Drumbeat: November 11, 2010

Saudi oil analyst disputes high supply theory

A Saudi oil analyst has disputed long-standing scenarios by the United States and other countries about the projected increase in crude demand and supply in the long term, saying the increase would be far lower than expected.

Sadad Ibrahim Al-Husseini, former executive vice president for exploration and production at the government-owned Saudi Aramco, said conventional oil reserves worldwide are depleting at twice the rate of their replacement and this would lead to a supply shortage which could be offset by unconventional oil.

He also rebuffed forecasts that Gulf oil producers would pump as much as 30.9 million bpd in 2035, saying their output would not exceed 26 million bpd. Addressing an oil event in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, he cited estimates by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) showing conventional oil demand will rise from around 81.4 million bpd in 2010 to 97.05 million bpd in 2035.

Who’s right on oil demand, OPEC or the IEA?

Opec today raised its predicted level of oil demand for 2011 from 86.83m barrels per day to 86.95mbpd, or an increase of 120,000 barrels.

This would imply its current forecast is that demand growth will be 1.2mbpd higher than this year.

China may tap state reserves for diesel shortage-exec

BEIJING/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - China is considering tapping state refined fuel reserves to tackle a weeks-long diesel shortage, while Unipec has imported 70,000-80,000 tonnes of diesel for late November delivery, its first in almost two years.

While state refiners are confident the supply squeeze will ease significantly by end of November, China may need to import more cargoes for December and January delivery, or at least until domestic production catches up with demand, traders said.

Analysis: Revival Seen in Upstream Capital Spending

Wood Mackenzie's analysis of companies' investment plans reveals that global upstream capital spending in 2010 is likely to exceed US $380 billion, indicating that confidence has returned to many regions and sectors of the upstream industry; however, recovery is not uniform.

FACTBOX - Details on Petrobras' capitalization plan

(Reuters) - Brazilian state oil company Petrobras in September issued $70 billion in shares as part of a fund-raising effort to finance an ambitious deep-water oil exploration campaign.

Petrobras used $43 billion of that stock to buy rights to 5 billion barrels of offshore crude from the government, the company's controlling shareholder, as part of an oil-for-shares swap. Minority shareholders participated in the operation by buying shares.

Mexico's Pemex Crude Output Figures Down Briefly On Bad Weather

MEXICO CITY (Dow Jones)--Mexico's state-owned oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, interrupted the transport of some of its crude oil production in the first part of November due to bad weather in the southern Gulf of Mexico, which was reflected in output numbers for its top Ku-Maloob-Zaap complex, said a press official Wednesday. The official added that conditions had returned to normal and no actual production was lost.

Chávez: PdVSA to begin offshore drilling ’soon’

Venezuelan state oil company PdVSA will “soon” being exploratory drilling in Cuban waters of the Gulf of Mexico, President Hugo Chávez said during a bilateral meeting in Havana earlier this week.

He didn’t elaborate, but said the oil company’s 3-d seismic data is what triggered the decision to go ahead.

KSA power projects show new emphasis on gas

This week’s tender and contract activity shows that Saudi Arabia is making use of increased gas production to meet rising demand for electricity, with power and water plants running on the feedstock.

Chevron sees Atlas natgas output growing sevenfold

(Reuters) - Chevron Corp expects Atlas Energy, which it has agreed to buy for $3.2 billion, to ramp up output to 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, or more than seven times current production.

China and India see what the US doesn’t - the potential of natural gas

This has been a busy week for US natural gas. It started off with the US signing an agreement to help India exploit its shale gas resources during President Barack Obama’s visit to that country. The agreement mirrored one the US had signed with China some time back to also help that country make the most of its shale.

These are both striking agreements because they demonstrate that other countries see tremendous potential in natural gas. And yet the US government has failed to appreciate the expertise and experience that launched the global shale gas scramble is in its own backyard. The US gas boom has generated so much capacity in America that prices have collapsed.

US Diplomat's Memo Urged 'Greening' of 'Shocking' Oil Sands

Alberta's largest buyer of oil appeared internally conflicted, torn between the need for a large secure oil supply and its desire to control carbon emissions. In the end, though, its support for energy supply won out.

That was the conclusion of a top American diplomat writing to the U.S. State Department headquarters in Washington D.C. in Feb. 2008, nearly a year before Barack Obama succeeded George W. Bush as president. The memo was signed by Tom Huffaker, a lawyer who has been U.S. consul general for Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories since Aug. 2006. In March 2009 he became vice president, policy and environment for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) in Calgary.

In South Korea, Going for the Green

SEOUL — If spending alone were enough to save the planet, South Korea would be among its chief defenders.

Funding committed under the country’s national “green growth” plans, unveiled last year, includes total government and private sector investment of 107 trillion won, or $97 billion — about 2 percent of annual gross domestic product — in environment-related industries and 40 trillion won in renewable energy sources.

Oil `Hellfighters' Back in Vogue as BP Blowout Stokes Demand

Demand is surging for workers trained to fight oil well blowouts to show regulators and investors emergencies like BP Plc’s fatal blast can be handled before they erupt into billion-dollar disasters.

Well-control instructor Doug Shelley and other practitioners of a trade depicted in John Wayne’s 1968 film “Hellfighters” say they’re overwhelmed with applications for their two-and-half-day classes instructing roughnecks, roustabouts and drilling engineers.

Musings: Oil Industry Confronts Ghost of Future Regulation

The meeting room was filled by all the attending members in anticipation of the presentation. There had been considerable speculation about what he would say and the tone he would use. There were thoughts that Director Bromwich would use this conference of offshore industry executives to spell out more about his views on how quickly permits would be issued for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. There were other, more skeptical views suggesting that the presentation would be treated as more an obligatory necessity with little new and/or revolutionary information in his message.

Repsol May Expand Peru Refinery as Fuel Demand, Auto Sales Soar, CFO Says

Repsol YPF SA, the Spanish oil company which supplies 45 percent of Peru’s fuel, said it’s interested in expanding its 102,000 barrel-a-day La Pampilla oil refinery as gasoline demand surges.

No money, no nukes

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Nuclear power may be one issue both President Obama and the new Republican Congress can agree on, but unless someone is willing to pony up more money, a big new build-out of nuclear power plants remains unlikely.

Experts examine Geopolitics of oil at ECSSR's energy conference

Abu Dhabi (WAM) -- Geopolitics of oil : Outlook and Challenges'' was the focussed of day two at the 16th Annual Energy Conference organised by the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) under the theme ''The Oil Era: Emerging Challenges''.

Prof. Michael T. Klare, Five College Professor of Peace and World Security Studies, Hampshire College, United States of America, spoke about International Competition for Energy Resources, saying ''Historically, the competition for global oil resources began with Britain's drive to secure oil supplies in World War I. The Cold War forced the United States to seek outside sources of oil, and ultimately led to the US-Saudi relationship, guaranteeing oil supplies to the US and security to Saudi Arabia.

The US, he said, had a formal policy to protect oil flows with military power if necessary, a doctrine that continues despite the end of the Cold War, particularly in the Gulf.

Energy expert tells Guelph audience ‘the easy oil is gone’

GUELPH — If nobody likes the bearer of bad news, it must be painful being Robert Rapier.

The Hawaii-based chemical engineer is one of the world’s top experts on peak oil, and he’s currently touring the U.S. with a stark message indeed.

The Military Is Preparing For Peak Oil, And Civilian Authorities Are Not

Various military reports have come out recently that analyze the apocalyptic threat posed by peak oil. The most notorious of these, from a German military think tank, warned of market failures and a crisis of political legitimacy and proposed ways to manage the risk.

Nothing comparable, however, has been issued by U.S. civilian authorities, like the FDA and the DoT.

Can Totnes and District House Itself? The potential of local building materials to build resilience

In the same way the local food movement shifts its focus from out-of-season, long supply chain, high embodied energy foods towards more locally sourced, low impact foods rooted in the local region or ‘foodshed’ (Kloppenberg et al. 1996), an emerging branch of architecture and construction examine similar transitions with building materials. The ‘natural building movement’ (e.g. Kennedy et al. 2001, Kennedy 2004, Woolley 2006, Broome 2007, Bevan & Woolley 2008, Jones 2009) argues that an architecture based predominantly on local materials is the most appropriate for a lower-energy context. Seyfang (2009) noted the evolution of the natural building movement from the ideas of Schumacher’s (1974) concept of ‘appropriate technology’, through to the Vales’ (Vale & Vale 1975) concept of the ‘Autonomous House’, to Pearson’s (1989) term the ‘natural house’.

John Michael Greer: Joining In The Dance

Recent headlines, it seems to me, put an interesting slant on the much-ballyhooed claim that we live in an information society. I’m thinking here especially of the slow-motion train wreck of the US banking system now under way, courtesy of the very same system of slicing and packaging real estate debt that was praised to the skies as a brilliant financial innovation a few short years ago.

The Good, the Bad, and the Unlikely: Evaluating a proposal to reduce the deficit

– Raising the gasoline tax by 15 cents per gallon. The U.S. has lower gas taxes and, not coincidentally, higher carbon emissions per capita than other developed nations. It has enormous unmet needs in transportation infrastructure, which is funded by the gas tax. But asking Americans to pay more in gas taxes is so politically dangerous that even President Obama, who hails from mass-transit-rich Chicago, isn't for this.

– Cuts to farm subsidies. If someone told you that we were spending money to damage the environment, contribute to the obesity epidemic, and condemn Third World farmers to poverty, you'd probably suggest that we get rid of this program. Well, that's farm subsidies, which use your tax dollars to keep high-fructose corn syrup plentiful, chemicals flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, and West African subsistence farmers unable to compete with American conglomerates. The commission co-chairs want to trim them. That's a good idea, but try running on that platform in the Iowa caucuses. Then, once you're in the White House, try getting it past the senators from Iowa or any other farm state. Protecting parochial regional policies like this is exactly what the anti-democratic Senate was set up to do, and it does it quite well.

The entire proposal is here.

Oil climbs to 25-mth high on China demand, U.S. supply

An Energy Information Administration (EIA) government report on Wednesday showed a 3.3 million-barrel drawdown in U.S. crude inventories last week, compared with forecasts for a 1.4 million-barrel gain.

Stockpiles of distillate, including heating oil and diesel, fell 5 million barrels as demand for the fuels over the past four weeks jumped 16 percent from the same period a year earlier.

"Any lingering perception that the oil market is primarily characterised by high inventories does now appear to be in the process of being put to the sword rather brutally," Barclays Capital analysts headed by Paul Horsnell said.

Oil Contango Poised to Diminish as Cushing Storage Grows

The longest period of contango in the U.S. oil market may end as storage capacity expands by more than a quarter at Cushing, Oklahoma, the biggest U.S. crude- trading hub.

OPEC raises forecasts for 2010, 2011 world oil demand

VIENNA— The Organization of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC) revised upwards on Thursday its world oil demand growth estimates for both 2010 and 2011 amid cautious optimism about the global economic outlook.

OPEC said it was pencilling in world oil demand growth of 1.32 million barrels per day (bpd) or 1.6 percent to 85.78 million bpd for the whole of 2010, compared with 1.3 percent previously.

And in 2011, oil demand would then increase by a further 1.17 million bpd or 1.4 percent to 86.95 million bpd, instead of the previous estimate of 1.2 percent, the cartel said in its latest monthly bulletin.

China's October Crude Oil Processing Increases 12% From a Year Earlier

China’s oil processing rose to a record last month after refiners increased production to ease a domestic fuel shortage.

Plants processed 37 million metric tons, or 8.8 million barrels a day, in October, up 12 percent from a year earlier, China Mainland Marketing Research Co., which compiles data for the National Bureau of Statistics, said in a statement from Beijing today. That exceeded the previous all-time high of 8.6 million barrels a day processed in June.

Asia's Fuel Oil Discount Widens as China Refiners Raise Processing Rates

The discount of fuel oil produced in Asia to benchmark crude prices widened after a report that China’s output of the product climbed last month, raising concerns of oversupply.

Abu Dhabi Said to Reduce Naphtha Offer Prices for Asia Starting January

Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. reduced the offer prices for a year’s supply of naphtha to customers in Asia from January, according to three people who received notification.

Commodity Price Surge Is Luring Investors Back to Funds, Kenmar Group Says

Surging commodity prices are prompting investors to put more cash back into metals, grains and energy, according to Kenmar Group, which expects funds under management to grow by about a third to $2 billion by next March.

Investors are returning as funds investing in commodity and managed-futures hedge funds are making money, Co-Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Shewer said in an interview. Assets managed by the Rye Brook, New York-based group peaked at $4 billion in 2008, before the financial crisis led to withdrawals, Shewer said.

International Energy Agency says 'peak oil' has hit. Crisis averted?

It was a looming doomsday scenario: "Peak oil" would someday hit, potentially sending food prices soaring, stock markets reeling, and countries to war to seize and protect remaining oil reserves.

Instead, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday, peak crude oil already came and went unnoticed in 2006.

Crisis averted, apparently.

Stuart Staniford: IEA Acknowledges Peak Oil

If you go to the executive summary of the 2009 International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook, and search for "peak oil", your browser will come up empty. The whole subject was so beneath the dignity of a serious energy agency that they didn't even bother mentioning it.

However, yesterday, the 2010 IEA World Energy Outlook became available. And if you repeat the exercise in that executive summary, you will come upon a section titled:

Will peak oil be a guest or the spectre at the feast?

Kjell Aleklett: World Energy Outlook 2010 Is A Cry For Help

Energy is a critical strategic issue for the OECD nations so it is naïve to think that there is no political agenda when its energy watchdog, the IEA, publishes its prognoses. Bad news on the energy front can make life difficult for politicians so the numbers given in the IEA’s World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2010 report are given a positive spin. But a closer look shows a picture that is anything but positive.

Kiss My Vindication: Peak Oil Goes Mainstream

In 2004, we made a bold call: Oil was going to hit $150 a barrel in five years.

Well, we were wrong. It happened in four years.

Along the way, we took a lot of heat from the establishment for being alarmists, “peak freaks,” doom-and-gloomers, and just plain idiots. After all, for the past three decades, so-called "experts" have predicted the world was running out of oil...

Gregor McDonald: Crude Oil Production Forecast 2015

With fresh data out from EIA Washington just yesterday afternoon, and, on the heels of Tuesday's IEA Paris’ long-overdue admission of Peak Oil, I thought I would release a crude oil forecast. This is a production chart that I’ve been working on over the past few weeks.

Reverse Bubbleomics: What If OPEC Figures Out Crude Oil’s Fair Price is $150?

So let’s say you are Abu Dhabi, or Saudi Arabia, and any other oil exporter that has the independence and the integrity, to decide to put the long-term prospects of its own people ahead of the long-term prospects of the Free World.

You got money in the bank, your infrastructure is built, and the biggest threat you face is people trying to put their hands in your pockets, plus there is the theoretical threat of your neighbour (Iran) invading and stealing your oil (not that that is very likely, but the Free World would have you believe that could happen tomorrow).

If those two countries decided tomorrow that they would only pump enough oil to finance their essential current expenditure plus capital expenditure, oil prices would go up, easily to $150.

PetroChina, Sinopec Advance on Speculation China May Increase Fuel Prices

China’s biggest refiners, including PetroChina Co., rose by their daily limit in Shanghai trading as crude climbed to a two-year high, prompting speculation the government will raise fuel prices for the third time this year.

Indian Oil Corp. Surpasses Reliance Industries as Nation's Biggest Refiner

Indian Oil Corp. surpassed Reliance Industries Ltd. as the biggest refiner in the country after increasing capacity at a plant in north India by 25 percent to 15 million metric tons a year.

State-run Indian Oil restarted a crude distillation unit at Panipat following the expansion a “couple of days ago,” Basavaraj Ningappa Bankapur, director of refineries, said by telephone today. “We will gradually start all the units and the refinery will start using its full capacity soon.”

Special Report: Gas in the Holy Land

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Using the Bible as its guide, Texas-based energy company Zion Oil and Gas has searched for oil in the Holy Land for a decade. The company uses a map of the 12 ancient tribes of Israel and the biblical assertion - "the foot of Asher to be dipped in oil on the head of Joseph" - as an unlikely guide to help it decide where to drill.

Woodside Purchase May Be `Plan B' for BHP, Morgan Stanley Says

BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s largest mining company, may seek to acquire oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum Ltd. if its $40 billion bid for Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. fails, Morgan Stanley said.

Oil Exploration, Production Spending May Climb 5%, Wood Mackenzie Says

Oil and gas companies will increase spending on exploration and production by more than 5 percent this year as the outlook for commodity prices improves, Wood Mackenzie, a consultant, said in an e-mailed report today.

DNO Chief Says Iraq Government Deal Boosts Chances for Kurdish Oil Exports

DNO International ASA said a breakthrough in talks to form a government in Iraq will be an “important milestone” in paving the way for the resumption of oil exports from the Kurdish region.

“Getting a government in place is a necessary step for this process to move on,” Chief Executive Officer Helge Eide said in an interview in Oslo today. “If this happens, it’s a very positive development, and we hope things can now be resolved.”

Iraq's Oil Patch Opens the Spigot

BASRA, Iraq—This dusty and ragged city in southern Iraq was notorious a couple years back for its vicious militia warfare and rampant smuggling. Today Basra has a very different rep: one of the world's newest oil boom towns.

Some of the world's largest energy companies are ramping up drilling in Iraq. They are focused on a handful of fields clustered near Basra, the nation's oil hub, as the government attempts a dramatic expansion of output that could help moderate world energy prices for years to come.

Petrobras signs $3.46 bln deal for 8 platforms

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian state oil company Petrobras said on Thursday it had signed deals worth $3.46 billion for the construction of eight platform hulls to tap its huge offshore oil fields.

DEWA considers coal-powered future for Dubai

Dubai aims to supply 20 per cent of its energy needs from ultra-modern coal-fired power stations with the first plant to be in service by 2016, top officials said yesterday.

The emirate is evaluating high-efficiency generation from clean-burning coal and plans an initial station with a capacity of 1,500 megawatts, said Waleed Salman, a member of Dubai's Supreme Council of Energy.

Region vulnerable to peak oil: expert (Australia)

THE Great Southern is oil-vulnerable and urgently needs to prepare a risk management assessment, according to an Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil (AASPO) expert.

AASPO convenor Professor Bruce Robinson was in Albany last week to raise awareness for the cause.

Study explores Snoqualmie Valley’s use of public transit

Among the group’s key concerns is peak oil — the theory that oil supplies will reach a maximum point of production. Decreasing production will lead to rising prices, which will significantly hurt the global economy, according to Matthew Simmons, an advocate of peak oil theory and an energy advisor to former Pres. George W. Bush.

With the goal of better understanding local use of public transit, Transition Snoqualmie Valley designed and distributed a survey to Valley residents in September and October.

Bloomington Bulldozer: MPO caves to INDOT

Nestled into rolling land an hour south of Indianapolis, Bloomington -- home of Indiana University -- has declared itself a Transition Town, on the road to a sustainable future. We have a Peak Oil Task Force, a Commission on Sustainability, an Environmental Commission, and a Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Commission. We have a volunteer-run Center for Sustainable Living with green transportation, garden, building and energy projects. We have three co-op grocery stores, a Local Growers Guild, and a thriving farmers' market in summer and winter. We have bike and pedestrian paths, one of them right through the center of town.

What we do not have is an interstate highway.

The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) would like to give us one -- the Interstate 69 extension that would carry semis hurtling right past our town on their way to Mexico and Canada and points in between. A lot of us don't like that prospect.

The Horns Of Our Dilemma

We are using our non-renewable resources in such a way as to collapse our renewable resources.

What Would a No Growth Economy Actually Look Like?

Whether we're talking about the economics of happiness, exploring living simply as an alternative American dream, or worrying about the potential impact of peak oil on the Global economy, more and more people seem attuned to the idea that the growth-at-all-costs model of economic development is not as robust as it once appeared. But what are the alternatives? If we abandon the idea of ever rising GDP, does that mean we need to turn our back on material prosperity and well-being too? Thankfully, some forward thinking economists are grappling with just these questions. What would a no-growth economy actually look like?

Beyond Chaos

We need to keep in mind the big picture: the imminent collapse of industrial civilization. Without keeping the major issues in mind, there is no means of getting a clear idea of the subsidiary ones. There even seems to be an element of psychological displacement here: avoiding the fearful by looking at the trivial. We debate whether peak oil is 2008 or 2009, when in reality it’s a question hardly worth asking, compared to certain others. For example, it seems there will be a famine much greater, in terms of annual deaths, than ever before in history: the famine of China’s Great Leap Forward was 10 million a year, whereas the future famine may be 60 million a year.

China Should Restrict Rare-Earth Exports to Reduce Pollution, Group Says

China, which produces more than 90 percent of the world’s rare earth metals, needs to control exports of the minerals to protect natural resources and cut pollution, said the Chinese Society of Rare Earths.

Environment group warns of Arctic oil drilling risks

Freezing conditions, chunky ice and high seas could imperil operations to clean up an oil spill in the Arctic where the fragile ecosystem is already in tumult due to global warming, a US environmental group said Wednesday.

Walrus, seal, bowhead whale and polar bear habitats could be disrupted and entire remote communities wiped out if a toxic spill eliminates their means of subsistence living, said the report by the Pew Environment Group.

Opposition to Power Line at a Fjord Runs Deep

Critics of construction plans in Norway say pylons would mar majestic mountain landscapes.

Vestas Says U.S. Expansion on Course as Turbine Market Shrinks

Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the world’s largest wind turbine maker, will increase production in the U.S. even after analysts including HSBC Holdings Plc cut forecasts for installations in the region.

EU unveils trillion-euro single energy market

The European Union's energy chief Wednesday unveiled an ambitious 10-year trillion-euro energy investment plan for a single EU energy network to cut fossil fuel imports and fight climate change.

"There is no single energy market," Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told a news conference. "We need to render energy European."

Europe's current system was "like 19th century dukedoms rather than a modern open Europe," he said.

U.S. Dodges Bullet in Busy Hurricane Season

Using statistical analysis, scientists suggested that the chances of the United States coast's being hit by a hurricane in a season this active were higher than 95 percent. But it didn't happen.

Wind Power Fading With Climate Change

We've heard that fossil fuel reserves are dwindling. Now research suggest we may have less wind resources to tap in the future as well.

Wind turbines may have less fuel in a warmer world, because as the polar regions warm up there will be less wind, said Diandong Ren a researcher at the University of Texas in Austin.

Now, global scheme to boost rice yields while reducing environment damage

Scientists have launched a bold new research initiative that aims to dramatically improve the ability of rice farmers to feed growing populations in some of the world's poorest nations, and prevent the emission of greenhouse gases.

The efforts of the Global Rice Science Partnership, or GRiSP, are expected to lift 150 million people out of poverty by 2035 and prevent the emission of greenhouse gases by an amount equivalent to more than 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide.

EPA issues state guidelines for greenhouse gas emissions

Pressing ahead with plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions despite a congressional stalemate over global warming, the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday issued guidelines that gave states considerable discretion in regulating carbon dioxide emissions from large industrial facilities.

Texas won't follow new federal greenhouse gas policy

WASHINGTON – Texas officials said Wednesday that they would refuse to implement a program that regulates the largest industrial sources of greenhouse gas emissions, despite new federal rules that give wide leeway to states to implement the program.

The latest schism between the Environmental Protection Agency and Texas means the federal agency is almost certain to issue the permits for Texas businesses when the rules take effect Jan. 2. The EPA has previously stripped Texas' authority to issue permits under a separate air program, saying the state didn't comply with the Clean Air Act.

EPA Bid for Carbon-Rule Clarity Fails to Satisfy U.S. Business, Lawmakers

The Environmental Protection Agency’s effort to give states a leading role in curbing pollution tied to global warming failed to satisfy the agency’s critics in business and the U.S. Congress.

UN climate chief sees prospects for limited deal

AMSTERDAM – The United States and China, which have clashed repeatedly at U.N. climate talks, are moving closer toward a limited agreement at a major global warming conference next month, the top U.N. official on climate change said Wednesday.

"Everything I see tells me that there is a deal to be done" when delegates from most of the world's nations convene Nov. 29-Dec. 10 in the Mexican resort of Cancun, said Christiana Figueres, head of the U.N. climate change secretariat.

Kiribati mulls resettling population if seas rise

WELLINGTON (AFP) – The president of Kiribati has said the low-lying Pacific nation must begin planning to relocate its population in case global warming causes sea levels to rise and swamp the country.

Rising sea levels may drain millions of dollars from Fla. taxpayers

For millions of Floridians, life on a peninsula means melting icecaps in Greenland aren’t just something for polar bears to worry about.

Southern Florida’s coastal flood-control structures, counted on to protect low-lying communities from getting swamped, already are at risk from sea level rise due to climate change, according to scientists for the South Florida Water Management District.

Measuring the meltdown

With global warming hitting the Tibetan plateau hard, scientists gather to plan an international research campaign to understand and mitigate changes at the 'third pole'.

Role of melt in arctic sea ice loss found by NASA study

A NASA analysis of satellite data has quantified, for the first time, the amount of older and thicker "multiyear" sea ice lost from the Arctic Ocean due to melting.

The EIA’s International Petroleum Monthly came out late yesterday with the data for August. World oil production, C+C, was down 306,000 barrels per day. This was primarily due to maintenance in the North Sea. North Sea Production was down 442,000 barrels per day. Norway was down 216 kb/d, the UK was down 179 kb/d and Denmark was down 49 kb/d.

Russia was down 87 kb/d and Canada was down 49 kb/d. There were no other non-OPEC big losers. The US was up 100 kb/d, Australia was up 51 kb/d and China was up 48 kb/d.

Non-OPEC C+C was down 356 kb/d while OPEC, C+C was up 51 kb/d.

But the big news was not C+C but All Liquids. The EIA has world all liquids down a whopping 1,327,000 barrels per day to 85,141,000 barrels per day. At first I thought that was a typo, that the 85 should have been an 86. But then I checked closer and saw that the lion’s share of that drop was the US. US all liquids were down 841,000 barrels per day. (But US C+C was up 100,000 bp/d.) Perhaps this was some kind of correction. The previous months all liquids were revised but only slightly so.

July and August All Liquids Production in thousands of barrels per day, Spreadsheet 1.4

                 USA     OPEC   World
        July	9,570	34,871	86,468
        August	8,729	34,933	85,141
	Diff.    -841	    62	-1,327

They do not give individual nations all liquids, just the US, but obviously the remaining decline was from the rest of non-OPEC.

Ron P.

so what could be a possible (short term, I guess) explanation, considering C+C is supposed to decline faster/increase slower than all liquids in the long term?

Ron (et al..)
As this latest IEA story gets parsed and dickered with, it leaves me mainly with the question of

"how much do the rest of these 'All Liquids' depend on crude in order to hang onto their EROEI, production rate or cost-effectiveness, etc?"

We see this challenge put to Ethanol, and of course to Renewables in their oft-presumed role as "Fossil Fuel Extenders" .. it would seem the right time to start to understand how much these other fuels that the IEA is looking to for filling in the Decline Gap, how much they are really Crude in a crude disguise. Any thoughts?

Of course, their graph also has that very convenient wedge of 'undiscovered oil' and 'yet to be produced oil' that nicely flattens out their slope. Has someone offered a comparison of current discovery rates to that slope that they show?


For comparison here are the IEA figures. They do not give US biofuel production but lump it in under "Global Biofuel"

          USA   OPEC   BIO    WORLD
July      7.65  34.42  2.12   87.14 
August    7.80  34.48  2.16   87.06
Sept      7.93  34.52  1.79   86.92

So the IEA has world "All liquids" production 2 mb/day higher in August than the EIA

Here's the EIA breakdown from http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_sum_snd_d_nus_mbblpd_m_cur.htm

       Crude NGL   BIO    Total  EIA Oil Supply
July   5.406 1.927 0.906  8.239  9.570
Aug    5.506 2.007 0.911  8.424  8.729

"refinery gain" is added into the US numbers and there are large unexplained "adjustments" every month.

From the EIA: "1 "Oil Supply" is defined as the production of crude oil (including lease condensate), natural gas plant liquids, and other liquids,and refinery processing gain (loss)."

Either refinery gain virtually vanished in August or the EIA forgot to add it in or something else bizarre is going on. Refinery processing gain averages about 1 million barrels per day in the US according to recent EIA data.

Thanks Undertow, now I am more confused than ever. But apparently not as confused as the EIA.

Ron P.

From a closer inspection refinery gain in August was 1.096 mb/day and there was an "adjustment" of 0.353 mb/day. Adding it all together (crude + ngl + bio + "processing gain" + "adjustment" gives 9.873 mb/day for August, way above the EIA's 8.729. Adding for July gives 9.602 which is close to what the EIA reported (9.570). It will be interesting to see next month's report.

And now we have the EIA reporting that total commercial petroleum stocks dropped by a whopping 1.7mb/day last week. I'm surprised that hasn't been commented on more. A hangover from the French strike or something more serious?

Since net crude imports are mostly driving the inventory fall, I don't think the French refinery strike has much to do with it. Net crude and products imports should be ~9.8 mbd to balance demand and keep inventories level (based on some old pup55 analysis, he might have new calculations over on his EIA thread at PO.com). Last week the net imports were ~8.3 mbd. The last import value above the threshold level of ~9.8 mbd was at the end of August.

IMO, demand is exceeding supply. The stock and oil markets feel like 2007 all over again (except the market is down ~3K points and unemployment has doubled).

Regarding the proposed tax increases, it seems to me that the way our current recessionary problems are being hidden is through deficit spending. As soon as taxes are raised, the recession is likely to come back with full force, since people will have less to spend on new houses, new cars, and all kinds of other goods.

If tax tables withholding tables are raised as of January 1, I suppose this change could start as soon as then. Otherwise, it would seem to happen when people's cash flow gets hit.

The tax increases are supposed to be phased in over 10 years, and the social security and other cuts will be spread out even longer - as much as 65 years. And income taxes are actually supposed to be reduced (but the mortgage deduction eliminated).

I'm sure the theory is that this temporary recession will end soon. That is, it's not considered in this plan, which is very much long-term.

Not that I expect them to actually pass most of this...

They missed one tidbit that could be implemented almost immediately.

Start Social Security not from the first day of the month of your birthday, but from your birthday. Save an average half month from each new retiree.

Those that retire early, calculate by days and not months. Computers today can handle the calculations.

If they still want to direct deposit on the 3rd of each month, then prorate the first month;s check.

On a massive program and with the first baby boomers arriving soon (V-J Day + 9 months + 65 years :-), the billions could add up.


Start Social Security not from the first day of the month of your birthday, but from your birthday.

social security is started from the 1st day of the month following your birthday and paid somewhere close to your birthday in the following month.

How about just cutting government jobs and/or benefits/pay? Start there and then move down the line.


Let's start by canning all those people we hired in the last 8 years to make me take my shoes off in airports.

How much you want to cut government pay? Here is my personal story, along with a memo to Rand Paul, who wants to cut the pay of public sector folks who make more than private ones.....,

How about offering a 10% across the board raise to federal employees who are making an average of 60K a year while the private sector is making 110K? It's only fair.

like eyes docs, opthalmologist GS 15?


According to Salary.com, the current median expected salary for a typical Ophthalmologist in the United States is $202,133.

Or my old profession? I was prolly the highest paid respiratory therapist in federal service, GS11 step 10, running the dept in Palo Alto, back in the day. (Made it to the top of a 22-25 year career ladder in 7 years cuz they were trying to keep my salary within $5K of the next lowest paid chief). In '08, as a jive staff therapist in a small rural hospital, I made $80K in 10 months. As a jst, I would have been a GS 7 with the VA.

$50287- 65371

GS 7

$33979- 44176

Add 35 % for SF COLA.

Sure, cut their pay. All they do is run ventilators for old vets. They are making half of what I did, which is prolly twice as much as they deserve, eh?

Happy Day, Vets

One thing that everyone can agree on is that the other guy's pay should be cut. But Feds are used to be the whipping boys and girls for all our problems.

When I was there, we were the front line soldiers in the battle against inflation. Fer instance, the year I left (cuz I bought my place up here)

Congress passed the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act in 1985, which required the president to cut spending across government by a uniform percentage if the federal deficit rose above a certain level. In 1986, that legislation went into effect when President Reagan canceled the 3.1 percent COLA scheduled for federal civilian and military retirees that year

Early '80's, inflation was over 10%, and we were getting like 4% COLAs when we got them.

rat - actually the latest numbers from the GAO show that govt employees receive slightly higher salaries for comparable private industry jobs. And their benfit packages are much better. Addtionally, just in the last year the number of union workers employeed by all govt agencies now exceed the number employed in private industry. And we all know union workers have better perks and salaries than private sector workers. That is why unions exist after all. Especially beneficial since all union workers will not have their company insurance taxed as regular income like all private sector workers...except for those working for GM, so I'm told. That and not having to contribute to Social Security is another nice perk.

IOW the days of charcterizing govt employees as being finacially disadvantaged to the private sector are over. Just consider the current recession: millions of private sector jobs disappeared. During the same time period the net number of govt jobs increased. And notice I didn't say govt workers don't deserve what they receive. Just that they are doing much better than the private sector today.

I was employed as a community college instructor by the state of Minnesota from 1970 into 2001. My starting salary in 1970 was $9,458 and the top of the salary scale (Master's degree plus 90 graduate credits; they did not used to have a Ph.D. column on the salary scale.) was about $18,000. We did have a strong union. By the way I did contribute to Social Security, and now it is about 35% of my income; the rest is Teacher's Retirement Association, all of which funding came out of my salary. When I retired in 2001 the top of the salary scale was about sixty-two thousand dollars.

Now, how much inflation was there between 1970 and 2001? Answer: one helluva lot. My real income at the top of the salary scale in 2001 was approximately half of what $18,000 was worth in 1970. In other words, I worked for thirty-one years without any real increase in salary. By the way, I put in roughly sixty hours of work a week, and this was not uncommon. We might be teaching five classes of three credits each, and when all your tests are essay tests (as mine were), that is a lot of work.

However, I do not regret my decision to become a community college teacher instead of seeking much higher pay with my MBA in finance. Teaching was a lot of fun. My pension is good, though it is now underfunded. It used to be 100% funded several years ago. Recently my pension increases have been below the rate of increase in the Consumer Price Index and the more accurate measure of inflation, the GDP deflator.

In my opinion, bad teachers are overpaid and should be fired. Unfortunately, the quality of teachers in the public schools, K-12 has seriously deteriorated over the past forty years, mainly due to the best women seeking careers in law, medicine, finance and other high-paying areas. In the nineteen fifties all a bright woman could do was be a teacher or a registered nurse. That has changed. The good teachers--and there are still a lot of them--are underpaid.

I think it makes a big difference whether you're talking about federal, state, or local government. And of course how you count it. The studies I've seen show state and local workers generally make less than their private industry counterparts. (They do tend to be better educated, because there aren't a lot of government burger flippers, and that has to be taken into account.)

IMO, you're right to focus on job security as the real issue. When the economy's bad, everyone wants a government job because they tend to be more secure. When the economy's good, no one wants to work for the government because the pay and opportunities for advancement are so low. There's an economy-driven revolving door.

However, the number of state and local government workers have decreased in the current recession. Not as much as private industry workers, but they have decreased. Federal may well have increased, since the feds can print money. But state and local governments have had to reduce their workforces. New York state announced layoffs last week; before that, they had reduced the workforce by hiring freezes/natural attrition, and a retirement incentive/buyout offer.


Will you or can you please delete the conspiracy thread on Gail's post of today?

Leanan - You may well be correct about the disticntion between fed workers and others. I'm pretty sure the stat I tossed out was about fed workers only. But that's not surprising in that the feds can create their payrolls out of thin air and the states et al cannot. In that sense local govts are more like the business sector. While they can raise taxes there is always a limit to how far that can support them. Consider how much of the stimulus money has gone towards local gov't trying to maintain their payrolls. And I don't think that approach is a universally bad thing either. Regardless of how needed that infusion might be it's not sustainable IMHO. At some point it would seem the benfit will be overwhelmed by the negatives. I just don't know if we'll reach that point next year or in 10 years.

You are quite correct about the time period in which the negatives overwhelm the positives in terms of federal aid going to the states. It is about one to ten years. If something cannot go on indefinitely, then it won't.

...actually the latest numbers from the GAO show that govt employees receive slightly higher salaries for comparable private industry jobs. And their benfit packages are much better.

Sorry Rock, but I got to disagree on that one, at least in regards to geologists, geophysicists, and pet engineers. Gov geos (USGS, the agency formerly known as MMS, BLM, etc) are lucky if they get 2/3 of what people with comparable experience get in industry. Health and retirement benefits in gov are good. However, when you look at the total benefits (no yearly bonus, no 401K, crappy moving and relo, etc), the total benefit package is not that good.

During an oil downturn I got laid off, and was trying to get by consulting, and it was pretty skinny. I applied for and was offered an MMS job. When I put a pencil to the whole thing, I decided I was still doing better (few and far between consulting jobs and all) than taking the MMS job. I turned the feds down. I have a number of close friends in both fed and state agencies, and their experience tracks mine. I don't know where those GAO numbers came from, but at least in my line of work they're b*llsh*t!

"Brooks also attacks public-sector employees from another angle: "Nationally, state and local workers earn on average $14 more per hour in wages and benefits than their private sector counterparts," he writes. This relies on a loose definition of the word "counterpart." It doesn't mean "compared to the workers like them." It means "compared to the average worker."

If you compare workers (pdf) of like education, experience, etc., you'll find that blue-collar workers in the public sector do a bit better than blue-collar workers in the private sector, but white-collar workers do a lot worse. The calculations that compare average wages neglect to mention that public-sector jobs tend to be white-collar positions, while most positions in the private sector aren't. More than half of all public employees have college degrees, compared to about 35 percent of private-sector employees. What's that? You want a table?"

Ezra Klein


I brought this up downthread early yesterday. For instance, compare K12 teachers public vs private. Account for experience. So many of the professional jobs either don't exist in the private sphere, or the numbers are much less. Also must factor in accountability. If you make a wrong decision or move privately, you're gone. Not nearly so with public work due to various job protection nets. Tho that doesn't seem to hold with public or private economists.

And the variable that keeps growing ever larger is job length. Privately, employment period is shrinking drastically, even though it's always been shorter. The old issue of job security. Private employment today is increasing of contract length, or shorter--a portion of a contract. Whereas public jobs remain nearly for life. Should that field dry up, public workers are found other "work". Private duration is considerably shorter even in seasonal work, say fire fighting. I realize an increasing % of public work is grant length dependent. But how many migrant public workers can you find?

Sorry RM but you are wrong about the Social Security issue. Ever since 1/1/1984 ALL Federal employees hired from that date forward contribute to Social Security. They do not contribute to the old retirement program and are not covered by that program.

RM: Rat is talking specifically about pay for medical professionals. They earn inane pay in America b/c they have a great union, and their numbers are limited by that union's close ties with med schools, etc. That is why it is so difficult to ask them to accept socialized medicine ... they would take a huge pay cut! And, who wants that. Not that $150 K or so is that bad, esp. compared with ordinary folks, but that is pay similar to that received by regular well educated fed employees who did not spend $200 K on their education and training!

Also, that is why any single payer plan would needs be include paying for med school, repayment for those who are included in the program, etc. I could write a bill (worked once with a candidate who would have introduced it as a House Bill if he had only gotten himself elected).

Anyway, we are getting ready for about 20% drop in GDP in the next two years time... so, hold on to your hat! It is going to be a wild ride!


I'm talking specifically about lawyers, scientists, health professionals, teachers, et al.

BTW, most medical people aren't unionized.

from the Ezra Klein link

Doctors are unionized. Their union is the AMA. Unlike the lawyers' ABA, which is a BS organization that does little to help the profession (or, for that matter, to police the lawyers, most of whom are NOT members), the AMA helps to limit numbers of doctors (through limitations on new med schools and on admissions to those they allow). That is why so many doctors in America today are foreign trained. Even with the large percentage of green card docs, total numbers are low compared to population, and their fees are outrageous as a result. AMA enforces a near monopoly... check the cost and admissions for med schools for confirmation.


How about just cutting government jobs and/or benefits/pay?

Now let me see, is there any other part of the Federal budget that might be slimmed down a bit? Something really big and wasteful that could contribute a little bit? Nope, I guess not, everything else is essential so we'll just have to cut social services and the people who perform them.

Amazing how these debates are framed, and how we cannot look at the situation objectively because it's socially unacceptable to discuss certain topics - to the point that the obvious solutions are completely invisible.

I'm talking all government, military included... I'm sure you can find waste everywhere. I'm just speaking from what i've seen/heard. If they are going to force me to eat dog food and retire at 75 yrs old then they can too. They can also get put on our new universal health plan.

Government is obese...it needs a diet...fast.

Here's a thought: Why does a country need 55 nuclear attack submarines and how much does it cost to keep them in the water.


What good is an aircraft carrier battle group unless you have a poor country to beat up? (Rich countries can sink them at will if they choose) What do you suppose 12 aircraft carrier battle groups cost to keep in the water?

Maybe we could do with only 25 submarines and 6 aircraft carrier battle groups.

Once somebody sinks the carriers and EMPs the US, those subs provide the ability to destroy any nation on earth. That's deterrent.

You deter the big boys, and the little guys are handled by the carriers and troops.

Probably we could do with fewer, but I think those are fairly cheap for power projection versus troops on the ground overseas.

Point of fact: the 55 or so nuclear attack submarines (LA and VA classes and the couple of Seawolfs)are being confused here with the 12 Ohio-class SSBNs.

I don't wish to describe the differences here, but you can use resources easily at hand for self-research.

Four of the SSBN's have been converted to cruise missile carriers. The utility of these is questionable. It appears to be an attempt to keep the fleet from shrinking when arms control reduced the number of SSBN's.

And one SSBN on station will provide adequate deterrence (remember the other parts of the Triad#) for any adversary in the world today (or as much deterrence as a dozen would).

By my calcs, 6 or 7 SSBN's are required to keep one on station in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific. START treaties set a maximum, but no minimum.

# The Triad appears to be as much a political compromise between the services (one for Army, one for Navy, one for Air Force) as sound strategy today. Russia and China do not have, even remotely, the capability for a first strike.



Very good points, as usual. IMHO we need a major restructuring in all our forces, except for the Marines. Our air force is totally inappropriate to present and future needs. Our navy needs more and smaller ships, such as minesweepers and gunboats and far fewer of the big carriers and strategic missile or cruise missile submarines. In my opinion we should have universal national service (not all in the military) and end the volunteer army. It was an experiment that has not been good for the republic of the U.S.A.

Everybody should serve. I go so far as to go along with Plato in making fifteen years service in the armed forces or as a policeman before anybody can run for public office, at least at the federal level.

One of our problems now is that people like Obama and his advisors have had absolutely no military experience whatsoever. One of the reasons President Bush the First was so effective in winning the First Gulf war is that he had had military experience and knew enough to listen to his generals.


Comparing our performance and outcomes from Gulf War 1 (the repelling of the Iraqui invasion of Kuwait) to the performance and outcomes to-date in the current Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns is very much comparing apples and oranges.

GW1 was about repelling an invasion force and breaking alot of Iraq's toys and killing a lot of their soldiers on the battlefield to teach a lesson.

The current Iraq and Afghanistan wars are invasions of our own, where the 'kick down the door' phases were pretty easy but the occupation, control, and nation-building under the harassment of asymmetric guerrilla-like resistance (aided by outside parties, no less) most certainly has been not easy at all.

I think Obama has listened to his generals and given them most of what they want...but if one thinks that we should have ponied up 2-3M troops for 20 years then that is fanciful thinking indeed, especially in our declining resources situations.

I also hasten to point out that President Bush was running the show as CIC from 2001-2008...had he listened to some of his advisors who advocated sending in many more troops initially perhaps the outcomes would have been better to-date.

President George Herbert Walker Bush had the opportunity to invade Iraq in GW1, and he demurred.

The father was wiser than the son.

If we really thought we had to get rid of Saddam Hussein, then we could have used highly focused, low-observable means (this term means several capabilities) to assassinate him and decapitate his critical military C2 (including a certain number of people). We could have them attempted to install another strongman of our liking who would be favorable to our interests.

That would have been a much less expensive and potentially as-effective course of action.

But...my preference is that we stop playing Team America, World Police.


The United States Army has nothing to do at all with the United States Triad.

Here is the Triad:

~xxx Minuteman III ICBMs equipped with certain payloads stationed in a certain small number of geographically large missile fields in fairly remote areas in the United States. These MMIII missiles, their support infrastructure, Launch Control Centers, etc. are 100% owned, operated, and staffed by the United States Air Force.

A number of B-52H and B-2A bombers stationed at various bases, equipped with various payloads. This is the flexible arm of the Triad, as these assets can resume continuous alert at the drop of a hat, and can be launched, then recalled, re-positioned, etc, and are seen as the most potent Triad leg we have to 'show resolve' and intent. These are US Air Force assets.

12 Ohio-class Submerged Ship Ballistic missile equipped Nuclear powered submarines (SSBNs), equipped with Trident missiles with certain payloads.

Yes, we actually have 18 Ohio hulls, and some years ago four of the 18 were converted to SSGN cruise missile shooters.

That leaves 12 Ohio-class SSBNs, each equipped with a certain number of Trident missiles, each with a certain number and type of payload(s), and these are what you would wish to count as part of the U.S. Triad. These are USN assets.

I am not going to throw my hat on the table and comment about your assertions about why we converted the four SSBNs to SSGNs, or about SSBN patrol schemas, or the perceived effectiveness of our deterrent with regard to varies force structures, nor your estimation of what countries can do what wrt first strikes, etc.

I will offer my personal opinion that the 'set piece' conflict concepts a la 'War Games', where we are both sitting on 'hair trigger' alter waiting for the right 'correlation of forces' to align to allow one side to wipe the other out whilst suffering in turn 'acceptable losses' is silly and obsolete.

I will offer that what the US, and Russia, and China, and Europe, need to ponder and devise countermeasures against is a small, determined, fanatical group sneaking something into a country and causing grievous mayhem. A problem may be: Are these folks deterrable? Likely, they would care not about after-the-fact retaliation from us, which means we apply different constructs other than classical set-piece deterrence against these folks...starting with spycraft/intelligence to figure out ahead of time who 'these folks' are.

However, the 'set-piece' deterrence construct provides top-cover and justifications for a massive high-tech jobs program for thousands and and thousands of scientists and engineers in the U.S.

There would be a number of nice houses added to the foreclosure glut if we scaled back this enterprise.

If anyone is interested in blogs about such things, try:



(click on the 'nuclear strategy' button







I make no claims whatsoever about the accuracy of any information on any of these sites...as usual, 'buyer beware'...lots of bogus information on the Interwebs...

However, you can go to the U.S. Department of State and read the entire text of the Unclassified 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) (~79 pages, IIRC, and an easy and interesting read). I believe various relevant treaty texts are found there (State Department site) as well.

OK, I found the NPR and other good stuff here:


First my error on the US Army. They built them, but that ended in the 1960s US Army Corps of Engineers Ballistic Missile Construction Office (CEBMCO) built the launch facilities

or perhaps after some uprates to Minuteman III.

Frankly, much of my strategic thinking is dated. As a teenager I read from Machiavelli to Herman Kahn and have barely updated since then.

I have some conversations with a Senior Policy Analyst at 'a well known corporation" about jointly authoring an article based on a short piece of mine.

Start out with the observation that both Imperial Russia and Imperial Germany were defeated in WW I by a collapse of the home front.

IMHO, the greatest strategic threat faced by the USA is a shortfall in oil imports. See Appendix B in my "Citizen's Guide" link I posted earlier for a toned down version of the threat.

I have come up with a guess/SWAG on how many barrels/day for how long (coupled with a less than ideal gov't response) would result in first, a collapse of our economy and second, later, an inability to reliably deliver food to our people.

I would posit that we are defeated if we have no integrated industrial economy and we cannot deliver food reliably to the population. And we may be in the awkward position of being defeated but having no one to surrender to.

I will not list my guess now, because I would be interested in your guess for both time and volume of reduced oil availability required to 1) destroy our integrated industrial economy and 2) cause the delivery of food to become erratic for some of the population.

Best Hopes for Preparations,


PS: I would rather see jobs created building, for example, an electrified freight rail link to New York City and Long Island. A permanent strategic asset with long term economic benefits.


I am on your page...I know full well, I would guess better than most here, how much moolah is being spent now and planned to be spent in the future by the MIC, and on what.

I fully agree with you and many here that most of this money would be much better spent on alternative energy sources and new transportation paradigms rather than (the following is just a tiny example list):

- replacing the MMIII weapons system, to include a new basing pardigm (an estimate: ~ $100B)

- replacing the Ohio SSBN/Trident weapons system (an estimate: ~$100B)

- fielding a 'Long-Range Strike) family of weapons systems (think things with wings here) (~$100B)

- a so-called robust missile defense system of systems (sea-based. space-based, airborne kinematic/Laser, ground-based interceptors, to protect the U.S. and all of our allies) (>$$1T)

And this list is just the very tip of the iceberg of the huge and ever-growing MIC 'wish-list'

Think of this kind of juice being spent on a transformed electric grid, wind farms, PV and CSP, geothermal, equipping every house with a 95% AFUE gas furnace, upgraded heavy and light rail, and on and on and on.

These investments would return great dividends to all in our society...the MIC stuff will sit in silos and eat prodigious amounts of O&M (operations and Maintenance) funds and only make the top 5% even more wealthy and do nothing for the rest of us.

I do understand. And I am struggling, with others (soon a major NGO if things go well) to create a new paradigm. One that is logically better from a wide assortment of POVs.

When you have time, think about how many barrels/day for how long to "defeat" the USA. I want several informed people to guess.

Also, what do you think of my definition of defeat ?

My email is on my link.

Best Hopes,



I have put your two posts in a word processor to examine your words and attempt to better understand the nature of the question.

Here is what I have come up with:

Alan from Big Easy's definition or description of 'defeat' of the U.S. by means of the U.S. suffering reduced crude oil imports, described in terms of bbls of crude per day over a specified period of time:

Defeat Level 1: Description #1: no integrated industrial economy
Description #2: destroy our integrated industrial economy
Description #3: collapse of our economy

Defeat Level 2: Description #1: We cannot deliver food reliably to the population.
Description #2: cause the delivery of food to become erratic for some of the population.
Description #3: inability to reliably deliver food to our people.

From one of your statements I conclude that you think that 'Defeat Level 2' would occur at some time later than the occurrence of 'Defeat Level 1'.

My initial 'gut' feel is that once 'Defeat Level 1' is in effect then 'Defeat Level 2' would be concurrent.

As an analyst one of the first things I look at is to try to quantify and 'bin' the meaning of words such as 'collapse', 'destroy', and 'reliably'. Not to be nit-picky or a quibbler, but to attempt to develop an estimate which has some credible mathematical basis.

Several issues for me to ponder come immediately to mind:

1) There is a lot of 'margin' in our current BAU paradigm; for example, almost nobody 'needs' to eat out at restaurants, etc. Also, almost nobody 'needs' to eat most packaged foods (frozen microwavable entrees, etc.) Another oft-stated example posted on TOD: People don't 'need' to take vacation trips, be they to Hawaii, DisneyWorld, or day trips to the mountain or lake. Folks could stop trips to eat out, go to the movies, etc. Folks could carpool and take city buses (which seem mostly empty on numerous lines here in ABQ). Many people dont need to travel in low-mileage SUVs, trucks, sport cars etc.

So...there is a lot of easy to jettison transportation oil usage which could be sacrificed to match demand to a certain level of reduced supply.

2) Such demand reductions as stated in para 1 above, although not causing harm to the folks making the transportation choices changes, would certainly introduce knock-on effects into our larger interconnected economy: If most people stopped discretionary traveling, eating out, going to movies, making frivolous purchases, etc. then restaurants, motels, and many retail outlets would likely go out of business, creating further knock-on effects which would start a downward spiral pulling the entire economy down...

3) I assume that one of the assumptions in the question is to postulate a sudden onset decrease in oil supply of 'x' bbls per day, and then calculate the number of days it would take to achieve 'Defeat Level 1' and '2'. This is vice postulating a gradual decline in oil supply over a certain period of time, which would allow a more feasible transition of people's lifestyles, expectations, etc.

'Destruction' and 'collapse' of our 'integrated industrial economy' seem like pretty high bars...I need to ponder what attributes and metrics of our economy would need to be evaluated and what the criteria would be to signify 'destruction' or 'collapse'.

Sorry, I am not trying to be obtuse, just thinking out-loud here...I am a veteran of the USG letting Task Orders (for various analysis projects) which are incredibly vague and hopelessly broad in scope, and expecting 1.5 FTEs working with very little given data and agency cooperation to 'solve World hunger' in a 6-month Period of Performance...at the highest possible confidence level :)

I need to read you Appendix B also...but first, a nice walk with my dog outside and a visit to the gym...

Speaking more as a sociologist than an economist, I think Defeat Level 2 would come some years after Defeat Level 1. My thinking is consistent with that of John Michael Greer.

THANK YOU for your efforts.

Yes, I need to define defeat better.

Also, I assume a less than ideal government response to a crisis (I do live in New Orleans).

Let me explain #1 and #2 better. Industrial production (say assembling a Toyota in Georgetown KY) has very little room for substitution for many thousands of parts. No crankshaft bearings, no car. One could argue that bumpers are not as critical, but who would want to buy a car with several pieces missing ? Furthermore, there is no warehouse space for traditional stockpiling of parts at a modern plant like Toyota. Live or die by JIT.

In a crisis economy, we need few new cars, (some more Prius, CNG Civics, electric Nissan Leafs & GM Volts would be very nice though, and in demand for critical tasks). OTOH, a massive surge of bike repair parts (particularly tires and wheels, but also chains) as well as new bicycles and eTrikes.

Keeping oil refineries running, processing what oil is available, keeping the electrical grid up (rotating blackouts of residential areas & shopping malls OK), and so forth is needed.

Given the reliance we have developed, some JIT deliveries will be required. Perhaps Fedex operates Monday, Wednesday and Friday for delivering spares, etc.

OTOH, food has a wide range of substitution that would be acceptable in a crisis. No potatoes, but plenty of rice. Grumble, but OK. Out of canned ham, but frozen turkeys, one per family per month, rationed. Some green vegetables, seasonal fruit, apples from chilled storage (nothing from Chile). WW II level of food supplies would not be "defeat"

I assume a command economy after the economy collapses, directing available heavy trucks and rail to deliver food from farms and processing plants to consumers (not sure we will still be citizens). Again, NOT ideally run.

I hope this helps.

Best Hopes,


PS: Don would you like a stab at this question as well ?

PPS: My forthcoming assignment, should I chose to accept it, is to figure out the right policy mix to cut CO2 by more than 50% ASAP while improving the US economy (i.e. keep us from becoming 3rd World type) and reducing oil consumption while I am at it.

PPPS: to 'solve World hunger' One of my co-authors is a specialist in that. Won the 1995 World Food Prize. Now wants to help solve the world's energy & environmental problems.

Alan, you are very welcome...I can't resist the temptation to puzzle out your question...

But..realize that I am a 'BOGSAT of one' right now with this...

First: I have reviewed your book excerpt: "An American Citizen’s Guide to an Oil-Free Economy" (Chapter 1: Electrified and improved railroads)and found it to be intriguing, and I have skimmed the Millenium Institute web page briefly.

I am glad that we have smart folks such as you working on these important matters. I can only hope that you are, or will be soon, bankrolled (covertly if not overtly) by folks such as Warren Buffet and Bill Gates etc.

Is your book going to be available on Amazon or other retail outlets?

Do you have additional chapters available for review?

As much as I reticent to offer numbers based on almost zero research, and at the risk of looking foolish, I will offer this huge WAG to your question:

- U.S. per day crude oil shortfall sufficient to cause an 'industrial economy collapse': > 8M bbl per day for > 2 years (assuming SPR draw-down of ~ 1M bbl per day for two years)

- U.S. per day crude oil shortfall sufficient to cause a minimum food distribution crisis[EDIT: Meaning an inability to distribute a minimum amount of food (necessary for survival) to at least 3/4 of the population]: > 12M bbl per day for > 2 years (assuming SPR draw-down of ~ 1M bbl per day for two years)

I did assume a certain robust level of government intervention, as well as public civility, goodwill, and logical social cohesiveness and voluntary sacrifice and compliance to government mandates to reduce consumption in these estimations...I may have used assumptions which are far too rosy...

It seems as if your forthcoming assignment should have great overlap with the questions you have asked here.

Same for the World hunger analysis...

Best hopes for sound analysis being used by government and business in partnership to devise and implement optimal policies to deal with our evolving sustainability situation.

Mu own numbers were -5.5 to -6.5 million b/day for two years (time enough to drain most of the SPR, the last 100 million barrels will be hoarded by TPTB) and make some behavioral changes but few structural changes beyond making bicycling easier, followed by a year at -7 to -7.5 million b/day. The semi-controlled shock of loss of SPR oil coupled with uncontrolled further reductions in available oil will be beyond our ability to cope and adjust in Year 3.

I agree with the social aspect you describe as likely, but coupled with severe economic/currency stress. The supporting system of market allocation of resources (banking, insurance, IPOs, accounts receivables, even orders) will be barely functional.

"Defeat 2" will follow Defeat 1. Once we lose integrated industrial production, it would be just a matter or time. 18 wheel trucks wearing out (after being poorly maintained) with truck tires perhaps the most critical single failure point (bad roads increase tire mortality). Food processing (including canning) will shrink dramatically while food hoarding becomes widespread. Perhaps three more years with initial spot failures within a year.

These levels can be approached with the world of 2012 (see fewer megaprojects coming on-line) with just one change in BAU. Exporters of "black gold" no longer accept freshly printed T-bills and other debt in exchange, and they have limited interest in other US assets except the gold in Ft. Knox or private hands.

Best Hopes for Preparing,



Tip of my hat to you, I thought my numbers were pretty optimistic. I made less realistic assumptions about well people/individuals/governments could cope than you did.

My thinking on the 'Defeat 2' was to look at some numbers on how much oil is being used for Agriculture, and pad that with some oil for remaining-non Ag functions, and add a little pad to that. I followed your criteria of the provision of a very basic diet with a much smaller variety of foodstuffs and a considerably reduced caloric input per day. Folks would lose weight and at least that would make them feel better, as long as they weren't starving. An autocratic command economy with some tolerance for local market constructs and a thriving black market would likely be a given.

I perhaps assumed bolder, more logical, and faster government action to take over and manage vital processes than you did...the assumptions I infer you made were probably more realistic. I also assumed a great deal of stoicism, shared sacrifice, understanding, and goodwill from the people, even under the acts of government nationalizing key supply chains.

If more than a small percentage of folks grab their weapons and panic and rampage then outcomes would be rather grim.

I hope you have the ears of enough influential to potentially make a positive difference...

The government folks I serve seem to be oblivious cornucopians mainly concerned with 'China winning', 'restoring family values', and even more so with keeping their particular gravy train running.

I read the JOE report as well as the German Army summary; I still intuit that 2012 is a too-early prediction for the wheels coming off.

It is hard for me to see how black gold exporters can, in a short period of time, decide to not accept our funny money...I doubt that there is enough immediately available 'swing demand' for a sudden loss of business with the U.S.

Also, crippling the U.S. would end up hurting other countries to various degrees which might decrease their oil demands somewhat. The World's countries are in a bad co-dependent relationship...the only thing worse than staying together is breaking up. The result of a sudden decision to cut off the U.S. may be a crash in oil prices.

I doubt that this state of affairs would last for long, as many BGEC (black gold exporting countries) have large populations with growing numbers of young and potentially restless people who expect a certain standard of living.

I think that if OPEC countries cut us off the U.S. would use its military to 'bring democracy' to several key BGECs in a hurry. The World situation would be grim.

I see myself as the rock climber on a sheer face, less than halfway up.

I an on the edge of access. Several million in lobbying and donations would not have gotten me here. Yet there is still more to go. MUCH more to go.

It is impressive how far I have come. It is still more impressive how far I have yet to go !

I agree that 2012 is too early. Now 2013, with President Palin ...

Best Hopes, More later,


Best luck,


the only thing worse than staying together is breaking up

I fear a "voting off the island" moment. Quite possibly leveraged, and justified, through financial means.

Blame the victim usually works - BAD! BAD! USA, your trade deficits, budget deficits, oil addiction (more oil per capita, and less reduction per capita post-Peak Oil than any of us) means that your credit is no good !

The G18 (maybe G19 with Canada) will set up a new currency that all out-of-USA dollars can be exchanged for. So you cannot print anymore for external trade.

Now, USA, export enough to pay for your imports. And we will give you $4,000 new dollars for each ounce of gold to help during the transition. But no credit ! And no conversion of US Gov't dollars for new dollars.
If EVERY oil importer is suffering and seeing their societies stressed by reduced oil imports. And they are all making greater efforts to shift away from oil than the USA, then this course is logical. Nations act in their national interests although sentiment does play a limited role.

Add a "common sense" President without understanding of foreign affairs, cultures and interests. In other words, one that cannot counter the development of such a movement by others.

Think of an island with limited stores and resources. Say 20 people isolated there. One of the 20, weighing in at 650 lbs, is consuming almost a quarter of the food and resists modest efforts to cut back. He has more guns and guard dogs than the rest put together. Fifty years ago he was a good guy, but lately a bully. As hunger begins to bite, the bully looks like an inviting target.

Just some thoughts,


Very interesting thoughts, Alan.

I have no idea how the next twenty years will play out. I intend to keep walking and hope to see my three granddaughters married before I die. My doctor just says, "Keep up the walking. Your numbers are fine, and no sign of heart trouble or clogging of the arteries." That way I have a good chance to live to 2020 and may live longer.

One thing I'm doing in my old age is to renew activities that I used to do with great pleasure. Archery is my next "renewed" activity--good for the body and especially good for the mind. One of my sons-in-law is a great bow hunter. He gets two deer a year with his bow (one tag for him and one for his wife), and then he always gives me a large quantity of venison sausage, which is one of my favorite foods. His 13 year old daughter is also developing into a bow hunter and is already an expert fisherwoman.

When it comes to CO2 emissions, I despair. New Orleans is going to drown, along with large portions of all our coastal cities. I think it is too late to reverse CO2 emissions. China and India are going to continue to burn more and more coal in the future, no matter what anybody else does. The U.S. is going to continue to have coal as its single largest source of electricity.

Alan, have you ever thought of moving upriver? I recommend the Highland Park area of St. Paul as the most walkable urban area in Minnesota. If you come here I can show you all the best local restaurants, especially the ones with reasonable prices. Rents are moderate, especially for one bedroom apartments.

Now I know you will never leave New Orleans until the water is thigh high. If you ever come to the Twin Cities, do send me an e-mail. It should be in my TOD identification. I'd love to have long conversations with you over fine food and excellent wine.

I've never been to New Orleans and realistically will probably never go there. What little I know about the U.S. southern states (cockroaches, humidity, crime, cocaine, high murder rate) I do not like. Last time I looked, Louisiana had the highest murder rate among all the fifty states. I can walk anywhere in Highland Park at any hour of the day or night with $500 in my wallet and no fear of mugging. If you see a young Black male in Highland Park the immediate questions are: Where does he go to school? and Where does he work? Living without fear is a big part of my life plan. During the academic year 1955-56 I went to the University of Chicago in the heart of Blackstone Ranger country. There the cops patrolled in groups of four (two in one patrol car and two following in another patrol car) because groups of fewer than four cops would be mugged to get their revolvers. The Blackstone Rangers in the fifties almost all used switchblade knives; it was before automatic weapons became endemic on the streets, as they are now. By the way, the last time I looked, the murder rate in Minneapolis was more than double the rate in St. Paul. As I've said elsewhere, St. Paul is much different from (and I think much better than) Minneapolis. There is a substantial French minority in St. Paul. They used to live in Frogtown but later moved to places in the suburbs such as Little Canada, another nice place to live.

By the way, we have a snow emergency right now, so instead of going anywhere (as I had planned) I decided to see how many coherent comments I could make on TOD in one day.


I will write a detailed response later. New Orleans is unique and has some great positives that I cannot now live without.

It is the only significant city without social pressure to conform. This has unleashed creativity beyond anything I have seen before, and one has to look to history for parallels.

I can enjoy life and live a fulfilling life here (fulfilling is harder than happy BTW).

I could simply not be the same person elsewhere. I would not have started on this quest of mine if I lived elsewhere.

New Orleans gives me more than I give back.

Best Hopes,


O.K., but if the waters ever rise in New Orleans to the point where it cannot function, you can always sleep on a futon in my living room.

St. Paul also embraces diversity and within wide limits permits people to be themselves without pressure to conform. On the other hand, pressures to conform are much stronger in Minneapolis. St. Paul has relatively good relationships between various races and ethnic groups. Minneapolis is the opposite--terrible race relations and great fear among Whites of Blacks and Somalis.

I will work for free, that is if you pay my house mortgage, feed my kids, clothe them, and keep my house at 60 F. LOL. We are so screwed.

I wonder whether deficits matter when alas all developed countries are knee high in debt. Isnt the game to just run the economy off of paper money until we run out of oil. lol

I watched the report last night on TV.
It's very telling that the expectation is that almost all of the recommendations are "hot wire, almost guaranteed to fail" propositions. This is a real reflection of exactly just how immature, unrealistic, and spoiled we Americans are. Personally, I'm pretty much in favor of all of the recommendations and some of them would impact my personal budget, but I think I could handle it. People do need to grow up!

It's very telling that the expectation is that almost all of the recommendations are "hot wire, almost guaranteed to fail" propositions.

It's important to keep in mind that what was released was a draft, written by the co-chairs, that has not been voted on or even discussed by the full commission. Current expectations are that the commission will never issue an actual report -- 14 of the 18 members must approve any official report, and it seems quite unlikely that 14 can agree on anything that makes any serious changes. Certainly this chairs' proposal would not get 14 votes. I suspect the chairs know there won't be an official report, so are settling for an "unofficial" one.

Personally, I find the areas where they made truly detailed proposals somewhat unsettling. Every CBO study I have seen with the (rightfully) scary large exponential growth in federal obligations shows that three areas are the ones that get us in trouble: Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on the debt. Social Security, OTOH, is simply not a big part of the problem. This proposal says almost nothing about Medicaid, mostly vague things about Medicare, but they've sure got a lot of specific cuts in SS benefits. And SS tax increases as well. As Bruce Webb often points out, the real goal appears to be to make sure that the trillion or two dollars that the federal General Fund borrowed from the SS Administration never has to be paid back.

Slide 10 in the stack that Leanan points to is particularly telling. Under current law, the debt increases from 65% of GDP or so today to a bit over 80% of GDP by 2040. That's not good, but it's a whole lot more manageable than the scary forecasts. But, and it's a big but, the reason it looks so much better than the "current policy" line is that it lets the automatic tax increases in current law go ahead.

Poll after poll shows that a majority of the US population wants more of the social programs that Europeans take for granted: affordable guaranteed health care, affordable college, etc. The difference, IMO, is that people in the US aren't willing to pay the bill.

Correction - for a very large portion of what was the middle class (now in free fall) it's more likely a case of even if the mind is willing the wallet can't deliver the goods. People are tapped out, can't get blood from a turnip etc etc.

On the other hand there is the very powerful, well connected minority with a 24-hr propoganda machine that are doing everything they can to be sure they game the system to minimize their contribution to help "pay the bill".

I think this is actually a facet of something I referred to in yesterday's thread: the fact that our financial laws, including tax law, were created for the national economy of 1930, and not today's global economy.

Google has been in the news lately for their tax shenanigans, but they're hardly unique.

In the supposed "golden age" of the 1950s, 39% of tax revenue was paid by corporations. Now it's 7%. And the benefits received by corporations sure haven't decreased. Our tax laws just weren't set up to deal with a world where a company can incorporate in a PO box in the Cayman Islands.

You are right on point here, Leanan.

While the public discourse swirls around the role of the government in our daily lives and the size of the government, no one seems to notice that the government has been used by our largest corporations (and their wealthy owners) to increasingly tilt the playing field in their own favor.

(Just for fun, next time you run into a rabid tea party type who goes on about government interference try asking them to provide an example of something they weren't able to do because of the government. Each time I've done this the response left me in stitches. Or try this - if they're complaining about people on welfare, ask 'em how much of the fed budget goes to "welfare" - the answer is less than 1.5%.)

Now this is not to say that we should ignore what the government does nor not worry about its size. It does mean that maybe the issue isn't "the government" per se, but the way in which the apparatus of government is being used.

Here is an interesting side to this:


How many of these will become part of the unemployed statistics when serious cutting starts? If we do, as another Western Democracy has done, a 20% cut, then that increases unemployment overall by about 1.6%, to 11.1%. And that is just the direct cuts in workers. What it would do through secondary and tertiary impacts is even larger.

Some solutions sound so simple. Of course, in the long run, as has been noted earlier by others, we are thoroughly screwed... Our best hope is that the descent can be controlled so that, rather than a crash we have a collapse. If, that is, there is any real difference.


The report is from a "commission" that is hardly government. Most of the staffers were privately paid, and why am I not surprised, some of prominent heads were from orgs advocating cuts to Social Security, and not one mentioned ethanol subsidies, tho general farm subsidies were.

Not that I think we can continue to pay all our benefits, it's just that the perception of this commission, that of a government bipartisan body falls far short. Once again, we are being lead, nay told, what to believe. It's a prickly can of worms, but revenue must added, and I don't think the wealthy and corporations should be given a free pass any longer. As our moderator notes below, it wasn't this way in the past.

One of the big changes that haven't been discussed is the all but end of private retirement programs. With that rug yanked out starting in the 80's, most have nothing to fall back on than SS. Which will make continuation of state and federal retirement dicey. Private sector workers were promised and counted on those programs long ago, and loss of the federal/state promises will be seen as little different than what most have seen. I think the sooner public employees realize this, the better.

Similarly, annual income compensation for public sector work has sky rocketed. Yes, a case can be made for well educated professional public employees in certain fields, but they remain a small portion. Even a majority of these in arcane fields would be hard pressed to match that salary in the private world, if they could get a job. The other field that immediately comes to mind is the military, who were given large raises, starting again in the 70-80 interval (why do we keep cominng back to that period, when the first energy shocks hit? Just Kidding) Originally this was to foster our switch to an all volunteer force, but it has gone far beyond that. This pay should be decreased to reflect service and honor, but at the same time, cutting the VA becomes even more criminal. Paying the medical bills is the least we can do for those who put their life on the line. And what of teachers, could they come near their public salaries in private schools? Or the minions of clerks? Used to be one traded income for security in public work. Not any longer, tho most of the security remains. Enough of my rambling.

The difference, IMO, is that people in the US aren't willing to pay the bill.

Nor I they willing to consider the areas that really cost -and will cost in the future. The various medi programs -and the whole medical part of the economy. Don't get this under control and nothing else matters. And of course the sacred cow, military spending. Not to mention that federal revenues are just a too small part of the GDP to support any kind of government, but then that comes down to the paying for it part. But, where our politics is, its fine to have the middle and lower classes pay more, but the upper classes they gotta get yet more tax cuts. Gotta keep the true masters happy now.

"Poll after poll shows that a majority of the US population wants more of the social programs that Europeans take for granted: affordable guaranteed health care, affordable college, etc. The difference, IMO, is that people in the US aren't willing to pay the bill."

That's it all right. The US population is willing to pay about 20% of GDP for government goodies. The selection of goodies they want costs about 40% of GDP. There is the disconnect.

I actually read the report, and think they did a fine job of making that little point clear. Either we scale back the scope of government military, domestic, and entitlement spending to the 20% we are actually willing to pay, or we double taxes and kill the vaunted consumer economy. The report assumes the first course of action, but the alternative is also pretty clear.

This is what 20% of GDP will buy you. If you want more than that....

IMO, the U.S. would be much better off with Sweden's level of taxes and level of services. Sweden has a prosperous economy and much better preparation for the coming decline in oil production than the U.S. Sweden also has a highly effective self-defense force; that is one reason Hitler never invaded Sweden, despite their valuable resources.

However, Americans have always hated taxes. We will probably continue to be a relatively (to N. Europe) low services, low tax society.

Hitler didn't invade Sweden because he didn't have to. They were shipping him virtually all of their iron ore and I suppose anything else he wanted. I think Hermann Goering's wife was Swedish.

Hitler did not invade Switzerland either, entirely because of the excellence of their self-defense forces. There is a good story about the Swiss, it may even be true: Around 1910 Kaiser Wilhelm visited the President of Switzerland. He said to the Swiss president, "You have a very good army of 250,000 men. But what would you do if I send an army of 750,000 against you?" The Swiss president looked the Kaiser in the eye and said, "I would order each man to shoot three times."

Little known fact. During World War II the Swedish self-defense forces were about as good as the Swiss. According to Magnus Redin, a Swede who comments here from time to time, the Swedish self-defense forces have greatly deteriorated in recent decades. If true, that is a pity.

In all due objectivity, Germany is no longer a threat to Sweden, and I don't think that Russia or Poland or Norway etc. are imminent threats to Swedish sovereignty either; perhaps the state of Sweden's defense forces reflects their peoples' logical prioritization of their finite resources.

Perhaps the U.S. could take a lesson from the Swedes...

I think it is always good to have a strong self-defense force. The future is always uncertain. I admire the Swiss.

The future is indeed hazy.

Of course economists and smart non-economists understand opportunity costs...

And also...As a defense analyst I challenge anyone to produce a credible quantitative predictive analysis of the deterrent values of various force strictures and force use policies.

The idea of being able to calculate a 'minimum sufficient deterrent' (nuke and/or conventional forces) is a holy grail that cannot be realized...it is all guesswork, as it relates to both group and individual human psychology, which is darn near impossible to predict with any exactitude wrt all the possible future scenarios.

When I hear folks in the inside of the MIC say 'it doesn't matter what it costs, if its crucial to national defense, then we spend it' I shake my head and gently remind them of scarce, finite resources, competing priorities, opportunity costs, and the fact that there are many levers and sources of national power and security, only one of which is derived form the MIC.

It never ceases to amaze me how many MIC insiders will want to go to the ends of the Earth to squeeze money out of non-MIC programs yet insist that the MIC literally get and spend a blank check. The same folks who want to cut government pay and benefits...except for the government pay and benefits in their MIC GS jobs of course!

I do not like the fact that so much of U.S. military, air, and naval forces are clearly offensive in nature rather than defensive in nature. I would much prefer a model closer to the Swiss or even the Israeli model. Universal military training. Stay in active reserve to age 48 and inactive reserve to age 60.

Both Plato and Aristotle were keenly aware of the problems of self-defense for a city-state. I wish the philosophers of the present day were as smart as Plato and Aristotle. By the way, Socrates was a war hero before he became a philosopher.

I have the greatest admiration for the men and women who serve in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard. They are some of our finest. I've known lots of them and am related to some.

We are in agreement on the offensive/defensive nature question.

Some type of universal national service (with non-military options)sounds like a good idea to have everyone pitch in for our common good.

I greatly respect the hard work, sacrifices, and honor/trustworthiness of the majority of folks in our armed services who have served honorably as well. I was/am one (we are always eligible for recall).

Although I honor the loyalty, trustworthiness, and selflessness of U.S. troops, I like to point out that they are people, not gods. I resist the continual push to go from from respect and honor to symbolic and even blind blanket hero worship...I fear that tendency may lead some folks to pine for some kind of benign military coup and benevolent military authoritarian state.

If we, in desperation, hand any group of people, including the military, the keys to the realm and expect a meritocracy-based benign leadership nirvana, we would quickly discover that the group of folks we anointed as unblemished standard-bearers of truth, justice, etc. would have individuals who have the same warts that society as a whole has, in the same proportions.

So I salute the soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen...and also the plumbers, construction workers, grocery store employees, sewer plant workers, medical professionals, scientists, engineers, teachers, artists, and the so many more folks who make up the great and varied tapestry of our citizenry.

Although I honor the loyalty, trustworthiness, and selflessness of U.S. troops, I like to point out that they are people, not gods. I resist the continual push to go from from respect and honor to symbolic and even blind blanket hero worship...I fear that tendency may lead some folks to pine for some kind of benign military coup and benevolent military authoritarian state.

Both our countries are suffering from a knee-jerk "support the troops" mentality. The military doesn't decide where they go: their political overlords do. The military is a tool, a lapdog of those in power.

And, like a dog, when you try to figure out why it behaves the way it does, you look at the master first, not at a cell in the left-hind dewclaw.

Those in power in both countries have been trying to confuse the role of the military in order to stifle debate. The powers that be don't actually want us to think about why we're fighting. Certainly not to consider it rationally.

One can respect the sacrifice and motivations of those in the military even if you despise the actions of those who got them in harm's way.

It just doesn't fit on a bumper sticker easily.


Both our countries are suffering from a knee-jerk "support the troops" mentality.

What if what you are seeing is an attempt to be socially conforming or fear for their job by mouthing the 'socially correct' answer?

Because if the Government is an expression of the people, does Government action WRT the troops?

I keep hearing of public appeals to send AA batteries and wool socks to solders. At another meeting the group talked about how little the VA had. Active duty troops needing batteries/socks and the wounded needing VA help sure sounds to me like public non-support.

But all those yellow magnetic ribbons help keep the troops' tootsies warm don't they?

Bumper stickers and ribbons and flying the flag do not substitute for actually paying for the wars with revenues (taxes), vice debt..

But the Blue Star grandmas collecting the candies and playing cards and boxing them up and shipping them overseas feel good about their efforts; then they go to the polls and express their wishes for more wars and less taxes and 'don't touch my Medicare and Social Security'.

And almost nobody in the U.S. is thinking of the consequences of blow-back and asymmetric warfare responses...they don't even realize that these two ideas were embodied in the 9-11 attacks.

I think a lot of people in think tanks and high in the U.S. government and military are and have been thinking about the consequences of blow-back and asymmetric warfare responses. Some (perhaps many, I do not know.) have linked these two ideas to the 9-11 attacks.

The problem I see is that the best thinking does not seem to get through to Congress and the President. It was different during the days of Hermann Kahn, who had a great influence on our thinking about the Cold War and how to prevent a thermonuclear war. Indeed, I think Kahn should have won the Nobel Peace prize for his books and influence on government policy.

Agreed. As I've often said, only children would expect good government without having to pay for it.

Gail, agree that the deficit spending is the current way to hide the recession, however not sure to get your point regarding the tax and the time it is started. Could you develop this one ?
Also, strictly speaking, a tax doesn't change the GDP of a country, it just changes respective revenues and spending from citizens to the government. What could be argued is that it changes the country productivity so in the end the GDP, but in the current case it is also mitigating a huge risk as well as changing the trade balance.
overall of course if you say that the deficit ponzi schema can go on forever, then why bother. If not the initial tax should probably be more like half a dollar at least,and the associated message should not be based at all on co2 and climate change but full peak oil and necessary adaptation(or let's say 90% peak oil 10% co2 compared to today 90% co2 and climate change 10% energy security)

I read the outline of the deficit commission's trial balloon recommendations on my flight home today.

I certain do not claim to have done any detailed analysis, but the outline seems like a good point of departure:

- ~ 75% spending cuts, ~ 25% tax increases
- Simplify the income tax to three brackets, topping out at 28%
- Eliminate AMT
- Phase out mortgage interest deductions
- Increase dividend and capital gains taxes to the individual income tax rates, If I remember correctly
- Lower top corporate tax rate from 35% to 26%
- increase federal gasoline taxes by 15 cents or something like that...
- slow-roll SS COLA, increase retirement age to 69 by 2075
- Cut DoD budget by $100B between now and 2020 (~1.5% per year)
- cut federal workforce by ~10% by 2020, trim federal compensation (possibly by freezing COLAs?)

This is all supposed to balance the budget by ~ 2035.

All in all, not a bad start...too bad many Democrats came out with a knee-jerk reaction against it.

Also too bad that certain conservative anti-tax groups came out with their knee-jerk reaction against it.

This outline is along the lines of ideas I have previously posted on TOD...devise and implement a 'shared pain' (MIC and non-MIC) budget cut drill.

I would have been considerably more aggressive on energy taxes and would have //at least//doubled the DoD/MIC cuts over the same time period (meaning cut AT LEAST $200M over 10 years, remember that the annual DoD budget is ~$700B+ and this does NOT include the NSA, CIA, DHS, EIEIO parts of the MIC).

I also would have doubled the non-MIC Fed budget cut bogey between now and 2020 (20% cut in the fed work force and/or Fed employee compensation costs).

I was perplexed that I didn't see much of anything substantial mentioned about controlling health care costs...I still maintain that we go large or go home: Either get the government out of the Health care subsidy business and throw folks to the tender mercies of the free market or implement single-payer universal health care and eliminate the up to 30% overhead/marketing/profit costs imposed by the vulture health insurance companies.

I also think that a VAT deserves a good consideration as well...at the 4-5% level perhaps.

The phase-in of SS retirement age increases could happen a lot quicker as well...instead of 60 by 2075 how about 69 by 2035?

If we really want to live within our means we need to break a lot of glass...

I also saw an article by George Will in which he utterly rained on the parade of high-speed intercity passenger rail as an expensive boondoggle....perhaps rail's best hope is intra-city trolleys/light rail vice high-speed inter-city rail.

Politically, the proposals are Dead On Arrival. They will not be implemented. Alas. Our republic has failed.

If only we had the courage to make some hard choices and see them through...I think I would have a MI if half these proposals were legislated!

Happy Veteran's day to all of you Grunts, Swabbies, Fly Boys and Girls, Bubbleheads, etc. Bravo Zulu!

A big salute to you too and a heartfelt thank you for your service. I think that there are some real wars that still need to be fought on the energy front and the hearts and minds of the public need to be won over. Thank for your participation in that war as well. Keep flying that solar energy flag!



Thanks, Fred. It means a lot coming from you, though I have to confess that my motives have become less altruistic over time. Compensation for my cynical nature perhaps.

It was in 1984, standing a long midwatch in the belly of a billion dollar beast, that I had one of my major eureka/awsh@t moments of clarity; the "what the hell am I doing here and what does this all mean?" conversation with self. So here I am, trying to find a better way forward.

Best hopes for wiser and more sustainable meanings of "Duty" and "Honor".


At Legal Fringe, Empty Houses Go to the Needy

NORTH LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Save Florida Homes Inc. and its owner, Mark Guerette, have found foreclosed homes for several needy families here in Broward County, and his tenants could not be more pleased. Fabian Ferguson, his wife and two children now live a two-bedroom home they have transformed from damaged and abandoned to full and cozy.

There is just one problem: Mr. Guerette is not the owner. Yet.

In a sign of the odd ingenuity that has grown from the real estate collapse, he is banking on an 1869 Florida statute that says the bundle of properties he has seized will be his if the owners do not claim them within seven years.

He's being charged with fraud, but it sure seems like what he's doing is a win-win situation. The owners clearly aren't interested in the properties, and would probably lose them anyway due to non-payment of taxes. The government gets tax payments that they wouldn't have gotten otherwise. Poor people get a house. And the neighbors are happy to have the homes occupied and maintained, rather than being eyesores that attract criminals.

If he is proceeding with Adverse possession properly, which it appears he is doing, it is not fraud.

Yes, he may be trying to obtain title by adverse possession under Florida law:

When an individual continuously occupies a property for seven consecutive years, lacking any legal document to support a claim to the land's title, he may establish adverse possession by filing a return with the county appraisers within one year of entry onto the property, and paying all taxes and liens assessed during possession of the property.

However, there are some other requirements:

The requirements for adverse possession are very strict: (1) the person claiming adverse possession must possess the land openly, notoriously, and in a visible manner such that it is in conflict with the owner's right to the property; (2) this person must either have some sort of title on which to base claim of title or the person must have paid property taxes on the land claimed to be adversely possessed; and (3) this person must possess the land continuously and exclusively for a period of at least seven years.


It is important to note that a prospective adverse possessor may be transformed into a trespasser if asked to leave the property by its rightful owner. If a person defies an order to leave the property (personally communicated by the owner of the property) or if the trespasser does anything to cause destruction to the property, that trespasser is guilty of a misdemeanor. Furthermore, if the trespasser is armed with a firearm or other dangerous weapon during the trespass, that person is guilty of a felony.

So, if the real owner shows up and tells him to leave, he's a trespasser. However, if they can't prove they really OWN the property (and that's a problem for the banks in the current mortgage fiasco), if he doesn't damage it, and if he carefully avoids pointing a gun at them, he could end up owning it. Just move into a house in Florida, pay the taxes for seven years, and you own it. Very clever.

It is a very old English common-law principle has worked for a lot of people in the past - especially after the Black Death wiped out half the landowners. Under British common law it took 80 years rather than 7 to acquire title, but people were willing to wait that long.

If you read the article, that is indeed what he is trying to do. And he's going beyond what the law requires. (For example, he wrote letters to the property owners telling them what he's doing - which state law does not require.)

You can claim a property via adverse possession in most states, not just Florida.

(The article notes that it's hardest in New Jersey. It takes decades there.)

I believe it is also the case that if the legal owner gives the squatter permission (I presume in writing) to occupy the property, this negates the adverse possession.

I believe it is also the case that if the legal owner gives the squatter permission (I presume in writing) to occupy the property, this negates the adverse possession.

I am not a lawyer, but I think there would be a fine legal point that he would also have to ask for a nominal sum in rent - e.g. $1. If the occupant declined to pay, he would have to evict him for non-payment of rent, otherwise I think we would be back to the adverse possession situation. (i.e. "I don't have to pay rent because I own it").

UK, squatter's rights - 12 years.


I believe that is 'except in Scotland', where there are no squatter's rights.

I'll take a pass on Scottish law as it is different and not what I have lived under. My apologies for not differentiating.


Adverse Possession, England and Wales:

In 2002, the Land Registration Act was enacted. Under the new law, the adverse possessor needs to apply to be a registered owner of the property after ten years of continuous occupation. The transfer of land title is no longer automatic. The Land Registry then gives notice to the paper owner who has 65 days to object. If the objection is granted, the true owner will have two years to evict the adverse possessor and regain his property.

Read more: http://www.articlesbase.com/finance-articles/what-constitutes-adverse-po...
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution


Scotland, of course, does not have the same concept of adverse possession ... Scots law does have a rule of positive prescription, which can create or strengthen rights in land, through the occupation of land for 10 years or more. This means that someone with a competing title to land can perfect their title simply by being in occupation for 10 years without legal challenge... The difference with English law is that, in Scotland, there must be a registered title document for the occupier to base his claim on.

See http://www.bellscott.co.uk/documents/propertyupdate/PropertyUpdate_Octob...

Note that these adverse possession laws are really intended to prevent people from owning land without doing anything with it. They were intended to prevent people from leaving land sit idle while other people starved due to lack of land - if people just ignored their land, someone could move on to it and gain title just by using it. They are based on a "Use it or lose it" principle.

It was a bout 2 months ago I saw a report on him on some news program that I caught on Hulu, it might have been ABC news or Vanguard.

In the UK there seems to be a squatters law, that needs to be passed over here. At times I think what a great idea, then other times I wonder who is going to come along behind this guy and abuse this feature and make things worse for everyone around them.

One of those times when I wish I were one of my characters in some of my stories, where they swoop in and save the day with nice rich altruism and lots more money where the first little bit came from, helping people get a soft spot for helping others.

I hope his plans work out so that the folks that have a place, don't get thrown in jail for what they are doing.

BioWebScape Designs for a better fed and housed world.

Take care what you wish for. Someone I knew, years ago, was about to move into a house. They had the builders in to do repairs etc before they did. Some squatters moved in. The owner went to the police and were told that the police could do nothing to get them out. They asked what the police advised. They were told, very quietly, that they should go down to a pub in the docks, put a bottle of Scotch on the table and ask who wanted to help. End of squatter problem.


Under English common law, people were responsible for enforcing their own rights. It dates from a time before there were police, so if someone squatted on their property, the standard procedure was to go down to the local pub and hire a bunch of thugs to throw them off. This apparently still applies.

The Florida law indicates the rules of engagement in Florida:

If a person defies an order to leave the property ... or if the trespasser does anything to cause destruction to the property, that trespasser is guilty of a misdemeanor. Furthermore, if the trespasser is armed with a firearm or other dangerous weapon during the trespass, that person is guilty of a felony.

So, if the true owner and his hired thugs show up to throw someone claiming ownership by adverse possession off the property, they have the right to leave quietly and not cause any trouble. OTOH, if they fight or point a gun at the evictors - well, it's jail time for them. They don't really own the place until the time limit has expired without the owner doing anything about it.

Dubai plans to be 20% nuclear, 20% "clean coal" some time in the indefinite future.


Dubai Energy Strategy near Completion



coal in Dubai,hmm,
a few years ago when ng shales began getting headlines of 100yr supply,and became energy experts latest and greatest story,a friend of mine and myself debated as to how we would exploit this new found jackpot.i told him we would develop and produce these ng shales in a rational manner to keep well supplied at reasonable prices for consumers and producers,he said i will bet you $100 they pull it out of the ground as fast as they can fill up storage and divert what they can on the lng market(re export lng)well he called yesterday and asked for his winnings.i guess why i posted is, am i the only one who thinks importing $90 a barrel oil and exporting $6-7 mcf ng makes cents?i think t.boone is on to something,if we are not using all that ng today shouldnt we save it for tommorrow....r.m.

Despite the shale hype, the USA is one of the world's largest net importers of natural gas. The relatively small volume of US LNG exports has actually been decreasing in recent years and it almost all goes to Japan anyway.

they have also started to re liquify gas at sabine pass for export to europe,and south america,some 20bcf....r.m.

Link up top: Gregor McDonald: Crude Oil Production Forecast 2015

I use rough estimates of future world GDP, the recent mix of primary energy use with special attention paid to coal vs oil use, and then finally decline rates in global oil production. Despite these efforts, any forecast of this nature is at best general in nature. That said, the trajectory here is worth paying attention to.

I wonder how accurate that chart is?

Ron P.

I imagine the historical part of the chart is pretty accurate. The future part is educated guesswork. Indeed, most of what we see on TOD about the future is educated guesses.

..and worth noting that any OTHER commentary about the future is also guesswork.. just maybe not always educated.

"Bones" leans over and says something to the effect, "I think that means he trusts your 'guess' more than he trusts anybody else's 'facts' ". Spock, finding confidence in his captain's confidence says, "Then I will make the best 'guess' I can." (Star Trek 4 , appropriately when Spock is guiding the Enterprise in a bit of Time Travel!!)

As Don said, the future is probably guesswork on Gregor's part. The dead-giveaway is that you see up and down variations in the future.

Two ways this can happen: (1) A bottoms-up model that looks at individual fields ramping up and declining w/economic considerations or (2) the results of a Monte Carlo simulation that show statistical variations. I really doubt that it is the latter so it is likely just a bean-counting model that has very granular accounting.

Don, I remember a while back you were prognosticating that crude would fall in the fall to maybe ~$60/bbl. I thought myself that this might be the case. Now it looks like there is enough demand to push the price up. Have you ideas why crude is rising now instead of falling? Is it Chindia demand, or perhaps Chindia plus a slight uptick in US demand?

I was wrong in my prediction. I thought both Chinese and U.S. oil imports would diminish due to weakening economies. Economists were invented to make the predictions of weather forecasters look good by comparison.

Nevertheless, if and when the deflationary depression comes, then we'll see oil at $60 per barrel and also much lower than that for short periods of time. OPEC can always shut their valves to jack up prices (as they may be doing now), but if memory serves they have not drastically and suddenly decreased production since 1973.


Isn't $60 oil an increase from $90 dollar oil if the dollar declines 50% during the same time? Deflation means that steady prices equal increased prices?


We do not have deflation yet. In the third quarter of 2010 the GDP deflator (an indicator of inflation much better than the Consumer Price Index) increased at a rate of 2.3%. That is above the goal formally announced by the Fed. However, it appears that the Fed is following some of Krugman's recommendations to target 25% inflation over the next five years, approximately 5% per year. It is possible the Fed will succeed, but only at the cost of severe trade wars and a rise in protectionism. QE2 was a "Hail Mary" pass in the final seconds of the "Here comes the deflationary depression" game. It might work, but the odds are against it. Bernanke knows this.

Short of printing money on the scale of the Germans post WWI, I don't know how they will be able to do it, Don. They don't have anything left.

And, what they are trying to shore up is not worth the cost in human misery. But that is a moral valuation. More to the point, I don't really think it is even possible to restart the linear progression machine of the industrial age. And that is a valuation of another sort. I almost hope I am wrong.


You are correct. BAU is not viable. My own views are close to John Michael Greer's in THE LONG DESCENT, a book that I recommend.

All commodities are up sharply. The US dollar is tanking. I don't think you can read much into oil in particular.

I think the Saudis are responding to QE2 by raising their target price. The Saudis do not like the U.S. devaluing the dollar.

By the way, the big news story today was increasing international tensions due to QE2. We may be going into an escalating situation of currency devaluations and other protectionist measures. Trade wars, here we come. And if we have a deflationary depression, much more protectionism is practically a certainty.

I checked all my indicators and I don't see anything that signals a fundamental move in progress.

Two possible explanations. First there is no more crude to send next this price increase is not enough to excite any producer into ramping production.

I'd have to imagine that there is some slack in the system right now who much as anyones guess but even I'd give it 500kbd-1mbd of at least burst production.

Thus if oil supply is tightening the we would need to see a much larger increase in price to spur producers.

My best guess is its a combination of some supply tightening and financial moves. My chicken vs egg scenario actually has supply having already tightened considerably before the financial move. I.e QE2 was driven in part by tightening oil supplies.

Regardless despite the high it was basically not enough to cause any major moves in real oil so far and I don't think we will see any. Probably the best description is the market exploring higher prices to see if they are doable for a fairly complex array of underlying factors.

The answer is yes and now the market will digest the result.

The next high will be the one thats interesting not this one.

As usual, I agree with you. If I'm right about the Saudi's voluntarily restricting oil production to drive the price up to $90 per share the price will stay in that neighborhood until the Saudi's announce a new target. Note that the Saudi's stuck to their old target of $75 per barrel for more than a year. I don't know how long their target will remain $90 per barrel, but my guess is that it will take a global deflationary depression for them to lower that target.

If we have an inflationary depression (entirely possible), then the Saudis and Kuwait and UAE and some others in OPEC will restrict output even more to keep prices up. From their point of view, why should their revenue suffer just because the rest of the world is in the Greater Depression? Because oil is highly price inelastic in both supply and demand, the Saudis will be able to get away with this if they are willing to risk the military wrath of the U.S.

I'm at the moment unwilling to call it as supply restriction or some increase in demand or likely speculative real oil storage onshore and off perhaps finally drained down.

Plenty of reports over the last few months claiming no significant quantities are being stored in tankers.


Lack of speculative barrels offloaded pumped months of a go looks like a slowdown in current production.
Right now my best guess is that this is finally putting pressure on storage plus the slow rebound in the economy.

The Suadi's probably have done nothing except make and announcement goosing prices on top of a draw down that was already happening.
Remember there are other countries in the world besides the US. Obviously France is going to have to restock right now after the strikes for example.

My point is I don't think that an actual Saudi cut is needed to support the current prices simply no effort to pump more if they can.

If it is indeed a stock draw down in progress then things will get more interesting a bit later on if the Suadi's continue to not respond indeed real cuts like you described may well be possible.

For the US regardless of what real storage levels are I'd argue the Saudi's are now determined to force the US to drop thits storage levels back into the five year range. This pressure is almost certainly related to QE2 and its open ended nature. They cannot stop us but they dang sure can force us to get rid of our large storage surplus real or not. If its real then it will come down as prices increase if its fake same difference.
Thats why I think the next peak is important.

Also of course I continue to consider my simple model for oil. Right now the US claims to have storage levels at historic highs well above the five year range. If it simply fell to the top of the five year range we are lookinge at 100-120 dollar oil. Middle of the range would be 200 dollar oil bottom 300 dollar oil.

My point is taking todays prices if the US is bluffing about its storage levels or supply is low enough to force them to the bottom of the range 300 dollar a barrel oil is priced into the market today.
The Saudi's would I suspect be happy with 100-150 and that would be high enough to force the Feds to curb QE2+

Thats the game I think is being played and its interesting since it means the Saudi's are using oil to be the real bond vigilantes.

This is something I've been speculating about for a while that the Saudi's/OPEC and others with large dollar reserves would have no problem with high commodity prices if it allowed them to control the Fed. For many countries with crap loads of our dollars it does not matter spend it on commodities or see its value inflated away. Might as well convert the dollars into internal wealth via commodity purchases at any dollar price. Everyone wins and the Fed loses.

And the beauty is it could easily be a natural game that the Saudi's have no choice but to play along with. If they really don't have significant spare capacity which I don't believe they are forced into this scenario. The Feds via increasingly insane monetary policy have effectively forced us into exposing what is probably a real and true commodity shortage. Indeed we may well see the Saudi's actually cut back a bit to force the matter along.

But lets give it a few weeks or even a few months this is the top of the first inning of commodity exporter bond vigilates/Nations with large dollar surpluses vs the Feds. If this is indeed the game the second round will be even more interesting.

Quite so. In my opinion the most significant evidence is that when Saudi announced a target price of $75 a barrel the price of oil fluctuated in a narrow range around that price for more than a year. Now the Saudis have announced a price of $90 a barrel being fine with them, and sure enough, the price approaches $90.

To me this looks like the oligopoly model of a cartel. Google "oligopoly theory." It is hairy but if you are knowledgeable about game theory it will be relatively easy to understand.

Yep now the power in the world is concentrated in the hands of a small number of very powerful players.

And I don't think they are cooperating any more which makes life pretty interesting.

To me this looks like the oligopoly model of a cartel.

To the hens in the hen house it looks as if their lord and master, the rooster causes the sun to rise every morning by the power of his crowing.

A smart rooster knows how to time his crowing so as to create the illusion of power and control.


Time for sage and onion.


irrespective of how accurate the forecast is, 73434 in 2010 to 70500 in 2015 is a 0.8 % annual decline. a logarithmetic presentation would be more meaningful visually.

Role of melt in arctic sea ice loss found by NASA study

Neither the article nor the PR release from NASA gave a reference to the study. Here's the title and abstract:
Contribution of melt in the Beaufort Sea to the decline in Arctic multiyear sea ice coverage: 1993–2009

Kwok, R., Cunningham, G. F.

For the summers of 1993 through 2009, we estimate the loss of multiyear sea ice (MYI) area in the Beaufort Sea due to melt. Parcels of MYI in April are traced into the Beaufort Sea where they melt as the ice edge retreats. Net loss of area (with fractional MYI coverage >50%) over the 17‐year period is ∼900 × 103 km2. Three‐quarters of that area, ∼10% of the area of the Arctic Ocean, was lost after 2000. There is a clear positive trend in the record, with a distinct peak of 213 × 103 km2 in 2008; this is twice the summer outflow at the Fram Strait that year. The net melt area of 490 × 103 km2 between 2005 and 2008 accounts for nearly 32% of the net loss of 1.54 × 106 km2 of Arctic Ocean MYI coverage over the same period. Volume loss, for the years with ICESat thickness (2004–2009), is highest at 473 km3 in 2008 followed by 320 km3 in 2007. Net loss in MYI volume for the six summers is ∼1400 km3. This is ∼20% of the loss in MYI volume of 6300 km3 during 2004–2008. This adds to the freshwater content of the Arctic Ocean and locally to the freshening of the Beaufort Gyre.

Citation: Kwok, R. and G. F. Cunningham (2010), Contribution of melt in the Beaufort Sea to the decline in Arctic multiyear sea ice coverage: 1993–2009, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L20501, doi:10.1029/2010GL044678.

E. Swanson

"This adds to the freshwater content of the Arctic Ocean and locally to the freshening of the Beaufort Gyre."

I still believe that this massive addition of fresh water into the North Atlantic area will have an effect on ocean currents over time. Yet another change baked into the cake.

For those of you trying to understand his numbers it took me a while to realize that "213 x 103 km2" means "213,000 square kilometers".

From the article up top:


Reverse Bubbleomics: What If OPEC Figures Out Crude Oil’s Fair Price is $150?

This is a good analysis/discussion of the now famous IEA chart howing "Fields yet to be developed or found" in light blue.

And this passage came straight out of discussions at TOD in the last day or so.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently announced their 2009 projection of when oil production would peak was changed from 2030 to 2020, although in a bemusing twist they said it would never ever exceed the peak that was reached in 2006 of 70 million barrels per day. Err…just a small point there; perhaps someone can help me out here? Like I’m not very smart, but the way I read that it looked to me like they were saying that “Peak Oil” was in 2006?

This is a promising development as some of the subtle impacts of the IEA report are being digested in the more mainstream media.

This report is not even a millisecond blip on the radar screen of public consciousness. Given the momentous nature of this "news", Obama should immediately appoint an emergency task force to come up with a response to something that occurred in 2006. No. We will be too busy arguing about tax cuts and why the Democrats lost the election. You don't "fix" the problem of peak oil by responding after it is occurred. Even if a fix were possible, it should have continued in earnest after the Carter era.

I didn't say it would make a HUGE impact, just that the ideas have made it outside (marketoracle - business website) the micrososm of TOD. That's called "a start".

What If OPEC Figures Out Crude Oil’s Fair Price is $150?

Would that be before or after they figure out they're going to need most of it for themselves?

OPEC knows the fair price of a barrel of oil is at least $150 per barrel. They do not want to cut output to jack up the price to that level, because they know they would then be blamed for the Greater Depression to come. Recall that the U.S. still has the best Air Force, Navy, Army, and Marines in the world. If necessary, the U.S. would reinstate the draft and station two or three million men in the oil producing areas of the Middle East. OPEC knows that.

Look what a good job the "best Air Force, Navy, Army, and Marines in the world" has done in keeping the oil flowing in Iraq.

Conquest may be relatively easy; occupation and control most certainly are not...

None of it is cheap...

The Army knows how many troops are necessary for the occupation of a hostile country. Give them enough boots on the ground, and they will do the job.

Enough with the recruiting posters, Don.

There are some Fine Threads that you just can't drive with any hammer.

Afghanistan is very unlikely to end well, even if we flooded the place with as many Boots and Predators as the Joint Chiefs could possibly request. Iraq is similarly bound to be a very compromised 'success'..

My guess is that it would take between two and three million troops on the ground in Afghanistan to successfuly occupy that country. Instead we shall leave on Obama's schedule (after all, the is an election in 2012), declare victory (as we did when leaving Vietnam) and then let the Taliban take over again.

When Al Qaida comes back to Afghanistan, we'll probably send in some CIA or Green Berets from time to time.
We do have some very good special forces.


I much prefer leaving on Obama's schedule than the alternative of committing 2-3M troops and who knows how much money for who knows how many years (50? 100?)

We are still in danger of going down the road of becoming similarly engaged in both Pakistan and Iran.

That would be disastrous.

Enough with the recruiting posters, Don.

My memory is Don claimed some kind of 'secret' military service.

My memory is also that if one claims the government is involved in various "bad things" Don doesn't take kindly to such.

Afghanistan is very unlikely to end well

Given its not went well, why should it end well?

Iraq is similarly bound to be a very compromised 'success'..

Like how the mission was accomplished per the aircraft carrier photo?

I have never claimed secret military service. Show me the comment. I've had some very high security clearences in earlier years, but they were in connection with my briefly being a data processing systems engineer at Sharpe General Depot, the only general depot for the armed services in California.

My military service is limited to two years of Army ROTC. If I could have passed the Navy physical exam I'd have gone four years Navy ROTC and gone on to be a naval officer for a while. My father was in the navy during World War I, and I wanted to carry on the tradition. The Army will take most anybody, but the Air Force and Navy are much more particular.

Show me the comment.

Given the search tools 'round these parts to do a proper search I'd have to write some code (java - junit or selenium) to stuff each poster into their own database then hunt via poster for their comments.

Thus far, I've not been inspired to do such. Writing such code I may do to scrap 5-7 years of court records or for county real estate records.

I've had some very high security clearences in earlier years,

That may have been it. It was a long 'time' ago as I 'member as you were not active posting for some time.

BOSTON — General Electric Co plans to buy 25,000 electric vehicles by 2015 for its corporate fleet and to lease to customers, in a move it said could help speed acceptance of the technology.

The largest U.S. conglomerate initially will buy 12,000 vehicles made by General Motors Co, including the forthcoming Chevrolet Volt. It plans to buy other manufacturers' electric vehicles as they are introduced.

GE makes equipment for the electric grid that will charge these vehicles and owns a stake in battery maker A123 Systems . It estimated that it could generate $500 million in electric vehicle-related revenue over the next three years.

Problem solved. Find a new hobby people. Stock in doom is about to plummet.


Saved by a big corporation! Let us all now rejoice :-)

254.4 million registered passenger vehicles in the United States

Let me do the math

254,400,000 - 25,000 down = only 254,375,000 to go

only need 8 trillion dollars at $41k each to replace that fleet.

or only 2 trillion to replace a quarter of that fleet

Print the money -- get 'er done.

Hybrids sold in the US (October 2010): 24,228
All vehicles 950,165
...approximately only 2.5% of cars sold in the US in Oct are Hybrids.


The problem with the numbers of vehicles in the USA is that we don't have that many drivers to drive them all. So we could whack that number in half right there. Then we could slice out what we really needed, from what we wanted. Then you can say that we get some of them for free because we the people already own part of GM through our bailout funds.

Say they give a price reduction to any person that pays taxes, corporations or companies have to pay full price, some state and city governments can also get a price reduction to replace some of their gas guzzlers.

As Government motors pays itself back into General motors, the price can go down if they build more of the line of cars.

All in all, I'd give it about 30 years to make a dent in things, just when most people will be walking away from their gas guzzlers anyway, and they might not be able to afford anything but a ticket in the next horse and buggy to roll by. Or maybe Fred and his golf cart recharge station will save some of us from having to walk everywhere in our old age.

Nice to see that they are trying to help the process, hope they know that it is going to take a lot more pushing this to get it going even up to the slight rise that is before us, before the cliff.

BioWebScape Designs for a better fed and housed world.

I can hardly wait to be able to drive by the electric cars parked by the side of the road with dead batteries and looking for the owners walking down the road carrying a can of electricity to refill their batteries.

I might drive by with my solar powered golf cart towing my array and solar generator behind it and asking if they need a charge.

That's fair Jon, considering the growing numbers of EV owners who are already smiling each time they drive past Gas Stations, watching all those drivers who can't even refill at home!

This driver says his rooftop PV paid for itself in averted Gas Prices..

Hi Everyone,

Richard Heinburg will be giving a talk in Minneapolis, Minnesota at 1pm at South High School, this Saturday the 13th. His talk is part of a larger gathering to discuss local responses to peak oil, climate change, and economic insecurity. The whole event runs from 12 to 5pm, but you are welcome to just attend the lecture.

The event program is detailed here:

Twin Cities Transition Fair

There will be quite a few interesting groups there. Some are working on building cooperative food production and processing. Some are gardeners. Some solar hot water and PV. Others are working on helping people cope with the inner stress of transition. Quite a wide array of viewpoints. There will be large open space event and those who attend will have a chance to offer a focal point for discussion if they desire. There will also be a networking event by local region. I know there are 2 transition groups on the St. Paul side that will be there, and 4 on the Minneapolis side, plus others from the surround.

I know several Drumbeat regulars are from the Twin Cities area and I hope to meet several of you in person at the event. My role is to run around with the microphone during the Q&A. (Ah, the Glory!) You can recognize me by my dark brown hair, green square glasses, goatee, and more round than tall stature (I am sorry to say!)

Hopefully the snow holds off. Looking pretty likely that somewhere in the MSP area gets hit with accumulating snow Fri/Sat.

Minnesota knows how to properly welcome a guest from California. I fear the snowstorm that would result if Allen came up to visit from the Big Easy! (There has been a lot of grieving among the light rail crowd with the loss of Representative Oberstar).

I knew George Isaacs RIP


They said that I brought a meter of fresh snow with me when I visited Iceland :-T

I'd love to go but am visiting daughter and granddaughters up in Grand Rapids, MN this weekend. Family comes before all else.

Sorry to miss you Don! The twin cities peak oil efforts could really use the help of an economist that "gets" peak oil. Enjoy the weekend!

Due to the snow emergency I stayed home on Saturday and tried to see how many coherent comments I could make on TOD. I have not counted them all, but I do know they are a record high for me. Peak comments:-)

I'll see you there.

Hi mostly Aangel, Majorian, Dissident ...,

I added a reply to the fossil fuel Co2 part discussion a while ago

Important is Co2 emissions in ppm directly from fossil fuels, or CO2 equivalents emitted (including methane and so forth). The latter determines the warming in total.

We should be careful as to write which one we talk about, otherwise we cant agree on anything!


Yes. But the claimed 600 gigatons of fossil fuel CO2 emission in the next 100+ years is absurd. The existing, proven reserves of oil (conventional and non-conventional), natural gas and most importantly coal are enough to give us *four* times more. Given the clear and ongoing decline of CO2 sinks we cannot bank on most of this fossil fuel derived CO2 being removed. This is enough to give us over 600 ppmv by 2100. The supposedly extreme A2 scenario envisions 700 ppmv.

As for "natural" CO2 sources, this is something that the IPCC is grossly underestimating. Just like with the zero sea level rise from glacier melt, the philosophy is that since we don't know enough about it we just leave it out. But we do know that the ESAS has at least 50 gigatons of *free* not clathrate CH4 that can be released catastrophically as the sea bed permafrost cap decays. This "natural" process will guarantee that we do not have enough CO2 sink potential to hide our mess.

Anyone that is interested in understanding the link between oil production and CO2 accumulation has to look at my blog post links below. The first describes how to model the CO2 persistence via its significant residence time. The second one shows how CO2 emissions from fossil fuel production works as a forcing function to create the incredibly persistent impulse response that we will see, regardless of whether we stop man-made emissions tomorrow.


The only thing that makes this analysis remotely difficult is that it is a challenge to come up with the background equilibrium CO2 levels. All that does is adjust the calibration of the overall fit though.

I am surprised that no one has attempted to do this. Rutledge gave it a good shot but he may be missing some of the details by not including a convolution model such as provided by the Oil Shock model. All the climate scientists agree that convolution of the stimulus with the impulse response is the key to understanding CO2 levels. However, the climate scientists do not have access to a production model nor the understanding to really nail the analysis.

I agree that the model for future CO2 emissions is primitive. But the empirical behaviour of the world economy has been to maximize CO2 production regardless of technological innovation. Who knows, maybe the world find nuclear religion and for the first time there will be a clear break this pattern. But given the BAU disease this is unlikely and coal mines will not be shut down in the next 50 years.

Who knows, maybe the world find nuclear religion and for the first time there will be a clear break this pattern.

Given the riots in Germany over fission waste and the rise in cancer within 50 miles of fission plants (not to mention radioactive rabbits due to leaks) - what sane and rational person should think nuclear power is a good plan?

And yet the best ideas for addressing the situation ends up being 70% ineffective.

If the 'solutions' to Carbon control are structured to be 70% ineffective just so the parasite class can keep sucking - why should the Common Man support such a poor plan

Is the only way to remove the parasite class is to kill the host species and habitat?

I see you have given up providing a link to that same tired and discredited story about carbon control revenues. If you had a real argument, you wouldn't keep quoting one single dated study by a partisan group that has been shot down over and over.

And yet you claimed you'd provide an actual rebuttal:

Note how, when asked direct questions in:

you can't be bothered to answer them.

I see you have given up providing a link



(the above link shows how parasite classes work.)

But we were trying to determine if we would run out of reserves before reaching 450ppm or 471 ppm in which case we would supposedly not have to worry about GW, a denier talking point.
I agree that the Rutledge's curve is wrong in declining after 2050 but he's also wrong that FF will run out in 40 years even at constant consumption.
For example, the world uses 100 Tcf of natural gas, 6.5 G tons of coal per year and 30 Gb/yr of oil. After 40 years that's
4000 Tcf of gas, 270 Gtons of coal and 1200 Gb of oil total. If 90% is burnt that's 1100 Gt CO2 or 27.5 Gt CO2 per year. If we exhausted
all oil and gas in 40 years and just burnt another 270 Gt coal for the next 40 years we reduce the overall amount of CO2 by 25% so rather than rise 20 ppm per decade after 2050 we would rise at 15 ppm per decade of CO2 or 531ppm in 2090 and there would still be coal left in the ground(60 Gt).

As far as I can see the IEA New Policies(enlightened) Scenario of an ultimate 650 ppm or 3.5 deg C is the new low limit on GW.

In all this I have to ask, has anyone thought what would happen if the numbers of people on the planet were to nose dive in the next 5 to 10 years?

Already I am reading where here in the state of Arkansas farmers can't afford to buy winter wheat seed in the numbers that they did last year. As yet they can't say how low it will go, but the paper said as much as 40% less acres planted next year, due to cost.

Tie that in with the damage in Russia, the draughts in other parts of the world and other issues like wheat prices and other foods grains being used as a cash cow for the money people. People in some parts of the world won't be eating as well next year, let alone the rest of this year.

While we have a load of food in the world, and we could really feed everyone if we got it all to the people that needed it in a timely and orderly manner, without all the greed and knashing of political teeth going on. It still begs the question. What if a food shortage kills off a bunch more people than expected in the coming decades.

All most all the numbers of population and usage goes out the door, if we hit die off before 2040 or even 2020, let alone getting to 2100.

As sea levels rise, Billions of people are going to be moving. Trillions of dollars of land and buildings and what not are going to be underwater, and who knows where your grain growing regions will be as the climate changes.

I keep seeing 9 billion by 2050, and I keep seeing them not getting fed in the same manner that they are now.

And saying that the USA is going to not get impacted food wise, seems bogus to me. We have 43 million people already on food stamps, that means they can't make their food budget by any other method. What happens when that number doubles or triples when we have a massive crop failure just like Russia?

Times are changing to fast to make solid models of things as they are going to be, I still see to many varibles not getting punched into the system, or thought about much.

BioWebScape Designs for a better fed and housed world.
Locally over 13 inches below normal for rain.

Do your farmers sell their wheat for more or less than the price of seed?


In all this I have to ask, has anyone thought what would happen if the numbers of people on the planet were to nose dive in the next 5 to 10 years?

I believe anyone who has posted on WW III has thought about such.

Fuel question re: ethanol

Brazil uses ethanol.... what % I am not sure but one of you knows this. Small scale production of ethanol is possible. (I used to supply friends with my home made rum...90+% (not proof))

Question....is there an additive or group of additives available to mitigate the problems of ethanol use in small engines....say industrial/commercial Honda engines used to power small tractors?

Everything I read says that it will destroy these engines with e15...let alone higher concentrations.

When the airline I worked for switched over from leaded aviation fuel to unleaded car gas for radial engines...we had to use an additive to help the seals and valves. This is the only parallel I am familiar with.

Thanks in advance....Paul

I always thought it was the seals they use, that the alcohol can destroy them. I try to keep anything with ethanol out of my chainsaw. "Big Orange" doesn't like the sauce like his owner.

Brazil uses ethanol.... what % I am not sure but one of you knows this. Small scale production of ethanol is possible. (I used to supply friends with my home made rum...90+% (not proof))

You are almost there!

In 1979 the Fiat 147 was launched to the market, becoming the first modern commercial neat ethanol-powered car (E100) sold in the world.[18][19][21][22] Brazilian carmakers modified gasoline engines to support hydrous ethanol characteristics and changes included compression ratio, amount of fuel injected, replacement of materials that would get corroded by the contact with ethanol, use of colder spark plugs suitable for dissipating heat due to higher flame temperatures, and an auxiliary cold-start system that injects gasoline from a small tank in the engine compartment to help starting when cold. Six years later around three quarters of Brazilian passenger cars were manufactured with ethanol engines.[18][23]

Source Wikipedia

Important to note that in the US we use anhydrous ethanol blends.


The U.S. Needs to Transition to Hydrous Ethanol
4 Comments Posted by Joanna Schroeder – September 1st, 2009

Our nation needs to transition to hydrous ethanol as the primary renewable transportation fuel, writes Brian J. Donovan with Renergie, Inc. Many of you may be thinking that this is no different than what many people are proposing – the move to ethanol- but Donovan is proposing the use of hydrous ethanol versus anhydrous ethanol. Simply put, anhydrous ethanol has a purity of at least 99 percent and meets the standard specification for ethanol used as a motor fuel. Hydrous (or wet) ethanol can be produced by simple distillation (think in your backyard) without the dehydration step (which then produces anhydrous ethanol) and is between 93-96 percent ethanol and 7-4 percent water.

I grew up in Brazil and owned a few hydrous ethanol powered cars there. Though it wasn't legal we distilled fuel grade ethanol in a homemade still from various tropical fruits...


Comparative testing by engineers at Orbital Corporation of hydrous (E93h, E87h, E80h) and anhydrous (E100) ethanol fuels on a direct injection multi-cylinder turbocharged engine found that the engine may be operated at high load with the same output and efficiency, with either hydrous or anhydrous ethanol. Orbital published its results in an SAE paper presented at Congresso SAE Brasil in late November, 2007.

In ethanol production, the “beer” resulting from the fermentation is processed in distillation columns where an azeotropic mixture of ethanol and water is separated out from the rest of the stillage. This product is referred to as hydrous ethanol—about 95% ethanol and 5% water. To be used as a supplementary blend in low levels with gasoline, this hydrous ethanol needs to be dehydrated, resulting in anhydrous ethanol.

The process of dehydration is costly and energy-consuming. A study on the use of E10-E26 hydrous ethanol blends by HE Blends BV in the Netherlands noted that hydrous ethanol is 10%-20% less expensive than anhydrous ethanol, is easier to produce and to handle, and offers a better life cycle emissions profile than anhydrous ethanol.

Hydrous ethanol is currently used in Brazil and Sweden, and hydrous E10-15 is currently being used under the European BEST project in the Rotterdam area.

Peak oil and live without oil does not necessary have to be that bad. Grow sugar cane, make rum and use the street car to go home from the pub.

That plan actually works out pretty well in places like Brazil but not so well in say, Canada...I mean, the growing sugar cane part, of course.

Todd Fiske's

Camping Elixir

1 part Maple Syrup
1 part Vodka (or Gin)

use of colder spark plugs suitable for dissipating heat due to higher flame temperatures,

I have seen a couple of references to higher temps from ethanol recently, but this is in variance to my previous understanding that hydrous ethanol burns cooler. In particular, ethanol/water injection systems were used extensively in large air-cooled radial aircraft engines at takeoff power to help keep engine temperatures down. I personally know of one large 4 engined craft that was converted to a fire bomber that made a couple of attempts at takeoffs from Mesa Arizona Falcon Field and had to abort. On the final attempt they got airborne and found that they had forgotten to refuel the alcohol injection tanks resulting in the engines overheating and catching fire while attempting to re-land at the airport. The plane crashed killing all aboard and just narrowly missing a school building.
Racing autos also use alcohol fuel because it burns cooler and has higher antiknock properties ie fewer burned valves or holes in pistons.
I am wondering where the idea that alcohol burns hotter came from?

Question....is there an additive or group of additives available to mitigate the problems of ethanol use in small engines....say industrial/commercial Honda engines used to power small tractors?

The only problems I have ever heard of in using alcohol in small engines is the difficulty of advancing the timing and altering the carburetor fuel flow orifices. The only real problem this causes is a loss of power compared to using gasoline.
I am planning to use straight hydrous ethanol in my chain saws if I can find a good 2 stroke oil that is miscible in alcohol. Project for this winter is to contact a number of chain saw manufacturers and ask if they make any units for sale in Brazil that are made to use ethanol and if so what changes (if any) are needed and also what 2 stroke oil is recommended for use with ethanol.

if I can find a good 2 stroke oil that is miscible in alcohol.

this puzzles me. i don't know why 2 stroke oil would not be miscible in ethanol.

Look to Nature, before jumping on the technology Merry-go-round. I've been using it for 40 years,in chain saws, motocross race bikes, airplanes, tool oil and other stuff,, but it's been around for about 4000 years...

Castor Oil.


""The methanol-fuelled glow plug engines used for aeromodelling, since their adoption by model airplane hobbyists in 1948, have used varying percentages of castor oil as a dependable lubricant. It is highly resistant to degradation when the engine has its fuel-air mixture "leaned out" for maximum engine speed.""

Choose wisely.

The Martian

Castor Oil

a ricin burner ?

I recall the distinctive smell of gasahol hanging over Sao Paulo, ISTR it was something like 50% but I may well be wrong. As for the rum, can I be your friend :)


Denninger posted this video today on market-ticker (Jeremy Grantham). His focus was on the Fed and manipulation of the markets, but I find the discussion that starts at 18:00 to be much more interesting.

To paraphrase Jeremy Grantham..."We are running out of everything."

Interestingly Jeremy Grantham started his career as an economist at Royal Dutch Shell, so maybe he is also PO aware, given his statement in the video that "we are running out of everything"

The Military Is Preparing For Peak Oil, And Civilian Authorities Are Not [PRESENTATION]

Various military reports have come out recently that analyze the apocalyptic threat posed by peak oil. The most notorious of these, from a German military think tank, warned of market failures and a crisis of political legitimacy and proposed ways to manage the risk.

Nothing comparable, however, has been issued by U.S. civilian authorities, like the FDA and the DoT.

This is a 36 slide presentation. Most of what you see here will be old hat but a few slides give a new perspective on things, like slide 12 about Non-linear responses to peak oil.

"Intuitively, it might appear that a phase of slow reduction in the amount of oil leads to and equally slow reduction in economic capacity...

This is a false assumption: economies move within a narrow band of relative stability.

Outside this band the system reacts chaotically.

Ron P.

This is a false assumption: economies move within a narrow band of relative stability.

Outside this band the system reacts chaotically.

Sort of like the climate :-(

An Oil Savings Failure

Discovered while researching Chapter 2 - Urban Rail of "An American Citizen's Guide to an Oil Free Economy".

The Long Island Railroad is mainly electrified# and the nations largest commuter railroad.

A map of the LIRR

THE major project for the LIRR is adding service to Grand Central Station in Manhattan (LIRR currently only serves Penn Station). Hard to count costs because two of four tracks on a tunnel under the East River were started in 1973 or so (the other two tracks for a subway that had been in operation since the 1980s).

A new tunnel from the 62nd Avenue tunnel to Grand Central and another new tunnel in Queens to capture LIRR trains.


A new station underneath Grand Central is being built. 8 tracks, 4 platforms, 160,000 passengers/day. Saving 30 to 50 minutes/day for LIRR pax commuting to East Side Manhattan (thus 160K more pax).

This will increase rush hour trains crossing the East River into Manhattan by 41%, taking the equivalent of 2 traffic lanes worth of people (I think way low, unless they are mainly in buses). Extra capacity freed up at Penn for more Metro-North commuter trains > more pax. It will also improve access to JFK airport for people from Manhattan and the Bronx. So fewer taxis, more electrified trains to and from JFK. Easier reverse commuting, from Bronx & Manhattan to Queens & Long Island.

Unfortunately, LIRR to Grand Central will open before the 2nd Avenue subway Phase 1 (overloaded Lexington Ave subway is 600,000+/weekday).

All well and good.

Reduced vehicle miles traveled "more than 500,000 miles/day". Less than 1,000 barrels/day.

That is 3.125 miles per new pax.

Will pent up demand grab every car spot vacated across the East River ? Were all this commuters taking buses before ? Is "more than" just a filler for the not actually seriously looking at the fuel savings ?

From a fuel savings perspective, this major and good project appears to be a bust.

Best Hopes Elsewhere,


# Ed Tennyson gave a presentation to the LIRR Board on the benefits of electrifying all branches of LIRR (main lines are, some branches not). They generally agreed, but did not know where the money would come from. As he was speaking, Eisenhower was giving his second inaugural address.

This isn't that much different from the usual lessons about building wider roads and encouraging more sprawl. You make transportation easier (by one means or another), and more people will move about.

It won't really be until gas prices start to significantly and permanently increase that this dynamic is going to change very much.

This isn't that much different from the usual lessons about building wider roads and encouraging more sprawl.

Except that these "lessons" often tend to be a form of self-congratulatory wishful thinking engaged in by the cram-and-jam crowd. There are plenty of places in this country where severe traffic jams are rare (usually caused a crash in just the wrong place, or the like.) Clearly, people cannot spend all 24 hours of each day "moving about", and even in pleasant, uncrowded places where the roads are not parking lots 18 hours a day, they indeed don't. In other words, despite all the arrant nonsense about infinite demand, there's a practical upper limit.

A classic case is St. Louis. When the population crashed from over a million to around 400,000 a few decades ago, major traffic jams ceased to exist as a routine phenomenon. It was possible to drive around reasonably well even in rush hour. Since then, as the population has built back up, the jams have returned. It's very simple really, they have a road system built for maybe 600,000 people. And of course that's perfectly typical of government, corrupt, inept, even just plain stupid, and forever a decade or three behind the curve - exactly the same problem, really, as with the 80-years-and-still-running saga of New York's Second Avenue Subway.

As government is corrupt, inept and even just plain stupid, what does a perceptive genius such as yourself propose: no government, put Coca Cola in charge, a free for all Mogadishu style and let the strongest rule, anarchism guided by chanting Buddhist monks, divine rule by yourself (sorry, Yourself)...

Mogadishu is neither a "free for all" nor a case of "let the strongest rule." Rather, it is a city of 2 million people who's live are constantly being interrupted and made worse by two rival gangs who would like to set themselves up as the government. Neither of the gangs has any legitimacy and were it not for the financial and armaments support of outsiders would be no more than a bunch of "bad boys." What is simply amazing is that Mogadishu continues to function as a city. Yes, they are exceedingly poor, but you don't see droves of people leaving in search of food. In fact, food and other goods continue to come into the city. The markets aren't anything special, but they are there. One has to wonder how much better they could do if the idiot gangs would just leave them be.

(As both an anarchist and a Buddhist (and animist), I find your lack of trust in this path rather disconcerting ;-))

As an old friend used to say - My preferred world is me as absolute benevolent dictator, short of that I don't want anyone in charge.

people who's live are constantly being interrupted and made worse by two rival gangs who would like to set themselves up as the government.

So sort of like the US?

Mogadishu was a Pirate port (or center of free trade), for a thousand years controlled mostly by numerous Sultans, until the Italians bought it. Now it's a Pirate port again.

Best hopes for peace in Somalia, someday.

Foolish straw man. There could be a rather broad spectrum available between living in a totalitarian hippie commune or a corporate fascist commune or a dictatorship by anyone's "Self", and living with no governance at all.

For the United States, a blindingly obvious suggestion is simply to go with the majority of the population and don't live within the jurisdiction of a really large city, which is where the problems are often at their worst and most in-your-face - and where to top it off the mayor, as with Mike Bloomberg, or the city council, as in San Francisco, oftentimes wants to be your obnoxiously meddlesome Mommy and Daddy. Most folks already have (or had) a mommy and daddy, so few if any need politician(s) for that.

Another (and related) mitigation might be to avoid living where you're compelled to use public transportation every day (unless you can find an affordable location where it's frequent, punctual and reliable.) The occasional visit to the DMV on a bad day, or even the perpetual road project that never gets done but can be avoided, will be much less wearing than having the shiftlessness, sloth, and stupidity shoved in your face two or three times a day, day in and day out.

All well and good if it ever actually gets built. But, for example, the Second Avenue Subway has been a decade or two into the future for going on 80 years. It's like fusion power, a "science project" with no hard deadlines and zero incentive to accomplish anything useful, and it's simply the way they do things, or rather fail to do things, in the big, big city. Gratuitous delays, rampant corruption, gross incompetence, and lame excuses are simply endless and eternal.

VMT savings will (mostly) need to be garnered elsewhere. The paltry numbers you cite shouldn't surprise anyone familiar with the place - notwithstanding the spectacular traffic jams seen sometimes at the New Jersey tunnel entrances. After all, despite their size, those traffic jams comprise only a small percentage of all commuters.

This is not new: bringing a vehicle into Manhattan has been uniquely problematical for centuries, because of its odd location between two huge rivers (really, branches of the same river.) Ferry capacity and waiting time were issues until the bridges and tunnels were built - whereupon, as time passed, the limit duly became there's no place to park.

So a project like this is really what used to be called - almost since the unification of the city in 1898 - "transit relief". It will make the place more livable if they ever finish it, but, with no place to park, most of the commuters are already taking the overcrowded bus or some combination of severely overcrowded trains.

Edit - "Will pent up demand grab every car spot vacated across the East River?" ROFLMAO. Any such spot will be grabbed almost before it's vacated. In that sense, the question has no meaning...

If it ever gets built ...

This is a link to progress of the TBM drives under Grand Central Station


In the actual stations, the rock between the various TBM drives will be blasted away. But the TBM drives will remain for the tracks going into and past the Station (for reversing and mid-day storage).

Two tracks under the East River @ 63rd become 4 tracks heading towards Grand Central and then 8 tracks as they approach the station. In Queens, 4 tracks (two each from two separate lines as I understand it) shrink to 2 tracks to go under the river.

A list of contracts awarded, underway and completed.


Absent a financial crisis, work is scheduled to be completed in 2015. I would not be surprised to see ribbon cutting in 2016 though.

This all appears to be meeting pent up demand for transit.

Best Hopes for the 2nd Avenue subway,


"Best Hopes for the 2nd Avenue subway"

Indeed. The Lexington Avenue subway has been dangerously overcrowded for many decades. Of course, besides the Second Avenue being talk, talk, talk for going on 80 years, that 63rd street tunnel took 30 years, and the stuff that was supposed to connect to it still isn't all done. And let's not even get into the unending nonsense with the Twin Towers site. And the MTA has been reasonably good at producing vaporware schedules and lists since its inception.

In other words, it all works the same way in the big, big city, so I'll believe that 2016 opening only when and if passengers are actually boarding trains and said trains are actually taking them somewhere.

..and regardless of what PaulS believes, the doors on the 4,5 and 6 continue to open and close, and folks from First Avenue have a bit more of a hike to get up there, but they do, or grab a crosstown bus and still get where they're going.

Second Avenue, like any addition to the system, is a moving target of how much its needed vs. how much it costs, what else is on the docket. It's not like the East side is unable to move while this old debate rages on. You think it helps your argument that it's just a joke, when mods to the system, even if they take a lot of time in coming about.. are features, not bugs.

Stand Clear of the closing doors, please. Bing, Bong!

Another straw man. The question is not so much whether the doors open and close, as whether one can squeeze past them onto the train. They never really needed the Second Avenue to avoid the walk to Third Avenue, the issue was overcrowding almost since the day the IRT opened. The last time they did anything about it was a very long time ago, in the 1930s when they built the so-called IND.

And the crosstown bus is no panacea. It's sometimes possible to outwalk it. There, too, as ever, the "studies" have gone on almost from time immemorial. Always talk, talk, talk, hardly ever any action.

"a moving target of how much its needed vs. how much it costs, what else is on the docket"

Yup, that's a major part of the problem - inept grandstanding politicians flitting aimlessly from one Big Thing to the next, freely squandering tax money on random starts and stops while hardly ever getting anything finished. (Except when it comes to Palaces of Moronic Entertainment, such as Yankee Stadium or Madison Square Garden - then they can usually manage it, eventually.)

This will increase rush hour trains crossing the East River into Manhattan by 41%, taking the equivalent of 2 traffic lanes worth of people (I think way low, unless they are mainly in buses). Extra capacity freed up at Penn for more Metro-North commuter trains > more pax. It will also improve access to JFK airport for people from Manhattan and the Bronx. So fewer taxis, more electrified trains to and from JFK. Easier reverse commuting, from Bronx & Manhattan to Queens & Long Island.

AFAIK, the Penn Station Metro North trains are the Pascack Valley and Port Jervis lines that service Rockland and Orange counties respectively (as well as Bergen county). Don't they come in to the Amtrak/NJ Transit side of Penn Station? How would fewer LIRR trains to the LIRR side free of Penn Station free up space for MetroNorth?

How is this better than taking the E, J or Z trains to Sutphin Boulevard and picking up the AirTrain to JFK from there?

Caveat: I am not a New Yorker and have visited there only a few times.

Metro North has no current service to Penn Station (but it could add off-peak service with minimal work). There is no space today at Penn Station for peak service by Metro North. LIRR, New Jersey transit and Amtrak take all the slots available. (NJT was supposed to build a new 6 track station underground next to Penn Station for extra station capacity for the two new tunnels under the Hudson Ocean. Just canceled).

Metro North could use the Amtrak Hells Gate line (part of the Northeast Corridor) to use LIRR station platforms at Penn Station. Amtrak and LIRR share the four East River tunnels (equipped with both 3rd rail (LIRR) and over head caternary (Amtrak)). Instead of taking the switch in Manhattan to the Amtrak side of Penn Station, Metro North could follow the LIRR route.

Either caternary needs to be added to some LIRR platforms, or Metro North needs to get unique locomotives with both 3rd rail shoes and pantographs (more $ for custom work, but not that difficult).

Today, Metro North > Grand Central and LIRR > Penn. Having both LIRR and Metro North serve both Grand Central and Penn with more trains in toto (LIRR is adding 8 tracks and 4 double sided platforms under Grand Central) is a good thing post-Peak Oil.

And one intermediate stop from Grand Central to Jamaica on a commuter train (much easier to haul luggage on than a subway) is much more attractive than subway to Jamaica (depending on where one lives of course).


There's been talk of moving Metro-North from GCT to Penn for years. Dunno if it will ever happen, but they've been talking about it since the '80s.

NY/NJ/CT metro area urban rail, subway, and light rail maps.

Metro North -- note that the Pascack Valley and Port Jervis lines are west of the Hudson River and go to both NY Penn Station and to Hoboken Terminal.

Long Island Rail Road

New York Subway-- Includes the Air Train to JFK.

NJ Transit-- Note that Metro North lines are shown. I'm not sure what the business arrangement is between NJ Transit and the MTA, but engines and cars at Hoboken have Metro North livery.

PATH-- There is heavy ridership from Newark to NYC on PATH. Less from Hoboken to NYC.

Hudson-Bergen Light Rail

Newark Light Rail-- Which, among other things, connects the Broad Street Station with the Newark Penn Station.

Also, in today's news -- Amtrak ‘no longer interested’ in tunnel deal with NJ Transit

Talks between Amtrak and NJ Transit on any tunnel project are dead, Amtrak officials said late Thursday.
“We are no longer interested in this project,” said Vernae Graham, spokeswoman for the national rail agency.
“There were exploratory talks going on with NJ Transit,” Graham said “The talks have stopped. … That was commuter rail, and we are interested in intercity rail projects.”
Graham said she could not say when the discussions ended, and had no further statements.

Good luck on your next chapter.

You are correct. When I read the following, I overlooked "east-of-Hudson".


And I saw the "west-of-Hudson" lines all on NJT maps, I just assumed that they are all NJT lines. Newark & H-B Light Rail and PATH were all clearly labeled as such. My error.

BTW, on one visit to NYC, I took a water taxi over to see the ribbon cutting on an extension of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line and took PATH back (through WTC site, closed) to NYC.

Your thoughts (and anyone else) on the following:

- Staten Island Ferry from tip of Staten Island to Manhattan
- Staten Island Railroad (SIR) on south shore of Staten Island to tip & ferry
Operates with NYC subway cars
- double track freight railroad in NJ to single track lift bridge to Staten Island, Active for ~1 mile on Staten Island. Abandoned ROW onward to tip of Staten Island. May be suitable for double stack clearances but unsure.

- Two new tunnels from NJ to new station next to Penn Station - canceled
- Cross Harbor freight rail tunnel, from Jersey City to Brooklyn (near the old Navy yards I think)


My proposal:
- Provide commuter train service (dual level cars) from NJ (unsure about connections on NJ side) to tip of Staten Island. A limited number of NJT trains would continue on to Brooklyn. A couple of local stops on Staten Island.
- Two tunnels (required by modern regulations for passenger service) from tip of Staten Island to Brooklyn (landing where Cross Harbor planned to land)
o Small tunnel - single track subway service by SIR and continuing on F line to Manhattan. (other lines possible) Single track (with passing) limits frequency to 8-10 minutes)
o Large tunnel - Perhaps 27' diameter that allows double stack freight (or passenger) service slightly off-center and LIRR track to the side (also clearances for single container freight).

At night, weekends and between weekday peaks, freight train service between New Jersey via Staten island and onto Brooklyn and Long Island. Food for NYC comes in on double stack trains to distribution center (plans already for this as part of Cross Harbor plan). Food and other goods for Long Island are single stack service on either track in the large tunnel.

Commuter service for New Jersey (morning).

Most NJT trains stop at tip of Staten Island and pax choose ferry, SIR to Staten Island, SIR on F tracks in Brooklyn and Manhattan, LIRR (two tracks in tunnel) to either Penn or Grand Central (via Jamaica unless other improvements are made) or stay on selected NJT trains that will dump them off in Brooklyn. NJT trains fill up with Staten Islanders commuting to NJ on return trip.

Staten Islanders can catch NJT trains on north shore or at tip, or take SIR to tip and beyond to Manhattan.

This serves freight (important post-Peak Oil) to NYC and Long Island. Perhaps not enough capacity but a 3rd tunnel can be added if justified.

This adds new capacity for NJ > NYC (Penn & Grand Central, ferry, F line subway, Staten Island, Brooklyn).

MASSIVE upgrade for Staten Island, both to rest of NYC and NJ). Tip of Staten Island may develop large offices, etc.


The Staten Island Ferry is the highest capacity ferry in NY harbor. I think that it was, for a while, the only ferry. Originally, there were large ferries also operating between NJ and NY, and the ferry bays were still standing at the Hoboken Terminal, formerly the Erie Lackawanna Ferry and Train Terminal)) the last time I looked.

Besides the Staten Island Ferry, there are the ferries operated by NY Waterway, which operates across the Hudson, including points as far south as Belford, NJ Seastreak, which operates between Highlands and Atlantic Highlands, NJ and Pier 11 and East 35th Streat on the East River, and New York Water Taxi, which operates mostly between Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. Note that ferries can be expensive – a 40 trip ticket from Seastreak is $625, while a 40 trip Belford-Pier 11 on NY Waterway is $615. However, a 40 minute ferry ride with a $4 beer with which to watch the sunset and the harbor scenery go by, sure beats the PATH to Newark and the NJ Coast Line.

This is the Cross Harbor Freight Progam site. I haven’t looked at their documents in the “Technical Docs” tab in any detail, but Needs Assessment would seem like a good place to start. Figure 4 is an interesting historical map of New York Harbor Terminals, 1949. Note that the Navy Yard is across the East River from lower Manhattan. The new tunnel would enter Brooklyn at the north end of Bay Ridge to connect with the LIRR there. Most of the terminals on the Manhattan, Brooklyn, Hoboken, and Jersey City waterfronts have closed down. The most active port is Newark, on Newark Bay, where the container ships unload.

New York is, by and large, a very bad place to put a city. The Hudson River is a fjord, flowing in a valley carved between the roots of mountains that form the Palisades down to Bayonne on the west side and Westchester county down to the tip of Manhattan on the east side. Also note that in New Jersey, south of Ridgefield, the broad expanse of the Meadowlands is a barrier to transportation. South of the Meadowlands, the bay continues until it joins the Arthur Kill that separates Staten Island from New Jersey.

Geographically, Staten Island is part of New Jersey. People make jokes about New Jersey; Staten Island doesn’t even get that recognition. It is a conservative, middle class bedroom community for Manhattan in a very liberal city. Political power and money power are more influential than geography, technology, or logic.

The http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Kill_Vertical_Lift_Bridge appears to be owned by New York City Economic Development Corporation and it is mainly used to ship garbage from NYC. In NJ, the rails go west and do not join with the Northeast Corridor. They do join tracks that parallel the NJ Turnpike, but those are freight only and do not join the rest of the passenger rail network. I think that the Arthur Kill is reasonably busy and that the bridge will be up quite a lot.

It is also pretty unlikely that many in the area of NJ to the west and south of the Goethals Bridge actually commute to Brooklyn. Commuters on the Jersey Coast Line or on the Northeast Corridor are generally headed for Newark or Manhattan. Brooklyn is more of a residential community and the lower paying jobs there would not support commuting from NJ, given the cost of fares and tolls to cross the Goethals or Outerbridge ($4 eastbound for EZPass Staten Island Bridges Plan) and the Verazanno Narrows Bridge ($9.14 westbound for EZPass). This would be $13+ / day just for bridge tolls to live in NJ and work in Brooklyn.

Typically, NJ commuters do not commute to Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island, except for downtown Brooklyn across the East River from Manhattan. And vice versa. There is commuting from Bergen to Westchester county and vice versa. This is a generalization – I’ve known people to commute from PA to Brooklyn and from Hicksville, Long Island to NJ. This usually happens when a company moves operations from Manhattan to one of other areas, and people struggle to commute 2 hours per day until they either move or change jobs. If a company moves an operation from Hicksville, NY to Morristown, NJ, it is a clear sign that they want to get rid of most of the employees.

NJ Transit commuters on the North Jersey or Northeast Corridor lines headed to Manhattan are unlikely to want to detour east to Staten Island and then take a Staten Island Ferry (25 minutes, and probably no longer free for NJ commuters) followed by a subway. They would much rather continue northeast on the corridor, and then take the PATH to WTC, take the shorter ferry from Hoboken, or continue on to NY Penn Station.

Bottom line:
- the Staten Island Ferry and other ferries are likely to struggle economically as fuel prices go up, in which case your tunnel proposal to extend the subway from Staten Island to the R line in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn may make a lot of sense.
- NJ residents should not be encouraged to commute to Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island and vice versa. Commuting to the center or commuting within a sector of the metro area should be preferred, instead of commuting to non-adjcent sectors.
- The Cross Harbor Rail Tunnel makes sense as planned, since it goes directly from the rail yards in the Newark Bay container terminals to the LIRR yard.
- Long Island is a difficult place to get to due to the Hudson River, Manhattan Island, and East River, but it is the slowest growing sector of the metro area and is becoming largely residential – industry has been leaving for years, e.g. Grumman.
- NJ should focus its rail development on the corridor from Bergen county to Camden county. It’s more economical to build new rail in less forbidding geography that is not as developed as NYC

New York is, by and large, a very bad place to put a city.

That is what the Royal French engineer told the Sieur (Count) de Bienville about that bend in the Mississippi River :-)

Some comments, followed by more later.

A straight tunnel, without stops, across the hypotenuse, is much quicker than a tunnel (or using the Verrazano Narrows bridge) and connecting with the terminus of the R subway line.

Map of NYC subway lines

An ideal junction would be where the F+G lines cross the R line. Detailed knowledge of ridership and frequency would determine which line to interline SIR with and which would require a transfer.

A single subway track should be adequate (a train every 10, perhaps 8 minutes). Since SIR trains will need to merge with existing lines, high frequency will likely not be possible. And if other options (ferry - 21 million/year, LIRR) exist, demand for subway ridership will be limited.

Modern tunnels, for safety reasons, demand "escape routes" every so many feet (In Norway, minimum every 1 km, recommended every 500 m), So long tunnels must be built in pairs today (sometimes just raw rock tunnels).

There is a need, post-Peak Oil, to feed 7+ million people on Long Island (including Queens & Brooklyn) plus Manhattan, Bronx, and the nearby suburbs west of the Hudson Ocean with a minimum of diesel. Likely over 10 million people.

Conceptually, two major food distribution centers (i.e. > trucks). One in Brooklyn and one mid-Long Island (say Islip) and smaller rail & truck served centers as logistics and economics requires.

I am almost sure that LIRR cannot handle double stacked containers to Islip., but new Brooklyn center could be served by double stacked containers. (And stupid to build without looking towards the future).

There are "issues" with running non-FRA rail (like subways) next to FRA freight, especially in tunnels. Such as derailment. LIRR is FRA, so OK.

Thus my choice for LIRR service during rush hours on weekdays and freight the rest of the time.

So, the small tunnel is for

1) as much extra subway service as R and/or F line can handle (my guess). 24 hour service by SIR
2) Escape adits for the larger tunnel

The large tunnel is for

1) double track service by LIRR during rush hour, direct service via Jamaica to both Penn and Grand Central

2) Single track double stack freight to feed NYC, and double track (one track capable of double stack but can run single stack as well) single stack LIRR service to feed Long Island. Freight operates, say, 2 x 24 + 5 x 15 hours/day. Always take the subway home if you work late.

3) Escape adits from the smaller tunnel

Using the tip of Staten island allows for a rail connection to New Jersey, for both freight and commuter trains. Partially single track, partially double track to NJ. A limited number of NJ commuters can be added to Staten Islanders. This will not replace the pax volumes from canceled tunnel.

Both NJT and Staten Islanders have 3 choices when they get to the tip. Ferry (perhaps no longer free), subway or LIRR to their choice of Penn or GCT.

And as for the value of ring connections connecting outlying districts, I refer you to the story of Stalin and the Brown subway line in Moscow :-)

More later,


Possibly Sieur d'Iberville chose a site that will survive as the waters rise. Perhaps 10-15 years ago I read a fascinating article about the huge pumps that keep New Orleans dry. Electric pumps IIRC. Perhaps wind-powered pumps with an output proportional to wind speed would be the thing to have during hurricanes. Ruggedized Dutch windmills, as it were.

The subway map is a highly distorted schematic of the system. Note that Verrazano Narrows is over 100 feet deep, a channel cut down to the bedrock through a terminal moraine.

A tunnel from the SI Ferry terminal, the northern terminus of the SIR at St Georges, to the junction of the F&G subway lines with the R in the Red Hook / Park Slope neighborhood is a long tunnel. In fact, it would be most of the length need to reach The Battery and directly replace the SI Ferry.

A shorter tunnel could be constructed from north of where the SIR goes under I-278 (south of Clifton), and it could join the R under 4th Avenue in Park Slope whereeve it would be most convenient. I don't see any reason to go as far as 59th street where the N and R join, unless it can be established that Staten Islanders want to go to Coney Island.

The R trains run every 6-8 minutes during rush hour, while the SIF runs every 15 minutes. Some subset of the R trains could simply run to Tottenville at first, although the capacity engineering should be done to support a heavier load anticipated for a post-PO economy.

More serious than what to do for SI and NJ commuters is the problem of what to do about rail to east of the Hudson River. The Needs Assessment document cited above is pretty stark in setting out the problem that there is essentially no trans-Hudson freight rail in New York metro area, and the nearest bridge is at Selkirk near Albany, since the one between Highland and Poughkeepsie is now part of a "rail trail". These are both easily viewed on Google satellite, and their shadows show the type of construction.

Furthermore, once rail cars are in Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties, there are a lot of limitations and restrictions, since the infrastructure has not been updated to support modern car weights and sizes.

The LIRR uses 750 volt third rail electrification. The New York and Atlantic Railway, which has a 20-year franchise to operate freight, has a few crews operating daily using diesel electric locomotives. A number of the freight lines are not electrified.

The Hunts Point Food Distribution Center in the Bronx is the main center for produce, meat and seafood distribution. Looking at Google, it appears that there is a spur off the Amtrack line that terminates in a multi-modal freight yard. But most of the food probably moves by truck. An Economic Snapshot of the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center

As for non-perishable foods, I'm not sure how they are distributed. Major wholesalers, grocery chains, big-box stores, etc, probably have their own warehouse distribution systems.

A lot of distribution by road of other goods is done by truck from warehouses strung out along routes I-81 and I-84 north and west of the metropolitan areas from Boston to Washington.

The Port of New York/New Jersey is the largest on the East Coast. However, most of the tonnage goes through Newark and Elizabeth, rather than Brooklyn for obvious reasons.

The Bayonne Bridge is an obstacle to larger container ships, and there are studies in progress to deal with the issue. However, these just deal with the shipping problems, and there doesn't seem to be much thinking about how to wholistically solve any other transportation problems.

Generally speaking, a single large double track tunnel with a small dusty foot escape tunnel can be as economic as dual tunnels.

One in Norway, through granite.


My thoughts, for your analysis.

Double stack containers will become the dominant paradigm of US & Canadian railroading. This any freight connection to NYC needs to be able to handle double stack.

Loading gauge on LIRR (which should be 100% electrified) cannot accept double stack all the way up Long Island. However, expanding clearances for a few miles to a priority point should be economic.

Double stack trains (hi-cube, 9.5" high each) require about a 22' diameter tunnel for single track operation (3rd rail). Expanding the diameter slightly (say 27' rough guess) and shoving the double stack track over to the right, would allow a second single stack container or passenger track to operate trains centered against the middle of the left wall.

This appear optimum for the freight requirements (limited double stack, lots of single stack trains) and would allow double track operation of LIRR commuter trains during rush hour.

If passengers are to be carried (even if not I think) a small walkable escape tunnel is required next to the big one. Not much extra cost to make it large enough for a subway tunnel and complete it as a subway tunnel. A full 11 car subway train every 8 to 10 minutes can carry a lot of people.

The route of the subway tunnel is determined by the freight tunnel. At the end it can be curved away (escape adits to the surface instead of a neighboring tunnel once under land). Add that escape adits are needed every 1 km or so, and short drives of escape only tunnels are allowed, and I can see the subway tunnel bending away from the freight tunnel as it approaches Brooklyn.

It is apparent to me that the Cross-Harbor tunnel will never be built with BAU, despite the strategic and economic need. By adding needed, if sub-optimum# passenger service, a combined project might work.

A wild SWAG is my 3 track proposal would cost 60% to 80% more than a single double stack freight tunnel with a walkable escape tunnel and less than the Cross-Harbor tunnel (two double stack train tunnels).

Best Hopes for holistic thinking,


# From stories about commutes from NJ > NYC, all available options are "sub-optimal".

There is a Staten Island Economic Development Corp study of a West Side Light Rail that would connect with the Hudson Bergen Light Rail and provide a reasonable commute for riders to Exhange Place in Jersey City, where there are ferry and PATH train connections to various points in Manhattan. http://www.siedc.org/Capital-Projects/west-shore-light-rail and http://www.siedc.org/images/PDF/WSLRPhaseII_FINALREPORT.pdf which has some information about ridership projections and travel by Staten Islanders to various destinations.

There is a bus route S53 that goes from the Grasmere SIR station to the 86th Street stop of the R line. It is a 15 to 25 minute trip over the Verrazano Bridge and runs as frequently as 7 minute intervals during peak traffic hours. http://www.mta.info/nyct/bus/schedule/staten/s053cur.pdf

The North Shore Alternatives Analysis page is at http://www.mta.info/mta/planning/nsaa/ The public presentation doesn't show any connectivity to Brooklyn. http://www.mta.info/mta/planning/nsaa/nsaa.pdf

Some more observations.

- It is easier and less disruptive to serve the existing "world's largest" food market complex at Hunts Point by rail than to build several smaller ones (although that is a better long term strategy).

- The existing rail lines appear to be defunct but not badly scrapped. Second line down Oak Point Avenue (in the street) appears to be viable.

- Low volumes (one to two trains per day) on New York Connecting Railroad in Queens


Get to Sunnyside Junction (where LIRR goes underground to Grand Central) and good clearances from there apparently.

This connects to Hells Gate bridge (two tracks Amtrak NEC, one track freight (used to be two but they removed one in the 1970s). Just past Hells Gate is Oak Point spur line going to Metro North Hudson Line (to the west) and Hunts Point a half mile up, on the east.

Both the Oak Point and Hunts Point spur are curved the wrong way for feeding trains from Brooklyn (easy to get around, stop and reverse, backing in)

Looking at the aerial photos, and it appears that Hunts Point warehouses were designed to take boxcars. Refrigerated rail cars are making a comeback (max 80,000, min. 8,000 in 2001, 25,000 in 2005) and Japan was switched to refrigerated containers.

It appears that double stack refrigerated containers are in the future, not today.

Lots of details. I strongly suspect that getting from Staten Island to the LIRR terminus in Brooklyn will be 95% of the battle.

Best Hopes,


If you get freight to the Bay Ridge line by tunnel either from SI or NJ, then it would go east on the Bay Ridge line to the Fresh Pond junction with the Montauk Line and the Fremont Secondary near Glendale. The Fremont Secondary operated by CSX runs from Fresh Pond to Hells Gate and the Oak Point yard.

Despite the legend of its origin, the Koltsevaya Line appears to have solved an actual problem of congestion at the city center.

The Paris Metro has a more densely connected grid than does the NY Subway. You can do a ring on two trains, the 2 and the 6, between Charles de Gaulle Etoile and Nations.

The Goethals Bridge replacement recommends provision of a 27-foot-wide potential mass transit corridor should future conditions warrant inclusion of such service during the service life of the bridge. At least this would not open and close with the passing of ships in the Arthur Kill.

I looked more closely and both Point Jervis and Pascack valley (purple & yellow) go only to Hoboken on the map. Transfers at Secaucus Junction to Penn Station bound trains seem possible.

A detail.

I also remember that a Penn Station site did not mention Metro-North service, only NJT, Amtrak, LIRR, subway lines and buses (and taxis).


Alan, you are right. The Pascack Valley schedule shows only direct trains to Hoboken, with connections to NY Penn Station at Secaucus, and connections by PATH to World Trade Center, ferry to World Financial Center at Hoboken.

On the North Jersey Coast line the trains from Bayhead go to Hoboken because they are diesel electric, while the trains from Long Branch go to NY Penn Station because they are electric. The tracks between Bayhead and Long Branch are not electrified. The schedules also show the connections to WTC and WFC.

Another insightful article on China's rare earth minerals / metals (REM):


West Loses Resources War, China Controls Rare Earths and Middle East Has Crude Oil

While most are anxiously anticipating a grand currency showdown at the G20 summit in Seoul this month, rare earths is bound to be one act of the G20 high Korean Drama amid the mounting worries among corporations and governments around the world about China’s recent export restrictions and embargo,


Nevertheless, the demand and supply projection is still worrisome. Molycorp estimates that total worldwide demand for rare earths is expected to double to 225,000 tons by 2015, not accounting for the burgeoning green energy industry, e.g., EVs, wind turbines, solar panels, etc.

For instance, one 2.5-megawatt permanent magnet generator (PMG) wind turbine requires half a ton of rare earths. China alone plans to spend two to three trillion yuan in the renewable energy sector in the next decade and deploy 300 gigawatts of wind turbines by 2020.

Apparently, supply chain planning must not have been part of the Green Energy Movement. While trying to wane ourselves off oil, we ended up with rare earth dependency instead, and still have to deal with the environmental consequence even worse than oil or oil sands mining, for that matter.

I guess we all should move to china then. I am waving the white flag.

Methanol - $1.20 a gallon - without subsidies

A gallon of methanol costs $1.20 a gallon. It has 8,600 btu/s pound vs gasoline 18,700 so you would need more than 2 gallons of methanol to equal a gallon of gasoline. It seems already price competitive. At least so says the president of Methanex. Any opinions?


It's normally produced from nat gas so the price goes up and down along with nat gas. A massive increase in methanol production would need a massive increase in nat gas consumption. In January 2008 it was double the current cost at $2.50/gallon.

I thought there may be a catch. Good point.

It gets worse. Trinidad supports a large number of natural gas conversion industries (including Methanex):

Seepersad-Bachan said while Government "is committed to the expansion of the downstream sector, we need, however, to accept that there is no more cheap gas available".


Methanol is much more corrosive than ethanol and is much more poisonous than either gasoline or ethanol.
Methanol is best reserved for work in converting vegetable or animal oils/fats into biodiesel fuel.

Saudi oil analyst disputes high supply theory

This article contains mind-boggling quotes from a former Saudi Aramco official:

Sadad Ibrahim Al-Husseini, former executive vice president for exploration and production at the government-owned Saudi Aramco, said conventional oil reserves worldwide are depleting at twice the rate of their replacement and this would lead to a supply shortage which could be offset by unconventional oil.

This is an admission that we're burning more conventional oil than we're finding. Of course there's no mention on how this jives with continually increasing OPEC reserves.

...historically slow annual capacity declines from major oil fields are being replaced by rapid declines from significantly smaller new developments.

He's saying that future production will decline because the new stuff being found cannot make up for the production decline from aging giants. Is he reading TOD?

Husseini said that because of these “caveats”, a more realistic forecast of global crude oil supplies based on proven reserves, field maturities, new technologies and sanctioned projects yields what he described as a production plateau that levels off at around 87 million bpd from 2013 through 2019 and declines thereafter to nearly 83 million bpd by 2030.

In other words, get ready for peak oil if unconventional oil doesn't save the day.

Sadad Al-Husseini is not a new name in peak oil circles. Peter Maass interviewed him back in 2005:

The Breaking Point

We spoke for several hours. The message he delivered was clear: the world is heading for an oil shortage. His warning is quite different from the calming speeches that Naimi and other Saudis, along with senior American officials, deliver on an almost daily basis. Husseini explained that the need to produce more oil is coming from two directions. Most obviously, demand is rising; in recent years, global demand has increased by two million barrels a day. (Current daily consumption, remember, is about 84 million barrels a day.) Less obviously, oil producers deplete their reserves every time they pump out a barrel of oil. This means that merely to maintain their reserve base, they have to replace the oil they extract from declining fields. It's the geological equivalent of running to stay in place. Husseini acknowledged that new fields are coming online, like offshore West Africa and the Caspian basin, but he said that their output isn't big enough to offset this growing need.

''You look at the globe and ask, 'Where are the big increments?' and there's hardly anything but Saudi Arabia,'' he said. ''The kingdom and Ghawar field are not the problem. That misses the whole point. The problem is that you go from 79 million barrels a day in 2002 to 82.5 in 2003 to 84.5 in 2004. You're leaping by two million to three million a year, and if you have to cover declines, that's another four to five million.'' In other words, if demand and depletion patterns continue, every year the world will need to open enough fields or wells to pump an additional six to eight million barrels a day -- at least two million new barrels a day to meet the rising demand and at least four million to compensate for the declining production of existing fields. ''That's like a whole new Saudi Arabia every couple of years,'' Husseini said. ''It can't be done indefinitely. It's not sustainable.''


Question: In Saudi Arabia, is 12.5 million barrels a day now sustainable and is there a plan to expand capacity beyond that?

Sadad:Saudi Arabia has a very credible and professional record in terms of declaring capacity and meeting its production targets. When the Kingdom announced a target of 12.5 million barrels of capacity, they actually committed funds to develop that capacity and we’ve seen them now commissioning those: 250,000 additional barrels in Shaybah; 1.2 million barrels in Khurais; 500,000 in Khursaniyah; 900,000 coming on stream in a couple of years in Manifa. So these are real projects and real capacities. I don’t think there is an issue that Saudi Arabia can deliver the oil it says it can deliver. The question is, what about the rest of the world? Is the rest of the world able to make up the difference? If we’re looking at 85 to 90 million barrels a day, and Saudi Arabia delivers 12.5 million, who’s going to deliver the rest and how much effort is going into that? And with decline rates of 7% to 8%, that’s four or five million barrels a year of net new capacity that has to come from new projects. So that’s where the challenge is. I don’t think the problem is Saudi Arabia. I think the problem is the rest of the world.

The math does not add up

85 to 90 million barrels a day, and Saudi Arabia delivers 12.5 million, who’s going to deliver the rest and how much effort is going into that? And with decline rates of 7% to 8%, that’s four or five million barrels a year of net new capacity

7% of 85 million is 6 million (5.95) b/day

8% of 90 million is 7.2 million b/day

I think he has a good grasp on depletion rates, and his "4 to 5 million" is not too far from past (but not future) megaprojects additions.


al-husseini doesnt expect ksa capacity to decline from the 12.5 million bpd, if you take that off then 7 to 8 % becomes 5 to 6 million.

maybe this old geologist didn't have his calculator with him or maybe quoting from memory. maybe he should have said" .............um ......let's see....um.......uh......a hellofalota oil"

and my broader point is that this old aramco geologist who suddenly has such credibility on tod is saying to look outside saudi arabia for capacity decline.

He's always said that. He got a mixed reaction on TOD after the Maass article. On the one hand, he was talking about not being able to supply enough to meet demand, unlike other Aramco types. OTOH, he thought Saudi Arabia would be able to raise capacity and maintain it, when many of us were expecting a "nosedive into the desert."

So I'm driving down the South 5 freeway near Burbank and, as I glance to my left, I see a Honda Insight slowly passing me. I look at the license plate and it is a "vanity" plate that reads: "PEAK OIL". Leaves me wondering if there are any plates that read "OIL DRUM".

I picked up a bumper-sticker at last year's Northeast Animal Power Field Days (I'm a draft horse guy), which reads:

Oil Is Over

I stuck it on my guitar case.

Green Machines: Markets hint at a 100-year energy gap.

Rational Markets are a joke. We are on the plateau, about to decline now. It would take at least 20 years for a major reset of our energy and transportation paradigms. Our ability to replace them is hindered by declining resources, both energy and metals. By the time we are there, our energy source could include much animal power (and horsepower will have real meaning again). Maybe all those hypothetical buggy whip factories will be back on line, and the rational investors will have to figure that out.

I am afraid that the future is much too vague and uncertain for investors.


about to decline now

I am just an avid reader, not a first-principles researcher (but then again, who on this list has access to a comprehensive and authoritative World-wide crude oil reserves and production capacity data set?).

It seems to me that the bounds of the oil production decline predictions offered by various TOD denizens ranges from 'about to decline now' (can we characterize that as 'tomorrow?) to 'production may stay on this noisy plateau until the early, maybe the mid 2020s, then decline at various rates', and various intermediate predictions.

If you forced me to guess (which is all I can really do), then, based on the accumulated reading I have done to-date, I would lean towards 'plateau until ~ 2020-ish' guesstimate.

Not cornucopian, but perhaps reality?

Not a good news story, as increasing population and increasing consumption by up-and-coming countries such as, but not restricted tom, China and India, combined with a flat production curve, will equate to less oil per-capita and surely greater World strife and conflict and damage to the environment.

However, if true, such a plateau would give humanity one last time period to devise and implement a post-oil paradigm.

The hidden data sets (who here on TOD really, no-kidding, knows what the deal is in KSA, Iraq, Russia, etc?) and suspected deliberate obfuscation in oil reserves and present/future production capacity negates our ability to know the actual situation and rationally plan for the future.

As does our seemingly genetic disposition to have a very short planning horizon.

Check out megaprojects


Due to lead times from 4 years (BP Deepwater Horizon would have been that short) to 15+ years (Kashagan to full potential), the numbers till 2016 may shrink (due to delays) but not grow. 2016 and beyond can see some growth (little in 2016, a bit more in 2017, ...)

As far as Ghawar, the fulcrum of Saudi capacity, read the best analysis (including comments) that I have ever seen anywhere. Here on TOD several years ago, a series by Stuart Staniford. It will take a full day of reading.

Basically, southern Ghawar will produce 900,000 b/day for many decades. North Ghawar is close to watering out. Water is getting close to various local crests and is watering out well after well. From memory, even the high spots had (several years ago) 60' thick pay zones (originally 1,000').


Thanks for the link and the insights...I will do some more reading after work today (taking lunch now)...

Note that your continuing plateau will be due to unconventional production, if it maintains at all. With EROI and EROEI decreasing continually, that plateau will also imply rising prices and decreasing net energy.

The notion of a continuing rise in production to meet continuing demand increases is unsupportable, IMHO.

Even the best-case scenario will require significant adjustments in the next two decades.


I agree with your first, second, third, and fourth sentences (all of them).

Perhaps I did a poor job with my communication though...I did not mean to say or imply that there would be a continuing rise in production to meet rising demand.

I said that there might be (just a guess) a 'noisy plateau' in production (call it level or flat) concurrent with an increasing population as well as an increasing per-ca pita demand from developing countries, which will lead to very interesting times.

Of course, if production drops in 2012 and on then we lose any hope of at least beginning a meaningful paradigm shift under somewhat reasonable circumstances.

H - I wouldn't argue against your 20ish guess. I would push it up sooner but mine is just another guess like yours. But in a sense neither prediction, in and of themselves, isnt as important as the distribution of those remaining bopd. Maybe in time we'll start replacing PO with PA...Peak Acquisition. PA is country specific. The US reached its PO decades ago. But are we looking at PA in the not too distant future? There are many countries that have already reached PA because they can't compete on a price basis with the healthier economies. There may be the day when max global production can't exceed say 80 mmbopd. But will that be PO for China if it has the capital to buy all the oil it's economy needs to continue growing? Perhaps the US can compete with China at that time and won't have reached its PA. But what about England? Mexico?

Just like the old joke: it's not important how fast the hungry bear can run. It's whether you can run faster than the other guy being chased.


Your point is crucial, and I would only hope that our PTB are considering this upcoming reality and will finally devise and implement the best possible ideas to deal with it.

'Best possible' not including invading all the major producing countries and bradishing swords against our major consumer competitors...that way lies disaster.