Drumbeat: August 23, 2010

Green living thrives in communes, eco-villages

Shared eco-friendly living is becoming increasingly popular in places that range from communes to co-housing, eco-villages or intentional communities.

These are not the hippy, free-love communes of the 1960s, but living arrangements that focus on organic farming, green building, communal spaces and other aspects of sustainability.

Math Lessons for Locavores

IT’S 42 steps from my back door to the garden that keeps my family supplied nine months of the year with a modest cornucopia of lettuce, beets, spinach, beans, tomatoes, basil, corn, squash, brussels sprouts, the occasional celeriac and, once when I was feeling particularly energetic, a couple of small but undeniable artichokes. You’ll get no argument from me about the pleasures and advantages to the palate and the spirit of eating what’s local, fresh and in season.

But the local food movement now threatens to devolve into another one of those self-indulgent — and self-defeating — do-gooder dogmas. Arbitrary rules, without any real scientific basis, are repeated as gospel by “locavores,” celebrity chefs and mainstream environmental organizations. Words like “sustainability” and “food-miles” are thrown around without any clear understanding of the larger picture of energy and land use.

U.S. research vessel sees few signs of spilled oil

(Reuters) - Scientists above a U.S. research ship have started an around-the-clock search for elusive signs of oil lurking beneath the Gulf of Mexico's surface in what they jokingly call "Operation Dipstick."

As debate rages among scientists over how much oil remains in the water after BP Plc's massive oil spill, their research vessel circles above the blown-out Macondo well, some 40 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Chevron says seeking to sell Colonial Pipeline stake

(Reuters) - Chevron Corp (CVX.N) said Monday it was pursuing the sale of its 23.4 percent stake in the Colonial Pipeline, the largest U.S. oil products pipeline.

"We believe there is significant market interest in this asset given Colonial's size, market access, steady cash flows and expansion potential," said Mickey Driver, a spokesman for the company.

Iran Inaugurates New Gas Pipeline to Pakistan

Iran inaugurated part of what it said is a new gas pipeline between its main South Pars gas field and neighboring Pakistan. Tehran said new economic sanctions will not stop the deal with Pakistan.

Kurt Cobb: The illusion of individual risk

So much of the freedom of action we take for granted today is, in fact, a product of the availability of huge amounts of energy. Of course, not to allow the individual some range of action to take risks would indeed make our lives exceedingly frustrating and dull and our societies stagnant. But as we head down the slope of energy and resource constraints, we as a society are going to have to rethink the idea that the risks associated with access to resources are an individual risk. They are increasingly going to become a societal risk to which we will need to apply some restraints regardless of the ability to pay in order to insure the stability and integrity of society as a whole.

The Big SUV's death rattle

The mini-boom in SUVs is thought to be a sign that one, like frogs in boiling water, Americans have become accustomed to higher gasoline prices, and two, they won't give up their oversize vehicles until someone pries their cold dead hands off the steering wheel.

In reality, the phenomenon may be nothing more than a death rattle. Customers are hurrying to buy SUVs before they become extinct.

Shell Starts Drilling Deepwater Oil Well Near Tupi Field Offshore Brazil

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company, started drilling a well off Brazil’s coast near the Tupi field, the largest discovery in the Americas in more than three decades, said the nation’s oil regulator.

The regulator, known as ANP, announced Shell’s drilling development, 1-SHEL-23-RJS, today on its website. The well is in the Santos Basin’s BM-S-54 block, north of Tupi, which was the Americas’ largest discovery since Mexico’s Cantarell in 1976. The well is also close to the Iara and Iracema oil fields.

Pemex and Statoil set to talk Gulf

Norwegian giant Statoil is set to hold talks with Pemex this week as the Mexican company looks to attract foreign partners to its oil sector.

Riis-Johansen says rules must be strict

Ensuring high safety and environmental standards is key to maintaining confidence in Norway's oil industry following the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the country’s energy minister said

Nigeria seeks bidders for power distribution firms

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria is seeking bidders for 11 electricity distribution firms in deals that could unlock billions of dollars of foreign investment and help end chronic power shortages, the privatisation agency said on Monday.

Richard Heinberg: Community Economic Laboratories (CELs)

As America adjusts to the New Reality of tight credit, chronically less-affordable energy, high unemployment rates, rising levels of homelessness, and steeply declining tax revenues, new strategies will be needed to help swelling ranks of low-income people adjust and adapt. National policies designed to ease credit, lower mortgage rates, or provide basic financial assistance (including extended unemployment benefits) may help over the short term, but over the longer term many needs will be better met locally by largely volunteer-driven non-profit organizations, co-ops, and hybrid public-private agencies and programs.

One strategy worth exploring is the seeding of a loosely coordinated national network of locally-based Community Economic Laboratories (CELs).

Straw theft is omen for the future of food

Demand for potash will increase as the global population grows – and prices are likely to move higher. This means grain prices are likely to rise too.

This is bad news for farmers – and ultimately consumers – because it means the price of rearing animals is probably going to rise because of increasing feed costs. But it's not just feed prices that are going up and squeezing farmers' margins – the price of straw and hay is also heading higher.

The hot weather earlier this year and the increasing use of straw as biomass for generating power is causing is straw shortage.

Pakistan: A Question of Water

This may not be the most tactful time to bring it up, with much of Pakistan underwater and many millions homeless, but Pakistan's real problem is not too much water. It is too little water - and one day it could cause a war.

Can Africa break its 'resource curse'?

London, England (CNN) -- Many African countries are blessed with oil and mineral wealth that has the potential to transform their economies. But historically, those resources have often been more of a curse than a blessing.

There are numerous examples of African nations where the discovery of natural resources has been followed by economic instability, conflict and environmental damage. So common is the phenomenon that it even has its own name -- the "resource curse."

Michael T. Klare is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College in Massachusetts, United States, and the author of the books "Resource Wars" and "Blood and Oil."

Venezuela, More Deadly Than Iraq, Wonders Why

CARACAS, Venezuela — Some here joke that they might be safer if they lived in Baghdad. The numbers bear them out.

In Iraq, a country with about the same population as Venezuela, there were 4,644 civilian deaths from violence in 2009, according to Iraq Body Count; in Venezuela that year, the number of murders climbed above 16,000.

Even Mexico’s infamous drug war has claimed fewer lives.

Norway's oil past its prime but still alluring

Norway (Reuters) - Norway's oil and gas production will remain attractive in the years ahead despite declining oil output, especially for smaller oil companies and offshore services looking for drilling and upgrade contracts.

China's nine-day traffic jam stretches 100km

BEIJING (AFP) – Thousands of vehicles were bogged down Monday in a more than 100-kilometre (62-mile) traffic jam leading to Beijing that has lasted nine days and highlights China's growing road congestion woes.

The Beijing-Tibet expressway slowed to a crawl on August 14 due to a spike in traffic by cargo-bearing heavy trucks heading to the capital, and compounded by road maintenance work that began five days later, the Global Times said.

The state-run newspaper said the jam between Beijing and Jining city had given birth to a mini-economy with local merchants capitalising on the stranded drivers' predicament by selling them water and food at inflated prices.

Hearings into cause of oil spill begin in Houston

HOUSTON — Federal investigators are hearing testimony from BP executives in a joint probe into the cause of the explosion that led to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Bjork Takes On Magma in Drive to Give Iceland Voters Final Say

Singer-songwriter Björk Gudmundsdottir is spearheading a push that one poll shows is backed by 85 percent of Icelanders to put foreign energy takeovers to referenda if enough people oppose the deals.

Iran says it will mass produce assault boats

TEHRAN, Iran – State TV says Iran has inaugurated production lines for two types of assault boats. The defense minister describes them as a boost to the country's navy.

Monday's report says one of the boats — dubbed Zolfaghar, after a famed sword — has been equipped with cruise missiles. The second, Seraj or Light, is a high-speed patrol boat with a fiberglass body.

Calls to tackle rising oil imports

BEIJING - China, which is set to import more than 55 percent of its oil needs this year, should seek greater diversification of oil imports, build more stockpiles and improve conservation to enhance energy security, said analysts.

The country will see a continuous increase in oil imports, as domestic production cannot keep pace with the fast growing economy, said Zhou Dadi, a researcher with the Energy Research Institute under the National Development and Reform Commission.

"We should have long-term plans to address oil security," he added.

Oil hovers below $74 amid growth uncertainty

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Oil prices hovered below $74 a barrel Monday in Asia as uncertainty about the global economy's prospects outweighed possible production disruptions in the Gulf of Mexico due to hurricane season.

Hedge Funds Cut Gasoline Bets Most Since 2006

(Bloomberg) -- Hedge funds cut bullish bets on gasoline by the most in almost four years as petroleum stockpiles surpassed the highest level since 1990 and the U.S. vacation season drew to an end.

Hedge funds and other large speculators reduced wagers on rising prices by 74 percent the week ended Aug. 17, the most since October 2006, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission reported on Aug. 20. Gasoline has dropped 21 percent since reaching its 2010 high of $2.4351 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange on May 3.

Kuwait signs oil pact with Iraq

KUWAIT CITY //Kuwait has signed an agreement to share oil from cross-border fields with Iraq and is waiting for its northern neighbour to reciprocate, the emirate’s oil minister has said.

The deal could help to smooth the often thorny relationship between the two countries 20 years after Saddam Hussein’s armies occupied Kuwait – an incursion that sparked the First Gulf War.

OPEC Export Revenues on The Rise

2010 OPEC oil export revenue levels have seen a significant recovery from the previous year-an $181B increase-according to projections from the EIA August 2010 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO).

Kuwait in $35bn oil upgrade

KUWAIT CITY // Kuwait is about to embark on major oil projects worth almost US$35 billion (Dh128.45bn) as part of the government’s four-year development plan, says Sheikh Ahmed Abdullah Al Sabah, the oil minister.

The investments include a fourth refinery, a project that has stalled before in the country’s parliament.

Pakistan Gas Import Plans Delayed by Floods, Iran Sanctions

Pakistan, experiencing its worst- ever flooding, will face increasing shortages of natural gas and electricity because of international sanctions against Iran and a contract dispute with an European energy supplier.

“Pakistan is desperate as it faces huge power shortages,” said Alexis Aik, head of the global gas team at FACTS Global Energy in Singapore. “It was looking to speed up liquefied natural gas imports, which are more viable than pipeline imports.”

Iran Says Turkey May Help Build Two Petrochemical Units in Country's South

Turkey and Iran may jointly build two petrochemical units, state-run Press TV news channel reported, citing Iran’s Deputy Oil Minister.

Iran and Turkey are discussing construction of an urea and an ammonia unit in the industrial hub of Assaluyeh in southern Iran, Press TV said, citing Abdolhossein Bayat, who is also the managing director of National Iranian Petrochemical Co.

SKorea's pension fund eyes US pipeline stake

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea's national pension fund says it is interested in buying Chevron's 23.4 percent stake in Colonial Pipeline.

National Pension Service official Kim Hee-seok said on Monday that the fund is in talks with the U.S. oil pipeline operator, but emphasized that nothing has been decided on who will buy the stake.

Nabucco Gas Project Plans Georgian, Iraqi Feeder Pipelines; Avoids Iran

Nabucco Gas Pipeline International GmbH plans to supply the natural-gas transmission route to Europe with links to Turkey’s borders with Georgia and Iraq and has decided against a link to the country’s border with Iran.

China's 1st deep-water drilling vessel being built

DALIAN - Construction of the world's largest deep-water oil drilling vessel has started in northeast China's Liaoning province.

Norway oil fund gives Israeli outfits the boot

Norway has excluded two Israeli companies from its $450 billion oil fund, claiming the outfits' activities in the Palestinian Occupied Territories are in breach of the fourth Geneva Convention.

Green light for Egypt clean fuel plant

Egyptian Refining Company (ERC), the joint venture leading a US$3.7 billion (Dh13.57bn) project to build a petroleum refinery within sight of the pyramids of Giza, has secured $2.6bn from a banking syndicate to finance the development.

“We are delighted to announce the debt package for what we believe stands as one of the largest project finance deals ever assembled in Africa,” said Marwan Elaraby, the managing director of Egypt’s Citadel Capital, which owns 85 per cent of ERC.

Sinopec Margins Set to Extend Slump as Fuel Prices Trail Crude

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., Asia’s biggest refiner, may extend a slump in profit from making gasoline and diesel as government price controls prevent the company from passing on higher crude-oil costs to customers.

Margins from processing oil fell 45 percent in the first six months as crude costs surged 84 percent, the company known as Sinopec said in its earnings statement yesterday. The stock declined the most in almost two months after second-quarter net income dropped 10 percent from a year earlier compared with a 40 percent increase in the preceding three months.

Compensation czar takes charge of $20 billion BP fund

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) – A $20 billion compensation fund for economic victims of the BP Gulf oil spill opens for business on Monday amid accusations that the rules established by its administrator are unfair.

Kenneth Feinberg who will run the fund said those who sustained financial loss because of the spill could claim for damages and he promised claimants more generous treatment than they would get if they sued the energy giant for damages.

Gulf claims chief defends no-sue rule

NEW ORLEANS — The new administrator for damage claims from gulf oil spill victims said yesterday that it was his idea, not BP’s, to require that anyone who receives a final settlement from the $20 billion compensation fund give up the right to sue the oil company.

Oil's gone? Dispute's not evaporating

But did the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history really just evaporate? The government says so, but then again, it also reiterated BP's low-ball estimates of the oil flow early on, just as it supported BP's contention that there were no underwater plumes of oil. Now it tells us the oil is mostly gone.

'Cash for clunkers' car dealers investigated

WASHINGTON — The government is investigating at least 20 car dealerships it claims violated the rules of last year's cash-for-clunkers program. Government auditors say up to $94 million in rebates may be ineligible because they lack the proper documentation.

One year after the $3 billion car-buying frenzy, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reached an enforcement phase. Nine dealers have paid a total of $71,500 in fines.

Shakeup for Wellington property

In residential areas changes include density restrictions increasing to medium in areas around some housing centres, starting with Johnsonville and Kilbirnie.

“This is an important step in allowing more people to live closer to services and public transport, and to a more sustainable city better equipped to adjust to the threats of climate change and peak oil,” a council spokesman said.

“We have some greenfields development provided for, but it is also important that we don’t rely on sprawl as so many cities have with all the transport problems that brings.”

Proliferation of old-style coal plants increases despite public outcry

WYODAK, WYO. -- Utilities across the country are building dozens of old-style coal plants that will cement the industry's standing as the largest industrial source of climate-changing gases for years to come.

Going Green, Without Being Preachy About It

With a white Kangol cap tipped on his shaved head just so on a recent swampy morning, Sean Meenan led a group of girls, ages 11 to 14, around the cobalt blue, lime green and Sunkist orange outdoor patio of Habana Outpost, the ecologically conscious restaurant he owns in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

He showed off the solar panels, a rainwater-collection system that feeds the toilets, a recycling and composting station, wheat-board wall paneling and corn-based plastic cups. There was even a blender powered by a bicycle.

Statoil Chief Says Oil Producer Is Committed to Renewable Energy Projects

Statoil ASA, Norway’s biggest oil and gas producer, is committed to developing its renewable- energy investments, Chief Executive Officer Helge Lund said.

“We plan to develop and deliver on the positions we have taken,” Lund said today at a press conference in Stavanger. “There’s no reason in my view to question our commitment to our strategy. It remains firm and has broad support in the management team and the board of directors.”

South Africa: Renewable Energy 'Will Boost Jobs, Manufacturers'

Johannesburg — ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners want the government to adopt ambitious targets on renewable energy. This would help SA secure global funds for climate mitigation, cut greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs, and create a secure energy supply, say the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Greenpeace.

By 2030, at least half of SA's electricity should come from renewable resources, according to a WWF report released last week.

Nuclear Plant’s Use of River Water Prompts $1.1 Billion Debate With State

BUCHANAN, N.Y. — Just beneath the wind-stippled surface of the Hudson River here, huge pipes suck enough water into the Indian Point nuclear plant every second to fill three Olympic swimming pools. And each second they take in dozens of organisms — fish and crabs, but mostly larvae — that are at the center of a $1.1 billion debate: should the plant have to put in cooling towers that would vastly reduce the intake of water?

Australia Steps Up Renewable Energy Efforts

SYDNEY — Australia has plans to build the biggest wind farm in the southern hemisphere by 2013, part of its scramble to fight climate change and harness its abundance of clean energy sources — wind, solar, waves, geothermal energy and bioenergy.

A mixed result for the environment

On the face of it, the failure of the Labor Party, under the leadership of Julia Gillard, to secure victory in the Australian elections is a setback for those who argue that democratic political systems are capable of meeting the immense challenge of climate change.

Yasuní and the New Economics of Climate Change

(CNN) -- Yasuní is both a place and a metaphor.

The place is a UNESCO Biopshere Reserve in the Ecuadorian Amazon where two indigenous communities, the Tagaeri and the Taromenane, live in voluntary isolation. Below the biosphere lie the oil fields Isphingo, Tambococha and Tiputini, abbreviated to ITT.

Yasuní the metaphor is the initiative for paying to keep that oil underground and leave the biological and cultural diversity undisturbed.

Cuts jeopardizing quality of Environment Canada's weather service: report

OTTAWA — Sustained cuts to Environment Canada weather-service programs have compromised the government's ability to assess climate change and left it with a "profoundly disturbing" quality of information in its data network, says a newly released internal government report.

The stinging assessment, obtained through an access-to-information request, suggests that Canada's climate network infrastructure is getting progressively worse and no longer meets international guidelines.

Food crisis threatens Bolivia due to climate change

Persistent drought, cold weather and flooding, all attributed to climate change, are threatening Bolivia with a food crisis, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and experts have recently warned.

FAO coordinator Einstein Tejada said one fifth of Bolivia's territory now suffer from the effects of climate change, causing food prices to rise.

Thomas Homer-Dixon: Disaster at the Top of the World

The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, and this summer its sea ice is melting at a near-record pace. The sun is heating the newly open water, so it will take longer to refreeze this winter, and the resulting thinner ice will melt more easily next summer.

At the same time, warm Pacific Ocean water is pulsing through the Bering Strait into the Arctic basin, helping melt a large area of sea ice between Alaska and eastern Siberia. Scientists are just beginning to learn how this exposed water has changed the movement of heat energy and major air currents across the Arctic basin, in turn producing winds that push remaining sea ice down the coasts of Greenland into the Atlantic.

Globally, 2010 is on track to be the warmest year on record. In regions around the world, indications abound that earth’s climate is quickly changing, like the devastating mudslides in China and weeks of searing heat in Russia. But in the world’s capitals, movement on climate policy has nearly stopped.

Hamilton: Nova Scotia joins Canada’s green energy club

I’m sitting in the office of Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter last Tuesday and he directs me to a green-tinted glass award sitting on a coffee table.

The award, received by Dexter at the Copenhagen climate summit in December 2009, recognizes Nova Scotia for creating the first law in North America to put a hard cap on carbon emissions.


So in April his NDP government released a bold renewable electricity plan that lays out a number of clear milestones, including a legal requirement to have 25 per cent of the province’s energy mix consist of renewable power by 2015. On top of that, a goal has been set to grow the green mix to 40 per cent by 2020. Even California hasn’t such ambition.

To keep electricity demand from growing, an agency called Efficiency Nova Scotia is being created to promote energy conservation and efficiency. Existing demand, meanwhile, will be increasingly met through a combination of wind, biomass and natural gas.

A feed-in-tariff, similar to that introduced in Ontario but limited to smaller community projects, is also being created to encourage local participation.

En route to the 2020 goal, the province hopes that R&D in tidal energy will begin paying off, and that transmission links to New Brunswick and eventually a subsea power cable from Labrador to Cape Breton (to the chagrin of Quebec) will open up the opportunity to import clean power.

See: http://www.thestar.com/article/849939--hamilton-nova-scotia-joins-canada...

Not all is sweetness and light, however:

Green policies require dialogue
Environmentalists continue to puzzle over the significance of the provincial government’s expedient solution earlier this summer to the threat of sharp power rate hikes.

The government acted quickly to defer a new regulatory cap on power plant mercury emissions after Nova Scotia Power Inc. signalled its intention of seek rate increases ranging from 12 to 18 per cent.

The utility cited the higher cost of low-mercury coal to meet the 2010 emission cap of 65 kilograms, down from 140 emitted last year from coal-fired generating plants. The government deferred the cap to 2014 and added a further target of 35 kilograms by 2020, maintaining that total mercury emissions would end up lower than under the original regime. NSPI subsequently applied for rate hikes for next year, ranging from 6.5 per cent to 11.3.

Regardless of the merits of the government’s action, it raises doubts about the strength of commitment to long-range environmental goals when targets laboriously derived in conjunction with national and international protocols and stakeholder consultations can be modified by the stroke of a pen. Since even the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act, passed in 2007 with all-party support, was not enough to hold government to the letter of the commitment, critics are pondering what might embed such policies more firmly. “When the government links its targets to national and international commitments and ignores them, what does this say about the government’s ability to meet targets that have no external gauges?” asks Deborah Carver, executive director of the East Coast Environmental Law Association.

See: http://www.capebretonpost.com/Opinion/Editorial/2010-08-22/article-16901...

Gerard Pelletier, a Trudeau-era Liberal cabinet minister once described New Democrats as “Liberals in a hurry". Well, on this point, they can’t move fast enough. Best hopes for sticking to the original plan and living up to one’s commitments and getting the lead out (as well as the Hg, SO2, NOx, CO2 ...).


Saudi Unemployment



Unemployed Women in KSA


I keep wondering about the Islamic Republic of Arabia replacing the House of Saud. And how much will internal demand increase if everybody gets a job ?


Thanks for the links Alan, interesting topic. Indexmundi says KSA unemployment was 25% 2003-2005, tailing off thereafter to 11-13%: Saudi Arabia Unemployment rate - Economy But they just collate info from the CIA, who have this caveat to their own numbers: "data are for Saudi males only (local bank estimates; some estimates range as high as 25%)." Then there's the article on female unemployment, stating "28.4 per cent against 6.9 per cent among men." Pick a number, any number. How about historical precedents? This says Iranian unemployment was 25% - in 1980: History: Iran 1979: A revolution that was taken from the working class | socialistworld.net

Population growth rates will eventually bring down more than one nation in the Middle East. Compare Iran and Saudi Arabia with Germany and Japan over the last 50 years. Iran will be bigger than Germany in 5 years! And what about Saudi Arabia, a nation with little arable land that must desalinate water? How stable will KSA be in 2028 when, according to current projections, they will have the same population that Canada does today. That's only 18 years out.

(Charts from the Population Trends databrowser.)

Best Hopes for delayed marriages.


The Atlantic Monthly had a very insightful article in 2003 titled: "The Fall of the House of Saud". Robert Baer argues that demographics make it highly likely that Saudi's will not be able to financially support the exponential increase in the size of the royal family, or to create meaningful employment for a very young workforce.

The House of Saud currently has some 30,000 members. The number will be 60,000 in a generation, maybe much higher. According to reliable sources, anecdotal evidence, and the Saudi gossip machine, the royal family is obsessed with gambling, alcohol, prostitution, and parties. And the commissions and other outlays to fund their vices are constant. What would the price of oil have to be in 2025 to support even the most basic privileges—for example, free air travel anywhere in the world on Saudia, the Saudi national airline—that the Saudi royals have come to enjoy? Once the family numbers 60,000, or 100,000, will there even be a spare seat for a mere commoner who wants to fly out of Riyadh or Jidda?


Then there's the demographic problem. Saudi Arabia has one of the highest birth rates in the world outside Africa—37.25 births for every 1,000 citizens last year, compared with 14.5 per 1,000 in the United States. Ninety-seven percent of all Saudis are sixty-four or younger, and half the population is under eighteen. The simple presence of so many people of working age, and especially so many just now ready to enter the work force, places enormous pressure on an economy—particularly one designed less to accommodate those who want to work than to provide sustenance for those who would rather contemplate original intent in the Koran. A middle class stabilizes society. Saudi Arabia's middle class is imploding.


The CIA factbook lists Saudi Arabia as having a population growth rate of 1.84% per year. The average women will have 3.77 children--which places Saudi Arabia between Iraq and Haiti. So despite the Saudi oil wealth, the population growth rate suggests that the populace may be a poverty levels in a number of years.

Of interest, both Qatar and UAE have birth rates of 2.45 births per woman. Without doing any research, I'd expect the education level for women to be higher in these countries.

Housing Fades as a Means to Build Wealth

The wealth generated by housing in those decades, particularly on the coasts, did more than assure the owners a comfortable retirement. It powered the economy, paying for the education of children and grandchildren, keeping the cruise ships and golf courses full and the restaurants humming.

More than likely, that era is gone for good.

In Striking Shift, Small Investors Flee Stock Market

Renewed economic uncertainty is testing Americans’ generation-long love affair with the stock market.

Investors withdrew a staggering $33.12 billion from domestic stock market mutual funds in the first seven months of this year, according to the Investment Company Institute, the mutual fund industry trade group. Now many are choosing investments they deem safer, like bonds.

Seems like people are realizing that the things that worked for their parents aren't going to work for them.

Actually Leanan, even though mutual funds have reduced lately, DOW volume is still quite high as we can see from the graph at the link below:


The first chart shows daily price totals for the companies listed on the DOW, and the chart below shows volume.

Volume and investment are two different things, with heavy program trading as the dominant factor.

Volume and investment are two different things,

Oh Wrong! The volume shows how much money is moving in this case, the Dow, numerous corporations. People are buying and selling. If they were all selling the price would drop precipitously, therefore much of that volume are buys. For how long the investment is held depends on the fund or individual. Much of the stock purchased today is probably held for much shorter periods of time, but have no illusions, there are many trillions invested in the stock market and billions, on the order of 4-8 billion just in the DOW trading hands each day. But there's also the NASDAQ and S&P, and thousands of other stocks not reflected in those exchanges. The volume is so important - that really shows a lot of naivety to say volume and investment are two different things.

I'm not sure why the link didn't work, but anyway the average volume of money moving in the DOW over time dwarfs the recent reduction in mutual funds, and the DOW only reflects part of the stock market. The amount mentioned by Leanan is a drop in the bucket.

Don't get me wrong, I am peak oil aware and know at some point an oil supply crunch in 2011-2014 will cause another market crash, but for now the volume is huge. Probably in part because trades can now be made by computer.

I think alot of the volume is high frequency trading (hft) between hedgies skimming the market, retail investors are done, been burned too many times or are older and can't tolerate the risk level anymore. So the high volume you see is probaby more likely hft's trading amongst themselves.

So the high volume you see is probaby more likely hft's trading amongst themselves.

Here's a better chart showing volume just for the DOW.


Here's a website showing the value of the money invested in the stock market:


As of today, the Total Market Index is at $ 11094.4 billion, which is about 76% of the last reported GDP.

Eleven thousand and 94.4 billion, is over 11 trillion dollars. 30 billion would equate to .0027 of that amount. A drop in the bucket.

It's an investment equal to 76% of US GDP.

But like I say, when the oil supply crunch hits there's going to be a whole lot of people losing their shirts.

I am no expert, but I'm not naive, either. Big firms making program trades rapidly is not the same as little guys investing for the long-haul, and lots of volume only makes money for the trading desks, not the investor.

You can certainly have large volume down days. The flash crash comes instantly to mind as well.

Ok, maybe I was a little rough with the naive bit, but did you read my last post? The investment value of the stock market is over 11 trillion, which means 30 some billion is extremely minor in comparison. (Leanan's post was suggesting a flight from the stock market as a form of investment.) Although mutual funds go lower and higher as the market rises and drops, there are no conclusions to reach by the recent minor drop in mutual fund investment.

That 11 trillion market valuation is not traded daily. Most of it is held long term. Volume does play a major role in the stock market, as one indicator of investment value. They have a graph for the price of a stock as it fluctuates over time, but investors also look at volume to determine the interest by other investors in a stock, or in the market as a whole. If a particular stock you are thinking of investing in has little or no volume, avoid it.

And boomers with sense are moving from risk to securities while waiting their final years before retirement. And of course those retiring will pull out money routinely to spend.

I don't see how there will be enough investors to buy, when the boomers retire and the next generation is in a sandwich squeeze between kids and parents with higher taxes to boot, living from week to week.

Even if there is no crash, the current generation is going to struggle. It'll just be worse with so much money funneling to banks and credit companies.

A lot of that 33.12 billion aint never coming back I don't think.
The boomers cannot afford more losses. They're a big part of that volume. I'm probably pretty typical. I've watched very closely the market over the past ten years; it has gone nowhere. I have "rebalanced" down to under 20% equity exposure and more will be coming out of the stock market in a few months once I turn 59 and a half and can cash out my 403(B). The difference between me and most other boomers is that I hate the bond market, too. Right now, I'm about 18% equities, 18% Treasuries, around 28% gold & silver and about 35% in cash.

Now many are choosing investments they deem safer, like bonds.

If that is the case, it is time to flee bonds - which will be decimated when interest rates start rising - and start moving into the stock market. The bear market in stocks will probably last for another 5-7 years. Apart from hard assets like precious metals, food and energy, dividend paying DJIA stocks are a good investment if you have a 10 year horizon. I particularly like: JNJ, PG, KFT and PFE.

Absolutelly correct. For shorter term bonds, the danger is now default. For longer term, if you need the money the price is going to come down as rates go up. If you hold them, the longer you Lwait the less value you see. ow current interest rates become lower during term and there is still the danger of default. Rampant inflation may decrease danger of default, but makes return on investment impossible.

Of course there are inflation protected bonds:


You will note that the interest paid is half the going rate. So... there you are, it might be the best investment available in terms of risk over return.


This was on the front page of USA Today this morning:

Wall Street debates prospect of bond bubble

NEW YORK — Is a bubble brewing in the normally sedate U.S. government bond market?

That's the big debate raging on Wall Street. Heavy buying of 10-year Treasury notes by investors in search of a safe place to park cash, as well as higher yields than available on certificates of deposit, is pushing prices of government-issued debt sharply higher — and knocking yields down to levels last seen 17 months ago in the depths of the financial crisis.

I don't understand why anybody in his right mind would buy 10 year treasury bonds paying 2.6% interest when then you could buy JNJ which pays 3.7% dividend (http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=jnj). With JNJ you also get the benefit of currency diversification since more than 50% of their revenue comes from doing business abroad. Also, JNJ is likely to increase their dividends which is not going to happen with bonds.

US treasuries are too boring for the bubble hype-sters.
There's no way they can scam investors so they scare them into gold (which has no return) with the theoretical possibility-turned dead certainty of hyperinflation.

Why would the US government try for hyperinflation if they are able to sell gov't bonds at 2%?

The only ones who stand to profit from hyperinflation are goldbug-hypnotists who hope their autosuggestions become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

How to hypnotize yourself without losing your mind

The question is when will the golden bubble collapse?

US treasuries are too boring for the bubble hype-sters.

No, the problem is that they yield too little, the US government has too much debt and unfunded obligations and the Fed is creating too much money out of thin air and promising to create even more.

There's no way they can scam investors so they scare them into gold (which has no return) with the theoretical possibility-turned dead certainty of hyperinflation.

Gold has no return? It is the only asset that has gone up every year since 2001. Gold is up 5 times since the summer of 2001. Gold mining stocks are up a lot too (although they have performed poorly since 2006).

Why would the US government try for hyperinflation if they are able to sell gov't bonds at 2%?

This is priceless! So you think the government decides whether we have hyperinflation or not? Hyperinflation occurs when there is a loss of faith in the currency. Do you think people could lose faith in the US dollar if Bernanke keeps creating trillions of dollars out of thin air? Read this: http://www.businessinsider.com/hussman-bernankes-quantitative-easing-is-...
Here is another article from Wall Street Journal which explains why gold is a currency and not a commodity. WSJ is hardly a bastion of gold bugs: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870390870457543367077174288...

By the way, your graph shows we had a gold bubble in 1980, not today. Just before the bubble bursts, the graph goes parabolic. That has not yet happened with gold.

Gold like land, it doesn't pay a dividend, it appreciates based on the number of believers in circulation. I'd agree that one reason gold is holding up is that the return on treasuries and stocks is low, keeping the goldbugs from being tempted away from their favorite metal.

Hussman's HSGFX load growth fund returned 1.35% per year over 5 years according to Yahoo finance. The thought of years of low growth is scarier to him than hyperinflation.

number of believers in circulation.

The # of believers? Rather low hanging fruit for the 'determination' of 'value'.

Is not every market driven by what people 'believe'?

Gold like land, it doesn't pay a dividend, ...

Most stocks don't pay a dividend either. People buy gold to protect themselves from spendthrift governments and irresponsible central banks. It is not a big deal to forgo interest when the interest rates are so low.

....it appreciates based on the number of believers in circulation.

Isn't that true for every market?

Hussman's HSGFX load growth fund returned 1.35% per year over 5 years according to Yahoo finance. The thought of years of low growth is scarier to him than hyperinflation.

You can have low growth and hyperinflation at the same time. Hyperinflation is not caused by demand pull/cost push; it is caused when all faith in paper currency is lost. When it happens, it happens suddenly over weeks or months.

Huh??? Reading Craig's comment along with the one he's responding to leaves me feeling like I'm in the Twilight Zone! To explain let me refer to a video clip most readers of this site must have seen a number of times:

Colin Campbell predicts credit crunch due to peak oil 2005

From 1 min. 50 sec. in according to him it's Game Over Baby!

From my point of view, if you've got a 10 year horizon, the only assets that will be worth anything much will be assets linked to the production of essential goods and services (for a shrinking population) like food, water and energy. In my view there will be an excess of shelter (housing) due to die off (unless natural disasters trash a huge amount of real estate, not impossible) and the remaining population should be able to scavenge for clothing for a while at least.

Alan from the islands

Good analysis, Alan. If I were making investments, they would be in food processing (Gen Foods, etc.), but not in ag (e.g. not ADM). Clothing, well... most corps are heavy into international trade. I don't know if that has a future, though I suppose it will last for a while. Still, scavenging might do for a bit.

Myself, I'm too old to worry about this too much, except that I am helping my grandkids and need to figure what they should prepare for. I guess that local farming, electrical engineering, bio-chemical engineering and local clothing manufacture will be good. I personally believe we will have electrical power, and that transportation will be in the electrified mass transit venue. Street rail, maybe conversion of some busses to electric ala San Francisco today. Inter city transit will have to be by rail. Thus the EE emphasis.

Oh, and education! We need to preserve and pass along technologies that are viable in a lower energy powered future. That means new techniques, a whole new energy paradigm and infrastructure. That capitalists are not seeing this and gearing up is strange... but then greed is their motive and that means this week, month and quarter, and forget about next year, much less 5 years or more into the future. They think that they can turn it around overnight when the need is there. I think they are mistaken.


They're talking about it now on CNBC. One of the talking heads pointing out that in the early '90s, everyone was convinced that interest rates on Japanese government bonds would have to rise. That was the favorite trade among a lot of experts. For years.

But it never happened. More than 20 years later, they're still waiting.

I think we are heading toward a world in which, if you want to spend a dollar 20 years from now, you save a dollar now. After inflation, taxes, and losses on investments that didn't work out, you'll have what you started with ... if you are careful and a little lucky.

A little while back the yield on a 5-year inflation protected US treasury actually went negative. Buyers were happy to buy those things even though, after inflation, they were guaranteed to have a (slight) loss after 5 years. Since then it's gone up to .2%. Almost nothing.

What I've increasingly begun to understand is that what has developed since 1971 is the biggest financial bubble in the recorded history of humankind.

When all is said and done, only gold, and perhaps silver, will retain value.

What I'm willing to admit, though, is that this knowledge may not be useful. Kind of like knowing that eventually we will run completely out of usable oil. That doesn't change the fact that oil is available now, and to many people will be available for quite some time.

So for now cash and certain types of bonds should do fine. I don't like equities, particularly because of volatility and manipulation, but also because economic growth based on globalization of large corporations won't work any longer. Although the adventurous might want to look at some small to mid caps in developing countries.

The end game will be bond market dislocations, currencies collapsing, and the restoration of a gold standard. But by the time that happens, we may all be dead, or how much "money" we have may be the least of our concerns.

Well put. Any honest assessment of the world economy would have indicated it was unsustainable long ago, but the path from here to there is not yet known.

Still I think we should avoid becoming too negative in the short run, even though in the long run we will have to adapt to some kind of new economic system to deal with falling oil supplies. Common investors are being scared into long term bonds, which is probably going to be as big as mistake as rushing into the market 10 years ago.

Need I also point out that the public in general usually gets major turns in the market wrong? Why should it be different this time?

but the path from here to there is not yet known.

Reasonable guesses can be made:

Greer's Stages of Technic Societies

Re: Calls to tackle rising oil imports, up top:


Gridlock on a Chinese scale.

South America Enters the LNG World

South America is about to change from a region of natural gas self-sufficiency to a source of demand for liquified natural gas (LNG) imports. A peak in production in long-time producer Argentina has caused natural gas shortages in the Southern Cone while political issues are affecting exploration and development in Bolivia and Venezuela, the two nations with the largest gas reserves. A recently inaugurated liquefaction plant in Peru will enhance exports of LNG from Peru but existing and planned LNG regasification terminals in Argentina, Brazil and Chile will result in increased imports into the dominant economies. The region is on track to become a significant importer of natural gas over the next decade.

(Sorry for the repeat post but Friday afternoon is not the best time to get feedback from TOD.)

The above piece is part of my attempt to understand "Peak Natural Gas Exports" throughout the world in preparation for the ASPO conference in October. I would appreciate any corrections, comments or additional insight. Graphics in the piece are from the Energy Export Databrowser and from a prototype Gas Trends Databrowser that has both BP and EIA data and is focused solely on natural gas.



The Uruguayan Government says that they are going to build a LNG terminal in Montevideo, in association with Argentina. It is not clear if it will be land based or in a ship. Ought to be built between this year and 2011, but they have been saying the same thing for the last ten years and it is Argentina who has to put up most of the money so I expect more delays.
The gas pipeline between both countries is a joke, another factor.
Sometimes you can read about energy issues there in http://www.elpais.com.uy

jsc, i realize this makes your job harder and not easier, but here goes anyhow:

how much gas in place in ghawar permian khuff:

          s.pars/n.dome         ghawar pk

A, km^2	       9700		  7500*
A, acres      2.42e6 	         1.85e6

Hnet, ft	662**	           360***	
Sg, fraction   	0.8	  	   0.8
Phi, fraction	0.125		   0.125
Bg, rcf/scf	0.00388		   0.00359
G, tcf		1800		    822

G=gas in place

*'gas' area including the permian khuff, paleozoic unayzah and devonian jauf from fig. 1 of:


***net pay estimated from fig 19

** estimated from published - G,A,phi,Sg and Bg
these estimates are a result of an ongoing review of spe papers on gas/condensate in place in gpk.

south pars/north dome is a broad relatively flat dome with less relief than gpk which is longer and narrower with greater structural relief.

a challenge to the rabid doomers herein:show where these figures are wrong.


I really appreciate your calling my attention to the geologic details of the South Pars/North Dome and Ghawar gas fields. My interest and knowledge is more focused on geopolitics than on geology. The two of these together are what determine actual flow rates -- geology setting a production upper bound and economics/geopolitics constraining actual production below that theoretical maximum.

Like you, I am also of the opinion that the "rabid doomer" story is too simple. We are certainly at or close to "peak oil" but "peak gas" may be another decade or more away and there will be a lot of fuel switching over the next decade just as there was in Europe in response to the '73 and '80 oil shocks.

On the other hand, I also believe that the appetite for power generation in the Middle East may match the region's ability to produce natural gas. We won't know this for sure, however, until all the appropriate pipeline, LNG and grid infrastructure is in place so those news stories are also part of the overall picture.

That's why "Peak Exports" is such a compelling topic.

yeah, geopolitics. looking at the ghawar reference above, the claim is that ghawar paleozoic reservoirs were producing 6 bcfd, presumably in '05. bp shows 6.7 bcfd for all of saudi arabia for '05. the 6 bcfd from ghawar is probably wet gas so that may have shrunk to 4 bcf methane.

that leaves 2.7 bcfd from all the rest.

bp shows 7.6 bcfd in '08 and 7.5 bcfd in '09, indicating maybe 12.5 bcfd wet gas currently and possibly in the range of 7.5 bcfd wet gas from ghawar paleozoic reservoirs.

i can't find the reference, but ksa alledgedly forecast an electrical generation demand of, from memory, 3.5 bcfd, (that may have related to '03) . i'm assuming the balance of the gas is used primarily in petrochemicals.

Chevron Ex-Chief Executive O'Reilly Named a Saudi Aramco Director by King


chevron is also operator for the saudi-kuwait neutral zone.

I think someone on TOD made mention of this a couple weeks back.

Stock Swing Still Baffles, With an Ominous Tone

The stock market mysteriously plunges 600 points — and then, more mysteriously, recovers within minutes. Over the next few weeks, analysts at Nanex, an obscure data company in the suburbs of Chicago, examine trading charts from the day and are stunned to find some oddly compelling shapes and patterns in the data.

To the Nanex analysts, these are crop circles of the financial kind, containing clues to the mystery of what happened in the markets on May 6 and what might have caused the still-unexplained flash crash.

The charts — which are visual representations of bid prices, ask prices, order sizes and other trading activity — are inspiring many theories on Wall Street, some of them based on hard-nosed financial analysis and others of the black-helicopter variety.

Nice juxtaposition of articles--one about the surge in dirty coal plant construction, the other about the fundamentally altered state of the entire Arctic region.

The latter proposes a plan Z to mitigate the effects of the catastrophes that are already baked in, but meanwhile we are busily making sure that things will continue to get much, much worse.

It also described a very bizarre phenomenon of slow motion waves moving undulating the thin, cracked ice sheet. Is it the relative rigidity of the ice that slows down the waves?

Weird and disturbing--a once essentially wave-less ocean is now turbulent, which will both break up the ice yet faster, and will mix the warmer surface waters down into depths it would not otherwise have gone, melting clathrates in shallow areas.

The feedbacks just keep proliferating, all in the wrong direction, apparently.

We often discuss the idea of a "death from a thousand cuts" here on TOD. While AGW is not the primary focus of this site, climate change seems to be the one big issue, the giant club that will bash civilization repeatedly in the head and send it reeling, bloodied and blinded into the wilderness. No enlightened policies can change that now.

I agree. The best that we can do is slow it down a bit (much easier to adapt to if slower) and lower the maximum, thereby reducing the long term disruption at peak.


I admire your limited optimism, Alan. Always have, though I have an especially bad feeling about this one issue.

Coming soon......... to a region near you:

Don't think of it as a hardship kids, think of it as an adventure!

Been there, done that :-(


After being a member for about a year and a half, I tend to think it is global population (billions and billions of little cuts) that seems to be the largest factor.

Isn't that CO2, potable water, energy, food, FFs... all strongly moved by the population size? It seems that population size influences them the most.

Population is the ultimate cause, climate change the ultimate consequence.

It's population TIMES consumption.

If we all consumed at the rate of the poorest 20% (who only consume about 2% of the world's resources), we wouldn't be anywhere near the rate of CO2 production as we are now, even with a few more billion people.

If everyone in the world consumed at the rate of the top 20% (who consume about 80% of the world's resources), we would need to find and use up a new earth-like planet every few years just to keep up.

Stop flying, greatly reduce or eliminate car use, and switch to vegetarian or vegan diet (or even just greatly reducing your consumption of industrially raised meat and animal products), and you can quickly come close to a sustainable lifestyle.

See where you are now and what you can do quickly to reduce your impact:


That's backwards thinking, consumption is the world economy. Everything that is produced must be consumed in some form. The poorest live terrible and are simply economically unproductive.

If you're driving off a cliff, going backwards might not be a bad idea.. You can turn the wheel a bit.. you don't have to end up at 1744 and smear mud on your face to be legit..

Frankly, 'Consumption is the World Economy' is the backwards concept. If you're still breathing, then you still require a living planet on which to live.

If something causes problems, such as CO2 emissions. Then the action needs to be priced accordingly.

Great. Then run for congress on the ticket that you will raise everyone's carbon tax!

To a certain degree I do the things you list - but not out of some misplaced sense of eco-guilt.

I do them to save money.

Re: South Africa: Renewable Energy 'Will Boost Jobs, Manufacturers', up top.

That has been the experience around here.

Poet’s ethanol plant at Hanlontown created 40 good paying jobs. Like all ethanol plants it runs 24/7 so staffing is higher than one would think.

I’m continuing show and tell about the post Peak Oil renewable energy infrastructure surrounding me here in north Iowa.

Just west of the Manly Terminal I talked about yesterday, is another ethanol plant just off 35 W on Highway 9. It is one of many plants owned by Poet.


This is the Google Maps view:


There is a another picture of it at the top of Poet Hanlontown web site:


It can produce 56 million gallons of ethanol per year.

I could take some of my corn here since the plant is only 14 miles away from my house, but I take it to the local co-op in Forest City where I have a share and which is 8 miles away instead. Then they haul it to the plant.

So the corn really travels farther than necessary because I don’t have nice equipment and am use to the local co-op. I find ethanol plants intimidating and fear my corn will be rejected since they don’t do blending.

Ethanol plants are unfriendly belching faceless monsters to me.

What worries me is ethanol's incredibly low EROI(really, I can't keep from thinking about it, day and night) and the way it will suck dry all the water from Iowa's crop land.
No doubt the entire state will have to be massively irrigated by 2012( the part that isn't underwater half the time, that is).

Nonsense. Iowa's ethanol is made from corn. If
the corn wasn't grown for ethanol the same corn
would be grown for animal feed or exported.

Or human food... and exported. Now a lot more humans will go hungry.

Ron P.

The hungry humans would still go hungry. The reason that they are hungry is that they do not have money to buy food, not that food is unavailable.

Many of the world's hungry, for example in the Sahel, are "locavores". They are peasants doing subsistance farming or they are in villages and small cities dependent on the agriculture in the immediate area. Local overpopulation, combined with bad weather such as drought, floods, and freezes, reduces local food production, and the people starve or engage in ethnic conflicts over the available resources.

Yes people are hungry because they cannot afford food. However the price of food is determined by the supply of food.

An example: People of Haiti are fed with very cheap imported rice from the USA, subsidized by US aid. We sell rice to Haiti cheaper than the Haitians can grow it. The US has been criticized for doing this. The argument goes that we put Haitian rice farmers out of business by selling rice cheaper than they could grow it. This is true. However it is also true that many Haitians would otherwise starve because they could never afford to pay the market price for rice.

Corn, and other grain prices would be a bit cheaper if the land used to produce ethanol were used to produce corn or wheat instead. And more people would be able to afford to eat. But of course this would lead to...

The story is never as simple as it seems Merrill. The choice is always between the greater evil and the lesser evil.

Ron P.

Yet the available supply of food that determines the price is a local phenomenon through much of the world.

19M tons of corn in Iowa silos does nothing for the hungry in Sudan unless they are able to pay enough for it to make it worth someone's while to ship it there, not just across the ocean but the last (and possibly most expensive) 100 miles to their village.

Darfur is over 2000 km from the nearest seaports. It would be like shipping food to Sioux Falls without the St Lawrence Seaway, railroads in the midwest, or the interstate highway system.

About 6.5 million children under 5 die each year due to malnutrition related causes. This is more than half the whole population of Haiti each year.

But the price of corn in Iowa doesn't have much to do with the problem.

Not a problem. On the first of January we get a whole new environment to use up.

This from:


BHP Billiton has obtained a loan to back its $40bn hostile takeover bid for PotashCorp of Saskatchewan. The miner announced on Wednesday morning that its cash offer was fully funded.

Have you hugged your bag of NPK ... opps I mean your butt Today? :-)

more from :


"The big news today is that Potash (POT) has officially rejected the $39 billion buyout bid it got from BHP Billiton (BHP) last week. Now Potash is looking around for a “white knight” to rescue them, but it won’t be easy. Billiton’s bid is $130 per share which is pretty rich"

Hungry yet? Got P ?

Overcapacity in oil refinery sector leads to strong export growth

In the first half of 2010, China's gasoline and diesel exports rose by nearly 68 percent and 22 percent, respectively, compared with the same period last year, according to the statistics released by the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Association. Qi Yuqin, an oil analyst from the sci99.com Web site, said that in recent years China's refining capacity was concentrated while the growth of demand slowed, and the excess refining capacity directly led to the strong growth in oil exports. In January and April, the monthly rises in oil exports both exceeded 100 percent and in April, exports even rose by about 386 percent.

LPG cars no longer 'disgraceful' in Turkey

Approximately 400,000 cars in Turkey implement liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG, every year to obtain nearly 45 percent fuel saving, not excluding luxurious vehicles costing between 150,000 euros and 200,000 euros.

“As Ekipgaz, we observe that there is an increase in the number of people, who prefer LPG conversion in their luxury vehicles,” according to Nurullah Taç, a board member in Ekipgaz, Turkey distributor of Italian Gasitaly.

India's Mahindra vows to become global SUV player

AFP - Indian carmaker Mahindra and Mahindra said Monday it would use its purchase of South Korea's Ssangyong Motor to become a global player in the sport utility vehicle market.

Pawan Goenka, president of Mahindra's automotive and farm sector, said the merger would help both companies expand in the global market.

"We believe that Ssangyong and Mahindra make powerful companies to create a global SUV brand," he told reporters after the Indian company signed a preliminary agreement to buy a controlling stake in Ssangyong.

"We believe that Ssangyong and Mahindra make powerful companies to create a global SUV brand," he told reporters after the Indian company signed a preliminary agreement to buy a controlling stake in Ssangyong.

What a bunch of total morons... don't they know the party is over? The lights are being turned out, it's time to go home, and they are just arriving now?

Day Late Dollar Short.


How silly of you Fred! Don't you know that the recovery is just around the corner? Don't tell me you believe all this "Peak Oil" nonsense. /sarconol

Alan from the islands

Kinda like SpiceJet Airlines - fulfilling everyone's dream of flying ...


What I Did On Summer Vacation

Kunstler's latest. Does New England really look like this now, or is it exaggeration? Sounds more like Texas.

Mr. Kunstler is descending from the original heights of fresh insight into the depths of mere intellectual schtick. When it comes to acerbic tirades, things get old by the 589th go-round, whether they're true or not.


James has the unenviable task of documenting a slow-motion disaster in the hyper realtime blogosphere. His rhetorical style can get a bit tiresome and not a little bit holier than thou. Unfortunately, what he says is just too often right on the money.

I enjoy reading Kunstler, but wonder why he keeps making these trips knowing how horrible it will be. I guess he just needs something to write about and he excels in writing about ugliness, bloat, recession,and destruction. But his carbon footprint appears to be massive, driving and flying all over the country documenting the disaster.

He went to Acadia. Where Obama recently vacationed, and a place I'd love to go myself one day. He liked it there. It was the trip there and back that he described as horrible.

I drove through Connecticut last weekend, and was really struck by how many closed businesses there were. It was noticeably worse than Kunstler's neck of the woods (upstate NY). I'm not sure why.

On a recent trip, I noticed that outdoor advertising has fallen on hard times. There were many billboards that were just white, had a "advertise here" message, or carried a public service message. It seemed like some had been removed, and others were in disrepair or blocked by trees.

Part of it may be that internet, GPS information services, and the little blue services signs at the intersections are replacing billboards. But part may also be the downturn in retail business.

Part of it may be the many people who, like myself, hate billboards and try to avoid businesses that advertise on them.

There were many billboards that were just white, had a "advertise here" message, or carried a public service message.

It's the type of advertising a business does when things are going real good, because it's very expensive. There's the billboard design, printing and service to install it, but also billboards are usually leased on a minimum of 6 months. You're right, it just doesn't make sense in this economy.

Mainly exaggeration, but with a kernel of truth. Some beach areas do get to looking a bit tawdry. And yet. And yet one most suppose that virtually any beach area whatever that's not closed off and tightly controlled in the manner of a national park would probably look tawdry to an eye like Kunstler's, an eye apparently attuned to centrally planned, rigidly enforced, earnest earth-tone dullness relieved at the very most by a touch of regulation picket-fence white. God only knows in what ways the vibrant colors of, say, the Akihabara, might permanently damage such a delicate eye.

But on another hand you really must admit that the American land blimp is a spectacle to behold - one that may be even more fascinating to foreigners than to Kunstler. I still remember with fond bemusement ... oh, let's call her the Australian Arse Lady for the moment, someone I encountered at Makuhari Messe in Chiba years ago. In her professed fascination with said blimps, she had accumulated something of a photo album while touring the USA before stopping off in Japan, documenting the various amazing shapes that rolls of fat could take on as they schlumped and waddled and gawumped through shopping malls, airports, and streetscapes. Had her tour, like Kunstler's, taken place during the lightly-clothed beach/swimming season instead of the late fall, the bemusement would surely have been deeper and more complete...

Kunstler should visit a Florida airport on a Saturday pm, when the cruise ships disgorge their cargos for the flights home.

Literally LOL'ed at your comment.

When I was 14, we had a French exchange student for a couple of months. We went to the airport to meet him upon his arrival in the country.

The first thing he said to me, upon getting off the plane, was not "hello" or "My name is ------", but "Zee women in your country...Zey are so fat!".

Thanks for the link to the Kunstler vacation. It was the most I've laughed in a long time. I'll have to read it to my wife who will also appreciate the humor, albeit dark.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire's little wedge of seacoast has been completely coated in vinyl, as if some angry god decoupaged the darn thing after eating a bad clam roll.

Apparently some brilliant state wonk got the idea that they could maximize revenue by selling liquor to motorists.

I honestly don't see how there can be anything alive left to catch out there with the industrial-strength trawlers scraping the ocean floor as if they were Zamboni machines grooming the rink at the Boston Garden.

Is there any way to eff up a landscape that has not been tried there, short of all-out war.

Maine is where the oil fields of Texas crawled off to die, and left their remains in a thousand miniature golf courses, giant plastic signs shaped like lighthouses, lobsters, schooners, whales, fisher-folk and other ghost-like entities no longer of this world, and enough asphaltic free parking to accommodate the automobile club of the hosts of hell.

The American middle class with their quaint touristic habits will join the codfish, sperm whales, and great auk in the Atlantic Ocean's extinction Hall of Fame.

The majesty of Acadia National Park is a rebuke to all the tragic hucksterism that destroyed the coastline everywhere else in New England through the miserable 20th century.

Even there in the New England backwaters, the toxic superhero-thug culture of Hollywood rules and the idle grandsons of mill-workers glowered in death-metal regalia at passing strangers as if they were auditioning for parts in the next Road Warrior movie.

The orange rubber cones were deployed along the center line of I-91 for scores of miles, with absolutely no sign that any project -- shovel-ready or otherwise -- was underway, leading us to suspect that the project of cone deployment for its own sake was a kind of rogue stimulus program.

We saw that endless cone bit in Pennsylvannia with no road construction in sight. It caused us to get sort of mesmerized, so we had to keep switching off.

Glad you got a laugh from it.

I'm afraid that while he points to many legitimate problems, that's pretty much all he'll ever look for, and all he'll see around working class America.. and is happy to trumpet it triumphantly.

There are worthwhile things going on up the Eastern Seaboard, but it's easier to perpetuate the sneering that is exactly what will make those Grandsons of Millworkers scowl right back at him, certain that they'll get nothing other than his continued Opprobrium. A vicious cycle in perfect balance.

Acadia is lovely, but so is the Maine Coast leading up to it.. only it sags under crushing poverty, where it hasn't been bought up by visiting wealth (I thought his Texas reference might have been about Simmons, at first), where the shoreline gets gated away from Mainers, to become FairyTale castles..

Ironic enough that he delivers a Highway-speed analysis from his car window. What would he expect to see from there?

I've been wondering why natural gas producers continue to drill so much when the price of NG is so low. This article seems to provide the answer -- they drill to secure the lease. But if prices truly are below cost, how long can this continue?

To further support the notion that future supply of natural gas is likely to remain plentiful, exploration and production companies will continue to drill. Despite prices that are below the cost of production in some of the most prolific U.S. gas fields, drillers need to continue to drill into shale formations in order to prevent a forfeiture of their leases. Additionally, if a driller successfully drills a gas well, it can hold the lease in perpetuity, maintaining the right to drill future wells in hopes that other forces will result in supply and demand shocks which will provide price support of the commodity.

In a nutshell, natural gas drillers will continue to drill in shale formations to ensure they don’t lose their lease rights, which is likely to keep supply and demand of the commodity in-line and the price of the clean burning fuel relatively low.

Increased Demand Fails to Spark Natural Gas ETFs

According to a recent WSJ article, a number of shale gas players have their properties for sale.

This kinda reminds me of an old saw about building contractors:

They might go broke building yet another house. They go broke for sure if they don't build another house.

They might go broke building yet another house. They go broke for sure if they don't build another house.

I was getting my kid moved into a rental house in Merced California and could see how this works. He's a great almost new house, that the parents of a sophmore bought because they were too cheap to pass up. The neighborhood also has lots of empty lots, roads driveways, and just the beginning of utiloities hookups, then they were bandoned by the builders, when they figured out they could only sell them for far below the cost of construction. According to wikipedia, the area has the greatest drop in the country in housing prices 62%. But, at least that means cheap housing far beyond the quality of anything I could have dreamed of during my college career is available.

In a nutshell, natural gas drillers will continue to drill in shale formations to ensure they don’t lose their lease rights,....

a vicious ponzi cycle, a few high ip wells, a land boom, a drilling boom, falling instead of rising prices, continued drilling of too expensive to drop acerage. paint your wagon, move along.

Regarding the surge in SUV sales, I recently encountered some interesting feedback from two different families.

As the economy has sank lower and lower, unemployment threatens more and more people. I've encountered at least two different cases now where a family with disposable income has chosen the following type maneuver:

1. Acquire arable land, either with a working well or where a working well can reasonably expect to be drilled.
2. Build minimal facilities on that land, including a septic tank, often with a concrete block bathroom facility.
3. Add a concrete pad, either with or without a steel roof of sufficient height to allow a truck and/or trailer to be placed underneath it.
4. Acquire (dirt cheap, it seems) a used travel trailer. Here in Texas I recently saw 29 foot travel trailers (towed) starting at $2995 so it seems this can be done quiet cheaply.
5. Acquire a truck or SUV to do the towing. The SUV also serves for transporting a family around town as well.

The above steps have given at least 2 families an "out" from the urban rat race if their jobs fall through. They have places to go that they own free and clear and they have shelter, though perhaps not ideal. I see multiple problems with this approach but it may beat sitting in place if social services break down due to potential government defaults on debt eventually. Under this approach they rationalized their purchase of the SUV both as a family vehicle and as a way to tow their trailer to its destination.

I am not trying to rationalize the above approach, however, to find similar logic in two separate cases within the time frame of just a few months is interesting.

You can get extremely low Prop. Tax eval.s on portables, as well.

Makes the idea of living in a tent look better.. but no, we just bought a second house, turning the old one from a 2 to a 3 unit rental.. and the second house is a 2-unit. Knock wood that the rental market stays solid! (2 Uni's, Walkable Port City.. all 4 units taken right now)


I know of more than one tow type camper-travel trailer-that has found a permanent home in a barn-often purpose built-or under a large carport type shelter, in my nieghborhood.They are within a hundred feet or so of the [perimary residence in every case.

The owners have tied into thier domestic water and sewage systems, and they have a hard up relative living very quietly in the camper in every case.

Having the camper out of sight prevents regulatory problems, so far at least.And having it under shelter makes it possible to actually live in it continiously for long periods since it is sheltered from rain blowing in open windows, high winds, and so forth.Old campers die mostly from leaks and rot.

Setting up such a camper might be a very good way for a family in a situation where they can pull it off to help out a friend in dire straights, especially if living out in the country.Personally I would only deal with a long term friend this way and expect enough labor-such people are by definition without money- from him or her to cover a reasonable contribution to the operating expenses of the homestead.

And make one ground rule very clear from dayone-your long term visitor is welcome in the house-when he is specifically invited in.Old buddies in such situations remember roommate days.

You moved to the country for privacy, right? ;)

Senate approves legislation to turn landfills and quarries into renewable energy farms

A bill which would permit the development of solar, photovoltaic and wind energy facilities on closed New Jersey landfills or quarries was approved 34 to 0 by the state Senate Monday.

"With the environmental crisis gripping the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the massive BP oil spill, there's more demand than ever for clean, renewable and sustainable forms of energy," Sen. James Whelan (D-Atlantic), the sponsor, said. "By opening up closed landfills for solar farms and wind energy facilities, we stand to make New Jersey a national leader in the clean energy industry. This bill is good news for the environment, and will result in new jobs and new economic activity for struggling communities throughout the state."

The measure, S-2126, would provide that – notwithstanding any existing law, local ordinance or regulation – that the development of solar and photovoltaic energy facilities or structures on any closed landfill or quarry, or an existing or closed resource extraction operation, be a permitted land use in every municipality, including areas preserved under the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan.

Huge challenges in scaling up biofuels infrastructure

"Even with densification and preprocessing, transport volumes by mid-century are likely to exceed the combined capacity of current agricultural and energy supply chains, including grain, petroleum and coal," ..."To reach the International Energy Agency 2050 target for primary energy from biomass would require 15 billion metric tons of biomass annually."

To gain some perspective on the quantities involved, consider the volumes of related commodities currently being managed. For agricultural commodities, the sum of rice, wheat, soybeans, maize and other coarse grains and oilseeds will approach 2 billion metric tons in 2010. Current global volumes of energy commodities are somewhat larger, with 6.2 billion metric tons of coal and 5.7 billion metric tons of oil transported in 2008.

I remember reading years ago that Peak Oil would be defined by wildly fluxuating prices of fuel. I wasn't sure why that would be at the time, but now can say I understand.

Right now, the news reports that the 'recovery' has faltered. Demand is dropping; there is a record surplus of stored gasoline and petroleum. Price of oi and gas - down.

In a few months, what with petrol down, the economy will take note and begin to recover. Demand will increase (and with the election coming, some action will be taken by government to spur this on)... reserves will drop, production will be unable to meet demand and price will rise. This time to a slightly higher level before the markets notice the high price of fuel, and the economy will cool off again. Prices drop...

Wash, rinse, repeat...

And, each time it goes up a bit more, production does not quite rise to as high a level, and on the drop it does not go quite as far. But still, a volatile situation. And, of course the media will spin each 'recovery' as a return to BAU...

When will they ever learn?

When will they e-ver learn????


Oscillations are caused by the measure being sensitive to time rates of change and latencies or delays in the effect. So any one glitch upward or downward in supply will be accompanied by two matched glitches in price.
These are elementary effects and you should see it all the time if you look carefully. This is not standard economics though, just common sense from signal processing.

Oh my, Cairn energy have detected HCarbons at their drill site off Greenland


Looks like the Arctic will be ripped up...........

Another lucky break for Bill Gammell and his company Cairn. Again whether any of this has to do with his old school-boy friend Tony Blair and long-time family friend George W. Bush, we will probably never know. Political insider support always pays off. So the bottom line is the wealthy get wealthier and the inner circle gets smaller.

A mixed result for the environment

The Australian election remains in fine balance, and one of the two major parties will form a government as soon as they reckon they have the numbers to do so. They are negotiating with the 4-5 independents on a daily basis of course.

The Independent article seemed to imply that the environment had been nullified by the demands of democratic party politics. I think this is a difficult position to argue. The Australian Greens have enjoyed record numbers across a fair range of criteria, and will have nine out of 76 Senators next year - a balance of power number.

And meanwhile, they have also done very well in the House of Representatives, reaching over 40% of the primary vote in some seats, and 15, 20, or 30 percent in many many seats. And under our preferential voting system (quite different to the USA or the UK FPTP system), those votes count in determining the final winner of the seat.

So Australia has actually moved to the Left, and not towards the conservative side of politics - but you would be hard-pushed to work that out by reading the newspapers or watching TV. It is not a reality that tabloid media bosses are comfortable with, so they wish to hide it from the people. Anyway - we live in interesting times.