Drumbeat: September 21, 2010

Mexico oil panel: Chicontepec project still flawed

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's oil regulator again sharply criticized the country's flagship Chicontepec project in a report published late on Monday, saying the multibillion-dollar scheme remained deeply flawed.

Reiterating criticism first made in April, the National Hydrocarbons Commission, or CNH, said state oil monopoly Pemex's huge bet on Chicontepec still had "fundamental problems" and risked being unprofitable for decades.

... Mexico has bet billions of dollars that the technically challenging Chicontepec area can quickly replace oil output being lost at other major fields but disappointments at the project have underscored the fragility of the forecasts of the world's No. 7 oil producer.

Pemex has sunk more than $5 billion into Chicontepec in a bid to turn it into a major producer, but the Luxembourg-sized area produces less than 50,000 barrels per day of crude, only a fraction of what the company has previously thought it would yield.

US Becoming Oil Products Net Exporter: GS

SAN FRANCISCO -- Robust overseas demand has lead the U.S. to become a net exporter of petroleum products -- which includes refined products such as gasoline and diesel -- for the first time ever, analysts at Goldman Sachs said in a research note earlier this week. The shift contributed last week to the first decrease in crude oil inventories after 14 weeks of increases, the analysts at Goldman said.

Oil firms seek alternatives as reserves dwindle

Petroleum companies are considering alternative forms of fuel as global oil reserves are expected to run out in the next four decades.

According to the statistics published in BP's statistical review in June, the world has about 40 years of oil reserves remaining at current projected consumption rates.

ANALYSIS - US offshore drilling delays may persist after ban

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Before BP's record Macondo oil leak, U.S. regulators approved about a dozen permits a month to drill in the shallow waters off the Gulf. Since then,they've barely managed one a month, even though a six-month moratorium only affected wells in much deeper waters.

Now, with only two months or less until operators are able to resume drilling new wells in one of the most prospective oil frontiers in the world, many fear that the newly tightened reins of regulators may choke investment for months longer.

Charity running $100M BP fund for Gulf rig workers affected by moratorium says interest low

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — There have been far fewer applicants than expected for money from a $100 million fund BP PLC set up to help deepwater rig workers after a federal moratorium on drilling prompted by the massive oil spill.

With nine days left to apply, a spokesman for the charity running the program told The Associated Press on Tuesday that only 356 people have come forward. Up to 9,000 people had been expected to seek grants of $3,000 to $30,000.

Putin Confident in Nord Stream Despite Polish Concerns

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin expressed confidence that his favorite brainchild, a gas pipeline linking Russia directly with Germany, will go ahead despite latest objections from Poland.

Piracy, row cause oil shortage in Kenya, Uganda

NAIROBI, KENYA - Kenya last week experienced a biting fuel shortage following a dispute between market leader KenolKobil and the industry regulator, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

Most filling stations in the country credited as the region's economic hub admitted that their pumps had run dry even as manufacturers called on the government to find a quick solution.

Pakistan pushes to get Turkmenistan pipeline moving

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan will push hard for quick implementation of a long-delayed trans-regional gas pipeline from Turkmenistan in a bid to ease its mounting energy crisis, the petroleum minister said on Tuesday.

Deregulation of oil pricing

KARACHI: It is not likely that there will be any major change in the pricing mechanism soon as the deregulation of oil pricing is a complex procedure especially when local refineries and oil marketing companies (OMCs) are working separately unlike international practices which operate under one roof, analysts said.

The government was initially supposed to introduce this policy in the last budget but due to lack of consensus among major players in oil industry the decision was postponed, they said.

Petroleum ministry not seeking revision of refineries’ margin

KARACHI: There seems to be no respite in sight to the financial woes of crude oil refineries because the petroleum ministry has no plans to seek revision in margins of midstream petroleum industry.

PSO taking lead to cater 52pc of petrol requirement

Karachi —The closure of PARCO and suspension of road communication due to flood devastations were the root cause of fuel shortage in Punjab and Balochistan where the energy starved consumers were reportedly buying petrol even at a cost of Rs200 per litre it is learnt. Despite closure of PARCO which is one of the major reasons for fuel shortage, the affected roads marooned under the deluge consequently disrupted fuel supplies. The State owned PSO has taken a lead to meet 52 percent of petroleum requirements of Punjab which consumes an average of 110,000 MTs a month.

China, Pakistan in talks on new nuclear plant

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan on Tuesday implicitly confirmed it is holding talks with China to build a new nuclear power plant in the energy-starved South Asian nation.

"We have an ongoing civil nuclear cooperation agreement with China which is according to our respective international obligations for peaceful purposes under the IAEA safeguards," foreign office spokesman Abdul Basit told AFP, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

LHC strikes down suspension of trains

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday ordered immediate restoration of six trains that had been suspended in June following financial losses.

Drought, weak infrastructure fuel Tanzanian hunger

Climate change is thought to be playing a key role in worsening droughts across east Africa. But drought by itself does not cause disasters, experts emphasize. It is a lack of preparedness for problems and a lack of means to deal with them that turns drought into hunger, they say.

A Chinese stake in GM? Bravo!

FORTUNE -- The drumbeat in the blogosphere began about a millisecond after the news broke on Monday that Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corp. was considering buying a piece of General Motors when the US Treasury Department floats its shares in an IPO sometime later this year. "The U.S. government should block such a deal from ever occurring," wrote one outraged commentator at Yahoo News. "Major U.S. companies like GM should be owned by American investors, not by any company run by a foreign government; particularly a foreign government that is hostile toward the U.S. This deal would jeopardize U.S. national security and should be rejected.''

Thousands to Converge in DC to Call For End to Mountaintop Removal

WASHINGTON - More than a thousand people are expected to converge in D.C. on Sep. 27 for ‘Appalachia Rising,’ the largest national protest to demand the end to mountaintop removal coal mining. Appalachia Rising is being led by citizens of conscience from the states directly impacted by mountaintop removal who are calling for the abolition of the controversial mining practice and protection for America’s waters from all forms of surface mining. Concerned Americans will bring to the White House the message that mountaintop removal coal mining is destroying health and communities and has no place in a clean energy future. The march and rally will follow a weekend summit, Voices from the Mountains, and will include non-violent civil disobedience for individuals who choose.

Oil producers must tap a new vision as world order changes

One of OPEC’s spiritual fathers, the former Saudi oil minister Sheikh Zaki Yamani, was recently asked if the organisation, born in Baghdad half a century ago, would collapse before another 50 years had passed. His answer: “Of course.”

...During OPEC’s hegemony, oil’s dominance has been unrelentingly eroded. From more than half of all global energy on the eve of the first oil crisis in 1973, oil now supplies just 34 per cent. When OPEC was founded, it took more than six barrels of oil to generate US$1,000 (Dh3,673) of economic output. Now less than a half a barrel suffices: the world has become more than 12 times more efficient in using oil.

This fading of oil as the world’s premier energy source should have aroused more concern than it has in Caracas, Riyadh or Tehran. At this rate, they will leave billions of barrels in the ground at the end of the oil age.

Russian jets buzz US frigate

MOSCOW: Russian aircraft have buzzed a US Navy frigate in the Arctic Ocean in a Cold War-style show of force as the Kremlin steps up its campaign to claim much of the resource-rich region.

China tells U.S. to keep out of South China Sea dispute

BEIJING (Reuters) – China told the United States not to interfere in a regional dispute over claims to the South China Sea, saying it would only complicate the matter.

Japan's NHK TV reported last week that the United States and southeast Asian countries may announce a joint statement on September 24 that obliquely presses China over its recent activities near disputed isles in the South China Sea.

China has been increasingly strident in asserting its territorial claims, especially maritime ones.

Risk insurance costs to soar for deepwater oil rigs

OIL companies face a sharp rise in the cost of insuring deepwater oil rigs at the start of next year in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

The explosion triggered the biggest oil spill in American history. Following the disaster - one of the largest losses ever to hit the energy market - global energy premium rates have gone up from 10 to 30 per cent, according to Lancashire, a large insurer of energy risks.

But insurers warn that the full impact will not be felt until after January 1 when the bulk of reinsurance is bought. The disaster has also fuelled demand for insurance, as regulators take a tougher stance on the cover needed by oil and gas companies. BP was self-insured.

PG&E posts 100 riskiest Bay Area gas pipes

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. on Monday posted a list of the 100 riskiest natural gas pipeline segments in the Bay Area and their locations.

Eleven are in Silicon Valley. One of those is near Highway 237 and Ranch Drive on the San Jose-Milpitas border and was ranked seventh among the 100.

Huhne sees nuclear, renewables in energy mix

(Reuters) - Nuclear and renewables both have a part to play in meeting Britain's future energy needs, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne said on Tuesday, adding it was not a choice between one or the other.

Huhne's statement is in line with the coalition agreement but he made it to delegates at the Liberal Democrat conference, challenging sceptics in his own party who oppose nuclear power.

NZ climate change warning

Melting ice sheets, warming oceans and disappearing glaciers could mean New Zealanders have to cope with sea level rises more than triple the international estimates, scientists say.

The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes (IPCC) report projected a sea level rise this century of between 18cm-59cm, unless there is dramatic loss of Greenland and/or Antarctic ice.

But international researchers have now upped the ante with some noted academics picking rises of three times that, and some expecting the oceans to lift as much as 2.2m, according to an "emerging issues" paper released today by New Zealand's science academy, the Royal Society.

Weather disasters mirror climate models: NOAA chief

PARIS (AFP) – The flurry of exceptional weather disasters in recent years is completely consistent with scenarios about an aspect of climate change, the head of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Tuesday.

Safety in oil exploration is vital, even if it means costs must rise

Humankind must treat this calamity as a wake-up call and a chance to consider the true cost of oil. For years, oil companies have been treated with impunity because spills have occurred off countries such as Ecuador and Nigeria, where the people have not had a voice. This latest tragedy is a timely reminder that the world’s thirst for cheap oil carries a terrible risk. As we pass “peak oil” and concerns mount about energy security, tighter regulations and credible assurances are required so that, for example, the “blowout preventer” lives up to its name. Given the size and profitability of the industry, the initial improvised, seemingly amateurish, response to the blow-out was shocking.

If making this industry safe makes oil more expensive, so be it.

Crude Falls, Retracing Yesterday's Advance Before Energy Department Report

Oil fell in New York, retracing part of yesterday’s 1.6 percent gain, before a government report that may show refineries in the U.S. operated last week at their lowest rate in five months.

An Energy Department report tomorrow will probably show that refineries operated at 86.8 percent of capacity, down 0.8 percentage point from the previous week, according to the median of 14 analyst estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. It would be the lowest utilization rate since the week ended April 16. October futures expire today and are cheaper than November, a condition known as contango.

“We’re seeing a step-back from yesterday’s surge,” said Thorbjoern Bak Jensen, a Global Risk Management analyst based in Middelfart, Denmark. “The large contango signals that inventories remain high. But we think the $70 to $80 range will hold.”

Oil Supplies Hit Five-week Low in Survey on Enbridge Halt

U.S. crude-oil supplies probably fell to a five-week low after an Enbridge Energy Partners LP pipeline, the largest linking Canada and the U.S. Midwest, shut for eight days following a leak, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Inventories slipped 1.6 million barrels, or 0.4 percent, in the seven days ended Sept. 17 from 357.4 million a week earlier, according to the median of 14 analyst estimates before an Energy Department report tomorrow. Thirteen forecast a drop and one a gain. It would be the third consecutive decrease.

Cairn Energy claims Greenland oil discovery

LONDON (AFP) – Cairn Energy, renowned for a major oil find in India, said on Tuesday that it had discovered pockets of oil and further evidence of gas in offshore Greenland.

OPEC: a look to the future

The organization is facing an uncertain situation during the current phase: Prices have been stable at a reasonable and acceptable range for some time now. But at the same time, the rate of commitment to the production quotas by member states, according to al-Badri, is about 53 percent, a rather low rate which, should it continue to be so, will lead among other things to the increase of commercial oil inventories kept by international companies. Indeed, these inventories in the United States have reached their highest level since the early nineties.

TransCanada's Oil-Sands Pipeline Would Create 12,000 Jobs, Girling Says

TransCanada Corp.’s 2,000-mile pipeline linking Alberta’s oil sands with Gulf Coast refiners may add at least 12,000 jobs and provide a stable fuel source for the U.S., Chief Executive Officer Russell Girling said.

Efforts to stop the $7 billion Keystone XL project because lawmakers say developing tar sands may release more greenhouse gases than other types of oil production will result in the crude being redirected from the U.S., Girling said.

Gazprom: Japan firms on Sakhalin 3 project list

TOKYO (AFP) – Russia's state-owned natural gas monopoly Gazprom has hinted it may invite Japanese firms to participate in the Sakhalin 3 project if foreign support is deemed necessary, a local paper said Tuesday.

Gazprom deputy chief executive Alexander Medvedev told Japan's Nikkei business daily that his shortlist includes Japanese trading giants Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi Corp. as well as Royal Dutch Shell plc.

Turkey Open to More Drilling Partners in Black Sea, After Chevron Deal

Turkey is open to new partnerships for oil and gas exploration in the Black Sea, the head of the state-run oil company said after announcing a $750 million deal with Chevron Corp.

“New partnerships for oil and gas exploration in the Black Sea outside those now existing are possible,” said Mehmet Uysal, head of Turkiye Petrolleri AO. “In three years we plan $4 billion in investments, large and small, to open close to 500 wells,” Uysal said.

Petrobras Debt Sinks on Concern $78 Billion Sale Not Enough: Brazil Credit

Petroleo Brasileiro SA’s borrowing costs are surging to a two-month high on concern the state-owned oil company will tap the bond market for financing even after it completes a stock sale of up to 134 billion reais ($78 billion).

India: Oil companies to marginally up petrol prices - source

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Indian state-run oil retailers will raise petrol prices for the first time since the government ended price controls in June, an industry source said on Monday, but increases are likely to be less than 1 percent.

"The increase will be less than a percent," the source, who is not authorised to speak to the media, told Reuters.

Rosneft, CNPC May Build Oil Refinery in China in Two Years, Novosti Says

OAO Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer, and China National Petroleum Corp. may build a refinery in China within two years, RIA Novosti reported, citing Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin.

BP says oil spill compensation payout rate soars

LONDON (Reuters) – BP said payouts to people affected by its Gulf of Mexico oil spill had dramatically increased since it surrendered authority for dispensing funds to an independent administrator.

Greenpeace pair 'attached to drill ship anchor'

Greenpeace has said two of its environmental campaigners have attached themselves to the anchor chain of a drilling ship off Shetland.

Japan Says China Boat Row Shouldn't Fan `Extreme' Nationalism

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Japan and China should act with due calm over the detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain that has sent bilateral relations to the lowest level in five years.

US hails Iran sanctions, but experts doubt results

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration says the latest round of sanctions appears to have succeeded in bringing additional pressure against Iran's nuclear program. But private experts question whether the penalties will achieve their goal of compelling Tehran to give up any nuclear ambitions.

Sharon Astyk: Looking for a Job? ASPO-USA Needs an Executive Director

I'm really excited about the ways that ASPO-USA is evolving. ASPO's role has been to raise awareness about Peak Oil, and it is serving to expose the issue in new ways. I joined the board of an organization that I'd once criticized publically for being elitist and dominated by old white guys because those same gentlemen challenged me to help fix the situation - and we are.

Best Peak Oil Investments: Pure-Play Mass Transit Suppliers

I'm attempting to bring this series on peak oil stocks to a conclusion in which I can choose five stocks that should benefit from rising oil prices. One sector I feel should be represented is suppliers to mass transit companies, but I only looked at the percentage of revenues coming from mass transit and rail when I brought you my list of nine mass transit stocks. From that list, the following companies get substantially all their revenues from mass transit, passenger rail, or rail freight:

Gold As Currency

While I don't believe literally in the peak oil theory, I believe it takes more effort and risk – as we've just learned – to go out and get more oil. It's not free. It's not going to just drop out of the sky. And the demand can run ahead of the supply for certain periods, so we certainly saw that. One of the things that happens with oil is that when you use it, you want to use more of it. Your first application of oil grows your economy, then when you have a larger economy, you need more oil. It's a virtuous cycle if you're measuring it in terms of growth; but it becomes a vicious cycle if you measure it in terms of oil scarcity.

Energy prices and consumer behavior

Back in 1989 or 1990 — I can't remember when, exactly — I saw an advertisement that read:

It wasn't the Exxon Valdez captain's driving that caused the Alaskan oil spill. It was yours.

I always liked that because it really got at the root of the problem: consumer behavior.

American car culture is wasteful and impractical

If you own a car, I don’t have to tell you how expensive it is. According to a Department of Labor study, the average consumer unit owns 1.9 cars and spends a whopping 17.6 percent of their average income on transportation including car purchase, fuel and other expenses. That’s nearly as much as insurance, education and health care combined, which make up 18.4 percent. It is the single largest category apart from housing. If your new car costs about $20,000, then you pay the original purchase price again in maintaining and fueling the car in a mere 2.3 years. Gas prices have become a huge burden on drivers and will only grow as we approach peak oil production and consumption continues to skyrocket. Even these high prices are kept artificially low by subsidies and externalizing various costs to the environment and government spending on technology, infrastructure, shipping, and most importantly military deployment to protect oil production and shipment. Those are your tax dollars. On the other hand, your tax dollars could go towards building a clean, convenient, and efficient system of public transportation, making your life easier and more affordable.

Australia: Wasted years for Victorian infrastructure

There is something rotten in the state of Victoria and it centres on infrastructure. Over the past decade the Bracks/Brumby government has wasted $6.6 billion on new road projects (as well as $7 billion on water).

Money spent on freeways and bypasses has added to pollution, reduced liveability and, in the long term, done nothing to relieve congestion - all objectives that could have been achieved by getting rid of the private franchisees who run public transport and reinvesting the savings in an integrated public transport system. Over the same period, the government invested only $322 million on fixed public transport infrastructure.

Bike Sharing Expands in Washington

From just 10 stations and about 100 bikes downtown, one of the first municipal bike sharing programs in the country is ballooning by a factor of 10: 100 stations and about 1,100 bikes are to spread around Washington and across the river in Arlington, Va., by the end of October.

Industry targets four million electric vehicles in five years

A global alliance of leading car firms and state government yesterday announced that they are planning to outpace all current predictions for the roll out of electric vehicles (EVs), putting four million battery-powered cars and trucks on the world's roads by 2015.

Pod Cars Start to Gain Traction in Some Cities

Is the pod car finally ready for prime time? After almost 50 years of trial and error, these futuristic personal rapid transit systems, or P.R.T.’s, may be coming to airports and city centers because of technological advances and a growing interest in sustainable transportation.

BoltBus, RedCoach, other bus lines go for business travelers

On your next business trip, stretch your legs, plug in your laptop and prepare for a leisurely ride — on the bus?

Bus companies are aggressively pursuing business travelers in a bid to give the airlines and Amtrak a run for their money. They're offering new coaches, rock-bottom fares and perks such as free Internet access so road warriors can work while they ride.

Is the Tea Party a Modern-Day Renaissance?

We have long listed the themes that the elite is having trouble promoting these days. (And that is not good for those who want increased centralization of power and authority.) Global warming, Peak Oil, central banking, the European Union, gold and silver (versus the dollar), the IMF, the United Nations, vaccinations, the war in Afghanistan – on and on ... almost everywhere we look we see these fear-based promotions foundering. And the realities they are supposed to establish crumble as well.

Riverhead Energy Awareness Day (Long Island)

The Town of Riverhead’s Energy Advisory Committee and the North Fork Environmental Council are organizing a “Riverhead Energy Awareness Day” (R.E.A.D.) to be held on Saturday, October 2, to demonstrate how we can use the alternative energy of the sun and wind to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

“This is not just about finding ways to save money,” said Ken Rubino, president of the North Fork Environmental Council. “It’s about exposing the next generation to new ways of doing things, new career opportunities and a world of new possibilities.”

Plan Green

No single technology will help cities evolve away from the auto era and into a 21st Century community with a denser, more vibrant, more urban mix of uses than the streetcar. Even without the 3C Concept (Clean-Corridor Coordination) the streetcar would help Portland achieve its peak oil and sustainability strategies. But Portland’s 3C Concept would bring in two other “clean” technologies as streetcar tracks are laid: Green Streets and District Energy.

Impending Oil Crisis Will Overshadow Global Climate Change

BURLINGTON, ON /PRNewswire/ - Leading energy consultants Dr. Robert Hirsch and colleagues Dr. Roger Bezdek and Robert Wendling, co-authors of an infamous 2005 report for the U.S. Department of Energy on peak oil, predict an impending decline in world oil production may occur within the next five years and urge government, industry and the general public to address the issue, in their newly published book The Impending World Energy Mess: What It Is and What It Means to You!

Concerned by a lack of action and fearful that the subject of global warming may be distracting people from a more imminent issue, Dr. Hirsch and his colleagues decided to take action and write the book. They argue that oil production reached a plateau in 2004 and has remained relatively consistent ever since. They are concerned that a decline in world oil production is potentially two to five years away and will have significant economic consequences.

Thieves Cart Off St. Louis Bricks

Mr. Feemster, who gets around on an electric scooter, had to be carried out of the burning building, but today he considers himself lucky that the damage was contained to just two rooms.

“My neighbor’s house was completely destroyed,” said Mr. Feemster, 58. “I guess it was one of the crackheads in that vacant house.”

Perhaps. But the blaze, one of 391 fires at vacant buildings in the city over the past two years, may have had a more sinister cause. Law enforcement officials, politicians and historic preservationists here have concluded that brick thieves are often to blame, deliberately torching buildings to quicken their harvest of St. Louis brick, prized by developers throughout the South for its distinctive character.

“The firemen come and hose them down and shoot all that mortar off with the high-pressure hose,” said Alderman Samuel Moore, whose predominantly black Fourth Ward has been hit particularly hard by brick thieves. When a thief goes to pick up the bricks after a fire, “They’re just laying there nice and clean.”

It is a crime that has increased with the recession. Where thieves in many cities harvest copper, aluminum and other materials from vacant buildings, brick rustling has emerged more recently as a sort of scrapper’s endgame, exploited once the rest of a building’s architectural elements have been exhausted. “Cleveland is suffering from this,” said Royce Yeater, Midwest director for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “I’ve also heard of it happening in Detroit.”

Report: Obesity hurts your wallet and your health

Nearly 1 billion additional gallons of gasoline are used every year because of increases in car passengers' weight since 1960.

Wal-Mart plans for smaller, urban stores with fresh food

Wal-Mart plans to expand into urban markets with smaller stores that carry fresh food.

A Crop Sprouts Without Soil or Sunshine

On the rooftop garden at St. Philip’s Academy, a private school in Newark, students tend plots of everything from broccoli and beets to sweet corn and spaghetti squash.

But since August they have also been helping to farm arugula, chervil, fun jen and komatsuna in a machine installed in a fourth-floor science classroom that grows crops without soil or sunshine.

Cows come home to Wolvercote village green

A village green is often a good place for a picnic or a game of football with the children.

However, the people of Wolvercote have reclaimed their green for a more traditional activity.

"We're all commoners in this village and some of us have rights to graze cattle," Michael Buck told BBC Oxford.

Mr Buck has now exercised this right and purchased a cow and a calf. They are the first cattle on the grass in 60 years.

Climate Change Denial - Default Mode

Is either climate change or the end of cheap oil a potential catastrophe that needs emergency preventive action?

The broader presently non-existing discussion - and it should include everybody from David Spratt to Matt Ridley - should be: Are our actions today possibly (probably - potentially?) causing catastrophic consequences for future generations? And, if so, can and should we initiate effective mitigation today? And if systemic change is necessary for mitigation is such change possible within BAU, or, if not, how do we unblock so that systemic change is possible quickly?

Political cowards love the sin tax

In the past fiscal year, 11 states have increased cigarette taxes, while five states upped their gas taxes. (Yes, even driving is seen as a sin in some quarters today.) Earlier this year, Colorado stopped exempting sugary drinks and fatty snacks from a 2.9% sales tax, while Washington state hiked taxes on beer and soda. And the proposals keep coming: Californians will vote in November whether to legalize and tax marijuana, more than 130 Maryland General Assembly candidates have signed a pledge to vote for a 10-cent tax on all alcoholic drinks, and in Oregon, the Public Health Division is pushing for a soda tax.

Energy states, Idaho leading comeback from recession

Texas, North Carolina, Idaho and a handful of other states are leading the nation's crawl out of the worst recession since the 1930s, a USA TODAY analysis finds.

Senators see new life for renewable-power bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A bipartisan group of U.S. senators will introduce legislation on Tuesday that would require utilities to generate minimum levels of power from clean energy like wind and solar, after such a measure was stripped from a broader oil-spill bill in July.

GOP May Rebrand House Enviro Committees

If Republicans win control of the House in November -- which many political handicappers see as likely -- environmental panels like the Natural Resources Committee, the Energy and Commerce Committee, and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming might undergo some rebranding.

U.S. Plans to Try Again on HFC With This Year's `Biggest Climate Deal'

The U.S. plans a second try with a greenhouse-gas proposal arguing that carbon trading isn’t the best way to eliminate hydrofluorocarbon-23, an industrial waste product that traps 11,700 times as much heat as carbon dioxide.

Soros Says Climate Talks `Removed From Reality,' Urges Practical Action

Billionaire investor George Soros said debate about tackling global warming is being overtaken by damage occurring from climate change and practical action is needed.

“The gap between what needs to be done and what’s actually happening is getting wider,” Soros, founder of Soros Fund Management LLC that oversees about $25 billion in assets, said today at a New York panel discussion on climate change.

Taiwan moves toward carbon offset scheme

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Nearly 270 companies responsible for more than half of Taiwan's greenhouse gas pollution have agreed to supply emissions data to the government to help it launch a carbon offset scheme, officials said on Tuesday.

Taiwan's Environmental Protection Administration passed rules on Sept. 10 in which companies were requested to supply emissions data needed to launch a carbon trading platform by year's end, EPA officials said.

Record Warmth Spawns Stronger Hurricanes Across Atlantic Ocean

The four major Atlantic hurricanes that spun toward the Caribbean in the past month were fueled by record warm seas and formed in an unprecedented 20 days. With 10 weeks left in the hurricane season, more may be coming.

Extreme Heat Bleaches Coral, and Threat Is Seen

This year’s extreme heat is putting the world’s coral reefs under such severe stress that scientists fear widespread die-offs, endangering not only the richest ecosystems in the ocean but also fisheries that feed millions of people.

From Thailand to Texas, corals are reacting to the heat stress by bleaching, or shedding their color and going into survival mode. Many have already died, and more are expected to do so in coming months. Computer forecasts of water temperature suggest that corals in the Caribbean may undergo drastic bleaching in the next few weeks.

Millions at risk from Arctic flood warns minister

Almost a billion people could face disaster from rising sea levels caused by melting Arctic ice, President of the Russian Geographical Society and Russian Emergencies Minister Sergey Shoigu warned on Monday.

"More than 800 million people could end up living in a state of emergency if temperatures do not stop increasing," Shoigu said at a press conference ahead of a three-day Arctic forum in Moscow.

Arctic Ice in Death Spiral

UXBRIDGE, Sep 20 (IPS) - The carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels have melted the Arctic sea ice to its lowest volume since before the rise of human civilisation, dangerously upsetting the energy balance of the entire planet, climate scientists are reporting.

"The Arctic sea ice has reached its four lowest summer extents (area covered) in the last four years," said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in the U.S. city of Boulder, Colorado.

The volume - extent and thickness - of ice left in the Arctic likely reached the lowest ever level this month, Serreze told IPS.

"I stand by my previous statements that the Arctic summer sea ice cover is in a death spiral. It's not going to recover," he said.

Transportation to ASPO-DC Convention Site

Per the map, the convention hotel is two blocks from DC's Union Passenger Terminal and near Capital Hill. It is basically impossible to park in that area.

DC UPT is served by Metro (Red Line), MARC (Maryland) & VRE (Virginia) commuter rail and Amtrak. Also public buses but I am unfamiliar with them. MARC & VRE do not run on weekends (MARC was planning to but budget cuts ...)





A number of workers live in Baltimore and work in DC, so commuting from Baltimore is feasible but wearing if you spend more than 8 hours in DC.

One can fly into BWI (usually cheaper, Southwest dominates), take a free 5 minute shuttle to the BWI AMtrak station. $6 via MARC's Penn Line (no weekend service), $13 via Amtrak (more for Acela) to DC Union Station.

One can also take an express bus, B30 from BWI to a Green Line Metro station or take Baltimore's light rail line into town.

The BWI Express/B30 service runs every 40 minutes, 7 days a week to the Greenbelt Metro Station


I plan to fly Southwest to BWI, book an inexpensive hotel within 2/3rds of a mile of a Metro station and commute via Metro and walking to the conference.

Contact me as I develop details.

For those unfamiliar with large scale public transit it can be a bit bewildering at first. I am going to orient myself between Metro and the convention site via the map before leaving New Orleans (DC UPT is cavernous).

Best Hopes for Public Transit,


The Drumbeat news seems especially depressing today, but that probably just reflects my mood today. Peak oil and global warming fear based? I wish.

That's odd. I thought today's DB was pretty typical. But we have a new kitten and he is currently resting peacefully on my lap so maybe I have a "fat and happy" bias today.

I think it is very interesting that the Mortgage Fraud Bubble might become public knowledge. Ignorance is bliss until its not.

I think it is interesting that Charlie Munger took on the role of Marie Antoinette -"You should be thanking god we billionaires got bailed out - now shut up and eat cake."

The good news - as you point out - is the cavalry is coming - the Tea Party is onto the Elites' Fear-Based Peak oil Campaign...

("the events for which this crisis will be remembered haven't happened yet." - paraphrase Ryan Crocker)

I've been looking for the rational statement from the tea party. Still looking. I had to laugh at some of the comments in the "Right News" article. (Half the population wants to get rid of social security) Right.

The ultimate statement by the tea party loonies is the crop they have advanced for public office. I haven't seen a bunch like that since the Three Stooges met Laurel and Hardy.

Re: Arctic Ice in Death Spiral

The data for sea-ice extent hasn't hit bottom yet. We may still see a record low extent in the next week. Some years, the minimum didn't appear until October, if my memory is correct...

E. Swanson

I noticed that this morning also. It was strange to read the head page for the source of the graph.

"...sea ice has now begun its annual cycle of growth. "

I'm sure they will correct their 9-10-2010 entry, I hope a rationale is included.

It looks like 2010 is about to cross 2008 become the second lowest ice extent for this date.

They have not updated the multi-year chart but if you load these two images into tabs and click between them, you'll see what I'm talking about.


(Note, these images change daily, so this message will self destruct on Sep 22, 2010. The secretary will disavow any knowledge of climate change.)

UPDATE: here's a photoshop. 2010 is below 2008.


Nice work on the photoshopped overlay of graphs JP - something that website should have done. Looks like a tie right now between 08 & 10. Can't imagine 10 can surpass 07 min, due to date in Sept. already.

Regards this year looking like a joint second lowest with 2008: NSIDC now acknowledge the situation in an ammendment to the apparently premature minimum declaration, and will comment in the melt-season round up due in October.

Meanwhile as some bloggers continue to claim the Arctic is recovering, those with real interests are making plans. Russia is serious about the Arctic:

From BBC News:

This strange construction, part ship, part platform, is unique and lies at the heart of Russia's grand ambitions for the Arctic.

When it is completed in 2012, it will be the first of eight floating nuclear power stations which the government wants to place along Russia's north coast, well within the Arctic Circle.

The idea is the nuclear reactors will provide the power for Russia's planned push to the North Pole.


Does anyone share my surprise at the lack of coverage (or at least front page coverage) of the growing rift between China and Japan over suspected gas exploration in the East China Sea?

The trough basin holds nearly 17.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to Chinese estimates, which have also said the basin could hold 20 million barrels of oil.

Q&A: China, Japan and the East China Sea gas dispute

My Taiwanese wife works for a multinational Japanese corporation that does extensive business in China. She gets it. China regards Japan much as it regards Tibet and Taiwan -- except with a vengeance born of WW II atrocities. This move is not just a power play against Japan, it's a major push against the U.S. by proxy.

Not at all. Why would then MSM run stories which might "spook the herd", when the usual politics and "dancing with the stars" seems to fulfill the news needs of main street America.

IMHO, the China/Japan, Russian flybys of American Navel Vessels etc., are early indicators. Opening semi-skirmishes in the upcoming Energy Wars. Call it a preview of "things to come".

I tend to agree with you there. Right now we're in the posturing phase, but we only need one incident where the bluff is called and we'll be in the war phase. Though at this point, China and Japan would both be insane to escalate - both have big militaries, and a war would be intensely counterproductive. Give it some years, though, and China will probably be at the point of willing to risk a shooting war for oil.

What strikes me is the strange behavior of Japan in terms of diplomacy here; they are holding a boat captain and China is very offended. This is derailing talks about drilling - they were actually considering cooperating to exploit the area. Either Japan is incompetent and gripped by nationalism (hey, it's happened before), or there are other factors involved - they may really, really want to maintain absolute control of the area, or the "fishing boat" captain may be something very different.

To be honest, I just don't quite get it. They came to an agreement, yet now both sides are fanning the flames of racist ethnic nationalism (most nation-states are based on a racist ideal of the nation). Considering the strength of Japan's military and China's military, I can't see how belligerence could possibly end well for either side.

China and Japan would both be insane to escalate - both have big militaries,

When did Japan get a big military?

To be honest, I just don't quite get it. They came to an agreement, yet now both sides are fanning the flames of racist ethnic nationalism

Such flames warm the cockels of some hearts. Not to mention the successful model of the US of A military-industrial-congressional complex. Plenty of 'conventional wisdom' that war gets one out of economic downturns.

For a long time, and now as well, Japan has been effectively under the U.S. Military "umbrella", but I'm sure by now that they could manage quite a bit on their own.

It looks like the "solution" that China and Japan are going to use is basically to go toe to toe and BOTH do drilling in the disputed waters. That should be interesting indeed...

As to our Military Industrial Complex (and its supporting staff of Politicians), yes it sure gives their bottom line a nice warm fuzzy feeling, plus the above mentioned historical precedent that nothing seems to beat a major war to get an economy out of the doldrums. It's my understanding that back in the day (Vietnam), Howard Hughes himself had looked for ways to extend the war to the benefit of Hughes Aircraft (sell em' more Hueys...).

Japan has no military deterrent to speak of. Why would they be acting provocatively? Maybe they feel that they have no choice -- there is an issue of national pride. Are they going to just let China walk out there and start drilling unilaterally? Japan may also be interested to see how the U.S. responds in this situation. They have hitched their wagon to the U.S. and they may want to see if the horse still pulls.

But... but...

Just a couple of weeks ago there was an article posted saying China, Japan to head 'golden age for Asia'

One TOD poster even had the following praise for these two best buddies:

One of the many conditions pre-empting the disaster scenarios of peak oil doomsters is the existence of diverse types of social organization, including political and economic institutions, around the world.

There are governments who not only appreciate informed reasoning, but are actually able to proceed on its basis.

Because of this, and because of the speed at which information is disseminated today, even states cursed by the prevalence of anti-enlightenment prejudices will eventually benefit from the experimentation permitted by diversity in social organization.

Good thing we have diverse states like Japan and China who are so enlightened and willing to use informed reasoning and experiment with eachother.

Yes, but after the "informed reasoning" fails, option #2 (and basically the same for us and our cousins the Chimps) is to "beat the other tribe over their heads with sticks"(or the equivalent thereof...).

Anyone who thinks China and Japan can be BFF is totally uninformed about the relations between the two countries. China has a long memory and Nanjing still weighs heavily -- anti-Japanese protests are not uncommon today when tempers flare and Japanese businessmen know how to keep a low profile.

Does anyone share my surprise at the lack of coverage (or at least front page coverage) of the growing rift between China and Japan over suspected gas exploration in the East China Sea?

Maybe people think it is the latest story line from a Clancy novel. It seems like the kind of event that can escalate quickly.

This China-Japan Tempest in a teapot is a yawner to me.

Hot conflict is not in the best business interests for these two countries.

From the Wall Street Journal: (you may have to search on title to get)

High-Speed Rail Stalls

Opposition from freight railroads is threatening the Obama administration's multibillion-dollar push to make high-speed passenger trains an integral part of the U.S. transportation network.

The standoff demonstrates the difficulties of introducing new passenger service to a rail network that is at least 90% owned by freight railroads and outfitted for slower trains.

To save time and money, government officials want new high-speed rail routes to operate on the vast system of train corridors that already crisscross the U.S., unlike European and Asian countries that have built dedicated tracks for high-speed rail.

But Norfolk Southern Corp., Union Pacific Corp. and other railroad companies are balking at sharing their tracks or rights-of-way with trains that would run between 90 and 200-plus miles an hour. They argue that mixing high-speed passenger trains with slower freight trains would create safety risks, prevent future expansion and cause congestion.

The article goes on to point out that the rail system has been largely funded by the freight operators in recent years--not be government funds. It seems like this outcome is not all that surprising.

Our problems with rail go all the way back to Abraham Lincoln.

Let's not forget that the great Abraham Lincoln got his start representing Big Business as a railroad attorney.

During his presidency the Pacific Railways Act of 1862 gave land grants and bonds to the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads to construct a trans-continental railroad. (Big Business likes to have friends in high places!)

We've had issues with these land grants ever since. (see Cascade Checkerboard)

Using publicly owned rolling stock on privately held rails is a truly dumb way to run a national system.

But it's virtually impossible to imagine how a transfer of ownership could occur within our current legal framework.

It's amazing how decisions made over a century ago continue to haunt us.

Best Hopes for more publicly owned rights-of-way going forward.


This is what I have been saying for a couple of years now. The only way to ever get good low cost national rail service is to nationalize all the trackage in the US and then let any and all private rail companies operate freight and passenger trains anywhere in the USA under the control of a public rail control system.
Just like the air traffic system with passenger and freight companies operating on public airways under the control of public air traffic controllers.
Companies like UPS and Fed-Ex could be operating their own trains very efficiently IF there was a public trackage and control system - But not until then!
Glad to see that others are thinking along the same path.

Except that the air traffic system is a sick joke, mostly still stuck in the 1960s, or, more precisely, the computer-emulated 1960s. And the Federal Railroad Administration often seems stuck in, oh, I don't know, the 1890s. So how do you overcome all that ossified, entrenched ineffectiveness - and prevent it from redeveloping in a year or three?

The National Airspace System outlook is not as bleak as all that:


ADS-B is being rolled out.

Break break: U.S. regulators approved the proposed merger of United and Continental several days ago.

Before this was the merger approval for NorthWest into Delta.

I wouldn't be surprised to see American and US Air merge in a year or two.

Four major U.S. airlines within 3 years: Delta-NW, United-Continental, American-US Air, and SouthWest.

If airline traffic stagnates or even decreases in the coming years, NAS capacity won't be as big of an issue.

I remember when the Penn Central failed in 1970. That's when I first learned that the railroads had gotten so much free land from the federal govt that they, apparently, decided a long time ago that they were real estate companies, not transportation companies. So investment in infrastructure and rolling stock always took 2nd fiddle to land deals.

I hadn't considered that the relationship between the government and corporate welfare went all the way back to the founder of the Republican party. What a proud tradition to uphold.

High speed rail(250 mph top speed) running on rails is supposed to compete with jets(500 mph cruising) flying on straight lines.
In Europe it make sense as distances(Berlin to Madrid-1150 miles) are relatively close but the US is just too big.

The Japanese Shinkansen is a model system for a very densely crowded country with large cities close together. The Shinkansen
is subsiudized by the freight service of Japan Railways and government subsidies(to build and operate). A train can seat up to 368 to 1300 passengers, a Boeing 747 can seat 416, and an ocean liner 2500 passengers.

The main Shinkansen(Hachinohe-Tokyo-Osaka-Fukuota)is 1000 miles long and carries 85% of all Shinkansen passengers. The Shinkansen is most efficient at distances between 100 and 500 miles.
Boston-New York-Philadelphia-Washington might be workable at 500 miles. San Francisco-San Diego is 500 miles.


If the distance is less than 500 miles it is always cheaper to drive than fly solo(though maybe more nerve-racking) and with families it is even cheaper.


"....cheaper to drive"

Cheaper for who? Let's see; subsidized roads, oil depletion allowances, military protection of oil rich regimes, Saudi funded madrasas, dead zones, air pollution, etc.

Pretty much the same considerations for flying though, which was the comparison actually made.

Feds should just take one half of every Interstate Highway corridor and lay the HSR tracks there - make the other half two-way for motor traffic and be done. The corridors are wide, graded, and have no at grade crossings.

Now, there's a nifty idea!

I've long considered that the Interstates could be re-engineered for a more efficient transportation system. The Interstate system was designed for ICE cars and trucks, not trains, especially not highspeed rail. The geometry (turns and grades) often aren't suitable for rail. The steepest standard rail grades seem to be below 3%. Interstates can be twice that. So the Interstates would have to be modified for rail, or a rail system designed to be compatible.

If we could electrify the highway system (add an HVDC corridor perhaps) and make it part of a massive smart grid we could tie in distributed renewables and support an electricity based transportation system. A National Electro-Transport Bus. Regen braking on trains, giant capacitor farms, solar, wind, EV charging stations, pumped hydro, the dreams go on.....

Show me the money.

The only way I see your dream happening is if there was a 'industrial temp' superconductor. Such magic would justify a whole new electrical grid.

giant capacitor farms

Right now, the only way I see that happening is if the EEStor type magic is real.

I am not sure if this is applicable, but electric locomotives (powered by overhead wires) have, I believe, more go (torque) than diesel and can handle steeper grades.
That would not address a turn radius issue, I suppose.

Yes, although typically the advantage is less than 1 degree (1/100).

The real advantage in climbing steep grades is increasing the % of driven axles. Streetcars with 100% driven axles (and relatively low weight/axle) could climb 14/100 hills in icy conditions.

There are electric motors driving both diesel electric & all electric locomotives. Perhaps becasue of the greater reserve power of the grid vs. the on-board generator, all electrics can handle slighter steeper slopes (so I have been told).


I just remember reading that in NZ when they electrified the main trunk they were able to get through in substantially less time, and part of the reason was the electric locos could handle the grades better.

Works fine in the flat states. Welcome to the western US, where all interstates have mountains under them, so rights-of-way may go up or down the sides of said mountains, along with grades along the routes being considerably more than the (very low) maximum that rail can handle.

The US needs a rail system that is at least up to Bulgarian standards.
It would be great if we could return to 1940s US standards.
Forget about high speed rail -- just get the system back together.

I've been waiting for this issue to rise to the surface. CSX showed the way to address this issue back in 2006 when it submitted an application with the USDOT to create a multi-purpose, grade-separated corridor from NYC to Florida, primarily along the old Seaboard Air Line route. As I recall it would have two tracks for high speed rail (up to 110 mph and selected high speed freight in off-peak hours); on the outside would be two more conventional tracks for regular service. Although this would seem to be a wide corridor, it is similar to the four-track system the New York Central used between Albany and Buffalo. That system permitted crack trains like the 20th Century Limited (which routinely got above 90 mph) to co-exist with freight service.

There is no cheap way to do this, which is why organizations such as the National Association of Railroad Passengers have pushed for conventional passenger rail service to be expanded. Adding high speed turnouts and lengthening sidings can overcome a lot of issues as Positive Train Control is implemented on major routes.

I don't care about high speed rail, i just like the efficiency of any type of rail. If it goes 100mph, great, 80mph, fine...better then driving across the country in a stupid car with 2 annoying kids crying at you and throwing books at your head. The thing about a train is you don't have to drive, you can sleep, you can internet and you can hit on the other pretty girls in the train while getting toasted at the bar. I say expand Amtrak 50x...

I watched a recent "Rick Steve's Europe" episode and he was using the rail system in Switzerland/Germany/Italy... for the most part it wasn't high speed that i could tell, but it looked pretty darn nice. In Switzerland the trains can go up some pretty steep grades. Plus European girls are hot, so that is always a plus.

What does Petroleum Distillates Usage Say About the Recovery?

The following chart shows a drop in oil distillates usage stared in 2006, the same year the housing plunge started.

In my early career at Exxon I was taught to watch these numbers. Any time they fell below 0.8%, you could expect a stagnant economy, anytime below 0.5%, a recessionary economy. Negative numbers are very bad...

... In the typical recovery, GDP, new home sales, corporate earnings, retail sales, shipments, and orders are all making new highs after 33 months. Instead, none of those items are.

Add oil distillates usage to the list.

Great chart from Mish.
I really love the way the CNBC cheerleading section has been waxing poetic over year over year gains for the past six months. IOW, plotting gains from the very nadir of the recession. In order to grasp the magnitude of the problem and the puniness of the "recovery", one has got to look at the change since the late summer/early fall of '07. No one wants to go there.

Pink Floyd said it best about the MSM: "Got to keep the loonies on the path."

Unfortunately the public picks up and reads the paper holding their folded faces to the floor.

......comfortably numb.

That's what gets me too jabberwock. They are comparing now to one of the worse periods ever, instead of a more prosperous economic time period. Today they came out with an article claiming new construction was going gangbusters - oh really, compared to when? - the previous 3 months? - Sorry, I'm not impressed.

You know my Ford Ranger is one of the fastest vehicles in the world. Oh, compared to when? 1910. But you see that's not news. But neither is this stuff MSM or CNBC is giving us either.

I'm on my fourth Ranger. I've been spaming Ford to build a turbo diesel US model for years.

However as a result of the shift toward smaller and more fuel efficient vehicles in North America, Ford has said it will continue to produce the current Ford Ranger through 2011 at its Twin Cities, Minn. plant, which was previously scheduled to close in 2009. [18]

This production extension has led to speculation that the next generation ASEAN Ranger, codenamed T6, already at an advanced stage of development by Ford Australia, [19] will be sold in North America despite being designed for global markets outside of North America. The T6 Ranger is expected to enter production in 2011.

As of May 2010, T6 engineering prototypes are being tested in various countries including the U.S. [20] It is expected that the new truck will come with at least two engine choices: a 2.0 L EcoBoost four-cylinder, and the 3.0 L Duratorq diesel for models sold outside the U.S.[20]

In recent years, Ranger's competitors, from the Nissan Frontier to the Toyota Tacoma have been redesigned and enlarged towards the mid-size market, leaving the Ranger the only compact truck on the market. The Ranger remains a decent seller for Ford,[21] with companies like Auto Zone buying them regularly as well as those individuals seeking good fuel mileage in a compact truck (Ranger gets better MPG than any other pickup with its Mazda-derived 4cyl engine).

(bold added) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Ranger

This fits well with my thesis that the bulk of the drop in US consumption was a one time collapse of housing construction. What people are not really getting is its a one off event that cannot be repeated.

This means remaining demand is significantly more inelastic. I argue that current demand will be shown to be far less price sensitive than it was in 2008 because of the intersection of the collapse in housing construction and high oil prices. Although the chicken and egg issue of which came first high oil prices leading to collapse or the housing bubble leading to high oil prices is left as unanswered. I don't think they can be treated as different issues myself to intertwined.

The next shoe to drop if you will is supply vs demand is supply ample for the current demand level ? Given that housing construction is not going to return anytime soon one can now expect US demand to remain basically at its current level until price again becomes and issue if it does.

Next while I'm at it might as well state my next assumption.

In my opinion the financial issues are secondary its all about oil. Given I think oil production peaked back in the 2002-2004 time period the whole housing bubble scenario was in response too the real peak in oil.
What this means is the financial crisis is a managed affair that not to say its fully controlled simply that it was deliberate and it will continue to be managed.

This means in my opinion that the economy will manage to muddle through as long as oil prices remain relatively low. The stock market won't crash no new crisis etc. Only high oil prices will induce another round of real financial instability.

The only exception is if a major central bank or more than one decides to bolt from the mutual suicide pact required to manage global finances. All the fiat currencies need to be devalued together. Although we probably will see some renegade actions here and there in my opinion everyone is now locked into the path set by the dollar.

This path is interesting. Although we are in debt deflation in the general economy thats not the whole story. One has to consider that we have another type of dollar lets call it the investment dollar. This dollar is created by the wealthy that have access to low short term borrowing rates who then invest long at higher rates. Rolling the short term debt effectively creates very low interest long term debt aka super cheap money.

The low rates have created extreme inflation in this investment dollar the problem is no yield. Only extreme leverage can return decent yields. Thus this investment dollar has little value. The extreme leverage itself forces investors to be somewhat cautious thus the bond market bubble but this simply devalues the investment dollar further. The future value of the investment dollar today is rapidly approaching zero. Liquidity from the central banks has destroyed any risk based interest rate changes so far at the expense of betting on sovereign defaults. They bet the farm then doubled down and bet the crown.

Whats important to me regardless of how you express whats going on now is that the financial engine is on a longer term crash cycle my best guess is at least five years before the next big blow up. Thus the system overall should be able to maintain its sideways movement for years. No crash if we do enter a recession again it will be milder than the last one from our current level. Basically the system will dance around zero growth for some time.

Thus in my opinion the economic killer will be high oil prices until they occur nothing much will change.

This result is in my opinion different from the general doomer consensus which sees many economic indicators weakening and thus they expect us to enter another fairly steep recession. Well the problem is most of these indicators where pretty fake on the way up anyway turning up or down does not mean much as the economy has moved sideways after rebounding from the financial crisis induced stall. Nothing has really changed at the intrinsic level for a while now all thats happened is we had a financial crisis economic lock up and a bit of bounce back.
If you averaged over 2009-2010 you get close to zero change.

The big difference right now is that oil prices are substantially lower thus the economic crisis has at least for the time being managed to avert and oil prices induced collapse. This was of course at the expense of killing housing but its death is being managed.

So if I'm right and everything is really all about oil then we should enter the next economic phase when oil prices start rising again. This is really interesting because its a case of inelastic demand hitting lack of supply. What happens I think is that debt default soars and forces the financial framework thats in place now to activate early if you will not five years out. But oil prices will force the financial crisis to a head not vic versa and until we see high prices we continue flat even as manipulated economic indicators change slightly in their nominal values. This of course implies no real change in the stock market for example which is and interesting outcome. Which although a side effect for me is probably the main goal in the first place.

So just to finish my ramble the jobless "recovery" is real unless we see high oil prices until the next big crisis in about five years or so. A soft landing for housing has been executed this does not mean housing prices won't decline for years if not decades from their current levels simply that the decline rate will be muted say 2-5% per year. I have to imagine that the plan for what it is is for housing to bottom out within five years banks to be fully recapitalized housing cheap and energy obviously not a problem then interest rates finally rise but prices are then so low for homes they are sticky on the bottom and the banks are back making money all the way back up.
And of course at some point along this path we move to a sort of universal currency probably a basked currency with effectively one global central bank. Perhaps prices for oil rise slightly higher say 100-150 over the next five years and renewable start making a serious dent in energy usage.

If we really do have and underlying oil supply crises then its clear to me that current prices have been managed.
If so its and highly unstable situation and a price shock can happen at any time and eventually will in the near future. So we either have years to figure out how things will unfold or closer to months. Regardless no matter what happens eventually the financial situation won't go away and we will suffer for it. Exactly how things play out always goes back to oil and what the real situation is with the oil supply. The current demand levels should not change much from now on out the question is supply.

It seems to me that looking 5 years out without taking politics into consideration is a vain effort. There is so much anger and frustration going on in the US and in Europe (especially the UK) that I suspect that there will be some serious social/political turmoil within that time frame that is going to obfuscate any economic causes or effects.

I don't know how you can get anything out of what that cat says!

He barely knows how to use punctuation. I notice that he writes run-on sentences with many individual thought fragments. Since I don't know where he intended the punctuation, it turns into a combinatorial problem to figure out the meaning. It also becomes ambiguous as hell and you can never call him on his arguments. He just claims that you didn't understand his meaning. (great defense mechanism, BTW).

I have to imagine that the plan for what it is is for housing to bottom out within five years banks to be fully recapitalized housing cheap and energy obviously not a problem then interest rates finally rise but prices are then so low for homes they are sticky on the bottom and the banks are back making money all the way back up.

WTF does any of this gibberish mean !?

Not that I have a stake in the argument, but I've learned alot from memmel and always appreciate his posts.

The problem is that since 2008 we've been living in a bizarro, zombie economy, and it usually does no good to try too hard at making sense of it.

Keep focused on the big picture and inevitable outcome of net energy decline, and leave the short term prognostication to the Wall Street banksters.

I have learned nothing from Memmel and spend "alot" of my time clearing up his big-time fails. We have a bunch of people on TOD that because of Memmel think that we can infer current oil usage from current CO2 levels, and that think peak oil will have a shape that looks like some version of a shark fin, without explicitly stating what this is supposed to look like (concave? convex? I have no idea)

I suppose every once in a while you can find an undigested peanut in there. Dare you to eat it though.


next to the name memmel there is a little box with a minus in it. Click on that and you can no longer read memmels post or the replies to it. It works just fine for me. Well not this time or I would not be replying to you ;-)

Mind you I don't read a lot of your posts either, the math is just a bit over my head.

I would not flag either yours or memmels posts as inappropiate just because I can't understand them. Just skip them.

I suppose you can also take a sledgehammer to your computer.

The best disinfectant is sunlight and when I find something that makes no sense I will point it out.


I thought I was the only one who thought this...

I have tried reading his passages out loud to better understand them, but I get a brain freeze.

Why not use the "inappropriate" button?
If enough people do, maybe some rules develop that we have to write in "readable" English as a guide?
I am not saying I would do that about Memmel, simply there are actions you can take instead of complaining...
Uhhm, was I clear enough?

If enough people click "flag as inappropriate," the post and its replies will go away.

OK, until he starts writing decently, I will start flagging.

I would urge you not to, as he has stated that his "unique" style is due to a learning disability, he has been upfront about it and apologized for it, and if others don't mind wading through it, they should have the option, in my opinion.

That said, I do not read his posts, as I can make no sense of them.

I don't know how you can get anything out of what that cat says! . . . WTF does any of this gibberish mean !?

I second that. Not that memmel isn't intelligent, but his articulation is abysmal. As a writing instructor I teach 18-year-olds college-level literacy. It's not that difficult to learn to write sentences.

He attributes his "unique" style to dyslexia.

Ghung - In that case we should just pray to Dog that he improves.

Our Doggy, Who art in Heaven...........

That is a likely not true. Look at the speed at which he will post a reply. This is just stream-of-consciousness gibberish, where he essentially takes no special care to make it readable. Is he Jack Kerouac? No. If he is a programmer, I would hate to maintain his code.

He really holds the readers of the comments section in contempt. If he cared he would make a cursory attempt to be readable.

Strangely I can make sense of virtually everything memmel posts. I don't need to agree but I can understand it. If you don't want to read it then just ignore it.

I seldom read memmel 's long posts. I have often wondered whether he uses speech-to-text to spew out his stream of consciousness stuff. If so, he should try to read and edit it down a bit before posting. But, that's not his gig, I suppose...

E. Swanson

I find memmel's comments cause me to think in different patterns. His opinions are quite unique and his grammar challenges my intelligence.

Whereas other major posters are entirely comprehensible, they proceed in predictably linear fashion. A little elliptical discussion from memmel is my morning crossword puzzle.

Lighten up please, I treasure his posts and altho challenging, they keep my brain cells active

Hey memmel, Best wishes from Phuket, Thailand

It is worth noting that Stephen Hawkings has been accused of having an "unfair advantage" because of his disability by other theoretical physicists. His limited interactions with the world have forced him to think through problems in somewhat different ways.

We are facing at least a pair of major problems (Peak Oil & Climate Change) where it is clear, at least to me, that the "standard" group decision making process is not working. So expanding the parameters of "group think" and our individual thinking is in order. It is worth trying at least :-)

Best Hopes for Those who try,


But the obvious point is that
(1) Hawking will use software and technology to his advantage
(2) Hawking is brilliant, shall we say.

Memmel refuses to use technology to clear up his grammar (even though he claims to be a good software developer) and comes up with crazy theories that I have to spend time refuting.

You have to count the number of times that Memmel has laid claim that "his model" did something or another. I always have to ask him what this model is and it turns out he never has anything. That is the antithesis of science, to basically mock other scientists by preening around with delusions of grandeur in his head, but have nothing to show for it. He may not be wasting his time, because he may get his kicks from self-amusement, but he is certainly wasting my time and everyone else on TOD.

"theories that I have to spend time refuting."

You don't have to, you know.

You can ask him the same question (about spending time refuting what I write).

mikeB if you have any idea what I've gone through because of my inability to write.

Consider just for a second walking in my shoes if you will. The comments on this page are nothing compared to the hell I've been put through. All the hatred and virulent comments that can no longer be directed at people that are different are free to be used for people like me. Trust me it sucks rocks.

Do you think I like it ?

Do you have any idea what it took for me to get up the guts and even write ?

Hell have the reason I'm a programmer is because I can write for compilers not humans.
In that respect I guess I'm lucky. I have to imagine that in past ages people like me retreated to
being artisans and perhaps even artists because they could not express themselves with the pen.
My point is its not the only mode of communication and it may surprise you to find that language
is not something that everyone can handle easily.

What I do know is I get private emails from time to time from other people like me that can't write.

Perhaps the best way to describe the condition is that I translate the way I think into English but I don't
use English in my thinking it just as well be some language I learned late in life its not the one I actually
use internally.

One last thing I try my best to be thick skinned if you will about comments some like WHT are east to dismiss however yours was not. The truth is it hurts every time a person like you degenerates me. If that was your intention then I will tell you that it was successful. I hope your happy.

Just for one minute consider what I've been through however and consider if you had been on the receiving end of your own comment.

And yes I'll continue to write until enough of my posts get deleted for it to be fruitless.
I'm not going back to my cage willingly I spent decades silent and afraid of ridicule.
If you had any idea ...

I am sorry that I did not stand up for you earlier.

I will make a greater effort to read and understand your points in the future.

I think that I have a bare inkling of your struggle, and I appreciate your efforts.

Best Hopes for Better Understanding (the human kind) in the future,


Thanks Alan.

Its not all bad as I'm often reminded just how thin the veneer of civilization is once people feel they are free to disregard the humanity of another person. My problem seems to be one thats a free fire zone :)

And its important to not forget this as its yet another very important factor in our civilization the line between normal behavior and barbaric brutality is one thats easy to cross for everyone even me. If anything its not a bad thing to be reminded of this even if its often personal.

how thin the veneer of civilization is once people feel they are free to disregard the humanity of another person

the line between normal behavior and barbaric brutality is one thats easy to cross for everyone

Yes, And the internet removes the visual clues (body language, facial expressions, tears, etc.) that may restrain us in face to face diatribes.

Brutality is facilitated by seeing our victim as the "Other". And we are trained (or is in innate ?) to search for differences to focus upon so we can classify some people as "Other".

I make a conscious effort to combat this human tendency (or trait), but I all too often find myself slipping back.

Best Hopes for the Humane side of Humanity,


Yes, And the internet removes the visual clues (body language, facial expressions, tears, etc.) that may restrain us in face to face diatribes.

Interesting in my line of work its 99% remote however we make and effort to meet face to face a few times a year to get to know each other. Those meeting are very important and we hang out and have beers etc.
Then we all go back to our little hidey holes :)

You would be amazed at the difference it makes before and after even one face to face meeting.

That's a great move, posing as a martyr.

You wouldn't last a second in a scientifically peer-reviewed environment. The reviewers would be merciless, more so than me, and the last thing that would work is to complain that someone is attacking you. The fact is that you are a poseur and keep on referring to some model that you have dreamed up in your mind, but in fact doesn't really exist. That delusional attitude simply does not cut it, no matter who backs you up on your ramblings.

I notice that you haven't made a comment in one of the GOM Macondo threads. I know exactly why. The people on that thread care DEEPLY about fixing the situation. If you went on there and started spouting some more gibberish like you do on the DrumBeat, you would be absolutely skewered. You would be an annoying impediment to making any progress. And I think you know that, and also possess a level of contempt to post to DrumBeat knowing safely that no one will attack you because of your martyr status.

Well I don't really care. So if you get in the way and continue to try to make the technical discussion more murky than it already is, I will continue to swat down what you write.

Hell have the reason I'm a programmer is because I can write for compilers not humans.

Your story reeks of inauthenticity. For one I feel bad for the programmers that have to maintain your code. But you of all people should realize that you can write for compilers because the compiler won't let through code that doesn't pass strict grammar rules. So what you should do when you write in English is to get a spelling checker and a grammar checker. MS Word has a pretty good one that fixes mispellings and highlights bad grammar. It will unhighlight when you get the punctuation right. If it is stubborn, split it into two sentences. It's kind of like debugging. Let me tell you a secret -- software is a wondrous thing and perhaps you should look into it.

You really have no excuse; you have to do this because you want to show some respect for your readership. If you have some sort of mental block that compels you to write like that even though you can use a grammar checker, then you should seek some help.

I guess I have to reply to this.

What makes you think I have access to MS Word easily ? I just put 8 gigs of ram into my laptop because I kept running out of memory. For a long time I've had to shut down my browser to do my work which should have pleased you :)

I'm not against buying a Laptop running window to run word to satisfy tour demands however I need to buy a quad core high end compile server that I'm saving my pennies for and it will earn me money and increase my productivity.
I had a box with vista on it that I wiped to create a clean build server.

Bottom line is my computers are used for my job and I don't have enough right now much less the cash to blow on one to run windows to run word to get the grammar checker you claim I have easy access too. Not that I even know how to use word anyway I've never used it maybe a handful of times in my life.

I build stuff for embedded systems I don't have much interaction with mainstream/desktop computing to be honest.

If you want to know something about MN10300,Mips,SH4,Arm etc then I'm your guy :)

Certainly I'll consider what your saying I don't have a problem with it. Just at the moment financially its not something I can do as I need to reinvest in tools I need to make money first. I'm self employed and its been a really bad year for me I just finally started making money a month ago eight months of unemployment is no fun.
Self employment ain't either still no insurance for the kids. But yes your right I'm full of crap and I should invest in MSWord and a computer to run it because you of course know everything about my situation.

Thanks for your concern however I think I'll save my pennies for my server to cut my compile times and increase my productivity first. And yes WHT believe it or not there are people in this world that have never used Windows much I'm one of them. My intro to computing was using a NeXT station to program fortran for Cray's.

The get an open source grammar tool. How about Abiword with Link-Grammar?

You really have no excuse now.

Yeah that might work for small stuff like posts good idea. Abiword itself was a piece of junk but I've not tried it in years. I was not lying about not writing I seldom do. I use openoffice from time to time but at least until recently it did not have a grammar checker.

Here is more info.


Abiword is probably a good solution for this situation however thats what I get for hiding out so long times change.
If I have the time I could teach the grammar parser my problems easily enough. Adding one one day to the browser editor has been on my todo list for a while more like my wish list but its pretty far out.

Its not like its hard for me to test the capabilities of these engines either :)

No real reason why these editor windows can't have grammar checking we already have spell check.

Heck I even have and api for it :)

namespace WebCore {

class Editor {
bool isSelectionUngrammatical();
void markMisspellingsAfterTypingToPosition(const VisiblePosition&);
void markMisspellings(const VisibleSelection&, RefPtr& firstMisspellingRange);
void markBadGrammar(const VisibleSelection&);
void markMisspellingsAndBadGrammar(const VisibleSelection& spellingSelection, bool markGrammar, const VisibleSelection& grammarSelection);
void uppercaseWord();
void lowercaseWord();


So yeah I'll go ahead and add it. Thats the best way to do it right in the editor pane for the browser.
I bet I can get the Chrome guys to include it if I provide a sample implementation.

I'm catching up on some drumbeats just now and your vitriol, WHT, is shocking and disappointing.

Memmel is just toying with everyone on TOD.

What makes you think I have access to MS Word easily ? I just put 8 gigs of ram into my laptop because I kept running out of memory.

And how are these 2 items joined together?

You need 8 gigs of DRAM for the word processor?

For a long time I've had to shut down my browser to do my work which should have pleased you :)

You might want to upgrade to a real operating system then. I hear FreeBSD works.

I build stuff for embedded systems

And somehow 8 gigs of DRAM is needed? For 8/16 bit embedded systems?

I'm self employed and its been a really bad year for me I just finally started making money a month ago eight months of unemployment is no fun.

Exactly how did you collect unemployment when you were self-employed?

I agree that oil demand has become less elastic, and that has more of an impact on the economy at large. My deeper pessimism comes from the trust that underpins the whole system. Expansion and investment became almost impossible here when the banks all lost faith in each other and stopped lending. The inter-bank lending was almost zero and so the 'money velocity' ground to a halt. A similar level of trust applies to agreements between countries and when that trust is shaken it becomes very difficult for heavily debt ridden governemnts to function.

The future I see will entail a derailing of globalisation as the trust dries up. The world will become an awful lot bigger again.

There's too much human nature involved for it all to transition gracefully.

Reduced aviation fuel demand is @ 200,000 b/day (from memory). Older, less efficient planes retired. higher load factors on remaining a/c.

People just flying less can save more in this sector. Staycations :-)


It all helps. I just wish we could convince the Chinese to staycate (is that even a word?). They've got plans for nearly 100 new airports to be built before 2020. I wonder if they aim to be the lost luggage capital of the world!

Well to some extent I looked at that a bit. They are not staycations but local vacations.
It not clear what the real change is as your doing a bit of trading off using a car instead of a plane for vacations.

Lots of variables of course but it varies from saving oil to using more oil thus the real average is tough to figure.
Airplanes are a fairly efficient way to travel just we abuse them.

Don't know how to track this down exactly however if you look at VMT vs per capita income its often higher in the poorer parts of the country.

Perhaps a sort of example from telcomunications

Consider three groups of people some pay monthly for unlimited minutes. Some monthly for a fixed set and some use a pay as you go plan. Now redistribute people amongst the three groups and try and determine what the overall usage would be for given configurations. Its not simple nor trivial but this is very similar to how oil usage works I argue telecom minutes are a lot like oil. And yes external influence apply. And obvious one is a teenager in love in any of these groups will probably use a substantial amount of minutes. My point is you have the groups and then you have the utility of the minutes based on a plethora of external factors.

Given the above the concept of a staycation is obviously not correct it does not capture the complexity of the problem and is at best a poor analysis. Generally what you find when you have a large number of factors effecting a situation is that the average tends to be flat. Aka they all average to zero or some constant. The assumption that you have a simple price/usage relationship is false. Indeed this is why you have inelastic demand in both minutes and oil. Lacking a full analysis which is difficult the correct answer is no change.

Now with that said there are some changes which will change the distribution removing the unlimited plan of making it obscenely expensive will change the distribution and almost certainly lower the overall usage. Thats in my opinion what popping the housing bubble did it removed this extreme for oil usage. However I argue that for oil in minutes both its a one time savings elimination the most excessive abuses. Once those are gone its hard to discern a reason for a particular trend thus flat is the right answer not staycations.

This can itself be generalized to recognize that BAU has and enormous inertia and assumptions that some sort of collective directional change is possible out side of extreme circumstances is suspect esp once the worst excesses have been trimmed. Certainly you see redistributions happening but its wrong to make the simple assumption that they result in some clear collective trend.

Heck in your work on rail I'd think you would recognize this. Every move to rail should be applauded its a great effort however I think you would agree that the "collective" has not even begun to make and obvious shift in this direction. Now I can't imagine rail not becoming a substantial part of our transport in the future most probably electric rail. However I could not tell you when this will happen or what the world will be like when it does.
That does not mean you don't try and get the collective to change direction you do simply that the fact its fairly obvious it has to become a bigger part of or transport network and its a choice we will eventually have to make does nothing to ensure it happens in a timely manner. Far more likely we will wait until the transition itself is a lot more painful than it needs to be.

My point is the moment you start dealing with situations that require the collective to make some sort of move in aggregate the most likely outcome is nothing happens. Regardless of the underlying situation this should be the primary solution you assume then make the case for some sort of obvious trend. Assuming staycations and lower aggregate oil usage up front is wrong. Now I doubt that overall usage goes up as oil prices rise but determining the difference between a flat solution and a clear downward trend is far from trivial.

Now just to finish the real mistake is in not recognizing that the system has become complex with no easy solution. The trivial destruction of extreme demand tends to lull one into believing its a simple problem its not.

Now I did find a few stats on prepaid plans vs post paid not a lot out there and I question the bias of these studies.




In any case if you identify prepaid vs post paid with the concept of taking and expensive flight or some number of local vacations then you can see that the result is interesting and not clear esp assuming the above surveys are likely tainted to "force" a conclusion. I suspect my flat answer is probably correct if you varied the constraints of the survey a bit.

Interesting analogy. So to continue the theme, if we are increasing the total number of phones then the overall number of minutes used can still rise even if every user reduces their usage.

Maybe an alternative approach would be to look at the growth of different types of carrier as a means of grouping the passengers. In Europe, the low-cost airlines have been the stronger sector, with the expensive "business class" hit hardest. It seems to be a trend of economising by paying for a cheaper service rather than by doing without. Given the recent orders for new aircraft for companies like Ryanair, I don't see much hope for reduced Avgas usage in Europe in the near future.

I quite like the air travel stats as it helps block out the "EV" angle used when discussing car mileage/usage. Think of the losses in a 7 mile extension cord!

So to continue the theme, if we are increasing the total number of phones then the overall number of minutes used can still rise even if every user reduces their usage.

Exactly it starts getting complicated :)

Then you add the externalities of low cost "cattle car" carriers the fuel usage is close to the same between them and the higher cost carriers etc.

It should be obvious that your getting into what I call infrastructure which could be called what we build and why.
Its not just roads and planes but also the social system that uses and demands such infrastructure aka its our society for better or worse. I'm not convinced we are going to abandon it quickly simply because of rising energy costs. We have way to much embedded in it. Indeed we are a car/plane culture. I just spent and hour reading about vikings who had a profound influence on Europe. Their long boats can easily be viewed as that era's car/plane and the technology had a huge cultural impact not only on the vikings but also on everyone that came in contact with them. Often painfully :)

Modern minutes, air miles, cars etc all represent monetization of convenience surprisingly close to the Vikings monetization of the long boat :)

Indeed before that I was reading about calcium carbide and its role in the chemical revolution for chemistry it was the critical discovery more important in the long run than steel, modern steels are derived from the calcium carbide industry most people don't know that. I did not till now myself.

Being a doomer dude I'm a food clothing shelter sort of guy. However I'm trying to understand this concept of monetization of convience and am realizing just how important it is to our society. From the underlying chemical revolution up through the resulting advances in transportation it was convenience which drove things.
I did make and interesting side foray into gold beaters skin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goldbeater%27s_skin
Obviously researching alternatives :) Its use in airships is fascinating.
Sorry for the seemingly random concepts but I don't know who to really explain the concept except it seems clear to me when situations start clashing with our monetization of convenience which is the real heart of society.

Energy plays a supporting role to this thus when energy costs start to impact what is in my opinion the keystone of our society I'm simply saying simplistic assumptions about the actual outcome are not correct.

Perhaps the best way to put it is I want my MTV :)

I'll also add its and amazingly shallow society. Makes me wonder how much will survive 100 years. I suspect the basic scientific advances are here for good and I'm sure even if we lose a lot of medical knowledge it can be recreated but outside of that what we actually have to offer a future society not based on convenience esp if it has a small population is surprisingly small. A modern Noah setting out to rescue what matters in our society probably only needs a suitcase of dvd's and a reader for them. The basic knowledge base can be re purposed and extracted but the way we use it indeed most of the stuff we make seems to have no real use.

Yet this complex interlocked sets of basically senseless activity that we peruse for convenience seems to represent a real problem for us if oil becomes a real problem again. Recognizing that conservation is theoretically easy really misses the key point that convenience is the fundamental basis of our incredibly stupid society.

Your rant on an incredibly stupid society is particularly ironic because you have to realize that you constantly spout gibberish. You aren't doing us any favors or raising our IQ by continuing to write these inanities.

I think that your observations fit into Nate's observations about our brain biochemistry (we get addicted to quick rewards) with your observation that we are "addicted" to convenience.

Yes, there are some fundamental differences in the way technology is allowing our modern society to evolve. Not good trends.


I get two major points of yours, and I agree with them.

One is that the first oil savings are the easy oil savings.

The other is that society (the collective") will not do something just because it is completely obvious and logical that they (we) SHOULD do something.

Best Hopes,


I don't have time today to really respond in detail, but I agree with your idea that demand (VMT) is not , again not, being reduced by weak economic conditions - and I don't think Mish is onto anything special that we have not covered here in much greater and better depth already (and he also doesn't really seem to understand why distillate demand has been relatively strong the last four months due to business restocking and dramatic increases in total imports).



According to data just released by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), U.S. drivers logged 270 billion VMT in July. The total is 2.3% higher compared to June 2010, and 0.8% higher than July 2009, the Department of Transportation agency said Monday.

July, one of the hottest on record in many regions, featured some of the year's strongest gasoline demand. Analysts of both publicly available and private weekly reports ventured that vacations and weekend getaways to recreation spots likely helped demand hit the 9.4-9.6 million b/d levels last seen consistently in summer 2007. Demand has since fallen back to about 9 million b/d. The U.S. average price of retail gasoline during July was steady to lower compared to June at about $2.70/gal.



Vehicle miles driven remain stubbornly inflexible in the face of massive job cuts resulting in millions of lost jobs over the last year, plus a non-existent new housing industry not giving us any demand. If VMT aren't dropping now when millions more are out of work than one year ago, then it's time to face the fact that something much more dramatic is going to have to happen to get gasoline and diesel consumption to drop - such as a price shock, price controls, shortages, etc.

If we get a real recovery with some job growth, the oil supply/demand situation is going to tighten so fast that almost all energy analysts, and others like Mish, will never see it coming.

If we get a real recovery with some job growth, the oil supply/demand situation is going to tighten so fast that almost all energy analysts, and others like Mish, will never see it coming.

Here is the kicker we don't need one to cause problems !
I think one of the reasons oil prices have been low to volatile is the market believes this is true.

Obviously I have my doubts about the oil market and the stock market for that matter but markets can only be manipulated if the are going in a given direction anyway. They can be pushed not shoved. Regardless of how irrational the market behavior is. If the market sentiment is against the push it fails fast nothing can stop it.
In short markets work eventually or they get so rigged the participants simply leave :)

This sentiment is in my opinion critical for the market action for almost two years now. However if demand is inelastic then its practically a pure supply side issue if supply is really falling. You don't need any sort of recovery. The current inelasticity is certain to cause problems even if we just move sideways or even shrink some.
Only another serious collapse could change the situation.

And you don't need my crazy theories export land and strengthening demand for Asia is sufficient the move the market regardless of what happens in the US. Even if Asian demand esp Chinese is not changing as much as claimed they are still getting steadily wealthier and demand is becoming increasingly inelastic in china. Simply put many more Chinese and Indians can compete for the remaining oil supplies on a simple balance of trade analysis.

This is not something I think the market has really grasped eventually it will as it will be forced.

Which bring up another thing I watch regularly not as much as I should but its the relative differences between WTI and other spot prices. WTI has been the cornerstone keeping the market down for a long time now if you look at price moves. Other grades have consistently sold at abnormal premiums. Eventually of course WTI will have no choice but to follow if the spot market diverges too far. And thats the neat thing about oil way to much is sold outside of the exchanges for it to be controlled for long either via incorrect market sentiment or other means.

But that goes back to the shortage situation if the price is being forced then it will work until shortages develop then it fails fast. As long as the major players get the oil its all good. Until they don't.

Thus US demand need not "recover" at all for us to enter a new price crises other factors are at play that will take us there eventually. Export land alone is certain too. Dunno exactly what WT models are over the short scale but obviously a 1-2mbd shortfall would seriously tighten the markets and from memory I think that takes 2-3 years with exportland. So even whats happening now fails in say 2011-2012 with some very reasonable assumptions.

And last but not least kicking the can down the road does actually work for a while its a horrid strategy given its cost but it does allow banks to recapitalized new wealth is created every day day in and day out. Loan payments made etc etc. The problem is of course its cost not that it does not technically work. So the economy might not improve aka growth wise but a steady state economy on a financial level still generates real incremental wealth gains just a lot slower than we are used too. My point is "robustness" increases over time even if growth is flat. In the case of our economy kick the can down the road or not debts are being written off every month home prices fall etc and a slowed but steady return to normalcy happens no matter what the Gov does. This of course increases the inelasticity of demand even if increases are very small. On real and substantial increases in oil production can stop us from hitting the wall within months or a few years depending on your model. Or of course another crash.

Now of course the markets not worried about this because it thinks any issues are years out and still post recovery so its simply not going to price such a scenario in until its obvious but when it does ...

Attempted translation: All sorts of discussion on if something happens then it will, and if it doesn't then it won't.
Every sentence is encoded with its own negation or some sort of tautology. Other than that, I don't understand any of these ramblings.

I venture to guess that Memmel despises his audience because he is too lazy to do any sentence crafting and actually help his readers understand anything he writes. I really don't understand this attitude, as I have too much respect for the readers on TOD, the majority of whom are actually interested in understanding how the world works. And if I sound patronizing, its partly because I am selfish as well and I want to see intelligent stuff written in the comments.

I'm glad you're the one to decide to go out on this limb!

I will back up WHT, at least to some extent.
In the past I have said I refuse to read memmel's posts because they hurt too much to read. I, for one, cannot abide trying to wade through writing that is not properly capitalized and punctuated, still less ungrammatical.
He may or may not have something worthwhile to say, but while such elements of writing are so totally ignored, I should say very few people who went through a conventional English schooling can be expected to withstand it.
I have refused to read memmel's posts all along because of this.
WHT says memmel's posts are also illogical. I would not be surprised if this were true. I have had just such a sneaking suspicion all along, but have not bothered to attempt to verify it, for the reasons stated.

Eh, I make it simpler than that.
If it is the length of a keypost and down in the comments, I give it 2 sentences.

If I'm not hooked I *might* scan the rest, but probably not.

This means I normally skip most of what Memmel has to say, since he rarely makes the effort to edit his thoughts down to a length I can deal with during the day.

I just don't tend to have the contiguous blocks of time to focus on long comments.

Apologies if this is already posted, but the lead headline on the Daily Telegraph [UK] is trying to tell us something:



Mr Huhne said: “Since there is no money left, my department is pioneering new ways of turning this Government into the greenest ever.”

British homes were responsible for a quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions, because they leak heat like a sieve.

He said: “We use more energy to heat our homes than Sweden, where it's seven degrees colder in January. We might as well be standing outside burning £50 notes.”

I have no idea how they plan to ramp up the nuke fleet without public subsidy. EDF stated they have plans for 4 new reactors in the UK if the investment framework is there. I.E. Subsidise us or we wont build your plants. Unless there's a "hidden" incentive for EDF, it's a non starter. I'm sure our government wouldn't stoop to such a deal. . . . Oh, sorry, that must be some other government I was thinking of.

Banco de Santander, Spain, in talks to buy M&T, Buffalo and join it with their Sovereign, to make the 9th bank in the USA.
M&T Bank Is Said to Weigh Giving Up Majority Stake to Santander
Last week Santander bought BZ, in Poland.
Unemployment in Spain at 20,3% and growing.

President Zapatero, aka ZP, has proposed a small tax on financial transations to fight world hunger. The head of the Spanish banking association spoke against it, and called ZP a loony.

Interesting development with 2010 Arctic ice minimum: At the following link http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/ there is an article (sroll down) that explains the 2010 minimum having concluded, ending up the 3rd lowest minimum behind 2008 (2nd) and 2007 (1st). Then they add a caveat that it is possible more melt could occur. Well, call in the caveat because that's exactly what happened.

If you look at the graphic, you'll notice there is a pigs tail near the bottom of the 2010 melt, then it starts dropping again. The drop occurred after the article was posted. It now appears 2010 will be ranked 2nd ahead of 2008 and has a remote chance of still surpassing 2007.

I'll post later when the final rankings are actually complete.

NBC is reporting that Larry Summers is out. No word on whether he jumped, or was pushed.

That leaves Geithner as the last man standing.

Says that he must return to Harvard to retain his tenure.
Sounds to me like newspeak for "I wast to spend more time with my faculty/family".

API Reports:

Crude-oil inventories rose 2.2 million barrels for the week ended Sept. 17
Gasoline reserves rose 2.4 million barrels
Stocks of distillates rose 2.5 million barrels

Even with the Enbridge Pipeline closed for a week we still ramped up inventory!

Amazing isn't indeed I'd say unbelievable :)

Re: About Hirsch sounding the alarm, and to refer to a reply (I only just now responded to) from Alan in the Islands from three days ago:

Impending Oil Crisis Will Overshadow Global Climate Change

I'm curious what Hirsch might think about the National Academy of Sciences doing an immediate scientific investigation, including impacts and - the critical topic: policy options.


I'd like to stay with protocol, and I just now posted a reply to Alan (Islands)


While EIA is a federal agency, which presumably constitutes a constant conformity on what can and cannot be said - (and done!) - the NAS is not a federal agency. It has a different protocol, and a process for submissions from external sources, such as TOD, ASPO, etc.

http://www.eia.doe.gov/, http://www.nationalacademies.org/

US EPA submits rule for higher-ethanol fuel labels:


"No decision has been made on whether to approve E15," an EPA spokesperson said.

Still, Growth Energy, the coalition of ethanol producers that filed the E15 petition with the EPA, questioned why the agency would propose new pump labels if it was not going to allow higher ethanol blends.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) cell manufacturers produced a record 10,700 megawatts of PV cells globally in 2009—an impressive 51-percent increase from the year before.


....and something else to look forward to:


U.S. Nuclear Weapons Have Been Compromised by Unidentified Aerial Objects

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Witness testimony from more than 120 former or retired military personnel points to an ongoing and alarming intervention by unidentified aerial objects at nuclear weapons sites, as recently as 2003. In some cases, several nuclear missiles simultaneously and inexplicably malfunctioned while a disc-shaped object silently hovered nearby. Six former U.S. Air Force officers and one former enlisted man will break their silence about these events at the National Press Club and urge the government to publicly confirm their reality.......

....WHAT: Noted researcher Robert Hastings, author of UFOs and Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites, will moderate a distinguished panel of former U.S. Air Force officers involved in UFO incidents at nuclear missile sites near Malmstrom, F.E. Warren, and Walker AFBs, as well as the nuclear weapons depot at RAF Bentwaters.

WHEN: Monday, September 27, 2010

12:30 p.m.

WHERE: National Press Club

Holeman Lounge

Event open to credentialed media and Congressional staff only

SOURCE Former U.S. Air Force Officer Robert Salas, and Researcher Robert Hastings

Wow! No wonder the Govt. isn't talking about Peak Oil ;-)

Oh dear...UFOs vs. the nuclear weapons complex...

This belongs in the National Enquirer or some other grocery store tabloid...right next to the Elvis sightings and alien impregnations and the Nostrodamus BS.

This 'story' isn't even wrong...

I look forward to hearing the National Press Club talk.

I do not look forward to the 'because we have documents and comments by "official" people claiming the world needs a united threat - and aliens will provide it - therefore ....' discussions.

I'm not sure why, if you have the power to fling starships about, you are strutting about nuke sites making beep-beep noises.

I'd like to hear the NPC Talk as well, not as either a "True Believer" nor as a "Reflexive Skeptic". I stay in the area between the extremes wherein the "true believer" tends to believe anything they hear, and the "reflexive skeptic", which is an even more curious beast IMHO, because even in the 5% of cases that cannot be explained in conventional terms, the first thing out of them amounts to "no, that can't be", as if to even admit the possibility would destroy their worldview.

As to "threat" given the timescales involved, if we have had "visitors" and didn't want us around, they'd have a whole lot of time to have already done so. As to "savings us from ourselves" doubtful.

As for observing our nuclear capabilities, consider that an advanced civilization (particularly one that has avoided shredding itself and has been around for a very long time), might have seen many "young upstarts" come and go. I'd say that even if not "here" sporadically for a few thousand years or more, that atomic weapons detonation "signatures" would certainly let anyone so inclined know where we were technically, and when to come back to see if we are smart enough to survive very long afterward...

There's a bit of a Catch-22 here in that if we were to be told unequivocally that "we weren't alone" I don't think the "majority" would take it very well. Particularly the overly religious...

OTOH, a really good dose of humility (in the long run), may be the only thing that does "save us".
Perhaps their Historians have a "folder" on us, but it seems to us Doomers that anyone watching may be ready to close it and file it under "evolutionary dead-end".

I don't think the "majority" would take it very well. Particularly the overly religious...

Did ya catch the bit about one of the members of the Vatican said he'd baptise an alien?

The overly religious don't like other religions - I'm not that worried about them accepting Aliens...I'm more worried about them accepting their fellow man 1st.

They may be able to rationalize Aliens, although anyone who has studied us for any length of time would avoid close contact like the plague. The trouble basically for Fundys (and admittedly most others), is that they still think the world around them IS the Universe. Anyone who tells them differently is in danger of their lives. See the many historical precedents for that one...

"As to "threat" given the timescales involved, if we have had "visitors" and didn't want us around, they'd have a whole lot of time to have already done so. As to "savings us from ourselves" doubtful."

No worries. There's that 'Prime Directive' thing:

The Prime Directive dictates that there can be no interference with the internal development of pre-warp civilizations, consistent with the historical real world concept of Westphalian sovereignty. It has special implications, however, for civilizations that have not yet developed the technology for interstellar spaceflight ("pre-warp"), since no primitive culture can be given or exposed to any information regarding advanced technology or the existence of extraplanetary civilizations, lest this exposure alter the natural development of the civilization.

It's good to know that we are free to destroy ourselves :-/

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Have Been Compromised by Unidentified Aerial Objects

Sounds like the aliens might know us better than we know ourselves, making sure we don't irradiate all life on Earth due to our comiseration over our loss of McHummer's, McMansions and McNuggets in the impending oil supply crunch.

On a more serious note, here is a link to an article this morning on housing that is very alarming.


'The Recession and the Housing Drag'

...foreclosure has not been enforced on a quarter of the people who haven't made a single mortgage payment in the last two years.

A staggering eight million home loans are in some state of delinquency, default or foreclosure, Alan Abelson reported in Barron's in July.

A well-balanced housing market has a supply of about five to six months. These days the inventory backlog has surged to about a 12½ months' supply.

Every further 1% decline in home prices today lowers household wealth by approximately $170 billion, according to Goldman Sachs.

There is no painless, quick fix for this catastrophe.

Not so certain about the Govt's backdated to 06/09 proclamation the recession is over.