Drumbeat: June 3, 2010

BP comes closer to oil spill containment

BP engineers have successfully cut through a leaking pipe spilling oil into the Gulf of Mexico and hope to proceed soon with capping the well in an effort to contain the hundreds of thousands of litres gushing from it daily.

The cut was made by underwater robots using giant shears, a method BP turned to after efforts to make the cut with a robot-controlled diamond-wire saw failed Wednesday when it became snagged.

U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen called the cut "a significant step forward."

Crews will move immediately to cover the gushing well with a container known as a "top hat." It resembles an inverted funnel with a rubber seal, and is already suspended above the well 1,500 metres below the water's surface, Allen said.

The challenge will be to "fit it as good as you can," he said.

BP: Not prepared for Gulf oil spill; pipe successfully cut

British Petroleum successfully sliced off a pipe in an effort to contain the Gulf oil, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Thursday. But the cut is irregular and placing a cap over the spill will be more challenging, the Associated Press reports.

"We'll have to see when we get the containment cap on it just how effective it is," Allen said. "It will be a test and adapt phase as we move ahead."

BP spill losses hit reinsurers; premiums soar

Reinsures have bumped up prices for offshore energy-related insurance premiums by 50 percent following insurance industry losses of up to $3.5 billion from the BP plc (BP.L) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Moody's Investor Service said in a report on Thursday.

Total insured losses from the worst oil spill in U.S. history are expected to be between $1.4 billion and $3.5 billion, although losses would be significantly higher if BP had purchased liability insurance instead of self-insuring its risks through its captive insurance programme, said Moody's.

Like most larger oil companies BP is self insured for clean up costs, in its case through captive insurer Jupiter Insurance Ltd.

Gulf Coast oil spill could wreck region's tourism and fishing industries

Beyond fishing and tourism, the offshore oil business is likely to feel the effects soon, too, as some exploration halts under a federal moratorium, analysts said, and new safety measures are required.

"It's clearly going to make deep-water exploration more costly," said Edward Morse, a Credit Suisse oil analyst. "My rough estimate is that it will have at most a 10 to 15 percent increase in costs developing crude from deep water."

For gulf regions from Texas to Key West, commercial fishing contributes $1 billion to GDP, tourism and recreation contribute $13 billion, and oil and gas contribute $11 billion, according to figures from Charles Colgan of the National Ocean Economics Program.

Gas prices could dip to $2/MMBtu on mild summer weather: analysts

As the potential arises for a mild summer, Energy Venture Analysis said "there are genuine concerns" that 2010 natural gas prices could revert back to what they were in 2009, or maybe enter the $2.00/MMBtu range.

"As a result, for the second half of 2010 there is a greater potential for lower gas prices," the Arlington, Virginia-based consultant said.

EVA said its chief concern is that "excess supply could persist throughout 2011, which would cause gas prices to revert to the $4.00/MMBtu range" and cause further fuel switching from coal to gas. This concern over continued excess supply is because of "the persistent high gas-directed rig
count and the potential for higher liquefied natural gas imports because of excess global LNG supply."

Can industry be ready for the next Macondo?

There hasn't been a major offshore blowout for many years, and in the meantime oil companies kept creeping out into ever-deeper waters. All the while, it seems not to have crossed anyone's mind that solutions to blowouts that had worked in 500 feet of water might not produce the same outcome at 5,000 feet -- where Macondo is sited. . .

But if industry is having problems halting the flow of crude at what has now become the fairly routine water depth of 5,000 feet, think of the difficulties if a Macondo-like blowout had occurred at today's outer limits of 8,000 or 9,000 feet. Every solution would take longer and cost more, due to the extreme depths. And ironically, more oil might gush out because deep wells often contain more hydrocarbons, which is the lure of industry's enchantment with deeper waters.

Deepwater Horizon spill – BP turns to shears to cap well

Officials said the slick sighted off Florida consisted in part of "tar mats" about 150 meters (500ft) by 600 meters in size.

DOI implements deepwater moratorium with notice to lessees

The notice directs lessees and operators to cease drilling any new deepwater wells, including wellbore sidekick and bypass activities; prohibits the spudding of any new deepwater wells; and puts lessees and operators on notice that, with certain exceptions, the US Minerals Management Service not consider drilling permits for deepwater wells and related activities for 6 months.

Operators which are current drilling any well covered by the notice must proceed to secure the well at the next safe opportunity and take all necessary steps to cease operations and temporarily abandon or close the well until they receive further guidance from the regional supervisor for field operations, according to DOI.

It said that activities necessary to support existing deepwater production may continue, but operators must obtain approval of those activities from DOI. The moratorium does not apply to workovers, completions, abandonments, nonemergency and emergency interventions, and waterflood, gas injection, and disposal well operations, according to a guidance table issued with the order.

Dan Bednarz: Deepwater Horizon and the Addiction to Growth

The Gulf of Mexico oil blowout carries the emotional wallop and learning potential of a near-death experience. First, it certifies that the age of cheap and plentiful oil is over. Second, it reveals that our collective faith in technology to overcome any challenge posed by nature is a dangerous delusion. Third, it may be the event that sets our nation on the path to genuine economic and ecological sustainability.

John Michael Greer: Magical Thinking

The fantasy of technological potency that leads the great majority of Americans, and slightly smaller majorities elsewhere in the industrial world, to think that any imaginable difficulty must have a promptly available technical solution, has been wearing thin for some time. Still, the spectacle of one of the world’s largest oil companies trying to shove chunks of used automobile tire down an undersea gusher in a failed attempt to stanch the flow has enough of a comic opera quality to lead to hard questions about just how well prepared we are to handle the downside of our own technologies once those have been pushed to the wall by the hard limits of geology and physics.

Charles Creson Wood: The Questions You Ask Create The Future You Manifest

The construction of future scenarios is dependent on asking the right questions. . .

Among the old-fashioned and ill-informed questions that we have been asking is this favorite of politicians: "How can we sustain economic growth and expansion?" . . .

Another ill-informed and old-fashioned question that many people are still asking is: "In the wake of energy shortages and high prices, how can we maintain the globalized transportation and distribution system that we currently employ?" . . .

Yet another ill-informed and old-fashioned question many of us have been asking is: "How are we going to replace all the fossil fuel energy we currently use with renewable energy systems?"

Government investigates resource shortages

The British government is making a review of current, ongoing global shortages of vital raw materials.

This will go beyond the notion of peak oil to look at the supply of a series of key natural resources, following rises in commodity prices, food riots and accusations that various countries - particularly China and Japan – are beginning to stockpile important minerals in an attempt to protect their businesses from global competition.

Sharon Astyk: When You Should Not Adapt in Place

So here's my list of when to think seriously about getting out. There will be exceptions in every case - my claim is not "you definitely must go" but "think hard about what you are choosing."

Nuclear Option on Gulf Oil Spill? No Way, U.S. Says

Stephanie Mueller, a spokeswoman for the Energy Department, said that neither Energy Secretary Steven Chu nor anyone else was thinking about a nuclear blast under the gulf. The nuclear option was not — and never had been — on the table, federal officials said.

“It’s crazy,” one senior official said.

Government and private nuclear experts agreed that using a nuclear bomb would be not only risky technically, with unknown and possibly disastrous consequences from radiation, but also unwise geopolitically — it would violate arms treaties that the United States has signed and championed over the decades and do so at a time when President Obama is pushing for global nuclear disarmament.

BP Searches for Another Way to Slice Through Pipe

BP officials were casting about for another way to slice through a leaking riser pipe located a mile underwater after a diamond-studded wire saw operated by a robot got stuck and was later found to be ineffective.

A technician involved in the effort said that the wire saw had cut less than halfway through the riser when it stopped being effective. The technician, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the work, said that it appeared that there was other material in the riser — including, perhaps, some of the objects pumped into the well during the failed “top kill” procedure last week — that was dulling the saw.

Oil Companies Weigh Strategies to Fend Off Tougher Regulations

When the Obama administration imposed new restrictions last week on offshore drilling in the wake of the BP oil spill, officials carved out an exemption that received little public attention: Companies working in shallow waters, unlike deep-sea operators like BP, could again begin drilling for oil and gas.

The decision, which followed a furious appeal from lawmakers allied with the oil industry, represented a surprising victory for the shallow-water drillers in the midst of what could prove the biggest environmental disaster in United States history. And it reflected the intense lobbying efforts at work from all sides, as Congress and the administration consider ways to prevent another drilling disaster off the nation’s coasts.

Anger about oil spill turns to protests of BP

Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at PFGBest Research in Chicago, says it is understandable that people want to get back at BP for the company's role in the worst environmental disaster in a generation. But not filling up at their neighborhood station will not do it, he adds.

"It's a noble effort, but it's really going to hurt the wrong people," Flynn says. BP's 22,400 stations largely are independently owned, family businesses with little connection to the company outside of the sign out front. Even if the boycott slows the sale of BP gasoline at the branded outlets, BP will just sell their gas to no-name stations, he says.

Oil industry goes deep in search of more finds

The only place to find oil is to look in ever-deeper waters," said Professor Cutler Cleveland, director of the Boston University Center for Energy and Environmental Studies.

Studies suggest oil companies are right to focus on deepwater wells. Although they have begun to explore only half of the known deepwater basins, they have already found the equivalent of more than 40 billion barrels of oil. Geoscientists predict that well over 100 billion barrels remain to be found, according to a study by Exxon Mobil.

Who’s less popular than BP right now?

Unsurprisingly, the company’s ‘ethical ranking’ has taken a big tumble in the past month, according to Covalence, which tracks corporate reputation: . . .

So another five companies still come out lower, amongst BP’s sector.

And who’s right at the bottom?

That would be Halliburton, at 580th out of 581 companies, across all sectors.

UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet

A global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change, a UN report said today.

As the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products are unsustainable, says the report from United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) international panel of sustainable resource management.

Struggle for Central Asian energy riches

Moscow has had agreements with Beijing to build a gas pipeline into China since 2002, but the two sides have been haggling ever since over the price of the gas supplies.

But some analysts question whether Russia will have sufficient reserves to supply the gas pipeline, given the expected decline in its production over the next 20 years and the lack of investment in new fields since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

"It [the pipeline to China] will have to tap reserves already going to Europe," says Mikhail Kroutikhin.

"It is not economic, but Prime Minister Putin wants it to be built."

Bumper Kenya maize harvest contaminated by toxins

Health experts say the maize contained high levels of lethal aflatoxins, which have killed at least one child.

The government has pledged to buy and destroy the contaminated maize.

The crop was harvested in the drought- and famine-prone Eastern Province and went bad because farmers lacked the appropriate storage facilities.

Warren Buffett defends credit rating agencies

Giving testimony in New York, Mr Buffett said the agencies "made the wrong call," but added that so did everyone else, including himself.

He said the US had been in "mass delusion" for not recognising that the housing market had overheated.

"The entire American public was caught up in a belief that housing prices could not fall dramatically," said Mr Buffett.

He added that if he had known how far the US housing market would collapse, he would have sold his investment firm's stake in Moody's, which currently stands at 13%.

Sustainability: Choices, choices, choices

A group of experts convened under a UN umbrella has been taking a look at what aspects of our global society are the least sustainable; which things are depleting natural resources fastest, which are causing the most environmental damage, and which are the biggest threats to the prosperity of future generations.

It's bad news, I'm afraid, because the biggest culprits are the things we need most fundamentally: food and energy.

When it comes to the Earth's self-replenishing resources, wood and fish are the ones we are using least sustainably.

Farming, meanwhile, is fingered as the principal reason why natural habitat is being lost for so many plants and animals, with high consumption of meat - relatively heavy on land and water use - flagged up as a particularly unsustainable aspect of western diets.

More than half of the crops we grow are used to feed farm animals.

Obama pushes Kerry’s climate bill

“Pittsburgh, I want you to know, the votes may not be there right now, but I intend to find them in the coming months,” Obama said. “I will make the case for a clean energy future wherever I can, and I will work with anyone to get this done, and we will get it done. The next generation will not be held hostage to energy sources from the last century. We are not going to move backwards, we are going to move forward.”

“Without a major change in our energy policy, our dependence on oil means that we will continue to send billions of dollars of our hard-earned wealth to other countries every month – including countries in dangerous and unstable regions,” Obama said. “In other words, our continued dependence on fossil fuels will jeopardize our national security. It will smother our planet. And it will continue to put our economy and our environment at risk.”

Electric Car Bills in Congress Seen as Route to Oil Independence

WASHINGTON—Seven Democratic and Republican legislators are proposing a prescription for the country's oil addiction—dangling federal subsidies to prod drivers from the pump to the plug.

Though there are minor variations between them, both pieces of legislation aim to electrify half of all cars and trucks by 2030. How to start? First, by stirring up bait that's a mix of grants, rebates and other incentives to lure communities into competing for a chance to incubate the plug-in technology that will put 700,000 electric vehicles on the road within six years.

BMW Test Prompts Electric-Car Questions

DETROIT—Limited numbers of battery-powered cars are expected to hit American roads over the next 12 months, but a test of one electric vehicle is raising questions about how far drivers will be able to go before needing a recharge.

For the past year, BMW AG has leased about 300 electric Mini Cooper compacts to regular consumers in the New York metro area, New Jersey and Southern California. In a survey by BMW and in interviews, participants said they have been getting about 100 miles, or 161 kilometers, per charge—about a third fewer than BMW had expected.

Austin chosen to receive free electric car charging stations

Austin has been named as one of nine cities nationwide set to benefit from a new program that will distribute free electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

The ChargePoint America program, sponsored by California based Coulomb Technologies, will offer both public and home-based charging stations to individuals and businesses. In addition to Austin, the program is being offered in Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Francisco, California and Redmond Washington as well as Detroit, New York, Washington DC and Orlando, Florida. The stations will work with the new electric versions of the Ford Focus, Chevy Volt and Smart’s ForTwo electric vehicles.

Production Costs Climb for Canadian Oil Sands, Companies Say

June 2 (Bloomberg) -- The financial crisis and the global recession had limited effect on efforts to lower production costs for Canadian oil sands, companies including Statoil ASA and Canadian Oil Sands Trust said.

“Both operating expenditures and maintenance capital have been on a rising trend and when oil prices accelerate, that trend accelerates along with it and we got a very good taste of that in the last five years,” Marcel Coutu, chief executive officer of Canadian Oil Sands said today at an Oslo conference. “When oil prices crash, those operating costs unfortunately lag and it takes some time for them to come down.”

The Norwegian company estimates break-even prices for projects using steam assisted gravity drainage technology at $65 to $75 a barrel, Skinner said. Cost for new supply is at $60 to $80 a barrel, depending on whether it’s from drilling or mining, Greg Stringham, vice president for oil sands at the petroleum association, said at the conference.

Oil surges to near $74 after API stock draw report

(Reuters) - Oil prices jumped on Thursday after an industry group report said U.S. crude inventories fell more than expected last week.

By 0123 GMT, U.S. crude for July was up 93 cents a barrel at $73.79, while Brent crude for July delivery was up 90 cents a barrel at $74.65, after rising earlier as high as $74.81.

Call to ban timber logged illegally

STRONG Australian laws should be established to stop imports of illegally logged timber, often connected with organised crime and in some cases the Taliban, US campaigners and politicians are urging.

In an interview with The Age, EIA forests campaign director Andrea Johnson in Washington said that illegal timber entered Australia through China as decking and flooring and through Vietnam and Malaysia as furniture.

It is estimated that 10 per cent of the timber imported into Australia comes from illegally logged sources.

Make Bikes in the U.S., or Go Abroad to Cut Costs?

A SMALL bicycle company for big riders, Super Sized Cycles, manufactures and adapts bicycles for overweight riders who are too big for conventional bikes. The five-year-old business, which is based in Vermont, had sales last year of $104,000.

Biking culture gets a makeover

(Reuters) - At a Dutch Bike shop, you can forget about spandex, helmets, pedal clips or any of the other typical biking paraphernalia. The Seattle, Washington-based retailer wants to take customers - mostly baby boomers - back to the carefree days of childhood, when riding a bike was full of whimsy.

High speed rails expected in 2030

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - It will be a matter of decades, but subsequent generations will eventually enjoy high speed rail travel from Springfield to places like New York City, New Haven and Boston.

If the Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont Departments of Transportation have their way, you may be commuting long-distance to work in twenty years.

Baltic Dry Index Says ‘Buy’ Shipping, Commodities: Pro (Video)

The Baltic Dry Shipping Index, a leading economic indicator used by market insiders to gauge global demand for dry commodities, surged over 20 percent to trade at the highest level in six months.

"And once you got past the iron ore negotiations back in March and April, you saw a surge in activity of iron ore heading towards China such that it created quite a bit of busy ships right now."

But Mavrinac cautioned that the indicator doesn't necessarily measure broad-based global economic strength, as the surge is primarily driven by China.

Pending home sales at 6-month high

(Reuters) - Pending home sales hit a six-month high in April, data showed on Wednesday, but falling demand for home loans pointed to ebbing activity in the vital housing market due to the expiration of a popular tax credit for buyers.

China clean energy goal will require hydro projects: official

(Reuters) - China will not achieve its clean energy development targets for 2020 unless it starts building big hydropower projects soon, China's top energy official said, supporting industry calls for fast project approvals.

"Considering current hydropower capacity, projects under construction, and building cycles, China needs to start building around 120 gigawatts (GW) of hydropower projects in the six years through 2015," said Zhang, who is also a deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, which is in charge of approving large projects.

China has 197 GW of hydropower generating capacity, or 23 percent of its total installation. Coal is the source of more than three quarters of electricity.

Some cost info on algae in this article:

Also, Robert Rapier is quoted (towards the bottom)


The Bloomberg article is long and complicated. About current oil from algae prices, it says:

Today’s estimates range from $400 to $600 to produce one barrel of algae oil.

Regarding the process, it says

Although advocates say that most algae need only sunlight, carbon dioxide and water -- including saltwater -- to grow, the reality is more complicated. Algae are less productive below 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit). In the heat, the organisms require constant refreshing. Most ponds have electric paddles to circulate the algae-filled water.

“Open ponds need a lot of water, a lot of electricity,” says Robert Rapier, chief technology officer at Kamuela, Hawaii- based Mercia International, a bioengineering holding company. “Algae are expensive to produce.”

But there are some who are optimistic. Jonathan Wolfson of Solzyme is quoted:

“We’ve produced tens of thousands of gallons, and by the end of 2010, I hope I can say we’ve produced hundreds of thousands,” Wolfson, 39, says. “In the next two years, we should get the cost down to the $60 to $80-a-barrel range.”

At that price, Solazyme’s algae fuel would compete with $80-a-barrel oil.

I figured that TOD readers can handle more than soundbites. I agree though that the article is not very tightly written. I'll try to recap next time...



Craig Venter, considered to be the father of genomics and the founder of synthetic biology startup Synthetic Genomics, said there’s a fundamental problem with algae fuel at the Wall Street Journal’s Eco:nomics conference on Thursday: in his view if algae fuel companies can’t generate billions of gallons of fuel then people are “just playing” and “wasting investors money.”

In other words the algae companies need to be able to reach the scale at which the oil companies currently operate to be competitive. “That’s the real bugaboo for everybody,” said Venter. To address that hurdle, last July Synthetic Genomics announced that it was partnering with ExxonMobil on a $600 million algae biofuels program.

Yeah, but even Craig and ExxonMobil aren't saying much about where they are going to get the water and nutrients to grow their new synthetic "Super calorie fragile mystic ex pee algae doe shit"...

Perhaps they should consult Mary Poppins. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4b-Z0SSyUcw

Are you getting any work done, or are you just rehearsing for your HBO special? That's my way of saying that was really funny! Thanks.

( I just had to 'splain to the fire department what my Solar hot-air (ahem!)'Prototype' up on the roof was all about. I've got to make it a lot better looking.. but it works great!) http://s831.photobucket.com/albums/zz240/Ingto83/?action=view&current=IM...

I like the concept but that would not fly in Florida, well, actually it would... because it wouldn't pass the 150 mph wind load tests..

As for my HBO special I plan on recording it live while I talk to my customers on the phone. I had literally just finished quoting a customer for some LED lights in a building he wants to LEED certify when I read the algae comments. As to how I managed to make a connection between Synthetic Genomics and Mary Poppins while sober is something I'm not quite sure I understand myself ;^)

Somehow they are going to go from 400-600 a barrel to 60-80? That must be due to an increase in scale of operation I'm presuming.

Wouldn't that be weird to be driving down the road and suddenly you come across a new kind of gas station - one that says ALGAE FUEL, The Alternative to Fossil Fuels. It would be so successful, the price would skyrocket! Hmm, but that's what we don't want to happen. Well, maybe it would then need to be scaled up even more.

However, if we get another pro oil company prez, it could get shelved. Hope that doesn't happen.

Nuclear option...No Way...


You can feel all warm and fuzzy in September as the relief wells are experiencing their routine multi-week delays. Some people's reaction to the word "nuclear" is simply rabid. This applies to nuclear power plants in particular. Endless harping about Chernobyl as if it has any relevance will make sure that in the UK, for example, there will be an electricity crisis in 2020. They will have dithered replacing their aging reactors and hoped that natural gas would be cheap and plentiful.

Dissident, you are mixing apples and oranges here. The debate over nuclear power is totally different than the debate over nuclear bombs being used to stop a runaway oil spill.

The nuclear option is off the table because it would violate the nuclear test ban treaties, among other reasons. There is also the case of the radiation poisoning it would cause in all the ocean life in the Gulf. The cure, in this case, would likely be much worse than the disease.

Ron P.

Please, the whole "radiation poisoning" is a total crock. The LOW YIELD device is detonated at roughly the depth the relief wells are targeting to intercept the blowout well. Thousands of feet deep in *rock*. Not a surface detonation at the bottom of the Gulf which would have *zero* ability to close off the well.

So far all of the hysteria about this legitimate engineering solution has been based on idiotic misconceptions about what is involved. Just like everyone is an instant climate expert, everyone seems to think that the nuclear solution is some simple-minded surface detonation.

BTW, where's the concern for the ACTUAL poisoning from the thousands of varieties of carcinogens being spewed by the leak into the Gulf that will bio-accumulate and and be with us for decades.

Leaving aside your obnoxious "total crock", "hysteria", "idiotic misconceptions" characterizations, a valid point is that to position such a device to get the job done (a job that needs to be done at pressures and conditions it was never designed for and never tested under) would take as long as drilling the relief wells.

BTW, I think there is ample concern for what is going on.

You should think about controlling your rhetoric if you want to make your point. You are the one coming across as hysterical.

Indeed, the explosion would occur under approximately 13,000 feet of sedimentary rock, and and an additional 5,000 feet of water. While some of the concerns people are expressing are not relevant in that situation, there are a number of legitimate unknowns about such a process:

  • Are there suitable casings that will withstand the temperature and pressure so that the bomb can be delivered to the bottom of the relief well?
  • Given the exact depth at which it occurs, and the power of the explosion, it may or may not fracture the cap rock which currently contains the oil and gas. Is such fracturing likely? Does it matter?
  • The roof of the blast cavity will fracture and collapse, a process which continues upwards for some distance, possibly as far as the surface (see, for example, pictures of subsidence craters from underground nuclear tests. TTBOMK, the US has not conducted any previous tests in thick sedimentary layers typical of those in the Gulf. The vertical extent of the fractured rock will be an educated guess.
  • The first relief well was started on May 2, and by June 1 had reached about 12,000 feet. Linear progress slows as depth increases, and while it is not necessary to hit the target well, you still have to get close. To insure the target well is within the melt cavity of a 20 kiloton device, probably within 15 feet or so. How much time will be saved compared to completing a relief well in the normal fashion?

It's simply dumb.

- The Department of Energy doesn't stock 'oil well stopper nuclear explosives' in its warehouse. A custom unit would have to be designed. How many monrhs (years)?

- Since blowing 'in' an oil well is a lot different from blasting apart a city, what design standard would apply? Aside from some crude experiments in the USSR, nobody has actually designed an effective oil well stopper.

- The final design would have to be assembled. Would it pass non- proliferation/Start treaty muster? How long would making this device take? Years?

- Since the new device would be a 'one off' it would have to be tested somehow, to determine yield and effectiveness. How would this be accomplished as the US has foresworn nuclear device testing?

- How long would it take to drill the well the n- stopper would occupy? (The relief wells would be finished long before the n- stopper's well, perhaps before it started.)

- What if it didn't work?

- What would the effects be of a nuclear explosion on all the other oil wells in the Gulf? If it plugged the one leak and started ten or fifteen other leaks, would that be a positive outcome? What if the blast made the original blowout worse?

- What about the moral hazard issue? Wouldn't the cry be to have lots of well- killers on 'standby' so that other blowouts can be cured with nukes? Wouldn't the 'insurance effect' (similar to the blow out preventer effect that allows drillers to ignore basic protocols like watching mud flows) allow more sloppy drilling practices? After all, 'we have nukes, now, right?'


- Since when is the US going to war - literally - with nature? Isn't it bad enough to oil the Gulf (and the Atlantic/Caribbean)? Do we need to nuke it too?

The societal disorder - including massive auto consumptive waste - and the effects of that disorder on our cultural and finance environments is a mostly a matter of expedients reaching their half- lives. All those easy solutions - such as importing more oil to replace depleting domestic reserves, floating the currency, (organizing the euro compact), blowing debt bubbles, deregulating industries, exporting expensive labor (that competes with expensive energy while exporting customers at the same time), importing cheap labor, mercantilism, sovereign credit expansion and stimulus - have run their course. As the 'Easy Solution Effect' diminishes, the long- postponed consequences are all starting to cave in on us.

There is no easy solution to this oil spill or the other problems, no tech - 'quick fix'. The well will have to be plugged the old- fashioned way, by hard work and effort. Afterward, the entire process of deepwater drilling and production will be examined. The industry will suffer the old- fashioned way by shedding more jobs and companies failing. New deepwater production will be a lot different from what has been taking place so far.

Maybe what will happen is a start for people getting out of their automobiles. That is really the 'easy solution'. No more cars and the demand for crude is inhospitable places declines dramatically. At the same time the real economy improves.

Nuke the world or drive a car? Fits in with 'have a job or drive a car?' and 'eat or drive a car?' Some of the other choices gotten wrong so far.

Lets look at these points:

- The Department of Energy doesn't stock 'oil well stopper nuclear explosives' in its warehouse. A custom unit would have to be designed. How many monrhs (years)?

- Since blowing 'in' an oil well is a lot different from blasting apart a city, what design standard would apply? Aside from some crude experiments in the USSR, nobody has actually designed an effective oil well stopper.

- The final design would have to be assembled. Would it pass non- proliferation/Start treaty muster? How long would making this device take? Years?

Check. Check. Checkmate.

- Since the new device would be a 'one off' it would have to be tested somehow, to determine yield and effectiveness. How would this be accomplished as the US has foresworn nuclear device testing?
- What would the effects be of a nuclear explosion on all the other oil wells in the Gulf? If it plugged the one leak and started ten or fifteen other leaks, would that be a positive outcome? What if the blast made the original blowout worse?

How about scale and distance. A small Nuke isn't really very powerful (unless you put it in a crowded city). The effects of the shock die off very rapidly. Remember this hypothetical device is under at least ten times more rock then the tests in Nevada. Its not going to have much effect on the surface. Now it might not stop the flow. But, we'll never know since we will have the relief wells drilled long before we could even debate the merits of the technique.

- How long would it take to drill the well the n- stopper would occupy? (The relief wells would be finished long before the n- stopper's well, perhaps before it started.)

- What if it didn't work?

Check. Uhh, too long.
Very low probability it wouldn't work, Nukes aren't exactly rocket science. The US had the confidence to drop a totally untested design over Hiroshima. (The fatman plutonium bomb that was tested in Almogordo was the same design as the Nakasaki bomb). General Groves clearly had more confidence in the untested Little Boy Bomb, then the tested fatman design. And they didn't even had computers, nor several decades of experiences building and testing nukes.

- Since when is the US going to war - literally - with nature? Isn't it bad enough to oil the Gulf (and the Atlantic/Caribbean)? Do we need to nuke it too?

Seems to me the past two hundred years could be descibed as a war against nature. Again the deep low yield Nuke is only a pin prick compared to our daily assault against nature.

I could not agree more with your comment. Demonstrators are picketing outside BP stations....but where are the people who stand up and say, "I`ve had it with cars, I`M dumping mine at the junkyard"....and do such a thing?? Where are the people who will call attention to the connection between driving and the oil spill and force major changes in zoning laws/public transportation/raising gas taxes. In short, where are the people with real guts to face the truth of this problem?

***That America has 30% of the world`s automobiles but only 5% of its population is...NOTHING to be proud of anymore, now that statistic is a huge liability, a millstone around the collective neck of the country. Where are the activists pointing out this weird outlier status of the US and trying to change the situation?

I have no car...I bike 6km to work everyday and 6km home...I`m in my 40s I`m just fit in an ordinary way, and this kind of distance is no problem for me. My bike is just an ordinary 12 year old Miyata 3-speed. Why cannot the USA start a huge bike movement, designating halves of roadways as "bike only" to separate cars and bikes and give bicyclists a safe space? One reason I can bike to work safely is that I do not live in the USA anymore! The American govt should step in an ENSURE that all roads are BIKE-FRIENDLY (and pedestrian friendly) even if it means that the cars are left with very tiny narrow spaces.

We've gone over this with you many times now, Japan has a very high rate of car ownership. 6KM is a very short distance and most people live much farther from work than that.

.. quid pro quo.. 'We've' gone over this with you as well.

- "most people" are also in for a rude surprise.

The REASON they set up homes so far from their jobs, friends, family, shops.. is because cheap fuel allowed it. There's nothing in the American Manifesto that guarantees us the right to have an affordable 75 mile commute.


There is hope. You will like the Livable Streets movement. Check out:


Ron, sgage, Mccain, abd Steve: Your insight is commendable.

Steve: I could believe that you work for DOE or the applicable OSD office or one of the applicable national labs...

Dissident and Enemy of the State: Judging by your unfounded cheer-leading-type comments and emotional language, I perceive that you do not work in the special weapons complex, nor are you even proficient lay student of the subject of special weapons.

Stop erroneously trying to conflate civilian nuclear power generation with nuclear weaponry. Apples and Oranges indeed.

Go back and carefully read and attempt to understand Steve's points.

No amount of whining, cheer-leading,repetition,or name-calling will change the facts of the matter, which contra-indicates the use of nuclear explosive devices for this application.

Chernobyl is the wrong reference..

instead look up Underwater and Underground testing.. http://science.howstuffworks.com/nuclear-test.htm

Underwater testing carries a lot of the same risks at atmospheric testing, since the explosion rises well out of the water. But the amount of radioactive fallout in the atmosphere is decreased because a good portion of it is contained in the water. This causes its own problems, of course.

Photo courtesy Los Alamos National Laboratory, Atomic Archive
90-foot (30-meter) underwater test at Bikini Atoll, central Pacific, 1946

While effects of underwater testing on sea life have been surprisingly absent from most literature, environmental groups document complete destruction of coral reefs and death and contamination of other marine life as resulting from these tests. By extension, fishing villages and their seafood-subsisting populations can be severely affected by underwater nuclear tests conducted hundreds miles from their shores.

(My Italics.. big surprise, that.)

The actual 'FEAR' might be irrational.. while the reasons for it can be entirely concrete.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes certain people to pop up out of their foxholes after the BP leaking well is capped and the oil dissipates/is cleaned up...pop up to start their relentless drumbeat advocating for the U.S. to drill everywhere, drill now, baby!


We added a new server yesterday, so hopefully response times are again reasonable.

I appreciate everyone's patience in putting up with the slow service times recently. The site wasn't quite up to handling all the traffic.

So much better!
As many before me have said - thank you all for everything you're doing. It's nice to know there's a place we can go and not be bombarded with mis-information and the people shouting "nuke it" without really having a clue what they're talking about.

Are you kids having fun yet? Fame ain't all it's cracked up to be.
I'm so proud of y'all.

Group hug.

My name is Mike da Rat, and I am an oilcoholic

Thanks. The new server is working great. No more watching wallpaper dry, bread toast or water build to a boil.

The last few days were a problem for those of us trying to put up posts. I lost a group of articles I thought were ready to put into Drumbeat yesterday. And the waits, when I didn't lose things, seemed interminable. We are very happy for the improvement!

Looks like the EIA is creeping ever so close to predicting peak oil.

EIA: Hard Core Peak Oil Forecast

In the case of the EIA, the forecast changes most dramatically here. For the remainder of the decade, even though China would be expected to hit its stride for increased oil demand, the EIA sees no year in which liquids production will increase by even 1%. Petroleum liquids supply increases by an average of 0.6% per year from 2011 to 2020. In other words, the EIA is expecting the oil supply to be essentially flat for the rest of the decade. The supply will creep up from 86 mbpd today to approximately 92 mbpd to 2020, but that is not much growth, and indeed, is about the same as current global liquids production capacity. Moreover, it represents a reduction of nearly 4 mbpd from last year's forecast for 2020. On paper, the output of China has disappeared over the course of the last year.

The increase the EIA is predicting, .6 percent per year, is equal to their predicted increase in biofuels and oil sands. What most people call conventional oil production will be flat. (I personally like to call all fossil petroleum "conventional". Only non fossil oil is non conventional, like biofuels, to my way way of thinking.)

Ron P.

Interesting report Ron. The shift by the EIA in their projections would seem like a big embarrasment to them, but they didn't seem to skip a beat, probably hoping most people will not notice the massive shift in future outlook.

.6 per year - wow! That's negligible.

When even the EIA is predicting flat production out the decade, it's beyond ominous. Those hoping for extra innings are leaving the ballpark. Factor in expected population increase and...

let's see here. 0.6% growth in energy per year plus 1.1% growth in population per year equals happy faces everywhere? in ten years?
there be something foul in the state of denmark methinkith.

Eyeballing the chart, the 2007 prediction vs. 2009 actual was a little over 4% high -- 2% per year. The 2008 prediction was about 3% higher than the 2009 actual.

(The EIA is continuing a long tradition of wildly over-estimating future energy consumption. But I digress.)

If the over-estimation is consistent, then their 2020 estimate of 92 MMBPD would be 22% to 34% over the actual. Split the difference at 28%, and I get a corrected 2020 prediction of 72 MMBPD.

Hmmm... that sounds like some other predictions I have heard... now where was that? ;-)

I think Commercial Real Estate is likely to emerge as an area with huge problems that banks and others aren't yet recognizing, thanks to lax accounting rules. According to the WSJ:

Looking for Lending

Compared to peak prices in October 2007, commercial property values are down 42%, according to Moody's Investors Service Inc. Price index reports compiled by Moody's and Real Capital Analytics Inc. show that as of March 2010, the cost of industrial and office space fell 32% in the last two years. Retail space also plummeted 28%.

Default rates on commercial real estate loans are up from less than 1% in the 2004 to 2007 period, to 4.2% recently, and is expected to rise farther. So lenders are being more strict now.

But the tight credit environment is making it difficult for entrepreneurs to secure those loans. "What is so different today versus 2006 is the underwriting scrutiny," says Mr. Scheidt. "It's not unusual for [the loan process] to take an additional 30 to 60 days."

Calculated Risk has been writing about the financial problems that commercial real estate is going to cause for well over a year. One of his recent concerns, which has also appeared in the mainstream press, is the increasing use of strategic default.

Where residential mortgage problems mostly hit the big nation-wide banks, he thinks CRE problems are going to hit the regional banks hard. Such banks could not compete with the kinds of loans being offered by the national firms, so loaded up on CRE instead.

Here's something pretty scary: Most toys in Mongolia are found to be toxic.

Think before you buy toys for toddlers as even the branded plastic toys sold in the Mongolian market can cause asthma, lung problems and reproductive problems in children due to high toxic levels.

Professional inspection organizations last week found that imported toys being sold at almost all shops and markets contained toxic chemicals after testing a wide range of children’s products.

More than ten different items, mainly balls and stuffed toys, sampled from public kindergartens in both Ulaanbaatar and rural provincial centers were found by Korea Testing & Research Institute as contaminated with heavy toxic metals of lead and cadmium, main components of the paint used on children’s toys.


I assume all these toxic toys come from China, probably more or less the same factories that supply western shops as well. Isn't it crazy how good we are at poisoning ourselves and our children?

For some reason people have no fear of chemicals. A chemical compound does not have to be designed to be harmful to be toxic. By default most hydrocarbons will have detrimental effects. Organic body chemistry did not evolve to be immune to various mimics and reaction chain disruptors.

So crappy plastic toys slapped together by hacks will be poison. Design effort needs to be made to ensure some safety.

I guess there hasn't been enough propaganda to teach the masses about the horrors of chemicals unlike with nuclear radiation (with a few exceptions like mustard gas). So we have people going insane about nuclear power plants in their back yards while they accept petrochemical factories and coal power plants.

Great special on CNN yesterday on a town in Louisiana that is polluted with nearby chemical plants. Much of that area is a toxic soup.

Nuclear is a potential problem; coal is an ongoing problem. While it seems theoretically possible that a nuclear plant could result in a catastrophe, coal, and to a certain extent, oil, are ongoing assaults to the environment, which cumulatively, have resulted in extreme damage.

I don't know where we will put all the nuclear waste. However, I don't know where we are supposed to put all the coal waste and spilled oil either. And this does not even consider carbon dioxide emissions.

Despite the oil gusher, leaders in Louisiana don't want to give up drilling, even deep water. At the end of the day, the chemical and oil industries provide a lot more jobs than the fishing industry. Maybe after the entire gulf is destroyed, we can just drill, baby, drill because there will be nothing left to destroy.

I have not heard one spokesperson from that area talk about moving to a renewable economy. Not even lip service. Nice little hell hole they have created down there.

Despite the oil gusher, leaders in Louisiana don't want to give up drilling, even deep water. At the end of the day, the chemical and oil industries provide a lot more jobs than the fishing industry. Maybe after the entire gulf is destroyed, we can just drill, baby, drill because there will be nothing left to destroy.

This is a rare case where I agree with these leaders. On nearly any other issue, I consider these folks to be implacable enemies. But every now and then they are right (stopped clocks anyone).
Now obviously deep water does need to be seriously re-evaluated. Its apparent it is much more hazardous than I think any of us thought a couple of months ago. But, future decisions need to be based upon a hardnosed evaluation of risk to benefit. A short term moratorium, while we figure out how to insure that the wells that are approved are sufficiently safe seems to be a good first step. Obviously, Macondo prospect drilled with the sloppy BP management of two months ago will not come close to cutting it. Nevertheless the political backlash that could happen when the PO crunch gets serious, and we've restricted offshore or deep water could be really nasty.


For some reason people have no fear of chemicals.

I agree with what you wrote dissident.

However (although I know this is picky) but what you mean is man made chemicals. My dinner is chemicals. My body is chemicals. The thing is to learn which chemicals (man made, or "natural") are bad for you and which are not (and what quantities do what damage). Tomato chemicals are not bad, tomato leaves are bad (although the local deer seem to be able to eat them). A little salt is needed, a lot is bad and a big whopping lot will kill you. A bit of bug spray on my shoes and socks exposes me to man made chemicals that are negative, but Lyme's disease can be devastating if not deadly.

That said, corporations exist to make money. If they have to keep you safe to do so (usually through regulations and enforcement) they will do the minimum required. Where there are no regulations or lax enforcement we the public are in danger and should beware.

Thank you.

Blanket statements about "chemicals" is a pet peeve of mine.

No to mention there is relatively little mention of the synergistic effects of man made chemicals which individually might be benign but when taken together their combined effects have a much greater impact...

First few Google hits on this topic:

About 307,000 results (0.14 seconds)
Search Results

Pesticide Facts
(Real Alternatives to Toxins in the Environment). "Chemicals have replaced bacteria and ... Studies for synergistic effects are not required by the EPA for ...
www.chebucto.ns.ca/environment/RATE/pestfact.html - Cached
2. [PDF]
The effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals on survivorship and ...
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick View
by J Apodaca - Related articles
The synergistic effect between endocrine-disrupting chemicals and other environmental influences were observed. The. American alligator was listed as an ...
www.nyu.edu/projects/fitch/resources/student_papers/apodaca.pdf - Similar
3. [PPT]
Synergistic Effects of Environmental and Heavy Metal Toxicity in ASD
File Format: Microsoft Powerpoint - View as HTML
Synergistic Effects of Environmental and Heavy Metal Toxicity in ASD .... by more precautionary regulation of household and environmental chemicals. ...
www.nationalautismconference.org/presentations05/usmanl.ppt - Similar
ATSDR - Glossary of Terms
Jan 1, 2009 ... The transfer of substances from the environment to plants, animals, and humans. ..... to identify potential and actual releases of hazardous chemicals. ... Synergistic effect. A biologic response to multiple substances ...
www.atsdr.cdc.gov/glossary.html - Cached - Similar
65 Chemicals Found in Subsurface Water
Dr. Little said that at least two chemicals, alcohol and carbon tetrachloride, are known to drastically increase the synergistic effects of chemicals. ...
www.northshoreonline.com/woburn/chemical.htm - Cached - Similar

I guess there hasn't been enough propaganda to teach the masses about the horrors of chemicals unlike with nuclear radiation (with a few exceptions like mustard gas). So we have people going insane about nuclear power plants in their back yards while they accept petrochemical factories and coal power plants.

But, we used to have a "better living through chemistry" PR campaign. And applied with the proper amount of humility chemicals do allow for better living. So does electricity, but if you grab ahold of the wires it can easily kill you. The key is to create respect, not mindless terror/panic.

A good article on electric bikes:


An interesting fact in the article is that a typical electric bike uses 15 watt-hours of energy per mile as compared to the typical car that uses the equivalent of 1580 watt-hours per mile. (This statistic pertains to a bicycle with an electric motor, not an electric scooter that happens to have pedals.)

I would say on my bike I do 70% of the work and the motor does 30%. I generally go 12 - 14 mph (mostly because I feel uncomfortable going faster) but this isn't much slower than a car travels on average in San Francisco traffic. Going six or seven miles requires as much effort on my part as a reasonably brisk mile walk. (No sweat, not out of breath. And the last half mile to my house is entirely up a monster hill.)

If you live somewhere flat and are in good physical shape, you probably don't need an electric bike. It certainly does cost more and adds weight to the bike, making one more reliant on the motor. But if you have to deal with hills, transporting children or cargo, if you have a bum knee, or if your commute is 10+ miles each way, an electric bike might be a good solution.

"Imminent Oil Shortages Ahead"

"My Freedom of Information request to the USJFCOM confirmed earlier suspicions[4] that the Army relied on an underpublicized, if not covered, global study made by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the statistical branch of the US Department of Energy (DOE)..."


Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending May 28, 2010

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 9.5 million barrels per day last week, down 473
thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks,
crude oil imports have averaged 9.7 million barrels per day, 813 thousand
barrels per day above the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline
imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components)
last week averaged 1.0 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports
averaged 211 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic
Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 1.9 million barrels from the previous week. At
363.2 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of
the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories
decreased by 2.6 million barrels last week, and are above the upper limit of
the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components
inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 0.5
million barrels, and are above the upper boundary of the average range for
this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 2.0 million
barrels last week and are in the upper half of the average range. Total
commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 2.3 million barrels last week,
and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

But the most important thing, to my way of thinking, was:

                              05/07/10 05/14/10 05/21/10 05/28/10
Domestic Production            5,533    5,516    5,540    5,320

US crude oil production dropped 220 thousand barrels per day from the week ending May 21st. Don't know if this had anything to do with the Deepwater Horizon or not but I suspect that it might. That is, could all that panic and traffic affect production from other wells in the area. Since the oil is shipped in by pipeline, (I think), I really don't see how it could affect other production in the area. However I may be missing something.

Ron P.

Ron, do you know how the growing oil slick is going to affect our ability to import oil? Are they going to be able to offload supertankers at the LOOP when it is covered with oil? Will they be able to re-route them to Galveston or something?

Also what will it do to the refineries. Matt Simmons said over the weekend that when oil gets into all the marshlands along the coast it will affect the refineries. He said it takes three gallons of water to make one gallon of refined gasoline.

Is this oil slick going to cause an oil crisis in the US in the coming weeks?

SolarDude, I have heard some speculation on TV about the LOOP and tankers coming into the area. I suppose if it got bad enough then it could affect the tankers coming into that area. But right now it is not affecting imports, that I know of. I can only guess as to what happens if the oil around the LOOP terminal gets worse.

I really can't see how oil in the marshlands could affect the refineries. They may use three gallons of water for each gallon of oil produced but that water does not come from the wetlands. I am not a refinery expert but I would bet anything that they use freshwater, from rivers or their own wells in the area.

In my humble opinion the oil slick is not going to cause any kind of oil crisis in the US in the coming weeks or months. It may have a long term effect on US production because of permits and safety regulations. Production in really deep water is likely to drop off significantly in the next few years.

Total US offshore production is currently about 1.6 million barrels per day. I don't know what percentage of that is deep water, (in over 1,000 feet of water), but I would guess about two thirds or about 1 million barrels per day. Cutting that in half, in the next few years, would be significant but not enough to cause a crisis. It would be just a continuation of US oil production decline.

Ron P.

Based upon recent reports, supertankers are going through portions of the oil slick, but it hasn’t yet been a significant obstacle. As indicated below, tankers are docked offshore, therefore they do not have to be cleaned. However other TOD posters have said significant oil mixed with water in their intakes could affect the operations of a tanker.

LOOP offshore oil port staying open despite spill
HOUSTON June 3 (Reuters) - The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port is and plans to remain operational despite remnants of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill passing by, a spokeswoman said Thursday.


This week’s EIA report indicates very strong demand for oil products. I don’t remember seeing a single poster, including myself that predicted that growth would be 8% higher than last year. That’s 1.5 million barrels a day more demand in May 2010 as compared to May 2009.

The EIA and IEA have predicted that total world demand (not just the US) would only grow about 1.75 million barrels this year. I will say right now those forecasts will have to be revised upwards. I was somewhat surprised at mid-day that the price for oil was unchanged after this report. I think the lack of initial reaction says more about the panicked state of the financial and currency markets than the actual balance of supply and demand.

Granted last May 2009 was the low point for oil demand in the current recession. However the prospects deflationary collapse much discussed here has been postponed, at least for now.

My own guess as to why is that the panic over the Euro has pushed the US price of oil below its long term supply/demand equilibrium price (not that I know for sure what that price is, and if I did, it would probably be changing daily). So we have a counter-cyclical fall in oil/product inventories, albeit there are no signs yet we will see product shortages this summer. Although oil imports dropped, it is apparent that the US has managed to grab an increasing share of a stagnant oil export market – probably by outbidding the rest of the world a month or two back.

It remains to be seen if the rest of the world is just going to sit back and let their inventories run down now that the price of oil is now lower in terms of dollars.

I seem to have read somewhere that a significant problem in shipping operations is that ships coming out of the oil into clean waters need to have their hulls cleaned off. I don't have a reference to hand, but I'm sure I read it here at some point.

Whats important here is price and perceived risk. If offloading at the loop generates any perception of risk and this could be something as simple as a mandate from the insurer etc then people will want to be compensated. Right now US crude is priced below Brent while historically its a few dollars on average higher.

Thus the final result is are you going to mess around with a oil slick to sell oil at a discount to the US ?

Also of course the reason we have only one super tanker docking station is we get a lot of oil from smaller tankers.
These will be docking at different places along the gulf coast the impact of the oil slick on these ships varies.

Regardless I'm not convinced that the oil slick will continue to result in zero cost for transporting oil to the US there is some cost associated even if its simply having to take a circuitous route around the slick.

We will have to eventually pay for this.

I'd argue that it would result initially in tankers with multiple choices choosing to take alternative routes on average if we continue with WTI setting at a relative discount vs Brent and other crudes. Depending on how work to stem the flow moves I'd argue that this will steadily move towards a increasing premium for traveling in the slick.

So I see it as more indirect issues. Now of course of deeper oil plumes reach levels where they become a real problem for the ships intakes then the situation could change fairly quickly. One ship having problems with tar intake and the situation changes rapidly.

I think the lack of negative news about possible oil intake problems on tankers is intentional to avoid disrupting the oil markets.

In the five years I have been posting here, I have noticed when extreme and unusual oil and product (especially gasoline) distirbution problems have arisen anywhere in the US, the news available about the problem is limited. For example, problems with the Colonial Pipeline, hurricane damage, gasoline shortages, etc., seem to be reported rather slowly and vaguely, or are only available from local news sources.

My guess is that news about tankers being diverted won't appear in the media. US oil imports dropped 470,000 bpd last week, and 410,000 was in the Gulf Coast area. But since the Gulf Coast receives almost 60% of US oil imports on average, it is too early to conclude that more than a very few samller tankers may have been diverted. But that is not surprising because some of the tankers may have been already been traveling to the US for up to six weeks. We will know better about the effect of the spill in about two more weeks.

This is from testimony to Congress on May 27, 2010 about oil spill insurance for tankers:

As a practical matter, small and mid-sized independent tanker owners transport a majority of all imported petroleum products to the United States. For these owners and operators, insurance and other evidence of financial responsibility required by OPA are affordable only because of the relatively inexpensive and generally available mutual protection and indemnity pollution insurance of up to $1 billion per incident. Protection and indemnity clubs are associations of vessel owners joined together to pool mutual liabilities falling on their individual members. Mutual insurance provides security and stability to maritime trade because the claims of individual owners are not secured by a single insurer, but instead are collectively insured by the owners of 92% of the world`s ocean-going tonnage if a claim exceeds a certain amount.

pump'n dump? no smiley.
I've seen this for years here
if the markets want the price of crud(e) up in two weeks, it will be. If no can, no can.
When wall street can't make the price of commodities do what it want's them to do ??

Alaska pipeline was shut down.2/3 of prod shut-in(200k bl/da).
Fire and oil spill.
BP rides again!

Probably minor compared to the Alaska issue pointed out, but I heard on the news some of the platforms near the spill had to be closed down due to fumes.

[Deleted - duplicate info]

Hey Gail, when's the webmistress with the mostest coming back so you can get back to your day job?

Leanan should be back next Tuesday- June 8.

Then I can get back to doing some other things. Debbie Cook has been helping with Drumbeat. Also some others contribute articles from time to time.

"If the Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont Departments of Transportation have their way, you may be commuting long-distance to work in twenty years. "

Actually, I might quite possibly be pushing up daisies in twenty years. ***SIGH***

If the Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont Departments of Transportation have their way, you may be commuting long-distance to work in twenty years.

I would think with greater acceptance and access to telecommuting by employees and employers, that the need for long distance commutes may be fractionally reduced. Would be fun to find some reliable statistics for national actual telecommuting.

My employer does have a telecommute policy, and I only have to commute into work three days a week. The other two are spent at home, working from home.

Local news said 48 oil rigs in gulf, is it 1980? Mabye i can actually get a job.

Interesting article about reduced car usage among young people.
Early peak oil adaptation?


Are we moving beyond the auto age? Writing in Esquire, Nate Silver provides hard statistical evidence that America's once-overwhelming car-culture and driving habits have peaked. This article in Advertising Age (h/t: Patrick Adler) provides additional evidence that we may well be in the early stages of a reset in attitudes about driving and car ownership, especially among younger folks. Here are some key statistics from the article:

* "In 1978, nearly half of 16-year-olds and three-quarters of 17-year-olds in the U.S. had their driver's licenses, according to Department of Transportation data. By 2008, the most recent year data was available, only 31 percent of 16-year-olds and 49 percent of 17-year-olds had licenses, with the decline accelerating rapidly since 1998."
* "Twenty-somethings went from driving a disproportionate amount of the nation's highway miles in 1995 to under-indexing for driving in 2009."
* "It's not just new drivers driving less. The share of automobile miles driven by people ages 21 to 30 in the U.S. fell to 13.7 percent in 2009 from 18.3 percent in 2001 and 20.8 percent in 1995."

I have two teens (16 and 19.) Neither has their license, and I’m not encouraging them to get one. We save so much money on insurance, I’m considering paying them not to drive. Plus, our family only has one car, so I doubt they’d be driving all that much even if they did have licenses. Luckily one goes to college where biking is prevalent, and the other lives in a city that (for all our griping about it) has pretty good public transportation available.

Most of their friends don’t drive either. I do think California’s rather onerous requirements and restrictions on teen drivers diminishes the enthusiasm for heading to the DMV on one’s sixteenth birthday, a good thing in my book. Parents need to remember that the number one way their teen is likely to die is in a car filled with a teen driver and friends.

The other thing to consider is that a lot of states have modified their driving age laws as well. For example, in NJ, the age to get your license has gone from 16 to 17 (with restrictions) in the last 15 years. There has even been talk of raising it to 18. That alone would alter the percentages.

I have two teens (16 and 19.) Neither has their license, and I’m not encouraging them to get one. We save so much money on insurance, I’m considering paying them not to drive.

Interesting idea. I can encourage my kids (once they are old enough) that I am willing to split the difference with them:

I'll pay them 1/2 the price of insuring them, either in their pocket, or to insure their driving insurance premium.

Then they either have about a thousand US$ in their pocket every six months, or have to come up with the other 1/2 of the insurance premium(s) to get to drive :)

Young people are driving less. Is it any wonder? In the 60's & 70's there was no computer culture, just a 'beater' as we called it, a cheap car to go somewhere, anywhere. We were driving to the beach, to a party, to a barbecue, anywhere to get out of the house and go somewhere. Now young people spend more time hitting keys on a keyboard.

The girls back then were amazing - slim, fit and fun. The cars and gas were cheap and it was easy to get work and get paid well. So glad to have had my youth in the meaty curve of the age of oil.

The new server is great news, but load times are still long at times. Just friendly feedback.

In the 60's & 70's there was no computer culture, just a 'beater' as we called it, a cheap car to go somewhere, anywhere.... The cars and gas were cheap and it was easy to get work and get paid well.

Could be lots of things contributing

  • More states are requiring lots more supervised driving (50 or 100 hours) before giving a license. Mom and Dad have to put in a much bigger effort in order for the teenager to get a license.
  • As others have mentioned, limits on who can be in the car with the newly-licensed teenager make driving a less attractive privilege.
  • Unemployment is way up. If either Mom or Dad have lost their job, the costs of teenager driving are a barrier.
  • Teenager unemployment is way up. Much harder for a teenager to self-fund in 2009.
  • Insurance costs continue to outpace inflation.

Just an irritated side note, but insurance of all sorts -- medical, auto, life, liability -- is now the third most expensive item in our household budget, after housing and taxes.

It didn't take much to survive, and we were all fit (at least most of us).
I could live a whole summer on the beach in SoCal for $150.00, drugs and food included.

That is a rare glimmer of good news. Now if a large number also heed the call of the UN to eat much less/no meat and dairy, we might start making serious movement toward something like sustainable lifestyles.

Has anyone on this thread gone vegetarian or vegan? After going for decades eating very little meat, I've tried moving closer to a fully vegetarian, and for a few week totally vegan, diet. Any inspiring (or other) stories of moving to lighter-on-the-eaarth lifestyles?

Too bad for the 20% of the population that has genetic predisposition to type II diabetes and insulin resistance. They will have to die out as the world moves to the 100% carb diet utopia.

The problem is overpopulation. Perhaps the heat waves from climate change will do something about it in regions where it is the biggest problem.

The problem is overpopulation. Perhaps the heat waves from climate change will do something about it in regions where it is the biggest problem.

You mean like the 128F in Pakistan a couple of days back. Climate as a weapon of mass destruction.

Has anyone on this thread gone vegetarian or vegan? After going for decades eating very little meat, I've tried moving closer to a fully vegetarian, and for a few week totally vegan, diet. Any inspiring (or other) stories of moving to lighter-on-the-eaarth lifestyles?

I've gone the other way. From mostly veggie to mostly meat eating. I've become convinced that a low carb, high protein diet is the healthiest way to go (assuming good quality food of course). Whether this is good for the planet or not is another story altogether. It's quite possible, and I think likely, that the healthiest diet for the individual may not be sustainable on a finite planet with a human population pushing 9 billion.

ET, you hit the nail on the head. I'm not a dietary expert, but...

What's healthiest for the individual in any number of ways can't be sustainable with 9 billions. In fact, I don't think 9 billions are sustainable on this planet, even if they ate nothing but veggies.

too... many... people...

I've heard claims that the human body is optimized for a typical hunter-gatherer diet, and that the transition to neolithic agriculture and since has resulted in a less-healthy diet. Unfortunately, we have the population we have because of that agricultural productivity. The earth can only support a small number of hunter-gatherers. So, can we modify our agricultural and dietary practices to produce foods that mimic the hunter-gatherer diet, and produce enough to feed billions?

I have been vegan for ten years for a number of reasons, including my health and my environmental impact. My wife is a vegan and her reasons tend more to the issue of the ethical treatment of animals.

Not that there is any chance of this happening but I fear that a big move to veganism or vegetarianism would only have a short term positive impact. The population would just expand because of the additional resources freed up because of the reduction in meat production. Then, we would be in even a bigger mess. Yes, we are not any smarter than yeast.

I have run two marathons since I became a vegan, so there certainly isn't anything to worry about as far as protein or energy levels. Just be sure to take your B12. My health is excellent, not that there is any guarantee that veganism will make you healthy. I am sure, however, than I am healthier than I would be if I had continued my previous lifestyle, which included pretty heavy meat eating.

You too, tstreet, have hit the nail on the head.

The population always expands to the limits of the resource.

I am semi-vegetarian, not so much for personal health reasons, and not because I think it's wrong to eat meat. I do, however, have a huge ethical problem with the hideous practices of industrial meat production. But I do eat locally grown beef and chicken - I know the grower, and sometimes the cows. And I know my chickens :-)

That is my particular compromise.

Those who want to do so can "prove" that some particular diet is optimum for health.

I conclude that for the vast majority of people, as a practical matter, the optimum diet is light on the meat and dairy and heavy on the fruit and vegetables with grains making up any (unlikely in a wealthy society!) calories deficit after studying the subject extensively.

Vegetarian and vegan diets are not so easy to balance for most people; and while we hear a hell of a lot about the price of meat/fish,the nutrient density offsets the price differential nicely, especially for cheaper meats/fish.

Practical considerations cannot be left unconsidered-costs of the grocery basket,cooking times and skills, variety, etc make it possible and practical to stick -or not to stick-to a given diet.

You are going to die regardless.

I'm doubtful that the author had Peak Oil in mind when he wrote this article. Going forward, I think the vast majority of people will react to PO, but will not attribute their life style change to PO. However, the author brought up at least one a good point.

Trading-off car ownership to free up cash for other uses from travel, entertainment, technology, and experiences to more savings.

However, he missed on one point. We have more suburban sprawls now than ever. The urban condo trend where the "Creative Class" supposedly live is popular, but very few can afford it. Obviously this could change.

The increased popularity of close-in locations and walkable mixed-used neighborhoods which further reduces the need for a car to get around.

I think we drive less regardless of demographic because the people that are financially on the fringe simply can not afford to. And I think this group vastly outnumbered those that willingly give up driving. As I said before, which hurts more: $1 gasoline with no job or $4 gasoline with a job.

More broken promises.... after several missed target dates, AECL has simply given up lying guessing.

AECL confirms more N.B. reactor delays

Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. is again breaking its own timelines on finishing the $1.4-billion Point Lepreau refurbishment project, the Crown corporation confirmed Thursday.

After repeated delays, AECL pledged last fall that it would be complete its share of the Point Lepreau work by October 2010. But that deadline will be missed, and the federal nuclear engineering company is no longer estimating when it will hand the refurbished reactor back to NB Power.

"AECL has stated that this completion date is no longer achievable. New guidance on the completion of the retube activities will be issued when plans are finalized for the calandria tube installation," the AECL statement said.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/new-brunswick/story/2010/06/03/nb-aecl-point-le...


Wonderful blog. In regards a 9 billion population, self styled maverick scientist James Lovelock predicts population at 1.5 billion in 2100 c.e. due to global warming effects. China uninhabitable, severe sea rise etc. So 'let's all eat grain', probably won't help.

1.5 Billion? When did he become an optimist?

The California ISO now has a nice daily graph of the breakdown of the different types of power (i.e. solar, wind, hydro, etc) that contributed to the day's generation.


Thanks for the link. So if I'm understanding this website correctly, California is already getting 14% of its power from renewables (not including large hydroelectric?) How does the California ISO differ from my utility company, PG&E? If the ISO "runs" the grid, what exactly (of value) does my utility company do?

PG&E produces many nice TV ads and glossy brochures - these things are of incredible, even incalculable, value! You also get to have second rate phone service, and to see all those nice clean PG&E trucks driving around town.

Seriously though, the ISO's job is to "referee" the game, and make sure the power generation matches demand. If this is not done, the result is blackouts (not enough generation) or spikes (too much generation). PG&E buys power from various generators, in addition to its own, through the ISO, and then distributes this power through out its service areas. PG&E has to maintain the lines, read meters, do system additions etc. These are not trivial matters, especially with an old system such as in SF.

The ISO is similar in function to air traffic control - keep the system from crashing, but they are not responsible for the condition of the airplanes, or the fares charged, or the level of service delivered!

So the 13KWhr from my panels was 1 part in threehundred thousand of the solar. Wait a few days, California is being assaulted by a strong moist jet stream (moisture supposedly from the Phillipines). It should get sunnier soon? You don't normally expect to see clouds at all this time of year.