Drumbeat: December 24, 2010

RBI stifles Iran oil imports

(Reuters) - The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said it will not facilitate payments for Iranian crude imports, in another blow to the Islamic Republic's oil business as global pressure on Tehran grows over its nuclear programme.

Although United Nations sanctions do not forbid buying Iranian oil, the United States has pressed hard for governments and companies to stop dealing with Tehran. Many oil majors and banks have abandoned their dealings since then.

Hurricane Forecast Calls 2011 Potentially Worse Than 2010

The forecasting team at Colorado State University (CSU) led by Phil Klotzback and Bill Gray say in their first forecast for the 2011 hurricane season that they expect it to be an above-average Atlantic basin tropical storm season along with having an above-average probability of a major hurricane landing on the U.S. coastline and in the Caribbean. The team acknowledges that for the past 19 years of issuing early December forecasts, they have yet to demonstrate real-time forecast skill. They have, on the other hand, demonstrated significant real-time forecasting skill with their early June and early August predictions.

Consumers face double blow of higher petrol and oil prices

CONSUMERS are facing a "double whammy" of increases in fuel costs.

Petrol has reached a high of 128.9p in Derby – and fuel oil costs for home heating have nearly doubled in the past month.

Panic buyers 'causing oil delivery delays'

MANY homeowners are facing delays of one to two weeks for home heating oil deliveries because people with adequate supplies are clogging up the system with unnecessary orders, it has been revealed.

Although oil reserves in Northern Ireland are plentiful, exceptionally cold weather is causing record demand and slowing down deliveries to at least half their normal speed.

China Energy Shortages And Their Impact On Your Business

These shortages are likely to become increasingly common in China over the next five years. The issue with respect to electricity is especially acute. China derives 70% of its electricity from thermal coal power plants. This number is not expected to change substantially in the near future. China has more than enough thermal power plant generating capacity. The issue is whether China has sufficient coal to fuel those power plants.

Nigeria: Food scarcity, soaring transport fare dampen Xmas celebrations

On a recent visit to Sokoto, VF found out that farm products like tomatoes, onions, pepper and others were unusually expensive.

An attempt to unravel the cause the artificial shortage, revealed that the flooding that ravaged the state and other parts of the north recently contributed largely to the scarcity.

Gazprom to disburse RUB 25 bln for developing RF regional gas distribution

MOSCOW (Itar-Tass) -- Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller has adopted a program for the development of Russia’s regional gas distribution networks in 2011, the company’s official said on Friday.

“Under the document, the Russian gas monopoly will assign 25 billion roubles [USD 1 = RUB 30.57] for the development of gas-distribution networks in 65 regions of the country in 2011,” the official said.

Canadian Study Tries to Start Adult Discussion of Oil Sands

Last week a peer-reviewed study conducted by a panel of experts assembled by the Royal Society of Canada attempted to set forth objectively the facts about the development of the country's oil sands resources. The report takes aim at oil companies, governments and environmental groups alike over their respective roles in the development of the Athabasca bitumen resources, and finds fault with everyone. The committee that authored the report also recommended steps to improve the environmental monitoring in this economically important industry for Canada.

End the Ethanol Insanity: Ed Wallace

Ethanol damages engines and is not a viable alternative to fossil fuels, but farmers and lobbyists don't want you to know that.

Best of EB 2010

The best of EB 2010. We tried to mix it up. You picked some. We picked some. Happy Holidays from EB.

John Michael Greer: Twilight of the chicken tenders

I have a soft spot for the current “Slow Food” movement, but the very choice of that movement’s name points out that it’s unlikely ever to be anything more than an affectation of the leisured well-to-do. People who work all day, whether at a job or at home, don’t generally have time for slow food, and it doesn’t do them any good at all to reinforce a set of assumptions that insist that the only alternative to slow food is the prefabricated industrial product that passes these days for fast food.

What’s needed, really, is the revival of the sort of cooking that working class people used to do for themselves back in the days before cheap energy made the current food system possible: good food cooked in a way that doesn’t place unreasonable demands on the time or energy of people who have many other things to do.

The Dust Bowl: Lessons from the Greatest U.S. Environmental Disaster (audio)

NASA research scientist Benjamin Cook explains how the Dust Bowl years of the American Midwest were not entirely a “natural disaster” and how lessons learned then prevented a sequel.

Mexico's Pemex Crude Oil Exports Surge In November

MEXICO CITY (Dow Jones)--Mexico's state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, saw its November crude oil exports reach their highest level since March of 2008.

Pemex exported an average of 1.617 million barrels a day of crude last month, compared with 1.377 million in October and 1.220 million in November of 2009. The average price was $76.79 a barrel, up from $74.30 in October and $72.44 a year ago, the National Statistics Institute said in its trade report Wednesday.

Supplies remain tight, eyes on 2011 contracts

Low sulphur gas oil premiums in the Middle East held firm on the back of strong demand from East Africa, while gasoline and naphtha looked supported on persistently tight supplies, traders said.

The market is also keeping a close eye on 2011 term contract negotiations. Saudi Aramco is among those in talks with customers for its gas oil and gasoline purchases.

The state oil giant is looking to import 1-2 cargoes of gasoline and at least four cargoes of gas oil per month next year, trade sources said.

A Holiday Wish and a Holiday Warning for Crude Oil

One can only hope that someone on Wall Street or in Washington will have a Dickensian epiphany this holiday. Failing that, I'm buying more oil calls.

CNPC ups overseas oil production

China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) said on Thursday that its average annual growth rate of overseas crude oil production reached 15.6 percent, with gas production at 21.3 percent during the past five years.

CNPC, China's biggest oil and gas producer, said in a statement on its website that overseas oil production is more than 10 million tons a year and the total length of its overseas oil and gas pipelines is 9,600 km.

A student interview with Derek Skees

For those who argue that nuclear energy and oil drilling will damage the natural beauty and small-town feel of the Flathead, Skees responds, “The people want to get back to work, and (employment) far outweighs a small-town feel.”

Furthermore, Skees prides himself in being a conservationist and not an environmentalist. In other words, Skees believes in “responsible growth.” However, he’s not at all concerned about the threat of finite resources.

“There is no such thing as peak oil,” he says, “If the Gulf oil spill proved anything, it’s that oil is not a fossil fuel — it’s a naturally reoccurring process.”

T. Boone Pickens: Our Ongoing Energy Crisis

One billion dollars every day.

That's how much money we're sending overseas to fund our dangerous and growing addiction to OPEC oil.

China aims at deepening cooperation with Uganda in infrastructure, energy sectors

China will continue to commit itself to assisting Uganda in developing its infrastructure and a self-sustained oil industry, said Chinese ambassador to Uganda Sun Heping in a recent interview.

"The Chinese government has attached great importance to the development of infrastructure in Africa, Uganda in particular, and made it one of the key areas of cooperation in the framework of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum," said Sun in an interview with Xinhua.

Accountants, Texas board still at odds over Enron

AUSTIN, Texas – To many in the accounting world, Carl Bass is a hero. Long before Enron became a worldwide symbol of scandal, Bass told his supervisors at Arthur Andersen LLP that something was amiss with the Houston energy giant.

But the Texas state board that licenses accountants sees Bass differently — as unfit to continue in his profession.

Pemex Resumes Service at Repaired Oil Pipeline

Petroleos Mexicanos, Latin America’s largest oil producer, said it completed repairs on an oil pipeline that supplies Mexico’s largest refinery following an explosion over the weekend.

Pemex, as Mexico’s state-owned oil company is known, finished the work last night and started shipping crude through the 30-inch pipeline to the plant in Tula, Hidalgo, a press official, who declined to be named because of company policy, said today by telephone.

For many Gulf oil spill victims, a glum Christmas

For many people along the Gulf Coast, there won't be much holiday cheer this Christmas.

It's been more than five months since the well was finally capped after spewing millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf. Many shrimpers and oystermen are catching and selling only a fraction of previous hauls. Business owners who saw a summer of lost revenue are still struggling to pay their bills, and many had to lay off workers to make it through the slow winter months.

Midwest farmland prices soar due to strong prices

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Increased commodity prices and strong demand have sent prices of farmland skyrocketing, making it more difficult for young and beginning farmers to get established but strengthening the balance sheets for those who own the land.

Pay-As-You-Go for the Environment?

Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) is emerging as a winning consumption model for the environment. It does so in two ways. First, by charging for incremental use, PAYG discourages overconsumption often associated with flat rate pricing. Second, it incentivizes reduced or shared use of resources during peak periods in order to avoid excess investments in capacity that would otherwise be underutilized for much of the time.

Laudable growth

Its core business is heavy engineering work and, with projections of the increased importance that rail will come to play in post-peak oil society, it is critical that there remains here a facility to build, service and repair rolling stock.

The New Zealand economy never was, and never will be, biased towards heavy industry, but there are infrastructural elements it is critical to maintain.

Top 10 Greentech Influencers of 2010

Since influencers are what makes the greentech industry world go round, we thought we’d bring you the 10 individuals we think had the biggest effect on the greentech sector this year. Some are obvious, and some may be surprising, but here’s who we thought changed the landscape for better or for worse:

Lower your home's winter heating tab with simple steps

Even simple, low-cost steps can reduce heating bills. They include changing the furnace filter (monthly in cold weather), running ceiling fans in reverse, using a programmable thermostat and putting up storm windows (or if none exist, plastic wrap).

Cavemen burned wood

While the word "biomass" once conjured up pleasant images, it is becoming increasingly clear that the promotion of this old caveman technology as "clean and green" is a colossal "greenwash" by the timber, waste and energy industries attempting to cash in on lucrative public "clean" energy subsidies.

28 Canoes for women oyster collectors

The Women's group of oyster collectors in Lamin Daranka, West Coast Region, Thursday received 28 canoes worth D364, 000 from the Adaptation to Coastal and Climate Change project (ACCC) at a ceremony held at the NEA head office along Jimpex Road, Kanifing.

Funded by the UNDP and implemented by the National Environmental Agency (NEA) the sub-regional project seeks to develop and pilot a range of effective coping mechanisms for reducing the impact of climate induced coastal erosion in vulnerable regions in the participating countries. The presentation of the canoes was in recognition, by the project, of the oyster collectors' active participation in mangrove restoration, protection and preservation.

Nigeria: Renewable Energy, Key to Tackling Climate Change

Abuja — The federal government has said that awareness on renewable energy technologies will help in tackling the challenges facing the country on climate change.

Climate Change: The rise of a Google issue

On “climate change” and “global warming”, early mentions begin in the 1970s with growth in the subject exploding in the 1990s. The latter phrase has been eclipsed by the former in recent years. But the much hyped “global cooling” discussion of the 1980s barely rates a mention when compared with the current climate warming discussion.

Oil to revisit triple-digit prices next year: Rubin

Rubin has always been a maverick, and during his time at CIBC never hesitated to tell Canada’s oil and gas industry what it didn’t want to hear. A Cassandra of sorts, Rubin’s book, Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller, talks about a coming age of triple-digit oil prices and how it will throw the machinery of globalization into reverse.

The Star recently sat down with the economist to find out if our world has, in fact, started to get smaller.

Oil Rises in London as Snowstorm Returns, Inflation Spurs Commodity Demand

Crude oil in London traded within 1 percent of a two-year high, as the return of snowstorms to parts of Europe buoyed expectations that fuel demand will increase.

Gas pump prices rise above $3 a gallon

NEW YORK — The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline topped $3 on Thursday.

It's the first time that the average retail price has been above $3 a gallon at Christmas. The average pump price rose about a cent and a half a gallon overnight, to $3.01, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. That's 14 cents more than a month ago and 43 cents higher than a year ago.

Millions of holiday travelers expected

Despite the high cost of car travel, auto club AAA still expects huge numbers of drivers on the road.

AAA predicts more people will travel this year compared with 2008 and 2009. AAA surveys show about 92.3 million people will travel at least 50 miles from home over the holidays. Most of them — 93% — will travel by car.

Oil Consumers Grow Wary as Some OPEC Members Target $100 Crude

(Bloomberg) -- Oil importers are growing wary of the impact of prices near two-year highs as some OPEC members foresee a further rally to the $100-a-barrel level and Arab oil ministers gather for a meeting in Cairo.

No signal from OPEC as oil nears $US100

CAIRO - OPEC gave no signals on Friday it would supply the world with more crude, despite oil prices trading near a two-year high and with most analysts predicting a rally above $US100 per barrel.

Qatar oil minister says no complaints about supply

(Reuters) - The oil market is very stable and Qatar has not received any complaints about supply, the country's oil minister said on Friday.

"I think so far the market is very very stable... So we don't receive complaints about supply," Minister Abdullah al-Attiyah told reporters in Cairo before a meeting of Arab oil producing countries.

Oil May Rise From Two-Year High on Outlook for U.S. Supply, Survey Shows

Oil may increase from a two-year high next week amid speculation that the U.S. Energy Department will report inventories tumbled this week, extending the biggest monthly supply drop in four years.

Sixteen of 30 analysts, or 53 percent, forecast crude oil will rise through Dec. 31. Eight respondents, or 27 percent, predicted prices will fall and six estimated there would be little change. Last week, 53 percent of analysts forecast the market would drop.

$90 Oil In a Weak Economy Is Telling Us Something – Deustche Bank Sees Oil Spikes by 2012

I’m sure you noticed that oil crossed $90 this week. I’m sure you have also noticed that the economy in the United States and Europe is not exactly booming. I wish I could time travel back to the year 2000 so that I could tell people that 10 years later oil would be $90 per barrel in a weak economy. I would have sounded about as sensible as someone predicting the Dow Jones at 500 or 50,000.

Oil prices are behaving like a currency

Oil has re-entered the US$90s price range in spite of occasional strengthening of the dollar. The reasons include record- setting winter weather in the northern hemisphere, boosting demand for heating oil. What are the implications of these higher energy prices for tottering national economies this time around?

Off The Reservation: Oil

Faced with declining portfolios and the near-collapse of the entire banking system, the analysts at Morgan and Goldman basically manufactured easy, short-term gains in the market by releasing competing forecasts on oil prices that drove the market sky high—one more absurd than the next. First, Morgan Stanley announced that crude oil prices could top $150 in 2008. Not to be outdone, Goldman countered days later that they believed it was trending closer to $200. If either scenario was sustained for any prolonged period of time, the global economy would have come to a screeching halt. Magically, both banks backed off these prognostications when the government began to hold public hearings, and price hikes cooled down, although an argument can certainly be made that prices have still been egregiously high compared to the demand in the marketplace over the past two years.

The disquieting aspect of this fluctuation was that Morgan Stanley in particular had more than just a motive to push oil prices—they had skin in the game. As an outsider looking in, I was shocked to discover something that was fairly common knowledge in financial circles: Morgan Stanley is more than just a primary analyst and investor in this field—it is one of the largest oil-related companies in the world. Morgan has significant direct holdings in nearly every aspect of the oil industry, from refineries to shipping to stockpiles and reserves.

But wait, it gets better.

The Last Christmas in America

As unemployment rose toward 10%, the January 1975 cover of Ramparts magazine blared: The End of Affluence: The Last Christmas in America. (TLCIA)

The government responded quickly to unemployment, high inflation and rising budget deficits: it started manipulating data to mask the politically inconvenient realities of rising inflation, unemployment and deficits by playing switcheroo with Social Security Trust Funds, inflation data, etc.--games it continues to play to cloak reality from the media-numbed public.

Post-Peak Oil Trends

From the very first issue, our view has been that the world is running out of cheap, easily accessible oil — and that fortunes will be made trying to replace it.

A taboo topic in the days of $30 oil, some people dismissed us as crazy. Others called us 'Peak Freaks' on national television.

But we've been vindicated — our readers, enriched — by the decline of big oil fields, the rise of cleantech, the new importance of unconventional oil, and the arrival of $150 crude.

New Interest in Turning Gas to Diesel

WASHINGTON — Diesel and jet fuel are usually made from crude oil. But with oil prices rising even as a glut of natural gas keeps prices for that fuel extraordinarily cheap, a bit of expensive alchemy is suddenly starting to look financially appealing: turning natural gas into liquid fuels.

Gas output in Russia's Sakhalin to exceed 25 bln cubic meters in 2011

Gas production in Sakhalin in Russia's Far East will reach 25.3 billion cubic meters in 2011, 800 million more than that of this year, Governor of the territory Alexander Khoroshavin said on Friday.

Oil production in Sakhalin will amount to 14.9 million tons, a slight drop from that in 2010, he added.

Belarus fishes for gas discount, Moscow stands firm

(Reuters) - With less than one week until the New Year, Belarus has yet to let up on its demands for Russia to agree on a lower 2011 gas price, prompting both Prime Ministers to discuss the gas contract by phone on Friday.

Gazprom offers to cut prices 15% for Estonia, Latvia if deliveries raised

Russia's gas giant Gazprom will cut prices for Estonia, Latvia in 2011 by 15% if gas deliveries there are increased to pre-crisis levels, Deputy Chairman of the Management Committee Valery Golubev said on Friday.

New Russia oil product tax regime expected in Feb

(Reuters) - Russia set to introduce new regime for oil product export duties in February 2011, news agencies quoted an Economy Ministry official as saying on Friday.

Russia trails in petrochemical development

Qatar and Russia, which both have more natural gas than they can easily sell, are seeking new uses for their biggest natural resource.

Both are intent on developing a diversified petrochemicals industry based on inexpensive feedstocks derived from natural gas.

But while Qatar, which is already the world's leading exporter of liquefied natural gas, will continue to focus on export markets, Russia will develop chemical projects to supply its growing domestic needs, predicts Colin Chapman, the president of Euro Petroleum Consultants based in London.

Iran opposition: 'Dark future' awaits the economy

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's opposition leaders said Wednesday that a "dark future" awaits the economy because the government didn't listen to economists when it slashed energy and food subsidies in a country already struggling under biting U.N. sanctions.

Former presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi support the government's effort to rein in subsidies but said in a rare statement posted on their websites that it is being implemented badly.

Shell Pushes Forward To Drill Well In Arctic

The Deepwater Horizon accident last April put a halt to offshore drilling — not just in the Gulf of Mexico but in Alaska, too. Despite that, Shell is pushing ahead with plans to drill an exploratory well in the Arctic Ocean, in the Beaufort Sea off the north coast of Alaska.

South Korea May Get at Least 11 Spot LNG Cargoes, Ship-Tracking Data Show

South Korea, the world’s second- largest buyer of liquefied natural gas, may receive at least 11 spot cargoes of the fuel in December and January to meet demand for heating in winter, according to ship-tracking data.

Nippon Yusen to Triple India Capesize Fleet on Demand for Coal, Iron Ore

Nippon Yusen K.K., Japan’s second- largest operator of dry-bulk ships, plans to more than triple its fleet of capesizes serving India because of demand for coal and iron ore in the world’s fastest-growing major steel market.

Australian, Canadian Uranium Stocks `Undervalued' on Pent-up Global Demand

Uranium stocks, already trading at higher valuations than their national benchmark indexes, will rise further amid predictions the price of the fuel may surge as much as 30 percent, investors and analysts said.

Uranium prices, which last month climbed to the highest level in more than two years amid a pickup in demand from China, will rally as the global economic recovery spurs countries in Europe and Asia to increase purchases, they said.

China calls subsidies proper

SHANGHAI — China is defending its subsidies for wind and solar power against a US complaint to the World Trade Organization that such support is unfair, saying its policies are best for fighting climate change.

Yesterday’s relatively mild response probably reflects Beijing’s desire to keep relations on a positive track in the weeks leading up to Chinese President Hu Jintao’s state visit to the United States, which begins Jan. 19.

China Plans End for Tax on Biofuel Made From Recycled Cooking Oil

China will end the consumption tax on producing biodiesel with used edible oil, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement posted on its website today.

BlackRock Blames Credit Crisis for Clean-Energy Fund Outflows

Renewable-energy funds suffered record outflows this year, reversing their direction from 2009, as money managers including BlackRock Inc. said the credit crunch dimmed the outlook for solar and wind power projects.

Are e-readers greener than old-fashioned books?

The Sierra Club's "Mr. Green" has concluded that unless you're a fast and furious reader, the energy to manufacture and dispose of an e-reader is probably greater than that of a traditional book. If you read at least 40 books a year, the Sierra Club says, the e-reader may be greener, but if you read a lot less, stick to a regular book.

U.S.-Mexico Pact Hailed as Key Step Toward Solving Southwest Water Supply Woes

Damage from a spring earthquake in Mexico set the stage for a breakthrough last weekend in tense negotiations between the United States and its southern neighbor that some hope will usher in an era of cross-border trading of water rights in the parched Colorado River Basin.

Mexico has agreed to store some of its share of the river's water over the next three years in Nevada's depleted Lake Mead reservoir while the country repairs 398 miles of canals and pipelines damaged April 4 in the Mexicali region by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake.

Mexico's three-year water deposit -- accounting for less than 1 percent of Mead's total capacity -- will do little by itself to alleviate the critical water shortage in the southwestern United States or reverse the decadelong decline in the reservoir's water levels, analysts said.

In a Tight Holiday Season, Some Turn to Barter

Bartering, an age-old mode of commerce, has taken hold this year as the recession draws a broader spectrum of people trading everything from designer clothes to guitar lessons.

The phenomenon is rooted partly in environmental concerns about crowded landfills and the energy consumed in manufacturing as well as a mainstream embrace of recycling. Social media like Facebook lend momentum to the swaps as people join forces to trade, share or negotiate better deals from retailers.

Bush Policy on Lands Is Reversed

The Interior Department reversed a Bush-era policy on wilderness on Thursday, restoring the authority of its Bureau of Land Management to identify and recommend new areas for protection.

E.P.A. Says It Will Press on With Greenhouse Gas Regulation

The Environmental Protection Agency announced a timetable on Thursday for issuing rules limiting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and oil refineries, signaling a resolve to press ahead on such regulation even as it faces stiffening opposition in Congress.

EPA seizes permit power from Texas on greenhouse gas emissions

WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday that it will seize authority from Texas to regulate major emitters of greenhouse gases because Gov. Rick Perry and state regulators refused to implement the rules.

The move caps a long dispute between Texas and the EPA, which have clashed over the Obama administration's push to regulate industrial sources of carbon dioxide emissions.

Dirty Coal, Clean Future

To environmentalists, “clean coal” is an insulting oxymoron. But for now, the only way to meet the world’s energy needs, and to arrest climate change before it produces irreversible cataclysm, is to use coal—dirty, sooty, toxic coal—in more-sustainable ways. The good news is that new technologies are making this possible. China is now the leader in this area, the Google and Intel of the energy world. If we are serious about global warming, America needs to work with China to build a greener future on a foundation of coal. Otherwise, the clean-energy revolution will leave us behind, with grave costs for the world’s climate and our economy.

Climate Lobby Sandbag Sells Carbon Permits as Christmas Gifts

Sandbag, a climate lobby group, is offering people a way of supporting European Union efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by canceling permits as a Christmas gift.

Business 'should lead' on global warming, says U.N. climate secretary

(CNN) -- Private businesses are better placed than governments to tackle global warming because they can act faster, according to panelists at CNN's climate change debate.

High profile figures in the private sector and the United Nations agreed the urgency to reduce carbon emissions was such that business could not afford to wait for politicians to act.

Would global warming be so bad?

So what is there to say that the pre-industrial era climate is really the optimal climate? That the benefits of a possible warmer climates wouldn't outweigh the disadvantages? I have asked that many times to Al Gore supporters and either gotten no answer at all, or some list of alleged (and exaggerated) disadvantages that completely overlooked the benefits.

Expect more extreme winters thanks to global warming, say scientists

Scientists have established a link between the cold, snowy winters in Britain and melting sea ice in the Arctic and have warned that long periods of freezing weather are likely to become more frequent in years to come.

An analysis of the ice-free regions of the Arctic Ocean has found that the higher temperatures there caused by global warming, which have melted the sea ice in the summer months, have paradoxically increased the chances of colder winters in Britain and the rest of northern Europe.

Climate Change and ‘Balanced’ Coverage

The true worst case from doubled carbon dioxide is closer to 18 or 20 degrees of warming, Dr. Alley said — an addition of heat so radical that it would render the planet unrecognizable to its present-day inhabitants.

Dr. Alley calls the usual news media presentation of the issue a form of “false balance.” In his view, mainstream climate science should be seen as coming down on the conservative side of a range of numbers that runs from 2 degrees to 20 degrees. And in setting public policy, he said, lawmakers need to entertain the possibility that any of these numbers is correct.

Post-Peak Oil Trends , above:

TOD's for-profit stepsister? Jeez!

P.S. The Peak Oil profits are still rolling in. In fact, Brian has just found a new type of drilling company that promises to double U.S. production... And it's already being used by major oil companies all across North America.

Nice to know we'll be producing 10MMBD+ soon......and ....

But we've been vindicated — our readers, enriched — by the decline of big oil fields, the rise of cleantech, the new importance of unconventional oil, and the arrival of $150 crude

.....I must have missed that one.

I have a love-hate relationship with this site, (Energy & Capital). They almost always give you the straight scoop on what is happening with energy in the world, as well as throwing a few depressing stats about water and other things that are declining fast. But then they tell you how you can make huge profits from the coming absolute misery that is about to engulf the world.

World population right now: 6.89 billion people.

World population in 2040: 8.8 billion people.

It took us 120 years (from 1800 to 1920) to get from one to two billion people. We've added almost five billion in the past 90 years.

And we'll add two billion more in the next thirty.

Hand-in-hand with energy and water shortages will come a struggle to feed a growing world. The market is already responding, and there are numerous ways to play it.

Ron P.

The words you bolded above shows the mind of an individual whose mind has rotted by greed. Further insight to this person's character is uncovered by their use of the word "play" when suggesting ways to profit. This person reaches for the heights of pompousness.

Back in the day they'd get the guillotine. Today, they have Xe.

I think they may be aware of the irony...

Re: Expect more extreme winters thanks to global warming, say scientists

There was a post on RealClimate regarding this study:
Cold winter in a world of warming?

I haven't read the study (a subscription is required), which appeared in the Journal of Geophysical Research. However, I understand that their model did not include a dynamic ocean, instead using a slab ocean with fixed parameters. I am left to wonder whether there is a change in the ocean circulation as a cause of the recent extremes in Winter weather...

E. Swanson

On the other hand...

Re: Would global warming be so bad?

What has always troubled me the most with the view that we needs to stop "climate change" in the form of "global warming" is the idea that it would be bad if the Earth became warmer.

by Stefan Karlsson
Stefan is an economist currently working in Sweden

What exactly do they put in the water that they give economists?! Yeah, Yeah, I know there must be at least a half dozen economists in the world that can actually think and understand reality but seriously!

"Would global warming be so bad?"

A timely question when the Southeast US is expecting it's first White Christmas in over a century, the first ever recorded in some places:

The Atlanta area has been preparing for the possibility of a white Christmas since news hit earlier this week. But now, Augusta might also be seeing some, too.

"It's more than likely not going to be until very late Christmas Day," said Meteorologist Chris Liscinsky, of the National Weather Service in West Columbia, S.C.

National Weather Center records, which go back to 1850, have never shown snow falling on Christmas Day in Augusta.


Trust me, I know, last weak I was wearing a down jacket that last saw service during winter when I lived in Buffalo New York...

""Would global warming be so bad?"

A timely question when the Southeast US is expecting it's first White Christmas"

Ummm, did you read any of Black Dogs post above. "GW" is really universal climate disruption.

The switch from living on a planet that has a north capped with ice all year, to one where the north is more open ocean than ice at the end of the summer--a condition that just a few years ago, most climatologists thought wouldn't happen for decades, at least--is already altering predominant wind patterns in the north hemisphere from mostly west-east to north > south and south > north. So Greenland has temperatures well above freezing in the middle of winter while GA gets hit by blizzards.

This is what climate chaos looks like, or rather it is an extremely mild foretaste of increasingly weird, difficult to impossible climate disruptions that are just around the corner.

Thx, Barrett, for putting data to what I said below. Well and succinctly presented.

thanks ^^

Global warming is a more of an effect, an observation, than it is an essential problem. Remember, this is completely different from denying that the process is taking place, which is an important distinction that should be remembered by all. I find it very insulting to be lumped into AGW deniers.

The problem is that we are just damn greedy apes.

We will burn all the fossil fuels that we can, and we will spew all the CO2 into the atmosphere that we can, because it's profitable to do so. We will continue to breed like rabbits, and when war and disease and famine come, we will breed even more to make up for the loss.

The neofeudalists have won, people, because they understand what we are. They don't care about others, they don't care who lives and dies - and they are right, that's the natural state of things. The progressives have lost because they never understood that any attempt at human betterment would fail as long as you are allowing a destructive mammal to further destroy the planet. The progressives never addressed finance and population, and now it's too late.

To this very day, the so called progressives in America want unlimited debt expansion and unlimited immigration. Good riddance!

Global warming may be a problem for some humans, but it won't be for all. And even if it was a problem for all, nature would certainly "celebrate" in its own way once we disappeared, and the biosphere would restore itself.

Not bad till your last paragraph. Yes, some far-sighted billionaires may buy up land in Antarctica and figure out how to profit nicely from all the mayhem that is falling down around us, while themselves escaping unscathed.

But really it is likely to hurt absolutely everyone.

And 'nature,' if we can speak for her, is not particularly obsessed with us one way or the other. But if you mean by 'nature' : 'the totality of diverse life on the planet and the systems that support it' we have already pushed it into a death spiral that won't stop for a long time even after we are gone. There is no guarantee that life will recover substantially ever. The sun is, after all, getting hotter. Our push in the same direction could well mean that we are going into runaway global warming that won't stop till all the oceans have evaporated away. See Hansen's recent videos on this.

Yes. And more immediately, the very idea espoused by the article that, 'hey, global warming won't be all bad', is asinine. For one thing, the rate of change matters, and the climate is already changing faster than species can adapt, so they are winking out, one after another. For another, hand in hand with what we are doing to the atmosphere goes what we are doing to the oceans, which are absorbing a significant fraction of the CO2 we spew, thereby acidifying, making life much harder, soon impossible, for those tiny creatures at and near the bottom of the global food chain. Oh, and for those who don't get that or care about creatures other than humans, the movement poleward of climate zones is going to be a problem for us. The Canadian Shield and Siberia do not have the soils to replace the 'breadbaskets' of the Great Plains and the Ukraine, and as for Antarctica - there isn't going to be any soil to speak of under that ice. The Holocene was a nice cozy little set up for humans and all of life. The Antropocene upon which we have embarked - not so much.

You seem to be suggesting that there's no point in planning for the future. That's what being progressive is all about, working toward what seems to be a better future. Otherwise, it's back to the jungle and the Dark Ages, where brute force rules. If that's to be the future, then you can kiss civilization good bye. Of course, the politicians who call themselves progressive are only in it for the money, thus aren't real progressive thinkers.

If it turns out that AGW arrives on the high side of predictions, even the nasty brutish future life you appear to be projecting will fail as the Earth becomes unliveable for the most part. Remember that the human body can not survive when the dew point exceeds about 96F without a serious effort to seek shelter elsewhere. That would hit the roving bands of scavengers as well as the folks in the feudal castles. And, then there would come winter, which might be another round of Ice Age ice and cold. Worse yet, this may happen in the relatively near future. Looks like Mother Nature might deliver the coup de gras to humanity if we keep on keeping on...

E. Swanson

Nicely put. The last article about GW coverage in the MSM is very apt.

The very conservative IPCC is set against totally non-scientific denialist crap, as if these are the two poles on a continuum of reasonable positions. This leads the majority who only partly pay any attention to the conclusion that the 'truth' is probably somewhere in between these poles.

But in fact it would be almost impossible to construct an extreme that matches the other side of denialism. Perhaps rapture? Or maybe Hollywood movies that show ocean rise happening instantly and the world instantly plunged into a hyper iceage.

Every other position regarding possible negative effects, no matter how dire, have some sort of basis in science, usually much more robust and up-to-date than the IPCC positions. The general trend is that the more you move up the ranks toward the people that know the most about the situation, the more dire the predictions.

Hansen and Lovelock, some of the best informed scientists in the world on global systems, have produced compelling reasons that we could well be on our way to a 'Venus Syndrome' with Gaia wreaking her revenge on us (and most of the rest of life) with runaway global warming.

From that last article:

lawmakers need to entertain the possibility that any of these numbers is correct.

Sorry, but the only numbers that lawmakers care to entertain are those with dollar signs in front of them... sorry, couldn't resist.

Yes I understand, but face it, the progressives have lost.

At the end of a game, when you lose, you don't stay on the field.

Part of the doomer mindset is the tacit understanding that progressives basically lost, they didn't fight hard enough and they didn't concentrate on enough of the big issues. At least that's my take.

It's not a question of blame. The right wing, the neofeudalists, they won because they appealed to our greed, and it worked.

Do you want to join some zero population growth group (now that we have 7 billion and counting)? Do you want to protest in front of a Wall Street bank (after the TARP bailout, QE1,2, and counting)? Sure, be my guest, see how much good it does.

It's over.

You are so right. It has been over for awhile and hope is not alive. The sooner we fully realize and embrace that the better off we will be. The only good news is that we all die anyway. At best, the human race was a sick little experiment that failed miserably.

Damn! Must be Xmas. Does that to me too. But then I'm so already there it's hard to tell.
I'm reading this little book to melt a few of the cockles of my frozen heart.
Only for Xmas.

"A Siberian tiger at the San Francisco Zoo leaps a 12-foot high wall and mauls three visitors who had been tormenting her, killing one. A circus elephant tramples and gores a sadistic trainer, who had repeatedly fed her lit cigarettes. A pair of orangutans at the San Diego Zoo steal a crowbar and screwdriver and break-out of their enclosure. An orca at Sea World snatches his trainer into the pool and holds her underwater until she drowns. What's going on here? Are these mere accidents? Simply cases of animals acting on instinct? That's what the zoos and animal theme parks would have you believe. But historian Jason Hribal tells a different story. In the most provocative book on animal rights since Peter Singer's Animal Liberation, Hribal argues persuasively that these escapes and attacks are deliberate, that the animals are acting with intent, that they are asserting their own desires for freedom. Fear of the Animal Planet is a harrowing, and curiously uplifting, chronicle of resistance against the captivity and torture of animals."


Too bad the tiger missed the other two. Torturing animals should be a capital offense.

Humanity is hopeless as so called humanity won't do the things necessary for its own continued resistance. Whatever is left won't be weeping at humanity's loss. It is hopeless and there is nothing on the horizon that will change that. If this year didn't wake up so called humanity, what will. Mass starvation, I guess, but then it will be too late. We inherited a beautiful, bounteous planet but don't deserve it.

Populations of some countries are in decline. I think maybe populations of many more countries will fall into decline over the next decades. Everyone will delay having kids, the big cohort of older folks born in the oil boom years will pass on, even in developing countries the same forces (as in the developed countries) of brutal business competition will force people off the land (peasants and village people do, in fact have lots of kids) and living in crowded cities while competing for the litle oil that is left will put the brakes on the birth rate. Factor in global warming, very expensive food...I don't see the population rising beyond a few decades more.

I think there is a good chance that population will start to decline already during this coming decade.

It looks as if the death rate will increase this year for the first time in quite a while which could well be the beginning of a new long term trend in rising death rates. Meanwhile the global birth rate continues to drop, and that drop, as you say, could well accelerate. Urbanites generally have fewer kids than country folk, and last year (was it?) marked the first time that over half the world's population became urban dwellers.

GW and PO (and the growing awareness and anticipation of the same) will likely accelerate both of these trends.

Last years death rate was about .82% and my calculation from published mid year estimations that this rose to .86% this year. If we posit an acceleration of this rising trend to about .1% rise in death rate per year, and a matching drop in birth rate from its current 1.9 or so, the two would meet in about five years. This would also keep total world pop to 7 some billion.

At that point, population begins to fall, and again the rate of decrease in pop could well accelerate.

So even without massive war or famine (though increasingly massive natural catastrophes are pretty well baked into the cake from GW), we could be back below 7 billion before the end of the decade (after a brief peak above), then down below 5b in the following two decades or so.

I would like to think that most of this attrition could come from 'natural' attrition and voluntary lowering of birth rates.

But it seems very likely, unfortunately, that food and fuel shortages, famine, and especially extreme weather events (as were seen in Pakistan and Russian this year) will play increasing roles in increased death rates.

Yes, this decade could start to see the decline. 50/50 chance I would say. Definitely before 2040, I would wager.

But notice how long after industrial output and food production falls that population starts to fall:

Scenario 1

Interesting, no?

Yes, I am familiar with this model. And it may well go down that way. But this model seems to assume that shortage of food will be the main driver of population decline. As noted, urbanization can play a big role. And with GW, the food peak may come sooner anyway. Also, a long term rise in death rates has been anticipated for a while now since the boomers are starting to die off. Besides the expected places--Haiti, Afghanistan, various countries in Africa--I noticed that Russia and many of the former members of the USSR are showing very high death rates.

It does seem like not enough food is a primary driver.

Here is what they say:

World3 takes into account the momentum of population growth, the accumulation of pollution, the long lifetime of capital plants, the competition for investment among different sectors. It focuses especially on the time it takes for things to happen, the delays in flows, and the slow unfolding of physical processes.
Another feature is its many nonlinear relationships. Such relationships cannot be drawn with straight lines: they do not produce proportional changes over all ranges of related variables.

The drop in industrial output is also related to the lack of capital they discuss. Since our food system is now primarily industrial, the drop in industrial output likely includes dropping food production.

It's clear to me that they think we're headed for d) below (click for larger image):

Population Approaches Carrying Capacity

They almost say as much:

There is pervasive and convincing evidence that the global society is now above its carrying capacity. What policies will increase the chances of a smo0th transition back beneth planetary limits — a transition like c) rather than d)? (emphasis theirs)

Well, food prices have been going up globally, with another jolt up this year. Maybe that is driving this year's shift from a trend toward continual decreases in the crude global death rate to what may the beginning this year of an increase in that rate. (Sorry, it's too late at night and I'm too far into my nightcap to track down the relevant links right now.)

OK, I got it together a bit (though I didn't sober up much, so forgive any misschlepping, I mean misselping, er, mis-spellings.)

Inda has in fact showed a sharp increase in the death rate after years of decline:



So the death rate seems to have jumped up to well over 7/1000 after dropping to near 6/1000 last year.

This during rising global food prices:


When food prices rose to their highest level in recent years for this time of year.

So, tragically, food expense and shortages may already be putting a crimp on Indias and the worlds historically declining death rate.

Presumably, this is hitting the poorest hardest. Most of the rest won't notice till it's already gotten them by the throat.

Why is there a peak in pollution long after the peak in industrial output?


I don't remember if they mention why that is. Perhaps we resort to dirtier processes then eventually the contracted economy produces less pollutants? Just speculation.

I just looked into the Persistent Pollution part of the model and it's not clear on its own why it keeps increasing. Of course it's the interaction of the various systems they are modeling but I'm not going to take the time to figure it out now.

You can give it a whirl (evaluation version of the sim software is free for a time and download the Models package that includes World3 2005 edition):

Thanks for the link but I use Linux and FOSS.


There is no virtual machine you can run on Linux? Like Wine?

I have a number of apps that I have tried on WINE but have given up trying to get the to run. It seems to be optimised more around game programs and photochop. Also, any software optimised for recent Windows versions is unlikely to run on WINE as it has a large lag. I do have older Windows that I can run in VMs but it can be a pain in the beak. I stick to things that I really need to run. If they have made a version for Mac then they should not have huge issues making a version for Linux. It is more than about time that software developers should realise that they need to start taking notice of *nix and stop leaving it to WINE and VMs.


this has been out for a while, but it is new to me:

Arctic Dinosaurs

How did dinosaurs—long believed to be cold-blooded animals—endure the bleak polar environment and navigate in near-total darkness during the long winter months? Did they migrate over hundreds of miles of rough terrain like modern-day herds of caribou in search of food? Or did they enter a dormant state of hibernation, like bears? Could they have been warm-blooded, like birds and mammals? Top researchers from Texas, Australia, and the United Kingdom converge on the freezing tundra to unearth some startling new answers.


it seems global warming worked for a while for dinosaurs.

Even the scientists don't want to talk about GW worst case scenarios - we all like to fool ourselves. Like thinking it will take 1000's of years for the ice caps to melt. Or somehow, mankind might even prosper in a warmer climate.

But the reality is most likely much worse then anyone is talking about. It's clear a global mass extinction has already started and once the oceans die - mankind won't be far behind.....

The LAST large dinosaurs died something like 65 million years ago. A LOT can change, re climate and even plate tectonics, in that time.

During the Triassic period, all the continents of the earth were joined together to form a supercontinent called Pangaea. As the continent was so large, much of the interior was a long distance from the sea, which resulted in very dry, hot and arid climates. The first dinosaurs were to appear in the late Triassic. In the Early Triassic, however, land ecosystems were dominated by the immediate ancestors of the dinosaurs, the archosaurs.


During the Jurassic period, the supercontinent Pangaea was beginning to break up due to the mechanisms of plate tectonics (or 'continental drift'). This allowed narrow seaways to spread between the continents, but land links still existed that allowed the dinosaurs to spread throughout the continent. The extinction of the mammal-like reptiles at the Triassic-Jurassic boundary allowed the dinosaurs to diversify rapidly in the Early Jurassic.

The mild Jurassic climate (though still warm) allowed the largest dinosaurs to evolve. The prosauropods continued into the Jurassic and showed an increase in size (a common trend in the fossil record).


Of course, when one can't even convince the neofeudalists of evolution, how can this be discussed rationally?

A nearby local paper had this at the top of their opinion section this week:

Accepting the lie of evolution is wrong

... Then geologists said that the beginning of Cambrian Time, when complex life appeared, was 600 million years ago. Educated people came to accept this new theory of accidental creation, a universe without the need for God. In reality, evolution is a religion as much as creationism. We have been so hammered in schools and the media that dinosaurs lived hundreds of millions of years ago that nearly everyone has come to believe in evolution. The Bible gives a different account. It says God created us in six days (Exodus 20:11.)

This type of submission has been on the increase lately, it seems. A sign of the times, folks resisting change? I fear that an 'us against them' mentality, a symptom of fear, is festering amongst the populace.

Good to know Earth creation was so easy. Will come in handy when the Earth has been totally fried because of global warming.

This type of submission has been on the increase lately, it seems. A sign of the times, folks resisting change? I fear that an 'us against them' mentality, a symptom of fear, is festering amongst the populace.

Folks resisting change. What's happened to America? This use to be a country on the cutting edge. Now china is building high speed rail while we struggle trying to build high speed rail in a few locations. We know the grid must be modernized, but where's the impetus? All new construction should require solar, but it doesn't? Oil has peaked, yet we get the mantra "drill, baby, drill". The verdict is in on GW, yet any snow storm is a news story for Fox to run in counter to a warmer planet (causing climate change via changing wind patterns).

America was also in denial when Pearl Harbor was bombarded and that seemed to wake the country up to WWII. 9/11 woke the country up to terrorism. But Katrina did not wake the country up to GW. So, it would seem something has changed for the worse. Somehow the rock solid ability to go into braincrete has manifested itself from sea to warming sea.

People who refuse to accept the evidence that the Earth is more than 6,000 years old are delusional.

50 or 90 years ago, even ten years ago no one would have known, or cared, that a rag in Clay County North Carolina printed some nonsense about evolution.
And I had to look up Clay Country Progress, as Clay Counties I found like 18 of them.

The Internet has given voice and reach to a lot of people who before were voiceless --like me, too.

"Clay Counties I found like 18 of them."

It turns out that nearly all were named after the same guy; Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky, who never even visited most of these places. They were named after him in return for political favors and his status as "The Great Compromiser".

Fifteen counties in the United States, in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia


Seems like overdoing it a bit :-/

They just reran this earlier this week. I watched it. (I still haven't lost my childhood fascination with dinosaurs.)

They came to the conclusion that dinosaurs lived in the arctic all year. No migration, no hibernation. They may not have been warmblooded, but they had some method of maintaining their body temperature.

It ended with a claim that the asteroid was just the final blow of a process that had already begun.

Before the asteroid, the writing had already been on the wall. Continents were on the move. Air and water circulation patterns were changing, causing global temperatures to fall. The planet was slowly evolving into the world we know today, a world in which dinosaurs would not be able to thrive.

I missed the special, but even with 6 month nights, having lots of global warming gasses, including water vapor in the air, can really keep much of the warmth from the long summer around. But I imagine caves or 'nests' would have helped. Birds make nests and are more like dinosaurs than many other creatures around today.

On the other hand, maybe they had fur coats. '-)

Depending on the warmth of the oceans it is possible to maintain an above zero boundary layer in the Arctic year round. It would form a layer of low altitude stratiform clouds that would act literally as a greenhouse. The ocean currents at that time were different due to the significant differences in bathymetry. There may have been a strong warm current running near the North pole in that era.

Even for the current Arctic ice loss there seems to be a real under appreciation of the role of ocean waters in the climate system. So many articles on the Arctic ice sheet loss focus primarily on warming air temperatures and weather. But we know from sediment analysis that the waters are, in some locations, i.e. Barents Sea, the warmest for 15 million years.

Yes, and black carbon seems to have played an important role, too. I think in a lot of fora, those in the know are hesitant to even bring these factors up because denialists will predictably jump on them to say (illogically) that it proves there is no AGW and we can all go along on our happy motoring way.

The tuatara is halfway in between - cold blooded, but highly mobile at low temperatures.

This used to be a hot topic in vertebrate paleontology (and maybe it still is, but I'm an invertebrate guy so who knows ;).

For decades nobody would even considers warm-blooded dinosaurs a possibility. That anyone does nowadays is mostly thanks to one guy, the great Bob Bakker. The more recent discoveries of dinosaur bones with cavities for air sacs (like we see in birds), and exceptionally preserved ones with feathers, lends strong support to his ideas.

The problem with the term "global warming" is that humans are predisposed to think positively of it by the associations. Any "meme complex" containing "warm" is halfway to being acceptable.

We're so NOT sapient that our judgements change when holding a pencil in our teeth to stimulate the smiling muscles.


Let's kill off "global warming". Reasonable substitutes could be global heating, climate destabilization, etc. A great example of how the initial promotion of an inherently "positive bias" term probably greatly affects the human psychological reaction to it.

Global Warm & Fuzzying

My vote would be for CLIMATE DISASTER! and that might not be a strong enough term...
... CLIMATE FUBAR! That's about right.

"Disaster" suggests an event, something that happens and then stops.

How about "climate cancer"?

Climate Chaos is my preference. I liked Global Weirding for a while, but it might come off a bit too cutesy.

Too abstract, but sometimes I think of it as the Transient Response.

Climatological Cataclysm

I think you make an excellent point about the use of the word 'warming'.

I have been trying to think of an alternative too.

Do we even have a word or phrase for the concept 'a long-term/'permanent' change in environment in an area such that the area becomes inhospitable to supporting the life that currently occupies that area'?

We have the word 'inhospitable', but I can't think of a word or phrase that captures the 'change' or transition to inhospitable that could be used to better describe the realities of 'climate change'.

Re: The Ongoing Debate of the post-2005 Saudi Curtailment in Net Oil Exports

I suppose that this is really only a "debate" in Peak Oil circles, since the conventional wisdom in MSM circles is, to quote the WSJ, that the world is "Awash in crude," because of massive excess capacity in Saudi Arabia--and because a huge flood of Iraqi oil will hit the markets almost any day now. Listed below are the actual Saudi net export numbers and annual US spot crude oil prices for 2002 to 2009, along with my estimates for 2010.

Saudi Cumulative Net Oil Exports Versus US Oil Prices
2002-2010 (EIA, Total Liquids)

2002:  7.1 mbpd & $26
2003:  8.3 mbpd & $31
2004:   8.6 mbpd & $42
2005:  9.1 mbpd & $57
2006:  8.4 mbpd & $66
2007:  8.0 mbpd & $72
2008:  8.4 mbpd & $100
2009: 7.3 mbpd & $62
2010: 7.4* mbpd & $79*


As I have noted several times, it's interesting that the Saudi significantly increased their net exports from 2002 to 2005, in response to rising oil prices, but then their net exports started falling in 2006, in response to rising oil prices. It's also interesting that the Saudi stock market crashed at the same time that the Saudis started "voluntarily" reducing their oil exports--citing a lack of demand for high priced oil.

I suspect that we will see similar pronouncements from the Saudis as time goes forward, i.e., "voluntary" curtailments in net oil exports, due to a "lack of demand" for high priced oil.

In any event, it occurs to me that from the point of view of oil importing countries, the effect of the reduction in Saudi net exports has been the same, whether it was voluntary or involuntary. Of course, the widespread perception that the decline has been voluntary and that the Saudis have vast excess capacity presumably serves to keep consumers from making permanent changes to their consumption patterns, even as annual oil prices have exceeded the $57 level that we saw in 2005 for five years--and as Saudi net oil exports have been well below their 2005 level for five years.

We already had this announcement a couple of months ago:

Saudi King ordered oil exploration to cease. But will it matter?


Saudi Aramco's LPG export for 2011 will slump 23.5% to anywhere between 6 million mt and 6.5 million mt as it diverts product to meet local demand, term customers and trade sources said Tuesday.


Nice to see ELM in action, eh?



Oh great. So we can expect rationing just around the corner. Sooner or later the government is just going to have to lay its cards out on the table.

Ha! All they have left are jokers ;-)

The rationing will begin as economically administered. The wealthy will continue to drive for pleasure, the masses will drive much to work, later just to the bus, and later they will leave the car in the driveway. Finally, they will live in the car.

Rationing will happen when food deliveries are held up. Military, food, health services and public transit will be the favored recipients of gasoline and fuel oil. What is left will be rationed, just as it was in WWII. There will, of course, be a black market in ration stamps. And a new industry of counterfeiting them, stealing them and otherwise trying to get around the system. All predictable.


The last significant find were 6 oil fields in the Hawtah trend with 6 Gb OIIP in 1990. ASPO estimated a total of 15 Gb for the period 1982-2004.......

sorry, i think that is just 'simmonspeak' and not at all what i found.

hawtah area
field		year	eur	      source
hawtah 	        89      1.5 gb	           1
dilam		89	n/a
ginah		90	1.0  gb	           1
raghib		90	.60 gboe           3
nuayyim	        90      1.0 gb             4
hazmiya         90      .75 gboe           3
hilwah(gas/c)   90      n/a
unm jurf	93	n/a
nisalah		93	n/a
abu markhah	94	n/a
layla		94	n/a
abu rakiz	95	n/a	
usaylah		96	n/a
abu shidad	96	.617 gboe        3
shi blah	96	n/a
Total			10-30gb          1
                        15tcf  	         2

1- SAUDI ARABIA - The Main Fields Producing Heavier crudes
2 - SAUDI ARABIA - The Geology Of Saudi Arabia.
3- Giant oil and gas fields of the decade 1990-1999
(google books)
4 –kingdom of saudi arabia oil and gas, Mideast oil and gas(pdf)

a total of 50 named fields and new reservoirs in existing fields were found from 1982 -2004. i havent been able to find a lot published on reserve estimates, except as shown above, and that seems to makes it easy to conclude that 'nothing was found'. i on the other hand believe the saudis can hit a bull in the ass with a bowl of rice.

condensate contained in gas reserve additions 1982 -2004 could easily account for 7 gb additional.

neutral zone reserve additions are probably in the 3 - 4 gb range.

shaybah's reserves were probably 'booked' sometime in the '90's. that is 7 or 14 gb, depending on the source.

happy holidays !

All the fields you list are Hawtha Trend fields.

The decline of Saudi Arabian oil fields

The only sizeable oil field found in Arabia since 1967 is the Hawtah Trend fields which I circled in red. Notice how small the red area is compared to the blue and green.

Failure to find any more oil than the Hawtah Trend since 1967 was not for lack of trying. Saudi ARAMCO has access to ample capital and the world's top talent. Exploration technology has seen major developments since then, but technology does not guarantee results.

SAUDI ARABIA - The Main Fields Producing Heavier Crudes.

Also called the Hawtah Trend, they include Al Hawtah and structures discovered from June 1989. They are producing 200,000 b/d of Arab Super Light (ASL ASL - Algebraic Specification Language), 50 deg. API with 0.06% sulphur.

Actually that top line is incorrect. It should read: The only sizable field discovered since the early 70s... Shaybah was discovered in the early 70s then the tiny Hawtha Trend fields were discovered in 1989 then... nothing. Yes, that's been it. But it was not for the lack of trying. Since the early 70s only 200,000 barrels per day of newly discovered oil has been added to production.

But they have brought on new production from older fields found in the 50s and 60s that were either mothballed or not developed. When they bring Manifa on line in 2013 that will be the last of all their old fields. No more to be brought on line. And the fact that they have found only the tiny Hawtha Trend fields in 40 years of hard searching don't sound promising.

Ron P.

All the fields you list are Hawtha Trend fields.

yes, that is why the table is labled hawtah area.

Shaybah was discovered in the early 70s...

yes, i am saying that shaybah's reserves were probably added sometime in the '90's, following delineation and prior to start up in '98, certainly since '82.

tiny Hawtha Trend fields were discovered in 1989 then... nothing

that is not true. the claims made in your first link are not true either, just repeated simmonspeak.

this pdf lists a total of 50 named fields and new reservoirs in existing fields found 1982 -2004:


your second link is the same one i listed above as reference 1, documenting reserve estimates for the hawtah trend with a total of 10 -30 gb eur. apparently you didnt read the links i posted or your own link either.

you can lead a doomer to information, but you cant make him read ?

The last significant find were 6 Gb OIIP in 1990. ASPO estimated a total of 15 Gb... And: The only sizable oil field found in Arabia since 1967 is the Hawtah Trend fields...

15 Gb is within the range you quoted and yes there have been many very tiny fields found but nothing sizable or significant.

The fact that Saudi is finding these very tiny fields is an indication of their absolute desperation. Hell they are even looking in water two kilometers deep and under 7,000 feet of salt. If they ever did find any oil there it would be very expensive oil to produce.

Ron P.

15 Gb is within the range you quoted

no, i listed 27 - 47 gb in reserve additions.

you don't know(and niether, in some cases, do the saudi's)if these fields are tiny, giant or super-giant, some of them haven't been delineated.

saudi aramco's discovery to production cycle seems to be on the order of 15 years. shaybah was more like 25 yrs.

what decade do you suppose production from that deep water exploration is targeted toward ?

you don't know(and niether, in some cases, do the saudi's)if these fields are tiny, giant or super-giant, some of them haven't been delineated.

Giant or super-giant? That statement tells me all I need to know about your expertise in oil exploration. Saudi knows very well what each field will produce. To say that it might be a giant or super-giant is really just super-dumb!

Ron P.

Saudi knows very well what each field will produce.

yes, after delineation drilling, extensive testing and reservoir modeling they will have a preliminary estimate of reserves sufficient to make a decision about whether to go forward and when to go forward with production. then after many years of production, they will probably revise those estimates and revise them again through the life of the field.

i am simply pointing out that saudi aramco doesn't know what their reserves are for some of these named but not yet delineated discoveries. you surely don't know either.

now tell me all about your oil exploration expertise.......have you ever spent a day in the oil field ?

you seem to ignore most of what is posted and instead focus on some sentence or phrase which offers you an opportunity to obfuscate.

Ah, another lullaby to add to the list!

* high prices will take care of things
* technology will save us
* Electric Vehicles will reduce oil consumption as quickly as oil production declines
* the Saudis have some giant oil fields — maybe even a supergiant oil field — that they just haven't brought online yet. Don't you worry. They will soon. Just watch.

I'm certainly interested in Saudi Arabia :)

I just want to add what I think we can be pretty sure about for KSA and the ME in general.

Not because I think they will make a big difference in the scheme of things but simply because I'm fascinated by their lying. Different culture yes but the real reasons behind the Saudi lies are complex. In some ways they remind me of Mussolini's Italy. Distorted dreams of their own significance play a big role in the game they are attempting to play and the resulting lies.
Given this and plenty of other issues I've chosen to treat the ME situation as being similar to your typical civil or criminal court case. Thus the correct approach is to simply apply the well known concepts from the ancient practice of law.

What's amazing is how people generally ignore the rest of the world which pumps most of the worlds oil and often from small fields at fast depletion rates. In the rest of the world not only do we have real discoveries over the last 20 years but these fields have been discovered brought on line and depleted.

If the rise and fall of the North Sea and Alaska does not tell you all you need to know about the oil industry well then your missing whats really going on. Our last major discoveries where brought online and depleted in a matter of decades.

Next given all the obfuscation the best approach is to assume that the Middle East is similar to the rest of the world. There is no compelling reason to assume that they are radically different.

Once you do that what I think is the absolutely most important fact emerges. Its not claims of reserves indeed thats not even on the top. Its that the biggest similarity between ME fields and the rest of the world is that they are ridiculously easy to produce vs most fields in the world.

Using the self similar approach they map to the large onshore fields in Texas and Russia. And easy way to understand this is to consider Middle East production back in the 1960-1980 time period. With what today is considered primitive technology these fields produced a immense flow of oil.

If one simply extrapolated the production back then to today considering well known production rate increases from horizontal drilling and other advancements then Middle East fields should have been capable of production rates twice if not three times what they are now.

Simply consider for a moment what the production rate of Ghawar would have been if it had been initially developed with multi branched horizontal wells. Perhaps 10-15mbd or some almost crazy number comes to mind. Heck 20mbd is not implausible. It hit 5.7 in 1981 according to one source.
If one simply assumed the fairly common 10x increase in production rate of horizontal vs vertical wells you get 50mbd !

And no those numbers don't make sense they are not physically plausible thus as I said the most striking feature of the middle east is the prolific wells using rather simple technology. I attribute this not to some vast reserve level as claimed but simply to geologic conditions that resulted in natural fracture patterns making what are effectively extreme multi branched wells the norm not the exception.

One does not need to be and expert on technology to understand the importance of fracture patterns in well productivity the manual fracturing of shale for oil and gas illustrates just how important a role fractures can play.


Given all of this the actual reserves in ME fields can easily be substantially less than claimed.
Exactly what they are is in my opinion difficult to determine as the production pattern once the fields deplete seems to be very complex. Overall they seem to go from fields that are incredibly easy to produce to ones that have every problem known as water and pressure issues start to occur.

Steep declines become very possible. I'd argue that no one really knows for sure how these fields will produce as they become highly depleted. But problems will mount and maintaining consist production will become increasingly difficult. Using the self similar concept I don't expect final production to be all that different from other reasonably similar fields and regions elsewhere.

Finally given early production could the Saudi's and the ME still be setting on huge quantities of oil ? Sure simply use the example I made for Ghawar say comparing extraction in the 60's to today.
If one thinks such a comparison is really valid given the production since then it makes sense that huge quantities of oil still remain. A rough projection is OPEC has produced say 30% of its URR.

You don't really need to worry to much about the intrigue and innuendo. In my opinion the real situation is black and white. Either the early prolific production from ME fields was primarily a result of a natural super straw effect or some seriously large reserves. The to solutions differ by orders of magnitude and result in the same production profile for decades.

But not forever eventually you reach a point where you can discern a difference and the two claims diverge. This happens when the fields are finally developed with advanced technologies. If the truth is massive reserve levels well when the horizontal wells are drilled and the simple well of the 1960's worked over production will soar easily maintaining or surpassing earlier peaks. Also given most of these fields are developed with peripheral water injection the water front would move slowly despite the decades of production.

If this did not happen and given prices it seems clear it did not well then the solution that natural fractures played a role in the early production profiles has to be correct. The divergence between the two possibilities is simply too large. As I said its black and white.

All the Saudi's are doing is claiming that solution A is true while solution B is the reality.

Indeed given the above its pretty dang clear why real reserve and production data out of the ME is considered a state secret. The really data would probably send some jitters if not earthquakes through the world markets. No way would the world have kept its addiction to oil if the truth where known.

So personally I don't really see any huge issues here I all I see is people desperate to ignore something that can readily be deduced using a logical argument that would work in any court where the absolute truth is not known with certainty. You don't have to always know the exact truth if you did the concept of law itself would fail. Can you make mistakes ? Sure but in general if you look at case histories mistakes almost always come from perversion of the system of justice not from its correct application.

Given what we really know for sure I have no problem making my conclusions using an approach based on how the truth is discerned in a court of law. By its nature its not perfect however if you look at the ME and KSA using this method then the conclusions are startling and relatively easy to produce. Perhaps its not as scientific as many would like but the method has stood the test of time indeed its far older than science itself.

Ergo, the chance that SA is sitting on a supergiant oil field is vanishingly small. The chance it is sitting on giant oil fields (and not announcing them) is slightly less small.

But people want their lullabies and each person is attracted to a different sort. elwoodelmore's is "hidden reserves of oil just waiting to be produced." Nick's is EVs. X's is ethanol. For others it is Iraq or the creamy oil-filled center of the planet and so on.

As I have noted several times, it's interesting that the Saudi significantly increased their net exports from 2002 to 2005, in response to rising oil prices, but then their net exports started falling in 2006, in response to rising oil prices.

Perhaps they have been converting en masse to Buddhism and have decided to eschew materialism and wealth for a kinder gentler more naturalistic existence. It can't possibly be because their production has peaked and they've been lying about the numbers...

It might also help keep ones head attached to ones shoulders if you are perceived as being important to those who keep you in power in exchange for oil if you have 'lots of the stuff'.

Curtailment synonyms: suppression, downsizing, retrenchment.

Possible origin: docking the tail of a horse.

If the Saudis had just maintained their 2005 net export level of 9.1 mbpd, their post-2005 CNE (Cumulative Net Exports) would have been 16.6 Gb. Instead, their post-2005 CNE were about 14.4 Gb, a shortfall of over two billions barrels of oil, relative to a flat (not even increasing) Saudi net export rate. I think that we are seeing something approaching a collective CPSR (Cornucopian Primal Scream Response) among many members of the MSM.

It's really pretty funny when you think about it--oil analysts obsess over variations of a few million barrels of oil in US crude inventories, but they seem oblivious to a cumulative shortfall of over two billion barrels of oil, between what the Saudis would have net exported at the 2005 rate and their actual post-2005 CNE. In fact, analysts use declining Saudi net exports as evidence that there are millions of barrels per day of excess crude oil supply out there, i.e., that we are "Awash in crude."

The analysts live their professional lives in a in a gold fish bowl and most of them don't realize that the larger part of the universe exists outside the bowl;the remainder are keeping their thoughts to themselves in order to play the old go along to get along game and continue to collect their salaries and bennies.

There is an interesting word play to be made upon the term "analyst";it is sometimes expressed more or less in folk wisdom as follows:

He has his head so far up his Axx that he is completely in the dark.

Increasing price and decreasing production between from 2005 to 2007 should definitively be a sign of production constraints unless they have a lot of money they do no know what to do with. They spent a lot of effort to increase the spare capacity maybe they have a good reason.

I have used Jeff Rubin's EXIT lane here in this post:

M2 widening increases Sydney's oil vulnerability

New solar fuel machine 'mimics plant life'
The prototype, which was devised by researchers in the US and Switzerland, uses a quartz window and cavity to concentrate sunlight into a cylinder lined with cerium oxide, also known as ceria.


For those looking for a Campfire type post, I reposted a post of George Mobus's called "What is a Sustainable Living Situation for Humans?" on Our Finite World in two parts:

Part 1

Part 2

Not to worry, sunshine and good times coming for 2011 and beyond!


Led by us shopping till we drop (Christmas Eve dash caps banner shopping season) :


Other headline (leads to a video so I didn't post the link):
Holiday sales on track to be highest since 2006...

Also heard on the radio: Existing home sale prices up 5+% in the latest month tracked...but then again, mortgage applications down some 18%...

...the folks at TAE still predicting further huge housing price declines...

Until now, my house which I bought two years ago was holding its value on Zillow...during the last couple of months though Zillow claims that its value has fallen some $10,000...

China Fails to Complete 91-Day Treasury Bill Sale, Traders Say

China’s government failed to draw enough demand at a bill sale for the second time in a month as seasonal demand for funds and higher reserve-requirement ratios left banks with less cash.

Re: New Interest in Turning Gas to Diesel, up top.

I have often wondered what was the hold up. This article says cost. It turns out that turning natural gas to liquid fuel is not cheap, either financially or energy wise.

But the process is not 100 percent efficient. In fact, the finished product has only about 62 percent as much energy as the raw material did.

I will ignore the financial cost since markets may solve this as oil prices rise and natural gas stays cheap. Instead I want to think about the EROEI aspects.

As most here know I have little respect for EROEI/Net Energy analysis. I won't go into the reasons again now, but here is a case that EROEI would clearly give a no go.

But the real world markets especially if oil continues to rise say it should be done. There is money to be made albeit at a lot of risk if natural gas prices should rise to former ratios.

Those who think markets are God should consider the conflict here between two flawed ideologies: free markets and EROEI. It shows that neither are a reliable guide as to what form of energy should be produced since they both can not be right in this case. For sure one and maybe both are wrong.

Markets can not be correct except over a very short time period that resolves a supply/demand situation through price adjustment. Over longer time periods markets are frequently wrong. They are wrong at market highs and they are wrong at market lows.

I love this case of changing forms of energy from one to another because it is relatively simple in that both forms while completely different are nonrenewable fossil fuels. Each comes from under the ground and from wells, sometimes from the same well.

Yet, the EROEI argument says don't do it even if it is profitable and demanded by the in place vehicle infrastructure. Furthermore the EROEI argument so often used to put down ethanol says that changing natural gas to liquid is worse than ethanol. It will be hard for the anti ethanol crowd to justify.

To my mind this shows again that EROEI is a fallacious concept that can not be applied to real world decisions. The natural gas to liquid form change illustrates it again.

X I don't quite get what your arguing. EROEI is a dead simple thermodynamics concept its a fact not something you believe in or disbelieve.

I think your mixing this with the economics of low EROEI processes. In general if a fuel source has a high EROEI then it obviously a economical fuel. If its the best form generally liquid even better.

The obvious is burning two barrel of oil to extract one.

Now the economics of low EROEI fuels or even negative if you have a form conversion are open to debate.

What I don't think is open to debate is the ability to run a economy on low or even negative EROEI fuels that was based on high EROEI. It will have to change exactly how is what should be debated. Claims it will have a minimal impact should be suspect simply because the economic implications of low EROEI are not well understood but obviously not good.

Most people that dismiss EROEI and its economic impact use our current economic system to justify their position what they don't do is consider how the economy runs well after infrastructure developed using high EROEI fuels degrade. For oil at least this suggest the real problems are not when high oil prices happen because of scarcity and low EROEI but later when the economy has to replace its current infrastructure with low EROEI fuels.

I happen to think that oil has been expensive enough long enough that we are now hitting this second phase where things that once made economic sense are suddenly hit by receding horizons. Sure a few GTL/CTL projects will be done but in the long run few will be done. I suspect for example that over time the rate of incremental additions to Canadian tar sand output will slow and eventually fall as it becomes increasingly uneconomic to develop.

The problem is its a bit of a slow process that hits increasingly harder the further out in time you move.
As time goes on financial system based on cheap energy degrades and economic calculations which show that EROEI is not and issue fail as the financial basis itself changes. In short we don't have any money.

Also I happen to think that the process accelerates rapidly but thats my own view point. In my opinion a financial cliff also follows slightly behind rapidly falling EROEI as net wealth creation goes negative.
Its delayed but its even steeper than the underlying fundamental change. The reason is fairly simple wealth creation in a complex society is based on each layer extracting far more than they are worth from the layer below. Its a pyramid of bullies if you will each stealing lunch money from those below. The margins collapse rapidly as the amount of wealth creation shrinks. The number of blood suckers that can be supported thus falls rapidly. Its all on the margin and the margins fail fast.

In fact I think we are right in the middle of it. And I think you will soon see that financial calculations based on past standards will begin to fail dramatically. Its all because of the collapse of margins and leverage.

Mike, don't do it. We have all tried with X for a long time now, similar to Nick.

If you want to waste several hours of your life, stay in this conversation. If not, I recommend that you drop it.

Roger that!

Since I have given up trying to explain EROEI to x, my life has improved greatly. The birds sing more sweetly, I have a new spring in my step, and I find random $20 bills by the side of the road. It's all good.

x is an ethanol tool, and will let nothing get in the way of that, least of all reality. Don't waste your time and your sanity.

As usual, I agree with your analysis--or at least almost all of it. Where we differ is on CTL. I think that for political reasons there will be a rush to CTL as oil imports keep declining. Why do I believe this? Because the powers that be will do WHATEVER can be done to keep business as usual. BAU requires lots of liquid fuels at prices not much higher than they are now. SASOL has proven that CTL can be profitable even when oil prices are much lower than they are now. When unemployment goes over twenty percent there will be irresistable political pressures to
1. ignore environmental consequences and
2. to do most anything that will stimulate employment and
3. to provide liquid fuels in all possible ways--provided that the costs are below the generally increasing prices of imported oil.

We know that CTL works, and we have a lot of coal in Montana. If we need more water, it can be piped in from a thousand miles away, given current oil prices.
CTL will be partly a market response to declining domestic oil production and declining oil imports to the U.S., but the decisive factors that will cause a rapid ramping up of CTL are political.

Now I sincerely hope that I'm all wet on this topic, because the environmental consequences of large-scale CTL are horrendous.

Don, yes some CTL will be built but it's hard to see that very much of it will. I make the same points with CTL that I make with EVs: a financial crash is going to put a real damper on all sorts of things no matter how worthy they are.

From the futurecoalfuels.org web site:

How long would it take to construct a CTL plant? What is the cost?
CTL plants are costly to construct, about $1 billion dollars for a 10,000 barrel/day facility, and up to $6.5 billion or more for a world-scale 80,000 barrel/day plant with a five-seven year lead time.

Let's say that of the close to 19 - 7.5 (including NGL) = 11.5 million barrels that are about to disappear off the world oil market from the U.S.' perspective we want to replace half of it or 5.75 million barrels / day.

Further assume that only the largest plants are built. That's 72 plants at a minimum of $6.5 billion per plant or $467 billion — likely the cheapest end of the estimate.

It doesn't sound like much money in today's context but I assert that it will be an enormous amount of money by 2020.

Will private industry pay for all that? I doubt it. Private industry is going to be starved of credit soon as the contraction continues apace. Will the government pay for all that? Maybe a bit of it but not all of it and if it does the fuel will go to the military.

Then there is the little problem of getting all the coal to these plants. My understanding is that the rail system is currently maxed out so more track would have to be installed. Thus the true cost is even higher.

P.S. if you want to read some extremely well-done spin, read their rest of their FAQ (linked above).

My understanding is that the rail system is currently maxed out so more track would have to be installed.

Very maxed from personal observation.
I just drove I40 from Oklahoma to California, and never observed so much rail traffic.

How much coal does it take to make 80,000 barrels of oil? 80,000 barrels is uh...3.2 million gallons, 20 million lbs, 10,000 tons....so maybe 20,000 tons of coal? Any idea what that is in rail cars? (According to M. Downey, this is 1.5 bargeloads, or a mere 1/6 of a "boatload"...dunno how that converts to railcar loads?) ;)

Anyhoo...my point, such as it is, is whether the volume of coal in a CTL plant requires dedicated tracks. Is this number a lot? How much coal does a typical coal fired power plant use every day?

Merry Christmas, everyone

CTL factories would be built right next to the coal mine; quite likely the same company would own the CTL plant and also the coal to supply it for at least twenty-five years. Why transport the coal by rail? It would be more efficient to transport the liquids out by pipeline.

Hence I do not see our rail system as a binding constraint on the rapid development of CTL production.

The reason it takes so long now to build a CTL facility is because of environmental regulations. I predict these constraints will be scrapped within ten years.

I wonder about your assertion. It sounds reasonable on the surface but then by the same logic no coal would be transported by rail to electric plants today. They would simply build the plant beside the mine and run high-voltage lines to where the electricity is needed. Pipeline == electric line.

Yet lots of coal is transported by rail (almost all of it?).

I'm actually slightly inclined to accept your assertion but I still think some more depth needs to be added to your analysis to be totally convincing (at least to me).

It is desirable to place a steam-driven power plant next to a cold body of flowing water (i.e. a river).

The reason, I believe, has something to do with what James Watt invented.

[ i.mage.+]

Doesn't a CTL plant need enormous amounts of water, too?

Yes, CTL requires a lot of water; it will be piped in from several hundred miles away at substantial cost. CTL will not be cheap, but it will be under $90 per barrel--and it will be purely a domestic process of production.

The slogan of gaining independence from foreign oil will also be a powerful political argument in favor of CTL.

Note that Montana already has laws that favor mining companies. I think that is where most of the CTL plants will be located.

Note that just a few weeks ago a major CTL plant using Eastern coal opened in the U.S. It will be interesting to track its profits. If it is profitable (and I think it will be highly profitable), then we can expect more CTL facilities pretty soon. I do not think there will be a major ramp up, however, until oil imports fall substantially from current levels.

Don - I haven't paid much attention to CTL but the current chat is pushing me closer to seeing the potential. I don't see the potential capex expense to be much of the problem if the profit potential is truly there (and potentially greater as we push further into PO). The world is always full of capex looking to generate a profit. If CTL beats other investments the money will be there IMHO.

But as far as the potential environmental consequemces being "horrendous" I just don't see that. I live in Houston, thousands of miles away from your little environightmare. I don't see it having any negative effect on me nor the vast majority of our fellow citizens. Thus it is not a "problem" as you so smugly imply.

The previous statement does not represent the position of the auther. It was made to represent the position of the same segment of the population and politcians who have no problem with the concept of swapping blood for oil so a little environmental "disruption" far from their view would be no big thing.

The pollution from SASOL is visible to the naked eye from satellites circling the earth. It in itself is a horrendous polluter, and as Andre points out above, we're going to need a LOT of SASOLs to compensate for declining oil imports to the U.S. and declining domestic U.S. production.

I think government will provide the funding the old-fashioned way--by increasing deficit spending and having the Fed do more quantitative easing to buy the newly issued government securities. In other words, I foresee the printing of money as the chief source of finance for CTL. There will be some private money too, because CTL is profitable, but I think private sources of funds will be dwarfed by government funding.

As the economy flounders due to the increasing scarcity of oil, I think the political pressures on the federal government to do SOMETHING will become overwhelming. CTL won't be the only response, but as Germany showed during the nineteen thirties, CTL can be ramped up quickly with enough support from government.

CTL is already a popular idea in Montana. When our net oil imports are down to half their current level, I think CTL will be looked to as the "savior" of the BAU U.S. economy.

If westexas is right (and I think he is) it will not be many years until our net oil imports will fall to half their current levels.

It seems you can't connect the dots. How many storms must there be until you understand what is happening?

Storms of My Grandchildren

Matt,I think you need to re-read Rockman's disclaimer

The previous statement does not represent the position of the author. It was made to represent the position of the same segment of the population and politicians who have no problem with the concept of swapping blood for oil so a little environmental "disruption" far from their view would be no big thing.

Sure a few GTL/CTL projects will be done but in the long run few will be done. I suspect for example that over time the rate of incremental additions to Canadian tar sand output will slow and eventually fall as it becomes increasingly uneconomic to develop.

I ran through the economics of the Talisman/SASOL JV to build a GTL plant in my reply to X. Now, lets try the economics of an oil sands plant.

A company can product shale gas for $4/mcf. The market price is currently around $4/mcf, so they are making nothing.

However, if they own an oil sands plant, they can run the 1 mcf of gas worth $4 into their plant and use it as fuel to produce 1 barrel of synthetic oil worth about $90. If Talisman had an oil sands plant, that is what they would do, but since they don't, their best option is building a GTL plant to turn $4 worth of gas into $10 worth of diesel fuel.

The EROEI of the GTL plant is about 0.62, whereas the EROEI of an oil sands plant is about 6. Neither is close to the EROEI of a good Arab oil field at 40, but these companies don't have any Arab oil fields. All they have is a lot of money and nowhere else to invest it.

Talisman is making billions in cash flow from its North Sea oil fields, but there is no point in using it to drill more wells in the North Sea because they know they won't find any more oil there. A GTL plant in Northeastern BC is as good as it gets for them since they have lots of shale gas but were late to the trough on oil sands.

I agree with you that EROEI is not all that useful a concept.

In this case, the Canadian partner Talisman is sitting on hundreds of thousands of acres of shale gas leases. Their production costs are $4/mcf, and the current market price $4/mcf, so they are making approximately nothing.

On an energy equivalent basis the natural gas should be trading at about $15/mcf, or about 3.75 times as much, so the EROEI ratio is completely meaningless.

However, SASOL has its very expensive GTL process which can turn the $4 worth of natural gas into $10 worth of diesel fuel. If gas was trading at $15, this would make no sense whatsoever, but as it is they would be more than doubling the value of the product.

Of course it's a very polluting process that turns a clean fuel into a dirtier one with a tremendous waste of energy, but the economics seem to make sense. And it would be easy to deliver the diesel fuel to China, which really needs it, versus building an LNG terminal which would be very expensive, and ship natural gas which is widely available elsewhere at lower cost.

Reading the items posted today we see that consumer Christmas spending is up, interest rates seem to be up a bit (so bonds are down). Oil is at $91.50 and poised for big gains next week, also according to posts made this date. And that price is without any real improvement in the economy! Also without any significant attacks on oil fields or refineries by terrorists – an event that would cause prices to perhaps double, or more.

Then we have “the last Christmas.” Good timing there. Reading and agreeing makes me feel appropriately Scroogey. Bah, humbug!

All of these pieces have me asking questions. Like, does the increase in holiday spending factor in the decline in numbers of outlets/stores? What impact is QE2 going to have on those interest rates? Will Moody's actually downgrade US debt? Where will oil prices settle without any attacks? With one or more such attacks?

And finally, will 'they' find a way to use nanobots to create oil and food from rocks, as my son seems to think will happen?

Balancing out all of the doomer reports, what is the most optimistic outlook today for the predicted 3% decline in oil per year? Wouldn't the real production and use declines come in consumer products rather than food and energy? As we were asked, what will this future look like in 1 year, 3 years, or 5 years or 10? A gentle slope, stair steps, or a cliff?

Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, and the like to one and all.


"Then we have “the last Christmas.” Good timing there. Reading and agreeing makes me feel appropriately Scroogey. Bah, humbug!"

Ha! Humbug back at ya!

My wife and I went to an X-Mas party last night, attended by perhaps 30 quite successful upper mid-class BAU addicts. I ran into some folks I haven't seen in a while and took stock a bit of their mindset. All expressed frustration with the continuingly slow economy, and confidence that things are turning around again. My 'que sera' wife was proud of me; I didn't want to dampen the holiday spirit of the group.

Eventually, one of the female guests, an accomplished accordian player, took control and led the group in Christmas songs, eventually turning to traditional Christian hymms (quite loudly, at that point).

I'm not a Christian and my wife is a Jew, yet we tried to enjoy the party, though any conversation was now impossible.

Our Hostess (a devout ex-Christian) came by and whispered that she was sorry; she wasn't expecting this. We garden together and some of my rants have begun to have an effect on her world view. My wife looked a bit stressed and asked if we could make our appologies. After we left, she said the music and the general atmosphere of the BAU consumptionfest had made her a bit nauseous.

It seems that this may well have been "our last Christmas". Merry....whatever...to all of you TODers! Best hopes for more reasons to celebrate going forward.

Hi Ghung I've been out and about a bit in the "real world" lately myself. If you think many people will change their oil habits because oil supply is getting critical then your mistaken. The number that even know about peak oil is minuscule. Those that believe its a current problem even smaller.

My point is its not really on the radar for most folks they blame high oil prices on the devalued dollar or big oil or OPEC or ...

Depending on how things go this is a culture thats going to get hit eventually with an ever worsening oil crisis. I don't think they will know what hit them.

It really strange actually our economy if people where smart should have stayed in the dumps and people should have aggressively pulled back on spending. This theoretically should have been worse if you understood peak oil and debt. And eventually we should have pulled out slowly via renewable/rail energy.
The shrunken economy would have allowed debt to be paid down defaulted kept oil prices reasonable and eventually allowed us real growth as we invested in a renewable economy.

We did not do that indeed not anything really close. So in a sense the false rebound now ensures that the next time around people will get smacked down a lot harder.

If that does not finally teach us then we will get hit again. However I think after the next collapse in the markets the system will face structural failure. By this I mean literal infrastructure failure i.e roads going unfixed etc. But also it simply won't be able to support the FIRE economy and massive government spending. Large segments of our current economy will simply fail as they can no longer be supported.

I guess we had a choice we could either shrink the tumor or chop it off. We chose the latter.

The problem I see is that structural failure makes it difficult to understand the underlying reasons.
People will focus on the failure itself not why things are suddenly failing. It will drive demand for even more quick fixes. So I have a real problem if this is true since in my opinion it makes any chance of some sort of concerted action to change the basis of the economy impossible. Everyone will be worried about their own particular major problem. Pension funds, falling house prices etc etc.

In fact it seems that we are already at the start of structural failure. Persistent unemployment is probably the biggest signal but we have plenty of others. It seems that all that the high but not deadly oil prices accomplished was to slow the process for a bit. The economy based on cheap oil has probably been dead for a while. At first high housing prices offset the effects then the crash made prices relatively lower for a time plus the infusion of trillions of dollars. Nothing was really fixed simply the progression of events was delayed for a bit. I suspect eventually it will become clear that nothing was really delayed simply some parts where collapsed before others if we had not had a economic crisis.
This it simply changed the order of some events and sped up some situations and slowed down others.

Again unemployment probably is much higher now than it would have been if the economy had not collapsed.
Perhaps housing prices fell faster than they "should have". Eventually of course these situation will no longer be ahead and unemployment will again rise and housing prices fall. I think we are getting very close to this point again. Eventually over the next few years you will see that all the games did nothing two years from now we will be just as collapsed.

The problem again is no one is going to see this what they will see is that the Government managed to stave off falling housing for a period. And perhaps for a brief period of time unemployment started getting better and oil prices where relatively low.

If so then it can be fixed again so you have powerful enforcement for the belief in shornt term crisis and fixes. The fact they are temporary is simply ignored.

But eventually hit the reason why systems collapse they collapse because no one really believes its happening. No one wants to make the hard decisions that for a significant sacrifice now will avert collapse.
Indeed the short term fixes are used as and argument that the system itself is not collapsing.

In general everyone looks backwards to some sort of imagined golden age when things where better and clamors to rewind the clock.

Sorry for the long post but I've found it interesting since I don't know what to do about it. I don't think that there is a real solution. I just hope that regardless of what happens some sort of reasonably functional economy can limp along until we finally change.

Relax, Mike. In the spirit of the season we "forgive them, for they know not what they do".....wait,,, that's the Spring equinox Passover,,,,uhh Easter, yeah that's it. At least for us solar folks, the sun rises earlier, sets later as each day goes by. That's something.

I don't expect much from folks when it comes to responding to our crisis convergence since, like you, I'm not really sure how to respond myself. I do feel that acknowledgement is a good start, though. I certainly don't begrudge people enjoying the season; fixin' to go have some holiday cheer myself; relieve some of the burden that "knowing" brings.

Clouds are gathering. Let it snow!

People like to be part of a group. Right now the "group" is still the large nation...."we" like to function together and be part of that larger whole.

I see only change occuring when truly gasoline shortages start. Then people will still focus on their group and being part of that group and helping everyone, but the group will shrink....it will be their town.

People want to help others and work positively, not see doom. Only a few people like to see out beyond the horizon. We are in a tiny minority. But we are in good company.

I don't think that there is a real solution.

There is a bit we can do to make the downward slope less severe but really adaptation is the only viable strategy at this point, in my view.

Here is a short conversation I had with Michael Mills yesterday (see his page on PO Evolutionary Psychology and Peak Oil).

Mike writes:

New word for the dictionary: "synergistic collapses" -- multiple collapses in different areas, each reinforcing one another in a death-spiral positive feedback loop...

Only a miracle -- such as major breakthurs in nuclear fusion / algea to oil / zero point energy (...right)... can save us.

André writes:

There is no saving the situation, Mike. Many people make the mistake of thinking that solving just one problem (most people like to focus on energy) is going to make a difference. Because ALL our systems are stressed, solving one problem would simply buy a bit of time until the next system fails. Of course once one or two systems fail the others come down with them, as you point out above -- even the one that we had thought we had bought some time.

We are so deep into overshoot the only way out is if we were to get down to between one and two billion people plus completely re-engineer our economy to operate from renewable resources only.

You have to judge how likely that is for yourself.

Mike replies:

Generally agreed. But, OTOH, the future is always damn difficult to predict. IMHO, I think it will take a few overshoot type crises (oil shocks, etc.) to wake up the masses to sustainability.

After that, it is all about mitigation / preparation / relocaalization / culture change / and resilience. In fact, your own website is a exemplar of that.

André writes:

Thanks re: my website.

On the topic of the future being difficult to predict, I have a different view that I explain here.

Mike replies:

I think we are in general agreement.

Where we might disagree is on the possibility of a "white swan." Kurzweil args that knowledge is also on an exponentially accelerating uptrend. There may be unanticipated solutions.

For example, many futurists of the 1960s/70s completely missed the internet.

Bottom line for me is still pessimistic. Maybe only a 5% or less chance of such a "white swan." And, that is pure speculation...

André writes:

Ok, if it's just 5% I'll give you that :-)

Kurzweil doesn't understand energy, I don't think. Plus I think his main thesis is likely incorrect in the way he equates computer processing power with intelligence. It's a good step forward but I think he jumps the gun.

We should be in the same town — this is perfect stuff to discuss over a beer!

I didn't even mention what climate chaos has in store for us...

Kurzweil mystifies me. I can't imagine what part of the elephant he's got a hold of, but maybe that's me, and the part that I have a hold on.

As you said, computer processing power and memory storage does not equate to 'Knowledge' .. we're still throwing rocks at each other.. 'smart rocks' perhaps.. but the throwers aren't acting any smarter.

Afraid I have to go back to Sci-Fi to get any satisfying conclusion for this, as Spock said to Lt. Saavik in Star Trek VI, 'Logic is the BEGINNING of Wisdom, not the end..'

Merry Merry,

Hi, Bob. For one thing, I think he's missing the energy system in his understanding of the world, just like the expand-into-space people, the EV's-will-save-us people, the Earth-can-easily-support-50-billion people and the....

As for his Singularity thesis, it's provocative but too narrow in its understanding of intelligence, in my view. He's clearly brilliant with technology but also blinded by it.

Happy holidays to you, too.



Happy Solstice!


Have yourselves a scary little Solstice


It's beginning to look a lot like fish-men


I'm Dreaming Of a Dead City


There is lots more where these came from...

Thanks, H.

16.1 kwh to the batteries today despite some clouds. It gets better from here (for a while). I, for one, don't need a religious context to enjoy life's cycles. Things are pretty awesome the way they are.

My guess is C: cliff. Global production will drop off like a cliff. Why? because of horizontal drilling and enhanced recovery. "Things could get a whole lot worse before suddenly falling apart." -Donald Fagan, Steely Dan.

I concur. We are going to experience a "switch" turning off, thus more of a shark fin than a gentle oil decline curve. Though I think it is going to be as much due to a collapsing financial system as for physical reasons. Nonetheless, they will all conspire to cut off oil much more quickly than almost anyone is thinking now.

Here is the gentle curve:

ASPO World Oil Model

Here is the shark fin:

Greer's Stages of Technic Societies

Can hardly wait for all those derivatives to come crashing down. The only way out of the financial crash coming is via a global debt jubilee. That won't happen because most people don't even see the problem so how could we possibly align on such a drastic solution?


This image comes to mind...

Train off cliff

When various complex systems begin to reach their minimum operating level the house of cards will fall. Pipelines and refineries are classic examples, but MOL applies to many (most?) of our critical systems. This is why I'm a fan of modularity and distribution. Efficiencies of scale will backfire; massive systems require massive inputs or they cease to function. As you say, when this happens to just one or two critical systems, it's like flicking a switch. The interdependencies are built in.

I am in agreement that we are headed for some type of cliff event. Most likely the possible trigger events for this would be the fall below MOLs in a major country or group of smaller countries, or the collapse of the purchasing power of the US dollar or other major currency. If multiple trigger events occur at the same time, which is distinctly possible, there could be one big step off that cliff.

Further I believe that both of the trigger events I mentioned above will, without doubt, happen one day. We just don't know when. I'm not even sure we will get through 2011 without some major oil and product supply problems, but most major energy analysts and many here are not nearing so pessimistic - and I hope they are right. My life will be better if BAU continues, and better if some of the discussions here turn out to be just some sort of nightmare which will just fade away in the light of day.

In fact the longer that most people hold onto the dream that those pieces of paper in their pocket will actually be worth something on the downslope of oil production, the longer our present system may continue to function. In other words, we may be able to continue to allocate oil by 'price' in fiat money instead of some other method, such as quotas, trade deals, military threats and wars, and domestically not resorting to rationing or a major devaluation of the dollar. It probably won't be long before we see what road we are truly on.

No telling what the trigger events will be but if I'm right 2011 will mark the beginning of social discord in the wealthier nations. We are all ready seeing some in Europe. I think it will spread.
I've said this before but it worth repeating.

On the financial side I think the most important numbers are already out. We had a fairly good holiday season but a lot of people used cash credit usage was way down. This was not renewed faith in the system as reported more the last good times for a lot of people. If I'm right expect housing defaults to soar but also expect gasoline usage to stay stubbornly high. Many Americans have given up on the debt fueled American dream and retreated to what I call small consumerism using cash to buy smaller items.

They are not out in the streets just yet but I think a big shift has taken place with people focusing on making their daily lives better and not paying off debts.

So they will pay for gasoline and not pay the mortgage and as their lives get steadily crummier they will get increasingly pissed off. I'd not be surprised in the least to see a whole lot of people start dodging whatever taxes they can from consumers to small business. Having lived in China and Vietnam the most striking fact was no one obeyed any laws esp tax laws if they could get away with it. In Vietnam stop signs only worked if they posted a guard.

Certainly and event could easily set things off esp later on in the year if oil prices keep rising but regardless I think you will see this new mentality express itself. For those who's lives where centered on debt and the American dream expect more terrible tragedies of families killing each other as things fall apart. Expect more formerly normal people to explode in suicidal acts.

Although our wars seem to never end now every year more and more troops are leaving the service with years of combat experience. They will increasingly come home to a shattered America with no hope of work. These are young men quite capable of killing and they will become increasingly embittered. I expect quite a few will get entangled with the Mexican Mafia indeed many soldiers are now of Hispanic descent.


he FBI believes that gang members may enlist in the military to escape their current environment or gang lifestyle. Some gang members may also enlist to receive weapons, combat, and convoy support training; to obtain access to weapons and explosives; or as an alternative to incarceration. Upon discharge, they may employ their military training against law enforcement officials and rival gang members. Such military training could ultimately result in more organized, sophisticated, and deadly gangs, as well as an increase in deadly assaults on law enforcement officers.

This is not memmel speculation its a real problem already. Expect it to get worse rapidly. Esp as disturbed soldiers commit drug offenses or petty crimes and are sent to prison with gang members.

The motorcycle gangs in the US grew out of WWII thence Korean and Vietnam vets that never adjusted and eventually developed into criminal gangs.

In 2008 high oil prices and the housing bust primarily impacted the middle class. In 2011 high unemployment and former members of the middle class will begin to take jobs away from the more poorly educated lower classes. If you shop you see this today older obviously educated workers working in fast food places etc. This will make life unbearable for many on top of high oil prices.

I see all kinds of ruptures if you will occurring. Now government workers with their juicy pensions are despised by many. Anti-Immigration feelings are rising steadily. Racial tensions are increasing.

This time around its not financial its social. Indeed on the financial side the Government has put in so many backstops to protect the rich I suspect the system cannot fail like it did in 2009.
The problem is they obviously have now set the stage for the social fabric to begin to tear.

I suspect a lot of people will be surprised at just how thin the veneer of civilization really is.
And last but not least I don't think we need 150 dollar oil to cause all this in my opinion even the current status quo is unsustainable. Even as oil prices held steady food prices have climbed and price inflation in commodities has been widespread. By keeping oil prices down all that seems to really have happened is other critical goods and services have continued to get more expensive.

Indeed I think one of the biggest problems with pyramid schemes is when they start to collapse and people start sliding down and see their standard of living falling they are not falling into and empty bottom but one already filled to the brim with those that never made it. Its this more cutthroat competition that will fracture our society not some middle class guy losing his house but some former middle class guy taking a job flipping burgers from a poor teenager that can barely read that now has no chance.

Sorry for the long post but as the year progress I'll be increasingly watching how the social situation evolves. Financials are no longer the issue. However I think you can see that rising oil prices become even more of a problem this time as they directly inflame the underlying social problems.

Everything you say is possible (I would even say likely) — but let's not so quickly throw out the possibility that the financial system implodes. As time passes, the likelihood of that increases, in my view, since it is — to me — an inevitable end-state.

I was reading a piece last week or the week before about collapses. In the piece there was apparently a journalist meeting an official of the U.S.S.R. In this meeting the official said, "It's very likely that the Berlin wall will not exist by the end of the year." He said that in the morning and that evening the wall had already started to be dismantled.

Lots of room for things to surprise us!

Two things make me think financial collapse is now secondary not that its not eventually coming but only later on.

First we now have debt being moved to the government balance sheets. As more and more governments do this what you have is a rising relative baseline. One reason the US is pressuring the EU to explode its balance sheet is that as long as all the governments are seeing ballooning balance sheets they basically don't matter. Interestingly its like a town where everyone defaults on their mortgage whats the bank going to do. In this case obviously its a bit different the banks effectively get and infinite income stream from the ballooning debt. Sure if things lasted eventually a lot of it would be inflated away but still the haircut is fairly small.

Next we already see the willingness of governments to do whatever it takes to keep the system running this goes well beyond debt its TBTF. Regardless of how things unfold the banks have been given the green light to speculate as much as they want. All losses will now simply eventually be moved onto the government balance sheet.

Now they basically get the winning lottery ticket everyday if they don't then it will be exchanged for a new one. All you have to do is create a systematic risk and you win.

So I don't see a route for any sort of traditional collapse instead one day the system will simply stop working. I think the key was the flash crash we saw in the stock market.

We will get some sort of imbalance somewhere and the various governments will attempt to pour money into the situation. The problem is as they do so they will cause and imbalance elsewhere this will cascade till the system effectively freezes. And I think it will be fast over a matter of days if that. Its not a collapse simply everything will freeze and it will be impossible to unwind all the transactions that failed.

On a slightly different side to try and get and idea consider the new flash mob concept. Its very powerful. So in effect what I'm talking about is a massive stampede causing a huge number of colliding stampedes.

Its going to take a while until the financial system reaches the point it can collapse in this manner. Indeed if you want a recent example I'd argue the collapse of the Soviet Union is probably the closest.

At the moment overall the backstops by the governments are stabilizing the system over the short term. What I'm suggesting is that the system won't fail until the backstops start to interact badly with each other. To get a scale of when this would start to happen US government debt would have to be perhaps 10 times its current level. Basically something approaching Japan.


Japan is at 192% and the US is at 39. Ten times would put it at 390% or twice Japan.

However I don't think its going to hit those levels in a simple manner its not BAU and expanding debt but a rapidly expanding debt on top of a collapsing GDP. So consider for example the debt level being constant and the GDP falling by 50%. Thats and extreme but thats what I'm talking about.

Also GDP is a poor measure for this because the important part is GDP sans the result of expanding debt. Real GDP without intervention. I'd argue without the financial rescue the US GDP could easily have fallen another 5-10%. This is important because its the failing real economy that matters.

So I think the financial side still has plenty of room left its the collapse of the real economy that will collapse the system. The ballooning debt is more of a side effect. As I said eventually it will simply distort the overall system till it freezes solid and rescues start to create new problems faster than they solve existing ones.

So it will take longer to set up but the ending is far more exciting.

I think now way are we going to see any sort of traditional financial collapse its too late for that. Indeed we already had it.

Possibly. The herd mentality can kick in at any time and everything can still go poof.

Upon discharge, they may employ their military training against law enforcement officials and rival gang members. Such military training could ultimately result in more organized, sophisticated, and deadly gangs, as well as an increase in deadly assaults on law enforcement officers.

You can already see an example of this with the Zetas in Mexico.


I wonder if we might get a sharkfin effect that falls to a lower level, but then stays at that level for a long time. Think 400,000+ stripper wells running in the US producing a slow but steady flow of ~10 bbl/day. I could see KSA's wells with their max contact wells watering out and them being converted to stripper wells with down-hole pumps. It wouldn't surprise me to see KSA producing 5 or 6 mb/day for many years as they suck on the old wells, and produce the heavy oil from the South Ghawar at a slower but steady pace.

Dunno but I doubt it can support our current civilization. One would have to bet war or the threat of war would be common. Also as I've mentioned before I doubt the army will be using Chevy volts to fight battles any time soon.

Not to say the oil won't be pumped simply I don't think its relevant to our current society.

Jeff Rubin in his interview published above states:"we can't use natural gas to substitute for oil as a transit fuel". What is he talking about? It is being used more and more all over the world as a transit fuel. It is, and can be used, to fuel trains, trucks, cars and farm equipment.

He is saying it is not an economically viable replacement for liquid fuels for the entire US.

It would cost a pretty penny-how much per truck I have no good idea to be honest, as scale has so much to do with the costs- but it would be easily doable, from a technical standpoint, to start converting a large percentage of our heavy duty truck fleet to natural gas for several reasons.

First off, but in no particular order, tractor trailers have a very satisfactory place for the large fuel tanks-they can be slung underneath the cargo trailer.This would reduce cargo capacity only by the added weight of the tanks and quick connect lines to the tractor.

Second, trailers are often dropped off and at many locations the tanks could be refilled conveniently while the driver with his tractor is busy elsewhere.

Third, heavy trucks are HIGHLY STANDARDIZED AND DESIGNED TO BE EASILY REPAIRED AND SERVICED -or as the case may be, modified as necessary to accommodate dual fuel operation.Almost any comparable repair job is much more easily accomplished, and can be finished far faster, often several times faster, on a big truck , than on a passenger car or pickup truck.Replacing the water pump for instance on some cars is an all day job, and seldom less than a three hour job, because it involves removing several other components just to get to the water pump-on a big truck, it is virtually always exposed so that it can be replaced in an hour or less.

Those in doubt of this statement are invited to ask any mechanic who has spent a substantial amount of time working on both cars and big trucks.

Whereas it would require hundreds of different conversion kits to change over 90 percent of the cars on the road, and the mechanics would have to become proficient on each different make and model , a few dozen kits at most would suffice for most of the heavy trucks on the road-because they are, let me say it again, highly standardized.

Trucks are built this way because the are sold on the basis of their long term operating costs and the extremely high cost of downtime in lost business, as opposed to cars, which are sold mostly on the basis of status and ego gratification.

Hardly anybody, except an old farmer like myself, gives a damn about whether a new car is still going to be running dependably at 250,000 miles and up-whereas a truck with team drivers can rack up that in the first twelve months, and it is expected to last AT LEAST 500,000 to a million miles before it is finally scrapped.

Lots of trucks used on local routes can be refilled at home base every night, even if there is otherwise no ng fueling infrastructure available.Dual fuel trucks running "over the road" can be fueled with ng where ever infrastructure is available, and run on diesel otherwise.

Now this is not to say we can simply wave a wand and convert the truck fleet to ng;but speaking as a person with hands on experience working on heavy machinery of several sorts, I an totally confident that we could easily convert a very significant percentage of the fleet within a couple of years, were we to put our minds to it, and most of the remainder as fast or faster than the necessary additional pipelines needed to fuel up trucks could be laid to places where such lines do not yet exist.

Just how long it would take to ramp up the manufacture of ng fuel tanks and the dual fuel conversion kits is a question for an engineer-but there are no significant technical problems to be solved , as many diesels have already been running dependably for quite a while on ng.

Converting an existing truck should take two mechanics no more than three days and probably less time, once the process is well under way.

This could go a long way toward easing the coming fuel liquid crunch-assuming the ng is really out there of course in the quantities we are hearing about.


I understand your viewpoint of the ability to use CNG for powering large "over the road" trucks. In the long run, after converting a couple million trucks, it may not work out. Capital expense for the infrastructure is high, plus the added liability of fire or explosion due to leaks or crashes may not be insurable for affordable cost.

About 25 years ago the Bulrington Northern Railroad converted a series of diesel locomotives to use CNG. The Engines were modified to burn the CNG efficiently (new fuel delivery system) and special cars built to haul the CNG tanks. Since the refueling points were in the northwest and northern US the locomotives were used mostly on the northrn tier routes (Chicago to Seattle). After about four years the experiment was halted. The delivered price of NG was more than diesel (BTU vs. BTU) and the engines experienced excessive wear. With no diesel fuel (acts as a light oil) being sprayed on the cylinder walls the rings/pistons/cylinders did not last as long with CNG.

Another smaller problem was the CNG fuel car (or cars) being extra weight to carry plus taking extra time to load. A modern diesel locomotive can easily carry 3000 gallons of fuel and have that tank refilled in 10 minutes with the high pressure fueling apparatus used today. But, I would see the railroads try using CNG again before the over the road trucks could ever convert much of the fleet to CNG.

I don't know anything about the older experiments with trains, but to the best of my knowledge, any problems involving premature engine wear have been solved since then, as engines running on propane last as long as diesels nowadays, and nobody seems to be much worried about durability, so far as I can see from reading about ng engines.

It is true that the risks of fire and explosion will be higher , but otoh, ng will simply float away and disperse in a hurry if a tank leaks slowly rather than ruptures abruptly.

We are content to have hundreds of millions of gasoline powered vehicles on the road, and gasoline is far more dangerous.Considering the fact that trucks have very few major accidents per mile traveled, and that they are far sturdier than cars,I believe the risk is manageable.

Furthermore the "big picture" must be considered; there is a truly substantial risk to our economy and society involved in being dependent on imported oil;the less we import, the lower that risk;and it may not even be available for import in a few years.

At that point the risks involved in running ng trucks on the highways will be deemed trivial by all concerned.

Last but not least, ng is probably going to be cheaper than diesel in the future, assuming the plentiful ng is really there of course.

I agree about the infrastructure;but if the gas is there, the infrastructure will be expanded to some extent with or without the use of ng trucks.I do not forsee this solution to the diesel problem as being universally adapted by any means, but if we could cut the use of diesel by a third, it would buy us a lot of time to make other adjustments, such as electrified rail, localized production, etc.

My personal opinion is that even if it costs a little more per ton mile ,in the last analysis, to use ng in trucks, it will be a good thing to do, as it enhances our security while at the same time reducing our balance of payments problem and providing work for locals which can't be outsourced to the third world.

Happy peak winter OFM,

I think what you describe will likely happen in some regions of North America (and is happening in other parts of the world if I'm not mistaken).

I just don't think we can make any grand plans with confidence this early (late?) in our financial collapse.

We'll see what the cat drags in this spring ;)

It can't be done over-night. Transitions are slow and costly. And it is not a perfect substitute. There is not a well-developed distribution infrastructure, range tends to be less, etc.

But many will move over to natural gas. It does work and we seem to have a lot of cheap NG (I'll let others discuss whether we really do or not).

But natural gas is a stop-gap solution . . . for light-duty vehicles, just go straight to EVs since the electricity can be generated with coal, natural gas, solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, etc. . . . even oil!

In a previous thread the poster put a link to Denmark's oil production. I believe it was a CIA website. I followed that to the chart for US oil production and found the following ( http://www.indexmundi.com/united_states/oil_production.html ) which shows the US at 9-10 million barrels per day.I was of the impression US production was about half that. What gives?

Was not a CIA website. Was, however sourced from the CIA website which, in fact, does claim over 9 million barrels per day for 2009.
I am confused.

Crude Oil(5.5mmb/d) plus Natural gas liquids(2.3mmb/d) plus processing gain( 1.0mmb/d). Not really logical, since process gain
is in volume, not btus, and largely on imported crude, but that is how they count.

Processing gains come from taking long chain hydrocarbon (HC) and breaking them into smaller chain HC such as Naptha (basis for gasoline), diesel and kerosene. To do this natural gas (CH4) is supplied in the cracking process to obtain the extra hydrogen atom (H) for making smaller chains, each of which must have an H at the ends of the chain, since carbon has four bonding sites and hydrogen only one. The BTU equivilent of the natural gas should really be subtracted from the refinery gain, but DOE/EIA is only interested in barrels, not BTU produced.

Link up top:

Panic buyers 'causing oil delivery delays'

MANY homeowners are facing delays of one to two weeks for home heating oil deliveries because people with adequate supplies are clogging up the system with unnecessary orders, it has been revealed.

And on a completely unrelated note, found this on the Beeb:

Haiti mobs lynch voodoo priests over cholera fears


Voodoo priests in Haiti are being lynched by mobs who blame them for spreading cholera, the country's government has said.

At least 45 people have been lynched in recent weeks as Haiti continues to be ravaged by a cholera epidemic.

I offer these snapshots as counterpoint to those who think adaptation to a resource constrained world will be painless, especially those who tirelessly rhapsodize about how wonderful it will be to hold hands and sing folk songs at the solar/wind/thorium powered farmers market when all that smelly old oil/coal/gas finally runs out.

Much more likely, as evidenced by the anecdotal snippets above, is a world characterized by fear, panic, and rage at those who have the misfortune to be convenient targets of blame for the extreme hardships to come.

Best hopes for a rapid descent into war, famine, pestilence and death.

Oh, and have a merry commemorate-birth-of-jesus/winter solstice festival.


Thanks for this disturbing little news tidbit.

On the one hand, I'm not sure you can hold up Haiti as typical of just about anything.

On the other hand, yes, I do think that superstition and ignorance will be more the norm than the exception. Heck, it is now even (or especially?) in the US while our educations system and communication networks are still (sort of) functioning.

There will always be all sorts of things that COULD somewhat mitigate the extremes of pain and 'disruptions' of the long decent. I doubt many of them will be implemented, for these reasons, but mostly because many, perhaps most, will continue to deny GW and PO even as their effects become more and more obvious--denial may actually increase.

We are mostly emotional creatures, and those emotions are masterfully manipulated by those who do not have anyone's best interests in mind but their own (and even there, only short term).

I don't know if this link has been posted recently, but I didn't find anything in the past half dozen Drumbeats. It is a link to a free download of a Chernobyl report that I found massively depressing. I've always been very skeptical of those who have played down the effects of Chernobyl, and this report has more than confirmed my skepticism.


Thanks for the link, ET.

Wow, I downloaded it and took a look... not pretty. Very disturbing, the directly attributable deaths between 1986 and 2004 is 985,000.

The half lives of two major radionuclides Cs-137 and Sr-90 are about 30 years each, the radionuclide load in the contaminated territories will decrease about 50% for each human generation. The concentrations of Pu, Cl-36 and Tc-99 will remain practically the same forever (half-lives consequently more than 20,000 and 200,000 years) and the concentration of Am-241, which is a decay product of Pu-241 will increase over several generations. The genetic damage among descendants of irradiated will propagate in the population through many (at least seven) generations.

...A detailed study reveals that some 4% of all deaths from 1990 to 2004 in the contaminated territories of Ukraine and Russia were caused by the Chernobyl catastrophe. The lack of evidence of increased mortality in other affected countries is not proof of absence of adverse effects of radiation.

I have also by coincidence read a paper recently on the adverse effects of the Chernobyl disaster on the fauna and flora of the affected areas. The findings strongly contradict the naive notion that these areas have become a wildlife oasis. If I find the link I'll post it.

BTW I suggest everybody who thinks nuclear is a panacea to PO, download and read this paper. Once you have read it try and get a handle on the ideas of Joseph Tainter re collapse of complex societies and think deeply about 20,000 and 200,000 year half lives of Pu, Cl-36 and Tc-99.

Merry Christmas!

Don't take Fred's word for it. Go see for yourself:

Ukraine to open Chernobyl area to tourists in 2011

KIEV, Ukraine – Want a better understanding of the world's worst nuclear disaster? Come tour the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Beginning next year, Ukraine plans to open up the sealed zone around the Chernobyl reactor to visitors who wish to learn more about the tragedy that occurred nearly a quarter of a century ago, the Emergency Situations Ministry said Monday.

.... a new twist on eco-tourism.

I have also by coincidence read a paper recently on the adverse effects of the Chernobyl disaster on the fauna and flora of the affected areas. The findings strongly contradict the naive notion that these areas have become a wildlife oasis. If I find the link I'll post it.

Here is a link to a BBC story to that effect.There may be one closer to the source somewhere.


Here is an excellent summary of the 1957 Windscale disaster:


Does anybody know what's going on with the Mexican oil exports as reported in the "Mexico's Pemex Crude Oil Exports Surge In November" article above? Is this just a result of increased production, seasonal variation, decreased internal demand or is the jump just not very significant?

Pemex Petroleum Statistics

Pemex all liquids fell 60,000 barrels per day in November and Crude fell by 58,000 barrels per day while exports increased by 240,000 barrels per day. Obviously there was some stored crude that got shipped out in November. In June the opposite was the case, exports dropped 481,000 barrels per day wile crude production dropped only 47,000 barrels per day. It all averages out.

Mexican crude production for November was 2,512,000 barrels per day, the lowest since peaking at 3,455,000 barrels per day in December of 2003. Mexico stayed on a kind of plateau until 2005. In May of 2005 Mexico produced 3,441,000 bp/d then started her long journey down.

Ron P.

Also have in mind that Mexico is reimporting petroleum products from the US. So the real amount of crude that goes to the US for consumtion is only about 1mb/d.

World economy can withstand $100 oil price: Kuwait

Analysts have said oil producing countries are likely to raise output after crude rallied more than 30 percent from a low in May because they fear prices could damage economic growth in fuel importing countries.

Asked by Reuters if the world economy could stand a $100 oil price, Kuwaiti Oil Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Abdullah al-Sabah said: "Yes it can."

Iraq's new oil minister and the head of Libya's National Oil Corporation both told Reuters that $100 was a fair price, while Qatar's Minister Abdullah al-Attiyah said he did not expect OPEC to increase production in 2011

Grants to educate public on Marcellus Shale drilling issues

The Colcom Foundation on Monday said it was setting up a $1 million Marcellus Environmental Fund for grants to study or educate the public about the environmental impact of the expanding natural gas industry here.

...The board of directors came up with the idea for the new fund in part because of its past work on acid mine drainage remediation, Mr. Rohe said.

"The people who dug those old mines then didn't realize they were creating dead rivers" that Colcom and others are helping clean up now, he said. "We hope to avoid those costs in the future."