Drumbeat: April 20, 2010

Kuwait Hires LNG Tanker as Offshore Terminal for Summer Imports

(Bloomberg) -- Kuwait has hired a liquefied natural gas tanker to serve as an offshore terminal to help the country meet rising demand for gas from power plants during the summer months.

The ship, Explorer, owned by Excelerate Energy and Exmar NV, arrived in Kuwait on March 28 with a cargo of LNG from Trinidad and Tobago, according to vessel tracking data compiled by Bloomberg. The tanker can convert LNG back to a gas.

Iran plans first gas storage facility

Iran is to build its first storage facility for natural gas, to cope with fluctuating demand, according to reports.

World LNG Demand Will Double by 2020, Shell’s Outen Says

(Bloomberg) -- World demand for liquefied natural gas will double by 2020, Guy Outen, executive vice president for exploration and production at Royal Dutch Shell Plc, said at a conference in Oran, Algeria.

Gas Exporters Look to Oil-Price Link

Most of the world's leading gas exporters on Monday agreed to seek higher, oil-linked prices for spot sales, a decision that could eventually support suppliers like Russia that already use the method in their long-term contracts.

The Gas Exporting Countries Forum, which accounts for two-thirds of global gas exports, will work independently to reach price parity between gas and oil in their sales contracts, said Chakib Khelil, Algeria's energy minister.

Yemen eyes GECF membership

Yemen is in discussions to become a member of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, Oil Minister Amir al-Aidarous said in Oran, Algeria where the group is meeting this week.

China’s resource grab

Since becoming a net oil importer in 1993, China has rapidly overtaken everyone but the US in its thirst for the world’s crude. If one could quantify a country’s eagerness to control this vital resource, though, China would surely be number one. Aggressive investments in Africa’s resource sector have led some to dub its policies there the “Great Chinese Takeout”. Its latest move, a $20bn loans-for-oil deal with Venezuela, coming on top of an existing $8bn commitment, is its largest. This follows last year’s $25bn loans-for-oil deal with Russia and separate agreements for $10bn each with Brazil and Kazakhstan.

A ‘Hamburger Helper’ for Diesel Fuel

A Nevada company has found a way to use natural gas as a cheap extender for diesel fuel.

Putin to visit Vienna for gas deal - and judo

Vienna - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is scheduled to visit Austria this weekend not only to conclude a gas energy deal, but also to support Russia's team at the European judo championship, Austria's government confirmed Tuesday.

A deal between Russia and Austria to build a section of the planned South Stream gas pipeline on Austrian territory is to be signed on Saturday, Chancellor Werner Faymann said in Vienna.

Kuwait says oil price good, warns against speculation

“We hope the increase in the oil price will remain within a reasonable range and that there won’t be spikes like before,” he said.

“Hopefully, speculation will no longer play (a role) in the price of oil,” he said when asked about the impact of fraud charges against Goldman Sachs.

Saudis eye $24.3bn surplus in 2010

Saudi Arabia will book a 91 billion riyal ($24.3 billion) surplus this year based on an average oil price of $75 per barrel, and will avoid a deficit if prices stay above $60, a state-owned bank said today.

BPMigas Forecasts Lower Oil Production for Indonesia

Upstream oil and gas regulator BPMigas has lowered its estimate for national oil production to 917,000 barrels per day this year, down 5 percent from initial projections, citing the prospect of shutdowns and regulatory hurdles. The estimates will be submitted for inclusion in the revised state budget.

In a meeting with House of Representatives Commission VII overseeing energy issues on Monday, BPMigas head Raden Priyono said: “In accordance with our technical review, 917,000 bpd is the optimistic figure to be met. Therefore, we are proposing an oil production target of 917,000 bpd instead of 965,000 bpd for the sake of the security of state revenue.”

Science never stops for oilsands

Every year, the Canadian Heavy Oil Association and the Society for Petroleum Engineers hold a one-day symposium on the technical advancements and research being conducted in the oilsands.

Coal India Said to Plan $2.9 Billion IPO, Nation’s Biggest

(Bloomberg) -- India plans to raise as much as 130 billion rupees ($2.9 billion) selling shares in Coal India Ltd. in July, in the nation’s biggest initial public offering, said two government officials with direct knowledge of the sale.

REC May Run Singapore Plant at Full Capacity in 2010

(Bloomberg) -- Renewable Energy Corp. ASA, the Norwegian maker of solar-energy components, plans to run its Singapore plant at close to full capacity in the fourth quarter to meet demand in Asia, its chief operating officer said.

The facility plans to ship to markets in India, South Korea, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand, John Andersen said by videoconference from Oslo in an interview today.

Chevron has go-ahead to fix Louisiana oil line leak

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Government agencies have approved the start of repair work on a damaged Louisiana oil line that leaked oil into a wildlife refuge, a spokesman for operator Chevron Corp said Tuesday.

The U.S. Coast Guard told Reuters on Monday that needed agency approvals were near for work to begin at the site of the April 6 leak, but Chevron was unable to comment until all shippers were notified, the spokesman said.

The US War Machine—Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

With depleting oil reserves and peak oil production already past, and an anticipated shortage of water, food, and biological resources especially with on-going global warming and climate change, competition for resources will only intensify. In that scenario, the more powerful will snatch and grab resources by economic or military force. The USA is militarily well poised for such a situation, but whether it (and indeed the international community, which lends money to the USA, the world’s biggest debtor nation) can sustain such an expensive military in view of its declining economic status, and if so for how long, is debatable.

Addressing Corporate Fraud: Norway’s 40% Solution

Another major impetus for the law were theoretical and empirical studies showing that diversity promotes innovation and resilience by broadening the range of debate. A number of European leaders (in government and business) recognized as far back as the late nineties that Peak Oil and pressure to reduce carbon emissions posed very serious challenges for the corporate world. They were also far-sighted enough to see that diversity-based resilience and innovation would be essential in finding the drastic solutions that were required.

Many saw the example of the US as one they didn’t want to follow. Initiatives to develop alternative energy sources and auto mileage and emissions standards – by “appropriate technology” enthusiasts and engineers, as well as state and local governments – date back to the 1973 oil crisis. The response by the small circle of middle aged white gentlemen who ran the US oil and car companies was to buy up all the solar and wind patents and sequester them, to kill the electric car and to systematically obstruct any federal or state fuel or emissions standards.

Germans Desperate Over EU, Greece

Many elite promotions are unraveling or at least becoming less convincing. Peak oil, global warming, even regulatory democracy itself - all are being questioned and all are being found wanting. In the US, libertarian congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex) is running neck-and-neck with the US president, Barack Obama in terms of approval ratings. And according to Pew Research, only 22 percent of Americans trust the government "always or most of the time."

We would argue that the EU is heading toward the same fate.

Fossil Free By '33: Happy 40th Earth Day, A Conversation With Sigrid Wright

Today, the CEC is leading a campaign to move Santa Barbara County away from fossil fuels in one generation - Fossil Free by '33. This bold, regionally-driven blueprint seeks to head off a nearly perfect storm of energy-related concerns, including rapidly diminishing oil supplies ("peak oil"), growing concern over our national security because of our dependence on foreign oil, volatile fuel prices, and climate change.

Earth Day celebration: Transition Towns free fun-filled 50 min family film

Film title: 'In Transition 1.0 - from oil dependence to local resilience'

(Australia) Whether you're into growing your own fruit and veges, starting a local business, riding your bicycle, or making your own clothes, this fun-filled inspiring film is for you!

Beyond Earth Day: Sustainability groups begin transition to life after oil dependency

Picture yourself in the year 2030. Imagine a community where organic food is grown and harvested locally. Imagine being able to meet the majority of your needs in the nearby town center, where you can walk or bike to purchase locally produced goods and services.

With Earth Day 2010 just two days away, envision a community that is energetically self-reliant — harnessing renewable energy sources such as solar and wind to meet its needs and decreasing energy consumption to a level that is sustainable for the long-term well being of the planet.

Films, music to mark Woodstock observance

WOODSTOCK — Woodstock Town Hall Theater will host a celebration for the 40th Earth Day at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. This celebration will include local music talent, two films and various entertainment.

One film, included in the event, will be the seven-minute documentary "Jungle Park." This film illustrates Sustainable Woodstock's plan to rejuvenate the town and take a piece of land, known to locals as 'the jungle,' and transform it into a riverside park.

The other film is "In Transition," a documentary about the Transition Movement, a community-led response to climate changes and peak oil.

For Earth Day, 7 New Rules to Live By

On the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, is the middle-aged green movement ready to be revived by some iconoclastic young Turqs?

No, that’s not a misspelling. The word is derived from Turquoise, which is Stewart Brand’s term for a new breed of environmentalist combining traditional green with a shade of blue, as in blue-sky open-minded thinking. A Turq, he hopes, will be an environmentalist guided by science, not nostalgia or technophobia.

Solar-powered plane reaches new heights

(CNN) -- On April 9, 2010, the sun-powered Solar Impulse HB-SIA aircraft took off from a runway in Paverne, Switzerland, on its maiden flight.

Over the next 87 minutes it climbed to 1,200 meters, and undertook a series of tests and maneuvers to assess its reliability and performance, before returning test pilot Markus Scherdel safely to earth.

Startups offer consumers rewards for going green

The 40th Earth Day is Thursday, a reminder that going green isn't always easy. Most people are slow to change their behavior, and even the most eco-conscious consumers can forget to bring their own bag to the grocery store or coffee mug to the office.

Now several startup companies are building business models around information technology and the idea that consumers need an extra push — from free cupcakes to gift cards for iTunes or Starbucks — to go green. They've tapped into the fact that Americans love to earn coupons, prizes and rewards, and are far more apt to participate in recycling, carpooling or energy-saving programs if there's a tangible payoff.

On Ash and the Global Aviation Boom

The continued disruption of air travel and airborne commerce over much of Europe from volcanic ash clouds is a reminder of how flying has become a deeply embedded part of human life in just a couple of generations.

There are those who foresee a return to localism in the long run, with the price of flying rising as demand outstrips supplies of liquid fuels in a world of rising populations and energy appetites (with or without restrictions on greenhouse gases). My guess is that the intensifying work toward an aviation biofuel will supply that niche in years to come, while proving utterly inadequate for transport on the ground. In the meantime, the human appetite for globe-spanning mobility shows no signs of ebbing.

Wal-Mart's Chairman Pulls a Long Supply Chain Toward Sustainability

LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif. -- If a single executive at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. deserves the lion's share of credit for the company's recent drift into corporate sustainability, most agree it is Lee Scott, CEO of the largest retailer on the planet from 2000 to 2009.

Scott, now the chairman of Wal-Mart, has been praised by many for sparking a cultural overhaul at the big-box chain that resulted most recently in a voluntary commitment to slash 20 million metric tons of carbon emissions from its global supply chain by the end of 2015. Other notches on Scott's résumé are the company's pledge to attain 100 percent of its power from renewable sources of energy and a promise to create zero waste.

Facing unfit recruits, military leaders target food in schools

The obesity epidemic is threatening national security, so schools — which are on the front lines in battling the problem — need to boot out junk food and serve healthier snacks and meals, a group of retired military leaders is announcing today.

About three-quarters of today's young adults, ages 17 to 24, would be unable to join the military if they wanted to because they are either too heavy, didn't graduate from high school, have criminal records or have other health problems, says Mission: Readiness, Military Leaders for Kids, a non-profit group of 130 retired generals, admirals and other senior military leaders. They are advocating for policies that would help young Americans get ready to serve.

Do food stamps feed obesity?

Food stamps have done a good job fighting hunger since their 1964 roll-out, but as the program has grown, so has the percentage of Americans who are obese — from 13% in the early 1960s to about 35%. Now there's some evidence the two are related. Jay Zagorsky, a scientist at Ohio State University, has calculated that, controlling for socioeconomic status, women who received food stamps were more likely to be overweight than non-recipients. They gained weight faster while receiving assistance than when not.

New castles bring back medieval memories

The Ozark Medieval Fortress, a 20-year-long work in progress, will serve as an outdoor classroom where students experience living history and learn about architecture, geometry, economics and geology.

...The wood, stone, earth, sand and clay used to build the 45-foot-high towers and 6-foot-wide walls of the castle are found at the site and hauled by horses.

"We use only native materials, just like they would have in the Middle Ages," says general manager Julie Sonveau.

As the castle continues to take shape, so will its surrounding community, Sonveau, 46, says. Shops on the periphery already are in place for spinners, weavers, basket, and rope and candle makers. Herbs, grains, vegetables and plants used for dyes grow in raised beds.

George Monbiot: What links the banking crisis and the volcano? - We rely globally on over-complex, over-strained systems. Act now, or wait for the much more brutal corrective of nature

There's a similar lack of planning for the possibility that global supplies of oil might soon peak then go into decline. My FoI requests to the British government reveal that it has made no contingency plans, on the grounds that it doesn't believe it will happen. The issue remains the preserve of beardy lentil-eaters such as, er, the US joint forces command. Its latest report on possible future conflicts maintains that "a severe energy crunch is inevitable without a massive expansion of production and refining capacity".

It suggests that "by 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10m barrels per day". A shortage of refining and production capacity is not the same thing as peak oil, but the report warns that a chronic constraint looms behind the immediate crisis: even under "the most optimistic scenario … petroleum production will be hard pressed to meet the expected future demand". A global oil shortage would soon expose the weaknesses of our complex economic systems. As the cultural anthropologist Joseph Tainter has shown, their dependence on high energy use is one of the factors that makes complex societies vulnerable to collapse.

A contrarian makes another call – this time, natural gas

Mr. Groppe – the octogenarian patriarch of Texas petroleum industry analysts Groppe Long & Littell – doesn't buy the prevailing wisdom that New York Mercantile Exchange natural gas prices are dead in the water, stuck around $4 to $5 (U.S.) per million British thermal units even as demand recovers, awash in supplies and with much more on the way.

No, his analysis (and more than 50 years of experience) tells him that gas inventories are about to get a lot tighter, that new supplies are overstated, and that prices are headed north of $8 by the end of summer.

Why is he so sure he's got it right and most everyone else has it wrong?

Because, he contends, shale gas – the previously unattainable source of vast gas supplies that has been unlocked by new high-tech horizontal drilling advancements – is not the holy grail it's been cracked up to be. Not even close.

Oil Rises From Three-Week Low on Forecast for U.S. Supply Drop

(Bloomberg) -- Oil rose from a three-week low on speculation a report tomorrow will show crude stockpiles declined for a second week in the U.S., the world’s biggest energy consumer.

Crude gained with European and Asian equities as concerns eased about further regulatory scrutiny of banks. Oil futures fell yesterday after the Securities and Exchange Commission’s decision to sue Goldman Sachs Group Inc. deterred investors from riskier assets. U.S. inventories of crude oil probably fell 600,000 barrels in the U.S. last week as imports slowed, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

European Jet Fuel Demand ‘Evaporates,’ Prices Drop on Volcano

(Bloomberg) -- Jet fuel consumption in Europe has fallen by about two-thirds as flights in the region were halted after last week’s volcanic eruption, pushing down prices and disrupting deliveries.

U.K. fuel depots are filling up, possibly forcing refiners such as Exxon Mobil Corp. to reduce shipments, according to Astor Consulting Ltd. Frankfurt airport has canceled deliveries from a pipeline connecting it with refineries including BP Plc’s 400,000-barrel-a-day Rotterdam plant, according to the pipeline operator.

“This disruption is having a measurable impact on oil demand,” Adam Sieminski, Deutsche Bank AG’s chief energy economist, said by phone from Washington. “Europe is a sizeable market for jet fuel.”

Iran Adds Four Supertankers to Oil Storage, Taking Total to 11

(Bloomberg) -- Iran, OPEC’s second-biggest oil producer, added four supertankers to its fleet of vessels storing crude, taking the total to 11 after two others set sail, ship tracking data show.

At least 11 such vessels are idling in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, according to data from the ships collected by AISLive Ltd. Combined, the tankers can store about 22 million barrels of oil, more than Europe consumes in a day.

Ahmadinejad to visit Uganda for nuclear talks

KAMPALA (AFP) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will visit UN Security Council member Uganda this week for talks over its nuclear programme and Kampala's oil industry, the foreign ministry here said Tuesday.

Saudis Tighten China Energy Ties to Reduce U.S. Dependence

China, the world’s second-largest oil consumer, and Saudi Arabia, holder of about a fifth of global crude reserves, are forging ever closer ties as the Persian Gulf kingdom responds to a Chinese drive to feed its rising energy needs. China in November overtook the U.S. as the main buyer of Saudi oil, and Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and Saudi Basic Industries Corp. are investing in refinery and petrochemicals projects in China.

The partnership between Saudi Arabia and China is part of a broader strategy by the world’s largest oil exporter to tap Asian markets and extend global influence. It also helps Saudi Arabia reduce reliance on the U.S., which since World War II has protected Saudi security in return for stable oil supplies, said Ben Simpfendorfer, Hong Kong-based chief China economist at the Royal Bank of Scotland Plc.

“China’s rise has provided Saudi Arabia with an excuse to knock on Washington’s door and to say, you are not our only partner,” he said.

Russia, Qatar plan joint gas projects in Russian Arctic

Russia and Qatar are planning joint projects to develop gas deposits on the Yamal Peninsula in the Russian Arctic, the energy ministers of both countries said in a joint statement on Monday.

The statement was signed by Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko and his Qatari counterpart Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah.

Russia’s ESPO Crude Oil Exports Scheduled to Drop Next Month

(Bloomberg) -- Russia, the world’s second-largest oil exporter, plans to lower shipments of ESPO crude from the Pacific port of Kozmino by about 5.2 percent in May.

Feds clear way for Utah-Nevada petroleum pipeline

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — An environmental study has set the stage for construction of a 399-mile pipeline to move gasoline from Utah refineries to the Las Vegas area.

The Bureau of Land Management says the pipeline from Woods Cross, Utah, to Apex, Nev., is needed to meet market demand for fuel in southern Utah and Las Vegas, which get most of their fuel trucked in at higher prices.

Most important U.S. oil discovery in 40 years

He told me he has found what he expects will be the largest oil discovery of his entire career. It lies in the middle of a huge new oil and gas discovery called Eagle Ford. It is a field so large, Cactus says he believes it will become the largest oilfield in the history of the United States.

BG says keen to pull out of ONGC's KG block

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – British gas producer BG Group on Monday said it was keen to exit an exploration block off India's east coast operated by Oil and Natural Gas Corp, becoming the second foreign firm to make such a move.

Last week, ONGC's head of finance D.K. Sarraf said Brazil's Petrobras had informed the Indian firm about its plans to exit an east coast block, different from the one referred to by BG.

Flowers, Fruit Start to Run Short as Volcano Disruption Spreads

Bloomberg) -- Swiss Migros supermarkets ran out of roses today. Exotic fruit and asparagus from the U.S. may be the next items European shoppers won’t be able to find.

Retailers in Europe are reporting shortages after authorities started grounding airplanes April 15 because of a cloud of ash from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano. In the U.K., Waitrose has encountered difficulty stocking shelves with papaya and prepared mango, according to spokeswoman Gill Smith.

Electromobility: Fast-tracking innovation

A lot's going to change with the transition to electric cars: The automotive industry will no longer manufacture certain parts for vehicles, yet new ones will take their place instead. Utility companies will need modified business models and fee structures for supplying electricity to vehicles.

Will we switch to gas made from human waste?

As the UK faces the prospect of North Sea gas running out, could supply problems be eased by using gas made from human waste?

Scientists Try Algae ‘Alchemy’ to Grow Oil in Paddies

(Bloomberg) -- As Japan’s rice fields turn fallow and its farming communities decline, a new army of workers is preparing to make the countryside fertile again. This time the crop is motor fuel and the laborers are microscopic algae.

At least 75 developers globally are studying algae, which has the potential to generate more energy per hectare than any other crop used for making fuel, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The technology has attracted the U.S. Department of Energy and big oil including Exxon Mobil Corp., which plans to spend as much as $600 million on research over five years.

A Private Plan for a Hydrogen Highway

Many alternative-fuel companies are cash-poor, which means they spend a lot of their time chasing government loans and private capital. SunHydro, a start-up founded by Tom Sullivan to establish a solar-powered fuel-cell car refueling network on the East Coast, doesn’t have that immediate challenge. In 1993, Mr. Sullivan founded Lumber Liquidators, a hardwood flooring retailer that now boasts more than 200 stores and, according to Reuters, had $544 million in net sales last year.

Hydrogen and hardwood floors? What’s the connection? In an interview, Mr. Sullivan said his $15 million to $20 million backing of a network of hydrogen stations from Maine to Florida began in 2008, when he started to research the next generation of car fuels. “It seemed ridiculous we were spending $1 billion a day on imported oil when we could make our own zero-emission hydrogen,” Mr. Sullivan said. “If we can make hydrogen from wind or solar, that’s as good as it gets.”

New Solar Thermal Plant in Egypt Could Yield Clue to Sucess of Massive Desertec Project

The Desertec concept is based on a factoid featured prominently on the organization’s website: “Within six hours deserts receive more energy from the sun than humankind receives within a year.” Though its broadly stated mission is sustainability, the Desertec concept also addresses the geopolitical vulnerability of fossil fuel supplies to Europe, particularly regarding its dependence on natural gas from Russia. As for petroleum, the U.S. military is predicting a “peak oil” supply squeeze in the near future that certainly won’t help matters much. Speaking of the U.S. we have a couple of deserts, too, so maybe it’s time we stoped pushing that same tired old fossil fuel line and start focusing on showing the Old World a thing or two about networking solar power on a mass scale.

Hoover Dam turbines set for upgrade to cope with drought

Andritz Hydro will provide systems to allow the generators to provide power more smoothly and efficiently when water in Lake Mead is at lower levels because of the current drought in the region.

For them, Earth Day was late in coming

Numerous studies have shown that low-income and minority communities tend to suffer disproportionately from exposure to toxic substances and resulting health problems.

Easy being green for students with list of eco-friendly colleges

For the past 19 years, The Princeton Review has been helping students shop for colleges by creating guidebooks that look at a dizzying array of factors, from academics to campus life. So why would it add yet another factor to the checklist of items for college applicants to consider?

Put simply, because students are going green and care about a college's commitment to sustainability.

US unveils climate report in runup to Senate bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States released a new draft report on climate change on Monday, one week before the expected unveiling of a compromise U.S. Senate bill that aims to curb heat-trapping greenhouse emissions.

The report, a draft of the Fifth U.S. Climate Action Report that will be sent to the United Nations, says bluntly: "Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced ... Global temperature has increased over the past 50 years. This observed increase is due primarily to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases."

(Report is here.)

Will Collaborative Climate Coverage Work?

With the Senate poised for an “uphill push” to pass climate and energy legislative, and numerous surveys saying that Americans’ concern about global warming has declined, seven news outlets have banded together to improve upon what they see as chronically poor coverage of climate change.

Hansen Clarifies Realities Of Global Climate Change

Dr. James E. Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Science, arrived at Cornell Monday to discuss the imminent reality of climate change. Hansen, who has spent the last 30 years studying the reality of humans’ impact on climate change, spoke during the twelfth annual Jill and Ken Iscol Distinguished Environmental annual lecture series.

UK water use 'worsening global crisis'

The amount of water used to produce food and goods imported by developed countries is worsening water shortages in the developing world, a report says.

The report, focusing on the UK, says two-thirds of the water used to make UK imports is used outside its borders.

The Engineering the Future alliance of professional engineering bodies says this is unsustainable, given population growth and climate change.

Food supply chains at risk in changing south-east Asian climate

A report co-written by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and HSBC Climate Change Centre of Excellence claims that food supply chains in India and south-east Asia are under serious threat from changing climatic conditions.

Scientists suggest climate link for volcanoes and earthquakes

Exceptional levels of climate change could trigger volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and other geological catastrophes, say scientists.

Geologists Drill into Antarctica and Find Troubling Signs for Ice Sheets' Future

Modeler and geologist Robert DeConto of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, says the policy implications are grim. "Our models may be dramatically underestimating how much worse it's going to get," he says, noting that many population centers worldwide are within a few meters of sea level. Looking at signs of meltwater in the early Miocene, DeConto says, "we're seeing ice retreat faster and more dramatically than any model predicts."

Antarctica's ice sheets contain roughly two-thirds of the world's fresh water. A meltdown of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet alone would boost sea levels by an estimated 20 feet, but if the East sheet were to also succumb, along with the Greenland ice sheet, sea levels could rise by more than 200 feet. This would be catastrophic for major population centers near sea level, such as New York City, much of Florida and nearly all of Bangladesh. No one expects the ice sheets to disappear overnight—even the worst timelines span centuries—and uncertainty about their fate remains, but radar altimetry from NASA satellites indicates that melting is under way in some parts of the East sheet, as well as in much of the West sheet. Researchers say the effects of melting ice sheets could be apparent within a lifetime as undersea currents are disrupted and weather patterns shift.

I sense a huge bias against rail transit and mass-transit by the conservatives in this country.
This has at least some basis in right-wingers hating anything that has the appearance of being forced down their throats. The other class of people that are at least ambivalent about mass-transit are the wealthy. This has a basis in the relation between how "important" you are and the value of your time. In certain regions of the world, train on-time arrival statistics shows a substantial fat-tail in very late-arrivals. Some statisticians looked at the numbers for the British national rail network and you can see the fat-tails:

I redid their analysis with a different approach and derive the fat-tail behavior in such an intuitive way that I think anyone can understand it. I also describe why you can't use any of the conventional Poisson statistics or normal Gaussian statistics on this topic.

It would be intersting to do this for airlines as well. The volcano plume is the Black Swan of flight scheduling glitches.

You would think that airline travel would suffer from the same bias as mass transit because of the arrival unpredictably, yet no real alternatives exist for mass-transit air travel (save for private jets).

BTW, Thanks for the Monbiot link. I like the way that guy does journalism.

Of course, everyone who drives to work always gets there on time with no delays. . .

The real issue is that those in the upper layers of society don't want to have to rub shoulders with, or even see or smell or hear, people from the lower layers of society. Let's be honest, that's really what it is all about. That is the prime directive that dictates all transportation planning, at least in the USA.

I don't think it's the lower layers of society. Often, mass transit is segregated just because neighborhoods are. You can tell which lines go to the rich neighborhoods by how nice the cars are compared to the ones that go to the poor neighborhoods.

It's just people, period. I've taken the train into NYC a few times recently. It was on a "wealthy" line, and my fellow passengers were definitely upper crust. But they were a PITA. Talking on their cell phones at a volume enough to make you deaf. Kids kicking the seat, screaming, and running their toy cars in people's hair. Some of them were clearly very sick and coughing constantly, without covering their mouths. Women wearing enough perfume to fumigate three cars.

It doesn't stop me from taking public transportation. But I can totally understand why people with the option to avoid it do avoid it, even if there are no lower levels of society involved.

Speaking for myself, I wouldn't want to be on any mass transit service that would accept me onboard.

"Please accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member".
As quoted in The Groucho Letters (1967) by Arthur Sheekman. The sentiment predates Groucho, however; it likely originated with John Galsworthy, The Forsyte Saga, chapter II: Old Jolyon is said to despise the club that took him as a member after another refused him because he was in trade.

Thank you Wikiquotes.

I started to credit W.C. Fields.

I take two buses each morning and two buses each evening to and from my office. One is an inter-city express route (Chapel Hill to Raleigh, Triangle Transit), the other is an intra-city bus (Raleigh, CAT). I could take a third set of buses (Chapel Hill Transit, nearest my home rather than driving to the park-and-ride) and that would be dominated by college students since that system is free and parking on campus is limited and expensive).

On the inter-city express route the bus is between 75-90% full AND about half of the riders are college students, professors and other employees of the university at the other end of the line (NC State University). That bus continues to downtown Raleigh and the other half of the riders are typically state employees and other business professionals. Broadly speaking, that inter-city bus is roughly 20% minority.

The second route originates from a central transfer station in downtown Raleigh for both inbound and outbound buses (hub and spoke arrangement with cross line connectors only during rush hours). I am familiar with most of the routes that come into the square and that even the buses coming from the more affluent areas of the city are occupied primarily with African Americans, with a significant percentage of Hispanics. In that environment, I am the minority both in the transit mall and on the bus (and many days the singular one "minority" on the bus). The route I am on passes through the state government complex and out through a retail/commercial zone and it ends several miles beyond my office at a shopping mall.

It is witness, however, to two Americas and two different classes of social economics. I can tell when the price of gasoline approaches $3.00 because the ridership goes up exponentially particularly on the Raleigh CAT system. The intercity Triangle Transit also fluctuates somewhat with gasoline prices but the fact that the bus pass comes with the university fees and as a benefit for university employees is a reason for the fairly steady ridership that has developed on this route.

There are some that don't want to deal with the hassle or see public transportation in the light of some sort of stigma (they want their "freedom"). Some perceive danger.

frankly, if more people wanted to use the system it would strain the capacity. Adding more buses in the middle of the day saw the opposite effect of what some systems report...increased ridership because the schedule allowed for more flexible timings to get from Point A to Point B.

It is hardly a model, but it is a start. And for me it is one I've used since 2005. In a year, when our offices move, it will actually be faster for me to take the bus than to drive my car (parking is the biggest and most expensive hassle). It will be interesting to see how my coworkers respond to this option given our new location.

I guess another point is that you can segregate a train into first-class and coach to separate the elite from the rabble, yet the train may still arrive late, "losers" and "winners" alike.

Having entirely different lines only works if you can avoid switching congestion.

I guess another point is that you can segregate a train into first-class and coach to separate the elite from the rabble, yet the train may still arrive late, "losers" and "winners" alike.

I think the 1st class vs coach started with trains and ships, then went to planes.

Seems it has always been there.

I can forsee when business class seating and such become part of a train operator's strategy for increased profits, if it is not already being done.

It made more sense with primitive trains and stagecoaches where you pay extra for a roof.

It is already being done, and has always been - have a look at Amtrak's website - they offer business class on many service.

This is merely a good business strategy, and well proven in practice.

The practice did indeed start with ships, which were around long before trains.

The British term "posh" has its origins in passenger ships. The route from Britain to India used to run around the cape of Africa. Outbound from Britain, the portside (left side) had the view of the land, much more interesting than cabins on the starboard side, where you just got the sea. On the way back, it was reversed. The more well off were prepared to pay a premium for the view, and would request a cabin that was Port Outbound, Starboard Homebound, which became POSH and, since only the moneyed set could afford it, the term stuck!

For urban transit, I haven;t seen a two class system, though there is no reason why it couldn't be done, though it might be controversial on a public system. I would be happy to pay a premium for a clean, separate train car, and have cheaper fares for those who don't. You would just make the first car the first class car, divide the platform for separate entry, have a nicer waiting area etc etc. Some people might complain, but it's no different to having limo service or taxi, a burger joint or a nice restaurant, etc It would remove one of the objections some people have to using transit.

Hey Starship, glad to see another RDU'er here. I have lived in Chapel Hill and Raleigh for the last 15 years and have never needed to own a car because of the bus system that they have set up. The Raleigh CAT needs to operate much longer and much more often in my opinion to be more attractive and needs to be subsidized a bit more.

I was living in Chapel Hill when they switched the system to the free buses. Wow, the ridership boomed. Most times when school is in you can't get a seat on the bus. And many of these people get on for distances less then a mile. And they claim that Chapel Hill and Carrboro have such an "eco-friendly" population. But I say start charging a dollar a ride again and you will see the ridership there drop.

People will pay for and use buses only when they have to, like we see in Raleigh because of the poorer population.

Possibly interesting observation from the last time I was in Atlanta. I was riding the train from Buckhead to the airport at about 6:00 PM. From Buckhead to downtown, the train was filled with what I judged to be working-class people heading in to do night-shift kinds of things -- eg, lots of cleaning service uniforms present. When we got downtown, the train emptied except for a handful like me, then refilled with people in business suits. Both groups seemed much more subdued than I would expect from passengers in NYC.

NYC trains are fundamentally different from many new light rail systems in that you can actually use them for things other than commuting (even if that's still the majority of riders). I have occasionally wondered if the success of the NYC subways can be attributed to the local geography, which tended to encourage development in relatively long narrow corridors.

I think the success of the NYC subways, like the success of the "T" in Boston, is due to insane traffic in the city, and no parking. Often, a job or an apartment in the city doesn't come with parking. You have to wait for months on a waiting list, for the "privilege" of paying hundreds of dollars a month to rent a parking space. Plus, public transportation is often faster, just because of the congestion. I used to commute to the city via rail, and if it rained, I was always the first one in the office, because everyone else was stuck in traffic.

That said...the attitude toward punctuality is different in the city. If you're within an hour of the scheduled time, you're not really considered late. People just expect delays. While in, say, Minnesota, 10 minutes late is late.

And if something goes wrong and you're using commuter rail...you're trapped. There's no way out. There are no detours, as there are if a highway is closed.

...and no parking.

Bingo. No place to put the 1.3 million cars if every commuter drove solo into Manhattan. It's a crowded tiny island and you'd need an unbelievable number of parking decks/ramps/structures. However, for many commutes, company van pools are quicker than the transit system despite the incredible traffic. It helps to live near an express train line that gets you close to where you're going. It also helps if you don't need to transfer - within Manhattan, some services are frequent, but when you're entering or leaving, lots of services only run every twenty minutes or half-hour even during the rush periods, making transfers costly.

Bingo. No place to put the 1.3 million cars if every commuter drove solo into Manhattan.

The NYC trains were successful well before parking cars became a limiting factor. The shape of Manhattan Island -- "crosstown" never being more than a couple of miles -- allows 13 miles of track to put the entire adult population within a 20-30 minute walk of rail service. The Moscow system has 180 miles of track and probably doesn't cover its population as well. Denver is building 122 miles of light rail and won't even come close to that kind of coverage.

Seriously, the ideal for practical transit-oriented development is long narrow population centers, and Manhattan is probably the best example in the world. Moscow is a good example of how much harder it is when your population pattern is circular.

Trains were successful in a lot of places before cars were an option for the masses.

I routinely take the NYC subways, the Metro North and the PATH. I'm retired and can usually avoid the crush. All of the annoyances you mentioned do occur, sometimes, but it's only once in a while. I take all three every time I go from Jersey City to visit my son, his wife and our grandkids in Tarrytown. I could drive and save an hour, but I find the trip very relaxing and comfortable. Plus I can read. Often I skip the subway and walk from 33 to Grand Central. Also very pleasant. And I love Grand Central off peak. So there.

Of course the best way to get around NYC, if your retired or on vacation, is walk! In the last months I've walked the GW, BB, MB, WBB. I walked under the Varrazano in SI. Walking on it disallowed -- although a guy at the museum near it says some walk half-way, then jump.

Yes, I hate cars and even more planes (and airports). Peak oil? Bring it on -- I'm ready. Well, sort of.

In fairness, being in a car you may have more options for rerouting yourself (until you get stuck in a traffic jam you can't divert out of). Even if road network circumstances mean there's no route you can take to arrive on time, just being able to make (impotent) decisions make people feel better. In contrast, whenever I start a rail journey I feel that I'm "going ballistic" (in the original sense that I've stopped being able to influence my trajectory) until I eventually arrive at my destination.

"Mass transit is for the masses, not for Me."

Sorry for not being politically correct, but that is how I feel. A few years ago I rode the bus in Las Vegas, just for the experience.

Just because I'm PO aware doesn't mean I'm going to leave the party early.

That's interesting, I rode the bus in North Las Vegas too during night time. That's the last time I ride a bus there without a gun.

Unfortunately, in America, a lot of mass transit doesn't seem safe. Not having any statistics I have no idea if this is true, but from watching the local news there seems to be an awful lot of stories about violence on busses, at bus stops, etc.

My spouse used to commute via the LRT we have available in our city. That ended when her commute time coincided with a local high school release and groups of "thugs" with zero dicipline getting on the train and starting fights amongst themselves and generally harassing the other passengers. Her safety is worth more to me than a few gallons of gasoline.

I have ridden the "express" commuter busses that originate from large lots in far flung suburbs. Those have all felt very safe and are much more enjoyable than 25 miles of stop and go traffic. Same goes for the commuter rail I've taken in cities such as Chicago.

The difference is the commuter mass transit vs. the intra-city transit. That's not to say all inner city mass transit isn't safe. You just have to be sensible about mass transit. No different than remembering to lock the doors of a car when you park it. Just an extra layer of caution.

Unfortunately, in America, a lot of mass transit doesn't seem safe.

Unfortunately, In America, a lot of the whole country is not safe. I've traveled in third-world countries undergoing revolutions that were safer places to travel in. However, I could offer a few suggestions for traveling on mass transit that have worked for me over the years:

1) Travel with your kung-fu club. You get on the train with a boisterous bunch of guys, many of them of oriental appearance. Some of them joking aim kicks at other's heads, and others laughingly block the kicks. Tough-looking punks retreat to the far end of the car and avoid making eye contact.

2) Travel with an international rugger team. You can't really make a lot of conversation with these guys because you only come up to about waist level on them, and they aren't good conversationalists, but who's going to mess with a bunch of guys who's chest expansion is bigger than their IQ.

3) Travel with a refugee from some third-world war situation. Years ago I toured New York by subway with a refugee from the Iranian revolution. Any time he saw a particularly tough-looking dude carrying a bicycle chain he'd go up and ask directions. And the guy would give him directions. It was all body language: "I've been shot at with rocket-propelled grenades, why would I worry about a stupid bicycle chain". And you could see the tough-looking dudes sympathized with that.

3) Travel with someone who appears to be an extremely successful Mafia hit man. I just mention this because I had a friend who they wouldn't let into a bar because of his ripped blue jeans. He said, "No problem, I've got a suit in my truck". He walked in wearing a very expensive three-piece pinstriped suit and silk tie. He was actually a tough-looking biker, 6'8" tall, heavily bearded, and build like Mount Everest. But with the expensive suit and tie, plus a few gold chains and rings, the combination just freaked people out. The whole bar went quiet, and stayed quiet until he left. He looked like the sort of person the really dangerous people don't mess with unless they want to become embedded in concrete at the bottom of some river.

I just mention these concepts because they've worked for me over the years. I like to visit new cities by subway because I like to get a look at the underside of things, and it's important to do this in a safe manner. I've never had to use the kung-fu training, the pepper spray, or the sword cane, so it has been pretty successful.

2) Travel with an international rugger team. You can't really make a lot of conversation with these guys because you only come up to about waist level on them, and they aren't good conversationalists, but who's going to mess with a bunch of guys who's chest expansion is bigger than their IQ.

Nice funny post, but you've tripped over your own stereotype on the "rugger" team. Rugby is traditionally a semi-elite, middle-class sport, and remains so in many of the scores of countries that play it. And even though they are seriously big guys, they also tend to be university educated, and following retirement from football, go on to lucrative careers as writers, merchant bankers, stockbrokers, doctors, and lawyers.

Perhaps you should have stuck with some NFL teams.

or a rugby league team, quite a difference there...

Explaining the differences between Rugby Union and Rugby League to our North American cousins would be a challenge in itself ... let alone the class and cultural distinctions and antecedents between the two codes ...

True, but the best way of explaining it I have ever heard is that Rugby Union is a thug's game played by gentlemen, and League is a gentlemen's game played by thugs!

I grew up playing Aussie rules in Canberra, and then at Univ of NSW, our competition between residences was Union first semester and league 2nd - a bit of an adjustment for me. Being a 2nd rower, I enjoyed league more. My favourite thing was to put boot to the ball - I could kick further than any of the backs, and the other team never expect a forward to do that. One time I chased down my own bomb, got to the fullback the same time as the ball did. he was looking up and didn't see me coming - flattened him, he dropped the ball, I picked it up and scored under the posts - best rugby moment I ever had!

Thankfully I stopped playing before anything got damaged - I think...

I completed a triple-play from first base in a competition softball game once, in Canberra. Could have possibly made a fourth out at third base as well, but we didn't need to, of course. That and a hole-in-one in a schoolboy comp at Leura GC ... my two moments in sport ... but I think we're a tad off-topic.

Knowing, as I do, little or nothing about the sport of rugby, the only comments I could make were that 1) most of them were about twice my size, and 2) nobody appeared to be interested in starting a fight with them. So naturally I felt quite safe riding the subway with them.

I believe that some of them had advanced degrees from prestigious universities, but that really didn't change my impression that their chest expansions were bigger than their IQs. Of course, that would be in metric so you have to deal with the conversion issues.

The problem is that the cities themselves do better in a post-peak world, at least initially, as overall distances are shorter than in the suburbs. So right know we've got this strange situation where the middle class and wealthy live in arrangements which are not going to survive i.e. bedroom communities far from shopping/work, and driving large, gas guzzling cars to your hearts content.

Having said that, there are alternatives to public transport. I myself will gladly drive an electric motorbike or Tato Nano around long before I take the bus, train, or subway.

I just don't see why Americans are obsessed with extremes, which show up in our politics as well. It's not as if we have to choose between pickups/SUVs driving 40 mile commutes on the one hand, and herding everyone onto a train or bus on the other. If you live close to work/shopping and have an electric or ultraefficient vehicle, you have no problem.

Where are people going to in this post-peak world? Commuting to their jobs in the city? What jobs would those be?

How does food get transported into the city?

A post-peak world is not like today, only with somewhat more expensive gasoline.

It is statistically more dangerous to get in a car everyday then to get on a bus everyday.

It is statistically more dangerous to get in a car everyday then to get on a bus everyday.

Such is true. It is an order of magnitude safer to ride the bus than a car. Having been on a bus that broadsided a car that ran a red light, I can vouch for the veracity of that. From the bus perspective, it was just an unusually quick stop. From the car perspective, it was pretty unpleasant.

That's interesting, I rode the bus in North Las Vegas too during night time. That's the last time I ride a bus there without a gun.

I hate public transit too. Speaking of Las Vegas though, when we were there it was a Saturday night and we walked over to see the water fountain display at the Bellagio. There were a lot of people, and the strange thing I noticed was there were no police anywhere. How can a city like Vegas have no police walking the beat? Then some twenty somethings ran into us and knocked by wife off balance and I caught her, but no apology, nothing. That's when I realized your on your own in Vegas.

Vegas has traditionally been "policed" by the mob. They had their fingers in all the gambling there, and everyone knew that you did not mess with customers. People worried about being mugged on the way back to their hotels with their winnings might not come back.

I've heard that has been breaking down over the last few years, but historically, there have been a lot fewer muggings, robberies, etc., than you would expect for a town with so much cash being flashed around late at night.

How can a city like Vegas have no police walking the beat? Then some twenty somethings ran into us and knocked by wife off balance and I caught her, but no apology, nothing. That's when I realized your on your own in Vegas.

There are significant cultural issues involved there. Someone I know said he was walking with his wife in Tokyo, and a bunch of young punks started bothering them. A policeman came up to him, and said, "Are these young punks bothering you?" and he said "Yes". A bunch of police with nightsticks descended on the youths, beat the absolute living hell out of them, and hauled them off to jail. When the westerner expressed astonishment at this, the policeman said, "That's what we always do. They have to learn to have more respect for people."

As I say, cultural differences.

Hi, Turnbull,

I am afraid I must agree with you; when I lived in the city I simply changed all my habits as necessary to avoid the city buses except when absolutely necessary.since I already owned a car, I just drove AWAY from town to do such shopping as was necessary, and walked to restaurants and to the university, or rode a bicycle-due to lack of parking near campus..

Ater three trips of less than five hunderd miles via greyhound, I never took an intercity bus again, seeing hitching AS A BETTER FASTER AND CHEAPER option.So if I didn't have a car available at a particular time, I rode my thumb and my conversational abilities thereafter.

Of course if I live a while lot longer and need to travel, I guess I will just have to learn to love the bus.People excepting the cops don't stop for hitchhikers these days.

"Mass transit is for the masses, not for Me."

Sorry for not being politically correct, but that is how I feel.

That brings to mind an interesting conversation I had with one of my numerous nephews. He may have suffered a bit from delusions of affluence, since his father was a VP of a major oil company (which shall remain nameless but its initials are BP)

Anyway, he was transportationless because his Honda Civic had suffered some kind of mechanical trauma, and his father wasn't interested in giving him enough money to have a mechanic fix it. He felt he it would be a useful learning experience for his son to fix his own car just like he did when he was young.

I pointed out to the kid that in the interim, he could take the bus. He looked down his nose at me and said, "Buses are for the OTHER half!"

I said, "You're completely misunderstanding the situation. Buses are for YOUR half!"

He was completely crushed, but it was a reality check for him. If you can't drive, well, get used to taking the bus.

This may become a reality for a lot of Americans in the future, but unfortunately the way things are going they may not have a bus to take.

Nice pseudo-Marxist snark, but no cigar. Where I used to work, it took 18 minutes by car, 25 with the likely worst delay such as snow-in-progress. It took 70 minutes in the AM and 90 in the PM by bus, with a half-hour or hour delay any time a connection was missed, and utter chaos at the mere sight of a snowflake. (The difference owed to the quirky complicated schedule which involved four different combinations of routes depending on the time of day; the bus doesn't even go where I work now so I no longer pay it any attention.)

On top of that, if there's an accident or traffic tie-up or construction, it's easy to reroute with a car (or even a bicycle.) By contrast, the bus just blindly goes on going where it goes, following the official map no matter how many hours it might take. Nor is the map is comprehensive enough to permit one to select a different route even if, as with construction, one does have fair warning. Of course that sort of thing is a management issue, but when you're dealing with incompetent quasi-tenured box-ticking government jobsworths, such issues have no practical solutions.

I just don't know anyone who has two hours a day to waste utterly, irrespective of what they might see or smell or hear in the course of wasting it. So if someone wants to provide competently-run transit service that actually runs frequently and on time and on Sundays too (rather than undisciplined pseudo-service seemingly meant mainly to provide employment of last resort for those so stupid as to be unable to grasp getting the noon bus underway when the big hand and little hand are both on the twelve) then go for it. In the meantime fuhgedaboudit.

In addition, the places I've been that had comprehensive and efficient service, including among others Amsterdam, Tokyo and - very marginally - Manhattan, were all wall-to-wall ground-to-sky people. I know few North Americans who really desire to live that way (and I surely don't suppose the rural-nostalgia buffs so prominent on TOD Drumbeats could be counted among them), and if they aren't already living in Manhattan or San Francisco (or Toronto), they are free to move there if they wish. Oh, and even to go into Manhattan it's often considerably faster to use a company van pool (the big barrier to driving in is not the severe congestion, but parking) than the pokey, antiquated transit system.

Nor, getting back to the tiresome class-warfare meme, do I see any valid reason why someone ought to choose a mode where they've got a good chance over a period of years of being mugged or knifed, which is a problem with some transit lines. Nor, actually, at the end of the day, do I even see any valid reason why someone needs to choose a mode where they will regularly be assaulted merely by bad smells. After all, breathing is not optional; they just don't owe that to anyone. Sorry. (Strange, though, that while looking is much more optional than breathing, it's the saggy pants, of all things in public places and conveyances, that get the legislative attention.)

That is a good example of why buses are not the answer. For transit to be really effective, in a big city (500k plus) it needs to be separated from the traffic, on a dedicated ROW (like a busway, or separate rail line) or grade separated, above or below ground.
The newest line added to Vancouver's Sky Train system (elevated, completely grade separated system) gets you from downtown to the airport in about half the driving time, and to Richmond (end of the 12 mile line) in 2/3 of the driving time. Trains run every four minutes. There is no point in driving. It has also improved business in the city - people living near the lines, who don;t work in the city, can easily go in for a night out, and do. This, coupled with excellent policing of the trains and stations makes it a safe system to use day or night - anything less is unacceptable.

When the system is more convenient than cars, many more people will use it. But even if it's not faster/more convenient, those who can afford to own cars and drive still benefit, because the transit system takes so many cars off the road, making the commute faster.

The real benefit of transit is achieved when people are able to live ion the city without owning a car, or at, the very least, without needing to be two car family. Transit also acts a as a magnet for development, with more shops/services around the stations, and high density accommodation close by, it becomes a positive feedback.
The real problem is adding transit into spread out suburbs - you can;t serve the all. The transit planners must pick the areas most likely to be successful. The moneyed set still wins by heaving less people on their roads..

As for not knowing many North Americans who want to live the European way, ask some people in their 20's about owning a car - their objective is no longer to get one as soon as possible, it is to do without one for as long as possible. If this keeps up for a whole generation, our cities will start to look quite different.

That is a good example of why buses are not the answer.

Quite so in the larger places. In smaller cities, routine traffic congestion is less of an issue, but road-construction projects, incompetent uncaring management, and undisciplined drivers - almost any bloke can drive a bus - remain as problems. There is also the problem that the bus stops at every bloody corner just because it can, while light or heavy rail tends to have a more reasonable distance between stops.

...ask some people in their 20's about owning a car - their objective is no longer to get one as soon as possible...

Yeah, maybe, but I'm not in a big city, so I don't see it, and those objectives may well change if the recession eases. I think that in the USA you'd be wanting to be in a city of a million or more for that, though there will be those from smaller places who pop up in these discussions and pretend that their idiosyncratic circumstances are scalable. But in those big cities you'd better have plenty of money, in which case keeping up a car is not a problem, or else be prepared to live in dangerous surroundings.

What I do see, as I've said before, is lots of abandoned bicycles left behind at the end of each university semester. Occasionally there is the ceremonial smashing-up of one of the cheaper/rustier ones, which might be said to symbolize a resolve to leave enforced childhood behind and drive from now on, as many of one's now-adult high-school peers who didn't go to college have been privileged to do all along. Of course the act of trading in a bus pass or a long walk (rather than a bicycle) for a car leaves no such physical evidence, but I don't suppose the spirit of it is very much different.


The interesting thing is, that in smaller cities in, say, the UK, they still have train systems, and they work very well. The best example I can think of locally is Portland, but if that city was in Europe it would have way more train lines than it does now. It is not too expensive, either.

For a lot of smaller cities here, they started out as small towns and just expanded, never densifying. And because of that, adding in rail transit after the fact was never deemed worth it, until they were so big that they had missed the chance, and there is no land left for ROW's. When it gets to the point that people are driving over an hour to work, it's inefficient. For small cities of up to about 300-500k, this is rarely an issue.

What I find most interesting is where you have geographical constraints to sprawl, usually mountains, or coast, but sometimes rivers or even international boundaries. Those places knew their limits from the start and so made the most of the land they have (e.g. Hong Kong). The opposite, the prairie city, just keeps on growing. For the farmers on the edge, always the best thing they can do (from a money point of view) is sell for redevelopment, so the sprawl carries on.

One of the other reasons why European cities are so compact, is that most of them were established in a time where it would have to be defended at some point, so you keep everything close, and leave the open farmland surrounding it. American cities have never had to worry about this, since about 1812.

And indeed geographical constraints work to some extent. The lakes where I am make part of the city somewhat linear, with less need than usual for criscrossing (east-west and north-south) bus lines. This reduces costs somewhat and means that there is somewhat more service than normal for a city this size (ca. 250,000.) This effect has lessened in recent years as the city has grown beyond the constraints. (There is also a large university campus which increases demand somewhat, as well as providing all those abandoned bicycles.)

A similar effect occurs with Manhattan, which is long and narrow. Almost all of the service useful within Manhattan runs north-south (actually SSW-NNE.) Crosstown, i.e. east-west, buses manage maybe 1mph, 2mph on the outside, during the day, so when possible one enters Manhattan on the correct subway line to get to one's destination rather than even attempt to go crosstown within Manhattan.

Alan from Big Easy will probably jump inhere soon, but your city doesn't sound too small, and a university campus is a prime candidate - a very high concentration of people.

What is your city?

Madison, Wis., which is not a tiny city, but not really like Milwaukee or Calgary or other big cities either. There's not quite the sort of traffic that would push people into a rail system. Plus, if they ever tried to do the commuter rail it would cost a bundle to fix the existing wobbly 15mph freight tracks, and with any sort of decent service people would go flat out bonkers from the immensely loud train horns mandated by the Federal government. Those can be heard up to a couple of miles away but when it's only three or four freights a day it's bearable. As I said, I think it's unlikely I'll see more than buses in my lifetime.

When I read your earlier post, I knew you had to be from Madison (lakes, 250,000 people, University). I’ve lived in Madtown twice. I have to admit that the idea of spending my post-peak existence there was one of the reasons I left *both* times, if you can believe that. Still, I love the place, and I might be back if I can figure out how to make it work. Like a moth to flame...

I was told that Madison is a pretty cool place, as most university towns are. Just looking at it on Google maps, I'd say the elements are there for a train system, actually. Calgary built it's LRT in the CP Rail ROW, and it is a Y shaped system, as is your current rail network. You could use the existing tracks, and at only 4 trains a day, they are not too busy. There are different rules about bells and the like for passenger trains (they can stop faster). Self propelled passenger trains could operate on the existing tracks, but then they have to meet the collision strength requirements of freight trains (800,000lb impact load) which means they have to be heavy. When you do a separate line, you can use light, or very light trains. Part of the old ROW is now the SW commuter path, that could be reinstated, for a light trains, and still have a commuter path alongside.

If it was me, I would look to start using the existing tracks and work within the constraints of freight traffic. Here in Vancouver they have a 30 mile passenger train route that runs on the freight tracks - it is very well utilised. A streetcar/train will get double the ridership of an ordinary bus, just a much better way to travel

Your city planners should visit Calgary and see how it was done, very successful, very cheap. Go there in early July, during the Calgary Stampede, for a party you'll not soon forget.

Madison is a great place to commute by bike, mostly flat and bike friendly. In winter, you don't even develop much of a sweat getting to work (studded tires are recommended). On really rainy days the bus system is quite satisfactory.

I take the bus to work several times a week and it is a long convoluted affair with transfers etc...

However - I run into far fewer lunatics on the buses than I do driving my typical commute.

The NASCAR wannabees around here tend to stay far away from the buses because a.) the bus is much larger than even their ridiculously oversized "commuter" pick-ups and they know it is a battle they will lose badly and b.) my typical bus driver is even more of a crazy person than they are...

Strangely the effect for me is a much less stressful ride to work... I am far more worried about being collected in wreck with some road raging idiots on the days I drive than I am being knifed or mugged on the bus.

I just don't know anyone who has two hours a day to waste utterly, irrespective of what they might see or smell or hear in the course of wasting it.

So much for my time trying to keep up with Drumbeat.

See, that's what I forgot. Our buses (some but not all, yet) have free wireless connection. And when I have to wait the 25 minutes for the connection between buses (in the morning), the downtown area as well as the coffee shops in the area have free wireless internet connections. If push comes to shove I can use my smartphone as a modem, but it serves me well enough for managing short email replies and texting as well as...phone calls when I'm riding one of the busses not yet equipped with WiFi.

More importantly, our bus systems (both them) do reroute due to traffic accidents, but not for the typical over-capacity stop and roll parking lots that our streets and highways sometimes become. However, in some areas along the route, the ability to go a different route is limited by lakes (and everyone else knows the route that your bus driver is trying to take).

Having someone else worry about the driving while I relax is a benefit as I close my laptop down somewhere on the ride home.

Where I used to work, it took 18 minutes by car, 25 with the likely worst delay such as snow-in-progress. It took 70 minutes in the AM and 90 in the PM by bus

You see, that's the fundamental problem with American transportation planning. Where I used to work, it took 15 minutes by driving, 18 minutes by light rail transit, 20 minutes by bus, 30 minutes by bicycle, or an hour by walking. Normally, I walked or bicycled because I needed the exercise, but if the weather was bad I took the LRT, and if LRT was delayed because it had killed somebody in a car that ran a red light, I took the bus. However, this was in Canada (Calgary, to be exact).

Calgary sprawls much like most American cities, but it does have a pretty good public transit system, the busiest LRT system in North America (excluding the Toronto streetcar system if you consider that LRT) a lot of good walking paths, and probably the largest bicycle path system system in North America.

It's all about choices. If you want good public transportation, you have to ask for it. If the politicians don't wan't to provide it, you have to vote them out of office and vote in others willing to provide it. If you can't find such people, you have to run for office yourself. If you don't do these things you aren't going to get good public transportation.

Now, note that Calgary is the headquarters of most of the oil companies in Canada, and Canada has considerably more oil than the US. The US doesn't have much oil left, and the Chinese are locking up what is available in other countries. So, you might want to consider the question: "If I couldn't drive to work, what would I do?" This is not an idle question.

If the politicians don't want to provide it, you have to vote them out of office and vote in others willing to provide it.

Hmmm... to do that, I'd also have to vote out most of the voters, who don't want to "vote in others willing to provide it". Part of it is a chicken-and-egg problem - it's hard to find a well-run efficient system to use as an example, and systems in other countries don't cut much ice especially when you look at some of the fares. Part of it is money - the rail systems are hideously expensive to build, so you either build a starter system you can afford but that serves only a privileged few and thus garners no votes, or else you build something at vast cost that repels votes (I'm not in a big city like Calgary; I don't seriously expect to see anything but buses in my lifetime where I am, though there has for decades been talk of a commuter line that would be useful to a few.) Part of it is density - in those (rare) less-populated areas with decent service, one must often drive to the train station or bus stop anyhow, so why not save a big bunch of time by continuing on and driving the rest of the way (the fixed car expenses will be about the same either way and the incremental cost is small.)

Oh, and part of it is the crushing transit operating costs. As far as I can tell from the numbers bandied about whenever the various agencies in my region are mewling for ever bigger subsidies, which is just about always, it costs roughly the same to bring a commuter into town by bus or rail as it does by solo-driven car, even with, for example, the bus running on untaxed fuel and thus contributing nothing to the upkeep of the streets it so efficiently tears up.

...consider the question: "If I couldn't drive to work, what would I do?"

This being TOD, entirely appropriate. Let's consider it. If I couldn't drive because I was out of work, it's sort of a moot point. If I couldn't drive because a depression was (in effect) making it too costly to do so, then by the same token the gargantuan subsidies making transit fares seem cheap might well go away (we probably couldn't borrow them from China for "free" any more), leaving the transit also too costly to use. If I couldn't drive because of an oil embargo or downslope, then I'd have two problems - the bus, which is all I'm going to get, runs on diesel and there aren't a lot of diesel cars to take the fuel away from; and there aren't buses/trains in idle reserve, so the system capacity would not suddenly increase (much), leaving the bus so utterly swamped by furious people as to be useless and possibly dangerous. (Under such conditions, people in poor countries in Africa who have jobs and manage to hold onto them seem to end up walking huge distances to and from work, or camping there.)

After due consideration sufficient for a blog comment, the range of scenarios where any transit I'm actually going to get, namely diesel buses, would be genuinely useful and usable seems narrower than even I might have thought. One seems to need precisely the right level of income loss or oil shortage, no more and no less. What are the odds that it will turn out just so?

Now, don't get doomerish about transit. Just because so many places get it wrong, doesn't mean it can;t be done right.
Many train systems end up being hideously expensive because they are cadillac systems, fancy trains rated for high speeds, fancy stations, etc - perfect is the enemy of good enough. Many bus systems are poorly planned, have overpaid unionised workforces, etc. If it is planned and operated in a business like fashion it will be much more successful.

Calgary built their train system at $25m/mile, the cheapest in north america, by careful selection of their ROW, and a bit of planning. It carries 300,000 trips a day (that's 150,000 people out of a city of 1m). It costs all of $160/hr to operate a train (includes driver, elec, and all maintenance of train and ROW). The fares are $2.75 single trip and $85 for a monthly pass - any and all buses and trains.

Now, if you are going to stay with buses, you can run them on electricity, Vancouver has hundreds of trolley buses. Set up the bus with a larger battery backup, and it can even run off the grid for short distances, so you only have to string the lines along the main streets.

Or you can run buses on natural gas, Bakersfield, Ca runs almost its entire fleet on NG - air is much cleaner than with diesel.
You can also run diesel engines on ethanol! Sweden is doing this. I think ethanol would be available in many country towns in the US.

As for your comments about a shortage of buses, well, yes, and no. You would be right in saying there is not much spare capacity with municipal buses - if they have them, they are probably being used. But, consider this. Almost every town has a fleet of school buses - they run once in the morning, driving past 90% of the population, and again in the afternoon. Other than that, they sit idle. My town has twice as many school buses as municipal, so you could actually increase the passenger capacity by 2.5x if you decided to run your school buses as public buses. They are not as nice as municipal for sure, but they are already there, have drivers, etc. That would a be a phenomenally cheap way to increase capacity.

You should also know that during WW2, millions of vehicles, including buses, were converted to run on woodgas, this could be done again if need be. The buses can also run on methanol, ethanol, vegetable oil. There are lots of alternatives, if you are motivated enough, and the oil shortage you portray would be sufficient motivation. Not only that, with the high price of gasoline and/or rationing that would likely happen, the bus would be a good alternative, if not mandated. In wartime there were sever restrictions on private vehicle use.

For transit to be successful, it has to be done to get people from A and B to C, and back.. It (train) cannot cover the whole town, nor should it try. Eventually, the town will move to it, density increasing around transit corridors is well proven. It must also be done such that it is possible for some people to go carless, or families to become one car families. Almost all money spent on cars leaves the town's economy. If people have that money back, they are more likely to spend it on other things, like their house, clothes, restaurants etc. Do some back of the envelope numbers about how much of your car expenses stay in the town - less than 10% - they are a huge drain on local economies.

RMG is right, it is really up to the people to make the change. Look at any city with a well managed transit system and you will see a successful city - try to take their transit away and see what reaction you get. People feel more attached to their city, and less to the cars - that is the key.

There was not 310,000,000 people and still increasing in the U.S. during WWII. Vegetable oil, ethanol, and other organic liquid fuel sources are not going to make up for oil exports drying up and maintaining BAU.

You are correct there, but the objective is not to try to maintain BAU, American style. The objective is to make the cities (and the country in general) less transport dependent. When you cut down the fuel use by substituting transit, densifying cities, not flying to hawaii for vacations, electrified rail, not using heating oil, etc, you have a much better shot at substituting a meaningful part of the remaining fuel usage with biofuels.

There is nothing like a shortage to make people take a real hard look at what fuel usage is necessary, and what is not. If there is rationing, then producing biofuels to augment it is a very plausible scenario.

And given that biofuels are something that can be done on a small or large scale, you can expect to see more and more people/farms/forests go into the business of it.

it doesn't mean a lowering of out living standards either, (in some cases it would improve them) it just means that unlimited personal transport will become a very expensive luxury - we will adapt and find ways to carry on without it.

There was not 310,000,000 people and still increasing in the U.S. during WWII. Vegetable oil, ethanol, and other organic liquid fuel sources are not going to make up for oil exports drying up and maintaining BAU.

Yes, but during WWII the vast majority of passengers and goods were carried on rail systems that ran on coal and electricity. Certainly in the post-war era the US converted to a society moved by private automobiles that ran on gasoline, but the coal and electricity are still available. If you don't have gasoline, you can always put the rail systems back in place.

Rail systems don't move people point to point.

Rail systems don't move people point to point.

Well, they do, but maybe not the points they want to move from and to.

I think you are trying to say that they don't provide transportation from some completely random point to some other completely random point in the manner that cars do. In general, that is true, but rail transportation is much more energy efficient than random car transportation. In a petroleum-constrained world, people may want to become more selective in where and how they travel.

A small motorcycle is a better deal than a train, we'd be riding around on them en masse rather than trains. The infrastructure already exists for them.

Many bus systems are poorly planned, have overpaid unionised workforces, etc.

Yes, massively overpaid, and shiftless besides: we had numerous $100K+ drivers last year (that's only the cash, and doesn't include the ultra super deluxe luxury pension plan) but adherence to schedules is often very poor even during non-rush hours and weekends. However the overpaid unionised workforces are mandated by the Federal government, there is little local say in the matter.

If it is planned and operated in a business like fashion it will be much more successful.

Very possibly so, but not a chance with the Federal mandates dictating otherwise.

Does that mean there is a law against starting up a private bus company - it can ONLY be done by the government?
Or do you mean it MUST be unionised?

Either way, the US is strange...

So, you might want to consider the question: "If I couldn't drive to work, what would I do?" This is not an idle question.

I have considered it, and I already have been living the answer. Most of the time, except for those few occasions when I really do need the car, I walk to work. It is 1.7 miles each way, so it really is more of a short hike. It takes me about 45 minutes each way, which is a bit longish, but it is good exercise, I am outdoors, and clearing my mind, so that is a good investment of my time. Having done all three types of commutes (car, bus, foot), walking is clearly the most pleasant and preferable of the three. If I couldn't have the car at all, presumably other options would be available (taxis, shuttle busses) to cover the few times I'm presently driving; in any case, I'd adjust, certainly far easier than those who are 100% car-dependent.

Walking works for me because I live in a small, walkable town and live reasonably close to work. It obviously wouldn't work for someone who lives 20 miles from work - which brings them right back to your question! My answer does point them in a direction they might consider, however: bring their workplace and home into close enough proximity so that walking becomes an option, instead of being forced to be dependent upon either car or mass transit.

...bring their workplace and home into close enough proximity so that walking becomes an option, instead of being forced to be dependent upon either car or mass transit.

That's lovely when it's possible, and is therefore worth considering, but there are often snags. Many business owners like to locate in expensive areas - downtown for prestige or networking; in expensive suburbs for prestige - but the employee pay dictates "drive until you qualify." In some fields, employment is unstable; since moving is expensive and disruptive, doing it every time a job runs out (or relocates to the other end of town) may be infeasible. For couples, it may prove unlikely that both jobs are close to the home and stay that way for any great length of time. For couples with children, the parlous state of city schools even in smaller places will often be a barrier; saving the cost of gasoline or living where you must to eliminate what remains for the moment a hypothetical supply risk is just not worth your kids' safety or education. In addition, moving too frequently may be socially and educationally disruptive for the children. And in some cities - again, even smaller ones - some part of a long walking route may be unsafe even if the home and the job site are both reasonably safe; the medical co-pays from a mugging will buy an enormous amount of gasoline (and before any of you Canadians get too smug, some of the provinces are apparently trying to institute co-pays, which would be token for now but consider them to be the thin edge of an inevitably thick wedge.) Everyone's mileage will vary and there is no universally scalable blanket solution.

Things are going to have to change. If rich businessmen want employees, they are going to have to move to where it's convenient, or offer housing for their workers (as was often done in the past). A lot of companies moved from Manhattan to NJ after 9/11; if they can do that, they can move to where the workers are. If couples both have jobs - and that may not be the case if the economy goes in the tank - they'll have to figure something out. I already know families where one parent lives separately, just because commuting would take too long. And already, a lot of parents are putting their kids back into public school, because they can't afford private school any more.

In the old days, and in many old towns today (including the one I live in), it was common for the family to live above the store. We may be going back to that. Not because of nostalgia, but because economics dictates it.

The real issue is that those in the upper layers of society don't want to have to rub shoulders with, or even see or smell or hear, people from the lower layers of society.

Certainly plenty of truth in that statement. However I can remember many a daily commute on the subways of NYC where I would find myself jammed tightly between a wealthy stockbroker reading the WSJ and someone who was panhandling...

So there may be some hope yet.

Responding to my own comment I just wanted to point out that no one picked up on the analysis. This is arguably a hugely complex problem -- trying to predict the distribution of time delays -- and no one has really treated it properly.

Yet this fits into the theme of what I am always trying to get across. These seemingly intractable problems have simple analytical descriptions because the complexity fills up the space and one can then use ordinary entropy arguments to solve the problem.

Thanks for playing along.

So how does an analytical model return value in terms of minimizing delay or predicting it?

One would surmise that even if delays are somehow self-similar at scales or similarly arrayed in distribution along a curve, there would still be a goal of shifting the spread as low on the scale as possible.

I suppose, regardless, in quantifying the probability of the delay bounding, when planning bus transfer schedules or alternative routes.

First of all, you will only get acknowledgement from the train operator of a 5 minute delay probability (at best). This analysis gives people a realistic view of the spread of delay times and their associated probabilities. It gives the rider a better sense of realistic expectations.

Its an effective characterization for congestion as well. Do the same thing for a Swiss train system and you would see a very sharp distribution with minimal delays. When the entropy of the congestion starts increasing, like it does on the British railway system, you realize that it won't naturally go away. I have been on one of those rail crawls around London, and I could walk faster than the train was traveling. The train was obviously waiting for something else to clear the switching yard.

Well, time delays may be an issue for inter city trains, or where services are 20+ minutes apart, but for intra-city trains (lrt/subway etc), where they are about 5 minutes apart, what does it really matter? The longest I ever had to wait for a train on London;s Picaldilly line was five minutes - who cares about the schedule then?

Intercity, yes it's an issue, but no more so than flight delays.

I'd rather have a train system that sometimes runs late than no train system at all!

Yes indeed. If you look at the statistics for the particular line I modeled, it ran to 60 minutes. That is basically the overlap for the next train to come along.

This is an example of a kind of stochastic scheduling. You have a pretty good idea of when the trains will arrive but the complexity of the switching and congestion causes the entropy and disorder to increase and you get this kind of spread.

Add some order to the system by reducing the complexity and things will run more smoothly. It's just a question of whether the British want to pay for it. Stiff upper lip and all.

On Mr. Groppe and a contrarain view:

I may not be a shale gas /horizontal well expert, but I have had the same general sense as was pointed out in the article. Even with the hydraulic fracturing, I've wondered about two things: the actual gas recovery rate per square foot of well contact area and the rate at which these horizontal wells fall off.

My sense is that it is a bit like stepping off a cliff when I've looked at some of the numbers and that you have to drill lots of linear feet of well to get satisfactory production.

Trooper -- And it's more then linear footage. What made the shale gas play look more viable was developing methods to do multiple frac's ("stages") per well. Early on you only saw 1 or 2 frac stages. Now 12 or more are not uncommon. But not cheap: each stage might cost $50k to $200k. That's how those initial high flow rates were generated. Not a perfect relationship but one well with 12 frac stages might produce as much as 5 or so wells with a couple of stages. But even that's not the whole story. Two wells drilled (in the same play just a few thousand feet apart) with the same length and 12 stages each might yield significantly different results. One might hit more natural fracs then the other. Not all fracs work like they were planned on paper: mechanical problems or human error.

Granted it’s broad generalization but a price base of $7 - $8 per mcf is needed for the SG plays to heat up much IMHO. Some trends more…some less. When I was working with Devon in late ’08 they started pulling their horns in fast when NG got below $6.50/mcf. In six months they went from contracting as many drill rigs as possible at any price to releasing 14 of the 18 rigs they had in E Texas. And paid a $40 million cancellation penalty to do so.

Thanks for that, Rockman.

I also happend to read a number of articles by Dave Cohen on this issue during my lunch break. Again, it all seems to fit together that this IS NOT as some people have promoted it (makes my poorly informed, but crude guesstimate of what was likely to happen as being rather prophetic, even if it was a matter of slightly informed luck.)

Re: A contrarian makes another call – this time, natural gas

“We think that we're now having a continuous, rapid decline of gas in storage,” he says. “By summer, it could get to be alarming.”


Well the EIA is soon to release "corrected" information for Natural Gas supply. Will be interesting to see if it shows the 3 bcf/day drop that EOG Resources suggest.

This chart shows the crash in conventional drilling.

The article says:

As for the shorter-term supply picture, Mr. Groppe notes that for all that horizontal drilling frenzy, shale gas accounts for just 6 per cent of U.S. natural gas production.

In the other 94 per cent – conventional gas – the rig count is 70 per cent below the pre-financial-crisis levels of September, 2008, as low prices and high inventory levels have convinced producers to keep drills idled.

The continued drop in conventional drilling is concerning. How does one get the information to calculate these numbers--I think I have mostly use the Horizontal-Vertical-Directional and state totals.

Your block quote was my takeaway also. 6%. You'd never know that for all the hype.

I think there are some categories that they are not mentioning. Tight gas, for example is neither shale gas or conventional. Same with coal bed methane. I am not sure the quote tells the whole story.

Conventional gas is about half of the total, IIRC.

6% of US production is what I keyed on-for all the attention and spillover $ to the gas industry(stock valuations) that shale gas brings, you'd think there was more produced.

That said, what does tight gas refer to, and why does that not include shale. It seems the terms are often used interchangeably.

The EIA used to provide a simple figure for NG produced from unconventional sources. Now you can only get figures for shale and coal bed, which, divided by the total for 2008, account for 7.9% and 7.6% respectively. But there is apparently much more UNG being produced:

Usually I see figures approaching 50% in press releases etc. But these are the numbers for 2007 from the Annual Energy Outlook 2010 Early Release:

Lower 48 Onshore        85.41%		
Associated-Dissolved 	 6.76%
Non-Associated		78.65%
Conventional		61.82%
Unconventional		16.83%
Shale Gas                7.25%
Coalbed Methane 	 9.58%
Lower 48 Offshore	12.74%
Associated-Dissolved	 2.68%
Non-Associated		10.02%
Alaska		         1.85%

Or in tcf:

Lower 48 Onshore        17.56
Associated-Dissolved	 1.39
Non-Associated		16.17
Conventional		12.71
Unconventional		 3.46
Shale Gas		 1.49		
Coalbed Methane		 1.97
Lower 48 Offshore	 2.62
Associated-Dissolved	 0.55
Non-Associated		 2.06
Alaska		         0.38

The graph is from the AEO 2008, which states outright that "onshore unconventional" production for 2007 was 9.15 tcf. Got confused?

In looking at the Natural Gas numbers, a person really needs to see the "indents" that the EIA shows, to tell what numbers subtotal to what other numbers. Table A14 - Oil and Gas supply, from the tables of preliminary 2010 WEO.

According to this exhibit, in 2007, shale gas amounted to 1.15 out of 19.09 tcf for the US total, or 6.0%. For 2008, it was estimated to amount to 1.49 out of 20.56 tcf, or 7.2% of US total.

In Table A14, unconventional is defined to be shale gas + coal bed methane. I think of unconventional as including tight gas as well, but in this exhibit, footnote 5 (which I did not show), says that tight gas is included in conventional in this exhibit.

According to this, unconventional is totals only 3.06 out of 10.09 tcf or 16.0 % of 2007 production, and 3.46 out of 20.56 tcf in 2008 or 16.8%.

Associated-dissolved means natural gas dissolved in oil. The is the natural gas that comes from what we think of as oil wells. Non-associated conventional is what I would think of as coming from separate natural gas wells. Alaska and Lower 48 offshore don't have as many breakdowns, but it is hard to imagine any unconventional gas included in these amounts.

I know all that - my percentages are of the overall total. About the only thing in the 2010 AEO I can find about expected growth in UNG is:

A larger resource base of shale gas results in higher shale gas production overall and a higher rate of development in the AEO2010 reference case than in the updated AEO2009 reference case. As a result, production from gas shale plays in 2030 is 50 percent higher in the AEO2010 reference case, than in the updated AEO2009 reference case.

Obviously if UNG were already ca. 50% it likely couldn't increase that much more. But these previous AEOs seem to suggest it was at those levels for some reason; and as I stated before some press sources suggested as much too. There are more unconventional sources of gas than shale and coal bed, perhaps they fold these into the conventional figure now.

EIA - Annual Energy Outlook 2009 - Report Chapters

Unconventional natural gas production increases from 47 percent of the U.S. total in 2007 to 56 percent in 2030 (Figure 66).

It appears that Henry Groppe and Matt Simmons are on the same page regarding NG supplies.

BTW, regarding production numbers, do the following Thunder Horse numbers approximately match what you came up with?

Thunder Horse started in Jun 08 and produced 35,000 bpd that month.

By Jan 09, it was producing about 171,800 bpd.

By Dec 09, the main field was only producing 61,000 bpd.

Reportedly, every well in the main Thunder Horse Field, as of January, 2010, was producing some amount of water.

And reportedly Thunder Horse, North is up to about 130,000 bpd.


Thunder Horse South original production is all under lease code G14658 which makes it easy to look up (there are 4 other codes for newer wells). TH South production of oil peaked in January 2009. However it produced a record amount of water in January 2010 as seen below.


To see all of TH Production the lease codes are G09866, G09867, G09868, G14658, G19997

If the Thunder Horse North wells follow the same pattern as South then that 130 kbpd production will crash to about half that level or less during the course of this year.

The numbers I gave you are from my "Source." What I find interesting is that an industry "Cone of Silence" appears to have descended around the crash in Thunder Horse oil production. And IMO it is even more likely that BP's decision to shut-in half of the producing wells at Thunder Horse is primarily related to huge increases in water production.

BTW, why don't you write up a short post for TOD on Thunder Horse production?

I am no expert at all on Thunder Horse, but the price premium paid for Thunder Horse oil relative to other grades in the Gulf have risen very sharply in the last few weeks or so (about $3), which indirectly confirms that output from Thunder Horse has dropped off steeply.

Here is some background information from TendersInfo, from April 10:

BP will this week begin shutting down about 50 per cent of the wells feeding its showcase Thunder Horse oil and gas platform, at a cost of about $500m (£328m) due to lost production and direct construction costs, the FT has learnt. The repairs stem from BP s decision to install a temporary bypass system to minimise delays on the Thunder Horse project in US waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

Thunder Horse eventually saw its first oil in July 2008 after the company installed a temporary bypass system that connected a few wells and enabled BP to start the field with minimum production. That system was never intended to be permanent, so BP must now shut-in some of the production from the affected areas of the oilfield while it puts a permanent system in place.

Thunder Horse eventually saw its first oil in July 2008 after the company installed a temporary bypass system that connected a few wells and enabled BP to start the field with minimum production.

What nonsense they write. Thunder Horse South was comfortably exceeding its planned production before all that water got in the way.

Fantastic source of raw data, Undertow.

So who can I approach to get some funding to put all of this data into a web based system with:

  • a much friendlier user interface
  • various data visualization plots
  • sortable tables of data
  • well locations on Google Maps
  • your_requested_functionality_here

I could do all of that for $50K - $100K depending on the exact set of features. I could also host it on my server for a couple grand a year.

Aren't folks tired of wading through the data as they are currently stored?

-- Jon

You've probably found it but you can get the raw database (OGORA) in zipped ASCII format at http://www.gomr.mms.gov/homepg/pubinfo/freeasci/product/freeprod.html

And yes it would be great if it had a much more user friendly interface but maybe they don't want people to look at it too much.

I've imported it into MS Access (because I happen to have that handy) and then use SQL queries to find what I'm looking for but that's still a pain.

Hey Jon,

If you ever get the funding I'd like to help with the graphics. I'm pretty handy with "Canvas 11" an ACD systems product that I helped market to oil companies a few years ago. I own the full GIS and scientific imaging version. It is a very versatile high end technical and scientific graphics software package.

Among other things it can do this:

Canvas boasts a CGM engine that is compliant with both the Aviation Transportation Authority (ATA) and Petroleum Industry Protocol (PIP) standards and offers the highest level of fidelity of the vital CGM data. The Canvas™ 11 CGM engine offers the highest level of vital CGM data fidelity and is compliant with Aviation Transportation standards (ATA). Geologists and earth scientists can import seismic data and study it with the integrated Seismic Traces palette.

Disclaimer: I am not currently affiliated with ACD Systems in any way. I just happen to be an advanced user.

Dang FM,

I sensed that we had more in common than just a fanatic's belief in Peak Oil.

I've been using Deneba's Canvas 8 for years and years.
Never saw a need to upgrade.
How is Canvas 11 relative to the older versions?
Does it support scripting languages?
Do you work for ACD?

Aren't folks tired of wading through the data as they are currently stored?

That is what gnuplot is for :)

Tow -- I’ve seen that pattern more time then I’d like to remember: oil rate drops 50% and water cut increases from almost nothing to 30%. And all this in 12 months. It varies but natural water drive depletion doesn’t typically doesn’t hit that hard that fast on a field wide basis in my experience. So I suspect their max rate recovery approach has as much to do with the decline as the reservoir mechanics.

Well, based on those numbers, particularly the water production numbers, if I was working for BP I would be sweating pretty hard.

Actually, come to think of it, I did work for one of BP's predecessor companies, and when we did see those kind of numbers, it induced something of a state of blind panic in the production department. I recall one gas field that went from being one of the largest in North American to 100% water, 0% gas in about six months.

Fortunately, I don't work there any more, and fortunately I don't have any stock left.

However, if those things were not true, I think I might be worried. From the outside it's hard to tell what is going on, and on the inside people may be in a state of denial.

Let's see, 0% water cut, in 10/08.

42% water cut one year later, in 10/09.

I am just dumbfounded that this has been so totally ignored.

It's all about investments and spin. Get the masses interested in a field where you have a play, stir the water with some item about production beginning all around, then sell your play to someone you took in with the spin.

Of course, there is some gas there; it will be recovered, just not as fast and not at such a great profit, unless you are willing to wait until prices triple. At least that is how I see it.


I am just dumbfounded that this has been so totally ignored.

Well as the info can be sourced to the MMS, someone could update the Wikipedia Thunder Horse page with a new section "Thunder Horse South Production Crash". That might wake up the oil industry media which, as you say, seems totally blind to the problem.

The Wiki page currently says that production is exceeding its design goal - which was only true for a short period of time last year.


Thanks for that data source.

TH production is trending down at an annual decline rate of 25% which appears high, as shown below.

THS is supposed to have about twice the reserves of THN, yet THS production is lower than THN which seems odd. This source states THS reserves at 1 Gboe and THN at 0.4 Gboe.

Thunder Horse complex (THC) is estimated to have between 1 and 1.5 Gboe.

About 0.2 Gboe might be for gas, leaving a range of URR 0.8-1.3 Gb. THC has produced the first easy 0.1 Gb leaving remaining URR of 0.7-1.2 Gb, which indicates a potential production rate of 150-250 kbd, assuming an annual extraction rate of 8%. THC is likely to decline by at least 8% per year. If the decline is higher and water cuts become too high, BP may need to revise THC reserves lower.

If other recently started fields in the Gulf are experiencing similar declines then the recent ramp up in the Gulf may be temporary and declines could be quite steep by the end of the year as projected below. US Gulf projects in 2010 include Perdido capacity 100 kbd (started in March) and Chinook/Cascade to start in a few months at 80 kbd.

In 2011 there only appears to be about 40 kbd for the Gulf which is not much. Consequently, production could decline steeply in 2011, if not late this year.

The actual data for the chart has only been updated to Nov 2009 and production has almost set a new record.

Is it just improved technology or have the easy targets suitable for vertical drilling already been drilled?

Karl -- a somewhat complicated answer. I’ll use our current drilling efforts as an example. Doesn’t fit all the conventional plays but covers quit a few. In a month we’ll be drilling a 16,500’ vertical well in Texas. A “conventional” well by anyone’s standard. And thanks to some high tech (and expensive 3d seismic) an attractive probability of success. But the target covers only about 100 acres. Compare that to a typical conventional prospect I might have drilled 30 years ago that covered 1,000 acres at a depth of 10,000’ (1/2 or less then the cost of the 16,500‘ well). I know it sounds very odd but finding oil/NG today is much easier then it was 30 years ago. The problem is that there aren’t a lot of conventional targets left. That’s why we’re left with such deep small targets to shoot for today. Low productivity reservoirs, like tight sands and shales, have always ridden a roller coaster: new tech + higher oil/NG = drill as fast as possible. But that thrill ride last only as long as higher prices gin up the excitement.

That’s why the tight reservoirs are so attractive: lots of proven oil/NG. And the new technology, like horizontal drilling, makes them viable. But only at a sufficiently high enough price. And for public companies that price need not be as high as you might guess. They are forced by Wall Street to replace produced reserves every year and often with little concern about profitability. WS: “Just don’t let your proven reserve numbers fall and we’ll keep pimping your stock”. What broke the backs of Devon et al was the sudden drop in NG prices. Many of the SG wells they drilled wouldn’t recover enough to pay for their costs. But that wouldn’t be seen for years later so it was ignored. When NG prices fell so fast they weren’t able to keep up appearances: everyone knew if they drilled for less then $5 NG or so they would be loosing money. Even proved reserve increases could offset that immediate reality.

In the diagram above there is a very sharp drop of vertical wells drilled between the latest month of 2008 and the first months of 2009. Then these vertical wells start to deplete I would expect a large in natural gas production although I lack knowledge.

The most important must be how much each vertical well produce compared to a horizontal drilled well unless depletion is very slow. The production drop could of course be smoothed out but one or two years will only make a temporary difference.

Karl -- I think you’re referring to the breakdown in the type of rigs drilling. If I understand that chart correctly it has nothing to do with whether a well found production or not let alone its production profile. When they get a drilling permit they specify the target: oil, NG or both as well as if it’s vert, hz or directional (all hz wells are “directional” but not all direction wells are hz). So the chart only shows the nature of the objectives. A 50% drop in the number of rigs drilling for NG doesn’t mean 50% fewer NG are completed. Another way to look at it: if 800 wells are drilling vert for NG perhaps only 400 find NG. But drop the number looking to 500 and they might make 300 NG wells. In general they greater number of rigs drilling the more successful wells are drilled. But it my 35 years of experience that boom in drilling usually produces many wells that recover much less oil/NG then wells drilled during slower times. An extreme example: in the late 70’s boom 4600 rigs were drilling. And I promise you that at least half those rigs were drilling wells that had little chance of success. Greed is a poor catalyst for success.

I have to agree about the greed and the other part I know to little about.

But the target covers only about 100 acres.

That's not very big. Worthwhile if you hit it, but you have to be accurate.

About 30 years ago they hit a pinnacle reef near the area I grew up in. One well produced 3.7 million barrels of oil in 3 years, but there was no point in drilling more than one well because it produced the whole field in not much more than three years. Coral reef, high permeability and porosity, just drill one well and suck it dry.

The thing that frustrated geologists is that they hit it by accident. There must be hundreds or thousands more of those pinnacle reefs out there, but they can't see them on seismic.

Typically they are pillars of coral between 500' to 700' high and 70' to 250' in diameter. Hit one, and it's a license to print money, miss it and you've got nothing.

It's like looking for needles in a haystack, except that you're working in the dark, and the needles are worth 300 million dollars apiece.

But totally inconsequential in terms of PO. And that's the thing about all the "Drill Baby Drill" rhetoric. Sure, there's oil to be found and drilled here and there. And the people who produce it will potentially make pots of money. But it has nothing to do with "energy independence" and will not affect PO at all. It's just a distraction, really.

Sadly true sgage. Even more then a distraction to those folks that avoid details: a misleading and dangerous sense of well being. But such efforts do more then make the producers pots of money. Makes the land owners, local, state and federal royalty and tax collectors pots of money, makes the shareholders (many union members) pots of money and makes the service companies and their employees pots of money. Oil/NG is one of the few US "manufacturing" industries left. Won't change PO as you say. Certainly won't deliver that childish fantasy of energy independence. But still a critical component of our economy.

The link above,

"Most important U.S. oil discovery in 40 years"

seemed to confuse (or equate) natgas condensates with crude. Even as a non-oil layman I noticed the author (Porter Stansberry) avoids stating any estimates of actual recoverable reserves of liquid crude oil. Then I see it's just a sales pitch for a fishing buddy:

After talking to Cactus, I think he's right. And in tomorrow's essay, I'm going to show you how such a large oilfield went untapped for decades… exactly how big it is… and a list of publicly traded companies involved in the Eagle Ford.

(emphasis mine)

I'm becoming more and more convinced that the state of science literacy is so dismal in the USA that terminology is a significant barrier for half of the analysts out there and an even higher percentage of the general population has no idea what the difference is between different types of petroleum.

Gas = gasoline = natural gas... it's all the same thing isn't it ? What do you heat your home with ? Gas. What do you put in your car ? Gas.

If you randomly asked people I'd bet a very large percentage would think that gas drilling is actually drilling for gasoline.

Cat -- along those same lines: back in the 70’s during the oil embargo a co-worker listened to a guy running on about the damn oil companies and the lack of motor fuel. He said he didn’t care that the oil companies said they were going to try to drill more oil wells as fast as possible. He said we didn’t need more oil wells…we needed more gasoline wells!

Even educated folks can miss a point. A friend told me about the comments she heard from a doctor. He could see a serious problem with the plans for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve: if we bury millions of barrels of oil underground eventually those barrels would rust and leak. Obviously not a dumb guy but we always think of barrels as unit measurement and not a steel drum. Back in the 70’s few folks outside the oil patch understood our unit measurements.

if we bury millions of barrels of oil underground eventually those barrels would rust and leak.

Now that is hilarious!

Yes he obviously had no idea that these barrels are made of wood and that doesn't rust when stored underground!

Making Wooden Oil Barrels

The first barrels used for oil were made in the customary fashion of the day (1859) which was the same as for any other liquid requiring a tight container. The staves were prime white oak and the hoops were hickory. The barrel of that time was a work of art. As time went on oak for staves survived, but hickory was soon replaced by iron hoops.


If you happen to be traveling in distillery country, you can buy one of these white oak barrels for a few bucks that has been used to age bourbon.

The liquor companies are for some reason required to use new barrels but these old ones are in excellent condition and can be used for many purposes, including making a barrel of hared cider for example.

OFM, That new barrel rule only applies in the US. Canadian distilleries are very happy to buy the used barrels, and re-use them, and I think they can do so several times. When I lived in Calgary, i could buy old barrels from the distillery there for $15, I would turn them into wine racks, and other furniture. One of the barrels I used (in 2005) had been painted on the end, as I stripped off the paint it revealed the original brand, which was "the Old Crow Distillery, 1969" it was from either Ky or Tn, can't remember.

That barrel had just come out of the distillery when I got it, so it had been in use for 36 years, and now lives on in retirement as a wine rack and bar. Much better than being cut in half for a planter!

"...if we bury millions of barrels of oil underground eventually those barrels would rust and leak..."

now that sounds like a great place to site a new oil well

He said he didn’t care that the oil companies said they were going to try to drill more oil wells as fast as possible. He said we didn’t need more oil wells…we needed more gasoline wells!

Laugh all you want Rockman, but my car uses 4 quarts of oil every 5,000 miles but burns approximately 175 gallons of gas. My back-of-the-envelope calculations -- WHT, eat your heart out -- tell me that I use 175 times more gas than oil.

I used to have an old PU like that POT. Was cheaper to buy oil then get it fixed. But then I had an 87 Ford PU that I ran to 197,000 miles and never had to add an once betwee oil changes...about 15,000 miles on average. Made me a true believer in full synthetic oil.

Okay POT, you got him. You used 700 times more gas than oil IN YOUR CAR; but since all the gas you use is made from oil, well not so much . . .



Gas = gasoline = natural gas...

and it only gets worse......gas in storage refered to as reserves, possible and speculative gas resources refered to as reserves and both refered to as supply, as in "100 yrs supply".

also, there is gas and/or oil in place refered to as reserves and this gibberish: recoverable reserves. reserves in place, on the other hand, does have gibberish sounding non-gibberish meaning.

Appologies for my "gibberish". Does "recoverable resources" better meet your criteria?

no. the volume of oil that is (economically) recoverable is: reserves.
oil that is not (economically) recoverable has another name: deposits.
and recoverable reserves amounts to: gibberish, imo.

my comment was not directed at you ghung, or anyone else. just some recreational jousting after windmills.

The author of that piece hasn't a clue about oil.

So-called "condensate" is the holy grail of the natural gas business. It refers to the amount of liquid (think butane) that's mixed in with the gas that's trapped in "tight" shales.

Got that, condensate is "so-called" according to him but it is called condensate because that is exactly what it is. It is a liquid that condenses out of natural gas at sea level pressure and room temperature. And if you "(think butane)" then you are thinking totally wrong. Butane is a natural gas liquid, not condensate.

these 50 drilling rigs should allow production to grow to nearly 40,000 barrels of oil per day within the next 24 months.

Imagine that, production from this "Most important U.S. oil discovery in 40 years" will reach 40,000 barrels per day in only two years. That sure proves those peak oil tricksters are wrong. What an embarrassment this must be for them.

Ron P.

As soon as I saw the name "Porter Stansberry" I knew there was no reason to read any further. Stock trader shill talking his book.

Here is some insight into Porter Stansberry:


We included Porter Stansberry column for humor?

First, he missed the US peak oil date by a mere 20 years (his article claims 1991, not 1971).

Second, he has no concept of volumes of NGLs. While they have "saved" our posterior sides in some ways, 40,000 bbl/day is just a "drop in the bucket" and 900 million barrels (I assume BOE) was only a about a 90-100 day supply when the US was at it's peak in 1971.

Would you buy stock or take financial advice for someone so ill-informed?

No doubt he is a great golfing partner.

"US unveils climate report in runup to Senate bill"

Sometimes the most interesting data is buried in the appendices.

I found this line-item under "SUMMARY 2 SUMMARY REPORT FOR CO2 EQUIVALENT EMISSIONS", which is a table showing CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, SF6 emissions from various activities.

"Fugitive Emissions from Fuels - (CO2) 28,966.67 (CH4) 196,805.54"

By comparison :-

"A. Enteric Fermentation (CH4) 138,977.19
B. Manure Management (CH4) 43,959.32

A. Solid Waste Disposal on Land (CH4) 132,875.92"

In other words, just the methane escaping into the atmosphere from our pursuance of fossil fuels is higher than that of either agriculture or waste disposal. Unless someone has another explanation for the term "fugitive".

http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/140002.pdf (PDF warning)

What's really laughable in the data you presented is the inclusion of the decimal fractions following data with 5 or 6 figure values. Given that these data are estimates, it shows almost no understanding of accuracy. But, that report is from the State Department, not a science oriented agency.

For example, reading the Executive Summary, one finds this bit of statistical nonsense:

In 2007, total U.S. GHG emissions were 7,150.1 teragrams of carbon dioxide equivalents (Tg CO2 Eq.)...

Then there's this:

Also, overall U.S. energy intensity has continually decreased, indicating an overall trend toward increasing energy efficiency in the economy. The decline of the U.S. economy’s energy intensity has a direct effect on U.S. CO2 emissions, 94 percent of which derive directly from the burning of fossil fuels according to 2007 data (U.S. EPA/OAP 2009).

I suppose they will call it a improvement if the next report shows a few tenths of a teragram reduction in "emission intensity" or some similar misleading phrase...

E. Swanson

Along your lines of improvement, there's another "improvement" cited in the top link: Hansen Clarifies Realities Of Global Climate Change--that the failure of Copenhagen is a blessing in disguise.

I agree with Hansen that cap and trade's demise at Copenhagen was the best bet.

“The big environmental groups … are supporting the cap-and-trade approach. But you look at it and you see that it is not going to be that effective,” Hansen said. “They say it might be imperfect but the train has left the station. Well, actually nothing has left the station here.”

“Boy, these big organizations have become part of the problem,” he said."

Carbon taxes must be implemented. I have no idea of how to realistically get there. Public awareness of the problem seems to require an event beyond tipping points.

Energy Intensity being defined as emissions per unit of GDP, as I recall, the fact that intensity went down could still mean that emissions by themselves went up.

Of course, since we have been in recession, the "improvement" could be largely attributable to falling GDP and productivity, rather than greater efficiency.

Notwithstanding the decimals (which proably arose from someone doing a spreadsheet calculation and neglecting to round to zero decimals) , I'm still interested in what constitutes "Fugitive Emissions".

Are those just the ones that inadvertently snuck away into the atmosphere while our attention was directed elsewhere ?

A. Enteric Fermentation (CH4) 138,977.19

Let's see, that's gigagrams, so in units people actually understand it's 138,977,190 tonnes, meaning that they know it for the whole country to the nearest 10 tonnes.

Didn't you know, to get that number they installed miniature infrared spectrometers with gas cells not only in all the farm animals in the country, but in all the voles and field mice as well, since even the latter's 'contributions' mattered at that level of "accuracy". Not that putting said instruments where they needed to go was a job anybody wanted, but what with the recession and all...

Reminds me of a certain small Arab Kingdom that used Nautical charts listing the Degrees:Minutes:seconds with them listed this way 123:23:23.0091 1/10,000th of a second is about 2 Milimeters on land, Nothing that can actually ever be realistically measured, but that is what they used. They were the only country in the whole world to use that sort of fine tuned measuring.

Aw the days of Nautical Charts and the need to update them every 3 months. I do wonder what climate change and Ice Sheet melting will do to all those coastlines as well as all those depth curves and soundings.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future.

Once again CEO you force me to ask the age old question: 2 + 2 = ?

Lawyer -- what do you want it to be?
Hooker -- depends on how much money you have
Politician -- I'll let you know right after the election
Doctor -- Depends on whether you have private insurance or not
Engineer -- 4.000000
Development Geologist (like me) -- somewhere between 3 and 5
Exploration Geologist (like westexas) -- a potential of 300...at least

How various disciplines look at a power-law curve:

I forgot to include the geologist response: what's the formie?

Once again CEO, you force me to ask the age old question: 2 + 2 = ?

Housewife -- Way too many noisy kids to fit into a Prius
Stock Broker -- Depends on how many default swaps go with that
U.S. President -- Yes we can; definitely before this decade is out
Public School Teacher -- I'll have to consult with the Texas Board of Politically Correct education before I can answer that
Supermarket Packer -- Half in plastic and half in paper?

As my mood is what it is today the answer to your question of 2 + 2 =?

Is of course Green.

Or maybe orange, One of those two.

If you were to ask me what is green I'd say, seven.

I use Non sequiturs all the time when talking to a few friends, They never can expect me to give a straight answer to anything, then I'll throw in a serious answer just to keep them on their toes.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future.
Just so long as I can keep my Kimchi I'll be fine.

IIRC, Green is 5

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Weren't those the resistor color codes? (memory fades)

Nice chart, you almost had them right.

7=Violet ("I"??)

The colors on resistors are getting smaller and harder to read as the years go by 8-).

That table is total rubbish. The lifetime of CO2 in the atmosphere is not 200 years or less. About 50% remains in the atmosphere ten thousand years after release. In addition the CO2 sinks are functions of the atmosphere-ocean state. As the oceans warm the CO2 sink decreases and the oceans become a net source.

Ergo, we should short seltzer water on the commodities market

(... because seawater will become a lower priced substitute)

And above:

Saudis Tighten China Energy Ties to Reduce U.S. Dependence

China, the world’s second-largest oil consumer, and Saudi Arabia, holder of about a fifth of global crude reserves, are forging ever closer ties as the Persian Gulf kingdom responds to a Chinese drive to feed its rising energy needs. China in November overtook the U.S. as the main buyer of Saudi oil, and Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and Saudi Basic Industries Corp. are investing in refinery and petrochemicals projects in China.

How long will the US be providing military "security" for KSA, Kuwait, et al (protecting China's oil supply)? When will we see "security agreements" between KSA and China (and the Chinese actually begin to go mobile with significant troop/naval deployments) to protect their energy future?

That'll be the day I begin hoarding in ernest.

"How long will the US be providing military "security" for KSA, Kuwait, et al..."

What usually happens when you stop paying the local mobsters for "Protection".

It always amazes me when people who talk about what the future will look like automatically assume that the US will simply hand over the keys to the Empire when the time comes.

Don't forget to hoard some Potassium iodide http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium_iodide

When the Emperor figures out he has no clothes, the Keys won't count for much.

FWIW, a few drops of iodine on the skin every day works about as well.

I just want to last long enough to be one of the last ones to laugh ;-)

As of last year, the top four sources of imported oil into the US were Canada, Mexico, Venezuela & Saudi Arabia (CMVSA). Their combined net oil exports were 14.1 mbpd in 2005 and 12.4 mbpd in 2008 (EIA), down 1.7 mbpd (12%) in only three years. Three of the four showed net export declines in 2008, relative to 2005 (all but Canada), and three of the four showed year over year net export declines in 2008 (all but Saudi Arabia).

In 2005, US net oil imports were 12.5 mbpd, and Chinese net oil imports were 2.9 mbpd.

In 2008, US net oil imports were 11.0 mbpd, and Chinese net oil imports were 3.9 mbpd.

US annual oil prices went from $57 in 2005 to $100 in 2008.

China's net imports, expressed as a percentage of CMVSA's net oil exports, were at 21% in 2005, and at 31% in 2008.

From 2005 to 2008, Chinese net imports grew at 10%/year (which is less than the US rate of increase in net oil imports from 1949 to 1977). At a 10%/year rate of increase, Chinese net imports in 2018 would be 10.6 mbpd.

If we assume that CMVSA's combined net oil export decline will be about 500,000 bpd per year (less than the observed 2005-2008 annual volumetric decline of 567,000 bpd per year), their combined net exports would be down to 7.4 mbpd in 2018.

Bureaucracy Linked to a Nation's Growth

"Bureaucracy is the death of all sound work," said Albert Einstein, sharing a popular view about bureaucracy grinding progress to a halt.

But it now appears that the organizing functions of bureaucracy were essential to the progressive growth of the world's first states, and may have helped them conquer surrounding areas much earlier than originally thought. New research conducted in the Valley of Oaxaca near Monte Albán, a large pre-Columbian archaeological site in southern Mexico, also implies that the first bureaucratic systems may have a lasting influence on today's modern states.


I just took action to end U.S. subsidies of fossil fuels through the World Bank. Check it out:


Re: George Monbiot: What links the banking crisis and the volcano?

My FoI requests to the British government reveal that it has made no contingency plans, on the grounds that it doesn't believe it will happen. The issue remains the preserve of beardy lentil-eaters such as, er, the US joint forces command. "


I did the same thing in my locale. Over a period of about 5 years I met with the mayor, emergency management coordinator, president of the municipal utility, superintendent of schools, chief of police... a few others. I just asked questions, I did not offer advice. I found out we are well prepared for tornadoes and ice storms.

No contingency plans nationally or locally. Just put all of our chips on "securing the oil" - damn the torpedoes, eyes wide-closed, full speed ahead.

REGARDING Mexico's Cantarell oil field -

Does anyone have data on bpd where the production of Mexico equals their country's internal consumption?

I'm trying to find data on this so I can keep tabs on when the ELM shows they crossover into serious national budget problems.



Do you want field data for Cantarell? That is available at http://sie.energia.gob.mx/ Mexican prod/cons can be had at EIA or JODI. They have already lost a lot of revenue from declining exports, but it's hard to say where that has left the government.

Cantarell's crash has finally ended, but they are still in decline of course. How that decline will play out depends on investment and the characteristics of the field. Mexico has about 800 kb/d of net export capacity left and Cantarell averaged 638.74 for Jan-Nov 2009; declines May-Nov totaled 176.27 kb/d. If we subtract the latter from the former Cantarell will be at 109.93 kb/d, having lost 462.47 kb/d of capacity; this would trim net exports down to about 350 kb/d.

Mexico's gross exports of C+C for 2008 were 1,505.373 kb/d. US Gross imports were 1302, leaving 203.37 kb/d that were exported elsewhere. US Net Imports were 969 kb/d and have actually rebounded Nov-Jan: 769/798/811. Perhaps consumption has fallen in Mexico faster than declines.

From the Kuwait Hires LNG Tanker article:

The ship, Explorer, owned by Excelerate Energy and Exmar NV, arrived in Kuwait on March 28 with a cargo of LNG from Trinidad and Tobago
The country [Kuwait] received an LNG cargo on April 11 from the tanker Express, also owned by Excelerate, according to Bloomberg vessel tracking data. The cargo was from Egypt, according to Stracke.
Kuwait brought in 11 LNG cargoes last year, including five from Russia, according to Waterborne.

Can anyone explain to me why Kuwait is bringing in LNG tankers from Russia and Trinidad and Egypt while their next door neighbor Qatar is sending LNG tankers to Europe and Asia? Is the cost of shipping really so low that other factors take over? And what would those other factors be?

More questions than answers today.

-- Jon

Most LNG tankers do not have on board regas capabilities aside from gas produced by cryogenic cooling of the LNG. I think there are a couple of tankers/floating terminals – IIRC the first one went live in 2005. Ship to ship LNG transfer is also quite uncommon.
They have to be quite eager for gas…
My guess is that their neighbor is not providing any because it is contracted for or there may be an issue with the caloric value of Qatar gas which is available. Something like 70% of Qatar LNG is lean, but I don't know what Kuwait powerplants require.




Thanks for the answer. It all sounds so reasonable when someone explains the details.

Thought folks might find this interesting:

> Announcing a Revenue Watch Institute discussion at the IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings
> (registration for IMF-Bank meetings required)
> Boom, Bust and Hard Lessons for Extractive Sector Management:
> What Oil- and Mineral-Rich Countries Have Learned from the Financial Crisis
> Sunday, April 25, 2010
> 11:00 am - 12:30 pm
> World Bank MC Building C1 - 200
> Washington, D.C.
> Moderator:
> Brian Pinto, Advisor to the Managing Director, The World Bank
> Panelists:
> Ernest Aryeteey, Director, Africa Growth Initiative, Brookings Institution
> Karin Lissakers, Director, Revenue Watch Institute
> Rabah Arezki, International Monetary Fund
> (additional panelists TBC)
> About this Event:
> This Sunday, April 25, the Revenue Watch Institute presents a policy discussion on lessons learned from the global financial crisis and the steps that local and international actors can take to insulate resource rich economies from future shocks and ensure the long-term benefits of extractive activity.
> Governments highly dependent on oil and mining revenues are still reeling from the global crisis and the commodities price bust that accompanied it. Though commodity markets began to rebound over the course of 2009, the destabilizing impact in many resource rich countries laid bare challenges of policy, structure and practice in the management of revenues from the volatile extractive sector.
> As part of the Civil Society Policy Forum of the IMF/World Bank spring meetings in Washington, D.C., experts from resource rich countries will discuss strategies used during the crisis and analysts will unveil the results of a new Revenue Watch policy paper series examining the impact of the downturn and the tools that have shaped countries' varying degrees of resilience.
> The Revenue Watch series, "Boom, Bust and Better Policy," examines the economic, social and geo-political impacts of the financial crisis and provides concrete recommendations for the current climate and future boom/bust cycles.
> This event is open to registered attendees at the IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington, D.C., April 24-25. Journalists seeking accreditation to attend, please go to:
> http://go.worldbank.org/RHHKIU2960
> To learn more about the Revenue Watch Institute's new series of policy papers, please go to:
> http://www.revenuewatch.org/boombustpolicy

Can anyone comment on why Brent Crude appears to be consistently a few dollars more expensive than WTI now? This always appeared the other way around before. Just currency differences or is there an important reason for the fall in WTI (or is it the rise of Brent)?

It happened as Greece was considered to be bailed out. On that day the Euro gained a lot and the price of Brent gained more than $2 compared with WTI.
Or perhaps they just heard that Your WTI is stored in rotten wooden barrels. So I am not so certain, You no?


A government bailout for airlines after Iceland volcano?

Citing the government bailout after the Sept. 11 shutdown of US airspace, European airlines are seeking government compensation over groundings caused by the ash cloud released from an Iceland volcano.

You just gotta love this one. By some climatologists accounts the melting ice in Iceland released millions of tons of pressure on the crust in that area, which directly led to these volcanic releases of ash. That means global warming is the cause or at minimum a partial cause to some degree in this occurance. And what is now suppose to happen? Bailouts?

Do you see where all this is going? We burn fossil fuels, spewing CO2 into the atmosphere, causing rises in temperature. That rise in temp is accentuated in the northern lattitudes. Ice melts releasing compressive pressure on the crust, and volcanic ash spews forth. Airlines are grounded and ask for a bailout. All the while countries from the Artic circle are vying for areas and opportunities to drill for more fossil fuels to spew more CO2, to cause more warming, to cause more melting, to cause more volcanic eruptions and sea level rise, leading to more and more baby cries for bailouts.

Bailout for AIG, CITI, Fannie Mae & Mac, GoldinSacks, GM, Haiti, Greece, and now the airlines. I'm amazed there is that much money to throw around.

Earl, I'm terribly sorry that you missed the memo. In Europe, long-distance tourism is now to become enshrined and subsidized as a fundamental human right.

Tajani... said... the next step was to ensure people’s “right to be tourists”...

In the initial phase, northern Europeans will be encouraged to visit southern Europe and vice versa. Details of how participants are chosen have not yet been finalised, but it is expected the EU will subsidise about 30% of the cost...

Tajani’s spokesman said: “Why should someone from the Mediterranean not be able to travel to Edinburgh in summer for a breath of cool, fresh air; why should someone from Edinburgh not be able to travel to Greece in winter?”

Why not, indeed? Spain does it with our pensionists, they can have holidays in the Mediterranean, cities like Benidorm and others. They pay two thirds of the bus trip and their stay in very good hotels.
Everybody wins. The hotels don't have to close in the off season. The workers are not laid off. The city stays open -some Spanish cities in winter are dead, no one around. The old people get a special price, the owner of the hotel makes a bit of money and the stores always sell something.
As Ryanair flies people around Europe for as little as 6 dollars, less than a short bus trip in Spain or the UK, it is perfectly feasible.

The way we live now
A hard-hitting study of the social effects of inequality has profound implications, says Lynsey Hanley

We are rich enough. Economic growth has done as much as it can to improve material conditions in the developed countries, and in some cases appears to be damaging health. If Britain were instead to concentrate on making its citizens' incomes as equal as those of people in Japan and Scandinavia, we could each have seven extra weeks' holiday a year, we would be thinner, we would each live a year or so longer, and we'd trust each other more.

The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better
by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett

On almost every index of quality of life, or wellness, or deprivation, there is a gradient showing a strong correlation between a country's level of economic inequality and its social outcomes. Almost always, Japan and the Scandinavian countries are at the favourable "low" end, and almost always, the UK, the US and Portugal are at the unfavourable "high" end, with Canada, Australasia and continental European countries in between ...

The European Central Bank has essentially eased monetary policy over the last two weeks, and will add even more money into the banking system tomorrow. As I've had said many times, the preferred response from the Fed, ECB, BOJ, BOC, etc., to resource problems and natural disasters is printing up more money - usually to also help finance bailouts.

Luckily we have TOD to set the record straight on the usefullnes of monetary policy in the age of peak oil. Steve Sorrel yesterday and George Monbiot today are giving us much to think about.

As I've had said many times, the preferred response from the Fed, ECB, BOJ, BOC, etc., to resource problems and natural disasters is printing up more money - usually to also help finance bailouts.

Oh, so true. There seems to be this worldwide attitude now that borrowing money that most likely will never get paid back is part of BAU. If the situation suggests a bailout, then just go get the stuff, by priniting it, borrowing, or however. Peak oil's going to turn the taps off. We'll know that when some day not long from now there will be a call for a bailout and the response will be pure silence.

"A government bailout for airlines after Iceland volcano? " Well of course, since the governments stoped the airlines from flying then they should compensate them. After all the banks wouldn't like to miss out on the repayments on those nice shiny planes would they?

In an ABC nightline piece from the April 16th show they were talking about how a protected section of the ocean was still being hunted, for things like shark fin soup. That people "need" to have shark fin soup to feel special about some events.

I know it is pointless to point out that head hunters of years past felt they "needed" to have the heads of enemies for some customs. But why can't people leave the wildlife alone.

Why not make a new custom along the same lines, like not wasting energy, or Not being on the grid, Or not eating sealife, or something that bodes well for everyone else, rather than something that kills the future.

Several threads recently all talking along the lines of why humans CAN'T seem to change for the better, but we already know we are impacting the world, otherwise there would be no hunger, no resource limits and no extinction at human hands. Why can't we start new earth changing for the better traditions.

Tell a funny joke at your wedding. Say a prayer if you need a pick me up before an event. Do something positive instead of something negative.

The end is near, go off grid and eat a handful of cloud and drink in the sunshine.

BioWebScape designs for a better future.

How about them Lakers?
How about Koby Bryant's come back in the last quarter of the basketball game?
Giggle Giggle.

(Note to Dexter and other autistics out there: Be sure to emulate same giggle giggle noise at end of each communication burst lest I be alerted to the possibility that you are not a chirping bird brain from same flock as me.)

p.s. Orlov definitely understands the noises we make.
p.p.s. On the other hand, I don't want to think about it. Giggle Giggle.

Early indications are that US oil inventories will be less than expected, but since I don't know the details of the API report below, take it with a grain of salt.

The API said crude stocks last week declined 741,000 barrels, gasoline inventories fell 1.7 million barrels and distillate stockpiles dropped 3.1 million barrels. [API/S] An expanded Reuters poll on Tuesday forecast that domestic crude stockpiles fell 300,000 barrels last week. Distillate stocks rose 800,000 barrels and gasoline stockpiles rose 400,000 barrels, the poll showed. EIA/S]

"Based on the headlines, the API draws on crude and the products are supportive. But the API numbers seem a little hard to understand as they are showing that crude imports are up while refinery runs are just up a little bit. For this reason, we still have to wait for the DOE report tomorrow, to find out if these numbers stick," said Phil Flynn, analyst, at PFGBest Reserach in Chicago.


Keep in mind that basically the US needs to increase net overall inventories by about 3 million barrels a week in the second quarter to make it safely through the summer 'driving season' without snags.

Saving is going to cost
NSP wants to raise power bills to pay for energy-saving programs

NOVA SCOTIA Power wants to hike residential power bills an extra $4 to cover the cost of introducing new energy-efficiency programs.

Hearings began Monday before the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board into the power company’s plan to spend $41.9 million in 2011 on energy conservation programs for its customers.

These measures include: energy-saving light bulbs, expanding a small business lighting program and a $200 rebate on energy-efficient clothes washers.

The company argues that if customers reduce their electricity consumption, it will generate savings of more than $190 million because the utility will be burning less fuel to generate electricity.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Business/1178233.html

If this $42 million investment in energy efficiency generates $190 million in customer savings, the benefit to cost ratio is just over 4.5:1. Nova Scotia Power's internal estimates pegged the utility's 2009 DSM savings at 70,000,000 kWh, but the Utility Board's own auditors determined the actual amount was 86,000,000 kWh. This year, the plan is to double that.

Best hopes for more conservation and less coal.


Paul, looks like Kermit is wrong... it's easy to be green.

He said the energy conservation programs have a "socially beneficial goal" and may not be getting a rigorous examination.

"It’s easier to be for it, than against it," he suggested.

If Nova Scotia Power came before the board asking to spend $41 million on vegetation control, a new fleet of vehicles or enhancements to the pension plan, would the utility face tougher questions? he asked.

"Don’t you think that kind of use of money might attract more of a critical attention?"

Richardson said it may appear that way but the program offers a "strong business case" and must still be reviewed by the board and go before a public hearing.

Who'd thunk it. If you told me ten years ago that the public would go for spending more in order to save more, I would have laughed. But that is exactly what seems to be happening.

Mind you, NSP no longer burns Nova Scotia coal (the mines closed in 2001 after continuous operations since 1720) but has opted instead to burn imported coal, much of it from Columbia instead. See: http://www.thecoast.ca/halifax/blood-coal/Content?oid=996001

Rather than getting nostalgic (Men of the Deeps, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjJNJJJiHso), the best hopes really is more conservation and less coal.



Hi Tom,

I should note that NSP's 2009 DSM target was 66.3 GWh and the final tally came in at 85.78 GWh, so we were 1.3 times above plan. In addition, our budget, including salaries and administrative overhead, was $12.9 million versus our total expenditures of $11.85 million, so we were 8 per cent below budget. Hats off to my colleagues at NSP because there were numerous start-up issues, unanticipated complications and various setbacks along the way, and to achieve what they have done in such a short period of time is a true testament to their hard work and perseverance.

When you look at the numbers, the average cost per kWh saved amortized over ten years is just 1.5-cents. Of course, most of these investments will continue to generate savings well beyond that. You have to wonder what coal, oil, natural gas or wind generated electricity will cost ten years from now -- three, four, five or even ten times more?

I can't discuss anything beyond what has been made public, but there will be some adjustments over the coming months that will drive our costs down even further; consequently, a few of us will be burning a little more of that midnight oil to meet our expanded targets. But, as I've said before, every kWh saved is another half-kilo of coal that won't be burned, and I can't imagine a greater motivator than that.


every kWh saved is another half-kilo of coal that won't be burned, and I can't imagine a greater motivator than that.

Kudos to those who help make this happen, including to you my friend. Your practical applications for refitting are a joy to read about. Keep up the good work!



April 21 "10:08 - British oil explorer Heritage Oil's (HOIL) share price dropped sharply today as it said it would need to drill deeper at its latest Iraqi well, adding a further four to five months to its schedule.

News that the Miran West-2 appraisal well in Kurdistan will need to be deepened to 4,600 metres from its current 2,627 metres in order to explore its potential sent shares in the FTSE 250-listed group down by 7.6%.

Heritage said the well, which spudded on 26 November, encountered hydro-carbon bearing intervals, but is being drilled within a part of the Miran West structure where the fracture network is less developed. As a result, no hydrocarbons were flow tested to the surface from the well, equivalent to that successfully tested in Miran West-1."

Heritage Oil's (HOIL) share price dropped sharply today as it said it would need to drill deeper at its latest Iraqi well, adding a further four to five months to its schedule.

Nobody said it would be easy getting the Iraqi oil flow up to 12-14 mbd. (ha ha)

Since becoming a net oil importer in 1993, China has rapidly overtaken everyone but the US in its thirst for the world’s crude. If one could quantify a country’s eagerness to control this vital resource, though, China would surely be number one. Aggressive investments in Africa’s resource sector have led some to dub its policies there the “Great Chinese Takeout”.

The Great Chinese Takeout. That made me laugh, until I realized the U.S. version is The Great Blind Zone.