Drumbeat: April 2, 2011

Yergin: Stepping on the Gas

Today, in an age that craves innovation in energy, George Mitchell's breakthrough in the Barnett Shale has opened the door to a potentially profound change in the global energy equation.

What has become known as the "unconventional-natural-gas revolution" has turned a shortage into a large surplus and transformed the natural-gas business, which supplies almost a quarter of America's total energy. This revolution has arrived, moreover, at a moment when rising oil prices, sparked by turmoil in the Middle East, and the nuclear crisis in Japan have raised anxieties about energy security. Government and producers alike have turned their attention back to domestic resources.

Mexico says OPEC, inventories can cover Libya oil

(Reuters) - Mexican Energy Minister Jose Meade said on Friday oil shortages caused by the Libyan crisis, which have helped push crude to a 2-1/2 year peak, could be covered by production in other OPEC nations and existing inventories.

If conflict does not spread to other Middle Eastern nations, oil prices should fall back to levels seen before fighting erupted in major oil producer Libya, Meade told the Reuters Latin American Investment Summit.

Saudi's New Super Light Crude Blend To Hit Market In April -Source

LONDON (Dow Jones)--The newly produced blend of super light crude by Saudi Arabia won't become available until early April, despite speculation that the oil has already been purchased in the Mediterranean, someone familiar with the matter told Dow Jones Newswires on Thursday.

Exposed: The US-Saudi Libya deal

You invade Bahrain. We take out Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. This, in short, is the essence of a deal struck between the Barack Obama administration and the House of Saud. Two diplomatic sources at the United Nations independently confirmed that Washington, via Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, gave the go-ahead for Saudi Arabia to invade Bahrain and crush the pro-democracy movement in their neighbor in exchange for a "yes" vote by the Arab League for a no-fly zone over Libya - the main rationale that led to United Nations Security Council resolution 1973.

Noam Chomsky: On Libya and the Unfolding Crises

While control over oil is not the sole factor in Middle East policy, it provides fairly good guidelines, right now as well. In an oil-rich country, a reliable dictator is granted virtual free rein. In recent weeks, for example, there was no reaction when the Saudi dictatorship used massive force to prevent any sign of protest. Same in Kuwait, when small demonstrations were instantly crushed. And in Bahrain, when Saudi-led forces intervened to protect the minority Sunni monarch from calls for reform on the part of the repressed Shiite population. Government forces not only smashed the tent city in Pearl Square – Bahrain’s Tahrir Square -- but even demolished the Pearl statue that was Bahrain’s symbol, and had been appropriated by the protestors. Bahrain is a particularly sensitive case because it hosts the US Fifth fleet, by far the most powerful military force in the region, and because eastern Saudi Arabia, right across the causeway, is also largely Shiite, and has most of the Kingdom’s oil reserves. By a curious accident of geography and history, the world’s largest hydrocarbon concentrations surround the northern Gulf, in mostly Shiite regions. The possibility of a tacit Shiite alliance has been a nightmare for planners for a long time.

Are the Oil Barons Panicking? Saudi Arabia to Spend $100 Billion on Renewable Energy

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, may not be panicking quite yet about its ever-declining oil supply--but the country is certainly concerned. Consider: in February, a Wikileaks document revealed that Saudi Arabia might be overstating its oil reserves by 300 billion barrels, and the country recently asked for a slice of the UN's $100 billion climate change fund to help diversify to other energy sources (a galling request from such a wealthy country so dependent on other people not diversifying to other energy sources). And now the kingdom has announced that it plans to spend $100 billion on solar, nuclear, and other renewable energy sources. They haven't announced over what time period they will spend it, but that's a lot of cash. Private investments in Chinese renewable energy projects equalled $54.4 billion last year, which was the highest of any country.

The real cost of not going nuclear

Just because the nuclear backlash was inevitable doesn’t make it right. Long-standing opponents have naturally seized on the Japanese emergency in a bid to reverse the industry’s budding renaissance, and in Europe at least there is a chance they could succeed. Industry share prices have slumped as governments including Switzerland, Germany and Britain have applied the brakes. Since northern Europe is far less prone to earthquakes and new reactor designs are based on passive safety, the implications should be more political than technical. But the consequences of ditching nuclear now could be severe for both the climate and energy security.

Q & A with Dylan Ratigan

We have to start with the biggest coalition we can form and the simplest issue we can fight. While I think the end game is to be a fully renewable sustainable economy on the Earth, forget America, we have to find someplace to start. I think the easiest place to focus everyone's attention is on ending our dependency on Middle Eastern oil. How wonderful would it be to get other people who would not normally work together like the Sierra Club and Boone Pickens, who are working together, on something they agree to: getting off Mideast oil.

The Collapse Of Globalization

The uprisings in the Middle East, the unrest that is tearing apart nations such as the Ivory Coast, the bubbling discontent in Greece, Ireland and Britain and the labor disputes in states such as Wisconsin and Ohio presage the collapse of globalization. They presage a world where vital resources, including food and water, jobs and security, are becoming scarcer and harder to obtain. They presage growing misery for hundreds of millions of people who find themselves trapped in failed states, suffering escalating violence and crippling poverty. They presage increasingly draconian controls and force—take a look at what is being done to Pfc. Bradley Manning—used to protect the corporate elite who are orchestrating our demise.

The Economic Cost of Losing Bats

A new article in Science shows that bats have an important role to play in agriculture—one worth at least $3.7 billion a year, if not far more. That's how much the extinction of bats throughout North America could cost the region's food system, according to an analysis by a group of researchers led by Justin Boyles of the University of Pretoria in South Africa. The logic is simple: bats eat bugs—tons and tons of bugs—and that includes crop and forests pests. (A single colony of 150 brown bats in Indianan has been estimated to eat nearly 1.3 million pest insects a year.) Remove the bats, and you remove one of nature's most effective biological pesticides—which would have to be replaced by actual pesticides, at an economic and environmental expense.

Bill McKibben: Natural disasters?

We're now moving into a new geological epoch, one scientists are calling the Anthropocene – a world remade by man, most obvious in his emissions of carbon dioxide. That CO2 traps heat near the planet that would otherwise have radiated back to space – there is, simply, more energy in our atmosphere than there used to be. And that energy expresses itself in many ways: ice melts, water heats, clouds gather. 2010 was the warmest year on record, and according to insurers – the people we task with totting up disasters – it demonstrated the unprecedented mayhem this new heat causes. Global warming was "the only plausible explanation", the giant reinsurer Munich Re explained in December, of 2010's catastrophes, the drought, heatwave and fires across Russia, and the mega-floods in Pakistan, Australia, Brazil and elsewhere were at least plausibly connected to the general heating. They were, that is to say, not precisely "natural disasters", but something more complex; the human thumb was on the scale.

Preparing For a Warmer Planet

How prepared are we for the next big storm? In his new book Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth, journalist Mark Hertsgaard explains how some countries like the Netherlands are planning 200 years in advance for rising sea levels and alternating periods of drought and heavy rains.

An employee’s guide to catabolic collapse

Before looking at what jobs are likely to be available, perhaps it is worth discussing the revival of part of the economy that only a couple of generations ago was integral to virtually everybody’s life; the household economy. The backyard vegie patch, a few chickens, some fruit trees, home made preserves and clothes; these are some of the elements of the household economy that were a vital part of our ancestor’s way of life, and no doubt will be part of ours in the not too distant future. For the doubters, the potential of the household economy is significant. As an example, during World War Two the Victory Gardens program saw some 40 per cent of vegetables consumed in the USA being grown in backyards and other small plots. Reducing your reliance on the formal economy is one way of reducing the impact of disruptions caused by job losses or other systemic failures that are likely to occur in the future. Indeed, as the formal economy contracts and fewer employees are required, both the number of people ‘employed’ in the household or informal economy informal economy and its productivity are likely to grow dramatically.

Risk Externalization is Moral Hazard

In recent years, several large man-made disasters have been witnessed with widely felt negative effects due to the externalization of risk by entities claiming limited liability. The concept of limited liability was engineered to protect businesses from losing more than all of their capital, but it is now being abused by corporations and governments who use it to externalize excessive risk. The net effect in a financial model is to convert a natural forward contract into a call option for the risk taker. The profits are kept by the risk takers. However, when risk is externalized, the losses are realized by innocent bystanders. This is the definition of moral hazard.

Canada needs an oil change

Energy subsidies cost American taxpayers about $20 billion annually, more than the State Department’s entire budget and enough to send half a million Americans to college each year with all expenses paid.

Fatih Birol, the chief economist at the International Energy Administration, has named fossil fuel subsidies as one of the biggest impediments to global economic recovery – “the appendicitis of the global energy system which needs to be removed for a healthy, sustainable development future.”

Sustainability a possibility with help of state’s ag industry

With rising fuel prices and the age of peak oil already behind us, a sustainable solution that will have to be solved in the coming years is finding ways to replace that ubiquitous material, petroleum, that is found in so many of our everyday products and fuels, with more environmentally-friendly and bio-derived materials.

Such is one of the many goals of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s own Wisconsin Institute of Sustainable Technology (WIST), a multidisciplinary institute on campus which seeks to deliver sustainable solutions collaboratively with partners through research, education and laboratory services.

An Open Letter to Our City Commissioners: We Need Visionary, Creative Solutions to Old Problems

What we really need right now is a city commission that can see ways for Lawrence to become a vibrant ecological city as we transition into an era where climate change and peak oil are major realities. Our city commission has done some great things so far. Forming climate change and peak oil task forces were both a great start, and hiring a dedicated sustainability director was a great move. Now it's time we move from these foundation-building efforts to start implementing some really bold actions.

Sustainability and the Third Crossing

Despite the hard work done by the creators the Sustainable Kingston plan, Kingston is not a sustainable city. It may well be “the most sustainable city in Canada”, but since, to my knowledge, no city in Canada is anywhere near sustainable, that isn’t really saying much. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, and the same could be said of a community that engages in some minor reforms within a world that is filled with sprawling, consumptive and oil dependent cities.

Building Adaptive Capacity: Towards a Design for Sustainability 3.0

As social, economic and ecological conditions continue to worsen and with the increasing sophistication and connectivity of information technology and social media, design for sustainability is now moving towards a new qualitatively different area of exploration: designing to build adaptive capacity. Its been almost 10 years since McDonough and Braungart's ground-breaking book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things set the standard for sustainable design: toxic-free closed loop material cycles, use of renewable energy in manufacturing, post-consumer separation of biological and technical materials and service and flow takeback programs by manufacturers.

South Africa: Govt tweaks energy policy

Government has finalised the new integrated resource plan (IRP) which maps out the provision of electricity for South Africa until 2030.

Although the contribution of renewable energy to the mix has been increased from a very low base and plans for nuclear power production remain expansive, the document outlines a number of risks that could have an impact on the implementation of the plan.

Guelph candidates split on nuclear power

GUELPH — Could a nuclear crisis similar to the one occurring at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant happen in Canada?

Most federal election candidates in Guelph don’t want to run the risk of finding out.

There are safer, greener alternatives to consider, several of them say.

The 'sensible environmentalist'

Patrick Moore, a Greenpeace founder, says the organisation is "anti-science, anti-business and downright anti-human".

"A lot of environmentalists are stuck in the 1970s and continue to promote a strain of leftish romanticism about idyllic rural village life powered by windmills and solar panels," Moore says. He is a vehement critic of wind and solar power – the main energy sources Greenpeace supports – saying both are "ridiculously expensive and unreliable".

As E-Waste Law Kicks In, the Ideal Option Varies

As a new state law making electronics manufacturers responsible for offering free recycling programs takes effect, many residents of New York City are likely to continue relying on so-called collection events to get rid of their e-waste.

Alaska Governor Asks Govt to Expedite Offshore Drilling Projects

Alaska's governor asked federal regulators to move ahead in allowing new oil development in the Arctic Ocean, as the state looks for ways to shore up declining production.

In a letter sent Thursday to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Gov. Sean Parnell wrote that "Alaska is the United States' most important and abundant domestic source of future oil and gas." He cited a 2008 U.S. Geological Survey report that estimated more than 10 billion barrels of oil and more than 100 trillion cubic feet of natural gas lay beneath the surface of Alaska's Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Parnell seized on current concerns in the U.S. about the stability of foreign sources of oil, amid turmoil in the Middle East and rising oil prices.

Wriggle room on offshore tax

Is there an escape route for George Osborne since his tax raid on oil and gas producers backfired?

It seems the government may be looking for one - if only a bit of wriggle room, because the big picture shows that extra £2bn is needed each year to make the Treasury's sums add up.

Transocean Workers Refuse to Testify on Deepwater Horizon

Employees of Transocean, the company that owned the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded last April, are refusing to testify before federal officials investigating the causes of the explosion and subsequent oil spill.

Why I Don't Include McDonald's in My Retirement Portfolio

What concerns me most are the headwinds McDonald's faces over the next few years from macroeconomic trends, mainly peak oil and accelerating expansion of the money supply.

Sonangol funding woes cripple $8bn refinery construction

In southern Angola, construction of a 200 000 barrel-a-day refinery at a cost of $8 billion (R54bn) has slowed because of funding constraints experienced by the state-owned Sonangol.

The Lobito refinery had been due to come on stream this year, but it may be another three years at least before it is commissioned, extending Angola’s reliance on imported fuel products even as it produces crude oil at levels near its daily capacity of 1.93 million barrels.

Oil boom transforming small Manitoba town

While concerns are being raised over the delicate future of the world’s oil supply — and also by a resulting spike in gas prices at the pumps — there’s little appearance of that being felt in a small Manitoba community.

The farm village of Waskada, located 300 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg near the Saskatchewan border, is at the heart of a veritable home-grown oil boom.

Tapping Shale Gas is Called Benefit to Economy, Consumers

Low natural gas prices, and ample supplies that are likely to keep prices down far into the future, are the rewards that could come from tapping into the vast supplies of shale gas trapped deep below the United States, said an energy industry analyst.

Could Shale Gas Power the World?

Natural gas is up now — way up — and it's changing how we think about energy throughout the world. If its boosters are to be believed, gas will change geopolitics, trimming the power of states in the troubled Middle East by reducing the demand for their oil; save the lives of thousands of people who would otherwise die from mining coal or breathing its filthy residue; and make it a little easier to handle the challenges of climate change — all thanks to vast new onshore deposits of what is called shale gas. Using new drilling methods pioneered by a Texas wildcatter, companies have been able to tap enormous quantities of gas from shale, leading to rock-bottom prices for natural gas even as oil soars. In a single year, the usually sober U.S. Energy Information Administration more than doubled its estimates of recoverable domestic shale-gas resources to 827 trillion cu. ft. (23 trillion cu m), more than 34 times the amount of gas the U.S. uses in a year. Together with supplies from conventional gas sources, the U.S. may now have enough gas to last a century at current consumption rates. (By comparison, the U.S. has less than nine years of oil reserves.)

Nor is the U.S. alone. Britain, India, China and countries in Eastern Europe have potential shale plays as well, while Australia, having invested in huge infrastructure projects, has started sending fleets of ships with liquefied natural gas around the world.

Over all this loom three factors: booming demand for energy as nations such as China and India industrialize; the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, which has dimmed prospects for a renaissance of nuclear power; and the turmoil in the oil-rich Middle East. Taken together, they have opened space for gas as a relatively clean, relatively cheap fuel that can help fill the world's needs during the transition to a truly green economy.

Work starts on $10bn energy project

The partners in the Shah gas development are shifting mountains of sand to keep the strategic project on schedule after finalising their joint-venture agreement yesterday.

One of the early challenges of developing the gasfield is to establish a base amid a sea of shifting desert dunes from which deep deposits of sour gas can be safely exploited.

DEP top-down directive draws criticism

HARRISBURG - A new top-down directive from the Department of Environmental Protection on handling Marcellus Shale drilling enforcement actions and violations is drawing sharp criticism from some lawmakers in Northeast Pennsylvania and calls for more explanation from others.

...The DEP directive requires regional office directors and the director of the bureau of oil and gas management to seek approval for actions involving Marcellus violations from two top agency deputies with final clearance from DEP Secretary-designate Michael Krancer.

Crude Climbs to 30-Month High on Gain in U.S. Employment, Libya Conflict

Crude oil climbed to a 30-month high in New York as the U.S. added more jobs than forecast, signaling increased demand, and as fighting intensified in Libya.

Oil rose 1.1 percent after the Labor Department said payrolls advanced by 216,000 workers in March. Economists projected a 190,000 gain, according to a Bloomberg News survey. Libyan rebels have been in retreat for three days as Muammar Qaddafi’s troops regained the initiative after almost two weeks of allied airstrikes.

Speculation leads to gas hikes

Oil, like cotton and wheat, is sold on the market as a future. Effectively a future is a contract between buyer and seller, where the buyer agrees to purchase the good at a fixed price at some predetermined point in the future. The concept of futures was created so farmers and producers could determine what their unharvested commodities would be worth well in advance. It also allowed manufacturers and consumers to purchase raw materials at a reasonable rate — a relatively simple system controlled by the financial law of supply and demand. This worked well for a while, but then things changed.

Unipec May Halt Diesel Exports This Month to Build Supplies Within China

China International United Petroleum & Chemical Corp., the nation’s biggest oil trader, may halt diesel exports this month to build inventories, said two company officials with knowledge of the plan.

Unipec, as China International is known, has been cutting exports to meet domestic demand, said the officials, who declined to be identified because of company rules. The trading company reduced diesel exports to 70,000 tons in March from 80,000 tons in February.

World coal prices rise to record high

Coal prices hit an all-time high yesterday, with Xstrata persuading Chugoku Electric of Japan to pay almost $130 (£80) a tonne for coal sourced from the miner over the next 12 months – 30 per cent more than the contract was worth last year.

OPEC Output Down as Libyan Loss Tops Saudi Gain, Survey Shows

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ crude output dropped in March as increases from Saudi Arabia failed to make up for a decline in Libyan production to a 49-year low, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Petrol sales plummet as prices climb

Sales of petrol at the pumps have dipped sharply over recent years, according to Government figures highlighted today by the AA.

In terms of weight, petrol sales fell 13.95% between 2007 and 2010.

Obama: Oil drilling alone won't cut gas prices

Discussing the Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future he unveiled this week, the president said he supports more drilling for domestic oil, but that alone "is not a real strategy to replace our dependence on foreign oil."

What President Obama Should Have Said Regarding Energy Policy

I am afraid we have not been entirely open and honest about the situation in the past, but I want to make a change, and talk about the real energy situation, and start making plans for a lower-energy world. In the not too distant future–probably within the next 20 to 50 years, but perhaps as soon as the next 10 years, we will need to go back to using just the energy resources that we receive each day to sustain this world. This will require a very different type of society than we have today.

Peak oil and rising gas prices

One aspect of Obama’s plan is increased domestic oil production, though he admits that with 2% of the world’s oil reserves, the US can’t drill itself into energy independence. Why not? That two-word question may have a two-word answer: Peak oil.

Learsy: Obama Echoes The American Petroleum Institute Mantra

Yes, as President Obama explained when more oil is consumed the price goes up. But not to this extent and not to the extent of the explosion in oil prices over the past ten years whereby it has increased by a factor of more than seven. Clearly something else is afoot.

What is afoot is the manipulation of supply and prices by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). When the president says oil can not be pumped fast enough to keep up with demand and that is why so many American families are suffering when paying for high gas prices, no mention is made that the OPEC cartel producers are willfully holding back some 6 million barrels of production a day, of which Saudi Arabia alone has shut in 4.5 million barrels.

Energy Expert Annotates Obama's Energy Speech

President Barack Obama's speech to Georgetown University on energy policy, delivered yesterday, forges a new direction on energy policy after big failures in his first two years to cut U.S. emissions on greenhouse gases with a cap-and-trade system, wean the U.S. off foreign oil, or cut U.S. energy prices. It's a centrist approach to a contentious subject, and it has drawn praise and criticism from all sides.

The full text of Obama’s remarks as delivered follows, with expert commentary on various sections from David Keith, physicist and energy expert at University of Calgary, and Eli Kintisch of ScienceInsider. Mouse over the highlighted sections to read the commentary.

Quit Repeating Nonsensical Oil Statistics!

“I give out this statistic all the time, and forgive me for repeating it again: America holds about 2 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves.” – President Barack Obama, March 30, 2011

It would be easier to forgive the President’s repetition if it the way he used it made any sense at all.

Oil and Gas Partnership Reveals Connection Between Peak Oil Awareness and the Price of Oil

As awareness about peak oil increases, OilandGasPartnerships.net believes the growing awareness about the limits on supply will act as a catalyst to increase the price of oil even before the peak is reached.

U.S. Consumers Have Big Banks To Blame For High Gasoline Prices

There is a bit of irony here in that the very same banks that taxpayers bailed out, and saved from going completely belly up, are now making you pay once again in the form of higher Oil prices, and the resultant higher gasoline prices at the pump (Fig. 1). Don`t be fooled by the rhetoric generated in the media by the Big Banks regarding the Middle East.

Morons Who Hate Oil

It may seem harsh to call people who actively spread lies about oil “morons”, but that assumes they do so out of ignorance as opposed to those who do so for some crazed “environmental” reason that is so out of touch with reality it invites scorn.

A case in point is a new book by Steve Hallett with John Wright, “Life Without Oil: Why We Must Shift to a New Energy Future” ($25.00, Prometheus Books).

The Hard Realities of the Need for More Oil

The world isn't about to run out of oil any time in the foreseeable future. But Martin Sieff warns that oil prices are going to stay high and climb higher for many other serious reasons — and the American public, liberals and conservatives alike, had better get used to it.

The Math of the New Drilling Boom

We dare not harm the environment of the yellow speckled squirrel. We humans may all be swallowed up in an economic collapse, but as for biting the dust, better us than the squirrel. This seems to be our energy policy in America, so it's understandable when you hear the chorus "Drill, baby,drill." But this does not address the energy crisis we are flying into.

I usually agree with Kudlow and Steve Forbes as well, but when they assume that the free capital markets will solve the oil problem, as Forbes predicted in 2006 with a call for a longterm return to $35 pricing, they are just flat wrong. The energy crisis we are flying into has little to do with higher technology or more drilling; it has everything to do with net energy and the laws of diminishing returns.

Libya rebels say hit by coalition air strike

BREGA, Libya (Reuters) - At least 10 rebels were killed by a coalition air strike on Friday, fighters at the scene said on Saturday, in an increasingly chaotic battle with Muammar Gaddafi's forces over the oil town of Brega.

With the more experienced and better organised rebel army locked in combat with Gaddafi's forces, hundreds of young, inexperienced volunteers could be seen fleeing east towards Ajdabiyah, after coming under heavy mortar and machine gun fire.

In Middle East, familiar echoes about limits of U.S. power

The rebels are outnumbered 10-1, they said, and barely 1,000 rebel fighters have military training. NATO airstrikes, despite degrading the Libyan military by 25%, are not coordinated with the disorganized rebel offensives. There's no predicting how long toppling Gadhafi might take, nor is that outcome guaranteed.

So now, according to various reports, the CIA has put operatives into Libya, and NATO is considering arming the rebels despite the disquieting history of Afghanistan, where the U.S. armed fighters against a Soviet invasion only to see them turn into today's enemy, the Taliban.

This all lends an uncomfortably familiar feeling of half-baked commitment, incremental escalation and dubious outcomes.

Ecuador's Amazon culture under renewed threat

Following the Chevron-Texaco US oil company's $9bn fine for environmental damage in Ecuador's Amazon region, the indigenous Huaorani people there worry about surviving in the rainforest because of the possibility of more oil exploitation in the area.

Statoil Makes Norway's `Most Important' Find for 10 Years in Barents Sea

Statoil ASA (STL) and Eni SpA (ENI) struck oil and gas at the Skrugard prospect in the Barents Sea, making what may prove Norway’s biggest discovery in 10 years.

The discovery holds as much as 250 million barrels of recoverable reserves, Statoil said in a statement today. That may eclipse Eni’s nearby Goliat find, currently the largest off Norway since 2000 with 240 million barrels of oil equivalent, according to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate. Statoil shares rose to a a three-and-a-half-year high.

Nigeria’s National Assembly poll postponed after polling problems seen in oil-rich nation

IBADAN, Nigeria — Nigeria postponed its National Assembly elections Saturday as ballots and tally sheets remained missing from polling places throughout the nation, a worrying sign as the oil-rich nation faces a month of crucial polls.

Tracking Oil And Gas Rigs In The U.S. (Yes, There's An App)

If you want to keep an eye on how the drilling's going — whether you're for it or against it — there's an app for that. The Baker Hughes Rig Count app lets you track the location and number of rigs on your iPhone or iPad.

Explosion and fire damage Indonesia’s largest oil refinery; no injuries

CILACAP, Indonesia — Police say a massive fire has destroyed two storage tanks at Indonesia’s largest oil refinery.

BP says it's finished with coastal Ala. cleanup

GULF SHORES, Ala. - Petroleum giant BP says it has finished with the bulk of its oil spill cleanup work on Alabama's coast.

BP PLC said Friday it has removed workers and machinery from its deep-cleaning operation on the state's tourist beaches.

Transocean Execs Get Bonuses for ‘Best Year in Safety,’ Despite Gulf Disaster

Transocean Ltd., owner of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, awarded millions of dollars in bonuses to its executives after “the best year in safety performance in our company’s history,” according to an annual report and proxy statement released yesterday.

Sales of fuel-efficient autos stall despite high gas prices

With regular gasoline now averaging $3.60 a gallon nationally — up from a 2010 average of $2.84 — car buyers are thinking more about fuel economy than they were last year. But replacing a large vehicle with a much smaller one is further than many buyers are going.

Hybrid sales actually shrank from 2.9% of new vehicle sales in 2009 to 2.4% last year. Sales of light trucks — pickups, SUVs, crossovers, minivans — rose to 51% from 48% in the same period.

“For consumers to really change their buying habits, they must believe higher gas prices are a long-term change, and by long-term, they mean five years or more,” said Gloria Bergquist, vice president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

Free ride: Rising oil prices boost electric cars’ affordability

Rising gasoline prices -- now topping $4 a gallon in the San Francisco Bay Area -- may finally drive the message home that electric cars, despite the expense of the first generation mass production models, are a hedge against an uncertain fuel future. (Not to mention environmental catastrophe.)

Manitoba left in dust of electric vehicle times

Canada may be on the verge of an electric vehicle revolution, but Manitobans may have to wait a little longer.

Nissan Canada says it will delay its rollout of the much awaited fully-electric Leaf-branded car in Manitoba because it does not have an agreement with the province on plug-in charging stations.

Radioactive water leaks from Japan nuclear plant

RIKUZENTAKATA, Japan (AP) — Japan's prime minister surveyed the damage in a town gutted by a massive tsunami, as officials said Saturday that highly radioactive water was leaking into the sea from the nuclear plant stricken by the disaster.

Damage to reactor called severe

WASHINGTON — Energy Secretary Steven Chu said yesterday that roughly 70 percent of the core of one reactor at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan had sustained severe damage.

His assessment of the damage to Reactor No. 1 was the most specific yet from a US official on how close the plant came to a full meltdown after it was hit by a severe earthquake and massive tsunami March 11.

Nuclear watchdog seeks Japan lessons

The UAE's nuclear regulator has asked the company charged with building the country's first nuclear power plants to explain how it will learn from the crisis in Japan.

South Africa nuclear plants will cost 40% more

THE Department of Energy raised its estimate of the costs of nuclear technology by 40% in its final integrated resource plan released yesterday, and restated its determination to build new nuclear plants.

"A commitment to construction of the nuclear fleet is made based on government policy and reduced risk exposure to future fuel and renewable costs," the plan reads.

Offshore Wind Backbone Begins to Take Shape

The Atlantic Wind Connection was originally supposed to run from Virginia to northern New Jersey and pick up about 6,000 megawatts of wind energy along the way from wind farms far enough from the shore to avoid complaints from neighbors and pick up strong ocean breezes.

But when the company applied to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Tuesday, the proposal had grown to 7,000 megawatts and an option to connect with Manhattan or Brooklyn.

The world of ‘what if’

Homefront’s game-opening cut-scene combines real-life news clips (Hi, Hillary!) with plausible but fictional scenarios, showing the dominos that would have to fall to bring the United States under the occupation of a United Korea, beginning with a war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and America’s post-peak oil economic collapse.

How the Pueblos kept warm

When all else failed, the Indians used for emergency fuel the dried cornstalks left in their fields from the previous harvest. The first Spanish explorers, unaware of that, would turn their horses into those fields to graze on the stalks, causing much resentment among their hosts.

Locally grown? It all depends on how you define it

The popularity of locally grown food — which many assume means the food is fresher, made with fewer chemicals and grown by smaller, less corporate farms — has led to an explosion in the use of the word "local" in food marketing. It's the latest big thing after the surge in food marketed as "organic," another subject of continuing labeling controversy.

But what does local mean? Lacking common agreement, sellers capitalizing on the trend occasionally try to fudge the largely unregulated term. Some grocery stores may define local as within a large group of states, while consumers might think it means right in their hometown.

Notre Dame Professor Leads Effort to Keep Asian Carp Out of Great Lakes

Mr. Lodge’s findings of “environmental DNA,” or eDNA, from Asian carp in and near Lake Michigan in 2009 and 2010 led to a legal battle involving the Supreme Court, federal legislation, calls to close Chicago-area waterways or reverse their flow, a dispute with the Army Corps of Engineers, and even the appointment of a White House “Asian carp czar.”

Industry groups that depend on rivers and canals in the Chicago area to transport chemicals, coal, cement and other commodities have sharply criticized Mr. Lodge and his science. They argue that he has begun approaching the carp issue as an advocate, not as a dispassionate scientist, and they vigorously dispute his recommendation that policy makers should consider ecologically separating the Mississippi River system from the Great Lakes.

Is a Pesticide Harming All Those Bees?

The pesticides, based on the chemistry of nicotine, are generically called neonicotinoids. They are applied to seeds of crops like corn and soybeans. When the plants grow, the pesticides, which have been marketed under the names Clothianidin and Imidacloprid, permeate all of the plants’ systems.

Mr. Theobald discovered, and later reported, that the pesticides had been banned in Italy and in Germany, the home country of their manufacturer, Bayer, which reaps hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue annually from their sale. Yet the Environmental Protection Agency gave the pesticides provisional approval several years ago based on a peer-reviewed field study.

Coal industry disputes EPA water quality findings

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency measure that relies on mayflies to determine water quality in headwater streams in Central Appalachia's coalfields should be re-evaluated based on the results of a new industry study, the National Mining Association said Friday.

The group said its study on a dozen headwater streams in southern West Virginia shows that such streams are not unique environments and resources as characterized by EPA and do not warrant special protections from mining.

Lights out: Canadians power down for Earth Hour

Pamela Rezansoff and her family will pull on extra sweaters and scarves tonight, maybe even hats and gloves, at their home outside Grande Prairie, Alta.

"When I get up in the morning, I'll turn off the furnace unless there's danger the pipes will freeze," Rezansoff says. "I'll turn off all appliances except the fridge, and we'll eat fruit, vegetables and sandwiches. In the evening, we'll play board games by candlelight."

Tucking Carbon Into the Ground

IF carbon is going to be kept out of the atmosphere, a lot of it is probably going to have to be injected back into the ground from which it was mined as coal or extracted as oil or gas.

Not even the most ardent optimist about alternative energy would suggest that fossil fuels are going away soon. So carbon capture and sequestration — C.C.S. in environmental shorthand — is essential to a national energy policy. But almost all the discussion has been on the C.C. and not much on the S.

Denmark’s carbon bomb

A new study from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) indicates that Denmark's carbon dioxide emissions are double the previous calculation and have likely been so for years.

Accordingly, Denmark is exceeding its carbon dioxide goals under the Kyoto Protocol.

Widespread municipal garbage incineration – the same waste-to-energy system that has been touted internationally as a model for clean energy resourcefulness – is the main culprit.

Can 'peak oil' help slow climate change?

If those concerned about peak oil are proved correct, and a fall in oil production triggered a major economic down-swing, this would likely reduce the global rate of carbon emissions for a period, just as other recessions have done. But even a very severe global recession wouldn't reduce emissions sufficiently to "solve" climate change – and indeed the longer-term impact of the oil peak could be to accelerate rather than decelerate global warming.

Prepare for long-term climate change impacts on food production: FAO

“Potentially catastrophic” impacts on food production from slow-onset climate changes are expected to increasingly hit the developing world in the future, and action is required now to prepare for those impacts, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned on Thursday in a report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Food production systems and the ecosystems they depended on were highly sensitive to climate variability and change. Changes in temperature, precipitation and related outbreaks of pest and diseases could reduce production. Poor people in countries that depended on food imports were particularly vulnerable to such effects, the FAO said.

Sure, shale could power the world. As long as you don't mind drinking a toxic slurry of water that the gas drillers won't even divulge to the Feds when asked what's in it. Oh, that's right it's such a company secret as to the way our water is polluted. (Sarc off). John

Sure, shale could power the world.

Think of what ROCKMAN wrote about shale gas last year. Because of a steep decline in production after a short time you need sustainable high gas prices to continue developping plays to keep production high. With very high energy prices the economy drops into a bad situation.

Edit: Rockman, I saw your comment after posting mine.

On a historical standpoint i cringe at the prospect of destroying shale deposits to power our civilization. Simply from the possibility of all the fossils that they could contain and tell us about earth's past.

TK - the oil produced from the Eagle Ford is not like the "oil shales" (which actually don't contain oil) in CO that have to be mined. It's being produced from horizontal well bores and thus no shales are "being destroyed". With the way the MSM misreports the different plays it's easy to confuse.

Not sure about Canadians, but down here where most seem to think that a "saddle" is commonly found near Dinosaur fossils, I don't think it would appear on their radar...

Creationist Paleontologists Discover Dinosaur Saddle

Mud Flaps, Arizona, March 29, 2006 -- A team of creationist paleontologists from the Discovery Institute's main field research arm announced today that they had discovered the remains of a large manmade object confirmed to be an ancient dinosaur saddle.


This could have been really funny if it had been written by a more talented comedian;but I still got a smile out of it.


Of course it could power the world, just as long as you don't expect to actually use any more than at present. It's amazing how quickly something is depleted when usage rates are higher then "at present consumption rates", compounding is such a bitch.

Obama's Saturday radio talk today is about his energy plan (PDF). Obama seems to have loosened up a bit. Maybe it was the setting...

E. Swanson

Re: Transocean Execs Get Bonuses for ‘Best Year in Safety,’ Despite Gulf Disaster

“Notwithstanding the tragic loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico, we achieved an exemplary statistical safety record..."

...Transocean President and Chief Executive Officer Steven L. Newman received about $4.3 million in cash bonuses and stock and option awards. With other compensation—such as pension increases and cost of living, housing, and automobile allowances—Newman earned $6.6 million in 2010, almost $1 million more than in 2009.

I had to check the date and yes it is dated today not yesterday.

A little local loss of life is regrettable, but apparently unavoidable in the search for energy.

No one I know really wants less energy --they only want someone else to use less. And that probably includes me, when I really stop to examine my actions.

These guys get paid for taking risks (albeit, often with someone else's life and money) and for having the mojo to pick themselves up, dust off, and carry on -- completely oblivious to the "shame and honor" that keeps most of us in line.

True LNG. Just had a hand killed last Thursday in a well head explosion a quarter mile from a well I'm currently working on. Won't see any headlines on the national news. Just one more memorial I won't be attending. Lots of folks killed every day just doing their jobs w/o any notice by the vast majority: delivery drivers, linemen, etc. Some avoidable...some not.

Rockman - Updating our previos conversation, Monday will see the beginning of the JIT investigation into the failure of the BOP on the Macondo well. First up is scheduled to be the guy from DNV who did the forensic report.

I have a lot of quibbles with that report. For example, they postulate that the upper variable bore ram and the upper annular were closed and it was an upward frictional force that induced the bend it the drill pipe between them. I think it was a downward compression force under the weight of gravity that caused the bend.

I would note that they found two pieces of pipe when they cut the riser. And the second fell from above as indicated by the markings on the pipe versus the log of how the string was assembled.

Where did the fuel for the fire come from on the second day if the annulus was sealed off tightly and the drill pipe held pressure? We saw the flow in the pictures. Once the contents of the riser were depleted the fire should have gone out. It did not. So I am still leaning toward the drill pipe being broken as the riser flexed. One possible explanation would be that the dynamic positioning system lost control of engine speed (normally accomplished by adjusting fuel flow to a diesel engine) and the rig suddenly moved sideways at a speed higher than design speed due to the engines running at a higher than design RPM and that snapped the drill pipe allowing gas and oil to flow up through the annulus (as indicated by the pictures of fires from the diverter etc).

Otherwise it does not add up.

Bruce - Yep...the "answers" seem to be generating more questions than we started with.

Maybe this is easier for me to imagine since I have been familiar with dynamic positioning for half a century, since my father did the design for CUSS 1. I distinctly remember him describing how they were going to huge four giant inboard/outboard outdrives to do it. You can see two of them in this picture http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mohopix-1.gif

They started drilling in 1961, so it has been 50 years! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Mohole

For what it's worth:

Boone Pickens explains how natural gas is a logical path/partner to renewables. CNN, 1:00 PM EDT. I'll be in the garden; set to record.

Leann I think you do yourself a disservice by linking to the article "Speculation leads to gas hikes".

When the author writes "They buy the contracts with no means of fulfilling them, hoping they can sell for profit before they are required to deliver goods" he clearly doesn't understand what the hell he is talking about. The buyer of contract doesn't make delivery they take delivery!!When somebody attempting to analyze the impact of futures markets doesn't understand that basic fact the rest of his comment should be considered nothing more than a diatribe - rather than reasoned analysis that is the hallmark of TOD.

That is a student newspaper (Washington State University). It is interesting and useful to read what students are thinking -- it doesn't detract from Drumbeat credibility in my opinion.

I thought that it was pretty well settled by the experts -- "speculation" with "futures" doesn't really have much effect on the long term price of a commodity because the speculator never takes physical delivery.

Is there still some question? Oil is harder to get, and takes more energy to extract and that is why the price goes up, unless the demand goes down. Is it really more complex than that?

I thought that it was pretty well settled by the experts -- "speculation" with "futures" doesn't really have much effect on the long term price of a commodity because the speculator never takes physical delivery.

I actually don't think this is settled at all ... despite economists and other "rationalists" preferring to think they have it all boxed. Physical deliver of a commodity is not a defining feature, and speculation about the future value of a commodity is very real: people will buy things now that they believe they can sell for a higher price in the future.

In fact, it's reasonable to argue that ALL activity in all futures markets is nothing but speculation - based on punters' views about variations in supply and demand, in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

What else is it other than speculative (and why do we attempt to separate out speculators as a particular class of investor that is somehow different from others)? I think it is a very weak argument to suggest that the increasing price of oil is entirely without a speculative component - when in fact it is all about that - even if we don't call it by that name.

Linking in the Drumbeat is not an endorsement. The Drumbeat is a survey of what's being said about energy issues, not an attempt to point out examples of "reasoned analysis."

Tell me about it, have you read the "morons about oil" link. Global climate change isn't real and the authors he's reviewing are too much like liberals and so can be ignored.

As Nate implied yesterday, this site is mainly on autopilot. The links today indeed seem to include some rather cornucopian viewpoints.

Compare that to the fact that I have had a comprehensive book out on oil depletion for the last two months now, and haven't seen a peep of interest from the principals of TOD. The conventional journalism tact is to assign someone to review the book from a critical slant (taking a cue from CC who wrote an impromptu review in the comments). It's pretty obvious to me that they all have their regular jobs to do, and as Nate described the site has "lower aspirations". He said it, not me.

I will keep hammering because I have learned that nothing comes easy.

I have always linked to stories from all viewpoints (including Corsi's claims that oil must be abiotic because no dinosaurs ever walked on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico). That has been my practice ever since I joined the staff of TOD.

If I haven't said it before, I for one greatly appreciate Leanan's efforts. It can't be easy aggregating all of these stories, and I would be at a total loss to find as good a source of daily news as the DrumBeat.

I also appreciate the variety of views represented in the stories. It's valuable to see what people with other world views are thinking, yes, even the "Oil Morons", and besides this site is enough of an echo chamber already.

When I first learned about Peak Oil several years ago my first reaction was "oh great, another Y2K non-event". I searched long and hard for the analysis that would confirm my skepticism, but I never found it. Most if not all of the contrary views at the time were little more than personal attacks on the handful of retired engineers putting out the warnings, mixed with a bit of hand waving about "plenty of oil", all of which immediately set off my BS alarm.

To this day I make a point of reading the cornucopian views, but sadly they have nothing new to offer. It's still the same old refrain "plenty of oil", but with no mention whatsoever of how increasingly difficult and expensive that "oil", or more precisely, ever lower quality hydrocarbons, will be to extract.


I, too have been looking for contrary evidence, data and good scientific reasoning to refute peak oil. I have yet to find much beyond assertions about reserves and attacks against straw man arguments. "There is enough oil to supply the world at current usage for 75 years."

I would like to have seen the effect of the Y2K event had all those programmers stuck their head in the sand as much as the average politician has done over peak oil.

The thing is, Y2K had a date certain for disaster. I note that the reaction with Y2K was all last minute fixes and taking systems off line for completion.

Unlike Y2K, there is no "date certain" for PO. It may have passed. It may have just arrived. And, it may be a decade long plateau.

Moreover, many of the skeptics do not even understand what peak oil means. They deride advocates of the Peak with, "there is still plenty of oil in the ground," and, "the stone age did not end because we ran out of stones." not understanding that PO does not refer to running out, but running short. Nor do they understand or even attempt to do so, the impact of EROEI. and, that the decline will be a curve like the increase of oil production was. Nor do they understand that the faster we drill today, the steeper the decline will be. They are subject, I would suggest from their frequent denunciations of PO advocates as liberals and environmentalists (while some of us are one or the other or both, not all of us are. In fact, many are neo-Liberals, but sufficiently educated, intelligent and thoughtful to learn and comprehend. We on TOD are a very mixed bag, interesting and insightful), to belonging to the cult which worships Milton Friedman, making burnt offerings at the icon of Saint Ronnie the Wrong, and known as The Chicago School.

More than that, the skeptics frequently ignore the impact of exponential growth. Like the bacteria with one doubling to go, the earth may only be half full, but is about to hit the wall as far as population, resources, economics, and possibly life itself is concerned. Thus the question is often asked, "are humans as smart as bacteria?"

I guess you know my opinion on that one.

"Interesting species, Homo Sapiens. Wonder if they'll be missed."


I know this will get all the software language zealots upset but this is my take:

There were two schools to what instigated the Y2K programming crisis.

The old school were the die-hard COBOL programmers who were the equivalent of the fossil fuel consumers, always looking backwards to good times and never anticipating what was to come. You see they only had two digits to store their date information and were naive enough to think this would be sufficient for all the days to come.

Then there was the new school of idealistic Ada software engineers who were the equivalent of the renewable energy industry. You see they had the foresight to treat the concept of time as a built-in first-class abstract data type, and they could generate as many bits as they wanted to look into the future.

Guess who didn't have to deal with the crisis? LOL

I never liked COBOL :) Don't take the anology too far though:

Of course, if people had used dates within their means and recycled, they would never have run out!

Also storing something as a class means having class structure. Which then leads to O.O.P. which then leads to further complexity for doing funky stuff with that. It's now near impossible to find any code example on the internet that doesn't come with 5 class files and 4 XML documents just to write your name on the screen.

(I'm clearly showing showing my age as a programmer)

$ cat test.bac
PRINT "Richard Eis"
$ bacon test.bac
Starting conversion... done.
Starting compilation... done.
Program 'test' ready.
$ ./test
Richard Eis


Now do it in Java from with the data pulled from a postgres database, and formatted to meet Java-good-programming and XML specifications. ;p

-- FYI Complete Ada program to print the current year
with Ada.Calendar, Text_IO;
procedure Print_Time is

I think the two strongest arguments against the idea that peak oil is upon us are:

1) The unknowns--we all know that oil data, in the ME, for example, has been manipulated, and that SA is not forthcoming with full information. This means our data base is not as reliable as we would like it to be. Certain personalities tend to always interpret any such unknowns in the most benign light imaginable. Some PO'ers perhaps tend to the other extreme. But it certainly makes it harder to say for certain what the status of world oil is when various interests are intentionally manipulating or hiding the basic data.

2) The non-conventional 'oils'--basically, this is a kind of goal-post moving. But it is my impression that many people who make wild claims about trillions of barrels of 'reserves' are including not only very heavy, very acidic grades, but also tar sands, oil shale, NGL and who knows what else. The shift to counting "liquids" is part of this. These people do not want to hear about EROEI or increasing expense, much less local or global environmental costs.

I have never found an argument "against" peak oil that has any merit. They all come from people who don't know squat about the subject therefore they are all just silly arguments based on "shale oil" or "oil in Alaska" or "if the government would only let oil companies drill here or there" or some silly nonsense like that.

The arguments "for" peak oil is the data. Oil production has been basically flat since 2005 but net oil exports have dropped 3 million barrels per day between 2005 and 2009. The import-export data for 2010 is not out yet. But basically the oil available to oil importers like the USA is down 3 million barrels per day. The oil available to oil importing nations peaked in 2005. Tell the doubters to put that in their pipe and smoke it.

Ron P.

I agree with that yet don't understand what Dohboi is implying by his point with respect to this specific comment thread. I think he is talking about uncertainties in the system leading to FUD among people following the debate. Does Dohboi think we should be more diligent about a comprehensive Peak Oil analysis because of this uncertainty, or less so because it is hopeless/pointless to put any more effort into it?

We know how Nate assesses the potential futility of doing independent resource depletion analysis:

... the 'unexpected reward' from such analysis isn't what it once was - as there are 'for pay' analysts on wall st attempting similar things

That about sums it up, let Wall Street figure it out, uh huh. Or does it mean that peak oil analysis was envisioned as a money-making opportunity?

I have always linked to stories from all viewpoints (including Corsi's claims that oil must be abiotic because no dinosaurs ever walked on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico).

I can't resist putting this here. It's a couple of oil sands miners with a piece of a dinosaur they just found in their oil sands mine. Note the grins.

Rare dinosaur fossil found near Fort McMurray

It's particularly funny because the dinosaur was not supposed to be there. It is a land dinosaur that probably floated out to sea several hundred miles and sank there because it knew that would screw up Corsi's theories. The area was part of an inland sea when that happened. The oil actually comes from marine biota.

Corsi has a political science degree. What does he know about geology? Pardon me, I think I just hurt myself laughing.

Corsi has a political science degree. What does he know about geology? Pardon me, I think I just hurt myself laughing.

An excellent way to discredit nearly everyone in the peak oil debate. If you excluded the sheer number of wankers who think they know something about the topic...but don't...who would be left to fill up the blogosphere?

Let me put it this way: I have read some of Corsi's stuff, and what he says about petroleum origins verges on complete nonsense. The conclusion I would draw is that he knows nothing about petroleum geology, and gets his ideas from other people who know very little.

Of course a lot of the stuff posted here verges on complete nonsense, too, but I just ignore it and look for the gold nuggets in the mudpile. The signal-to-noise ration is poor, but there is in fact some good information to be found here.

Some of us-the ones mostly interested in the technical nitty gritty- may not appreciate great job Leanan does in posting links because we are much interested in the bigger picture involving the politics of energy and resources.

But the smarter we are, technically, the more we need our noses rubbed in the ignorance of the general public;this will help ensure the conversation here revolves mostly around the politically as well as the technically possible.

We must face up to the fact that technically possible solutions which are not politically feasible are never going to be implemented.

We must face up to the fact that technically possible solutions which are not politically feasible are never going to be implemented.

While this is, by definition true, what is "not politically feasible" in the US, may well be, and often is, elsewhere. And since most of the technical solutions (for reducing oil consumption) boil down to smaller vehicles and/or driving them less, which has been happily done in many other countries, eventually, this will, by necessity, have to happen in the US. I think the real problem is that, for once the US doesn't set/lead the trend, in this case it would be following it - a tough pill to swallow - and a poisonous one for any politician.


Honestly, I still think you did it on purpose. After the april fools posts, this is what is actually written. I hope it is so.

Don't get me wrong, i'd much rather have all news from both sides rather than that slanted to my tastes. It's our belief that we can pick and choose our reality that got us into this mess in the first place.

Don't I know it. I have a whole chapter of how to argue with cornucopians. But the fact that the links are posted with no editorial comment on the DrumBeat makes it incumbent on us commenters to deconstruct the wild arguments. In other words, without the comment section many passers-by might actually take that garbage as being somehow correct.

I have had a comprehensive book out on oil depletion for the last two months now, and haven't seen a peep of interest from the principals of TOD

Though I am against the public posting of emails, since I wrote it, I don't mind posting this:

Email to webhubbletelescope 12/21/10

Happy Holidays Webster
Regarding your new pdf, I'd be happy to excerpt/advertise on TOD if appropriate

Or any other posts you think would fit.

Take care,

Never heard back.

Assume that some other author wrote a book. In publishing you don't need permission to review an author's work and I am certainly not going to review my own stuff.

I am certainly not going to review my own stuff.

Sorry, couldn't resist this :)

Why not? After all, you "review" everyone else's stuff around here!

4 stars and a thumbs up for a witty rejoinder.

Never heard back.

Nevertheless Web, if I had gotten an email from Nate offering to review my book I would certainly have given him the courtesy of a reply.

Ron P.

I think TOD management has been very kind. A continual advertisement for WHTs "book" is well beyond what has been allowed for others. Constructing comments just to get a mention of it in, and the url, is getting a little old.

Don in Maine

I suppose the "continual advertisement" goes both ways.

Sorry for another gratuitous link to The Oil ConunDrum, but if you look at the "book", you will find about 60 separate gratuitous references to TOD writings in the document, and this is what I put in the introduction on the bottom of Page 7:

Since much of this work sprang from real-time blogging efforts on internet sites frequented by people interested in peak oil topics, much of the vetting has come about from pragmatic or critical evaluations of others willing to dive into the details. Navigate to a site such as http://TheOilDrum.com and you can read contributions to get an idea of where the data trends lead us to.

The moral of the story is that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.

The problem here is miscommunication.

Nate is asking you to prepare a TOD keypost summarizing your book, and to him, it seems as though you are not interested in presenting it on TOD.

I would certainly present it on TOD if asked. I would write, here lies the book I recently completed, and then take the contents of the preface as a post. It would be about the same thing as you would see on Amazon as a book blurb; the difference is that someone could consume or skim the whole thing for free if they want, which you can only partially do with Amazon.

So the miscommunication I believe was only in the fact that this could have been an entry on a DrumBeat post. Yet I don't recall seeing any DrumBeat mentions unless you want to consider the times I mentioned it in a comment thread. That was the main implication of my stating that there had not been a "peep of interest" from any of the principals at TOD, after I had made the announcement of completing it. I would have expected at least a blurb on the DrumBeat and appreciated (in my dreams) a critical review by an independent voice as a keypost.

That was my level of expectations, as I realize that a significant fraction of DrumBeat readers don't read the comments (even though they probably should, e.g. seeing the anti-Corsi commentary). Expecting to see something in the DrumBeat would be nice since that would get it to a wider audience.

So it wasn't for the lack of dropping hints. The folks at the Energy Bulletin put a quick blurb together on their own and Big Gav did one at his own site.

I really don't understand what the deal is in my not responding to an email. Looking at the date, Hagens sent me the email about the time that I went for a 2 week Christmas holiday in the mountains with an old PDA to communicate with.
The accusation seems to be that apparently I missed responding to a single email about a month before I completed the book. If that is considered the epitome of bad practice, I should have been fired from my regular job long ago :)

The reality is that TOD has nothing to gain from being persistent and diligent in getting alternate voices out there (substantiated by Nate in his "lowered aspirations" comment), whereas I have nothing to lose by being repetitive in my effort to get the word out.

I don't post blurbs up top if the link has already been posted in the comments. Aside from the occasional cross-post, where I miss the comment. I just don't think it's necessary. If it's posted in a comment, it doesn't need to be posted up top. If it's posted repeatedly in the comments, it definitely doesn't need to be up top.

TOD may be slightly different but at typical news aggregation sites, over 95% of the readers don't read the comments. And of that fraction that read the comments, even fewer participate.

I read the comments to correct the misinformation for those people willing to dig, but its a fact of life that not everyone wants to dig.

That is why most bloggers edit the top-level post if they see something interesting in the comments or need to correct some information. Alas, that is not the standard practice at TOD.

Hi Webb.

TOD may be slightly different but at typical news aggregation sites, over 95% of the readers don't read the comments.

I don't know how far outside the norm I am (being an occasional commenter and all) but there are some days when I'm short of time that I read only the comments. I consider the contributions of the regular commenters to be as valuable and interesting as the key posts. The participation of the writers of the key posts and the site's editors in the comments section, and of the commenters writing key posts, makes for an unusual type of back and forth.

My last thought is that the open thread sections are essentially user-generated content. I suspect that anyone who started reading the site because of the Macondo open threads and stayed, stayed partially because of the comments.


You comment so you don't count except as an anecdote.

Among other things I do interactive simulations in my regular job so I know a bit about user interface research. Consider the 90-9-1 rule which Jakob Neilsen documents here:

In most online communities, 90% of users are lurkers who never contribute, 9% of users contribute a little, and 1% of users account for almost all the action.
Blogs have even worse participation inequality than is evident in the 90-9-1 rule that characterizes most online communities. With blogs, the rule is more like 95-5-0.1.

This is stark participation inequality that follows the dispersive power laws that I consistently write about (to the consternation of many I might add). Lots of people lurk at the most convenient top level, and then progressively less and less the deeper you get. Like all inequality the more effort you have to put into it, the fewer people you will find. That is just the way that the statistics works out and so anecdotes turn out to be meaningless. For everyone one of you there could be 1000 other people with different habits. I just looked and TOD has around 30,000 visits per day and the average visit is about 40 seconds, which means people scan quickly and likely miss the hundreds of comments.

The admins of this site probably have a better idea of the stats and their readership but it is probably not far off.

I tend to just scan through the news list and then read the comments in full, if a story has been commented on then I may look at the original story, as it has referenced to, it probably has something in it worth reading!

I view TOD as a consumer, in a similar way to a farmer watching the weather forcast. The problem is, which set of storm clouds is going to dump on me first!

TOD may be slightly different but at typical news aggregation sites, over 95% of the readers don't read the comments.

Web, I gotta agree with Lloyd here, I would bet the vast majority of readers of TOD are here for the comments. There are many other ways to get the headlines posted on TOD. In fact I have read most of them well before they are posted on Drumbeat. None of them originated here you must know.

The comments, including yours, add spice to the story. And occasionally we get something original in the comments and often, also in the comments, we get a link that we would never have found from news.google or any or our other searches.

Many other blogs like Seeking Alpha have a comments section where what you say would be true, that 95 percent of the readers are there for the story, not the comments. But that is not the case for TOD because the comments are our reason for existence. Without the comments we would not exist.

We are far more than slightly different, we are totally different from The Huffington Post, Seeking Alpha and other blogs with a comments section. Our comments section is our raison d'etre.

Ron P.

Unfortunately the admins of this site can't tell how many people read the main page versus read the comments.
Most people will open the "there's more" link so the web server can not establish an accurate count.
Second, many people use strictly an RSS feed which does not include comments. They also post a PDF version which obviously doesn't contain comments.

So they will never know how many don't actually read the comments.

I don't think it makes sense to bring for example the HuffPo into this. Some of their stories can easily generate 10,000+ comments which dwarfs that of TOD. Yet no one in their right mind can actually read all these, so you have to admit that the significant fraction of the people only read the main story. I suspect the same here.

Don't get me wrong in that I like the comments. The couple of times I did a keypost, I asked that they post it when I have a chance to respond to comments, which is usually off hours and weekends. If you compare this site it is not as good as other sites where the original posters are much more engaged. It is rare when you see much back and forth between posts and comments. YMMV.

Our comments section is our raison d'etre.

Agreed absolutely. I usually just scroll down the DrumBeat stories, reading the headlines of most, the paragraphs of about 20% and the actual story for one or three. The comments are what make TOD great - I'm not sure it would matter much even if there were no news stories posted (though I do appreciate the effort Leanan puts into compiling them).

The sheer variety of viewpoints is great - this leads to plenty of disagreement but that is fine too - everything is up for discussion - many other blogs, such as those mentioned, often have a fairly narrow x-section of commenters.

For the year and a half I have been on TOD, I have learned more from the commenters than the news stories themselves (the key posts are in a class of their own) - may this continue!

Hi Ron,


Also agree, I skip the stories themselves. If there's something truly newsworthy people will be talking about it in the comments.

These responses are not statistically valid. You won't see the negative responses because the people that could respond in the negative don't read this far.

Sorry but this is a common statistical bias in surveys. You can't do surveys to only home phone numbers and ask the people if they still use their home phone. Everyone will say yes and you won't get the people that only use mobile phones.

Well that's very true.

Wasn't trying to sway the modus operandi of Drumbeat - was merely displaying camaraderie with those that do similarly.

No problem, just pointing out the issues with "confirmation bias".

Ron, Ditto!

I skim the links....only, then go through the comments looking for particular folks who know what they are talking about and then go back to stories to corroborate or fill in the details of what was said. However, if I am getting late for work like now, I only read the comments. I particularly like hitting the comments a few times during the day to read replies, etc. Love the "new" feature.

Without the comments and posters I would not be here.

Ron, I really like and appreciate your stats. I would not have any time to find this as I go flat out all day long.

raison d'etre.



re: "If that is considered the epitome of bad practice, I should have been fired from my regular job long ago :)"

IMVHO - it's not a shame/blame thing, as I see it.

It's more like this: It's good manners to respond directly to emails, even if one does nothing more than acknowledge the message.

Not that we always do it, mind you...and it sometimes takes a while.

However, someone is going out of their way to establish human contact.

This is a wonderful and, sometimes, courageous thing to do, in this day and age.

Yes, Aniya, You do realize I do respond to emails, as you can tell from an email I replied to you from a month ago.

I have been racking my brains trying to figure out why I didn't respond to Nate and thought initially it was because he sent me the email at the start of my Christmas vacation and somehow it got flushed by the time I got around to it.

Just now, as a lark I decided to check my pretty much dormant GMail account and sure enough it is sitting right there. Why oh why Nate used that email address I have no clue, as that isn't the one I advertise, and for sure it isn't the one I put on my http://TheOilDrum.com/user/WebHubbleTelescope personal information page!

So I will personally respond right now to Nate and tell him that I appreciate his suggestion.

When one creates (writes) something out of the ordinary, something which goes above and beyond what is standard and accepted in whatever realm one is in, it is virtually impossible to not have pride of authorship with the attendant ego attachment.
When that achievement is effectively ignored by the audience, especially a self-selected audience which likely thinks of itself as reasonable and critical thinkers, it is extraordinarily easy to get a hint of bitterness or a somewhat dismissive attitude towards(especially) a day late/dollar short type of questions.

I have been in that situation. It is extremely frustrating and WHTs restraint so far is pretty amazing. When I was in his situation I ended up just walking away from the situation.


There are a bunch of ways to engender antagonism on the TOD site. Here is my list:

1. You can antagonize a few of the Luddites here who think we should regress in technology just by using math in some analysis. Math=bad and a sign of incipient technology.

2. You can antagonize some of the science fiction types who have flighty ideas just by keeping the ideas grounded in physics and applying some critical thinking. Corollary, be careful about saying anything bad about Azimuth or any other SciFi author.

3. You don't get doomers on your side if you don't write anything about doom and try to remain objective based on what you discover.

4. You can antagonize people that don't believe in modeling and think data drives everything. They twist Box's quote of "All models are wrong, some are useful" into a meaning completely divorced from his original context.

5. You can antagonize the in-crowd of geologists and earth science types by encroaching on their territory and calling them on something.

6. You can antagonize people by challenging commenters who spout some nonsense. That's tough sledding.

7. You can antagonize the occasional cornucopians who show up here. Big whoop.

8. You can antagonize a few people by using some big words and potentially talk over their heads. They think we need to raise Carl Sagan from the dead to do the interpretation.

9. You can antagonize people by annoying repetition. Counter: that's how Faux News operates (and why we need Westexas)

10. You can antagonize people by appearing to possess some intelligence, who then sense that you have a superiority complex.

11. You can antagonize people by writing in an active voice, which often gets misinterpreted as an egocentric form of conversation. See #10

12. You can antagonize people that don't like lists by putting a dozen things together in a list

Above all else consider this quote from the ace journalist George Monbiot:
"Tell people something they know already and they will thank you for it. Tell them something new and they will hate you for it."

auto-pilot ... "lower aspirations"

Regarding: raising aspirations.
Could any feature(s) be added to the User Interface to allow this site to more quickly identify and develop hypotheses?

I think I know what you are talking about. You can imagine one dedicated thread per hypothesis or idea and that thread is indexed and kept alive over time.

Doing this is no problem, as that is essentially the way that the http://peakoil.com forum or http://physicsforums.com is set up. Those have idea threads that go on for months. As with all things, you just need a critical mass of critical thinkers to keep it going.

The other idea is to maintain a Wiki. You can't use Wikipedia because that doesn't allow hypothesizing. But you can see how this could work if you check out http://AzimuthProject.org where they allow some creative input.


re: "I have had a comprehensive book out on oil depletion for the last two months now,"

What's your book?

Aniya, it a Google book and is published on the web: The Oil ConunDrum

Then to get the book you must click on the link in the first line of the text (in bold below):

I synthesized the last several years of blog content and placed it into The Oil ConunDRUM.

Ron P.

Go to The Oil ConunDrum and you will find a link and a brief introduction to the book on applied theory of oil depletion.

Compare that to the fact that I have had a comprehensive book out on oil depletion for the last two months now, and haven't seen a peep of interest from the principals of TOD.

Maybe it's a really boring book.

Or, more likely, it's simply being presented to the wrong audience. People here are looking for quick, Euclidean, layman discussions. WHT's paper may be better suited to being presented in a more formal situation - i.e. a lecture series.

... Euclidean ...

It's not easy to not confuse a potential audience.
"What the heck did he call me? I tain't no clidion!"

Lol! ;-)

not an attempt to point out examples of "reasoned analysis."

If it was that would eliminate most links to MSM ;)


Part of the charm of "Drumbeat" is that it includes many points of view. Excellent fodder for the commenters here. I miss it on the days it doesn't come out ... spoiled I guess.

Oil output is halted in Gabon as strikes sets in

LIBREVILLE, April 2, 2011 (AFP) – Almost the entire oil production of Gabon, sub-Sahara’s fourth largest producer, was halted Saturday on the second day of a strike against the employment of foreigners in the national petroleum firm. Petrol pumps ran dry in the capital city Libreville while no oil supplies emerged from the African nation’s sole refinery Sogara at Port-Gentil, its oil capital, due to the strike called by the The National Organisation of Petroleum Employees (ONEP). ONEP, which has between 4,000 and 5,000 members, called the strike from Thursday at midnight to obtain new rules on the employment of foreigners, whom the union considers to be taking jobs from Gabonese nationals.

Gabon was producing, before the strike, about 225,000 barrels of crude + condensate per day. If the strikers win then foreign nationals will likely be gone for good. That will include engineers that was basically running the show. I am betting that Gabon oil production will never return to 225 kb/d.

Ron P.

It's a safe bet that if this strike goes on, they will never return to that 225 kbpd.

The United States imports a considerable percentage of Gabonese crude oil


I don't think the US State Department expected this, or other extensive problems across MENA.

Oil exporters are falling like dominoes, and as I said just last Wednesday, a loss of any oil exports from Nigeria to the US will have rather severe consequences here fairly quickly. Northeast US refiners are highly reliant on Nigerian oil, and with Libya shut down, there is no viable alternative.

Today's news concerning problems launching the Nigerian elections does not necessarily mean oil exports will be restricted, but those of us with long memories may remember a civil war in Nigeria from 1967 to 1970 where oil was an important factor.

Not to mention the upcoming split of the Sudan does not look to go smoothly.

Does anyone know if the US can impose oil product export controls under WTO rules?

the US can impose oil product export controls under WTO rules

Sure - but they'll be as effective as The League of Nations was at keeping world peace.

Sure - but they'll be as effective as The League of Nations was the UN is at keeping world peace.

Strike shuts Gabon oilfields

Some 50% of the country's 220,000-240,000 barrels of daily crude oil output will be shut by the end of the day, with the rest scheduled to be halted within 48 hours, Guy-Roger Aurat Reteno, secretary general of the ONEP union said.

MARKET WATCH: Oil prices rise on concerns of Libya, OPEC exports

“Already growing unrest and recent attacks on oil pipelines have reduced Yemeni oil production (260,000 b/d) by some 70,000 b/d, and foreign companies have evacuated their staff for safety purposes,” Barclays said.

Russia Daily Oil Output Lowest in Three Months in March

Oil output in Russia, the world’s largest oil producer, fell to 10.2 million barrels a day in March, the lowest in three months, according to an e-mailed statement from the Energy Ministry’s CDU-TEK data unit.

FOR ALL: Could Shale Gas Power the World?

First, I’ll repeat what most on TOD are as tired of hearing as I am of saying it: “the usually sober U.S. Energy Information Administration more than doubled its estimates of recoverable domestic shale-gas resources to 827 trillion cu. ft. (23 trillion cu m), more than 34 times the amount of gas the U.S. uses in a year”. Again this reserve projection is meaningless since they don’t offer the NG price assumption. Trillions of cu ft at $15/mcf...not so much at $4/mcf. So what is the 827 T’s based upon?

Now to a statement so grossly inaccurate it borders on an absolute lie: the shale gas boom is responsible for “leading to rock-bottom prices for natural gas even as oil soars.” In the spring of ’08 NG hit $13/mcf. Within 6 months pricing were rapidly sliding below $4/mcf. The demand destruction brought on by the recession drove prices down. In reality as more NG came online from the SG drilling boom prices were rising. The fall of NG prices knocked the SG players like Devon and Chesapeake to their knees.

Make no mistake there are sweet spots in some SG plays that are economic to drill at current prices. And when prices rise by 300% - 400% we’ll see a big increase in SG drilling. We do have a huge proven NG resource in these shale formations. But it requires a price support that is very inconsistent with the term “rock-bottom prices”. BTW the red hot Eagle Ford SG play in Texas is not a SG play. It is a red hot shale oil play. The NG is a side effect.

Rockman - If you convert the fleet of heavy trucks and buses, replace the use of No 2 heating oil, and phase out nuclear power plants by building out natural gas, the price might well go up.

And the 34 years supply at current rates of consumption would also be considerably shorter.

Maybe it could save the world for 24 years. If I start on a baby like now it will be enough until he or she graduate from university but not enough for a PHD.

I guess this is assumption is based on a uniformly excellent distribution of gas. The question how large the variance is and if it could be assumed that the rigs are able to drill only the best spots now. If the drilling is done more or less randomly within the shale areas I would assume that where is a lot of gas left. But if seismic or other methods could be used to determine accurately where to drill and not to drill I would assume where could be a lot less left.

In other words if the companies abandon onshore cheap to develop leases for example in Texas in favor of deep water and Alaska it could be assumed with reasonable certainty that the large good prospects in Texas are all drilled. If companies abandon cheap to develop shale gas leases at the same time as more expensive leases are develop I would be certain that the cheap to develop leases would assumed to produce less or maybe not at all.

The big question is more expensive to develop leases within the shale areas are preferred over cheaper?

If the drilling is done more or less randomly within the shale areas I would assume that where is a lot of gas left. But if seismic or other methods could be used to determine accurately where to drill and not to drill I would assume where could be a lot less left.

I don't think that came out the way you intended. I would phrase it as the perception of there being much more gas left if they drilled randomly versus if they accurately determined where to drill. In other words, not knowing something gives one larger variances to work with, even though there is the same amount below the surface in each case.

This is the key to understanding reserve growth as well. If prospectors new exactly how much was available within a field, there wouldn't be a phenomenon named reserve growth. The math of dispersive reserve growth comes directly out of handling this uncertainty in terms of probabilities. All early estimates are underestimates and the reality sets in as the estimates mature. That is a large proportion of the so-called mystery behind reserve growth.

Web. I think what he means is the average quality of remaining prospects would be expected to decrease with time. I offer an oversimplified thought experiment: there are exactly 1000 places to drill, and we have the capability and desire to drill fifty every year. Assume case (A) we have no means of discerning the quality, so quality wise the drilling order can be considered to be random. Case (B) our geotechnology lets us determine with moderate probablity the better prospects, and these get drilled first. Now compare probableistic production versus time curves for the two scenarios. Production rate (after an initial transient) would be quasi-steady for case A, but for case B would peak pretty early, and then fall off as (on average) the lower quality wells were brought online. So if we are limited by drill-rig count, the future prospects of production rate depend strongly upon which case is closer to the truth.

Reading Karl's first sentence again I now realize that there is something missing at the end, or that his "where" is meant to be a "there". Unless he straightens that out, I am guessing as to his intent.

I still think that the total=cumulative amount left is roughly constant whether it gets extracted randomly or scientifically. But what you are saying is that it is a production throttle imposed by incompetence. I can buy into that but that goes against the trend of more and more technology applied every year, so Karl's claim is a bit of a strawman then.

“reserve growth”
How can a fossil fuel reserve grow in size? The only thing which may grow is either our awareness or technological prowess to access that reserve, but the reserve itself does not grow or shrink (absent extraction of course).


I assume that it is primarily "our awareness" of the size that grows. Remember that the SEC rules prohibit speculation on the size of an oil reservoir, so in general you always see under-estimates of the actual amount.

That is not to say that other factors can't contribute to reserve growth. I have seen mention of diffusion and drift into a reservoir from outside the reservoir, new technologies that have unlocked oil previously inaccessible (such as in the Kern River of California), and the possibility of accounting procedures that combine two separate reservoirs as one. The last one is a zero-sum growth scenario as it doesn't contribute to overall reserve growth.

"Reserve growth" is really an artifact of SEC rules. They require oil companies to book oil reserves at the 90% probability level - i.e. there is a 90% probability that the reserves exist. There is a 90% probability that they will increase as a field is developed, and a 10% chance they will decrease (hate it when that happens) These are called "proven" reserves (P1).

Internally, companies will have a much more realistic estimate at the 50% probability level. There is a 50% probability that these reserves will increase as a field is developed, and a 50% chance they will decrease. These are called "proven plus probable" reserves (P1+P2). They are more realistic because they are the companies "best guess" at how much oil they have. They might increase, or they might decrease, but on average they should stay the same.

US companies won't release these estimates for legal reasons, but oil companies in other countries often will. This can be a source of confusion for people comparing US reserves with those in other countries, since they assume the same rules apply, but often it's an apples versus oranges comparison.

There exist a third category of reserves, "possible" reserves (P3), which companies use for exploration purposes. These are at the 10% probability level. They are useful for identifying exploration prospects, because a 10% chance of getting a big find is pretty good. Unfortunately, people sometimes get hold of these "possible" reserves and confuse them with "proven" reserves, which is highly misleading because there is a 90% probability that they don't exist.

An example would be the Alaska National Petroleum Reserves, which the USGS originally estimated to contain 10.6 billion barrels of oil. That was obviously a P3 estimate because last year, after companies drilled it, they knocked it down by 90% to 896 million barrels (a P2 estimate).

In some OPEC countries, all their reserve estimates seem to be at the P3 level.

Merrell - Yep...essentially turns into what seems like a perpetual chicken and egg roller coaster. The real change in the game IMHO is how quickly (several years) these cycles will run. Neither the economy nor oil patch funcions very well in such time frames.

"replace the use of No 2 heating oil" with natural gas.

Since I live somewhere that does not have natural gas available, I'm wondering how much overlap there is between users of heating oil and natural gas availability. I have not seen a CNG and certainly not a LNG tank system intended for home use.

Propane is commonly used, though expensive. But I don't think converting methane to propane is what you meant.

Reserves are not based on the price of a commodity, which was Hotelling's approach. It's geology and feasible extraction methods.

The question is whether there is enough capital to increase the
share of shale gas from 15% to 45% of production. Given the fact that it didn't exist before 2004, it probably isn't a problem.

OTOH, it's hard to believe that natural gas will replace oil or coal.

827 Tcf of potentially recoverable shale gas out of 2552 Tcf of total natural gas.


The US has about 200 Gb of oil and has used up 100 Gb, there's
30 Gb of reserves and 70 Gb of undiscovered oil mainly in GOM.
The US has a potential resource of 500 Gtons of coal with a 50%
recovery rate.

It's just a geological assessment.

maj - That definition doesn't work at all. I can easily prove there are 3 billion bbls of oil "reseves" sitting just 5,000' below the ground in coastal Texas in just one formation. And I can produce every bbl as long as economic viabilty isn't a factor. Likeise I can produce every cu ft of that 2552 TCF if I'm not constrained by ecnomics.

Again, I have the technical capability to produce millions of ounces of gold from the oceans even if it does cost more to do so then gold is selling for. But that leads to a simple question: so what?

Likeise I can produce every cu ft of that 2552 TCF if I'm not constrained by ecnomics.

Right. I think that's what EIA is saying. It's an upper limit.

If you look at coal for example, they characterize coal deposits
by thickness of seam, depth, area, grade, etc. Then they put on a recovery factor. For example, a 3' thick seam of coal is technically mineable but would it make sense to mine it? OTOH,
you couldn't get more that 50% recovery from an underground mine without undermining the overburden.

What the reserves don't count is new technology. In the case of
coal, a new method like underground coal gasification could conceivably increase the recovery factor but probably not above the 500 Gt coal resource.
However, I think the idea that techno-breakthroughs will save us is VERY unlikely in the next 50-100 years--it's amazing how much things don't change.

You may have 3Gb under Texas but what is the likely technical recovery factor? What is the economic recovery factor?

I think what you are really talking about is the 'law' of diminishing returns applied to fossil fuel reserves.
Say the efficiency is such that a extraction process is 90% economically efficient, then perhaps the cumulative amount of extraction would be less than a convergent geometric sum like
1 + .9 +.9^2 + .9^3...=10.
It's just a kind of mathematical illusion like EROEI.

Or it might be related to falling energy density, however
it could also be the reverse as heavy residual oil has more energy in it that light oil. Does shale gas have fewer BTUs than conventional
natural gas? The btu rating of US coal is falling a small amount overtime but the efficiency of mining is rising faster.

Again, I have the technical capability to produce millions of ounces of gold from the oceans even if it does cost more to do so then gold is selling for. But that leads to a simple question: so what?

The technological limit for leaching gold is 500,000 ppt in gold bearing soil. The limit for obtaining gold by sight (panning)is 30,000,000 ppt (30 ppm).
The amount of gold in seawater is 10 ppt.
You just can't take the claim seriously.

Extracting rare elements from sea water(even uranium) is not the most realistic way of obtaining them. You need a more down-to-earth counterexample.

I'm a long ways from an expert but from what I read there are problems with shale gas. One is high initial production with a quick decline followed by a long tail of low production. As the article says, lots of new wells all the time. That is expensive. Secondly, anyone who buys any companies claims without reservation is making a big, big mistake. Anytime you're listening to an agenda, you're not getting the truth. There will be problems and lots of em with shale gas. And I really enjoy the Cheney type comments ie there will be collateral damage like distroyed property, destroyed water wells, massive spills, etc but that's the price we have to pay. Course it's a price I'm perfectly willing to pay as long as it's not me.

But we're in the initial phases of all this. Sky high hype to draw investors and most certainly to keep the American consumer ignorantly smiling. Endless cheap energy. Happy motoring everyone!!

My last point is we're now chasing ever more difficult fuels in ever more risky places with ever increasing consequences. Just keep reassuring me the consequences are none to small and won't affect me. Game on folks!! The ride will be interesting.

re:The Math of the New Drilling Boom

I have analyzed this chart before

It has two very obvious interpretations. Say you have a rate limited output R, and you can add N rigs with individual rates r to the mix. Then the identity holds R = N*r. The curvature of the points is just the hyperbola r = R/N, while decreasing R forces the curve to move to the left with time.

The other reinforcing interpretation is that the rate remains proportional to the size of the reservoir while the cumulative reservoir sizing distribution goes as a hyperbolic 1/Size. Over time, the average reserve size depletes so the entire curve shifts left.

Its hard to tell which of these is the stronger of the interpretations, but it is quite telling evidence against the "drill, baby, drill" philosophy. You put more rigs out there and all you are doing is slicing up smaller pieces of the pie or you are just finding the smaller pieces that nature intended you to find.

see The Oil ConunDrum

This may be apples and oranges, but that looks similar to the "discoveries per foot of exploratory drilling" curve. Any connection?


It is indeed very similar to those charts you have shown in the past, Jerry. Prospecting assumes an uncertainty in how deep they can go when finding oil. The prospectors overdrill and then only after the fact realize that they came up dry. So the amount of feet drilled versus barrels shows a hyperbolic asymptote of a very similar form.

I see the "drill, baby drill" philosophy as the "Drain America First" argument. As long as OPEC accepts dollars that are sure to decrease in value as time goes by in exchange for oil that gets more valuable then we should import as much as possible. The arab deserts cannot produce enough food for their people so they need the money either for food or for bullets. American farms are the world's most productive and our ammo production ain't bad either. One way or another some of those dollars come back home.

Corn Demand Shows No Slowdown

The continued decline of the U.S. corn supply was confirmed in Thursday’s Grain Stocks Report from USDA. That short supply is now turning into a potentially dangerous situation, says Jerry Gulke, president of the Gulke Group.
The question for now is where demand will be curbed. Gulke says there are two ways to look at that. First, is ethanol plants could start selling their corn inventory because it has better returns than producing ethanol. The same holds true on the livestock side where you could see producers begin selling their livestock and selling the corn. That’s a worst-case scenario.

Eat tortillas, not beef.

Or grass fed beef.
As a bonus, you sequester carbon.

That is exactly what my wife and I eat -- local, grass-fed livestock and other produce from farmers we know and trust. It is amazing how hard that is to pull off!!

Main problem is that the government and corporate food producers have made it almost impossible for local farmers to get meat to the market -- it's all about my "safety", of course.

In Marin I can do it without much trouble.
If I travel to Souther California, it is really challenging.

The Midwest? Impossible.

Or grass fed beef.
As a bonus, you sequester carbon.
and produce methane,
Personally I think it was what a wonderful example of forward ecological thinking when we got rid of those flatulent buffaloes

I'll take my tortillas filled with Puerco Enchilado a la Plancha, if you please!

The question for now is where demand will be curbed. Gulke says there are two ways to look at that. First, is ethanol plants could start selling their corn inventory because it has better returns than producing ethanol. The same holds true on the livestock side where you could see producers begin selling their livestock and selling the corn.

IPT's Market to Market analyst thinks demand will be curbed by feed lots switching from corn to wheat. Also some inefficient ethanol plants may shut down in July and August. See discussion at about 19:30 in the link below.

Ethanol plants are not likely to shut down now because corn is still available and ethanol and DDG prices are also rising. Ethanol plants hedge their corn needs. They've made gains on corn futures contracts they have purchased. They can sell these contracts at any time to capture these gains. Moving physical corn out of their storage bins is unnecessary and costly.

Currently dairy farmers are having a tough time as talked about in this week's Market to Market:


My brother is a small dairy farmer. He has shut down due to high corn prices and low milk prices.

Of course I like high corn prices. I missed selling at the previous high and rode March's big dip down kicking myself all the way. But now we are back at new highs again and likely headed higher if oil continues up. Still have about half of 2010's corn crop unsold.

Love it.

My brother is a small dairy farmer. He has shut down due to high corn prices and low milk prices.

Of course I like high corn prices.

How cut-throat capitalistic of you. Or was that a family agreed hedge plan? You can support him if things head one way and vice-versa if the roles are reversed.

Pushing ethanol via wild arguments is another element of game theory you seem to rather enjoy.

Niether of them can do anything about milk prices.

Mosdt of us have a lot of fun out of X but he is considerably smarter than that same "Most of us" realize-he is just coming from a different perspective, and his professional education is different from ours.

I strongly disagree with a lot of his positions, some on the basis of long term principles, and actual fact in some other cases, but he obviously knows more about ag commodities marketing than anybody else regularly commenting on this site.

It would behoove us to try to glkean some useful insights from what he has to say, rather than just dismissing him as a messenger.

I'm a Darwinist thru and thru, but I have learned more psychology from the study of the KJB than I did in two years of university courses, some of them post grad.

I am a basically a free market capitalist( but not laissez faire) but I have also learned one hell of a lot by reading Mao,Hitler, Lenin, Marx, Chomsky, and other major thinkers of different stripes.

I am opposed to putting good corn liquor into gasoline tanks for all the usual environmental reasons.

But I have also posted a basic question about ethanol here numerous times previously, hoping for an in depth answer from someone with the relevant professional expertise.

In terms of the dollars and cents that drive just about all the day to day decisions made by just about all of us, when we are willing to tell the actual truth, rather than preening and showing off our environmental tail feathers, just how much is the ethanol program actually costing us?

I strongly suspect that while the effect of it is lost in the noise of generally rising oil prices, and thus not noticeable, that we as a society may be earning a considerable positive return on the subsidy, due to the highly inelastic nature of oil prices.

From the Agweb story:

"The stocks report was very surprising. With higher prices, you would think we would use less, instead we used more. In fact, a lot more than we did last year at this time."

I like the disingenuousness of this. Especially in light of the fuel mandate and subsidy.

The numbers, readily available from the Renewable Fuels Association's website, show that corn consumption for ethanol has been growing at 20% compound annual since 1997, and it's now about a third of the crop. (Of course growth won't continue at that rate - it can't.)

From x:

IPT's Market to Market analyst thinks demand will be curbed by feed lots switching from corn to wheat.

Oh, great. Wheat prices rise some more -- they are already set to rise, because some wheat farmers are switching to corn. So that means continued unrest in poorer countries.

Anyone want to guess the next country to receive "humanitarian protection of civilians"?

Right, the comment on switching to wheat is nonsensical. The wheat crop being decimated by an unheard of heat wave in Russian and surrounding regions is what started off skyrocketing grain prices. If oil prices would have stayed low that would have killed off the ethanol producers and more corn would have been available to make up the wheat shortfall. A perfect storm ensued instead.

Corn consumption will be falling soon.

I pretty much agree.

Remember that ag producers are a price taker, not a price maker. Given the commodity, it may be 1-3 yrs before a producer's effect is felt in the market, and usually the market is reacting other ways by then.

The big fear I alluded to below is falling prices, producers know they are coming, just when. The consumer is reacting to high beef prices now, who is buying that $5-15/lb retail beef right now? Not many. If it climbs much more, consumers will be driven away even faster, and those high slaughter cow prices can collapse seemingly overnite.

There is also a feedback loop operating.

As the price of inputs needed to grow corn goes up, the breakeven cost the farmer needs to get goes up. So the crop is going to go to the buyer able to pay the highest price, which is not going to be the poor people in some distant land.

The wheat crop looks pretty decent so far this year.


Greg: It may be closer to 40% of the crop as ethanol production has been running at 900k Brls/D. That translates to about 5.1 billion bushels @ 2.72 gallons/Bu.

Ethanol: Pros, cons fuel debate over its worth


The problem with small dairy farmers is that they are small dairy farmers because they need a regular income and do not have the monetary reserves to wait for a year to pay off there bill, when they sell off there crops, or wait another year if things go wrong. They also have too sell too large dairies who can quickly fix low prices, they are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

The same holds true on the livestock side where you could see producers begin selling their livestock and selling the corn. That’s a worst-case scenario.

Since I try to wear a humanitarian hat, I'd call that is the best-case outcome.

Also the best for the cattlemen that stay. Feeder market is a killer for buyers this spring. Here's hoping slaughter cows can hold till fall.

This morning, the price of regular gasoline at my neighborhood Chevron station in Vancouver is 1.357 CA$/liter x 3.785412 liter/gallon x 1.03810 US$/CA$ = 5.30 US$/gallon. Two days ago it cost me $54 to fill up the tank of my subcompact Toyota Yaris, not far from the $60 it cost me in the summer of 2008. These prices are now starting to bite the local drivers in the wallet, and I've noticed a moderate decrease in traffic in the last week or so.

Every driver I talk to complains about the price of gas, but absolutely no one admitts that it's going to affect their driving habits in any way. But I believe these are just words of defiance/denial -- of course they're going to drive less, especially if these price levels prove sticky.

I don't drive much, so when I filled up my tank this morning, it was serious sticker shock. Gas near $4/gallon meant I paid more than $30, when I was used to about $20.

But I don't think people are driving less around here. The roads are clogged, the parking lots are full, malls and restaurants are hopping. It's a huge difference from a couple of years ago. (How long it will last is whole 'nother question, of course.)

And according to the "news", unemployment is down, inflation is clearly up (food and gas), consumer demand is way up, confidence is rising --

I am baffled. Maybe Ben Bernanke is the wizard he thinks he is?

One more last gasp of the growth machine. This latest attempt at growth, however, will be strangled in the crib.

I think there may be a lot more gasps. Economy starts to rebound, oil prices rise as demand increases, recession ensues. Rinse and repeat.

Besides the oscillation as oil demand grows with economic improvement, leading to higher oil prices, leading to economic slowdown, etc., there is slow but ongoing effect of economic adaptation to reduce oil consumption, either by efficiency or by substitution.
Personally I think the developed world has a long way to go in adaptation to oil depletion, so while I expect economic cycles to continue as they ever have, with the effects of FF depletion and the bumpy plateau superimposed, I think we are a long way from the "Final Collapse" or "Last Gasp" that some envision.
Maybe before we go straight to Mad Max, we will move out of our McMansions, trade our SUVs for Prii or bikes or feet, stop using ethanol and start eating cornmeal, wear a sweater and turn down the thermostat,etc. Since much depletion adaptation is quite technically feasible, but politically impractical, I expect an unsustainable politics to eventually yield to physical reality (but not without plenty of anger, shouts of "Drill, Baby, Drill", and blaming the human-hating enviros (instead of a finite planet)).
Fun Times Ahead!

Maybe before we go straight to Mad Max, we will move out of our McMansions, trade our SUVs for Prii or bikes or feet, stop using ethanol and start eating cornmeal, wear a sweater and turn down the thermostat,etc.

That's not how the market works. People individually don't "use a bit less" (present company excepted). People won't voluntarily move out of their McMansions or trade their SUVs for bikes.

About a quarter of the money spent on fuel leaves the country and is not seen again. Increase that amount, and that is money not spent on fast food or clothes or movie tickets, so jobs are lost. The loss of a job means huge changes for the individual, but to the market it's just a tiny drop in demand.

That's how we will adapt: with chronic high unemployment and increasingly widespread poverty, while those who still can, cling to their McMansion and wonder what happened to the neighbors.

LNG - If I heard the story correctly unemploymnt is not down. It was the number of new folks applying for unemployment benefits was lower than the last month. They stated that 7 million were unemployed...the highest number since they they began tracking this stat. Also, while the job growth was around 230,000 there was also around 180,000 new workers coming to the market place that month.

Well, today is the day to do a dump run and fill up my 4x4 truck and a bunch of 5 gallon gas cans that I use to keep the truck tank topped off at home. I've used a ton of gas the last few weeks due to our snow and having to use the truck to keep our mile long private road open.

What's today's tab going to be? About 20 gallons for the truck and 20 gallons in the cans. Total about $160! That sucks.


$4.059 for regular this morning. Town looks like the post-peak, or at least the post-peak travel, world...very quiet on the highway. I don't think it has been posted yet, but the highway is closed about half an hour north of you, for at least a few more days.


Morning Mike,

For those who don't know, we are talking about Hwy 101 in northern California. This is the major coastal road going north. The slide is actually about an hour north of me. What has interested me is how much longer it is taking to get stuff to Eureka, et.al. since they have to use I-5 and Hwy 299. I wonder if stores will raise their prices if they have extra shipping costs?

I can't see where they'll get the slide cleared enough for even one way traffic in the 3 days they are claiming. Glad I hadn't done a COSTCO run up there and was on my way home. Ugh!


PS I loved the way the town was in 1972 when we bought our first property here. Dead as a doornail. Remember the barn that was where the bank is now or the livery stable by the high school? And, the town picnic? Those were the days!

Didn't move up 'til '85.
It would make a fascinating study (MBA thesis?) to look at business income for the 2 week period B4 the slide, during the slide, and again for the 2 weeks after it's cleared. My son's neighbor Clarence (everybody knows Clarence...former CHP,and an independent trucker) got caught on the wrong side with a load of hay and had to double back about 4 hours, with diesel at $4.29. Ouch.

American Ghost Towns Of The 21st Century

There are several counties in America, each with more than 10,000 homes, which have vacancy rates above 55%. The rate is above 60% in several.

Lake County, MI
Vilas County, WI
Summit County, CO
Worcester County, MD
Mono County, CA
Dare County, NC
Dukes County, MA
Sawyer County, WI
Burnett County, WI
Aitkin County, MN

These are mostly rural areas that relied heavily on tourism and second homes.

On Tuesday the Des Moines Register had a story about Dallas County, which they called the richest county in Iowa, cannot afford to fix washed out roads or replace unsafe bridges. When the richest county can't afford routine maintenance and infrastructure investment what does that say about the anti- tax politics of the Iowa GOP?

If only every penny of tax collection was done away with and every word of government regulations were rescinded, then surely John Galt would emerge from underneath his community's invisibility cloak and ride into Iowa and the rest of the country and get those roads and bridges into tip-top shape...it'll cost ya 50 cents per mile (Paid to AmeriRoads Inc.)to drive on 'em though (prices and other terms subject to change without prior notice).

Dallas County appears to be far-suburban sprawl from De Moines in its eastern part. Large, pricey homes are there according to a quick look at zillow.com. Also according to zillow, the home prices have been dropping rapidly in that part.

The rest of the county is rural with rural towns. So I can imagine that as Des Moines contracts geographically, the eastern side of Dallas County becomes a very expensive to maintain ghost town. Perhaps some of the 5 bed, 5 bath 10,000 square foot homes can be turned into group housing for the elderly who don't want to move to Arizona since they won't be able to afford trips back to see the grandkids.

the Des Moines Register had a story about Dallas County, which they called the richest county in Iowa, cannot afford to fix washed out roads or replace unsafe bridges.

Well, there seem to be a few problems in Dallas County that relate to the tax structure:

Dallas County officials hear pleas for paving

Budget cuts have forced officials in Iowa's wealthiest and fastest-growing county to close roads instead of paving them, despite pleas from residents to upgrade roads to keep pace with the area's booming population.

The basic issue is simple - taxes are too low to pay to fix the roads.

Dallas County officials said the road funding problem is simple: Construction costs have roughly doubled since 1989, the year the Legislature last increased a gas tax that provides money for local roads.

The first problem is that Iowa fuel taxes haven't increased for over 20 years. As a result, even a rich county no longer has money to fix the roads.

But the fuel tax issue doesn't explain all of Dallas County's financial problems.

While the county is the wealthiest in all of Iowa, it is last in county taxes per capita, said Hanson, the county supervisor.

Property values have increased as major commercial developments have sprouted in recent years, but the county can't collect those property taxes because of business tax incentives, Hanson said.

The second problem is that, although they have lots of rich businesses, they aren't taxing them to pay for services.

George, the county engineer, recommended that the board close portions of Xavier Avenue because annual floods have made it too expensive to fix. The Board of Supervisors will vote on the issue later.

So they would prefer to close roads than pay higher taxes. Sounds like they are suffering from multitude of self-inflicted wounds. The first thing they need to do is get in touch with reality and realize that if you want government services, you have to pay for them.

There ain't no such thing as free lunch, or free roads, either.

Well said RMG,

I am always amazed that people think somehow roads get built and maintained without being paid for. You can have any standard of roads you want - you just have to be prepared to pay for it. if you want someone else (e.g. prov/state and/or fed gov) to pay for it then you have to wait until they are ready to do so - which is usually a long time, if ever.

Sounds like this county won't be the wealthiest in Iowa for very long - rich people like their nice roads - don;t want those SUV's to have to drive on {gasp} gravel.

I wonder if that will happen where I live. Roughly 80K median income, but a lot of homes are unoccupied in foreclosure. More importantly, the housing double dip has arrived, and prices are less than half of what they were at peak. Californias prop 13, means property taxes are revised downwards whenever prices drop. It's great for us home-owners, but the loss of revenue for the county/town must be ferocious.

California's tax system is something of a recipe for disaster in an economic downturn. I means government tax revenues evaporate just when it is needed the most.

California built an incredibly expensive freeway system in its heyday, but it didn't make much provision for maintaining it. The construction was designed to look good, but not last very long. Similarly, its education system was among the best in the world at one time, but is rapidly eroding away along with other civic services.

If you compare the German autobahns to the California freeways, they cost about twice as much per mile to build, but they will probably last four times as long. In addition, the Germans have no qualms about raising taxes or imposing tolls to pay for maintenance. They realize that you get what you pay for.

More importantly in the post-peak-oil era, Germany, unlike California, did not dismantle its urban railway system after WW2. Most of it has been upgraded in recent decades with new lines and slick new vehicles.

The German autobahns that I saw were two lanes each way, and no breakdown lane. The freeways we build are 6 lanes plus a shoulder, minimum, and sometimes we're crazy enough to build 6 lanes each way! No wonder we can't afford this!

I got to see Tirol, in Austria. That area is mountainous and rainy, so they don't dare overpave. Most of their roads are 2-way, 1 lane! When you meet oncoming traffic, you have to slow down to 5MPH, edge out into the grass, and the other guy does the same thing. THe only 2 lane roads are the major highways, and the 4 laners are the autobahns.

I also noticed that they have a lot of roads that probably date back to the Roman area. Important roads, that connected food imports from the Danube valley to Rome. And, very, very narrow roads. Therre's a system of footpaths that is associated with Catholic pilgrimages to Rome and to Compostela, and those are the roads that get the most respect. If you walk or bike on those roads, you see everyone's houses facing you, and the stores open towards you. The autobahn is a service alley. Noise walls and loading bays all along it. Definitely not the way to travel in style.

We really need to learn from the Tiroleans.

Since everyone on this site seems to be a doom and gloom'er, the smart thing for Iowa, California and everyone else to do is quit fixing roads altogether, since obviously there won't be any gas for the vehicles to use on them anyway eh?

There are a few of us that want to maintain a positive outlook while not avoiding reality altogether.

Obviously, the average road in the USA is much wider than in other parts of the world. That could be a starting point.

I think that a better solution would be for these states to put in rail transit, since fewer people will be able to afford to buy fuel in the not-too-distant future. You can always tear up a couple of the inner lanes on a freeway and put down tracks.

The problem is that when the crunch really hits (as if it hasn't started already), governments will not be able to afford to do anything. They won't be able to afford to fix the roads, and they won't be able to afford to build rail transit. They probably won't even be able to afford to buy new buses, and the buses won't be able to negotiate the innumerable potholes in the roads at any speed.

The latter brought back nostalgic memories of travelling in South America. Conditions in the US are getting similar.

I think that road can be easily and cheaply fixed. The problem is the as we have got richer we set higher standards,for our roads which increase the price exponentially, while not adding anything too the utility.

I live in rural Holland, last year they fixed the road in our little hamlet. I was talking too my father-in-law while watching the gangs of workmen doing all the work. He mentioned the fact that when he was young all the road were sand roads what the council did was prey tar and then cover it with gravel, it took a few men a couple of days. Today it took a team of men about two month all the top surface was ripped up and carted away. One problem was that all our rainwater from the roadside drains runs downhill into Germany a couple of hundred yards away. The Germans didn't want it going into there sewage system so they had to dig a very large deep trench with a large diameter pip run all the roadside drains into it and build a large soak away pit at the end of the road that was a mammoth undertaking . We have now got pavements and new street lighting they have even put in sunken searchlights to shine on the beautiful chapel to illuminate it. The ultimate was that they put in a crossing for the blind at the cross roads. The fact that there are no blind people in the 50 people in the hamlet seems to be missed on the council.

I have to admit that whoever planed it did a beautiful design job they have also landscaped it planting several dozen lime trees and numerous bushes and flower beds. I don't know how much it has cost but it must be several million. The point is it has not improved the utility of the road, before they did it I could still walk on a level tared surface to my father-in-laws farm or the pub next door. Yes it is beautiful but it was beautiful before, it just look a bit more scruffy.

It says more about the politicos who built all that infrastructure without a way to fund maintenance.

I'm guessing the slide was triggered by the heavy rains (which stopped about a week ago). Now after three eighty degree days, I've noticed many of my plants have sprung into high growth mode. Just 24hours ago, I was depressed that my Japanese Maple must be dead -no sign of any buds, just dead leaves from last fall. A few hours ago, it was covered with brand new 2-3inch leaves!

Hey Todd and WharfRat, a few miles north of you in Arcata.

I haven't noticed any change in prices or attitudes with the main artery closed (Hwy 101). Eveyone seems to be taking it in stride, like we did with the tsunami on the 11th.

Regular gas was $4.20 before the slide, and now up to $4.30, but I expected that, slide or not.

I hope this is a sign that where I live, people won't instantly freak out if something falls apart.

Also glad to learn that all the spent fuel at our local, long shut-down nuclear power plant is already in dry storage and suitible for, what do you call it, Walk Away Mode. Of course, the fuel is still there, 25 years later....

Lots of people from Nor Cal on here. I'm in sunny Fortuna myself.
I was able to tour the grounds of the old nuke plant, as well as the new ICE generation plant, with my Energy class from College of the Redwoods. It is very comforting to have seen the casks first hand, especially after seeing what a tsunami can do. (The plant is at sea level, and on top of an active fault) It was my understanding that they are still planning to ship the casks off to a permanent site some time in the future. Most of the low-level radioactive materials has already been shipped off to repository in Utah. Eventually the only thing left on site will be the new ICE plant.

It was a bit of a shock to show up and see guards armed with automatic weapons. Also had to submit to a background check before we could tour the site. It made me wonder how cost effective nuclear can be. It can't be cheap to guard the spent fuel for thousands of years, and those casks are going to have to be replaced periodically. Being stored on top of a salt water marsh certainly doesn't help.

Video of the slide on 101:


This One,

Thanks, that was interesting! As an aside, I only spent about $135 at the gas station because I left one 5 gallon Jerry can at home - 30 gallons of gas and 5 gallons of propane.


PS It is interesting to know that there are several posters from northern CA. We should all get together some time.

Got a good one for you here in NJ...

I pass a gas station on the way to work, the only one on my short commute. The unleaded price last night was $3.46, a price which has held for about 2 weeks.

This morning it was $3.56, up 10 cents. When I left my shop 3 hours later it was up another nickel, to $3.61.


I pass a gas station on the way to work, the only one on my short commute. The unleaded price last night was $3.46, a price which has held for about 2 weeks.
This morning it was $3.56, up 10 cents. When I left my shop 3 hours later it was up another nickel, to $3.61.

I'm not surprised, but was surprised it hasn't happened yet where we are a couple hours north of SF, CA. If you've been watching commodities this past week, on Wed. up over 4 cents, Th. up 4 again and Fri. up over 4 cents a gallon again! Here's a good link for oil & gasoline price increases:


Yes. I fill up the Prius about every week to 9 days. For a while I was putting in $14 worth, but lately I seem to increase the purchased amount by a dollar over the previous fillup. So even at 50mpg, it starts to take its toll.

Gasoline will continue to rise until people stop using so much of it. Whatever price you cannot afford to pay will be the price it goes up to.

If people don't cut their consumption, then at some point demand destruction will do it for them. At that point they will lose their jobs, and at that point they will stop driving so much. Same scenario as in 2008.

This time around, one of the factors is the same - OPEC producers, notably Saudi Arabia, are not keeping up with demand despite their claim they have reserve capacity.

A factor not present to the same extent in 2008 is that this time the Chinese are moving into the market and outbidding other consumers for oil. Their consumption is much higher than in 2008, whereas OECD countries' consumption is about the same.

Quit buying it.
The airline price hike failed:

European Commission Aims to Phase Out Gasoline- and Diesel-Powered Cars in Cities by 2050

An E.U. body has outlined a plan to phase out most fossil-fueled cars by 2050.

Europe already has among the highest fuel taxes in the world, and Europeans are already used to smaller cars, more transit and more walking than elsewhere in the developed world.

Yet in a white paper released Monday, the European Commission said that to meet climate goals by midcentury, gasoline- and diesel-run cars must disappear from cities.

Excellent but wish they would move it up to about 2020. Not a peep of course from the U.S. about doing anything of significance to reduce car use. We apparently think we can fix everything with better gas mileage and electric cars.

OPEC Output Down as Libyan Loss Tops Saudi Gain, Survey Shows


Production slipped 363,000 barrels, or 1.2 percent, to an average 29.022 million barrels a day, the lowest level since September, according to the survey of oil companies, producers and analysts.

Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest producer, increased output by 300,000 barrels, or 3.4 percent, to 9 million barrels a day in March, the highest level since October 2008. The kingdom exceeded its quota by 949,000 barrels.

Saudi Arabian Oil Co. Chief Executive Officer Khalid Al- Falih said last month that the kingdom is “ready to supply incremental change in demand,” to cover any shortfall from Libya.

This piece of news is the most important one in the last few months, in my humble opinion.

Remember how boastful the Saudis were right after Libya?
It was 'no problem' to 'cover the entire shortfall'. This was repeated time and time again.

They've failed. Of course. Now it's an 'incremental increase'.

People just don't hold these people's feets to the fire. What about the 'ideal' priceband of about $70-80?
That the Saudis are pathological liars is one thing, but how can the dimwits at times referred to as 'journalists' not even notice this to a significant scale? Why are there no real articles in the MSM about this, on a continual basis? It's not like it's a hard job seeing their systematic pattern of making overblown claims and then failing to meet them.

For me this has settled it, beyond the even slightest shadow of a doubt; The Saudis just can't do it.
This is their limit, or extremely close to it. I very much doubt they'll go much beyond 10 mb/d, if they can even get to that. And this is consistent with what Al-Husseini(the ex-chief geologist of Saudi Aramco) stated in his ASPO 2009 video, they can't get much higher than 10 mb/d in production. And again, notice the distinction between output(production) and exports. They are still below their 2005 exports peak, on the 6th year running. For me, from now on, anyone who talks about any 'Saudi spare capacity' in any significant terms is an uninformed clown. It's a chimera: an illusion.

The only way you could possibly reconsile the events of the last year with the wishful (and desperate) thinking of the supposed 'spare capacity' is if the Saudis want to intentionally destroy the world economy and systematically lie about it, claiming to prefer a more stable priceband of about $70-80 dollars instead as well as a whole host of other things, all of which have proven to yet another Saudi lie.

But that's starting to become irrelevant. Here's something that's not:

Brent is already 20 dollars ahead today compared to where it was at the same date in 2008. WTI is ahead of almost 10 dollars.

2011 is 2008. The only thing that keeps the economies growing now are the massive injection of stimulus, which creates an artifical demand. Once the stimulus starts to decrease(and most probably even far before that), the economy will sink like a stone. Again.


Here are the Brent data I posted yesterday:

Name: Brent Blend
Last known price(Today, 2011): 118.27
4 Weeks ago: 116.27
1 year ago: 82.14
3 years ago(This same day, 2008): 98.79

Since the Saudis have failed to do anything of importance, and the massive stimulus cannot continue forever, I for one am already preparing post-crash since a few days now. We are not going to have lower prices. Without Saudi Arabia, and summer season just creeping up on us, something's got to give.

I've even bunkered up a little food, for the first time. Nothing much, but enough to keep me fed for a few weeks if something really bad happens.
I'm also moving out of most of my stocks. I'll rebuy them, maybe, if the economy will spurt up a tad. We might just hit the bottom from now on. If too many nations/banks bankrupt we could simply see an outright depression with no real end in sight. Like Japan in the 90s but on steroids.
It would be the long emergency, coming at us full force.

BAU is certainly dead. It's a telling sign we need ever bigger deficits to keep up a way of living which is simply unsustainable. At some point all the interest and debts will simply become impossible, the ever-increasing unemployment, social and possibly ethnic strife etc.

I'm pessimistic about the situation from on here onwards.

As best as I can determine, the Saudis did not step up production by 300,000 bpd to 9.0 mbpd in March, but rather earlier in mid/late January. However even though they did increase output, they made no attempt to increase exports until about March 15. I detailed possible reasons about this before.

It now appears that they did actually increase actual and expected exports on average about 300,000 bpd from March 15 to April 15, including that special blend discussed in an article up top.

Curiously oil tanker operators do not expect any extra supply from the Persian Gulf after April 15. Possibly this is related to increased political strife, strikes, and even pirates/terrorists in that area.

At a minimum, OPEC (and others including Mexico in another article up top) are basically lying that they are actually attempting to cover the losses from Libya, and they are even deceitful about the effort of Persian Gulf exporters to send an extra 700,000 bpd supply to the market, which would only cover about half the losses from Libya.

At worse, spare capacity is just a chimera that approaches almost mythical proportions in the mind of the 21st century man.

US oil product (diesel & gasoline) supplies are going to be under great stress, due to increased exports to the EU, Latin America, and now there are some gasoline shipments even going to Japan. Surprisingly one large diesel shipment went to China last December. It is doubtful that the US will escape a shortage of gasoline and/or diesel by late in the summer, unless the US somehow grabs a higher share of world oil exports. Probably the only way the latter will happen is if the US starts outbidding the rest of the world, which would lead to even higher oil prices.

I find it remarkable that gasoline in Albuquerque has remained at 3.47-ish for the past couple of months.

Very little play in the local media about gasoline prices.

Plenty of new rather large pick-ups and SUVs on the roads.

Roads packed with traffic as ever.

I listened a little bit today to CNN Money...Ali Vershi talking to T. Boone Pickens and Bill Richardson about how we could have been free of OPEC oil by now if we had just followed the 'Pickens Plan'.

TBP went on about how much cheaper an amount of NG equivalent to the same energy-equivalent amount of diesel, and about how all 18 wheelers should be powered by cheap, plentiful, American NG.

The utter lack of any critical thinking comments/debate about these assertions made my head hurt. No discussion of supply and demand and price changes in NG should we attempt 'the plan'...no discussion of the costs of converting existing vehicles or buying new vehicles to take advantage of NG....no discussion of how long NG would last if we ramped up NG-fired electricity production, used NG for heating at or above today's levels, and also attempted to convert a significant portion of our cars and trucks to NG.

Just talk about how 'plentiful' and 'American' our NG is.

Ali is a talking head clown. During his next segment he tried to assert that 2.5 Billion folks in developing countries were "getting richer and richer" and were going to demand more of everything from cars to ipods to iphones to ipads etc and that the U.S. could be poised to gain more jobs by feeding the needs of these 'newly wealthy'.

The woman on the show (the only one with brains talking)countered that the U.S. may be in a 'new normal', where companies do not increase U.S. employees but squeeze an increase in productivity, as well as build the stuff the World's noveau middle class wants...overseas, not in the U.S.

Then Ali tried to segue to an angle about how Americans could maybe gain jobs by catering to the new rich foreigners as they travel to the U.S. for work and pleasure...talking about service jobs in the tourist industry!

I guess we will be well-supplied with reasonably-priced oil well into the future to support this tourism surge into the U.S.

What a bunch of hooey.

       WARD'S 10 Best Selling U.S. Cars and Trucks			
                        3 Months 2011				
	Cars				Trucks	
1	Camry		76,821		F-Series	126,627
2	Corolla/Matrix	76,675		Silverado	92,455
3	Altima		69,551		CR-V		57,433
4	Accord		66,195		Escape		55,953
5	Fusion		65,023		Ram Pickup	52,739
6	Civic		64,968		Equinox		43,230
7	Sonata		51,878		RAV4		39,840
8	Cruze		50,205		Rogue		35,024
9	Impala		49,541		Sierra		33,945
10	Malibu		48,745		Edge		31,444

A lot of the truck volume is now the CR-V, Escape, Equinox, RAV4 and Rogue small crossover SUVs.

Aside from Toyota, many of the import car makes did very well in March. Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Nissan all had year-over-year sales growth better than either Ford or GM, the large truck specialists.

No discussion of supply and demand and price changes in NG should we, etc., etc., etc.

Isn't that always the way things start out: We have a problem over here, so let's use that stuff over there and all our problems will be solved - ah, in a word, NO! Just as you alluded to, the price of NG will go up as demand goes up, and as demand goes up supply will struggle to keep up with demand and the price will rise.

Then suddenly those people that went to all the trouble to convert their vehicles to NG and can only purchase the stuff at certain locations, will be bemoaning their plight.

Fact is, we are a point now when all the plan B's are starting to sound good. The tar sands, heavy oil, coal gasification, shale gas and so on. That should tell us a whole lot about where we are along the peak oil plateau approaching a production descent.

Unless they are deliberately raising their amounts slowly to see what they can get away with. After all, they are currently making more money on the higher prices...and America HAS to buy... and who wouldn't like to see the U.S. dance for their amusement.

Or it's not worth the extra cost to raise production for what they probably see as a short time, so they are doing the bare minimum to placate.

They can always turn around and say they raised production and maybe if America wasn't guzzling twice as much per person as everybody else there would be a lot more to go around.

I know i'd like to!

re: The 'sensible environmentalist'

If Patrick Moore claims to not believe in imminent peak oil yet uses a pro-scientific position to argue against Greenpeace tactics, he is a good target with scientific oil depletion arguments. He is easy to expose for his hypocrisy as he labels his arguments as "the only logical approach".

Also, we know nuclear "can be contained". /sarc

As for doubting solar can work in Africa, take a look at solar cooking in Tibet...

link broken?

Those are just toys. When it comes to solar cooking, go big or go home...

World's largest solar cooker, 772 sqm (7700sq.ft) Taleti, India, from inhabitat.com;

It boasts of a six-module solar steam cooking system and a total of 84 parabolic dish concentrators shell type receivers. Each oval parabolic concentrator has a reflective surface area of 9.2 square meters, and reflect sunlight on the receivers by special white glass pieces. Steam is collected in the header pipes, which is then directed via insulated pipes to cooking vessels in the kitchen.

The system generates temperatures of up to about 650 degrees, and 3500-4000 kg of steam per day. The food is cooked in 200-400 liters capacity cooking pots, producing an average of 20,000 meals a day, and up to 38,500 meals per day during periods of peak solar radiation maximum.

The reflectors used here are the Sheffler reflector, a very cleverly designed elliptical reflector with one-axis rotation that focuses the sunlight onto a single, fixed point all day long. This means the receiver can be a an oven/pot located inside a building, a heat tube (as shown), or even a PV panel (though you would want some serious water cooling) .

I am quite impressed by this system - the ability to focus on a fixed, external point solves a great deal of problems - you can even have two reflectors focus on opposite sides of the same collector (if you look carefully at the picture you can see a line of almost horizontal dishes to the left of the tube are the 2nd set). A good explanation of the reflector is here here

They're not toys, Paul. They're just small, and their users don't have to "Go Home", as they're already AT Home..

Which one would survive an earthquake?

Which would you be able to bring with you if you had to leave your home?

I'm not against the big installations, but resilience means having a balance, and not being blinded by bulkiness..


'A fable' by Ralph Waldo Emerson

THE MOUNTAIN and the squirrel
Had a quarrel;
And the former called the latter "Little Prig."
Bun replied,
"You are doubtless very big;
But all sorts of things and weather
Must be taken in together,
To make up a year
And a sphere.
And I think it no disgrace
To occupy my place.
If I'm not as large as you,
You are not so small as I,
And not half so spry.
I'll not deny you make
A very pretty squirrel track;
Talents differ; all is well and wisely put;
If I cannot carry forests on my back,
Neither can you crack a nut."

I think the biggest problem we face in the transition off fossil fuels is one of expectations. The framing is that renewables need to replace fossil fuels at our current "standard of living".

If one backs that expectation down several orders of magnitude, and understands that solar and wind applications can dramatically improve a very basic standard of living - burning dung, for example - it is clear one should be using what's left of the fossil fuel supply to product as many low-level, high-functioning solar and wind applications as possible.

Not large installations - small, distributed installations. I think our biggest problem is viewing everything as too large-scale, based on the fossil fuel experience.

This is one reason why I view the notion of renewables as "fossil fuel extenders" to be inherently flawed. It suggests prolonging the current standards as long as possible, before we crash down to nothing.

We have to be dramatically downsizing, but there's no reason we can't be meeting the most basic necessities of life using renewables. Trouble is, most "first world" dwellers have forgotten what the most basic necessities of life are. Hint : not an iPhone.

Politics is the art of the possible. There is simply no way that any politician - democratic or not- can ask for a population to "dramatically down size". Any solutions however elegant they are that are based on that hypothesis are just mind games with no real world application.

If folks can't find a way to a solution dealing with human beings as they are rather than as they should be then I think they should be preparing themselves (more likely their grand children) for the collapse.

I largely believe that all the attempts at reducing GHG is a waste of time and money. Not because climate change is not real but because nobody in India and China is going to tell their people that they can't live like Americans in the interests of the planet. Instead of wasting time with CFL bulbs we should be thinking about how we will survive the inevitable climate change.

I agree that no politician is going to ask a population to "dramatically downsize".

I disagree that energy-savers are a waste of time, because at least they get people thinking in the right direction. If you can get someone to change a lightbulb, perhaps you can get them to grow a garden, or insulate their home.

I do think there will be a forced downsizing anyway - whether this is stair-step or massive collapse is yet to be determined, although I prefer to think about it as stair-step.

I agree that we need to plan for extensive climate disruption - I see this in my neighborhood already. Unusual thunderstorm activity, mainly, along with excessively warm and humid summer conditions, likely to worsen.

You mention population and China and India, but both of those countries have population policies--those of the former have been some of the most aggressive in the world. Bangladesh, a constitutional democracy, also has quite an aggressive population policy. So it is not the case that no politicians anywhere can ever do anything about population. The same could be said about consumption. There are very high taxes on gasoline in much of the world implemented by politicians.

The question is not whether these policies can ever be implemented--they can and they have.

The question is what approach is best of any particular political situation, and what combination of events in the world might end up driving public opinion toward saner expectations.

Hi Bob - don't mistake a bit of Saturday sarcasm on my part as being blinded by bulkiness. I agree with you about the concept of balance, and in the case of solar cookers, I'd say there are many, many home size solar cookers out there (and they have their right to exist) but it is very rare to see any community scale solar facilities, and this is an example of what can be done. To feed 18,000 people from one solar cooking facility is a significant achievement.

While solar cooking is great for home/portable use ( I enjoyed a sun pizza myself on camping trip a couple of years ago) this examples shows how it can be used on a commercial scale - if you asked a person in the street they would likely say it couldn't be done This installation has been operating at this university since 1998 and is the primary fuel source for the campus kitchen, which formerly used diesel fuel. It has saved a lot of it over the last decade.

The smart part of the system is the reflector and its ability of this reflector to focus on fixed, external point, all day long, opens up many possibilities. There are numerous village kitchens and bakeries and water distillation systems operating with these systems - something that the normal, portable ones, have been largely unable to do.

Yes, the tube and steam system could be vulnerable to an earthquake, but the reflectors themselves are a lightweight, flexible structure (you actually warp their shape every few days to maintain the focus).

And they are locally built by the townspeople too;

All this is not to say the portable ones don't have their place - I just think this system is a very good example of a scalable solution - and that is something that has been largely absent from solar cooking development


Hi Paul;
In fact, I'm very pleased to see the Sheffler dishes spreading around the world and showing their versatility in paralling up to a considerable range of sizes.

But I do hope you can appreciate how unhelpful and insulting the language you were using ("They're Toys, Go Home") is to people who are trying to show that this 'little, lightweight technology' is, in fact durable, cheap and very helpful. EV's are called toys here all the time.. regardless of how many are using them for work or to get to work.. Hummers are called a lot of Names, but their 'Toughness' seems to give them a pass on the Toy Label..

Frankly, the voice of those with access to excessive amounts of power, chuckling at those who have very little, even if sufficient amounts of it, is a legacy of the Age that we're heading out of, whether we look at it as Fossil Fuels, the Industrial Revolution, or its Politico-Economic Grandfather, Colonialism. It's a derision, even if you want to say it was just a silly Saturday joke, that every day serves to remind poor people that they are not worth anything. The fear of that ridicule is keeping many people from doing ANYTHING that hints at being thrifty or economical, and being seen as desperate and pathetic.

Your practical experience running the power systems for that Ski-resort gave you some very clear understandings of the mechanics and various interactions involved in supplying them power.. but I'm sure you've also had a thought or two about where the Economic Power came from to create that kind of a community in the first place. I grew up downhill skiing in Western Maine, but nowadays, the energy and water implications of that 'sport' make it almost entirely unenjoyable for me. It's one of those pieces of 'Invisible Big Power' that I can no longer ignore, no matter how well muffled it is.


"No Bucks, No Buck Rodgers.." Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff

PS- Tone-of-voice is hard to transmit well (for me anyway).. I appreciate the discussion points, and am not 'mad' as I'm writing this.. but I am serious that I think we have been trained, me as a Prep-school WASP, to feel it is beneath us to speak with a concern for how others will hear our words. It gets sneered at as 'PC'.. and I think it is a DIRECT outgrowth of English/Euro Colonialism, and that stiff-lip and Big-stick have made us act in ways that blocks our understanding of why 'force of will' often doesn't yield the results that we were promised it would.. or that it works, and then blows up in our faces (cough, cough, Japan.. ) We have to be reminded that 'Bullying is not just a form of Tough Honesty.. it's the leveraging of a Force Advantage to antisocial ends.'

Having read the information at your link, I agree with you.

For those who espise the idea that 'bigger is worse all the time', please read this:

Long-term Operation

Since 1987 about 200 "small" solar-kitchens with 1 to 3 Scheffler-Reflectors of 8m² each were built - mainly to cater for boarding schools in rural areas. How well these kitchens are used depends on various local conditions and the involved individuals and institutions. In some places they are used enthusiastically on every sunshiny day - even in the morning before the sun comes up (where there is a storage-system integrated). In other places the kitchens are used rarely or even not at all. Best results show in India, where - among the kitchens with 1 to 3 reflectors- about half are used on control-visits.

An entirely different picture shows for the big installations of steam-powered kitchens. The systems are always in use (apart from monsoon-time) and well maintained. All technical problems are solved - sometimes after consultation- by the operators themselves. Solar Energy is used to its maximum and the owners are proud of the installation.

1998 the first big solar steam kitchen for 1000 people was inaugurated. Until now many more have been set up, even India's biggest temple, the Tirupati Temple in Andra Pradesh is equipped with 105 reflectors.

There are often economies of scale to consider.

I encourage folks with the 'anything bigger than a 2-person operation is bad' worldview to open their mental apertures...there is room for a various implementations of this and other ideas along the spectrum of scales.

And of course, you are just misrepresenting my position, and the point this thread has moved in by inventing the obligatory Extreme.

It's simply rude to turn what I've been saying into "anything bigger than a 2-person operation is bad" .. and "those who despise the idea that 'bigger is worse all the time" Even if your comment wasn't responding to my posts, you have created your own strawman to topple.

The fact that I was responding to a comment that called smaller cookers "Toys" and said "Go Home" seems to show that it's the opposite side of the argument that has been simply dismissive towards the smaller solutions.

It's great that there are cooking systems that are feeding large numbers of meals, and that they're being well used.. but a great many people cook family to family, and in the midst of poverty and the daily grind, asking them to change centuries-old cooking approaches is necessarily going to be more hit-or-miss, dependent upon culture and micro-climate and other factors than perhaps it is with an institutional approach.. so as ever, I will continue to say it is a Both/And issue, and NOT and Either/Or


I think we are in fundamental agreement.


I will continue to say it is a Both/And issue, and NOT and Either/Or



...there is room for a various implementations of this and other ideas along the spectrum of scales.



Since I started us down this track I might as well finish it too. I will third the motion there is scope for both large and small - while I could have chosen better words my intention was to highlight that very large systems exist, though you never hear about them.
This is not to denigrate the stand alone folks - for cooking, often a very individual pursuit, this is fine.
I do think the Scheffler is a potential game changer - the fixed, separate focus point simplifies lots of things, especially for scaling up to small commercial (e.g bakery) and village situations.

What really impresses me about the village scale solutions, is that in places like India the people seem to embrace them in a way we rarely seem to. I have not been there but a friend of mine who lived there for a year said it was amazing how co-operative the village people were with each other - they all had a stake in the future of the village, and successes were shared. A successful solar cooking system (or, what he saw, a very efficient wood burning oven and cooking system) were set up for the use and benefit of the village. So one decent size facility gets lots usage - very resource efficient. Of course, this may change as the people get more affluent and can afford things for themselves, though I was told for many of them that is just not in their culture - why have a thing sitting around, when other people can benefit from it?

This outfit in Rajkot, that makes Scheffler reflectors, also makes an amazing variety of village scale equipment - from oilseed presses to popcorn machines to steam engines. The owner knows that this sort of equipment saves a lot of back breaking work, but is beyond the reach of individuals to own - but small companies and villages (often one and the same there) are dial for this - the equipment and will get used enough to justify their existence. Of course, we replaced the village with the company, which often grows to have different priorities beyond the village. They make lots of things on a scale considered too small by American co's - their anaerobic digesters (biogas) plants, are done at the household to village size - here the "economic minimum" is about a 200 cow dairy/feedlot. They are also not regulated/red taped out of existence, as are many small companies here, be it by the gov, big co's or the nimby's - somehow, none of this seems to be a problem in India, they just get stuck right into it.

I have had some correspondence with the owner of this company. One thing he doesn't do is diesel engines - he said there are 5000 machine shops in his area doing diesel engines/parts (and are setting them up to run on biogas)! Sounds like the American auto industry in 1908. So, the spirit of invention and enterprise is alive and well there .

India is doing largely by the spirit and energy of their people (as opposed to gov control in China) and I think the Indian approach will come out better, especially in an oil crunch.

In that context, their solar cookers, large and small, will all be very useful - may we see more of them.

Those are great examples, Paul, and are certainly why I do really appreciate the larger systems. (I do, really!)

Pardon the pricklyness otherwise, We're getting Tea partied to death in my state right now.. working hard to be 'generous and reasonable' in my exchanges..

Sounds Good to me.

Thanks! Bob


I apologize for my edgy initial response...I regret causing conflict...I honestly think I ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.


Phew, for a minute there I thought you were about to tarnish my hero's image:


Hypocrisy can be a very logical approach; he makes a good living at it.

In '86 when he parted company with GP, there were some valid reasons; but at some point he just seemingly started endorsing anything GP opposed, and found himself a market niche.

From the link:

To add further fuel to Greenpeace's fire, Moore is also sceptical about global warming. "There is no cause for alarm about climate change," he says. "The climate is always changing."

The article was published, after all, in a magazine titled "Petroleum Economist".

Moore has found a living whoring out his past association with GP to the higher bidders.

"There is no cause for alarm about climate change," he says. "The climate is always changing."

That's what we tell our frogs and lobsters around here. Don't worry. It's just been getting a little bit warmer. There is cause for alarm, actually. And one problem is that there haven't been enough alarms, or at least alarms loud enough.

He is not just a whore but a stupid one.

Since he got into the fish farming business on northern Van Is. he has turned into something of a right wing pro business damn the environment kind of guy. But hey, Neil Young supported Reagan and voted Republican. Who woulda thunk it? I don't believe Moore has any more credibility other than what he once believed in. He gets trotted out once in awhile to be a spokesman, that's all.


RE: Exposed: The US-Saudi Libya deal

Yes, I know, shameless self promotion, but I can't help it. From a comment I posted about two weeks ago:


Strangely quiet about Bahrain.

Anyone else get the impression a backroom deal was made with the Saudi's to the effect of "you can have your no-fly zone over Libya, but only if we get to roll into Bahrain and stomp those uppity Shi'ites"?

I don't know how credible the Asia Times article up above is, but it is occasionally gratifying to see one's views validated.


I've seen it on AJE as well. I gave up on atimes, because I couldn't stand all the irritating popups. It sounds credible (i.e. we very well could have dome that sort of a horse trade -thats pretty much what diplomacy and politics are all about). IMO opinion, this Arab spring (or youth revolutions) are very important for us, and I suspect Libya may determine whether they stop at two countires (Tunisia and Eqypt) or can be successfully completed in several more. So I think we are doing the right thing in Libya. But we've screwed the Bahraini Shia in the process. But, thats pretty typical, since we equate Shia, with the evil Iranians.......

I've seen it on AJE as well.

Are you saying that you saw the article by Pepe Escobar on al-Jazeera? Or was it an indepedent, corroborating report? If the latter, do have a link? I was unable to find it on AJE myself. Google only led me back to Escobar and the Times Online. Escobar and ATOL aren't especially credible, Imo.

ATOL's bio of Pepe says (in part):

Two weeks before September 11, 2001, while Pepe was in the tribal areas of Pakistan, ATol published his prophetic piece, Get Osama! Now! Or else ... (Aug 30, 2001).

The title of the piece does indeed seem prophetic. But the piece itself - not so much:

Osama bin Laden - also the No 1 target of the CIA's counter-terrorism center - is now a superstar playing the bad guy in some sort of planetary Hollywood fiction. Yet inside Afghanistan today, where the Saudi Arabian lives in exile, Osama is a minor character. He is ill and always in hiding - usually "somewhere near Kabul". Once in a while he travels incognito to Peshawar. His organization, the Al Qa'Ida, is split, and in tatters.


I don't know, maybe the article seems prophetic if you're a bit of a Truther like Escobar ( see here and here ).

I posted the found bread crumbs to a 2nd troubled reactor site in Japan a while ago.

Here's more.

http://wise-uranium.org/eftokc.html - the reporting on one of the 'events' in Japan.

Another mistake is to do it in a bigger diameter container than specified.

Once you open a can of worms, the only way to recan them is to use a bigger can.

Zymurgy's First Law of Evolving Systems Dynamics

My brother is a small dairy farmer. He has shut down due to high corn prices and low milk prices.

Yesterday we did our "poor folk who can't afford to go anywhere else" monthly shopping at WalMart.

There was an odd tension in the air in the store, and people had grim faces and a peculiar, intense-but-inward-looking cast to their eyes. It was unusually quiet.

I went to grab the usual block of "cheese". I froze in mid-reach and my eyes bugged out and my jaw dropped.

A 2-pound block of cheap-a$$ pseudo-cheese has gone from $5.87 to $8.50 in three months.

Milk had already gone out of our fiscal reach, months and months ago.

Last month, after an unexplained three-month decline in health, my daughter was finally discovered to have a critically low vitamin D level. A four week course of mega-D and she is doing much better.

Now cheese has been priced out of our diet. We are consuming no dairy products at all. Calcium and vitamin D have to come from cheap Chinese pills.

Spinach just went to the top of the list for this year's garden. And heck with skin cancer, we've got to get more sun. (Not always easy in Seattle)

The dairymen are going broke; and yet a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation shows it is now cheaper for me to keep a cow than buy at the store. If I could. If I wasn't trapped in the city.

I know your life is difficult VT, it is good you give us these periodic updates on how you are coping.
There are many thousands of us avid TOD readers who mostly lurk but find this site to be an invaluable news source.
Your perspective is a necessary addition to the discourse for everyone who visits this site if they want to consider themselves well informed responsible citizens... so often those who are really struggling financially are viewed as the 'other' and value judgments are made or implied...I find your posts to be a useful corrective.

Thanks, sldulin. That is precisely my intent. Many folk in my situation are too intimidated to post here. They see, for example, WHT's maths, and run for it. Some because they can draw no information from his maths. Some, because they see all those equations and interpret it as a sort of lordly arrogance, get offended, and leave. I'm sure he doesn't mean to come across that way, it's one of the problems of the internet- there's no tone of voice to interpret.

I think the thing that strikes me the most is how quiet it was. WalMart at the first of the month is pure cacophony and bedlam. It was so quiet. It was actually sort of eerie.

Perhaps I'm imagining things, but it seems to me the denialists of various stripes are getting shriller and shriller. Almost a maniacal tone, like if they scream loud enough, reality must obey their wishes.

Us po' folk like to comfort ourselves by saying, at least we are well used to grim realities; those "power of positive thinking" types...ever watch one of those come apart the first time they are faced with inescapable personal disaster? It's quite a thing to witness.

We already decided which one goes first- electricity or running water...

Why did not people run screaming when they saw the SeekingAlpha post linked up top called "The Math of the New Drilling Boom"? We all have to realize that the people most determined to work against our best interest are the most anti-science out there and they scream wildly when math, logic, or science gets pushed in their face.

So it is instructive to take a look at the comments on that link and contrast how the denialists respond to reason in more neutral territory. My favorite comment regarding how they get rattled is "If there are 2 things right wingers hate more than Obama, its science and common sense."

VT said:

Many folk in my situation are too intimidated to post here. They see, for example, WHT's maths, and run for it. Some because they can draw no information from his maths. Some, because they see all those equations and interpret it as a sort of lordly arrogance, get offended, and leave.

WHT said:

We all have to realize that the people most determined to work against our best interest are the most anti-science out there and they scream wildly when math, logic, or science gets pushed in their face.

There's some truth in this exchange, somewhere between the "lordly arrogance" and "gets pushed in their face".

Hostility is a blunt instrument, WHT. In this same drumbeat you're having a hissyfit about Nate not taking time from his own priorities to review your book. It could be that petulance is sometimes the price of genius; and you are a smart fellow. But you're hanging out on a general site often dissing people who aren't familiar with your specific area of expertise. I quit fielding any rough speculations about connectivity and phase change here after you implied that I was a "poser" misrepresenting my background; no loss to the world since it's dubious I had anything original to say. But I wasn't saying it on a dedicated math site. You made the site a less pleasant place to be and limited my speculating. Take a clue. And that's the end of this comment - email me if you wish to discuss it further.


"In this same drumbeat you're having a hissyfit about Nate not taking time from his own priorities to review your book."

greenish... You may want to take a deep breath and read what WHT actually wrote. Nate openly offered his time to review the book. The point of contention was that WHT didn't think Nate needed permission to review it. He thought that he should be treated as any other author who is being reviewed.

Actually...Nate did no such thing. He offered WHT space to promote the book himself. To be honest, there are few on staff who can understand WHT's book well enough to review it.

WHT was treated as any other author. Reviews aren't guaranteed. We get offers of free books to review all the time, but can't review all of them.

My experience with kitchen renovations and campsites is that you can manage without either electricity or running water for quite some time ... but drains are critical. So if you lose sewer if you don't pay the water bill, then pay that and let the electricity go.

Actually sewerage is the least important of the three- provided there is a good understanding of pathologic microbes and the concepts and methods of composting.

In the past I have lived for years without any of them, nor any modern communications. There is a period of adjustment, but once you get used to it, it's no big deal.

This prior experience is an advantage, because there's no emotional freak-out associated with the issue. Just a reasoned choice, made ahead of time.

Ultimately I think the choice has to be governed largely by where you live. Where I am, there is abundant fresh water readily available an easily doable distance from my house.

On the other hand, the homes all around this area are all-electric. No natural gas lines, no propane tanks allowed, lots of restrictions on the use of wood heat. No electric = no heat in the winter.

Now someone living down south might be okay in winter without heat, but have critical problems for water in the desert that is most of the American southwest. They might need to make a different choice.

We are now paying far more for water/sewer than for electric; and the rates are already scheduled to go up each year for the next three years. So between the local climate physics and the naked dollar facts, the decision tree is self-guided.

A Nigerian Dwarf goat would give 1/2 gallon of very mild milk a day, for a lot less expense than a cow. You might even be able to pass it off as a 70-lb dog in the city! I make cheese, ice cream and yogurt and it is very tasty, not "goaty" at all.

"Goatiness" varies by the individual. I ran a herd of Alpines and LaManchas years ago. We used any excess milk to raise pigs.

I love goat cheese and goat "hamburger" but the slightest hint of goaty taste in milk makes me rowf. I can even detect "cowiness" in cow milk sometimes, but I can force myself to gag down "cowy" milk. Not goat milk- any caproic acid bitterness and a powerful reflex takes over and I can't stop myself from spitting it out- sink available or not.

I love Nigerian Dwarfs. I remember the struggle to get ADGA to accept them. If I could sneak in any kind of dairy animal, it would be a Nigerian Dwarf.

Note how a firm is suing the Government when the Government does what it should - investigate into safety.


Nuclear energy firm RWE sues German state of Hesse
German flag waves at the nuclear power plant of Biblis, Germany Closing the Biblis nuclear power plant was unjustified, RWE said

German energy giant RWE is taking legal action against the state of Hesse after being ordered to shut down a nuclear power plant for three months.

And in other news:

Possible New Annual Fee For Electric Car Drivers

SPOKANE, Wash. - Drivers who invest in an electric car to save money on gas may have to pay more with a new annual fee.

State senators approved a bill that would impose a $100 annual fee on electric cars to recover lost gas tax revenue.

And as an example of deferred maintenance can cause issues:

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Southwest Airlines could cancel 300 flights on Sunday as it continues to inspect 79 aircraft from its Boeing 737 fleet, after one of its planes with a gaping hole in the fuselage made an emergency landing, a company spokeswoman said.

The local news (Bay area) was full of stranded passenger stories. The estimate is a bit over a week to inspect the planes.

Today On Wolf Blitzer's 'The Situation Room' some talking head retired general speculated that air strikes and psyops and sanctions alone would not convince Gaddafi to leave, that this will take boots on the ground, either U.S. and/or European.


I hate to say this, but I think Reagan was right. Our goal should be to put Ghaddafi back in his box, not remove him.

Before the rebels started up, was he not 'in his box'?

He wasn't invading Chad, or drawing lines of death in the Med, or supporting international terrorism anymore, I guess (at least not since the Lockerbie bombing).

Since the Pres stated publicly that the necessary goal is Gadaffi to leave, it seems we are stuck in the swamp for a while...

Of course, President George H. Bush put Saddam back in his box, when many folks thought he should have deposed him back in 1991...and then we see how GWB's depose Saddam action went. 1991, or the mid-2000s...either way, we created an opportunity for enhanced Iranian influence and we remain engaged for who knows how long in Iraq.

We also eagerly supported the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan against the USSR...and look what evolved out of that entanglement.

Who is to say that if we back the Libyan rebels and they prevail that we don't face a Bid Laden analog turned against us 10 years hence?

Entanglements invite blow-back....sometimes many years down the road...we can't possibly keep track of all the folks we enrage who have scores to settle with us. In these modern times, it is too easy with modern networking to communicate and obtain weapons and hatch plans to settle blood debts.

Before the rebels started up

How much of the 'startup' was:
1) Outside 'direct' rabble-rousers
2) Thinking that various forces were 'distracted' with other matters like life-fire actions elsewhere
3) Feeling that the 'new leadership' had a 'new position' and would back them

I keep hearing how the people wanted to be free/the leader in the tent is a jerk....but what was the actual ignition point in Libya?

Of course, President George H. Bush put Saddam back in his box, when many folks thought he should have deposed him back in 1991

The reality was Bush the Elder cut his teeth/had a few teeth knocked out as the head of the CIA. Ignoring the backroom or even frontroom deals - he did get some hands on experience with what other nation-states expected. And what was sold to the (was it the coalition of the willing?) others was a deal not to depose. And that is what was delivered.


Yes, I agree. Putting Saddam back in his box and no more was what was agreed to and what was delivered.

I suppose my point is that anytime we become entangled militarily in other countries we seldom face good outcomes.

3) Feeling that the 'new leadership' had a 'new position' and would back them

There hasn't been new leadership in North Africa for decades. Are you suggesting that Obama roused the rabble?

Here's a good story on the 'startup.'

Before the rebels started up, was he not 'in his box'?

Sure. But this whole Jasmine revolution thing is a big deal. Personally, I think the only possible hope for our own people (and maybe) Europes as well, for getting out from under the Oligarchs runs through the Arab revolutions, I am a whole hearted supporter of helping the Benghazis. Of course the calculations of the foreign policy elite would be different, aren't they mostly tools of the Oligarchy, but I really think this is a crucial process that we don't want snuffed out.

Reagan was right. Our goal should be to put Ghaddafi back in his box

A pine box, you mean. But Gaddafi had prior warning of the attack, and left the target area before the bombs started dropping. That was 1986, two years before Pan Am 103 ( Wiki )

FWIW, here's how Michael Reagan feels about the situation:

If the president wants to protect the people of Libya from their dictator, then he must see to it that Gadhafi is either killed or exiled to some place where he can never be in a position to retaliate against anyone involved in his ouster.


Let it be understood that as long as Moammar Gadhafi remains in power in Libya there can be no peace and stability in the Middle East. If Barack Obama wants to work toward a peaceful Middle East he has to work to remove the main threat to peace there -- Moammar Gadhafi.


Edited for clarity

There have been reports, US and Eqyptian special forces are training the rebels now. And better weapons are being shipped via Eqypt.

Yeah, here we go again. SecDef Gates would submit his resignation, IMO. He's said flat out that he's opposed. Let Egypt do it.

House GOP budget to call for big changes to Medicare, Medicaid


I will make Paul Ryan and his fellow travelers a deal:

I will go with these proposed Medicare and Medicaid cuts, and we can add similar scoped Social Security cuts. We can add a 15% cut to all other non-Defense, non-entitlement programs phased in between now and 31 December 2021.

He is the Quid Pro Quo:

1. DoD/NNSA/CIA/NSA/DHS cuts amounting to 25% phased in between passage of this bill and 31 December 2021.

2. GW Bush tax cuts repealed permanently; Also, taxes on those making for than $250,000/year raised by the same amount that the GWB tax cuts save them right now compared to before the GWB tax cuts were enacted. Phase these in by 31 December 2012.

3. Phase in a Federal tax on oil imported to the U.S. from outside the Western Hemisphere culminating in an additional tax burden of $30/bbl by 31 December 2021.

TOD denizens, what say you?


Well, as long as we can keep the tax cuts for billionaires, denying health care to millions of poor and elderly Americans is a small price to pay, and well worth it.

When (not if) the vouchers are too small to pay for insurance, then the poor and elderly will have to "share the pain" in real physical terms with untreated injuries and disease, but as long as the top 1% keep their tax breaks I am sure the poor and elderly will be happy to do their part.


Well, the point of my counter-offer is to see whether the folks claiming such grave concern over the budget really want to cut the budget as much as possible, or to smoke them out and find out if they really just want to continue re-distributing wealth to the upper crust in the U.S.

I think my plan is a 'share-the-sacrifice' type of plan in service to lowering the budget and the deficit. My terms are quite broad...there is room to wicker the numbers, but the broad brush is that rich, poor, and in-between share in the budget-cutting objective.

Don't worry, all the folks who claim to be good religious believers should follow their various holy teachings and step up to care for the poor voluntarily.

Well, the point of my counter-offer is to see whether the folks claiming such grave concern over the budget really want to cut the budget as much as possible, or to smoke them out and find out if they really just want to continue re-distributing wealth to the upper crust in the U.S.

This has been tested many times, although not with such a major large deal. Deficit hawkery is not about genuine concern for the budget, but about political opportunism. The biggest hawks, almost always end up giving more away in tax breaks to the wealthy, than through program cuts.

as long as the top 1% keep their tax breaks I am sure the poor and elderly will be happy to do their part

They watch Fox news, so you can guarantee that they will enthusuastically support the politicians who will do this to them.

Yesiree Bob...as long as the birther stories keep coming, and the screeds against birth control, and the little American flags keep waving in the TV picture inset windows and the talking heads keep wearing the little stars n stripes on their lapels, the folks will toe whatever lines they are given.

You could take every dollar from every billionaire in America and it wouldn't make a dent in the deficit. There is no escaping this pit without entitlement reform.


I can accept all that as necessary, but there's no way either Democrats or GOP would even talk about it! Remember the attitude all the politicians and the vast majority of the people have, "you cut, I keep."

I think it will raise too much revenue! Of course the way to lower Medicare/Medicaid, is not to starve the programs, but to "socialize" our medical delivery system. And to recognize that we can't do everything for everyone, and that studying and applying medical care cost effectively is important. But, sigh, we won't do that until after we are dead broke.

Heisenberg, you know the GOP is only interested in generating more 10k a plate contributers, nothing else. So it may seem reasonable to suggest balanced budget cuts, but those cuts will only dig into programs designed to help those that have no prospect of achieving the 10k a plate status.

Also, not in your post but pertinent, is the GOP will also not go for the Pickens plan while the Big O is in office. So people presuming a shift to NG will need to wait until a GOP prez and even then it may be more a case of, "Drill, baby drill!"

I seem to have a fundamental Modus Operandi.

It is: Call...their...bluff!

And/Or: Smoke them out to show their true colors.

Reference my consistent stance on taking them up 'All in' on their Drill, Baby, Drill propaganda.

Also, taking them up on serious budget cutting, leaving no sacred cows.

Now, on the D,B,D thing, I think it would be a huge unnecessary waste of our time and money, but necessary to get beyond their propaganda and prove to the Joe Box'o'Donuts what the deal is.

On the budget, however, I truly believe that we could make large, enduring cuts...but the hurt CANNOT be limited to the average Joe and all those poorer than him. That means both sides sacrifice their sacred cows: Cuts in social/entitlement programs, along with with cuts to the MIC and raising taxes, proportionally more on the wealthy.

The goal: Balance the budget and eventually erase the deficit.

If that is indeed our real goal.

The facts are absolutely clear.

The US federal expenditures are 3.5 trillion, US federal taxes
are 2.1 trillion. Therefore the federal deficit is 1.4 trillion.

Double federal taxes and you get a surplus of .7 trillion per year.

The federal debt is 10 trillion dollars not counting
4 trillion owed to SS trust fund(money the government owes itself). 10 trillion dollars would be paid off in 14 years at .7 trillion dollars per year.

Everybody could afford to pay twice their current federal tax.
Everybody would hate doing so but they could do it if they had to.

We got to this place by cutting taxes for 30 years and cutting taxes for the rich is the least justifiable.

The deficit hysterics is all a load of BS.


Thank you for the simple math on the subject.

I am not adverse to the idea of closing a substantial part of the gap with spending cuts...the simplest starting point for discussion would be close the gap half through spending cuts and half through increased taxes.

What completely floors me is the absolute silence from everybody about cutting DOD/DOE/CIA/NSA/DHS/etc Military Industrial Complex spending.

Everybody take note: I also would offer concurrent cuts in entitlement programs...so please don't lob those spears my way!

MIC spending is truly the one sacred cow in the U.S. of A. While most Republicans would gleefully swing the axe against Medicare, Social Security, etc, and would be joined by a minority of Blue Dog Dems, there is no similar attack on MIC spending.

Almost all Dems and Republicans would never even dare speaketh of 'Defense' cuts.

Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich are two current Congressional exceptions I can think of.

Until we eliminate MIC from 'untouchable' status and put it on the chopping block along with everything else, then the folks who are screaming about the budget deficit can go jump in the lake.

Hey, the Brits cut from both MOD and non-MOD budget lines, so can we.

If I were in the Congress, I would call the bluff and shut the government down, including the MIC funding (excepting funding for war zone operations), until people learn to put all their pet rocks on the table and compromised with each other.

I guess it depends on what "can afford" means. That money flowing from other expenses would be afforded by restaurants that would crash, homes being foreclosed, and of course businesses going under, because you must have doubled every Federal fee, tax, and levy at the same time.

Why not just cut spending in half instead? That would make more sense. Or do some of each -- I'll pay $1 more in taxes for every $2 in cuts. How about that?

The fatal flaw in your argument is the assumption that when you double the federal taxes everything else will stay the same.

Also, the federal government debt is $14 trillion (not $10 trillion) without accounting for Social Security. If you include SS, Medicare and other unfunded obligations, it is of the order of $100 trillion.

Social Security is a pay as you go program. The SS surplus was counted as revenue and spent by the government and the SS trust fund was stuffed with worthless IOUs. Those IOUs are not money that the government owes to itself; it is money that the government owes to the SS recipients. This year, SS is already in deficit. This was not expected until 2017. The government now spends close to $450 billion a year in interest on debt and needs to roll over $3 trillion in debt every year. When interest rates rise.....

By any measure the US government is bankrupt. It is not "official" yet thanks to Bernanke's money printing.

Do you have some weird math to get to $100 trillion?

Social Security is NOT in deficit, it has a $3 trillion dollar
fund surplus and that will not run out until 2037 according to FOX News. Obviously somebody has gotten to Roger Ailes if you're right.


Also, the interest on the debt is $197 billion not $450 b.

You are saying so much weird stuff, let me suggest you do some research first.


I don't think history is on your side here. Raise the tax rates, and people and companies, especially those with lots of money, will find more ways to avoid them.
Here is a chart of US Federal Revenues, by source, as a share of Gross Domestic Product for Fiscal Years 1957-2007, from CBO data;

{credit: New World Economics}
I don't have the data on what tax rates are for this time period, but the remarkable stability of tax revenues suggests they don't make a big difference. I suspect what would make a difference is closing the plethora of loopholes that exist in existing tax law, and getting rid of many ineffective/redundant tax credits (like the ethanol credit).

Ideally, spending would stay in this range too, but that doesn't appear to have been the case;

{credit: New World Economics}

I don;t think the way to cut spending is by just cutting services - there is plenty of scope for cutting waste, bureacracy, and over generous entitlements, and the prices that the government pays for some services (e.g. healthcare). Of course the recipients/beneficiaries of said waste/entitlements don;t see it that way, and it was ever thus.

The conclusion I take from this is that the government is more likely to be successful by accepting that revenues will stay within the 15-20% band, and reign in spending to stay in the same. Really high taxes will lead to Greece like evasion, and there is enough evasion already.

The blue 'receipts' plot in the last graph shows a recent low ca 2009...that is also where the 'actual' data ended. The blue line is depicted as substantially rising between 2009 and 2011...but is that what actually happened?

At first I thought the blue line might rise beyond 2009 because it was estimated by the graph's author that the economy's GDP would rise, therefore raising tax receipts in concert...but that theory doesn't work because the plot is of 'tax receipts as a percentage of GDP'.

So, did the graph's author assume that the GWB tax cuts would expire right beyond 2009, and perhaps further assume some additional tax hikes past 2009?

To my knowledge, neither of these things transpired since 2009.

At any rate, the majority of the delta between expenditures and revenues needs to be addressed by lowering expenditures, as you say. Probably by a 3-1 ration (three bucks of expenditure reduction for every buck of increased taxes).

The drum I will keep beating forever is: We need to reduce Social Security, Medicare, other social program spending, etc, and we also need to reduce military spending as well, and I am not talking about some token growth freeze for a year or two either. Lots of folks making a good living off of MIC spending, but it seems that they are a 'protected class' in the U.S.

Tax collection compliance depends on effective enforcement on large taxpayer (units-LTU). LTU refers to those taxpayers who pay over 50% of total revenues. In the US the top 5% of earners pay ~60% of all federal income tax.

For the LTU to be effective and for the large taxpayers' compliance to improve significantly, the government must fully commit to setting up the LTU, providing it with the necessary resources (staffing, physical infrastructure, computers, etc.), and supporting auditing and enforced collection for the largest taxpayers.

The long-term effectiveness and credibility of the LTU depends on the government's ability to incorporate the LTU into a broader tax administration reform. This is an area where the IMF could improve follow-up of the initial LTU reform effort.

The LTU needs continued reform and modernization, like the rest of the tax administration, to remain effective and to keep up with changes in the economy and the taxpayer population.


Double Taxes!
Taxes are not going to be doubled and pay off any debt. They will be doubled because the taxation base is shrinking. Energy supplies are not growing, employment is shrinking, the traditional consumer is dying, real-estate is in big trouble, businesses are bankrupting, growth if not already will soon be just a memory...............To understate the situation, the economic outlook is not excellent.

Don't get me wrong here, I think taxes will increase. Portugal, Ireland, UK, Greece have begun austerity but doubling taxes..............

Governments need the consumer, it needs the consumer to have jobs, disposable income and to spend, spend, spend and so does the business world.


Thanks for the info and the link.

You consistently deliver on references!


I was reminded of Jared Diamond's Collapse when I read this part of the "Why I don't include McDonald's in my retirement portfolio" article.

This is likely due to the rapidly increasing price of feed grains, so ranchers are slaughtering their herds rather than feeding them, and selling the beef at the currently elevated prices to the export market. But the supply shortage this short term strategy creates will cause beef prices to increase even more a few months from now.

Norse Greenlanders had to make the choice between feeding their herds and keeping them over winter vs. slaughtering some or all of their livestock to feed themselves, but risk starving the following winter. Obviously, the Greenland case involved much more severe circumstances. But it's interesting to see how global market structures impose similar save-or-slaughter decision trees, which create a feedback loop making the resource (livestock) more and more scarce.

You mean we have a choice between feeding our SUVs or feeding our cattle.

You mean we have a choice between feeding our SUVs or feeding our cattle.

I would rather feed cattle.

Ultimately, cattle don't have to have grain. In fact, a very high-grain diet is bad for them. They evolved to thrive on a high-forage (grass) diet.

Even dairy cows can do just fine on minimal grain, provided they are not forced to lactate themselves to death. The average dairy cow gets sent to slaughter for poor production by the age of five or six. And yet a cow that is allowed to function at a lower production level can live, and produce, for fifteen years.

Nor do cows have to have corn. They can do just fine on barley or oats, both of which are far less fussy about their growing conditions than corn or wheat.

Besides, cows have big brown eyes and come running to greet you, and give you nice garden fertilizer too. Much nicer than SUVs :)

I recall hearing the case being made that it was largely a failure of imagination. The nearby Inuit, did just fine, because they got their food from the sea, but the norse settlers insisted on grazing, which with a minor climate change went from marginal to less than marginal.

largely a failure of imagination

Just as well we don't have the same problem from our leaders today!

We continue to use the same "food" source (=oil) which is rapidly going from marginal to less than marginal.

History repeating, just on grander, and slightly warmer, scale

Yep, and for some reason the Norse didn't even fish on the side, it seems.

It's kinda weird that we've got some hindsight for the Greenland situation (and others). Yet when it comes to documenting the failures of our present-day imagination, while we achieve limited success on sites like TOD, a lot of the institutions and social norms are as imaginative as a brick wall.

(And I was looking at the reader comments on the CBC article about the oil boom in Waskada MB, there are an awful lot of "Peak Oil is just an excuse to jack up gas prices"-type comments... [sigh]).

I never understood why the Norse Greenlanders refused to eat fish (seal I can understand) - surely the Scandinavian Norse did?

As for today, if we take the US as the example, there seems to be this unshakeable belief that technology will somehow save the day. And it might, or might not- but it can't change the laws of thermodynamics, no matter what the Silicon Valley/Moore's Law types think. And after 40 years of trying to innovate out of its oil dependency, the US is no closer to that goal.

As for the "excuse to jack up prices" it always amazes me that people don't realise that anyone has the right to jack up the price of what they are selling, just as the buyer has the right to not buy it, it's that simple. It's not a conspiracy, it's just supply and demand, and when it comes to fuel, we are *very* demanding.

I never understood why the Norse Greenlanders refused to eat fish (seal I can understand) - surely the Scandinavian Norse did?

It's a myth that the Norse Greenlanders refused to eat fish. Of course they ate fish and hunted seals. The problem was that they could not get enough food from these sources to support themselves using the technology they had. They couldn't even build boats to fish from because they had no wood.

People don't realize how sophisticated the Arctic survival technology the Inuit brought with them was, compared to other people. The Inuit were paddling kayaks, hunting whales and seals, living in igloos, pulling sleds with dogs. They had no problem surviving an Arctic winter. Their technology allowed them to make the most rapid advance of any people ever recorded. They expanded halfway around the world, from Siberia, across the top of North America, to Greenland, in less than a thousand years, pushing competing people (the Dorset Eskimos) out of the way.

The Norse didn't have any of these things, and when the climate turned for the worse and their crops failed, they didn't have time to develop them before they all starved. Possibly some survivors were absorbed by the Inuit who showed up in Greenland about that point in time, but we don't know.

And as I recall from the book, the Norse Greenlanders did not want to mix or learn from the Inuits either. Was it because of religion or just because the Norse saw them as "inferiors"...don't recall. But, that may have helped in their longterm survival in that situation.

The Norse Greenlanders had converted to Christianity before the Inuit arrived, built hundreds of churches, and made a point of maintaining European religious practices and clothing styles. After the Inuit arrived (they were not there when the Norse arrived), the Norse seem to have had some sort of contact with them because the Inuit had hundreds of Norse artifacts in their settlements, although what they traded them for is not clear.

However isotope studies of their bones indicate the Norse had no qualms about eating fish. As the climate deteriorated, their diet changed from 20% fish, 80% agricultural products to 80% fish, 20% agricultural products. They don't seem to have adopted the very effective Inuit Arctic technology such as the kayak, harpoon, igloo, and dog sled, though.

It is clear that the climate was deteriorating toward the end of the Norse settlement in Greenland, and this made life very difficult for them, whereas the Inuit thrived under colder conditions. Nobody really knows what happened to the Norse. Maybe they just gave up and emigrated back to Europe. Whatever happened, they left nothing of value and no records behind.

I think the suggestion is, that the Norse living at a medieval level of civilization could have been better able to adapt to cooling weather conditions if they had been a more primitive tribal society.
I doubt it.
It would be more likely that they
migrated to warmer spots en masse and were either killed
by natives in Vinland or drowned in the sea or just quietly returned to Iceland which had become a Danish colony.

A different example is the Jesuit reducciones in South America.
The Jesuits around 1600 established missions in the jungles of Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia different than the usual neo-feudal encomiendas/plantation serfdom. They were towns of a few thousand people where the population was entirely natives with only a few Jesuit padres( outsiders were'nt allowed in). In Europe about 1500 there were only a dozen cities that exceeded 40000 people. It is estimated that 150000 Indians lived in the reducciones. The even formed European style militias to fight off Portuguese slavers.
The end after 150 years came when the Jesuit order was expelled from all Spanish lands in 1767 and the Reducciones fell into ruins.


People keep looking for external causes for collapse but most collapses were caused internally (by mistakes).

I think there has been some confusion over the interpretation of some of the studies of the diet of the Norse in Greenland. The contribution of marine animals was considerable, but much of this was in the form of seal meat rather than fish.
There were many factors involved in the demise of the Greenland settlements:

- shortages of iron and other critical meaterials due to the virtual cessation of trade by the late 1300s;
- depletion of resources, including the overgrazing of pasture land;
- dietary preferences for cattle, which were at best marginally suitable for the local climate;
- the small size of the population;
- climatic variations.

I'm inclined to think that the population died out. Seaworthy ships would have been needed to be able to reach any habitable land, and with little in the way of wood and iron, the capacity for building new ships or repairing existing ones would have been minimal. Aside from this, the Norse had managed to survive many hard years over a 500 year period and probably almost to the end would have expected to successfully persevere.


Jared Diamond, in his analysis of the Greenland Norse, blames climate change for their disappearance. He accepts the idea that the climate was generally warmer at around 1000 CE, which thus made if possible for the Norse to live at the southern tip of Greenland. However, from my reading, that's not a proven fact, only speculation. The evidence does not support that conclusion and we have no known written record of what happened to them. The archeological evidence is inconclusive and other interpretations to that evidence are plausible. For example, the Black Death arrived in Iceland much later than Europe and may have them moved on to Greenland. Or, the eruption of the Kuwae volcano in 1452 may have resulted in a short period of much colder weather, which would have resulted in crop failures, as it did during "The Year Without a Summer" of 1816.

We do know that they attempted to apply their European technologies to live in the generally colder climate, technologies which resulted in the cutting of trees for fuel and the clearing of the land for pasture and crops. They did the same in Iceland and the resulting environmental destruction is apparent today. Lacking wood for fuel and for making boats, the Greenland Norse would not have been able to continue living as they did. They were always a colony, requiring a continuing flow of material goods, such as iron, from Europe, which they paid for by harvesting walrus ivory and seals for fur. And, they did catch fish, smoking them for another of their major exports. After the Plague had killed roughly half the population in Iceland, they may simply have moved back there, given the land and structures which became available.

There are many people with political motivations which point to the demise of the colonies in Greenland as a proof that there was a "Medieval Warm Period". Sorry to bust their bubble, the scientific evidence does not support that claim IMHO...

EDIT: HERE and HERE are a couple of descriptions from the Web.

E. Swanson

I hate to beat a dead horse, as the question of the MWP has been argued numerous times and has become a sore point because the climate change denialist seem intent on ignoting the data. The story began with H. H. Lamb's work in the 1960's, when little accurate temperature data was available. Please also note that your Wikipedia reference cites Diamond as one source for the story of the Greenland Norse. Also check the graph from the Greenland ice cap data, which suggests that there was a warm spike around 1000 CE of only 1.0 C, followed by a small drop down during the Little Ice Age. There were colder conditions during the Little Ice Age, but they may be related to a combination of low solar activity and more frequent eruptions of large volcanoes. The 1452 event was especially large, but there weren't any Europeans around to take notice of the effects some 40 years before Columbus "discovered" America. Funny thing, the denialist never want to talk about the volcanoes...

E. Swanson

I'm not sure why the existence of the MWP troubles students of climate change.

Historical records of viticulture in Europe would appear to establish that conditions were warmer than more recently at least up to the late 1800's. The MWP may well have ended with the Great Famine of 1315-1317, and that in turn may have been caused by the Kaharoa, New Zealand volcano.


Abstract. After an age with a warmer climate, from the 14th to the 19th century an evident cooling down of the terrestrial climate, called the “little ice age”, takes place. Among other mentioned repercussions, the reduction of the area of grapevine cultivation and the dependence of the northern countries’ wine consumption on importation are of great interest, since they contributed to the long-term modeling of the world viticultural patrimony in agreement with the requirements of an ever more dynamical specialized trade.

I did not know that!

I clicked on the above link: OPEC Output Down as Libyan Loss Tops Saudi Gain, Survey Shows then clicked on the video link on that page: Bulltick's Vera Interview About Oil, Latin America. I was shocked when she said: They (Brazil) became a net oil exporter in 2009 but reversed course in 2010 and became a net importer due to increased domestic consumption. She went on to say that Brazil would again become a net oil exporter in the next couple of years because of their vast pre-salt reserves.

I was shocked to hear this. I had assumed all along that Brazil was a net oil exporter in 2010. Their crude production increased only 105 kb/d in 2010 according to the EIA, going from 1.95 mb/d in 2009 to 2.055 mb/d in 2010. Also according to the EIA Brazil imported 375,000 barrels of crude in 2009 while exporting 505,000 barrels of crude making them a net exporter of 130,000 barrels of crude in 2009. They must have increased consumption quite a bit in 2010 to go from a net exporter to a net exporter.

Ron P.

Ron - That's similar to a story that surprised me a year or so ago. Brazil had just commisioned the first ship based LNG regasification vessel they planned to use for their LNG IMPORTS. So the Mother of New Huge Oil Reserves saw the need for future energy imports...at least NG.

I suspect the problem Bz may see down the road is that while they may have huge DW oil reserves the time line to develop and produce those billions of bbl may be much longer than most are assuming. Back to the basics we all know: PO is about flow rate...not reserve volume.

It's not just oil that Brazil is importing. I mentioned this briefly a week or so ago: Brazil is importing more and more gasoline (mostly from Europe):

MARCH 25, 2011, 6:05 P.M. ET

Brazil Petrobras Confirms Plans To Import 1.5M Bbls Gasoline In April

RIO DE JANEIRO (Dow Jones)--Brazilian state-run energy giant Petroleo Brasileiro (PBR, PETR4.BR), or Petrobras, confirmed Friday that it plans to import a cargo of gasoline to ensure adequate fuel supplies during a surge in domestic demand.


Perhaps even harder to swallow is the fact that Brazil is importing ethanol from the US:

Besides losing international market share to U.S. ethanol, especially in Europe, Brazil even imported the biofuel from the U.S. market.


This is indeed news to me too.
I can't say I am 'shocked' but certainly surprised and a bit alarmed at that too.

L - I had not thought about it in the same context but perhaps w should begin thinking about Chindia + B. Bz may not be considered a 3rd world country but they do have a large population with a desire to improve their lifestyle. I doubt we can construct an ELM model for Bz with much accuracy at this point but it will be good to not forget this aspect. While they do have large UNDEVELOPED oil resrves it will take a long time to bring them on line. If intrnal consumption grows fast enough oil exports might not be a large as many anticipate.

Brazil is the "B" in the fast developing BRIC countries. They have a population of about 200,000,000 and an oil consumption of about 2,500,000 barrels per day according to CIA Factbook.

Since their population is about 2/3 of the US, their oil consumption would be on the order of 12,000,000 bpd for an equivalent per capita consumption. It is not obvious why Brazil would ever be a significant exporter, rather than using the oil to develop its own economy.

The population is 87% urban and includes cities such as Sao Paulo 19.96 million; Rio de Janeiro 11.836 million; Belo Horizonte 5.736 million; Porto Alegre 4.034 million; BRASILIA (capital) 3.789 million (2009).

The Reuters article refers to a price of $1/liter for ethanol. That's somewhere arround $150/barrel or even $200 on an energy equivalent. Seems a little odd to import ethanol at that price....?

And now for something completely different:

I found these vids on YouTube, and they brought back memories of me and about 6 of my buds touring several North Dakota Ghost towns on fine day before I retired:





If you want some solitude and can build yourself a little passivhaus and can grow your own food and preserve it for winter, there is plenty of land in ND...don't know what they are asking for it though....you can erect a windmill or two for trons, and if you buy land with mineral rights underneath maybe you can sell rights to the folks milking the Baaken...

Just remember, though, you'd have to put up with 40-below winter temperatures now and then...

Been there, done that...for 10 winters...got the t-shirt parka....

Your story reminds of this guy who recently move into our town. The fella was either from Atlanta or Los Angeles. I don't remember exactly. He spend quite a bit of his time at the local pub, almost daily. His reason for moving here is rather trite i.e. "to get away from it all". Funny, why then is he keep hanging out at our local well? I guess the moral of the story is that very very few of us can live in isolation. I think mental and social stimulations are just as important as water, food and clothing etc.

"I think mental and social stimulations are just as important as water, food and clothing etc."

Quite so, and by not living in La or Atlanta, the fellow in question can get all of that without battling traffic.

When most people say "get away from it all", they really mean get away from traffic. People who live in towns, or parts of cities that don't have it, don't need to get away nearly as much.

When most people say "get away from it all", they really mean get away from traffic. People who live in towns, or parts of cities that don't have it, don't need to get away nearly as much.

Good point. One day awhile back, I was in what passes for "Rush Hour" here in little old Anchorage. That particular day I was in a hurry and running late for something or another, and was getting really annoyed. A day or so later I had to make a business trip to Houston, and found myself in real traffic. I thought to myself "It's good I come down here every now and then, just to maintain perspective".

Not to suggest that Anchorage is well designed or easy to get around it for a city its size (it is not). But what we in Anchorage would consider exceptionally bad traffic would be a really really good day driving in Houston or similar big cities. Just one more reason I like it here.

That last one looks to be a great site for some wind generation. It would appear that the power lines are already in place...

E. Swanson


Pretty much most of ND is a great site for wind generation!

Having lived in Minot and extensively driven around the state for 9 years.

There was a saying among some young AF folks posted at Minot: ND, if it doesn't suck, it blows!

I enjoyed my time there, but I like mountains too much to have stayed.

As you said, the real problem is transmitting all that potential wind-generated power to far-off population centers.

I highly recommend touring some ghost towns in ND if you are there...my normally rautious buds and I had a reverential experience...walking through former town halls, churches, homes...some of them were with books, personal papers, pamphlets labeled 'Living with your cancer', and even the deed to the house and land laying on the kitchen floor.

It was like touring a combination of museum and cemetery.

They don't call them 'ghost towns' for nothing...

We took nothing but pictures, an left nothing but footprints.

It was like no other day-trip I have ever undertaken.

There was a saying among some young AF folks posted at Minot: ND, if it doesn't suck, it blows!

Here in Minnesota we say that Wisconsin sucks and NoDak blows.

Hybrid sales leapt higher in March, growing by nearly 50 percent compared to February and compared to last March. The jump is impressive because it nearly tripled the 16.8 increase in overall auto sales compared to a year ago.


Refusing to testify to the Feds? That's either the 5th amendment at work OR demonstration of a sociopath. Lets see...

applauded itself for the "best year in safety performance in our Company's history." The company, Transocean Ltd., rewarded its executives millions in bonuses for the achievement, according to the annual report it released yesterday.

Oh look. The book 'the sociopath next door' and the movie 'The Corporation' are right. Dangerous behavior from an amoral "person".

Our Military forces are not really welcome in the ME:


The violence was set off by anger over the March 20 burning of the Quran by a Florida church — the same church whose pastor had threatened to do so last year on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, triggering worldwide outrage.

The protests, which began Friday, also appear to be fueled more broadly by the resentment that has been building for years in Afghanistan over the operations of Western military forces, blamed for killing and mistreating civilians, and international contractors, seen by many as enriching themselves and fueling corruption at the expense of ordinary Afghans.

Coverage of the trial of a group of U.S. soldiers charged with killing Afghan civilians and the publication of photos of some posing with dead bodies added to the anger.

We won't learn...even if something bad happens to/in the U.S. down the road as a result...we will probably then redouble our efforts to pacify and police the ME, escalating the viscous cycle of blow-back and retribution.

This is a sobering summary. Some of the referenced events bring to mind the quote attributed to Talleyrand "it was worse than criminal, it was stupid".


The eagle eggs are hatching:

Three eggs were laid in late February, and the first eaglet started to emerge from its shell Friday. Bob Anderson, the project's executive director, said the second hatched about 5:30 a.m. Sunday and the third is expected in about three days.


You have to be patient to see them when the mate comes to take over sitting duties.


News Alert: News that PO is a Sham prompts development of the ultimate SUV:


This vehicle was an Engineering Test Unit, of a mobile, radiation-hardened, truck launcher designed to carry and launch the MGM-134A Small Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (unofficially known as the "Midgetman"). It can travel up to 55 mph on the highway, and it can also travel off the road. The vehicle is capable of using the trailer-mounted plow to dig the launcher into the earth for additional protection from a nuclear blast.

The ETU tractor-launcher combination weighs 239,000 pounds and has a draw bar pull capability of more than 80,000 pounds. It is powered by a 1,200-hp Rolls-Royce Perkins diesel engine that drives all eight tractor wheels through an electro-hydraulic transmission.

The ETU was designed and built by Boeing Aerospace and Electronics and by Loral Defense Systems Division. It was delivered to the USAF in December 1988 and tested until 1991 at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

The U.S. explored fielding some ~ 500 of these Diesel-guzzling monsters to roam select lands back in the late 80s/early 90s.

Then the Wall fell.

Could something like this be fielded sometime in the future?

...fear not, they only cost a few bucks each to field and a couple more ducks to maintain every year!

I hear their gallons per mile were quite good!

Brent's already over $120 dollars according to Upstream Online, edging closer to 121.
WTI is very close to breaking the $110 barrier.

Gabon's down, Nigeria has postponed it's elections twice(suggestion serious disarray) and Ivory Coast has a civil war on their hands.

What's the connection? Look at a map, they're all very closely located.
West Africa is starting to look unstable.

I have a friend in Cameroon who has been telling me how the young people there are watching the situation very closely. They are saying to each other "Libya, Egypt and the rest are not so different to us. The winds of change are blowing over Africa".

If things really kick off in Gabon, I wonder if it could even spread into Equatorial Guinea?

Pa.'s Natural Gas Rush

This article does a good job of laying out who the players are in the PA shale gas scene. Some key points:

1) Operators say they are spending $4 million to $6 million per well.

2) Only 1,237 of more than 2,300 Marcellus wells drilled were producing gas at the end of 2010.

3) Hundreds of wells are finished but awaiting construction of pipelines to carry the fuel to consumers.

4) And others are incomplete because of a shortage of crews to hydraulically fracture the wells.

Yet for all this, the article points out:

But investors are still bullish, emboldened by production figures released by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

"The Marcellus is going to be far more prolific than we ever imagined," said Subash Chandra, managing director of Jefferies & Co. Inc., an investment company. "It's almost scary how good the Marcellus is. It's supereconomic."

And the quotes from the drilling companies show continued enthusiasm for the shale plays.

So here's my question. Are these investors just stupid? Art Berman and Rockman have offered plenty of reasons why shale gas investments at current ng prices are a bad deal, and I find them convincing. So how is it that money continues to flow into the fracking of western Pennsylvania?

King - I've made the point several times that the SG plays in general aren't really a cornucopian's wet dream for a variety of reasons. But all SG is not created equal...not even within the same trend. Even the Haynesville in E Texas, which crippled many operators, has sweet spots that are working at current low prices.

I haven't seen enough details on the Marcellus to get a sense of the economics. It does have some economic advantage over many othe SG plays: very close to it's sales market. This could save as much as $1/mcf in transportation fees. OTOH the lack pipelines causes a significant delay in getting NG to the market and thus reduces the rate of return. In general I would still take the press release hype with a huge grain of salt. One of the key diving forces in the Marcellus is the same as it has been in othe SG plays: public companies pushing their stock. IMHO it doesn't matter if they are pushing NG or tapioca, such companies always over promise. The only question is to what degree.

Thanks, RM. I understand your point completely. My sense is that the intelligence of many investors is overstated. I had a conversation last weekend with a guy who directs quite a large amount of money in energy investments. He was pretty aware of things and could see the writing on the wall re Peak Oil. But his level of understanding didn't quite make it over into the NG area. He was surprised by the issue of decline rates and how that impacts profitability. This guy is no dummy by any means, but it seems almost as if he was applying is deeper understanding of oil production to ng production.

What I really wonder is will all this come to a head? Will there come a time when the reality of the decline rates, transportation issues, environmental issues, and ROI issues combine to put the brakes on shale gas investment?

King - Rig counts can go up and down and well can decline rapidly. But my experience indicates that demand swings have the biggest/quickest impacks. The huge plunge in NG prices back in '08 were clearly the result of the recession more than any one other factor. Obviously the economy isn't shooting back up very fast so we won't see NG prices move up very quickly IMHO. As long as the SG hype is pushed by the public companies we may see something of a NG production/price plateau for a while. And no... I wouldn't try to guess how long "a while" might be.