Drumbeat: January 29, 2011

IEA calls on OPEC to be flexible, watch Egypt

(Reuters) - The West's main energy watchdog, the IEA, called on Saturday on oil group OPEC to be flexible in the face of instability in the Arab world, saying prices could spike even because of a small disruption.

"At this moment the Suez Canal is open and there is no problem with the supply side," the executive director of the International Energy Agency, Nobuo Tanaka, told Reuters referring to riots in Egypt.

"But of course the market has been tightening because of the demand increase due to a recovery. The oil price is rising so a small disruption can create a spike," he said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Obama Forced to Reconsider Mideast Policy as Protests Roil Cities in Egypt

After decades of backing authoritarian regimes in the Mideast and North Africa as bulwarks against Muslim extremism, the U.S. faces an urgent challenge as popular uprisings sweep the region: how to defend U.S. economic and security interests while supporting democratic values.

U.S. Energy Policy Is Responsible for Unrest in Egypt

The world continues to suffer from America's addiction to foreign oil and its inability to craft a strategic long-term comprehensive energy policy to reduce consumption of foreign oil. In the recent past the world has witnessed $148/barrel oil and an oil war in Iraq. The unrest in Egypt is the latest result of American oil dependency. Is this an absurd statement? Before you vent your disagreements in the comment section following the article, please let me explain.

Alarm as Gazprom grabs big business

Kremlin-controlled energy giant Gazprom has built up a dominant 20% share in some sectors of Britain's business gas market in just over a year of frantic trading.

British rivals say they have not been able to compete because the prices being offered by the Russian group are so low.

BP ready to assure US after Russian contract

OIL giant BP is this week expected to stress the importance of its US business despite signing a deal with Russia's state-owned Rosneft which has been criticised by some American policy makers.

Gasification projects light up lobbying efforts

There was one major distinction between three coal gasification projects that came before the Illinois General Assembly this year: The cost burden created by one would fall on big business. For the others, the costs would be borne by residential customers.

Gulf Of Mexico Gas Leak Stopped At Apache Platform -US Regulators

HOUSTON -(Dow Jones)- Federal regulators said Saturday that a natural gas leak first noticed two weeks ago at a Gulf of Mexico production platform owned by Apache Corp. (APA) and Stone Energy Corp. (SGY) has been stopped.

Burning ambitions: What is good news for miners is bad news for the environment

IN RICH countries, where people worry about air quality and debate ways of pricing carbon emissions, coal is deeply unfashionable. Elsewhere demand for the dirty rocks has never been stronger. The International Energy Agency (IEA) reckons world consumption will increase by a fifth over the next 25 years, assuming governments stick to their current climate-change policies. A new age of coal is upon us.

Biofuels drive a major change

Henry Ford, the father of the American car industry, was among the first to predict a transition from oil-based fuels such as petrol and diesel to plant-based alternatives.

"There's simply no two ways about this fuel question," Ford said in 1916. "Gasoline is going and alcohol is coming. It's coming to stay, too, for its unlimited supply."

But after decades of research and development the cars and trucks of only one country - Brazil - are predominantly propelled by fuels, mainly ethanol, produced from purpose-grown crops.

Daimler Sends Fuel-Cell Compacts on 18,600-Mile Trip to Steal March on BMW

Daimler AG is sending fuel cell- powered Mercedes-Benz compacts on a 30,000-kilometer (18,600- mile) trip around the world to steal a march on Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Volkswagen AG.

Tensions rise on surging food prices

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Food prices have been rising worldwide, as the cost of raw materials and agricultural products surge, contributing to political unrest around the globe.

In December, international food prices broke an all-time high when they rose 25% for the year, led by rising costs for staples like rice, wheat, and maize, the United Nations reported.

The sharp rise in food prices, in particular, has become "a source of political instability," New York University economist Nouriel Roubini, told CNNMoney's Poppy Harlow, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week.

Oil and food prices

Several years ago National Geographic magazine published an article on oil that included a stunning photo of mature steer and the barrels of oil needed to grow an animal to that size. I recently went looking for that picture, found it, and post it here because it hasn’t lost its impact or relevance one bit.

Petrobras CEO sees high oil price volatility

(Reuters) - Oil prices are likely to be highly volatile in the first half of 2011 but markets may soften in the second quarter, the head of Brazil's oil major Petrobras, Jose Sergio Gabrielli, said on Saturday.

"I think we (are) gonna face a very big volatility in the first half of this year and in the second half we will see a little softening of the markets. In the long run we work with big range of $65 to $85 (per barrel)," he told Reuters Insider television.

Analysis: US Seeks Beaufort Sea Compromise While Canada Favors Full Rights

While Americans appear more open to working with Canadians to settle the Beaufort Sea border dispute, Canadians appear entrenched in their view that this area is within their jurisdiction, a study by Ekos Research Associates for the University of Toronto revealed.

Kayan inks deal with Saudi firm and Dow-Aramco

KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - Saudi Kayan Petrochemicals on Saturday signed a preliminary agreement with Saudi Acrylic Acid Co (SAAC) and a joint venture between U.S. Dow Chemical and Saudi Aramco to build a 1.8 billion-riyal ($480 million) n-Butanol plant in the kingdom.

US Energy Cos Flee Natural Gas for Unconventional Oil Fields -Analyst

U.S. energy producers are making a massive investment shift from natural-gas production to unconventional oil drilling as natural-gas prices stagnate, said Sylvia Barnes, managing director and head of banking at investment firm Madison Williams and Co.

With natural-gas prices remaining stuck at about $4 per million British thermal unit, more energy companies are taking the advanced drilling technologies that allowed them to unlock previously unattainable natural gas and moving to less developed, but potentially more profitable, unconventional oil fields.

Hubco may stop work over fuel shortage

ISLAMABAD - With the fuel left for only 72 hours, the Hub Power Company Limited (Hubco) has asked the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) to pay to Pakistan State Oil (PSO) for smooth supply of fuel for power generation.

Texas man gets probation in Mexican oil scheme

HOUSTON — A former Texas oil company official was sentenced to probation Friday for his role in the sale of petroleum products stolen from Mexico.

World energy markets will eventually convince all of the wisdom of renewable energy, author and advocate says

L. Hunter Lovins is no conspiracy theorist, but when it comes to the roller coaster ride-like momentum of the renewable energy sector, she concedes it not always easy not to succumb to bouts of dark speculation.

“Certainly, the way I see the renewable energy field is that it’s a sector that’s sped up and, more recently, slowed down, particularly here in the US, and I think that’s shaken the confidence of people interested in fostering its development,” said Lovins, an author and promoter of sustainable development for over 30 years, during a recent interview with Renewable Energy Magazine.

Incomprehensible — New mining rules could cost 7,000 jobs

During Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama vowed to rally behind a vision of job creation and economic revitalization for a country still struggling to recover from the worst economic downturn since World War II.

What the president failed to tell the nationally televised audience was that his administration is apparently taking steps to eliminate more than 7,000 coal mining jobs. This action, as U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., correctly calls it, is “foolish beyond words.”

U.S. Company, in Reversal, Wants to Export Natural Gas

CAMERON PARISH, La. — The oil patch is a world of risk takers, but few are as daring as Charif Souki, the chairman and chief executive of Cheniere Energy.

A decade ago, Mr. Souki warned of an impending natural gas shortage, and set out to build a network of gas import terminals after none had been built in a generation. He lured Chevron and the French oil giant Total into signing long-term use agreements, and Cheniere’s stock price rocketed from less than $1 a share in 2002 to more than $40 in three years.

But the sudden boom in gas drilling that took off around 2005 created a glut, ruining Mr. Souki’s dream. Cheniere’s stock price collapsed to $2. And he managed to complete only one terminal, at a cost of $1.4 billion, that stands idle much of the time.

Now he is trying to recoup his investment by making the opposite bet: that he can profitably export cheap American natural gas to Europe and Asia, where prices are roughly twice as high.

Turmoil in Egypt roils oil markets

"This looks like the Arab world's version of the flash crash," said Daniel Senor, a fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. "If you look among the inputs that are fueling this revolt, including food prices and food shortages, I don't know how you fix that quickly."

Despite market concerns about the potential impact of the widening unrest, there appeared to be no immediate threat to oil supplies.

"Egypt doesn’t mean much on its own in terms of crude oil production or exports," said Tom Kloza, editor & publisher of OPIS, which tracks oil prices.

"It is of course the key country for the operation of the Suez Canal which cuts 5,000-6,000 miles off the voyages of many European-bound tankers," he said. "But the real worries today are about violence and unrest spreading eastward into the Arabian Gulf. Whether one is a fan of (Egyptian President Hosni) Mubarak or not, one can at least suggest that it was a stable country on the edge of a region which has long been unstable."

Oil ETF Call Trades Soar to Record Amid Egypt Unrest

Trading of bullish options on an exchange-traded fund tracking crude futures soared to a record as oil surged the most since September 2009 after unrest in Egypt raised concern that protests would spread to major oil- producing parts of the Middle East.

'Revolution of the people': Egyptians return to streets

CAIRO — A massive crowd calling for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak defied a government curfew to gather in the streets and squares of downtown Cairo Saturday afternoon, with protesters making clear they reject promises of reform and a new government offered by the embattled leader trying to hang on to power.

Dozens of tanks and armored personnel carriers fanned out across the city of 18 million, guarding key government building a day after large, violent confrontations emboldened the movement demanding a change of leadership. There was rampant looting across the sprawling city of 18 million and a growing feeling of fear and insecurity.

Kyrgyzstan requests Ireland to extradite former economy minister

BISHKEK (Itar-Tass) -- The Prosecutor General’s Office of Kyrgyzstan has sent a request to Ireland for extraditing ex-minister of energy and former general director of the joint-stock company Electric Stations Sanarbek Balkibekov, the press service of the Prosecutor General’ s Office reported on Saturday.

“Balkibekov is charged with especially large embezzlement of state property and other abuses of power in the period of his work as minister,” the report notes. According to preliminary data, damage cause by him to the state is estimated at more than 300,000 dollars. “The request for Balkibekov’s extradition is sent to the Ministry of Justice of Ireland in accordance with the UN Convention on Combating Corruption,” the press service stressed.

Russia identifies airport bomber as Caucasus man

The suicide bomber who killed 35 people and wounded 180 at Moscow's largest airport was a 20-year-old man from the volatile southern Caucasus region, Russian investigators said Saturday.

Breaking a five-day silence over the probe, federal investigators also said foreigners were deliberately targeted, marking an ominous new tactic in Russia's losing battle with extremism.

Changing ties between oil and agri-commodities

IN an energy-dependent world, the movement of crude oil prices have consequences beyond just prices at the pump for petrol, diesel or gas.

From mid-2000 to July 2008, the correlation between crude oil and agricultural commodities was at its closest as the latter became an increasingly attractive alternative as a source of energy.

Energy and the Planet

The oil age started in Pennsylvania and 40 years later came to Texas. From then on, massive oil deposits were found virtually everywhere around the planet, except in most of Europe. This is why Europe has always had some form of energy plan and we haven't. It's probably fair to say that from the earliest days, most Europeans have not been able to take oil for granted, unlike Americans.

And unlike America's, Europe's governments are already considering what the economic impact will be when oil production hits a brick wall in the future - and making plans premised on global warming.

New age for old oil

Policy and market blows in the past five years, including Ottawa’s elimination of royalty trusts, Alberta’s royalty changes, weak energy prices and the market meltdown, combined to beat many companies out of business.

But some junior oil and gas entrepreneurs got back to work — and reconfirmed that necessity is the mother of all invention.

Inspired by such advances as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing that caused the shale gas revolution, or by other enhanced oil-recovery methods, they are squeezing new, profitable barrels from Western Canada’s mature reservoirs.

China and Vietnam to Talk on Sea Dispute

Nguyen Van Tho, the Vietnamese ambassador to China, told Chinese reporters on Thursday that China and Vietnam would hold a new round of talks on their territorial dispute in the South China Sea this year, Chinese news organizations reported Friday. He declined to name a specific date, but said, “I am optimistic about this issue,” the reports said. Both countries and other Asian nations claim parts of the South China Sea, which has potentially large oil and natural gas deposits.

Big breaks for Big Oil

Obama wants to cut unneeded and expensive oil subsidies, but Congress won't go along.

CNOOC lifts production target by 11 percent

HONG KONG - China's top offshore oil and gas producer, CNOOC Ltd, has lifted its 2011 production target by up to 11 percent as new projects at home and overseas come on stream.

Natural gas demand to soar

BEIJING - China's natural gas demand will rise 20 percent in 2011 to 130 billion cubic meters (cu m) and production will increase 16 percent to 110 billion cu m, according to a statement from the National Energy Administration (NEA) on Jan 28.

What Oil Spill?

William Reilly and Bob Graham, co-chairmen of the presidential panel on the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, went to Capitol Hill last week to sell their final report. The detailed document endorses deep-water drilling while urging a series of reforms to make it safer. But Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee reacted as if they had called for an end to the oil industry.

Return of California energy credits a boon for Calgary wind farms

California's revived market for tradable renewable energy credits has helped two wind farms in Alberta qualify for financing. Under a deal approved Friday by the California Public Utilities Commission, San Francisco-based utility Pacific Gas & Electric Co. is buying renewable energy credits associated with two projects that Greengate Power Corp. will build in Alberta. The sale lets PG&E receive credit for using renewable energy that it will not sell in the state, or even in the country.

Pa. nuclear reactor reopens after steam leak


A reactor at PPL Corp.'s Susquehanna nuclear plant in northeastern Pennsylvania is back in service after a steam leak was repaired.

Hawaiian Electric uses 100 percent biofuel in test

Hawaiian Electric Co. is reporting that it successfully used 100 percent biofuel in a full-scale test involving a steam turbine generator that normally uses petroleum.

How Permaculture, Worms in Your Kitchen and a Crown Heights Chicken Coop Can Save the World

Crown Heights resident Greg Todd believes that the practice of permaculture is the key to building a sustainable future.

“A lot of people talk about sustainability. It’s very much a catch phrase: ‘Oh it’s sustainable, it’s sustainable.’ Well permaculture took that and figured out: well, that’s cool, but how do we actually do that?” he said in an interview that ranged from how a sustainable agriculture community garden in Crown Heights will save us from descending into chaos when the oil is gone, to why everyone should have a worm composting bin tucked into their apartment.

Tougher rules needed to meet greenhouse gas emissions target, Kent warns

In his first major speech as Environment Minister, Peter Kent says Ottawa and the provinces will have to adopt far tougher regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors of the economy if Canada is going to meet its 2020 target.

Mr. Kent rejected calls for a national cap-and-trade system but said Ottawa is getting ready to introduce regulations on industrial emitters – a group that would include oil sands producers.

EPA chief says Texas action 'not about politics'

SAN ANTONIO — The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the long-running dispute between the agency and Texas is about public health and not politics.

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said Friday in San Antonio that her agency isn't out to cripple Texas businesses with its actions. The EPA earlier this month took over the issuing of greenhouse gas permits in Texas, the only state that has refused to comply with tighter federal rules.

Sen. Inhofe Shapes Major GOP Bills to Fight EPA's Greenhouse Gas Regs

The Senate's most vocal climate change skeptic has taken a key role in crafting two bills to be introduced next week that would both permanently stop U.S. EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who famously called climate change the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people," will unveil a bill with House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) that would strip EPA of its authority to limit carbon emissions from power plants, refineries and other stationary sources.

At the same time, he will be a "first co-sponsor" of a much broader bill that would bar the federal government from regulating greenhouse gas emissions under any existing environmental law. That measure will be introduced Monday by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who serves on the Environment and Public Works Committee, on which Inhofe is the ranking Republican.

Re: U.S. Company, in Reversal, Wants to Export Natural Gas (uptop)

I assume that the NYT is rerunning this story. In any case, here are the most current Consumption to Production ratios for oil, natural gas and coal for the US (100% is the dividing line between net exporter and net importer):


The US of course the world's largest net oil importer, and I believe that Undertow indicated that the US is still the world's third largest net natural gas importer. We are just barely self-sufficient in coal; on a tonnage basis, we actually slipped into net importer status not long ago.

...Aubrey K. McClendon, chief executive of the Chesapeake Energy Corporation, the second-biggest domestic gas producer, who has pledged large shipments for Cheniere to export. “He’s going to be successful and it’s going to be great news for the U.S.
[emphasis added]

Great news........

Ghung et al - A little more background: “Cheniere Energy (LNG.A) late Thursday unveiled plans to build the first liquefied natural gas export plant in the United States for 40 years, another clear sign of the market revolution caused by unconventional gas development. In an about-face for a company that in 2008 built the biggest LNG import terminal in the United States, Cheniere now plans to produce and export LNG by 2015, as U.S. natural gas demand lags and production grows.”

I won’t the debate as to how wise an investment this is but Cheniere seems to be a tad schizophrenic. In 3 years time they switch from investing 100’s of millions in importing NG to investing perhaps billions (liquefaction trains costs much more than re-gasification plants) in just a few years. And this decision is based upon the big gains from unconventional NG drilling which has seen about a 50% decline in activity over the same time period. And remember that almost all SG wells decline to rather insignificant rates within several years of their initial production which, coincidentally began in earnest just several years ago. Also remeber that the Independence DW NG Hub brought about 1 bcf/day on NG to the market literally overnight a couple of years ago. Also good to remember a few more points: DW fields deplete very quickly, DW drilling has been stopped for over 6 months and no one has a clue when it will be allowed to resume and finally, it is illegal to export oil/NG produced from federal leases. It can be allowed but that means the president and congress has to stand up in front of the country and say: "Yep....go ahead and export any of that oil and NG that belongs to the public". Yep...I can see that happening especially if NG prices escalate in the next 4 years.

Obviously the folks at Chenier are much smarter than me…I just don’t see it. But, hey, I’m for any effort (profitable or not) that helps reduce the NG glut we currently have. Also remember: the exports begin 4 years from now...not today. I suppose they are very confident in their projection of both NG prices as well as domestic demand. One more aspect: Cheniere doesn't offer any indication of the volumes they expect to expor. But I would have to guess it would amount to a very tiny amount of total U.S. consumption.

Rock, the reason they seem schizo is that the LNG market has chnged *that much* since shale gas came online. We had the same thing, more than doubling our capacity a year ago with plans of huge sendout but shale gas has crushed that for the foreseeable future (5-10 years). It often gets poo-pooed on this forum, but shale gas has been a complete game changer for the LNG market in the US. We're positioning ourselves to add export capacity to our terminal as well, though I don't believe we're as committed as Chenier at this point. The difference between 2007 and 2010 in terms of LNG ships was binary. It went from dozens to absolutely nothing and with the amount of shale capacity we're bringing online in the next 3 years it's not going to change absent some black swan.

ty - I hope it works for you. But here's the hitch I see: there may be money to be made exporting LNG today because NG is selling around $4/mcf. But you know better than I how much it costs to liq. and transport LNG. What happens when domestic NG prices go to $7/mcf? You'll be competing with all that Persian Gulf, Indonisian and Carribean NG that has no market other than LNG. How are the U.S. LNG exporters going to compete with foreign sources (especially ones closer to he delivery points) when their feedstock costs doubles and their competitors doesn't?

And yes...the SG plays have changed the game. But only significantly so at prices almost double what they are today. But again, the best of luck to you and the other exporters: anything that uses up the NG glut and gets prices moving north is great by me.

Yeah it's basically a 150 MW cost for the liquefaction we're looking at. But that's covered by gas-fired turbine generators and if the contracts are written write, you can get the shippers to actually pay for fuel usage. The capital costs have a "b" in front of them so it's no small investment there either. But with the price differential between shale and asian gas, that would be made up in no time if the economics remained as they are now.

I keep waiting for the prices of gas to rise as shale supposedly becomes uneconomical at low prices (like I've read over and over on this forum), but we continue to add additional compression/transmission capacity every year from the Marcellus region. And to hear the directors talk, there are no plans to scale back even at today's prices.

And with the complete lack of a coherent energy policy out of the obama administration, it's only a matter of time before somebody finally says - screw it, we might as well make money by exporting it. We'd love to have a mandate that all new generation be gas-fired so we can use our own gas (or nuclear), but don't get me started on our useless government, I can feel my blood pressure rising already...

Some valid points ty. But let me respond to: “shale supposedly becomes uneconomical at low prices”. Few matters I can be as emphatic about but SG economics is one of them. There is absolutely no “supposedly” about. During the height of the SG boom I was on contract to the Devon drilling department which handled all their SG activities in east Texas. They had 18 rigs running nonstop in the play during the summer of ’08. No one can say that Devon wasn’t one of the most knowledgeable companies in the SG play. About 6 months later when NG prices dropped below $6/mcf (about 50% higher than today) they released 14 of those 18 rigs and paid a $40 million penalty to do so. Everyone has a right to their opinion. In this case you and Devon seem to disagree. I suppose we’ll let everyone pick which side of that fence they’ll stand on.

I am pretty late to the thread, but it should be noted that many of the big unconventional oil plays that are being drilled up right now still add significant gas production. The Eagleford Shale and Granite Wash are two plays that make significant oil or NGL production and also produce really large gas volumes. Even the Wolfberry play in West Texas, which is definitely considered an oil play, adds quite a bit of associated gas production.

True Jim. I'm doing my part also: drilling deep NG plays with high NGL yields. Didn't say the unconventional plays weren't being drilled. Even Devon is still drilling a few sweet spots in east Texas. OTOH there are about 400 rigs NOT drilling the SG plays as they were 3 years ago. And about 3 years ago the Independence DW NG Hub came online with 1 bcf/day. Not only is there no other such facility even in a planning stage but the fields supplying the hub are depleting quickly. And thanks to BP their replacements have been delayed for years.

That's the point I was making: the difficulty of projecting NG prices/demand more than a couple of years out. The SG boomed when operators saw $12 NG...not $4. The NG glut today is due to the combination of the production carryover from the drilling boom and demand destruction due to the recession. What will be the economic incentive to export LNG from the U.S. in 5 years? That's easy: just tell me what U.S. NG consumption is at that time along with the global LNG market price, drilling activity/success in domestic NG plays and domestic NG prices.

No doubt ty's management has a model that predicts such an answer. And they may well be right. But Devon and Chesapeake were also very confident that NG prices would be bouncing around $16/mcf right now...or about 400% higher than it had been recently. And their erroneous projections crippled two of the largest and more successful energy U.S. companies. As we say in Texas: that's why we have horse races. You can talk all you want about your riding the best horse but it don't mean cr*p...we'll just wait to see how makes it across the finish line.

Let's be clear - I'm just a Power Systems Engineer so I have no say in higher-up business decisions. I'm just going by what I see and what decisions the stakeholders are making. And I certainly wish you were correct as my current job may very well depend on LNG imports picking up. Unfortunately that's not been the case in the past two years and shows no signs of being the case in the next 2 years, at least. Recently a large partner/shipper in our expansion reduced their 18 year contract to a 10 year contract. The board is playing it as an opportunity to allow us to export - I don't know who initiated the renegotiation in the contracts but I have a hunch. I certainly hope you're right, and was once in your camp. Unfortunately viewing the number of marcellus shale projects expected to come online in the next two years I don't see how there is going to be any reduction in shale activity any time soon, even at today's prices.

I think you deserve a noble prize for your enduring effort to determine what is real by examining evidence. Paul Krugman already has an award given in memory of the explosives guy, but he shares your concern that our collective reality have some relation to evidence and fact and in my view also deserves a noble prize:

Commodities: This Time is Different
I’ve been getting a fair bit of correspondence insisting that political unrest, in the Arab world and elsewhere, is being caused by … Ben Bernanke. You see, quantitative easing is responsible for rising food prices, which leads to riots, which — OK, there are a lot of broken links in that chain. But it surely is time to take a look at food prices and commodity prices more broadly.

During the last commodity price spike, less than three years ago, many people laid the blame at the feet of speculators. I never accepted that as the prime cause, mainly because so many of the speculation-did-it people seemed confused about the difference between buying a futures contract and actually hoarding physical stocks; as a very useful analysis by Sanders and Irwin (pdf) puts it,

Index fund buying is no more “new demand” than the corresponding selling is “new supply.”

True, high futures prices can provide an incentive to accumulate physical stocks. But during the 2007-2008 price surge there was little evidence of such accumulation.

What about this time?

I find it illuminating to take the IMF commodity data and rank commodities by the percentage price increase during 2010:

Read more… http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/

Index fund buying is no more “new demand” than the corresponding selling is “new supply.”

Thanks Toil, I just love that line. I am going to save it and use it the next time people start to tell me that the speculators are driving up the price of oil.

But it is the food supply that is driving the riots around the world.

Grain Supplies Keep Getting Tighter

As this article points out corn, soybean and wheat production is down around the world. I just brought up monthly price charts for Corn, Soybeans, and Wheat. I noticed, in the case of all three, the last time prices were this high was during the run up in oil prices in 2008. So there is a strong connection between the price of oil and the price of grain. I am sure that is the case for most other commodities as well.

So that is very strong evidence that high oil prices brought on the recession and it looks like it is happening again. Except this time it will be accompanied by riots and unrest.

Ron P.

So there is a strong connection between the price of oil and the price of grain.

So that is very strong evidence that high oil prices brought on the recession and it looks like it is happening again. Except this time it will be accompanied by riots and unrest.

Agreed, and my thought is there may not be any near term relief like there was in 08 when the reset button was hit (so to speak) when oil dropped down to 35 a barrel. It seems like the price of oil is now more entrenched.

‘Tortilla riots’ give foretaste of food challenge
By Adam Thomson in Mexico City

Published: October 12 2010 21:12

When the price of corn tortillas, a pillar of the Mexican diet, rose from 8 pesos per kilo to more than 10 pesos in late 2006, people took to the streets.

The “tortilla riots” were the first in a series of disturbances that year to hit emerging countries from Haiti to Bangladesh as the cost of agricultural commodities, including wheat and rice, reached all-time highs.

The Mexican tortilla crisis came after a rise in the cost of corn, itself induced by growing ethanol consumption and booming demand in emerging countries.

In the reference provided above it was interesting to see that in 2008 the rise in food prices was 6 months ahead of the rise in oil prices. Both food and oil prices fell at the same time following the 2008 peak with food prices starting up months before the 2010 rise in oil. I would suppose that over a long term the averages may closely follow each other but there is more than a causal relationship working here. There are more powerful factors at work which influence food prices with weather being the most powerful. The drought in Australia and the floods in Pakistan are behind the current rise in food prices. The rise of the middle class in India and China have increased demand for meat which increases demand for corn, wheat and beans. Smaller supply plus greater demand equals more distress for the world's poor.

In the reference provided above it was interesting to see that in 2008 the rise in food prices was 6 months ahead of the rise in oil prices.

I do not see that in the charts at all. WTI Crude Oil Monthly Chart Notice that WTI crude reached a high of $94.70 in October of 2007. That is above where it is today. It looks to me like that all three were tracking crude oil prices pretty close.

Ron P.

So there is a strong connection between the price of oil and the price of grain.

And this time a double whammy, because of the tighter grain supplies (the article you quoted).
By the way, yesterday you mentioned that you didn't find production plans for the Orinoco on the internet. For example Wikipedia gives it (see yesterday's DB)

I'm not going to say much beyond this as it was made public on our earnings call on Friday - but we're seriously looking at adding export capacity to our LNG import terminal (East Coast). Long term contracts have been re-negotiated with an eye to add this capacity within the next several years. It's still early stages but it's not out of the realm of possibilities. As a power systems engineer, I'm praying it comes along as it would be an awesome project to be on.

Prices Heat Up
As Massachusetts copes with a punishing winter, oil prices are on the rise

The cost of heating oil in Massachusetts is on the rise, moving past levels of three years ago, when prices were climbing to record highs well above $4 a gallon and panicking consumers.

A gallon of heating oil is selling for an average $3.46 a gallon, up from $3.44 a week earlier, according to a survey by the state. The price is 19 cents more than in the same period in 2008, but still $1.25 below the all time high of $4.71 hit in July 2008.


The increased price reduces the number of people he can extend credit to if they are behind on payments because of limits on his own credit line.

“I have people calling me and they start crying on the phone,’’ he said. “I can’t stand having an older person tell me they’re going to have to choose between oil and their meals, [but] this is what every oil dealer is up against.’’

See: http://www.boston.com/business/personalfinance/articles/2011/01/29/heati...

At $3.46 a gallon ($0.914/litre), the cost to fill a standard size oil tank can now exceed $900.00. I believe the average New England home owner consumes 900 to 1,000 gallons of fuel oil each year, so the annual cost of oil heat is now running between $3,000.00 and $3,500.00.


I'm astounded that people in Massachusetts are still using oil heating, but I guess they didn't get the memo about US oil production started to decline 40 years ago, or maybe they just thought OPEC oil producers would be generous enough to always keep the price of oil low for them.

At this point in time, they're screwed, but it's not too late to switch to something else - natural gas, electricity, wood, coal, or anything but oil. At this point I would recommend natural gas since the US has a large and growing surplus of it.

The poorest families in Massachusetts can qualify for a maximum of $1,050 in federal aid for the winter, but advocates say more is needed.

Government subsidies will only last until the government runs out of money. OTOH, if they had subsidized the conversion of homes to other fuels rather, than subsidizing the consumption of oil, these people would not be in as much trouble today, and the balance of trade deficit would be less bad.

Heating oil is still pretty common throughout the northeastern US. Mostly they are older buildings - built before the '70s energy crisis.

Changing over to a new heating system is expensive. For most people, it's not worth the expense, since they expect to be moving in a few years anyway - either to a different area, or simply to a bigger, newer house in the same area.

And, natural gas is not generally available in the rural northeast - much of Vermont, northeast NY, and interior MA, NH & ME. There, the option is propane, which doesn't really seem much better than oil... So wood becomes the real fuel of fallback.

Exactly, clifman. I live in rural NH, and before that, rural VT. The only gas is propane delivered by truck. The cost advantage for heating between oil and propane has changed many times over my lifetime. You get people switching to propane, only to curse when the prices changed. But most people use oil, and many have wood heat backup...

The oil heat is to keep the pipes from freezing during the coldest nights and to allow one to go away for more than a stoveload of wood lasts. The wood is for being toasty warm, at least in one room.

That's how I've been doing for years. Plus, when the power goes out (which it does often up here), and furnaces don't work, at least you have something to keep things reasonable.

I use propane for my stove, so I can at least use the stovetop during power outages. I also use propane for hot water.

That's life in rural New England.

Exactly, clifman. I live in rural NH, and before that, rural VT. The only gas is propane delivered by truck.

The real move thats needed, is a combination of better insulation and air source heat pumps. Although, at least in the rural areas wood can be viable.

"The real move thats needed, is a combination of better insulation and air source heat pumps. "

Retrofitting more insulation into an existing home is not as easy as you think. I've been looking at my options for my 1957 house, and there are no good ones. It's certainly not worth doing until the siding needs to be replaced. And that could be decades yet.

And air source heat pumps are useless once the temperature drops below about 25 F. That's above zero. At 10 below zero, forget it. They are of marginal use in late spring and early fall. And the argument that you get the air conditioning as a fringe benefit is useless when you don't need air conditioning in the first place.

Your understanding of their cold weather performance is a little behind the times.

See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_7KKyuwlOM


Retrofitting insulation to an existing home is easy!
You put a new 2x8 stud wall around the outside of the house and spray it full of R7 per inch urethane foam. Apply plywood over outside and put on new siding material of choice (I chose seamless steel siding).
Walls are now R50+ for an insulation factor.

Put in a geothermal heatpump for a heating supply. You go from $6,000 worth of propane per year to less than $600 per year of electricity for heating. And this is in Central Minnesota.

And that is a damn site better return than you can get on your retirement CDs these days.

Retrofitting insulation to an existing home is easy!

Such is true, Jon.

Those persons who are on oil heat, or even propane, may want to take note of his tips. He is quite right that it is easy to add insulation to an existing house and upgrade the heating - if you are willing to get your mind around the concept that it is going to be done in a somewhat non-conventional way.

Rather than crying, "We're all going to die because the price of oil is going up!" and buying a supply of .30 caliber rifle ammunition to stop people from stealing your fuel supply, it is much better to do something to mitigate the problem. R50 insulation is a good starting point.

Your description makes it sound so easy. But, have you done it and how well did it turn out in a cold climate? The biggest problem is that you would first need to change the windows, as they are where most of the heat goes, after your super insulated walls are in place. One would want to replace the windows first, else, put new ones on the outside of the extra thick walls you are adding.

The next problem might be how to attach the new wall to the old house. Do you build another foundation to extend the base upon which you can build? Are you planning to extend the new walls below the foundation to insulate that area as well? What do you do about the lost overhang area at the top of the new walls? Are you going to have enough space for venting the attic? Then too, what are you going to do to the attic and roof for extra insulation there, which usually represents a rather large surface area with high heat loss potential? If you don't deal with the roof insulation, you aren't going to experience the 1/10 reduction just from insulating the walls.

Now, add up the costs of doing all this and get back to us...

E. Swanson

I was having the same thoughts about this 'easy upgrade' as you from my first read-through of the post.

This is a major construction project, one that would need to be accomplished by a competent contractor, and a project that would be rather expensive to have done correctly.

This is certainly not a DIY project for the vast majority of people.

Other unstated assumptions: The house owner has the mortgage note paid off; the owner has an ample war chest to cover property taxes, utilities, and inevitable repair bills, in addition to food etc, for say the next 20 years, etc.

One might want to have a financial war chest and/or an assured income before embarking on such an expensive renovation project (including attic insulation, roof eave extension, new windows, more).

It may very well be less financially problematic to sell the house and move into a smaller, better insulated abode.

You have to realize I build the house I live in by myself, from the foundation up, so my definition of "easy" might be different from the average person's.

I also have re insulated an old house, but I did it the hard way - tearing out the existing lath-and-plaster, building a second 2x4 wall on the inside, putting in the insulation, and then drywalling it. The way Jon described would be much easier (my definition of "easy"), but I had very nice cedar siding on the exterior, and the interior plaster was cracking anyway.

So, from my perspective all the objections that you raised are "easily" overcome. You have to be prepared for a bit of a challenge, but I've always been up for a challenge. I could just visualize how it would go together, and I think it would take most of a summer of part-time work if I did it myself.

Replacing windows - I helped a friend change all the windows in his house, and it took part of a day. We moved an exterior door over about 6 feet in the process. Meanwhile my wife and his girlfriend laid a new floor in the living room. I think if my buddy and I got together, and brought in my wife and his girlfriend, we could finish Jon's superinsulation project in about a week. The cost would be materials and a few cases of beer.

However, the bottom line is that adding superinsulation would be a lot cheaper than paying for 30 years of heating oil in a badly insulated house.

I could explain how to surmount all of the annoying objections you and Black Dog raised, but then this thread would get rather long, and some people would have a conniption fit about some of my solutions.

I think your solution to the old house is likely to be the better approach, depending on the situation. Adding some depth to the walls and using the spray in foam insulation would result in a considerable gain in R-value with minimal disruption to the appearance, I would think. If the added depth is accomplished by adding studs in the horizontal direction, the bridging effect of the low R-value wood thru the insulation would be minimized.

One advantage you didn't mention is the option to re-wire the house with newer wiring. The house I grew up in was built in 1940 and the wires were insulated with rubber, which was failing. Replacing a light switch was always a chore because the insulation tended to break off the wires. Ditto for old plumbing, such as the iron pipes that had corroded and filled with lime scale. The house was built with no insulation in the walls. The basic problem is, the older the house, the bigger the project. At some point in time, the land is worth more than the house...

E. Swanson

How are rural residences outside the northeast heated? Over 80% of heating oil is consumed in the northeast. How do people in rural Ohio or Minnesota heat their homes? Electricity?

Speaking as a rural northern Minnesotan, I can say that most people outside of the natural gas lines heat with a combination of electricity and propane, however many older houses are still heated with oil. All three are expensive options which is why I installed an outdoor wood stove. In most years I burn between 3 - 5 cords of Bur Oak, Paper Birch and Black Ash. In colder years maybe 5 cords and in warmer years maybe around 3 or so. I will burn whatever I can fit in the stove, so if a tree is blown down or falls over, I cut it up and burn it. Unfortunately I have developed a severe skin allergy to aspen (poplar), so I generally don't burn that unless I can get someone else to cut it up. Even if I had to buy wood, I could get 10 cords of oak for about 750 bucks which comes to about 350 - 400 dollars a year. I have 10 fully wooded acres with a mixture of mature trees and haven't had to buy wood in the past 10 years.
There are many places in the U.S. where heating with wood makes great sense.

Here in Decatur County, Iowa the fuel of choice is mostly propane with wood and electric as supplements. The nice thing about propane is it can sit in the tank for years without gumming up or being eaten by termites. The larger towns like Lamoni and Leon have natural gas service. Our Amish neighbors have big wood piles and no tanks or wires.

The notion that everyone has access to natural gas is simply not true. Even in Texas. I live in an Austin suburb and no one in my neighborhood (several hundred) has any access to natural gas. Yet neighbors about two miles away do. We have propane delivered by truck. Current price - $ 3.26/gal. From memory that is over 3 times higher than it was in 2002.

Mid atlantic - heat pump with electric resistance bankup here. It's great as long as the heat pump runs...but as soon as the E-backup kicks on you can watch the meter wheel start spinning. We don't have nat-gas locally as it's rather remote, so absent the electric backup, people will use propane which is also getting rather expensive.

This fall I plan on installing a 14kW solar PV array on the roof that should solve that. It's a $60k investment up front, but once it's in I'm going to start thinking about geothermal heat pump.

I would recommend that you do the geothermal heatpump before you do the solar PV. You will find that you can get along for a while without the solar PV and in time it will probably become cheaper and you can save a lot of the current installation costs. Maybe even enough to recapture the total cost of the geothermal heatpump?

I almost agree, the diff is that in MD that the incentives are so great that they literally pay you to have the solar. The SREC program is the key. I get a 15k return on federal, a 6k return fr om MD, and 4k per year for at least 5 years in SRECs. Not to mention getting paid by the electric company for producing electricity for all but the winter months. Once you can afford the up front costs it is a no brained investment. Geothermal would require vertical loops in my yard and the costs would be high. It would pay off in the long run but you can't beat a 4k after tax investment return li ke the solar pays out. I will go solar and then get a heat pump water heater before geothermal. Geo depends on how long i plan on living in my house. I'm only 30yo right now so we will see...


Much of New England is in the same boat as virtually all of Atlantic Canada -- we can't switch to natural gas even if we wanted to because natural gas service is not available. When we bought our current home, I installed a new boiler that is certified to operate on either fuel oil or natural gas, and to convert from one fuel to the other it's a simple matter of swapping out the burner head (at the time we were told that natural gas was "just around the corner" and nearly ten years later it's still nowhere in sight). In addition, our local supplier, Heritage Gas, charges a flat monthly fee of $19.22 and natural gas currently sells for $15.52 per GJ so it's not exactly a huge bargain (source: http://www.heritagegas.com/residential/residential-rates.html).

I've given up on natural gas and have been advising friends and clients to switch to high efficiency heat pumps. Even with electricity priced at $0.125 per kWh, the operating cost is one-half to one-third that of fuel oil.


Well, here in Sunny Alberta, the government has a policy of connecting as many people to the natural gas distribution system as possible.

Government of Alberta Rural Gas Program

Under the program, natural gas service has been provided to over 212,000 consumers through 74 participating utilities. Over 131,000 km of natural gas pipelines have been constructed making it the largest rural gas pipeline system in the world.

Much of this is done through Rural Gas Co-operatives which are organized into the Federation of Alberta Gas Co-ops

Rural Albertans were encouraged to form co-ops, apply for franchise areas and construct natural gas distribution systems. Many community minded individuals became the directors of the co-ops to create policy, plan and construct the pipeline systems and set up local offices and management for the ongoing operations. Credit for the success of the gasification belongs, in large part, to these individuals who devoted their time to canvas and sell the idea to their community.

The Government of Alberta through a Utilities Department assisted with the capital and technical assistance. Gas Alberta was set up under this department to act as a broker to buy gas, pool the costs and resell to the co-ops.

This is rather unique - most places expect large corporations to come in and provide their natural gas, rather than organizing rural co-ops, and then going out seeking bids for gas supply. The Alberta government came on board later, after it was up and running.

The Federation was first formed in 1964 by a small group of gas co-ops in the Brooks area to promote the idea of member owned co-ops, to provide buying power and to become a unified voice for all gas co-ops.

In May of 1973 the Government of Alberta introduced the Rural Gas Act.

It is however, a very effective way of ensuring you get natural gas. If you're from Alberta, you just kind of automatically assume that everyone has natural gas service.


Here's how Canadians heat their homes according to Statistics Canada:

Principal heating equipment     2005    2006    2007    2008    2009
  Steam or hot water boiler 	13.2 	12.7 	13.8 	12.5 	13.7
  Hot air furnace         	52.4 	52.8 	52.7 	51.8 	49.7
  Heating stove         	 4.1 	 4.3 	 4.4 	 4.1 	 4.2
  Electric heating         	30.2 	30.1 	29.0 	31.4 	32.4
Principal heating fuel 	  	2005  	2006  	2007  	2008 	2009
  Oil or other liquid fuel 	 9.6 	 9.5 	 9.5 	 7.9 	 8.4
  Piped gas (natural gas) 	50.4 	49.4 	50.5 	50.8 	49.2
  Bottled gas (propane)          1.0 	 1.0 	 0.7 	 1.0 	 1.0
  Electricity 	                34.2 	34.8 	34.0 	35.3 	36.6
  Wood 	                         4.5 	 4.7 	 4.7 	 4.4 	 4.3
  Other 	                 0.2 	 0.6 	 0.5 	 0.6 	 0.6

Source: http://www40.statcan.gc.ca/l01/cst01/famil09a-eng.htm

As we can see, the percentage of homes heated by oil continues to fall and it seems that electricity is growing its share whereas all other fuels remain flat. Eight out of every ten new homes built in this province are electrically heated, the vast majority of which are fitted with electric baseboard strips.


Well, TherinHalifax, we need to get the proportion of people heating with oil down to zero, just as a hedge against future oil prices. We don't need to have any more casualties in the upcoming global energy wars than necessary.

The proportion of people using electric heating is probably driven by the fact that the 2nd and 3rd most populous provinces (Quebec and BC) have vast hydroelectric capacity. The high proportion of people using natural gas is caused by the fact we have a lot of it in the West (mostly Alberta and BC), and there is an awful lot more in the North if the West ever runs short.

The biggest problem is Ontario, which developed all of its hydro capacity generations ago, and whose nukes are in a state of terminal decline. It has a bit of natural gas but not enough. Ontario has been burning high-sulfur US coal to keep the lights on, but obviously that has negative repercussions given that their coal power plants have no pollution controls. Their current strategy is wind and solar, but I think in the long term that will ensure that nobody can afford to heat their house. In the short term, natural gas is probably their best choice, given the current North American surplus.

In the long term, their only option may to be to move out West here where we have vast energy resources of all types. We do have space for them in our vast untracked landscapes, but they need a lot of re-educating to fit in, and in the interim they can be very annoying. It's the vastness and untrackedness that they can't cope with.

I don't think you'll want all of us to move out west, RMG, but thanks for the kind offer !

As you know, we gutted and re-insulated and air sealed our home so our space heating demands are fairly modest. I just read the Kill-a-Watt monitor for our Sanyo ductless heat pump, one of two units that supplies virtually all of our needs. In the 109 hours since it was reset by Tuesday's power cut, it has consumed 41.56 kWh, which works out to be an average of 381-watts or 9.15 kWh/day. Our average temperature during this time was -4.4°C (max: +1°C / min: -11°C) and this heat pump serves a little over 100 m2/1,100 ft2 without the assistance of any other heat source; at 12.5-cents per kWh, that works out to be about $1.15 per day.


900 to 1,000 gallons of fuel oil each year, so the annual cost of oil heat is now running between $3,000.00 and $3,500.00

Wow, and I've been complaining about a propane fillup of 120 gallons costing 323 dollars, the highest we've ever paid here in No. California.

Hi PE,

Some of the larger Victorian homes in this city consume over 7,000 litres of fuel oil a year and at a $1.00 per litre that's a lot of moola !


Ah Hell, my large old mountain home uses approx. 800 gallons propane a month. That despite running the wood stove non-stop. I insulated the crawlspace and attic year,as well as covered the entire exterior in recycled heart-pine shingles and re-caulked all windows/doors. My heat is set at 60, we turn it off at night. Everyone wears sweaters/fleeces indoors. I can't understand it.

That's frustrating..

Are the Pine Shingles supposed to be good insulators? I'm looking forward to stripping off all my siding and Laying on a layer of 2" to 4" of foam, then residing and getting 'creative' with my Window-and Door trim somehow..

The other biggie is going to be a fat layer dug into the foundation perimeter.

I'm one of those saps still on Northeast Oil.. but I'm whittling away at it, much as I can.


The 150 yr old heart-pine shingles are insect resistant and a damn site better insulator than the old thin pine board and batten that was on it. They also just look fabulous. I had my carpenter re-do all the window and door trims, We just tightened up everything. I was looking forward to seeing how much we were going to save this year. Not a damn dime, and we are all still freezing in the house. Now it WAS the coldest December on record in my area, probably January as well, and the house is very large, but still... disappointing. Next I think I will try one of those outdoor wood burning furnaces...?

I would have an air infiltration test done. Also, running outdoor combustion air to the woodstove helps. Just some ideas.

Wood, whether pine singles or board and batten, provides approximately zero insulation.

I my house I have 12 inches of fiberglass insulation in the attic and 6 inches of fiberglass insulation in the walls. The basement is insulated with 1.5 inches of closed cell foam plus 3.5 inches of fiberglass. The walls and ceiling have 6 mil polyethylene vapor barrier (really an air infiltration barrier) between the studs and the drywall, and the walls have Tyvec wrap (breathable moisture barrier) on the outside of the sheathing. The siding is cedar boards and the roof is cedar shakes, but that provides essentially no insulation.

This would, I think, be about the minimum amount of insulation a house should have in a cold climate.

I also have a 95% efficient condensing gas furnace and a wood fireplace with outside combustion air draw. However, I get my natural gas cheap, and my wood for free if I cut it myself, so my heating costs are not too bad.

The construction you are describing is generic Canadian built-to-code, and if well done is all you need. After that one hits the diminishing returns: Airtighness of the envelope is what matters and we discussed it a few days ago with RMG in British context.

Yes, stopping the air leaks is critical in this type of construction - first because air leaks can be a major source of heat loss, and second because, if you have an air leak, moisture condensation in the insulation can rot the framing out of the house.

The integrity of the 6 mil polyethylene vapor barrier is critical, and you have to ensure there are no gaps in it - even around windows. I've seen houses with ceilings that collapsed because of rot cause by moisture because they had no vapor barrier, I've seen exterior walls that had had to be rebuilt because of condensation around the windows. You have to pay attention to details.


If you are located someplace in the south where winter temperatures are relatively moderate, as I 'm guessing from your handle, it's pretty much a cinch that your house is leaking heat like a sifter bottom leaks water-unless you live in a really HUGE house.Of course the nine and ten foot ceilings in some such old houses don't help much either.Excessive air infiltration is almost certainly the larger part of your problem.

We live in the mountians in southwest Virginia, and have a large masonry barn -2400 square feet-that is not insulated at all, but it IS AIRTIGHT, as ordinary construction goes. We use it for storage and as a workshop, and on a 10 degree F day, a hundred pounds or so of not very good quality but thoroughly dry wood will keep her comfortable from early am till late pm.Of course there is some solar gain, but not much as a large part of the southern exposure is shaded by a shed roof built on that side, and the metal roof is painted with shiny bright aluminumized paint to help keep it cool in the summer.

Wra[pping an existing house with new exterior walls is apt to cost a small fortune, but there is a cheaper option that yields a lot of bang for the buck-installing vinyl siding with insulation and vapor barrier underneath-we did that and while the look is nothing to brag about, it looks ok. Between that and new double glazed windows we cut our heating fuel use substantially.

Insulation is probably the biggest bargain on the market these days.

Don't waste your time stripping off the old siding. It just costs you a lot of money with little return.
Instead, apply new 2x8 studs around the outside of your house, spray in 7.5 inches of R7 per inch urethane foam, add new plywood and then your choice of siding.
The added cost of the extra 3.5 inches of foam and the cost of the new studs/plywood really is a small percentage of the total job cost. Labor is the biggest factor - Why waste the labor cost stripping off the old when you can apply that to the material costs to do it right.
And you can't just decide to add the extra 3.5 inches of foam later doing it your way.
I did a through analysis before doing this and I certainly made the right choice to go with new 2x8 studs & 7.5 inches of foam.
You will be disappointed if you do it the cheap way. You will spend 70% of the money it would cost to do it right and only get 30% of the insulation you really should have.
Your oil costs should drop by a factor of ten (10!). And it is NOT about payback. It is about being able to afford to heat the house in the future with rising fuel costs and also about having a comfortable house to live in - I mean a really comfortable house to live in! You will not believe the difference.
It is a whole lot better use of your money than investing in a CD at present interest rates.

Jon. Sounds logical. Have other houses on property needing work, Will try your solution. thanks

7.5 inches of R7 urethane - that's like PassiveHaus! Appliances and people heat the building...

Appliances and people heat the building...

Yes, but there are drawbacks to that. I've been in Alpine huts where it started raining inside the building because the heat and humidity from people sweating and people cooking pushed the humidity above the dew point.

So what we did (I volunteer to do maintenance on Alpine huts from time to time) is put wood-burning stoves into them.

We have to fly wood in by helicopter since they are above treeline (a real adventure, if you are the one stacking the logs in the woodshed in the brief gaps between helicopter lifts), but it is worth it. Wood heat is a dry heat, and will dry the building out so mold doesn't grow. Mold can be a big health hazard in a cold, wet environment.

So you might want to take notes. Moisture is a problem in super-insulated buildings, wood heat is a solution. And you probably don't have to fly your wood in by helicopter so it probably won't be that expensive.

Solar thermal provides dry heat as well. But, one must also worry about moisture levels. In a super insulated, well sealed house, it's usually necessary to include an energy recovery venting system to give a healthy air exchange and to reduce moisture buildup. These devices intentionally recover some of the moisture to prevent the interior becoming too dry. With wood heat, one may place a pot of water on top the stove to add moisture, refilling as necessary...

E. Swanson

You use 800 gallons a month??? I used less than 175 gallons total last year in western NC at 3000 ft elevation!! And that was for supplemental heating of the upper floor (1500 ft2) of a solar house with the propane providing much of the heat. Maybe you should just build a new house and burn the wood from the old one to heat the new.

What about windows? Single pane glass has an R-value of about 0.50, so lots of window area will cost you plenty...

E. Swanson

E. Swanson... come see me and figure out the problem with my old house. I can't be far from you. I do have lots of window walls. In fact, the walls are mostly windows, hmmm...

Yeah, those windows might be a large part of your problem. Might I suggest an energy audit? It's not difficult to do an an analysis of the heating load, but doing a blower door test for leakage requires some equipment. When I built my house, I did a simple calculation based on rough estimates, then decided to use 12 inches of fiberglass in the walls and 15 inches thru the roof. I use a single 30,000 BTU/hr unvented propane wall heater, which keeps things warm upstairs on cloudy days. Or, I also have a wood stove, which warms both the upstairs living quarters and the downstairs. I'm in Ashe County, NC, BTW...

Edit: I should also mention the fact that I used triple layer windows with a low-e film in the middle on the North, East and West of the building and double layer low-e on the South. There are better windows available these days, but they do cost a bit too.

E. Swanson

Let's speculate a bit (my favourite). 800 gallons a month gives one gallon per hour for sake of simplicity. One gallon of propane contains 90,000 BTU. Let's say you have a relatively poor unit, with 60% efficiency. So your heat loss is 54,000 BTU/hr. So assume R value for window of 0.5 and temperature difference of 40F (32 to 72). The area that will loose 54,000 BTU/hr is 54,000/(40/0.5) = 675 square feet. So if you have a few hundred square feet of glass, give the rest of the house loose some heat, and it all makes sense. That is extreme, because windows usually have better R values:


In semi-utopian world of R50, 7 inches of urethane (see post above), the same 675 sq.ft. wall at 40F difference looses 675*40*(1/50) = 540Btu per hour. That is roughly 160W - a couple of bulbs or 1.5 human at rest. One week on two gallons.

It is -15F outside in my place right now, so insulation is important in colder climates.

Wow. Impressive. Never occurred to me to think of it that way.
very interesting,

If you have walls full of windows, they are probably a major part of your problem. Single-glazed windows typically have an R value of 1, double glazed windows an R value of 2. You can buy windows with R values up to 8, but they would cost a fortune if you had a wall full of them. It's much cheaper just to have fewer and smaller windows in the house.

As a mitigating measure, you can make insulating foam cushions or blankets to put over your windows overnight, or any other time you don't want to look through them.

Air infiltration around windows is also a problem if they are not properly sealed. In some cases you can feel a draft blowing through around the window frame, and this is a bad, bad thing from a heating cost perspective.

Here in the Great White North, renters often get a roll of polyethylene film and staple it over the windows in the winter, if they have to pay for heat. It's a cheap but dirty solution. Landlords don't like to find their window frames full of staples.

...Therefore there are kits with double sided tape, and foil is quite clear, so you can see through the window. In case of large windows, even ceiling to windowsill (or floor) curtains help, make sure that they are folded onto the sill or touching the floor.

Colorado Front Range foothills weighing in.

My area has no access to NG. Gas is only 1/2 mile away, but that half mile is solid granite, and the gas company insists the line be buried. It would cost a *lot* of money to run a line. Ten years ago the quote was $40K. Probably double that now. There is also an issue in that we sit 400 vertical feet above the line, and some kind of venting/pressure differential issue exists because of that.

So, the nine houses in my area use electricity and propane. Propane is currently only $2.10/gal. Unfortunately, in a warm winter month I'll use 100 gallons and in a cold month I'll use 300+. My water heater and furnace are the only appliances on propane. I have a pellet stove and I have a rule of thumb that says propane at $2.00/gal and pellets at $4.00 are about equal. The best price I can find on a 40lb bag of pellets is about $4.20, so they are roughly equal right now.

As others mentioned, when faced with this kind of problem, the best response is to use the propane and pellet stove to keep the pipes from freezing and use the fireplace and space heaters to keep rooms livable. My fireplace is terribly inefficient, but it does keep the upstairs warm enough to live in. Unfortunately there is not a lot of hardwood in Colorado, so you spend a lot of time feeding soft pine into the fireplace. On the plus side, because of the massive beetle kill of the forests here. soft pine is free for the taking. As the saying goes, "wood warms you twice", once in cutting, splitting and stacking, and again when it is burned.

We've had a very easy winter so far, but the temperatures at 8000ft above sea level are projected to drop to -15F two days from now and nighttime temps will be below zero for at least three nights.

Your House is toooooo big.
99% of the Houses in the US are toooooo big.

Really not much to heat a 1000 sq ft super insulated house. Maybe a light bulb or two.

Choose Wisely.
The Martian

While I would agree that 99% of houses in the US are too big, there is no way a 1000sq/ft house can be heated with a couple of light bulbs in our area. Our low tomorrow night is forecast to be -20F. That's minus twenty degrees Fahrenheit.

It takes a bit more than a lightbulb to keep pipes from freezing in those temperatures. Now if we eliminate indoor plumbing you could survive in a cardboard box with a couple of 100 watt lightbulbs. I'm just not up to that quite yet.

Superinsulation,,,,,, it's the WAY. Pipes/Plumbing are routed/designed wrong if they are subject to freeze. House is too Big.
Small is Beautiful.

Find the WAY....

Not the WHINE...

The Martian.

With all due respect, you obviously don't live where it gets really cold for days on end.

And yes, my house is too big to heat with body heat and a 100 watt lightbulb when the outside temperature is -20F.

Sorry, but I speak from experience........spent a number of years in upper Alaska.
Don't get much colder than that, I think. Built a few Superinsulated 1000 sq ft Cabins myself. Nice, large and very cheap to heat, no matter what the energy source used. No frozen pipes, no humidity problems. You can build a very efficient heat exchanger yourself, out of 4 in PVC, Copper Roof Flashing, a little Silicone and some other tidbits for very little money. Low volt, solar fan with battery backup keeps things nice.....less than $250.00...Last the lifetime of the owner. I did.
Free your mind of the BAU.

Yes, large houses are a waste of the Natural World.

The WAY.

The Martian.

I have a newsflash for you Martian. There are very few areas in the US where you can get away with building a cabin without it conforming to UBC. You can argue with the inspectors all you want, but they will force you to tear down anything that does not conform to UBC + additional local building codes.

Alaska is probably the last place you can get away with that kind of building. In Colorado where I live, it will never happen. In fact, here you even must have each individual log inspected and stamped now.

The truly innovative houses are the product of millionaires with all the time in the world to run things past their army of architects and contractors and who have the local pull to get the local inspectors on board. The average person building their own has no chance. You conform to UBC or tear it down.

Sad but true.

My daughter spent a year in Japan, teaching English.

The Japanese said: "Americans are so wasteful -- they heat the whole house."

Which, of course, we do. At least in this part of Japan (west coast, nearest point to Korea) they don't. They had some kind of gas heater built into the bed; that would make me nervous, but I guess they have the bugs worked out.

My daughter basically froze that winter; Japan gets serious weather from Siberia. But this illustrates the fact that a modern, first-world country does not have to heat/cool everything like we do in the US.

The heating option that hasn't been mentioned yet is only to heat the place where people are right now, or to heat minimally with warm clothes and electric blankets. Electric sensors and computer controls could direct heating to where the people are automatically; easy for new construction but probably a difficult retro-fit. I'm not saying anybody would like it, but we may be forced into it.

I just tried the modern equivalent of a Embers Bedwarmer Pan, which today is a Corn Cozy, a Big Soft Beanbag full of field corn (feed corn?) that you warm up in the microwave and bring into bed, or put in your lap at the table, etc. It holds its heat for a good little while, until you have warmed up the sheets yourself.

It's very appealing having this ball of warmth available.. (coughing too much.. so additional family body heat was not available..)

I have found that a dog works very well as a bed heater. The fuel is relatively inexpensive, and the heater positions itself correctly in the bed each night.

The dog solution worked well for indigenous Australians. On cold nights they would take a dog to bed with them; on colder nights they would take two dogs; and a very cold night was a Three Dog Night.

we have the heat off in the bedroom but use an electric blanket.
very comfy - sleep great.


Once Popular, Car Pools Go the Way of Hitchhiking

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Remember the 1970s? Watergate, disco, oil embargoes and, of course, car-pooling. Many big companies organized group rides for their employees, and roughly one in four Americans who drove to work shared a ride with others.

But now far more people are driving alone, as companies have spread out, Americans are wealthier and cars have become cheaper to own. The percentage of workers who car-pool has dropped by almost half since 1980, the first time the Census Bureau started systematically tracking the numbers, according to new data from the bureau.

The sharp decline has confounded efforts by urban planners, who over the years have tried to encourage the practice by setting aside highway lanes for car-poolers, as well as offering incentives like discounted parking.

re: Once Popular, Car Pools Go the Way of Hitchhiking

Another band-aid solution to US energy problems goes into the garbage bin.

Urban planners need to realize that people don't behave the way their neat plans say they will. They tend to go with the easiest, most convenient way to get around regardless of what the planning documents say they should do.

If they want people to car pool, they need to make it very expensive to buy cars and very expensive to drive them around. Don't build freeways, tax gasoline instead. That's the European solution. Providing lots of cheap public transportation is also the European solution.

Planners need to build walkable cities, add bicycle lanes, restrict urban sprawl, and build lots of public transit. HOV lanes and discounted parking just aren't working.

The alternative is... what you've got now, only worse - and it will continue to get worse until it doesn't work at all. I'm betting the planners and governments will let it get worse until it doesn't work at all, and then blame it on the victims who can't get anywhere anymore.

Well, actually, public transportation in the EU is often not all that cheap, at least not if you're going more than a few blocks. $2.10 on a Metrocard will get you almost anywhere on the New York subway, which can be in excess of 20 miles. On the other hand you'll be needing £1.90 to £4.50 ($3 to $7), depending in a complex manner on distance, day, and time of day, and with £2.70 ($4.30) being perhaps somewhat typical, on an Oyster card in London. So you'll be paying roughly twice as much, even more during rush hour, and you'll be forking it over out of take-home pay that's severely depleted by swingeing taxes.

Unfortunately, carpooling is an elegant solution in certain circumstances that were common back in the mid twentieth century. It was very helpful to have lots of factories and such where thousands of people arrived and departed on the dot of the shift change. That sort of thing makes it fairly likely that someone else is regularly arriving and departing when you are, and lives near enough to you that ride sharing actually does save on mileage. But a lot of that sort of employment has long since departed for China and other parts - something the article touches on but fails to dig into, possibly owing to its Washington D.C. outlook.

Times have changed: these days people are often not working such regular or compatible hours. In addition, when they leave work, they're often not going home - on Monday they're rushing Johnny off in some other direction to his hockey game; on Tuesday they're rushing Susie off in the opposite direction to soccer practice, and so on, a different destination and possibly a different time every day.

This highlights a built-in defect of "planning" - the planners seem always and inevitably to live in the past, decades behind the times. Maybe that lag is one reason why an extreme version of planning came to such a bad end in the Soviet Union. Maybe it's also a reason why no one besides planners and ivory-tower academics gives a stuff about "planning documents" except when a land use they dislike pops up right next door.

But we have also developed amazing communication abilities since the '70's. I think it will just take another price increase to $4 or so for people to start using twitter, facebook and all the rest of it to organize their trips.

Really, creative carpooling (or whatever else you want to call it) is the fastest way to reduce the number of cars on the road. Rather than pooh-poohing the idea, why not come up with hint of what may help it work?

The trouble is that a solution that doesn't work is worse than no solution at all, particularly if it convinces people that the problem is solved and they can continue in their efforts to make the problem worse (i.e. by driving to work, shopping, and school).

The people who don't understand this (and I'm pointing my finger at Americans here) have to realize that they are going to have to wake up and actually do something about the problem, rather than just invent creating solutions that don't work. The best solution to the problem is public transit, preferably using electric rail vehicles.

Other solutions will be too little, too late. For the US, it's already too late. US oil production has declined by 50% in the last 40 years, and driving has doubled, so they're far into the negative zone on the effectiveness of their solutions to their energy problems. If you think 2008 was bad, just wait!

Fortunately I'm in Canada, which has 2-3 times the public transit ridership, 8 times the oil reserves, and 1/9 the population of the US, so the ineffectiveness of American solutions is not my problem. In fact it has contributed heavily to my comfortable retirement, but I thought they should know about it. Effective solutions exist, they just have to implement them.

I saw the Toronto Star had a lead on the price of oil and the correlation with the price of food. The Globe and Mail newspaper has got to be the most Peak Oil-friendly newspaper of the MSM in the West out there. Canada overall seems to be a place where Peak Oil is in the common vernacular.
How much can Jeff Rubin be thanked for this, if at all?

A huge difference compared to most other countries, the U.S. perhaps more so than most other countries in the West.

By the way, a question to you readers out there: do you think the Arab revolutions will spread to Oil Rich zones? I doubt a place like Saudi Arabia will be affected but Algeria has already been touched before and they export far more than 2 mb/d.

A serious disrupt there would really shake the oil markets.
Jordan and Yemen are both oil poor but what if something of this scale moved towards Iraq, where secterian, religious and ethnic violence is never far away?

Perhaps these events are inevitable in an oil-constrained world, but might we see Peak Oil come sooner thanks to these random events nobody could have predicted?

Algeria has already been touched before and they export far more than 2 mb/d.

Algeria exports about 1.4 mbd. It's so easy to check data at the Energy Export Databrowser.

That noted, 1.4 mbd is nothing to sneeze at, and your point holds, at a smaller volume...

Au contraire, monsieur, according to the EIA, they exported 2.13 mb/d in "all liquids" (but used as oil). And this was in the low year of 2009.

Source: http://www.eia.doe.gov/cabs/Algeria/Oil.html

Then again, if one uses a narrow net export of conventional crude, you get closer to your number. But NGL is still useful as a transportation fuel(albeit less efficient by about 30-40 %, but still).

Either way one dances with the numbers, yeah, the point stands.

I'm not that worried about Algeria though, even if I see them as a risk. Iraq is on my mind. A serious revolt there would end any kind of meaningful mitigation of the inevitable decline into something resembling a nightmare. With no Iraq increase for quite some time, or even decrease, the so-called 'proven reserves' of Saudi Arabia(which has had less net oil exports in 2010 than in 2005) will be sorely tested.

It remains an open question how well supplied they truly are.

From your link:

Algeria's estimated net oil exports (including all liquids) reached 1.8 Mmbbl/d in 2009, including 1.33 Mmbbl/d of crude.

Perhaps you forgot that they consume some themselves? Your 2.13 would appear to be their all liquids total production, not exports. And you did say 'oil' in your initial comment. Au contraire indeed. Not trying to have a pissing contest w/you. Just trying to get the facts correct.

There's never anything wrong with getting the facts right.
If I am wrong on the data then I'm happy to concede the point.

Part of the reason may be that Canada is at no immediate threat and may in fact stand to benefit from peak oil, as they are net exporters and the oil sands are the "last fix" for the American oil junkies.

Also surely their major cities are somewhat less sprawled out (but still immensely so compared to Europe) with marginally better public transport options.

Plus they have good hydroelectric and nuclear resources, given they can manage them effectively.

And so basically Canadians may accept peak oil out of a sense of schadenfreude toward America.

Americans can't accept peak oil because, well, they can't accept much of anything that has to do with reality. This is the land of Disneyland and Hollywood and evangelical Christianity, after all.

Getting them to accept peak oil is like getting them to accept evolution or AGW. It can't be done.

Adieu, CANDU?

Nuclear renaissance
Canada may miss out on reactor sales if Ottawa sells AECL

Despite the fiasco over the sale of Canada's nuclear Crown corporation, Atomic Energy Canada Limited (AECL), the country's nuclear industry continues to pull in about $1.2-billion a year in exports -- though its future is now more uncertain than ever.

Domestically speaking, nuclear technology in Canada is a $6.6-billion sector that employs 71,000 people either directly or through spin-off jobs. It is an industry overwhelmingly centred around AECL and its flagship Candu reactors -- of which, there are 29 in operation around the world.

But AECL, as it exists now, may not be around for much longer. Crippled by cost overruns, blown project deadlines and a lack of sales of Candu reactors, the Crown corporation was put on sale in 2009 by the federal government, and has yet to secure a buyer.

At the heart of the sale is AECL's reactor division, which builds the Candu. Originally launched with the intention to develop reactors for domestic use and export, the division has gone without a new reactor sale since the 1990s. Former natural resources minister Lisa Raitt told reporters in 2009 that "the Candu Reactor Division is too small to establish a strong presence globally in the high-growth markets that are key to its success."

See: http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/Nuclear+renaissance/4182127/st...


One of the talking heads on CNN this morning spoke about this movie, Garbage Dreams. (Apaprently, it's been aired on PBS.) It's about a community of people in Egypt who live by recycling garbage. They're born into it, many living in the upper floors of their houses while the lower level is filled with trash.

But now, big international recycling companies have moved in, leaving much less garbage for the little guys. It's no longer possible to make living at it any more, and that's one of the reasons for the protests.

Thanks for the tip off Leanan - have ordered the DVD to rent.

Here's a link to a video about recycling in the underworl;d of Belgrade, probably similar to how it's done in Egypt:


The beginning of this clip in the film Baraka shows field work in Egyptian garbage dumps:


Interesting speculation, though you have to wonder why the Egyptian government has shut down the electronic communication networks if the protests are being driven the marginalized poor. Did the garbage recyclers find a lot of working cell phones in the trash?

I would tend to bet on the frustrated aspirations argument.

Egypt crossed the 60 million mobile phone users mark

Egypt, one of the largest mobile communications markets in the Middle East and Africa region, has performed well once again by managing to attract over 3 million new users of mobile phone services in the quarter to June 2010, thus propelling the overall nationwide subscriber base to more than 60.8 million according to latest updates by Dataxis Intelligence, the leading Analysts firm.

This represents an uptake of about 6% sequentially and 25% on a yearly basis which led the penetration to 79% of the population which still remains one of the lowest in the Arab world.

There are well over 1 billion cellphones manufactured per year, most of which are low-end voice and texting models. See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_number_of_mobile_phone...

A friend loaned me the DVD a while back; great watch. Some in the developed world see scrounging and salvage as a remote possibility in a Mad Max future, though few realize that entire cultures have already developed around this meme. Some clips available on Youtube.

While trying to get my head around the implications of the events in North Africa, I've concluded that these protests are about political and economic reform only on the surface. Fundamentally, it's about more people demanding a larger piece of an ever shrinking pie and I doubt that these folks (and a few billion others) give much thought to Peak Oil, the relationships between energy and the food they need, Climate Change or the environment. As others have, I predict that folks in oil exporting nations will also be demanding an increasing share, and the ELM effect will kick into high gear, or their societies will self-destruct.

I fear that the KSA is reaching a critical point, with protests in Jordan and Yemen underway and fundamentalists capitalizing on peaking anger, something they are very adept at doing. The suddeness of events in Tunisia and Egypt is indicative of how fragile things are in the region.

I expect that the Western 'Democracies' are quite a bit more fragile than most folks understand, and my doom-o-meter tells me that this could be the beginning of next big step down. The culture of entitlement is strong in the West, and divisions are growing. The Egyptians have an advantage in that they share a common enemy. What will happen in the US, when we meet the enemy and discover that he is us?

I've concluded that these protests are about political and economic reform only on the surface. Fundamentally, it's about more people demanding a larger piece of an ever shrinking pie

I'm not so sure - I think it's more likely that resentment has built up over the last 30 years under an oppressive Arabic regime and has finally begun to crack. Much like the USSR.

I don't think this is particularly related to Peak Oil, but it's not to say that it doesn't give us a good idea of how things could pan out when the populace come under an extended period of discontent.

Edit: Al Jazeera just reporting on gangs roaming the streets with guns, shooting the protesters in the suburbs. No-one seems to know what's going on. Sounds scary.

Yes, it sounds like things are taking a darker turn there.

They succeeded in driving away the police. And are now being reminded of why we have police.

Latest reports claiming the armed gangs are comprised of the central security services of the regime.

Would be a very interesting development if confirmed.


SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Finally, Ahmad, we know that there’s state security forces on the streets, the infamous baltaguia, who are, you know, the thugs, paid thugs, that the government pays to beat people up on the streets. Has there been any sign of military on the streets of Cairo or elsewhere?

AHMAD SHOKR: I have not seen any signs of military presence, nor have I heard reports. Again, given all the constraints of getting information under these circumstances, I haven’t heard any reports of the military being deployed onto the streets. But there are thousands of Central Security forces, and I’m sure many, many plainclothes—plain-clothed thugs that are ready to be deployed—

Well that's a confused report - the Central Security forces and the military are different entities. The military are certainly on the street in force.

Still waiting to see any confirmed reports of the Central Security 'thugs' roaming the streets.

Robert Fisk, one of the world's great journalists:

They were brave, largely peaceful, these tens of thousands, but the shocking behaviour of Mubarak's plainclothes battagi – the word does literally mean "thugs" in Arabic – who beat, bashed and assaulted demonstrators while the cops watched and did nothing, was a disgrace. These men, many of them ex-policemen who are drug addicts, were last night the front line of the Egyptian state. The true representatives of Hosni Mubarak as uniformed cops showered gas on to the crowds.

At one point last night, gas canisters were streaming smoke across the waters of the Nile as riot police and protesters fought on the great river bridges. It was incredible, a risen people who would no longer take violence and brutality and prison as their lot in the largest Arab nation. And the police themselves might be cracking: "What can we do?" one of the riot cops asked us. "We have orders. Do you think we want to do this? This country is going downhill." The government imposed a curfew last night as protesters knelt in prayer in front of police.


I'm certain it's all hands on deck down at the Carter Center, though I haven't heard anything from Jimmy on this. He could be a calming influence considering his past in the region, even if he's not up to heavy diplomacy these days. I doubt the folks in the streets of Egypt trust US Administrations since Mubarak came along, though Obama enjoys some popularity there.

It's clear they know that the whole world is watching. One hopes that they don't squander this opportunity. I'm getting a bit jealous :-/

Plausible, such trickery has been used before by other regimes.
It could even be spontanous, they are thugs who probably are loosing
their jobs soon and they might take the last chance for a quick buck.

Plausible, such trickery has been used before by other regimes.

Sounds very much like the situation in Iran. Can't remember the name used there, but basicly a bunch of bullies paid to do their thing. Don't know who I'd like to off more, the thugs, or those that pay them.

All kinds of rumors flying. Some in Egypt do believe that the looters are government thugs. (Some may be, but I personally suspect they are just ordinary, civilian thugs. Egyptians are no different from anyone else. There are always going to be those who want to take advantage of the lack of order. (See NYC blackout, or the Baghdad "liberation.") There's a lot of concern over a prison break that resulted in people being killed.

Iran issued an official statement supporting the protesters. Saudi Arabia did the opposite. They issued a statement supporting Mubarak and suggesting that the protests are due to outside agitators.

One of the rumors is that the US is behind it.

"One of the rumors is that the US is behind it."

That seems like a reasonable possibility.

The mild phase-change occuring in the ME right now reminds me of a controlled burn. The Saudi's sound like a neighbor who is worried the flames might jump onto his property - and the Iranians sound like a more distant neighbor who hopes the flames will jump to the Saudi property.

With enough controlled burns to lower oil demand elswhere, there will be more left on the markets for the US of A.

go team usa ! (sarc)

Don't see how in U.S. interest to go from a known government which has supported peace with Israel to an unknown government which might have a completely different viewpoint. U.S. recognizes the handwriting on the wall and wants to be friendly with any new government,however. Saudis, of course, are afraid of anything that smacks of power to the people. They are all about the dictatorship, hanging in the public square thing. Iran may be envisioning or hoping for an Islamic revolution.

This looks more, however, like a ground up revolution which has little or nothing to do with religion.

In any event, wise foresight years ago would have led to a policy of less breeding. A big bulge of young, dissatisfied, underemployed but educated masses doesn't bode well for dictatorships interested in keeping the masses down.

No way. I think the US is wetting themselves over this. They did not see it coming, and it's the last thing they really wanted.

I agree. It all started with a poor street vendor in Tunisia who couldn't stand the humiliation of being slapped by a Tunisian bureaucrat so he set himself on fire.

Slap in the face of a poor vegetable vendor set off a revolution in Tunisia

Then is spread to Egypt.

Burnings spread to Egypt, Algeria, Mauritania in Tunisia echo

That is the simple answer of how it started. Of course there had to be a seething resentment of the people to their plight to cause them to riot so.

But some people love a conspiracy. Last summer it was all the rage here in Pensacola that Obama was behind the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Ron P.

I tend to agree with you and Tstreat that this would not likely be what the US wanted, and that the US and other leaders are likely wetting themselves. Also, I personally don't believe the US is behind this. encouraged it

But I disagree completely that the US did not see it coming. If I recall correctly last summer and fall there were media reports of concerns this sort of unrest was likely to develop in the middle east if food prices etc continued to climb - Unified Quest 2011 takes into account scenarios like this.

I don't have much confidence in our leaders, but I think they had a clue this was coming. I imagine the US has multiple contingency plans based on multiple possible outcomes, but I am sure our leaders are are still wetting themselves.

Some people (not you leanan or T) love to cry "conspiracy theory", spout off ad homs and strawmen, and then complacently stop thinking. They seem to forget our history, especially with governments in the middle east and elsewhere.

Seems too genuine, too organic, too bottom-up for the U.S. to be involved.

Remember, in the coming years - anything that reeks of corruption, manipulation, and is very poorly done is likely the result of U.S. policies. Anything that is genuine, hopeful, and executed well, the opposite.

The best example right now is gold/silver/precious metals vs. the equities market.

Gold is in a 12 year bull market. The Fed and the U.S. government have lost control of it! There is demand for gold from smart investors the world over, and supply is stagnant to dropping.

Contrast that with stocks, in which Weimar Ben is actively involved in manipulating them, and they are completely detached from reality, and they don't represent a genuine market at all.

Gold will win. Oil will deplete. The Fed, the Wall Street banks, and the U.S. government will lose.

Just play for time.

CNN is reporting that there was an attempt to loot the national museum (where the King Tut artifacts are displayed). There was some damage, but nothing was stolen...apparently because the people turned out to protect their museum.

Yes, I'm beginning to wonder if some kind of twisted Chinese Whispers is going on as rumours circulate about armed gangs looting houses. There have been lots of vigilante gangs set up to keep guard even though many groups admitted not seeing anyone causing trouble and didn't even know who they were looking for. Fear inciting fear it seems.

It sounds to me like there is some real violence going on now. The correspondents are reporting that there was a change in the feeling on the street today. Some who live in Egypt sound genuinely scared for their families.

It seems part of the problem is that when the abandoned police stations were looted, some of the spoils were weapons. The people on the streets had been unarmed, but now some of them have guns.

Ah, it's a damn shame if it's so. :-(

There have been lots of vigilante gangs set up to keep guard

You're confusing neighbourhood watch groups with vigilante gangs. Vigilantes mete out extra legal punishment to alleged lawbreakers.

You're not the only one misusing words. Much of the media is using the same term to describe the same people. So you're in a lot of bad company, if that makes you feel any better.

Ah yes, so I am. Thanks for setting that straight.

Well employed, well fed peoples generally don't see themselves as 'oppressed' to the point where they develop this level of resentment and discontent. They won't risk changing their status quo when they have most of what they need and some of the things they want.

Hmm. But then Tunisia didn't have a particularly high rate of unemployment (far below Spain for example) and certainly doesn't have much poverty these days.

Besides having a more repressive Govt. than Egypt, there's this:

Although Tunisia managed an average 5% growth over the last decade it continues to suffer from a high unemployment, especially among youth.


Unemployment: 13.3% overall, higher amongst the "disenfranchized, hopeless youth".

We'll see what happens in Spain when they become totally insolvent and can't susidize contentment through their entitlement programs. Spain also has an older, stalled population who are mostly Catholic.

Well I agree, that's what I'm trying to say - it's the repressiveness/oppressiveness of the regime rather than a direct consequence of Peak Oil. Perhaps Peak Oil is the straw that broke the camel's back as it pushed food prices higher.

But that unemployment figure alone shouldn't necessarily cause a revolution - Ireland, Croatia, Latvia and Estonia's unemployments are higher and those are considered stable countries.

Nothing will happen in Spain, governor. We have stand firm in worse trenches. Unemployment now is 20% and growing, and just in Madrid there are 542,000 unemployed.
We have known worse.
In 1994 unemployment was 24% of the population.
There was total peace in the country at the time.
Only thing happened, in the next election PSOE lost and the Conservatives PP with Aznar won a minority mandate.

Even now the worst thing's happened some conservative politician in a province, Murcia, with 25% unemployment suffered a slight rearrangement of his face with brass knuckles.

Contrary to what most people think the population of Spain has been the fastest growing in Europe, far more than the rate in Tunisia, Morocco or Egypt, mostly because of immigration from Latinoamerica, Eastern Europe and Africa, 14% growth since the year 2000 -and in fact the real figure right now is 47 million, more than the 46,3 million in the graph.

That's part of the problem and the immigrants are not going away because in their home countries -Ecuador, Argentina, Morocco, Russia, Ukraine, etc) it is still worse.

Spain doesn't have Oil, Gas and hardly any Coal and depends for its Methane Gas on the two undersea gas pipelines from Algeria.
There's Sun, Wind and sometimes Water. Spain is self-sufficient in food, even exports food in important quantities to Europe.

These people in North African countries are caught in a classic Malthusian trap

It was Thomas Malthus who first made the argument that in "every age and in every state" that population increases are limited by the means of subsistence, and that when the means of subsistence increases, population will also increase, and that the population increase will be limited by "misery and vice."

So, they are caught in a trap of "misery and vice" and they perceive their only way out is to overthrow the government. The trouble with this is that they will still be caught in a trap and all they will get from the new government is more misery and more vice.

"The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world".

—Malthus T.R. 1798. An essay on the principle of population.

However, after Malthus published his works, many countries paid attention and found ways to escape the Malthusian trap - the industrial revolution and birth control. Increase the food production, reduce the population growth. This is what the Western countries did, it is what China is doing, it is what the North African countries should be doing, and are not doing.

The Arab oil producing nations have enough oil revenue to keep their populations relatively happy for a while longer, but their day of reckoning will come, too.

However, after Malthus published his works, many countries paid attention and found ways to escape the Malthusian trap - the industrial revolution and birth control. Increase the food production, reduce the population growth.

Wow, you really need to do your homework. The dramatic increase in population since the industrial revolution was a result of much lower death rates, NOT increased birth rates, and due in no small part to the aforementioned increase in food production.

Furthermore, even if every nation oppressively enforced the draconian "one child" birth control policies of China it still would not prevent the world population from growing for several more decades due to the large demographic bulge created by billions of people born in the last 30 years still being in their fertile child bearing youth.

No one, and I mean NO ONE has escaped the Malthusian trap, despite your misplaced enthusiasm to the contrary.

Asking "How will we get enough food to feed this growing population?" is like asking "How will we get enough wood to feed this growing bonfire?"


Wow, you really need to do your homework. The dramatic increase in population since the industrial revolution was a result of much lower death rates, NOT increased birth rates, and due in no small part to the aforementioned increase in food production.

No, I did do my homework.

The industrial revolution resulted in a substantial increase in food supplies, which allowed a significant increase in population in the industrialized countries. Their populations, however, did not increase in proportion to the increase in their food supplies and industrial production, so a result was a big increase in standard of living in the industrialized countries in the 19th and 20th centuries. The industrialized countries of Europe, North America, and Japan ended up with a very large share of the world's wealth.

However, the big increase in population occurred in third-world countries in the later half of the 20th century, when modern medicine caused a drop in their death rates. Their food supplies and industrial production did not keep up, which resulted in a decline in standard of living for many of their people.

Most countries have realized the source of the problem, and even without the China "one child" policy, most of them have drastically reduced their birth rates and increased their rates of economic growth. The biggest economic growth in the 21st century has been in the "BRICS" - Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. There are over 2.6 billion people in the BRICS - over 40% of the world's population.

Most of the world's population has now escaped the Malthusian trap and is enjoying increasing standards of living. Although they may be poor by Western standards, things are getting better for their people, and most of the world's population could now be described as "middle class" rather than "poverty stricken".

The residual problems are in countries which still have excessively high birth rates and very low rates of economic development. These are increasingly becoming an isolated minority of very problematic countries. Most of their problems arise because their governments are incompetent and corrupt.

The countries still caught in the Malthusian trap are mostly in Africa, which is one of the reasons we are seeing such turmoil there now. The reason you are not seeing turmoil in China is that the vast majority of people have jobs to work at, rice on the table, and many of them have shiny new cars parked outside.

You are right. And many of the problems are in the Islamic world, where they have just enough development to reduce death rates, but not enough to control birth rates (and in fact they have a cultural bias against birth control). Sub-Saharan Africa - well, they have high birth rates but they also have high death rates. Don't see too much reason for that to change.

You have to remember, though, that the decline in birth rates and development of the industrialized world is not favorable to the banks, who must constantly turn money into more money, demanding infinite growth in population, and infinite growth in resource consumption. That's why we have stock and real estate and energy bubbles. All of that excess money has to find a place to hide.

The industrialized world, despite its development, has not figured out how to solve this problem. They have not figured out how to deal with the banks.

Until they do, I am not hopeful on the prospects for the industrialized world. We'll live, but we'll be serfs.

The reason you are not seeing turmoil in China is that the vast majority of people have jobs to work at, rice on the table, and many of them have shiny new cars parked outside.

The reason you are not seeing turmoil in China may be because you aren't looking.


The reason you are not seeing turmoil in China is that the vast majority of people have jobs to work at, rice on the table, and many of them have shiny new cars parked outside.

(Jobs) + (Rice on the table) + (shiny new cars) = false sense of security... which in turn leads to population growth and is exactly what creates the conditions for The Malthusisn Trap, its really quite simple.

To and fro to the China man's house,
The people rode the wagon.
And after them in double haste,
Pop! goes the Dragon.

Half a pound of tuppenny rice,
Gotta fuel the wagon.
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the Dragon.

(Jobs) + (Rice on the table) + (shiny new cars) = false sense of security... which in turn leads to population growth and is exactly what creates the conditions for The Malthusisn Trap, its really quite simple.

No, it's quite the reverse. Once people are out of the Malthusian Trap, their birth rate drops drastically - just look at the birth rates in Europe, which escaped from the trap a century ago.

The key to this is to educate women. Once women have a good education, they understand the problem, they know how to stop having children, and once they have jobs and are making money, their enthusiasm for having large numbers of children diminishes drastically. They can see that it is going to badly affect their standard of living.

The classic case is Italy, which once had a very high birth rate, but now has one of the lowest birth rates in the world. The Italians have their own version of the "one child policy", but it has nothing to do with the government. The women are still committed to marriage and the family, but they have decided that they can fulfill their commitments by having exactly one child, and stopping there. They know that two children would be twice as much work, and they universally don't want twice as much work.

Unfortunately, in the countries which are the problem, the governments universally have policies of keeping women uneducated, out of the work force, and dependent on men to survive. Barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen as the saying goes.

However, after Malthus published his works, many countries paid attention and found ways to escape the Malthusian trap - the industrial revolution and birth control. Increase the food production, reduce the population growth.

Rocky, surely you jest. The world population at the time Malthus wrote his thesis was under one billion. It took all of human history, a few million years, to reach that level. In the 210 years since it has multiplied 7 fold. We have not reduced population growth since Malthus, we have dramatically increased it.

And it was the increase in food production that enabled this increase.

Ron P.

Edit: Sorry Jerry, I was typing while you were posting. Your post made mine unnecessary.

Public sanitation, antibiotics, mega-dams and fertilizers, all contributed, not just food production.

We have not reduced population growth since Malthus, we have dramatically increased it.

I'm not assuming we are saved, but at least we have indeed reduced population growth:


Population growth rate peaked in the early sixties and indeed the growth rate is down since then. But the current growth rate is still 1.2 percent per year. That comes to 82 million people per year added to the planet.

When Malthus published his thesis in 1799 the world's population was just under one billion and had, according to your chart, a growth rate of about .65 percent. That comes to an annual increase of 6.5 million people per year. Today the rate is almost double that and the population is seven times what it was in the days of Malthus.

Since Malthus we have indeed not reduced population growth, we have not reduced the growth rate and we are adding over 12 times as many people to the planet each year as we were when Malthus wrote his famous thesis.

Ron P.

"That comes to 82 million people per year added to the planet."

....another Egypt, every year.

When Malthus published his thesis, he made the assumption that population was on an exponential curve, and food production was on a linear curve. Using those assumptions, it is easy to demonstrate that population will exceed food supply at some point in the future.

Neither assumption is really correct. Population is really represented by a sigmoid curve that initially is steep but levels out after a while. Food production is really on a nonlinear curve that depends on its parameters, but is sometimes referred to as the learning curve.

The key object for policy-makers is to ensure that the population curve levels out before the food production curve levels out. There are various ways to do this, some cause the population curve to level out early, others cause the food production curve to level out later. The best way is to do both, which results in large food surpluses in the long term.

The Islamic fundamentalist of North Africa don't seem to know anything about this, but it appears the technocrats who run China understand it very well.

The key object for policy-makers is to ensure that the population curve levels out before the food production curve levels out.

Policy-makers can't do much. Food production has little growth capacity. Climate change is taking a high toll worldwide. Dropping water tables could lead to disasters. The most recent problems with food production are events in Russia, Australia and China. Important is also food exports, just like with oil.

I agree...partly. In Egypt, the protesters are not demanding democracy. Nor is it a religious revolution. The main driver seems to be hatred of Mubarak, spurred by rising prices, unemployment, and increasing inequality.

There were shortages of food and fuel in Egypt last year. Changing who's in charge isn't going to change that that basic problem. Lifting the subsidies might eliminate the shortages, but "rationing by price" will be even less popular than shortages. It would lead to widespread starvation, because so many people there cannot afford the market price.

The median age in Egypt is 24. Their problems are likely to get a lot worse before they get better. All those young people, who want the good life, and who are just entering their childbearing years.

I think the oil-exporting countries might avoid this kind of upheaval. KSA has not suffered the shortages that Egypt did, and with their oil wealth, probably won't.

A reporter this morning said that there did not appear to be much anti-American sentiment, although demonstrators were showing him that the tear gas canisters and shotgun shells were marked "made in USA".

How dumb is our government that we put country of origin markings on the tools of repression that we supply to dictators?

"The median age in Egypt is 24."

KSA median age: 24.9 years male: 26 years female: 23.4 years (2010)

KSA unemployment: 11.6% (amongst males)

Egypt unemployment: 9.4%


KSA has undergone a baby boom recently, 38% of population is under 15, so in about 5 years there is going to be alot of young people looking for something to do. Just sayin'.

I don't think unemployment is necessarily a problem. As long they can keep them fed. Egypt has had trouble doing that.

So you really think people will be content with being "well fed"?


Seems to be working fine in the States...

True dat, we saw it in the midterms.


Confucius apparently thought so..

If everyone lives secure and peaceful lives, with adequate food and clothing, then robbery and larceny will naturally disappear. People revolt when there are famines and they don't have enough to eat. When it is impossible to make a living, when nine out of ten houses are deserted because their occupants have been forced into homeless wandering, then the misery people suffer is unspeakable.

Actually, I was wondering if the majority of the "unrest" is created by seeing how people in Western democracies live, thanks to a generous supply of fossil fuel dollars, and by creating aspirations to a quality of life that cannot be met.

The internet has become a communications tool that shows garbage collectors how actors live in L.A.

Edit : there has also been reporting of people unhappy with the increasing disparity of wealth between the very well off and those that cannot pay for even basic expenses - one man reporting he was unable to make his car loan payments. (sounds a lot like home, actually)

That could be. It's not poverty that causes unrest, it's poverty cheek by jowl with wealth.

Still, I would guess they were exposed to the American way of life via TV and movies, long before the Internet. I'm sure you've seen those photos of Third World slums - house made of cardboard boxes, but with a satellite dish and TV (often running off stolen electricity). And Egypt isn't that poor.

It sounds to me like the problem is increasing inequality (perceived or real) within the country. The multinational recycling companies are making someone rich, but not the garbage pickers whose livelihood they are imperiling.

That's probably true - it's one thing to see something on TV in another country - another thing to see it in one's own neighborhood.

I do think that the internet fosters a conversation that can't occur through the medium of satellite TV. Someone who perhaps has vague feelings of discontent is suddenly mobilised through talking with others.

Facebook/Twitter is getting a lot of credit for this uprising.

But when the government pulled the plug on the net, it didn't stop the protests.

By the way, CNN had a story this morning about how it could happen here. Apparently, there's a law that allows the government to order the net shut down. For national security reasons, of course.

Darn, maybe I should hold on to my old laptop with its dial-up modem after all...

You're correct, a lot of people give credit to Facebook.

But once again, as you state, that didn't stop the protests. There was an interesting analysis on this issue recently on an independent ME site.


I would bet all of my lifetime salary that the USG can shut down domestic internet service, either everywhere in the U.S, or selectively: regionally, by city, and of course on an individual case basis.

Not only that, but we all surely surmise that the USG can (and does in select cases) monitor data / communications on the Internet.




I estimate that this includes the ability to shop for files and data on the hard drives of each computer hooked into the 'net, even if encrypted....basically, everything...bank accounts, Facebook, email,...everything....including cell phone voice, and data traffic, and of course, old-fashioned hard-line phone communications.

Just a fact of life, not exactly new and Earth-shaking news...one either accepts it or one lives off the net (and off the cell phone).

would bet all of my lifetime salary that the USG can shut down domestic internet service, either everywhere in the U.S, or selectively: regionally, by city, and of course on an individual case basis.

I think that might be a dubious bet. The Internet was originally designed to be a military network that could survive a nuclear war. Now, the military has its own networks, separate from the civilian network, but I don't think the civilian network would be much easier to shut down than the military one. The technology is the same, and the military isn't too keen on the concept of shutting down the internet, because they can route their own communications over it in emergencies. If things get bad, they'll just shut things down by shooting people.


In computer networking, MILNET (Military Network) was the name given to the part of the ARPANET internetwork designated for unclassified United States Department of Defense traffic.

MILNET was split off from the ARPANET in 1983: the ARPANET remained in service for the academic research community, but direct connectivity between the networks was severed for security reasons. Gateways relayed electronic mail between the two networks. BBN Technologies built and managed both the MILNET and the ARPANET and the two networks used very similar technology.

During the 1980s the MILNET expanded to become the Defense Data Network, a worldwide set of military networks running at different security levels. In the 1990s, MILNET became the NIPRNET.

Not only that, but we all surely surmise that the USG can (and does in select cases) monitor data / communications on the Internet.

I think you can count on that, and I wouldn't be surprised if they have supercomputers monitoring all your data, looking for stuff you don't won't them to know about.

However, internet snooping is a double-edged sword, as witness what happened on SIPRNet, The Secret Internet Protocol Router Network

SIPRNet was allegedly one of the networks accessed by Bradley Manning, who allegedly leaked the video used in WikiLeaks' "Collateral Murder" release as well as the source of the US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks in November 2010.

The problem they have with snooping on other people's messages is that if someone gets access to the secret technology, they can snoop on the government's messages.

As I understand it, it's not that there's a master switch or something. It's that they have the legal right to order ISPs to shut down, and legally, ISPs must comply.

Timely article on the Internet Kill Switch here:


Egypt's tech workers stay home as turmoil spreads

Computerworld - Anti-government protests in Egypt are disrupting the country's growing tech operations, keeping employees away from their offices and making Internet access spotty at best.

Yahia Megahed, vice president and supervisor of the Egyptian branch of Symbyo Technologies Inc., a U.S.-based IT services firm, said the protest and government Internet shutdown is "definitely affecting" business. "People are not able to go to work and the Internet is down," said Megahed.
Many IT companies, including Hewlett-Packard, are located in Cairo's "Smart Village," a large office park with 120 companies and some 28,000 workers.

That's not Cairo, Illinois.

Sounds like desperation to me. How long can they keep it up?

The US should distribute free beer and netflix, that would keep the angry hordes at bay.

"DOHA: Kuwait’s announcement yesterday to distribute free food for 14 months and $3,572 to every citizen has led to huge excitement in the Qatari community, with some saying they expect their government to follow suit.

The Kuwaiti news agency said the ruler has announced that free coupons for basic food items would be provided to each citizen from February 1 this year until March 31, 2012."


Hmmm. The giveaway is supposedly in honor of Kuwait's 50th anniversary of independence (as well as the 20th anniversary of the liberation from Iraqi occupation, and the 5th anniversary of the Emir's ascent to power).

The Emir made the announcement on January 17, before the Egyptian uprising, but not before Tunisia.

It's interesting to see the credulous travellers and tourists fleeing to the airports yet again. I wonder how long it will take before people perceive that the world as they know it no longer exists and is not a safe place for them. It seems collapse at the periphery is accelerating.

re: Return of California energy credits a boon for Calgary wind farms

That's very funny. I'm sure that the oil men of Calgary who are riding the wind-powered light rail transit system to work will thank the the taxpayers of California for subsidizing their ride. Or maybe they'll just think they're complete idiots.

It's too bad that California doesn't have any new light rail transit systems that are nearly as successful as Calgary's. However, subsidizing Calgary wind farms does free up extra oil sands production that can be sent to California to keep the Calfornia freeways full of cars - and Calgarians' pockets full of money.

Dear Friend,

Earlier this month, we passed an important milestone in our fight to bring high-speed rail to California: the groundbreaking for the first HSR station! The new Transbay Terminal will be home to San Francisco's HSR station, and serve as a hub for many other mass transit agencies.

I was honored to attend the groundbreaking ceremony along with many of our distinguished local and HSR Authority leaders to see the beginning of a modern-day Penn Station. Check out the website for the station — don't miss the renderings of the final project!





http://www.sacrt.com/ Sacratomato

Carmen San Diego


I don't mean to imply that California has no passenger rail at all, I was just pointing out that Calgary has a relatively successful electric rail transit system compared to those in California.

For instance, its daily ridership of 250,000 passengers is 2.5 times that of the San Diego Trolley (100,000) despite the fact that the San Diego metro area has about 3 times the population of the Calgary metro area. The two systems were built at about the same time and use almost identical rolling stock.

If you compare it to Los Angeles County Metro Rail, it looks really good because it has nearly as many passengers as Metro Rail's heavy rail and light rail lines combined (300,000) - and Los Angeles has about 14 times the metro population of Calgary. The LA system cost about 40 times as much to build, too.

It even looks relatively good compared to BART (330,000).

But the irony is that California will be subsidizing the wind farms that supply 100% of the power to the Calgary LRT. I don't think very much of the electricity that powers California rail transit systems comes from wind.

And the biggest irony is that Southern California once had the largest interurban electric railway system in the world, and it was all abandoned in favor of freeways and gas guzzling cars. It's going to be very hard to get back to what you once had.

Well, yes, IIRC we discussed that "biggest irony" once before. Lots of people were positively spoiling to dance on the grave of the Pacific Electric. In fact plenty of people throughout the US West were ready to dance on the grave of any rail operation whatsoever. Too many tycoons getting too obviously rich for way too long, too much price gouging or at least perceived gouging on fares and freight rates. (I don't really know how it played out in Canada.)

Add, in Los Angeles, those same hated tycoons deciding where people could and could not live (according to where they arbitrarily decided to run their tracks, often to tracts that they owned), then shamelessly gouging them on land and houses once they decided. I had no idea about the sheer depth and breadth of the antipathy until the subject came up in college, in the presence of actual everyday Angelenos (as opposed to "planners" and academics with their heads permanently in the clouds.)

Not a pretty picture. No sane person, except maybe a would-be tycoon with an angle, ought to want to "get back" to it. The trouble is, any rail project of any description will inevitably seem to give off an odor of doing just that.

Re: Oil and Food Prices by Jason Bradford

It takes 6 barrels of oil to raise a steer to a weight of 1250 lbs or three-quarters of a gallon of oil to produce a single pound of beef.

IMHO what is even more unsustainable is the amount of water to produce the same amount of beef, roughly 2500 gallons. http://www.earthsave.org/environment/water.htm

Compared to global peak potable water, peak oil, will be just a drop in the proverbial bucket of problems facing our civilization.

We don't need a stinkin 'Sputnik moment' what we need is a serious wake up call... "Houston we have a problem!"

Perhaps the Egyptians will do us all a favor and shut down the Suez Canal and the Straits of Hormuz for a while. That might make the world sit up and take notice and we might all get a chance to reassess while there is still some time make some fundamental changes. The world needs a major time out.

Best hopes for a global reset soon!

I was listening to a debate between Chicago mayoral hopefuls the other night. One candidate was trying to answer the question of "Food Deserts" in some neighborhoods. His response was to try and encourage grocery chains to go in there.
I don't know how that can possibly help if people can't afford to buy the fresh produce - it could make things a lot worse in some ways.
I wrote to the candidate and suggested he rather think about converting empty lots to urban farms. That would provide fresh produce at reasonable prices, be more "energy efficient", create jobs and help get kids off the street.
I wonder if anyone will actually read my comments ?

Perhaps the Egyptians will do us all a favor and shut down the Suez Canal and the Straits of Hormuz for a while.

Well I really don't thank they would be doing us a favor if they did that. There would be widespread hunger and if it lasted very long there would be widespread starvation. And of course there would be lots of food riots and burning of stores and everything else they find that will burn.

I posted these three links above but they would be better served here with the thread of oil and food prices. Corn, Soybeans, and Wheat monthly price charts. Notice that the price spikes in all three correspond exactly with the price spikes in oil. There can be no better evidence than this that grain prices are tied directly to oil prices. When the world oil supply starts to decline the world's food supply will do likewise. It is foolish to argue otherwise.

Ron P.

Notice that the price spikes in all three correspond exactly with the price spikes in oil. There can be no better evidence than this that grain prices are tied directly to oil prices. When the world oil supply starts to decline the world's food supply will do likewise. It is foolish to argue otherwise.

I didn't mean to imply that things would suddenly be all hunkydory if the Egyptian unrest puts a temporary squeeze on the flow of oil through the Suez canal. Quite the contrary, I would expect there to be a major domino effect and that there would be increases in fuel and food prices throughout the OECD countries and that might be the necessary wake up call which I think is past due. That wake up call is what I was alluding to when I said that a shutdown in the flow of oil would be doing us a favor. We all need to stop kidding ourselves.

The American military will ensure that the oil will flow. There will not be a wake up call in the way you mean it. People would be more supportive than ever of our military being in the region.

Well really this just begets a feedback loop.

Bernanke prints money to fund the U.S. military, and some of this money makes its way into oil/food/commodities, which causes unrest which causes Bernanke to print more money to fund even more military adventures, etc.

America is bankrupt in every sense of the world.

Believe me this makes me very sad, I don't like pointing it out so often but it must be done.

Yair..."The American military will ensure that the oil will flow"...do you realy believe that?

It would take one sunken ship to shut it down before the military could even get mobilized.

Yair...Exactly! Thanks Paulo, I didn't want to state the bleeding obvious.

The American military will ensure that the oil will flow.

You're unclear on the whole concept of military strategy. The American military will ensure that your oil will flow to them so they can drive tanks and fly planes. How you get around is your problem.

In World War II they rationed civilian gasoline so they could use the fuel in their aircraft and vehicles, and shut down automobile production so they could build tanks in the car factories. If anybody wanted to take a drive in the country or buy a new car, they just had to wait until the war was over.

Any future fuel crisis will be similar. Soldiers will drive, you will walk. That's just how the system works.

The Suez canal transports about 1mm bbl/day to europe. Pipelines add say another 1mm. Not a small amount but not the end of the world either.


When the world oil supply starts to decline the world's food supply will do likewise.

In the above mentioned case only when panic and chaos would rule for a long time. Otherwise high oilprices would bring another world recession causing oil demand destruction.
Widespread starvation because of shutdown of Suez Canal and Straits of Hormuz is very unlikely.

Widespread starvation because of shutdown of Suez Canal and Straits of Hormuz is very unlikely.

People don't starve from the lack of oil, they starve from the lack of food. People don't have enough food for two reasons. One is because there is no food to buy and the other is that they have no money to buy food if there is food available.

Food is produced by oil and without oil to produce food, and without oil to give people jobs so they can buy food, they will starve.

World chaos could very well dry up the oil supply and the food supply and also a declining oil supply could incite riots and chaos. That may not be very likely... today. But it will happen sooner or later, it's a lead pipe cinch.

Ron P.

Quite right, Ron. Altho the problems in Egypt will not follow any standard template because conditions vary in every country.

The people of Egypt see very little benefit coming from the Suez canal. All Revenues go to a semi private canal trust which continually funds dredging and digging a parallel canal. This means a handful of jobs to pilots and dredge operators.

The price of petrol has now risen to world levels. No more 30 cents/ liter. Ouch. Subsidized bread was availabe, but now the bakeries are shutting down for lack of wheat. Ouch. Prices for basics such as cooking oil are jumping.

The people see their conditions worsening and get paper promises of improvement. Been going on for 30 years. This reminds me of the Marcos era in the Phillippines.

now the bakeries are shutting down for lack of wheat.

Waverider, this is a about local problems, not widespread starvation.

The people of Egypt see very little benefit coming from the Suez canal.

Suggesting that those people could cause a shutdown of the Suez canal ?

Ron wrote:

World chaos could very well dry up the oil supply and the food supply and also a declining oil supply could incite riots and chaos. That may not be very likely... today. But it will happen sooner or later, it's a lead pipe cinch.

ok, but this is not about shutdown of canals or straits.

Mideast countries have bid rather aggressively for wheat supplies this last week, so there is still some ability to pay right now. KSA and Morocco were expected to buy this coming week, and I would suggest they get those orders in fast. Some may remember that I posted a number of times about how the IMF basically created new SDRs (money) and distributed it to every country from late 2009 to mid 2010. Poorer countries received a disproportionate high share relative to their populations.

So yes, I am saying that fiat money is paying for marginal food supplies right now, mainly because marginal food supplies are available. When there is no longer enough food to go around, printing SDRs, dollars, euros, etc. isn't going to help.

GRAINS-Wheat steady near 29-month top
Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:20am IST

Sales of wheat from the U.S., the world's top supplier,
exceeded 1 million tonnes for a second consecutive week last
week as seldom-seen buyers such as Jordan and Syria joined
regular U.S. wheat customers like Japan and Nigeria in securing
grain in a rising market.

Other upcoming international wheat tenders could include
Morocco and Saudi Arabia, which typically issues tenders twice
or three times a year for very large volumes, traders said.


FMagyar, I would love to see the actual data for such a huge claim. I assume you are talking about grain fed beef. Grass fed beef certainly has no such problem. Just can't grow as many per acre.

We are producing high protein grass based feed, with enough feed for the finishing of 50,000 cows with the equivalent energy of 100,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year. That is gallons, not barrels.

The water is, believe it or not, renewable. Here it comes from a seemingly never ending stream. I understand the water issues worldwide but, here, that 2500 gallons, if the number is accurate, would have just taken another few hours to drain into the ocean, along with the other 4,000,000 per day that go with it, from that stream alone.

My daddy used to say, "Figures don't lie, but liars figure". I'm not accusing anyone of lying Just, maybe manipulating figures a little.

I would love to see the actual data for such a huge claim. I assume you are talking about grain fed beef. Grass fed beef certainly has no such problem. Just can't grow as many per acre.

American cattle producers have gotten themselves into a trap by using huge amounts of fertilizer to grow huge amounts of corn that they can't sell, except to feed it to cattle. Corn is not particularly good cattle feed because it is missing essential proteins and other nutrients.

After reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma My wife was all depressed about the state of the cattle industry. I had to tell her, "This is not the United States. Look out there on the vast Alberta plains. Do you see any corn growing? No. We don't grow corn for cattle feed here. All you see is cows eating grass, and cowboys on horseback herding them."


With nearly five and a half million head of cattle, Alberta is the largest cattle producing province in Canada and has the fourth largest cattle herd of all provinces or states in North America, just behind Texas, Kansas and Nebraska. We are one of the world’s most successful beef exporters, shipping a yearly average of $1 billion of beef all over the globe.

Many American cattle producers think this is some kind of unfair trade advantage, being able to raise cattle on grass without paying for irrigated, over-fertilized, pesticide and herbicide treated corn. But it does work and it doesn't use much oil or gas. That frees up more Alberta oil and gas to sell to the US along with Alberta beef.

The whole concept that cattle producers are absolutely forced to use energy to grow corn so they can feed it to cattle is bogus. They don't have to do it that way. American cattle producers have been doing it because cheap energy has resulted in cheap corn, but if energy becomes expensive, they will have to go back to letting the cows eat grass, and maybe herding them on horseback again.

FMagyar, I would love to see the actual data for such a huge claim. I assume you are talking about grain fed beef. Grass fed beef certainly has no such problem. Just can't grow as many per acre.

Did you even bother to look at the link I provided? The 2500 gal might actually be overly conservative. You could of course check the references yourself. I'm sure there are places in the world where free range cattle are sustainable. In the US our industrial agricultural processes are not.

As far as water being renewable... I doubt you have examined the data or the implications.


In January, global business and elected leaders assembled in Davos at the World Economic Forum learned one more striking fact that underlies international concern. By 2030, WEF experts said, people will withdraw 30 percent more water than nature can replenish. Unless practices for using and conserving water shift dramatically, shortages will hit communities and businesses, especially agriculture, which uses 70 percent of the world’s fresh water.

Water is only renewable if it is replenished faster than it is used up, we are already past that point now with all indications that things will get worse.

Granted this is anecdotal but I sometimes work with a team of solar installers who are ex military, all are college educated and were deployed mostly in Iraq, they are also peak oil aware. Interestingly all of them are convinced that the big wars of the future will be about water and not oil.

I put up a post called What's behind Egypt's problems? How do they affect others? on Our Finite World. I'll put it in the TOD queue, but of course, don't know if it will be accepted or how soon it will run here.

Speaking of affects, the MSNBC article up top says says we should not worry too much about a potential shutdown of the Suez Canal. Well perhaps we should. What about the flow of oil products southbound onward to countries like KSA, for example.

Some here may know that KSA imports some oil products. I recently posted that a major KSA refinery shut down the other day and will out of service for maintenance during February. Possibly KSA has already stocked up on extra oil product supplies, but if not, what happens if a Suez shutdown leaves them short of imports of gasoline and diesel from Europe and the Black Sea? Would that not add to domestic instability in the KSA?

There are two countries who I am curious about their current and future level of oil production. The USA and Russia. I think these two combined for the last six years have maintained a stead growth in production. Arguably they offset all the other declining countries to maintain a global plateau. One is post peak and is experiencing a rally, the other is likely near its post Soviet peak. While Russia should exemplify all the reasons it is hard to predict oil production; remote, foreign, closed, etc., the production in the USA should be our best chance to predict future production. Three questions: Did anyone predict this six year run up in US production? To what extent is deep water or oil shale to account for it? When will we return to declining production? Extra credit: What is happening in Russian oil production? It seems we have been predicting a peak there for some time. These are just some questions I have been burning to ask for some time. Thanks

There has not been a six year increase in US production

Including 2010 there has been a two year increase in production after the 2008 low

Yes, it is a two-year minor uptick rather than a six-year run-up in production.

With the hold-up in new drilling permits for the Gulf of Mexico, I expect to see a sharp downtick in US production in the not too distant future. The decline rates in the existing deepwater GOM fields are really steep.

The big downtick will come when they have to shut down the Trans-Alaska Pipeline due to insufficient flow to prevent freeze-up in winter, and production at the biggest oil field ever found in US history comes to an abrupt end. We're all holding our breath to see when that will happen. It's not looking good - BP seems to be spending as little money on maintenance on the pipe as possible. They don't want to spend a lot of money on something they're going to sell to China for scrap.

"Yes, it is a two-year minor uptick rather than a six-year run-up in production."

Very possibly so, but the graph could also be interpreted as a classic bubble - sharp rise followed by sharp fall below trend followed by rebound to (very possibly S-curve) trend. So to advocate a particular view one must invoke other considerations. And as Simmons said, we'll know for sure only in the rearview mirror.

WRT the Gulf, my crystal ball is opaque. But continuing to hold up projects might be an effective way to get a President Palin, or some such, elected next year. Might as well break out the popcorn and watch that show, because even if there's little else good about it, the fireworks ought to be spectacular...

I don't know Paul. The view in my rear view mirror today seems crystal clear: in 1979 we were producing almost 10 million bopd. Today we produce around 6 million bopd. Even with my old eyes I think I get the picture. I don't have a crystal ball. But oil poduction in the U.S. has been on an overall decline for 41 years. I would be truly thrilled if some one can show me hard facts that this trend won't continue. After 36 years I continue to work with the propect generators who would be the only ones that might change this trend in this counry. This the same group resposible for finding all the billions of bbls of oil we've produced to date. Neither the USGS, the late and truly great Matt Simmons nor any talking head on the nightly news found those fields. Yet not one these proven oil finders is postulating the possibility of reversing that trend.

Yeah, I was looking at it wrong.

That's easily done Paul. Everyone present data in a way that's supports their view. Sometimes it's an honest attempt...sometimes not. The most difficult aspect for non-industry folks to appreciate is scale. Someone can say a new play has several billion bbls of new oil. Sounds like a lot to the layman. But that's only a few months of global consumption. Even worse: those X billions of bbls won't be produced over a period of a few months but perhaps a decade...or more.

six year run up in US production?

Two year minor up tick perhaps? The US and Russia have contributed in only a minor way to 'offsetting all the other declining countries'. The bulk of that has come from places like Azerbaijan, Kazakstan, Brazil (which has merely cut their own imports), Anglola. See here for more.

.. and of course, wouldn't it be great to see (And SHARE) that US chart with the numbers multiplied into the relative lifting costs for each of those barrels. I can't believe the downslope side would show any hopeful news, except that the Truth might start becoming more apparent to the rest of them.

Donn - DW production has accounted for a significant portion of new production. But as Tow just showed all that has accomplished is a slowing of our decline rate. Also remember that a typical DW GOM oil field will decline to uneconomic production levels in just 6 or 8 years. IOW they aren’t going to last decades like Ghawar. As far as shale oil production there are zero bbls of oil being produced today. Shell Oil hopes to have their first commercial pilot project running in 3 or 4 years. But they admit they still haven't developed a way to do it profitably yet.

I'll pass on the Russian questions...there are others who understand it much better than me.

What is happening in Russian oil production? It seems we have been predicting a peak there for some time.

As a close Russia watcher I will do what I can. The EIA's Short Term Energy Outlook, table 3b is predicting both to peak this year. Of course it will be a "Post Katrina" peak for the US as we actually peaked in 1970. Anyway here is what they are saying.

US and Russian All Liquids petroleum production in millions of barrels per day.

         2010   2011  2012
USA      9.62   9.60  9.51
Russia  10.13  10.09  9.86

I find nothing in these EIA predictions to disagree with. But notice that the USA produces a whole lot more natural gas liquids and other liquids than anyone else in the world. Of course they include ethanol and ever refinery process gain on imported oil in their "all liquids" number. That is why the "all liquids" numbers are so high compared to the USA's C+C production.

Russian production peaked in November 2010. December and January production is only slightly below the November numbers but seem to be eroding slowly. Though Russia has had some quite large new projects come on line in the last two years the lions share of their production still comes from their very old giant fields which are depleting fast. This year they will be running full speed just to stay in the same place. If they run out of new projects any time soon their production will tank very fast.

But I must mention that Russia's production the last four months, October, November, December and January, has been way above the their production in the first nine months of 2010. If it stays anywhere near present levels then they will set a new record in 2011. And notice the EIA is predicting that their production will peak in the second quarter of 2011 then it starts to drop pretty fast for the next four quarters.

Ron P.

Though with egypt there are more important news at this time, I'd like to ask folks from inside the USA, whether that Inhofe/EPA story is something serious or rather a joke?

Until now it seems nobody wants to comment on that.

Inhofe is a joke but he is dead set to destroy the EPA.

Inhofe and other 'InHoffentlich' Tea Partiers have gotten this jolt of inspiration from the last election, and believe that their SuperPowers have finally come in the mail. It's somewhere between Hillariously unbelievable, and just completely Terrifying that they have this Ill-wind beneath their wings right now.

In his dusty grave, Daelelus is watching with rapt attention to this horrid replay.

Our new Governor, Paul LePage, is doing his darndest to keep up with the Joneses South and West of us, with a firm determination to erase several decades of Environmental Protections and similar responsible Policy..

Also Sprach his Communications Director..

"Maine's working families and Maine's small business is an endangered species in this state." He says the proposed rule changes are designed to help businesses grow and create new jobs. Demeritt says the ideas come from the "red tape" forums the Governor has organized around the state.

("Endangered Species.." This particular batch in the Blaine House now has a real knack for misappropriating terminology. They're giving us a knee-slapper every week..)

I'd like to ask folks from inside the USA, whether that Inhofe/EPA story is something serious or rather a joke?

What you have to keep in mind is any Senator can push forward an agenda, even bring something to a vote, but whether it passes or not is another matter. Inhofe's efforts will go nowhere, with the net effect of his position being a joke.

Stop the Press.

Professor Nagel suggests further tests for Rossi's CF demonstration.

The data indicated power gains of more than ten. That amplification is what the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor seeks to achieve in about a decade for well over $10 Billion

Oil will only be used for lubricants, pharmaceuticals, plastics. . . in future.

Pass the popcorn. Let the show begin.

The Focardi-Rossi test has not been thoroughly documented yet.


5. The test should be repeated at least three times, with each conducted for a
continuous period of sufficient duration to strongly exclude the possibility of the
measured exit energy being from chemicals stored within the device and then
releasing energy.


It is likely, but uncertain, that item #5 was not satisfied during the
14 January 2011 test. Whatever the result of the recommended comparison, additional complete tests of adequate duration should be planned, executed and reported. This assertion should not imply that the demonstration by Focardi and Rossi was entirely unsatisfactory, or that the conclusions based on the demonstration were wrong.

I think it's another Cold fusion scam, similar to the Fleischmann–Pons fiasco of 1989.

The key indicator is the "Dead Body" index, which one physicist suggested after the Fleischmann–Pons experiment. The success of the experiment is proportional to the number of dead bodies lying around after it is over. That is because if it is nuclear fusion, hot or cold, it should be emitting enough nuclear radiation to kill everyone in the room. This is kind of intrinsic to the physics of it.

People are very naive about nuclear fusion, but that is probably because they didn't research it thoroughly in Junior High School like I did.

I can relate, as I researched killer bees in junior high. Nothing like doing a report on something that has elements of uncertainty and crisis to it when you are young and have that element of scepticism continue through the years. It makes for a good learning experience.

I have had a run-in with Fleischmann before the Cold Fusion debacle hit and know what that man is made of. I knew it was bogus the minute I heard he was involved.

Prophets of Doom is rerunning tonight on The History Channel. If you missed it the first time, you get another chance to see Nate Hagens, Jim Kunstler, Mike Ruppert, and others discuss TEOTWAWKI. 8-10pm ET.

The events in Egypt are such a stark reminder of how shaky the foundation of western civilization has become. I don't think it will happen this time but if popular uprisings against authoritarian governments were to spread to major oil producers oil exports from the ME could slow to a trickle in a matter of weeks and there would be nothing the US military could do about it.

Unlikely in the short term I know but this realization is being played on MSN all over the world. The rational response to this is oil hording in national petroleum reserves etc. I’m curious does anyone else see a significant oil price spike coming if this doesn’t blow over soon even if oil production or transport is not actually affected significantly?

Aside from the fact that Egypt is not part of Western civilization at all?
Being our puppet doesn't mean being part of us, just a tool.

This doesn't mean we're unshakeable, but weak countries in North Africa, parts of the Middle East, Central Asia as well as South-East Asia will fall first.

The richer West will outlast most of them. Even being importers, there are far more poorer importers than places like Germany.

And also, NATO is very strong. Don't be surprised to see more oil wars, this time without the 'democracy building' pretexts(and thus making them far more cheap to go into).

"Aside from the fact that Egypt is not part of Western civilization at all?"

Ignoring that Egypt has been part of every major Western empire for 3000 years; Hellenic/Greek, Roman, Byzantine, various European, ... and ignoring any influence Egypt may have had on Western art, religion, mythology and trade, and that English is a common second language there, I suppose the fact that all of those western style clothes they wear are made in China means they are an Eastern civilization.

I could argue that Egypt was the first major western civilization......but it's early.

I always liked Mubarak's tie.

Ghung - The different takes on "western" is a little interesting. For instance here in Texas nothing east of Dallas is considered "western".

Hey...it's Sunday morning and I haven't had my coffee yet so this is as heavy as I can be right now.

The take was a bit similar in Poland, but quite politicized. There are three rivers going South to North. One on western border with Germany, one smack in the middle, and one on the eastern border with Belarus. So your perspective where Asia begins depends on your location with respect to the three rivers. :=)

Ghung - The different takes on "western" is a little interesting. For instance here in Texas nothing east of Dallas is considered "western".

That's OK,to get to the 'South' from the greater Miami area when need to go north...

Actually the second-- but I agree with your analysis.


I doubt very much if Egypt can and will change western cloths internet and cell phones are just a veneer The weight of a 1000 years of Islam is too strong. Nearly all the 56 states of the OIC ( Organisation of the Islamic Conference) are failed states and the majority of them are at the bottom of the U.N.s Human development index. They have been in close contact with Western Civilisation and thinking for over 200 years since in fact Napoleon invaded Egypt and nothing has really changed. Why should it change now? Japan on the other hand was opened up by Commander Perry over fifty years later. He brought a quarter size steam engine and tracks to impress them. They had replicated it in a few months. I could imagine them doing the same now in Egypt and the answer would be the same as the Saudis and the rest of the Islamic lands where can I buy another one.

I shouldn't have said western civilization I should have said world civilization rests of the very shaky foundation of having a great deal of the oil supply coming from countries run by despots.

And although US and NATO have very powerful militaries they are useless against a popular revolt and anarchy, (see Somali).

What’s worse for the developed world is even if these dependable dictatorships fall in a more or less peaceful fashion the new leaders of the countries involved might be less inclined to give their oil away at anything less than top dollar or maybe at all. Egypt for example would do well to ban the export of NG it is obvious they will need it in the future.

Egypt for example would do well to ban the export of NG it is obvious they will need it in the future.

If they stop exporting natural gas, what else are they going to export? And if they stop exporting anything significant, they won't have any money to import food. They're basically screwed -- too many people living along the banks of one river that runs through the desert.

Egypt exports food to the US among other things, but it is true that natural gas exports are a significant revenue earner. But it's foolish to export unembedded natural gas.

I take the shifting stance of the POTUS to indicate that Mubarek is busy signing his last executive orders, mostly to legalize as much last minute theft as possible in all likelihood.

Hopefully, for the Egyptians, the new regime, or the new leadership of the old regime, finds more ways to productively burn their gas at home. They could start by improving market regulations and affecting a narrowing of the wealth gap through tax policy. This is the way to release repressed entrepeneurial energy.

Smart policy changes that enable a new generation of entrepeneurs will go a long way to improving Egypt's trade situation.

Shell moving intl staff out of Egypt: source

LONDON | Sun Jan 30, 2011 9:38am EST

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil company Royal Dutch Shell plans to evacuate its international staff and their families from Egypt on Sunday, a source close to company told Reuters.


The current state of affairs risks shutting down Egypt's internal oil output, if recent history is any guide. Iran's output essentially went to zero for a while after their revolution started.

There are also reports from CNN that most gas stations are running out of supplies in Cairo.

Heard an Al Jazeera reporter in Suez say yesterday that the military had moved in to protect major oil installations and port facilities (including a key refinery) in and around Suez. No report on whether these facilities were still operating normally though.

Egypt now trying to stop Al Jazeera reporting.

Egypt shuts down Al Jazeera bureau

The Egyptian authorities are revoking the Al Jazeera Network's licence to broadcast from the country, and will be shutting down its bureau office in Cairo, state television has said.

"The information minister [Anas al-Fikki] ordered ... suspension of operations of Al Jazeera, cancelling of its licences and withdrawing accreditation to all its staff as of today," a statement on the official Mena news agency said on Sunday.

In a statement, Al Jazeera said it strongly denounces and condemns the closure of its bureau in Cairo by the Egyptian government. The network received notification from the Egyptian authorities on Sunday morning.

"Al Jazeera has received widespread global acclaim for their coverage on the ground across the length and breadth of Egypt," the statement said.

An Al Jazeera spokesman said that the company would continue its strong coverage regardless.

UK Gas question:

If you look at the graph here it shows the line-pack for the UK Gas Grid (why this data is publicly available defeats me).

Does anyone know what the effective minimum operating level would be on this scale?



That was quite a drop. Doubt it was to anywhere near winter MOL though (and there's no sign there were any supply disruptions to interruptible customers and short range storage was only used sparingly) but I've no idea what that is.

I see there have been problems on the Langeled pipeline from Norway.

UK gas at three-week high on Norway supply drop

* Langeled supply drops 70 pct, no capacity problem - Gassco

* Troll field to cut capacity on Thu afternoon - Statoil

* Trinidad LNG expected in UK on Feb. 3

* Hunterston B-7 nuclear reactor restarts early Thu

LONDON, Jan 27 (Reuters) - British prompt gas prices traded at a three-week high on Thursday as supply from Norway via the Langeled pipeline fell by 70 percent, but the upturn in flows from liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals capped further gains.

The day-ahead gas price rose to 58.25 pence per therm at 1000 GMT, up 0.60 pence from the previous session and the highest price since early January.

Imports from Norway via the Langeled pipeline dropped to just below 20 million cubic metres (mcm) on Thursday morning, from over 60 mcm still seen on Wednesday evening, according to National Grid data

...Strong withdrawals from the Rough storage site also reignited concerns about stock availability for the rest of the winter, traders said.

National Grid data showed Rough storage levels were around one quarter below figures seen at the same time last year, despite a brief period of stocks rising as demand fell with warmer weather.

There have been further problems today


The data is public because of transparency conditions imposed on private companies to demonstrate how superior the free market is at managing security of supply compared to old-fashioned nationalized industries. Hmmm. Anyway, nice Reuters graphic of price coming to the rescue as linepack drops at http://graphics.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/DFI_20112701085024.jpg

Thanks for the detail Undertow.

It probably goes without saying (so I will anyway :) it is just as well there were no Langeled problems during peak demand in December...

CNN is running a "special edition": The Uprising and the Economy. They're tying the unrest to the global economic crisis, and the rising food prices that resulted.

At least one of their experts says Saudi Arabia might not be immune. He pointed out that they're surrounded: Yemen, Sudan, Egypt, Jordan are all facing protests.

I wonder if they will tie higher energy costs (oil) in with the global economic crisis?

I'm adding some notes after watching part of that program.

The part I saw they said oil and NG were up and that was helping bring in more money for Egypt, but the recent information on TOD contradicts that oil is up. At least not enough to have exports due to increasing domestic consumption. Didn't hear much else on their program worth noting.

but the recent information on TOD contradicts that oil is up.

Earl, TOD is not an official oil price reporting agency. Try:

Upstream: Crude oil spot prices or Bloomberg Energy & Oil Prices

Yes oil is up, regardless of what you may have heard on TOD. NYMEX crude has just gone above $90 a barrel and Brent is over $99 at this posting. I expect it to hit $100 before tomorrow but who knows. However make no mistake about it, oil is up.

Ron P.


Since BP seems determined to try to continue to hide the decline in production from the main structure in the Thunder Horse complex, I was wondering if you might consider posting monthly updates on oil and water production from the two different fields.

I heard indirectly, from a media source, that a retired BP engineer confirmed that they had serious production problems with the main structure, and it was only a matter of time before they had the same problem, presumably rapidly rising water production, on the north field.

I would be glad to Jeff. There has been no update lately but there was a slight error in my last post. I will correct that tomorrow and post updates as they come in.

Ron P.

You don't think I know the price of oil is up? That's about as condescending as it gets. Wrong Ron. What they were saying on CNN is that oil revenue (and don't confuse that with NG because I never mentioned NG) for Egypt is up, but how can that be if according to the article by Gail, oil exports for Egypt are down to zero? Or are you saying they are making more on their oil selling it to their own citizens?

Earl, you did not mention Egyptian oil revenues, you said oil. In fact you said "contradicts that oil is up" and that does not translate int "oil exports" or "oil production" or "oil revenues". What you should have said was "recent information on TOD contradicts that Egyptian oil exports are up."

I am sorry for the misunderstanding but you must shoulder part of the blame. You simply cannot use the word "oil" in the singular and expect people to know that you are talking about either revenues or exports. Though you did mention exports but then you then use oil in the singular and say it is not up, it appears you are talking about revenues gained from those exports because the price is up, or not up in this case. Exports and revenues are both plural.

Ron P.

Oil price jump on open of trading

Brent 99.88
WTI 90.73

Not sure if this link has been posted, so JIC:

....a short, anonymous survey conducted by a researcher from the University of Minnesota. It is intended to gather information about those engaged in learning about and acting on the theory of peak oil.