Drumbeat: April 22, 2010

Iran begins war games in Persian Gulf oil route

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard held war games Thursday in the strategic Persian Gulf oil route, the Hormuz Strait, a show of its military strength at a time when the country's leaders are depicting President Barack Obama's new nuclear policy as a threat.

Ahead of the military maneuvers, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused Washington of trying to dominate the world through its nuclear arsenal and vowed that Iran would not bend before what he called "implicit atomic threats."

Portugal oil refineries raise output after strike

LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal's two refineries run by Galp Energia were restoring output on Thursday after a three-day strike by workers, who threatened more stoppages if the company refuses to negotiate a pay rise.

Negligence Lawsuit Filed in Oil Rig Fire

(CBS/AP) The companies involved in an oil platform explosion off the Louisiana coast are being sued for negligence.

The lawsuit was filed in New Orleans on Thursday on behalf of a Mississippi man who worked on the rig and is one of 11 people still missing after the blast.

Peak Oil Deniers Remain Oblivious

Despite the rush of warnings this year, peak oil deniers are still ignoring the signs.

You know them. They're the ones sitting in the corner, their tin foil hats neatly perched atop their head as they plan out their next tirade. Their whining is always ridiculous, often making outlandish assumptions and citing wild sources.

Take last week, for an example. I was told that all the world's oil problems would be solved if the U.S. only opened up ANWR.

Regardless of how you feel about opening up ANWR, do you honestly believe it's the solution to the peak oil crisis?

Earth Day economics -- reality gets bagged; Mr. Obama goes to Wall Street

Today might be a good one to take stock of the near-death experience we had two years ago with the many chickens of unsustainability coming home to roost, from high oil prices and and the leading edge of global peak oil, to Ponzi scheme sprawl and an economy increasingly based on swindles and casino capitalism. The many unsustainable aspects of our highly complex society won't go away. They've just taken a breather during the Great Recession. Sadly, we'll soon get more painful object lessons.

This Earth Day, pray for Peak Oil

As we celebrate the good things we're trying to do for our planet on Earth Day, we need to keep in mind that, while we win a small battle every time we recycle or reduce our consumption, the bigger war is still being lost--and being lost more and more quickly every week. And ironically, it just may be that those who consume the least are doing the most...damage.

It's a paradoxical situation to be in. It's been noted (and probably in these pages before, by me) that if Canada was to disappear completely off the face of the Earth, carbon footprint-wise, the 'saving's wouldn't even cover one year's increase in China's emissions, let alone those of the rest of the world.

From Earth Day to “Eco-Terrorism”

Today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day and everyone, it seems, is “going green.” With widespread oil shortages due to peak oil looming within five years, and the startling effects of climate change becoming shockingly clear, environmentalism is more accepted and urgently needed than ever.

So why is the “number one domestic terrorism threat,” according to the FBI, the “eco-terrorism, animal rights movement”?

My Country Went to Iraq and All I Got Was This Global Empire

Ultimately, the U.S. doesn't have to "win" or even control territory; it simply has to deny control to others, introduce a permanent uncertainty and unease in their plans, and establish forward bases for power projection.

Much has been made of "civilian" Chinese guarding oil facilities in Sudan. China (and every other "great power") has its own "noble cause" of wrapping up resources. But the Chinese lack the ability to project power; they have no airlift capacity, no aircraft carriers, and no global network of bases. While the U.S. effectively controls or influences most of the globe's remaining fossil fuels, China has to make do with a deeply unstable Africa, where the winds of revolution might sweep the party you did business with from power.

On the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, Let’s ... Go Shopping!

Just to be clear: recycling, using compact fluorescents, cutting home energy use, and the rest of the "what you can do" propaganda is better than their opposites. And before the angry e-mail starts arriving, let me note that I do the usual green things—use mass transit (easy in New York and its suburbs), walk almost everywhere else, recycle, sun-dry clothes (do not try this at home if you have teenagers: Mom, my shirt is stiff!), keep the house cold in winter (ditto: Mom, I can see my breath in here!) and hot in summer.

The problem with the emphasis on changing individual behavior is this: it makes too many of us believe we have done our part.

Acidic oceans worsening, experts warn

Manmade emissions of carbon dioxide are making our oceans more acidic — and thus threatening corals and shellfish — at a rate unseen in at least 800,000 years, a blue-ribbon panel of scientists reported Thursday.

"Ocean acidification is a growing global problem that will intensify with continued CO2 emissions and has the potential to change marine ecosystems and affect benefits to society," the panel warned in its report for the National Research Council and Congress.

Kuwaiti oil reserves higher than announced

Oil reserves in Kuwait’s largest oilfield, Burgan, are higher than have been published and new figures for all reservoirs are to be announced soon, a minister said on Thursday.

“Reserves in Burgan oilfield are much higher than what is being circulated,” deputy premier for economic affairs Shaikh Ahmad Fahad al-Sabah was cited as saying by the official KUNA news agency.

Greater Burgan oilfield is the world’s second largest field after Ghawar in Saudi Arabia, with reserves previously estimated at around 70 billion barrels.

It has been producing about three-quarters of Kuwait’s output of 2.2 million bpd.

“New figures for the reserves in all Kuwaiti oil reservoirs will be made public soon,” KUNA quoted Shaikh Ahmad as telling an oil conference.

Africa's New Oil Riddle

It's hard to imagine a starker illustration of getting it wrong than an oil shortage in one of the world's biggest oil producers. But that's exactly what regularly happens in Nigeria, as gas stations run dry and thousands of motorists and truckers jam driveways and spill out onto freeways. Partly this is a question of how Nigeria messes up its oil industry — rotting refineries, poor distribution, price-hiking hoarders — and partly it's a sign of how oil messes up Africa. Auwal Musa Ibrahim is an anticorruption campaigner who heads the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre in Nigeria's capital Abuja. Stranded for days at his office during a fuel drought last December, he fumed, "Our oil powers the world. But in Africa, it creates places [in which] no longer do people think about how to build a nation, only how they can steal from it."

Transocean Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion shows new risks

Atlanta – The dramatic oil rig explosion and fire aboard the Transocean Deepwater Horizon rig 50 miles off the Louisiana coast illustrates the growing risk for oil companies as they drill ever deeper into the earth's crust to satisfy domestic and international demand for fuel.

As the US moves to open up more deep water areas for oil exploration and companies prepare to open up deep reserves off the coast of Brazil and Angola, the possible explosion and fire aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig, owned by Houston-based Transocean and leased by BP, is a reminder of how the task of supplying the world's oil amid dwindling reserves is becoming ever-more complex – and dangerous – despite technological advancements.

A look at deadly oil industry accidents

NEW ORLEANS – Eleven workers were missing after an oil rig explosion off the Louisiana coast. Here's a look at some of the deadliest oil industry accidents in the United States.

Even with high technology blowout prevention equipment, danger lurks below

To my knowledge, this is the first serious blowout and fire to occur on this latest generation of deepwater drilling equipment. In theory, with modern blowout control equipment, such an event is virtually impossible. But every seasoned driller knows that the possibility of deadly danger is never far away.

Blast Jolts Oil World

Some industry analysts said they feared the accident might temporarily damp the pace of oil development in the deepest reaches of the Gulf, which has become a significant exploration hotspot for international oil companies seeking new sources of petroleum. The industry is booming, and has been challenged by a tight supply of rigs and skilled workers.

The accident comes at a sensitive time politically for the industry. President Obama late last month proposed allowing drilling in new areas of the eastern Gulf of Mexico and off the southern Atlantic coast, where it was banned. Supporters argue the industry has become much safer. The Transocean fire could be an untimely reminder of risks.

"Is there a domino effect from this?" asked Arun Jayaram, a Credit Suisse analyst. "It seems like there would be some collateral damage."

The majors scaling back refining globally; not in hotspots for growth

The US oil majors have not just decided that refining is not going to be profitable in the US, it seems, but in other parts of the world as well. ConocoPhillips said on Wednesday it has informed Saudi Aramco it will end participation in the new refinery project being built in Yanbu Industrial City.

Calgary driller pulling rigs out of Mexico

CALGARY - Xtreme Coil Drilling Corp., the Calgary-based service company among the most heavily invested in Mexico, is moving two of its 10 rigs from the country to the United States, it announced Wednesday.

The move comes as national oil company, Pemex, continues to scale back exploration and development in the Chicontepec oilfield of east-central Mexico due to less-than-stellar results from a program in which it has already invested more than $3.4 billion US.

Mexico Left to Play Catch-Up as Oil Majors Drill Deep in Gulf

Officials at state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, can do little more than watch from the sidelines as oil majors break deep-drilling records on the U.S. side of the Gulf of Mexico.

The recent startup of the massive Perdido offshore drilling hub -- a joint-venture of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Chevron Corp., and BP Plc -- even has some Mexicans fearful that oil from the Mexican side could seep over and get sucked up in what has been dubbed locally as "the drinking straw effect."

API: Govt Collects $3B from Deepwater Leases

Two new studies commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute show that oil and natural gas companies paid the U.S. government more than $3 billion for leases under the 1995 Deep Water Royalty Relief Act, spent $37 billion to develop them, paid billions in production-related taxes, created thousands of jobs and pumped billions into the economy.

Iran May Stop Gas Exports If Prices Not ‘Reasonable’

(Bloomberg) -- Iran, holder of the world’s second- largest gas reserves, may stop exporting the fuel if prices do not reach a “reasonable” level, according to the Persian Gulf country’s oil minister.

“We would prefer to inject the gas into our oil wells or convert it to other products,” Masoud Mir-Kazemi was cited by the state-run Iranian Students News Agency as saying today at the opening of the 15th International Oil, Gas, Refining & Petrochemical Exhibition in Tehran.

Isaac Tshuva: Israel's Gas King

Isaac Tshuva arranges sugar packets on a table at his Leonardo City Tower Hotel in Tel Aviv, each one representing the location of a gas deposit off the Israeli coast: The uppermost packet is the Tamar field that his company, Delek Group, helped discover last year. Two packets below it are smaller strikes to the south, which Tshuva says indicate there's more gas still to be tapped. "The amounts we've found are going to fulfill much of Israel's energy demand for the next two decades," says the 61-year-old billionaire, whose family immigrated to Israel from Libya in 1948 when he was an infant. The discoveries have turned Tshuva into Israel's energy king and the country's sixth-richest citizen, with an estimated net worth of $2 billion, according to TheMarker, a Tel Aviv business daily. The gas finds ultimately could meet half of Israel's energy needs and provide the country with the energy independence that is vital to its security.

Shell Executive: Long-Term Gas Contracts to Retain Key Role

Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB) senior executive Malcolm Brinded said Thursday he thinks long-term natural gas contracts will continue to play a key role in the industry because of the huge up-front costs of building gas export projects.

Flights to North Sea Oil Fields Halted Due to Ash

Helicopter flights from Aberdeen to oil and gas platforms in the U.K. North Sea have been suspended again due to the danger from the volanic ash cloud drifting over from Iceland, said a spokesman for Bond Offshore Helicopters Thursday.

"There is no flying from Aberdeen at this time," said the spokesman. "A red zone is located just outside Aberdeen and is forecast to move over the city this afternoon."

Reflections on Eyjafjallajokull: let’s not waste another wake-up call

Rather than seeing the past few days as an interruption to our inherent right to go wherever in the world we want to whenever we want to, perhaps we ought to reflect on the awesome power that fossil fuels have brought, albeit temporarily, to our lives.

Oil Industry Uses PBS Nova to Scare Voters About the “Risk” of Clean Energy

For somebody old enough to remember PBS before “fair and balanced” news, last night was a shock.

“Energy: the Big Gamble” on PBS Nova contained blatant lies about the pending climate legislation in California. Funding for NOVA is provided by ExxonMobil, Pacific Life, David H. Koch… This is the same Koch family, that makes its billions off oil and gas, that Greenpeace found had spent $25 million from 2005 to 2008 funding climate denial. This show was designed to scare US voters, and initially, California voters who now face the oil industry’s ballot initiative to put a stop to pending climate legislation, AB32 to move the state to a clean energy economy.

Pakistan turns off lights to end energy crisis

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The Pakistani government announced on Thursday measures to cut state electricity consumption by half, as Pakistan battles a chronic energy shortage which is inflaming public anger and stifling industry.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and Water and Power Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf announced the measures -- including turning off lights and air-conditioners in government offices -- to reduce a daily shortfall of 4,500-5,000 megawatts (MW) and encourage energy conservation in the private sector.

Pakistan: July-March oil import bill down by 1.42 per cent

Analysts said that the oil import bill has been witnessing gradual increase during the last few months owing to the rise in the international prices and strong domestic demand for electricity generation.

Monthly rise in the oil import bill is alarming because it will put pressure on the rupee against the dollar.

Power plays in Pakistan

To say Pakistan's power crisis is worsening on a daily basis is to say the least. With an electricity shortfall that is spiraling out of control and unannounced power cuts of up to 12 hours in many areas of the country, the government of Pakistan is trying to figure out how to pull the plug on Pakistan's energy crisis. Unfortunately for them, it will take more than a bit of effort.

Pakistan: ‘Govt developing alternative fuel resources’

PROVINCIAL Minister for Finance and Planning and Development Tanvir Ashraf Kaira said that the government had been paying full attention to develop the alternative fuels such as ethanol and bio-diesel to overcome energy crisis in the country.

Zvi Tavor, why do Israelis still not know how to use solar energy effectively?

"I think that in the near future, there will be no choice and they will have to do so. When the price of a barrel of oil was low, it did not interest anyone. But when the price started rising to $100 a barrel, suddenly everyone understood. After that, the price dropped, and enthusiasm waned again. In my opinion, we have sufficient space in the Negev to develop solar energy, and eventually, we have to think about what our priorities are. Should we grow more oranges or find answers to the energy crisis? We need economists to make the calculations."

Q+A-Is there a way to end Pakistan's energy woes?

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The Pakistani government announced on Thursday measures to cut state electricity consumption, as Pakistan battles a chronic energy shortage which is inflaming public anger and stifling industry.

Here are some questions and answers about the power sector in Pakistan.

Uganda: Minister Onek regrets oil pipeline comments

The Minister of Energy, Hilary Onek has retracted the comments he recently made about Tamoil East Africa Limited in regard to the ongoing fuel shortage, absolving the Libyan-backed company of any blame.

Onek had claimed that Tamoil was offering petty excuses for the delay to construct the oil pipeline from the western Kenyan town of Eldoret to Kampala. He also said that the same company had failed to manage the Jinja fuel reservoirs.

Report: U.S. electricity demand drops

U.S. electricity demand fell 4.2 percent last year, the largest drop in 60 years, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

In the agency’s “State of the Markets Report 2009,” only three of the 11 recessions in the past 60 years have resulted in a drop in electric demand, and officials said in the report “falling power demand is rare.”

A steep decline in the industrial sector was blamed for some of the change along with relatively mild summers. In the residential and commercial sectors, though, demand also slid 1 percent, according to the federal regulator’s report.

The economics of modern-day piracy

This month, a South Korean super-tanker, with $200 million worth of crude oil, was seized by pirates over 600 nautical miles off the coast of Africa.

"Once they start attacking that far out, it's the (whole) Indian Ocean," that is under siege, warns Roger Middleton, a leading British expert on piracy. "And it means you're looking at trade going from the Gulf of Asia to southern Africa."

From an Economy of Consumption to an Economy of Sustainability

What do all these developments, and the sleazy behavior of some on Wall Street (e.g. Bernie Madoff), say about our national values? Is it possible that there is a disconnect between what we profess, including our religious values, and our economic system and behavior?

These questions occurred to me as I researched the thinking of economist/environmentalist E.F. Schumacher (1911-1977). In the 1950s and 1960s he was already practicing organic gardening and had solar panels on the roof of his house. In the 1970s he was popular with the youth of the counter-cultural movement, was invited to the White House to chat with Jimmy Carter, and influenced California Governor Jerry Brown, who spoke at his funeral in London. Today there are various Schumacher societies and other institutions that carry on his work, but among the general public he is rarely mentioned.

John Michael Greer: Economic superstitions

It’s been a while since we’ve had so clear a reminder that the intricate and fragile clockwork of industrial society depends so completely on Nature’s whims, but as usual, most people managed not to get the memo. Me, I didn’t give it much thought, since I was reading a different and more familiar memo, the one brought every spring by lengthening days and the waning risk of frost. I was out in the garden planting bush beans, dwarf peas, and Danvers carrots, since the weather was warm and the Moon was in a fertile sign.

US Navy to launch Great Green Fleet

The US navy is set to be both green and mean with the dawning of an new eco-friendly assault force that will mind its carbon footprint as it destroys its enemy. It is to launch "the Great Green Fleet", a fighting force of ships, submarines and planes powered entirely by biofuels. The first group will be tested in 2012, and the navy plans for it to be operational by 2016.

U.S. military shrinking its carbon ‘boot print’

WASHINGTON -- From solar-powered water-purification systems in Afghanistan to a Navy jet-fueled in part by biofuel, the U.S. military is taking a lead role in shrinking the U.S. carbon "boot print," an independent report said Tuesday.

The Department of Defense accounts for 80 percent of the U.S. government's total energy consumption, and most of the energy it uses currently comes from fossil fuels, according to a new report by the Pew Research think tank's Project on National Security, Energy and Climate.

Local economies close the distance between us

In my neighborhood, things began to change last year. First a restaurant opened and then a teashop. And then, like a gift from heaven, a small food market opened. Stop by in the early evening and you'll find a row of bicycles parked out front and the store's narrow aisles packed with people pondering their dinner options and chatting with their neighbors.

This little store is not only a hub of social activity. It's also an economic engine of surprising proportions. Studies show that spending a dollar at an independent business generates about three times as much benefit for your local economy as spending a dollar at a chain. The reason is that, unlike chains, which siphon money out of a community, local businesses spend much of their revenue buying goods and services from other local businesses. They bank at a local bank, hire a local accountant, get their printing done at the local print shop.

At 40, Earth Day Is Now Big Business

So strong was the antibusiness sentiment for the first Earth Day in 1970 that organizers took no money from corporations and held teach-ins “to challenge corporate and government leaders.”

Forty years later, the day has turned into a premier marketing platform for selling a variety of goods and services, like office products, Greek yogurt and eco-dentistry.

An Earth Day Pitch Raises Eyebrows

The Center for Biological Diversity announced that it would distribute 250,000 free condoms this Earth Day to highlight the link between the swift growth in the human population and the peril to other species. (They gave away 100,00 for Valentine’s Day, as well.)

The condoms are packaged with catchy captions like “Hump Smarter and Save a Snail Darter,” or “Wrap with Care and Save a Polar Bear.”

But the condoms were made of latex, a form of enhanced rubber that does not easily decompose in the natural environment and has been a major source of trash on beaches.

Food aid shortfall threatens Yemen

As the international community focuses on defeating al-Qaeda in Yemen, millions of ordinary people in the country on the south-west tip of the Arabian Peninsula are quietly starving as vital deliveries of UN food aid are severely cut due to a lack of funding.

By the end of June 2010, analysts predict, the WPF will have no food to distribute to Yemen's millions of hungry.

Peak Phosphorus

From Kansas to China's Sichuan province, farmers treat their fields with phosphorus-rich fertilizer to increase the yield of their crops. What happens next, however, receives relatively little attention. Large amounts of this resource are lost from farm fields, through soil erosion and runoff, and down swirling toilets, through our urine and feces. Although seemingly mundane, this process cannot continue indefinitely. Our dwindling supply of phosphorus, a primary component underlying the growth of global agricultural production, threatens to disrupt food security across the planet during the coming century. This is the gravest natural resource shortage you've never heard of.

Durham, a Tobacco Town, Turns to Local Food

Hundreds of outlying acres of rich Piedmont soil have “transitioned” from tobacco, and now sprout peas, strawberries, fennel, artichokes and lettuce. Animals also thrive in the gentle climate, giving chefs access to local milk, cheese, eggs, pigs, chickens, quail, lambs and rabbits.

“You can see the change, just driving from here to the coast,” two hours away, said Amy Tornquist, the chef and an owner of Watts Grocery, a restaurant near the Duke campus. Ms. Tornquist, 44, has lived in the area all her life. “You never saw sheep when I was young, you never saw cattle in the fields — it was all tobacco all the time,” she said. Ms. Tornquist’s restaurant isn’t blatantly farm to fork: it’s simply a given in Durham these days.

Food Vs. Fuel: Growing Grain for Food Is More Energy Efficient

ScienceDaily — Using productive farmland to grow crops for food instead of fuel is more energy efficient, Michigan State University scientists concluded, after analyzing 17 years' worth of data to help settle the food versus fuel debate.

"It's 36 percent more efficient to grow grain for food than for fuel," said Ilya Gelfand, an MSU postdoctoral researcher and lead author of the study. "The ideal is to grow corn for food, then leave half the leftover stalks and leaves on the field for soil conservation and produce cellulosic ethanol with the other half."

Once-hidden EU report reveals damage from biodiesel

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Biofuels such as biodiesel from soy beans can create up to four times more climate-warming emissions than standard diesel or petrol, according to an EU document released under freedom of information laws.

The Dandelion King

As I’ve told my neighbors, I feel bad about lowering the value of their property. I mean, it isn’t my goal to have a front yard that, by standard reckoning, is unattractive. The unkept look of my lawn is just a byproduct of a conclusion I reached a few years ago: the war on weeds, though not unwinnable, isn’t winnable at a morally acceptable cost.

Volcano Crisis Could Delay Emissions Regulation, Airline Chief Says

The top representative for the airline industry asserted Thursday that the disruption caused by the eruption of an Icelandic volcano had undermined efforts to include aviation in the European Union’s Emissions Trading System.

Geological Society Presses on Climate Threat

The Geological Society of America, after some tussling last year, has updated its official statement on global climate change, strongly aligning with statements by the world’s scientific academies, the American Geophysical Union, and a letter to Congress from 18 American scientific associations last year.

Transocean rig sinks, says Coast Guard

At 10:20 a.m. the Transocean Deepwater Horizon rig sunk, according to a Coast Guard spokesman.

The vessel, which has been burning since about 10 p.m. Tuesday night was completely submerged, said the spokesman but the fire continued to burn.

Aramco extends Yanbu bid process after Conoco exit

KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - State oil giant Saudi Aramco has asked for more time from bidders for deals to build its Yanbu refinery after partner ConocoPhillips pulled out, industry sources said on Thursday.

Saudi output steady despite rising oil prices

DUBAI - Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, is pumping around 8.05 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude in April, a senior Gulf OPEC delegate said on Wednesday, little changed from March.

The stable production indicates the kingdom has yet to respond with an increase in supply to oil prices that have moved above the $70-to-$80 a barrel mark that OPEC's biggest producer has pegged as fair for consumers and producers.

"April production is 8.05 million bpd," the delegate told Reuters.

Iran oil sector "helped" by sanctions, says minister

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's oil industry has not been dented by sanctions, Oil Minister Massoud Mirkazemi said on Thursday, dismissing a potential threat to the country's vital gasoline imports as "a joke."

Shell sees global gas demand up

PARIS (Reuters) - Global demand for gas is set to rise constantly over the next 20 years amid plentiful reserves and its increasing use to produce power, a senior executive at Royal Dutch Shell said on Thursday.

"We see global gas demand growing by at least 2 percent a year over some decades, so by 2030 we look at gas demand hitting 4.5 trillion cubic meters of gas per year," Malcom Brinded told an oil conference. "That's 50 percent up from today's level."

Brinded was equally bullish on prospects for liquefied natural gas, which he saw growing "a lot faster" than overall gas demand, driven by China's economic growth and higher demand in Europe and countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Pakistan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Lofoten May Attract $50 Billion in Oil Investments

(Bloomberg) -- Opening areas off Norway’s Lofoten and Vesteraalen islands for oil and gas exploration may attract 300 billion kroner ($50 billion) in investments over a 20- to 30-year period starting next decade, a study found.

Noble Corp tightens on costs in challenging market

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Noble Corp, the third-largest offshore oil rig contractor by value, said on Thursday it is tightening up on spending due to challenging market conditions and lowered its cost estimate for 2010.

Tata May Beat Hyundai in India Helped by World’s Cheapest Car

(Bloomberg) -- A Tata Motors Ltd. factory opening this month in western India to assemble the $2,500 Nano, the world’s cheapest car, may help the company surpass Hyundai Motor Co. this year as the nation’s second-largest automaker.

The plant in Sanand will start producing the Nano by April 30 and make up to 250,000 a year, said Debasis Ray, a spokesman for the Mumbai-based company. That’s about 80 percent of Hyundai’s India sales last fiscal year, based on industry data.

New Jersey woman teaches how to make self-sustaining fruit and vegetable gardens

Gardening is more than a hobby for Linda Grinthal.

The mother of three grows fruit, vegetables and herbs on her farm in Lafayette while honing her survival skills for uncertain times. Looming oil shortages, she believes, could impact suburbia sooner than projected.

She envisions a future in which supermarkets are shuttered and cars become relics as society circles back to agrarian culture. Her outlook is rooted in books like James Howard Kunstler’s “The Long Emergency,” which cautions that depleted petroleum supplies can’t sustain the strip-mall status quo.

Differing shades of green

Bill McKibben and Robert Bryce agree about little, but both seek to transform Americans' understanding of the relationships of energy use, global warming, and the economy. Because they offer important but sharply divergent perspectives, it is good to read their books in tandem.

Why most green gadgets suck (and how to make them better)

Let's take a look at some of reasons why green gadgets still suck and then figure out what we need to do to improve the odds of future products saving the world.

The Tide Has Changed For Dutch Dikes

Joost Schrijnen, a managing director with the committee, wants to create a delta that is cleaner, more pleasant and more natural. With all the focus on safety after 1953, Schrijnen said, “ other aspects were neglected.” He now wants to change that. “But without sacrificing safety,” he added.

Opening water locks would allow the tide to return to now stagnant waters, the report stated. This would be a boon to nature, because certain plants and animals, which have all but disappeared since the estuaries were closed off, can return. Deeper into the delta lies a fresh water basin where smelly algae bloom in the summer. Allowing salt water to reach these outer stretches again could improve conditions for residents and holiday-makers. A hole in the Brouwersdam, for example, would allow for tides as high as 50 centimetres. The opening would make an ideal site for a tidal power plant, which is also being considered by the committee.

Edging Back to Nuclear Power

FOR the first time since the 1970s, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has announced a step that it once took routinely: appointing an inspector for a new reactor construction project.

With 17 applications in hand from companies that want to build 26 reactors, the agency is likely to name a lot more inspectors; it also expects five more applicants in the next few years.

Is this the long-awaited renaissance of the nuclear construction business, after years of being moribund?

See also: Nuclear Power: A Resurgence, an Opportunity (slideshow)

Saudis see demand peak looming

Oil use will probably peak in emerging markets by early next decade, a senior adviser to Saudi Arabia's oil minister said today.

"I think that peak demand will come before peak of supply," Reuters quoted Ibrahim Al-Muhanna, advisor to Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi, saying in answer to questions at a conference in Paris.

"The demand in emerging economies will take time to peak but definitely it will peak maybe this decade or early next decade," he said.

A six-year oil price rally that ended in 2008 had led to increased interest in the theory that world oil supply may be nearing its peak as easily accessible reserves dwindle.

That issue faded as economic slowdown eroded demand.

Financial blog editor Stoneleigh to address next BCAG meeting

The Brockville Climate Action Group (BCAG) has invited Stoneleigh, editor of the popular financial blog 'The Automatic Earth', to its April 25 meeting to explain clearly why the green shoot economy will not prove durable, how the concepts of peak oil, empire and credit bubbles intersect, and how we as individuals can prepare for a very different financial future than we may have been envisioning.

The Automatic Earth is a donation-supported, labour-of-love website that tracks and analyzes the intersection between finance and energy, with occasional forays into environment and climate change. Prior to starting The Automatic Earth, Stoneleigh and her writing partner, Ilargi, were the editors of the Canadian section of the site 'The Oil Drum'. Stoneleigh holds advanced degrees in biology, law, and systems theory. She currently works in the energy field and lives in eastern Ontario.

Betting on higher oil prices

"The real source of our current high oil prices -- and the reason why they'll stay high for a long time to come -- is pure and simple science.

"It's known as Peak Oil, the well really is running dry."

Outstanding Investments then powerfully summarized the celebrated contention of geologist M. King Hubbard that the world is simply running out of oil, at any price.

Volcanoes, flight disruptions and the high energy price effect

This reminds us of an FT interview with Philips’ chief executive Gerard Kleisterlee, in which he warned that “more regional” (ie, less far-flung) supply chains were likely to become more common in a world where energy becomes increasingly expensive. It will be interesting to see whether a focus on flight disruption risk may further motivate some companies to reduce their reliance on long-distance transport.

Producer Prices Rise on Food Costs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Wholesale prices rose more than expected last month as food prices surged by the most in 26 years.

The Labor Department said the Producer Price Index rose 0.7 percent in March. Analysts expected a 0.4 percent rise. A rise in gasoline prices also helped push up the index.

Still, there was little sign of budding inflation in the report, which measures price changes before they reach the consumer. Excluding volatile food and energy costs, wholesale prices rose 0.1 percent, matching analysts’ expectations.

Iraq’s Recovery Fuels Profits as Life Returns to City Streets

Seven years after the ouster of Saddam Hussein, Iraq has changed, Bloomberg BusinessWeek will report in its April 26 issue. Yes, convoys of SUVs packed with heavily armed security men still roar down Baghdad’s busy streets. Armed gangs still prey on truckers. Iraq’s political class struggles to form a new government. The few expat managers in the country live like prisoners: Every night, HSBC’s Hogan holes up in a walled compound run by a security company.

Ordinary Iraqis, however, are living more normally than they have in years. Shops on Saadoun and Karrada Streets are filled with flat-screen TVs, computers, and clothing from China, Turkey, Iran, and Korea. Pedestrians have to step around the Turkish and Iranian refrigerators and stoves piled outside. At night many Baghdadis relax watching one of the privately owned television channels that have sprung up, or checking the latest Iraqi Web sites.

Iraq Oil Pipeline Explodes North of Mosul, Police Say

(Bloomberg) -- An explosion blew a hole in an Iraqi pipeline, stopping crude oil exports via Turkey, a police officer in Mosul said.

Unknown assailants detonated the explosive charge on the pipeline that runs from Iraq’s Kirkuk oil fields to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, said the police officer, who didn’t want to be identified by name for security reasons. Army and police forces were deployed to the scene in al-Hadhar, near Mosul, and workers are trying to extinguish the fire, the police officer said.

Half a million British Gas customers 'face prices shock'

Almost half a million British Gas customers could face a "shock" when a five-year fixed price tariff comes to an end.

Nigeria oil reform 'will free up funding'

Nigeria's sweeping oil reform bill should resolve the Opec member's chronic funding shortfalls which have stalled expansion in the country's energy sector, a senior lawmaker said today.

Why the US Fears a Nuclear Armed Iran

The United States reached its peak oil production in the 1970's. There are simply no large oil field reserves left in the US that are able to meet a fraction of our country's need. The Guardian newspaper[5] reported on April 11, 2010, "The US military has warned that surplus oil production capacity could disappear within two years and there could be serious shortages by 2015 with a significant economic and political impact." What is even more troubling about this report is where it states: "The US military says its views cannot be taken as US government policy but admits they are meant to provide the Joint Forces with "an intellectual foundation upon which we will construct the concept to guide our future force developments." This report only further bolsters the fact that US military force deployment and action are being specifically driven by US oil concerns.

ONGC Said to Seek Partners for Gas Field After Petrobras Exits

(Bloomberg) -- Oil & Natural Gas Corp., India’s biggest energy explorer, is seeking partners to replace Petroleo Brasileiro SA and Statoil ASA in a gas field that lies near the nation’s biggest deposit, a company official said.

UAE proposes site near Saudi border for reactors

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The Emirates nuclear energy company announced Thursday that it has picked a site in the country's far western region as its preferred location for the federation's first atomic power plants.

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. said it has submitted license applications for the proposed location to local regulators, who must give the green light to any nuclear sites.

Gintech to Beat Taiwan Dollar Gains on Solar Demand

(Bloomberg) -- Gintech Energy Corp., Taiwan’s second-biggest solar-cell maker, expects to withstand the local dollar’s gains because of rising demand for renewable energy.

Why smartgrids could be answer to energy's future

The future, as it has been pointed out by numerous others, will not look very much like the present for one important reason: We are running out of energy.

GE to Debut Gearless Offshore Wind Turbine to Rival Siemens

(Bloomberg) -- General Electric Co., the world’s second-biggest maker of wind turbines, plans to introduce a 4 megawatt gearless wind turbine for offshore use in 2012 in a challenge to market leader Siemens AG of Germany.

Government incentives and pricing pressure for onshore models amid the economic slowdown make the offshore market more attractive, Mete Maltepe, global sales leader for wind energy at GE, said in a telephone interview on April 20.

UK: Green Party candidate Matt Sellwood explains all in our Q&A

Why should people vote for you?

Because I am offering that radical alternative. The three establishment parties are avoiding talking about Afghanistan, because they all believe we should be occupying that country. I don't - I'm in favour of immediate withdrawal. The three establishment parties are all agreed on the need for massive cuts in public services. I'm not - I believe that we should significantly raise redistributive and environmental taxation instead. The three establishment parties are only paying lipservice to climate change and peak oil. I'm being honest about the significantly changed economic and social context that we will need if we are going to deal with those problems in the coming years.

FUW Manifesto - Family Farms must be at centre of Government Rural Policies

"With the world population expected to rise to between nine and 10 billion by 2050, and predicted reductions in global agricultural productivity per hectare, there is clearly a need for appropriate action that balances food production against environmental considerations, and mitigating climate change without compromising food security is one of the most significant long term challenges facing mankind.

"There can be little doubt that joined up policies between Governments are needed to address these issues and the CAP, by design, provides just such a framework, allowing Europe to react to the imminent challenges that growing populations, global warming, rising sea levels, and peak oil represent in terms of food security."

10 first steps to greener living

Every journey begins with a single step. We've rounded up the 10 easiest ways for you to start moving toward a lighter lifestyle. Some cost nothing at all. Others provide a lot of bang for your eco-dollar. In every case, these ideas will save you money, cut energy use, and help balance your household's greenhouse gas budget -- the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere to produce goods or electrical power.

Fossil-fuel subsidies hurting global environment, security

A comprehensive assessment of global fossil-fuel subsidies has found that governments are spending $500 billion annually on policies that undermine energy security and worsen the environment.

The study, titled "The Politics of Fossil-Fuel Subsidies" by David Victor, a professor of political science with UC San Diego's School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS), was one of five released April 22 by the Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).

GSI's goal is to reform, reduce and ultimately eliminate fossil-fuel subsidies, which are highest in Iran, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, India and Venezuela. The reform effort received a boost September 2009 when President Obama and other world leaders met in Pittsburgh, Pa., for the Group of 20 Summit. They agreed in a non-binding resolution to phase out fossil-fuel subsidies, but the measure didn't attempt to resolve difficult political issues such as how governments would actually achieve a phaseout. Victor's study addresses the political challenges.

Fueling the Afghan War

In Napoleon Bonaparte's day an army may have marched on its belly, as the French emperor famously quipped, but the modern-day American military campaign in Afghanistan needs not just food but also fuel. Diesel for the MRAPs and Humvees, aviation fuel for the planes and helicopters--that's the fodder for the military surge under way in Afghanistan. Fuel is precious there--they call it liquid gold--and the effort to keep it flowing has created an array of bizarre monopolies, strange alliances and allegations of corruption entangling the US government.

This is the story of two interlinked and secretive offshore companies run by a former Army intelligence officer. The firms run a specialized monopoly of massive proportions. Their niche: supplying aviation fuel for US military operations in Afghanistan--enough to fill two Olympic-size swimming pools each and every day of the year.

Crude Oil Declines as Greece’s Deficit Weakens Equities, Euro

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil declined for the first time in three days after the European Union said Greece’s budget deficit last year was worse than previously forecast, sending equities and the euro lower.

Oil fell to near $83 a barrel in New York as the dollar climbed against the euro, dimming the appeal of commodities for hedging inflation. A U.S. Energy Department report yesterday showed that crude inventories unexpectedly increased last week, stirring concerns that fuel demand in the world’s largest energy user has yet to recover.

Search Continues for Missing Rig Workers After Blast

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Coast Guard rescuers searched waters of the Gulf of Mexico through the night for 11 offshore oil workers still missing after an explosion and fire injured 17 people on a Transocean Ltd. drilling rig yesterday.

FACTBOX - Saudi Arabia's oil refining capacity

Saudi plans to boost refinery capacity have suffered several setbacks. Another plan to boost capacity to 400,000 bpd at Ras Tanura is on hold and may be shelved indefinitely. The kingdom failed to find a foreign partner for a plan to build a refinery at Jizan and will proceed with the project alone.

If all plans proceed, Saudi Arabia would boost domestic refining capacity by more than 1.7 million barrels per day from the current level of 2.1 million bpd.

Russia Pays Ukraine $40 Billion to Halt ‘Gas War’

(Bloomberg) -- President Dmitry Medvedev agreed to spend $40 billion to cement Moscow’s ties with Kiev after five years of tension by cutting gas prices to Ukraine in return for an extended Russian naval presence in the Black Sea.

Russia will cut the natural-gas prices it charges Ukraine by 30 percent in a deal that obliges Ukraine to import more gas from its neighbor to the east. As part of the accord, Russia will keep its Black Sea Fleet base 25 years longer than the existing lease allows.

Gazprom Group Inks Deal With Sempra LNG for Deliveries to U.S. Gulf Coast Terminal

LONDON and SAN DIEGO, CA--(Marketwire) - Gazprom Global LNG Limited ("GGLNG") and Sempra LNG, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy, today signed an agreement that will allow GGLNG to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Sempra LNG's receipt terminal in Lake Charles, La., near the U.S. Gulf Coast. The agreement provides GGLNG with another route to supply the United States with LNG from its growing portfolio and provides the Cameron LNG terminal with natural gas for the U.S. Gulf Coast and East Coast.

Land Grab: Clean Energy Movement Can Leave Communities Divided

The push for clean energy came to Deborah Rogers' farm about a year ago. Rogers, who makes goat cheese near Fort Worth, Texas, was working when she noticed something strange. Two baby goats, seemingly curled up sleeping, wouldn't wake up. They were dead.

Around the same time, Rogers began to notice dozens of gas wells popping up around her property. Worried about the possibility of toxic emissions, Rogers launched a crusade for safer drilling and sought help from local officials who weren't exactly sympathetic.

"Everyone made it pretty clear to me," Rogers said. "They said, 'Deborah, you're ruining the party.'"

Massey Expects West Virginia Mine Disaster to Cost $212 Million

(Bloomberg) -- Massey Energy Co., owner of the West Virginia coal mine where 29 people were killed this month, said it expects a second-quarter charge of as much as $212 million for the accident, more than twice its 2009 earnings.

The costs will include $80 million to $150 million for benefits for families of the miners, rescue and recovery efforts, insurance deductibles, legal and other contingencies, the company said yesterday in its first-quarter earnings statement. The value of the damaged equipment, development and mineral rights is an additional $62 million, the company said.

Feds Conduct Surprise Inspections Of 57 Coal Mines

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) ― Nearly 60 problem U.S. coal mines have been hit with surprise inspections aimed at preventing another explosion like the one that killed 29 miners in West Virginia, the nation's chief mine safety regulator said Wednesday.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration did not immediately reveal how many problems were found during the weekend crackdown. A spokeswoman said that information is still being compiled.

South Africa Boosts Coal Supplies to China, India on Growth

(Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s Richards Bay Coal Terminal, Europe’s biggest source of coal burned for electricity, is boosting supplies to India and China as rebounding Asian economies build new power plants.

Improving the fuel efficiency of U.S. light vehicles

I recently highlighted grounds for pessimism about the ease with which the U.S. could significantly change our oil consumption habits. Here I highlight some interesting new research by U.C. Davis economics professor Christopher Knittel which offers a more optimistic assessment.

Georgia confirms highly enriched uranium seizure

NEW YORK – Georgia's president said his country had seized a shipment of highly enriched uranium, blaming Russia for creating the instability that allows nuclear smugglers to operate in the region.

Russia dismissed the claims Thursday and said Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili's comments were "unsubstantiated" and amounted to propaganda.

Military supports wind power despite radar worries

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – A U.S. general is trying to reassure the public the military supports wind power and other alternative energy, despite his concerns that turbines may block radar that detects threats to North America.

Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, head of U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, wrote on his official blog this week that both commands are committed to homeland defense and clean energy.

Construction of a 338-turbine wind farm in Oregon has been put on hold while experts study whether it will interfere with a nearby radar station.

Jeff Rubin: A glimpse into our future

While airlines are on the front lines, just think of all the other ways the volcano has short-circuited the global economy. Consider the millions of meetings that never happened, the millions of business transactions that didn’t get made, the millions of missed hotel and car reservations. And think of the thousands of airline passengers who took global travel for granted only to find themselves stranded in European airports.

How bad science opened door for malaria

Early environmentalists made pesticides one of their chief bugaboos. Rachel Carson, who helped launch the modern environmental movement, was among them.

In her now-famous 1962 book Silent Spring, she argued that DDT, when sprayed on a Michigan campus to halt the spread of Dutch elm disease, would spread far and wide and harm robins' ability to reproduce.

Carson was no doubt well-intentioned, but it turns out that she was flat out wrong about the effects of DDT. It didn't spread the way she thought it did, and no studies have ever been able to show that environmental exposure to DDT — even in large quantities — harms human health. It is less dangerous to humans than any number of natural chemicals, including some vitamins and medicines that we consume without a second thought. And when used in small quantities in malaria control, DDT protects people from deadly mosquitoes.

The public-health benefits it confers far exceed any of the unproven, theoretical risks.

White House will go door-to-door for home retrofits

To kick off Earth Day, Vice President Joe Biden announced that 25 U.S. communities will receive $452 million to go door-to-door and offer energy efficiency retrofits.

Going truly green might require detective work

More than half of consumers say they would pay more for a product if they knew it was better for the environment, according to a national poll conducted this month by ad agency Venables Bell & Partners.

Yet, some of the spending is misplaced: Overhyped and overpriced enviro-friendly impostors share shelves with the truly planet- and human-friendly products. Misleading claims are so rampant, there is actually a term for it: greenwashing.

Houses of 2020 will be all about energy

The American house of 2020 will likely be smaller, smarter, more urban and efficient.

It might not look like a space-age Jetsons set, but just as iPhones and Google have revolutionized personal computing, technology will boost home IQ.

Threats to Earth: 7 Little-Known Ecological Hazards

Threats to the environment lurk among the things we see and use every day. We've singled out seven secret polluters whose negative impact on the planet is worse than it may seem.

Your backyard could be a wildlife habitat

Across the country, homeowners have been meeting criteria to make their properties hospitable to wildlife. Enrollment in the 37-year-old backyard certification program has grown by 400% since 2003, says program coordinator Roxanne Paul.

Backyard habitats are becoming increasingly important as species pressured by development and other forces seek new homes, says Doug Inkley, senior scientist for the federation. "Many (species) have been in decline. Providing a place for them is extremely educational, it provides good habitat, and it can be a safe endeavor."

Sen. Voinovich Throws Curveball at Senators' Plan to Limit GHG Regs in Climate Bill

Architects of the Senate climate bill yesterday confirmed plans to limit state and federal climate change programs but signaled that a sweeping measure from Sen. George Voinovich goes further than they plan to.

Branson's 'Carbon War Room' Puts Industry on Front Line of U.S. Climate Debate

Richard Branson, the British-born billionaire, equates global warming with the kind of threat posed by a world war. In a capitalist America, he argues, that means deploying private equity and ingenuity to beat a common enemy -- in this case, carbon emissions.

States fear devil in details of climate bill

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – California and other states with aggressive environmental agendas said on Wednesday they fear a federal climate bill may unacceptably weaken their power, in a new sign of uncertainty over compromise legislation being crafted by Senator John Kerry and his allies.

Study: River water temperatures rising

CHARLOTTESVILLE — New research by a multi-institutional team of ecologists and hydrologists, including the University of Virginia's Michael Pace, shows that water temperatures are increasing in many streams and rivers throughout the United States – a trend that the researchers warn could eventually impact riparian ecosystems.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, found statistically significant long-term warming in 20 major U.S. streams and rivers – including such prominent rivers as the Colorado, Potomac, Delaware and Hudson.

'Paltry' Copenhagen carbon pledges point to 3C world

Pledges made at December's UN summit in Copenhagen are unlikely to keep global warming below 2C, a study concludes.

Writing in the journal Nature, analysts at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research in Germany say a rise of at least 3C by 2100 is likely.

Happy Earth Day!

CNBC's "Beyond the Barrel: The Race to Fuel the Future" will premiere on Thursday, April 22nd at 8pm ET.

There is an amazing race going on around the world to find the fuel of the future. CNBC's "Beyond the Barrel: The Race to Fuel the Future," anchored by CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla, will introduce viewers to more than a dozen potential game changing innovations to power our planet and showcase the bottled promises ready to be unleashed from the Middle East, South America, Asia and here at home. The one-hour CNBC Original will also take a critical look at why we are still years away from putting these ideas into practice. -CNBC

Got the tvoe set to recorde it. Also, three hours later Future Earth: Addicted to Power comes on MSNBC.

Our reliance on energy may be costing us more than we realize. Watch “Future Earth: Addicted to Power,” narrated by Sam Waterston, on msnbc on Thursday, April 22 at 11 p.m. ET.

Ron P.

Does anyone know if CNBC's special reports like this are typically available to watch over the net (I don't have TV which is generally a good thing but kind of a drag when a show like this comes up...)



Yes, you can find them here: CNBC Original Productions. There will be a delay before the show appears on line however. I don't know how long but I would guess only a day or two.

Ron P.

Thanks Ron - that's just what I was looking for...

Actually I tried that Ron-link but it only gave me descriptions of the shows with a 1 or 2 minutes teaser. I checked 5 or 6 of them- but no full show. Hopefully someone lifts "Beyond the Barrel: The Race to Fuel the Future" gently onto Youtube or the equivalent :-)

Yes, I found that out after trying to watch a few of them. Some of them however does let you watch the entire program. "House of Cards", "Inside the Mind of Google" and "Marijuana Inc. Inside America’s Pot Industry" are some of the shows that the entire show can be watched.

Ron P.

Most of these shows that get decent ratings seem to end up my local movie rental store

CNBC runs the freakin' bleep out of their specials. They're worse than the History Channel. There will be MANY opportunities to view this program.

Not if you don't have a TV.

If you don't have a TV, rent one or make a friend let you watch this PBS show:

Here are my first thoughts on it after having my mind blown by it, I posted somethinglike this las night but at 4AM, but I don't want you folks to miss this...

Has anyone other than me seen the PBS "American Experience" episode titled "Earth Days" ?

All I can say is OMG. I hadn't intended to really make an effort to see it, thinking it would be just another baby boomer festival of their old glory days as idealist, fun filled, sex filled youth in the communes of Southern Cal. Just goes to show you what prejudice can cause you to risk missing...

The show starts a little flat, and then it gets darker and darker until it would be a proper film for all those wishing for a true to the spirit TOD produced doomer film...at the end of it I was getting ready to head for the hills myself, and maybe join a small band of reborn hippies in the hopes of a few more years of survival!

There was the normal reflections on the "unhappy" but so happy days of baby boomer youth and long haired idealism, the swan song of the movement as it was dismantled in defeat by big business and Ronald Reagan (Jimmy Carter spoke of the solar hot water panels he put on the White House, saying that in a few years they could be "an oddity, or a museum piece, or a symbol of a path not taken"...even he didn't imagine they would simply add to the landfill problem when they were essentially scrapped as crap), and the early 1970's TV commercial predicting that "you will have to wear an oxygen mask, there will be no birds, no insects and you won't be able to see the sun"...and all this by 1980!

Toward the end, we get a look at the new "eco-business" world, much more modest in its aims, much more prone to look for a profit in the doomer future so that at least they can go on to thier dotage in prosperity, hopefully driving a green hybrid to their solar suburban homes...the business community having once again does what it does the absolute best, co-opting the psychological cravings of the largest generation in history.

For the boomers and doomers and TOD'ers, this film is a MUST SEE. For those under the age of 35, we should subsidize your viewing of the film and PAY YOU TO SEE IT, so great it would be to you as revealation of where we have been a not so long yet in many ways a SO long time ago. Your history classes are probably not nearly so useful as a viewing of this film. WATCH IT.

I also agree with Ghung, who on another string recommended "Food,Inc" also showing on PBS, a fascinating look at food and agriculture....you can tell that for now PBS is not terrified of a conservative President coming down on their throat, they are opening up with all barrels blazing while they have the chance!


"we get a look at the new "eco-business" world, much more modest in its aims, much more prone to look for a profit in the doomer future so that at least they can go on to thier dotage in prosperity"

Like this?

"Pot pays the bills in this Northern California enclave, home to hippies and good old boys alike who espouse the weed's curative and economic benefits. The expensive trucks, bustling restaurants, escalating rents and plentiful wads of cash all point to profitable pot cultivation in Humboldt.

Now, a state voter initiative on the November ballot that would make California the first U.S. state to legalize and tax this cash crop has locals jittery about losing their dominant market position."


I'd like to see your reference, but like Leanan points out, I don't have TV, nor the bandwidth to get it online...

I would vote for legalization of grass anywhere, anytime. The hysteria about hemp is incomprehensible to me in a nation that has a methamphetamine addiction epidemic and allows legal sale of hard liquor (both of which are more damaging to health) compared to hemp which is useful as an ingredient in textiles, industry and oil (hemp oil can be run very well in Diesel engines. The medical and recreational use of marijuana or canibus seems relatively safe compared to many prescription concoctions on which millions of dollars were spent developing, and millions of people take in combination with other pharmaceutical concoctions. As for marijuana, I have never tried it, but if it were legal I would, I didn't come to appreciate wine until recently in my life!

I would love to see an EROEI study done on hemp, counting in all the ways it can be used balanced by the energy required to grow it. It would be fascinating.


Of course, once upon a time not only was it legal, it was being actively promoted by Uncle Sam;

Now, this was industrial hemp, rather than cannabis, but still...

You cant' grow industrial hemp the US today, though you can in Canada, and it is. I can (and do) by shelled hemp seed from my local supermarket - great addition to porridge!

Industrial hemp makes a great energy crop - more btu/ha than corn!

In honor of Earth Day, I have a new detailed analysis post up titled "Wind Dispersion and the Renewable Hubbert Curve":

That gives us the power-law and a shape that looks surprisingly close to the time depletion curve for an oil reservoir. In fact, since probabilities have such universal properties, the curvature of this profile has the same fundamental basis as the Hubbert oil depletion profile. The huge distinction lies in the fact that wind energy provides a renewable source of energy, whereas oil depletion results in a dead-end.
So the hopelessness of the Hubbert curve when applied to Peak Oil turns to a sense of optimism when you realize that wind power generates a case of a Renewable Hubbert Curve. In other words, anytime you spin-up the wind-turbine you can always obtain a mini Hubbert cycle, if you have patience, just like you need patience with a train schedule.

Uh, WHT, you got a bit of a problem with your maths.

The force of the wind, like aerodynamic drag, increases with the square of the relative velocity. Power is force times velocity, so the power available is a function of the cube of the relative velocity (that's wind speed for a fixed location). The available energy is the integral of the power, or power times time for a fixed speed. Also, in many locations, the wind often arrives with variable gusts, not steady flow, so most of the power is contained within the higher speed gusts.

Nice curve fit, though...

E. Swanson

Very interesting. I always held that aerodynamic drag increased as the cube of velocity. With certain caveats for clever design, this is accepted physics. However, the power produced by the Bernoulli effect due to the differential in pressure from differences in velocity which is the principle that powers sails and propellors is something I know nothing about despite having sailed a lot.

In other words, is the lift available from a wing shape, within its design parameters, a linear, square or cubic function?

Generally speaking, aerodynamic drag increases as the square of the velocity (assuming a relatively high and constant Reynolds number in all cases). However, the power required to overcome drag increases as the cube of the velocity. So, a 10% increase in velocity results in a 21% increase in drag, and a 33% increase in the power required to overcome drag.

Lift for a wing can be calculated from quadratic equation similar to the equation for drag, with the lift coefficient in place of the drag coefficient.

Yes, it was right there in the wikipedia page I linked to.

In the end, I forgot the extra velocity factor to calculate the correct time integration graph which you and Black Dog pointed out.

The windiest place I've ever passed through, and I mean 'consistently' windy, relentlessly windy, was the Columbia Gorge between Oregon and Washington. I could not believe it. I got out of my car in a parking lot and could barely stand up. My first question to a couple of people, heads down, barreling toward the nearest building was, "Is it like this often?" I thought it was an approaching hurricane. They stopped, looked at me like I was either an idiot or from a distant land, and simply said, "Everyday." Then they scuttled off.

Windsurfing capital of the US? But I never saw a single wind turbine.

There are wind farms further east along the Columbia Gorge corridor, such as the Stateline Wind Project -- one of the largest anywhere:

(lines of turbines traced in red; click for larger version)


The Stateline Wind Farm is a wind farm located on Vansycle Ridge, which receives 16 to 18 mph (26 - 29 km/h) average wind speeds from the Columbia Gorge, on the border between Washington and Oregon in the United States. With 186 turbines currently operating in both states and 279 more approved for construction, it is the largest wind project in the Northwestern United States and will be the largest in the world. Costing $300 million to build, it began operation in 2001.

My utility, Seattle City Light, buys about half of Stateline's output to supplement the hydro that it owns.

Putting turbines anywhere near the Columbia Gorge Scenic Area has met with a lot of resistance.

The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm in north central Oregon will be the largest in the world when completed, that is, if the Pentagon backs down. My great grandparents settled in this area in the 1880s; we moved to the Willamette Valley when I began high school, and were paying a visit to my hometown a few years later, my Mom remarked on wondering how she put up with all of this wind for decades on end. "What wind?" was the response, as tumbleweeds and dirt devils sauntered by.

The lower end of the Gorge is a hot tourist spot but east of the Cascades it's just basalt, scrub, and dry land wheat farming:

Wyoming is like that over relatively wide areas. So much so that the concept of a logging chain as wind sock is embedded in the local culture:

LOL! I had forgotten that sign. The wind is pretty stift most places in southern Wyoming, I lived in Laramie for a while in 1992, wonderful hiking nearby, but you better dress for summer, fall and winter, so you aren't found dead off the trail frozen. I was introduced to Hard cider there, sadly I have none left in the house.

My girl friend at the time had family in Rock Springs, and I was once told that one day the wind stopped for about 2 hours, they thought the end of the world was going to show up. Locals were scared, they had never had that happen before. It might be a wives tale, but they were pretty honest folks, I doubt they would make up a story of the wind not blowing.

Gusty winds in Iceland are like that too, makes for a neat idea of where to put wind farms, or where to live if you want to blow dry your hair the natural way.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future.

In terms of determining a kinetic energy, a small volume does act as an energy. It dissipates its energy when it comes to rest.

When the wind is relentless and the small volumes keep coming, then you deal with an effective power.

Here is a thought experiment. Create a small object that has a sail. Let that object ride with the wind. Measure its speed. Do the measurement again at a different wind speed. The kinetic energy of each object is 1/2mv^2. That is the
energy transferred from the wind to the object. It won't go any faster than the wind but it will generally keep pace. It seems like this is how one thinks about these problems to first order. Under which conditions this deviates one can argue but on Earth Day I like to marvel at the way nature works.

It won't go any faster than the wind but it will generally keep pace.

Unless it's a sailboat.

Principle of Least Action at work. The sailboat gets constrained by the daggerboard or keel and it is essentially forced to pick up fresh wind energy as it tacks.

My example is untethered and it follows the principle of least action as it floats along in a stale energy pocket.

I admit to making the mistake of not clamping it to a fixed location for the correct power generation.

Do the thought experiment again, big guy.

mass flow rate = density x area x velocity


power = 1/2 density x area x velocity^3

E. Swanson

Check, of course you have it right. I must have been thinking in an inertial reference frame or something.

The Rayleigh's curve still holds but the integrated energy curve needed to be adjusted.

I updated the graph and gave you credit.

What is interesting about the new graph is that the tail gets even fatter. The fatness of the tail in the time domain is the point I originally wanted to make. It gets fatter because the slow wind speeds take even longer to integrate relative to the high wind speeds, due to the multiplicative factor. The power law thus changes from 1/time^2 to 1/time^(5/3)

This gives a quantitative view to the common observation that wind power can work but you also have a relatively high probability of it taking a loooong time to collect the same amount of energy. This all has to do with the entropy in the wind distribution.

Thanks again for being persistent in your criticism. I don't think anyone is doing this kind of work, so this is the only place it can get desk-checked.

It won't go any faster than the wind but it will generally keep pace.

Well, well Play this video - and remark :almost no waves ..... What do you say now then? :-)
A Windsurfing-board with the proper pilot can travel several times faster then the general wind speed.

Sailboats are a lift type wing, per Bernoulli's Principle. This is why a sailboat or sailboard can go much faster when sailing across the wind than when the wind is directly behind "pushing" the boat. A modern sail on a sail boat is essentially a vertical flexible wing.

With modern design reducing hydro drag, the effect can be magnificant:
This is the world record, 51.36 knots by a sailing hydrofoil

On wind turbines, the wing effect is fantastic, in that lift type wind blades can go very fast, as the pressure lifts them on the up side and then pushes them down on the downward side of the rotation. The diameter of the turbine means a lot, the longer the blades, the faster the tip of the blade will be. On very large turbines the tip will be almost supersonic. This of course adds to the stresses that must be dealt with in keeping a wind turbine together. (as an aside it also adds to bird kills, as a turbine blade at the outer end is smacking a bird at the speed of an airliner)

It also sets the upper limit on power production, because at very high windspeed, the turbine must be shut down. This means the power from very high wind speed cannot be harvested due to the limits of the wind turbine to be able to stand the stresses. So a lift type wind turbine suffers in that it will not produce great power at very low speeds and produces no power at very high speeds. A modern giant wind turbine needs a happy medium.

This brings us to an alternative, the drag type windmill. This mill follows more closely the rules discussed by WebHubbleTelescope, in that it can go about as fast as the wind (minus frictional loss) but no faster because the aerodynamic drag equals out to the force pushing the wind turbine. So what use can a slow turning drag type windmill be? Actually, more than you would think.

These are the Savonius wind turbines:

They can never turn very fast, so they have been somewhat dismissed for power production, but they can produce large amounts of torque (twisting force) for their size, and thus are good for water pumping, compressing air, etc., low speed applications requiring torque instead of speed. Note that these are not Darrieus type turbines, which although they are vertical axis like the Savonius, they are lift type turbines, and thus can turn faster, albeit they are more expensive to build because they must be able to withstand the stresses of higher speed, and must be shut down in higher winds.

The drag type Savonius turbines are very cheap to build. Some have even been built from 55 gallon drums cut vertically in half and rewelded together for the purpose of pumping water. They are self governing on speed (since they can never go faster than the wind) and need no directional control (since they are vertical axis).

To produce power with a Savonius, you would have to essentially store the torque, but we now know that using any wind turbine effectively will sooner or later require storage. The idea would be to store the power and overcome the low speed of the Savonius by way of the same method, either pumped water storage or compressed air storage. If the Savonius is used to compress air, the compressed air can then be used to drive a motor by way of a high speed compressed air turbine, and the low speed of the turbine and the need for storage would be overcome in one set of technology.

It was this that some partners and I several years ago were proposing and developing at my old Irvington Design website (now for the time being a project abandoned) but which drew essentially no interest from banks, investors or alternative energy funders, who now see the modern high speed, high altitude three blade lift type windmill as the only path forward. But there are vast areas of the U.S. and the world that I believe could make use of a lower slower, effectively "dumber" and cheaper wind turbine, a turbine that can produce torque at relatively low and varient wind speed, and is self governing in higher speeds so that the turbine would not be destroyed in storms (within certain limits of course!) but would produce power right up to the limits of its speed (the speed of the wind). The Savonius could be an excellent farm scale wind turbine for example, or a great water pumper in many poor areas of the world.

Who knows, the time may come when such an option is re-explored. There have been some nasty scams, so much so that all vertical axis turbines have been thrown into the same basket and declared scams in some cases:

And of course, these arguments are true, that no drag type wind turbine can ever be as efficient as lift types per amount of windspeed. But what is not mentioned is the torgue factor. It may be possible for a vertical axis type/drag type wind turbine to be as efficient as a horizontal lift type per dollar spent, which is what matters to the consumer...there is plenty of wind to waste. A square rigged sailing ship or a Chinese junk can never be as efficient as a modern high speed sailing yacht per amount of wind, but it was plenty efficient enough to accomplish its task.

For now, however, there are easier ways to make money than to try to re-explore wind energy options, and due to the advances in solar and geo-thermal, wind faces political problems of local resistance that only add to the difficulty of making wind profitable in more than a few carefully selected sites, sites hand picked to work with big high speed wind turbines.

Still it is fun to consider paths not taken:




More importantly, if you have a direct drive application like pumping water a Savonius pattern wind turbine is easier to build and service than a conventional lift type wind turbine. In some applications you can even get away with *no gears*.

Perhaps this is a good time to remind people about the Betz Limit for Wind Energy Conversion systems. Betz pointed out that there is a maximum amount of energy which may be recovered from that available in a free flowing air stream. For a propeller type device, that limit is 59 percent. then too, only a fraction of that available energy may be captured by the wind turbine and that fraction tends to be another function of wind speed. One can design a wind turbine for optimal efficiency at a specific wind speed and shaft rotation rate, but other combinations of wind speed and rotation rate won't be as efficient.

I've looked at the Savonius wind turbines myself, since they are relatively low cost in small sizes. Since they are drag turbines, their conversion efficiency is rather low, perhaps 10%. Also, as the size increases, the materials required increases faster than the available energy in the wind, since they are 3 dimensional and the source is 2 dimensional. As a result, they are not useful for any purpose except for small scale, local power supply. I do think they can be useful in situations which you mention, even though they can never be more than a drop in the bucket (pun intended) compared with the larger systems. I have even considered building one for my ridge top site, given that my energy requirements are only a few kilowatt hours a day...

E. Swanson

E. Swanson,

You are exactly correct, if it is wind power to be produced on a megawatt scale, drag type wind turbines simply will not do the job (it is like asking a Chinese junk type sailing ship to go as fast as a modern America's Cup yacht. The fast 3 blade large windmills are a very efficient device as wind turbines go, and hard to beat. I am working more in the area of distributed power, more smaller distributed plants, and as you said, easily built and easily servicable, and with the power being used very close to home.


One minor, but important correction here. The tips of the blades generally move through the air at a fairly constant ratio to the wind speed, called the tip speed ration. optimum is usually 5 to 1, at more than 10:1 you get lots of noise.
As the diameter gets larger, the turbine turns at lower rpm to maintain the tip speed ratio. Look at a wind farm with different sized turbines and you will see this.
The blade tips never get close to being supersonic.

At higher windspeeds, the three blade turbine is still producing full power, but it dumps some of the available energy (i.e. it makes it self less efficient). The only reason they stop is an automatic shut down to prevent self destruction.

Even a Savonius will self destruct at high enough windspeeds.

Norway, after almost two weeks delay, finally published their production numbers for February along with their preliminary production figures for March. Norwegian Production Figures February production numbers were 2,038,000 barrels per day of Crude + Condensate. That was down 22 kb/d from January and down 222 kb/d from February of 2009.

Preliminary production figures for March were 1,991,000 barrels per day of C+C. That was down 47 kb/d from February and a declind of 247 kb/d from March of 2009. That is a decline of 9.82% February to February and a (preliminary) decline of 11.04% March to March.

Since Norway peaked in 2001 with a yearly average of 3,226,000 barrels per day they have logged only six months with less than 2 million barrels per day of C+C. Five of those six months have been in the last 11 months if those March preliminary figures hold.

Norway C+C production has declined about 37 percent since peaking in 2001. Great Britain has declined just over 50 percent since they peaked in 1999. The North Sea as a whole has declined about 41 percent since peaking in 1999, using the average production for 2009.

North Sea C+C bp/d
1999 5,948,000
2009 3,526,000

Ron P

Furthermore- Statoil To Carry Out Turnarounds On 13 Platforms In 2010

These operations will cut about 300 000 b/d over a few summer-months,. reported in Norwegian media the other day

Energy Histories -- North Sea

Here is the North Sea oil story told briefly in pictures from the Energy Export Databrowser:

(Note: different vertical scaling in each plot)

The North Sea is a source of both oil and natural gas but only the UK, Norway and Denmark produce significant amounts of North Sea oil.

The Norwegian story is one of very low and very constant consumption against a production profile that is the closest thing to a Hubbert curve we may ever see at the national level. Norway is currently an oil exporter and will remain one for some time.

The British consumption profile has many interesting features including obvious responses to the 1973 oil crisis, the 1980 Iran-Iraq war and the 1984 coal miner's strike. On the production side the bactrian shape of the peak is due in large part to the 1988 Piper Alpha disaster which immediately reduced UK production and ushered in an era of stricter oilfield safety regulations in the UK. Without that disaster, the UK might have had a much more 'Hubbert-like' production profile. The UK is currently an oil importer.

The Danish consumption profile went through some serious upheaval in the 1970's as that nation used oil for fully 90% of their energy needs at the time of the 1973 oil crisis. (See my earlier review of Denmark's energy history.) Production in Denmark, like in Norway, follows a pretty clean Hubbert style production profile. Denmark is currently a small oil exporter but is likely to switch to importing oil in the next few years. (See Denmark a net exporter of energy until 2012.)

In the plot on the bottom right we see all three of these nations summed together for the complete picture. (This plot also includes the data for the Netherlands which has rising oil consumption but no oil production.)

There are plenty of interesting stories embedded in the historical data. It is only when the data go back far enough (pre-1973) and all the data are presented together like this that we can begin to tell the stories of how we got to where we are and how societies have previously reacted to changes in the availability and price of energy resources. History has much to tell us!

Happy Exploring!

-- Jon

Any thoughts on when 2009 data will become available from BP? June?

Yes. Sometime in June. I'm hoping to be here when they release it so that I can update the databrowser quickly but I have back to back trips at the end of Jun/ beginning of July so the update may not happen until late July.

I have a question regarding the rig fire (and oil spills in general)...

If oil is released into the water I would assume that as soon as the area is safe there would be some attempt at spill control such as booming in the area covered by the oil. My question is - is there typically an attempt to recover that oil (is this even feasible) or is it just monitored and allowed to dissipate over time ?

I've always been curious as to what happens when there are significant releases of oil on open water and what methods are employed to "control" the potential impacts.



Cat -- The feds have very specific regs on oil spill clean ups. Essentially all viable and safe methods to recover oil from the water must be attempted regardless of cost. It's a very organized effort. There are groups, like Clean Gulf, that are specifically designed to handle incidents like the one were watching unfold. All companies operating in the OCS contribute financially to these organizations. Think in terms of a group insurance policy. There are hundreds of millions of $'s of equipment scattered across the GOM that are deployed at times like this. About 15 years ago when I was operating in the GOM each company had to maintain staff capability to react to such spills. Now operators subscribe to one of several companies that provide this service. A much better approach IMHO. Kind of like the distinction between a group neighborhood voluntary firemen vs. a full time professional firefighting unit. Additionally the cleaners are empowered to commandeer any equipment and vessels they deem necessary to handle the problem. About 15 years ago I had a very small spill (an empty oil storage tank blew up) off La. and couldn't find a workboat that wasn't under contract. So I was able to take one from BP, (coincidentally) and use it for this little job that took only a few days. I did hang on to the boat another couple of weeks to work on some other projects (remember I said there were no boats available). Eventually BP began complaining since they knew our spill wasn't that big so I had to give them the boat back.

Thanks Rockman - I had always wondered about the protocols for open water spill containment (I'm familiar with spills response etc. on land since I work in the enviro field).

Is the oil that is recovered from the water able to be put back in the system as if nothing happened or does it have to "re-purposed" due to exposure during its "time at sea" ?

Had you kept the boat from BP a bit longer would you have been identified as a pirate :)


Let's just say I avoided BP folks a social events for a while after that. The oil will be recycled. You're probably more familiar with that aspect.

And now to make a sad note even more personal: I just had a visit from one on my subcontractors on this Texas well site. He just buried his son killed three weeks ago in an auto accident. I was trying to keep him busy to get his mind off of that heartache. Just found out his nephew is one of the missing hands on the BP blow out. So in addition to handling his son's estate now he has to help his family deal with the new situation. So I told him to leave the drill site. To dangerous to be here in the state of mind he must be in. Told him to go take of his family. And not to worry about missing a payday on this job...we'll make it up to him.

And I woke up in such a good mood this morning. Not too difficult to cope with such sad events until you put a real face on it. Such is life.

Well it's sunk now. What a mess.

Some close-up video of the fire at CNN link below.

CNN: Burning oil rig sinks in Gulf of Mexico

Crude oil was leaking from the rig at the rate of about 8,000 barrels per day, Coast Guard Petty Officer Ashley Butler said. The Coast Guard also is preparing for possible leaks of up to 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel but can do little to protect the environment until the fire is out, Butler said.

There almost seemed to be two trends in reporting this, optimistic vs. pessimistic. 11 missing crew found vs. all 11 still missing presumed dead. Rig tilted by 10 degrees and in no danger of sinking vs. 70 degrees and (now) sunk. Sinking to where is the question; if to the bottom (a mile down), then what?

8000 barrels per day from the well will equal the total diesel on board in 2 days. A mess is right. And a tragedy.

Here's a crop of an image from GOES 13 - via NOAA showing the smoke plume from space.

Click to open full size image (610K 1,280px × 1,024px) in new window

A coast-guard spokesman on CNN used the phrase "fog of war" when asked about some of the earlier over optimistic reports.

For those curious about what the ocean floor looks like there (using Google Earth). The depth matches that reported.

Latitude: 28.748513°
Longitude: -88.369180°

Joules -- In 5,000' water depth it's a safe bet the rig is gone for sure. Even securing any remaining fuel on board is very unlikely though most of the diesel would have burned if the tanks had ruptured.

Kinda of an odd comment from one of the hands on board. Said they only had a 5 minute warning. Conditions can get that bad that fast but usually you know for hours when the situation is getting daangerous. One of my handsa just told he ehard they had run casing in the well and were in the process of pumping cement. If this is accurate it's an even bigger puzzel as to how they lost control. I would bet it's many months before we get an official explanation.

Now that the rig is no longer there where is the oil emerging? If it's deep down how do you mop up that as surely it will come up over a very wide area?

Sample of images from the rig going down at http://gcaptain.com/forum/professional-mariner-forum/4805-transocean-dee...

Higher resolution images available at the link above.

Good point tow. This might be an unprecedented event at least in US waters. We don’t know yet where the riser (the metal tube connecting the sea floor well head to the surface) is broken. If it did a disconnect near the BOP stack then the oil may be released 5,000’ below the surface. Normally in a spill the surface conditions determine how difficult oil recovery will be: the rougher the seas the worse the process and the spill could become very wide spread. In this case the oil could become very wide spread long before it reaches the surface due to the deep GOM current (The Loop Current). Obviously when the oil remains amassed over a small area the clean up is much more efficient. This may be far from the situation here. But that’s good news/bad news: a wide spread slick is much more difficult to recover but it also does less immediate damage. There are millions of gallons of oil leaking naturally to the water column across the OCS. I’ve seen films of live oil seeps on the floor of the GOM. I also saw a report by the state of CA a while back that estimated 175,000 bbls of oil per year leaked naturally from the floor of the Santa Barbara Channel. Like most toxic substances it’s the concentration that tends to be more critical then just its presence alone.

Also that middle pic explains the reported 70 degree list. That didn't make sense. The pic makes it cleaqr that the pontoons on one side had been breached and the rig was floating on its side. Eventually the other pontoons flooded and she sank.


But the National Ocean Service's Office of Response and Restoration, which deals with oil spills, said it believes "crude oil and natural gas are being released uncontrolled from the riser pipe of the well," adding that "three attempts to shut-in the well have been unsuccessful."

The WSJ gives the following explanation in Missing Workers Feared Dead as Gulf Rig Sinks

Transocean officials said workers had recently finished installing a steel production pipe into the well. The pipe also had been cementing the well in place by filling up the open area between the pipe and well walls.

This should have prevented oil or gas from moving up the well, said Robert MacKenzie, managing director of energy and natural resources at FBR Capital Markets and a former cementing engineer in the oil industry.

"A blowout after you set your final casing and cement, I've never heard of that," he said. "I cannot recall anything even remotely close to this, in terms of magnitude and scale. This is something that is exceedingly rare."

There are gauges and alarms to alert workers on the rig to a pressure build, allowing them to pour a heavy liquid called drilling mud into the well to weigh down the oil and gas. There are also blowout prevention devices on the seabed to automatically sever the pipe and seal the well.

Sounds strange. I wonder if we will hear other reports later.

Coastguard Petty Officer Katherine McNamara told Associated Press the submerged well could potentially be releasing 8,000 barrels (300,000 gallons) of crude oil per day.
Rear Adm Mary Landry said crews saw an area measuring one mile by five miles (1.5km by 8km) of what appeared to be oil on the surface of the water.
The environmental damage would be worst if a spill were to reach the Louisiana shore, 50 miles away.

More than a little strange Gail. In 35 years I’ve never heard of such a circumstance. If it really did come in after pipe was run and they were pumping cement this might truly qualify as a Black Swan. I’ve seen quite a few cement jobs go bad but with just the opposite effect: it damages the ability of the reservoir to flow. I’m on well tonight in Texas and have polled all my hands and no one has ever even heard of this happening let alone being involved directly. I even offered the mental challenge to them: if you wanted to intentionally make a well blow out at this point how would you do it? No answers yet. It’s way beyond strange….Twilight Zone IMHO.

Oh yes…lots of investigations, hearings and publicly available reports. Everyone testifies under oath and in the open. Ever scrap of data is available to the gov’t and thus also the public.

My dad who has worked Oil fields in his youth said one thing that I dare say I hope it is not. Someone made it happen for a reason.

But the reports and studies and media will not let us forget it anytime soon.

Ask your folks Rockman if they could make it happen to look like an accident.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future.

I am actually surprised that some "terrorists" aren't claiming responsibility even if they had nothing to do with it.

The Coast Guard this morning, on ABC, said that there is no evidence of leaking oil at the wellhead.

WT -- I suppose the big questions now are where is the end of the riser from which the oil is flowing and is it coming out of the casing or annulus or both. Given the water depth and flow rate it's difficult to imagine they'll get control of it at the well head. I would think they're already in the process of mobilizing a rig to drill a relief well. A few years ago I would have been trying to get the steering job. But my old knees are so broke down now they wouldn't let me on an OCS rig. Jobs like that require the ability to run fast and tread water.

There you go...got your dose of dark humor for the day.

At the press conference yesterday (via Houston Chronicle)

Rear Adm. Mary Landry (Commander 8th Coast Guard District): "We did not say there is nothing coming out, we said we can't see it."

However this morning: "I am saying that there's no crude oil at this time leaking from the crude head or riser adjacent to it," Rear Admiral Mary Landry told CNN.


Oil has stopped flowing from Transocean well

The flow of oil appears to have stopped from the undersea well connected to the sunken Transocean Horizon drilling rig, according to a Coast Guard spokesman.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Mike O'Berry said remote controlled submarines have been unable to shut the valves on equipment at the wellhead on the sea floor, but it appears the flow of oil from subsurface reservoirs has stopped on its own.

"This could just be temporary, so we're not letting our guard down," O'Berry said.

Why would it stop flowing "on its own"?

Pressure shift allowing whatever part was jammed to move into place properly (finally)?

Having worked as a mechanic in a past career I could see that happening, however unlikely it might be.

CEO -- We’ve been running that mental exercise all night. No one came up with a logical way to make it happen even if you weren’t trying to make it look like an accident. Checking over the news reports again they do say the cement had already been pumped. Not that all cement jobs are perfect and you can have channels in it especially when there’s hydrocarbons under pressure. Oil/NG can contaminate the cement and make it less effective. But even then you have to make a significant effort to see the pressure anomaly. My best guess now is that what we’re hearing isn’t accurate at some level. It’s going to be quit a few months before we see an official report.

The pressures in the well bore are monitored by redundant systems. Another indicator is mud volume: when a well starts coming in it will push the mud out of the hole. The mud tanks are monitored electronically and visually. Unfortunately all these systems require someone paying attention. The majority of blow outs result from human error and not mechanical failure. And the most common answer as to why someone let a well get away from them: “I was waiting to see what was going to happen.”

How it happened will be dropped from the MSM conversation for now. Controlling the subsea well head and recovering the spill will consume the news cycle. Getting a little ahead of ourselves but it’s report that they tried 3 times to function the control valves on the sea floor with the ROV. Typically if the effort doesn’t work the first time it never will. Best case scenario in situations like this is for the well to bridge over…the well bore collapses and seals off the well. But there’s casing in the hole so I think bridging over is very unlikely. Maybe just the opposite: the area outside of the casing is being washed out even worse. Good chance the only solution will be to drill a relief well. A complex effort itself. Set another rig up a few thousands feet away, drill a directional hole and steer it to hit a the original well bore (probably less the a 12” diameter) thousands, if not 10’s of thousands of feet away. It can be done but takes time. Could take a month… could take 6 months. And when they do intersect the old well bore the first goal is to not blow up the relief rig. Eventually they’ll pump heavy “kill” mud. And if that works there’s till a long way to go. They’ll need to put a rig back onto the original hole and re-enter what’s left and plug and abandone it as per MMS specs.

Rockman and/or any others who might know:
With respect to the rig explosion:

Was it a Nitrogen foam cement job?
Were there problems during the cement displacement such that they attempted to shut in?

If there was an attempt to shut in, was it frustrated by inability to "space-out" correctly (due , say, to a stuck string), so they were not attempting (unsuccessfully) to shut the casing rams in on a casing tool-joint?

Total wild-assed (and probably misdirected) speculation on my part (on the basis of bugger-all facts-even rigzone didn't have a lot to say about it) now follows:

If it was a foam job, and sufficient hydrostatic pressure reduction occured during the displacement (via upward nitrogen escape), there could have been oil and gas influx.

Volume tracking on conventional cement jobs is difficult enough due to u-tubing induced initial "runaways" (producing excessive initial returns) followed by below-normal returns due to a "catch up" as the cement "turns the corner". With a foam job, comparison of actual versus expected returns during the job is even trickier. Hence an influx might not be obvious until the gas phase is well up the riser, with its attendant expansion only at a late stage (the five minutes mentioned in reports) producing sufficient excess return flow to ring the alarm bells.

5000' of riser is deep enough that gas at the bottom end just above the (presumably sea-floor) BOP stack would be still well-compressed and not necessarily show out above the general volumetric noise associated with cement jobs. If the sea-floor BOP stack could not shut in properly, then oil & gas would continue to flow.

If the rig (either through their own systems, or through the mudloggers) were sending real-time surface data to town, the sequence of events and causes thereof should be determinable. If not, then the last few hours prior to the explosion will likely remain somewhat opaque.

If any one learns more, please share.

All good questions Gordon but I suspect it will be at least 6 months before we start hearing even small parts of the story. But eventually it will all be out in the open.

Brings back memories of Piper Alpha and the arrogant bastards at Occidental.

Here's praying for the lost men and their families.

Yes, this thing is bad from all angles. Probable loss of life. Loss of a significant economic asset. Probably a nasty oil spill. And, just when we thought we might get some new offshore territory opened up, if this spill looks bad on the evening news then you can foget about that.

Bad Science above

There are so many things wrong with this line of thinking, its hard to know where to start. DDT isn't the only insecticide that works on mosquitoes and insecticide is not the only weapon against malaria. In fact insecticides lead to resistant bugs just like roundup ready soybeans leads to greater use of roundup resulting in roundup ready weeds, rinse, repeat.

Rachel Carson follows Aldo Leopold as a leader in the effort to argue for moral consideration of nature as, at least, (1) something of value beyond nature's utility to humans and (2) a bio-physical system that humans are actually a part of.

Take a walk in the woods (desert, prairie, marsh, park), sit down, look, listen, smell, touch and reflect.

Happy Earth Day!

Sterling, you are exactly correct. The attempt to smear Rachel Carson is just that, a right wing smear campaign. DDT is likely the most toxic chemical ever to be mass marketed as a pesticide.

History of the Bald Eagle

Pesticides sprayed on plants were eaten by small animals, which were later consumed by birds of prey. The DDT poison harmed both the adult birds and the eggs that they laid. The egg shells became too thin to with stand the incubation period, and were often crushed. Eggs that were not crushed during incubation often did not hatch, due to high levels of DDT and its derivatives. Large quantities of DDT were discovered in the fatty tissues and gonads of dead bald eagles, which may have caused them to become infertile.

As I have often stated before, the choice is seldom, if ever, between good and evil. The choice is almost always between the greater evil and the lesser evil. DDT did kill mosquitoes and helped control malaria. But if the widespread use of DDT had continued, and grown, it would not only have caused the extinction of bald eagles but likely almost every other bird in the world. That would have, in turn, led to the extinction of many other animals and would have had a devastating effect on human beings.

Ron P.

"As I have often stated before, the choice is seldom, if ever, between good and evil. The choice is almost always between the greater evil and the lesser evil."

Yes, and in the case of DDT it was an early, and correct IMHO, recognition of intrinsic value in nature.

And don't forget to allow for the likelihood that reduced bird populations would result in an explosion in insect populations, as some birds are major insectivores. It is all connected.

We have the example of Chairman Mao and his campaign to get rid of sparrows:


Chairman Mao was not the world’s finest naturalist. But he was a man of action. Thinking that four kinds of pests were hindering his “Great Leap Forward” he decided to eradicate them all. Rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows all had to go. Sparrows earned Mao’s enmity because they eat grain and grain seeds and so, Mao thought, disrupted Chinese agriculture. He declared war on sparrows. Literally. He said: "Here is the method — we make our resolution, we coordinate our actions, we divide our tasks, we cut off the food supply, we set up a trap and we continue our battle of destruction."

Nobody knows how many sparrows died but the number was in the millions.

Initially, the harvests improved, but too many sparrows were killed. Not enough survived to keep the locusts and grasshoppers in ecological balance. The insects devoured Chinese crops. In the resulting famine more than 35,000,000 people died of starvation.

Ironically, the Bird Nest stadium replaced Mao on the 10 yuan note for the Olympics.

Sparrows are an urban pest: endlessly noisy swarms that stay in the same vicinity. Try to get some sleep if they settle in around your house, these "insects" start the racket at the crack of dawn. There is nothing wrong in getting rid of this infestation and it has nothing to do with the destruction of nature. I always found this particular story about the excesses of Chinese communism to be absurdly irrelevant given the other serious cases.

You could always wear ear plugs. I have had to wear them when I slept in the daytime to block out human noises.

I stay up almost all night most nights, and I know what time it is when I hear the birds wake up.

Killing the birds might be your solution, while they might think killing humans is their solution, though I doubt they would go so far into the Hitchcock world as that.

You might set up a feeder away from your house/home windows, say in an empty area a few steps away to limit them in your window area. One thing you are seeing is the lack of sparrow eating birds.

We go about breaking to many chain links then we complain, or suffer because of it, stop breaking the links, restore the balance and you might stop suffering.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future.

As I have often stated before, the choice is seldom, if ever, between good and evil. The choice is almost always between the greater evil and the lesser evil. DDT did kill mosquitoes and helped control malaria.

That's true, but you're understating the case.

You missed the part about DDT's saving millions of lives.

Bruce Ames, inventor of the Ames Test for mutagens in compounds, is one of my favorite authorities on chemicals:

DDT is often viewed as the typically dangerous synthetic pesticide because it concentrates in adipose tissues and persists for years. DDT, the first synthetic pesticide, eradicated malaria from many parts of the world, including the USA. It was effective against many vectors of disease such as mosquitoes, tsetse flies, lice, ticks, and fleas and against many crop pests, significantly increasing the supply and lowering the cost of food, making fresh, nutritious foods more accessible to poor people. DDT was also of low toxicity to humans. DDT prevented many millions of deaths due to malaria.

If we are going to continue to reproduce, then this is what we get for it.

The attempt to smear Rachel Carson is just that, a right wing smear campaign.

And they got what she did backwards. She wasn't against DDT to control malaria, she was against its widespread use for agriculture, warning that that use would breed resistance and make it useless against malaria. There was big money to make made short term selling it to farmers, so the caution be damned.. But these types don't care about truth, only emotional propaganda......

Before we go too wild on this, I trust everyone knows we still use some 5000 tons of DDT yearly -- mostly in indoor residual spraying in malaria prone countries.

Yup. Speaking as someone who has had malaria more times than I care to remember and on more than one occasion been literally minutes from death, anything which kills the damn squites is a friend of mine.

Anyone who hasn't had a severe dose of malaria doesn't get a say in this debate imho. Malaria is the single most nasty disease. And the cure is even more hideous, especially when one has amoebic disentry at the same time.

And the cure is even more hideous, especially when one has amoebic disentry at the same time.

oh yeah been there too, weak as a baby, weaker actually ,uncontrollable shaking, high fever, and the other fun stuff

Great for weight loss. It never really leaves your system IIRC.

enemy of state correctly states,
"And they got what she did backwards. She wasn't against DDT to control malaria, she was against its widespread use for agriculture, warning that that use would breed resistance and make it useless against malaria"

Exactly. Carson NEVER endorsed a full ban on chemical use in agriculture or to control pests...her call was for a sane and controlled use of the chemicals.

I read a dusty library copy of her book when I was in my teens and she was hard to demonize because she was so blessed with common sense, inteligence, restraint and moderation.

I saw first hand what she was describing in my small town surrounded by farms...after surrounding crops were sprayed from the air, you could go out and pick up dead birds (we're not talking eagles, but small birds regarded by locals as "expendable" and of no great loss). For a kid who cried when he accidently hit a bird with a BB gun shot (I didn't think I could hit the large side of a barn!) it was very sad.

I have heard the old farmers say "if some will do good then more will do better" about pesticides, and up the recommended usage above what even the chemical company recommended...and that level was already higher than needed due to greater usage per acre meaning greater sales...in the late 1960's before controls, it was being sprayed about like you would water a lawn.

Carson's book was so important, so brave to write (she had to know the attack she would face from the chemical industry was coming and it would be fierce).

For a bookish teenager, she was easy to idolize, the perfect intelligent and brave woman. Admittedly, I think many little geeky teenaged boys who admired brainy women had something of a crush on our idealized image of her, especially once we saw some of the flattering photos of a young Rachel Carson in magazines...even though she had passed away a decade before I read her book, she was the icon of what a smart and couragous woman should be. Her looks did not go uncomplimented in a back handed way, former Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson in a letter to Dwight D. Eisenhower reportedly concluded that because she was unmarried despite being physically attractive, she was "probably a Communist"
(Bensen was apparenly unaware of Carson's enigmatic and long relationship with Dorothy Freeman, which had he been aware of would have probably inspired what would have been a different line of personal attack)

Sadly Carson lived to only 56 years of age, felled by such a common killer of women, breast cancer. Most people know her by her one book "Silent Spring" even though she spent her adult life writing, books, articles, and promotional material for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. We can only hope for her the eternal sleep of sweet dreams captured in the lines by Keats she and her dear soulmate Dorothy Freeman loved so much:

A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams.

We should take a moment on this period of Earth Day to remember our saint of the Earth and sea, Rachel Carson.

Roger Conner

And let's not forget that Rachel Carson never advocated for a blanket ban on DDT. She only advocated that it be used only on malarial swamps and not for agricultural purposes.

...no studies have ever been able to show that environmental exposure to DDT — even in large quantities — harms human health. It is less dangerous to humans than any number of natural chemicals, including some vitamins

sarah palin should fortify her gmo corn flakes with the stuff to demonstrate the safety of ddt.

(i expect to hear from some angry corn flakes)

DDT = polio

As Isaiah Berlin tells us, the most difficult choices facing us are those between competing goods.

The choice to ban the agricultural use of DDT, which was the problem identified by Rachel Carson, was not a difficult moral decision, given the overwhelming evidence of the harm DDT was inflicting in natural eco-systems, and given the development of alternative pesticides. As usual, it took a number of years to overcome the political resistance of those with vested interests in the indiscrimate use of DDT.

The difficult decision is the choice between one good, the use of DDT for the containment of malaria, given the absence of affordable and effective alternatives to DDT, and ending the use of malaria, which is an environmental good. The World Health Organization and many environmental organizations have made the choice in favour of the restrictive use of DDT for malaria containment.

Anti-environmental screed from USA Today on Earth Day, nice.

Google Scholar search: 'DDT insecticide'

EPA search for DDT

NPIC factsheet on DDT [pdf]

The key line in the PDF above:

DDT was initially used by the military in WW II to control malaria, typhus, body lice, and bubonic plague (1). Cases of malaria fell from 400,000 in 1946 to virtually none in 1950.

You'd think USA Today has editors that know what the verb "google" means. Good links!

This "debate" sounds remarkably like what is happening today with antibiotics: Something that is immensely good when used intelligently but causes more harm that good when it enters the "free market".

Kill the bats, kill the fish, kill the plants, and all you get is more bugs.

There are several fish species that eat bug larva found in waterways. You can put Betta splendens and other Betta species in small ponds and pools in the same places that mosquitoes breed.

We as a species thought we were in control and we started breaking the chain links that bound us all into a web that we knew little about. Now we are stuck trying to fix the system with techno fixes only to be reminded again and again that the simplest solution is to stop breaking the system, and learn to restore it and live within it.

We have been off again and on again breaking and trying to fix the natural world for much of our recorded history. Hopefully the smarter we become the better we understand that we are part of the whole system and can really get by living within it, and not trying to fix something that was not broken to begin with in the first place.

It is not something new for me, I have understood most of this for so long I rightly don't remember when I first realized it, but it was before I was a teenager, so that is over 35 years ago.

Best hopes for those that are left in 100 years understanding that they have to live in harmony with nature.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future.

"It blew out and we had like zero time," says survivor

Stanley Murray was reunited at the hotel with his son, Chad Murray, 34, the rig's chief electrician.

Stanley Murray said his son told him workers had less than five minutes to get off the rig.

"My son had just walked off the drill floor," Murray said. "He said if he'd been there five minutes later he would've been dead."

About a half hour before dawn, the Murray family tearfully embraced members their neighbor's family outside the hotel lobby. Murray said his neighbor's son was still missing and hope had faded that he'd be found alive.

He said his son told him he didn't think any of the missing could have survived.

"The 11 that's missing, they won't find 'em," Murray said. "They're burned up."

Saudis see demand peak looming

The word "peak demand" is sure becoming popular. Is this just an attempt of relegating peak oil to the dust bin, or is it just another way admitting that peak oil is real without losing face?

I would say the latter...since projections were for continued growth in oil production through 2030 and beyond (just a few years ago from these guys).

Peak demand is the point at which prices have risen to a point beyond the capacity of the world economy to profitably absorb the consumption of an additional barrel of oil.
Of course, price rises when supply cannot meet demand at the previous price.

The Saudis are clearly anticipating a run-up in prices.

Anyway, their implicit claim is that additional supply would result in an excess of oil, oil that cannot be sold at current prices. However, if supply were increased, prices would go down until demand was sufficient to clear the market. There is probably a limit to demand regardless of supply or price but I seriously doubt if we have reached that point. Try as I might, I still think the Saudi's view of peak demand in nonsensical.

Implicit at any level of demand is that additional oil cannot be used profitably at the then current price. So, in that sense, we are always at or near peak demand.

I believe that the Saudis first started complaining, at least in recent years, about weak demand for the oil, "Even their light/sweet oil," early in 2006. Rampant weak demand forced US annual oil prices up from $57 in 2005 to $100 in 2008, as the cumulative shortfall in Saudi net oil exports in the 2006-2008 time frame inclusive hit 841 mb (EIA), relative to what they would have net exported at their 2005 net export rate of 9.1 mbpd.

Incidentally, the volume of Saudi oil that was not exported, due to "weak demand" in the 2006-2008 time frame inclusive, 841 mb, exceeds the volume of oil in the US SPR.

If and when oil prices hit $200, I fully expect the Saudis to still be complaining about "weak demand" for their oil, "Even their light/sweet oil."

The word "peak demand" is sure becoming popular. Is this just an attempt of relegating peak oil to the dust bin, or is it just another way admitting that peak oil is real without losing face?

It's a way of admitting that peak plateau oil production has permanently increased prices, causing continuous recession, leading to peak demand.

They are avoiding the term peak oil, which they discounted on numerous occasions and would be hugely embarrassed by now if they admitted that term, so they opt for the result of peak oil production, which is peak demand. In other words, they can't handle the 'cause', so they talk about the 'effect'.

.. they can't handle the 'cause', so they talk about the 'effect'.

What you're saying makes a lot sense. The Saudis are in essence cryptically admitting that peak oil is real. Matt Simmons has thus been proven correct.

Just a reference to my comment the discussion yesterday about education that had been bugging me. The law I forgot the name of is Goodhart's law:


Mish has an update on what I have described as a developing virtual civil war between current and retired government workers on side and taxpayers on the other side:


The Ace of Spades blog commented on the rally in "Raise My Taxes! Raise My Taxes! Raise My Taxes!"

"So chanted thousands of bused-in ACFSME union "grassroots" agitators to Illinois state congressmen, urging them to "raise [our] taxes!" so that their salaries and benefits wouldn't be cut.

The rest of the public is finally starting to notice that, and that the public -- 20% of whom are out of a job or working part-time when they want a full-time job -- is basically paying their employees more than they themselves receive in salary, and with far better benefits and job-security, too. People are finally starting to understand that they are, ultimately, the boss, and all these 4%-per-year raises and ridiculously huge pension plans are coming out of their own hide."

Here is a discussion from the Federal Reserve of Chicago that looks at some of the issues surrounding public vs private sector compensation. http://www.docstoc.com/docs/7191103/Public-Vs-Private-Sector-Compensation

Mr. Mish and his pals are engaged in an old campaign to convince the public that government is 'the beast' and that the beast should be starved. The comments you cite are a typical attempt to 'frame the debate.' So public employees are presented as barely rational, unduly rewarded and endlessly greedy.

More than thirty years of anti-union and anti-government measures have resulted in the increased capture of wealth by a small minority of the already wealthy, which is the inherent tendency of capitalism. And surprise, surprise, the country is in a financial mess.

The demonstration was held to show support for a bill, HB 174, already passed by the Illinois Senate and before the House of Representatives. From a distance it looks like a very reasonable measure to slightly redress public policy errors of the past decades.

Unless of course, you're among those that believe that ordinary people should be punished on the way to a happy afterlife.

Here is some information from the public employees union:

Key provisions of HB 174:
 Individual Income Tax Rate Increases from 3% to 5%
 Corporate Income Tax Rate Increases from 4.8% to 5%
 Sales Tax Expanded to a Limited Number of Services – expands the state
sales tax base to include 39 different consumer services that previously were
untaxed, such as travel agent services and scenic & sightseeing transportation.
All of these services are commonly taxed in many states and already taxed by
one or more of our neighboring states. (See attached list)
 Doubles the property tax credit homeowners now claim on their Illinois tax
return, from the current 5% of property taxes, to 10%.
 Increases the current $2,000 personal exemption for Illinois income taxes to
 Triples the amount of the earned income tax credit (EITC) to low-income
earners, from 5% to 15% of the federal EITC they claim.
 Provides dedicated revenue to public education.
 Provides an estimated $541 million to Illinois cities and counties in FY 2010
through the Local Government Distributive Fund. This amount increases to
$691 million in FY 2011.


Are you Greek?
You are showing good solidarity with the downtrodden Greek workers against the greedy bankers and capitalists over there.

In fact, I would quote Dick Cheney, who said very clearly, "Deficits don't matter"

Anglo-German Canadian with a healthy dose of Norman Irish and a strain of high steppe hun to explain my good looks.

Capitalist economies can no more go without deficits, than a tree can go without water. That's what Keynes observed. Sadly, the American establishment adopted what is variously called bastard Keynesianism or military Keynesianism. Nixon, Reagan, Bush all engaged in deficit financing in order to pull the American economy back from the precipice. In Canada, so-called fiscal conservatives have given the country its largest deficits in recent years. Deficit financing is not, of course, restricted to hypocritical fiscal conservatives.

Cheney meant, I believe, that the size of the deficit doesn't matter. Not too many people, including me, agrees with him.

The questions are: when do we tackle deficits and how is the burden shared. These questions need to be answered with a view to the public interest, now and overtime.

Here is a valuable discussion of four streams of analysis of the current financial crisis published in Monthly Review, an intelligent marxist magazine. The author is not a marxist, but in his own description, a 'structural Keynesian'. Obviously, he prefers his own interpretation, but does a good job presenting the alternative viewpoints, including the viewpoint preferred by those often described as mainstream economists.

The Limits of Minsky’s Financial Instability Hypothesis as an Explanation of the Crisis http://monthlyreview.org/100401palley.php

Here is another article (April 2008) in Monthly Review which might be of interest to enquiring minds:

An Age of Transition - The United States, China, Peak OIl, and the Demise of Neoliberalism http://www.monthlyreview.org/080401li.php
by Minqi Li

The solution will be default upon debts. Programs will simply end up unfunded, public debt has simply grown far too much.

Keynes always advocated that Govt deficits should be cyclical, that is in an economic downturn deficits rise, then in in better times the Govt goes into surplus, paying them off. In this way the Govt spending stabilises overall spending, reducing the booms and reducing the busts, aiming for overall steady growth.

He also preferred (and history seems to have shown he was right) to have contineous low interest rates but control speculative booms through other means, such as regulation or taxes, or reserve controls over banks.

For example, to head off a housing bubble you can raise interest rates, but this is a very blunt instruement that harms other parts of the economy. Better to regulate that cash deposits have to be higher, a more targeted approach (or alternative an increased capital gains tax).

That prat Friedman advocated just using interest rates to control the economy, which one person decades ago said was "like trying to land a 747 while sitting on the tailplane and using a piece of string attached to a control in the cockpit".

From a distance it looks like a very reasonable measure to slightly redress public policy errors of the past decades.

I sometimes think that the leftists are in greater denial than the members of the CWP (Crazed Whiteperson Party).

IMO, efforts to generate significantly more revenue through higher taxes will largely futile. The bottom line is that we simply cannot afford our present level of government spending, whether it be local, regional or national, and this is true of most developed countries.

I would agree that 'we' cannot afford the current mix of government spending.

After my navy of revolutionary beavers slips up the Potomac, eats its way through the organic garden and plants the red flag on the White House, I will begin to implement my ten five-year plans for newly liberated Amerika. And, yes, new taxes are a part of the plan of plans, but so are spending re-allocations and cuts.

1. Give all Americans freedom at an affordable price: bicycle delivered BC Bud(c) at the cost of production, but with a VAT (value appreciated tax). Raise taxes on junk food at the same time. Recognizing that to give a man a fish is to give him smelly hands, but to give him a line works better, terminate the patents on BC Bud (c) and broadcast a little seed. Intellectual property rights are counter productive at any time and especially in times of needed, minimally restricted experimentation.

2. Replace all American 'beer' with real beer, but don't tell anybody. At the same time, change the highway traffic laws to allow for the seizure and sale of all property of dead drunk drivers. (Temporarily redirect all doctors working on facelifts and liposuction to deal with the injured.)

3. With the mood set, and the number of motor vehicles and drivers significantly reduced, move on to infrastructure. Initiate the 'Roll up the roads' campaign. Stop all spending on new roads, and select 50 percent of existing road surface for the First-To-Go campaign. From this half of all road surfaces, select ten percent for a science lesson in the second law of thermodynamics. Select an additional ten percent for each five year plan. Rent out the entropically dispersed road surfaces to growers of useful plant or animal life. Don't forget people's spiritual needs and the special needs of shamans for psychotropic fungi or frogs. Rent revenues go to government.

4. With a salute to Ronnie Raygun fire all airline pilots under 50 years of age. Let attrition take care of the rest. No tax dollars or public employees at airports. Private security and pay as you go down only.

5. Put a spending cap on pencil purchases at the Pentagon. Stop all new weapons programs. Contract the military vehicle maintenance program to the Cubans.

I'd like to continue, but my supply of real beer is running low and it's just about time to watch the Pittsburgh team (captained by Canadian, Sid 'the kid' Crosby) run roughshod over the heroes of Canada's capital city (captained by the Swede, Alfredsson). Or maybe, just maybe, not.

efforts to generate significantly more revenue through higher taxes will largely futile. The bottom line is that we simply cannot afford our present level of government spending, whether it be local, regional or national, and this is true of most developed countries.

WT, I couldn't agree with you more on this. The higher the taxes, the greater lengths people to to to avoid them. In my area (coastal British Columbia) I can already see the increase in the "informal economy" as more and more people start doing things for cash or barter.

As for government spending, not only does government often find ineffective ways to spend money (i.e. not get good results) it has become even worse for overpaying and overpromising to its employees. AS income tax receipts drop, from lower earnings in the private sector, government salaries have not, so, of course, there is less money to pay them.. This has resulted in the ridiculous situation of schools closing for a day every two weeks because they cannot afford to pay their staff. Just give them all a 5% paycut, and keep the schools open.
But the defined benefit pension plans are the biggest evil of all - it has created a culture of entitlement, and these gov workers are not willing to give an inch. The government will soon spend as much on a person in retirement as they did on that same person in employment.

The new definition of the :"haves" and "have nots" will be those who have a government pension, and those who don't, (and have to pay for those who do). I think this may eclipse environment/peak oil to become the political issue of this decade, and the politician who can work out an amicable settlement ( i.e. rein in these bloated entitlements without dividing society) will be a legend.

I just don;t know if any of the current crop are up to the job.

In the private sector wages have been frozen or cut, matching contributions to pensions have been cut, bonuses have been abolished or cut, and other forms of compensation have been cut. Meanwhile, the public sector unions have contracts that give them big raises every year and early retirement. We are supposed to somehow think this is okay. Speaking as someone who is making a lot less this year than I made 2 years ago while working longer hours this is not okay.

The city of Los Angeles is paying 19% of tax revenues to retirees. The mayor was quoted in the LA Times saying complaining even though he used to be a union organizer. Things are so bad that politicians in LA are going on record saying they won't declare bankruptcy. Whether they can avoid it before world oil production goes into decline remains to be seen. But they do not see Peak Oil coming. Once the economy starts shrinking every year for years on end they will declare bankruptcy.

There's a take home lesson here: Municipal bonds are unsafe investments, especially in areas where public employees have really sweet retirement benefits packages.

I attended a presentation by Stoneleigh last night and she was of the opinion that this will be a more and more volatile situation and that these pension plans are pretty much guaranteed to go *poof*... there is simply no way the obligations can be met...

I agree, and as noted up the thread there are going to be lots of very angry people on both sides, as I said, virtually a civil war of sorts. The problem is with vastly underfunded pensions, which in many cases government entities are legally required to pay off on, and with things like debt service, taxpayers are probably going to see recurring attempts to raise taxes, combined with severe cutbacks in government services--as volatile combination, to say the least.

We are probably going to see lots of municipal bankruptcies and defaults by state governments.

westexas -

Though small potatoes compared to some of these other schemes to prop up falling state and local revenues, many jurisdictions are also in the process of squeezing a little extra out of the general public by doing such relatively petty things as increasing fines, licensing fees, and police quotas for issuing traffic violations.

In my view this is a big mistake, as it will only serve to push the anger level up a few notches for a stressed general public that is getting in an increasingly ugly mood. When we start seeing more and more people routinely not paying tickets, not showing up in traffic court, or driving with expired registration, or ignoring property taxes, it will be a small but telling sign that the social contract is starting to unravel.

Such things have a way of triggering an incident all out of proportion to the actual situation at hand. If I recall correctly, either the Watts or Detroit riots of the 1960s was ignited by an altercation involving a routine traffic violation.

Caveat: I have worked as a state government employee at a couple of points in my life.

There is generally more than one side to a story.

For the past few decades, taxpayers have demanded that the states provide an increasing range of high-quality services at bargain rates. Because the public sector was generally constrained to pay below-market wages, the only means available to bring in the necessary talent was to promise higher pay later (better pensions) and provide better benefits. All of it was done in plain sight; anyone who bothered to look could see that there was a potential that taxes were being time-shifted.

Less than a dozen years ago, the Cato Institute economists held up San Diego city and county as two examples of how astute fund managers could easily meet all of their future obligations and lower taxes at the same time. Many other public funds found themselves in a similar situation. And in many cases, government contributions and taxes were reduced. And now Cato and others of their ilk want to claim that the funds were insolvent all along so the promised benefits must be cut. (Note that the original Cato studies showing you could cut taxes and everything would be fine are no longer available on their web site.)

Almost all of the managers I have met in various state agencies are smart, honest, hard-working people doing the best they can with an impossible set of constraints set by the taxpayers. As one in the child welfare system told me, "The taxpayers want fewer kids to die in the child welfare system. And the taxpayers want me to have fewer social workers to supervise the system, and to reduce their compensation. I can't do both."

Interesting perspective mcain. It seems that state gov’t employees may be joining the category of “those dirty rotten bastards” that the oil patch has enjoyed for decades. Folks get mad about a situation and they want a clear picture of what the enemy looks like. Doesn’t matter if the “enemy” caused the problem or not. Politicians curry favor with the ignorant masses on any variety of issues by deflecting blame away from their policies that did much to generate the problem in the same place. At least we in the oil patch are in a better position then the gov’t workers: we don’t have to care about the harsh words. Some of us actually relish the “bastard” title. Our fate tends to rise and fall independently with the economy. Gov’t workers’ fate will tend to rise and fall with the level of blame TPTB heap upon them. With budget short falls increasing so should the shouts of “Off with their heads!”

(Child welfare) social workers in the UK are one of the most denigrated professions in the country. They are always underfunded, and constantly criticised whenever they fail so save a child from its drug crazed parents/minders. They have an incredible amount of beaurocracy to handle, so they can prove that every person has not had their human rights violated, even the violent parents. They are always massively understaffed, because nobody wants to take the jobs which involve being abused by everybody concerned. The UK system is deeply broken, because so many different agencies share the responsibility of protecting children, and the government brings in ever more layers of national databases criminal checks and registers for all people working or even having occasional contact with children, however informally.

My (adopted) children were removed from their natural parents when the older one showed up with non-accidental broken bones, for second time. Parents were themselves from dysfunctional families and in council 'care' homes. Both were regular drug users, and known for violent incidents. They were returned to their mother whilst in 'monitored' accommodation, (private sector) where she was monitored severely neglecting them for three weeks before she herself handed them in to the police saying 'I can't cope'.

It then took over a year of beauocratic checks before they were freed to be legally adopted.

This is all true. And it is true that all of this was agreed to by reasonably well informed and well intentioned people. The problem is that the operating principle upon which all of these decisions were based has turned out to be deeply flawed. The assumption of perpetual economic growth necessary to pay for all this has turned out to be an artificial, cultural myth.


Now we fight over the remains - the thinner slices of a shrinking pie.

My guess is the little guy is not going to win, be he a taxpayer or civil serf.


Oh, you want advice :^) Well, keeping in mind that even I think I'm out on the lunatic fringe...

  • Are you a BAU cornucopian? Unlimited oil as far as we can see? Global warming is a fantasy? A balanced investment portfolio grows at 7.5% forever? Tweak the pension plans somewhat: grow the benefits a little slower, increase the employee contribution a little bit. That's enough to fix the problem for at least 50 years, and there are other things that are going to require major fixes before then: health care financing and the financial services industry come to mind (more about those in the next paragraph).
  • Think it's possible to stabilize the US in a much more efficient and localized version of relatively high technology, but fossil fuels are right out? As Alan suggests, electrify the hell out of everything and build renewable generating capacity. Soon. Start with transportation. That will take money. Last year medical spending in the US was about 17% of GDP and growing rapidly; the rest of the developed world gets by on about half that. Far too much of GDP is financial services of dubious value. Fix those, apply the savings to electrification. Fix public pensions later. If you feel like you just really, really have to do something about the pensions, be a little more aggresive about the tweaks mentioned previously. But there are more pressing problems.
  • Think Gail's got it right with a long slow decline, a "forever" recession? Trust me on this, but combine 20 years of no economic growth with 250+ million privately owned guns and you have bigger problems than insolvent public pensions. But again, if you feel like you really, really have to do something, see the tweaks above.
  • Are you one of those who believe the whole system is going to come crashing down in 25 years or less? Then either (1) kick back and relax until then or (2) learn useful skills: animal-powered farming, how to set a broken bone, smithing, weaving, etc. Most of the public pension funds can pay their obligations for 25 years, and by then it doesn't matter.

Four scenarios, and fixing public pensions is a relatively low priority in all of them.

Best wishes from the lunatic fringe,

In regards to the Iraq oil pipeline explosion up top, this bombing was more serious than usual and resulted in a large explosion. About 250,000 barrels of oil may have been spilled, and it may take a week to repair the damage (no word on how long to clean up, if ever). It was estimated recently that flow through the pipeline is 450,000 bpd.

I would not be surprised if pictures of this bombing don't make it to the media, just as hijackings of oil tankers seem to be played down, at least here in the US.

Oil Movements says OPEC exports are still holding steady, as they have been for the last few months. This is a bit of concern since exports to the US seasonally pick up by now in preparation for the summer driving season.

DJ OPEC Exports Seen -0.12M B/D In 4 Weeks To May 8 - Tracker

ALGIERS, Apr 22, 2010 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex) -- Oil shipments from Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, excluding Angola and Ecuador, are expected to fall by 120,000 barrels a day in the four weeks to May 8, tanker tracker Oil Movements said Thursday, halting a fast supply rise in recent weeks.

Exports from the 10 OPEC countries tracked by Oil Movements are forecast at 23.25 million barrels a day in the four weeks to May 8, down from 23.37 million barrels a day shipped in the one-month period to April 10.


"Your backyard could be a wildlife habitat"

That is a really great idea for today - I just registered my backyard as a wildlife habitat. Here's the url...


Anything small thing I can do to encourage neighbors to take some action seems worthwhile. Did I mention I also have a lot of critters in my yard ? (mostly ones that eat the fruit)

I essentially turned my backyard into a wildlife habitat twenty years ago in Virginia. The people I sold the house to immediately cut everything down, including over 100 trees, and turned everything back into your typical chemicalized lawn. No good deed goes unreversed.

Yeah - sigh - I can visualise that - I was thinking about it this morning, actually.

I wonder if one could make retaining the natural habitat a part of any sale contract - like a land trust, or something...I wonder if it would be enforceable ?

I wonder if one could make retaining the natural habitat a part of any sale contract - like a land trust, or something...I wonder if it would be enforceable ?

There is an old feudal land restriction called a restrictive covenant that goes back to Anglo-Saxon times. You can attach a restrictive covenant to a property when you sell it, and forbid the purchaser and all subsequent purchasers from, e.g. cutting down any trees. It runs with and attaches to the land title, and can prevent owners from doing things with the land into the far, far future.

Restrictive covenants are relatively common, particularly in the US, and can tie property up in all kinds of different ways. If you are buying property, watch out for restrictive covenants on it that might, for instance, prevent you from cutting down trees or raising chickens on it. Before the invention of zoning, land developers used them to control what people did with the land they sold them. Consult a lawyer for more details.

They are still being put in place today, most often by developers where the zoning doesn;t give them what they want.
There are some pending lawsuits in North Vancouver because of restrictive covenants that prevented people from cutting down trees. The trees (mostly Douglas Firs and Hemlock) continued to grow, as they do, and get bigger and more top heavy, but the owners could not do anything because of these covenants, even though tree consultants had said they were a blowdown risk. The big storms three years ago brought some down onto houses (leaving one person paralysed), and the owners sued the city because the city had stopped them from doing tree control.

Similar thing in Australia several years ago, with covenants against tree cutting, and a bushfire burned many houses along the outer edges of suburbs (two people died). The insurance companies were balking at some payouts because the owners had not done proper tree control (as per insurance requirements) with big eucalyptus shading over the roof, etc. But the owners couldn't trim, because trees would be lop sided ("not maintain their natural form"), an couldn't be cut down. Insurance companies dug their heels in and said it's the owners problem if they can;t meet the insurance conditions. Problem was only settled by government making up the difference, and the no cutting covenants were discharged after a fire inquiry found "excessive tree growth around houses" was the major factor. Those did not have large trees mostly survived the fire.

That's the problem with mandating wilderness in your backyard - it brings with it both wanted and unwanted (and sometimes uncontrollable) features

I think it's a great idea, and I'm going to look into it.

Perhaps careful wording from a good lawyer will, at least, ensure that my fruit trees don't get covered over with plastic decking, while still allowing them to get proper pruning and disease management.

I still fume when I see the beautiful, 105-year old house in my neighborhood - 2400 sq ft on a 5400 sq ft lot - which got turned into a 4000 sq ft 2-laundry, granite countertops, 6 bedroom monstrosity, with a 12 ft wide concrete driveway and 2-hummer garage, plus patch of lawn.

In honor of Earth Day, here is a classic George Carlin classic. "The planet is fine, the people are f***ed!"



Everytime I look at Ace's Oil Megaprojects chart I want to go screaming and blubbering into a cave.

If you map the oil coming on line over the past few years to the price - its uncanny - the whole supply and demand thing you learn in school - it really works.

So if the 07 hiccup in supply - which led to the big price spike at the end of 07 - was caused by a drop of maybe 0.9 MBD, what can we expect at the end of 2010, when the drop in new supply of approx 1.6 MBD hits

(in both cases I'm referring to the delta between 06-07 and 09-10)

the problem, of course, is that the 07 drop in supply was more than made up for in 08
and presto, the price crashed in 08 with new supply

in 2010 we will not be so fortunate.
2011 is same as 2011
and 2012 - gets worse

Yea, the projection for new oil from megaprojects was about 6.7 Mb/d in 2008. If the overly optimistic projections continue at roughly the same rate, we might see an additional 2.2 Mb/d this year.


Black is an honest regulator among thieves and liars.

Thrift stores struggle to stay open, fund programs

Non-profit groups across the country say they are hurting from a recession-fueled decline in thrift store donations, and the pain is being passed down to thrifty shoppers, who increasingly rely on second-hand stores to stretch in hard times.

The groups, such as the Salvation Army, rely on thrift shop sales to finance their charitable operations.

"Demand is up, but donations are down," says Major Man-Hee Chang, who is in charge of the Salvation Army's thrift stores and the alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs they finance in 13 Western states.

Happy Earth Day Leanan! It's a rather depressing array of news links, but still I appreciate deeply what you and the TOD crew do. Kudos.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard held war games Thursday in the strategic Persian Gulf oil route, the Hormuz Strait, a show of its military strength at a time when the country's leaders are depicting President Barack Obama's new nuclear policy as a threat.

From the article up top. This latest Iranian show of force comes ahead of numerous such provocations, and strongly worded speechs, which leads me to think it's starting to be pretty obvious they are working towards a nuclear device. If uranium enrichment was simply for peaceful purposes, why would they act so defensively militaristic? I suppose the big question is, will any country or coalition try to stop them militarily?

I suppose the situation has to be weighed as to what are the consequences of action vs. inaction. With action there could be a lot of economic collateral damage via increasing oil prices. However, inaction means living with a nuclear weapon capable Iran, with that crazy leader actungmenijad.

"If uranium enrichment was simply for peaceful purposes, why would they act so defensively militaristic?"

Why? Watch, listen, and, if possible, hear what is being said in this lecture:

Noam Chomsky: "'I Am Kinda': Reflections on the Culture of Imperialism"


Watch, listen, and, if possible, hear what is being said in this lecture:

Why do you feel it is necessary to be condescending?

Personally, I don't see a nuclear Iran as any more alarming than a nuclear Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea, etc. I think they want them for deterrence, like everyone else.

If we are going nuclear because of peak oil and climate change, we're probably going to have to get used to world where everyone has nukes.

Personally, I don't see a nuclear Iran as any more alarming than a nuclear Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea, etc. I think they want them for deterrence, like everyone else.

On the surface it seems fine, but when you consider that actungminajad has already said things to the effect of wanting to bomb Israel out of existence, it takes on more concern. I'm not Jewish, but the idea that its ok to wipe out a people isn't ok by my standards.

If you are being threatend and intimidated by a country that has, what?, 3000 hydrogen bombs and their surrogate in the neighborhood has a few dozen its possible that acting crazy is a pretty good self defensive stance.

I have no sympathy for the religious tyranny in Iran or in any other place but it probably is worthwhile to ask what makes sense in the context that the "enemy" lives in.

I'm not intimidated, nor do I have any power to make decisions or even suggest ideas to those that do, that might lead to action being taken.

Just discussing 'what' action or inaction might be taken against Iran (by whatever country or coalition) due to the fact it is now pretty obvious by way of their war games and rhetorical speeches that they are probably in the process of developing a nuclear device. If you notice, no call to action was made by myself in any of these posts. However, I must have touched a nerve, because some of the responses are quite sharp in their tone, and or condescending. I didn't realize the topic was so sensitive. I thought the genre' of posters on TOD were open to just about any topic. However, I will ammend my areas of discussion to avoid this particular topic, lest it may offend someone's sensibilities.

Juan Cole and other academics say that President Ahmadinejad did not threaten violence against Israel; he expressed belief that it would disappear as a victim of its own evil deeds and internal contractions -- as the Soviet Union did.

Further, the office of President of Iran is largely ceremonial, not so powerful as that of Prime Minister. Much of the troubles in the Middle East trace to the CIA-backed coup in 1953 that overthrew Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq when he displeased the English by nationalizing the oil companies.

Much of what the corporate press says about the Middle East reflects Western politics and is about as factual as reports of Iraq's WMD.

In the Islamic Republic (since the revolution) the Supreme Leader is the man with practically unlimited power, and ayatollah Ali Khamenei has never talked about Iran militarily attacking any country (with the possible exception that, when the Taliban killed a number of Iranian diplomats in Herat, Iran probably considered military action against the Taliban, before the idea gained international currency, so to speak).

Is wiping out Native Americans or Palestinians ok by "your" standards? How about residents of Hiroshima or Nagasaki?

The U.S remains the only country ever to drop a nuclear bomb on human beings - and it did it twice.

The long history of our species is one group wiping out another. Those are just the facts. It's not political, it's not moral, and it has nothing to do with being ok or not. It's just the way we are designed by evolution.

Even Jesus, Buddha, MLK Jr., Gandhi can't change this. It's the way we are.

Somehow I have the feeling we'll return to it once the downslope hits. If Iran drops a nuclear bomb on Israel (successfully), well they're really just following our example.

As is explained downthread, he didn't really say that, and he's not really in charge, anyway.

when you consider that actungminajad has already said things to the effect of wanting to bomb Israel out of existence,

you just provided the answer to why toilforoil appeared to be condescending.

"why would they act so defensively militaristic?"
Are you serious? As apposed to?

'As opposed to' not acting that way because there is no need to do so, because they are not making a nuclear device. Or, do you read these war games differently? If so, please explain.

I have never seen any reliable information from any honest source that would indicate that Iran is attempting to produce any nuclear weapons.

The whole concept appears to be a figment of the deranged USA imagination.

Just because Yanks believe that the greatest thing in life is to have the power to destroy all life, does not mean that other groups of people are equally deluded.

This whole beat-up by US sources appears to exist solely for the purpose of future justification of an attack on Iran to seize to fossil fuel resources for US use.

Indeed, what can go wrong if a country that supports terrorists abroad starts using nuclear energy. I see absolutely no problem with this.

The US is the only country to be found guilty of terrorism and it has nuclear weapons.

The US has invaded countries on either side of Iran without good reason, as well as supporting the fruitcake Zionists in Israel (who want to bomb Iran). Who could blame the Iranians for wanting nuclear weapons. Admittedly, it would be a bit irritating for those that want to do Iran harm though.

So then two really big holes in Manhattan weren't reason enough to overthrow the Taliban that gave training bases to the people who killed the people in those two skyscrapers?

The US is the only country to be found guilty of terrorism? So, for example, when Kim Jong Il had a North Korean hit squad kill a bunch of South Korean diplomats in a third country that was not terrorism?

"...a country that supports terrorists abroad..."

Oddly that doesn't make me think of Iran first. The US has been doing that for decades, with impunity and mind-boggling hypocrisy. I absolutely see a problem with this.

This month, a South Korean super-tanker, with $200 million worth of crude oil, was seized by pirates over 600 nautical miles off the coast of Africa.

It is my opinion that the US military, or joint NATO, or joint UN operations could simply start having a few UAVs orbiting the theatre.

Ship wakes are not too tricky to detect, using image processing, correct?

Grasshopper infestations this year probably will be twice as bad as in 2009 throughout much of Wyoming, the local manager of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management said Tuesday.


One more little problem with food which perhaps has peaked as well

Not to worry. Grasshoppers fry up quite tasty.

As long as you don't use too much DDT in the collection phase.

Greec's problems seem to be getting worse. According to WSJ:

As EU Revises Greek Deficit Figures, Markets Brace for Default

Time is short: Greece must repay €8.5 billion ($11.4 billion) in borrowings on May 19, a sum it doesn't now have.

Thursday's sell-off began in part after the EU statistical authority, Eurostat, said Greece's 2009 budget deficit was €32.3 billion, or 13.6% of its gross domestic product. Greece had estimated the deficit at 12.7%. But in its semiannual report on EU debt and deficit, Eurostat noted that it still didn't have confidence in the new figure, which it said could actually be above 14%.

In thin trading Thursday, the yield on a Greek 10-year bond rose to 8.92%, on par with some emerging markets and 5.85 percentage points more than solid Germany pays. That spread was a record since Greece joined the euro zone, sharply higher than levels of even a month ago.

A guest on CNBC tonight was saying Greece is not in a position to print money, so it is stuck paying off loans with only money on hand. That seemed like a strange thing to say. What's happened to the world that countries can just print money?

Greece is using the Euro. The other Euro zone countries have a say in printing more...

It's kind of amazing that everyone is in a flutter about Greece's debts when the US has actual and contingent liabilities of $100 trillion. It will be impossible to ever pay that debt off after PO, so either the US will eventually default or inflate its way out of debt - or both.

Since the IMF is basically required to help out its members, a relatively small Greece will not default. However this so called crisis may soon shake everyone out of their complaceny concerning the US dollar - which would lead to a very serious and far worse crisis because the US is too large to be bailed out by the IMF.

Looks like next week's T-Bill auction could push that 4 per cent 10 year trigger again

$128 billion, by one estimate. That eclipses the previous record set in February.

Remember, this is how much Treasury needs just to stay current on Uncle Sam’s bills. And this torrid pace won’t let up until August, according to Brian Edmonds, the head of interest rates at Cantor Fitzgerald -- one of 18 “primary dealers” that bid at every auction.

At that point, he expects “modest reductions.”

“With the economy doing better,” Edmonds suggests hopefully, with a hint of desperation, “receipts are better and there’s not as much pressure on Treasury for cash needs.”

Like we're going to stimulate enough receipts to pay off the borrowing

Primary dealers surveyed by Bloomberg yesterday figure Treasury will have to float or refinance $2.4 trillion in debt during this calendar year. Yowza.

Last month, the Treasury Department was figuring only less than $2.1 trillion, give or take a few hundred billion:

What's a few hundred billion between friends? For perspective. If you paid off just that little rounding error at $100,000 a year it only takes 3 million years to settle up. If you didn't have to pay interest. Yeah like we've been sayin'
PO means total debt is way beyond retrieval.

Here's the 'warm-up band'. (9.3% over the German rate for the 2 year) What happens when the US chart looks like this?

Greece Budget Gap Worse Than Feared; Bonds Approach Pakistan Levels; Greek Bond Crash In Pictures

The US has its own set of "PIGS". Chris Puplava labels it the CINN group (California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York).

So the inverted yield curve for Greece signals a recession.

2 yr high, 5 yr lower, 10 yr lower.

Right now with the expectation of a recovery the US curve is the opposite. For now buyers may even leave Europe and buy US. This means there is an expectation that tax receipts are improving and carrying the short term debt should be no problem.

However at some point buyers begin to lose confidence. Some catalyst causes the market to falter. It may be that the ability to continue stimulating the economy though high payments on longer debt passes and holds beyond some trigger point like 4% on the 10yr, or debt to GDP passes the 90% threshold, or sustained high oil price sinks productivity, or bad housing/unemployment data becomes undeniable, or all of the above. A possible trigger could come as early as next week when the US tries to float another 100 billion in t-bills and buyers balk.

This is a very high stakes game conducted in a full on no holds barred manner IMHO. If the patient fails to begin to show life, i.e. there is no underlying growth in the private sector, then the gambit will inevitably falter. The snap back may be pretty sudden. PO types tend to believe that real underlying growth is gonna be real tough to impossible. Receipts will decline not increase.

Therefore rates will go higher, a recession will be triggered, what happened to Greece will happen in the US. The charts WT referenced will invert for all other debt-based economies too. All that worldwide US-type paper that creditors hold begins to decline in value, the rush to claim real resources accelerates (for those who still have funds or guns) as debt value falls further. Lending inevitably dries up. Rates skyrocket. Stimulus efforts fall prey to diminishing returns with reduced purchasing power.

There is no IMF/Euro zone fix for this. I cannot see how this will not trigger another, more difficult, worldwide recession amid the mother of all resource scrambles.

I guess the riser and BOP are pulled and brought on board befor cementing commences. Without the BOP there would be no protection against a blowout.