Drumbeat: October 9, 2010

The growing fallout of the shale revolution

Alberta Energy Minister Ron Liepert said this week that Alaskan natural gas would likely flow through the province ahead of gas from the Mackenzie Delta. Not so long ago, such a statement would have been regarded as treasonable. Now it appears merely common economic sense. In fact, the real issue is whether either source of Arctic gas will be developed before the age of hydrocarbons ends. That is due to the stunning improvements in the technologies of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling that have made the production of vast amounts of shale gas feasible.

This gas not merely presents the possibility of an economic bonanza in many areas, including B.C. and Quebec, but of enhancing much-coveted U.S. energy independence. It also promises to rearrange energy geopolitics. But for the moment, it is aggravating a supply glut in North America. On Thursday, prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange slumped 6.4% to US$3.62 per million British thermal units (which is roughly equal to a thousand cubic feet).

Oil Increases on Fed Speculation After U.S. Loses More Jobs Than Forecast

Crude oil climbed above $82 a barrel amid speculation the Federal Reserve will buy more debt to stimulate the economy after a government report showed the U.S. lost more jobs than forecast in September.

Oil rose 1.2 percent as the dollar pared gains following the Labor Department report. The Fed may purchase bonds in a strategy known as quantitative easing, weakening the U.S. currency and boosting dollar-denominated commodities.

UAE minister not concerned with oil prices over $80

UAE Oil Minister Mohammed al Hamli said on Saturday that there was still some oversupply in the global oil market and that he was not concerned with prices hovering above the $80 threshold.

Gasoline, Heating Oil Futures Climb in N.Y. After U.S. Employment Report

Gasoline and heating oil rose after a government report showed the U.S. lost more jobs than forecast in September, weakening the dollar on expectations the Federal Reserve will buy more debt to stimulate the economy.

Futures gained after the Labor Department said employers cut staffing by 95,000 workers after a revised 57,000 decrease in August. The median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a drop of 5,000. The dollar weakened to its lowest level since Jan. 15.

Baker Hughes: US rig count up 12 this week

The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by 12 this week to 1,671.

Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc. said Friday that 971 rigs were exploring for natural gas and 690 for oil. Ten were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago this week, the rig count stood at 1,041.

Commodities Soar as Crop Forecasts Cut, U.S. May Buy More Debt

Commodity prices surged to the highest level in almost two years after the U.S. government cut its crop-supply forecasts and the dollar slumped on speculation the Federal Reserve will buy more debt to revive the economy.

Harper amendment helps pass Marcellus Shale tax bill

A local lawmaker was successful Tuesday in breaking the logjam in the House over passage of a bill to tax natural gas extraction in Pennsylvania, leading to passage of the bill by the House Wednesday.

An amendment by state Rep. Kate Harper, R-61st District, to Senate Bill 1155, which places a tax of 39 cents per 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas, was approved by a 154-45 vote Tuesday night.

A Pipeline Problem in Alaska?

The trans-Alaska Pipeline is the largest conduit of domestic oil, a funnel for crude from the North Slope’s Prudhoe Bay to the Port of Valdez. But the Prudhoe wells are drying up—and the prospect of replacing them appears ever more grim. Despite the capacity to carry 2 million barrels a day, the pipeline’s current flow is less than 700,000 gallons and falling at least 6 percent a year. Now its operators have commissioned a study to see how low the supply can get before crude freezes in transit. The most common estimate is about 500,000 barrels, a figure that ConocoPhillips recently predicted would be reached by 2015.

Company squeezes Bunduq for all its worth

About 70 per cent of output from the Bunduq field, which lies on Abu Dhabi's border with Qatar and is shared equally between the two, is now water, according to Mr Shiozawa. The so-called "water cut" at some of the field's 49 wells is as high as 95 per cent, he added. In their first years of life, most reservoirs produce a pure stream of oil and gas. Mr Shiozawa declined to specify current output of the Bunduq field but analysts last year put it at 16,000 barrels per day (bpd), a far cry from a peak of 50,000 bpd reached in 1989.

Sinopec taps into Brazilian oil

Sinopec will buy 40 percent of Spanish oil giant Repsol's Brazilian subsidiary for $7.1 billion, heralding more expansion of energy-hungry China in Latin America, Sinopec said Wednesday on its website.

"The Sinopec Group believes that this transaction will further enable it to achieve its strategic objective to build a stronger presence and bolster operations in South America, accelerating its international growth strategy," Asia's second-largest oil firm said in the statement.

Ghana Lacks Capacity to Handle Risks Tied to Oil Production, Report Shows

Ghana’s main environmental agency may finish regulations for the country’s nascent energy industry by 2012, as a government report showed the body is unprepared to manage the risks associated with oil production.

An Oil-Thirsty America Barreled Into 'Dead Sea'

Congress was still convulsed over the Exxon-Valdez oil spill on Dec. 6, 1989, when Shell Oil flashed an announcement that would revolutionize American energy policy: The Anglo-Dutch giant had hit oil—a lot of oil—nearly 3,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

The bulletin on the Auger Field discovery marked the start of a rush into the Gulf's deep waters. At the time it looked as if the Gulf might be a magic-bullet solution to America's energy and national-security needs.

Gulf Coast attorneys to lead U.S. oil spill lawsuits

WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) - Four attorneys from Texas, Louisiana and Florida were appointed on Friday to a committee to lead the hundreds of oil spill-related lawsuits against BP Plc and its partners, according to court documents.

The committee will coordinate the activities of the 15-member plaintiffs' steering committee that was also appointed on Friday by Judge Carl Barbier.

Tony Hayward was honourable – and largely right

At a convivial meeting of oil industry experts in Dubai this week, one topic got the post-lunch conversation flowing: the fate, and the faults, of Tony Hayward, BP's former chief executive.

Contractor: Activity on busy rig obscured key data

METAIRIE, La. — Workers had difficulty monitoring key data during a critical time in the final hour before the Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion because so many activities were happening at once, a contractor said Friday.

Spill fund legal fees so far: $2.5 million

Kenneth Feinberg and his law firm have been paid more than $2.5 million in 3 ½ months to administer the $20  billion fund set up by BP to compensate victims of its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP signs Caspian Sea deal with Socar

BP has signed a production sharing agreement with the Azeri national petroleum company Socar to explore and develop a virgin deepwater oil and gas prospect in the Caspian sea.

The deal is the first signed by BP's new chief executive, Bob Dudley, who took over from Tony Hayward on October 1. It indicates that the company is intent on expanding its footprint in the eastern hemisphere after its disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which may have diminished its development prospects in the West.

Gunmen torch 29 more NATO oil tankers in Pakistan

QUETTA, Pakistan – Gunmen armed with a rocket torched 29 NATO oil tankers in southwestern Pakistan before dawn Saturday, the latest attack on the supply line for international troops in Afghanistan since Pakistani authorities closed a key border crossing amid a dispute with the United States.

MSHA: Massey Cited for Serious Violations in W.Va.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A surprise inspection has turned up serious safety violations that could have caused an explosion at another Massey Energy Co. coal mine in West Virginia, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration said Thursday.

Inspectors caught Massey illegally cutting too deeply into the coal seam at its Seng Creek Powellton Mine about 40 miles south of Charleston in Boone County, the agency said. A foreman also admitted skipping mandatory tests for explosive gases, and inspectors caught Massey cutting coal with ventilation curtains rolled up and left out of the way, MSHA said. The curtains help flush away methane and coal dust, which can ignite and cause explosions.

Chinese firms agree to explore coal block in Queensland

An agreement to explore and develop an Australian coal project was signed Saturday by China Coal Geology Engineering Corporation (CCGEGC) and Wanbei Coal-Electricity Group Co., Ltd. in Hefei, capital of east China's Anhui Province.

The partners will carry out a five-year exploration and development venture in the Wallumbilla exploration block, which covers 924 square kilometers in Queensland's Surat Basin, according to the agreement.

Peru announces Petrobras confirms natural gas find

Peruvian President Alan Garcia says Brazil's state oil and gas giant Petrobras has confirmed finding 1.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in southeastern Peru.

Garcia says the gas will be for local consumption and should be enough to supply southern Peru for 20 years, driving down electricity prices for the region's residents.

China considers to charge residential use of electricity on progressive basis

China's top economic planner said Saturday that it had started to seek the public views on its intentions to change the way residential electricity use is charged.

A tiered electricity pricing mechanism for residents would help save energy and protect the environment without causing a marked increase in the cost of power for the majority, an official of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) told Xinhua.

Jamaica must seek other energy sources by 2015

DR Raymond Wright, consultant to the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), has cautioned that Jamaica will seriously have to turn to renewable energy as its main source of electricity by 2015 when the price of gas is expected to increase significantly.

Wright, speaking at the Lions Club of Kingston luncheon at the Jamaica Pegasus on Wednesday, said that Jamaica's dependence on oil is presently around 91 per cent with a consumption rate of about 60,000 barrels of oil per day.

However, he said that based upon expert predictions, oil production is expected to peak in terms of its availability between 2015 to 2020, when oil resources gradually will begin to deplete and will result in a considerable increase in the price of oil.

E&ETV Spotlights ASPO-USA's Warnings on Peak Oil

Baldauf discussed policy options for addressing a peak and ways to minimize the impact of a shrinking energy supply. He also emphasized that the debate over peak oil is over. "Peak oil is a theory the way gravity is a theory," Baldauf said.

"Peak oil is a finite resource," stated Baldauf. "Any finite resource has a beginning, a middle, and an end. We're not saying that we're out of oil. We're saying that we're about halfway out of it. There's still oil in the ground, but it's going to be more difficult, more costly to acquire from this point on," Baldauf said, adding that "we are already feeling the impact of peak oil." The recession has masked some of its effects, he said, but "even in the middle of this recession, oil is at $83 a barrel this morning. It was in 2005 that oil topped $50 barrel for the first time."

Peak Oil Theory, Data and DC Convention Deserve Our Attention

Jim Baldauf, president of a cutting-edge energy group, began its briefing at the National Press Club Oct. 7 by citing the BP Gulf oil disaster, drought in Russia at up to 130 degrees, and massive flood-devastation in Pakistan as evidence that this is the worst year for the environment in recent history.

"I would submit," he said, "that all of these tragedies are due to Peak Oil. Peak Oil will affect every aspect of our life."

Are Technological Solutions to Peak Oil Possible?

But really, what is the fundamental internal problem for humans? It is that our lifestyles and the way society is organized needs to change, and these changes don’t look appealing to us.

ASPO-USA Peak Oil Conference

A conference such as this one should be a pre-requisite — a 101 class for the handful of anti-peak hacks that can't tell the difference between easy-to-get-to and hard-to-get-to oil.

Jim Cramer might find a conference like this worthwhile.

Reality TV vs. Real TV: Houston, We Have a Problem Debuts Saturday

We all know that reality TV is as real as vampires walking among us and UFO’s buzzing the White House. We may want the undead to suck our blood, but sorry folks, it ain’t gonna happen.

In another sense, however, our blood is being sucked dry by Big Oil, and Planet Green explores that topic with their latest Reel Impact production, Houston, We Have a Problem.

$32 billion dedicated to energy projects nationally

The Obama administration and Congressional supporters dedicated $32 billion nationally through the U.S. Department of Energy for energy efficiency, environmental cleanups, modernizing the electric grid, carbon capture and storage, transportation, science and innovation and renewable energy.

Connecticut was awarded $297.3 million for projects and clean energy tax programs. Here are the allocations across five other states in the Journal Register Company's coverage area:

Constellation pulls out of EDF reactor project

France’s nuclear industry suffered another blow on Saturday when Constellation Energy, the US utility, pulled out of the project to build a new generation EPR reactor at its Calvert Cliffs power plant in Maryland.

Vt. Yankee tritium found in well tied to aquifer

MONTPELIER, Vt. - Radioactive tritium that's leaked from the Entergy Corp.-owned Vermont Yankee nuclear plant has turned up for the first time in a former drinking water well tied to a deep underground aquifer.

OK for E15 likely, but drivers may not notice

Motorists may notice little difference at the pumps even though federal regulators are expected to approve the 15 percent blend of ethanol gasoline, or E15, this month.

That's because the E15 approval may be conditional, for car models 2007 or newer. The majority of the 270 million-car fleet in the United States would still be limited to the current 10 percent blend.

That would mean retailers face difficult decisions about spending money for new dispensers and tanks for E15, especially when they would still need their current E10 pumps.

Papandreou Sees Greek Revival in Green Energy on Prison Island

While Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou focuses on fixing his country’s economic crisis, his vision of the future centers on a small, remote Aegean island once used as a place of exile for political prisoners.

A year after winning power and inheriting a country mired in the red, Papandreou is turning back to an election pledge to go green. The idea is to use Greece’s sun and wind to help propel an economy that required a 110 billion-euro ($153 billion) bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund this year.

South Africa to Halve Coal Use by 2030, Turn to Nuclear, Business Day Says

South Africa’s government unveiled a plan that calls for the country’s reliance on coal to be cut by almost half by 2030 and for the use of nuclear energy to be more than doubled, Business Day reported.

The 20-year electricity plan also proposes a “significant” increase in the use of renewable energies, the Johannesburg-based newspaper said, citing the Department of Energy.

TVA adding wind energy in deal with Kansas farm

The Tennessee Valley Authority has agreed to buy wind-generated power from a planned 111-turbine operation in Kansas, on top of earlier announced contracts for Midwest wind to possibly power hundreds of thousands of homes.

TVA has agreed to buy up to 201 megawatts of renewable energy from the wind farm in Elk County, Kan.

Feds offer $1.3 billion loan guarantee for major Ore. wind farm

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Energy on Friday offered support for a major wind energy project planned for the Columbia Plateau in Eastern Oregon.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the department was offering to guarantee $1.3 billion of the financing for the $2 billion Caithness Energy LLC Shepherds Flat project.

FAA issues fire warning for lithium batteries

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators on Friday urged airlines to take additional care handling the burgeoning airborne shipments of lithium batteries in the wake of a fire that downed a UPS jet last month in the United Arab Emirates.

Lithium, the metal used to make the batteries of choice for electronic devices, can trigger furious fires and explosions and does not respond to traditional fire extinguishers, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said its latest tests show.

Change To River's Flow Considered To Stop Carp

The advance of the invasive Asian carp up the Illinois River and into a canal leading toward Lake Michigan is leading many in the Great Lakes region to consider whether the man-made waterways connecting the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds should be cut off.

Public officials in the Great Lakes states, including Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, say the time has come to consider re-reversing the flow of the Chicago River and closing off the canals linking it to the Illinois and Mississippi rivers.

Hungary Evacuates Town, Says New Sludge Leak Likely

(Bloomberg) -- Hungarian authorities evacuated a village near the red sludge reservoir that burst this week, killing at least seven people, as Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the walls of the impoundment are likely to collapse.

Kolontar, a town of 800 people 160 kilometers (100 miles) southwest of Budapest, was emptied today after further signs of damage to the reservoir, Gyorgy Bakondi, head of Hungary’s emergency services, said on the department’s website.

An ‘Every Village,’ Awash in Misery

What made this disaster so frightening for many was not its geographical scope, but that the pollution was, well, so viscerally stunning. It flowed through people’s front doors! And the village of Kolontar seemed like an Every Village many of us could easily identify with, with daily lives driven by routines like driving to work, taking the kids to school, mowing the lawn, uncorking a bottle of wine over dinner with friends.

Vanishing world of the last Arctic hunters

The one-price policy that used to operate across Greenland, effectively subsidising the more remote settlements, has also been abolished, and the cost of living has rocketed.

Local people believe the Government, which has self-rule within Denmark's small commonwealth, has a hidden agenda to force out the people living in the most remote communities, creating three or four urban centres in Greenland and thus reducing the burdensome cost of servicing such isolated settlements.

Chevron's Gorgon LNG Project Recognized For Carbon Capture Plan

PERTH -(Dow Jones)- Chevron Corp. said Saturday that its A$2 billion plan to reinject millions of tons of carbon dioxide below its Gorgon liquefied natural gas venture has been formally recognised by a multination carbon capture group.

Gorgon was acknowledged by the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum at its annual meeting Friday in Warsaw, Chevron said in a statement.

Carbon-Cutting ‘Party’ Set for Sunday

But even as many policymakers now view halting carbon dioxide levels at 450 p.p.m as an ambitious if perhaps unrealistic goal, one leading climate activist group continues to make returning carbon levels to 350 p.p.m. its raison d’être.

The group, called 350.org, staged an international climate change rally last October that Foreign Policy magazine called “the largest ever coordinated rally of any kind,” with more than 5,000 events in 181 countries.

10 Ways to Celebrate 10/10/10

How to bring this weekend’s global work party to your town.

Australia Should Reduce Energy Intensity 30% by 2020, Gillard Study Says

Australia should target a 30 percent improvement in energy intensity by 2020, according to a government report released today by Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Task Group on Energy Efficiency.

The study reinforces the government’s climate change strategy and the need for a price on carbon, Gillard said in a statement.

China Spurns Pledges in Climate-Change Pact, U.S. Says

(Bloomberg) -- China is ignoring pledges made under a global-warming accord reached last year after a face-to-face meeting between President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, the chief U.S. climate negotiator said.

Chinese officials have acted as though the agreement “never happened,” Todd Stern, U.S. special envoy for climate change, said in a speech today at the University of Michigan Law School at Ann Arbor. China in December agreed to the Copenhagen Accord, a non-binding pact that aims to limit emissions blamed for global warming, he said.

China and US blame each other in climate stand-off

TIANJIN, China (AFP) – The United States and China clashed on the final day of climate change talks on Saturday, accusing each other of blocking progress ahead of a major summit next month on global warming.

The world's two biggest greenhouse gas polluters sparred throughout the six days of United Nations talks in China, triggering anger from environmentalists who said countries were acting in self-interest and not to save the planet.

Mayor seeks to rally Mexicans around climate change

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - People in Mexico City, like those in the world's other big cities, typically complain about traffic and crime, but their mayor is seeking to rally support around what he sees as a far bigger menace: climate change.

Officials in Mexico, as in other developing countries, are trying to balance the fight against global warming with efforts to combat poverty and grow the economy, issues that can make or break their political fortunes.

Reversing climate change: Is charcoal the answer?

It's black, it's gritty, it's essential for barbecues -- and it just might save the world from global warming.

Biochar, a kind of charcoal that is rich in carbon, traps CO2 from the atmosphere and can store it in soils for hundreds to thousands of years, says Professor Nathan Basiliko, a soil scientist at U of T Mississauga's Department of Geography. Now, Basiliko and colleagues in the Faculty of Forestry are poised to demonstrate that wood waste from Ontario's forest industry could be used to produce energy and biochar, making the wood a truly carbon-negative biofuel.

The Last U.N. Climate Extravaganza?

Now many are wondering whether the process itself, under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, is so flawed that it should be scrapped. Is it realistic to expect that 200 nations with vastly different interests, from China to Saudi Arabia to Bolivia to Micronesia, can come together to address a problem that will affect them in vastly different ways? Is there a better way to attack a global problem largely caused by a handful of large industrialized countries?

Should the next so-called “conference of the parties” be the last?

Freeze the Arctic now!

IF WE didn't already have the phrase ''cold war'', we'd have to invent it to describe the power struggle taking place for Arctic Ocean resources.

Companies such as BP and OAO Gazprom are readying themselves for the last great energy frontier. Russia, the US, Canada and Iceland are vying for control of the wealth and power that exploitation of the Arctic will create.

It is all madness. Trying to bring the frozen wastelands around the North Pole into the global economy involves two huge risks: catastrophic climate change, and a major war.

Global warming may weaken China's plantation industry: report

The capacity of China's plantation industry might decline as a result of global warming, according to a report released during a new round of UN climate talks being held in north China's Tianjin Municipality from Oct. 4 to 9.

If no proper measures were taken, the capacity of China's plantation industry might decline by 5 to 10 percent by 2030, characterized by a reduction in the output of wheat, rice and corn, said the report, released by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and several other organizations during the conference.

Freshwater Flow Into Oceans Steadily Rising

Between 1994 and 2006, the scientists measured an 18% increase in freshwater discharge into the oceans. The source of that water included river runoff and melting ice caps. It averaged out to an additional 540 cubic kilometers of water per year.

'Water mining' is now a prime culprit for raising sea levels

A new study shows that global warming is not the only cause of swelling seas. Much comes from "water mining" – the pumping of vast amounts of groundwater from beneath the earth, mainly to irrigate crops. This inevitably ends up in the oceans after it evaporates from farmland and comes down as rain.

News is hitting the wires this morning that the rescue shaft has reached the miners in Chile. Now they need to decide whether to line the shaft before they attempt to bring anyone in or out...

RE: A Pipeline Problem in Alaska?

It looks like the 500 kbd minimum may be reached sooner than 2015 by the EIA figures. Seems a little late to form a commission to study it.

Slope of the flow/year line indicates the flow rate to hit 500k barrels in 2013.

But as northern latitudes get warmer, maybe the flow of oil need not be 500k. Although rising temps may be advantages in keeping the oil flowing, the permafrost melting would cause other problems for the pipeline.

2013 or 2015? does it really make a difference? There is no doubt about where this line is pointing and development is slowing.

The simple fix is more oil. But the search for new wells has slowed since 2007, when Sarah Palin approved a steep tax on oil production. BP cut its local development budget by 30 percent; Shell drilled five exploratory wells on the North Slope this past summer (compared with 22 last year); and for the first time since Alaskan statehood, ConocoPhillips canceled all such drilling.


Once upon a time Prudhoe Bay and Gulf of Mexico came by and slowed decline and even reversed it for a few years. This time they are at risk to do the opposite then mostly needed. Huge budget deficit, increasing demand from Chindia and with or without peak oil there might be a problem anyway.

Well in one sense, yes we all know where it is going in the long run, assuming you believe in Peak Oil. In the short run (like my lifetime, and maybe my kids) it could make a big difference. This gets into the whole argument about whether PO means falling of a cliff, or a more gradual decline. There are big implications either way one argues that question.

Also note that the Newsweek article is full of typical MSM bullshit. It says the current flow in TAPS is 700,000 gallons, when they should say barrels. Shell hasn't drilled ANY wells in Alaska in quite a long time. I think they are referreing to ConocoPhillips. Not sure about the BP development budget, my recolloction is that it has been more or less flat for the last couple of years. I will have to check, but a 30% cut sounds bogus. As I pointed out in another post, BP is going ahead with Liberty, spending a substantial chunk of change. Likewise Exxon at Pt. Thomson, and Shell in the Beaufort Sea (assuming the feds allow it).

Again, I'm not suggesting that Alaska production isn't in decline or that TAPS doesn't have serious long term issues. But it is useful to keep grounded in reallity. How, and how fast we get from here to whatever is ahead of us makes a lot of difference to a lot of people. To the extent that we might be able to mitigate the transition (in whatever small way), these discussions are useful.

20 years make a difference but not two.

20 years make a difference but not two.

Yeah...but I've been to this movie before. I can recall back in the late '80s or early '90s hearing a senior ARCO exec telling us that that TAPS might be shutting down by around 2000 or so. Hmmmm....seems like we are a bit beyond that already?

The point being, that things are never as simple as they seem. As I and several other posts have indicated, the minimum to keep TAPS going may be (or is probably?) considerably below the quoted 500,000 bbls/day. Oil price, oil gravity, modifications to the pipeline...lots of things come into play beyond just throughput.

Again, I'm not saying that TAPS throughput isn't a big issue, or that TAPS will go on forever. I am saying there is good reason to be highly skeptical of the 500,000 bbl/day and/or 2015 time frame for TAPS shutdown. I don't know about twenty years, but I'm pretty sure it will be significantly more that two.

"Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future."
-Attributed to Niels Bohr (among others).

From Yesterday's Drumbeat, but it drew no comments:

Question to Dr. Schlesinger: "Do you think Obama knows about peak oil?"

Response: "There are mysteries in politics (deftly deflecting the question)...if a politician like Dr. Chu (Secretary of Energy) were to discuss oil publicly the stock market would crash."

The more I think about it the more I am sure it will be a fast crash. Once Peak Oil becomes an accepted fact we will have the mother of all stock market crashes. Peak oil means declining energy... forever. Peak Oil means industry, thus the stock market, must shrink... forever. People invest for growth not for shrinkage. Once shrinkage becomes an accepted fact then everyone will exit the market. That means the end of the debt based economy. Total collapse will soon follow.

Ron P.

That was the same thinking I was doing in the shower this morning. I have been a trend setter among my peers since the age of 7 and I stopped investing in the stock market last year. I cannot imagine ever investing in it again. If most folks followed what would happen? Would all corporations automatically be disbanded?

Before the dips of 2000 I got out, I got out again in 2005, but both of those times I was losing a job and my 401K was cashed out and I lived off the juggling off issues I had done and the savings I had maxed on during the build up. I never thought about it as a savings plan for my retirement, but as a savings plan for job loss.

Otherwise I would not hae played the market as it were with extra money. My Tax bite has never been high enough to have hurt me in taking those early withdrawals.

But then again, I knew where the markets were going because I did my homework, and I've always lived on the lower side of the income brackets never really worried about how much I did not have, at least when I was living alone. When you have a family you sometimes can't make them see that they did not have to worry, maybe next wife will be less of a worry wart.

On one hand I see a bright future, on the other I see burning side streets and riots. Both tend toward that brightness so what am I seeing might or might not be what you want to have happen in your neck of the world.

I am figuring that if the world is still here in 20 years so will I be, though I can't say for sure in what sort of condition I'll be in, besides, not worried for myself, I'll get by on little or nothing much. It is everyone else I'd like to help be in the same boat.

BioWebScape desgins for a better fed and housed world, even if the rainwater off your tent/hut feeds your crops.

Dr. Chu did speak publicly about Peak oil. He just wasn't the Secretary of Energy at the time. I'm sure his views have not changed. Slides from a speech he have in 2005 (look at slides 15 & 16):


That is a good find! Thanks!

If the price of oil keeps rising (as is likely) and the price of natural gas stays low, (as seems likely), then maybe it is worth revisiting the concept of a gas to liquids project for the North Slope.

This will turn a low value, stranded product into a high value transportable one, will make not only make use of the existing pipeline, but actually be enough to keep it in operation even if conventional oil goes below 300kbp, and it avoids the need to build a $20bn new gas pipeline.

Such a plant might also be designed to eventually have another front end to do coal to liquids, Alaska has plenty of that too...


Is it possible to convert the 48" oil pipeline to carry gas, and construct say a 24" to carry the oil? I would have thought the normal operating pressures would be approx the same. That way either LNG to Asia or California, or continue the 48" down the Alaskian Hwy to the lower 48.
I have never seen this idea put forward but seems an economical way to kill two birds!

What would they do with the gas in Valdez? No where to put it when they get it there. And a new pipeline would be extremely expensive, not profitable for a swiftly declining oil field. I doubt that it would be economical, especially when the current pipeline will likely be used until production is down to 200,000 barrels per day.

Ron P.


By using the oil pipeline you have the option of turning it into LNG for the world (China) market or the US domestic market. With the Jones Act and the low price of the gas in the lower 48, it will most likely be priced out of the US market in the short term, but would be available if the Shale gas thing falls down and prices rise.

The other option, and the most likely more acceptable to the US population would be to continue the line down the Alaskian Hwy. This is one of the optionial routes that is already on the books, but by using an already built pipeline of the approximate size required must surely lower its cost.

The current northern oilfields are doing a lot of gas reinjection, stripping the liquids and reinjecting the gas. As oil production declines this recycling of the gas increases as the oil content falls. If they had an out let for the gas, not only would they be making money on selling the gas, they would also be saving the cost of reinjection, including the further investment to increase capacity due to the rising gas content of the produced fluids.

I am not a pipeline man, though I do work in the industry, but I do believe smaller pipelines over existing rights of way would be significantly cheaper, than a large pipeline over virgin country. By going to the 24" for oil, this would have a quarter the capacity of the current 48" line which did carry 2mm bbl/day at there peak. So the 24" should be full at 500bbl /day and would still be usable down to just over 100bbl/day, and therefore could still be usefull during the slow long decline, probably to the point that if it got too low, it would be low enough to be supported by 2 phase flow throught the gas line which is possible with correct the ratio oil to gas at a given velocity.

Another side line advantage is Anchorage could also be supplied by gas, which it is currently in need off.

Well, I have heard no talk about doing anything like that and I would suspect that there is a very good reason why. But I would like to point out that reinjected gas is not a wasted expense. It keeps the pressure up in the reservoir. If they did not reinject the gas they would have to find other means to keep the pressure up which would likely be much more expensive than just reinjecting the gas. And, after the oil is gone they still have the option of recovering the gas if they ever figure out how to get it south of Alaska.

Also an LNG plant and port would cost a lot of money. That would be in addition to the cost of the pipeline. You are talking billions and billions of dollars here. Economics is what it is all about.

Ron P.

From Toolpush:

The current northern oilfields are doing a lot of gas reinjection, stripping the liquids and reinjecting the gas. As oil production declines this recycling of the gas increases.... If they had an out let for the gas, not only would they be making money on selling the gas, they would also be saving the cost of reinjection, including the further investment to increase capacity due to the rising gas content of the produced fluids.

From Darwinian:

....that reinjected gas is not a wasted expense. It keeps the pressure up in the reservoir. If they did not reinject the gas they would have to find other means to keep the pressure up which would likely be much more expensive than just reinjecting the gas.

A couple of comments. Nearly all of the gas is reinjected, except a small amount used for local fuel in the fields. Gas handling capacity is a major constraint on oil production, especially at Prudhoe. I've heard it claimed that many Prudhoe "oil wells" would in other areas be considered gas wells that make some oil. However, as Darwinian points out, pressure support is critical. Besides reinjecting gas, there are major water flood programs in various parts of the field. Even with both, pressue still keeps slowly dropping.

My understanding is that once major gas sales start from Prudhoe, oil production will end very quickly (couple of years?) in most parts of the field. Start gas sales too soon, and you will leave a lot of oil in the ground. Both the State regulatory agencies and the field owners have put a lot of effort into modelling, trying to get a handle on the economic cross over point.

I seem to remember hearing the question asked somewhere about converting TAPS to carry gas, and the answer was that it isn't technically feasible. However, my aging brain can't recall what the reason was. We need to find a pipeline guy for that story.

It can probably continue to operate with less than 500Kbpd. However, they'll use this as an excuse to open up ANWR.

And they should go ahead and open up ANWR now. Just make sure the government gets a major slice. Make the amount tied to the current market price of oil. And use the money to either pay down the debt or fund alternative energy programs.

Relatively clean oil from ANWR is just replaced by dirtier oil from the Canadian oil sands, so ANWR oil would actually be better for the environment than that. And opening ANWR will shut up the idiots who think the price of oil being high is some liberal conspiracy due to ANWR being off-limits.

The flow is only 25% of what it was in 1990, yet my search of news.google.com could only find this story in a mainstream online press article. Nothing on ABC, CBS, CNN, etc.

"Oil is drying up -- and we should be very worried"

"Alaska -- and the nation -- should be worried about how much oil is flowing through the trans-Alaska oil pipeline. The line is operating two-thirds empty, and the flow is dropping by 6 percent a year. Grim reality lurks just around the corner."

Yet, even this article only mentions the current flow, but makes no mention of what it used to be.

Okay, pipeline experts, help me out here.

If I understand correctly, the issue is one of oil temperature. The oil comes out of the ground warm (~120 F according to Wikipedia) and slowly loses heat en route to Valdez. The rate of heat loss is both a function of ambient conditions (colder in winter) and flow rate (the lower the flow, the greater the temperature drop). The oil can't be permitted to get too cold, otherwise it becomes too viscous and no longer flows properly.

The pipeline relies on ~11 pumping stations to keep the oil moving along the line. It would seem that it would be a relatively simple matter to install heaters (say, heat exchangers powered by combusting natural gas) at some or all of these stations. The value of the natural gas that would be required to boost the oil temperature by a few tens of degrees would be trivial compared to the value of the oil itself, making it a clear economic winner. And, by all accounts, the North Slope has lots of gas.

This doesn't seem that hard. Am I missing something?

ST - Off the topof my head two factors: first, there are no NG pipelines running to the pump stations and, second, the capex to institute your plan. I have no idea how much it would cost (including the NG pipelines) but I suspect it's rather large. And the larger the capex the longer the payout which plays agaisnt the economic life of the project.

Link up top: A Pipeline Problem in Alaska?

Despite the capacity to carry 2 million barrels a day, the pipeline’s current flow is less than 700,000 gallons and falling at least 6 percent a year.

The average Alaskan production for the first 8 months of 2010 has been 595,000 barrels per day. That is a 7 percent drop from the average for the first 8 months of last year, (640,000 bp/d). If this trend continues then they will drop below 500,000 bp/d early in 2013, a full two years before ConocoPhillips prediction. But for the four maintenance months, May, June, July and August, they will drop below the half million bp/d threshold in the summer of 2012.

Ron P.

Edit: Sorry Goghgoner but I was typing while you were posting, else I would have posted this as a reply to your post.

Edit: "Sorry Goghgoner but I was typing while you were posting, else I would have posted this as a reply to your post."

I encountered the same problem. Is the 500.000 barrel figure scientifically accurate or could there be an element of anti-tax and pro-drilling propaganda?

Who knows? Pipeline operators go with the flow

That's been a key piece of information in the oil tax battles in the Legislature, as tax cut advocates have said the pipeline will have to close within 10 years unless the decline is stemmed. They urge tax cuts as an incentive for the oil companies to boost the flow above a claimed 300,000 barrel per day minimum.

State officials say they expect the pipeline to remain in service for decades more, with a minimum flow of between 100,000 and 200,000 barrels per day.

Ron P.

I suppose it is just a coincidence that the EIA North Slope graph cuts off at 500kbd. I did get a chuckle out of it.

USA Today story about the pipeline leak in 2007 >

BP spill highlights aging oil field's increasing problems

Repairing the pipeline won't be half as hard as repairing BP's image. Officials are sanguine. Nothing, they say, is fundamentally wrong.

"Sometimes bad things happen to good companies," says Copeland, a 22-year BP veteran.

I commented on this a few times in the past. For those who didn't see it, here is my take (with some updates and revisisions):

I feel strongly that ConocoPhillips and Mr. Meyers are presenting an excessively worst case scenario in order to influence the oil tax debate in the Alaska legislature. In another article I believe Meyers was also quoted as suggesting TAPS could shut down as early as 2015. I think this is rather unlikely.

In the past, I've been told that the minimum technical flow to allow operation of TAPS is somewhere around 300,000 bbl/day. In a 2007 DOE report Alaska North Slope Oil and Gas
A Promising Future or an Area in Decline?
(see page 3-2) they refer to a minimum technical limit of about 200,000 bbl/day. The actual economic limit is no doubt higher, but is dependent on lots of other factors such as oil price. But 500,000 seems rather pessimistic.

In the second place, the other major oil companies operating on the slope have sanctioned some very expensive projects that probably won't come on line until circa 2015 or later. For example, BP is going full speed ahead with their Liberty project. The latest I've heard is that they won't start drilling their first well until mid 2011. This will be a cuttings disposal well that also provides as shakedown for their brand new rig, custom built to drill ultra extended reach wells. The actual production wells (5 plus one injector) will take around 180 days each to drill. Thus it would seem that they won't achieve full productions (~40,000 bopd) before 2014 or so. Likewise, Exxon apparently is resolving its issues with the state regarding Pt Thomson, and now expects to start produceing 10,000 bbl/day of condensate (cycling gas) by about 2014 from Pt Thomson. Note that this additional production will at least slightly mitigate the decline from the other fields.

The point of this is that I have not heard any sense of exteme panic from BP or Exxon that TAPS would shut down just as these multi million dollar projects came on line. Remember that both BP and Exxon, because of overlapping ownership in Prudhoe, Kuparuk, and other fields, have access to all the same data on production trends on the slope. I find it hard to believe that BP or Exxon wouldn't be raising holy hell if they were worried that they would have no pipeline in 2015 to take that oil to market. I do get a sense of serious long range concern about TAPS, but not the kind of fear mongering that Conoco is engaging in.

You need to be aware that "ACES" (Alaska Clear and Equitable Share) is VERY unpopular with the big oil co's. This was the tax scheme pushed through by Palin when she was governor. (The "Drill Baby Drill" version of Palin didn't emerge until she became a national candidiate.) With an election for governor and many legislators in a few weeks, big oil is making a concerted push to change the oil tax structure in Alaska. I think Conoco is pushing an absolute worst case scenario for TAPS in order to influence this debate. The problem with ACES is that it cuts into the upside for oil companies when oil prices go up. For one take on ACES see Alaska's oil and gas production tax severely limits upside profit potential .

One positive aspect of ACES is that it has helped to bring a number of much smaller companies into Alaska. Outfits like Brooks Range Petroleum are drilling up small features on the edge of Prudhoe and Kuparuk. Savant has taken over Badami and is trying to make it work. Renaissance has shot a 3D at Umiat (70-150 million bbls discovered by the Navy in 1947 but never developed) and is looking for partners. This is in significant part due to the exploration tax credit feature of ACES. Back when I first came up here, there were only 2 1/2 games in town. Either you worked for ARCO or BP on the North Slope, or Unocal in Cook Inlet. Having more players in Alaska is definately a positive developement in my opinion.

I don't mean to suggest that these little guys are going to save TAPS all by themselves, but any additional production does help extend the life of TAPS, however incrementally. The big co's (Exxon, BP, COP) seem more hurt by the tax features of ACES, and less helped by the exploration tax credit. I also suspect they consider the small companies as a nuisiance.

So yes, there is a serious issue with TAPS, but IMHO it's highly unlikely to shut down in five years. In ten years or so,yes, it could happen. That's my impression from up here in the frozen north.

There is no ice off Prudhoe Bay right now. Maybe the ice is thin enough in the winter for this oil idea to work.

A Submarine Ice Breaker for Arctic Oil

CARB goofs again: The Californication of diesel.

California grossly miscalculated pollution levels in a scientific analysis used to toughen the state's clean-air standards, and scientists have spent the past several months revising data and planning a significant weakening of the landmark regulation, The Chronicle has found.

The pollution estimate in question was too high - by 340 percent, according to the California Air Resources Board, the state agency charged with researching and adopting air quality standards. The estimate was a key part in the creation of a regulation adopted by the Air Resources Board in 2007, a rule that forces businesses to cut diesel emissions by replacing or making costly upgrades to heavy-duty, diesel-fueled off-road vehicles used in construction and other industries.


Since CARB approved its regulation Midwest corn ethanol producers have been concerned about the future of the ethanol market in California.

Nebraska TV, http://dld.bz/…, reported Thursday that Nebraska ethanol producers have previously relied heavily on the California market.

However, with the new regulation in place producers have stepped up ethanol exports.


CARB bases its decisions on faulty data and models heavily influenced by politics. They do not explain how the pollution supposedly created by ILUC gets to California for example. If the pollution occurs in another hemisphere separated by the tropical convergence zone and is highly unlikely to reach California, why is it a factor in CARB decision making? If California is going to regulate the world, shouldn't the world have some representation on the CARB? Perhaps the CARB is now omnipotent as well as omniscient?

Following that logic Chinese pollution should be a factor when goods from that country are imported into California, but the CARB couldn't care less. Chinese pollution is more likely to reach California than pollution in Brazil. In any case, assigning Brazilian pollution from supposed ILUC to Nebraskan ethanol instead of Brazilian ethanol is such a leap that it boggles the mind.

The sad thing is that CARB decisions affect other states. Nebraska exporting corn ethanol is as stupid as stupid can get but that is what will happen if this rogue organization is not stopped.

When Nebraskan ethanol gets to Brazil, there is nothing to prevent it from being relabeled as Brazilian ethanol and sent to California to meet CARB standards.

People are leaving California in droves as its economy collapses. CARB does not take this economic collapse into consideration when calculating pollution. Economic collapse means less use of energy and therefore less pollution. Instead CARB adheres to a growth/BAU model and accelerates the collapse with its faulty decisions.

"People are leaving California in droves as its economy collapses"

Don't I wish. It was pretty nice when only 6 million people lived here.

1990 29,760,021
2000 33,871,648
2009 36,961,664

2008 36,756,666
2007 36,553,215
2006 36,458,000

I fail to see the downturn.

"They do not explain how the pollution supposedly created by ILUC gets to California for example."

It's all one planet.

"shouldn't the world have some representation on the CARB"
In the words of he who thinks he will be speaker, "Hell no, they shouldn't". I prefer the so-called "eff word", mice elf.

The people with wealth are leaving, you still get the poor coming to California.

Yeah. They closed down Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Google, Intel, AMD, and Apple all went out of business.


Multiple firms, including Google, just opened new offices in Utah and are moving significant numbers of employees out of state as well. You have 3 years of declining population in California when other states are still rising. You have a state that is starting to "pre-collect" taxes, in desperation rather than address structural underlying budget issues. California is not flat on its back, yet, but the signs around any rational Californian should be obvious, if they simply choose to see.

The thing I find most fascinating is the way that news stories coming out of California nowadays echo news stories coming out of what's now the Rust Belt in the 1970s. There's the same political gridlock, the same souring of the business climate, the same mismatch between spending and income in the state government, and the same apparent failure to grasp that a region that's been at the top of the food chain for a while needn't stay there. I've begun to think that LA and San Francisco in the next decade may resemble nothing so much as Pittsburgh and Cleveland in the 1980s -- and this even aside from the impact of peak oil and the disintegration of the scaffolding of debt currently propping up the US economy.

I moved to California for college, stayed a few years, and coincidentally left the year Proposition 13 passed: 1978. It isn't the mismatch of spending and income in state government that's the problem: it's the mismatch in local government, with the cap on property taxes. The locals have thrown the burden to the state, and it's finally given in.

Prop 13 requires a two-thirds majority to increase state taxes. California's time in the sun was over the day it passed.

It's the root of all evils.

One of those poor bought my ma's house last year for 2 mil.

"The trans-Alaska Pipeline is the largest conduit of domestic oil, a funnel for crude from the North Slope’s Prudhoe Bay to the Port of Valdez. But the Prudhoe wells are drying up—and the prospect of replacing them appears ever more grim. Despite the capacity to carry 2 million barrels a day, the pipeline’s current flow is less than 700,000 gallons and falling at least 6 percent a year. Now its operators have commissioned a study to see how low the supply can get before crude freezes in transit. The most common estimate is about 500,000 barrels, a figure that ConocoPhillips recently predicted would be reached by 2015."

In the past I had seen estimates that the pipeline might freeze when the throughput fell to 300,000 barrels per day. The above report is a shocker. In the past the limited life of the pipeline was used to argue that if ANWR was to be explored and possibly developed, it would need to be done quickly. It may well be that ANWR will remain forever pristine.

On Jamaica must seek other energy sources by 2015, I seem to remember actually asking Dr. Raymond Wright a question related to Peak Oil, maybe three or four years ago and he seems to have changed his tune since then. IIRC it was the occasion of a seminar on a green paper on Jamaica's Energy Policy put on by the same state owned energy company that Dr. Wright is a consultant to. All I remember is him being rather dismissive of a near term peak, instead suggesting that world petroleum reserves were quite healthy. At the seminar, I got a copy his book titled "Jamaica's Energy, Old Prospects, New Resources' (ISBN 976-8139-68-4) originally written in 1996 that, I have only skimmed through but, have been unable to find any references to Peak Oil, declining world oil production etc. so, he might appear to be in the optimist camp.

On the other hand he spends most of his time in the book discussing renewables and alternatives, including efficiency/conservation while, he only spends one chapter (2) discussing the quest for oil in Jamaica (and it's territorial waters). It seems a little strange to see this apparent emphasis from someone who feels confident about the level of world oil supplies in the near to medium term. I also did not notice any discussion of natural gas as an alternative in his book although, he clearly sees it as an alternative now, at least in the short term. My how times have changed! He is now making public pronouncements that:

based upon expert predictions, oil production is expected to peak in terms of its availability between 2015 to 2020, when oil resources gradually will begin to deplete and will result in a considerable increase in the price of oil.

Maybe he always believed in a fairly near term peak but, when I raised the matter back then, he felt it was not the time to reveal his "dirty little secret"? He is beginning to sound a little more urgent now and rightly so. Since he is probably the island nation's leading energy expert hopefully some movers and shakers are listening.

Alan from the islands

Some more MP3s from the ASPO-USA conference today.

Tad Patzek on scaling energy options (9 MB)

Ken Zweibel on scaling solar (11 MB)

Hopefully no buzzing background today.

Ralph Nader just finished a rousing lunchtime talk that I couldn't record. More to come.

Thanks again! The buzzing is a bit annoying but anything is better than nothing.

Last month, energy consultant and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Daniel Yergin declared that shale gas was the most important development in the energy industry so far this century. Royal Dutch Shell's chief executive, Peter Voser, also told the World Energy Congress in Montreal that shale gas developments in B.C. exemplified a "natural gas supply revolution." Canada's ambassador to the U.S., Gary Doer, recently told a meeting of the Global Business Forum that when it came to shale gas "Get your running shoes on ... in terms of what that means for opportunities for all of us."

Shale gas might be the most important development in the energy industry so far this century but shale gas i only a part of the small part natural gas is accounting for. Compared to the development in coal and gas one or two centuries before it is very small.

The running shoes may still be useful and I think I have heard some predictions before from Daniel Yergin.

While China and the USA both now consume around 100 Quads of energy, by 2035 the US will increase demand to 115 Quads. China will increase power consumption, at present trends, to 180 Quads. They currently get:

* 62% of their energy from coal.
* 19% from oil.
* 10% from renewables.
* 5% from natural gas.
* 3% from nuclear.


Did anyone see the front page NYT article "Google Cars Drive themselves in Traffic" ?? It is about robotic cars that essentially require no driver. They are the invention of Stanford U professor Sebastian Thrun. His intentions are to save energy and reduce accidents.

But still----they are basically ordinary cars. I suppose a little energy could be saved, on the margin, from more efficient driving. To me it seems like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Also, is this product going to sell? Most people I know who drive love the feeling of power and control---they don`t have to tell me, I can see it on their faces. Men, especially, seem to get a kick out of driving. In fact, contemporary notions of masculinity seem to be linked very much to automobiles--- buying them, driving them, fixing them, selling them, talking about them.

I think that a male passenger in a robot car is just going to seethe when a human-driven car pulls ahead of him and the human driver gives a "I`m so superior to you !" glance down his nose at the poor robot car passenger, the poor idiot having the speed limit towed for him (it is programmed into the car). Probably the passenger will then abruptly seize the steering wheel of the robot car (thereby taking over the driving) and step on the gas pedal---vroooom!!---and utter a few choice and satisfying expletives out the window as he passes the first car.

This idea is another techofix that will not fix anything. Save energy? No, people want to use energy when driving to show they can. That is part of our self styling as a species. A robot car is like a dumb person`s design for a train.

But you have to admit that the concept of having 4000 lb vehicles piloted at 60 mph by the average citizen is terribly ill-conceived. There is no way such a thing would be permitted if you proposed it today.

Robot cars would be both safer and far more efficient. They could travel at an optimal, energy-saving speed and acceleration schedule. When you program your destination as you leave home for work, the car would communicate with overall traffic control, which would schedule your slot in the traffic flow on all roadways to your destination. If a jam-free path could not be found, your trip would start later, rather than having you sit in traffic jams.

The expense of traffic lights and traffic law enforcement could also be avoided.

Some of those benefits could be achieved without robot cars - an optimal energy saving speed just happens to be the speed limit - if everyone would accept speed limiters in their vehicles, which is far easier to implement than car-bots, there would be no problem here. Ditto for acceleration, it could limited to a minimum of 15s for 0 - that alone would save a lot of fuel.

There is no question a car-bot system would be safer and more efficient than what we have today, but it would be expensive.
Continuing with this thought experiment, it begs the question then whether personal vehicle ownership is even needed. It could be essentially a massive taxi system - but would need far fewer cars overall, and much less parking space too. Would also make possible a city wide car pooling system - you don;t have to car pool, but if you choose to do so,the control system will match someone else to your trip.
Such a system would actually integrate well with trains, because when you get off the train, there would be a car to take you to where you want to go - a better way than sitting in car-bot traffic jams. And same for inter-city travel too.

If you can;t drive your car, you probably don;t need to own it either- that would be the biggest benefit of such a system.

But i think, to steal a line from Charlton Heston, the only we will pry cars away from the majority of the populace is from their cold dead hands.

The main benefit would be in keeping cars moving at the speed limit, since in many metro areas cars move much more slowly than the speed limit in a pulsating stop and go fashion. This increases travel time and wastes fuel idling.

It would be similar to a massive taxi solution, except that if real taxi drivers were needed, the labor costs would make the system infeasible. So consider the alternative of automated taxis.

If the cars are not owned, then they need not pile up in huge fleets in parking lots during the day while their owners are at work. The cars can be dispatched to do other errands during the day. Cars parked for a 9 hour work day represent a huge amount of capital investment that is wasted.

It's not quite so simple to keep everything at the speed limit instead of pulsation - at grade intersections mean the flow has to be stopped at regular intervals. BUt it would make it easier to implement more one-way systems, get rid of left turns, etc etc.

A driverless, ownerless car system would be more efficient, though a well laid out train network would be better still.

When you program your destination as you leave home for work, the car would communicate with overall traffic control, which would schedule your slot in the traffic flow on all roadways to your destination.

Ah yes, I can envision the GPS spam now. Malicious broadcast would send your car to the nearest strip joint, or herbal viagra seller!

(No one envisioned all the email spam when it was invented, yet it now exists in abundance....)

Physical retribution would do for GPS spam in a hurry, I reckon.

There's no such possibility with e-mail spam.

Half the Trucks on the road, are almost robotic, in that they have controlers than do not let the driver mash the gas and vrooom anywhere. Those systems have been around a long time. Most truckers are fenced in, to what they can and can't do, they don't have a lot of free will as far as how long or where they can go, besides where they are supposed to go.

Control is not the issue here as far as energy is concerned, in lower energy usage. But rather, more control means less wrecks and less wrecks means less wasted energy of a lot of new cars needing to replace all the wrecked ones.

We are going toward more robotics in other systems, and we have the know how to make this a system wide thing. We would next push for more people per unit of car, so that a robotic car is more like a small train station to train station mover device, or home from the train station.

Also control does play a role in that the guy/gal who goes vroom is wasting a lot more energy, in their bad driving habits than you might think. Some of it is just general wear and tear on the car, that does not need to be there, but you need to be a disciplined driver. I was trained by a Drivers trainer, he just happened to also be my father, but control on the car is a good thing.

Sure I can drive like a bat out of hell and do things that most drivers would die trying, but that is not how I drive normally, and I don't get miffed at being scorned by others.

Part of your issue, is the issue of macho-ness needs to be toned down so that we live in a better world all around. I agree with you. I'd be cool for me to test out a robotic car, Half the fun of driving is the sight seeing I get to do when I don't ahve to think about driving.

I am macho enough, if I want speed I rock jump, or do something more dangerous than getting the speed out form behind the wheel of a car.


Automated vehicle control has been worked on since the 60s and always comes up against the Brick Wall Stop. For an automated vehicle to be safe, it has to be able to stop in time to avoid a hypothetical brick wall dropped into the road. Trains and transit systems are designed to do this.

For car traffic to move at current density, headways (time between two vehicles) have to be about 2 to 3 seconds. This is far shorter than what's needed for a Brick Wall Stop, but well within the capabilities of an attentive driver with average reflexes and a reasonably well maintained vehicle. Once you're relying on automated controls, it's not sufficient.


'Momentum builds for full moratorium on foreclosures'

Senior Obama administration officials said Friday that a nationwide moratorium on foreclosure sales may be inevitable, despite their grave reservations about the impact a broad freeze would have on the nation's housing market and economic recovery.

They can't be serious, right? Are things so bad the whole process of foreclosing needs to stop? Won't that cause ripples in the market? Won't property values remain low indefinitely? What happens to the people that fail to make their payments - is it added on to the total loan to be repaid?

If you've been following this story, the problem is that a lot of the documents on the lenders' side are, at best, flawed, and at worst are fraudulent. They can't even find out who actually owns a lot of the mortgages, because 'securitizing' them for investment purposes left them sliced and diced into a million scattered pieces, and the original papers are lost (literally, in many cases).

The banks don't want to revalue the property, because they'd lose a lot of their own paper value (and most of them would in fact go under); they can foreclose and try to sell, but no one is buying, and it's cheaper (for the banks) to let people continue to live in the houses, than it is to hire people to do maintenance and keep an eye on them.

Yes, I have been following it and know about the problems with paperwork, etc., but this newest White House response sounds like the process won't just be stopped to fix the problems with the process of foreclosure, but possibly for other reasons altogether, and maybe for a long time. I'm just wondering which is it? If they stop the foreclosure process it will cause ripples in the stock market, cause real estate values to remain low, and who knows what else. Many economists say that what needs to happen is to let the market hit bottom, and only then can property values start to increase again.

Many economists say that what needs to happen is to let the market hit bottom, and only then can property values start to increase again.

It is too bad they did not let that happen with the banks themselves - why should they be the only ones protected from foreclosure!

A alternative would be for the banks to simply give extended terms to the homeowners - for example, halve their payments, so the owners can stay in their house. That may mean they are paying less than the interest only, the bank can either accumulate that on the loan , like an overdraft, or write it off. It would probably be less than what they have to write off by foreclosing.

Either way, value is still destroyed, but at least the family's life is not, or not as much, anyway.

Either way, value is still destroyed, but at least the family's life is not, or not as much, anyway.

Oh I'm all for keeping people in their homes, if there is a good way to do that. Why they didn't just reduce interest rates for people with ARM's to begin with I have no idea, because it would have reduced the number of foreclosures considerably. As for letting the lenders also go down with everyone else that's fine by me. I just think stopping foreclosures across the board will have repercussions and it should be thought out first before concluding that's the best route to take. Ultimately its the time foreclosures are stopped that will be the tale of the tape as far as how this thing plays out.

Why they didn't just reduce interest rates for people with ARM's to begin with I have no idea, because it would have reduced the number of foreclosures considerably.

As I loosely understand it ... those ARMs were bundled up and sold off to investors. The servicers, ie. the people who did the bundling, as in all the big banks, have to pay those investors cash flow on the investments. The cash flow is pre-allocated based on the supposed value of the underlying loan.

So who gets to unilaterally decide to reduce interest rates on those ARMs?

The cash flow is pre-allocated based on the supposed value of the underlying loan.

So what do the banks do when they have to evict a borrower and foreclose? They aren't getting any income then, and when they sell under foreclosure, what they get is still less than what they owe.

At the moment they are selling off the properties and using that money to feed cash flow to the MBS holders. Who are in turn still pretending that their MBSs are worth all or most of what they paid for the (see Mark to Fantasy .. err, Model). Extend and pretend, keep the game going a little while longer.

The proposal is for a "moratorium on foreclosure sales," not a moratorium on evicting non-paying borrowers from the houses. Reducing the number of houses that are for sale will make the price of houses increase.

moratorium on foreclosure sales

So they evict them but not sell the home in a foreclosure sale? But someone else said they were not evicting people so they would keep up the property, which of course they cannot if their evicted. The whole situation needs clarifying.

Essentially my question is this simple:

Does the White House want to stop the foreclosure process simply because of the shotty paperwork, OR because too many people are being evicted from their homes and they want a different alternative to that scenario?

Note also - 23 states. About the number of no recourse states.

Foreclose on the people who still owe on the note and if you can only recoup $5 via the sale of the home, the foreclosed still owe...just $5 less (plus fees of course)

Both the water related articles are teid together, one is the result of population pressures. The other is the result of all that added water into the system we call weather and climate.

Change is afoot, and we don't have any exprience of where it will all end, and basically it is too late to do much about it, just hold on for the ride.

Though we can use our heads and be better water managers than we have been in the past, we can lessen the use of water in our cities which is one of the main places that water is being wasted. Change a bit on how we feed ourselves, bringing more food from our yards into a system of local feeding.

It is all tied into living a better life, with the things we already know, but aren't using but in very small pockets all over the place.

I have been seeing change out there for a while, itty bitty changes, but nothing gathered together into a clearing house of information that can help everyone out.

Part of what I do with my own BioWebScape designs is to gather in all the little helpful things and use them in my own designs, or at least offer them to those that want to build a more sustainable lifestyle.

If we could just get more people off their duff, and thinking solutions instead of worrying about what the future might bring, or argueing over silly things like greed, envy and class and religious hatard. God never meant us to strip the land bare and then blame someone else for our failing to eat because of red sludge coming down the street. A system of better living is really an offshoot of trying to live in harmony here on earth.

But as a Christian I never thought that was not possible, If one were to live Romans 12, there might be a lot less people blaming Christians for half the mess going on.

Just because you think something is the way it is, does not mean it can't get better, if you do your part to make the places you live a better place. Stop fussing about what you can't do and do what you can to make it a better place for all the people living here.

I know that some of you think that is a pipe dream, but if you look at it from my view, I have been living what I have been preaching a long time. I live on a SSD check and I still give more than half of it away to others, and I get under $9,000 a year. And still know how to make a single chicken last into over 15 serving of food, but nothing goes to waste.

To much waste not want not, not happening around the world.

BioWebScape designs and other lifestyle choices for a better fed and housed world,

Bless you Charles. You put me to shame.

Joe B.

Cool! - Mr. Christian!
But you might want to review your Social Security Disabilities benefits requirements with your caseworker: Rush and The Christian right are foaming at the mouth over Social Security "spending"... for their corporate sponsors. Don't you answer the questions your caseworker asks you... truthfully? Like Jesus would?... About "Have you given away any money or property..." Or, as always, does the end justify any lie?

The lady I give most of my stuff too used to be my wife, I don't own a house, so yeah I guess I don't deserve to have the income, even though I did pay into the system all these years. I don't listen to Rush, and half the people calling themselves Christians sure don't act that way, even I don't act totally Christ like.

And as far as I know no caseworker has ever asked me those questions, or for that matter any questions, as I don't have a caseworker. So there was no lying on my part in this case. It was my money paid into a system, can't I give it away like I want, or does it say somewhere I can't give any of it away to a homeless person because then I am giving the Governments money away in some rude vile way?

What are the rules if you know them so well.

Just because I label myself a Christian, Don't yell at me because of it, I do try to be as Christ Like in my actions, if other's do not, let them know, maybe they can change.

BioWebScape designs for a better world.