Drumbeat: February 12, 2011

Gulf rulers shaken by Egypt, but will weather storm

(Reuters) - Gulf Arab rulers, eyeing the fall of a fellow U.S.-ally in Egypt, have lost a longheld sense of invulnerability to popular unrest and will only survive the immediate crisis if they offer concessions to their populations.

From oil behemoth Saudi Arabia to majority-Shi'ite Bahrain and sleepy Oman, Gulf governments may be forced to offer political and economic reforms to prevent unrest from reaching their shores.

But they will also not hesitate to use force to stifle dissent if needed to maintain their hold on power.

Ex-Shell head says energy policies choke economy

WASHINGTON — Former Shell Oil Co. president John Hofmeister said Thursday the Obama administration's energy policies and regulations are strangling the U.S. economy and preventing the country from decreasing its dependence on foreign oil.

Testifying before the House Energy and Power Subcommittee, the Houston businessman blamed the administration for restricting offshore drilling after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year.

"I believe that the decline" in drilling in the Gulf of Mexico "will be sharper and deeper than what anyone is currently projecting," he told lawmakers. "We have made a horrible error as a country."

Spill Commissioners Call for Review of Energy Policy

Two members of President Obama’s commission on the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill said at a Congressional hearing on Friday that regulatory failures and industry overconfidence helped lead to the catastrophe and called for an overhaul of federal oversight of offshore drilling and a transition to safer, cleaner forms of energy.

Rich in Land, Aborigines Split on How to Use It

As resource companies push ever deeper into Australia’s remotest areas, however, Aboriginal leaders are leveraging their rights as traditional landowners to negotiate deals with companies and governments that are seeking to develop their holdings. They say the potential windfall — hundreds of millions of dollars — will rescue their communities from their long dependence on welfare and state subsidies.

“These resources booms come along maybe every 50 to 100 years, big ones like this,” said Wayne Bergmann, 41, a lawyer and executive director of the Kimberley Land Council, the largest Aboriginal group here. “So if we don’t get positioned during this next stage, the chances are we’re going to be locked out of the opportunities that are going to help build the economic basis for our families in the future. We can’t sit back.”

Need to filter fact from fiction!

WHAT Saddad Al-Husseini said, or in fact did not say, is making rounds — all around. For what he said carried tremendous implications to the global energy order.

Moscow’s armada

While much of Europe slashes spending to reduce deficits, surging oil prices are allowing Russia to splurge. The Kremlin’s choice of stimulus package is a bit of a throwback, though — among other things, a new fleet of warships to challenge China.

Last week Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced a whopping $678 billion package of new defence spending for the next decade, with a quarter of the money going to revamp Russia’s Pacific fleet. On the Kremlin’s shopping list: 20 new ships, including a new class of attack submarines, plus new missile subs, frigates, and an aircraft carrier.

Paul Erhlich interview- Humanity on a tightrope

In this wide-ranging interview, after 40 books, thousands of scientific papers, and 40 years after "The Population Bomb" - Dr. Paul Ehrlich talks about our dependence of fossil fuels, climate change, toxic disruption, and food.

His new book "Humanity on a Tightrope" is not about population! Instead, Erhlich and co-author psychologist Robert E. Ornstein look into the human brain for a tool that could help us survive the multiple threats facing humanity.

Norway's carbon capture coup

The Norwegian company Protia is betting that a new approach to carbon capture, based on ceramic membranes, will make a big difference to efficiency and costs.

Nigeria presidential rally ends in deadly stampede

(Reuters) - At least 11 people were trampled to death on Saturday in a stampede at an election campaign rally for Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in the southern oil city of Port Harcourt.

Saudi Arabia to save energy through insulation

(Reuters) - Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia plans to cut up to 40 percent of its energy use, largely by enforcing investment in insulation, its water and power minister said on Saturday.

Power demand in the top OPEC producer is rising at an annual rate of 8 percent, requiring investments of close to $80 billion by 2018.

Without reducing the rate of energy consumption growth, the kingdom could see oil available for export drop some 3 million barrels per day (bpd) to less than 7 million bpd in 2028, Khalid al-Falih, the chief executive of state oil firm Saudi Aramco said last year.

Obama Seeks to End $46.2 Billion in Energy Tax Breaks in Decade, Chu Says

The Obama administration will seek to repeal $46.2 billion in subsidies for oil, natural gas and coal companies in the next 10 years, to fund renewable energy spending, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said.

The plan is part of President Barack Obama’s commitment to lower dependence on fossil fuels and increase to 80 percent the share of U.S. electricity from “clean” sources by 2035. Cutting the subsidies will help pay for $8 billion in “clean energy” investments, Chu wrote on his blog yesterday. The president is scheduled to present the 2012 budget on Feb. 14.

“Fiscal responsibility demands shared sacrifice,” Chu wrote.

Energy Department to seek $600 million in budget cuts

The Obama administration will call for deep cuts in the headquarters staff of the Energy Department next week but will seek $8 billion in investments in the research, development and deployment of what it calls "clean energy technology programs."

Oil Industry Urged to Pay $200 Million for Added Gulf Drilling Oversight

The U.S. oil industry should pay about $200 million a year to support stricter and more efficient oversight of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, a member of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill said.

The funding, which is about 7 cents to 12 cents a barrel of oil produced, would help hire rig inspectors and engineers to review energy companies’ well designs, Donald Boesch, a member of the panel, said today at a hearing of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Gas pump prices highest ever for this time of year

NEW YORK – U.S. gasoline prices have jumped to the highest levels ever for the middle of February. The national average hit $3.127 per gallon on Friday, about 50 cents above a year ago.

The price is about 6 percent higher than on this date in 2008. The next day, pump prices began a string of 32 gains over 34 days. They rose 39 percent over five months, eventually hitting an all-time high of $4.11 per gallon in July.

Nigeria: Pirates Attack Foreign Ship in Lagos

Lagos — Pirates off the coast of Lagos have attacked an unnamed foreign chemical tanker in a bid to board and rob the ship in the Gulf of Guinea.

A report Friday by the International Maritime Bureau showed the attack happened late on Thursday about 50 nautical miles off the coast of Lagos.

Crude Oil Falls to 10-Week Low After Egypt’s Mubarak Resigns

Oil fell to a 10-week low in New York after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down and handed power to the military, reducing concern that crude shipments from the Middle East will be disrupted.

Midwest Gasoline Gains as Conoco’s Oklahoma Plant Flares Gases

Also in Oklahoma, Explorer Pipeline Co., based in Tulsa, canceled Cycle 5 on its oil products line because a destination “couldn’t handle” products. Tom Jensen, a spokesman for the line, said in a telephone interview. He declined to identify the destination.

Deep drills set for Gulf

Get the rigs warmed up. The deep-water drilling permits are on the way.

Report: Yemeni protesters clash with knife-wielding men

Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- Men armed with knives attacked more than a thousand anti-government protesters gathered in the Yemeni capital to demand reform, human rights groups said.

The protesters took to the streets of Sanaa on Friday night to support the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Explosions hit 3 gas pipelines in Iran

Iran's semiofficial Mehr News Agency says simultaneous blasts have struck three pipelines near the holy city of Qom, cutting the flow of gas.

Mehr said the blasts, which occurred at 5:50 a.m. locat time (2:20 GMT) outside the town of Salafchegan, 130 kilometers south of Tehran, were felt kilometers away.

Local official Majid Bojarzadeh said the blasts were not caused by technical failures, but did not elaborate if officials believed the explosions were acts of sabotage.

Mexican city tries to close Sempra LNG terminal

(Reuters) - A Mexican city ordered U.S. firm Sempra Energy to shut down its Costa Azul liquefied natural gas terminal, citing saftey concerns, but the company said it was protected by a court order and was operating normally.

Sempra's terminal in Baja California, northern Mexico, was inaugurated in 2008 and pipes natural gas to local industry as well as across the border to California.

U.S. lawmakers lend support to Keystone pipeline project

CALGARY - TransCanada Corp. said Friday it has received more support from U.S. lawmakers for its controversial Keystone XL pipeline project.

The Calgary-based pipeline company said a letter has been sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with the signatures of 30 congressional representatives from 18 states, calling for approval of the project.

Transocean nixes dividend for now

Transocean the world's largest rig contractor, has abandoned efforts to overcome a Swiss challenge against its 2010 $1 billion dividend payout, while setting out plans for another.

TNK-BP exec says BP offered it Rosneft deal role

KHANTY-MANSIISK, Russia - BP has offered its Russian venture TNK-BP a chance to join its partnership with Rosneft, TNK-BP's deputy chief executive told reporters, signalling a possible resolution to a row.

"We had an offer from BP ... about its agreements with Rosneft. Obviously a partnership would be interesting," Maxim Barsky told reporters on a visit to an oil-rich west Siberian region.

Obama to cut heat subsidies for poor

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- President Obama's 2012 budget will propose cutting $2.5 billion from a program that helps low-income people cope with high energy costs in the cold of winter and heat of summer, according to a source familiar with the budget process.

The reduction is steep, and might impact millions of families. In 2010, the program received $5.1 billion in federal funds, which were then distributed to states that have both low average incomes and high energy costs.

BP fund to settle more than 2,000 claims of damage from gulf oil spill

The administrator of the BP escrow fund will settle more than 2,000 claims of damage from last year's oil spill from hotels, oystermen, condominium owners and others from Louisiana to Florida. Individual payments will range from $10,000 to $30 million, according to a lawyer for the claimants.

Is Oil Output Peaking or Not? Either Way, Cheap Oil Is Gone for Good

As investors and as drivers, most of us have an interest in the price of oil, and what it's going to do next. But if you're having trouble figuring out whether global oil production is about to peak -- an occurrence that will inevitably be followed by a surge in oil prices -- you're not alone.

Even whitewash won't halt Green machine

There is a fair amount of jargon in this document which will serve to confuse the ordinary voter, but one phrase that is explained is “peak oil”. This is the point at which the petrol pumps start to run dry because the maximum rate of production has been passed. The Greens argue that this provides Ireland with a chance to utilise our “bountiful natural resources” to develop alternative sources of energy and become an oil-free economy.

Like the early Christians, the Greens have not always received a friendly or understanding reception, but the message they propound is likely to be heard for a long time to come.

Preface to a Prelude to Peak Oil

The stark reality that few have truly woken to is the high probability that we have already passed the peak of oil production and that it is all downhill from here. If this is a new idea to you, or even if you already have some familiarity with it, you will enjoy the new novel, Prelude, from peak oil analyst Kurt Cobb.

Ontario Halts Approval of Offshore Wind Energy Projects Pending Review

Ontario’s government said it suspended approval of offshore wind-power projects, citing concern that more research is needed on their effect on the environment.

The Canadian province has also stopped accepting applications for its renewable energy subsidy program, its government said today in a statement.

Maryland Considers Legislation That May Boost Offshore Wind Energy

Maryland lawmakers are considering a bill that would require utilities in the state to purchase electricity generated at offshore wind farms built in the mid- Atlantic.

The Maryland Offshore Wind Act of 2011, to be introduced before the state’s general assembly today, would require public utilities to purchase between 400 megawatts and 600 megawatts of capacity from wind farms in federal waters off Maryland’s coastline for at least 20 years, according to an e-mailed statement from Governor Martin O’Malley’s office.

Global Wind Turbine Orders Increased 75% in Second Half of 2010

The world’s wind turbine order intake rose 75 percent in the second half of last year, reaching the highest level of activity in two years, MAKE Consulting said.

U.S. must move past Yucca dump for nuke waste: Chu

(Reuters) - Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Friday reiterated the Obama administration's case against moving forward with a nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

A world of hunger again

Once again, world food stocks are looking precarious. As Mr. Michael Richardson detailed in these pages on Feb. 3, prices are soaring for basic food products and the prospect of hunger, starvation and unrest are rising as well. There are several reasons for this spike in prices, but weather — and climate change — is the most important. It will be difficult if not impossible to insulate food production from weather-related problems in the short term, but steps can be taken to insulate prices from their impact.

Southwestern Water: Going, Going, Gone?

The glum projections of the growing gap between demand for water in the Southwest and the dwindling supplies have never been optimistic, but two new studies— one a research report based on satellite data, and the other an analysis of rainfall, water use and the costs associated with obtaining new water — make earlier forecasts seem positively rosy.

Planet Sludge: Millions of Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells Are 'Ticking Time Bombs'

There are at minimum 2.5 million abandoned oil and gas wells, none permanently capped, littering the US, and an estimated 20-30 million globally. There is no known technology for securely sealing these tens of millions of abandoned wells. Many—likely hundreds of thousands—are already hemorrhaging oil, brine and greenhouse gases into the environment. Habitats are being fundamentally altered. Aquifers are being destroyed. Some of these abandoned wells are explosive, capable of building-leveling, toxin-spreading detonations. And thanks to primitive capping technologies, virtually all are leaking now—or will be.

Yeah, it's an eye-opener. Death by a thousand leaks.

An old friend of mine discovered an abandoned NGas well on the family property in Eastern Kentucky after he retired there. A contractor, grading for a new barn hit the buried well head. Fortunately, no explosion. Last I heard, he found a company to redevelop the well and is receiving a modest income from it. Lucky him, as he was going to be responsible for resealing the poorly sealed bore at major expense.

I wonder how many of these leaking wells go unreported by private property owners because of the liability. Many of the companies that drilled these wells no longer exist.

Is there no legislation in Kentucky regarding orphan wells? In Alberta, there are procedures for transfers or call-backs.(http://www.orphanwell.ca/pg_faq.html)

I don't know the specifics of my buddy's case or Kentucky law, but I believe he took advantage of something like this:

The intent of the state is to restart production where possible, collect revenues in the future, and avoid P&A and other shutdown costs. The new operator, with a fresh look at existing well and production records, appropriate technology, and sufficient resources could give new life to an abandoned, orphan well.

Interesting article: A new era for marginal oil production

Alberta is relatively organized. As stated by the Orphan Well Association link, it has an organization to take care of these wells where nobody is legally responsible and/or financially able to deal with its abandonment and reclamation. It's funded by the oil industry.

The Orphan Well Association or OWA is a not for profit organization unique to the province of Alberta which was created from the work of many genuinely concerned individuals from our oil and gas industry and from our provincial government. We operate under the delegated authority of the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), the provincial regulators of the oil and gas industry.

The purpose of the OWA is to manage the abandonment and reclamation of upstream oil and gas orphan wells, pipelines, facilities and their associated sites.

On the other hand, if you want to personally take over one of these wells and produce more oil and gas:

How Do I Take Over An Orphan Well?
The ERCB processes applications for transfer of well licences, even those for orphan wells. Therefore, any party wishing to acquire an orphan well has to apply to ERCB in accordance with section 24(6) of the Oil and Gas Conservation Act to request that the Board direct the transfer of the well licence. It is the Enforcement Section of the Corporate Compliance Group that processes Board Directed Transfer applications. The application comes with a fee of $10,000 per licence

If it is properly plugged, abandoned, and reclaimed, this is what it is supposed to look like:

I really like the greener grass, looks more like a water well draining the groundwater ;)

The greener grass is a bonus feature of having your orphaned well reclaimed. Any halfway decent environmental consultant can make an abandoned well site look much better than average scruffy farmland. And it produces better crop yields as well.

We used to dispose of drilling waste by spreading it on farmers fields. You would think that farmers would be upset by this, but after we had done this a few times, the farmers would notice that the crop yields were much better than before, and they would be lined up to have drilling mud disposed of on their farmland.

There's a trick to this, of course. Drilling mud mostly consists of Bentonite clay, which has tremendous water-holding capability, and we would spread it on sandy soil, which has poor water-holding capability. Also, we would also do soil tests, determine what the soil was deficient in, and put that into the drilling waste before we spread it. Result - bumper crops.

Rocky - Just today I finished pumping 12,000 bbls of drill mud from an old pit onto a farmer's field. He'll be planting corn soon and has reduced his fertilizer plans as a result of my mud. Needless to say he's a happy camper. BTW: Texas law requires written approval of the surface owner to "landfarm" a mud pit.

Thanks Rocky,

re: "Also, we would also do soil tests, determine what the soil was deficient in, and put that into the drilling waste before we spread it. Result - bumper crops."

Just curious - is there any downside to this? (i.e., Are there no undesirable components in the waste?)

Probably the worst contaminant would be rock chips. They might be sharp and puncture the tires of the equipment. Oil contamination is not generally a problem, and if it is, there is such a thing as oil-eating bacteria. It is quite effective in getting rid of oil.

Rocky - Good point. But we only pump the mud. The cuttings (rock chips) are buried in a slit trench typically under the pit. OTOH in my part of the world real rock cuttings are rare...usually sand grains and mud lumps.

Aniya - There are restrictions as far as salinity and oil content. Operators tend to follow the rules closely for at least on simple fact: a farmer can have the ag agent test the soil for free. Not difficult to detect either component...just taste/smell it. Beleive me: it's really diffficult getting away with spoiling the land (at least in Texas). The land owner has full access to all the operations and sees everything. And suing a sloppy operator is easy money. Despite popular opinion the land owner almost always wins.

Yes, salt water is the one thing that will really screw up farmland permanently. Oil contamination is relatively easy to mitigate, especially since they discovered oil-eating bacteria. If you get salt into the soil, nothing will grow, and there's no way to get rid of it.

The government regulators are all over that issue though. The farmers have an awful lot of clout in the legislatures. And if they sue, well, who would have thought an old broke-down saddle horse was worth $25,000? Only the owner and the jury, apparently.

Thanks for that link, MT, very interesting. Here's an interesting brief: Environmental hazards posed by the Los Angeles Basin urban oilfields: an historical perspective of lessons learned. A gas leak blew up a Ross Dept store in 1985; in the wake of that a well which was installed to monitor gas seeps was P&A. And that's in the middle of LA, you couldn't do better for drawing attention to leaky O&G. This will be a problem that will be around for millenia.

Ghung - yep...from what you described that wasn’t an orphaned well…just a P&A’d well. Just last week I took possession of 24 wells from the La. orphan well program. None of these were improperly abandoned…they weren’t P&A’d in the first place. Companies just went bankrupt and disappeared. I obviously think I can re-establish commercial production. Will cost around $12 million to try. Regardless of each outcome I’m obligated to properly P&A each well eventually following very strict and monitored P&A requirements of the state. With the current price of oil there will be a great many such efforts taken across the country.

An old friend of mine discovered an abandoned NGas well on the family property in Eastern Kentucky after he retired there. A contractor, grading for a new barn hit the buried well head.

There is good ways and bad ways to heaven or wherever we end up ... I guess it was not time yet.

Ghung - I obviously don’t know if that well was properly P&A’d or not. But you didn’t say he found the well leaking or not…he just found the abandoned surface casing. All state and federal laws actually require the surface casing be left intact in the original hole. The primary reason is to prevent deeper salt water from contamination the shallow fresh water aquifers. Some operator apparently did re-enter the well and established production. I’ve personally dug out old surface casings and done the same more than a dozen times. Especially common with NG reservoirs: when first drilled NG prices are too low to develop. And then 20 years later prices go p and the well is worth salvaging.

I can’t prove it has never happened but I’ve been drilling in the heaviest drilled region for 36 years and have never heard of an abandoned well exploding. Given how oil field hands love to retell stories you think I would have heard about it. Let’s try this approach: let’s assume there are 1 million abandoned wells (they actually said “millions”). Let’s assume a failure rate of 0.01%...you gotta admit that ain’t that bad. So then 100 abandoned wells would have exploded. If so it should be easy to Google and find stories about a few at least. When someone finds those dozens of stories please send me the links. Thanks in advance.

By the way there are over 100 million situation around us every day that could lead to explosions and death. They’re called automobile gas tanks. Bet I can find a lot more links about folks being killed by those exploding than from exploding abandoned wells…wouldn’t you bet?

The Rise of Slime - by both land and by sea.

At the rate we are going we should be able to eliminate most complex life forms and give the planet back to the microbes. The Long Emergency turns into The Big Do-over.

Good find! Here is part of the abstract from PNAS:

Ecological extinction and evolution in the brave new ocean


Today, the synergistic effects of human impacts are laying the groundwork for a comparably great Anthropocene mass extinction in the oceans with unknown ecological and evolutionary consequences. Synergistic effects of habitat destruction, overfishing, introduced species, warming, acidification, toxins, and massive runoff of nutrients are transforming once complex ecosystems like coral reefs and kelp forests into monotonous level bottoms, transforming clear and productive coastal seas into anoxic dead zones, and transforming complex food webs topped by big animals into simplified, microbially dominated ecosystems with boom and bust cycles of toxic dinoflagellate blooms, jellyfish, and disease. Rates of change are increasingly fast and nonlinear with sudden phase shifts to novel alternative community states.

Halting and ultimately reversing these trends will require rapid and fundamental changes in fisheries, agricultural practice, and the emissions of greenhouse gases on a global scale.

In addition to the threats described here, I'm also reminded of the research of Univ. of Washington paleontologist Peter Ward, specifically his book "Under a Green Sky". He discovered that some, if not most of the known mass extinction events were probably caused by the oceans becoming anoxic. This not only killed off oxygen loving marine life, but also led to a new regime of cyanobacteria which produced such copious quantities of hydrogen sulfide that it suffocated oxygen loving terrestrial life as well.

He even speculated that the current regime we all know and love of blue oceans well oxygenated by a vigorous thermohaline circulation is the exception, with much of Earth's geologic past dominated by green skies of hydrogen sulfide and sluggish, anoxic oceans covered with mats of bacteria.


The bad news? The recent rapid increase of atmospheric carbon from human activities and subsequent warming of the oceans is setting the stage for a return to those green skies, in which case you can kiss 95% of life on Earth as we know it goodbye.


He discovered that some, if not most of the known mass extinction events were probably caused by the oceans becoming anoxic. This not only killed off oxygen loving marine life, but also led to a new regime of cyanobacteria which produced such copious quantities of hydrogen sulfide that it suffocated oxygen loving terrestrial life as well.

The bolded probably only applies to the end-Permian events; most other major mass extinctions do not coincide with a major drawdown in atmospheric oxygen (it even seems to be in the middle of a steady rise during the end-Ordovician and Frasnian-Famennian). And even in the case of the Permian, oxygen was declining for tens of millions of years (and the oceans were apparently anoxic for a similarly long time) before the extinction events, e.g. Isozaki 1997; Wignall and Twitchett 2002. The oceans do appear to have been nastily sulfidic in mass extinction after mass extinction, but probably not on a scale that significantly affected terrestrial life.

The key recent discoveries in bringing together our understanding of (most) mass extinctions were really Grice et al. 2005 and Kump et al. 2005.

Hi Ashen Light,

Thanks for summing up topics I know nothing about.

One small Q:

re: "The oceans do appear to have been nastily sulfidic in mass extinction after mass extinction, but probably not on a scale that significantly affected terrestrial life."

If the oceans were sufidic, to the point of significantly altering the life in the oceans...would this not alter life on land as well?

Or, are humans the only animal that depends - (percentage of nutritional intake) - on ocean life for food?

And, is food the only oceanic contribution that comes into play?

Or, are there other critical dependencies?

The oceans do appear to have been nastily sulfidic in mass extinction after mass extinction, but probably not on a scale that significantly affected terrestrial life.

Oh gosh no, I'm quite sure it didn't bother anyone the least little bit. I'll be sure and phone you up next time I take a holiday next to a "nastily sulfidic" ocean and tell you just how wonderful it is.


Can we be nicer to each other? As I recall, AshenLight is a scientist who works with climate change issues. He knows what he's talking about.

You are correct of course. But we all occasionally make errors. AshenLight just neglected to put the word "local" before mass extinctions and we all just naturally took him to mean "ocean wide" mass extinctions.

Ron P.

The oceans do appear to have been nastily sulfidic in mass extinction after mass extinction, but probably not on a scale that significantly affected terrestrial life.

Where can I put my hands on that data? It is grossly incorrect. Every mass extinction in the oceans have been accompanied by a mass extinction on land. There have been five of them, no more. Well six if you count the one that is happening right now. And it is happening on both land and in the sea. But of course this one is not caused by the oceans becoming anoxic.

There have been many algae blooms which caused localized die offs in the area where they happened, but they never caused any ocean wide mass extinction.

Ron P.

Thank you, Leanan. Though I'm actually a paleobiologist. My expertise is in marine invertebrates and the Permian extinction, not climate change.

Where can I put my hands on that data? It is grossly incorrect. Every mass extinction in the oceans have been accompanied by a mass extinction on land. There have been five of them, no more. Well six if you count the one that is happening right now.

No, there have been five major ones and a host of others. Here is a graph of extinction intensity; you can see for yourself there are far more than five peaks that are significantly above baseline.

What I said earlier can indeed apply to global mass extinctions as well as local ones. Consider what terrestrial life consisted of during the end-Middle Cambrian, the end-Cambrian, and the end-Ordovician: not much. There is no evidence of mass extinction on land for any of them. In fact, the earliest evidence of animal life walking on dry land came later; eurypterid tracks from the Late Silurian. But even after colonization by plants, insects and amphibians, the Frasnian-Famennian (late Devonian) mass extinction seems to have been exclusively marine. K/T was not caused by the mechanism we are discussing and is anomalous compared to the rest. The largest peak on that graph since K/T is the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), which is a good example of a mass extinction where anoxic/sulfidic conditions apparently existed at depth, but not in the photic zone (where shallow water species survived just fine) and not in great enough concentrations to reach the atmosphere per the Kump et al. 2005 mechanism.

Perhaps what I should have said is that terrestrial and marine extinctions are not necessarily linked, and in particular, not usually linked by that mechanism. I should have mentioned also that the T/J event appears to have had relatively simultaneous marine and terrestrial extinctions--but again, likely not linked to H2S outgassing from euxinic oceans. I was trying to emphasize that the Permian was unique in having huge quantities of H2S in the oceans set against a backdrop of plunging atmospheric O2, which also put upward pressure on the chemocline, allowing the H2S to reach the surface. This probably did not happen during the others, even the biggies.

But of course there were many other factors at play. (I'm trying to find a neat figure I have that shows the close coincidence of major mass extinctions with major volcanic provinces... huge CO2 input, global warming, ocean acidification etc. from that can do plenty of damage on their own without invoking oceans filled bottom to top with euxinic water. I'll include it if I find it. That is perhaps the even bigger story. Even the oddball K/T has the Deccan Traps, although they do not appear to have been quite contemporaneous.)

Thanks AshenLight, I stand corrected.

But of course there were many other factors at play. (I'm trying to find a neat figure I have that shows the close coincidence of major mass extinctions with major volcanic provinces... huge CO2 input, global warming, ocean acidification etc. from that can do plenty of damage on their own without invoking oceans filled bottom to top with euxinic water. I'll include it if I find it. That is perhaps the even bigger story. Even the oddball K/T has the Deccan Traps, although they do not appear to have been quite contemporaneous.)

Then you might be interested in this lecture: Princeton University Archived Lectures

Then scroll down to this lecture:

December 4, 2002 - Public Lecture Series (a Louis Clark Vanuxem Lecture)
Vincent Courtillot , Universite Paris 7: "Mass extinctions in the Phanerozoic: a single cause and if yes which?"

You have probably heard of this guy. He has a book on the subject available on Amazon. I have watched the lecture twice and have the book. He maintains that all major mass extinctions, including the K/T extinction were caused by massive volcanism.

Ron P.

My pleasure, Ron, always happy to discuss this stuff.

I'll check it out. I've heard the name but I don't think I know his work. There is certainly a case to be made for excessive volcanism as the main culprit. K/T is the most problematic. Gerta Keller and her supporters claim to have debunked the impact being the cause of the mass extinction, saying it happened some hundreds of thousands before the extinction occurred. OTOH, I have personally heard one well known paleontologist already named in this thread cracking jokes with other graybeard luminaries about what a terrible field geologist Gerta Keller is. So who knows. But there are other things that are anomalous about K/T; the selectivity of the extinction does not match the familiar pattern. In particular, deep water species were not impacted nearly as much as shallow water species, and that's certainly not what you see when a body of water goes anoxic from the bottom up. So very strange that ALL the ammonoids and belemnoids would be annihilated but clumsy old Nautilus survive to the present day.

I also wonder if there are suitable flood basalts for the Cambrian and Ordovician events. The end-O has been (somewhat fancifully) attributed to a gamma ray burst, and the TV shows certainly ran with that suggestion, but there's really no evidence for it. The many extinctions during the Cambrian are loosely attributed to anoxia and/or glaciation, but without strong evidence that I know of.

Here's the figure I mentioned:
flood basalts and mass extinctions

Hey, I think I saw that exact same diagram in Vincent Courtillot's book. I am out of town and away from my library right now but I am almost sure that diagram is in his book.

I have argued, on this list and others, that the K/T extinction was likely caused by the Deccan Volcanism but I was not able to convince anyone. One person claimed that the Chicxulub Meteorite rang the earth like a bell and caused the Deccan Volcanism. Courtillot argues that the Deccan Volcanism started well before the meteorite struck and were still active when the meteorite hit.

Ron P.

Hmmm, perhaps I am more familiar with his work than I thought then, although I do not have his book.

One person claimed that the Chicxulub Meteorite rang the earth like a bell and caused the Deccan Volcanism.

You'd be amazed how often you hear this even in scientific circles (the "antipode" argument), particularly considering that a guy like Jay Melosh, who knows more about bolide impacts than anyone on Earth, has published multiple studies claiming that it isn't possible (e.g. Melosh 2001, Ivanov and Melosh 2003).

Here's a good example of such a paper: http://www.mantleplumes.org/WebDocuments/Antip_hot.pdf

I do not know what to think of K/T, personally. I don't have the geological expertise to tell who is right and so much depends on very precise radiometric dating of both Chicxulub and the Deccan Traps.

"sluggish anoxic oceans"

When sailing across the Arabian Sea, west of India, one crosses hundreds of miles of algae covered water. At nite, watching the black water and green foaming waves is visually disorienting. Like watching the daylight ocean, seen thru a color photo negative. Black sky, Green wave crests, Black water.

The light intensity is enough to read a book, with a green cast. The daylight reveals a green slime coated hull. Been this way for decades. Fishing gone. No worries, tho, still some fish in the Bay of Bengal.

Still, an increasingly popular destination for pirates, who are providing new opportunities for employment in a growth industry.

Local news; regarding capture of Thai fishing boat off India with pirates in control. Local people wonder how a single fishing boat, on the way to Europe could have a Thai Navy gunship escort and still be pirated. Also speculation that said fishing boat was loaded with coke grown in Burma. And why would a 120' Thai fishing boat be headed for the Med ? Damn pirates won't even give honest smugglers a chance.


"sluggish anoxic oceans"

I think that's where most of the world's oil originated. The conditions described don't actually sound like anything that hasn't happened many times before, on a large scale, over long periods of time. Nothing unusual here folks. Just move along.

I think that's where most of the world's oil originated.

Isn't the irony delicious?

  • Carbon rich atmosphere creates conditions only toxic algae can thrive in.
  • Remains of algae accumulate in Earth's crust, slowly cooked over millennia into coal, oil, and gas.
  • Millions of years later humans dig up and burn coal, oil, and gas, releasing carbon into atmosphere.
  • Carbon rich atmosphere sets stage for conditions, not seen in millions of years, which only toxic algae can thrive in.

And around we go...


Of course, that's not actually what happens. Most mass extinctions are probably caused by 1) giant meteors (e.g. the one that wiped out the dinosaurs), or 2) massive volcanic eruptions (e.g. the end-Permian event that covered Siberia several miles deep in volcanic lava.)

Sluggish anoxic seas aren't anything that Mother Nature can't cope with, because if they hadn't happened before, on a large scale over long periods of time, particularly in the Middle East, we wouldn't have nearly as much oil as we do now.

Massive extinctions are the way Mother Nature "copes."

Well of course all mass extinctions of the past have been caused by natural phenomena. However I would not say that massive volcanism or meteorites from space was Mother Nature's way of coping.

Ron P.

I would not say that, either.

My point was that the fact that life on earth has survived extreme conditions in the past doesn't mean all the current lifeforms will.

Reminds me of this old post from dKos. I love the vision of life in the Carboniferous.

You might notice your skin blisters in five minutes in the harsh tropical sun, or you might taste a burning sensation in your nose and throat. And should you light a match, you might suspect what's going on, watching that flame flash like a silent firecracker and burn the matchstick to your fingertips in a fraction of a second; as though it were a gunpowder fuse.

It's the oxygen content; Here, it's almost twice as high as what your body is used to and the spectre of oxygen narcosis and greatly accelerated chemical degeneration by oxidation is a real threat to our survival. Breath in shallow draughts and we'll be OK.

This is the end of Carboniferous, so named because of large deposits of carbonized plant material date to this era. That's probably not a coincidence: In the presence of 35% oxygen, fallen plants and just about everything else would slowly burn in situ, turning carbon black, long before they rotted away, leaving a vestige we call coal. It's interesting that the initial power for our own industrial revolution would start so long ago, from the loins of an ancient swampy landscape that will soon be undergoing its own radical revolutionary change.

We tend to think that earth was equally hospitable to all forms of life throughout its history, but of course that's not true. Photosynthesis poisoned the earth with oxygen, which was bad news for previously dominant anaerobic bacteria but good news for the rest of us.

In the age of the dinosaurs, the atmosphere was almost 35% oxygen, vs. 21% now. If we really brought a T-rex into modern times, it might collapse, suffocating in our oxygen-poor atmosphere, rather than chasing us around trying to eat us.

Some geologists and oceanographers might point out, counter to Ward's arguments, that there are long-term telluric, or Earth based, changes to climate. Plate tectonics has rearranged the continents and erected land bridges and large-scale dams for ocean current flow, e.g. Isthmus of Panama. These redirected ocean currents have set up the present thermohaline circulation pattern in the global ocean. The long-term configurations are slow to break up once established. The progressive cooling of the Earth during the Cenozoic (since the end of the Cretaceous to present) is a result of the development of the present configuration of the continents. There can be regional and local changes to climate, of course, such as coastal and in restricted ocean basins such as the entire North Atlantic. We are in the middle of an interesting experiment to rapidly recreate the early Carboniferous atmosphere within the present telluric-based Ice House climate. Where this will lead is anybody's guess, and a lot of folks assume that an extension of the Holocene interglacial warm period (developed over the past 10,000 years) is the logical scenario, but maybe not. We do know that the Change in Climate Change is not a good thing for modern human civilizations.

Yes, the model experiments which have attempted to project the effects of our "atmospheric experiment" on the Thermohaline circulation project that a weakening or a shutdown will be the result. Thus, some say the climate of Northern Europe won't warm as much as the rest of the Earth, as the cooling from the shutdown of the THC would offset the overall warming from Greenhouse Gases. Theer's a problem with that, since we know that the models are wrong in their projection of the rate of decline of sea-ice and there is already evidence which points to a weakening of the THC, so the cooling might happen before the warming begins to dominate...

E. Swanson

Notice how it's always easier to argue for the cooling effects of climate change this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere? :)

I could not resist:

A couple more possibilities for the name of the next epoch of the Cenozoic, once we decide we've come to the end of the Holocene:





Link up top: Saudi Arabia to save energy through insulation

Without reducing the rate of energy consumption growth, the kingdom could see oil available for export drop some 3 million barrels per day (bpd) to less than 7 million bpd in 2028, Khalid al-Falih, the chief executive of state oil firm Saudi Aramco said last year.

Well no, that couldn't possibly happen if they really have 265 billion barrels of recoverable reserves. That is about 90 years worth at current use. 2028 is only 17 years away. And why 2028? Is that the product of some careful mathematics?

Does anyone else recognize the implications of this statement by the Aramco CEO?

Ron P.

Sam's most optimistic projection (lowest rate of increase in consumption + lowest rate of decline in production) is that Saudi Arabia would be net exporting about three mbpd in 2028. Saudi net export data for 2007 to 2010 inclusive are falling between his middle case and best case projections:


A few years ago they were on track to be able to pump 14 million bpd. Then it was 12 million bpd. Now it's down to 7 million bpd "for export" for the middle term future. At this rate of decline they won't make it to 2028 with anything left to export.

He is saying that product will be unchanged at about 10 million barrels per day.

2028 is only 17 years away. And why 2028? Is that the product of some careful mathematics?

By al-Husseini's calculations, approximately 116 billion barrels of oil have been produced by Saudi Arabia, meaning only 64 billion barrels remain before reaching this crucial point of inflection. At 12 million b/d production, this inflection point will arrive in 14 years. Thus, while Aramco will likely be able to surpass 12 million b/d in the next decade, soon after reaching that threshold the company will have to expend maximum effort to simply fend off impending output declines. Al-Husseini believes that what will result is a plateau in total output that will last approximately 15 years, followed by decreasing output.


3 mb/d divided by 17 years would be ca. 177 kb/d per year. YOY KSA growth for 2000-2009 averaged 95 kb/d - is this alarmism, failure to do the numbers, factoring in a production decline, access to better numbers than we have, factoring in an increasing rate of consumption...?

EIA gives numbers for both resid and resid used in bunkering; resid for other uses only amounted to 13.77% in 2006, the last year for which EIA provided detailed numbers for KSA. That was only 278.08 kb/d in 2006, seemingly a minor factor in the grand scheme of things. Now, distillate is also used for power generation, not to mention the raw crude they burn in summer peaks out of desperation, and World Bank data for total oil used for power suggests 425 kb/d. There was also that quote a few months ago from a CEO of a contracting company who said it was much higher - ca. 1.2 mb/d.

With every year it becomes more pressing for these guys to expand into something else - preferably solar.

When the Saudis are insulating and weather-stripping, I think that alone says a lot.

Whatever Happens in Egypt, Oil Will Hit $300 by 2020

The oil market breathed a small sigh of relief Friday after Hosni Mubarak resigned as president of Egypt, sending prices to a 10-week low. But Charles T. Maxwell, an analyst who's been toiling in the energy business since 1957, all but shrugged off the toppling of the dictator. He's sticking with a bold prediction: Prices will climb to $300 a barrel in 2020, or about $225 in today's dollars. The world simply won't have enough oil to meet demand, he says. Barron's interviewed Maxwell, 79 years old, by telephone from the Greenwich, Conn., offices of Weeden & Co.

Note that an increase in annual crude oil prices from the $79 that we saw in 2010 to $300 in 2020 would be an annual rate of increase of 13%/year over a 10 year period. From 2000 to 2010, the annual rate of increase was 10%/year, while the 1998 to 2008 annual rate of increase was 20%/year. So, an oil price in the $300 range in 10 years would basically just be a continuation of the current oil price trend.

I would of course expect there to be annual year over year price declines along the way, but if the current pattern (a series of doublings) holds, the next time that we see a year over year price decline, it would bring the average annual oil price down to the $120 range.

Maxwell previously predicted $300 by 2015 (in 2008), so this prediction is actually a more optimistic one.


Sadad Al Husseini has issued a pressrelease denying that he ever has put Saudi Arabian oil reserves or production into question.

"Press Release by Dr. Sadad Al Husseini
February 11, 2011
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

The US Consulate note issued by Wikileaks in regards to Saudi Aramco’s oil reserves, based on a casual 2007 conversation with me, includes many patently inaccurate statements that have been further amplified by errors in the press.

I do not and did not question in any manner the reported reserves of Saudi Aramco which are in fact based on the highest levels of sound and well established engineering and economic principles and practices. Since Saudi Aramco’s proven oil reserves are 260 billion barrels, there is no way I could have said they are in error by 300 billion barrels, a number that exceeds the actual reserves estimate itself.

In fact the US Consulate staff who approached me socially stated that Saudi Aramco’s published proven reserves should be more than tripled to include non-producible oil and oil that has not even been discovered. I defended Saudi Aramco’s professional practices and official reports and confirmed that Saudi Aramco adheres to the highest levels of accepted industry procedures and practices.

In regards to Saudi Aramco’s oil production capacity, the giant multi-billion dollar expansion projects which were funded in recent years are now all a visible reality for the whole industry to see across the Saudi oil fields. This has been an extraordinary accomplishment by Saudi Aramco and its leadership spanning engineering, construction and operations from Khurais in Central Arabia to Shaybah in the Rub al Khali.
All these oil production projects were completed by the end of 2009 and the Kingdom’s total oil production capacity does in fact now stand firmly at 12.5 million barrels per day.

Sadad Al Husseini"

These words, if true, seem interesting, but not by themselves completely relevant, to the question of what KSA's net exports will be in 2028 (or pick some other future date).

Heisenberg, what KSA's exports will be in 2028 is not the subject in question here. What they could be is the point. And according to the Aramco CEO we are talking about oil available for export! And in that light the words of Sadad Al Husseini are totally relevant here. And they completely contradict what the Aramco CEO said.

Ron P.

The assertion by Sadad Al Husseini that KSA's production capacity TODAY is 12.5M bbls/day is not, by itself, enough information to provide an estimate of what KSA's oil EXPORTS COULD be in 2028.

So, I was trying to say that Sadad Al Husseini's statement did NOT answer the mail about what KSA's future net exports could/will/pick your word here be.

The other huge question is whether you we believe Sadad Al Husseini's assertion that KSA has ~ 265 Gbbl of conservatively stated (meaning 'you can bank on them') reserves.

~ 254 Gbbl of reserves at 3.65 Gbbl/yr extraction would last ~72 years.

Of course, that absurdly implies a 10M bbl/day flow rate from now till the end, and, it requires us to believe that KSA has, and will be able to /fully/ recover, ~ 265Gbbl of oil.

And he didn't address the question of future KSA internal consumption. Edit: OK, i the original article up top he said they were aiming for a 40% energy use reduction, but based on what? Meaning, is he figuring in the KSA future population increases?

So, I saw Sadad Al Husseini's statement (the one directly above that I was commenting on, the one stating 12.5M bbls/day...) as arm-waving.

Okay, here is the part of Hussein/s text that is extremely relevant: Since Saudi Aramco’s proven oil reserves are 260 billion barrels,... If that is true then their current R/P ratio is about 87 since they are currently producing about 8.3 mb/d.

So, I was trying to say that Sadad Al Husseini's statement did NOT answer the mail about what KSA's future net exports could/will/pick your word here be.

Hey, you left out the most important part of what you actually said, you left out the "if true". You said:

These words, if true, seem interesting, but not by themselves completely relevant, to the question of what KSA's net exports will be in 2028 (or pick some other future date).

Yes his words answered nothing because no one believes that last press release by Sadat Al Husseini. However his words if true are extremely relevant to what KSA can export in 2028. If you had just left out that "if true" then I would have had absolutely no problem with your statement.

The truth, Heisenberg, is what is in question here. We are concerned with the true proven reserves of Saudi Arabia. What they really have determines what they can really produce. If Husseini speaks the truth then that is indeed very relevant to what they will be able to produce and export 17 years from now.

Let me repeat the very obvious: How much oil a country has in the ground determines how much oil they can produce both now and in the future. If they have 265 billion barrels in the ground they can produce a lot of oil, even 17 years from now. If they have 70 billion barrels in the ground they will be able to produce a whole lot less in 17 years.

Ron P.

I have a hard time getting excited about the exact numbers of who produces what and when. Likewise the exact date of Peak Oil bores me to death.

What matters is Peak Oil per capita which is given less attention.

It happened in 1979 according to this article.

Most people have enough trouble dealing with the reality of peak oil. It’s like being married to someone who says, “I’m not an alcoholic, I just sometimes drink too much.” But perhaps to soften the blow, or maybe just to simplify the numbers, what is generally left out is the fact that it’s not really peak oil that matters, anyway, but peak oil per capita, the date of which was 1979. In that year there were 5.5 barrels of oil available for each person on Earth; by 2009 it had gone down to 4.3. [2]

In terms of daily life, however, it is that per-capita figure that is most critical. Because everything in modern civilization is tied to oil, everything in our world has deteriorated since 1979. It’s possible to use various numerical data to prove that the standard of living has gone down since that year, and to tie that to increased costs that in turn originate in the decrease of oil per capita, but it’s also just something we feel in our bones. If we look back over any ten-year period during the last four decades, we can see and feel the difference.


Each year there are many more drivers and many more vehicles that demand oil while the oil supply whether on a plateau, at peak or even somewhat increasing fails to keep up on a per capita or per vehicle basis.

I don't buy this argument.

1979 may have been the last time the average Joe could buy a V8 muscle car and take it on joy rides on open roads whenever he wanted, but the link between this activity and "standard of living" is dubious at best. In addition all manner of data show beyond any doubt that the standard of living around the world for many people, including in the developed world, has risen since then.

Where I agree is that that was probably the last time when we could have reasonably made alternative decisions to deal with oil depletion, population growth, and money and we didn't. We decided to have a 30 year party and now everybody gets to enjoy the hangover.

In addition all manner of data show beyond any doubt that the standard of living around the world for many people, including in the developed world, has risen in that time.

I would love to see that "all manner of data." At any rate there has been an increase in food riots in the last five years. Perhaps things got better from 1979 until oil peaked in 2005 but things have gotten considerably worse since then. From 2008:

Riots, instability spread as food prices skyrocket

Riots from Haiti to Bangladesh to Egypt over the soaring costs of basic foods have brought the issue to a boiling point and catapulted it to the forefront of the world's attention, the head of an agency focused on global development said Monday.

Just google food riots and you will get a thousand hits like this one: Grain, Soybeans Rise as Food Riots Spur Demand for U.S. Exports

Food-exporting countries are “strongly advised” not to restrict shipments to prevent “more uncertainty and disruption” in world markets, the United Nations said. Governments in Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Yemen have faced protests amid rising costs and high unemployment, and a revolt toppled Tunisia’s leader.

Ron P.

Hi Oilman,

re: "In addition all manner of data show beyond any doubt that the standard of living around the world for many people, including in the developed world, has risen since then."

It seems - (like the analytical framework of ELM) - the issue is who has what (in terms of reliable input) - and where.

From article sighted up top:


"PRE: Oh, first of all. One of the complaints about 'The Population Bomb' was we said 'The battle to feed all of humanity is over.'
That was 1968. There were three and a half billion people. About a half a billion were hungry. Now we've got seven billion people, and about a billion of them are hungry."

More suffering - "hungry" (i.e., starving?) - in total.

I believe that those who fall in the category of "malnourished" are not counted in the "hungry." Malnutrition has long-term negative consequences, esp. for growing children.

See also figure 2.


The first statement that I've found that Industrial Civilization is likely to collapse into a primitive mode came from the mathematical biologist Alfred Lotka.

"The human species, considered in broad perspective, as a unit including its economic and industrial accessories, has swiftly and radically changed its character during the epoch in which our life has been laid.

In this sense we are far removed from equilibrium — a fact that is of the highest practical significance, since it implies that a period of adjustment to equilibrium conditions lies before us, and he would be an extreme optimist who should expect that such adjustment can be reached without labor and travail.

… While such sudden decline might, from a detached standpoint, appear as in accord with the eternal equities, since previous gains would in cold terms balance the losses, yet it would be felt as a superlative catastrophe. Our descendants, if such as this should be their fate, will see poor compensation for their ills and in fact that we did live in abundance and luxury. "(Lotka, 1925)




If they have 265 billion barrels in the ground they can produce a lot of oil, even 17 years from now.

The Aramco CEO said that oil exports drop if KSA doesn't lower its own demand. What he said is not in contradiction with having 265 Gb in the ground. Not maximize the extraction rate is good oilfield management. But in most cases actions speak better than words. To the point is what Ron mentioned several times: searching in the Red sea and planning CO2-EOR in Ghawar doesn't look good. Even these actions don't exclude that they can extract 265 more Gb, however a lot of it, if ever extracted, will be with very low flow rates. The U.S. has about 89 Gb conventional oil that is planned to be recovered with CO2-EOR if only they had the CO2 available and even with enough CO2 it will take more than a century to recover that 89 Gb. For the timing of Peak oil and decline after it total conventional oil reserves says a lot, but not everything. Probably KSA has more than 100 Gb of that difficult and slow to produce oil. Think in quantities of for example 200.000 bpd from Ghawar. Still a lot of oil every day, but almost nothing compared to what it was.

Han - I'll add that how much oil anyone has in the ground allows just a very rough estimate of how much they'll ultimtely produce. But volumes of inplace reserves have no bearing on how fast it will be produced. I can document a long trend of oil fields in S Texas that will eventually recover 70% of their inplace reserves. But to do so will take well over 100 years from their initial discovery.

Back to the basic point some folks still don't get: Peak Oil has nothing to do with the amount of oil reserves in the ground or how much will be produced. It's about the max flow rate at any one time.

Hi Rockman,

re: "Back to the basic point some folks still don't get: Peak Oil has nothing to do with the amount of oil reserves in the ground or how much will be produced. It's about the max flow rate at any one time."

This is also my understanding, with a caveat, namely...

Isn't it the case that the impacts and negative consequences of "peak" do have a lot to do with the flow picture on the downside of "peak"?

I mean, either way, we hit resource limits, if not WRT oil, then some other critical input to "global industrial civilization."

However, the word "transition" might be more meaningful, if there was a larger oil supply in total (nicer-looking down slope), which humans could count on...maybe...perhaps...

Aniya - If I follow what you mean by “the flow picture on the downside of "peak" then I think we’re on the same page. Easiest way to explain how I see the downside is to use some generic source of oil. Doesn’t matter if its tar sands, Deep Water Brazil oil, etc. IMHO it matters little if these sources have a gazillion bbls of oil. It’s very difficult to imagine them producing at rates comparable to the Ghawar fields of the world. In addition to these sources costing more to develop they’ll take longer to generate the same cash flow. And cash flow is the same as flow rate. This is why these resources remain: they are inferior to the resources that have gotten us to where we are today.

And then as far as the U.S. goes there is the additional hurdle of ELM and increased competition from China, etc. And layered on top of these factors is the perpetual depletion of the existing fields. Every field, regardless of its size, obviously depletes. More importantly the delivery of its remaining reserves slows significantly at a certain point. A perfect example is Mexico’s Cantrell Field. Or another way to express this reality: in 36 years working in the oil patch I've never seen one field that didn't take considerably longer to produce the last 50% of its URR than it took to produce the first 50%. It varies but typically it takes 4+ times as long to produce the second half.

Assume at some point Ghawar Field has recovered half of its X billion bbls of URR oil in Y years. Given the drive characteristics of its main reservoir it could easily take 6X or more Y years to recover that other 50%. There are numerous water drive reservoir in Texas that I've studied that produced 2/3 of their URR at water cuts of 70% and higher. Depending on whose numbers you believe Ghawar is somewhere around 30-40% WC. That may well indicate that Ghawar may recovery significantly more oil than it has already produced. The bad news: it will take a great deal longer to do so. I have no doubt that Ghawar won't be depleted anytime soon. In fact I have no doubt it will be producing tens of thousands (maybe even 100's of thousands) BOPD over 100 years from today. And that's the problem.

Rockman, wouldn't most of this time take place while the field was in its "fat tail" period, or perhaps even skinny tail period in the case of the East Texas fields.? Decline rates found around the world, according to even the most optimistic analyst, suggest a much higher decline rate.

Giant oil field decline rates and their influence on world oil production

A recent analysis by Cambridge Energy Research Associates estimated that the weighted decline of production from all existing world oil fields was roughly 4.5% in 2006 (CERA, 2007), which is in line with the 4-6% range estimated by ExxonMobil (2004). However, Andrew Gould, CEO of Schlumberger, stated that an accurate average decline rate is hard to estimate, but an overall figure of 8% is not an unreasonable assumption... The International Energy Agency (IEA) came to the conclusion that the average production-weighted decline rate worldwide was 6.7% for post-peak fields.

Ron P.

Ron – A bit complicated to lay out in a reasonable word count. “Decline rate” itself is a complex concept. DR can only be applied to a specific interval of a field’s (or individual well’s) life. I’ll offer an extreme example: the New Albany shale gas trend in KY. A well might start at 1 million cf/day and decline at 60%+ the first year. The second year…40%...etc. But it may produce commercially for 40 years with the majority of the NG being produced during the last 30 years. But what’s the typical DR during the later part of its life? It’s not uncommon for the DR to be ZERO! Yep…the well may have no decline the last 20+ years of its life. BUT…it’s only flowing 15 mcf/day for those 30 years. Yes…maybe only $10-15 profit per day. So how does one represent the DR of such a well? There are thousands of oil wells in Texas that are producing commercially right now with a ZERO DR. But these are water drive reservoirs that are producing with a 99%+ water cut…many netting only 1 or 2 bopd. About 50+ years ago that well came on at 120 bopd. So what’s the DR over its life? Obviously in excess of 99%. What’s its current DR? That’s easy also…zero.

So a decline rate that doesn’t specify how long and at what point in a field’s life it represents is rather meaningless IMHO. I’m not exactly sure where the fat and skinny tails your reference exist. In my world DR values have almost no meaning. We’ll look at a wells production history plotted on a log-normal distribution. Like you I can just glance at such a plot and instantly have a clear understanding of the dynamics involved. To be honest when someone says Field X will have a Y decline rate I don’t really know what they mean: in 36 years I’ve never seen a field with a constant DR. Even the most easily projected DR’s (pure pressure depletion NG reservoirs) typically have a bimodal DR.

IMHO the only way to paint a clear picture is to write many thousands of words with dozens of plots. Like the work you do that I'm far too lazy to take on. Get after it, buddy.

Bimodal is the origin of a fat-tail distribution. Having a wide variety of rates contributes to a fat-tail. Once the variety approaches randomness it tends toward hyperbolic.

Well, okay. By fat tail, or skinny tail I meant a field would have a decline rate of say six percent then when it got down to the bottom they could get a few barrels per day out for many years.

Anyway I just did the math on the North Sea. In the 8 years and 10 months since they peaked they have had a decline rate of 6.5 percent. Mind you that is the decline rate of existing fields minus any new production from fields that have come on line since that peak. And there have been several, Buzzard comes to mind. So if we could subtract the oil from those new fields, the decline rate would probably be 10 percent of greater.

And of course we see similar decline rates from Cantarell. And if you check Figure 4 in my PDF link above on giant field decline you will see that Prudhoe Bay, once it started to decline, went from 1.5 mb/d to .5 mb/d in 10 years. The Prudhoe Bay production profile had a flat top because of the restriction of the pipeline.

Bottom line, I think we can count on a pretty steep decline rate even though, as you point out, once a field gets down to almost nothing, you can count on a decline rate that is also near nothing.

Ron P.

In certain ways it is straightforward to explain a low-decline-rate fat-tail as you describe, Ron.

The natural diffusion and convection/drift of oil into a region can compensate for a very low extraction rate out of the depleted region. If these two effects were of the same magnitude they would essentially cancel out and you can imagine a state of close to zero-decline as Rockman described. In a sense, it is the same effect as the replenishment of an artesian spring.

I have a comprehensive section on transport in porous material in The Oil ConunDrum. Lots of interesting tidbits in there on a topic that hydrogeologists rarely consider important -- which is to consider huge amounts of disorder in the environment. This tends to explain much of what we observe, in particular some of the slow reserve growth like characteristics of Rockman's favorite long-running USA stripper fields.

Yet of course the nature of the North Sea puts a kibosh on this consideration, as they cannot afford to maintain these rigs pulling off such meager returns. That's why those seem to drop off much more rapidly. No chance for this slow diffusive replenishment to occur before the operators decide to pull the plug and shut them in.

Thanks, Rockman, for the perspective -- particularly concerning the production rate after peak. I have been searching for a way to explain this concept to people for a while, now.

I can document a long trend of oil fields in S Texas that will eventually recover 70% of their inplace reserves. But to do so will take well over 100 years from their initial discovery.

would you go ahead and do that ? i am compiling a data base of high recovery fields.

elwood - The specific trend I refered to was the Navarro sand fields that run south of San Antonio. Pure gravity drainage sandstone reservoirs. About 10 yeas ago I tried to talk folks into using in situe combustion (fireflood) to decrease the recovery time. Never could sell the idea. Here's a reference to get you started (http://www.onepetro.org/mslib/servlet/onepetropreview?id=00000404&soc=SPE). Another tend is the Frio "Greta Sand" fields along the Texas coast. Super strong water drive. As long as you can get rid of the produced water cheaply you can keep these 99% water cut reservoirs producing for evern. Or so it seems. The average field still producing is over 60 yeaars old. Typical recovery todate: 50%. But 80% of the rcovery has been done at 70%+ water cut. it's all about water handling.

You should have talked about the increased production not decreased recovery time and it had probably been sold. Who would say no to higher production if the economics are favorable.

I would not have bought. The same amount would have been produced and the same price should be expected. It would of course be nice to get the money faster but it cost more so I would get less total money.

In economics it's different because if I get the money faster I could invest them on something else. I am currently looking for some good stocks to invest some money in and do not have something else to invest them in but I may be a little bit different than most other people.

karl - Increased rates was the key to my pitch. But in situ combustion (fireflood/air injection) is the most complex EOR method IMHO. Besides being difficult for most to understand it also scares the hell out of many. Even though I could document several wildly successful pilot projects I just couldn't sell the idea. BTW...I've never been a very good salesman. LOL. Too much geek...not enough hustler.

I never had a good experience with fireflood. In one project, we kept losing control of the fire front and blowing up oil wells - they would blow the tubing string 100 feet into the air. In another, we completely screwed up the whole oil field, and at the end of it we had to abandon all the wells except one. We used to truck the oil out of its tank once a month.

In general, steam injection just seemed a whole lot more reliable.

When they invented Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD), it was just a dream. Drill dual horizontal wells, one 10 feet above the other, for maybe a mile or two in all directions off a central pad, inject steam into the upper well of the pairs, suck oil out of the lower well using a positive cavitation pump. It was wonderful. Sometimes we could recover a million barrels of oil out of each SAGD well pair.

Of course, this was in the Alberta oil sands. It may not work the same everywhere else.

Damn it Rocky...there you go! It was folks like you talking about blowing up wells that made other folks afraid to buy my ideas. Thanks for nothing!!!!

Some pilot projects I've seen worked far better than any other EOR techniques. At least when it didn't blow up wells/pipelines/compressors. I was surprised to find out one of the most dangerous elements was high pressure AIR. Get a little lubricant in the mix and the air was an excellent rapid oxidizer (read: explosive). Chatted with one former Getty hand who literally blew his production facilities sky high one night.

But man when it works it is truly magical.

Well, I'm always glad to help out with anecdotes of how badly things can go when you are trying new technology.

We learned a lot doing fireflood projects. We monitored everything with computers, had temperature probes running up and down the wells, injected air, water, steam, surfactants, and soap (the soap freaked out visiting dignitaries who were looking at computer screen they weren't supposed to.)

We make a lot of major breakthroughs in computer monitoring technology in the process, and invented a lot of gee-whiz technology that is still in use in the oil industry today.

The conclusion I came to was that we should have given up on the oil business and gone into computer software instead. It would have been much more profitable. We really could have given Bill Gates a run for his money. Unfortunately upper management was focused on the oil business. As a result a lot of computer companies made a lot of money, and our old oil company is not there any more, or rather has been subducted into a British oil company which shall remain nameless but whose initials are BP.

Yeah, air was a bad thing to have get loose underground. That was one of the main reasons we blew up the oil wells. The soap just couldn't keep it under control.

Dumb question here. Did you (or anyone) ever try injecting O2? Doing so would result in a much smaller volume of (very) hot gas, since the N2 would not be included, thus making the situation less likely to explode...

E. Swanson

Injecting pure oxygen would have been expensive, and would have made the fire burn too hot. You can burn up a cast iron stove in a pure oxygen atmosphere - imagine what it would do to an oil field!

What he said is not in contradiction with having 265 Gb in the ground...

Even these actions don't exclude that they can extract 265 more Gb, however a lot of it, if ever extracted, will be with very low flow rates.

It is frustrating to see, even peak oil people, taking these numbers seriously. The 265 Gb the Saudis are talking about are not oil sands or something that could be extracted only at very slow rates. They are talking about ordinary reservoirs, like Ghawar, Abque or Safaniya, the only kind of reservoirs that they have.

It appears that very few people have any appreciation as to just how much oil this is. It is over twice as much oil as Saudi has produced in the past 65 years. If they actually had that much oil it would be a joke to say that they might not be able produce enough oil for their own consumption and then export 7 million barrels per day only 17 years from now.

Yes, you are correct, their actions with exploring in the Red Sea and looking at C02 injections for Ghawar are definitely a contradiction to having 265 Gb of reserves. But so is saying that they might have trouble exporting 7 Gb a day only 17 years from now.

Go here: OPEC Share of World Oil Reserves The data presented here is the big lie. What really frustrates me is the fact that the world, even many peak oil people, really believe the data presented here. I can only throw up my hands in disbelief when peak oil people hem and haw with this data. They say things like "If this is true then..." or "There is no contradiction between this data and blah, blah, blah...."

I give up!

Ron P.

Yes good point

As to OPEC reserves share, even if the total numbers are totally blown up, in terms of percentage where would you put them ?
(even if with the current crash coming doesn't matter much somehow)

As to OPEC reserves share,... in terms of percentage where would you put them?

I would put them at about 50% of world reserves. And I would bet money that that figure is not off by more than 5%.

One more point. The more oil a country has to produce, the more they do produce. A country can hold back a few barrels now and then, say 10 or maybe occasionally as much as 20 percent, but basically they produce what they can produce. M. King Hubbard based his whole theory on that concept.

Ron P.

Hi Ron, BP seems to think OPEC has 77.2% of the world's reserves (BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2010, p6). Excluding Canadian oil sands. OPEC's share then reduces to 69.7%.

Maybe you're saying that OPEC overstates its reserves by about 50%?


John, BP is stating what OPEC tells them. All reserve data in Saudi and all other Middle East nations are a closely guarded state secret.

That is what frustrates me so. People look at what BP publishes and just say; "Well, BP says so therefore it must be true." What BP publishes, what World Oil publishes and what Oil & Gas Journal publishes is what OPEC publishes or within a small percentage thereof because that is where they get their data. Does anyone on earth really believe BP has done seismic exploration of Saudi or Iran or...?

No, I am not saying that OPEC overstates their reserves by 50%. I am saying that OPEC reserves are very close to non-OPEC reserves or about 300 billion barrels each. (That is without counting the Canadian Tar Sands or the Orinoco Bitumen.) We have managed to postpone the decline from peak primarily because of the advent of horizontal MRC wells. That is Super Straws that suck the oil right off the crest of the reservoir and keep the production high right up until a few years, or a few million barrels from the end. The final profile of world oil production will resemble a shark fin. The decline will be much faster than the ascent.

Ron P.

The 265 Gb the Saudis are talking about are not oil sands or something that could be extracted only at very slow rates.

Well, do you expect a Aramco CEO to say: "we have 265 Gb, but most of it needs massive tertiary EOR and takes more than a century to recover." That was my point, therefore I mentioned the 89 Gb conventional oil in the U.S. waiting to be recovered with CO2-EOR. And yes, conventional oil is in 'ordinary reservoirs'. If the U.S. would be an oil exporter they would say to the world: we have more than 100 Gb conventional oil in the ground, about half of what KSA has. Only the Peak oil insiders would be able to find out what that number means. Of course KSA mentions every possible extractable barrel, afraid as they are for EV's. By the way, from what I understand from the news on CNN yesterday: the U.S. seems planning to build EV charging stations in many states.

What really frustrates me is the fact that the world, even many peak oil people, really believe the data presented here.

The number 265 Gb (the Saudi Aramco side now mentions 260.1 Gb) is less important to me than the fact that KSA had hard times to keep production flat. That puts the 265 Gb in perspective. One can get angry that for decades they come up with that same number and it is a dangerous tactic, but they have that groundless fear that an energy transition could be rapidly executed.

I give up!

That's something different than ROCKMAN adding a comment on my reaction, on february 12.

H - I suppose "relevent" is in the eye of the beholder. I've evaluate the reserves of dozens of companies over the last 35 years. In my analysis if verifyable support data isn't presented with the reserve numbers then they are completely irrelevant IMHO. It doesn't matter if it's a small independent company in Houston or th KSA. If the data isn't available then there is no reserve value.

Many folks on TOD have tried to work a number out. I applaud all those efforts...there is some value to their difficult chore. But my position doesn't change: no hard varifiable data...no useful reserve numbers.

I think that a gaffe in Washington, D.C. is defined as an instance where a politician accidentally tells the truth. In any case, I think that we can safely assume that Al Husseini had no expectation that his discussion with an American official would ever be made public.

I wonder what Al Husseini would have pubicly said if he and his family were living outside of Saudi Arabia. An American geologist, of Chinese descent, was recently imprisoned in China for gathering and releasing historical data about Chinese oil production.

My "Iron Triangle" thesis:


If one resides in the oil industry leg of the Iron Triangle, and if one has concluded that Peak Oil is upon us, or extremely close, does one say, "We cannot increase our production," and thereby encourage massive conservation and alternative energy efforts, or does one say "We choose not to increase production and/or we are temporarily unable to increase production for the following reasons (fill in the blank)?"

The latter course of action would tend to discourage emergency conservation efforts and alternative energy efforts, and it would encourage energy consumers to maintain their current lifestyles, perhaps by going further into debt to pay their energy bills, and it would in general have the net effect of maximizing the value of remaining reserves.

News reports from Europe are also adding worry to the total export picture:

Denmark's oil production dropped %16 last year.


Total recently reported that their profits had jumped 23% while oil throughput dropped 7% year over year.


Other European refineries have reported similar drops in refinery throughput.

As North Sea production continues to drop, the more crude oil they will attempt to obtain from OPEC to make up the shortfall.

The EIA has the following rate of change numbers for Denmark (total petroleum liquids) for 2004 to 2009:

Production: -8.0%/year
Consumption: -2.2%/year
Net Exports: -15.5%/year

Even though Denmark has been cutting their petroleum consumption it was not nearly enough to keep their net export decline rate from accelerating. Given a production decline, if an oil exporting country does not cut their consumption at the same rate as, or at a rate faster than, the rate of decline in production, then the net export decline rate will exceed the production decline rate, and the net export decline rate will accelerate with time.

This has the troubling appearance of an exponential decay curve.

There appears to be a pretty consistent "Half-life" characteristic to net export declines, to-wit, generally half of post-peak CNE (Cumulative Net Exports) are shipped one-third of the way into the post-peak net export decline period.

In the "What If" department, if we extrapolate Chindia's recent rate of increase in net oil exports, as a percentage of global net exports (11% in 2005 to 17% in 2009), they would be consuming 100% of global net exports around 2025. Continuing with the "What If," this suggests that post-2005 Available CNE (global net exports not consumed by Chinda) would be on the order of 150 Gb, with about 57 Gb (38%) of post-2005 Available CNE having been consumed in 2006 to 2009 inclusive.

If Chinindia keeps getting a higher percentage of net exports each years, wouldn't this mean less oil flowing into other countries, and therefore slower economies with proportionally choked demand? If you look at the oil imports of most other countries, during the recession, they mostly all showed drops in oil imports, along with increasing debt levels.

The U.S. in particular has had less and less oil coming into it since 2005-2006, after the wild gyrations in 2008, there has been a steady increase in money leaving the country to pay for petroleum. In fact it appears that the trade deficit will become entirely composed of petroleum in the near future.



Clearly we are heading for a breaking point, Either the U.S. is paying all it can afford for the petroleum it is getting, or some kind of price controls have been artificially imposed resulting in decreased supplies coming into America.

Bernanke can only print money for this situation for so long, in order to fund a deficit of only petroleum products. It won't take OPEC countries long to start demanding something more substantial than printed paper dollars for their black gold.

We haven't hit peak imports yet

US trade deficit widened by 33% in 2010

Imports from China hit record levels, totalling $364.9bn for the year.


Imports from China, simply represent oil which has been converted into finished goods and then sent here. As our own oil production has dropped, we have been forced to either import the crude oil itself, or products made from it.

For a while, we were able to borrow the money to pay for it by "cashing in the equity of our houses." The Chinese did us the favor of recycling their earnings by purchasing CDO's which were supposedly AAA rated and bringing the money back to the USA to further drive up the price of houses and the cycle was repeated over and over again, until the shadow banking system and the housing market both crashed.

The Chinese learned a big lesson from this fiasco which was really just a huge collapsed Ponzi scheme. They are keeping their earnings within China, building their own infrastructure, and slowly diverting the world's available oil exports to their own industrial base.

We have switched from a cycle which was growing the strength of America, to one which guarantees that China will eventually consume the bulk of world oil exports.

I think that the WTI-Brent spread is an indication of just how weak the U.S. has become. The amount of money China is willing to spend on oil is more important to the world now, than what we are willing to give.

I believe that in the near future, we will be exporting our own crude oil to pay for our debts.

A couple of items from 2005 (note the state secrets observation):

Steve Andrews: Sadad al Husseini sees peak in 2015

"Sadad al Husseini, recently retired head of exploration and production for Saudi Aramco, offered very insightful comments during an interview with Peter Maass in Saudi Arabia. Maass reported Husseini’s perspective in his August 21, 2005 piece “The Breaking Point” (posted under “Articles” on this site) in the New York Times Magazine . In a follow-up email exchange with ASPO-USA’s Steve Andrews, Husseini said he would be unable to attend and present at the November 10-11 Denver peak oil conference, but he did offer pointed commentary about peak oil production. While his comments are more optimistic than those of Colin Campbell, Matt Simmons, Chris Skrebowski and a host of others, they certainly strike a vastly more realistic chord than the typical fare from Saudi Aramco press releases and presentations."

Sadad al Husseini: Therefore my answer is: under the current circumstances and outlook, oil is likely to peak at a 95 mmbd plateau by 2015 and can then be sustained well beyond 2020 at increasing real oil prices.

Peter Maass: The Breaking Point

We spoke for several hours. The message he (Sadad al Husseini) delivered was clear: the world is heading for an oil shortage. His warning is quite different from the calming speeches that Naimi and other Saudis, along with senior American officials, deliver on an almost daily basis. . . Husseini acknowledged that new fields are coming online, like offshore West Africa and the Caspian basin, but he said that their output isn't big enough to offset this growing need.

''You look at the globe and ask, 'Where are the big increments?' and there's hardly anything but Saudi Arabia,'' he said. ''The kingdom and Ghawar field are not the problem. That misses the whole point. The problem is that you go from 79 million barrels a day in 2002 to 82.5 in 2003 to 84.5 in 2004. You're leaping by two million to three million a year, and if you have to cover declines, that's another four to five million.'' In other words, if demand and depletion patterns continue, every year the world will need to open enough fields or wells to pump an additional six to eight million barrels a day -- at least two million new barrels a day to meet the rising demand and at least four million to compensate for the declining production of existing fields.

''That's like a whole new Saudi Arabia every couple of years,'' Husseini said. ''It can't be done indefinitely. It's not sustainable.''
Husseini speaks patiently, like a teacher who hopes someone is listening. He is in the enviable position of knowing what he talks about while having the freedom to speak openly about it. He did not disclose precise information about Saudi reserves or production -- which remain the equivalent of state secrets --but he felt free to speak in generalities that were forthright, even when they conflicted with the reassuring statements of current Aramco officials. When I asked why he was willing to be so frank, he said it was because he sees a shortage ahead and wants to do what he can to avert it. I assumed that he would not be particularly distressed if his rivals in the Saudi oil establishment were embarrassed by his frankness.

In fact the US Consulate staff who approached me socially stated that Saudi Aramco’s published proven reserves should be more than tripled to include non-producible oil and oil that has not even been discovered. I defended Saudi Aramco’s professional practices and official reports and confirmed that Saudi Aramco adheres to the highest levels of accepted industry procedures and practices.

So, in other words, US Consulate staff are encouraging the Saudis to lie about their oil reserves, and the Saudis are too ethical to comply with US requests. That tells you something about the ethical standards of the US government, does it not?

It also seems to be the standard that the USGS adheres to. Just take the oil you know you can't produce, add it to the oil you don't know exists, and you have enough oil that future supplies are not going to be a problem. Great planning technique.

It's just prompting to probe for the response. You propose some over or under estimate, usually one that insults the individual subtly, and hope they will 'put you right'.

Frankly the US consul was curiously specific for getting the wrong end of the stick in a game of chinese whispers. Much less a casual conversation (if you read the cable) than someone who was taking notes.

I do wonder if Mr Husseini is playing fast and loose with which conversation he's denying/reporting to take the heat off. It would be easy to say "this cable is based on a casual, social, chat at a sanctioned event"; and not report on the sit down meeting you had a few days afterwards. Particularly if people might be annoyed that you were briefing the US consul against the official line.

Remember, KSA regards oil figures as 'state secrets'...

I've been waiting for someone somewhere to point out what al Husseini actually said, iirc, 3.5 years ago: that world reserves are inflated 300 billion barrels.

EDIT: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3235

'In addition, al-Husseini said, “The major oil-producing nations are inflating their oil reserves by as much as 300 billion barrels. Global oil and gas capacity is constrained by mature reservoirs and is facing a 15-year production plateau.”'

TOP LINK: http://www.sctimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071113/OPINION/11113...

Much ado about nothing.

FOR ALL: "The U.S. oil industry should pay about $200 million a year to support stricter and more efficient oversight of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico"

Back in the BP spill days we joked about the best engineers in the oil patch working for Rockman Inc that could provide this service. The $200 million fed budget should cover it. I've estimated it would cost $82 million for Rockman to do the job (I suspect a tad better than feds). That, of course, includes an $8 million profit margin into the Rockman's pccket). So given the govt's inefficiency in such matters the $200 million/year budget will hopefully get the job done.

Where do I send my resume? :)

Aniya - I have no doubt you're very trainable. But, alas, I suspect you don't have nearly enough gray hair. BTW: my engineers would get $1,200 per day for working 14 days out of the month. So a bit over $200,000/yr and 26 weeks vacation (unpaid, of course). My guys would be very good. And very good is very expensive.

Hi Rockman,


Well, I was thinking along the lines of PR/cook/bottle-washer...

Aniya - Well, a roustabout (read: slave) can make $25,000/year and get those 26 weeks off (allows that second job). Good cooks can make twice that much. The real trick is if one can handle 7 (sometime 14) straight days on the job doing 12 hour shifts. Worked well for me and my wife: she was always thrilled when I came home. Sorta like a first date when you knew you were going to hit a home run. And then towards to end of my days off she was always very helpful (read: more than ready) with my packing. LOL.

U.S. Demand Pushes Corn Price Over $7.00

The WASDE report released Wednesday shows corn carryover estimates dropping below 700 bil. bu. to 675 bil. bu., which is the lowest estimate in 16 years. Corn, which is already at high price levels, isn’t showing signs of lessening demand as prices continue to inch higher. The March 2011 contract on the Chicago Board of Trade topped the psychologically-important mark of $7.00/bu. on Friday to close at 7.06 1/2 /bu.

"Nobody is talking about China anymore. We’re not even talking about them buying or stopping them from buying, we pretty much believe what they’ve said that they’re not going to buy anymore. This is a domestic thing between livestock and ethanol and who will blink first," Gulke says. Blinking may become a challenge for both markets. For now, Gulke says, livestock feeders appear to have good profits locked in. This may cause some cut backs in the rations for cattle feeders and dairy producers, but not likely a widespread liquidation of herd size.

On the ethanol front, a speaker at Gulke’s annual meeting for his members this week said the ethanol industry is much more astute than they were in the most recent corn price rise in 2008. There is a chance, he believes, that the ethanol plants may shut down in late summer to run up the price of ethanol and make it more profitable.

This may cause some cut backs in the rations for cattle feeders and dairy producers, but not likely a widespread liquidation of herd size.

I talked to a cattleman friend this week; he said he was going to have to reduce his heard size a bit or get out of the cattle finishing business due to grain costs. We're trying to work a deal to grass finish some of his cows on my place for the local market. Hay prices have gone down and 10-10-10 has gone way up, so this will help both of us quite a bit if we can work it out.

This isn't helping the corn market either...

From BBC: Cold snap hits Mexico maize crop

A spell of unusually cold weather in northern Mexico has severely damaged the maize crop in the state of Sinaloa. Officials estimate the losses could amount to four million tonnes of corn - 16% of Mexico's annual harvest.

and Aljazeera: Fearing a food crisis (video)


As of Oct 1 2010, heifers held for replacement in the US herd were the smallest since 1990. This was projected to give the smallest US herd on Jan 1, 2011 since 1950. Comparing 2010 vs 2011, there is to be 419,000 fewer stocker calves.

I imagine it is actually lower with these new feed costs.

Edit- Robert Mitchum not withstanding, that's a heck of a change, with our cattle herd retreating to 1950 stocking while human pop skyrocketed.

Feeder prices 2009-2010:


Buy low, sell high.

Yea, stockers going high. But the only price that matters is from your local saleyard, at auction.



I'm not so sure about all of this. We're pricing alot of demand out of the market. Hear alot of talk, that soon prices will have to fall back, as they always do. The difference this time is the rock bottom inventories. It's really galling though when retail is soaring up to $5-$15/lb, depending on cut, and you get maybe .90 to 1.00/lb max. for slaughter cows. And many won't fetch $.60-.65. Do the math-figure 65% dressout on a 1000lb cow, say an average retail of $6/lb, That's close to $4000, 75% for butcher, transport and grocer.

And watch grass fed prices if you go with this. Buyers at the yard are pretty savvy, they discount grass finished cows in a heartbeat. It's easy to spot, and they claim a lower dressout %. You'll be lucky to see 60 cents. If you can set up sales outside of the sale yard, you'll be better off. For the record, I don't belittle grass fed at all, I practice and promote it.

Here's some grass-finished steers. They certainly would lose money for us if we took them to the sale barn, i.e. there's no more weight to put on them for a profit for the sale barn buyer. They are of the right age to be tender beef. A "grass-finished" cow
implies a much older animal that is being culled for a reason and
probably should be put into ground beef.


These guys are more of the type of operation we're working towards. Cows/steers are always on pasture and fed grain/vitamin/mineral supplements the last few months. We used to finish our own on grass, and I agree, except for the best cuts, they're usually only suitable for ground beef. With the right genetics, some producers are producing a good product on all grass, but it generally isn't like the cornfed USDA Prime you get at the upscale butcher.

Yea, I have these arguments all the time. I don't agree grass finished, right up to slaughter, means burger. Main thing is pasture quality. Still, I can't imagine that much green in November, esp 08.

This is November 2008. We plant forage oats and/or rye in Sept
and finish out our beef from Oct to late Jan-early Feb


edit: the date on the photo was cut off. here's the
link to photobucket: [IMG]http://i15.photobucket.com/albums/a400/beavercreekfarms/DCP_4046-1.jpg[/IMG]

Nice. Murray Grey, huh? We run Angus-Charolais cross, nothing pedigree, Charolais bulls.

I like your grazing practice, your ability to get such pasture. But need moisture and heat to make it go, most years here November is under snow/ice. I imagine you've read the work of Jim Gerrish, originally of U of MO. He's big on fall seeded pasture.

There's a growing 'buy local' market here so we hope to avoid the sale yard altogether. Good demand for grass finished (and mostly grass finished), hormone free beef. Buyers at the yard are looking for higher fat ratios and good marbling while many customers want leaner beef. BTW, my family produced commercial feeders for 35 years, so I have some good contacts. One friend is raising an Angus/Braunvieh cross that's very popular with the chefs around here. We also have a small USDA packer nearby who stays busy most of the year with the local, direct-to-consumer market.

Most of these producers are finishing on grass and a grain mix, and all seem to be selling all that they produce. Good to see. Folks seem to like the idea of "from pasture to table" accountability. These cows are happy 'til the end :-)

My goal is to produce only 8-10 cows/year for market, get my tax deductions, produce for our family/friends, and keep soil nutrients on the land. I expect a fairly severe reset of our food and transportation systems soon, so I want to get established now. Better late than never.

Good luck to you.

re: Ontario Halts Approval of Offshore Wind Energy Projects Pending Review

Ontario continues to be the graveyard of government energy plans.

A little background. Ontario originally (i.e. 100 years ago) had some of the cheapest electricity in the world, complements of the early Niagara Falls hydroelectric development. However, Ontario has 1/3 of Canada's population and only 1/4 of the hydro potential of Quebec, so, they ran out of cheap hydro to develop. However while times were good the Ontario government nationalized all the electric utilities and created Ontario Hydro.

Then, since they were out of hydro, Ontario Hydro hit on "too cheap to meter" nuclear, and build a large number of nuclear power plants. Unfortunately, the CANDU design they picked had some fatal reliability problems, and the reactors started falling apart in about 20 years instead of the planned 40. This kind of wrecked the economics of them. The taxpayers took a bath because they were all government-owned.

Then, as a stopgap measure, they built some huge coal-burning power plants (their Nanticoke plant is the biggest coal-burner in North America). There were a few flaws in this, 1) Ontario doesn't have any coal, 2) the available US coal is high-sulfur, and 3) they didn't put in any particular pollution controls. This resulted in some severely bad air quality in Southern Ontario.

Then, since it was expensive as well as polluting, they tried deregulation, which had about the same effect it had it did in California, so it was back to reregulation and government-supplied power for them.

Then, since the air was getting really thick and smoky, they decided the solution was nuclear (again) so they went out for bids on new nuclear power plants. Unfortunately, the bids came in 2-3 times as high as expected, so that plan went out the window. A complicating factor was that they wanted to buy AECL CANDU reactors (again). However, the federal government which didn't want to be in the reactor business any more, said it was going to sell AECL to the private sector and the Ontario government could go to h*ll (the later was an implied message).

Then, the plan became wind power - notably offshore wind power in the Great Lakes. However, their planning is working with the usual efficiency, with the result being the headline at the top of this message.

Despite all that, the Ontario government wants everyone to know the McGuinty Government is Committed to Renewable Energy While Protecting the Environment.

Yes, they should be committed. Preferably to a mental institution. Other Canadians can chip in their comments as desired, I've had my say.

I'm tempted to forward this post to my friends in Eastern Quebec, but any comments they may have would be flagged as inappropriate ;-)

Rocky, your post is a bit of rant. And not so fact based.

Air quality in Southern Ontario isn't actually that bad. And much of the pollution we experience isn't produced locally but rathers drifts up from the US.

The only thing that's screwing the Ontario government re energy is that they figured out what many oil drummers also know: that renewables make a lot less sense than conservation. Thus they are going to increase power prices massively over the next 20 years. Almost 8% for each of the next 5 years and then 3.5% for the next 15. We also now have time-of-day pricing which should make things more efficient still.

I think they are doing a decent job.

Well, air quality in Southern Ontario is not as bad as adjacent areas of the Midwestern US, and more than half of their air pollution does originate in the industrial areas of the Midwestern US. After all, everybody in the area is burning high-sulfur American coal, including Ontario.

Comparing their air to the US Midwest is setting the bar awfully low. It's very bad compared to most areas of Canada.

Consumerhealth.org - Smog in the City and in the Countryside

One of the worst smog areas in Canada is southwestern Ontario along the north shore of Lake Erie and the Lake Huron shoreline up to and including the Bruce Peninsula. Studies suggest the high smog in this area is caused mainly by pollutants carried by south-westerly winds from the Ohio Valley, Illinois and Michigan.

Half of Ontario's smog originates from American coal-fired generating stations and industry in the United States , but the rest comes from automobiles, and from Ontario's five coal-fired stations near Hamilton (2), Sarnia, Thunder Bay and Atikokan. In 1997 Ontario Hydro had to shut down seven of its 19 nuclear reactors for refitting, and to make up for the loss of power, the utility increased the output of its coal-fired stations. Since then, smog emissions from these plants have increased about 80%. Coal-fired plants create ozone, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide and toxic particulates. The smog from these plants is also laced with mercury


There is nothing good to say about Ontario's management of electricity. But as of now, coal generates a few percent of Ontario's electricity:
Annual report said something around 9%, Here is the report from OPG, page 14. They could cut thermal, starting from coal because of decrease in manufacturing.


Current production is here:
http://www.opg.com/power/ (9886) and http://www.opg.com/power/thermal/ (608 MW). On top of that there is a fair chunk coming from Bruce's nuclear reactors. Roughly 4500 MW

Sorry, RMG, under the "no nit too small to pick" banner....

Ontario Hydro had at least three coal-fired generating stations in service prior to embarking on its nuclear building spree, e.g., R.L Hearn and J. Clark Keith (1951) and Lakeview (1962).


Hi Rocky.
You are probably aware that Toronto has elected a Mayor who is both libertarian and perhaps not the sharpest tack in the box, that we are facing a Provincial election this year with the governing Liberal's support at a low level, and that support for the federal Tories is up across the country, including in the Toronto area, which was previously a Liberal stronghold. McGuinty dropped support of offshore wind power because he couldn't fight it and the election at the same time. It hasn't affected onshore wind, and could come back depending on the studies. It was killed now so the public has time to forget before the election... a flip-flop is better than supporting something the public is afraid of.

To fill in for the rest of you, the reasoning behind the wind opposition is that a small number of people (and to be fair, a fairly small number of people live in the rural areas affected) have complained about health effects from the noise and vibration of onshore wind turbines, and feel that the allowable distance from residences is too low. It should also be noted that the offshore wind opposition is centred in the Toronto Beach/ Scarborough Bluffs area- rich people who don't want their view messed with.

The wind power debacle is only the most noticeable aspect of magical cornucopian thinking out here: we have the Mayor trying his darnedest to kill the ambitious Transit City light rail plan, championing a diesel-powered high speed rail link (as opposed to electric) to the airport, killing the local car registration surtax, shutting down some of the less used bus routes...I could go on.

Toronto has incredibly bad traffic congestion, and even delaying the transit initiatives (as he has already done- digging has stopped on routes that were already started) will force more people into cars and make the congestion worse. And it's all to appease voters who think that they should not have to pay any taxes at all (Toronto's taxes are lower than most neighboring municipalities already.) A Conservative Provincial government or a Federal Tory majority would make things even scarier. Both would be a nightmare scenario.

What can I say? All Toronto's problems could be solved by exchanging our current voter base with a smarter one. Probably the same for the country at large.


Yeah, I'm aware of all that. Fortunately, I don't live in Toronto, so it's not my problem. If I did, I would be upset.

But I am where I am, so the big problem at the moment is that the TransCanada Highway was shut down again due to avalanches. Things are going BIG out there.

People in Toronto have different problems. Fortunately most of their problems don't involve flying dead bodies out by helicopter.

We were talking to a friend who had one of her party killed at a backcountry lodge a couple of weeks ago, and she talked for an hour about it. Post-traumatic stress syndrome, you know.

I just hope my wife doesn't get buried in an avalanche again this winter. It really upsets her. She's flying into four different backcountry lodges this winter, and things are really twitchy out there, so I've got my fingers crossed. I need a couple of joint replacements, so I'm only along on one of them, and I'm only going to be skiing the safe terrain, but I worry about her.

She used to be an ER nurse, so she's used to doing CPR on dead people, and she had to do CPR on a dead kayaker this summer who tried to run a waterfall and missed, but doing CPR on a dead friend could be a whole different experience. Doing CPR on dead strangers is stressful enough.

What, "dissolve the people and elect a new one"? Hehe.

Why one oil company dumped natural gas

Back in November, Fortune said that some of the independent drillers probably wouldn't be able to keep investing in natural gas as long as it remained cheap, around $4 per million British Thermal Units.

That's because while gas may be cheap, drilling is expensive. To drill, energy companies have to sign leases that require that they keep producing, even when there's a gas glut. So companies have to supply and supply regardless of demand.

The latest independent to fall prey to this glitch in natural gas economics is Chesapeake Energy...

S – “To drill, energy companies have to sign leases that require that they keep producing, even when there's a gas glut. So companies have to supply and supply regardless of demand.” Actually that statement is grossly misreprsentative of the reality. All leases typically require continued production to maintain the lease (HBP: held by production). But in the great majority of leases HBP requires only “commercial” production. Commercial means the operators makes a minimum of $1 per month profit. You can shut the well in for 29 days and open it up for just a few hours to make that $1. Some leases do require a minimum royalty payment per month but that’s seldom more than a few hundred dollars.

No operator is required to sell much of his NG at a low price. OTOH it’s rare to see an operator not produce as much NG as he can especially when prices are low. It certainly would make sense to hold back until prices increase but very few operators can afford to do so. Cash flow is almost always more important than profit margin. Waiting for higher prices won’t do a company any good if they don’t cover their debt load and are liquidated by a bankruptcy judge.

Yes, that's right. Despite what the article says, there is generally no requirement to produce a well when it is not economic. OTOH, companies usually need the cash flow, so they have no incentive to stop producing as long as the revenues cover the operating costs.

However, recovering the drilling costs that have already been spent is another issue entirely.

Leak Discovered in Benzie County Natural Gas Well

Tests are currently under way to find out if there will be any environmental impact to a natural gas well that started leaking this week in Benzie County [Michigan]. The drilling company called Presidium Antrim West discovered the leak Tuesday at one of its new wells in Joyfield Township.

The state says workers noticed the leak when fluid started bubbling at the surface of the well.

...The Department of Natural Resources and Environment says a crack in the well casing is what caused the leak.

S – Was this link in response to the discussion above about “exploding abandoned wells”? This well doesn’t qualify of course. This may be cold comfort but NG wells developing leaks is not uncommon. Every day of the year I have gaugers who check my NG wells for leaks in addition to normal ops. Everything leaks: oil from your car’s engine, water from your shower head, etc. Not trying to minimize the danger but there is seldom any serious danger. In the last month I have two well heads with minor leaks repaired.

OTOH the link you show could be a serious matter. I’ve described before that there is virtually no chance that a frac can break the rocks open to the surface and cause NG to leak out. OTOH it can crack the casing in the hole during a frac job and that can allow a conduit for NG to shallow aquifers or even the surface. Besides NG such casing splits can release those nasty frac fluids into the water supply. If an operator is good at his job he knows when this happens and prevents the situation from getting serious. OTOH not all operators are good at their job.

It's Mostly About Food

Unless you are Glenn Beck you probably see the demonstrations in Egypt as a revolt against tyranny. I suggested here a few days ago that it might be more about unemployment and the skyrocketing price of food. I’m not alone in thinking that.

If we take Roubini’s advice and look at underlying motives or para-economics we can see deeper issues. Is it too speculative to see the 25 January revolt as the first food revolution as fuelled by peak oil? Oil prices affect food prices when you have a petro-chemical food economy.

In other words, whether they knew it or not, the revolt in Egypt was the first peak oil revolt. And for the very same reasons Mexico is next.

Mexico Will Follow Egypt Into Collapse

Mexico’s government gets about 40% of its revenues from oil. As noted in BP data complied at Energy Export Database Mexico’s domestic consumption (black line) will force its oil revenues (green area) to drop to zero within a few years. Egypt’s oil revenues dropped to about zero in 2010.

Ron P.

It was the first peak oil and climate change revolt. Weather extremes have done at least as much to raise the global price of food.

Rare cold weather could well cause more food riots in Mexico.

In other words, whether they knew it or not, the revolt in Egypt was the first peak oil revolt. And for the very same reasons Mexico is next.

These country's are the microcosm of a macrocosmic worldwide situation in which population increases from oil wealth and cheap oil (cheap energy) are now coming back to roost with a diminishing ability to purchase basic day to day needs such as food. When the population reaches the point of feeling they have nothing to lose by revolting, there will be unrest and revolutions. And what the populace views as injustice, may in part be just that, but more importantly its simply a shrinking pie in which fewer people are able to benefit as they did before. Unfortunately, the results of their revolts will be limited and short lived.

We are watching the dynamic of peak oil in action, observers of the coming end of the age of oil per se'. It will still be used on a limited scale in the aftermath of the collapse, but at some point the massive trucks being loaded with tar sand material and the offshore multi billion dollar oil rigs will go silent, and all one will hear in their presence is the sound of the wind.

nd what the populace views as injustice, may in part be just that, but more importantly its simply a shrinking pie in which fewer people are [un]able to benefit as they did before

It's more a distributional than a production issue. The rich consume several times as much grain per capita (in the form of meat, but also a shocking amount of waste), and the poor struggle to afford bread. If the revolutions manage to spread the wealth more evenly (a pretty tall order unlikely to be met), then at least for a while there would be enough to go around.

It's more a distributional than a production issue.

Agreed, and altthough not specified, I was referring to injustice as the corruption in Egypt and other countries. Part of why the uprising occurred in Egypt was because some guy's house burned down because he didn't have the money to pay off the head of the local fire department to give the order to have it put out. Also, people being tortured to keep them in fear so the corrupt system can remain in place. Hopefully the corruption will be replaced by a more equitable system.

That's damn near to poetry, Earl. Very eloquent.

It appears that the world's coming shortages are well beyond govt. control. Any govt. And when govts. are all gone, what good will revolutions do ?

Maybe poetry will ease the suffering.

I hope you all succeed in finding happiness. I know that The Drum provides me with proof the world is not totally composed of liars and fools. Thanks for being here.


That's damn near to poetry, Earl. Very eloquent.

Thanks Dave - good to have you on board.

Hi Dave,

Your sentiments about TOD reflect mine. Thank you for saying it out loud.

Hi Peak Earl,

Agreed in the big picture - (and that your expression is poetic).

At the same time, there is a possibility - (note: not likelihood, but possibility) - that the populace becomes aware of the "finite earth" reality WRT peak.

And begins to institute different ways of organizing for basic needs that results in benefit - a better way, by definition, one that ameliorates the suffering of the oil down-slope.

Here's an example: revise agricultural policies.


"Even in the United States, the smallest farms, those 27 acres or less, have more than ten times greater dollar output per acre than larger farms (US Agricultural Census, 1992). Conversion to small organic farms therefore, would lead to sizeable increases of food production worldwide. Only organic methods can help small family farms survive, increase farm productivity, repair decades of environmental damage and knit communities into smaller, more sustainable distribution networks — all leading to improved food security around the world."

As I have been watching various videos of the Egyptian protesters, I have notices that the people in the protests, by and large, seem to be well-fed.

In fact, a surprising number of the people in the videos look like they were wearing XL shirts.

In numerous scenes, if the complexions and backgrounds were different, I might have mistaken the crowds as U.S. citizens, due to the robustness of many on screen.

I have notice this on many different broadcasts.

By and large, the protester's clothes seemed pretty nice as well.

Were the protesters (at least those that made it on U.S. news videos) more from the 'middle class' and not the Egyptian poor?

Now, I understand that if food prices have recently significantly increased, it would take some time for people to become skinny, then emaciated. And that prospect is probably exactly what the folks fear and what helped spark protests.

Makes me wonder what folks will do when the food really gets scarce and expensive, if this is just the beginning.

Starving people do not riot. They do not have the strength.

This was a middle class revolution. The tipping point was when the unions started backing the protesters and started widespread walkouts and strikes. The generals then knew the economy would collapse in short order if they didn't kick Mubarak out. They are now fighting a rearguard action, trying to control the transition to preserve as much of the power and booty for the elite as possible without restarting the unrest.

Mexico Will Follow Egypt Into Collapse

That's a tad simplistic. México will keep on producing oil for themselves for a very long time and oil is not their only source of revenue -not even their only legal source of revenue ...

If they put up the price through taxation to European levels we could even see the gangs smuggling gasoline from the USA to Mexico, rather than the other way around because it is cheaper in México now.

Mexico is doing some good things in rail transport.

I believe that Mexicans will have the same problems they have now, only worse; same as everyone.
The chauvinistic and nationalistic attitude of the Mexicans doesn't help them.

I know very little about Mexico other than I can find on Export databrowser and CIA factbook. I have though worked in low income countries in Eastern Europe (on a par with Mexico per capita GDP, and not that different from Egypt). The problems of corruption, gun/drugs/people running, and relations with the 'advanced' huge neighbor seem common enough.
A long time ago I worked in Eastern Canada (they had only just got their first big shopping mall in those days) and noted they were, despite some differences, 'North American', not 'European'. There has been much talk on TOD and elsewhere, of a future break up of USA, but I wonder whether to all intents and purposes, it is more likely in the future we (the rest of the world) will be talking about 'North America', including Mexico and Canada, with little need to differentiate sub-regions along current boundaries?
As USA world hegemony becomes less important, (perhaps for example by virtue of WT's forecast involuntary independence from world oil), USA can not avoid its geographical neighbors? Nor they the big culture? They are ever more closely intertwined it seems?

Toronto Star, 02 February 2011

After months of secret negotiations, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama are expected Friday to authorize the most sweeping overhaul of Canada-U.S. border and security cooperation in decades.

The agreement to be signed at a White House meeting will open the way to a bilateral pact with the potential to give Washington a much bigger say in Canada’s border security, immigration controls and information-sharing with American law agencies.

The furniture is for sale as well.

Why would Canada agree to this?

That is a good question. And in Europe, why do the Irish and others agree to be debt slaves?

I hope someday they let us in on their plans. Who is served, and who is being served up for dinner.

Egypt is far from Peak Oil being closely allied with oil rich Libya who pump energy to Libyan financed Egyptian refineries.
Libya is not yet Peak (Oil Drum says about 2020).



Again, the extreme gloomsters are going way overboard.
It's more likely that Europe will lose access to oil and gas than Egypt.

What is strange to me is the obsession with Arab oil peaking
and nobody makes any fuss about #1 oil producer Russia (a big supplier of Europe) which is clearly running out of reserves.



"Again, the extreme gloomsters are going way overboard," said the industrialist hiding under Obama's skirt, living comfortably thousands of miles away from his slaves, with plenty to eat and drink and who in his leisure time goes skiing, snowmobiling and/or does a little 4 wheeling' while hunting or fishing for recreation...

Egypt is far from Peak Oil being closely allied with oil rich Libya...

Egypt peaked in 1996 with an average of 922,000 barrels per day that year. 2010, thru October they have averaged 523,000 barrels per day, just under 400,000 barrels per day less than they produced at their peak.

Libya is not yet Peak (Oil Drum says about 2020).

I don't know who this guy called "Oil Drum" is but he is sorely mistaken in this instance. Libya peaked in 1970 with an average production of 3,318,000 barrels per day that year. 2010, thru October, they have averaged 1,650,000 barrels per day, less than half what they produced at their peak.

Majorian, the EIA stopped updating the International Petroleum Monthly last month but the data is still out there. All you had to do was check the data and you would not have made two such mistakes as saying that Egypt and Libya has not yet peaked. They clearly have or else they have cut their production in half simply because they thought it a good idea. Yeah right!

Ron P.

About Libya, Ron is exactly right. In The Oil ConunDrum on p. 271, I use a model of the production process and extrapolate numbers from Campbell's data.

Libya, being a small area doesn't go through the classic Hubbert Logistic sigmoid and is very asymmetric with the peak near the inflection point in the above curve. That does not mean that you can't model this sucker with the oil shock model.

Perhaps it's one of those cases that people assume hasn't peaked because the cumulative is still going along quite strongly. Otherwise I can't tell where Majorian got that idea.

I (and hopefully others) would find it interesting to hear some feedback from the TOD community about the wisdom and/or pitfalls of the PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy)concept.



The summary of the issue is below (this is but a fraction of the available material):

PACE is a bipartisan local government initiative that allows property owners to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for their homes and commercial buildings. Interested property owners opt‐in to receive financing for improvements that is repaid through an assessment on their property taxes for up to 20 years. PACE financing spreads the cost of energy improvements such as weather sealing, insulation, energy efficient boilers and cooling systems, new windows, and solar installations over the expected life of the measures and allows for the repayment obligation to transfer automatically to the next property owner if the property is sold. PACE is unique because it:

* Creates badly needed local jobs.
* Uses private capital, not taxes or government subsidies.
* Saves money for building owners and increases property values.
* Is voluntary – not a government mandate.
* Promotes energy security without driving up energy costs.
* Avoids the need to build costly new power plants.
* Reduces air pollution.

and this..

FHFA issued a statement that directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac not to underwrite mortgages for properties with a PACE assessment. It further directed mortgage lenders to redline communities with PACE programs by tightening lending standards (which, ironically, has the effect of reducing property values in such communities, devaluing lenders’ collateral). FHFA based its action on two astonishing claims:

* PACE benefits, articulated and codified by state and local governments in 23 states, do not meet a valid public purpose.
* PACE program defaults, estimated to be no more than $200 per average home, raise concerns with regard to the safety and soundness of the mortgage industry.

When I first read about this idea a year or two ago, I thought it sounded like a government policy initiatives that might make sense....the 'win-win'.

Heck, since the Fed tax credits have largely expired, I would be highly interested in this type of a deal to finance new windows, and a new heating and hot water system for my houses, as well as solar PV.

I dunno...is there something about this idea that would end free Western democracy as we know it?

I dunno...is there something about this idea that would end free Western democracy as we know it?

Yes. Urr, rather no! But, that is the problem. It is more like a return to the pre-oligarchy days. Firstly it decreases demands for oil and gas, which would negatively affect our true masters. Secondly, it might create a meme that government can do good things, that constitutes heresy, which needs to be punished by burning at the stake......

The term should really be "higher speed rail." Currently, the Federal Railroad Administration sets a maximum speed of 79 mph on most main lines of railroads. (The northeast corridor, owned by Amtrak, and a section in Colorado are the only two exceptions.) While 79 mph is freeway-level fast, the average speed for passenger trains is much lower, 60 mph or less. Even in the 1950's streamliners had average speeds of 45 mph to 50 mph -- the result of station stops, slow speeds through yards and various small towns on the route.

The proposed and stimulus-funded Ohio line between Cincinnati and Cleveland became a political liability when the public learned the average speed would be 39 mph, not high speed in anyone's book. Part of the problem was the need to switch back and forth between CSX and Norfolk Southern dispatchers, with 15 minutes lost in each transfer.

A lot can be done with existing rail lines by using high speed turnouts and long sidings, double-tracking in key spots, implementing positive train control, and upgrading the low speed bottlenecks. (Upgrading a 15 mph section to 30 mph is more effective than upgrading a 60 mph section to 75 mph.) We can expand conventional rail service both by adding badly needed new routes (such as Chicago-Nashville-Atlanta-Florida) and by increasing the frequency of service on existing routes. (Having three trains a week in each direction serving Cincinnati in the middle of the night is not a reasonable level of service.)

That said, there are locations where a significant capital investment in rail speeds over 90 mph makes sense and is technically and financially feasible, such as various routes out of Chicago. In 2005 CSX submitted a proposal to the FRA for a multi-line route from DC to Miami that would provide grade separation for high speed passenger and parcel service while keeping heavy and slower freight on the outside lines, allowing industrial spurs to be served along the way.

The issue of PACE is a major sore point here in South Florida. On Friday I was at a conference sponsored by FARE (Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy) held on the FIU campus, College of Business and well attended by members of the local renewable energy business owners community, academics, politicians etc... PACE was one of the topics discussed because most of us believe it is the way to get distributed solar PV on to thousands of Florida rooftops and get a lot of contractors, roofers electricians back to work.

PACE is being thwarted mainly by the mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The impression I got was that at this point everyone is aware of this and ready to fight them. By everyone I mean from the newly elected Republican Governor, the Miami Chamber of Commerce, Florida Senate, Mayors of local towns, business community, you name it all the way down to the JQ public is ready to say enough is enough to these mortgage companies. Well see what happens. It might finally start happening. I was actually very pleasantly surprised that so many people seemed to be peak oil and climate change aware at this particular FARE conference.

I still wonder about the merits of a push for High-Speed Rail in the U.S.


I like Alan Drakes ideas, in general, about the merits of creating double-tracked and in some cases electric freight trains, with commensurate infrastructure improvement to rail tunnels, bridges, minimizing grade crossings (I hated those in Shreveport/Bossier City!)...but perhaps it would be more economical to focus on what I'll call medium-speed passenger trains...say up to ~ 100 mph.

I was also wondering if any studies have been done comparing the total life cycle costs (RDT&E, production, construction, and operations and maintenance)of intra-city light rail/streetcars to busses?

Interesting (to me anyway) observation:

NM has implemented a Heavy Passenger train service between Belen and Santa Fe NM, called the Rail Runner.



Even though the web site (above) claimed that an Analysis of Alternatives study estimated that adding a third lane to each of the I-25 N and Southbound directions between Albuquerque and Santa Fe would cost ~ $320M and that Rail Runner would be more economical, we have Rail Runner now, AND there is construction currently going on to add a third lane in each direction, at least between Albuquerque and Bernalillo.

Then there are folks who are vehemently against the Rail Runner:


The Rail Runner will always be one of the most heavily taxpayer subsidized rail systems in the world because it was a fundamentally bad idea from the beginning. Rail systems only make sense in densely populated areas such as New York, London and Tokyo, and even these systems that transport millions of passengers every day are substantially subsidized. The Rail Runner isn’t just a boondoggle, but a dangerous deception. The United States is in a perilous position because we import 65% of our oil from foreign nations and our transportation systems are more than 99% dependent on oil. One supply disruption would have catastrophic consequences. We need real answers to our transportation needs, not fanciful, unserious non-solutions like The Rail Runner. It’s time to stop the nonsense and to start working toward real answers to our transportation needs.

I wonder what the 'real answers' to NM's transportation needs are? These folks seem shy about enumerating them. I wonder why? And how, exactly, would having more trips via rail via personal Ford Excursion (one person each on average) not help the oil situation described above???

Interestingly, the 'Stop the Rail Runner' site states that RR funds stole money from the planned Paseo Del Norte/I-25 interchange (biggest interchange, once complete, other than the 'Big I' between I-25 and I-40....that construction is slated to start soon anyway now that Rail Runner is in place, just like the extra I-25 lanes which are in construction. Seems like NM is trying to have a little rail and lots more roads as well. For anyone familiar with ABQ, Eubank is being widened to a divided 4-lane highway North to Paseo.

Funny, what the city desperately needs is some more bike paths...and I am not referring to those jokes where about two feet is added to the paved berm with that magic force field-providing white stripe to keep ABQ's idiot drivers from ending you while they put on make up and talk on the cell phone and adjust the stereo etc.

If I were to bet on what 'wins' by say 2025, my bet would on rail trips between cities in NM, and many fewer car (and freight truck) trips. What will 'win' in the intr-city transporation arena will be bicycles, golf-cart-style low-speed electric cars, and busses (at least in sunny ABQ).

Unless we find about 5 more KSAs.

I still wonder about the merits of a push for High-Speed Rail in the U.S.

I think we are on the same wavelength here. I think high speed rail is a boondoggle, just to expensive, because it requires too many resources for the service it delivers.

Rail Runner, sounds interesting. Despite the stated concern being oil consumption, I'd bet the attacks are coming from the right (funded by the drill-drill-drill forces). Of course most people in ABQ would probably end up driving 10miles to RR (versus 50ish) to SantaFe. Then they have to get around SantaFe (If I remember corectly, it is really hard to park within a mile of downtown SF), so maybe RR solves that problem.

After nine years away, my memory of ABQ street names is becoming rusty.....


~58 miles from my house to the La Fonda Hotel on the Plaza in Santa Fe, ~57 minutes, according to MapQuest.

Nearest RailRunner station is ~ 5 mi or a little less from my house...RR transit time to Santa Fe is about 1+40 worst case (due to a couple of stops on the way).

Rail Runner is 'Heavy Passenger Rail'...uses a locomotive similar to a freight train (painted nicer), with 3-6 (I think) double-decker passenger cars. Now has Wi-Fi. Some seating has tables. It is a nice relaxing ride, avoids all the drunks, speeders, and lane drifters and construction on I-25. doesn't go too fast, but you leave the driving to sometone else.

I noticed that between Salt Lake City and up towards Hill AFB there is a similar train called the 'Front Runner'. Looks just like the Rail Runner but pained silver and blue IIRC.

Nice to have this infrastructure in place for the day when gasoline is real expensive/scarce.

I agree about the D-B-D folks raining on this parade...hopefully our new governor doesn't de-fund Rail Runner.



It is a nice relaxing ride, avoids all the drunks, speeders, and lane drifters and construction on I-25. doesn't go too fast, but you leave the driving to sometone else.

Were I still there, I lived just east of the Turqoise Trail, so the only way we ever took to SF was the scenic route, so most of that was avoided.

It does sound like a good service to have.

but perhaps it would be more economical to focus on what I'll call medium-speed passenger trains...say up to ~ 100 mph.

High speed trains require 100% dedicated tracks e.g French TGV (260 km/h) had turn radius 4km for 260km/h speed, 100% fenced corridor.

There are several titling trains which can use existing tracks and go faster than original design speed of the track. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilting_train

Canuck - I would be very happy with just NRS rail service out of one of the largest U.S. cities: Houston. BTW that means Not Real Slow trains. I can drive from Houston to New Orleans about 400 miles) faster (and that's holding to the speed limit) than AMTRAC can get me there. And the train ticket costs more than 3X what my gasoline bill would be in my 23 mpg car. I don't think folks in the NE understand just how pathetic rail service is for the rest of us.

Houston-New Orleans: $150 for 400 miles in 7 hours?
Ottawa-Toronto: $80 for 260 miles in 4 1/2 hours That's pretty much the same
Texas and Louisiana are as pathetic as Ontario..

You know it just boggles my mind when I read posts above like the one about Obama et al pushing for Greentech over FFs and that nobody seems to get that the US is INCAPABLE of realizing these ambitions due to its total inability to provide the raw ( REE ) inputs for such a Herculian task...
The US sold out its capabilities in this realm to China a decade ago with the closure of Molcorps mine. By my calculations based on comments by top Chinese officials we will need the equivalent of 3.5x Molycorps Mountain Pass output (40k tonnes) just to begin to meet demand by 2015. If anybody reading this blog believes we are imminently due for a Peak Oil Epiphany event circa 2012-14 then surely this will lead to even greater demands than currently envisaged in transitional technology and hence the need for REEs?
Dislaimer: of course I own a bag of 'em and if you think PO is coming so should you. Join the dots.

"If anybody reading this blog believes we are imminently due for a Peak Oil Epiphany event circa 2012-14 then surely"........

...they should be holding cash/gold/silver, arable land and firearms ;-/

(p.s. don't forget seeds and ammo)

Although Indium technically is not a Rare Earth Element it's scarce and valuable.
Indium is used in all kinds of displays.
A sub-product of the metallurgy of Tin, it is going to be exploited again in Cornwall.
The iPad app dug out of a Cornish tin mine

The wizardry of the iPad and other modern gizmos appears to know no bounds. But few could have foreseen them being responsible for a revival of the Cornish mining industry

Carry on dreaming

pushing for Greentech over FFs and that nobody seems to get that the US is INCAPABLE of realizing these ambitions due to its total inability to provide the raw ( REE ) inputs

I don't see the REE as essential. Things can be designed to not need them. Sure motors would be bulkier, and slightly less effcient, but it isn't a show stopper, as long as you've planned for it (i.e. designed around REEs with no margin for error).

The Japanese are making good progress recycling REE from scrap. REEs aren't really that rare, its just that we never gave much thought to developing the production capability. And given our extreme obiedience to free market ideology, we can't treat them as strategic assets, and leave a mine open (or open a new one), in the face of Chinese dumping (which is how they let the world get dependent on Chinese REE).

I don't see the REE as essential. Things can be designed to not need them.

Really? So engineers design windmills using neodymium magnets because they think it is "cool" instead of the abundant iron magnet? And they rather use indium for their thin film PVs instead of the abundant carbon (nanotubes)? Imagine how big an iron magnet has to be to equal the strength of a neodymium magnet. Engineers use these REs because it provides the best and more often than not the ONLY solution.

BTW, anyone who thinks we can build enough lithium ion battery used in PHEVs to replace the current 600 million small vehicle fleet worldwide needs a reality check. Similar to oil, the amount that is in place does not equal to what can be extracted.

Worldwide lithium in abundance:

230 billion tonnes in seawater (about 8000 times in known mines)
28 million tonnes in known mines (similar to oil in place)
4 million tonnes economically minable = 4 billion kilograms
Each Chevy Volt uses 20 kg. Imagine if 100% of all the minable lithium is used exclusively for PHEVs tomorrow, we can still only produce 200 million Cheve Volts. The current light vehicle fleet worldwide is 600 million cars. Yeah, five years ago, I was fixated on sites such as MIT Technology Review, but I have since sober up.

source: wikipedia and The Trouble with Lithium 2

I agree that the rate of production of lithium is likely to limit the rate of conversion to electric vehicles, but the battery used in a Chevy Volt is supposed to be lithium manganese spinel (LMO-G) which uses 1.4 kg of lithium (PDF warning) for a 40 mile range. Apparently there is some confusion (Jan. 7, 2011) about Chevy using a new chemistry, nickel-manganese-cobalt (I think LiNiMnCoO2), but I do not know the mass of lithium used in this type of battery. If it is similar to NCA-G (from Gaines' paper), then it uses 3.0 kg of lithium.

I do not know where you got the figure of 28 million tonnes. Your source states in table 4 that the known (conservative) reserve of lithium is 4 million tonnes = 4 billion kg. which could make 1.3 billion batteries using 3 kg. each without recycling. Economic depression and a high price of PHEV's will probably mean fewer people will own cars.

Basic electrochemistry to the rescue.

In lithium batteries lithium "stores" the electricity, all other molecules and components are necessary to create cathode, anode and electrolyte of the battery. The reaction that "stores" or "releases" electrons is change of charge of lithium from +1 (ion) to 0 (embedded in electrode). Wikipedia lists several possible combinations of electrodes and electrolytes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium-ion_battery

How much energy can be theoretically stored in a battery per kg of Li. First I will assume that potential here is 3.0V, which is the standard electrode potential for lithium, actual values may vary and be larger.

One mol of lithium (7 grams) will release or absorb 1 mol i.e. 6x10^23 electrons. Elementary charge of electron is 1.6x10^-19 Coulomb, thus 1 mol of Li is equivalent to approx. 96,000 Coulombs, which is 96,000 Ampere-seconds. This value multiplied by potential difference (3V) gives electric energy of 290,000 Joules which is 0.08 kWh. That is the amount of electricity that can be stored in a battery with 7 grams of lithium. For one kilogram of lithium it is 11.2 kWh. So we have a ballpark of 10kWh per kilogram of lithium. This is that maximum amount of electrical energy that can be stored using one 1kg of lithium. If the voltage of the battery is larger than 3V, the capacity per kg of Li will go proportionately up.

The actual mass of other chemical required is significantly larger: e.g. cell described in wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium-ion_battery has one atom of cobalt and two atoms of oxygen for each atom of lithium, that gives additional 91 grams for each 7 grams of Lithium. On the other electrode there are 6 carbon atoms for additional 72 grams. So 163 grams of other compounds are required to "complete a circuit". This reduces the energy density more than 20 times. In addition, electrolyte has it's own mass and the battery must be engineered.

But the bottom line is 11kWh per kg lithium at 3V and 18kWh at rather high value of 5V.

Here is a link to my post about energy density of Li batteries http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7411#comment-765832

PS. This is a major edit of the post

The article's photo sums up a good bunch which is not stated. A corn ethanol plant in Nevada.

Drug lords tired of cheap shots:

That is the plain and simple truth. Corn ethanol produced in our backyard is displacing oil from unfriendly places like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Nigeria.

Or, Corn ethanol produced in our backyard is displacing food from the tables of people in our backyard, and in the backyards of our Slave Lords in "unfriendly places" like ...

If the mexicans have problems eating this summer, I'll volunteer to drive down, pick some of them up, and drop them off in Iowa where they can join the debate of Food for people, vs ethanol for rich piglets vehicles.

(EDIT: A relatively rich mexican friend informs me that they are happy to see their northern neighbors have a problem with Obesity - and he said they are ready and willing to help us out with this "problem."... he did not go into details, but I think he is actually Mother Nature in disquise (way to many teeth and eyes to be human).

Corn ethanol produced in our backyard is displacing food from the tables of people in our backyard

The unfortunate part of being a specie that makes all decisions based on the mighty dollar, is growers simply sell their crop to the highest bidder, and if that bidder is making ethanol, then there's less food for those at the bottom of the economic ladder. So you can have some guy driving his enamel red/chrome Hummer blaring music in ski country living it up wildly, while many others living on 2 bucks a day eat even fewer calories. Seems unfortunate but that's humankind. It's sort of a survival and enjoyment of life for those at the top of the food chain, and slow starvation for those down at the bottom. No one speaks for the people at the bottom, but many speak up for the fat cats at the top. In other words it's an economic jungle. There are no morals or ethics about distribution, only the mighty dollar. And this is why fossil fuels still rule the day over alternatives, because they produce more energy for less money.

What do you say we just skip this part and just go right to the stage where we eat the guy in his hummer before he feeds us to his pigs.

Obama's skirt is full - all the financial scum is already hiding there.

The pentagon is no match for the billions of little piglets they have been hired to herd.

What do you say we just skip this part and just go right to the stage where we eat the guy in his hummer before he feeds us to his pigs.

Yeah, we'll definitely need to band together to do something big before we get used as swine fodder. Reminds me of the twilight zone episode, 'To Serve Man'.

In this case, "To serve man to pig to serve Man". Notice how the poor man has a lower case m whereas the rich man has an upper case M. Maybe like Mad Max II we'll be fed to pigs to make methane to run the electricity and the Hummers. "Not enough power - what we need is more men!"

While I agree that corn ethanol is bad, a stupid political allocation of resources, and a testament to our criminal enslavement to a stupid transportation system dominated by that scourge, the automobile, there will be billions hungry at the bottom regardless of our policies on ethanol.

There are other factors driving up the availability and price of food calories, including the massive amount of meat eaten in the west and now spreading to China. It is not just Americans that have become obese eating high on the hog.

I think both corn ethanol and meat eating should be cut back for a number of reasons but actions on both fronts will just push the dieoff a little bit further to the right. Making more food available, including the green revolution has just made it possible for the eventual dieoff to be all that more horribly spectacular.

Ethanol, just another stupid idea. But it has to compete with so many others.

Perks from Pa. drilling interests

The state Senate president, a key player in the debate over natural-gas drilling in Pennsylvania, accepted a free trip from one of the state's largest energy companies to see the Pittsburgh Steelers play in the Super Bowl.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R., Jefferson) had his ticket, plane ride, and hotel bill paid for by Consol Energy Inc., a major coal producer and one of the companies drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale, according to Scarnati's top aide.

Closed-loop systems: Innovative way to dispose of Marcellus drilling debris

But horizonal drilling produces so much material that it cannot be easily buried at some drilling sites. Those sites may contain several wells, each producing a thousand tons of cuttings.

Anadarko, which is drilling extensively on state forest land, decided last year to convert all its Marcellus operations into closed-loop systems, eliminating pits and collecting debris in steel containers that are carted to landfills.

e - FYI the cuttings from a typical 10,000' well are around 100 - 200 tons...not thousands. OTOH the volume isn't very critical IMHO: another word for cuttings is dirt...rather similar to the ground they're drilling on. Sand and mud brought up from 10,000' isn't much different than what's already on the ground. But that only referes to water-based drilling mud. If they are using an oil-based drilling mud you do need to use a closed loop system as well as hauling the cuttings, mud and frac fluids to a certified evironmental hazard disposal site.

Couldn't an old coal mine be used for storage/disposal don't most have rail spurs to almost roll upto the door.

vapor - cuttings from oil-based drilling fluids have to have the oil washed out and properly disposed. You just can't put oil into the ground anywhere except for a deep disposal well. OTOH the cuttings from a water-based mud are really just what I described: dirt. Just dig a hole in the dirt and then bury the dirt in the dirt. I'm not being silly...that's just what we do.

Folks get confused. Some of the fluids from drilling/production ops are really dangerous and have to be handled safely. OTOH much of the material is no more dangerous than the soil in your garden. I think some folks like to take the not dangerous stuff and lump it in with the bad stuff to get their point across on a purely emotional level.

The best example is the hype about frac jobs themselves directly making houses explode. Won't happen. But that hype drowns out the very serious issue: proper disposal of those nasty produced fluids.

You just can't put oil into the ground anywhere except for a deep disposal well.

Actually, you can dispose of oily waste through a technique called land farming

Land farming is the controlled and repeated application of wastes to the soil surface, using microorganisms in the soil to naturally biodegrade hydrocarbon constituents, dilute and attenuate metals, and transform and assimilate waste constituents.

Oil-eating bacteria are extremely effective in turning dangerous oily waste into ordinary everyday dirt. We used to use them all the time. Used properly, they can turn oily waste into high-quality soil.

Some studies indicate that land farming does not adversely affect soils and may even benefit certain sandy soils by increasing their water-retaining capacity and reducing fertilizer losses.

... Which is why the farmers with poor, sandy soil got kind of keen on the process after they had seen the results. And if the oil-eating bacteria can't handle the really bad waste, you can resort to the extreme backup weapon - earthworms:

Recent studies have supported the idea that field-scale additions of earthworms with selected organic amendments may hasten the long-term recovery of conventionally treated petroleum contaminated soil. The burrowing and feeding activities of earthworms create space and allow food resources to become available to other soil organisms that would be unable to survive otherwise.

Mother Nature has been disposing of oil spills for billions of years. At least 99% of the oil that ever existed has been biodgraded into dirt through natural processes. The few oil spills that human being cause from time to time can be handled in the same fashion.

Of course the envirobabblists would insist that you can't dispose of oily waste through natural processes - you must have to do something really expensive and high tech using dangerous chemicals or preferably nuclear weapons. Anything else would be just evil and wrong, bad, bad, bad.

Rocky - Unfortunately in Texas not so easy. To landfarm here you have to get a permit from the Texas Rail Road Commission. Besides limits of salinity there's a very low limit on hydrocarbon content. I just had a fandfarm permit rejected two months ago. Both salinity and HC were acceptable. I was rejected because I had to dump in the middle of a bunch of scrub trees abd thus couldn't plow the ground. It was a very muddy area and yes, my app was rejected because I wasn't able to plow muddy water into some muddy ground. Sounds silly but that was the district's rules and there is no appeal process. BTW: the district won't let you pump more than 2,000 bbls per acre. Yes...that's less than one ACRE-INCH of water. So I had to spend $60,000 to do annular disposal (pump it down a well bore)). How much to haul and dispose of my safe muddy water: $135,000. If it had been oil-based: probably north of $250,000. Fortunately the pit I got rid off this weekend was next to a plowed field. Cost: $1,000. Oil-based mud and cuttings: a potential vacation in state prison if they catch you putting it on the ground intentionally. Bacterial remediation is used for accidental spills. There are also substantial fines for such accidents in addition to the cost of remediation.

I've mentioned before how New York state et al are having a difficult time developing regs for the new shale gas play in there states. Very easy: send your regulators to Austin for a few weeks and talk to our folks. Problem solved. Texas was as indiscriminate as any place in the bad ole days. That's why we've developed very protective regs today. Want even tighter rules: go sit with the Conservation Commision of La: they won't let you pump rain water off of your drill site.

What's "closed loop" about carting waste to landfill?

"Governor Walker Wakes up Millions of SleepWalkers all at once - Chaos likely to ensue !!!! TAKE COVER (lol)

The teachers should all go on strike and when they are replace with mexican migrant workers they need only to walk a few blocks over and apply to become a welder or assembler at the local Industrial Military Complex.

Watchdog Report: Wisconsin teachers feel budget-cutting pressure
Sun Feb 13, 5:26 am ET
MADISON Given the devastating effects of the Great Recession, even a modest increase in pay or benefits from your employer is something most anyone would cheer about these days. Full Story »

Oshkosh Corp. poised to hire hundreds of experienced welders, assemblers
Sun Feb 13, 5:26 am ET
OSHKOSH Wanted: welders and assemblers

Everywherer there's lots of (confused) piggies
Eating other piggies lives

You can see them out to protest
while eating each other's thighs

who needs forks or knives ?
to reap the bacon

Meanwhile in the MIC...

From Pentagon, a Buy Rating on Contractors

... to put it bluntly, ... even in an era of tighter budgets, the Pentagon is going to make sure the military industry remains profitable.

...In economic terms, the Pentagon is a “ monopsony,” a single buyer with life-or-death power over its vendors. If the Pentagon wants the military industry to be healthy and profitable, it can pretty much ensure that outcome.

The answer, ... has to do with something that happened a very long time ago, and goes under the category of “Be careful what you wish for.” Let’s just say that banking isn’t the only industry where the government has allowed a handful of companies to become too big to fail.

Seraph, and all interested parties:

The DoD/DOE and all the other related MIC government organizations, are in a bad co-dependent
dance with their contractors.

The Government usually does a TERRIBLE job defining requirements for new hardware, software, and services desired.

The story of the 'Management by the the rock' comes to mind:

Bring me a rock
Here you go
No, I wanted a small rock
Here you go
No, I wanted a smooth rock
Here you go
No, I wanted a blue rock
And, here you go
No, we changed our mind and we want a bigger rock....
ad nauseum

You might wonder why the contractors don't help the government think about and clarify their desires...well, they do, but there are restrictions, and even if we both think we have some clarity, the customer is often distracted by 'new thinking', bright shiny objects, budget reprogramming to other priorities, organizations re-organization, new bosses, etc.

As for the contractors, they usually over-promise and end up under-delivering.

They over-promise because they are desperate for the business, because their corporate suits must have lots of year-over-year gross revenue and profit growth to satisfy the stockholders.

They also are whipsawed by the 'management by the rock', incremental funding, and by their own poor cost and risk estimating skills and sketchy program management. They also often do a poor job at recruiting and training their people, again in service to that drive to increase Y-o-Y profits.

I shake my head when folks, especially folks in the MIC, rail about wasteful government programs (in every area except Defense), when they can't even see the planks in their eyes.

And why do we need to spend the budget we do?

On the day George W. Bush took office,” said Loren B. Thompson, a well-known military consultant, “defense spending was around $300 billion.” Today it is more than double that amount, around $700 billion. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — not to mention the Pentagon’s voracious appetite for expensive weapons systems, and the lack of competition among the remaining contractors — have been a gold mine for the Big Five.

So, I guarantee you that we are staying in the Iraq and the 'Stan and in other places not talked about. Maybe we end up with ~ 50K troops in the 'Stan and the Iraq, for ever.

Even if we were to completely pull out, DoD would scream for every penny of that $700B budget (and ask for lots more, wait and see), to re-capitalize worn and outdated equipment.

The MIC is a giant welfare program for middle class, upper-middle-class, and wealthy folks.

I know new college grads ~23 years old who are making ~ 60 grand in the MIC, who have no clue what they are doing, who make PowerPoint slides that few people see and which will not affect any decisions or outcomes.

If you are poor and get welfare/workfare, you are regarded as the scum of the Earth.

If you are in the MIC picking your nose for U.S. median income and up, you are a respected hero.

Maybe the U.S. should throttle back to ~ 500B/yr DoD budget and focus on getting our core defense competencies right, commensurate with realistic goals which do not include trying to be the 24/7/365 everywhere-at-once global beat cop.

/Rant Off

I am ashamed to admit I worked a short time at Oshkosh Truck in the B&P department trying to win bids for the MRAP etc.

The picture you paint is very accurate. To this day I cannot get the smell of their executives off of my own skin (stay at least a kilometer away from them or you will stink just as badly for the rest of your life - and Mother will smell you and eat you ;).

Remember Chalmers Johnson...

E. Swanson

Wow, nice article.

Too bad very few sheeple take the time to understand...

Welcome my son, welcome to The Machine.

Normal air could halve fuel consumption

“My simulations show that buses in cities could reduce their fuel consumption by 60 per cent”, says Sasa Trajkovic, a doctoral student in Combustion Engines at Lund University who recently defended a thesis on the subject.

Sasa Trajkovic also calculated that 48 per cent of the brake energy, which is compressed and saved in a small air tank connected to the engine, could be reused later. This means that the degree of reuse for air hybrids could match that of today’s electric hybrids. The engine does not require any expensive materials and is therefore cheap to manufacture. What is more, it takes up much less space than an electric hybrid engine. The method works with petrol, natural gas and diesel.

I don't understand.

Every time a car brakes, energy is generated.

Surely braking requires energy?

Edit: Ah, ok. They mean an increase in braking efficiency. Sounds good.


Every time a car brakes, energy is generated.

For safety reasons, air brakes are spring activated and air pressure released. In other words, it takes energy to release the brakes, and conversely energy is released when you apply the brakes.

Right, got you. But it's still a bit misleading to say the energy is 'generated'. I mean, it's not like the car is taking in more energy from its surroundings than it started with, i.e. its environment.

That potential energy in the compressed springs came from the petrol that was put into the car (or the power plant if electric).

You merely get a bit of that energy back when you apply them. So what they should be saying is that you lose less energy each time you brake, not that energy is generated.

Edit: If they had said heat is generated then that would have made more sense.

True, that's why it is usually referred to as energy regeneration, in this case look up regenerative braking.

Cheers, put the wiki link up-thread ;-)

Sorry, yes now I see your edit and am impressed with your diligence.

Sounds like they are using the engine as both an air compressor while braking. And an air motor when accelerating.

Apocalypse Not Now

...[we]oftentimes tend to ignore the evidence in favor of official pronouncements that all is well and life should proceed as normal while the “experts” work diligently and altruistically on forthcoming solutions. What is omitted from this systemic propaganda, however, is precisely the sobering (and ultimately fateful) realization that it is actually our “normal” lives that are precipitating the onset of the apocalypse.

Here, then, is one more addition to the lexicon: Prepocalyse, to indicate our narrow interval of time in which to reclaim skills of sustenance and community. Indeed, the desire and capacity for this reclamation is already emerging as a bona fide phenomenon, with a resurgence of interest in values and practices including localism, small-scale agriculture, food sovereignty, renewable energy, and grassroots democracy found in cities and towns everywhere.

Iran opposition 'planning protests': http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/02/2011212162526150718...

Protesters, including university students, lorry drivers and gold merchants are said to be organising marches across the country under the umbrella of the country's Green movement, apparently inspired by recents demonstrations in Egypt and Tunisia.

2nd time lucky in Iran?

Hands-On: Eccentric YikeBike Gives Segway a Run for Its Money

It’s the most compact electric bicycle ever made, its creators claim, and it looks the way it does because they threw out every preconception about the way bikes are supposed to look.

That looks a hoot to ride. Might take a bit of practice before you are safe in traffic, though.


I wouldn't get something in this realm that didn't have pedals as well, though. I like the chance to boost my mileage potential, to use my muscles, to not get 'carried around' like a snowboarder on a chairlift, and to be able to make some miles on the thing even if the batteries are down.

I was thinking along the same lines, but I think that's why they're marketing it as a competitor to the segway rather than standard electric bikes.

An article in the NY Times yesterday on Google searching oddness.

I like to occasionally see where certain keywords lead to such as
googling "creaming curves" or "oil discovery model".

In some ways it is very easy to corner the market if you just happen to chance on a topic that no one else has an interest in. Most of the topics on oil depletion analysis lead either to TOD or my blog site. I have to attribute this to pure apathy on the part of the oil establishment, the industrial and academic people seem to have zero curiosity to write on certain of these topics.

Reminds me of this article, about how at least one person managed to push his business to the top of the search rankings by providing terrible customer service. He sent the wrong items, cussed out the customers when they called to complain, impersonated them to get credit card chargebacks canceled, and even called them up and threatened them, including sending them photos of their homes. Google was unable to tell the difference between positive and negative comments, so the resulting angry online comments pushed his business up to the top of the rankings.

They've since fixed it, but of course it's a neverending battle.

Kind of spooky, how dependent we are on Google, and how easy it is to game.

I think science occupies an interesting "side-band" on Google. As long as you don't include commonplace terms in a query and instead use scientific equivalent terms, you end up getting page rankings according to their utility. In other words, you need the proper encoding to get through the rubbish and product placement.

By the way about google there is this new "ngram" tool that looks for words and words sequences appearances frequency in the google books corpus, "peak oil" shows a very sharp peak during second world war :
and also a major take off in the seventies.
Wonder whether the second world war meaning was exactly the current one ?
Edit : quickly brwosing through the samples, the 45 46 peak refers to the expression being used for "peak production or consumption" in local places (and if you chose the "british english" corpus, the second world war peak doesn't appear at all).

World oil production now seems to be rising very fast. How high will it go? We will definitely see a very clear new peak in 2011. Is it probable that we will see just as big increases in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015? Will be very interesting to see.

Is that true? Seems to run contrary to what most people are saying on here. Can you provide a source for the info?

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7327 post by Stuart Staniford - New High of Liquied Fuel Production is predicting an increase. Many of the fantastic "serious" posters on TOD such as Euan Mearns etc. have been predicting an increase for a long time. The "doomers" in the comments have a tendency to predict the end of the world every week or two as do some TOD posters such as ACE.

Ah, thanks. But strictly speaking that's talking about all liquids, not conventional oil, right?

Yes, its all liquids and he doesn't even mention anything about the crude fraction.

Staniford used to post here quite frequently. For some reason he stopped. I remember challenging him a few times on his over-reliance on using heuristics.

Not true. It is about crude as well:

"Still, if demand stays strong and prices up, it seems likely that supply will increase further in the next six months. If so, then it's likely that the July 2008 crude+condensate peak will also be exceeded.

The bottom line is this: those people running around saying that the all-time peak in monthly oil production was definitely in 2005 or 2008 are running a considerable risk of having events make fools of them. Appropriate caveats should be used."


IEA figures for Crude and Condensate are showing a quickly rising trend:

January 71,554
February 72,070
March 71,880
April 72,000
May 71,617
June 71,806
July 72,715
August 72,250
September 72,660
October 73,119
November 73,173
December 72,900

2009 Average 72,314

January 73,158
February 73,586
March 73,552
April 73,581
May 73,494
June 73,237
July 73,441
August 73,305
September 73,542
October 74,080

Or perhaps it's foolish to focus on monthly peaks, since they can be so heavily influenced by inventory changes. It's analogous to a salesman making $50,000 in January, but $10,000 per month for the rest of the year. What's more indicative of his actual income, the monthly peak of $50,000 or the average monthly income of $13,333?

Of course you should not look at one month. But you can spot the trend from the monthly figures!

Which shows up even better when one looks at annual averages, which is also true for oil prices.

The bottom line is this: those people running around saying that the all-time peak in monthly oil production was definitely in 2005 or 2008 are running a considerable risk of having events make fools of them. Appropriate caveats should be used."

That's pure baloney! What the vast majority of us are saying is that we are at peak right now. And production is not rising as fast as you seem to think. Russia, the world's largest producer, peaked in November and Putin says he hopes to hold that plateau but most Russian observers predict Russian production will start to decline in the second half of this year.

Oil production is still on the plateau. When it comes off that plateau you can stand up and crow if it comes off on the upside but you can eat crow if it comes off on the downside.

Ron P.

Ron - "Baloney"...I'm glad I'm not the only old fart on TOD. I still get teased by some folks when I say icebox instead of refrigerator. I wish we would stop rehashing peak timing. Maybe 20 years or so out someone will be able to put an exact day to PO. And all that will add is a mildly interesting footnote to the big story IMHO. As you say, we're very likely on the Peak Plateau. It matters little to me if there are small bumps up and down. In and of itself any peak in production isn't all that important.

The key factor will be economic outcome of decreasing energy supplies to the developed as well as the undeveloped countries. I suspect before too long we won't be focused on peak production but rather peak imports. More specifically, each country's PI. Matters little to the U.S. economy if global production has yet to peak if, for instance, we are unable to import a single bbl of oil beyond current levels. I'm sure we'll have some increase in imports down the road but how low long before we can't access all we can afford to buy? Increasing oil prices have hurt the economy to some extent. But how will the public (and Wall Street) react the first time it's reported that the U.S. wasn't able to import what it was willing to pay for?

No idea when that days will come or even if TPTB will allow such an event without calling forth extreme political/military maneuvering to prevent it.

I suspect before too long we won't be focused on peak production but rather peak imports. More specifically, each country's PI.

Are you up staging the Westexas ELM model with an ILAME (Import LAnd ModEl)?


On a lighter note, even the free market worshiper, Dave Brooks is starting to understand that the "low hanging fruit" might have all been picked away at:


However with that said, Brooks is on board for the delusionist train ride of our lifetime:

But in an affluent information-driven world, people embrace the postmaterialist mind-set. They realize they can improve their quality of life without actually producing more wealth.

The "baloney" was a quote from Stuart Staniford and not my own words.

However, I of course agree with Stuart.

ps.I promise to crow loudly.

He used to be on staff here. I think he lost interest in the peak oil issue for awhile. He was concentrating on other things (like computer security). When his interest in peak oil revived, he started his own blog.

You can challenge him on heuristics at his blog. He's got comments enabled.

I will, thanks.

World oil production now seems to be rising very fast

As noted above, you are talking about total liquids, and "rising very fast" is an interesting characterization. Annual crude + condensate, which accounts for about 98% of the input to refineries, has so far been at or below the 2005 annual production rate, even with the benefit of slowly increasing unconventional production. But then we have the pesky problem of net exports, compounded by Chindia's ferocious rate of increase in net oil imports, as a percentage of global net exports--increasing from 11% in 2005 to 17% in 2009.

But I remain puzzled as to what your point is. Are you saying that we can have an infinite rate of increase in our consumption of a finite fossil fuel resource base, or are you saying that we should just party on for a few more years while we can?

From up top: Rich in Land, Aborigines Split on How to Use It

For the Goolarabooloo community, the Point is also the nexus of a “songline” whose path was recorded in Aboriginal songs, dances and other cultural activities, said Joseph Roe, a leader of the group.

Mr. Roe, 44, the most prominent Aboriginal opponent of the gas project, said he was defending his culture and “sense of country.” Aboriginal supporters of the gas plant, he said, are just “out for the money.”

“They don’t know how to connect to country anymore,” he said. “They walk around with a dead feeling, these people, inside them.

“People make choices — I didn’t go anywhere for schooling. I stayed here and practiced and studied my law for 24 years of my life,” Mr. Roe said, referring to Aboriginal customs and traditions.

Supported by environmentalists, Mr. Roe has spoken out against the project here and in Australia’s major cities.

I worked for the National Native Title Tribunal (in Darwin and Perth) for ten years - this is really, really hard stuff to deal with. There are no simple answers.