christians, especially evangelicals, taking up a "live lightly on the earth" philosophy that they long eschewed.

Ice cap thaw may awaken Icelandic volcanoes

OSLO (Reuters) – A thaw of Iceland's ice caps in coming decades caused by climate change may trigger more volcanic eruptions by removing a vast weight and freeing magma from deep below ground, scientists said on Friday.

Climate change a global security threat, says strategic study

LONDON, April 16 (UPI) -- Climate change is a global security threat that affluent nations as well as poor states need to confront at whatever cost to head off a catastrophic chain of events, the London International Institute for Strategic Studies said in a new study.

...The IISS said, "Climate change has been a key factor in the rise and fall of societies and states from prehistory to the recent fighting in the Sudanese state of Darfur."

The institute said climate change "drives instability, conflict and collapse but also expansion and reorganization.

A Trio of Oil Field Disappointments?

Neptune, Chicontepec & what about Thunder Horse

The Neptune Field, deepwater GOM, went from a peak production rate of about 50,000 bpd to around 16,000 bpd in a matter of a few months last year, reportedly because of rapidly rising water cuts.

Down below is an updated report on Chicontepec, in Mexico.

And then we have the recurring questions about exactly what is going on with Thunder Horse, also in the deepwater GOM. I am aware of reports of rising water cuts (from a "source"), but so far I have seen any actual Thunder Horse production data. BP's recent decision to shut-in about half the wells certainly looks suspicious (they are blaming equipment problems). And in any case, it appears that MMS data show about a 250,000 bpd drop in total GOM crude production from 9/09 to 12/09.


If we look at what these fields were projected to be producing--somewhere around a total combined rate of close to 500,000 bpd, versus what they are actually producing, perhaps as low as the 120,000 bpd range (depending on what is actually happening at Thunder Horse), we are seeing a huge gap between projections and reality. Makes one wonder how common this is worldwide.

With all due respect to WT, the obsession we have over monitoring individual fields is a lot like monitoring daily weather fluctuations when our main focus is monitoring climate. In the natural world, variations of size and productivity are to be expected, and tracking winners and losers becomes pointless.

Case in point: The model I recently formulated for labor productivity in business describes a huge dispersion in effective productivity rates. http://mobjectivist.blogspot.com/2010/04/business-as-entropic-warfare.html
Even though this is pure capitalism in action, the math behind the model derives from straightforward entropy principles and the huge range in productivity is to be expected from maximum entropy. This formulation includes all fluctuations implicitly as natural disorder. In fact the derivation that I use for labor productivity is exactly the same derivation that I used for the model for dispersive discovery of oil that I first proposed on TOD a couple of years ago.

Application of the Dispersive Discovery Model

I guess that it is fundamental human nature for people to become hypnotized by outliers, both big and small, but rest assured that nature takes care of this automatically and what we should really follow is the mean value of tracking a diminishing volume of search space.

But the question is to what extent Neptune and possibly Thunder Horse suggest a possible recurring pattern of production problems in the deepwater GOM, especially in the vicinity of Thunder Horse. If the production problem reports are correct at Thunder Horse, one begins to suspect that an industry cone of silence has descended around the field.

Didn't they announce a couple of weeks ago that there was a partial shutdown of Thunder Horse, in order to replace a temporary bypass with a permanent one?

If I understood the article correctly, the story of the shut-down only came out because of a leak from a former employee of a service company. But I wonder how much of the shut-down was required to modify the plumbing to handle rising volumes of water.

BP never comments on maintenance shutdowns, so if it's in the news, it's because someone leaked it.

After the story about the auditors wanting to reduce Chicontepec's reserves estimate, my first thought was "the Revisions are coming....the Revisions are coming!!"

Total world reserves can shrink on a dime without a barrel being pumped out of any field. All it takes a few paper/electronic adjustments of to the proposed proven reserves of some large fields.

Total world reserves can shrink on a dime without a barrel being pumped out of any field. All it takes a few paper/electronic adjustments of to the proposed proven reserves of some large fields.

Yes, that it has always been that way. Though in the past it was called "Reserve Growth". Now it is called "Reserve Shrinkage".

Ron P.

The original estimated Neptune URR were in the 100 to 150 mboe range. Now they are looking at about 33 mb of crude.

Have Petrobras speculated on future flow rates for their off shore fields? Be interested to know how their projections compare to GOM.

To put it bluntly, Mexico's $4.5 billion investment return from Chicontepec has been disappointing to say the least. Those that want want a good example of falling EROEI should use this field as an example.

MEXICO CITY, April 9 (Reuters)
Chicontepec pumped just over 29,000 barrels per day of oil at the end of 2009, less than half of what Pemex had said it would yield. The company scaled back its goal for the project to producing an average of 48,000 bpd this year, down from its previous target of 176,000 bpd.


While I don't have any hard data to back this up, after reading and posting at TOD for five years, my gut conclusion is that the overall net financial return from Brazil's deepwater offshore fields will be much smaller than now envisioned. However it may take a few more years of field development to get a better estimate on expected returns. Keep in mind that the US part of the GOM was mostly developed in the latter part of the age of cheap oil, and Brazil will not have the luxury.

But Brazil's deepwater was such a great story when it came out...new, underwater KSA...amazing how these stories hit sobering reality after the fact.

Again, with all due respect, you have made my point.

I would never isolate on a single data point or a small set of data points. That is exactly the opposite of what a valid stochastic analysis is all about. In the bigger picture, the results of deep-water GOM are mere fluctuations -- be they big or small.

I make this point because every once in a while it is good to remind people of this fundamental principle.

Now I realize, that for the individual investor, what goes on in the vicinity of Thunder Horse makes a big difference in profit and loss in his portfolio (of who I know frequent TOD). Yet, I don't give a flying crap about investors making money off of this knowledge as it makes not a whit of difference in the big picture either. You see, the individual investors when aggregated are subject to the same entropic fluctuations as anything else; you get winners and losers and things even out according to maximum entropy.

That points out the difference between people who do economics and those who apply econophysics. The whole reason for being of economics is to support prediction of financial reward and failure. Econophysics is the science of explaining what is happening. Unfortunately, understanding the latter does not allow one to make any money as econophysics predicts a zero-sum game over the long-haul.
In other words, everyone involved will know the ultimate resolution and so no one will gain a competitive advantage over any one else, and a zero-sum outcome will result. This is essentially the efficient market hypothesis played out to the extreme.

Of course our net export work is focused on the big picture, but the reason that I am focusing on Thunder Horse, et al, is precisely because I thought that they would make relatively minor contributions, when compared to ongoing depletion. And the only reason that my source contacted me about Thunder Horse was that I posted a note, circa 2007-2008, that fields like Thunder Horse would probably decline soon after hitting a peak production rate. Furthermore, Thunder Horse is frequently offered up as Exhibit "A" by the delusional Drill Baby Drill crowd as evidence of how offshore drilling will "save us."

Net export is more like it but using it for anything more than qualitative arguments is a bit suspect.

Countries themselves are political entities with arbitrary boundaries. When you take the net exports from all the countries and sum these together you find that it is like a zero-sum game and most everything cancels out. In essence, you might as well take the entire world aggregate and work that angle. The statistics turn out way better and the numbers turn become more accurate because of the way that the central limit theorem works. That is basic statistics.

All I can say about addressing the Drill, Baby, Drill crowd is that if a big discovery does occur, then they will use that fact against you. That was the reason for my bringing up the climate versus weather issue.

"When you take the net exports from all the countries and sum these together you find that it is like a zero-sum game and most everything cancels out."

Yes, but it kind of matters if you live in an importing or exporting country.

Those are arbitrary labels. Global corporations know no boundaries.

That is only because of abundant supply. If there is a shortage, any government can ban an export with the stroke of a pen (or may be even just a phone call).

Agreed. And they have. China banned coal exports during the last price spike.

Dear WHB --

I seriously try to follow your arguments, and understand your math, but I function on a more right-brain level, and I have to reduce the "maximum entropic principal" to something I can picture.

It comes out something like Keynes' comment:

The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is past the ocean is flat again.

The devil seems to me in the details, the particulars, not the "big picture."

I guess I know enough about thermodynamics to understand that in the universe as we know it, entropy tends to maximum. I accept that as a "natural law" without understanding why. But so what? I care about energy changes, not entropy changes -- my life is short.

The math behind entropic dispersion is actually quite a revolutionary and perhaps universal finding. I find it pretty exciting and would never have gotten to where I am with the give and take of the TOD crowd.

Yet I realize that not everyone can appreciate it, much like 99% of people will never fundamentally understand why a diode works the way it does.

Would you be willing to summarize "entropic dispersion?" Or perhaps you already have, and I missed it. Maybe in a post I can find and read?

If everything sums to zero, then there is no point in even talking about it.

What is important are the energy-dependent, relatively steady, states -- far from equilibrium -- that we call civilization on a large scale, or wealth on a small scale.

Or have I got your ideas all wrong?

And of course, not understanding why a diode works doesn't preclude using it.

Entropic dispersion algorithm :
The rate of some global activity has a mean or average value (for instance oil search rate). The statistical variance about this rate obeys the maximum entropy value. Next, solve these rates to completion over a number of sub-volumes that aggregate to a global volume.

This gives the entropic dispersion curve over time. It will turn into a Logistic curve if the mean accelerates over time and the subvolumes also follow a maximum entropy distribution.

That is all there is to it.

I have written top-level TOD stories on dispersion but if I kept it to this brevity, they would not have gotten published.

Web, well almost. However: In the first place, singularities-events correspond to heterogeneous series which are organized into a system which is neither stable nor unstable, but rather 'metastable', endowed with a potential energy wherein the differences between series are distributed... In the second place, singularities possess a process of auto-unification, always mobile and displaced to the extent that a paradoxical element traverses the series and makes them resonate, enveloping the corresponding singular points in a single aleatory point and all the emissions, all dice throws, in a single cast.

And that should settle the matter.

Ron P.

P.S. The italicized words are not mine; they are those of a Frenchman named Gilles Deleuze. I am not sure but I think he agrees with you.

I'm perfectly willing to reveal my ignorance.
How do singularities fit into a probability distribution?

Good eye, P66. Ron is pulling a fast one. See my next comment.

In no way do I want to diminish the contribution that Darwinian makes.
In accordance with my question, I state again that I have very limited abilities.
I happen to believe, possibly because I fail to understand those who are my elders/betters, that we are in for an oil crunch very soon, or perhaps because it is possible that ordinary people, like me, can have an inkling of the deeper spreadings of meaning, without fully understanding all the tails.
I would ask you, WHT to wonder if this has anything to do with such conjectures:
But in any regard, we need to find the simplest way forward.
In my simple fashion, I believe it is possible to implement solutions, even at this late stage.
There will be loss, but not complete loss.
But any who disregard the great worth of knowledge, so closely waiting to be applied, are actively working against our potential to succeed, in my opinion.
I am unhappy with such thinking.

Another very good catch P66. Within the past week, someone else has passed the idea of Random Matrix Theory on to me, and actually a co-worker has as well because I am the resident uncertainty expert where I work.

I started looking at the topic but got a little preoccupied and haven't pursued it further. I definitely will take another look. No doubt the idea is explaining some interesting behaviors. I am not doing anything special but invoking disorder; if what they are doing is at a multi-dimensional level there might be some relationship. Thanks.

Suppose you are an intellectual impostor with nothing to say, but with strong ambitions to succeed in academic life, collect a coterie of reverent disciples and have students around the world anoint your pages with respectful yellow highlighter.

A few people can distinguish between gibberish and concise scientific language. You know, I make quite an effort to understand what a specific researcher has written in a report or journal article. It takes a certain amount of motivation to make an attempt to figure out what the researcher is trying to say. Don't get me wrong, as I also get irritated when someone is overdoing the math or diving into the (wrong) weeds, but I then take it as a challenge to simplify what that person is trying to say. That's what a lot of engineers have a talent for -- trying to synthesize some of the abstract formulations from the world of scientific research into something more practical.

And not that I am doing anything necessarily practical, as my analyses will likely not turn into any kind of invention. And it hinges on a level of comprehension into the world of probability that actively resists intuition.

As a matter of fact, I do have a couple of algorithms named after me that are being used in physics to fit data to. These have to do with the concept of 3D reciprocal space with math that can barely be put into common English even by someone as talented as Sagan or Feynman. And no amount of intuition can prepare one for the world of reciprocal space. That's just a fact of life.

So I do have a sense of what it takes to come up with innovative physics ideas and I do have a sense of whether something is fundamentally right. I am also aware that I have a knack for doing this kind of thing.

The stuff I do here is just a hobby, yet I would stake my reputation on the significance of the results. While in graduate school I remember actually voting down some of my research that was destined for a conference. As I recall, my advisor was upset with me at the time for my trepidation, but in the long run, I knew I reserved good judgement in that decision. If that paper had gotten published, I think I would still probably just shudder at the thought of having that nonsense on the record.

Of course, blogging about scientific ideas and innovative concepts has never been tested before. Since when in history have we been able to get immediate feedback from people all over the world so quickly? TOD is about the best avenue I have run across for doing this, because I know I have gotten some tremendous feedback from people that actually understand what I am trying to do. I also do understand that not everyone will comprehend it and that it may get some nasty responses. As for the concept of fear of the unknown, I also do understand that. And I also know all about the phonies in the world of science, my recent favorite villain being Hendrik Schon of Bell Labs.


I am also stubborn, so I will give the explanation another shot. So here is an alternate take on my quicky explanation of entropic dispersion. This is in the form of a pseudo-code algorithm in the context of a Monte Carlo simulation. I left the narrative in place as comments. Again, nothing fancy here, but it explains the idea.

Full_Span : constant := 10_000_000.0
Num_Samples : constant := 1_000_000_000
Max : constant := 4.7e8
Histogram : array of Integer
for I in 1..Num_Samples loop  
  // The rate of some global activity has a mean or average value 
  // The statistical variance about this rate obeys the maximum entropy value
  // Scaled to a mean of unity, this becomes the natural log of a uniform variate  
  Dispersion := ln(Random(0.0..1.0))
  // For Monte Carlo draw from an ergodic sample of the entire state space   
  C := Random(0.0..1.0) * Full_Span     
  G := Dispersion*C*C  // This is an instance of compound growth
  // Solve these rates to completion over a number of sub-volumes
  M := Max * Random(0.0..1.0)
  if G <  M then         
    Bin := Log10(C)                  // Hasn't reached a constraint
    Bin := Log10(Sqrt(M/Dispersion)) // Reached a constraint    
  // Iteratively build a histogram from the Monte Carlo samples
  Histogram(Bin) := Histogram(Bin)+1
end loop

This simulation essentially explains this fit of Japanese labor productivity:

It stems from research that went into this post:

Usually the sign of a fraud is fancy phrases that never get translated to an equation or simulable code. So there you have it, a concise explanation matched to a simple simulation. The simplest ideas are usually the correct ones. Some people call this parsimony, and some people call this Occam's law. Most people have seen harder word problems than this in the back of a textbook.

I hope this gives people some context from where I am coming from, and thank you Ron for providing a point of discussion to respond to.

The simplest ideas are usually the correct ones.

I totally agree, however I for one do not find your explanations at all simple - in fact IMO they assume a knowlege of mathematics/statistics way, way above my graduate level maths (or what you are saying is complete BS, I have no way of telling).

IMO your 'simple' explanations are of no use without defining what you mean by such things as 'ergodic sample of the entire state space.'

I have learned not to trust any predictions/explanations based on statistics - IMO, like the weather, the future of the world is NOT predictable!

I for one do not find your explanations at all simple - in fact IMO they assume a knowlege of mathematics/statistics way, way above my graduate level maths (or what you are saying is complete BS, I have no way of telling).

Neither does anyone else Xeroid, that is the point of WHT’s whole dissertation. But I will give him credit, he does know how to use the internet, else he would never have found the page where his work was explained.

Postmodernism disrobed

Please do not get me wrong, I love 95 percent of what WHT usually posts. However in this case style has become an object of first importance, and what a style it is! For me it has a prancing, high-stepping quality, full of self-importance; elevated indeed, but in the balletic manner, and stopping from time to time in studied attitudes, as if awaiting an outburst of applause. It has had a deplorable influence on the quality of modern thought...

I love you WHT, but please try to write so that we lesser mortals can understand what you are trying to say.

Ron P.

I can err on the side of people interested in math speak, or I can resort to using analogies and metaphors. Realistically, when push comes to shove, all the heavy lifting occurs in the semi-formal world of math. Ultimately, I can't satisfy everyone.

WHT - I think most people here are at least somewhat interested in mathspeak, but your mathspeak is so specialized I would guess that no one here understands it.

I will see if I can find some other forums. Slashdot perhaps.

I would guess you would need a specialized mathematics forum, probably based in academia, to get the kind of comprehension and feedback you seem to want.

I get feedback all right. I think the obvious point is that no forum is perfect.

If I may in my own small way be encouraging, I found this post well worthwhile.
There was not much feedback (perhaps because it has been said before) yet this is something like the sharkfin that I think ought to be TODs logo.

Ummm, I understood it. Or at least I think I did.

Perhaps recreational maths are out of fashion, or perhaps working as a programmer distorted my view, but it isn't *that* complex. All undergrad maths, in fact.

Whether the relationship he draws is realistic is definitely a matter of conjecture, but it is a compelling enough case that it needs to be confronted on its own terms.

Agree, the math part is easy and the simulation doesn't require much of any special processing. The intuition part is hard because people aren't used to visualizing disorder as probabilities.

It's not the complexity. I would guess the people who post here are among the most intelligent there are, and can handle complexity. It's the way it's communicated.

Kind of like if someone were to come here and post in Japanese. Japanese people are welcome to post here. You don't have to be a genius to understand Japanese; everyone who grows up in Japan learns it. But if you post in Japanese here, most people aren't going to understand you.

Point, but try explaining Japanese history, culture, or legends without resorting to using some Japanese in the process.

I have seen WHT's work as trying to find a useful and predictive modeling structure as quite enlightening, but it is a mathematical endeavor and requires math to explain it. I think he does a rather good job of striking a balance, but sometimes you just need to break out the jargon to fully explain a point.

After all, it would be nice to be able to discuss the impacts of peak production on pipeline maintenance without having to explain why a stuck pig is bad, what a pig is, why it would get stuck in the first place.

Sure, but you would still have to define any Japanese words you used, and possibly explain the cultural context as well. You don't just drop it in there and expect people to figure it out.

After all, it would be nice to be able to discuss the impacts of peak production on pipeline maintenance without having to explain why a stuck pig is bad, what a pig is, why it would get stuck in the first place.

It would be, but if no one understands that, then you have to do the explaining.

IME, if a bunch of people are saying they don't understand, then there's a problem. People are far more likely to pretend to understand, or ignore the post; they don't want to seem rude or stupid. If they are actually speaking up, you probably need to consider adjusting the way you are communicating.

Perhaps you are right.

Many college degrees don't require anything beyond polynomial algebra or maybe basic differential algebra. Math higher than that has a decreasing audience the further along you go.

On the other hand, the information is readily available:

I suppose WHT should be providing these links himself as he brings in concepts that reach into math and/or modeling jargon if he's intending it to be more accessible to members of this site that haven't had the heavier maths, but he can't reasonably be expected to turn every analysis post into a course on Integral Calculus if he's going to bother posting at all.

I find that I usually have to explain what a heuristic http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heuristic is every time I make a comment.

Heuristic algorithms are often employed because they may be seen to "work" without having been mathematically proven to meet a given set of requirements.

WHT, do you seriously believe you are satisfying anyone? Perhaps there may be one or two on this list with a post graduate math degree that understands all your posts. But I submit that you should be writing for the other 99% of the readers of this list.

In the late 50s I read George Gamow's "Red Giants and White Dwarfs" and understood every word of it. That book got me hooked on science and authors of scientific books and essays. I have since read virtually every science essay Isaac Asimov wrote and understood every one of them. It is possible to write a deep scientific essay that the layman can understand. It is also possible to write an essay that could easily be understood by almost everyone yet sprinkle it with so much jargon and formulas that almost no one can understand it. The latter is exactly what you are doing WHT, and sad to say, few of us are impressed.

Ron P.

I still tend to get responses that help flesh out my ideas so I find it worthwhile.

I have long since realized this is a tough slog. You get nuggets where you can find them.

Darwinian, The book named "Red Giants and White Dwarfs" was written by Robert Jastrow in 1967. I have a copy in front of Me.

My family had the pleasure of providing Mr. Jastrow a place to stay during the launch of one of the Apollo moon missions.


I am not (nor am I able to) coming to anyone's defense here, but if you really mean

I have learned not to trust any predictions/explanations based on statistics - IMO, like the weather, the future of the world is NOT predictable!

then that is crazy.
For example, it was statistics that was used by John Hopkins to estimate that a lot of people were killed in Iraq, and the iraqbodycount way underestimates reality.
Most of modern thought is underpinned by statistics.
I should not go on.

Xeroid seems to be at odds with the model-based diagnostics approach that his employer pioneered. Its all statistics gathering and Bayesian inferencing.

These have to do with the concept of 3D reciprocal space with math that can barely be put into common English even by someone as talented as Sagan or Feynman.

While I can find no specific comment on the issue of translating mathematical concepts into English made by Sagan, Feynman, on the other, hand was clear and most unapologetic even when speaking to a lay audience.

His position is very clear and stated explicitly in the first 2 minutes or so of this lecture, which was part of his famous Messenger Lecture series at Cornell:

On the other hand he did have a very unique talent of making scientific concepts accessible and understandable by even the those who could not hope to be fluent in the language of mathematics.

The Relation of Mathematics & Physics.


Feynman's famous lectures on physics weren't even written exclusively by him !!!!

They were co-written by Leighton and Sands who did all the work of transcribing and polishing the classroom lectures.

Not that it means anything ... but on what amounts to a blog and a comment board, I do not have the benefit of an interactive lecture, a staff of editors, or a distinguished academic position.

Don't get me wrong, the lecture series is great and I studied that in detail while in school.

About the video, Feynman spoke

"In biology, for example, the action of a virus on a bacterium is unmathematical. If you watch it under a microscope, a jiggling little virus finds some spot on the odd shaped bacterium - they are all different shapes - and maybe it pushes its DNA in and maybe it does not. Yet if we do the experiment with millions and millions of bacteria and viruses, then we can learn a great deal about the viruses by taking averages. We can use mathematics in the averaging, to see whether the viruses develop in the bacteria, what new strands and what percentage; and so we can study the genetics, the mutations and so forth."

So that highlighted part is exactly what I am saying. Everything else follows.

How is it useful to the real world?

Behavior of disordered material perhaps.

One example is amorphous semiconductor transport.

In response to the Keynes quote "in the long run, we are all dead"...

"But the tragedy is that, on the contrary, we are already suffering the long-run consequences of the policies of the remote or recent past. Today is already the tomorrow which the bad economist yesterday urged us to ignore. The long-run consequences of some economic policies may be evident in a few months. Others may not be evident for several years. Still others may not become evident for decades. But in every case those long-run consequences are contained in the policy as surely as the hen was in the egg, the flower in the seed." Henry Hazlitt "Economics in One Lesson"

My personal peak oil relevant comment is: Those who fail to plan for the long run may not live to see much of the short run either... Sure, life is short, but that doesn't mean that it can't get shorter.

In the bigger picture, the results of deep-water GOM are mere fluctuations -- be they big or small.

WHT, with all due respect, you miss the point and I believe wrong on this point. Deep-water GOM if industry-announced discoveries and undiscovered resources realize their full potential, then deep-water GOM will reach almost 2 million barrels per day. The MMS expects, according to Figure 2 of the below link, shallow water GOM to be about 200 thousand barrels per day by 2015. And they expect deep-water GOM, if those "undiscovered resources" pan out, to produce about 1.9 million barrels per day.

Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Production Forecast: 2007 – 2016

Within the next 10 years, total GOM oil production is expected to exceed 1.7 million barrels of oil per day (MMBOPD), a projection based on existing shallow and deepwater operator commitments as shown in Table 2 and Figure 2. If industry-announced discoveries and undiscovered resources realize their full potential, production could reach 2.1 MMBOPD.

The report was written in 2006. As you can see their projections have been pretty close so far.

The US is non-OPEC's second largest producer. Whether they increase production of decline all depends on deep-water GOM production. The GOM peaked, so far, in September of 2009 at 1.731 mb/d. In January the GOM produced 1.551 mb/d. A trend could be developing but right now it is too early to tell.

My point is, deep-water GOM is far more than mere fluctuations. It is a major player in US oil production and whether US production starts another decline or continues the upward movement started last year, depends almost entirely on deep-water GOM.

Ron P.

I agree with you Ron but Web does make a valid point but only to a degree IMHO. I think the most important take-away from these stories would be an appreciation of how difficult it is to be correct in reservoir modeling. One can produce a very valid and reasonable production model for a new field. It might even be considered conservative by industry standards. But events like premature water influx can happen even when there’s little reason to anticipate. In the patch such unpredictable events are stuck in the “Sh*t Happens” folder. It’s good for folks to remember that even well founded and conservative expectations don’t always materialize.

It is also important for everyone to hear - again - just how complex the whole business of predicting how much oil or gas can be produced from a given field really is. Estimates are based on estimates that are based on estimates that are based on a bit of solid data from a core or borehole log that is representative of maybe a tiny fraction of the reservoir.

Estimates of original oil in place (OOIP) are based on measured values of porosity and permeability of the rock that comprises the reservoir, and those measurements are made from very VERY small samples of the reservoir, i.e., core or sidewall plugs, or cuttings, in combination with downhole geophysical logs. It is nice, and convenient, to think that such a sample is representative of the reservoir over its entire lateral and vertical extent, but with nearly all reservoirs, that is simply not the case.

There is much heterogeneity in stratigraphic sequences of sedimentary rock, both laterally and vertically, and at many scales, from a micropore on up. So, all OOIP estimates are going to be (or should be) revised with each and every new bit of information, whether it's a geologist's report on the petrophysical properties of core from a new well drilled a few sections away, or from the petroleum engineer's daily log of water cut, or from the changes in reservoir pressure as recorded by the engineer, or whether the pores are oil-wet or water-wet. The list goes on.

Estimates of OOIP are then used to generate estimates of how much oil can reasonably be predicted to be recovered from a given field through a given well. If those estimates need revision, as they invariably do, it is probably because the reservoir is more complex than we realize, and only with additional investigation can the complexity be identified, and then factored in with the now-revised estimates.

So if water cut "unexpectedly" increases at Thunder Horse, or Ekofisk, or Ghawar, or Field X, it is because we didn't know enough about the geology of the reservoir when production began to predict that the water cut would be such-and-such after a certain amount of time during which production had been Y barrels/day.

Complexity, not simplicity, rules in the hydrocarbon reservoirs of the world, and the geologists and petroleum engineers who work with these reservoirs are constantly, and I mean constantly, working to arrive at a better and more thorough understanding of just about every aspect of these reservoirs that can be imagined. And such an understanding just cannot be explained in a newspaper article, or a short clip on the evening news.

Complexity, not simplicity, rules in the hydrocarbon reservoirs of the world, and the geologists and petroleum engineers who work with these reservoirs are constantly, and I mean constantly, working to arrive at a better and more thorough understanding of just about every aspect of these reservoirs that can be imagined. And such an understanding just cannot be explained in a newspaper article, or a short clip on the evening news.

Made my point again. Complexity, if "complex" enough (in a statistical state space sense), reduces to disorder and entropy and there are ways to deal with entropy. Geologists and PE's cannot see the forest for the trees in this regard. Geologists don't have the training of physicists who know how to reduce complexity to manageable levels. Take as an example these differing viewpoints between Rutledge and a geologist:

Curve fitting "is a worthy competitor to a geological estimate" of remaining coal, says David Rutledge of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, a nongeologist who has produced such an estimate himself. Geologists beg to differ. "The whole notion of applying statistics to time series [of coal production] is fraught with danger," says energy resource geologist Peter McCabe of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in North Ryde, Australia. "I think what you see in Rutledge's presentation is a fundamental misunderstanding."

This misunderstanding is fundamental and will not soon be reconciled.

Rockman, an ever increasing chunk of world oil production will be coming from deep-water fields. But we have little history of them because so few have been in production for any length of time. So far I haven't heard of even one of them that has lived up to expectations. It just may be that deep water oil is not the panacea that it has been built up to be.

The cornucopians and the peak oil deniers keep harping on all those gigantic seep water fields that have recently been discovered. Recent deep-water discoveries off Brazil, Nigeria and the GOM have shouting and dancing in the streets. But if WHT is right, that these are small data points rather than very large data points then the dancing should stop immediately.

Ron P.

And another good point for folks to appreciate about these little production snags in the Deep Water fields. If production problem A occurs with one well in a twenty well onshore field I shut that one well down and in a few weeks move a work over rig in to fix the problem at the cost of $200,000. Same problem in a Deep Water field: wait 6 to 18 months for a Deep water rig to become available. Spend $2 million to just mobilize the rig to the field (I once mobilized a rig from west Africa to Deep Water Brazil. Cost just to get the rig to the location: $33 million). Then spend $600,000/day to fix the problem in 10 days …if I get real lucky. And then sometimes I have to shut in the other 19 wells on the platform and loose 200,000 bbls of oil income per day. And after I move the rig off a little surprise: when I try to put the other 19 wells back on production one only comes back at half the previous rate and another well won’t produce at all. So now I wait months to get a rig back to fix those wells. And, by the way, the fix I tried on the first well didn’t work and will be permanently shut in waiting to be lugged and abandoned. Flush that $8 million repair bill.

Such is the world of Deep Water production ops.

What I would like to see, guys, is an accurate guage of cost of production in deep GOM production, together with an accurate estimate of recoverable reserves. Cost figures need to include exploration, test drilling, full production drilling and maintenance, and transportation costs.

A comparison with shallow water sites would be good, and if there is an incremental increase by depth, that would be a fun statistic to use. I think you can see where this is going, so if anyone has any part of the picture, I'd love to hear. It will help with the next chapter of "Convergence."



That makes two of us zap. The drilling costs can be estimated to some degree. But even if I drilled a well identical to one costing $100 million my cost could be $150 million. True story....my well had problems and the cost overrun was $50 million. And it was a dry hole. that's another cost factor you didn't mention. Not only a dry hole but pretty well condemned the entire prospect. No new field to charge the total cost off (around $200 million) so where does it end up in the talley? The subsea completion hardware and the topside costs can vary greatly. You're pretty much stuck with what the company press releases offer. And those won't include the overhead costs of which seismic data can be a biggie.

And as inaccurate as the cost factor may be the reserve estimate is even tougher. Even when you follow standard industry methods the recoverable reserve number can vary greatly for two analysts studying the same field. And their answers might differ greatly from the actuaL URR. Look at some of the indications of premature depletion for Thunder Horse and others.

And even if by some magic you came up with an accurate value for these two factors it's tough to predict profitability as that will depend on oil/NG prices many years in the future.

That's sort of where I expected to wind up, Rock. A fairly simple statement that "all the low hangin fruit has been picked over" comes up with little meaning when you don't know what the more difficult stuff will cost.

First of all, projecting possible, let alone likely, investment curves becomes more and more a guess. Economic fluxuations and interest rate variations blow away the best guess, and when we are all done, all we can say is that "Oil will cost a lot more in the future." Will it become impossible? Who knows? And, more to the point, how can we get anyone to take us serious if we are guessing?

Still, we are no worse than the economic doctorates who pontificate their guesses as if they were talking about serious scinece. I just get frustrated... I have been on this point, trying to make some sense of it, forever.

I have a feeling that some mathy/graphy types might be able to help visualize what I want, but when I read WHT's stuff it loses me entirely.

I will have to keep plodding along... maybe I will be able to understand what is missing right now.



... an ever increasing chunk of world oil production will be coming from deep-water fields. ...

FWIW, statistically, I bet it will be a decreasing chunk, since I think oilsands extraction is more feasible.
Of course, I hope we leave all this foolishness behind ASAP, and move with as much rapidity as we can muster to a nuclear powered world. I have asked others, and I believe there is still time, although just barely.

That is the most interesting point. You really have to know very little about the actual geology, just the probability and statistics of bean-counting.

The reason I brought up the labor productivity model, and the excellent agreement I get, is that all the vagaries and varieties in individual productivities smear out so that details no longer matter. In the case I looked at, the entire pool of Japanese labor productivity boils down to essentially a characterization based on one number, a kind of maximum productivity level. This turns out as another exercise in bean-counting which obeys maximum entropy principles.

This is a huge finding and should send repercussions throughout the economic establishment, if it weren't for this discussion taking place anonymously on a few blogs.

If I could get someone like David Goodstein's attention, or David Rutledge, or perhaps Stephen Chu or some other physicist that understands the ideas of statistical mechanics I might be able to generate some momentum.

WHT: You are technically right. However, if bigoil gets unlucky a few too many times in the deep water, they may simply decide further deep water development isn't worth the risk. Because human psychology, and even good faith risk estimation depends upon a smaller than ideal sized dataset, the luck or lack of luck of early pioneer projects can have a big influence on future behavior.

Yet with exponentially increasing levels of technology, we will eventually know where all the oil is. This is built into the analysis as a kind of Moore's law.

People don't realize this but the exponential built into the logistic is actually a technology accelerated exponential search function. So that is covered in the behavior. One team may get "de-motivated" but the next team with better technology will search it out for completeness and thus verify that nothing exists there. That is what happens in the tail of diminishing returns.

Thunder Horse appears to have 3 lease codes G09866 G09867 G09868

Adding them all together I get the following rough daily production figures for Thunderhorse

Month  BPD
Jan 09 0
Feb 09 21,061
Mar 09 68,020
Apr 09 97,354
May 09 97,525
Jun 09 41,339
Jul 09 132,494
Aug 09 131,742
Sep 09 129,000
Oct 09 140,702
Nov 09 79,555
Dec 09 129,682

Jan 10 120,238

That's an average production of approx 98 kbpd since startup and approx 122 kbpd between July 2009 and January 2010.

Undertow, thanks a million for this data. I would like to track this from month to month. Can you give us the link where this data can be found.

Thanks again,

Ron P.


They don't make it easy but the raw data can be found here


Field by Field monthly production data is in the OGORA file (one for each year) at http://www.gomr.mms.gov/homepg/pubinfo/freeasci/product/freeprod_ogora.html

I had to cross reference the Thunderhorse location info ( Mississippi Canyon Blocks 775, 776, 777 and 778, in the Boarshead Basin ) to find the Thunder Horse data. It looks like there may have been a new well just come on line as well (lease code G19997) in January which adds about 10kb/d. Fairly sure that's them all.

Gas production in January (including new lease code G19997) was about 120 mcf/day (supposed to be 200 mcm/day).

EDIT: Think I've found some more Thunderhorse production in MC 822 (Lease Code G14658). This is a big one as it adds 66,000 bpd to January production. So Thunder Horse was close to 200kbpd in January - that's much better for BP.

Sorry for the confusion but I've found conflicting info on the Thunder Horse location and lease details.

OK Production at Lease Code G14658 for the last few months

Oct 63k
Nov 62k
Dec 58k
jan 66k

This should be added to my figures above. So Thunder Horse has been reporting on average roughly 180-200 kbpd in recent months (excepting November at about 140kbpd).

So in summary we have lease codes.

G09866 G09867 G09868 G14658 G19997 all relating to Thunder Horse. Unless anyone knows of more.

Thanks. Given that the nameplate capacity of TH, the fabled 250 kb/d, is 21.7% of total Fed GOM it is worth paying attention to, IMO.

Here's what the Wiki Megaprojects gives for total US projects + EIA production - only one onshore project is listed, btw:

	Wiki	Annual Prod
2003	279	1559
2004	282	1453
2005	210	1282
2006	70	1299
2007	255	1277
2008	329	1152
2009	270	
2010	230	
2011	115	
2012	50	
2014	90	
2015	200	

2009 January to July YOY for the GOM from the EIA averaged 135.29 kb/d increase, after that you get sharp jumps upward due to rebounding from 2008 hurricanes, so dunno how the GOM is improving. Nov 2009 is 294 kb/d higher than July 2008, right before production was shut in for Gustav. Anybody have a rundown of the MMS numbers for total GOM?

Anybody have a rundown of the MMS numbers for total GOM?

As posted by Starship Trooper but available at http://www.gomr.mms.gov/homepg/fastfacts/pbpa/pbpamaster.asp (or from the raw tables)

1/2009, 1.273
2/2009, 1.315
3/2009, 1.347
4/2009, 1.451
5/2009, 1.544
6/2009, 1.541
7/2009, 1.707
8/2009, 1.708
9/2009, 1.731
10/2009, 1.674
11/2009, 1.51
12/2009, 1.483
1/2010, 1.551

July 2008 was 1.36 according to the MMS so November 2009 production was 150 kbpd higher.

I also want say thanks for digging out the data. I gave up on trying to navigate the MMS website. I am still a little puzzled by the January datum. I thought that production started in 2008.

In any case, it would appear that the combined production from the three fields--Neptune, Chicontepec & Thunder Horse--that I listed at the top of the thread is about one-third of what the projections were.

I also want say thanks for digging out the data. I gave up on trying to navigate the MMS website

Wish I had done as it hasn't half given me a headache - writing SQL queries definitely wasn't what I had planned for the day :-)

I've since found the earlier startups at Thunder Horse under a different Lease Code. These have start dates ranging from November 2004 through November 2008.

Adding it all together it seems as if Thunder Horse is running maybe about 75% capacity (assuming the numbers are to be believed) rather than the 50% my earlier values suggested.

One Production platform but 5 Production Blocks (MC 775, 776, 777, 778, 822) and 5 Lease codes (G09866, G09867, G09868, G14658, G19997)!!

Now here's something a bit strange. You mentioned water cut previously. For the oldest Thunder Horse wells (2008 or older) the following is reported in January 2010

Oil     Gas     Water
472358	364687	315660 
338401	253630	263601
530827	381519	287287
640786	607723	39432

No water is reported for the more recent wells which came online last year (Field is Zero).

Now here's something a bit strange. You mentioned water cut previously

Here is the summed production data for Thunder Horse South pre-2009 wells - note oil production down to less than 50% of peak and the rise in water production. This is clearly the problem area and the question has to be is it a matter of time before all the newer wells start dropping off rapidly and if so can BP compensate with more drilling? I note that they still seem to be drilling new wells with some new production coming online in 2010

I've found an easier way to extract the info if you know the lease codes in advance. See link below.


In any case, it would appear that the combined production from the three fields--Neptune, Chicontepec & Thunder Horse

I decided to go look for Neptune and it seems that no production has been logged since October 2009. No entries are in the MMS OGARA files for November, December or January. For October production was listed as 15.8 kbpd (design 50kbpd).

Thunder Horse appears to have 3 lease codes G09866 G09867 G09868

Adding them all together I get the following rough daily production figures for Thunderhorse

Please see my corrected figures in thread which add about 60-70 kbpd to these figures because I'd omitted Lease Codes G14658 G19997

Thanks again, undertow.

	         EIA	 MMS	Diff
Jan-2009	1428	1273	155
Feb-2009	1428	1315	113
Mar-2009	1417	1347	70
Apr-2009	1445	1451	-6
May-2009	1467	1544	-77
Jun-2009	1464	1541	-77
Jul-2009	1540	1707	-167
Aug-2009	1600	1708	-108
Sep-2009	1650	1731	-81
Oct-2009	1650	1674	-24
Nov-2009	1665	1510	155
Dec-2009		1483	
Jan-2010		1551	

Dunno how typical this discrepancy is. Certainly every time I examine EIA/IEA/BP numbers I get substantial differences, even with OECD members and mundane things like total consumption. Why aren't they all on the same page? I know BP does odd things like leave biofuels out of their total oil production figures, but do they deliberately ignore consumption of some products too?

I also recall the posts about discrepancies between EIA and RRC numbers for NG that DownSouth posted about last year. We need to count the same beans, people! Kidney or Lima, can't be both!

One thing of note here is that although Fed GOM is listed by the EIA as 1,665 in November they then applied an "Adjustment" of more than half a million barrels per day to Padd 3 in November (in order to balance). Sometime in the last 24 hours they have removed that adjustment again. So never mind different agencies - the EIA itself apparently can't make up its mind what US production was in November.

Yesterday it said 4,938 mmbpd. Today it says 5,466 mmbpd


You did such a nice job of tracking down the other lease codes (note: I evetually found the same ones you did) but as you discovered, you really have to work at it (as well as getting at surface versus bottom blocks).

Now, if only the EIA could make up it's mind. The update time is shown as 4/15/2010 4:17 PM (cell F17) but it takes a while for their IT staff to get it up on the site. We probably were not the only ones to notice this.

Remember, a mind is a terrible thing!

With all due respect to WT, the obsession we have over monitoring individual fields is a lot like monitoring daily weather fluctuations when our main focus is monitoring climate. In the natural world, variations of size and productivity are to be expected, and tracking winners and losers becomes pointless.

This is a completely false analogy (and I suspect - and hope - you know it) ... you can talk all the scientific gibberish you like (and you do talk a lot of it down-thread, Hubble - and I have two science degrees, so I am not often sucked in by gibberish) - but your reality remains, on a forum relating to Peak Oil, WT's comments in relation to the quite poor performance (wrt to projections v actuals) of three key fields is inherently interesting, and possibly quite significant. No amount of doggerel-code and talk about "entropic dispersion", or whatever, comes close to being as useful or as interesting.

And please don't play the Christian Martyr card ... where when someone attacks you, you feel so good because you believe you are right (and even righteous). Sad to say - whatever your scientific specialism might be, and however good at it you might be - you completely missed the boat on this.

Sorry WHT but the news that Saudia Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, is starting to build nuclear power plants because they want to become less reliant on oil in the near future is inevitably going to have more impact on me than any of your marvellous mathematical models.

( see article above-
' Saudi Arabia sets up nuclear energy science centre ')

"Thus the use of alternative, sustainable, reliable sources to produce electricity and desalinate water reduces reliance on hydrocarbons ...extends the lifespan of hydrocarbon resources and preserves it as a source of income for a longer time,"

When the Saudis tell you that they are desperate for non-hydrocarbons sources of energy, you don't need a 'Dispersive Discovery Model' to know that the jig is up!

Okay, so then we can use the methods to predict resource limitations of uranium.

The Neptune Field, deepwater GOM, went from a peak production rate of about 50,000 bpd to around 16,000 bpd in a matter of a few months last year, reportedly because of rapidly rising water cuts.

Marathon Oil Corporation Q1 2009 Earnings Call Transcript


Paul Sankey - Deutsche Bank
Good afternoon, everyone. Just on Neptune, you mention that was the DD&A impacts, I don't see a volume impacts and that would be the specific part of the question. Could you also talk a little bit more about more generally, what went wrong there, in terms of the news that you've given us today? Thanks.

Dave Roberts
Paul, I guess we have seen volume declines and they won't speak specifically to that. That's seems to be stabilizing a little bit, I think, what we said from the beginning there is that's a very complex and compartmentalized reservoir and we're seeing some of those effects. By and large, we generally would like to throw a questions of that nature to the operator BHP and let them talk about what they're seeing from the performance of the field.

Neil McMahon - Sanford Bernstein
Just a few questions again, maybe going back to Neptune and I know you probably don't want to answer much more on this since you know its operator, but I just wanted to see if I could hear you properly been settled in the UK, was it a 70% or 17% write down on the reserves and versus all of the first part.

Dave Roberts

i think "a very complex and compartmentalized reservoir" means: "we don't know what the he11 is going on."

The Chicontepec project was a Hail Mary pass version of "Drill, Baby, Drill" constrained by the lack of infrastructure and political reality of Pemex as a patronage entity.
Sadly, Mexico is hooped, the complex geology of the field could only be exploited by American style independents in a Middle Bakken type of boom.

From first story:

You'd think the American media would have been all over the story, as it signaled a major about-face in the official U.S. position on peak oil. As recently as 2008, the EIA's base case scenario was for oil supply to rise through 2030, and not decline until 2090!

Yet five days later when I Googled it, there was not one story from a major domestic publication. Only blogs and the usual peak oil sites had picked it up.

In my seasoned judgment, the American media blackout is deliberate.

I am not saying this is the primary reason, but important news stories tend to get squeezed out if other stories are at the top of the queue. 1.Volcano plume 2. Goldman Sachs fraud.

Another story that some have labeled bigger than Watergate, the destruction of torture tapes, also probably gets knocked off the queue because of this. The news consumer can only digest 1 or 2 stories at a time and the mainstream news supplier knows this.

But then again, Nelder is probably right.

From the linked article:

Now we know that the oil and gas industry, as well as the world's governments, are not only aware of the peak oil threat... they too are deeply worried about it.

Worried enough to huddle behind closed doors, away from the press. Worried enough to formulate plans to control price volatility. Worried enough to agitate for more transparent data. Worried enough to begin planning for a future of relentlessly declining energy.

But not worried enough to tell the American people the truth... not just yet.

Perhaps the PTB want to break the bad news to the people slowly, gently.

A conspiracy theory type buddy claims that the plethora of disaster movies released in the last few years is a deliberate move by the PTB to mentally prepare the polpulace for a less-than-ideal future. I pointed out that disaster movies have been around for decades. "Exactly", he responds. He says that "they" have known about the coming disaster for years, and that they want an entire generation to be mentally prepared. Talk about mental.

This guy denies peak oil. I guess he finds it too boring. Methinks you are correct, Web. The masses can only absorb 1 or 2 concepts at a time.

My "Iron Triangle" thesis is not that there is an organized conspiracy to downplay Peak Oil; it's that the three legs of the Iron Triangle--Most of the Oil Industry; Most of the media; Most of the auto/housing/finance sectors (and discretionary spending dependent sectors in general)--believe that it is in their best interest to downplay concerns about resource constraints:

Net Oil Exports & The "Iron Triangle"

My "Iron Triangle" thesis is not that there is an organized conspiracy to downplay Peak Oil; it's that the three legs of the Iron Triangle--Most of the Oil Industry; Most of the media; Most of the auto/housing/finance sectors (and discretionary spending dependent sectors in general)--believe that it is in their best interest to downplay concerns about resource constraints.

Isn't this another of those "distinctions without a difference"?

I'm also reminded of the phrase "functional equivalent of conspiracy."

To me it's more like the functional equivalent of an "invisible hand" in the marketplace. Everyone profits more from assuming abundance than from assuming scarcity -- provided you can convince others of the possibility of scarcity.

Soylent Green was about global warming, resource depletion, dead oceans, overpopulation, mass starvation -- it came out in ?1975? and remains a cult classic, maybe the gold standard for the disaster movie genre.

There doesn't need to be a conspiracy. Everyone just tries to make money the best they can, and we see the result as the summation of billions of individual efforts. Garrett Hardin called it The Tragedy of the Commons a decade before.

But how does "assuming abundance" jive with your Keynes quote of "in the long run, we are all dead" ?

So there are 4 possibilities
1. assume abundance, but know that we are all dead in the long run (the white lie theory)
2. assume abundance, and expect BAU (the delusional principle)
3. assume scarcity, and expect partial BAU (the pollyana principle)
4. assume scarcity, and know that we are all dead in the long run (the scientific approach)

The funny thing about bringing up Keynes is that Keynes did quite a bit to advance the ideas of probability. In the intervening years, economists mashed up and completely confused the differences between the ideas of risk and uncertainty in coming up with their theories.

The distinction between risk and uncertainty has a place in the econophysics
literature as well. Schinckus (2009) criticizes “neoclassical” economics for reducing
uncertainty to risk and treating risk with “Gaussian” models. He contrasts this approach
to risk and uncertainty with those of Knight, Keynes, and Hayek, who are cited favorably
in this regard. The “main objective” of econophysics, Schinckus says, “is to provide a
more operational form of uncertainty than neoclassical economics by developing several
ways of modeling this notion” (p. 4421). Uncertainty is modeled as one or another form
of entropy, such as “Shannon entropy” (4421).

from http://alpha.fdu.edu/~koppl/BRACE.pdf


I really enjoy your posts, and I do try to follow the physics and math. But you are way out of my league.

Keynes, as I understand the quote, and what I have read of and about him, did not mean that nothing matters, "because in the end, we are all dead." He meant, something like we need to find meaning in the short run, and we have to try to make decisions that will benefit the future -- to the best of our understanding of what that might be -- or at least, not close off possibilities to our posterity. I believe he was a thoroughly moral individual, and cared intensely about society and civilization.

My problem with "zero sum games" and "entropy" is that it can lead people to either indifference or despair -- and to what I consider to be a gross misunderstanding of what Keynes probably meant.

Yes, in the end, the Universe either becomes grey, uniform goo of maximum entropy, or it collapses back on itself and starts the big bang all over again -- but that is irrelevant in the context of a human life.

My problem with "zero sum games" and "entropy" is that it can lead people to either indifference or despair -- and to what I consider to be a gross misunderstanding of what Keynes probably meant.

Exactly ... Hubble isn't "way out of your league" at all ... he might well be in a league of his own, but that does not increase his relevance or perception - on Keynes, Peak Oil, or anything else.

Fact is most of Keynes ideas are being ignored.

If only Keynes was being ignored, we should all be so lucky. Instead we are running (in the US) a 1 TRILLION dollar deficit in a mistaken attempt for the government to "stimulate the economy".

Straight from wikipedia "Keynesian economics has provided the theoretical underpinning for the plans of President Barack Obama of the United States, Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom, and other global leaders to ease the economic recession."

When high levels of inflation hit us in the near future, we can all thank Keynes for his short term solutions... After all, in the long run, we're all dead anyway.

Which just goes to show, say ONE THING that people can use to their advantage and they'll happily forget everything else you've ever said.

Would you prefer a few other Keynes quotes?

"To dig holes in the ground", paid for out of savings, will increase, not only employment, but the real national dividend of USEFUL GOODS AND SERVICES. It is not reasonable, however, that a sensible community should be content to remain dependent on such fortuitous and often wasteful mitigations when once we understand the influences upon which effective demand depends" (emphasis added)

"I expect to see the State, which is in a position to calculate the marginal efficiency of capital goods on long views and on the basis of the general social advantage, taking an ever greater responsibility for directly organising investment" (because the state does such a good job with organizing investment)

"Thus public works EVEN OF DOUBTFUL UTILITY may pay for themselves over and over again at a time of severe unemployment, if only from the diminished cost of relief expenditure" (emphasis added)

"But whilst there may be intrinsic reasons for the scarcity of land, there are no intrinsic reasons for the scarcity of capital." (those deep water drill rigs grow on trees apparently)

"We reach a condition where there is a shortage of houses, but where nevertheless no one can afford to live in the houses that there are" (as versus a shortage of homes and those scarce homes being cheap apparently)

"By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens...There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose." (and yet he recommends policies that cause inflation)

"I work for a Government I despise for ends I think criminal." (Apparently quiting never crossed his mind though)

"We will not have any more crashes in our time."
Conversation with Felix Somary in 1927

It was a weak attempt at humor, I'll admit, but you have a few good examples in there of things that he said that are widely ignored because they are inconvenient and do not benefit the current elites.

Modern economics is one part science and 3 parts religion. There are a few corners of people really trying to change that, but I'm afraid they'll need to wait for the old guard to die off.

His ideas on probability theory. He had two sides.

Keynes had two sides. He wrote a massive tome called "Treatise on Probability". I don't think this is a "gross misunderstanding of what Keynes probably meant". Many people consider that this work notably contributed to the philosophical and mathematical underpinnings of probability theory.

You approach Keynes from the other angle, that of economic theorist.

I think the distinction is important.

What WT is saying is just another way of saying "groupthink" or "cultural narratives" or "stories" or "memes" or "networks of conversations" or all the other conversational mechanisms that get mentioned from time-to-time here.

These are, in my view, distinct from actual knowledge that is being purposefully withheld and based on conversations with my wife (a defense attorney) I'm quite sure she would say the law would clearly see the distinction, too.

"Background conversations" (as opposed to foreground ones, like the one we are having now) play a giant role both in individual and collective human behavior. I've been studying background conversations for almost a decade now and I find them fascinating.

WT, I've always thought your hypothesis hinged on the "their best interests" being aligned, and that there was not some literal conspiracy.

I didn't think there was necessarily a planned conspiracy as much as a conspiracy of convenience.

But if this, from the article in the links above, is true ...

Media Blackout at the World's Biggest Energy Forum
On March 30-31, the biennial International Energy Forum (IEF) summit took place in Cancun. Attendees at the world's largest energy forum included ministers from 64 countries, members of the IEA and OPEC, and other dignitaries.

In parallel, Cancun also hosted the International Energy Business Forum, attended by some 36 companies including the top executives of China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell.

In short, the twin conferences were a Very Big Deal.

But when I searched Google News for stories containing the exact phrase "International Energy Forum" and published during the conference, it wasn't until the seventh page of results that I found any stories from major American media outlets, and those stories were strictly focused on specific issues like oil and gas prices. They said not a word about peak oil.

A journalist from the oil and gas media organization Platts explained what happened on his blog. All media were barred from the IEF conference room, and exiled to a press room where the presentations were shown on monitors with no sound. When reporters asked for sound, the monitors were turned off. All sessions were then declared to be private, and the reporters that had come from around the globe to cover the conference were simply shut out...

Reality, or Tin Foil Hat pablum?

It seems to me that, as in politics, the petro industry is simply a culture of optimism (as opposed to TOD's culture of pessimism/skeptisism). What a peak oiler may view as bad news, an indication of decline, is just a setback to folks that spend billions punching holes in the ground planning to make a profit. It's not a conspiracy, just a different group mindset. They can't take these risks thinking they're going to fail. They don't want to hear/read about it either. They just want to move on to the next prospect.

Hey, I am an optimist. I am optimistic in the idea that I can single-handedly model global economic activity. Without a sense of optimism, I would have given up a long time ago.

I think the real pessimists are the petro industry, in their negative outlook for how people can handle the truth.

I am optimistic in the idea that I can single-handedly model global economic activity.

I suppose for some people, there is no end to breath-taking hubris ... but I guess by definition, breath-taking hubris has no limits. Desist.

Everyone likes to set a lofty goal, right?

I think it's obvious that the oil companies, like most corporations, aren't in business to dispense truth. They are in it for the profit and that mostly means short term profits. If the release of truthful data will negatively influence their bottom line, they won't do so unless forced.

They may be real pessimists, as West Texas and Rockman and others have suggested, since they know about Peak Oil, but to admit this would likely destroy their markets in the long run. The oil companies are like drug dealers in that they need buyers, i.e., consumers, for their products. Also, the value of their stock is a function of their reserves, thus, like ARAMCO, they are more likely to inflate those reserve numbers, as Shell did in Oman. If their stock price crashes, the companies can't raise new funding thru further sales of stock.

BTW, have you included Climate Change in your global economic model? There are indication that there are thresholds, aka, "Tipping Points", within the climate system, which, once passed, prevent the return to previous conditions. And, there are short term events, such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, which can have large impacts or which could trigger shifts thru other threshold type situations.

E. Swanson

Right on. In the model, a max constraint plays a key role. If a tipping point or critical point is associated with the constraint, it seems as if we might be able to direct a correlation with the time-series variation of the data. I am open to these ideas, thanks.

I once did work with matrix based state-space models using second order differential equations. Your use of the term "max constraint" doesn't mean much to me in regard to the situation with climate.

As I understand it, we know that climate shifts, such as the Younger Dryas, can happen rather quickly due to one off events, such as the flooding which is said to have caused the YD. Similar results might result from changes in the fresh water budget of the Arctic Ocean and Nordic Seas, although a longer time period would be required for an impact on the Thermohaline Circulation. We also know of historical situations which resulted from a statistically rare event, such as the Krakatoa, Tambora or Kuwae eruptions, which caused major problems with agriculture in periods with much smaller world populations.

I doubt that your modeling efforts would/could include such events, even though we know of changes in the Arctic which might portend a shutdown in the THC and also of locations where other large volcanic eruptions are rather likely. In a similar vein, I suspect you won't be including the effects of a nuclear war (however small) fought over oil or other fossil energy sources...

E. Swanson

Good point Ghung. That's why I tease westexas all the time about being a wildcatter. When ever someone presents a wildcat prospect to me I'll tease them about their economic analysis (that's if I think they have a good sense of humor). A simple question: “Why did you waste time running economics on an exploratory well?” Every exploratory well has a good/great economic analysis. How can it not: there's a minimum of data otherwise it would be classified as a low risk development well. And the probability of success used in the computation is arbitrary to some degree...often a great degree.

So if all exploratory wells have great economic indicators how do you pick and choose? My approach is simple: is it a logical (though risky) expectation? For instance if they are postulating a reserve target of 50 million bbls of oil in a trend where the largest field discovered in the last 40 years was 10 million bbls. Not very logical. And it doesn’t have to be a good chance of success if the reward/risk ratio is good. Two months ago I drilled a well that had a legitimate potential of finding $1.5 billion of oil/NG. And the cost was only $3.5 million. It was a dry hole but I would drill it again if the same prospect came thru the door.

Optimism is essential. In my 35 years I’ve seen many companies go under. Never saw one fail for drilling a lot of dry holes. I’ve seen many fail who drilled very few dry holes. The ones who failed were the ones that didn’t drill enough successful wells. Some of the most successful companies drilled a lot of dry holes but also found a lot of grease in the process. The aggressive sometime win…sometime fail. The timid always fail.

I don't think it's a deliberate blackout. And the story broke before the volcano plume and the Goldman Sachs fraud became news.

The government issues this type of report all the time. In fact, this particular report was issued a month before the Guardian reported on it. I posted it. Nobody here got excited, or even noticed, so why should anyone else?

Government reports are just plain boring.

That said, I have seen more coverage in the MSM lately. The Miami Herald, for example. It's a re-post of an article from Cars.com, but still. Given how strapped the media is these days, I suspect there will be a lot more holes in coverage, which will be filled by blogs.

But that's partly why I mentioned the torture tapes destruction story as a comparison. This is also a boring government report but the evidence it presents are conclusive of a cover-up (likely soon to be couched as incompetence).

I don't think it's a deliberate blackout

I agree Leanan. I spoke with my Congressman this afternoon and I think the MSM shares his opinion that technology (nuclear in particular) will fill the gap (along with the Bakken--"because it contains 100 billion barrels of reserves and it only costs $16/barrel to produce"). There are no amount of facts or reasoning that can counter someone whose belief system is the technology god. Frightening.

So long as you understand, as even George Monbiot is beginning to, what the choices are.

When Nelder quotes the le Monde, it is really the blog of le Monde, not the newspaper itself. Also, I understood that Glen Sweetnam claimed he was quoted out of context (I thought I saw a quote on Drumbeat, but haven't taken the time to look for it)--so it is not really an official EIA position. So Nelder has perhaps somewhat overstated the situation.

Re: Next Up: A Smarter Streetlight

A number of our street lights have been converted to LED and the glare from these fixtures is painful, especially in wet weather. Due to the directional nature of the light, the LED arrays are angled outward to ensure adequate spread, and so the lower rows of LEDs are directly visible as you drive down the roadway. Personally, I'd rather a good quality metal halide such as the Philips CosmoPolis (see: http://www.lighting.philips.com/microsite/cosmopolis/gb_en/product.php) and a fixture with full cut-off.


One would think they would use some sort of diffuser.

Hi Ghung,

I'm not sure how a diffuser would impact optical performance, but LED lamp life and lumen maintenance are both adversely impacted by heat build-up and restricting air flow through the addition of a diffuser would likely lead to other problems.

The street lights in question are made by a Halifax based firm (see: http://www.ledroadwaylighting.com/).


LEDs need more design attention than other lamp types, and in general trying to shoe-horn them into fixtures designed for other types just doesn't work very well.

My personal experience with LEDs is quite good -- I'm a year into a dozen Cree LR-6 fixtures, and all are still going strong. These are in high-use areas like my kitchen and the upstairs hall, which gets left on by the kids all the time.

LEDs are in 100% of the traffic lights near my home. They are beginning to fail, with odd blocks of LEDs out, which likely indicates a failure of driver circuits versus the LEDs themselves. Still, those that fail tend to be at the top, so there may be a thermal component.

For optimal residential use, I personally think LEDs should move from bulb-replacement to custom-fixtures. The lifetime is so long that it would be reasonable to have fixture-removal or even replacement by the time they burn out. Your wife will appreciate the excuse to upgrade fixtures every 10 years anyway.

Most LED bulbs, and other low-power options, seem to push so hard to claim low-power that they end up delivering unacceptably low-light. I prefer to spend more upfront and use a few more watts long-term to have better light for my middle-aged eyes, but I must not be the market target for vendors.

Paul, do you have any thoughts on the relative amounts of the "political heavy metals" (rare earths) in metal halide lamps vs. LEDs? The LEDs are doped with gallium arsenide and suchlike to get the glow. What about the metal halide lamps?

Hi Hamster,

I'm not very knowledgeable in this area, but my understanding is that current generation fluorescent and ceramic metal halide lamps utilize rare earth phosphors (also known as tri-phosphors) and that there is concern that two of the five elements used in their production (terbium and europium) will be in short supply. The transition to smaller diameter lamps (i.e., T5 and T8 fluorescent versus T12) and various advancements that have resulted in longer lamp life will hopefully give us a bit more wiggle room. There has been some effort made to recover these elements through lamp recycling as well.



Thanks for the info. For a recent project, I called out button lights with CFLs instead of some specialized lamp like a circular florescent. The pin base special lamps make the fixture "energy star", but I don't like to call them out. My thought was that a CFL is interchangeable with an incandescent, if push comes to shove. I try to keep the number of different lamp types down and use widely available lamps.

Mine don't depend on the grid, run on 12 volt DC and consume less than 10 watts and recharge during the day. Ok they aren't as bright as the smart lights by a long shot but between no light at all and this, it ain't bad ;-)

image link

Paul, good to have you back. I had been waiting till you posted again to get your opinion on the Passive House.

I read an article about it in Fine Homebuilding, and very interesting;

Behind a paywall, but if you are up for buying the magazine, it has lots of good stuff.

Anyway, their standards are for;
Air change of no more than 0.6/hr (Energy Star for houses is 5)
Heat/cooling of less than 4755btu/sq.ft/yr (1.4kWh/sq.ft/yr) - this is about 1/10th of normal
Total energy use of less than 11.1kWh/sq.ft/yr (energy Star houses are 20-30kWh/sq.ftyr)

The heating energy is impressively low, though the overall energy criteria is not. A 1500sq ft house would be at 16,000kWh/year, or 40/day, doesn't seem that little to me.

Anyway, they claim overall energy use of about 10% of a normal house - I was a bit skeptical until I read this letter to the editor, from a guy in Colorado who designed and built his own passive house. He has an HRV and no AC, heats with a high efficiency wood stove and electric. He says he used half a cord of wood for the winter and a monthly electric bill of $40 (no other heat sources, and cooking is elec). At 10c/kWh, that would be 400kWh/mo, or an average of 0.54kW.

This seems an amazingly low energy consumption, particularly the wood. Assuming he is maintaining normal temperatures, rather than 15C and rugging up, this is a great result, though you can only get it by a new build or a complete strip down to studs, inside and out.

Your thoughts?


"A 1500sq ft house would be at 16,000kWh/year, or 40/day, doesn't seem that little to me."

What type of water heating? Dryer?

Our home is larger (about 2700, heated), earth bermed to the north, and from what you wrote I can say this is quite doable. We do fine on just over 22kWH/day (solar) and used about 3.5 cords firewood this winter. Lots of glass for passive solar and great view. We will do better when all of the thermal curtains are up. It just hasn't been that necessary with all of our thermal mass. We use gas for hot water backup and dryer. R 50-60 in ceilings. It can get a little cool in the "big room" on really cold mornings (low 60's F) if we don't pack the wood stove before bedtime. We got used to it long ago. I've gotten a good sense of the ridiculous requirements of the typical "energy efficient" home in the US.

Ghung, what I was getting at, is that the non heating electrical use allowed in the passive house standard seems quite high - you are way under their criteria, and even my own house, the non heating electrical load is under that limit. It does not state what the other loads (DHW< dryer, etc) can be , just they they all have to use less than this, and if you go with efficient appliances, and don;t leave the lights on, you will easily meet this requirement.

Your usage is just 2.94kWh/sqft.yr, which is way under their criteria, that's why I think it is too easy to meet.

Now their heating standard is excellent. So your 2700 sq,ft would be allowed 3780kWh of non-solar heat, per year, which is just one cord of wood!
That is very low, but this guy in Colorado has done better (though his house may be smaller).

They have set a very high bar for the heat energy requirement, which is great, and if all houses could meet this, the national energy use would fall substantially. But if you used the full allowance of 9.7kwh/sq.ft year on everything else, then you haven;t saved that much, overall, or at very least, are not being as efficient with non heating use as you are with heat.

Thanks Paul. There are of course variables of location (heating degree days and such). I chose to build a little more "breathable" house than the Passive Haus is. Didn't want to rely on HRV or forced air ventalation (even though I did install the duct work, JIC). Also, our woodstove isn't as efficient as more modern stoves (a 30 year old Hearthstone with a water heating exchanger), but it is so beautiful, (and we have plenty of wood) that I hate to get a new one. Even with our low overall energy use, we can still make some improvements. Like Paul in H, our fossil fuel use is very low, and the passive cooling works great. My goal is to be zero net, except for wood and a tiny amount of gas for cooking (gotta have the flame).

I agree, the Passive House non-heat electrical spec seems "generous".

It's the equivalent of making the 100mpg car, and then loading it up with so much electronic stuff that it can then only do 40!

You are the only person I know who has a water heat exchanger for a stove - how did you get that past insurance?

My insurance folks don't know what they're looking at. It just looks like a woodstove to them, a piece of furniture. Don't ask, don't tell.

It circulates through a non-pressurised storage tank (open system), so flooding isn't an issue. My biggest problem was making sure that all of my PV arrays/BOS were covered for full replacement value. It turns out that they have far fewer claims from off-grid PV folks like me than from the "grid connected masses". Maybe we have a better handle on things, pay attention more.

I am sure that off grid folks are way below average for all sorts of claims - if you are going to be self sufficient, you are likely to take much more interest in maintaining your home than a condo dweller.

For the HW, do you then have a heat exchanger for the DHW, or do you then pressurise the water with a pump? Just curious, because people have gone really wrong with fireplace HW systems

Some interesting examples of when it goes wrong (and right) here;


Mine is a woodburning insert into what was an open fireplace, and I have thought about adding a water system, but just can't see a simple way to do it.

The heart of our system is a 400 gal polyeth water tank (good for max temp of 165f, per manufacturer). DI water with boiler treatment only (no glycol). The radiant floor and woodstove draw directly from the tank. Average tank temp in winter is about 125-135. A 3 gpm pump pulls water from the bottom of the tank and sends it to the stove via 3/4" pex (through the ceiling, above the level of the tank, important to prevent the tank from draining in a rupture event). I built my heat exchanger with 1/2" hard copper, braised, 2 double pass loops, in a grid aprox 16"x20" (large stove) and connected it to the cast iron baffle plate in the top of the stove. The connections (3/4"x4" brass nipples) extend through the side of the stove via 1" galv flanges, stuffed with stove gasket to seal and allow some movement. Copper flex hot water lines connect to the pex.
(Please excuse our dust, remodelling part of the room, including a large trombe-style heat sink behind the stove)

10k temp sensors are attached to the flexible connectors for a diff temp controller. If the controller senses a 15 degree rise in inlet and outlet temp it turns the pump on. The return line to the tank is positioned just above the water line to prevent syphoning if the heat exchanger ruptures.

During a normal burn we get about a 20 degree rise in water temp through the stove at just under 3gpm. Hot burn yeilds about 30-35 degree rise (around 45k btu/hr +, I think, check my math, it's early). One cool result is that the heat exchanger in the stove condenses unburned wood gasses which drip back into the fire to be reburned. My stove pipe stays very clean. This system will thermosyphon if the pump fails, just not as efficient, and the temps get a little higher than I like.

My water tank has a 3/4"copper coil (120') near the top that heats/preheats DHW which then goes to a Bosche (propane) 125s tankless water heater set at 120 degrees. In winter, the water heater kicks on to boost the temp (at a very low level burn) about 1/4 of the time. I can bypass the water heater and we still get 115 degree hot water in normal use most of the time (depending on the needs of the radiant floor).

I put a double loop of 1/2" ID copper (heat exchanger) in the bottom of the tank for future use in a closed loop solar hot water system. Our current system (undergoing maint., 33 year old panels finally gave up!) is a simple drainback design, drawing water directly from the tank. The tank is enclosed in a "closet" that is lined with bituthene and piped directly to a floor drain in case of rupture, well insulated. I designed the system to be higher volume, lower temp. Not as efficient, I know, but I wanted it to be simple enough to last, and most of the components are locally sourceable. I keep spare pumps, differential controller and sensors. All of the rest can be found at any good hardware. 95% + recyclable, IME.


That is a neat system, well designed. I did the calcs myself and came out with 13kW (which is 45k btu/hr), that is pretty impressive for a home built wood fired water heater.
The fact that it will thermosiphon is, in my opinion, the most important design feature, as it is fail-safe. Even if the water starts boiling, the siphon will carry on. This means you have to have the tank above it, an option I don't have..

I once saw a slightly larger version of your setup in Australia, back in the 80's. This farmer was in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains (yes, there are some places in Australia that get snow), lots of wood from eucalyptus trees and no mainline electricity. He had built his version of a soapstone fireplace (using basalt), and set up a water loop a bit like yours. Difference was, his was set up to make steam, to run a steam engine. he ran it at low pressure (120psi) but lots of superheat (450C), so it was quite efficient, as far as steam goes. Engine was a triple expansion marine engine built in 1910 from his grandfathers steam launch - had been in use, one way or another, for 70 years and had never had any moving part replaced! The steam exhaust was used to preheat the feedwater, and then the condenser heat was used for DHW, and for heating his greenhouse (about 2000 sq ft of it) and chicken barn (the "chookshed" in Australian parlance). The exhaust from the fireplace also went into the greenhouse - lots of heat and plenty of CO2 for his plants, and the ash was used to fertilise the same. In case you are wondering, he grew food plants (tomatoes, beans, beets, etc, not marijuana, though it would have made an amazing grow op!) The greenhouse was actually a hydroponic setup, and instead of using soil/gravel in the beds he used charcoal. It was the most productive greenhouse I have ever seen.

The steam engine ran a 2000W alternator (off an old Caterpillar engine), and he had a home made wind turbine powering another one. Wind turbine blades (two pieces crossed over to make a 4 blade turbine) he had made from laminated eucalyptus and cedar(core), looked like a work of art. He knew nothing about aerodynamics, but had a friend who made competitive boomerangs, and they just scaled the "wing profile" of the boomerang!

And what did he farm? Trees! He had over 1000ac and his main business was making charcoal, eucalytpus makes great charcoal. A sideline was distilling eucalyptus oil. He set up his charcoal "retort" (NOT an oven or kiln) similar to a down draft gasifier (which his grandfather used to build for tractors in WW2). He "chunked" the wood, and chipped the branches/leaves and just fed them into the top. As the stuff heated up, the water, and the eucalyptus oil vaporise, and he had an air pipe from the top, side, just below the cap, that went through a condenser to collect the oil, and then back into the middle of the column, so it worked on it's own thermosiphon. At the bottom of the gasifier, his grate was made of fire bricks strategically placed so that any chunks of less than 2" would fall through, and below that was an angled mesh, so the chunks would roll off to the side, and the finer bits and ash collected below (for use in the greenhouse!) When he built his house, he also used the charcoal powder as his insulating material - like blown in insulation - apparently very effective, though not fire resistant.

His grandfather had worked in an Australian oil shale operation in the 20's (there were a couple of them in the mountains west of Sydney), so knew all about retorting, and had designed the charcoal system after ww2 when no one needed his gasifiers!

The trees were a variety called cider gum, native to Tasmania, that had been progressively planted on the property, as the native trees were cut. The cider gums produce a sweet sap in late winter/early spring, just like sugar maples (aborigines have know this for millenia), so he tapped all the large trees for their sap, boiled it to syrup (on his fireplace), and sold that. He also had a still and made his own moonshine from it, but I was just a kid then and wasn't allowed to try any of it. The house had this amazing, sweet, eucalytpus smell, though he said he didn't notice it any more.

The last part of the story is that his tractor was, of course, powered by woodgas! He used this to haul the logs around, and the pto from the tractor ran a mobile boom saw and his bench circular saw, and various other bits of equipment. He said the gasifier worked fine, but it needed a few minutes to start up, so you only started the tractor when you had at lest an hour's worth of work for it.

His vehicle, a pickup truck (a "ute", short for utility vehicle, in Australian parlance) was the only thing that used fossil fuels, and only because woodgas was not allowed for a road going vehicle. he had run it successfully on a mix of eucalyptus oil and his moonshine, but given that he could sell the eucalyptus oil for 20x what petrol cost, it just wasn't worth it. He did always put a cupful of euc oil in with each fill, and his engine had never had any problems even after 300,000km(200,000 miles). Apparently, eucalyptus oil is a very good co-solvent for ethanol and diesel, though I have no first hand experience of this.

It was quite an amazing setup, the only "farm" I have ever seen that was completely self fueled, and I would suggest, very profitable too. This would be one guy that assuming he and his family are still there) will have no trouble surviving peak oil or even zero oil! A great example of what can be done with lots of ingenuity.

Thanks, Paul. He sounds like my kind of guy. I wish I had his energy. He would be a great subject for a documentary, although, if he's like me he wouldn't want the attention.

My sub used to pull into Fremantle for a 3 week liberty during long patrols. The second time I was there I took a 10 day leave and flew to Adelaide, and from there bussed and hitched up to the Opal Mines. Andamooka and Coober Pedy. Don't know what got into me, I guess I was very "sub drunk" (after 105 days underway) and needed to get away. I saw all sorts of crazy make-shift, re-engineered oddities, and they all worked great. Really quite Mad Maxish.

I have to say that I fell in love with the Land Of Oz and especially the very "real" people I met. Very little pretense. When folks found out that I was a US Sub sailor and had come a long way just to meet them, I couldn't buy a beer or a meal. On the house, mate!

When I got back to port in Norfolk my first wife was really pissed that I had spent "our" money going walkabout......'til I showed her the 3 big jars of raw opal I had bought at the mines, for about $20 US each. I didn't expect to make as much profit as I did. One of the greatest buys of my life. This was in '83. I doubt that I could do as well these days. I just hope the people there haven't changed.

Anyone reading this in Fremantle, Rockingham, or the "Opal Basin", Love you folks. Hope to get back some day!

p.s. Your tank can be on the same level as your stove as long as the top of the tank is several feet above the water outlet from the stove. My tank is about 7 feet tall, about 5.5 feet higher than the hot water outlet from the stove. Also, the riser from the stove to the ceiling is about 8 feet, giving the thermosyphon most of it's power. I also installed a brass swing check valve in the cold water line which seems to improve the syphon action. This is the third heat exchanger I've built. The trick is the double loops I built, slowing the water through the stove. I was worried about boiling the water but decided I could always install a bigger pump ;-)

Ghung, my hat is off to you being a submariner! After that, any house/cabin/shack must seem spacious!

You have seen the parts of Aust I have not (except for Fremantle/Perth - what a great place!) never made it out to the red centre. Sounds like you didn't get to Alice Springs. There, they have an annual "yacht race" in the bed of the dried up Todd River. They make "boats" that are just a frame that you stand in, and run along the riverbed. After 1983, when we (finally) won the America's cup, a part of the regatta became an annual "Alice Cup" held between the locals and the US servicemen that manned a radar station nearby. A great event, by all accounts, as are most parties in the country, any excuse will do, especially an overseas visitor.

But, ingenious diy solutions that make Macgyver look like an amateur are part of life on the farm or in the outback. That guy would have been a good documentary subject, and didn't strike me as a hermit type, a smart business operator who found value in an area that everyone else considered worthless (even the original trees were no good for lumber, only low value woodchips, and he knew he could do better). From his 1000ac, with a growth rate of 5t/ac/yr, and a 50% charcoal energy yield (30% weight), he would be producing up to 1500 t/yr charcoal, if he produced to the max. At $200/ton, that is $300k/yr, plus the euc oil and euc syrup. In fact, he probably made more money per acre than any normal farmer.

Another opal town is White Cliffs, where people live in underground homes to escape the heat. They also had Australia's first solar power project, (very high solar insolation there) it used fourteen 10'dia parabolic reflector dishes to generate steam. The steam engine was a converted Lister 3cyl diesel, set up as a uniflow engine, made 25kWe at 21% peak efficiency! It powered the town for 15 yrs until it became grid connected. They then replaced the steam system with some fancy water cooled PV's at the focus of the dishes, and got up to 45kWe. That is 3kW from each 10' dia dish - quite impressive.

Despite that, solar electricity has never really taken off in Oz, other than remote locations. There have been no more commercial scale projects, other than some larger Pv installations. For many of the off gridders, getting electricity is easy, with a few panels. Getting water can be a much bigger challenge!

Hi Paul,

Our home is 2,500 sq. ft. in size and forty-two years old. We've done a fair amount of insulating and air sealing, although at 4.6 ACH @ 50 Pascals it's not nearly as tight as I would like. At this point, we're just about all-electric and our twelve month rolling average as of March 26th is 12,432 kWh, which works out to be just under 5.0 kWh/sq. ft./year. We use perhaps an additional 100 litres of heating oil a year for supplemental space heating and domestic hot water, and approximately 25 litres of propane for our gas dryer, so the final number is a little closer to 5.5 kWh/ft2/year, all inclusive.

The oil truck fills our neighbour's tank about every three weeks between November and April. Our tank was last topped up on August 24th, some 236 days ago, and the gauge is sitting half way between "7/8" and "F". A single 900 litre tank should theoretically last us eight or so years.


Thank's Paul You have clearly done well. So, given that you are able to beat the passive house total energy use standard by half, does it not seem that the standard (11.1kWh/sq.ft) is far too easy to meet?

My 12 month total is 17,000 for my 2400 sqft house and we use about two cords of wood for the fireplace insert (run it every evening, and all day in mid winter). The insert will only be 60% efficient, so I'll put that as about 6000kWh of delivered heat, and we are at 23,000 for the year, or 9.5kWh/sq.ft, which is still under the passive house standard, and we are a long way from meeting the other requirements. A heat pump for the downstairs area would make a big difference - a project for the fall, maybe.

Hi Paul,

It does strike me as rather generous. Our city is colder than Buffalo, NY, our home is a traditional Cape Cod and we have little solar benefit. Ultimately, I'd like to eliminate oil altogether and get below the 10,000 kWh/year mark. Swapping out our older heat pump for a more efficient model could easily shave 1,000 or more kWh from our annual usage and a heat pump water heater (doubling as a dehumidifier) would likely do the same, so 4.0 kWh/ft2/year seems doable.


I find the pasivehaus non heating/cooling allowance shockingly high. We were at about 8000KWhr/year for 2200 sq feet, with maybe $200 per year for natural gas water plus space heating. Our climate doesn't need a lot of heating, winter temps probably average near 50F (10C), and with the thermostate turned down to 61-62F that takes a lot of load off. Our biggie users are electric dryer, and A/C. I've probably halved the dryer requirements by using a spin dryer (which unfortuantely is fairly labour intensive, but at least those volumes of soapy water aren't baked into the clothes by the dryer). For cooling. The climate is dry, so I ventilate with fans as much as possible (goal 60F by morning, but this is rarely met as we get seriously cheated in the low temps area). Nevertheless store cool nighttime, then close up the house, and use the AC to keep the temp to about 78F). Trying to increase tree shading, as direct solar insolation probably is the dominant thermal load mechanism. I'm probably currently running about 100 watts below that average -mostly due to the spin dryer. Once the kids go off to college I expect another large dropoff in our consumption.


if you are paying $10/GJ for NG (or $10/mmbtu) then you are at 20 million btu, or about 9000btu/sq.ft/yr, , and throw in the A/C and you are over their heating/cooling energy, but still way under the total. 9000but/sq.ft is 2.8kWh, and your electricity adds up to 3.63, so your total is 6, just over half their allowance.

There is no question the heating/cooling standard is great, and if I build a house, I will shoot for it. But I just can't imagine what you would need to be doing to get to their total energy usage.

It would be interesting to see how much would be required to retrofit a house to meet the heating/cooling standard, and I suspect in many cases it would be more expensive than a rebuild.

Aren't the old tech mercury of sodium vapour lights much better lumens per watt than LED? Now LED might have better lifetime, which limits repair and maintenence costs. But I didn't think they had yet reached that level of efficiency. The article compared against incandescent. But we don't have many incandescent streetlights do we?
Now, I can imagine you gain some efficiency, by having directionality -why waste light sending it in the wrong direction. But, don't the vapour lights use reflectors?

Hi EoS,

Incandescent street lights in North America were largely replaced by mercury vapour back in the 50's and '60s. I recall Rome had a large number of incandescent fixtures when I visited in the late '70s and they were still widely used in Toronto up until the early '90s. Today, high pressure sodium and to a lesser extent metal halide dominate, although low pressure sodium and mercury vapour are still popular in many parts of Europe.

Low pressure sodium provides a lot of lumens per watt, but the light is monochromatic and therefore colours are badly distorted. High pressure sodium is marginally better in terms of its colour rendering (a CRI of 22 versus 0), with a corresponding loss of efficacy. It's a more compact light source that allows for greater flexibility in fixture design and better optical control, and it also offers longer service life. Metal halide is less efficient again, but offers much better colour rendering (typically a CRI of 65 or higher). Unfortunately, lamp life is somewhat shorter and the lumen drop-off is more pronounced. Ceramic metal halide lamps driven by electronic control gear gives us more light per watt compared to traditional probe or pulse start metal halide, as well as better colour rendering, greater colour stability, longer lamp life and much better lumen maintenance. Ceramic metal halide also provides a nice, clean, crisp white light compared to the "gloomy" orange glow of HPS, and those that operate at a high colour temperature allow us to see better at lower light levels as our night vision is more responsive to the blue end of the spectrum.

The internal reflectors direct light downward where it is needed and fixtures with a sharp cut-off help minimize glare and prevent light from being lost upward into the night sky. The traditional cobra head design with a drop lens will distribute light more broadly, but spill and upward transmission can be an issue. I suspect this type of design will fall out of favour as we take steps to minimize light trespass and light pollution.


Can anyone please recommend a book on climate change? I don't want a layman's book but a more scientific account of the problem ideally with descriptions of the experiments which have led to the conclusions that this is fact not fiction. Most books I have come across do not go into the science but use emotion and anecdotes to get the point across.


These are more data sources (scientific papers and raw data) than books, but one or other resource may refer to a book if you browse a few of them.
Also, they are pretty good at responsing to email questions.


Real Climate's authors have a list of their publications. It is probably the best place to go for the scientific analysis, both of the problem and proposed mitigation efforts.


you may also try "The Two Mile Time Machine" by Richard B. Alley. It is based on a series of lectures on how we know what we know about Climate Change. Alley is a great writer.

Many thanks, just ordered this book from Amazon. Got good reviews.

At RC they often recommend The Discovery of Global Warming, which is an excellent read. It is oriented towards the layman, no formulas and such, but is wholly lacking in that agenda you mentioned far as I can tell.

Second the discovery of global warming.

The website is great - it lays out the history of science and the breadth of the case for AGW. The book sounds great too - probably even better.

If you are a physics type you can download (Warning it is morethan a year old)
Mostly radiative transport
This mainly covers 1D atmosphere modeling, and comparative planetary climates. It isn't about observational evidence. But if you want a physics based understanding of how planets with atmospheres maintain a climate, it is kinda the beginning course for that.....

James Hanson's STorm of my Grandchildren does use emotion, but it also gets very thoroughly into the background research. It's the best I've come across.

8 banks shut down Friday night

City Bank : Lynnwood, WA
Tamalpais Bank : San Rafael, CA
Innovative Bank : Oakland, CA
Butler Bank : Lowell, MA
Riverside National Bank of Florida : Fort Pierce, FL
AmericanFirst Bank : Clermont, FL
First Federal Bank of North Florida : Palatka, FL
Lakeside Community Bank : Sterling Heights, MI

If anybody sees an article on how this affects the FDIC finances please share it.

I still get a kick out of the practice of shutting banks on Friday night. The absolute perfect PR moment in time to minimize the information. Most people are preoccupied with plans for the evening, they've done their banking and banks that are being shut is way down on their priority list of concerns.

What if they were announced on CNBC with lots of fanfare and appropriate concern Monday morning at 8am eastern time, providing detailed information about the lead up to their shutting, and information about how their millions lost will affect the FDIC, before the stock market opens? That would constitute the worst PR moment and timing from the Governments viewpoint, but it would give the topic the importance it deserves for all of us.

I don't think PR has anything to do with it.

The point is to minimize the disruption to the bank's customers. The fact that they've done their banking is the point. Fewer people expect to do banking over the weekend. Even with online banking, the transaction doesn't go through until Monday. That gives them the whole weekend to make the transition. It's still disruptive, but much less than it would be otherwise.

The point is to minimize the disruption to the bank's customers.

Exactly right. The FDIC is very, very good at coming in at the close of business on Friday, getting the necessary snapshot to see where things sit, and having the bank open for business under FDIC control on Monday morning. Which certainly goes a long ways towards keeping the public calm: not only is your money safe because of the FDIC, but it's safe and available this Monday, not next month sometime. Delays of several weeks in getting your money were not uncommon during the S&L crisis at the end of the 80s.

Greets PE.

The calculatedriskblog is pretty good on coverage of the bank shutdowns, and lists of troubled banks. Their link is on the L-side nav here on TOD.

"Time to face the music"

After a March of record-breaking warm temperatures, much of Illinois is facing a frost advisory. Be advised, also, if you live in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio or parts of Kentucky.


Time to go out an cover all the early fruit blossoms, where possible. Especially apples.

Too late for this frost, but this will buy you a few degrees. It was considered organic by CCOF.


Regarding a recent post on fracking, here is a short interview with a scientist who is very concerned about the safety. Listen or read transcript at http://www.democracynow.org/2010/4/14/world_renowned_scientist_dr_theo_c...

World-Renowned Scientist Dr. Theo Colborn on the Health Effects of Water Contamination from Fracking -The Environmental Protection Agency has begun a review of how the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” can affect drinking water quality. We speak to Dr. Theo Colborn, the president of the Endocrine Disruption Exchange and one of the foremost experts on the health and environmental effects of the toxic chemicals used in fracking.

BAU will not be BAU if we keep poisoning ourselves.

Oxi -- As I’ve pointed out before folks should’t focus so much on potential damage directly from the actual frac’ing process itself. Accidents, like a shallow casing rupture, can happen but this is not very common. But at the depths they are frac’ing there almost no chance of reaching the fresh water zones. But there is a very real danger for contaminating these aquifers. That would be the illegal disposal of produced fluids drawn from a well after it is frac’ed. It’s those relatively innocent look tank trucks rolling down the highway (often at night) that need to be monitored. Not as sexy a news story as massive pump truckers splitting eardrums. But from my 35 years of experience the real danger is illegal/improper dumping of those nasty produced chemicals.

The trouble is Rockman that greed is always rule number one and anything else, like fresh water, aquifers, people's health, being environmentally conscious all come a distant 2nd. After reading some of the stories of tainted water in Pennsylvannia, I don't trust the gas companies. They simply figure what is the cheapest way to rid themselves of tailings and that's what they do. If every movement of theirs must be carefully policed, then the practice of frac'ing in shale on people's properties should be halted. Just chalk it up to greed as the reason why.

Actually fracking services is one of the lesser dangers to water well contamination. How about bad cement jobs? There are virtually 100's of circumstances that can contaminate a water source. Each job has an unforseen Potential disaster waiting to happen. We can trump greed we simply shut down all Oil and Gas E&P and import all our energy or just put and end to its use. Or perhaps we can do our best to save the water as I suspect most everyone involved is doing their upmost to accomplish, independent of greed.

True Earl but the guys you have to watch closest aren't the operating companies. They'll pay a disposal company to get rid of the nasties. And may pay a pretty high price. The greed factor will kick in big time with the disposal companies. If they can dump the crap illegally (called a "midnight haul" in the oil patch) their profit margin can be huge. Even if the operator suspects such activities he'll often look the other way because he's gotten the liability off his back. Every really bad ground water polution event I've seen in Texas was from naughty disposal companies and not the operators directly. That's why I keep making the point that folks may not be paying attention the most likely bad guys in the frac'ing story: watch those tanker trucks...especially the one running late at night. Only takes 15 minutes to stop on a small bridge and dump 120 bbls of nasty stuff into a creek at 2 am. Twice in my career I've caught a midnight haul. Very nice feeling to watch a state cop roll up on them.

Every really bad ground water polution event I've seen in Texas was from naughty disposal companies and not the operators directly.

Then you're right, those disposals need to be policed. But if you put someone in the passenger seat, then the person is subject to a bribe from the driver. Maybe each transport truck needs to be followed by a special observation vehicle. With enough screening of applicants, a few can be isolated that are pro-environment and least likely to be bribed.

Earl -- I suspect that the source of much concern was an inability for regulators to ramp up as fast as the play was developing. And it isn't the drivers making a profit on the midnight hauls...it's the disposal companies themselves. The drivers are doing it just to keep their minimal paychecks.

It’s those relatively innocent look tank trucks rolling down the highway (often at night) that need to be monitored.

Thirty or so years ago, some hazardous waste disposal companies in the NYC area were capturing a large share of that market due to their low prices. At some point investigators discovered that the companies were fronts for organized crime, and the reason they could offer low prices (and make large profits even at those prices) was because the trucks were driving to New Jersey at night and dumping the drums into various swamps.

Don't know if it's gotten any better, but anyone buying a new house in Jersey at that time had at least some fears of finding out in a few years that it was built on top of an illegal toxic waste dump.

And then Rockman the reason that Dick Cheney got fracking exempted from the Clean Water Act is because...... Does it matter if it is from the drilling or from the improper dumping. Do they not have to dump the contaminated water somewhere? What is a proper place to dump this stuff that we are not allowed to know what it is because of its exemption from the Clean Water Act?

oxi - Actually very easy to dump the nasties in an environmentally sound manner: deep injection wells. Not cheap but easy. Millions of pounds of much nastier stuff, like arsenic, are safely disposed every year. All it takes is rigerously enforced regs. Cheaters are bad. Regulators that collect fees but then don't use those funds to provide monitoring efforts are about as bad IMHO.

Glad to hear there is some way to dispose of this stuff "safely". If the companies that are fracking want to reassure the public then all they have to do is make sure the other companies that are doing the disposal are doing it correctly and let the provisions of the Clean Water Act apply to them. If they don't get assurances and proof that it is being disposed of safely then it in fact means they don't give a #$%^ about clean water. If they have nothing to fear then they will reveal what chemicals they use and ask for the Clean Water Act to apply to their activities.

Wilson blew the whistle on the original EPA study, completed during the Bush administration, which claimed fracking caused little or no harm to drinking water because the chemicals are diluted in billions of gallons of water. Oil and gas companies doing hydraulic fracturing have been exempt from complying with the Safe Drinking Water Act since 2005, and also from reporting any chemicals that may end up in surface runoff which is normally covered by the Clean Water Act. As Weston, said natural gas companies need not even disclose what chemicals they use - so citizens have no idea what may sep into their drinking water. While other industries have to list chemicals they used, Dick Cheney got an exemption for fracking. During the early days of Cheney’s Vice Presidency, this former Halliburton CEO successfully pressured then-EPA-head Christine Todd Whitman to exempt fracking. In addition, companies can protect the chemical lists used as trade secrets. Suffice it to say fracking fluid contains many of them.


Now I just can't see old Dick bothering to pressure Ms Whitman to exempt fracking when it is perfectly safe.... Now I can see old Dick doing favors for his friends in the industry - that is quite in character. If you are being safe the surest way to make people think you are not, is to ask for an exemption from any oversight.

You say all it takes is rigorously enforced regs but as I have noted above and before when Cheney got them exempt from the Clean Water Act that removed any ability to regulate.

I understand now the EPA is being given 2 years and 2 million to do a study. Since the industry has nothing to fear or hide, they will voluntarily reveal what chemicals they are using and do all they can to help the EPA conduct a complete study in that time.... Yes????

Henry Groppe and Dean Orrico on natural gas. Is shale gas potential exaggerated? Has US natural gas production peaked?


I've been doing some research on steam dishwashers - specifically I'm interested in any products that do not produce waste water, minimize water needed for steam, minimize energy needed to create steam and any "output" dirt can go straight into a compost bin. The preference is for a cleaner that does not need any detergent (biodegradable or otherwise).

I've looked at the traditional offerings by GE, LG and Maytag and in one case the steam and wash cycle takes more than 2 hours.

Then I came across an Australian offering called Swash, a counter-top unit (4 place settings) designed for people that rent or small households. There are no explicit statements that it does not need a waste pipe or a plumbed water supply - but it sure is implied.

Bold in the following is mine:

designer's own words:
Swash offers a sustainable, innovative method for cleaning items using steam as a cleaning and sterilising agent. The unique cleaning process consists of alternate cycles; washing and sterilising in the single efficient unit. High temperature steam creates an eco-friendly and cost effective solution eliminating detergent usage and chemical by-products while also hygienically cleaning killing harmful bacteria which is not always destroyed in existing methods.

The sterilising feature extends the products use into the medical industry in maternity wards as well as households with newborns; places where sterilisation is critical.

As well as cleaning, Swash provides a solution to help reduce water shortage problems and excessive domestic water consumption, being an ongoing concern in Australia due to our dry climate and increasing water restrictions.

The product consists of a regenerative cycle which purifies and recycles water for reuse, having minimal water loss through the evaporation of steam. This is achieved by a Nanotechnology filter and water reservoir, restricting water consumption to the required volume for ecological daily use. The reservoir eliminates installation requirements making the product a desirable investment for renters and small households.

The reservoir allows the product to operate at a consistent pressure enabling it to be used in remote regional areas; where tank water supplies are used which often is restrictive in volume and low in pressure. Because of the size and functional features, Swash is also more energy efficient, as it takes less time to heat the small volume of water, with the overall wash program complete in under 25 minutes, offering a more ecological solution to current diswashing and sterilising models. The size was created for an economical use in small households, for fast turn around, catering up to 4 place setting capacity. It is ergonomic to use from benchtop height minimising spinal strain associated with existing models. The front loading design provides access to all items, with the baskets completely removable for ease of loading/unloading items. Efficient assembly and minimal fasteners are to be used so at the end of its functional life, parts are easily disassembled for recycling/reuse. It contains few mechanical parts which are all housed in the base for ease of maintenance, replacement/upgrade, helping to extend the functional life. Minimal material was used to create a light weight structure and preserve resources. The majority of the product is made from light gauge sheet metal for ease of manufacture at reduced costs. It uses durable materials that are heat, moisture and chemical resistant and has a clean, minimal modern aesthetic to enhance user attachment for increased product longevity.

I did a quick Google search for "commercial steam dishwashers" and it does not look like anyone makes one that is a blow-your-socks-off 20 seconds in-and-out cleaner, that is based only on a steam power-jet, free of detergent.

Any thoughts?

Hydrogen still in the eco-car race


personally ... I feel this is the way to go


Hydrogen is really not in the eco-car race. It is largely a pipe dream that we can fulfill when we have more energy than we know what to do with (such as nuclear fusion).

Nobel Prize winning Energy Secretary Steven Chu knows this and tried to cut some H2 research. Of course some Congressman refunded the their local pork barrel H2 projects. But Chu has really (wisely) shifted money to electric vehicles and mass transit.

About the NYT article on LED streetlights

This NYT article was obviously written by someone who doesn’t know squat about streetlights.

First of all, he was comparing the LED lights to incandescent lights, but all incandescent streetlights in Maine, and probably every other state in the USA, were replaced by mercury vapor street lights twenty to thirty years ago. And then all the MV streetlights were replaced by high pressure sodium (HPS) street lights over ten years ago, usually by replacing the lamps and ballasts in the existing fixtures. And the efficiency of the HPS lamps is already at least as good as LEDs.

He also suggested that the LEDs could use less energy because the light could be directed to where it is needed, instead of going off in all directions. But the light from HPS streetlights does not go off in all directions. The light from the bulb may go in all directions, but the HPS bulbs are always used in light fixtures with reflectors, which send the light where it is needed, not off in all directions.

So the NYT article was wildly misleading, but probably not deliberately so. More likely, they just don’t know any better.

I think NYT meant to say traffic lights, rather than street lights. I have noticed they are being replaced with the leds all over Texas.

You're right about the streetlights, of course. Some of the changes came about because people complained that the ICLs interefered with astronomical observations, especially when low cost telescopes of fairly good quality hit the market.


Saudi Arabia looking to build nuke plants. If that doesn't say something about the world's energy issues, I really don't know what else will.

Or . . . perhaps they are afraid of Iran and starting their own stealth nuke weapon program. Not sure if that is worse than the energy problems. ;-)