Drumbeat: November 17, 2010

Petrobras oil exports to hit 800,000 bpd by 2020

(Reuters) - Brazilian state oil company Petrobras expects crude oil exports to rise to 800,000 barrels per day by 2020 as new oil production from vast offshore fields comes online, a company director said on Wednesday.

Petrobras is currently both an importer and exporter of crude oil, but imports are slated to halt by 2014 as oil output from the offshore region known as the subsalt displaces light crude purchases from Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Petrobras Supply Director Paulo Roberto Costa said.

Steve LeVine: Peak or no peak?

Do you ever get the feeling that some people want the world to run out of oil, really really soon? That runs through my mind sometimes with the flood of peak-oil material at conferences, in books and in the media. Among the latest are a couple of new reports with yet more alarming findings. The headline: We're in trouble.

Crude Oil Tumbles to Four-Week Low on Signals China Will Increase Rates

Crude oil declined to a four-week low on speculation that China will raise interest rates, slowing economic growth in the world’s biggest energy-consuming country.

Oil fell 2.3 percent after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said the government was drafting measures to counter inflation. Prices also dropped on concern Europe’s debt crisis is worsening as ministers considered a rescue package for Irish banks. U.S. crude supplies slid 7.29 million barrels to 357.6 million last week, an Energy Department report showed today.

Russia To Switch To International Oil, Gas Reserves Standards By 2012

MOSCOW -(Dow Jones)- Russia plans to harmonize its oil and gas reserves classification with international standards by 2012, the Resources Ministry said Wednesday.

"From 2012, Russia should introduce a new classification of hydrocarbon reserves in harmony with international SPE [Society of Petroleum Engineers] PRMS standards," said Grigori Vygon, head of the ministry's economy and finance department.

Russia checks claims of $4bn oil pipeline scam

Russia is checking documents that suggest at least $4bn (£2.5bn) of state funds was stolen during the construction of a big oil pipeline.

Moscow blogger Alexei Navalny claims he has obtained documents that reveal the theft was uncovered in a 2007 audit of the East Siberia-Pacific pipeline.

Exxon Mobil agrees to $25 million settlement over cleanup of underground NYC oil spill

NEW YORK (AP) — Exxon Mobil Corp. has agreed to pay $25 million to resolve complaints over its handling of a huge underground oil spill in New York City.

The deal with Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and the environmental group Riverkeeper will resolve several years of litigation over spills from refineries that once lined the Brooklyn waterfront.

BP spill fund rules would shift rights to company

(Reuters) - Claimants to BP Plc's $20 billion oil spill fund may soon be required to transfer to the company their right to sue other defendants, a move that could help BP's efforts to collect billions of dollars from its business partners.

Gulf oil spill report blames industry and regulators

A sorry catalogue of technical, safety and regulatory failures all contributed to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to an interim independent report commissioned by the US Department of the Interior and published today.

Report: Green building market booms in weak economy

Despite a deep economic recession, the U.S. green building market has expanded dramatically since 2008 and is projected to double its size by 2015, says a new report by McGraw-Hill Construction.

Analysis: In coal lockdown, China creates diesel snafu

Almost every winter, China's energy market suffers a new variant of the same no-win situation as state controls exacerbate supply shortages that only urgent and pricey imports can relieve. This year it is diesel that is scarce.

A spike in demand for diesel-fired power generation has caused a supply shortage that could last well into 2011, forcing Chinese refineries to import the fuel for the first time in nearly two years and to consider tapping state fuel reserves.

Despite cold weather and rising fuel costs, a state campaign to stamp out energy wastage has prompted officials in many provinces to cut power supplies to factories, businesses and even homes and public facilities.

Many big power users have simply switched to stand-alone diesel generators, which fly below the radar of the official campaign focused mainly on coal-fired electricity.

Oil Output Likely Peaked in 2006, Will Be Replaced by Biofuels, IEA Says

Global production of crude probably peaked in 2006, and increasing demand will have to be met from more-difficult-to-extract forms of oil such as tar sands, International Energy Agency Chief Economist Fatih Birol said.

“The age of cheap oil is over,” Birol said at a conference in Madrid today.

Russia approves $32 bln state asset privatisation plan

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's government approved a plan on Wednesday to sell around 1 trillion roubles ($31.9 billion) in state assets over the next three years to plug a gap in the budget deficit and lure foreign investors.

Russian leaders need cash to ratchet up growth ahead of the 2012 presidential election, in which former president Vladimir Putin has hinted he may stand.

Economy Minister Elvira Nabiullina said following a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Putin that the plan -- which includes stakes in the country's two biggest banks, main oil producer and railways monopoly -- had been approved.

BOP Forensic Exam Begins

A team of engineers and forensic analysts Tuesday launched a high-profile autopsy of the blowout preventer from the Deepwater Horizon as part of a bid to find out why the 50-foot, 300-ton device failed to cut off flowing oil and natural gas at BP's Macondo well.

How far can you go in a Leaf?

REDMOND, Wash. — "Your mileage may vary" ... That old phrase is even more relevant for the newfangled Nissan Leaf electric vehicle, which has an advertised range of 100 miles on a charge. In fact, the mileage depends quite a bit on your driving style, and the numbers can go up and down in the course of a drive.

Yes, it's possible to get 100 miles or more from the Leaf. But if you're the kind of guy who keeps the car on the road even if the needle is near the "E" mark, you might have to change your ways.

Berlin Wants Wind Power Technology

Berlin operators are calling for Germany's first offshore wind farm Tuesday urging the German government to increase incentives to expand the generation of renewable power at sea.

Utilities Eon, EWE and Vattenfall in a statement called on Berlin to improve the financial and regulatory framework so that more offshore wind farms can be launched in Germany.

Still a long road ahead for U.S. energy efforts

Some of the bickering about the energy crisis, the smart-alec gimmicks, and the "if" arguments make one wonder ... about the sturdy nature and future of our democracy.

We advance matters which are interesting but academic - such as "if" we all had small cars, the problem would be solved. We don't all have small cars, and that kind of a conversion would take years. In fact, the years ... are such that by the time they passed the adjustment wouldn't solve anything. By then we will ABSOLUTELY NEED new sources of energy anyway ...

Saving our nation's energy by learning to use less

Let’s say you don’t like oil from countries that don’t like us, or from the oil sands of Canada. Let’s say that you don’t want any offshore oil drilling. Maybe you don’t like coal fired power plants. You may not want any energy from nuclear power because you believe it is dangerous or you worry about toxic waste. You don’t want any concentrated solar facilities on pristine California desert, or noisy windmills to disturb the peaceful island life of Vinalhaven, Maine. Maybe you want to zone your community to prevent unattractive solar panels from appearing on your neighbor’s roof. You may not like to use corn to drive to the store when the world’s per capita grain supply is dwindling. If you are uncomfortable with the trade offs of any or all of these energy sources, what can you do?

Use less.

Table topic is future of food

Two of the three North Shore mayors attended the conference along with mayors from Bowen Island and Lions Bay who discussed various plans for developing community gardens, farms or other agri-urban initiatives. But one of the most insightful comments came from Mayor Richard Walton when asked by members of the audience: What effect will peak oil and climate change have on food security? Walton said, "The next oil crisis like the one in the 1970s will show us just how important local food production is." Before I could pause to think, I heard someone near me say, "How will we get food onto the North Shore if there's no gas?" That was a startling comment delivered ad hoc from the crowd, but it gave everyone reason to pause and made the rest of day's discussions much more important.

As vote nears, 'locavores' fight over

WASHINGTON — A far-reaching food safety bill that could give the government more power to prevent foodborne illnesses has become a target of advocates for buying food produced locally.

They worry the legislation's safety requirements could force small farms out of business.

There Will Be Fuel: Energy, and Plenty of It, for Decades to Come

THREE summers ago, the world’s supertankers were racing across the oceans as fast as they could to deliver oil to markets growing increasingly thirsty for energy. Americans were grumbling about paying as much as $4 a gallon for gasoline, as the price of crude oil leapt to $147 a barrel. Natural gas prices were vaulting too, sending home electricity bills soaring.

A book making the rounds at the time, “Twilight in the Desert,” by Matthew R. Simmons, seemed to sum up the conventional wisdom: the age of cheap, plentiful oil and gas was over. “Sooner or later, the worldwide use of oil must peak,” the book concluded, “because oil, like the other two fossil fuels, coal and natural gas, is nonrenewable.”

But no sooner did the demand-and-supply equation shift out of kilter than it swung back into something more palatable and familiar. Just as it seemed that the world was running on fumes, giant oil fields were discovered off the coasts of Brazil and Africa, and Canadian oil sands projects expanded so fast, they now provide North America with more oil than Saudi Arabia. In addition, the United States has increased domestic oil production for the first time in a generation.

Oil Declines a Fourth Day on China Rate Speculation, Europe Debt Concerns

Futures retreated as much as 1.4 percent after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said the government was drafting measures to counter inflation in the world’s biggest energy consumer. Prices also fell on concern Europe’s debt crisis is worsening as ministers considered a rescue package for Irish banks. U.S. crude inventories dropped the most since September 2008 and gasoline demand increased, reports showed yesterday.

“Risk is being taken off the table across the entire commodities complex as the dollar gets stronger,” said Carsten Fritsch, an analyst with Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “In such an environment fundamentals such as the sharp drop in crude stockpiles don’t matter.”

Coal's Two-Year High May Force European Utility Gas Switch

Coal in Europe is trading close to a two-year high as rising demand in China drives up prices around the world, making natural gas more attractive to U.K. and German utilities for producing power.

Inflation at lowest level since 1957

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Consumer prices for everything other than food and energy experienced their smallest annual increase on record in October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Wednesday.

China to subsidize food after price spike

BEIJING – China's government announced food subsidies for poor families Wednesday as it tries to cool a double-digit surge in prices that communist leaders worry might stir unrest.

The Cabinet promised to ease shortages of vegetables and grain that helped push up food prices by more than 10 percent in October. It promised more supplies of diesel to end fuel shortages that have disrupted trucking and industry.

BP North Sea gas field shut down over Iran

A major North Sea gas field has been shut down because production could break European Union sanctions against Iran.

Cameroon: Attack on Perenco oil vessel kills 5

LAGOS, Nigeria—Five people were killed in an attack in Cameroon on a boat carrying guards for an offshore oil field operated by French firm Perenco SA, the company said Wednesday.

The attack late Tuesday night came as the vessel operated at an oil field abutting Nigerian territorial waters, possibly signaling that militants waging attacks in recent days from that country's oil-rich Niger Delta may have targeted the crew. However, no militant group immediately claimed responsibility for the assault.

BP deep-cleaning Gulf beaches amid new worries

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (AP) -- What's typically a beautiful, quiet stretch of beach in the fall now resembles a construction site. Bulldozers and yellow dump trucks shake the ground; a giant sifting machine spits clean sand out one end, tar balls out another.

With its Macondo well dead and few visitors on the coast during the offseason, BP has launched its biggest push yet to deep-clean the tourist beaches that were coated with crude during the worst of the Gulf oil spill. Machines are digging down into the sand to remove buried tar mats left from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Pittsburgh council bans natural gas drilling

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – The Pittsburgh City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to ban natural gas drilling in the city amid concern about threats to water quality.

By a vote of 9-0, the council adopted an ordinance that would prevent any energy company from drilling a gas well within city limits.

Some Exceptions to the Rule, but Pipelines Are Safer

UNDERGROUND oil and gas pipelines are an often-forgotten part of the nation’s energy infrastructure — until problems occur. This year has seen a spate of attention-getting accidents. In San Bruno, Calif., a gas pipeline exploded in a residential area in September, killing eight people. In Texas, two gas pipeline accidents within a day of each other in June killed three people. In Michigan, an oil pipeline ruptured this summer, spilling hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into a river.

Oil and gas industry experts say that despite these problems, pipelines keep getting safer as technology improves.

Experts: BP ignored warning signs on doomed well

WASHINGTON – BP and its contractors missed and ignored warning signs prior to the massive oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, showing an "insufficient consideration of risk" and raising questions about the know-how of key personnel, a group of technical experts concluded.

In a 28-page report released late Tuesday, an independent panel convened by the National Academy of Engineering said the companies failed to learn from "near misses" and neither BP, its contractors nor federal regulators caught or corrected flawed decisions that contributed to the blowout.

Massachusetts Companies Get Lion's Share of Oil Spill Contracts

Massachusetts-based companies received twice as much money in federal contracts stemming from the BP Plc oil spill as the combined total of the five Gulf of Mexico states where the oil washed up, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Rankings.

Spill Commission Defends Its Top Lawyer

The panel named by President Obama to investigate the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout on Tuesday rejected a call by a consumer activist group for the resignation of its chief counsel, Fred H. Bartlit Jr. The group, Consumer Watchdog, said that the panel should dismiss Mr. Bartlit because his law firm, Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott, once represented Halliburton, one of the companies involved in drilling the BP well.

China's Cnooc Group Plans to Expand Overseas Oil, Gas Exploration in 2011

China National Offshore Oil Corp., the nation’s largest offshore producer, plans to expand overseas oil and gas exploration next year, the company said in a statement on its website.

In the Heartland, Still Investing in Coal

ON the coasts, states are limiting carbon dioxide output, banning new coal-fired power plants and building wind turbines to fend off global warming. But here in the heartland, thousands of workers are building a $4 billion new coal plant with a 700-foot chimney, 70 feet higher than the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

State projects will drive funding for high-speed rail

The Obama administration plans to reallocate money designated for high-speed rail if the states granted the funds reject them.

Diesel, Cleaner, Is Set to Make a Comeback

Tougher pollution-reduction requirements, advances in diesel engineering and heightened interest in overall fuel economy among American car buyers are helping to burnish the otherwise dirty, smelly and highly polluting reputation of diesel cars.

Ontario loses out to U.S. on Toyota electric RAV4

The new, electric version of the Toyota RAV4 will be put together in California, the auto maker is expected to announce Wednesday, dealing Ontario another setback in its attempt to grab a slice of the growing investment in electric vehicles.

Nissan Will Sell 500,000 Electric Cars a Year by 2013, Says Chief

On the eve of the market debut of the Nissan Leaf electric car, Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of the Renault-Nissan alliance, said the only constraint on sales for the next three years will be how many battery packs the factories could churn out.

China's Use of Biomass Fuel Makes It World's Biggest Energy User, IEA Says

China’s biomass use, which the government excludes from its consumption estimates, placed the country ahead of the U.S. as the world’s largest energy consumer in 2009, the International Energy Agency said.

Inclusion of “traditional biomass use” in rural areas, such as the burning of grain stems or wood for cooking, increases China’s energy consumption by four to five percent, Nobuo Tanaka, executive director of the Paris-based adviser said at a press conference in Beijing today. Biomass is material made from organic matter.

Spain's Solar Power Sector Falls into the Abyss

Madrid, Spain – The Spanish government has launched a new regulatory framework that will result in subsidized tariffs for ground-mounted solar energy projects drop 45% this year, killing future investment in the trade, which industry leaders expect will be frozen in the next few years.

Sunset for a Solar Subsidy?

When the economy hit the skids in 2008, one of the casualties was the federal government’s main mechanism for subsidizing renewable energy, tax credits.

So to tide the industry over the recession, Congress stipulated in the Recovery Act that for the next two years, it would give the help in the form of grants instead of tax credits.

The two years are about over but the economic woes are not, so the solar industry is asking for a two-year extension.

The Benefits of Solar With the Beauty of Trees

Now a San Francisco company, CleanPath Ventures, is promoting a solution to allow homeowners to keep their trees and go solar at the same time. CleanPath plans to expand its existing solar farm on the city’s outskirts and then sell “garden plots” to homeowners who would own the electricity generated by their patch of photovoltaic panels. Apartment dwellers and other residents whose homes are not suitable for rooftop solar arrays would also be able to own a piece of the power plant.

Concerns as Solar Installations Join a Desert Ecosystem

NIPTON, Calif. - ON the construction site of the $2 billion Ivanpah solar power plant here, burly laborers slowly walk around their trucks, dropping to their knees to peer underneath before turning the ignition. Hanging on each rearview mirror is a placard warning workers to “Look under your car for desert tortoise before you drive away!”

Road graders and backhoes crawl along at 10 miles per hour, led by biologists wearing green hard hats who scan for tortoises in a landscape studded with creosote bushes. “Nobody is allowed on the site without a biologist to escort them,” said Mercy Vaughn, the lead biologist for BrightSource Energy, the Oakland, Calif., company that is building the 370-megawatt power plant, the first large-scale solar thermal project to break ground in the United States in two decades.

Nuclear fuel bank seen winning backing at U.N. body

(Reuters) - Member states of the U.N. nuclear watchdog are expected to approve next month a U.S.-backed fuel supply plan seen as a way to help prevent the spread of atom bombs, despite misgivings among some developing countries.

Western diplomats said the stalled proposal to set up a $150 million nuclear fuel bank run by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which countries could turn to if their regular supplies were cut, was still being discussed.

G.O.P. Gains on Capitol Hill May Not Advance Nuclear Power

THE outspoken supporters of nuclear power are mostly Republicans, and the Republicans are about to take control of the House of Representatives and gain six seats in the Senate. Is this good news for nuclear power?

Maybe. But the outlook for a new wave of reactors is still mixed at best.

When Uranium Outshines Gold

EARLIER this month, Global X Funds of New York announced plans for two exchange-traded funds — one for gold stocks, the other, uranium. Initially, Bruno del Ama, its chief executive, figured he knew which would capture the market’s attention. After all, gold prices have surged in recent months.

As it transpired, he guessed wrong. Global X’s Uranium E.T.F. — with holdings in companies like the Cameco Corporation, Paladin Energy and Uranium One — was a hit as soon as it went on sale Nov. 9, with early trading volume outpacing Global X’s gold E.T.F. by five to one. “I’m in shock, to be honest,” he said.

Solar Storm Risks Bring Disaster Plans

In a worst case, a major geomagnetic storm “could be perhaps the largest natural disaster this country could face,” said John G. Kappenman, a consultant to the power industry. It could cause regionwide or larger blackouts, potentially for months, and affect grids on other continents as well.

Supergrids, Caspian Gas Pipeline Listed as Energy Priorities for EU Bloc

The European Union outlined today its energy infrastructure priorities for the next two decades, paving the way for aid for supergrids to integrate renewable energy and routes to deliver natural gas from the Caspian Sea.

China Protests U.S. Green-Energy Probe

BEIJING—A Chinese trade organization Wednesday said a U.S. government investigation into subsidies China provides for its renewable energy companies was baseless and would hurt China-U.S. cooperation.

Jeff Rubin - G20: Look for even more friction in the future

The huge fiscal divisions that were already in evidence at the G20 summit in Toronto have morphed into even bigger and more rancorous divisions on exchange rates at the recent Seoul summit. With America at China’s throat about a record trade surplus and China at America’s throat over the Federal Reserve Board’s blatantly devaluationist policy of quantitative easing, little wonder nothing was accomplished.

More importantly, it likely marks the end of the great China-U.S. economic accord which defined the apex of globalization. That once virtuous and self-reinforcing circle of trade and capital flows, whereby Chinese savings invested in the Treasuries market effectively funded U.S. consumer demand for Chinese exports, is clearly in both countries' gun sights these days.

Peak oil intrigue, at your bookstores now (Prelude)

The peak oil debate has spurred a tremendous amount of debate. Now it's spurred a book.

Going green aids bottom line

I was delighted recently to have a conversation with Maurice Poulin around the renovations he has undertaken in his family’s downtown building holdings. Poulin is a businessman — he’s not an environmentalist, he’s a pragmatist. While he concedes climate change and peak oil are happening, he does not believe we are in a crisis. But he does believe in reducing his long term risk. He has done that, and at the same time improved his bottom line, helped in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and made life better for his tenants.

'Simplify' a call heeded by the Amish

I've been reading Richard Heinberg's book about peak oil. "The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies," helped me see that the Amish are definitely on to something. The peak oil thesis holds that because our civilization is rooted in finite energy sources, increasing competition for energy cannot help but trigger dangerous political and economic crises. The Amish can look at this and shrug while the rest of us must be deeply concerned.

The logic of peak oil is compelling even if the date when that peak will be reached is a matter of dispute because both supply and demand considerations will affect the reality of peak oil. The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts in its World Energy Outlook 2010 that oil demand will continue to grow until 2035 when it will reach about 99 million barrels per day.

Ag expo examines making green go

California agriculture is in serious trouble, while the state's population is ballooning, the head of a group that advocates sustainable agriculture told a conference in Seaside on Monday.

"How are you going to feed these people? We need to do something about this," said Dave Henson, founder of the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center in Sonoma County, during the Sustainable Ag Expo held at the Embassy Suites Hotel Monterey Bay.

All of us have a deep connection with our Earth

When looking at the challenges of peak oil and climate change it is important to consider a systems approach. A systems approach means that we look at all parts of the Earth, our society, our families and our lives as being interconnected and affecting one another.

Systems thinking allows us to see that all our actions are connected and affect the whole.

EPA tells states to consider rising ocean acidity

(AP) -- States with coastal water that is becoming more acidic because of carbon dioxide should list them as impaired under the Clean Water Act, the U.S. Environmental Agency said.

The federal agency's memo Monday to states recognizes carbon dioxide as not only an air pollutant but a water pollutant, and notes the serious impacts that ocean acidification can have on aquatic life.

Report: Warming threatens water supply

A new report concerning a warming climate's impact on Lake Tahoe comes with some worrying predictions, including that the Reno area could be cut off from its primary water supply for up to 20 years at a time.

Barclays, NRG Energy Reach First Cap-and-Trade Deal Under California Law

NRG Energy Inc., the largest U.S. independent power producer, and Barclays Plc have completed the first deal for carbon-dioxide permits under California’s planned cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases.

India faces major climate changes

A report says global warming could make India two degrees Celsius warmer on average within 20 years, though some coastal regions could see much higher temperatures.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh says the new report shows India is among the most vulnerable countries to climate change.

Bjorn Lomborg: Cost-effective ways to address climate change

There is no better example of how human ingenuity can literally keep our heads above water than the Netherlands. Although a fifth of their country lies below sea level - and fully half is less than three feet above it - the Dutch maintain an enormously productive economy and enjoy one of the world's highest standards of living. The secret is a centuries-old system of dikes, supplemented in recent decades by an elaborate network of floodgates and other barriers. All this adaptation is not only effective but also amazingly inexpensive. Keeping Holland protected from any future sea-level rises for the next century will cost only about one-tenth of 1 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

Biochar stoves could fight climate change

(CNN) -- Good news for everyone who loves a barbecue: soon you could be helping save the world as you flip your burgers.

A new generation of small, barbecue-style stoves could soon be making it possible to sequester carbon while you cook -- with the added advantage of producing fertilizer for your garden in the process.

International investors issue global warming warning

A group of international investors responsible for more than $15 trillion in assets called Tuesday for the world's nations, particularly the United States, to move decisively to combat climate change or face economic disruptions worse than the global recession of the last two years.

Dire messages about global warming can backfire, new study shows

BERKELEY — Dire or emotionally charged warnings about the consequences of global warming can backfire if presented too negatively, making people less amenable to reducing their carbon footprint, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley.

"Our study indicates that the potentially devastating consequences of global warming threaten people's fundamental tendency to see the world as safe, stable and fair. As a result, people may respond by discounting evidence for global warming," said Robb Willer, UC Berkeley social psychologist and coauthor of a study to be published in the January issue of the journal Psychological Science.

Colder Winters Possible Due to Climate Change: Study

BERLIN (Reuters) - Climate change could lead to colder winters in northern regions, according to a study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research on Tuesday.

Vladimir Petoukhov, lead author of the study, said a shrinking of sea ice in the eastern Arctic causes some regional warming of lower air levels and may lead to anomalies in atmospheric airstreams, triggering an overall cooling of the northern continents.

Our Warming World: Picking up the 'Glacial Pace'

The idea that the world's glaciers and ice caps move ever-so-slowly is so securely ingrained in our thinking that we have given it metaphorical status. To say that something moves at "a glacial pace" is a way of saying that it hardly moves at all.

This is the way many people feel about our global climate as a whole -- something that is moving along at an almost imperceptible rate of change, possibly posing some nominal threat to somebody else in some distant future.

...For climate scientists, however, among people actually doing work in the field, a lot of the argument and the thinking about the pace of change is going in the opposite direction -- global climate is changing faster, bigger, and sooner rather than later.

"giant oil fields were discovered off the coasts of Brazil and Africa, and Canadian oil sands projects expanded so fast, they now provide North America with more oil than Saudi Arabia."

Wut? Tupi is online ? since when ? giant field off the coast of Africa ? I must have been sleeping , or not reading TOD properley

hang-on this is yesterdays news , and "Canadian oil sands provide North America with more oil than Saudi Arabia"

I guess Saudi Arabia really has dropped production lower than Canada then .............


Someone hand me some Kool-Aid......

Saudi export to the US has decreased a lot.

Worry Not, this all shall pass away... and sooner than anyone realizes.

Re: There Will Be Fuel: Energy, and Plenty of It, for Decades to Come

No matter what finally plays out, energy experts expect there will be plenty, perhaps even an abundance, of oil and gas. IHS CERA, which monitors oil and gas fields around the world, projects that productive capacity for liquid fuels could rise to 112 million barrels a day in 2030 (including 2.75 million barrels in biofuels), from 92.6 million barrels a day this year.

“The estimates for how much oil there is in the world continue to increase,” said William M. Colton, Exxon Mobil’s vice president for corporate strategic planning. “There’s enough oil to supply the world’s needs as far as anyone can see.”

Yeah! The estimates for how much oil there is in the world continue to increase despite the fact that there is very little indication of flow rates and production actually increasing as well. 92.6 million barrels a day this year?! What exactly is included in those numbers?

Sure, Mr Colton, it's quite reassuring to hear that, “There’s enough oil to supply the world’s needs as far as anyone can see.” I have to say that it sure seems like a clear case of the willfully blind, leading the truly blind.

The New York Times' journalism continues its downward spiral with regards the quality of its articles. Another big '@#$%&*! FAIL'!

Damn right FM. The NY Times... 60 Minutes... all of the former "pillars" of investigative journalism are going (have gone) Goebbels on us.

"IHS CERA" is now the undisputed leader for the Ministry of Energy Disinformation now that the IEA is getting slightly more sober.

The NY Times... 60 Minutes... all of the former "pillars" of investigative journalism are going (have gone) Goebbels on us.

that may be the scariest yet true statement yet

TOD readers are so old-fashioned; they think you need to actually go out and drill for oil and find it before increasing reserves. But countries like Iran, Iraq, lots of other Middle Eastern countries and some elsewhere in the world have realized there is no need to be old fogeys like this.

heh - OPEC finds oil the same place the BLS finds jobs!

Has journalism failed? Are they bought and paid for? Or are they just being force fed pre-written scripts from oil insiders who want a certain message out there?

Very concerning trend.

I think the call that this one was simply the 'Equal and Opposite Reaction' to the EIA report makes sense to my ear..

I have the very slight inclination to believe that with the US elections behind us, and the recent upswing of PO news from the Bundeswehr and US Military, EIA, the $80's prices in the midst of continued lowish demand and so forth, that the idea of it might have grabbed a bit more territory now.

That article feels more desperate than usual to me.

Regardless, oil is being burned, and I hope you all are getting ready..

Forbin is referring to the link up top: There Will Be Fuel. I find the most interesting paragraph the next to the last one:

Mr. Morse said the demand side of the equation also helped. He noted that American demand for gasoline appeared to have peaked in 2007 and could decline by 15 to 20 percent by 2020 because of increasingly efficient cars and a federal mandate requiring that renewable fuels, like ethanol, blended into transportation fuels must increase to 36 billion gallons in 2022, from nine billion gallons in 2008.

Demand peaked in 2007 and then declined, not because of increased efficiency of cars, but because of the worst recession since the Great Depression. And if it declines by 15 to 20 percent more it will be because the depression gets better. It takes a long time for increased efficiency to work its way into gasoline consumption.

The US population is increasing by almost 3 million per year. Increased efficiency would have to overcome that little fact first. Then there is the GDP growth rate... if we have any. That is if we ever come out of this recession as almost everyone predicts, then GDP will have to start to grow at about 3 percent per year or so. That means oil consumption would have to grow also. Not necessarily by the same amount GDP grows, but at least half that amount. There is just no way that we can have business as usual if demand declines by 15 to 20 percent.

Then there was his very last paragraph:

“When you add it up,” Mr. Morse noted, “you get something that very closely approximates energy independence.”

Hot Dog! We will be completely energy independent. Then we can tell OPEC to stick their oil where the sun don't shine... Well... I guess. :-)

Ron P.

It takes a long time for increased efficiency to work its way into gasoline consumption.

I was posting about this the other day, and think I'll save this as a boilerplate response for the future: from 1978 to 1982 CAFE for passenger cars went from 18 to 24 MPG, and US gasoline demand dropped by 873 kb/d, only increasing slightly over the subsequent years. Whether the upcoming CAFE regs will have a commensurate effect on gasoline demand remains to be seen; as earlier gains are greater on a per number basis, moving from 23.1 to 35.5 MPG (cars + LDVs) won't save quite as much fuel; plus there are more registered drivers and a larger fleet, which is driving more per capita, IIRC. All of this will temper any savings in fuel.

Somewhat offsetting the greater fleet size is the fact that new vehicles contribute more to VMT. All of this amounts to a fairly complex system, which I wish someone with more chops would delve into. Staniford wrote some great pieces in the past for TOD about the US fleet and I wish he'd return to this topic, here or at his blog. I could cobble something together on it, given the time, but I'd really feel like I wasn't giving the topic its due - and it is a crucial one for determining how peak oil will play out, I believe.

Thanks, Ron, for saying what needed to be said.


p.s. Wow! I read this whole thread plus the links, and I responded with not one (*&^%$ swear word...heh...oops...

Canadian oil sands provide North America with more oil than Saudi Arabia

Cleverly deceptive rhetoric. Total production versus imports from a source too far to account for much of a percentage of our imports. But the reader thinks, Wow SA is the worlds biggest producer! these guys are now ahead of them! This is how to lie while still being able to make a technical defense of your statement.

I believe that the four largest sources of imported oil into the US are Canada, Mexico, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.

Venezuela's net exports started declining in 1998.

Mexico's net exports started declining in 2005.

Saudi Arabia's net exports started declining in 2006.

Only Canada has shown an increase, and their increase in net exports has not even been sufficient to offset the recent declines in any of the other three countries.

The four countries' combined net exports in 2005 were 14.1 mbpd, and in 2009 they were down to 11.0 mbpd--as Canadian net exports increased from 0.79 mbpd in 2005 to 1.02 mbpd in 2009 (BP). Granted, there was some level of voluntary reduction in production in Saudi Arabia in 2009, but I suspect that most of what they shut-in was what Matt Simmons characterized as "Oil stained brine," and the key point is that Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Venezuela are all showing multiyear net export declines, relative to recent peaks.

Note that the increase in US production (C+C+NGL) from 2005 to 2009 was about 0.3 mbpd (and of course 2005 was suppressed because of the hurricanes), and the increase in Canadian net oil exports from 2005 to 2009 was about 0.2 mbpd. So increased US production + increased Canadian net oil exports from 2005 to 2009 was a combined 0.5 mbpd. Over this same time frame, 2005 to 2009, combined net oil exports from Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Venezuela dropped by about 3.3 mbpd.

The good thing about this article in the NYTimes is that it provides the public with a version of the briefing notes that oil industry lobbyists provide to Congress and other government entities.

August 2010 Import Highlights: Released October 28, 2010
Monthly data on the origins of crude oil imports in August 2010 has been released and it shows that five countries exported more than 900 thousand barrels per day to the United States (see table below). ... Canada remained the largest exporter of total petroleum in August, exporting 2,483 thousand barrels per day to the United States, which is a decrease from last month (2,534 thousand barrels per day). The second largest exporter of total petroleum was Mexico with 1,282 thousand barrels per day.
Crude Oil Imports (Top 15 Countries)
(Thousand Barrels per Day)
Country Aug-10: Jul-10: YTD 2010: Aug-09: YTD 2009
CANADA 1,933: 2,055: 1,981: 2,002: 1,924
MEXICO 1,158: 1,174: 1,119: 1,057: 1,119
SAUDI ARABIA 1,080: 1,033: 1,071: 707: 1,010
and etc ...

EIA released 28 October 2010

Canadian production is highly predictable. Conventional production is declining and oil sands production is increasing. Fortunately, the rate of increase in oil sands production has exceed the decline in conventional production. However, the people who are counting on a huge increase in Canadian production are fooling themselves - oil sands is not at all like conventional oil. You can't just drill a bunch of wells and get a sudden increase in production.

Saudi Arabia's net exports started declining in 2006

eyeballing the eia data and disregarding the noise: "8 million bpd" gives a general description of saudi's exports since 1991. meanwhile, saudi arabia's gas production has been steadily increasing since 1981.

similarly, eyeballing wti price and disregarding the noise: "$75/barrel" gives a general description of wti since 2006.

Saudi Arabia's net exports started declining in 2006.

That's the disconcerting part of the oil price spike in 2008. SA has a target price range for oil, and adjusts its production to keep world prices in that range. It does so to keep oil prices below the range which would cut demand too much, and also to keep non-conventional oil projects uneconomic. It is all about having a monopoly and trying to maintain that monopoly by keeping consumers hooked on oil while driving competitors out of the market.

It was very much contrary to SAs objectives to cut production when prices were rising. The fact that production fell when they wanted it to rise suggests that they could no longer maintain production levels despite their best efforts. Their biggest oil field is probably going south as the financial analysts say, or watering out as the geologists say. They will deny it to their last breath because if investors could put a finish date on SA oil production, they would have hundreds of billions of dollars worth of oil sands and oil shale projects built and ready to start producing oil the day after that.

This game of monopoly that SA is playing is getting harder and harder for them to play. Ultimately they will lose because they don't have the reserves to keep playing forever, but unfortunately the people who expect to have an endless supply of oil will also be big losers in the game.

paraphrasing what al-husseini has said: "look outside saudi arabia for declining production capacity".

Too bad the cost of Canadian oil sand oil is not the same as Saudi oil....
And oh by the way, Canada cannot deliver 10 million barrels per day!

And Canada has to import oil for its own use (on its East Coast), if it is to export to us (from the West part of Canada). I expect at least some of those imports come from Saudi Arabia.

It won't be nice if the Canadians can't get oil imports and are still expecting to export oil to Canada.

Is this a political thing that the US imports from Canada and Canada then imports from SA or is there a fundamental economic explanation for this seemingly futile circle.

Actually, the Canadian Atlantic coast refineries specialize in importing oil from countries that the US is not particularly friendly with, and then exporting most of the refined products to the US.

An example is the Irving Oil refinery in New Brunswick. It is the largest oil refinery in Canada, and New Brunswick has only 730,000 people, so obviously it is not focussed on the local market. From Irving Oil's web site :

Our refinery's cargo sales are shipped predominantly to the Northeastern US. We also market our ultra-low sulphur fuels (CARBOB) to California, whose emissions standards are the strictest in the United States

And what have they got going for them that an oil refinery in a small Canadian province is exporting large amounts of ultra-low sulphur fuels to California?

First oil company ever to receive the US EPA Clean Air Excellence Award.
First and only Canadian refinery on the east coast of North America to receive crude oil from the biggest of supertankers at 410,000 dwt, holding 2.6 million barrels of crude.
First refinery to own and operate the largest product tankers in Canada

The US hasn't built a new oil refinery in 30 years, and California, although it has very strict air quality standards, is a particularly hard place to build refineries. So it imports its fuel from New Brunswick, which refines it from Arab oil.

Doesnt the Northern california chevron refinery specialize in California-grade (low sulfur) product? i know a petroleum refining engineer (now retired). he said they were pretty advanced.

I guess it is always a matter of volumes and California is using more than it can produce.

Chevron has suspended upgrades to its Richmond California refinery because of environmental lawsuits and has talked about closing it. It's become impossible to build a new oil refinery in the US, and in California it's become almost impossible to upgrade one.

So, people build refineries in other countries and export the products to the US.

Less oil > Fewer refineries needed.

The more refineries that are closed in New Jersey and California, the fewer in Louisiana.


Is the market price determined by some kind of average or is it, as I often hear, based on the price of the marginal barrel? If the latter than the prices we see should be determined by expensive oil such as the Canadian tar sands and have no relationship to the production costs of Saudi oil.

The difference between those two should primarily affect the number of Porsches bought by Saudi princes.

edit: grammar (I hate other people's rotten spelling and grammar. Its worse when I do it!)

jj - The price any particular bbl of oil sells for (excluding those with long term contracts) isn't based upon anything. It's a negotiated price between buyer and seller. Your basic supply and demand. When oil dropped from $148 back down to around $50/bbl nothing changed with respect to marginal bbls or any price averaging. The buyers cut back their purchases so the sellers had to compete against each other on a price basis. Same dynamics brought oil prices back up into the $80's. When I sell oil in Texas on a monthly basis the crude buyers post what they'll pay and I decide to sell it at that price or keep it in my tanks for another month. Obviously when the Saudi's sell oil it's a more convoluted process but still hinges on supply/demand dynamics.

There have been times when some operators sold their oil for a good bit less than it costs them to find it. And sometimes sold it for much more than they had ever planned.

The price any particular bbl of oil sells for isn't based upon anything.
It's a negotiated price between buyer and seller.

Is it worthwhile to point back to this "crazy" economist's view back in 2001: ??

It is interesting to note that in commodity markets, prices are quoted as
Dollars/barrel of oil,
Dollars/ounce of gold,
Dollars/tonne of copper,

Obviously, it wouldn't make much sense to establish an average of these prices.

link to source is here

The price of oil may be be quoted in dollars per barrel in the US, but that is not universally true.

In Canada, the producers' costs are in Canadian dollars and their volumes are in cubic metres. However, when it hits the border, there are custody transfer meters that automatically convert it to barrels, and accountants that covert the bills to US dollars.

When a refinery buyer in Chicago calls up a seller in Edmonton and asks for a price of a barrel of crude delivered in Chicago, the seller looks at the current price in Canadian dollars for a cubic metre of equivalent quality oil delivered to Edmonton, hits a button on his computer, and gets a price in US dollars for a US barrel of the same oil delivered to Chicago. And that's what he tells the buyer.

Similarly the traders in Europe will have their prices in pounds or euros or rubles, and quantities in tonnes or cubic metres, but if a buyer in Chicago calls up and wants a price f.o.b. Chicago in dollars and barrels, that's what they'll give him.

Ultimately, prices in the US are based on the price in US dollars of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate delivered to Cushing, Oklahoma, but that's just a benchmark for figuring out the conversions.

In reality, there are far more cubic metres of oil-sands oil produced in Canadian dollars and delivered to Edmonton than there are barrels of West Texas Intermediate produced in US dollars and delivered to Cushing, but that's irrelevant to the process. All the traders know what the conversion factors are.

Canadian oil sands provide North America with more oil than Saudi Arabia

More accurately, imports of Canadian crude oil have been showing a slow but steady rise over the last 30 years:

Whereas imports from Saudia Arabia have been jumping all over the place:

I think the key issue is that Canada cannot increase its production on the spur of the moment (it takes a long, long time to build a 100,000 bpd oil sands plant), and based on their exports through the 2000s, neither can Saudi Arabia any more. Despite George W's pleas, SA could not send enough extra oil to the US to make the crisis go away.

Indeed, damn the mainstream intelligentsia and their Orwellian language!

Someone hand me some Kool-Aid......

Clifford Krauss, the author of the NYT article ("There will be fuel") is actually a pretty sharp reporter, and I had a couple of long conversations with him a few years ago, and he is certainly aware of the Peak Oil/Peak Exports argument. You would think that he could have at least noted that global crude oil production has so far not exceeded the 2005 annual rate. Maybe the pressures that reporters are under makes it very difficult to do anything but report some version of the CERA outlook.

In any case, following is my email to him (I also referenced the CERA Koolaid):


I'm sorry to see that you have been drinking the CERA "Koolaid." Here is a link to a summary of the presentation that we gave at the recent ASPO conference, and attached is our Powerpoint presentation.


Regarding oil supplies, Daniel Yergin and CERA have been making the same argument that you outlined in your article for some time. Here is a link to a Forbes column from November, 2004, in which Yergin promised us a long term stable oil price of $38 per barrel, because of rising production:


In reality, global crude oil production has been at or below the 2005 annual rate for going on five years, despite annual oil prices exceeding the 2005 price level of $57 for going on five years (EIA).


Jeffrey Brown

What bothers me most about this reporter is his omission of discussion of the fuel's price. When he mentioned the Bakken formation in ND and MT growing from 100K barrels per day to 300K in ten years he did not mention the oil price going up 300% over that time. If oil and gas will continue to flow the price will remain high, while a majority of the US citizens see income stagnate or decline.

Sure, the world has a lot of oil and gas, but at a price that the US economy can afford? If oil in the arctic costs $150/bbl to produce can the US consumer afford $5 gasoline?

And another thing, how many of those oil producing countries are eliminating their subsidies for liquid fuels? Not one mentioned in this article. So people in most OPEC countries will continue to buy very cheap gas and diesel while ELM is still in full force.

There are two prices that are increasing with the development of "unconventional" oil reserves. There's the market price and the environmental price. Both have shown increases in recent years.

Folks have been able to ignore the environment price for a long time since that was usually hidden from view. Now days, that environmental price is starting to wash up on the doorsteps of the consumers. I believe this will also start playing a much more major role in acceptance of "how far will we go" to keep our addiction fed.

I have not turned into a cornucopian, but I find myself increasingly unsure about most things these days.

After all...nobody really knows how much energy is needed to maintain our present industrial civilization without growth; it could be very little. We won't be building many new things, but we won't starve either.

And the relationship between prosperity and energy is a tenuous one, at best. Consider the Soviet Union which was an energy superpower, but they collapsed nonetheless. And present day Russia suffers from terrible levels of corruption.

So to me the main questions still remain firmly grounded in the anthropological sphere. The question is what kind of society do we want to be. And judging by the theatre that is American life, we are going nowhere fast.

This NYT reporter isn't asking the right questions, but then again few people are. The right question would be this: if Alberta has such a large oil resource, and if we have oil shale, and if we can be more efficient, why are we pissing away so much money in Iraq/Afghanistan? Another question to ask would be this: why do we allow the Federal Reserve to create money and then hand it over to big banks so they can paper over their fraud and continue rewarding themselves with bonuses? Or how about this: why, when we have 300 million people and close to 20% real unemployment, do we continue to allow so many more additional people to enter into the country? Why do we even allow illegal immigration in the first place?

When you start to ask these questions, you increasingly see that they are only peripherally related to energy. The truth is that America is now a hopelessly corrupt, bankrupt, declining Empire. This would be true even if we had all the oil in the world.

So what drives my pessimism is not solely energy, though that's a part of it. It's our dysfunctional political and financial situation.

And there are very few mainstream people who are accurately reporting on these things. It's mostly confined to the blogosphere. The tide is swelling, but it's happening slowly.

After all...nobody really knows how much energy is needed to maintain our present industrial civilization without growth; it could be very little. We won't be building many new things, but we won't starve either.

Actually there are people who have quantified such things already. Watch this video: Peter Victor - Managing without Growth


After all...nobody really knows how much energy is needed to maintain our present industrial civilization without growth; it could be very little. We won't be building many new things, but we won't starve either.

I suspect that it will take a surprisingly large amount of energy -- certainly more per-capita than I would classify as "very little". To start with, the capital base -- fixed assets and infrastructure -- has to be maintained. If you're going to have integrated circuits with >10M transistors -- and a surprising range of today's level of tech depends on such chips -- then you have to build a new fab from time to time, and you have to maintain the entire pyramid of technology and equipment that allows you to build a fab. Lots of stuff that gets consumed in a relatively short time has to be replaced -- the food, fabric, clothes, paper, containers, and so on.

A related (I think) question I've been wrestling with is how large a population does it take to sustain today's tech. My current guess is that the minimum is in the range of 30-50 million people. That's based on the number that I think it takes to dedicate enough of total production to maintaining the capital base and to maintain enough highly-skilled specialists to keep things running. 100 engineers or doctors don't exist by themselves; they sit at the top of a pyramid of workers that produce a large enough surplus of all the other things the specialists need so that they can spend their time being IC designers or brain surgeons.

Productivity, which has a large energy component, counts also. In the 20th century, moving from 50% of the workforce in agriculture to 2% freed up people to do manufacturing; automation freed up more people to build infrastructure, or become doctors and engineers. If the trend were reversed, if it took 25% of the workforce to produce the food, that whole process gets reversed and you likely fall below the critical mass of doctors and engineers needed to maintain today's level of technology.

It's moderately interesting to note that every science fiction author who writes a story about humans colonizing a new planet deals with this question in some fashion (whether they realize it or not). Some assume magic technology, a la Star Trek's replicators (which can presumably replicate themselves). Some assume automation of everything below a certain level -- robots grow the crops and make the clothes. Some assume a benevolent home planet that keeps shipping tech in until the colony is large enough to sustain its own tech. And some have their colony slowly (or quickly in some cases) revert to much lower levels of tech.

A related (I think) question I've been wrestling with is how large a population does it take to sustain today's tech. My current guess is that the minimum is in the range of 30-50 million people.

Worldwide? Never-ever! Our actual technological level needs at least 1 billion with an avarage IQ of ~95-100 to sustain our technological level. With a median IQ of 110 (Ashkenazi Jews outside Israel) you may be able to go to 300 - 500 million. With a median IQ below 90 even 10 billion are not enough, because you lack the highly skilled ( IQ> 125) in the upper asymmtote of the Gaussian ditribution...

Think of it:

- China makes (actually) most low till middle class consumer goods (toys...)
- Japan/ Korea (South) / Rep. China makes most higer electric harware
- Germany / Japan / Korea (South) / US of A / Italy / France makes cars
- Vietnam / Bangladesh / China / India makes clothes
- Germany / Japan make most (higher level) machinery
- US of A / India makes most software
- US of A / EU / Brasil / Canada makes planes
- ...

Combined we are allready talking about > 3 billion in the actual Global supply chain. Of course you may reduce this to some degree because not all people are inclusive the chain (my guess: 1 billion), but never to 30 - 50 million.

By the way - what is the UK producing? Fish and Chips :-)

I think that Scandinavia could maintain the current level of technology and advance it slowly.

Offshore clothing manufacture (perhaps to the Baltic states, Poland, etc.)

They can build planes (Saab), write software, build nuclear reactors (old ASEA), build cars and machine tools, genetic research, wind turbines, etc.

Colonies elsewhere to supply mines, extra food, etc. but the technological island could self generate the required technology. Implied is a massive die-off in most of the world with chaos/local warlords in control.

Embargoing technology transfers (like the Chinese did for silk for centuries) to the chaos areas would give the technology island(s) a very large technology advantage that would increase over time. Good for trade, colonization for resources and for military supremacy. Two dozen Swedes with a hundred local recruits with modern weapons could defeat thousands of war lord troops (who would be down to handfuls of ammo after a few decades of chaos, so mainly archery & spears).

Significant economies of scale would be lost, which would likely require longer work hours to compensate. But Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland could continue as a technology island if the rest of the world collapsed. <25 million people.

A separate/conjoined island core of Germany, France and Switzerland, (plus neighboring nations or parts of nations added as needed) could also exist as an isolated technology island.

One could see a half dozen such technology islands surviving a world collapse, and extracting food & raw materials from the chaos of the rest. My guesses would be Scandinavia, the old EU + Switzerland, Japan, parts of China, Brazil (not 100% self sufficient for tech but can trade food for balance), parts of the USA/Canada (perhaps SF Bay north to Vancouver).

Some competition between said islands, but not much, over extraction of resources from "the chaos areas". Perhaps joint operation and protection of Suez and Panama Canals, joint anti-piracy efforts, etc.

So I think 25 million people could do the trick.


Don't forget that Sweden has colonized Minnesota. We have lots of timber, taconite, turkeys, corn, sugar beets, and other resources--the most important of which is more than two million people of Scandanavian ancestry. We still have towns where either Danish or Norweigian is the main language. The Swedes assimiliated better, and now are mostly in the Minneapolis suburbs. There are also lots of Finns on the Iron range, and I think I can find you a bar where the main language is Finnish. Alas, the average age of the customers is in the eighties or even low nineties. The young people (with a few exceptions) are no longer fluent in the mother tongue. My mother was raised in a Danish speaking household, and she taught me some Danish. It is an easy language, especially if you already know German.

After all...nobody really knows how much energy is needed to maintain our present industrial civilization without growth; it could be very little. We won't be building many new things, but we won't starve either.

And the unemployment rate will rise... continuously. You just don't understand Oilman. Our current economy requires growth else it collapses. There is no middle ground, not for more than a few years anyway.

Also another thing all you "no growth" advocates fail to understand is there will be no static state of fossil fuel production. When the supply of oil starts to drop, then coal and natural gas, is that it will drop forever... or until it becomes uneconomical to extract it. Therefore the unemployment rate will rise... and rise... and rise... forever. Or until the population stabilizes at somewhere around half a billion people for the world.

Ron P.

The right question would be this: if Alberta has such a large oil resource, and if we have oil shale, and if we can be more efficient, why are we pissing away so much money in Iraq/Afghanistan?

There will never be a good answer for this. It is some unknown combination of paranoia, daddy issues, bad intelligence, support for Israel, oil, delusions of 'spreading democracy', revenge, intentionally biased intelligence, etc.

Clifford Krauss, the author of the NYT article ("There will be fuel") is actually a pretty sharp reporter

In many cases like this it is not the reporter but the editor who forces the decpetive writing. The editor has probably been instructed, "My god, we are trying to sell full page adds for SUVs, don't rock the boat!"


Where can I find a graph showing production back to 2005 that includes 2010?

This is a graph of world oil (crude and condensate) production through August, from EIA data.

Recognise that 'reporter' are storytellers; first and foremost. Their own mythology says they 'find and illuminate truth' - but the reality is they tell stories for cash; like a wandering minstrel of old. Reality and facts are malleable to that end.

As a storyteller you adapt and fashion the story to meet the desires of the audience. Things in the big wide world are bad, and people don't want to hear it will get worse. They want to hear that the worst is over, that the sun is coming up.

You can't be surprised that these storytellers will craft fantasies from positive viewpoints - they want and need the money.

Yeah, this is very true. You can see from the get-go that he had a thesis of "Energy is abundant! Woo-hoo!" Then it was just a matter of listing the facts that support the narrative and ignoring the ones that don't.

couldn't help myself....

"For those of you outside of the industry or issue, Jeffrey Brown is one of the better known, if not the best known, Geologist in the world."

levity aside....what is wrong with all these people with access to so much information? The only bright spot of the last few conversations I've had on this topic is that my conspiracy theory friends are starting to suspect that the Guv and MSM might not be telling the whole story on PO. Doesn't matter what the production numbers and prices are...what matters is that certain people are saying "no problem", therefore there IS a problem. But hey, I'll take allies anywhere I can.


Holey smokes! This article is a goldmine....for anyone preparing a dissertation on the impact of denial on proper reporting practices.

The "100 years of NG left" is just one of many warning signs that this article is not on the up and up. Anytime someone leaves off the context "at current rates of consumption" it shows they either are being deceptive or naive. Either way, not the person you want to be accepting critical insights from.

But I truly enjoyed this article for its purity; no counterarguments at all were presented. Way to go NYT! Glad to see you keeping the Judith Miller flame burning bright. How's the whole profitability thing working out? Not that hopelessly slanted reporting and falling profits have anything to do with each other...


Yep. Every parapragh was disingenuous. As I read it, my first thoughts were that the NY Times wanted to publish a 'balance article' to the "Is Peak Oil Behind Us" article from the 14th.


Exactly! That was my initial thought as well.

""at current rates of consumption""

That is the my pet peeve too. These people are too intelligent for this kind of childish assumption. This is deliberate propaganda.

"At current rates of consumption" I have plenty to eat well into the next century!

Yes. Tupi is online. Production started on April 25th:


OK. Now you will tell me its not a high rate of production. But that's changing your argument when you realise you are wrong. Tupi production will gradually be ramped up over the coming years.

North Sea oil fields whose first full year of production was in 1999 or later showed a combined production peak of about one mbpd in 2005, versus a total North Sea production rate of about 6 mbpd in 1999 (C+C). Tell me, how did the increasing production from these new (1999 and later) oil fields affect total North Sea crude production?

I was simply commenting that production from the Tupi field has started. Nothing more nothing less. As expected however, somebody asked some other question as an answer to my answer.

I think the answer, Nordic, is that TUPI was mentioned amid a collection of these wonderful new discoveries in order to say 'Are these fields, together, really able to step up and pull this off? Stem the decline that is otherwise gaining steam..'

.. So yes, you did answer a piece about 'One Tree' that he mentioned, but his comment was really about the forest.

Weather isn't Climate, after all.

This is a good point. I think production proper started relatively recently though, late Oct 2010:


I'm very much pro-peak oil but we should be checking our facts before making flippant remarks - it does a disservice to our stance.

The only "fact" is the price at the filling station this morning was $2.99.9 for regular. I'm kind of a here and now guy and all the rest is someone else's SWAG. I expect that price to go down a little in the next week or two because crude is down to $81 or so from $88.

The fellows at coffee who drive diesel pickups were bitching a little because the refinery split put the price up 25 cents in the last few weeks. Fuel oil without road tax was $3.49 last week. YMMV

More random data points:

I filled my heating oil tank a couple of weeks ago for $2.79/gallon (#2 heating oil). Gasoline at the nearest "crossroads store" (we're in the country) is now $2.88. This is in rural NH.

There's a bit of a price war going on which has depressed fuel oil prices locally -- our average cost is currently in the range of 87.8-cents a litre or $3.32 a gallon. In other parts of Atlantic Canada, it's running closer to 97.1-cents or $3.68 a gallon.

Our last fill was August 24th, 2009, some 450 days ago. The gauge is between the 3/4rd and 7/8th mark, so we've used perhaps 150-litres/40-gallons during this time, and if all goes well, our next fill won't occur before 2016.


Using the data I found on the largest oil fields in the world and their output, I estimate that the Tupi field MIGHT produce around 0.5 mbpd if it gets going strong. Not much more than a drop in the bucket. Anyone want to bet whether Brazil ever becomes a net exporter of oil?

BP and the EIA are in conflict regarding Brazil. BP shows them as still being a net importer in 2009, while the EIA shows that they were a small net exporter in 2009.

I wonder if they treat biofuels differently.

The difference within the "All liquids" category is really just within the margin of error. Both the EIA and the IEA show that Brazil's total production of "Liquids" and total consumption to be about equal in 2009 with the EIA showing a small surplus and the IEA a small deficit. Both project that in 2010 Brazil is a net exporter.

If you ignore biofuels then Brazil is still a clear net importer.

Here''s the EIA total liquids figure for 2009 (mb/day)

Yr   Prod  Cons
2009 2.577 2.522


Yr   Prod  Cons
2009 2.49  2.51

In 2009 Biofuel production accounted for just under 0.5 mb/day of the above production figure.

The BP "Production" numbers do not include biofuels. Here's BP's definition of what it included in their total for Brazil.

Includes crude oil, shale oil, oil sands and NGLs (the liquid content of natural gas where this is recovered separately). Excludes liquid fuels from other sources such as biomass and coal derivatives.

However when it comes to "Consumption" the BP figures do include biofuels

Consumption of fuel ethanol and biodiesel is also included.

Brazil are a net exporter now and will be a large exporter in the future. Don't understand what you are trying to say?

He is trying to say that Tupi will not be a game changer. There is a conflict as to whether Brazil was a net exporter in 2009 or not. BP said they were not, the EIA says they were. At any rate their net exports in the next few years will not amount to a hill of beans when compared to total world exports, and what the world demands to keep business as usual chugging along.

Ron P.

First premise: BP says Brazil was a net importer of oil in 2009.
Second premise: The EIA says Brazil was a net exporter of oil in 2009.

Actually that may be correct, I don't have a link handy but I believe that in 2009 Brazil was a net exporter of crude while at the same time they were a net importer of refined petroleum products. While Brazil has refineries it appears that they are not set up to refine all the crude they produce. I looked at some trade balance figures which seem to back this up. To be clear I don't have a high confidence in either BPs or EIA numbers.

Fred, this was my mistake. I thought Nordic was responding to WT and framed my response accordingly. But then I realized he was not responding to WT but to Kram’s post. So I quickly deleted my post and changed my response entirely. But unfortunately you copied part of my post and framed your response around it before I could make the change.

At any rate your response is appreciated, and I agree completely with your conclusions.

Ron P.

The net export metric is domestic production of total petroleum less domestic consumption of total petroleum.

Here is what BP shows for Brazil for 2009:

Production: 2.0 mbpd
Consumption: 2.4
Net Imports: -0.4

Here is what the EIA shows for 2009:

Production: 2.6 mbpd
Consumption: 2.5
Net Exports: 0.1

The real difference is production, and I suspect that the EIA must be incorporating some ethanol volumes into the total petroleum number.

Note that the BP and EIA numbers are quite close for Saudi Arabia, 9.71 mpbd and 9.76 mbpd respectively (2009 total petroleum).

Using the data I found on the largest oil fields in the world and their output, I estimate that the Tupi field MIGHT produce around 0.5 mbpd if it gets going strong. Not much more than a drop in the bucket. Anyone want to bet whether Brazil ever becomes a net exporter of oil?

Tupi Schmupi. I've posted it before and I'll post it again: There is a helluva lot more oil off the coast of Brazil than just Tupi. Multi-billion barrel oilfields don't exist in isolation: If you've found one, there are almost certainly others, and maybe many others. Tupi itself may turn out to be just a "drop in the bucket" of Brazilian oil, at the rate they've been discovering things since I started following it in late 2005. Here is my list to date:

Brazil Oil Discoveries: Name - Size - Month/Year
Papa-Terra - 700 million - 1 billion barrels - 12/05 (LINK)
Xerelete - 1.4 billion barrels - 7/07 (LINK)
Tupi - 5-8 billion barrels - 11/07 (LINK)
Golfinho - 150 million barrels - 7/08 (LINK)
Iara - 3-4 billion barrels - 10/08 (LINK)
Additions to Jubarte - 1.9 billion barrels - 10/08 (LINK, LINK)
Tiro - 150 million barrels - 10/08 (LINK)
Sub-salt layers of Baleia Franca, Baleia Azul, and Jubarte - 1.5-2 billion barrels - 11/08 (LINK)
Aruana - 280 million barrels - 8/09 (LINK)
Guara - 1.1-2 billion barrels - 09/09 (LINK)
Vesuvio - 500 million - 1.5 billion barrels - 10/09 (LINK)
Caricoa - 681 million barrels - 11/09 (LINK)
Well OGX-2A - 400-500 million barrels - 11/09 (LINK)
Addition to Marimba - 25 million barrels - 11/09 (LINK)
Addition to Well OGX-2A - 600 million-1.5 billion barrels - 12/09 (LINK)
Well OGX-4-RUS - 100-200 million barrels - 02/10 (LINK)
Well 1-OGX-3-RJS - 500-900 million barrels - 02/10 (LINK)
Well 4-PM-53 - 25 million barrels - 02/10 (LINK)
Additions to Barracuda - 65 million barrels - 2/10 (LINK)
Maastrichtian section of Well OGX-5 - 30-90 million barrels - 2/10 (LINK)
Piranema - 15 million barrels - 3/10 (LINK)
Wahoo - 300 million barrels - 4/10 (LINK)
Franco - 4.5 billion barrels - 5/10 (LINK)
Pipeline and Etna (well OGX-6) - 1.4-2.6 billion barrels - 5/10 (LINK)
Waimea and Fuji (wells OGX-2 and OGX-8) - 600 million-1.1 billion barrels - 5/10 (LINK)
Carimbe - 105 million barrels - 5/10 (LINK)
Brava - 380 million barrels - 6/10 (LINK)
Libra - 3.7-15 billion barrels - 10/10 (LINK)
Running total: 28.506 billion - 48.866 billion barrels


It is so much fun to counter these arguments. Let me quote Darwin first:

About thirty years ago there was much talk that geologists ought only to observe and not theorize; and I well remember someone saying that at this rate a man might as well go into a gravel-pit and count the pebbles and describe the colours. How odd it is that anyone should not see that all observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service!

Darwin understood abstract thinking and the fact that you needn't count beans to reason about the world around us.

We have fundamental probability arguments that can answer these kinds of questions of potential oil finds based on the rate at which we have discovered fields in the past. The approach effectively analyzes the dispersed swept volume of the earth and can tell us exactly where we are riding on the declining tail.

You can look this up by doing a Google search on "dispersive discovery". Yet I do want to thank you for providing more data to verify this model. You see you are not wasting your time because any data is good data. Unfortunately based on your attitude, you may not be able to see the forest for the beans.

I realize your obsession with models WHT, but I was simply responding to a particular comment about a particular oil field in a particular nation. That is all.

I don't think it is an obsession with models so much as an obsession with the truth. There are only two approaches to look at data, a model-based approach and a heuristic-based approach. Only the first is scientific, and only science will get at the truth.

1. All models are wrong
2. Some models are useful

Models are a valuable tool that can be used by scientists or others to perform analysis. But they are not, of themselves, science or analysis.

Name one aspect of science that doesn't apply a model. You can't.

A scientific theory is a model of reality.
A controlled scientific experiment is a replicated model of reality.

You have experiment and theory, there is nothing else to science. Scientists are either experimentalists or theorists. Therefore they deal with models all the time. Any "scientist" that doesn't fit into one of these categories is a wannabee.

A heuristic is a model where the person essentially punted or created a placeholder for his lack of understanding.

That saying by George Box just grates.
He might as well have said:
1. Life will eventually end.
2. Live life.

Again name one aspect of science that doesn't use a model.

abundance.concept and Jack, idiots. Isn't it obvious that the most (super)giants with easy to produce oil will be discovered first ? That was many decades ago. What complicated models are necessary for common sense ?
Even ten 40 Gb regions with deep offshore oil (recently and in the future discovered)doesn't change much the timing of PO. Read also ROCKMAN's comment on this Drumbeat on costs, infrastructure, manpower and time needed to start up production from those fields. Among other things to connect the dots not to forget the increasing oil consumption from oil-exporting countries.

Without models, you have no science.

Would you like me to state the scientific method:

1. observe and determine a question
2. state a hypothesis
3. test hypothesis and collect data
4. analyze your data
5. interpret the data and state conclusions
6. publish to have others retest your findings

Thus you have two options. Refute the peak oil hypothesis with data or abandon your hypothesis for lack of reasonable support for the abundance hypothesis.

Without science and models what then will you do -- simply rail against models -- sounds like a climate science denier tactic (probably there is a relationship between the two camps).

Good luck.


With due respect, your model of the scientific method is not in accordance with what really happens.

This is what happens:

1. Person who claims to be a "scientist" has a given "model" in his/her head of how the Universe works.
[ i.mage.+]

2. Person who claims to be a scientist proposes a new hypothesis to add to the model, which hypothesis must include the notion that it is "universally applicable" and thus it is falsifiable with one example that eviscerates its "universal applicability".
[ i.mage.+]

3. Usually, the proposed hypothesis is in accordance with the pre-existing model and seeks to merely tweak the model slightly so as to improve the accuracy of the model.

4. The same person who claims to be a scientist (and fellow self-proclaimed scientists) use the models they currently have in their heads to devise "experiments" (e.g. Large Hadron Collider) which they believe will push the new hypothesis to its limits and thus break it if indeed it is breakable.

5. They carry out their experiments.
6. They use their pre-existing models to observe and interpret what they observe.
7. They use their pre-existing models to determine if the hypothesis has been falsified.
8. They keep trying to falsify the hypothesis, but only with aid of the pre-existing model of the Universe that they already have in their heads.

Thus you have two options:
[1] Refute the peak oil hypothesis with data, or
[2] Abandon your PO hypothesis

That sir, is a false choice menu.
Peak Oil is based on the following, currently accepted models of our Universe:

1. Conservation of Mass
2. Conservation of Energy
3. Lack of a Creamy Nogut center at the core of our Planet
4. Mathematical definition of the area under a rate curve (URR= area under the completed resource production curve)

If you succeed in busting one of the above, you may have succeeded in busting the Peak Oil "theory" and perhaps winning a Nobel Prize.

Good luck.

Models are a mix of hypotheses and theories.

Plenty of elementary behaviors that still require explanations and therefore good models.

an obsession with the truth


There is no such thing as "truth".

There is only the projections of the external Universe which cast as shadows on the back wall of each of our individual minds (ala Plato's Theory of the Cave) and the "models" that we individually use to interpret those silhouettes.

[ i.mage.+]

Venn the truth turns out to be lies,
And all hope within dies,
Den Yat?

Venn the truth turns out to be lies,
And all hope within dies,
Den Yat?

WHT: No doubt you remember my obsession with the movie: A Serious Man

But perhaps you don't appreciate why.

In the first couple of minutes of the movie there is this old-country dark shadows sequence where an old man enters from the cold into a woman's house.

--She serves him a bowl of hot soup.
He declines to eat it.

--She pulls out some hairs from his beard
and studies them.

--She sticks an ice pick into his chest.
He says he doesn't feel too good anymore and leaves


After the movie is over, a number of us gather outside the theater and someone finally breaks the ice and asks: But about that first sequence with the ice pick into the heart, what did it mean, what did it mean?

At the time, I could not say why it was so disturbing to all of us (Oy vey).
But now I can.

You see, the old lady was performing "scientific experiments".

From her point of perception, it was all very legitimate.
And it proved to her beyond a "shadow" of her doubts that the old man who came in from the cold was a Dybbuk (a Jewish demon who took possession of a dead Rabbi's body).

And who are we to say otherwise?

She had her internalized models of how the Universe operates.
She performed a set of experiments all in accord with her models.
She drew logical conclusions based on her observations and based on her models.

That is why the whole thing was so disturbing. Because even in this modern day and age we do the same thing. But at the time of viewing the movie we couldn't say why it was so disturbing.


And by the way, I wasn't crazy. Somebody else posted the same thing. I saw what I saw. In the movie, Professor Gopnick does scribble p^2 minus p^2 on the blackboard. That version doesn't show up on the screenshot. But it does happen in the movie. I had a chance to see the movie again and the p^2 minus p^2 appears on the blackboard again when Gopnick is scribbling fast. The inner physics student within me couldn't resist but to scream silently, "Wait a minute "teech" that equals zero!" Of course the students in his course are all asleep --except for Sy Abelman.

And by the way, I wasn't crazy. Somebody else posted the same thing. I saw what I saw. In the movie, Professor Gopnick does scribble p^2 minus p^2 on the blackboard. That version doesn't show up on the screenshot. But it does happen in the movie. I had a chance to see the movie again and the p^2 minus p^2 appears on the blackboard again when Gopnick is scribbling fast. The inner physics student within me couldn't resist but to scream silently, "Wait a minute "teech" that equals zero!" Of course the students in his course are all asleep --except for Sy Abelman.

And a second later he corrects it. I remember plenty of professors who would write out complete sentences without crossing t's and dotting i's. Then they go back and cross the t's and dot the i's. I think it is a matter of them wanting to get their ideas out before they evaporate. Working out a solution is a sequence of epiphanies.

I think the analogy with the bearded man is one of a chimp with another chimp. The first chimp offers the other new chimp a banana as a gesture of subservience. Then the chimp starts to remove gits and bugs from the other chimps beard as a motion of subservience. Then in a fit of alpha dominant rage the chimp attacks the strange chimp. We are all chimps, The scene reminded me of primordial urges and FUD played out.

And a second later he corrects it.

That does not happen in the movie.

Don't forget that it is a "movie" and Physics Professor Larry Gopnick is a fictional character.

The Coen Brothers undoubtedly meticulously (Mentaculously?) edited their film during post production.

The more probable theory is that they intentionally did it so ( p squared minus p squared) in their final cut of the movie as a test to see how many physics students in the audience would catch it and gasp with horror.

You are probably right. Most everything is intentional. At millions of dollars per movie they can afford to edit to ridiculous measures.

I don't think "Serious Man" is a movie that the Coen Brothers (No Country for Old Men) intended to make big bucks on.

After all, how many physics majors are they going to find out there in audience land to appreciate Arthur Gopnick's quest for the Probability Map of the Entire Universe (the Mentaculus) and to laugh at the joke about the "Italians" not letting Arthur "play cards" anymore --because he keeps winning.

No. It's more of an existential art work piece.

The beginning sequence is about science and doing experiments to validate your hypotheses.
A very serious topic indeed.

You probably forgot or didn't see that part of the movie, but ..
the old lady announces her hypothesis and underlying theory to her husband (and to the audience) each time before she performs the experiment on the creature in her house that maybe perhaps is the Good Rabbi or else, oy vay, is an Evil Dybbuk who has taken possession of the dead body of the Rabbi.

And when he (the Rabbi?/Dybbuk?) refuses the warm hot soup on a cold winter's day, you have to admit the old lady is on to something.

It all sounds very reasonable until you step back and realize it is all nuts.
And that's when you start worrying:
Why are our "modern" scientific methods any more trustworthy than hers?

Right again. What percentage of these types of allegories turn out coincidental? I would think at least a few. Yet they crossed all their t's and dotted all the i's on this one. Except where they didn't.
All errors are within the standard deviation.
< p 2 > - < p >2
And therein lies the rub.

Are you Uncertain about that?

(If yes, then mission accomplished by the Coen Brothers.)


So they screwed up on the variance calculation.

Does that mean they believe in fat-tail probabilities? Remember that variance does not exist for fat-tails.

What was the Black Swan of the movie? I think it was the 100-year-old rabbi knowing the names of all the members of Jefferson Airplane. Clearly out of variance.

What was the Black Swan of the movie?

Many Black Swans (in violation of normal variance):

1. Why was Daniel's transistor radio always tuned to pick up only Jefferson Airplane?
2. How on Earth could his father (Prof. Larry Gopnick) feel the radio waves and tune in F Troop just by touching the antenna up on the roof? (And also where the heck are the Hekawi Indians from anyway and why do they speak with Yiddish accents?)
3. How could an out-of-work nut job like Arthur Gopnick (Larry's dysfunctional brother) solve all the mysteries of the Universe simply by scribbling in his Mentaculus notebook and thereby finding the Eloheim particle (the Higgs Boson)?
4. Was the very first out of four Rabbi's you see in the movie a Dybbuk or not?
5. Was the 100 year old Rabbi you see at the end of the movie a Dybbuk or not and why was he doing research on teeth --was it because of the story about the Goy's Hebrew inscribed teeth?
6. _______

We could go on and on, but how can we be "certain" it does any good?

There is no such thing as "truth".

So that explains the obsession. It doesn't hurt to set a high bar and science is the best path forward.

There is no such thing as "truth".

OK, Pilate: Is your statement true, or false?

It is a quantum wave function that entangles with other wave functions.


Thanks for the list !

Add comparables off Angola (>50% chance) and the slope down post-Peak Oil will not be so steep.

Even with more Tupis, Francos and Libras, I do no see a reversal to a decline in Net Oil Exports. Perhaps Libra will one day produce 1 million b/day for a decade, before declining. It is hard to see that 1 million b/day coming on-line before 2023. Time enough for North Ghawar to water out, etc.


Also the point that all these new fields are not going to keep up with the high depletion rate from existing fields.

I'd like to see someone, more knowledgeable than me, write a good LTE to the Times, preferably in the name of ASPO or TOD. The whole thing is absurd.

I think that this is the key problem (from my "Iron Triangle" thesis):


To some extent, what we are seeing across the board, from large sectors of the energy industry to the auto/housing/finance industry, media and beyond, is the "Enron Effect," i.e., many people know that we have huge problems ahead, but their paychecks are dependent on the status quo.

This New York Times article is the most optimistic one I have read in a long time. Excerpt: “The estimates for how much oil there is in the world continue to increase,” said William M. Colton, Exxon Mobil’s vice president for corporate strategic planning. “There’s enough oil to supply the world’s needs as far as anyone can see.” This and many other misleading comments make the article very dangerous since the public will belief such a renowned paper.

The NYT article was written to be read by the Saudis. The latter are using the oil weapon to make the US act against Israel and Iran. They should know that there is lots of oil outside of Saudi Arabia...

Iran's Coming Presidency of OPEC is Less Significant than it Seems

The OPEC expert interviewed by Mianeh said there were real fears for the industry in the coming five years because “oil production is falling by 200,000 barrels every year, a decline that will become steeper if there’s no new investment in developing new wells and repairing old ones”.

He said OPEC’s own assessments indicated that Iran’s Azadegan field, which should have been producing 300,000 barrels a day by 2007, was only managing between ten and 20 per cent of this capacity three years on.

“The only way Iran can win more power in OPEC is to increase its output, and that doesn’t seem likely for the time being,” the expert concluded.

What this article seems to be saying is that Iran's oil production will decline by only 200,000 bp/d if they invest in new wells and in the repair of old ones. But failing this their production will decline much faster.

Ron P.

This sounds like a recipe for a second Iranian revolution, but this time the Ayatollas will lose.

Re: Colder Winters Possible Due to Climate Change: Study

The article refers to a new report published in the JGR, for those interested.

Our simulations with the ECHAM5 general circulation model demonstrate that lower-troposphere heating over the B-K seas in the Eastern Arctic caused by the sea ice reduction may result in strong anticyclonic anomaly over the Polar Ocean and anomalous easterly advection over northern continents. This causes a continental-scale winter cooling reaching −1.5°C, with more than 3 times increased probability of cold winter extremes over large areas including Europe. Our results imply that several recent severe winters do not conflict the global warming picture but rather supplement it,

Here's the citation:

Petoukhov, V., and V. A. Semenov (2010), A link between reduced Barents-Kara sea ice and cold winter extremes over northern continents, J. Geophys. Res., 115, D21111, doi:10.1029/2009JD013568.

Climate Change is not just a simple addition of a few degrees C to the daily temperatures...

E. Swanson

A regional change, but there's the potential for climate change causing more snow in the lake effect bands. Warmer summers and earlier falls keep the lake surfaces warmer. Cold canadian air masses that descend in the winter months will still be plenty cold for decades to collect moisture from those warmer lakes and pelt the region with snow.

At present, the areas of North America and Europe which were recently glaciated receive relatively little precipitation. If more snow falls in the winter than melts in the summer, glaciers will grow again. Thus, the requirement for triggering the next ice age is that there be more moisture in the atmosphere over northern lands, which is a consequence of a warmer, ice free Arctic Ocean, as well as a warmer North Pacific and North Atlantic.

Hopefully, we are putting enough CO2 into the atmosphere to forestall the next ice age, rather than just triggering it.

The US Global Change Research Program's report on US impacts suggests that most of the northern states will experience increased winter/spring precipitation, and decreased summer/fall precip.

I've seen additional claims of this, usually stated in terms of the arctic oscillation, which desrcibes whether the cold stays bottled up in the polar regions or heads south. Last winter it allowed the later, especially into Europe, and the eastern coastal areas say a couple of epic snowstorms. Great fodder for denialists, even if
global temps were a very high levels, for instance Canada had the warmest winter on record. So "they" are predicting these sorts of years may become much more common.

Having hooked up with DSL, I can watch the satellite infrared pictures which NOAA provides. Last winter, (the Winter of 2010), there was a persistent flow of upper air from the Northeast over the high North Atlantic. The result was that little or no warm air from the mid-Atlantic made it toward Northern Europe. Watching the looped graphics, one could see the northward flowing warm air split into two flows, one over Greenland and the other back toward the Southeast. As a result, Southern Greenland experienced record warmth. The images reminded me of the situation where a stream of water from a hose hits a wall and then turns to follow the surface of the wall. This effect sounds like what is described in the abstract of the report, a report which was submitted in November, 2009 before the Winter of 2010.

As the Winter of 2011 is only 2 weeks away, I'm wondering whether this pattern will form again, knowing that the ENSO situation has reversed, which will also influence the path of the meridional flows...

E. Swanson

2 years ago Zhang released a paper "Recent radical shifts of atmospheric circulations and rapid changes in Arctic climate system" the title says it all. Jeff Masters has written about this new mode, which is now being termed the Arctic Dipole Anomaly and seems to be replacing the Arctic Oscillation. http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1398 Note the first graphic which shows the low level warm spot due to the thinner (and reduced summer area) ice-cap. It's worth noting that the colder winters at lower latitudes are accompanied by increased advection of warm low lattitude air into the Arctic, thus favouring more Arctic warming.

That said the Arctic Oscillation index is still useful for keeping an eye on blocking high pressure events (cold still air) that hit Europe (sorry don't know about the States). The AO index last February dropped to -4.3, the lowest since 1950 (start of record) at the same time as the UK was blanketed in snow.

It's also worth noting Lockwood et al, "Are cold winters in Europe assocated with low solar activity?" To which their answer is "yes". Given that NASA are predicting a period of low solar activity it looks like we're in for a double whammy...

Increased likelihood of cold winters due to changes in Arctic circulation, and reduced solar activity increasing the likelihood of cold winters.

And all that as energy costs go up. ;)

With all due respect to Jeff Masters, I think he is looking at the situation backwards. In his conclusion, he states:

Arctic sea ice loss appears to have created a new atmospheric circulation pattern that brings more warm air in the Arctic, creating a positive feedback loop that causes even more sea ice loss...

His focus is on weather, not climate. One aspect of a warmer world would be an increase in tropic to pole circulation, which is the process which brings the cold air masses of winter down to lower latitudes. As the Arctic warms and more sea-ice melts due to AGW, the early model builders claimed that this process would slow the meridional flow and thus there would be a reduction in the intensity of storms in the cold half of the year, since that's what the models showed. I think that there is a chicken-or-egg problem here in that the high latitude warming in the models is caused in part by an increase in those flows coupled with the snow/ice albedo feedback. But, the snow and ice feedback only applies in the warm half of the year when there is sunlight at polar latitudes, but the snow and ice can re-appear rapidly, once the temperature drops below freezing. In the winter half of the year, the flows might be expected to increase based on heat transfer considerations, since the albedo feedback does not apply.

Worse, the weather people don't pay much attention to the oceans, since the oceans change little on the time scale of weather, i.e., over a week or so, except during hurricane season. They aren't thinking about the possibility of long term changes in the THC, which has transported a large quantity of thermal energy to higher latitudes in the recent past. If the THC stalls, that thermal energy won't be there and the winters on lands around the high North Atlantic would be colder. I've seen data which leads me to conclude that there has been a change in the THC, which may also have influenced the winter weather the past three years. Last year, the unusual wind pattern pushed the surface water of the Gulf Stream to the northwest and into the Labrador Sea, instead of pushing that warm water toward Northern Europe, as was typical during past winters. Thus, I will be very interested in the weather of the coming winter, since we could see another round of extremes as we experienced last year...

E. Swanson


So do you think Abbot & Tzipperman have a relevant point in their 2008 paper "Sea ice, high-latitude convection, and equable climates"? Where they presented a mechanism whereby poleward heat transport and increased regional warming due to cloud cover could explain year round sea-ice free states at lower levels of CO2 (than I for one had suspected). If they are correct then the consequences for NH climate and the Arctic Ocean could be very significant (OK Mindblowing).

I'm somewhat skeptical of the THC stopping meme. From what I've read the THC is very variable, and I am persuaded by Wunsch that the Box model view is too simple and that it's best viewed as a combination of localised factors: i.e. from subduction due to density differences at high lattitudes (where the deep water is formed), to the Atlantic Gyre due to the rotation of the Earth at mid lattitudes. With the Gyre being the major reason for the North Atlantic Drift and additional atmospheric heat transport to Europe, i.e. if subduction were to cease it wouldn't substantially impact heat transport to Europe.

I too will follow the coming winters with interest. The NH's cold areas in the past winter (09-10) had a pattern (see GISS maps) very similar to that expected from low AO index, as seen figure 1 of Shindell 2001 "Solar Forcing of Regional Climate Change During the Maunder Minimum." (Cold over N Siberia, Coastal EUrope, Central down to E Coast US) I am currently however undecided about whether last winter was due to the Arctic or low solar activity, indeed if this is an either/or matter at all!



Too many people just look at global warming as a temperature effect. It is an addition of energy. Currently a lot of this energy is going into melting ice and not heating the atmosphere. When that ice is gone, ooops! But energy increase can also affect rains, snows, winds etc etc so effects like these should hardly be a surprise. Once the Arctic ice is gone, the glaciers have gone, the mountain snow and ice fields are gone, the permafrost gone then look out.


Also an inertial response thing. I heard the global warming denier and junk scientist Stephen Milloy today sound almost gleeful when he said that because of the relative inertness of CO2 in the atmosphere, even if we cut out all CO2 emissions today, the levels would stay put.

Well, DUH, that is the problem. But the way jerks like Milloy use language patterns to frame the arguments, they can imply that something that sounds bad is actually good. It won't change even if we pull all the stops, GOOD!, let's do nothing then. It's only funny that it has taken them this long to admit that CO2 residence time is not just a few years. Now CO2 is an "inert gas" and since when have inert gases killed anyone? Oh the irony.

It's unbelievable how bat-crap crazy these people are. Either that or they think it is some sort of juvenile high school debate where they get points for rhetorical creativity.

My feeling is that we are too late. We are already locked into the feedforward loop and the inertia. If, immediately, there were no more greenhouse gasses emitted the process would continue under its own steam. I think that all we can do is regulate the speed of change and prepare for the future. Our response determining the quality of bad rather than if it will happen. Maybe 20-30 years out the changes are really going to start biting and it will not be pretty.


We are already locked into the feedforward loop and the inertia.

Same with population.

I heard the global warming denier and junk scientist Stephen Milloy today ...

You're talking about today's live Congressional hearings on C-SPAN about Global warming (the last session chaired by Democrats) right?

I hope they replay it.
Unfortunately as I was trying to watch, some Jesus freak (a family member) burst in on me and started spouting some nonsense loudly from his "holy moley" Bible and I couldn't hear the rest of the testimony.

It's unbelievable how bat-crap crazy these people are.

They probably babble in tongues from the same "holy moley" Bible that my rude family member is obsessed with. But hey ... it's their internally accepted model of the Universe. Who are we to say that our model is nay better than theirs?

One of the big problems between science and religion is that science, using the rules of logic, can't prove a negative. That is to say, science can't "prove" that there isn't a god out there somewhere pulling the strings which control our lives, perhaps laughing at us in the process. So, the believers continue to believe the stories handed down thru the generations of other believers, thus their world view is pre-conditioned on their belief in supernatural events and actions by the invisible "gods". That our senses are imperfect and our brains filter that which our senses provide to create internal models of reality doesn't impact the believer's world view, as every event which they can not be explain becomes another place mark on their list of personal miracles...

E. Swanson

Steve Milloy is the owner of the site http://junkscience.com.

Another one of those huge projection and framing things. He claims to identify scientists who practice junk science yet it is HE that is the guilty party. Milloy believes that science should be some some sort of religion.

What a total Hoot !!!
Loved the I'm a Denier Song page:


"Then I checked out facts ... Hey Hey ... Now I'm a Denier [with a pair of Hockey sticks!]"
"Not a doubt ... Hey Hey ... That it was all a Hoax"

Is that Senator Inhofe in the Kentucky-Fried Chicken suite?

Fortune has an article about Jim Chanos today. He called Enron right, and he thinks China is another Enron. He says, "China's on an economic treadmill to hell."

And on CNBC this morning, they were talking about an article in the WSJ. I couldn't find which one, but it argued that bailing out Ireland would hurt the EU, not help it. Because having to pay for the bailout would push the other countries closer to the edge. And not just the PIIGs. The author thought France was vulnerable, too.

The crazy thing is that Ireland had to stump up cash to bail out Greece earlier in the year.

The whole EU project is crumbling - good riddance I say.

If the Irish currency was still effectively the Pound Sterling, as the Irish Pound was historically tied at parity to Sterling (prior to being allowed to float in the EMS/"Snake" on anticipation of European currency union), would Britain's part in any bailout be smaller or larger than likely now?

I really can't see how the "whole EU Project crumbling" is a good thing for Britain. What benefits do you see?

I really can't see how the "whole EU Project crumbling" is a good thing for Britain. What benefits do you see?

Freedom from oppression by unelected officials.

Britain gains nothing from the Sovietized EU. We signed up to a free trade bloc. Good idea. I also like the idea of free movement of people within Europe. It is nice to be able to disappear to France for a month or two without getting a visa and being able to work as well. All good things. But the current statist setup goes WAY beyond. The whole EU monster is about enslaving the individual peoples of Europe to an unelected dictatorial nightmare. No thanks.

Britain should be FIRMLY out side of the EU. We can still trade with them just as Norway does. There is absolutely NO benefit to Britain being a member of the EU. NONE. NONE. NONE.

As for the Irish pound, the question is frankly wrong headed. Ireland's troubles are wholly caused by being in the Euro in the first place. It was always going to be suicide for them to be haltered to German interest rates and business cycle.

Freedom from oppression by unelected officials.

So you think we have more freedom coming in future - especially if we just leave the EU? I have never personally felt myself oppressed by EU officials - at least in relative comparison to oppression by "officials" in general.

And as for Norway, is it not forced to accept whatever the EU demands to retain its trading status?


Norway is not a member state of the European Union (EU), but is closely associated with the Union through its membership in the European Economic Area (EEA) (in the context of being a European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member
The EEA agreement grants Norway access to the EU's single market while the country is to adopt most EU legislation related to that market. Additionally, Norway is a part of the Schengen Area, and has been granted participation rights (save voting rights) in several of the Union's programmes, bodies and initiatives.[2] These include the European Defence Agency, the Nordic Battle Group, Frontex, Europol and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Whether or not the country should apply for full membership has been one of the most dominant and divisive issues in modern Norwegian political debate.

If the Euro can't survive then I think you underestimate the chaos as it collapses. Whether you believed in it in the first place or not.

I have no doubt that the collapse of the Euro will cause chaos for all, including us. However it would be worth it to destroy the EU, as it is currently constituted. We will regain national sovereignty and stop wasting £45,000,000 per day in net payments to the EU - most of which is utterly wasted.


The EEA agreement grants Norway access to the EU's single market while the country is to adopt most EU legislation related to that market.

In return for access to the EEC Norway is expected to adhere to legislation for the market. Not all the other crap. Most of the EU legislation has nothing to do with trade. Tell me how the crappy human rights legislation is relevant to the EEC? It isn't. Its purpose is to take sovereignty away from member states and coerce them into one Super Europe. No thanks. I will pick up my rifle before some faceless bureaucrat tells me what I can do in my own country

My generation has NEVER been consulted over the EU. Never. Yet we are being bound by its rules. I always vote UKIP at European elections and I always will. F*** the EU.

The NATO military alliance and the membership of the UK in the EU are the two main mechanisms for continued Anglo American meddling in continental Europe.

The UK should be excluded from the EU and the EU reconstituted on the basis of the Eurozone.

NATO should be dissolved.

I always vote UKIP at European elections and I always will. F*** the EU.

And at the General Election in May only about three percent of those voting picked UKIP (despite Nigel Farage crashing a plane to get on tv :-)). You could blame that on the first past the post system ( I noticed you don't say you vote UKIP in national elections) but the EU would prefer we used a proportional system anyway. It is somewhat ironic that UKIP holds twelve seats in the proportional European Parliament you hate and none at all in Westminster.

By the way prisoners in Norway are allowed to vote - EU or no EU.

A vote for UKIP at national elections is a waste of pencil lead. Farage is an idiot, but a useful idiot nonetheless. (He is actually my MEP but I am embarrassed by his frequent 'odd-ball' comments)

I wouldn't want UKIP within a country mile of a Westminster seat, but it serves a purpose by electing them to the EU parliament as it puts two fingers up to the muppets in all main UK parties who have sold us out to Europe and lets them know that I ain't happy about it.

Prisoners should never be allowed to vote irrespective of the EU. If someone does bird then they leave their right to participate in the democratic process at the prison gates. They can pick that right up again when they are released. (exception being prisoners on remand).

The European Court of Human Rights ruled the UK ban on prisoners voting was illegal. It's nothing to do with the EU. It was established by the European Convention on Human Rights under the Council of Europe which predates the EU. Pretty well all European countries are members.

Woopee doo. Call it what you like, it is still a bunch of unelected people outside of the nation state telling us what to do. And do you really think that they are independent of the EU? Bollix. In my book freedom starts and ends with my vote, and my ability to send a representative to a SOVEREIGN parliament who's laws no one, nor body, will have precedent. The EU is fundamentally undemocratic. The Council of Europe is one and the same thing. It is just words and brass plaques on doors, all outside of the Nation State.

And now the bloody frogs have gone one up at Wembley. Stuff 'em. We won Agincourt.


Yes they are totally independent of the EU. The judges are elected by the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe which is made up of parliamentarians from each member national parliament. There are 47 judges, one per member state. Yes 27 of those 47 are also members of the EU.

Your figures are rubbish. They come from UKIP did they? UK net contribution in 2006 was 5.446 billion Euro, or about 4.6 billion pounds. That's what we have just wasted by cancelling Nimrod MRA4. I make that less than 13 million pounds a day.

My generation did get to vote on EEC membership. We voted 2:1 in favour of remaining inside it on a 65% turnout. In those days most of the Tories in the House of Commons were in favour of the EEC and most Labour members were against it. I was a leftie in those days and voted against.

Nope not rubbish. Stone cold hard fact. Britain pays a NET amount of £45,000,000 per day to the EU. That is net of what we get back from things like regional development and single farm payments.

Cold Hard Fact. £45,000,000 per DAY.

And that is before all this crap about bailing out the Irish, Greeks etc.

Once again, Cold Hard Fact: Britain pays £45,000,000 NET per DAY to the EU.



Here is what the BBC says


The UK's net contribution to the European Union will rise by almost 60% next year, the Treasury has said.

The cost of membership will rise to £6.4bn - equivalent to about £260 per UK household - from £4.1bn in 2009/10.

Your figure would be about £16.5bn /annum. 10 billion more than the BBC says.

For comparison let's look at Bankers Bonuses in the City of London and elsewhere.


Britain's biggest banks are in talks about collectively reducing the amount they will award in new year bonuses.

BBC business editor Robert Peston said negotiations about the "thorny" issue were taking place under the umbrella of the British Bankers Association.

One participant suggested that total bonuses could be cut from £7bn to £4bn, but accepted such a figure would still attract criticism from politicians.

...The total size of the bonus pool on Wall Street for 2010 performance is expected to be about $20bn (£12.4bn), or about 80% greater than the expected London bonus pool.

Well fecking marvellous matey. Your generation voted for a single trade area.. which I am in favour of. No one voted to give up our sovereignty and have 80% ++ of our laws dictated to us by unelected Soviets in Brussels. My generation is not only going to have pay your generation's pension - when we know full bloody well we won't get diddly squat ourselves- but also we will have to extradite our nation from the crap heap which is the EU. Yeah, your generation has a lot to answer for. Maybe you lot should go retire. You've f*cked up the country enough already. Your debt, your pension promises, your NHS promises to yourselves but on my tax and you sold us out to Europe. Frankly, your stinking generation should be ashamed of itself. Free tertiary education? What is that then, eh? Your generation screwed up the housing market so, here on the south coast, a crappy mildew-infested tiny one bed flat costs £625 per month to rent or £160,000 to buy. 6x average earnings but 20 years ago it was 3x earnings. You lot wasted our country's oil and gas bonanza - where's the dividend for my generation and my kids? Your generation ran down our national trade balance, decimated our military so we have to share with the French and after all this you lot are going to nash your teeth and whine when you haven't got enough winter fuel allowance or enough pension. Sorry buddy, I'm too choked with trying to pay my own way. I know I won't get a pension.. I sure as f**k don't care about yours.

No matey, your generation screwed us bad. Well excuse me if I look out for number one first.

Freedom's just another word for Nothing left to Eat..

HacLand, the stuff you smoke must be a pretty powerful brain twister: "Sovietized EU, EU monster, dictatorial nightmare".

Got to say, I disagree with nearly everything you say, but in this one instance I agree. Not for any of the jingoistic reasons you suggest, but because the EEC>EU>Euro mutation wasn't thought through.

The overriding axiom of the EEC politicos was that 'ever closer union' was necessarily a good thing. Their aim was a United States of Europe. However, whilst having a big market to bounce around the world is a good thing, having all the trappings of an unwieldy, monolithic super-state is not.

You need the flexibility to adapt behaviours to local circumstances and capabilities. A 'patch' like optimisation of local system structures to the local needs.

The joke is in heaven the cooks are French, the policemen are English, the mechanics are German, the lovers are Italian and the bankers are Swiss. In the EU its not even as definite as the associated hell; its everyone being forced to do everything, all the same. And it's not a levelling up, its a committee decision. We all know what committee decisions are like.

The right level is to go back to the EEC level, forget all the rest and allow things to move forward again with a focus on individual countries doing what they do best. Mutual interdependence and collaboration where it makes sense - not forced.

maybe but only when Germany has been bankrupted and then I think we'll get EU 2.0 , smaller like the original plans if I remember rightly.

Remember this is France's baby and they got Germany to pay for most of it ( and us in the UK now).


Exactly. I am all for a small supra-national body where each member state sends a representative (appointed by the democratically elected member parliament) to sit around a table and discuss areas where there is mutual benefit. I am also strongly in favour of a free trade and free movement area.

There is no need though for the parliament, the commission and all the soviet style bureaucracy. And absolutely no place for the disgusting, evil EU Constitution which has been forced upon us without our consent and now means that unelected Commissioners in Brussels hold more power than my elected MP. If I had a European flag I would burn it.

God Save the Queen.

God Save the Queen.

Actually it might be the French not God if we need to borrow their aircraft carrier.

I've got nothing against Saving the French. We did twice last century, and I am mighty glad we did too as I enjoy my holidays in Normandy and Brittany very much. ;)

or should it be 'God Save Kate' ;)

(oh please, please would the media just stop with the wall-2-wall coverage....)

At least Kate's pretty. Dogiana ...

Commissioners in Brussels hold more power than my elected MP. If I had a European flag I would burn it.

God Save the Queen.

One has to wonder how many of her Royal Majesty's colonial subjects might have voiced similar feelings with regards the British flag, when over the centuries they were being forced to submit to the whims of the rulers of the British Empire?

What goes around comes around as they say. Sometimes the wheel of fortune turns as the sun sets over a waning empire, as we, in the US, coincidentally once your disgruntled colonial subjects as well, seem to be about to find out ourselves, the hard way, I might add.

To be clear I have a great fondness for you Brits as I also do for most Europeans, I guess you'll all just have to find a way to play nice in the sand box. And so will we.


Ok, first of all it isn't 'her Royal Majesty'. It is just 'Her Majesty'. The 'Royal' bit is a Hollywood addition and it makes me vomit when I hear an American say it ;) ;)

Second, we bloody well conquered all those darned 'colonials' so it was only right that they did what they were told. ;) We have pro-actively joined the EU, so we should be able to just as easily pro-actively leave it at our whim.

As for playing nice in the sandbox, we stand a better chance if we are strong independent nation states within a loose supra-national body co-operating where necessary but otherwise butting out of each other's business. Seriously, you want to see a third European war then keep pushing us all together under the current undemocratic disaster which is the EU.

I would hate for hundreds of thousands of young Americans to have to come and bail us out again, but I am only half joking about picking up my rifle. Passions are once again stirring in Europe.

Surely "Her Britannic Majesty"? Not just any old Majesty :)

but I am only half joking about picking up my rifle.

Her Majesty might have people who keep lists of Her subjects saying things like that. Even complete jokes online and not just half-jokes can get you in court these days. Just don't go near any airports in a hurry!

I wonder if there are search engines that can detect sarcanol?

('Do Web-bots dream of Electric Sheeples?')


That was a UK court and UK laws. None of that EU muck.


Perhaps he should appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

I would hate for hundreds of thousands of young Americans to have to come and bail us out again, but I am only half joking about picking up my rifle.

Not to worry, we know you don't have all that much oil left for the taking... >;^)

Seriously though, I was just in Europe recently and while I agree that there are plenty of passions stirring I didn't quite get the impression that conditions are yet ripe enough for a third intra European war. Granted things are certainly in a state of flux.

Oh, and please convey my sincerest apologies to her 'Majesty'.

Best hopes for not picking up rifles!

I'll say once again what few want to admit: that Europe's wars and competing nations were actually a critical part of its dynamism.

If you want to recreate the Roman Empire or the Soviet Union or imitate China, then by all means support the EU.

Not that I think anybody benefits from war. But nobody benefits from large, bureaucratic structures either.

No easy answer here.

Re: Leanan's link above concerning "China's on an economic treadmill to hell."

For those like me who are too lazy to read the article then watch the video embedded on the link above. It will knock your socks off. Then I was inspired to read the entire article.

60 percent of China's GDP is fixed asset investment. That is real estate, construction and the commodities and supplies required to support that construction such as copper and steel. By comparison 20 to 30 percent of Dubai's economy was in construction before their collapse.

Consider Dubai, he says: At the peak of its building boom, there were 240 square meters of property under development for every $1 million in national GDP. In urban China today that ratio is four times as high.

Given that no country can support an economy based purely on building, building and more building for very long, I think it is a lead pipe cinch that the Chinese economy will collapse in the next few years. There is no way of knowing exactly when it will happen but it could be next week, or next year or the next. And when it does the entire world will feel the effect.

The effect that a Chinese collapse would have on the world is open to debate. Chanos says that Australia and Canada, because of their construction exports to China, would be hurt more than the US. But if the Chinese economy collapses who would then buy our bonds? And what if they decided they suddenly needed the cash and started to dump their US debt holdings on the open market?

Ron P.


I see your point in the concern over infrastructure spending, but how much is for buildings of that 60%? The percentage or the amount is not mentioned in the article.

Any developing country will spend a great deal of its GDP on infrastructure, and in China a lot of that is for transport (13,000 km of new high speed rail lines, almost doubling km's of existing rail routes to 110,000), dozens of new power stations (around 50 per year IIRC), new highways (around 18,000 miles was projected in 2005), new pipelines to import natural gas and oil, and of course new factories and mills to process all those commodities into products the US and the rest of the world buys every day.

Perhaps China's GDP increase will decline. But from my perspective (our company has sold many tons of non ferrous metal to exporters that shipped it to China),China is importing so much material that is transformed into usable products that are consumed or exported that it can't be just offices and housing driving its economy. Here in the US I could see back in 2003 how the housing market was being set up for a fall. From what my friends have told me of their recent trips to China, the economy is growing in all aspects and thus will not have the same fate as ours.

Mbnewtrain, you are confusing "fixed assets" with "infastructure". They are two entirely different things! From Wikipedia:

Infrastructure is the basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise,[1] or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function.[2] The term typically refers to the technical structures that support a society, such as roads, water supply, sewers, power grids, telecommunications, and so forth.

Fixed asset, also known as a non-current asset or as property, plant, and equipment (PP&E), is a term used in accounting for assets and property which cannot easily be converted into cash. This can be compared with current assets such as cash or bank accounts, which are described as liquid assets. In most cases, only tangible assets are referred to as fixed.

Infrastructure usually refers to stuff the government builds and owns, or power lines and such in places where the utility companies are private. Fixed assets are entirely in the private sector. Fixed assets are real estate, plants, buildings, houses, and equipment, as opposed to manufactured stuff like cars, trucks, commodities and such. The stuff that is bought and consumed are not fixed assets.

When 60 percent of a countries annual GDP is in fixed asset investment then that is unheard of in the modern world. That is for every dollar spent on anything then sixty cents of that dollar went into real estate or creating new fixed assets such as hotels or office space or on building materials to create these things. As reported the amount of fixed asset investment in Dubai was between 20 and 30 percent. And that bubble burst.

Ron P.

Isn't the real issue what to do with all the jons/economic activity that was tied up in construction? That is clearly a problem for a capitalistic economy, construction suddenly slows and all the jobs dependent upon it vanish. In a command economy, at least in principle, they could simply reasign the construction workers to "other" work. The Chinese don't strike me as foolish, and they seem to take the longterm view to such matters. I suspect they have thought about the eventual winddown of the infrastructure buildout phase. I have to think they at least believe they have it covered.

I have to think they at least believe they have it covered.

Yeah right, like we have peak oil covered. What you do not see coming you cannot have covered.

In a command economy, at least in principle, they could simply reasign the construction workers to "other" work.

Well not exactly. That might have been the way it was during the time of Mao. But now those construction workers do not work for the state, they work for a salary, just like those young ladies working in the sweat shops making clothing. When the building industry collapses they will not automatically go on the government payroll doing whatever the government can find for them to do. They do not work for the government now and will not automatically become government wards if they lose their jobs.

And if the Chinese economy collapses they will simply be unemployed.

Ron P.

Chanos says that Australia and Canada, because of their construction exports to China, would be hurt more than the US.

With any luck, the Coalition will be back in Power at that point, and we will finally see that the Emperor has no clothes.*

On the flipside, if the Coalition is in power, we're also screwed, because their idea of "Economic C'nservatism" (whatever that means) is tax cuts.

*For our international viewers, the Coalition presided over Australia for the late 90's to 2007, during a once-in-a-lifetime minerals export boom (mainly to China), then claimed it was their superior economic management that created conditions of plenty (then promptly pissed most of it away in Middle-Class Welfare).

This article premises the Chinese economic "bubble" being one based on housing with prices escalating. But the article nowhere mentions price increases of housing, offices or real estate.

Also the author got the numbers screwed up, in one place mentioning 5 billion sq feet of new office and residential space, then two sentences later mentioning 30 billion of new office space for the same time period. If the numbers are not accurate, the prediction is probably wrong too.

One thing that China has going for it, an economy that is somewhat self sustaining, meaning a lot of what China produces is consumed by its citizens. Just look at automobiles being bought in China, around 13 million per year, versus 11 million per year in the US.

Furthermore, a lot of what is made in China is no longer made in the US or other OECD counties. If you go to an industrial supply, much of the products are Chinese made, from air compressors to tools to pipe fittings to electrical parts. We can't do without them for "keeping the lights on" (our economy afloat) in the US, IMO.

Also the author got the numbers screwed up, in one place mentioning 5 billion sq feet of new office and residential space, then two sentences later mentioning 30 billion of new office space for the same time period. If the numbers are not accurate, the prediction is probably wrong too.

His numbers are not wrong, your are just reading it wrong. He did not say 5 billion square feet of office space, he said 5 billion square meters of residential and office space. 2.6 billion square meters of that was office space.

"He said they were building 5 billion square meters of new residential and office space -- 2.6 billion square meters in new office space alone. I said to him, 'You must have the decimal point in the wrong place.' He said no, the numbers are right. So do the math: That's almost 30 billion square feet of new construction.

"2.6 billion square meters in new office space" comes out to 28 billion square feet of new office space or almost 30 billion square feet. Again, his math is correct.

Ron P.

Get a divorce, get a house. Liar loans Chinese style:


Chinese 15 story hotel built in 6 days:


That's impressive construction progress. But I have seen warehouses in the US built in similar time frame as it depends on all components being built at a factory and shipped to the work site for final assembly. That takes a good deal of logistics, and many skilled workers. The hotel project probably had over 1000 workers on site (70 per floor), IMO.

In 1869 the Union Pacific Railroad had a track crew build by hand over 10 miles of new track (nearly 16 km) in one day while constructing the transcontinental RR from Omaha to Sacramento. Same crew worked from dusk to dawn and did not use one single piece of power equipment. This record for track laid was not broken until many years later when mechanized track laying equipment was used.

Yes, those Chinese Rail builders were speedy little Devils back then....I suggest a read.

Nothing Like It In the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869
By Stephen E Ambrose

And they are putting the Americans to shame, 150 years later...A little map for you.


And for the Kiddies....


Rail to the West, was the worst thing that could have been done at the time. Native Americans? Oops. Wildlife and a few million Buffalo? Ooops. 60 million gone in a few years.


The Martian.

That hotel was built with 150mm insulation, how many US hotels, in similar climates, are built like that?


Isn't the US just another Enron too?

Or maybe the USA is just an AIG?

Denninger: Here We Go Again: AIG Part Deux (Ambac)

Once again Tim Geithner is attempting to protect banks by finding ways to pay off their credit default swaps at par while creditors who have a privileged position at the front of the line get screwed - again.

Wisconsin insurance boss Sean Dilweg is clearly toeing the "team player" line set down by Geithner in the collapse of American International Group (AIG), namely always pay the banks and screw the bond holders and the taxpayer...

Not a good day for us Cheeseheads.

I need to read that article. I have trouble believing that an economy which runs huge surpluses can be in trouble. I understand that they worry what will happen if they can't keep the factories rolling since they'll be lots of unemployed, but right now they have the money to cover dislocations for a while. They could draw our debt to them to pay for grains.

Sure, it sucks when anyone loses their job . . . but the person that has millions in the bank doesn't have to worry like the one with a big mortgage.

Edit: I read the article . . . and he's got a point. But I don't think it will be as bad as he thinks though since the Chinese are way too conservative and probably did not buy those houses with lots of leverage. A lot of it is owned in cash.

Over half of it is office space, not houses. And the office space will go un-rented and the houses will go un-bought. And then there are the huge shopping mall, and even whole cities. Everything will just sit empty. Eventually the construction workers will be out of work and the construction companies will go bankrupt. But a lot of the stuff is built with government money. I guess that is one of the reasons they just keep building. The government must supply employment so they just build malls and cities that will likely forever sit empty.

China's Empty City

World's Largest Shopping Mall Like the empty Chinese City the world's largest shopping mall, twice the size of The Mall of America, sits empty. They built it but they didn't come.

And yet they keep building... and building... and building.

Ron P.

Here's an update on Ordos. It may not be as bad as originally presented.

Most of the Chinese borrowed their down payments (illegally and at high rates of interest) to buy one, two, three or more homes and condos. Their real estate is FAR more leveraged than U.S. real estate ever was.

The Chinese economy will either go into a long recession or a sharp depression. Too soon to say which.

I think it is unlikely China will have a long recession or a depression. The Chinese government can and will find incentives for filling empty houses and offices. It is not like there is a surplus of modern housing/offices in China. Most people still live in fairly small and primitive housing. The average Chinese produces more than s/he consumes, so there is a lot of room to engineer a soft landing.

I think the USA is in a much worse position. Americans have been net consumers for decades, and there is no possibility for rational decision-making or long term planing at any level of government.

They could draw our debt to them to pay for grains.

US treasury bonds have very clear and specific payback terms. There is a regular interest payment and a a single repayment of nominal principal at maturity. They are not a credit line and can not be drawn down on.

Neither does it directly impact the US if they sell all their bonds to someone else. In that case, the US Treasury just has to make the same set of payments to the new owner not to China. China would suffer a huge asset loss as this would be a fire sale.

The direct danger that China could pose would come from no longer taking on new US debt, which they have been doing eagerly for for five years or so that people on TOD have been shrieking hysterically about Chine dumping US debt.

I understand that the average maturity of China's US bond portfolio is fairly short, so the US does need massive roll overs of debt. But the reason that China and the US got themselves in this mess hasn't gone away, so it is hard to see any scenario in which China would decide to commit joint economic suicide.

Neither does it directly impact the US if they sell all their bonds to someone else.

I was with you up until that point Jack but on that one you are dead wrong. The secondary market for bonds is of paramount importance. True it doesn't affect the interest or payout on those bonds but it would have a very dramatic effect on interest rates and the value of the dollar.

If China started dumping US debt instruments, en masse, on the open market the bonds would have to be heavily discounted, driving the interest rate through the roof. This would cause all other outstanding US debt instruments to be discounted the same amount. All new issues of our debt instruments would have to reflect this new very high interest rate. And this would also devalue all other bonds, the commercial ones, that are in payable in US dollars.

The effect of a sudden Chinese dumping of their US debt instruments on the open market would be such a blow to the dollar, and to the US economy, it would be very difficult for any recovery, especially at a time when we are already in a deep recession.

Ron P.

I am not dismissing the importance of the secondary markets for US debt and the serious ramifications of a sell off by China. I did say that the real direct problem would be with new issuance of debt, which is made worse by the short average maturities of the Chinese portfolio. I think an inability of the US to borrow would be catastrophic.

But I don't think it as easy as some people imply for China to exercise a claim on their current US debt holdings. Yes, China could try to sell off existing US debt on secondary markets, but it would be hard and costly. They could also stop buying new US debt, but they would have to move a lot of money somewhere else and would destroy their export market. And the heavy discount that you refer to equals Chinese asset losses.

Someone in yesterday's thread asked what might be causing the drop in the price of oil...

Leanan's link above:

"Oil Declines a Fourth Day on China Rate Speculation, Europe Debt Concerns

“Risk is being taken off the table across the entire commodities complex as the dollar gets stronger,” said Carsten Fritsch, an analyst with Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “In such an environment fundamentals such as the sharp drop in crude stockpiles don’t matter.”

(My emphasis)

"Such a sharp drop in crude stockpiles don't matter" when you realize consumption will experience a sharp drop due to the Deflationary Phase-Transition we are currently experiencing.

I see the EIA has just yet again reported a drop in total petroleum stocks of over 1 million barrels per day. WTI jumped 50 cents on the announcement.

Thank you. That explanation is highly plausible and is probably right.

Well we've just bounced three times in quick succession off about $80.50. Interesting to see what happens next.

Why wont the stock market fall with the fall in commodity prices under this scenario?

The stock market will fall too.

Of all that I read on the economic front, I think Stoneleigh at Automatic Earth gets it better than anyone else. Hands down. See her presentation in the upper right corner of their site (or search out her articles if you do not want to pay for the invaluable video).

If real estate is backed out of calculations, I would suggest that inflation is rising in health care, food, energy,higher education, event tickets, stocks, airline ticket prices, and other prices. Real estate inflation was not accounted for in 2002-2006, so real estate deflation can't exist today.

Would someone please advise if anyone has picked up on the article by Phillip Longman, entitled "Think again: Global Aging" which appears in the November 2010 issue of Foreign Policy. If he is population trend is in the ballpark, our crisis related to population growth (climate change, energy scarecity and food/water insecurity) are about to self correct.


Are we looking for solutions to crisis that will no longer exists?


Longman has been blowing that horn for a long time. He's the author of The Empty Cradle, which came out in 2004.

The Foreign Policy article seems a bit short-sighted to me. True, the demographic pyramid is a big problem. If you have a baby glut, eventually you will have a glut of old people (baby boomers). But a steady-state population will eventually find a balance in the demographic age stack.

Per his comments about obesity disabling the elderly and preventing them from working longer, the global obesity epidemic has been caused by one thing only: the ever-increasing availability and pervasiveness of ever-cheaper food. There will indeed be a generational glut of unhealthy obese old people. They may not be able to work as long, but they will also die sooner.

Death will soon be one of the great growth industries. I should remind my children that if they want a secure economic future they should get into the death services industry.

In the post peak oil world (and btw, welcome to the post peak oil world!), the global food supply peaks, food prices rise, take out a much bigger slice of the household budget, and the global obesity epidemic is over as quickly as it started. It may be that the obese among us were the savvy ones all along, they have been storing up body fat in advance of the coming famine.

Two sentences from the second paragraph of the Longman article:

It's true that the world's population overall will increase by roughly one-third over the next 40 years, from 6.9 to 9.1 billion, according to the U.N. Population Division. But this will be a very different kind of population growth than ever before -- driven not by birth rates, which have plummeted around the world, but primarily by an increase in the number of elderly people.

Is it just me, or is that complete nonsense? The overall human population of Earth can't grow by 2.2 billion in 40 years other than by adding that many babies. Can it?

Yes, he gives the impression that people get born into the world, all Benjamin Button-like, as full-on octogenarians.

It's not just you. I almost lost my coffee when I read that sentence. He must think old people can just appear.

I was probably just gullible before but as I grow older I have lost all respect for journalists. As Albert Bartlett says in one of his talks - never let them think for you - do the math yourself.

It's not complete rubbish actually. If you think about a vastly simplified model.

For the population to remain constant over 40 years: You add, say, 4000 million people (100 million born per year x 40 years) at the start of the age continuum and counter them with losing 4000 million people at the other end of the continuum over the same time period (100 million die per year x 40 years).

So you can now see that you can easily disrupt the balance by altering either rate. You can either increase the number of births, or decrease the number of deaths during that 40 year period.

So the equation now becomes: 4000 million added at the start, 2000 million removed at the end - net increase of 2 billion.


Take an island where the life expectancy is 40 years old and people breed at replacement rate. If you increase life expectancy to 70 years old and people continue to have children at replacement rate then there will be a huge increase in population.

Well, it is best to look at today's actual statistics and then estimate what will happen in the next 40 years. However Peak Oil will throw a monkey wrench into all those estimates. Right now there are 2.5 births per every 1 death. That is very likely to change dramatically in the next 10 years. What happens in the next 40 years is anyone's guess but I expect the numbers will be reversed... at least.

World Birth/Death Rates (2009 est.)

Birth Rate: 	  	                Death Rate:
20 births/1,000 population 	  	8 deaths/1,000 population
128.9 million births per year 	  	53.4 million people die each year

Ron P.

Doesn't the birth rate have to equal the death rate? Everybody gets one of each. Total births has been holding steady at 120 million per year. The birth rate is dropping will the total population is increasing. Say a world life expectancy of 75 that means a steady state population of 9 billion. That means the birth rate has to come down to 1/75= 13.3 births per 1000 people.

Doesn't the birth rate have to equal the death rate?

In a word, no. Not while population is growing - the world's gross birth rate has exceeded the gross death rate for a very long time now. Not necessarily while the age mix is changing. Only in the long term, in a steady state, neither growing nor shrinking.

Doesn't the birth rate have to equal the death rate?

Eventually of course it does. But not in any given year, or decade or even century. In fact I doubt that the death rate has equaled or exceeded the birth rate, worldwide, since the days of the Black Death.

But in any given country the death rate has probably exceeded the birth rate many times. Like in China during the Great Leap Forward. Between 1958 and 1961 scholars have estimated the famine victims to between 20 and 43 million.

Ron P.

Clearly the new additions only come in the infant form. However I think
he is saying that the number of younger people isn't expected to increase (they do age out and become middle aged), so that the distribution of ages
will change a lot. Global greying might be a better term for it.

But this will be a very different kind of population growth than ever before -- driven not by birth rates

Driven by what then? Spontaneous generation? That would certainly be different... BTW even if the death rate suddenly drops to zero, the population will only continue to grow if you keep adding more babies. Unless of course we start bringing some people back from the dead.

I expect shorter and not longer life expectancy going forward, especially for the USA.

Economic stress plus the inevitable effects of obesity will lead to more early deaths and fewer "old timers".

Male (not really female) life expectancy in the former Soviet Union may be an example of our future (with fat replacing ethanol and being more gender neutral). -10 to -12 years for men.

Best Hopes for only minor reductions,


Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending November 12, 2010

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.3 million barrels per day during the week ending November 12, 217 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 84.0 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging 8.9 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 4.3 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 7.9 million barrels per day last week, down by 225 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.5 million barrels per day, 64 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 562 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 87 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 7.3 million barrels from the previous week. At 357.6 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 2.7 million barrels last week and are in the upper half of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 1.1 million barrels and are above the upper boundary of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 0.9 million barrels last week and are in the lower half of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 9.1 million barrels last week.

As I warned last night in regards to the earlier API oil inventory report, crude inventories have been plunging over the last two weeks. Total commercial inventories fell a large 9.1 million barrels last week, which by coincidence, which followed a drop of 11.8 mbpd (previously reported in the November 10 report). The API also reported that the two weeks had very similar large drops (they actually had an even larger drop).

Why? Mostly because oil imports are falling – and fast. They were 7.9 mpd of oil imported in the latest week, as compared to the 9.2 mbpd average for all of 2010. Oil product demand has also been holding up rather well, which is confirmed by the EIA and IEA within the last week finally raising their expectations of total 2010 US oil product demand significantly higher.

In regards to the level of imports, you may remember a few months or so ago we discussed here a temporary surge in oil imports – which occurred at the same time it was otherwise reported that offshore tankers were drained of stored crude. After that, oil stored in tankers dropped to a very low level (if we exclude Iranian oil, harbored off the coast of Iran, which has been essentially embargoed).

Before we worry too much as to whether oil exporting countries have suddenly shifted their exports elsewhere in the world, or just kept more for themselves, the tanker tracker Oil Movements expects a pickup of about 300,000 bpd in OPEC exports in the last weeks of the year. Hopefully most of that will land in the US, and not for example, in diesel short China. I say hopefully because if imports into the US do not improve back to at least 9.0 mbpd, we can look forward to some type of supply problem early in the 2011 new year – such as the diesel shortages now sweeping through China.

As if this was not enough bad news, the poor gasoline supply problem in the Northeast US was also confirmed in this report. Northeast gasoline supplies are now 5 million barrels less than last year, a fact obscured by the fact that inventories elsewhere in the country increased by about 4 million barrels. The latest reports indicate that within the past few days the NE supply situation has improved slightly, and there is no imminent threat of supply disruptions to consumers. The Colonial Pipeline, which extends northeast from near the Louisiana Gulf Coast where there are the most extra supplies before terminating in New Jersey, is said to be transporting as much gasoline as possible right now.

I read your comment (and your comments from yesterday) with interest but I find it difficult to understand your concern.

A fall of 9 million barrels last week (with others falls earlier) in comparison to what? 570 million barrels of US Strategic Reserve? These seem like tiny numbers to be concerned about.

I expect that I am simply missing something obvious - perhaps you can help me out?



Have that trend continue for a year. Then see what happens.

Essentially the SPR is locked up for emergencies, especially hurricanes and shipping blockages - although I believe there was a limited use of the SPR just because prices got "too high" a few years or so back.

Even if the SPR oil was released, it would take some time for the oil to travel from storage locations near the Gulf of Mexico by pipeline or tanker, for example, to the Northeast. Then it would still have to be refined into gasoline and diesel.

If your point is that the Government would intentionally allow a shortage to develop - I think not. However a local shortage could appear quite suddenly when supplies are near their minimum operating levels - as they may be for gasoline in the Northeast.

Stockpiles of the fuel were forecast to drop 750,000 barrels, according to the median of 15 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. Gasoline supplies in Padd 1, which includes New York Harbor, the delivery point for the Nymex gasoline contract, sank 0.5 percent to 50.2 million barrels, a two-year low.


The strategic reserve is usually not counted for MOL (min. operating level) purposes. If the MOL is around 270 million barrels, then a one million a day short fall in inventory levels would get to the MOL in around 87 days.

Total commercial inventories fell a large 9.1 million barrels last week, which by coincidence, which followed a drop of 11.8 mbpd (previously reported in the November 10 report).

money coming out of physical black gold.

This weeks net crude and product import value is the lowest since February of 1998. Prices are up $20 a barrel over last year and imports are down 400 kbd.

Because I'm starting a writing project, for the next three months I will not be making any comments on TOD.
Anybody who wants to get in touch with me is more than welcome to send me an e-mail, and I'll reply within 24 hours.

I'll still read TOD, of course, as I've been doing regularly for the past four and a half years.

Hasta la vista.

Good luck on your writing - is that your novel?

Good luck Don !

However if the EU starts shedding parts please consider getting back on line. Perhaps your three month window will be met but I suspect just before life gets really interesting again :)


I suggest that you too write for science fiction magazines for good money. The big two are ANALOG and ISAAC ASIMOVOV'S SCIENCE FICTION MAGAZINE. You can buy copies of these mags at Barnes & Noble.

Research for the novelette, the alternate time track in which Jimmy Carter won the 1980 election goes well.

Europe? Piffle. Who cares about Europe? The death of the Euro is interesting to watch, however.

Take the No. 7 to Secaucus? That’s a Plan

Ever since Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey killed an expensive plan for a new commuter rail tunnel to Manhattan, the Bloomberg administration has been working on an alternative: run the No. 7 subway train under the Hudson River.
The plan envisions the No. 7 stretching from 34th Street on the Far West Side of Manhattan to Secaucus, N.J., where there is a connection to New Jersey Transit trains. It would extend the New York City subway outside the city for the first time, giving New Jersey commuters direct access to Times Square, Grand Central Terminal and Queens, and to almost every line in the system.
Like the project scuttled by Mr. Christie, this proposed tunnel would expand a regional transportation system already operating at capacity and would double the number of trains traveling between the two states during peak hours. It would do so at about half the cost, an estimated $5.3 billion, according to a closely guarded, four-page memorandum circulated by the city’s Hudson Yards Development Corporation.

Electrified transit rail across the Hudson River not quite dead yet?

Wouldn't that be a kick in the pills for Christie?

I didn't know the 7 was going down to Javitz, that's great. Getting that far West was always a weird juggle.. a Secaucus extension sounds like a smart move.

How so? It's not up to just the MTA, it's up to both states - and surely also the all-powerful Port Authority, no? Couldn't Christie just say "no", same as with the project that seems to be cancelled?

Sure, he can say yes or no, it has more to do with whether he has to pay for it, and whether NJ would stand to gain as much from NYC rails as from their own lines serving those commuters. Of course, it seems NJ was still hoping to hang onto (some of?) the Fed'l part of the build monies, which now are being expected back.

That plan makes vastly more sense than the one that got cancelled. Probably too much sense ever to be implemented by politicians who seem to concern themselves with little except glorifying themselves by scrapping over pork.

The Feds undoubtedly already have their undies in a twist for not having their own way with the river crossing (as with the high-speed rail that's not high-speed), so will they take their marbles home and refuse to play? Will the locals be willing and able to stump up for what they consume, any more than with the cancelled project?

One non-rhetorical question: would running the number 7 under the Hudson, to another state, put the entire NY subway under the stifling dead bureaucratic hand of the fusty old Federal Railroad Administration? Does anybody here know? That would be a show-stopper all by itself.

MTA should get a "before the fact" exemption (easy in this administration).

Since there is no exchange with railroads (other than people walking), FRA may not be an issue.

The St. Louis Light Rail line operates in Missouri and Illinois and no issues there AFAIK (and I think I would have heard).

Portland Oregon plans for their light rail to go across the river to Washington and this was not mentioned in a planning document I read.

Best Hopes for Regulation only where appropriate,


The MTA probably has to deal with the FRA anyway, since they operate the Pascack Valley and Port Jervis lines in NY/NJ.

I haven't found details about how the 7 extension would run in NJ -- location of stations, connection to Bergen Hudson Light Rail, alignment of right of way to Secaucus, etc.

However, so far there does not seem to be any push back from the NJ side, but rather either interest or qualified support.

Those lines are traditional railroads, under traditional regulation, so the fusty old-fashioned FRA is no more of a problem than usual. The same would have been true of the cancelled project.

The NYC subway is not a traditional railroad, far from it. Trying to impose FRA "standards" on it after-the-fact would be a never-ending nightmare irrespective of whether some MTA officials normally deal with FRA or not. (The worst nightmare would be to have the project well under way, and then the Feds stop it because after all, rules are rules, so we can never make any exceptions or be reasonable.) So let's hope Alan is right that FRA involvement could be avoided.


PATH is under FRA jurisdiction (at NJ Penn Station it's trains can see Amtrak and some switches can carry one onto the other). Perhaps an odd freight train making a delivery to a customer along what is now the Northeast Corridor. Hoboken too.

FRA requires passenger coaches to withstand 800,000 lbs crush force from the ends without collapsing. PATH has a special exemption for "only" 400,000 lbs.

Best to get these exemptions early.


CASSE (Center for the Advancement of the Steady-State Economy) has just released a report, "Enough is Enough."

You can download the report at their web site, which states: "Enough is Enough is the single most complete collection of policy initiatives, tools, and reforms for an economy that makes enough its goal instead of more."


Lead post at ZeroHedge:

Chris Martenson And James Howard Kunstler Explain How "The World is Going to Get Rounder and Bigger Again"

Typical responses from most of that audience:

"This guy's a moron, go away JHK and take your Malthusian BS with you...."

"Two clowns with the same old mantra."

"Believe it or not, the 3000 mile salad, retail strip malls, and suburban sprawl is still flourishing. With no Peak Oil in sight."

Ignorance is bliss.

Another comment leads to:


The amount of oil seeping into the Gulf of Mexico, at this very moment, emerges from an *ocean* of oil that is almost as large as the Gulf itself! This ocean of oil didn't appear there because it was a giant fish graveyard. It was not a prehistoric jungle 20 miles high and 500 miles wide. This oil is abiotic oil and is produced by geological actions in the earth itself

To misquote Don DeLillo, the internet is the cradle of the world's information.

Clearly the central core of the earth produces oil despite all those issues involving ignition temperatures and so forth.

The oil is infinite. Praise BE the LORD!

Problem is those pesky oil production curves have fallen flat. oh well

I guess the similarity of the branched hydrocarbons in oil to the isoprenoid structure common to life is a coincidence -- a little seed planted by God to confuse the Peak Oil movement.

My response is always that it doesn't matter if oil is abiotic in origin or not: all of our experience to date still suggests that oil only accumulates in commercially useful quantities in specific types of traps. And since the vast majority of those traps are not refilling at a useful rate (if at all), we're still stuck in the situation of looking for new traps. Which are getting harder and harder to find.

Unless and until abiotic theory can successfully predict a new type of reservoir that (a) we can reach and (b) produces at practical rates, it's simply not relevant to the peak oil discussion.

I totally agree with you.

And the repeating polyisoprenoid branched structure is just another coincidence they can gloss over. Minerals templated the chain growth pattern I guess they would say.

The comments section there could really use some moderating. All too often it's like stumbling into an ignorance swap meet.

A couple of the more disgruntled commenters over there are ones that were promptly kicked off of my boards, so their ire is especially piquant.

There are some excellent commenters there too, but the signal to noise sometimes...


I lifted that from Environment Canada:

GOLF TDI DIESEL C 1.9 4 D M5+ 5.6 4.4 50 64

5 speed manual Golf TDi used 5.6 L/100km in the city and 4.4 on the highway. That is 50 and 64 (imperial) mpg. Should be around 42 mpg city and almost 53 mpg highway in US gallons. Can Prius beat it? Which one would you want to drive. Fahrvergnugen or, well, tires designed for fuel efficiency. BTW This is a 2000 year model.

I have a beater 2000 VW Golf TDI and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I also have a 2001 VW Jetta TDI that I rarely drive because I love the Golf so much. The TDI engine is reliable, frugal and easy to work on. The timing belt is fairly easy to change as long as you get what used to be VagCom software so the timing can be adjusted after the belt is installed.

The A4 models up til the mid 2000s have Bosch injector pumps that can be dismantled and repaired and that can use biodiesel or vegetable oil. They are mostly mechanical but have electronic control over injection quantities and advance. The 2009 and up models have piezo electric injection systems that use a high pressure rail and then squirt fuel in much like Epson printers but under incredibly high pressure. These may be able to work with biodiesel but I doubt they will work with higher viscosity oils. Don't even ask how much replacement injectors cost.

One thing to avoid like the plague with the 2000 era TDIs is the automatic transmission. It was one of the worst ever built. It may go 70,000 miles if you're unlucky or 150,000 if Irish eyes are smiling. But the bad news is that rebuilding them isn't effective because they often fail due to internal cracks in the case. Moral: get a stick shift. Clutches are a lot cheaper than a new automatic transmission. And a worn clutch gives lots of warning.

The interior of the VWs remains pretty dicey. Stuff breaks and it's expensive to replace. But the engine, drive train, suspension and frame are very sturdy and pretty easy to maintain. I can live with a broken glove compartment door.

My actual mileage around town is 40 to 42. That's driving with no thought to economy. On the road I may get 45 but more likely I get 43. The upper end numbers of 50+ I've never seen in any of the three TDIs I've owned.

For me an important reason to have a diesel is that petrodiesel fuel has a great shelf life - I keep a 200 gallon tank of it as a reserve. Just remember to treat it with a lubricant and biocide at the time you fill the tank. The lubricant (Stanodyne Junior is great) serves to lubricate the injector pump internals. The new low sulphur fuel is much "dryer" than before and the pump relies totally on the fuel for lubrication.

But the main reason I have the TDI is that I just love driving it around. The engine is noisier than its gas counterpart but I find it pleasant. The acceleration is great and, if not enough, can be upped by buying some larger fuel injector heads. Or you can get better economy by getting smaller injectors.

With a manual transmission and proper care one can reasonably expect 300,000 miles and possibly more. My Jetta has 200,000 and absolutely runs like a new car. No oil burnt at the 10,000 mile interval.

Golfs are very hard to find in the US but the Beetle sits on the Golf frame (or so I'm told). Jettas and Beetles are easier to locate. MPG is about the same for all of them. The Beetle may get a bit better MPG because of its shape.

I think the 2000 vintage VW TDIs are a very good investment even at their currently inflated prices. I would expect to pay $7000 for a 2001 Jetta with 150,000 miles. Unless it comes with a written receipt showing when the last timing belt was installed, I would get it changed immediately. The engine is badly damaged when the belt breaks. At a minimum I'd have to do head work and you may have damaged connecting rod bearings.

If the turbo vanes stick I get under the car, take off three nuts, drop the exhaust line and squirt Easy Off up into the turbo housing. I rinse it out ten minutes later with a garden hose, start up the car to blow the water out of turbo and then reassemble. Works like a charm and saves a $1500 repair bill with the dealer (who will change out the exhaust manifold and turbo).

One caveat. If you don't do your own work you're liable to be socked with very expensive repair costs. The TDI is a rarity in the US and there aren't many dealerships or private servicers who know how to deal with it. If you are willing to suffer the learning curve required to do you own work the cost is quite reasonable. And prepare to get really, really dirty when you do - diesels are soot monsters.

It is such a tiny car. I'd rather ride my bike. LOL At least I get some exercise ;-D

Depends. After 70K miles I'd bet on the Prius.

I've gone Full Slack-Jaw at the long piece of propaganda in today's NYT, by Clifford Krauss. To consider that the NYT barely even mentioned the IEA report this past week, save to shuffle it off to a quiet corner in a plain vanilla blog posting, makes for a package deal. I'm amazed. And frankly I thought I'd gotten over being amazed. The past 18 months have seen a relentless, one-way take on oil depletion and the liquid fuels problem from the NYT. You can even spot the craft in this piece, as Twilight In the Desert is invoked as a fallen tome, now relegated to the remainder table. Fact free prose pieces like this have become the trademark of the NYT, an approach they have never brought to other data-rich fields like Education Policy, Medicine, Science, and Demographics. Alot of what's going on here is generational. The class of people who are in the policy, media, and even academic leadership positions appear to be truly unequipped to handle the scale and scope of large systems. In the same way the financial class never saw that debt saturation was being reached, nor did economists then or even now understand that fact, we see the same with the problem with global liquid fuels. But, this is all known now, and rather boring I suppose. Perhaps it's a good sign personally, however, that I can still be gob-smacked (now and then) by the swill that pours forth from the media.


They have benefited tremendously from debt and oil, and so they cannot imagine that those things won't be there for their emperor children, whose presumed destiny is to continue American rule over the world, forever.

Re: BP North Sea gas field shut down over Iran

It is capable of producing up to 5.9 million cubic meters of gas per day.

Last year, during the UK gas balancing alerts, a loss of almost 6 mcm/day would have been significant. Will the UK call another GBA with that field remaining shut down if things get really tight? Hope the Norwegians have got some of the gremlins on the Langeled pipeline supply to the UK sorted out for this winter.

It's looking good for now.

U.K. Natural Gas Declines as Supplies From Norway, Storage Sites Increase

U.K. natural gas contracts declined amid increased deliveries from Norway and continued flows from underground storage sites.

The Langeled pipeline was importing about 62 million cubic meters of gas at 9 a.m. London time, National Grid Plc data show. That’s higher than flows late yesterday. Norway is the biggest foreign supplier to Britain.

I've got my fingers crossed but I already have a 10% rise in my domestic gas cost from December 1st.

It's looking good for now.

Ya think?

I monitor the long term gas storage on a daily basis. Last year, 2009, we only avoided running out completely by shutting off large users.

This year we are starting the cold part of the year with stocks well below 2009.


Let's hope for a warm winter!

Barry Ritholtz has two excellent articles posted today:

GM IPO marks the Top of this bull rally?

Déjà Vu All Over Again?

The last IPO that was as widely anticipated as the current GM offering was Visa (V), which filed in late 2007 and priced in early 2008. It was a veritable bell-ringer at the top of the market...

Warren Buffett unmasked, turns out to be a Financial Troglodyte ?

Dear Uncle Sucker . . .

(Buffett's) OpEd in the NYT today – Pretty Good for Government Work – paints an artificially rosy picture of the Bailout, ignores the negatives, and omits his own financial interest in government actions.

What might he have written if Sir Warren was dosed with some sodium pentothal before he sat down to pen that “Thank you” letter? It might have gone something like this:
DEAR Uncle Sam Sucker,

I was about to send you a thank you note for bailing out the economy...

New revelations in ammonia synthesis

Scientists at the University of Cambridge are working on ways to improve the efficiency of the ammonia synthesis process. With between 3-5% of the world's natural gas used to create artificial fertilizers, the new research could have major implications for both the agricultural and energy sectors.

...3-5% of the world's natural gas production referred to earlier is consumed in the Haber-Bosch process, amounting to around 1-2% of the world's man-made energy(N.G.?) supply.

Experts: rare earths headed for 2011 supply crunch

Global demand for the increasingly important "rare earth" minerals that power a range of digital products could outstrip supply by next year as dominant producer China slashes exports, analysts warn.

"We have a classic supply and demand crisis. Under normal conditions the global demand exceeds supply in about 2011," Professor Brent McInnes from Curtin University in Western Australia told an online briefing last week.

"In 2016, it's quite evident that the Chinese demand itself will exceed the global supply of rare earth elements."

I guess that the headline "Oil Output Likely Peaked in 2006, Will Be Replaced by Biofuels, IEA Says" is either shorter or more palatable than the truth. Most of us regular readers on TOD know that, scaling biofuel production up to millions of barrels per day is going to be a slight challenge.

Curiously, the quoted text says that the Fatih Birol "says" something completely different:

and increasing demand will have to be met from more-difficult-to-extract forms of oil such as tar sands, International Energy Agency Chief Economist Fatih Birol said.

Of course I expect that fellow regular readers of this site know that according to the following graph in the first article here on the subject of the WEO, the headline should have read "Oil Output Likely Peaked in 2006, Will Be Replaced by oil fields yet to be developed or found, IEA Says".

Alan from the islands

Isn't that chart a Marvel ?
Conventional crude oil production predicted to follow a perfect-horizontal-lineal-straight line for the next 25 years..........

Couldn't they at least slant that COP curve a tiny bit down and add a little bit more of that orange stuff .... in order to add some to their cred?

Re: In the Heartland, Still Investing in Coal

I suspect that one of the nasty political fights that will eventually happen in the US will be over the federal government banning (or levying a large tax on) states burning their own coal to generate their own power. At the modest rate that Wyoming burns coal for its own electricity (modest overall, not per-capita), it has reserves to last centuries, and makes a correspondingly modest annual addition to atmospheric CO2 levels. In some sense, the "problem" is that Nebraska and Iowa and Indiana and Ohio also burn lots of Wyoming coal.

There are energy-rich parts of the US and energy-poor ones, and those don't necessary align with population, wealth, or political power. I think the relationships could get strained, to say the least.

Would that imply that Wyoming stop exporting both coal and electricity? I recently read that Iowa would be better off by using much more of the ethanol we produce at home instead of importing petroleum products. The same with our wind resources. Unfortunately we are saddled with that pesky US dollar as our legal tender and that burdensome US Constitution with that oppressive interstate commerce clause. Neither Wyoming nor Iowa can ban the export of any of its products nor ban the import of any products from other states. Just today I imported goods bought at a Walmart in north Missouri to my home just across the line in Iowa. Nobody at the state border bothered to inspect my car for those cheaper smokes my wife is addicted to nor the ethanol free gasoline in my tank. Isn't freedom an obstacle to good energy policy?

I have been recording UK oil production from the DECC statistics of daily production averaged over the previous 12 months. The figures in mbpd are:

Mar 2010: 1.331
Apr 2010: 1.320
May 2010: 1.303
Jun 2010: 1.239
Jul 2010: 1.211

That is a decline in production of 9% over four months.

You cannot tell much by month to month declines because summer is maintenance season in the North Sea. Only year over year averages have any real meaning.

UK production in thousands of barrels per day, C+C, according to the EIA and percent change from previous year.

1999	2,684	
2000	2,275 -15.24%
2001	2,282	0.32%
2002	2,292	0.41%
2003	2,093  -8.66%
2004	1,845 -11.84%
2005	1,649 -10.66%
2006	1,490  -9.61%
2007	1,498	0.52%
2008	1,391  -7.12%
2009	1,328  -4.57%
2010	1,293  -2.62% Average for first eight months.

Average change 
since 1999     -6.28%

Ron P.

The 10 year exponential decline rate from 1999 to 2009 was 7%/year, which is of course evident in the numbers (the Rule of 72).

Looks like a typical decline curve, but could some of that drop be due to maintenance or platform equipment problems?

UK North Sea production decline is still better than the oil wells in the Bakken (US) formation where typical wells drop 20 to 40% per year.

Spec's EV ramblings . . .

The Volt is on a roll. It won MotorTrend's car of the year and Automobile Magazine's Automobile of the year. And it is ready to roll except for an EPA sticker. Go GM!

Nissan Will Sell 500,000 Electric Cars a Year by 2013, Says Chief

Woah, there big fellow. Take it easy. You've had a great success by selling out your first batch of 20,000 Leaf's. But let's not get ahead of ourselves now.

I think 100,000 of those Leafs are now in purchase agreements already. so they are closing in on 500,000 but I wonder if that is pent up demand for the electric car?

Can that pace keep up in the longer term.

UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security (ITPOES)

Latest from the Taskforce

On 18th November 2010, seven UK companies - Arup, Buro Happold, Kingfisher, Scottish and Southern Energy, Solarcentury, Stagecoach Group and Virgin - joined together to launch a briefing note titled ‘Peak Oil - Implications of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill’. Download the briefing note here.

It highlights the increasing importance of deepwater drilling to global oil supply which is expected to constitute 29 per cent of new capacity by 2015, up from only 5 per cent today. The result is that any future delays or problems associated with deepwater drilling will have much greater impact on supply than is the case today.

The Taskforce warns that more urgent action is needed from Government to address the threat of peak oil following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. It urges the UK Coalition Government to take action to reduce the impact of the oil crunch by 2015.

This is secret code for get out of our way even if another Gulf Oil spill takes place. Kind of sad in a way watching the industry act like a hackled up rapid old dog. Touch me and I will bit your head off.

Another oil price spike would decimate the airlines all over again.

Regarding the top article on Brazil's huge offshore oil projects. If I understand it correctly, the world has to wait until the year 2020 for Brazil's Petrobas to export 800k barrels a day? From all the talk about Brazil's pre-salt, sub-salt, please pass the salt, I thought the numbers would have been more like 4-5 mbd in exports by 2015, not 800kpd by 2020. Doesn't sound like a game changer, but it will certainly keep Brazil fueled up and help their economy.

Earl - glad you brought the thread back up. I was about to respond to the list abundance tossed out (BTW...thanks abundance...it's really adding up). The URR numbers are truly amazing. I had done a little work in DW Brazil before Devon called it quits down there. The geology is so amazingly simple: like west Texas in the 50's but we have 21st century tech to chase it. It really is like shooting fish in a barrel.

But back to my counter which you brought back up: PO is not about the URR left to be discovered or produced. It's the rate at which those reserves will be recovered. There were exploration models showing huge potential for DW Brazil decades before the first discovery was drilled. Just like DW GOM. It just took decades and rising prices to develop the tech to drill and produce in these water depths. I have no problem accepting the abundance numbers nor the expectation that more will be discovered. But the complications: using a generic ball park number is will costs around $600 billion to $1.2 trillion to bring just this list to production. Certainly doable but the question remains: at what rate can these fields be brought on. In addition to capex limits there are only so many hands and so many companies available to do the work.

Not the URR models aren't interesting. I even enjoys Web's astute ramblings. But at the end of the day I don't care much about URR. The models I long to see are realistic time based projections on when these known and "unknown" discoveries will come on line and at what rate. That model is what will represent the our, and the rest of the globe's, economic health. That's the driving issue behind understanding PO IMHO. Not the reserve numbers, not the geology, not the projection of future URR. Whether 40 billion or 400 billion bbls of oil are produced from DW Brazil is of little interest to me. We need the discovery models and URR models but only to the extent that they are part of the FRM - Future Rate Model. I've seen many qualitative expressions of future production rates. But not a complete fact based FRM. That number will have a bearing on the life my 10 yo daughter has in store for her. That's the unknown that consumes my thoughts. I don't worry about myself: at 59 yo PO will only serve to fatten my retirement package.

As Mr. Carvel pointed out during President Clinton's campaign: It's the economy, stupid. The tech issues surrounding PO are interesting aspects of the discussion. But they are not the answers IMHO. Just stepping stones along the path to the answer. It's the changing economic impact as supply and demand vary over the next few decades and how we respond to those changes. That will determine the quality of life on this planet...not how much oil sits under 7,000' of water off the coast of Brazil.

PO is not about the URR left to be discovered or produced. It's the rate at which those reserves will be recovered.

Good point - I suppose that will be the tale of the tape. Wish I had a better understanding of the tech side of oil, but maybe in time more will rub off on me here on TOD.

Also thanks to Nordic_mist's information.

It's the changing economic impact ... over the next few decades and how we respond to those changes. "That" will determine the quality of life on this planet...not how much oil sits under 7,000' of water off the coast of Brazil.

Just listened to a C-SPAN replay of US Congressman Roscoe Bartlett ranting about Peak Oil during Wednesday's hearings on Climate Change.

His off-topic rant came in the midst of one panelist on the experts' table explaining that all the fish in the sea are going to die (and 1 Billion people will then die off) if we let "Baby" keep pushing against the tipping point car at the edge of the cliff.

The bottom line is that "economics" is not the only consideration.

What good is it to have our monkey's fist grasped tightly around the wad of cash in the coconut when the Climate Change Reaper is stepping ever surely our way with scythe in hand?
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You are confusing Petrobras and Brazil. There is a lot of production in Brazil that is not Petrobras.

"He said that figure referred only to the company's own production and did not take into account volumes produced by partners in the subsalt region, which include Britain's BG (BG.L) and Portugal's GALP (GALP.LS)."

In addition there are the fields that have no Petrobras involvment such as the OGX fields.