Drumbeat: June 26, 2010

India Frees Gasoline, Diesel Prices to Help Cut Government's Expenditure

India decided to free prices of gasoline and diesel, saying they would be market driven in line with a panel’s recommendations, to cut fuel subsidies and limit losses of state-run refiners including Indian Oil Corp.

A panel led by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee also agreed to increase prices of cooking gas and kerosene, which will continue to be under government control, Oil Secretary S. Sundareshan told reporters in New Delhi yesterday. Diesel prices are being raised by two rupees a liter for now and the fuel will eventually be freed from state control, he said.

Shell begins pulling workers from U.S. Gulf due storm

(Reuters) - Shell Oil Co said on Saturday non-essential workers from production platforms and drilling rigs in U.S.-regulated areas of the Gulf of Mexico oilfields were being evacuated due to the forecast path of Tropical Storm Alex.

US, UK agree no gain from damaging BP-UK official

(Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed on Saturday there was nothing to be gained from damaging BP, a British official said.

Don't ignore low-income spill victims, advocates urge BP

WASHINGTON — Vicky Townley is waiting to hear whether BP will compensate her for tip income she says she's lost because of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

"Things are so slow we're basically living from paycheck to paycheck, which is not very much," said Townley, a bartender in Gulf Shores, Ala., who filed her lost-wages claim three weeks ago.

New Orleans Chef Sues BP Over Losses to Restaurants Selling Gulf Seafood

Chef Susan Spicer, of Bayona restaurant in New Orleans and a judge on “Top Chef,” sued BP Plc for damages to restaurants that can’t access their customary supplies of fresh seafood from the Gulf of Mexico.

Spicer filed a proposed class action on behalf of chefs “whose occupation was destroyed and/or adversely and detrimentally affected” by the worst oil spill in U.S. history, caused by the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig off the Louisiana coast in April.

BP ‘Reporter’ Flies Over Gulf Without Noting Slick

A Facebook friend, Kristin Aldred Cheek, pointed me to a pretty wild bit of faux journalism recently concocted by BP as part of its public relations efforts related to the gusher in the Gulf of Mexico. On his blog, a BP “reporter,” Tom Seslar, describes a two-hour helicopter flight over the gulf with a team charting oil patches.

BP defense: Palin pushes article comparing Obama to Hitler

WASHINGTON — Sarah Palin is urging her followers to read an article likening President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler in the way Obama pressured BP to set aside $20 billion for oil spill damage claims.

“This is about the rule of law vs. an unconstitutional power grab. Read Thomas Sowell's article,” Palin said in a note to followers sent via twitter.

Oil hands

On Saturday, beach-goers around the world joined hands in solidarity with the people of the Gulf of Mexico region, whose lives have been turned upside-down by the BP oil spill.

The "Hands Across The Sand" protest was designed to be a show of support for clean energy and a protest against drilling for new oil.

40-year-old reactor to operate for 10 more years

FUKUI — Kansai Electric Power Co has decided to extend operation of the 40-year-old No. 1 reactor at the Mihama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture for another 10 years, which will make it the longest operating among domestic nuclear reactors, informed sources said Saturday.

UAE exploring options on handling N-waste

ABU DHABI — The UAE is not intending to domestically reprocess the spent fuel from the nuclear reactors to be set up in the country, Hamad Ali Al Kaabi, the permanent representative of the UAE to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said here.

New U.S. oil rigs face inspections, fines in proposed law

(Reuters) - New U.S. oil rigs and wells would face strict new design and inspection rules under a draft law circulated by a key House of Representatives committee on Friday.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will discuss the draft bill at a June 30 hearing -- one of several congressional initiatives to crack down on the oil industry in the wake of the environmental disaster caused by BP's(BP.N) Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The 34-page draft "blowout prevention act" outlines the conditions for drilling and operating new "high-risk" wells -- offshore or on land -- and aims to prevent future disasters.

Offshore drilling loses some support

WASHINGTON — Public support for offshore oil drilling is dropping as sharply as BP's stock as the spill from the April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion continues to spread across the Gulf of Mexico.

The most recent Pew Research Center nationwide poll taken June 16-20 showed that a majority of Americans surveyed (52 percent) oppose increased offshore drilling, a 14 percentage point increase from last month. However, only 22 percent supported a total ban on offshore drilling, while 35 percent favor banning only new drilling.

How Much Has Spilled, and How Far? Seeking Answers as Questions Mount

Since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April, killing 11 and setting off the biggest maritime oil spill in the nation’s history, questions about the potential dimensions of the disaster have only multiplied from week to week. Readers have been asking whether the oil can be contained, how serious the damage will be and what they can do to help. Following is a primer on the spill.

How much oil is really gushing?

WASHINGTON — Billions of dollars and the future of one the world's lushest ecosystems could all ride on one elusive number: the precise amount of oil gushing from the broken BP well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

Evidently, it's not an easy number to calculate. Estimates have ranged from a 1,000 barrels a day to 100,000 barrels a day. Some say it depends who's doing the figuring; others point to the unpredictable conditions that go along with drilling for oil deep beneath the seabed.

Moratorium Won’t Reduce Drilling Risks

“This case asks whether the federal government’s imposition of a general moratorium on deepwater drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico was imposed contrary to law. Before the Court is the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction. For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED."

So began a stinging 22-page decision, issued this week by a Federal District Court judge, Martin L. C. Feldman. He was rejecting, pretty much out of hand, the Obama administration’s plan to place a six-month moratorium on all drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico. It would have amounted to a shutdown of 33 deepwater rigs, the kind that can drill the deepest and are the most complex to operate — and the kind that can cost well over $500,000 a day even when they’re just sitting idle.

On The Gulf, Oily Ships Cleaned One At A Time

The crude oil gushing in the Gulf of Mexico isn't only a problem when it hits beaches or fouls sensitive marshland. The floating slick offshore can make a mess of the commercial ships that traverse Gulf waters, and then track that oil into shipping channels, ports and marinas.

Just south of Mobile, Ala., The Resolute, a seagoing tug, is positioned near the entrance of a ship channel. The 100-foot tug would normally be docking and sailing ships in and out of Mobile harbor, but now it has been converted into a floating decontamination station. Oily ships can stop and get a wash before they come into port.

Can BP's Tony Hayward survive after the scalding from the oil spill?

In the course of two months, BP chief executive Tony Hayward has gone from paragon to punching bag.

Mississippi Man Charged With Repairing BP's Image

Bob Dudley, a BP executive from Mississippi picked to replace CEO Tony Hayward, has a quite a task ahead of him: Take on efforts to clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico — and repair BP's bruised image.

Little spent on oil spill cleanup technology

ON BARATARIA BAY, La. (AP) -- While oil companies have spent billions of dollars to drill deeper and farther out to sea, relatively little money and research have gone into finding new, improved ways to respond to oil spills in deepsea conditions like those in the Gulf of Mexico.

Experts say the massive Gulf spill has exposed a failure by the industry and the federal government to commit adequate resources to oil cleanup and response technology.

Everything You Need To Know About The Future Of Oil & Gas

Big picture trends include a few more years of rising oil supply, with demand shifting to emerging markets. There's a steady shift to liquid natural gas and a slow move to renewables. Peak oil and demand pressure are looming -- but maybe not till the end of the decade.

Dubai ruler says will go ahead with all projects - CNN

(Reuters) - Dubai's ruler said the emirate would go forward with all development projects within a year in an interview with CNN broadcast on Friday, after billions of dollars worth of projects were cancelled in the wake of the global financial downturn.

Dutch court orders Rosneft payment

The Dutch Supreme Court has issued a final ruling ordering Rosneft to pay $400m in claims by a former affiliate of Yukos, the bankrupt Russian oil group that was controversially taken over by the Russian state oil company, the affiliate said.

Iran announces second natural gas find near Toos

(Reuters) - Iran has found a second gas field in the Khorasan Razavi province where a major natural gas find was announced last week, an official said on Saturday.

Colombia must learn from Venezuela oil mistakes-execs

CARTAGENA, Colombia (Reuters) - Colombia should learn from the mistakes of neighboring Venezuela if it wants to make the most of booming investment in its crude oil sector, oil industry executives told a conference on Friday.

"Colombia is doing all the right things. Venezuela is doing all the wrong things," Alange Energy (ALE.V) President Luis Giusti told the World Petroleum Council's regional meeting here.

"Colombians should be very pleased about what is happening here."

Cuba, Russia cooperate to boost oil, natural gas production

The Cuba-Russia cooperation in oil exploration on Friday strengthened further as Russia opened an office of its oil enterprise JSC Zarubezhneft in Havana.

The opening of the Russian oil giant office was deemed as a boost to enhancing the Cuban capability to increase oil and natural gas production on the Caribbean island.

Is It Energy’s Turn Now?

With the overhaul of financial regulation nearing completion, some Democrats are hoping that Congress can turn to the next big legislative challenge – energy and climate change. There is no consensus yet what such legislation should include, but there is strong determination on the part of the White House and Democratic leaders in Congress to try to move something – anything – before Congress leaves town in August.

Traveling Mother Earth

As spilled oil clouds the Gulf of Mexico, maybe it's time for travelers to think about the toll they take on the planet. There are smart ways to counteract it.

Natural Disasters Happen. Will Your Home Be Ready?

THE oil spill wreaking havoc in the Gulf of Mexico may be capturing your attention at the moment. But the odds are far greater that a natural disaster — a hurricane, wildfire or windstorm, for instance — will affect you.

The insurance industry is reminding homeowners of those odds this month, at the official start of the hurricane season, noting that forecasters have said it may be a bad one.

Sea energy could generate billions in exports, council told

WAVE AND tidal energy could supply a significant share of the future electricity needs of Ireland, Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, the British-Irish Council (BIC) has heard.

It could also generate billions of euro worth of energy exports and create tens of thousands of jobs, the council heard.

A Solar Bulb May Light the Way

Nearly 130 years after Thomas Edison created the first marketable incandescent light bulb, nearly two billion people around the globe still live their lives without a steady supply of electric light. The problem is not light bulbs, of course, but living off the grid.

Genetically Altered Salmon Get Closer to the Table

The Food and Drug Administration is seriously considering whether to approve the first genetically engineered animal that people would eat — salmon that can grow at twice the normal rate.

Caribbean Storms Strengthen, May Head for Oil Spill

Residents and businesses along the Gulf of Mexico face a weekend of watching and planning as the season’s first tropical storm formed off the Yucatan Peninsula.

The storm, called Alex, is about 220 miles (354 kilometers) east-southeast of Belize City and is moving west-northwest at 8 mph, according to a U.S. National Hurricane Center bulletin issued at 5 a.m. Eastern Time. It has maximum sustained winds of 40 mph, just above the 39 mph threshold needed to be classified a tropical storm.

BP halts oil capture due to storm

BP has announced that it will suspend oil-capture efforts over its blown-out well five days before the potential onset of gale-force winds in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP Relief Well May Begin Plugging Leak in a Few Weeks

BP Plc said it drilled near its Macondo well beneath the seafloor in the Gulf of Mexico and may begin efforts in a few weeks to plug a leak that caused the biggest oil spill in U.S. history.

Counterpoint to “A ‘Nightmare’ Scenario for the Gulf Oil Spill”

That said, an actual editor at The Oil Drum has posted a logical response to DougR that is worth reading. She calls it “BP’s Deepwater Oil Spill — Response to DougR’s Concerns — and Open Thread 2” and my only criticism of this piece is that she does not explain to us why the editors at The Oil Drum legitimized DougR by promoting his comment to full-post status. This criticism becomes even more relevant after you see DougR thoroughly discredited.

Oil Burning Stirs Fear for Sea Turtles

One method for combating the massive oil spill caused by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon Rig has been to corral some of the thicker oil in the Gulf of Mexico and burn it. This week there was an alarming report from a boat captain saying that sea turtles were being burned alive.

Turtle Deaths Called Result of Shrimping, Not Oil Spill

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist says he believes most of the dead turtles that have been examined since the Gulf of Mexico oil spill died not from the oil or the chemical dispersants put into the water after the disaster, but from being caught in shrimping nets, though further testing may show otherwise.

Iraq oil minister sees oil prices as acceptable

BAGHDAD - Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain Al Shahristani said on Saturday he viewed current oil prices of between $70 and $80 per barrel as acceptable and balanced, and likely to endure for the rest of the year.

‘These prices seem acceptable and balanced in the oil market and it’s expected to continue,’ Shahristani told reporters in Baghdad when asked if the price range of $70 to $80 per barrel was likely to persist for the rest of 2010.

He said the oil producer’s group OPEC had spare capacity and could add output at any time.

Native activist takes oil sands protest to Toronto

Clayton Thomas-Muller, a 34-year-old Cree activist who works for indigenous rights and environmental justice, says Alberta’s oil sands patch is killing native communities — culturally and literally.

In town for Friday night’s G20-related Shout Out for Global Justice at Massey Hall, Thomas-Muller says he has “come to call out Canada on the global stage on its failed energy and climate policy and to highlight its gross human rights record.

Canada: Judge Finds Oil Company Guilty in Deaths of 1,600 Ducks

An Alberta judge found Syncrude Canada Ltd., the biggest producer in Canada’s oil sands, guilty on Friday of charges stemming from the deaths of 1,600 ducks that landed on a toxic tailings pond in northern Alberta in 2008.

Cost for new Iraq refineries seen at $20 bln

BAGHDAD - The estimated cost of building four new refineries in Iraq to add some 740,000 barrels per day of refining capacity is more than $20 billion, Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain Al Shahristani said on Saturday.

China May Have Ethylene Shortfall as Demand Outpaces Supply, Sinopec Says

China, the world’s fastest-growing major economy, may have a shortfall of ethylene by 2015 as demand growth for the plastic raw material outstrips increases in capacity, according to the nation’s top oil refiner.

Clean energy still a long-term solution

We will not be done with petroleum products for a long, long time. Not just the little synthetic fibers, cosmetics and such but those products that burn, or nearly do, in engines. We are trifling with hybrid vehicles or battery powered cars, which are small, even cute. But we're Americans. We don't like that.

We want larger cars that don't speak to claustrophobia and range farther afield than the limits posed by the batteries being used today. We won't be a nation of small cars, eminently crushable by the full-sized pickup trucks of which we won't let go, which themselves would need a battery the size of a diesel engine to make the truck useful.

What Peak Oil?

I've been going through the International Energy Agency's new forecast for medium-term oil and natural gas markets, issued yesterday. In contrast to the IEA's warnings of last summer concerning an imminent oil supply crunch, the agency now sees ample supplies to accommodate the level of demand growth it anticipates for the next five years. Yet while this scenario does not envision a peak in global oil supplies before 2015, its components offer ample cause for concern about the growing market power of OPEC and the risk of geopolitical disruptions. It also signals the growing importance of non-traditional sources of liquid fuels, including natural gas liquids (NGLs) and biofuels, which are included in the IEA's oil supply & demand balance.

The fossil-fuel fallacy

In 1956, geophysicist Marion Hubbert's research on the estimated oil reserves and projected oil production in the US, concluded a peak would occur between 1966 and 1972 — Peak Oil Theory. When his projections coincided somewhat with the first oil shortage in 1973, it reverberated world wide. This was short-lived, however: Soon new supplies were discovered offshore, in Alaska and elsewhere. Yet the finite fossil origins of oil were still jealously clung to, even though big oil knew of the more plausible abiotic origin even then.

The darkest art of Zarg-chasm

Laissez-faire capitalism is all about business regulating itself. A self-regulating sphere in an ever-changing business cosmos. Makes it sound exciting, right? putting it this way, as indeed it is. Or was, until political charlatans began to interfere.

The fact that politicians nowadays regard themselves as exempt from the above formula, and able to interfere in the running of sovereign companies, with the excuse that its all for our own good, is the saddest thing of all. Try to imagine, say, a solar power company presenting an advertising campaign, claiming that world oil extraction will peak by 2014-16, and dry up in a few decades. And further imagine that this campaign will not place them in a court of law. Their peak oil claim would be challenged, and evidence would have to be forthcoming. Unfortunately for them, yet fortunately for us and our oil shares, NO evidence is to be had. It doesn't exist. It's simply a damned lie.

On Being a 21st-Century Peasant

For the sake of argument, let’s assume McKibben is right about peak oil. Does that mean the era of expansive global civilization and economic growth is over? Not necessarily. Transportation might become increasingly electrified, perhaps using new-fangled traveling wave nuclear reactors. This would reduce the demand for oil, keeping its price relatively lower for farming uses. In addition, biotechnologists have developed crop varieties that use two-thirds less nitrogen fertilizer than conventional varieties do, which also would reduce the demand for oil in farming. Civilization could well save itself by means of technological fixes and economic growth.

McKibben sees a retreat from modernity as our only option because he believes humans have reached the limits of our creativity. But there’s every sign that our capacity to innovate around problems remains limitless.

Britain To Introduce First-Ever Immigration Cap

Thousands of foreign workers will be turned away from Britain next month when the Government introduces an immigration cap for the first time.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is to announce a nine-month temporary limit to prevent a last-minute influx as workers from outside the EU try to beat permanent new controls due to come into force next April.

Just 24,100 workers from outside the EU will be allowed into the country before then and highly skilled migrants will have to meet more stringent conditions. But it will not be enough for the Conservatives to meet their election pledge to reduce net migration — which includes students and EU citizens — to beneath 100,000 this year.

Lobster Catch-22

It sounds like that hideous line from the Vietnam War about having to destroy a village in order to save it. Only this time, it’s being applied to the lobster industry in Long Island Sound.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is now weighing a recommendation to halt all lobster fishing in southern New England waters for five years. Experts say it would be a last-ditch effort to save our dwindling lobster population from vanishing completely, and it could go into effect as early as next year.

Lobster fishermen argue they won’t be able to survive that kind of ban. They’d have to sell their boats, traps and dock facilities. By the time such a ban was lifted, there probably wouldn’t be commercial lobster operations anywhere along the Connecticut shoreline.

Scientists Question EPA Estimates Of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The approach the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses to estimate greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural anaerobic lagoons that treat manure contains errors and may underestimate methane emissions by up to 65%, according to scientists from the University of Missouri.

Anaerobic lagoons treat manure on some animal feeding operations prior to application to crops as a fertilizer. Methane, one byproduct of the treatment process, has 21 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide.

Global warming fight fizzles

After the July 11 Upper House election, the Diet is to revive discussion on a bill designed to combat global warming. It calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. But the 25 percent reduction is conditional on all other major emitter-nations setting similarly ambitious targets. This stipulation sets the stage for failure as it leaves little incentive for companies and society to adopt effective emission-cutting measures. The government should rethink its approach.

Field Museum examines climate change

In 1600, about the time Europeans had exhausted their forests of wood to burn, they began to burn coal — the first in a series of events that have culminated in a very loud, contentious worldwide debate and the creation of a sizable traveling exhibit on global warming that opened Friday at the Field Museum.

"Climate Change," an exhibit organized by the American Museum of Natural History in collaboration with the Field and several other museums, remains at the Field through Nov. 28.

Climate Change Scientists Turn Up the Heat in Alaska

ScienceDaily — Scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory are planning a large-scale, long-term ecosystem experiment to test the effects of global warming on the icy layers of arctic permafrost.

Higher Wetland Methane Emissions Caused By Climate Warming 40,000 Years Ago

40,000 years ago rapid warming led to an increase in methane concentration. The culprit for this increase has now been identified. Mainly wetlands in high northern latitudes caused the methane increase, as discovered by a research team from the University of Bern and the German Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association. This result refutes an alternative theory discussed amongst experts, the so-called "clathrate gun hypothesis". The latter assumed that large amounts of methane were released from the ocean sediment and led to higher atmospheric methane concentrations and thus to rapid climate warming.

'JT Coyote', the blogger who wrote the abiotic oil drivel piece 'Fossil Fuel Fallacy' also writes for Alex Jones InfoWars.com blog.

Allllrighty, then...

Yeah, from the Link up top:

The fossil-fuel fallacy

The geological Abiotic Oil Theory gives a more scientifically demonstrable oil creation model. It shows constant production originating in the Earth's deepest boundary crust, where elements undergo a high heat and pressure transformation interaction with magma and the mantle.

So the Earth's deepest crust is capable of producing infinite quantities of elements?

Well, not really, when we are all sleeping, the magic oil faries, swoop down and inject new elements into the geologic formations under the deep crust. They are like our oil fairy godmothers looking out for us by constantly creating the necessary conditions for the infinite production of abiotic oil.

Sleep tight my little children, all will be well, forever and ever, amen!

Perhaps we can eventually burn, morons, for fuel, there sure seems to be an infinte supply of them!

FM -- I usually avoid the abiotic oil debate but it's a slow morning so I once again offer this porposition: let's just all accept the theory as true. Now we can stop arguing about it. But that still doesn't change the fundamental fact that regardless of how any oil has been generated we still have to find the accumulations. Virtually every penny of the trillions of exploration $'s spent every year is focused on just that. And we find what we find. We can't find anymore oil if all of it is of abiotic origin or not. Unless someone in the pro-abiotic crowd can point to some spot on the map where we can tap directly into this big ongoing oil generation factory it doesn't really matter if it exists or not IMHO.


Are there any source resources which document how much of the World has been explored for oil/NG?

We can eliminate the sea floor beyond the continental shelves.

It would be interesting to see a map of how much area has been explored by the various detection techniques...seismic, drilling, etc.

Such a report would help better frame the discussion about how much oil is left to discover. I leave aside the valid issues of cost/EROI/flow rates/environmental hazards for right this second.

There are plenty of folks who respond to PO concerns by simply saying that there is much more oil left to discover, since there are plenty of places we have not yet looked.

- I am not endorsing this argument, just stating it -

I would be interested to see an article or series of articles on TOD (if there are such articles, please advise and accept my apologies for my ignorance) describing the various techniques for assessing the probability of oil under the earth and the global extent that these procedures have been applied.

I understand that seismic techniques are used involving explosives and or 'thumper trucks?'...has there been any research into using the global array of earthquake seismometers to assess the very upper crust for oil deposits using the continual plethora of earthquakes? I think there has been advances made in seismic detection sensitivity in order to detect very small underground covert nuclear explosives for treaty verification purposes.

Is gravimetry and physical geodesy relevant to searching for potential oil-bearing formations?

Curious on a Saturday morning...

One of the interesting points that people will bring up is that there must exist millions of these small pockets of reservoir that we must miss. Think about it. We spend all of our time trying to find the biggest reservoirs because they have the biggest potential payback. We only have to spend a fixed overhead on setting up an area and getting all the right permits and purchasing agreements and then we can exploit that area for a much longer time than we can a smaller reservoir. So it ends up being a much larger profit potential.

And then the thinking goes that it is much harder to find the smaller reservoirs just like it is harder to find a needle in a haystack. But with improved technology, we should be able to pinpoint these huge numbers of smaller reservoirs that we have ignored all these years and thus get the payback.

This is part of the rationale for the "Drill, Baby, Drill" mantra.


That is not the way it is. My theory of dispersive aggregation says that reservoir creation is rate determined and evolves over millions of years. The accumulation of crude oil generates a peak in size that shows up on what evolutionary biologists call a Preston plot.

This is all based on the uniquely shaped distribution measured from years of data.

The upshot of this is that there is an insignificant amount of smaller reservoirs to draw from. And moreover, these reservoirs don't contain much oil. This is such an obvious result, but I don't see anyone ever discussing this observation!

Here is a plot of GOM reserves that I transcribed from the MMS site.

Overlaid, I placed the theory for dispersive aggregation. Note that for very small reserve sizes, there isn't a lot of probability "meat" there. The total number drawn from is 8000. And then when you multiply that small probability by the total number and the volume per reservoir, the result is miniscule.

It's possible that the bulge at the lower left in the curve will stay there, and never be exploited because it is simply not worth it.

And that is a short explanation of why the "Drill, Baby, Drill" crowd is delusional. They do not want to look at the math.

I think you are missing something here. Without going thru report which you reference as the source of these data, I notice this comment from your web page:

On the basis of proved oil, for 8,014 proved undersaturated oil reservoirs, the median is 0.3 MMbbl, the mean is 1.8 MMbbl.

This quote matches the data you present in your graph.

Since these data represent reservoirs which have actually been drilled and since the drilling is in the GOM, I suspect that your plot misses most of the actual reservoirs on the low end of the scale. That's because of the cost of drilling in the GOM, which is much higher than on land. As a result of the inherent large cost, I would think the smallest reservoirs would not be drilled at all, even were there evidence of their existence in seismic surveys. The real point is that there was no economic reason to drill those in the first place and that the smaller ones found may have actually been finds which resulted from failed attempts to drill for reservoirs which were suspected to be larger. AIUI, your claim that there is "an insignificant amount of smaller reservoirs to draw from" would be incorrect.

E. Swanson

This mean value matches the mean value for the entire USA, so it is safe to say it is a good statistical sampling. As evidence, the reservoir distribution chart below of the entire USA shows a characteristic size of 1 which is close to the GOM size. So the essential "cost" differential doesn't play a role, these are real characteristic sizes that we are seeing. It might well pan out that elsewhere in the world but the USA appears very aggressive.


One of these days you will actually find a big mistake in one of my analyses, but no cigar on this one. The theory is too solid and the agreement to data is too parsimonious.

My only concern is whether the data actually refers to how much reserves are left in each of the 8000 reservoirs, instead of the total reserves since the start of extraction. Then it would still be OK because we are only talking about a scaling effect. But this would also explain the bulge at the lower end as those are reservoirs not worthy of extraction.

The main thing is that the USA is the most explored region anywhere in the world, as they have reduced the characteristic size to as low as it can go.

WHT and Black Dog: Thanks for the plots and the discussion.

How many holes were drilled which didn't produce enough flow to be put into production, yet which showed some oil? I think also that the history of drilling on land in the US doesn't really apply to the GOM because the techniques of finding oil, even under water, had advanced considerably before the start of major drilling campaigns there. Thus, I still think there is a bias against small reservoirs in your data.

E. Swanson

Dispersive growth will not allow small reservoirs to survive just like all studies of crystal and particle growth show that small sizes will not stay small over long periods of time. They either grow, or disappear through aggregation or by disintegration. If the reservoirs dissolve into nothing or into completely-dispersed-oil it doesn't count, just like crystal sizes below a certain size don't count as these need to exceed a free energy of formation to coalesce. The rates that I propose are a NET increase over decrease in size so that small reservoirs can never survive, proportionally speaking.

There can be a slight bias in the data, but there is no bias in the theory. The principle of maximum entropy requires that only a single peak can occur on a log-scale. Any other distribution will have less entropy and thus display more order than the maximum entropy case. That is the way that natural processes work.

Now if you want to say that the peak on a log scale will shift left towards smaller sizes, then you can also calculate how much oil this will add to the URR. I did this calculation in that post I linked to and it goes like:
URR ~ MaxRank * C * (ln (L/C) - 1)

Where C is the characteristic size and L is the max size. So if you want to reduce C due to bias, then you have to increase MaxRank (the number of reservoirs produced) proportionally. The weak log term doesn't count for much. So if C gets cut in half, then you need to find almost twice as many reservoirs as we already have, to maintain the same URR.

That shows the power of real analysis.

Excellent analysis indeed. Did I see in your "Estimating URR" post that you are on the record as predicting for the world:

a range in URR's from 1100 Gb to 1850 Gb

Anyone want to put a bee in his bonnet and do an HL plot against historical production on those numbers?

It would be interesting to see a monte carlo simulation in which dispersive discovery is applied to 10,000 random planets, with parameters in a tight range similar to Earth's age, size, crust, water/land area, etc.

Something tells me that 2,000 Gb URR would not be in the so-called "fat tail" of that histogram.


That is only based on the sizes that are counted, the MaxRank of the histogram. The problem with this method for estimating URR is (as I said in that post) that no "top" exists for the prediction. It just gives you the size distribution not the number of elements that go into the distribution's histogram.

So we are limited by the number that are counted, which is less than that exists, because of course we do not have all the records and we have not discovered all that we eventually will. So that number is definitely a lower bound.

I understand your interest in URR. My question was regarding to your assertion that there are an "insignificant amount of smaller reservoirs to draw from". But, there are small reservoirs shown on your first graph, on the order of 1000 bbl, which shows that there are "small" reservoirs. I think that you can't reject the possibility of the existence of even smaller reservoirs. It's just that such reservoirs are not economic to find and produce in the GOM due to the large cost of doing so. Exploration for oil tends to focus on the largest, most productive ones and the data for small reservoirs you present may be the result of failures to find large ones.

To be sure, the ultimate quantity of oil available from any smaller reservoirs will not add much to URR, since many wells would need to be drilled to produce any useful quantity of oil from them. Because of the cost of drilling, it is highly unlikely that any systematic effort to recover what oil may be hidden in these locations, even if it were possible to pinpoint their location. At todays prices, a 1,000 bbl reserve would hava a value of $80,000, a trivial amount compared to the $500,000 per day to drill in deep water. Since wells aren't likely to be drilled without some indication of payback, I submit there's no way to know whether there are tiny reservoirs or not. One can't prove a negative, so you can't prove such reservoirs don't exist somewhere, in spite of your appeal to a theory which, I submit, may not apply to the real situation.

E. Swanson

OK, I do agree with what you say.

The analogy is with Relative Species Abundance. We can never say how many species there are that are extremely rare, since we have to put in a lot of effort to find them.

The great thing about a theory is that it may turn out true!

H -- various folks put out numbers. If I look at those at all I'll take them with a big grain of salt. Probably the biggest chunk of un/under explored territory are the Deep Water plays: GOM, S. America, Africa. I wouldn't try to put a number on it...my world is focused on much too small a patch of the globe.

Unless someone in the pro-abiotic crowd can point to some spot on the map where we can tap directly into this big ongoing oil generation factory

MC252 many of them are claiming. Apparently the Blowout oil is less than 100 years old and the reservoir is being replenished in real time by abiotic oil creation. So the oil is getting younger as it flows.

According to another post yesterday the CIA is attempting to cull the population of the Gulf Coast to cover this up or something like that...


Search for the name Larry Cathles and the GOM area known as Eugene Island.

My thinking was that based on statements that the Cornell University geologist Cathles made about the size of the potential reserves and the fact that someone linked Cathles to a colleague of his from Cornell, Thomas Gold, who was the chief abiotic oil advocate.

That's how these theories come about -- a grain of evidence followed by amplification and circumstantial evidence.

Yeah, it's kind of funny. Many of us see the Gulf Oil spill as evidence of peak oil. We're being driven to ever more hostile environments to get oil. But some see it as proof that peak oil is a crock. Stick a pin in the earth, and oil comes gushing out at high pressure.

Meanwhile, the MSM and oil & gas trade journals, insofar as I know, continue to largely ignore* the collapse in production from the main producing structure in the Thunder Horse complex--BP's poster child for deepwater GOM exploration.

*So far, I have only found two MSM references, the Houston Chronicle and the Christian Science Monitor.

tow -- I've never seen anyone in the abiotic crowd that said it was a fast and current process so even active recharging isn't part of their story. And if MC 252 is abiotic then we found it already. Doesn't matter where it came from...we found it already. As far as being only 100 years old I'll have to see some well documented third party analysis before I would give that statement a second thought.

As I implied it doesn't matter to the oil patch how the oil was generated: we focus exclusively on where it is now and not where it was born.

This claim by geologist (so he says) Chris Landau.


For OpEdNews: Chris Landau – Writer

You see oil is basically inorganic. It is not made from dead squashed plankton. It is not a fossil fuel. It is an inorganic chemical compound reduced from calcareous sediments and carbon dioxide and methane gas.

...We need to know if this oil is 10 to 100 years old and if its age is changing as it escapes. Is the escaping oil getting older or younger? So we need to start dating the oil on a weekly basis to see what is happening.

His is a very minority point of view...that in itself doesn't mean it's incorrect. But the paper I referenced makes the case for why it should, until something new shows up, remain a minority view.

We can only hope it is old oil. We can only date oil back 100 000 years by carbon dating, but that is fine. We need to know if this oil is 10 to 100 years old and if its age is changing as it escapes. Is the escaping oil getting older or younger? So we need to start dating the oil on a weekly basis to see what is happening.

This guy is a little confused. Carbon dating can only date organic material, plants or animals, or the shells made by those animals. If oil is abiotic then one could not date it with carbon 14 dating. It dates the time of death!

Plants and animals take their carbon 14 from the atmosphere. Carbon 14 has a half life of 5730 years. So they can measure the amount of carbon 14 in the organic material and compare it with the amount of carbon 14 normally found in the atmosphere and get an approximate date of death.

Ron P.

Confusing tow: oil is inorganic but comes from calcareous sediments which are of organic origin. Anyway...let's see the C12 dating.

BTW -- His being a geologist doesn't add much credibility IMHO. I've been told more lies by geologists the any other subhuman creature. LOL

Anyway...let's see the C12 dating.

Not a chance Rock. Carbon 14 decays into nitrogen 14 with a half life of 5,730 years. It dates the time of death of the plant or animal. It is only accurate up to about 50,000 years but can give a rough estimate up to about 100,000 years. After that there is not enough carbon 14 left to measure.

Carbon 12 is stable and does not decay. But carbon dating compares the ratio of carbon 14 to carbon 12 to determine how many years since the organic matter was alive.

Even though oil was once organic material, or alive, it cannot possibly be dated with carbon dating because it is way, way too old. And obviously if it is abiotic, or inorganic, it cannot be dated because it was never alive.

And besides, no lab in the world would be stupid enough to try to carbon date oil.

Ron P.

That was kinda my sneaky point Ron. Remember the claim was that it was less than 100 yrs old. A silly debate for sure but I was getting a little burned out on the BP well.

IIRC there are two things done with carbon isotopes. You measure the C13/C12 ratio - stable isotopes - to try to determine whether a carbon deposit is of biological origin. Biological photosynthesis tends to reject C13, so it's deficient in deposits of biological origin. That's one way you try to tell biotic hydrocarbons from abiotic ones.

You measure C14 radiation to determine when a biological deposit was laid down - if it was laid down very, very recently, the half-life being only 5730 years. That works because cosmic rays continually create small amounts of C14 in the upper atmosphere, which gets fixed into plant material and ultimately, perhaps, eaten by an animal. At the surface, the rate of creation of C14 is negligible, so once the carbon has been fixed, the C14 decays away.

Unless someone in the pro-abiotic crowd can point to some spot on the map where we can tap directly into this big ongoing oil generation factory it doesn't really matter if it exists or not

Good point RM, I'll have to remember to ask the next proponent of abiotic oil I run into, where he suggests that we look for that mother of all taps and if he's willing to foot the bill for drilling the well. You can be sure I'll ask you to help drill it if they're willing to put their money where their mouth is. >;-)

BTW, I was really just annoyed at the lack of logic this individual displayed in that even if his process did indeed produce oil, it just kicks the source can, down the road, to the elements in the crust.

So OK, let's all just admit that oil is abiotic and elements in the crust are still a finite resource. So now we have peak elements in the crust and we still can't produce the abiotic oil at flow rates that make economic sense, even if we knew where the mama tap lies. Oh, and not to mention that niggling little issue of those already depleted oil fields that for some unknown reason are not being replenished by this deep crust elemental process. Oh, it might take a little while, like a couple of hundred million years or so...

Check mate, Mr. Abiotic Oil Man!

So the Earth's deepest crust is capable of producing infinite quantities of elements?

The argument is that oil is being created at a faster rate than humans are consuming it (current consumption being a bit over a cubic mile per year). Clearly, such a process is finite; but if "finite" means it will continue at the current rate for a few million years, then one can treat it as infinite for planning purposes.

There are two real problems with the abiotic oil hypothesis:

  1. It is not currently testable. We can't drill to the depths necessary to find it, and may never be able to drill that deep. I would also suggest that the technology that might drill that deep would require that we move beyond oil as an energy source, in which case the question is largely moot.
  2. We find lots of oil in the places that the biotic hypothesis predicts we will find it. I believe that the abiotic advocates argue that oil traps will catch oil no matter its origin, and that the biotic hypothesis simply identifies one form of trap.

Einstein claimed that stupidity is infinite so burning morons ought to solve our future energy problems. Just have to figure out how to efficiently dehydrate them before throwing them into the boiler. For all we know morons may contain more water, likely between the ears, then the more intelligent folks. The average human is 70% water therefore your average 200 lb moron is at most 60 pounds dry weight. Of this 60 pounds a significant percentage is bone which may be even higher among the bone headed. Now we are getting into net energy problems similar to ethanol and oil shale.

It's posts like yours that make TOD my goto place for careful, thorough, and thoughtful analysis!

It would have nice if you could have thrown in a couple of colorful graphs, though.


Einstein claimed that stupidity is infinite so burning morons ought to solve our future energy problems.

That would be too easy. I believe in the principle that our universe doesn't allow us to obtain infinite energy. Therefore the burning of morons is an endothermic reaction. (endothermic means it absorbs rather than gives off energy.

Well maybe we'll get lucky and discover that there is a correlation between being a moron and being obese...


Here is how it happens: The human body, which is 85 percent water, burns outside to inside in a rapid cycle of layer-by-layer dehydration and ignition. The heat dries out the skin; the dry skin ignites. That fire dries out the next layer of muscle and fat, which then ignites. And so on, until the internal organs are consumed.

According to B&L President Steve Looker, who designed the Phoenix II, the average body gives off a modest 1,000 Btu per pound of meat (burning wood, by comparison, gives off 6,000 Btu).[4] But an extremely obese corpse - like the one Rapp recently had to burn in its casket because it was wedged in so tightly - can run to 17,000 Btu. "That's like burning kerosene," says Looker. The Phoenix II takes these differences into account and carefully regulates the amount of oxygen entering the retort to ensure a controlled, efficient burn.

Don't you just love all the information you can find with the help of Google?!

Australian geologist John Clarke http://aca.mq.edu.au/People/jclarke.htm posted this rebuttal to the abiogenic oil theory in a forum that I've lost the link to so here is the whole thing:

The fact remains that the abiotic theory of petroleum genesis has zero credibility for economically interesting accumulations. 99.9999% of the world's liquid hydrocarbons are produced by maturation of organic matter derived from organisms. To deny this means you have to come up with good explanations for the following observations.

1) The almost universal association of petroleum with sedimentary rocks.

2) The close link between petroleum reservoirs and source rocks as shown by biomarkers (the source rocks contain the same organic markers as the petroleum, essentially chemically fingerprinting the two).

3) The consistent variation of biomarkers in petroleum in accordance with the history of life on earth (biomarkers indicative of land plants are found only in Devonian and younger rocks, that formed by marine plankton only in Neoproterozoic and younger rocks, the oldest oils containing only biomarkers of bacteria).

4) The close link between the biomarkers in source rock and depositional environment (source rocks containing biomarkers of land plants are found only in terrestrial and shallow marine sediments, those indicating marine conditions only in marine sediments, those from hypersaline lakes containing only bacterial biomarkers).

5) Progressive destruction of oil when heated to over 100 degrees (precluding formation and/or migration at high temperatures as implied by the abiogenic postulate).

6) The generation of petroleum from kerogen on heating in the laboratory (complete with biomarkers), as suggested by the biogenic theory.

7) The strong enrichment in C12 of petroleum indicative of biological fractionation (no inorganic process can cause anything like the fractionation of light carbon that is seen in petroleum).

8) The location of petroleum reservoirs down the hydraulic gradient from the source rocks in many cases (those which are not are in areas where there is clear evidence of post migration tectonism).

9 ) The almost complete absence of significant petroleum occurrences in igneous and metamorphic rocks (the rare exceptions discussed below).

The evidence usually cited in favour of abiogenic petroleum can all be better explained by the biogenic hypothesis e.g.:

10) Rare traces of cooked pyrobitumens in igneous rocks (better explained by reaction with organic rich country rocks, with which the pyrobitumens can usually be tied).

11) Rare traces of cooked pyrobitumens in metamorphic rocks (better explained by metamorphism of residual hydrocarbons in the protolith).

12) The very rare occurrence of small hydrocarbon accumulations in igneous or metamorphic rocks (in every case these are adjacent to organic rich sedimentary rocks to which the hydrocarbons can be tied via biomarkers).

13) The presence of undoubted mantle derived gases (such as He and some CO2) in some natural gas (there is no reason why gas accumulations must be all from one source, given that some petroleum fields are of mixed provenance it is inevitable that some mantle gas contamination of biogenic hydrocarbons will occur under some circumstances).

14) The presence of traces of hydrocarbons in deep wells in crystalline rock (these can be formed by a range of processes, including metamorphic synthesis by the fischer-tropsch reaction, or from residual organic matter as in 10).

15) Traces of hydrocarbon gases in magma volatiles (in most cases magmas ascend through sedimentary succession, any organic matter present will be thermally cracked and some will be incorporated into the volatile phase, some fischer-tropsch synthesis can also occur).

16) Traces of hydrocarbon gases at mid ocean ridges (such traces are not surprising given that the upper mantle has been contaminated with biogenic organic matter through several billion years of subduction, the answer to 14 may be applicable also).

The geological evidence is utterly against the abiogenic postulate.

EDIT: If anyone can confirm/deny the veracity of the authorship of this, please speak up. Googling shows it many places on different forums.

So far as I know, the authorship is correct. That was the abiotic oil FAQ at PeakOil.com. I don't know if he wrote it especially for them, but they did get his permission to post it.

There is a rebuttal to these points posted here: Where do we go from here? (Oil part III)

According to this guy oil has biotic markers because it picks them up on the way up from the mantle to the reservoir where it is found. And no oil has been found in igneous and metamorphic rocks because no one has drilled there yet.

Well hell, why didn't you guys think of that? ;-)

Until this evidence is provided, biotic oil theory cannot be considered a scientific theory but a pseudoscientific one. Clarks points have been refuted where relevant, and dismissed where not.

Ron P.

It's not true that nobody has drilled there. Thomas Gold got some people to finance the drilling of several very deep wells into crystalline rock. These wells produced very little oil. The presence of this oil was provocative. There was no convincing proof that the oil was of abiotic origin.

From my understanding of the topic, I agree with Clarke: to say the evidence is thin may be a gross understatement.

I was asked recently to provide an opinion on abiotic oil and here is what I wrote:

As for abiotic oil, it does exist. It can be created under laboratory conditions of intense heat and pressure (in a diamond anvil press) and very small amounts have been found in the earth's mantle. Trace amounts of abiotic natural gas exist in commercially available natural gas in amounts around 200 ppm.

However, no commercially interesting quantities of abiotic oil or natural gas have been discovered anywhere in the world. They should be found along major faults in continental shield areas where sedimentary rocks are not present but the list of empty boreholes is now getting long-ish.

The author's assertion that there could be large amounts of "young oil" is not born out by any published research. All commercial oil shows evidence of biological origin. At one point it was possible to say that the abiotic oil theory still needed to be tested but that point is now probably passed and the verdict is in: we are still having trouble finding a single barrel of abiotic oil never mind millions of barrels of the stuff. I'm afraid Mr. Landau's offer to check the age of the oil would be a waste of time and money.

I occasionally edit papers for the Uppsala Global Energy System Group. My information comes from a forthcoming survey paper to be published in Marine and Petroleum Geology that I edited called "Development of oil formation theories and their importance for peak oil." It traces the origins and development of both the biotic and abiotic oil formation theories and includes the very latest research.

The paper has been accepted and the link is below:

I highly recommend reading the paper. Very worth the time.

N.B.: To make sure there is no confusion here, I have no input into the content of the paper...it's all the great work of the people at Uppsala University. I just help with editing the English since for many of the authors it's not their first language.

Edit: My apologies. Of the four authors only one is from Uppsala University (Mikael Hook). One author is Ugo Bardi from the University of Firenze and two authors, Feng Lianyong and Xiongqi Pang, are from the China University of Petroleum.

Proof that art imitates life...

BP oil-spill spoof goes viral
Comic video based on Gulf disaster pulls in nearly 7 million hits in two weeks

See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/bp-oil-spill-spoof-goes-viral/a...


Great spoof. Notice the words "Peak Oil" on the white board behind the "chairman" at 35-38 seconds into the video...

E. Swanson

Looks like the PO message is getting out subliminally.

hmmmm... or maybe it's not so subliminal anymore. Perhaps it really is on the whiteboard in plain sight of even the executives.

"Field Museum examines climate change"

For anyone who is in the neighborhood, the Field Museum is well worth a visit. I did some volunteer work there a few years back, and got to see quite a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff, including the room where they use special beetles (dermestids, IIRC) to clean bones for displays.

There are some free days this year, which lightens the load of admission price :-


Definitely planning to see this exhibit, which opened yesterday.

For anyone interested, here is the Chicago Climate Action Plan :-


Addendum :
For anyone asking why Chicago doesn't have a Peak Oil plan, I'd argue that many of the steps to be taken are the same.

And in case some are still celebrating the anomalous winter...

"We've now had seven countries in Asia and Africa, plus the Asian portion of Russia, that have beaten their all-time hottest temperature record during the past two months. This includes Asia's hottest temperature of all-time, the astonishing 53.5°C (128.3°F) mark set on May 26 in Pakistan."


I think I saw this exhibit last summer, when it was in NYC. (The article says it was organized by the American Museum of Natural History, so I assume it's the same exhibit.)

I dug around on my hard drive and posted a few photos.

It cost extra when it was at the AMNH. I think it's extra at the Field Museum, too, and I don't know if it's included in the free days.

I think it's the same one. One can get into the museum itself for free, but the special exhibits are extra. Thanks for the pics ! - I am still going to go ;)

Friday night failures:

Regulators close banks in Fla., Ga., NM

WASHINGTON — Regulators on Friday shut down banks in Florida, Georgia and New Mexico, lifting to 86 the number of U.S. bank failures this year.

An interesting article about the DWH incident:


Until now, public investigations into the April 20 spill have asked what went wrong. But what one gleans from this report -- and in particular this diagram -- is that that may be the wrong question. Instead we should be asking, how did everything that had to go wrong do so, and at the same time? For the well operators, the implications are not good: Unless one violated standard industry practice every step along the way, such a blowout may have been all but impossible.

But hey, that NO judge who was invested in BP was right...overturn that pesky 33-rig moratorium and let's get back to business...an incident like DWH couldn't possibly happen again anytime soon...

Instead we should be asking, how did everything that had to go wrong do so, and at the same time?

To be clear, I'm not trying to minimizing this tragic event or excuse BP. Their executives should rot in jail.

However, that statement could be flipped around for any number of things to explain that which we think is extraordinarily unlikely to have happened...but did.

You know, the most amazing thing happened to me tonight. I was coming here, on the way to the lecture, and I came in through the parking lot. And you won’t believe what happened. I saw a car with the license plate ARW 357. Can you imagine? Of all the millions of license plates in the state, what was the chance that I would see that particular one tonight? Amazing…

Richard Feynman:

Heisenberg, of all people, I expect better from you >;^)

News item: US about to increase crude oil proven reserves! Well... if or when the Pensacola Tar Sands are added to our proven reserves. ;-)

Ron P.

Costner cleanup device gets high marks from BP

Sounds like what we use to make olive oil


Interesting - didn't know his scientist brother was involved.

BP has also put up a video explaining how they intend to use the devices -
Costner centrifuge technology .

Deployment of this barge should allow skimmers to stay at sea longer, since they will be able to offload their captured oil & water mixture to the barge rather than having to return to land.

Here we are, almost three months into a oil demand surge for the US, and there has been barely a peep out of other posters (except memmel and a few others) concerning one of the fastest increases in oil demand in many years. Frankly, no expert anywhere predicted just how strong US oil product demand growth would be this year. Regular readers of the TOD might otherwise assume by the number of negative economic posts here that the US economy was circling around the bowl heading for a deflationary economic and price collapse.

According to the EIA,
Oil product demand in recent weeks has been running 1.2 million bpd over last year’s comparable month. Keep in mind that the EIA predicted total 2010 US demand growth would be only 200,000 barrels per day. So if present trends continue, oil demand growth would be six times greater than what the EIA has told us.

Granted there are many possible things could inhibit US growth later in year, not the least of which are a catastrophic failure at the oil leak site resulting spillage reaching oil ports, any number of hurricanes, a collapse in the value of the dollar or some other financially related collapse, and - need I remind anyone - peak oil and resulting fall in net exports by oil producers.

However until one of these things happen, US oil demand greatly exceeds everyone‘s, and I mean everyone’s expectations.

I think it's hard to get too excited about the EIA figures because they changed their methodology in April. That makes it hard to compare with the previous figures. They are planning big revisions to last year's figures, but that won't be for awhile. At least last I heard.

I really don't know what to make of the EIA's numbers for US oil production either. They seem to be totally disconnected from the ups and downs of GOM production. For instance in November 2009 total US C+C production was 5,466,000 barrels per day, up 44,000 bp/d from the previous month. However GOM production for November, according to the MMS was 1,540,000 barrels per day, down 158,000 bp/d from the previous month.

A similar situation happened in March of this year. Total US production was 5,513,000 barrels per day, up 48,000 bp/d from February. But MMS has GOM production for March at 1,514,000 bp/d, down 140,000 bp/d from February.

Looking at the data going back several years there seems to be little correlation between the EIA's numbers for US C+C production and the MMS's data for GOM production.

GOM production peaked in September of 2009 at 1,739,000 barrels per day. The latest numbers published by the MMS had March production at 1,514,000 bp/d, down 225,000 bp/d from the peak. However the numbers for the latest months seem to inch upward slightly each month. So it is likely that the March numbers will be revised upwards. But the revision is never very much. I would not expect it to be greater than 5,000 bp/d.

Ron P.

We are now indisputably in the recovery phase from the recession we've been in. Ilargi and Stoneleigh over at theautomaticearth.blogspot.com are flat out wrong to deny that the recovery is real. I do not expect unemployment rates to decline much, if at all, until the official growth rate in real GDP exceeds 4.5% for a quarter or two.

Because of the economic recovery, demand for oil and the amount of oil imported into the U.S. have both increased recently. This increase is likely to continue so long as real GDP grows at least 3% per year.

IMO there is still some excess capacity for oil production out there--but I don't know how much. Maybe somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 mb/day, maybe more than 3, maybe less than 3. I agree with Skrebowski that Peak Oil will probably be in 2014.

I am nearly complete agreement with you here. It is one thing to discuss the possibility of poor economic times, it is another to deny that at least for now a recovery is in progress.

The main engine of economic growth here appears to be business restocking of inventories. That probably is occurring for two main reasons - inventories were run down too low to 'get ahead' of the economic downturn, which also initially lead to a rapid rise in unemployment, and as memmel recently explained, the credit crunch of 2009 just made it difficult for businesses to operate.

There is also another, maybe somewhat ironic factor, recently at work here. The panic buying of the US dollar away from the Euro reduced the cost of oil - and correspondingly increased US demand for oil products. In adiition, for various reasons like new interenational fuel standards for maritime uses, US refiners are increasing their exports too - albeit from a very low level. Possibly this is also due to the low dollar prices or conversely high prices elsewhere.

"business restocking of inventories..run down too low"

If that is the right explanation (and I think it is likely), that sound like a very shallow and very temporary *adjustment* not any kind of real "recovery."

And if it is also partly based on a dip in oil prices---how long to you expect THAT to last?

Ilargi and Stoneleigh over at theautomaticearth.blogspot.com are flat out wrong to deny that the recovery is real.

I actually think they are quite justified in being pessimistic about the financial realities. And this is the key:

And that covers just one meaning if the term "depression". The other, and more obvious, one, is financial. It’s not seasonal either, and no matter who tells you what, we are in a depression, hidden from view only through seizing and spending today the future tax revenues of generations to come.

Amen to that.

Don, the recovery you refer to just ended (in the US). It last about 12 months. Housing is rolling over again after brief 9 month period of stability, led by government intervention. No macro data exists that supports the notion of an economic recovery, and the unemployment situation in the US is now moving into its long-term, structural phase. Indeed, there is no question that an inventory led recovery took place and that the economy in a general sense climbed out of its acute collapse phase. But, it is now wobbling along at much lower levels.

I'm forecasting that QE 2.0 is imminent. The FED will cite housing, and the emerging economic shock from the Gulf Coast as the rationale for a new round of asset purchases. They will also cite all time lows in 30 year mortgage rates at the same time housing starts its next leg down.

We are now indisputably in the recovery phase from the recession we've been in.

For such a statement to be something other than philosophy or belief, it would have to be backed up by data. Housing, Autos, Jobs, you know...stuff like that.

The Automatic Earth folks have called the underlying conditions pretty well. Where they have been most wrong however is in their ideology: they remain convinced that deflationary pressure means pan-deflationary outcomes. They have been disproven already on this score. Reflationary policy on a massive scale has hardly been without effect.



Just let Don go back to sleep. Do Not Disturb.

"For such a statement to be something other than philosophy or belief"

Hey, their economists. At root, that's all they've got.

Do you consider three consecutive quarters of real GDP growth to be "philosophy or belief."

By the way, it makes no difference whether you use official numbers or shadowstats.com numbers: The recovery is real and there is NOT ONE SHRED OF EVIDENCE that it has stopped. At the end of the third quarter we'll wait a couple of months and see if growth continues its run of consecutive growth in real GDP numbers.

Before you make nonsensical statements, check the numbers: Then you will be less likely to put your foot in your mouth.

As for Ilargi and Stoneleigh, every quarter that goes by without financial collapse makes them look more and more as if they have bought into the myth of apocalyptic collapse.

And by the way, some of my best friends are economists, and they are in no way deserving of your scorn. I dare say your ignorance of economics is vast and deep, because apparently you do not understand what economic growth is or how it is measured.

Before you make nonsensical statements, check the numbers

Statements that include "numbers" can, and often do, constitute nonsensical statements.

Some say the numbers can't be wrong.
But do you remember when Enron released its "numbers"?
How about Bernie Madoff?
How about any other organization that wants to make itself "look good" in the eyes of investors, customers or regulators?

Some of my best friends are economists, and they are in no way deserving of your scorn.

Don, you are very correct there sir.
We are all flesh and blood.
We are all subject the edge-you-Cajun that our respective cultures impose on us from birth.

Economists are no more guilty than every other specialized profession within our society. They're doing as they were trained to do.

On the other hand, please don't cast scorn on those who dare to suggest that the Emperor might be naked.

[As for] Ilargi and Stoneleigh, every quarter that goes by ... makes them look more and more as if they have bought into the myth of apocalyptic collapse.

That's funny. Economist Paul Krugman is having similar strange ideas as of late.

Some of my best friends, also, are economists.

I do not make my assessments based on emotional attachments, but apparently you do. You seem to think that this makes you a more rational observer.

Economics, in the words of Herman Daly, is a ideology parading as a discipline.

It is the ideology most responsible for the current destruction of the planet.

How many of your precious main stream economists accurately predicted the impending world-wide financial melt down?

Why should we think that they can accurately predict anything else, if the couldn't see that elephant charging towards us.

You seem to be unaware that many in the discipline of economics are undergoing some soul searching in the face of such utter and total incompetence.

Perhaps you should try some of the same.

Actually the credit markets have already turned down again (as of the end of April), and where they lead, the real economy will follow, as it always does. This is not a recovery. It has been nothing but a counter-trend rally, like the great sucker rally of 1930, but on a larger scale. We said when it began that by the end some of the fundamentals would look somewhat less awful and that people, would go back to thinking we were crazy. Those green shoots of recovery that you hear so much about are gangrene.

Credit expansions are Ponzi schemes, and like all Ponzi schemes the end result is not in doubt. Credit expansions generate excess claims to underlying real wealth, and the extinguishing of those excess claims is deflation by definition. No market ever moves only in one direction though, as markets are fractals. There will be many rallies as we slide down the "slope of hope" (Bob Prechter's term). It will take a while before people realize that we are in a depression, just as it did in the 1930s.

I think you are right for the longer term: Declining oil imports into the U.S. and declining domestic production will produce a thirty year long depression--which may include a bout of increasing inflation and possibly even hyperinflation.

Economists look at a whole bunch of numbers. The numbers that are out there today (makes no difference if you use shadowstats.com) show a weak 3 quarter recovery. Probably the second quarter of this year will show more growth in real GDP; but of course we have to wait for the numbers, and then wait for revisions to the numbers a month later. Based on anecdotal evidence only, I think the 3rd quarter of this year will also show more real growth in GDP. (My crystal ball is cloudy for the 4th quarter of 2010.)

You expect a downturn in real GDP. All right, sooner or later it will indeed turn down. When exactly do you expect the current recovery to reverse itself?

The monthly EIA report, which usually incorporates various revisions, is only available for March figures. Demand didn't really start to increase at faster than a 2% rate until April.

Granted that there may be problems estimating domestic output, and in addition, I already made an earlier post about how product exports are poorly measured in the weekly report. Still I have no doubt that the EIA will have to make some kind of upward revision to its demand estimate unless the economy goes into the tank rather soon - which if it did, would not be directly related to economic demand, but rather failure of supply or financial panic.

"Lobster Catch-22"

Another "Easter Island" moment...

Bite the bullet now, and possibly allow the lobster population to recover, if they have the means to do so, or just fish them out to the last one, and then have the industry die.

Lobster is just so interesting from a peak oil perspective. They used to be plentiful and cheap. The cockroach of the ocean, picked up off the beach by poor people who couldn't afford fish. People would be embarrassed to be caught eating lobster, and would hide the pot of lobster stew behind the kitchen door if company came over unexpectedly.

Lobster became a luxury food is when they started shipping it to the cities, away from the coast. (By rail, at first.) The expense of shipping it is what made it a luxury food. Only the rich could afford it.

I did not know that - that *is* interesting.

In Cape Town we used to walk in to the water and pull them out from between the rocks, and cook them on the beach, in season. Only ones of a certain size could be caught, and not females with berry (eggs).

That was before I gave up seafood (except for the occasional farmed Tilapia).

embarrassed to be caught eating lobster

Where will it all end?
Next thing people will be eating snails.

People do eat snails, Escargot being a favorite of mine.

Unless you meant that as sarcasm, Snails have been eaten for several thousand years.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world,
Hugs From Arkansas.

According to a friend of mine who lives on Cape Cod, there is still a law on the books in Massachusetts that limits how often prisoners can be forced to eat lobster.

The National Geographic Channel is airing a How the Earth Changed History marathon today. Right now, they are showing "The Human Era," the episode about the impact of mankind on the planet.

They did a segment on the tar sands, complete with EROEI.

The worm turns for pipeline operators - new PHMSA Advisory Bulletin. Note that planning cannot take into consideration resources presently deployed for the DWH cleanup.

Billing Code: 4910-60-W
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
[Docket No. PHMSA–2010–0175]
Pipeline Safety: Updating Facility Response Plans in Light of the Deepwater Horizon Oil
AGENCY: Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA); DOT.
ACTION: Notice; Issuance of Advisory Bulletin.

SUMMARY: PHMSA is issuing an Advisory Bulletin to operators of hazardous liquid pipeline facilities required to prepare and submit an oil spill response plan under 49 CFR part 194. In light of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which has resulted in the relocation of oil spill response resources to address the oil spill, PHMSA is reminding operators of their responsibilities to review and update their oil spill response plans and to comply with other emergency response requirements to ensure the necessary response to a worst case discharge from their pipeline facility.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Hess, Director for Emergency Support and Security, (202) 366-4595 or by e-mail at PHMSA.OPA90@dot.gov. Additional information about PHMSA may be found at http://phmsa.dot.gov.

PHMSA is the Federal safety authority with responsibility to ensure the safe, reliable, and environmentally sound operation of the Nation’s pipeline transportation system. Pursuant to authority delegated under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, 33 U.S.C. 1321, and Executive Order 12777, 56 FR 54757, Oct. 18, 1991, PHMSA has issued regulations in 49 CFR part 194 that require operators of onshore pipeline facilities to prepare and submit oil spill response plans to reduce the environmental impact of oil discharges. Operators of onshore pipelines that could reasonably be expected to cause significant or substantial harm to the environment by
discharging oil into or on any navigable waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines must prepare and submit to PHMSA an oil spill response plan. The plan must be individually tailored to the geographic location of the facility and contain detailed procedures for responding, to the maximum extent practicable, to “a worst case discharge and to a substantial threat of such a discharge.” Among other requirements, operators must calculate the worst case discharge scenario for the facility and develop procedures for responding to such a scenario, including identifying and ensuring, by contract or otherwise, necessary resources for the response. Plans must include immediate notification procedures, spill detection and mitigation procedures,
training, and a drill or simulation program. Operators are required to review and update their response plans at least every five years, but must immediately update a plan if new or different operating conditions or circumstances would affect full implementation of the plan. Such modifications are required to be submitted to PHMSA within 30 days under § 194.121(b)(8).

In addition to submitting plans to PHMSA, operators must maintain their response plans on-site for inspection by PHMSA during field audits. PHMSA has also prescribed safety standards for hazardous liquid pipeline facilities governing emergency response in 49 CFR § 195.402. Operators must have emergency response procedures that require, among other things, having sufficient resources available at the scene, taking necessary action (such as emergency shutdown) to minimize the volume of hazardous liquid released, controlling released hazardous liquid, and minimizing public exposure to injury.

Operators must also maintain liaison with emergency responders and other appropriate public officials, and coordinate preplanned and actual emergency responses. PHMSA regularly inspects operators’ compliance with these requirements during on-site inspections.

On April 20, 2010, an explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon mobile drilling unit, approximately 40 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, led to a massive release of crude oil from a well on the sea floor. The oil spill is estimated to be the largest offshore spill in United States history. The catastrophic event, which has proven to be far worse than originally estimated, is diverting resources from all over the Nation to the areas impacted by the spill and potentially affecting the availability of resources identified in pipeline operators’ oil spill response plans, resulting in circumstances that could affect full implementation of pipeline operators’ plans.

While offshore drilling is not governed by 49 CFR part 194, PHMSA is reminding onshore hazardous liquid pipeline operators of their responsibilities under such regulations to review, update, and maintain their oil spill response plans to ensure that each plan: properly calculates the worst case spill scenario for the pipeline facility; identifies and ensures by contract or otherwise sufficient resources to respond, to the maximum extent practicable, to such a discharge; and evaluates the identified resources’ remaining capability given the ongoing relocation of resources to the Gulf. PHMSA will not consider it “practicable” to list resources for responding to a worst case discharge, if such resources are, or are requested to be, relocated to respond to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill until such resources are returned. Operators must conduct this review and submit any updates to their oil spill response plans as set forth in § 194.121 within 30 days.

Operators are further reminded of their responsibilities to maintain their response plans on-site, to conduct regular drills of their plans, and to maintain the necessary liaison with emergency responders and other appropriate public officials. PHMSA intends to evaluate operators’ performance of these efforts during upcoming field audits.

Advisory Bulletin (ADB-10-05)
To: Operators of Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Systems.
Subject: Updating Facility Response Plans in Light of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Advisory: Operators of onshore pipelines that could reasonably be expected to cause significant or substantial harm to the environment by discharging oil into or on any navigable waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines must prepare and submit an oil spill response plan pursuant to 49 CFR part 194. Among other requirements, a response plan must include a proper calculation of a worst case discharge and identify the available resources to respond. (See also 49 CFR Appendix A to part 194).

The April 20, 2010, explosion and subsequent fire on the Deepwater Horizon mobile drilling unit in the Gulf of Mexico has led to a massive release of crude oil from a well on the sea floor. The oil spill has proven to be far worse than originally estimated and is diverting resources from all over the Nation to the areas impacted by the spill, thereby potentially affecting the availability of resources identified in pipeline operators’ oil spill response plans.

In light of these circumstances, PHMSA is stressing to operators their responsibilities under 49 CFR part 194 to update their oil spill response plans to ensure the necessary response to a properly calculated worst case discharge. In accordance with those regulations, operators of onshore hazardous liquid pipeline facilities must review their oil spill response plans and update, as necessary: the calculation of a worst case spill scenario for their pipeline facility; the identification of resources needed to respond, to the maximum extent practicable, to the scenario; and an assessment of the resources’ remaining capability given the ongoing relocation of resources to the Gulf. PHMSA will not consider it “practicable” to list resources for responding to a worst case discharge, if such resources are, or are requested to be, relocated to respond to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill until such resources are returned. Operators must conduct this review and submit any updates to their oil spill response plans as set forth in the applicable regulations within 30 days.

PHMSA requests that operators who find no need to update their plan following this review still notify PHMSA at the above contact information within 30 days, with the reasons no updates were needed. Operators are also asked to confirm that drills have been performed at the frequency specified in their plans. Operators whose response resources have been, or are subsequently relocated to the Gulf to respond to the Deepwater Horizon event should also notify PHMSA.

Operators are further reminded of their responsibilities to maintain their response plans on-site and to maintain the necessary liaison with emergency responders and other appropriate public officials. PHMSA intends to evaluate operators’ efforts during upcoming field audits.

Issued in Washington, DC on June 23, 2010.
Jeffrey D. Wiese,
Associate Administrator for Pipeline Safety.
[FR Doc. 2010-15682 Filed 06/25/2010 at 8:45 am; Publication Date: 06/28/2010]

For those who were participating in yesterday's discussion of reserve growth, this morning I posted a link to Richard Nehring's presentation from the 2007 ASPO conference:

Unfortunately, his video is no longer available and I didn't grab a copy of that but the presentation has enough text in it to be understandable.

EPA to Hold Public Meetings on Hydraulic Fracturing

Now, Alternet writes that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hosting four public meetings across the country on hydraulic fracturing and its potential impacts to our drinking water. The meetings are intended to give the public some information on the EPA’s study and design regarding hydraulic fracturing and enable comments on the agency’s draft study plan.

The Economist has a special report on debt: Repent at Leisure.

Looking at this whole debate from the sidelines, it's really odd when you see half the economics profession yelling "Spend & take on more debt or all is lost" and the other half screeching the same thing about austerity. Thus, I think it's reasonable for an outsider to conclude that fast economic growth is over for many of us since it's obvious that huge indebtedness is dangerous and that cutting government spending will reduce growth. Stagnation it is, then.

Looking at this whole debate from the sidelines, it's really odd when you see half the economics profession yelling "Spend & take on more debt or all is lost" and the other half screeching the same thing about austerity.

So it really all boils down to the odds of a coin toss. Heads we lose, tails we lose... would you like to know who wins?

Nature bats last.

this whole DEBT debate

Like I was a saying elsewhere, "DEBT" is a psycho-econo-linguistic frame word that actually defines a promise.

The PROMISE is this: Give me something of value today
and I will deliver to you something of greater value tomorrow.
Trust me. My "credit"-ability is good.
Moody's AAA

When we break it down, the "something of greater value tomorrow" is equal to principle plus interest.

There was a time when people could make good on this promise.

But now, the "credit"-ability of the promise is becoming more and more questionable.

Florida is doing a TV ad campaign to bring the tourists on down:


I saw these ads today while on the treadmill....Navarre's beaches have never looked better...crystal-clear water everywhere...1260 miles of coastline...857 miles of beaches...come on down!

Some commercials (These aren't the ones I saw I think...I saw ones mentioning Santa Rosa and Crystal River):


Seems like FL has not yet been hit with tar/oil in any major way...hopefully it will stay that way...the beaches on the 'Redneck Riviera' are really nice...

Hopefully if FL is spared the residents won't get a sense of invulnerability and throw all in for 'Drill, Baby, Drill'....

I don't know where you've been, but Wed. morning revealed a huge swath of the beaches near Pensacola covered in emulsified oil glop. The pan-handle has certainly not be "spared."

How long till other parts of FL get plastered with the goop is anyone's guess.

Has anyone found info about the slop hitting other countries? Cuba? Jamaica? Mexico?...