Drumbeat: October 23, 2010

Rare-Earth Furor Overlooks China's 2006 Industrial Policy Signal

China’s curbs on rare-earth exports may owe more to a 2006 policy to create fewer, larger companies than a knee-jerk response to trade and territorial disputes.

A directive that year tagged mining among the pillar industries the government wanted state enterprises to dominate to enhance returns and global competitiveness. This year it started closing down private mining companies to consolidate the industry around a handful of producers led by Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare Earth High-Tech Co.

Global repercussions from the overhaul drew attention in July when the government said it would cut export quotas 72 percent in the second half of the year. China accounts for more than 90 percent of worldwide production of the metals, used in components for Toyota Motor Corp. hybrid cars, Lockheed Martin Corp. radars and General Dynamics Corp. tanks.

“It’s not a new policy,” said Peng Bo, an analyst at Shenzhen, China-based Guosen Securities Co. “China, as a supplier of 97 percent of rare-earth demand, feels a need to control both production and exports and doesn’t want to sell at dirt-cheap prices.”

Oil Rises on Increasing French Fuel Imports, Storm Threat in Mexican Gulf

Crude oil rose on speculation that growing French demand for imported fuel because of a strike will reduce stockpiles elsewhere and on concern that a tropical storm may strengthen and head toward Mexican oil fields.

France is importing “massive” amounts of fuel and tapping reserves to alleviate service-station shortages, Environment and Energy Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said today. Tropical Storm Richard, churning over Caribbean waters off the Nicaragua- Honduras border, is forecast to strengthen to a hurricane.

Energy forecast brings a chill

Homeowners who have been used to lower heating bills because of the recession may shiver at the thought: The Department of Energy is expecting double-digit price increases for customers in the Northeast who heat with oil or natural gas.

The latest government forecast predicts a 13.3 percent rise in energy costs for homeowners in the region who heat with oil, and an 11.6 percent increase for those who use natural gas. Electricity prices are expected to rise 4.7 percent.

French Strike Pushes Europe Refiner Profits to 2-Year High

European oil refiners are getting the most profit from processing crude in two years as strikes in France curb production and winter heating-fuel demand rises.

The return from converting crude into fuels such as gasoline and diesel was $4.88 a barrel in the first two weeks of October, the highest level since 2008, according to data from BP Plc. That compares with an average of $2.59 in the third quarter of this year.

Crude Poised to Reach $90 a Barrel, Lind-Waldock Says: Technical Analysis

Crude oil is poised to reach $90 a barrel by the middle of December, according to technical analysis by Lind-Waldock in Chicago.

The December contract, which became the front-month contract yesterday, has been trading in an uptrend, a pattern of higher peaks and higher valleys, since touching a low of $75.10 on Sept. 23, Blake Robben, a strategist at Lind-Waldock, a division of MF Global Ltd., said in an interview.

Oil May Drop as Slowing Chinese Economic Growth Curbs Demand, Survey Shows

Crude oil may decline next week after China’s oil processing grew the least in 18 months as government measures to cool the economy reduced fuel demand, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Fourteen of 30 analysts, or 47 percent, forecast crude oil will fall through Oct. 29. Eleven respondents, or 37 percent, predicted prices will be little changed and five estimated an increase. Last week analysts were split over whether futures would drop or climb.

Tropical Storm Richard Gains Strength, Prompting Alerts in the Caribbean

Tropical Storm Richard gained strength as it spun through the Caribbean, sparking alerts in Mexico, Honduras and Belize for a possible strike early next week, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Richard’s maximum winds increased to 45 miles (72 kilometers) per hour from 40 mph earlier today, according to a hurricane advisory issued just before 5 p.m. East Coast time. The storm is about 130 miles east-northeast of Cabo Gracias a Dios, Nicaragua, near the Honduran border, and is moving west at about 5 mph.

Aramco extends bids for Saudi biggest gas plant-sources

State oil giant Saudi Aramco has given engineering firms a fresh date to submit bids to build Saudi Arabia's biggest gas plant, industry sources said on Saturday.

Wasit would be designed to process 2.5 billion cubic feet per day (cfd) of gas from the offshore non-associated gas fields Arabiyah and Hasbah and produce around 1.75 billion cfd of sales gas, Aramco said in a brief description of the project on its website.

Russia, Turkmenistan extend Caspian gas link freeze-paper

(Reuters) - Russia and Turkmenistan have decided not to revive a mothballed Caspian gas pipeline as demand for the fuel in Europe is yet to recover, Kommersant business daily reported on Saturday.

Russia, China and the European Union are all vying for the benevolence of Turkmenistan, holder of the world's fourth-largest natural gas reserves, to secure a strong foothold in the energy market.

Cuts in State Agency Are Troubling, Environmentalists and Gas Drillers Agree

Environmentalists and the gas-and-oil industry do not agree on much, but in New York they see eye-to-eye on one thing: both believe that cuts to the state environmental agency’s staff will undermine plans for natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, a controversial but potentially huge source of new revenue for the cash-strapped state.

Proposed cuts at the Department of Environmental Conservation were at the heart of the surprise firing of the department’s chief on Thursday night.

Interior considers first deepwater drilling permits since BP spill

The Interior Department is reviewing its first request to conduct deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico since it lifted the ban on such activities last week, officials said Friday.

The move to review applications for new exploration in the gulf came as an environmental advocacy group filed a suit challenging the decision to end the drilling moratorium and industry groups lobbied for more accelerated permitting.

Deadline Slips on an Oil Spill Report

The agencies conducting the main federal investigation into the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill said Friday that they had asked for and been given extra time to complete their report.

Spill-zone coral appears healthy

ON THE FLOOR OF THE GULF OF MEXICO — Just 20 miles north of where BP’s blown-out well spewed millions of gallons of oil into the sea, life appears bountiful despite initial fears that crude could have wiped out many delicate deepwater habitats.

US firm to ship Alaskan water to Middle East via Mumbai

In a commercial scheme that attempts to rectify some of the inequalities inflicted by the beginnings of climate change, water from a lake in Alaska will be sent to a new, yet-to-be-built water hub in Mumbai and then exported to arid cities in the Middle East.

A San Antonio, Texas, based company has announced plans to export 12 billion gallons of water per year from the Blue Lake Reservoir in Sitka, Alaska, to a new, yet-to-be-built water hub on the west coast of India.

'Cash For Caulkers' Seals Savings For Homeowners

Known officially as Homestar, cash for caulkers would put up to $6 billion of federal money into the hands of homeowners and contractors who make homes more energy-efficient. That's if Congress decides to pass it.

To see just what Homestar would subsidize, I visited a crew from Wellhome, an energy retrofit company.

Canadian firm offers N.E. more hydropower

A Canadian utility wants to transmit large amounts of energy from remote hydroelectric dams in Quebec to New England, an effort that comes as concerns over climate change prompt environmentalists and policy makers to reexamine the power source long vilified for its harm to wildlife and waterways.

For Sustainable Wood, a New and Unloved Standard

Members of the U.S. Green Building Council vote next week on new rules for awarding sustainability credits to wood products. For some, the proposed standards are too weak, and to others, too burdensome.

Czech Republic's Premier Confident of Winning Solar Arbitration, HN Says

Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas said the government is unlikely to lose if solar power producers that it plans to tax take the matter to arbitration, Hospodarske Noviny reported.

In an interview with the newspaper, Necas also said the government will monitor energy production based on burning biomass, to avoid a sharp increase in subsidies of the kind it experienced with solar power.

Chinese CDM Fund to Have $1.5 Billion for Clean-Energy Projects by 2012

China CDM Fund, the government body that invests money from carbon credits, will almost double its available cash for renewable energy projects to 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) in 2012, the vice director of the fund said.

Himalayan climate change threatens regional stability. Can India help?

As the devastating floods in Pakistan showed, atmospheric pollutants are disturbing the Himalayan region's weather patterns – and local economies. But India has a pivotal opportunity to cut 'black carbon' emissions and minimize the damage.

As the sea ice melts, so melts the Arctic

Perhaps the most stunning finding concerned sea ice. From 2000 to 2010, about two million square kilometres of sea ice melted. That loss was preceded by two previous decades in which less than a million square kilometres was lost. In other words, sea ice loss accelerated dramatically in the 2000-2010 period. In addition, areas of first-year thin ice also declined markedly.

Four days ago we discussed the Saudi Arabian oil minister's claim that the days of cheap oil was not over because Ghawar still had 88 billion barrels of reserves left. Well the Tehran Times now has an explanation of how this is possible.

Saudi plugs cheap oil supply talk

Although details of the field's performance are not made public, it is believed to have produced more than 65 billion barrels already since production began in 1951.

Al Naimi's estimate of its remaining reserves was greater than many analysts had thought, possibly indicating the state oil company, Saudi Aramco, has been able to increase its expected recovery of oil. Oil companies generally expect to extract about half of the oil from a typical field, but al Naimi said this recovery factor was now rising to 70 per cent in some cases.

According to my figures, this means that Ghawar had about 220 billion barrels of OOIP. They have produced almost 30 percent of that oil, 65 billion barrels and expect to produce another 40 percent or another 88 billion barrels fora total of 153 billion barrels.

Really now? If Ghawar has produced 30 percent of their OOIP then I would say that it is pretty well petered out. We know that Saudi is eying CO2 injection in Ghawar but I don't believe it will push their recovery rate to 70 percent.

But this tells us a lot about those massive OPEC reserves. They are so great because they expect a 70 percent recovery rate!

Ron P.

He also didn't say anything about the rate at which they expect to extract all this remaining oil. If they do eventually recover 70 percent but it dwindles down to just a trickle over a couple centuries that really doesn't do industrial civilization much good.

Exactly Dude. I could point to hundreds of oil fields in Texas alone that had high recovery rates of 50% or more. But took 40+ years to reach that level. And obviously did so at very low flow rates. And many are still producing today. I even know of one oil reservoir in La. that easily had a 90%+ recovery. Why the major oil company continued to produce this field at a loss for years is a long story I'll skip. But it isn't difficult to recovery 70%+ of the OOIP of any water drive reservoir. All you have to do is produce it long enough at a loss and you will eventually get there. That's why, IMHO, it tends to be a waste of time to debate anyone's recoverable reserve numbers unless details of time/economics are included. And they seldom are.

This is all well and good Rockman, but I was of the opinion that tertiary recovery schemes were never considered until they were needed, at the tail end of a reservoir's life. The fact that Saudi as well as Kuwait are investigating CO2 injection for Ghawar and Burgan should tell us something about their level of depletion.

Am I wrong? Would they be considering tertiary recovery methods after only 42 percent of the recoverable oil had been pumped out?

Ron P.

Ron -- EOR, especially tertiary, is a little far afield for me. But I'll offer a very prejudiced opinion: based upon the relative limited success I've ever seen with tertiary efforts I would say their move in that direction is something of a "hail Mary" pass. I can't offer specifics examples but in general I've found such efforts to epitomise the term diminishing returns. Perhaps some engineer roaming around TOD can offer some optimism because I got nuthin. Just that for a water drive reservoir, especially in a situation where the KSA doesn't have to worry about ecologically sound (read expensive) methods of salt water disposal, you should be pushing secondary recovery well beyond 50% IMHO. Especially true given the scale of their fields.

A 70% recovery rate using secondary recovery techniques would be extremely unusual. More typical results are on the order of 45-50%. Besides that, you get your best results if you start on day one of production. Ghawar produced for years before they started waterflooding, and in the early days they used to flare off all the produced gas. A delayed startup of pressure maintenance can cost you 10% in ultimate recovery factor. By comparison, at Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, which is the biggest oil field in North America and has the biggest gas plant in the US reinjecting produced gas back into the field, they expect an ultimate recovery rate of about 47%.

I would guess that the Saudis can ultimately get 40-50% recovery out of Ghawar. If they have already produced 30% of the oil-in-place, then they will only be able to recover another 10-20%, and we should start to see a production decline in the near future.

The trouble is that they can mask this decline through an aggressive program of drilling infill wells and faster waterflooding. They're already doing that. It just maintains production rates at the cost of shortening the life of the field.

Of course we don't know for sure what is going on in Ghawar because all the reservoir and production data are state secrets. But what we can see from outside doesn't look good.

If they have already produced 30% of the oil-in-place, then they will only be able to recover another 10-20%, and we should start to see a production decline in the near future...

The trouble is that they can mask this decline through an aggressive program of drilling infill wells and faster waterflooding. They're already doing that. It just maintains production rates at the cost of shortening the life of the field.

Ghawar is in steep decline and has been for several years. This from 2005:


One challenge for the Saudis in achieving this objective is that their existing fields sustain 5 percent-12 percent annual "decline rates," (according to Aramco Senior Vice President Abdullah Saif, as reported in Petroleum Intelligence Weekly and the International Oil Daily) meaning that the country needs around 500,000-1 million bbl/d in new capacity each year just to compensate.

Of course they have had water injection for about 40 years but concerning your comment about infield drilling:

Saudi Arabia’s Strategic Energy Initiative

• Without “maintain potential” drilling to make up for production, Saudi oil fields would have a natural decline rate of a hypothetical 8%. As Saudi Aramco has an extensive drilling program with a budget running in the billions of dollars, this decline is mitigated to a number close to 2%.

So they have admitted here, twice, that their average decline rate is about 8 percent. But they claim that with infield drilling they have gotten that decline rate down to almost 2 percent. Of course that was 6 years ago. I would bet it is a lot higher than that now. Their infield drilling is horizontal wells that pull the oil right off the top of the reservoir. And even then they still have over a 2 percent decline rate. Or had a 2 percent decline rate prior to 2005. I would bet my Social Security check that it is a lot higher than that now.

Ron P.

Saudi total oil production

Kuwait total oil production

Darwinian, you've been expecting a Persian Gulf production crash EVERY DAY for years.
Why not just admit that these fields are so huge it will take a while for them to rollover?

Hey, the Vice President admitted that all their old fields are declining at a rate from 5 to 12 percent. New production from Shaybah and Khurais has kept them on a plateau. Everything I have said about Saudi has been spot on about everything I have said about Saudi Arabia. After all, it has to be because I have posted links to back up everything I have posted.

The fields have already rolled over. A field does not have a 5 to 12 percent decline rate, like the ARAMCO Vice President stated unless they have reached their peak. After all, common sense will tell you that a field must reach its peak before it goes into decline.

Oh, by the way Saudi produced 8,195,000 barrels of crude in September. Your chart is all liquids. For crude + Condensate they peaked in 1980 at 9,900,000 average for the year. They will never reach that level again.

Again, all Saudi's fields with the exception of Shaybah and Khurais is in decline. 8 to 12 percent decline but massive infield drilling mitigated that decline to just over 2 percent in the early part of this decade. Since Saudi OPEC cuts have them down to almost 8 million barrels per day we have no way of knowing exactly what they could produce if they were to go flat out. But I believe they have less than 1 million barrels of spare capacity. After all, Shaybah and Khurais can only keep their production up for a so long before the decline in their other giants start pulling them down.

Ron P.

The reposting of Rembrandt's primer on reserve growth yesterday motivated me to do an analysis of recovery factors =>

Statistically, recovery factors are all over the map but there does seem to be the relationship between larger reservoirs having larger recovery factors. That's the essential ingredient to making sense of the distribution of recovery factors.


Thanks for presenting this simple analysis.

Very nice, unassailable analysis of recover factors.


Naimi said this recovery factor was now rising to 70 per cent in some cases.

Ron, is it possible that the Saudi's have been drawn into an unrealistic view of the percentage of oil they can extract via water injection and horizontal super straws? Meaning, all that water is pushing up the oil, and has been for so long that they are now convinced they can extract more than the originally estimated reserve count, yet in reality what they don't understand is once the water gets high enough, the drop in production will be sudden, rapid and permanent.

It might be like parachuting with a defective chute. Falling to Earth is fine so far - maybe that flopping, flapping chute is catching more air than was first thought because the Earth is still coming up slowly - then suddenly the view of the ground comes up much faster and the realization of time getting very short finally hits home.

IMHO the powers to be must say there is still a lot of oil remaining there. They have a population of high unemployment, high fertility, and lower living conditions ready to explode. Can anyone say to this crowd, "We blew it and sold most all the oil. Sorry bout that, you're on your own."?

So we may argue the geology of particular oil fields and depletion rates but the crux of the irrational statements is social. Does anyone here think that Aramco doesn't know what is going on in their own fields?

Again IMHO: This is similar to our financial position, they are just kicking the can down the road knowing full well that at some point (hopefully after they are dead or out of office) everyone will know the ruse that was carried on. WMD was the reason for the Iraqi war until it wasn't.

Earl - I don’t have any specific problem with the Saudis throwing out a 70% RF per se. I know of many water drive oil reservoirs in Texas that can reach there. But if you didn’t catch my other post on the subject: 70% recovery at what rate and economic value? The rate of recovery will be a function of lifting capacity of the wells and the injection rate of the water flood. These are mostly a function of horsepower. The economics will be determined by the price of the oil, the cost of the horse power and the cost of water disposal. Just a rough guess but at oil north of $60/bbl the economics should look good even when oil cuts get very low. What these efforts would achieve would be lowering the decline rates and not eliminating decline.

But it’s very wrong for folks to equate high recovery rates with deliverability. The most successful water floods I’ve ever studied didn’t come close to achieving rates anywhere close the primary recovery rates. Back to the US stats: the average US well produces less than 10 bopd. Every day these wells push the average recovery factor a tiny bit higher. At current high prices I’m certain many domestic fields will reach 70% recovery or more. But it will take many decades to do so. And the collective rates will never increase beyond where they are today IMHO. And the history of the last 20+ years proves that. Every oil field that would benefit financially from some form of EOR has been undergoing EOR for decades. And nowhere is there to be seen a bump in domestic oil rates from these wells. We just haven't declined as much as we would have without these EOR projects.

But my company will soon begin a program to change that story just a tiny bit. I’ve identified a series of shallow oil fields with more than 1 billion bbls of residual oil remaining in them. Typically oil cuts are less than 5% in the remaining wells (although the majority of the initial wells have been P&A). Similar to what the KSA did we’ll be going back in with a horizontal redevelopment program. If I’m correct we’ll be able to offset wells making less than 10 bopd with new hz wells doing 200 bopd. Most of these fields are around 50% recovery today. How much would our hz add? Just my rough guess but I’m using 10% to 20% over time. But most of that increase will be oil that would have been recovered by the existing vertical wells…but over a much longer period. But even if our plan is 100% successful and other operators duplicate our efforts on a major scale I doubt the gain would have any visible impact on PO. Won’t do more than make us a nice little profit. But that’s what I get paid to do. Changing PO isn't our job…which is good since we can’t.

But if you didn’t catch my other post on the subject: 70% recovery at what rate and economic value?

I was saying maybe the Saudi's have been lulled into a sense they may be able to recover more simply because of the rate of flow to date, without realizing that when the water hits (at some much lower percentage of recovery) it will be sudden, etc. No, I'm not siding with the idea of 70%. That's a fantasy percentage the Saudi's tossing out there, like someone else wrote, for social reasons.

From what I understand of the physics of the oil flow I don't see how it is possible to get more than 50% of the oil out even under the best case conditions. When there is a 50/50 mix of oil and water in the reservoir the water starts to flow instead of the oil. Instead of water droplets in oil you have oil droplets in water and water has a much lower viscosity than oil so it can flow easier through the rock matrix.

You could get more than 50% recovery if an oil layer was pushed by the water and the two did not mix. But this is flow through a quasi-porous medium (rock) and not some lab experiment with a beaker. You don't get a laminar flow but a highly diffusive one.

What about gas? Doesn't CO2 injection EOR make a more efficient method that keeps oil-water emulsion down to the minimum? I thought that's what the Saudis were doing now

Dissident - Good point. More specifically when we talk about the permeability (how readily a fluid flows through the rock) we do so in terms of relative permeability. At a high oil saturation (say above 70%) the permeability of the rock RELATIVE to oil might be 300 md but the RELATIVE perm to water is zero md. At some point, when the oil saturation declines due to production, you reach the other end point: high RELATIVE perm to water and zero RELATIVE perm to oil. This is a physical characteristic that's rather predictable.

But you can still recover oil even when the RELATIVE perm to oil goes to zero. The water flowing through the pores will entrail molecules of oil. The production stream may only be a few percent oil but this oil cut is rather stable and tends to change very slowly. Today the great majority of oil production from coastal Texas oil fields is coming from such reservoirs that are producing less than 4% oil cut. There are a series of shallow oil fields in Texas that contain a very thick oil. As a result the RELATIVE perm to oil is rather low. But these reservoirs produced over a billion bbls of oil but over 70% of this recovery was done at water cuts of 80% or greater. As a result it took 40+ years to reach a 50% recovery. But most of these fields are still producing. Some will reach 70% recovery but will take many more years to get there. That was the point I was trying to make in another post: many reservoirs might reach a high recovery rate but it will take a very long time to do so. IOW the first 50% recovery might come out in 10 years. But that last 20% recovery might take 20+ years. And at the end of the day it is the rate of this late life production that’s critical and not the recovery factor IMHO.

USDA primes blender pumps.

Blender pumps are the solution to the controversy about how much if any ethanol should be in gas. They let the customer decide:

Ten thousand new blender pumps could be installed across the U.S. during the next five years under a new program announced Thursday by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.


Again Vilsack and the USDA are leading on an energy issue. Energy Secretary Chu seems to be out of the loop.

How the EPA will view letting people decide ethanol blending rates remains unanswered. With all the fuss about E15, it must be an important issue, or maybe not. If E85 is okay and E10 is okay, maybe anything in between is okay, if drivers want to take the risk.

The risk is small IMO. But some disagree.

If a vehicle doesn’t run well on a higher ethanol blend, just decrease the amount of ethanol in the tank at the next fill up.

Everyone’s happy!

I would be happy. If I had a choice, I'd opt out of ethanol. Purely for mileage reasons.

That's the beauty of E85.
A flexfuel car,truck will run on anything from E0 to E85.
As the price rises(and availability falls) for gasoline due to Peak Oil you will continue to have a choice of how much you want to drive.
You will also have a choice as to reducing the CO2 you produce while driving.
Otherwise you could choose to walk, bike or take the E85 fueled bus.

I doubt the US government will allow hyperexpensive massive CTL fuels and hydrogen is too expensive and futuristic to offset a crash(decline) in world oil production.

E85 is a scam to enable US brands to get a mileage credit on their SUVs and pickups so that they can make their CAFE mileage requirement without actually doing so.

List of 2010 Flex-Fuel Vehicles

But what is the purpose of alternative fuels vehicles?
To save on oil (and not equivalent in total energy saved)).
For E85, they consider that a gallon of E85 has 0.15 gallons of gasoline in it so a truck running on E85 at 15mpg of E85 would be getting
100 mpg in gasoline. Then the government averages the straight gas mpg rating of the E85 vehicle, say 25 mpg gasoline with the E85 rating of 100 mpg gasoline when running on E85 to get a overall rating of 62.5 mpg.
If the fuel instead was M85 methanol it would be a roughly similar result except the mileage would be lower maybe 10 mpg so
.5*(10/.15 +25)= 46 mpg.
If you are mad that ethanol and methanol don't have the same energy density as gasoline well blame God but don't blame the government for failing to allow you to fill your car with a fuel other than gasoline.
As a PO mitigation measure, producing of methanol from natural gas or coal and ethanol from corn or cellulose is the easiest ramp up IMHO,
certainly easier than building million of EVs, especially if the decline is rapid.
If you look at the energy density of CNG or LNG they are similarly less.
The only fuel that is close to gasoline/diesel is hydrogen at 200 bar, a technology that seems stalled today.

"If a vehicle doesn’t run well on a higher ethanol blend, just decrease the amount of ethanol in the tank at the next fill up."

Unless you wan't no ethanol. Getting hard to find. My truck doesn't like it and I don't agree with depleting the soil to make motor fuel.

"If a vehicle doesn’t run well on a higher ethanol blend, just decrease the amount of ethanol in the tank at the next fill up."

This should give you an insight into x's thinking on ethanol. It's not that a vehicle "Doesn't run well" on a higher blend of ethanol but whether a vehicle's seals, hoses, lines, and injector valve seats aren't *destroyed* by a higher blend of ethanol. By the time you figure that out you'll be replacing your fuel pump, fuel lines, fuel pressure regulator, and injectors.

Ghung...I'm guessing your truck is carbureted? You just need to step up a couple of jet sizes and everything should be peachy again. Beware of carrying heavy loads if you think it's running lean, you could burn a valve and have to do work on the head. A lot of the carbureted engines, particularly in the 80's when emissions were being cut back were set to run really lean from the factory - so when you put ethanol in them and they run even leaner, they can run too hot and be damaged. Fuel injected cars generally just compensate and richen the mixture.

It's an '05 Ranger, 4.0L sohc. It knocks going up our mountains. The manual says to ignore this, or switch to mid/high grade fuel. Also, the mileage isn't as good. One station here sells ethanol free regular. Using that; problem solved (for now).

My '07 Focus seems to knock like a diesel. Maybe its the fuel..i really don't care; i do drive it like its stolen...

The 4.0 V6 in the '05 Ranger is shown as taking regular unleaded. If it's pinging really badly the timing might be a smidge too advanced and could be improved by being retarded a few degrees. There's any number of reasons that could be...including that the engine was actually designed for a higher grade fuel, but they didn't want to scare buyers off by puting "premium only" on it, or that advancing the timing allowed them to slip it through emissions more easily.

I don't think that Ranger has a distributor. The timing is fixed at the factory.

Ugh - I hate distributorless ignitions.

I hate timing belts (my Focus has the Duratech (Madza) motor/chain)...

I don't think that Ranger has a distributor. The timing is fixed at the factory.

That's right, no distributer. My 97 4.0 Ranger had a slight background knocking sound at 50k miles so I used Pennzoil's High Mileage 5/30 wt. oil, and the noise vanished. Been using it ever since and with 140k miles it still sounds and runs like new.

The knocking isn't extreme. Since it's mentioned in the manual, it is likely that Ford tweeked this engine to run on regular to avoid the requirement for higher octane (and it's only annoying with ethanol blend). My '98 4.0 (not SOHC) didn't have this quirk. Anyway, this little truck is a jackrabbit, great passing, and if I hypermile and manage the overdrive well in the mountains, gets reasonable mileage for a pickup, especially on non-ethanol fuel. I keep hoping Ford will put a diesel in one of these, as it has in non-US models, but I have seen some discussion of Ford dropping the Ranger line completely. Big mistake IMO.


Your truc almost dead sure has an anti knock sensor and when it detects pinging or spark knock it should signal the engine control computer and that should in turn temporarily retard the spark, distributor or no.

You seem to be highly computer literate-you can buy a good code reader and the cables and attachments for a good bit less than the price of a dealer tuneup.The sensor may or may not be easily accessible-I did one on a Toyota recently that involved a full day and a bunch of new gaskets replacing it.

A long term or severe spark knock can be very bad news-broken pistons and rings are not unheard of by any means.

You can avoid fixing it by buying about fifty percent premium fuel, and/or by keeping the rpm up a bit and a light foot on the gas pedal.

I always counsel people to avoid v6 and v8 engines these days, if costs of operation and maintainence are a concern.

With two cylinder heads invariably made of aluminum, and most likely a plastic mainfold between them, and a cast iron block, all with different thermal coefficienct of expansion,and about twice as many places to spring leaks, the risks of breakdowns( blown head gaskets, various serious leaks such as antifreeze solution into the oil, etc) are greatly increased compared to a four cylinder engine-and the fours are simply MUCH easier and faster to maintain and repair.

They last just as long, on average, and are generally easier on gas too.

You know...I've mostly just fixed pre 1996 vehicles and they're generally pretty simple with the sensors...but the newer cars have all sorts of fanciful sensors to go wrong. My friend's Camry had a sensor go bad in the transmision which apparently requires the transmission's complete removal to replace ($$!). Another had a Dodge Ram that kept conking out on the highway...the RPM gauge would swing wildly back and forth even though the engine had just quit - traced it to a camshaft sensor. Another had to replace the second oxygen sensor (the one behind the cat) on a Trooper and it was like $250 for the part alone. If they're only semi-failed they can put off a lot of weird symptoms that lead you astray in diagnosis.

A lot of complexity waiting to fail.

if they raise it as much as 5 percent my bike is toast.

Motorcycles are extremely vulnerable to the ethanol concentration in gas because they're set EXTREMELY lean from the factory for emissions reasons. I'd recommend getting a jet kit if you can, which will contain both a metering jet of higher flow, plus the "jet needle" which will match it. You'll also want to adjust the idle jet if you can to richen it at idle and just off idle. If you decide not to go for a new set of jets, you should be able to improve performance over a fair amount of the range by raising the jet needle. If you're lucky and you don't have one of those evil single slot needles, moving the circlip down a few notches (thereby raising the needle) should make your bike happier. I raised the needle on a 750 Special I had and it made it run so much better that you wouldn't have believed that's all I'd done to the carbs.

Motorcycles are extremely vulnerable to the ethanol concentration in gas because they're set EXTREMELY lean from the factory for emissions reasons.

In general that's true though the Brazilians have been manufacturing 100% ethanol powered mtorbikes since the early 1980s

I must have hit the wrong button or my post got eaten. Long story short...if it comes from the factory set up for ethanol, it'll run ethanol - it requires bigger jets to allow more fuel to the amount of air. USA motorcycles come out of the factory running lean on 100% gasoline. So when you add ethanol to a USA bike - it runs waaay too lean and can damage valves and will run terribly.

A comparison of ethanol and oil subsidies leaves out the human cost of lives lost and ruined by injuries in the perpetual Wars for Oil Security. It also ignores the resentment of our messing around in the oil rich Middle East and the consequent terrorist flashback.

Also ignored is the de facto oil subsidy paid by the public from oil spills such as the recent disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. This damage to the environment and the economy of the Gulf region is worth billions of dollars to those who are victims of it.

It’s a long list for both. But it’s only ethanol subsidies that matter, so skip over oil subsidies to save time.

Industries also benefit from tax credits, incentives, publically-supported research programs and other government dollars spent outright or dollars that should have gone into the government's coffers but didn't under some credit program or another. The oil and ethanol industries both receive these types of benefits.

Tallying state, federal and other incentives exclusive to the oil industry, DTN's total comes to $17.9 billion annually. The comparable figure for incentives exclusive to ethanol is $7.1 billion. These figures do not include tax credits and other incentives that both industries share, such as the volumetric ethanol excise tax credit, also known as the blenders credit.


Fuel shortages in France - some lessons

NSW government acknowledges peak oil but continues business as usual regardless

From your second link above:

it makes sense to shape our communities and transport systems by planning with some key principles in mind:

Jobs closer to home;
Reducing pollution from transport;
Efficient use of energy;
Economic efficiency.“

Not disimilar to what I said on another key post thread:

My own thoughts are along the lines of populations being concentrated into dense and easily controlled zones. As we're talking of millions of people these areas will naturally be formed in existing urban conurbations. There will be no razor wire or guards as people will be immobilised via energy and economic restrictions. Travel will naturally become restricted in the name of efficiency, conservation and cost cutting, people will simply have no incentive or wish to travel. Effective techniques can then come into play for feeding, providing necessary utilities and accommodating them to their de-facto incarceration via technology and illusion.

I was talking about how I think the future for most people will be in huge urban ghettoes and how they will come about. Basically technicians using rational methods and logic will unwittingly put us in these inescapable ghettoes. Matt's link above shows this process in action, albeit the article is actually castigating the government for not following its own advice.

I don't think any regular TOD follower will want to miss this (audio):

Peak Oil: An Inflationary & Deflationary Perspective

With: Nicole M Foss
With: Jeff Rubin

Nicole M. Foss is co-editor of The Automatic Earth, where she writes under the name Stoneleigh. She and her writing partner have been chronicling and interpreting the on-going credit crunch as the most pressing aspect of our current multi-faceted predicament. The site integrates finance, energy, environment, psychology, population and real politik in order to explain why we find ourselves in a state of crisis and what we can do about it. Prior to the establishment of TAE, she was previously editor of The Oil Drum Canada, where she wrote on peak oil and finance.

On this week’s Financial Sense Newshour, Nicole Foss and host Jim Puplava discuss the deflationary aspects of peak oil that Nicole sees coming in the years ahead. Nicole writes under the name Stoneleigh for her blog, The Automatic Earth.

Jeff Rubin, after twenty years as Chief Economist for a North American investment bank, it was time to seek a larger audience for the story he needed to tell. Jeff’s predictions of steadily rising oil prices over the last decade, including his call for $100-per-barrel oil by 2007, had flown in the face of conventional wisdom.

This week on the Financial Sense Newshour, Jeff Rubin joins host Jim Puplava to discuss peak oil. Jeff, an energy economist who writes the blog SmallerWorld, discusses the recent ASPO conference, and other significant peak oil issues.


I was just about to post about that too, after checking FS for any new podcasts. They also have that Hirsch interview on iTunes for those who haven't heard that too.

For those that don’t know, Financial Sense is doing a great job of following Peak Oil.
On the issue of deflationary/inflationary effects of PO, so far they have been mostly inflationary financially but deflationary economically.

I don’t agree with Stoneleigh that the primary force that drove oil to near $148 was mostly speculation, except to some small extent. All markets have some element of speculation but the oil price spike was very closely related to a concurrent spike in Chinese demand before the Olympics. The drop in late 2008 to early 2009 was caused by falling Chinese demand but mostly a US financial panic, where most all liquid assets in the hands of investors were dumped. Also business inventories suddenly could not be financed by credit. The US has a long history of financial panics, although since 1987 there had been no severe panics. The 2008-2009 panic was more like the banking panic of 1892, which had similar effect on the prices of wholesale goods. In addition, if it was not a panic, then oil prices could never have recovered so fast - and no, there was not much evidence of speculation off the 2009 bottom.

I fairly closely agree with Rubin - the price of oil will soon exceed $100 even in inflation adjusted terms. Even though the US has lost millions jobs in the last few years, world oil demand is back up around record highs. This is mostly due to demand increases from Asia and some OPEC members.

No doubt within the US financial destabilization caused by Peak Oil plus legal and regulatory failures may well lead to other types of financial panics in the future. These types of shocks can and will temporarily depress demand, but will not be enough to reduce worldwide potential demand much below actual world supply. If nothing else, growing world population and falling energy return on energy invested will keep tremendous upside pressure on the demand for oil, and its price.

Money is a bit esoteric for my simple mind.
I read somewhere(I have lost the reference, sorry) that 98% of "money" is digits on a computer. It is loaned into existence. Chris Martenson, chapter 7

It seems to me that "money" is a product of our imagination.

Soon we will wake up and poof, the dream is gone. 98% wipeout, leading to a scarcity of money ie Deflation.

(eerm. By "poof", I mean vanished. Not the other kind.)

Yes mostly money today is just digits in a computer. Even the New York Stock Exchange is now been mostly replaced by a football sized building (not many miles from me here in New Jersey) where dueling supercomputers trade against each other in time spans too short for the human brain to register. Even science fiction writers haven't caught up with this kind of Skynet type of reality. Don't look now - the computers won, except for occasional 'flash crashes' that wake up humans for a brief reality check out of the Matrix.

Granted something unplugging the system could suddenly wipe out most everything. But Zimbabwe creates hyperinflation just fine with paper, and without the supercomputers, and I think that is the direction we are at least heading for now.

In the stock market, program trading dominates volume. I heard recently that 70% of trade positions are held for an average of 11 seconds.

Quote from naked capitilism

Who said economy wasn't sexy?

I read a description of an American Indian village where everybody owed everybody-else rugs... like thousands of rugs. There were only a couple of hundred rugs in the entire village. Seems that a system had arisen where people would borrow virtual rugs and then lend them out to others... all on credit and with interest.
Speaking, myself, from a position of profound monetary ignorance... can't the loans just be excused? Life goes on. Everybody has a rug. It's a kinder-gentler game.
Could China simply excuse America's debt? Then the game goes on: China makes and America consumes... money flows to China's businesses... China passes the money back to America. It's like building pyramids or going into space with chemical rockets: Nothing real is accomplished, but money moves and knowledge grows.

Or we could have paid the bailout money to the mortgage borrowers and they would be compelled to pay the banks...that way the folks stay in their houses and the banks get their money...or I guess it was better to give the banks money, have them foreclose on all those folks, then not loan out the money to other borrowers,,,what are they doing with these digital bucks?

For those who would cry 'unfair' to my above idea, we could be completely fair and we could have not bailed out the banks and let them fail and also kick everyone out of their houses who were delinquent...yep, stick to those principles no matter how many folks are put on the street...

I cry "Fair"

Others cry havoc and loose the dogs of war.

I fear.

I read a description of an American Indian village where everybody owed everybody-else rugs... like thousands of rugs. There were only a couple of hundred rugs in the entire village. Seems that a system had arisen where people would borrow virtual rugs and then lend them out to others... all on credit and with interest.

Nice expose. I like it.

(eerm. Would that be a rugged economy?)

Toilet graffiti from South Africa, as regaled by my grandfather.

"Ye who would your wits to pit,
Do thee thou joustings where others sit?"

Americans borrow European views on consumption

American consumers are adopting European spending habits, experts say. Instead of gorging on cheap products, US shoppers are turning to high-quality goods and thinking over purchases before opening their wallets.

Do turkeys and humans have common genes?

I've had a small flock of wild turkeys visit our garden and orchard off and on all summer but more recently as apples have dropped. They'd typically fly in and out.

This past week I noticed that they were walking in and out via a hole in the fence. So, I fixed the fence to keep other critters out. The other day I saw one hen pacing back and forth frantically trying to get out (it obviously flew in) where the hole used to be. It did this for, perhaps, ten minutes. I finally intervened by walking down to it to frighten it so it would fly out because it was totally fixated on getting out a nonexistent hole.

I am seeing similar fixation(s) among humans where they remember something that used to be that no longer exist but are unable to use an alternative(s) that they already have. This is certainly true of BAU including our financial system, governance and energy.

If humans continue this fixation, they are obviously doomed.


One thousand days in the life of a turkey... Happy Thanksgiving!


Excellent Tod. LOL. I'll even add to the analogy and explain to our non-hunting cousins the nature of spring turkey hunting. As you point out turkeys are not very clever. But whatever common sense they do have is completely abandoned when breeding season comes around in the spring. You can sit is a lawn chair wearing a bright yellow shirt in the middle of a open field with a shot gun across your lap. Use your turkey caller to put out the standard female "come and get it" yelp and before you know it there will be a couple of boys running right at you. They could care less about safety (similar to the feelings of many folks about maintaining BAU, or as Dick said: Our life style is non-negotiable). Like many Americans those turkeys ignore ever sign of danger because they are so focused on self gratification. Not to long ago we saw $148/oil and long lines at the pump. But to the many American consumers all today is well now and there is no sign of danger.


Of course humans and turkeys have common genes. Heck, we share half our genes with the banana.

And about 1/3 with yeast, I believe...

So is eating a banana like 1/2 cannibalism?

I've noticed the same thing with my chickens. They seem to remember how to get into a fenced area via a hole or some other method and will use it for days. So they remember the hole and how to get to it, but they never know how to get back out and usually end up standing at a gate for hours waiting to be let out.

They don't seem to realise how they got to where they are. I think we can say the same about humans. We follow the same rationale that got us into trouble the first time and then we're completely bewildered when the obvious happens again the next time.

I've decided to become a Cornucopian for the duration of the World Series. No more End of the World talk for me for the time being, not with the Texas Rangers in the World Series*.

*Of course there is the alternative point of view that the fact that the Rangers are in the World Series is evidence that the Apocalypse is at hand, but who cares, I have tickets to the first ever World Series game in Arlington, Texas, seven days from today.

And my Giants will be hosting the Texas Cornucopians or whatever their name is next week.

Care for a wager? Pick a number and the loser donates to TOD that amount.


Turkeys are notorious for drowning during a rainstorm because they're not smart enough to come in out of the rain.

Some humans are similar (you often see them standing out in the rain, too). I remember videos of the Tsunami that hit Indonesia, of people just standing there on the beach, without moving, watching a giant tidal wave coming at them. They didn't run, they didn't move, they just stood their with their mouths open. Of course, they drowned, just like the turkeys.

I also remember people on TV worrying about what would happen to the elephants (another typical human response, hundreds of thousand of humans are dead and they're worried about a few hundred elephants). The elephants survived just fine, they were smart enough to run to high ground, and none of them were killed.

That's right. Humans and turkeys. Too many genes in common.


Dumb as turkeys in general can be, domestic turkeys are even dumber. But this particular factoid seems to be more of an urban (or rural?) myth than something that is supported by observation.

Urban myths not withstanding, in a rural environment it's a bit more serious than a myth.

Young turkeys don't really drown in a rainstorm, they die of exposure because they don't instinctively come in out of the rain. They have to be trained to do it. In their natural environment their mothers train them to do it; on a turkey farm the farmers are responsible for getting the turkeys out of the rain.

Again, it's like humans and tsunamis. Humans don't instinctively run from a huge tidal wave, but a lot of other animals do. However, like turkeys, humans can be trained, so if you have tsunamis, it's best to train the children to recognize them and run to high ground when they see them coming.

There are some islands where it is a native tradition to train children to recognize and run from tsunamis. On those islands, almost nobody was killed by the big tsunami that hit Indonesia.

I feel just like one of those confused turkeys when I'm looking frantically for an ELP-hole in the fence around the industrial pigstye.

(Oh-oh, looks like mean ol' ma nature is coming down the garden trail - time to fly over the fence ???)

SA, without being snarky, I think "fly over the fence" is exactly what people have to do both psychologically and intellectually. If we are, indeed, in a predicament, fixating on what no longer is "real" assures failure. Since there is no neat answer, continuing to "pace"/rant simply constitutes magical thinking...the turkey just knew the hole was still there and was not about to let go of that belief.

My concerns about the future go back a long, long time (FWIW over 25 years, e.g. how many people had any kind of PV system that long ago like I did along with solar hot water and super house insulation?) and during that time I have read a great many essays and books yet few of them have not failed to fixate upon the "hole?"

I'm certainly not going to belittle people who are at least trying but they don't fully understand that they are only attempting to find a new hole in the fence rather than flying over it.


I understand and agree Todd. I've flown the coop fence mentally, but then there is the constant battle of trying to get your family to fly over the fence and stop looking for the hole ...

Living with one foot in both worlds is a pain in the groin ;)

On my last sail across the North Pacific in 2000, I stopped at many of the small atolls in the Yap State of FSM, the old US Trust Territories. They asked if I had any gasoline for their tin boats and Yamaha outboards.

When I asked how often the supply boats came, the said 'every three months'. When I asked when was the last one they said ' three years ago ' In that time they had no drugs, materials, or supplies. They had been reduced to their primitive, but sustainable past. They still thought the supply boats was coming soon.

A note; The US Army at that time sent a once a year boat to recruit boys who chose to get off island. These boys sent money to a bank in Ponape for their parents to spend. The Army boat no longer comes. Parts come in via the odd yacht every other year. I carried their mail, in and out.

But they still expect the supply boat soon. Lovely folks, tho.

When I asked how often the supply boats came, the said 'every three months'. When I asked when was the last one they said "Three years ago"

...But they still expect the supply boat soon.

This sounds a lot like the traditional Cargo Cults of the South Pacific that arose after the US forces withdrew after WWII. They built fake airstrips and control towers in the belief that this would magically bring the American supply planes flying back with their cargoes of good and materials for them.

You can dismiss this as being the foolishness of naive natives, but you see the same thing in modern western civilizations. One of the worst modern cargo cult mentalities I have seen was in the US during the oil crises of the 1970s, when otherwise intelligent people were sure that, if you only drilled a lot more oil wells, you would find a lot more oil.

Of course, you can only find more oil if there is more oil to find, and they didn't find much. US oil production went into terminal decline in the 1970s regardless of how many wells were drilled.

Another cargo cult illusion was the "oil tankers waiting offshore" one. During oil crises, many people were sure that there were oil tankers waiting offshore for the prices to go up, at which point they would dock and disgorge their cargoes. In reality, there were never full tankers waiting offshore, and even if there were tankers offshore, they were empty and waiting for a contract to pick up a cargo somewhere. However, many people were sure that the problem was that the tankers were not docking, not that the oil producing countries were not producing enough oil.

But it's impossible to convince some people that there is no cargo going to come in, whether they are South Sea islanders or American consumers.

Get them while you still can...ITEOTWAWKI...Giants are going to the World Series.

Searching for a way to evaluate my solar array performance (which has been under the PVGIS estimate this summer) I found this site:


Not enough data to support any meaningful theory but it made me recall just how wet the last few summers have been, and how the jet stream has channelled in one depression after another. Be a crying shame if AGW meant we had freezing winters and flooded summers.

Homepower does regular articles on monitoring/data logging of PV/RE systems. The Aug/Sept issue has a good article. Also, from '07:
Paywall, sorry. Check your local library.

I view and log all of my output using a system from these guys:

...mainly for Outback and Trace/Xantrex/Schnieder. I also log weather/solar data with a couple of electronic weather stations. Great for troublshooting and analysis. An old laptop is great for this.

I'm sure whatever number you find will be wrong. Mine was rated 4096kwh per year. I've averaged 5001mwh over the last five years and the deviation has been consistently within 2.5% for all five years.

My point is that you'll just have to look every Aug 31, or whatever your anniversary date is, and record the value. Too many variables. I can see on the other side of my valley 1.5 miles away is always fogged in and my place is always sunny because of the way the wind blows up this side off the ocean. Both houses would have the same estimate for the same system I'm sure. My roof points exactly 180 degrees with a 4/12 slope. Any other direction or angle would subtract, on average.

Hopefully, you'll also be getting 24% more than you thought. A pleasant surprise for a change. My Prius averaged 53.1 over it's life, mostly highway, despite estimates being far below that. I attributed this an attitude change when I died my hair gray. ;D

RickM and others have noticed that the military seems to have the upper hand on energy issues. Maybe they’ve already taken all the aces out of the deck. Here’s something spooky for Halloween.

Invention Secrecy Still Going Strong

There were 5,135 inventions that were under secrecy orders at the end of Fiscal Year 2010, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Under the Invention Secrecy Act of 1951, patent applications on new inventions can be subject to secrecy orders restricting their publication if government agencies believe that disclosure would be “detrimental to the national security.” Most of the listed technology areas are closely related to military applications. But some of them range more widely.

Thus, the 1971 list indicates that patents for solar photovoltaic generators were subject to review and possible restriction if the photovoltaics were more than 20% efficient. Energy conversion systems were likewise subject to review and possible restriction if they offered conversion efficiencies “in excess of 70-80%.” Biochemical fuel cells and biochemical electric generators

Also, methods for controlling climate to effect changes in temperature, atmospheric water vapor content, sea water temperatures, precipitation, etc. Excluding cloud seeding, heaters, wind machines, or other local or small scale effects (pg 14). (Regional climate control?)

One may … ask what comparable advances in technology may be subject to restriction and non-disclosure today.

Interesting topic.

My guess is that most of the inventions on that 5,135-item list would qualify as interesting, but not game-changing or Earth-shaking.

I wonder how many of these inventions actually are legitimate..that is, do they do what they claim to do, and/or are they feasible to implement...

For those who don't like to dig to far, here is the PDF (small size) with the list of inventions/technologies which could qualify for protection (this list is from 1971):


Another related concept: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Born_secret

Wikipedia article on U.S. invention secrecy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invention_Secrecy_Act

I personally think that the idea that the U.S. Government (USG) suppresses technology/invention knowledge gained by a private citizen, even one not working in the employ of the USG (or through a USG contract)is an affront to individual U.S. citizens' liberties.

This invention secrecy example alone informs us that the USG is not a government by the people, and for the people...yes, the people in the USG are U.S. citizens, but once you are in certain 'clubs', the idea of transparency and accountability of information to the U.S. people is out the window...transparency and accountability, in fact, are seen as subversive, even treasonous, concepts.

The real joke is that USG thinks it can suppress ideas...I seem to recall numerous articles about academic and private organizations achieving PV efficiencies (in the lab) of up to ~ 42%. I guess that ship has sailed since 1971!

What's more, plenty of inventions are made by people who are not U.S. citizens.

In this age of the Internet, etc., if someone invented warp drive (substitute your own favorite cornucopian idea here), they could post the information at many sites on the Internet, email and snail-mail data to numerous news, academic, and Non-government organizations, and forgo the patent process in exchange for sharing information they feel could help humanity, or to hold to their ideals of intellectual freedom, or to achieve their rightful place in history, etc.

Listen up, all you Tin Foil Hatters....

Is That a H.A.A.R.P. playing in the background?


No Big Bad Hurricanes in south Florida these past few years!!!

All Hail!! The Wicked Witch is dead!

No Big Bad Hurricanes in south Florida these past few years!!!

All Hail!! The Wicked Witch is dead!

Right, tell that to my wind insurance company who just jacked up my rates...

Invention Secrecy Still Going Strong

Although the US government has a lot of things they keep secret, you have to keep in mind that there's often not of rational thinking behind the rules.

A case in point is three Canadian-built flying saucers that are sitting in a warehouse in Area 51, the fabled secret US site where weird things happen that they don't talk about.

Remember, I'm getting this story from Canadian government sources, not US government sources. Anyhow, the Canadian government wanted one of these things back so they could put it into a museum in Ottawa as an example of Canadian aerospace technology of the 1950s. It has got to be totally obsolete by now, and besides the Russians have stolen all of Canada's technology already, so what could be the problem?

The US government refused to return any to Canada because they still considered them top secret.

So, it's true. There are three alien flying saucers sitting in Area 51 that the US government will not talk about. But they've all got "Made in Canada" stamped on the vehicle ID plates. It's an even weirder world than you thought.

There are also some US domestic flying saucers sitting in area 51, and they are obsolete, too. But they won't talk about them either.

Is there a substitute for Helium 3 in well bore datalogers?

The Helium-3 Shortage: Supply, Demand, and Options for Congress (a CRS report to Congress)

The world is experiencing a shortage of helium-3, a rare isotope of helium with applications in homeland security, national security, medicine, industry, and science. … After several years of demand exceeding supply, a call for large quantities of helium-3 spurred federal officials to realize that insufficient helium-3 was available to meet the likely future demand.

Policymakers now face a number of challenging decisions. In the short term, these decisions are mainly about how to allocate a scarce resource in the face of competing priorities: science versus security, the private sector versus the public sector, and national needs versus international obligations. Applications with unique needs may pose particular challenges.

Helium-3 absorbs neutrons. This property has resulted in its widespread use for neutron detection. … the oil and gas industry uses neutron detectors for well logging

Don't know about your lead question, but the CRS report you linked is a good information source on the topic.

Bottom line: The price of Helium-3 likely will rise dramatically, prompting substitution when able, better recycling and more efficient use, and more production from nuclear reactors (TPBARs-to-Tritium-decaying to He3) and implementing production (separation) from helium (He4 and a little bit of He3 mixed together) produced from NG wells.

If only the transition from oil for transportation to alternative energy for transportation was as easy a question to answer.

Back in 1927 a Swede submitted a patent for making helium (for airships), but decided it did not work because it made too much heat and not enough helium.
Which brings us inevitably to cold fusion

I believe that there is a lot of tritium in the surface regolith of the moon, captured from the solar wind.

One more reason to stop gazing into the bowels of the earth for energy and look up.

Mining Luna for helium isn't a new idea. It's going to be a good while before BHP Billiton is shipping us fuel pods for our fusion reactors any time soon.

On a related tangent, I'm plugging Moon because it's a damn good film.

By "damn good film" you mean it's a *stellar* film, right? :P

you mean it's a *stellar* film

Ahhhhh, You guys are a bunch of Lunatics!
(In a good way)

It's going to be a good while before BHP Billiton is shipping us fuel pods for our fusion reactors any time soon.

I am hoping that you are wrong but fearing that you are right.

Mind you, BHP seems to have a fairly caviler attitude to money. They built and then shut down Ravensthorpe nickel mine with aplomb when they decided that it wasn't a goer.

Enough money was spent there to impress me.
So I guess that they have enough to get it done if they decided to harvest energy from space.
Whoever controls the energy market, controls the world. Even BHP executives must be impressed by that.

If not them, then whatever replaces them.

Tritium, with a 12-year half-life, decays into helium-3, which can be recovered. The Canadian CANDU reactors make tritium in abundance(by the ton)as a waste product. Light water reactors also produce and capture tritium.

The Canadians could produce helium-3 by long term storage of a tritiated compound (a hydrogen atom in each molecule of the compound has been replaced by a tritium atom, the compound is called a tritiated compound.) in stead of dumping the tritium into the environment.

Here's an important update on problematic residual weathered oil in the Gulf of Mexico. The pictures alone are terrific. But the insight of environmental scientist Ed Overton into late-phase dynamics of the spill is even more helpful. If his analysis turns out to be correct, perhaps we could move beyond the posturing that has come to dominate the discourse on spill impacts.

Massive stretches of weathered oil spotted in Gulf of Mexico

Those claims, announced on the six-month anniversary of the spill, brought quick rebuttals from a variety of environmental and fishermen's groups who insist their members have been reporting sightings of surface oil all along.

LSU environmental sciences professor Ed Overton, who has been involved in oil spill response for 30 years, said he believes both claims could be accurate. The Louisiana sweet crude from the Deepwater Horizon is very light and has almost neutral buoyancy, Overton said, which means that when it picks up any particles from the water column, it will sink to the bottom.

"It's quite possible that when the weather calms and the water temperatures changes, the oil particles that have spread along the bottom will recoagulate, then float to the surface again and form these large mats.

"I say this is a possibility, because I know that the (Coast Guard) has sent boats out to investigate these reports, but by the time they get to the scenes, the weather has changed and they don't see any oil."

"I think the reports are credible, but I also think the incident responders are trying to find the oil, too,'' Overton said. "This is unusual, but nothing about this bloody spill has been normal since the beginning."

Overton said it is important for the state to discover the mechanism that is causing the oil to reappear because even this highly weathered oil poses a serious threat to the coastal ecology.

Dire as the last article on Arctic ice loss sounds, the reality is far more dire.

Ice extent loss is only one part of the picture. The real measure is total ice volume, and that has plummeted in the last few years in an even more dramatic way than ice extent.


After the stunning loss in ice coverage in 2007, the extent figures have bounced around near this new historic low. But average ice thickness during the last two years has fallen precipitously by 50%.


(See the second graph with the plunging red line.)

And the threat of feed back from methane is not, of course, limited to land-based tundra. Far more methane is trapped in the sea bed, and is starting to bubble out.


And now see this:



Warmer Arctic probably permanent, scientists say

By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment CorrespondentPosted 2010/10/21 at 3:17 pm EDT

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21, 2010 (Reuters) — The signs of climate change were all over the Arctic this year -- warmer air, less sea ice, melting glaciers -- which probably means this weather-making region will not return to its former, colder state, scientists reported on Thursday.



Normally cold air is "bottled up" in the Arctic during winter months but in late 2009 and early 2010, powerful winds blew cold air from north to south instead of the more typical west to east pattern, said Jim Overland, an oceanographer at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle.

Overland saw this as a direct link between a warmer Arctic with less sea ice and weather in the middle latitudes, and he suggested it was likely to become more common as Arctic sea ice melts over the next 50 years.

This pattern has occurred only three times in the past 160 years, Overland said at the briefing.

"It's a bit of a paradox where you have overall global warming and warming in the atmosphere (that) actually can create some more of these winter storms," Overland said. "Global warming is not just warming everywhere. ... It creates these complexities."

Records tumbled in Greenland, where 2010 was the warmest year in 138 years in the island's capital city of Nuuk, and four big glaciers lost more than 10 square miles (25.90 sq km) each, said Jason Box of the Byrd Polar Research Center in Ohio.

"There's now really no doubt that glacier ice losses have not just increased but have accelerated," Box said. "Sea level rise projections for the future will again need to be revised upward."

I wonder what caused the warm year 1872?

Are you just trying to be cute, or are you really that much of a dweeb?

Cease the name-calling, please.

I really thought that it might be some sort of volcanic action but could not find a referance. Thanks anyway.

Records tumbled in Greenland, where 2010 was the warmest year in 138 years

1872 would be the first year of continuous record keeping and not a temperature maximum. Much like the temperature records this year in Russia are not overcoming high values from 150 years ago, but the highest the region has seen for over 1000 years. But that is only because the lake sediment records are not complete.

Barents Sea sediment analysis tells us that the surface waters are the warmest since the Miocene.

Thanks for making the point explicitly, dis.

One would have thought it was obvious, but apparently not to some.

This article gave me a good belly laugh ( apologies if this article was posted previously).

It’s a feeling that colors even simple everyday things I see with a dusky haze of foreboding:

“Oh, look at that – they’re laying a cement foundation that’ll be a vernal pond in ten years.” Or, “I wonder what that nice, shiny office building’s gonna look like with a big, puffy Virginia-creeper sweater?” Or, “Will that devoted lawn-enthusiast, in a cackling fit of collapse-fever, burn his last gallon of gas to give it just one final mow?” Or, “So you’re spending $120,000 for your kid to go to college (i.e. parties), and then come home to raise a post-carbon family in your den?”

It’s like Jim Kunstler has crawled into my head and is giving me a running commentary on everything I see: “Some profound seismic infarction…now propels deadly tsunamis toward the land masses where money dwells. And when they break over the shorelines…” Shhh, Jim, I can’t hear what this person is saying to me.

I love it when an author makes me laugh at myself ;)

I have the same thing. Whenever i see or read about some big road project i often think/say: Oh look, they are building a new bicycle path. Or: That will be a nice bikepath in a decade or two.
Not everyone gets it when i say it out loud ;-)

Exactly BikeNerd.

It's good to look ahead and see usefulness in the soon-to-be-artifacts of the industrial age. Our new elementary school built on the outer edge of town, for the sake of bussing, could become our local "Super Dome" in the event of a Katrina-style Black Swan for example.

All the resorts built around our bay will be magnificent diving reefs in a hundred years or so.


Have I missed something, or has it been a couple months since we have seen an oilwatch monthly? Has this important report been dropped from TOD? Is Rembrandt not well?

Thanks, gs, but I was hoping for September and October of this year.

Rare-Earth Furor Overlooks China's 2006 Industrial Policy Signal

It seems to me that the Dragon is bearing its talons.
All hail "Globalisation".
It has left the West in Hock up to our nostrils. We have nothing left to loose but our freedom.
Morality is not a cheap optional extra.It costs, and is central to survival.

Time to go on the front foot.
Assume that freedom is lost already and Mobilise the resources.

Colonise the High ground. Get off the planet.

The time for Agony Aunts and excuses is over. As Winston Churchill said, we are entering a time of consequences.

I agree, but just one minor niggle: it's "lose". I've just noticed this confusion a lot more lately.

Grammar Nazi signing off.

How embarrassing.
I shall have a word with the proof reader.

It originally only happened to people that habituate blogs and before that newsgroups. This guy claims he started seeing "lose vs loose" in 2005.

I started seeing it in 1990, but only on the internet. It came from the developer rag against users in calling them "lusers" which morphed into "loosers" and then everyone got confused.


Urban dictionary for looser

But now it has spread and nobody can spell it any more.

I hate humanity sometimes.

Me too. :-)

And "led" is all too frequently spelled "lead" these days, perhaps due to similar pronunciation. (She was Pb'd down the garden path?)

My current pet peeve is an over-reliance on the old (and largely incorrect) "i before e" rule. Examples:


I saw this a few weeks ago. Its the Maglev train in China on its daily routine of going 270 mph... I'd love to go there just to ride this thing. How many miles of this we could have laid here in this country if we didn't have to fight sand wars in the ME...


Mazda Reveals Next-Generation 'SKYACTIV' Technologies

Hiroshima, Oct 20, 2010 (JCN Newswire via COMTEX) -- Mazda Motor Corporation today announced the launch of its SKYACTIV next-generation technologies - including engines, transmissions, vehicle bodies and chassis - that will begin appearing in Mazda products from 2011. The Mazda Demio (known overseas as the Mazda2) will be the first model to feature SKYACTIV technology and will go on sale in Japan in the first half of 2011. It will be powered by the SKYACTIV-G, Mazda's next-generation direct injection gasoline engine that achieves significantly improved fuel efficiency thanks to a high compression ratio of 14.0:1*. The Mazda Demio SKYACTIV-G will achieve fuel economy of 30 kilometers per liter** without any assistance from an electric motor.

30 kilometers per liter = 70.564375 miles per gallon. Wonder whether it would run on methanol at 14:1 compression ratio?

Just starting into diesel range @ 14:1.


An English chap recently drove a production model Volkswagen Bluemotion Passat to the South of France and back again on a single tank of fuel. IIRC he got 90mpg (that will be British gallons).

while the USA, with all sorts of fancy batteries and electrics to aid their infernal combustion engines struggles to get 1/2 of that.


Under current US tax law, cellulosic biofuel production has be incentivized to an extraordinary level. An incentive in the amount of up to $1.01 per gallon of cellulosic biofuel can be had.

The Molten Salt Oxidation Process (MSOP) can make 150 gallons of Cellulosic Biofuel per ton of dry crop or wood waste. That fuel has a dollar value in the US of about $155(incentive) + $3.14 /gallon(150 gallons) = $626/ton of waste.

Corn stover contains phosphorus (as P2O5), and potassium (as K2O). From a fertilizer replacement standpoint recovering these minerals from the ash of the MSOP is economically important.

A ton of corn stover contains an estimated $22 in phosphorus (as P2O5), and potassium (as K2O). This adds to the value of the MSOP

$626 + $22 = $648/ton of waste.

* $3.14/gallon in 2011 in the latest EIA forecast

Processing 1000 tons of bio mass per day requires about 50 megawatts of thermal power. The cost estimate for a Hyperion reactor at 75 megawatts total thermal power cost about $25 million.

1000 tons of dry corn stover or wood chips can generate 1000 * 150 gallons = 150,000 gallons of bio diesel per day producing 1000 * $648 = $ 648,000/day in revenue and tax incentives.

Cellulosic Biofuel Producer Tax Credit

A producer that is registered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may be eligible for a tax incentive in the amount of up to $1.01 per gallon of cellulosic biofuel that is: sold and used by the purchaser in the purchaser's trade or business to produce a cellulosic biofuel mixture; sold and used by the purchaser as a fuel in a trade or business; sold at retail for use as a motor vehicle fuel; used by the producer in a trade or business to produce a cellulosic biofuel mixture; or used by the producer as a fuel in a trade or business. If the cellulosic biofuel also qualifies for alcohol fuel tax credits, the credit amount is reduced to $0.46 per gallon for biofuel that is ethanol and $0.41 per gallon if the biofuel is not ethanol. Cellulosic biofuel is defined as liquid fuel produced from any lignocellulosic or hemicellulosic matter that is available on a renewable basis, and meets U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fuel and fuel additive registration requirements. Alcohol with a proof of less than 150, fuel with a water or sediment content of more than 4%, and fuel with an ash content of more than 1% are not considered cellulosic biofuels. The incentive is allowed as a credit against the producer's income tax liability. Under current law, only qualified fuel produced in the U.S. between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2012, for use in the U.S. may be eligible. For more information, see IRS Publication 510 and IRS Forms 637 and 6478, which are available via the IRS Web site. (Reference Public Law 111-152, Section 1408; Public Law 110-234, Section 15321; and 26 U.S. Code 40)

Change may be coming to the U.S. Military-Industrial Complex in the next few years:


And the bad news does not stop there. The number of new contingencies the armed service has to prepare for is “infinite,” while the assets — primarily aircraft — to address them diminish, he told a National Press Club luncheon Oct. 12.

General Schwartz doesn't get the real problem...it isn't flat budgets or lack of enough airframes...it is his absurd attitude that the number of new contingencies the armed services have to prepare for is 'infinite'...

There are a lot of folks who otherwise rail at other government spending who automatically give the MIC a blank check and a blind eye...

Believe me, the waste and inefficiency in DoD,DOE, intelligence agencies, and DHS is legion.

Let me pre-empt the folks who usually jump in and say 'the biggest part of our budget is entitlement programs'.

Yes, you are correct...but I challenge anyone to prove quantitatively that a 10% decrease in MIC spending makes us 10% less secure, or vice-versa. All in the mind's eye, and the MIC propagandizes fear into the Low Information Voters to keep that carte blanche money torrent flowing.

Yep, I get it...corporate welfare of the highest degree is much more important than health care and a senior citizen safety net.

If we took half the MIC budget and spent it on alternative energy and efficiency the folks who endorse the blank check to the MIC would scream 'socialism subsidy' about funding a transformational energy infrastructure.

We are too brain-washed to save ourselves....

It seems to me that any muppet with a kalashnikov can ruin the best laid plans of the military and render the MIC useless. Why spend any money on them at all, take a leaf out of the British method of rationalising the military... cut the budgets and pretend your enemies are digital.

Massive stretches of weathered oil spotted in Gulf of Mexico

Just three days after the U.S. Coast Guard admiral in charge of the BP oil spill cleanup declared little recoverable surface oil remained in the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana fishers Friday found miles-long strings of weathered oil floating toward fragile marshes on the Mississippi River delta.

The discovery, which comes as millions of birds begin moving toward the region in the fall migration, gave ammunition to groups that have insisted the government has overstated clean-up progress, and could force reclosure of key fishing areas only recently reopened.

If cow waste was utilized as feedstock for biodiesel production, food supply should not be impacted.

Give or take, the cow population in the US is 100,000,000.

A Holstein (1400 pounds) cow produces 115 pounds of manure per day or approximately 21 tons per year. Heifers will average approximately 7 tons per year

The total US yearly manure production capacity is about 2,100,000,000 tons. By drying the 40% moisture content, 1,260,000,000 tons of dry content is estimated.

At 150 gallons of bio-diesel per dry ton of cow waste, production of 189 billion gallons per year of bio-diesel is possible.

By comparison, the 2004 U,S diesel use was 62 billion gallons with on-road use at 37 billion gallons.