Drumbeat: March 14, 2011

Saudi sends troops, Bahrain Shi'ites call it "war"

(Reuters) - Saudi Arabia sent troops into Bahrain on Monday to help put down weeks of protests by the Shi'ite Muslim majority, a move opponents of the Sunni ruling family on the island called a declaration of war.

Analysts saw the troop movement into Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, as a mark of concern in Saudi Arabia that concessions by the country's monarchy could inspire the conservative Sunni kingdom's own Shi'ite minority.

Saudi Troops Enter Bahrain to Help Put Down Unrest

CAIRO —Troops from Saudi Arabia and police officers from the United Arab Emirates crossed into Bahrain on Monday under the aegis of the Gulf Cooperation Council to help quell unrest there, a move Bahraini opposition groups denounced in a statement as an “occupation.”

The deployments were confirmed by the state-run Bahrain News Agency and the foreign minister of the Emirates, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan.

Crude Oil Futures Edge Higher in New York as Saudi Troops Enter Bahrain

Crude oil futures edged higher in New York to end four days of declines on speculation unrest in the Middle East may escalate after Saudi Arabia sent its troops into Bahrain.

Oil erased losses as Saudi Arabia’s cabinet said the kingdom has responded to a Bahraini request for “support.” Prices were lower most of the day on speculation Japan’s demand may decline after the 8.9-magnitude earthquake devastated the third-largest economy.

“The situation in Bahrain appears to be escalating and people start to wonder that it could become a bigger issue,” said Carl Larry, president of Oil Outlooks & Opinions LLC in Houston.

Gadhafi's government controls the skies by day; sundown brings rebels out in oil-rich east

TOBRUK, Libya - Moammar Gadhafi's warplanes, artillery and mortar shells can control huge swaths of territory by day, including oil ports, rebel supply routes and even hostile towns. Rebels say anti-government forces can still return in darkness to take advantage of Gadhafi's own thin supply lines and overstretched ground troops.

Oil exports on hold at last rebel-held Libyan port

TOBRUK, Libya—The last major eastern Libyan oil port firmly under rebel control is not expecting another crude tanker for a month, a senior oil official said Monday, raising new questions whether the OPEC member was still exporting crude at all.

Rajab Sahnoun, a top executive with the Arabian Gulf Oil Co., or Agoco, in Tobruk also warned that the Marsa al-Harigah facility's two functioning storage tanks could be full, forcing a shutdown in production if the tanker does not come as expected.

How global instability could threaten the country's fuel supplies

WITH oil supplies from Libya disrupted, some Japanese refineries out of action and oil prices back around $US100 a barrel, how vulnerable are Australian oil supplies to global instability?

10 Fascinating Oil Charts

Erste Research Group's excellent report on oil crunches some fascinating data on oil and its current short-term and long-term influence on the global economy. We picked ten charts to highlights some key findings from the report. Click for chart slideshow here.

Kurt Cobb - Memo to market: High oil prices are DE-flationary

As the European Central Bank (ECB) prepares to raise interest rates to prevent inflation, the bank cites rising commodity prices, particularly oil prices, as a sign of that inflation. What the bank and other market participants don't seem to understand is that high commodity prices and, in particular, high oil prices are deflationary.

The logic is so simple it's hard to understand why smart people with advanced degrees can't see it. Commodities, particularly oil, pull money away from other sectors of the economy. When people are forced to choose between paying for heat and gasoline or paying the mortgage, they pay for heat and gasoline. Cars don't budge without gasoline (unless you can afford an electric one) and most people need their cars to get to work. The heat can be turned off rather quickly by the utility company in comparison to the glacial pace of a mortgage foreclosure that can take many months and sometimes more than a year.

Gas prices put brake on spring break for many

University of Iowa sophomore Jimmy Novak didn't let $3.50-a-gallon gasoline prices keep him from making a spring break pilgrimage to Daytona Beach, Fla., with his fraternity brothers last weekend.

But the prospect of $50 fill-ups did alter his behavior: "We're squeezing five people in a car to save money on gas, and we made a ton of sandwiches before we left instead of stopping for fast food," says Novak. "We just told ourselves it's going to cost a pretty penny."

Japan's gasoline needs may raise U.S. gas prices

Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami could cause gas prices to rise even higher in the U.S. as refineries here try to make up for some of the losses to Japan's refining capacity. At the same time, it is reducing crude oil prices.

Japanese ports sustain major damage, some out for months

TOKYO/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Japanese ports handling as much as 7 percent of the country's industrial output sustained major damage from last week's earthquake, disrupting global supply chains and causing billions of dollars in losses, industry officials said.

Tokyo Elec says its four LNG terminals undamaged by quake

(Reuters) - Tokyo Electric Power Co said on Monday its four liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals have been running normally and were undamaged by a strong earthquake on Friday that hit the northeast coast of Japan.

Japan's TonenGeneral preparing to restart Kawasaki plant

(Reuters) - Japan's Exxon Mobil group refiner TonenGeneral Sekiyu KK said on Monday it was preparing to restart its 335,000 barrels per day Kawasaki plant, near Tokyo, which was shut after Friday's strong earthquake.

Key Japanese oil port resumes some operations - industry sources

(Reuters) - Japan's Chiba oil port, one of the country's biggest, has resumed some operations with at least one terminal remaining shut following last week's devastating earthquake and tsunami, industry sources said on Monday.

"The Chiba port is open," said a Tokyo-based senior official with a shipping company.

"Only the Cosmo Oil terminal remains shut, the other 10 terminals I think are open. We still don't have the full picture."

Russia and Qatar 'ready to supply Japan LNG'

Russia and Qatar are both poised to supply liquefied natural gas to Japan as relief following the weekend's earthquake in the region, the two countries said today.

Russia is considering redirecting supplies of LNG from other export destinations operator of Russia's LNG plant on the Pacific coast said today.

Russia to increase electricity, LNG supplies to Japan

Russia is increasing energy supplies to Japan to help its disaster-hit neighbor tackle energy shortages.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called for Russian producers of liquefied natural gas on Monday to review contracts with Japan and increase LNG supplies to the country.

"Our partners should make concessions. This is a very big problem and we should introduce changes to agreements [with Japan]," Medvedev said, speaking at his Gorki residence outside Moscow.

The UK’s Japanese natgas exposure

As we reported earlier, liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes are being diverted to Japan to help it overcome its fuel shortages.

This, though, is having an impact on European natural gas prices — British national balancing point (NBP) prices in particular.

Japanese Earthquake: Positive for Product Tankers, Negative for Crude Tankers

The recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami has caused major damage and closing of most of the Japanese ports. It has also resulted in the closure of approximately one-third of Japan's total refining capacity. Crude currently on route to Japan will now likely be discharged at refineries in Asia (India’s Reliance Industries can be a big beneficiary) and the refined products will then be carried on to Japan once ports reopen. This is likely to be a positive for product tankers while negative for crude tankers rates. Before going into reasoning, let’s first understand the difference between product tankers and oil tankers.

Oil prices and the japanese disaster: the herd got it wrong

Even in the short term, probably within at most a week, Japan's oil demand and therefore its call on world export supply will be up.

Bank of Italy moves on UBAE over Libya asset freeze

(Reuters) - The Bank of Italy said on Monday it had placed Banca UBAE in Rome under special administration following the European Council's decision last week to freeze Libyan banking assets.

Chevron spending targets big Aussie gas projects

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Chevron Corp is targeting a 1 percent output increase in 2011 as it invests in two huge Australian natural gas projects to reignite growth at the second-largest U.S. oil company.

Chevron to Boost Production to 2.79MM Bopd

Chevron said it plans to increase drilling for unconventional gas and oil reserves in the U.S. and elsewhere and that it plans to raise total production 1% this year.

Norway extends ban on Arctic shelf oil production until 2013

Norway's government has extended a 30-year moratorium on oil production on its Arctic shelf until 2013 under pressure from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the environmental organization said on Monday.

CERAWeek topics span deepwater drilling, the economy, oil prices

More investments are necessary if oil production is to keep up with spiraling demand worldwide, and industry is increasingly relying on partnerships to spread financial risk and share expertise, oil company executives told the IHS-CERA energy conference last week in Houston.

Total SA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie said sufficient short-term oil supply exists worldwide despite civil unrest in the Middle East. But he said more investments are needed if long-term oil and gas production is to meet forecast demand.

Shell hopes for more Saudi gas, doubt over profits

KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell is optimistic a second phase of exploration in Saudi Arabia's Empty Quarter will yield gas, although it is unclear how economic it will be, it said in an interview.

Aramco rents Japanese oil storage-facilities

(MENAFN) Saudi Aramco's vice president of marketing and supply said that the company would rent storage tanks from Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation, reported Arabian Oil and Gas.

Energy chairman warns US headed toward 1970s-style crisis

The U.S. could be heading toward an energy crisis of a type unseen since the 1970s, the chairman of the House's Energy panel said.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, warned of elevated prices for gas and other energy sources along the lines of what the U.S. experienced under President Carter.

Fuel for thought: Is it time for the U.S. to invest in coal-to-liquids technology?

Escalating gas prices these past few weeks bring to mind one remedy that could leave Middle Eastern oil out of the equation — coal to liquids.

As consumers cringe when fueling up at prices of $3.50-plus a gallon, there is an alternative in the background that could potentially lower the prices at the pump and fuel jobs in the coalfields region. The answer: Coal-to-liquids technology.

A Solar and Wind Revolution From a Land of Oil

BRUSSELS — Higher oil prices are usually good news for clean energy because they make costly technologies like solar and wind less daunting to investors. But for one of the world’s most ambitious clean-energy projects, Desertec, the instability in North Africa behind the price increases signals a less certain outlook.

Desertec aims to tap the vast solar and wind resources across the deserts of the Middle East and North Africa and, over coming decades, deliver as much as 15 percent of the electricity needed by the European Union through high-voltage transmission lines to be laid under the Mediterranean Sea.

Top Wind Power Companies To Participate In African Utility Week

NAIROBI (BERNAMA-NNN-KBC) -- Three of the five top wind power companies in the world -- Goldwind, Suzlon and Vestas - will be among high-profile participants at the African Utility Week in what is clearly a huge surge in interest by foreign investors in green energy in South Africa and the continent.

America: Arab Dictators' Willing Hostage

The US has been tolerating many with the worst record on human rights, while at the same time allowing them to jeopardize the economic stability of the average American, who has to feel the pain at the gas pump, the local store, and the stock market. Such oil-driven economic blackmail has resulted in the America being held hostage to the policies and even the whims of Arab oil dictators.

Richard Heinberg: “I think 2011 is going to be an interesting year… in the Chinese sense…”

We’re seeing high prices now that are not just a result of extra Chinese demand but are a result of revolutions in Libya and potentially in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. If that continues, we could see oil prices going through the ceiling – we could see $150 again, even $200 and of course that would immediately cause the economy to crash and then we’d see how far oil prices would fall in that case. They might not fall as much this time if global oil supplies are really seriously constrained. Remember in 2008, there hadn’t been a decline in oil production that caused prices to fall – it was merely a fall in demand. This time we would see a fall in demand but it would be in the context of supply problems, which could be a different situation all together. It could be much worse.

America's churches can change the world

Despite the biblical command to give 10% of our income back to God (read "to charity"), for example, the average church member gives 3%.We complain about the record heat as our air conditioners run full blast and continue having as many children as we want — sometimes at the encouragement of our religious leaders — despite the impact on the environment. Our elected officials even give us tax breaks for crowding the planet.

When technological complexity comes home

As our technologies have gotten more complex and grown in size, the scale of the problems when failures occur have grown in step. Even when technological complexity works according to plan, the scale of ecological and environmental devastation can be unprecedented, as mountain-top removal in southern Appalachia, the tar sands of Alberta, and the vast dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico remind us daily. It is no coincidence that the destruction of species and ecosystems has reached an epochal level at the same time.

Kunstler: Rock Me on the Water

At the moment, the oil markets don't know what to do. Some loose talk says that Japan will not need oil for a while, due to a wrecked economy. I dunno about that, with the reactors melting and twelve million people without electric power there. Let's remember, they are not the only people in the world who buy oil. In fact, everybody but a few savages in some tiny backwaters of the rain forest use oil - and even the savages do indirectly since they trade for things that come up the Amazon (and the rivers of Borneo) in boats with motors. (Not to put too fine a point on it.)

You Cooked What? I’ll Trade You Granola!

Food swapping is nothing new — ancient Babylonian homemakers probably traded olive oil for beans. In modern times, bartering has mostly been associated with poverty; think of the country doctor paid with eggs. But in certain precincts of Brooklyn, where artisanal food buffs have become as ubiquitous as artisanal beards, the lingering recession has combined with a do-it-yourself fervor to fuel any number of edible swaps.

Libya seeks Italy's help with fire at oil facility

Libya's de facto oil minister said Sunday the country's crude production has fallen "drastically" and that he has reached out to Italian oil giant Eni SpA for help in extinguishing a blaze at an eastern oil facility snatched back from rebel fighters.

The call for help by National Oil Co. head Shukri Ghanem demonstrated the country's dependence on foreign oil companies' expertise and the crippling impact of an exodus of that labor force as a result of the fighting in the OPEC member.

NOC calls back workers

Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) has called on employees to return to work at oil installations and is hopeful oil production can soon increase, the head of NOC Shokri Ghanem said today.

Rebels Lose Ground in Libya

Forces loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi pressed their offensive further into eastern Libya on Monday, as warplanes struck weapons depots in the rebel-held city of Ajdabiya and forces moved closer to the rebels' de facto capital city of Benghazi, which has been shaken by a string of mysterious explosions and armed robberies.

Libya opposition to meet with Clinton in Paris today

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will continue on to Egypt and Tunisia in her first trip to address the Arab revolutions. But the window for foreign assistance to Libya is quickly closing.

Unrest in Libya hurt Russian economic diversification, analysts say

Efforts of Russia, one of the world's largest crude producers, to increase the share of its non-energy economy has been nipped in the bud by higher oil prices following the unrest in Libya, a significant oil supplier to the international market, analysts say.

Bahrain lawmakers ask king to impose martial law

MANAMA, Bahrain — Pro-government lawmakers urged Bahrain's king on Monday to impose martial law to put an end to a month of unrest that has left the Gulf nation sharply divided between minority Sunni Muslims backing the ruling system and Shiites demanding sweeping changes.

Gulf markets surge after aid to Bahrain, Oman

Stock markets across the Persian Gulf are up sharply after the oil-rich region agreed to aid Bahrain and Oman and major protests did not materialize in regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia.

Oil below $99 as Japan disaster stuns economy

SINGAPORE – Oil prices dropped below $99 a barrel Monday in Asia after a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan, likely denting demand for crude from the world's third-largest economy.

Refinery Margins Poised to Surge After Quake If History Is Guide

The profit from making gasoil in Asia surged to the highest in 2 ½ years and fuel oil’s loss narrowed the most in a month after Japan’s biggest earthquake knocked out power plants and refineries.

Russia, Japan May Join Global Race for U.S. Oil and Gas Assets

Japanese, South Korean and Russian companies will likely jockey for stakes in difficult-to-tap U.S. reservoirs, joining cash-rich Reliance Industries Ltd., China Petrochemical Corp., and Cnooc Ltd., which may expand their acquisitions from last year, according to bankers, lawyers and company executives interviewed during CERAWeek, a Houston conference sponsored by IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates. Transactions won’t be limited to North America.

Fixed Income Knows Best?

Time to start thinking about higher oil prices. Whether you believe in peak oil or not, or whether the Saudis are truthful about their supply capacity, fact is the world has been confronted with uproar and social unrest in major oil producing countries and this is likely going to leave a long-lasting mark. David Rolley, vice president and investment strategist at fixed income specialist Loomis Sayles, believes the market will now permanently price in a "risk premium" of US$15-20 per barrel into the price of crude oil. This will have immediate effect, leading Rolley to make the prediction that consumer spending data in the US are likely to surprise to the downside in the months ahead.

Spike in oil prices to usher in next recession?

Saxena says he is inclined to think that crude oil prices could go lower due to easing in Middle East tensions, however, he finds that the reality is far different. Over the longer-term, he sees the price of oil going significantly higher, high enough to bring in the next recession. “Last time when we had the bull market in crude oil in 2008, the price peaked out at USD 147 a bbl and if our work is correct then we think that the price may actually go passed that level in this particular business cycle.”

Future shocks in store

Through his NBER working paper 16790 titled ‘Historic Oil Shocks' (http://www.nber.org/papers/w16790.pdf), author Mr James Hamilton has sifted through 150 years of oil supply and price data and how they relate to recessions in the business cycles. The author's basic assertion that oil shocks, or violent spikes in the price of oil, are among the major contributing causes to the slowdown in the business cycle, is backed up by empirical evidence dating back to the 1970s.

The author's major observation is that ‘‘insofar as events such as the Suez Crisis and first Persian Gulf War were not caused by US business cycle dynamics, a correlation between these events and subsequent economic downturns should be viewed as causal''.

Royal Dutch Shell: Brunei Shell Announces Important Oil Discovery LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA.LN), said Monday that Brunei Shell Petroleum or BSP has announced a significant new oil discovery in the coastal waters of the south-east Asian sultanate.

ONGC Said to Lose Bid for Exxon’s Stake in Angolan Oil Field

Oil & Natural Gas Corp., India’s biggest energy explorer, lost a bid to buy Exxon Mobil Corp.’s 25 percent stake in an Angolan oil field, said two people with knowledge of the matter.

Egyptian gas resumption remains in doubt

Notwithstanding yesterday's announcement by Ampal-American Israel Corporation that East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG) will resume natural gas deliveries to Israel today, sources inform ''Globes'' that deliveries have not yet resumed. Ampal, which owns 12.5% of EMG, had previously announced three postponements in the resumption of gas deliveries.

Canada: The federal election and its parallel universe

But the other universe is virtually invisible despite the fact that it is very real and well known. That parallel road that no one in authority wants to acknowledge is one which is taking us over a cliff. That universe tells us that we are rapidly reaching the planet's limits to growth, that we are well past the start of a global fresh water crisis, that we have already reached peak oil, that climate change will have ever-increasing planet-changing impacts and that rapidly rising food prices will lead to mass starvation in the developing world.

Learsy: President Obama Gets It Wrong On the Price of Oil and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve

With inventories bulging and with the Saudis pumping away, the current egregiously high price of oil at some $100 a barrel for West Texas Intermediate Crude (WTI), costing the nation's economy hundreds of billions, can hardly be attributed to rote supply and demand. Were that the case Mr. Obama's decision to let the SPR be untapped would be defendable.

Homefront (video game)

Homefront: set in a near-future, post peak oil world that features a significantly declined United States, and a united Korea that has built a massive alliance in East Asia. The Gate Corporation (a major private military company) also plays a minor role. The game focuses on the collapse of the United States, subsequent occupation by the Greater Korean Republic – a united Korea under the rule of North Korea – and the American Resistance that fights said occupation.

How we can save environmentalism—and ourselves

If you are going to frighten people, you better have a very easy-to-understand and clear set of ideas about how to get out of danger. Humans seem to operate at a high level exactly when they are in danger and there is a clear way out -- probably the result of the evolutionary need to do things like escape from lions. But when only fear is used to push your cause, all kinds of unfortunate stresses on the system result, often backfiring and leading to the rise of right-wing political moments. It's the remedies that have been in short supply so far.

Twenty Five Years Later...

On Wednesday I turn 25. That is like 1/3 of my total life expectancy. Since I’m not feeling very inspired today (I’m missing that lost hour) I’m going to talk about where the world might be in 25 years.

1) Oil is Still King

Being the adaptable people we are, many Americans have adjusted their lifestyles to the rising costs of oil, and ever increasing fuel standards have forced many people into cramped econocars that deliver upwards of 100 mpg. Most people only refill their vehicles once or twice a month at about $25 a gallon as swelling car usage in India and China has put a premium price on petrol. Peak oil has come and gone, and nobody really noticed.

Ethanol revival renews debate on environment, food supply

LOS ANGELES -- Corn-based ethanol is the renewable fuel environmentalists love to hate. But as turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa has sent oil prices soaring, U.S.-made ethanol is making a comeback.

Plants mothballed during the economic downturn are reopening. Domestic ethanol production hit record levels last year, topping 13.2 billion gallons, according to the Renewable Fuels Association in Washington. Oil companies, including Valero Energy Corp., Sunoco Inc. and Marathon Oil Corp., that snapped up facilities when the industry hit a rough patch a few years ago are looking to expand.

Green Development? Not in My (Liberal) Backyard

Park Slope, Brooklyn. Cape Cod, Mass. Berkeley, Calif. Three famously progressive places, right? The yin to the Tea Party yang. But just try putting a bike lane or some wind turbines in their lines of sight. And the karma can get very different.

Qatar pays $2.8 billion for Spanish power stake

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- An arm of Qatar's sovereign wealth fund agreed Monday to buy more than 6 percent of Spanish power utility Iberdrola SA for just over 2 billion euros, strengthening the gas-rich Gulf nation's financial ties to Europe.

Give Up Familiar Light Bulb? Not Without Fight, Some Say

WASHINGTON — American protests against the encroachment of government have been spurred by many causes — tea, of course, and guns, frequently. The latest catalyst: light bulbs.

Saudi’s Soaring Construction Industry Could Negate Costly Water Investments

Saudi Arabia is investing huge sums to diversify its water supply, while at the same time fanning a booming construction industry. Will the latter negate the former?

China to help Iran build world’s tallest dam

TEHRAN - China signed a $2 billion contract with Iran to build the world’s tallest dam in the Islamic state, the Iranian energy minister was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency on Monday.

“One of the major events in the water sector of the country is to sign the finance contract with China for execution of Bakhtiari dam. This is the world’s tallest dam,” Majid Namjoo told IRNA.

Solar storm threat returning

Researchers expect a major solar event to trigger widespread power cuts that could cause "disruption of the transportation, communication, banking and finance systems, and government services; the breakdown of the distribution of potable water owing to pump failure; and the loss of perishable foods and medications because of lack of refrigeration".

That is even without reckoning with the direct effects of solar flares on communications and navigation satellites.

‘What are we going to eat?’ is not a simple question

Karen Burson, manager of Hamilton Eat Local, agrees that the idea of eating local is a complicated answer to a complicated question. For example, people who have “come from away” are used to eating foods that aren’t even grown locally. If plantain is a regular part of your diet, do you just give that up or is it OK to buy imported food that has previously been your sustenance?

Burson says peak oil issues will eventually make imported food so expensive that it will be important for people from newcomer communities to learn to substitute ingredients. She notes her own parents found it a luxury to be able to buy Jamaican ingredients and had to learn to look for alternatives.

Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth

To be honest, I was not looking forward to this book. Having tracked climate change journalistically for nearly 20 years myself, I felt burned out on the subject. It seemed as intractable as “the Middle East peace process” or “campaign finance reform” – issues more battered than helped by politics.

But I came away thinking and feeling differently – not only renewedly interested in what humankind is doing to Earth’s climate, but also actually somewhat more hopeful.

In U.S., Concerns About Global Warming Stable at Lower Levels

PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans continue to express less concern about global warming than they have in the past, with 51% saying they worry a great deal or fair amount about the problem -- although attitudes appear to have stabilized compared with last year. That current level of worry compares with 66% just three years ago, and is only one percentage point higher than the low Gallup measured in 1997.

Why India Might Save the Planet

Jairam Ramesh is the global rock star of climate change. But is the battle he’s fighting at home good for his country?

Pell row with climate scientist heats up

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL has rebuffed the head of the Bureau of Meteorology, who had said Australia's highest-ranking Catholic was ''misled'' in his views on global warming.

More hard winters likely: report

Climate change will likely bring more snowstorms to P.E.I. over the next few decades, says a new report by the insurance industry.

The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction report says while winters will be milder over the next 40 years, snow levels will probably climb 10 to 20 per cent. The number of intense winter storms is expected to go up by 15 per cent.

Arctic for All?

Climate change in the Arctic is a catastrophe waiting to happen. This 20 million square kilometre area of land and sea that stretches around the geographic North Pole is warming twice as fast as the global average. The complexity of the impacts on global climate, rising sea levels and ocean currents are still barely foreseeable. Yet not everyone views an ice-free future with concern: sea lanes are opening up in the Arctic Ocean that could change trading routes in the future. New options are arising for fishing. Improved navigability facilitates the extraction of resources such as oil, gas and minerals. US geologists estimate that roughly one quarter of global fossil fuel reserves could be located at the North Pole. The strategic importance of the Arctic is therefore increasing for many countries.

Will rising seas put cities such as New York and London under water?

If emissions continue to rise and ice sheets enter an unstoppable melting cycle, many of the world's cities will be at risk.

I'll be putting up another Fukushima thread later today. I'm not going to ban discussion of the issue in the regular Drumbeat, but I do ask that you try to keep the Japan nuclear discussion in the Fukushima threads, to give people who want to talk about other things some breathing room.

Something else that might blow up and need its own thread?


TOKYO, March 14 (Reuters) - Japan's Sendai Gas said on Monday it was unable to reach the tsunami-hit Shinminato liquefied natural gas terminal near the port of Sendai in the country's northeast, but the terminal appeared undamaged from a distance.

"We've been unable to reach the terminal because there was a tsunami warning again today," an official at Sendai City Government's gas department said.

The terminal did not catch fire after the strong quake on Friday, but was flooded by seawater after a series of tsunamis, the official said. (Reporting by Risa Maeda in TOKYO, Writing by Rebekah Kebede, editing by Anthony Barker)

Back to Peak Oil. Great video satire here, it's all about "Peak Trees" on Easter Island.

Peak Oil, Easter Island and the "New Island Order" Conspiracy (Video)

Ron P.

That's funny. The propensity to fall back on conspiracy theories always struck me as a form of denial.

I just ran across a couple Eco-Shock podcasts that touch on the "deep psychological causes of the denial." Two interviews, one with Thomas Homer-Dixon and the other with Paul Ehrlich:

Thomas Homer-Dixon: Wicked Problems & Solutions

Paul Ehrlich: Humanity on a Tightrope

Saudi Troops Reported in Bahrain to Quell Protests

CAIRO —Troops crossed from Saudi Arabia into Bahrain on Monday to help quell unrest there, according to news reports. Bahraini opposition groups issued an angry statement saying such a move would amount to foreign occupation.

An unnamed Saudi official told Agence France-Presse that more than 1,000 Saudi troops had crossed the bridge linking Saudi Arabia to the tiny island kingdom but there was no official confirmation from the Bahraini government. The Associated Press reported that a Saudi security official said the troops came from a special unit of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Guardian sez:

"GCC forces will arrive in Bahrain today to take part in maintaining law and order," the Gulf Daily News reported. "Their mission will be limited to protecting vital facilities, such as oil, electricity and water installations, and financial and banking facilities."

Only 40 kb/d production, but those provide 60% of revenue. Economy of Bahrain - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

They did arrive yesterday and today a State of Emergency and 3 month Martial law was just declared in Bahrain.
The nation's armed forces chief has been authorised to take all measures to "protect the safety of the country and its citizens", says the statement from the king.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said in Bahrain on Saturday "time is not our friend." Saudis are determined not to let any Shia rebellion fester next door lest Iran should gain a foothold. Bahrain, as base for the U.S. Fifth Fleet, is strategic territory.

All pressure will now be applied to prevent any further monkey-business in the Persian Gulf. The Carter doctrine trumps.

Norway has finally released their production numbers for January and February. Average production for the two months was down about 7.5 percent from the same two months last year.

Ron P.

Plus, dry wells in Barents sea:

Happily, Norway doesn't lie about their reserves or production, and Statoil is a first rank, top shelf oil company, so we don't need to hear the nonsense about 'if only a NOC didn't run this well, then Western oil companies could get production up again'.

Looks like the initial estimates of 2020 basically being the end of gas exports to Europe may pan out.

Also, in an unusual fit of sanity and long term thinking, Norway has also decided to NOT allow drilling off the Lofoten islands, one of the biggest cod fisheries in the world. Consider this a direct positive outcome from the BP blowout.

Let's see: insufficient gas, declining oil, depleting uranium ore quality (not to mention political returns to sanity re nuclear risks), declining coal quality+skyrocketing prices, looks like the chess game is winding down and checkmate is not that far off.

My belief remains, those countries and people's who start now, will do the best. Those that hide their heads in the sand, or fall to big business corruption, will do the worst. Norway is doing quite well in this game, I expect to see them on the other side of this story, unlike many other nations, who appear to be aiming at self-destruction. But at least we have iPads now, and Android powered tablet pcs.

Soon we'll be in a situation where reduction in consumption rates will not be a negotiable option as many comment authors here seem to be believe, but will be a hard-wired necessity. Notice that Japan was able to overnight drop its electrical consumption by 25% yesterday.

Remember, the only way out of a pit is to climb up out of it, it won't happen on its own.

Remember, the only way out of a pit is to climb up out of it, it won't happen on its own.

I see this often in posts, the idea that some sort of difficult yet achievable and reasonable transition is possible if only la de da da. Actually yes 'it will happen on its own' via collapse. Remember, the world population of 7 billion has occurred as a direct result of cheap abundant energy, mostly oil. Now its getting much more expensive, yet it will only get more expensive as demand from domestic consumption in exporting countries (ELM), increasing demand from growing economies in developed countries and at some point descent from a plateau of oil production occurs. As that happens, the need for oil will turn into a fight for economic survival, which will lead to wars. Like lions raking one another at mealtime after a long period of not eating, war and economic collpase will go hand in hand.

Once a paradigm like the oil age has achieved the population and complexity it now has, there is no conceivable way to make a reasonable transition for all 7 billion. It will become a slugfest and in the aftermath of a shattering collapse, some new paradigm of existence will become the norm. Previously operable modes of transport will become rest stops on the way to trying to convince some commune that you have skills valuable enough to warrant daily food and water rations.

Well said. You are probably right and it is more than difficult to contemplate. I suppose the question is the rate and timing.

"Once a paradigm like the oil age has achieved the population and complexity it now has, there is no conceivable way to make a reasonable transition for all 7 billion. It will become a slugfest and in the aftermath of a shattering collapse, some new paradigm of existence will become the norm"

And the norm for now is consumption to the point of absurdity, obesity; and depression affects so many as the attained lifestyle is 'hollow'.

I don't know if it will end as you have said, but surely a readjustment will involve wars and dislocation. Best hopes for a slow descent.


The next period of global war equivalent to WW I&II is likely to occur mid-21st Century. The exhaustion of fossil fuel resources and other resources will be a major driver of the conflict. Biological weapons will provide a means for radically increasing the casualty rates, compared with earlier episodes which only rose to 30% or so in combatant countries, e.g. Germany during the Thirty Years War. The combination of more effective weaponry and global extent should drop the global population well below current levels by 2100.


And the norm for now is consumption to the point of absurdity, obesity; and depression affects so many as the attained lifestyle is 'hollow'.

Well put Paulo. Production at full tilt to whatever the absurd consumption can afford to demand. In other words there is no effort taking place to dampen BAU. It's just go baby go without any consideration of what will happen as supplies rise in price and dwindle in quantity. Meanwhile like you say people are getting heavier (obesity) and taking all sorts of drugs to combat depression because they are isolated from communal social interaction. Soon enough they will no longer be able to zone in front of the boobtoob, pop pills and pack on fat.

Remember when Katrina happened and all those massive people were struggling to stay alive. They were breathing hard, sweating and probably a few beats away from a heart attack. That gluttony will soon be a thing of the past.

...dry wells in Barents sea

I think the days of supergiant oil discoveries like the North Sea and the Alaska North Slope are long gone. Oil companies are not completely stupid and have drilled the best areas first. In general the areas they haven't drilled will be much poorer prospects than the areas they have.

The real problem is than many people, notably in government and in the media, are in a state of denial and expect the inexorable decline to go away just as soon as we make another big oil discovery.

It's not going to happen, so we are just going to have to ride the decline curve down as the existing supergiant fields play out. Unlike many other people here I don't believe that is an insurmountable problem, it's just that people have to get their minds around it and plan to live on less oil in the future. Not planning for declining oil production is planning to have a series of oil crises on the way down.

The above is based on 35 or so years experience in the oil industry. Working in it you become acutely aware of exactly how much oil is left to find, and what the alternatives to oil are.

The problem is that the engineers and technically aware people need more than someone's "intuition" about what is going on. From that perspective, having quantitative data and a cogent technical argument that will show the law of diminishing returns as evidence will go a long way to convince the skeptics. That is just the way it works, and even then it is difficult -- re: climate science.

The thin blue line is the latest yearly data for production in Norway. It fits tucked inside the red model curve. The discovery data and a model for discovery really drives these curves, which is the reality behind the intuition.

Apart from the recent data, this is described in The Oil ConunDrum.

Norwegian oil production will probably continue to follow the red line down. They are unlikely to find anything major in the Barents Sea, and they're already doing EOR on their existing fields, so it will just continue to be a classic oil production decline with nothing to modify the trend.

The thing about Norway, though, is that they are not particularly dependent on their own oil, except as a source of revenue. They tend to use hydroelectricity instead, and have very high taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel, not to mention cars (it costs twice as much to buy a Volvo car in Norway as the US).

They only consume about 200,000 bpd or about 10% of their oil production, and it will be a long, long time before their oil production falls below that level - off the end of your chart. They've already factor the revenue decline into their accounts and have about $600 billion invested in other countries against the time the oil will run out.

However, people who are counting on Norway to continue to export 2 or 3 million bpd (i.e. nobody in Norway) are in for an unpleasant surprise. They will have to find their oil imports somewhere else.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the 5 top importers of Norwegian oil in 2009 were Sweden (41 percent), Denmark (21 percent), the United Kingdom (12 percent), Ireland (9 percent), and the Netherlands (6 percent).

People in those countries take note.

Denmark (21 percent),

In 2009, the last year that the EIA has reports of exports and imports, Denmark imported 71,000 bp/d and exported 173,000 bp/d for a net export figure of 102,000 barrels per day. So Denmark is a net oil exporter. But their exports are dropping fast. In 2005 Denmark's net crude exports were 220,000 bp/d.

Ron P.

However, people who are counting on Norway to continue to export 2 or 3 million bpd (i.e. nobody in Norway) are in for an unpleasant surprise. They will have to find their oil imports somewhere else.

If it isn't Norway exporting the oil, it'll be someone else. World access to Norway's oil is non-negotiable.

This oil is my oil, this oil is your oil,
from the north pole, to the south pole,
this oil was made for you and me.

If it isn't Norway exporting the oil, it'll be someone else. World access to Norway's oil is non-negotiable.

What's your point? If they don't have the oil, of course it's non-negotiable - You can't have it regardless of whether you want it or not because it doesn't exist.

What I meant was that if the Gov't of Norway won't export, then the Gov't will be forced to change their mind or person, freeing up the Oil (that still exists).

... freeing up the Oil (that still exists).

The oil is not locked up by the government, it's just not there in the ground. They have a fixed amount of oil left and they are producing it as fast as reasonably practical. Once it's gone, it's gone and there is no more. That's the basis of the typical oil field decline curve, which we are seeing in all the major oil provinces of the world.

That's my experience from 35 years in the oil industry - once the oil is gone, it's gone, and there is no more.

Indonesia’s Crude Oil Production Plummets

Indonesia’s crude oil production has plummeted. The average production until this March was 906,732 barrels per day. Yet, the production target set in the 2011 budget was 970,000 barrels.

I am always amused by the reasons given in these articles. Here, they mention contract uncertainty, weather, and outdated equipment. Yet all you need to do is look at the historical path of Indonesian production, and this seems quite expected.

I do love the phrase used at the end of the article, "If we hope from old wells, it will be hard to achieve the 970,000 barrels target". If I were to write a book on oil depletion, I would consider titling it "Hoping from Old Wells".

all you need to do is look at the historical path of Indonesian production

Don't forget about consumption! From the Energy Export databrowser:

Well I can give another reason: Some years back I spent time at a number of locations in Indonesia. Indonesia requires all non-management personnel to be local. The number of red tagged oilfield equipment at these locations was over whelming. At the same time a location in Singapore, all equipment was green tagged and ready to roll.

This is interesting.

"This year's production is much lower than that of the same period last year," said downstream oil and gas regulatory agency's (BPH Migas) spokesperson, Elan Biantoro, in Jakarta last weekend. Crude oil production in the first quarter of last year was 930,000 barrels per day.

The EIA's Short-Term Energy Outlook Table 3b predicts that Indonesia, in the first quarter of 2011 will produce an average of 1.03 mb/d all liquids or about 1 percent higher than last year's production of 1.02 mb/d for the first quarter. Instead their production was about 2.5 percent lower than last year's first quarter production... so far anyway. And they have Indonesia's all liquids production holding at 1.03 mb/d for all of 2011 and 2012. The EIA does not expect any decline in their production whatsoever.

So the EIA's prediction, so far, is about 3.5 percent too high for Indonesia. I wonder how far off they will be fro the rest of non-OPEC production?

Ron P.

above: Solar storm threat returning

"The sun is waking up from a deep slumber, and in the next few years we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity," says Dr Richard Fisher, the head of heliophysics at the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration. "At the same time, our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms."

I didn't select this one post because of its doomer implications; it could happen, maybe not.... It goes to our global societys' increasing vulnerabilities to these things. One commentor on TV this morning was discussing how, not only are many seismically active areas overdue for the 'big one', but that they will be much worse than in the past because of dramatically increased populations in these same areas and these populations' utter reliance on complex infrastructure. It goes to societys' global inter-reliance on capital and physical resources moving in and out of affected areas; it goes to how brittle these complex systems have become, and it goes to shear numbers of people.

100 years ago, Europeans likely wouldn't give a civil war in Libya much thought, most likey wouldn't have known or cared about unrest in the middle east.

~150 years ago the largest solar storm in recorded history meant slower communications for some, interupting a few stock sales for a few. Most folks never noticed, I expect.

100 years ago this disaster in Japan would have been, mainly, a Japanese problem.

Food shortages were generally local. Black swan events were local, as were most things. The scale of these things hasn't changed; the scale of humanity and its collective exposure has.

Population is, of course, the primary issue here. The planet, in time, will purge itself of our abuse as it purges itself of us. I only wish that so many weren't so eager to assist.

Funny how the more one reduces one's participation in this madness, the clearer it becomes :-/

I was reading somewhere how excited people were that the "new building standards" helped reduce the destruction from earthquakes in Japan.

A hundred years ago, and before, the Japanese knew about earthquakes and tsunamis, and built collapsible, bamboo frame houses that could easily be rebuilt. Houses were fragile for a reason. If a wall fell on you, likely you would survive. Until "modern" European building practices were introduced.

Complexity has a way of feeding on itself.

You think you'd have been safe in a bamboo house hit by a 10 metre tsunami? I don't think so.

Certainly no worse off than in a collapsed concrete structure...

But much better off if on the higher floors of an uncollapsed concrete structure. In many towns all the wooden residential buildings have been washed away with only large concrete structures such as hospitals standing in the middle of the devastation.

Perhaps, as we get to grips with a world without fossil fuels, and we are no longer able to build enormous concrete structures, we will recall why people used the "old" methods.

There is a reason why many Eastern philosophies were non-materialistic - especially Buddhism, which teaches non-materialism and impermanence.

About 30,000 people were killed in Japan by the tsunami of 1896.

30,000 killed in 1896, world pouplation: ~1 billion.

230,000+ killed in 2004, Indian Ocean. World population: ~6.8 billion.

Not sure what your point was.

Spring_tides was claiming that there would have been less deaths had they not used concrete buildings and stuck to historical designs.

There was an even larger tsunami about a thousand years ago which may have killed even more people.

My comment wasn't related specifically to number of deaths - just commentary about how people respond in a less complex society.

You can expend a whole lot of energy in trying to prevent a building from collapsing, or you can roll with the punch, so to speak, and just design the building to collapse safely and be easily rebuilt.

One might ask why large structures are built on fault lines at all.

Ok, but you did say

If a wall fell on you, likely you would survive. Until "modern" European building practices were introduced.

You are correct - I did say that. Tsunamis notwithstanding, where the only real response is to head for higher ground, if such exists, and if there is time, it seems like Haiti suffered a lot from people trapped in collapsed buldings.

My original post wasn't meant to imply that there are no benefits to complex systems. Building codes/more earthquake resistant construction, tsunami warning systems, preparedness; all clearly save many lives.

What are the tradeoffs for humanity in general, long term. Perhaps there are other benefits, derived from fatalism and living day to day. As jokuhl alludes to below, is your soul prepared? I submit that current societies, especially in the west, are as fragile spiritually as they are physically. We have supplanted personal, spiritual energy with external sources, acceptance with expectations. The price is high, though natural reality is bound to jerk us back, reintroduce us to our humility.

"Doctor Jones, My soul is prepared to die.. how's yours?" - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

It's the debris that's the real killer in a tsunami. Assuming you can swim, anyway. Some debris is natural - uprooted trees and such - but a lot of it is manmade. Look at all those cars floating around in the tsunami videos. Wouldn't want to be hit by one of them.

Did you notice the high percentage of those cars that were white?

I'm sure they reached Peak Bamboo long ago. I planted another patch this spring. Useful stuff, and unlike concrete, it floats.

I planted my first bamboo last week. Hoping for late afternoon evening shade by summer. I hope they don't get too tall and shade the PV. Can one bend a stalk and cut the top off to control its height? I only have ladders capabable of reaching 10-12 feet up.

There is no problem pruning most bamboo. In fact, banboo is often trimmed like hedges.

Bamboo houses certainly would withstand an earthquake better than masonry; withstanding a tsunami is another story. Bamboo's ability to flex and rebound is well known. Masonry buildings have increasingly relied on steel rebar for rigidity. Modern skyscrapers (steel framed) in seismic zones have adapted, with built in flexibility and upper floor vibration dampers.

The other piece of this is that traditional societies usually didn't have much and thus didn't have much to replace. Materials were usually low tech and locally available. Building skills were local too.

I recall somewhere that during WW2 a lot of Japanese houses were still made of the traditional flimsy materials but a lot of people died because the flimsy houses had clay roofs that collapsed on the inhabitants.

Traditional Japanese house designs performed very poorly in earthquakes - the combination of heavy tile roofs and flimsy wall construction meant that they were highly prone to collapse, burying the occupants.

By contrast, North American low-rise homes are very safe places in an earthquake, compared to the traditional construction in a lot of earthquake-prone countries. The light weight and high energy absorbing capabilities of wood framing combined with lightweight roofs make them capable of surviving a powerful earthquake with minimal damage.

The Japanese started developing an interest in North American house designs after they noticed that after a big earthquake, most of the Japanese-designed houses collapsed and few of the North American-designed ones did. The photos of these were quite striking, showing small clusters of ranch-style houses surrounded by piles of rubble.

One reason for the low death toll in the 1964 earthquake in Alaska (magnitude 9.2, the second biggest earthquake ever recorded in the world) was that it was a holiday and most people were at home in their low-rise wooden houses when the earthquake hit. There were only 131 people killed in the earthquake, including 16 in California and Oregon. It also caused the second-biggest tsunami ever recorded - which is what killed the 16 people in California and Oregon. Only 21 people were killed by the tsunami in Alaska, but Alaskans don't spend much time at the beach in March.

Only 21 people were killed by the tsunami in Alaska, but Alaskans don't spend much time at the beach in March.

Much of Valdez was destroyed by the tsunami. How did they get by with so few fatalities? Did they head for the hills in time? Or was the population at low elevation simply small enough?

Well, the population in Alaska was low, but it was March, and it was Alaska. How many people do you think would be down by the beach, enjoying the sunshine and warm sand. NONE, right? They would be at home putting more logs on the fire. In California it might be completely different.

Valdez Alaska - the 1964 earthquake

On Good Friday, March 27, 1964, the largest earthquake ever to hit North America struck Alaska. It was the second largest earthquake ever recorded, second only to Chile in 1960, which experienced a quake of 9.5 Moment Magnitude (Mw). The epicenter of this awesome quake was a mere 45 miles west of Valdez

1964 Alaska earthquake

Port Valdez suffered a massive underwater landslide, resulting in the deaths of 30 people between the collapse of the Valdez city harbor and docks, and inside the ship that was docked there at the time. Nearby, a 27-foot (8.2 m) tsunami destroyed the village of Chenega, killing 23 of the 68 people who lived there; survivors out-ran the wave, climbing to high ground.

Yes, and not just way back when. I recall discussing this at some length on a visit a while back, after asking out loud how they could be so short of land as be growing rice on small traffic islands, and yet could spare land for a roughly 40-foot median on an expressway in crowded Chiba-Ken. It just didn't make any obvious sense.

I was told that the highway was part of a firebreak system intended to prevent widespread fires from joining up into firestorms (as in 1923) following the next 8+ earthquake right under metro Tokyo. The heavy tile roofs would collapse the traditional houses. The natural-gas supply would then set the rubble on fire (note the considerable quantities of wood seen in the current pictures.) The fire departments would be too overwhelmed to put out the fires even if the water supply held. (The small size of the fire departments would only exacerbate the problem. They didn't need big ones, as the fire rate was a single-digit percentage of the rate in the USA despite all the wood and bamboo. It seems that insurance was limited by law to 85% of value to guarantee that building and home owners had some skin in the game - remarkable how effective that was.)

Funny how the more one reduces one's participation in this madness, the clearer it becomes :-/

Yes... I did notice that, too. It's just practical application of (here often mentioned) Upton Sinclair's Law: "When a man's paycheck depends on his not understanding something, you can depend upon his not understanding it." We simply cannot understand how insane things are while we are mesmerized/hypnotized by them. :-/
It's like biting the hand that feeds us. You normally don't do that... :P

WRT solar storms, not all of the flares/CME are directed our way. Sometimes we just get lucky. Then again, sometimes we don't. It's really just a question of time when we'll get teh big one. I was considering to make some good faraday cage to shield my notebook against such a flare, but it wouldn't help much, especially, if all the more important equipment - like power transformers and Internet routers - were toast, now would it...? :-S

So yes, I agree, black swans were flying around 100 years ago, too, but there were so much less people in the harm's way back then. :-/

Ghung: That is an interesting observation. I think the real difference is the definition of "local."

And, it takes ever increasing complexity to keep the whole world, "local." In this way, anything that disturbs that level of complexity destroys locality, and becomes catastrophic. When the local economy means JIT delivery of food from 2,500 miles away, coal from 3,500 miles, and oil from 5,000, and when that JIT system relies on complex logistical formulae, depending in large part on immediate and constant communications, well... the danger that a solar storm would create havoc is high.

Given a solar storm of the magnitude that was experienced in 1859, the implications are grim.

But of course, we are urged to be silent about the possibility. There seems that little could be done about it, other than to reduce our footprint, and return to truly 'local' systems and subsystems. Since that is impossible, then we just 'pray' and hope it won't happen, just as the Japanese prayed there would be no huge earthquake, and if there was that there would be no tsunamil. Since they obviously prayed to the wrong God, their prayer was not answered. We pray to the correct God, and of course all is fine and dandy, in this, the best of all possible worlds.


Bank of America Unit Tried to Hide Foreclosure Information, Hackers Say

A hacker organization known as Anonymous released a series of e-mails on Monday provided by a former Bank of America employee who claims they show how a division of the bank sought to hide information on foreclosures. ...The e-mail messages concern the removal of information linking loans to other documentation.

Insurers, Reinsurers Face Heavy Losses From Japan Quake

As the total ramifications of the event continue to unfold, it is already clear that the earthquake will have implications beyond the country's borders, the agency said.

"A meaningful portion of losses will flow to the global reinsurance industry [including various Lloyd's syndicates], as catastrophe reinsurance covering Japanese earthquakes is a large market," the Moody's report said.

Fitch expects insured losses will end up ranking among the largest in history, although they will be significantly lower than economic losses.

Friends and Scholars,

This is a quite a bit off topic, but I was wondering if anyone may share some insight. While using Google Earth, I was recently using settings to sight see shipwreck data. While looking at the Ocean contours off the coast of North Carolina, I observed some rather bizarre features.

Setting an eye height of about 50 miles, and looking south east of Cape Lookout, in a box roughly bounded by 34 34 50 N, 76 21 19 W as a north west corner of a box, and then 34 11 10 N, 75 43 45 W as the south east corner there appear to be geometric shapes defined by the bathymetric readings for the bottom. This is still on the continental shelf at a water depth of 300' to 400'.

I am at a complete loss as to why there would be such a pattern. One thought is that this is some form of artifact from surveying data of the bottom, but I have not seen any indications of this type of pattern elsewhere. Does anyone have any ideas?

I apologize for this being off topic, but The Oil Drum represents the brightest readership that I know of and thought with the vast experience and understanding, someone may have a possible explanation.



Google Earth's 'Atlantis' Just A Data Glitch -- Google Earth -- InformationWeek

The addition of sea-floor topography to Google Earth earlier this month revealed what some claim could be the lost city of Atlantis.
But Google says the undersea grid lines spotted by aeronautical engineer Bernie Bamford while browsing Google Earth's ocean maps are data artifacts rather than sunken streets.

"[W]hat users are seeing is an artifact of the data collection process," a Google spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement. "Bathymetric (or sea-floor terrain) data is often collected from boats using sonar to take measurements of the sea floor. The lines reflect the path of the boat as it gathers the data. The fact that there are blank spots between each of these lines is a sign of how little we really know about the world's oceans."

Sound like what you're seeing? It's not surprising a system like this would produce artifacts of one kind or another.


I worked at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Lab for a dozen years and have seen this type of artefact before. I assume this is what you're asking about:

All high resolution seafloor maps are the result of many separate surveys and include data collected with several different techniques (see the Wikipedia article on bathymetry). A lot of interpolation, smoothing and fitting is used to merge all these data. The regular "pimples" you see on the seafloor are usually not mini sea-mounts. They are more often artefacts of the analysis required to merge data (e.g. spline fitting).

The big hints that what you are seeing is an artefact of data collection/data processing are:

  1. lines oriented perpendicular or parallel to the coast (typical coastal survey lines)
  2. lines with latitude/longitude orientation (typical open ocean survey lines)
  3. parallel lines of regular "pimples" (typical artefact of spatial data fitting)

Sorry if you were hoping to have discovered evidence of Atlantis or aliens. ;-)


Speaking of which: Has the real lost city of Atlantis finally been found... buried under mud flats in Spain? | Mail Online

Professor Richard Freund of the University of Hartford, Connecticut, who led the international team, said: 'This is the power of tsunamis.
'It is just so hard to understand that it can wipe out 60 miles inland, and that's pretty much what we're talking about.'
The team used a satellite photo of a suspected submerged city to find the site then surveyed it with a combination of deep-ground radar, digital mapping, and underwater technology.
Buried in the vast marshlands of the Dona Ana Park they found a strange series of 'memorial cities,' built in Atlantis' image by the refugees who fled the destructive tsunami.


Thanks for the feedback. I suspected that this was not a natural phenomenon, and you have confirmed this. The lines appear along the edge of the continental shelf, appear to be straight running north-east, parallel and some 90 degree angles. The looked like lines formed as trenches of deeper depth which does not make sense. Had these been alien landing stripes or the ruins of Atlantis, I figured that the "trenches" would have filled in long ago with the coastal deposition occurring there. The picture is exactly what I was seeing.

Computer Artifacts explain this perfectly and the articles KLR mentions also shows other examples of these types of artifact.

Again, thanks for sharing and the quick responses.



Jon, TIFF images do not bode well with web browsers, so I took the liberty to convert your picture to jpeg. O:-)

Here it is:

I found this interesting. It may be old hat for a lot of you, but it's been an eye-opener for me. Warning: it's very loooooong, but a worthwhile read:


Edit: Site seems down at the moment, but here's a cached copy.

in 1991, J. Aron—the Goldman subsidiary—wrote to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the government agency overseeing this market) and asked for one measly exception to the rules.

The whole definition of physical hedgers was needlessly restrictive, J. Aron argued. Sure, a corn farmer who bought futures contracts to hedge the risk of a glut in corn prices had a legitimate reason to be hedging his bets. After all, being a farmer was risky! Anything could happen to a farmer, what with nature being involved and all!

Everyone who grew any kind of crop was taking a risk, and it was only right and natural that the government should allow these good people to buy futures contracts to offset that risk.

But what about people on Wall Street? Were not they, too, like farmers, in the sense that they were taking a risk, exposing themselves to the whims of economic nature? After all, a speculator who bought up corn also had risk—investment risk. So, Goldman’s subsidiary argued, why not allow the poor speculator to escape those cruel position limits and be allowed to make transactions in unlimited amounts? Why even call him a speculator at all? Couldn’t J. Aron call itself a physical hedger too? After all, it was taking real risk—just like a farmer!

On October 18, 1991, the CFTC-in the person of Laurie Ferber, an appointee of the first President Bush—agreed with J. Aron’s letter. Ferber wrote that she understood that Aron was asking that its speculative activity be recognized as “bona fide hedging”—and, after a lot of jargon and legalese, she accepted that argument. This was the beginning of the end for position limits and for the proper balance between physical hedgers and speculators in the energy markets.

In the years that followed, the CFTC would quietly issue sixteen similar letters to other companies. Now speculators were free to take over the commodities market. By 2008, fully 80 percent of the activity on the commodity exchanges was speculative, according to one congressional staffer who studied the numbers—”and that’s being conservative,” he said.

Of course he's a bit a of a supply/demand sceptic, although he does say it's a factor. I've already written to him to say that the graphs at the bottom are misleading - i.e. should show global production/consumption, not US, but it does still provide a fascinating economic point of view to the situation and I find it incredible that this goes on and that they get away with it - even after everything went belly-up in 2008!

My sister had a charcoal drawing made of my parents and their dog for my dad's 70th birthday. I picked up the drawing at the home of the local artist who drew it. The artist lived in a geothermal house that was built into the side of a hill. We had an interesting conversation about his home and energy in general.

During the conversation I had brought up peak oil. His first response was to ask if I had seen the documentary "Who killed the electric car". I said no I had not seen it, and he went on to tell me a little about the documentary. It sounded interesting so I watched it on Saturday kinda of expecting to be able to quickly tear apart the arguments I thought the documentary would make. Instead, the documentary left me more confused than I have been in a while.

If you have not seen the documentary, it is about the GM ev 1 all electric cars made in the late 90's. The way the documentary tells the general story is that the gm ev 1 was well liked by its owners (who could only lease the car)and that at the end of the lease the owners were not allowed to buy the car and all of the returned cars were crushed. The people who worked in the GM ev1 department and were excited about the electric car couldn't understand why a product that their customers wanted was being held back from them... Lots more in the documentary but thats the general story.

I just wanted to see who here has seen the documentary and hear any comments you might have about it.

I haven't seen it, but have heard much about it, similar to your report, so haven't thought I'd find any surprises in the message.. Still feel I should put the time in.. when possible.

I've heard of folks with homebuilds and conversions who have had battery troubles, no surprise.. but generally I have only heard from those who have and REALLY like their EV's.

For a few testimonials, try www.evnut.com .. I have linked this particular one a number of times, http://www.evnut.com/rav_owner_gallery.htm .. as I'm curious about people's experience with Nimh batts, that seem to have held up well for these Rav4EV's, and which as legend holds, is a patent now held by Chevron. They still weigh more than Lithiums, but are lighter than lead acid, and as I said before.. THEY WORK, and they seem to LAST.. and this in a body that hardly seems optimized much for what EV's could and should be, small, light, aerodynamic.


Thanks for the comments Bob, I'll check out the sites you listed.

Sorry, no source, but iirc someone claimed that GM was worried that there was some chance of explosion under certain circumstances so recalled all the cars. No idea if this has any basis in fact, but it is one theory, at least.

Like all cars, EVs are toys. They are fun, but have limits. I bought one (a Zenn) a few years ago, but now I think I'll sell it. I was hoping my wife would like it enough to give up ICE cars, but she hasn't. So mostly it has just tempted me to take it to places I otherwise would have biked or walked to. I gained ten pounds. (Luckily for my waist, it does not run very well in the cold, especially as it ages and especially as we have lots of snow this year--so I've been walking (and shivering) a lot more, and that's got my weight back under control.)

If you have to have a car but don't have to travel far and especially if you can plug in at your main destinations, I think EVs are a good idea (especially if you don't have really cold winters).

Knowledge about electricity and battery maintenance is a plus too, but not life threatening if you don't have it, as long as you're cautious and don't do anything really stupid (same, of course, with ICE--probably more so).

I don't accept the 'Toys' label at all.. and part of that is, it's Not Nearly just CARS we're talking about.

For many, there would be far preferable ways to get to work and shops, but there is also a true need for transportation and carrying things. Getting food around, or building materials, or books, and so on.. and NOT limited to a purely BAU model at all.. these are real needs and cars and trucks are the TOOLS this is done with.

I find this quote tells me enough to see where the clear benefits of electrically driven vehicles stand well above that of today's ICE equipment, in terms of lower complexity, higher resilience, appropriateness of certain tools over others, accessibility for 'normal folks'..



Even if you are sure that you don't know anything about mechanical objects, you CAN do this conversion. Once you have the parts purchased and machined, it will take you a very short day at most to put this together. There are less nuts, bolts and parts to putting this together than there were with the porch-swing kit we just got from Home Depot. Now THAT was a job! Best of all, you'll never have to fiddle with tuning a gasoline engine again!

I've tried to write this as simply and clearly as possible using only plain english. That's partly because *I* don't know the tehcnical terms for mechanical parts either. When I built our first electric tractor, I had NO EXPERIENCE working with electric motors, and only limited exerience working on gasoline engines. That first tractor is well into it's third year now, and still working beautifully on a full-time basis, with NO tune-ups or adjustments necessary (unlike it's earlier gasoline incarnation!)

The tractor you'll be building from these instructions is even more bullet-proof and less-complicated to put together than our first machine. There are fewer machined parts, too, so if something DOES eventually break (we are farmers, after all) it should be even easier to order a bolt on, off-the-shelf replacement.

PS, at the head of the page, the author offers some annual updates.. to whit,

As of now (March 2010) a LOT of people have made these tractors (I think I can say "hundreds" now, though... really we're not counting. It was also great to see the AP News article on our tractor conversion in December 2009. I do not make any money from any part of the kit (and, no, I really don't want donations! It was fun to make it!) but... I have to admit that I have a hard time answering all the emails and especially phone calls with questions, so... please do keep questions to a minimum. ALL the information you need is on this website!

Hi-I consider/ed myself more doomer than technocopian from what I have learned here at TOD, but I would like to try an keep an open mind to tech improvements and other solutions to peak oil. Just wondering why you call ev's toy's? In the documentary and at the sites Bob mentioned it seemed like the owners of the ev's really believed in them. Is this mostly only because of the temperature problem that you encountered? I don't know anymore, the more I learn the more confused I feel about everything.

ps, Doughboi, are you in the twin cities and once posted under a different name?

There was a member who used to do carpentry and bike his stuff around Minn/StPaul, IIRC, but picked up a Zenn as his knees were getting worn out. I remember hearing that this vehicle had been a disappointment for him.

.. and I can't draw that name from my memory banks.
'Daisy daisy, give me an answer true...' Dave? Dave?

- Bob

( YMMV will be a term we probably get More and More connected to over the coming years.. no? )

I did see the documentary and I am a lifelong Angeleno (L.A.). I think I can provide some political context not touched upon in the movie.

In the later 1970’s the California was in a major transaction, moving away from manufacturing to a software based economy. The smog situation in Socal was the worst in the nation. During one hot summer the sky was purple with pollution and smog alerts were happening almost daily. At that time the (once and current) governor Jerry Brown was looking like a presidential contender and in the urban areas GM and Ford were having their lunch handed to them by Honda and Datsun.

The California air board was under intense pressure to address the problem. They eventually mandated a zero emission mandate for automobiles by the year 2000.

I think GM felt they could lobby the rule out of existence but they were very leery of the Japanese who would use their better manufacturing flexibility to overrun the California passenger market. That probably prompted them to hedge their bets and manufacture the EV1.

In Saturday morning's Los Angeles Times there was an article about early adopters of Leafs and Volts. It was largely a positive pieces, albeit fluffy. I rolled my eyes, however, when the author wrote that GM cancelled the EV1 program in 1999(?) due to "lack of interest". There was no mention of controversy, the aforementioned movie, or any other investigative work. I put the paper aside intending to cut out the article and all of the ads in that edition for GM products for a cynical bulletin board project....but then said "ehhh...what's the point?"

Anyway...I liked the movie. Some interesting thoughts and history.

Doomer: I watched the program, maybe one or two years ago? Not sure exactly, but it has been a while.

I don't recall being persuaded to abandon my view that GM, and the auto industry, did not want ev's for the single and simple reason that their dealers depend on the income stream from their service department for most of their profit, and ev's just don't need the kind of service that ICE vehicles do! Which is one reason the beta testers liked them.

I don't remember if that was the same program that interviewed the couple who had the patent on some sort of revolutionary battery technology. They sold it to GM or Ford, and it 'got lost' before it was implemented. Again, we can be skeptical about the facts in these documentary productions, or not, according to our propensity to cherry pick our own data. It is difficult to verify, and having only seen either once makes it more difficult.

So... doubt it or not, GM has, according to at least some reports, actively discouraged ev's in the past. The lasting memory was of the ev's all in storage as people tried to save them, to no avail.


HDPE as fuel for engines:
I've been playing with vaporizing High Density PolyEthylene and running an internal combustion engine directly on the fumes. A video was made and is on youtube. Since then, a further reduction in the chain-lengths
( H H H H H ...) was had by cooking the plastic hotter.
( H H H H H ...)

Gasoline is a chain of CH2 maybe 10 carbons long, Kerosene 14, diesel 17. Polyethylene is made from very long chains of CH2, or, more correctly, C2H4.

Rather then distill the HDPE into gasoline-like, diesel-like, and waste vapor components, the chains can be scissored even finer and the whole result used to fuel an engine directly.

Just having fun. There has been no energy loss or yield study: the equipment is remarkably crude.


I'm the Santa turning valves.

It's probably better in the long run to recycle the plastic back to other plastic products. That said, if one has a lot of plastic available, a pyrolysis system to produce a gas could be used to run a diesel engine. With a diesel, the engine could be run with diesel at idle, then powered up by adding the gas to the intake. Some of the gas could be used to pyrolyze the plastic, the rest could be used to run the engine. One would need to filter the gas to remove those pesky carbon molecules. A mechanism would be needed to pre-charge the reactor with nitrogen or some other gas to remove the O2. I think a reactor could be built in a pickup bed, similar to a wood gas generator.

For a time, I had an investment in a company that used a large batch system to destroy hazardous medical waste by heating and much of the waste was plastic. Their process worked, but they had trouble with emissions, as they actually added some air to the process, burning the material as well as pyrolyzing it. They moved on to a large continuous processing device, but had trouble with that device and then lost their emissions permit. Part of their problem was that some of the plastics they encountered contained chlorine...

E. Swanson

I would agree that recycling to plastic is probably better where possible,, though there are some forms of plastic that are quite hard to recycle - HDPE not being one of them. I can easily imagine that PVC plastic would create problems for a metal engine!

You make a comment that the gas seems "higher Octane" than woodgas, but I suspect you really mean "higher energy". Both woodgas and your pyrolysis gas are higher octane than gasoline, so knocking will not be an issue in either case. But of you were making woodgas by air blown gasification, and doing destructive distillation of HDPE, then yes, you gas will be much richer in energy. You can do distillation of wood too, but, of course, you get a LOT of tars, that is why downdraft gasification, where the charcoal cracks the tars, is the way to go with wood.

In a "permanent" system, and a larger engine, you could probably use the exhaust heat to run the retort/. I have heard of an attempt at this with wood, but the tar problem needs a lot of attention with this system.

Guys, KalimankuDenku is just having fun.

Once you have something polymerized, you definitely do not want to de-polymerize. 2L soda bottles make perfect polar fleece. With RMG's sense of humour - drink Coke in summer and wear it in winter.

With RMG's sense of humour - drink Coke in summer and wear it in winter.

Of course you can convert 2L coke bottles into polar fleece and wear them - that's one of their advantages. In fact, that's most of my wardrobe.

In my experience, the only problem comes when your fleece wears out and you decide to burn it in your fireplace to heat your house. Then, of course, people scream, "Don't do it! It's going to destroy the ozone layer!"

Since I have a degree in chemistry, I of course respond, "It has nothing to do with the ozone layer," but some people remain unconvinced. I try to avoid those people. They're very confused.

This is assuming you actually want to drink Coke in the first place...

But agreed, almost any PE is worth recycling.
I have not tried burning an old fleece, but it sounds like a good alternative to kindling. Growing up on the farm when we used to burn off tussock grass I learned to make a torch by tying bread bags around a stick, and then walk along as the burning plastic dripped off - very effective - burned clean, too.

Along with distillation of old tyres, you could easily do the same with old asphalt roofing - no one seems to recycle that stuff, but there is a lot of energy there.

RMG, I am surprised that you have such "confused"people in your house in the first place - though I'm sure they will be less confused by the time they leave!

I try not to invite confused people into my house, but they do show up from time to time. And the whole process of disabusing them of the myths they have read on the internet is just so tedious to go through, again and again.

I'm one of the few people I know who actually checks people's facts before I accept what they say. This goes over badly with some people who are used to BSing their way through life.

OTOH people often come up to me and ask, "Is this right?" about something, because they know it will start to bother me, I'll start to research it on the Web, and the next time I see them they can get the true facts about it. The alternative would be to research it themselves, which would be a lot more work than just getting me wondering about it.

Know your plastic before you burn it. Burning polyvinyl chloride would be just nasty - hydrogen chloride and dioxins you know. OTOH, burning polyethylene plastic would be not much different than burning fuel oil. It has the same heating value and emissions as fuel oil, in fact. I checked.

I'm one of the few people I know who actually checks people's facts before I accept what they say. This goes over badly with some people who are used to BSing their way through life.

OTOH people often come up to me and ask, "Is this right?" about something, because they know it will start to bother me, I'll start to research it on the Web, and the next time I see them they can get the true facts about it. The alternative would be to research it themselves, which would be a lot more work than just getting me wondering about it.

I know EXACTLY what you mean.

I could imagine that you might get on some people's blacklist for dinner parties for always being right, though I'm sure you'd make for entertaining company.

Know your plastic before you burn it. Burning polyvinyl chloride would be just nasty - hydrogen chloride and dioxins you know.

Indeed, that is why you are not allowed to use PVC and ABS pipes in parkades and other exposed places (except in houses) - a fire there will get real nasty, real fast!

Pvt Manning proves 'slippery slope'

The subjection of Manning to tactics originally authorised for foreign terror suspects proves that torture opponents were correct about the slippery slope, as they were about everything else. Putting Manning through the "learned helplessness" regimen makes president Barack Obama's day-one promise to "end torture" and "restore the rule of law" even more of a mockery than the "looking forward, not backward" commitment to unaccountability for crimes perpetrated by officials of the previous administration. The torturous treatment of soldier/citizen Manning is even occurring on the Nobel Peace Prize-winning no-to-torture-president's watch.

But in Manning's case, the rationale that undergirded the authorisation of interrogational abuse - the legitimate need for actionable intelligence to keep Americans safe - is entirely missing.

Has the war on terror come home to roost? Is Cheney's waltz to "dark side" still standard practice in the U.S.?

Neo-conservatives and progressives are two sides of the same dangerous coin.


The neo-conservatives do the dirty business of acquiring the world's resources unfairly, and then the progressives launder the loot so we can live without the guilt of our crimes.

bm - So I take it you view George Soros as a "neo-conservative". Interesting.

It was interesting to hear Obama state he had asked the army if they were operating correctly and had been reassured they were.
So, the internal review says it's all good, that must be OK then, mustn't it???

I'd say so. A high government official who questioned what was happening to Manning just lost his job for speeking out. We've met the enemy and he is we.

The next country in the ME that might see some sort of internal conflict could be Israel.

5 settlers were killed in a naked assault a few days ago.

See the response by this collection of news:


Al-Aqsa Mosque was even being attacked, the third holiest place in the world after Mecka and Medina.

Yes, the Middle East continues to heat up while all eyes are turned to the Pacific.

From among the Mondoweiss links.

Yishai: Israel must build 1,000 new units in settlements for every person murdered

Interior Minister Eli Yishai said Sunday that the decision to build hundreds of new housing units in the West Bank settlements as a response to the Itamar terror attack is not enough and Israel must construct many more homes.

During a Sunday cabinet meeting, Yishai said that Israel must build "at least a thousand new homes for each person murdered."

Talk about pursuing a housing bubble with a vengeance. This is a most bizarre form of retaliation.

Considering how punchy people are in the Middle East these days, Israel's behaviour is worrisome.

For this story of Retributive Isreali Settlements, it sounds just like..

"The beatings will continue until Morale improves."

..and for the Bradley Manning issue above, it's

"The beating will continue until our Morals improve.."

For the second time today you gave me a chuckle.

The first with the reference to Mad and the Far Side and now with reference to madness (Israel) and the farce side (Manning).

Nice play on words. Brings home the point.

I am far more concerned about the political events in the middle east than I am about Japan. I think the Japanese situation may in fact be worse than the optimists believe, but I have no great expectation of the Arab states returning to decades of sun bleached oil pumping invisibility. Even if the Saudis and the other GCC countries put a lid on Bahrain for a while the simmering will remain; something big will give in this region before too long and then all bets on everything will be truly off.

These events are a lot for the global ecomomy to absorb....a good test of its resiliance. My Grandpappy always said that sh@t always happens in threes. What's next? A really bad harvest? A devastating hurricane season? Whatever,, it's the folks at the bottom who'll bear the brunt.

GHUNG - Well...hurricane season is just around the corner.

Without commenting on the glowing reports I hear on Japan's economy, I would say that the reaction vis-a-vis oil is wrong headed. First of all, any reduction in nuclear power will increase FF power. Second, while their economy may be down, there will be tremendous demand for fuel for the bulldozers, cranes, etc., that are used in recovery from the damage. Their GDP will no doubt increase many-fold. As will demand for oil.

Look for reality to hit in about 5 or 6 weeks when rescue ends and building begins.


Craig - Couldn't agree with you more. The math seems very simple: it will cost Japan X $billions to recover. Some of this capital will directed away from some planned expenditures but much will be diverted from the savings including monies spent buying other countries' debt. Ever $ of this extra expenditure will equate to some volume of EXTRA energy consumed. And then there is the obvious fact that Japan will have to replace some of their nuclear electrical generation with FF sourced. Even short term their product imports (especially if you include LNG) could reach all time highs.

RE Pell row with climate scientist heats up

Pell is the bloke who has the ear of the wrecker-in-chief, Tony Abbott, the Leader of the Opposition.

I recently mentioned that we hope to swap out some four hundred 25-watt chandelier lamps for 3-watt LEDs at a local hotel (Philips EnduraLED BA11 Candle) -- small potatoes compared to this...

N.S. looks at $90m switch to LED street lights

The Nova Scotia is reviewing the possibility of replacing 120,000 street lights across the province with more energy-efficient LED lighting, according to ministerial briefing notes.


A number of pilot projects have been already rolled out in Nova Scotia and last month the Transportation Department awarded a $3.2-million contract to convert 2,500 highway lights from high-pressure sodium bulbs to LED technology.

Last fall the city of Halifax purchased more than 2,000 LED street light fixtures at a cost of $1.6 million.

Energy manager Julian Boyle said the city established a fund following a successful test project in 2009 that will help it eventually convert 40,000 street lights.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Front/9020176.html


Huh? More energy-efficient??? I thought bog-standard HPS, and the very best (read: the most expensive) LEDs, were both in about the same 80-150lm/W range these days. Of course even fairly bad "white" LEDs give better color rendition than the ghastly HPS, but I'd wonder whether that's really enough by itself to justify rushing out and squandering wads of cash to replace them all at one go.

Since the real justification can't possibly be lumens, is it reduced maintenance? Given that the LED traffic-light roundels in my patch are looking rather sad after just two or three years of outdoor temperature cycling, I'd even wonder about that.

As noted in the article, the city is self-funding these upgrades through past energy savings and, no question, the reduction in maintenance costs is a big part of the story (it reportedly costs the City $200.00 to replace a failed HPS lamp). According to LED Roadway, these new LED fixtures cut energy use by just over half. For argument's sake, let say you can replace a 150-watt HPS (195-watts with ballast) with a 96-watt LED fixture. The savings at this latitude would be about 440 kWh per fixture and at $0.12 per kWh that's a little less than $53.00 per annum. Granted, not a huge sum, but electricity rates in the province have been increasing, on average, 6 to 8 per cent each year for the past several years and I don't see that trend changing.

With respect to light levels, the City converted a section of highway not far from us and I can honestly say that these new fixtures are just as effective as the ones they replace -- presumably a combination of delivering light on target (i.e., the roadway and not the night sky) and their enhanced photopic/scotopic properities. It's certainly a more pleasant light. I seem to recall the City has also negotiated a comprehensive extended warranty.

Based on NSP's current generation mix, each 150-watt HPS street light converted to a 96-watt LED reduces the city's annual CO2(e), SO2, NOx and Hg emissions by some 370 kg, 4.0 kg, 0.7 kg and 5.3 mg respectively. There are an estimated 40,000 HPS fixtures in this city alone -- a mix of 70, 100, 150, 250 and 400-watt -- so the numbers quickly add up.


In this one case, I'm a fan of going slow. I think LEDs will continue to get cheaper and better, premature adoption means you spend a lot to get inferior (compared to a couple of years from now) product. If I were them I'd replace as the old ones burn out, and after the supply of spares is used up.

Hi EoS,

I don't disagree and I try not to get overly caught up in the hype, but from all reports LED Roadway makes a pretty decent product (for more information on the company and its offerings, see: http://www.ledroadwaylighting.com/). The City replaced the bulk of their old mercs back in the late 70's/early '80s and so many of these fixtures are fast approaching the end of their natural lives. If you have to start replacing these old fixtures anyway and this new technology can dramatically cut your operating costs (energy+maintenance) and also help the municipality meet its CO2 reduction targets, then now's a good time to saddle up to the bar.

I, for one, will be damn glad to see that ugly orange haze disappear from the night sky.


"...presumably a combination of delivering light on target (i.e., the roadway and not the night sky)..."

As I mentioned, no doubt about the ghastly color of the HPS. But is there any reason why, in places that don't feel able to afford the big outlay, the same old gas-discharge lamps can't simply be put in better-designed reflectors? The reflector is pretty much just a stamped piece of sheet metal whether its shape is well-designed or poorly-designed, isn't it? And if one is willing to settle for less light, just replace the fixtures with lower wattage ones when and as they fail.

Also, I'm not real clear on how going from 150 watts to 96 watts would cut power by more than half. New Math comes snarkily to mind, but is it that while the 150 watts isn't counting dissipation in that rather so-so ballast, the 96 watts is counting such dissipation? (A strange way to do business - a bit of the sort of thing that commenter "X" runs on about at too great length.) If they're only putting, say, 75 watts into the actual LEDs, they've just got to be settling for a whole lot fewer lumens. It would seem, then, that LED versus gas discharge accounts for only a very modest part, if any, of the savings. Maybe the old fixtures have truly awful reflectors as well as rather lossy ballasts?

WRT maintenance, how long does an HID last in that application?

With respect to wattage, the total draw of a 150-watt HPS fixture (lamp+ballast) is something in the range of 190 to 195-watts whereas the Satellite 96M consumes a total of 86-watts, including driver, not the 96-watts I had stated above. I believe a standard HPS cobra head has a luminaire efficacy in the range of 70 per cent so, right off the bat, 30 per cent of the light supplied is lost inside the fixture housing; with the Satellite, virtually all of the light is delivered on target, i.e., there are no reflector related losses and light isn't reabsorbed by the lamp itself.

Also bear in mind that lumens are not the only factor that contributes to good visual acuity. An LPS lamp can crank out cart loads of lumens but the light is monochromatic and, as such, everything we see is presented in shades of yellow and grey.


Hi Paul, I have to wonder about LEDs and CFCs swaping out a technology that can be reproduced by 19th century methods for lighting that requires a semiconductor fab and a supply tail that reaches to dozens of countries. The energy reductions are accompanied by complexity increases. I'm an electrical engineer, so economic analysis is not my thing, but it's possible that the embedded energy in the device negates the savings in energy consumption. That said, what ho, on to the next lighting job.


Hi Hamster,

I wish I knew the answer to this. I yank out several thousands of 4-lamp T12 troffers each year even if they're in fairly good shape rather than re-lamp/re-ballast or install a retrofit kit because a new 2 or 3-lamp troffer is so bloody cheap. The financial payback on a $35.00 troffer is typically a year and sometimes much less. My feeling (rightly or wrongly) is that I bought and paid for this energy as part of the purchase price and the manufacturer, shipper and distributor all made their nickels along the way. If it's any consolation, we recycle all of the old lamps, ballasts and fixture carcasses removed from service, as well as the old wiring, shipping boxes, etc., so at least a portion of that energy is recoverable.


Oil is trading down $2 and Japan stocks are in a death spiral for 2 days.

Seems speculators think the world is gonna slow down.

Maybe a good thing.

Oct - I suppose it depends which end of that elephant you're feeling up. Pick a piece: short term oil sales: down some. But consider the amount of infrastructure Japan has to replace. There's a direct correlation between capital expenditures and energy consumption. Given the Japanese recovery could last 10+ years that should represent a hard shove down the PO trail IMHO. LNG prices: Japan has already started out bidding other buyers...has to push those costs up. Liquidity in the world market: difficult to think the Japanese won't be keeping a considerable portion of the capital in country. Japan had been one of the maor purchasers of US debt. In fact Japan may become a big short term borrower. Inflation of electronics, etc: however much Japanese exports decline will impact the prices of those products around the globe. Decrease in the humanitarian aid pool: many countries already had trouble dipping into their dwindling coffers to aid others. One would think whatever generosity remains will be sunk into Japan. The next disaster may not find as much help coming their way. Probably quit a few other aspects the TODsters can throw out.

And then there's speculation re: the nuclear aspect. Threatening for sure but still too early to measure global impact. But in the short term it seems certain to delay nuclear energy expansion to a significant level. Again, a very good/bad result depending on which side of the fence you sit.

I've seen charts before that show the energy mix (oil, coal, nuclear, etc.) for the next 20-30 years. I think it was IEA projections, or something.
I suppose that if many countries pull back on nuclear, well...

eastie - Given the time lag, expense and public attitude about nukes even before the Japanese event I had serious doubts that nukes would be worked as a serious substitute for oil/NG. Coal maybe the devil but it's the devil we know and can afford.

I have little doubt Japans appetite for importing oil products will expand as the rebuilding begins. The question is which is going to be the scarcer resource, oil supply, or refining capacity. If it is refining capacity, then oil demand could be capped by refining capacity, and oil prices would decline, and product prices increase. If there is sufficieng refining capacity to process all the supply, then both oil and product prices could go up. Does anyone know about worldwide refining capacity? We've lost some in Libya and Japan, but we've also lost oil supply in Libya and possibly from the next MENA dominoes to fall.

Well, it would appear that those speculators would be wrong as the earthquake has actually sped the world up.


Official: Saudi soldier shot dead in Bahrain

CAIRO (AP) — A security official says a Saudi soldier who was part of the troops deployed to Bahrain to help the tiny island nation deal with the Shiite-led opposition uprising has been shot dead by a protester in the capital, Manama.

The Saudi official says the shooting took place on Tuesday when a person from the crowd of protesters shot at the Saudi troops. The official says the victim, Ahmed al-Raddadi, was a sergeant in the Saudi military. No other details were immediately available.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

A 1,000-strong force from Saudi Arabia and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council arrived in Bahrain on Monday.

gee i thought for sure sending in Saudi troops would calm the situation


[Saudi] Prince Nayef said, "Some evil people wanted to spread chaos in the kingdom and called for demonstrations that have dishonorable goals." But in the end the House of Saud managed to thwart this "deeply nefarious plot". They certainly did; just in time to invade a neighbor.

O right, there is no invasion.

The Arab world is right to see duplicity and spin at work here.

Wonder where the Secretary of State picked up her ease with diplomatic slight of hand? Hint, "I did not have sex with that woman!"

Quake damage to Japan cables greater than thought

The western and northern segments of the Pacific Crossing-1 cable, called PC-1 W and PC-1 N, remained out of service on Monday, U.S. time. Pacific Crossing, a subsidiary of Japanese carrier NTT Communications, had a statement on its website that the company was inspecting the damage and accelerating restoration activities. The southern and eastern segments of PC-1 were still operational. PC-1 is a 21,000-kilometer fiber-optic ring that lands at two sites on the U.S. west coast and two sites on Japan's east coast. The more northern landing, at Ajigaura, is between Tokyo and Sendai, which was near the epicenter of the quake.

In addition, PacNet had reported outages on parts of its East Asia Crossing network and Korea Telecom had said that a segment of its Japan-U.S. Cable Network was damaged, according to analyst Stephan Beckert of research firm Telegeography.

Wow, perhaps those rebels have more fight left in them then they're given credit for:

4:30pm Anti-government activists said that rebels commanding fighter jets have destroyed two of Gaddafi's warships off the northeast coast of Ajdabiya.
The opposition also claimed to have hit a third naval ship in the air attack, according to opposition website Libya al-Youm.
A number of army generals and soldiers, particularly in the Libyan Air Force, have defected to join the rebels and have an arsenal of weapons and fighter jets at their disposal.
The alleged attack comes as Gaddafi's forces continue to battle for control of Ajdabiya and the nearby city of Brega in order to advance on to the opposition stronghold of Benghazi.


Anti-government activists said that rebels commanding fighter jets have destroyed two of Gaddafi's warships off the northeast coast of Ajdabiya.

Alright - go Libyan Rebels! Even though the Libyan rebels plea for military help in their fight with Qaddaffi has been dithered into oblivion by those countries that claim 'Freedom' is what we are all about, the rebels evidently have some fight left in them. Remember, just because they retreated and maybe lost some battles doesn't mean they've lost the war. Go Rebels!!!

Cue triumphant Star Wars theme music!

I'm so nervous on the rebels' behalf. I really hope they pull through as I dread to think of Gadaffi's retaliation once the media leave. And it's all too clear that if the rebels were to win there would be no reprisals from them as they've already demonstrated by the good treatment they've provided their POWs.

It's kicking off in Bahrain too: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/03/20113151296156152.html

Saudi's getting involved quite heavily:

Hundreds of Saudi-led troops entered Bahrain on Monday to help protect government facilities there amid escalating the protests against the government..."We are committed to adhering to the GCC agreement. At the moment we have peacekeeping troops. We don't have a full force there, but this is up for discussion."

Yes, may the rebels beat back the Gaddafi thugs. Never underestimate the resilience of people when cornered and threatened.

There are many control freaks in high places sweating right now. None of this is going according to script.

Washington's fig-leaf attempt to contain protests to North Africa and immunize the Gulf states (if that is the plan) is high risk foreign policy. Involving the Saudis in Bahrain's sectarian turmoil has the potential to leave the Shia in the region no choice but full-scale revolution.

Talk about a recipe for disaster.

Iran can sit back, wait, and play the cards as they are dealt.

Alright - go Libyan Rebels!

Some good news to dispell the gloom. I figured they must have some elements of the military with at least some decent equipment. Still you might be able to take out some small boats with obsolete -or repurposed civial stuff. We'll see if they are capable of risking dogfights with Q's air assets.

This event does give a little perverse pleasure, but is the report substantiated? I tried to follow the AJ blog link to "Libya al-Youm", but my Arabic (that's those squiggly lines, right?) is a little rusty. I've seen no independent mention of the attacks, and it would seem a pretty big deal.

The Associated Press update as of 7:32 p.m. EST, Gadhafi denounces rebels as 'rats', doesn't paint a very rosy picture.

If the rebels lose out, I think it will be seen as one more shining example of the impotence of the international community to prevent whole sale slaughter.

All too reminiscent of Rwanda in the mid 1990s: SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL The Journey of Roméo Dallaire, watch the trailer or the film itself, Part 1 and Part 2.

Maybe part of the problem is that a set of semi-randomly evolved entities isn't automatically a "community", in any constructive sense of "community" - leaving the international "community" as an ineffectual fiction. And even were it a real community, any UN-style requirement for unanimous consent guarantees complete paralysis unless there is no diversity. This is not unlike what we get in society when, say, we grant even the smallest random handful of disgruntled NIMBYs the absolute right to stop any public-works project whenever they happen to feel like doing so. It's also not unlike that sick historical joke, the League of Nations, though this is unsurprising since idealists never seem to learn anything.

...that a set of semi-randomly evolved entities isn't automatically a "community"...

Paul, I think you summed up the crux of the dilemma in a few short phrases. Perhaps it's a bit like expecting a brood of chickens to behave like a gaggle of geese. Building order amid the anarchy of competing nation states requires a strength and purpose beyond that which the current system (can you even call it that?) is capable of providing.

Doesn't stop us from yearning for a better world.

"Gadhafi denounces rebels as 'rats'"

Yup; and proud of it.
Viva la causa.

He might be making a mistake there as The Desert Rats were forged by Tobruk :)


He might be making a mistake there as The Desert Rats were forged by Tobruk :)

Indeed, Tobruk was an amazing holdout by an outnumbered, out gunned, out everything force. The Libyan rebels could do much worse than this;

Tobruk: The longest siege in British Military History. There was only one day in the eight months of the siege that they were not bombed by German aircraft.

The Rats of Tobruk was the name given to the soldiers who held Tobruk, Libya against the Afrika Corps, during a period known as the Siege of Tobruk in World War II. The conflict started on 10 April 1941. ANZAC soldiers, the Australian 9th Division and the 18th Brigade of the 7th Division under Lieutenant General Leslie Morshead, consisted of 14,000 men -- more than half of the Allied presence in Tobruk. Though other forces present included British, Indian, Polish, and others, Tobruk was an Australian garrison.

In what was arguably the worst propaganda misstep of the war, Lord Haw-Haw derisively referred to the ANZACs as rats infesting Tobruk during radio broadcasts. This was probably due mostly to two factors, the tendency of the ANZACs to counterattack as soon as the enemy was routed to gather equipment, and the fact that the defenders dug extensive tunnel networks and shelters to supplement their trenches -- and weren't afraid to use them when bombarded.

Regardless of the logic, ANZACs took the name as a badge of pride, even going so far as to strike their own unofficial medal bearing the likeness of a rat. The metal required to construct the medals came from a German bomber the rats shot down with borrowed German guns. Throughout the conflict the Axis attackers had at least twice the manpower, were a modern mechanized force (read: tanks) and most importantly, posessed the abilities of reinforcement and resupply.

At this time, Rommel's Afrika Corps and their Blitzkrieg tactics had never been defeated. During the first phase of the offensive the rats were mostly concerned with constructing and reinforcing their defenses and observing the enemy. After a few months, however, purely defensive operations gave way to patrols. These forays outside friendly lines were broken into two categories: reconnaissance and fighting.

The job of a reconnaissance patrol is largely obvious: to provide information on the enemy. Sometimes this entailed the capture and/or field interrogation of an enemy. Later, almost exclusively at night, a fighting patrol would act on viable targets found, operating under the simplest of guidelines: do as much damage as you can, don't get caught.

Commonly an attack would involve crawling several miles, surrounding the enemy position, followed by a concerted rush with bayonets. In most cases the action was over in a minute or two, more often than not without a shot fired.

Probably the most well-known single offensive action by the rats was a fighting patrol led by Lieutenant William Horace Noyes, which stalked and destroyed three German light tanks, and killed or wounded the crews of seven machine-gun and eleven anti-tank gun positions and their protective infantry. In addition, they damaged a German heavy tank and killed or wounded 130 in the taking of a German garrison, most in the initial bayonet charge. No rats were lost that night.

In April, the soldiers were told to expect reinforcement and resupply within eight weeks. Against all odds, the rats held Tobruk tight until December of 1941, when they were evacuated by the British Navy after holding Tobruk for two hundred and fifty days, a little over eight months.

Unfortunately, shortly after the Aussies and Kiwis were relived by the Brits, Tobruk fell, though it was recaptured on the westwards drive after El Alamein

Australia shed a lot of blood to hold that city - I suspect the modern Australian Army would not hesitate to hold it again, if asked.

Thanks for those links - will watch tonight!

Have you seen Shooting Dogs? (sometimes called Beyond the Gates). Another harrowing film on Rwanda.

No I haven't.

I'll be sure to look up Shooting Dogs, too. Thanks!

Yemen Attack Halts 120,000 Barrel-a-Day Oil Pipeline, Marib Says

An explosion damaged the pipeline, which pumps 120,000 barrels a day, and production from two oil fields has been halted, the website said.


As the world focus on Japan, the situation in the Mideast continue to spiral out of control especially in Bahrain and Yemen, not to mention the continued struggle in Libya.


In the movie Dune their rationale for destroying the equipment mining the spice was that once all spice production stopped all eyes would turn to Iraqis. The quote was, "One who destroys a thing, controls that thing."

The rebels are not stupid. They know the value and power of oil production on the region and to the world economy. I would expect the scale and number of sabotage incidents to rise with discontent. That will force concessions in their favor to stop the sabotage. They know that otherwise they will simply be left to quietly suffer the hardships of abject poverty.

I gotta chuckle at the Freudian mispelling Arrakis => Iraqis.
P.S. I'm rereading Dune, it was something like 30 years ago that I read it.
Actually today it feels more like Libya versus the rebels (but where is Mu-adib (sp?) when you (they) need him. Q is Rabban.

I guess Ahmadinijad is Fayed (sp?) It has been too long!


March 15, 2011, 5:11 p.m. EDT

API shows smaller-than-expected oil supply gain

By Claudia Assis SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- The American Petroleum Institute late Tuesday said crude-oil supplies rose 91,000 in the week ended March 11, significantly less than the 2.1-million-barrel rise analysts polled by Platts had expected. The API also reported gasoline stockpiles down 458,000 barrels, from expectations of a decline around 1.5 million barrels, and an increase of 531,000 in distillate stocks, compared to forecasts of a decline of 1.4 million barrels. The Department of Energy reports its more closely watched data Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. Eastern.


The decline in OPEC exports to the US, which started 4 months ago now, has still been overlooked by the 'analysts'. Despite the large decline in oil prices over the last week or so, and in contrast to the many statements from OPEC that they will 'offer' more 'supply', the US is in the midst of a significant - and worsening - oil import decline, mainly due to OPEC cutbacks - made worse by an increase in US product exports.

No doubt that shutdown of nuclear plants around the world will only lead to greater demand for oil products (that is if the world's economy holds up), and higher products exports from the US to the EU, and possibly Japan.

Previously I have said that KSA will increase oil exports about 300,000 bpd March 15, which has now arrived. This looks like it will happen - but that will only take KSA back to export levels seen about two to three months ago. Shippers expect another small surge of OPEC exports, including those from West Africa, about April 1, but it's unclear just how long that will last.

Another problem:

Arctic faces record ozone loss this spring

“Our measurements show that at the relevant altitudes about half of the ozone that was present above the Arctic has been destroyed over the past weeks,” said institute researcher Markus Rex, describing the current situation in a March 14 news release from Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute for polar and marine research.

“Since the conditions leading to this unusually rapid ozone depletion continue to prevail, we expect further depletion to occur.”


GOP Votes to Deny Existence of Climate Change

Today, the Democratic minority offered a straightforward amendment: one that simply stated the basics of climate change, that the global temperatures are rising, and human beings are likely to be the main cause. The GOP voted unanimously to deny the amendment. Essentially, the GOP leadership in the House Energy Committee has just voted to explicitly deny the existence of climate change.

GOP Votes to Deny Existence of Climate Change

I agree with the Dems, but actually I think the Repubs position as I understand it from one of our Fox News watching conservative relatives on my wife's side of the family, is they don't think mankind is the cause. They 'believe' humankind is not capable of doing anything to change the Earth and that God would never do anything to hurt us. Actual words I heard my inlaw say in regards to global warming.
And this mantra is what they serve up on Fox and their sheeple soak it all in without any independent thought or investigation.

There seem to be two different camps of the deniers.

One says "there's no such thing as Global Warming, it's all a hoax."

The other says "Yes, it's warming but humans aren't the cause. It's natural cycles."

By the Deniers words and actions, I'm convinced there is a third camp.

Those that just don't care what happens after they are gone.

Flashback: Thirty years before the birth of the Nissan Leaf there was the AMC Electron, powered by a lithium battery !


Too bad it never made it to the showroom floor (instead, we got more of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YV_5w3v1EDU).