Drumbeat: April 30, 2010

Putin stuns Ukraine with surprise gas deal

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Russia offered on Friday to merge gas giant Gazprom with Ukraine's state energy firm Naftogaz, to a furious outcry from Ukraine's opposition accusing Moscow of trying to destroy Ukraine's independence.

Since the election in February of Kremlin ally Viktor Yanukovich as Ukraine's president, ties with Moscow have rapidly improved with accords on gas pricing and a lease extension for a key Russian naval base in Ukraine's Crimea.

But Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's proposal was Russia's boldest move yet and would allow Moscow to control its gas transit to Europe. Ukraine's opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko said the deal was part of "a plan to destroy Ukraine."

U.S. natgas rig count resumes climb, up 2 at 958

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the United States rose by two this week to 958, according to a report on Friday by oil services firm Baker Hughes in Houston.

It was the 17th climb in 18 weeks, after a one-week reprieve when the rig count declined 17 last week.

Scenarios: Impact of oil spill on U.S. climate bill

(Reuters) - A massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is unfolding just as the U.S. Senate was on the verge of considering climate change legislation that included an expansion of offshore oil drilling.

CEOs: Gulf oil spill 'a real setback' for industry

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will significantly set back industry efforts to increase offshore drilling, the CEOs of two Oklahoma City-based independent energy companies said Friday.

Current oil prices sustainable: Al-Naimi

(MENAFN - Arab News) Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi warned on Wednesday that politically motivated policies in major oil consuming countries to reduce oil imports or push new forms of energy could put the world's energy security at risk.

The minister added that he thinks today's oil prices are at "more sustainable levels".

He also repeated his support for current prices, which, at nearly $83 a barrel, are slightly above the $70-$80 band that he has said is ideal for producers and consumers.

Saudi Arabia to Cut Heavy Crude Price as Fuel Oil Profit Falls

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world’s biggest crude exporter, may lower the official selling price of its June-loading Arab Heavy grade as processing profits for refiners producing fuel oil have declined.

Arab Heavy, the densest grade, may be cut by 20 cents a barrel from the May price, according to the median estimate of a survey of nine refiners from South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, India, Singapore and China. The company, known as Saudi Aramco, is expected to issue prices next week. Arab Light, Aramco’s largest export type, may increase by 10 cents a barrel, the survey found.

Refiners are facing an oversupply of fuel oil in Asia after 4 million metric tons of imports from Europe swamped the region in April. Another 3 million tons are expected in May. Refiners with a limited ability to upgrade the product into higher-value fuels may suffer losses buying heavier crudes.

Conoco restarts Wilhelmshaven refinery after 6 months

TORONTO (Reuters) - ConocoPhillips restarted its 260,000 barrel per day refinery in Wilhelmshaven, Germany after a 6-month shutdown because of poor profit margins, the company said Friday.

Nigerian militant group claims attack on Royal Dutch Shell pipeline; oil company denies attack

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — A militant group claimed Friday to have attacked an oil pipeline in Nigeria that is operated by a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which said no such assault took place.

Russia, Ukraine to Meet on Gas Merger; Gazprom Ready for Swaps

(Bloomberg) -- Russian and Ukrainian government officials will meet after the May holidays to discuss merging their state energy companies, OAO Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller told reporters today in Sochi.

Gazprom is ready to consider asset swaps with NAK Naftogaz Ukrainy, Miller said.

PCB, other sports authorities urged not to organise night matches to conserve electricity

Lahore (ANI): In wake of the severe power crisis in the country, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and other sports authorities have been urged not to organise matches under artificial lights.

UK: Anger as delivery problems cause county fuel shortage

AN angry Thurso businessman has claimed a fuel shortage in Caithness this week could have a negative impact on the county's tourism.

The supply problem - or "near miss" as described by Far North MSP Jamie Stone - has also been raised in the Scottish Parliament.

BP CEO says will pay oil spill claims

LONDON (Reuters) - BP Plc will compensate all those affected by an oil spill from one of its wells in the Gulf of Mexico, its Chief Executive said, accepting the disaster could hit plans to open new areas off the U.S. coast to drilling.

"We are taking full responsibility for the spill and we will clean it up and where people can present legitimate claims for damages we will honour them. We are going to be very, very aggressive in all of that," Tony Hayward told Reuters in an interview on Friday.

Oil Spill’s Blow to BP’s Image May Eclipse Costs

But regardless of the out-of-pocket costs, the long-term damage to BP’s reputation — and possibly, its future prospects for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico — is likely to be far higher, according to industry analysts.

The magnitude of the Deepwater Horizon disaster seems to be finally sinking in with investors. BP’s stock plunged more than 8 percent Thursday in American trading in an otherwise strong day for stocks. Since the accident, the American depositary receipts of the company have fallen about 13 percent, closing Thursday at $52.56.

Gulf Oil Spill, by the Numbers

(CBS) The estimate of crude oil being spilled into the Gulf of Mexico from the well head of the destroyed BP drilling platform Deepwater Horizon was revised upwards. Already experts are suggesting this may become the worst environmental disaster to hit the U.S. since the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska's Prince William Sound, and it may eclipse even that.

A glance at key statistics from the spill...

BP Oil Leak May Prompt New Ship Rules, Frontline Says

(Bloomberg) -- A BP Plc well leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico may trigger tighter regulation of supertankers shipping crude to the U.S., said Frontline Ltd., the largest operator of the vessels.

Rules may be tightened to ban single-hull tankers, forcing refineries to charter double-hull carriers that reduce the risk of a spill, said Jens Martin Jensen, chief executive officer of Frontline’s management unit.

Region Hosts International Summit on Energy Management

Summit highlights included a keynote address from global visionary Thomas Homer Dixon from the University of Waterloo; Karl Kolmseefrom the University of Kufstein in Austria; Andrew Durbin from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre; as well as other speakers and government representatives.

“Energy management is front of mind for business leaders in every industry,” said Steven Hall, Director, Real Property Asset Management, Region of Peel. “Our Summit is an opportunity for them to come together and share insights on how to increase energy efficiency, enhance operational performance and take advantage of the newest products and solutions that make energy management easier and more cost-effective.”

Green Gone Wrong

Greenwashing happens when someone makes a claim that their product or service is 'green' when it is not. The claim is intended to mislead us. Perhaps the claim is a lie, or perhaps it is only part of the story - a token offered so we might pay attention to what they are doing right and possibly ignore what they are doing wrong.

A new book came out this week that might help us get a more realistic grasp of what is happening in our world. Heather Rogers, an investigative journalist, gives us "Green Gone Wrong: How Our Economy is Undermining the Environmental Revolution."

Are we doomed?

Not just “we” in the planetary sense, because that way lies madness, or renting 2012. (Don’t do it! It’s terrible!) But “we” as in Baltimore, which so often seems to teeter between catastrophe and greatness.

This came up recently. In March, the urban-planning-critic-turned-doomsayer James Howard Kunstler appeared here at the invitation of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore.

EIA: climate bill analysis to take up to 8 wks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Energy Information Administration will take up to eight weeks to analyze the stalled Senate climate bill after receiving most of its details from the office of Senator John Kerry, a spokesman said on Thursday.

Obama bans new drilling as oil hits Louisiana

MOUTH OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER - No new offshore drilling will be authorized until authorities learn what caused the explosion of the rig Deepwater Horizon, an aide to President Barack Obama said Friday as oil oozed ashore in Louisiana.

Senior adviser David Axelrod also defended the administration's response to the April 20 accident in the Gulf of Mexico, saying "we had the Coast Guard in almost immediately."

He deflected comparisons with the government's slow response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, telling ABC's "Good Morning America" that such speculation "is always the case in Washington whenever something like this happens."

‘Last Resort’ Safety Device Failed in Fatal Drilling Incident

(Bloomberg) -- A 2-foot-long metal clamp that failed to cut a pipe on the ocean floor may have cost 11 workers aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig their lives and cast a sprawling sheet of crude toward fisheries, wildlife sanctuaries and beaches.

BP Oil Spill Investigation Will Focus On Blowout Preventers

Figuring out what happened on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig to cause the spectacular Gulf of Mexico blowout will be like "recovering the black box from a plane crash," says oil investment banker (and peak oil gadfly) Matt Simmons. Carrying the aerospace analogy, Simmons says the investigation into this disaster will be akin to that following the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger.

Role of Cement Draws Scrutiny In Rig Explosion

An oil-drilling procedure called cementing is coming under scrutiny as a possible cause of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico that has led to one of the biggest oil spills in U.S. history, drilling experts said Thursday.

As oil spill hits Louisiana coast, critics assail Obama's offshore drilling plan

The worsening oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday threatened not only the shores of five states but also President Obama's plan to open vast stretches of U.S. coastline to oil and gas drilling.

Hours before the spill started washing ashore in Louisiana late Thursday, members of Congress issued new calls for Obama to abandon his plans for expanded offshore drilling, and White House officials conceded that the spreading oil slick could cause the president to rethink his position. "We need to figure out what happened," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. "Would a finding of something possibly affect that? Of course."

Oil, Gas Drillers Brace for Lawmaker Grilling, Tougher Rules

(Bloomberg) -- Four weeks ago, oil company executives were celebrating an Obama administration decision to expand drilling off the U.S. East Coast. Now, after a rig exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico, they face a grilling in Congress and tougher rules on how they do business. Representative Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, on Thursday told chief executives from five companies that they will be called to appear before his committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. The companies include BP Plc, which leased the rig to drill the well that is now leaking 5,000 barrels a day into the waters off the coast of Louisiana.

Navy Joins Oil-Spill Fight

The government called in the Navy to help contain the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, as administration officials said Thursday the disaster could prompt President Barack Obama to rethink his plan to allow expanded offshore oil and gas drilling.

Rig explosion dirties BP's green image

NEW YORK (AP) -- BP brands itself a friend of the environment, an energy company that goes "beyond petroleum."

That image, worth billions of dollars, is being sullied by the company's inability to contain a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

JP Announces 'Vessel of Opportunity' Program for Fishermen to Help Clean Up Oil Spill

The British Petroleum (BP) Corporation has announced a Vessel of Opportunity Program for commercial fishermen who are interested in assisting in the clean up efforts resulting from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig.

Any fishermen, with a vessel, who wants to assist in the BP program can sign up at the Jean Lafitte Town Hall, 2654 Jean Lafitte Boulevard in Lafitte or the Grand Isle Town Hall, 180 Ludwig in Grand Isle.

Spill off Louisiana's coast sticks to the oil debate

Estimates show the blown-out Deepwater Horizons well may be leaking 5,000 barrels a day, far more than the 1,000 barrels a day first announced. At that rate, it would take about seven weeks for the spill to match that of the Valdez. No one wants that.

Likewise, the nation does not need the urgency of the moment to wrench the nation's energy policy. Oil exploration, while dirty and dangerous, is a necessary part of the nation's energy strategy and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

Oil up toward $86 on signs of US economic growth

Oil prices rose Friday, temporarily shooting above $86 a barrel, amid signs the U.S. economy is strengthening. For now, a huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was seen having only limited effects on prices.

Pemex May Need to Invest More Than $25 Billion for Output Gains

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos, Latin America’s largest crude producer, may need to boost spending by about a third to more than $25 billion a year as it seeks to meet long-term output targets, Mexico’s Energy Minister said.

Why it doesn’t matter that there’s ‘plenty of oil left’

Peak oil felt like a very real and immediate possibility around the time of the oil price peak in mid-2008, but the “oil-is-here-to-stay” crowd has enjoyed something of a resurgence since then.

Total Reports Higher Quarterly Profit as Output Jumps

(Bloomberg) -- Total SA, Europe’s third-largest oil producer, posted a 9 percent increase in first-quarter earnings and forecast further output growth after ramping up projects in Nigeria, the Gulf of Mexico and Angola.

Turnaround in oil prices boosts Chevron as profit more than doubles to $4.55 billion

NEW YORK (AP) — Chevron Corp. says its first-quarter profit more than doubled as oil prices soared over the past year.

The San Ramon, Calif. oil company reported income of $4.55 billion, or $2.27 per share, for the first three months of the year. That compares with $1.84 billion, or 92 cents per share, in the same part of 2009.

Legislators revive 'barrel tax,' restore cuts with veto overrides

The Lingle administration lashed out at state lawmakers who ended the 2010 regular session with overrides of 11 of the governor's vetoes.

Among the bills that now will become law are an increase in the tax on a barrel of petroleum products, including gasoline; a proposal to stop the consolidation of offices within the Department of Human Services; and a measure to require that 80 percent of jobs in Hawaii go to local residents.

Canadian Crude Discount Is Near a 17-Month Low

(Bloomberg) -- The cost of oil from Alberta’s tar sands is trading near the cheapest relative to the New York benchmark in 17 months as refineries in the Midwest shut for maintenance and pipeline costs escalate.

Saipem Said to Win $3.5 Billion Abu Dhabi Contracts

(Bloomberg) -- Saipem SpA, Europe’s biggest provider of oilfield services by market value, won about $3.5 billion in contracts for gas processing and sulfur recovery at a field in Abu Dhabi, a person familiar with the situation said.

Brazil's ANP find may hold 2 bln bbl of oil-report

SAO PAULO, Brazil, April 30 (Reuters) - Brazil's oil industry watchdog ANP believes an area recently drilled in the subsalt region has about 2 billion barrels of oil equivalent, O Estado de S. Paulo reported on Friday, citing two people with direct knowledge of the situation.

Kazakhstan says AES underinvested in power plants

ASTANA (Reuters) - Kazakhstan on Friday accused U.S. firm AES of failing to invest $460 million into its power plants in the Central Asian country as required by contract, a charge the company has denied.

Nokia, Ford Power Demand Spurs Coal Purchase in India

(Bloomberg) -- Electricity demand from investors such as Ford Motor Co., Hyundai Motor Co. and Nokia OYJ may boost coal demand in India as Tamil Nadu, the biggest wind power generator in the country, adds new coal-fired units.

Spain Pricks Solar Power Bubble as Greek Fate Looms

(Bloomberg) -- Spain is lancing an 18 billion-euro ($24 billion) investment bubble in solar energy that has boosted public liabilities, choking off new projects as it works to cut power prices and insulate itself from Greece’s debt crisis.

Offshore Wind Booms as Utilities Seek 18% Margins

(Bloomberg) -- E.ON AG and Vattenfall Europe AG are among utilities leading a worldwide push to develop offshore wind power, overcoming a lack of work ships, stormy seas and higher costs to make almost twice the profit they would on land.

This week, they began running Germany’s first windmills in deep water, anchored more than 20 meters (66 feet) below the surface. Across the Atlantic, the U.S. approved plans two days ago for that nation’s first offshore turbines near Cape Cod.

UAE could lead in area of solar energy

Abu Dhabi: As the UAE takes the lead in renewable energy, the Gulf region can become a leader in solar power generation and a major draw for renewable energy investors, said Helene Pelosse, director general of the International Renewable Energy Authority (Irena)

Algae 2020 Global Commercialization Tour Continues in Washington, Houston and Prague

Houston, TX --(PR.com)-- Emerging Markets Online, a market research consulting and publishing firm specializing in global energy and biofuels markets, announces the Algae 2020 Global Tour for Spring/Summer of 2010.

The Algae 2020 study answers the key question "when will algae for biofuels be commercially viable, and which companies and projects are presently best positioned to meet this challenge?"

Nuclear Power: How Green Is It?

QUEENSLAND—As global warming becomes a reality, pressure is mounting on governments to find low carbon solutions to electricity generation. Yet with close to seven billion people in the world, many scientists are questioning the capacity of renewable energies to meet the growing demands of most countries. New developments in nuclear technology and ongoing research into reducing its associated hazards are leading various key players to take a fresh look at nuclear power.

Vancouver looks to share "green" strategy practices at Shanghai Expo

Among the city's long-time eco-practices have been an active collection program where glass, paper and metals are recycled, a yard-trimmings collection service, as well as a program to turn table scraps such vegetable and fruits peelings, teabags, coffee rinds and eggshells, among others, into compost.

Along with promoting the use of public transport, designated bicycle lanes have been highly controversial, especially with motorists unwilling to share the road, but the city continues to champion them in a bid to reduce vehicle traffic and emissions.

The case for food co-ops

If a global food shortage and security threat is imminent, as some experts have stated, a retired scientist living in Constance Bay has a novel solution for ensuring Ottawa is able to feed its inhabitants.

The Consumers’ Association of Canada spokesperson, Mel Fruitman, told CTV’s Canada AM two years ago that while the country’s food costs are currently among the lowest in the world, “the bubble is going to burst” before too long. That same year Donald Coxe, global portfolio strategist at BMO Financial Group, told the Empire Club and the Financial Post not to worry about peak oil; a global food catastrophe will hit soon and be more crippling than anything the world has ever seen.

How Will Supply and Demand Effect Peak Oil?

What has me most confused about the peak oil debate is how little people talk about how human behavior might change in the face of rising prices. Much of the debate seems to follow one of two scenarios. Either capitalism will simply have its way, we will adapt, and the market will develop alternatives to our current oil use. Or alternatively, supply will fail to keep up with demand, demand will keep rising, and people will scramble for whatever oil is left. There will be mass social collapse. And we'll all end up eating the remains of our neighbors over an open fire.

But surely the future is likely to be more complicated than that? When oil prices rose sharply a few short years ago, people soon started cutting back on their meat consumption, they started riding mass transit more, and bike sales exploded. Now granted, the oil prices of a few years ago were nothing compared to what some people are predicting—but then the cut backs that people made were pretty minimal compared to what could be achieved, And I mean what could be achieved without significant impact on our comfort or way of life.

Transitioning into the future

Transition Laguna Beach, an organization that seeks to engage the community as it develops practical alternatives to a lifestyle dependent upon a fuel-based economy, will host “The Great Unleashing” from 6 to 10 p.m. May 14 at the Sawdust Art Festival, 935 Laguna Canyon Road.

Sandor Exits Carbon Trading, Selling Climate Exchange to ICE

(Bloomberg) -- Richard Sandor agreed to sell Climate Exchange Plc to Intercontinental Exchange Inc., exiting the biggest carbon market before achieving his goal of establishing a global mechanism for curbing pollution.

EU Emitters Face Deadline as C02 Jumps Most in a Year

(Bloomberg) -- More than 11,000 emitters face rising carbon prices and a European deadline today for handing over 2009 permits to the world’s largest cap-and-trade system.

Germany, Mexico hosting meeting of 45 nations in Bonn to push talks on climate deal ahead

BERLIN (AP) — Five months after the troubled United Nations conference in Copenhagen, Germany and Mexico are teaming up in an effort to break the deadlock in negotiations on a global climate deal.

Plan B: California Braces for Climate Change

By the mid-2000s, when the rest of the country was waking up to the challenge of global warming, California was already pursing an aggressive program to assess the likely damage. According to the state energy commission’s climate research, the U.S. west coast faces sea-level rise of 12 to 18 inches by 2050, and as much as nearly six feet by the turn of the century. Precipitation is projected to fall increasingly as water rather than snow, draining into the sea rather than lying in cold storage until the long, dry summers. Higher-than-average temperatures and more frequent extreme weather promise heat waves, wildfires, droughts and floods.

Study: Evidence for an Arctic Climate Feedback Loop

Scientists know that the Arctic is warming about twice as fast as the rest of the planet on average, a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification. And they have a pretty good idea of why: warmer temperatures lead to more meltback in sea ice in the summer, which exposes more ocean water. The water, which is darker and less reflective than ice, absorbs energy, heats up and warms the air in turn, leading to even more melting. It's a classic feedback loop, and it makes all sorts of sense — but a logical theory is not the same as proof.

The new Nature paper goes a long way toward firming up the case. By analyzing and comparing temperature records from all available sources over the past 20 years, including ships, weather stations, planes and satellites, James Screen and Ian Simmonds of the University of Melbourne show that the warming trend is most pronounced near the surface, particularly in the Arctic, rather than at a higher elevation. That suggests the mechanism for Arctic amplification has something to do with ice loss rather than, say, cloud cover. "Previous studies suggested that the greatest warming was higher in the atmosphere," says Screen. "We were surprised at how different our results were."

I can't believe how little attention the Oil spill (Oil river? really.) is getting in the US. You could be on the verge of losing your entire Gulf Coast... but hardly a question or worried look from the media.

Not to mention the human health disaster from millions of people having to inhale those fumes.


I think this proves that there is not a chance in heck of anything of significance being done to mitigate Peak Oil before TSHTF.

My best hopes for the best possible outcome to people in the Gulf region. Good Luck. :(

CNN has had extensive coverage, including meteorilogical reports, graphs, eta of oil to the various shorelines, likely environmental/economic impacts, etc. Updates twice an hour, at least. Don't know what you've been watching. (They're doing one as I type.)

I had CNN and HNN (or whatever thye are now) on last night from about 8:30PM to 10:30PM and there was barely a mention. CNN had the most limited of coverage. Nothing during the final segment of AC360 and only a small weather snippet before Larry King got started. I'll give credit to Larry. He asked the weather guy, "is this a weather story"? I wonder if he was getting at something there.... but that said, after that, nothing.

And all HNN had was their scheduled media gossip crud.

It's *still* not the top bill on CNN... "disaster" feared (FEARED? it's happening!), it's on the FoxNews sidebar as "A Very Very Big Thing" (but live coverage is going to Obamas "GDP address"), it's not even on the front page of ABCNews.com.

Only MSNBC (nbcnews.com) has it as their lead on the website.

THis should be equivalent to a Hurricane Katrina for goodness sakes!

Until there are sticky birds and oiled beaches, there is nothing to report now that the rig fire is out. How many picks of oil on water can you show in real-time before the channel gets changed?

It'll be a better disaster when the oil reaches resort beaches that would better warrant a news trip than a rural bayou in La.

Nothing during the final segment of AC360

To be fair you turned on just too late. The first 20 minutes or so of AC360 (with Dr. Sanjay Gupta)last night was entirely devoted to the spill.

Oil rig overturns in La.; no leaks detected
(AP) – 1 hour ago

MORGAN CITY, La. — Officials say an oil drilling rig on its way to a scrap yard has overturned in Louisiana.

No big deal.


I'd recommend following such stories via the news aggregator http://news.google.com

1. 40 % of the US fish catch comes from that spill zone. That's 40% of the US fishing industry.

2. The environmental consequences scare me worse (I don't feel like repeating one of my posts from yesterday's DrumBeat).

3. The US isn't the only nation along the Gulf Coast.

But isn't this good for the fish? Where do they get their Omega-3 from?

Gallows humor.

The people of Louisiana are advised to stock up food for a month or two... coz without the supply of shripms, crabs, oysters and fish, food is going get very expensive. Stock up now... Prepare for the shortages...

Ignorant, do you have a link for claim 1. I would like to share it with some friends.

I just heard on the news that it was 14%. The 40% is probably the figure for the entire GOM.

Ron P.

Oh. Well. I guess it's okay, then. Only 14%? No problemo. The Fed can print some money and hand out to the losers... no, let's give it to the losers' banks. Yeah.

"... and Pangloss sometimes said to Candide: "All events are linked up in this best of all possible worlds..."
"'Tis well said," replied Candide, "but we must cultivate our gardens."

Good luck in this, the best of all possible worlds!


If you followed the recent lambasting of "Environmentalists" on the "The Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Some Background and What It Means" thread the last few days you might not be so surprised.

I listened to some of the MSM reporters questions to the White House Press Secretary and his answers about this whole sordid mess and it underscored the fact that we are royally screwed.

This going to be an environmental disaster of unprecedented proportions and the only thing that people seem to really care about is keeping the Mississippi open to shipping traffic so that BAU can continue.

I weep for the wetlands and what their loss will mean.

The Big Easy, having to import seafood from China? It just ain't right. Katrina/Rita damn near killed the industry there. This likely will.

Yet, in our paper this AM (yes, we still do have a newspaper...the Nuisance and Disturber, um, News and Observer), opponents and those that are concerned about such things are characterized as "rabid environmentalists."

In a few weeks we may see the results of all of this and really ask "How's that 'Drill, baby, Drill' thingy workin' out for ya?"

Ooooo, I'm foaming at the mouth.






I think I put too much cream in my coffee.

Courtesy of John Fugelsang:

Miss Shrill Baby Shrill
cried out ‘Drill, Baby, Drill!’
Never planned on a spill, baby, spill
She was only a shill, baby, shill.

Even if it'll kill, baby, kill
All the krill, baby krill
No seafood on my grill, baby, grill,
Just take a happy pill, baby, pill
and go ahead and fill, baby, fill
The world'll turn on oil still, baby, still

take it on the road you two...

"take it on the road you two"
before your singin make me blue
dis oil don't care 'bout who it screw
so take it on the road, you too

it's a catch-22 for the few and the proud
the best bet for you is to eschew the new crowd
endowed with blue-state ballots and second-rate gavel mallets
and hawk your stock picks for a ticket to the tropics
where weather is warm and you're far from the swarm
take up a new trade and forget the forlorn

those that are concerned about such things are characterized as "rabid environmentalists."

That's a misprint! Should read instead: "rabbit environmentalists". Too long scared of their own shadows and scurrying under the watchful gaze of BAU hawks.

Green is an apt description for the environmental movement: cross between cowardly yellow and melancholy blue.

Actually it's more a problem that for destroying (or even damaging) some inanimate object that is being used to destroy the environment (let's pick a bulldozer or Hummer for example)... well, if we are caught we could be charged with full on terrorism and potentially "disappeared".

Remember these are no longer simple criminal charges - you can now be charged with terrorism and all that implies...

Actually I'm going to adopt greenish's stance re calling myself an "Environmentalist". I heretofore no longer consider myself to be one! I too take up the light saber to become an Eco-Jedi! Right now I'm a pretty PO'ed Eco-Jedi and PO doesn't stand for Peak Oil in this particular context.

I'm not quite sure yet as to how and where I will direct my anger but I'm going to find a way. Perhaps this whole sordid episode can become a teaching moment and a leverage point for paradigm shifting.

Don't worry I can be pretty annoying when I want to ;-)

FMagyar, we're proud of you! Just be careful with that flashlight.

All kidding aside, I think now we actually DO NEED some eco-Jedis. May the force be with you.

And God help us all... we human beings sure know how to mess things up.

who's kidding?

"a teaching moment" and how to direct one`s anger???

Drive to the nearest junkyard and hand over the car keys to the person who works there. If they give you any money, fine, if not, so what.

Walk home. Continue life without any cars ever again. That would be a very fine human moment if it were multiplied by millions or billions, everyone in the world just GIVING UP ON THEIR CAR!! A real teachable moment to make our kids proud, I say.

Everyone should do this. This oil spill is just another message from Mother Nature saying "enough is enough". The bar is about to close anyway, so might as well go cold turkey!!


Perhaps this whole sordid episode can become a teaching moment and a leverage point for paradigm shifting.

Exactly, as teaching moments go this will be a great opportunity.

I too take up the light saber to become an Eco-Jedi!

Oookay, have your fun if you must, just please... Please! Don't fall to the Dark side of the Force. :D
We all know how -that- story ends: two old f@rts ruling the Galaxy - Vader and the Emperor, while the rest of us gladly suffer their miserable fates. :P

PS: I like to read your posts, because they are quite... funny/entertaining. :))) És nem csak azért, mert vér szerint 75 százalékból magyar vagyok (and not just because I'm for 75 per cent Hungarian myself...) ;oD

ramen? Are you a member of the Repülő Spagettiszörny Egyháza?

Heh, I never said that in Hungarian before and it has a much better sound to it than "Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster".

"the only thing that people seem to really care about is keeping the Mississippi open to shipping traffic so that BAU can continue. "

"Now in darkness, world stops turning
Ashes where the (oil spills) burning

No more (petroleum) pigs have the power
Hand of God has struck the hour

Day of judgement, God is calling
On their knees, the (petroleum) pigs crawling
Begging mercies for their sins

CERA laughing, spreads its wings


(apologies to Black Sabbath)

Just as an example of how little priority this is and the "value" we place on our environment... A friend and I both work for different enviro. firms - her firm is more on the clean-up side of things. I got an e-mail from her today saying they are hiring people to go to the Gulf and willing to pay $12/hr.... Twelve dollars an hour to deal with boiling heat and humidity, stinking crude, alligators, long awful, probably heartbreaking days...

In my opinion this is where gov't defines whether they have ANY role in the world. They should have the power to immediately seize some fraction of the assets of BP necessary to propertly fund a true clean-up. 1000 or 5000 people down there doesn't mean sh*t - they should be forced to fund 50,000 or 100,000 people (we have lots of unemployment in this country remember) or more.

But the gov't who everyone bags on all the time will be the ones doing the bulk of the clean up and monitoring - while the private sector throws in a little bit for show.

A complete disgrace - but I wouldn't expect anything more from the Corporate States of America...

Gulf of Mexico oil spill: satellite images and maps:


100,000 people at $100 dollars an hour for as long as it takes. Compare that to the bailouts for the Banksters and Company and it's still peanuts. What is that ecosystem really worth?

It's priceless. Therefore, in the calculus of capitalist economics, it's worthless.

Manpower does not equate to results. The more unsupervised people you have standing around, the more money you waste paying people to stand around.

The federal government teaches us that every time there is a disaster. Take Katrina for example. A whole bunch of federal employees came in and hampered efforts of locals to do what needed to be done.

Precisely, get the locals on board the sooner the better. Send BP the bill!


I'm sure BP will be covering the cost without complaint. However, I'm sure TransOcean will be picking up quite a bit of the hefty tab, possibly along with Cameron, depending on what the report finds. I wouldn't worry about BP shirking off the cost from the cleanup damage initially however.

"I'm sure BP will be covering the cost without complaint."

Sure, just like Exxon did.

They complained all the way to the Supreme Court. We did end up getting Credit Default Swaps out of the deal, though.

I would read carefully about what Exxon complained about. As far as I can remember, they covered all legitimate compensatory claims immediately, then they litigated punitive damages to the supreme court, damages which by their nature, covered no part of the cleanup process, but were sought as a "deterrent" for whatever that meant.

Uh Huh. Swell guys, them.

But here's what Exxon doesn't say, and what has never been reported in the press: Exxon has been reimbursed in significant part by the insurance industry and by American taxpayers.

One of Exxon's insurance companies has covered hundreds of millions of Exxon's expenses. And Exxon has been eligible for as much as $2 Billion in Valdez spill-related tax deductions.

In essence, ordinary Americans have paid for the Valdez disaster far more than Exxon has.


We all ended up paying for that one, just as we'll pay for this one.....in higher fuel and insurance costs, etc. That's just the way it works, and it seems we're stuck with it.

Gotta go put fuel in the truck before they raise the prices again.

Our Gov't is broke, where do we get the money to fund any of the clean up. Hmmm, print away. Gold keeps creeping higher even with recent stronger dollar (in relative terms). This PO thing is gonna be rough.

Any amount spent will be negligible against the DHS budget, and that is a modest part of overall spending.

The bigger the bureaucracy, the more will be spent but the less that will be effectively done. DHS won't move fast enough to have a significant impact except for shore cleanup later, and the private industry solution will be too small to stop the spread.

Best hopes for no hurricanes before the plug-well gets drilled.

I'm with you that the amount is trivial in overall terms. Collectively, these trivial amounts add up. When an individual is maxed out on credit cards and finds new ways to borrow in order to survive rather then tighten the belt, the situation becomes impossible to overcome and eventually they give up trying to overcome the debt because its impossible. The easy answer is throw more money at this problem, just like everything else. Glad we have so much of it.

Almost none of the Louisiana coast has a shore that can be cleaned up.

Have you ever seen ads saying "Come down to Louisiana and enjoy our beaches" ?

We have tidal marshes and bayous that serve as nurseries for a wide variety of seafood. It can be hard to tell where the sea ends and land begins.

And MANY canals dredged by the oil companies through the marshes, which will speed any intrusion of oil into the depths of the marshes.


I can't believe how little attention the Oil spill (Oil river? really.) is getting in the US.

Not buying this claim. The news aggregators which I view are full of articles on this issue, the cable news channels have plenty of coverage, the politically minded blogs I read have plenty of people comment on this, etc.

It's a big world out there, and issues like the Greek debt crisis, or the Iranian nuclear ambitions, are bigger stories in themselves.

Yes, there's plenty of coverage now but they downplayed it for as long as possible.

I believe you're referring to the Euro crisis and one of the manufactured crises caused by the capture of world Jewry by the state zionist ideology, an imprisonment enabled by Nazi evil.

These are big stories. But they are not bigger than the end of technological triumphalism.

The deepwater horizon has sunk.

Another day in the era of peak oil, now about a decade in duration.

Best hopes for new horizons. I think they lie on the interface of the stories we've carried from paleolithic times, versions of which are embedded in scriptures, and the revelations of the evolutionary sciences.

This story is getting lesser play than Michael Jackson / Tiger / Anna Nicole Smith.

We are a country of couch potatoes with fried brains.

I can't believe how little attention the Oil spill (Oil river? really.) is getting in the US.

Oh, you're just not familiar with US MSM coverage, which has been modeled after UK coverage. You know, more tabloid type stuff. What happens in Sandra Bullock's marriage, or who moved on in a dance show are now covered with much more zeal, attention to detail and time alloted. "Have you heard about so and so!" That kind of stuff.

Eroticism masqueraded as erudition, trivia instead of truth, salacity in lieu of sanity.

Bread and circuses... anything to keep us docile.

Now, just where did I put my Prozac?

Now, just where did I put my Prozac?

If you were your taking Ginkgo extract to boost your memory you wouldn't have to ask ;-)

What were we talking about?

I did a short presentation of the accident and aftermath in my Environmental Politics class on Tuesday. Only 3 people in a class of 35 had heard anything about Deepwater Horizon.

Now that is really depressing. I despair for the species...

(And all the others we will probably take down with us)

I don't think Taleb literally meant Black Swan, but well this works.

I don't mean that as a joke. Can this be considered a BS Event?

This is not a Black Swan event at all.

It is actually just a Fat-Tail or what other people call a Gray Swan event.

If something is predicted to have a chance for occurring and people are aware of this possibility, it is just a low probability chance in the fat-tails of the probability distribution.

Everyone new that this could happen. The regularity of hurricanes increases the chances. So it is not Black Swan by definition.

I have gotten on a bit of a climate science kick recently. Two posts perhaps worth looking at if you are interested in atmospheric dynamics :

How to simply model CO2 persistence in the atmosphere:
This is interesting because it uses the same math as lifetime of carriers in disordered semiconductors, only that scale is orders of magnitude smaller.

What explains the size distribution of cloud ice crystals?
This is interesting because it uses the same math as oil reservoir size distributions, only that scale is orders of magnitude bigger.

Weird how nature works.

In case nobody has noticed, both Tapis and Louisiana Sweet have surpassed the $90/bbl mark on the spot market. We may get to see just how much spare capacity really exists after 2 years of "catching our breathe" from the 2008 price spike.

Just food for thought.

They could shut this well down this morning and the tar balls will circulate the GOM (and beyond) for many months. Gulf resort beaches, good bye till 2012 or 2013 ?

The current will take this spill down the Texas coast (winds can push it elsewhere) but it will loop around. Whooping cranes are in the bulls-eye.

A hurricane surge could drive the fresh oil (more toxic than tar balls) deep into the swamps and bayous (MUCH deeper due to canals dredged by the oil industry over the last 75 years). There, oil chemicals could be picked up by the bottom of the food chain.

Oyster beds, once killed, take several years to recover, if that. Being filter feeders, they are VERY susceptible.

And more.

ATM, I have the same non-emotional state that I had immediately after returning to New Orleans post-Katrina. I will not be obsessing here about it.

Best Hopes for shutting this down in 4 weeks (best case I think),


Yesterday Catman pointed out that SkyTruth estimates the true leakage rate may be closer to 20,000 barrels a day. This could take a very long time to clean up. Has anyone heard about the attempts to burn it off? I only heard something the first day, but maybe conditions are good enough to attempt another burn.

Something else just to think about is the size of this spill relative to world daily consumption. At 20e3 bbl/day (spill) / 85e6 bbl/day (world consumption) * 86400 seconds/day this works out to a little over 20 seconds of world consumption. Twenty seconds of consumption is turning into years of cleanup and ecological disaster.

Reported last night the burning operations had been suspended. It looks like the test burns only removed 450 gallons of oil to date. The wind (and seas) have picked up with the push coming strong from the south this morning.

Yesterday there was a Transocean confirmation they are working on an at-the-source containment scheme http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/site/2931/ (good catch Longtimber) and a report yesterday that the dome portion was complete, that piping was being assembled and that it had
never been tried before at this depth

There's some video describing concept and history on the containment http://www.fox8live.com/news/local/story/Winds-make-dome-recovery-of-oil...

Rockman talks about some of the complicating factors here

http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2010/04/oil_from_gulf_spill_could_rea... This article says three domes now.

Maybe they should just nuke it, collapse the whole thing :-0

I know. The whackamole factor is off the charts here. Commentary from conflated downthread is so incisive, it's got to be stopped, meaning we get control of our oil use too. Think everything is being thrown at the problem until something sticks.

At least there were a variety of responses already on the drawing boards for this event.

Imagine the chaos if there weren't contingency plans already drawn up.

This environment where we are asking these folks to get our lifeblood from is beyond inhospitable and the faster fixes for this event are largely unknown from what I'm getting from the last article and comments from Rockman yesterday. Much of the potentially effective response is being brainstormed and designed on the fly.

All in the name of SPEED. Why should I care about others as long as I can drive 85 MPH on the highway with a car that has a top SPEED of more than 130.

If you drive more than 60 mph, you are part of the problem. This country could reduce it's oil comsumption by a 1/3 if all cars where manufactured with less than a 1/2 liter engine and governed at 60 or less.

This country is going nowhere FAST

If you only drive 60, please stick to the right lane.

Speed won't make much difference -- it's the driving lifestyle first, the occupancy level second, and the vehicle mileage third, that make the most difference. Higher speed only adds a few percent of fuel waste on top, while going slower wastes a few percent of time. Money-wise, the former is small compared to the latter.

If I drive 80 alone in a Civic and get 30 mpg, I still beat the guy in a truck doing 60 at 18 mpg, but lose to the guy going 90 in a full Suburban, fuel/occupant/mile-wise.

But they guys who just don't go at all are the real winners in time and fuel, especially when the drive time is spent dodging semis and troopers on the interstate, or stop-and-go traffic in town.

In any rational car design, (one that weighs less than 1500Kg and has good aerodynamics) the difference in consumption between 60mph and 85mph is substantial. Drag increases with the square of speed, and at those speeds drag is the dominant energy sink in such a car.

Driving with a GPS system for the past few months has shown me that this idea that driving faster is a big time saver is pretty much a myth. Unless I am covering very long distances (which is hardly ever)it just doesn't work out that way - on a typical 50 or 60 mile drive I've noticed that my projected arrival time hardly varies even if during certain stages of the drive I ramp up the speed by 10 or 15 mph. I may drop 2 or 3 minutes off the estimate - time which is almost invariably lost in one way or another - I hit an extra light, I have to stop for gas, I catch the wrong lane at the tolls - a million different variables... But the GPS is smarter than what a human "senses" it knows to account for speed zones and that in the long run speeds pretty much average out for a given type of road. They just serve to verify the fact that almost nobody has a "racetrack" experience driving to work (i.e. just hop in the car - instantly go to 80 mph - and arrive at their destination at 80 mph) - there's just way too much going on on the roads today, especially if your drive mixes highways with areas that have any kind of speed zones, to sustain a high enough average speed to make a significant difference. The only way I could see it working out is if you are bordering on the ridiculous - doing 50 in a 30, not stopping at stop signs etc. And since this seems to pretty much be par for the course where I live - I attribute people having this idea of saving so much time by going faster as yet another justification for them just wanting to ignore laws and do whatever the hell they want with no regard for anyone else.

The best time saver is to leave a few minutes earlier - I've almost never heard someone was in an "accident" or got a ticket because they left early.

I've had the opposite experience. I was surprised at how much time driving faster saves if you're driving long distances. If you're driving hundreds of miles, it can mean the difference between having to stop overnight at a hotel or not.

Right - no argument about the hundreds of miles trips - but stopping for fuel and food and a couple unexpected delays pretty quickly narrows the margin...

But for the people running around a typical town - going 40 or 45 in a 30 all in the name of "I'm in a hurry" the difference is negligble... you may save a minute even or you might catch two extra lights and now find yourself netting no faster time than the person that did 30 the whole way.

I see it every day on the Thruway - several cars zoom past me - at the toll two have EZ-Pass and have to take a left after the tolls, another has to pay cash. I pass the person sitting waiting to pay and pull in right behind the one car turning left. And the third car that didn't have to sit and wait to turn left made it all the way to the red light 1/4 mile ahead... so he's the big winner by about 20 seconds.

Everybody thinks they're in a race - few realize it's endless and there are no winners.

But then, what did you miss on the way zipping along?

I used to drive from Jacksonville, FL to Miami, FL (just in case you were thinking Ohio) quite a lot on relatively flat interstate and turnpike. We had it down pat with 315 miles from our door (<1 mile to I-95) to my in-laws (~2 miles from Sawgrass Turnpike). We had the Speedpass so only had to slow down to about 30 mph at the tolls.

When I had the BMW 328ic I could cruise along at 90 mph and shave maybe 30 to 45 min. off the trip with the salutary wave to Daytona race track along the way. The whole time I would be passing, dodging, running up behind people, cursing, and self absorbed in my own importance because I was driving so much faster than the rest. "Can't you see how important I am because I'm driving so fast? Geez!" When we arrived I would have to sit down with a beer or three to decompress.

The car had a real time mpg read out and the difference in speed on the highway would only impact it by 1-2 mpg.

Now, with the 2-wheel drive Tahoe it was a different story. There would be about a 20% difference in fuel consumption going from 70 mph to 80 mph. Everyone wants to do 80 mph in the left lane, but I would set the cruise control at 75 mph(ish) and sit in the right lane watching those zany BMW drivers blast by. Sure we arrived 1/2 hour later, but I was rested, stopped when we wanted because we weren't concerned about losing time or getting behind all the traffic we would have passed, and found that in the very minor scheme of things it didn't matter a lick.

You have to drive the highways in BC where most are two lane with passing lane areas, then you learn some patience, especially in the summer with RV's and trailers about (that's caravans for our British friends).

But then, what did you miss on the way zipping along?

In much of the Midwest or the High Plains, nothing at all. No use getting all upset trying aggressively to pass every car encountered - as you said - but no use either in poking along just to save a buck or two on gas at the expense of incurring needless extra $100 hotel bills. When you've driven about 10 miles you've already seen much of what there will be to see, so no use either in poking along to try to see more of it.

Even in Japan, getting somewhere by zipping along at 150mph on the Shinkansen seemed nicer than crawling along in a bus when the goal was actually to get there. Except if one planned to wallow along and stop in any byway that seemed amusing - and yes, there's a time and place for that - one was going to see the same "movie" out the bus or train window, just at a faster pace on the train.

Thanks for making my point. Your Civic would get 60 mpg @ 60mph with a half liter engine and consume 1/3 as much idoling in stopped traffic. In addition gas would be $1.25 a gallon because of the lack of demand. But then again, what would life be if you couldn't spend the day dodging semis and troopers going nowhere fast.

Oh, and by the way I will not drive 60 in the left lane if you don't drive 80 in the right lane while dodging semis. An when the trooper has you pulled over on the side of the road. That will be me laughing as I pass you by in the right hand lane.

Here`s a new idea: park your car along the side of the highway. Throw the car keys up into the air with a whoop and walk away.

Yes, everyone in the world should do this---NOW!!!

Maybe governments can help people understand how this would actually benefit them in the long run, and even in the short run. We could all recover slowly from the oil age....what a debilitating, dirty, exhausting, demoralizing part of history we have all been privy to...and this oil spill should help us understand that!

I have had no car for 14 years---a proud recovering addict!

But my oil addiction continues via the food I eat and also my job is structurally part of the oil-based economy. That is why I see no real future there.....and I am looking past it and thinking of another life beyond cement encased offices......


Shedding all the encumbrances we`ve built up--the cement, the cars, the incinerators.....it is maybe a great feeling to live lightly, freely, unburdened by so much "stuff".

Well, you've posted this sentiment about cars twice three times on this thread and once on the other thread. So it's a trifecta tetrafecta? - and in its own way it does summarize the predicament in a nutshell. Then again, life was hardly risk-free before the oil age came to be, nor will it become so once it has gone. So for as long as people exist, they likely will moan and fret ineffectually about attaining Utopia by stamping out all risk, at great expense to accepting reality, moving on, and living life.

With respect to automotive specifics, I seem to recall that you live in Japan:

BUT if you go into Tokyo it's JUST PACKED still, you can't ever get a seat on the popular Yamanote line during rush hour, so no worries!!

It seems to me that "it's JUST PACKED" has no small connection to being able to ditch the car and still enjoy many of the wholly unprecedented benefits of the modern life that's scorned so glibly in your comment.

Which leads to a little problem with "life beyond cement encased offices". By definition that would be someplace that's not "just packed". But in a place without teeming masses, no Yamanote line - it's called mass transportation for a reason. Without masses and without a car, no transportation, just stifling, provincial, boring tedium, imprisoned within a short distance of one spot, likely under the sway of the same abusive ugliness that often defined village life in the past - the nasty gossip, bickering, backbiting, exclusion, closed-mindedness, wearing pettiness, and so on.

Throughout recorded history, those who had any choice nearly always jumped at the chance to escape rural/village life. Nowadays they still do, only in much larger numbers because they can, and never mind the physical horror of many of the slum-cities they're flocking to. The very fact that so many make such a move, despite naïve nostalgia buffs in rich countries judging it to be utterly contraindicated, suggests that you, and the rest of us, might learn something from them and be very, very careful about what we wish for.

While it's easy and facile to condemn modern life as "debilitating, dirty, exhausting, demoralizing" - provided one takes great care to compare it only to Utopia, never, ever to anything real - both you and we may yet encounter far worse possibilities. In this regard, I'd note that over the years, a number of TODers have gotten wakeup calls on this matter by coming down with medical conditions. People do not always remain young and healthy forever, despite a tacit assumption to the contrary that often lurks behind these discussions.

Yes, I understand. But the oil spill has really changed the game. Now this spill and the risk of others like it (because there are more deep water wells) to have the same terrible effects--destroying billions in fishing catches for ten, twenty years...plus other very serious environmental damage that may be permanent.......means that the benfits of cars are no longer so clear anymore. Because the benefits are being outweighed by the costs.

I also think that emotionally it is tough to watch one`s own home being destroyed by an unhealthy addiction. Like a junkie asleep in his own wastes or something. It doesn`t look good. It is a symptom of a terrible underlying wrong.

What if Obama announced "OK, 2 years until no more cars! Let`s all pull together and get ready for CAR DIVORCE DAY!" I know it sounds difficult. But it would ultimately be so liberating.

What is real in the past is that people could find clean water and clean air. Even if they were hungry or couldn`t get medicine. Those were real comforts that don`t exist now where I live.

Because the benefits are being outweighed by the costs.

Well, that's a judgment call and each to his or her own. I have a funny feeling, though, that cars or at least car-like objects are not about to disappear very widely anytime soon. In the meantime, if the air or the cars are truly and highly bothersome, then even in Japan, it's still possible (but at a cost in income) to move to a semi-rural area, which would not be Utopia, but where air pollution would be far less than in the heart of the big cities. Possibly, one might even be able to find a spot within biking distance of a train station.

But in light of some basic realities of Japan, I'm finding this conversation a bit surreal. I've been told that certain aspects of highway construction and land-use zoning - such as strangely over-broad medians in some expressways in urban regions - are tailored towards limiting the possible consequences - such as firestorms - of severe earthquakes. And that an 8.0+ magnitude earthquake leading to on the order of 150,000 deaths, plus great destruction (such that full recovery may take decades) even with the strict building codes, is an overdue near-certainty for the Tokyo area. And yet people provide to some degree for the possibility, then somehow move on and live life without wallowing dysfunctionally in the tragedy of it.

On the other hand, the explosion and spill we're discussing here pales into utter insignificance by comparison - eleven guys (about two hours of US road fatalities incurred in burning part of the d*mned stuff) and some fish. And yet there's abundant hysterical talk about utterly revolutionizing life, even down to "what is real in the past is that people could find clean water and clean air. Even if they were hungry or couldn't get medicine."

I dunno, the air is not perfectly pristine where I live, but it's clean enough not to be bothersome or impose any noticeable Liebig minimum on life - the vast majority will nonetheless live plenty long enough, namely far past senility. Oh, and the water most people could find back in the old days wasn't "clean", it was often so germy that it shortened life expectancy by many years. Since Utopia is not on the menu, I'm afraid I'll take the less worse option of shortening life by a few minutes from "chemicals" any time.

So while the event at hand is absolutely an awful tragedy for eleven families, I guess I'm not really getting the perspective, as between the routine and substantial hazards of life on the one hand, and on the other hand the enormous overwrought hyperbolic emotionally political blowup over an event representing a comparatively minuscule risk. In perspective, the event just seems too minor to justify contemplating even hypothetically giving up medical care over it. After all, annual iatrogenic deaths (those caused directly by doctors in the course of administering treatments) in the USA are somewhere north of 100,000 - not a mere eleven, we can only wish - and yet that hasn't meant that we just shut down medical care in response.

Most often, the real world is not Utopia, and we end up having to settle for doing the Least Worst Thing. No use wallowing dysfunctionally in the tragedy of it.

I still insist that by losing important, vital connections with nature we have put ourselves at real risk.

Energy gave us false messages about how many people could be sustained on the planet. False because temporary. The energy from FF made it seem as though the planet was a much bigger place, with much more water, fish, grain, wood, that there really was. (Faster material cycling through energy use---it`s not real, it is like a mirage)

Speeded up our journey has been hectic and not necessarily better.

There were 40,000 people killed last year in US auto accidents. Every year. In ten years that`s 400,000-500,000. Earthquakes pale in comparison. Lots of pandemics pale in comparison.

People worried about maintaining industrialized lifestyles in the face of slow collapse become frantic about money, status, education, machines, having "the right address". I should know because I live in a country undergoing a slow painful collapse. I actually like it better. Less traffic, less construction, etc. But people want to be active and they cannot work because there are no jobs.

Im watching the spill, and wondering about the long term effects with respect to peak oil, and future off shore - deep water drilling.

Other than the horrific environmental impact and the repercussions of it im also wondering how big the Transocean fleet is.

I recall in 2008 the discussion seemed to indicate that there were not enough deep water rigs to expand into the proposed OCS areas for another 10 years. That rigs/vessels were being constructed as fast as they could, but that they are small in number and expensive and take a long time to build.

So my question was: How many of these deep water vessels exist? Surely the loss of a vessel which charges half a million dollars a day isnt just a financial hit but a hit to the future drilling/production capacity?
The market doesnt seem to have reacted so I started to wonder.

At least as far as Transocean goes:

They had 23 vessels equipped for deepwater (deeper than 7500 feet). Now they have 22. A 4% reduction in drilling capacity for what I presume is the premier supplier of deep water drilling equipment?

And I read this morning that the government is planning a deepwater moratorium until an investigation is complete to avoid any further accidents.

I dont mean to diminish the significance of the loss of life, or the environmental impact I was just taking the perspective of the effect on supply and demand.

Also find it interesting the way the media is trying to draw parrallels to Katrina and the botched Brown FEMA response. This is Obamas Katrina?

Katrina: several days warning. thousands dead. avoidable with a thorough/serious coordinated response.
Oil rig explosion: No warning. 11 dead. Environmental disaster that cant be stopped regardless of the government effort.

Not sure what they could have done (not to defend the admin), but the timing sure sucks. I get sick of those that say; "let the industry handle things" one day, and; "the Administration didn't respond quickly enough to this National crisis" the next day. A' holes, all!

This is another reason why it really doesn't matter all that much wrt how much oil is left in the ground. Getting it out will be difficult, dangerous, and expensive. Things will go wrong, activities will be delayed, places will be declared off-limits, megaprojects won't get funded. It will be utter folly to assume that everything planned will go perfectly. Much wiser to assume that lots and lots of things will go wrong, including some things that nobody thought it possible to go wrong. We are on the right-hand side of the curve now, and it is going to be a struggle all the way down.


Oh dear. He sort of gets it, but then makes a fool out of himself.

He seems to be saying "oh dear Oil on the beach what a shame - but we have an economy to run so it was worth it"

If we take that approach to our stewardship of the earth what kind of economy will we be left with... I guess we know the answer because thats pretty much been the path we have been on since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

The same approach which killed the Indian scrapyard worker when he opened a Gamma cell with Cobalt-60 in it the other day. Reckless disregard for the environment or for public saftey where money is on the line.

I guess Denninger doesnt like seafood?

I think what's interesting is what he doesn't say. I can see how one could hold a position of "The current level of material things in life are, upon looking at it, in my opinion worth the risk." and even "When you look at it, even basic survival necessities of the currently sized human population require running these risks." But he simply takes it as a given that the standard of life he currently has is unviolable and therefore doesn't even analyse the issue. (Strange how it's not OK in his book to simply demand central banks do whatever is needed to maintain the current American lifestyle, yet it's perfectly OK to demand that planetary resources must maintain whatever lifestyle is deemed OK financially. I guess it must be something to do with the fact that he and his family will feel some of the effects of financial issues but has so far been able to ensure that none of the environmental effects will affect him or his family. Those will be felt by those wicked foreigners who occasionally "sends" unintentionally ironic rants at.)

I notice that the WSJ reports Wildlife in Peril as Slick Nears Gulf Coast

I am wondering about one paragraph in that report:

Conservationists worry that over the long run the oil will seep into the sediment along the shoreline and remain there for years, further damaging wildlife habitats already hit by a succession of severe storms, such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Mr. Mann said oil continued to seep out of the sediment in Prince William Sound more than 20 years after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

I am trying to understand this. Oil rises, doesn't it? Light oil certainly floats on water. (This is light crude, with low sulphur content.) It biodegrades once microbes get into contact with it. This happens much more quickly in a warm, sunny place like the Gulf Coast than someplace like Alaska. It is necessary to change the gasoline mix in summer, because of the volatility of some parts of the gasoline mixture when it is warm out, so some of this happens very quickly.

Are there any experts on this issue, who could explain what really happens? I know we have a lot of reporters reading this site. (We have already been contacted by three different news outlets on different issues.) So real expertise in this area would be helpful. (And on other issues as well.)

Crude oil is a complex mixture of thousands of organic (and some inorganic) molecules.

Almost all of these will dissolve into seawater at concentrations of a few ppm or more. The "lopsided" molecules, with one side with a + charge and the other with a - charge dissolve best (water is highly polar).

Benzene is one of the least soluble (AND most toxic) chemicals in crude oil. Yet,

Benzene is moderately soluble in water; 1 to 1,000 mg will dissolve in a liter of water. Benzene is slightly persistent in water, with a half-life of between 2 to 20 days.


I believe that seawater has some natural weak surfactants and can dissolve more oil compounds than fresh or distilled water.

In addition, one can get emulsions by mixing oil with water (a mile down allows for plenty of this). Droplets akin to salad oil & vinegar. A small enough droplet will take "a long time" to rise to the surface (if ever). The smaller the droplet, the weaker the force pushing it up (the force is the difference in densities).


PS: Oysters are filter feeders and tend to concentrate whatever is in the environment.

Would having people throw soap into the water help?

Would probably kill some fish though.

Not a stupid question, but an ignorant one.

I think throwing detergent in is an issue as well.

I would like to get a guest post on this issue, if someone is sufficiently knowledgeable.

If would seem like all of these new chemicals add more problems. At least most of light oil biodegrades pretty quickly--not so clear about these.

Perhaps good for human aesthetics, but WORST possible thing for the environment.

Soap/detergents can be toxic in their own right, and as surfactants, they increase the solubility of oil compounds into water.


IIRC, that was the learning moment with the Valdez spill. They washed down beaches with detergent and it only exacerbated the problem. If left alone, the wave action and natural breakdown processes did a better job of cleaning up.

A large part of the enduring problem in Louisiana will be the oil sticking to the root structure of the marshes. I can't speak to absorption in the soil, although when I've been in similar areas in Florida one can see natural oils seeping out with a sheen on the water.

If Benzine has a half-life in water of between 2 and 20 days, that is good news.

I know that in Ecuador, with the litigation against Chevron, one of the big questions is whether spills by Texaco many years ago might be causing benzine pollution of the water today. Needless to say, testing of water today yields a result of exactly zero benzene pollution. If oil did spill many years ago, any benzine pollution would be long gone.

Floating a quarter mile down in the Gulf, the half-lifetime should be MUCH longer. Likely years.

I dealt with a building built over an old service station (over 25 years before). After a very heavy rain, fumes came close to the Lower Explosive Limit inside (as measured by NOFD Haz Mat) and benzene exposure was over 1,000 times OSHA limits.

During remediation (injecting air into the ground water), benzene did decline faster than the other measured components in the ground water (the building was kept empty for a couple of years).


Gail -

I'm curious as to where you got this benzene (not 'benzine') half-life in water number of 2 to 20 days.

I hope you realize that benzene (and other organic compounds) don't have a specific half-life in the same sense that a radioactive element like uranium has a fixed half-life of radioactive decay.

How long benzene and other soluble organic substances last in an aqueous environment is totally dependent on such factors as concentration, pH, oxidation/reduction potential, level of biochemical activity coupled with nutrient availability, and presence of other chemical constituents. So unless one specifies those sort of conditions, the term 'benzene half-life' is essentially meaningless.

FYI, benzene in a deep groundwater environment can last for centuries, if not eons. Which is why in many groundwater contamination sites, one frequently encounters benzene and its sister compounds, toluene and xylene (the group commonly referred to as BTX), the origin of which is usually gasoline or crude oil.

I was reading what AlanFromBigEasy posted above. Not my number.

Just a clarification on that Joule - Most commonly tested as BTEX - with the "E" being ethylbenzene - which IIRC is a major component of styrene. We often use BTEX testing in ground water monitoring and for tracing sudden appearances of volatiles back to suspected contaminated sites.

Also often used for site remediation verification testing and spill clean-up verifications.

Other than that, well explained - good to see others with a knowlege of water chemistry!

Enviro Tech -

Thanks for the clarification re BTEX. It's been quite a while since I dealt with this stuff and I'm a bit rusty.

I do believe you are correct in that ethylbenzene is used in the manufacture of styrene, as a site I was involved in manufactured styrene, which was in turn used in the manufacture of synthetic rubber, and it was heavily contaminated with both benzene and ethylbenzene.

One issue not discussed is dispersants:

I was working in a marine biotoxicity lab when Exxon Valdez occurred. We were rushed dispersant to test for its effect on living creatures. These are the chemicals they dump/spray/bomb onto the spill to beak-up or disperse the floating oil.

The dispersants had 100% toxicity on all of our various living creatures (The lab was basically a fish Nuremberg).

The math is that we just kill everything the dispersant touches - mainly fish out at sea - because it's better than seeing oil on the beaches and having it kill things we can see like otters or birds.

139,459 gallons of dispersant have been deployed and an additional 51,000 gallons are available.


Hopefully, they will run out soon !


Did anyone ever get anywhere with bacteria bred/engineered to metabolize petroleum? I recall reading stories about research, but wonder if it ever got commercialized. Presumably not, since we're not hearing about it now. Were there specific problems with making it practical for use in the field?

We read about those genetically engineered bacteria that would eat up spills way back in the late 80s and early 90s. I was living in Portland, TX at the time, on the shore of Nueces Bay, and I remember it clearly. It sounded good, but I have never heard how it went. I seem to recall a test out in the GOM about 120 m. from Galveston, or maybe a bit South of that.

Does anyone have any info?


Bioremediation is used quite a bit in cases where you have petro impacted groundwater - something that's a bit more of a "closed" system. The bugs that eat the contaminants are pretty finicky - they need just the right amount of nutrients, just the right amount of oxygen, just the right amount of this, just the right amount of that... I think this makes them really tricky to apply in large areas where they can't be kept in their "happy place". Their appetites are similar to that of a little kid - the food they coulnd't get enough of one day - well, they hate it the next day...

You guys are a little confused about what happens in a spill because you are focusing on water and the solubility of oil in water. The oil does float on the water and not much dissolves in the water, SOOO it does get quickly (days to weeks) blown around into the land which is where the real problems begin: as it approaches and hits the coast and coats the wildlife, plants and sediments.

The behaviour of the happily floating petroleum changes as it encounters wetlands. Coastal tidal marshes that ring the Gulf coast all the way down to Tampa, Florida (Mangroves marshes take over just above Tampa). Tidal means they are flushed by high tides (twice daily here), so oily water is daily mixed inward. Soupy organic sediments in the marshes will get mixed with oil. They will likely demonstrate have huge absorptive capacity. The North Gulf is an region with a strong westerly wind component in cooler months and stronger southerly components in warmer months, so most of the oil will likely head toward the coast for now. The leaking well is in deep water right at the edge of an incredible large, shallow and very slightly slope shelf:

so currents are less of a driving force once it gets into shallower water,


The shelf is almost flat. In the Florida Big Bend it is sometimes over 40 miles to 20 meters depth, slopes on the order of one foot per mile. The tidal marshes past Cape San Blas (Apalachicola, FL) are up to 5 miles wide. Offshore in Apalachee Bay are the largest marine submerged grass flats on Earth. Now this is a fish heaven. All these marshes breed fierce mosquitos and and even worse are the chironomid midges ("no see-ums")that will bite in such numbers and with such persistence that they can cause panic as you flee their onslaught. Because of the huge marshes and pesky blood sucking insects there is almost development along the Florida Big bend. Between the Big Bend and the Mississippi, marshes tend to be found behind longshore islands.

The marshes and the offshore grass flat ecosystem are hugely productive, protecting small reproductive stages of all the important fish species in the NE Gulf of Mexico.

Enter the crude petroleum which will physically coat the marsh plants and exposed beaches. Petroleum water solubilities then becomes meaningless as the oil is dispersed and physically absorbed onto the sediments. The coastal sediments are deep. In the tidal creeks and marshes, it may be 2 -3 feet deep. You can walk in them only if you keep moving. I worked on an ecology study the salt marshes in the 1970's and we used a tracked amphibious vehicle to carry seines and traps and scientists. More than once we had to be pulled by rope out of creek mud when our wader boots got stuck as we pulled seines. Even porpoises would get stuck when they strayed too far inland on their fishing expeditions. The oil will flow into these areas and get mixed into and absorbed onto microscopically fine sediments. The whole offshore grasslands and salt marsh ecosystems are huge sediment traps. Now they will function as petroleum traps: contaminated sediment will get dispersed into the offshore shallows by tidal flushing of the salt marshes. There may be greater rates of microbial activity to break down the adsorbed petroleum, but this may also mean die off of existing microbes, replacement with new species that can survive and deposition of released nutrients into the water column. Add to that the die off of the marsh plants and we will probably see massive eutriphication (causing fish kills from anaerobic conditions) in addition to more direct kills from toxic chemicals absorbed on suspended particulate. If marsh plants are killed in large numbers, this could lead to much higher erosion rates. The marshes are physical storm buffers and they slow the advance of storm surges across the shallow coastal plain. If there is heavy and widespread marsh plant die off, this summer's hurricane storm surges would be much worse behind barren marshes. The region is already suffering from increasing "Red Tides" probably from onshore fertilizer runoff, which has been devastating on shore life in the past few years. The impact of increased nutrient loads on Red Tide severity would likely be carried further south and east possile well beyond the petroleum impact area. The red tides even kill porpoises and release airborne respiratory toxins when seawater bubbles burst. Everybody coughs, asthmatic must flee. The shores of west Florida in many areas have been coated with dead fish, crabs, everything. I have seined in these areas and come up with nothing alive. So you see this spill may have enormous impacts, all the way down to the tip of Florida... I am crying.

Indeed it may. Let's hope they stop the hemmorraging before long.

Conflated - Excellent presentation. You should be on the news shows talking about this. It must be a sad chore being an ecologist in this day and age.


It has always been a sad chore being an ecologist. One step forward, two steps back.

As an ecologist, this oil spill in the Gulf has really sickened me...

sgage - I have a question for you. When a trained ecologist goes into an environmental disaster such the one unfolding in the gulf, to try and perform evaluations or remediation, are you susceptible to Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder? If so what is the treatment for it in the case of ecologists?


PTSD was originally a diagnosis for soldiers under the extra-ordinary stresses of combat. It used to be called "shell shock," which expresses quite well the emotional and mental devastation of people under continual, life-threatening stess.

Now we have PTSD, which is for everyone and anyone, with "treatments" like "post-incident stress debriefings" or CISM, Critical Incident Stress Management (sounds important!) which turn out to be more HARMFUL than good:

Lilienfeld's list of potentially harmful treatments is as follows. For a more thorough description of each therapy and the evidence for its harmful effects, consult the Lilienfeld (2007) article:

Level 1 (probably harmful for some individuals)

1. Critical incident stress debriefing: Heightened risk for PTSD symptoms
2. Scared Straight interventions: Exacerbation of conduct problems
3. Facilitated communication: False accusations of child abuse against family members
4. Attachment therapies (e.g., rebirthing): Death and serious injury to children
5. Recovered-memory techniques: Production of false memories of traumas
6. Dissociative identity disorder-oriented therapy: Induction of "alter" personalities
7. Grief counseling for individuals with normal bereavement reactions: Increases depressive symptoms
8. Expressive-experiential therapies (e.g., Gestalt): Exacerbation of painful emotions
9. Boot-camp interventions for conduct disorder: Exacerbation of conduct problems
10. DARE programs: Increased intake of alcohol and other substances


The "Lilienfeld" quoted edited a wonderful book debunking psychology myths, 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology.

This is a really intriguing question, and one I have dealt with for all my adult life. Maybe all my conscious life.

Well, I would say yes, but not only for trained ecologists, but for anyone with a sensitivity to the natural world (or what I call the Real World). And it's something that you carry all the time, because as hideous as this particular event is, there is incredibly horrific stuff coming down every day, every where.

Though a real training in ecology might just make it closer. This GOM thing has me physically ill as I think of the consequences and the loss.

I don't know of any particular treatment, though there are actually grief counselors who specialize in this sort of thing. There is a whole field of ecopsychology developing. Indeed, it could be argued that a huge chunk of human neurosis/psychosis is due to our alienation from the Real World. That's my opinion.

My way of dealing with it is to utterly give up hope, assume that Homo "sapiens" is going to eat the planet, and just bear witness. No matter what happens, I am going to keep trying to explain and educate and be laughed at and marginalized and jeered at by right-wing wackjobs as a "treehugger" or worse.

But you know, as we circle down and around the toilet bowl of history, and it becomes clear that business as usual is off the menu, that people are going to whine "why didn't anyone tell us?" It's the age old story.

It's human nature, and from an ecologist/evolutionary biologist point of view, it's far from clear to me that human nature* is compatible with a long-term accomodation to life in Reality.

We are "privileged" to live in a time when we are going to find out.

*It is all too easy to conflate "human nature" with "western industrial capitalist earth-rape". Any hope I might have (there, I used the H-word :-) is because "human nature" is a lot deeper and older than that. Indeed, the western industrial capitalist earth-rape mode is relatively recent. People think that it's obvious and inevitable and Progress and such, but I have a different view.

sgage That is really interesting. I'd be interested in corresponding with you about this topic, perhaps offline. Tell me how you would feel about that.


I'd be happy to discuss this sort of thing with you. Flip me an email.

sgage AT tds.net

in brief comment....

to be effective in the trenches of eco-disaster, one must be able to function somehow under intolerable spiritual malaise, pitilessly driving oneself. It's painful and undoubtedly has taken years off my own life. Yet the pain of not engaging it would, for me, be worse.

One of the reasons, I left eco-work. Seemed like a losing battle at the time and the pay was lousy. Kudos to you for sticking it out.

I used to do bioremediations of oil contaminated land for a living, so I can offer some insight here.

There are lots of bacteria that can "eat" oil, and most of them are found in soil, not water. When the oil is in the soil, and if there is oxygen available, and it is not too cold, then the bacteria will go to work and eat the oil. It is analagous to composting garden waste or biological treatment of sewage - add oxygen, and warmth, and you are in business. This is one of the reasons why the natural clean up rate is so slow in Prince William Sound (Exxon Valdez site), is that it is so cold. They would have been better off to burn the oil/soil there.

Detergents and dispersants often make the problem worse by dispersing oil over a wider area - they literally increase its ability to travel through water and soil. Oil alone will stick to the soil, providing ideal conditions for the bacteria to eat it.

The oil will do some damage to the marshes and the like (and certainly the fish, shrimp, birds etc), but those places that have lots of organic, peaty matter in the soil at the shoreline will recover the fastest.

There will, of course, be some heavier fractions that break down very slowly, but fortunately these heavier fractions are relatively insoluble, and, unless eaten directly by an animal, will not cause much of a problem.

There is an immense variety of micro-organisms in soil, once the oil contacts it, they will go to work. While it is out floating on the water is where it presents a real hazard to animal life.

That said, if you can contain it before it reaches the shoreline, the better, but once you have oil on the soil, your options are to either encourage bioremediation (which can sometimes mean leave it alone), or burn it. And sometimes burning is a good option, it gets rid of the oil, and most plant based ecosystems will recover, eventually, from burning - it is a natural process, after all.

Part of the dilemma here is that none of the clean up options are pretty - they will all involve pictures of some or all of oily birds, animals, shorelines, or digging up of shorelines, or burning of shorelines/marshes.

Hi Paul
Yours and Conflated's comments are both quite useful and, to my eye, a bit contradictory. If you two could hash this out a bit I would be most grateful.

I think they are contradictory in asmuch as Conflated scenario is what could happen if you get complete saturation of marshes and soil with huge amounts of oil. That is what happened with the Exxon Valdez, which ran aground so you have very thick oil washing up onto the shore immediately. In that situation, the best thing you can do is burn it. What they did there was to use dispersants and literally turned over every stone on that beach, and probably did more harm than good in the process.

For this situation, we will not have inches or feet thick oil hitting the marshes, we will have thin amounts. The tidal flushing will re-coat the soil with a new thin layer, then expose the water+oil to fresh air - perfect conditions. In fact, some sewage treatment systems (trickling filters and rotating biological contactors) work on this very principle.

Where it goes wrong, same as a sewage treatment plant, is if it is overloaded, and a thick coating of oil prevents air getting in - then you only get biological activity at the surface. I would be very surprised if such a far offshore plume is still that thick when it makes landfall.

The soil microbes are quite adapatable - many existing ones will turn to eating oil instead of whatever else they eat, just like people and animals, they go for the highest calorie density food source first.

I don;t expect to see eutrophication of the waterways (algae blooms and the like), but if there is enough oil over the surface to prevent oxygen transfer then you will start to get anaerobic conditions in some stagnant zones, and aeration is the answer here - even a boat with an outboard will do the trick..

Given that there is a limited amount of booms available, if the plume is heading for the shore, the best use is to put these across entries to creeks and estuaries

It's all about how much oil - too much and the damage is done, and you have to physically remove it, in which case I would burn it rather than add unnatural detergents/dispersants to the water. But I'll be very surprised if that is the situation when it makes landfall.

I'm picking up what your putting down, but, this isn't a one off event. ie a tanker didn't just dump it's load and know we have a known quantity and a good guess at it's eventual resting place. Has anyone seen this current predicament before? were the oil just keeps coming, dispersing with the tides and storm surges? I have zero knowledge of the gulf coast, or oil slicks generally, but my intuitively generated mental picture of this crap in the wet lands is terrifying. Again, having no clue what I'm talking about, it just doesn't seem like those microbes are as abundant in the marshes.

This has happened before. Texas had months to prepare booms, mind you.

On June 3, 1979, the 2 mile deep exploratory well, IXTOC I, blew out in the Bahia de Campeche, 600 miles south of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico.
The IXTOC I well continued to spill oil at a rate of 10,000 - 30,000 barrels per day until it was finally capped on March 23, 1980.

As for ecological impact, I've found various studies by googling "ixtoc ecological". Hours of study if one were so inclined -- and let's hope TPTB are apt pupils.

Fear not .....help is on the way!

I just read that Obama has dispatched Homeland Security Secretary Janet Nepolitano, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson to help with the spill.

'Help with the spill?' Unless they are handed shovels and boots the moment they step off the plane, I fail to see how they can accomplish anything, except get in the way.

By the way, how on earth could this possibly be construed as a homeland security issue? Perhaps the government fears that angry unemployed fishermen are going to start looting local liquor stores and acting disrespectfully to oil industry executives.

This government 'response' looks like it is going to be just as effective as its response to Katrina.

By the way, how on earth could this possibly be construed as a homeland security issue?

Are you serious?!

FMagyar -

I guess my mistake is in forgetting that Homeland Security has now absorbed all sorts of governmental entities that have little or nothing to do with the original intent of establishing the Department of Homeland Security, which I always understood mainly to be protecting the US from 9-11 type terrorist attacks.

I still don't view an environmental disaster such as this as a true homeland security issue, mainly because in this case the 'homeland' is not being threatened by some foreign or domestic enemy. We have a colossal environmental mess on our hands that will cost untold billions in damage, but I still don't see where national security comes into the picture.

This is typical of the mission creep that occurs as government agencies expand beyond their original mandate. We are seeing this more and more as the DHS tries to insinuate itself into what should be conventional law enforcement matters. A very disturbing trend indeed.

the 'homeland' is not being threatened by some foreign or domestic enemy.

We have seen the enemy, and he is us.

If you see the federal response to this situation as some kind of mission creep, I could only conclude that your way of thinking is the disturbing trend.

This is a crisis in which everyone involved is grasping at seaweed. Decisions involving the public interest are being made. Do you want decision makers with authority in the endless meetings that are surely underway.

All this talk about boots on the beach and shovels in the sand and government people standing around supervising displays a lack of understanding of crisis management and plain stupid prejudice. Manufactured prejudice, at that.

You are effectively a tool for interests vested in BAU.

You are effectively a tool for interests vested in BAU.

That is a bit rough ... it is not at all intuitively obvious why DHS is the lead agency in the Federal Government response - and if it is a sub-agency within the DHS that is the lead agency, then it should be separately identified, in this crisis.

People have every right to be sceptical about Federal competence - after the FEMA shambles post-Katrina.

As for your other ad hominem comments - I think they are unnecessary too. Perfectly okay to disagree with, or correct, someone - but you're also entitled to be polite about it.

Wow, what a hypocrite. Practice what you preach.

The U.S. Coast Guard (the most effective gov't agency during Katrina and the one equipped to help now) is part of the Dept. of Homeland Security.

I have nothing but admiration for the Coasties, a feeling I do not share with other parts of our government.


I have nothing but admiration for the Coasties, a feeling I do not share with other parts of our government.

I second that!

Joule- Isn't FEMA under Homeland Security? Is this an emergency? Warranting management? If you want to be a (blank) about it just to be a (blank) about it, why post here? I am sure redstate will welcome you warmly...

wisco -

Sure it is. And FEMA did a great job in helping out with Katrina, didn't they? We should expect much the same.

There has been a change in management.

Before joining the DHS/FEMA, Michael D. Brown was the Judges and Stewards Commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association.

W. Craig Fugate began serving in the position of Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in May 2009.

Prior to coming to FEMA, Mr. Fugate served as Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM). In that role since 2001, he managed 138 full-time staff and a budget of $745 million. His agency coordinated disaster response, recovery, preparedness and mitigation efforts with each of the state's 67 counties and local governments.

Mr. Fugate began his emergency management career as a volunteer firefighter, Emergency Paramedic, and finally as a Lieutenant with the Alachua County Fire Rescue. Eventually, he moved from exclusive fire rescue operations to serving as the Emergency Manager for Alachua County in Gainesville, Florida. He spent a decade in that role until May 1997 when he was appointed Bureau Chief for Preparedness and Response for FDEM.

Within FDEM, Mr. Fugate's role as Chief of the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) kept him busy during 1998. That year, the SERT team was active for more than 200 days as a result of numerous floods, tornadoes, wildfires, and Hurricane Georges.

In September 2003, again under Mr. Fugate's stewardship, the Florida Emergency Management Program became the first statewide emergency management program in the nation to receive full accreditation from the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP).

During his years at FDEM, Mr. Fugate served as the State Coordinating Officer in Florida for 11 Presidentially-declared disasters and the management of $4.5 billion in federal disaster assistance.

In 2004, Mr. Fugate managed the largest federal disaster response in Florida history as four major hurricanes impacted the state in quick succession (Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne). In 2005, Florida was again impacted by major disasters when three more hurricanes made landfall in the state (Dennis, Katrina and Wilma). The impact from Hurricane Katrina was felt more strongly in the Gulf Coast states to the west but under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact or EMAC, Florida launched the largest mutual aid response in its history in support of those states.

Offtopic, but I can remember the time in the late 90s when various US rightwing groups were declaring that FEMA was a frighteningly efficient "totalitarian putsch waiting to be activated", with apparently irrefutable evidence from the relevant government statues revealing it's true nature.

"...I fail to see how they can accomplish anything..."

At least it gets the top management of those departments to get up close to see what is really going on... gets the generals up to the front lines, so to speak. Gives them a feel for how bad the humidity, the heat, the general problems of moving workers around is, and gets them to see the faces & "feel the pain" of the ordinary citizen who is gonna suffer shortly because of all this.

Management by walking around.

Or - To look at it another way - it's Better than keeping them in their air-conditioned offices.

The fact that the federal government is taking overall responsibility for the clean up encourages me greatly.
The corporations and their lawyers would be heading to court for years of finger-pointing and diluting any money claims for actual clean up.
In Capitalist China, Tony Hayward would be taken out and shot for 'errors' and the slick would not be cleaned up.
In Capitalist USA, the bought-and-paid-for law courts would fund dozens of law firms for years and the slick would not be cleaned up.
The Socialist Obama administration will oversea the clean up come what may.
The least costly is option #1.
The only practical approach is #3.


and the gov't will endure endless criticism about the $$ and how inept they are and how they just stand around...

But in the end if they clean up half of the spill willingly then it's 100% more than the corporations would do willingly.

Who can honestly say that if this "incident" happened in the absence of government that BP et al. wouldn't just walk (float) away from it.

Gov't response will be far more effective because much time and energy is being expended by BP moving into CYA mode.

Gov cleanup - taxpayers pay.

BP cleanup - consumers pay higher prices.

Either way we pay so I say bring on the troops and get her done.

Ignorant -

Plus the fact that the heads of Homeland Security, Dept. of the Interior, and the EPA are going to be on site will offer great potential for lots of photo ops demonstrating that the Obama administration is right there on top of the situation.

I think Obama has learned his lesson well from the serious political fallout suffered by Dubya in the wake of Katrina and doesn't want to be subject to the same sort of criticism for doing too little too late.

I cannot help being cynical, but the oil hasn't made landfall yet, so we shall see what we shall see. Unfortunately, there is only so much that can be done in a situation like this, and the rest is just cleaning up the mess after the fact.

It is not the Government's job!!!!!!!!!! To fix the oil slick.
This is up to BP to resolve. All the White House is doing is getting in the way and making life more comlicatedand slowing down what needs to be done. Now, with all the attention this is getting, all offshore oil drilling is off for a long time.......While they continue to pursue Goldman Sachs, et al., our peak oil days have passed with no plan, no alternative, and no idea what the U.S. is going to do about it.
If our hope is to pump more oil out of IRAQ, then good luck with that !!!
IRAN will have nukes in a year and there is no plan to stop that either?
What the hell are we doing?

It is not the Government's job!...fix the oil slick....This is up to BP to resolve.....our peak oil days have passed with no plan, no alternative, and no idea what the U.S. is going to do about it.

Interesting idea.

If the government isn't responsible for cleaning up oil slicks, why do they have any responsibility for planning for Peak Oil.

Let the market solve the Peak Oil crisis!

Wait a minute...that's what they're doing right now..drill-drill-drilling in GOM!

Catch 22.

The conservative mind is a wonder to behold!

Mitsubishi testing system of wind turbine powered car batteries as storage devices:

Electric Cars, Gone With The Wind

The wind-wind solution? Use the batteries in electric cars. Why pay twice? A system collects data both on power generation and electric vehicle recharging. If there is sudden demand, the power that charges the car batteries gets cut off until excess power is sloshing around the lines again. A field test of the system has already been conducted in Hokkaido, says the Nikkei. We assume, successfully.

A large windmill can charge 200-300 electric vehicles a night.


Lately I've noticed that about 180 of the 244 wind turbines around the home place are sometimes shut down even on windy days. The only thing that makes sense is that the owners have no market for the electricity.

There are 2-3 different owners of the turbines now if I am not mistaken. Some owners may have deals for the electricity and some may not. Cheap natural gas probably is giving the turbines stiff competition in periods of slack demand.

244 turbines could charge 48,800-73,200 electric cars according to the article.

Blogger Carl Denninger has an interesting post this morning. He seems to understand the concept of "peak oil" but is either unaware of the term or can't bring himself to say it.

... without energy sources we do not have an economy and essentially everything these days contains plastics - which are made of oil. Our food is grown using diesel fuel to cultivate, plant and harvest it. Fertilizers are made from natural gas....

We can try to deny the reasons why liquid hydrocarbons fuel our planes, boats, cars and trucks, but what we can't reasonably do, today, is change that, and there is plenty of reason to believe from a simple study of thermodynamics that no such realistic option will present itself during my lifetime.

This is a matter of thermodynamics - that is, physical laws, not desires, wants, or so-called 'innovations" or the lack thereof.

So yes, folks, I still think - today, with the possibility that we will have oiled beaches this weekend right here, right now, in my back yard, that we should indeed Drill Baby Drill.


I think Carl's response is pretty typical for most people who are just waking up to the problem. This is the response "Higgins" was referring to in "Three days of the Condor" :

"Higgins: "No, don't tell them now, tell them then, when they're running out, when people who have not experienced hunger start going hungry...."

Carl gives the situation very little thought, and just jumps to the "just godarn git it for me - NOW !!!!" camp.

Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead. Like Carl says, " because all of the alternatives come with risks that are at least as high, and may be higher."

What alternatives Carl? What risks?

And for how long will you postpone the days of reckoning with your feeble offshore drilling tantrum???

This brings up something that's always confounded me...that people in the same breath can tell you "There is no replacement for oil" and segue right into "Alternative energy technologies can't take the place of oil" while admitting they're "just extenders."

So...by their own logic - if oil is irreplaceable, and alternatives can't take their place but are just extenders...shouldn't we be extending the hell out of oil? Wouldn't you be extending the hell out of something irreplaceable that you depend on?

It's like being stranded on an island with no fresh water supply, with 2 gallons of water and a solar still. The solar still can only make 1 liter a day and you're drinking 2 liters a day...but why operate the solar still if it's not able to supply your entire water needs? Just because it doesn't give you the entire supply of water for a day doesn't mean it's not extremely valuable...it takes you from running out of water in 4 days to giving you nearly 7 days to figure out how to come up with supplemental source for the remainder you need or get rescued.

Whole-heartedly agree with you Substrate. You can just about tell exactly the point in their thinking where dissonance kicks in and their brain locks up, refusing to let the victim (Denninger in this case) critically evaluate their own assumptions.

I think that instead of "extending the hell out of something irreplaceable," the vast majority will fight to "get their fair share."

There will not be any serious consideration of controlled "power down" to extend the life of our petroleum resources, any more than their will was ever any serious consideration to stop human contributions to climate change.

Lots of pretending, parades and protests - theater. Lot's of activity directed towards controling the remaining resources, no matter who currently lives on top of them.

Everywhere there's lots of piggies
living piggy lives
You can see them out for dinner
with their Piggy wives,
grasping forks and knives,
too eat the petroleum.

That would mean taxes - and death befo.... whoops

I mentioned the same quote from the movie not long ago. Frankly I thought a lot of people here in the US actually believed in the “drill, baby’ drill” thing, and that they would take that to the White House lawn if they thought there was oil there too.

The thought of the Deepwater Horizon becoming a funeral pyre for the dreams of the ‘drill, baby, drill’ crowd, or some other major event like that, had not crossed my mind. It is a very big and dark black swan across the land, not unlike the recent Icelandic volcano eruption (which hopefully will rest in peace the remainder of my lifetime).

So much for thinking we know how the downfall of western civilization will proceed in the post-peak oil age. In all the commotion about the oil spill, it may be overlooked that at the other end of the GOM near Mexico offshore development is still accelerating ahead (see article about $25 billion needed per year for PEMEX).

One wonders if in the end how much of a return, if any, Mexico will make on those investments, when considering it may have to borrow a considerable sum to finance the GOM projects.

Denniger's reply to the problem of diminishing oil supply is not typical right now because so few people realize the magnitude of the problem. But his reply will become very typical when peak oil becomes common knowledge throughout the population. Basically he is saying "nothing else matters, not beaches, not wildlife, not wetlands and not fish or other marine life, only humans and our current lifestyle matter!

Of course he is right in saying "drill baby drill" if one agrees that humans alive today wish business as usual for the rest of their lives (and screw future generations). But he is dead wrong one even considers the welfare of the earth in general.

The question is, is the earth, its biosphere and the welfare of future generations of all types of life less important than continuing business as usual for folks like Denninger?

Ron P.

The environment is us.

"Denniger's reply to the problem of diminishing oil supply is not typical "right now"... "

You're right, Ron. We have not yet even started to feel the more severe symptoms of collapse. The public is not yet at that "get it right now!!!" stage of desperation - they are not yet even aware of the problem.

Yet, yet, yet.

And I know that you and most other long-time ODers also know that the day will come in our lifetimes when the public will become that desperate. And they will not think rationally "'bout the sitchiation."

They'll just vote in an Adolf Bin Laden who will "git it" for them no questions asked.

Far as I can tell, no resource depletion ever entered commonly accepted knowledge in the history of civilization. Our minds and storytelling systems aren't set up for that kind of thing.

Soil has eroded away and forests cut down. Mentioned by the Ancient Greeks and Romans.


I'm not talking about mentions by scholars. I'm talking about common knowledge of the masses. Also, it's unclear whether Greek and Roman scholars were discussing *depletion* which is permanent or semi-permanent, or whether they were discussing a transient disaster.

I agree completely. I have strained my brain trying to find an example of a resource depletion historical anecdote. The closest I can come to this concept is extinction of species.

an example of a resource depletion historical anecdote

One word: Collapse.
Author: Jared Diamond.

It is replete with such.


Name a non-renewable that completely disappeared.
That was what I was after.

I think Collapse deals with biological systems that at least hypothetically can renew.

"Name a non-renewable that completely disappeared.
That was what I was after."

Web, I've been hammered for saying this before,,,,, that's why this time things are different. This time, when it's gone it's really gone.

Passanger Pigeons.. Dodos.. Mammoths ..

Look upthread, I said something other than extinction.

But even "drill baby drill", if fully implemented to open up ANWR and all US OCS, isn't going to prevent the peak date. We can't maintain our current lifestyles.

In spite of the latest accident we are going to get full "drill baby drill" as soon as the general public knows that oil production globally really has peaked. The current debate about offshore drilling will delay full OCS development and ANWR development. But it will not prevent it.

Business As Usual has already started to end. But most people are still attributing what is going on to a recession or the unwise economic policies of one political party or the other. So the BAU mood is actually outliving the BAU reality.

does anybody know if this spill can blanket enough water with oil, so that the oxygen within the water would drop to levels where fish would die? having god knows how many miles of water unable to exchange oxygen might be a bit of a problem.

The Ixot oil spill was 10x worse than the Valdez disaster and the Gulf of Mexico survived. If the cap is successful, this will be as bad as the Santa Barbara disaster of CA, but nowhere near the worst the Gulf has seen. However, no oil spill is without consequences.

Twenty five tankers were sunk by U-boats in Gulf of Mexico in 1942 alone.

Fractional_Flow -

Based on anecdotal accounts, the beaches in the Gulf (as well as many areas of the Atlantic coast) were a mess for years.

Of course, there wasn't much concern for the environment in that era, and we were in the middle of fighting a war, so there is probably very little hard quantitative data on the extent of the damage.

That's a good point. If I recall correctly, marine life prospered during WW2 because fishing was so much reduced, and the oil spillage from sunken ships was of little consequence. There were also 52 tankers sunk on the east coast of the U.S. in 1942 alone.

The big effect of the Macondo spill will probably be residual tarballs all along the coast, which will have little effect on wildlife but much more effect on tourists (I can remember the tarballs on Galveston beaches after the Ixtoc spill).

We can only guess as to the volume and for how long ???

WW II tankers were SMALL ! And many were empty (on return trips to Louisiana and Texas).

This list shows just one tanker (Pan Massachusetts) sunk in the GoM in 1942.



I clicked on gulf of mexico below and got this


I counted 27 tankers in 1942 and 1943 from your list (the rest were freighters, passenger ships, etc.). It is reasonable to assume that half were in ballast without any oil spilled (except their own bunker fuel).


I will stipulate to that

From http://www.usmm.org/tankers.html

T2-SE-A1 was the workhorse of the tanker fleet (481 built):

* 523 feet long overall
* 68 foot beam
* 30 foot draft
* 10,448 Gross tons
* 21,880 Loaded displacement tons
* 6,000 shaft horsepower Turbo-Electric propulsion
* Speed 14.5-16 knots
* Liquid capacity 141,200 barrels (42 gallons or 162 liters per barrel). [nearly 6 million gallons]

If we assume 13 fully-loaded tankers were sunk in the Gulf of Mexico, and they averaged this size, the total oil spill would have been nearly 2 million barrels. Of course, not all oil in tankers that sank was released immediately, but on the other hand we are ignoring the bunker fuel of all the other ships that sank.

Averaged over the year of the statistics (1942) that works out at around 5,000 barrels per day for the year, which just happens to be one of the figures thrown around for the BP blowout. So if the spill continues for four years, the net results might be comparable to the results of World War 2.

It's not good, but it's also not an unprecedented disaster.

Have been following this discussion with interest today...

Was just doing some thinking about what has been said. Could some of the ships have been set afire when hit and some of the oil burned off? Where were the sinkings in relation to shore/winds/currents? Were all of these OIL tankers, or were some carrying refined products, which might have burned/evaporated off quickly?

I do not claim to know the answers, but I have to admit I am having a little trouble visualizing several tanker sinkings over the course of a year having an environmental impact equal too or greater than the current disaster.

So I did a little googling (of "oil spills wwii") and found several interesting articles and studies, including the following:

Assessing Potential Oil Spills from WWII Wrecks in the FSM (Federated States of Micronesia)

In 2001 a State of Emergency was declared in Yap, another of the FSM states, after oil began leaking from the USS Mississinewa, a sunken World War II-era US military oil tanker. SPREP conducted an independent study on the wreck and the estimated impacts of the oil spill found that somewhere between 18,000 gallons to 24,000 gallons of oil had been released into the lagoon over a two-month period, but that some 5,000,000 gallons of oil remained in the wreck. The US Navy was tasked with offloading the remaining oil cargo in 2003.

From the Wikipedia entry on the USS Mississinewa (the one sunk in WWII, there was a later one also), her carrying capacity was 146,000 barrels which equals 6,132,000 gallons. Despite what the quote above says, the navy summary report of the salvage operation(which can be found linked through the Wiki article*) says she actually held about 3,780,000 gallons on board, or over 60% of her capacity, for a period of about 59 years**. She was sunk in November 1944 by a Japanese Kaiten manned torpedo.

The Wiki entry also noted that about 2 million gallons of oil were actually removed by the US Navy, but this was considered enough to "(render) the wreck safer." (Whatever "safer" means!)

There were some other interesting hits on the google search, linking to studies specifically related to WWII sinkings, but I have not had time to read them, just quickly thumbed through.

One example (PDF WARNING):
The Global Risk of Marine Pollution from WWII Shipwrecks:
Examples from the Seven Seas

I did see mentions of environmental concerns over WWII ships STILL leaking oil, and concerns over potentially large amounts which might be released suddenly due to structural failure in the deteriorating wrecks.

I other words I think this shows that there are indeed a lot of variables involved, and one cannot state that because a tanker was sunk, all of its cargo was released immediately, or indeed has even all been released by now. More details about each specific instance would be needed.

* The second link - the first (of the initial Navy survey report)is dead.
** Or is the difference the amount that was lost between the time of the initial survey and when the Navy began their salvage operation?

You people @#%!in amaze me!

Enquiring minds need to know!

Fish gils are very fragile as is. They could start suffocating just from the chemical damage (where they wouldn't be able to use their gils to get enough oxygen out of the water).

Otherwise I believe that radio-carbon dating has shown that deep ocean currents are still well-oxygenated with up to 2,000 year old surface air.

had3z, we are talking about a huge chunk of very dynamic open ocean real estate here, while the impact of this slick will be significant with regards the over all environmental consequences, it is highly unlikely that O2 levels in the water will be significantly affected.

You and Alan are hopelessly prejudiced.
You live down there.

Try to be objective!

Try to be objective!

I think that I have been.


PS: Contemplating getting some oysters. May be the last ones for years.

Occurred to me too, especially since Galveston Bay oyster beds were hard hit by Hurricane Ike:


Majorian, I saw nothing in either post that even remotely suggested prejudice. It appears that some posters here have only agenda, to criticize other posters. Cannot we carry out a normal discussion without taking swipes at other posters?

If you think either post was prejudiced, then point out the dialogue that you think was prejudiced and how should it have been put if it were objective? Otherwise it comes across that you are just being critical because you simply want to take a swipe at these two guys.

Ron P.

I guess I read Majorian's post as playful sarcasm given many of the rather "non objective opinions" being bandied about, but my detector has been known to read false positives.

You're right! I shouldn't care at all since I live on the East Coast of Florida...

Presently the oil spill is spreading toward Louisiana and the Florida panhandle. While the forecast winds over the next few days (April 29 - May 02) suggest that the oil will reach the Louisiana coast soon, the longer term forecast and longer term spill area projections (http://ocgweb.marine.usf.edu) suggests that the oil is likely to spread throughout the Gulf of Mexico. When the oil is picked up by the Loop Current it will be transported by the Gulf Stream system to the Florida coastal zones including the Florida Keys, the east coast of Florida and many areas north. It is possible that the oil will move as far as Cape Hatteras in the Gulf Stream.

Is that good or bad?

The longer it spends in the water and weathers and spreads the less PPM for any given volume (contaminant density) versus the impact on shore??

I don't really know FF. Just saying that being on the east coast of Fl. may not make the environment immune to this disaster.

Geez I hope they can kill this well soon.

NYT blog will be posting updates: Updates on the Oil Slick in the Gulf of Mexico.

Retiring exec from GM, Bob Lutz, gives his take on the future:

The beginning of the end

Lutz has a vision for the future of transportation, and it's not necessarily a car guy's dream.

I say this without a great deal of joy, OK, but it's going to be individual transportation pods that are charging in your garage. You hit one of your normal programs, like your "go to work" program. And the thing goes out into the street--GPS-guided or wire-guided--blends into traffic, consolidates, goes to some sort of mass-transit station, converges onto a train and parks itself along with all the other little modules. At some station, your module gets off. There will be no driver involvement.

The automobile is a transient stage in the evolution of mankind's ability to transport oneself to any other place rapidly. And, ultimately, as we evolve, I think physical travel will become less and less important. Because if you can bring 95 percent of the experience in virtually--in, let's say, a 360-degree, full-screen, three-dimensional environment--you get 95 percent of the experience instantaneously. The need to travel goes down drastically. And ultimately I don't think humanity is going to be able to afford a situation where every citizen of the Earth has a car and is zooming around all over the place on concrete highways. It's just not going to work, and at some point it's going to stop.

in, let's say, a 360-degree, full-screen, three-dimensional environment--you get 95 percent of the experience instantaneously.

I will bet dimes to dollars that 95% of Lutz's success in the corporate world was due to his ability to dominate interpersonal, face to face, handshake to handshake, backslapping relationships in that world.

Note in his comments the imagery derived from a suburban conception of place, and note a conception of evolution which is progressive, as opposed to adaptive. The man embodied American dreaming.

Good bye and good riddance, Lutz.

Tom Hartmann often discusses the sociopathic tendencies of CEO's

This is a fascinating thesis, as it explains why the same ones keep getting hired. Only sociopaths are able to dismantle corporations at a whim with no concern for the human face behind layoffs. Yet the number of true sociopaths amongst the population is low and so they are much in demand by the corporate boardroom.

Lutz probably doesn't believe any of this Disney World futuristic nonsense...

It just sounds better (PR to the bitter end) than saying "well, y'all will probably be huffin' and puffin' on bikes and needing a good pair of shoes (or several - ha ha !) in the future... sorry, I can't be around to help ya with that... well, good luck... see ya later, suckers !"

I say this without a great deal of joy, OK, but it's going to be individual transportation pods that are charging in your garage.

You will notice how much of their last vision, the hydrogen fuel cell "skateboard" chassis, with interchangeable bodies, has come to pass. Car companies make cars. This public transit/personal car hybrid is totally impossible, requiring the public to buy one part of a system that interacts with a public utility, and would likely require (for insurance reasons, since they drive themselves)it's own roadway.

What if not enough people bought the modules to justify the trains?

What about the time to get the vehicles on and off the train portion, and the resulting traffic jams (normal public transit only has a car for the passenger at one end and many users do not require a car at either end; this system would essentially double or triple the traffic at transit stations.)

What about parking the pods? (People on subways and LRT's don't have to park at their destination; more spaces would be needed.)

How do you justify the train portion being massively less efficient than a normal train(the pods will take up at least the same space as 3 passengers, and my guess is that they would more likely take as much space as 6)?

What about upgrades to either the train or car portions, and reverse compatibility?

What about people who can't afford a pod? Will it only be for the upper middle class?

Everything about this says much more expensive than transit (you have to buy a pod, and pay the taxes to pay for the train and train station infrastructure, with highway access costs much greater than for a traditional station, higher real estate and property management costs because of greater land requirements, and higher fuel and operating costs for the trains) and less utility than a car (you have to wait for the train, and can only get off at certain places.) The whole thing is crazy talk.

And, ultimately, as we evolve, I think physical travel will become less and less important.

I can attest to this, to some small degree. Thanks to my employer, I am able to telecommute two workdays a week.

It is 'greener' in the sense that instead of burning FF that day by traveling via public transit to an office, I work from home, burning just 25watts from my laptop (yes, I measured it with a kill-a-watt meter), and the power to run a cell phone charger.

Hopefully more employers can find that office duties of workers that are mainly via email and the phone, can be done from home for many days instead....

Further up in the thread some comparisons have been made between the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf and other events, such as Exxon Vadez, Santa Barbara, etc. These are all in terms of the absolute amount of crude released.

I think we need to take note of the fact that something like Exxon Valdez was a singular event involving a one-time massive release of oil that then almost immediately began the long, slow attenuation process.

What we have here is something quite different, in that we essentially have an uncontrolled oil well continuously pumping crude into the marine environment. Sort of the gift that keeps on giving.

Though this is just a conjecture on my part, I think there is reason to believe that a continuous release of oil at a relatively slow rate can be far more destructive and difficult to deal with than a single large one-time release. First, it's hard to clean something up that is continually renewing itself. Second, a one-time release creates an acute environmental shock, whereas a continuous release represents more of a long-term chronic assault. By way of crude analogy, the human body can handle a pretty hefty one-time dose of arsenic, but will surely die if administered daily tiny doses of arsenic over a long period.

Any marine biologists or ecologists out there care to comment on this conjecture?

I guess these are dark times for most of us. The pics show brown flows on the surface; makes the term "black gold" look wrong. And, Black Swan events... maybe we have a brown swan here?

Watching MSN coverage with all the finger pointing... BP is asking the Dept of Defense for 'more help,' whatever that means. The talking heads are being 'balanced,' and reporting that we must 'make it safer' to continue drilling. Drill baby drill! That's all these guys want to hear.

One of the items posted above, Why it doesn’t matter that there’s ‘plenty of oil left’, had its own comments, and one of them shows how the sheeple think:

jake38 says:
April 30th, 2010 at 3:04 am
Open conversation about peak oil reality hastens the world economic crash. Some might think that is a good thing, many millions including most probably your own family will die.

So... if we talk about peak oil, that will cause the economy to crash. Never mind what happens if we shut the F up and wait a while longer. Nope. We don't want to talk about it, hear about it, and good God, spend money on remedies and making changes needed for survival? Never!

Dark times, indeed! I have always wondered how it would look when TSHTF; is this an inkling?


Edit: MSNBC is covering John Edwards' affair with more interest that the GOM spill!


Good news! Just in: The DOJ is sending in a team to monitor the spill! Whee!!!!


217,000 feet of boom have been laid in the GOM to try to contain the spill! That would be about 40 miles... what I saw on the map looked like about 400 miles. Bandaids on broken bones.

The boom was announced by POTUS.


Its kinda like the 700 mile fence the US has built to solve the immigration problem along the 1900 mile US Mexican border. Hmm, maybe Joule's objection to DHS being involved in this has some basis after all...

Tear down those booms Mr Gorbachev! Never mind, that analogy doesn't make sense, even to me. We are just FUBAR ;-)

On the other hand, there probably are some places that matter more than others. They are undoubtedly in triage mode by now. We're unable to avoid environmental impact, the game now is to try to prevent the very worst of it.

Experts: Oil May Be Leaking at Rate of 25,000 Barrels a Day in Gulf

Ian MacDonald, professor of oceanography at Florida State University who specializes in tracking ocean oil seeps from satellite imagery, said there may already be more than 9 million gallons of oil floating in the Gulf now, based on his estimate of a 25,000 barrel-a-day leak rate. That's compared to 12 million gallons spilled in the Valdez accident.

John Amos, a geologist who has worked as a consultant with companies such as BP, ExxonMobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC on tracking and measuring oil spills from satellite data, said NOAA raised its estimates to 5,000 barrels a day after he and his colleagues published calculations that showed the original figures were far too low based on the NOAA data. Amos has also previously participated in a joint industry-NASA study using satellite imagines to detect and track oil slicks. Mr. Amos said the 5,000 barrels a day is the "extremely low end" of their estimates. He said, based on NOAA maps, a more realistic figure is 20,000 barrels a day.

Didn't an environmental group estimate the leak at 20,000 bpd?

Yes, Skywatch or something similar if my memory is correct (probably not). I heard it yesterday and was hoping they were wrong.

To quote John Kenneth Galbraith (regarding the Great Depression), "The worst continued to get worse."

That question (about that higher estimate) was just asked at the latest briefing (finally carried on the CNN website live). The response was (my wording from memory)"don't get hung up on that 5000 barrels per day number - that's just an estimate and our response from day 1 has been to assume it could be a lot more than that."

So yes it probably is a lot more than 5000 bpd I'd guess. Reading between the lines from the answers I think they thought they'd find a way to close the BOP quickly thus the initial very low end estimate of zero (why frighten the horses if it will be shut soon) followed by 1000 then 5000 and now "don't get hung up on 5000" when asked if it might be 20-25 thousand.


Leaked report: Government fears Deepwater Horizon well could become unchecked gusher

"The following is not public," reads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Emergency Ops document dated April 28. "Two additional release points were found today. If the riser pipe deteriorates further, the flow could become unchecked resulting in a release volume an order of magnitude higher than previously thought."

In scientific circles, an order of magnitude means something is 10 times larger. In this case, an order of magnitude higher would mean the volume of oil coming from the well could be 10 times higher than the 5,000 barrels a day coming out now. That would mean 50,000 barrels a day, or 2.1 million gallons a day. It appears the new leaks mentioned in the Wednesday release are the leaks reported to the public late Wednesday night.

"There is no official change in the volume released but the Coast Guard is preparing for a worst-case release," continues the document.

I was literally just wondering about the 50,000 bpd number, since the Thunder Horse wells initially were initially supposed to be capable of that rate. What a nightmare. The next question that will be coming up very quickly is that until we can find out exactly WTF happened, should operators be drilling any additional deepwater wells?


I know you know what a gallon of oil looks like out on the water.

It looks huge. I just can't imagine.

Yeah, I'm beginning to get physically sick.

Me too.

When I first started sailing on the open ocean, looooong time ago, it was recommended in severe weather that you Heave to (sort of pull over and park) and trickle oil out of a can to keep the waves from breaking over you.

Fortunately I never got in a situation where I had to test this so I don't know if there is anything to it but I believe its a surface tension thing. It always amazed me that such a small amount of oil could have any effect but more than one adventurer swore that it worked.

I have never been there but from the maps I have seen the area effected sure looks like prime small boat messing about area. Shame.


No oil required, the stalling of the keel creates a disturbed area that apparently does the trick so long as you don't forereach out of the disturbed area you've created.

You have to wonder if we have went "a bridge to far". We are not ready for the environment.

But, like tobacco, gasoline, alcohol, and gambling, the government's take in the GOM is probably close to 400,000 BOEPD- expense and investment free.

So, the government looks like the biggest beneficiary of the Thunder Horse development analysis you have spearheaded above.


The way I put it is that the industry's technological reach is exceeding its technological grasp.

That's a good formulation WT, and I would extend it to "humanity's technological reach is exceeding its technological grasp". More and more complexity, until you get to diminishing returns. It "costs" more to execute that next increment of complexity than you gain from it. And just maintaining what you've got starts to make no sense...

Tainter says this exact thing.......

This nightmare seems more like something from a script about a collapsing superpower in terrible denial.

A tragedy in the making, truly, as the options to rely on fish and seaweed, shrimp and other renewables are narrowed by environmental destruction.

...the options to rely on fish and seaweed, shrimp...

Yeah, but that ship sailed off into the sunset centuries ago - far too many people to live on wild stuff. Fish, seaweed, and shrimp seem to have become a rather trivial part of the overall food supply. Like it or not we rely on agriculture now.

I see it as more analogous to airplanes. Every time one crashes the aircraft industry finds another reason airplanes can crash and they fix that and the odds of another crash go down. Enough advances have been made in reducing the incidence of offshore drilling accidents that when finally one happened people are shocked.

Hopefully the cause of this accident will be discovered. But even if it is discovered and ways to prevent it are found will that prevent future accidents this big? Or will some other way to cause them still exist to happen 5 or 10 years from now?

I hope the causes of this accident cover the bulk of the remaining risk because once the general public comes to understand Peak Oil they will support massive offshore drilling. Also, the US accident isn't going to stop offshore drilling in North Sea, Brazil, West Africa, Persian Gulf, Mexico, and other locations outside the US. So I'm hoping for a big learning experience from this accident by the deepwater drilling industry.

I suppose there is one possible "silver lining". For years some have proposed that you could stop hurricanes by putting a thin layer of oil on the ocean. The idea is you stop evaporation, and starve the storm. Maybe this year the idea will be inadvertently tested.

I suspect it might work in reverse. In ordinary sunny weather oil should inhibit evaporation, which cools the ocean. So perhaps a few months of this and the upper layers of the Gulf will get really really warm. Then when a strong storm comes it breaks through the oil layer, and you got enough hot water to fuel the first cat 6!

In ordinary sunny weather oil should inhibit evaporation, which cools the ocean. So perhaps a few months of this and the upper layers of the Gulf will get really really warm.

This is a really unlikely contributor, but I am also curious about the solar absorption comparing icebergs/ice/snow, then open ocean, then oil spill floating on the top of the ocean.

If we get enough ppm on the surface, I wonder if it will be yet another 'positive feedback' for global warming.

Its not ppm, but if you get a floating film, then the water molecules can't escape to the air (evaporate). A good part of the heat loss from the ocean surface is latent heat (i.e. the energy in water vapour from evaporated water). Thats why is a dry climate an unheated swimming pool can be much colder than a the average air temperature. Of course the climate modifier types, want to put the oil in the storms path, so its only there for a couple of days. But if this thing is long lived, it might be a diferent story. But its not about the oily ocean absorbing more solar energy, its about it (maybe) losing one mode of heat loss (the others are sensible heat -heating the air, and radiation).

"should operators be drilling...?


And should car dealers be selling any additional cars?


And factories shouldn`t be making them either.

How nice it would have been if back in 2009 US gov. had let GM fail. The cars would be already less emphasized...

Maybe there would have been no need for this oil...it would not have been drilled.

I know the focus is mostly on the environmental impact, and rightly so, but perhaps I am not totally out of line in noting that in a post-peak environment, the loss (and worse-than-waste, really) of 50,000 bbl/day is not entirely a trivial number from a supply perspective. Twenty days and that equals a million bbls, which is most certainly not a trivial amount. We really can't afford many losses like this, even if they were to have no environmental impact, yet we risk experiencing more of them as we move into more challenging and risky situations in our increasingly desperate search for more oil.

The popularity of SUVs supposedly added over 1 million b/day to US consumption.

Twenty plus times 50,000 b/day.


WNC Observer:

Thank you for pointing out the obvious. I personally am much more concerned about wasted oil than "wasted" marine organisms.

Ecosystems and the earth in general are very resilient. So what if some species here or there goes extinct?
New ones will evolve to occupy formerly inhospitable niches. It's happened many, many times. In fact we wouldn't be here if it didn't happen.

Environmentalists, idealists that they are, have a mental roadblock when it comes to understanding this. It's always some pet project or another with them, isn't it? And they wonder why nobody takes them seriously. Get over yourselves.

Yes, well, the problem with this is that the "new" species that evolve will be the oceanic equivalent to cockroaches, rats, crows, and thistles...ugly little bastards that can tolerate and eat anything. Makes for a nasty little world of bleak homogeny in my book, but if that's what you prefer, who am I to judge. Who needs those pesky little honeybees getting all up in my flowers?

I guess those jellyfish that are cropping up in hordes around the world might do well in toxic-laced seawater.

Thank you for pointing out the obvious. I personally am much more concerned about wasted oil than "wasted" marine organisms.
Ecosystems and the earth in general are very resilient. So what if some species here or there goes extinct?
New ones will evolve to occupy formerly inhospitable niches. It's happened many, many times. In fact we wouldn't be here if it didn't happen.
Environmentalists, idealists that they are, have a mental roadblock when it comes to understanding this. It's always some pet project or another with them, isn't it? And they wonder why nobody takes them seriously. Get over yourselves.

Hmm. If this isn't sarcasm it's a wildly effed-up sentiment.

The oil is wasted either way. The second it comes out of the ground into our current economy, by any reasonable objective standard.

And as "pet projects" go, deepwater oil extraction is a silly hobby; engineering in pursuit of pointless excess for no consciously-directed reason. The tech is impressive, but the rationale is thin.

First time I've seen actual obscenity on this site.

Sorry but I disagree. If the oil is out there, we have the means to get it, and it's economically feasible to do so, well, by all means let's get it. Granted we could probably use it more wisely.

The earth is billions of years old, and barring any black swan solar event, will go on for a long long time.

This is has been posted before but I'll post it again:


A comedian but a wise man. Listen to it twice if you have to.

If the oil is out there, we have the means to get it, and it's economically feasible to do so, well, by all means let's get it. Granted we could probably use it more wisely.

There's that aforementioned thin rationale. One could use similar reasoning to justify dynamite fishing, slavery, arson, binge eating, resource wars, abducted comfort women, pillage & looting, nascar, and just about any arbitrarily silly thing one felt like justifying. Granted, any of those things could be done with more or less finesse as might suit a given spoiled sociopath's mood du jour.

The proposition that oil's currently wasted once it comes out of the ground is pretty solid.

We burn it.

To no particular physical or rational advantage, and to measurable disadvantage for hypothetical future humans.

The earth is billions of years old, and barring any black swan solar event, will go on for a long long time.

Ok, so WTF does that have to do with anything salient to complex life? Mars and venus will go on for a long time too. Earth has maybe a half-billion years to go as a living oasis, and evolution is a stepwise process which works with what it has.

Bacteria, jellyfish, nematodes, salps and algae could probably live happily for a long time, but there is no reason to think that life in this arm of the galaxy will not be permanantly impoverished for that half-billions years by what we do now.

I get it that you don't care. I've seen the Carlin piece a number of times. He was a good dude, he did care, and if he were alive he'd probably tear you a new one on general principles.

A comedian but a wise man. Listen to it twice if you have to.

"...just another failed mutation."

Amen to that.

Out to enjoy my rototiller today....

I hadn't seen that Carlin clip. He's great, but I do think humans can do better than simply commit ecocide, dying off as a result. There's always the possibility that humans ARE the universe's only "intelligent" life form (for what that's worth).

Interesting thing at the end of Carlin's monologue. It was edited as he was giving his notion of a greater power. I wonder what was so controversial that it was cut out. Carlin was known for his repeated use of socially objectionable speech, so he must have said something really deep to offend his producers/editors, like maybe a verbal bomb directed at organized religion. Curious.

E. Swanson

What you do not understand is that our man-made rate of extinction is 1,000's of times the natural rate of evolution. We are creating a MUCH simpler, less resilient (i.e. MUCH more likely to crash) ecology, both on land and in the sea.
Let me see if I can make analogy.

Think of a complex, "climax" forest. Some small areas are "new" (forest fire within last 70 years) and filled with the species that thrive on bare ground and their immediate successors. Most areas are full of 20' diameter trees that reach to the sky.

We humans come in and clear cut it all (it takes a while, especially in the hard to reach areas). Anywhere a tree sprouts up that we find useful, after it gets to commercial size (large enough for pulp wood), we cut it down. But we have little use for willows, shrubs and "weeds" (tall grasses, vines and brambles).

By our "evolutionary" pressure, we soon have a "forest" full of short willows, shrubs and weeds where once an awe inspiring, magnificent forest stood.#

That is our oceans. Jellyfish and other species we have no use for abound while less than 1% of large whales are left. Very few sea mammals of any type left.

From a "practical" exploitation POV, just as a "forest" of willows, shrubs and weeds yields little lumber (and that little is low quality), we get 1/10th the "peak catch" today from our oceans. And what we do catch is skewed towards the less desirable species, and they are ALL smaller than they were even a few decades ago.

And after we are gone, if we make extinct all sea mammals (good chance of that), jellyfish will NOT evolve into replacement whales. It is doubtful that sea mammals will emerge again in the next half billion years. For we humans may also end the Age of Mammals on land as well.

# Most Chinese tree species are known for their crooked growth habit. The reason is simple. Chinese humans cut down all the straight ones immediately for thousands of years. But then the Chinese adapted their architecture to crooked trees (see upturned corners of roofs).


PS: Just as small parts of the once Great Forest may be managed for better yield after clear cutting, so are quite limited areas of the seas. Louisiana has (IMVHO) managed it's fisheries much below the maximum sustainable yield, but they are at a lower, but sustainable level (pre-oil spill).

What you do not understand is that our man-made rate of extinction is 1,000's of times the natural rate of evolution. We are creating a MUCH simpler, less resilient (i.e. MUCH more likely to crash) ecology, both on land and in the sea...

Well said, Alan. Well said.

I wouldn't be surprised if this is the end of BP.


The loss of the platform.

The crew losses.

Litigation costs and awards which will be much higher than the Exxon Valdez costs.

Everyone and his brother will be suing BP; death by a thousand cuts.

At some point the natural pressure of the well will decline as will the flow of oil and gas. Perhaps the company can pump compressed air into the riser or wellhead and burn the oil underwater. Need more air? Get more compressors.

The burn residue would be ash that sinks to the bottom. The combustion gasses would be little different from the current petroleum waste gasses.

(posted by Catman and another IIRC)

Having seen ordinary high pressure water jets do significant damage to well equipment and know high pressure water is used to cut stone even, could the remaining well head structure be eroding or pressure working the stuck BOP area?

In my experience, leaks, especially under pressure, get bigger over time. It is hard to imaging things getting better on their own.

Gail, Rockman posted this last week:

It's called "bridging over". The well bore and/or casing collapsed due to the sediments being eroded by the flow stream. But it can sometime be just a temp stoppagre. Pressure can break thru again.

One can always hope. Some discussion below about "helping" this thing bridge over.

Gung, it just seems there is a progression here. From initially believing it was maybe under control, to BOP not closing 1000 barrels a day, to maybe 5000, then Skywatch's estimate and then the memo that came out about up to 25,000 barrels a day. And from 1 to 3 areas leaking.

Perhaps it's more informed WAGuesstimates but I'm also wondering if the leak might not be getting worse taking out some of the well head restriction. It sounded as though Rock was saying the least likely event would be that it stayed at the same rate...could go either way? and maybe it's going the other way.

My take is that the well casing (pipe) ruptured and has been leaking in several places. Over time it is being torn apart by high pressure and, perhaps, particulates being carried by the oil. Sooner or later, the (man-made) structures will totaly fail and the wellhead will be fully open to the sea. Max discharge! Perhaps, at some point, the casing below the sea floor will fail and the well will collapse in on itself, sealing off the flow.

While the formation is producing immense pressure, remember that it is relative to seawater pressure at 5000 feet. The pressure differential is not the same as the formation pressure relative to atmospheric. Still, it's obiously at the limits of our technology to control.

Also, temperature differentials come into play. The water surrounding the well is quite cold, while the ejectant is very hot. Major stresses on any equipment used. Compared to space, for instance, a very nasty environment.

Yeah was aware of the difference at depth maybe 1/2 lb, per foot seawater but heard the well pressure was probably much higher. That was a good mental image of the casing bridging over, but I wonder how long that may take, and I understood it was by no means a slam dunk.

Not surprising the temperatures and pressures of the reservoir would be high at that depth. I think the term 'playing with hellfire' is what I've come to in my mind from what I have learned here. That's why I was figuring the well head would be taking a terrible pounding. Most inhospitable landscape.

..scariest environment imaginable...that's all you had to say :)

I calculate that the pressure at 5000 ft would be around 2200 psi (depending on salinity and temp). IIRC, Rockman posted that the well pressure could be as high as 15,000 psi. Not sure if that is actually at the wellhead. Still, "apocalyptic". Another issue is the velocity of the oil as it exits the well.

It's one of those situations where, once you loose control, you're pretty well screwed if you can't relieve the pressure somehow. This isn't playing with fire, it's playing with hellfire.

Just said that. The power of this hot high pressure fluid to cut away the structure of the well head was why I started this particular inquiry, seen it before with a lot lower pressures and velocities than what's probably down there, and the point is that it could be the reason why the estimates keep getting rounded up. Well we'll see what tomorrow brings.

Having seen ordinary high pressure water jets do significant damage to well equipment and know high pressure water is used to cut stone even, could the remaining well head structure be eroding or pressure working the stuck BOP area?

Two pics from gcaptain forum with their descriptions given in the forum.

If the BOP did not close completely then it is quite likely that blowout associated sand production eroded the rams to the point where they can no longer form a good seal. Here's a picture from a blowout in Turkmenistan that illustrates how severe this effect can be (sent to me by an industry friend)

In addition to NOMAD's picture above, here is a picture of the Annular BOP from the same Blow Out in Turkmenistan. It is quite possible we will see the same type of damage to the BOPs causing them not to seal because of washout!!

tow -- "Sand cut" is always a potential serious problem even in a producing well. About 30 years ago I had a NG well in the La. swamps flowing 15 mmcf/day. Some sand was produced and began cutting out the chock in the well head. Fortunately there was a service hand there and he heard the well winding up as the flow rate increased. Though he quickly shut the well in the rate had increased to 60 mmcf/day. Had he not the sand would have cut a hole in the top of the well head and all that NG would have accumulated around the platform until some coonass cruised by in his boat and popped a spark. They would have heard the blast 30 miles away.

Sand cut could not have caused the initial problem ...happened way to fast. But once the rig sank and the oil flowed free there probably was a lot of sand cut. Maybe a lot still going on now. As bad as the flow is now any sand cut has the potential to open up an even greater flow rate. The only silver lining is that the formation might produce enough sand to plug the well. Given the pressures involved that's not likley but at this point all BP can have going for it is dumb luck.

"Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Round the decay of that colossal wreck....

Well, you know the rest.

This is a perspective on things I daresay is unavailable anywhere else, thanks to you all.

Not sure if Tech Ticker is mainstream , but a good overview ...


NY Company Announces Plans for Production of Low-Cost Heating Oil from Wood Chips

The latest exciting announcement in the production of heating oil from biomass came from New York-based Clenergen on Thursday. The company sent out a press release announcing a partnership with Honeywell’s Envergent Technologies to produce pyrolysis oil from fast-growing plants Marjestica, Beema Bamboo, and Vaneshree; pyrolysis oil can be used as heating oil and as a fuel for heavy equipment. The plants would be processed into wood chips or pellets that would in turn be used as the biomass fuel for the pyrolysis process.

The technology is not a new breakthrough—other companies have used pyrolysis (a process that utilizes intense heat and pressure in an oxygen-free environment to extract fuel oil from biomass) to produce heating oil-friendly biofuel before. What’s remarkable about Clenergen’s announcement is the cost-effectiveness of the process. At a time when biodiesel heating oil and other biofuels tend to be more expensive than their fossil fuel-based counterparts, the entire green fuels industry is racing to create a product that can be mass produced at a cost that is equal to or lower than the cost of producing hydrocarbon fuels.

See: http://www.heatingoil.com/blog/ny-company-announces-plans-for-production...


Of course, my question would be: "Why not burn the wood chips for heat?"

It worked for my Grandfather. It probably still works.

Indeed it does still work, but that doesn't help the heating oil industry, who ran this press release. It's analagous to the ethanol/gasoline situation. They are looking to produce a liquid fuel that can be used in existing oil furnaces/boilers with modification. Going to wood pellets/chips requires new equipment.

But, really, to produce pyrolysis oil in India, and then ship it to the Eastern US is just replacing one imported oil type for another, with the additional complication that pyrolysis oil has a storage life of months, not years, before it starts to degrade and separate. It is also corrosive.

A company in Vancouver Dynamotive has been fiddling with this for years, and so far used large sums of investor and government money for little real result. The only difference with this new venture is to source the feedstock from India. This is a country which is a net importer of energy, and if they get this process up and running, I'd bet that Indian industry will start to use this for industrial fuel.

A better solution is to use a domestically grown feedstock, and then you are probably better to make torrefied wood pellets, which have a shelf life of years, and if there's a surplus can be exported.

The US has so much waste biomass that there is no need to be importing it. Import the technology, if they really want to stay with liquid fuel, but not the biomass.

The wholesale market value of corn stover (or wheat straw, or switchgrass, or wood), processed into fuel pellets, is equal, in $/ton, to the corn grain itself. I'm sure there's a business opportunity for someone, in the US, there...


Fair question. A couple things come to mind with regards to wood chips/pellets. If your home is already equipped with an oil-fired boiler or furnace:

   ►  no additional equipment is required ▬ a good quality pellet stove, hearth pad,
      venting system and installation can easily set you back $3,000.00 or more;

   ►  no visual or physical intrusion into the living space ▬ for better or worse,
      pellet stoves become the dominate focal point in a room;

   ►  no complications regarding venting ▬ there are minimum offsets vis-a-vis windows
      and doors, decks, air intakes, property lines, etc.

   ►  no mess or indoor air quality concerns ▬ no smoke, ash, pellet dust, etc.;

   ►  no additional fuel handling and on-site storage requirements;

   ►  no additional maintenance and cleaning ▬ pellet venting should be cleaned about
      every 50 bags and the stove should be professional serviced at least once a year;

   ►  no additional risk of fire and smoke damage and no impact on insurance premiums;

   ►  no noise ▬ pellet stoves are fairly loud beasts (combustion fan, circulation fan,
      auger motor, clinking pellets, etc.)

   ►  central heating systems offer "set and forget convenience" and they're far more


Paul, all of what you say is true, but there are more ways to burn pellets than a fireplace. You can get fully automated pellet furnaces and boilers, that can substitute for the oil ones - very popular in Sweden, Finland, Austria, etc.


These can come with automatic feed, etc. Trucks deliver the stuff in bulk by pneumatic hoses, it can be done entirely hands off. You do still have some ash handling though, and more servicing, but no more than a car.

But the pyrolysis oil still has its own ash content, and there may be issues with summer shut down. The stuff degrades forming varnishes and carbon deposits, so you might have to clean out the lines before shutting down, and then you wouldn't be able to just turn it on for a cold snap. Also, from their website, "stainless steel piping, tankage and equipment are required due to acidity", so you would need an extensive refit of any domestic oil fired furnace/boiler. I'll go out on a limb and suggest the combustion products could be more aggressive too, if you need SS heat exchangers for long term service, then you are looking at a new (and expensive) boiler/furnace.

What I'm getting at here is that there are no off the shelf pyrolysis oil units available, and there is limited operating experience with the stuff, and none at the consumer level, so I think it's a bit premature for the heating oil industry to be getting peoples hopes up.

Pellet systems have several decades of worldwide use, and are very reliable, though still have some drawbacks as you noted. If people really want the hands off approach they are better off with propane or elec heat pumps.

Thanks, Paul, for providing us with the complete picture. Can this product be safely blended with conventional fuel oil at, say, a 5 or 10 per cent mix, or do the problems you describe still persist at these lower concentrations? Also, when do you expect the industry will transition to low and ultra-low sulphur fuel oil? 2,000 to 3,000 parts per million is an absolute disgrace.

With regards to your last point, there's no doubt in my mind that a high efficiency air-to-air or air-to-water heat pump is the best way to go. I will never purchase another oil-fired boiler again.


HI Paul,

I'm sure it can be mixed with oil, though it may need a co-solvent or emulsifier. I have seen reports of using pyrolysis oil for diesel engines, with 30%PO and 70% diesel. And in an industrial application, with scheduled maintenance etc this may be OK, but for a consumer application I think it is asking for trouble, because of the instability of the fuel. Even if you can do a 20% mix in oil, how well will that store for a year?

They can, of course, upgrade PO into real oil by and gasification Fischer Tropsch and the like, but then you might as well just gasify the biomass in the first place.

PO seems like an answer searching for a question.

As for ultra low sulphur fuel oil, I think that will be the last straw for heating oil. It is the only thing that keeps it from being even more expensive than it is already. If you have to refine it to remove sulphur, you might as well sell it for transport fuel, and much better use than for just heating.
We should just adopt the Sweden policy, which is to have zero use of heating oil by 2020, but they are almost there already.

Meanwhile, for residential heat, I am more and more convinced of the heat pump route, unless you are someone like myself who loves the exercise of wood cutting and burning. Nothing like roasted potatoes or damper (Aussie for fire-bread) out of you living room fire! Even did a pizza in their once, lot of effort and timing to get the coal bed just right, but one of the best pizzas I've ever had!

Hi Paul,

Fuel stability is a key concern to us. Our 900-litre tank was last filled August 24th, 2009, 250 days ago, and the gauge is sitting at a little above 7/8ths full (I ran the boiler for ten minutes earlier today just to keep the circulator pumps and valves from seizing). At our current rate of consumption, a single tank should last us six to seven years.

That aside, it's going to be difficult for Atlantic Canadians to breakaway from fuel oil. Ninety per cent of all homes in PEI are heated with oil and our region alone, with a combined population less than that of Toronto, consumes something in the order of 1.5 billion litres/year.

As it turns out, we cook our pizzas in an Aussie toaster oven - a Breville. It uses a fraction of the electricity of our conventional oven and the results come out perfect every time (much better than our Aga).


But does the Breville come with the woman in the ad?

I also have a little toaster oven, for the same reason, heats up faster and less elec overall than our AEG main oven (though it is still very efficient). We use it more than the main oven.

I bought mine (an Oster) at Cdn tire - used 3yrs worth of CT money to pay for it!

Back to heating fuel. When there is a proposal for a place in NS to build a 100,000 ton/yr wood pellet plant, to export to Europe, while oil is imported from the middle east to NS/NB, then there is a problem!

The oil furnaces will eventually go, it just may take a decade or three.

The other reason why I like wood pellets (in Canada) is that they are produced here. That 1.5bn litres probably amounts to $1bn leaving those two provinces, each year. A local pellet industry has lower capital and commodity costs, but more labour = more local jobs, and I've heard the maritimes could use a few more of those.

I'll take a rougb guess, and say that for every 50 oil furnaces replaced with pellets ($1k/yr for pellets *50 =$50k), you create one job in pellet mfr, while still preserving the the same jobs in fuel delivery. in Pei, with 140,000 people, say 3 per household, for 40,000 houses, and 36,000 of those on oil, you could create 900 jobs in pellet mfr, and a $36m industry, plus you have halved everyones heating costs!

If each house used 4t/yr of pellets (equal to about 4 cords of wood, or 2200L of oil), then you need 144,000 tons of wood/year. managed forest there will easily get 5t/ha/yr, (and possibly up to double this), so you would need 29,000 ha of forest to provide this. PEI has 240,000 ha of forest, so this is just 12% of the forest area to become heating oil independent, forever, and keep all that money and jobs on the island, and having some degree of "price security". Likely it may even create a pellet export industry.

This would be a far better "stimulus" project than most of the ones being done.

That's the thing about oil, - 95c of every dollar you pay for it leaves your community, permanently. In Canada, almost any wood based biofuel is, or can be, locally produced, in perpetuity. Changing to this will keep $70m a year in PEI instead of leaving it.

Hi Paul,

There can be some logistical issues, of course. Something as basic as where to store the pellet fuel. To equal the heat content of a 900-litre oil tank, you would require roughly two tonnes of pellets. I'm guessing half of all oil heated homes have outside tanks. Our tank is located inside our utility room, but with a finished basement we don't have room to store that quantity of pellets. Also, in our damp maritime climate you can't carry over wood pellets from one heating season to next because they absorb moisture and this in turn fouls-up the auger mechanism.

Our most practical option would be high efficiency air source heat pumps with electric thermal storage backup.

And anyone who thinks natural gas is the way to go might want to read this: http://nbbusinessjournal.canadaeast.com/journal/article/942980


As the estimates of the rate at which oil is hemorrhaging out of the earth continue to grow larger and larger, is it time for us to consider the ultimate solution ..... the nuclear option?

Yes, that's right. A small nuclear device exploded at the ground-zero of the leak should fuse the whole well head into a tight mass of glass, just like some of the buildings (and people) at Hiroshima. This should seal the leak quite nicely and permanently.

And I thought the 1950s campaign, 'Atoms for Peace' was hopelessly obsolete. One can do all sorts of things with atomic power if one just uses one's imagination.

I already suggested that up thread, though mainly in jest and disgust at the current situation and their inability to "turn this thing off" in a timely manner.

I suppose that perhaps three small tacticals arranged in a triangular pattern, say 1000 meters out would create a compression effect that would collapse the well, though perhaps it could be done with very large conventional explosives. I'm certainly no expert. Maybe a large bunkerbuster above the BOP would work, though it could make things worse.

Yeah, sure. We know just how it would work out.

There's a word for this sort of thinking.


Would it collapse the well? Perhaps. What would be the "side effects" (there ARE no side effects, only effects). Nobody knows. NObody knows.

Talking about applying nukes to this situation is IMHO insanity.

Like I said, my suggestion was a commentary on the insanity of the current situation. I'm sure that this sort of thing has been discussed, and hopefully quickly dismissed (though I'll bet that there are those in the military that would love the opportunity to test their weapons).

I understand, Ghung. And you just know there are folks who would love an excuse to pop off some of those things...

And all in a good cause! Who here is old enought to remember "Swords Into Plowshares"?

To a boy with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

However, for the sake of clarity, it should be stated that modern, small tactical nukes are relatively clean and 5000 feet is pretty deep. It is possible (pure speculation on my part) that this option would be the lesser of two evils if this well continues to leak out of control for much longer.

_ -_- _-runs and hides_-_-_-

The odds of any attempt at explosive closure having the reverse effect are too great for my tastes. The picture of 10K+BpD leaking out over 20 acres of fractured seafloor is too scary to contemplate.

My take is that the formation is below 18000 feet of mostly sediment. Explosive compression of the first few hundred feet, closing the drilled structure, is what I was speculating about. Pure speculation.

Rockman has posted that often these blowouts cause a collapse on their own, closing off the uncontrolled release of oil. He seems to be out-of-pocket today (perhaps he's been recruited to work this problem). It would be interesting to hear his comments on this though.

>>>>>> runs back to hiding spot >>>>>

Ghung -- my Deep Water days are over...old knees and a young daughter. Been off the net much of the day...had to head out to one of my onshore wells with a problem at 0200 this morning. A rather insignificant problem compared to BP's.

A comparable situation can happen in an onshore blow out: if the well head is completely destroyed the well will "crater": all the dirt gets blown away and often you can't even see the end of the casing. Obviously a bad situation. With the well head gone there's nothing to tie into.

One wild effect of blasting the subsea wellhead just occurred to me: what if there's a huge deposit of frozen methane hydrates under the location. And what if an exploson caused a chain reaction that released a gazillion cubic feet of NG? Could be the next great Hollywood disaster flic. Except it would be the real thing.

Ya...I was wondering if they ran into some kind of geologic "anomaly" down there while drilling? Hmmm, let the imagination go and what do you find? Drilling a fracture would suddenly release pent up energy and subsequent high pressure fluids up through the fissures. Any other thoughts?

Dragon -- Even more complicated than that. If you hit a big fracture system while drilling you might start loosing a lot of drilling mud into the fracture. This loss of mud colume will reduce the back pressure on the formation and can allow oil/gas/water to flow into the well bore. Then the terrible feed back cycle begins: more oil/gas/water moving into the well reduces back pressure more and more oil/gas/water flows into the wells..etc, etc.

One might think an easy solution is to just drill with very heavy mud. But here's the problem: if the mud weight is too high it will fracture the rocks down there. Essentially do the same thing you hear about frac'ing in the shale gas plays. But very dangerous to do this in a Deep Water well. Too heavy and you loose that $100 million $ well...too light a mud weight and it blows out. The difference between too heavy and too light can be as little as 1% or 2%. The most brillent and courageous hands in the oil patch are the PORE PRESSURE ANALYSTS. They are charged with this almost godlike power to project the needed mud weight. BTW..did I mention I use to be a PPA in the Deep Water GOM?

Ouch...hurt my arm patting my back. Oh well..just one of the many risks of being a PPA.

<<<<<<<<< comes out of hiding spot <<<<<<

Collapsing this well using explosive compression probably not a good idea?

(get some rest, Rock!)

>>>>>>>> runs back to hiding spot >>>>>>>>>>>

methane hydrates - good call - just read another post elsewhere citing a Halliburton 2009 presentation citing that very danger. The idea as I understand is that the hydrates (aka clathrates) can be destabilized by the heat evolved in cementing, and thus increase likelihood of a blowout at that time.

How many 5000' depth wells have been done? Is there a lot of experience around this? The clathrates exist in deep cold ocean water.

Yes, that's right. A small nuclear device exploded at the ground-zero of the leak should fuse the whole well head into a tight mass of glass, just like some of the buildings (and people) at Hiroshima. This should seal the leak quite nicely and permanently.

And then everybody can rejoice and eat radioactive shrimp for the next 1000 years....

Irradiated food! Wish I had thought of that.

"...the ultimate solution ..... the nuclear option?"

If its the ultimate solution then you must be talking about POPULATION. In which case I hope we can avoid that solution.

Local News in New Orleans

Lower Breton Sound closed to shrimping at 6 AM today, Upper Breton 6 PM

Oyster areas 2 to 7 (all but one east of Ms River) closed today.

All limits on shrimping in open areas removed.

Several hundred fisherman volunteered (with their boats) to help and were given training today. BP has not yet assigned them anything to do.

Oil smell reported in New Orleans East.

Plans to keep oil out of Lake Pontchartrain. Optimistic that booms at I-10 and US 11 bridges can limit impact.

Mouth of MS River "best place to hit". Next spring flood water will help clean out and renew. Other areas may mean complete loss of ecosystem and open water replaces marsh.

Boom priority on saving prime wildlife and fisheries habitat.

Fish, exposed to natural seeps of oil, have evolved enzymes to metabolize oil quickly (Tulane professor that published paper on Exxon Valdez & other oil/seafood issues), and they will swim away. Other seafood much more vulnerable.

Fisherman says worst case will disrupt "the way everything lives together in the sea and marshes" and will take 10 or 15 years for everything to stabilize and get back to normal. And from what he has seen as sea, "this is the worst case, or worse that the worst case". I do not discount his expertise.


I am so sorry Alan. This is an epochal disaster.

But everyone has GOT TO understand right now that it was utterly, totally inevitable. This is what happens, this is what will always happen. They'll call it an "accident", or "who could have foreseen" and so on and so forth. Well, it was totally foreseen and here it is.

I am nowhere near NOLA, but I feel this thing in my gut.

sgage's comment is 100% spot on! This is one of those certain to happen but we won't talk about it things, like PO itself. And, about the certain crash of the industrial age - or worse, if we don't make changes now!

So, who in the MSM is talking about it in this clear manner? Which of our political leaders has spoken the words. What I hear is, "we just have to institute new and better safeguards to make sure this never happens again." And that was from a White House official!

Our government's position: it is necessary to drill baby drill, so we will make sure no accidents can happen. Another accident happens. Fingers point, blame is cast, rinse and repeat.

Maybe the stuff is not on the blades quite yet. It is certainly close though.

Insanity, according to Albert Einstein, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. We never learn, do we?


How about a crash program (I hesitate to say commission) to execute a set of recommendations enabling us to not have to continue to do offshore oil drilling, or at least deep water drilling?

This would require no less than the total revamping of the way this society operates. This is something that will have to be done anyway, over time, and is something that in effect people here have been calling for in view of peak oil. The current "plan" is not a plan and involves waiting until the society has virtually come to a stand still because of the lack of availability of oil. The current "plan" involves spending trillions of additional dollars in offshore oil as well as foreign oil so that we can be dependent upon a dwindling resource a few more years before we are forced to do something which might just be tantamount of a depression and or a major overshoot.

We were assured by the drill, baby, drill crowd led by Sarah Palin tha t the oil industry had all the answers to what ails us, that we can do whatever we want and do it in a safe, sustainable, and environmentally acceptable manner.

We will have some sort of commission, of course, and we will dutifully go through the lessons learned and there will be recommendations made as to how to "fix" the problem. And we will think we have fixed it when the real problem is that, after four decades of recognizing the problem, we have done nothing of any real substance to address our dependency.

This is a national and planetary tragedy of epic proportions. Words cannot adequately describe the ecological destruction that is taking place and all we will do is "fix" the problem, the problem being our insatiable "need" for humongus quantities of oil.

This should be the pearl harbor of oil disasters. The enemy, which is us, has struck and struck hard in broad daylight. But this was not a surprise attack. The attack was announced decades ago and we refused to prepare. The only way to defeat the enemy is a total transformation of society, starting but not ending with the transportation sector.

I live about 300 yards from the Pacific Ocean and can see its crashing waves from my house. This stretch of ocean has been spared for now as there are no plans to reverse the prohibition against offshore drilling. Why we are spared is not clear to me while others have to suffer and just last week I remarked to my fellow residents how unfair it seems that we get to live in this relatively pristine environment while others get to have their coastlines sullied and destroyed by oil drilling.

But the vast majority of us share culpability for this. We have sat by and let this happen. Some of us have lowered our oil and carbon footprints but it is still not good enough. It will not be good enough as long as this madness, the destruction of our ecological fabric, continues.

I am sure there is more than enough brain power on this site to come up with a set of recommendations that would make this insanity unnecessary.

But I guess we just wait until we are staring into the abyss.

"We were assured by the drill, baby, drill crowd led by Sarah Palin tha t the oil industry had all the answers to what ails us, that we can do whatever we want and do it in a safe, sustainable, and environmentally acceptable manner."

From Palin's Facebook page, 4 hours ago:

All responsible energy development must be accompanied by strict oversight, but even with the strictest oversight in the world, accidents still happen. No human endeavor is ever without risk – whether it’s sending a man to the moon or extracting the necessary resources to fuel our civilization. I repeat the slogan “drill here, drill now” not out of naiveté or disregard for the tragic consequences of oil spills – my family and my state and I know firsthand those consequences. How could I still believe in drilling America’s domestic supply of energy after having seen the devastation of the Exxon-Valdez spill? I continue to believe in it because increased domestic oil production will make us a more secure, prosperous, and peaceful nation.

(emphasis added)

Stay the course, huh, Sarah? Maybe you can post here and answer some real questions.

Question #1: How much did your State profit from the Exxon-Valdez event?

Ya...I used to be a wetlands biologist...bad enough when the little wetlands get turned into highways or shopping centers...the coastal wetlands are the big ones.

More Local News

Tides expected to be 2 to 3 feet higher than normal tonight due to strong southerly wind.

Plaquemines Parish is the "toe" of Louisiana (East & West banks of MS River), with all of the MS River "passes" (outlets). Upriver from them is St. Bernard Parish (east bank only). Upriver from them is Orleans Parish (New Orleans).

Plaquemines Parish reports that river flow is apparently keeping oil out of their marshes, so far.

St. Bernard Parish "just received" 20,000' of boom from Coast Guard stockpile with help from Sen. Landrieu. More expected tomorrow. Parish President says that they are "critically close" to going it alone and deploying booms with local fishermen. Tonight local fishermen and officials are meeting to set priorities for booms.

St. Tammany Parish (North shore of Lake Pontchartrain) received 7,500' of boom and wants more to keep oil out of Lake Pontchartrain. New Orleans has agreed to let them take the lead on this (we have the South Shore) but will provide all resources requested by St. Tammany.

If we get rain this weekend, St. Tammany will keep water in their retention ponds till needed to flush oil out of Lake Pontchartrain. Increases risk of local flooding, but worth the risk.

6,000 Louisiana National Guard mobilized and are available for any request for assistance.


St. Bernard Parish will meet with BP tonight (after 11 PM) to work out co-ordination & compensation. St. Bernard fishermen will give more training tomorrow morning, then local fishermen will start laying booms. They are promised 16,000'/day as long as they need it.

1 million feet of boom are in transit from around the world.

Quite frankly, local gov't here has learned since Katrina. Take what you have and can get and do the job yourself.

The general assumption here is that this leak will last for many months and the consequences for a decade. Desperately try to save the highest priority areas.

Dead marshes: Will the worst long term impact be accelerated erosion of the delta? More flooding during hurricanes?

On National Geographic’s Web site, Craig Guillot reports:

"The elegant yet fragile brown pelican—removed from the U.S. endangered species list just last year—is the animal that conservationists fear may come to symbolize the damage to wildlife as the Gulf of Mexico oil spill advances over its marshy habitat. In nesting season, the birds lie in the direct path of what officials fear may become one of the biggest oil spills in the nation’s history.

"Even though the state bird of Louisiana, once on the brink of extinction, has recovered greatly in numbers overall, the brown pelican still has struggled along the shores of the Pelican State because of assault from harsh weather and oil spills. In fact, for 13 years, wildlife officials tried to aid the pelican’s recovery here by capturing young birds in Florida and bringing them to Louisiana.

"'The brown pelican was just pulled off the endangered species list, and they are sitting on nest in the barrier islands … the first point of contact for oil,' said Melanie Driscoll, director of bird conservation for the Louisiana Coastal Initiative of the National Audubon Society."


Some ironies are ... what I mean to say--you just can't make this stuff up.

Off the main topic of seeping oil in the Gulf, but pretty amazing nonetheless. Seven banks failed tonight, two in my home state:


Bank Failures #58 to 60: Puerto Rico
Bank Failure #61: CF Bancorp, Port Huron, Michigan
Bank Failure #62: Champion Bank, Creve Coeur, Missouri
Bank Failure #63: BC National Banks, Butler, Missouri
Bank Failure #64: Frontier Bank, Everett, Washington

This only cost us, I mean, the FDIC around $7 Billion.

I know the basic thread is about the oil spill, but today's economic news does have some interesting tid bits:


'U.S. recovery continues at its slow pace, GDP and other data show' is the name of the article.

Federal government spending is contributing to growth, but state and local governments are now a drain on the overall economy as they slash their budgets amid falling tax revenue. Their spending fell at a 3.8 percent annual rate, and forecasters expect the trend of tightening state and local budgets to continue.

Using a rule of thumb known as Okun's Law, if GDP were to grow 3.5 percent in 2010, it would only be enough to drive the unemployment rate down by about 1/2 a % point.

Other potential drags on the economy this year are residential and commercial real estate. In the first quarter, both declined, with residential investment falling at a 10.9 percent rate and investment in business structures dropping at a 14 percent rate.

Fed spending is helping growth, but at the expense of much greater long term debt. State and local spending down 3.8%. Look at the 2nd captioned paragraph - At 3.2% growth per year would only reduce unemployment by 1/2%! Residential and Business investment down double digits! No wonder the stock market dumped down today.

I just had to tune into Cramer on Mad Money this afternoon, because he's been so arrogant about this bull run. The few moments I caught him he was focusing on some company and talking to the CEO in a much more somber way. Wait, what happened to the cocky, know it all, hit the beepers guy?!

Basically we are in economic freefall, depression mode. We had the appropriate sucker's rally augmented by Bernanke's presses. Now the crash continues in earnest.

This is something the economists didn't foresee. Depression is the world's way of responding to peak oil. Not alternatives, not electric cars, not biofuels, not energy efficiency. Depression.

We had the appropriate sucker's rally augmented by Bernanke's presses. Now the crash continues in earnest.

I agree. I had a conversation with a peak oil friend a while back, and he was vexed by how the economy had not continued to fall after the 08 debacle. I told him my take on it was a lot of wealth had been accumulated while oil had been cheap, and it translated into several countries, in particular the U.S., ability to borrow massive sums of money for the purpose of stimulus infusions to stop the freefall. But when the stimulus money is spent, and oil prices resume their climb from cheap to relatively expensive again, there won't be the same credit wealth to draw on and the freefall will most likely resume. I saw a statistic today: The mortgage default (collapse) had cost 4.35 trillion so far. Even if that number is exaggerated, which it might be, you can easily see that kind of response cannot continually be replicated.

And that scenario seems to have validity. My fear is we are already past an oil price tipping point at 86 dollars. My guess is something like 60 or 70 dollars or maybe even 75 is the inflection point whereby once it goes higher, then the economy starts to slowly slide back down as more people are displaced and more businesses are shuttered.

Now we are slightly higher than OPEC's claimed sweet spot of 70-80, they are talking about being happier at 100 bucks a barrel. Good luck with that one, because once the momentum of defaults starts up in earnest again, as in 08, this next step down will be an even harder fall.

I would suggest that in the next step down we will begin to see more violence than in the first step down. The reason being that people can only take so much before they begin to react strongly. Knock them down once and they think its a temporary state of recession. Do it again and they begin to think it's a conspiracy against them personally. So each step down will probably be followed by greater degrees of reactionary violence.