Drumbeat: May 7, 2010

Falling crude oil prices could keep gasoline under $3

NEW YORK (AP) — Gasoline prices that typically begin a sprint for their annual highs about now are losing steam well ahead of the summer driving season.

The price of crude oil fell more than 10% the past week, as the dollar got stronger on currency turmoil in Europe. Gasoline futures also fell sharply, a decline that could make its way to the pump in a matter of weeks.

...A barrel of benchmark crude fell $2 to settle at $75.11 a barrel Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That's the lowest per-barrel price since mid-February.

Big oil boosts gas holdings

The relatively low price for natural gas is spurring property sales to the oil patch’s biggest players, as oil patch experts say many junior energy plays borrowed money to buy and develop properties over the past five years. Weak gas prices means those debts cannot be services, so lenders are either forcing sales by existing owners, or taking over properties and selling them off.

Cubans state radio warns against hoarding rice

HAVANA – Facing a shortage of rice and anxious to reduce the cost of importing it, Cuba is calling on citizens not to hoard the grain — no mean feat in a country that is the seventh largest consumer of rice per capita worldwide.

"We are demanding discipline and order in purchases," state-run Radio Rebelde said during its Friday newscast. "Don't allow, under any circumstances, people to hoard rice so they can later sell it at a higher price."

From Oil to Coal to Nukes, US Energy Is Risky Business

NEW ORLEANS -- They're cracking morbid jokes about crossing off the B's on signs that advertise "boiled shrimp," while they wait for the heavy brown sludge from the Deepwater Horizon accident to arrive. They shouted "Amen!" on Saturday when Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, performing at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, declared that the children of BP executives should come down to help clean up the swamps and beaches.

But while the anger in New Orleans -- and throughout the Gulf Coast -- is palpable, an oil spill from an offshore drilling rig is far from the only disaster America invites in its hunger for the power to run all manner of machinery. Every type of energy is risky business.

"Energy is made from unpleasant stuff that we use because we feel we need it," said David M. Hassenzahl, who chairs the environmental studies department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Pemex April Output Posts Smallest Drop Since 2007, CNH Says

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-owned oil company, posted a 1.7 percent decline in crude output in April, according to Mexico’s National Hydrocarbons Commission.

Preliminary April output dropped to 2.598 million barrels a day from 2.642 million barrels in the year-earlier period, the commission, known as CNH, said on its website in an oil exploration report dated May 2.

Petrobras sees record oil production

Brazilian state-run energy giant Petrobras, set a record for oil production in April, company boss Jose Sergio Gabrielli said today.

U.S. natgas rig count falls 5 to 953 - Baker Hughes

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the United States fell five this week to 953, according to a report on Friday by oil services firm Baker Hughes in Houston.

Maker of film 'Crude' ordered to turn over footage

NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York City has ordered a documentary filmmaker to turn over about 600 hours of raw footage from a film about a legal fight between Chevron Corp. and Ecuadoreans over oil contamination in their country.

BP Outlook Revised to Negative by S&P

(Bloomberg) -- Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said it revised the outlook on BP Plc to negative from stable.

Oil spill could reach US port for foreign oil

VENICE, La. – Oil gushing from a blown-out well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico could force closure of the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port next week, authorities said Friday.

The port, known as LOOP, is a platform off the Louisiana coast about 80 miles southwest of New Orleans. It is one of the leading facilities for imported oil, handling up to 1.2 million barrels a day and feeding half the nation's refinery capacity.

As the oil creeps closer

With the Gulf oil slick spreading, these 5 business owners are among the thousands fearing for their livelihood.

Fed oil rig regulators to examine blowout preventers to assure they're safe

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal regulators say they are going to examine whether the last-resort cutoff valves on offshore oil wells are reliable enough in light of the explosion and massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Boundaries of fishing ban expand in Gulf of Mexico

(Reuters) - The boundaries of a no-fishing zone in the Gulf of Mexico have been extended due to the massive oil spill off the Louisiana coast, authorities said on Friday.

In the Chandeleur Islands, Spotting the Spill’s ‘Leading Edge’

Since the oil spill from the wrecked rig Deepwater Horizon began fouling the waters of the Gulf of Mexico two weeks ago, no single area has been of more concern than the wild and uninhabited Chandeleur Islands.

The southernmost tip of Breton National Wildlife refuge, the islands are home to innumerable birds and other species of wildlife. They are, for example, now believed to be the northernmost birthing grounds for the endangered lemon shark.

Local fishermen unhappy at BP Gulf spill jobs offers

BURAS, La. (Reuters) - For thousands of fishermen whose livelihoods are threatened by an expanding oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, the offer of jobs by energy giant BP to help clean up the spill seemed like a lifeline.

But hope has already turned to disappointment for many in Louisiana and Alabama who complain that too few people are being selected. Some also say that out-of-state fishermen are taking advantage of a program designed specifically for locals.

U.S. seeks more data from Shell on Arctic Ocean drilling plans

WASHINGTON -- Saying there are new safety concerns raised by last month's explosion of an oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, the Interior Department has given Shell Oil until May 18 to provide more information about the company's exploratory drilling plans in the Arctic Ocean and said they will fall under the temporary halt to all pending U.S. offshore drilling proposals.

The Greatest Misallocation of Resources in the History of the World

Kunstler is often criticized for being too pessimistic, but I find myself going back and forth on that. The case he makes is strong and the evidence is piling up all around us, yet it is still hard for me to get my head around the idea that the big changes he predicts are imminent. For example, Kunstler “categorically” predicts that the airline industry will fall apart within five years, flying will become an elite activity, and the days of visiting granny in Arizona for the holidays will be over. Five years from now?

Dmitry Orlov on why the U.S. is headed toward Soviet-style collapse

Really, there's no one at the helm now," Dmitry Orlov says nonchalantly. We are talking about the economic crisis and the way that the destructive system of our economy operates without anyone really leading it. It's a perfect statement from a man who has traded in his house and car to live on a sailboat full-time, with an excellent argument for the safety and sustainability of the water-based nomadic existence to back up his decision.

Not much seems to ruffle Orlov, who describes his work as the "comparative theory of superpower collapse." Russian-American and fluent in both cultures, Orlov has made his name on his blog ClubOrlov with beautifully reasoned comparisons of the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s and the coming collapse of the United States (already underway, depending on how you view the recent economic crisis).

More Applied Turmoil: Masdar PV Abruptly Changes Management

Masdar PV, the company set up by the government of Abu Dhabi to make silicon solar panels for utility-scale solar parks, has abruptly changed its management.

The company has announced that CEO Rainer Gegenwart and COO Joachim Neil have "been removed from their roles" at the company. There's terminology you don't hear every day. Michael Alexander will head up the organization in the meantime. Gegenwart came to Masdar from First Solar.

Lithium-Air Batteries Could Rescue Electric Car Drivers From 'Range Anxiety'

ARGONNE, Ill. -- Twenty miles southwest of Chicago, government researchers are pursuing the automotive version of Mr. Right.

He's powerful. He has endurance. He isn't too expensive to have around. And he never, ever explodes.

That's one way to think of the perfect car battery, which will have to balance many different factors to lure the American masses to the electric car.

Indonesia Eyes Gas Promised to Japan

As Indonesia continues to suffer from a shortage of liquefied natural gas, the government said on Friday that an existing contract to supply LNG from Central Kalimantan to Japanese buyers would likely be revised to enable more fuel to be allocated to the domestic market.

Energy Minister Darwin Zahedy Saleh said the government may alter the contract to provide Japanese buyers LNG from the Bontang project in Central Kalimantan.

“We’re able to revise the contract supply since the gas is our resource,” Darwin said. He acknowledged the possibility of penalties from buyers if Indonesia failed to meet its agreement, but he asked for understanding from Japanese companies. “We’re still considering it.”

Diesel firms buying supplies from rivals

Fuel companies are swapping supplies to prevent stations running out of diesel.

The Dominion Post has been told that diesel is being trucked long distances around the country because of delays importing fuel, which is needed because of a maintenance shutdown at New Zealand's only fuel refinery.

One industry source said BP would be "in a very difficult position if other companies weren't helping out". BP has confirmed that it is buying emergency supplies from rivals to keep stations in stock.

Peak oil futures: same crisis, different responses

Peak oil theorists predict an impending terminal decline of world oil production, with no adequate alternate resource and technology available to replace oil as the backbone resource of industrial society. Instead of endlessly debating whether peak oil theorists are right or wrong, let us simply ask what would happen if they were right. Based on historical case studies I suggest that there would be different reactions in different parts of the world, ranging from predatory militarism to authoritarian retrenchment and the mobilization of local resilience.

UK firm's Falklands oil find sparks mix of hopes and fears

Islanders hope that the discovery will result in an oil bonanza, but environmentalists expressed concern for the region's marine life in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico disaster in similar deepwater conditions.

Gasoline Futures Sink as Stocks Plunge on Europe Debt Crisis

(Bloomberg) -- Gasoline slid, headed for the biggest weekly drop in eight months, as stocks plunged on concern the European debt crisis threatens global economic recovery and as fuel supplies reached a seven-week high.

Market Loss from Event Could Be $3.5B

In its quarterly earnings report released Thursday, Swiss Re gave its pre-tax, provisional estimate of the loss from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig: $200 million.

BP Oil-Containment Box Hovers Above Seafloor in Gulf

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc lowered nearly to the seafloor a 40-foot-tall structure that may capture as much as 85 percent of the oil leaking from a well into the Gulf of Mexico.

Gulf incident prompts policy-change efforts

WASHINGTON — If history is any guide, the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico could lead to a flow of laws and regulations aimed at protecting the nation's waters, coastal communities and marine-based economies.

Groundhog Day for Oil

Here now is the sad replay in the Gulf of Mexico, with that life-killing choreography. Then, as today, an oil company deployed booms and dispersants, tried to buy off fishermen with quicky legal settlements, and made resolute promises about restoration and doing the right thing.

In Alaska, we saw how that turned out: after nearly two decades of legal foot-dragging, Exxon got exactly what it wanted: a Supreme Court that consistently backs the powerful and well-connected reduced punitive damages from $2.5 billion to $500 million — in a good year, just a single week’s profit for the company.

Accidents and our energy straightjacket

We constantly hear about the global effect of China’s growth and concurrent energy demand, but here at home we too have been nothing less than voracious in our consumption of oil and thus forcing our imports to greatly expand. Many point to the national security element and fiscal imbalances caused by this immense demand growth. But perhaps what might be most relevant is that we have now largely transferred on to those we import from all of the myriad elements of the extractive resource industry. We have off-shored a great deal of our responsibility.

Germany starts financing renewable energy projects in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (APP) - Germany has started its financial cooperation and assistance to Pakistan in power generation sector through renewable energy to meet the present severe energy crisis here.“Pakistan and Germany have signed two agreements recently for producing power through solar and wind and work will be started before the end of the year on these projects,” Dr. Michael Koch told reporters here at the National Press Club Friday.

Not Initially...But Over Time YES

Today, the World could certainly make the transition to a more renewable source of products and fuels, but the economies which support the World would never recover from a rampant uncontrolled change. The monies invested by Aramco, can be considered "lunch money" in the overall picture but certainly represent a great leading effort and benchmark for other companies to follow suit. What the Saudis' realize and what the rest of the World wants to pretend does not represent reality is simply this; the World will eventually run out of oil, and the people in power have only one fear...loosing their power.

National Grid Agrees to Buy 50% of Cape Wind Power

(Bloomberg) -- National Grid Plc, an owner of utilities in the U.S. and U.K., will seek regulatory approval to sign a contract to buy half of the power output from the Cape Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts.

Low snowpack might mean higher utility rates: BPA

The Bonneville Power Administration, which supplies Seattle with about 40 percent of its energy, warned that low snowpack in the Pacific Northwest mountains this season means it might have to raise utility rates.

Study backing 80 km/h limit ignores our nature

“Another study showing that making life suck is good for the environment? I think we already knew that.”

This was a typical response to recent news that a Dutch research company, CE Delft, has proposed a strictly enforced speed limit of 80 km/h because, it says, the measure could cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks by 30 per cent.

Underground "Fossil Water" Running Out

In the world's driest places, "fossil water" is becoming as valuable as fossil fuel, experts say.

This ancient freshwater was created eons ago and trapped underground in huge reservoirs, or aquifers. And like oil, no one knows how much there is—but experts do know that when it's gone, it's gone.

"You can apply the economics of mining because you are depleting a finite resource," said Mike Edmunds, a hydrogeologist at Oxford University in the Great Britain.

Obama suspends new Virginia offshore drilling bid

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Obama administration took the first concrete steps Thursday to make good on its pledge to halt new offshore drilling projects, suspending the approval process for new wells off of the Virginia coast.

Deepwater Horizon Rig Disaster Threatens Drilling

The Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20 at a moment when U.S. energy policy was pivoting in favor of offshore drilling. After two years of partisan debate triggered by the $4-a-gallon gasoline prices of 2008, President Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders dropped their opposition to expanded offshore drilling.

Critics turn attention to rig watchdog

Just as the financial crisis revealed that US regulators were often too cosy with institutions that they were meant to supervise, BP's huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has shone an unflattering light on the agency charged with regulating US oil resources.

Previous BP Accidents Blamed On Safety Lapses

The Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion and fire that killed 11 men and triggered a massive oil leak is not the first time BP has had to contend with a horrible accident or spill.

How Does The Stock Market Respond To Petrochemical Disasters?

In absence of precise assessments, stock market prices should provide useful information about the financial implications of the oil spill, and indicate whether investors perceive industrial pollution as a serious matter. Back of the envelope estimates show that between April 20 and April 30, BP has lost about $25 billion in market value, which represents a 12% decline. But, can these estimates be considered as relevant and abnormally big?

Alaska fishermen still struggling 21 years after Exxon spill

Cordova, Alaska (CNN) -- For third-generation fisherman John Platt, the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill is a financial and psychological nightmare that won't end.

Three years after the 11 million-gallon spill in Prince William Sound blackened 1,500 miles of Alaska coastline, the herring on which he and other Cordova fishermen heavily relied disappeared from the area. Platt and some others stuck around, fishing for salmon and hoping things would improve.

The herring never returned to Cordova. Platt's income plummeted, severely straining his marriage and psyche. He dipped into his sons' college funds to support his family.

Shell to court: We're ready to drill Arctic Ocean

PORTLAND, Ore. — Shell Oil is ready to drill in the Arctic Ocean this summer and asked a federal appeals court Thursday to rule quickly on a challenge by environmentalists concerned about the risk of a major spill after the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

Kathleen Sullivan, an attorney for Shell, said the company has spent at least $3.5 billion on Alaska operations in the past few years as it prepares for exploratory drilling set for July in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

Nigeria: Shell can't meet oil production target

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) -- Royal Dutch Shell PLC announced Friday that it would not be able to fulfill some of its oil production contracts after a fire on one of its major pipelines in Nigeria that the company has blamed on thieves.

Shell issued a statement saying the fire and leaks on its subsidiary's Trans Niger pipeline forced it to declare "force majeure" on production of Bonny Light oil for May and June - meaning it is impossible for the oil major to cover the promised supply from the field.

Progress ups Levy nuclear plant costs, delays start

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Progress Energy Inc boosted the estimated cost of its proposed Levy nuclear power plant in Florida and delayed its start-up to 2021 due to a delay in licensing the reactors, a spokeswoman for the company said on Thursday.

Brazil and U.S. Ranked Worst for Environmental Impact

Brazil and the United States rank as the two worst countries in terms of their environmental impact, a new study finds.

The researchers, led by the University of Adelaide's Environment Institute in Australia, used seven indicators of environmental degradation to create two rankings - one in which impact was measured against the total resources available to a country, and another measuring absolute environmental degradation at a global scale.

ANALYSIS - Reforms needed as China plans unconventional gas push

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's plans to triple natural gas use by 2020 by tapping potential massive supplies locked up in vast coal and shale deposits hinge on policy reforms to allow more foreign investment and a gradual switch to market pricing.

Techniques that have allowed drillers in the U.S. to punch holes horizontally through previously tapped tight hydro-carbon rich geologic formations has spurred a boom in the production of unconventional gas sources in the past decade such as coal seam fields in Pennsylvania and shale deposits in Canada.

China says it has been closely studying unconventional gas exploration efforts in the U.S. and elsewhere as it seeks more energy supplies to fuel its booming economy and is now ready to try and exploit its own resources.

Oil Rises, Stemming Weekly Loss as Dollar Weakens Against Euro

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil rose, snapping three days of declines, as the dollar weakened versus the euro and on speculation this week’s 10 percent fall may have been excessive.

Futures are still heading for their biggest drop since July on concerns Europe’s debt crisis will derail the economic recovery. Prices touched an 11-week low of $74.58 a barrel in New York yesterday. U.S. inventories of gasoline are 7.6 percent above their seasonal norm as the country’s peak driving season approaches, according to the Energy Department.

Arctic drilling opponents gain momentum from Gulf oil spill

As the federal government and BP struggle to bring the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill under control, a battle over drilling in arctic water off Alaska's northern shore is heating up fast.

Canada's oilsands are a blessing

BP's tragic Deepwater Horizon oil well rupture in the Gulf of Mexico points out a cruel irony -- that Canada's so-called "dirty oil" from the Athabasca Sands is now looking pretty good compared to oil from offshore drilling.

Korea Gas Plans $15 Billion Overseas Spending by 2017

(Bloomberg) -- Korea Gas Corp., the world’s biggest buyer of liquefied natural gas, plans to spend 17.8 trillion won ($15.5 billion) by 2017 on overseas expansion to bolster supplies of the cleaner-burning fuel, its chief executive said.

“We are seeking opportunities overseas including gas development, gas pipeline investment, LNG terminal construction and city-gas distribution,” Choo Kang Soo said in an interview today. He didn’t say where the investment funds will come from.

Russians free pirates; no legal basis to prosecute

MOSCOW -- Russia has released pirates who hijacked an oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden because there are no legal grounds to prosecute them in Moscow, a Defence Ministry official said on Friday.

The decision reverses a plan to bring 10 alleged pirates to Russia to face prosecution for the seizure on Wednesday of the Russian-owned MV Moscow University, which was headed to China with a crew of 23 and a crude oil cargo worth US$52-million.

China’s Oil Refining Rates Fall on Global Uncertainty, C1 Says

(Bloomberg) -- Oil refineries in China, the world’s second-biggest energy user, cut operating rates by 4.9 percentage points from two weeks earlier because of uncertainty in the global markets, said commodity researcher C1 Energy.

China top refineries to run at 2nd highest rate in May

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's leading refineries will process crude oil in May at the second highest rate on record after Beijing raised fuel prices last month amid rising seasonal demand.

Twelve major plants accounting for more than a third of China's capacity, most of them on the eastern and southern seaboards, plans to process nearly 2.96 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in May, only slightly lower than the record daily rate of 2.98 million bpd in April, a Reuters poll showed.

Pipe fire shuts-in Shell Nigeria supply

A Nigerian crude oil pipeline shut down by Shell this week because of several fires has a supply capacity of around 150,000 barrels per day, according to reports.

India billionaire Mukesh Ambani wins gas feud

NEW DELHI (AFP) – India's Supreme Court ruled in favour of the country's richest man Mukesh Ambani on Friday in his long-running feud with his brother Anil over a family deal to share the nation's largest gas find.

In a landmark decision, the court threw out a deal between the estranged siblings involving access to the Krishna Godavari Basin off India's east coast in a move hailed by Mukesh's lawyers and the government.

BP hopes giant steel dome will stem U.S. Gulf leak

VENICE, Louisiana (Reuters) – BP Plc engineers were expected to lower a massive metal containment chamber onto a ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday in an effort to stem the widening slick.

If all goes to plan, the four storey-tall structure will redirect the flow of crude from nearly 1 mile below the water and pump it up to the surface. But BP officials warned it will be no easy task.

Oil-containment effort's success hard to gauge

BRETON SOUND, La. — The Island Ann is usually hauling shrimp this time of year. But this season, the 50-foot trawler and 700 other local fishing boats are one of the last lines of defense against the encroaching massive oil slick creeping toward the Gulf Coast.

The shrimpers have been recruited in the effort to contain the spill, lowering booms of tubing material into the water to corral and absorb oil about 18 miles offshore.

One problem, though: The strategy isn't having much success.

In Gulf of Mexico, Chemicals Under Scrutiny

As they struggle to plug a leak from a ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, BP and federal officials are also engaging in one of the largest and most aggressive experiments with chemical dispersants in the history of the country, and perhaps the world.

U.S. Delays Public Meetings on Offshore Drilling After BP Spill

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Interior Department delayed public meetings in Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina to debate plans for offshore drilling as an oil slick started to come ashore in Louisiana from a damaged BP Plc well.

The department said it will postpone meetings on a plan to allow oil and natural-gas drilling off those U.S. states as it reviews “safety issues” that preceded the April 20 explosion of the BP-leased rig. Florida may call a special legislative session to consider banning offshore drilling, Sterling Ivey, a spokesman for Governor Charlie Crist, said yesterday.

Gulf oil spill: Questions unanswered, residents try legal action

New Orleans – In the wake of the Gulf oil spill, rig operator BP has produced apologies, jobs for local fishermen to aid in the recovery efforts, and a promise to pay for all cleanup costs.

But what it hasn’t yet produced are answers to why the explosion happened and how exactly it plans to compensate local fishermen – unanswered questions that, three weeks after the explosion, are frustrating all those affected by the disaster, including leaders of gulf coast states and fishing operators.

Clarifying Questions of Liability, Cleanup and Consequences

As the crisis has unfolded, confusion has soared about the oil spill’s gravity, the potential effects on coastal residents, the risks to wildlife and who will foot the costs of the cleanup.

Following is an oil spill primer.

U.S. exempted BP rig from environmental study

The Interior Department exempted BP's calamitous Gulf of Mexico drilling operation from a detailed environmental impact analysis last year, according to government documents, after three reviews of the area concluded that a massive oil spill was unlikely.

Napolitano: Gulf oil spill a long-term event

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) -- Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is warning the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a long-term event.

Napolitano said Thursday during a visit to Biloxi that she doesn't think the spill will be over shortly. She says she is hopeful the device being deployed to cap the spewing well is successful, but officials are still planning for the worst.

Gulf spill will "forever" change drilling-BP exec

BOSTON (Reuters) - The explosion and sinking of a BP Plc oil rig and subsequent massive oil spill will "forever" change the offshore drilling industry, a top executive with the London-based oil giant said on Thursday.

"There is no doubt that this event will change the offshore industry forever, around the globe," said Robert Dudley, executive vice president for the Americas and Asia at BP.

China’s Coal at Discount, Signaling Import Drop

(Bloomberg) -- Coal prices in China are their cheapest in 20 months against the benchmark Australian grades, signaling shipments to the world’s second-largest energy user are poised to fall.

Red China, Green China

WITH the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf, talk has once again turned to clean energy. What few people appreciate is that the demand for everything from solar panels to energy-efficient light bulbs is already booming. Worldwide, $162 billion was spent in new clean-tech investments in 2009 alone.

The United States, with its expertise, capital and entrepreneurial spirit, is well positioned to dominate what could easily be the biggest market of the 21st century. But as the most recent delay over the Senate energy bill shows, the country is missing a key ingredient in shaping an effective clean-tech policy: the political will to encourage the innovation, manufacturing and investment necessary to bring these new technologies to market. And the longer America drags its feet, the more it cedes this enormous potential source of national wealth to the only other country able to capture it — China.

Patent Pending: The Fast Track

Inventors of green technology can request that their patents be placed in an accelerated queue at the federal patent office.

Areva ‘Confident’ South Africa Will Revive Nuclear Plan in 2010

(Bloomberg) -- Areva SA, the world’s biggest builder of nuclear reactors, is “confident” South Africa will revive a plan to build a nuclear plant this year, said Mohammed Madhi, chairman of the company’s local operations.

Hawaii chosen as manufacturing site for electric mini-cars

A South Korea-based company has committed to build a $200 million assembly plant on O'ahu that would turn out two-seat electric cars and other vehicles and employ as many as 400 people.

Chevy Volt Faces Its Uphill Battle With "Mountain Mode"

The Mountain Mode option gathers an energy reserve in the lithium-ion battery so that the car has the full power of both the gasoline engine and the electric powertrain behind it for, say, navigating a series of San Francisco inclines. If a Volt is climbing thousands of feet at high speeds, Mountain Mode can also run the engine at a higher speed to deliver maximum output. The latter feature requires that drivers select Mountain Mode relatively far in advance so that the car has time to gather electric battery reserves.

Deflation Investing Strategy: 5 Things You Should Know

For example, silver is more volatile than gold, due to it’s industrial demand – that works like leverage – great when prices are going up (if you’re long) – but very bad when prices go down. I think we’ll see single digit silver again before we see silver north of $25.

Same goes for oil – peak oil or not, if demand hits the road for a year or two, we could see an instant replay of what happened to natural gas. Where all of a sudden there’s more supply than anyone knows what do do with, and prices collapse.

Crude oil collapsed into the $30’s last time, and I suspect it could drop even lower this time around.

Stock Market Investors In the Land of the Blind

“Energy” holds the key. That’s where we should be focusing.

Having said this, there can be no quick fixes or silver bullets. Neither can anyone be allowed to “corner the market” in energy. Ultimately, it’s precisely because the market in oil was “cornered” flowing from decisions dating back to 1917 (and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire), that we are now witnessing these particular sell signals. The world has passed Peak Oil and we have been caught flat footed because the oil and coal lobbies were happy to maintain the status quo – which is why the US and Australia did not ratify Kyoto. In maintaining the status quo, the door was opened to “management” of the economy by the bankers. They thought they could print their way out of the economic problems. This opened the door to greed, graft and corruption.

Oil Gusher in Gulf: Energy Gluttony, not Oil Addiction, is Greater Challenge

It's crazy that everyone was blindsided by the unprecedented BP oil rig explosion and oil well disaster, when it or a similar event had to happen eventually. Indeed, we now have a "new" wrinkle for petrocollapse. Petrocollapse has mostly referred to the effects of peak oil, but all is ecological in the final analysis.

Sickening ourselves on oil

So, here we are again, watching — most of us helplessly — as a huge oil spill wreaks ecological chaos. This time, it's the Gulf of Mexico and the states there arrayed who will be the direct targets of the latest mishap, although we'll all pay, in some way, soon enough.

There will be blood—for oil

I could talk about lobbying by big oil companies and the horrid evils of oil monopolies ruling the actions of our government. I could talk about peak oil—estimates of when it will occur and the effects it will have on our way of life—and why this is evidence of the need to shift away from dependence on oil.

I could go on and on. But I’m sure you’ve heard it all.

And even if I did ramble on with all of this, it probably wouldn’t change your opinion anyway.

E.ON Calls in 110-Meter Crane to Help Cut Acid Rain

(Bloomberg) -- E.ON AG is bringing one of the world’s tallest cranes to central England in a 300 million-pound ($441 million) plan to keep a coal-fired plant running even after Europe clamps down on acid rain.

E.ON U.K.’s Ratcliffe plant in Nottingham will be the first in Britain to install a nitrogen-oxide scrubber. The unit of Germany’s largest utility is betting that tall cranes needed to retrofit smokestacks may eventually be hard to come by, even though European Union lawmakers voted this week to move more slowly to restrict gases tied to acid rain and global warming.

Oil Spill May Spur Support for U.S. Climate Bill, Browner Says

(Bloomberg) -- The BP Plc oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may help galvanize support for climate-change legislation to overhaul U.S. energy policy, White House adviser Carol Browner said.

“This accident, this tragedy, is actually heightening people’s interest in energy in this country and in wanting a different energy plan,” Browner, President Barack Obama’s adviser on energy and climate change, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt” airing this weekend.

Tape Exposes Rich-Poor Tussle in Copenhagen

Here’s a quick note about a remarkable multimedia report in Der Spiegel (English) built around recordings made during the tumultuous back-room discussions by an array of world leaders in the final stages of climate talks last December in Copenhagen. Excerpts of “accidental” audio recordings of the discussions obtained by Der Spiegel vividly display the deep rifts between China and India, on the one hand, and European leaders and other industrialized powers on the other.

Is a Drop in U.S. CO2 a Blip or Trend?

Dr. Schipper, who has spent many years sifting data on home size, heating bills, appliance purchases, driving habits, freight shipments and other activities that indirectly gauge the use of different fuels, sent me a note about the challenge of gauging trends during turbulent economic times. One big issue, he said, is that the Department of Energy has stopped tracking many lines of data that matter.

Still Under Attack, Climate Scientists Fight Back

Has any field suffered a faster drop in public confidence than climate science? Two and a half years ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was finishing up its widely acclaimed fourth assessment on global warming, which made an unequivocal case for the threat of man-made climate change. For its work, the IPCC was rewarded with the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize — shared with Al Gore for his green advocacy — and polls showed strong concern over global warming, even in the U.S. By the time of President Barack Obama's election in 2008, the stage seemed set for climate science to go from the professional journals to the stuff of legislation.

But that was then. Thanks in part to the events of "Climategate" last November — when someone hacked and released thousands of emails and documents from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at Britain's East Anglia University — climate scientists now find themselves under fire.

China’s Energy Use Threatens Goals on Warming

HONG KONG — Even as China has set ambitious goals for itself in clean-energy production and reduction of global warming gases, the country’s surging demand for power from oil and coal has led to the largest six-month increase in the tonnage of human generated greenhouse gases ever by a single country.

China’s leaders are so concerned about rising energy use and declining energy efficiency that the cabinet held a special meeting this week to discuss the problem, according to a statement Thursday from the ministry of industry and information technology. Coal-fired electricity and oil sales each climbed 24 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, on the heels of similar increases in the fourth quarter

The GOM oil spill is nearing the Louisiana Offshore port, which is capable of handling VLCCs (Very Large Crude Carrier).

There are no indications yet the LOOP will be shut down, but if so, it would have major implications for the long refinery row stretched out along the Gulf Coast. I would assume if the LOOP was shut in for more than a few days, that some oil from the SPR (Strategic Petroleum Reserve) would be released.

Oil creeping toward Grand Isle, Port Fourchon

Oil has also drifted into the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port security zone, a heavily guarded area in the Gulf west of Grand Isle where oil is offloaded from tankers and piped to inland refineries.

LOOP has the capacity to store about 50 million barrels of crude and is connected to half the U.S. refinery capacity, according to the LOOP Inc. website.


It seems a little strange to me that there is so little being printed about the LOOP. The MSM is full of stories about where and when and if the oil comes ashore and all that will mean to the economies of the Gulf states. But there seems to be hardly anything about what a closure of the LOOP will mean to the entire country or what it takes to close the LOOP or when the oil is expected to hit the LOOP in any large quantities.

The oil market also doesn't seem to be taking this possibility into account either, with WTI breaking $75 today, so maybe it's really not likely. I would think that if there was even a remote possibility of the LOOP being shut down long enough to cause oil to be released from the SPR, it would be reflected in the price today since the last wind forecast I read about was predicted to cause oil to come ashore over the weekend in some areas.

Can anyone here on TOD speculate a little about why the oil slick might close down the LOOP? Is fire danger the reason? Is it that ships leaving the area would carry some oil on their hulls and spread it?

The media is speculating about almost everything else connected with this oil spill. It just seems strange that there is so little speculation about closing the LOOP if it's even a remote possibility.

The oil won't bother the ships. They just don't want the ships going through it for environmental reasons.

They won't shut down the LOOP. If necessary, they'll set up cleaning stations for the ships, but they won't shut it down.

Some TOD posters have said otherwise, that heavy concentrations of oil in the water can affect water intake, although it appears right now the tankers can mostly go around the spill area. This may account for some news reports that say shipping times to ports have slowed a little.

Also, here is a news report from May 5, in which the LOOP only admits to seeing no immeadiate problem:

"The market wants to go higher, there's no question," said Tony Rosado, a broker with GA Global Markets in New York. "At this point, the spread (between futures contracts) is keeping the market from really erupting." Inventories could fall much sooner if oil from a leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico threatens operations at the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the nation's biggest crude import facility. A spokeswoman said the port is operating normally and isn't expected to be affected by the spill "anytime soon." But the BP PLC (BP)-owned well, which was being worked by a rig that caught fire and sank last week, could take weeks to seal off, and oil has already reached the Louisiana coastline. LOOP is the only port that can handle the largest oil tankers, which offload over 1 million barrels a day there. That crude is used by refiners across the Gulf Coast and Midwest, and the mere threat of the port temporarily shutting down "is already having an impact on oil prices," wrote analysts with Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS).

All the reports I've seen have said the oil will cause little problem to the ships. The coast guard is making them go around the slick for environmental reasons. Here's another article about it:

US shippers expect oil spill delays if cleaning needed

Shippers using U.S. ports on the Gulf of Mexico expect some delays due to the spreading BP oil spill if ships need cleaning before entering port, trade sources said Friday.

"If the oil gets to the Mississippi, we think there may be some delays, but nothing substantial," said an oil trader for a major refiner.

Leanan how often do we run our ships through large oil slicks ?

Whats your insurer going to say about doing it ?

The simple solution is if your already in the Gulf unload ASAP.
Then bid on alternative routes and stay away. Its an unknown risk factor why take it ?

I wonder if there is any fire hazard in a ship in an oil slick?

I would imagine it was done quite frequently before we had so many environmental laws.

Umm no.

My best guess for real info would be WWII


Nothing popped up plenty of tankers sunk and plenty of nasty spill but no info on the effects of running through them that I could find. However I think if the info is available then during WWII is when it would have been more common. Obviously in war you will do what you have to do i.e sail through a slick if you need too.

So far at least the information does not seem to be there which suggest ships don't sail through oil slicks if they can help it. I certainly don't think its not without issues but my main point is as far as I can tell its very much and unknown.

Not so much sunk tankers, as just everyday spillage. There's a port in NYC that still leaks oil...from the days when nobody cared if ships were leaking oil or refueling spilled oil in the water.

And Reuters is reporting that several ships have sailed through the oil slick already, with no apparent problems.

"Niether Rain nor Snow nor dark of night,
nor ash clouds or oil slicks,
will keep these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds"

New World Man.

"A couple of ships in the past couple of days have gone through some sheen, but it hasn't stuck to the ship, and there hasn't been a ship coming in with oil on it," said Captain Jason Bosley of pilots serving Mississippi River entrance.

Sheen is not plowing through the slick itself for miles.

Again I've not found anything about ships actually traversing a large oil spill. Good bad, ugly, no problem its simply not known. We may well find out at some point.

This is the best I've come up with.


A marine engineering expert said ship owners and ship captains would have few concerns sailing through the oil slick to reach port.

The issue is avoiding violating pollution restrictions when entering port, not mechanical or corrosion risk for vessels passing through the spill, said David Marsh, a consultant with 3D Marine Consultants & Surveyors in Houston.

Vessel seawater intakes for cooling are below the surface, away from the oil slick, and oil on the surface would not affect maneuvering thrusters in the hull that are used for positioning at docks, Marsh said.

Problem is its a fairly heavy tarry oil so a lot of it is probably tar balls floating at different levels below the surface.


Instead, gobs of emulsified oil -- best described as tar balls -- will wash ashore in patches over the next several months, said Ed Overton, who is conducting his analysis for the federal response team.

Sucking tarballs into water intakes is probably not a good idea.


Raw Water Intakes
OK, this one is a little tougher. Since all of these systems are drawing sea water into your boat near the surface, the thick gooey globules of oil are extremely unlikely to get sucked into your boat’s systems. If they did, yes, it would gum things up for sure, but since the heavy oil is sinking to well below the surface in this case, the remaining sheen is so diluted that it will not cause any permanent damage to your boat. I’ve been asked about the long-term effect on things like water-pump impellers, heat exchangers and such. All of the impeller products I’m familiar with are made of Neoprene and in fact are quite resistant to damage by exposure to oil. Marine grade hoses are also made of oil resistant materials. As for the plastic and metal parts used in these systems, the oil will have no influence on them. If you motor or sail your boat through an area with oil sheen on the surface, no harm will be done to your boat. These systems will clean themselves out as they continue to pump through relatively clean water.

I'm not ready to dismiss the issue out of hand and cannot find any decent info of similar situations.
The claim made for smaller craft is that the tar will sink below the surface and not be a huge problem for commercial shipping they are claiming that their water intakes are well below the surface and thus the oil floating on the surface won't be a problem.

I just think that we don't know for sure what the result will be esp with tarballs. I don't think it will be zero but its hard to say how big of a problem the will be and of course it depends on how much of the stuff you go through etc.

Could it be a fairly serious problem yes could it be a minor problem yes is it going to be zero i.e almost no problem but perhaps needing to wash the ship ? I doubt it.

I've read that it was a relatively light oil. Don't have a reference to hand, though.

Some of it is relatively light sgage. And some of it is tar.

Here's an interview with an LSU professor that includes photos of samples from the spill.


I think this should settle the debate.

May 7, 2010

Oil spill could reach US port for foreign oil

Associated Press Writers
May 7, 2010 2:16 PM

VENICE, La._Oil gushing from a blown-out well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico could force closure of the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port next week, authorities said Friday.

Current projections show the oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon disaster could reach the port next week, said Sale Sittig, director of the Louisiana Oil Terminal Authority, an oversight body for LOOP.

"It definitely could be shut down if the heavy oil gets in the vicinity of the platform," Sittig said.


As to why the oil market doesn't seem to care, well we are in the latter stages of another financial panic - which I suspect will be resolved one way or another next week.

Study finds Midwest could profit by growing fruit, vegetables to meet demand for local food:.

How few acres? One of Iowa's 99 counties could meet the demand for all six states, said Rich Pirog, associate director for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State.

…It won't be easy now for farmers to switch to other crops, Swenson said. Expertise in the Midwest tends to be in livestock or commodity crops such as corn and soybeans, not produce. The states don't have policies to encourage expanded fruit and vegetable production, and many consumers don't think much about where their produce is grown.


So let me get this straight. Land in one Iowa county is sufficient to supply produce for six Midwestern states and farmers should switch from current crops because of it.

If they did Iowa would produce about 99 times the produce requirements of the six states according to the article. What will happen to the price of produce for California growers with the addition of so much local supply? It will drop dramatically just as the price of tomatoes goes to about half when they are in season.

Does that make any sense? Sounds like the Californication of produce to me. I say let California dominate produce production. It has the weather, water subsidies and access to cheap labor across the border.

But Miller, at the University of Wisconsin, was optimistic that moving toward a regionalized food system made sense, especially as gas prices make it more costly to truck a peach or pear across the country. She also noted California relies heavily on water and transportation subsidies to dominate fruit and vegetable production.

The Midwest benefits from California’s water subsidies and access to cheap hand labor. Transport costs are still relatively minor.

And that’s the way I like it, ah ha.


And that’s the way I like it, ah ha.

you must like consuming tasteless, not ripe and never to be ripe, fruits and vegetables shipped in from california, florida, mexico, chile or wherever.

bananas will ripen on the shelf, but what else will ?

if you want quantity over quality, why not just eat canned fruits and vegetables ?

I doubt many people really benefit from CA's water subsidies--that water doens't pump itself over those mountains y'know, in tunnels that it made. Water use in the western US has cost billions of dollars, and will cost billions more. Water in the Midwest--especially the Upper Midwest--is still cheap, because there is sufficient qunatity in the areas where it would be used.

And straw arguments about Iowa producing 99 times the required fruits and vegetables because it is theoretically capable are just silly.

"just silly"

Hey, what do you expect--it's x after all. I stopped reading his posts long ago. As the malapropism goes, he never seems to amaze me.

There are massive subsidies for cattle razing in the arid west as well. But that doesn't mean it necessarily makes any more sense than subsidizing fruits and vegetables. California is running short of water, anyway, subsidized or not.

Take away the subsidies for corn and soy beans and put fruits and veggies on a more equal footing.

And I guess cheap labor is incapable of migrating to Iowa.

There are massive subsidies for cattle razing in the arid west ...

You'd think BBQ should be able to make a decent profit on its own.

Abandoned road conflicts with wind turbines.

The local county Board of Supervisors has long had a policy of not maintaining roads on which no one lives anymore. The road on the north side of the home place is one of them. May 5th was the first time a road grader touched it since the end of November 2009.

The county has let an employee go and sold maintenance equipment such as snow plows. And low/no maintenance saves fuel of course. Few complained since these roads are little used .

But now come wind turbines en masse.

Hansen is from Crystal Lake Wind and Next Era Energy which has wind turbines along the road.

“We had to open the road numerous times this winter,” Hansen said.

The road needs to stay open in case of emergency and for maintenance and operation, Hansen said.


This is the same Board of Supervisors which is planning to use wind turbine tax money to finance bonds to be sold to raise funds for road construction.



I was somewhat concerned about abandoned roads since the home place is the only place on a 7 miles stretch . 50 years ago the road had several building sites but now there is only one left, ours.

So the advent of wind turbines was a relief because now the road can not be abandoned.

Wind turbines matter, but people not so much.

The answer was blowing in the wind:


Aren't wind turbines helping people. You act like wind turbines are an animate object. Maybe they are. Those people in the city that are paying for your road that serves very few people might have a different perspective. Those who pay taxes matter as well.

A little off topic, perhaps, but I know that several of us have been following the UK elections. No party got a majority (AKA a "hung parliament"), though the Tories are close. Now comes the deal making. I am pretty sure that - public posturing aside - deal making they will do.

A Con-Lib (Conservative/Liberal Democrat) deal is the simplest solution - it gets to a majority with the fewest number of players. There is only a very small amount of policy overlap between the two parties, though, and a lot separates them - not least the considerable antipathy that a lot of the Lib-Dem rank and file have toward the Tories. Therefore, I think it unlikely (although not, at this point, impossible) that they will form a formal coalition. More likely an informal agreement: the Lib-Dems will support Cameron forming a government and will support them on any confidence votes for a certain time period - a year or two, maybe - in exchange for certain specified Lib-Dem platform issues being on the table, and certain things the Lib-Dems oppose not being on the table. First and foremost, this would mean at least a proportional representation referendum; the Cons would reserve the right to oppose it during the campaign, but the Lib-Dems would be OK with that, they just want to take it to the people and give them their say. For all the public posturing, this part of it is pretty straightforward and close to a done deal. Where things will be really difficult is in public finance. Everyone knows that big budget cuts, and probably some tax increases, are going to have to happen. The Lib-Dems would rather not have their fingerprints on any of it, except to say that they put the brakes on the Conservatives. The Conservatives would rather bring the Lib-Dems into their boat on this one, so that they don't have to take all the blame themselves. This is what the behind-closed-doors, late-into-the-night negotiating will really be all about. My guess is that this is where it will all eventually break down, too, with a failed no-confidence vote within six - eighteen months.

The most relevant peak oil issue is the potential reduction of the length of the parliament from 4-5 years to, as you say, around one year. Given that the conservatives feel one of their selling points is "reducing the deficit", there will likely be a desire to put off actually committing to any infrastructure work which would not be complete within around a year, as some of its costs will count towards increasing the deficit without giving something completed to point at and say "we did that". It will be instructive to see whether there's a decision to postpone the London-Birmingham high-speed rail extension, as that's probably the most significant such piece of work.

I agree with your concept of the risk to strategic planning, although there appears to be a minimal amount in any normal UK gov.

I don't think the public care about faster trains from London to Birmingham. More trains, more seats on trains, cheaper trains, a unified system like we had before it was sold off..thats what the public wants. High speed rail is a lobbyist scam, presumably as people en-route want to benefit from the crumbs from the London pie.

Too true about the strategic planning in the UK.

In thinking about what the public wants, I'm most interested in what people who "almost" use the trains want (rather than people who in practice wouldn't use trains no-matter what changes). The one thing you didn't mention was increasing the reliability of the train timetables (ie, if I get a train that ought to arrive at 10.30 it ought to be really exceptional that it's significantly late). I agree the high-speedness is not that important per se, but one thing about the high-speed rail network is that, by creating mostly new track, is that it's creating genuinely new capacity on the railways. Putting more trains on the existing track means there's even more trains to create "knock-on" delays for other trains. (It's amazing that the staff seem to have been trained to suggest in tannoy announcements that, eg, "this Cross Country train is delayed waiting for the stopped Virgin train in front of us to move again" will somehow make me feel better.) Unfortunately this creating of new track also means massive NIMBY opposition...

Let's not forget that between about 10 o'clock in the morning and about 4 o'clock in the afternoon the train system we have is actually exceptionally good. I use it regularly and have to say I find it affordable (if not cheap), usually clean and tidy and almost always punctual.

However between commuter rush hour times it is completely opposite. It is much, much more expensive to travel at peak times, one is very lucky to get a seat. Aushwitz-esque cattle trucks come to mind, and I am not exaggerating - I have seen on numerous occasions people stuck jam-solid in the middle of a carriage who do not have time to make it off at their station.) And because it is peak time the train companies run extra services which basically clog the network up meaning that trains hardly ever depart and arrive on time.

With very few exceptions the British rail network has not seen any new track laid for over 100 years (replaced yes, new track, no). This is the real problem, coupled with the often overlooked fact that a lot of the bridges and tunnels are well over 120 years old and built during a time when the engineers never foresaw the volume of today's traffic. On the continent - Holland comes to mind - they have double decker trains on the commuter routes. We can't have them if we wanted with out a vast and mega-expensive and time consuming refit of the existing bridges and tunnels.

I did an analysis of the British railway system and found the exact same thing that you did.


The actual travel times are very entropic compared to the scheduled travel times.

It is a classic case of disorder leading to a very elegant entropy-based model of the system.


Lovely, elegant analysis. Please keep posting to mobjectivist even in the face of a sometimes deafening silence. Those posts are worth the effort as they will still be relevant years and even decades from now. Do you intend to collect them into a book?


- Jon

WNC, deal making they will do.

Funny thing. The Brits are not use to minority governments. Historically, they've given their governments strong mandates. But the good news is that in parliamentary systems minority governments can and often do work very well.

Canucks have had a lengthy history of working through parliamentary minorities. And some of the best legislation we've ever had was because of the need to hammer and tweak enough members to the governing side.

My home province, Nova Scotia, was governed for over a decade by minority governments of various political stripes. It seemed to work well chiefly because gentlemen agreements held firm. For the last couple of years, we've had majority rule by the New Democratic Party, i.e. social democrats somewhat similar to Labour, and they seem to be forever struggling to find their footing.

Nationally, it is a bit of a different story. Stephen Harper doesn't like minority constraints on his rule... too bad, so sad... and has been called to task for taking a bull dog approach when a velvet glove would do. He and the opposition parties are currently wrangling over the House of Commons Speaker's recent decision to hold the government in "contempt of parliament"... the issue: the withholding of documents about Canadian Forces treatment of Afghanistan detainees from other parliamentarians. And unfortunately, we do have a Machiavellian Prime Minister who has not been shy to put the Governor General in a tight spot by requesting not once, but twice, prorogation to avoid facing non-confidence votes. It should be interesting to see how all this works out.

I suspect the British politicians will do the proper thing and sort it out together. The usual rule of thumb in Canada is that the party with the largest plurality of seats is asked to form the government, which if followed in the U.K., will mean David Cameron. Moreover, I suspect that no politician in the U.K. will risk public contempt by forcing the Queen to referee.

Besides, time is not on their side. The issues facing the country and the treasury means that supply-and-means measures (a.k.a. tax and spend financials) will have to come before parliament quickly, particularly if the sovereign debt crisis looms large.

All the best my friends.



The constitutional rule in the UK is that in the case of a hung parliament the incumbent Prime Minister (Labour in the case) remains so until he resigns or loses a vote of no confidence. So theoretically even without a deal the minority PM can run the country until the opposition combine to oppose him in a vote of no confidence, or by opposing the annual budget legislation.

If the minority PM resigns then the Queen will ask the majority leader to try to form a government. He or she can try to govern with a minority, form his own coalition or force a new general election. The Queen actually has no choice or influence, she just follows a procedure, it is up to the politicians what happens.

My bet is that no deal will be reached and there will be a new election called. Liberal Democrats will hold out for at least a referendum on PR but neither party will give in to that.

Gordo can theoretically try to hold on until the Queen's speech later this month, and then face an ignominious no-confidence vote. That will truly be the end of his career and his reputation, and won't do his party any good either.

An immediate election re-do is something that nobody wants, and it is especially the case that none of the parties wants to be seen as being the cause of it. That will only assure that they are punished severely by the voters.

No, what it is all coming down to: How much is Cameron willing to give, and how much is Clegg willing to give up?

It's quite a mess really, and I don't see a lot of options for a deal. I don't think the Lib Dems will settle for a seat at the table and yet another commission on electoral reform, this is one of the few chances they will get to push PR since they thought they ran a great campaign yet lost seats.

I think Brown is calling Clegg's bluff, because he knows Conservative-Lib Dem can never do a deal, they are just too far apart in policy. Clegg will then have to deal with Brown, and will have less leverage. Labour+Lib Dem is still not an overall majority, they will need the tiny parties on board as well.

It looks like a perfect stalemate. At least John Major had the decency to resign. Political instability on top of a looming economic disaster...

Bob, there is actually another twist which is hardly been mentioned. About half of Labour MPs sitting in the previous Parliament where strongly against PR and electoral reform. Granted some will have gone now but there will be a core cell of Labour who do not want PR. Ironically the Tories would actually have done better over the last few Parliaments under PR; it is Labour who would lose out to the Liberals from their rock-solid seats.

It is not beyond the pail to imagine that Tory and these Labour MPs will be communicating through back channels - and nowhere near the media - and then jointly to Clegg that even if he does get in bed with Brown he will still not get PR. Clegg then loses his trump card and has to go to his Party and tell them to take a small bit of power and influence with Cameron rather than nothing.

It looks like a perfect stalemate.

Stalemate maybe, but not yet checkmate.

There will be factors that will force the players to play together. Some are quite obvious:

1) There has to be a government. As much as it has been joked about, the Queen is not about to chuck the participatory element of the political process simply b/c people bicker. Someone will be appointed to be in charge.

2) No one, repeat NO ONE, especially the electorate, wants another election right now. Anyone who makes that happen will pay a high price. (This factor alone will kill the rhetorical overkill as time goes on.)

3) Once a government is in place, it will be up to the opposition to pull the plug. While in theory this gives them a whole lot of leverage, in practice it is like navigating a labyrinth. As often as opposition parties disagree with the government, they are even more likely to disagree among themselves, especially on matters of policy. And since political interests rarely correspond the government can usually persuade someone to back its agenda at any particular point of time.

4) Governments can last for quite a while simply on inertia. Non-confidence votes can be limited to votes on supply (i.e. on money bills) and these can be few and far between. And even here, much of the Exchequer's housekeeping can be done through Orders-in-Council and other administrative devises and instruments.

Recently in Canada we watched the Leader of the Opposition, Michael Ignatieff, slam the government on its budget only to have his party, the Liberals, abstain when the vote was cast. Everybody knew why. It was clear that the social democratic NDP and the nationalist Bloc Quebecois were going to vote against the Conservative government and the Liberals were not fussy about being blamed for a premature election.

I still give David Cameron at least two years.

Best wishes for a new government at Westminster.


1) There has to be a government. As much as it has been joked about, the Queen is not about to chuck the participatory element of the political process simply b/c people bicker. Someone will be appointed to be in charge.

Zadok, it is worth pointing out that there is a government fully in charge at the moment. It is the old one led by Brown. All the Offices of State are legally, constitutionally and even morally fully manned by the 'old regime'. True, no legislation can be done yet but the business of running the country and dealing with the rest of the world is as if nothing has changed - because it actually hasn't changed yet!

Point well taken. Her Majesty always has a government. But the question is, who will be her first minister and lead it?

I don't think comparisons with other countries are really valid. Hung parliaments in the British parliament are quite unusual and power sharing not something any of the parties are used to (even though it happens in Scotland and NI).

It is all very well saying that there must be an agreement and no one wants another election, but how will an agreement happen? As someone pointed out, this is a classic prisoner's dilemma. While a compromise would lead to the best outcome, self interest means that parties would rather fail than concede to the opposition.

We have no written constitution, and partly because of that it would be incredibly unlikely for the Queen to step in or even attempt any influence.

I don't believe Lib Dems can do a deal with Conservatives, their respective memberships would not allow it. A confidence and supply deal might be possible, but we are in uncharted territory here. There is absolutely no advantage for the Lib Dems to agree a deal that does not involve PR.

In fact Labour and Conservatives have reserved some campaign money having anticipated a hung parliament, but the Lib Dems don't have the money. This is the only thing putting pressure on Lib Dems. The two big parties are prepared to go another round, both would like to get a clear mandate instead of a fudge. A fudge is likely to be as unpopular as a new election. So I don't believe a new election is as unpopular as you suggest, a lot of fuss has happened because some people were turned away from polling stations.

I don't think comparisons with other countries are really valid. Hung parliaments in the British parliament are quite unusual and power sharing not something any of the parties are used to

Perhaps it is presumptuous to expect the experience of elsewhere to be applicable here.... a wee bit like comparing apples and oranges -- fruit, yes, but with differences in texture, environment, and tastes.

I know that there is some sharing among various parliamentary jurisdictions through organizations like the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association - comparing notes of what works and what doesn't work. Most speakers of respective assemblies are part of this group. So the borrowing from one place to another may bear some weight, albeit likely behind the scenes if sought at all under the present set of circumstances.

Bob, this may not be obvious to you right now, but hung parliaments are not the end of the world. It will all work out -- may be not the way you or I expect, but rest assured, it will work out. Why? For no other reason than it has to be resolved.

Remember, in politics a week is a long time.

Best wishes for good government at Westminster.



You know, that comes across as very patronising, which is probably not your intention.

I'm quite capable of dealing with the issues, which I may say, I appear to understand better than you do.

Bob, you're right. It is coming across as patronizing. You are there, I'm not. I'll stay quiet.

I'm still hoping to see Britain emerge with a stable government, whatever combination, b/c right now that's what's needed. Things are tense in your neck of the woods and it's not looking rosy for those caught in the cross-hairs.

Stay safe,


Gordo can theoretically try to hold on until the Queen's speech later this month, and then face an ignominious no-confidence vote. That will truly be the end of his career and his reputation, and won't do his party any good either.

actually I think it almost completely the opposite case. Brown knows that either way he personally is not going to be PM in a few days time but he wants to appear statesman-like and then resign rather than be forced out. Don't forget his party have been utterly trounced at the polls. Just because Cameron hasn't got a majority don't think they did poorly. They started from a very low base and have actually gained more seats in one election since 1931. It was a huge win for the Conservatives and all the more reason why they will ultimately form the next government. And Brown will want to go in a respectful and dignified manner.

Gordon Brown: "Mr. Cameron and Mr. Clegg should take as long as they require to reach an agreement." Meanwhile, I'll just be staying in charge here at Number 10. . .



Yes, under parliamentary procedure, an incumbent government stays in government until another is capable of having the confidence of the House or the government is defeated in the House. But circumstances suggest that it is highly risky to try to hold on if you don't have the plurality behind you.

My bet is that no deal will be reached and there will be a new election called. Liberal Democrats will hold out for at least a referendum on PR but neither party will give in to that.

In theory, this is great, but reality may be otherwise. The British public, I suspect, will not have the appetite for another election and would punish any MP or Party that they perceive is responsible for such a turn of events.

As far as the Liberal Democrats holding out for proportional representation, o hum, this is the on-going hue and cry - the swan song so to speak - of every third party within a first-past-the-post and winner-take-all system. Why? Because generally, those on the fringes would love to have a system that makes them permanent king-makers. The experience in Canada has been that once any political party rises in the polls to the place where the scent of power is in the nostrils, it quickly jettisons such a platform. Politics, after all, is the art of the possible, and despite the rhetoric, the first past the post system does offer stability and the accountability of knowing that the many voices will not be hamstrung by the few. Like it or not, it is a system of government that does self-perpetuate and, protests aside, it tends to be the preferred (even if this is unspoken) choice of the electorate.

There are countries and parliamentary systems that do have PR - and they somehow muddle quite nicely through the governing process - but I really can't see it being a serious option for Britain. I may be proved wrong, but I suspect the Mother of Parliaments will stay more or less the same.


For foreigners, it's worth pointing out that the Scottish parliament has PR and the Welsh Assembly has a half-and-half system, so it's not like PR is something that the British intrinsically won't have anything to do with. The sticking point is likely to be that "there's only one way to stay with the current system" whilst there's all sorts of different ways to structure a PR-style electoral system, so votes to stay with the current system will probably exceed the votes for any specific PR system.

... it's worth pointing out that the Scottish parliament has PR and the Welsh Assembly has a half-and-half system...

O right. Devolution has changed things a bit in Britain. I stand corrected. Carry on...

BTW, the "foreigners" wasn't a dig, it was just introducing something someone overseas probably don't see in their news. (Just like I don't know aobut the peculiarities of other nations.)

No digs taken... Technically speaking, since the passing of the Canadian Citizens Act in 1948, I am a foreigner, though we share the same head of state. Go figure!

I'm an odd ball around here in that I like to follow British, Aussie, and American politics as well what's going on in my own country. An Anglophile at heart I guess. I must admit, I plumb forgot about devolution and the types of assemblies adopted by Scotland and Wales. Leave it to the Celtic fringe to begger everything up :-)

So Cameron, a Scot (and here I'm going by surname), is likely to replace Brown, another Scot. It's amazing how many PMs have come from the Celtic periphery despite the overwhelming numbers of English.

One interesting thing is that Labour did very well in Scotland actually taking seats back from the Scottish National Party.

Labour 41 , Lib Dem 11, SNP 6, Con 1.

As the SNP is the majority party in the Scottish parliament this was a massive setback for them. They had hoped to win 20 seats at Westminster - not drop down to 6.

By the looks of the election map, there is a noticeable divide in Scotland between the Highlands (where the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Nationalists prevailed) and the Lowlands (heavily favouring Labour).

What's more, if the choice was up to England alone, the Tories would have won handsomely. Though it must be said, parts of London and the Midlands remain steadfastly Labour friendly.

History continues to play a prime role, geographically and visually, in the shaping of British politics.

In my country we have an expression: ça plus change, ça plus la même chose, "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

C'est la vie, such is life!

Yes, it always has seemed funny that such a small island has such strong regional differences. You really do see them in the election map. Starts to explain why so many battlefields dot the landscape.

In 1964, I took a freighter from Halifax NS to Cardiff Wales and traveled by train to London. The accents seemed to change every six miles. (Some were incomprehensible to my naive Yankee ear.) I soon discovered that the UK isn't a small country -- it's a condensed one. It has distinctive regions and cultures of kinds that the US spreads over six times the area.

It has distinctive regions and cultures of kinds that the US spreads over six times the area.

A land of red states and blue states. Of New England Patriots and Dixie Chicks and California Dreamin' and Texan drawls and Cajun cooking.

Only to be matched by Cockney slang and Yorkshire pudding and Dorset sheep and Staffordshire Pottery and Oxbridge dons and Manchester United Footballers (and every other footballer for that matter).

There is richness in the diversity. Keeps everybody from being the same. Truly a blessing instead of a curse. But watch how it divides.

Yet I must say, mudduck, you sure picked a good port to start your journey ;-)


... the first past the post system does offer stability and the accountability of knowing that the many voices will not be hamstrung by the few.

Actually, I think it offers neither stability nor accountability, and further, in almost all elections, the majority is disenfranchised in many seats. So Party A could receive 30% of the votes, and - in theory - win every seat, and 70% of the popular vote has no representatives.

I mention Preferential Voting (PV) elsewhere, and in only has two variants - exhaustive (where you must number all the candidates in order from 1 to n), or optional (where you do not have to indicate a preference beyond "1", if you do not wish to). If (broadly) electorates in Western democracies divide up into conservative v social democratic camps, then a PV system should return - for example - 55% of the seats to the major party that received 55% of the Two-Party Preferred Vote (ie, when all preferences for all the losing candidates are distributed upwards).

If you have genuine three-corner contests, it makes it exciting on the night, to see who will triumph following the distribution of preferences. The LibDems would need to come higher than third, to triumph. Works well enough.


The Queen will NEVER intervene and 'referee'. And I mean NEVER. It simply would not be done.

That said Her Majesty's private secretary has taken a temporary office in the Cabinet Office to be at hand to make sure that HM is kept 'in the loop'. But that is all.

My money on the fact that the Liberals simply can not stitch up a deal with Labour. They are acting as King maker but from a very vulnerable position. Even if Labour and Liberals got in bed together they would still fall short of a majority so they would need to reach out to the Scottish and Welsh nationalists. The problem is that Cameron will probably get the support of the Unionist parties in Northern Ireland and we must not forget that the Republicans in Northern Ireland who have 5 seats never actually take up their seats in Westminster which does bring the 'winning line' just that much nearer to Cameron.

However even if Labour, Liberals, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Alliance and possible the one Green do a deal to govern it gives them a stonking majority of under 10 seats. Historically the Scottish Nationalists have always abstained in a vote in Westminster if the legislation is only to cover England and Wales and ditto the Welsh Nationalists have abstained on the rare occasion the legislation is for England only. Also, there is no way the people will accept Brown staying on as PM for a second 'unelected' term. In other words a Labour/Liberal/fringe party stitch up would be completely unworkable. It would fall apart before the summer was over.

The only workable solution is either that Tories and Liberals have a formal coalition which could actually last a few years or that Cameron forms a minority government but with overt support from the Liberals not to block the budget and not to call a vote of no confidence or abstain from such if Labour do. That deal would force Brown to resign and Cameron would be summoned to the Palace. What Cameron could then do is spend the next few weeks really getting to grips with the state of the country's finances, really set out in detail the cuts which would be needed and then go cap-in-hand to the electorate again in the early autumn for a really strong mandate to govern. If he then loses he is protected because he knows that if Labour/Liberals then do form a government in six months time they will almost certainly be forced out again when the country and currency implode and the IMF comes in.

We live in interesting times.

The Queen will NEVER intervene and 'referee'. And I mean NEVER. It simply would not be done.

Yikes. Sometimes my communication skills are less than perfect.

The Queen's role in all this has to above politics - everyone knows that including the politicians and the electorate - and for that reason alone nobody is going to risk the public contempt by implicating the Palace.

The benefit of constitutional monarchy is that the head of state can maintain the dignity of the state while leaving the messy business of government to the head of government. There is order and decency in such an practical arrangement. It is one of the reasons why I, for one, am not in any headlong rush to see my country turned into a republic.

I think a lot of what's happening now in Britain is pure posturing. I think you're right HAcland. The Right Honourable Gordon Brown is positioning himself for a graceful exit. And once the summons is issued to the Honourable David Cameron to form a government the day-to-day interplay of political players will take care of itself.

What I really hope for is that the British government will have the wherewithal to make the tough fiscal decisions. It can be done, but having a minority government sure complicates matters.



And once the summons is issued to the Honourable David Cameron to form a government the day-to-day interplay of political players will take care of itself.

Agree, but Cameron is also a 'Right Honourable' too as he is already a Member of the Privy Council by virtue of the fact he is/was leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition.

Sorry, I just can't resist being picky!!


Pick away... Cheers!


I am always amazed at politicians claiming the status of "Honorable" since they are in general the most disreputable pack of scoundrels around. Opinion polls always have them at or near the bottom of trusted and/or respected occupations.

The "honourable" status has to do with the office and not the character of the holder. That said, IMHO, those in high office deserve our support.

Regardless of whether we respect politicians, they are a necessary evil and most of the ones I have encountered, to be quite frank, seek to serve the public out of a genuine desire to do good. Often they do so out of a real sense of calling or duty. When things go wrong they are blamed. When things go right they are blamed. It is often a thankless job.

To quote again Edmund Burke, "All government -- indeed, every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act -- is founded on compromise and barter."

Most of the criticism slanted towards our public leaders comes out of a self serving "they should have done it my way" mentality.

The art of governing is messy because life is messy. And since we abide by the idea that "what affects all should consult all", we have opted for representative and responsible systems of government. The alternative is nasty. And while occasionally the unscrupulous filter through the cracks, we should be thankful that people are willing to stand in the public gaze and offer their services on our behalf.

As Winston Church so wittily surmised: "Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have ever been tried."

First and foremost, this would mean at least a proportional representation referendum ...

I really hope they don't adopt proportional representation (PR) - it has far too many complexities and many weak points, not the least multi-member electorates, and huge scope for jerrymander and other manipulation. How many members per electorate is also critical (and even though it is arbitrary, it is also vital for determining how dominant the two major parties will remain) - the more members per electorate the better for the small parties - but the notion of "your representative" becomes meaningless if there are 5,7,9,11 of them - mostly squabbling.

A far better alternative is the Preferential Voting (PV) single-member system used in Australia for the Lower House federally, and all states but one. It is fairer and simpler, and requires the parties to do vote-sharing deals before the election, and publicise them, not trade afterwards in back-rooms (like now), with no scrutiny, and no chance for the electorate to have a view. Preferential Voting means the least disliked candidate should always win the seat, which is as it should be.

PR is also how you end of with Hitler running the country. It wouldn't take much for the BNP to raise enough cash for a deposit for 600 candidates, they will always get about 3-4% of the vote as a minimum and could potentially end up with a fair few seats. Now imagine a really tight hung parliament exactly as we now have. Would the major parties then have to ask the far-right to help them to get legislation passed and what would they want in return?

but the notion of "your representative" becomes meaningless if there are 5,7,9,11 of them - mostly squabbling.

I agree, Cargill. Proportional representation would led to further headaches. If the Brits cannot sort matters out with three main political parties jockeying for power, how then do they expect any better results if the checkerboard is crowded with every two-bit player?

Reminds me of Edmund Burke's maxim:
Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.

What I want from my member of parliament is good judgment not a mirror. Sometimes governments have to take tough decisions and I would rather see them do what they think is right than to pander to the mood of the mob.

Bravo to the Land Down Under. Leave it to the Aussies to come up with a possible alternative: Preferential Voting.

Source: http://www.examiner.com/x-38220-Orlando-Independent-Examiner~y2010m5d4-O...

Paul Noel, a software engineer currently working for the U.S. Army at Redstone Arsenal, AL, who has expertise in the oil and gas industry, writes in Pure Energy Systems News:

I...think that the situation is getting further and further out of hand. The nature of the crude had changed, indicating that the spill was collapsing the rock structures. If it is collapsing the rock structures, the least that can be said is that the rock is fragmenting and blowing up the tube with the oil. With that going on you have a high pressure abrasive sand blaster working on the kinks in the pipe eroding it causing the very real risk of increasing the leaks.

More than that is the very real risk of causing the casing to become unstable and literally blowing it up the well bringing the hole to totally open condition. Another risk arises because according to reports the crew was cementing the exterior of the casing when this happens. As a result, the well, if this was not properly completed, could begin to blow outside the casing. Another possible scenario is a sea floor collapse. If that happens Katie bar the door.
The deposit is one I have known about since 1988. The deposit is very big. The central pressure in the deposit is 165 to 170 thousand PSI. It contains so much hydrocarbon that you simply cannot imagine it.

The oil industry has knowledge of the deposit more than they admit. The deposit is 100 miles off shore. They are drilling into the edge of the deposit to leak it down gently to be able to produce from the deposit. The deposit is so large that while I have never heard exact numbers it was described to me to be either the largest or the second largest oil deposit ever found. It is mostly a natural gas deposit. The natural gas that could be released is really way beyond the oil in quantity. It is like 10,000 times the oil in the deposit.

It is this deposit that has me reminding people of what the Shell geologist told me about the deposit. This was the quote, "Energy shortage..., Hell! We are afraid of running out of air to burn." The deposit is very large. It covers an area off shore something like 25,000 square miles. Natural Gas and Oil is leaking out of the deposit as far inland as Central Alabama and way over into Florida and even over to Louisiana almost as far as Texas. This is a really massive deposit. Punching holes in the deposit is a really scary event as we are now seeing.

The deposit is one I have known about since 1988. The deposit is very big. The central pressure in the deposit is 165 to 170 thousand PSI. It contains so much hydrocarbon that you simply cannot imagine it.

I really don't know where to begin with steaming piles of BS like this.

I'm with WT. Most understand that WT and I are the last people you would expect to defend the majors but the "facts" this guy throws out are so bizarre they defy debate. The saddest fact is that more of the American public will hear and accept this stupidity then anything the folks at TOD will ever offer.

I'm a petroleum geologist who "knows a little about" brain surgery. Got an operating table open...who's next?

I'm a petroleum geologist who "knows a little about" brain surgery. Got an operating table open...who's next?

What? Are you kidding? I have a quite a list of f**ckers people I would like you to operate on, doc. Heck, I'll even volunteer my services as your anesthesiologist, I know a wee bit about knocking people out, it's been a while and I might be a bit rusty but I'm sure after a few tries I'd be back in top form...

I haven't commented at all on the Gulf situation because it is essentially a single case which makes it useless in the statistical sense.

All the model I do involves an ensemble of events that one can reason about, in terms of averages, etc. That is my basic premise and it works in cross-purposes to try to identify how a single situation will play out.

What is funny is that you can do analyses of problems that you know very little about. That is the beauty of the whole probability and statistics field. You just have to be careful to not jump in somewhere too deep. Know your limitations, and know about the stuff that you don't know.

Web -- Wish I had a database of "near misses" I could let you do your thing to. Perhaps you caught my earlier post about how often the dangerous circumstance for a blow out occur but without a note worthy event.

The base case: there is a 100' thick NG sand at 18,000' that has a reservoir pressure equal to 17.3 ppg mud weight.

Event 1: the zone is drilled with 17.6 ppg MW. NG liberated from the zone circulates up and the mud loggers record it as a Grade 1 show with 500 units of NG. Company reaction: everyone is happy...we got a good discovery.

Event 2: the zone is drilled with 17.2 ppg MW and the mud loggers record 3,000 units and the return MW has been cut to 16.5 ppg. Company is still happy but they stop drilling and raise MW enough to stop the NG flow.

Event 3: The zone is drilled with 18.2 ppg MW and no NG show is seen. But when the pull out of the hole to change drill bit they pull the pipe up too fast and through the resultant suction action they pull a lot of NG into the mud stream. Two possibilities: E3a - they check the mud return tanks and see mud flowing up even though they have the pumps off. This tells them the well is trying to come in so they shut the well in. The gas circulates to the surface and they bleed it off in a flare until the well settles down. E3b: They aren't watching the trip tanks and don't realize they are taking a kick. The hose to the hydrill breaks and mud is shot all over the drill floor. They go to an emergency shut-in (this isn't a BOP activation) and they pull out their "kill sheets' and go through the tense process of getting the well back under control.

I'm going to skip several more escalating scenarios. The final case is the death and destruction seen in the BP blowout. But the point is that the first three+ scenarios are common in offshore ops. What would complicate any statistical analysis is the response possibilities. Event 1 or 2 might not even raise an eyebrow if handled properly. But a wrong move during such events could led to catastrophic failure.

I would bet lunch that if you had a complete and detailed data base of such offshore drilling events you would come up with a very interesting, and perhaps scary, projection of the worse case events. As a pore pressure analyst on Deep Water GOM wells my job was to look for such potential scenarios. It was never a question of would we take a kick but would it happen on my hitch and would I miss an indicator. And if I did would the crew be able to handle it. As I said earlier I'm not trying to sound blasé about such possibilities. During my 35 years I've seen wells I was involved with (but usually not on the well site myself) take serious kicks perhaps 50 to 100 times. But this IS the nature of the beast. I'm not trying to be fatalistic but this is the system they work with in the GOM everyday. Perhaps this should be taken as an indication of the quality of the safety training the hands receive since we seldom see catastrophic blowouts. But obviously the potential is always just around the corner. And always will be IMHO.

I'm sure a great many of the hyperbolic exclamations about the size of this "2nd largest" reservoir ever found have already been cut and pasted into various e-mails that have been distributed to all the Palinistas (and by various routes I'm sure is coming to a Spam folder near you...)

The author, I would say, is a bought and paid for liar funded by some organisation(s) with extremely deep pockets. As soon as I see the same old names such as "Dr A True Ott" appearing on their pages, I know I don't need to read any further.

Further crap on the site tells us that solar panels work at night if you place ordinary coal in front of them and "over-unity" free-energy magnetic engines are powering cars in Alaska.

The Examiner has some pretty crackpot columnists, and PESN is a site for "Free Energy" wackos. They think you can get free energy from "magnet motors" aka Perpetual Motion. I wouldn't even bother responding to what they think, it's BS.

No, they don't think they can get "free energy" from anything. Whether you agree with them or not, misrepresenting what others are working at says little about them and much about you.

What they do believe is that there are ways to use energy that surrounds us, or to access energy that is unrecognized as usable energy. They do not think it comes from nowhere, nor that it is free. Even a magnet motor will wear out, and there is a real energy cost to produce one, for example.

That said, one can make a battery by poking wires in the ground attached to differing types of metal poles. I'd be willing to bet such an "earth battery" is "over unity" over a long enough time span.


Now you are misrepresenting. They DO believe in over-unity, which is physically impossible. Yes there is lots of talk about weird energy sources like ZPE, but it is mostly BS. They call it "Free Energy" instead of the usual term Perpetual Motion, for obvious reasons.

Magnet motors (like gravity wheels) are physically impossible from first principles, so talking about them wearing out is irrelevant.

ETA: PESN is the brainchild of Sterling Allan, who has been promoting magnet motors for years. The site tries to get credibility by talking about "conventional" free energy, but the main focus is on the "Alternative energy" scene, primarily involving junk science stuff like magnet motors.

That said, one can make a battery by poking wires in the ground attached to differing types of metal poles. I'd be willing to bet such an "earth battery" is "over unity" over a long enough time span.


With all due respect, there's no way an "earth" battery can be over unity.

The earth itself doesn't provide any energy, it just acts as a weak electrolyte. The electricity comes from the dis-similar metals. It works the same way a "potato" battery does.

Here's wikipedia's article on a Lemon Battery, same principle, different food.


Of course it's possible to get carried away...


One of the metals gets oxidized (corroded) and the other electrode reduces hydrogen ions to hydrogen gas. To replenish the battery, new metal must be made, which takes more energy than was produced during the battery reaction.

The central pressure in the deposit is 165 to 170 thousand PSI.

"the deposit" must be 165,000 feet deep. the name of "the deposit" wouldn't be abiotica would it ? or maybe koolaidica ? what is the porosity ?

I can't believe the Russians let the pirates go. How about shoot them, and dump them in the ocean? Or sail a thousand miles out to sea, *then* let them go in their little boat. It's not as if there's any Somali government to protest it.

Seems the Russian press agrees with you...

Mikhail Voitenko, editor of the Russian online Marine Bulletin, said the release strained credulity and instead sparked suspicion the pirates had all been killed

A Defense Ministry source told RIA Novosti that they were sent off in a small inflatable boat, having been disarmed and stripped of navigational equipment.

stripped of navigational equipment.

Hey, they can still see the stars at night...

Put yourself in the shoes of the Russian commander. You know there's no civilian authority that will accept custody of the pirates (Kenya recently stopped doing so). You know shoot-and-dump actions would violate international treaties that Russia has signed and ratified. You know such actions would violate field regulations. You know the top brass are not going to let local commanders decide when it's "okay" to violate those regs. No sane commander would throw his career away over a group of pirates.

Put yourself in the shoes of the Russian commander. You know there's no civilian authority that will accept custody of the pirates (Kenya recently stopped doing so). You know shoot-and-dump actions would violate international treaties that Russia has signed and ratified. You know such actions would violate field regulations. You know the top brass are not going to let local commanders decide when it's "okay" to violate those regs. No sane commander would throw his career away over a group of pirates.

So what? Just find a nice little corner of an island somewhere off the coast of Russia, but out of Russian 'legal jurisdictional', send some contractors over to it with requisite concentration camp materials such as razor wire etc, put up a sign outside the newly-built camp with its name 'Guantanamo Bayski' and stick the pirates in the camp to rot with out any legal representation or due process. Job done! And as a bonus if the guards get bored they can entertain themselves by breaking all international conventions on human rights by torturing the f*ck out of them!

After all, the Americans have been doing similar for ages.


I suspect they let the heads go over the port bow and the bodies over the starboard.

Oil Regulator Ceded Oversight to Drillers

The Journal also found that the safety record of U.S. offshore drilling compares unfavorably, in terms of deaths and serious accidents, to other major oil-producing countries. Over the past five years, an offshore oil worker in the U.S. was more than four times as likely to be killed than a worker in European waters, and 23% more likely to sustain an injury, according to International Association of Drilling Contractors data, which is adjusted for man-hours worked. . .

In recent years, oil wells in the U.S. were more likely to go out of control—as was the case with the Deepwater Horizon's blowout last month—than in other countries. According to data from the International Regulators' Forum, a group of offshore regulatory bodies, the U.S. reported five major "loss of well control" incidents in 2007 and 2008, the most recent years for which data are available. The five other countries in the forum that reported the data (U.K., Norway, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands) reported no such incidents. Last year, those five nations had roughly half as much drilling activity as the U.S.

Illinois Budget Woes Come to a Boil

Illinois lawmakers were in disarray Thursday as they groped for stopgap measures to address a $13 billion deficit equaling nearly half of the state's general-fund revenue. . .

Any hopes that the national economic recovery would help the budget discussions were dashed this week when Illinois disclosed that revenue for April —when most citizens pay taxes—fell more than 15% from the same month a year ago, or $501 million, in part because of a $345 million drop in federal aid. Gross personal income-tax receipts, a major revenue source, dropped $103 million, or 8.1%. Many states are likely to report similar disappointments. California officials said this week that April personal income tax-collections lagged projections by 30%. Federal estimates don't bode well for states, either.

As of April 30, federal non-withheld income taxes for April fell 17.6% from the same month a year earlier, said a report Tuesday from the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York.

Illinois lawmakers were in disarray Thursday as they groped for stopgap measures to address a $13 billion deficit equaling nearly half of the state's general-fund revenue. . .

Chicago the next Athens?

I doubt it.

We just don't seem to have the protest culture the Greeks do. They've had civil unrest long before the current crisis. Usually described as the work of "anarchist youths." That was also the description of the people who burned down that bank. They were young men, not retirees protesting cuts in their pensions.

The reaction was also very different from what you would get here. After the bank burned down, killing three employees, the CEO of the bank blamed the government, not the protesters. And bank employees went on strike the next day - basically joining the protesters.

Not to dismiss the protesters, Greece is facing some major problems, but several Euro countries have a bit of a tradition when it comes to street protests, especially when the weather is nice. It only takes a spark to kick off some riots. In France, they call it "Rioting Season".

Unlike the USA with a formal constitution, historically in Europe civil unrest has been about the only way to get TPTB to make any major concessions. We have become a lot more complacent nowadays, which is perhaps why it seems remarkable.

I thought you guys were just saving your bullets..

I doubt it.

We just don't seem to have the protest culture the Greeks do.

Chicago in particular has a rather long history of civil unrest...especially if you take away their beer!


The Lager Beer Riot (4-21-1855)

The growing metropolis of the Midwestern plains had its first riot today. The issue was one of Personal Liberty. That was a polite way of saying the government shouldn't interfere with the people's beer.

Chicago had just elected Dr. Levi Boone as mayor. Boone had run as the candidate of the anti-immigrant American party--better known as the Know Nothings. About half the city was foreign-born, but Boone had won, anyway.

Once in office, Boone went to work restoring his version of American values. All foreign-born policemen were fired. The saloon license fee was raised 600%. The mayor also announced he would enforce the long-ignored law that banned public drinking on Sundays.

Of course I wouldn't want to be responsible for taking away the Greek's ouzo either...

We used to have a lot of protests. The labor movement, the Vietnam war protests in the '60s, etc.

But not any more. The occasional riot, maybe, but you don't see sympathy strikes or blaming the government instead of the protesters if there's violence.

Not so sure of that. Just last week there was a large protest/gathering on the mall about climate change.

We had many protests during thee height of the Gulf War, but these were effectively shunted to other locations than inn the midst of the event being protested.

Not to mention the WTO Seattle protests.

I think it more a manner of the US dissent becoming less violent, media ignoring those protests it wishes-seems to cover the Tea Party tho, and TBTB redirecting the permissible locations
and such.

Maybe the times, they ar a changin' (again)???

Ill. State Reps Ask Gov. For National Guard to Cut Murder Rate

Bringing rifle toting units of the National Guard into the streets of Chicago is not the solution to city's surge in murders, experts said today.


One "4 dead in Ohio" accident and Chicago might just light up like LA did after the "Rodney King incident."

Illinois is currently "handling" its budget problem by not paying its bills. From the WSJ article:

Meanwhile, the state still owes billions of dollars to hospitals, universities, social-service providers and others. Mr. Hynes said the state's backlog of unpaid bills probably will exceed $5.5 billion at the end of June. "Eventually, many providers of essential state services may be unable to continue their operations at current levels, and those vulnerable segments of the population to whom they provide services will suffer the consequences," he wrote.

IMO, this is evidence of my GELM (Government Export Land Model) thesis, to-wit, that before money and services are "exported" out of government, the government's own G&A needs, debt service, etc. are taken care of first, so the money and services actually provided to citizens will tend fall at a rate larger than the decline in government revenue.

IMO, this is evidence of my GELM (Government Export Land Model) thesis, to-wit, that before money and services are "exported" out of government, the government's own G&A needs, debt service, etc. are taken care of first, so the money and services actually provided to citizens will tend fall at a rate larger than the decline in government revenue.

Indeed, although perhaps not so much as one might expect. The detailed accounting will vary from state to state, but direct General Fund expenditures on non-service personnel and general-obligation debt tend to be relatively small in the big picture. There can be differences of opinion. I'm counting, for example, prison guards as part of "services... provided to citizens". And there are exceptions: California has accumulated an enormous amount of debt, far more than most states can legally.

A more important consideration, IMO, is that cuts in the money and services provided to citizens will fall in a non-uniform fashion. When I look at the Illinois list of bills not being paid, they are predominantly services (and mostly medical services) for the poor or disabled, and higher education. This is not surprising. State budgets tend to follow a pattern, and those are the places where there is significant GF spending that is not "protected" in some fashion.

Local government may well be a different matter. For example, school districts tend to have much more debt than most agencies.

The Intersection of GoM Rig Explosion and Climate Change

Senator Graham Calls for Pause in Climate Bill Fight

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who had been collaborating on a compromise climate change and energy bill, on Friday called for putting the legislation on hold following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The legislation he had been writing with Democratic Senator John Kerry and Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman contained incentives for expanding offshore oil drilling. "We now have to deal with a catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which creates new policy and political challenges not envisioned in our original discussions. In light of this, I believe it would be wise to pause the process and reassess where we stand," Graham said in a prepared statement.

Consequences keep rolling in, like oil on the incoming tide ...

Dick Lawrence

Odds of cooking the grandkids
by Stuart Staniford

There is a horrible paper in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (hat-tip Desdemona Despair), which looks at how the limits of human physiology interact with upper-range global warming scenarios. The bottom line conclusion is that there is a small - of order 5% - risk of global warming creating a situation in which a large fraction of the planet was uninhabitable

Thanks for the shout!

Before it was the immigration issue, now it's the oil spill. What excuse will he come up with next? The climate waits for no man, even Senator Graham.

Haven't we putzed around long enough, About 30 years too long, I'd say.

Before it was the immigration issue, now it's the oil spill. What excuse will he come up with next? The climate waits for no man, even Senator Graham.

Much as I agree with you, the politics says otherwise. Graham wasn't interested in the climate provisions, he was interested in what goodies he could get in exchange for his support. I think one of those goodies is offshore drilling, which now looks (politically) unthinkable.

Kerry and the third leg of the trio have vowed to introduce w/o Graham, saying the blowout improves chances for passage.


Gulf Oil Spill: A Symbol Of What Fossil Fuels Do To The Earth Every Day, Say Environmentalists

Many environmentalists say that the wrenching and omnipresent images of filth and death are at last providing Americans with visible, visceral and possibly mobilizing evidence of the effects that fossil fuels are having on our environment every day.


I'll believe that the oil spill has had an impact when I see my SUV driving neighbors rioting in the streets and putting their vehicle on fire. Now that is some carbon I wouldn't mind seeing being emitted.

more likely they'll be setting fire to Prius and their drivers while siphoning their (mostly full) gas tanks...

Economists See China Growth Peaking

BEIJING—A raft of monthly economic data early next week could show that China's growth momentum is starting to peak, some economists say, as the impact of stimulus spending wears off and Beijing steps up efforts to rein in property speculation and other excesses.


Vaclav Smil mentioned something on this a while back too.

The lessons of Japan of 1989 and those of the United States of 1999 might be useful when
judging the seemingly inexorable ascent of China in 2009: no economic trees grow to heaven.


Stocks erase 2010 gain in wild swings is saying nothing that we don't already know.

Global stocks tumbled, while Treasuries rallied after Europe’s debt crisis spurred a market rout yesterday that undermined confidence in financial trading mechanisms. Oil slid 1.5 percent to lead commodities lower.

So far today, the DOW is down slightly 62.87 points or -.6 %. The jitters were eased by the Germans voting to contribute 22.4 billion Euros to the Greek financial bailout. I'm sure many Germans are not happy about supporting the deal but they are hardly in any position to refuse.


We keep moving from one crisis to the next. The band-aids are getting bigger while the cuts are getting deeper.

"High frequency trading: Why the robots must die
The robo-stock market blew a fuse Thursday. Now is Washington’s chance to rewire the joint for good.
The exact causes of Thursday’s stock market short-circuit remain unclear, but the lesson is unmistakable. The regulators and the major exchanges have drifted from their original duty: to run a market that gives small companies a way to raise capital and mom-and-pop stock buyers a way to invest for the future on fair terms.

Instead, they have created a Frankenstein’s monster that churns away for the sake of volume itself, lining the pockets of nimble, technologically savvy hedge funds, giant investment banks and other players – at the expense of market stability."


I see this was discussed at length yesterday...

If you are wondering how to leverage your knowledge of peak oil into vast riches, this article is a must read...

Erik Townsend - Why “Peak Oil” Will Never Lead To $500/bbl Crude Oil

My apologies if this link has already been posted.

Re: Indonesia Eyes Gas Promised to Japan

As Indonesia continues to suffer from a shortage of liquefied natural gas, the government said on Friday that an existing contract to supply LNG from Central Kalimantan to Japanese buyers would likely be revised to enable more fuel to be allocated to the domestic market.

There seems to be a recurring pattern here.

Resource Nationalism -- Indonesia:

Aww, ya beat me to it Jeff! Great minds think alike I guess. ;-D

I have maintained for a while that the current long term contracts being signed for natural gas delivery are doomed to failure because of increasing domestic demand in gas exporting nations. Here we have yet another article demonstrating this to be true.

Indonesia was the world's #1 LNG exporter in 2002. In 2007 they slipped to #3 behind Qatar and Malaysia. For how much longer will they still be exporting?

I'll repeat what I said in an earlier post on Indonesian LNG exports:

I don't think there's any question about where natural gas production and consumption are heading in Indonesia -- it's a story we've already seen before in oil. Here are the two charts from the Energy Export Databrowser. Just look at the shape of the production and consumption curves and the point at which consumption becomes greater than exports. These are patterns we have seen before and pretty much always with the same result. It doesn't take unusual pattern recognition skills to see that Indonesia is headed toward being a natural gas importer in ten years time.

Here are some other posts of mine that talk about long term contracts for LNG or natural gas:

  1. China's "great leap forward for gas"
  2. Turkmenistan Natural Gas

Peak Natural Gas Export won't be that far behind Peak Oil Export given the increasing demand for electricity in the developing world.

Again quoting myself from the Turkmenistan post:

The article on Turkmen gas for China has this gem:

The Chinese National Petroleum Corporation has signed contracts to buy gas for the next thirty years. The volume envisaged is 40 billion cubic metres annually.

Are they high? How can they expect stable delivery of this volume of gas for thirty years? Is the Turkmenistan economy supposed to sit idle for three decades?!

I maintain that energy demand in developing nations, especially those with a burgeoning population, will not stand still -- not even in Turkmenistan.

To finish up lets look at the current #1 and #2 LNG exporters to see if we recognize any familiar patterns there. (For Qatar I'll substitute the entire Gulf Cooperation Council -- ie the Arabian peninsula -- which is where I expect most of the gas will go.)

Production in the GCC nations is still increasing, staying ahead of consumption primarily because of a lack of infrastructure to deliver gas to energy hungry Saudi Arabia. But Malaysian production appears to be topping out. Anyone care to guess what happens next?

The LNG glut will not last long.

- Jon

I'm totally confident the Empire of Japan will be VERY understanding;)

Wait a minute... the spirits are speaking... it'll come to me...

I sense an E? EL something?

ELM - it's coming through loud and clear!

Who knows what it means, but I'm definitely getting


Chinese make great leap forward in auto quality. Oil demand likely to increase even faster as high quality cars become cheaper in China.



German with English sub-titles and long but spot on about the Monetary system.


Thank God we can count upon the Chinese to teach us about the value of oil!

Bloomberg rolled out a new site design last weekend, but weirdly, I only get it on some computers. The direct URLs work, but on different computers, the main pages look very different. Different colors, different design, different content.

I'm little unnerved that that new site has "preview" in all the URLs. Does that mean they are moving toward a paywall?

That would be a big loss. Their energy coverage is great.


I get that site but only because I previously clicked on "Try the new Bloomberg.com". I'm guessing that preview in the URL just means that we are getting a preview of the new site. At the bottom left of the new pages is "Go back to the old version of Bloomberg.com"

I never clicked "try the new Bloomberg." I had their energy page bookmarked, and one day, the URL no longer worked.

Strangely, the identical URL produces an entirely different page, depending on which computer I use. Same Internet connection, same URL, different computers = completely different pages.

I hope you're right about the preview thing, but with so many media sites planning to put up paywalls, I'm a little worried.

I can switch between them on the same PC. The Bloomberg.com cookie "opt" is set to either the value "opt-in" or "opt-out" depending on whether I've opted for the new version or not. This choice is remembered across sessions.

Thanks. I don't see the option to switch the old version. It's probably a script that's being blocked by Firefox. I will investigate.

Economides is an odd guy--basically in the CERA camp regarding oil supplies, but he tends to be an oil price bull.

In any case, the average price of oil for 2010, through April, is $80, and the current price of oil (around $75) exceeds all previous annual oil prices, except for 2008, when we hit $100.

For what it's worth (not much) my prediction is and has been that the average annual oil price in 2010 will exceed the $62 level that we saw in 2009. For 2010 oil prices to average $61 or less, the remaining eight months of 2010 would have to average $52 or less.

Since 1997 we have seen three annual price declines--down to $14 in 1998, down to $26 in 2001, and down to $62 in 2009.

If we follow the same cyclical pattern that we have seen since 1997 (with successive annual price declines approximately doubling), the next annual year over year price decline will bring us down to the $120 range.

Increase in household size could slow economic recovery

The number of people living under one roof is growing for the first time in more than a century, a fallout of the recession that could reduce demand for housing and slow the recovery.

The Census Bureau had projected the average household size would continue to fall to 2.53 this year. Instead, the average is likely to hit 2.63, a small but significant increase because it is a turnabout.

"A funny thing happened on the way to the future" says Arthur C. Nelson, director of the Metropolitan Research Center at the University of Utah. "Household size increased."

The USA could end this decade with up to 4 million excess housing units because of the reversal in household size, he says.

The brother-in-the-law on the couch version of the apocalypse...


Incoming Unemployed Brother-in-laws (and other family members)

But if you have a small farm or garden, you can take an incoming liability, IUB's, and turn them into an asset, productive farm hands.

great idea, except that they often want to be paid a "family business premium" and run the place.

Congratulations on calling that so well.


Man I found a absolutely fantastic article on the MSM.


People who stuck to their plan have fared much better over the past 14 months than those who panicked and sold at the March 2009 bottom, but those folks probably also had an appropriate amount of risk.

Just remember that markets are resilient, but panicky decisions are not

Love it absolutely killer article in every sense of the word.

What? No smiley face?

Alright here it is.

The lack of smiley was part of the joke :)

Sometimes I venture out into MSM land and it simply blows my mind.
I'm certainly a doomer but one of the big reasons is when I periodically stick my head out of the shell I see absolute insanity. If you read the article through you realize the underlying implication is that you better have enough money to play the game. In other words if you decided stock where not for you well perhaps your simply to poor to play at this game your just poor trash.

I'll be going for a job interview in Silly Valley (San Jose) I don't have a lot of interest in it just trying to use it turn it into a real opportunity. The funny part was how the lady that set it up felt like houses had come down a lot and where now "reasonable". I'm from Arkansas and I simply cannot pay 500-600k for a cookie cutter subdivision how no matter how much I make. Maybe I'm old fashioned but I just mentally can't do it and of course it would be at 4X or better ratio to income even then.

Anyway if I end up turning this down like I think I will then I'm pretty much giving up on the traditional stuff.
I love Oregon and will try and stay as long as I can maybe things will work and I can live here who knows.
But if not I'd rather go back and be near family in Arkansas.

For me it actually was not peak oil and the financial crap that has steadily forced me into looking at what I care about but the fact I went through some absolutely horrible crap back when the .com bust happened. I literally don't feel like struggling through it again. Sometimes you just have to throw in the towel and focus on really living life. I of course hoped to do it with more money etc etc but what the hell the fun part is making it in the end esp in a non traditional lifestyle. I'm not so sure any more that money really matters in the end.

By that I mean if your serious about a non traditional life plenty of land around the US for a few thousand and acre and its something I could borrow to buy if I had to. So the intrinsic money requirements there but its damned low probably 10k or so. I want to buy some machine tools but you know what plenty of plans on the internet to build any tool you want say starting with a hand made machine lathe. Learn how to cast and you can make anything.

It would be a hell of a lot of fun also. And of course plenty of super cheap machine tools if your willing and able to pick up full sized ones.

And of course growing a garden etc.

And the Junkyard is your friend the detritus of the 20th century is not going away anytime soon and plenty of stuff can be made with tools and ingenuity.

I'm not saying you don't need some money sure you have to have some however its not clear to me that much over 10k or so really buys you a lot more depending on the cost of land in the area your looking at. And as I said you can find good land to match even a low budget if your willing.

My original goal was to try and get at least 200-300k and then bug out. But the more I've looked at it the more I've become convinced that what matters is getting enough to allow you to make your own stuff. Once you have the skills and the equipment then money does not really matter indeed building and forging all your own tools simply makes it even easier to really live out of the main stream.

A lot to learn yes but surprisingly not all that hard esp as I said using junkyard castoffs.

If you build your house yourself and it say burns down well just build another one BFD.
If you buy all of this and never learn how then even though you can live outside the mainstream you may not be able to recover from a disaster outside the mainstream and have no choice but to rejoin.

Not exactly the mindset amendable to silly valley I suspect.

I'll be going for a job interview in Silly Valley (San Jose) I don't have a lot of interest in it just trying to use it turn it into a real opportunity. The funny part was how the lady that set it up felt like houses had come down a lot and where now "reasonable". I'm from Arkansas and I simply cannot pay 500-600k for a cookie cutter subdivision how no matter how much I make.

Or you could join the hoards on my commute, many of whom are going to work in San Jose. For atoo long commute you can get a house at about half that price. Fortunately I only need to go to Livermore, so my commute is still tolerable.

Well I've reached to point where I've said screw that.

In the end life is too short I'm 42 years old good chance my life is close to half over more or less.

Like I said for a while I figured I needed all this money to exit but in the end I'm not convinced its really needed.

Its one of those things where people that decide to bug out have the money then do it. Others seem to be single and go the bum route if you will super low tech.

My parents have a small farm and I've talked with them about this for a while they retire very soon.
Outside of moving back in with mom and dad and the social issues it gives me a chance to explore other routes to bugging out if you will for your typical American family without a lot of cash.

It gives me the leeway and time to do some R&D and make mistakes with out getting blown out.

Obviously if I think I've got it figured out I want to replicate it again myself AWAY from my parents :)

Then write a book on how to tune out for 10k get super rich and live happily ever after :)

Whats amazing is in my research it turns out that there is a fairly simple yet profound trick if you will.
If you take two reasonably flat stones and grind them with finer and finer polishing agents you can create a perfectly flat surface. With a perfectly flat surface a lot of interesting things can be done. Once you have one you can create another via scraping etc. If the absolutely fastest way to do something is not the most important it seems there are and immense number of ways to do things that are slower but easier.

Really simple thing likes this for example.

Felling a tree with fire.

I suspect many people dimly remember something like this from school.

Well lets think about it of course you can go with the primitive mud/clay sure.
But think about it you can drill small holes in the tree insert pegs and build a support
for a more substantial fire barrier or even a metal skirt perhaps.

A simple open fire is probably not the best approach perhaps some sort of simple ceramic work or even
stone arrangement might make the process more fuel efficient and faster. With some real thought even
perhaps automate chipping away the charcoal. Blast of steam perhaps from a simple tube boiler ?

Maybe maybe not who knows but I could go off and do something nearby while I was cutting trees with fire.
And the simplest method takes no tools some improvements perhaps some very simple tools.

No chainsaw etc.

Once the tree is down you have to figure out how to saw it up.

Fire again ?

Wind ???

The idea is think about every single thing you need to do learn about the various ways to do it.
Consider the pros and cons of the approach.

A surprising number of basically semi automated approaches are possible using some very simple methods and some thought. Most of the time you just need to hang around near by and make sure it keeps going.

Heck perhaps even getting some beavers involved. They seems to be highly intelligent I wonder if you can train or coax a pet beaver to cut a tree down for you might have to put a fence around the tree.

Crazy ?

Perhaps but why the heck not they ?

The idea is to really try and be open to anything consider the problem zen if you will on solutions try a few record the results and go on after a while you get a lot of really interesting results.

Certainly scour the literature for how it was done in the past but don't rule out using modern stuff either.

Sure you can make barrels the old fashioned way wit staves etc. Also however if you can identify thermoplastics easily molding discarded plastics to just the right container for your use makes sense. Although its tough to beat the ubiquitous 5 gallon bucket. Perhaps simply recording talking with a painter to get his buckets used for latex ?

What could I do with say 300 5 gallon buckets ?
Dunno yet perhaps ask my pet beaver :)

A living retaining wall perhaps each bucket full of dirt ?
Vertical garden or pyramid garden ???

Some variant ?

Thats just zenning a bit on 300 5 gallon buckets.

300 5 gallon buckets is 1,500 gallons of rainwater. About 10 times what I can collect right now. But almost all I need for about 3 months of watering.

A five gallon bucket has to many uses. When I was a tropical fish breeder, I once moved almost 500 fish in five gallon buckets, among other things.

Lots of planter pots if you like growing things.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Exactly something I was thinking a pyramid of buckets with the top ones used to collect rain water could make a really neat watering system.

It seems to me that if your thinking about sort of bootstrapping a good life on the side if you will of modern society that mining the detritus left over from the 20th century is and interesting approach.

I was thinking about all the mirrors from cars and homes that are now thrown out plus of course the glass.
Perhaps they can be recycled into solar collectors and green houses.

It just seems to me that "modern" post peak living with no money entails innovative reuse not recycling of the waste of modern society.

Sort of like the modern George Washington Carver but instead of peanuts we have plastic.

Economize Localize Produce may well start at the town dump. Perhaps the way is reuse changing steadily into renewables. Plastics if efficiently and correctly used are not bad but I'd say thermoplastics are the best as they can be re-molded. Polymer concretes are interesting dunno what integration of plastic scrap would do.
Bricks ?

It seems to me that if you define the goal of "modern" life if you will to be having a temperature stable home, hot showers, refrigeration and a TV/Computer then you can focus on solving it. Obviously your probably not going to build the high end electronics but other than that solving how to live comfortably is wide open.

Also of course you have the problem of aesthetics I consider plastic in general ugly five gallon bucket in particular. Perhaps you could sleeve them in split bamboo or some sort of simple basket or wattle ?
Paint perhaps dunno. Can you incorporate the junk if you will in such a way that its artistic and pleasing to the eye ?

Artist work with refuse all the time perhaps simpler versions of some of their ideas can integrate plastics.

Another idea I had was perhaps splitting plastic buckets to make shingles for example. Perhaps you can do that and a bit of heat treatment say and impregnating them with sand might make a very nice long lasting and visually pleasing shingle.

Plumbing hmmm ....

Leanan, oil being down has nothing to do with oil. The dollar is up: