Drumbeat: December 17, 2010

Russia fully replaced oil and gas reserves-ministry

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia, the world's top energy exporter, fully replaced its oil and gas reserves in 2010 despite extracting crude at a record-high speed, a federal agency of the Natural Resources Ministry said on Friday.

Rosnedra said according to preliminary estimates, oil and condensate reserves grew by 750 million tonnes this year due to oil companies' own exploration efforts, while gas reserves increased by 810 billion cubic metres.

Fuel Consumption Surged 6.5% to 20 Million Barrels a Day in U.S., API Says

U.S. fuel consumption jumped in November from a year earlier, a signal that the U.S. economy is rebounding, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

Total deliveries of petroleum products, a measure of demand, climbed 6.5 percent to 20 million barrels a day last month, the industry-funded group said today in a report. Consumption during the first 11 months of 2010 climbed 2.4 percent to 19.2 million barrels a day.

Millions facing fuel rationing over Christmas as heating oil runs low

An estimated two million homes, schools and hospitals face fuel rationing over Christmas after MPs warned that supplies of heating oil would hit "crisis" point during the cold snap.

As snow began falling again across the country, the Government confirmed that the situation could become “very serious,” with some households already facing waits of up to four weeks before they can receive supplies.

UK: Government Denies Heating Oil 'Crisis'

As the temperature drops and concerns over heating oil supplies grow, the Government has said it will relax the laws governing drivers' hours to give them more time to make crucial deliveries.

Elderly at risk as money for heating help runs out

Concerns are mounting that the icy conditions will have a devastating effect on those suffering from fuel poverty, especially the elderly, following yesterday's revelation that the Warm Front fund, which helps people with heating and insulation, would not take on any more cases until next April.With many of the big energy providers having already hiked up their prices, the immediate future looks bleak, with forecasters predicting that December temperatures will be as vicious as November, Europe's coldest on record.

As Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne announced this year's budget for Warm Front was fully allocated, a spokeswoman for Age UK said it was "disastrous" for those who would normally have turned to the scheme for help.

Argentina’s YPF Imports Fuel to Offset Shortages, Cronista Says

Repsol YPF SA’s Argentine unit will import fuel for the second time this year as a union strike leads to shortages, newspaper El Cronista reported, citing analysts which it didn’t identify.

A labor conflict in the southern Argentine provinces of Chubut and Santa Cruz cut the supply of crude oil to refineries, the Buenos Aires-based newspaper reported.

Shell sorry for second fuel shortage

Shell Australia has apologised after Perth customers have been hit by second fuel shortage in as many weeks.

The company said it had experienced persistent problems meeting high customer demand from local supply.

China’s December Fuel Oil Imports May Drop 4%, C1 Energy Says

China’s fuel oil imports may drop 4 percent in December from a month earlier, commodity researcher C1 Energy said.

The country’s fuel oil imports may drop to 1.54 million metric tons from an estimated 1.6 million tons in November, the Shanghai-based company said in an e-mailed report today.

British Airways increases long-haul fuel surcharge

LONDON (AP) — British Airways PLC is increasing its fuel surcharge on long-haul flights for the first time in more than two years because of recent oil price rises.

Oil bull sees hyperinflation — and a coming China crunch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Oil has been twitching, but a long-time oil bull is positively convulsive.

Actually, under Byron King’s editorship, Outstanding Investments has been somewhat less outspokenly apocalyptical about The Coming Energy Crisis.

Analysis: A Healthier 2011 for the Energy Industry?

Despite the Gulf of Mexico moratorium, IHS reported seeing a healthier growth outlook for the energy industry in 2011 thanks to rising oil prices, unconventional North American drilling and multiple offshore opportunities worldwide.

PUC tells PG&E to cut pressure on natural gas pipes

SAN FRANCISCO -- State regulators ordered Pacific Gas and Electric Co. on Thursday to cut pressure on large, urban natural gas transmission pipelines with the type of weld being looked at closely in the investigation into the disastrous San Bruno explosion.

Despite green talk, crude is still king in Norway

Doomsayers fearing an early end to Norway’s staggering petro-wealth — with its trunk lines to Europe’s gas grid — are being drowned out these days by cries over power bills and trumpeting over record-high investments in offshore oil fields.

Pemex Sees Debt Soaring to Record $56 Billion in 2011

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos, Latin America’s largest oil producer, said debt may rise to a record $56 billion next year as it boosts spending to stem output declines.

Chevron Says Documents Show Ecuador Plaintiffs Worked With Government

A nagging question has always been at the center of crusading attorney Steven Donziger’s $100 billion lawsuit against Chevron over pollution in the Ecuadorean jungle: Why isn’t he suing the government of Ecuador? While Chevron’s Texaco unit operated the wells until 1990, Petroecuador, the state-owned oil company, was majority owner for most of that time and took over operations after Texaco left the country. If shoddy drilling practices have poisoned tens of thousands of Ecuadoreans, as Donziger alleges, surely the owner of the business should bear some of the blame.

Nigeria drops case against former US VP Cheney

LAGOS, Nigeria — A spokesman for Nigeria's antigraft body says they have dropped charges against former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and his former company Halliburton.

Ethanol Subsidy Support Running On Empty

At a time when U.S. gasoline consumption has actually dropped, the agency has refused to provide relief from federally mandated renewable fuel consumption quotas and has raised the allowable blend from 10% to 15% for late-model cars--effectively maxing out ethanol production capacity.

Why Kenya must develop a long-term energy plan

Today, almost 20 million Kenyans have cell phones. Computers are becoming the way of life, while TVs, fridges, and other household devices have become products people cannot live without.

More homes are getting connected with electricity supply.

At this rate, household power consumption will end up sucking dry all the energy from the national grid.

Object shot out of sky above Israeli nuclear plant, military says

Jerusalem (CNN) -- The Israeli Air Force shot down an unidentified flying object over the Dimona nuclear plant in the Negev Desert Thursday, the Israel Defense Forces said.

High-speed rail derails in Wisconsin

The loss of a total of $810 million in high-speed rail funds in Wisconsin means the promise of thousands of new jobs will not be realized.

John Michael Greer: Two lessons in practical ecology

Food storage is a subject that calls up strong and often contradictory emotions, and sometimes inspires actions that don’t necessarily make much sense. Rumors are flying just now in some corners of the peak oil community, for example, that the sales freeze-dried food has spiked so sharply in recent months that suppliers are unable to keep up with the demand. This may well be true, but if so, it shows a certain lack of common sense; unless you plan on living out of a backpack during a financial crash – and this is arguably not a good idea – there are many better and cheaper ways to make sure you have some food put by to cope with breaks in the supply chain.

Inequality and Economic Collapses

"Inequality, Leverage and Crises," an IMF paper written by Michael Kumhof and Romain Rancière, is full of long equations populated by many Greek letters. I won't even pretend that I can evaluate it. However, their introduction is pretty easy to understand: they've constructed a simple model for financial crises that essentially proposes the following narrative: (a) growing inequality produces less money for the middle class and more money for the rich, (b) the rich loan much of this money back to the middle class so they can continue to improve their living standards even with stagnant incomes, (c) the financial sector balloons to mediate all this, and (d) the system eventually collapses since, after all, this kind of thing can't last forever.

The Energy Future Ain’t What It Used To Be

The price of natural gas and electricity will be low over the next quarter-century, and crude oil will become more expensive but not radically so, the Energy Department predicted on Thursday, in a report that contradicts widely held notions.

And even without a national global warming law, American carbon dioxide emissions will not inexorably set new records; they will stay below the rate of 2005 for the next 15 years because of economic forces, the forecast said.

Fuel for thought

Last month Bahrain’s oil minister urged an immediate rethink of the country’s fuel price structure, in a bid to put a halt to soaring government subsidies, implement a system of “fair prices”, and stop over-consumption.

“Fuel subsidies will continue to soar, exceeding their present level of $500 million per annum,” warned Abdulhussain Mirza, adding that the prices of some oil products on the local market dated back to 1983 levels.

While Bahrain residents have been paying bottom dollar on the forecourt, the government has been picking up the tab for close to three decades – and it’s a story replicated across the region.

Crude Trades Near Two-Week Low as Equities Slip, Dulling Demand Optimism

Oil fell to trade near its lowest price in two weeks as retreating equity indexes countered signs that the economic recovery is eroding surplus fuel inventories.

...“The physical market is tightening a little bit with the colder temperatures,” said Tobias Merath, head of commodities at Credit Suisse Group in Zurich. “But looking further into the future, inventories are still high, so I don’t know much further upside there is. Prices will remain around $90.”

Oil May Fall on Speculation of Gain in U.S. Crude Supplies, Survey Shows

Oil may decline next week on speculation that the U.S. Energy Department will report an increase in supplies after the biggest drop in more than eight years in this week’s data.

OPEC exports to rise in 4 weeks to Jan 1 - analyst

Seaborne oil exports by OPEC, excluding Angola and Ecuador, will rise by 70,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the four weeks to January 1, an analyst who estimates future shipments said on Thursday.

Exports from the group will rise to 23.46 million bpd on average from 23.39 million bpd in the four weeks to December 4, UK consultancy Oil Movements said in its latest weekly estimate.

Hedging Gas Tumbles to 30% of Production as Prices Slump

Natural gas companies are slashing their hedging of future output as prices tumble, raising the prospect of declines in drilling and production.

Sell December 2011 U.S. Oil Futures on Refining `Overkill,' JPMorgan Says

Investors should sell West Texas Intermediate crude for December 2011 and buy Brent contracts for the same month as the discount of New York futures to the London benchmark widens, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Steve LeVine: Big Oil's big optimism

Oil prices are up today, another apparent notch in the belt of conventional wisdom, which is that we are on the way to another historic price spike -- $200 to $300 a barrel and $5 a gallon at the U.S. pump. The way this narrative goes is that these sky-high prices finally so aggravate U.S. consumers that they act on them: switching for good to hybrids and other high-mileage cars, weather-protecting their homes and buildings, and generally using much, much less oil. On the other side of all this, a decade or a bit more from now, we get a long, slow decline in global oil demand, paradise, and other fine things.

But is this valid? Not necessarily, if one considers a pair of reports out today from Barclays Capital, the research arm of the investment bank.

Total Pays $1.7 Billion for Stakes in Suncor Canadian Oil-Sands Projects

Total SA, Europe’s third-biggest oil producer, bought stakes in oil sands developments in Alberta from Suncor Energy Inc. for C$1.75 billion ($1.74 billion), as it seeks out unconventional crude sources to sustain output.

Suncor Energy unveils ten-year growth plan

BANGALORE (Reuters) - Suncor Energy Inc, Canada's biggest energy company, unveiled its ten-year growth strategy on Friday, which includes increasing production to more than 1 million barrels of oil equivalent per day by 2020.

Over the next ten years, Suncor said it is targeting oil sands production growth of about 10 percent and company-wide production growth of about 8 percent each per year.

Turkey's Refiners Prepare for Switch to Lower Sulfur Diesel Fuel Jan. 1

Turkey’s refiners will have to produce cleaner diesel fuel as the country switches to a lower sulfur grade from Jan. 1, potentially reducing demand for imports from Russia.

China extends sales tax to new areas

China has extended its resource tax on domestic sales of crude oil and natural gas to 12 western regions and provinces, a government official said today.

Sinopec finds industrial gas flows in China shale

(Reuters) - Sinopec Corp has struck industrial gas flows from an exploration well in shale reservoirs in central China, in the state oil firm's early experiments with the unconventional gas resource.

Statoil finds more oil in Brazil

STAVANGER, Norway (UPI) -- Norwegian energy company Statoil announced that it struck oil at a shallow-water basin about 90 miles from the Brazilian coastline.

Statoil said it encountered an oil reservoir that was about 230 feet thick in the Espirito Santo Basin off the coast of Brazil. Analysis indicates the prospect contains medium crude oil.

Cyprus, Israel define sea border for energy search

NICOSIA (AFP) – Cyprus and Israel signed an agreement Friday that defines their sea border and allows the neighbours to forge ahead in the search for energy sources in the eastern Mediterranean.

Russia Min: Plans To Keep Oil Output About 500 Million Tons/Year For Decade

MOSCOW -(Dow Jones)- Russia plans to keep its annual oil production at around 500 million tons a year over the next 10 years, Russian Energy Minister Sergey Shmatko said Friday.

Russia: No Immediate Risk Of Removing ExxonMobil As Sakhalin-1 Operator

MOSCOW -(Dow Jones)- Russia isn't currently looking at the possibility of removing ExxonMobil Corp. as operator of the Sakhalin-1 project on Russia's Pacific coast, the country's Energy Minister Sergey Shmatko said Friday.

Russia, China mull joint energy projects worldwide

(AP:MOSCOW) Moscow and Beijing will discuss joint energy ventures in third countries next year and are will likely strike a deal to export Russian natural gas to the energy-hungry Asian neighbor, an official said Friday.

Russia is the world's biggest energy producer and China is the world's largest energy consumer, overtaking the United States last year. "That is a market that guarantees exports of our resources for decades," energy minister Sergei Shmatko said.

Minsk and Moscow still battling over prices

Russia and Belarus are still in talks over the price of Russian natural gas deliveries to Belarus next year, Belarus' Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov said at a meeting with ministers today.

Anti-Morales governor removed in Bolivia

LA PAZ, Bolivia – Lawmakers in a natural gas-rich eastern province removed its governor — a key opponent of leftist President Evo Morales — on Thursday after he was charged with dereliction of duty and causing economic damage.

Massey Said to Consider Takeover of International Coal, May Sell Company

Massey Energy Co., owner of the Upper Big Branch mine where 29 people died in April, is studying options ranging from a sale of the company to a takeover of Wilbur Ross’s International Coal Group Inc., according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

Records Show Concerns About Another BP Rig

WASHINGTON — Months before the BP disaster, some Congressional officials were pressing federal regulators behind the scenes about numerous safety concerns related to offshore drilling, potential oil spills and BP itself, but they complained that they were rebuffed, previously undisclosed documents show.

Congressional officials raised particular concerns about the safety of a second BP oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico and about regulators’ failure to spend millions of dollars approved for oil spill research, among other issues, according to e-mails between Congressional officials and regulators at the Minerals Management Service, as the agency was then known.

BP investors spooked by oil spill lawsuit

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil major BP was the biggest faller on Britain's blue-chip board on Thursday, as investors fretted that a U.S. government lawsuit might mean the cost of its oil spill will be far higher than predicted.

Legal experts have said BP's $40 billion estimate for the total cost of the oil spill -- hitherto largely accepted by financial analysts -- could double if the U.S. government managed to convince a court that BP had been grossly negligent.

Transocean rejects responsibility in US oil disaster

ZURICH (AFP) – Offshore drilling group Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon platform that sank off the southern US coast, on Thursday rejected any responsibility for the subsquent giant oil spill.

Almost no oil recovered from sand berms

NEW ORLEANS – The big set of sand barriers erected by Louisiana's governor to protect the coastline at the height of the Gulf oil spill was criticized by a presidential commission Thursday as a colossal, $200 million waste of BP's money so far.

Precious little oil ever washed up on the berms, according to the commission — a finding corroborated by a log of oil sightings and other government documents obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request.

Pipes, pumps trouble Big Easy

As with many other cities, New Orleans' aging infrastructure is low on the priority list in Washington, he says. "When the city is sitting on age-old infrastructure, something's going to give. That's true around the country," Landrieu says. "Congress and the federal government have not made it a priority. We're falling very, very far behind."

More than 1,000 aging water and sewer systems around the country need urgent upgrades, says Ken Kirk, executive director of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies. With the passing of the Clean Water Act in 1972, the federal government once paid about 75% of a municipality's upkeep of water and sewer treatment systems, Kirk says. Today, that number is closer to 3%, he says.

Dominican citizenships put into doubt

The constitutional change came two weeks after the earthquake in Haiti, which makes up the western portion of the island of Hispaniola. The Dominican Republic is on the eastern portion. The change denies citizenship to children born to undocumented residents.

..."We are a country of limited resources," says Prim Pujals Nolasco, chairman of the Senate foreign affairs and international cooperation committee.

Oil or Terrorism: Which Motivates U.S. Policy More?

The Great Game is still in full swing. “Since the U.S.-led offensive that ousted the Taliban from power, the project has been revived and drawn strong U.S. support” reported the Associated Press in 2005. “The pipeline would allow formerly Soviet Central Asian nations to export rich energy resources without relying on Russian routes. The project’s main sponsor is the Asian Development Bank” – in which the United States is the largest shareholder alongside Japan. It so happens that the southern section of the proposed pipeline runs through territory still under de facto Taliban control, where NATO war efforts are focused.

Other evidence demonstrates that control of the world’s strategic energy reserves has always been a key factor in the direction of the “War on Terror”. For instance, the April 2001 study commissioned by then-Vice President Dick Cheney confirmed official fears of an impending global oil supply crunch, energy shortages, and “the need for military intervention” in the Middle East to maintain stability.

Why electricity bills may go up with or without Huhne’s reforms

The facts are that we don’t know when oil and gas reserves will start to run out; peak oil may or may not be only decades away. Exploitation will become more and more risky in some of the world’s most politically unstable countries. “We don’t want to be in hoc to these sorts of markets,” Huhne pointed out.

Leave aside the issue of global warming, which often over-dominates the debate. The idea that we will be able to buy gas and oil in 2030 at the same price as today - in real terms - is utterly complacent. Is it time for the media to reflect that more prominently?

New Zealand: Big changes needed for survival

We are trapped in a very complex civilisation that is rapidly losing the sources of energy and numerous other raw materials that built and maintained it.

To continue with growth as we have been doing is not only foolhardy but unsustainable.

Past Tense: Farmers had to adjust their thinking when coal-fired threshing machines arrived

The threshing machine seen here is obviously belching out profuse amounts of smelly smoke, and with our current attitudes about the pollution and carbon emissions from coal-fired machinery, this thing looks like a monstrosity. I have heard of a farm in western Michigan that advertises it raises crops solely with horse-drawn equipment, and there are plenty of buyers ready and willing to pay for food raised without gasoline or coal on the farm.

In 1925, farmers were not worried about carbon emissions, asthma or lung disease. They realized they could grow a lot more corn or soybeans with a lot less laborious hand work, and the farmers said "yippee," or the 1925 equivalent.

Getting Serious About Renewable Energy

The planet is facing a looming energy crisis. Our global energy needs are estimated to increase more than 50 percent by 2030, as the world’s population continues to increase to 10 billion by 2050. Time is running out for us to work out how we should bridge the resources gap between our ever-growing energy needs and the dwindling and increasingly costly supply from conventional sources.

Wealth Is No Protection Against Future Dangers - Part 1

Only a few people are willing to examine the future in a comprehensive way, nevertheless we are going to experience a wide range of increasing threats if we ignore them. World societies must start tackling them simultaneously for our children sake. One reason there's little demands to effectively deal with those threats is that many people perceive that societies are incapable of solving problems of such magnitude. They also feel personally powerless to do much about it.

Mercedes-Benz Electrifies Its Future

The automobile, as we know it, is dead. So claimed Mercedes-Benz this past week in Valencia, Spain, as it presented its current crop of electrified cars to the world's motoring press. Why dead? According to Mercedes, in a mere 40 years, only 5% of its lineup will feature just an internal combustion engine. Don't forget: Aside from making such pulse-quickeners as the E63 AMG, Mercedes also makes Unimogs, city buses, and long-haul big rigs. Meaning that the 5% of Mercedes vehicles that will remain unelectrified are going to more closely resemble a Freightliner than a Gullwing. As Mercedes pointed out, a 52-ton battery would be needed for a semi-truck to go 3,000 kilometers.

Firm extends life of two nuclear power stations

Power firm British Energy today announced plans to extend the life of two of the UK's nuclear power stations for a further five years.

The Hartlepool and Heysham 1 plants have been dogged by output issues in recent years but British Energy (BE), owned by French company EDF Energy, said the reactors had passed a technical and economic evaluation.

China’s Push Into Wind Worries U.S. Industry

While proponents say the Chinese manufacturers should be welcomed as an engine for creating more green jobs and speeding the adoption of renewable energy in this country, others see a threat to workers and profits in the still-embryonic American wind industry.

Government pushes solar power in six western states

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration on Thursday proposed special energy zones on public lands in six western states deemed good locations to build utility-scale facilities to produce electricity from solar power.

The Interior Department issued a draft environmental impact statement that looked at the effect of solar energy projects able to generate 20 megawatts of power in areas that have the highest solar potential and will do the least harm to the environment.

Officials Back Plan to Restore California Bay Delta

Federal and state officials said Wednesday that they supported construction of a massive structure around California’s environmentally crippled delta to make deliveries of fresh water to farms and cities more reliable.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said such a structure would divert water from north of the delta, where the Sacramento and the San Joaquin Rivers meet, to water users in the Central Valley and in the southern part of California.

California Approves Stringent Pollution Curbs

SAN FRANCISCO — California regulators on Thursday adopted the nation’s most comprehensive rules to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, a move that will put the state far ahead of the rest of the country in energy reform.

The regulations, which reward industries most effective in achieving the cuts by allowing them to sell credits to polluters, will create the largest market for carbon trading in the country. Ten states including New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and the New England states are participating in a less extensive system known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which covers only electric utilities.

Critics Slam Fox News for Distorting Global Warming Debate

Critics of Fox News' coverage of climate change issues were given a rich vein to mine in an email from a top editor to his staffers, which was made public recently.

In the email dated Dec. 8 and made public Wednesday by Media Matters for America, Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon instructed staffers to "refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question.

EU Says Carbon Market Rules After 2012 Approved Without `Major Changes'

European Union member states approved a regulatory proposal without “major changes” for giving away about 100 billion euros ($132 billion) of carbon permits after 2012.

Australia: Council rejects rising sea level forecast

The Gold Coast City Council in south-east Queensland says new Federal Government maps that show the likely effects of sea level rises are inaccurate.

Global Warming Shapes Thai Farmers' Future

BANGKOK (Bernama) -- Researchers say climate change or the global warming problem will continue to influence the future of Thailand's agricultural sector, Thai News Agency said Friday.

Thailand Research Fund (TRF)'s Director for Agriculture Associated Professor Dr Chancharat Ruangdecha said that Thailand's agricultural sector has been staggered by drought, floods, uncertainties in produce prices, high production costs and food safety-related problems over the past three years.

Just heard Sharon Epperson, CNBC's energy correspondent giving the energy news:

It is interesting that oil prices have actually held up fairly well. There are a lot on the street talking about the tightening in supply that we are continuing to see globally...

Interesting, I was not aware that there was a global tightening of crude oil supplies.

At this moment Crude Oil is up thirty cents.

Ron P.

But with prices for gasoline inching up daily (as far as I can see at the local gas stations near me) what else could be causing thse price increases except tightening of the supplies? Gas station owners probably hate this state of affairs---trying to sell expensive gasoline in a bad economy (as one TODer put it, the developed economies are in a (slow) state of liquidation, very true and very apt!) so they are complaining and everyone feels nervous including Sharon Epperson.

OK, a longer post for a change rather than my usual one liners.
At one point in my life I owned a gas station in north east USA. The economics of gas stations are interesting because aside from “pumpers” (gas stations which are located in high traffic/volume area like at a highway on/off stop) the money is NOT made from selling gas. The margin on regular was anywhere between 0 and 3 cents/gallon and about 15-25 cents for premium at time of purchasing the gas. One of the problems you have as an owner is that you’re effectively taking commodity exposure risk. If the price of gas at stations around you goes down the day after you bought the delivery – too bad. You’re stuck with it and have to eat the loss.
Every load was approximately 10,000 gallons so the most you could make selling a delivery worth’s of gas was 0.03*10,000= 300 bucks. We also made some money of mid and high grade, call it another 300 bucks. We did about 190,000 gallons/year so that is about 15k gallons month, 450 dollars worth of margin on regular.
The oil company would give us a credit on a per gallon basis (somewhere in the 6-9 cent range if I recall correctly) which only applied to the rent we paid. In a good month it would cover a part of the rent but not all. Gas sales are pretty seasonal so we needed a fair amount of cash to balance out the cashflow demands between winter and summer. The other big costs were labor and utilities.
Long story short, the money is made on the retail of repair shop side of the business. We had a repair shop and the guy who “managed” it for us (“managed in quotation marks because he really mismanaged it quite creatively, but ultimately the joke was on me of course) was pretty creatively and had several accounts personal accounts opened with part suppliers and used those to buy parts, fix a car and then pocket the difference. It took a while to figure that out.
In the end we sold the station to somebody who filed for bankruptcy after 4 months. And no, he did not use the same manager we had. We lost quite a bit of money on the venture but I’m happy it didn’t bankrupt me. The gas station was sold to another oil company twice and now no longer exists…..


Makes sense.

One can imagine how much money is made selling lottery tickets, cigarettes, soda, hot dogs, chips, candy, car washes, etc. in addition to gasoline.

I trying to think if I can even recall one 'pure' or 'mostly pure' (no or minimal retail goodies) gas station in Albuquerque.

Here where I live near Tokyo no gas stations sell anything except gasoline. Do they sell diesel? I do not know. I don't have a car or a truck, only a bicycle, so I never go into one to find out. I just see the prices posted outside and compare week to week. I don't think I have ever seen a gas station selling food or snacks. Probably it is illegal to sell food as gas stations here. Everything is highly regulated here in this country. And regular gasoline is about 130 yen/liter now which is almost $6 or so.

But almost all the small gas stations are gone now and only fairly big ones are left and they are obviously hurting. People are really cutting back on their spending...young people don't even buy cars and take the bus or train.

I do not see indications that supply has recently tightened, although in the Oil Movements article up top, they neglected to mention that OM revised its figures from last week down sharply. Essentially OM sees a very marginal increase in December oil supplies over November.

For some reason, analysts quoted in the Bloomberg article up top, do not seem particularly concerned about sharply falling oil US stocks, attributing this decline mostly to a year end tax strategy. I don’t agree with that assessment, since tax motivated transactions are probably only smaller part of the picture.

The main ‘tightening’ in the market is mostly related recently to increased demand, due to the reasons we have been discussing – a diesel shortage in China, very cold weather in Europe, colder than usual weather in the US (the ninth coldest December since 1950). Reuters elsewhere reported today that net diesel imports into China jump sharply in November – so the market would have been ‘tight’ just due to that.

My expectation is that, being that China essentially drained most of Europe’s extra diesel supplies before the cold spell hit Europe, is that the US refiners of diesel will be called upon to provide more supplies for Europe. We already have seen US refineries step up both their output and exports of products last week. The increase demand for diesel will result in extra US refinery demand to crack oil barrels into as much diesel as possible, within the limits of refinery operations.

"Interesting, I was not aware that there was a global tightening of crude oil supplies."

I believe it. $3.20 a gallon on my way home tonight.

The Energy Future Ain’t What It Used To Be

The price of natural gas and electricity will be low over the next quarter-century, and crude oil will become more expensive but not radically so, the Energy Department predicted on Thursday, in a report that contradicts widely held notions.

Jeez! I wish I'd kept my bass boat :-( "Nuthin' to worry about folks. Keep burning stuff."

Yes, oil and gas will cheap in the coming decades despite escalating extraction costs. The Energy Department must believe we'll be using less and less of the stuff.

Jeez! I wish I'd kept my bass boat

You should of!


If natural gas producers believe the energy department, this guarantees that the energy department will be wrong. If we believe that they believe that the energy department is correct, we should all go long natural gas. How presumptuous to be predicting that far in the future.

This prediction, if taken seriously, could also hurt the adoption of solar energy and wind power. On the other hand, if utilities believe the energy department, they might implement more wind as the backup source, natural gas, would be cheaper.

The energy department also predicts that co2 production will not increase very much due to the economy. So, an arm of the Obama administration is telling people that economic growth is pretty much dead for the next 25 years. Not a unified message. Frankly, I think they may have gotten the economic growth part correct. It is too bad our politics won't adjust to this reality. Instead, we will try ever more desperate measures to keep the growth party going.

Yes, natural gas is the most interesting, IMO. Estimate for recoverable reserves of shale gas has doubled. They're predicting the natural gas glut will continue.

The EIA report from which the above data was gleaned came out yesterday.

AEO2011 Early Release Overview

From this link you can click on the data tables which give you all their new projections. The first one is the most interesting. It is: A1 Total Energy Supply and Disposition Demand You can click on that line and get the html data or there are little boxes to the right that you can click and get the data in either PDF or Excel format.

They have Crude + Condensate going down next year but up for every year thereafter until it peaks in 2032. They have it dropping every year after that, to 2035. And the data is in quadrillion BTU, not barrels. So I cannot make heads or tails of the data except that they have C+C going from 11.44 quadrillion BTU in 2011 and peaking at 12.72 quadrillion BTU in 2032.

Beyond the last line they have the annual percentage gain for all forms of energy, 2009 to 2035. C+C increases by an average of 0.3 percent per year, Natural Gas Plant Liquids increases, every year, by an average 1.6 percent. Biomass, Other Renewables and Other increase, on average, by 3.7, 3.5 and 3.4 percent per year respectfully. And Total Energy increases by an average of 1 percent per year. Well according to their estimate anyway.

Ron P.

I wonder if the EIA reads their own data? As I stated before:

Dry NG production in the U.S. for the first 9 months of 2010 compared to the same period of 2009 is up by 405 billion cu ft.

Total consumption for the same period 2009 vs 2010 is up by 908 billion cu ft.

NG for production of Elect in this period alone is up by 392 billion cu ft. With the current cold the trend will continue for the balance of the year.

I expect NG draw to be well over 200 B Cu ft for each of the next 2 weekly reports, and perhaps a price near or exceeding $5 before the end of the year.

I need to make a correction to my above post. The EIA has C+C peaking in 2019 at 13.01 quadrillion BTU. My mistake I just went to the end of the data and overlooked what was in the middle.

I just did the math and the EIA has C+C dropping by 2.3 percent next year then rising by an average of 1.7 percent per year until it peaks in 2019.

Ron P.

Ron, you should also consider a correction on what you wrote on the last Drumbeat:

I have heard absolutely nothing about MRC wells being disastrous for field utilization.

because ROCKMAN replied:

They might increase URR but that's not always a given. In some cases hz wells will cause more by-passed oil left in the lower portion of the reservoir.

bold mine.

Okay, congratulations, I stand corrected.

On the subject of the current thread. I did the math. Quadrillion BTU really confused me because I am not a math major but can do basic math with the aid of Excel. But I never use BTUs for anything except when discussing air conditioning units. So I finally worked it out. 11.7 quadrillion BTUs is the amount of crude + condensate the EIA says will be produced in 2010. So multiplying 11.7 by one quadrillion, (10 to the 15th) and then dividing that by 5,800,000 (the number of BTUs in a barrel of crude oil), comes out to be 5,526,689. That is about the number of barrels of C+C that the US will produce per day this year.

So they are talking about production per day, not per year, and only in the USA, not the world. I suppose they said that somewhere but I couldn't find it.

Anyway they are saying that in 2019 the US will produce an average of 6.147 million barrels per day. That would be our highest production since 1998 and 618 thousand barrels per day above what we will produce this year.

Ron P.

Anyway they are saying that in 2019 the US will produce an average of 6.147 million barrels per day. That would be our highest production since 1998 and 618 thousand barrels per day above what we will produce this year.

They are still counting on the undiscovered reserves potential.

I like that they own up, at least: EIA-Annual Energy Outlook Retrospective Review: Evaluation of Projections in Past Editions (1982-2008)

Here's a breakdown of past AEOs:

Forecast		Avg Error	# of years actualized
AEO 1982		0.6 		6 
AEO 1983		0.7 		7 
AEO 1984		0.4 		7 
AEO 1985		0.3 		11 
AEO 1986		0.4 		15 
AEO 1987		0.1 		10 
AEO 1989*		0.3 		13 
AEO 1990		0.1 		5 
AEO 1991		0.4 		19 
AEO 1992		0.2 		18 
AEO 1993		0.3 		17 
AEO 1994		0.5 		16 
AEO 1995		0.4 		15 
AEO 1996		0.2 		14 
AEO 1997		0.2 		13 
AEO 1998		0.4 		12 
AEO 1999		0.5 		11 
AEO 2000		0.1 		10 
AEO 2001		0.3 		9 
AEO 2002		0.1 		8 
AEO 2003		0.5 		7 
AEO 2004		0.7 		6 
AEO 2005		0.8 		5 
AEO 2006		0.4 		4 
AEO 2007		0.4 		3 
AEO 2008		0.1 		2 
AEO 2009		0.0 		1 

A bit of explanation: "actualized" means the actual year forecasted has come and gone. Not sure if there's a better way of phrasing that. The AEOs forecast the previous year, too, in case the counts seem unlikely. AEO2000 had a forecast for 1999 too, for example - figures were tentative until then.

The spike in error for 2005 is curious, but might simply be an artifact. Forecasts with large errors might ultimately prove more correct as time goes by, and other AEOs were initially off the mark a bit too.

Oil price: where next? - and thoughts for 2010

The prize for the nearest prediction, Brent Blend spot price at the close of 17 December 2010, will be kudos.

Brent now at $91.75.

Re: Critics Slam Fox News for Distorting Global Warming Debate

There's a similar commentary posted on the NYT Blog, Green. My comment appears at #4...

E. Swanson

It is not just Fox News. I heard on CNBC yesterday morning derision of global warming theory based on the cold being experienced in the mid west. It may not be an editorial policy but there seems to be a lot of deniers on that network. On the other hand, MSNBC is owned by the same corporation, so at least it is not being directed from the top.

So many of the other comments are simply pathetic: How dare they question our precious Faux News, AGW is a liberal plot to take away our freedoms. The discussion about AGW in the US has become a religious conflict. The deniers are rabid fanatics who would burn anyone at the stake who dares claim humans can impact the climate via physical agents such as CO2.

Look at how the "Climategate" emails are treated as actually demonstrating nefarious activity by scientists when there is simply nothing in them even worth discussing. They have turned into a myth thanks to propaganda by Faux News and other fossil fuel industry funded shills. But political propaganda directives to Faux News "reporters" are viewed as good journalism!

Behind the WSJ paywall, but free via Google:

Mexico Hedges 2011 Oil Income At $63/Barrel Avg

MEXICO CITY (Dow Jones)--Mexico's government has purchased put options to hedge most of its 2011 oil revenue at an average price of $63 per barrel, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday.

Income from oil produced by state-run monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, typically provides about a third of Mexico's public-sector income. The revenue law for the 2011 budget assumes an average price of $65.40 a barrel for Mexican crude.

From second article

Last month Bahrain’s oil minister urged an immediate rethink of the country’s fuel price structure, in a bid to put a halt to soaring government subsidies, implement a system of “fair prices”, and stop over-consumption.

Could this make ELM less dangerous ?

Bahrain is a pretty small producer, but I suspect that what has focused their attention on consumption is that they are on the verge of becoming a net oil importer. Bahrain's net oil exports (EIA):


When we totaled global net oil exports, we didn't even look at small net exporters (less than 100,000 bpd in 2005) like Bahrain.

But regarding the larger exporters, Iran for example has been trying to reduce their consumption, but as of 2009 the EIA was still showing a steady increase. Iranian consumption (EIA):


For net oil exporters with net exports of 100,000 bpd or more in 2005, their ratio of consumption to production rose from 26% in 2005 to 29% in 2009 (BP + minor input from EIA).

I have long maintained that ELM won't be simple and linear. The countries that subsidize fuel costs will have increasing difficulty as prices rise. The OPEC countries rely on food imports now. The US is the world's largest grain exporter. In the end, it won't serve OPEC countries to keep domestic prices low so their citizens can drive gas-guzzlers and turn up the air-conditioning, if it means US farmers lack the petroleum they need to grow food.

I have speculated that we might generally see Phase One and Phase Two net export declines. In Phase One, the cash flow from net export sales will still be increasing, despite falling export volumes, because of generally increasing oil prices. In Phase Two, generally rising oil prices can't offset the ongoing decline in net exports. So I suspect that it will be difficult for net oil exporting countries to reduce subsidies in Phase One, and they will probably try much harder in Phase Two.

Having said that, Egypt is an interesting case history. The EIA shows them going from net exports of almost 500,000 bpd in 1995 to net importer status in 2007 (BP still shows them as a small net exporter). Over this time frame, consumption increased steadily, with the first decline appearing only last year. Egyptian consumption (EIA):


Here are the 1996 to 2006 rate of change numbers for Egypt (EIA). Their C/P (Consumption/Production) ratio in 1996 was 54%.

1996 to 2006 rates of change for Egypt:

Production: -3.3%/year (down 28% in 10 years)
Consumption: +2.7%/year (up 31% in 10 years)
Net Exports: -35.0%/year (down 97% in 10 years)

In any case, the key Net Export Math point is that given an ongoing production decline, unless a net exporting country cuts their consumption at the same rate as, or at a faster rate than, the production decline rate, then their net export decline rate will exceed the production decline rate, and the net export decline rate will accelerate with time.

That Egypt graph is really interesting. You wouldn't expect a developing nation with a growing population to see drops...but they've suffered both food and energy shortages recently. Likely for reasons having to do with price.

I suspect that's how it will play out. As long as food and energy are available and affordable in the global marketplace, consumption can increase. But once that's not the case, consumption will drop. Case histories of countries that peaked when global supplies were not an issue may not be relevant in the future.

Of course, the other interesting comparison is the developing versus developed country consumption pattern. Egypt's consumption (like many other developing countries) in 2009 was well above their 1998 level, despite generally rising oil prices, while US consumption in 2009 was below our 1998 level.

We have more room to cut back, of course. And 1998 was the heyday of the dot-com boom.

But overall, I don't think it's reasonable to make comparisons like that. We've outsourced a lot of our heavy industry. That use of petroleum has gone down in the US doesn't necessarily mean consumption has gone down for the average American. Shoes, DVDs, fertilizer and plastic gewgaws made in the US take petroleum. But made overseas and imported here - no petroleum consumption required. At least as measured by government statistics.

In any case, the developing versus developed country consumption pattern for 1998 to 2009 appears to be pretty consistent. Here is Germany's oil consumption graph for example:


Environmental and labor laws in developing countries vs. developed ones are also pretty consistent.

Minor correction to my post. There were a couple of small year over year declines in Egyptian consumption over the net export decline period, but as noted above, consumption increased by 31% from 1996 to 2006.

...if it means US farmers lack the petroleum they need to grow food.

Leanan, this of course is one of the most critical aspects of Peak oil and it is difficult to predict what will happen. Wouldn't there be enough petroleum products available for farmers, even when oil imports in the U.S. reach zero and when the economy is on the ropes with 20-30% unemployed ? I think by far the most important cause for disruption must be complete chaos and civil war.

Sure. But will there be enough to keep people busy making tractors and spare parts and shipping them to farmers? And maintaining roads. etc.

simkin, the industry is not heavily depending on oil unless the electricity is generated by oil-fired power plants. Ships can cut drastically its diesel use by reducing speed and shipping anyway will reduce because of less consumer spending. So the bad thing is unemployment, not tractor, spare parts and diesel shortage for farmers. Given there is some kind of governments control of the situation and cooperation.

Also, the main area in the US for growing grain (midwest) have relatively little population and could probably keep going on just with some oil from Canada and Texas and keep exporting food. Anyway, if the economy collapse in the rest of US, there will be far more grain/food to export to OPEC country or to China, even if it implies that people on the East and West coast have to starve. In modern time, famines are not due to lack of food but to a lack of money for people to buy/import food. This is just demand destruction in action.

I've been wondering about the ELM implications for exporters who heavily subsidize domestic oil consumption, too. These countries depend upon dollars to fund all the programs; development (nuclear power for the future, etc.) and all the other standard of living enhancing measures their populations are expecting from their country's "oil cash cow".

I have long maintained that ELM won't be simple and linear. The countries that subsidize fuel costs will have increasing difficulty as prices rise.

It is very important to consider domestic fuel alternatives that exist in each nation. Fuel switching takes time but can certainly occur when there is a large financial incentive. In the case of many Middle Eastern nations there is a very strong push to reduce the amount of oil burned in thermal energy plants and replace it with natural gas. Add in vehicles that run on compressed natural gas (as is widespread in Iran) and you can potentially get at least a slow down of the rate of increase in oil consumption.

As Jeff mentions above, "Egypt is an interesting case." From the Energy Export databrowser we see that Egypt's production of energy from natural gas has now outpaced their production from oil.

It will be interesting to see whether the Egypt's new supplies of natural gas provide a relief from growing oil imports or only bring in new wealth to drive up demand. I expect it will be the latter as the pincers pattern of rising demand and falling production is the dominant pattern in just about all post-peak, developing nations.


I wanted to mention that I am continuing to write posts over at Our Finite World. I have submitted some to TOD as posts, so it is possible (after voting by editors) that an occasional post will make it to TOD, but not all of them. More will probably appear at Energy Bulletin.

Today I have a Campfire-type post up called, Peak Oil: What do we do now? I don't plan to submit it to TOD, because I doubt it would be considered as fitting with the new format.

Comments are enabled for discussion at Our Finite World.

I was surprised to see one of your pieces linked through the Gas Buddy website. I haven't noticed any peak oil articles linked there before. Quite a widespread audience over there.

There is plenty of oil, but . . .

I try to write for a more general audience than what TOD aims for. It seems to me that people can be interested in oil shortages and their impacts, without necessarily wanting to wade through loads of technical details.

I see that Erik Curren over at Transition Voice has an interview with me up.

"doubt it would be considered as fitting with the new format."


I like your article. The conclusion I draw from it is:

a) Go somewhere that is simple now. May be hard work and the locals may not like you.
b) Stay somewhere complex, wait for the wheels to start falling off, and hope for the best.


Thanks for the information, Gail. Unfortunately I have just about lost any interest in TOD, due, I suppose, to this "new format" business. Too bad. I used to read this site extensively.

I think the plan was for people who wanted to discuss other things to go to other places to discuss them.

I find the return to being a serious website to be entirely positive. The old format did seem to bring in a high volume of people, but led to a significant deterioration in quality. The editors have said that they don't mind if the number of readers goes down, if the quality goes up.

I also hope it bring back many of the great older commenters who were driven away by the relentless focus on anything negative.

Mackenzie pipeline project.

Both sides agreed, however, that actually getting the $16.2-billion project sanctioned in a low gas price environment -

Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/technology/Mackenzie+pipeline+will+built/39...

The MacKenzie Valley pipeline to bring natural gas from the Canadian Arctic to southern Canada and the US has been approved by the Canadian government (after a delay of only 37 years), but with gas prices currently at $4/Mcf, it's unlikely to get built in the near future.

They need higher prices than that to make it economic given the large surplus of shale gas available in the US and Canada.

I hope, with the huge draw on Canada's gas by the tar sand production, that they build the line so it can be flipped to ship gas up to the tar sands area.

The EIA's Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report is out. Stocks were down 164 billion cubic feet. Stocks are still well above their five year average but are sitting at 3,561 billion cubic feet or 35 billion cubic feet below the level of the same week last year.

Ron P.

A long-awaited US government report on GOM Macondo subsurface oil and dispersant sampling and monitoring is out today.

Key Findings
1. No deposits of liquid‐phase MC252 oil were identified in sediments beyond the shoreline.
2. No exceedances of EPA’s Human Health benchmark were observed.
3. No exceedances of EPA’s dispersant benchmarks were observed.
4. Since 3 August 2010, <1% of water samples and ~1% of sediment samples exceeded
EPA's Aquatic Life benchmarks for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Analysis of individual samples indicated that none of the water sample exceedances were consistent with MC252. Of the sediment exceedances, only those within 3 km of the wellhead were consistent with MC252.
5. Published research indicates that MC252 oil is weathering and biodegrading under natural conditions. Estimates of weathering and degradation rates vary, precluding the use of simple empirical models to assess the persistence of residual MC252 oil.
6. Of the previously closed fisheries, 87,481 mi2 (state and federal) have been reopened; 1041 mi2 around the wellhead remain closed. In addition, 4,213 mi2 were closed to royal red shrimping on 24 November.
7. Quantitative results indicate that deposits of drilling mud‐entrained oil remain near the wellhead. Seven sediment samples within 3 km of the wellhead collected since 3 August 2010 exceed aquatic life benchmarks for PAHs, with oil concentrations of 2000-5000 parts per million.
8. The study of tar mats in shallow nearshore waters was identified as a sampling gap. The sampling methods previously used did not sufficiently address tar mats. A focused group (OSAT II) has been chartered by the UAC to address this issue.

This 131-page report focuses on liquid-phase oil (not oil in the form of tar mats or sediment-entrained oil), because liquid-phase oil is relevant to decisions regarding recovering oil from the environment.

This 131-page report focuses on liquid-phase oil (not oil in the form of tar mats or sediment-entrained oil), because liquid-phase oil is relevant to decisions regarding recovering oil from the environment.

Not quite true. Granted I just speed skimmed the report but pages 33 through 47 of the report specifically focus on deep sea liquid and sediment-entrained oil. As for the decisions relevant to recovering oil from the environment, it is clear that recovery of deep-sea sediment-entrained oil is probably not going to be addressed any time soon due to it not being practical. I guess the ecosystem is on its own for this one.

My hope is that the SOBs, responsible for this dastardly crime against the environment, be brought to justice one day!

Regarding the stories up top about a shortage of heating oil in the UK. The problems are being blamed on distribution problems but I'm not so sure. I haven't seen any reports of shortages of domestic LPG supplies for home heating in rural areas yet - just heating oil. So this appears to be a strange distribution problem that stops oil tankers in their tracks but not LPG tankers. Also some news reports say customers are being told of a wait of up to seven weeks for orders placed today. That sounds like genuine supply shortages rather than just a distribution problem.

Cold Christmas ahead for customers struggling to find home heating oil

Residents in rural areas could be facing Christmas in the cold as suppliers of home heating oil struggle to make deliveries.

With further severe weather forecast, households have been seeking to top-up their supplies in preparation, but have enjoyed limited success.

Perthshire residents have contacted The Courier to report that they face waits of up to seven weeks as supplies run low. Customers have also suffered large increases in prices.

A reader in Fife reported a similar shortage of oil for her heating system, only to be told by her supplier that she was 770th in line for a delivery.

An Abernethy reader told us, "We're running short and wanted to ensure that we had enough to get us through the festive period.

Apparently there were delays of several days for heating oil deliveries in Wales several weeks back (usually same or next day) - even before this was highlighted by ministers and the press.
Sounds like distribution or stock problems with the cold weather and christmas bringing demand forward in time. From what I am told there are negligible transport problems so it is hard to blame that.

"So this appears to be a strange distribution problem that stops oil tankers in their tracks but not LPG tankers."

Too cold to pump the oil? I ask because an entire fleet of surface mining equipment got shut down because it got cold enough to precipitate the paraffin (candle wax) out of the cheap #2 fuel oil and plugged every filter in the fleet at once. The mechanics were very unhappy. Insanely cold, and they had to change filters and flush the lines with kerosene outdoors.

I'm not a diesel guy, but I've heard that in winter, its acceptable to mix kerosene with diesel at a ratio of about 1/4 kerosene to diesel. Isn't there a special winter mix for road diesel, as there is for gasoline? I would guess that someone missed the weather forecast and the cold weather hit before the fuel changeover...

E. Swanson

New .gov site: One stop shopping for energy information

Energy Innovation Tracker

Today we know how to produce green energy or cheap energy, just not both at the same time. Energy innovations are critical to our ability to lower GHG emissions, increase US energy independence, and provide stable, affordable energy prices for families and businesses. While the US government is, by far, the largest US investor in energy innovation, it is often difficult to understand the scale and scope of their investment. Is it in the right technologies? Is it the right mix of science and engineering? Is it enough?

Despite increased efforts by researchers, policymakers, journalists, and the public to seek answers to these questions, all are challenged by a serious lack of accessible and detailed data on current federal investments in energy innovation. Records of budgets and spending levels on energy innovation projects are scattered across federal agencies and lack standardized reporting methods.

To address these challenges, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) and the Breakthrough Institute have launched the Energy Innovation Tracker project (EIT) to provide policymakers, analysts, and the public with an unprecedented level of detail on federal energy innovation spending via a centralized, publically accessible database and website.

Example Data Output: http://energyinnovation.us/data/results/?fiscalyear%5B%5D=&agency%5B%5D=...

Re: High-speed rail derails in Wisconsin

Was this a mistake by the new governor, or did he do the right thing ?

Federal gov says, "We will pay you to build many stone heads - here, take the $1.2 billion."

Wis gov says, "No thank you, we do not know if the stone heads have the magic you promise, and we do not know if we can afford to pay to maintain the stone heads.

Probably more like "God gave Adam and Eve drivers licenses, and you'll have to pry our cold, dead hands off our cars' steering wheels before we'll ever give up the automobile."

Sadly, that is just far more accurate than not. At least in my neck of the woods. No matter what your ancestry, this culture is all-consuming.

What some of us imagine we have a "right" too - we are the Paris Hilton of the global village.

We in America will die underneath the economic weight of our oil/inefficient cars, that is after they empty our wallets.

No way an American in a single SUV can compete with 50 Indians or Chinese using that oil to do the same or more work per BTU.

Americans will continue to be hammered by monthly bills to keep two SUVs going as their saving and purchase power erode.

It is an inevitable decline based on lack of planning and organization, starting with our leaders and the multitude of billionaires pulling the strings.

I agree with every word. My little '94 Saturn gave up the ghost a few days ago. We will now be a one-car family and we will all walk more often (mom will no longer be a taxi). I am mean ;). So be it. Time to start stepping back away from the nipple.

The Badger Bus runs 7 scheduled trips / day between stops in Madison and Milwaukee. The tickets are generally under $20 one way, depending on the stops for departure and arrival.

It's hard to see how high speed rail can compete with this, since there would likely be fewer stops (or it wouldn't be high speed) in less convenient locations.

Besides, wouldn't it be counterproductive to encourage people to travel more? Encouraging people to live in Madison and work in Milwaukee with a high-speed rail commute seems like a bad thing from an energy conservation perspective.

That is the problem I see in general - too many options unexplored.

Is high speed rail necessary, or even desirable? What about getting trucks off the road and using more traditional rail transporting goods as well as people...

I checked with quite high speed train for a similar distance in Sweden and the cheapest is SEK 157:- or SEK 213:- but the comparison is no good since it is two countries with huge differences in tax regime. It is usually more expensive with train but comfort is better and there is a huge difference in traveling time.

What kind of travel time are you talking about in Sweden?

This wasn't going to be high speed any time soon, just 125kph peak speed, between 100 and 110kph including stops (that's a far cry from Shinkansen or TGV; it's not even an Acela.) So about an hour and ten or fifteen minutes to connect two cities 120km apart (via a route that was not quite direct.) Only a little faster than the existing 'Badger Bus', which someone else mentioned. Much slower than driving for a complete door-to-door trip, since most trips would not be to places close to the stations (Madison proper is about 162km2, and then there are the suburbs. Metro Milwaukee is even bigger.) You'd either be gouged for an enormous cab fare, or else wait "forever" for a bus, if there were one to your final destination. I suspect it was all much more about "shovel ready" (or somewhat so) "stimulus" than about filling an actual or potential need. Rather unfortunate, really.

I've commented on this before. To me it's a very mixed bag. The transitory construction jobs might have been a nice 'stimulus'. OTOH there was never any high speed rail on the table, just plain vanilla 1920s 79mph (even if with fancy looking railcars) rubbish with vague promises of late 1930s 110mph as pie in the sky by and by (but you might have to shoot the FRA first.) In other words, it was a real letdown to discover a while back what they meant by "high speed", a sick joke really. True high speed rail, as seen in Europe, Japan, etc., connecting Minneapolis and Chicago with a few stops in between might have been worthwhile, although whether it could or would ever run often enough to be useful is a question - we'd have to depopulate numerous surrounding states and pile everyone into Chicago before it became a Tokyo.

However, to avoid slow-motion twists and turns owing to the geography, real high-speed rail might well need to graze the outskirts of Madison rather than stopping downtown, in the same manner as the Interstate. Beyond that, you have the question, OK, you've arrived at the station (downtown or in the outskirts, who cares?), now how do you get to where you're really going since odds are overwhelmingly that it's not where the station is. No very concentrated masses of people locally, so not overly effective mass transit, simple as that.

I do remember the past discussions and I do appreciate your reviewing some of the details. It really does seem to be a knee-jerk "just do something !!!" reaction presented faux high-tech lipstick.

I have no confidence in the Federal government. The Central Planners have no clothes.

The right thing. I applaud him, as well as my fellow Dead Head, the governor of Ohio.

We’re learning more today about just how the $642 million California received in HSR stimulus funds redirected from Wisconsin and Ohio are to be used. Tim Sheehan at the Fresno Bee explains more:

Along with an equal sum in state matching money, the reallocation will allow the state to extend the southern end of the system’s first segment perhaps as far as Bakersfield. It also provides money to design stations in Merced and Bakersfield. And that could soothe some hurt feelings in the North and South Valley after the state decided to start building near Fresno….


The interstate highway system began in St. Charles County, Missouri, but you can still take it from Seattle to San Diego.

If the shoe fits, wear it, right? Hopefully it will be a good fit for California.

I'd like to see either HSR or BART extended to the North Bay via tube, at least as far as Santa Rosa.
Downtown to downtown, SF -> LA will be 2:40.
Right now, downtown SF to the end of the runway at SFO is 2 hours.

Is any of this actual HSR, or is it only the same old 79mph rubbish they wanted to build in Wisconsin and Ohio?

Right now, they say it is a top speed of 220 mph (354 kph), but China has gone over 300MPH, so, who knows? When I was in school, best sprinters in the world were from the Valley, so maybe we'll gopher it.

SF ->LA, 2:38
Bakersfield -> Fresno..37 minutes
" -> Sacratomato..89 minutes
LA -> San Diego ...78 minutes

UK Government opens consultation on electricity market overhaul

UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne yesterday unveiled the Coalition Government’s plans to transform the country’s electricity market.

Together with the Treasury, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) have launched consultations on fundamental reforms to the electricity market to provide long-term certainty for investors, create a level playing field for low-carbon and protect household bills.

The scale of the problem is substantial: a quarter of the UK’s generating capacity – around 19 GW – will need replacing by 2020.

Gas pressure reduction plant at Tirley given go-ahead

Plans for a gas pressure reduction installation in Gloucestershire have been given the go-ahead.

National Grid said the plant was vital to complete a 200-mile pipeline scheme to carry gas from its terminal at Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire.

Good article, but please don't post the whole thing. Post a link and a brief excerpt.

Sense rules at last - it was insane that they managed to stall this so far for such parochial reasons. Having built a new LNG facility and dug up half of Wales for the pipeline, to run it under-pressure just because of Tewkesbury Borough Council was clearly asking for Westminster to do just what it has. That will be the National part in the National Grid then.

Today Brent finished down $.07 at $92.05. Most other light sweet varieties finished well above $90. It was also reported today that in the US oil usage went up 6% to 20 m/b/d in November by the API. The spread of $4 between WTI and Brent is probably large enough to keep some, if not most, oil in the world sold to the highest bidder. Maybe there is a correlation between falling oil inventories here and higher oil prices in the world besides the refinery's story of tax avoidance.

The Washington Post's new, neocon op-ed contributor, Jennifer Rubin, is very happy to position herself firmly in far-right territory.

Another exceptional American takes aim at Iran

...can someone please explain to me what exactly Rubin and other neocons mean by "American Exceptionalism"?

I mean, while I certainly do agree there is a great deal to admire in the blending of ideologies and values that resulted in the US Constitution, what I don't understand is how every tub-thumping polemicist believes that this unique document grants carte blanche to wage wars of aggression against anyone who doesn't unquestioningly embrace their personal value system.

Ever since Woodrow Wilson showed up at the Paris Peace Conference with his fourteen points, the U.S. has tried to use its weight and influence to recreate the world in its own image. In 1919, however, America was a rising star - a robust and vibrant, financially solvent, and cocky new kid on the block with the world by its tail.

After ninety years and counting, America's lofty ambition seems a tad bit overstated, tired and trite.

Who is the "neo-cons" constituency among beltway residents and Washington Post readership these days? It's hard to believe that the failed policies of Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and Cheney carry any credibility anywhere. Do the principles of the "Project for the New American Century" still excite policy wonks in ranks of the State Department or the Department of Defense? Alas, perhaps, old dreams do die hard.

Among Americans, is Iran the same boogie man it was a few short years ago?

Does anyone other than Al Jazeera even read the Washington Post?

And what about the question raised by Al Jazeera: what does "American Exceptionalism" mean in a post-2008 recession ridden world? What exactly kind of world would "American exceptionalists" want to see come into being? Can anybody take them seriously? Do they?

What does "American Exceptionalism" mean in a post-2008 recession ridden world?

Very good question.

On NPR a couple of weeks ago they had a show devoted to the topic of "Choseness" meaning that various peoples throughout the ages have adopted the idea that they are uniquely "special", chosen for some greater purpose and thus an exception separate from the perceived dregs of the rest of humankind.

Certainly, many right wing pundits believe that "America" is specially chosen and specially blessed by God to be the shining city on the hill, the beacon of "democracy".

It was interesting to learn today that Pythagoras was not special, he was not the first to compute c^2= a^2 + b^2. But of course, we were taught otherwise in school --you know the place where we get an "edge-U-vocation" (education), the place where we mindlessly sing, God Bless America.

[ i.mage.+]

Certainly, many right wing pundits believe that "America" is specially chosen and specially blessed by God to be the shining city on the hill, the beacon of "democracy".

Nice summary Step Back. I don't think too many people can criticize others sincerely for believing they're chosen in some way ... most of us think that our families or our culture or our country or our faith community or our mindset is somehow special and of benefit to our world. It's how people form identity and quite frankly, will often give even the most lazy among us incentive to get up in the morning and contribute to our wider world.

Considering, however, how mistrustful the right wing is of most of their fellow compatriots (democracy... pfft... they keep voting the wrong way!), how dangerous it is to be the shining city on the hill (great target for disaffected extremists to ram hijacked aircraft), and how the blessed are feeling poorer and more vulnerable these days (unless you're one of the very few Americans who understands or takes seriously Jesus's words, "blessed are the poor"!), it's hard to see how the vision of American exceptionalism is not going to have to undergo some kind of serious revision, particularly among its most articulate and stalwart disciples.

And without that revision, can American exceptionalists have a similar influence or impact on future policy making as they have had in the recent past?

American exceptionalism is going to have to undergo some kind of serious revision, particularly among its most articulate and stalwart disciples

But, but, their motto is:

Never give up, never give in.
The exceptional never give up or give way, in any whichever direction.

[ i.mage.+]

The exceptional never give up or give way, in any whichever direction.

Not usually an ideal way to win friends or influence people.

It seems to me a lot has changed in the last few years. American exceptionalism, always a minority view among seasoned diplomats and state department analysts, would be even more marginalized than before. It is a mindset that really needs strong political backers like a Wolfowitz or a Rumsfeld or a Cheney to be written into the agenda. I'm not sure if that is about to repeat itself any time soon.

That's my hope anyway.

[ i.mage.+] exceptional moments
[i]= image, [+]= more info