Drumbeat: May 6, 2010

John Michael Greer: The principle of subsidiary function

The best place to start backing away from an overload of complexity is in the daily life of the individual. What sustains today’s social complexity, in the final analysis, is the extent to which individuals turn to complex systems to deal with their needs and wants. To turn away from complex systems on that individual level, in turn, is to undercut the basis for social complexity, and to begin building frameworks for meeting human needs and wants of a much simpler and thus more sustainable kind. It also has the advantage – not a small one – that it’s unnecessary to wait for international treaties, or government action, or anything else to begin having an effect on the situation; it’s possible to begin right here, right now, by identifying the complex systems on which you depend for the fulfillment of your needs and wants, and making changes in your own life to shift that dependency onto smaller or more local systems, or onto yourself, or onto nothing at all – after all, the simplest way to deal with a need or want, when doing so is biologically possible, is to stop needing or wanting it.

A Century of Challenges - Making Sense of Financial Crisis in Era of Peak Oil

Making Sense of the Financial Crisis in the Era of Peak Oil - Nicole M. Foss, Energy Consultant and Financial Blogger, to Present "A Century of Challenges" at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, 4700 Grover, Austin, Texas, on Tuesday, May 11 at 7 p.m. Peak Oil and the collapse of global Ponzi finance are a "perfect storm" of converging phenomena that threaten to sink our age of prosperity through wealth destruction, social discontent, and global conflict. The consequences for unprepared individuals and families could be dire.

UK: Prepare for blackouts as energy crisis approaches, packaging warned

Packaging companies need to prepare now for rolling power cuts in the coming years, the British Plastics Federation has warned.

BPF director general Peter Davis told delegates at an energy management conference last week that the Labour government's failure to act on energy supply would lead to rolling power cuts from 2016.

Petrobras gets more time to decide Cuba oil plans

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba has given Brazil's state-owned oil company Petrobras a six-month extension on its May deadline to decide whether it will drill a well in Cuban waters, a Petrobras spokesman said on Thursday.

Petrobras, which has rights to one of 59 exploration blocks in Cuba's part of the Gulf of Mexico, was supposed to notify state-owned oil company Cubapetroleo (Cupet) this month of its intentions but needed more time, said spokeswoman Paula Almada.

PDVSA to Sell $3 Billion of Bonds in Coming Weeks, Barclays Says

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA may sell $3 billion of bonds in “coming weeks” to shore up the bolivar, Barclays Plc said.

Venezuela is not Greece

Given the Venezuelan government's low public and foreign debt, the idea the country is facing an 'economic crisis' is plain wrong.

Few details left in Iran-Pakistan gas deal

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (UPI) -- There are only minor details left to resolve before Iran and Pakistan commit to sweeping oil and gas deals, the Pakistani natural resources minister said.

Pakistan is racing to shore up oil and gas resources as a looming energy crisis plagues parts of the country with rolling blackouts.

Eating Oil? What We Can Do to Protect Our Kids

Every 24 hours, the U.S. spends $1 billion on imported oil, with food production accounting for 10-17% of our energy consumption.

As oil continues to pour across the Gulf and into our oceans, it is more poignant than ever to remember that our industrialized agricultural system in the U.S. is dependent on fossil fuel.

We Need A Road Map to a Coal Free Future: Declaration of Clean Energy Independence

In the wake of the worst coal mining disaster in 40 years, compromise and political machinations this spring have resulted in a regulatory crisis of failure; workplace safety in the mines, including the black lung scandal, has emerged as a national tragedy; toxic coal ash remains uncategorized as hazardous waste; mountaintop removal operations and devastating strip mining in 24 states continue under regulatory plunder, not abolishment; billions of taxpayers’ dollars pour down the black hole of carbon capture and storage boondoggles, increasing coal production; climate legislation hangs in the balance of political games.

BP Oil Spill Is a Turning Point for America

As the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico spreads to nearly 4,000 square miles, we must see this tragedy as a tipping point to push our country toward clean energy.

Not only should the president reinstate a federal moratorium on new offshore drilling, but this BP disaster should also be seen as a game-changer. We must prevent future disasters through aggressive plans to wean us from dirty oil over the next two decades.

Dmitry Orlov: An American Chernobyl

The drawing of parallels between industrial accidents is a dubious armchair sport, but here the parallels are just piling up and are becoming too hard to ignore:

• An explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986 spewed radioactive waste across Europe

• A recent explosion and sinking of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform is spewing heavy oil into the Gulf of Mexico

What the leak says about the search for oil

The question of what the Deepwater Horizon accident will mean for the future of oil extraction can probably be answered depending on one’s views. Jeff Rubin believes it could be a turning point for world oil supply; others are not so sure.

Either way, the disaster highlights the increasing intensity with which oil is being sought.

Plumbing the depths

To give an idea of the difficulty of deepwater drilling, Mr Walker uses an analogy. “Imagine a large offshore oil rig as a matchbox,” he says. Next, imagine the matchbox on top of a two-storey building, with the upper floor filled with water and the lower floor filled with rock, sand and, in some cases, salt. Striking an oil reservoir with a drill pipe is then like hitting a coin at the base of the building with a strand of human hair. The penalties for getting it wrong are enormous. An industry rule of thumb puts the cost of drilling a deepwater “dry hole”—a well that does not strike oil—at around $100m; BP says it can be as high as $200m.

Obama Administration Offers Loans to Businesses Hurt by Spill

(Bloomberg) -- The Obama administration is offering loans of up to $2 million to small businesses facing financial losses from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Obama Tries to Avoid Katrina Comparison in BP Spill

(Bloomberg) -- The Obama administration is trying to head off criticism over its handling of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico with a two-pronged strategy: Showcasing every move in its response and pinning blame squarely on BP Plc.

Deep trouble

The oil industry’s hope that more American waters would be opened to drilling is receding as fast as the slick advances. Barack Obama, who had briefly supported the idea, has put all drilling on hold while the causes of the disaster are investigated. The governors of Florida and California have retracted their support too. “Why”, asks California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger, “would we want to take on that kind of risk?”

Because that is where the oil is, oilmen retort. The Gulf of Mexico accounts for almost a third of America’s oil production and the lion’s share of new discoveries. Most dry land has been picked over, and better technology allows exploration in ever deeper waters. Elsewhere too, Western oil firms are being forced offshore as nationalist governments curtail their involvement in big, easily tapped fields on land. The Gulf of Mexico and the waters off Africa and Brazil are among the most enticing prospects to which they still have access. If Americans do not want to hand even more money and clout to the likes of Iran, Russia and Venezuela, the argument runs, they should not curb offshore drilling. Even if they do, rising oil powers such as Angola and Brazil are not going to follow suit.

Oil lobby money unlikely to quell storm over BP

(Reuters) - Big Oil's ability to spend huge sums of money lobbying Congress may not deflect the election-year spotlight on oil interests on Capitol Hill after BP Plc's catastrophic spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP is drilling itself into deep water

Once upon a time, BP stood for plain British Petroleum. Under John Browne, its former chief executive, it was Beyond Petroleum. These days, it is more like Blame the Past.

The eruption of oil from a broken well in the Gulf of Mexico, which threatens immense environmental damage, could cost BP $10bn (€7.6bn, £6.6bn) in cash terms and a great deal more in terms of tarnishing its brand under Tony Hayward, Lord Browne’s successor.

BP oil spill not cutting port traffic - officials

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Ships kept entering the Mississippi River and other U.S. ports on the Gulf of Mexico freely on Thursday despite the spreading oil spill in the gulf, the U.S. Coast Guard and port officials said.

"There are no restrictions at this time," a Coast Guard spokeswoman said of Southwest Pass, the deepwater entrance into the Mississippi from the Gulf.

Transocean sees $200 mln cost growth from rig loss

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Transocean Ltd expects 2010 operating expenses to rise by about $200 million due to legal and insurance costs related to the sinking of its Deepwater Horizon rig, executives said on Thursday.

"It is difficult to tell at this stage at which point these costs will be incurred during the year," Chief Financial Officer Ricardo Rosa said on a conference call to discuss quarterly earnings.

Black storm rising

The Deepwater Horizon disaster will affect everyone from pelicans to politicians.

Corks, pillows to plug oil spill?

DAUPHIN ISLAND, Alabama - Here's an idea for stopping all that oil from spewing into the Gulf of Mexico: Put a cork in the blown-out well. If that doesn't work, how about freezing the petroleum to create black oilsicles that can be picked up, refined and sold?

Government officials are being inundated with homespun remedies as they try to prevent the nightmare scenario of oil washing up all over the Gulf Coast, blackening a region known for its abundant wildlife and white beaches.

Energy efficiency means more jobs

Home Star is a common sense idea that would create jobs and provide a boost to local economies, while helping families afford their energy bills. By encouraging homeowners to invest in energy efficiency retrofits, Home Star would create 170,000 manufacturing and construction jobs that could not be outsourced to China. It would also help more than 3 million Americans invest in energy-saving technology, saving families close to $10 billion on their energy bills over 10 years.

A Stirling cure for our energy woes?

LAHORE: A team of local scientists from the Brains for Innovative Research, Development & Strategic Studies (BIRDS) has made the country’s first ever high tech model of a low temperature Stirling engine in a bid to curb the prevalent energy crisis. “Using this model, Stirling engines could produce a lot of electricity at a minimum cost, as the engine is even capable of running on solar energy,” the organisation told Daily Times.

Aramco sees growing role for renewables in global energy mix

Saudi Arabia’s national oil company expects solar, wind and other renewable forms of energy to play an increased role in meeting global demand for fuels and power through 2030.

Venezuela refutes Enrique Pescarmona

Venezuelan specialist disagrees with the explanations provided by the Impsa Group in a press release this week referring to allegedly inflated contracts and inexperience to increase the power of Macagua I and provide turbines for Tocoma I, two hydroelectric projects built across the lower stretches of the Caroni River.

Review: The Biochar Debate by James Bruges

It's called biochar, and if you believe its most ardent supporters, then this unassuming, fine black powder is a vital tool in the solutions to some of humanity's most urgent ecological threats, including climate change, peak oil, soil degradation and water pollution due to agrochemicals. However, if you side with biochar's staunch opponents, then it seems like a fledgling, poorly understood technology with real risks, including the displacement of entire communities and the serious jeopardizing of world food security and biodiversity. Which view is correct? That's the question that sustainability expert James Bruges, who is cautiously optimistic about biochar, investigates in his book The Biochar Debate.

Can we feed a “Big Australia”?

The debate on Australia’s future population size has taken a welcome leap forward in early 2010. Much attention is focused on the Treasury estimate of 36 million Australian residents by 2050. Most of the reasons given for why this is not a desirable outcome centre around quality-of-life issues and whether our natural environment can withstand the impact of so many Australians living relatively wealthy lifestyles requiring high levels of consumption. However, one question that is hardly ever raised is whether we can, in fact, feed 36 million people.

From meat to wages, economic woes fuel Egypt anger

"The Egyptian people have become the dry wood ready to catch fire," said Mahmoud el-Askalany, who is with the consumer group Citizens Against the High Cost of Living and an organizer of the meat boycott.

"Social peace in Egypt has come under threat," el-Askalany said, citing an increase in theft, homicides and other crimes where money was the motive.

"These are statistics that point to the fact that there is a revolution of hunger in the making."

Peak Oil and the Return of the Jet Set

Preparations to electrify much of the country’s ground transportation are under way. But airlines have a problem: No battery is large enough to power a jet.

Fliers’ pain is Amtrak’s gain

“There are a zillion flights a day from the Twin Cities,” says Brown, “but I’ve pretty much switched to train travel for all my business trips east of St. Paul.”

He’s in good company these days as the hassles of air travel mount and Amtrak proves to be an increasingly viable alternative. During the first six months of fiscal year 2010, Amtrak trains carried 13.6 million passengers, up 4.3 percent from the same period a year earlier. If the pace holds, the rail operator is on track to beat the record of 28.7 million passengers it set in 2008.

Perhaps We’ll See Peak Bunker Oil, Too

Even low-grade oil used to fuel cargo ships is likely to become precious in the age of peak oil.

Rob Hopkins: Totnes Energy Descent Action Plan website launched today!!

Ladies and Gentlemen. It gives me the greatest pleasure this morning to launch the Totnes Energy Descent Action Plan website. The site makes the full version of the UK’s first EDAP freely available, invites comments and discussion, and will act as a dynamic portal for people to discuss the Plan and reshape subsequent revisions.

Would you pay a trillion bucks to save the Earth?

It will take a massive investment to kick our fossil fuel addiction. But we've made such investments before, and profited for it.

America’s Energy Crossroads

Daniel B. Botkin, a widely respected ecologist and author of noted books on environmental history, philosophy and science, has turned his attention to energy, with a new book charting one path to a prosperous post-fossil future in which energy is abundant but not a source of environmental ills. The book, “Powering The Future: A Scientist’s Guide to Energy Independence” has just been published by Pearson FT Press.

Kerry, Edison and the Energy Quest

As oil flowed unabated from the Gulf of Mexico seabed, Senator John Kerry used a speech today at a green jobs conference in Washington, D.C., to press the case for an energy bill that speeds the country’s journey to a post-fossil future and constrains emissions of greenhouse gases.

Arguments to Begin in Arctic Drilling Case

PORTLAND, Ore.—Environmentalists who are challenging plans to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean say the Gulf of Mexico disaster shows why offshore exploration should be banned in Alaska.

A coalition of conservation groups have opposed exploratory drilling by Royal Dutch Shell this summer in the Chukchi Sea off the northwest coast of Alaska.

Brazil Petrobras says cuts subsalt oil costs 50 pct

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian state oil company Petrobras has cut estimated production costs in the offshore subsalt fields by 50 percent over one year, a Petrobras director said, but declined to give a dollar figure per barrel.

Iraq says Kuwait reparations are unsustainable

Iraq cannot sustain its reparations payments to Kuwait for Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion, which it says are the highest paid by any country in history, Oil Minister Hussein Al Shahristani said.

‘Iraq has paid Kuwait enormous amounts of compensation for its losses and we do not know of any country in the world that has paid such high sums,’ Shahristani told reporters in Baghdad.

‘The sum of money that Germany paid to France and Britain is less than what Iraq has paid to Kuwait, even though that was a world war and the losses were considerable.’

Fire forces Shell to cut Nigeria flows

Supermajor Shell has been forced to shut down some oil production in Nigeria after a fire at a major pipeline in the Niger Delta, according to reports.

Ukraine's president doubts Gazprom-Naftogaz merger

KIEV, Ukraine—Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said Thursday he does not support Russia's proposal for its gas giant Gazprom to merge with Ukraine's state gas concern, Naftogaz.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin proposed the merger last week, seemingly catching the Ukrainian government by surprise.

BG, Lundin Submit Development Plan for Pi Field

(Bloomberg) -- BG Group Plc and Lundin Petroleum AB submitted a 2.7 billion kroner ($444 million) development plan for the North Sea’s Pi field to Norway’s government, Energy Ministry spokesman Haavard Hegna said today.

The companies will start production in the fourth quarter of 2011, the ministry said in a statement. Pi holds an estimated 28 million barrels of oil equivalent in gross reserves. The field is 225 kilometers (140 miles) from the Norwegian mainland and 12 kilometers south of the Varg field.

Deepwater Horizon: A Firsthand Account

On Friday, April 30th 2010, an anonymous caller contacted the Mark Levin Show to clarify the events that preceded the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. Rigzone has transcribed this broadcast for your convenience. To hear the actual radio broadcast please visit www.MarkLevinShow.com.

Gulf oil containment effort goes adrift

Parts of the Gulf Coast remain highly vulnerable to a massive oil spill, and crews of volunteer fishermen sit idle, because energy company BP has failed to get protective barriers to the right places, officials say.

Adm. Thad Allen, who is in charge of the federal response to the spill, said there are now enough booms — tubing that contains oil spills —available in the USA to help protect areas under immediate threat. However, "issues with supply chain and distribution" have prevented booms from reaching some wetlands and marshes in Louisiana and Mississippi, Allen told USA TODAY.

BP Spill Suits Might Be Combined, Resolved Quickly, Lawyer Says

(Bloomberg) -- About 200 attorneys suing BP Plc over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill met in a New Orleans hotel to devise a strategy for resolving virtually all spill litigation within three months, a lawyer said.

Daniel Becnel, the lawyer who called the meeting, has asked a federal judicial panel in Washington to combine thousands of claims by commercial fishermen, shrimpers, property owners, seafood processors and tourism-related businesses into a single multidistrict case before one judge in New Orleans. That could keep the lawsuits from dragging on for years and would get badly needed cash into victims’ hands, Becnel said.

Spill raises concerns of health effects

Lawsuits are already being prepared alleging harm to people who are living near or working to clean up the Deepwater Horizon oil spill off the coast of Louisiana. The law firm Smith Stag in New Orleans says it has assembled a group of lawyers in the Gulf states to process such claims.

Sopping Up An Oil Slick With Castaway Hair

Commercial booms are usually made of plastic. But an alternative source for the booms is found on the floor of salons across the country.

As it turns out, hair adheres to oil pretty efficiently, which is why your hair gets greasy. Now salons are donating their discarded locks to help with the Gulf Coast cleanup.

Shrimpers, Not Oil? A Dead Turtle Inquiry

It is now suspected that shrimpers out at sea before the April 20 rig explosion and spill caught the turtles in their nets, which can suffocate them.

Q. and A.: For Oceans, ‘Another Big Headache’

Sylvia Earle, a former chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is an oceanographer acclaimed for her pioneering deep-sea explorations and research. More recently she has become one of the world’s leading advocates for marine conservation, leading efforts to establish marine preserves around the globe.

I spoke with Dr. Earle by phone this week about the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, its implications for the health of the local marine environment and the accident’s broader significance in the struggle to protect the ocean from the inexorable pressures of human activity.

May's New Books: Football Zombies and Votes for Vampires!

Paolo Bacigalupi brings his reservations about Earth's future to the young adult market with Ship Breaker. Set on a futuristic, post-peak-oil Gulf Coast, the novel follows Nailer, a teenage boy scraping by scavenging copper wire from discarded oil tankers. His father's an abusive addict and his home lies in the path of massively destructive hurricanes spawned by global warming. It's a rough life, without much potential for improvement. Then one day, he comes along a beautiful clipper ship skippered by a beautiful heiress. Instead of stripping the craft of everything worth taking, he joins the girl and they sail toward New Orleans, journeying through a stratified world plagued by piracy and want. The recent oil spill makes this one a particularly timely read.

Toxins causing 'grievous harm,' cancer panel says

Widespread exposure to environmental toxins poses a serious threat to Americans, causing "grievous harm" that government agencies have not adequately addressed, according to a strongly worded report released today by the President's Cancer Panel, a body of experts that reports directly to President Obama.

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 6% of cancer deaths — nearly 34,000 a year — are caused by environmental pollutants.

Gardens That Grow on Walls

Vertical gardens — which began as an experiment in 1988 by Patrick Blanc, a French botanist intent on creating a garden without dirt — are becoming increasingly popular at home. Avid and aspiring gardeners, frustrated with little outdoor space, are taking another look at their walls and noticing something new: more space. And a number of companies are selling ready-made systems and all-in-one kits for gardeners like Mr. Riley who want to do it themselves. (For those who prefer to leave it to the professionals, landscape designers can build vertical gardens for a hefty fee.)

Urban parks take over downtown freeways

Capping freeways dates to the 1930s. A recent example is the Rose Kennedy Greenway over Boston's "Big Dig," which created open space by putting elevated roadways underground.

The resurgence of downtowns has turned available pieces of land into hot commodities. At the same time, the drumbeat for more parks in smog-choked cities is getting louder.

"It's essentially like creating oceanfront property," says Linda Owen, president of the Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation in Dallas. "It's an economic engine."

Mercuria Questions Need for Multipliers in EU Carbon Market

(Bloomberg) -- Mercuria Energy, the Geneva-based trader of oil and emission credits, questioned the need for multipliers in the European Union carbon market that would require the import of extra United Nations credits.

Russian special forces storm oil tanker, free ship

ABOARD THE HSwMS CARLSKRONA – Russian special forces rappelled onto a disabled oil tanker taken over by Somali pirates, freeing 23 Russian sailors and arresting the pirates during a dawn raid Thursday, the commander of the EU Naval Force said.

The raid against the Liberian-flagged ship Moscow University came 24 hours after pirates had taken the ship over and the crew locked itself in a safe room. The vessel is carrying 86,000 tons of crude oil worth about $50 million.

Oil hovers near $80 as traders eye shakey euro

SINGAPORE – Oil prices fell to near $79 a barrel Thursday in Asia, extending a three-day sell-off as traders mull a surging dollar and rising U.S. crude inventories.

Benchmark crude for June delivery was down 66 cents to $79.31 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time after dropping to as low as $78.87 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The June contract lost $2.77 to settle at $79.97 on Wednesday.

OPEC to Let Oil Quota-Busting Persist as Crude Exceeds $80

(Bloomberg) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will keep pumping beyond their quotas rather than alter official production targets after crude touched an 18-month high this week.

Gulf Oil Slick Moves Near Southwest Pass, Port Official Says

(Bloomberg) -- Oil leaking from BP Plc’s damaged Gulf of Mexico well has drifted within 1.5 miles of the buoy marking the entrance to Southwest Pass, the main approach to the Port of New Orleans, a port official said.

“I just got a call from the port commissioner, and he said the oil is a mile and a half away from the main entrance,” Wayne Mumphrey, secretary treasurer of the Port of New Orleans said in an interview in New Orleans. “Once it passes the buoy, we have to start decontaminating every ship coming into the port.”

Boat with containment box at oil site

ON THE GULF OF MEXICO – A boat carrying a 100-ton concrete-and-steel contraption designed to siphon off the oil fouling the Gulf of Mexico arrived Thursday at the spot in the sea where a blown-out well is spewing hundreds of thousands of gallons a day.

Another boat with a crane plans to start lowering the box to the seafloor later in the day. Engineers hope it will be the best short-term solution to controlling the leak that has only worsened since it began two weeks ago.

Oil Explosion Shows Need for New Technology

Outspoken oil financier Matthew Simmons says the industry needs to admit that "we are in over our heels" when it comes to applying existing technology to the deepest (30,000 feet), hottest (900 degrees) and highest-pressure (20,000 pounds per square inch) wells. "The easy stuff is over," he says.

For oil workers, accidents are 'a risk you take'

While workers in the Port Fourchon area on Tuesday afternoon weren’t downplaying the tragic oil rig explosion and huge spill that resulted, concerns about the impact on the fishing industry took a backseat to worries over whether the incident will ultimately lead to less drilling.

“All I know is, I come here from North Carolina to work,” said Norman Kent, captain of a supply boat for offshore oil rigs. “Can I get this work in North Carolina? No. So I do not want to see it go away. As tragic as it is, I’d hate to see this one thing make people say, ‘Whoa, no more.’”

Hurricane Season Could Halt Oil Spill Cleanup

Emergency rescue crews in the Gulf of Mexico are in a race against nature to complete oil spill cleanup operations before the start of hurricane season, which begins June 1.

"This [oil leak] could go on for 60 to 90 days or more," said Doug Helton, coordinator of incident operations for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). "There's a lot of things that could go on in that time period that would greatly impact our model, like the fact that hurricane season is starting in a month."

Lawmakers seek to get BP to pay more for cleanup

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers in the House of Representatives unveiled a bill on Wednesday similar to an effort in the Senate that would force BP Plc to pay hefty damages from the Gulf oil spill, as both the White House and Congressional leadship signaled support.

Palin rallies supporters of US drilling despite oil spill

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Right-wing darling Sarah Palin, who championed off-shore oil drilling in Alaska, bashed "foreign" companies Wednesday as the culprits behind the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Oil-Rig Owner Faces Justice Request as Spill Work Continues

Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Justice Department asked Transocean Ltd. to preserve evidence from an April 20 rig explosion and fire in the Gulf of Mexico, as analysts said the resulting oil pollution is a worse threat to the industry than the slick created by the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.

Beer Flows, Strippers Promote at Offshore Conference

(Bloomberg) -- The world’s offshore energy industry is gathered in Houston for its biggest annual conference, where participants are focused on business growth rather than BP Plc’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Beer and wine flow at the Offshore Technology Conference’s concession booths, and exhibitors use humor and titillation to get the attention of 67,000 attendees from more than 100 countries. Some guests leaving the exhibit hall May 3 found fliers stuck on their vehicles promoting a strip club. The ads offered free admission and had photos of a rig on one side and a woman removing her clothes on the other.

Iraq announces gas field auction

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraq on Thursday invited international energy firms to submit bids for a September 1 auction of three of its gas fields, in the war-torn country's third major attempt to develop its oil and gas sector.

Eni Lifts Force Majeure on Nigeria Brass Oil Exports

(Bloomberg) -- Eni SpA ended export restrictions on shipments of Nigeria’s Brass River crude oil.

The Rome-based company yesterday lifted a force majeure declaration on Brass River exports that had been in place since last week, a company spokesman, who declined to be named citing company policy, said in an e-mailed statement today.

Goodluck Jonathan sworn in as Nigeria's president

LAGOS, Nigeria – Nigeria's acting leader Goodluck Jonathan was sworn in Thursday as president of Africa's most populous country, as the body of his predecessor was flown north for a traditional Muslim burial hours after he died following a lengthy illness.

Collapse as Certain as Time and the Tides

Peak oil is very real. You need to be investing in well-run energy companies. We're short of water, and investing in water makes sense. And we're short of resources; so, there's an interest, especially in the last month—I'm getting two or three calls a day from gold and silver mining companies saying they want to advertise. They've been sitting on their wallets for 18 months.

Planners lack power and government leadership

A recent nationwide survey shows 75 per cent of us would accept higher density housing to preserve wilderness, but even here Ekelund equivocated, saying "it could be good or bad".

Peak oil, she conceded, is pretty much upon us. But as she also noted, this is an election year. Nobody move.

Could CO2 be the green fuel powering tomorrow's cars?

Imagine a green fuel that could power our cars, keep the wheels of industry turning, and wean us off our addiction to oil. A fuel that could stop climate change in its tracks, and send carbon levels plunging to pre-industrial levels. A fuel that allows business as usual to carry on as before – emissions and all. Because that fuel is… CO2.

It sounds like advertising copy from fantasy island. But now a combination of applied solar power and lateral thinking could just turn this into reality.

Oil Is Over And Geothermal Is The Way Of The Future

The candle is burning out on fossil fuels to generate electricity, and even for transportation. Oil is a beautiful commodity. It’s got so many great uses that it’s a crime to use it for electrical power generation, and even for transportation. Natural gas is cleaner and it’s going to be with us for a long time, but coal is a dirty, dangerous product, and it also has higher uses in the future. I hope it’s phased out as an electricity source.

One thing I do is travel a lot. It’s abundantly clear to me that we are very much a finite world. The easy oil has been discovered and is largely depleted. We cannot sustain the quantity of oil consumption that we have today. It’s not being matched by new discoveries and it cannot be. Sure, they’re finding some new fields here and there but I definitely subscribe to peak oil and another thing I subscribe to is the fact that oil shouldn’t be wasted by burning it. There are just too many other uses, like plastics and fertilizers, that will help people a lot more than burning it. I believe it will price itself out of existence as an electricity and fuel source and that can’t happen too soon.

China Guangdong Nuclear Plans $1.2 Billion Wind Farm

(Bloomberg) -- China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group. plans to build an 8 billion-yuan ($1.2 billion) wind farm in the southwestern province of Yunnan as demand for renewable energy rises in the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

Food security threat worse than climate

“The central issue in the human destiny in the coming half century is not climate change or the global financial crisis,” Prof Cribb told a University of Melbourne Deans lecture in Melbourne last week. “It is whether humanity can achieve and sustain such an enormous harvest.”

The world has failed to address the looming food crisis, he said.

A dialogue of the deaf with US climate sceptics

In many ways, it was a dialogue of the deaf. Heritage’s position on climate change, as Ben Lieberman put it, is that “virtually everything we’re told about it is not true”. According to him, there has been no increase in temperatures since 1995. “The curve is flat,” he said. A bit like the Earth, maybe?

...“We care about the environment,” said nuclear specialist Jack Spencer, “and the best way to secure it is by free market measures. Our fear is that if you take a bureaucratic regulatory approach, we’d have economic calamity.” Asked about the collapse of the grossly under-regulated financial system, he replied: “That’s not my department.”

Kerry pledges US climate bill with industry

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Senator John Kerry pledged Wednesday to move soon on legislation to battle climate change and to bring aboard industry, despite criticism of oil companies after the Gulf of Mexico leak.

"I believe that when we roll out a bill -- and we will roll it out very, very soon -- we are going to have a unique coalition," said Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts and close ally of President Barack Obama.

U.S. Carbon Limits to ‘Slightly’ Raise Jobless Rate

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that scientists have linked to climate change would raise the unemployment rate, the Congressional Budget Office said today.

If greenhouse gas limits were imposed on U.S. industry, “total employment during the next few decades would be slightly lower than would be the case in the absence of such policies,” the CBO said in a report.

Greenhouse-gas numbers up in the air

The state of California is about to become a giant playground for more than 200 atmospheric scientists. Beginning this week and extending into July, aircraft will criss-cross the skies, measuring an array of greenhouse gases, aerosols and other atmospheric properties as they fly over cities, industrial facilities and agricultural areas. Dozens of scientists will man two ground stations, while a ship monitors the air off the coast and two electric vehicles zip about collecting samples upwind and downwind of selected sites.

Organized by the California Air Resources Board and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Boulder, Colorado, the 'CalNex' campaign is designed to take a detailed snapshot of the air above California. Scientists plan to study a host of issues relating to air quality and global warming, but one of the primary goals will be to plug holes and reduce nagging uncertainties in the state's two-year-old inventory of greenhouse-gas emissions.

Earth Could Become Too Hot for Humans

Earth's current warming trend could bring deadly heat for humans.

A new study that looked at reasonable worst-case scenarios for global warming found that if greenhouse gases continue to be emitted at their current rate, temperatures could become deadly in coming centuries.

Researchers calculated the highest tolerable "wet-bulb" temperature - equivalent to what is felt when wet skin is exposed to moving air - and found that this temperature could be exceeded for the first time in human history if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rate and future climate models are correct. Temperatures this unbearable for humans haven't been seen during the existence of hominids - the primate family that includes ancient humans - but they did occur about 50 million years ago.

History Channel After Armageddon 1/9 On YouTube in 9 ten minute segments.

I am a little shocked that this has not been discussed on TOD but I did a Google Search on “After Armageddon” on this site and got no hits. Anyway it is about things that have been discussed on this list many times. Though the crisis in this series is about an influenza pandemic and not about any lack of oil I contend that the situation in this program would be, at some point, very much like the coming Peak Oil collapse.

The show was on The History Channel several months ago and has since been rerun at least one time, perhaps more. There are several narrators but Joseph Tainter was the only one I recognized. This is a Black Swan event.

Now some will no doubt claim that the Peak Oil collapse will be nothing like this, that it will be a slow collapse where this event happened over a few weeks. But a similar black swan event could happen during the peak oil collapse. Suppose after world oil production had declined about 10 percent some oil exporting countries announced that they were either stopping or cutting back on exports in order to save the oil for their own people. This could trigger an oil shortage and panic that would collapse the government… or not. Anyway I contend that the situation depicted in this film will be very similar to the one eventually caused by Peak Oil.

But the main point I would like to stress is that the behavior of people in this film depicts, in my opinion, how people would behave in any such crisis regardless of the cause. As Bob Moriarty points out in the link above, collapse [is] as certain as time and the tides so get prepared.

Ron P.

As Bob Moriarty points out in the link above, collapse [is] as certain as time and the tides so get prepared.

But even more certain, according to your oracle, is the opportunity to make tons of money in the meantime. Speaking from his cave, with the glitter of gold shining in his eyes, he says

Even though China is about to blow up, I still believe it has to transition from an agrarian society to a consumer society, and that's where real wealth is created.

I go to the gold shows because...

Well, it looks like we've still got a couple of years until China has moved another half billion or so peasants into the urban consumer mode before the end of civilization and the beginning of the age of cannibalism.

Too bad, with 5 out of 6 on their way to certain post peak oil death by starvation and murder, I was already picking out a few tasty morsels for my post-collapse pantry.

But even more certain, according to your oracle,...

He is not my oracle I was just quoting him. A person can quote and even agree with something one says without agreeing to everything they say! Why must you get personal in your replies? You could have just said something to the effect, ”According to this guy…”, instead of getting personal. The Moriarty interview was posted in the "GoldSeek.com" newsletter. Gold investment advice was the subject of the interview in which Moriarty offered this comment:

You talk about "if" we have financial collapse. I talk about "when" because no other alternative possible. Nobody and nothing is going to stop it from happening. It is as absolute as the time and tides.

I see nothing wrong with inserting such a comment into an interview about gold. Yet you trun it into a sarcastic comment about me and my "oracle". Why did you do that?

Anyway the main subject of my post was the History Channel Docudrama "After Armageddon" not Moriarty's essay.

Ron P.

In film and television, docudrama is a documentary-style genre that features dramatized re-enactments of actual historical events.


Hallelujah, Lord have mercy on my soul. I get it. I see why you know the future. You, or your sources, have been there. In the future. Documenting.

Well then. When do I get my first nibble from those tasty morsels of flesh that mayhem is going to offer those of us who are willing to fight for survival?

Hallelujah, Lord have mercy on my soul. I get it. I see why you know the future. You, or your sources, have been there. In the future. Documenting.

A few months back we had a poster who always posted in a similr vein as you. His handle was "River". It seems we now have an apt replacement for River.

Ron P.

Toil4oil, You did it again, right after he asked you not to attack him.

You know he does not think he knows the future.

Please no more flame wars. I am watching the Docu-drama-mystery-scifi-fictional-reality-show-possible-future-event thingy

Pretty cool so far. Love the action shots, and the realistic view of what could happen.

I'd stay right here. I know where the food plants are, know where the water sources are, and can fend for myself. I'd have to do a bit of praying for my parents, and everyone else, but I'd stay here. It's where all my stuff to survive the aftermath is anyway.

I'd do a bit more of getting some kiddie pools for water collection and gardening. Just across the street is a very big edible acorn factory, and several pecan and walnut trees plus several dozen fruit trees all within a few blocks.

Others might bug out, and I have a few friends that might want me to join them, but I have a lot of things that I could not move to easily that would be needed afterwards.

So keep the comments peaceful.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

You are a worthy ally.

The talking heads on two weekend news shows I watched on hulu this morning kept talking about how we couldn't stop getting oil out of the wells already in the GOM because it is 1/3 of what we get. I can't remember if they were just talking off the cuff or not, I don't how much we get out of the GOM that we use. But the point I was trying to make is, no one was talking about Peak Oil, or that all the easy stuff was gone.

A 10% decline in production, when it happens will get absorbed by the 3rd world, then when it reduces again we'll start to feel it. But before then the 3rd world will start to rattle at the eaves trying to get the food that they will be losing. Some places will be better off than others.

Another thing the talking heads did not even mention is the addiction we all have to Oil, as if nothing is further from their minds than when they'll get their next smoke.

Pathogens have not been cured, just put in a box, all they have to do is sneak out of the box and kill again. Some of them have not even found humans yet.

At times it feels like a house of cards, or a stack of dominoes I am piling up. I have pretty steady hands, but one of these days I'll sneeze and the whole thing will come tumbling down. Get your webcams ready we'll do a neat youtube trick. Build the end into a set of building blocks and wire it with C4, and hide the trigger.

I don't think the world will end, I am not a doomer, I am a gardener.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

I am a little shocked that this has not been discussed on TOD but I did a Google Search on “After Armageddon” on this site and got no hits.

I saw this program on TV a while back and thought the same thing - it seemed like a good representation of what will occur after a peak oil collapse. They did what I thought was an excellent job of depicting how people will act when the banks collapse and food is in short supply. In particular it seemed very accurate how small towns start to cut off strangers from entering. That is the point when small communities come together for survival.

Two points:

1. I think this Gulf oil spill may very well be the black swan event you are talking about. It appears that best case this gusher will go on for another three months, and maybe quite a bit longer. Matt Simmons thinks the spill can't be stopped until the reservoir depletes. That's 100 million barrels of oil. Eventually I don't how many weeks or months the entire Gulf is going to be an oil-covered dead zone. They won't be able to ship anything in or out of the Gulf when its covered with an oil slick. So it seems like this will cause a massive collapse sooner or later.

2. I'm not sure what people who are planning to survive a mass dieoff of humans think they are going to get. It doesn't seem like something I really want to experience.

They won't be able to ship anything in or out of the Gulf when its covered with an oil slick.

Could you please explain why you think a large ship can not go through an area covered with an oil slick?

One of the articles up top explains it. A large ship won't be bothered by an oil slick. But they aren't allowed to go through it for environmental reasons. Don't want them tracking the oil around, I guess.

Ships continually take on water. Water for air conditioning, desalinating for showers, drinking and cooking and water for engine cooling. If they took in a lot of oil with this water it would really foul things up.

Ron P.

Just a little ticky-tacky: a Black Swan, by definition, is something one does not anticipate. A Super Bug is not only anticipated, but expected and planned for.


Are we really going to nit-pick over the definition of a black swan event? Okay, a pandemic that no one expected, or prepared for happens. But you say such an event would have been anticipated and planned for. And if it killed most of the world's people as depicted in the film? And you say no, no, that is not the correct definition of a black swan event.

Okay, whatever you say.

Ron P.

To be fair, the definition of a Black Swan Event contains a subjective element, so will always be ambiguous. The way I read the definition, a BSE is something that is theoretically possible, but regarded so rare as not to be a practical possibility. Only with hindsight is the event considered something that should have reasonably been expected.

It's true a pandemic is predicted and planned for, so it would not really be a BSE. Perhaps, if mortality rate far exceeded the expected rate, e.g. 90% instead of 20%, it could be considered a BSE, but it all hinges on exactly what is a "surprise to the observer". Some observers may have predicted it, and others not, so it is inherently a very woolly definition.

Don't mind Ron. He doesn't typically take being wrong well; my comment couldn't have been any softer. Your explanation was pretty good.


I think the problem here is that while probably not a classic "Black Swan", the oil spill is the result of a poorly understood or inaccurately formulated probability distribution, ie, that drilling in the GOM is not as safe A)as we have been told or B)as TPTB thought.

Probability distribution is the core of Taleb's work. In fact, there is a specific type of probability distribution in finance called a Taleb Distribution(Wikipedia is a wonderful thing!), in which there is a high probability of a small gain, and a small probability of a very large loss, which more than outweighs the gains (in finance, an example of this would be a risk where a loss would bankrupt your company and/or wipe out years of profits in hours- a Russian-roulette -type risk.)

I think that this is a more accurate description of what has happened here: the regulators and risk assessors responsible for resource management in the GOM didn't realize, or chose to ignore, that the probability of massive oil spills in the GOM was much higher than they thought, and was, in fact, a Taleb Distribution.

For me, the central question posed by Taleb's work is "What is an acceptable risk, and how do we gauge it?" I think that whether this is a "Black Swan" or not is irrelevant. What people will take away from this disaster is that the risk was, and is, unacceptable.

People certainly have gotten all wound up on this. In my opinion, accuracy matters. Usually. For example, if I say I have a glass, plastic or prosthetic eye, does it matter? No. But, in talking of risk assessment in the context we now have where we are discussing the stability of civilization itself, I think it's a worthy goal.

From Wiki: "high-impact, hard-to-predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations."

This isn't the first oil rig to go belly up, thus, it isn't a Black Swan Event. The importance of his is reflected in what such a label implies. If it is a Black Swan Event, it is quite a bit easier to accept it under a "sh!t happens" frame of reference and keep supporting the risks of oil extraction. If it is not a Black Swan, but something that is actually relatively likely to happen again, then the willingness to change to other forms of energy would possibly be increased.

Sometimes splitting a hair is really just clear communication.


Falklands oil firm Rockhopper claims discovery


"Current indications are that we have made the first oil discovery in the North Falkland Basin. We will now focus on analysing in more detail the data gathered from the well."

Shares in Rockhopper more than doubled following the announcement. Shares in Desire Petroleum were also up 70%.

More info http://www.rockhopperexploration.co.uk/pdf/Sea+Lion_Discovery_FINAL.pdf (PDF)

Rockhopper Exploration, the North Falkland Basin oil and gas exploration company, is pleased to
announce that well 14/10-2 on the Sea Lion prospect has reached a depth of 2,744 metres. Initial
data collected indicate that this well is an oil discovery, which would be the first in the North
Falkland Basin.

The Company has run a suite of wireline logs and logging data collected thus far indicate that the
well has encountered a 150 metre gross interval of sand and shales. The data show that the well
has 53 metres of net pay distributed in multiple pay zones, the thickest of which has a net pay of
25 metres. These pay zones have an average porosity of 19%.

Re: A dialogue of the deaf with US climate sceptics

I think the Europeans are getting the message about the US denialist campaign. If only the US public were so enlightened.

E. Swanson

Hard to picture learning, enlightened dialogue, esp when the sole denialist expert witness for the US Congressional energy and global warming hearing tomorrow is Christopher Monckton, journalist by trade. Is that slim pickings or what.

Looks like that hearing was held today, according to the House Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming web site. The prepared testimony of the witnesses is available at the hearing link on the committee web page...

E. Swanson

Sorry guys...thought I had but click new window instead. Apologies again for being sloppy.

I must disagree with the oil patches' spiritual godfather, Matt Simmons. If the blow out occurred due to cement failure brought on by displacing the riser prematurely then we don't need any new technology to prevent a similar accident in the future. I'm sure this won't be a comfort to anyone but the technology used in this process is many decades old. And the procedure to apply this tech is also well established. If the unfolding story is true it was nothing more than a failure in judgment. No new tech can change that. But new policies, such as increased standard testing along with a requirement for certified third party evaluation of such tests/procedures. It's very sad to offer that such a system would have added an almost insignificant cost to the process. As said before you can't take the human element (and its inherent weakness) out of the decision making process. But you can easily have several other folks evaluating the evaluation as you go along.

I'm reminded of a question my wife asked long ago while watching the "Hunt for Red October": why do they repeat the orders on the sub? Simple answer: misunderstanding an order on a sub can kill the boat. It also allows others involved an opportunity to question any order. Again, it's fair to reserve final judgment until all the facts are in but had the decision to displace the riser been known by other parties it might have been overridden.

Reply | Reply in new window | Start new thread | Flag as inappropriate (?)

If the blow out occurred due to cement failure brought on by displacing the riser prematurely then we don't need any new technology to prevent a similar accident in the future.

Although to be fair we could have done here with a Blow Out Preventer that actually did what it says on the tin.

And to be fair tow the folks who build BOP clearly point out in their contracts that they will only function properly within specified limits. We don't know what exactly happened but I won't be surprsied if the incident greatly exceeded the BOP specs. Of course, that should lead to a discussion about increasing those specs. There are many mechanical failures in the oil patch but the vast majority don't make headlines. I'm arguing with two supplies of failed equipment right now as to whether we had exceeded specs or not. Every supplier has extensive "bail out" clauses in their contracts if you exceed specs. Unfortunately exceeding specs, especially to save time (i.e. money) is not uncommon. If the story of cement failure turns out to be true we should expect to see a huge tech fight on the issue of those specs being followed or not.

We don't know what exactly happened but I won't be surprsied if the incident greatly exceeded the BOP specs. Of course, that should lead to a discussion about increasing those specs.

But if true and current legal requirements and design standards for such a critical piece of equipment don't match up to real world conditions, then that seems to me to fit the point Simmons was making. But then I guess that's not exactly a new thing that potential problems aren't really addressed until after the fact...

That's a valid point petro, IMHO. But Simmons' point struck me the same as saying our car break technology needs to be improved so we don't run over some kid in a school crossing while going 160 mph. Maybe if we spent enough money we could achieve that goal. But it could be easier to just make folks follow the rules. And that improved tech won't save a child if you're doing over 200 mph.

As I've mentioned before, rarely in 35 years have I seen an accident that could have been prevented by improved tech. Human error is THE toughest safety issue IMHO. One silly example but last time I had to review an offshore accident: electrician standing in front of a closed hatch on a Deep Water semi. Decides to clean the wax out of his ear with a phillipshead screwdriver. Got the picture: standing there next to a closed door with his elbow up as he dug into his ear. Now picture the door being opened. He was lucky. Instead of driving the screwdriver into his brain it went through the back lobe of his ear.

Would Matt suggest we spend a few million dollars to prevent a repeat of such an accident? Could put high strength glass windows in the hatches I suppose. But even that wouldn't work if the hand opening the hatch didn't look out first. The tech we use in the oil patch truly is amazing. And there's always room for some improvement. But Matt seems to be offering a promise that tech improvements could greatly reduce the chance of another Deep Water spill. My point was that the critical improvements should be focused upon the personnel and procedures.


Just out of curiosity -- if the hands had noted the kick a bit earlier, and activate a poorly-functioning BOP during the gas phase, and the gas had squirted out less powerfully, would we just be reading a press release from BP about a "technical issue" that would delay production, and some mention of a contained spill and unusual rig leak problems?

I guess what I'm asking is, when it's not a catastrophe, does anybody even notice? How many close calls are out there, where a paranoid driller or mud-tech on adderall notices something unusual and hits the BOP in time? How often are BOPs used world-wide to avert a crisis?

If once a decade, then not having a plan C is understandable. If 10 times a year, a ready plan C should have been obvious. I assume there will be a better plan B (BOP) and a new plan C of some sort going forward.

paleo -- The type of incident you describe is planned for AND practiced all the time in drilling operations. The driller has a "kill sheet" that describes exactly the steps that need to be taken when a well starts coming in. And the equipment is always tested to make sure it will fucntion under such efforts. I've been on a rig more times then I care to remember when we slipped or almost slipped into a kill situation. And sometimes it was a result of my alerting them from my pore pressure analysis.

Not sure if it came out clearly earlier but taking a well kick is always anticipated. In fact, a well can flow oil/NG almost to the drill flow and you can still control it. You close all the flow back routes and "go on choke". A somewhat tense situation but they know how to handle it. If the story is accurate they took the kick at a time when no one was looking for it. I know this might sound patronizing but it can really be as simple as this: you're driving and you see brake lights come on just ahead of you....so you go to your breaks. If you're looking at you cell phone at the time you drive right into that car. If you see the indicators showing a kick coming at you go to your kill sheet. If you're not watching for those indicators and the oil/NG blows through the "kelly" (the drill floor) you're dead. I'm really not dumbing down the story...it can often be that simple an explanation for a blow out.

And yes...you notice at the time. And when you change your underware afterwards.

To echo the point, all the contingencies and backups fail in the face of simple human error. One of the bigger hospital problems is med errors. And not just amputating the wrong limb. It's patients receiving the wrong care, medicine or dose. Each order and script is checked by techs, nurses, pharmacists, yet it often happens, and in spite of the monthly meetings for review and improvement. I don't know how you might eliminate them-there always will remain that risk. I recall, years ago, how often we'd have to re-enter an animal because the vet and attending techs had left a hemostat in place. Usually wasn't caught till cleanup, when they were putting the surgical instruments away. But routine and pressure are a potent mix for human errors.

If I attempt to hit a beer can at 50 yards with a 22 I'll likely suffer a 'failure in judgement'. At 10 yards my judgement will appear to be far more sound. Simmons is merely saying that the difficulties and consequences are at the limits of techniques and materials. Add in a rush to make money and a product hungry market and there will be a high likelihood of errors with grave consequences. This is how the public learns; well, has an enforced opportunity to learn.

I get your point petro. But Simmons' point struck me the same as saying our car brake technology needs to be improved so we don't run over some kid in a school crossing while going 160 mph. Maybe if we spent enough money we could achieve that goal. But it could be easier to just make folks follow the rules. And that improved tech won't save a child if you're doing over 200 mph.

As I've mentioned before, rarely in 35 years have I seen an accident that could have been prevented by improved tech. Human error is THE toughest safety issue IMHO. One silly example but last time I had to review an offshore accident: electrician standing in front of a closed hatch on a Deep Water semi. Decides to clean the wax out of his ear with a phillipshead screwdriver. Got the picture: standing there next to a closed door with his elbow up as he dug into his ear. Now picture the door being opened. He was lucky. Instead of driving the screwdriver into his brain it went through the back lobe of his ear.

Would Matt suggest we spend a few million dollars to prevent a repeat of such an accident? Could put high strength glass windows in the hatches I suppose. But even that wouldn't work if the hand opening the hatch didn't look out first. The tech we use in the oil patch truly is amazing. And there's always room for some improvement. But Matt seems to be offering a promise that tech improvements could greatly reduce the chance of another Deep Water spill. My point was that the critical improvements should be focused upon the personnel and procedures.

Just thought of another silly example: coming off the chopper pad I watched a safety officer watch each hand as they came down the stairs. Everyone that didn't have at least one hand on the hand rail was pulled to the side and made to watch a 3 hour saftey video. What sort of tech improvement might Matt propose to keep those hands safe when they went down a flight of stairs? Honest...real incident. I remember it mostly because the safety officer complimented me for following WRITTEN PROCEDURES that were posted on the rig. It was really posted as a REQUIRED SAFETY PROCEDURE. I actually didn't know that. I'm just clumsy and always use the hand rails.

Here's an even better one, Rockman.
A friend of mine told me this one. He was a Mech-E for J&L Steel Corp. back in the day in Pittsburgh. A mechanic was burning a circle out of a steel plate up on top of a boiler, about 60' above the shop floor; no safety harness, of course. Well, as you probably can visualize, the easiest way to describe a circle is to stand in the center and draw a radius. This is exakitikly what the mechanic was doing. He ended up cutting himself right out of the plate. Approximately a second later he was dead. Sort of like climbing up into a tree. Climbing out on a limb and cutting it off.

jabby -- You're probably aware of the Darwin Awards. If not search and you will enjoy.

Rockman, in germany we have special boats, which are designed to fight oil spills. They splitt at the front building a Y-form and take the oil on the surface in between the - Y.

At this forum there are some journalists and lurker with connection to journalists. So why doesn`t the US has anything like that and why wasn`t there any pledge for technical support.

When they arrive, there is only one thing for the brave Coast Guard to do: Getting out of the way with their rubber boats.

Interesting Cliff. How heavy a sea can your boats function? That was a critical problem with our recovery system.

That was also my first thought, trying to answer why they have not. The boats are designed to protect the north sea, especialy the mouth of the river Elbe ( where Hamburg with its big harbour is placed). So it is not only something for a raely calm sea.
I saw it just yesterday in tv, when they vapored,how well they would be prepaired in case of a tanker accident on the N.S.
I will have a try, to google some technical dates.

That's what I was thinking Cliff. A calm day in the N Sea would be considereed very rough in the GOM.

Here I have a flyer ( pdf 1.2 mb text in german, of course, but the pictures are english )

Some technical data

length: 34.71 m
breadth: 8,22 m / 31m operation
power: 2 x 244 Kw
draft: 2.4 m
speed: 9 knots travel/ 1 knot operation

But no word about sea condition operation limits.
So I don`t know, wether this vessel can cross the atlantic. But it was a try to recue the turtles of the GOM.

Hi Cliff,

It seems all the pictures show it operating in relatively calm seas. I'm sure it can handle rough seas when it is navigating in a closed position and could probably even manage to cross the Atlantic in that mode.

However I highly doubt it would be useful in anything like 4 ft swells and over let alone choppy seas. Not only that but how many of these ships would be available? My guess is that even if they worked in open sea conditions you would need quite a few of them to make a dent in a spill as large as this one.

Maybe someone could build one the size of Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas


Perhaps there will ba market for Oil spill clean up cruises in the GOM in the near future...

Heres one for all those who believe that all we need is a good model to work from THEN we can solve our little predicament;

"Living Earth Simulator hopes to unlock secrets of the past, present, future"


When you wish upon a star...

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


How can this possibly go wrong? Let me count the ways...

Really? Not so many.

Due to the small reaction area and the small amount of fusibles present at any given time the worst case is an expensive repair bill for the machine.

Of course, it might never reach break-even energy production, but that is effectively the same problem. Maybe we'll learn something useful from it.

If one must encase deuterium and tritium in a gold capsule, then there is not enough gold on Earth to fuse all the deuterium and tritium. The gold atoms will be dispersed or split from the fusion reaction and therefore unrecoverable.

2009... 2010... 2011... 2012 (maybe). You can be sure if it's Westinghouse, but not AECL apparently.

Nuclear: Graham says he will send letter to reinforce demand that extra plant refit costs be covered

ST. ANDREWS - Premier Shawn Graham says he's sending a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper today reinforcing his demand that Ottawa cover cost overruns associated with the refurbishment of the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant.

The move follows statements made earlier this week by Hugh MacDiarmid, president of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., who is unable to give an estimated time of completion for the project that was supposed to be finished last fall.

It now appears the refit could stretch into 2012 with each month of delay costing New Brunswickers about $30 million in replacement power costs.

To date, it's estimated the cost overruns total $475 million.

See: http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/front/article/1041067

A million dollars a day in replacement power costs alone could sure buy you a whole whack load of energy efficiency.

BTW, it must be the camera angle or my imagination, but isn't Stephen Harper looking a bit like Pinocchio?


Why Nova Scotia needs a new energy strategy

In general, a society’s energy consumption can be categorized into three basic energy services: transportation, heating and cooling, and electricity. The energy used to meet these services can come from a number of sources, the principal ones being oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear and hydro (for electricity), and biomass.

Although seldom discussed, energy security (that is, ensuring access to energy sources that are both available and affordable) is an important part of any society’s economic and social well-being. However, increasing world demand for energy and rising energy prices mean that maintaining or improving energy security is becoming a challenge in many jurisdictions. A handful of jurisdictions recognize the importance of energy security to the three basic energy services. Fewer still are developing policies that will ensure their future energy security. Sadly, Nova Scotia falls into neither of these categories.

Refined petroleum products, primarily in the form of gasoline and fuel oil, meet about 80 per cent of the energy demand of Nova Scotia’s three basic energy services; the remaining 20 per cent is met by electricity. Despite the importance of transportation and heating (for both space heating and process heat for industry), the provincial government is focusing on electricity.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Opinion/1180950.html

In fairness to the Province, their options within these other two spheres are somewhat limited should they wish to stay within their means (and our provincial debt load is enormous). In addition, Nova Scotia Power is responsible for half of the province's GHG emissions (source: http://www.esans.ca/pdf/apecscorecard.pdf), and so it's only fair that ratepayers bear the costs of re-mediation.


Way hey, up she rises
NSP will haul up non-communicating Fundy test turbine to fix sensor problem

Nova Scotia Power Inc. will pull its 400-tonne underwater turbine from the Bay of Fundy to fix a communication problem that has plagued the tidal experiment, utility president Rob Bennett said Wednesday.

"Unfortunately, the underwater modem device is a relatively new addition to the project and that device is not working properly," he told about 150 shareholders at the utility’s annual meeting.


Huskilson said this transition from coal-burning power plants to renewable energy sources "is driving the largest capital program in Nova Scotia Power’s history."

The company expects to invest $600 million in Nova Scotia Power this year, he said.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Business/1180880.html


... but isn't Stephen Harper looking a bit like Pinocchio?

Hey Paul, don't you know he is Pinocchio!! :-)

Good news about NSP. And if the utility can keep moving in the right direction, it may well be in a healthier position to weather the coming financial, environmental and energy storms.

Huskilson's quote says it all: this transition from coal-burning power plants to renewable energy sources "is driving the largest capital program in Nova Scotia Power’s history." As mentioned before, the political and social culture around here is way ahead of both the politicians and the businessmen. Good to see them catch up!



Hi Tom,

And in the lead up to an election, the resemblance is unmistakable !

The transition away from coal and oil will be difficult and costly, and there will be no doubt any number of missteps and setbacks along the way, but I give Nova Scotia Power full credit for their efforts. They're sharpening their business focus through their energy forums (http://www.nspower.ca/en/home/community/customerenergyforum/default.aspx), community outreach initiatives and customer advisory panel (of which I'm a member), and they're investing the dollars needed to make it happen. I don't support everything they propose to do (e.g., biomass generation) and I wish they would move more quickly in other areas such as smart metering and time-of-use pricing, but there is a genuine commitment to do better. I also know they have some smart and incredibly hard working individuals on staff; my counterpart, for example, routinely sends e-mails to me at two, three and even four in the morning and is back at his desk the next day at 08h30 (I can't keep up with these young bucks).


my counterpart, for example, routinely sends e-mails to me at two, three and even four in the morning and is back at his desk the next day at 08h30 (I can't keep up with these young bucks).

Paul, let's face it, it takes too much energy to keep up. Sometimes better to let the young bucks take full range of the pasture. It's their turn in the sun.

I, like you, find the direction that NSP is moving promising. Will they mess up from time to time? Probably. But at least they're showing signs of thinking outside the box.

Heaven knows, some of the less conventional ideas may just work.



Megacities of the world: a glimpse of how we'll live tomorrow

It's a fundamental shift that may be altering the very fabric of human life, from the intimate, intricate structures of individual families to the massive, far-flung infrastructures of human civilizations. In 1950, fewer than 30 percent of the world's 2.5 billion inhabitants lived in urban regions. By 2050, almost 70 percent of the world's estimated 10 billion inhabitants – or more than the number of people living today – will be part of massive urban networks, according to the Population Division of the United Nations' Department of Economic and Social Affairs.


The food security article has those whacky numbers again. If we can't feed 11 billion people, we won't have 11 billion people. Population and Nuclear power were the two topics available to my High School English class for Sr. Term Papers. I choose Nuclear power, but 29 years ago Population was a big issue, so this is not a new thing, and here we are almost 30 years later, with almost 7 billion people and still growing.

I know that others here will debate me on this, but I still think that all of the current number of people could be Sustainably fed easily. But the methods that we are currently using would have to change a bit. Which is the crux of the matter. On one hand they can all be fed and on the other they aren't going to be fed with the current system. So we do have a problem of reaching overshoot.

But like I said, if the system of feeding people were to change from how it is currently done, everything would have a different twist on it. We would also have to insure that the growth of the population were not allowed to out strip the new methods of feeding people.

An across the board one child per female, unless they have twins or more at one time. After the birth of the first child that female is fixed. The male that produced the child is also fixed, so it will be kept as fair as possible. If a male goes about using rape as a method he is fixed as part of his punishment/treatment. The object of the game is to in a few generations reduce population. After a stable population of say 1 to 2 billion is reached, along with the better food production methods things can be changed, but that will be up to a later generation of people.

I am not in charge, nor do I think the methods above will be put into place, Its just that now you know why I still think we can feed everyone in the future. Though if need be changing the food production methods alone will go a long way toward getting a larger population fed.

Protection of current food producing lands. There are several good restoration methods for lands that have been made unfertile, use them. Stop Urban sprawl. Change water use policies, so that farmers get first dibs on water. use rainwater catchment in all cities, use that water for the people in the city. Change the habit of putting harmful chemicals in the waste water stream. Encourage people to grow gardens and raise some of their own food, offer help in seed saving, in seed selction, on a wolrd wide basis.

Find a way to cut out most of the waste of food that currently goes on. Teach more people how to cook their own fresh foods.

There is more we can do than the small list above, I could go on and on for a while, but you get the point, there is a better way. Why aren't we doing it? Aren't we smart enough to go to the moon, just not smart enough to make sure we don't starve to death in the future. If done right, we can save the wild places and even increase their size, and still feed everyone we have now. But we have to work at it, even if it is one person at a time.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

An across the board one child per female, unless they have twins or more at one time. After the birth of the first child that female is fixed. The male that produced the child is also fixed, so it will be kept as fair as possible.

Charles, if you were dictator of the world and had the power to kill all babies after the firstborn then this would be a possibility. But you are not and don't have this power so why even bring it up? Why discuss something that you know is absolutely impossible when you know you are just wasting your breath?

The object of the game is to in a few generations reduce population. After a stable population of say 1 to 2 billion is reached,...

So continuing with this impossible scenario... It would take far more than a few generations for the world dictator, using this method, to get the population down to 1 to 2 billion. China's one child policy only slowed her population growth. The reason is a thing called population momentum. There were, when this policy started, far more young people than older people. Even granting them one child still increased the population because fewer people were dying than were being born. It would likely take as much as 200 years to reduce the population to 2 billion people and by that time it would be far, far too late.

Likewise all you’re other solutions require a World Dictator. You must realize Charles, that when you say something to the effect; If we only did this or that... that the we you are talking about is all the world's people. All the world's people cannot be dictated to unless you are the dictator of the world.

Ron P.

P.S. Sorry to sound so dismissive but I am a stickler about human nature. So many solutions people come up with simply seem to ignore human nature. Human nature cannot be ignored and is sure as hell cannot be changed.

To quote myself earlier in the post, I said something like, I doubt this will happen. I want you to vote for me in the next election for president, we talked about it in the last one. I did not get enough people behind me to get on most ballots, but I did tell people I was running for the job.

I tried to say If I were king a while ago, but gave up on it. A poster at the time yelled at me for other ideas, which I did not post this time.

Yeah human nature, what we Christians also call Original Sin sure does get in the way. I can only hope that things will get better, I don't know the future beyond knowing that sooner or later I'll die, but unless they lower the tax numbers, I won't be paying them anytime soon. (besided sales tax, and all those other taxes, gee never mind I am wrong again, death and taxes. shucks.)

I guess I should admend my post and state, If I Were King. Smiles, No hard feelings, I try not to get upset about other people's human nature showing through. One of my gifts is being able to ignore things, not always a good thing, but usefull none the less.

I just wanted to say that there are solutions if anyone were to actually be able to overcome human nature (besides Christ)(no flame wars needed). Some of the things I talked about I try to use in my BioWebScape design practice, so they were worth mentioning.

Hope your neck of florida won't get hit with oil.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

It's not about "overcoming" human nature (whatever human nature is). It's about arriving at a culture that effectively takes it into account, instead of pandering to the very worst aspects of it - which is where we're at now.

Those people out there who call themselves Christians and then follow not one of his teachings and go about spreading hate and mistrust. We are at the point these days where the future looks bleak. But I don't see it as bleak in a total sense, things around some of the edges are hopeful. And the white clover is full of blooms in my yard, and it's cool on my bare feet as I walk in the morning sunshine watering the plants in my small number of raised beds.

The culture that could show up in 50 years time is nothing any of us will see, except the youngest of us, not me I'd be around 96. The coming days are not certain but the future will still have stars in the night sky.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Charles, I love you, I really do. I wanted to get together with you when we both lived in Huntsville, Alabama but it just never happened and I am sorry about that.

You were not on the ballot in Florida and I did not vote for you. But as a dedicated atheist I am not sure I could ever vote for person who lets his religion influence his every opinion especially if he is a fundamentalist. After all, in spite of what many religionists believe, science and religion are poles apart on most issues. I know, that depends on one's religion but most fundamentalists I know support things like teaching of creationism in schools, prayer and Bible reading in school, and other deeply religious issues.

We have fought that battle for decades and I will not offer my vote to overturn those victories.

One of my gifts is being able to ignore things, not always a good thing, but useful none the less.

Charles, in most cases that is not a gift but a handicap. ;-)

Ron P.

Hugs to you Ron.

As to my handicap/gift, I am able to ignore insults, pain, threat of death, and someone with a gun pointed at my head (been there done that, a few years ago while helping homeless people in little rock). Handicap wise there are issues with it, one of which I am suffering from via once not going to the doctor in time. It is a mixed bag, but I still think of it as a gift.

I don't want to change the law on the school issue. I am not a Fundi-mental Christian. Some ideas aren't very Christ like. This is not a Christian nation in my opinion. God does not need a bit of land and a country to hold onto, that's a people idea. If you want to teach your kids something, then do it at home from day one, including science and how things work in the universe as we see it. My faith says that God is outside of the universe, but I can't prove that to anyone, nor will I try too.

If I were elected, I would be a Christian still, but not try to force anyone to be one too, that is not what our country was set up for, nor was it what Christians should be working toward.

Best hopes for a peaceful collapse, not likely, but there is no harm in hoping, If I can help prevent parts of the downturn I'll try.

On a side note, Thanks for your support.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Human nature cannot be ignored and is sure as hell cannot be changed.

Ron I tend to agree. But if that is the case, what is the nature of Humanity? Are we spiritual beings trapped in wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony as our Christian upbringing would lead us to believe? Or is human nature as basic as Richard Dawkins points out in his book The Selfish Gene: a way of expressing the gene-centred view of evolution. In other words humans, and by extension societies, are primarily concerned with reproducing our gamete (female) gametes (male)?

Prognosis. Medical studies have demonstrated that most doctors are overly optimistic when giving prognostic information, that is, they tend to overstate how long the patient might live. ( I guess they don't appreciate hearing that their patient will be seeking a 2nd opinion) It is clear that humans are selected for optimism which clearly would confer benefits for individuals but when applied to large populations, scientific prognostic estimates can be very accurate: for example the statement "45% of patients with severe septic shock will die within 28 days" can be made with some confidence, because previous research found that this proportion of patients died.

So Ron, based on your knowledge of our current situation, what is your Prognosis?


So Ron, based on your knowledge of our current situation what is your Prognosis?

Prognosis about what? Surely you must already know that I am far closer to Richard Dawkins' opinions than those that our Christian upbringing tried to instill in us. I found nothing I could disagree with in your above prognosis but that seems to have very little connection to the subject being discussed.

The natural personality traits humans possess (human nature) are not all identical but we all have many such traits in common. For instance the qualities you mentioned, wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony, are not found in everyone but are most are found in some degree in almost everyone. These are all Darwinian adaptations which evolved during the last 99% of our evolutionary past by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. These adaptation evolved because they gave us a survival-reproductive advantage over those who did not possess such traits. And the reason for our fecundity:

The group with the larger population always has an advantage in any competition over resources, whatever those resources may be. Over the course of human history, one side rarely has better weapons or tactics for any length of time, and most such warfare between smaller societies is attritional. With equal skills and weapons, each side would be expected to kill an equal number of its opponents. Over time, the larger group will finally overwhelm the smaller one. This advantage of size is well recognized by humans all over the world, and they go to great lengths to keep their numbers comparable to their potential enemies. This is observed anthropologically by the universal desire to have many allies, and the common tactic of smaller groups inviting other societies to join them, even in times of food stress.
Steven LeBlanc, “Constant Battles: The Myth of the Peaceful, Noble Savage” page 73-74.

Fecundity evolved, just like every other Darwinian adaptation we possess. It is human nature and it cannot be eliminated by any presidential order or holy fiat.

Ron P.

Prognosis about what?

Currently we have a globalized economy based on the exploitation of cheap fossil fuels. That being said, in a resource scarce world (2020 well after Peak Oil is common knowledge) where do you think societies will crumble first? For instance China has a much larger population than the USA or Europe but will that necessarily be an advantage when there is much less?


Joe, it is really hard to say. Doctorial regimes can hold a society together even as it collapses and its people die of starvation. Witness North Korea today or Stalin's Ukraine famine of 1932-1933 when 7,000,000 people died of starvation. But without a gun to their head people will riot, kill or do anything that will give them a survival advantage over their neighbor.

Your question is basically; who will have the advantage when the world starts to collapse from peak oil or the financial collapse brought about largely by peak oil. Hard to say and I could only guess. China, being less removed from the land and less dependent on motor transportation will definitely have an advantage as far as a lack of oil is a factor. So will India. But these nations are already desperately overpopulated so far more people will die in these countries even though the percentage of deaths to survivors is likely to be much less than in developed countries.

The people in the very best position will be the people in the very worst position today. I mean people like the Central American peon who lives on beans and corn he has planted with a pointed stick on his small plot of land. If they can keep thieves off their small plots they stand an excellent chance of surviving.

Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and other such places that are vastly overpopulated but have an urban culture and virtually no natural resources will be in the very worst position. But how about the U.S., Britain, and other developed mostly urban countries. I am afraid to even speculate but I am deeply afraid for my children and grandchildren. It scares me even to think about it.

Ron P.

I try to (almost) never make predictions about the future on this site, because there are just so many possibilities. Even my most basic assumption (there will be fewer of us, and we will be poorer) could be wrong.

I do have one predition in the next thirty years: there will be a large Chinese presence in Eastern Siberia. I can think of a few ways this might come about: outright sale from Russia; Russia grants Chinese companies rights to exploit the resources, and thus many Chinese settle the area and it becomes a de facto Chinese Republic; or war. But, I may be completely wrong [Insert Yogi Berra quote here].

Ron - The first time I ever heard of Black Swan theory was on this site a couple of years ago. Since that time Black Swan Events seem to be appearing more and more often:

1. In December 2008 the collapse of an embankment at an impoundment for wet storage of fly ash at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston Fossil Plant resulted in a major release of 5.4 millon cubic yards of coal fly ash.

2. The financial crisis of 2007–present, or the Great Recession as it is now starting to be called by some, is a crisis triggered by a liquidity crisis in the United States banking system.

3. 29 coal miners killed in the devastating explosion at Upper Big Branch mine last month.

4. 25 oil rig workers killed in GOM Big Rig failure unleashing perhaps the Chernobyl of Environmental disasters.

5. Jan 12, 2010 Haiti has a 7.0 Mw earthquake with over 100,000 dead and the country in rubble.

...without a gun to their head people will riot, kill or do anything that will give them a survival advantage over their neighbor.

IMHO I feel that 7 billion people on a planet designed for less than 2 billion is driving these events. What can we expect if the projections of 9 billion by 2050 are realized? Surely as things unwind don't you feel the liklihood of Nuclear War will appear sooner or later?

Americans tend to be paranoid anyway, so don't you think it's likely that we'll be the first to pull the trigger?


Surely as things unwind don't you feel the liklihood of Nuclear War will appear sooner or later?

Americans tend to be paranoid anyway, so don't you think it's likely that we'll be the first to pull the trigger?

No, I don't think that at all. Of course it is a possibility but there is a possibility than my neighbor will win 50 million in the lottery. (I cannot win because I never play the lottery.)

Some Americans are paranoid but not all, not even half of them. And we are very fortunate that Americans do not have their hands on the trigger. Anyway, why would the president bomb North Korea, or whomever you suppose he (not Americans) will bomb? And I am not so sure even he could just willy nilly order the bombing of a foreign nation. Unless we were the first to be attacked then he would need the consent of Congress.

But I think the possibility that the US will just up and nuke some other nation is extremely low. I just don't believe it will happen.

Ron P.

With respect, Joe, I have to butt in here to point out that none of the tragedies you list were Black Swan events. All of them were foreseeable, both their occurrence and their results. Anything that has happened, can happen; and similar events happened before each of these.

If we know in advance that something could happen, it isn't a Black Swan event either. Even this, a five percent chance of ending civilization as we know it. (Also linked to above by Leanan.)

I can't fault your conclusions, though. Mine are exactly the same.

Really, someone else complaining about the definition of a black swan event. (See CCPO’s post above.) A meteorite could hit the earth and wipe out five billion people but because we knew in advance that it could happen then that does not qualify.

Does it really matter? Is this really something worth arguing over?

Ron P.

To paraphrase the late great Douglas Adams "This can safely be made the subject of suspense and argument, because it's of no significance whatsoever!"

or how about simply "The Band played on"?

Well, to state the obvious, if one accepts the rule-of-thumb that black swan events both happen and have significant effects on the world, then if those are not black swan events then there are will logically be "proper" black swan events happening in the future. Not every very bad thing (or very good thing) is a black swan, but that doesn't mean they aren't bad (or good).

Whether using the term "black swan" in a completely different way to the meaning it had when coined matters or not depends whether one thinks that there's a tendency to think that by planning one can avoid all the bad events. If you listen to the rhetoric of Gordon Brown recently about "setting up institutions to spot and defuse global financial problems", some people do indeed seem to think this.

Yes, Ron, it does matter. If you don't keep your concepts straight, you can't keep your reasoning straight. And then you end up with answers that, as H. L. Mencken said, are simple, easy to understand ... and wrong.

Black Swans we can't do anything about until they happen. We can do things to prevent, or rapidly contain and then fix, mining and oil disasters and stock exchange malfunctions, and the consequences of peak oil. We (our leaders) are to blame if we do not prepare adequately for known risks. This difference is important.

greg - I don't think I understand you. Are you saying that through Quantitative risk assessment (QRA) we can solve most of these problems. QRA is the magnitude of the potential loss (L) multiplied by the probability (p), that the loss will occur. Alright get your calculator out.

How many offshore oil rigs are in operation? What is the risk of a major spill in an offshore rig/ now calculate the potential loss by the number of oil rigs. Then continue with your rational thesis: How many coal mines are in operation? How many coal fired power plants are in operation worldwide. What are the potential losses from rising CO2? What is the rate of deforestation and what percentage of the forests are left? What are the risks associated with deforestation and desertification? Think about Ocean Acidity...is it reaching a tipping point? What is the likelihood that we'll end up with huge sterile oceans and what are the potential losses from that event?

Here is something to put into the equation: How many new people are being added to world population daily? How likely will those added people create resource constraints that eventually become catastrophic? Currently 1/6 of the world population is chronically starved. What are the risks from this rising tide of starvation? (Fortunately for us it only has affected the undeveloped world.)

According to Tainter's Collapse of Complex Societies, societies become more complex as they try to solve problems. In Tainter's view, while invasions, crop failures, disease or environmental degradation may be the apparent causes of societal collapse, the ultimate cause is an economic one, inherent in the structure of society rather than in external shocks which may batter them: diminishing returns on investments in social complexity.

Based on QRA formulas what is the likelihood that within the next 30 years there will be some broad general collapse of industrial societies?


Your number 5 is an act of God/nature, not tied to mankind. The death toll is tied to the number of people in the area yes, but the event itself is not tied to human actions.

Volcanoes, Earthquakes (in most cases) are not caused by mankind. I say in some cases for earthquakes because if you drill for geothermal, you can cause an earth shift, someone did something like that in the Swiss alps a few years ago.

As to the design of the earth for people, we don't really know the design limit, half the time we don't even know the design itself. I've said elsewhere, that you could if you designed a system to feed everyone the right way you could easily feed all of mankind currently here. Maybe saying anyone over the age of 10 can't have kids, and after age 18 only one child per male and female then they both get fixed, That would give the world a break for at least 8 years.

If we are talking design limits that is, otherwise we can't say what the capacity of the system is, because frankly we have anused it so long we might not know what was the original design limits.

As far as I know this is the most people the planet has ever had.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Ron, I think the U.S. is better positioned to deal with peak oil than most of the rest of the world. The U.S. is blessed with an abundance of NG and coal, as well as excellent farm land. To some extent NG and Coal can provide a bridge period to alternate fuel sources. I don't say it will be easy, but given an option of where to be when oil becomes scarce and very expensive, I would choose the U.S.. Just curious, where would you or Joe think is a better place in a post peak world.

Joe B.

For an American or European looking to "go" somewhere in order to have the best chance of surviving... I haven't a clue. However I don't believe anywhere in America will be safe. Too many people with too many guns. Best thing to do is arm up, build your defenses and hope for the best.

Some places in the U.S. will be safer than others of course. Downtown big city anywhere and you will not stand a chance. The deeper into the countryside you can get the better.

Anyway I think the idea that we can convert to natural gas and coal and continue without any real danger is impossible. It will be far more of an economic collapse than anything else. Sure, everyone will be saying "We should have converted to coal to liquids and natural gas transportation when we had the chance." But even now it is too late to make that conversion. It would take two decades and we have about five.

Anyway it will be a global collapse, not a local one.

Ron P.

Spending time here is probably wasting our time, if not our breath. Posting is probably even a bigger waste of time and breath. And yet you and many others spend day after day after day here. You are right, of course. We are all wasting our time imagining and then writing about what we think should be done when we know it won't be done. And yet, knowing all this, why do we waste our time here, especially, in my case, as my wife thinks I waste my time here.

Given human nature, you are wasting your time and breath admonishing others about how they are wasting their time and breath. They will continue regardless.

Maybe we continue to send this stuff out on the internet for much the same reason that astronomers send signals to outer space. They are hoping someone is listening. Someone will respond and talk back to us, acknowledging their and our existence.

Despite it all, you and I keep coming back to speak to the void, the mindless bundles of electrons beamed through internet space.

On the other hand, I am sure and I others have been influenced, maybe in subtle ways, by many of the pointless things that have been written here. Maybe it makes a difference. But if not, I don't really care.

i think it boils down to recreational jousting after windmills.

We come here for fellowship of like minded people. We could go out there and talk to people on the street but they would not give us the support that others on this site do. We are almost all of us interested in the future and where things will go and how they will transpire, or people seeking insight from others who do post.

I have never met any of you, but I have talked on the phone with several of you, and emailed a lot more. Some people like my posts, others might avoid them. We can share our histories and for the most part we are treated with respect and have interesting conversations on topics far and wide.

Sometimes we don't see each other for weeks on end posting, and others comment on missing so and so, that would only happen in a group of friends, or classmates (in this case we almost always learn something new each day we read).

Hugs to all the readers, lurkers, posters and editors and staff.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

"I am not in charge, nor do I think the methods above will be put into place, Its just that now you know why I still think we can feed everyone in the future."

I think the key is "nor do I think the methods above will be put into place."

Like Ron pointed out, I am not king. If I were king though, I'd be trying to put some of those in place, right before someone shot me for their own reasons.

I don't think any one person has ever been named king of the whole planet before. And if not, then it is high time it does happen( Joking, it would likely be a bad thing ( I might try to take all the candy))(It was an old old story of mine, a kid's book where the king of the world made sure all the kids had candy at least once a day, but they had to exercise, and eat vegies and be nice to others, I thought it up when I was 8 or 9)

If I were king, or the king of the world listened to me, either way it might happen. Okay your point is taken, If is a big word.

Laughs, just so you know, purple and Orange are my favorite colors, so when you get the bunting for my crowning shindig, you'll know what to pick.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Re: A Desire Named Streetcars

Article on the D.C. streetcar system: http://wtop.com/?nid=30&sid=1950931

At least someone has been listening to the Drake the Streetcar Man.

Gulf of Mexico oil slick: Sarah Palin fuels anti-British sentiment

Sarah Palin has fuelled growing anti-British sentiment over the Gulf of Mexico oil rig disaster by saying "foreign" oil companies like BP were not be trusted...

...Her comments came despite the fact her husband Todd Palin worked for BP for 18 years, as a production supervisor, and only left the company last year to spend more time with his family.

Seeing how British troops are dying in their hundreds to help US oil ambitions in foreign countries, I think she is doing a marvellous job for the relationship. Perhaps the British should join the Taliban where they'll be more appreciated. Humph!

Speaking of Britain...how's the election going? When will they know the results?

To quote Tom Brokaw again (regarding the 2008 US presidential election), "The winner should demand an immediate recount."

Appears to be an "interesting day" in the markets.

First returns start coming in about 11:30pm UK time and there will be exit polls as well. By the middle of the night the general position will be clear in terms of rough number of seats but if there is no clear majority we could go on for days without a new government while the parties try to create a workable coalition.

The way things are going there won't be much left for the winner to take over. Except the wreckage of a modern economy incinerated by financial contagion and the Nation's wealth joining the volcanic ash in the atmosphere.

Wonder if we'll have an indeterminate bank holiday by Monday? Better have some cash under the mattress just in case :)

Exit polls come out in just a few minutes from now, just before 5:00PM EDT/22:00 BST. What everyone will be wondering is if the Tories can form a majority government, a minority government, or no government. Then comes the austerity cuts, and Athens-on-the-Thames. . .

Exit polls are predicting a hung parliament, with the Tories 19 seats short of a majority. They can pick up some seats from the Ulster Unionists, who are willing and compatable coalition partners, but that still leaves them short. Now the maneuvering starts.

Wow. Steepest fall ever for the DOW? The PPT must have taken the day off. LOL!!!

Wow. We were below 10,000 a moment ago. Recovering a bit now. Oil down to $75.

At one point the Dow was down almost 900 points. Now down only about 650. Some buyers have stepped in.

Edit: Something very strange happened with Proctor & Gamble shares as they plunged in seconds. CNBC saying the "computer broke".

According to Stockcharts it fell below 9900 or getting on for a 1000 points. A glitch?

A glitch wouldn't also cause Treasurys to soar...

Treasurys soar and stocks plummet

The price to buy U.S. debt spiked quickly Thursday afternoon, as the stock market tumbled nearly 1,000 points and investors funneled money into lower-risk securities as massive protests against Greece's bailout turned violent in Athens.

Wow! They must be carrying the traders out feet first on Wall Street.

CNBC showing "suspect" share movements in several large companies. P&G apparently has called in the SEC to investigate. Another example mentioned by CNBC is Accenture


Yes apparently it collapsed to virtually zero for a few moments and according to CNBC someone then bought at that price.

Ah, good old Arthur Anderson Consulting.

That does look weird.

Trading manipulation by Al Qaida! Or the Pakistani Taliban.

Something weird happened. A bunch of stocks dropped to zero, and one spiked crazily.

There was a post about it here:


But it has vanished. The footprints are still visible in Google and Twitter, but the post is now gone.

I gotta think it was some kind of computer glitch.

I'll say.
Google business shows SDK dropping to $.09 at the D-hour.
Yahoo finance shows the opposite.

At second glance, the Google chart shows it dropping to $10 @ 14:56.
When I was checking the price this pm it clearly showed $.09.
I must be healthier than I thought, since I'm here writing even after my heart stopped beating for the length of time it took me to check it against Yahoo.

Unconfirmed report, was caused as usual by human error and then the computers helped to really break it. A trader was entering in an order for 1 million Proctor and Gamble shares, but instaed of 1 million shares he keyed for 1 Billion shares. The computer systems then took over trying to make the order happen, this then triggered other computer programs to start selling to cover and presto market meltdown. Dow was going to be off today because of Greece anyways, this just helped it along.

“To err is human, but to really foul things up you need a computer.”
(Paul Ehrlich)

Greek Debt Crisis On Verge Of 'Going Global': Pimco's El-Erian

Problems with Greek debt are about to spread to other countries and could infect the US unless the nation tackles its own mounting problems, Pimco's Mohamed El-Erian told CNBC. About an hour or so after El-Erian spoke, global stocks sold off sharply with major US averages shedding more than 3 percent.

Speaking as Greek austerity measures won enough votes to be approved by parliament, El-Erian offered a stern warning about the potential of the crisis to escalate into something resembling, though not duplicating, the 2008-09 financial crisis. "We've seen a crisis start in a country—Greece—become regional, impact the whole of the Euro zone and is on the verge of truly going global," said El-Erian, CEO of the world's biggest bond fund.

He said the debt is a "transmission mechanism to go from country to region to global. So we should take this very seriously."

Are we nearing the end of the Fed augmented bear market rally? Possibly. However I have a feeling Bernanke is still pulling some strings desperately trying to prop up the BS zombie market. I wouldn't want to be him.

Notice gold's strength through all of this. Investing in gold and/or silver and other precious metals has nothing to do with the inflation/deflation debate. Metals have been recognized as currency throughout human history and tend to maintain their value through periods of turbulence, which is very bullish for them as the chances are high that we continue to see extreme volatility.

Or not. Very strange things happened today. It was not just one trader making a mistake.

And now this:

Nasdaq to Cancel U.S. Trades Moving More Than 60% Before Plunge

(Bloomberg) -- Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. said it will cancel stock trades on all exchanges that were more than 60 percent above or below prices at 2:40 p.m. New York time, just as U.S. equities plummeted.

Dow falls almost 1000, recovers

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Stocks selloff sharply Thursday, extending the recent downturn as investors continued to worry that Europe's debt problems will slow a bigger global economic recovery.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) lost as much as 997 points in volatile trading. At 2:50 p.m it was down 600 points, or 5%. The S&P 500 index (SPX) slipped 63 points, or 5.4%. The Nasdaq composite (COMP) dropped 127 points, or 5.3%.

Oil prices sink for 3rd straight day

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Oil prices fell sharply Thursday, a day after sinking to their lowest levels in over six weeks, as the U.S. dollar continued to strengthen in amid the fallout from Greece's debt crisis.

...Crude for June delivery dropped $2.39, or nearly 3%, to $77.58 a barrel Thursday, extending the selloff for the third straight day.

This could spell the end of the EU. 1,000 points per day for the next week, and we are back where we were in January 2009. Another effect of peak oil's impact on the financial markets.
Greece is just the first of many more government failures. Chaos and civil unrest to follow in mass quantities. Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and UK are next. UKs deficit is 12% of GDP!
Good luck to the new Prime Minister!

CNN is reporting that a computer glitch caused the big drop.

CNBC is saying it was human error. Some broker hit B for billion instead of M for million in a sale of Proctor and Gamble. The trade they say was done by Citigroup. That shot the stock down from $60, or somewher around that point to $39 a share. That then triggered a lot of automatic computer generated sales, programs designed to automatically sell if the market drops a given percentage.

Ron P.

Yeah! Blame it all on Citigroup. If that was not based on real fears, I would hate to see what is going to happen in the coming weeks. Computers are all trigger happy.....

CNBC is saying it was human error. Some broker hit B for billion instead of M for million in a sale of Proctor and Gamble

May be true. But the interesting thing is what then happened due to the unseen stresses at the local level among all the players. Just because it was a mistake - if it was - doesn't mean that it can be undone. And once all the individual investors look at today and reassess their risk-tolerance, and wonder about what the guy in the house next door is thinking about.... well, the opening hour tomorrow will be very interesting.

It makes a good story, cause M and B are close to each other on the keyboard, but who enters trades by using words instead of numbers?

actually, I've noticed that as a flaw at E*trade. Even more worrying is that "billion" is right under "bazillion" in the pulldown menu.

and yes, I guess they're talking about a sticking zero key. I find that hard to swallow. If there's a working plunge protection team, they'll be loaded for bear tomorrow morning.

My close relatives seem to be thinking about getting out of stocks tomorrow. If that's true of other peoples' relatives, it could be interesting.

My own guess would be an initial small drop followed by a rally followed by an impressive drop, in the first 90 minutes. But I'm not in the market, and in a few weeks I'll be 59 and 1/2 years old, which means I can pull my small IRA out of the cash equivalents it's in. Hope it's still there then...

I might buy a couple of short commodity positions if I get up early enough tomorrow. The Hawaii timezone means I'd have to do it before I'm really awake, though.

CNBC seem to be going with "fat finger". Some single trader somewhere hit a "b" for billion instead of an "m" for million according to one rumour.

A North Korean submarine did it...

Cool, if a North Korean sub did it, then we can just ignore that it ever happened and go back to BAU

Yup, but traders and trading accounts got blown up all over the place, it must have been a horrible massacre out there. Investors have been left hung, drawn and quartered by their stop-losses and finally given the "coups de grâce" by multiple margin calls.

It'll probably take months to clean up the mess and bury the bodies.

You can bet that there are big computer traders who got burned, but probably little guys with stop-losses who program sold got the short end of the stick -- somebody sold for zero on Anderson, and somebody bought for zero to match.

There is no way to ever undo this, is there? Can they just roll it all back to 5 minutes before and say "start over"? I doubt it......so the guys that got screwed will stay that way.

Glad I'm 100% out and sitting on metals. I think the game is so lopsided there is too much risk and insufficient information to play it as a small stock investor anymore. Index funds is the best you can hope for, and those often suck too.

Fortunes were lost and made today for sure.

Denninger says:

This was not humans - it was pure computer algorithm trading. If you had stops set, you got blown out way below any reasonable trading range with no recourse. Margin requirements were raised instantly on futures which sure didn't help.

This was basically the 1987 program-trading crash powered by the fastest CPUs money can buy, and points out that these systems do not have social utility and at times like this they are unbelievably destructive.

The banks and others who have argued for innovation have just proved once again that their brand of "innovation" means that the average investor gets bent over the table. You cannot, as an investor, be in the market until these outrageous practices are permanently barred from the exchanges.

Not sure if he knew the precipitating trade was a mistake when he wrote that, but I don't know that it matters.

I, too, am out of the stock market. It's just not a level playing field for the little guy.

I have no information about the cause of today's event. But 6 months ago I came across an interesting assertion (no link) that there are a number of quants who have been laid off by big trading banks due to the financial crisis, but that by now you can get enough computing power to run the algorithms used by trading banks on a big home PC. It was claimed that a lot of these quants are thus planing to "set themselves up trading from home". The big guys may still have some advantage in terms of lower latency connections, but I'm not sure that those "little guys" are at much of a disadvantage. What worries me is that you've now got so many people who are trying to "clip the coinage" by using huge leverage on incredibly minor fluctuations (rather than even medium term fundamentals), which AFAICS is likely to lead to ever increasing volatility in the markets. What'll be the point in investing (say a pension plan) in the markets if it's perfectly possible things will swing dramatically downward during the time it takes your "cash out" order to execute?

Mister Plain Joe was cashing out his 401K plan, he had yesterday $56,004, and was really looking forward to those smooth sailing days. His cash out today gave him $4.00 after all was said and done. Happy to see you here during happy hour Mister Plain Joe, what will it be? A Double Scotch Plain, and a Loaded Gun to go, thanks.

Scary thought is that someone most likely did get hurt today, lossing it all in a possible glitch that can't be fixed.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Not in the stock market, have been twice in the past, each time I go out right before a Header out of the plane. Best not to test my luck again I thought, Now I know why.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

I'm an RIA (registered investment agent)and this is bigger than what is first being reported.

As a matter of risk prevention it is typical to have stop losses or trailing stop losses on all etfs or stock positions. (Can't do it on a mutual fund.) For example our firm uses a 10% stop loss: stock goes down 10% in a certain period, sell order is executed. So since the market has been down 3-6% the last 2 days that little hiccup executed almost every single broadly held etf (think vanguard total market index). Which was what is was supposd to do. But because the market "bounced" back 6% so quickly that left those stopped out in cash while the big boys raked in the profits. A few somebodies made a lot of coin out there today.

Full disclouse: I wouldn't put a client in the market to save my life. Didn't really effect us that much. But I got off the phone with some others and they are in trouble. Not the leastt of which, since you just lost your client 6% in 15 minutes, is do they get back in or not.

I would bet this affected a boat load of accounts from mom and pop to the pension funds. And for what it's worth, you don't just mistake the "b" for the "m". every trade is done numerically.

Messy stuff.

Volume exploded, a likely indicator that traders were taken out en masse.

I guess it depends on whether the big boys got toasted, if they did they'll expect to made good again, otherwise they'll just bank the profit and say all's well.

Still, tomorrow it'll be back to normal, bleeding the Euro, fanning the flames of contagion and front running the system with the algo/HFT trading platforms. As for the rest, what the hell they doing investing in the stockmarket during a collapse anyway?

Volume exploded, a likely indicator that traders were taken out en masse.

I used to think a smart little guy could profit from this sort of stuff. Automatic trading systems, and stop loss orders can respond to a big signal, like a heard of buffalo stampeding off a cliff. If you can figure out that the big drop isn't bacause of fundamentals, you can profit at their expense. I'm not so sure it works that way anymore. In any case I only played that game for a while several years back. Quit while I was ahead, because I figured the market dynamics I was making money on had probably changed.

Volume exploded, a likely indicator that traders were taken out en masse.

Doesn't anyone learn from what's happening in the GOM? Why was Wall Streets BOP (Billion Oversold Preventer) not activated, to cut off the trader at his keyboard (or, better yet, his drill string)? Result is a volume explosion and unstoppable appearance of red ink. People involved have gone missing, presumed dead, might even be a fire or two, destroying evidence. Firms will sink. There will be inquiries, cover ups, talk about failure of "safety mechanisms" and "stop loss preventers" and "more regulation and oversight". Questions about whether all this trading is worth the risk and on and on.

If you just replace "offshore oil leak" with "market crash" the stories are astoundingly similar!
And investing in either would appear to be just as risky.

A quick note on oil prices they seem to be heading down towards the 75 and perhaps lower plausible level if the oil market is well supplied. The question then becomes will prices hold at this level ? If the 85 was pretty much pure market enthusiasm then we can bet thats gone. So things are setting up to provide a fantastic test of whats really going on. Certainly prices can obviously rise higher than 80 however there is no intrinsic reason for it if OPEC has control and set a price band at 70-80.

The real beneficiary of this ongoing Greek crisis which is probably now a fact of life is the US Government which is seeing Treasury prices soar and oil fall. Given the ever increasing debt loads it looks like the US is probably effectively hooked on the need for periodic crisis to drive a flight to safety and fund its ever growing deficit.

However for oil the problem is falling oil prices raise all boats esp China's. We are effectively trading lower oil prices and increased or steady consumption for dollars to fund our deficits. As long as treasuries are considered valuable and oil is plentiful then it does not really matter how they come back to us. It could be Chinese buying oil at a relatively low price and sending the money to OPEC thence OPEC buys treasuries or the US buying Chinese goods and they are forced to recycle into treasuries. All kinds of flows are possible but eventually the dollars end up in treasuries if the world is in periodic financial crisis.

All well and dandy until oil and food becomes scarce then your looking at steadily rising prices and price induced inflationary forces not monetary inflation. Investing in treasuries may not continue.

In my mind the problem that would happen is that commodity price inflation because of scarcity causes more people to take a cash position holding large supplies of cash to pay for increasing commodity prices the real economy starts demanding cash. Producer nations will in my opinion spend the excess internally to support their booming economies. These economies are importers of finished goods and obviously they can pay any premium caused by underlying commodity price inflation. Export land gets vary vary interesting. The problem is this is not driven directly by monetary policy and it hits before the US can unwind its massive debt load and move to long dated treasuries at low interest rates.

We get hit with a major duration mismatch and rising interest rates. This is what I think is going to happen.

Now the question is is 75 dollar oil cheap or is it 70 or 65 ?

And when this floor price is reached and its obvious the fall is over how fast will people pile in to buy the dip ?

How high does it go before the dip buying slows ?

How long to prices remain low after this weeks months ?

All kinds of fascinating questions can be answered over the coming weeks.

If oil prices return quickly above 80 once the dip buying sets in then all that happened is a lot of oil was sold cheap keeping demand robust for a bit longer. If prices stay low for several weeks or months then the market is well supplied the US has control and can eventually roll its debt long once the economy gets on its feet for real.
My opinion is this is a multi year process. We have a hell of a deficit to inflate our way out of but if oil is really abundant no big deal really once we can roll it all on the long end we have 60-100 years to pay it back with mild inflation the whole way. Once its all rolling along nicely in 30 year debt at low rates no one cares its effectively free money.

A quick note on oil prices they seem to be heading down towards the 75 and perhaps lower plausible level if the oil market is well supplied.

And WTI briefly dropped below $75 but the Dow was down 1000 points on the day at that time.

What a crazy friggin day. This will I assure leave a mark.

I have to guess the market was saved by massive intervention.

So for now at least the fact that its "leading" oil is probably simply not real.

Looks like oil bounced off 75 and holding so lets see if real buying happens whats cool is we have Friday
to trade so no weekend to cool whatever the hell happened off.

This had to scare the crap out of all the little fish out there and you can bet quite a few will be selling on the top of this bounce even if its rigged.

So like I said lets see how oil trades through this issue. This is where fundamentals get uncovered.

I expect the market to get "stabilized" over the next few weeks of course. But if oil prices are not being driven by fundamentals then they should stay dead for weeks. Indeed this 75'ish floor could easily be breached sending us down into 65-70 range. Theoretically only OPEC cut backs hold the floor at 70 and that can readily be breached before climbing back up.

This is a long way from over but reading the entrails of the slaughtered lamb over the next several weeks will tell us a lot.

Some very good ideas above, and yesterday.

Ironically financial panics like today have served to actually increase demand be lowering the price of oil, and scare away investment from whatever alternatives come up. However with what's happening in the GOM, I don't think prospects for offshore US drilling can get much worse.

Of course, even after I said we will probably see $100 oil this year, it would not be impossible for oil to temporarily drop lower. However I wouldn't want to be caught short oil if, for example, the Louisiana Offshore Port was closed to VLCCs due to the oil spill. I am not a shipping expert (despite briefly working for a major shipper) but I wonder if the US is prepared to offload oil in alternative ports, and if so, how is the oil going to get back to refiners along the Gulf Coast?

Meanwhile Oil Movements said today that it expects OPEC exports to decline slightly in May. Ignoring some minor moves up or down in exports, OPEC has held exports relatively stable from February to May. As I mentioned yesterday, the increase in imports to the US this last four weeks just means somewhere else is getting less. Or in other words, when the price of oil rose above $80, the US effectively outbid other countries that didn't want to pay up (at least right now).

Perhaps those other countries, possibly China, will take advantage of $75 to $80 oil they missed before. However if the GOM closes down, we may have a two tier oil price system develop - high prices for oil and products in the US, and lower prices elsewhere. Ironically again, a tragedy may work to actually increase overall worldwide oil demand.

We shall see things are getting interesting thats for sure.

I posted that I wondered if it was me that was insane or the world well I think at least that questions answered :)

Lots of things can happen and all your scenario may well play out at the same time they are not necessarily mutually contradictory.

At the moment the Nikki is headed down and oil bounced off its lows and is trading flat around 77. So we shall see if this holds and what happens tomorrow. So far at least Oil has shown a decent price floor forming.

This fiasco is not going to end any time soon and should continue into next week with serious longer term issues.

Overall things are going to get a lot more volatile and this suggests that anyone running a bit low on oil is probably going to try and stock up. You don't want to be the refinery or country that gets caught first with no oil.

We don't know for sure where oil stocks are especially globally however given the price movements over the last several weeks they cannot be all that great. No one super low I don't think but probably not well supplied. My best guess is middle to lower end of the five year range. If so then plenty of room to stock up exists and prices are relatively low so I'd argue for a bit of good old fashioned hoarding starting in a few weeks. If so then this will drive prices higher leading to even more hoarding. Obviously for Europe its a a case of buy oil before the Euro falls further. They may be our friends and all but business is business.

Thats why I think we will find out for sure where everyone really is as regards to oil stocks.

Thus this volatility and uncertainty coming right when oil is relatively low priced should spur hoarding.


I like your thinking. It wouldn't surprise me if this is all manipulation to keep this boat above water for a few more days/months/years. The problem is reality. Growth is dead (oil production going nowhere but down). The cancer has consumed its patient and now has nothing to feed on.

I'd say the lamb kabob's just realized this is not your ordinary shearing event.

But at some point oil becomes too expensive to produce, if the market price is low. Those deep water wells are costly, even without clean up costs.

Didn`t Stoneleigh say that oil would soar, then crash with next credit market problem (this Euro thing is it I guess), then become too cheap to produce (at least some of it).......leading to shortages, more problems with credit and commerce, etc.

If she is right, and she has been correct until now, then your scenario looks a little too one dimensional.

What if people drive to the gas station and there is a sign, "Sorry, No Gas". That is going to happen, maybe soon.

The lower levels of commerce can`t support the high tech oil exploration and recovery needed now in the days of peak oil. It`s like trying to pull an elephant using a sewing thread.

We shall see as I've been harping all along the truth is coming out now.

We are going to find out who is right and who is wrong.

The only thing I have to say is that I derived the timing of when this would occur using a mix of commodity and market analysis. If you have listened at all to OPEC and their talk of 100 dollar a barrel oil and what I'm saying its oil thats at its turning point. What important is what happens as the surrounding financial games play out.

Nothing on this planet is going to make more oil and no way can our eCONomy handle another downleg.

TPTB have no choice but to either see collapse or put in a unbelievable fix. And thats the real problem as the confidence game got a huge whack today. Thus true positions and situations are forced out into the open.

Not that it cannot be fixed the problem is the fix does not work well if everyone knows its just rigged movements.

You have to remember that a heck of a lot of people have to date bought the party line events like this cause some serious defections to happen which makes it harder to hide the truth.

Yeah, it looks like the next leg down, so if too many people get wise to that, hey...panic could occur.

So maybe TPTB are trying to get control over the situation with this "million" "Billion" story. But actually, the underlying situation will work in their favor; scared people will look to the government when there are gas lines. Actually, since they couldn`t delay this any longer, they let it occur and tried to take control of the narrative ("a trading error"). I`d say they are waiting for the next leg down (if that means gas stations running out of product---spot shortages only, at first---or whatever). They need to seem like they are in control, then people won`t panic. At the same time, the actual stock market losses do mentally prepare people for worse things to come. It`s a two-pronged strategy. The subprime crisis was handled similarly....the govt would help the banks ("we`re in control") but the real losses prepared people for the unemployment lines ("sorry about that").

If there is the sense that no one is in control, that is what people won`t like.

See my post above I don't think we are at gas line levels yet but that does not mean things can't get interesting if I'm right and in my longer post and hoarding becomes a issue.

Did anyone remember to call the Plunge Protection Team ?

Well as the Dow has just climbed about 500 points in the last 15 minutes maybe they finally picked up the phone.

Oh my, "Oil Volcano" so who is Wayne Madsen and what is his intrest in blowing things completely out of propotion. Things are bad very bad, even serious damge to GOM eco-system bad, but now NASA is covering it as well, because you know nobody else has satellite imagery aviable of the Gulf.

He's a nutter.

Actually the NGA has the satellites up there, they were placed up there by rocket or by the space shuttle. The National geospatial-intelligence agency, is the defacto All maps and images of earth from plane or space end here place. I know this because I used to work at a company that had contracts working for them. NASA has a few pictures, but they pass through the NGA first before anyone sees them in the outside world. Hardly anyone knew about the agency less than a few dozen years ago, everything that happens to be secret also goes through them. Just the facts of life in a secure world mindset.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Well chaps and chapettes,

Just heard that the DOW was down over 1,000 points at one point,
Greece is burning,
The volcano is still doing its thing,
Peak oil is past tense and
the UK is heading for a hung parliament.

I put my cross against the Conservative candidate. The toss-pot Labour idiot on tele now, Alan Johnson, is actively promoting a coalition government with the Liberals and that is the worse thing for the markets.

Cue utter shambles tomorrow morning in the markets.

... and the UK Gilt markets are opening early at 1 am BST - about 1.5 hours from the time of this post. If anyone in North America has access to a Bloomberg or Reuters terminal please let me know what the UK Gilts are doing upon open...

ta, appreciate it.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!
(or a Woman, my daughter)

Rudyard Kipling


bravo! I love Kipling...

...would love it more if I can turn my TV off in the morning and go down the booza and buy a bottle of Champagne and toast Prime Minister Cameron's health....

Just heard Gordon Brown's acceptance speech in his constituency and he, and all the Labour power brokers are intuiting that they should do a deal with the Lib Dems.

I tell you: Come on Cameron! If Brown goes down on Clegg and tries for a coalition deal I will show those Greeks how to really riot.

Putting people's, institutions and countries perspectives into one of two categories, call them camp A & camp B.

Camp A; Cornucopian, infinite resources, ever greater globalization & econonic expansion, no such thing as peak oil, no immediate concern for global warming/climate change, BAU.

Camp B; Doomerish, finite resources, need to stop growth and develop localized exchannges of goods and services, peak oil occurred in 2005, great concern for global warming/climate change, non-BAU.

After the 2008 collapse, Govt's borrowed huge sums against accumulated wealth for stimulus to get the economy moving again. Greece represents the first post peak 2008 collapse situation, where a choice needed to be made (by EU member countries) to continue to (camp A) keep Greece in the fold or (camp B) release them from the EU to have their own currency.

This set up a classic argument for proponents of Camp A or B. Camp A won out and loans have been made to help Greece remain in the EU, however their austerity measures are causing riots.

If Camp B had won, Greece would have been dumped from the EU, made their own currency and printed (borrowed) more as needed. There probably would not have been riots, at least not yet. But a decision to opt for Camp B would have been an acknowledgement of living in a post peak world, with less credit worthiness, of beginning to move away from globalization.

So I see this decision by the EU members as a mistake, a nod to their siding with Camp B. We shall see what happens down the road with Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland.

Good post.
This brings to mind the coincidental(?) destruction of the Polish government in last months plane crash.
Camp A likely won that one too.

Camp A likely won that one too.

Interesting info on the zloty, and the timely demise of a Camp B player. I guess the message to leaders is, remain a Camp A player until Camp B is adopted by one and all in this post peak slow-mo collapse.

What a day. And just three days ago I was conversing with reporter in the MSM who got one of my press releases:

[him] I’ve been doing this for 30 years, during which time I’ve heard any number of apocalyptic predictions. In my view, they’re a waste of time.

[me] I can understand that view. They have a terrible track record and it's a radical notion I'm asserting. Although I'm increasingly in good company, I should mention. And major market collapses do happen often enough. Barton Biggs in Wealth, War and Wisdom points out that a major event that wipes out wealth seems to occur at least once per century.
[me] I'm actually rather surprised you're not more open to the idea after what happened in 2008. In my view, investors are increasingly aware of the oil situation. Many are building so called "doomsteads." At some point, enough will learn that the growth their holdings are counting on will not come to pass because energy is too expensive. Add some sort of triggering event and I think they'll run for the exits.

I sincerely hope the world's central banks act as quickly next time. My concern is that they will hesitate just enough as people say, "Not this time you don't! Last time it went to GS and we're not letting that happen again!" and they will not pump in the money required. Then we certainly will see a systemic failure such as I'm predicting. It almost happened once and credible people are warning that the problem may actually have gotten worse.

Some sort of triggering event...

What a black swan means is debated above, but maybe we could agree on some definition that a black swan is something that 99% of the general population would not remotely expect.

I would characterize today's events on Wall Street as a black swan. I worked in one of the busiest Wall Street trading rooms for years and I did not expect the events of today.

We had 10 major NYSE listed and NASDAQ companies see the price of their stock going from $20, $30, $40, $50 to $0.01 (one cent) in one minute.

If the central bankers did not get the message by now that the financial system can collapse faster than a paper house of cards, well then systemic financial failure here we come. However I don't think the Federal Reserve, and the IMF (greatly influenced by the US) will let this thing fall yet.

But the day of reckoning comes soon, so if I am wrong this whole thing will be going down. In the end, assets will vaporize in the post-peak oil world, but financial manipulation can keep the illusion of BAU going a few years longer.

"However I don't think the Federal Reserve, and the IMF (greatly influenced by the US) will let this thing fall yet."

Cascading failures of the sort we are speaking of don't happen by choice, so it matters little what they wish to let or not let happen.


Just wondering, has anyone seen photos of the other two oil leaks in GOM, I actually think only one other now? They keep showing same photo on TV.