Drumbeat: September 4, 2010

IEA predicts greater reliance on OPEC oil

NEW DELHI - Global dependency on the members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for oil will rise in the next five to 10 years as production by non-OPEC nations declines, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) said Friday.

“We have seen an increase in non-OPEC supplies. But in the mid-term, non-OPEC production will decline,” Nobuo Tanaka, the agency’s executive director, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference. “So, dependency on OPEC oil will increase.”

“The cost of production in OPEC countries is also much cheaper,” he added. The agency’s forecasts are generally regarded as bellwether indicators for the energy industry.

Crude Oil Falls After U.S. Service-Industries Report Dims Economic Outlook

Crude oil fell after service industries grew in August at the weakest pace in seven months, bolstering concern that the U.S. economic rebound will slow.

Futures slipped after the Institute for Supply Management’s index of non-manufacturing business, which covers about 90 percent of the economy, fell to 51.5 in August from 54.3 the prior month. It was the smallest gain since January. Prices rose earlier when a government report showed companies in the U.S. added more jobs in August than forecast.

Surge in use of natural gas helping to lower emissions

Shale gas has begun to tip the scales such that experts deem the boom a game-changer, the most significant energy innovation in years. Shale gas accounted for 1 percent of our natural gas supply in 2000. Today it represents about 20 percent; by 2035 it could grow to 50 percent. Studies show that North America has about 8,000 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves - centuries' worth of reliable, domestic supply.

The timing couldn't be better, especially as we move to lower the carbon-intensity of our economy. Last year we witnessed the largest absolute and percentage decline in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions since 1949. Emissions declined 7 percent, or 405 million metric tons, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. A key contributor: fuel-switching in the electric sector from coal to natural gas. We need to commit to realizing the tremendous efficiency and environmental gains of converting fuel-oil and end-of-life coal plants to natural gas, simple-cycle gas turbines to combined-cycle turbines and heavy-duty trucks, buses and fleet vehicles from diesel to natural gas fuel.

Gulf of Mexico Oil Well Approved

WASHINGTON - Federal regulators approved the first new Gulf of Mexico oil well since President Barack Obama lifted a ban on drilling in shallow water last week, angering environmentalists even as business groups urged his administration to relax a moratorium on new deepwater projects.

The Minerals Management Service said on its Web site Wednesday that it had granted a permit sought by Bandon Oil and Gas, LP to drill at a site about 50 miles off Louisiana's coast and about 115 feet beneath the water's surface.

Mariner Gulf Fire Sparks Calls to Keep Drilling Ban

The blaze aboard a Mariner Energy Inc. oil platform yesterday shows President Barack Obama should maintain the drilling ban imposed after the BP Plc blowout in April, lawmakers and environmentalists said.

BP raises blowout preventer, key evidence in probe

NEW ORLEANS — BP PLC was on Saturday slowly raising the 300-ton blowout preventer that failed to stop oil from spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, careful not to damage or drop a key piece of evidence in the spill investigation.

When the blowout preventer reaches the surface after its mile-long journey, government investigators will take possession of it and eventually examine it, hoping to gain insight into why the device failed.

Oversight of pipeline under St. Clair River called for

Congresswoman Candice Miller is calling for an investigation into a dent in the pipeline under the St. Clair River. She recommended the item be added to a planned Sept. 15 hearing before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, scheduled to investigate the July 25 Enbridge pipeline rupture in Marshall.

Miller said Enbridge informed her of the dent last August. The energy company assured her that they were handing the situation appropriately, but she isn't convinced.

GM to offer competitive pricing on Chevrolet Volt in China

With its launch slated for the second half of 2011, Kevin Wale, president and managing director of General Motors China, promises that the Chevrolet Volt will be priced to compete in China's fledgling alternative technology car market. The selling price of the Volt will not be officially unveiled until the vehicle launches in China, but as Wale spoke at a news conference in Shanghai recently, the words "I believe the pricing will be competitive" resonated throughout the room.

Nigeria seeks to overcome its electricity failures, but people are skeptical

The power grid of the energy-rich nation is a wreck, reaching less than half the people on a good day. The president has vowed to set things right by expanding, repairing and privatizing the system.

Hot summer results in higher electricity use, and cost

As demand increased the market supply price of electricity also increased by almost 20 percent over the summer months this year.

“Electricity prices, like gasoline and other commodity prices are set on the wholesale market according to the laws of supply and demand,” said Central Hudson President James Laurito. “Higher demands lead to higher commodity prices, and higher temperatures this summer not only increased usage by our customers, but also raised energy prices as demand peaked.”

UN agency calls emergency summit over soaring global food prices

A United Nations agency has called a special meeting to discuss the recent spike in food prices, responding to fears of a repeat of the shortages that led to riots in parts of the world two years ago.

Corn soars to 23-month high on crop outlook

The forecast reaffirmed an emerging view in the industry that the crop will be weaker than first expected. Farmers and analysts say the crop is highly variable after a soggy summer that flooded out low-lying areas of many fields and washed away nitrogen, a crucial nutrient for corn. Hot night-time temperatures have also deprived the crop a chance to "rest" analysts say.

No felling trees or cultivation above 5,000 feet from sea level Sri Lanka President instructs

Badulla: Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa has instructed the officials to take measures to ban felling trees or new cultivations in areas above 5,000 feet from sea level.

The aim of this action is to protect the upper catchment areas of the island. Although there are laws to prevent these disastrous actions, the implementation lacks vigour. The laws are expected to be strictly abided in the future.

Exponentially on purpose: a century-and-a-half of ignored warnings

The concept of peak oil, based on the pioneering work of geologist M. King Hubbert (right), states that world oil production will one day reach a natural limit due to geological factors. As he observed, “although production rates tend initially to increase exponentially, physical limits prevent their continuing to do so.” In other words, oil is a finite resource, and regardless of technology and investment, output cannot go on increasing year after year. Geology trumps economics, although the latter explains what will happen to oil prices once output begins to decline.

But no-one wants to hear the argument. Even International Energy Agency forecasts of record world oil demand, and warnings that the “era of cheap oil is over” made barely a ripple in the media. (In fairness, they are not talking about peak oil so much as the lack of investment in the oil industry causing spare capacity to slump – but it still means economy-busting oil prices are just around the corner.)

European Space Agency captures images of huge ice island

The European Space Agency has released dramatic satellite images of the colossal iceberg that broke away from a Greenland glacier last month and is now drifting into Canada's Arctic waters.

The 250-square-kilometre Petermann Ice Island — the biggest free-floating frozen mass in the Arctic Ocean in nearly 50 years — has travelled nearly 30 kilometres from its birthplace in a Greenland fiord and is now moving into Nares Strait between Greenland and Canada's Ellesmere Island.

Bid to suspend California global-warming law gets $1 million from billionaire brothers' firm

The donation to the Proposition 23 campaign comes from a subsidiary of Kansas-based Koch Industries, which owns refineries and controls 4,000 miles of oil pipelines.

Shipping companies eye fabled Asia route as ice melts

Shipowners are showing growing interest in a fabled trade route to Asia which climate change is beginning to open up at last as polar ice recedes.

The IEA has non-OPEC oil production declining in the mid-term. Gee, I'm disappointed. I was hoping for a long-term decline.

In that article, IEA predicts greater reliance on OPEC oil, the IEA gets almost everything right. Non-OPEC production is unexpectedly up this year due to higher-than-expected output in Russia, the US, and China. But all three reach peak this year, China for the first time and a post Soviet peak for Russia and a post Katrina peak for the US. Next year production will likely be down for all three as well as most of the rest of non-OPEC.

Those three are the top three non-OPEC producers and make up three of the top five producers in the world. The surge in production from these three non-OPEC nations is what kept the world from being keenly aware of peak oil this year. Next year it will be a different story.

OPEC’s 12 members, who include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, account for about 40 percent of the global oil consumption.

Of course they meant production not consumption. But their consumption is rising. And it is interesting that they single out Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE because those are the only three OPEC nations with any spare capacity. The other nine peaked in December of 2007 and saw production fall right through the astronomical price increases of 2008.

But what they get wrong, what they get terribly wrong, is that they expect OPEC to take up the slack in non-OPEC decline. By mid 2012 the three OPEC nations with current excess production capacity, will no longer have that excess capacity.

The IEA, the EIA and indeed the rest of the world believes OPEC nations are sitting on nearley 1 trillion barrels of reserves. OPEC actually claims 1.064 trillion barrels of crude oil reserves or 79.4 percent of all the oil left in the world... they say. Actually that is a gross exaggeration.

The shock that will shake the economic world will be when this fact becomes widely known.

Ron P.

Well done. OPEC exports had been on a fairly static plateau level from March to July, picking up a little from a sluggish start to 2010. But in August, lead by Iraq, OPEC exports have started to fall back, and whatever improvement Iraq may make in Septemeber looks to be offset by falls in other exporters such as Nigeria.

Of course the IEA and EIA will keep talking about total production from OPEC, even as the "exportland" model indicates that less and less of total production will be exported.

As for total inventories, the article gives the impression they are more than adequate. “Stock levels in OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries is [are] still high”. 'High' is a relative term. If you think one extra day of supplies in the US over last year means inventories are 'high', then you are in full agreement with the IEA, EIA, as well as many energy analysts quoted in the media. If you think that since those extra supplies only represent about 0.4% of annual oil use in the US, you might say the inventory increase is minimal and unimportant in the long run.

Anyway, those extra supplies coming out of Russia basically ended up in the US - offsetting a year over year fall in OPEC exports to the US. As one would expect, all of the extra output the US managed to find deep under the GOM was used up for domestically. The US supply/demand situation, precariously balanced in 2010, will not have such an easy time matching supply and demand in 2011 - and beyond.

Average YOY diff in demand for March-June, data from JODI:

China		1491.47
United States	556.71
Brazil		249.05
Indonesia	233.45
Canada		233.07
Netherlands	161.2
India		148.83
Iraq		126.67
Mexico		91.62
Saudi Arabia	59.33
Chinese Taipei	45.39
Venezuela	26.5
Australia	15.89
Poland		10.86
Korea		6.83
France		5.13
Thailand	3.52
Japan		0.48
Germany		-7.88
Turkey		-11.68
Iran 		-12.33
Malaysia	-21.78
Italy		-23.71
Spain		-28.66
Belgium		-49.57
South Africa	-55.01
United Kingdom	-85.09
Egypt 		-459.63

One wonders what's going on in Egpyt - it isn't a formatting error on my behalf, they really seem to have cut consumption massively this year for some reason. Perhaps the numbers are faulty. These don't include Russia or Singapore, either; the former hasn't submitted numbers for 2010, the latter is listed in the top 30 consumers but no numbers are included for the whole series, back to 2002, oddly enough. Someone should ask JODI what that's all about.

Brazil brought on 375 mb/d of production in 2009, but have really ramped up consumption since December, obviating the 2008/2009 decline and returning to the linear trend they started out on in 2004, bringing down what export capacity they had in the process. JODI numbers still show them as a net importer but that's C+C. Subtracting JODI consumption from EIA production shows a recent trend down in net exports, against a definite linear build up in production. This might simply be due to a very high absolute peak in early '09 suggesting a downtrend:

Brazil Prod Net Exports

Note that EIA themselves say Brazil only became a net exporter in '09. Was this simply due to damped domestic demand? Finally, the JODI average for '09 consumption is 2571.23 kb/d vs EIA's 2460 kb/d. STEO shows them at 2.51 and 2.61 for Q1 and Q2. This would leave them at about 100 kb/d net exports. Not much to show as of yet for the new North Sea.

"Homeowners' Solar Rights Act Passes Both Houses" - Illinois

Finally, Illinois homeowners associations will no longer be able to prevent people from putting up solar panels because of "appearance".

"CHICAGO (CBS) ― The Illinois Homeowners' Solar Rights Act requires homeowners associations to adopt acceptable design standards for solar systems in buildings up to three stories tall.

A Northbrook couple says their neighbors were more concerned with green lawns than a "green" lifestyle. They were among those statewide who saw a homeowners association blocking their plans for the installation of solar panels on their own home. But, as CBS 2's Vince Gerasole reports, those roadblocks seem to be melting away in the sun..."

" ..."The last bastion of fascism is homeowners associations," said Phyllis..."


" ..."The last bastion of fascism is homeowners associations," said Phyllis..."

You can just picture the grumpy, querulous, self-righteous old fogies in white shoes with far too much time on their hands - who get themselves perennially elected to the HOA Committee ...

The History Channel is rerunning "Earth 2100" again right now. It is a pretty realistic "future scenario," IMO, with a lot of heavy hitters like Michael Klare, Joseph Tainter, and Richard Heinberg.

Of course, they're running it along with programs about the return of the AntiChrist and signs of the Apocalypse. Must be doomer day at the History Channel.

YouTube has "Earth 2100" here in nine parts - Part1 here
The rest are in the right scroll-window.

Thanks for link

Interesting shorts from Jared Diamond & others

i predict that after the third (the next)gulf oil platform spill\accident\disaster no one will pay any attention to the forth and subsequent gulf oil platform mishaps. it will just be BAU for TPTB.

i hope jhk takes off labor day from his blog. he needs to get some new subject matter besides "corn pone nazis". that dobby moodge's guliver is chocked with chupooka.

i recommend a journey by train, sail boat or tramp steamer.
take a ferry or subway, anything that doesnt involve cars or planes or hotels with air conditioning or elevators.

and least we all forget mars and titan (a moon of saturn) are full of hydrocarbons. we should build a fleet of space ships shaped like oil drums and go get it.

NO WAIT!!!! let's just keep spending trillions of dollars for war! yup, that's the ticket. i am angry because i aint getting my piece of the military industrial complex budget.
and i work for a defense contractor!

google if you will, $20 billion and afghan air conditioning
for troops or 8 billion missing from iraq or suit cases full of dollars leaving afghanistan by jet plane or sept 10th and one trillion unaccounted for from DoD.

i work in a smithy doing DoD subcontracting and i didnt get no air conditioning this summer on the east coast. every day, 89, 90, 91, 92, 94, 97! let's get things sparkling clear. manufacturing $uck$. the usa is already a third world nation. it's a race to the bottom for everyone except the crooked elite.

well, at least i got labor day off with pay this year. i hope so next year.

Good News from the Pacific Northwest

New county strategy against sprawl: Help small growers stay on the land and supply urban farmers markets

County Executive Dow Constantine wants the county to buy development rights on 850 acres of land worked by farmers-market suppliers. He will use the existing Transfer of Development Rights Program, which was created to prevent sprawl by redirecting development to cities.

"The pressure on the family farms from increased values and the development pressure encroaching on them makes it really tough to farm in a county of 2 million people," Constantine said. "We're trying to help them work against some of those forces and help them produce healthy, locally grown food for local markets."

More home shoppers include bike access on their list

In what is considered one of the most bicycle-friendly areas of the country (Seattle consistently ranks in the top 10 on that scale, according to Bicycling Magazine), a growing number of home shoppers in the Seattle area are looking for places where they can ride their bikes for work and pleasure.

In the first article we see an elected official pushing county government to take baby steps in the direction of sustainability. In the second, we see home shoppers taking strides in the same direction.

Major shifts in society don't spring out of a vacuum. There has always been a background of local farmers markets and hard core bicycle commuters. But at some point a 'generational shift' occurs and these marginal lifestyles begin to acquire cachet and eventually be written up in the local media as part of a new trend. A convergence of forces accelerates the process: good urban planning decisions, decades old; young families moving back to the city; increasing interest in organic produce; increasing food and gasoline prices; even increased unemployment. A review of the NYT archive of Urban Agriculture articles will give you a sense of the building momentum behind transition town values regarding the food supply.

There are certainly troubles ahead regarding food and energy prices -- I'm no Pollyanna. Times will be tough in many parts of the world. But I am still optimistic that many communities (hopefully mine) will be able to rise to the challenge by making political and personal choices that move us toward a more sustainable lifestyle.

Be the change you want to see.


More Happy News from the Pacific Northwest

State Economist Goes All Doomerish

The state's chief economist, Arun Raha, gave lawmakers an update on the economy Friday and laid out nothing but dismal news.

The bad times will continue.

"Economic activity has slowed to an agonizing crawl. May and June saw a pause in activity, and July brought little relief. Job growth remains anemic ... housing is looking for a new bottom and despite some easing in credit conditions, small businesses continue to face a challenging credit environment. There is considerable drag in the economy and increased uncertainty," Raha said, reading from his report.

sorry, Jon, couldn't resist.

The bad times will continue

Oh, I saw that one too. But I'm such a staunch contrarian that I like to hang out with contrarians and then take a counter-contrary view! ;-)

Remember, bad news for the old economy can be good news for the new economy:

Tandy Leather Factory, Inc. Reports August 2010 Sales Up 7% Over August 2009

CANADA: Rona Ends H1 With Strong Quarter (Rona is a DIY chain)

Urban homesteaders discover the pleasures of growing food

With more "bad" news on the horizon I expect DIY and gardening companies to do quite well.

<sarcasm>Really, all we have to do is write off a zillion dollars of debt, engage in a massive redistribution of wealth and lower everyone's expectations by an order of magnitude and then everything will be fine.</sarcasm>


Azerbaijan, Russia seal major gas deal, more to come

Azerbaijan will double gas exports to Russia in 2011 and increase them further from 2012, the countries said on Friday in a move that could undercut Europe's drive to secure Central Asian supplies. The agreement between Azerbaijan state energy company SOCAR and Russia's Gazprom was signed during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Baku as both Moscow and the West vy for access to the energy-rich ex-Soviet state.
The agreement on increasing gas supplies may ultimately deprive the Nabucco pipeline of a portion of gas from Azerbaijan, analysts say. The Nabucco project aims to deliver gas from the Caspian Sea region to Europe through Turkey starting in 2014 in order to ease European reliance on Russian supplies.
President Aliyev argued against what he called "the politicisation" of the two countries' economic cooperation. "If all the interested parties treat this from the point of view of economic expediency, and politicisation is reduced to the minimum, then the interests of all the parties will be taken into account," he was quoted as saying.

These ex-communists are quick studies of capitalist principles, "Whatever the traffic will bear".

Slowdown signs - OPEC oil output falls to lowest since November 2009

OPEC crude oil supply fell in August to the lowest since November 2009 as reduced supplies from Nigeria, the UAE and Iraq offset increased output in Angola.

Most OPEC nations continue to struggle in an attempt to increase production. And most are not having much luck. Of course the decline in Iraq and Nigeria was mostly due to rebel activity. A pipeline was blown up in Iraq. A pipeline that carries oil from Kirkuk in northern Iraq to the port of Ceyhan on Turkey's Mediterranean coast was blown up by Kurdish rebels in Turkey, just across the border.

This pipeline has been repeatedly attacked over the past year, and also suffers frequent maintenance problems.

People who expect vast increases in oil production from war torn Iraq and Nigeria are likely in for a big disappointment.

Ron P.

People who expect vast increases in oil production from war torn Iraq and Nigeria are likely in for a big disappointment.

Agreed. I remember reading an article recently, in which officers from the Iraq combat mission explained their humbleness by the fact they realized democracy cannot be forced upon a population. Iraq has Shiite, Sunni's and Kurds. They do not accept each other's version of religious belief, and to this day there are bombings of people and oil pipelines. That will continue. Anyone expecting Iraq to become peaceful within and thereby increase oil production to its maximum production potential is unaware of these facts.

Nigeria has its own set of problems, but the end result is similar; lack of stability and thus less than max. oil production.

Most Kurds in Iraq and Turkey are Sunni Muslim, those in Iran mostly Shiite. So the problems in the north of Iraq are not religious, rather cultural.


Thinking that our war/occupation/nation-building efforts are going to turn Iraq and Afghanistan into long-term, stable, peaceful, prosperous democracies is a fools errand and a fig leaf for the fact that we (the U.S.) have identified Middle Eastern oil access as being in our vital interest.

To complicate the picture more, a major reason we are in Afghanistan is to attempt to manage Pakistan...we are likely extremely concerned about the AQ/Taliban/other extremist groups cooperating at some level with folks inside the Pak government/military/security apparatus.

Back in 1979 I recall 60 minutes and some magazines and newspaper articles concerned about the prospect of Pakistan's 'Islamic Bomb'.


I'm afraid we will remain committed long-term to playing 'Global Cop' in the arc between Myanmar through Nigeria (and a few other select countries/areas of the World [not even talking about Russia and China here]) for as long as we can...until and unless we bleed ourselves dry.

A possible existing international 'Grand Bargain' is that other countries prop up our (U.S.) debt so that we do their dirty work, allowing them to limit their military spending and focus their resources on their people and industry.

EIA data show that Iraq went in the wrong direction last year--with net oil exports falling at 3.4%/year, from 2008 to 2009.

Excerpt from a WTTW report on electricity shortages in Iraq, specifically Baghdad :-

"MARGARET WARNER: The shortages don't keep Iraqis from buying all the latest energy-gobbling items. We found Muhanned Kadim (ph) in Baghdad's Karada district loading up electric appliances for his retail store outside the city.

MAN (through translator): I sell all kinds of air conditioners. Everybody is buying air conditioners now.

MARGARET WARNER: Washing machines, refrigerators and water heaters are also flying off the shelves. A lot of the items are cheap, inefficient goods from Asia that further strain the system. Salesman Raheem Badia says the unreliable national grid has created a huge demand for small personal generators.

RAHEEM BADIA, salesman (through translator): Since the fall of the regime, so many new houses have been built, and they're all using air conditioners. In the past, a house had maybe one. Now it could have three.

MARGARET WARNER: Here's one way Iraqis beat the power shortage. Entrepreneurs buy giant gas-fueled generators like this one, and plop them down on a city street. They will sell electricity to anyone who wants to tap in and pay the price. "


Perhaps the Iraqis are going to want to keep the oil for their own needs.

...the unreliable national grid has created a huge demand for small personal generators.

Seems that the country would be a good candidate for a few brave government buildings to install and advocate PV installations that act as shade in the parking lots.

Something like this: http://www.evworld.com/article.cfm?storyid=856

If a percentage of the grid's MWs could be distributed PV, might help their peak load a bit. Er, they do seem to have quite the solar lighting resource to leverage....

Perhaps the Iraqis are going to want to keep the oil for their own needs.

Naw, like the Shaw they'll build fission plants!

(until, well they stop being a Dem-o-cra-cy like the Shaw was then others will deem them toooooo dangerous to have fission power)

The Perils Of Government By Poll, 30s Edition

In light of the way we actually got out of the Great Depression, it’s instructive — and depressing — to look at polling from that era. Two results from Gallup, in March 1938:

Do you think government spending should be increased to help get business out of its present slump?
Gallup Poll, Mar, 1938

37% Yes

63% No

Paradoxes Of Deleveraging And Releveraging

Whenever the issue of fiscal stimulus comes up, you can count on someone chiming in to say, “Only a moron could believe that the answer to a problem created by too much debt is to create even more debt.” It sounds plausible — but it misses the key point: there’s a fallacy of composition here. When everyone tries to pay off debt at the same time, the result is contraction and deflation, which ends up making the debt problem worse even if nominal debt falls. On the other hand, a strong fiscal stimulus, by expanding the economy and creating moderate inflation, can actually help resolve debt problems.
From 1929 to 1933, everyone was trying to pay down debt — and the debt/GDP ratio skyrocketed thanks to contraction and deflation. During and immediately after WWII, there was massive borrowing — but GDP grew faster than debt, and the debt burden ended up falling.

Yes, it seems paradoxical — but that’s the kind of world we’re living in. And the refusal of so many people to face up to the fact that we’re in a world where conventional rules don’t apply makes it likely that we’ll stay in that world for a long time to come.


Brad DeLong has this to say about the second post above:

There is nothing wrong with what Paul says. But I think it is incomplete, and that there is a better way of getting to the right conclusion.

The problem was created by too much risky debt and not enough safe debt. The result is that right now there is an excess demand for safe assets--like U.S. government securities. Because businesses and households want to hold more safe assets at full employment than exist, they are trying to cut back on their spending on currently-produced goods and services in order to build up their stocks of safe assets.

As a group, when they try to do this they fail: building up the economy's stock of safe assets requires that somebody do something to create them. But as they try their cutbacks in spending on currently-produced goods and services produces the fall in production, income, and employment that has led us to our current situation.

The best ways to get us out of this? (a) Have the government put people to work, and (b) have the government create more safe assets--more Treasury bonds--for people to hold. The first puts people to work. The second gives businesses and households more safe assets to hold so that they will be happy with their safe asset portfolios. Thus they will then stop trying to accumulate more safe assets, they will spend their incomes, and that will put more people back to work too.

If our big problem were too much debt we would not be here, in depression. Too much debt generates inflation. The things that generate depression are shortages of financial assets, and excess demand for some class of financial assets then produces, by Walras's Law, excess supply of currently-produced goods and services. We had a "shortage of liquid cash money" recession in 1982; we had a "shortage of long-duration bonds" recession in 2002, and now we are having a "shortage of safe assets" recession.

We need opportunities for safe investments, and here I would add, in goods and services that have a some chance of being in demand as oil supply declines.

Bill Gates makes a good point as well:

We need both a market push (R&D funding) and market pull by having a price on carbon. Pricing carbon emissions would help in many ways. It would encourage increased efficiency, increased deployment, more private R&D and provide funding for government R&D. More efficient use of energy is important. There are a lot of great efficiency approaches like building standards, and Cafe standards that can make a difference.

Any analysis needs to consider middle-income and poor countries whose energy demands are increasing as people move out of poverty leading to increased CO2 emissions. For the poorest, more expensive energy reduces their access to energy-driven services like increased use of fertilizer, vaccine refrigeration, reasonable transportation, and many other things that can improve the conditions in which they live. Poor people need energy that is both cheap and clean – which only R&D advances can provide.


If the US was smart it would be running up the deficit with big expenditures on energy R&D, big expenditures on negawatts (most especially an electrified rail infrastructure), and big expenditures bringing current energy on stream. Call it a war on something, if that what it takes.

But since the 1938 poll Krugman refers to, could have been taken yesterday, we can see that the US is not smart.


But we would have to break a lot of glass by diverting some spending (and hence profits) from the war industry to the conservation and alternative energy industries.

Boeing, Northrop-Grumman, Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin, BAE, Xe, Titan, L3, ITT, SAIC, Booze-Allen Hamilton, CSC, and thousands of other companies big, medium, and small, will not go quietly into the night.

I love those who would criticize government money going to alt energy as wasteful subsidies, when the entire U.S. military budget is 100% pure subsidy. Gravy Train. Pork trough.

Yet, a lot of folks in the Defense contracting industry crow about how hey are free market businessmen...even entrepreneurs!

When 100% of their revenues come from tax receipts and government-borrowed money.

I especially like the GS dead wood who listen to Rush and rail against unemployment benefits and GM loans as welfare, yet spend their lives twaddling around making PowerPoint slides about meeting minutes about programs and policies which meander around and don't do anything productive for the World.

If government welfare for the MIC ended, there would be hundreds of thousands of previously well-paid functionaries who wouldn't have the slightest idea how to cope and would be mad as hell about the 'Socialists' who took their socialist MIC away from them.

And the vast majority of these folks vote. Many of them contribute significant funds for their favorite BAU political candidates.

How do we unwind that self-licking ice-cream cone?

those who criticize government money going to ___, when the entire U.S. military budget is 100% subsidy.

Interesting concept.
It made me think (a rare occurrence)

1. What industries "produce" directly from Nature?

(fossil Fuel Extraction = subset of mining)
** Alt energy production
Fresh water production

2. What industries "dump" waste directly into Nature?
Garbage (all of us)
CO2 gas producers (all of us)
Sewage producers (all of us)

3. What industries consume #1, output #2 and draw Gov't welfare?
Military/ Police/ Fire
Education (public schools)
Transportation/ Infrastructure (bridges to nowhere)
Housing (mortgage deduction)

What did I leave out?
This was done fast & off the cuff
Note that production of Alt Energy belongs to group that produces directly from Nature as opposed to groups who consume fossil fuels, consume raw other materials, socialize their waste output and collect a private 'profit'

market pull by having a price on carbon.

Just a reminder on how much of a scam the carbon market is.

70% is waste. Every time money is actually spent on actual carbon reduction, the investment banks make that same money....just because they structured the whole damn thing.

Call it a war on something, if that what it takes.

And I'm sure it'll be just as effective as:
The War on Cancer
The War on Poverty
The War on government waste
The War on .....

Perhaps it'll get concluded like, say The Korean War^H^H^Hpolice action?

Poor Krugman, he is so confused.

He does not seem to understand the differences between the industrial world now, at Peak Resources, and the industrial world of the 1930s, when it was still in the very early stages of exponential growth.

He seems to get close to recognition when he says, "we're in a world where conventional rules don't apply" - but then he prescribes the same conventional tools used over the last 40 years.

"No one saw this coming" said our leaders about the current on-going financial collapse.

No wonder they did not see it coming. They did not know where we were in the first place.

You are right about the 'leaders' and completely wrong on every other point.

Instead of falling into line behind those who did get it wrong about the financial crisis, its advent and the appropriate solutions, you could start to deal with your own confusion by reading Krugman and deLong. Even a few weeks of their blogposts and columns should help you begin to appreciate their logic.

You might also try James Galbraith, another economist who warns of the stagnation the current policy turn (reduce the role of government intervention, except for tax cuts most beneficial to billionaires) and one who has clearly identified energy supply as a problem to be confronted. http://utip.gov.utexas.edu/JG/Comments%20and%20Interviews.html

While Galbraith disputes Krugman's concerns about high long term debt, they are both on board with the prescription for increased government stimulus, not the least because of the enormous waste of social capital (people) promised by the anti-stimulus, anti-government propagandists and those they serve.

As is Joe Stiglitz, who also makes the case for a new economic model: http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2010/08/stiglitz-needed...

While we are likely past peak extraction of oil, and perhaps past peak consumption of other resources, including aardvarks, this is not in itself a problem. Because it does promise to disrupt BAU, it is an opportunity to modify the dominant forms of financial architecture so that people's lives aren't wasted by unemployment and so that natural resources are not discounted so readily.

Economic growth can continue even if the availability of the most strategic resources declines. Growth is measured by changes in the consumption of goods and services. Once shelter and food is taken care of, and public health assured, we can spend our time consuming any variety of things and our consumption of some of these things can grow almost without limit, music and massages come to mind at the moment.

A good policy choice right now is to take measures, and only the government can make this happen in a big way, to grow as many negawatts as possible. Put people to work reducing energy consumption and expanding the benefit of each watt consumed. A carbon tax would really help this effort, to paraphrase that noted socialist, Bill Gates. Feed-in tariffs are another practical measure, not for negawatts, but for new watts.

Your current attitude will show up in the history books. It will be evidence of the shortsightedness that led to the American stagnation.

Toil, you can pin your hopes on "policy choices" and what ever size stimulus you want. And when your next bigger, bestest yet stimulus and policy choices fails you can blame it on me and my attitude.

We are clearly on opposite ends of the elephant, or maybe on opposite sides of the needle. I just do not recognize the world you seem to be living in.

Best of luck over there ;)

I don't pin my hopes on policy choices. Policy choices are made and we live with them. Your attitude, which includes an apparent unwillingness to actually read and understand economics, feeds bad policy choices. You, it seems, are in the majority in the United States and elsewhere. But not everywhere, which is another reason to be grateful for diversity. Other countries are making better policy choices. They will fare better and hopefully overtime you and your fellow travellers will learn by example.

I think Germany is an example of a place that is making better policy choices. Germany places more emphasis on what should be the end goal -- to employ more people even if they have to do some job sharing and be furloughed temporarily. Germany probably does not go far enough but at least doesn't seem to think that growth is the end all and be all. Growth which does not recognize the importance of people and the planet is self destructive, which is what we have in the United States.

The fact is that unemployment went up in the last report. The stock market went up anyway. This is a perfect example of how people don't matter. If the bottom line can be increased by laying off people, all is good.

toil, find someone else to be your strawman. Life is too short to waste one's time with the slaying of the slain more than once. RIP Krugman and his mildly retarded keynesian counterparts.


While I agree that Krugman does not pay enough attention to things like peak oil and dwindling resources, it does not follow that things cannot be better within those constraints. Krugman takes a blunt force approach to our problems as his main concern is lack of aggregate demand for goods and services. Hence, he recommends that we spend a lot more money than we have already spent. He predicted that the Obama approach would be insufficient. Unfortunately, people are reaching the wrong conclusions. That is, because the amount spend so far did not return us to full employment, we should abandon government spending and focus on tax decreases.

Tax decreases for the rich will not address the problem but will be the mantra used to completely reverse the democratic majorities in congress.

Things are difficult enough with a democratic majority. With a republican majority, there will be no hope of increased spending for alternatives to oil, conservation initiatives, efficiency initiatives, and action to do anything about global warming.

I agree that Krugman is not looking sufficiently at the big picture, but this doesn't mean he is incorrect in terms of his short term prescriptions. There are other issues that need to be dealt with, however. Even increased consumer demand will not result in commensurate job opportunities because the corporate power structure will outsource and otherwise minimize employment opportunities for Americans every chance they get.

Krugman also continues to be an apostle of growth. He needs to come to grips with an economy that will or shouldn't grow to any great extent in the future. I am talking about growth of physical assets and consumer physical goods.

Overheating our economy to get sufficient growth to make a meaningful dent on employment will not only fail to accomplish its objectives but will only further exacerbate damage to the environment. We need to have a steady state or declining economy which also has found a way to employ people. This may mean that people will have to work less in the formal economy. Even if this occurs, they can increase their time in the informal economy, which includes things like growing a substantial amounts of one's food. Right now, this form of enterprise tends to be in the hobby category. Over time, it will probably be more in the necessity category.

I agree that the classical Keynesian approaches will only succeed in a very narrow sense. Keynesianism fails to acknowledge limits to growth. Both sides of the debate,however, agree on one thing. Growth is the key and must continue forever.

It is certain that the Republicans will not fix things. Everything they represent: religious fundamentalism, corporatism, and Social Darwinism, will accelerate the slide.

If the Beck and Limbaugh folks are holding the bag when the hard landing arrives, we may have a chance to fix things.

If Obama is running the show when BAU fails, we're baked.

That reminds me that I heard during the 2008 election that the winner would be the real loser. It seems to be going that way. I realized that the reason that Roosevelt had so much leeway after 1933 is because the depression actually started in 1928, the year that Hoover was elected. We had four years of ineffective Republican efforts to end the recession with tax cuts and reduced government spending. I think Obama and the democrats in congress have, so far, failed to try much else and I fear that this year they will give up their super-majority and probably lose in 2012.
Its gonna get worse.

"we’re in a world where conventional rules don’t apply"

Yeah, but why? Could it possibly be peak oil? Peak resources? You think maybe that changes economics?

Of course peak oil has economic impacts.

But within the context of peak oil, economics still functions, and government decisions still have consequences too. If our response to economic slowdown is to cut taxes to those who already own an outsized chunk of the economy (the top 2%) instead of continuing to tax them and using the proceeds to build rail and renewables infrastructure along with increasing the energy efficiency of existing infrastructure, the consequences are easy to predict. Wealth will continue to concentrate in a small elite, the middle class will continue to be impoverished, and adaptation to peak oil will slow.

Unfortunately, tax cuts for the rich, recession-inducing budget cuts, and de-funding peak oil adaptation are exactly the policies that we can expect the Republicans to implement when their numbers in Congress increase.


I really wish people would make some attempt to get their heads around the economics discipline, including the financial architecture aspect. It really matters.

By the way, here are two posts encapsulating the argument between Galbraith and Krugman on debt: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/17/i-would-do-anything-for-stim... http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/17/more-on-deficit-limits/

Krugman both links to and provides the text of Galbraith's position.

World Collapse Explained in 3 Minutes


Funny, but ignorant.

You are so correct. The sheeple will volunteer to assist the shearers in their own shearing. We are already back to what's wrong with Kansas territory.

I think it is unlikely that one could find even 2% of business people who would tell you that their failure to hire or expand had anything to do with energy costs. At the top of their list would be credit and demand. Over the years, demand for labor has become increasingly inelastic. I think the basic structure of our economy is the problem and that energy bottlenecks are having very little impact in this moment of time.

The size of the stimulus had nothing to do with peak oil. It would have been much bigger if economics, not politics, carried the day.

Peak oil exists but it does not explain everything.

Peak oil exists but it does not explain everything.

Thank-you for saying it.

Just a quick update on Earl....

It appears the worst is over for those of us in the Halifax area. It was a bit of a wild ride, but the wind gusts that had been in excess of 120 km/h are now down in the 60 to 80 km/h range. As at 14h40 ADT, there are 190,000+ NSP customers without power, including yours truly (see: http://www.nspower.ca/en/home/residential/outageinformation/liveoutagema...); we're running on generator power, so we're doing OK, but my wireless service is down and the DSL line is acting kinda flaky. We also lost a 35 metre high maple tree in the backyard which landed inches away from the garage (it sounded like a riffle shot when it snapped). We've been without power for just over four hours and won't likely regain service for at least another twenty-four (and that could be a tad optimistic).


Sorry to hear about your loss of that tree and your outage--I hope your generator outlasts the blackout!

At least you are now looking at peak Earl in the rear view mirror (sorry, couldn'g resist--apologies to PE himself).

Thanks, dohboi. I'm running the generator for a couple hours basically to keep the refrigerator happy. I cranked it up to max a few days ago and banked a good amount of ice in anticipation of losing power, so we're in pretty good shape, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to top things up now in case the rain moves back in. As of 16h08, there are now some 215,000 customers without service; that's basically half the province (total connected load in the province currently stands at 979 MW and falling).

This is the base of the tree, snapped at its roots:

BTW, I thought the worst of the winds were over.... I was wrong !


Hi Paul,

NS Power reporting well over 200,000 outages as of 1600 hrs ADT. Little comfort, I know, but you're certainly not alone.

After a nice spell this afternoon in the Windsor area, clouded over again with the winds blowing intensely in opposite direction from this morning. This is one massive storm.

Storm damage pictures at the end of the latest CBC bulletin say it all:

So far, no reports of casualties. People, I think, were smart enough to stay indoors until this beast blew over.

Good luck with the power restoration. Talk soon,


Thanks Tom. I'm relieved to hear that you were spared the worst of it. Here's hoping the farmers won't be too badly affected. I have to tell you some of the wind gusts we're experiencing now are starting to unnerve me. Looking at the trees in our back yard I'm thinking we could be in for more trouble.


Looking at the trees in our back yard I'm thinking we could be in for more trouble.

Same here.

This baby isn't quite finished with us yet. Though, like you, should I lose power, I am prepared... although without the benefit of a generator. Flashlights have fresh batteries, radio has fresh batteries, a healthy supply of candles, and a good old fashioned Coleman stove (if need be to cook a hot meal or heat up a pot of tea.) So far, however, the juice is still flowing through the grid ... all subject to change at a tree limb's notice.

It seems the storm is having an effect on the local internet provider too. High speed has just gone slow speed. Must be the traffic.

Hang tight and stay safe.


Edit:Came to find out that almost all the St. Croix - Three Mile Plains - Avon Valley area is without electricity and has been since 11:30 a.m. this morning. Estimated time of restoration is 11:30 a.m., Monday! There are only pockets where the lights are on. The rectory just happens to be in one of these pockets. No wonder the high speed is slow -- the ISP is operating likely on generated power. Most of this province is going to spend Saturday night in the dark.

Hi Tom,

The number of reported outages has recently slipped below 200,000 so there's been some progress in restoring power, but for many folks, as you say, it could be several days. Let's hope everyone remembers the "when in doubt, throw it out" rule with respect to food safety.


We got our power back again a few minutes ago - the whole neighbourhood went out at suppertime. A clear and pleasant evening, although a bit breezy, I went outside as the sun was setting and thinking how nice it will be to see the stars without the light pollution. And just at the threshold of twilight and descending darkness the street lights blazed forward.

To tell the truth, I was a little disappointed.

For much of the province, however, blackout is the rule.

Don't realize how much we depend on electricity until it goes missing for a few hours.

Regional linesmen and utility work crews will be earning their overtime this long weekend. So too will agricultural workers as they scramble to pick fallen apples -- the only commercial value for the ones lying on the ground is as juicers and only if gathered promptly. (I'll find out more how the local farmers made out tomorrow.)

Sadly, there has been at least one reported death, this of a boatman trying to moor a vessel. Wonder if more will be reported in the aftermath.

For yourself, take advantage of the darkness and get a good night's rest. I'm set to finish my paperwork for tomorrow.



The reliability of electrical power and telecommunications could be vastly improved in the East by passing a law -- "No one shall grow a tree such that it can fall and strike a power or telecommunications line".

I doubt that this would get past the tree-lover section of the local Environmental Commission.

However, they might be helpful to publish recommendations to plant species of trees of low to moderate height, strong roots, strong branches and a high resistance to rain, ice, and wind loading suitable for living with Nor'easters and hurricanes.

Merrill, all good suggestions. The difficulty lies in that trees tend to grow wild and fast in these parts.

NS Power and the the provincial Department of Highways spend considerable energy and sums trimming roadsides and lands around transmission lines. Authorities are also pretty good for holding homeowners responsible for dangerously hanging limbs. These efforts, however, only scratch the surface. Nature will have her way.

Moreover it's not just tree limbs. Ice storms and heavy snow do a number on the lines each year, too.

A more practical solution would be to bury the transmission lines. Access and expense, I suspect, are the chief mitigating reasons against full scale subterranean delivery. (There may be other technical limits - perhaps a good question for electricians and engineers to answer).

Considering how dependent we are on the grid for heating, cooking, refrigeration, light, and basic household needs (and in northern climates, these are essential for survival in the winter months) almost nobody thinks of their vulnerability until for whatever reason this complex system overloads or breaks down.

Says a lot about how trusting we are in BAU. Downright scary.

Thanks, Tom. Our neighbourhood is in total darkness which is an odd sight indeed. With LED torch in hand, I'm logging off and heading outside to shut down the genny for the evening. Back up tomorrow.


Solar glass roads anyone.

Wonder if the EROI could ever be positive ?
Or do we use the oil to make glass while it is affordable.
Of use the PV to make the glass.

"The Solar Roadways project is working to pave roads with solar panels that you can drive on. Co-founder Scott Brusaw has made some major steps forward since a first visit back in 2007"


I don't get excited about things I can't buy or afford.
But never considered a Driveway a power plant.


Solar glass roads anyone.

Why not start by installing solar on every residence and commercial building? Wouldn't that provide more bang for the buck at this point?

There is a relatively new middle school here in south Fl not too far from me in Palm Beach county. Built within the last 2 years. Easy, 5 acres of ALL FLAT ROOF, not a solar panel or green roof in sight.!!

We're doomed, I tell ya......

Approve big subsidies immediately

Components made in the USA

a Solar Corps to install,monitor and maintain

Regarding the pricing of the Chevy Volt in China, am I the only one annoyed with the idea of the American taxpayer subsidizing GM sales in China while we get no break here.

Forget the Volt .. The few will be in heavily guarded gated communities

build these in America ...


Experts see trouble ahead for developed world

Its the oil stupid!

but not mentioned ....


Experts see trouble ahead for developed world

Its the oil stupid!

but not mentioned ....

It's fascinating the conjecture in articles and on TV debates about the status of the economy, whether or not it will double dip etc., but there is no connection made to the cost of energy, in particular the greater cost of oil recently vs. the 20-30 per barrel price in the 90's, a period of great expansion.

In a way, it's unfortunate there was a real estate bubble bursting event, because it masked the plateau of oil production in 05 followed by increasing prices until of course it dumped down into the 30's and now has rebounded back into the 70-85 range.

I remember seeing a guest on CNBC explain with charts the plateau of oil production starting in 05, and the response by the panel was nil, nada, zip. And to this day the connection between cost of energy and recession on MSM is wholly absent, except for this gem:

Erin on CNBC one morning said, "Once the stock market rebounds and the economy is doing well again, won't the price of oil go back up and the economy dip down again?" The stick in the mud she was sitting with looked exasperated, slumped his head down at the notion and they went to ads. She never brought it up again.

It seems like the idea of peak oil and its associated economic ramifications are too harsh for most people to grasp or even look at closely. I suppose if something seems too hard to look at, it becomes ignored, rejected, absent from conversation, but definitely at our peril. The more a problem is ignored the greater its impact will be once it worsens to the breaking point.

But it is interesting how people do finally come to understand a topic. For example, my wonderful cornucopian wife finally came around to admitting the basics of peak oil. A few other people we know had mentioned it, then at last one of her friends talked about it, and then she accepted it. Of course she now claims she understood all along from what I had told her, but I know differently. And probably at some point many of the current deialists will admit peak oil, and do the same thing - claim they understood all along. I guess that's how the human psyche works.

Regarding the ice berg from Petermann coming down the East coast. How long will that last before it melts and could all that fresh ice be a good as refrigerant/AC or good in a bar glass? I sense a fresh bottled water opportunity here. Nobody is owner of this thing. It is a gold rush you can land on with a helicopter when it gets far enough south. Mine this baby for real time fresh 100,000 year old ice. Or take people for rides on a giant Manhattan sized berg along the Atlantic coast. Hell I think I'll get a flag of some sort and land on it and declare it a country for several years and offer tax haven status to all comers inclusive P.O. Box. By the time the ice is gone there'll be sure to be a second one coming down the coast. I could have a freshwater/ice export and tax haven/tourism buiness. God am i a fricking business genius. A once in a lifetime opportunity an dnobody sees it. Now I just need a VC investor to get me started or maybe just a kayak and a parka.

Alex, a friend of mine, used to ride icebergs.
Some Canadians are crazier than others.

Where I grew up, running the clampers (local colloquialism for ice flows) on the harbour was a fun, popular, and highly dangerous childhood pastime.

Not unlike the ridiculously insane annual ice canoe races across the quasi-frozen and fast flowing St. Lawrence River during Quebec winter carnival.

Those crazy Canucks. It's not just ice-hockey that warms our blood in February.

That reputation for "being nice" is no doubt the direct result of the males of the species taming their aggressiveness by rigorously pursuing winter sports that shrink the gonads by half.

With any luck it heads for a bunch of oil platforms and we have to nuke it to save our civilization from the horrors of an oil shortage!


I sense a fresh bottled water opportunity here.

If you figure there are at minimum a billion bottles of water that could easily be appropriated from that floating province of ice, and at minimum your net profit was a dollar per container, you would quickly become a billionaire! You'd need to land on it with enough equipment to cleanly bottle the meltwater which would be an upfront cost. Heating in the winter to melt the iceburg would cost some, but also transport from the iceburg to the stores might also be expensive. Maybe a shoot could be set up that's used to slide the bottles onto a ship.

Anyway, you call it 'Peterman Post-Glacier Iceburg water'. Bottle it in an iceburg clear blue container with an aerial pic of the bottling operation on the iceburg, and it would sell like crazy. Especially with some free publicity from articles about the enterprise. It's the type of thing CNN loves! The story might even get picked up by CNBC.