Drumbeat: April 6, 2011

EIA Deems Shale Gas 'Global Phenomenon'

Initial assessments of 48 shale gas basins in 32 countries suggest that shale gas resources, which have recently provided a major boost to U.S. natural gas production, are also available in other world regions. A new EIA-sponsored study reported initial assessments of 5,760 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of technically recoverable shale gas resources in 32 foreign countries, compared with 862 Tcf in the United States.

In 2010, U.S. shale gas production reached 4.87 Tcf (23 percent of total U.S. natural gas production), compared with 0.39 Tcf in 2000. This shows both the rapid growth and absolute importance of the shale gas resource to the United States. Rising production from shale gas resources has been credited with both lower natural gas prices and declining dependence on imported natural gas. As is often the case with resource development, shale gas production also has raised local environmental concerns, largely centering on the amount of water used in the fracturing process and the need to handle, recycle, and treat fracturing fluids in a manner that addresses the risk of spills that can potentially affect water quality. EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2011 Reference case also reflects the growing importance of U.S. shale gas. It projects that shale gas will account for about 46 percent of U.S. natural gas production in 2035.

Time Got It Wrong: Natural Gas Is No Panacea for Our Energy Crisis

Millions of people are reading the latest issue of Time magazine believing that there is a ready-made domestic solution to the energy crisis that will guarantee abundant energy and jettison foreign oil sheiks to the dustbin of history. If it were only true.

Some Realism on Shale Gas

It turns out that the US and Canada also had a 100 year supply of natural gas in 2001: "Natural gas is also plentiful. An estimated 2,449 trillion cubic feet of reserves in the United States and Canada is enough to meet today's demand for 100 years."

In the interim there was a panic in 2005:

"We need to declare a national crisis," Andrew N. Liveris, the chief executive of the Dow Chemical Company, said in recent testimony before the Senate. Dow, the nation's largest chemical maker, has shut 23 plants in the United States in the last three years in places like Somerset, N.J.; South Charleston, W.Va.; and Elizabethtown, Ky., as it shifted production to Kuwait, Argentina, Malaysia and Germany, where natural gas is cheaper."

Douglas-Westwood warns Congress on Chinese oil & gas demand

In evidence to the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Power's hearing, April 4th, regarding the "The American Energy Initiative", Douglas-Westwood LLP's Managing Director, .Steve Kopits, gave dire warnings about the likely development of China's future energy demand

"China's oil demand will likely keep pressure on oil prices for the indefinite future," said Kopits. "China consumes 10 million barrels of oil per day (mbpd) on global consumption of about 88 mbpd. ...it is already the second biggest consumer of oil in the world ...we see China surpassing US consumption levels around 2018."

IEA urges scrapping $312b fuel subsidies

ABU DHABI — The International Energy Agency is calling for 312 billion dollars in fuel subsidies to be scrapped in a bid to promote clean energy sources, according to a report presented in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

“More aggressive clean energy policies are required, including the removal of fossil fuel subsidies and implementation of transparent, predictable and adaptive incentives for cleaner, more efficient energy options,” said the Clean Energy Progress Report.

How the West was Lost

To butcher a quote from the 2009 movie “There Will Be Blood” – the emerging markets are starting to drink our milkshakes.

The coal milkshake went first. China surpassed the United States as the world’s largest coal consumer in 2009. Today, China uses more energy than the United States, by a 5-10% margin depending on who you ask.

What’s the next milkshake? It might be oil. China’s oil consumption doubled in the last 6-7 years:

An audacious new theory to compete with "Peak Oil": Hydrocarbons forever.

New companies say pulling carbon dioxide straight from the air could solve global warming and provide an infinite source of gasoline.

How high will gas prices go?

Jeff Rubin, former chief economist and managing director of CIBC World Markets, takes a different view. He thinks a gas price of $2 per litre at the pumps could become a reality as soon as 2012 due to soaring world demand, fuelled in large part by China and India.

“China alone added over a million barrels a day last year,” said Rubin, author of Why Your World Is About To Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization. “We’re seeing absolutely no cessation in world oil demand. I think we’re looking at prices by the end of the year testing, and quite possibly exceeding, the $147 a barrel mark we saw in 2008.”

Exporters oppose proposal of two holidays a week

KARACHI: Chairman Pakistan Tanners Association (PTA) South Zone, Aziz Ahmed has strongly opposed the idea of two holidays a week for energy conservation.

In a statement, he said that Pakistan’s economy which is already in its lowest ebb and many sectors are facing sheer crisis, the decision to observe two days off in a week may result in total collapse of industrial sector especially the exports would have to suffer most.

Indonesia: Living without fuel subsidies

Oil subsidies have become a serious topic for the government. Both the coordinating minister for the economy and finance minister do not hesitate to speak openly about a possible reduction of oil subsidies.

This is understandable because Indonesia’s status as a net oil importer since 2003 has stirred a panic every time world oil prices spike. The state of panic will be more severe if price volatility far exceeds the estimate used to draft the state budget.

South Korea: Ax the oil tax, please

Price controls, which many will remember from the days of military governments, have been revived. The Lee Myung-bak administration forced four private oil refinery companies - SK Energy, GS Caltex, Hyundai Oilbank and S-Oil - to cut their oil prices by 100 won ($0.09) per liter for three months. Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” of the market is now in the grip of the government’s very visible hand.

Mexico Pemex to invest $1 bln on pumping equipment

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's state-run oil company Pemex [PEMX.UL] said on Wednesday it is seeking bids on a near $1 billion project to buy crude extraction equipment for use in the Bay of Campeche.

The company wants to acquire electric submersible pumps in more than 100 wells to improve production in fields already operating in Campeche state on the Gulf of Mexico.

Gabon's oil production gets back to normal

LIBREVILLE — Gabon's oil production on Tuesday returned gradually to normal on Tuesday, producer companies said after a four-day strike, but fuel shortages affected the capital Libreville.

Forecasters: Above-average 2011 Atlantic hurricane season

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — This year will be an above-average Atlantic hurricane season, with a forecast of 16 named storms forming between June 1 and Nov. 30, Colorado State University researchers predicted Wednesday.

Aramco sells 2m barrels of new crude blends

(MENAFN) Saudi Aramco stated that it sold 2 million barrels of new blends of crude oil, and it plans on producing one more shipment of those blends for sale or storage, reported Times of Oman.

The oil giant also said that the 3 cargos were sold to BP and OMV in March. Aramco pointed out that the additional cargo would contain 1 million barrels.

The 20 million barrels of floating oil that could calm the market

Tiny Gabon has been among the places that have roiled oil markets this week. Workers in this west African country settled a four-day strike yesterday, but not before helping to send the widely traded U.K.-traded crude benchmark above $120 a barrel for the first time in almost three years. It involved just 240,000 barrels a day of production, but demonstrated the market's jitteriness since Libya's 1.1 million barrels a day of export oil was lost. There is a crisis premium of $15-$20 a barrel in the price of oil, most analysts agree, and probably more.

Yet all this time, between 20 million barrels and 36 million barrels of surplus oil have been anchored in floating storage (ships such as the tanker pictured above) in the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea, reports Thomas Strouse. This bounty belongs to Iran, which is the object of a United Nations sanctions regime that among other things seeks to stop its flow of crude oil revenue. If this oil were freely sold, it -- along with Saudi Arabia's increased exports -- would easily compensate for the lost Libyan cargoes for almost a month.

Gates tries to soothe Saudis rattled by unrest

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Defense Secretary Robert Gates tried to smooth the worst rift in years with Arab ally and oil producer Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, reassuring the Saudi king that the U.S. remains a steady friend despite support for pro-democracy revolutions in the Middle East.

The Saudi king, looking thin after months of medical treatment in the United States and elsewhere, welcomed Gates for what the Pentagon chief later said was a cordial and warm visit.

What Saudi's king has learned from Libya

Libya has bared an uncomfortable truth to Saudi King Abdullah, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, Kuwaiti Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and the rest of the petro-autocrats of the world:

When politically expedient, Washington will help to push you out of power.

Gadhafi to Obama: Please end airstrikes

WASHINGTON — Moammar Gadhafi has appealed directly to President Barack Obama to halt what the Libyan leader called "an unjust war" and wished Obama good luck in his bid for re-election next year.

In a rambling, three-page letter to Obama obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, Gadhafi implored Obama to stop the NATO-led air campaign, which the Libyan called an "unjust war against a small people of a developing country."

Attacks by Gadhafi forces damage rebel oil fields

BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) -- Three days of attacks by supporters of Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi have halted oil production in rebel-held fields in the country's east, a rebel spokesman said Wednesday.

The rebels had just begun exporting oil again after a weekslong hiatus in effort to raise funds for their struggle against Gadhafi who still controls the western half of the country.

Ex-Libyan oil minister says many Gadhafi insiders too scared to defect

LONDON — Several members of Moammar Gadhafi’s inner circle want to defect but are too scared about the safety of their families and friends to do so, Libya’s former energy minister said Wednesday.

Eni delays sale of stake in Libya field to Gazprom

(Reuters) - Eni and Gazprom have delayed an agreement on the sale to Gazprom of a part of Eni's stake in the Elephant oil field in Libya, Paolo Scaroni, the CEO of the Italian oil and gas company, said on Wednesday.

Al Qaeda Smells Blood

As President Ali Abdullah Saleh steadily loses support at home and abroad—including in Washington and Riyadh—al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula seems increasingly poised to be a major winner in Yemen. The AQAP threat to American cities and to the other states in the peninsula is going to increase as al Qaeda adapts to the new environment in the Muslim world.

Alberta Will Tighten Oil-Sands Regulation

The Alberta government said Tuesday it intends to set new environmental standards -- including outlining specific benchmarks for water contamination -- for areas affected by Canada's vast and growing oil-sands production in the western part of the country.

Failed Gulf blowout preventer didn't get overhaul

METAIRIE, La. — Components of the blowout preventer blamed for failing to stop last year's BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico were inspected regularly and replaced or repaired as needed, but the device, in service for nine years, never received a complete overhaul recommended after five years.

US, Mexico Work to Raise Bar in Gulf

Offshore drilling regulators from the U.S. and Mexico met Monday in a bid to strengthen standards governing oil and gas exploration throughout the Gulf.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the goal was a single "gold standard" for all Gulf of Mexico drilling, whether in U.S. or Mexican territorial waters.

Rolling blackouts ending this month in TEPCO areas

TOKYO — The Japanese government is working on ending within this month controversial rolling blackouts now conducted by Tokyo Electric Power Co to conserve electricity, government sources said Wednesday.

In Wake Of Nuclear Crisis, TEPCO's Plans Questioned

More than three weeks after an earthquake and tsunami set off one of the world's most serious nuclear accidents at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, experts are intensifying their scrutiny of how the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., has handled the crisis.

Some events TEPCO couldn't have foreseen — such as the massive size of the tsunami that swamped the coastal facility. But nuclear experts say that in the days following the initial series of explosions and fires inside the reactors, which caused fuel rods to melt and subsequent large releases of radiation, TEPCO made very costly — and avoidable — mistakes.

How radiation will change Japan

Radiation experts are painting a sobering picture of the Fukushima nuclear disaster's long-term impact on Japan in a series of reports published today by the journal Nature. At best, the country faces more than a decade of expensive cleanup, including the decommissioning of the reactor complex and the disposal of contaminated debris. At worst, wide areas of land around the complex will have to be abandoned, as they were in Ukraine after Chernobyl.

"On the basis of the Fukushima data so far, it seems likely that in some areas, food restrictions could hold for decades, particularly for wild foodstuffs such as mushrooms, berries and freshwater fish," the University of Portsmouth's Jim Smith, co-editor and lead author of "Chernobyl: Catastrophe and Consequences," wrote in a Nature commentary.

Japan faces another dilemma: Radiation-contaminated bodies

As if the Japanese government did not have enough on its hands, now it has this dilemma: What to do with as many as 1,000 bodies near the leaking Fukushima nuclear plant that may be contaminated with radiation.

Why the World Needs Nuclear Power

James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute, explains how future fourth generation nuclear power plants will be cleaner and safer because they will be able to burn highly radioactive spent fuel rods. Harnessing this technology will be pivotal for America’s future, he says.

Thorium is a great alternative energy source

The instability of nuclear power is being demonstrated at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. According to CNN, the radiation levels in seawater near the plant are 1,850 times higher than normal. Uranium is a volatile, dangerous energy source. What if there was a material that could yield higher energy levels than uranium, and it was cheap, safe and clean?

There is. It's called thorium, and it's everywhere.

Democrats raise concern about nuclear plant

(Reuters) - Democratic lawmakers warned a Pennsylvania nuclear power plant would be at risk of a meltdown in the case of a severe emergency, though top U.S. nuclear officials said the chances of such an event occurring were not likely.

End of the Nuclear Renaissance and the Future of Natural Gas

It may be hard to believe, but of all the nuclear power plants currently operating in the United States, every one broke ground prior to 1975. Even the most youthful nuclear facility is now approaching 40 years of age. There are currently 104 actively operating nuclear reactors in the United States (see the accompanying map) and despite more than 3 decades without a single new plant constructed, the installed base of nuclear generating capacity still produces 20% of all the electricity consumed in the United States.

75 year old killed Georgia, Armenia internet

Georgian police arrested a 75-year-old woman who single-handedly cut off Internet connections in Georgia and neighbouring Armenia, the interior ministry in Tbilisi said on Wednesday.

The pensioner was digging for scrap metal when she hacked into a fibre-optic cable which runs through Georgia to Armenia, forcing many thousands of Internet users in both countries offline for several hours on March 28.

Rest in Fleece: Woolen Coffins Offer Green Goodbye

Thanks to a growing demand for green funerals in Britain, Hainsworth's Natural Legacy caskets — each woven from the fleece of three sheep and capable of holding 840 lb. (380 kg) — have begun to carve out a share of the U.K.'s coffin market, which typically numbers around 500,000 a year.

Dmitry Orlov: Financial totalitarianism

Those who care to look can easily turn up plenty of evidence that the value of every type of financial asset, not just fiat currency or debt instruments, is unsupported. Its value derives from the goods and services provided by a functioning global industrial economy, which is quickly running out of every type of resource it requires; not just high-EROEI fossil fuels, but also metals, rare earth elements, phosphate, irrigation water and arable land. As industrial activity dwindles, worker productivity will decline precipitously. Many people point to precious metals as the ultimate storehouse of value, but without industrial equipment a man can only put out about 100 Watts of energy—a light bulb's worth—and won't dance any faster no matter how many gold or silver coins you throw at him.

TLC’s ‘Extreme Couponing’: Little piggies go to market, and clean up on Aisle 5

But my real beef, which I’m selling for half-off today, is that the subjects of “Extreme Couponing” are never seen stopping at a food bank on the way home to share some of their largess — except once, in the original “Extreme Couponing” special.

Everyone else on the show selfishly stores it away in hyper-organized garages, basements and spare closets — where all the labels must face a certain way, ordered by expiration date, before Mommy can sit down, relax, and clip and file still more coupons. “In a zombie apocalypse, we’d be fine for two years,” chuckles the overweight boyfriend of an extreme couponer in St. Louis, after he counts up 50 bags of snack chips.

Freedom through Frugality

Montpelier resident Jane Dwinell has followed the method in Your Money or Your Life to live frugally and retire in her mid-fifties. She celebrates and elaborates on the method in her new book, Freedom through Frugality.

Annie McCleary is coordinator for Transition Town Montpelier, part of the worldwide Transition movement, which helps Vermonters take control of their food, energy, and other resources, while moving from oil dependence to community resilience.

How California Can Reduce Its Dependence On Oil

Much of the Canadian oil is from the tar sands of British Columbia and Alberta. But California’s refineries and anti-pollution regulations require use of “sweet” (low sulfur) crude oil so our state’s imports are coming from Saudi Arabia and Ecuador.

The good news in our energy picture is natural gas. Alpert described it as “cheap, available and found in the U.S.A.” Its cost is only one-quarter that of oil and it produces only half the greenhouse gases of coal.

A film review: ‘Gasland’

The second half of the oil age will be very, very different from the first half. It is truly, to coin the term usually used to describe football, “a game of two halves”. The first half was awash with cheap, easy-to-find and easy-to-produce oil and gas. The second half will be the story of expensive-to-produce hydrocarbons, from increasingly inaccessible places, with a rapidly falling energy return on investment and an increasing impact, both environmentally and in terms of carbon emissions. It will be (unless we are able to break our addiction to hydrocarbons sooner rather than later) a wretched and increasingly desperate time of squeezing fuel out of anything we can. It will be the societal scraping of the barrel. If you want to know what that looks like, ‘Gasland’ offers a powerful, chilling, and enraging insight.

Richard Heinberg: Business Development: The cavalry’s on the way

A remarkable book appeared in 2004 to almost no fanfare and little critical notice. The author was Mats Larsson, a Swedish business consultant, and his book was titled The Limits of Business Development and Economic Growth. Unlike the thousands of business books published each year that promise to help managers become more effective, or that hint at new opportunities for profit, Larsson’s conveyed a sobering message—one that the business community evidently didn’t want to hear: Our human ability to invent genuinely new activities is probably limited, and most recent inventions have consisted merely of finding ways to speed up activities that humans have been performing for a very long time—communicating, transporting themselves and their goods, trading, and manufacturing. These processes can only be taken to the limits where things can be done at almost no time and at a very low cost, and we are fast approaching those limits.

International Conference on Global Land Grabbing

The focus of the conference will be on the politics of global land grabbing and agrarian change. Papers are expected to address some of the most urgent and strategic questions around global land grab.

Ethanol: How Much Can We Produce?

According to the paper, which was recently published by the Society of Chemical Industry in its Journal of Chemical Technology & Biotechnology, there is enough biomass in the United States to substantially reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil if that biomass is converted to ethanol.

That is a remarkable conclusion, and deserves recognition by the broader audience of policymakers and regulators working in Washington, DC, on our nation’s energy crisis.

BP's Landis Sees `Tremendous' Opportunities in Biofuels

(Bloomberg) -- Katrina Landis, chief executive officer of BP Plc's alternative-energy unit, discusses the outlook for the London-based company's investments in clean energy. Landis spoke yesterday with Erik Schatzker at the 2011 Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit.

Lakeport City Council votes to take action against SmartMeter installations

LAKEPORT, Calif. – The Lakeport City Council voted Tuesday night to bring back an ordinance similar to those passed last month by the Board of Supervisors and the Clearlake City Council to implement a moratorium on Pacific Gas & Electric's SmartMeter devices.

Cities, Towns, and Suburbs: Local goverment in a time of peak oil and climate change

Many responses to peak oil urge individual and community solutions, ignoring government. They argue that since government hasn't done anything to address the problem, citizens and businesses must take matters into their own hands. Some even argue that government is part of the problem, particularly federal and state governments.

This attitude is shortsighted.

Ed Koch: Energy and a Needed Czar

Requiring all existing 18-wheel trucks to use natural gas instead of diesel fuel, I've been told, would reduce oil imports from OPEC nations by half. The cost of conversion for current trucks would be approximately $64,000 per truck. Why not mandate the change, providing subsidies if required and appropriate? Why not require auto companies to only manufacture natural gas using trucks in the future?

John Ikerd: Dwindling Energy Resources Will Put The Economy at Risk

In this twelfth video in the series “Peak Oil and a Changing Climate” from The Nation and On The Earth Productions, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics of the University of Missouri at Columbia John Ikerd argues that humans cannot wait much longer to address the reality that economic growth is unsustainable—because the world is running out of energy resources. "We simply can't continue to grow at the rate we've been growing in the past."

Ikerd calls for a decentralized energy system using wind, solar or photovoltaic energy. As he outlines the problems of energy as they relate to economic prosperity, he says that we don't have to have continued economic wealth to have progress and happiness.

Finally, Ikerd says we "have to paint a vision for future" that can give people hope. We must show there is at least a possibility we will be able to tackle the impending peak oil and climate change crises.

The Cuckoo that won't sing. Sustainability and Japanese culture

Now, the two centuries and a half of the Edo Period are very interesting in terms of sustainability. It was not just a period of peace; it was also a period of stable economy and of stable population. Actually, that is not completely true, population increasing during the first part of the Edo period, but when it arrived to about 30 million, it stayed nearly constant for almost two centuries. I don't know of another society in history that managed such a period of stability. It was an example of what we call today "steady state" economy.

...In order to attain steady state, the Japanese had to manage well their resources and avoid wasting them. One thing they did was to get rid of the armies of the warring period. War is just too expensive for a steady state society. Then, they made big effort to maintain and increase their forests. You can read something on this point in Diamond's book. Coal from Kyushu may have helped a little in saving trees, but coal alone would not have been enough - it was the management of forests that did the trick. Forests were managed to the level of single trees by the government; a remarkable feat. Finally, the Japanese managed to control population. That was possibly the hardest part in an age when there were no contraceptives. From what I read, I understand that the poor had to use mainly infanticide and that must have been very hard for the Japanese, as it would be for us today. But the consequences of letting population grow unchecked would have been terrible; so they had to.

Canada needs to make emergency planning a priority

Today, thanks to its wise investments in the 1970s and 1980s, Denmark is a world leader in wind turbine technology. Not only do they use wind power themselves, they make and sell the turbines used throughout the world. As global warming goes from threat to crisis, and as peak oil again drives up fuel costs, Denmark is set to get rich while everyone else is going broke.

OPEC says can do no more to control $120 oil

(Reuters) - OPEC can do little to control prices driven by speculators betting on "worst case scenarios" and has already supplied the market with the oil it needs, members of the producer group said on Wednesday.

Oil on Wednesday traded above $122 a barrel for Brent crude, near two half-and-a-half year highs set this week.

"There is little we can do in terms of price control," UAE Oil Minister Mohammed bin Dhaen al-Hamli told an oil conference in Paris.

Iraq Deputy PM: High Oil Price Not Hurting Global Economic Growth

PARIS -(Dow Jones)- The current high oil price doesn't appear to have hurt global economic growth, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said Wednesday.

Oil could hit $200-$300 on Saudi unrest-Yamani

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil prices could rocket to $200- $300 a barrel if the world's top crude exporter Saudi Arabia is hit by serious political unrest, former Saudi oil minister Sheikh Zaki Yamani told Reuters on Tuesday.

Yamani said he saw no immediate sign of further trouble following protests last month calling for political reforms but said that underlying discontent remained unresolved.

Gazprom CEO, Belgian Crown Prince discuss gas storage, transit

“The sides discussed the development of bilateral energy cooperation, particularly Russian natural gas transit to third countries,” Gazprom said in a press release on Wednesday.

According to Gazprom, the participants in the meeting considered ways to expand cooperation between the Russian gas giant and Belgium’s Fluxys, including prospects for using the underground gas storage facility in Loenhout. The facility can expand its capacity in 2011.

Cuba to drill five new oil wells by 2013

Cuba has announced plans to drill five deepwater oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico beginning this summer, expressing confidence that its efforts will be rewarded with major new energy finds.

"We're about to move to the drilling phase," said Manuel Marrero, an official with the government authority tasked with overseeing Cuba's oil sector.

Norway Expects More Arctic Oil Drilling After Barents Sea Strike

Norway expects more drilling in its Arctic waters after Statoil ASA (STL)’s announcement last week of the first commercial find in the Barents Sea in more than 10 years.

“After Statoil’s discovery, we’ll be going through those maps again to see whether there are any opportunities we might have missed,” Bente Nyland, head of Norway’s Petroleum Directorate, said yesterday in an interview in Hammerfest, a town on country’s northern tip. “You’ll see more companies who’ve had a wait-and-see attitude coming in.”

Transocean execs donating safety bonuses to fund for oil spill victims

SAN FRANCISCO — Executives at the offshore drilling contractor at the center of last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill are donating bonuses they got for the company’s safety record last year.

The decision announced Tuesday comes just days after Transocean disclosed the bonuses deep in a regulatory filing, triggering intense criticism.

From Sea to Sea to Sea: Ignatieff looks to update Canada's motto

Soon after becoming leader of the federal Liberals in 2009, Ignatieff endorsed the idea of rewriting Canadas coat-of-arms catchphrase — "From Sea to Sea" — to "From Sea to Sea to Sea," symbolically recognizing that the country is bounded not only by its Pacific and Atlantic coasts, but also by the Arctic Ocean.

Ex-Tesco boss Leahy dismisses consumer doomsters

LONDON (Reuters) - Terry Leahy, the former boss of British supermarket giant Tesco, dismissed predictions of a major consumer downturn on Wednesday, saying a slow and steady recovery would come through when oil prices stabilise.

"I think we are in recovery. The economy will grow this year. It will be slow and steady," he told reporters on the sidelines of the Retail London conference.

UK output shock raises rate hike doubts

LONDON — British industrial output fell in February, confounding analysts’ forecasts for a rise on the back of a big monthly decline in oil and gas extraction due to maintenance work.

Brazil oil agency to regulate ethanol-report

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's National Petroleum Agency will regulate the chain of production of ethanol, the country's president, Dilma Rousseff, decided this week, a local newspaper reported Wednesday.

The agency known as ANP will begin drafting regulations that will treat ethanol as a "strategic fuel" and no longer as an agricultural commodity, reported Valor Economico newspaper. The fuel currently falls more under the control of the agriculture ministry.

Solar Power: Ready, Set, Grow

Even before Japan’s nuclear nightmare began, the solar power market in the U.S. and abroad were set for another year of remarkable growth, according to several analysts and industry leaders.

One such individual suggested recently that the only close analogy to the coming surge in solar photovoltaic panels (PV) is Apple, Inc.’s performance last year after the iPad took off.

Sewage Holding Tank Bursts, and Two Men Are Killed

Two workers died on Tuesday and millions of gallons of largely untreated sewage spewed into a river when a holding tank wall collapsed at a treatment plant in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

The river, the Little Pigeon, flows through the town of Pigeon Forge, which is seven miles north of the plant and is home to the Dollywood amusement park. It also flows through part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The treatment plant was rendered inoperable.

Brazil Rejects Panel’s Request to Stop Dam

SÃO PAULO — Brazil’s government emphatically refused on Tuesday to suspend work on a huge hydroelectric dam in the Amazon, despite pleas that the project could displace tens of thousands of indigenous people and cause environmental harm.

To Cut Smog, Navistar Blazes Risky Path of Its Own

From 2010 onward, all new truck engines must achieve tough, near-zero limits for NOx, a chief ingredient of smog. Virtually every truck maker besides Navistar chose to use an add-on system to their existing engines that uses a fluid cocktail to help neutralize the pollutant as it makes its way out of the exhaust.

Navistar went a different route, deciding to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to refine an engine that produces minimal NOx in the first place. At the same time, the company attacked the competing systems, suing federal air quality regulators and claiming that the add-on technology was so flawed that it failed to meet the clean-air requirements.

Better Cleanup Planned at Former Chrome Plant

Under a federal court settlement announced on Tuesday, PPG Industries of Pittsburgh has again committed itself to removing chromium waste from a 17-acre site in a densely populated area of Jersey City where the company and its predecessors ran a chromium manufacturing complex from 1924 to 1963. The project includes pollution that reached homes in the neighborhood. The new deal sets a higher standard for the cleanup than was previously agreed to.

Companies use microbes to turn Wyo. coal into gas

GILLETTE, Wyo. – New scientific research has a pair of energy companies betting that the future of the U.S. natural gas industry lies in persuading microorganisms to treat old coal deposits like all-you-can eat buffets.

The Rich Are Different: They Can Buy More Sand

An economist, an oceanographer and an expert in complex systems have just published a study posing a question: What happens if physical predictions about the erosive force of future storms are entwined with economic predictions of how coastal towns deal with the loss of their beaches?

Their models essentially yield this answer: If the cost of replacement sand increases as the supply decreases, richer communities will use up most of the sand. That will hold true whether or not the wealthier towns are more prone to erosion than those with lower property values.

Fossil Fuels Growth Criticized by IEA as Energy Leaders Meet in Abu Dhabi

Global hunger for coal and natural gas is outpacing demand for renewable energy, the International Energy Agency said in a report asking governments to ramp up incentives to clean power and cut them for fossil fuels.

Coal, the dirtiest carbon-based fuel widely used for power generation, has met 47 percent of new worldwide electricity demand in the past decade and gas accounted for 33 percent, the Paris-based agency said in a report. That compares with a 6.5 percent share for plants that burn waste or use renewable sources such as the wind and sun.

Cost of gas weaves its way into all aspects of life

WASHINGTON — Quick: What do these things have in common? Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Wall Street volatility. A cranky, even angry American populace.

Answer: They all have something to do with gasoline.

No matter what happens in the world today, just about everything seems to point back to fuel and the tricky politics that emerge when prices spike.

The links aren't lost on President Barack Obama, and for good reason. Like death and taxes, this cycle is a certainty: Prices at the pump rise, the public's mood falls and the president gets punished.

6 surprising ways oil prices affect you

Oil shows up in thousands of places besides your car's fuel tank and engine. It's true that most oil is used as a source of energy in the United States and that's not likely to change anytime soon. The average barrel of oil yields the following: gasoline (42%), diesel (20%), jet fuel (9%), heating oil (4.5%), heavy fuel oil (4.5%), liquefied petroleum gases (4.5%) and other products (16%).

Biggest market risk: Middle East turmoil

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- No one saw it coming. As champagne corks popped and confetti swirled to usher in 2011, most experts pointed to Europe's ongoing sovereign debt crisis as the market's biggest hurdle this year.

But all that changed in January, when violence and chaos heated up across the Arab world, starting with massive protests that toppled Tunisia's longtime authoritarian leader. It didn't end there: Egypt, Libya, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia are among the hottest spots right now, and not in a good way.

Cost of driving has risen 3.4%, study finds

Rising gas prices. Costlier tires. Lousy deals on vehicle resales. If it seems that it’s costing more to operate a motor vehicle these days, that’s because it is — 3.4% more than a year ago, according to auto club AAA.

The average annual cost to own and operate a sedan in the USA, based on 15,000 miles of driving, rose 1.9 cents per mile to 58.5 cents per mile, or $8,776, says AAA’s 2011 “Your Driving Costs” study.

The increased costs to own and operate a vehicle were driven mainly by large increases in fuel prices, depreciation costs and tire prices, says John Nielsen, AAA national director of auto repair, buying and consumer programs.

Oil hovers above $108 amid mixed US supply report

Oil prices hovered above $108 a barrel Wednesday, boosted by a weaker dollar and the unrest in Libya, even as a U.S. crude supply report showed mixed signals about demand.

Jeff Rubin: Only recessions can deliver Obama's energy targets

In many ways, Obama’s plan is reminiscent of his predecessors by supporting more government subsidies for energy alternatives such as nuclear and bio fuels. Higher fuel efficiency standards will be mandated for cars and trucks. And, of course, there will be increased reliance on offshore drilling for deep water oil and on hydraulic fracturing in pursuit of America’s new wonder fuel: shale gas.

Unfortunately, these initiatives have in one way or another been tried before by previous administrations. And many look less credible than they have in the past.

ClearView's Book Says `Peak Oil' Discussion Is `Silly'

(Bloomberg) -- Kevin Book, managing director at ClearView Energy Partners LLC, talks about Saudi Arabia and the outlook for oil.

Energy options limited by peak oil and climate change

The International Energy Agency, the energy watchdog to industrialised countries, says global crude oil output peaked in 2006, meaning the world is now forced to glean oil from unconventional sources like oil sands and natural gas liquids.

Those alternatives, as well as renewable energy and nuclear power, are more expensive and would force the world into a more frugal future, according to Richard Heinberg, who coined the notion of “Peak Everything” in his 2007 book of the same title.

Will 'Peak Oil' save the planet?

But as the ranks of nations snapping up the energy-intense vision of the developed world has grown, with the vast populations of China and India eagerly joining the party, some harsh realities are starting to kick in. Simply put, the oil pantry is starting to look increasingly bare; the long strides up of oil production, to meet burgeoning demand, have faltered. To many geologists, the long shadow of 'Peak Oil' is upon us - and that could mean serious problems for a world addicted to oil.

Novorossiysk Loses Cargo as Putin Sends Oil Flows to Asia

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s quest to sell oil to China, the world’s hungriest market, may lock in a $797-million decline in value at the country’s biggest port.

OAO Novorossiysk Commercial Sea Port on the Black Sea, Russia’s biggest outlet to the Mediterranean, is likely to lose crude volumes to a new pipeline to Russia’s Pacific coast and to China. The project creates “notable competition” to European deliveries, Putin, 58, said in August at the ceremonial opening of the China spur in eastern Siberia.

China to raise gasoline, diesel prices from Thurs - oil exec

(Reuters) - China will raise retail gasoline prices by 500 yuan per tonne and diesel by 400 yuan per tonne from Thursday, an oil executive told Reuters, confirming an earlier industry report.

Kuwait to put $340bn into oil and gas industry

KUWAIT CITY // The Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) is spearheading a US$340 billion (Dh1.24 trillion) investment master plan to transform the nation's energy policy.

In the next five years alone, state-owned KPC is due to spend $90bn on oil and gas projects, Hashim al Rifai, its managing director, told an oil and gas summit in the capital yesterday.

Iran: No emergency OPEC meeting

CAIRO - Iran's OPEC governor says there is no need for the producer group to hold an emergency meeting, even as oil prices have surged by 30 percent since February over unrest in the Arab world.

Citigroup Boosts Commodity Investment Team to Tap Demand as Prices Surge

Citigroup Inc. (C), the third-largest U.S. bank by assets, is seeking to expand its commodity investment product team by a third over the next two years to tap growing demand as copper, gold and cotton gain to records.

The bank plans to add 10 people to the 30-strong group, Iain Armitage, a managing director and London-based head of the team, said in an interview in Singapore. Citigroup is also setting up a commodity trading unit in Shanghai, he said. China is the world’s biggest user of raw materials.

Ex-militants pose latent threat to Nigerian oil

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria (Reuters) - Sat at the bar in a dingy former hotel on the edge of Nigeria's oil hub Port Harcourt, Silas Pyale lifts a muscular arm and points to a deep gash in his head.

"A bullet did that," says the 31-year old, staring into the middle distance. "We all hope those days are over but if there are no jobs, no money, it will be back to the old ways ... But even worse than before."

Germany won't funnel oil money from India to Iran

A German official says a deal to funnel oil payments from India to Iran through Germany's central bank has been scrapped.

The official said Tuesday that the Indians involved decided "they wanted to use other means of payment from now on."

Saudi Arabia steady amid the turbulence

Fuelled by surging oil prices, higher crude output and increases in government and consumer spending, Credit Suisse expects Saudi Arabia's real GDP to grow 5.7 per cent this year and 4.9 per cent next year.

China to drive world oil demand

China trails only the U.S. in oil consumption and is expected to drive world demand in coming years.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, China's growing energy appetites will account for about 40 percent of increased world demand this year. China will boost oil consumption this year by another 600,000 barrels per day. The U.S. will increase consumption by 130,000 barrels per day.

Algeria's ex-energy minister warns Arab turmoil to have 'dramatic' effect on energy market

PARIS - Algeria's former energy minister warned Wednesday the ongoing political and social turmoil in the Arab world will have "dramatic" implications for energy markets in coming years.

While the outcome of the Arab revolutions is "by no means certain," it is already evident that "important changes are in progress that are likely to impact energy markets in the long term," Nordine Ait-Laoussine said.

Gulf between Arab-Iran rivals grows stormy

This is a lesson in the new tone of the Gulf after the jolt of the Middle East uprisings: louder, more confrontational and pulling the region's Western-backed militaries out of their long-standing background roles and into complicated conflicts in Bahrain and Libya.

The immediate message is that the Mideast upheavals have thrust the Gulf Arab rulers into self-preservation mode. But nearly all their key decisions also are shaped by long-range concerns about Iranian influence.

Now, a growing confidence and unity on how to confront Iran may be among the main policy shifts within the Gulf states after years of letting Washington take the lead, experts say.

Gates to discuss Arab upheaval with Saudi king

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in the Saudi capital Wednesday for talks with King Abdullah on coping with the political upheaval sweeping the Arab world, blunting Iranian efforts to exploit the unrest, and upgrading the kingdom's defenses against Iranian missiles.

Lebanon-Israel Tensions Rise over Offshore Oil and Gas

For most countries, the existence of a massive fossil-fuel deposit within its sovereign territory would be gratefully welcomed as an economic windfall. But the delight in Israel at the recent giant gas discovery off its northern coastline is tempered by the knowledge that it could provide the spark to ignite the next war between the Jewish state and its mortal foe to the north, Lebanon's militant Shi'ite Hizballah.

The stakes are enormous. Both Lebanon and Israel currently have little or no oil or gas deposits, and are dependent on neighboring countries for importing fuel and power. Israel presently relies on Egypt for most of its gas, but the durability of that arrangement has been cast into doubt following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak's regime. The Egyptian pipeline supplying gas to Israel and Jordan was blown up in January and only began operating again last week.

NATO Blamed as Libyan Rebels Flee Assault By Qaddafi Forces

Libyan rebels retreated under heavy fire from the central oil port of Brega, prompting their top commander to lash out at NATO for not doing enough to stop artillery attacks by Muammar Qaddafi’s forces.

Libya imports gasoline as lengthy queues abound

TRIPOLI (AFP) - The government of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi has imported 19,000 tonnes of gasoline, a source close to the state oil company said on Wednesday, as the capital suffers from fuel shortages.

Libyan rebels to resume oil exports through tanker

A tanker arrived in Libya's rebel-held port of Marsa el-Hariga on Tuesday to load up a shipment of oil for export, potentially giving opponents of Moammar Gadhafi crucial funding amid escalating violence.

The Equator tanker, which can carry 1 million barrels of oil, was chartered by Geneva-based oil trader Vitol SA, according to London-based shipping data provider Lloyd's Intelligence and a person with knowledge of the vessel's movements.

Russia Says Unrest In Middle East Is Threat To Its Oil Interests

(RTTNews) - Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who is touring the United States, has said that surging unrest in the Middle East, particularly in major oil exporting countries, is a threat to Russia's oil interests.

Talking to Russian reporters after meeting with high-ranking U.S. officials in Washington, Ivanov said "such conflicts, which result in instability and an inevitable sharp increase in energy prices, are not beneficial for Russia."

Why Overthrowing Gaddafi Is Overrated

As Obama pointed out in his speech, deposing Gaddafi by force would involve a military commitment that Americans neither want nor can afford. And even if the U.S. were not already struggling to extricate itself from two land wars, a concerted military campaign to remove Gaddafi from power would be shortsighted and strategically foolish. Despite the claims of armchair generals in Washington, there's no evidence that stopping the large-scale slaughter of civilians — the stated reason for international intervention in Libya — requires Western-sponsored regime change. Nor is it obvious that the Libyan people would be better off in the long run. In fact, history suggests that employing U.S. military power to overthrow Gaddafi would do Libya more harm than good.

Crime wave grips Egypt, absence of police blamed

A police state barely three months ago, Egypt has seen crime soar 200 percent since Hosni Mubarak's ouster from the presidency. Murder, violent theft and kidnapping are leading the surge, security officials said.

In many ways, this country of more than 80 million has become a free-for-all for criminals taking advantage of a weakened police force and political uncertainty. The spike in crime has made some nostalgic for Mubarak days, when the mostly corrupt and now discredited police force used torture, intimidation and blackmail to keep crime in check.

Gbagbo's home in Ivory Coast comes under attack

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – Heavy arms fire rang out Wednesday near the home of the country's strongman who remained holed up in a subterranean bunker, as forces backing his rival assaulted the residence to try to force him out, diplomats and witnesses said.

Oil Sands Lobbying without End, Vows American Petroleum Institute

Cindy Schild enjoys living in Washington, D.C. It’s got a small, "walkable" downtown, she says, and isn't "sprawling and vanilla" like many other American cities.

Schild does public relations for the American Petroleum Institute (API), considered the top oil and gas lobby group on Capitol Hill. Part of its job is to lead lobbying campaigns that keep the U.S. reliant on high-carbon Alberta crude.

Schild would love to see less gasoline being pumped into people's cars, but let's face it, she says, "We certainly don't have consumers that are willing to conserve."

Government eyes blowout preventer rules

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The government is weighing whether more standards are needed for the emergency devices that failed to prevent last year's massive BP oil spill, after an investigation uncovered a possible design flaw, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on Tuesday.

US to share BP oil spill lessons at international forum

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States has invited energy officials from a dozen countries to a forum next week to share lessons learned from last year's devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a US official said Tuesday.

"The idea of the containment forum is to share information that we have learned from our searing experience with the Macondo well," US Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes told a news teleconference from Mexico.

Transportation Chief to Unveil Pipeline Safety Effort

WASHINGTON — With so many pipeline accidents in the last few months that federal investigators cannot get to them all, the secretary of transportation plans to introduce a safety campaign on Monday aimed at coordinating federal, state and local oversight and making more information available to the public about potential hazards under foot.

Survivors of Calif explosion to address regulators

SAN FRANCISCO – Survivors of a deadly gas pipeline explosion that ravaged a suburban neighborhood near San Francisco were preparing to testify before California regulators on Tuesday, as officials sought input on how to strengthen crucial safety rules for the industry.

Japan nuke firm offers 'condolence money'

TOKYO — The operator of Japan's crippled nuclear power plant started paying "condolence money" Tuesday to victims of the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl as highly radioactive water continued to pour into the sea.

Japan stops radioactive water leak into ocean

The utility that owns Japan's crippled nuclear reactor says that highly radioactive water has stopped leaking into the ocean.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. spokesman Naoki Tsunoda said today that TEPCO's attempt to stem the leak — by injecting 400 gallons of "water glass," or sodium silicate, and another agent near a seaside pit where the water was leaking — appeared to have been successful.

Fishing Halted in Japan’s Ibaraki After Radioactive Water Contaminates Sea

Fishermen in Ibaraki prefecture, Japan’s fifth-largest seafood producer, halted operations after tainted fish were detected south of Fukushima, where radioactive water from a stricken nuclear plant contaminated the sea.

Worried about a radioactive ocean? A reality check

NEW YORK – This week, workers at the stricken Japanese nuclear plant dumped radioactive water into the ocean to make room for storing even more highly contaminated water on the site. The water dumping came after earlier leaks of radioactive water that had already raised concerns about its effects in the ocean, raising questions about health and safety. Here are answers to some of those questions.

Crisis Saddles Village With Unwanted Notoriety

Iitate, near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, is struggling with questions about safety, evacuations and farming.

Should rural towns in Japan be rebuilt?

Like many rural communities in the USA, Rikuzentakata and countless towns and villages along Japan's ravaged coastline were home to largely elderly populations, left behind by younger people who moved inland and to the south for better jobs than the fishing and agricultural work this area could offer.

Now, the question of how — or whether — to rebuild such rural communities hangs over reconstruction efforts.

U.S. Sees Array of New Threats at Japan’s Nuclear Plant

United States government engineers sent to help with the crisis in Japan are warning that the troubled nuclear plant there is facing a wide array of fresh threats that could persist indefinitely, and that in some cases are expected to increase as a result of the very measures being taken to keep the plant stable, according to a confidential assessment prepared by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Nicole Foss Provides an Education on Nuclear Energy

(Investorideas.com Mining stocks newswire) The following interview took place just after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear tragedies occurred in Japan. I found my guest, Nichole Foss to be one of the best interviews I have conducted. She spoke coherently and more importantly she provided a very educated objective view on nuclear energy in terms of its risks and its necessity if humankind is going to avoid freezing to death. I expect to have her on my show again in the very near future to explore the connections between energy and the global economy as well as to discuss the horrible condition our financial markets are in. Here is the transcript of my discussion with Nicole Foss.

Germany falls back on coal

Germany will extend the life of coal-fired power stations to replace supply from the nuclear plants that could be shut down in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

Republicans Open Inquiry on Yucca Mountain Shutdown

Republican leaders have begun a formal inquiry into the Obama administration’s decision to halt development of a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

South African plan includes 9.6GW of nuclear 05 April 2011

South Africa’s cabinet have approved a 20-year Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) that calls for nuclear power to fuel a fifth of country’s new electricity production by 2030. The document is currently going through promulgation or the process of being declared as a new law.

Hitachi president says to review nuclear target - Kyodo

(Reuters) - Hitachi Ltd will review its target to secure 38 nuclear power generation projects over the next two decades, in light of Japan's protracted nuclear crisis, Kyodo news agency quoted the electronics firm's president Hiroaki Nakanishi as saying on Wednesday.

Toyota sells its millionth Prius hybrid in the U.S.

Toyota accompanied every dessert at its greeny-green Sustainable Mobility Seminar last night in La Jolla, Calif., with its own sweet news: a press release announcing it has just sold its 1 millionth Prius hybrid in the U.S.

Our view: Greenlight high-speed rail in dense corridors

Travelers in China, Japan, France and several other countries can hop onto sleek bullet trains and race between cities at 150 to 220 miles per hour, zipping past clogged highways and bypassing airport hassles. Picture that here. New York City to Washington, D.C., for example, now takes almost three hours, even on Amtrak's Acela. Imagine cutting that trip to, say, 90 minutes or less. Sweet.

Opposing view: Fast train to nowhere

Experts agree that the most successful rail corridors in Europe and Japan are those linking major cities 100 miles to 400 miles apart. What many studies neglect to mention, however, is that those cities are highly concentrated, with major fractions of their jobs in a traditional "central business district," unlike the large majority of decentralized U.S. metro areas. So most people there do want to go downtown-to-downtown, whereas most Americans need to travel suburb-to-suburb.

All aboard the train

You might have seen the bumper sticker Without trucks Australia stops: a sad but true comment on our addiction to oil. Few appreciate the role transport plays in creating the wealth that most take for granted. Adam Smith pointed out in Wealth of Nations that specialization of tasks leads to greater efficiencies and higher production. But to realise the wealth that increased production potentially brings, a product must be delivered to a consumer.

Peak Stuff?

Riversimple's strategy is based on a belief that with peak oil you can't modernize cars incrementally -- you need transformative change. That change must deal with the reality that, although resource/oil-intensive vehicles may have a very low purchase price, we can't afford to operate them. But innovative solutions, if conventionally marketed, will cost too much to take over the market. And that is why a different ownership model is necessary. (Indeed, one of the major cost components of the lithium ion batteries being used by the Nissan Leaf is an overbuilding of the battery to meet the current 40,000-mile warranty of power trains -- when no one really knows how long these batteries will last.)

Will you commute via 'personal rapid transit?'

(CNN) -- Imagine stepping onto a cold, windy platform at 2 in the morning and waiting just a few seconds for the transit car to show up.

Imagine getting in the car and zipping right by stations as you go directly to your destination.

Imagine always having a seat on the train.

Believe it or not, you're imagining a concept that's more than 50 years old, but still very rare in the real world.

Chaos in energy sector drives gains in clean energy

NEW YORK — Funds that invest all their cash in companies tied to alternative energy, clean technology, the oil industry and other natural resources soared 13.7% in the first three months of the year, benefiting from turmoil in the oil-rich Middle East and the anti-nuclear sentiment after the accident in Japan.

Solar Costs May Already Rival Coal, Spurring Installation

Solar panel installations may surge in the next two years as the cost of generating electricity from the sun rivals coal-fueled plants, industry executives and analysts said.

Large photovoltaic projects will cost $1.45 a watt to build by 2020, half the current price, Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimated today. The London-based research company says solar is viable against fossil fuels on the electric grid in the most sunny regions such as the Middle East.

Solar power brings night-time soccer to Kenya slum

NAIROBI (AFP) – It is eight in the evening and amateur teams of youngsters drawn from one of Nairobi's toughest slums are locked in a five-a-side soccer match.

Normally they would have gone home long before dark to avoid the unsafe night-time streets of Mathare. But that was before the stadium became the first in Kenya to get solar-powered floodlighting, an incentive to stay on.

'Saudi Arabia of Wind' Has Trouble Figuring Out How to Get the Power Out

Often referred to as the "Saudi Arabia of wind," North Dakota has a big stake in the nation's wind power development. So do the farmers and landowners whose property the turbines go on. Some are getting easement payments that add up to $10,000 a year, explained Chad Weckerly, a grain, wheat, corn and soybean farmer, and many of those payments increase 2 percent each year.

So far, though, backers of the proposed trans-Dakota line have been on a learning curve, running into a snarl of reasons showing that very little is easy about being green.

Global wind power grows 24 percent on China boost

(Reuters) - Global wind power capacity grew 24 percent to 197 gigawatts in 2010, due to revised figures for new installed capacity in China, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) said on Wednesday.

Let There Be Light Bulbs

The great thing about this battle, which has spawned predictions of widespread light-bulb-hoarding, is that it will take your mind off Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq and the pending government shut-down. It’s a little like the Donald Trump presidential candidacy, only less irritating.

Energy and tech jobs: where job hiring is (finally) happening

Postings for tech jobs were up 30 percent last month compared with a year ago, according to Craigslist. Job hiring already resulted in upbeat employment numbers last week.

China sees the evil of plastic bags

For years, I've been going after Friedman hammer and tongs for his authoritarian fetish. But perhaps the most damning critique is that banning plastic bags isn't necessarily the optimal policy.

Energy Efficiency Has Yet to Learn the Drill in the Military

Three years ago, the Army began coating its tents in Iraq with 3 inches of spray-on foam in an effort to slash energy needs and trap costly air conditioning inside.

The initiative was widely praised as a major success -- helping curb the number of fuel-toting convoys weaving through dangerous terrain and significantly tamping down energy bills -- to the tune of more than $1 million a day, according to Army numbers.

But even as Defense Department officials herald the effort as a triumph and point to it as one of their chief success stories on curbing battle energy use, the Army has quietly stopped using the foam, citing a variety of reasons in a series of phone calls and emails with ClimateWire.

KKR Barbarians Go Green as Buyout Firms Profit Cutting Energy

For much of 2006 and into 2007, Environmental Defense Fund had been battling to stop TXU Corp., Texas’s largest power producer, from building 11 coal-fired plants. The barrage of lawsuits, town-hall meetings and online community groups was also becoming a major headache for KKR & Co., TPG Capital and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s private-equity arm, which were planning the world’s biggest leveraged buyout of the utility company.

Welsh farms 'lead food security battle'

Welsh family farms will play a pivotal role in maintaining food security as the world meets the challenges of global warming, rising sea levels and peak oil production, according to the Farmers Union of Wales.

Oklahoma sees driest 4 months since Dust Bowl

Oklahoma was drier in the four months following Thanksgiving than it has been in any similar period since 1921. That's saying a lot in the state known for the 1930s Dust Bowl, when drought and high winds generated severe dust storms that stripped the land of its topsoil.

Neighboring states are in similar shape as the drought stretches from the Louisiana Gulf coast to Colorado, and conditions are getting worse, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The area in Texas covered by an extreme drought has tripled in the past month to 40 percent, and in Oklahoma it nearly doubled in one week to 16 percent, according to the monitor's March 29 update.

White House Promises Veto of Anti-E.P.A. Bill

In case there was any doubt, the White House on Tuesday issued a formal statement opposing a bill now before the House that would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases for the purpose of combating climate change.

Krugman: The Truth, Still Inconvenient

So the joke begins like this: An economist, a lawyer and a professor of marketing walk into a room. What’s the punch line? They were three of the five “expert witnesses” Republicans called for last week’s Congressional hearing on climate science.

But the joke actually ended up being on the Republicans, when one of the two actual scientists they invited to testify went off script.

China government academy urges carbon emissions peak by 2030

BEIJING - China, the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter, should strive to reach a peak in emissions by 2030, a new government-sponsored study says, warning of the approaching limits to the nation's coal-powered economic ascent.

China's high and rapidly climbing output of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas pollutant from burning coal, oil and gas, has put it in the centre of negotiations for a new world pact to reduce the emissions that fuel global warming.

UN climate chief urges action on Kyoto Protocol

BANGKOK (AFP) – The United Nations' climate chief warned Tuesday that the success of this year's global warming negotiations hinged on countries resolving deep differences over the future of the Kyoto Protocol.

Christiana Figueres said breakthroughs made at an annual UN summit in the Mexican resort of Cancun in December allowing other actions to combat climate change could be jeopardised by the stalemate over the protocol.

Arctic freshwater pool could change climate

AMSTERDAM — Scientists are monitoring a massive pool of fresh water in the Arctic Ocean that could spill into the Atlantic and potentially alter the key ocean currents that give Western Europe its moderate climate.

The oceanographers said yesterday that the unusual accumulation has been caused by Siberian and Canadian rivers dumping more water into the Arctic and from melting sea ice. Both are consequences of global warming.

Re: Arctic freshwater pool could change climate

Sorry folks, Global Climate Change isn't going away. It's getting stronger as the sea-ice melts away. Should all this relatively fresh water make it into the Nordic and Labrador Seas, presently the main areas for the thermohaline circulation (THC), the THC could easily shutdown. Or, the sinking could be displaced, either further to the south into the North Atlantic as during the Ice Ages or further north into the eastern Arctic Ocean. I wish someone would tell the Tea Party loonies what's happening. Instead, as Krugman points out, they bring in economists and lawyers to testify and one of the prime members of the denialist camp, John Christy..

E. Swanson

I've talked to denialists about AGW, and in particular the THC. My observation of their responses is they are unable to comprehend a paradox, i.e. the shutting down of the THC from fresh water flow due to AGW could lead to an ice age. And maybe that's a clue as to why AGW is not a concept they can understand either. Maybe they just don't have the capability to process that type of information.

But I contend we don't need the denialists to take action. Whatever action is needed to avert disaster should be taken by those that understand the situation. The problem then is what action should be taken? Renewables to replace fossil fuel usage will take a lot of time, time we no longer have because too much CO2 is in the atmosphere and has already impacted the Arctic. The time for concerted action was probably back in Carter's Administration. But his vision was rejected by the BAU crowd. So we live with that decision and its consequences.

"But I contend we don't need the denialists to take action."

Denialists make up the vast majority of the developed world.

The ONLY real effective action is the vast majority of the developed world shows the rest of the world how it's done and POWER DOWN significantly.

But maybe a deep Global Depression and WW3 can accomplish that without having to even convert the deniers?

But maybe a deep Global Depression and WW3 can accomplish that without having to even convert the deniers?

Ah! Then there may still be some hope...

Denialists make up the vast majority of the developed world.

Disagree. My understanding is the denialists are mostly here in the US, and the same ones that think God would never do anything to harm us. How do you contend with that? Forget it, just move on and do what can be done without them.

Correct. Among european christians, denialists do exist, but are a minority. I think a lot of this boils down to that we don't have a Republican party here, instead we have Christian Democrats. Wich is an entirly diffrent animal.

And there lies a feed back in this too; when the THC shuts down, we will lose one sink of CO2, the one where CO2 is absorbed in the ocean and then sink down with the water to the bottom of the sea. So more CO" that gets into the atmosphere will stay there.

From NSIDC Ice extent low at start of melt season; ice age increases over last year

Arctic sea ice extent for the month of March 2011 was the second lowest in the satellite record. Sea ice reached its maximum extent on March 7; extent on this date tied for the lowest winter maximum extent in the satellite record. Air temperatures over most of the Arctic Ocean were above normal. New data on ice age shows that the amount of older, thicker ice has increased slightly over last year.

...Air temperatures over almost all of the Arctic Ocean were above average, reaching 7 to 9 degrees Celsius (13 to 16 degrees Fahrenheit) above average over the Chukchi Sea. Below-average temperatures were found over Greenland, the Norwegian Sea and part of Canada.

And the temperatures are running hot these days in Texas. There are reports of several rather high temperatures today (maybe records?), including 100F at Vernon, 100F at Wichita Falls, 98F at Brownwood, 98F at Pecos and 97 at Snyder. One station, Tye, Tx, reported 106F There was another round of such temperatures last weekend as warm air flowed north. The contrast across the boundary between the warm and cold air produced some rather "interesting" weather. Just the normal Spring time pattern, but these temperatures make things a bit more violent. These temperatures also make the potential for fire much worse as well...

E. Swanson

....New data on ice age shows that the amount of older, thicker ice has increased slightly over last year.

Would that be that the percentage of ice that is older has increased? If the amount of total ice is decreasing, it follows that the older ice must decrease. Only its ratio to new ice can increase. Am I missing something? Just askin'..

Ghung, here is the link explaining the old ice increase.


Scroll down to get the April 5 report.

All it says is, 'New data on ice age shows that the amount of older, thicker ice has increased slightly over last year.'

May be true, yet the overall trend is a long term loss of old ice.

I think the key word here is "slightly".

September minimum 2010 was the 3:rd lowest ever. This years spring maximum was lowest ever shared with 2005. This means that the ice building in this winter was lower than what needs to be to sustain the ice cover.

So how come the old ice increased? Logicly because the ice that melted the previous melt season mostly was one year ice. Some old ice melted but that loss was covered to a little more than 100% by first year ice tht survived into this year.

If we move focus away from ice coverage and look at thickness, volume and quality as well as excactly where the ice is located, then this years ocean ice is the worst ever. Volume is the lowest or second lowest there ever has been, weakened sections streches far into the central ice pack, and important land attatchemnts broke away last meltng season (the Northwest Passage opened up last summer for the first time). This ice is in very poor condition, and only a cold summer and winter can build it stronger. A repeat of last summer will take out a lot of ice.

My prediction on that account is this year will be colder than 2010, but 2012 will be warmer than 2011.

I was wondering whether (and hoping that) the precipitous loss of old ice would flatten out eventually.

One reason it has is that virtually all the old ice is gone already.

It's as if all the people in Japan started dying of radiation poison and as the last few remaining people in the hinterland held on someone might point out that the rate of population loss was slowing.

The other thing often overlooked is that soot has probably playing some roll in the melting. As the older sooty ice melted, it got darker and darker. With it gone completely, the newer ice won't have as high a concentration of soot, so it has a chance to grow for a while, perhaps.

Methane loss from seabed and tundra is now somewhere between enormous and absolutely catastrophic, so we should expect increased warming from here on out (along with bigger and bigger holes in the ozone).

I would be very surprized (like as in Santa realy do exist) if ice loss flattens out. Ice reflects 90% of solar radiation,while open water absorbs 90%. So if the ice coverage gets to thin, it accelerates the heat absorbtion wich maintains the ice loss,in worst case accelearates it. This thing is not going to slow down.

As you point out,we get a secondary effect in formof methane emissions so it will start getting even warmer there. Smart investors will buy land at northern Greenland. Wich actually stands a chance of finaly deserving its name.

Actually, the albedo of water and sea-ice are more complicated than that. At high northern latitudes, the sun never rises high above the horizon, thus open water reflects more of the direct incident sunlight than it would at lower latitudes when the sun is high overhead. At low latitudes, the albedo is as low as 5%, but near the pole, it can be as high as 30%. Similarly, sea-ice when covered with fresh snow will have a high albedo, near 90%, but as the sea-ice warms and begins to melt, ponds form and the albedo drops considerably, to as low as 40% as the area of the ponds becomes large. In both cases, the diffuse component may result in albedos nearer the low latitude case, but the amount of energy in the diffuse component can be low.

I think that there is confusion about the albedo caused by photographs taken from satellites, which capture light from the surface which has been reflected nearly vertically and that effect may give the appearance of the albedo difference you mention...

E. Swanson

So rather than being 90 versus 10, the summer albedo difference change is probably more like 65 goes to 35. Then the difference is further reduced by clouds ang fog. I would guess the net difference is more like ten percent of incoming solar. The open waters do lose more heat to the atmosphere quicker once the cold season starts, than ice -especially snow covered ice, so the system is partially healing.

The time scale for the heat pulse to be conducted deep into the sediments to decompose the methane hydrates is also pretty long. I'm not worried about the undersea hydrates. Near land surface hydrates within permafrost could be a different matter. And the vast amount of biocarbon that was locked in permafrost is also a worry from both the methane and CO2 perspectives.

I do hope your insouciance re undersea hydrates ends up being justified.

But keep a couple points in mind:

Much of the vast continental shelf north of Siberia is very shallow--tens of meters deep.

As the Arctic becomes more and more ice free for more and more of the year, the dampening effect of sea ice on surface waves is eliminated and much more agitation and churning occur, some of which propagates down to the very shallow depths just mentioned.

The scientists actually working in the area (Shakhova, Semiletov, Leifer, etc) are reporting large increases in the rate of methane release from ESAS, with some reports of very rapid, sudden releases. More study is definitely needed to understand the exact nature of what is happening up there, but it certainly seems premature to assume that nothing dramatic could occur (or is occurring).

And, yes, the vast tundra is certainly already melting and releasing carbon dioxide and methane. The difference with the sub-sea methane is that there could be a triggers that produce a cascading effect--undersea landslides, melting of clathrate cap releasing large pools of free methane beneath...

Most models, if they consider this at all, are only looking at steady, gradual increases. But discontinuities of various sorts are likely in this case.

I must correct myself. I wrote "ice coverage gets to thin", I meant "small". In the post I only focus on area, not thickness.

I have not checked in in a while. But I thought theoild drum was going to only discuss energy and not sea ice? Are we back to discussing taking over ecconmic systems through climate change legislation? I am all in.

I certainly hope that discussions about energy include both energy policy and the consequences of energy use. The reason that there is concern regarding climate change is that it will be the result of continuing living the way we have grown accustomed to over the past 150 years. If projections of future climate change appear to be bad, i.e., a net negative, then maybe we shouldn't keep on living the way we have been. Or, would you rather sink the ship upon whose deck you are standing, so to speak???

E. Swanson

There hasn't been a major change in the Drumbeats, and there wasn't supposed to be (other than it appearing only 4 times a week instead of daily). It's the key posts that have become more narrowly focused.

Right. I take it as if the stuff is discussed in an article linked from the Drumbeats, I will take myself the privilige of discussing it here.

'twould truly be
a great tragedy
should the THC


If anyone's interested in donating a bit of computer time:

RAPID-RAPIT: What is the risk of thermohaline circulation collapse?

Simple models ... show that if extra freshwater is added to the North Atlantic .. then the AMOC [Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, i.e. thermohaline circulation] can collapse, ... there can be two stable states for the circulation: “on” and “off”. ... in more complicated climate models, it often recovers gradually after the forcing is removed... Also, when these complex models are forced by reasonably realistic future greenhouse gas projections, they tend not to show an AMOC collapse....

However, these estimates for the response of the AMOC to future anthropogenic forcing rely on our “best guess” for many of the complex model details, and do not account for uncertainty in the model input parameters. ... Making climate projections using just one version of a model may mean that certain types of behaviour could be missed. This is particularly important for complex nonlinear systems like the AMOC.

Experiment design

This experiment uses HadCM3, a coupled model with fully dynamic atmosphere and ocean components ... The experiment consists of a 10,000-member ensemble, covering a wide range of HadCM3’s parameter space. This is the first time that such a large ensemble has ever been carried out using this model. [Each volunteer gets one member of the ensemble to process per computer core.]

... The first stage of the experiment involves spinning up each version of the model to be as close to its own equilibrium climate state as possible. Once the models are spun up, we will run them with 20th century forcings, and a variety of idealised future CO2 forcing scenarios to examine how the AMOC responds to changing CO2.

A few points to consider if you'd like to participate:

  • There are two phases. The "spin-up" phase is in progress now (all 10,000 have been issued). The main phase is expected to start in a couple of months.
  • Meanwhile there are some other models, HadAM3P, available for you to learn the ropes with. These only take about 100 to 150 hours apiece, in one phase.
  • The models run on Windows, OS X, and Linux.
  • The HadCM3 models take a long time to run. The spin-up takes about 550-700 hours on a late model PC (Core 2 or later); the main model will take about 4 to 5 times as long. That's CPU time -- clock time will be a little more, if you run 24/7. Don't join if you get bored easily! ;-) On a Pentium 4 or Pentium M or Atom running ten hours a day, it could take over a year -- not recommended.
  • Running the models shouldn't be noticeable (except for the CPU fan running, and your CPU usage being 100% all the time) provided you have enough memory (2GB+ recommended). About 3-10 GB of disk space is needed. Downloading the models at the start is about 100MB each, uploading at the end is about 50MB. The models send back a progress report every day or so (a few kB) and an interim data file at the 25%, 50%, and 75% marks (a few MB).
  • If you run 64-bit Linux, before you start you'll need to install some 32-bit compatibility libraries (but not libstdc++5 as listed on that page).

I understand that the HadCM3 is a model which has been around since 1999 and it's results were used as part the IPCC TAR, thus is not the latest. One of my problems with using that model is the grid pattern, which apparently uses the usual Earth latitude and longitude layout. This design produces grid "blocks" at higher latitudes which have rather small area, compared with those at tropical latitudes and has a singularity at the poles. Even so, sub-grid sized dynamics, such as the "convective chimneys" which have been found as evidence of the THC dynamics, can not be explicitly modeled. Other efforts to model the sea-ice have used rotated grids for higher latitudes, a design which removes the singularity around the North Pole.

Furthermore, the ocean model component may not include the critical aspects of bottom topography, such as the deep link between the Arctic Ocean and the Nordic Seas via the Fram Strait or the shallow sills along the ridges between Greenland, Iceland and Scotland, which isolate the deeper waters of the Arctic Mediterranean from the North Atlantic. If the model used does not include THC sinking in the Arctic Ocean, a known fraction of the total which results in added overflow across the GIS shelves, the entire modeling effort may miss a critical component of the THC system. (I admit that I don't know the specifics of the model topography, as that would require information I can't easily find.)

Not to denigrate the efforts of these researchers, but it might be a waste of valuable computer cycles, if the model doesn't properly represent what we have learned about the dynamics of the THC.

E. Swanson

Lester Brown's Plan B, PBS documentary, on streaming video for one month
First hour outlines challenges - population, climate change, food & fuel, failed states...
Last 20 minutes presents Plan B - How to Save Civilization...

This is a great video, I just finished it. Lester explains all the things wrong with the world but he concentrates on global warming and hardly mentions energy at all.

Then he explains Plan B. Plan B has four components;

1. Cutting carbon emissions by 80% by 2020.
2. Stabilizing population at no more than 8 billion.
3. Eradicating poverty.
4. Restoring the earth’s natural systems.

This means, he says, restoring the earth’s forests, soils, grasslands, aquifers, fisheries and so fourth.

Now I love Lester Brown. I have read about half a dozen of his books and watch every video of his I can find. But does anyone believe we are going to do any of these things. Take #1. China continues to build coal fired power plants at about two per week. As oil declines and nuclear power declines then coal will become the fuel of the future. More and more cars will be put on the road. We have a far better chance of increasing carbon emissions by 80% than reducing it by that amount.

Then take #2. The population of the world will take the course that human nature and natural resources dictates. People’s desire to control the population will have little to no effect.

Then take #3. As the oil supply declines, weather patterns change, water tables fall and rivers dry up crops will fail poverty will increase not decrease.

Then there is #4. We continue, every day, to destroy more and more of the earth’s natural systems. Water tables continue to fall, rivers dry up, soil continues to erode, fisheries are declining and more and more forest disappear every year.

Yes Lester if we do all the things you suggest we could turn this ship of destruction around. But let’s be honest, it just ain’t gonna happen. Every person who is honest with himself, or herself, will admit this very obvious fact.

So you are either a doomer or you are lying to yourself. I am a doomer and now you know why.

Oh, and we didn't even mention peak oil. Peak oil will help, slowing the destruction down slightly, causing the population to grow a bit slower. The only thing worse than peak oil would be no peak oil.

Ron P.

The only thing worse than peak oil would be no peak oil.

I've been telling friends and family these exact same words for 5 years!

Ever seen WALL-E?

Thanks. I feel much better. And thanks for enabling me to not waste my time watching the video, even though it is "great". In the South West it looks like we are entering another dust bowl period. Should be entertaining for all the deniers who live in Oklahoma. Maybe Inhofe can fix that problem with more oil.

Well I would definitely say that the video is not a waste of time, or at least the first 50 minutes is not a waste. What he has to say about corn ethanol is worth the whole trip.

Ron P.

During the last dust bowl Will Rogers observed when the Oakies left for California it raised the IQ of both states. Maybe Imhof will move to CA.

. As oil declines and nuclear power declines

Less of it, and its demonstrated failure modes ok.

then coal will become the fuel of the future.

Except coal is also limited, needs energy to extract, then energy to get it to the consumption point.


“We are already in this phase change and are very close to grid parity,” Shawn Qu, chief executive officer of Canadian Solar Inc. (CSIQ), said in an interview. “In many markets, solar is already competitive with peak electricity prices, such as in California and Japan.”

If Deer Leeder Obama would allow 179 deductions for solar and small wind, a thousand PV panels would bloom.

More and more cars will be put on the road.

Not if the roads are not any good. As noted years ago - 267 years to fix the roads at present spending rates in Milwaukee County. Alas, roads are a 40-60 year item,

My local PBS station aired an excellent documentary the other night about the environmental costs of war, and preparations for war.

Scarred Lands and Wounded Lives:

They hit all the bases, going far beyond just the outright destruction of war. So comprehensive, in fact, that towards the end they hardly mention actual conflicts Per se and discuss in detail the high costs of an industrial civilization which is bent on constant preparations for war.

Lester makes a lengthy appearance at the conclusion and gives his by now familiar metric of how much it would cost in dollar terms to fund Plan B compared to what is spent each year on the military:

  • The world spends about 1 trillion per year.
  • The US accounts for about half that.
  • Plan B to stabilize population, eliminate poverty, and restore the environment would cost about 150 billion, or about one third of what the US spends alone.

Sounds great! In theory at least...


This is a great video, ...

I found the show to be insultingly naive.

Not that Lester Brown doesn't have some relevant ideas. I just think the whole presentation was geared towards 3rd graders and didn't bother to address the obvious objections to each statement. The host of the series really dumbs things down.

Our civilization doesn't take well to a top-down management approach. Thus the doomers really do have some grounds for their doom. Carbon emissions will remain significant as long as there is easy to reach coal, oil, and gas. Nations will continue to go to war over resources.

What's hilarious and decidedly un-hilarious and even a bit mysterious is that it started off with an ad for Goldman Sachs...

Can we have another Fukushima open thread as we are way over the 500 page 2 bug limit?

I imagine the thread will get very busy if/when reactor 1 blows up.

TEPCO to inject nitrogen into No.1 reactor

The operator of the disaster-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is to inject nitrogen gas into the containment vessel of the No.1 reactor, as early as Wednesday, in a bid to avoid a possible hydrogen explosion.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, cites the possibility that hydrogen and oxygen generated by damaged fuel and radiation-decomposed water have accumulated in the vessel.

A high concentration of hydrogen could cause an explosion through a reaction with oxygen.

I think they are trying to cut back on Fukushima open threads. There's a feeling they are not doing good things for the site's signal to noise ratio.

If something dramatic happens, they might post a thread. In the meantime, use the Drumbeat.

While the Fukushima threads are suffering from the 'Macondo Effect', they do have the benefit of diverting related noise from the Drumbeats.

When any thread gets above about 380 comments, it causes my browser to crash sometimes or a Drupal error. Not sure why. Maybe a cache issue.

It's ok we've got one now. Thanks all.

Undertow is an excellent and reliable anchor on those threads. Thanks.

At least the reports of another plant leaking is verifiable by people on the outside. If the below is true, that would be yet another blow to the idea of a "peaceful" atomic program - the only defense left for fission power would be MAD - Mutual Assured Destruction.

Rumors are starting to float around the 'net that Japan may have had a secret nuclear lab (weapons project???) at (or under) Fukushima #3 - but no confirmation yet...certainly something to keep an ear open for. Like this hot Jeff Rense interview on FB. From 13:10 to 14:24 on is key... (You need to be logged into FB first...)

I wanted to mention that Joel Achenbach, who writes for the Washington Post, has a new book out called, A Hole at the Bottom of the Sea: The Race to Kill the BP Oil Gusher. One of the sources Joel used for this book was The Oil Drum. He talks about this on page 256, I understand. The book is written from a point of view of understanding what happened, rather than assigning blame.

Achenbach has done a lot of interesting technical blogging over the years but doesn't get a lot of publicity.

From link above:

Experts agree that the most successful rail corridors in Europe and Japan are those linking major cities 100 miles to 400 miles apart. What many studies neglect to mention, however, is that those cities are highly concentrated, with major fractions of their jobs in a traditional "central business district," unlike the large majority of decentralized U.S. metro areas.

I would argue that this statement has got its key point backwards. In my opinion, it's the freeways themselves that caused North American cities to sprawl, which in turn prevented a viable passenger rail network from being built. In other words, if the freeways were never built, North American cities would in fact be much denser than they are today and a viable passenger rail network would exist.

In cities that have added light rail in the '70's and '80's - DC, Atlanta, Denver - transportation investments significantly re-shaped development patterns. Georgetown (in DC) is still suffering from opting out of the Metro...

The cities on the Northeast Corridor, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, have extensive commuter rail systems that are used for travel between the suburbs and the city centers. Total travel time could be reduced substantially for many trips by fixing historical problems like the lack of quick transfer between Grand Central and Penn Station or between South Station and North Station. There are other fixes like straightening the right of way east of New Haven so that the Acela can run at full speed.

None of these require technological breakthroughs.

I agree, MacFrugal, and I'll go further. If we were to build good, usable rail corridors between major cities, it would drive demand for shops, restaurants, bus links, and even residences with good access to the rail station. i.e. development follows infrastructure.

btw - I don't know if you have Scottish blood and I'm not claiming you do. it's just that you sometimes see a dollar store in these parts called "MacFrugal's" with a tartan logo.

Is it just me, or is the Energy Export Databrowser website not working?

Thanks for mentioning that. Indeed, it didn't work for me either.

My system manager upgraded some python packages yesterday and a few things needed for this databrowser got deleted and not reinstalled. I've reinstalled the missing ones.

Everything should be working now.


UK paddling firmly up-creek..

British industrial output suffered a shock fall in February, with a sharp drop in oil and gas supply and flat growth in manufacturing raising fears for first quarter growth.

While the decline was driven by a 7.8% fall in oil and gas extraction, due to maintenance work, economists were more troubled by the figures for manufacturing which has been leading the recovery and was expected to continue...

...The Office for National Statistics said that industrial output contracted by 1.2% in February after downwardly revised growth of 0.3% in January, the biggest fall since August 2009. Economists had forecast a 0.4% increase.

Wow, so much to talk about there.

While the decline was driven by a 7.8% fall in oil and gas extraction, due to maintenance work

First, it's good to know that the problems are just due to maintenance.
Second, it is great to see someone use the term "extraction", when talking about getting oil from the ground. It gets old hearing people say that they "produced" oil.

and third, what in the world were they manufacturing? All my stuff says "China" on the bottom.

I think we mainly manufacture Sky Pie which we cook using a lot of Hot Air. But not too much - need to keep our Figures in shape.

Might be a teensy bit of Engineering in there too somewhere. Apparently.

Honda will do its part to reinforce the downtrend:


The UK has decided to use austerity to deal with the financial crisis whereas the U.S in using easy money. The austerity route was tried and failed during the Great Depression. Now the same mistake is being made again.

Unfortunately there are Republican/Tea Party types who want to give the U.S. the same austerity treatment. They never cared about deficits when a Republican was in the White House, but now deficits are a big deal.

But not a big enough deal to raise taxes on the wealthy. Only big enough to cut social programs they don't like which is a tax increase on the less well off.

Nor is the deficit big enough to cut oil subsidies and wars for oil. It is however big enough to cut ethanol subsidies which is a tax increase on renewable liquid fuel.

Cutting subsidies is a tax increase. How Orwellian. Your post was making sense up to that point. How about subsidies for ethanol are a tax on feed grains for cattle?

Re: UK paddling firmly up-creek..

There is a fundamental issue here, in that British North Sea oil production peaked in 1999 and began to fall. 12 years later, the country is now getting to the steep part of the decline curve where the annual production decline becomes very fast.

Oil field decline curves are highly predictable, and if the UK government was interested, it could get all the reservoir data from the oil companies, hire a bunch of geological consultants, and come up with a very accurate decline curve which it could use for planning purposes. Then, it could develop a mitigation strategy to deal with the obvious repercussions of a rapid decline in oil and gas production.

I'm looking at this from the outside (I'm a Canadian who once did some consulting work for the oil industry in the UK), but I get the impression that the British government is just ignoring the issue and hoping it will go away - the ostrich with its head in the sand approach. This is unlikely to work very well.

The UK gouvernment ordered an disaster plan for all kind of disasters to be made. Natural as well as man made. I would not be surprised if they even had an alien invasion strategy in that plan. But they never made a Peak Oil plan. Oil don't just run out, as we all know...

They may not have a public plan, but MPs are taking it seriously. http://appgopo.org.uk/index.php

I think the same. And I live here.
'Disaster plans' seem to require the instant mobilization of oil consuming resources. I am told that 'emergency centres' are to be set up at every level covering even remote rural areas and these will be supplied by helicopter if normal supplies break down, and this will include emergency supplies of fuel.
I might add though my own estimate of the current threats: the biggest threat hanging over our national security seems to come from the Financial Services Industry. Food and fuel problems might follow within days of course.

I came up with most of my models using UK data, as they along with the Norwegians are most open and comprehensive with the numbers that publicly available.

Energy policies face review - The Yomiuri Shimbun

The foundation of the government's nuclear power promotion policy has collapsed in the wake of the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station, and will likely result in a review of its target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

"Needless to say, this great earthquake will have a considerable effect on various fields in this country," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said in a press conference Monday when asked whether a review of the emissions target is coming.

Expanding nuclear power was the foundation of achieving a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 from 1990 levels. But since the main source of electricity apart from nuclear is thermal power, the government will likely be forced to drastically review its policies on energy and fighting global warming.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending April 1, 2011

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged about 14.4 million barrels per day during the week ending April 1, 39 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 84.4 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging 8.8 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 4.3 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged about 9.0 million barrels per day last week, down by 178 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.9 million barrels per day, 175 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged nearly 1.1 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 131 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 2.0 million barrels from the previous week. At 357.7 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 0.4 million barrels last week and are in the upper limit of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories decreased while blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 0.2 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 1.1 million barrels last week and are in the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 0.2 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period has averaged about 19.1 million barrels per day, up by 0.1 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged 8.9 million barrels per day, down by 1.2 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged 3.7 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, up by 0.9 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 0.5 percent higher over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

I'm sure Darwinian may comment here but reported US production shot up 70k bpd to 5.638 million barrels per day last week. This is the highest recorded weekly production since April 2004.

Back to adjustments. Upwards "adjustments" to "commercial petroleum" this week totalled 1.9 million barrels. Net imports of refined products were up 238k bpd on last week.

If the EIA isn't fiddling the numbers every week, it still looks that way to me anyway.

I really think they are guessing and letting their wishes dictate their guess. Alaska production was up exactly 20 kb/d and the Lower 48 was up exactly 50 kb/d. Sounds fishy. And they are still ignoring the GOM which is dropping precipitously.

Ron P.

East Coast Product Supplies Plunge, While Midwest Oil Inventories Reach Record Highs

Regional Gasoline Supplies

Graphic: Midwest Oil Supplies

Hidden inside today’s EIA inventory report is rather bad news for the Northeast: oil products supplies – distillates and gasoline – plunged again. Distillate stocks in the East Coast region fell 3.2 million barrels and gasoline stocks fell by 2.9 million barrels. Although it was expected that most eastern refiners would complete their ‘turnaround’, that is adjust refining operations for ‘summer blends’ of fuels from ‘winter blends’, the return from maintenance was lagging a bit. However a more insidious problem, the loss of some higher quality oil from western and northern Africa is having a subtle but growing effect. In addition, while the Colonial Pipeline, which stretches from Louisiana to New Jersey (with many side and local branches) was no longer operating at maximum flow capacity. For the last three months the pipeline frequently operated at its maximum, usually because of gasoline shipments and sometimes other oil products.

Meanwhile in the Midwest, oil supplies, fed by generous shipments by pipeline of processed Canadian tar sands oil, continue to build. [The reasons for this have already been discussed frequently at TOD].
With net oil and oil products imports (that is imports less exports) running about 700,000 bpd less than the rate of 2010, the US is on a collision course with some type of product shortage later in the year. It remains to be seen whether US refiners – especially east coast refiners - will be able to secure adequate quantities of higher quality imported oil and ramp up output in time to meet demand for the summer 'driving season'.

Shipping reports indicate that 85% of Persian Gulf oil exports have consistently headed ‘East' since about March 1, with the balance split mostly between the EU and the US. While exports out of the area roughly defined as west Africa did increase exports between about March 10 and April 10, recent political problems in region are already having an effect on exports. The US can not afford a loss of high quality oil in the upcoming Nigerian election season similar to that last seen in the 2007 Nigerian election – with almost no oil exports expected from Libya anytime soon.

One final note: the EIA did make some downward adjustments to oil products stocks, as was expected to be completed by this week, but the EIA is still making unexplained upward adjustments to oil inventories.

East Coast Product Supplies Plunge, While Midwest Oil Inventories Reach Record Highs

We have two different trends here. Canada, which claims to have the second-largest oil reserves in the world, is delivering more and more oil into the North American mid-continent area. Oil is piling up there because the pipeline capacity that might take it to any coast is badly over-committed. All the storage tanks are full and the oil has nowhere to go.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia, which claims to have the largest oil reserves in the world, is falling down on the job. It is not making up for the supply interruptions in Libya and other places. It claims it has reserve production capacity, but we're not seeing that oil on the market.

I have looked at the reservoir data underlying the Canadian reserve estimates, and in my opinion they have seriously understated the recoverable volumes. Much more oil can be recovered than the governments claim, and I think the Canadian oil companies know that. However, they are not going to make an issue of it because the oil is going to be very expensive, and take a long, long time to bring on production.

Saudi Arabian reserve data is a state secret, so nobody outside KSA has access to it. However, I suspect their reserves are overstated. This is going to be a problem for people depending on their reserves, and that of the other OPEC countries. Basically, this means everybody outside mid-continental North America is in trouble, while people in mid-continental NA are in somewhat less trouble.

Brent is $122/bbl and rising at this point in time; West Texas Intermediate is $108. This is going to turn into a bad experience for a lot of people.

O-oh say can you see ...

Forgive the flag-waving introduction but the current futures chain for gasoline is oh-so-American:

In this graphic you can see how gasoline futures prices have run up the flagpole in a very rapid fashion. What is interesting is that the futures chain is in a pretty strong backwardation at the moment. (Backwardation is when long-dated futures are less expensive than the front month. Contango is the opposite.) I think this is pretty strong evidence that it is not trading that is driving up prices. On the contrary, the futures market believes, and is betting on, lower prices going forward.

It will be interesting to watch this evolve going forward.

You can follow the evolution of gasoline-, oil- and many other futures chains at the Futures Chain Explorer.

Happy Futures!


"I think this is pretty strong evidence that it is not trading that is driving up prices. On the contrary, the futures market believes, and is betting on, lower prices going forward."

I think this shows that the market wants the Gasoline in in the market now, not for suppliers to sit on it for later.

Why sell in 3 months at 2.80 for instance, when you can sell today at 3.00.


I think this is pretty strong evidence that it is not trading that is driving up prices. On the contrary, the futures market believes, and is betting on, lower prices going forward.

Perhaps not. The risk free rate is pretty much zero - note how repo rates on GC have collapsed to pretty much zero after the new FDIC rule on friday - so quite possible the cost of carry exceeds the risk free rate. (how can it not, really?)


It will be interesting to watch this evolve going forward.

Indeed! That oh so American graph, looks like a bunch of fireworks ready to go off in one big blast.

O-oh say can you see ...
...And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air...

ahem (in C major)

...the bombs are bursting in Libya and Iraq and Afghanistan ... the nukes are smoldering in Japan ... gave proof through Depression 2.0 that the Stock market was still there ...

In the Land of the Broke
and the foreclosed Home of the disenfranchised!

OPEC says can do no more to control $120 oil

(Reuters) - OPEC can do little to control prices driven by speculators betting on worst case scenarios" and has already supplied the market with the oil it needs, members of the producer group said on Wednesday.

"International markets are choosing to ignore market fundamentals and bet on the worse case scenarios," Hamli said, adding the market was well-supplied.

"There is little we can do in terms of price control," UAE Oil Minister Mohammed bin Dhaen al-Hamli told an oil conference in Paris.

Deja vu!
In 2008 they blamed Iran-Israel tensions and the golden oldie of the all-seeing, omnipotent Speculators.

It appears the Speculators are making a grand comeback(not that they've ever left) in the coming weeks and months as the price rises and that much-hyped 'spare capacity' is somehow missing.

Oh, the market is always well supplied!
Thou shall not doubt.

I go away and have no Internet access for about halph a week. When I come back, Brent has climbed from 116 to 124 dollars. What happened during this last week end that missed? Just the economy picking up speed, increasing competition for oil?

When I come back, Brent has climbed from 116 to 124 dollars. What happened during this last week end that missed?

Personally I think oil traders were shocked by how little OPEC was able to cover from Libya's export reduction, and started raising their expectation of price, which jacked up the price. The trouble now that OPEC spare capacity has been exposed as a mirage, what is to stop oil price from continuing to rise as much as it did when you were gone for a week, until we all break under higher prices for everything? As of this week the outlook as we look forward thru the next 3 months until July 4th weekend, it's hard to see how oil price won't exceed 08 record of 147.

Well, there's Gabon (and Nigeria?), too now. Although, I've heard recently Gabon is stabilizing. "Geopolitics" is becoming increasingly unpredictable. There may be no new major factors in April, or two or three countries may slip into destabilized conditions. Whatever transpires, the oil markets are incredibly sensitive and are entirely at the mercy of current events, be that depletion and/or unrest.

Oh, the market is always well supplied!
Thou shall not doubt.

You hit the nail on the head there with 'Thou shall not doubt'. And isn't that what blaming speculators comes down to, a need to not consider the possibility that supply constraint is the cause of higher prices. Because not enough supply would mean - what? - the possibility of peak oil?! We can't have that! All must be perfectly right with our world. There is no AGW, no peak oil, no concern about dropping water tables, resource limits, no, we must have BAU and without any information filtering into our pysche's that could alter that viewpoint. Please, we have enough to worry about.

That's the position alright. Thou shall not doubt.

Blame the jews, I say blame the jews!

I mean, the speculators. SPECULATORS damn it.

You must not know what a speculator is.(It isn't a Jew)

A speculator is someone who buy(or sells) based on the anticipation that prices will rise(or fall), not on the basis
of the present need.

If there is a supply shortfall, the price will rise a certain amount based on the price elasticity(as determined by academics).


Say the amount of oil is suddenly reduced 1 mpd from 75 mbpd, that is a reduction of 1.33%. The short term elasticity of oil
is -.4 so a fall of results in a rise in prices of 3.325= 1.33%/-0.4. So if the nominal price is $100 per bbl, the price based on market forces should be $103.325 but it's not, it's $109.86.
The anticipation is another $6.5 a barrel.

Unfortunately, markets turn into bubbles when everyone gets greedy, buying into the delusion of easy money and then the 'laws' of supply and demand become meaningless.

If we got rid of these gambling houses called commodity exchanges
you'd get a better look at the economic fundamentals.

Oil speculators do not buy oil, they buy a derivative called a futures contract. They cannot cause an oil bubble because they buy no oil. They can cause very short term swings in the futures price which can have a transitory effect on the spot market.

Bubbles, like the housing bubble that burst in 2007, are caused, at least in part, by speculators who buy the actual product, that is they buy actual houses, not futures on houses. But futures speculators never buy the actual product so the only effect they can possibly have lasts only hours to days at most.

The price of oil rose in 2008 because the economy was going great guns and there was a huge demand for the dwindling supply of oil on the export market. When the economy collapsed the bottom dropped out of oil demand causing the bottom to drop out of the price of oil. Speculators had nothing to do with it.

The price of WTI crude is currently about $14 below Brent and almost $19 below Tapis. Tapis is not traded on any futures market therefore it cannot be said that speculators are causing the price of Tapis to be so high.

But you might make an argument that speculators are what's keeping the price of WTI so low. ;-)

Ron P.

Hence my comment that "speculators" are the new "jews". A handy group of people to have when blame passing time comes.

Jews are blamed because they are a relatively powerless insular minority (perhaps about 15 million total in a world with 7,000 million people on it).

Cowards love to blame the Jews because the cowards (bullies) think there is no hurt-back for them to do so. The proverbial Jew, after all, "turns the other cheek".

In 1973, a coalition of failed states decided to appease their angry "streets" by picking on the lone Jew boy nation next door. They got their ass whipped.

Ever since then, the failed states have been wailing and whining on their failed face(book) walls.

Now the "streets" are angry once again.

Time to find a defenseless somebody to "blame".

Well, blimey, I'm no anti-semite, but it was hardly the Arabs nations just 'picking' on the lone Jew because they were angry - Israel had launched a large scale surprise attack on Egypt and occupied the Sinai Peninsula in 1967! Plus in 1971 Egypt had requested a peaceful resolution to the situation - i.e. on the condition that Israel withdrew from its illegally gained territory captured 4 years earlier but Israel refused to negotiate.

Edit: I think you probably meant to link to the Six Day War - that was really when Israel handed the Arabs their *sses. The Yom Kippur War was a bit of wake-up call for Israel.

Reality check.

The arab nations,including Egypt, had already written in their state controlled news papers they where going to attack and destroy Israel. Egypt then blocked Israeli acces to the Red Sea, wich is an act of war. Finally Egypt forced military the UN troops in the Sinai desert to leave, in a preparation for their planned attack on Israel.

Israel countered by striking before the egyptians. Sure Egypt was surprised. But to write everything off that happened before Israels attack as non-existing and blame the start of the war is plain aiti-semitism, unless you are excused by simply notknowing. In the later case, check your sources.

Also, since the Egyptians started the war, the occupation of Sinai was not illegal. Israel also reurned the peninsula in 1973 in a land for peace agreement.

Well, blimey, you can go back as far as you like - the reasons for the Egyptian aggression against Israel in the first place was due to resentment over the Suez Crisis in 1956 which was basically Israel, Britain and France wanting to maintain a strong foothold in the area and, on Israel's part, to gain access to the Red Sea trading routes.

Israel was one of the main aggressors in the situation. Not Egypt.

The point is I thought you were talking about the Yom Kippur War, not the Six Day War as you mentioned 1973. And it certainly shouldn't be viewed as just the Arab states 'picking' on the lone Jews in an unprovoked anti-semitic fashion.

Well, blimey, you can go back as far as you like -

... and you will find cowards pickin' on the Jew because they ain't got balls enough to take on someone bigger.

Hitler found it convenient to pick on the Jews.

So did nearly every mad man and religious fanatic in history.

'Our hatred for the Jews dates from God's condemnation of them for their persecution and rejection of Isa (Jesus Christ), and their subsequent rejection later of His chosen Prophet. It is beyond our understanding how your Government, representing the first Christian power in the world today, can wish to assist and reward these very same Jews who maltreated your Isa (Jesus). --source

In case there's some misunderstanding...

"The Jews" (or more commonly, "The Jooos") in this context is just internet slang used to ridicule scapegoating. Google "The Jooos," you'll see - it's not derogatory. See here, for example.

The Urban Dictionary has an entry but it's not that great:

1. The Jews
A generic scapegoat for any "who" question

example: Who the hell ate all the Doritos? The Jews...

OPEC is like a friend who lends you an umbrella only on sunny days!

That's because they are protecting you from being seduced into using solar energy or perhaps they just want to make sure you don't get skin cancer >;^)

L - perhaps this is too simplistic to make sense. But ever bbl of oil sold by every exporting country is done so at a price they set. When the ExxonMobil refineries go to th KSA to buy a tanker load of oil the KSA gives the price and XOM either pays that price or they don't buy it. Contract oil is sold based upon some bechmark price so that number has a bearing. But the benchmark price is set by what the sellers are offering oil. The future players (the "speculators") aren't setting the price...they are simply betting what that future price will be. If they bid too high and the sellers put the oil on the market at a lower price those folks lose their investment.

Bottom line: thee KSA can start selling oil ar $90/bbl anytime they want to. Of cource folks would instantly buy all of the KSA'a "excess capacity". And the other exporters could lower their prices to retain market share. Or, if the KSA EC isn't that great, those exporters can retain thir higher prices and keep more of their oil in the ground...oil that's bound to be worth much more down the road.

What you just wrote is worthy of a "sticky".
That is how the world works - actual, physical deliveries are negotiated one on one. What is happening in futures markets is taken into account but the direction of causality is not always so clear.


WP - It may simply be that OPEC has finally attained real cartel status. Between Peak Plateau and ELM there's little potential for each OPEC to try to undercut each other's prices. Essentially they've reached true price fixing capability. But maybe for just the moment. I can see a reason for OPEC to keep prices from reaching too high a level: demand destruction. But maybe my expectations are predjudiced by surviving in the oil patch thru the great demand destruction of the early 80's. Maybe OPEC and especially the KSA wouldn't mind seeing a little demand destruction instead of fearing it. It would take some of the pressure off of them to supply us with that "excess capacity" they claim. Also, it may be a matter of whose DD: the US or Chindia. But there was an interesting story on NPR this afternoon. The KSA may be rightly worried about the ME rebellions going on now. They may be seeing Iran as a greater threat than ever. So the potential for US security elements to keep Iran out of the KSA's business may be our bargaining chip. OTOH the KSA needs ever more income to keep its natives happy. Too many what-ifs to make any hard predictions IMHO

KSA are smart folks. They can see that civil unrest is high when people are going hungry.

that is why it will be a long time yet before we see it in the US. When those dinner tables are empty, having cheap 60 inch tv's won't cut it. That and medical care. When a few poor folks are dying without it, the PTB don't worry. When it gets to youngsters, and when Mom and Dad are starving, or not being treated for obvious illness due to Medicare cuts... that's going to be different.

Again, for the short term, no worries. Mid term, not so much. Methinks the US Military planning for wide spread unrest by 2015 is not far off the mark.

Meanwhile, the corporatists (we used to call them fascists) have a buck to make. Though I am curious as to whether they actually are planning wide spread slavery for the 9 Billion folks predicted on this little ball of dirt. I mean, when there is no fossil fuel energy, those bodies are represent an energy source. Welcome to the Matrix.


OPEC says can do no more to control $120 oil

Sure it can. It can dump some of that reserve production capacity it claims it has on the market at cut-rate prices and drive down the market price. Saudi Arabia has done that before, and it can do it again, can't it? Can't it?

Where is that oil. We're all waiting for the tankers full of oil to show up. Where is it, hunh? Hunh? Hunh? Where is it?

International markets are choosing to ignore market fundamentals

Oh, that must be it, the markets must be ignoring the fundamental fact that OPEC has all that surplus oil that it can deliver any time it wants. (/sarcasm)

AMSC shares tumble as top customer rejects shipments

BANGALORE (Reuters) – American Superconductor's (AMSC.O) shares plunged 44 percent on Wednesday, a day after the maker of electrical systems for wind farms said its largest customer refused to accept shipments, a move that could trigger a series of problems for the U.S. company.

The loss of business from China's Sinovel (601558.SS), which accounts for nearly three quarters of AMSC's revenue, could prompt the company to slow down production, raise more capital to complete a recently announced acquisition and push the company back to losses.

Chevrolet refuses to bring new small pickup to U.S.

Just as Ford is killing its Ranger pickup in the U.S. and refuses to bring a replacement from another market, General Motors. is adamant about following suit.

It's launching a car-based small pickup called Montana in Brazil and, next year, Argentina. It's kind of cool-looking and begs for the cloying nickname "Hannah Montana." Even though the current small Chevy truck, Colorado, is dead meat after its plant closes by late 2012, Chevy says it has absolutely no plans to bring "Hannah Montana" to the U.S.

This is the thing that irks me about US (and by default, Canadian) pickup trucks - they are HUGE and guzzle gas like there's no tomorrow (which there might not be, for them).

Chevrolet, Ford, and other manufacturers build cute little (not to mention cheap) pickup trucks in other countries, but they refuse to import them into North America, or build them here. Are they possibly assuming that the sky-high fuel prices of 2008 will not occur again (as is already happening)?

I think it's the Titanic approach to planning. Ignore the icebergs, pour more coal to the boilers, full speed ahead. We're unsinkable, and nothing can stop us.

And a secondary issue: When they go bankrupt (again), should we bail them out (again)? I don't know about you, but I wouldn't have bailed them out the first time. I can think of better uses for my tax dollars.

Well, I'd very much like to buy a new Ford Fiesta to replace a gas guzzling pickup, but with the USA Fiesta only getting 38 miles per gallon it isn't financially practical with the miles I drive per year.
If I could buy the European Ford Fiesta (one of the most popular cars in Europe I am told) it would make financial sense to buy one as they get 65 MPG (72 MPG Imperial gallon).
Not only will Ford not sell me one, the US Government prohibits me from importing one myself. It appears everyone in the US Government knows for sure that a car burning one gallon of fuel puts out much more total pollution than a car burning two gallons of fuel to go the same distance.
There are lots of very fuel efficient vehicles out there in the world market place, but the US Government will not let any of them be imported in to the USA - And then have the gall to complain that our vehicles are not fuel efficient enough!
Government is not the solution, it is the problem!

Not only will Ford not sell me one, the US Government prohibits me from importing one myself.

I recall that you've made this claim before. The 2012 Focus can achieve 40 mpg, which is not easy and the new 1.6 liter ECOBOOST engine technology isn't imported as yet. With the price of oil going steadily upwards, FORD may not be able to keep up with the European demand for the engines. Got proof that the lack of imports so far is due to government intervention???

E. Swanson

But if we're being honest 40 mpg really oughtn't be much to shout about. My '96 Fiesta gets well over 40 mpg. And that's not taking into account hypermiling. Of course it is the European version - I didn't realise there was that big of a difference between the European and US until now!

European efficiency figures are not realistic. Until a couple of years ago neither were US figures.

My car is rated at 73mpg town, 93 mpg highway. Not a chance. Best case, driving at no more than 60mph I get
80mpg highway, on quiet, straight roads. In busy start-stop traffic it can be as low as 55mpg. I drive very carefully to
keep consumption down. Those figures are from the on-board trip computer, which is about 5% optimistic.

An agressive driver would be lucky to get 40mpg town, and those are imperial gallons.

Fair enough - what are you driving?

Still seems surprising to me that 40mpg is considered 'exceptional' in the US. Even your aggressive driver in a town would be matching that.

My 40mpg+ for my Fiesta is based on my actual observational consumption rather than any quoted figures.

Also depends on what you mean by realistic I guess - what percentage of people are aggressive drivers vs defensive?



(the second link reviews an older version of the engine)

This website is unique - an honest car review site.

Nice review - Skoda have really upped their game in recent years.

It is not just keeping the speed down but very low acceleration in the optimum gear at all times coupled with as little braking as possible that gets you close to the official figures. I can usually do it if I try really hard (especially during the price protests and blockades in 2000 as I drove 100 miles a day then to and from work) but it does help if there is no other traffic about :-)

Government is not the solution, it is the problem!

A government of the people, by the people, for the people... umm, the people are the problem.

Locally, here in the Canadian Rockies, large numbers of interesting little Japanese micro-vans are starting to show up. Apparently, there is a loophole in the law which allows importers to bring in Japanese vehicles which are more than 15 years old. They are right-hand-drive, but that's not illegal. Rules in the US may vary from those in Canada.

So, that's what's happening - a lot of people are driving around in 15-year-old Japanese 4x4 micro-vans with turbo-diesel 4-cylinder engines. Perfect for 4x4 adventures on a small scale. Farmers are buying tiny little 15-year old Japanese 4x4 turbo-diesel micro-trucks as well. They are right-hand-drive, but if you are just driving around the farm, why would you care?

You would think you should be able to buy something like that from a domestic manufacturer, but none are interested. They want to sell huge gas-guzzling Urban Assault Vehicles with air conditioning and power everything.

RMG, that is no loophole, it is a clearly written piece of law.
From Transport Canada's website

You cannot import a vehicle that was manufactured to meet the safety standards of a country other than the United States or Canada unless the vehicle is the following:

15 years old or older (excluding buses);
a bus manufactured before January 1, 1971; or
entering Canada temporarily.

Don't ask me why it is there, that you can import a vehicle that is old, and may be completely unsafe design, and even has the steering wheel on the wrong side. Could probably even have the steerting wheel point backwards and still be OK!

But, the rule is there, so you can bring in any vehicle you like, from any country, from 1996 or before.

The little Japanese cars and trucks, the kei cars, are very popular, as they often have very low kms for 15yo cars. They are limited in dimensions and engine size - 660cc. so the carmakers game that system and make an mazing variety of cars, usually looking like smaller versions of real cars, with turbo/supercharged engines! A great selection available from places like this: www.japanoid.com

And when the Japanese make a car like this, well some people will buy it just to look at it (like Eric Clapton)

Or, if you want to win the one upmanship with people who ride ever larger quads and "all terrain vehicles", you can do this (still a 660 cc engine)

These trucks often come with dual range 4wd and a hydraulic tipping tray - all powered by the 660cc engine, which is less than the capacity of one cylinder of an American truck.

NY Times wrote a good story about the kei cars here;

Just a guess, but I'd bet that the rule is there to allow rich folk to bring their collectibles home legally.

If it happens to benefit the little guy, that would be a mistake in the wording of the law.

I'm on my 4th Ranger, 6th Ford, and I have contacted Ford that this decision will end our relationship (not that it matters). I actually got a response, telling me what I already knew, that the decision has been made about the Ranger and that Ford has no plans to market a small diesel pickup in the US (at this time). "We expect to be able to continue to serve your needs in the future". No, you won't.

Ford has marketed small diesel pickups for years, but not in the US.

I'm on my 4th Ranger

I'm on my first, a 2-tone 97 XLT club-cab 4.0 with matching shell and lumber racks. Got it with 42k and now has 143k on it and runs perfectly. Have only replaced belt and thermostat so far. I like the high mileage Pennzoil, which keeps the rocker arms quiet.

Very dissapointed in Ford for discontinuing the Ranger. Seems like a successful truck - I don't understand their decision.

I bought a used 2001 Ranger in 2005. It was a great truck. When shopping I was really suprised to see how much smaller it was than the Japanese "compacts" that were new at the time, and the new Rangers were identical to mine.

Last year I realized I didn't really need a truck and bought a Mini Cooper. I haven't found anything yet that I couldn't get home. I went from 18 mpg to 33. The mileage doesn't really matter, except in principle, since I only drive about 5000 miles/yr.

Last year I realized I didn't really need a truck and bought a Mini Cooper. I haven't found anything yet that I couldn't get home.

I use the Ranger for my business. Cooper gets good mileage but wouldn't work for my purposes - but glad it does for some people like yourself. Sure it must be fun darting around at 33 mpg.

One of the surprises after we bought our Prius was how much we could fit in it. Our 'truck' is an old Corolla wagon. Use it to haul all sorts of lumber, garden supplies etc. But I can put 10' pipe or studs inside the Prius, but not inside the Corolla wagon. Kind of like an optical illusion, that.

Very dissapointed in Ford for discontinuing the Ranger. Seems like a successful truck - I don't understand their decision.

I drive an 07 Ranger, and I to am dissapointed at this decision, but when I lookat the sales numbers IU think I can understand why; (from Wikipedia)

Calendar Year Total American sales
1999 348,358
2000 330,125
2001 272,460
2002 226,094
2003 209,117
2004 156,322
2005 120,958
2006 92,420
2007 72,711
2008 65,872
2009 55,600
2010 55,364

Declining faster than Texas oil production

Meanwhile, the F-150 peaked in 04 at 939,000, and last year was 528,000.
I don;t like the decision, but I think I can see why they made it. Let's hope our Rangers become collectors items

As gas prices go up, sales of Ford's most fuel frugal truck goes down. Makes perfect sense in a world where no one gives a rat's ass about fuel efficiency. It can't be that all those who did not get the Ranger really needed the additional power and space. It's all about the glorification of power and manliness touted on all those truck commercials with the deep voiced voiceovers. I'd like them bring back the old Datsuns or the old VW trucks. Or how about a Prius Truck? A Pruck?

Let's hope our Rangers become collectors items

Thanks for the sales numbers. Didn't think that size pick up would lose its niche customers. But alas maybe my 97 will become a classic - oh my I'm gonna have to wait a long time...

And another thing about pickups today; the PRICE! I bought a new 2003 GMC Sierra, fully loaded, in 2004 for about $29,000. That same class of pickup now (half ton), with the same setup/features, is about $10,000 more. What the hell is going on here?

Sign of the times?

The American dream is not all it is cut out to be and some Africans are turning their backs on life in the US. Frustrated by tough economic times in the United States, Sammy Maina is packed, ready and waiting to return to Kenya...

...Life in America is so demanding, says Mr Maina, that it has cost several of his African friends their marriages and even led some to commit suicide...

...The reason: they cannot find jobs and have become desperate about their future here.

Portugal looks set to go the way of Ireland and Greece after all:


Portugal needs to resort to financial aid from the European Union to overcome its financial troubles, Finance Minister Fernando Teixeira dos Santos said on Wednesday.

And, as someone was pointing out on the BBC today (I get the BBC world service here in Canada), the debt load of the United States is not much different from Portugal, Ireland, and Greece.

He was worried that investors might become concerned about it. From what I hear, China, which holds over $2 trillion in US government bonds, is already concerned.

Bill Gross certainly seems to agree with that:

The world's biggest bond investor, Bill Gross, has issued a stark warning on the true state of the US debt burden arguing the country will effectively default on its obligations unless it undertakes serious social security reform...

...'This country appears to have an off-balance-sheet, unrecorded debt burden of close to 500% of GDP [gross domestic product]! We are out-Greeking the Greeks'

Anyone who tells you that the problem with the US budget is Social Security is being disingenuous in their pursuit of another agenda. Social Security taxes have not covered payments only once since the reforms of the early eighties and its surpluses have been used to offset debt in other areas of the budget.

This is not to say that some SS reforms wouldn't be a good thing. Only that it is not the source of our current debt problem.

Oops, looks like I got the hyperlink wrong. For those interested: http://www.citywire.co.uk/money/bill-gross-us-is-out-greeking-the-greeks...

Yep - I heard a staggering figure from Chris Hedges on one of his latest interviews...

One half of all spending in this country since the end of WWII has been on the military.

So as soon as I hear anyone whining about budget problems and cutting this and slashing that, well I know it is nothing but smoke and mirrors.

There is no way that a country survives with anything like a stable civilization when it spends 1/2 of its prosperity engaging in needless foreign entanglements (and oh by the way - for all that spending we have not won anything that would be considered a significant war since WWII).

There is a key difference, though, between the US and Portugal, Ireland, and Greece. The U.S. controls it's own currency and can "print" however much it wants. Portugal, Ireland, and Greece have surrendered that portion of their sovereignty to the EU/ECB.

Interesting article at Climate Progress on escalating cost of nuclear power.

Does nuclear power have a negative learning curve?
'Forgetting by doing'? Real escalation in reactor investment costs

April 6, 2011

Drawing on largely unknown public records, the paper reveals for the first time both absolute as well as yearly and specific reactor costs and their evolution over time. Its most significant finding is that even this most successful nuclear scale-up was characterized by a substantial escalation of real-term construction costs.


Heaps of trouble: Japan's quake debris piles up, and solutions aren't clear

Cleanup by the numbers:

  • The estimates of the volume of tsunami and earthquake debris range from 80 million to 200 million tons, said Kazuyuki Akaishi, a waste and recycling expert at the Japan Research Institute.

  • In a typical year, the country generates about 71 million tons of household waste, and more than 400 million tons of industrial waste, according to the Environment Ministry.

  • Japan's National Police Agency says 18,000 houses collapsed and about 140,000 others were partially damaged. In Miyagi prefecture alone, an estimated 146,000 cars were destroyed and more may yet be found as tsunami-inundated areas dry out.

  • The expense is expected to far exceed the $3.2 billion required to dispose of 15 million tons of debris in Kobe after its 1995 earthquake.


Another problem with scrap and debris is starting to be considered

Scrap, metal firms adopt Japan steel mill radiation standards: sources

Japanese and South Korean companies that handle scrap and metal materials have begun to adopt radiation safety standards followed by Japanese steelmakers in the wake of the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan, industry sources said Tuesday.

While Japanese electric arc furnaces that use ferrous scrap to make steel have radiation detection systems at their plant gates, there is no uniform safety radiation standard for the metal industry and the criteria ranges from 0.3-0.5 microsievert/hour, according to two scrap dealers in Tokyo.

China Stops Orders for Japan Scrap Steel on Radiation Concern, Umetal Says

China, the second-biggest buyer of scrap metal from Japan, “stopped taking new orders shortly after the radiation problem was detected and almost all cargoes from Japan were prohibited unless provided with a third-party guarantee,” Zhao Ziyi, an analyst at Umetal.com, said from Beijing. Umetal controls H&C S Holdings Pte Ltd., a Singapore-based scrap metal trader.

Georgian Black Sea Port Terminal Halted on Radioactive Findings

Georgia’s Black sea port of Batumi halted work today because of a suspicious radioactive substance hidden among scrap metal, said Levan Gogua, the main specialist in the Environment Ministry’s nuclear safety department. “Our colleagues are already traveling there to find out whether the substance found in Batumi port is CS-137,” Gogua said today by phone.

California and the Pacific NW may find some flotsum & jetsum in a few years.

Where will the debris from Japan's tsunami drift in the ocean?

The debris first spreads out eastward from the Japan Coast in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. In a year, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument will see pieces washing up on its shores; in two years, the remaining Hawaiian islands will see some effects; in three years, the plume will reach the US West Coast, dumping debris on Californian beaches and the beaches of British Columbia, Alaska, and Baja California. The debris will then drift into the famous North Pacific Garbage Patch, where it will wander around and break into smaller and smaller pieces. In five years, Hawaii shores can expect to see another barrage of debris that is stronger and longer-lasting than the first one. Much of the debris leaving the North Pacific Garbage Patch ends up on Hawaii's reefs and beaches.

Question -

I have been having the peak oil discussion on facebook with some of my friends. In general, people don't seem to want to consider that there may not be a solution to this problem. So far, the most popular suggestion for the solution is natural gas - we have a ton of it, vast proven reserves that can be extracted by hydro fracking, we can convert our cars to run on it, you know the drill.

To respond to this, I'm wondering what resources exist that have examined this question directly. I know the amount of economically recoverable gas may be hugely overstated, the environmental impacts are troubling and disputed, and there are the cost and time issues involved with converting a huge fleet of cars and trucks to run on natural gas, along with the infrastructure needed to conveniently and safely fuel them.

I'm not expecting anyone to hand me this info on a silver plate, but what are some places I can start to look for the relevant data?



We may have a ton of gas but we are still currently net importers.

For a global review you might have a look at my ASPO-2010 presentation:

Natural Gas Net-Export Trends



Not sure if this will help, but last week my neighbor tried to get me into a discussion about all the oil reserves, and I wouldn't get into it. Tue. I copied and pasted most of Kunstlers screed into an e-mail and sent it to him. Yesterday I asked him if he read it, and if his answer was his (Kunstler) is full of it. His answer was not at all and then went into a diatribe on how soon we'll be running out of oil, looks like his opinion flipped over in a heart beat.


Jim – First: “the amount of economically recoverable gas”: that’s not accurate. The folks who throw out those huge RESOURCE numbers (not reserve numbers) typically don’t factor the economic side of the equation. They simply say XX trillions of cu ft of NG without stating the price assumptions. So tell your friends that much of that huge resource will be available to them…at a price 3 to 4 times more than current prices…and maybe even more. So their fill up at their local LNG will cost several times what LNG costs today. In addition to the higher costs for the NG they will also have to pay their share of the many hundreds of $billions spent to build those LNG stations. ExxonMobil and Chevron aren’t going to donate them free of charge to the American people. That cost will b recovered at the pump.

So now ask them if they’re ready to convert their cars to LNG today even if they don’t have a station within a 100+ miles? No one is going to build LNG stations quicker than there is a demand for the fuel. And few folks will convert their cars to LNG if they don’t have a station closer than ½ a tank. IMHO it’s very easy to pop their bubble if you just ask those few simple questions. OTOH I’m sure their common response will be ”Someone will figure it out”.

As someone who maks a living exploring for NG I would be thrilled if the feds started forcing folks to go LNG...I can always use the boost in income.

Thanks, Jonathan, Hermit, and Rockman. Much obliged to all of you.


It can be done, just look at the Australian example. Grants for dual fuel conversion, regulations pushing fleet conversions - it's rare that a taxi doesn't have a tank in the trunk.

It's actually where most of those big US gas guzzlers should go, they have the space to do it easily.

Simply mandate that anything big and fuel inefficient has to be converted to dual fuel by 3 years time to stay on the road - the rest follows. Oh, and if the Exxon's etc. get cute, just tell them you are perturbed by their lack of focus and its making you think about reconsidering their tax position....


Yes LPG (not to be confused with LNG or CNG) powers most of our taxi fleet
Mainly because its much cheaper, due to minimal excise, but thats about to increase

Even after that date, excise will be gradually applied in annual increments of 2.5 cents per litre until it reaches a ceiling of 12.5 cents per litre in 2015.
In comparison, the current excise on petrol in 38.143 cents per litre.

The grants for conversion was a bit of a fiasco
It created heavy demand and the price of conversion went up by roughly the price of the grant almost overnight

Nevertheless LPG has worked well in Australia

gary - That's exactly my point: It was done in your neck of the woods with the aid of tax payer money and laws. It isn't that it can't be done but won't be done in a timely manner IMHO because of the financial side of the equation. It may make all the sense in the world on paper but if the public/corporations/govt don't put the capex to it then it won't happen. We've got 300 milion folks and over 200 million vehicles if I recall correctly. Do the math: how much money to expand LNG to just 50% of those autos? And this at a time when the govt/public is having difficulty covering costs for essential items. I just can't see us spending the trillions it would take to make a difference especially in, say, just 10 years.

I do agree that the logical first step would be comercial vehicles...minimizes the number of fuel depots and puts the burden on the companies who should recognize the long term financial benefits. Many here already do.

BTW: If the rest of the world quickly switched to LNG vehicles how much would your cost to drive to work increase? That's the other consideration folks ignore. NG/LNG current prices are based upon current consumption. And if consumption increase 1,000% in the next 10 years what will be the price for this fuel? That question seems to never be factored in. Given the price of gasoline in the US is dominated by our glutonous consumption of the same you would have thunk folks would see the obvious: anything is cheap when no one is buying it. Now throw a billion new buyers into the mix and it might become a tad more expensive.

It's Hurricaine season again.

Very active tropics predicted this year

Last year’s season ranked as the third most active season on record with a total of 19 named storms, but few of those impacted the U.S. coastline. This year, Pastelok said, things are expected to be different.

“It looks like we're going to have more impact on the mainland of the U.S. coming up this year compared to last year,” Pastelok said.

Gulf Region a Concern Area this Hurricane Season

This year, the western Gulf Coast region is in the early-season risk area, while the eastern Gulf region will be in the mid- to late-season area.

Seraph -

I'm no one's AGW denialist, but do the science types really have the predictive power to be able to say that such and such region is a risk area at a certain time of the season? More power to them if they do, but I'm a bit skeptical.

As I understand it, the folks who make the hurricane forecast at Colorado State are not AGW types. that is, they aren't using the same type of models, called General Circulation Models (GCM's), which are used to both forecast the weather and to project the effects of increases in greenhouse gases or other influences on climate. It's a different sort of game than that of studying AGW..

E. Swanson

Jim - I understand what you're saying. I appreciated the global warming potential decades ago before most folks could spell AGW. LOL. Though a geologist by trade I started my B.S. in Earth Sciences in 1970. OTOH I was grounded in ecology but also got the very long view (hundreds of millions of year) from my geologic studies. Folks model future sea level changes of 10's of feet. I've studied changes of thousands of feet in the geologic record. I've seen the record of millions of species gone extinct.

So I have no trouble envisioning the AGW future. OTOH I feel folks are over reaching in their modeling efforts. But that isn't to say it's a wasted effort. I just think it's far too complex to come up with exact predictive outcomes just as you suggest. Once again I can offer my crude view of modeling: modeling can be like masterbation - if you're not careful you might start to believe it's the real thing.

BTW I firmly beleive were in for significant climate changes as a result of AGW and will not avoid it. Not because we can't but because we won't. So far mankind has been will to fritter away natural resources on a winner takes all basis. We've been willing to scarifice ten's of millions in wars which had a significant basis in resource control. So now I'm to believe we'll have a dramatic change in our DNA and not be willing to inflict AGW on future generations we'll not live to see? Coal will once again be King IMHO. Not because it's the right way to go but because it's the best shot to keep BAU. Yes...I have no hope that we'll collectively deny ourselves for the sake of our great, great grandchildren

"I have no hope that we'll collectively deny ourselves for the sake of our great, great grandchildren."

Jeez, Rock... it kind of sucks when the veil gets lifted.

Even if we humans could suddenly reprogram our collective selves, it's clear that our offspring are in for a wild ride. The best we can do is give them a good attitude about things, and some useful skills,, accept some responsibility.

Ghung - I know but it's impossible for me to forget history. I know we want to believe that each new generation becomes a nice kinder group of offspring but history doesn't seem to bear out that hope. You already know I'm probably was of the nicest people you'll ever run across. But I have a 12 yo daughter whose future is of much greater concern to me than that of her great, great granddaughter born in 2090. Or put another way I'm as concerned about that future population as much as our fellow citizens during the Civil War were worried about usins today.

Living in a hurricane zone and having suffered a too near miss I watch the seasons offerings with a lot of interest. The differences in the tracks in our early season and in our late season are very noticeable. I do not worry in the early season but the late season needs watching.


From Leanan's Orlov link, uptop: Financial totalitarianism

It is rather difficult to embrace such basic tenets while remaining within a culture that has elevated avariciousness and rapaciousness to the status of virtues. But here is a key insight: being poor on purpose is much easier than being poor as a result of suddenly having less than you are accustomed to having. Voluntary poverty is a hell of a lot easier than involuntary poverty.

I suppose that this is something I've been working toward. Not poverty really. More like having what one needs without yearning for more, and liking it. It seems that too many folks are so busy aquiring and holding on to what they think they need that their real needs aren't being met, resulting in an escalation of consumption. They think it makes them secure ....

"Get thee to the discretionary side...."

Yair...I totaly agree Ghung.

When you get down to the nitty gritty of human "existance" it seems to me that we are no different to any other species. We need a safe comfortable place to live and raise our young and sufficient food and water. Nothing else realy matters...although it will obviously mean different things to different people.

The provision of these essentials is likely to be enough to exercise our bodies and, being an intelligent species, we can likely devise ways and means to exercise our minds.

As I have mentioned here before the greatest buildings ever built, the greatest stories ever told and the greatest music ever written all occured before the time of fossil fuel.

I am coming up to a late retirement (70) and folks ask what I will do with my time...I point out that I will not have sufficient of that commodity to do a fraction of what I have planned.

Yair yourself, Scrubby. Pass it on, one day at a time. Who knows; you may become a Shaman of the great decline, a regular Prophet of Hope ;-)

Per a Bank of Japan monetary report released today, the BOJ expanded its money base 25% in the month of March alone (nearly $300 billion US). http://www.boj.or.jp/en/statistics/boj/other/mbt/mbt1103.pdf

Compare this to the $600 billion quantitative easing program (QE2) by the Federal Reserve over 8 months.

Using a more smoothed daily average, the money base is up 16.9% from last year:

According to a report released by The Bank of Japan (BOJ) on Monday, the monetary base in Japan surged 16. 9 % in March from a year earlier, rising for the 31st consecutive month.
Huge amounts of extra liquidity were pumped into money markets following the massive March 11 magnitude-9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that devastated homes, business and infrastructure in the northeast of Japan, as well as sparking an on-going nuclear crisis.


It appears the first resort of central banks to economic problems, including oil related problems, is to 'print' more money.

QE 2 ends in June. The U.S. economy runs on steroids. I want to know what happens then, if the U.S. needs to stand on it's own feet. By June, prices will be much higher, combined with an end of QE 2.

I see a QE 3 as inevitable lest a recession is accepted as an alternative.
Either way, the U.S. debt will inflate even more. I struggle to see how long the government can keep it's AAA rating.

And the U.S. economy is too big to fail, but who will bail them out? The Chinese? Good luck, they can't service the deficit for more than 1 year, if you include the average bailout cost.

There's a part of me that pities America. I've always been a friend of the nation, even if that's not a popular position to take in Sweden. I don't want to see it so brittle.

That's a good appraisal of the situation.

No doubt there will not be a sudden end to 'quantitative easing' in either the US or Japan. What happens after June will depend on whether the developing oil price superspike will be viewed as a physical shortage problem or a result of monetary policies. If considered a non-monetary event, then the Fed may feel free to continue QE to counter the negative effects of high oil prices on the economy. I am not completely sure how this will go down.

Despite grave doubts about the Euro here in the US as 2011 started, the ECB has actually contracted its money base in 2011. So I am not very surprised that the Euro is doing well against the dollar.

Oh, goody, another receding, or, rather, expanding, horizon: World population could peak at 11 billion instead of 9.4 billion. And so many folks seemed to be taking 9 billion or so as gospel.


I beat my drum a few times here and there on TOD advocating that the World desperately needs to make a strong push to inculcate people to adopt the philosophy and practice of each woman having no more than 2 children, but each time a number of folks would surface here and lecture about how the future population growth rate is not a problem...that fertility rates are falling fast...and some of the folks even would go over the top and warn that lower fertility rates and peaking population growth would have various negative consequences. In fact, several folks here thought that the World would top out at 8-ish Billion...

And then there are the folks who surface and scold that population is not the problem but per-capita consumption is the problem (yes,yes, yes...any intelligent person realizes that BOTH population numbers and per capital consumption are problems). But taking that tack is a great way to avoid talking about taking action one doesn't believe in.

And let us not forget the folks who say: "Too late, stop worrying, the giant crash and population bottleneck will take care of things for us". Gee, I imagine there were visionaries who said that very thing when the population crested 4 billion people. Good thing we kept the foot on the birth accelerator back then.

And my favorite: Well, I have four great children who I will count on to take care of me in my older age. Wonderful.

My point is...what if the great crash/dieoff or the great singularity doesn't happen...what if we end up with many 10s of decades or longer with a great steaming masses of hot, sweaty, hopeless, ghetto humanity, as depicted in the movie Soylent Green?

It is never too late to throttle back on the number of children per woman to reach replacement level.

Yes, my wife and I had two children, and I had a vasectomy. My parents had two children.

The math isn't that hard. Two replaces two. Self-control and caring enough about the big picture is difficult for many though.

/putting away soap box and going to bed.

I think people who are hoping their children will take care of them in their old age are in for a big disappointment.

Almost every one of my acquaintances have had a child in the past few years. Frankly I'm shocked at the cavalier attitude people take regarding that decision - it is the number one indicator to me that most people, even those who are quite intelligent, do not appear to pay a whit of attention to the large scale "issues" we face as a civilization.

Based on my anecdotal experience, with the exception a small % of the population it appears that the ability to comprehend a life other than BAU is inconceivable...

The use of energy and other natural resources by Homo sapiens is largely a function of the species extravagent courtship displays and complex nesting and offspring rearing behaviors.

I'm a single guy, but I remember clearly when I first learned about PO issues, I had a sudden urge to get married and spawn boat loads of kids.

I think you will find the reason to this reaction deep in our evolutionary past.

The evolutionary tree has two branches:

1) Them that reproduce
2) Them that don't

Branch number 2 is a very short one

My Sister has a couple kids, I have one, my brother has none.. but HIS family continues in our kids, and our kids have options and security by having another uncle and aunt in the mix.

There's TWO kinds of people in the world, those that look at all people in just two subsets, those that don't, and those that kinda do, and kinda don't. It's just that simple.

Worker bees, ants and naked mole rats agree.

I'm shocked at the cavalier attitude people take regarding that decision

There is no "decision" so to speak.

Mindless procreation is a necessary outcome of evolution.

Those critters that don't do it, go extinct.
Simple as that.

But it's not.

People do choose to refrain from procreation. That doesn't mean the end of the line; they can instead help their relatives' offspring. (Indeed, that may be why women go through menopause. Most animals do not. They remain fertile until the end. Only highly social animals, like humans and whales, have menopause.)

Entire societies choose to limit procreation, as Jared Diamond documented, and as Ugo mentions in his essay up top. Many nations in the former Soviet Union struggled with shrinking populations, even though birth control was banned. Wealthy nations like Japan and Italy have below replacement level fertility, and even the US would be at roughly steady-state were it not for immigration.

There is nothing simple or mindless about the decision to have or not have children.


Thanks for the articles, all one-hundred fourty of them. Of course I read them all, except the 7th one down, which has no link.

Oops. Sorry about that. It actually did have a link. It was just invisible. This is it:

An audacious new theory to compete with "Peak Oil": Hydrocarbons forever.

Should be fixed up top now as well.

"Global Thermostat and at least two competitors say they can pull carbon dioxide straight from the air, potentially at costs low enough to solve global warming and provide an infinite source of gas by using the CO2 to feed algae."

In case someone didn't catch the subtle point: "potentially". I get the "potentially" word thrown at me all the time while reviewing drilling deals. After all these years I automaticly translate that word to mean it hasn't been proven and/or can't be done today. But I'll reserve final judgement when I see the bottom line after they've run the scaled up pilot plant for a couple of years. It's only fair, ya know.

In the mean time it might be a heck of a stock investment. Potentially, anyway.

Note that the article says: "Expensive machines used in submarines and space craft have been pulling CO2 out of the air for generations. The trick is making sucking CO2 out of the air economically feasible."

Clearly someone who has not done their research before writing. The technology for removing CO2 from submarines and spacecraft for generations is not expensive at all. It is a simple canister of granular lithium hydroxide which all the breathed air passes through. Usually referred to as chemisorption, the CO2 reacts with the LiOH to make lithium carbonate. When you return home you throw away the lithium carbonate. Good luck with recovering the CO2 from a very stable carbonate.

Science described by illiterates........

Because we all know that there are vast LiOH mines all over the planet, waiting to be plundered, just in the nick of time to save us from global warming. Wait a minute - if that were true, there would be no CO2 in the atmosphere! ;-)

There is a difference between scrubbing the CO2 generated by crew on a submarine or spacecraft and that belched out by industrial civilization.

LiOH has to be synthesized. Part of the synthesis involves drying the hydrated intermediate in a vacuum at 180 degrees C. I don't think that's an energy-free step.

Besides, we need all that lithium for our batteries in the Glorious Electric Future. :-)

TE/sage - you guys are missing the point: this is a great investment opportunity. Of course, only if you sell before the truth becomes apparent when these companies start filing for bankruptcy.

Dang...you guys are dense.

Just convert the CO2 into Arm & Hammer. We can brush our teeth and use it as deodorant. Make lots of chalk out of it. Then put the chalk into the classrooms so we can refund schools again with the latest technology. Sometimes I have to spend 10 minutes looking for chalk.

Oct - That's the spirit buddy! Not only is it a good investment but we would also "be doing it for the children". A kid with out chalk is such a sad thought. We must not let this stand!!!

"A kid with out chalk is such a sad thought."

Yes, without chalk you couldn't have the fun of being allowed to "clean the erasers" for the teacher! Oops, now I'm dating myself!

"How The Oil Lobby Greases Washington's Wheels" or why ethanol subsides are always under attack while oil subsidies are ignored:



From the chart guys at Business Insider, this is the interest paid on US debt to banks and foreign holders of government bonds. It’s the chart Tea Party Republican Paul Ryan doesn’t want you to see. While his budget shows government debt running away like an Olympic sprinter coked out on synthetic steroids by 2025 — 100% of GDP Ryan shows here — interest payments on that debt are at multi-decade lows.


The government shutdown is nothing but Republican/Tea Party hysteria.

Hopefully, if it happens, they will pay the price for this nonsense come November 2012.

So we are now running up oil prices to the same level seen in May 2008. The last time we were here, the price spiked to $147, as everybody knows. But, I think it is interesting that the market was only able to hold prices above this level for 4 months. Regardless of the price we reach in mid summer, it will be very illuminating to see if the economy can absorb more than four months at these altitudes.

I think so many people are looking for similarities between now and 2008, that it must help make it reality. July will be a nail biter.

eastie - I think a more telling stat than price would be the amount monies spent monthly both globally and domesticly. I hope one of our more data oriented types can throw that out. For instance, is the world/US spending more total money this month for oil than the last month oil was at $147/bbl?

Even just looking at the starting point and rate of increase, if this turns into a spike I wouldn't hazard a guess as to how high it could go.

r4 - That was my point about not so much focusing on a spike vs. long term energy inflation. I'm assuming a 12 month period of $110 oil will be much more damaging than a few months period of $147 oil. Be nice to see some visuals.

Large, quick spikes seam to effect people like independent truck drivers, who sign a contract for deliveries with estimated fuel expenses, then reality costs more and they go broke.

Long term higher prices probably have the effect of changing business strategies, like building less SUVs or holding off on investing.

long term energy inflation

Ahh, but is it energy inflating or the Austrian definition of inflation - money printing that makes things look like energy is becoming more expensive?

(Or another argument - oil was WAY underpriced and is now starting to become priced based on the fact its a rare and one shot item?)

I'm assuming a 12 month period of $110 oil will be much more damaging than a few months period of $147 oil.

Probably true. Yesterday I was working while CNBC was on in the background and a written scroll at the bottom caught my attention. 'Bernanke called commodity price rises transitory'.

I don't think anyone's going to argue with that, but the important question is 'what' causes that price rise to drop back down? The last time we did this dance it dropped back down due to the mortgage meltdown and the high price of energy. With this commodity spike, we can only guess as to what specifically will trigger a massive stock market sell-off, commodity price drop and subsequent recession, but if commodity prices keep going up something will surely give.

I've been wondering if this time around the price of oil will actually go higher than 147. I know conventional wisdom would suggest the economy isn't as strong as in 08 and a lower price will cause it to drop. However, real estate is on the back burner, with foreclosures occurring on a high, but consistent basis and probably won't trigger the 2nd step down. What we seem to be getting this time you allude to Rockman, and that is the spector of a more consistently high oil price, rather than a quick price spike. We are still in that price rise so we don't know yet how long it will last or high it will go, but it's starting to seem like a constrictor slowly squeezing in on its prey, and as we all know there's nothing worse than a slow death, in this case of our tepid recovery.

I suppose this is jumping ahead, but what will it feel like for the World once the 2nd step down is under way? That will surely be a sick feeling.

Earl - Speaking of death:'Bernanke called commodity price rises transitory'. Perhaps Ben thinks of life as "transitory" to death. Really can't argue with that view, can you?

Really can't argue with that view, can you?

No, obviously everything is transitory. Bernanke must have studied some of the great philosophers, one's that knew how to make statements difficult to argue with.

Using monthly average gasoline price and 4 week average demand data from the EIA...

US monthly gasoline expenditures:

March 2008: $29,721,528

March 2011: $31,716,492.50

Thanks spud. That was my suspicion.

Something about these numbers bother me. There are over 250 million passenger vehicles in the US and we're only spending around $30 million a month on gas? That's like 12 cents per vehicle. So what am I missing?

According to the EIA Petroleum Statistics the US consumes 378 million gallons/day. If your figure of 250 million passenger vehicles is correct that would put consumption at 1.5 gallons per vehicle per day. That would come out to something a little better than $5 a day per vehicle.

That is 2009 data so it would have been less than that then however.

To Spudw, you should post a link with your data. There is a problem with your data and if we had the link we could clear it up.

Ron P.

LOL my bad. Forgot to multiply times 42 to get gallons from a barrel!

March 2008: $1,254,461,040

March 2011: $1,331,625,120

Does that make more sense?


And the numbers from AAA. Includes other factors besides fuel costs.

Average cost of operation for a sedan at 10k miles per year

2011: 76.3 cents per mile

2008: 71 cents per mile


By these numbers we're still looking at $4-$5 per vehicle per month (if my math is right). Are you using a daily figure - that would put yours in the same range as what Ron figured using a different starting point.

About $5.36 per day I think. The number shown is the average daily expenditure for the month of March in 2008 and 2011.

Thanks! That puts your number right around Ron's - makes sense now.

Some things are different.

We are now on our way out of a resession, not into one.

We have now spent boat loads of money on bailing out banks, acumulating gouvernmental debts and destroying publicsuport for doing it again.

People now have less trust in the market and is more prone to save money than to loan and spend.

We now have a quater of a billion mor humans around.

These factors is gonna move the point where the oil price breaks the economy, but I do not know in what direction. Anyone care to speculate?

Can I get back to you in September? :)

Jedi - What do you mean "we' as Tonto said to the Lone Ranger. LOL. Read a report a few weeks back: while applicants for first time unemployemtn droped we still have 7 million unemployed...the largest number recorded since they began tracking this stat.

As you imply...these aren't good time and they don't appear to be getting better.

The policy makers will not commit the same error of letting Lehman go under. This was the key event that caused a liquidity crisis in the global banking system and changed a moderate recession into a severe one.

Or changed what would have been a deep and short recession into a shallower, long term N-dip recession.

GE to Build Solar-Panel Factory

The diversified manufacturer said the 400-megawatt facility, which will be larger than any other U.S. solar-panel factory to date, will complement its planned $3.2 billion acquisition of French power-conversion company Converteam and highlight GE's expected investment of more than $600 million in the solar segment.

Over the past six months, GE has made a string of deals totaling $11 billion aimed at expanding its energy business.
The thin-film panels were produced at PrimeStar Solar Inc., which GE recently acquired after being a majority shareholder since 2008. The company also announced agreements for more than 100 megawatts of solar thin-film products.

From PimeStar's site -- "PrimeStar Solar is scaling up the world record efficiency thin film cadmium telluride PV technology that was developed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)."

Back in 2009 they closed a Solar-Panel plant:

GE To Close Its Solar-Panel Manufacturing Plant In Delaware

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- General Electric Co. (GE) plans to shut down its only solar-panel manufacturing facility, as it found that prices for panels fell below production costs, Clean Technology Insight has learned.

"On October 23 we announced the restructuring of our solar business to employees and our intent to close the Newark [Del.] facility," said Milissa Rocker, spokeswoman for the company, in an interview.

GE's production facility is a victim of a rapidly evolving solar market, where older U.S. plants are shutting down, reducing production, or outsourcing abroad, even as some foreign manufacturers, like those from China, plan to open new manufacturing in the U.S.

The decision to shut down production was "mainly due to the challenges in the solar industry, including overcapacity levels that are twice demand and industry pricing that's below the cost of producing the panels," said Rocker.

GE plans to stop manufacturing crystalline silicon panels on Jan. 1, 2010. It will close the plant by the end of June of next year, she said.

So it looks like GE gave up on US production of crystalline silicon panels, but thinks that they can economically produce CdTe panels in the US. Possibly the technology lends itself to continuous processing and highly automated manufacturing that more than offset a somewhat lower efficiency?


Well first solar says its production costs are $.75 per watt. So the thin films are really becoming cheap. As the cost of producing a panel goes down, the relative cost of shipping goes up, so the ten cents per watt shipping cost from China might soon overtake the cheap labor advantage. Crystalline silicon is coming down as well. I think within a couple of years the driver for system cost, will be mounting and racking, not panels or inverters.

Not to mention that subsidies are being milked for all they are worth keeping prices artificially high so as to boost shareholder return.


EoS wrote;

I think within a couple of years the driver for system cost, will be mounting and racking, not panels or inverters.

Hopefully FMagyar will comment on this, since he does this for a living.

My understanding is that the "balance of system" costs, including installation, are already the majority of the cost. Inverters are cheaper than they were a decade ago, but are still more than $1/W, and the other costs (e.g. installation)don;t seem to have come down much, and I don't really see how they can, other than to go to large scale systems, which may incur other costs, like land, power lines, etc.

My inverter was $0.52/W

Outback Power Off Grid Inverter Charger 3600 Watt 48 VDC VFX3648


As usual, you get ripped off in Canada (http://www.energyalternatives.ca/shop/itemdesc.asp?ic=FX3048T&eq=&Tp=)
But even so, it is about $0.75/W, so i stand corrected.

I was actually meaning grid tie systems, though I didn't say that. I know of one solar grid tie system done here in BC, and the requirements of the utility (e.g. a utility accessible visible disconnect switch!) made the BOS quite expensive indeed, but I should not tar them all with the same brush,

Last year I was looking at some micro hydro projects(2-5kW), that would use grid tie inverters, and it priced them out of the picture, though the prices seem a bit cheaper now. Hydro of course, suffers some serious lack of economy of really small scale - does not cost much more to build 10kW than 5 than 2.

And the grid tie rates you get here (net metering) at 8.16c/kWh make most small projects uneconomical anyway!

Grid tie systems, with higher voltage strings and most BOS components (combiner, breakers, charge controller) integrated into the inverter have driven BOS and installation costs down, along with building integrated PV (mating PV with roofing systems). Off grid and hybrid systems are more costly but may be more valuable going forward.

Copper prices can be a significant factor as well. I oversized my wiring, though if I had to do it now, the costs would make me rethink this.

Govt seen enforcing power cuts -- Naoki Ogawa and Chiaki Toyoda / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writers

The government intends to impose mandatory curbs on electricity use to avoid massive blackouts this summer and ask major corporate users to cut their daylight power consumption by up to 30 percent year-on-year for about three months, beginning around July, according to sources.

It would be the first time in 37 years for the government to invoke such compulsory restrictions based on the Electricity Business Law's Article 27. Such legal curbs were last implemented in 1974, after the 1973 oil crisis.

The Strong Link between GDP & Oil Consumption

While Chinese oil consumption growth is expected to slow from the blistering 13.1% growth the country experienced in 2010, China is still expected to see a 6.6% growth in consumption this year.

According to the latest numbers from JODI, China's oil demand grew by 34.6% in November and by 29.3% in December (YoY).

Barclays says that China’s per capita oil consumption would have to increase nine-fold from 2010 levels in order to match that of the US and India’s would have to increase 23 times what it was in 2010. If this were to happen an additional 170 million barrels a day of production would be needed to meet demand.

PetroChina to Boost April Oil Processing by 15%, China News Says

PetroChina Co., the nation’s largest oil company, will increase oil processing and shorten maintenance of its plants to ease a fuel shortage in some regions, China News Service reported.

The refiner will raise processing volumes by 15 percent this month from a year earlier and oil-product output by 19 percent, according to the report dated yesterday, which didn’t give exact volumes.

IMF says all we need is .8 percent growth in oil supply every year for the next 20 years to avoid any dramatic effect on the economy.

Slower Oil Output May Not Be ‘Dramatic’ for Growth, IMF Says

A slowdown in oil production over the next 20 years may not be a “major constraint” on global economic growth provided it is “moderate,” the International Monetary Fund said...

The IMF estimates that if growth in oil production falls by 1 percentage point from its historical trend rate of 1.8 percent, it will slow the global economic expansion by less than 0.25 percentage point per year. Over 20 years, oil prices would climb by a cumulative 200 percent, it said.

A fall of 1 percent would leave oil production growing by .8 percent. That would mean that in 20 years C+C production would be at 86.4 mb/d and all liquids would be at 101.3 mb/d. (From an average of 73.7 mb/d and 86.3 mb/d respectively in 2010.)

In case anyone missed it, the IMF is saying that anything less than .8 percent growth in the oil supply would have a dramatic effect. That is only a half percent growth in the oil supply every year would have a dramatic effect on the economy. Now suppose there is not even that, suppose there is a drop of 1 to 2 percent every year. What kind of effect would that have?

Ron P.

This kind of thinking requires an over-simplistic view of oil consumers, as one homogeneous group. But I can't get that Chinese consumption curve out of my mind. When talking about a near flat production curve and then looking at China's consumption curve, you've got to be smoking something to not be worried.

I think you have to be smoking something to believe most official Chinese statistics these days but that's just my view. Regards oil, I suspect they are hiding a decline in internal production. I'm not saying their internal consumption isn't up but not by what they claim it to be.

CNN has a map of the earthquake that hit Japan today and the big one from last month. Today's was much smaller in magnitude, but a lot closer to the coast.

No serious damage, but they did evacuate Fukushima as a precaution.

This is an article which point out that for the first time the human species
is slowing down.

When the U.S. space shuttle completes its final flight, planned for June, mankind will take another step back from its top speed. Space shuttles are the fastest reusable manned vehicles ever built. Their maximum was only exceeded by single-shot moon rockets.

The shuttles' retirement follows the grounding over recent years of other ultrafast people carriers, including the supersonic Concorde and the speedier SR-71 Blackbird spy plane. With nothing ready to replace them, our species is decelerating—perhaps for the first time in history.


Blackbird: Gone
Concorde: Gone
Spaceshuttle: (almost) gone

One interpretation is that excess energy is no more?


That reminds me of this article:

The Slowing Pace of Progress

There was a similar one in the Times of London, called "Waiting for the lights to go out" (now paywalled, alas).

I don't think that it's that excess energy is no more, so much as it's "the end of science." Like Tainter pointed out, there are more scientists alive now than ever before, yet progress (as measured in patents granted) is slowing down. He argues that it's "declining marginal returns" again. The low-hanging fruit is picked first. That is, the easiest and most useful discoveries have already been made. New discoveries are still possible, but they will be more difficult, more expensive, and much harder to turn into useful technology.

Going fast doesn't have very many scientific applications. The only one I can think off of hand is having enough speed to achieve escape velocity.
Hopping on a concord to give a concert or going so fast that it is hard to be shot down are scientifically fairly useles and burn way more fuel than the slower alternatives.


It's not really scientific applications they're talking about. It's useful things that grow out of science - everything from cars to cell phones.

Going faster is useful for most people. Given a choice, I would love to get where I'm going in less than half the time (as the Concorde offered). But it never got to the point where it was within reach of ordinary people like me.

It seems that many human endeavours have reached max velocity. Music, literature, art, food, etc., all seem to be recycling stuff, rearrangements of things, even religion and biotech.

Our species has run out of ideas, going in circles looking for our tails. Sorry folks, there's nothing new under the Sun.....well, perhaps a very few exceptions.

So, are you saying that we may have already reached "peak science"?

Actually, it's John Horgan who said that. Fifteen years ago.

And, infamously, Lord Kelvin. One hundred and eleven years ago.

Five years later Einstein published his paper on Special Relativity.

I read somewhere that the peak of great science discoveries was 1873 or something.

So they still had great discoveries to make, but fewer and fewer.

But how can they say that if they don't know how much is unknown? There may be infinitely much left unknown!

And, as Tainter points out, the new discoveries become more "expensive" in time and resources.

Mendel needed only a garden, pea plants, and a notebook. While new discoveries in genetics are still being made today, they require high-tech equipment that's way more than an individual can afford or maintain.

It really is like the discovery of oil fields. The largest, easiest to extract are found and exploited first. We don't know there's not another Ghawar out there, but given the trends, we can be pretty sure there isn't. And there certainly aren't 50 more Ghawars out there.

I think the ultimate example of increasing complexity/expense and diminishing marginal returns is the CERN Large Hadron Collider - with a total budget of about US$9bn. And all this primarily to find the Higgs Boson.

I doubt we will be able to afford any more such experiments in the future, including those aimed at fusion power.


Perhaps, or perhaps they're just not looking in the right places:

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy

SpaceX has announced that it’s adding the Falcon Heavy to its lineup, which is poised to be the most powerful rocket used for launch since the Saturn V.

Bloodhound SSC

Bloodhound SSC is the name of a project aiming to break the land speed record with a pencil-shaped car powered by a jet engine and a rocket designed to reach approximately 1,000 miles per hour (1,609 km/h). It is being developed and built with the intention of breaking the land speed record by the largest ever margin.

Boeing's X-51 Ready for Round 2

In the longer term there are perhaps more exciting applications in prospect. Brink himself has previously speculated that the X-51A's engine could be persuaded to ignite at lower supersonic speeds achievable by ordinary turbojets. This would open up the prospect of a successor to the legendary SR-71 "Blackbird" spy plane of Cold War fame, which took off from a runway on jet power.

Excellent counter examples.

To be honest though, that concept is one of my biggest personal fears about Peak Oil - that the human race would slow down to such an extent that vacating the planet permanently would no longer be a viable pipe dream (as perhaps there could never be another Industrial Age now that the easy-access oil has disappeared etc.)

And before someone jumps down my throat, I'm too tired to respond to the old 'You're stuck in a fantasy sci-fi time warp' argument! Sorry!

I remember doing the Time-Warp..

"At the late-night, double-feature Picture Show, I want to go, whoa hooo ....!"

Rocky Horror

( I wonder what 'Rocky Bloomberg' is going to be attributing this 3 dollar rocketing of WTI to? ($111.50) I think I'd better go make some Popcorn, just in case..)

Isn't "viable pipe-dream" a contradiction in terms? ;-)

I'm reminded of what Fred Hoyle said:

It has often been said that, if the human species fails to make a go of it here on the Earth, some other species will take over the running. In the sense of developing intelligence this is not correct. We have or soon will have, exhausted the necessary physical prerequisites so far as this planet is concerned. With coal gone, oil gone, high-grade metallic ores gone, no species however competent can make the long climb from primitive conditions to high-level technology. This is a one-shot affair. If we fail, this planetary system fails so far as intelligence is concerned.

And also of Greer's Solving Fermi's Paradox.

On another level, though, Fermi's Paradox can be restated in another and far more threatening way. The logic of the paradox depends on the assumption that unlimited technological progress is possible, and it can be turned without too much difficulty into a logical refutation of the assumption. If unlimited technological progress is possible, then there should be clear evidence of technologically advanced species in the cosmos; there is no such evidence; therefore unlimited technological progress is impossible. Crashingly unpopular though this latter idea may be, I suggest that it is correct - and a close examination of the issues involved casts a useful light on the present crisis of industrial civilization.

Hahaha, yes you're right - a oxymoron if ever there was one..

I side with Fred Hoyle, but I don't know about Greer - why should unlimited technological progress be possible if unlimited energy doesn't exist? Makes no kind of sense. Plus the fact that there's been a finite amount of time since the Big Bang for civilizations to advance and, a big plus, the fact that even if the civilizations had advanced sufficiently to broadcast electromagnetic waves etc. there's no reason why they should have reached us yet or even that they will ever be able to reach us due to the expanding nature of spacetime.

In the development of new technologies there is often an "overshoot" early in the game, especially when someone throws a lot of money at it. The space shuttle is a good example. Another was the SS Great Eastern, the largest iron hulled ship between 1858 and 1899, with 6 masts, two paddle wheels, and a screw propeller. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Great_Eastern

Consider that modern fighter aircraft are designed for supercruise, are extremely manuverable, and have higher thrust to weight ratio than Concord era airplanes.

Also, there has been no diminuation of scientific output. As certain fields matured, others have opened up. Computer science and genetics and molecular biology are both examples of fields that have made great advances.

Swedish physicists on the E-cat: “It’s a nuclear reaction”

In a detailed report, two Swedish physicists exclude chemical reactions as the energy source in the Italian ‘energy catalyzer’. The two physicists recently supervised a new test of the device in Bologna, Italy.

It is looking less and less probable that it is a scam.

Since the two guys who went to see the device seem qualified to assess if it's a scam or not and given the support of the university of Bologna it really looks like a breaktrough.

Kullander: The powder has reportedly been used for 2.5 months continuously with an output of 10 kW (according to Rossi). It corresponds to a total energy of 18 MWh, with a consumption of up to 100 grams of nickel and two grams of hydrogen. If the production had been done with oil, two tons of oil would have been required.

For the first test plant of 1 megawatt operational in october they will use 300 small devices linked together, it seems weird that they can't scale up into one big unit.

Maybe even if we had unlimited free energy we might screw every ecosystem on earth while enjoying the ride ...

Curiouser and curiouser.

Does anyone know anything about this Hanno Essén and Sven Kullander? But, blimey, I would have thought the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ Energy Committee was reputable enough.

How about Swedish input - Leiten?

Not sure about Essen, but Kullander seems to be a peak oiler. He's listed right next to Kjell Aleklett on the Uppsala web site, and his page says something about energy running out.

Steorn also claimed that scientists and engineers supported their device. IME, it's not very difficult to fool scientists and engineers. They are generally looking for mistakes, not fraud.

Yes, was thinking the same thing - there's normally a certain amount of honour amongst scientists so they might not be expecting outright fraudulence.

Well, anyway, it's certainly piqued my interest now - will be keeping an eye on developments!

For the first test plant of 1 megawatt operational in october they will use 300 small devices linked together,

And being able to deliver a working prototype would be a good proof of "yes, it does work".

Maybe even if we had unlimited free energy we might screw every ecosystem on earth while enjoying the ride ...

Odds are yes. And the technocopanians would have a justifiable position of "I told ya so" WRT a new power source.

But right now - the insides of the box were not shown, so the item could have been a fraud.

the insides of the box were not shown, so the item could have been a fraud.

Yes, but this is the conundrum - what else in such a tiny confined space could produce that amount of power? If it's true there's no external wires that could be providing electricity?

My understanding is it was providing hot water, not electricity.

I look forward to them being granted the patents they are seeking so then the rest of us can see/replicate the black-magic mojo.

As I understand things - the US of A does not allow patents in "cold fusion" - might be worth contacting your Congressthing and ask for a change in law to grease the skids for 'em and any other person who has a demonstrable fusion-de-la-cold.

Sorry, I meant surreptitious wires providing electricity into the box that then heats the water.

As they explained it supposedly produced 25kWh of energy - so if there are no wires into the box, and it's not cold fusion, what the hell else have they got in there?

That would require about 2/3's of a gallon of oil (231 in3)to produce the same amount of energy - but they're saying this box is only 3 in3 in volume.

P.s. Seeing as they're an Italian team they might not be so bothered about whether the US will grant them a patent or not ;-P

Ah! Cunning...

Have they demonstrated that they can transfer that amount of power yet? Either way it could prove an interesting development!

Edit: Ah, looking at in more detail it does appear to have an external source of power - for the ignition process of heating the water to 60ºC. So, I guess there still remains a chance for them to fool the inspectors by fiddling the electricity input measuring components?

Part of the "banter" about the how/why "we can't show the how we do this because we lack patents".

Ok. Fine. If that's the thing stopping Joe's metalworking and garage from being able to make one to see if it is replicatable is Government fiat then by George, lets get 'em a piece of paper with the stamp of Government protection.

Mr. Change should be able to make such happen.

And the upside? The whole darn thing can then be called a success or fraud and thus humanity can move on.

A US Patent Application was published on Jan. 13, 2011

Patent Application: 20110005506
Inventor: Andrea Rossi

Method and Apparatus for Carrying out Nickel and Hydrogen Exothermal Reaction

A method and apparatus for carrying out highly efficient exothermal reaction between nickel and hydrogen atoms in a tube, preferably, though not necessary, a metal tube filled by a nickel powder and heated to a high temperature, preferably, though not necessary, from 150 to 5000 C are herein disclosed. In the inventive apparatus, hydrogen is injected into the metal tube containing a highly pressurized nickel powder having a pressure, preferably though not necessarily, from 2 to 20 bars.

To see the full text, search for it here: http://appft1.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html

This gives TOD something to watch to see if it gets approved and how fast after that you get replication/more public demonstrations.

And if it works we can then complain about nickel toxicity. Or neutrons. Or whatever threat this has.


[0064]As it will be shown in a detailed manner in the following Table 1, it is possible to calculate that, supposing a full transformation, a mole, that is 58 g nickel, generate the same amount of energy obtained by burning about 30,000 tons of oil.

Hahaha.. oh sheesh.. this can't be true.. ack, but if it does turn out to be... I don't even know what to say really.

Looks like another Orbo to me. Or that oil from algae scam. The claims are hard to believe, and I also doubt responsible scientists would make them. Their paper has been rejected by peer-reviewed journals, so they published it themselves in their own online journal.

I'm still concerned about the lack of dead technicians lying around the experimental apparatus, indicating there's not much of a nuclear nature going on. That, and the fact that if it worked as described, it should consume energy rather than produce it. Transmuting nickel to copper would be an endothermic reaction.

Transmuting nickel to copper would be an endothermic reaction.

But, they claim some hydrogen vanished as well. So Nickel + hydrogen yields copper. That would probably yield net energy, as far as fusion goes, the lion's share of the binding energy is released converting hydrogen to deuterium. Once you get Helium, energy per unit mass wise, theres only maybe a tenth as much left in going all the way to nickel-iron.

But, of course cold fusion -and this would be more like cold fission/fusion (the nickel nucleus splits and absorbs protons from the hydrogen), so its even more crazily unlikely.

They claim there is radiation, but it's contained by the lead lining of the box.

Orbo to me. Or that oil from algae scam

No idea what Orbo is. Algae into oil - that has 2 known pathways. One uses the heat and pressure of the earth over many, many years and makes rock oil. The other has plant oil. The only "scam" part is the 15,000 gallons per acre as that requires conquering technical feats that are far to expensive to conquer with what is not only known but also projected.

paper has been rejected by peer-reviewed journals

Because what is being claimed is Magic, based on what is known.

Doesn't mean they didn't figure out some weirdness that happens at the nanoscale - but even if weirdness does happen that is a long way to replicable and scalable. They are claiming BOTH for October of 2011 as I remember.

I'm willing to wait to hang 'em high once they are like Stirling Cycle makers, EEStor or even BlackLight Power when they can't make a ship date.

Orbo is Steorn's device. That company that raised millions by claiming to have invented a perpetual motion machine.

The algae into oil scam is a scam not because it's impossible, but because, like these cold fusion guys, they claim that they have working plants and they are building more. (Supposedly, cold fusion plants will be built before the end of this year.) They get investors' money by promising them the plants will be up and selling oil in a few months, but no plants are built.

My understanding is that this magic Nickel+water == energy deal was being funded by Rossi and wasn't requesting outside money.

(and as for "magnet motors" my personal fav. for "What The Fun is going on" is terrawatt. They are claiming extra energy. The have UL certified graphs - but I have no idea what that really means)

My understanding is that this magic Nickel+water == energy deal was being funded by Rossi and wasn't requesting outside money.

If that's true, he's a wealthy man indeed. This page claims his company is "capitalized at €200 million."

He says they're going to build cold fusion plants by the end of the year. Not plant, plants. That is not something the average scientist can pay for out of pocket.

Scam or not, at least he has a 'real soon' "put up or shut up" date.

I can get behind that.

Because I've watched the dates come and go on Stirlings, the EESTOR, batteries the size of a briefcase that would power a car for 1000 miles on magic hydrinos, and I never got to see the safe, clean to cheap to meter Fission Power.

And I'm still waiting for the flying cars.

With what I know about chemistry, this seems to be breaking laws of fysics. There just is not the energy potential they need for this output in those atoms.

I say fraud. But a very well crafted fraud. These guys are probably very talnted engineers, able to come up with something like this. I am impressed.

Well... there certainly is that amount of potential energy in the atoms. And like they pointed out, they appear to have ruled out a chemical reaction which would imply the only thing that could explain the origin of the energy would be would be a nuclear reaction.

But, it's likely an elaborate fraud. Still, the physicists they've 'duped' aren't a couple of hippies - which makes it all the more interesting...

Ruled out a chemical reaction...yet it requires the use of "secret catalysts."

True... although not all catalysts are chemical in nature:

Muon-catalyzed Fusion

Yes. When I first read it it apeared to me as a chemicl reaction. Those energies simply are not there. Then I read that they mean the technology to upgrade nickel to copper. But hey, that makes even less sense: Iron and nickel are the two most stable atoms. They are at the bottom of the atomic energy valley. Does not matter if you reduce or shrink the atom, the operation still requieres an energy imput.

Santa may exist, but this don't work.

Haha, I'm not saying it doesn't appear an outlandish claim, just that it's interesting that two high profile scientists have so far been unable to outright refute it.

Either way it's going to turn out to have an interesting conclusion!

You're probably right, but if Iron and Nickel are at the bottom of the atomic energy valley then Hydrogen isn't. Presumably there is therefore potential energy to be tapped there, and if it provides more than the difference between Nickel and Copper, then it is not impossilbe.

WTI climbs over 110 dollars a barrel

Crude oil for May delivery rose $1.55, or 1.4 percent, to $110.38 a barrel at 1:42 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract reached $110.44 a barrel, the highest intraday price since Sept. 22, 2008.

“There’s a tremendous upward momentum and I see nothing in the near-term to stop the rally,” said Sarah Emerson, managing director of Energy Security Analysis Inc. in Wakefield, Massachusetts.


I get the chills. Only months now to the big chrash. What say you?

Only months now to the big chrash. What say you?

Not sure about that poster, but personally I'm trying real hard to see how it doesn't happen by this July 4th. But that's just a little less than 3 months hence - it that being too cynical?

Yes, WTI is now over $110/bbl. The next milepost is $120/bbl. They've been clicking by at a rapid rate in recent weeks. There is a certain amount of upward momentum involved.

Brent is already well over $122/bbl.

Seems to have broken through into the MSM at last:

Oil prices surge to fresh highs on supply concerns

Oil prices surged to a two-and-a-half-year high on concerns about supply...

...While there has been concern about a shortfall in supplies from the oil producing nations, the demand for oil has been increasing...

...The IMF also warned that the markets are likely to face further scarcity in oil supplies.

"The increase in the trend component of oil prices suggest that the global oil market has entered a period of increased scarcity," the IMF said.

WTI dropped below 110 US$ again, but somebody bought a tanker of Brent for 125 this morning. Some ME light sweet even traded above 130.

If you check http://www.oil-price.net/ you see on the 5-year trend that the current price hike is following the same pattern as the one leading up to August 2008. And in that pattern, we are now 5 months from the price peak.

I have suspected this but the latest price increase (Brent from 117 to 124) added the last bit of statistical data to confirm it is indeed folowing the same pattern. I will follow this for a month now, and if it still follow the pattern, then I will take it as granted the pattern will repeat.

From the article:

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will cut crude-oil loadings for a ninth week as Libyan exports drop, according to tanker-tracker Oil Movements. The group will ship 22.98 million barrels a day in the four weeks to April 23, down from 23.36 million barrels in the period ended March 26, the Halifax, England-based consultant said in a report today.

Which is exactly what I predicted back on March 30:

By mid-April, Persian Gulf exports may be back to the same level where they were before the well advertised 'surge'. However oil exports out of western Africa, particularly Nigeria, have managed to increase maybe 300,000 bpd so that OPEC exports in total may be running in mid-April roughly at about 1 million bpd less than the rate they averaged in February.

[OPEC shipments in February were 24 mbpd]


However going forward there is going to be some slight improvement. Apparently OPEC's response to the loss of Libyan oil exports has been, to say the least, most embarrassing. Some pronouncements over the weekend have actually resulted in more exports from Kuwait and the UAE, although it's unclear if KSA will increase any further than the 300,000 bpd figure I have been using (as compared to the March 15 export level). Total Persian Gulf exports may contribute to a 200,000 bpd increase in OPEC exports this week and next, that may be reflected in next week's 'Oil Movements' report (as a 100,000 bpd increase, since it includes a four week period). After being almost absent from the PG market for six weeks, US oil buyers returned - of course at the highest prices of the year.

However any disruptions caused by upcoming Nigerian elections could easily counter any minor increase seen in the Persian Gulf later in April and early May.

Any ideas why utilization rates are not moving upwards?

From http://www.ods-petrodata.com/odsp/weekly_rig_count.php


WP - The short answer: can't drill without a permit from the feds. And the feds have been very slow to issue permits since the BP blowout. And that also true for shallow water shelf wells.

It seems though that the weakness is not solely attributable to the US though. Drilling in Asia is also down significantly....



Surprise! Surprise!
Iraq just increased their proven reserves by 30 billion barrels to 175 billion barrels. Their previous proven reserve figure was 143 billion barrels, they claim, were "audited." I'm not sure who "audited" their reserves for accuracy. If anyone can tell me who verified Iraq's reserves please tell me.

Perhaps the Iraqis are onto something.
Let's increase the entire world's proven reserves of crude oil by 80 %. I'm sure it will work.
Perhaps we can finally meet demand now and we will be able to beat The Speculators too.

Well that method didn't work last time, so maybe this time will be different. ;-)

I'm not sure who "audited" their reserves for accuracy.

The group that knew of weapons of mass D-struct-shun?

Look for Iran to increase their proven reserves to around 200 billion barrels in order to stay ahead of Iraq. Then that will get them perilously close to Saudi's 260 billion barrels of "proven" reserves. So look to them to increase their proven reserves to around 300 billion barrels. Can't let those Persian get that close you know.

Ron P.


This EIA World Shale Gas report is pretty amazing though it does still exclude Russia, the Persian Gulf and Indonesia.
This almost certainly postpones Peak Gas.


Even Europe the biggest importer finds 624 Tcf of gas(a 20 year supply) mainly in France and Poland. China gets a whopping 1254 Tcf mainly in Sinkiang. Mexico gets 681 Tcf
and Canada 388 Tcf. The Republic of South Africa gets 485 Tcf and energy poor Argentina gets a healthy 774 Tcf.

The whole thing is 6600 Tcf of just shale gas. The world currently
uses 104 Tcf of natural gas so this is a 60 year supply assuming 100% recoverability factor and current consumption.
Since 1 Tcf is 178 mboe this is equal to 1.17 trillion barrels of oil equivalent.
Then it's a matter of shifting over to CNG cars.

Amazing stuff.

There are several issues with this.

First is how easy it is to recover, shale gas is not easy. Second is the price required.
Third is the recovery factor, which will be lower.
Fourth is even how fast we can get significant production, and again, this is related to the price required to make it economical.

And finally, it will take time to get enough CNG vehicles. Although it's a lot faster than trying to opt for electric cars(and in most countries, electricity comes at least partly from fossil fuels).

It's certainly a good thing, but considering the history of overhyping of the EIA and your almost blind optimism, avoiding several crucial issues, I call for restraint and caution. But cautious optimism, however, is another matter.

Why is this 'good' news?
It turns out there is a lot of shale gas to provide energy to China, Europe, Argentina, South Africa and Mexico, therefore
on the gas side it doesn't look like there needs to be an imminent gas scramble. It was only five years ago when the US was expected to start importing natural gas from Russia.

As for how easy, US dry natural gas production has risen 22% since 2006.


As far as economics, US natural gas residential prices have fallen to 2003 levels even as production has risen.


Mostly, this growth won’t take place in the U.S. Pike anticipates that India will lead the world in sales of CNG-burning vehicles by 2014, with Iran and Pakistan ranking second and third, respectively. By 2016, India’s NGV sales are expected to hit 612,389 units. Additionally, the study claims that sales of NGVs in the U.S. market will soar by a 25.4 percent compound annual growth rate, resulting in 32,619 CNG-fueled vehicle sales in 2016. Though paltry in comparison to India’s anticipated overall NGV sales, the U.S. market is projected to display the strongest five-year growth of any monitored nation, so that’s something.


Of course, new supplies of natural gas allow the continued production of nitrogen fertilizer.

All this objectively good news only causes doomers to scoff.

As always the question seems to be "how fast can we burn it?" NOT// "Should we burn it?"

And again as always the completely ineffectual green movement has no say in the matter.


Third bald eagle egg hatches. Huffpost does story on Decorah Eagle Cam:


Tapis is very close to being the first crude oil blend to break through the $130 dollar barrier.


Please excuse the poor quality of the picture, I am working on doing better.

Tapis is very close to being the first crude oil blend to break through the $130 dollar barrier.

On that list of oil prices is WTI at 109.77, but it's actually as of right now on this link
http://www.oil-price.net/ at 111.27

A guest on CNBC's the Kudlow Report today was saying there's nothing to slow or stop the rise in oil price, predicting it would go up to 175. Even Kudlow admitted if it does that the economy will quickly go back into recession.

Brent is up over $125 and fast approaching $126 as of 10:45 BST

Tapis passed $130.

Edit: Brent just passed $126, Tapis nearly $132 - 12:00 BST

Commodities up all around ('cept NG). Silver pops $40.

Crude Oil 111.72 + 1.29%
Natural Gas 4.05 - 0.25%
Gasoline 3.22 + 1.04%
Heating Oil 3.25 + 1.47%
Gold 1472.43 + 0.95%
Silver 40.30 + 1.69%
Copper 4.48 + 1.63%

...likely a result of the "looming Govt. shutdown".

Has this been posted here before? It's disaster-movie gold:

PhD 1: No no no, Doctor. Billions of dollars have been spent to make these nuclear plants safe - failsafe. The odds against anything going wrong are astronomical... Doctor

PhD 2: I appreciate that, Doctor. But let me ask you this: in all your failsafe techniques, is there any provision against an attack by...

... didn't want to spoil it. Click the link to find out:


What's the name of this movie? I wanna download. (Yeah I do that, digital information is a renewble resource and we should take advantage of that).

The Swarm (from Wiki):

The director was Irwin Allen, and the cast included Michael Caine, Katharine Ross, Richard Widmark, Richard Chamberlain, Olivia de Havilland, Ben Johnson, Lee Grant, Patty Duke, Slim Pickens, Bradford Dillman, Fred MacMurray (in his final film appearance), and Henry Fonda.

Fonda & Caine! Quite a cast for a B-movie.


I watched the movie now. Just as good as an episode of The Simpsons. So many high moment. The one quoted in the youtube clip is priceless. And I just love the fact that they have a flower festival just narby where the bee strikes first. Classical.

On top of that we learn that the Maccondo oil leak thing was actually not an accident, but a cover up for mutated bees and military incompetense.

Just watch the movie, you won't regret it, I promise.

Yes. The world MIGHT be ready for the terror of 'BeeZilla' at long last!