Drumbeat: August 18, 2010

Filling the Gas Tank With Something Else

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Most research on renewable energy has focused on making electricity, which now comes from burning coal and natural gas. But the spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the reliance on Middle East imports and the threat of global warming are reminders that oil is also a pressing worry. A lot of problems could be solved with a renewable replacement for oil-based gasoline and diesel in the fuel tank — either a new liquid fuel or a much better battery.

Yet, success in this field is so hard to reliably predict that research has been limited, and even venture capitalists tread lightly. Now the federal government is plunging in, in what the energy secretary, Steven Chu, calls the hunt for miracles.

The work is part of the mission of the new Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy, which is intended to finance high-risk, high-reward projects. It can be compared to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, part of the Pentagon, which spread seed money for such projects and incubated a variety of useful technologies, including the Internet.

How to Exit the Age of Oil: Closing the Renewables Gap

We are living in a time when the theory of unlimited economic growth is running into the reality of limited energy sources. To solve the problem, it is commonly thought that renewables are simply a drop-in replacement for oil, gas and coal – but many experts are warning about the faultiness of that assumption.

Feds: No timeline for completing Gulf relief well

NEW ORLEANS -- The government's point man on the Gulf oil spill is no longer giving a timeline for completing the final stages of plugging BP's runaway well for good.

BP to Bring in Well Device as It Awaits U.S. Orders

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc plans to bring a new blowout preventer to its Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, site of a record oil spill, as it awaits instructions from U.S. officials on how to proceed with final plugging.

BP's long road to regaining consumer confidence in its brand

HOUSTON -- The protesters have stopped coming here to wave angry signs in front of BP's large office campus. The boycotts of BP gas stations are tapering off, too -- both signs that the energy company's plug of the spewing oil well is quieting its loudest critics.

The shouting may be over, but rebuilding the company's badly tarnished brand will prove a much harder task -- one that advertising and oil industry experts say could be nearly as daunting as stopping the oil that gushed into the Gulf of Mexico for more than three months.

Michigan oil firms face tougher regulations

Two recent high-profile oil spills, one in the Gulf of Mexico and a second that despoiled the Kalamazoo River, could result in tighter restrictions on Michigan's $1.2 billion oil and gas industry.

State Sen. Glenn Anderson, D-Westland, has proposed amending Michigan's constitution to hold oil companies and other businesses accountable by allowing residents to sue for damages from corporate pollution, and eliminating taxpayer subsidies that help polluters clean up spills.

In the face of energy 'insecurity'

Scarcity of critical natural resources can be a huge setback. Especially, at a time when two of the most promising economies globally are competing for a head start in growth.

Saudi buys extra gasoline cargoes, say traders

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia has bought at least three to four extra cargoes of gasoline for September to November, traders said on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia typically imports between 60,000 bpd and 70,000 bpd of gasoline monthly, but traders said it was buying more following maintenance at one of its refineries.

Europe Gasoline/Naphtha-Shut arb pressures crack

LONDON, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Gasoline crack spreads came under pressure on Tuesday as traders faced an unprofitable arbitrage on exports to the United States from September, removing a critical outlet for European product.

Traders are set to make a loss of $4.50 a barrel from sending export grade gasoline to the United States next month, swaps showed.

Unpaving is Progressive

Jim Kunstler could have predicted this, of course — and did, in “The Long Emergency.” The system of subsidized infrastructure on which the car culture and the long-haul trucking industry depend is unsustainable. Absent intensive maintenance, asphalt highways deteriorate rapidly until axle-breaking potholes render them impassable to eighteen-wheelers. As state and local governments are plagued by increasingly severe fiscal crisis, as part of the death spasms of corporate capitalism, and Peak Oil drives up the price of asphalt for roads, governments will defer maintenance on more and more “secondary” roads, retreating and regrouping to a smaller and smaller core of highways that are maintained regularly enough to support heavy trucks.

Is the U.S. turning a corner on high-speed rail?

For generations, much of the nation has been forced to use cars, buses or pricey aircraft to travel to nearby cities. But this year, Washington opened the door to what may be a historic turning point in regional travel.

The Department of Transportation awarded $8 billion among 31 states to begin developing America's first nationwide high-speed intercity passenger rail service.

Break up Big Oil to aid people, planet

Instead of accepting that there must always be big oil companies and an energy industry that pollutes, fails to innovate, and always puts profit ahead of the planet and the people who live on it, why not ask whether the current corporate arrangements are appropriate to the 21st century?

That is hardly a radical response to a crisis. Remember that Teddy Roosevelt and the trust busters of a century ago made it their business to break up big energy combines.

Longman profile: Mike Van Boeckel

What do you think are the key issues for the region and how you will make a difference to address them?

Environment, population, transport access. I will advocate for net zero population growth, which will take pressure off both the natural and built environment, for increased funding for Public and Mass Transit, and lobby to reintroduce The Greens’ Senate Bill to direct the Government of the day to study the effects of Peak Oil on Australia.

Bill McKibben: Why has extreme weather failed to heat up climate debate?

The world is experiencing the hottest weather on record but politicians have failed to respond. They need a wake-up call.

Heinberg - Peak Everything: Preface to the paperback edition

In titling this book “Peak Everything,” I was suggesting that humanity has achieved an unsustainable pinnacle of population size and consumption rates, and that the road ahead will be mostly downhill—at least for the next few decades, until our species has learned to live within Earth’s resource limits. I argued that the industrial expansion of the past century or two was mainly due to our accelerating use of the concentrated energies of cheap fossil fuels; and that as oil, coal, and natural gas cease to be cheap and abundant, economic growth will phase into contraction. I further pointed out that world oil production was at, or very nearly at its peak, and that the imminent decline in extraction rates will be decisive, because global transport is nearly all oil-dependent, and there is currently no adequate substitute for petroleum. Finally, I noted that the shift from growth to contraction will impact every aspect of human existence—financial systems, food systems, global trade—at both the macro and micro levels, threatening even our personal psychological coping mechanisms.

Nothing has happened in the past three years to change that outlook—but much has transpired to confirm it.

Delusions Abound on Energy Savings

“Participants estimated that line-drying clothes saves more energy than changing the washer’s settings (the reverse is true) and estimated that a central air-conditioner uses only 1.3 times the energy of a room air conditioner (in fact, it uses 3.5 times as much),” the researchers wrote.

Perhaps more to the point, people seem conditioned to think of energy savings as they would of saving money: that they can save by simply reducing use, the study found. But the biggest energy savings are tied to replacing things that use a lot of energy with things that use far less.

Habits like turning out the lights when leaving a room may be virtuous but don’t move the needle much on energy savings. Yet that action was cited by more of those surveyed (19.6 percent) than any other method of saving energy. By contrast, just 3.2 percent cited buying more energy-efficient appliances.

On Land, Air and Sea, a Retrofit Mission

Want to stimulate demand for renewable energy? Send in the Marines.

That was Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’s message when he outlined plans to slash the Navy and Marine Corps’ dependence on fossil fuels during an appearance on Monday evening at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club.

Time to close the global energy gap

If you are reading this article, you most likely have electricity and heat at home and never think of that fact as at all remarkable.

Yet more than two billion people - one in three people on our planet - have no access to modern energy to light and heat the dwellings in which they live.

Iran gas ambition requires China to crack LNG secret

LONDON - Iran is unlikely to become a big exporter of natural gas unless China — a crucial partner as international sanctions scare others off — can develop tricky technology to liquefy the country’s massive gas reserves.

Iran sits on the world’s second-largest gas reserves after Russia but U.S. trade restrictions have frustrated plans to develop them for export and booming domestic demand has made Iran the third-largest consumer and a top-30 importer.

Boon or bane?

POLISH politicians have of late tended to avoid saying anything that smacks of bipartisan consensus. One exception has been the near-universal belief that, thanks to abundant reserves of shale gas, the country is set to become "a second Norway", a land of energy-fuelled plenty with a highly functional state and exemplary social justice.

Oil group weighs petrol price increase recommendation

A committee of UAE oil companies has been set up to monitor petrol prices as part of an effort to reduce losses incurred by retailers.

Power without the people

In the political power corridors where the Ontario government's green energy regime is legislated, regulated, discussed, manipulated, twisted, turned and imposed on the people, one group keeps cropping up: the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA). Among other things, the OSEA claims prime responsibility for the Ontario Green Energy Act, the 2009 legislation that introduced massive subsidies to green energy and triggered multibillion-dollar spending on wind and solar power and new transmission infrastructure.

'The duty to consult'

Aboriginal rights issues are cutting a wide swath in the energy sector, touching everything from resource extraction to liquefied natural gas facilities, transmission lines and pipelines. So much so that one industry pundit has maintained that all of Canada's new supply sources for oil and gas have at some point been "tied up" with aboriginal rights claims.

Among the projects affected are the $50-billion oil sands development in Alberta, the $500-million Kitimat liquefied natural gas terminal project in British Columbia, and the Maritime pipelines project.

Hood: No decision yet on whether Miss. will sue BP

JACKSON, Miss. -- Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said Tuesday he hasn't decided yet whether to file a state lawsuit against BP over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Hood said he's taking time to evaluate possible claims for damages created by the spill or by chemicals used to break up the oil. He said determining the environmental impact on fish, for example, could take months or longer.

BP Oil Mess Leaves Gulf Vietnamese Jobless, Prey to Boat Scams

Many Vietnamese were left out when BP hired fishermen to work on their own boats laying boom lines, transporting supplies or assisting with wildlife rescue, in part because of the language barrier.

Meanwhile, attorneys have descended on the crisis. According to Scire, many Vietnamese fishermen are signing papers they don’t fully understand and are vulnerable to exploitation. Stories abound of opportunists who demand fees from idled fishermen in exchange for boat jobs that BP had been allotting free of charge.

Oil spilled. But hysteria did the real damage in the Gulf

The saddest sight this week has been of America's first family taking a quick one-day holiday in Florida. Crashing visitor numbers and plummeting fish sales have devastated the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. There is talk of an 80% drop in revenues in some resorts. Yet figures show just 16 of the state's 180 holiday beaches are at all polluted, while the bulk of the spill appears to have dispersed, or be dispersing out at sea. Having hyped the disaster for political purposes, the president is now frantically trying to play it down.

Toxic levels of oil found in gulf area crucial to fish

Researchers describe 'a constellation' of oil droplets mixed with sediment. Phytoplankton, the base of the marine food web, is found to be in poor health nearby.

Dates or oil? Iraq's farmers fear gold rush

ZUBAIR, Iraq (Reuters) - Jaleel Jabr al-Fartusi has worked his acreage near the oil hub of Basra since 1970 but could lose it in Iraq's post-war rush for the black gold that lies below the plot he harvests for tomatoes and cucumbers.

Contracts awarded to global oil firms that could boost Iraq's production capacity to 12 million barrels per day from 2.5 million now are a possible lifeline for a country left in ruins by decades of war, sanctions and economic decline.

Solar plans lit up by $5bn fund

Countries in the MENA region with little or no oil and gas deposits are endowed with abundant sunlight and sparsely occupied land – resources that could make the region a renewable energy powerhouse.

The World Bank is providing Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria with a total of US$5.5 billion (Dh20.2bn) in funding for solar projects to be completed by 2015. The projects’combined electricity generation capacity of 9,000 megawatts would equal nearly the total installed power capacity of Abu Dhabi.

Statoil Considers Sites in Scotland for World's First Floating Wind Farm

Statoil AS, Norway’s largest energy company, plans to build a demonstration site testing its “floating” offshore wind turbines and is considering two sites off the Scottish coast.

Statoil is also considering Norway and the U.S. state of Maine to test the commercial potential of its “Hywind” project, said company spokesman Oistein Johannessen today by telephone. It plans to decide on the site in 2011, he said.

Climate Change Debate Rises with Pakistan Floods

"Global warming results in catastrophic weather events. The recent floods are a result of climate change, undoubtedly," insisted Simi Kamal, a geographer and water specialist.

"Above-normal temperatures in the Indian Ocean give rise to increased precipitation. And in the north of Pakistan, when moisture-riddled wind currents collide with the mountains and are pushed up into cooler altitudes, moisture is released in the form of cloud bursts," added Khalid Rashid, a mathematician and physicist who studies changes in global weather patterns. "This is what seems to have happened this year."

Others are cautious about making categorical conclusions about links to climate change, but agree that weather patterns have been changing, becoming more extreme and more unpredictable.

Russia's grain ban showcases Egypt's love of bread

CAIRO – Russia's temporary ban on grain exports is stirring both political and economic anxiety in Egypt, the world's largest wheat importer where half of the 80 million residents rely on subsidized bread to survive.

Russia, which supplies more than 50 percent of Egypt's wheat imports, had announced a temporary ban on grain exports earlier this month because of a drought. In addition, Ukraine on Tuesday said it plans to halve grain exports for the rest of the year.

The Russian move predictably sent global grain prices higher. But for Egypt, it carried serious political and economic implications, and came at a delicate time for a government already accused of corruption and ignoring the needs of the poor.

City bees show a richer diet than bees from farmlands

Bees in urban and suburban settings have a richer, healthier diet than bees in farmland settings, say researchers.

Honeybee hives from 10 National Trust sites were studied in an attempt to assess the link between bee health and the diversity of pollen they encounter.

Bees from farmlands showed a distinctly narrower range of pollens than both urban and untouched "natural" settings.

Cape Cod Waterways Face Pollution Crisis

ORLEANS, Mass. — Rising nitrogen levels are suffocating the vegetation and marine life in saltwater ponds and estuaries on Cape Cod, creating an environmental and infrastructure problem that, if left unchecked, will threaten the shellfishing industry, the tourist economy and the beaches that lure so many summer visitors.

Cuba plans 7 Gulf of Mexico oil test wells - U.S. group

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba plans to drill seven exploratory oil wells in its Gulf of Mexico waters over the next two years, according to a U.S. organization that visited the Communist-ruled island to discuss energy development.

Sarah Stephens, executive director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas, said meetings between energy experts she brought to the island in July and Cuba's state oil monopoly Cubapetroleo (CUPET) left no doubt about the Caribbean nation's determination to develop its offshore oil reserves.

Oil falls on report showing rise in US supplies

Oil prices fell below $75 a barrel Wednesday after a report showed U.S. crude supplies swelled last week, renewing concerns about demand for fuel in the world's largest economy.

...The gains ran out of steam after the American Petroleum Institute said late Tuesday that crude inventories rose sharply, by 5.87 million barrels, last week, against market expectations for a drop in supplies.

Inventories of gasoline and distillates also rose, the API said.

Why OPEC Doesn't Mind Low Oil Prices

When most people think of the Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries ("OPEC"), they think of a cartel that tries to keep oil prices artificially high so that its members can continue to reap huge profits. For a few years now, however, oil prices have been relatively low due to lackluster demand caused by the recession in the U.S. and abroad. Indeed, many Americans have likely noticed that the price at the pump has been well below its 2008 highs. Is OPEC concerned that prices have remained so low? Not necessarily. In fact, it views low gas prices as a good thing, for now.

U.S. Sees No `Recent' China Pressure on Oil Companies in South China Sea

The Pentagon hasn’t seen any “recent” Chinese intimidation of global oil and gas companies operating in the South China Sea, according to Robert Scher, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last month offered to help resolve territorial disputes in the waters, irking China, which claims the sea as its own. In June, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called the waters an “area of growing concern” and objected to efforts to intimidate corporations.

Lebanon parliament passes offshore drilling law

BEIRUT (AFP) – Lebanese MPs passed a law on Tuesday authorising exploration and drilling of offshore oil and gas fields which have fuelled tensions with Israel over maritime borders.

"The law on the exploration of offshore oil and gas reserves has been passed by parliament," a senior official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Mexico eyes deeper oil drilling in shadow of Gulf disaster

SONDA DE CAMPECHE, Mexico (AFP) – Firefighters leapt forward with a gushing hose on a Gulf of Mexico oil rig as fake victims were stretchered off in a practice run following BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The Mexican drill came amid fears of a repeat catastrophe, and as producers like Mexico chase reserves into deeper and more dangerous waters.

Kosmos Drops $4 Billion Sale of Ghana Assets to Exxon Mobil on Opposition

Kosmos Energy LLC, the U.S.-based oil explorer focusing on West Africa, ended its plans for a $4 billion sale of fields in Ghana to Exxon Mobil Corp. after government opposition to the deal.

The company will focus on further exploration of Ghana’s deposits and together with partners plans to start pumping oil from the offshore Jubilee field in the fourth quarter, Dallas- based Kosmos said today in a statement. The field, operated by Tullow Oil Plc, will reach 120,000 barrels a day of production next year.

Rockhopper Exploration Says Ernest Well in Falkland Islands Found No Oil

Rockhopper Exploration Plc said it found no oil in an exploration well at the Ernest prospect north of the Falkland Islands. The shares slumped.

Woodside Delays Pluto LNG Expansion on Drilling Results; Profit Rises 40%

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. delayed a decision to expand the A$13 billion ($11.7 billion) Pluto gas project until 2011 after its exploration campaign progressed slower than expected, Chief Executive Officer Don Voelte said.

Two of the Cheapest Stock Markets in the World

Kraus is particularly bullish on Russia not only because it is cheap, but because he believes the price of many commodities will rise. “Peak Oil is a mathematical certainty,” he says. Not in the sense that we are going to run out of oil, but that prices will rise as we reach for more expensive sources of oil.

“And it’s not just oil,” he continues. “Grades of copper, and nickel and bauxite ores are now being mined, which no one would have bothered digging up a couple of decades ago… Peak water! A lot of places are running dry, and this will have scary effects upon agricultural prices.

Australia's `Depressing' Clean Energy Policies Deter Investors

The Arkx Clean Energy Fund’s managers are Australians who don’t have a dollar invested in Australia, a stance that’s unlikely to change after the Aug. 21 election.

“We want to invest in Australia, but you cannot invest in a country that doesn’t have regulatory clarity and, worse, where the policy direction is changing every six to 12 months,” said Tim Buckley, manager of the fund in Sydney.

Abbott: WorkChoices is no more

Opposition leader Tony Abbott was not a great believer in the peak oil concept, he told the Brisbane meeting last night.

As technology increased more oil reserves became more accessible, he said.

"At the right price we have a lot more reserves than we think.

"I'm not saying it is limitless but I am saying it is not as finite as we think.''

The Moore the merrier as Kevin joins race

New Plymouth's latest mayoral candidate was once banned from the institution he hopes to lead.

Self-styled environmental campaigner Kevin D Moore is the sixth man to enter the race for mayor and the most controversial.

In July 2008 he was prohibited from entering the New Plymouth District Council's civic centre building after front-line staff complained about his aggressive campaigning for council to prepare for the effects of climate change and peak oil.

Take cues from old world cities

A Vancouver architect says Port Moody could be a model of “peak oil” planning with a little creativity and openness to European-style development.

Richard Balfour has teamed up with the Port Moody Waterfront Community Interest Group, which wants Murray Street linked to the city’s downtown core and transformed into a waterfront urban village.

Vestas cuts 2010 forecasts, shares plunge

COPENHAGEN (AFP) – Shares in Vestas slumped on Wednesday after the Danish wind power group cut this year's earnings and sales targets following a second quarter loss.

The company, the world leader in the wind turbine industry, a key component in efforts to combat carbon emissions, said 2010 sales would now come in at six billion euros (7.7 billion dollars), rather than seven billion euros.

Wind power plans for Taiwan-held islets near China

TAIPEI (AFP) – Taiwan's Penghu group of islands plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to expand their wind power capacities, an official said Wednesday.

Offshore Penghu County has set aside more than 10 billion Taiwan dollars (312 million US) for wind turbines and other hardware, the development bureau official told AFP.

Jeff Rubin: Economic fears prevent action on emissions

Every year seems to furnish us with more and more graphic images of global climate change. And yet, other than the temporary reprieve we got during the world’s deepest postwar recession, there seems to be no let-up in the growth of global carbon emissions.

Of course as long as emissions don’t cost anybody anything, why would we expect any halt in emissions growth? After all, the engine of global economic growth still runs on burning coal and oil. And we’re certainly no closer to putting a price on carbon emissions today than we were before the much-anticipated global environmental summit in Copenhagen last December.

The Coming Flood of Climate Refugees

What happens when a country's immigrant population doubles in the span of two decades? Nations scramble to prepare as flooding and water scarcity precipitated by escalating environmental catastrophes cause millions to spill across international borders. As America absorbs its share of refugees, we'll face the economic and security ramifications of a threat that we still haven't collectively acknowledged.

How much extra oil production can one get by using hydraulic fracturing?


Or is that something unique to the Bakken geology?

It seems like oil from oil shale is very similar to shale gas, in that the profitability of the business depends a lot on what assumptions a person makes about the shape of the decline curve and how often hydraulic fracking must be repeated. Also, how long the well will be able to produce. Oil is a more valuable commodity than natural gas, so that may help the economics somewhat, but we really don't know until some more analysis is done.

I am optimistic that we will be able to have a post analyzing the situation--but it will be a while.

Thanks. Please include EROI calculations too; based on Ird's post (below) it's not making economic sense to me.... Those rigs have got to cost more per day than what I'm thinking here.

This is confusing oil shale/kerogen and fracing for oil which sounds weird. I thought oil was in capped reserviors not in strata of shale. I thought they were doing horizontal drilling.

You are even more confused than you think. ;-) Shale oil from the Bakken has nothing to do with kerogen or the Green River shale. They are totally two different things. The oil in the Bakken is real oil, not kerogen.

Fracking or really fracturing breaks up the shale, real shale not marl or marlstone as in the (misnamed) Green River shale, and allows more oil to be freed up. Fracturing is often done in conventional fields. It frees up more oil for a time, as it did in Prudhoe bay, but the decline line soon was right back to where it was before the fracturing.

There was a discussion about this and Prudhoe bay on this list way back when but I cannot seem to bring it up right now.

Ron P.

I said it was NOT kerogen.
It's NOT 'oil shale'(Gail) but oil trapped in shale strata.
I thought I was clarifying but no good deed goes...

Bakken is probably an illusion.

Early numbers generated from this information placed the value at 200 BBbls later revised to 300 BBbls when the paper was presented in 2006."[10]. In April 2008, a report issued by the state of North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources estimated that the North Dakota portion of the Bakken contained 167 billion barrels (2.66×1010 m3) of oil[5].....
While these numbers would appear to indicate a massive reserve, the percentage of this oil which might be extracted using current technology is another matter. Estimates of the Bakken's technically recoverable oil have ranged from as low as 1% — because the Bakken shale has generally low porosity and low permeability, making the oil difficult to extract — to Leigh Price's estimate of 50% recoverable.

1% recovery of 167 billion resource?


At least real oil shale and oil sands have a recovery of over 10% of OOIP.

hi gail,

I am optimistic that we will be able to have a post analyzing the situation--but it will be a while.

i am updating my database and will email you something in the next weeks or so.

How much extra oil production can one get by using hydraulic fracturing?

It depends who you ask. I recently asked an engineer (who was selling Bakken properties) what the average daily production was from a horizontal well in the Bakken. He told me, "Five thousand barrels a day for about three years, then it starts to drop off."

Yet according to the North Dakota state government data no horizontal Bakken well has averaged much over 1000 barrels per day for an extended period, and the average decline seems to be about 40% in the first year.

In 2007 there were 457 Bakken wells in North Dakota producing an average of 44 barrels per day. By 2009 there were 1341 wells producing an average of 101 barrels per day. It is a reasonable assumption that all of the additional producing wells were drilled in 2007 or later, and that most of them were horizontal wells with a major effort in fracturing. Three years after completion, horizontal wells average about 100 barrels per day (figures compiled from published per well monthly production), with not one well producing over 400 barrels per day. Note that these averages do not take into account wells which were abandoned in less than three years.

That's not really impressive. If I didn't know that it was Bakken I would have assumed that this was data for an old field in PA.

Ird - Did you buy into any of his properties? How could you pass up a chance like that when a well is doing over $400 million gross in just 3 years. Was that engineer drinking or did he think you were drunk? LOL.

I'm not very familiar with Bakken production profiles but if the wells really are averaging 100 bopd after 3 years then that's not too shabby. That's around $2 million/yr net. I suspect most of the wells that did produce were still doing so after 3 years: you only need 5 bopd or so to keep a well pumping economicly with the prices we've seen.

How economic they are should be as much a function of total well cost as the production rate. I haven't seen any estimate of current typical hz costs in the Bakken. Typically fracture production's high initial rate justifies the high cost: quick payout. But the high decline rates catch up fast. But from the numbers you offer it doesn't seem as though the Bakken suffers as harsh a decline rate as many of the other fractured shale plays.

You guys have a feel for the current sales price per barrel for proven low cost shallow oil reserves, with developmental potential, in the Lower 48?

are you aware of apache's acquisition of bp's permian basin properties ? i doubt this fits your criteria of shallow low cost production. apache paid $3 billion for 141 million boe, 15,000 bpd 81 mmcfd.


That's $21/boe, which is pretty close to what I was guessing, around $20. Of course, I assume that that near 100% oil production would warrant a higher price, probably around $25.

EL/WT - I tend to look at another metric given I seldom know if the reserves are BS or not. It's the price per bbl-day of the production rate. So $3 billion/15,000 bopd is exactly $200,000 per bbl-day. The highest I saw a few years ago was $140,000 per bbl-day. Thus I would say they paid a premium on a cash flow basis.

Of course, you need to plug in the NG production on the Apache/BP deal.

Regarding per bpd prices & costs, if memory serves lots of tar sands projects were incurring capital costs of about $120,000 per bpd. I think that Shell's project might have been approaching $200,000.

BTW, are you suggesting that my new field discovery doesn't have close to East Texas size reserves? Incidentally, I saw something that I don't recall seeing before (at least not over a low GOR oil reservoir) on a West Central Texas DST. We tested a shallow, low GOR oil reservoir, and it flowed oil to surface on the test, but what caught my attention was that the initial flow pressure was 50% of the shut-in pressure.

You're leaving out the gas in the calculation. Big deals like the one described go for about +/- $100,000/bopd and +/- $10,000/mcfpd. It looks to me like Apache paid about $130,000/bopd and $12,000/mcfpd.


I didn't buy anything, because our investor decided he didn't like the vendor even before we had time to properly evaluate the properties.

The cost for drilling and completing these wells was quoted to us as $5-6 million. So even at the average of around 100bopd after three years someone would be making money (apart from Halliburton etc.).

It does seem that there is money, and a reasonable amount of oil, to be made from the Bakken. It just doesn't add up to a new Saudi Arabia as some claim. I'd guess there is room for a few thousand more wells (the newer wells have a 1280 acre spacing, one per two square miles, and the prospective area of the Bakken is probably no more than 20,000 square miles or so). An ultimate total of 20,000 wells producing a hundred barrels a day is 2 million barrels a day, which is quite significant, but still less than 20% of Saudi Arabia's claimed productive capacity. Of course, that assumes new wells will perform as well as the existing ones, which is always a doubtful assumption: we try to drill the best locations first.

That also assumes that all 20,000 wells are drilled simultaneously, or that if not they have zero decline (and maybe zero depletion, like the SA wells?).

Spaced out, drilling 1,000 per year, that is about 100,000 starting, and eventually, maybe, 200 to 250 KBPD?

We need the oil, don't get me wrong. It is just a stretch to call it anything like Saudi Arabia!


Spaced out, drilling 1,000 per year, that is about 100,000 starting, and eventually, maybe, 200 to 250 KBPD?

I'm afriad you are soon going to be off. Here is a chart of North Dakota oil production since 2004. Essentially all of the new production since about 2007 has come from the Bakken. That's almost 200K bpd.


It will easily reach 400K bpd, possibly 500K bpd, and likely more. In addition there are vast amounts of undrilled real estate containing the Bakken in Montana. The shale goes all the way over to the Rockies.

We'll have to see what the numbers end up looking like. Drill more wells in less time, and, yes, you can have a few pretty good years.

How many wells are being done now? How many committed? At what cost per well?

Supposing a second dip at recession, and a deepening depression in demand, is there a capital network committed to developing no matter what?

Keep in mind, increasing the flow rate may look good today; if we see a sudden 20% decline per year because of that, well, I would not be impressed.

Also, note that my grandchildren need to see a fair amount of oil pumped when they reach their majority. That would be from 6 to 19 years from now. I just don't think what will be available then will be adequate to the needs of 7 Billion plus individuals on this little finite planet. Saying that oil companies can make a profit today doesn't really give me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

La, la, la, la, la, la, live for today.


"Five thousand barrels a day for about three years, then it starts to drop off."

5.5 million barrels ?

the most any bakken well has produced is the petro-hunt usa 2d-3-1h, just over 1 million barrels and declining at about 30-40 percent per year. ultimate may be in the 1.3 million barrel range.

Current Operator: PETRO-HUNT, L.L.C.
Current Well Name: USA 2D-3-1H

Pool: BAKKEN Perfs: 10167-13689 Comp: 10/9/2006 Status: F Date: 10/9/2006 Spacing: SEC
Cumulative Production Data
Pool: BAKKEN Cum Oil: 1010398 Cum MCF Gas: 1336462 Cum Water: 11668

Pool Date Days BBLS Oil
BAKKEN 6-2010 30 13965
BAKKEN 5-2010 31 15429
BAKKEN 4-2010 30 15485
BAKKEN 3-2010 31 16558
BAKKEN 2-2010 28 15595
BAKKEN 1-2010 31 18172

Canadian Dollar Climbs for Second Day After BHP's Hostile Bid for Potash

Canada’s dollar rose for a second day versus its U.S. counterpart as speculation that a purchase of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. will eventually proceed raised the prospect of further demand for commodity producers.

BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s largest mining company, made a hostile $40 billion takeover offer for Potash, the world’s largest fertilizer producer. Canada derives about half its export revenue from raw materials.

Hi, everyone. With the prodding of various people, Greer and I revised the graphic that depicts his model of technic societies.

Differences from the previous version include:

  • fossil fuel curve is now asymmetric rather than symmetric (the so-called "shark fin"); in reality it will still be bumpy but the overall decline rate will likely be steeper than the ascending rate because a contracting economy has difficulties an expanding one doesn't
  • the Salvage Societies period is now longer
  • periods of great social upheaval now included that last a couple decades at the beginning of the Scarcity Industrialism and the Salvage Societies stages

That Salvage Society will be in full swing when it costs about the same or less in terms of money and energy to reuse already mined resources (i.e. steel in skyscrapers) than dig more out of the ground.

Greer's Stages of Technic Societies

"...Greer and I revised the graphic that depicts his model of technic societies."

And thats if we are very lucky and nothing goes wrong.

In fact I give it about a 25% chance.

Yep, the chance of us entering another Dark Age is definitely non-zero.

At the same time the future will be lumpy and different regions may have differing levels of technology.

Much of the world will (hopefully) be using appropriate technologies à la Schumacher.


And big portions of the world will still use cell phones (crosses fingers).

Of course, if anything like Wargames takes place, all bets are off.

War Games

I think the asymmetric shape is more realistic. It's worthwhile superimposing your own reasonable lifespan on that graph, in order to gain a more realistic appreciation of what to expect.

HI Andre,

"Wargames" the movie had a happy ending, didn't it?

Best hopes for the unexpected (in a positive sense).

By making it asymmetric I think they factored in more things going wrong...

And the "Scarcity Industrialism" period stretches out around 150 years, so it is a BIG PICTURE prediction. It goes generally downhill from here - so it evidently includes many things going wrong and failing.

I give it a 75% chance.

Enigma, I'm assuming that things will go wrong. One thing that has to be kept in mind with models of this kind is that they're very broad generalizations that leave plenty of room for variations on the ground. In this model, for example, the kind of economy and society listed is that of the dominant world powers at any given point in time, with other nations (and former nations -- failed states and anarchic regions will likely make up a very large part of the world in the future) moving down the curve at faster paces.

Here in the US, the aftermath of a failed empire and a shredded domestic economy may push us into the salvage economy category within a few decades if things go badly enough -- say, a Soviet-style collapse followed by civil war between red and blue states, ending with the country divided into quarrelsome fragments that prop up their failing budgets by selling the country's remaining natural resources to foreign buyers. (No, I don't think this sort of future is out of the question.)

As for a dark age, I'd put things much more strongly than Andre has. We are headed into a dark age; that's what happens when a civilization outruns its resource base and goes into overshoot. The question remaining at this point is which regions get to play the role of post-Roman Asia Minor (fairly high continuity of public order, economy and culture) and which get to play the role of post-Roman Britain (total collapse and depopulation) this time around.

I wonder if there is any database of "national economic crashes" from the historic record?

If one could plot the nation sizes of crashes versus time on one plot, and perhaps the size of nation versus speed of crash, we could get some idea of how the plots vary. Probably then WHT or somebody could say whether there were power-law or entropic distributions, and we could get some feel for the likelihood of a major, fast crash or a bunch of localized, small ones.

Regardless, I maintain that a crash is a personal-level event in the end -- when you lose your job and house in an economic crash, or your life at the hand of a thug in a social crash.

I imagine that a growing percentage of the unemployed would say the crash is already here, for them at least.

Paleocon, I don't know of such a database -- it would be a grand project, though whoever tackled it would have to have a much better background in econometrics than I do.

Your second point is of course spot on. History is a collection of averages sprinkled with anecdotes; some people undergo financial ruin when times are good, others do tolerably well even in the worst depressions. For a lot of people, the first stage of the crash is here -- though a lot of those same people may look back on their present straitened conditions as a fairly good time a decade from now, when they're living hand to mouth in tarpaper shacks.

This one "Fitting the Log Periodic Power Law to financial crashes: a critical analysis"

Hard to say whether the frequency or the strength of the crashes has greater significance. Or whether they relate as the longer the delay, the greater the crash. The unique part of their model is that they include a sinusoidal component to the power-law, which makes it much more deterministic than anything I work with.

Telescope, thank you for this! Definitely grist for the mill, though I'll want to study their model and their data set before making any particular comment on it.

JMG and Andre,

Glad to see you are in the revising mode. Now if I could just convince you that the physics (especially the energy balance part) of fossil fuel extraction precludes a long drawn out tail maybe we could begin to converge on a better estimate of probable scenarios.

Here is the basic energetics boundary conditions that would govern FF extraction:

Gross = total FF energy content, Cost = energy invested/spent to get and refine/use FF-based energy, Net = actual exergy delivered to point of use. The actual relative amplitudes of the peaks vary with changes in control parameters but the shapes and phase relations are always the same.

Note that EROI is essentially Net Energy/Energy Costs. The latter are rising meaning less net is available to the economy to do other work. Our tendency to focus on gross energy (i.e. units of raw energy such as barrels of oil) is misleading. The real issue is how much net are we delivering to the economy. I have also modeled the amount of work that can be done and the total of assets that can be accumulated net of entropy and consumption. But that is another story!

I have no idea where we could expect an actual cutoff due to above ground (political/social) phenomena. I suspect it will be long before net energy falls below something like half of what it is now. By the time that happens somebody is going to notice and get panicky. The point is that I doubt seriously that there will be much FF consumption during what you characterize as the latter part of the "Scarcity Industrialism" and "Salvage Societies". If you are thinking that FFs will play a role in those phases, you might want to reconsider in light of the physical (e.g. EROI) constraints that this model shows.

Question Everything


Fortunately we have abundant hydro, wind, solar and nuclear resources, all of which are delivering electricity most of which actually does useful work. FF( and biofuels) on the other hand generally deliver 15-50% of energy into useful work.

In the US hydro, wind and nuclear generates about a third of the electricity(3,000kWh/person/year) enough for a fairly comfortable lifestyle, I mean think about what energy use is really important and what is just extravagant consumption.

No reason to think that wind, hydro, solar and nuclear couldn't be expanded 3-30 fold, even if the EROEI is <20:1, and if people really insist on continuing extravagant consumption.


The point isn't about alternatives supplying make-up energy. It is about the use of fossil fuels. Their graph vertical axis is labeled "Fossil Fuel Use".

The adequacy of alternatives to fill the gap is another matter entirely.

It has been discussed on TOD many times how, when economic and social breakdown occur it isn't likely to be possible to simply 'dial down' the society to a level where the 'renewables' can carry the load and we can all shrink our houses and cars down to this new level. It seems more likely to me that we will experience a crash that will bypass the theoretical stages of cutting out extravagant consumption and powering down. I find the economic arguments to be most compelling. We may have energy available to use, but little left of financial infrastructure to be able to use it.

In a like manner, I can envision fields with crops going un-harvested next to cities where people are going hungry. Lack of a reasonable distributive economy could easily bring this about. It doesn't just take the availability of resources and social and political will to carry out the organization necessary, it takes a logistical capability to do so, and we are losing this steadily.

But at some point if you can't get the gas to run the pole replacement truck, your electricy from the green power plant is just sitting there doing no one any good.

Storm comes down your way, the Hydro dam breaks, the lines of power poles fall down, and your nice little city in the last days of empire, turns to dust in a week or so, or takes a few months to drift away as all of you had been depending on those power poles and those waterfall watts to keep the lights on and order in town.

Things happen to the best of plans, and if you just plan around having the windmills and nukes keeping your lights on, you will be sorry you did not plan for the act of God to tear your pretty world apart.

At some point, there will not be the supplies left to fix the broken parts, and things will change rapidly.

If you plan to live closer to the none-electric needed side of life, you will have less far to fall when the rug gets pulled out from under you.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.
Hugs from tornado alley.

George, I'm by no means sure that an overall net energy analysis adequately captures the complexities of energy use as that will unfold over the decades and centuries to come. The net energy of each deposit of each fossil fuel is different, after all; a low overall net energy for oil, for example, doesn't preclude the existence of some deposits in some places that still yield significant net energy.

If some critical technology you've got is designed to run on fossil fuels and nothing else, furthermore, it can be useful or necessary -- to extract those fuels at negative net energy, using some more readily available but less useful energy source to do it. It's not too hard to imagine, say, a dictatorship maintaining a modest supply of coal, for the old but still working power plants that give it a small output of electrical power, by the use of mass slave labor in the mines -- even if the total energy expended by slave labor is greater than the energy you get from the coal, the dictatorship might consider it worthwhile if there's a surplus of slaves and a real need for electricity.

More generally, the use of diffuse energy sources as a way to leverage remaining supplies of concentrated energy sources, such as fossil fuels, even at negative net energy, needs to be factored into projections of the future. In a world where human beings are one of the few things that aren't in short supply, the potential for using the sort of energy that built the pyramids is fairly high. That sort of energy could be used in a humane way; I'm sorry to say I don't expect this to be the norm.

Hi John.

My analysis should be looked at as an outer envelop for the aggregate of fossil fuels regardless of the mix. It is the physical limits of what can be done, the boundary conditions even if some local extraction were done at negative net. As you describe it, local negative net is certainly possible but eventually it would catch up and everything would zero out, so to speak.

As for using slave labor it has to be sustainable, as in the slaves need to eat to work. In all societies that relied on slave labor that I am familiar with, there was an ability to expand territory and increase net energy supplies to the center where there was a concentration of labor, up to the point of diminishing returns (a la Tainter or Homer-Dixon). I don't see that as feasible given that the world is now full and there is no place to expand.

I will be publishing a post on QE tomorrow that describes a technically feasible (I think) solution to the jobs problem we face now and the soil depletion problem we will face when fossil fuels are in short supply. If you have time you might find it interesting, even if, as I conclude, politically unlikely.

I've resisted incorporating the net energy discussion into my video and talks because I think the case can be made without it. It's an interesting feature for the wonks to discuss but it just won't make that much of a difference in an individual's life once the world really goes sideways, because, well, the impact will already be felt.

It wasn't slaves that built the pyramids. They were paid laborers, and some were quite skilled. Working on the pyramids may have been a civic duty - paying your taxes in labor. Or it may have been a way to keep people working when there was no other work available (during the annual Nile flood).

Yes, workers have to be fed...but they have to be fed anyway, at least if TPTB hope to remain in power. I could see this type of "workfare" being a popular solution to unemployment in the future.

I think you are being too kind to the Egyptian rulers Leanan. At any rate the debate rages on as to just how free the pyramid builders were. The claim that bones found prove the pyramid builders were not slaves or even indentured servants is very weak to say the least.

More Evidence Slaves Didn't Build Pyramids

The series of modest nine-foot-deep shafts held a dozen skeletons of pyramid builders, perfectly preserved by dry desert sand along with jars that once contained beer and bread meant for the workers' afterlife.

A dozen skeletons no less! Out of the tens of thousands of people who were required to build the pyramids they found a dozen that were buried with jars of beer and bread. This proves that at lease a dozen of them were not slaves. No doubt that the slave drivers were not slaves.

Anyway I think that this drive to prove that the pyramid builders were not slaves is nothing but a propaganda program by the Egyptian government to polish up their image.

Ron P.

There's a lot more evidence than that. Note your headline reads "more" evidence.

On the flip side...what evidence is there that they were slaves? A claim by Herodotus, who was famous for his inaccuracy? Bible-inspired legends claiming the Jews were forced to build the pyramids?


Every once in a while you hit one out of the park.

Unless the crunch arrives so fast (unlikely imo) that there is no time to implement them, "workfare" schemes without a shadow of a doubt are going to play a very big role in the lives of everybody;a typical citizen will be paying taxes to support them, working directly in one of them, or feeling the impact of the work done by the participants.

A key question is whether people who are the leading thinkers in the environmental and energy fields will have a lot to say about the actual work done by the participants.

Planting shade trees and windbreaks or clearing useless buildings off urban lots while carefully salvaging the materials in them to make the space available for gardening is obviously useful.

Restoration of an old fire house or some long dead rich guys house as a cultural artifact ot future tourist draw might be desirable in principle but it would be an utterly foolish use of scarce resources.

Unfortunately there are numerous well organized groups of people highly experienced at latching onto the govt teat to get thier pet projects funded and most such projects as they will succeed in getting funded probably won't be useful in terms of making the necessary transition to a low energy society.

Perhaps a Campfire discussion some night addressing the nature of potential workfare programs which would be the most useful ?

JMG - Thanks for responding to my quip.

My main issue is that IMO everyone who lays out a future scenario always makes a brief and cursory comment like...

"...the aftermath of a failed empire..."

...and then continues on with their opinion.

IMO what precedes this six word comment is THE determining factor in the future of mankind and to skip over it is highly irresponsible boarding on criminally negligent in that it breeds complacency.

Unless you believe that mankind has become less violent and more benevolent, which by the way you come just short of implying, the simple process often referred to as "the end of US empire" has a better that average chance of skipping us ahead 3 or 4 stages on that graph of yours and Aangles in a very short period.

I personally feel that people such as Chris Hedges have the right idea in pointing this out at every opportunity and calling for action. If more people, personalities in particular, join the call to arms then we might have a chance of attaining what I would call your gentle down slope.

EE: I agree that we are facing pretty bleak times ahead. I am looking at the question being: do we face a JMG future, or a JK/cfn future? That is why I agree that we need the call to action, for only by becoming a political force can we influence decision making at the levels needed to forestall the Emergency, and turn our path toward the Decline.

Not that I enjoy either prospect, mind. It is just that allowing ourselves to drift, and to fall without plan or purpose is, frankly, stupid.

So... my question is as it has been for some time, "What are we going to do about it?" My suggestion: a "Net roots" organization, directing attention toward a frank discussion of reality, and formulating plans for the WCS. Otherwise we just wait for TSTHTF.


Enigma, I didn't imply, and certainly don't think, that people have become more peaceful and benevolent, but ordinary human brutality doesn't justify the notion that worst case scenarios are the most likely option. The Soviet Union imploded without dragging the rest of the world down with it, despite a substantial nuclear arsenal; my take is that the US is headed in the same direction, though as I pointed out, the possibility of civil war here is a real one -- the last time political discourse was this dysfunctional in the US was in the years just before 1861.

As for the value of calls to arms and clamoring for action, well, that depends on what you have in mind. We've already seen in the case of anthropogenic global warming just how much influence a worldwide mass movement actually has over the decisions made by today's economic and political systems -- that is, effectively zero -- and peak oil doesn't have the media cachet of global warming, since it doesn't fit our civilization's basic story line of "Look how vast and powerful we are -- we could even destroy the world. Whee!"

To my mind, the actions that matter are personal and local, and focus on building the framework of skills and techniques we'll need as the existing technostructure comes apart around us. Not a popular stance, I know, but it does seem to be finding a modest audience.

The story is being framed, JM, by the people who for personal greed will sacrifice the future. I agree that matters begin at a local level. I wonder, though, whether we need cede the initiative to the Corporate elites...

Our 2008 election showed what sort of effect a focused net-based campaign could have. The President has forgotten how to lead, and has become shallow, IMO. That does not mean that the same people who listened to him would not listen to a well organized, directed and focused campaign to draw the world's attention to the dangers ahead, and the need to restructure - and to reassess their place in the family of man.

I greatly fear that, as the existing technostructure comes apart, there will be insufficient poeple with necessary skills and techniques for survival absent a directed time of instruction. What I see instead is neolithic neo-Cons advancing creationist textbooks in Texas, moronic mavens of suburbia prostylizing irrelevant efforts to stop American immigration in an effort to save 'what they have now.'

Even a long descent has perils associated with it that could spiral out of control. Abandoning the 'rest of them' and huddling together to 'save ourselves' is not much better than that, don't you think?


Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending August 13, 2010

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 15.2 million barrels per day during the week ending August 13, 172 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 90.0 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging 9.4 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production decreased last week, averaging 4.2 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 9.6 million barrels per day last week, up by 120 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 9.9 million barrels per day, 707 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 1.1 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 260 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 0.8 million barrels from the previous week. At 354.2 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 remained virtually unchanged last week, and are above the upper limit of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories decreased while blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 1.1 million barrels, and are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 2.4 million barrels last week and are in the middle of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 5.3 million barrels last week.

It was only a week or two ago, we saw some well placed business articles were telling us about the “collapse” of distillate demand and how demand was “falling off a cliff”. Even some TOD posters jumped in on that idea. This week’s inventory summary, and yesterday’s industrial production numbers should put to rest any idea that the economy has entered some type of ‘double dip’ recession – at least not yet.

US industrial production is up almost 8% over last year, and has been about that level for a few moths or so. That is closer to boom levels than double dip levels.

The total products supplied figure is up by 3.1 percent compared to the similar four week period last year. Gasoline demand is slowly increasing recently, and is up by 3.5 percent from the same period last year. The MasterCard weekly sales report, out yesterday, seems to confirm this trend. That is a very strong number when it is considered that total employment is still down from a year ago. The tendency to maintain BAU, as some other posters have noted, seems to be in effect here.

While distillate fuel demand is up by 5.8 percent as compared to industrial production increase of 7.7%, diesel demand may have been ‘frontloaded’ about a month or so ago in expectation of trucking needs, and is now re-adjusting.

Total products supplied were 589,000 bpd higher than the comparable four weeks of last year. Year to date growth in US oil product demand is now up about 401,000 bpd, as compared to the EIA’s expectations of 140,000 bpd. The IEA has similar expectations. It will be amusing to me to see how the EIA and IEA will eventually explain how they were so far off in their projections, well that’s if they ever do.

The report itself was not all that unusual as compared to recent weeks’ activity. Notable was the fact that US gasoline imports have picked up some. It’s not clear if that is a reaction to some short gasoline supplies in the areas of the US and Canada downstream of the Enbridge pipeline break in Michigan, or if there is surplus of gasoline in Europe, or both.

With offshore oil stored in tankers around the world now almost depleted (except near Iran), and OPEC’s export level at best stagnating and probably now slipping the last few months, any disruptions in supply or further increase in demand will reduce those oil inventories, often stated in the business press to be ‘excessive’, rather quickly.

US industrial production is up almost 8% over last year, and has been about that level for a few moths or so. That is closer to boom levels than double dip levels.

I don't think I buy that.

It's up over a very low baseline, if you're comparing it to last year.

It's still below average compared to "normal."

Here's the Federal Reserve graph of industrial production:


Considering how much industrial prodcution has improved, it should not be surprising to see a gain of 600,000 bpd over last year. We are still about 1.5 mbpd less than the average peak near the end of 2007.

It's improved. I'll buy that. But not that "boom times" thing.

I don't think you can read too much into one month's numbers. The reports are so mixed now, with some showing improvement and some showing the opposite. Not to mention the way the supposed gains are sometimes revised away in the next month's report.

My feeling, though, is that things are getting worse. I felt the opposite earlier this year.

Someone said months ago that the economy was at an "inflection point" and could go either way, and I think that's still true.

Industrial Production is almost back to 1999 levels.

Retail sales" In fact, growth in July headline numbers was driven largely by an increase in spending on gasoline. July's growth rate excluding auto and gasoline leaves the three-month average year-to-year growth rate of retail sales at 1.0%, well below the 3.5% for the prior three months."

Industrial production: "A large contributor to the jump in manufacturing output in July was an increase of nearly 10 percent in the production of motor vehicles and parts... which was mainly due to a large increase in light truck assemblies..."

These reports might support the idea that we will have a double-rally depression.

It's also back to early 2004 levels.


It's also back to early 2004 levels.

This is true but this does not change the fact that... from the link: "Manufacturing is not yet back at 1999 levels while overall industrial production is barely there." Meaning we are about where we were in 1999 but the population is nowhere near 1999 levels. Meaning that unemployment has, since 1999, increased at about the same rate as the population has grown... give or take.

Ron P.

That made no sense. Population and the unemployment rate have nothing to do with manufacturing and industrial production.

Population and the unemployment rate have nothing to do with manufacturing and industrial production.

Jesus, how on earth did you arrive at that silly conclusion? The if the population increases then manufacturing must also increase to provide jobs for the increasing population. How do you suppose the economy will provide jobs for an ever increasing population. By magic? No the industrial base must forever increase as the population increases, else the ever increasing population will be unemployed.

Okay, does that explain it or should I draw you another picture? It is not really that complicated AC.

Ron P.

The if the population increases then manufacturing must also increase to provide jobs for the increasing population. How do you suppose the economy will provide jobs for an ever increasing population. By magic? No the industrial base must forever increase as the population increases, else the ever increasing population will be unemployed.

This is about the most ridiculous and . . . flat-out stupid . . . thing I've read in a long while.

Did it ever occur to you that people can also work at banks, in law firms, as accountants, teachers, construction workers, in retail stores, as engineers, policemen, etc etc etc?? In fact, that's where most people work these days.

No, it doesn't appear that occurred to you. Breaking news to Darwinian: Not everyone needs to work in a factory. There are occupations other than industrial work.


I'm sure Ron hasn't missed that thought.. have you thought about our Service-skewed Economy, and how long we can keep things going that way? Those other jobs are part of the balance as well.. but beyond being in population overshoot, we're also seriousely off-kilter WRT our balance of jobs, and our resulting dependence on Imports. Manufacturing and Industrial jobs is a pretty vital piece of that puzzle..

Much of the Abundance is currently inside someone else's borders.. do you think Nafta is going to save us much longer?

I know what you're thinking. "Did he fire six employees or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a free Market, the most powerful economy in the world, and would blow your Trade Deficit clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well?..

I took the Ford River Rouge plant tour and watched F-150s being assembled. There are a lot of mechanized and automated operations in the plant, and most operations that would have involved multiple people lifting some assembly into place are done by one person guiding a robotic arm. Some operations like putting the windshield into the cab and mating the box to the cab are completely automated.

It simply doesn't require a lot of people to do manufacturing.

There are some products, especially in IT, where big fingers and imprecise human motions simply cannot do the job with the cleanliness and precision that is required.

Sure there are heavily automated and microscopic assembly systems.. and fabrication has done away with a great deal of labor.. but there are countless other trades, and particularly those labor-intensive ones have quickly moved offshore. Textiles, Food Processing and Furniture Construction come to mind.

This is about the most ridiculous and . . . flat-out stupid . . . thing I've read in a long while.

We don't normally use that kind of language on this list AC, but since you have begun the crap-fight...

Manufacturing is the base of the economy. The nation cannot support itself by everyone taking in everyone else's wash. That is basically what a service economy is, everyone is servicing everyone else and no one is manufacturing anything.

You either have an agrarian economy or a manufacturing economy. A little of both is the best of all possible worlds. If the manufacturing base is the same as it was in 1999 but the population has increased substantially, then this means we are moving to a state where we must support ourselves by taking in each other's wash.

And anyone who does not understand that is a little deficient in reasoning ability. (I would say they are just down in the dirt stupid but I never use language like that.) ;-)

Ron P.

Manufacturing is the base of the economy. The nation cannot support itself by everyone taking in everyone else's wash. That is basically what a service economy is, everyone is servicing everyone else and no one is manufacturing anything.

I'm afraid you still don't get it. For starters, read Merril's comment above. Second, take a look at the data and notice that, with interruptions by recessions, US industrial production has steadily risen they started collection data for it in 1919. Next, keep in mind that employment in manufacturing peaked in 1978 (source) - even though actual production continued to increase after that. So, even if you were right about the necessity of manufacturing in an economy (which is debatable, look at Hong Kong's economic make-up for example), you could have ever-decreasing numbers of manufacturing workers producing ever-increasing amounts of goods, and you would still have your "manufacturing based" economy. The rest of the population would simply work in services. If manufacturing is supposed to be the base of an economy, it wouldn't matter if only 1% of the workforce worked in manufacturing as long as their output was sufficient to provide the nation with whatever goods they needed.

Next, keep in mind that employment in manufacturing peaked in 1978 (source) - even though actual production continued to increase after that.

Exactly! I have been making this point for years. Though the terrible consequences of this seems to be totally lost on you. It goes right over your head.

I have been making the point that the economy must grow because: 1. The population is always growing so the economy needs to grow to give new jobs to these people. 2. Because advancing technology always means that more can be produced by fewer and fewer people. This throws people out of work. The economy must grow to give these people, thrown out of work by more production by fewer people, new jobs.

If manufacturing is not growing at least as fast as the population is growing... we are dying!

If manufacturing is supposed to be the base of an economy, it wouldn't matter if only 1% of the workforce worked in manufacturing as long as their output was sufficient to provide the nation with whatever goods they needed.

Good God, where have you been for the last quarter of a century? Our workforce produces only a tiny fraction of the goods we consume. China produces more of them than anyone else. Japan produces a lot, India a lot, Bangladesh a lot and so on.

We are becoming a service economy which is not sustainable by any stretch of the imagination. As I pointed out above, that would be like the nation's people making their living by taking in each other's wash.

Unless manufacturing is growing enough to absorb population growth then we are becoming a nation of doing each other's wash. That was the point you made when you called me stupid. You said people could become bankers etc. Right, they could but that would be going downhill, a people making a living by servicing the people. I.E. living by taking in each other's wash.

And it gets even worse. Even the service economy is being outsourced. Call for support on your new computer and you will get a service technician in India. And why are jobs disappearing. Is it any damn wonder. Manufacturing has already largely been outsourced and now we are even outsourcing the service economy.

Ron P.

Edit. Don't be so quick to call anyone stupid in the future. Get the facts first. You quite obviously spoke, or wrote, before getting the facts this time. Get the facts first and you will not be embarrassed again.

i think you left out baseball players, basketball players, football players, hockey players, nascar drivers, and tv,radio,internet and all the doctors and lawyers that support or oppose them and even all the universities that have to have a mediocre team and $$million mediocre coach's. i purposely left out rodeo clowns, goat ropers and barrel racers.

Population growth has everything to do with it. In order to 'break even' production must increase at aa rate equal to population growth, otherwise you are going down hill. Unemployment, or rather employment, dictates how many and who is consuming the products being manufactured.

I have had this discussion with several "Chicago School" adherents, and for some reason they do not (or will not, or can not, and I am not sure which) see a connection between people earning a living and people purchasing goods and services. Usually they mumble something about borrowing the money, and shuffle off to clip their bonds.


Production definately does not have to increase at a rate proportional to population growth in order to maintain the same economy. Not all jobs involve production of goods, some involve services like sales, or even intangables like cleaning, cooking, caretaking or maintainance. Jobs in the healthcare field aren't involved in production either.

You would be closer to the truth if had said... In order to break even, total employment must increase at a rate equal to population growth, but even that wouldn't be 100% true. A simple example would be an ecomony involving a total of 10 people who are each employed. A new person moves to the area, person 11, and can't find a job. The population has grown by 10%. Meanwhile persons 1-10 each get a 10% raise. When you average it out, the overall economy is no worse off. The same calc would be valid if 1 of the 10 got a 100% raise, and everyone else kept the same salary. The effects on individual industries might be totally different, but the overall effect would be the same. In fact, if one person got the whole salary increase, they might even hire person 11 to do some work around the house for them.

So, a better measure might be the sum total of salary paid to employees in an area as versus the population growth. "Production" has nothing to do with it.

Everything needed and desired needs to be made by SOMEBODY. Once that's done, excess labor could best be used to increase the efficiency of manufacturing, building other durable capital, generating sustainable food production, and otherwise contributing to the quality of life of citizens.

Those jobs which add only short-term value, or worse, are simply overhead (like most bureaucrats, tax accountants, and lawyers) do little to contribute to the long-term quality of life. Creation and consumption of short-term consumables may increase the quality of life short-term, but not long-term. Creation of durable goods, like the parks and bridges of the WPA which last many generations, are a better investment.

Mostly having jobs for everyone is a way to transfer and equalize income and work, but it's also a way for completely non-productive time uses to tax the productive as well.

Of course an awful lot of effort is spent creating and improving new people, which increases the scope of consumption as well as the needs for additional assets and long-term infrastructure. Fixing this issue is the most important task for humanity.

Manufacturing employment was about 11,717,000 employees as of July 2010 (BLS seasonally adjusted data). That is only 3.8% of the population of 307,006,550.

Warning, Bear Market 2010: 11 'sells.' Only 6 'buys'
New Normal: Bankrupt nation. Deflation. Zeros. Junk. No jobs. Depression


1. Buy Treasury Bonds:
2. Buy Income-Producing Securities:
3. Buy Consumer Staples and Foods:
4. Buy Small Luxuries:
5. Buy The Dollar:
6. Buy Eurodollar Futures:

11 "sells."

7. Sell U.S. Stocks in General:
8. Sell Homebuilder & Selected Related Stocks:
9. Sell Selected Big-Ticket Consumer Discretionary Equities:
10. Sell Banks and Other Financial Institutions:
11. Sell Consumer Lenders' Stocks:
12. Sell Low & Old Tech Capital Equipment Producers:

13. If You Plan to Sell Your House, Second Home or Investment Houses Any Time Soon, Do So Yesterday:

14. Sell Junk Bonds:
15. Sell Commercial Real Estate:
16. Sell Most Commodities:
17. Sell Developing Country Stocks, Bonds:

Earhead, what does this post have to do with the weekly Petroleum Report? Are you trolling for another snarlin rant?

E. Swanson

It's properly placed. Charles' comment was not just about the petroleum report, it was about the economy in general.

Interesting points, but no mention of gold? The best performing asset for a decade? The only asset that's in a secular bull market? The 6000 year old hard currency?

Some people will go the grave ignoring the human preference for this metal, I guess.

The main point I'm making is that we are not, repeat not, in some kind of deflationary downwave or double dip in the economy right now. In fact, due to widespread pessimism about the economy in general, reflected in traders 'shorting' (that is making negative bets) on the price of oil, oil is cheaper and is facilitating a minor economic rebound - along with inventory restocking and improved business credit.

In the long run, and even not so long run, as early as 2011, the next phase down in the "end of growth" will arrive. The end of growth has already arrived for many who are unemployed, as it appears the percentage of those employed will be forever less than before 2008.

However in the short run, I do not recommend betting on deflation, falling bond yields, etc. Recent food price trends are anything but deflationary. I am postive towards investments that benefit from inflation, such as gold and silver, although speculating on the price of food commodities is mostly impractical for an ordinary investor. I even said a week ago that the US stock market will likely be up, for up to three months.

It is a good thing that gold is not too popular. It means that we are nowhere close to the end of the bull market. It will be time to sell gold when there is a consensus that it is a great investment.

Oilman Sachs, Mentioning gold, I have had several gold related questions for someone in the know about the value of it and the volume of it recently while working on an old story( trying to get some of my old unfinshed ones off to better fullness).

The price of gold and the amount of it in the world just does not seem right to me.

There is about 168,000 Tons of it with bits more being mined every year( there was an old TOD topic about it, but I never did get some of my questions answered, or either I did not ask them in time of getting an answer). I have figured out that if you were to get face value for all of it, you only get about 3 to 5 trillion dollars running at the average price of around $1,000 a troy ounce. Of course no one single person or gov't will sell it all or ask for that much to be traded.

But with all the money people keep saying is changing hands these days and the value of land and stuff that just won't go away soon, the price of gold is low.

From this article I get the weight of the earth.


At 5.972 sextillion metric tons, I just wonder how much of it is chewy oily cream in the center,,, er I mean how much gold is really hanging around where we can get to it and count it as handy for trading.

Oh well I have sold all my gold, long time ago, had some bills I had to pay, and most everything of any value was sold to pay them. Pity they wouldn't take all my wooden nickels.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.

Thanks for the insights, Charles. Here's some historic data from the EIA/AER: Table 5.13c Estimated Petroleum Consumption: Transportation Sector, 1949-2008 (Thousand Barrels per Day). Distillate pretty much stayed flat through the recession 30 years ago. Looking at U.S. No 2 Diesel Ultra Low Sulfur Less than 15 ppm All Sales/Deliveries by Prime Supplier(Thousand Gallons per Day) we see that 2009 exceeded 2007. Overall consumption of distillates peaked in 2007 and was at 86.56% of peak in 2009, but obviously this figure needs to be broken down into its components to see the whole picture.

Distillate's 1st peak was in 1978, down to 77.83% in 1982, but this was when millions of households were converting from #2 fuel oil to NG. For the transportation sector consumption bottomed out at 96.02%, again in 1982. Again, we seem to already topped the current peak; the TEC data implies that 2010 should surpass 2009 as well.

The guns of August

Thirty-five years from now, America's official century of being top dog (1945-2045) will have come to an end; its time may, in fact, be running out right now. We are likely to begin to look ever more like a giant version of England at the end of its imperial run, as we come face-to-face with, if not necessarily to terms with, our aging infrastructure, declining international clout, and sagging economy. It may, for all we know, still be Hollywood's century decades from now, and so we may still make waves on the cultural scene, just as Britain did in the 1960s with the Beatles and Twiggy. Tourists will undoubtedly still visit some of our natural wonders and perhaps a few of our less scruffy cities, partly because the dollar-exchange rate is likely to be in their favor.
If, however, we were to dismantle our empire of military bases and redirect our economy toward productive, instead of destructive, industries; if we maintained our volunteer armed forces primarily to defend our own shores (and perhaps to be used at the behest of the United Nations); if we began to invest in our infrastructure, education, health care, and savings, then we might have a chance to reinvent ourselves as a productive, normal nation. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening. Peering into that foggy future, I simply can't imagine the US dismantling its empire voluntarily, which doesn't mean that, like all sets of imperial garrisons, our bases won't go someday.

An interesting piece by Chalmers Johnson, author of Blowback (2000), The Sorrows of Empire (2004), and Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (2006), among other works.

Of course, he is wrong. The United States cannot withdraw from its empire because it would lose its disproportionate access to oil and money. It cannot transition peacefully to be a normal country.

"The United States cannot withdraw from its empire because it would lose its disproportionate access to oil and money. It cannot transition peacefully to be a normal country."

Yeah, the last chance of doing that with any modicum of grace was the Carter administration, and at the very mention of setting limits on ourselves, we collectively screamed like teenage girls having their cell phones taken away. (I know of what I speak.) (See Andrew Basevich's 'Limits to Power' among others for a recent, insightful view of the consequences of our turning away from this opportunity to start walking away from empire.)

We can still transition away--it is just going to be much, much messier and more painful than it would have been. Of course, mess and pain stare at us from every direction at this point anyway.

Transition away = turning loose of the tiger's tail.

Yup, sounds pretty messy and painful to me.

Of course the tiger is just dragging us to his lair anyway. Better to let go sooner than later.

Dear Mr. XXXXX:

Thank you for taking the time to submit a suggestion to the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency for consideration in cleaning up the
Enbridge Oil Spill in the Kalamazoo River.

I'm afraid that I don't have a comment for you one way or the other
about your suggestion. Your suggestion about using the pipelines as a
backbone for fiber optic transmission lines is way outside EPA's realm.
I can't even suggest where in the Federal government you provide such a
suggestion. The broadband infrastructure is maintained by private sector
internet and telephone service providers. Perhaps you could find an
audience with one of them.

Sorry I can't be of more help. I appreciate that you took the time to
provide a suggestion.

Sincerely yours,

Technology Solutions Team

Maybe my idea does not have merit, but that is not what the government official said. He said my idea for using pipelines for data transmission is outside EPA's realm. What I am disappointed in is he never acknowledged it would work as a monitoring system. It has to work. It is an historical solution. Remember how jewelery store windows used to have that foil around the perimeter of the glass. Very effective sensor, but unsightly. Replaced by more modern breakage and motion sensors, but the old sensor tape was very effective. Maybe next time. I thought about setting up an experiment. Even if I sent a video however, I feel I would have gotten the same BS rejection. Thanks. One of my better 'crazy' ideas. I think these programs were never designed to do anything but give an outlet to vent.

You know that Williams Communications built much of its original fiber backbone running fiber in abandoned pipeline from its Williams Pipeline corporate kin?

Many fiber networks share right-of-way with pipelines. Used to hear jokes about how often fibers next to telecom cables were hit by backhoes, while the ones next to high-pressure gas pipelines almost never were.

I think you can make a strong case for shared easements with gas and fiber in the ground, and a bikepath above in town...or a rail beside, cross-country. Maybe power lines above, too.

You have to believe tightly wrapping a pipeline in fiber would ensure constant and near instant monitoring of the pipelines. If you designed it for such an application, I do not see how a physical problem in the pipeline can go undetected. Perhaps even 'prior' to a 'catastrophic failure'. The injected resin idea I put forth not only would work on existing pipelines, it would possibly allow cast in place repairs of the pipes and connections as well. I just do not see how at least the fiber idea could fail, save for economic reasons.

There would probably be a number of problems with "wrapping" the fiber around a pipeline:

  • Optical fiber has a "critical bending radius". If you bend it more sharply than the critical radius, the light leaks out. The phone companies learned the hard way in the early days of fiber optics that there are lots of ways to inadvertently bend the cable too sharply. A long spiral wrap, say one full wrap every several meters, would probably be okay.
  • Individual optical fibers are relatively fragile. The actual glass is only a tiny portion of the total cross section of a fiber optic cable. Lots of so-called strength members and lots of layers intended to isolate and protect the fibers as much as possible from the surrounding environment. Those layers would be quite resistant to leaking hydrocarbons, for example.
  • Fiber cables come in very long lengths, on very large reels (splices and repeaters are expensive). Pipeline comes in relatively short lengths that are welded together in the field. I'm trying to envision the equipment that would be needed to wrap a cable around the pipeline without twisting, and it seems difficult.

What about the multimode stuff?

Surely you could modulate a carrier on that rod.


The world's largest maker of optical fiber said Monday it has developed a new fiber that is at least 100 times more bendable than standard fiber, clearing a major hurdle for telecommunications carriers drawing fiber into homes.

The problems have already been researched with varying levels of success. I just need to do an experiment and video it. I can buy a 120 volt ddm3000 fiber mux for what 500 bucks? I need two and some pre-terminated cables (BA or some obsolete crap?) and a piece of schedule 40-4 inch PVC about 3 feet long? Put a tap on it and run a compressor hose to it and experiment away. Say 100 feet or more away and around a corner. Use a tripod and leave the camera running.

I just do not see how at least the fiber idea could fail, save for economic reasons.

The contractors hired to do the job - in an attempt to maximize their cashflow cut corners - fail to do the install correctly.

I think you can make a strong case for shared easements with gas and fiber in the ground, and a bikepath above in town...or a rail beside, cross-country.

Most of the major railroads have already done this. Qwest built its initial long-distance network along the Southern Pacific and Union Pacific routes. Level 3 started its network along the Burlington Northern and Sante Fe routes. Essentially all major railroads did a deal with somebody to lay fiber cable. The resulting glut was one of the contributing causes of the "telecom bust" that occurred in 2001-02: twenty or so companies built networks, each based on a business case where they would capture 20% of the long-haul traffic. It is unclear how much of the fiber has ever been "lit"; for years, the cost of doubling the bitrate on a single fiber has been less than the cost of lighting a second fiber.

There have been a number of large lawsuits as a result of laying the fiber. It was not always clear whether the railroad actually owned the right to put it fiber, or if their right-of-way was restricted to the rails and things directly related to operating the railroad. More legal issues were raised when the fiber was laid along routes that had been abandoned by the railroads.

I understand. The only goal is to offset the cost of installation, monitoring, and maintaining the system. This is really a pipe monitoring system that I am trying to build a business case to use it for transport as an incentive to make it happen. It would allow some sort of sub-second valve to shut. Didn't the Enbridge spill run 8 hours? Surely this would be an improvement. I imagine these helically wrapped wires to be supplied in ribbon cable form and you could start in many places simultaneously for even greater coverage. If the resin idea works you are talking the longest run of the largest cross section of synthetic optical medium in the solar system. Surely you can shoot some light through that. Surely you could design a system that would detect 'stress on the medium and report it. Maybe an advanced OPM (optical power meter) who's function is taken over by the OTDR or some old dudes use a flashlight. The equipment lasers can burn retinas. Could I move closer to infared and be safer? I can see me causing the greatest new health hazard since oil.

This is really a pipe monitoring system that I am trying to build a business case to use it for transport as an incentive to make it happen.

My fault, I misunderstood. This paper discusses the use of fiber optic strain gauges, including unmodified fibers and optical time-domain reflectometry operating over long distances. Pipeline leak detection is listed as one of the applications, although no additional references are given.

Now this paper moves me forward. I will re-email the EPA and maybe I will have better luck. This EPA person I an dealing with is not like other Feds. This one is like a congressperson, he tries to wiggle out of everything. The smart bureaucrats I know spend at least 5 hours a week on 'empire building' and job stealing.

Edit: You know I thought of the possibility that if the emergency shutdown system on Macondo 252 had an attachment to an optic based monitoring system, if history might be different. All you need to have a good single sided alarm system with optics is a mirror on the far end. You could even have concentric rings of pathways for drill pipe and mud/petroleum and light. All the light pathways could be 'strain guages'


I can give you an answer on the use of IR lasers (which are the sorts usually used in Telecom)...NO!
Given the same power levels and beam distribution, IR is even worse because the eye is most sensitive in the blue-green region of the spectrum, and if the laser light is in the visible range (say 400-670 nanometer range), then the pupil will contract and reduce at least some of the light reaching the retina. IR (the portion that lies past what we see as deep red) is not detectable by the eye and so the pupil remains dilated and allows ALL of the energy to focus on the retina.

One of my favorite laser safety warning signs was "DO NOT LOOK INTO LASER WITH REMAINING EYE..."

Sorry i guess the IR remote control technology I was thinking about is much lower power. 1550 nm it is. Oh well, my designs have cladding that is blown in like cast in place pipe sleeves. Reflective and very opaque. http://www.pipeliningservice.com/cipp-pipe-repair.htm

There have been a number of large lawsuits as a result of laying the fiber

One gent used to brag how he had the fiber run zig-zag over a railroad right of way - to make it more expensive for someone else to lay fiber.

And interesting bit - some old railroad right of ways are radioactive from the coal and that clouds the fiber.

So are they talking about ICE's or EV's?

I guess it works either way.

"Coal Power Industry: Biggest US Expansion In 2 Decades, Emissions Equivalent To Putting 22 Million Cars On The Road"


"An Associated Press examination of U.S. Department of Energy records and information provided by utilities and trade groups shows that more than 30 traditional coal plants have been built since 2008 or are under construction."

Now thats progress we can be proud of.

There were something like 120 proposed new plants across the country. That it is only 30 is the result of heroic struggles by dozens of environmental groups across the country. But even after stopping 3/4 of them we have an enormous ecological disaster that will last decades on our hands.

Once a plant is built, it is nearly impossible to shut it down, no matter how dirty it is--sunk costs and all that.

What a stupendous waste. The really lasting legacy of the Bush/Cheney administration (besides quagmire wars, financial collapse, banker bailouts....)

A contracting economy will mean we use less electricity.

Georgia Power requests 10% increase in electric bills as recession cuts expected demand

7% electric rate increase proposed
We Energies blames decline in sales amid recession

Some of the older coal plants will be shut down. (I am not saying that we don't have a problem.)

My yahoo news had this article in it.


228 million eggs recalled, what will they do with them is what I wonder.

High temperature cooking will kill the bug, and then they could just make a bunch of powdered eggs out of them and use them elsewhere.

We just got through talking around the campfire about what is enough. Well these blanket food recalls seem like Us killing ourselves in the long run to save a few sick people. I mean sure, I don't want to get sick, but I risk it everytime I go outside and try a new plant in the taste testing that I do, so I am kinda used to having the risk factor in my life. I can't swear I have not been sick through those actions, but I am not going to stop them just because I might get a bit ill from time to time.

Now I also understand that Salmonella can kill people, but so can cars. Have we grown so fearful of the things we could get sick off of to go about wasting food left and right just because a small number of people get sick or die from the stuff? I would wonder if when you are a starving population whether you'd take a risk of getting sick or fed by eating some of those recalled eggs?

My my estimate that is over 12,000 tons of eggs, a lot of food going to waste. I wonder if they had to throw them out, if they could cook them at high heat and then grind them up and compost them for all the imbeded minerals they have. Something make it not feel so much like a total waste for having had them recalled.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world,

The problem isn't with a few recalls. The problem is with the whole food system. See "Food, Inc." or any of the many other recent books and films on the subject.

Yeah, I have seen food inc, and maybe a few others, whose names I can't remember right now. The issues are part of my "Better Fed" line in my BioWebScape design process thinking.

I look at a whole mess of strings of how we used to feed ourselves, and how we feed ourselves now, and where we can change the system to be more fluid and not have as many bumps and twists to it. Not an easy task to say the least, as every thread in the fabric of the design, pulls and twists as you string it along into the picture you want it to be. I can almost see the picture if I squint softly and look into the mists, but if I try to focus the lines get all tangled again.

I guess some people might tell me to go study systems, or string theory to maybe get a better handle on the whole thing, But they have not worked out the bugs in thier own thinking yet. I oft times wonder what it would be like to see the world with eyes that could see all the atoms in the world as they spin and twist and all the thoughts of every human, animal and if plants think, that too. Sorta like understanding how each event in the world, influences the climate, and being able to tell you what the weather should be like in 2 weeks( for instance).

But that hurts the brain if you aren't in a still place, and even if you are, it still hurts, LOL.

I wonder who I have to ask to find out what they are going to do with all those spare, prefectly good edible eggs(snark)?

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.

Re: Vestas cuts 2010 forecasts, shares plunge, up top.

Vestas has a sales and service office at nearby Ventura a couple miles north of the Cerro Gordo wind farm. I haven't noticed much activity lately as wind farm construction is down around here too.

Here is the Google Street View of that office:


I've fallen in love with Google Street View; a picture is worth a thousand words.

I'm going to comment on that wind farm later, but I want to talk about another one today.

Wind around here while not as good as North Dakota is consistent most of the time and closer to the large metropolitan electricity markets of Minneapolis/St .Paul and Chicago.


Yesterday I commented on the Crystal Lake wind farm and a couple small wind farms surrounding the home place. Today I want to comment on another nearby wind farm using Google Maps and Google Street View.

The Top of Iowa Wind Farm east of the tiny town of Joice has 80 turbines and produces 80 megawatts. It’s turbines are smaller than Crystal Lake Wind Farm’s and most of them are older. There is also Top of Iowa II with 40 turbines producing another 80 megawatts. Top of Iowa III has 18 turbines and produces 29 megawatts. So the number of turbines in total for Top of Iowa is 138.


This wind farm is centered around the Diamond Joe’s Casino next to Interstate 35W. Diamond Joe’s is a effort by Worth County officials to capture some of the money flowing up and down 35W. It is the local version of casino capitalism which has taken over Wall Street as the real economy was outsourced and economic opportunity disappeared. Worth country uses part of the gain from Diamond Joe's to fund scholarships for area students .

This is a Google Map of a portion of the Top of Iowa wind farm just east of Joice:


Here is picture of a couple of the turbines:


I’ve never been to Diamond Joe's, don’t gamble and haven’t played the Wall Street game for several years, but here is a picture of Diamond Joe’s with wind turbines in the background anyway:


More Top of Iowa pictures from Flicker including some of its construction:


Pentagon Rings Alarm Over China's Military

The report says that China is, not surprisingly, concerned about threats to its energy supply—not surprising, because the United States wreaked havoc on the Persian Gulf by invading Iraq, and thus canceling Chinese contracts with Iraq for the supply of oil, and because the United States is threatening to make it worse by attacking Iran, a major source of China's energy supplies. It says

... Though China is engaged in constructing a huge network of oil and gas pipelines from Central Asia and the Middle East, the report notes that the pipelines won't ensure that China can secure the energy it needs.

Evaluation of proven global oil reserves indicates that China's future energy needs can only be met through suppliers in the Persian Gulf, Africa, and North America—all extraction points that will continue to require maritime transport. Pipeline projects, for example, will do little to minimize Beijing's vulnerability in the Strait of Hormuz."

This sounds scarily like the situation before WWII with regard to the situation between the US and Japan. The US kept putting up roadblocks to Japanese efforts to buy into or develop sources of energy. If I read history correctly, this was one of the reasons behind Pearl Harbor. Now we are doing similar things with China.

May I suggest you're not reading "history correctly"?

Perhaps not. Would you care to educate me?

You overlooked the Rape of Nanking, just to set the period and events transpiring. Japan had already invaded China (what horrible thing did the US do to cause that), and had decided to take over the oil fields in Indonesia. Since we had a fleet and alliances that might cause us to take umbrage to that action, the Japanese military people decided to make a bold strike at the US Pacific fleet in Hawaii; the plan was to then sue immediately for a favorable peace agreement.

Things did not work out as they planned.

Our 'roadblocks' had nothing to do with this. In fact, we were supplying the Japanese with steel, among other products. American industrialists continued to do business with the Japanese and
Germans throughout the war, working both sides of the street for their precious profits.

What road blocks, exactly, were you talking about?


Well, I stand corrected. Meanwhile, I'll get out my history books to do a much needed review.

A Review Before the Exam

Actually, this review is too late for the many people who have already endured economic collapse. As any of those folks can tell the rest of us, we do not want to receive the lesson after the exam.

...The primary consequences of our fossil-fuel addiction stem from two primary phenomena: peak oil and global climate change. The former spells the end of western civilization, which might come in time to prevent the extinction of our species at the hand of the latter...

Unchecked, western civilization drives us to one of two outcomes, and perhaps both: (1) Destruction of the living planet on which we depend for our survival, and/or (2) Runaway greenhouse and therefore the near-term extinction of our species. Why would we want to sustain such a system? It is immoral and omnicidal.

...The primary consequences of our fossil-fuel addiction stem from two primary phenomena: peak oil and global climate change. The former spells the end of western civilization, which might come in time to prevent the extinction of our species at the hand of the latter...

More than any time in history mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly.
--Woody Allen

Reminds me of the old JBS slogan, "better dead than red."

Wonder which road we will choose?


I have a question that may not be possible to answer with complete certainty.

I am wondering if the US has produced more oil than any other country in the world over the whole span of its oil production years?

I know that records don`t go back before 1970 or so, the very year that US production peaked.

I have just been checking the International Petroleum Monthly data (Thank you, Darwinian, for refering me to the site)...it seems like the US is still a major oil producer even though it has no doubt produced a lot of oil already.

Am I incorrect or is the US the third oil producer in the world behind Saudi and Russia? But haven`t those two been producing a shorter time? (This is what I am not sure about, just a guess, since the US started using cars so early).

I am trying to get a feel for which country started out with the most oil. It may be a kind of impossible-to-know thing but does anyone have any ideas?


More aid pledged for flood-hit Pakistan

The UN has said it has now raised nearly half of the $460m it needs for initial relief efforts.

Is it any wonder why countries are reluctant to give money away for this cause, when in the previous disaster in Pakistan, an earthquake, the money given at that time was never used to help with reconstruction or any aid whatsoever for the people. It was taken by a few for their own endowment.

So what happens now to the 1/2 of 460 million (230 m)? It goes into Swiss accounts, huge rings for wives and girlfriends, dinner's out, cloths, fancy cars, etc. None will ever get to the needy. So I say never again give a single penny to any cause. If people want to steal, then don't give them the chance in these types of situations.

Yes,indeed,Perk Earl and I seem to remember some dancing in the streets in Pakistan on 9/11.

Some aid money does make it thru to the intended victims in most cases, although I agree that most delivered to govts is wasted.

Aid funneled thru an organization such as the Red Cross or a church charity is much more efficiently spent.

I seldom contribute money to any organiaztion as I have very little,due to having lead a laid back grasshopper life.

But as a matter of principle, I do things to help the less fortunate, and the way I do this, there is no lost motion and virtually no waste, no theft, no diversion, no inefficiency at all.

If eroi could be applied, mine in my charity work would be excellent indeed.How so?

Because if an old widow woman in the nieghborhood has a leaky faucet,I just throw my plumbing box on the truck when I'm passing by, knock on the door,drink a cup of coffe with her,and put in a new faucet washer.

How much lost motion and energy would be involved if this were handled thru a govt operated or even a charity operated program?

Office space, secretary,supervisor, audits, telephone, coffee drinking, dedicated trips, socializing on the payroll?These are just a start-building rent, publicity and fund raising,program truck and insurance, benefit package for employees.......

On a personal level this kinda hits home. I have mentioned several times before that I help the homeless around these parts, it is in my profile as well. What is frustrating to me is I also give advice to homeless people. I say frustrating in that as I am telling someone how to live a better life with the little that they have, some of which I am helping them with for the first time, I have hopes that they will listen to it. Many times those hopes are dashed when they don't seem to listen to the advice and then put their hand out again.

I did not give them the advice to talk down to them, but to help them get along better with having little, I've used the advice to my own advantage so is has worked, and others have used it as well.

It gets frustrating when you realize that you are not dealing with mature people, but young folks at least in the mental sense, almost little kids who have to go ahead and touch the fire because they don't want to listen to the parent. And like a parent I let them get burned to hopefully teach them that what I said was true.

In the case of giving money and having TPTB in those areas line their own pockets with it. What we could do or a body of us givers, is go into the land and do the job for the corrupt gov'ts and officals, just let them come along and learn how it should be done. Not going to happen, but it might be what is the only solution to get the money and resources to the mouths and hands that need them. It'd have to be a UN madated action( as if that were even possible ) to basically take over the running of the relief effort and do all the feet on the ground work.

I'd be willing to help, if I had the spare funds to do so. I have learned that you have to do some things and not others when you help the homeless and hopeless. If you take on too much, they are just like kids dependant on you for the next thing they need, and not mature adults able to handle the next hurdle again, like they once were before they got where they are. ( some would say they'd never get there themselves, but I have seen a few nicely dressed homeless people recently who without jobs had to move to areas they felt had them, but were still living out of their cars or less.) I don't know why they have not labeled this a depression like it feels on the streets, calling it a long recession seems bogus to me.

Pakistan comes after Haiti, where the news a week ago was talking about all the pledged funds, still not seeming to do what people thought they'd do this long afterwards. People get giving burnout and they also can't muster up funds that seems to help when they are strapped and wondering when the bank will take their house, or car, or whatever.

With GOM-Oil spill blues just now getting toward a better bit of days, the need to fix at home is still big, and half way round the world, with corrupt gov'ts and people in charge there does not seem to be a willingness to commit anything else for the crying people of the world.

Frustrating that If I were king I'd have hands and feet at the ready for something like this, but I am only that in my fictional stories, Prayers go to them all, at this time it is the best I can do.

BIoWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, even when the earth shakes and the waters rise, someone has to rebuild and think of the next soul to save.

Biofuel Blend Will Heat New York City Buildings by 2012

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg Monday signed into law an air quality bill that requires cleaner burning biofuel to be blended into the oil used for heating homes and buildings in the city.

Starting in October 2012, heating oil sold within New York City must contain at least two percent biodiesel. The blend is known as Bioheat, a green fuel that is gaining popularity in Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states.


The bill, called Introductory Number 194-A, requires that by 2012, the sulfur content of Number 4 heating oils be limited to no more than 1,500 parts per million and all heating oils used in New York City contain at least two percent biodiesel.


"New York City consumes one billion gallons of heating oil annually, more than any other city in the United States," said City Councilman James Gennaro, who sponsored the legislation. "This will annually replace 20 million gallons of petroleum with an equal volume of renewable, sustainable, domestically produced biodiesel."

See: http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/aug2010/2010-08-17-092.html


Vermont Public Radio - Big Hydro: Going To The Source
Big Hydro: Environmental Impacts

Large hydroelectric dams are seen as one of the most environmentally friendly energy sources, but damming rivers and redirecting their flow isn't benign. Fish habitat is harmed. Mercury is released into the environment. And the projects themselves can even release greenhouse gases.

See: http://www.vpr.net/news/hydro/index.php


Fish habitat is harmed.

Isn't there a substantial recreational fishery in the Tennessee Valley that was created by damming the river?

Hi Merrill,

Other members of this forum are far more qualified to speak on this matter, but native species such as Atlantic salmon are impacted by the loss of their spawning grounds.


An artificial reservoir might be a home for many fish, but it drastically shifts an old set of balances.

Here in Maine, we're pulling out a number of Run-of-river Hydro Dams on the Kennebec and Penobscot in order to allow several sea-run species to return their historic nutrient-cycle up deep into the rivershed. Countless species and fisheries are clearly undermined by this lost balance.

Editors: Gail the Actuary

When did Kyle (Professor Goose) go bye-bye?

Curious indeed. Gail has made a rather rapid rise to the top, perhaps because of her aggressive editing and posting of articles. One would think that the top editor should have a technical background and I believe that Gail has made some mistakes due to her lack of same. Also, I find it annoying that she has chosen to re-post old articles on top, thus making it difficult to wade thru older posts, but that may just be me. We can only hope that her efforts will be unbiased in future...

E. Swanson

Also, I find it annoying that she has chosen to re-post old articles on top, thus making it difficult to wade thru older posts, but that may just be me.

A lot of people complain about that, and I don't like it, either, but you can't blame Gail for that. TOD has always done that, even before Gail became a staff member. I think it was Prof. Goose's idea to begin with.

I pretty much follow what I am told to do moving posts around.

He is still working in the background. Not sure the details.

re; energy storage

Chu knows what he says when hinting at hunt for miracles, because fact of using air oxygen makes HC difficult to beat. From thermo-chemical perspective HC are quite like a (non-rechargable :-) battery. Carbon and Hydrogen oxidize and Oxygen reduces and your motor serves as electrolyte. Do not take it literally.

But the catch is that for every 14 grams of HC, you need 48 grams of oxygen, and you simply do not have to carry it with you but take it from air. Here lies big part high energy content of HC. Rechargeable batteries need to carry both ends on board.

But the catch is that for every 14 grams of HC, you need 48 grams of oxygen, and you simply do not have to carry it with you but take it from air. Here lies big part high energy content of HC. Rechargeable batteries need to carry both ends on board.

There are in development several sorts of XXX-air batteries, where XXX is some chemical or element. I've heard of Zinc-air, Lithium-air, Sodium Air. Perhaps there are others? I think Zinc-air is the furthest along. Its not a hopeless picture, but I doubt any are ready for primetime.

What about the metal/air battery? Zinc/air is available (ReVolt) and hard work is being done on Lithium/air by IBM and others.

Yes, Li/O2 process with O2 from air has theoretical capacity slightly lower than gasoline and electric motors are more efficient than internal combustion, so you potentially you'd need smaller battery to match the useful mechanical energy stored.

It's one thing to run zinc/air one-shot in a hearing aid, or to run it rechargeable in a cell phone that'll be thrown away inside a year. It's quite another to run it in a vehicle (as implied by the discussion of hydrocarbons) where it's not much use unless it has a long life. Nobody wants a $10k battery that only lasts a year. So it has to be designed so that CO2 doesn't ruin the electrolyte - or in the case of Li, so that it doesn't turn the electrode into metal carbonate - and so that other trace gases don't poison any catalysts used. That may put it well beyond the level of an undergraduate chemistry project.

I'd also question whether ReVolt is "available". All I see on their web site at this time is puff pieces about vaporware. In particular, every "real" electronics company I can think of has a "products" (or the more pretentious "solutions") tab or link somewhere on their home page, something notably lacking with ReVolt. They (and IBM) might (or might not) deserve an "E" for effort, but to sell product one needs a result. (BTW this parallels the standard, classic bureaucratic error of measuring performance by inputs consumed instead of outputs produced, often because the inputs are easier to measure.)

So if turning off the lights does very little to move the needle on electrical savings, why in HELL are we soon to be forced to buy only the curly fluorscents that rarely last any where close to what they are supposed to and are almost always MADE IN CHINA!? Yes I know a bureaucrat in DC made the decision, but as usual the decision was made before real life data was in. End of rant. John

Hi John,

Just to address any confusion on this one point, you won't be required to purchase CFLs as there are a new generation of more efficient incandescent/halogen lamps which you can purchase now that meet the forthcoming federal energy efficiency standards. Philips sells them under the Halogená ES banner (see: http://www.lighting.philips.com/us_en/products/halogena_energy_saver/hou...); likewise, Osram Sylvania sells a similar screw in replacement (see: http://www.sylvania.com/ConsumerProducts/New+Products/HALOGENSuperSaver/). The Philips lamp is more expensive than the equivalent Sylvania offering, but it's also more efficient and lasts three times longer.

Lighting, in total, consumes roughly one-third of all electricity generated in the United States and within the residential sector, it accounts for over 100 billion kWh/year of demand (more, once you factor in the associated air conditioning costs).


I don't know how much a Dept of Psychology knows about the energy savings from turning lights off but the article doesn't give any numbers, just that respondants overrated the savings. I'm not critisizing the study, well worth the read: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/08/06/1001509107.full.pdf+html

I guess it's how you spin it. These people are looking at the social aspects of energy use. The article is about perceptions, not kwh.

The act of turning lights off is more than symbolic. It does save energy, it's easy and doable. For perhaps 1.5 million years we have a history of adopting more efficient technology. Why do people have to pick on lightbulbs?

What they pick on is the thing that most people who have to get around in a dark house know will give them light, Light bulbs. I used to make my own candles, buying the wax in bulk to save on costs, recycling all used candles, getting them from yardsales and even from churchs that only use them once and then toss them. Sometimes a bit of triming and I'd get almost the full use of the candle before the runoff would be thrown into a pot for new candles.

Wax burn temperatures are key to how much waste you will have when using that kind of wax. Cheap candles usually have a lot of puddles after a burn.

I put shelves up over doorways and kept my reading to sunlight hours, and went a whole long while without electric use for lights most days. I can't do it here, as the house is not built for candles, like that college apartment( part of a house) was.

What most people don't do is practice better time management with their electric usage. If you know you will need a lot of light for an activity, make it during the daylight hours and use as much sunlight as you can. Unclutter so that you can move about your house at night without as many big lights on, and use LED spots for foot paths or dark areas.

Half of this is just better designs on our houses. Breezeways where you have a room for cooking foods, so your summer high heat is out of the living area. Passive solar lighting and heating, just by window placement and a few twists on where you are going to be in the house for what activity. Standards that use as many of these energy saving processes in building design, so that new hames can't be built that will waste energy so much.

When the code in one city is not the same in the next one over, all you get is wasted time and money keeping up with all the design hurdles you have to jump through.

Some places If I wanted to build an earth shelter low energy house, I'd have to go through months or years of red tape just to prove to people in the gov't that the house is safe and no one will be harmed because they don't use a Gigi-watt to power it( okay a bit much, but still It is frustrating).

Sometimes just mentioning saving energy glazes people's eyes over, they think you are kidding them. It is changing and some folks are hungry to live in the small houses, and low energy use lifestyles, even people that traditionally you'd not think so. They started getting money tight and all sorts of bells and whistles went off when they remembered Grannies stories, and spending money on electric light and indoor plumbing.

Best hopes that most people get the fire lite under them to realize they can make a difference just by thinking clearer.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world. One bundle of red tape at a time.

that rarely last any where close to what they are supposed to and are almost always MADE IN CHINA!?

Then you are doing it wrong.

The ones I have last longer than the old solution. And for my Father - who used to replace bulbs every 2-3 months on his ceiling fan - hasn't had to replace any of 'em after 4 years.

Hi Eric,

That's my take as well. The Philips Marathon Universal has a nominal service life of 15,000 hours and it certainly lives up to its name; I have a number that I purchased back in 1997 which continue to soldier on (their phosphorous coatings have darkened and pitted and they've grown noticeably dimmer, but they still fire-up every time). Any Energy Star CFL should provide good service, but the aforementioned Marathon is the 225 Slant Six of CFLs, which is to say it's damn near bulletproof.


As soon as I started to notice that it was my enclosed CFL's that were dying, I made sure they always had air circulation. Those Glass Globes are murder, and even the semi-enclosed housings can let them overheat and die rapidly. Takes some rethinking, but it's worth it.

I've got one on which the ballast-shell pulled apart, leaving the twisty tube dangling, and the circuit board hanging in midair. Thought it was going to go in a month or so, but it's been probably 4 years now (down in the shop) ... that ballast just loves swingin in the breezes, free and natural like.

Re: Bill McKibben: Why has extreme weather failed to heat up climate debate?

While I think this year's warm weather may be the result of AGW, I (like most climate scientists) can't offer a solid proof of cause and effect. One year doesn't prove a trend. Even several years don't, as there is evidence of longer period variations to be found in past climate. And, the denialist know that, so they have managed to spread the idea that there's no problem with AGW while things were relatively cool the past few years. That cool period may have been the result of the minimum in solar activity, but, again, the link is difficult to prove.

In the US, we have a growing political movement amongst the conservatives to ignore most environmental problems, of which AGW is just one. The Constitution party and some Tea party types want to get rid of the EPA and DOE, while going back to the days before Darwin in teaching students about biology. With an election on the horizon, I would not be surprised that Climate Change will not be seriously debated, given the publicity over the Cap-and-Trade bill. One might even speculate that there is some hidden political motive behind all the financial manipulation and unemployment, which has focused the election on jobs as the number one issue in the minds of the voters...

E. Swanson

Why has extreme weather failed to heat up climate debate?

Because Carbon Trading is a scam.

That Cap-and-Trade may be a bad idea has nothing to do with the science, which tells us that AGW is happening and that it's likely to become a very, very big problem if nothing is done to stop it...

E. Swanson

Well, you answered a question from later in his post, but the answer to the one you quoted is because it hasn't been that extreme.

Why has extreme weather failed to heat up climate debate?

The human brain can only focus on one survival question at a time.

What is today's most pressing survival question?

Jobs, jobs, jobs; where are they?

Of course if you live in a flooded part of Pakistan, your brain is focusing on this survival question:

Water, water, water (everywhere), how do I get away from it?

In a few months, when the dry season comes, your brain will be focusing on new survival questions:

Water, water, water (nowhere), how do I get a drinkable drop of it?
Food, food, food (nowhere), how do I get a morsel of it?

In developing countries like India:
Corruption corruption everywhere, how to survive on honest earning?