Drumbeat: March 7, 2011

Fed's Lockhart: Oil shock could lead to QE3

(Arlington, Va.) -- If oil prices continue to climb, it could force the Federal Reserve to make a new round of asset purchases, according to Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart.

Appearing at the National Association of Business Economics in Arlington, Va., Lockhart said that while he doesn't think additional purchases are currently warranted, more stimulus could be needed if oil prices continue to climb.

"If [the rising price of oil] plays through to the broad economy in a way that portends a recession, I would take a position we would respond with more accommodation," Lockhart said at the conference.

Saudi `Day of Rage' Lures $200 Oil Call Options: Chart of the Day

Options traders are betting more than ever that crude oil is heading to $200 a barrel as some websites call for a “Day of Rage” in Saudi Arabia and anti- government protests spread in the Middle East and North Africa.

Exxon stops all Libya oil trade - sources

(Reuters) - Exxon Mobil has stopped trading crude oil with Libya to comply with U.S. sanctions, two trading sources told Reuters on Monday citing unofficial information they received from the U.S. supermajor.

Conoco says not exporting Libya oil due sanctions

(Reuters) - ConocoPhillips (COP.N) is in full compliance with U.S. sanctions against Libya and is not exporting oil from that country.

Tunisia dissolves its state security division

Djerba, Tunisia (CNN) -- Tunisia's Interior Ministry announced Monday that it is dissolving its "political police" and the entire State Security Division, which was widely unpopular under the former regime, according to the country's news agency, Tunis Afrique Presse.

Japan to the rescue if oil crisis hits

AS the turmoil in Libya gathers intensity (not to mention rising tension in other part of the Middle East) the menacing rise of oil—or black gold as it is referred to in some circles—is causing alarm in many parts of the world.

And amidst fears of the turmoil in oil-producing Arab countries worsening, a member of Congress has proposed a possible, and unique, emergency fuel-sharing deal with Japan so that the Philippines could cope with a potential global oil crisis.

Steve LeVine: The specter of flaming oil ports

Traders have adopted a new yardstick for oil security, and it's influencing the abrupt climb of oil prices. Call it the Flaming Oil Port Index. It's a notional appreciation of how many more OPEC countries may see fighting, taking their oil production with them. Right now, according to CitiGroup, the index shows that at least 3.3 additional barrels of oil are at risk, or another 3 percent of global demand on top of the 1 million barrels a day gone from Libya's output. With the index that high, oil prices began the morning with another ascent.

Fears About Oil in Mideast and Libya Pay Off Nicely for Russia

MOSCOW — Whatever the eventual outcome of the Arab world’s social upheaval, there is a clear economic winner so far: Vladimir V. Putin.

Russia, which pumps more oil than Saudi Arabia, is reaping a windfall from the steep rise in global energy prices sparked by instability in oil regions of the Middle East and North Africa. Riding the high oil prices, the Russian ruble has risen faster against the dollar this year than any other currency, which is helpful because it will curb consumer inflation during an election year.

Don't blame Mideast turmoil for oil woes

FORTUNE -- When you think of life's more pointless exercises -- guessing what Lady Gaga will wear next, trying to read Finnegans Wake -- predicting the price of oil is right up there. I remember oil executives telling me in 2002, when the price was a bit more than $20 a barrel, that it was heading for $16. It peaked at more than $140 in 2008.

Yet despite all the reasons to be suspicious of any forecasts, all it took was for prices to spike in response to the turmoil in Libya -- with the benchmark Brent crude going to nearly $120 a barrel -- for the usual predictions of doom, gloom, and lines at gas stations to be trotted out.

FACTBOX-Libya oil production, outage, exports, customers

As fighting continues across Libya, the oil industry is trying to assess the output lost from Africa's third-largest producer.

Most estimates suggest around half of the country's 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil capacity is out of action.

Below are details on Libya's oil production, estimates of lost output, its exports and customers:

Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi Raise Oil Prices: Persian Gulf Oil

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil exporter, raised its official selling prices for all crude grades to customers in Asia and Northwest Europe for April shipments and cut prices to buyers in the U.S.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., the state-run producer in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, lifted official prices to 30-month highs for crude sold in February and increased the amount of oil it will supply in April.

A world of topics as players gather at CERAWeek

Delegates to a renowned global energy conference in Houston this week will have no shortage of things to talk about.

Middle East turmoil. The return of $100 oil. The still uncertain outlook for offshore drilling after the BP spill. The role of vast U.S. natural gas supplies in the energy mix. Surging global energy demand and how it will be met.

East Africa: Drought and High Fuel Prices Driving Inflation

Nairobi — Rising inflation is threatening East Africa Community's economic growth.

From Nairobi to Dar es Salaam and Kampala, all signs point to surging inflation in the region in the coming days. An array of issues from drought to food scarcity to escalating oil prices continue to pile pressure on households' expenditure.

Call to build mega dams, including KBD

LAHORE: Pakistan needs construction of mega dams, including the Kalabagh Dam, on an immediate basis in order to meet its ever increasing energy requirements. There is a need to start work on other energy generation resources besides taking concrete steps for energy conservation.

Gov't in talks with Saudi for oil supply deal

The Philippine government, through the Department of Energy (DoE), is holding discussions with Saudi Arabia for a potential oil stock supply agreement.

GPS systems that save gas

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Ordinarily, you want a GPS navigation system to show you the quickest way to get where you're going. But with gas prices over $4 a gallon in some cities you might rather know the way that uses the least gasoline.

FACTBOX-U.S. coal units to retire as EPA tightens rules

(Reuters) - A bill to close two coal boilers at a TransAlta Corp power plant in Centralia, Washington, and phase out coal-fired power in the state will go to lawmakers under a deal on Saturday between the company and the state's governor.

Ford Giving Up on Battery-Powered EVs, Says CEO William Ford

In an excessively pessimistic approach, he also mentioned that “Prior to the Model T, a third of all vehicles in this country were electric… this isn’t a new technology. The reason it died away was the ubiquity of charging. Today, we have the same issue.”

In New Food Culture, a Young Generation of Farmers Emerges

CORVALLIS, Ore. — For years, Tyler Jones, a livestock farmer here, avoided telling his grandfather how disillusioned he had become with industrial farming.

After all, his grandfather had worked closely with Earl L. Butz, the former federal secretary of agriculture who was known for saying, “Get big or get out.”

But several weeks before his grandfather died, Mr. Jones broached the subject. His grandfather surprised him. “You have to fix what Earl and I messed up,” Mr. Jones said his grandfather told him.

Kurt Cobb: The tyranny of the future

Most people imagine the future to be a place of plenty where energy is abundant and cheap, where every door is an automatic door and, most important, all of the problems of the present have been solved by technology: no pollution, no disease (or at least a lot less of it), no climate change, no high prices, no violence (at least no street violence) and no poverty (except, of course, on planets that haven't yet reached our level of development). It's a recipe for inaction and passivity in the face of the many daunting challenges humankind now faces. And, it has a political dimension that suits the current power structure: "Just sit back and we'll take care of the future. You don't need to challenge our ideas or authority because everything will work out for the best." It is a message right out of the mouth of Dr. Pangloss in Candide that we live in "the best of all possible worlds."

This is, of course, not the only fantasy about the future. There are grim forecasts of darkened landscapes of destruction caused by war or by mere neglect following some civilization-destroying catastrophe--a plague, a severe solar storm which knocks out the electrical grid, a famine caused by biotechnology gone awry, or a world hopelessly scorched by runaway global warming. And, this is yet another recipe for paralysis. What can one really do in the face of such catastrophes? As friend of mine once said, "You can't prepare for the end of civilization."

Oil at $110 May Trigger Pain CEOs Weathered at $100

Corporate assumptions would have to start changing when oil reaches $110 a barrel, according to economists such as Chris Low of FTN Financial in New York. Crude at that price would offset the benefit from the tax cut approved by Congress in December, and begin to slow economic growth, Low said.

“As long as consumers are willing to pay up a little more, there really isn’t going to be a significant impact,” Low said in an interview. “But we’re pretty quickly running out of time there with oil through $100 a barrel. We’re getting to levels where we have to think about taking our forecasts lower.”

Oil price spikes to 2.5 year-high on Libya unrest

LONDON (AFP) – World oil prices shot higher Monday, striking 2.5-year highs on the turmoil in Libya and the Middle East, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, hit $106.82 a barrel -- the highest level since September 2008.

It later stood at $106.60, up $2.18 compared with Friday's close.

In London, Brent North Sea crude for April jumped $2.15 to $118.12.

Gas up 33 cents — second biggest two-week jump ever

NEW YORK — Gasoline prices in the United States posted their second-biggest increase ever in a two-week period, due to the rise in crude oil prices stemming from the turmoil in Libya, an industry analyst said Sunday.

BISA 2011: Oil Supply Shock Won't Derail Global Recovery

One countervailing move that would keep the supply shocks from getting out of hand is the United States’ strategic petroleum reserve, he said.

Where the Bush Administration was content to let oil prices rise to compensate oil companies for risk they took in keeping supplies uninterrupted, the attitude of the Obama Administration is different, he said.

If oil prices rise another $10 or $20 a barrel, he said, “the strategic reserves are coming out.’’

Oil's Inventory Warning

How many times have you heard pundits say not to worry about a high oil price because we have high inventories of the stuff? It's like a mantra with them. It's all speculation, they keep saying, and there is no problem with supply. So now, as oil goes over $100 a barrel with high inventory, we have the Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi responding by saying, "We cannot put oil in markets that don't need it."

Can Saudi Arabia boost oil output in times of tight supply?

With recent unrest sweeping the Middle East and Northern Africa, oil supply concerns are a big factor pushing prices higher, and one possible solution to capping prices has been raised that Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s leading oil exporter should lift oil output quotas to balance any shortfall in oil supply. But is this a real possibility, or just small talk?

U.S. could tap oil reserves as gasoline price surges

WASHINGTON/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The government reiterated that it could tap its strategic oil reserves in order to safeguard economic growth as surging gasoline prices increase pressure for action.

While longstanding U.S. policy is to release reserves only in the event of a significant and immediate supply shortage, some analysts say the Obama administration may feel compelled to try to tamp down prices that are being fueled both by outages in Libya and concern unrest could spread in the Middle East.

Would tapping oil reserve help in wake of Libya?

Economist and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich (who is author of "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future"), said this morning on CBS' "The Early Show" that it might make sense to at least suggest tapping into the reserve because of the rise in oil futures.

"Americans are still trying to get out of the gravitational pull of the great recession," Reich said, "and so, the higher gas prices at the pump are undoubtedly going to be a blow. It's not going to dramatically slow down the recovery. But it could definitely slow it down."

No need yet for coordinated oil stock release - IEA

(Reuters) - A coordinated release of strategic oil stocks is not yet needed because the global oil supply disruption caused by an uprising in Libya remains limited, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Monday.

Middle East Unrest Could Cut Global Gas Supplies by 3%, Goldman Sachs Says

Global natural gas supplies could be reduced by about 3 percent if production cuts in Libya spread to other producing nations in the Middle East, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) said in a report dated March 6.

Libyan warplanes strike rebels at oil port

RAS LANOUF, Libya – Libyan warplanes launched fresh airstrikes on rebel positions around a key oil port Monday, trying to block the opposition fighters from advancing toward Moammar Gadhafi's stronghold in the capital, Tripoli.

Rebels in the area said they can take on Gadhafi's elite ground forces, but are outgunned if he uses his air power.

Qaddafi Escalates War Against Rebels as Libyan Conflict Deepens

Libyan troops loyal to Muammar Qaddafi used artillery and helicopter gunships to block the rebels’ advance west from the oil hub of Ras Lanuf toward the leader’s hometown of Sirte.

Libyan rebels committed to cause

The shock and speed of the rebellion, which began Feb. 15, has been opposed by a well-armed force of Gadhafi loyalists made up of mercenaries, militias and military, but the level of training of the pro-Gadhafi forces is unclear. Thousands of Gadhafi's soldiers defected, and large swaths of the eastern portion of the country have fallen under rebel control.

Morgan Stanley cancels all Libya oil trade

(Reuters) - Wall Street bank Morgan Stanley has stopped trading crude and refined products with Libya to comply with U.S. sanctions against the Gaddafi government, a source familiar with the firm's transactions said.

All contracts were cancelled over the past week "due to the OFAC," he said, referring to the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control, which controls trade sanctions.

Prostesters enter third week of demonstrations in Bahrain

Pearl Square has turned into a village of its own as protesters here enter their third week of a challenge to a royal family that has ruled for two centuries. Having wrested control of the square from authorities following a bloody battle with soldiers, the protesters here say they won't leave until they have an elected government in this small island country in the oil-rich Persian Gulf.

Chinese police stay on alert for anti-government rallies

In Shanghai, police detained at least 17 foreign reporters at the protest site, People's Square, because they did not have prior permission to be there.

Several lawyers who handle human rights cases have disappeared since the protest calls began. Some activists have been detained and charged with subversion, which can result in long jail terms.

Saudis Monitor Bahrain As Protesters Demand Change

Anti-government protests are entering their fourth week in the island nation of Bahrain with no end in sight. The monarchy says it's ready for talks with its critics, but some in the opposition insist the government step down. Bahrain's neighbor, oil-giant Saudi Arabia, is anxiously watching the unrest.

Mideast strife may be a boon to ally up north

The American Petroleum Institute has been an advocate for Canada's oil sands projects for years, but oil supply worries tied to turmoil in North Africa are coinciding conveniently with a recently revamped push for the heavy crude source to our north.

BP, Russia Arctic Oil Drilling Hits Legal Roadblock

Recently, BP and the Russian government announced they planned to begin drilling ventures in the Arctic region in the Kara Sea. But concerns from Russian shareholders in the vertically integrated Russian oil company TNK-BP have created a roadblock. The Russian shareholders have expressed concern over the Russian government allowing Rosneft and BP to partner up to be a major player in drilling oil from the Arctic region. Now a new attempt will be made to hopefully create mutual agreements between BP and Russian shareholders in TNK-BP.

China approves $9 billion Sinopec-Kuwait project

(Reuters) - China has approved a $9 billion oil refining and petrochemical joint venture between Kuwait and Sinopec, two sources told Reuters on Monday.

The project, to be built in the southern coastal city of Zhanjiang , will secure Kuwait, the world's seventh-largest crude exporter, a solid outlet for its oil, ahead of competing investors such as Venezuela, Russia and Qatar, all of which are planning refineries in China.

Any Export in Storm -- Potential for LNG Exports

Salisbury noted that large energy consumers consistently warn that a "rush to gas" in U.S. electric generation and other uses could lead to a spike in demand and prices despite abundant shale resources. Instead of exporting gas, manufacturers would rather "import demand" by bringing jobs in the manufacturing and chemical sectors back to the U.S.

India seeks a future in gas

Output of 3.8 billion cubic feet per day was India's highest in a decade, surpassing that of Turkmenistan, a major gas exporter with the world's fourth largest reserves.

An increasing number of analysts see this as the tip of the iceberg. Some predict India could become self-sufficient in gas within a decade, following the recent example of the US, which in the past five years has swung from regarding gas as a scarce national commodity to converting LNG import terminals into export facilities.

The problem is that new gas output in India would probably not come from conventional gas deposits that are easy to produce, but from unconventional resources such as deep gas, shale gas and coal-bed methane.

The Putin-Barroso Gas Summit Flares Up EU-Russia relations

Russia and the EU Commission held a summit in Brussels in late February, which mainly focused on energy relations. Vladimir Putin headed the Russian delegation and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso headed the EU delegation. The agenda of the visit of the Russian delegation included three issues: Russia’s accession to the WTO; the EU-Russia energy trade; and the free visa regime for Russians traveling to the EU.

Oil Spill No Reason to Halt Deep Sea Drilling: BP Chairman

Last year's massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill sparked by an explosion on a BP-leased platform is no reason to stop deep sea drilling, the group's chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, said Monday.

"If we truly learn from this accident, I see no reason to close off the deep water as an area for future oil exploration and production," BP chairman Svanberg told a conference in the southern Swedish city of Malmoe on oil spill risk management.

Manila says gas testing stopped after China boat incident

(Reuters) - Seismic testing for gas in the South China Sea by an Anglo-Filipino consortium has been halted after an incident in which Manila says two Chinese boats threatened to ram a survey ship, the government said on Monday.

U.S. can't move away from foreign oil

Why don't we say so long to foreign sources of oil? Simple, we can't. United States start moving away from our dependency on foreign sources of oil? Never happen.

Very few people understand the scope, breadth and complexity of the dire global, and especially the U.S., oil problem. A few applied metrics, inconvenient as they may be, may help to dispel any magical thinking.

Investing In Vermont: Profiting from Peak Oil

Conflict in Egypt and Libya are the cause of the recent spike in oil prices, which rose to above $100 per barrel last week. While there remains little chance of a significant disruption to the world's oil supply, the jump in the price of oil demonstrates just how fragile the market is.

Today, we are at or very near Peak Oil, which refers to a point in time when global oil production reaches its peak and begins its indefinite decline. Unfortunately for consumers, as oil production decreases, the price will likely head higher.

There are no good outcomes

There are no good outcomes, only bad, really bad, and catastrophic. Take your pick. Could gas prices drop below $3.00 per gallon if the world sinks back into recession? Yes. But it would only be momentary. The easy to access supply is dwindling. The medium and long term direction of gas at the pump is up. There is nothing that can be done in the next five years to prevent significantly higher oil prices.

Speirs to run federally for NDP

The environment was a prevalent theme at the meeting, along with criticism of the MP Randy Kamp and the Harper government.

"Locally produced food is becoming more and more important and we need to become more self-sufficient," Speirs said. "Peak oil and peak water are real and will challenge our society in a very basic way. We all need to eat and drink."

Are Car Makers Purposely Not Promoting Electric Cars? Do we really want to hold onto Fossil Fuel driven vehicles?

The Toyota Prius evolved as the focus changed to Hybrids, but questions again came up as to why the auto industry seemed to almost fight having a fully electric car? Why the refused to make the investment in research or develop the market for the vehicles?

For Electric Car Owners, a Way to Share Juice

Xatori, a Silicon Valley software start-up, aims to create a network of electric car enthusiasts who make their household power outlets and home chargers available for drivers who need to top off their battery or who find themselves out of range of the few public-charging stations currently available.

Libya's Crisis and $4 Per Gallon Gas vs. Renewable Energy

Germany's energy program is going so well it could produce enough to power the entire country by 2050. In 2009, 8 percent of America's power came from alternative sources, not enough to break away from our collective oil addiction. Why can't the U.S. fall in line?

China and Europe Steaming Ahead on Clean Energy, not the U.S.

China and Europe are getting more and more aggressive in their clean energy push. Meanwhile, Republicans and some Democrats in U.S. Congress and state leadership are steering the U.S. towards economic suicide with anti-clean-energy policies and proposals.

Energy Geeks Converge on M.I.T.

Now in its sixth year, the M.I.T. Energy Conference has established itself as a popular destination for industry wonks, venture capitalists and freelance energy geeks looking for a glimpse into how techno-visionaries hope to solve a daunting problem: providing energy for the planet’s six billion people reliably, affordably and, ideally, without making a mess.

Little pessimism was on display at Friday night’s “Energy Showcase.”

3 Environmental Groups to Sue Water District

The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is an area the size of New Jersey where little marine life survives because algae suck virtually all oxygen from the water. Two years ago, the federal government found that Chicago is the largest single source of the phosphorus and nitrogen that feed those life-killing algae.

Now, three environmental groups that have long blamed the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago for much of the pollution that makes its way down the Chicago, Illinois and Mississippi Rivers have filed formal notice of intent to sue the district for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act.

UK energy use fell by 5% in eight years

The UK is one of the top performers in Europe on energy efficiency, according to a European Commission report .

Energy use fell by more than 5% from 2000 to 2008 in the UK – the only major European economy to see a drop. Germany's consumption held level, while France's rose 7%. Overall, energy use in the 27 EU countries increased by more than 4%.

Carbon Pricing Lowest-Cost Option on Climate Change, Australia's Swan Says

Australia risks falling behind countries such as China in reducing greenhouse gas pollution without a price on emissions that will ensure the “health and prosperity” of the economy, Treasurer Wayne Swan said.

Kyoto extension must include U.S., China: U.N. climate head

The head of the U.N. climate convention cautioned last week against Japan's opposition to setting a new phase of commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to fight global warming, and chided opponents for their "simplistic thinking."

EU Won't Seek Tougher Emissions Goal, Permit Set-Aside, Draft Shows

The European Union will recommend that the bloc focus on achieving its existing emission-reduction targets and won’t propose setting aside any carbon allowances in 2013, according to a draft document.

Chinese ducks in a row for climate negotiations

(OneWorld.net) - Publication of its 12th Five Year Plan has put flesh on the bones of China's energy pledges made in international climate change negotiations. By contrast, Congressional budget wrangling renders U.S. emissions targets less convincing by the day.

North Korea seeks to earn hard currency via carbon credits

Impoverished North Korea, facing sanctions over its nuclear weapons programme, hopes to earn much-needed hard currency by selling U.N.-backed carbon offsets from a series of hydro-power projects.

Fridges in Mexico restaurant hold key to UN's carbon emissions targets

A small restaurant chain in Mexico city is about to play a pioneering role in a UN scheme to reduce carbon emissions at grass roots level.

The pilot scheme is a new variant on the UN's troubled clean development mechanism (CDM), a system established by the Kyoto process that allows rich countries to meet emissions targets by funding clean energy projects in developing countries. Until recently, the CDM was open only to large individual projects, leading to criticism that it missed a trick on smaller schemes cutting emissions, such as the use of energy efficient light bulbs and more environmentally friendly stoves.

Data reveals carbon footprint of public sector buildings

How green is your primary school? It can be very hard to tell. The information exists, but is rarely published.

Until now, that is. The Centre for Sustainable Energy has unearthed the energy efficiency details of more than 40,000 public buildings - including schools, hospitals and council offices - through a Freedom of Information Act request. And using this handy map, you can pinpoint buildings in your area to discover how efficient - or inefficient - they are.

Experts say roads, ports could be in danger

HOUMA — Global warming could pose a threat to Port Fourchon and the roads that serve it, according to transportation advocates and port officials.

Coastal cities prepare for rising sea levels

Cities along California's coastline that for years have dismissed reports of climate change or lagged in preparing for rising sea levels are now making plans to fortify their beaches, harbors and waterfronts.

Communities up and down the coast have begun drafting plans to build up wetlands as buffers against rising tides, to construct levees and seawalls to keep the waters at bay or to retreat from the shoreline by moving structures inland.

Among them is Newport Beach, a politically conservative city where a council member once professed to not believe in global warming. Now, the wealthy beach city is considered to be on the forefront of preparing for climate change.

Climate change 'will wreak havoc on Britain's coastline by 2050'

Millions living near the coast are likely to be hit by rising sea levels, erosion and storm surges, warns a new study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Climate change, biofuels threaten food security-FAO

(Reuters) - Climate change bringing floods and drought, growing biofuel demand and national policies to protect domestic markets could drive up global food prices and threaten long-term food security, the United Nations said.

High and volatile food prices are a growing global concern, partly fuelling the protests that toppled the rulers of Tunisia and Egypt this year. The aftershocks have been seen across North Africa and the Middle East from Algeria to Yemen.

Periods of price volatility are not new to agriculture, but recent price shocks triggered by extreme weather and increasing use of grains to produce energy have caused great concern, the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization said.

So on virtually any MSM comment section I've run across where oil prices are being disussed the masses have placed the blame for this latest run-up in prices squarely on the back of the speculators.

Is there any general information regarding speculation that can provide a rebuttal to this line of thinking - or is the whole subject just hopelessly complex and the "speculation = high oil prices" can't be effectively countered in a only a paragraph or two ?

I realize this has been discussed in great length and probably had various key posts written here at TOD but I'm wondering about a concentrated, sound bite version that I could essentially cut and paste into the debate - because frankly I don't want to waste much time on it since there are much "bigger things afoot" that people need to be turned on to...

I've tried explaining shrinking supplies, ELM etc. but I don't think those can have any impact until the speculation idea is crushed effectively... from the discussions I've had so far people just can't get past that; so in order to ease them into the realm of supply restrictions and the fact that the world is not awash in oil an effective counter to the speculation meme must be employed. (That is if you think people are inclined to be educated about the subject in the first place - I'm pretty skeptical myself - my experience indicates that most people already think they are downright experts on the subject. My test: "Have you every read any of the stuff over at The Oil Drum ?" - "No..." - "Then you're not an expert and probably have no idea what you're talking about...")

I've learned it's always helpful to grant a point, so try this: "You are right that speculators are causing the problem. Millions of them. They go long on physical delivery by around 25 gallons, but find they are short the market every couple of weeks."


What shrinking supply...?

Every time I mention that outside of the Oil Drum, I always get the same response...,

We have more oil than Saudi Arabia, or, we have more oil than the Middle East...

Then I mention, most of that is not really oil but Keragen. I also ask at what rate of production would this junk be produced.

I never get a response.

But there are many people in this country convinced, even if I mention U.S. oil production peaked in 1970 or '71..., we are swimming in a sea of oil....

Please insert favorite scapegoat here..., environmentalists, govt. land, oil companies trying to prevent the development of alternative energy, etc....

Rising gas prices…, SPECULATORS…!

There are also gabillions of barrels of hydrocarbons on the Moons of Endor.

But that kind of science sarcasm goes right off the edge of the EROI radar scope of most people.

Heck they never even owned an EROI radar scope.

[ i.mage.+]

There's no such thing as EROIE or net energy either....

Trust me....

Most people believe what they want to believe and don't want to hear bad news.....

And there are plenty of people ready, willing and able to deliver the news they want to hear.....

I think it's a losing battle....

We are just going to have to let the chips fall where they may......

As of 12:05 EDT guy on CNBC currently claiming that "real" price of oil should be $75 per barrel and that anything above is due to speculation and ETFs since so many traders are now moving money to oil and are flush with money to the extent that they go in with a "no fear" attitude.

He also made the dubious claim that there are no fundamental reasons for this price spike since global supplies are "increasing by 100,000 bpd"... I have no idea what he meant by that number other than that these clowns never shy away from playing fast and loose with the numbers when it supports their positions...

In July '08 TOD member SamuM gave us this excellent DB post on speculation, which I bookmarked; you may find it useful, he provided copious links to bolster his arguments. All of the papers on speculation I've perused agree that it is both short term and of limited effect. There have been a few TOD posts on it too.

Every time I mention that outside of the Oil Drum, I always get the same response

I posted this late last night at the end of the previous DB, but I thought it was worth a redux:

Jon Talton: Higher oil prices are a danger to economic recovery

Behind the upheaval in the Middle East, however, the more interesting and ominous oil story is to be found.

A well informed piece that hits all of the high points of the peak oil argument, and with unusual clarity. I was also quite pleased to find it remarkably free from delusional thinking, including wild eyed hand waving about so-called "renewables" (which is just another word for "let's blow a whole bunch of fossil fuels on some techno boondoggles").

A long quote from TOD figures prominently (although it is not specifically attributed to an author), Matt Simmons also gets a mention, and the column even closes with a quote from James Howard Kunstler!

Even more remarkable than the content is the fact that the column appears in the business section of what is usually a relatively conservative newspaper, at least by Seattle standards.


That is a nice article

I was also quite pleased to find it remarkably free from delusional thinking, including wild eyed hand waving about so-called "renewables" (which is just another word for "let's blow a whole bunch of fossil fuels on some techno boondoggles").

And that statement is what I would describe as just another pile of finely refined yak dung!

Unfortunately without investing in renewables we will end up with absolutely nothing. Of course if we don't spend some of what is still left of our fossil fuel inheritance to to help set in place a non fossil fuel based paradigm we can still continue with BAU for a little while longer. That's The Party on Dude's crowd, kind of thinking.

The few realists among us think of it this way... the lone well from which we now get our drinking and bathing water is drying up. We have a choice, we can all drink and bathe until it's completely gone and then we all die of thirst. Game over! Or we can stop bathing now and use what little we have left to quench the thirst of the sweaty stinking workers who are digging a new well, knowing full well, that it won't even have half as much water as we have now but it might allow us just enough to drink and survive. And anyone who dares use that little muddy water from it, for bathing, should be shot on sight.

That my friends, is the new energy paradigm and no amount of delusional hand waving claiming that we shouldn't be using our limited fossil fuel resources to invest in expensive alternative energy because it will never provide us with the lifestyles we have grown accostumed to, will change that reality.

Not that any of this reality seems to have have sunk in with most people and nor does it seem that it ever will, certainly not before the well runs completely dry and we find ourselves sitting around blaming each other while we sit in the dust, dieing of thirst and fantasizing about a cold shower.

The few realists among us think of it this way

So, I'm going to guess here that you think being a "realist" is a good thing? But really, there is more going on in that statement than merely a claim to see "realistically." By staking the territory as such, claiming a special relationship to what everyone else should see is OBVIOUSLY the truth, whatever follows is thus depicted as information, unbiased and unfettered by an agenda, to be handed down from someone who knows. As another poster suggested - yak dung.

Unfortunately without investing in renewables we will end up with absolutely nothing.

Did you ever consider that this actually might be a good thing? (The nothing?) As opposed to some fawning nostalgia for the good ole days of excess?

delusional hand waving claiming that we shouldn't be using our limited fossil fuel resources to invest in expensive alternative energy

I don't know Jerry McManus well enough to know whether his opposition to "alternative energy" is based in a desire to save as much oil for BAU as possible, if he's looking for a managed decline, or if he simply is a Luddite. Clearly, though, you think that you have him pegged and deride him for not seeing your take on "reality." Frankly, the repressive ("shot on sight"), muddling, long descent into a poverty made a little less horrible by protection of a small number of technocrats (new well diggers) is a long way from anything I'd want to see. That vision is not "realism," it is defeatism of the worst sense. It gives up BAU in order to maintain some shadow of BAU.

As for me, I'd rather see how the chips fall and work toward creating new communities of meaning.

So, I'm going to guess here that you think being a "realist" is a good thing?

LOL! No actually I think sucks!

As for me, I'd rather see how the chips fall and work toward creating new communities of meaning.

Whatever that means... Though I'm a bit curious how you plan on powering your community once you have no more fossil fuel.

Though I'm a bit curious how you plan on powering your community once you have no more fossil fuel.

That's exactly what I was getting at. Look at the very way you pose what you think the issue is - where's your power going to come from?

Perhaps it is possible to imagine communities that are worth living in, but that don't require electrical or ICE power sources.

Perhaps it is possible to imagine communities that are worth living in, but that don't require electrical or ICE power sources.

Sure! And while I don't think most of us will have private ICE powered automobiles to carry us around, I see no reason why we can't have limited amounts of electricity. Can I imagine communities with out any electricity, yes I can. Though I don't think I'd necessarily want to live in those communities if I didn't have to

I grew up in Sao Paulo Brazil we had rolling blackouts all the time. We didn't have a car and took the bus. I also traveled to rural communities in Brazil that had no electricity. They had kerosene lanterns no running water and no refrigeration, they survived. I think we can and should do better than that.

They had kerosene lanterns no running water and no refrigeration, they survived. I think we can and should do better than that.

Because you are measuring the material aspects of their "survival" you think these people have a lesser life than you - and there life is not one you'd settle for.

Consider, perhaps, that those are not the aspects of "survival" that are important.

I don't know anything about the rural communities you visited. Certainly there are places that are poor materially and in other ways.

But I've also visited places that most of us would consider poor from a material perspective, but who were far richer in other ways - sense of social place, belonging, spiritual growth, connection to nature, and so on.

As long as we measure our success by material well-being, we condemn ourselves to forever being compared to circa 1972 consumption levels (or was it 2006 that was peak consumption).

Yeh,sure, maybe we're all spoiled and like to use up some of those electrons on things like electric lights and the internet. I think we can have a pretty conservative life without using gobs of electricity but don't see the point of living completely without it. Back packing, for example, is fun, but I don't want to do that 24/7. Not judging those without but have no desire to do without.

But what are we even talking about? No cut back will occur until it is forced by circumstances.

Anyway, given your views, I wonder why you just don't start now and get off the internet. I am not trying to be snarky; it just seems like you should walk your talk.

No doubt the level of comfort that will be lost over the next few decades will impact many, especially with respect to temperature differential. But even at that, our bodies are pretty amazing at their ability to adjust to, acclimate to different temperatures. When I was growing up in Miami air-conditioning was not nearly as ubiquitous as it is now, and we thought nothing of going out and playing touch football on the asphalt of the street in 90 degree plus weather.

I suspect that you are correct that no cut back will occur until it is forced by circumstances. The question is, how prepared will you be when those circumstances arrive - and just how confident are you that you will know when those circumstances are reached. (That's the generic you).

As for my internet use - it is something I do pretty much only when I am at work. It is a way to fill time, avoid doing what I should be doing, etc - I work, because I have to, they get their money's worth from me, so I feel no guilt. But this would otherwise be water cooler time.

On the weekends you will primarily find me in the garden or with my kids (or both).

But I've also visited places that most of us would consider poor from a material perspective, but who were far richer in other ways - sense of social place, belonging, spiritual growth, connection to nature, and so on.

It sounds like you have some romantic notion about people happily living in tents, cooking by wood stove, all beating their drums in some male fantasy involving bonding, sweat and the like.

Perhaps the ancient Greeks who survived childhood illness and accidents had a 60 yr life. That was a mild climate. In N Europe, though, things were not all hunkey dorey... and with the numbers of people we have on Planet Earth firewood would be gone very quickly. Not sustainable! I would call your vision disznosag (sorry, Fred. Couldn't resist.)

I hate reality, but see it much as FM does. We will need some electric to enable even a good percentage to survive. My fear is that we have a catastrophic population adjustment. One that could realistically threaten the species.

So. What I see is hydro power, some nukes (especially in the short to mid term), solar and wind, geothermal, and tidal power. Our numbers eventually will be limited by how much of the long term power paradigm we are able to develop. Right now shortages of capital, materials and willpower serve to diminish my normal sanguine nature. And, Fred's approach is at least realistic, and allows for some hope. Withdrawing to the campfires is NOT sustainable.


Keep in mind the timescales involved. We are all children of an industrial society and mostly don't have the skills to live without our fossil fuel energy inputs. And thanks to FF there are way more of us than could be supported without those energy inputs. But we are not going to live long enough to see what kind of society develops, that will happen several generations from now. We will live in a time of chaos and transition. Things will not change all at once, so there will still be energy around, just less reliably and more expensive. By the time there is no more central electricity there will be far fewer of us. So relax, you won't have to sing Kumbaya around the campfire.

On the other hand, there have been people living in North America and Northern Europe for much longer than we've had access to FF, and I'm not buying that they were all miserable. On the other other hand, who the hell knows what the climate will be here anyway.

We are all children of an industrial society and mostly don't have the skills to live without our fossil fuel energy inputs.

Yes a very important observation, which will determine much of the chaos and suffering which will ultimately result from lack of convenient fuel and energy.

The climate situation though will be an absolute world wide disaster. Our own species survival is problematic. Storms Of My Grandchildren (Hanson), is terrifying. I'm a reader and wish I wasn't. I read too much, think too much and because of it worry too damn much. I wish I knew Jack Schitt, people keep telling me I know him.

We are all children of an industrial society and mostly don't have the skills to live without our fossil fuel energy inputs.

Yes a very important observation, which will determine much of the chaos and suffering which will ultimately result from lack of convenient fuel and energy.

I think the human majority will prefer death to toil. We are slave-owners (see: Prophets of Doom, Nate Hagen's phrase: "energy slaves") who once we must heat our homes ourselves, wash our own dishes, walk and carry, repair, combat entropy, grow food, etc., so as I said, most humans will probably end up hanging themselves, jumping off derelict bridges, committing seppuku, or simply walking into the dark to never return.

On that note, there must have been many a desperate former plantation slave-owner post emancipation - I wonder if there would've been a huge spike in suicide pacts had someone been keeping track.

In short, rich people are lazy people, and we're all energy rich with lots of energy slaves, and many simply will not choose the hard life over an easy death!

I think that's a view of humanity fostered by Television as an unconscious way of justifying its world.. as the NYC Subway Poster said to me, "Don't just sit there. Well, Ok, just sit there. ABC."

Apart from my learned view of 'the masses', or 'the mainstream', the people I know in my life LIKE to work, like to have challenges, to learn skills, to make their way in the world, they like to sweat and strive and come out at the end of the day knowing they pushed the big block a little farther down the way.

I can hardly express how little reality I see in that closing statement.. even if it's a view I've heard repeated all my life.

An excellent point. In fact, I have considered the likelihood that the wealthy are preparing for slave labor as their energy source in the mid to long term.


Disznosag? Yum!

Gives a whole new meaning to pigskin gloves


There is no actuall contradiction between what the two of you are saying. All is conected. We destroy nature because we have lost our conection to it. We have lost our conection to nature because we are rich and have all these techno gadgets and lives in cities. We are rich and all that because we over-tax (destroy) nature. We are to many to live "back to nature" because we became rich and could afford to multiply. We can not stop the destruction - no matter the amount of new amazing technologies - of the planet because we are to many, and to rich.

If I had the option to die of old age at 60 years on a planet that was not dieing, I would jump at the opurtunity. But when I was born on this planet 1977 the world was already heading this way and there is no way to stop it.

No disagreement there. Just dismay.


I don't know where your notion of romantic comes from. Living in tents? No, I'm more interested in round houses. Cooking by wood stove? it's not what you cook with, but what you cook that matters to me. Beating drums? bonding? sweat? Besides the rather obvious homoerotic implications of the way you word this, what is wrong with music, social interaction and hard work?

As for hunky dory lives, are you aware that life expectancy went down after the advent of large scale agriculture? While the samples are not real large the further back you go, archeologists generally think that life expectancy in neolithic societies was 45+ years. This fell into the 30's once agriculture enters the scene (indeed, it is one of the most perplexing archeological questions - why would neolithic people willingly move from societies of relative leisure and longer life to societies of hard work and poorer health? - while not a conclusive answer, at least in Europe it looks like this was lead by women, so the thought is that infant survivability may have been enhanced). We wouldn't reach that 45+ again until the mid 19th century. (See Steven Mithen's "After the Ice" for a good summary of this time period.

You are absolutely correct that a lifestyle based on using wood is unsustainable for 7 billion plus people. But then, I don't see any existing lifestyle as sustainable for 7 billion plus people. But I love you guys who have a lock on what "reality" is. My expectation is that a century from now we will not be questioning how many can survive. I suspect we will be around 2 billion souls, perhaps less. And I don't see any centralized systems surviving at all.

If we have any sense, we will tear down the hydroelectric dams in the hope that the watersheds can recover. We won't pursue nuclear as an unnecessarily complex solution and we'll start dealing with solar and wind as sources of locally generated power for use in special circumstances. A solar water heater, solar oven, and a windmill are all valuable sourced of power that could be used to keep us from stripping the planet of trees.

But this is only my hope - my expectation is that we will continue to try to maintain our "lifestyles" and in a paroxysm of self loathing we will rip apart the natural world with the misbegotten belief that it owes us and its not fair that we've lost all our toys. If anyone gets through that tumult, it will be those who are ready to live with almost nothing material, but who know that the meaning of life lies not in what you have, but in what you are.

My guess on the reason for the move to agriculture is that agricultural communities could support more warriors on less acerage, so were more effective communities than their hunter-gatherer rivals.

They also allowed for the formation of entrenched elites, and I suspect that is what led to the reduction in lifespan more than agriculture as such. (I think it also explains the persistence of agricultural communities even after lifespans started declining...)

The advent of full-time warriors comes much later - after the rise of irrigation.

The discussion of "entrenched elites" is a little more open as to timing - some think it came before agriculture, some after. But in general, the belief is that lifespan came down because diet changed, became narrower and included less protein at the same time that physical stress increased (more work).

After sleeping on this, I believe I have come up with another reason for the rise of agriculture:

More reliable food.

Farming does not preclude hunting, and in fact hunting and fishing are still major contributors to the food supplies of the world.

It does cut down on the number of days/year that the farmers go hungry, however.

Would you trade a quarter of your lifespan to cut the number of days you have to do without food in half?

I think that's along the same line as the logic about it being women who led the shift in SE Europe. The survivability of infants increases, in part, because of the more regular availability of food. The trade off for more babies surviving is higher levels of malnutrition, disease and shorter life. But one would think that the individual making that decision (e.g., to marry into a farming community) would not necessarily have seen the complete picture.

Unfortunately, the amount of time that is required for farming radically reduced the ability to get supplemental nutrition from hunting and fishing. And then, settled lifestyles themselves further contributed by creating zones around the settlements that became inhospitable to wildlife - meaning that hunters had to travel further to find game, thereby increasing the amount of time that it would take away from farming.

Of course, this is speculation, because, apart from being able to track extended periods of nutritional deficiency in bone development, we don't really have any good evidence about the day to day food intake of either neolithic peoples or early farmers . We do know, however, that there were non-farming settled communities and migrating communities that had substantial storage facilities. These are typically seen as developmental "steps" on the way from full H&G communities to agricultural communities - but I'm personally wary of seeing anything as steps on some road of progress or telos.

And of course, many neolithic groups "helped" the wild grains on their way toward domestication AND maintained "gardens" of helper plants - culinary, medicinal and ritual.

Lots of questions, but all of this gives me reason to think that the possible varieties of community available to us in a post peak world may be far greater (and more successful) than we may commonly imagine.

We can never really know why people chose agriculture, not for certain, and your guesses as to the reasons seem at least as plausible as my own.

As to the shape of things to come, what you say has always been my position on the matter. People will try every bad idea in the book, and with just a little bit of luck some places will choose to live in ways that are good enough to get by. Some might even thrive by means I can only vaguely guess.

The survivability of infants increases, in part, because of the more regular availability of food.

I wonder if child mortality really decreased. It might have been simply more children being born.

In a foraging society, births are naturally spaced 3-5 years apart. The combination of breastfeeding and the constant exercise of walking suppresses fertility. This was necessary, because strollers hadn't been invented yet, and a woman couldn't carry more than one child at a time. Once they settled down, they could have babies every year, rather than every 3-5 years.

That may very well be. The direction of causality here is merely speculation. And even at that, I'm not sure I completely buy the argument that women made this choice for fertility reasons, of any kind. On top of which, this really was speaking only of the introduction of agriculture into SE Europe - and European Neolithic culture seems to have hit some sort of other crisis as well, as evidenced by levels of violence not seen in other Neolithic sites.

I actually don't think it was a conscious choice. Rather, as r4ndom says, the farmers simply outcompeted the foragers.

Also, keep in mind that at first, it would have looked like all benefits, no costs. It's looking like what happened was that people settled down long before they took up farming, in particularly hospitable areas. That is, in places where the land was so productive that they didn't have to travel, and they didn't have to farm, either. They had no way of knowing what this would eventually lead to, any more than the first people who bought horseless carriages could foresee the happy motoring lifestyle and the asphalt wonderland that would result.

Hi Leanan - don't know if you check back on the old DrumBeats - but I'll respond anyway as this is a topic I find intensely interesting (and suggestive for dealing with the future).

As you suggest, I would think that for the vast majority of societies that moved from foraging through incipient ag to full scale agriculture, that there was no conscious decision. Though in most areas there really wasn't a competition aspect to the transition as populations were small AND frequently the transition happened over generations until some generation just stopped "breaking camp" and started building square buildings.

What is "different" about SE Europe is that it appears what was happening was that excess population from the Levantine, Anatolian and trans-Caucasian agricultural societies were moving into Europe, destabilizing already stressed neolithic cultures and absorbing them into the agricultural life (or, at least the women, as the argument posed by the genetic researchers goes). Remember also that agriculture comes quite late to Europe in comparison. And certainly the technology did eventually skip forward of the population migration and was picked up by Celtic groups (and later Germanic groups coming out of the steppes).

Even comparing SE Europe to other areas where agriculture "migrated" suggests just how twisted that corner of the world was. When agriculture came to the Indus river valley (somehow jumping over an immense desert area) it was to an essentially empty cultural landscape - the local cultures having apparently been wiped out by a devastating flood or series of floods. And in South America where agriculture started in the highlands and was brought down to the coastal plains, two sets of apparently scarcely interacting groups of sedentary societies lived side by side for centuries, one based on agriculture, the other based on "ocean foraging."

Okay - I'm getting long winded - but interesting stuff - thanks for your insightful comments.

Says the guy posting on a computer.

Go live without electricity for a few years and tell us how you like it.

Life is much much better with electricity.

You can imagine all sorts of things.

I don't see electricity or plumbing or heat as anything I need to simply extricate from life altogether.. I don't think these are the things which make a community vital or keep us devoid of vitality, as you might be seen to suggest with your remarks..

For several generations up to several centuries, we have lived with some level of artificial light and heated homes, while some other tools, such as the basic radio or telephone have great advantages to 'sending a card by horseback' .. and to me are a very good reason (or example anyway) for why not to abandon electronics.

That doesn't preclude our need to keep examining how we form community and how we approach life.

I'm not sold on the electronics (despite how I'm writing this), but in general I can acquiesce with your point of view. Perhaps where we end up will include some sort of electrical power (certainly not centralized production and distribution over long distance), but fixating on this particular aspect of the future is what I see as the failure to imagine what is possible. Too much of the defense of "alternatives" is based on some misbegotten belief that the current world is the best of all possible (Pangloss) and thus a desperate attempt to recreate it for the future, albeit on some not quite as grandiose scale.

As you suggest, we must constantly work at forming communities that make our lives worth living. And that "worthiness" might not have anything to do with how far we travel in a day or how much "power" we consume.

FMagyar and Shaman:

I see both your points and IMHO, it's fairly nuanced, not black and white as some would wish.

IMO, the remaining FF's should be shifted to transition efforts ASAP, but should is a meaningless word. Either it will be shifted or it won't. If it is shifted, the problem is:

Picking one horse in the race is a big risk and spreading your bets can waste a valuable resource, to say nothing of snake oil and crackpot schemes that will be clawing for every dime,

I have been wracking my brain, trying to figure out my path forward and so far, I think the best approach is to learn as much as you can and stay nimble. Sure, basic preparations make sense. Collect skills, knowledge, form relationships, stock tools and food.

For now, I think the key is to be very aware, so you can recognize the signs, and either hunker down, run, fight back or collaborate. Possibly all four over time.

This may sound like fence sitting, because it is.

My point is; Predicting how this will all play out is futile. Every culture, every region is going to suffer the pain at a different time, in a different way. The responses will be just as varied.

All that said, don't ignore the obvious. If you live in a part of the world where your neighbors are convinced that it's just god's will, or a communist plot, book the next Greyhound outta there.

I hope this makes sense.

[edit] bad formatting

Makes sense, Pragma, especially the line about the Greyhound - unfortunately, the number or places in the U.S. that aren't as you describe are few and far between these days.

I know it's a problem, but I couldn't help but chuckle.

From my experience, Maine, Vermont, Oregon and Washington seem fairly sane.

To paraphrase Meatloaf:

Four outta fifty ain't bad.


""I have been wracking my brain, trying to figure out my path forward""

The path of Soto Zen, if one has the capacity, will allow you to stop "wracking" your brain.

When so many others decide to step off the technology Merry-Go-Round, they will be in a better place as well.

The path of the river, is to the ocean. How could it be otherwise?
The Martian.

The path of the river, is to the ocean. How could it be otherwise?
The Martian.

You could end up on a dry plain in Africa, forming a huge delt plain with an interesting eco system. Or you could end up in a very saltplace known as "The Dead Sea". And these days there are many other options as well; you could be spread out on fields, be dammed up and evaporate, be feed into cities and drunk up, never to reach the ocean. Many ways of this these days.

I see it more as, "The path of the river is what it is. It ends up where it ends up. The point is not where you are going, but where you are."

My favorite line of Daniel Quinn's, from "The Story of B", is "Destiny will take care of itself."

I spent half a dozen years completely buying Jay Hanson's view of the ineluctable post-peak die-off. I spent a lot of emotional and intellectual energy "proving" to myself and everyone who would listen that there was about to be a massive crash of civilization and population, with universal immiseration for all. It took me a long time to understand that what I was seeing wasn't reality, it was just the inside of my own eyelids.

In the process of working myself through that Dark Night of the Soul I did discover a few things of lasting value, the main one being that everything is connected and that the root of our predicament seems to lie in the fact that we have forgotten what that means. Beyond that, I recognized the enormous variety of the human experience, now and in the past, and that we have managed to thrive - physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually - in the most unlikely of environments. If there are too many of us right now to sit around the fire and sing, there will probably be fewer of us later. And getting there won't be nearly as horrifying as some believe, because we'll find happiness around us on the way there. We always do - with or without electricity and running water.

The river flows on. There is nothing to be done.

Nicely said.

We were discussing the Buddhist "observer" the other day. This fits well with that discussion as well.

Well said. Too many need to come to the realization that we are only temporary and that we are not in control. We can imagine a lot of futures, but we have little ability to make them happen and our lives are too short for any of us to experience how these imagined futures actually play out. Life is what happens while you're waiting for the end of the world.

I don't know Jerry McManus well enough to know whether his opposition to "alternative energy" is based in a desire to save as much oil for BAU as possible, if he's looking for a managed decline, or if he simply is a Luddite.

I guess I would have to say "none of the above". I simply know from years of study on the topic that the so-called "renewables" require just as much fossil fuel input as the rest of our industrial civilization.

This for a meager return of electricity (crucially NOT liquid fuel) from sources that are far more diffuse, intermittent, and therefore lower quality than the millions of years of fossil sunlight cooked slowly in the Earth's crust that was used to build the collectors in the first place. Collectors that also must eventually be replaced, but with what?

Something the eponymous Yaks are loathe to talk about.

All the same, people much smarter than I am have said much the same thing, so please, by all means, don't take my word for it. I especially recommend the work of H. T. Odum for those seeking further elucidation on the topic.


Collectors that also must eventually be replaced, but with what?

Other collectors that we've recycled with this low quality, intermittent, diffuse energy from that flaming ball of hydrogen in the sky.

Indeed, renewables have been, are being, and certainly can be produced with renewable energy. The idea that they cannot be is simply bizarre.

Eventually, any energy produced will be of this type. But almost certainly on a scale that is a small fraction of the total energy produced today.

But more likely, runaway GW will wash away any attempts at constructing any kind of sustainable future (if political idiocy and economic disaster don't wash them away earlier, as seems likely right now.)

The oldest scientific publication in the world just published a paper predicting 4 degree C rise by mid century, and likely 5 degree (possible 7) rise by the end of the century. They did not seem to be fully figuring major feedbacks like methane and CO2 from seabed and tundra, so we can be sure that this is optimistic--4 degrees probable withing ten to thirty years.

Anyone who has read Mark Lynus's 'Six Degrees' (or anyone who knows anything about climate change predictions) will shudder that this is now what sober, reticent, conservative science is saying.

I guess I would have to say "none of the above". I simply know from years of study on the topic that the so-called "renewables" require just as much fossil fuel input as the rest of our industrial civilization.

If we are talking about the energy itself then wind or solar are not as you say, 'so-called' renewables. They are de facto renewable resources. Granted the instruments and machines we construct to harvest those sources of energy, to then in turn allow us to do useful work, do in fact require energy and raw material inputs. I don't dispute that.

However, you further state that you know unequivocally, based on many years of study, that these "renewables", require just as much fossil fuel input as the rest of our industrial civilization.

Really? That is a rather extraordinary claim. How so? Can you show me the numbers? And who was it that said that renewables can or should even attempt to be used to power an industrial civilization such as the one we have today?

Let's just say that I've done a bit of reading myself and have even had the opportunity to work with some of those very instruments we have built to harvest that renewable energy. Based on my own study and experience I disagree with your point.

The fundamental problem I see with your argument is that you haven't as yet gotten past, what I consider to be a deeply biased thought process. Basically it seems to me that you (and you are certainly not alone in this kind of thinking), are assuming the following:

1) We must have an industrial civilization of a similar sort to what we have now, nothing else is possible or desirable.

2) We simply can't afford to allocate any of our rapidly dwindling fossil fuel resources to build a new much less energy intense, alternative civilization, because why the heck would we wan't to invest our diminishing resources in a less complex and less energy intensive way of life that can't possibly be like the one we now have. It doesn't make sense.

3) The reason we can't afford to allocate our resources to alternative energy is because it takes as much or more energy to build out an alternative energy civilization as it takes to run and maintain the current civilization and there is no way we can possibly take any energy away from maintaining the current already collapsing system, even though any sane, thinking person knows it is unsustainable.

4) In other words you have pretty much convinced yourself that "renewables" require just as much fossil fuel input as the rest of our industrial civilization and any suggestion to the contrary is basically an attack against your core belief. Any evidence that, that may not actually be the case, is automatically rejected.

Disclaimer: I don't think any combination of renewables can or should be used to maintain our current civilization. I think that if we don't voluntarily dismantled it, it will collapse under it's own weight. If we end up with any level of industrial civilization it will need to be a completely different from what we have now and it will be based largely on renewable energy, nothing else will work.
We either find ways to build a sustainable civilization or we just won't have any civilization at all.
That which is not sustainable or renewable will simply cease to exist.


The fundamental problem I see with your argument is that you haven't as yet gotten past, what I consider to be a deeply biased thought process. Basically it seems to me that you (and you are certainly not alone in this kind of thinking), are assuming the following:

1) We must have an industrial civilization of a similar sort to what we have now, nothing else is possible or desirable.

Well, then you would be fundamentally wrong. I assume no such thing. I only skimmed the rest of your post, yes, because I "assumed" the other points only build on this fundamentally flawed statement.

And no, I won't bother rebutting any of it, someone will just attack me for being "fatalistic" as they have before. Rather tiresome, don't you think?


Actually, I agree that it was unwarranted to make so many assumptions about your position. As for fatalism, we have plenty here, but it would still might be interesting to hear your rebuttal.

Actually, I agree that it was unwarranted to make so many assumptions about your position.

To be fair, I did at least attempt to qualify what I said with "Basically it seems to me that...", in other words based on what Jerry was saying, that is what I assumed he was thinking. If that is not what he thinks then all he has to do is tell me so.

But again, I just can't accept the statement:renewables require just as much fossil fuel input as the rest of our industrial civilization, without some evidence to back it up.

No problem with your position. In any event, what other options do we have other than just to crawl up and die if renewables are hopeless. Maybe they are, but I have yet to see anything definitive making the case that we should abandon them. PV is still getting cheaper and there is so much we could do to cut back on energy use.

Frankly,however, I wouldn't really want to be around in 2050.

Frankly,however, I wouldn't really want to be around in 2050.

Chances are pretty good that I won't be, but my son will, unless average lifespans are drastically shortened for some reason, so I still feel that I have a very personal stake in the matter.

Thanks tstreet,

On the specifics of technological complexity, and that is what I mean when I refer to "renewables" as technological boondoggles, I thought this post at Energy Bulletin offers a much better description than I could:

Good complexity, bad complexity

A solar PV system, a computer, and a truck are all complex systems. As technological systems grow in complexity, the opportunities for failure of the whole system increase. I don’t know which component of the computer failed, but when it did the computer stopped being a computer and became a waste disposal problem. When the batteries of the solar PV system lost 80% of their effectiveness, the entire system lost its effectiveness by an almost equal amount—it still works at 100% only when the sun is shining. The truck runs, but with ice and snow still on back roads, it is useless going up hills and dangerous going down them or around curves. Both the truck and solar PV system will require an input of additional resources to fix. This is true of technological complexity generally. It solves a problem, but only at the cost of ongoing inputs of resources and energy.

I posted a reply at that link (still in the moderators queue apparently) which summarizes my view of the more general ecological predicament we face.


And no, I won't bother rebutting any of it, someone will just attack me for being "fatalistic" as they have before. Rather tiresome, don't you think?

No, not really and I'm not attacking you or anyone else, least of all for being "fatalistic". I am, however, strongly disagreeing with your views. As far as being fatalistic, I think I'd be guilty as charged on that count, myself for different reasons. But let's cut to the chase then, please show us how you come to make this rather extraordinary claim:

renewables require just as much fossil fuel input as the rest of our industrial civilization.

I guess what gets my goat, is you seem to be saying that we simply can't imagine let alone actually build a renewable energy based civilization based on renewable energy alone, while sort of implying that somehow that very industrial civilization on which we depend will just keeps on going like some sort of super Energizer Bunny. I'm saying, if that is truly the case, then it's game over.

To be clear I do think the Energizer Bunny paradigm is on its final drumbeats and no amount of renewables will keep it going, its a goner! The new Bunny will have to be a combination of hand made spring wind up, flywheel and low power LEDs.

I guess what gets my goat, is you seem to be saying that we simply can't imagine let alone actually build a renewable energy based civilization based on renewable energy alone, while sort of implying that somehow that very industrial civilization on which we depend will just keeps on going like some sort of super Energizer Bunny. I'm saying, if that is truly the case, then it's game over.

Apologies for the goat (or in this case perhaps Yak?). My bad for not clarifying my terms. By "renewables" I am specifically referring to super pure polysilicon PV, 200 foot windmills, miles of parabolic mirrors, giant kites, and all other assorted and sundry technological boondoggles that most people think of as so-called "alternatives". And yes, I would probably include flywheels and low power LED's in that list.

My outlook on industrial civilization is best summed up by the base case scenario in the "Limits to Growth" report.

I can easily imagine a renewable energy based civilization, but not what you might expect. For centuries modest populations of humans have used wind, water, wood, work horses, and the gentle warming of the sun to great effect, and will again.

Willingly or not.


Apologies for the goat (or in this case perhaps Yak?). My bad for not clarifying my terms. By "renewables" I am specifically referring to super pure polysilicon PV, 200 foot windmills, miles of parabolic mirrors, giant kites, and all other assorted and sundry technological boondoggles that most people think of as so-called "alternatives". And yes, I would probably include flywheels and low power LED's in that list.

Ok, I think with that you are coming a bit closer to saying something I can understand. However I still have a caveat or two.

Let's say we take for example the entire global automobile industry with all it's energy and resource inputs in the myriad supply chains and feed back loops that make it possible. Let's include the advertising industry related to it, the financial and banking institutions etc, the consumers who buy them, the entire infrastructure of everything that goes into extracting and refining the fuels that power all those millions and millions of vehicles all over the world. I could go on but I think you get my point.

Now, as a thought exercise, imagine if we were somehow able,to completely shut down that entire complex interrelated system and reallocate all of those resources to building Solar panel and wind turbine production plants in a build out process similar to the effort employed by the US during WWII to build tanks and planes.

Now start imagining how many other things we could stop doing and begin reallocating resources from those things to a building out a completely new paradigm. I can think of quite a few, can you?

To be very clear, I certainly do not expect anything like that to happen during my remaining lifetime.
I'm only saying that if we were somehow able to do that, we might then have the resources to invest in a renewable energy based civilization that might ultimately have a much smaller ecological footprint and give us a fighting chance.

100% Fred. Let me add that, while most metals (but not all) are renewable, at least in the sense that they can be recycled, to the extent that we may one day be mininh our old cities and garbage dumps to reuse them, energy is not like that. That pesky second law of thermodynamics, you know! So, unlike metals, and even water, once we use energy or convert it from one form to another, we create heat, that dissipates into the universe as entropy. Net entropy increases, and complexity decreases. Most of our energy comes from the sun (some gravitational flex energy, and of course heat energy from radioactive sources within the Earth excepted). That energy stored by photosynthesis, both present and past, and the total delivered daily, are all we have. Thus, we need to use more of the current energy sources, and stop relying on the stored sources. It is a race, complicated by an addiction to plastic toys, to set up the means to set up an infrastructure that can convert all of that constantly delivered solar and tidal energy into electrical (or, I suppose, into mechanical) energy.

If we win the race, many survive. If we place, some will. If we lose, we really lose!

Alászállás pokolba!


Let me add that, while most metals (but not all) are renewable, at least in the sense that they can be recycled, to the extent that we may one day be mininh our old cities and garbage dumps to reuse them, energy is not like that.

Interesting that you say that. A few weeks ago I was approached by a Hungarian metals recycling company and offered a position which I just couldn't resist (no, it wasn't about the money) and I ended up accepting. Even though I have been pretty aware of resource depletion in the world at large this is giving me a new very visceral insiders view into another aspect of our reality. That mining which you speak of is in full force right now and I have a front row seat. It has been all the more fascinating to me to observe how what is happening in the oil markets is affecting the price fluctuations of metals in various parts of the world due to how their economies are doing. I can almost see the ELM for metals happening in real time as it changes the game.

Jonathan Callahan if you are reading there is a huge need for a country by country Minerals data browser for the recycling community >;^)



I'd love to oblige if we could get paid to do it! ;-) But first someone needs to come up with datasets that bring all this information together.

For the databrowsers I've built so far we're standing on the shoulders of giant efforts of data collection and assembly. Whether it's the BP statistical review, the EIA data or the USGS Minerals dataseries, these combined, international datasets represent huge efforts on the part of each organization. I'm just doing some cleanup and reorganization and then putting a nice interface on top to make them more accessible and interpretable.

For minerals, you may be interested in the USGS Minerals information by country which contains detailed industry information for recent years as well as newly released tables of mining and processing facilities in each region.

This data, taken together, would make for an awesome international minerals databrowser but would require a very large amount of work to get the data collated so that it was usable in a programming environment. (If anyone reading this has money I'd say we would consider taking this on for $50K but not for less. It really is a lot of work.)

And Fred, will you be moving to Hungary? Budapest? I really enjoyed my short visit to Budapest a year and a half ago. Incredible city!




Thanks for all your efforts! I took a look at some of the USGS Minerals information by country and have already found it useful. As for moving to Budapest, I wish, but at least I will be visiting there a bit more often.



I think you may be correct but am not sure. It may be that continuing decreases in PV costs, for example, may reflect decreasing fossil fuel input to the point where we end up with a tolerable society with minimal fossil fuels. I don't think it hurts to continue to explore and develop alternatives. Maybe that just make fossil fuels run out faster but a few years here and there in the demise of civilization won't make a lot of difference.

In the mean time, things like passive houses seem to make sense in order to eliminate most of our fossil fuel use for heating and a/c.

If it all collapses despite our efforts, so be it. Maybe there will be a few people left living in teepees and caves and gnawing on what little veggie matter is left.

Regardless, business as usual is not necessary and not healthy. So the first thing to do, of course, is to conserve by using less with maximum efficiency.

Thanks Fred,
I was too tired to take on Jerry's little snip at renewables, either yesterday or today. His blind spot, I guess, and he's not lonely in it, either.

Even if they're not a Silver Bullet, we will be needing what they can offer, and I'm more and more convinced it will not be long before it has turned into a real scramble. Those shelves will empty fast.. then he can tell us how useless they are. Odds are at least his Calculator will still work anyhow.

But we are only going to get water from the well, not large profits. So therefore apparently we shouldn't do it as it's not market viable.

AGW "people" will get the blame for high oil prices in the future. And that HARD. Together with al the other enviornmentalists. Especially in the US. I am more certain about this than I am about many other things.

No, not the AGW people. The anti-ANWR drilling and anti-OCS drilling people.

So they could blame Jeb Bush . . . but you know that someone else will get all the blame.

Even though if you opened up drilling everywhere it wouldn't really make much of a difference.

Even though if you opened up drilling everywhere it wouldn't really make much of a difference.

Possibly so. But you don't know for politically sure until you actually try it - until then it's speculation, no matter how well-informed it might be. And therein lies a conundrum.

Sometimes speculators bet that the price will go down by short selling. Why, at this time, are they betting that the price will go up? ... then go into your spiel.

They are betting the price will go up because of chaos in Libya and it's possible spread to other oil rich kingdoms....

They just cut me off and will ignore anything I write after that....

Ask yourself why you want to provide this rebuttal, especially in a public forum. People have a mental model of how the world works, and there is simply a limit as to how much information that is outside that model which they can accept, and how fast they can assimilate it. In other words, they will not hear you until they are ready, if ever.

And what would they do if they understood? Yes, it is only fair to let people know the truth so they have the best chance, but if you have to fight them to do it the odds of success are poor. Diminishing returns and all that. With those you know personally you can at least monitor their attitudes and try to be helpful and ready if they should become receptive to new ideas.

Last, you need to ask what good knowing will do anyway. We have a whole society and all our infrastructure (and our overshot population) wholly dependent on fossil fuel energy.

1. It is right to get everyone in the lifeboats.

2. There is not room enough for everyone in the lifeboats.

3. Most people do not want to hear anything about lifeboats.

Someone will make it, but you may not be able to influence who that is. The best response is to simply learn (and live) the skills you'll need, and hope they'll be useful to someone.

I tend to agree with you on this Twilight... I frankly don't see the utility in trying to spread the general message regarding our resource "problem" far and wide...

Unfortunately I stumbled into the discussion a couple times in the past week and was pretty much shocked by the unified front being displayed by a wide array of commenters all staying on message about the evil speculators. I suppose my frustration level ratcheted up to the point that I really wanted to give it right back to these clowns who just come across so cocky and sure of their position (even though I'm certain they're just parroting what they hear from a steady diet of AM radio).

I'll behave from now on... back to making my preparations in silence and just nodding in agreement as the next group tells me how there's three Saudi Arabia's worth of oil under the Rockies...

This train wreck can't be stopped. But it still makes sense to keep up with as much information as you can. I think of it as trying to figure out where to stand, so as not to get hit by the debris from the train wreck. As time runs out, on business as usual, time to spend enlightening new people to post peak problems is short. I don't know about you, but I have been going through "peak-understanding" for almost ten years now. I seriously doubt that a new convert could really get it in time now.

Eastex, Ditto!! The longer I deal with this issue, and it has been about 14 years for me, the more convinced I am that only a small minority will actually" get it". It is a relative waste of time to try to educate the rest.

I think that's less true of young people. My college students are shocked to learn about all this, go through denial, yada yada...but many wind up grateful that someone is finally, FINALLY, leveling with them. Some make life course adjustments, and, sobered up, set about rolling up their sleeves and try to do something, SOMETHING, about the future of the world they're inheriting. It's inspiring at times.

I think most of us on TOD are on the same page. It makes me want to scream when I hear some commentator (like Ed Schulz) claim that the price of oil is all a plot by the evil conservatives! And this talk of tapping into the USSR? Insane!

So, we all make a few noises, and then withdraw back into our hidey holes, to silently await TEOTWAWKI? I think not! If we do not remain vocal and persuasive, there is no chance that the needed changes and preparations will be made. Even if we are loud and get their attention, it does not look like the MSM will recognize what is hitting the fan until it is all over them. By which time, it may be too late.

So, scream and holler! Let your friends, neighbors and family know what is coming. Especially your family. My feeling is that, if I cannot spend time with the family, discussing and demonstrating what is happening, there is no way I can be effective with my friends. Once I have both of those groups in hand, I can work on the neighbors... if we all do it that way, it may be possible to make a difference.

When pigs fly.


Ed Schulz is not the problem, just a bit of a populist and an ethanol shill, being from the NoDak/Minn border. He will come around.

The crazy ones are the right-wing talkers. Totally insane in their thinking, and they make up stuff. They will never come around.

and they make up stuff.

A few start from historic documents, court cases, public statements - actual provable points. Then when you assume the worst of what governments or even your fellow man will do - then they get into the making stuff up.

They will never come around.

The "popular" talkers make millions. Why would they "come round" - because I'm betting the round the corner look has their "value" decreased.

Ask yourself why you want to provide this rebuttal, especially in a public forum. People have a mental model of how the world works, and there is simply a limit as to how much information that is outside that model which they can accept, and how fast they can assimilate it. In other words, they will not hear you until they are ready, if ever.

This is a sort of mental retardation then. When humans stop assimilating new information, which includes new models of reality, then they stop being intelligent and act like insects.

People just have varying capacities to assimilate information that is different from their accumulated body of accepted knowledge. When confronted by new information that is too different from what they accept they just find a way to discount it - call it a conspiracy theory, laugh at it, get mad at the messenger, etc. If it is compelling enough some will begin to consider it seriously, eventually maybe accepting bits of it, usually slowly. Some have very rigid thought processes and will never accept ideas that are "different". Some need some kind of official sanction before they can consider new ideas. Probably most would rather not think at all if they can avoid it.

That's just my observation though, maybe you're surrounded by logical folks who weigh all ideas equally on their merits.

"...logical folks who weigh all ideas equally on their merits."

That's a problem arising from more than mere judgmental notions such as "rigidity". Life is just too short, and in a huge world there are just far too many crackpot "ideas" floating about, to take the time to weigh them all "equally on their merits". So people use - must use - social shortcuts, such as authority or popularity. Or it'll just be some murky undefined notion of what seems plausible in the course of day-to-day conversation, or failing that, some murky undefined notion of what seems plausible in the course of day-to-day TV or Internet viewing. (This is a serious defect of the whole utopian "well-informed citizen" view of democracy, but that's another whole can of worms.)

Is there any general information regarding speculation that can provide a rebuttal to this line of thinking - or is the whole subject just hopelessly complex and the "speculation = high oil prices" can't be effectively countered in a only a paragraph or two ?

I'm certainly no expert, and I freely admit that I skip over most of the discussion threads on this topic. That said, I do recall seeing one rebuttal somewhere that might be effective.

In a nutshell, commodities trading on the futures markets is free market capitalism at its best and finest. Why? Easy, because everyone knows that resources are allocated most efficiently by price discovery! Anyone suggesting we start jerking around with the fabled "invisible hand" must be some kind of dirty rotten socialist who wants to destroy the best economic system the world has ever known. Right?


Cat - How about a very simplistic approach. The KSA, as well as all the other oil exporting countries, set the price for their crude. If a refiner in Texas or the EU wants to buy 500,000 bo from the Saudis it's real simple: the Saudis tell them the oil will cost $X/bbl. No speculation there what so ever. Now the oil future players will speculate (IOW bet) on what that price will be next month when the KSA posts the price for their oil. Half the speculators will lose their bet and the other half that took the bet will make money. Doesn't matter what the absolute price of that oil is. The money that changes hands is based upon the difference between the bet amount and the actual price.

So yes, 50% of the speculators are correct in predicting the price of oil. But it's the oil exporters that determine the price. Just because I bet the Green Bay Packers would win the Super Bowl doesn't mean my SPECULATION about the GBP winning caused it to happen.

Folks seem to have a very confused sense of cause and effect when it comes to the oil futures market IMHO.

Thanks Rockman - that's just the kind of explanation I was hoping for and will probably have to give to them... and putting it in terms of gambling and sports should definitely get their attention :)

The Odds function used in sports and gambling also works to estimate fairly accurately the size of a big oil discovery.
See here: The Oil ConunDrum

I explain that if you can understand how sports betting works, you can understand a lot about oil. Any idiot off the street should be able to appreciate the general idea, as many of these people obviously have some interest in playing the odds -- as they actually study the statistics.

The twist is that the overall odds keep on getting longer and longer with non-renewable resources. Gambling is however renewable; there is a sucker born every minute.

On the TeeVee (CNBC), they keep saying oil went up so many dollars today. But what the hell does that mean? First of all, that's WTI, which we all know reflects just a slice of America. Second, oil did no such thing as they are quoting futures prices. Oil doesn't go up until it goes up. Am I reading you correctly? If the TeeVee would start reporting accurately and more precisely, then maybe there would be less confusion. Now, if they said that the last trader reflected on the exchange for the futures month of April bought so many contracts for so many dollars, then that would be more precise. Or, maybe I am oversimplifying this.

Frankly, I understand why there is so much confusion. They need to make something a bit complicated a little less simple.

Forgetting futures, almost all spot prices quoted on upstreamonline are up today. Most spectacularly Minas (Indonesia) up 10% to $124.66. Someone was willing to pay that today for light crude.


Spot price for Lousiana Sweet is about $120. That should be a current price, so yes, oil has gone up by all measures I know of at least (admittedly, not than many). As long as we all agree on what we're talking about, I think it should work. Front-month futures for Brent seems like the most useful world index, but WTI seems to work fine for the mid-US (gas here is $3.25 -- a quarter or two cheaper than most of the country).

ts - There’s a good reason that the MSM can't tell you what a tanker of oil leaving the Persian Gulf (or any other port in the world) sold for. A for a good reason: the buyers and sellers guard those numbers with a passion. Shell Oil may have bought a 2 million bbl tanker load that left from the same KSA terminal at the same time a similar tanker which was sold to ExxonMobil left the terminal. And it's a very good bet that the oil in those tankers didn't sell for the same price. Just as likely neither company knows exactly what the other paid either. If these two players can't (actually won't) offer a credible guestimate can some CNN reporter do it?

They offer the futures prices for a simple reason: a monkey can go online, make a few clicks and TA DA...here's a number for a bbl of oil. Even better is that this number changes every second. This allows even more talking heads fodder to justify their existance. It's really no different than the MSM posting the betting line from Las Vegas for college basketball games and the public thinking these are the actually outcomes of the games. And then when one team wins the public says:"Look...the speculators caused the Bulls to win that game because they predicted they would". Just like when oil future traders bet oil will sell for $X in 30 days and TA DA!...those traders made a profit thanks to their speculation. Of course, folks forget, or don't understand, that an equal amount of money was bet, and lost, predicting the alternative out come.

Is there any general information regarding speculation that can provide a rebuttal to this line of thinking - or is the whole subject just hopelessly complex and the "speculation = high oil prices" can't be effectively countered in a only a paragraph or two ?

It's fairly simple to analyze. Just look at the increase in developing country demand, particularly from China, and compared it to OPEC supply, particularly from Saudi Arabia. What quickly becomes apparent is that incremental supply is not keeping up with incremental demand.

These market prices are driven by fundamentals. Demand from China and other countries has been increasing steadily and inexorably in recent years, and OPEC is not able to meet that demand. The much-vaunted Saudi Arabian spare production is a myth that the Arabs have promoted. Saudi Arabian production peaked in 1980 at 9.9 million barrels per day, and I don't believe they will ever produce that much oil again.

The Libyan crisis does have a bit of an effect, since it takes 1.6 million barrels per day of very high quality oil off the market, and Saudi Arabia does not produce oil of the same high quality, so the refineries depending on Libyan oil are screwed. However, that's minor compared to increases in Chinese imports. If you are not aware of it, it was only a few years ago that China was a net oil exporter. Today China is importing 1 million barrels per day of Saudi Arabian oil, plus millions more from other countries.

Slow start to the comments.

Lousiana Sweet is at $120. Brent at $117. WTI about $106. Pundits are going to have to raise their "OK for now, but..." range a little higher again, or start predicting a down-turn.

I was thinking about a comment by, I think, Bernanke last week against the gold standard, and the ups and downs that caused as gold supply changed over time. With or without a gold standard, the "gold rush" mindset persists for gold, diamonds, oil, and other assets.

The point, though, is that when you have a gold standard everybody tries hard to find gold -- a system naturally optimizes toward the measurement standard. Sometimes, very bad defects can happen, as when Indians sold Manhattan for a chest of beads, which were prized and difficult to produce in their world, but cheap and easy to produce in another.

Today, money is cheap and easy to produce for a few, but for the rest of us the natural tendency is to acquire it by borrowing, which actually works to reduce a person's supply of money while appearing to increase it (and for many the appearance is more important than the reality!).

Perhaps a fiat economy could be envisioned that somehow marked value based on the well-being of the average human (though difficult to quantify), or even just for energy production or other resources (easy to quantify). Inflation incites the rapid spending of money, as a reinforcing effect of monetary supply growth. Oppositely, an energy-based currency would naturally have a deflationary trend as energy is spent, so efficiency would be rewarded, as would conservation. EROEI would become the basis for valuing investment potential. Capital would still have value, based on the embodied energy, and individuals would trade energy credits for the belongings they desired, but trading as efficiently as possible.

Capitalism has been a close proxy for monetary value, as the two track closely when the flow of money assists the conversion of resources to capital and waste. When the production and aggregation of money is the goal for many, though, rather than the production of valuable goods, I think the game subtly changes, as the emphasis is on the currency rather than the capital.

Human beings seem to naturally align with leverage of resources as means to successfully compete, and capitalism seems to fit that desire quite well, only promoting waste and consumption rather than efficiency as the key metric. Might we harness this same tendency more advantageously, toward production and preservation of energy, with a better alignment of human nature and desired goals?

I see capitalism as a very natural outgrowth of having a primarily fossil-fuel based economy. There is a large surplus of energy and efficiently allocating it means letting the market decide.

But if the economy is only solar-based, then land becomes the only way in---the only way we can interface with the cosmos for our benefit. (When I say land I don't just mean fields, but forests, streams, mountains, oceans, etc.) So the way we construe and construct capitalism today won't have such a meaning when there are no (or virtually no) fossil fuels left. A person or a family or a group will sruggle to "monopolize" a mountain or a river or a stream....that is hard work! The areas are huge when it is just us humans and the planet with no machine interlopers.

You can call land-based (solar energy funded) feudalism a kind of capitalism...in the sense that a group struggles to make the most out of the resources they can get from that field or acres of land. But it makes no sense to have private ownership because the guy in charge---the feudal lord---can't physically collect the resources by himself. He has to rely on a group of serfs, who may have some collective ownership rights--- and the serfs need the feudal lord to provide organization and structure, to arbitrate if there is a dispute.

Capitalism as we know it is the offspring of fossil fuels and when they disappear so will capitalism as we know it.

But if the economy is only solar-based, then land becomes the only way in

I don't this will be the practical reality for quite some time. PV, and other nonbiological energy collection is sufficiently efficient, that land isn't going to a much of a constraint, but capital will be. The reasoning is simple, the sun supplies thousands of times as much power as we currently use, so only a smallish amount of land is actually needed. But, the technology to harvest it is expensive, so it is a capital industry, ownership of the energy collectors will be important.

Capitalism has been a close proxy for monetary value, as the two track closely when the flow of money assists the conversion of resources to capital and waste. When the production and aggregation of money is the goal for many, though, rather than the production of valuable goods, I think the game subtly changes, as the emphasis is on the currency rather than the capital.

This is at the root of game theory; it is no longer about product but now about out-strategizing the other person.

Yes but you are talking about an entire restructuring of the world's financial system.

How does this possibly happen without disagreement or bloodshed? Especially when the world's bully refuses to voluntarily give up its privileged position?

Oil at $110 May Trigger Pain CEOs Weathered at $100

CEO's "weather pain"? Really?

Last I was aware, how it works is the CEO transfers the burden down the structure of the organization. Is the "pain" only having a 400:1 pay differental from their salary VS the lowest paid instead of a 500:1 ratio?

Looks like another case of headline != reality.

The Bloomberg article you referenced is a classic. After quoting a few experts about how "worrisome" the oil prices are to the economy they then dragged out every pollyanna they could find to tell us "no worries".

I was especially struck by this from the chief economist for the U. S. Navy:

"Oil supplies in Saudi Arabia also are sufficient to ensure that oil at $120 or even $150 a barrel from disruptions elsewhere in the Middle East would only be a “blip up” that wouldn’t last long, said Nayantara Hensel, the U.S. Navy’s chief economist.

“Oil prices would need to exceed $125 per barrel for more than four years to substantively limit economic growth,” she said in an interview."

Now I really feel better.

That's the last time I will believe anyone who says "At least the military gets peak oil."

Haven't there been military reports that mention peak oil and it's potential impacts?

Maybe this clown is out of the loop...

Or maybe the game is happy talk at all costs.

Nayantara Hensel, the U.S. Navy’s chief economist.

“Oil prices would need to exceed $125 per barrel for more than four years to substantively limit economic growth,” she said in an interview."

This Nayantara Hensel?!

Apparently, she's just another boring clueless mainstream economist who couldn't distinguish fantasy from reality if it smacked her in the face! The fact that's she's with the Navy shouldn't give her any special privilege to eschew any connection with the 'real' world but that doesn't seem to be the case. I'm shocked, I tell you, truly schocked... Bah!

Dr. Nayantara Hensel is the Chief Economist for the Department of the Navy. She provides economic guidance on growth projections, the federal budget, interest rates, unemployment, exchange rates, inflation, the financial health of defense contractors, as well as trends in the broader economy and in the defense sector. Dr. Hensel received her BA, MA, and Ph,D. from Harvard University, where she graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa and specialized in finance and economics. She has taught at Harvard University, the Stern School of Business at New York University (NYU), and the US Naval Postgraduate School’s Graduate School of Business and Public Policy. In the private sector, Dr. Hensel previously served as Senior Manager and Chief Economist for Ernst & Young’s litigation advisory group, managing economist for the New York City office of the Law and Economics Consulting Group (LECG), and an economist in the economic consulting arm of Marsh & McLennan. Dr. Hensel has written over 30 articles and research reports. Her recent research has focused on globalization and the US defense industrial base (the USAF tanker competition), the role of defense mergers in improving weapons systems cost efficiency, efficiency in IPO auctions relative to traditional processes, the factors impacting discount rates for US Marine Corps personnel, and market structure-specific and firm-specific factors impacting economies of scale and density in European and Japanese banks.

I used to hold Harvard PhDs to a higher standard. Now I'm beginning to think they ought to start printing their diplomas on extra soft, double ply super absorbent 4.5 X 4.5 sheets and packaging them on rolls of cardboard tubing.

And I almost got my hopes up with this conference title at MIT:

Confronting Limits with Fact-based Analysis


A few golden nuggets nothwithstanding most of it, seemed to be just another great big cornucopian fest.

You'd figure that at least at MIT they'd understand physics and be familiar with Einstein's quote:
" We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them"


I attended the conference on Saturday. I'll post some notes on it later, but right now I'll just say you're wrong to call it a cornucopian fest.

I'll just say you're wrong to call it a cornucopian fest.

I'll be more than happy to eat crow on this one, looking forward to your post!

How can we question Nayantara Hensel, whilst our tax dollars produce the Navy is the global force for good commercials? My 16 yr old daughter and I were horrifyingly amused when therein they remark they "won't stop until natural disasters no longer strike"?

5 oceans, 7 continents, who's counting barrels or CO2 ppm?

That's the last time I will believe anyone who says "At least the military gets peak oil."

No, no, you didn't understand what that means. What it really means when they say, "the military gets peak oil" is that when the oil supply peaks, the military will commandeer the supply and use it themselves. You will get to walk.

It's just a basic misunderstanding of military priorities. I'm glad to clarify it for you :-)

What it really means when they say, "the military gets peak oil" is that, the Military gets the oil... get it?

Don't forget the party members who are necessary to lead us and lead the military.

Then, all the emergency workers.

Then the farmers

And if there is any left over - you.

I'm Afraid I have to agree with both you guys-the military gets it, as evidenced by the JOE papers, which are up until the last few weeks the ONLY offocial federal publications I have seen advocating the reality of peak oil near term.

And the military will no doubt have first dibs on any available oil.But I expect they will share a little with guys like me-otherwise they will wind up gardening to eat, like the Japanese troops stranded on islands during WWII.

The military does get peak oil.
Mac, you are correct in your reference to the JOE papers (plural). Much has been made of the 2010 version's reference to PO, but few people seemed to notice that the new version's reference to PO was largely a re-statement of the concerns which were expressed in the earlier Dec. 08 version, reviewed a year ago:

A bibliography of the publicly available research from the military-security research community was done in 2009 and updated last fall:

Finally, the most outstanding PO analysis by anyone, anywhere, IMHO was done by a team of German military analysts. Their draft version (dated July 2010) was mysteriously leaked last August, and is a most remarkable analysis. The approved version (dated Nov. 2010) only became available a month ago and appears to be an equally significant document.
I say "appears to be" because I cannot read German and have only received a translation of the Conclusion. However, one does not need to be able to read German in order to compare the two versions, and it is obvious that most of the wording is identical. (I have carefully examined translations of key sections in the July version, including the all-important section on Tipping Points.)

Therefore I believe that the most of the arguments which were made here will be upheld and even reinforced by the new, sanctioned version of the Bundeswehr report:

I think the military definitely "get it" in ways that civilian authorities do not appear to comprehend (or at least they are not prepared to acknowledge publicly). Military analysts also understand the vulnerabilities to the food supply chain (and subsequent unrest, both globally and domestically) which high oil prices present.

Roscoe Bartlett is very fond of quoting Adm. Rickover, who foresaw much of this 55 years ago.
Hats off to Rickover and the other military analysts: unlike so many of our civilian bureaucrats, they can recognize a major threat when they see one, and they are bold (or honour-bound) enough to speak up about it.
Hats off to Roscoe as well... we have no-one like him here in Canada, unfortunately.

Thanks a bunch for putting these links in one post. I've bookmarked them :-)

Previously, I've been periodically looking for all 3 works through Google searches with different keywords which is inefficient, to say the least.

I'm glad that info was of use to someone.
You are most welcome

- Rick

I am beginning to wonder if Gadaffi might hold on in Libya. The rebels are rag-tag and poorly armed. They are running low on fuel. Gadaffi still has heavy armour and rockets and an airforce. He is consolidating his control in the west, and if he can liquidate enough protesters he can put the lid back on the pressure cooker of hatred. The he can send his heavy armour rolling east to crush the rebels.

If he regains control he will be no friend to his fair-weather western allies. China will be happy to provide all the oil engineers he needs to get his pipelines flowing again.

I think there was a narrow window , about a week ago, where a few quick strikes against key targets (airfields, pipelines, weapons dumps, army bases ) could have toppled Gadaffi by making it clear to his mercenaries they were on the losing side.

Done quietly enough, it could even have been done with plausible deniability. Too late now.

I am beginning to wonder if Gadaffi might hold on in Libya

"He" will hold things as long as he is alive. He is not immortal and control will pass to another. Eventually.

There is no guarantee the new boss will not be the same as the old boss - thusly you have all the various factions outside the nation lining up as they are trying to better their position.

Gadaffi is able to exist because of passive support for his actions. While one can force people to do things at the point of a gun, the people underneath him need to farm food, fix machines. et la to keep him in power. Passive resistance of the masses will make things harder for him.

This does bring up an important, larger point to discuss here.

Although human individuals since the beginning of history have fancied themselves to be immortal, reality always intervened, quickly and harshly.

It is the amazing fossil fuel wealth, safety, scientific progress, medicine etc. of the 20th/21st century world which takes things one more step further: not only do people believe they are immortal, they actually cannot conceive otherwise.

It just doesn't enter into the mind of Gadaffi, much less Bernanke, or any of the fools running things, that they will one day die or even need to relinquish control to somebody else.

The spirit of George Washington - this noble man who refused to run for a 3rd term - is completely missing from our age.

There is a good scene in the Godfather Part 2: Michael is explaining to his brother Fredo how Hyman Roth acts like Michael is his son, successor, but actually thinks he will live forever, and wants to push Michael out.

We are all Hyman Roth now.

There is not even a guarantee there will be a new boss. What if Tunisia split? That will come to pass if the military conflict stagnates around a trench line somewhere. And what will that do to oil?

I suspect that the West, especially the US military is highly aware that Gadaffi will be unkind to his fair-weather friends. I'm thinking that the Air Force will be utilized to provide air cover for the rebels and keep Gadaffi grounded.

Would be really interesting to know what actually happened early in the morning at the weekend when all the heavy firing was reported in Tripoli which only later (hours later) seemed to be replaced with organised celebratory fire. According to a phone call to Al Jazeera, at least one helicopter was involved in the early mornings events.

Would be really interesting to know where they got all those flags. And why THAT flag.

I've wondered about that too.

What I heard is that they made them by hand and that it is the pre-Gaddafi Libyan flag.

Wow, we really are fish, trying to imagine life without water. Even here at TOD.

I admit, it didn't occur to me, either, that flags could be sewn at home, rather than imported from China. Even though flags are fairly simple items to sew, and my mom always sewed all my clothes growing up (because we couldn't afford "store-bought"), and taught me how to sew as well.

According to CNN International last night they are almost all made at one specific tailor's shop in Bhengazi which they visited but could not identify supposedly for safety reasons. The company was run by an Egyptian - and one who hadn't left for the border, According to the CNN report many tailors in Bhengazi are Egyptians but most have fled or otherwise not open.

Well that's CNN's version of where the many professionally manufactured flags suddenly appeared from. I've been noticing more obviously home made flags recently though.

My 1st reaction was 'hand sown' and 'using local dyes' but I'd not seen it so I didn't comment.

Your assumption is based on history where mass produced flags have been pre-made and await shipment from China. A couple of the X revolutions (where X is a color or a fabric) had press stories about how the flags were made 6 months and 1ish years in advance.

Leanan - I've no doubt resourceful determined people can find a way to make flags. I think banners have been around for some time....

I was really more interested in how it got started - a symbol like that is powerful, as is well demonstrated by all the "color revolutions" in recent years. Getting that symbol established at the outset would be an important task, which seems to have been handled. And I'm also curious as to why that particular flag.

Well thanks..

Now I feel like I should go make a flag.. and I probably will.
Of course, mine will probably be the Ben Franklin- Wild Turkey Flag.

Would I have to get it notarized?

Hey, that's how you get Solar Panels past your HOA.. Make your roof into a giant Blue, NRA flag or something..

how you get Solar Panels past your HOA

Or, as OFF2134 posted the other day, you could just make the entire roof of solar panels. "Hey, it's my roof, ya can't prevent me having a roof...

Like the HOA doesn't have roofing requirements?

Of course ultimately, these HOA are going to need Residents.. so we'll see how their requirements go.. but of course, I was goofin' up there, and would personally never put myself in a situation where I was beholden to such a leadership.. (knock wood)

It was the flag of the Kingdom of Libya Before Kadaffi took power

Yes, I know. The flag of an apparently not very popular former monarch, suddenly showing up in quantity after how many decades. Did a lot of folks keep these in their closets? Was that a good thing to have in the intervening years?

I don't think there's really much chance at all of Gadaffi staying there in the long term.

Now nearly all of the country realises how little he truly cares for the people after he's happily airstriked his own civilian population.

Those places in the East aren't just under an opposition command, the people themselves abhor Gadaffi. At the very least the country would split in two. I think there would also be numerous assassination attempts - the fear has gone. Civilians were attacking tanks with machetes for goodness sake!

The mercenaries may stay whilst the money is flowing, but with more and more sanctions adding up this soon may be cut off. The rebels aren't fuelled by money, but by desire - much longer enduring.

With all his diplomatic connections defecting one by one his ties to the outside world are being cut off. The eyes of the world are much more on Gadaffi now than Sadaam vs the Kurds.

He'll go one way or another.

Libya could split in two, it's a tribal society.

Gaddafi has his supporters in Tripoli plus mercenaries.... He still has the support of his tribe. Most of the people he killed are from Binghazi which are members of a different tribe....

It's also possible Gaddafi will eventually win. The only way to prevent that from happening, would be for us to get involved.

Libya has a very small population, so it shouldn't be much of a problem....

Or Europe could get involved. Why is it always the US?


Debate. Blah blah blah. Debate debate debate. More blah. Silvio Berlusconi say something stupid. Everybody talks about how stupid Silvio Berlusconi is. Nobody talks about Silvio Berlusconi any more. More blah. More debate. Blah.

Et cetera.

That's about the dumbest post I have ever read. No one except you mentioned Silvio Berlusconi. And we do debate on this list. So what's your point?

Ron P.

My point is; I live on this continent. And we talk for ever and get very little done. I speak of the EU here.

There are 27 member states. Although probably no one would say they are OK with Gadaffis actions, making a unified line here is not that easy. And to get the EU to involve military actions, good luck with that one.

As for inividual countires, it is another thing, but I was not talking about indivdual countries.

Regarding your last point; yes we debate here. But what paralament is you a member of? Or me? We are not the people who makes the decistions.

It's worthwhile considering that with the current troubles of Berlusconi, sending his military across the Mediterranean to swing the insurrection in the right direction might be a smart move.

Not only does he get to swing Italy behind him (which he really needs), provided the rebel side wins he can get first dibs on much of the oil exports.

The EU is likely to do nothing because of the useless brussels bureaucrats, but an individual country might go it alone.

It's an old Jedi mind trick, Ron. I got it.. but admittedly, he did an end run on you and made a non-linear comparison.

I think he was saying that he smelled a retread-debate emerging, 'such as' one would have about, say, Mr. Berlusconi, or perhaps some Blowhard Pronouncement from Ahmedinejad or Lieberman.

You said yourself we've been over these things a million times.. even if it hasn't been about Libya much in the past, we would do one of these for DAYS over 'Possible War with Iran!', and never get a new idea in there.. it just gets too close to CNN sometimes. yech!

Yours was one of the funnier posts here. Nice to laugh out loud.

I haven't heard the spin yet in the MSM, about what to do if he does stay in power. It seemed that the western governments waited until it looked clear that he was on the way out, then proclaimed "good riddance". If he does stay in control, does that mean that we have to do without his oil for a long time? Politically, it would be unseemly to buy oil from such a bad guy, no?

I don't know about over your side, but over here the language has been pretty damning. the British PM has said literally "Gadaffi must go."

"British Foreign Secretary William Hague says there is a clear risk of protracted conflict in Libya. He says Col Gaddafi must hand over power without delay."

"1242: Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen tells BBC World News: "It is absolutely outrageous what we are witnessing in Libya. These systematic attacks against the civilian population may, as stated by the UN Security Council, amount to crimes against humanity. The government of Libya has a responsibility to protect its own population.""

Pretty hard to see how they can just backtrack on that and leave him there.

Fortunately for the American drive, the US gov't buys no oil from Libya -- we have multi-national companies to do that for us. Anyway, their oil doesn't much flow here.

"Anyway, their oil doesn't much flow here."

Global net exports going down, is probably a bad thing for all importers.

But, look on the bright side, in a few years, when a good guy is put in power there, we will have an uptick in net exports. :)

The point though is that as long as the oil flows, nobody really cares who is in power. SOMEBODY will buy the crude and get it on the world market.

Has there been talk of a blockade? Has China signed on to say they won't buy from him? Has Italy said that they wouldn't buy oil from him if he does get it ready to flow? Is the value of freedom (for a growing supply of people) really worth more than the value of oil (which is decreasing in supply)?

This is the political angle I am kicking around. So, the U.N. Security Council tries to put Gadhafi in a box, then China, being a permanent member of the council, vetoes. Then what?

Let us do without. And after that, let us do without oil from the rest of the middle east. We need a shock doctrine as applied to oil. But nooooo!!

My guess,however, is that covert actions will be used to topple Qadafi. At this point, there is too much skin in the game to let him live.

As far as sanctions, oil companies such as Exxon say they are in compliance. But when does the cheating begin? We have seen this movie before and it did not end well. Don't want to invade Libya. We've already got enough countries on our hands.

Oh, and I would love to see Hillary tell the Europeans it's mainly their problem and they are welcome to do something about it. I am sick and tired of being the policemen of the world while everyone sits on the sidelines while we bleed the economy dry with our bloated defense budget.

covert actions will be used to topple Qadafi.

Given the history of nations VS nations for far many years before Lybia/USA existed, such will be one of the many tools from the toolbox humans will use.

The big Mo is old and has made no friends with his present choice of action. If the covert action is done "correctly" none of us plebes down at this level will know.

If Ghadafi has any sense, he will avoid bombing the oil infrastructure. If the rebels have any sense, they will use them as shields, and strive to sell some oil for cash as well. Nobody counts the bodies much, but everybody watches the oil.

So far, the world has shown, via Egypt "capitulate to protestors, and you lose power and your wealth". If in Libya we teach again the Iranian lesson "crush ruthlessly, and enjoy continued reign and power", the results in other nations will be predictable.

Why would America get involved if Europe doesn't? Why don't the countries who actually NEED the oil take action? Why is noone else willing to support the rebels for the cause of justice and freedom?
The real question is, how important is to Americans to have democracy and fairness in far-away lands? I would submit the answer is "not very". We pay multinational companies to get what we want without bothering us with unpleasant details, and to date any action to the contrary seems to be a minor feel-good marketing moment.

We haven't really ponied up for the current two wars, in terms of GDP support or societal engagement, and I doubt we would for Libya either. Troops on the ground? I doubt it. Paying for additional armor and mobilizing and refitting divisions? I doubt it.

I could see Obama throwing a few cruise missiles and stealth-bombers into the fray, plus some special forces. I'm not sure low-grade support will defeat an entrenched Gadhafi, though. A war of attrition fought by rebels in the city proper might be the best we can hope for.

if Ghadafi has any sense, he will avoid bombing the oil infrastructure.

1137: The Reuters news agency is also now reporting that a government warplane has launched an air strike in the eastern oil port town of Ras Lanuf. The jet fired two rockets at a checkpoint on the eastern outskirts, rebel fighter Mokhtar Dobrug said. There were no casualties.

There's been a second strike too. I don't know how much he's emphasised to avoid oil infrastructure but that's getting pretty close..

Also the US have asked Saudi to get involved apparently:

0942: The Independent's Robert Fisk reports that the US government has asked Saudi Arabia if it can supply weapons - including anti-tank rockets and mortars - to the rebels in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. The Saudis have so far failed to respond to Washington's highly classified request, although King Abdullah personally loathes Col Gaddafi, who tried to assassinate him just over a year ago, he says.


It is not in the interest of the Saudis or any other Middle Eastern regime to have a quick resolution of the war in Libya. Eventually, Gaddafi must be removed. But meanwhile, it is useful to have the world's attention focused on Libya, rather than them. Also, the bloodier the Libyan civil war is, the less enthusiasm there will be for violent insurrections in their own countries and the less reprehensible by comparison will seem their own use of force against rebels.

"Gaddafi must be removed". Why? By whom?

"Why?" -- Because too many world leaders have said that Gaddafi must be removed. To save face, that must happen.

"By whom?" -- Sicily is in the neighborhood? An arrangement will be arrived at.

Yes, surely the Libyan rebels will welcome an Italian force with flowers and candy :-/

Can Italian Oil Giant Eni SpA Prosper in a Qaddafi-Free Libya? Sure

Without the cash, this “Jasmine” revolution wouldn’t survive a fortnight — for whoever sits on the throne must pay the soldiers and feed the masses. As Eni SpA has roots planted in Libya that predate Qaddafi by more than a decade, it’s likely the company will survive when existing contracts arrangements come due for “re-negotiations” (if Qaddafi gets the boot).

It would seem that the Italians have a major stake in the outcome.

I'm just saying that Italy was the Colonial Power in Libya, and the Libyan patriots might not be happy with Italian military intervention. They remember their history in that part of the world...

Wacked by the mob, that's funny.


Just to flesh this out some more, you said: "Why don't the countries who actually NEED the oil take action?".

What if the folks who want Libya's oil think it's best to keep Gaddafi in power? The US certainly was very lukewarm to Egypt and other various democracy movements recently until the winners were obvious. John McCain called it a virus that needed to be eradicated. Free people use more oil, generally, while dictators export happily.

Maybe we are choosing sides by flapping our mouths and sitting on our anti-tank weapons?

And moreover, with the Libyan oil off the market because of the fray, the price of oil is up so KSA must be happy about that. They can enjoy more profits and shore up their own regime with more weapons purchases. That will also please the US who sells so many weapons. I think a lot of people in the west are getting rather rich from these insurrections. From selling weapons I mean. Probably only poor people are suffering from these high oil prices. Rich people are making even more money. Who is going to suggest further cuts in the US Defense budget now, I mean??

In some way, the instability in the ME is a perfect narrative for the Western governments: "Look, guys, we're REALLY SORRY about the oil prices and all but the natives are fighting (we know they're crazy religious fanatics, not like us) and they're trying to get democracy, you know, like we have here, well, so our point is that we're just going to have to have patience while things get a little weird." Meanwhile they and their friends are selling weapons, speculating in commodities, playing one side off against the other in the political arena.....it is a sort of heaven in some ways for the wheeler-dealer types who thrive on connections, inside information, access.

A real conspiracy theorist would even say that the instability in the ME was sparked into motion by the West for this very reason....to maintain a credible political narrative for their own frightened and naive people as oil output tumbles. But that would be going too far. Probably no sparking motion from the outside was needed. The people there were too fed up.

In war, minimizing casualties is not the objective. Winning the war is.

Gadaffi seems to have fully taken that on board.

Very intense, disturbing report just emerged from a Sky News reporter stuck in the middle of some of the heaviest fighting in Zawiyah:

Special Report: Rebel-Held Town

Taking and holding a city with house-to-house fighting is a bloody and difficult matter. It appears that the Khamis Brigade and other armored formations are instead using the tactic of shelling buildings and sweeping the streets with machine gun fire as they make repeated forays into Zawiyah and other rebel-held towns in western Libya. Presumably the objective is to eventually break the will to fight of the residents quicker than an outright seige would do.

However, as the article points out, they are losing some tanks by this tactic. They have a variety of Russian tanks, including the T-72. Whether the rebels are able to destroy tanks of the later models is not very clear. I doubt that most RPGs would kill a T-72.

As for following up with air and armor attacks on the east, there is a lot of space to cross. Keeping tanks, transports, and the air fleet in repair and operational for long range attacks is the critical factor for Gaddahfi's forces.

The interesting part for me is that the 'loyalists' seem to truly believe that the rebels are terrorists attempting to destroy Libya. Once they're captured they completely change their tone - perhaps their eyes have been opened (or perhaps they just want better treatment of course!)

But if it is the case that it's entirely down to Gadaffi's brainwashing, I wonder how long he can maintain this charade? If it starts to filter down through the loyalists that actually they're just killing their own people that want nothing more than for Libya to be great once more, perhaps Gadaffi's forces will collapse from within?

Edit: perhaps it's already started!

1822: Libyan state TV is reporting that a senior army leader who was fighting in Zawiya has switched sides and joined the rebels.


Why would they report that? The oldest tweet I can find mentioning that Libyan tv said this ended with "If only...", All subsequent tweets dropped the "If only..."

However there may be earlier tweets but twiter refuses to show them at the moment.

I don't know, it's a puzzler really. Hmm, maybe wait for more sources to confirm.

I really hope the BBC aren't just rebroadcasting random tweets. The oldest shown by Twitter is by "Irvine Steinberg" in New England. It said: "Libyan state TV is reporting that a senior army leader who was fighting in Zawiya has switched sides and joined the rebels. If only..." It was then repeated hundreds of times by others (and is still being retweeted) - exactly the same but without the "If only...".

Blimey, it sure does look that way..

So China would be able to shut down the flow of oil to Italy.
I do not buy that at all. I bet that would be a little problem.

Obama has been too timid....

Or has he simply been too vocal? Not exactly a Teddy Roosevelt moment. "Speak loudly, and carry a balsa wood bat"?

I, for one, am fed up in intervention. Where does it stop? By all means, let those who have the biggest stake intervene, starting with the Italians.

Italians invading North Africa. Man, they say history repeats, but that's just ridiculous.

Italians have been invading North Africa since at least the Battle of Tunis in 255 BC.

They should stop now?


"Carthago delenda est" as we used to say in Rome :-)

The Italians beeing the former occupant of Tunisia, this seems very unlikely. Berlusconi beeing the current president of Italy, this also seems very unlikely.

I may be the only one here at TOD talking about the guy, and Darwinian upthread don't understand why. But Italy is the nearest part of Europe and the guy does matter.

The doc "Videocracy" takes a not especially deep but still illuminating look at Berlusconi and Italian media culture. Pretty amazing that one person is allowed to control, what - 3 of the 4 significant TV networks in the country? Plus other media. Almost to be expected that if allowed, he would become PM in western culture these days. Rather Orwellian... Just one more illustration of why we are soooo screwed.

I feel the exact same way 9 times out of 10.......,

But in this case......, it seems like such an easy fix.........

the west won't allow him to hold power now that they have publicly sold him out. they will assist the rebels and they may be doing so already. i dont think the west wants to be too public in there assistance and there by encourage other would be revolutionaries in the region "yep just get it started and we'll have your back".the status quo is preferred. i would bet the cia is in Saudi Arabia now pro actively helping to stamp out any revolutionary fires before they get going. most of the dictators in that region are "friends" of the west. Obama's conflicted, he want to show support to"freedom and democracy" but really would prefer everything quieted down over there.

"West wo't allow him to hold power".

Rather passive tone for a situation that requires pointed action. How will they disallow it? Who will take action?

their methods are varied,i cannot speculate. one way or another.

Meaning that they'll flap their jaws vigorously in between leisurely sips of their lattes, which is all we can ever expect of the EU and UN even in far more awful situations, and "hope" that the gentle breeze so generated blows him away?

Maybe Libya is the EU's problem. They will lose the oil immediately and they will get the refugees.

Seems they are screwed and they may want to do more than flap jaws, but they will ask the US to spill more blood instead.

Maybe if the Euro begins to deteriorate, they will decide to do something.

Wonder if the Euro can survive the whole escapade if inaction is the chosen course of action.

The Egyptians have 220 F-16s and a fairly modern army. They should be able to rescue Cyreniaca and the eastern oil fields. Besides, their populace needs a distraction.

After all, the Brits took Tobruk twice from the east.

Are you suggesting a move to "stabilize" or an Egyptian invasion?

Would be better to call it stabilization I imagine?

With the approval of the Arab League and some vague mandate from the UN Security Council, Egypt could move to prevent the crimes against humanity which Gaddahfi is perpetrating, and as a consequence, remove him from power.

There was a rehersal in 1977: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libyan-Egyptian_War

During the Libyan-Egyptian War, there were some skirmishes between Libyan and Egyptian fighter jets. In one instance, two LARAF MiG-23MS engaged two EAF MiG-21MF that had been upgraded to carry Western weaponry. The Libyan pilots made the mistake of trying to manoeuvre with the more nimble Egyptian fighters, and one MiG-23MS was shot down by EAF Maj. Sal Mohammad, while the other Libyan aircraft used its speed advantage to escape.

With the aircraft we have been furnishing Egypt as part of our $1.5 annual military aid, Egypt should have no trouble establishing a no-fly zone, destroying Libyan armour, and providing close air support to the insurgents.

Sounds like a plan.

Given that the UK sent a diplomatic feeler to the rebels and then had them returned in handcuffs I wouldn't too sure that the rebels are receptive to UK style intervention.

That said, our Tory party really haven't learnt much about foreign diplomacy since we were last in Libya, chasing Rommel in tanks.

I have only taken one course in economics, so I am slow on the take for this. The way I am understanding this is that speculation is the response to fears of shortage which results in increased supplies for importers. So if US supplies are increased, it is a response to rising prices which further increases the price. So when MSM reporters are saying we "are awash in oil," they are saying that our petroleum in storage has increased. But the reason we are awash in oil is that we are behaving like squirrels and storing up nuts for the winter because we know the winter will be hard. The reason that the mainstream media is saying that we are awash is that they are looking at the wrong metric, not looking at production and exports, but looking at what we have stored. I know that when there are rising prices, I personally tend to top off my tank quicker to try and buy gas at the lower price. Am I the speculator? Is that about right?

If every driver in the US topped up their tank tomorrow, it would remove of the order of 50 million barrels from storage.

Which would drop storage for refined products below minimum operating levels.

That is true. There is a category of models that explains these kinds of flows, which scientists call compartmental or multi-compartment models. The movement of material flows between compartments, and based on the rate of transfer between various compartments one can find out which compartments have the most importance.

The Oil Shock Model is the only example of a compartment model that you will find applied to oil depletion. I have it written up in The Oil ConunDrum. I can easily do the model of everyone topping up their gas tanks. It certainly is interesting.

You are getting warm. The article up top "Oil's Inventory Warning" tells it like it is.

I have ranted several times that there is little relationship between inventories and price in commodities. This is because price is set in the futures market.

The futures markets are just what the name says. They are about the future supply and not about current inventories. Players spend lots of time analyzing the situation in their commodity. I do it myself for corn, being a corn farmer. They know what is going on fundamentally and technically (at least most of the time and taken as a group).

When inventories rise it means that more sellers are holding. When inventories fall it means more sellers are selling. Sellers hold when they think the price is going up. So rising inventories means increasing prices most of the time.

In my case I tend to hold corn in the bin at harvest, although last fall we sold about half due to high prices. I'm still holding the rest.

When sellers sell they think the price is going down. When they do this, inventories of course drop. In my case, I generally sell corn in May-June. Corn inventories are dropping and will continue to drop until harvest. The market is peaking, going down and looking forward to the fall harvest again whereupon the cycle repeats with inventories reaching a peak. Once corn inventories have peaked, prices generally start climbing around December.

The cash price is based on the futures price. It follows the futures which as the name says is about what the future supply will be and not about what is currently on hand.

The idea that current inventories have anything to do with prices of commodities is mostly nonsense.

While browsing the IEA database I came across OECD total net imports. I brought them up in Excel. I deleted all four net exporters, Canada, Mexico, Norway and Denmark, then totaled the rest to find out what the rest of OECD nations had imported, January 2000 thru October 2010. Here is the results in thousands of barrels per day along with the 12 month average.

Notice that the 12 month average peaks at 33,368 kb/d in September of 2006 and in October 2010 stood at 28,166 kb/d. That is a drop of 5,202 kb/d in the 12 month average in four years. That works out to be 15.6 percent!
There is an error in my title tag. It should be labeled "Net Imports" not Crude imports.

OECD Imports

Ron P.


Does this graph illustrate the drop in demand as economies mature? That is a huge drop in net imports and yet our inventories remain substantial.


The drop in demand was brought about by the recession. And of course there was the drop in net oil exports from oil exporting countries. Their exports fell almost 3 million barrels per day while OECD imports were dropping 5 million barrels per day. That means that non OECD countries like India and China were actually increasing their imports by about 2 million barrels per day.

Inventories can remain quite high if no one wants to buy the oil. However inventories can be quite even while prices are high as we see right now. High inventories does not mean refineries must lower their prices in order to dump inventory.

The fact that imports have not recovered to their prior levels means that the oil is just not there because we must now compete with India and China for oil. World production has recovered somewhat from the bottom hit in early 2009 but it is still not back to where it was in the summer of 2008. And the recession, to my mind, is still raging though the pundits says it is over.

The OECD countries represented in this graph, all except the four exporting nations, will never again import as much oil as they did in 2005 and 2006. Peak oil imports for these countries are in the rear view mirror. I mean 5 million barrels of new oil for them to import will never be there, never! That means for much of the world Peak Oil is also in the rear view mirror.

Ron P.

And the recession, to my mind, is still raging though the pundits says it is over.

Last Friday I heard on t.v. an interview with Timothy Geithner. The U.S. is still in the middle of a financial crisis. Charlie Rose asked: "why is the economy so fragile ?" He should have read the book "the next economy" from Paul Hawken or the articles from Gail and he would know the answer.

Peak oil imports for these countries are in the rear view mirror.

Ron, when you see the traffic jams in Holland, Germany, etc it doesn't seem so. How is that possible ?

I'm not Ron, but I offer these two responses - First, the peak is the all-time high. So when you are just past peak, you are nearly at the all time high. Still lots of fuel for the machine. Just no longer a growing amount. 2nd, it is the US that has thus far given up the greatest portion of imports for the countries in question.

First, the peak is the all-time high. So when you are just past peak, you are nearly at the all time high.

Cliftman, you are missing what the entire debate is all about. No, the oil available to us, (OECD importing countries), is definitely not nearly at an all time high. It is about 15 percent below that all time high which was in 2005. That was of 2009 because the EIA has not published exporting and importing data for 2010. But I would wager 2010 did not see an improvement in net exports.

Oil available is lower in all importing countries with the exception of India and China, as far as I can tell. So your question would be if oil production is near an all time high, why is this the case. Well it is known as the Export Land Model created by Jeff and Sam. Here it is in a nutshell:

Oil exporting countries, in order to appease their populace, is making oil products, gasoline, diesel and even electricity, available at very cheap prices. I have read that Gasoline in Venezuela is 9 cents a gallon. These cheap prices makes their consumption go up very fast and they consume more and more of their own products, exporting less.

So basically peak oil, when measured as oil available to importing countries, was in 2005. Crude Oil available to all importing countries is down almost 5 percent since 2005 or about 3 million barrels per day. But since India and China have actually increased their imports it is much greater than that in other importing countries.

Ron P.

Sheesh, Ron, your rigid literalness hinders you sometimes. I should think I've been commenting on here long and doomerishly enough for you to know that I am right there with you in the future that I see coming. And I certainly well grok Jeffrey's Exportland model. I guess our difference just now hinges on the word 'nearly'. I would say that within 15% is very much nearly the all time high. And the question at hand is how come there are still traffic jams, busy roads, etc? Until we are 'well past' peak available net imports, those roads will remain full, so as to be indiscernable from 'peak jams' at least by mere informal observation. When does 'near peak' transition to 'well past'? Down 25%, 33%? I dunno. But when it happens, the roads will be discernably less full.

In germany some 600,000 cars are running on NG ( Autogas). Extreme low hanging fruits like sugar beens are also in the game to stretch diesel / gasoline.

Autogas is LPG propane/butane mix though so it is included in a country's "all liquids" or "total oil supply" figures. If they were actually running on NG (methane) then that would not show up in total oil consumption.

By the way every time I see your posts I hear the Dallas theme tune :-)

Liquid fuel wise, ethanol so far is preventing TSHTF. In desperation we could even do coal to liquids. Substitutions continue, we're on the way to burning it all, or more succinctly as much as we possibly can.

Han, I just did a quick check and the Netherlands net imports were 1,026,000 bp/d in 2005 and 953,000 bp/d in 2009, that is only 7 percent so there they have fallen less than half the amount of the rest of OECD importing nations. Germany's net imports were 2,256,000 bp/d in 2005 and 1,973,000 in 2009 or a drop of 12.7 percent so they are only doing slightly better than the rest of OECD.

As far as traffic jams go, we still have them here and they look just about as bad as they did in 2005. I can't explain that but I suppose the difference of 15 percent would not be noticed.

Ron P.

Traffic here is back to 2007 peaks. The line to the mall is as bad as ever. There is no doubt the economy here is rebounding. The only question is, for how long?

Hello Ron,
explanation is easy: all oil does not goes to cars, far from it in fact. In Belgium, where we have high taxes combined to a stupid system of company cars that employees can use, with thus free diesel/gasoline, we have this (see iea):
gasoline: down, as more and more cars are diesel (diesel is less taxed than gasoline...which explain the trend) http://omrpublic.iea.org/demand/be_gs_ov.pdf
heating oil: clearly down (http://omrpublic.iea.org/demand/be_ho_ov.pdf)
industrial uses: clearly down too (http://omrpublic.iea.org/demand/be_fo_ov.pdf)
diesel for cars: up (see http://omrpublic.iea.org/demand/be_dl_ov.pdf)

Total: http://omrpublic.iea.org/demand/be_tp_ov.pdf, about 15% less. With more cars that ever and our car salon in January which was a great success...

explanation is easy: all oil does not goes to cars, far from it in fact.

Then you say: in Belgium they started to use more diesel instead of gasoline. If that was not possible you should expect problems with 7-15% less oil, unless they can get a higher percentage gasoline out of a barrel. Using less other oilproducts like kerosene doesn't give you more gasoline. And indeed, a lot of oil does not go into cars, I read that 1 million cars need on average 50.000 barrels/day.

The European 'Cash for Clunkers' schemes significantly improved the average mpg of the car fleet.

Many households have more than one car. Average mpg per household can be improved by driving the higher MPG vehicles for a larger percentage of the time.

Driving style can drastically affect consumption. In the UK there is anecdotal evidence of lower average speeds on motorways. Accident rates are at record lows. That implies more economical (and safer ) driving style.

I have just bought a smaller, more efficient car. Average mpg goes from 35 to 70 overnight (imperial).

So the next question: when will we actually start seeing fewer wheels on the roads? Take just a few percent more oil out, and it gotta take a toll on "road coverage".

Well, it looks like the average US gasoline price is starting to settle in near $3.49999.
Good thing it doesn't move up to $3.50, or that might "Trigger Pain" in an economy that is trying to climb out of a recession.

Now at $3.51 per CNN

Oh, no I can't bear the excrutiating pain, please, please bring it back down to $3.499.

I'm not sure where CNN gets the numbers, or that it matters. I just tuned in while having a sandwich. These folks don't pay much attention to what they're saying anyway. Christine Romans said three times in her segment on oil; "It's not a supply problem, it's a demand problem"..... Uh.....

I've noted how they (all channels) often slip up and say "What we have to keep saying is there is no supply problem". Doh! that's (the bolded bit) supposed to be the off-stage instruction - you don't say it out loud :-)

OK. It's a demand problem. So cut your demand, damn it.

Do the math with a Prius getting 50 miles per gallon driving 10,000 miles a year. Gas goes up a buck. Total increase per year is then $200. My increase in my health insurance was way higher than that and has been so every year for the last ten years. For those actually feeling the pain, you were warned and got a wakeup call in 2008. But you went back to sleep. Too bad, so sad.

Yes, this will have a big impact on entire economy. That is because the vast majority chose to pretend that gas prices going up was just a one time event. Feel the pain.

For those driving 25K or more per year, and getting 25mpg or less, it's not quite so rosy I imagine. Worse, though, is that their insurance went up, as have their grocery bills, and credit card bills. Many may have seen this coming yet had little ability to react. EVERYTHING is more expensive except nat gas around here, it seems.

Don't worry - natural gas will go up also.

LOL - I get at least 30mpg in regular commuting, so that increase would cost me $333 per year. On the other hand it was paid off 7 years ago, and if I had bought a Pious in 2008 I can assure you it would be costing much more than the $133 annual difference - EVERY MONTH! It is easy to find a used car that will do around 30mpg in regular driving, and just about impossible to make purchasing a new Prius make financial sense. Especially if it requires taking on debt.

Moreover, there's no reason to be doing all that driving. Live close to work, work close to home - or better yet live at work, or work from home! Combine trips, and stay at home on the evenings and weekends.

Our economy may tank, but we'll survive, especially with infotainment to keep us distracted and food stamps to keep our bellies full.

Even with peak oil we are quite far from catabolic collapse, people, and even then it's more a process than an event.

Mind you, I try to keep focused on the big picture and peak oil is just one of many different factors at play here.

Hold on! $4.00 by April 2011!

April 1st?

No, on April 1st it will be $0.99...on April 2nd, well you know the drill.

Note that US gas has only been this expensive for 5 months ever (middle of 08). On the plus side, that must mean we're not in a recession, but in a period of robust and sustainable growth, since that's what we had last time we reached this height. On, and a modest worry about mortgage debt, but only as a contained problem.

Move along. Move along. Nothing to see here.

Oil at $106 per barrel today, and will rise to $150 by Summer.
We will revert back to 2008 crisis in the world shortly.
US strategic reserve is only good for about 90 days. Max production for the SPR is 4 mb/day.
Saudi revolt is next, then when Nigeria and Algeria follow up, it will be game over.

I remain extremely skeptical that there will be a Saudi uprising of any kind in the next few years. The political climate there is totally different than in most other parts of the Middle East.

The current Nigerian conflict started in the early 90s. So Nigeria cannot be "next" because conflict is already raging there.

I have no idea about Algeria however.

Ron P.

Nigeria will escalate and render huge drop in production.....
Saudi is good at covering up what goes on in the country.....Don't forget that it is Bin Laden's home.....
Algeria same as Libya......
Check back with me in about 6 months.

4 million barrels per day for 90 days would still leave the SPR half-full. Either you have your capacity wrong or you somehow believe it is currently only half-full.

And talking of Louisiana, their light sweet crude is already $14 more expensive than the WTI price you quote above.

You are correct, but my point is that the SPR is SMALL in comparison to U.S. and World consumption.
If we had to rely on the SPR, we would run dry very soon....

tow - Latest number from the feds: 727 million bo in the SPR. Saw some interesting points when I read the laws governing SPR withdrawls. The most interesting: SPR cannot be drawn down below 500 million bo. Can the president overide this law? Can congress? A simple majority...super majority? If oil doesn drop back soon I suspect we'll get some answers in the next 6 months. I have absolute faith that the rise in oil price over the last few months will push us into a economic downturn if not an out right recession in 12 months. That would give the president and all the congressional members just enough time to pull out some very desparite measures that might help in their 2112 relection IMHO.

Very interesting political theater ahead of us.

If Wikipedia is correct maybe the US needs permission from Israel to drain it down too far.


According to the 1975 Second Sinai withdrawal document signed by the United States and Israel, in an emergency the U.S. is obligated to make oil available for sale to Israel for up to 5 years

Curiously 5 years of normal consumption for Israel according to the EIA (at 2009 levels) is about 430 million barrels.

tow - Thanks. Even more interesting times ahead than even I was anticipating.

How is the Israili-Eqyptian gas supply issue by now, I wonder?

Has Israel started production from its off-shore discovery yet? I imagine they take energy dependence pretty seriously. Or is Syria-sly?

The supply from Egypt hasn't been resumed yet, but they don't really need it. They burn natural gas because it's cleaner, but if it's not available, they burn oil.

Their natural gas field won't come online for a couple of years. There's talk of buying gas from the Palestinians.

Opening the SPR could bring down price spikes in theory by flooding the market with oil. Other countries have their own SPRs.

The demand curve is steeply sloped to the right/inelasticity of demand so a small reduction in supply causes a large price increase. This is why oil lends itself to speculation(prices rise fast but fall slowly).

The supply curve gently falls to the left , so the effect of futher demand destruction (consumers reacting to higher prices) would require huge voluntary reductions in fuel use to get back to the 'good ole' prices.

Suppose oil refineries were required to buy (a portion of)their oil from the SPR at the old price under a national economic emergency for say 30 days. That would crash the near term open market price of oil.

51% of US oil(18 mbpd) is imported and 33% of US oil comes from Canada or Mexico. So basically we only need to offset 3.6 mbpd of oil.

The 2008 +$100 price spike lasted only ~4 months.
If the SPR supplied 3.6 mbpd for 120 days it would amount to
432 mb.

At the same time the government will have a chance to encourage the public to slash gasoline consumption with special gas taxes and practical measures such as buying efficient cars, mass transit and rideshare.

Of course, conservos will consider this government sabotage of free-markets and purposely waste gasoline otherwise saved.

So what happens after 120 days?
Demand will have softened considerably while oil prices are still low.

No need to pay for high prices as demand destruction ensues.

I think the Econ 101 curves you present are a bit off. The supply is highly inelastic, meaning that the curve of price vs supply is quite steep. That's because there's a large increment of cost associated with bringing new supply on to the market and once the capex has been committed, the flow is likely to be nearly constant (actually, slowly declining). A small fractional reduction in demand thus produces a large drop in price, which is opposite to what your graph shows. Mankiw (Macroeconomics, third edition) has a brief discussion of this situation at the end of the book, in which he adds another curve to the usual supply/demand graph, which he calls the "Long-run aggregate supply" or "natural rate of output", that is almost vertical.

If the situation in Libya is the cause of the present spike, it's the result of only some 1.5 mbbls/day of lost production. Of course, the speculators are also interested in events in Bahrain and Oman as well as the prospect for disruption in Saudi output...

E. Swanson

But you're making my point about using the SPR to keep down oil prices, aren't you?

The objective should be to keep oil market prices flat.

Once you allow a tiny increase (due to small reduction of crude production)it takes a long time(if ever) for demand destruction to bring the price down to the inital price by a very sizeable reduction in crude consumption, which is unlikely.

IMO, the SPR should be used actively to thwart speculators to surpress the oil price.
Then the government should directly discourage consumption by gas taxes and directly encourage mass transit, rideshare and high efficiency vehicles to reduce overall demand.

The end result is a reduction money going down the drain or out the door to Big Oil or OPEC.

How much could be saved?

75 mbpd x 365 x ($140-100)=$1T per year world wide.

SPR now is just sitting there banking oil.
Put it to use.

Now is not the time to tap into the SPR, supplies are flowing even if they are more expensive.

When there is a significant threat of widespread supply disruption, actual lack of necessary fuel, then is the time to tap the SPR.

For right now the market is doing its job adequately.

Releasing oil from the SPR only works if the oil is offered at a lower price than that presently in the market. That would result in lower prices for the US and delay any "demand destruction" which would result from the higher prices over time. Adding gas taxes would raise the price at the pump, which is what the American public finds so distressing at the moment. They would argue, why add a tax while selling the oil from the SPR at a discount to the market? Why not just sell the SPR oil at the market price? Worse, given our perception here on TOD that Peak Oil is upon us, selling SPR oil removes that oil from possible future use if things really get out of control later, which is a reasonable expectation. I think the SPR oil should be saved for the next war, that is to say, what ever happens after we have given up our imperialist illusions in Iraq and Afghanistan and are hunkered down in a real existential crisis with the enemy at the gates...

E. Swanson

Maybe we need a "Tactical" Petroleum Reserve for the people who don't understand "Strategic".

merril - Excellent point. There was some chatter a while back about doing exactly that: stock piling fuel oil in the NE to deal with price spike/shortages. I suppose the same could be said for gasoline. Of course to begin such an effort today would only put more upward pressure on prices for those commodities.

The US military uses about .5 mbpd of oil during Iraq so the SPR of 500 mb could only last 1000 days at most and basically the wars have lasted three times as long. Is this enough time to commandeer and restore those oil supplies? Bush has proved we are too stupid to do that.

Right now this asset which will never be used( 'What there's a war?') is just a meaningly prop to wave at OPEC.

Also the US doesn't get most of it's oil from MENA(unlike Asia).
Are we grabbing Asia's oil?

The US is really guarding the a portion of the whole world's oil supply in MENA.


I agree that demand destruction occurs eventually but surely it is better if it happens at lower prices.
Let's say that the only way to reduce demand is high gasoline prices and the government passes a gasoline tax raising revenue but at the same time opens the SPR, sending moderately priced oil to refineries.
The pain on consumers will be there but much of the distracting inflation won't be.

Also if oil prices are kept low it is easier to buy it back.

IMO, the SPR should be used actively to thwart speculators to suppress the oil price.

Hahahahahaha! ROFLMAO. Amateur politicians are going to outsmart experienced traders. A likely story. Most likely, overwhelmingly likely, the government would do what it does best: buy high and sell low.

Experienced traders missed the 2008 oil crash.
They're not geniuses, and some of them are just dopes.
If the government was freed from corrupt pols the government would already be using the SPR to suppress oil prices.

"If the government was freed from corrupt pols...[the dependent clause just doesn't matter]"

And if pigs could fly, and if every kid who demanded one could have a pony...

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It's in the inherent nature of government to be well-supplied with corrupt pols.

As I hear it, there's more power in the big Corporations now? Are they better, or just better dressed?

What's the sound of one, invisible hand clapping?

It is one of the ironies of late capitalism that the very values and characteristics that we laud in our CEOs and other "successful" business men, would in almost any other circumstance be considered obsessive, self-centered and destructive.

We want them to run our company, but we wouldn't want our daughter (or son, as the case may be) to marry them.

Korten, one of the creators of YES magazine has written recently that one of the more deft moves of modern day society is that it seems to have effectively turned the Deadly Sins all into Virtues.

For personal reasons, if you have the reference to that I would be very greatfull if you would mail it tome (in my bio) or so. I am working on something and would benefit from the qoute.

Glad to, but I'm not on my email pc..
hope you don't mind the link here.


The new edition goes much deeper into the values issues. One of my favorite new phrases is “greed is not a virtue, sharing is not a sin.”

I began delving into this really weird reality that the capitalist culture has taken what religion has characterized as the seven deadly sins, and has actually come to characterize those as virtues and to label the corresponding virtues as sins. I mean it’s turning the whole moral framework on its head and convincing us that somehow the pursuit of the seven deadly sins is really good for society and helps us build wealth and happiness. It’s the most incredible moral perversion and the fact that this is not widely recognized is sort of like “oh my goodness.”

My highlighting..

Enjoy.. and it's a great magazine, I encourage people to check it out and support them!

Interesting insight.

Greed + Selfishness = Good

Altruism + Being fellow man's keeper = Bad


Telling lies to + Deceiving ignorant people = Good

WikiLeaks = Bad

Pretending "Clean Coal" + Tech Tooth Fairy exists = Good

Coming clean about Peak Oil = Bad

Selling one's soul to the system = Priceless


To paraphrase a personal friend who occasionally posts here, we have box seats for the most interesting twenty years of all time-coming right up.

I am with you all the way on the current price of oil , or only a little higher price, being enough to put the economy back into the hospital.

Personally I am not in danger of missing any meals, or going without heat or anything of that nature, but I have very little money, and most of the people I know these days are in the same situation-I strongly suspect that a tight budget is only a concept, rather than a reality, to most of the members here.

Most of those who are not confirmed doomers just don't seem to get it;the economy is still on the ropes, it has not really recovered, and the good times are over, barring a miracle.The best we can hope for is that we remain more or less functional, and don't descend into a state of rebellion -we already have more people in ail than any place else except third world countries, and opportunities for those of us without good educations and the social graces are nearly non existent.

In many respects we are sitting on powder kegs here in the US, but only a few of us seem to realize just how precariously near to economic collapse we might be.

The bottom third of this country is in one hell of a bind, and I don't see much sign of things getting better for them even without the runup in oil prices-which is also inevitably going to drive up just about every other price, excepting that of real estate, which will continue to deflate for some time yet.

When fifty million people who formerly could afford to have a fast food lunch a couple of times a week start packing lunch every day...when they quit paying for haircuts every two weeks and drop back to once a month, and cut back on the cable tv package, when they drive the old car a couple more years, when the rental house they depended on for a few hundred bucks extra every month is vacant.... well, the positive feedback loops can get pretty nasty pretty fast.

If and when ts gets well and truly into the fan, the cops in riot gear here in the states aren't going to be firing tear gas at folks armed only with rocks.....

And I doubt if many of our troops will be willing to fire on people just like themselves.....

If I were running for office, my campaign slogan would be "Vote for me and things won't go to hell quite as fast" ; and if I were to win, my first act would be to demand a recount.

mac - Yep...all so true and so sad. My feelings used to ride a rollercoaster for our fellow citizens. But as time goes by my sympathies decline. It’s one thing to watch folks set themselves up for pain out of ignorance. But as stubbornness and selfishness starts to guide those poor choices it not as easy to make excuses for them. All the more difficult to accept the approach of the vast majority of our political “leaders”. All I can do is isolate myself and make sure my family is provided for. Everyone else is on their own. Certainly not the country I grew up in (at least in my mind at the time). In my foolish youth I was willing to sacrifice myself “for the good of the country” even though the situation didn’t really make a lot of sense at the time. But we all did our duty one way or the other. You’re old school also so I know you understand.

So either I’ve changed a lot or the country has. Or both probably. Every day it more “me” and “them’…not “us”.


I'm with you again in respect to "selfishness and stubborness" and that part of the citizenry with a bit of education, who supposedly should have learned to think for themselves.

Certainly I will exhibit very little symapthy for teavchers,. lawyers, engineers, accountants, ort any other such people who get caught by the bear of ff depletion with thier pants around thier ankles due to failure to use thier noggins.

But I really feel for the many millions without the advantages enjoyed by people like us-they have mostly played by the rules, as the rules have been explained to them, by thier political, religious, ecomomic , and cultural leaders, and tried to live decent lives and treat everybody else decently.

A hell of a lot MORE of them are going to live very hard lives soon, I am afraid, thru no fault of thier own.

A lot of them are going to resort to fighting fire with fire at some point.

When that happens all bets may be off.

My personal estimate is that if the oil were to stop flowing out of the Middle East for three months, ts would be in the fan here.

"But as stubbornness and selfishness starts to guide those poor choices it not as easy to make excuses for them. ... All I can do is isolate myself and make sure my family is provided for. "

Huh, it sounds like you're making the same choices as the people you're so down on. So why condemn them for it?

Here in Sweden the economy have obviously turned. I am unemployed and gets to meet people from the unemployment office regularly, and I can tell you they are optimistic now. Companies are about to start hiering any day now. They are already begining to buy stuff to meet the comming up in bussiness, and soon they will start buying meet. (Hireing pople that is). Our minister of finance is talking about below 4% unemployment by 2015. And Sweden have managed to keep a lid on the growth of our national debt as well. We are soon returning to Buissiness As Usual. Halalujah!

And in the meanwhile Brent is jumping up and down between 110 and 120 dollars. Our economy is based on export of manufacured goods. Not on export of resources. Not on exports of currency. So when (not if) the weels come of the world economy, certain people at the finance department will be very surpriced.

"the economy is still on the ropes...."

Yeah, Mac, IMO even worse. The power elites have again taken perhaps the last big kick at the can, confirming their status as robber barrons, while the middle classes, arguably the source of America's former 'greatness', have seen their assets devalued to the point of liabilities. They have ingested the MSM soma, been divided (and conquered, IMO), and are beginning to wander in the wilderness of a future they won't recognise; they have no context, nothing to compare it to. Their response won't be rational, nor will it be selfless, excepting, hopefully, pockets of folks like us. But, like Rockman, I am to the point of putting compassion on the back burner. IMO, time is short, and I'll weep for the planet first.

I'm off to work, burning another 6+ gallons of the 'good stuff', with full awareness that this too shall pass. A little frost this morning.

That would give the president and all the congressional members just enough time to pull out some very desparite measures that might help in their 2112 relection IMHO.

2112? when the meek shall inherit the earth??

Never mind 2112, I'm just hoping we've got another couple of months as I'm off to see them on the "Time Machine" tour in Glasgow on the 14th May :-) Last time I saw Rush was over 20 years ago.

Must admit we could do with an "elder race of man" right now - "Attention, all planets of the Solar Federation: We have assumed control".

Oh happier times :)

Indeed. The thinking-man's rock band. For better or worse, a significant piece of the maturation of my psyche.

I am patiently awaiting a new round of meaningful music as the western world grinds down another notch and angst rises to match. IMHO, few bands since the 70's have attempted to combine feeling, philosophy, and reason in their lyrics. I hope my kids will find something better than hip-hop to guide their subliminal pathways. At least the influence of techno and dub-step from Europe is pulling hip-hop and rap into a more comprehensible pattern for somebody old like me. Now they just need lyrics!

it didn't get much cooler than wearing a brand new 2112 concert tee shirt to school. Sigh.

Perhaps an amendment to their "Signals" album with a new song...

..."Peak Oil Man"

Oh, and it would be acoustic of course!


'...I see still the incredible beauty of the sculptured cities and the pure spirit of man
Revealed in the lives and works of this world. I was overwhelmed by both wonder and
Understanding as I saw a completely different way to life, a way that had been crushed
By the Federation long ago. I saw now how meaningless life had become with the loss of
All these things...'

No;The SPR is not half full.Reminds me of what Matt Simmons remarked.He pointed out was that a lot of oil was actually sludge accumulated over several years like you would get if you stored oil for a long time and also a few million barrels was required for MOL to keep the system and pipelines afloat.IIRC he said we should count it at 65-70% capacity of what the govt figures are.

I love how gasoline Pain is a discontinuous function with respect to price that has a moving-goalpost component to it as well. LOL.

And suddenly we all we pain.

Gasoline is not like you suddenly get stabbed at $3.50. it is like a thousand tiny needles going into you, where each 0.1 cent is another needle. it all adds up.

The average America is being handed a lot of dopey talk these days.

Ah, maybe it's a new branch of acupuncture - now there's a concept. Anyway, whether ten seconds' worth of news occurs in a given day, or ten hours' worth, the main networks will have precisely the same amount of time to fill. On most days they're surfeited with excess capacity, so they'll be shoveling the fill just as fast as they can. It's simply their job...

Then again, maybe the demand [curve] for gasoline is actually kinked at $4 or $3.4999 or some other suspiciously round number. Then again, maybe not, since the article underlying the linked item informs us that "Rachel" considered alternatives to $4 gas, but nothing at all suggests that she actually took one of them.

One thing that is very different here is that so many people who are near the bottom of the ecomomic ladder have gotten used to planning thier lives around cheap gasoline.

Many members of my family who earn extremely modest incomes commuter up to fifty miles to work-not because they like to ride, but because cheap gasoline enables them to live in far nicer surroundings, in far nicer houses, with large lots or acreage, than they could ever afford in or near a city.

A hundred dollars worth of gasoline in a cheap running car is worth three times that amount in reduced rents around most of Virginia and North Carolina ;I expect the situation is similar elsewhere.

The property taxes on my former house in Richmond are more by far than the taxes on our farm , house included, out in the former boonies of southwest Virginia.The farm house is a larger and nicer house to boot.

It is not at all unusual for families with combined incomes of under forty thousand dollars to live and be paying for houses in a rural area that would cost close to half a million in many places, including northern Virginia close to DC.

One of the problems the US has is that American governments subsidize the construction of roads running everywhere, but they do not subsidize the construction of cheap housing close to urban centers.

This is a basic American government prejudice against subsidizing high-density house construction (evil socialism) but in favor of subsidizing sprawling road construction (good free enterprise).

There is nothing intrinsically expensive about building high-density housing close to urban centers. If you reverse the bias of roads vs housing, you can achieve completely different results. If you tax driving but subsidize housing, the result is cities more like what you see in Europe.

In the post-peak-oil era of high and rising fuel prices, the European model is better because it allows people to walk to essential services, and makes electric rail transit more feasible. The American model ensures that people cannot walk anywhere, and they do not have any alternative to driving everywhere.

A lot of British people at least, already walk or bus most places (can't comment so much on Europe). There's a huge class of poorly paid workers in the UK that cannot really afford to run a car, public transport is far more practical for them. I don't have any stats, it's just something that I observed when I lived there.

In Australia (where I live now) just about everyone has a car. As oldfarmermac eluded to above, most families in the US also run a car. However, something that I didn't really know about the US until recently was how much lower the salaries for low-paid jobs are, compared to here. For example, an oil-rig roustabout in the US I believe can be paid as little as $12/hour - the Australian rate would be 2 or 3 times that.

Makes me think the group of people most sensitive to oil price hikes, at least in the developed world, are low-paid US workers.

Makes me think the group of people most sensitive to oil price hikes, at least in the developed world, are low-paid US workers.

That's true, and most Americans don't realize it. Low-paid workers in other countries can take public transit and avoid the costs of car ownership. They can get along quite nicely without a car because the society is structured so that they don't need one.

Also, they typically get free health care, which is a major problem for low-paid US workers, plus a lot of other government-supplied freebies. The taxes are higher but those are mostly paid by the more affluent people.

There is nothing intrinsically expensive about building high-density housing close to urban centers... If you tax driving but subsidize housing, the result is cities more like what you see in Europe.

Yeah, but. Possibly so, in the domain "anything's possible". Back in the real world, as Kunstler has pointed out, we find, among other things, that in most developed countries nowadays, multistory buildings are required to devote ridiculous quantities of expensive floor space to costly elevators, umpteen bazillion stairwells, ramps, etc. etc.; this being for safety, "safety", and disability-access. Plus, land doesn't exactly come free near city centers. Plus, you tend to get confiscatory taxes in big cities. Plus, in big US cities, you tend to get unsafe and ineffective schools that no parent in their right mind wants to send their children to, so the huge expense of private school may come into play (and Political Correctness Run Amok will prevent that from being fixed any time soon if ever.) In many cases, these expenses can overbalance the cost of a lot of gasoline or diesel, even at $8/US gallon.

And of course, what, pray tell, do naïve USA-ians typically "see in Europe"? Yes, indeed, the hideously expensive, centrally located touristy spots where only the very affluent can ever hope to live. The hoi polloi, for the most part, don't get to live in utopia, but instead in some cramped hole located in outskirts that tourists and well-paid expats never visit or even hear of. They'll be in the cités of the banlieues of France, or in the phenomenally ugly "sink estates" all too common in England, or in awful pensions on the periphery of Madrid, or in similar rubbish in some other language. IOW they're not in trendy apartments on café-studded streets in the tourist quarters of Paris; they're stuck in crummy apartments on the sterile streets of Evry, or worse - sometimes much, much worse, which is what some of the famous rioting lately, as well as over the years, has been about.

Oh, and unless they're very lucky, it'll take them forever to get to and from work. Their crummy apartment will be well beyond the range of the main urban metro or tram system, and even if it just happens to be near an (expensive) suburban train line, their work won't be near the same line. No, every day, twice a day, they'll be needing two or three creeping, crawling stop-at-every-corner buses to make the endless dreary journey.

Really, the principle in much of Europe is in essence the same as in the USA - "drive until you qualify", except that Europe is so overcrowded that the best you may well qualify for is a shabby rental. While a case can be made that some such model will eventually be forced on US-ians, it's not exactly something one can honestly expect anyone to aspire to.

Europe is not a utopia, that is clear, but you are making the rest up. The vast majority of Europeans have access to quite nice and affordable public transportation, which extends to even the small towns beyond the urban areas.Madrid is a good example, just look at the Cercanías map.

By the way, the plural of pension is pensiones and they are heavily concentrated in the very center of Madrid, which is also where the "café-studded streets in the tourist quarters" are.

Similar for Paris, Vienna, Munich, Berlin, etc. It seems like you must be a naïve USA-ian who has never lived or visited Europe.

biophiliac, thanks, for saying nicely, what would have never made it past our mediator, had I said what I wanted to say about PaulS' post... +10

Paul just needs a big, group hug. On a bus. In a nice, safe European City.

...in most developed countries nowadays, multistory buildings are required to devote ridiculous quantities of expensive floor space to costly elevators, umpteen bazillion stairwells, ramps, etc. etc.; this being for safety, "safety", and disability-access. Plus, land doesn't exactly come free near city centers. Plus, you tend to get confiscatory taxes in big cities. Plus, in big US cities, you tend to get unsafe and ineffective schools that no parent in their right mind wants to send their children to, so the huge expense of private school may come into play (and Political Correctness Run Amok will prevent that from being fixed any time soon if ever.)

Paul, none of that is true of European cities in general, except in the biggest and most disfunctional of them. You are reasoning from analogy with the biggest US cities.

If you search around Europe you will find lots of nice, smaller cities which are good for raising a family in, with decent, affordable housing, good schools, good public transit, low crime and, of course, free health care. The taxes might be somewhat higher, but they will be hitting up the wealthy for more of it than in the US.

However, most of the world's most livable cities are in Canada and Australia. There you get the benefits of European cities (good schools, good public transit, low crime, and of course free health care) combined with the benefits of American cities (low population density, lots of cheap land, larger houses, lower energy costs, and relatively low taxes).

The Economist Intelligence Unit publishes a list of the world's most livable cities every year, and this year there were three Canadian cities (Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary) and one Australian city (Melbourne) in the top five, with one European city (Vienna, Austria) in the list. The second five included another European city (Helsinki, Finland), three more Australian cities (Sidney, Perth, Adelaid), and Auckland, New Zealand.

No US city rated higher than 29th, with Los Angeles placing 44th and New York City in 56th spot. I mean, realistically, big US cities are not very nice places to live. They are expensive, have lousy public schools, high crime rates, poor public transit, high taxes (and no free health care, of course). A lot of the flight to the suburbs resulted from more affluent people trying to escape the problems with the inner cities (rather than trying to solve them), but in the process they created new problems which are potentially more serious (e.g. high fuel consumption and transportation costs). In the long term the affluent may have to flee back to the inner cities to escape the problems in the suburbs - they're already starting to do that.

You can go to other developed countries and find big cities with none of these problems, although I wouldn't necessarily include the biggest European capitals (like London or even Paris) among them. They created some serious problems for themselves during their period of uncontrolled growth a century or two ago, and they haven't managed to solve them yet.

Canada and Aust both have low populations, plentiful resources, and massive sales of raw goods. I wonder if these countries, and those like Norway, suffer from their own brand of manifest destiny delusions?

I'm not saying those aren't good models for how cities and communities should work, only that a good influx of money helps with many societal ills (while creating others down the line).

Old Farm Mac, So you are in southwest Virginia? My farm is in northwest NC. yep, My taxes way cheaper here, with all the land and houses and outbuildings, than in the city where my other home is. Farm is totally in the boonies. Dude! You can't be far, come see me.

Americans have no concept of gasoline price pain -- $4/gallon is dirt cheap. Why can't the US handle this price point when Europeans with similar per capita incomes have no apparent trouble handling double this price. Is it per chance that Americans have become energy spoilt and bitch and complain as soon a wiff of wallet pain appears?

It's because the US population is more spread out. Additionally, Europe pretty much ran out of indigenous energy supplies 50 years ago, while the USA has continued to ride along on their vast reserves. Europe has to buy from Russia, the ME, or Africa, while the US has een able to buy from friendly Canada or mostly-friendly Mexico. European cities are more densly populated and better laid-out than most American cities, because they were first founded long before mechanisation and had embedded infrastructure, while most American cities were founded not long before mechanisation and didn't have much to change to take advantage of it.

America will shortly be learning the lessons Europe has had on-board for a long time.

Europeans feel the same pain that US drivers do, given that tax money mostly recycles. They just pay more for gas while getting more somewhere else.

That's only a first-order approximation, though. Since the US produces more oil locally, the US does get a break on some oil profits that get spent locally.

No news is better news: Weak supporting evidence can undermine belief in an outcome

Experiments by Brown University psychologists have produced positive evidence that people often think about positive evidence the wrong way -- if it is weak. Defying logic, people given weak evidence can regard predictions supported by that evidence as less likely than if they aren't given the evidence at all.

Consider the following statement: "Widespread use of hybrid and electric cars could reduce worldwide carbon emissions. One bill that has passed the Senate provides a $250 tax credit for purchasing a hybrid or electric car. How likely is it that at least one-fifth of the U.S. car fleet will be hybrid or electric in 2025?"

That middle sentence is the weak evidence. People presented with the entire statement — or similar statements with the same three-sentence structure but on different topics — answered the final question lower than people who read the statement without the middle sentence. They did so even though other people who saw the middle statement in isolation rated it as positive evidence for, in this case, higher adoption of hybrid and electric cars.

Fernbach put it this way: “People take what you suggest and run with it.”

Give people a weak reason and they’ll focus too much on it. Give people no evidence and they’ll supply their own probably more convincing reason to believe that the outcome is likely.

Hence, supportive but weak evidence seems to work against belief in a prediction.

WOW! you mean like "Change we can Believe in"?

Web use doesn't encourage belief in political rumors, but e-mail does

"I think a lot of people will be surprised to learn that using the internet doesn't necessarily promote belief in rumors. Many people seem to think that's self-evident," said R. Kelly Garrett, author of the study and assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University.

"The internet does make it easier to circulate rumors, but going online doesn't make us more gullible."

However, e-mail is a special case. People are much more likely to believe false rumors that they receive in e-mails from friends and family.

"The problem is that we are more likely to let our defenses down when we're dealing with our friends, which is why e-mail can have such harmful consequences. We don't normally question what our friends tell us," he said.

Alas, what about the true rumors that make the power structure look bad?

Wikileaks reveals Afghanistan, Iraq connection to Libyan revolt.


Having achieved some success, it appears the rebels are committed to a long struggle if necessary. Libyan oil may be under threat for longer than some think if the situation deteriorates like Iraq.

Not doubt Afghanistan trained fighters have little love for the U.S..

But the U.S. is planning to help them anyway using Saudi Arabia as a proxy:


If true, then did the militants know the problem with US/EU oil imports all along and they waited until the timing was right to shut down LIbya or did their revolt require the food problem to fuel the discontent.

IN any case, there is a perfect storm to take several million bbls off the export market as long as these groups keep the people riled up.

How safe are other major oil assets even if they are not centers of major discontent?

Seems oil pipelines are easy prey for bombs.

My personal estimate is that food prices are the most immediate and direct precipitating cause of the revolutions in progress in the Middle East-buit of course the situation was such that any sort of crisis could have set off the uprisings.

Had it not been food now, in another year or two it probably would have been something else-such as rationed electricity and rationed or unsibsidized fuel for cooking and transportation.

I tend to agree with you Mac, has anybody thought how this could cause a positive feed back loop that could finally collapse the Global economy Libya's oil is kept off the oil market for several months which raises the price of oil which feeds back by raising the price of food which put it more out of the reach of the MEA poor which causes even more riots with more countries collapsing causing more oil to be taken off the market and so on. Just a thought

Positive feedback mode looks very strong.

Think of the propaganda. The extremists can say the West is trying to starve them for their oil.

How perfect would that be to stir trouble?

Seems riots and wars are set to go up especially with crazy weather pulling food out of the system as well.

Opec members quietly boost production

Industry officials said that, when the full production increase materialised by the beginning of April, the move by Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Nigeria would almost close the hole left in the oil market by Libya.

They said the three countries were set to ramp up their production by up to 300,000 barrels a day in the next several weeks, on top of Riyadh’s own output boost of about 700,000 b/d. The surge in output is in part a policy decision and in part the restoration of production at several oilfields after maintenance.

And with that, indisputable, good news, the markets say: WTI should be up to $105.54.

People have short memories. Nobody remembers what OPEC said a month ago. Nobody will remember what OPEC said today, by April.

April 1 OPEC news release: ...Industry officials said that, when the full production increase materialised by the beginning of June (not saying what year), the move by ??? would almost close the hole left in the oil market by Libya, Saudia Arabia, Oman, Egypt, Nigeria, and others.

I believe every OPEC country is producing flat out right now, except Libya of course. When the March production data comes in we will know exactly how much oil OPEC can produce. But it will be another month before we get that data.

Ron P.

As I recall, you keep tabs on Russian production... and you are skeptical about their maintaining current production levels let alone increasing it, would that be fair?

But do you think it possible they could release oil from storage, or beggar their own domestic consumption in order to temporarily boost exports enough to stabilize prices?

The EIA, in their Short-Term Energy Outlook, table 3b says Russia will start to decline in the third quarter of this year. I don't disagree with them and think the decline could begin in the second quarter.

Remember Russia is not a national oil company like Saudi, they have several companies and they are all trying to make a profit. So no, I do not think they are holding back oil in storage for domestic consumption. All companies operating in Russia will try to maximize their profits.

Ron P.

Back around new year there was talk about Russia having its PO moment in november 2010. About then I found and posted a link to some guys predicting Russia PO in the year 2010. We'll see at the end of the year.

And that is the peak so far. The Russian site CDU TEK has not been updated since March 4th, but so far they look to be declining, well below the October and November numbers.

This article says Russian output may continue to increase until 2013 then start to decline. But with no new projects coming on line this year I expect the decline to start this year and would be very surprised if it does not.

Russian Oil Output Growth Will Be ‘Impossible,’ Bernstein Says

“With Vankor still flowing and setting a new base, but zero new field start-ups this year,” output will rise 0.6 percent in 2011, “before falling into negative territory by 2013,” the analysts wrote. “Only major tax reform could alter this view though none of the companies appear to be shifting their portfolios in a direction which suggests it is imminent.”

If they held production flat from where it is right now that would average at least .6 percent higher than 2010. But Vankor only has a short way to before it peaks, supposedly around June of this year. Rosneft, who owns the field, is showing signs of topping out. They have a lot of much older fields and Vankor's increase is now not quite making up for their decline.

I will make a flat out prediction that Russia's peak production will be around October-November 2010. If I am wrong I will admit it right here on Drumbeat.

The EIAs latest Short-Term Energy Outlook is just out. They now have Russia peaking in January 2010 and dropping very slowly, down 320,000 bp/d by December 2012.

They also show the US peaking (post Katrina) in December 2010 and dropping by 660,000 bp/d by December 2012. Of course everything in the Short Term Energy Outlook is all liquids.

Ron P.

I'm willing to bet a bucket of butter you will not need to admit anything...

Why would OPEC want to lower the price of oil and lower their profits?

I think you ment OPEC countries because there is no country called OPEC. Every OPEC country, save Saudi and possibly Kuwait and the UAE have been producing flat out for over a year now. Saudi, the UAE and Kuwait do not want to lower their profits but they do not want another economic collapse, taking prices back down to below $40 a barrel. That is why Saudi is producing flat out. I suspect that the UAE and Kuwait were pretty close to flat out before the Libyan thing.

If they were not already producing flat out they are now. Do you think they will let Saudi increase their profits by increasing production while they sit on any spare capacity they have.

So now they are all producing flat out but we will have to wait a month for the data. Then we will know exactly how much OPEC can produce.

Ron P.

I find the focus on output and not exports very interesting.

Nowhere does it say here that KSA has increased exports. I pointed out recently that KSA in late February also did not say it would increase exports, but said it would offer to increase output up to 700,000 bpd. Another highly reliable source confirmed the offer, but said KSA did not actually even increase output by 700,000 bpd, but maybe 300,000.

My wild guess is at the end of February KSA was running at a 9,000,000 bpd rate. I know that Platts says they were running higher, but others were also focusing on around the 9 mbpd figure.

Based upon shipping reports, KSA did not increase exports in February, and in fact, exported less. Note that OPEC oil tracker, Oil Movements, reported a significant decline in OPEC exports excluding Libya. Remember in late January the FT said that KSA would export significantly more in January. I haven't seen them follow up on that export prediction, and they seem to have backed off talking about exports and are now just talking about output. If anyone has some reports that show KSA has increased exports, then please post them. Again I am only talking about exports and not 'output'.

As a reminder, I did say last week that exports out of the Persian Gulf would increase at most about 350,000 bpd only on or after March 15. That may only bring exports out of the Gulf to levels we saw in mid-January, after falling from mid-January to mid-March.

I don't remember seeing this bit outta Britain - but homes joining what is already going on in places like Baghdad or those who have just that solar/wind that doesn't work....


Text from the image:

Era of constant electricty at home ending, says power chief

Well Duh!

" The grid is going to be a very different system in 2020,2040" He said.
We keep thinking that we want it to be there and provide power when we need it.
It is going to be much smarter than that.

"We are going to change our own behaviour and consume it when it's available and available cheaply"

Heh, finally someone who actually gets it!

As for that grid, it is not just smart, it's a genius, it only provides power when it can. Hahahahahaha!

Well Duh!

The we of TOD see this, but its "news" to a large part of the population.

PV panels, hot water radiant floor heating will be the base. Wood/gas/electrical from a grid to supplement.

.....don't need no stinkin' grid.....

The other day my wife and I were at one of those "home shows" - most of the exhibitors weren't terribly interesting. There was one guy who billed himself as an architect of "green homes", and for grins I decided to test him a little. I told him I was interested in the PassivHaus concept and he knew immediately what I was talking about and showed pictures of homes that he had built in the area that were along those lines (I didn't know enough myself to quiz him in detail, but in one house he showed a picture of the heating system which was just a small wall mount unit in a utility closet).

There was a woman there who does the soy-based spray foam insulation.

Lots of people selling windows of varying kinds. Some no-name brands claim to be good (but who knows how good they are really), and the big name brands which of course are pricey as can be.

One other observation that I can make in this area - carpeting is generally made from synthetic fibers (effectively meaning oil based). While it used to be that carpet was quite cheap, that's no longer the case, really. I am thinking that the concept of "wall-to-wall carpeting" will be yet another casualty of peak oil.


Wattsupwiththat. The Denialist website recently voted best Science Blog.

The Denialist website

Blah blah, attack the messenger blah blah.

Either the GIF is real or its not.
Either the person who is quote it said it or he didn't.

I don't really give a darn where a correct report comes from. Shall we stick to deconstructing the original report and the person who said it?

Blah blah, attack the messenger blah blah.

Not attacking, just commenting. Don't get your panties in such a bunch.

Considering an upswing in 'attack the messenger' for websites reporting on what an appointed official said, I wanted to toss out "hey - lets talk about if the article appeared in the newspaper, if the guy exists" etc.

Kinda like the debunking that happened with the 'global warming environmentalist found frozen in Antarctica' or 'collapsed wind turbine picture not as 1st represented at whattsupwiththat'.

Fair enough:

Mr Holliday was challenged over how the country would "keep the lights on" when it relied more on wind turbines as supplies of gas dwindled. Electricity provided by wind farms will increase six-fold by 2020 but critics complain they only generate on windy days.

Mr Holliday has asserted that the grid will be essentially kaput by 2020/30 because of wind turbines, because they only generate power on "windy days". Mr Holliday completely fails to consider technologies like pumped storage, flywheel storage, and cheap, recyclable batteries for local household storage, all of which will buffer the alleged intermittency of renewables, not to mention international interconnections to access generation further afield than a local weather pattern affects, reducing the load on the Grid by using more efficient appliances and offloading heat generation to solar thermal on your roof, or building new houses to PassiveHaus standards. Mr Holliday fails to recognise that wind farms are build to site-specific requirements, and so a "low wind" day will still develop a sigificant amount of power if the turbines are designed appropriately.
Mr Holliday claims consumers will have to change their behaviour because the Grid is stuffed, rather than users changing their behaviour because it's cheaper for them or fits their lifestyle (or their employment: staggered starting times reduces the daily peak demand in pretty much everything).
As for WUWT, the only reason the story has appeared on his blog is because it involves wind turbines, and wind turbine = AGCC, and AGCC = leftist conspiracy.

FWIW, I think GB can't stand alone. It needs those international interconnections and every efficiency measure it can scrape together, and fast.

See, there is an actual rebuttal.

Been nice to see if Mr. Holliday was actually who he was presented as, but like it or not, we humans are gonna have to get used to some variability in our energy consumption.

Run by a TV weatherman. That's all you have to know.


Sorry, I read a lot of science blogs. I also understand a bit about skewing online poll results.
That blog is neither a science blog nor does it come close to being number one in any category even remotely related to science. To paraphrase Shakespeare's Hamlet, Some thing really stinks in Denmark!

U.S., U.K. and France only care about Libya because of its oil supply.
They did nothing about Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and the others......
What a shallow position! Leaders don't care about the people, just the oil.....

Western Cant on the Middle East

Consider a few facts:

The Obama administration had two years ago stopped all US funds to human rights defenders and civil society groups in Egypt, stipulating that all aid must go through the Mubarak regime

President Karimov of Uzbekistan killed more peaceful demonstrators in a single day in May 2005 than Colonel Gadaffi has done in the Libyan uprising so far. Yet Karimov in the fast three months had a visit from Hillary Clinton, a new military supply agreement with the United States and new partnership agreement with NATO, an official visit to the EU in Brussels, and new tarriff preferences for slave picked Uzbek cotton entering the EU. Most people in Uzbekistan have not a clue the arab revolutions are happening, such is state control of meida and internet and blocking of airwaves

In 1991, when the allies embarked on the First Gulf War to retake Kuwait from Iraq, John Major and George Bush sr declared that, rather than simply put the absolute Kuwaiti monarchy back on its throne (which it had unheroically run away from), the price of western soldiers being asked to risk their lives was the democratisation of Kuwait. That was immediately forgotten after the war. Ordinary British, US and other taxpayers paid out billions to put one of the richest families in the world back in sole charge of massive oil reserves. The Kuwaiti royal family still has a total monopoly of executive power, with a talking shop parliament and very limited electorate.

The author is a former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan. "Former" because you are not allowed to tell the truth.

And the people care even less about the people. We've got an economy to run.

You know how Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen differ from Lybia?

In those three countries the government did not strafe or bomb their opponents, and the opponents were vocally opposed to any foreign intervention.

Rainwater Harvesting Study

For the past few years, one of the most common questions facing the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) hasn’t been over contentious water rights or proposed water projects; it’s been from homeowners wanting to know what type of roofing material is most suitable for collecting rainwater for indoor domestic use.

“Rainwater harvesting is becoming fairly widespread, at least in Central Texas. There’s interest born out of necessity because people are simply running out of water in rural areas...

The study, led by civil, architectural and environmental engineering Assistant Professor Mary Jo Kirisits, showed that, of the five roofing materials tested, metal (specifically Galvalume®), concrete tile and cool roofs produce the highest harvested rainwater quality for indoor domestic use. The study also showed that rainwater from asphalt fiberglass shingle roofs and increasingly popular “green” roofs contain high levels of dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Although other potential pollutants can be significantly lower on green roofs (turbidity and aluminum), the high DOCs are significant where these roofs would be used for potable rainwater collection.


'Saudi `Day of Rage' Lures $200 Oil Call Options: Chart of the Day'

Look at their charts!

Options traders are betting more than ever that crude oil is heading to $200 a barrel as some websites call for a “Day of Rage” in Saudi Arabia and anti- government protests spread in the Middle East and North Africa.

“If Saudi Arabia fails, then I say you have a fire in the house. They gave out $30 billion of money so maybe they’ll buy time. But I don’t see the problems disappearing.”

I hope the above is mostly hyperbole, but if not, oh my, what will the price of oil reach?

USC California superstorm would be costliest US disaster

A hurricane-like superstorm expected to hit California once every 200 years would cause devastation to the state's businesses unheard of even in the Great Recession, a USC economist warns.

Researchers estimate the total property damage and business interruption costs of the massive rainstorm would be nearly $1 trillion.

The storm simulation U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists termed "ARkStorm - or "atmospheric river storm" - is patterned after the U.S. West Coast storms that devastated California in 1861-62.

According to the USGS, the ARkStorm would:

* create hurricane-force winds of up to 125 miles per hour in some areas and flood thousands of square miles of urban and agricultural land to depths of 10 to 20 feet.
* set off hundreds of landslides that would damage roads, highways and homes.

* disrupt lifelines such as power, water and sewers that would take weeks or months to repair.

Wow, good thing climate change is a hoax and it can't increase the potential for damage from such a storm and luckily California is not prone to earthquakes either...cuz imagine what could happen if both of those things occurred simultaneously.

Makes me happy to be living in south Florida where the worst that could happen is category 5 hurricane making landfall once every decade or so.

Er, except that when sea levels rise a few feet there will be no more south Florida...

We just had an area of Australia the size of France and Germany combined underwater. Our third-largest city was flooded. Then NSW and Victoria copped the remains of the storms. Then QLD got hit by a Category 4 or 5 Cyclone (which is bigger than a Cat 4 or 5 in the US, because we use a different scale). Locally, the only rail line between Brisbane and Toowoomba (port and grain, respectivly) is shut for months, about half of Queenslands road network is damaged, including the D'Aguilar highway through the Blackall range (where half a hillside fell onto the road, then half the road fell into the ravine).

We get much better disasters down here. D

The good news is that all the coal mines got shut and half their railways got washed out. :)

'A Coal Famine in the Winter is an Ugly Thing'

Reliance upon fossil fuels, fuel shortages and consequent high fuel prices are not confined to the present. In the past, such shortages could reach crisis levels with serious economic consequences. The most notable local fuel crisis prior to the 1970s oil embargo was the 1902-03 coal shortage when Middleborough and Lakeville confronted the threat of a severe winter without fuel.

The 1902-03 shortage was prompted by a strike in the coalfields of eastern Pennsylvania on May 12, 1902. "A coal famine in the winter is an ugly thing, and I fear we shall see terrible suffering and grave disaster", President Theodore Roosevelt remarked to Senator Mark Hanna of Ohio, concerned that a protracted strike would have grave consequences beyond the mining industry

Just reading yesterday that Coal India the nodal coal supplier in India acknowledged that they do not have all the coal they have been talking about for years.Something like "reserves" vs "resource" issue.Bad timing since Indonesia just issued a ban on exporting thermal coking coal.Considering most of the power is thermal and plants sometime have only 3-4 days inventory this along with current oil prices is going to drag everything down.

And India, with an average income of just over $1000, has a 50 rupee (~$1) per ton tax on coal.

Good thing Western countries aren't "going out in front"...

Lots of talk lately on speculators and the price of oil. I've been quite interested in the role of futures markets and whether there is any actual foresight in the "hive mind" made up of all those who play the futures markets.

At mazamascience, we have now compiled 20 months of daily futures chain data for the NYMEX crude oil contract at the Energy Futures databrowser. I have finally gotten around to creating an animation of these data visualizations that gives one a sense of the "historical evolution of futures markets". (Not quite an oxymoronic concept but unusual nevertheless.) The animation shows the futures chain evolving at seven frames per second with a frame for every day including weekends.

I would love to get some feedback from the TOD readership on this animation, especially answers to the following questions:

  • Is it at all interesting?
  • Do the colors work for the color sighted and the color blind?
  • Is the labeling adequate and easy to interpret?
  • What significant dates would you call people's attention to and why?
  • What kind of information should appear either before or after? (personal intro, textual intro, ...)?
  • What would be a good soundtrack?

Here's the current YouTube URL:


Pleasant viewing!


Very interesting video to watch. Those 2015+ contracts appear fairly resistant to movement. Thanks for putting this together. Would say more, but have to run.

"What would be a good soundtrack?"

"Ode to Joy" ;^)

Pretty cool, Jon. Reminds me of a bent keyboard slowly disintegrating from the left.

Soundtrack? Bernstein plays Gershwin , two guys who could really bend a keyboard.....

.....or a little Vince Guaraldi perhaps.

Yes, interesting. Am I mistaken, or are we seeing backwardation towards the end of that time series?

I would suggest the labeling could be expanded, if there's room. What do the blue lines represent? Or is that just a video artefact? At a minimum I would add the gray dots to the legend, I know it should be self evident, but do they represent the spot price? If so, for what intervals? Average weekly? Average monthly?

A good soundtrack would be a voice-over calling out significant world events.



My take is that there really isn't that much information (structure) in any individual futures curve. It's either contango or backwardation, and then maybe some degree (slope) one way or the other. Thus, visualizing all the years together, along with something showing the futures trend at each date (and current price), might be more useful.

Morgan Downey's book "Oil 101" has a price chart with some futures curves drawn starting at a dozen or so points selected over the last 15 years. Another way to show it...

Something which also shows trading volume would be useful as well.


I would love to get some feedback from the TOD readership on this animation, especially answers to the following questions:

* Is it at all interesting? Yes!

* Do the colors work for the color sighted and the color blind? Yes for me, normal sighted old fart.
* Is the labeling adequate and easy to interpret? Reasonably.
* What significant dates would you call people's attention to and why? Methinks they haven't happened yet...
* What kind of information should appear either before or after? (personal intro, textual intro, ...)? No comment...Well, none that would go over too well with the average bloke out there.
* What would be a good soundtrack? Um, Tim Minchin's - Some people have it worse than I. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78XrI_2bPVA Just kidding... but try playing it in the background, It works for me >;^)

Iceland eyeing giant cable to sell power to Europe

Iceland is considering building the world's longest sub-sea electric cable to allow it to sell its geothermal and volcanic energy to Europe, the country's largest energy company said Monday.

"Among things being studied is the destination country. Potential countries include Britain, Norway, Holland and Germany," Jonsdottir said. Depending on the destination country, the cable would be between 1,200 and 1,900 kilometres (745-1,180 miles) long, making it "the longest sub-sea cable in the world."

The project aims for the exportation of some five terawatt-hours (or five billion kilowatt-hours) each year, Jonsdottir said. At current power prices in Europe, that corresponds to between 250 and 320 million euros ($350-448 million) in exports annually, and is enough to cover the average annual consumption of 1.25 million European households.

I think this has been mooted for a long time, I reckon get on and do it as the cost of the cable and laying it is going to get higher every year.

Iceland and Northern Europe are great for pumped hydro and could help a great deal balancing wind and nukes in central Europe, hopefully eventually joining up with large scale solar in Southern Europe

I've suggested a similar scheme between Oz and NZ.

From Chatham House The 'Arab Spring' and Oil Markets

...Obviously, what will happen to oil supplies and price in the near-term will depend upon the outcome of the 'Arab Spring' and how the 'paper-market-players' will perceive this.

However, these events do raise serious longer-term questions about investment in new capacity in the region. If future oil demand has any hope of being met, significant investment must take place to develop Middle East and North African oil reserves. Much of this will be required to come from by the IOCs. There has to be questions over their willingness to invest faced with such political uncertainty. This could mean that an impending oil supply crunch, with crucial implications for oil price levels, could come sooner rather than later.

and http://chathamhouse.org.uk/research/middle_east/0111protests/

An Arab spring will most likely turn into a very bleak winter for Europe.

Monticello nuclear plant closes for ‘up-rate’

Xcel Energy’s Monticello nuclear power plant has shut down for nine weeks while contractors install equipment to increase power generation and refuel the plant’s reactor.

Minneapolis-based Xcel plans to boost generation capacity of the 600-megawatt plant by 71 megawatts, or 11.8 percent, as part of a plant “up-rate” approved in 2009 by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

Here is an investment opportunity I missed:


I believe we are moving into the age of scarcity. And you can get it from our friends in China.

ROCKMAN - Having fun with that LSU report? I told you it had lots of good stuff. Having read Chapter 4.6 of the Oil Spill Commission's Chief Counsel's Report 2011 http://www.oilspillcommission.gov/sites/default/files/documents/C21462-2... On page page 16 of the pdf (page 157 of the whole report), I see more discussion of the infamous "bladder effect". I think they may have the wrong element as the bladder. They seem to think it was applied to the annular preventer, while it would be more plausible (but still wrong) to make the drill pipe the elastic bladder. What you'd then have is the equivalent of a bladder type hydraulic accumulator with the riser and the end connections (including the annular preventer) forming the pressure chamber and the putatively elastic drill pipe as the bladder. Filling the riser with 14.17 ppg mud while the pipe was filled with 8.6 ppg sea water would create a compressive force on the pipe. This force would vary with depth, but by a strange coincidence at the bottom of the riser it would equal the difference in fluid weight times depth times the Rockman Constant of 0.052, which works out to be (14.17 - 8.6) x 5000 X 0.052 = 1,448 psi.

That is remarkably close to the unexplained pressure on the drill pipe of 1,400 psi. Since they were grasping at straws for a plausible explanation, such a coincidence may have carried the day in someone's mind and group think did the rest.

What do you think?

Bruce - still haven't had a chance to dig into so I appreciate your analysis. Struggling right now: our owner shoved another $50 million into our drilling budget this year. Folk might think that's a nice problem to have...it isn't. Owner doesn't tollerate failure. We're conventional onshore players and it's damn hard to find drilling opportunities that meet our requirements (we don't do resource plays like the shales...not enough profit potential). Folks can take that as an indication of life in the oil patch as we slide further down the PO curve.

Folks can take that as an indication of life in the oil patch as we slide further down the PO curve.

Thanks for sharing the insider microcosmic look into the oil biz, which is reflective of the macrocosmic situation.

I find myself conflicted these days. On the one hand I understand peak oil all too well, or at this point maybe it should be referred to as post peak oil, but now we are headed for a 2nd economic step down, I don't like the look down the road so to speak. This is all happening so fast, from the beginning of the plateau to first oil price spike and now this 2nd crescendo of oil price, I sense more than ever that time is getting short. That hits a person harder than just understanding a topic.

Rockman - There is so much there that it is hard to summarize, but a few thoughts come to mind.

1) Rex Tillerson was right when he told the OSC that there was nothing done with the intervention that could not have been done sooner. Arguably, if they had taken the time to diagnose the results of the top kill operation in May, they could have revised the plan and STOPPED THE FLOW OF OIL BY MAY 28, 2010!!!

2) The whole annular flow hypothesis has been totally destroyed, with all sorts of supporting documentation not previously released to the public, in Chapter 4.1 of the Chicef Counsel's 2011 Report. Which begs the question in my mind as to why so many (including the vast majority here on TOD) did not focus on what proved to be the actual flow path, through the primary cement job and up the shoe track. And when it came time to kill the well, even you were skeptical at the time that lubricate and bleed would work, though it is a part of the standard well control syllabus. WHY??? I'm thinking that most operators do not preform negative tests on the primary cement job and therefore have no idea whether or not they have a good one, particularly when valves in the float collar could close and conceal a defective cement job.

3) I am more than ever concerned that the use of notrified cement in the primary cement job is extremely poorly understood, even by thsoe who have done it. It reminds me of the Challenger o-ring erosion problem. They got away with a little erosion so that became the "new normal" until they didn't get away with it anymore. My hunch is that another factor in the seeming nonchalance of the drillers was that while they had mud raining down on the drill shack, they did not have a methane gas alarm. (The reason being that the gas driving the blowout early on was nitrogen breaking out from the cement, which would not trigger the gas alarms. When they finally did get a methane gas alarm they got them suddenly and in huge numbers, which caused its own confusion and delays.) I would analogize the situation to a school clasroom where the clock on the wall says its dismissal time, but a blown fuse means the bell in the hall hasn't rung. If a kid said its time to go, would the teacher just dismiss the class, or try to resolve the cognitive dissonance while keeping the kids in their seats? Experience indicates that the teacher would try to resolve the inconsistency, rather than act now. If the drillers did the same, they would (and did) die. I know from my teaching of sailing how that works and I have to tell the kids to "follow instructions first, ask questions second", otherwise they dither and think while they get deeper into trouble.

I am more than ever concerned that the use of notrified cement in the primary cement job is extremely poorly understood, even by thsoe who have done it. It reminds me of the Challenger o-ring erosion problem. They got away with a little erosion so that became the "new normal" until they didn't get away with it anymore.

Don't bring up Challenger because most knowledgeable people realize that it wasn't the "o-rings". The Challenger findings were quite the cover-up. It actually was a horrendous design problem with the launch structure. Google "dynamic overshoot" and "bending moments". The o-rings didn't have a chance against the launching torques. Here is one article: http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/1996/01/24/21000/dynamic-overshoot....

It was a perfect coverup because they were able to blame it on an act of god (the cold weather), a smallish sub-contractor for the o-rings (Morton), and they had a convenient whistle-blower. Richard Feynman coming in at the end was a brilliant move to bless the findings (Feynman was at Cal Tech which runs NASA's JPL).

All the design problems were fixed up in subsequent missions. If this coverup did not occur it would have put a huge black mark on NASA for incompetency.

What about the rumor of its time - a presidential "order" to launch? NRP claimed nothing to back the claim up and I've never seen paperwork claiming to be a FOIA showing the claim to be true.

You mean the o-rings weren't the only problem that got progressively worse and was "fixed" by moving the goal posts?

Since you like untold stories, I've got one for you.

Chicago Tribune-April 8, 1991
Author: Associated Press.

A Texas firefighting team on Sunday extinguished the first of 500 oil-well fires set by Iraqi troops, and declared a "small victory" that could mark a turning point in the operation. The team from Houston-based Boots & Coots, using liquid nitrogen and water, extinguished a small fire on its second attempt Sunday morning.

"I think it`s very important," Boots Hansen said of his team`s achievement. He said the method-injecting nitrogen into the fire through a large cylinder attached to a giant bulldozer while spraying water at the base of the cylinder-was less time-consuming than other methods, such as the use of dynamite.

"It`s a small victory," said Larry Flak, a Houston oil engineer coordinating the entire firefighting effort. "Now we can go from well to well to well without a lot of rigging up or preparation." Sunday's operation was experimental. After the initial success, the team re-lit the oil spewing from the well a few more times, and again put the fire out to refine their techniques. Eight days earlier, Boots & Coots failed in an attempt to put out a blaze using only water. Hansen estimated that the nitrogen method, which deprives the fire of needed oxygen, probably could be used on half the fires set by Iraq in late February, before allied troops liberated Kuwait. Flak said the Iraqis blew up about 600 oil wells in Kuwait. Most have been on fire since then, blackening the sky across vast areas of the emirate, while about 80 wells were spewing oil without burning. More than 20 of those wells have been capped. Kuwaiti officials estimate they are losing 6 million barrels of oil a day, worth more than $100 million. Fighting the fires will cost an additional $1 million to $2 million a day. Oil Minister Rasheed al-Amiri says it could take two or more years to quell the fires

Not such a bad idea was it? Read the whole thing here http://machiasprivateer.blogspot.com/2011/01/conservative-reply-to-oil-s...

And Coots' obit in the NY Times claimed he never took any advice from an engineer!

Mr. Matthews and Mr. Hansen later stuck to Mr. Adair’s tradition of hiring mainly oil-patch roughnecks and roustabouts. No engineers, thank you.


I guess he "forgot" about Kuwait!

Bruce – Mucho thanks again for the analysis. I’ll jump around a little and answer a bit. Negative tests: in 36 years I’ve never preformed a negative test on a well I was about to move the drill rig off. For good reason: I’ve never suspended a well without sufficient mud weight in the hole to keep it from flowing if the cmt failed. Technically I don’t need to pump any cmt at that time (although we always do). In time I would move a work over rig on to the well to complete it. I would run a cmt bond log at that time but this is done more to make sure the productive reservoir is isolated for sake of its production. And when it comes time to perf the reservoir typically the hole is displaced with fluid lighter than would be needed to hold back the formation pressure. Thus we shoot the well underbalanced. This is essentially a negative test to a degree. Not greatly underbalanced…around 600 psi. And if you think about it all producing wells are in a constant of negative testing: that’s how the oil/NG flows to the surface. I leave the same mud weight in the csg as I used to drill (and control) the reservoir in the first place. And I can do so cheaply: it's the mud I already have in the hole. I don't have to spend a penny extra for this safeguard.

Back to BP. I’m sure at the time they had a logical reason for having the well underbalanced when they did. But everyone in the oil patch understands what underbalanced means: the well will flow if any conduit is established. A very basic law of physics. I’ve never have nor ever will leave a suspended well in an underbalanced state.

Cmt with nitrogen to lighten its weight? Out of my expertise but OTOH I would never be too concerned it would fail. But then again I never worry about any cmt job failing. I don’t worry simply because I assume it will fail and always take precautions. Cmt failure is a very common problem in the oil patch. How common? Once again: not only will Halliburton charge full price for a failed cmt job but won’t even apologize (as long as the cmt met the client’s specs). Getting a good cmt job is THE most consistantly difficult task in the oil patch. Remember a failed cmt job doesn’t mean a blow out. It just means more cmt needs to be pumped down. And that equipment is always kept on the rig ready to go…like I said…it happens all the time. BTW: Halliburton charges full price for the re-cmt job. And if it has to be re-cmted several times they’ll charge full price every time.

So if cmt failure is known by everyone to be expected to some degree why did BP take the risks it did? That’s a question I will never be able to answer.

One facet of the way this negative test was set up was that the hydrostatic pressure inside both the production casing and the annulus, before the test was started, was equivalent to the mud weight (14.17 ppg) times the depth (say at the level of the float collar ~18,200 ft) times 0.052 = 13,410 psi. When they started displacing to sea water, the displacement took place about 3000 ft below the production casing hanger. So they started to create a differential hydrostatic pressure gradient at 18,200 ft which maxed out at (14.17-8.6) * 3000 * 0.052 = 869 psi. So the shoe track was always at a more underbalanced condition than the annulus and since they only slightly underbalanced the shoe track, they could have designed the test so that the annulus never got to an underbalanced condition. How people thought the annulus was the path of the blowout when it never got underbalanced escapes me unless they thought the cement was lost into the pay zone. But that should have shown up as lost circulation as they pumped the cement. As events demonostrated, the blowout was not via an annular flow path.

As to the quality (or more correctly the lack thereof) of the cement goes, it seems to me that one of the most profitable paths to obtain greater operating safety would be to obtain a much higher percentage of good cement jobs. Halliburton has a financial disincentive to advance the state of the art and it shows! That does not mean that the operators don't have a very strong incentive to improve things and as it stands now, they ought to be the ones to grab that bull by its horns.

Bruce - The cmt companies have spent many ten's of $million researching the cmt technology. If one of them comes up with the magic "silver cmt" bullet they've captured a mult-billion $ market. Consider a DW GOM well that costs $900,000/day to operate. And a company has to spend a total of 10 days redoing a number of bad cmt jobs. So in addition of the expense of the squeeze jobs they burn up $9 million in rig ops to fix the problems. Take that as a measure of how difficult it is to get a good cmt job. And how much a company would pay to eliminate the potential problem.

Such situations reminded me on the line from the old M.A.S.H TV show:"God answers all prayers. Just sometimes the answer is no." Is there existing technology/knowledge that can produce a high success rate in the cmt game? No.

Back to BP. I’m sure at the time they had a logical reason for having the well underbalanced when they did. But everyone in the oil patch understands what underbalanced means: the well will flow if any conduit is established. A very basic law of physics.

I'm sure that BP had a good reason, too. But if I had been on the rig at the time, my first question would have been, "You're going to do WHAT?" And my second question would have been, "What time does the next helicopter leave?"

Schlumberger says its crew left Horizon day of fire

Schlumberger Ltd, the world's largest oilfield services company, said on Wednesday it had a crew on the Deepwater Horizon that departed only hours before the explosion and fire that engulfed the rig.

The wireline standby crew departed the Horizon at about 11 a.m. on one of BP's regularly scheduled helicopter flights, Schlumberger said. The explosion occurred at about 10 p.m. that night, and the rig sank into the Gulf of Mexico two days later

After you've had a lot of experience in the oil biz, sometimes your spider sense starts tingling and you just know it's time to get out. The oil men with good spider sense are known as "survivors". The ones that don't are known as "victims".

I've known a lot of guys that had good spider sense, and a few that didn't. I feel sorry for their widows and orphans, but they move on and find another guy with more spider sense.


Although there was much else wrong that day, I don't believe there is a shred of evidence found so far to suggest that Schlumberger's departure wasn't for any other reason than BP decided they didn't need their services and sent them home. At least that's what's been found by every investigating body that's looked into that question as far as I am aware. Schlumberger and BP both said that's what happened on oath. If you know otherwise I'd be honestly keen to find out. Schlumberger personnel who left the rig that day testified that they had no safety concerns prior to leaving and, if my memory was correct, that it was not unusual for their services not to be used at that point.

And if I had left the rig early I would have said exactly the same thing the Schlumberger people said, too. No, there was nothing obviously wrong, I just felt an urge to leave as rapidly as possible.

Again IIRC the documentation was presented that showed that they had actually been told the night before by BP they were not needed and that was in compliance with the well plan. The first available scheduled flight after they were told was next day.

Of course it is possible that everyone is lying but if everyone really is lying and forging documents to "prove" their version then a lot of people from Schlumberger are risking time behind bars if an alternative "truth" comes out.

By the way are you really saying you would lie under oath about this?

Struggling right now: our owner shoved another $50 million into our drilling budget this year. Folk might think that's a nice problem to have...it isn't. Owner doesn't tollerate failure. We're conventional onshore players and it's damn hard to find drilling opportunities that meet our requirements (we don't do resource plays like the shales...not enough profit potential). Folks can take that as an indication of life in the oil patch as we slide further down the PO curve.

Yes, life can be uncertain in the oil biz when you run out of plays to develop.

OTOH, contrast this with a conversation I overheard between two geologists, one of which was working for a junior company with 20 employees that, some years ago, had leased a big tract of land in one of the sweeter spots in the oil sands. He was pitying his old buddies over at BP who were reduced to going through the old files looking for something they might have missed the first few times around. He was snickering at ExxonMobile who complained he was stealing their oil across the lease line - "Of course I'm stealing their oil. It's just an imaginary dotted line across the formation. They need to use some better technology so they can produce it themselves."

He was drilling SAGD well pairs into the Wabiskaw oil sands (an outlier of the Athabasca oil sands). He said "The Wabiskaw is not very thick, but, man, it goes on forever!" The target depth was only a few hundred feet, the formation was sand, and he was drilling a dozen or more horizontal SAGD pairs off each gravel pad, a mile or so in all directions, so costs were very, very low. He would inject steam into the top well of each pair for about 6 months, watch the steam cloud spread on 4-D seismic (3-D reshot every few days to give a time component so he could watch it in stop-motion video on his Sun workstation), and then when it was ready he would start producing oil out of the bottom wells. He was getting oil recovery rates of up to 80% and he was one happy geologist!

A few weeks later, Shell bought the little 20-man company for $2.2 billion. I hope he had stock options. I'm sure there was a cozy office waiting for him over at Shell with a top-end Sun workstation and extra-wide monitor so he could watch his wells produce oil in HD video.

ATF Operation Helped Supply Mexican Drug Cartels With Weapons

A federal operation that allowed weapons from the U.S. to pass into the hands of suspected gun smugglers so they could be traced to the higher echelons of Mexican drug cartels has lost track of hundreds of firearms, many of which have been linked to crimes, including the fatal shooting of a Border Patrol agent in December.

The investigation, known as Operation Fast and Furious, was conducted even though U.S. authorities suspected that some of the weapons might be used in crimes, according to a variety of federal agents who voiced anguished objections to the operation.

...Surveillance video obtained by CBS News shows suspected drug cartel suppliers carrying boxes of weapons to their cars at a Phoenix gun shop. The long boxes shown in the video being loaded in were AK-47-type assault rifles. So it turns out ATF not only allowed it – they videotaped it.

...Senior agents including Dodson told CBS News they confronted their supervisors over and over. Their answer, according to Dodson, was, “If you’re going to make an omelette, you’ve got to break some eggs.”

Tax Dollars at Work

"Surveillance video obtained by CBS News shows suspected drug cartel suppliers carrying boxes of weapons to their cars at a Phoenix gun shop. The long boxes shown in the video being loaded in were AK-47-type assault rifles."

You can't buy a real (as in full auto) AK-47 at a US gun store. A semi-auto version yes.

The ATF has been known for a lack of sense since the 1970's, if not sooner.

Apparently they thought they could intercept all the guns before they left the country, They got less than half.

It's long past time they were disbanded.

Heating Oil Suppliers Feel The Heat Of Rising Prices

Higher oil prices are not just taking a toll on consumers; they are also wreaking havoc on home heating oil suppliers. Especially for small family-owned businesses, buying oil has become a high-stakes gamble. Dealers are grappling with the much more complex world of futures and hedges.

Since the crisis in Libya began last month, the cost of oil has spiked. Consumers are feeling the pain in everything from gas to groceries. The rapidly changing prices are also hammering the companies that deal with home heating oil. Most of these operations are small, family-owned businesses. NPR's Tovia Smith visited one in Maine and has this report.

TOVIA SMITH: Steve Giroux's grandfather Wilfred founded Giroux Energy in 1959, and it's been operating in Portland, Maine ever since. But this is not his grandfather's oil company.

Mr. STEVE GIROUX (Giroux Energy): Not even close. Those days are long gone.

See: http://www.npr.org/2011/03/04/134253842/Local-Heating-Oil-Suppliers


Michael Moore is never at a loss for words:

America is not broke.

Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you'll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It's just that it's not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.

America is ... awash in wealth and cash. It's just that it's not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.

Of course he's right - except about one thing. Cash is not wealth. It's a marker that works for now. But I feel much 'wealthier' for the woodstove (and access to firewood), hand-pumped back-up water, solar water heater, PV system soon to go up, large garden and relationships with my neighbors/community than I do for any amount of cash I might have on hand.

My advice, FWIW, akin to Westexas ELP advice, is to convert your cash or electronic blips into useful hardware/systems/equipment/knowledge. TOD's "A trip to Todd's" was similarly good advice.

We are not dollars broke - lol - we are oil broke. We can write all the debt we want but none of it will help the oil problem. Maybe someone should send him a memo.

In the mean time, we should do some redistribution of the billions of dollars held by the top people in this country. No problem with the probability that peak oil has occurred but we are not broke yet and that is not an excuse for the extreme income inequality in this country. Investments in future alternatives have to come from somewhere.

Cutting taxes on corporations and then turning to the workers to tell them they need to make the difference is a scam aided by the comment that one is broke. Well, that is nonsense regardless of the impact that resource constraints like oil will have and are having on this country.

This, of course, is also true.

Politically, the oil challenge has been exploited it seems to disproportionately favor the wealthy.

I thought about this once. Are TPTB trying to destroy oil demand via salary and benefits cuts to average joe?

But at the end of the day are these cuts really cutting oil use or just providing more oil for the wealthy?

I bet we use the same oil either way and average joe is voting to rip himself off the last 35 years. LOL

Politically, the oil challenge has been exploited it seems to disproportionately favor the wealthy.

Actually, just about any crisis, including manufactured ones are being used that way.

Al Jezeera English broadcast this evening interviews on the situation in Saudi Arabia.

In response to recent demonstrations by eastern Shi-ites, the government has banned all protests and has sent in 10,000 security personnel to handle unrest. Meanwhile, further protests are planned across the kingdom next week.

Contagion is rife.

What was clearly expressed by three commentators was the perception that the U.S. is overstretched and will not be able to help out the Saudi regime if trouble emerges.

This is fueling the push for reform.

Now is the time, it is said, for the House of Saud to deal face to face with its own people.

Forget spare capacity. Forget speculators. Supply-side shock prices for everybody if the desert kingdom comes undone.

"Florida Power & Light opens hybrid concentrated solar thermal/natural gas power plant"

The CSP plant sports over 190,000 solar thermal mirrors and a combined-cycle natural gas power plant. Together, the two power sources of the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center produce 75MW of energy. Construction on the solar energy center took two years and was officially brought on-line last November.


CSP - Concentrating Solar Power works well in the SW desert, but not as well in the SE US with higher humidity levels.
The PV Panels for DG projects I'm using now have a 30 year power production warranty, should last decades past that.
ROI numbers good at 30 years. I'd love to see the kWh cost numbers vs PV, Not sure this makes sense in FL with PV being
so cheap.

Seimens just came out with a solar collector w/molten salt instead of high temp oil. Supposed to be more efficient.

Molten salts for efficient solar thermal plants

Cash is not wealth.


Say it again O'Brother.

Cash is not wealth.

It is merely a promise, perhaps an empty one.
Imagine yourself on a desert island with a suitcase full of cash but no food, no doctor, no medicine, no friends. Are you still feeling "wealthy"?

But until we're on that desert island, I'll still accept the stuff.

(Was this in reply to the Mike Moore speech? .. Of course he was referring to a situation where the scales of injustice have still got a whole lotta the green on mainly just one side.. while the Gov't genuflects and apologies for any suggestion that this offset might destabilize the whole system.)

(Was this in reply to the Mike Moore speech?)

yes. sorry. I don't know how the response got posted as a main comment. probably my bad.

Until we're on that desert island, I'll still accept the $tuff.

You mean like even when we're treading water in the middle of the ocean like in that movie "Open Water" you'll still be accepting those green IOU promises?

I think our hole economy is treading water and still doesn't know it yet.
Maybe when the foreclosure shark fins start moving closer in we'll "get it".

So far, I advise my friends/fam that they 'might' not want to be in the market.. and I'm not going to be buying any IOU's in the form of Treasuries.. but I'm not cash-averse just yet. I do get your point from a 30,000' standpoint.. but the Lido deck Bar is still taking Greenbacks for White Russians.. and there might still be some porters who will open the odd Steerage Stairway Gate for a few Franklins.

I think there are even ways to get your feet onto solid ground, not far from the boat, and 'renting' the odd deck-chair or piano-lid might be enough to make it over there. Being 'essentially underwater' doesn't mean there isn't still a reason to deal with the stuff. Kid's gotta eat, as do I.

This can't end well:

HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Chinese authorities are considering lifting family-planning restrictions that currently allow only couples from a few select groups to have a second child, according to an online report in the state-run People’s Daily.


More worker bees? What happens when the old bees can't make plastic trinkets any longer?

Goldman Sachs slashes the conventional wisdom of 5 mb/d spare capacity in shock report

This is pretty big. That's why it's hidden and buried in a seemingly unimportant Bloomsberg story.

According to a Goldman Sachs report, freshly minted from March 7th, the OPEC countries' spare capacity is now below 2 mb/d.

The comparison with 2008 is striking as the OPEC countries fell below 2 mb/d in spare capacity then too and then we went off a cliff.
Contrast this Goldman Sachs report with the noise of 'The Saudis will save us'.

Here's the moneyquote:

Goldman Sachs raised its outlook for both Brent and WTI crude by $4.50 a barrel on estimates that spare capacity in the OPEC countries' has dropped below 2 million barrels a day, according to a report dated March 7.

Of course, this is an estimation, not a final statement. But Goldman Sachs is arguably the most brilliant bank on Wall St(they may be criminal, but they're still skilled on a level nobody can match). So I am at least willing to give this report a second look.

And again, where is the MSM? What are the odds of seeing this on CNBC soon?

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-08/oil-rises-to-29-month-high-citi...

P.S. I'd like to get feedback on this one. I hope I misread it or that I am wrong. If the spare capacity of the OPEC cartel is indeed now below 2 mb/d then that means Saudi Arabia had at most 2.5 mb/d to begin with(possibly even less).

Since demand will only go upwards, even if we don't get similar trouble in Oman/Saudi Arabia itself or Algeria, I cannot see a situation where you won't tap into the SPR at this rate or face a huge crash. But the SPR is just a temporary fix.

Again, thoughts/feedback/critique appreciated.

IMO, to the extent that there is any excess capacity, it consists largely of what Matt Simmons called "Oil stained brine."

Is a barrel of 'oil stained brine' still considered a barrel of production?

Let's assume an active or partial water drive reservoir (supplemented by downdip injection wells), i.e., the oil is sitting on top of water, and as oil is withdrawn, the water moves up.

Let's assume you have a field producing 100,000 bpd + 10,000 bpd of water. You can increase oil production (by putting structurally low, high water cut wells back on production) by 10,000 bpd, but it would cause water production to increase by 100,000 bpd. So, a 10% increase in oil production would cause a ten fold increase in water production. Production can be increased, but at a cost, and how relevant is this very high water cut production to total productive capacity? Furthermore, what if you can't inject all of the additional water, and the excess has to be hauled away? Under this scenario, the ultimate recovery from the field would probably be hurt because of an accelerated pressure draw down, but production could be increased.

wt - I've been pushing a thought I'd like to get your read on. Let’s assume, for sake of argument, that the KSA has 10 million bopd excess capacities they can bring to the market overnight. Folks seem to think that if the KSA did offer this oil for sale prices would drop. But this assumption is predicated on the idea that the KSA would put that oil into the market place at a lower price. In order to sell any of that oil they would have to take market share away from the other exporters. In reality the KSA need not produce one extra bbl to accomplish this. All they need do is post a price significantly lower than they are now. What oil buyer wouldn’t pay $80/bbl for Saudi oil instead of $100/bbl oil from Angola? The other exporters would have no choice but to lower their prices to match less they lose market share. Thus the price of oil would drop globally. Either way KSA cash flow drops. But the big advantage in a lower posting: the KSA doesn’t put more of its declining reserve base into play. It saves oil that can be used in the future…a future with ever increase impact of ELM. Regardless of internal demand the KSA will need the oil income in the future as much or more than they need it today IMHO.

Of course, this proposition assumes the KSA has some excess capacity. But in reality it doesn’t matter if they do or not. We’re calling on the KSA to drive oil prices lower. Essentially asking them to post lower prices for their oil. And why would we expect them to do that? The only motivation that comes to mind is to prevent demand destruction. But the KSA is not a humanitarian organization. DD just means less market for them and lower cash flow. But if they see the future as many of us do then they may not see DD as much of problem (for the KSA) given that someday, helped in part by ELM, they’ll actually welcome some DD in the sense that as supplies become more limited there will be less need for as much consumption in order to keep oil prices higher.

BTW - This is the same issue I have with the idea that releasing oil from the SPR will drive down prices. Will the govt sell that oil for today's prices? If so it won't change costs to consumers. They could sell it to our refiners at a lower price and thus take market share away from the other exporters. But what if Canada and Mexico are not willing to compete for that market share by lowering their prices. Consider the Canadians: today they have to sell their oil at a discount due to the bottle neck at Cushing. So we would expect them to lower their price even more so they can continue selling at Cushing at an even bigger discount? I see a potential problem with this logic. And Mexico: they, as well as the rest of the world, recognizes they are in a terminal decline death spiral. So maybe they might also think it's a good idea to cut back on their dwindling production. Especially if doing so maintains a higher price for their oil today as well as preserving some extra oil for the future when prices might even be higher than today.

Producing the SPR. Not a bad idea until one starts applying a bit of logic to the calculus IMHO.

But something changed in early 2006. From 2002 to 2005, the Saudis were clearly trying to restrain the increase in oil prices, as they raised net oil exports at a rate of about 8%/year, but then all post-2005 net exports have been below their 2005 rate, with all post-2005 annual oil prices so far exceeding the $57 annual price that we saw in 2005, with only one year so far showing a year over year decline.

I am somewhat biased, leaning toward 2005 as the final annual production peak, but the simplest explanation is frequently the best explanation, i.e., Peaks Happen.

In any case, from the point of view of importing countries, as we discussed, intent is not terribly important at this point, since the cumulative shortfall between what the Saudis would have net exported at their 2005 rate and that they actually net exported is well in excess of two billion barrels of oil. The bottom line for oil importing countries is that the Saudis are delivering less oil to importers.

As you know, actions speak much louder than words. As one of my business partners once said, someone is whispering when they say the check is in the mail, but the failure of the check to arrive is a very loud shout.

Edit: CNBC just ran a news bulletin item that the Saudi Oil Minister claimed they have 3.5 mbpd of excess capacity. So, they claim to have, shut-in, the equivalent of all Texas oil production, at our all time peak in 1972, or they have, shut-in, the equivalent of all current North Sea production. The world is certainly lucky that Saudi Arabia is immune from the types of peaks that we saw in Texas & the North Sea:

Too bad that they refuse to even match their 2005 net export rate of 9.1 mbpd.

Do you have a chart for global crude (not all liquids) net exports?

I think that Ron has done something on crude exports (note that the above charts are C+C), but virtually everyone calculates net exports on the basis of total liquids or total petroleum liquids. Consider "Production Land" (P) and "Refinery Land" (R).

P has two mbpd of crude oil production, but no refining capacity.

R has two mbpd of refining capacity, but no production. (We are ignoring refinery gains.)

Each country consumes one mbpd of refined product.

So, P exports two mbpd of crude oil to R. R refines the two mbpd, consumes one mbpd, and ships one mbpd back to P. The net oil exports, production less consumption, are one mbpd for P (2-1 = 1) and a negative one mbpd for R (0 -1 = -1), i.e., net imports of one mbpd for R.

wt - A great analysis as always. But I still like to keep it simple: If the KSA was motivated to lower the price of oil tomorrow (whether they have 10 million bopd excess capacity or or none at all) they could easily do so: just post their oil at a price significantly lower than today's market place. I'm starting to guess that the KSA enjoys the debate about what excess capability they have or don't have. It's one giant straw man debate IMHO.

Even more simple: the price of oil today is exactly what the KSA wants it to be. If they wanted oil to be selling for $75/bbl then that's the price they would post tomorrow. And oil prices would drop to $75 overnight. And maybe lower if the KSA does bring spare capacity to the market. If the KSA has no spare capacity they'll sell their current production for $75/bbl with the rest of the exporters selling at the current high price. The buyers will have to pay $100+ for Angolan oil because that's the price they'll post. The Angolan oil won't have to worry about losing market share to the KSA because the KSA hasn't brought any more oil to the market than they had been. OTOH if the KSA could bring an extra 10 million bopd to the market but posted it at the same price we had the day before than oil prices would remain unchanged. And if they offered that oil at a lower price? Folks would buy it and the other exportrs woud probably lower their prices to not lose market share. Or not: they may decide to cut back production, continue getting a higher price for what they are selling and wait for the day when the KSA pulls oil off the market or economic growth spurs more demand.

So again, one more time, very simple: why would the KSA, whether they had a lot of spare capacity or none at all, do anything to lower the price of oil? Only answer I have is to prevent demand destruction. And if the prospect of DD like we had in the 80's, when the KSA sold much of its oil for less than 10% of what they are getting today, doesn’t seem to worry them? Maybe that says something about their expectations of future oil supplies. IOW if the export capabilities of all producers decline as DD pulls down consumption then maybe they can keep their cash flow up at an acceptable level. IOW if the world can only buy 70 million bopd at then current prices and the exporters can only deliver 65 million bopd then it’s a good bet they’ll be selling oil for a high price. Of course, that assumes the KSA will still have control of their production at that time.

The price of oil used to be what KSA wanted, but it isn't any more.

They can't drive the price down to $75 unless they can supply everyone that want to buy at that price. Otherwise they are just end up selling whatever their limit is to their friends, and everybody else has to buy at whatever the market price is. Demand isn't completely inelastic.

Don't trust Goldman, but sometimes even a blind squirrel finds a nut.
Remember that capacity is continually declining. Its like a rat in a wheel going nowhere.
We are now replacing crude oil with other more expensive types of oil.
Someday, the new types will run out too, then there will be only fumes left.
Oil is like a drug, and addicts always crash at some point, and maybe multiple times too.
We live in a temporary and always changing world.
We must break the addiction to oil.

This is the state of our media. On The Today Show this morning, the top story was about gas prices, and as an authority they brought in some internet hack named Patrick DeHaan, who runs http://GasBuddy.com. All GasBuddy does is provide comparative pricing between gas stations in an area and they provide apps so someone driving around can find the cheapest gas. So the hostess asked this pudge all these prepared questions in which he answered quite obviously from a prepared script. I know it was from a script because they magically had graphics to go along with all his ridiculous talking points (summer vs winter gas, taxes, environmentalists, etc).

I am just curious as to why TOD doesn't feature stories by the GasBuddy dude :) :) :)

I'm sure he's picked up some of the routine pricing mechanisms by osmosis. Maybe he's a TOD regular. Maybe he's a petro engineer for a day job. But I doubt it.

But hey, WTI is down a bit at only $105. Brent and Louisiana Sweet have both settled below $120. We can't possibly cross the moving knife-edge price that presages economic ruin. Party on, dude!

I'm sure he's picked up some of the routine pricing mechanisms by osmosis. Maybe he's a TOD regular. Maybe he's a petro engineer for a day job. But I doubt it.

I doubt it as well. H e - t a l k e d - r e a l - s l o w, like he was reading from a prompter. Look at his picture, is that not the typical dweeb running a two-bit web site? I am only surprised he wasn't wearing a hoodie.

I found this story as it uses the word conundrum: Oil Jump Presents Conundrum for Fed

I think stagflation is here, but not the same as the late 70's. It's not yet a strangling 10% inflation, but a frog-boiling few percent of price increases with no wage increases. Look at credit cards, with 30%+ punitive interests and 15% "good" rates, with almost 0% Fed rates. For people I know, this was a "good" year, and raises barely matched inflation -- for much of the last decade, they've lagged inflation. It's the spread that really matters to the individual. Just 1% per year will make a significant difference over a decade.

because they magically had graphics to go along with all his talking points

Hey there sarcastohol buddy, you gotta stop doing that ...
having thoughts that is
especially critical thinking kinds of thoughts.

Just sit back and let it all flow in. Submit to the powers that are higher than thee. The gas buddy is your professor and you are but his humble mindless slave. ;-)

p.s. "Today" is so yester-century. CNBC squawking turkey birds is where the true truth lurks. You should be absorbing the indoctrination from that channel instead.

Selecting to have "The Gas Buddy" as your energy consultant is like having a 13-year-old Stratego player as your Secretary of Defense.

Now I probably got The Gas Buddy all upset.

Why do I always think about Gilligan when I hear the phrase "gas buddy"?

Why do I always think about Gilligan?

I think of Bevis and Butthead sending Morse coded message to each other with gaseous media when you say "gas buddy". But hey, that's just me and my sick framed head spin.

It's the "little buddy" connection, I think.

The gas buddy is your professor and you are but his humble mindless slave. ;-)

I liked the informative gasoline graph from this article:

Here's a chart based on the weekly gasoline price update from the Department of Energy with an overlay of Light Crude, which closed today at 105.68. Gasoline prices at the pump continue to rise.


That guy from Gas Buddy writes a weekly blog on where US gasoline prices are heading for the next week. He is usually accurate and has a good grip on short term price moves.

Nonsense. He probably has a ridiculously simple dead-reckoning algorithm in a spreadsheet that just shows a slope of prices. Of course in a short term this will be accurate, dead-reckoning always is accurate in short-term.

Web - Or as one might say every trend can be easily projected. Until the trend changes, of course. In many cases you don't need that "ridiculously simple dead-reckoning algorithm". A simple straight edge will do nicely.

On the weather sites, XTRP always confuses the new guys for storm path predictions -- it's a simple linear extrapolation of the current velocity.

One step better is a best-fit curve calibrated by history -- climatology, for weather. It actually offers value for weather, dampening extreme predictions from aggressive models.

But of course dynamic models rule the day for weather, and well they should. I doubt there are sufficient raw statistics to create a good real-time gas price predictor, though. There doesn't seem to be a market to fly satellites and jets to view field activity or to monitor wells the world round for production yields, but maybe there should be.......

I keep running this question around in my head. What jobs/economic sector will take the hit this time?

In "Economic Step Down 1", we saw the home construction and real estate market fall apart. I had a relative who was a poster child for this crash. She worked for a big home builder, as a buyer relations specialist(or something like that). Her job was to meet with a family after they moved into a new construction. The family would tell her all the problems with the new house (the toilet upstairs leaks, the window in the kitchen won't open, etc.). Her job was to get these little items fixed without bothering the real building crew, because they were too busy building the next house. When the housing market fell apart, her job quickly looked foolish.

In "Economic Step Down 2", which looks to be scheduled for this summer, what will be the foolish job first to be lost forever?

then, "ESD 3"? "ESD 4"?

There isn't another sector that will disappear like housing. Maybe the airlines will be pinched a lot, however. And banking. Book stores are going away now. And some clothing shops. A little bit across the board. Some McDonalds are gone...yay!! The best is that some used auto lots around here are gone...what a relief. I don't like parking lots of cars so when a used auto dealer throws in the towel I have a little party (just me and a cup of tea).

Little by litle all sorts of despicable businesses are just drying up and blowing away like dust and leaving nothing behind except vacant buildings. I feel like people can crawl out from our caves and blink in the daylight now and start to wonder "what happened here???"

There isn't another sector that will disappear like housing...

I think the bomb is ticking away for big-pharma. $50B/yr in patent drug sales are about to expire. Nothing in the pipeline. This is gonna flush a ton of R&D, gonna bomb a lot of University research, a lot of related commerce, might ruin more that a few deep pockets.

Health care is the next too big to fail industry that's on the edge.

From yesterday's NYT


What a Grinch! And if my local McD got shut down, where could this 78 year old ride his electric bike a mile to get his $2.20 Sunday morning breakfast? You, sir, have no heart.

If there were no freanchise fees, and no advertising budget, and no corporate staff, and no big electric golden arches signs, and all that sort of crap, you could get your breakfast just as cheap or cheaper on a real plate, reused thousands of times, served by the owner or a real waitress, and the money would all stay in your community.

The food would be fresher and somewhat less likely to be full of potentially dangerous additives.

Of course there ids a possibility your local Micker d is running a loss leader at the moment , intending to run out the remaining local competition, so it can raise prices substantially later;but in the long run, all of us, excepting the stockholders and corporate types would be FAR better off if there were no chain restaurants.

Less waste, better food, friendlier service, more local wealth, more variety , more community involvement........

"would be FAR better off if there were no chain restaurants."

What a load of BS. Our local McD's been there for at least 30 years and is locally owned and operated. They must be doing something right for us "great unwashed." They haven't poisoned me yet!

Do you think the money spent on corporate advertising, and the mandatory purchase of everything with a MD logo on it stays in your community?

Is there a MD headquarters or corporate office in your nieghborhood?

Do you really feel as if your quality of life is improved by having a half dozen cheap chain restaurants to choose from, with identical very short menus, identical decor wherever you go, near zero ambience, rather than dozens or hundreds of independents?

There are still a few independent little places around here operated by local owners who haver only to comply with local laws, rather than franchise agreements-the service is as quick, the variety greater, prices comparable, the food and dining experience much more enjoyable.

They buy thier eggs from local stores, and thier bread from local bakeries, and they do without a shadow of doubt on the average use better grades of meat, and so forth.

Really adulterating food is something best accomplished on the industrial scale.

For instance, check out the Hillsville Diner at Hillsville.com, a place I eat occasionally-better food, comparable prices, friendlier service, no throwaway dishes, infinitely better food.

I'm speaking as a pro in the ag industry in terms of what goes on the plate-the big chains skirt the very edge of the regs as sop, in terms of highly processed, prepackaged, premeasured, greasy, salty, sugary,, with tons of chemical additives.

Locals aren't able to cut it quite so close.

No-your local MD has not poisoned anybody in the short term.

But that sort of food is as poisonous as cigarettes over the long haul-however I do acknowledge that they sell a few salads.

But if you care to acquaint yourself with the facts of life in terms of nutrition, you will shortly find that your face is a little red in respect to that bullshit remark.

I suggest you start with any website maintained by any well known organization involved with public health issues, such as the American Heart Association, or any large university with a medical school.

Please note that my remarks are directed not at MD in particular, but at the chain fast food biz in general.

At my age I don't much worry about long term effects (I must have been doing something right). In fact, I don't much worry about peak oil either. I mostly find TOD contributers reaction to it rather entertaining.

(psst, Pi's a she, and she probably doesn't want you eating at McD's anyway.. but I just cheated and got my coffee and a Sammidge at DunkieD's today too..)

PS, Happy Int'l Women's Day, Pi and our other sistas out there!

Thank you for your good wishes!

Yes, as a woman I know I may be rare on TOD but women's voices are needed too.

By the way, McDonalds food and the whole corporate idea just makes me gag---the smell, the packaging, the fake ads that surround it like an aura.

I'll continue to enjoy the disappearance of businesses that I think are ruinous to the planet. I think people should try to get their food elsewhere.

Coffee's my biggest guilty pleasure these days.. but a great majority of my calories and protein come from very wholesome sources. We have a lot of local Ag available to us, CSAs and Farmers Markets, direct from Dairies and Butchers, Local Meats .. Other things like Nuts/Grains we buy raw/bulk and do our own soaking and roasting.

Some of our own gardening, too, and our scraps go across the street to some friends' City Chickens, and come back as eggs.

I do like being around the 'normal' people in town tho', when I make my sulky treks over to one of the Chains. The sourcing of so much of that food has gotten really scary, even while the 'Buns look just like they always did'.. but I grew up a little too ensconced away from the full spread of people in my town, as a Prep-school Faculty kid, so I'm as eager to have Whole-Community in my diet as I am to have Whole-Grains..

Can't live by bread alone, eh? Its a tricky mix.. but it sure is interesting to be here now!


Most americans get most of there calories from fat. Vegetarians included .

I'm probably the same. We go through a TON of butter in my house (from those local Dairies).. and when I fry, I'll often keep the Bacon (Local) drippings for my eggs (L). But we also sweeten with Maple Syrup and Honey(local). The oils/fats in our diet are all stable, non-hydrogenated and from healthy animals/plants.. far as we can tell. The olive-oil is 'from away', but we don't touch most of the 'vegetable oils', which are highly prone to rancidification, and have the capacity to do a great deal of vascular cell-damage.

None of us is showing any of the elevated levels of Cholesterol or Weight that has others trying Low-Fat diets. I even read a hog farmer declare that the Skimmed milk thing amused them, cause that's what they fed their pigs to fatten them up. (Don't recall the counterintuitive mechanism in it, tho.) It's the Pasta/Starches/Flours that we've really held mostly in check for the last few years, doing the pre-soaking and lactofermenting of anything with Grain/Rice/Nuts ...

I have also read that roughly Half the people who die from MI's, Heart Attack, have LOW Cholesterol Levels, apparently casting into doubt the causative link between Cholesterol-> Heart Disease.

Taubes covers that in Good Calories, Bad Calories. Some very well designed, large, expensive studies found that high cholesterol doesn't correlate to heart attacks, but low cholesterol correlates with a higher death rate - from cancer. The results were so unexpected they were simply ignored.

As I recall, he believes that the whole cholesterol/heart disease thing was thrown off by studies of people with a genetic defect that causes high cholesterol and early heart attacks. It may be that correlation is not causation there.

I bought the book on your recommendation. I also bought Cereal Killer (both on Kindle). For years my wife and I placed many foods off limits, thought vegetarian pizza was good, we have altered our diet dramatically. (We are not overweight)
It has been very hard to change our mindset though but working on it.

As an aside, I find the Kindle suits me. Business travel is the bane of my working life and the Kindle has lightened my load. Reason being I always have a few books "on the go", up to six sometimes. I get bored and just need a change so I swap books.

I might be unusual but I doesn't worry me switching back and forth, I will though, finish a book quite quickly if I'm kept interested. I don't read fiction and sometimes I get in over my head and need a break, so I start another book, that's where the kindle is helpful and probably a bit too convenient.
Kindle does maps and illustrations badly, I'm nearly finished Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal, I would have much preferred the paper book.

Actually there are probably more women on TOD than we know. I personally know of two who masquerade as men ... hmmmm>>???

Knowing the BS that gets in the way of having just Plain Communications between Men and Women so much of the time, I can't say as I blame them.. while I'm comforted too to know that there are also women who can be female here and offer some of the balancing views that look to the world in ways we may not, and that they're not (all) driven away by the kind of Lowest Denominator chest-thumping which predominates SO much of other internet conversation.

That and the fact that we have a degree of political and class spread as well. I don't know that I've seen as much Left-Right overreaction and baiting as we've had in the past.. it's here, but the blowups seem a bit lighter for the moment anyhow.

It's a start!

There isn't another sector that will disappear like housing.

I disagree.

Post-secondary education is about to crash all over the US then the rest of the Western world. When any product, in this case educated people, is in a glut, the factories that produce that product must shut down until equilibrium is reached again. The factories in this case are universities and colleges.

When unemployment hits an official 30% rate I predict that we'll see four of five higher ed schools shut down. There won't be the money to run them and there won't be the demand for them.

It doesn't happen very gradually, either. All of a sudden enrollments will just plummet.

College and university professors and related jobs should be re-skilling pronto.

I agree to the extent that the value of spending $150K for a degree in Philosophy or some such will be hard to justify.

There is a lot of money loaned out to students who sign away their future to attend college, those loans are what keeps the system humming along. Student loans from the government and private lenders are going to continue for a while at least, until the lenders stop receiving payments from the army of unemployed or underemployed graduates and the student loan business model fails. Once the lenders can not profit and the government has no more money to lend then most private secondary institutions will close shop pretty quickly.

I think that time is coming, so many students are graduating with $100k or more in debt and those with liberal arts degrees will not be able to pay their debts, even those with marketable degrees such as nursing will have a had time earning enough to pay back their loans. An exception to this are those Universities with large endowments like Harvard as long as they can live off of their endowment they will stay around, albeit much smaller, or a institution such as the University of Phoenix, it has low overhead and many of its students tuition is paid for by their employers. Public institutions may last for a while longer, eventually the states that support them will consolidate their Colleges and far fewer will exist.

I for one think that for example there is no need for almost 200 law schools in the US, producing about 10,000 new Lawyers many who can not find gainful employment, and when the bright young minds who attend law school realize that a Law school education will more often than not result in poverty, then Law schools will be where there is the first big contraction.

I agree to the extent that the value of spending $150K for a degree in Philosophy or some such will be hard to justify.

It won't be just philosophy majors that will be hit. Every academic area will be hit hard.

I think all but the schools with the largest endowments will begin closing down, including and especially the University of Phoenix. I ask people to consider that we have a series of "switches" that are about to be turned off. One of them is the higher-education switch.

In the U.S. we are currently at five people looking for every job opening, using the official numbers. For a time we were at nine to one. That ratio didn't last very long so the market signal — though strong — was too brief to turn the higher-education switch off.

But imagine what happens once we have stayed at nine to one for 48 months. By that time faith that there will be a rebound will have been lost and enrollments will plummet.

I'm holding to my prediction that by 2020 80% of institutions of higher education will have been shut down. This is based on Hirsch's oil production and mitigation predictions, which in turn are based on the various near-term oil production models:


Best Case Mitigation

Higher education would shut down in a heartbeat if student loans were made dischargeable in bankruptcy. The only thing keeping higher education afloat is the ability of colleges and universities to place the student in permanent servitude until the loan is repaid.

Bankruptcy and Financial Aid

PS -- The local community college has seen dropping enrollment in the last months. Although there is a lot of blather about community colleges being the backbone of educating worker for new job opportunities (and they do have a lot of occupationally oriented curricula), the student body may be catching on to economic realities.

I think higher education might drag on longer than that.

People will see it as the answer, not the problem. Hasn't that always been the answer to jobs lost overseas? Get more education? And blue collar workers have been hit a lot harder than college graduates so far. The unemployment rate for high school grads is double that of college grads.

I also expect our fearless leaders to encourage college, by offering more financial aid and changing the rules on student loans.

We may also see both students and teachers move overseas - the students because costs are lower, the teachers because any job is better than no job.

To be sure there will be schools for a long time to come. And there will still be some parents who will tell their kids — even with 40% unemployment — that going to school is still "the best thing to do."

But this explosion in schools we have seen in the last few decades is truly unprecedented. 20% of the existing schools will be more than sufficient to educate the much smaller specialized workforce we will need.

I am assuming that we will have contraction and this changes everything. In contraction the economy has an instant pool of unemployed workers that just keeps swelling over time. People who have jobs stay put unless they are forced out. With retirement no longer an option no one will willingly leave a job.

With no openings why spend the four years and the money? As I said, when there is a glut in any sector, the factories must shut down until equilibrium is reached. It is like that whether one is producing microchips or educated people.

Take a look at how many universities America has:


Since I am an academic I have given a lot of thought to this question, "what will happen to higher education"??

I'm seeing a lot of new technology being used to educate more students for less cost: the internet etc. On the other hand, some classrooms have nothing in the way of technology. You can't count on it when you make a lesson plan.

Professors should be ready to teach all sorts of subjects at all sorts of levels, with rooms that have lots of machines or rooms that have none. Also being able to move abroad (teaching in a new language or functioning in one while teaching in English) is useful now.Also doing other jobs like editing, part-time tutoring, performing weddings (if you are a theology prof.!), private consulting (for scientists, botany experts, business profs).....

I see a gradual slide rather than a sudden stop in higher ed. with sudden stop occuring locally so that is why you need to be able to move abroad or away quickly.

Basically higher education is like infotainment in many ways now.
Professors entertain and perform...we are journeyman players, paid to talk, laugh, smile, tell stories, point out salient facts that might come in handy one day. Google "teaching and acting" and you will be enlightened. Teaching is much more a dramatic performance than it is real divulging of useful information. Teaching is therefore A GIG of some kind.

We are also gatekeepers, paid to rank students on their performance on tests. But that is secondary: once the student is in the school, basically that is enough to get through.

BAck to my point that teaching is A GIG. Yes, it is.

And like any musician or actor, teachers need material and ability. We have to update it and be flexible abouyt pay, location, etc. Higher education may one day disappear but people who live off the WAY OF THE GIG will never disappear.

We will just become the things people who lived off gigs always were: preachers, school teachers, snake oil salesmen, storytellers, actors, mimes, jugglers, politicians, tutors, motivational speech-makers, gurus, etc.

How many other people out there live off the way of the gig?? Talk is cheap, OK, but language is what makes us human (right?) so if you're a person who talks for a living then you see a special side of life. At least I like to think so.

In "Economic Step Down 2", which looks to be scheduled for this summer, what will be the foolish job first to be lost forever?

'Economic step down 2' sounds like a blockbuster coming to a theatre near you, well to all of us. I agree the timing will probably be this Summer, maybe when fuel prices are spiking on the 4th of July. That would sure put a damper on Independence Day.

What jobs will be lost and what sectors will get hit hardest? Seems like real estate will probably dump down farther due to an overall reduction in available funds to pay for housing. The stock market will probably slide back down to half its current state. As for specific jobs that will get nixed, probably anything redundant or in a post peak oil reality not really necessary. As we drop down the net energy ladder, reductions in complexity will in turn reduce support type jobs.

I thought I stole that term (Economic Step Down) from you.
Anyway, I didn't coin that phrase, but it works well for the idea we have been kicking around here for a while.

Anything discretionary will continue to take hits.

At some point (not sure when) "tech" will get hit. I'm an old dude and I hardly have any of the "modern marvels" that most people are walking around with. I never had any of this stuff growing up or during my young adulthood, and for the most part, I still don't need it and still don't have it. So, I would say that all the different cell/iPhones/Smart phone models, iPods, iPads, Kindles, all the myriad of wireless devices and gadgets, flat screen TVs, "entertainment centers", etc, etc., will all take a solid hit as well as the supporting communications services one needs to run all this garbage.

People have been predicting that for awhile, but Apple keeps on making ridiculous amounts of money.

I think the people who buy that stuff are wealthy enough that they are insulated from the economy, or think they are.

My guess is the next step down will be government workers/services. Even if the economy keeps improving, state and local governments tend to lag years behind.

I think Kindle and Ipad are cheap and convenient options for books and laptops. The numbers will decrease and innovation will slow, but I still think e-books will kill the big bookstores and handhelds will kill PCs. Maybe I'm overly hopeful, being in the industry, but I think communications and integration has a ways yet to go, given the success in Asian economies that goes well beyond what we have here. What I do expect will go away is the profitability of big, traditional carriers like AT&T. People will keep wifi in their house long after their $50 data plans go away on their phones.

I think schools, colleges, and state gov'ts will hurt. Local too, but not as much -- they cut back already to some degree. Also commercial real-estate, which has yet to crumble to the degree anticipated in 2008, and the construction industry along with it. Here, homebuilders are struggling, but commercial is doing OK, though vacancies seem to be growing in strip malls.

I think Kindle and Ipad are cheap and convenient options for books and laptops.

I don't.

For the most part, Kindle books are as expensive as paper books, sometimes more expensive. And there's zero resale value.

iPads are fine for entertainment, but they're clunky compared to smart phones, and not much good for work. Honestly, I think a lot of people buying them are just doing it because it's cool.

To be fair, e-books do save a lot of space compared to traditionals. Additionally you can obtain them instantly without needing to go to the shop. And then there are also a lot of decent, legally free titles out there to choose from.

It does have its advantages.

Don't get me started on the iPad though...

That's a different matter altogether. If Paleo had just said the Kindle was more convenient, I'd have gone along with that.

E-readers are insanely popular in Japan, because they have such small apartments there's no room for a lot of books. There are businesses there that will scan your books for you, so you can put them on your e-reader and get rid of the dead-tree versions.

That's the reason I want a Kindle: it would allow me to get rid of some physical clutter.

As for the free titles...they're nice, but you can read them without a Kindle. The stuff in the public domain was formatted for Palm pilots back when dinosaurs ruled the earth. You can also download Amazon's Kindle for PC or Mac, and read Kindle books that way. (I do that sometimes, for the very rare occasions when the electronic version is much cheaper.)

Ha! Palm pilots! That's a flashback...

Yes, I wouldn't mind a Kindle myself - I do like the way the ink doesn't strain your eyes as much as a laptop screen. I still find it a little odd only reading the one page at a time (rather than like an open book), but I'm sure you can get used to that.

Of course nothing really beats reading an old, musty 1800s tome in front of an open fire..

I've been meaning to ask you: "you agree with nick", is that a reference to Nick from France, A.K.A. "The Modern Mystic"?


But instead of closing ranks and crushing this impudent upstart, Cameron and Brown fell over themselves to win his support. "I agree with Nick" was the catchphrase of the night, an early public sign of the post-election haggling that may ensue if we end up with a hung parliament. Brown repeatedly tried to cast himself as Clegg's ally, desperate for the two of them to pile on Cameron the way Barack Obama and John Edwards once did against Hillary Clinton. But Clegg was playing hard to get, audibly snorting when Brown claimed he and the Lib Dem saw eye to eye on political reform.

The irony is that nobody now agrees with Nick it seems. In a by-election for a vacant parliamentary seat last week the Lib Dems went from 2nd last time to 6th place this time - behind even the far right BNP.

Yes, I somewhat rue the choice now. Luckily most of the non-UK people on this forum don't get the connection!

Here's a very quick, and uncannily accurate, summary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0QsSoV0SRo

Cheap has at least a few definitions, but I was thinking "cost of media" when I typed it. Right now, e-books for new-releases carry a premium, just like movies do. Before long, though, that will fade a bit and publishers will struggle to maintain their dominance. Think YouTube and iTunes versus Blockbuster and Tower Records. Big-name movies cost a lot to create, so there will always be some premium for a big new movie. Books are created by individuals, much like music only without the show, so I fully expect the cost of independent books to head toward that of independent music -- about zero, just like blogs.

In fact, I fully expect a color Kindle/iPad-like e-zine reader to be part of killing magazines. The only thing worse for clutter than books is magazines, and the dynamics of on-line media will make an e-zine faster and more current than print versions. This device should do Netflix/YouTube as well, of course. And TV as well, once the content bundles finally break.

So, I think content protection is the only fortress for the status quo when media cost favors a shift.

I was expecting e-books to be cheaper than paper books, but they're not, and the price isn't going down.

Self-published books are often cheaper in electronic form. Like, down to song prices (99 cents each). If self-publishing takes off, there could be something there.

But I don't think that will happen. Digital music didn't really open up the business to indy music; instead, it allowed big acts to get even bigger. Technology, rather than giving a platform to independent voices, is stifling them.

I just don't see the Kindle as a good value for people who don't have a lot of money. (Game systems are a different story. Despite the high cost, they provide a lot of entertainment for the money.)

As for magazines...I think Clay Shirky is right. Newspapers and magazines are probably doomed, and anyone who thinks they know what will replace them is probably wrong.

Governments will surely love Kindles and other e-readers. Just push a button and wirelessly nuke any book or article all across your country, send it down the ol' memory hole any time you feel like it, without all the expense and bother of sending storm troopers to every house.

Yeah, that's a big reason I haven't bought a Kindle. I don't like the idea of Amazon being able to reach out and erase a book you bought (and the notes you took on it).

They also have a tendency to block users who aren't profitable for them. While you'd still have the books you purchased, you couldn't buy any new ones (at least not from Amazon).

There is a lot to be said for pdfs instead. I wonder if there is a breaker yet for Kindle files on a PC? I would think somebody would do that eventually.

On Ubuntu (Linux) the program Calibre can open and convert kindle files. I have never bought a kindle file, but the sort that you can download for free using bit torrent seem to work just fine, same with every other ebook file I have thrown at it. (Help menu says it will accept CBZ, CBR, CBC, CHM, EPUB, FB2, HTML, LIT, LRF, MOBI, ODT, PDF, PRC, PDB, PML, RB, RTF, SNB, TCR, TXT)

I believe the program can be installed in a variety of devices. I use it on a mini-laptop, the same little computer that does all my other computer stuff also goes to bed with me at night to read me stories.

Thanks for the tip - installing now!

I have a Kindle because my parents gave me one and I was not about to make them feel bad by telling them what I really thought of it - I consider it a perfect example of unnecessary over complication and would never have bought one.

However I am allergic to the molds in old books (and they don't have to be very old), which is a cruel bit of irony. The Kindle is nice in that regard. Also, it is nice when you want to read a book and not have to offer explanations for what you are reading. And of course there's the instant gratification when you really want to read something NOW. If you turn off the wireless the battery will go for weeks. Also, if you get a real piece of crap (such as The Road) you can just delete it without clogging up the landfill.

The reading experience is OK for novels and such, but for anything where you might want to flip back to previous pages or figures and such it's really quite frustrating. I read "The Fall of Rome and The End of Civilization" by Bryan Ward-Perkins on it and really wished I had gotten the real book.

On balance I find I do like it, even if it's quite clearly a temporary, absurdly complex alternative for a book. Which is why I've bought duplicate actual book copies of the things I really want to keep around.

In theory Microsoft could reach out and wipe your entire machine :-)

To be honest I'm using Linux on the desktop more and more although not because I'm expecting Microsoft to wipe my machine. The 7 year old laptop I am using now runs like a dog under XP but is more responsive under Puppy Linux than some brand new laptops running Windows 7.

Puppy Linux is an excellent lightweight live distribution anyone can play with - http://puppylinux.org. It actually allows you to boot from CD and save new work back to it (multi-session CD mode). In "frugal" install mode it can sit inside a windows partition and leave the windows bootloader untouched. And it can boot from and save back to flash storage.

In short you can use it for months without ever installing. Some people have apparently run for years like that.

But with Amazon, there's no "theory" about it.

Yes, I know they did it but haven't they promised not to do it again? Microsoft haven't done it but have never promised not to :-)

Microsoft can't wipe out anything that's not connected to the net.

The Kindle is kind of useless without a web connection.

Ah so you haven't heard about the super secret windows monitoring of the incoming power supply for "action" signals picked up by the cable acting as an antenna?

Hmm, I just made that up but now that I think about it :-)

Actually reminds me of the days when in Europe you could turn up almost any amplifier with no input and listen to Radio Moscow World Service and/or the Woodpecker signal.

Who uses a computer that isn't connected to the 'net?

r4 - A few of us. Difficult to hack into a system when there's no door...or Window.

I do. :-)

I also have my data backed up to things that aren't connected to the net: external hard drives, DVDs, etc.

But the backup for a Kindle is Amazon.


'Clouds' are a great way to store water, until it rains.

I'm keeping my copies at home as much as I can.

[raises hand] Me too. I use old, cheap laptops for data logging (not networked; Windows hates that) and backup to a non-networked raid drive. Important stuff also goes to DVD, especially taxes and pictures > firesafe. It's funny how these things don't seem so important until you have to reconstruct your life. Personal layers of complexity.... :-/

we have all pics and data of any importance on ext. hard drives (only connected when we need them!) We got some surprises with older cd writables (~8years old): data is corrupted and the comp cannot read them anymore!

One more thing about books.
I have a Bible printed in 1733 (based on Martin Luthers text from 1654) with wooden back and front cover (with bug holes too!) Beautiful to look at it and read.
All modern media is obsolete in just a few years - just try to watch a VHS movie after a decade. Can you still access a 5" floppy disk? Or a 3.5 for that matter? If you are not constantly upgrading and moving your data to the new medium in a few years you cannot access it any more.

Doesn't smell that Kindle episode with Amazon like Orwell's 1984? For me it does!

I prefer books made from dead trees over electronic media any time!

But that is just me. I am a little like the librarian in the movie "The Day after Tomorrow" who clutches the book from Friedrich Nietzsche, LOL.


As with so many things in life,

'Diversify your portfolio!'

(I've got a little Droid-wannabe in my basement who looks like a black R2D2, and he's got a couple Floppy Drives and an 8-track Tape player, and to dazzle and confuse his enemies, can deploy a little Disco-Ball from his dome, with a Death-star Dimple, and play annoying 70's dance hitz. I call him Bad Dog.. but he still doesn't come when I call..)

A lot of people who want computer security.


Lots of good responses, but my point is that ultimately the computer is there to process information for us.

Right now, most of the information that has particular value either comes from or goes to the net, so unless you keep offline backups religiously your data is vulnerable from many fronts.

Amazon can't delete books from a Kindle if it isn't connected to the net, but if you want to buy books from Amazon for it you have to connect to the net and give them the opportunity.

I had a computer, for work and play, long before I had an Internet connection, and if the Internet went dark tomorrow, I would still want a computer. A Kindle...probably not.

Muchas Gracias! That's a great tip undertow, I have an old flaky laptop that I might be able to give a new lease on life with this.

Also take a look at Damn Small Linux.


My local library is now offering e-book downloads to all e-devices that can use Kindle software (iPads can do this). You get on a waiting list and then download when it's your turn. The book stays on the device for 3 weeks and then magically gets locked or deleted. My wife is an avid reader and very often bought hardback books when they first came out. E-book versions of new releases are cheaper than the physical verson. She was the type that loved to hold physical books, liked the smell..etc. I never thought she'd give it all up, but I am now an iPad widower. She's addicted. Plus, it's self-illuminated so she can read in bed at night while I'm trying to doze off.

iPads are going to change many things...you can get magazines, newspapers (many for free like USA Today). The president of retail in my company bought all his senior managers iPads and our IT dept is designing daily retail reports specifically formatted for the iPads. More and more business apps are being written for the iPad (there's already a version of Word, Excel and PowerPoint). Mid-sized tablets are the next wave and laptops will be history very, very soon.

All my opinion, of course.

How does one input data (text, numbers) into tablet devices?

Say one wishes to take notes during a meeting?

Is there a virtual keyboard on the bottom of the screen which one can tap on?

Yes. From what I can tell 2-finger typists do well on them. I see them replacing laptops for note-taking in meetings that I'm in.

That's the main reason I don't think tablets will replace laptops. The virtual keyboard is a pain. Since the entire screen is flat, touch typists are out of luck.

Yes, I've seen those. But if you're going to carry one of those around, you might as well carry around a laptop.

Librarians launch boycott in battle over e-books

Under a policy that began Monday, libraries can "lease" (for a fee) new HarperCollins e-books and loan them no more than 26 times. At that point, the book disappears — digitally — unless the library pays to lease another copy for the next 26 readers. (Libraries lend e-books one at a time, just like print, unless multiple copies are bought.)

GMT - Genetically Modified Text, Terminator Tomes.

I think Kindle and Ipad are cheap and convenient options for books and laptops.

I agree, and from everything I've read Kindle is going huge, getting bigger all the time, and it scares the heck out of paperback publishers.

Kindle is going huge, getting bigger all the time, and it scares the heck out of paperback publishers.

Insofar as they are just pushing paper rather than providing content, they should be scared.

If I'm sitting on the Oregon coast, far from the nearest city, watching the waves roll in and feeling the sand between my toes, and suddenly think, "I wonder what's been written lately about good places to eat on the Oregon coast?" I can take my Kindle, go to the Kindle Store, find a book like, "Guide to Fine Restaurants on the Oregon coast" or something, and download it. Then, after finding a good restaurant I can finish reading the New York Times, or Al Gore's latest treatise about how we're all going to die from global warming, and then go for dinner.

Paperback publishers, fear it!

Future versions will no doubt include GPS so you can get a nice map of the Oregon coast with an X marked "You are here", a circle marked "Restaurant is there", and a dotted line following the roads between the two with detailed instructions on how to get there.

I don't think that's a very good example. While I do see the appeal of the Kindle for travel (no breaking your back hauling a library around), things like restaurant reviews are better accessed with a smart phone. Reviews, directions, etc., will be far more complete and up to date than a book, paper or Kindle.

People have been predicting that for awhile, but Apple keeps on making ridiculous amounts of money.

The thing about electronic equipment is that it follows Moore's law, and prices follow an exponential decline curve. Electronic equipment just keeps getting more and more affordable, and the capabilities of it keep rising and rising. Apple is riding the curve in this consumer marketplace.

For some reason people think that other things (e.g. solar cells or biofuels) should follow Moore's law, but there's no reason to think they should, and in fact they don't. The people who assume they will are delusional. I don't like talking to these people because you can't have a rational conversation with them unless their psychiatrists put them on the right medication.

The result is that electronics become more and more affordable compared to everything else, and as a result, people buy iPods, iPhones, and iPads in preference to everything else - because they're always cheaper and more affordable.

Other stuff, NOT!

RMG, that's why I put Moore's Law as my technology canary -- until the progression stops, electronics is a good industry to be in. Once it slows, technology growth slows with it, and once it flattens the Kursweil crowd will have to rethink their 2045 singularity prediction.

I think we still have a number of years of continual improvements, only I suspect the flattening has already started. It'll take years before the marginal value improvement is so small as to make the technology investment unworthwhile, and there is value in having convenient access to information, people, and news. I do think it will be economically driven long before the technology becomes impossible, but the latter may put a cap on it too.

Some of the items you mention have electronics subsystems which may follow the curve, but most are more traditional economies of scale, or have other innovation curves.

The consumer PC business has basically turned into a consumer electronics business, which is why it has gone to the Far East.

Moore's law only works for electronics so long as the volume produced rises faster than the prices fall. Otherwise total revenue falls and the game stops. That is about to happen as the industry goes towards producing maybe a billion or two converged devices that are phone/gps/music/video/web/bookreader/etc devices. In effect, the more than one billion cellphones currently produced evolve to subsume every other function in <$200 device. Furthermore, the electronics in the device will cost maybe $20, with the rest being the mechanical parts, labor, software, etc.. A lot of these components and labor are now subject to inflation in China.

Cost to build iPad: iSuppli says as little as $229.35
breaks down the cost of an iPad. Note that the processor, for example, is estimated at $17.

Agree with all that, but there is another megatrend dynamic which has yet to take off, but it will if prices continue downward and the economy stays sufficiently robust.

Initially, people communicated person to person 1:1 and 1:N and N:1. Many generations of electronics have assisted that path.
More recently, people communicated person to machine, with the machine providing the bulk of the data - dominated 1:N fan-out.

Of late, machine to machine has been growing as well, with everything from search engines to B2B integrators faciliting the flow of information. Still, the total is small compared to machine-to-person (which, incidentally, is now dominated by video distribution).

What comes next may well be an explosion of machines talking about us, rather than just talking to us (though that is growing as well), and also talking to each other for their own value. I fully expect to see small, low-cost devices talking to all sorts of peers for all sorts of purposes, with a resulting explosion in intelligent network endpoints. I also expect the creation of a micro-charging network protocol for cheap, occasional transmission of low-rate data by any available network.

These devices could include smart appliances with not only power control but automated diagnostics; cars with the ability to report usage and issues to various tools; more meters and equipment reporting status to utilities; in-home lamps and widgets talking to meters, HVAC systems, and occupants; home computers talking to work computers plus cars, Kindles, and so forth; pop machines talking back to maintenance dispatchers; packages talking to trucks and back to shippers; your shoes talking to your phone which talks to your doctor; and of course video cameras watching their surroundings and talking to surveillance systems.

Note that I'm not saying this will make the world more robust or materially better, only that there is value in expediting the flow of available information.

Machine-machine communications is very much more efficient than machine-human communications. It takes far less hardware, software, and processing power for your transmision to talk with your engine than for your PC to run your display, mouse and keyboard.

This is why technologies such as "Watson" will be so positive for computing. Business processes that today involve outputs and inputs from multiple humans can be replaced by business processes that involve communicating intelligent software agents at far less cost.

Moore's law is based on the number of components you can place on a chip. The cost per square millimetre of a silicon chip is relatively constant. As the number of components per square millimetre increases, the cost per component decreases and the speed increases because the components are closer together.

The obviously feasible case is the human brain. Eventually you should be able to build an electronic device with the computational power of the human brain occupying the same volume as a human brain. If nature can do it, human beings should be able to do it, too.

There's nothing to force you to stop there, because there's nothing to stop you building an electronic device smarter than a human being. I don't know what the limiting case is.

Other related technologies including data storage and display pixels have their own fairly constant curves -- probably other technologies do as well.

There is no guarantee that the human-brain-level computer can be a semiconductor technology, though. I think a requirement of Kursweil's Singularity is that you can always build a better computer using current technology. Today the scale and rapidity of development of new chips is limited by computers, but the cleverness of the architecture is still created by human brains.

We are not yet to the point that semiconductor computers can create better semiconductor computers, let alone where they can design biological ones, but again that doesn't mean they can't get there.

Edit: Philosophically, I an unconvinced that a better computer will solve many societal issues, but I am quite sure it would create new ones. Perhaps there is a Moore's Law of technological problem creation as well?

As feature size has gotten smaller, the cost of the semicondutor fab has gone up. There are now relatively few actual semiconductor fab companies and the price of a fab is approaching $10 billion.

Which is why I suspect the failure will be economic rather than purely technological. There will likely be another generation or two in the lab that cannot be built given economic realities at some point. But that point isn't yet.

Moore's law is a finite resource as well. When the electron flows in a cunductor, its possition is not specified, instead it is located along a moving probability field. Once the conductors get so small that two conductors can be inside the probability field of the same electron, said electron will have a chance to jump to the other wire. Thus you get a bit error.

Once we hit this wall, no more Moore's law. (Pun unintended). Just like when you squeeze the last oil out of a field, you will never actually hit the wall; it just gets more and more problematic to move it yet another step. For this reason, the constant in Moore's law have gradually increased over the years. It is basicly moving from "double every 12 months" to "double every 24 months". And onwards.

Anything discretionary will continue to take hits.

I am feeling that pain. My personal PC I built in 2000. Still using it now to type this.
I drive a car from 1998 that I keep repaired and running as a driveway mechanic.

I'd guesstimate my discretionary income is under 10% of my take home pay, and it will likely erode to smaller percentages as it has continued to.

Clergy and coaches.

Contributions are down, and congregations are consolidating or closing.

Municipal recreation staff are being cut, and there is some downward pressure on the school side as budgets are cut.

Attendance at religious services and activities, plus travel to high school and college athletic practice and events, consumes several percent of the gasoline supply.

I can confirm the clergy part of that prediction. In spite of the so-called "recovery" since 2008-09, contributions at my church have continued to decline. We are currently doing the pledge drive for the 2011-12 fiscal year starting in July -- I worry yet another decline in the budget is coming.

Our church is down from the peak, but up from the bottom. The building fund has slowed, while assistance expenses are up. Most of the real work is volunteering, though, and that hasn't changed too much.

High-school travel for sports is unchanged for the kids (more on the bus) but less hotel trips for the families.

Ditto for competitive sports -- budgets are way down, and more kids are traveling with coaches rather than families staying. The kids still play out of state, but $500 weekends for the family turn into $100 trips for the kid.

In "Economic Step Down 2", which looks to be scheduled for this summer, what will be the foolish job first to be lost forever?

My guess is the Interior Design Psycologists will have to re-think their career choise.

Yes, they exist.

Aerospace, airlines, airports; car companies and auto dealerships.

Flying will go back to being a privilege afforded only by the upper classes, and very few people will be buying new cars.

Used cars and parts, mechanics, home maintenance and repair should tread water.

Restaurants might also be in trouble.

If the U.S. military took a significant haircut, then there would be a lot of formerly well-off Federal GS workers and contractors lining up for those Wal-Mart greeter jobs...

Nice little summary video of the oil situation in Libya by Al Jazeera. Reports output has fallen by 2/3s so far:


According to EIA, Saudi Arabia was already producing 9 mb/d in January this year.

Source: STEO Table Browser

Assuming Saudi URR of 185 Gb, depetion rate must now be north of 5%/year:


That's all liquids. OPEC's Monthly Oil Market Report has Saudi producing 8,433,000 bp/d crude only in January. Both of them are pretty close because Saudi probably produces over half a million barrels per day of condensate and other liquids.

Ron P.

No, it is crude only.

No, it is all liquids. Read the header:

Table 3c. OPEC Crude Oil and Liquid Fuels Supply

Every crude oil table in the Short Term Energy Report is all liquids.

Ron P.

No, read the last three rows in the table: "OPEC Total", "Other Liquids", "Total OPEC Supply".

You are correct. My error. I never noticed that before. Thanks.

Ron P.

GPS chaos: How a $30 box can jam your life

… [GPS] satellite signals now do a lot more than inform your car's satnav. GPS has become an "invisible utility" that we rely on without realising. Cellphone companies use GPS time signals to coordinate how your phone talks to their towers. Energy suppliers turn to GPS for synchronising electricity grids when connecting them together. And banks and stock exchanges use the satellites for time-stamps that prevent fraud. Meanwhile, our societies' reliance on GPS navigation is growing by the year.

…Last has first-hand experience of how easy it is to block a GPS signal, and the effects it can have on modern technology. In 2010, he conducted an experiment in the North Sea, aboard the THV Galatea, a 500-tonne ship. The Galatea is the pride of its fleet, with all the latest navigation equipment. Last wanted to find out how it would cope without GPS. So he used a simple jamming device that overwhelmed the GPS signal by broadcasting noise on the same frequency as the satellites.

When Last activated the jammer, the ship went haywire. According to the electronic display on the ship's bridge, the Galatea was suddenly flying at Mach speeds over northern Europe and Ireland. Then alarms sounded. The ship's navigation backup – its gyrocompass – crashed, because it uses GPS to provide corrections. The radar did the same. Even the ship's satellite communications failed, because GPS points the antenna in the right direction.

UK scientists warn of 'dangerous over-reliance' on GPS

The Royal Academy of Engineering said the application of the technology was now so broad -- from car sat-navs to the time stamp on financial transactions -- that without adequate backup, any disruption could have a major impact.

It cited a recent European Commission study showing that six to seven percent of economic growth in western countries -- about 800 billion euros ($1,100 billion) in the EU -- is already dependent on such navigation.

If a horizontal drilling rig is positioned by GPS than, according to these articles, a $30 plastic box from China could scrap a $3 million dollar hole in the ground. (Even more off-shore). Would probably play havoc with Wall Street too.

I saw or heard a report a few weeks ago about how GPS blocker was interfering with planes trying to land. The GPS would cut out at around the same time each day. The investigators eventually found a truck driving by each day heading home from work that had a GPS blocker to avoid paying tolls (IIRC this was in Europe, perhaps Germany).

They concluded by saying that planes were going to back to some form of LORAN on-board as a GPS backup.

"One after another, the monitors went black, and then the room lights went out, plunging the control room into darkness and confusion. Everyone started yelling at once. Muldoon opened the blinds and let light in, and Wu brought over the printout.

... Wu said, "You shut down at five-thbirteen this morning, and when you started back up, you started with auxiliary power."

"Jesus," Arnold said. Apparently, main power had not been on since shutdown. When he powered back up, only the auxiliary power came on. Arnold was thinking that was strange, when he suddenly realized that that was normal. That was what was supposed to happen. It made perfect sense: the auxiliary generator fired up first, and it was used to turn on the main generator, because it took a heavy charge to start the main power generator. That was the way the system was designed.

Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton.

"There is a problem with that island. It is an accident waiting to happen." Ian Malcolm

Art is the lie that enables us to see the truth - Picasso

Toyota's hybrid sales top 3 million units

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) said Tuesday it had sold more than three million hybrid vehicles, a key pillar of its earnings, thanks to the global popularity of the Prius model.

3 million down, 797 million to go.

Wyoming is beset by a big-city problem: smog

(AP) -- Wyoming, famous for its crisp mountain air and breathtaking, far-as-the-eye-can-see vistas, is looking a lot like smoggy Los Angeles these days because of a boom in natural gas drilling.

...In many ways, it's a haze of prosperity: Gas drilling is going strong again, and as a result, so is the Cowboy State's economy. Wyoming enjoys one of the nation's lowest unemployment rates, 6.4 percent. And while many other states are running up monumental deficits, lawmakers are projecting a budget surplus of more than $1 billion over the coming year in this state of a half-million people.

Still, in the Upper Green River Basin, where at least one daycare center called off outdoor recess and state officials have urged the elderly to avoid strenuous outdoor activity, some wonder if they've made a bargain with the devil. Two days last week, ozone levels in the gas-rich basin rose above the highest levels recorded in the biggest U.S. cities last year.

4 Intriguing Inventions from the ARPA-E Innovation Summit

1. Printable LED Lights: Nth Degree Technologies
2. Trapping the Ocean's Power: Atmocean, Inc.
3. Refrigeration Anywhere: Xergy Inc
4. Storing Sun and Wind Energy: General Compression

Colombian troops rescue 22 kidnapped oil workers

Colombian troops have rescued 22 oil workers from Canada's Talisman Energy a day after they were kidnapped by guerrillas in a remote eastern jungle.

Talisman Energy said the workers had been hired for seismic investigations by a contractor, South American Exploration, and that 22 were taken. Colombia's military put the number at 23 and said one remained missing.