Drumbeat: September 24, 2010

The economy can’t grow forever

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Those of us who believe that the economy should serve us instead of the other way around are conflicted.

We know that the only way to end unemployment at home and poverty around the world is to make the economy grow faster. But we also know that nothing can grow forever, that the faster the global economy grows, the sooner we’ll run out of essential resources, including fossil fuels, water, arable land, healthy ecosystems and moderate climate.

Economists and politicians can’t admit it, but the laws of physics apply, no matter what the latest polls tell us. The Earth has finite resources that will someday limit our economic growth.

The Earth cannot forever support 7 billion people consuming as much as Americans consume. And yet we’ve staked our future — individually, nationally, and maybe even as a species — on that impossible dream.

No gas pump surprises this fall: Prices should be steady barring hurricane in Gulf of Mexico

Fall likely will hold few surprises for drivers when they fill the tanks on their mini-vans, sedans and trucks.

The national average for unleaded regular gasoline was $2.71 a gallon on Friday, which is about 3 cents lower than a week ago, based on a survey by AAA, Wright Express and the Oil Price Information Service. It's about 17.6 cents higher than a year ago.

UK 'well prepared' for major oil spill

Far from the steamy waters of the Gulf of Mexico, a practice session is under way to prepare for what the oil industry must dread most: a repeat of the massive spill on the scale of the BP disaster off Louisiana.

Desire cashes up for Falklands shoot

UK explorer Desire Petroleum, one of the British companies hunting for oil in the Falkland Islands, raised 22.8 million pounds ($35.7 million) in a share placing to speed up data surveys as it seeks to emulate rival Rockhopper's discovery in the basin.

U.S. cities tout conservation, but many don't take action

Two-thirds of U.S. cities and counties consider the environment and energy conservation a priority, but far fewer have taken steps to address those issues, a new survey reveals.

Air pollution stands in way of Hong Kong growth

HONG KONG — Hong Kong has long appealed to foreign companies as a gateway to the booming China market. But business leaders are warning that severe air pollution is hurting the city's competitiveness and its desirability as a place to live.

Test drive: Lincoln MKZ takes hybrid to cushy new heights

OK. No messing around. Right to the point: The 2011 Lincoln MKZ hybrid is a terrific car.

No, it isn't a jewel of this or paragon of that. It's a really well-tailored, extraordinarily competent sedan. Its generally frisky personality and agile handling make it seem like a car you'll appreciate long after the loan is paid off.

Rising Energy Demand Hits Water Scarcity 'Choke Point'

WASHINGTON (IPS) - Meeting the growing demand for energy in the U.S., even through sustainable means, could entail greater threats to the environment, new research shows.

The study was carried out by Circle of Blue, a network of journalists and scientists dedicated to water sustainability, and could have implications not just for the relationship between energy demand and water scarcity in the U.S. but elsewhere in the world, as well. "It is not just that energy production could not occur without using vast amounts of water. It's also that it's occurring in the era of climate change, population growth and steadily increasing demand for energy," explained Circle of Blue's Keith Schneider, who presented the findings in Washington Wednesday.

"The result is that the competition for water at every stage of the mining, processing, production, shipping and use of energy is growing more fierce, more complex and much more difficult to resolve," he said. About half the 410 billion gallons of water the U.S. withdraws daily goes to cooling thermoelectric power plants, and most of that to cooling coal-burning plants, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Meanwhile, climate change is leading to decreased snowmelt, rains and freshwater supplies, says Circle of Blue.

Will Poland Run Out of Russian Gas?

Poland is about to soon use up the Russian gas available under its current contract with Gazprom and will stop getting gas from Russia right when the weather is about to get really cold, in mid-October, according to both the Polish government and the European Commission. For more than a year, its negotiations with Russia of a new agreement for higher deliveries have been a major headache.

Poland has been undersupplied with Russian gas since the early 2009, when RosUkrEnergo — a mysterious Swiss-registered 50-50 venture between Gazprom and Ukrainian businessmen — was squeezed out from the Ukrainian market.

Angola Oil Minister: Output 1.9 Million B/D, Above OPEC Quota -Agency

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Angola is still producing 1.9 million barrels a day of oil, state media quoted the country's oil minister as saying Friday, well in excess of its quota with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

News agency Angola Press quoted Jose Botelho de Vasconcelos as saying: "Angola, with a production of one million, nine hundred thousand barrels of oil a day, is the second largest producer in the Gulf of Guinea."

Hess, PetroChina Sign Accord to Explore `Tighter Oil Formations' in China

Hess Corp., the fifth-biggest U.S. oil company, will explore for crude in China in cooperation with that nation’s largest oil company, PetroChina Co.

Hess and PetroChina will work with dense rock in the Daqing oil field, a formation that’s similar to the Bakken basin in North Dakota, where Hess is already exploring, Jay Wilson, a Hess spokesman, said by telephone today.

T. Boone Pickens to natural gas drillers: stand down until prices rebound

CALGARY - Texas oilpatch veteran T. Boone Pickens has some advice for natural gas drillers: put the rigs away and wait for dismal prices to pass.

"I'd kill the drilling, let the supply go down and then get a better price for the gas," he told a Calgary business audience Wednesday.

BHP seals $1.5bn gas deal to help supply WA market

BHP Billiton has approved its $US1.5 billion ($A1.57 billion) Macedon gas joint venture with Apache Corporation in offshore Western Australia to supply the hungry domestic gas market.

BHP, which owns 71.43 per cent of the resource, has received West Australian environmental approval for the project, which will now start drilling four production wells to commercialise the 200 million cubic feet a day of gas, equivalent to about a quarter of the state's domestic gas production.

Southcentral Alaska residents warn of potential shortage of natural gas

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Southcentral Alaska utilities and local governments are asking residents to prepare for a possible natural gas shortage this winter.

Emergency officials are asking users to voluntarily turn down the heat between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Oct. 20.

And petrol makes a welcome comeback

LAHORE: After over a week of crippling petrol shortage, most petrol pumps were back in business on Thursday. Happy days for black marketeers, who made off with an estimated Rs150 million from desperate consumers, are behind them for now.

Black marketeers have been busy pointing fingers at one another for the high prices while consumers complained about the poor quality of fuel.

Bangladesh to install 12 more liquid and coal fired power plants in private sector

Dr Tawfiq e Elahi Chowdhury adviser to the prime minister said the government has decided to install 12 more liquid and coal fired power plants to meet the country's growing demand for electricity.

Deal struck to end high fuel costs

NAIROBI, Kenya - KenolKobil will now be able to refine its oil at the Kenya Petroleum Refineries Limited (KPRL) in Mombasa following an amicable agreement with the government.

Energy Permanent Secretary Patrick Nyoike said on Thursday that this would address the fuel shortage currently being experienced in the country as a result of the dispute between KenolKobil and KPRL over the latter's decision to cancel the oil marketer's processing agreement.

Report: Queen made bid for poverty grant

LONDON — Critics slammed Britain's Queen Elizabeth II after a report revealed that a senior aide asked the government if the monarch would be eligible for an anti-poverty grant to heat her palaces, Sky News reported on Friday.

"It's appalling, it's the most crass thing I have ever heard in my life," Sky quoted Graham Smith, a spokesman for Republic, a campaign group calling for the monarchy to be scrapped, as saying. "The anti-poverty grant is meant to go to needy people — and the idea that the palace can take money from the poor to bankroll the rich is disgusting."

Denninger: Even A Blind Squirrel Finds A Nut (Reich)

We should have gasoline at about a buck a gallon along with other energy prices half what they were in 2007 at this point. Why? Because demand has collapsed. If that had happened it would have helped everyone in the lower and middle classes, since energy goes into every stage of food production, and thus the two major things everyone must buy - food and energy - would have come down in price. Those are a much larger proportion of the lower and working class people's budget than they are the rich.

But instead they got squeezed - all so the banksters could maintain their illusion of "value" in their so-called "assets", and now we have an intentional policy of trying to maintain the imbalances that led us to this mess - too much credit, too much debt - in the first place. Energy and food prices have gone to the moon, even though the economy is in the dump.

Hungary Opens New ‘Green’ Filling Stations

Hungary’s network of outlets selling energy viewed as ecologically friendly expanded this week to include two new stations.

In Budapest, regional electricity utilities Elmu Zrt. and Emasz Zrt., both majority-owned by Germany’s RWE AG, opened Hungary’s first charging station for electric vehicles, state news agency MTI reported. Retail consumers may use the station free of charge until Sept. 30, 2011, the companies said. RWE, with the help of a local partner, launched a similar outlet in Warsaw last year.

4 ways to cut winter energy bills

These four home products can let you burn less cash when temperatures crash.

Book review: Peak of the Devil

Haynes succinctly states a couple of peak oil points that I’ve been struggling to articulate for a long time: the best place to be when oil supplies get tight is where you are living right now, and to look to the past for clues of what to expect in the future. Peak oil “will not be, as some have predicted, a return to the Dark Ages,” he writes, suggesting we should work with our neighbours rather than think about moving to the countryside or even attempting to live, survivalist-style, in the woods – albeit with hints about those out in the ‘burbs being advised to move closer to town. So it’s a case of make friends and prepare for a life of low energy and hard physical work. Haynes observes that probably the safest assumptions we can make about a future of diminishing oil availability come from looking back to the past. As he calls it: “. . . the end of the 21st century is going to look a lot like the end of the 19th, but with better healthcare and stronger child labor laws, if we are lucky.”

Cooperation Law for a Sharing Economy

What do you call a lawyer who helps people share, cooperate, barter, foster local economies, and build sustainable communities?

That sounds like the beginning of a lawyer joke, but actually, it’s the beginning of new field of law practice. Very soon, every community will need a specialist in this yet-to-be-named area: Community transactional law? Sustainable economies law? Cooperation law?

In Close Proximity: To conserve, consume less

At base, conservation means consuming less -- and even, as in Theodore Roosevelt's creation of national parks, not producing anything (save recreation) to consume at all.

However, the idea of corporate capitalism is limitless capital accumulation driven by limitless consumerism. Thus, in corporate context, conservation and consumerism are antithetical.

Mining’s Final Frontier

A new generation of prospectors is eager to explore the ocean floor. Will deep-sea digging damage one of the earth’s most valuable ecosystems?

GRFA to UN FAO: Reveal True Impact of Oil Prices on Food Security

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire) - As the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN prepares to hold an Extraordinary Meeting of the Intergovernmental Group on Grains and Rice, the GRFA is challenging the UN to reveal the true impact that crude oil prices have on food pricing and recognize that our heavy reliance on crude imports is one of the leading causes of food inflation and price spikes.

"The FAO has recognized a variety of drivers behind food price spikes, such as drought, energy prices and trade restrictions; however, the impact of crude oil prices on food inflation cuts across all national boundaries and has a disproportionate impact on food prices," said GRFA spokesperson, Bliss Baker.

"As long as we are dependant on crude oil for our primary source of energy, we will continue to see food prices climb as crude oil prices climb," added Mr. Baker.

Oil hovers above $75 amid mixed US economic data

Oil prices hovered above $75 a barrel Friday as an unexpected rise in German business confidence helped to shore up sentiment amid ongoing concerns about the pace of the U.S. economic recovery.

West Texas Crude Losing Status as Global Benchmark for Oil

The shutdown of a U.S. oil pipeline that caused prices to fluctuate twice as much as in Europe is adding to concern that the benchmark contract for crude is failing to reflect supply and demand for energy.

Nigeria's Bonny crude exports to hit 2-year high

LONDON (Reuters) - Repairs to sabotaged oil facilities in the Niger Delta will help to push exports of Nigeria's benchmark crude oil to the highest since early-2008, trade sources said on Friday.

According to preliminary loading programmes, Bonny Light output will average 285,000 barrels per day (bpd) in November, up from 245,000 bpd planned in October.

Tropical Storm Matthew May Become Hurricane in Caribbean, Strike Honduras

Tropical Storm Matthew may near hurricane strength later today before hitting the Nicaragua- Honduras border along its Caribbean coast and continuing on a course toward Belize and Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.

US senator blocks Obama nominee over drilling ban

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A Democratic senator from Louisiana blocked US President Barack Obama's pick for budget director to pressure for an end to a ban on offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Senator Mary Landrieu said Jacob Lew, whose nomination got 22-1 support Thursday from the Senate Budget Committee, "lacked sufficient concern for the host of economic challenges confronting the Gulf Coast."

European countries reject Atlantic oil drilling ban proposal

OSLO (AFP) – Countries bordering the north-east Atlantic rejected a ban proposal on deep-sea offshore drilling destined to avoid an environmental disaster comparable to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Norway said Friday.

The ban was proposed by Germany at a meeting in the western Norwegian city of Bergen of the OSPAR commission, a body through which the 15 countries with western coasts and catchments of Europe, together with the European Union, cooperate to protect the environment of the North-East Atlantic.

Norway's DNV sees Singapore as first Southeast Asia LNG bunker terminal

Singapore (Platts)- Norway-headquartered risk manager Det Norske Veritas, or DNV, has assessed the feasibility of implementing LNG infrastructure in Southeast Asia for LNG bunkering of ships, with Singapore poised to be the first LNG terminal in the region to provide such a service, Remi Eriksen, the company's CEO for Asia and the Middle East said late Thursday.

Iraq's Crude Exports via Turkey `Suddenly Drop' 20% After Technical Fault

Iraq’s crude oil exports through Turkey “suddenly” dropped by about 20 percent due to a technical fault on the Iraqi side of the border, according to an official for the state-run North Oil Co.

“The flow suddenly dropped from the usual level of 600,000 barrels a day to between 400,000 and 450,000 barrels a day” yesterday, Imad Baqer, head of the company’s production department, said today by telephone from Baghdad.

Medvedev Seeks to Diversify China Trade as Energy Exports Rise

President Dmitry Medvedev travels to China next week in a bid to diversify trade even as Russia plans to boost oil and gas exports to its Asian neighbor.

Medvedev, who took his first presidential trip outside the former Soviet Union to China in 2008, is returning for a three- day visit on Sept. 26 to push his agenda of Russia’s modernization away from a “primitive” resource-based economy.

Poland Says Closer To Russian Gas Deal, Final Talks In Oct

WARSAW -(Dow Jones)- Poland and Russia have moved "significantly closer" to reaching a revised long-term agreement for natural gas deliveries to Poland, with final talks expected in early October, Poland's Economy Ministry said in a statement Friday.

Former BP Commodities Trader Quek Says Company Had an `Atmosphere of Fear'

BP Plc’s former head of commodities trading Quek Chin Thean, who is accused by the oil company of misusing confidential information and helping a rival, told a Singapore court he backed up the data because there was an “atmosphere of fear” at the firm.

BP had been “conducting oppressive and disproportionate investigative proceedings against its employees and ex- employees,” Quek, 41, said in papers filed in the Singapore High Court on Sept. 22. “It was this general atmosphere of fear in the BP Group that prompted me to back up my working e-mails and documents as a precaution.”

Japan to release Chinese boat captain amid dispute

TOKYO – Japanese prosecutors decided Friday to release a Chinese fishing boat captain involved in a collision near disputed islands, following intense pressure from China in the worst spat between the Asian neighbors in years.

The move will likely ease the escalating tensions sparked when Japan arrested the captain earlier this month after his trawler collided with two Japanese patrol boats near islands in the East China Sea claimed by both countries.

Analysis: Experts urge nimbler global response to crises

(Reuters) - Unidentified attackers detonate a "dirty" bomb in the Strait of Hormuz, in minutes disrupting global trade and shipping and devastating financial markets.

A German trawler collides with a Chinese warship in the newly-opened Arctic. Devastating floods hit a weapons bunker in nuclear-armed Pakistan, raising fears for atomic security.

Would the world's Cold War-era security institutions be up to managing any one of these crises, in which systemic problems like climate change worsen traditional security flashpoints?

SA is nearing peak coal, say scientists

South Africa has more coal than it can ever burn, right? If you think this, as many of us do, think again.

Research by international and local scientists has shown that coal, like other resources, is finite and can be expected to comply with peak resources theory. The theory shows that production in commodities such as oil grows until a peak is reached, whereafter production declines.

In the case of South African coal, the studies show production has already reached its peak, or soon will.

Can the world live with the pace of economic growth? Time to find out

It used to be the biggest question, but now it seems to be the forgotten question of the environment movement: can economic growth continue indefinitely? And this weekend it's going to be brought back into the spotlight at a major international gathering co-sponsored by The Independent.

Clean-energy miracles: Myth or viable strategy?

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--As people consider the best path to a sustainable energy future, two polar ends of a debate are emerging between those who argue for technology research and those who advocate more aggressive use of existing technology.

Oil Dependence and Cuba

I believe that the oil shock will mean the undoing of capitalism, which depends so much on production perpetually increasing. However I worry about the survival of “State socialism” and other forms of authoritarianism; history has demonstrated that such systems are not necessarily dependent on petroleum.

An Interview with Edward Guinness on Solar-Powered “10-Baggers”

I think we are quite weak “peak oil” believers; while the reserves are finite, we don’t think we’ve peaked yet. We’re consuming 86 million barrels a day today; we think that in the next 15 years consumption is going to go to 100 million barrels a day. We think that demand will be met, albeit at higher prices. Actually, our view on demand is that it’s going to be even stronger than that based on the strength of Asian demand.

The reason to be enthusiastic about alternative energy is because of the rising costs for fossil fuels, rather than the idea that next Thursday we’re suddenly going to run out. The flipside for the alternative energy industry is that you have technologies that are still falling in costs.

Aid Sought for Nuclear Plants

The federal loan guarantee program and other aid for new nuclear plants may not be enough to induce Constellation Energy to build a third reactor at its Calvert Cliffs site, 40 miles south of Washington, the company’s president and chief executive said on Thursday.

Lawmaker questions Kuwait's nuclear energy plans

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – A Kuwaiti lawmaker on Thursday questioned plans by the oil-rich Gulf emirate to build a number of nuclear reactors for power generation and demanded information about the expected costs.

Plants Near Chernobyl Appear to Grow a Shield

In April 1986, a nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine exploded and sent radioactive particles flying through the air, infiltrating the surrounding soil. Despite the colossal disaster, some plants in the area seem to have adapted well, flourishing in the contaminated soil.

Forget palm oil and soya, microalgae is the next big biofuel source

Microalgae could help turn the tide on climate change by providing clean, green energy for everything from light bulbs to planes, argues Matthew Aylott. But does the UK have enough space, sunshine - or indeed the stomach - to grow them?

When a Drug Battle Spells Extinction

More than 40 percent of Colombia's 84 distinct indigenous groups are now at risk of extinction because of forced drug-trade recruitment and the fumigation of coca that destroys other crops.

The Battle of the Bulbs

Three House Republicans, Joe Barton and Michael Burgess of Texas and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, have introduced the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act, which would repeal the section of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that sets minimum energy efficiency standards for light bulbs and would effectively phase out most ordinary incandescents.

Shipping growth threatens climate change targets - report

A new report, published by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, suggests ‘the global shipping industry’s carbon emissions could account for almost all of the worlds’ emissions by 2050 if current rates of growth continue.’

China seeks globally binding climate treaty late 2011: report

BEIJING - China wants the world to seal a binding climate change treaty by late 2011, a Chinese negotiator has told a newspaper, blaming US politics for impeding talks and making a deal on global warming impossible this year.

Two metre sea levels predicted by coastal geologist

An American coastal geologist describes rising sea levels is going to be the first major negative impact of global warming.

Described as America's most outspoken coastal geologist Professor Orrin Pilkey assumes sea levels will rise by 2 metres by 2100.

This is far beyond the predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change who claim levels will rise to half a metre.

The ‘Hockey Stick’ Lives

Two new studies bolstering the “hockey stick” hypothesis were published just recently. One that appeared this month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters analyzed seashell deposits on the North Atlantic seafloor and determined that 20th-century warming in the region “had no equivalent during the last thousand years.”

Another study, in The Journal of Geophysical Research, analyzed ice cores from glaciers in the eastern Bolivian Andes dating back to 400 A.D.

Norway May Boost Oil Production by 16 Billion Barrels

I think what they mean is that Norway may boost reserves by 16 billion barrels.

By reducing costs, improving technology and introducing regulatory changes, producers offshore Norway could increase recovery rates from existing oil and gas fields to 60 percent from today’s average of 46 percent, said the report issued today. That could add about 16 billion barrels of oil to be produced offshore Norway, in addition to today’s reserves and recoverable oil in discovered and undiscovered deposits.

That seems to be how everyone plans to increase production, or how they plan to keep production up for a longer period of time, just increase the recovery rate. But isn’t everyone trying to do that right now, and haven’t they been trying to do that for years?

ConocoPhillips has raised the recovery rate at Ekofisk to more than 50 percent from about 18 percent in 1971, spokesman Stig Kvendseth said in an interview earlier this year. The field produced about 178,000 barrels of oil day last year, down from a peak of almost 300,000 a day in 2002.

That statement just doesn’t make any sense. How did they know what the recovery rate was in 1971? They were just pumping oil from the field then and production would not peak for another 31 years.

This raises another question, how does anyone know what the recover rate of a given field really is? How do they know what percentage of the oil they are getting, or will eventually get? They know how much oil they are pumping but their original estimate of OOIP could be way off. If their estimate is too high then the recovery rate will be really low but if they estimate 3 billion barrels of OOIP and they recover 2 billion barrels they can say: “Our recovery rate is 67 percent”. It could be that their estimate of reserves was just way too low.

Ron P.

It could be that their estimate of reserves was just way too low.

Engineers hate to reduce recoverable reserve estimates for a given field and they tend to consistently underestimate recoverable reserves early in the life of the field, so that they can show a steady increase in proven reserves with time. But to be fair to the propeller heads, as they get more production data they can do a better job of estimating reserves.

In any case, the trend in Norwegian crude oil production seems pretty clear. Sam projects Norway approaching zero net oil exports in about 16 years.

Norwegian crude oil production (EIA):

Thanks WT, but I still don't know how they really know the percentage of OOIP they are recovering. Unless they know exactly how much oil is down there then they cannot know the percentage they recovered. What is 40 percent of an uncertain number?

But there is a sense of urgency in their efforts:

“This is work that needs to be done now,” Oil Minister Terje Riis-Johansen said today at a press conference in Oslo. “It will soon be too late. It is fully possible that significant resources on the Norwegian shelf will never be utilized if we don’t get control over costs.”

If it is not done right now then it will be too late. So unless you see that chart of yours turn north in the next couple of years then we can assume it is not going to happen. ;-) But that last sentence just blows me away. How is getting costs under control going to increase the percentage of oil recovered?

Ron P.

Fields are abandoned when operating costs exceed the revenue from production--although there may be some exceptions where operators are trying to postpone high plugging and abandonment costs for offshore platforms. In any case, if they can bring operating costs down, it would prolong the commercial life of most fields, which would marginally increase the recovery percentage.

Thanks WT, I never thought of that. I can now understand why the recovery rate is so high in some of those Texas fields. They turn the pumps on for a few hours a day and get two or three barrels. Then thy cut them off to let more oil seep toward the wellhead. And all it cost them is the fuel to run the pump.

But an offshore platform would be a different story. Offshore platforms must be be manned and supported, helicopters, supply ships and all that.

Hey, I have a great idea! Hire Mexican immigrants to man the platforms at about 5 bucks a day. That should allow them to increase the recovery rate 46 to about 60 percent. ;-)

Ron P.

And of course the huge overheads of operating a deep sea platform means that fields are developed fast, with all the secondary and even tertiary recovery methods brought in at the start. There is no fat tail production from a deep water well unless the tail is very fat. When costs exceed income the well is closed, usually for good.

Ron - there's another factor that doesn't seem to be highlighted in the report: time. I can show you dozens of major oil fields in the Texas Coastal plain that are above the 50% recovery rate today (and these fields did have a fairly accurate OOIP number). But due to early water coning these wells would do only around 30 bopd each. And took on average over 50 years to reach that 50%+ recovery. I can also point to some shallow oil fields in S Texas that will probably hit 90%+ recovery rates. In another 100 years or so. They're gravity drainage and do 1 -2 bopd. I knew a husband/wife operator that were doing 25 bopd for the previous 26 years from their portion of the field. Doesn't sound like much but they were netting over $600,000/yr when oil peaked back in '08. As long as they keep the little 2' tall pump jacks running they'll keep producing their 25 bopd.

WT could document enhanced recovery efforts in west Texas that greatly increased recovery rates. But it took decades to do so. Not surprising the Norwegians talk about increasing the recovery factor but not the production rates. And as most of us know PO is much more about rates than reserves. No good rule of thumb but it's not uncommon for that 50% to 60% jump in recovery to take as long to produce as the first 50% took. And sometimes longer.

So enhanced recovery will not increase production, it will just make the production tail much longer.

Ron P.

Rockman said that time was another factor. I don't think he ruled out technology that could actually increase total production as a percentage of oil in place. At least that is the way I read him. Of course, if enhanced recovery just moves production nearer to the present, then it seems we just steepen the fall off.

ts - True. There are many fields out there where existing tech could increase total ultimate production if the price of oil is right. But the URR might be bumped up 15% but daily production might only increase less than 5%. Not so much bringing production forward but extending the economic life of a field. That's a big part of the Norw. numbers: keeping offshore field rates high enough to offset the high fixed costs of operating in that environment. With one big exception (horizontal redevelopment) most enhanced recovery methods just don't increase rates that much.

Whether it's recovery rate or reserve estimates, oil companies have an incentive to overestimate the amount of oil recoverable to satisfy shareholders and to discourage alternative energy research and production.


In January 2004, news broke of a multibillion dollar scandal at the Royal Dutch Shell Group relating to its proven oil and gas reserves, the most important measure of an oil company’s stock market value. Shell’s reserves had been overstated by more than 20%. Four further downgrades followed, reducing Shell’s proven reserves by nearly a third.

But maybe all this talk of improved recovery rates is all true. Maybe they can keep the oil party going for several decades. Certainly, their arguments are very convincing to the layman and only the experts, some of which post on this site, can refute this contention. The planetary hangover, however, will be just that much worse once the party ends.

Behind a paywall, but viewable via Google...

Mexico's Proven Oil Reserves Confirmed At 13.99 Bln Barrels Equivalent

MEXICO CITY (Dow Jones)--Mexico's Energy Ministry said Thursday it has completed the certification and registration of Mexico's hydrocarbon reserves, confirming that proven reserves as of Jan. 1 this year were 13.99 billion barrels of crude oil equivalent, the same number given in March by state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex.

The ministry said in a statement the process used "a more robust and transparent methodology that confirms the stabilization of this inventory after a long period of sustained decline."

Somebody needs to take a lesson in significant figures. I'd be surprised if anybody would claim that estimation of any oil field is accurate to one percent, yet they express precision to four significant figures?

Why not? Look again at the number. 'Obviously' they used a retail pricing template. Oil, pennies, it's all the same, isn't it ... ?

Mexico is producing about .94 billion barrels per year. That puts Mexico's reserves to production ratio at just under 15. That is not good at all. However they say they are replacing 77 percent of oil produced every year. That means they are finding about 723 million barrels of new oil each year and they hope to increase that to just under a billion barrels of new oil found each year.

If they can do this then this means they can produce oil at current levels... forever! This is, of course, impossible. They might, if they get very lucky, do that for a few years but not very long.

But that is exactly what OPEC countries say they are doing right now. Actually most OPEC countries say they are increasing their reserves, every year, by slightly more than they are producing. And they have been doing this for over a quarter of a century.

That is why OPEC has over a trillion barrels of reserves. And if the trend continues then by about 2030 they will have about two trillion barrels of reserves. So sleep well tonight because OPEC can supply all the oil the world needs for decades to come.

Ron P.

If we use approximately 2015 for the year when Mexico hits zero net oil exports, I estimated that Mexico, as of the end of 2010, has shipped about 75% of their post-2004 Cumulative Net Exports.

That puts Mexico's reserves to production ratio at just under 15.

Ron, the article is about hydrocarbon reserves - not crude oil reserves (13.99 billion barrels of crude oil equivalent).

Mexico's reserves to production ratio for crude oil and NG are around 11 and 6, respectively: http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/country/country_energy_data.cfm?fips=MX

That's a small number and they are only 77% each year. They have three choices: increase discovery, reduce production or run out of oil. I guess they will go for reduced production which will generate less money for discovery ...

The denialosphere loves to hate Mann et al. and their hockey-stick graph, a graph that shows that over a thousand years of steady to slightly cooling global temperatures (the 'handle' of the hockey stick) was suddenly reversed as we started to use fossil fuels (the 'blade' of the stick).

But all actual, careful follow up studies have largely confirmed the basic shape of the graph, a graph that (along with many other facts of physics and chemistry) points clearly to ff and the CO2 that they produce are the main culprits in GW.


This, of course, won't stop the raving hordes from foaming at the mouth about this piece of solid scholarship, nor from vilifying its authors.

I asked my mother once whether or not she believed in hell. She told me that,yes, but hell is something that will occur on earth. And now I see how right she was.

Reminds me of Sartre: "l`enfer, c`est les autres!" (Hell, it is other people). He meant here on earth too. But I don`t think he had climate change in mind. Something or other about existentialism...

Was your mother perhaps an existentialist?

My mother was a Presbyterian, or so she said. However, I think this was more a social obligation than a belief system.

Here's another one from yesterday. According to the columnist, the 40% loss of phytoplankton in the oceans has nothing to do with climate change; it is because the plastic film in the ocean is choking the phytoplankton.


(my comments to the shill are under the name "cassandra")

Just got to love these either/or inanities. It is a fact that the ocean surface waters are acidifying. It is also a fact that many species of plankton cannot survive even small changes in PH. So it is physically impossible for PH not to be playing a role. This is on top of the silly notion that plastic that takes centuries to degrade and is scattered over millions of square kilometers (and in addition only in small fractions of the Atlantic and Pacific) is somehow suppressing plankton globally. There is no plastic sheet wrapping the world's oceans stopping gas exchange.

Your comments were right on the mark, the writer is a freaking shill. The credibility of today's journalists is generally low and getting lower by the day.

(What credibility?? ;)

Unfortunately, most of that plastic is going to take far longer than centuries to degrade. A healthy dose of UV will eventually do the job, but it only takes a very small cover of water (I do not recall exactly how thin offhand, but it isn't much) to attenuate UV enough that it basically lasts forever. Most of the plastic in the ocean will continue to be mechanically ground into smaller and smaller pieces. A bad scene is probably going to get a lot worse when those little plastic "nurdles" are small enough that the zooplankton start filling up with them.

The smallest nodes of plastic are already small enough to show up in the diet of animals, Though I don't know about zooplankton yet, but from the stories I've seen some of the bits are that small already.

Now the point has to be made if this is the case already, what chemicals are left in the plastic bits that will harm the life cycle of those creatures that eat it? Will the bits just pass through the guts of the creatures like harmless bits of rock and other small chemically bonded natural items do? Those are the studies that no one has been doing, or is it being done now and no one is there to read the results just yet.

We are all living in a 10,000 year old experiment, and at any one given time someone can just pluck us out of it to test us to see if we are meeting the code standards yet.

Lab Rat #134,234,983,102

Once again areas of S MN and Wisconsin have received amazing amts of rain (one area had over 10 inches in 48hrs) with most place getting in the 4-6 inch range. Since June 1st my backyard has had right around 30 inches of rain fall in it! Let me tell you something, you can have TOO much of a good thing. Now my comment on all of this.

We hear how dry the west is (Colorado/AZ/NV/CA). I have an idea... Pump this FRESHWATER (slightly polluted!) west? I've read Colorado wants to pump Mississippi River water from KY. If the Chinese ran this country (that may happen yet) i'd bet 1 USD that they'd figure out how to divert this westward. It just seems a waste that it ends up polluting the oil filled Gulf of Mexico with runoff and fertilizer.

Some obvious problems, however:

The Mississippi River, in the area of Hickman, Ky., has average annual flows that exceed 240 million af, he said. Colorado River's annual flow, in comparison, is approximately 15 million af.

Hausler wants to divert 1 million af per year, which equates to less than .5 percent of the average flow in the Mississippi, he said.

While this would be a "tremendous injection of water" into Colorado, McClow said, it seems that it would "hardly" be missed back in its area of origin.

Hausler's proposed route for the pipeline is 1,200 miles long with 7,000 feet of "total lift." Pumping the water would require an additional 1,600 megawatts of power, which is essentially the equivalent to the power generated at the Hoover Dam, Hausler said. Right-of-way issues would need to be accomplished through eminent domain and purchased at market rates, he advised.


If this clown is right, we need a string of nukes built along the river to pump it west.

I heard they got nearly 12 inches in some towns. Records were broken for rainfall for this date in most of southern Minnesota. Nearly everywhere in the south got more in one day than they usually get in the whole month, some many times that. And it's been weirdly hot and muggy late into the night this week--not our 'usual' late September weather up here, but 'usual' is getting harder and harder to define.

Wouldn't it be simpler to move the people from Colorado to Kentucky?

Yes, but that won't solve the agriculture needs.

Given the choice, I imagine KY would rather share water than take in the newcomers. :)

From the article

Around 70 percent of the state's farms and ranches would need to be dried up to meet population demands by 2050 -- according to a Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) staff analysis -- unless new water is introduced to the state, McClow said.

So the problem is people, not agriculture.

And the solution is to stop population growth in areas that don't have water. No water, no building permits.

The problem is both -- sure, you could cut agriculture to support people, but it would make more sense to it the other way around. But that's not politically viable, so why not pump water? Just another silver BB...and a use for that stranded wind in KS and CO -- pump when the wind blows.

Add a reservoir at the Cont Divide and you'd have power storage, too.

Politically viable?

I'd suggest a referendum in Colorado that asks the voters whether they would rather restrict building of new residential units or pay for water pumped from the Mississippi.

The answer would probably not be what the real estate developers and their lackeys at the statehouse want to hear.

Besides, it is not just a Colorado issue -- Kansas and Missouri may have opinions too.

Globally freshwater is such a huge issue, yet this big bathtub of freshwater keeps getting drained into the gulf. I don't understand why its not tapped...MASSIVELY...for agriculture. The Colorado River doesn't even make it to the ocean.

The weather up here is nuts. We have had so much rain and snow the past few years. Just massive amts of each. Obviously we are situated between the cold Canadian air sources and the dome of heat over the SE...throw in Gulf moisture (and Pacific) and maybe a little tropical Karl moisture and you get insane amts 1000 miles from the nearest ocean.

Call it insane weather decade. Like I have said, we in central Arkansas got over 83 inches of rain in North Little Rock last year, on city in Ark, got 100 inches for the first time in forever as it's told around here. Yet this year when none of that water is nearby, we are dry and below normal by almost 10 inches, which at this time of year, we'd have seen 35 inches by now so far.

I have over 370 gallons of storage capacity, and am at about 200 of that from the several collection sites in the yard. I wanted to have more storage, but other things got in the way. But I am only watering less than 200 square feet of planted garden, and a few trees. Though I just planted about 20 square feet of containers so they have to be watered daily, greens and peas.

Insane weather is the best term for the climate change patterns that seem to just mean that water from the sky is not where it is normally supposed to be at any given time segment of the year or place.

I won't bet what next year will bring, but I plan to have more water storage up and running by then, if I can sell some things to help the budget of it all.

What's really odd though is we have had several flood events this year as well in this local area, we had a 100 year flood just down the street. The storm drainage system around here took the rain and held most of it off the roads, but it was wild for about an hour, our street little though it is was closed off on the lower end, which is just about 3 feet lower than my lowest point, the drainage system has two drains on each side of these three streets, unlike any other set of streets around, because we are at the lower end of hill country and all the streets are higher than us, and the natural creek bed is a bit further south of us.

The water company blocked our street off, July 12th when we had a massive downpour. People living here most of their 30 and 40 years, never saw anything like it. Was rather cool, wish I'd paid more attention, their was just to much going on in the house that day to pay attention to the weather, until we had to get out in it. A storm inside and one outside, all kinda an odd day that was.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.

Why not just pump water from the Pacific into Death Valley, and let it evaporate in huge salt lakes? Pump the (much lower volume) saline solution back out, and/or harvest it for minerals.

The evaporating water would tend to lower local temps, and most of the resulting water would fall out again as rain when it bumped up against mountains, ready to use for agriculture.

Sure, it wouldn't be as efficient, but water flows better down-hill.

As for the 7kft of lift, why wouldn't the power mostly regen on the way back down the far side? Shouldn't you simply end up with pumping loss for the pipe friction? Or was that the net power number, including all that?

As for the 7kft of lift, why wouldn't the power mostly regen on the way back down

The average elevation in Colorado IIRC is 6800 feet. Now agriculture is generally on the plains, but you are still talking 4500 to 5500 feet of elevation, so mostly you don't have a back down side to the equation. Then add in pumping and frictional loses....

Stephen Colbert just testified in Congress today that most soil is at ground level.

I was thinking that the lift was from 500ft up to about 7500ft, over the mountains, and then back down to 3-5K on the far side.

But isn't most of the agriculture on the eastern side of the front range? That's less than 5K...much of 3K or less, right?

I've long thought that a national freshwater redistribution system may be doable. It could be powered by renewables, at least in part. Lakes Powel and Mead haven't been at full pool for years; lots of storage there. Powell is around 3700 feet, Mead currently around 1100 feet. Pumped storage generating could be integrated to help power the system and compliment renewables on the grid.

One of my concerns would be environmental. Beyond pollutants is the problem with invasive species of plants and animals. Perhaps a solar/UV sterilization system of some sort could be used.

Alas, just one of my many technocopian pipe dreams......

Perhaps people ought to be using less water. For example, drier states should be ripping out their lawns, golf courses and swimming pools, xeri-scaping and taking fewer showers.

It is unrealistic to expect behavior changes without an unpleasant stimulus -- either shortage or price, typically. Appeals to the higher aspects of human nature are nowhere near as compelling.

In the deserts of the middle east, golf is played on sand courses, to oiled "browns?" They carry a little square of astroturf and if they are in what is designated as 'fairway,' they are allowed to hit off that. Otherwise, play the ball down.

The future of the planet: stinky golfers playing on sand courses! The mental image for some reason evokes a smile!


Every scheme is fraught with difficulties. On this life boat we call earth with less and less resources to go around, the population will just increase to take up the extra resources freed by some using less. Here in water short Colorado, the people will keep coming until there simply isn't enough water left. The snows come later and leave earlier and even in the middle of winter up here in the mountains, we now see rain.

As much as I personally try not to waste water, I often wonder what folly that is on a mass scale if all we end up with is less water for more people.

It is almost October, and here at 8500 feet, there is no hint of winter. We used to have the first snows in early September. Meet someone on the street and they will exclaim what a nice day it is and what wonderful weather we are having. Wonderful, if having enough water is not a high priority.

All of our schemes to divert yet another flow of water will just have us end up in the same place, only worse off. Self restraint has to be done on a global basis or all it does is just set up humanity for even a deeper level of suffering down the road. Not to mention the flora and fauna.

And have I mentioned the pine beetles who are eating our forests alive?

I get the way you do, when I think of the guy down the block, who daily washs off his driveway with the city tap water, just so he'll have a nice front yard look. I have asked him why he does it, and the answer is, so it will look nice. I kinda shut up after that, and ask him how many squirrels he has killed lately. Seems him and someone next door do that while I am not looking.

He does it because they might get his pecans, and the other guy does it, because they mess up his back porch. Both of them are yard Nazies( everything in neat rows, no grass blade out of line, etc etc.) I feel like I am just meeting the middle of the road some days.

Piping water from here to there, will just make things worse in the future, or give us a big new skating track or dune buggy travel raceway up hill over kansas. Yay Angst.

Never fear it can always get worse, LOL. Hands you some salad greens and some fresh herbs, while they last.

BioWebScape designs for the angst driven people for a better world if we only try to live a bit better one person at a time.

The Columbia Basin Project has generating stations at spots on the downhill leg. Two I know about are at the outlet of Banks Lake, and there is one at Summer Falls where the water flows into Billy Clapp lake.

At the North End of Banks Lake, some of the pumps that fill the lake, starting the irrigation water on its way, can run in reverse as generators. I don't know if they ever actually do it, but they can if they have to.

As for the power needed to get the water to Denver, 1,600 MW is two nuclear plants. They wouldn't have to be "strung out along the way".

The real problem is hidden

Groundwater depletion rate accelerating worldwide

Soaring global groundwater depletion bodes a potential disaster for an increasingly globalized agricultural system, says Marc Bierkens of Utrecht University in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and leader of the new study. "If you let the population grow by extending the irrigated areas using groundwater that is not being recharged, then you will run into a wall at a certain point in time, and you will have hunger and social unrest to go with it," Bierkens warns. "That is something that you can see coming for miles."

... the team finds that the rate at which global groundwater stocks are shrinking has more than doubled between 1960 and 2000, increasing the amount lost from 126 to 283 cubic kilometers (30 to 68 cubic miles) of water per year. Because the total amount of groundwater in the world is unknown, it's hard to say how fast the global supply would vanish at this rate. But, if water was siphoned as rapidly from the Great Lakes, they would go bone-dry in around 80 years.

Groundwater represents about 30 percent of the available fresh water on the planet, with surface water accounting for only one percent.

But of course the US (or US and Canadian) needs are far less than the world. What is the replacement rate (rainfall minus evaporation) for the Great Lakes?

That would be the next source once the Mississippi proved inadequate.

A series of windfarms and a canals across flatland would offer water and power to farming-centric areas along the way. Unlike most water-wars, this one might have support from all parties...except those who want to keep the Mississippi full, that is.

Headwater areas would ideally benefit from resource revenue. Hopefully prices would be high enough to incent efficient usage of the water, but low enough to prevent starvation from crop failure.

The catchment basin of the Great Lakes is quite small. Most of the US drains south via the Mississippi. Most of Canada drains north to Hudson Bay or east via the Ottawa river.

But of course the US (or US and Canadian) needs are far less than the world. What is the replacement rate (rainfall minus evaporation) for the Great Lakes?

40% of US agriculture is irrigated.

Great lakes are 6 ft below 1970-2000 mean. Ore/grain carriers cannot handle full loads.

Today this is purely caused by climatology - with global warming a potential driver:

Most environmental researchers say that low precipitation, mild winters and high evaporation, due largely to a lack of heavy ice covers to shield warmer lake waters from the colder air above, are depleting the lakes. The Great Lakes follow a natural cycle, their levels rising in the spring, peaking in the summer and reaching a low in the winter, as the evaporation rate rises.


I don't remember where I saw it (documentary on Discovery?), but it said that the Lakes are not draining due to man's influences. That entire part of the tectonic plate is still rebounding after having the weight of the ice sheet from the last ice age on it. The plate is rising and the water is draining into the St. Lawrence faster than it's being filled by precipitation.

40% of US agriculture is irrigated.

Don't you think that is just a tad high? This page says 11 percent of US cropland is irrigated.

Agriculture and Water


                                                                  Percent of all
Country   Irrigated area   Irrigated land as   Irrigation water   water withdrawals
          (100 Sq Klm.)    pct. of cropland    used. Cubic Klm.   used for Irrigation
World       2,296             19                 2,236                69 
China         513             52                   400                87 
India         490             29                   353                93 
United States 209             11                   196                42 
Pakistan      163             80                   151                97 
Mexico         62             25                    67                86 
Egypt          33            100                    47                86

Notice that 52 percent of China's cropland is irrigated. That is alarming since the water tables are dropping faster than anywhere else in the world except perhaps India. The Yellow River in China does not reach the sea for much of the year due to water withdrawn for irrigation.
Ron P.

Source of my confusion - From above worksheet (5th column)
Percent of all water withdrawals used for Irrigation US=42%

Groundwater represents about 30 percent of the available fresh water on the planet, with surface water accounting for only one percent.

Yes, and the rest is mostly on ice. Or tied up as ice, more directly.


During the '70s we heard of Saudi plans to tow icebergs to Saudi Arabia for use as fresh water. I don't know if anyone has any plans like this today... it would be interesting what with the huge iceberg floating south off the West coast of Greenland.

Interestingly, sea ice is largely fresh water as well... something about as it freezes, it squeezes the salt out.

Still, I don't see how that 68.7% of our fresh water is going to help much.

Any ideas on how to hold on to it, or use it?


Well, all those VLCCs will need a new mission when millions of barrels of oil are not being shipped around the world anymore. Maybe they can become water carriers transporting clean water from Antarctica to the Middle East and Africa.

I wonder what water would have to be selling for per barrel to make it worthwhile.

Somehow putting it in plastic bottles makes it more valuable than oil.

During the '70s we heard of Saudi plans to tow icebergs to Saudi Arabia for use as fresh water. I don't know if anyone has any plans like this today... it would be interesting what with the huge iceberg floating south off the West coast of Greenland.

Take a look at the map, taking a berg for the northern reaches to Saudi Arabia is a very long way around Africa (unless you think it would fit through Suez). So bergs from Antarctica are actually closer as the boat goes. Last I heard, the latest idea was to enclose the berg in a giant bag, so that when it melts you have a bag of fresh water. I don't think these ideas have gone anywhere.

Groundwater represents about 30 percent of the available fresh water on the planet, with surface water accounting for only one percent.

But this does not mean aquifer water is plentiful. This figure counts every bit (no matter what its concentration) of water in any permeable ground. A more useful figure would be how much agriculturally relevant ground water there is. It is doubtful that it exceeds 3%. As with oil, accessibility is everything.

But this does not mean aquifer water is plentiful. This figure counts every bit (no matter what its concentration) of water in any permeable ground.

Actually a lot of groundwater is brakish, so you gotta add the cost of desalinization to the cost of pumping. Aquifers in unsolidated sediment are single use only. Remove the water, and the sediment compresses, squeezing out the voids. Then you can't just put the water back in. Groundwater overuse is pretty seductive. Initially it seems like it will last forever, but exponentially increasing usage soon changes that. Once you realize you are in overshoot, you have a large population dependent upon it.

LOL. I just thought of the last time I was in a cave. Water was dripping and the hole I was in was wet, but the water never pooled, we couldn't get down to where it did, there had been a recent rock fall and the passage was closed off. But I have seen caves where the water is to deep but for divers, and the water was fresh, though not seeming to flow in any way.

Limestone caves and other rock formations make for great hikes in the dark, but getting at the water in most cases isn't really needed where these caves are at. You hear stories of caves going miles and miles in some networks, even of underground rivers around here that used to be old river beds buried by sandbars and forests. One thing I know is that the more you go underground, the more you find that You do not know. The underground world surprises more often than not.

Missing caving,Charles.

One thing that rivers don't do is recharge much in the way of groundwater, though small creeks and some smaller rivers do a bit more than you'd see happening on the bigger rivers. The more flow the harder for the water to sink through river muds. Up in the highlands where some creeks flow over rocky areas and can literlly go underground for a while, you see more of them actually replacing some areas of groundwater.

What we have been doing with our drainage areas for the last good bit is to drain our swamps, and marshes, pave our rivers, remove gravel beds from creeks, and generally poor water management for the decades ahead. We will not be able to recover all our bad habits in a few years worth of good planning though.

We might be able to stem the on rushing tide a bit, though I still have that debate with myself, everytime I go out in my garden and tap water out of one of my water collection bins( one under my AC condensor collects a fair amount of drip water everyday ).

Population and the need to drain water out of the collection areas and rivers to fuel our needs, and most of them aren't even for drinking and personal use. If we all lived closer to the land, we might not be in this pickle we find ourselves. But then you have cities that now dwarf some former countries in size, just making them possible takes a lot of water for all the things in the city, not counting the people that live there.

Pictures of mines ruining rivers, and people carrying water bottles because the local water source is really undrinkable and likely has been for as long as most people remember. Sooner rather than later we are going to hit this wall, and Peak Oil is nothing compared to peak clean water, you can't live long without clean water. Then that ocean mining story hit me thinking of all the new things we can build. Who needs space invaders ruining the planet when we are doing a good job ourselves.

angst again, in Arkansas,Charles.

The problem with water managers is that they see things in big numbers and don't see it on the small scale, as this guy seems to think just pumping Mississippi river water over to Colorado, would be a snap.

I have rain gathering systems in place in my yard, not the best in the world but usable for what I have planted. Last year we here ran almost 50 inches over normal rainfall, but this year we are almost 10 inches below normal for the year as a running total. But even then, If I could have collected the rain fall off my own house's roof In only a half section of it, I'd have gained over 375 gallons per inch of rainfall. Given that we rained in at up till now 25 inches, That'd be over 9,000 gallons. Or 30 gallons a day for the use of the family in the same time period.

I'd say that better water use management is what is needed and better collection profiles in the area that they want to use it. Why just let a parking lot drain out to the river, when if you planned right, you could plant cisterns under the city and collect house and street runoff in to the collection sites for use later. You still have to make the water usable, but you can't drink river water either, so there is still that going on.

Why make a pipeline, when better water use is the key to most of the problems they are having.

Better planning has not been our strong suit in all our years of wastefulness, why not start there first before we try to solve half our problems by creating more of them?

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world. Water planning and use being a big plus to most of the designs.

I don't know if this paper has been discussed before here, but in case it hasn't, I'm sure many will find it interesting: Causes and Consequences of the Oil Shock of 2007-08. Lots of meat in this one. Here's one table that popped out at me:

Episode Supply reduction Price change Implied elasticity
Oct 73 - Mar 74 4.0% 41.3% 0.10
Nov 78 - Jul 79 1.3% 38.7% 0.03
Oct 80 - Mar 81 1.2% 25.8% 0.05
Aug 90 - Oct 90 2.9% 71.6% 0.04

Notes. Second column. Average shortfall of global production of crude petroleum over
indicated period as a percent of global production the month before the indicated episode.
Third column. Cumulative change in 100 times the natural log of crude oil price over the
indicated episode. Data sources same as those for Figure 5. Fourth column. Ratio of
second to third columns.

Look at the price changes associated with small declines in supply. Granted, these supply changes happened quickly giving people little time to adjust. Even so, doesn't this give us some kind of clue as to what's ahead?

Indeed it does.

It was mentioned by Richard Heinberg about a year ago here (and doubtless in other places too): http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5638

Thanks for the link!

I have been referring to the James Hamilton paper quite a bit.

I think we get recession instead of price increases, after a point. (This is expected, if the price could go very high, that means that oil with very low EROI could be extracted profitably--something that doesn't work. So at some point you hit peak demand, and prices drop. People can't pay the higher prices.

The price point where recession hits isn't all that high--perhaps about $05-$85 barrel, based on Dave Murphy's analysis.

Perhaps one should think beyond the national boundaries. Suppose that the price of oil jumps to around $200 a barrel. But, at the same time, the dollar crashes to 1/4 it's present value. Outside the US, the rest of the world continues to pay the equivalent of $75 a barrel in their respective currencies. As a result, the rest of the world keeps on consuming the same amount of oil as before, but the 4.5% of the Earth's population in the US goes bankrupt and starves...

E. Swanson

.Suppose that the price of oil jumps to around $200 a barrel.

The money spent on teh oils is not lost, merely transfered to the producers. The producers will recirculate this money (probably buying up a substantial fraction of the world). But depending upon what the Sheiks do with their new vast wealth, it isn't necessarily catastrophic.

Pardon my fuzzy math. I should have written $300 a barrel to make the result $75 for those outside the dollar economy.

The main point I wanted to make can be thought of this way. If your economy is now spending a total of 10% of it's yearly income on oil/energy and the price to you increases by a factor of 4, then you are going to be paying 40% of your income for energy. As Gail points out, this situation wouldn't continue for very long, as the result would likely be a economic depression, which would result in less energy use. But, supposing that it's just one country so impacted, I think that the rest of the world's consumers could care less and would continue to consume at their previous rate. I think the US is facing a situation somewhat similar to that simple example, MOL...

E. Swanson

I wonder if the EROEI argument is all there is, though. After all, oil has many non-energy uses that have value beyond the energy content alone. I agree with Darwinian the ROI is the really relevant measure. If someone has a use for oil the value of which exceeds the energy value, that oil will be produced.

Can the world live with the pace of economic growth? Time to find out
“Can economic growth continue indefinitely?”

How can anyone possibly believe that anything could grow indefinitely in a limited amount of space with limited resources?

Since people don't live indefinitely, all we need to believe is that the day of reckoning is after we shuffle off this mortal coil in order to rationalize unsustainable lifestyle (tragedy of the commons).

Economics, not technology key to U.S. energy innovation: Steven Koonin

(Department of Energy Under Secretary for Science Steven Koonin) As a theoretical physicist by training, Steven E. Koonin PhD ’75 might have been expected to focus his talk at MIT on Wednesday, Sept. 22, on the scientific and technological aspects of energy policy. But he made it clear right away that business and economics are the real keys to progress in the energy frontier.

It’s the economics that are “absolutely essential if the technologies are going to have an impact,” he said at the outset of the annual Hoyt C. Hottel lecture sponsored by the MIT Department of Chemical Engineering, before a packed hall in the Stata Center.

“There is an urgency” about dealing with the problems of energy just from a national-security perspective, even apart from the dangers of climate change, he said, pointing out that the United States currently sends about $1 billion a day to other nations to feed our petroleum appetite. That makes us “subject to the actions and fates of centers distant from us,” he said.

I just finished listening to a congressional hearing regarding a new agJobs bill - essentially, to legalize migrant farmworkers.

On the one side, the argument goes that Americans don't want to do farm work because the pay is low and the conditions are terrible. On the other side, the argument is for applying laws already on the books applicable to "undocumented" workers, and cleaning things up to make the jobs "more attractive" to American unemployed. At which point, the issue of price and competitiveness of US apples vs Chilean apples comes up.

Apparently, 75% of existing agricultural workers are "undocumented".

More at Common Dreams :-


Eventually, though, whatever path we choose, food prices are bound to go up. Or, American unemployed will have to get re-accustomed to doing agricultural work.

The really unappealing part of ag jobs is the "migrant" part. The pay is actually pretty decent, and while the work is hard, so is a lot of other work that Americans are willing to do, for the right price.

But these jobs last only a few weeks. Farm workers travel the country, moving from California to New York as different crops ripen. That's what Americans don't want to do.

Around here, farm kids used to help with harvest, which though mechanized still took a lot of extra workers.

In rural areas, schools would close for harvest times, and I had college friends who paid their way with a few weeks of 18-20 hours days on a combine a couple of times a year, and occasional help other times.

If you have a population of flexibly-employed people who shift jobs with the seasons, then fewer people have to travel far even if some equipment moves around. "Contract work" is not an easy living when you have a mortgage and auto payments. It's a lot easier if you have a "feast and famine" lifestyle that can suck it up when you have to and spend it up when it arrives. That's not the "middle class dream" lifestyle, though.

My high school used to have fall off, instead of summer. So the kids could work on the farm. Classes ran through the summer, with Sept., Oct, and Nov. as the vacation months.

My mom grew up picking onions, or what ever was in season where she was, all her family was living the migrant worker farm life for a while during her early years in the depression. Her dad would literally ride the rails to go places to work for a while then bring the family back there with the wages he'd saved up and had bought a place where he last was.

They moved from California to Arkansas doing that over the course of about 15 years. They settled in Northern Arkansas southern Missouri, having several places that they owned.

My dad lived a stationary life, working on a farm and in the Oilfields of southern Ill. Till he moved off in the army, though he was back for a time, before he met my mother.

The people that can live out of a trailer are few and far between in this day and age, but if you can hack it, it can be done. What gets me is that most people can't hack the hours or the labor needed to make most hard work jobs or just can't stand the moving so much.

I have thought about it a time or two, but I'd get tied down with a wife and the dream of living on the road would get sucked out of me again. I did do something like in the early 90's but again it was not easy living out of a car and not something you can do and have a steady anything else with.

I just think that half the youth of today, or the older folks that could do it, don't even think about it as a viable option to the 9 to 5 drag or the steady pillow life they do lead. Though I can think of a few homeless folks that might take you up on the offer, if you get them something to live out of for the first little while( if they can be steady about things that is ).

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.

One of the folks testifying mentioned he paid $93 a day for picking apples. Assuming a ten-hour day, that's more than minimum wage, but a lot harder than flipping burgers. Although, somewhere else in the conversation, a 12-hour day was mentioned, bringing it to just about minimum wage.

Perhaps when folks have fewer options for a permanent place of residence, the "migrant" part may become more palatable, especially if the employer provides meals and shelter. Some provide benefits and workmen's comp too.

We supply decent but very plain housing, electricity, and water to migrant pickers in my area as a matter of regulation and necessity. They earn in addition anywhere from eight to ten dolars per hour on hourly rates or as much as twenty dollars per hour on piece rates.
The potential earnings vary wildly according to the orchard and the crop from one year to the next.

Due to the nature of the work, a twelve hour day picking is a rarity-you can't get started until the frut is dry in the morning, which can be after 9am sometimes.A picker can probably typically average about nine hours per day, as time is often lost to weather and sometimes waiting for the fruit to ripen properly or too processing bottlenecks.

Most pickers choose the piece rate and really bust thier butts for eight or nine hours rather than work at a more liesurely pace for longer hours.

You have to be very tough to pick at a fast clip for eight hours.

We pick our own now with the help of a couple of local guys who are often out of work.

Maybe America needs to start a draft for young people to serve their country by becoming farm workers for two years after they graduate from high school - before college. The two years spent picking fruit and vegetables, etc. is a service to the country at minimum wage to eliminate the need for migrant farm workers to satisfy the right wing's paranoia. All kids no matter how wealthy the parents are must put in their two years. It would teach them the value of money, build strong bodies and the subsequent right wing movement to have those migrant workers return so their kids don't have to do that type of work will end the paranoia.

I think you are giving the left an unearned pass. It's the grass-roots right that supports a tight border. Only the corporate right wants cheap labor, and the left voting machine as well. The reason that nothing of substance gets done, IMHO, is that both parties happen to like the status quo for their own reasons. So do gun-runners, drug dealers, and everybody else who benefits from a steady flow of invisible persons.

It doesn't help that big banks benefit from the drug trade, either. Much of the drug cash of the world is laundered by the big-name banks, quite openly.

Its those invisible people that have it bad, and they aren't only from south of the border. A lot of poor folks from right down the road are on that list of invisible people.

We help several of them the number is a bit in flux some weeks, right now it up to 7. People just on the borders of the real world, they never make enough to be called normal wage earners. If my parents weren't alive and I was still living here, I'd most likely only be able to help a little bit with some of these folks, but as it is I can help more so than I could otherwise. I get under $9,000 from SSD, so I am rich compared to these 8 folks. 4 of them have a house or trailer( 2 of those have the trailer because I pay the rent on it, otherwise they'd be homeless, or elsewhere). A couple have been living with the folks that have the house, but not making more than a few hundred a month between them, or it seems that way, I don't ask for reports of money coming in or the like, we give them rides mostly and help them with a few odds and ends when we can.

But by and large they are also part of the invisible people population, not even the homeless folks are really visible unless they are in the city streets asking for things from people, and most of them just want to be left alone, or not bother people. Some cities try to mask the problems of the american citizen homeless, they fall under the rugs of most places and you hardly will hear about them unless you get out and about a lot during the odd hours of the day.

I know one musician that without a few steady gigs he and his wife would be out on the street for a while, they've been worse off a few years back doing the couch crash most nights at friend's places, now at least they have a steady income it seems.

Lots more invisible people than you might think though, than what you might have heard about on TV.(I don't watch the thing myself, I barely get my news at all some days, besides from people I know in the world).

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.

That's quite a good idea. Reset a few expectations.

From my ELP Plan essay:

While we will desperately need engineers and many other technically qualified graduates, we are seeing wave upon wave of college graduates entering the work force with degrees that very poorly prepare them for work in a post-Peak Oil environment. We may ultimately see college graduates competing with illegal immigrants for agricultural jobs.

Perhaps the best education investment that many young people could make is a two year associate degree in some kind of repair/maintenance area, perhaps with summer jobs in the agricultural sector.

RE The Economy Can't Grow Forever

Well, I'm stunned. I've read Marketwatch for more than a decade on and off. It's a thoroughly mainstream site.

And now they've said it. Their Washington bureau chief no less.

We can downsize the right way, or the wrong way. The right way is to voluntarily rearrange our priorities so we don’t consume more than the Earth can produce, but to do that some of us will have to sacrifice and we’ll all have to share the only planet we’ll ever have. We’ll have to consume to live, not live to consume.

The wrong way is Malthus’s way: War, famine and plague.

Neither way will be easy. Nothing is more important.

I nearly fell out of my chair when I read that one, too. They're as go-go economy as anyone. How long until 'the word' reaches critical mass?

"We’ll have to consume to live, not live to consume."

Krugman will be excreting a cow any minute. Mindless consumer spending is his Grail, the solution to all problems. Anyone not living paycheck to paycheck is to be crushed between the rock of inflation and the hard place of low interest rates. And if you foolishly refuse to spend your money, then the government should tax it away from you and spend it in your name.

How does he get away with calling himself a liberal?

Stephen Colbert is a god. He testified to Congress and kept in character.

WASHINGTON – Taking his blowhard act to Congress, comedian Stephen Colbert told lawmakers that one day picking beans alongside illegal immigrants convinced him that farm work is "really, really hard."
"It turns out — and I did not know this — most soil is at ground level," Colbert testified Friday. Also, "It was hotter than I like to be."
Yet Colbert expressed befuddlement that more Americans aren't clamoring to "begin an exciting career" in the fields and instead are leaving the work to illegal immigrants.

I wish I could nominate him for the Order of Canada.

Edit: That's it, I am declaring myself a Democrat for this round of elections. The following quote PROVES the Republicans actually believe the tripe the regurgitate. At least the Democrats know it is all a lie.

The crowd occasionally burst into laughter during Colbert's remarks, while some Democratic members and their staff smirked from their perches in the hearing room. Most of the committee's Republican members did not appear amused.
After Colbert's five-minute statement, Conyers noted that Colbert's remarks dramatically differed from the prepared testimony he submitted.


Notice that the congresspeople were not laughing. What borish cads. Colbert is the Will Rogers of the 21st century. I laughed out loud during his entire testimony.

Really, is the AP story biased in your opinion? Naw, say it ain't so.

Order of Canada Nomination, review, and appointment
The Chancellery of Honours at Rideau Hall, which administers the Canadian honours system, permits anyone to submit nominations for the Order of Canada any time of the year. A form is completed – including notes on the candidate's life and accomplishments, the nominator's and the candidate's information (such as birth, citizenship, address, and occupation), and three supporters of the nomination – and sent to the Chancellery. Once there, the letter is kept in a file unannounced, due to privacy of the nominee and the person who made the nomination.

Who is with me? Rush (all three), Gordon Lightfoot, and Peter Jennings made it. I just need two more supporters.

Go to huffingtonpost.com to listen to his testimony. I did not hear any congress critters laughing, but maybe it just didn't show up in the video.

Last Days Of The U.S. Empire?

The global financial markets were startled this week when Brazilian oil giant Petrobras sold an astonishing $70 billion worth of stock in the largest stock sale in history. Petrobras will use the money to fund aggressive offshore drilling--the kind that is being hotly debated in the U.S. after the Gulf oil spill


Question: What is the leading indicator of energy obesity?


The United States is the fattest nation among 33 countries with advanced economies, according to a report out today from an international think tank.
Two-thirds of people in this country are overweight or obese; about a third of adults — more than 72 million — are obese, which is roughly 30 pounds over a healthy weight.


Concerning the capitalization of Petrobras, I agree with jmygann.

The chinese and an iranian pension fund bought a huge stake of the cake, because that's maybe the only oil company with a serious growth perspective.

Actually, I think pre-salt oil is the jolly card of oil supply; the possibilities of new finds are enormous, and who will have the funds, technology and access to it will be a big gainer. Petrobras has it all, and the big sharks around the world know it.

Drought in Brazil is a factor in rising corn and soybean prices, which jumped again today. Coupled with the Russian drought and Pakistan floods, climate extremes are moving commodities.


“Yields have already been seriously damaged,” said Costa, chief executive officer of the sugar maker controlled by Tereos, Europe’s third-largest sugar producer. “The losses are already there.”

Sugar-cane output may fall for the first time in 11 years in 2011, said Gustavo Correa, an analyst at research firm FG/Agro in Ribeirao Preto, a sugar and ethanol industry hub in northern Sao Paulo state.

Sugar prices are rising diverting sugar from ethanol production. This has enabled exports of corn ethanol to Brazil.

The recent campaign against high fructose corn syrup has also increased demand for sugar.

Soybean planting has been delayed by the drought also. So now we have an almost unheard of situation of soybeans making new highs at harvest in North America.

Corn appears ready to do the same thing. If E15 is approved and sugar prices continue to rise, high fructose corn syrup may again look attractive to users who have switched.

Add in the breakdown in the dollar index and the corn/soybean market could get very interesting.

Even oil may finally perk up.

An interesting take on what is going to be needed in the mid term as part of our sustainable culture suggests that lawyers take "time dollars." Sort of like medical doctors of yore accepting chickens and pigs as payment in kind, I guess.

Lawyers typically don’t freely share sample documents because charging for documents is a primary way that lawyers make money. Lawyers in this new field will need to develop new revenue models that encourage sharing of information. The free flow of information and open-sourcing of legal documents will ensure better informed clients, better quality and widely-available documents, and communities that are empowered with an understanding of what is possible.

Lawyers can also use sharing to make legal services more affordable, and therefore accessible, to clients. A lawyer sharing office space can keep overhead and fees far lower than a law firm built to look like the Emerald City. A lawyer open to receiving payment in time dollars will make legal services accessible to a broader range of clients.

I have given much thought to how my bretheren will manage. A small community should have fewer litigated disputes, and have less need for legal assistance. Simple contracts, wills, and sales agreements I guess will be the staples. Perhaps some family work, and of course criminal representation. I suggest that it will be much more difficult to exchange time for professional advice and assistance, be it legal, medical or economic, and to expect the sort of disparity typically seen today. More so with CEOs of local corporations (if such are permitted).

With a nice, step down approach to sustainability, this will work itself out. If the descent is rapid, the adjustments will be more difficult and the risk higher. And, these type of paradigm shifts will be endemic to the entire society... not just a few highly visible entities.

Academically, it will be interesting to watch. Realistically, maybe not so much.


There are some interesting and worthwhile articles over at zerohedge recently, particularly regarding the currency markets. I would definitely recommend people check out the first few pages. But, I stick by my contention that trying too hard to decipher what's going on is likely a losing proposition. The most we can be sure of is that there is massive manipulation going on, somewhere. I say this not as a conspiracy nut but just a passive observer.

Is there anybody else out there getting really nervous about this Sept. stock market rally? It seems Bernanke is going all out now. Is he blind, stupid, or both? Does he not realize that he will simultaneously cause a rush into commodities that will crash our economy once again?

Or could it actually be that the big banks are in charge and that they are not only sociopathic but psychopathic as well?

Who knows.

Is there anybody else out there getting really nervous about this Sept. stock market rally?

Oh yeah! After the initial market crash to 7400, it got back up to a high of 11,300, then dropped to 9800, rose to 10,800, dropped again to 9900 and is now at approx. 10,750. So it is at the upper range of the zone it has etched out for itself albeit on small volume, 70% of normal.

It seems like every couple of months there are these pronouncements that the dulldrums are over and here we go the stars again. But the market still has not proven it can go higher than the range shown above. Even if it does, like you say commodities will begin their rise again and we could be right back where we were in 08.

It's a situation that can best be described as tenuous. Also, there is the real possibility of Israel attacking Iran. Imagine having positions, then hearing on a Sat. night its started, but you can't do anything until Monday when it will be too late, so you either hold long term or take a bath.

I'll just watch this one from the sidelines thanks.

I sent this to the editors, who failed to reply, so I'll post it here;

Summary of the Grant Co. Energy Summit.
20 Sept, 2010

A total of 8 panelists, including local energy users as well as representatives from four Washington State electric utilities held a meeting to discuss the state of the power system for the benefit of the local stakeholders. The utilities represented were the Bonneville Power Administration, Avista, Grant County Public Utility District, and Seattle City Light. The latter three provided coverage of the eastern, central, and western parts of the state respectively, so it was very well balanced.

The panelists each opened with a brief statement of their three major issues. There should therefore be 24 issues, but there was substantial overlap. Rather than keep track of who was worried about what, I'll just list them all in line.

1) People problems. All the utilities and most of the energy users have a retirement crisis coming. Up to 50% of the employees will be eligible for retirement in 5 years. And they don't know where the replacements are coming from. On the engineering level, many colleges purged the power section of the EE programs in order to chase digital electronics. (My aside, many of the best and brightest went off to swindle each other with Mortgage Backed Securities and Collateralized Debt Obligations, for which they were paid about 10 times as much, at least as long as the bubble lasted.)

2) Power source reliability. This includes both keeping the old fossil fuel and hydropower plants running, as well as trying to fit wind power into the grid. There is 6000 MW of wind power available to BPA, and there will be 10,000 MW in a few more years. The capacity factor is about 35%, but the real problem with them is that when there is an inversion, the capacity factor drops to about 5%. Inversions also account for the peak heating loads in the winter, and the peak cooling loads in the summer. (Inversion means no wind. No wind means the big local temperature moderator called the North Pacific has no effect, and Marine West Coast becomes (in)Temperate Continental.) By the way, accounting for fish preservation efforts, seasonal low water flows (dry years or not) and other events, the utilities claimed hydropower only has a 55% capacity factor, which seems low to me. But several of the dams are run-of-river, so they don't have a lot of storage. And even Grand Coulee has limits as to how fast and how far they can change the water level in Lake Roosevelt. So maybe it does come out to that. I am certainly in no position to counter with hard data.

3) Transmission lines. There are not enough, and they go the wrong directions for the 21st century. Building them takes a decade at least due to lawsuits from the NIMBY crowd.

4) Power efficiency. This applies to both the end users trying to cut the bills, and the utilities trying to avoid building more capacity. One of the more interesting things is that the utilities do not think the Smart Grid is anywhere near ready technically, and even if it was, the logistics of actually controlling load this way is daunting.

5) Water conservation. 85% of the local power comes from the hydroelectric system. As the farmers convert to more efficient irrigation, that frees up water that can be used to generate power, or they could put more land under irrigation, or replenish diminishing groundwater supplies. I'll throw this in here as well; the utilities actually like the idea of electric cars charging at night. Current fishery rules require certain minimum water flows at night, so they have to run the turbines even when there is little demand. Charging cars would allow them to sell the power for a higher price. One utility actually said they occasionally had to pay others to take excess power.

6) Rates. Both utilities and users worry about rates. The users want the power as cheaply as possible, and the utilities need to charge enough to maintain the system without running off the customers. They remember the loss of several aluminum refiners all too well. Locally, there are 4500 irrigated farmers here in Grant Co (which in turn in only one part of the entire Columbia Basin Project) and power for irrigation is one of their larger fixed costs.

7) Sustainability and Climate change. The worry here is not just the political issues (WA law considers hydroelectric power to be non-renewable for political reasons based on the West Side) but also in terms of actual water flows. This year was looking to be very dry until the late spring rains came in much heavier than normal. The PUD is about $80 million down from budget even so.

8) The supply of customers. There is a recession going on, business is down, commodity prices are going up, and any price increase will drive away customers. Even for the utilities. Expansions would go elsewhere, and there goes another profitable industrial customer. Again locally, several server farms have moved into the area. They use a fair bit of power, but the follow-on employment has been negligible, so the city and county did not see a very large sales tax boost. (Unofficial comment by another audience member; increased tax revenues did not even offset the "incentives" the county offered. I am also pretty sure the administrators are logging in from India, but that could just be me being paranoid.)

9) Cost management. As in the above point, carefully managing capital spending plans is a big problem for all panelists. Cash and credit are tight. And the uncertainty in Washington DC is not helping.

10) Regulations and carbon tax. The regulations are expensive, but the uncertainty is worse. No one there believed that the health care reform bill was going to work. Avista owns part of the Colstrip MT power plant, and has no idea how to mitigate the possible carbon taxes since no one knows what they will look like. (They do believe some sort of carbon tax is inevitable.) The PUD is required to spend several million dollars to meet extra conditions attached to their hydroelectric license renewal, and so on. And the utilities in California have found some way to build a windmill locally and strip the alternative energy credit from it without actually buying the power. So this leaves Washington utilities paying for the tie-in fees, supplying the service availability, and paying retail for power they don't need.

There was the usual round of audience questions, some of which helped better define the above points, but that was about it. There was only one comment on nuclear power, to the effect the utilities would like more of it since they are unlikely to get any more coal plants, and there is no local supply of natural gas. The audience seemed cool to that. The memory of WPPS has not yet faded.

Again locally, several server farms have moved into the area. They use a fair bit of power, but the follow-on employment has been negligible, so the city and county did not see a very large sales tax boost.

Server farms require very little manpower to run. Basically routine maintenance of the uninterruptible power supplies and replacement of failed components in servers, disk arrays and ethernet switches, etc.

They are designed to be highly redundant. Workloads are shifted from failed to still working components until enough failures have been accumulated to make repairs worthwhile.

Very little adminstrative and software work needs to be done on-site.

Hi PV guy,

Thanks for posting this. It's interesting.

1) What is "WPPS"?

2) Who was the organizer for this? And who funded it? (Although I imagine the funding was minimal, still...)

3) Was there any plan made for a follow-up? As in...how to address the concerns raised? (Who will address them and how?)

4) Is there any group or network, in other words, that is working on how to address these issues?

5) Did any one bring up "peak" (AKA "petroleum plummet problem")?

And a suggestion:

I don't know (you could ask, I suppose) - my guess is the editors didn't see how this write-up might easily translate to an article, since articles usually have a thesis or argument. (Well, usually.)

Did you or anyone else report on this for a more local media outlet? That might be a place to find an audience. Also, you might explain a little more about: What was the impetus for the meeting? Who are the stakeholders? What did the stakeholders want to know?

WPPS is where 5 new nukes were started, one was finished. The NW utilities guaranteed the bond holders and then refused to pay despite their obligation to so. Many billions lost.

TVA canceled 11 nukes in one day (80% complete to just paperwork) but they paid their bondholder despite higher rates. They completed one of the 11 later (Watts Bar 1), should finish another in 2013 (Watts Bar 2) and just budgeted $248 million to restart building Bellefonte 1.

Bellefonte 1 & 2 are twins of the most complete unfinished WPPS reactor (WNP-1 63%, WNP-4 23%) and TVA once wanted to finish all 3 (Bellefonte 1 & 2 + WNP-1) together (savings via commonality).

If WNP-1 has not been scrapped, TVA would be interested in working with Energy NW on finishing WNP-1 in conjunction with Bellefonte.


I may have been confusing WNP-1 with WNP-3, that was 76% complete when halted.

From the internet, it is unclear if the equipment has been demolished and removed and in what status the site is in now.


Two of the abandoned WA reactors were originally mothballed, and the other two left to rot. I believe that later the mothballed ones were completely abandoned. It would probably be cheaper to start from scratch again than to try to refurbish what was left. besides, the technology has moved on, those designs are long obsolete.

It's WPPSS. My mistake.

Found this on line;

Plant 2 at Hanford was completed in 1984 and is today (2000) called the Columbia Generating Station. It produces 12 percent of the power supplied by the Bonneville Power Administration at a cost of 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour. Seattle customers pay an average of 3.89 cents per kilowatt hour. The unfinished plants were mothballed against the possibility that construction would be resumed. In 1995, WPPSS decided to demolish what remained of the structures.


Would it kill ya to tell us what the acronym means?

For others who are wondering I looked it up for us: Washington Public Power Supply System.

Good one weasel.

To go one step further, the acronym locally is pronounced Whoops. And it stuck, so Whoops changed its name to Avista, mentioned above. And after the Hanford and Whoops debacles, I think many locally or downwind would like to all future nuke plants on Pennsylvania Ave, or the Mall. Wall Street, maybe even Bourbon Street, could use a few.

1) See the comment about the plan to build 5 nukes at once. Four of them were cancelled, the bonds defaulted. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

2) I'm not entirely sure, but I think it was the Grant Count PUD.

3) No follow up planned that I could see.

4) No formal groups, but the power companies all work together, probably better than most. You have to when you are all on the same river system. The County works closely with the irrigators, and the industrial users work through the Chamber of Commerce, which includes the PUD and the irrigators. So it's definitely interconnected, but decentralized.

5) No discussion of Peak, other than hydro and coal won't grow anymore. But WA has no oil, no gas, and I think the only coal mine is shutdown. So there is nothing they can control about any of that anyway.

Admittedly, the thesis part of this doesn't have a moral. This is a report on the current concerns of those who actually deliver your electrical power, and some major users of that power, some of whom grow your food.

Hi PV,


re: "This is a report on the current concerns of those who actually deliver your electrical power, and some major users of that power, some of whom grow your food."

Well, this is enough of a thesis for me. I was just venturing a guess about the editors. Did they offer you any reasons or advice?

Your sentence here makes a good intro.

It seems to really need a follow-up. I mean, did anyone comment on there being a need to follow-up?

re: "So there is nothing they can control about any of that anyway."

Control, no. Respond to in a "pro-active" and positive way? Yes.

There's a lot that any region could do to prepare for "peak." Or "petroleum plummet."

1. Any State can direct the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)to do a study. The Grant County PUD could get the ear of the gov and/or legislature to get the ball rolling on the NAS study of global oil supply decline, impacts and policy options, as described here (not to bore you w. repetition): www.oildepletion.wordpress.com.

The county can pester the State and the State can direct the study.

2. The PUD could educate themselves, form a task force and make a list of recommendations. Triage on energy, look at how to localize and re-localize vital functions: water, food, etc. They can come up with risk management measures for "no oil from outside" scenarios. The question:
What is the prediction? What can we do now to prepare?

3. At the very least, they can inform citizens, so that people can make decisions in line with "peak." Stop the new building, get some community resilience projects going, start looking at reforming major end-users: transportation, etc.


Why is 'food security' sparking unrest?

An interesting article on food security or better put, the concern of different nations to have food security. However, there is no mention of peak oil as it relates to potentially causing economic havoc when oil production descends from its current peak plateau.

It's summation is:

"(I)n the years ahead we'll probably be seeing more of the turbulence we're experiencing now because markets are set to become more volatile in the medium term for at least three reasons: a) the growing importance as a cereal producer of the Black Sea region, where yields fluctuate greatly from one season to the next; b) the expected increase of extreme weather events linked to climate change; and c) the growing importance of non-commercial actors in commodities markets," Ghanem said in an interview posted on the UN Food and Agricultural Organization website.

Why is 'food security' sparking unrest?

Because people have an instinctive urge to feel insecure about food. In fact, there are large and growing surpluses of food in the world, and the bigger problem is obesity caused by overeating. Even poor people in poor countries are getting fat, worrying about food shortages.

India used to be a major importer of wheat, but now it is an exporter in most years. See Indian may export wheat as stocks bulge.

India’s grain holdings are double from year ago with wheat stocks at 18.4 million tonnes, sharply higher than a target of 8.2 million tonnes

India may have a billion people, but they could probably grow food for two billion, if the subsidies were high enough. It's all a question of economics. The doomsters may not want to believe this, but it's true.

There's always a crop failure somewhere, e.g. Russia, but it's seldom if ever global in scope. The key problem is to get the food to the people who need it at a price they can afford.