Drumbeat: April 28, 2010

ANALYSIS - Mexico oil decline to resume, target looks shaky

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican crude oil output, which has been stable since September, will soon resume its fall and the medium-term outlook is increasingly cloudy due to doubts surrounding two major projects.

State oil monopoly Pemex has kept production around 2.6 million barrels per day for six of the last seven months, prompting officials to forecast Mexico has overcome the worst of its five-year slide in oil output.

In recent months, Pemex has slowed the rate of decline at its Cantarell field, largely by stepping up drilling at smaller satellite deposits, while boosting production at its Ku Maloob Zaap (KMZ) complex faster than previously planned, helping it offset poor results at its Chicontepec project.

However, the underlying problems at Cantarell persist and Pemex does not think it will be able to squeeze much more crude from KMZ, which is currently pumping near 850,000 bpd, putting an increasing burden onto the troubled Chicontepec project to sustain Mexican production capacity.

"At best, the recent stabilization will last throughout the year; at worst, it could end in the coming months," said Eurasia Group's Allyson Benton in a recent research note.

Saudi Arabia global oil exports to wane post-2010

Saudi Arabia’s long-standing status as a swing producer of crude oil could be drawing to a close according to the head of national oil company Saudi Aramco.

Global oil exports from Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer alongside Russia, will start to wane in the coming years as domestic demand surges and spare capacity drops, warned Khalid al-Falih, chief executive officer of Saudi Aramco in a speech published on the company's website.

Domestic energy demand is expected to increase by almost 250%, from about 3.4 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2009 to about 8.3 million b/d by 2028, which will eventually affect the country's ability to export oil, he said.

Power and prudence

A stark warning has been issued over energy use in the Kingdom. Saudi Aramco boss Khalid Al-Falih has warned that on present trends, in terms of oil equivalent, in the next 18 years energy demand here is destined to soar by almost 250 percent. That will mean a sharp fall in hydrocarbon earnings as fully 3 million barrels a day is diverted from exports to the domestic market.

Experts suggest Kingdom develop renewable energy

ALKHOBAR: A Saudi Aramco executive has shared a bold vision of the future in which renewable and nuclear energy power the Kingdom’s domestic economy and massive solar farms in the Rub Al-Khali feed into an intercontinental Eurasian electrical grid.

PIW: China’s crude oil imports rose nearly 29 per cent in March

Angola overtook Saudi Arabia as China’s largest crude oil supplier in March, a month in which China’s imports rose to their second highest level on record, according to Petroleum Intelligence Weekly.

Sinopec’s Profit Jumps 39.9% on Resurgent Economy

(Bloomberg) -- China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., Asia’s biggest oil refiner, reported a 39.9 percent jump in first-quarter profit, matching estimates, as a resurgent economy boosted fuel demand.

Nigeria oil disruption due to "major attack"-source

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria (Reuters) - A Nigerian oil supply disruption at Brass River was due to a "major attack" on a pipeline causing a serious oil spill, an industry source told Reuters on Wednesday.

Lukoil Pumps Russia’s First Oil From Caspian Sea

(Bloomberg) -- OAO Lukoil, Russia’s largest non- state oil company, began commercial output at the Korchagin field, marking the start of crude production in the Russian part of the Caspian Sea.

“The company needed 15 years for today to come,” Chief Executive Officer Vagit Alekperov said during a ceremony at an offshore platform at the deposit attended by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Lukoil has spent more than 40 billion rubles ($1.4 billion) to bring the field on stream, he said.

Russian PM Putin: zero duty possible for Caspian oil

ASTRAKHAN, Russia (Reuters) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he would consider exempting Caspian Sea oilfields from paying an export duty.

The Desirable Barrel

Major changes in transportation to the US and modifications to US refineries have made the Canadian commodity extremely desirable. As a result, the differential paid for Canadian light compared to Canadian heavy is holding firm near historic lows. The differential has averaged about C$8 per barrel for the last year. To put that in perspective, as recently as late 2008 conventional heavy sold briefly for 45% less than Edmonton Par. That wasn’t a profitable environment.

By contrast, the market today is a bit like a winery selling this year’s plonk for 14% less than a vintage wine. Like plonk compared to fine wine, heavy oil is intrinsically less valuable than Edmonton Par, the Canadian standard for light oil. In most refineries, after all, heavy feedstock results in less high-value-added gasoline and more low-value-added asphalt.

But the big US refining complexes are changing that. “It’s a matter of adding vessels to the refinery,” according to Steven Paget; he is vice president for energy infrastructure at First Energy Capital. “Those longer-chain hydrocarbons need more work to break up, but new pipelines from Canada are accessing the refineries at Wood River (Illinois) and Cushing (Oklahoma).” Those refining complexes have the capacity to break heavy oil into lighter feedstock. “Therefore the (narrow) differential becomes minimal or close to equivalent to actual operating cost.”

Phil Flynn: Crude gets slammed on S&P downgrades

In the beginning of the financial crisis oil soared towards $147 a barrel and I attempted to explain that things were amiss. The price-move in oil was out of line with the five-year average price increase that already reflected stunning oil demand growth. I was scoffed at by some when I suggested that the spike in oil might lead to demand destruction. That the world economy had not “decoupled” from the U.S. economy and that no matter what, Europe and China would consume oil even if the U.S. banks started to fail. The naysayer and the blindly bullish say that the price move was just a function of peak oil and the prices would continue to soar higher and that price would have little impact on demand.

Saudi Aramco plans to lift refining output by 1.5m bpd

Saudi Aramco plans to proceed with plans to boost its 3.7 million barrel a day refining capacity by 1.5 million barrels a day even as it struggles to find joint venture partners to help build the plants.

Saudi Arabia Leaves May LPG Prices Unchanged to Spur Demand

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the largest supplier of liquefied petroleum gas to Asia, left prices for cargoes loading in May unchanged to spur demand.

Saudi Aramco, as the state-owned company is known, kept its price for propane supplies at $725 a metric ton, said an official who asked not to be identified, citing company policy. The Dhahran-based producer left butane levels unchanged for a second month, at $715 a ton.

Construction starts on major East Texas gas gathering system

Tenaska Capital Management, LLC (TCM) announced the commencement of construction of TPF II East Texas Gathering, LLC (ETG), a major high capacity natural gas gathering system with multi-market capacity to serve the Haynesville shale formation in East Texas.

Chevron wants unused film on Ecuador dispute

Chevron Corp. has gone to court seeking the unused footage from a documentary film about the $27 billion lawsuit against the oil company in Ecuador.

Brussels pollution curbs could trigger UK energy crisis, warns CBI

Britain could be forced to close 14 power stations if a proposed European directive becomes law, a move that would drastically cut power supplies and endanger energy security, the Confederation of British Industry has warned.

Battle for Electric Cars Heats Up with Ambitious Battery Swapping Project

TOKYO--We're used to "buying minutes" on our cellphones. Suppose we did the same with our cars, and instead of owning the batteries in our electric cars, paid for the time we used them? And suppose instead of waiting six to eight hours to recharge our car's battery pack, we simply swapped it out for a fresh one? That's the concept behind the globally oriented but California-based Better Place EV charging company, which this week inaugurated the world's first EV battery swapping program (in partnership with the Japanese government), for Tokyo taxis.

5 arrested in Boulder anti-coal protest

Five people were arrested today by Boulder Police officers and Boulder County sheriff's deputies during a protest at the Valmont Industries Inc. coal plant at 1800 63rd St.

The five joined about 20 protestors from the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center who gathered around 12:55 p.m. to protest against use of coal at the plant by Xcel Energy. Officials said they did not know whether the five were associated with the Peace and Justice Center.

'Soul of a Citizen,' Volunteers Can't Solve Our Problems: For Every House Habitat Builds, 100s More Are Homeless

A Stanford student once explained how he'd learned more from his community volunteering than from all his courses in school. "I hope that one day," he concluded, "my grandchildren will get to have the same experience working in the same homeless shelter that I did." Friends gently reminded him that they were working for a future when people in a country this wealthy wouldn't need to sleep in shelters. The student meant no harm, but his words raised a question about the relationship between long-term change and the volunteer work that so many of us do in our communities.

Parsing McKibben: If There Be Sorrow

On last Thursdays Earth Day Bill Mckibben had a stark message for the world “Forty years in, we’re losing.” , while PBS’s American Experience gave us Earth Days: The inspiring story of the modern environmental movement.“

Huh? Are we talking about the same planet? Yes we are, there is no contradiction. PBS is talking about the past and what has been achieved, McKibben is talking about where we are and what we need to achieve. They are referring to different things, and hence have a completely different perspective.

Pakistanis Living on Brink, and Often in the Dark

LAHORE, Pakistan — The Taliban may be plotting bombings, and the economy is on the brink. But these days, the single biggest woe tormenting Pakistanis is as basic as an electric light bulb.

Pakistan is in the throes of an energy crisis, with Pakistanis now enduring about 12 hours of power cuts a day, a grueling schedule that is melting ice, stopping fans and enraging an already exhausted populace just as the blast furnace of summer gets started.

In an effort to stem that frustration, Pakistan’s government held an emergency meeting last week, bringing together top bureaucrats from across the country. But instead of easing the problem, it aggravated it, ordering power-saving measures that seemed calculated to smother some Pakistanis’ last remaining pleasures.

Pakistan to shutter gas filling stations

LAHORE, Pakistan (UPI) -- As part of the government's energy conservation drive, Pakistan's compressed natural gas filling stations across the country will be closed every Tuesday.

Energy retailers criticized the government's decision but Petroleum Ministry officials insist the move will help generate electrical power, The News International reported Tuesday.

Govt, traders reach conditional agreement on 8pm

The Sindh government and the business community of Karachi, following marathon meetings on Tuesday at the Governor House and Chief Minister’s House, reached at a conditional agreement to shut shops at 8pm. The agreement comes into force with immediate effect, but is premised on the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) not resorting to power loadshedding during trading hours.

Britain to aid Pakistan's energy sector

LAHORE, Pakistan (UPI) -- Britain's Deputy High Commissioner in Pakistan Peter Tibber has discussed Pakistani energy needs with Punjab's Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif.

International News Network reported Tuesday that Sharif told Tibber that Pakistan's energy crisis is serious and that shortages of electricity are having a negative impact on the country's industry, agriculture and trade.

U.S. Govt Investigates Deepwater Horizon Incident

As they emphasized the importance of continued vigilance and interagency coordination in the joint response to the Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today laid out the next steps for the investigation that is underway into the causes of the April 20 explosion that left 11 workers missing, three critically injured, and an ongoing oil spill that the responsible party and federal agencies are working to contain and clean up.

Conoco exits 2nd big ticket Meast deal in month

The withdrawals would likely make it tough for Conoco to land future work in two of the world's top oil exporting countries Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

"Both Aramco and ADNOC have been quite annoyed by Conoco," said Samuel Ciszuk of IHS Global Insight. "They are used to people being very grateful. (But) They have been the ones that have had to face a partner not moving forward. That has put a strain on a lot of relationships."

Total, Kuwait Discuss Heavy-Oil Project, China Plant

(Bloomberg) -- Total SA, Europe’s third-biggest oil company, is in talks with Kuwait to develop heavy-crude deposits using advanced technology to extract fuel from fields in the country’s north.

The company, Europe’s largest refiner, is also considering joining a planned refinery project in China, Total Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie said today. China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. and Kuwait are seeking to build the plant in the southern city of Zhanjiang.

Can world's largest laser zap Earth's energy woes?

Livermore, California (CNN) -- Scientists at a government lab here are trying to use the world's largest laser -- it's the size of three football fields -- to set off a nuclear reaction so intense that it will make a star bloom on the surface of the Earth.

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's formula for cooking up a sun on the ground may sound like it's stolen from the plot of an "Austin Powers" movie. But it's no Hollywood fantasy: The ambitious experiment will be tried for real, and for the first time, late this summer.

Indian biofuel efforts falter

NEW DELHI (UPI) -- Indian efforts to cultivate jatropha as an alternative biofuel have stalled.

The Business Standard reported Tuesday that the Indian government had hoped that jatropha could replace one-fifth of India's diesel consumption by next year. The government consequently identified 98 million acres of available land where jatropha could be cultivated.

Their earthly concerns

Bill McKibben and Anna Lappé are bringing the battle to save the environment to your house, with books making the case for adjusting the ways we think, live, and eat right now if we are to avert a global crisis.

What drove oil prices in 2009

It wasn’t speculators, and it wasn’t fundamentals - at least, not short-term fundamentals.

The key to understanding what has driven crude oil prices since the financial crisis began, according to a new paper by Bassam Fattouh, is what oil market participants chose to believe about long-term fundamentals.

The Oxford Institute of Energy Studies fellow, who wrote a long paper [PDF] for the world’s energy ministers last month on how oil prices (covered more briefly by us) are determined, argues that 2009 had two unusual characteristics...

Oil Volatility Sinks as Shortage Concern Eases

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil volatility is falling to the lowest level in almost three years as brimming stockpiles and rising OPEC investment in production capacity eases concern of shortages.

Peak Everything?

When you really need something, it's natural to worry about running out of it. Peak oil has been a global preoccupation since the 1970s, and the warnings get louder with each passing year. Environmentalists emphasize the importance of placing limits on consumption of fossil fuels, but haven't been successful in encouraging people to consume less energy—even with the force of law at their backs.

But maybe they're going about it all wrong, looking for solutions in the wrong places. Economists Lucas Bretschger and Sjak Smulders argue that the decisive question isn't to focus directly on preserving the resources we already have. Instead, they ask: “Is it realistic to predict that knowledge accumulation is so powerful as to outweigh the physical limits of physical capital services and the limited substitution possibilities for natural resources?” In other words, can increasing scientific knowledge and technological innovation overcome any limitations to economic growth posed by the depletion of non-renewable resources?

Green or Not So Green?

By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’”

Ecologist Kenneth Watt made that statement on the inaugural Earth Day in 1970. The “peak oil” warning has been going on long before that, but here we are ten years after Watt’s deadline and we’re globally consuming 85 million barrels of oil per day with increasing amounts of proven reserves each year. Three decades ago, proven oil reserves were 645 billion barrels; five years ago it was 1.28 trillion and in 2009 it was 1.34 trillion. Yet the push to transition to renewable, allegedly cleaner sources of energy has never been stronger. The question to ask is: why?

Peak Oil Investments I'm Putting My Money On: Part IX, The Methadone Economy

If the measure of success for alternative fuels is the ability to continue to live in suburbs and commute in multi-ton boxes of metal on congested freeways for hours each day, then alternative fuels will fail. No alternative fuel has the existing infrastructure, supply potential, energy density, and low environmental impact that we would need to replace oil without changing our unsustainable lifestyle.

Peak oil may mean the end of bigger and bigger cars driven farther and farther on more and more congested roads. Peak oil may mean the end of suburban life as we know it. Yet life as we don't know it does need not be a vision out of Mad Max. Peak oil will mean changes, some for the better, some for the worse.

Jim Rogers: This Bull’s Horns Just Got Longer

Do you subscribe to the peak oil theory?

I have no idea. I know that known reserves of oil are in decline. There’s not much question about that. There may be gigantic amounts of oil out there somewhere, but we don’t know where. But even if it’s there, if it’s in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, that’s not doing us much good because it will take decades and staggering amounts of money for it to come onstream. I know that known reserves of oil have peaked, yes. But whether total reserves of oil have peaked, I have no way of knowing—I’m not a geologist and I’m not smart enough.

Oil Falls a Third Day on Rising Supplies, European Debt Concern

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil fell for a third day on signs that U.S. inventories are continuing to increase while credit-rating downgrades on Greece and Portugal fanned concerns that global fuel demand recovery may stall.

A U.S. government report today may show crude-oil and gasoline stockpiles held by the world’s biggest energy consumer rose for a second week, according to a Bloomberg News survey. Yesterday the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute reported a 5.3 million barrel gain in crude supplies for the period, while MasterCard Inc. said gasoline demand was at its lowest level in 10 weeks.

“If the situation with Greece gets worse, probably $80 won’t stay as the floor,” said Hannes Loacker, an analyst at Raiffeisen Zentralbank Oesterreich in Vienna. “Demand won’t be too much affected, but the euro is, and sentiment is leading to higher risk aversion. It’s sentiment-driven.”

U.S. May Sell LNG to China on Surplus, Standard Chartered Says

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. may supply liquefied natural gas to China as cheaper output costs outweigh transportation charges, making the U.S.-produced fuel competitive, Standard Chartered Plc said.

Colombia’s Northeast Oil Pipeline Damaged by Blasts, Xinhua Says

(Bloomberg) -- Colombia’s Rio Zulia-Ayacucho oil pipeline in the northeastern part of the country was damaged by blasts caused by rebel forces, the Xinhua news agency reported, citing unidentified officials.

BP to Be Paid in Crude for Iraq Investment Costs, Hayward Says

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc will be paid in crude for its investment costs in an Iraqi contract that offers about the same rate of return as other projects worldwide, Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward said.

Russia, Norway strike deal in Arctic

OSLO - In a surprise move, Norway and Russia agreed Tuesday to evenly divide a long-disputed area in the Barents Sea, a promising oil and gas region in the Arctic made more accessible by global warming.

Russia-Ukraine pact leaves EU all at sea

Russia's new deal with Ukraine on the Black Sea Fleet and gas prices, ratified in Ukraine's parliament on Tuesday, has profound bilateral significance, as well as for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and even Europe. It ratifies long-term Russian gains at the expense of all the other players and continues to solidify Moscow's claim to possess a sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union.

ConocoPhillips Said to Pull Out From Adnoc Shah Gas

(Bloomberg) -- ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. oil company, will announce later today that it’s pulling out of the $10 billion Shah sour-gas project with Abu Dhabi, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Iran Oil Industry Bullish Despite Lukoil Exit

Iran says following a decision by major Russian oil firm Lukoil to halt all activities in the country that its oil industry can cope without foreign expertise. The Islamic republic was prepared for the move and Russia is still considering a role in Iranian oil and gas projects.

Shell Earnings Beat Estimates as Production Rebounds

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s biggest oil company, posted a 57 percent increase in earnings after production climbed for the first time in more than three years following startups in Brazil and Russia.

PetroChina Expands Overseas Operations, Raises Output

(Bloomberg) -- PetroChina Co., Asia’s biggest company by market value, expanded overseas operations and ramped up production in the first quarter as domestic demand rebounded.

“The scale of operations continued to expand and rapid growth in the overseas oil and gas business was achieved,” PetroChina said yesterday as the country’s largest energy company reported a 71 percent jump in first-quarter profit.

Question of the Day: Should the U.S. expand offshore oil drilling?

Should the U.S. expand offshore oil drilling?

An oil spill was caused after a Transocean Ltd. rig drilling for British Petroleum in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast caught fire and sank. It is the worst such accident in the Gulf in more than 25 years. The administration wants to expand oil and gas exploration in the mid-Atlantic as far north as Delaware.

Jeff Rubin: Drilling and spilling for all the oil that's left

America’s dream of greater energy independence is rapidly turning into an ecological nightmare. Instead of filling empty gas tanks, BP’s Deepwater Horizon well miles offshore is oozing thousands of barrels a day of oil, already covering an area over 1,900 square miles (3,000 square kilometres) in the food-rich waters of the Gulf of Mexico. With no way of shutting off the valve, which is now buried 1,900 metres below the sea, a $2-billion seafood industry is threatened, not to mention the billions more in damage to coastal real estate values and the potential devastation to wetlands and the wildlife they contain if the growing slick washes ashore.

Most forms of unconventional oil and gas (including, by the way, shale gas) are invariably very hard on the environment. Although tar sands production draws most of the world’s criticism, we are quickly discovering that deep-water wells and the pressure surges they engender run the risk of wreaking even greater ecological and environmental devastation.

GoM accident fallout limited to BP, so far

The Coast Guard helpfully noted that the industry is better prepared now to contain these spills than with that accident, but as the FT’s Lex column writes, the timing was particularly unfortunate for BP ahead of its first quarter results on Monday. The column observes, though, that this “does not look like another Texas city”.

But as many of the oil majors delve into deepwater Gulf of Mexico production and the administration is proposing to open up more offshore areas for drilling, the implications go beyond BP.

Foreign Policy: What Happens To Oil After The Spill?

A recovery effort is currently underway to clean up a massive oil slick caused by the explosion of the oil rig Deep Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico last week. The leaking well is gushing more than 1,000 barrels of oil a day into the gulf and has already created a slick covering about 28,600 square miles. The U.S. Coast Guard and oil giant BP -- which had the rig under contract -- are trying to contain the slick before it reaches the coast of Louisiana. But after the recovery workers remove the oil from the water, what do they do with it?

Coast Guard sets match to spill

The US Coast Guard will start a controlled burn-off of oil leaking from the Macondo well, in the US Gulf of Mexico, within the next two hours, a Coast Guard spokesman confirmed.

Gulf businesses wait as oil creeps toward coast

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) — This time, it's not a hurricane that threatens to wreck their livelihoods — it's a blob of black ooze slowly making its way toward the Gulf Coast.

Hotel owners, fishermen and restaurateurs are keeping anxious watch as an oil slick spreads from a wrecked drilling rig site like a giant filthy ink blot. Forecasters say it could wash ashore within days near delicate wetlands, oyster beds and pristine white beaches.

How 2006 Mine-Safety Law Led to ‘Broken’ U.S. Regulation System

(Bloomberg) -- A West Virginia mining disaster claims lives. Congress pledges to pass legislation to crack down on mine operators.

That was four years ago. Following an explosion this month that killed 29 West Virginia coal miners, history may be repeating itself. Safety advocates say they hope the reaction this time doesn’t follow the pattern.

Gas Saving Tips

Regardless of the world’s geopolitical situation, we need to bear in mind that oil is not an infinite resource; in fact, it appears we have already hit peak oil. Aside from the bloodshed that our love of black gold wreaks upon our species, our addiction to oil has also seen massive amounts of damage being inflicted on our environment.

Oman, UAE ink power grid agreement

The agreement, which followed a memorandum of understanding on electricity, will allow both countries to exchange power resources to fuel socio-economic development through linking their electricity grids. The project will secure enough electricity to meet demand for urban and industrial expansions.

Lotus Re-Engineers Toyota Venza, Saves 38% Weight For 3% Cost

For most of us, there are few cars on the market less exciting than the Toyota Venza. But a Venza re-designed by Lotus? Still a Venza--except that it's 38 percent lighter and only 3 percent more expensive. Still not moved? Imagine the savings applied to your favorite mass-market sport sedan or coupe. Things start getting exciting.

7 Hybrid Cars: Will They Save You Money On Gas?

For those who want a greener commute, the most practical existing option is still hybrid vehicles, which combine gas with electric battery power. There are a number of these vehicles on the market and most of them use significantly less fuel than a comparable non-hybrid car. Unfortunately, at their elevated cost, that doesn't make them cheaper to drive in most cases. Oil and gas industry analysts aren't predicting a rise in oil prices just yet, but if you're set on buying a hybrid, whether for the environment, your pocketbook or as a hip accessory, read on to find out which cars will provide the most value over a comparable non-hybrid model and how long it will take before you start getting more value out of your hybrid at current national average gas prices.

Steve LeVine - The humble battery: 210 years later, the breakthrough we still await

The battery could be a shoo-in for the most confounding of all technologies. Invented in 1799 by Alessandro Volta, it not only has yet to be perfected, but has operated all along on essentially the same chemical principles. Were that it were different: If engineers could figure out how to store sufficient electricity in a sufficiently small, light, safe container, there would be a cascading revolution -- in super-utilities, electric cars, laptops and mobile phones. With the possibility of a trillion-dollar industry at stake -- if consumers en mass decide that they want plug-in hybrids, for instance -- engineers and scientists from the Silicon Valley to Japan, China and Korea are manically working on the technological challenge.

EDF’s Proglio Takes Global Water Battle With Mestrallet Nuclear

(Bloomberg) -- Henri Proglio and Gerard Mestrallet, the Frenchmen who run the world’s biggest utilities, fought for a decade to win water contracts around the world. Now, the rivalry goes nuclear.

Proglio took the helm at state-controlled Electricite de France SA in November, charged with spearheading the nuclear power producer’s push into Asia and North America as France bids to build reactors overseas. At GDF Suez SA, an energy and water group built on France’s former natural-gas monopoly, Mestrallet wants to promote a reactor design that may compete with his larger rival.

$30m is feeding a quest for nonfossil fuels - Cambridge firm scores big backing to produce mystery ethanol-maker

Alternative fuel maker Joule Unlimited Inc. has raised $30 million in venture funding, the largest such deal this year for a clean technology company in New England, according to the National Venture Capital Association.

The Consumption Conundrum: Driving the Destruction Abroad

Our high-tech products increasingly make use of rare metals, and mining those resources can have devastating environmental consequences. But if we block projects like the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska, are we simply forcing mining activity to other parts of the world where protections may be far weaker?

T-Solar Postpones IPO, Blaming Doubt Over Power Rates

(Bloomberg) -- Grupo T-Solar Global SA, the world’s biggest owner of solar-panel installations, postponed its initial public offering in Spain, saying the government has generated regulatory uncertainty that hurt investor confidence.

Canoe believe it . . . candidate Lydia takes to the water to battle for votes

Would-be Totnes MP Lydia Somerville decided to take the greenest route she could find to canvass villagers in the village of Stroke Gabriel.

So the Green Party candidate and her eight-strong campaign team clambered into a huge voyageur canoe at Tuckenhay Creek and paddled across the River Dart to disembark in riverside Stoke Gabriel.

Soil Production of C02 May Decline As World Warms

Contradicting earlier studies showing that soil microbes will emit more carbon dioxide as global warming intensifies, new research suggests that these microbes become less efficient over time in a warmer environment and would actually emit less CO2. The research, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, could have important implications for calculating how much heat-trapping CO2 will accumulate in the atmosphere as temperatures rise.

Today’s menu: fish and foul

Electricity that seems fishy
Nova Scotia Power experiments with burning fish oil at Cape Breton plant

Oil cooked out of anchovies and sardines was used to generate electricity for Nova Scotia Power in a test run last summer.

The fish oil, which otherwise would have ended up in a landfill, was used to co-fire a coal-burning power plant in Cape Breton.

"It had the effect of turbocharging the facility at Point Tupper," Kelly Cantwell, Nova Scotia Power’s director of renewable energy, told several hundred delegates attending the fifth annual Renewable Energy Conference in Halifax on Tuesday.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Business/1179586.html

Rise in clearcutting feared
Environmental group: Including biomass in energy plan is a bad idea

Nova Scotia’s renewable energy plan could result in an increase in clearcutting in the province, says a forestry program co-ordinator with a Halifax environmental group.

While the centre praises the province’s plan to quadruple the amount of electricity generated from renewable resources to 40 per cent by 2020, it is criticizing inclusion of biomass as a renewable energy source.

"We don’t want to be forcing Nova Scotia Power to be pursuing biomass when there are other options," Jamie Simpson of the Ecology Action Centre said Tuesday.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Business/1179639.html


I wonder if my old M-B 240D diesel could run on waste fish oil ?

It would have a quite "interesting" exhaust smell >:-)

Some of those behind me, or walking by, may prefer that I use waste "french fry" oil.


It would have a quite "interesting" exhaust smell >:-)

I picture you being chased down the street by a very long line of cats...

Hi Canuckistani,

I have visions of Alan parking his car and returning a few hours later to find it covered with cats mewing and preening themselves.

Might have to invest in a cat removal system à la this classic Cleese clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a23irJlpjT4


All very amusing, no doubt.

But the real question is why somebody would be landfilling any kind of oil at all, especially a fish oil, which is generally a useful livestock feed ingredient and readily marketable.Maybe it was contaminated, or a one time surplus situation due to a downstream equipment failure or something of that nature.

I agree with the landfill statement. That is just moronic. Fish oil has many very good properties from a health perspective.

Funny how everyone is in favor of using specific things like this for energy instead of landfilling them, but when you start talking about replacing the whole landfilling insfastructure with combustion infrastructure everyone starts running scared! Come on y'all, nothing to be afraid of :)

p.s. shame on the shrill types who claim to be "environmentalists" yet oppose biomass energy!

Demand to sustain bullish oil prices

from former Saudi Oil Minister Yamani's firm. They note that OPEC will raise output when oil prices exceed $100/barrel.


Best Hopes for just $100 oil this year, and next,


Of course US oil prices averaged $100 in 2008, when Saudi net oil exports averaged 8.4 mbpd (EIA)--in contrast to 2005, when US oil prices averaged $57, versus Saudi net oil exports of 9.1 mbpd.

The MSM seem completely oblivious (surprise surprise) to the fact that 2010 will probably be the fifth straight year that Saudi crude production and more importantly Saudi net oil exports have been below their 2005 rate--with four of the five years probably showing year over year increases in oil prices and with all five years probably exceeding the $57 level that we saw in 2005.

Ah, but what price point would "justify" raising their production to 2005 levels for more than a month or two at a time?

Surely there's plenty of demand for oil at $60/barrel, why wait?

Guess what got more attention today?

You guessed it... http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/28/opinion/28steisel.html?ref=opinion

Not a bad idea for New York City. Burn garbage in central heat and power (CHP) plants to produce electricity plus heat (domestic hot water + space heating) and even some chilled water (low efficiency absorption chillers, but from otherwise waste heat in the summer). Common in Denmark (garbage + natural gas usually) and elsewhere in parts of Europe.


CHP is the most efficient way to burn NG, and the most efficient way to dispose of burnable garbage (except composting food scraps).

Ideally, recycle metal, glass, most paper and plastics. Compost food scraps. Burn most of the rest in CHP with natural gas for electricity, hot water, space heating and chilled water in the summer. Bury the ashes from CHP or incorporate them as aggregate into concrete and asphalt.

Better than hauling most of it to South Carolina for landfill disposal.


CHP can reach 70% (about 60% real world, good set-up, all season) thermodynamic efficiency.

"Ideally, recycle metal, glass, most paper and plastics. Compost food scraps. Burn most of the rest.."

If I take a look at my own garbage there's not much left after all the the recycling/composting the above.

Which is the idea.

Best Hopes for Recycling and Composting,


Works well where I live (Brampton, ON). About 70% of the trash from 1 million+ residents of Peel region (next to Toronto) is burned in a modern power-generating incinerator located in the region, actually not far from where I live. No complaints at all from anyone. I guess heating fuel is just too cheap to bother with waste heat recovery.

The region likes incineration so much it's considering having the plant's capacity expanded by 70,000 tonnes per year.

Recycling and composting at scale consume energy! Where ya gonna get it from, fossil fuels?

In every case that I am aware of, recycling uses significantly less energy than getting the same material from "virgin" ores or forests.

Given that a zero energy life style is not feasible, low energy looks good.

Composting is low energy.


Wrong, wrong, WRONG!!! YOU will ALWAYS generate TRASH!!! Many many people have argued for recycling as an "alternative" to disposal, and all of them were just as wrong as you are! Time and time again, such positions have done nothing but give ammunition to NIMBY types; meanwhile, the trash keeps getting hauled further and further, and more and more coal is being burned. Please, base your position on something about the world we live in, not some pie-in-the-sky vision of a world where we all simultaneously decide to stop using dental floss, and all the other things that are too expensive, dangerous, or simply not worth the effort to recycle. Your ideas are not novel, in fact they were already tried and failed.

So, you think you know how to do things better than the former Sanitation Commissioner? Well, buddy, if you have such good ideas for how to manage municipal solid waste, why aren't you running the system? Everyone thinks they know how to do it best, until they see 10,000 tons per day!

Tell me, if you are so keen on taking over the MSW show, how would you recycle THIS? Because THIS is what you will be handed, not the utopia you seem to think will materialize if we refuse to build MSW management infrastructure! Go ahead, dig in!


My patience for opinions on this issue is equal to the hands-on municipal solid waste management experience of the person expressing the opinion. There is a reason the most progressive communities both recycle the most and recover the most energy. Numbers don't lie; you are entield to your opinion, but you are NOT entitled to your own FACTS!!!!

Tell me, have you ever visited a MRF or municipal composting facility? You might find the odors shocking! Far more than you'd find around any waste-to-energy plant. I never ceased to be amazed by the number of armchair waste managers out there who think it would be great if they could just get their hands onto the trash system...until, of course, those hands get cut by broken glass while hand-sorting through garbage, as they seem to advocate so often, especially when pretending to speak on behalf of "waste pickers' rights" in the Third World! Ever been to a Guatemalan street dump? It's not a pretty scene...but that is EXACTLY what you are arguing for!

And of course recycling (in some instances) and composting (in some instances) can SAVE energy, but that is not the same as PRODUCING energy, which you still need, even if you save some in the process.

P.S. like recycling? Here is some metal you can ONLY recycle once the rest has been combusted! Want me to show you a few other examples? Trust me, I've thought about it a lot...it's my job, after all...


'Dillo Dirt

Composted sewage sludge plus lawn clippings and tree trimmings in Austin, Texas. Last I heard (when GWB was about to become Governor of Texas), 100% of available "raw material".



Methane produced is burned on-site to produce electricity#

Yes, this is not 100% of all trash, and works in Austin, Texas because their sewage has a very low heavy metal content.

But a very good idea none the less !

Best Hopes for Realistic Solutions,


# In a slightly better world, the bio-methane would be piped to the Bergstrom airport to partially fuel a CHP plant there.

And, yes I have been to the sewage treatment plant and next door composting in Austin. Odor noticeable but no where near overwhelming. Not much from the composting area (contained for heat retention, anaerobic digestion and odor control in 8 tanks).

The City of Austin runs a construction debris landfill (nothing that can attract gulls, or produce much methane) near the airport.

I may be missing something here because while I certainly see the value in recycling sewage and yard waste (and yes, some systems even do recover energy from the process these days, albeit orders of magnitude lower than combustion), I do believe there is QUITE a bit more to solid waste than those things!

Of course we should recycle and compost material where it makes environmental and economic sense. But there will always be residual waste, that is my point - no community has ever achieved 100% recycling so it makes no sense to base a policy on the idea that we can or should, which is probably the most common argument made against incinerators these days, since there is really no credible way to argue that landfills are better and the tech is too clean nowadays to claim it is dirty. And I know this isn't your point, either, but it's worth mentioning, every study from the last 15-20 years or so essentially shows there is, for all practical intents and purposes, zero health risk to living near one. It is unfortunate that many people maintain an outdated perception of the technology, but it is really quite similar to those who argue against wind turbines because of noise and bird kills when really these were only problems with designs from the 1970's.

P.S. how bout thems metals, eh? Here's another one you can ONLY recycle once the rest has been combusted! And plenty more where this came from! :)


I have a contra example, New Orleans post-Katrina.

For a year or two after Katrina, we produced about 10% of the nation's landfill volume.

I still remember applauding when the first garbage truck rolled down the street (only picked up 2 bags/house, but it was a start).

Recycling is zero even today (other than private efforts, I walk to the Euterpe plastics only recycling center, I also leave crushed aluminum cans in a line by the curb for struggling people to pick up. Others do as well).

One reason is that we have plenty of near-by landfills. The city has higher priorities than recycling (a money loser).

A good supply of landfills results in excessive waste and no recycling.


There is no factual basis for your last statement. Again I will cite Naples, Summer 2008, with trash piling up in the streets, schools and businesses closed due to noxious odors spreading through the whole city, which happened 100% as a result of NIMBY.

The problem is not an "abundant supply of landfills." The problem is Professor Pinkhands who has never even seen a transfer station thinking he knows how to handle solid waste.

Alan from Big Easy:

A good supply of landfills results in excessive waste and no recycling.


There is no factual basis for your last statement.

I beg to differ, though by pointing out what happens when the reverse is true.

Toronto has a very aggressive recycling program, with separation at the residential level:Blue bin for recycleables, Green bin separation for organics, grey bin (non-recycleable waste) collection every two weeks (and you are billed yearly according to the size of your bin), and free compost bins supplied by the city.

The reason? We had filled the city's landfills and were sending 140 trucks a day to Michigan, and there was talk of stopping our trash at the border. (The contract expires at the end of this year.) We have since purchased a landfill in western Ontario, but recycling efforts continue, as it is cheaper and more environmentally friendly, as well as allowing some level of "trash sovereignty."

Look east, my friend: to Durham!

CHP is a marginal notion at best, IMHO.

The best system would be home fuel cells making hot water, space heat and electricity from clean natural gas, something like Bloom.
There's also Whispergen stirling cycle generators with heat recovery which produce electricity from natural gas but which would waste heat in the summer.

These district heating systems are very expensive and are only economical in high density cities(Soviet-style apartment blocks) and who wants to live next to a garbage burning incinerator?

Almost garbage can be recycled--in Austria 60% of the municipal waste is recycled, about 30% in the USA.

The US produces 250 million tons of garbage
of low BTU value. You'd burn it and produce mountains of ash, which you could then landfill?

Read the facts before you start spouting opinions! http://files.asme.org/Divisions/SWPD/17157.pdf

I read your article by the Solids Waste Committee of ASME (and doesn't not represent ASME as a whole, etc.)

Sounds you work at a landfill. I would agree that we put too much into landfills but to me that means much more recycling, people should do more composting, etc.

As a resource garbage is not a renewable energy but is a waste by-product.

I have to buy a $3 ticket for my garbage pick up. It would be great for the garbage collection companies if they could turn that garbage into a profit center and reduce their volumes to 50% ash, less to landfill! ('It's win-win.')
Except that recycling would save even more energy for society at large.

A study conducted by the Technical University of Denmark found that in 83% of cases, recycling is the most efficient method to dispose of household waste.


You need not insult my intelligence by posting a wikipedia article on recycling. I don't work at a landfill. I work for the Solid Waste Association of North America running technical training programs for professionals in all areas of the field, including landfills, recycling, waste-to-energy, collection, and everything else. We are a nonprofit professional association, not a trade association. We do not represent anyone's business interests. My interest and support for waste-to-energy is purely intellectual and a conclusion I have come to after reading thousands upon thousands upon thousands of pages and talking to thousands of professionals with real hands-on experience, the kind of experience that people with strong opinions on the subject so often lack. So please don't think you're going to refute that knowledge with a quote from Wikipedia. But I did think it was funny you thought it would discredit me - just like those who work/worked in oil development should never share their experience here because clearly they are biased, right?

"Does not represent ASME as a whole" doesn't mean someone else at ASME disagrees, it just means they only bother expressing positions on issues that relate directly to the other divisions.

The answer, clearly, is a "50-50" solution between recycling and recovering energy. Viewing either combustion or recycling alone as an end-all-be-all is fallacious, as one-size-fits-all solutions always are. But right now we still landfill far too much to even start to talk about getting to 100% recycling, and again it is uneconomical and impractical to even view such a goal as legitimate. The only people who argue for 100% are those with no experience or credibility. Recyling saves more? Maybe, sometimes, depending...but waste-to-energy PRODUCES more! Let's not forget the more materials you try and recycle at once, the harder and more expensive it becomes, and the lower the quality of material you can actually recover. Would you rather have more paper with pieces of broken glass stuck in it?

One size fits all or claiming that there is only one "highest and best use" of a material is always bad news! Always always always! Let's not talk about how recycling is better than burning or vice versa - let's talk about how a combination of both achieves higher benefits than either one alone! Speaking of which, if you ever get one of these torn on a snag, and have to throw one away...here are some more metals you can only recycle POST-combustion!!!


Do I need to give EVEN MORE EXAMPLES????

Speaking of extremely basic information about recycling, you might want to familiarize yourself with the term "kickout." Guess what that means?


Your screen name may be quite appropriate given the unnecessarily argumentative tone of your posts. You make good arguments, but then work against yourself by surrounding them with insults. Uncool. Time to switch to decaf, dude.

Well I'm sorry if you don't like the tone, but this is what happens when idiots with opinions are the ones who get put in charge of making decisions. Don't shoot the messenger, I'm just fed up with ignorance and my patience for those who spout it has dropped to zero.

If you want to see what "unnecessarily argumentative" really looks like, you should see what the folks at the Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance have to say: http://no-burn.org/ And it's not like they are the only ones. Gotta fight fire with fire. And you know what they say about opinions: they are like ***holes, everyone's got one and most of 'em stink. Nowhere could it be more true than here.

I don't like your tone, either. Please try to be more civil, and cut the name-calling.

Again, my apologies for the tone. I won't, of course, apologize for my facts.

No kidding WE - would you rather be effective or "right"? Your grating posts are not going to win any arguments. It is possible to present your data and refute others' data without coming across as a petulant twit.

Sometimes people don't understand the truth until you beat them over the heads with it. And it seems to me I've won a few converts here already, so maybe I prefer a combination of both? You don't have to like me, just the technology. I have enough friends already. I don't mean any ill will toward anyone here, but perhaps it is just a bit frustrating when sounding like a broken record to people who really, truly, should know better.

Sometimes people don't understand the truth until you beat them over the heads with it.

It appears that you are not familiar with the TOD readership, culture or "style" of discussion.

What may work elsewhere does not work as well here. And vica versa.

A nuanced position (not all black or all white), intelligently argued, buttressed with facts and links, typically has the maximum impact.

Best Hopes for Comity, and critical analysis,


PS: I can be as sharp in my comments as anyone, but I try and keep a civil tone. On rare occasions I do post BS !!, but only when I think that it is warranted.

Alan, I should apologize to you personally, and to anyone else who might have gotten caught in the crossfire. You may have misread my comments to imply i thought YOU were an idiot. Not so, I just find it unfortunate that so many people seem so ill informed on something as important as this is, and I suppose my frustrations became evident in some of my comments. It feels too often like talking points from groups like GAIA get repeated here, and I find little excuse for that sort of energy illiteracy among a community like this one, which is probably why that frustration manifests the way you saw. Laying off the caffeine may not be such a bad idea in the end after all ;) But in any case, here is a quote from today's NY Times piece that illustrates the point I am trying to make quite well, I think:

The combined annual greenhouse emissions from hauling and putting this waste in landfills amount to half as much as Con Edison releases to produce the city’s electricity.

It really seems like something people should get on board with and so it is very frustrating to contend with outdated, inaccurate perceptions without fail every time the subject is raised. But...I guess that is just my fault for picking this battle. I hope it is something we can all get on board with, eh?

I appreciate that.

Let me summarize my points.

I am a big fan of CHP. The larger CHPs can, and should, burn some garbage as part of their fuel mix (also some biomass waste such as sawdust, tree clippings if composting is not a viable option).

I am a fan of recycling and composting to the maximum extent possible (not yet done in the USA).

Cheap, close by landfills work against the first two. If it is cheap and easy, it will be wasted. See New Orleans.

I can accept that incineration is preferable to direct to landfill in most cases.


PS: My one good thought about Walmart was that they, and they alone, were able to align their national inventory to keep New Orleans stocked with rat poison. The half store that was open had a pallet as you entered. When it was out (rarely) we were assured that another shipment was coming that night. I know what a collapse of solid waste disposal involves.

That sounds like a reasonable position I can accept :)

I will say that even if you have a landfill close by, there are good reasons to conserve that capacity, whether it is through recycling/composting, combustion, or a combination of all. Keeps disposal costs down when you don't have to haul it far away - but agreed that greater foresight in planning certainly helps there! So if it is true that an abundance of remaining capacity is being used as an excuse to avoid doing better things to recover resources, it shouldn't be - it makes neither environmental nor economic sense.


My point, WE, is that you will be more effective if you try a more civil tone. But if you want to be an irritating twit, that is your business. I don't know how you measure your 'converts', but I'll bet you've turned more people off than you've won over. People really don't like being beaten over the head and insulted.

Sgage, read my comment directly above you for some insight. I will say usually I measure my converts in the number of people who tell me they've been convinced by my arguments. And the only irritating twits I see are the NIMBYists and those spreading misinformation; all I see when I look in the mirror is someone who's MAD AS HELL AND NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!

im mad as hell and think i can take quite bit more. we all will have to. these are just the opening moves.

You're right, I guess there are the business-as-usual twits too!

What can I say though...there are those who love to talk trash about incinerators and probably always will be. I let it get to me a little too much sometimes...

In the event that you stick around this site and with the goal of preserving the culture we've created here, I'll add a comment that you can choose to take constructively or you can call me a twit, too.

I'm just catching up for the day and chose to skip every one of your comments based just on your tone. For one thing, it looks like you've lost the capacity to separate yourself from your opinions i.e. discussing your point of view with you threatens your ego and you become defensive. You have become your opinion.

My reaction to that is to treat your views with even more skepticism because objectivity appears to be gone. Objectivity may not in fact be gone but I have no interest in finding out. I've dealt with enough people whose emotion is running the show rather than their head. It's unpleasant and collaboration is impossible.

Culture you've created? I do believe it's my future too, so why tell me I can't define my stake in it? I make it personal because it IS. Separating personal from political gets us into big messes where we think it is OK to talk a big game about energy conservation and so forth but can't walk the walk when it comes to no driving, low utility bills, and so forth.

Anyway, it seems like the critics would prefer if I just sat down and listed, and rationally and calmly responded to, all the inane comments groups like GAIA make about WTE.

Fine, done and done, months ago: http://wastedenergy.net/2010/02/20/clearing-the-air-why-gaia-and-other-w...

Now do you see why I get frustrated? It has to do with repeating myself over and over and over and over again. It is worth it when I win converts, which I can assure you I often do. When it feels not worth it is when I think, frankly, people are reading more emotion into this subject than there really is, perhaps because they listen to their personal biases more than facts, and therefore interpret any contrary opinion as biased in the other direction. Well, you may want to actually go back through the posts from earlier, then, since 98% of what was there (in between insulting people, apparently) was fact backed up with evidence. And the fact is that the facts on this issue speak remarkably clearly, if people are only willing to get past what they may have heard from those who call themselves environmentalists and look at what actually has a scientific basis. Don't believe everything you read, people; don't we all know by now understand the necessity of critical thinking? If you can believe it, I even once thought as many of you do: I thought incinerators were a dirty polluting technology with little benefit. As it turned out, I was wrong. It was the facts that changed my mind.

All I'm saying is that if you cannot get past a personal bias and accept facts for what they are, that is a personal problem and nothing else. I cannot ask that you like everything about my tone all the time, especially when it does get personal (it is my life's work you all are dissing, after all), but I think it is fair to at least ask people to keep an open mind.

It's clear to me that there is no space for this conversation with you at this time. You seem to be unable to disengage your defense mechanisms.

I request that you please listen to Leanan and use a professional tone with us.

Ahem...I'm trying to just explain here, not make excuses for flying off the handle earlier. I'm not sure what could possibly offend you in this most recent post of mine.

I'm trying to just explain here, not make excuses for flying off the handle earlier.

I understand that that is how it looks to you.

If you can't or won't listen to me for whatever reason, all I can ask, again, is that you seek out the facts for yourself, preferably from individuals and organizations with scientific credibility.

No one is dissing your life's work. They are dissing you because you are an obnoxious dweeb. Get some help or get off the site.

And calling someone an "obnoxious dweeb" who "needs help" doesn't count as unprofessional, uncivil, or name-calling?

I already apologized multiple times for the tone I used earlier, so I'm not sure what you would want, but really all I'm trying to do now is advance the point itself.

I do think it counts as dissing someone's life's work when you dismiss it with, as eric blair put it (and did so himself) earlier, "a wave of the hand" or a fact-free supposition like "it's polluting" - and the point about it the intersection of personal and political ought to be well taken, considering that personal irresponsibility when it comes to energy is perhaps the largest part of our problem here. In any case, there is a difference between stating that one avidly recycles or composts, certainly laudable activities, versus saying these activities form a sound basis for a total MSW management policy or that they can replace disposal. To make such a claim, I would expect examples of places that have successfully done so, but those examples have been slow in coming...probably because they don't exist.

I will assume you are a well-meaning, but overzealous, champion for your cause. But you must understand that your style is abrasive, aggressive, and insulting.

So when you get some comment on that, you shouldn't be surprised. The fact is, you are a borderline troll. Just pushing, pushing, pushing. People get tired of it, and they react. You are not winning any "converts" here, I feel certain. Quite the opposite.

By now, you have a sizable contingent thinking that you are nothing but a shill for your industry. No matter what your "facts" are, that's truly how you come across. So, for the sake of your own cause, please consider modifying your style, because you are ruining your own credibility.

Well, I appreciate that you are trying to give constructive suggestions.

I don't mean to come across as trolling, though I understand that's how it looks to some - it's legitimately difficult to calmly respond to criticisms when it's the same people saying the same stuff for the last 35 years and ignoring how the situation may have changed and acting like this is a "he-said-she-said" issue. Not to mention attacking me personally too now - calling me a shill for industry (I don't even work in an industry) an obnoxious dweeb who needs help, a troll...If the big time wind power supporters had to base every statement on the performance of the Altamont wind farm, I bet they'd get pretty annoyed too, and they'd probably look like trolls too in dismissing the occasional criticism out of hand by saying it's already been answered, or the like. Next time I'll do my best to avoid letting it get personal.

Best Regards,

And calling someone an "obnoxious dweeb" who "needs help" doesn't count as unprofessional, uncivil, or name-calling?

It is, and ordinarily, I wouldn't allow it. But frankly, you're asking for it. If you come here poking sharp sticks into people's eyes, well, don't be surprised if they take a few pokes themselves.

This is why I want you to modify your posting style. It's trollish, and it tends to snowball into a flamewar. Your facts might convince people, but your style is so off-putting that a lot of people who might agree with you have turned against you.

OK. Your point is well taken.

I hope it is clear I am not actually trolling, and that I'd like to have as productive a discussion as possible on this issue. Sometimes we take things a little too personally, on issues we care about a lot especially. This one is important and I'm sure you can understand the frustration of being a broken record and having pot shots taken at something you actually spend a lot of time and effort on. I certainly understand there are better ways of handling that kind of criticism, though, and you have my word I'll do so in the future.

you have my word I'll do so in the future.

Thank you for giving your word to this.

I believe we will all find it rather enlightening to go back to the beginning of this little fire fight and take a look at just WHAT set Wasted Energy off tonight.

I agree he is in need of cooling off , but he was seriously provoked, and nobody except he himself seems to recognize this fact.His mistake imo is that he has transferred his irritation to the other people chiding him.

Some commenters seem to be able to get away with anything they please, and are seldom if ever held to account.

Are some of us a little more equal than the rest?

I noted with approval the NYT editorial recommending waste incineration, but took it a step further and suggested waste incineration as part of the fuel mix for CHPs.

Somehow that was, apparently, seen as an attack on centralized incinerators of garbage (my guess).

And, yes, there is social capital here on TOD. Some are more equal than others because they have accumulated social capital.

Best Hopes,


Not a bad idea for New York City. Burn garbage in central heat and power (CHP) plants to produce electricity plus heat (domestic hot water + space heating) and even some chilled water (low efficiency absorption chillers, but from otherwise waste heat in the summer). Common in Denmark (garbage + natural gas usually) and elsewhere in parts of Europe.


CHP is the most efficient way to burn NG, and the most efficient way to dispose of burnable garbage (except composting food scraps).

Ideally, recycle metal, glass, most paper and plastics. Compost food scraps. Burn most of the rest in CHP with natural gas for electricity, hot water, space heating and chilled water in the summer. Bury the ashes from CHP or incorporate them as aggregate into concrete and asphalt.

Better than hauling most of it to South Carolina for landfill disposal.


CHP can reach 70% (about 60% real world, good set-up, all season) thermodynamic efficiency.

It's possible I missed something that provoked WE but one of the first comments I read starting from the top started with (at 8:31am):

Wrong, wrong, WRONG!!! YOU will ALWAYS generate TRASH!!! Many many people have argued for recycling as an "alternative" to disposal, and all of them were just as wrong as you are!

It continued in the same vein from there. The statements by Alan immediately preceding that one didn't seem provocative to me.

But, to me, the issue is now in the past. WE has given his word to manage his reactions and I'm happy to take him at his word.

In the past is the best place for it,you are absolutely correct, AAngel.

But I wasn't referring to Alan , who is a consummate southern gemtleman, the most polite and cultured kind at all.

[They don't even cuss when they are inviting a mortal enemy to a personal gunfight. ;)]

And I must admit that I was skimming last night, and that I did not catch the whole story IN SEQUENCE.

I stand by my point in general however.

Being an irascle curmudgeonly solitary old bull , I myself tend to get a little bent out of shape from time to time when people ignore the obvious or propose pipe dream schemes, or insult my admittedly limited intelligence.

Wasted Energy had probably just finished dealing with some incredibly stupid subordinate when he posted, and should have gone into a closet to vent by cussing a little, rather than doing so here.

Mostly I have learned how to deal with this by ignoring the more idiotic comments and insults, but every once in a while I forget.

I must say I admire the incredibly good job the editors and moderators do here, there is nothing else like TOD.

The way comments are posted can lead to some confusion as to who is talikng about who, and which comment is in reference to which,unless you are very careful to look at both the time and the sequence.Sometimes a reply winds up a long way from the comment it relates to.I have made a fool of myself in this respect as recently as yesterday, later posting my apology to Darwinian of course.

This is why I almost always open with the handle of the person I am responding to;at least the first possible mistake is there by eliminated.

Thanks, Leanan. I read most posts, and WastedEnergy has good facts and ideas... but he/she wastes far too much energy on vitriol. I look forward to hearing more from WE, and hope that the tone subsides and the facts rise to the surface. Roiled waters will sink a sound vessel. Calm reasoning is the best way to express concerns (about which we all, myself perhaps more than most, become extremely frustrated).

WE: Thanks for being with us... keep reading and when appropriate your comments and facts will be welcome.


The last time Wasted was posting I pointed out the below:


(And it was the toxins up the waste stack that killed the last waste burning project I was the assistant to the PE on the project. Governments tend to look the other way - per the DNR statement 'we need places like this' at the clean air hearings for the local chemical burning plant or the son of the chief engineer telling me his dad said "I pulled the wool over their eyes!")

I'll note the handwaving dismissal of "rants from enviro-crazies." from last time.

So you can choose to believe the guy who job is involved with the burning of waste on an industrial scale that it is all good, or you can look at what is output from the waste stacks like in the above links and find out its not all good.

Perhaps I dismissed it with a wave of the hand because it's already been answered elsewhere. No need to repeat myself and feel even more like a broken record. All that needs to be said about the emissions claims is that they are outdated. If you fear burning trash, you should pay more attention to backyard burning and landfill fires, which produce the same emissions with no filtration!

And to the guy above making comments about refusing to listen to the facts, fine suit yourself, but in the end if you care more about the fate of humanity and the planet than about petty BS then you should give this issue a fair shake.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot - you quoted part of my response from last time, but not the whole thing: I asked you not just to avoid the enviro-crazy rants (which, to be fair, what you posted are) and to post instead performance data from operating plants. As I recall, you did not. So there.

Perhaps I dismissed it with a wave of the hand because it's already been answered elsewhere.

Perhaps that is why. Or how about a different postion - you can't refute what is true.

If you fear burning trash, you should pay more attention to backyard burning and landfill fires, which produce the same emissions with no filtration!

I see. So your response is, in effect, "Please allow large corporations to do large scale burning because such happens on small scales".

Oh, and landfill fires - given the majority are bury options - do show the fires from bury and cap operations do as you claim.

if you care more about the fate of humanity and the planet

Try to add in rhetoric about how it also helps Mom and Apple Pie next time.

this issue a fair shake.

And I ask the readers to learn about the heavy metal emissions from the waste stacks (and the amount of pre-sorting needed to prevent it) - in the interest of the issue getting a fair shake.

And you accuse me of making it personal? Where are your facts - I've posted mine many times. Do fires happpen from bury and cap? In a word, yes - I assure you our course on Managing Landfill Fires is easily among our most popular! It doesn't matter if you plan to put a cap on the waste later; if a hot load gets dumped on top of trash, you better believe it will burn. And then they can, and often do, burn uncontrolled below the surface for years - surface fires are merely a manifestation of what is going on below all the time. Similar things can happen when methane gets mixed in with air pockets and can ignite below the surface of the landfill.

And you know what kind of burning produces the worst emissions? Incomplete combustion. The kind that happens in a partially air-starved environment like a landfill.

Heavy metal emissions are easily controled by fabric filtration and activated carbon injection. There is also no study from the past 20 years demonstrating public health impacts to these emissions, which I asked you for last time but again you did not provide, instead asserting that I had ignored the point. Consider also the product stewardship efforts of WTE operators like Covanta that actively divert mercury and electronics from the waste stream.

Remember - most recent 20 years only, it doesn't matter much what got spewed into the air 20 years ago! The challenge still stands!

Heavy metal emissions are easily controled by fabric filtration and activated carbon injection.

I'm reminded of the tale of a processing plant with a smokestack where the scrubbers failed. Management opted to keep running the operation for years with the failed smokestack controls.

Now - the plant is closed, the LLC that ran it "went bankrupt", and the valley soils are quite heavy with heavy metals and birth defects are over 50% (was it 60% - I don't have the book in front of me) in that valley.

But don't worry! In the Wasted world, no firm would EVER do something like that! And in that Wasted world Smokestacks get technology updates as they happen so the air quality just gets better and better!

In the real world - the world where actual monitoring of smokestacks goes on - one will note that plants get run when scrubbers fail. And if the "local population" "needs" the plant operational for heat or power - if the stack controls are broken for some reason what do you think will happen? Will the plant be run anyway or will the plant operators wait until the emission controls are fixed?

I'm really not sure what the anecdote about an anonymous industrial (not WTE) plant is supposed to show. Again I'll ask - can you point out where and when a currently operating plant has done this?

Usually when the emissions control systems fail - a very rare occurrence since these systems are designed for maximum reliability and few moving parts - the plant is shut down until the problem can be addressed. Backup systems are already in place for scheduled plant outages so there is no reason you'd "need" to keep running the plant just to generate heat.

And usually nuclear plants don't melt down, nor do oil rigs topple over in the ocean, nor oil tankers run aground in Alaska...

Detroit is not too happy with the incinerator they have...


Detroit is not too happy with the incinerator they have...

You are letting facts get in the way again.

CHP is a marginal notion at best, IMHO.

As much as 55% of the electricity generated in Denmark comes from CHP (other sources say 50%). 60% of the domestic heat and hot water as well.

I am sure that Danish architects and urban planners would take offense to "Soviet style apartment blocks".

They are large scale, small scale, residential, industrial parks and commercial center CHPs. A number of them use garbage as part of their fuel mix (AFAIK, no 100% garbage CHPs).

Poor link, but best I could cut and paste.


Best Hopes for CHP, especially in Transit Orientated Development,


As much as 55% of the electricity generated in Denmark comes from CHP (other sources say 50%). 60% of the domestic heat and hot water as well.

No, according to the 2007 IEA.
Denmark produced less than 3859 Gwh of electricity in CHP facilities(waste, biomass,biogas CHPs) out of 38204 Gwh total electricity(10%). The CHP biomass plants produced at ~33% electrical conversion rates
the municipal waste plants at 26%.

The amount of electricity used in all Danish residences was 10349 Gwh and 2099 Gwh came from biomass and biogas of which 2/3 were CHP operations.
Apparently no municipal waste was used for residential CHP, so we shouldn't mix these up.

It seems very unlikely that CHP operations are providing anything like 60% of domestic water and heat, but out of 60184 TJ of heat used by households, 39009 TJ came from biomass
and 26006 from CHP operations or 43% of residential heat from CHP would be an optimistic spin.



Interesting, since my claims came from the Danish Energy Authority (with a crown in the logo, indicating that they are a governmental authority). Usually authoritative !

Still, even the reduced claims are substantial.

I wonder where the discrepancy comes from ?

Natural gas is a main fuel supply for CHPs, with the bio sources being supplements (overall).

It is very easy to route landfill gas to the nearest CHP and burn the landfill gas with the NG. Given the methane production from landfills, a population of X is very unlikely to produce even a tenth of the methane needed to supply their heating needs.

The delta may be your data is for bio-CHP and the DEA #s are for all fuel CHP.

I know of one Swiss CHP (outside Geneva) that uses "selected" municipal waste for residential & commercial CHP. Not sure @ Denmark.

60,184 TJ heat used by households
- 39,009 TJ came from biomass
31,175 TJ

26,006 TJ from CHP

or 83.4% of the non-bio.

I could see where households that use wood/wood chips for heat are excluded (thus <60,184 TJ) but bio-CHP is included. A different parsing of the data could show 60% CHP (bio & NG).

Also, they included domestic hot water, your data set appears to be just space heating.

MajorIan, I must humbly disgree with you here.
CHP is a great option for any multi family building. Even a microturbine style system will produce great results - it does not have to be from burning garbage. You will heat more condos, for less capital cost per residence than you ever can with a Bloom box.
CHP does no mean it has to be a district heat system, although that is a CHP system.

Any building that has commercial sized boilers and air handling units can make use of small scale CHP, far better than a house can with a Bloom Box.

Sweden has made extensive use of such systems.

For burning garbage, that should only be done in proper systems, with proper material handling and emission controls, which by it's nature means larger systems, so you neat larger heat loads (schools, hospitals, warehouses, offices or a district heat system).

As for the ash, well, if you separate out the metals and glass first, you don;t have a lot of ash left. so disposing of that is much easier, even if it means transporting it.

Not all CHP means burning garbage and district heating...

Recycling and composting at scale consume energy! Where ya gonna get it from, fossil fuels?

Huh. Now one could choose to believe the above claim or one can look at the recycling efforts of the Edo period of Japan and nightsoil - a period where fossil fuel input was minimal.

Of course, to make the snark "Where ya gonna get it from, fossil fuels?" the same question about the burning idea - exactly how will the "waste" get to the plant for burning if not for fossil fuels?

You know, Japan had landfills back then too.

You know, Japan had landfills back then too.

You know that your statement is not a rebutal, right?

You restricted the discussion to recycling (thus the material is not "in a landfill") and composting (thus the material is, again, not "in a landfill")

So what point did you hope to show?

Merely to point out that modern recycling and composting systems do, in fact, consume energy, which must, in fact, come from somewhere. It's a valid question to ask where from, not snark. And of course, also pointing out that composting is not an alternative to disposal, which seems to be the point you and others are trying to make here. You can't compost toothbrushes and condoms (and even if you could, would you really want to?)

It just amazes me that valuably repurposing trash by burning it for energy, even with the most advanced pollution control systems in existence, continues to be controversial, in the world we live in where landfills are still so common and litter is still such a huge problem. If you really think recycling everything is the answer, I have to ask: have you taken a look in the gutter lately?

It just amazes me that valuably repurposing trash by burning it for energy, even with the most advanced pollution control systems in existence, continues to be controversial,

Really? You are amazed?

From one of the links upthread:

While Covanta claims that the design and technology of their incinerator system results in low atmospheric emissions of pollutants, the facility continues to produce and emit dioxin from its smokestack in the incineration of chlorinated plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC), according to Bradley Angel of Greenaction. In 2000, Westside Stanislaus residents, Grayson Neighborhood Council (GNC) and Greenaction successfully defeated plans to ship in and burn toxic medical waste at the Covanta incinerator.

Now here we have a Corporation saying 'its all good' (no doubt due to the 'advanced pollution controls') and a different group who is sampling the output who claims otherwise.

So who should be believed - The Corporation doing the buring that everything is A-OK or samples of the output?

(And readers keep in mind that the Wasted response was "eco-nuts" to the claims of improper running of a waste to energy plant.)

I'll point out again that I don't work for a corporation, I work for a non-profit.

But no matter - you should know that dioxins do not form at temperatures above 1500 degrees Fahrenheit, which all modern combustors achieve. Did you know that every WTE plant operating in North America underwent Clean Air Act compliance retrofits in order to eliminate, among other emissions, dioxins, by re-engineering the plants for more uniform and high-temperature combustion? That is more than you can say for any other type of energy generating facility. I wouldn't expect you to know, since again, the information you are reading is outdated. In fact, around 2000 was when the last of these retrofits was being completed.

In any case: Congratulations to the people of Stanislaus County for refusing to take advantage of a sustainable energy source and taking the NIMBY position re: hazwaste. Very commendable. Of course, they still run their combustor, so I guess the anti's didn't totally win.

Merely to point out that modern recycling and composting systems do, in fact, consume energy, which must, in fact, come from somewhere.

Plenty of gardeners have compost piles they don't 'add' 'energy' to - they are moldering types. Others use earthworms that provide the mixing and processing energy. One University takes its kitchen, lawn and Ag waste, dumps it in their worm lot and gets 7 inches of new soil a year.

And yes the recycling of metal uses fossil fuels as I have to load 'em up and take 'em to the scrap dealer. Better than tossing it in one pile that gets only partially sorted at a transfer station.

Typical waste stream burning as you have advocated mixes the organic compostable material with other crap and the resulting ash is then contaimated with heavy metals, PCBs, dioxins and other stuff that was not present in the metals or compostables. Thus the material can't be put back on the land.

Sure, point taken - but not everything breaks down in a timely fashion in such composting systems, which is why large-scale and more energy-consuming systems were designed for municipal scale composting, for materials such as yard waste and source-separated organics. The point remains that not everything can be composted and there will always be residual waste. And the ash is not contaminated with the things you say and is usually disposed in ash cells in regular landfills, taking up 10% of the volume of untreated waste, and which are monitored regularly for leachate and emissions, just like regular landfills.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that criticisms like those you have raised have been taken into account and there has been legitimate, largely successful effort undertaken to rectify the problems that historically existed with these systems. I'm not saying the problems you identify aren't real - just that they have been mostly fixed, and that the information I am citing is more up to date. Modern incinerators are equipped with selective reduction systems for NOx, scrubbers for acid gases, activated carbon injection for metals, optimized combustion systems and flue gas recirculation for dioxins and other partial combustion products, and fabric filter baghouses for particulates and residues of the other pollution control systems - all things that did not exist on the incinerators of the past prior to Clean Air Act Maximum Available Control Technology implementation. Perhaps I should have just explained it this way from the beginning.

And sure, scrap recycling uses some energy, just less than virgin materials, as you correctly pointed out earlier. The point here is that there are metals that can ONLY be recovered post-combustion, e.g. bicycle frames, hose nozzles, It is better to recycle these materials than to leave them forever in landfills, just as it is better to utilize combustible waste to displace fossil fuels (you don't have to mine for trash, remember - it's already there) rather than bury it forever and lose the ability to do so. It's a great wedge against peak coal, and peak metals!

Hi Wasted,

What are your thoughts on Plasco Energy's plasma gasification technology?


It sounds like they'll finally be building a comercial facility after years and years of R&D and pilot plants.


Yields on two year Greek notes hit high interest credit card levels--26%


No stimulus spending there for awhile. Needs 120 billion euro maybe getting 11 so far. Italy
of Germany, France and Italy barely covered it's bond auction yesterday.

Italy sold EUR9.5 billion in six-month Treasury bills Tuesday. But the Treasury received only EUR9.78 billion in bids, offering a razor-thin margin compared with previous debt sales. Moreover, the average yield jumped ...
http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20100428-701502.html?mod=rss_Bonds (paywall)

The fallout from Greece, Portugal developments, the weak results of Italian auction of short-term paper Tuesday that fueled fears of a contagion of the Greek crisis, are only "delaying" an increase in the U.S. 10-year yield, Flanagan said.

"I think people have grossly underestimated the significance of what's happening in Europe," said David Gilmore of Foreign Exchange Analytics, who said the situation is not unlike 2007/2008. "Instead of Lehman triggering a systemic shock, we have the chance of a sovereign debt crisis triggering a systemic shock."

The doves will probably prevail now at the Fed meeting meaning no release of big mortgage holdings. Our current asset bubble, government bailouts and supports, secures our place in line for the Thelma and Louise buffalo jump extravaganza. (credit WT)

Oh and Spain just got it's S&P long term debt rating cut. Italy Ireland?

I wonder if Greece, et al might be better off in the long run to just go ahead and default now, and start living within their means, basically the national equivalent of homeowners "Walking Away" from underwater mortgages.

Would not that cause them to renege on some of their responsibilities as a member of the EU?

I don't know for sure, but I would assume that the answer is yes, but on the other hand many EU countries are not coming close to meeting the EU requirement that they keep their deficits to around 3% of GDP.

Here is an interesting factbox from Reuters, regarding Greek debt:


This year, Greek government spending, as a percentage of GDP, is 51%, while government revenue, as a percentage of GDP, is 42%.

Incidentally, it appears that Greece can't roll over maturing debts coming due in May, so wouldn't a good deal of a Greek bailout technically be a bailout of Greece's lenders?

Regarding the "Thelma & Lousie Grand Prix of Debt Race" (to the edge of the fiscal cliff), it just seems a question of when, not if, that most government entities in developed countries will be facing problems similar to Greece's problems.

So, IMO since it's just a question of when, not if, that governments have to spend what they have coming in, and not more than they have coming in, it seems to me that they are better off if they acknowledge reality sooner rather than later.

Yes, a "bailout" of Greece is essentially a bailout of the lenders who are holding Greek paper. This is probably more of a reason for other nations to "help" Greece than caring about Greeks, per se. It also explains why President Obama is paying public notice to the issue.

All of the nations without enough population growth will experience what Greece is going through. Japan now is at 200% debt of GDP and the population is decreasing - that is a big time bomb waiting to go off.

Nations with growing populations, like the US, can, I suppose, continue to borrow from their unborn grandchildren for some time.

The EU/Euro divergence (not all EU members are Euro members), and the lack of a strong central political system to go along with the Euro central banking - that all seems like a recipe for disaster. With the rise of nativism and xenophobia, Europe can hardly afford for their governmental institutions to go belly up.

I remain convinced that the US is in no where as bad a shape as many other nations. Our problems may be serious, but I think they get over-played in the culture-wars that are going on.

A couple of years ago I mentioned that the upshot of peak oil appeared to me, looking at it from a distance, as one long period of "stagflation" - the gradual loss of purchasing power due to price creep concurrent with job loss/stagnation. It still looks that way to me, even more so. I suspect that this type of economic malaise can continue for some time, until the international political scene becomes so twisted and tense a major war breaks out.

A problem with the European Union is that Germany endured the Weimar Republic hyperinflation and many Germans seem to abhor the idea of repeating it. On another hand, Hungary fared even worse in 1946 when the then-new Communist government deliberately set out to destroy the population's finances, ending up with banknotes issued in denominations of 1020 currency units (100 million 'billion' pengo), but I haven't heard much about their present-day attitude - perhaps the Communists airbrushed the history books. On yet another hand, in other countries - Greece comes to mind - many people make a great show of declaring that they work to live, but they insist on the "right" to help themselves to a living standard, especially state services, more commensurate with living to work.

Despite the constant flow of unctuous declarations from Eurocrat Eurocritters that it's all good, it's hard to see how a set of viewpoints ranging so widely could be reconciled to produce long-term comity - not when the "ever deepening" Union seems merely to be a euphemism for "ever more meddlesome." People who could live and let live under conditions of moderate meddlesomeness may find themselves less able or inclined to do so as ever more petty details of everyday life become centrally dictated.

Break out the popcorn and enjoy the show. A bureaucratic system with the stifling mass of the EU could totter on a while on sheer inertia even if it turns out to be fundamentally unstable; we may be entertained for a very long time.

It seems a sort of investor fatigue will set in with bonds that are now priced such that default risk is increasingly even money or less. Like you I wonder, will it be better to hang on as long as possible or be the first to be rescued back from the brink? Restructuring probably means staying within ones means from then on ,no?

The base of investors willing to invest in the bonds of Spain and other distressed European countries is dwindling. Mohamed El-Erian, the chief executive of Pimco.....is no longer a buyer of Greek debt. Other Pimco executives have also said they have a negative view of the debt in countries on Europe’s periphery....given the losses that European investors have taken on Greek, Spanish and Portuguese bonds in recent months.

http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/28/spains-debt-rating-cut-as-f... (another great overview article IMHO)

It seems this crisis will tend to pit all petitioners basically against each other currying the favor of those bidding the dwindling pile of funds available for investment. The fate of citizens within those lands will probably depend on how skillfully they do this, how overextended are their obligations, how many resources they have to trade, and how their earnings potential appears going forward. There may even be the tendency to hide the real depth of the problem as Goldman may have helped Greece to do.

Of course to this list we here would add how import/FF dependent they are. It looks like a sort of lifeboat triage will will be applied to determine who gets the bailouts and under what terms. How long you going to work them, ect? A more constrained energy picture can only exacerbate the pressure. Fortunate indeed is the consumer nation who took time and money to provide efficient infrastructure and a secure food chain in expectation of a tight energy and financial capital environment.

On destruction of the environment, this person was top of the "rape and scrape" list:

Always amazes me how these types somehow manage to live to be 100...

Interesting too that he lived (and died) nowhere near the messes he helped create (or is that "reclaim") but on a farm in the Shenendoah Valley of Virginia.

He sounds like a real jerk...

One can only hope for karmic retribution in the after life - maybe something like having to spend eternity being very thirsty at the end of a dried up river.

For anybody who's read or seen Cadillac Desert, Dominy is an impossible guy to forget (especially when he referred to himself as the Messiah of water development). Surprising to see (in the LA Times obit) that even Marc Reisner was nervous about meeting with him face-to-face.

To quote Doc Holiday (Tombstone) to Ringo,"He reminds me of me. Now I really hate him".

I have a jaundiced opinion of revisionist history simply because we weren't there. History is more than a collection of stories and facts as best we can assemble them. From what I can recall of that era, (I was pretty young and more interested in being either Batman or Robin), hydro electric dam projects were the great crowning achievements of our modernized society.

Within the mores of society these dam projects definitely fell into the "good" column. Now we know more and the shine has definitely come off jewel. However, I feel it is inappropriate, and perhaps historically irresponsible, to hold someone like Dominy out as a harbinger of The Great Evil. In that time and place would you have done anything different? I highly doubt I would.

But another shining example of hydro electric dam construction for WAC Bennett dam and the Williston Lake reservoir (largest in N.A.), BEHOLD!, the world's largest tree crusher...


Now some people are reluctant to boat on the lake because downed logs are releasing and shooting straight the surface like a 10-ton torpedo.

It's kinda back-assward that here in the logging capital of the world (BC) the one place that DIDN'T get logged and cleared was the area to be flooded by the dams! Let's hope they at least get that right with Site C.

I'll guess that there's a lot of biomass energy in them thar logs!

A lot of Site C flooding is, unfortunately, agricultural farm land and probably an equal amount of trees. We shall see what is in store for the latest in BC's energy act (Bill 17). I could make comment on how they have seemed to take my advice, or was it just so blatantly obvious all along? Probably "b)".

However, I will be collecting on a few bets...

oil market participants chose to believe about long-term fundamentals.

Ok, but who's guaranteeing that those innocent oil market participants aren't actually speculative hedge fund managers? Interacting in the oil market should be restricted only to those who supply or who take delivery, with the government providing any additional liquidity required (we might as well, we'll have to do it anyway).


As far as I am aware no funds - whether speculative hedge funds or ETF's which are hedging dollar inflation - are in a position to make or take delivery of crude oil or oil products. Even on the deliverable WTI contract (which is now almost entirely irrelevant) no broker in his right mind would allow any fund to hold a contract position closer to expiry than Month 2.

So the oil market actually IS de facto restricted in participation in the way you suggest, although a couple of hedge funds are looking to get into the physical market.

Funds' activities have zero direct effect on the oil market price.

My take on what is happening is that ETF fund money is being borrowed by producers - via banking and other intermediaries - against forward sales of oil, and the oil price is being artificially supported at a higher level by this financial oil leasing than would otherwise be the case. The reason for the natgas/oil price disconnect is that gas is a buyers' market, whereas oil is a sellers' market because of the indirect financial buyer participation.

Just think, Cui Bono?

Producers gain from high oil prices; Speculators and Traders gain/lose from high volatility; Investment banks gain, Period; Consumers lose financially, Period.

I understood that a few years ago, a big speculator (Goldman Sachs ?) bought and built tanks at Cushing, OK just so that they could take physical delivery.

Then there are the oil tankers anchored off-shore at various places as speculators hold physical oil at sea.


This is my understanding as well, only I recall it being JP morgan. And since I believe we actually reside in a kleptocracy, I count the SPR. :) I also recall that, during the madness, a barrel of oil was trading on average 27 times before delievery.

Re: 'Methadone' response...

I'm betting on a pessimistic, high-technology future. In this future, we manage to cobble together a hodge-podge of last-minute, jerry-rigged solutions to keep the economy functioning at a basic level, but not at all smoothly or evenly. In it, we lurch from a crisis caused by financial melt-down, to a crisis caused by peak-oil to one caused by climate change. We'll tackle each crisis with incredible ingenuity, staving off total chaos, but at the cost of mis-allocated resources and a deteriorating standard of living. We hold out in the belief that after just this one more fix, the world will be back to normal and we can stop worrying. But that day will never come.

The scenario described does not lead me to believe we would have anything short of civil war and destitution. Ingenuity will have new applications that won't involve solving transit problems through 'transitional' town meetings. If people don't have food, there is chaos that precludes this 'methadone' dream. Act now and forget about all the good times after the arrival of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. No one from the former Soviet Union could write this offering of 'hope.' Sometimes, when things break, they stay broken because they are neither economical to fix, nor even possible. On the other hand, every junkie knows that death solves all problems. Good people can live for years rummaging through garbage and walking. No high-speed trains necessary. Sorry, I need to go clean manure off my truck...

A new Peak Oil investment advice series by Tom Konrad on Seeking Alpha and AltEnergyStocks. First 9 posts collected here.

What do you think? Could rapid investment in alternative energy stocks mitigate some effects of peak oil?

Most of those investments have been thoroughly examined at TOD. Most of those 'investments' seem like terrible ideas to me. I think wind and solar have some real potential and are not even mentioned because the article is not considering sources of energy, but sources of 'energy for transportation'. Consequently, 'electricity' is equated with electric transportation. (Whether that electricity comes from coal, wind, or whatever--he doesn't seem to note the difference in giving 'electricity' an A on 'environment'!). Hydrogen is a joke. Bio-fuels are still net energy losers. In the scorecard, you get the idea of how this author has somehow 'hobbled together' his worldview. Oh dear...


Instead, they ask: “Is it realistic to predict that knowledge accumulation is so powerful as to outweigh the physical limits of physical capital services and the limited substitution possibilities for natural resources?” In other words, can increasing scientific knowledge and technological innovation overcome any limitations to economic growth posed by the depletion of non-renewable resources?

No. It's not realistic to predict that we'll be able to use knowledge and innovation to magically assert the existence of new resources that will not only replace but expand on those already squandered. On what grounds do they use the domain name reason.com?

The RESTART Act would offer federal loan guarantees to mining and refining companies to recreate in five years a domestic rare earth minerals industry.

As Professor Albert Bartlett jokes in his presentation "Arithmetic, Population, and Energy", "Now there's a widely held belief that if you throw enough money at holes in the ground, oil is sure to come up." Apparently, that goes for other nonrenewable resources, as well.

And just think about how much more of our limited endowment of oil we'll burn through in trying to recreate our domestic REE industry...

We keep digging deeper and deeper holes all right - we just happen to be standing in them...

Fellow renewable energy supporters,

Today could be a big day.

I did not see this posted above. As I understand it, in about an hour, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is set to rule on whether the Cape Wind project can go forward. I have been following this story for about 10 years now, and have been hoping that the project goes forward.

Even if he says yes, there are still many battles to be fought over the project.

For those that don't know, its a 450 MW wind project off of Cape Cod, MA.




Let's hope it finally happens and the U.S. starts taking advantage of this enormous opportunity in a real way, like Europe and Asia already have. Which is a worse view to have off the Cape shore, after all, a few turbines or a hurricane? Not to mention all the smoke from that coal plant by the highway!

No turbines in my backyard, but smoke in your backyard is just fine by me!

I personally think that wind turbines are elegant, beautiful technology. I wonder if the Dutch complained about having windmills in their backyards two centuries ago. I would love to look up on our mountains and see wind turbines rotating proudly. It would beat the crap out of looking at the wasteful, arrogant McMansions they've built on all of our ridges. I don't get it.

I agree! Certainly a whole hell of a lot more aesthetically appealing than coal mines or frack ponds, that's for sure!

Me too. I went out of my way to photograph the wind generators in Wyoming off I-80. Don't like the view on the ridge tops? How about some coal from West Virginia where the ridge and mountain tops are simply removed?

smoke in your backyard is just fine by me!

Yes, this is established with your pro burning position.

Except I don't see any smoke coming out of here!


Shall we check the landfills you seem to prefer?


What a rhetorical trick!

Pictures of plants not operating and of a landfill fire.

Do I "win" if I post 2 pictures to plants operating and 2 pictures of landfills not on fire?

Is it a "win" if I post 3, 5, 8 or even 13 pictures of smokestacks smoking and landfills not on fire?

Sure, you'd win! But just to lay out the ground rules first:

1. Make sure the pictures are not from 25 years ago
2. Make sure it is actual smoke you are looking at and not just a vapor plume.

For the record, the plant is more likely than not operating in that picture. They tend to run 24/7/365 except for scheduled maintenance outages. The odds that picture was taken during one are quite low.

I have plenty more pictures where mine came from if you'd like me to share. There is really no trick here, but you seem to think every example and every piece of evidence I provide showing WTE is a clean, reliable, proven renewable energy source is the exception rather than the rule, so I doubt you'll ever be convinced!

For the record, the plant is more likely than not operating in that picture.

So you lied and got caught.

You represented a position that you knew the status of the plant and, for the record, you don't know the status of the plant.

I provide showing WTE is a clean, reliable, proven renewable energy source

Clean - as demonstrated by measurements from stacks this claim is verifiable as false.

Oh and hint: Waste is not renewable.

Waste not renewable? Over 50% of the energy is from biomass...it avoids emissions of methane from landfills which more than offsets the anthropogenic CO2. And considering its use competes with nothing - unless you are one of the types who think 100% recycling is feasible - it would seem to me to be more renewable than biomass! Recall also that the earliest definitions of "renewable" meant available on a continual or renewing basis...it was only very recently that the term was redefined to mean "carbon neutral." Although WTE is too, when net emissions are considered. And I'm not sure what could meet that older definition better than trash!

In any case, I didn't "get caught lying," have you ever actually visited one of these plants or even driven by one on the highway? I have, the only thing I have ever seen blowoff from the steam cycle, and occasionally, in cold weather, a vapor plume. Like I said, it is more likely than not that the plant is operating, and I am more than happy to provide you with more pictures of plants, while they are operating. Here ya go:


Stack measurements - did you provide the data I asked for? I don't see them yet, although perhaps if you can point me in the right direction that would be helpful. Do you mean to have a productive discussion now, or are you just trolling as I have been accused of doing?


I'm passingly familiar with the Muscoda, WI WTE plant. Absolute colossal failure:


They were too tempted by the energy contained in plastics to recycle them, and instead burned them. Totally screwed up the plant, emitted all sorts of crap from the stack. Eventually destroyed the plant through mismanagement. Even though it started up in 1990, it was shut within a couple of years. The site is now bare.

Recycling as much as possible has little potential for harm. I would support WTE plants, as long as they recycle as much as possible up front, and a waste reduction policy was in effect to begin with.

But be aware that there are reasons for people to be NIMBY's about these things.

This is as good a place to place my comment.

The whole waste stream needs to be addressed. Why do we have so much packaging, why can't we make packaging out of biodegradable plastics, and materials that will not harm the environment if they lay on the ground or get in our streams?

While it is true that someone living 5,000 years ago, had a waste heap to throw things into. We modern people have a love afair with throwing things away.

In my design work I try to reduce the wastful nature of building, both a home, and in the landscape.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future.

I agree. Diapers are another huge waste item. We use cloth now, but we would fill up huge bags when we had regular diapers.


Good news. Salazar said Okay.
If the mojave solar farm starts to move ahead, that would really be good news. There is no free lunch for energy development, and that one will kill a few desert tortoises.


Now if only someone could outmaneuver Feinstein and her objections to Mojave CSP.

What if there was data that could show the CSP changes the environment that could change the desert to arid or perhaps tropical?

Is there a way to modify the Eq so it can collect dew and concentrate that water?

it's still funny how we choose to look at desert as wasteland, when we've created so much of it ourselves, in toxic industrial sites, and abandoned or misapplied land. Hell, Rooftops are really 'truly deserted' spaces .. wasted is the right word. and I wonder how much solar could be collected in the cloverleafs on our highway system?

I do think about your suggestion though, using the space with collectors to also work beneficially for the environment that it is in.

Funny, I was kicking around some ideas about greening the worlds deserts this morning, wondering if this would be a wise project to allocate some of our last days of ancient sunlight. It dawned on me, do the deserts have a significant albedo effect? Would greening the Gobi raise surface temps?

Depending on what you think is "the truth" it seems many deserts are of Man's making so yea - might not be a bad plan to see what could be done. I don't know of many research papers/projects on arid re-wet-ification beyond claims of the Brad Lancasters/drip irrigation where if one saves and stores water one can make the desert bloom.

I posted about some bacteria + sugar + sand -> sandstone reaction a long time ago on TOD. In that thread there was one gents plan to be able to make the desert inhabitable via making structures with that reaction. Somehow the structures would re-green the desert.

Even a design change that could capture dew and direct into small saucers/habitats could lead to a net increase in the desert critters. But if no one studies the idea - no one will know.

( http://www.globalcoral.org/pemuteran_coral_reef_restoration.htm shows how adding electricity to coral reefs makes the coral grow - thus off shore wind turbines could also re-grow the 'desert' the ocean is becoming. We know this because people are experimenting and I'd bet that, with research, some positive effects on wildlife could be arranged with the CSP projects)

have you seen these? I think we discussed them a few years back
and after the money ran out
digging those swales would be alot easier with cheap FF
I'd like to see what bio-char and some specific mycelium could do to help this process along

I'd like to see what bio-char and some specific mycelium could do to help this process along

Bio-char - got any data on its ability to hold onto water in the soil?

this makes it sound inconclusive but hopeful, esp. regarding sandy soils
Source site

Iceland has made significant advances developing methods in first replanting their deserts, and, in many cases, reforesting them.

Photos of Icelandic deserts


Icelandic Soil Conservation


Best Hopes for Reforesting Icelandic deserts.


and I wonder how much solar could be collected in the cloverleafs on our highway system?

I read somewhere about a decade ago, that we have paved over an area larger than the state of Ohio. So if we could figure out how to cover roads and parking lots, as well as roofs there is more than enough avaiable.

Some deserts are best left alone as the soil structures have been placed over time in such a way as to gather what moisture there is and channel it to the plant roots and sub soils. Take the land that used to be there outside what is now Las Vagas the pebble like finish has been ripped up and now they get dust storms all the time. That pebble like finish held dust below the top layer, and helped Mulch the ground.

Unless the area in question was caused by man's actions, most areas have their own niche eco-systems.

Mankind has for eons thought that they had to control nature, and in reality all we have to do is learn to live within it and only change little things. We don't do enough observing of the landscapes before we go in and change the heck out of them.

Granted there are landscapes where one species of plants have taken over, even in native areas( not many of them left in the world), but in general the places we now see that have only one kind of plant taking over the whole area, has had that species of plant introduced by man.

Kudzu killing forests, Privets claiming forests, are two examples I can think of, there are many others.

That is the one thing I as a Landscape Architect have to be mindful of in my planning in my BioWebScape designs where I bring in other than native species of plants to use for food. Not to cause an invasion of the area if this or that plant goes wild.

Parking lots should be covered in solar collection grids, it is all the wasted human used land that should be covered as well as those bits of land that we otherwise thing are wastes( because we don't know what species might be usign the place while we aren't looking.).

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future.

Well, there is a CSP in the Mojave already - between Boulder City and Searchlight NV - Solar One. When I drove by it a few weeks ago looked like they were expanding it to double capacity too. Of course if it uses water to generate the steam that could be an issue in the desert (not far from the Colorado river there of course).

As for California-based CSP's, I actually was on a rock-climbing trip with the US Dept of Wildlife officer tasked with reviewing these Mojave projects for their impact on desert tortoises (and other wildlife). Some areas are fine, some not so much. One proposed site has no impact on the tortoise, but is in the sand migration pattern for dunes out there - he had no objection to that site, but thought it pretty stupid as it will get sandblasted daily. With federal grant money getting slung around pretty fast right now, there are a lot of dumb proposals along with smart ones. One company in California is starting to build CSP's on pre-used (and abandoned) agricultural land. This seems a clever approach as the land has already been diverted from a pristine state, so impact is minimal.

As sf noted, Salazar gave his OK to the project. Here is a link to the DOI press release:


“After careful consideration of all the concerns expressed during the lengthy review and consultation process and thorough analyses of the many factors involved, I find that the public benefits weigh in favor of approving the Cape Wind project at the Horseshoe Shoal location,” Salazar said in an announcement at the State House in Boston. “With this decision we are beginning a new direction in our Nation’s energy future, ushering in America’s first offshore wind energy facility and opening a new chapter in the history of this region.”

I think this is a huge victory for renewable energy in this country, but also highlights just how tough a fight it will be. They've been arguing about this for over a decade, and construction still has not started. If we are to build a renewably powered country, this lead time will need to be drastically reduced.

My favorite line from the press release (emphasis mine):

Under these revisions, the number of turbines has been reduced from 170 to 130, eliminating turbines to reduce the visual impacts from the Kennedy Compound National Historic Landmark;

Give me an f'ing break!

This is probably a ridiculously stupid question but couldn't they just move the turbines a bit further off shore...

As it is now, how many days will they truly be visible ? I would think that given the salt spray from the sea, Nor'easters, general haze on hot summer days, fog, seagulls, sailboats etc. and all the other things that typically obscure the view along a seashore there would probably only be a grand total of about 20 crystal clear days where you'd even get to see the things anyways...

Economics require shallow water. Closer is better for laying power cables.


In addition to Alan's points, these are going into Nantucket Sound, so as you get farther away from the Cape, you get closer to Nantucket, so as you stop threatening the views of the extremely rich, you endanger the views of the ridiculously rich.

I think this is an important thing to keep in mind: how powerful NIMBYism can be. They don't get much more progressive than the Kennedy's, but they fought this thing tooth and nail. James Lovelock (of GAIA fame) is one of the leading voices on climate change, but rails against wind energy because he doesn't want his pastoral English countryside views "ruined".

Personally, I don't understand the asthetic objection to windmills, I think they look quite nice.

I'm with you Consumer. It's all in the eye of the beholder, isn't it. I live just across the highway from the largest refinery in the US. And I don't mind the appearance. In fact, I like it even more at night: all the lights remind me of Christmas. Really. And it's not because I'm in the biz. It's just me. But then again, I've been known to put jalapeños in my vanilla ice cream.

I'm concerned a cayenne and habanero fiend but I haven't tried jalapenos in vanilla ice cream. How does it taste?

paleo -- it's your basic hot and sweet thrill. I like the jalapenos flavor but not so much habs and cayenne. The cayenne spike comes too far behind the sweet for my likes.

Consumer -

I'm on your side with the windmills - a bunch of them have been built in the past few years on ridges outside of the town I grew up in Western New York.

Hills that I had looked at thousands of times in my youth have taken on a whole new draw to me - I can't take my eyes off of them now when I'm in the area. They are amazingly graceful... something so large in motion yet so silent - it almost doesn't seem right...


Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending April 23, 2010

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 15.0 million barrels per day during the week ending April 23, 278 thousand barrels per day above the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 89.0 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging 9.2 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 4.2 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 9.7 million barrels per day last week, up 68 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 9.4 million barrels per day, 170 thousand barrels per day above the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 985 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 252 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 1.9 million barrels from the previous week. At 357.8 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 1.2 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 2.9 million barrels, and are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 3.6 million barrels last week and are in the upper half of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 12.9 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

U.S. crude extends losses after big EIA stock build

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil futures extended losses on Wednesday after government inventory data showed that domestic crude stocks rose more than expected last week.

They'll have to update that as it's back up at $82.73 right now.

Maybe they should just use "Oil Price Moves Up and Down in Waves"

Oil prices up slightly as supplies grow again

It's just noise that financial reporters are required to generate to fill some news agency quota.

I'm not one to slavishly follow textbooks I was taught from a half century ago, but it seems to me that half of what passes as analysis of oil prices is mostly smoke and mirrors.

A chain of reasoning to support my point:

Although what the final consumer does is subject to his own expectations and varies over time with his level of confidence,he buys a given amount , more or less, of oil and oil based products, based on the current price, at any given time.He can change his behavior a lot over an extended period , but not very much in the short term.We got rid of our three speed four hundred cubic inch pickup truck over the long term, trading it for a much smaller and far more efficient truck, but in the short term, we can't do much more except cut out a few trips and combine some few trips.

Now the local service station operator doesn't give a real hoot about the price of gas;all he really cares about is his spread-his markup per gallon.

Likewise the trucker who delivers it does not care ,except for the part he uses himself;all he cares about is that he gets a decent rate for hauling it.

A refinery operator doesn't care either; forty a barrel, or eighty a barrel, it's very little difference to him, so long as he can add a
satisfactory amount to the price when he sells.

Ditto the tanker operator, the pipeline operator, and everybody else-EXCEPT THE PEOPLE who actually decide how much to produce at a given market price, the people who either own the stinking stuff in the ground, or the right to extract it on shares.

The supply would seem to be determined by how much the producers will bring, or are able to bring, to market , over the short term to medium term, at any given price.If they are able and willing ( I haven't forgotten OPEC) to bring more to market,at any given price, the price must fall, unless the excess goes into storage.

Of course a lot of people trying to buy up actual production and put it in storage in anticipation of near term price increases could probably force up the price a few dollars but only for a few weeks or months.Concievably oil could continue to be put into storage for as long as a year, but from reading here it does not seem there is any storage space available to keep stashing more as long as that , unless it is pumped back into the ground somewhere.

Sooner or later the stockpliers must sell thier stash, and this would appear to put an equal amount of downward pressure on prices when they do sell..

The net result should be a price wash over a period of a year or more.

In the big picture , a year is a pretty short time frame.The only reasonable conclusion is that oil prices are determined by the fundamentals over any reasonably long time frame, subject to the actions of OPEC;and that the producers outside OPEC are not able to pump any more than thier current production.

I stand ready to be corrected , but only in relatively plain language, please.

Those businesses you mention, tanker operator, pipeline operator, refinery, etc., report their best 'guesses' of how much inventory they have on hand each week to the EIA. But the EIA actually only gets reports from little more than about half of those holding inventories, so the rest is just estimated.

Thus the weekly EIA report is subject to some dramatic corrections, they may take a few months or more to fix. But as you say, whether the weekly report is reliable or not, even slow long term changes in demand and supply will eventually have an impact on prices. That's because even though it sounds like we have lots of oil and product inventory, most of that is tied up (stored or shipped) in the ordinary business of getting the product to market. So very small changes in supply/demand will create competitive bidding - or the reverse - for the marginal supply available.

In the end, even without speculators, we could see wild and swift price swings for oil, and if there is not any more to be had because of peak oil, the price can rise very rapidly.

Re: Saudi Arabia global oil exports to wane post-2010 (uptop)

As I noted yesterday, Saudi Arabia has basically noticed the problem that Net Export Math* poses for oil importing countries.

*Given a production decline in an oil exporting country, the resulting net export decline rate will exceed the production decline rate and the net export decline rate will tend to accelerate with time, unless the oil exporting country cuts their domestic consumption at the same rate that their production declines (or cuts their consumption at a rate higher than the production decline rate).

And I would have reworded the headline to read as follows: "Saudi Arabia global oil exports to wane post-2010, as their net oil exports have been below their 2005 rate since 2006"

The Saudi Oil Minister should be citing Mr. Brown's excellent work in the ELM, but I doubt it will happen. You'll just have to settle for kudos on The Oil Drum.

When the implications and tangible effects of the ELM really hit home, a more likely scenario is a firing squad for messengers like me.

In round numbers, and based on Sam's projections, as of the end of this year Saudi Arabia, Russia, Norway, Iran and the UAE will have shipped around one-third of their post-2005 cumulative net oil exports--while Chindia's combined net oil imports have probably risen from 19% of (2005) top five net oil exports in 2005 to around 33% in 2010.

Better invest in a lime green Volvo bicycle soon, and find a scapegoat (CERA ?) to blame. Plus alternative identity papers.

Best Hopes for Jeffrey !


Alan, I'm right there with you, although maybe on foot for now, until enough cars disappear from DC that I can ride my bike safely instead!

I hope S.A.'s production decline and increase in its domestic consumption does not mean more emphasis on exploiting domestic resources and hence offshore drilling disasters and all the many and sundry consequences. But I suspect it probably will - the BAU types don't want people putting 2 and 2 together and realizing these things are direct consequences of our fossil dependence. And as long as there is money to be made, someone will try it whether it is tar sand, deepwater, shale oil, whatever, no matter the environmental consequences or human casualties. Perhaps Einstein missed one thing that is also limitless: human greed!

Lime green?

An "inside" joke for us TOD old timers.

Westexas once said that to avoid being hung for being an oil profiteer (i.e. geologist) as everyone else was suffering, he would avoid being publicly ostentatious by driving a "worn" lime green Volvo with liberal bumper stickers.

I substituted the more appropriate (for ELM 2.0) bicycle for his earlier Volvo. But kept the color >;-)


I was chatting with one of my office neighbors (also in the awl bidness) a couple of years ago in the parking lot, as he was about to get into his large, very expensive Mercedes sedan, and I commented that maybe Oil Patch types should be driving something inconspicuous (or ostentatiously cheap, like an old lime green Volvo), but he noted that always has his handgun with him. I replied that what would worry me was some guy in a pickup, who just lost his job, coming up from behind him taking a potshot at some rich guy in a Mercedes. (I assume that all Texas pickup drivers are armed--and they just lost their job, their dog and their wife, and they just left a bar.)

Incidentally, speaking of Texans & their guns, don't all governors go jogging with laser sighted semi-automatic pistols?


The world truly is a more interesting place with Texas in it!

So if I paint my incinerator lime green, does that mean people will stop taking pot shots accusing me of being an industry shill? ;)

Probably not. Incinerators will ALWAYS get trashed.

No, incinerators will not always get trashed, but industry shills will. Maybe you should paint yourself lime green :-)

You can quit giving the guy a hard time already, he's obviously no more a shill than I am for nuclear or WT is for oil and he has admitted his connections.

More to the point, his rebuttals have been amazingly coherent for somebody who lost his temper so dramatically earlier.

So enough of the trash talk, or I'll find an XKCD that applies (and there's *always* an XKCD that applies).

It wasn't trash talk. He had a smiley, I had a smiley. I have a feeling he can handle it.

And I threatened you with XKCD (http://www.xkcd.com/) for trash talking the waste processing expert.

Honestly, I didn't even *see* the smileys, but I couldn't take it too seriously even then. ASCII is horrid at subtlety.

(Oh, and I couldn't find one that works yet, but give me time...)

There's gotta be one that works - just a matter of finding it! At least the hunt will be amusing :-)

What a difference a few years make. Just 3 years ago we were begging anyone, anywhere in gov't, big oil, or even just a tiny little semi-VIP to admit we are at or near peak. We salivated over the slightest inference of an admission. Then in '07 we had a couple studies come out that said it, but from NGO types and that student... and al Husseini let it be known KSA would never produce more than 12.5 mb/d... and - my! - weren't we all excited?

In the article linked above the KSA admits PO, and specifically someone states Ghawar is declining and will continue to do so...

We have, Ladies and Gents, Peak Oil admitted by Kuwait, the US military and Aramco all within the space of, what? ten days or so and what do we have here at TOD?

A collective, "KSA says peak. Hmm. Hey, Alan, about that green bicycle..."

Life, it is a strange animal, indeed.


It seems human nature is that as efficiencies increase in fuel consumption, people therefore drive more:

EEA TERM Report Finds Efficiency Gains of Clean Vehicle Technology Being Offset By Ongoing Increases in Travel


Yes, one of the biggest myths out there is that efficiency decreases energy use. Usually, it does the exact opposite.

See the Khazzoom-Brookes Postulate:

In short, the postulate states that "energy efficiency improvements that, on the broadest considerations, are economically justified at the microlevel, lead to higher levels of energy consumption at the macrolevel." [2] This idea is a more modern analysis of a phenomenon known as the Jevons Paradox.


During Energy Descent efficiency may help spread decreasingly available energy around more than otherwise but Energy Descent is a very, very different economic context than what we have now. I call it the Scarcity Economy and Greer calls it Scarcity Industrialism.

Funnily enough, in neither of our views is human labor scarce — just resources.

There's something about referring to Khazzoom to understand the effects of car-engine efficiency... you can't make this stuff up...

In regards to the article about Mexico discussed up top, the comments concerning the Chicontepec field indicate what I've said here before: Chicontepec may be one of the best examples of falling EROEI we have. Not only have expectations of output have fallen swiftly, but costs have risen. In fact, it is even up for debate whether Mexico is better off not developing this field.

If anyone knows something about Chicontepec that I am missing, please let me know. Otherwise, when combined with platform accidents elsewhere in the GOM, one wonders if we shouldn't just stop where we are in the GOM before it literally becomes an energy sink for new projects.

As I noted a few days ago, Chicontepec (onshore Mexico) and Neptune & Thunder Horse (both deepwater GOM) are recent case histories of actual production falling far short of projections.

Gulf Oil Spill 5,000 barrels/day, not 1,000


I dread this one, Exxon Valdez redux,


Important but sobering commentary. Sorry to hear this one, Alan.
Best hopes for rapid containment at the riser.

Is it possible, they will not be able to contain it, and it will continue to leak until there is no more oil in that resevoir?

Not sure Perk. There is this huge containment dome which is being built.

"This is the first time this has ever been done. This idea didn't exist until now. It has never been fabricated before."

There is a 'relief well' being drilled.
Tomorrow I'm going over on the Spill thread and ask some questions..

Ok, forget about the oil leak for a moment for this huge ethanol nugget, that just happens to occur on the same day the oil spill is estimated to be 5 times greater. Such magnificant political timing! Obama wants to TRIPLE ethanol production. The article is actually about Crist switching to independent in Florida, but the photo and caption are about Obama meeting with experts on ethanol - look at the jars Obama.

We are now going to triple a negative or at best zero net energy source?!


What is in that second jar? I can't figure out why that picture is tied to that article either.

They are just going to push growing sugar cane on the white house lwan, or maybe corn in every city park, nothing to worry about. We'll have plenty of water to plant corn to get sugar to get ethanol to get a replacement for oil, Honest who needs to eat?

Every city would only have to sponser the idea of growing corn instead of lawns and the problem will be solved.

Rant off.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

EROEI/Net Energy is junk science. It only has some validity when like forms of energy are being compared.

Obama understands it.

There is a large gain in utility (usefulness) when corn and natural gas are transformed into a liquid fuel compatible with the structural mandates of vehicles on hand and the liquid fuel distribution system.

These gains in utility outweigh low return on energy. The same thing is true of electricity from fossil fuels which has negative energy return by about half.

When a form of energy is more useful it makes up for its less energy content.

It's kind of a "brains" verses "brawn" thing. Electricity is sort of "smart" while coal, natural gas or nuclear energy are kind of "dumb". They can't power computers, TVs or other electrical devices by themselves without electricity.

The same is true with ethanol. Corn can not power current vehicles on the road nor can natural gas or coal. But when they are transformed into a liquid fuel that is compatible with gasoline in the form of ethanol, they become "smart".

This dramatic increase in utility makes the low or negative energy returns moot; i.e. "brains" beats "brawn". The higher energy content fuel is relatively useless because it is "stupid".

Don't believe all the EROEI/Net Energy malarkey. These concepts apply only when like forms of energy in and out are being compared as in the case of oil powered oil wells or coal powered coal mines back in the day.

When energy forms change during energy in/out comparisons, there is the possibility of dramatic increases in utility that offset low energy return or loss.

Things that are different can not be compared. If they are anyway the result is silly nonsense.

There is a large gain in utility (usefulness) when corn and natural gas are transformed into a liquid fuel compatible with the structural mandates of vehicles on hand and the liquid fuel distribution system.

that's great if we can only find a utility for rat racing up and down the highway to nowhere.

"When energy forms change during energy in/out comparisons, there is the possibility of dramatic increases in utility that offset low energy return or loss.

Things that are different can not be compared. If they are anyway the result is silly nonsense."

Saying that converting one thing to another results in an increase in utility is COMPARING DIFFERENT THINGS. You seem extremely confused and hung up on your "can't compare different things" mantra. Of course you can! You can say this is better than that, this is more efficient than that. Heck, you're doing it all the time.

In any case, where is the dramatic increase in utility in turning a gallon of petroleum into a gallon of ethanol?

In any case, where is the dramatic increase in utility in turning a gallon of petroleum into a gallon of ethanol?

If you can show me someone using a gallon of (liquid) petroleum to produce a gallon of ethanol, I will show you a broke ethanol producer.

To be accurate, the only liquid petroleum being used is the diesel for the tractors, combines, trucks etc, and this amountds to a small fraction of the energy invested into ethanol production.

While most distilleries have been using NG for their distillation heat, some are finally waking up and starting to use lower grade fuels. The best method, of course, , is to use waste heat from a coal/gas/nuke power plant, like this company is doing;

Distillation is one of the few large scale industrial process that needs temperature of less than the boiling point of water, so there is an immense amount of industrial waste heat available to power distillation. It is also a better use for solar energy - mid temp hot water - than trying to do concentrating solar thermal for electricity.

So, ethanol can be made without using large (direct) fossil fuel inputs, and is made with minimal liquid fuel inputs.

Unfortunately, it does, still, have lots of subsidy inputs, and therein lies the real problem....

One of your best written arguments to date.

However ...

There is no large scale economic use for nuclear heat, steam coal (not useful for steel making and few use coal for heat or cooking any more), falling water or blowing wind except to make electricity.

There are multiple large scale economic uses for natural gas today, and Pickens is pushing for it's use directly in transportation (technically feasible).

So natural gas is NOT "dumb". Natural gas, like oil and electricity, is a higher grade form of energy (truly the ideal source of heat for space heating, water heating and industrial processes and can be 50% more efficient than coal/BTU to make electricity with *FAR* fewer emissions). NG can also make fertilizers, and is the best source of hydrogen for plastics, petrochemicals and upgrading low grade oil.


I have been wanting to ask you, why did the farm lobby go after ethanol and not soy-diesel ?

Soy-diesel has a higher EROEI than ethanol, diesel is used for more critical applications than gasoline, Soy-diesel is a closer substitute for petro-diesel (95% energy density of diesel from vague memory vs. 60% for ethanol/gasoline, can be mixed with petro-diesel in any ratio), AFAIK soy-diesel can be pipelined while ethanol requires rail cars or trucks for transportation and just about any farmer that can raise corn can raise soybeans.

And VERY importantly, soybeans do not create a vast dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico every year, killing our fisheries, like corn does. As you know, high corn yields require vast quantities of nitrogen fertilizer while soybeans fix their own nitrogen (some times that is supplemented with modest amounts of N fertilizer).


why did the farm lobby go after ethanol and not soy-diesel ?

And why don't they tell you that they can run their tractors on soybean oil without converting it into soy-diesel? Yet another unanswered rhetorical question.

This is an old farmer's trick: if you run short of diesel fuel, mix soybean oil into it. The tractor runs fine on the mixture. If you want to run on straight soybean oil, it requires a conversion kit, and you have to start the tractor on diesel first. Once it's running you can cut it over to 100% soybean oil. Other vegetable oils work equally well. Heck, the original diesel engines ran on vegetable oil before they invented diesel fuel.

The real reason they are promoting corn ethanol is that they are generating a huge amount of corn that is very expensive to grow, and they need government subsidies to make the process economic. The fact that it requires huge amounts of nitrogen fertilizer to make it work is something they try not to mention.

Another thing they don't mention is that, unlike corn, soybeans fix their own nitrogen. In fact, farmers who can't afford nitrogen fertilizer can grow soybeans first, and let the soybeans put nitrogen into the soil for their corn crop.

However, soybeans don't produce the yields per acre that corn does, so that is why they are promoting corn ethanol. If they get enough government subsidies, corn is much more profitable.

There is a large gain in utility (usefulness) when corn and natural gas are transformed into a liquid fuel compatible with the structural mandates of vehicles on hand and the liquid fuel distribution system.

There are a couple of problems with that.

The first is that corn is food, and the world has gotten used to having cheap supplies of American corn. When you turn corn into ethanol to run American cars and SUV's, it causes food riots in Mexico.

The second is that natural gas works perfectly well as a transportation fuel. When I worked for oil companies we used to run our field vehicles on natural gas because 1) we had lots of cheap natural gas associated with the oil operations and, 2) we had lots of compressors. It was just a matter of putting CNG tanks on the trucks and putting NG conversion kits into the engines.

The real reason that the US is focussed on ethanol fuel is that the US corn-growing industry likes government subsidies, and this is a really good concealed subsidy for the corn growers. It doesn't do anything to solve the fundamental problem that the US is running out of cheap oil and needs to restructure its economy and society to take that into account.

If the US converted its entire corn production to ethanol, it would only replace about 12% of oil consumption, and people in third-world countries would starve to death as a result.

A problem is that converting coal or natural gas to liquid fuel by way of corn seems to be a Rube Goldberg contraption with great potential to mess up the food supply as it's scaled up (even if there might be a limited, sensible local niche market for it in corn-growing areas.) If we want to convert coal and gas to liquid fuel on a major scale, why not simply do it directly, via chemistry, rather than via corn?

"When a form of energy is more useful it makes up for its less energy content."

No, it doesn't.

"Things that are different can not be compared. If they are anyway the result is silly nonsense."

Like comparing lower energy content fuels with making up for lost usefulness, that kind of silly nonsense?