Drumbeat: April 22, 2011

Saudi Cut in Oil Production Stirs Speculation

With political turmoil spreading across North Africa and the Middle East and oil and gasoline prices rising, all eyes in the energy world are on Saudi Arabia. So when the Saudis announced last weekend that they had cut oil production by 800,000 barrels a day only weeks after they said they would meet any supply gap left by the civil war in Libya, oil analysts offered an array of interpretations.

Some agreed with the Saudis’ publicly expressed view that the world was actually amply supplied with oil and that speculators and traders were to blame for the rising prices. President Obama even weighed in and endorsed that view.

But others wondered whether the Saudis were able to increase their production at all. Still others suggested that the Saudis were beginning to side with more hawkish members of OPEC, including Iran, who want to curtail production to bolster prices.

Saudi Shi'ite protesters demand human rights reform

(Reuters) - Some 200 Shi'ites protested in Saudi Arabia's oil-producing east Friday, calling for human rights reform and denouncing the demolition of Shi'ite mosques in nearby Bahrain, two activists told Reuters.

The gathering in the town of Awwamiya defied a call by leading Shi'ite clerics a day earlier for an end to two months of protests in the conservative kingdom's Eastern Province, in an apparent bow to government pressure.

Syrian human rights group: 49 protesters killed in the bloodiest day of the uprising

BEIRUT - A prominent Syrian human rights group says at least 49 people have been killed during pro-democracy protests — making Friday the deadliest day of the uprising.

Syrian security forces fired live bullets and tear gas Friday on rallies across the country.

TNK-BP expelled from Russian gas association

TNK-BP Management on Friday was expelled from the Russian Gas Producers Association but will not seek to restore its membership, a company spokesman said.

Facing Backlog, US Oil And Gas Producers Building Service Sides

HOUSTON -(Dow Jones)- The North American shale boom has led to months-long waiting lines for scarce oilfield equipment like drilling rigs and pumping trucks. As a result, companies like Chesapeake Energy Corp. are taking matters into their own hands.

PG&E says it can't satisfy order for documentation

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. told California regulators Thursday that it will never find documents for some of its older gas pipelines, and that if the state doesn't accept "assumptions" about some pipes, the company will have to spend five years shutting them down and testing them with high-pressure water.

Coast Guard: Transocean's poor safety culture contributed to Deepwater Horizon disaster

NEW ORLEANS - A Coast Guard probe of the Deepwater Horizon explosion has concluded that rig owner Transocean had serious flaws in its safety management system and a poor safety culture that contributed to the disaster.

Friday's report also found that lax oversight by the rig's flag state, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, was ineffective in preventing the disaster.

More Questions Than Answers on Dispersants a Year After Gulf Spill

One word could describe U.S. EPA's oversight of BP PLC's decision to pour 1.84 million gallons of oil-dispersing chemicals into the Gulf of Mexico during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: uncertain.

Debate on Protecting Oil Rig Workers Takes a New Turn -- but Likely to Last a Long Time

One year after the rig blast that spewed nearly 5 million barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico, offshore drilling regulators are moving forward with risk-management standards that had languished for more than 15 years before the disaster, and the oil industry is launching a deepwater safety center.

But even as the Obama administration prepares to release a second worker safety rule this summer, some experts warn that without regulatory vigilance, the new strategies could hand oil companies too much power to police their own day-to-day operations. That dialogue -- among academics, advocates, business and labor -- over how to limit the human errors that can cause fatal on- and offshore oil production accidents is just beginning to play out on the Gulf gusher's first anniversary.

Opportunities & Peril in the Gold-Food-Oil-QE Connection

There is legitimate debate over when “peak oil” production will occur (or whether it has already), but there can be no dispute that actual production has been relatively flat – about 84 Million bbl/day for the last few years, notwithstanding new discoveries (e.g. off the coast of Brazil) and new technology for unlocking oil from shale (as e.g. in South Texas). Production from The relatively “Easy” Elephant Fields (e.g. Ghawar in Saudi Arabia and Canterell off shore Mexico) and Reserves are diminishing significantly.

But the World’s Population is increasing by some 80 Million/Yr. with Much of that increase coming from the BRICs whose increasing affluence is increasing demand and, therefore, the Price of Food. But in the past few months, The Primary Factor in the dramatic Food and Energy Price Spikes we have seen is neither Oil Price Spikes nor increasing demand (though they have been and will be Major Causes over the long haul).

Southern Co. To Restart Georgia Reactor After Replacing Parts

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Southern Co. said Friday that equipment failure didn't cause the emergency shutdown of a Georgia nuclear-power reactor and that the plant will be restarted after parts are replaced as a precaution.

Georgia nuclear reactor shuts down; investigation underway

Atlanta (CNN) -- A nuclear reactor at Georgia's Vogtle Electric Generating Plant has been taken off line indefinitely until investigators determine the cause of an automatic shutdown earlier this week, according to a statement released Friday by Southern Company, which supplies power to much of the state.

A plan to re-start the reactor, which has been in operation since 1987, will be implemented once the investigation has been completed.

Fuel supply interrupted

DUBAI: Despite inside reports that Emirates General Petroleum Corporation (Emarat) had restored fuel normal supply after days of emptiness, motorists were not getting it by on Thursday evening and the problem was catching up to some other pump stations of different labels.

“I had never had this experienced in more than five years I have lived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE),” said Salim K., an expatriate who said he was lucky to have his car fuelled on the fourth station of EPPCO after trying different fuel pump stations.

Bids sought for Saudi-Kuwait oil project

ALKHOBAR: A Saudi-Kuwaiti oil joint venture has asked construction firms to bid for offshore and onshore work at Hout, one of the oil fields shared by the two OPEC members, industry sources said.

Gazprom Enters Bangladeshi Gas Sector

Gazprom will drill five wells at different existing gas fields in Bangladesh in October and will soon help train Petrobangla employees, said a Bangladeshi official this week.

The Big Grab series: Alberta's oil sands play dirty

As ordinary Canadians dig deep to ease their carbon footprint, Alberta's oil-sands pollution wipes out their sacrifice.

Fossil fuel firms use 'biased' study in massive gas lobbying push

Senior executives in the fossil fuel industry have launched an all-out assault on renewable energy, lobbying governments and business groups to reject wind and solar power in favour of gas, in a move that could choke the fledgling green energy industry.

Pennsylvania: the 'ground zero' of the US shale gas drilling boom

Sitting atop a vast deposit of natural gas, Pennsylvania knows how lucrative – and dangerous – this rapidly expanding industry is. But how can it prevent large-scale environmental damage?

Natural gas drilling is at a crucial turning point

The industry must develop regulations that scale up drilling safely and learn from the mistakes made in the United States.

Rex Tillerson, the Flying Wallenda

A year after the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Rex Tillerson is aggravated. What is upsetting the CEO of ExxonMobil, the biggest oil supermajor? His company is being mentioned in the same breath as BP and its lesser drillers, men who required 87 days to cap the runaway Macondo oil well, while Tillerson's own team knew that the British company was frittering away precious time with faulty ideas for ending the crisis,Tillerson tells the Financial Times. Meanwhile, the whole industry's reputation was going down the drain. Oh the injustice. Oh the calumny.

Small Oil Cos Survive GOM's Deep Waters

When the staggering costs of BP's deep-water Gulf of Mexico oil spill became clear, investors feared that small, independent oil and natural-gas producers would have to leave the area.

These companies, relatively small by energy-industry standards, didn't have pockets as deep as those of the big oil companies--a necessity in the event of another spill.

Media moves too fast to do justice to stories that matter

From April into the North American midsummer last year, the world watched BP's oil spewing from the sea floor into the Gulf of Mexico with outrage and guilt that came to feel like a chronic stomach ache.

Then, on July 15, it stopped. And within a couple of weeks the bad feelings for a lot of us stopped, too. There were reports that the surface oil was quickly disappearing. There was a government study that hopeful journalists misinterpreted to mean that most of the oil was gone.

But the oil was not gone, and it still is not; tar balls are washing around the gulf, marshes are dying. Scientists say it is still too early to know the full extent of the environmental damage.

Oil spills underreported in Gulf of Mexico

There is only one official source of data on pollution caused by offshore drilling in US waters: the National Response Center, an online reporting system for oil and chemical spills managed by the US Coast Guard. But watchdog groups say that the system's reliance on self-reporting means its data are fundamentally flawed.

The feds' convenient oil market crackdown

There goes Washington again, looking for fraud in all the wrong places.

Noam Chomsky: Is the world too big to fail?

Despite all the changes since, there is every reason to suppose that today's policy-makers basically adhere to the judgment of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s influential advisor A.A. Berle that control of the incomparable energy reserves of the Middle East would yield "substantial control of the world." And correspondingly, that loss of control would threaten the project of global dominance that was clearly articulated during World War II, and that has been sustained in the face of major changes in world order since that day.

Rising oil prices fuel other fears

LIKE thousands of other families around Australia, the Noonans are heading off on their annual beach holiday during the Easter break.

This year, however, things will be different for banking executive Simon, wife Kate, and children Sam, 7, Poppy, 4, and Lulu, 2.

As petrol prices surge towards $1.50 a litre in some parts of Australia, they will be catching a budget flight from Melbourne to Queensland instead of embarking on the long drive north.

Rising gas prices, parts shortage fuel rush for smaller cars

MILWAUKEE The wild and sometimes strange ride the U.S. auto industry has taken in recent years is heading toward another hairpin turn.

Where the number of vehicles once far outnumbered buyers, the opposite may occur later this summer as the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan creates parts shortages that affect production of some models. Meanwhile, rising fuel prices are driving up demand for smaller, fuel efficient vehicles.

"The pendulum has been all over the map during the last couple years for the industry," said Jeff Schuster, executive director of automotive forecasting for market research firm J.D. Power and Associates. "It's not swinging - it's come loose."

Nissan Leaf: 2011 World Car of The Year

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The all-electric Nissan Leaf was named the 2011 World Car of The Year at the New York Auto Show on Thursday.

Investment needed for innovative electric cars

AUSTRALIA is in danger of being left behind by the rest of the world in the race to find an alternative to petrol-powered cars.

That's the view of the Greens deputy leader, Christine Milne, who is calling on the government to do more to support electric vehicles.

Obama science adviser warns China could surpass U.S.

PASADENA - President Obama's top science adviser warned a gathering at Caltech that tighter budgets for scientific research could give China an edge in developing emerging technologies.

In a wide-ranging speech at Caltech on Tuesday night, John Holdren, who heads the White House Office of Science and Technology, also talked about the hydra-headed challenge of energy and climate change.

Chris Martenson on budget, corruption, economy, investing, energy, Japan nuclear crisis

Chris Martenson joins David Pakman live in studio for a discussion about the budget, economic situation, Wall Street, corruption, energy, the Japanese nuclear crisis, and more.

The Sustainable Development Hoax

Oil may become depleted -- at least low-cost oil -- but its essential function is to produce energy. And there we have a variety of ways to create energy for many millennia or even longer -- based on nuclear fission.

Writer Tells of Global Warming Dangers

“Climate change is the biggest problem humans have ever dealt with,” Bill McKibben, writer and environmentalist, said to a crowded Call Auditorium as a part of the 2011 Jill and Ken Iscol Distinguished Environmental Lecture on Thursday.

McKibben, who has been called the “world’s best green journalist” by Time Magazine, discussed 350.org, his worldwide campaign against climate change, and the dangers of global warming.

Wisdom from clear thinkers on the way ahead (Dmitry Orlov and Catherine Austin Fitts)

Considered out of touch just a few years ago, these two clear thinkers' predictions have proven to be on the money. They offer an astute picture of the near future and practical advice on landing on our feet.

Hubbert's Peak, The Coal Question and Climate Change

Lecture by Prof. David Rutledge of Caltech titled "Hubbert's Peak, The Coal Question and Climate Change" delivered at The University of Adelaide on 18 April 2011.

John Michael Greer - Alternatives to Nihilism, Part Two: Lead Us Away From Here

It’s easy enough to laugh, but there’s much to be learned from the beliefs that are taken for granted by those who insist they take nothing for granted. The subject of today’s post is one of those, one that’s deeply entangled with the cult of nihilism I dissected in last week’s essay. It’s a credo that’s embraced with equal enthusiasm straight across the political spectrum from left to right, and from the middle of the road out as far toward the fringes as you care to look. There are few better examples of groupthink in contemporary American life, and yet nearly all the people who accept the notions I have in mind are convinced that they’re rebelling against conformity by conforming to a belief system shared by nearly everybody else in the country.

The credo in question? It’s the belief that all the decisions that really matter in the United States today are made by a small elite, insulated from the democratic process, who are pursuing policies that would be rejected by the American people if the latter had the chance to make up their own minds.

Don’t Get Fooled Again: Writing Our Own Economic Future

Still, though my club knew things needed to change, it was hard to imagine a large-scale vision of something different.

But it was easy to imagine how we could begin to change things in our own neighborhood: “What if we had a garden here at the church?” asked the pastor. “It would be something else for people to do, besides watch TV and shop. I’d need help, but we could do it. We could involve the teenagers at the community center and share all the food.” Others chimed in: “Let’s use Freecycle to find old things instead of buying new ones.” “Let’s set up a website to list recipe ideas and grocery saving tips and things we can share.”

What’s your vision for the new economy? What are you doing to turn it into a reality? There’s so much to do: you can help organize a Common Security Club for your community; get involved in a Transition Initiative; build local resilience alongside your neighbors; take steps to increase your independence from Wall Street’s phantom wealth traps by buying and investing locally.

Iran vs. Iraq: Why Tehran is Nervous about Iraqi Oil

Iran may have had a political boost from the Arab Spring in North Africa and the Middle East — with some new regimes apparently more sympathetic toward Tehran while others brace themselves against the Iranian regime's influence among opposition movements in the region. But there is no attendant economic windfall to all the change. Indeed, the Islamic Republic, the second largest oil producer in OPEC, has come to be very concerned about petroleum.

Iranian oil ministry officials are worried that Tehran's clout will actually weaken in OPEC, which as a group decides on each member's maximum amount of oil output. Current gulf rival Saudi Arabia is the heaviest hitter in the cartel; meanwhile, old rival Iraq has started to ramp up oil production. "When you talk to people internally, there is fear," says a veteran Tehran-based analyst who advises the government. "Now that Iraq has announced its expanded reserves, there is serious concern that our standing in OPEC has been damaged." That comes on news that Iran last year either lost or suffered reductions in contracts with many longtime business partners and traditional purchasers of its oil.

Oil rises as dollar weakens

NEW YORK – Oil rose on Thursday, as the dollar weakened and gas pump prices inched higher.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude added 84 cents to settle at $112.29 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude rose 14 cents to settle at $123.99 per barrel.

A Roman scholar puts oil prices in perspective

As the world's population approaches 7 billion, supply is not keeping pace with demand for oil and its derivative products. Most of the biggest fields have already peaked and the rate of decline in oil production is accelerating. Experts also identified a chronic under-investment by oil-producing countries. Which way oil prices? High and up.

The flaw is that this views the world as a market, oil as a commodity, and the future as predictable. A sounder piece of advice comes from the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder, who stated that the only certainty is that nothing is certain.

The oil situation could be worse than we thought…

The Financial Times recently published an astonishing story that just isn’t getting enough attention. I like to think of the FT as the newspaper The Wall Street Journal would like to be if it wasn’t trying so hard to impress everyone with fancy Weekend sections and glossy magazine forays.

If you want to look distinguished, you might read the WSJ in public. But if you want to be informed, you’ll also read the FT in private.

The story? The Saudis, as you may have hard, are increasing their social spending programs in an obvious attempt to deflate any “rebellious” ideas from their population.

China energy agency sees 8 pct oil demand growth in 2011

(Reuters) - The growth China's implied demand for refined oil products will slow to 8 percent this year, with total consumption of about 265 million tonnes, the National Energy Agency said in a statement on Friday.

Thermal Coal’s 30% Gain to Outpace Oil, Gas on Japan Quake

Thermal coal may outpace oil and gas this year, rising more than 30 percent to a record, as demand from China and India accelerates and Japan boosts imports to make up for nuclear power lost after the March earthquake.

Emirates imposes fuel surcharges of up to Dh1,040

DUBAI // Emirates Airline has imposed a fuel surcharge of up to Dh1,040 for a return business-class ticket to the Americas, blaming the increases on rising oil prices.

A really short blog


Regulator calls meet as Reliance Industries lags gas target

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Reliance Industries is pumping 28 percent less gas than it should from its key block, the upstream regulator said, and will meet the company, which has just partnered with BP on field development, over the shortfall next month.

Major LNG deal sparks environmental fears

A major liquified natural gas (LNG) deal between Australia and China has environmentalists fearing for the future of the Great Artesian Basin.

Australia will supply China with a further 4.3 million tonnes of LNG each year for 20 years.

Chesapeake stems flow from blown Pennsylvania gas well

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Chesapeake Energy has stemmed the flow of leaking drilling fluids from a natural gas well that suffered a blow-out late on Tuesday in Pennsylvania and prompted the company to suspend a controversial gas production technique in the state.

Chesapeake, one of Pennsylvania's biggest shale gas producers, used a mix of plastic, ground-up tires and heavy mud to plug the well -- an operation that echoes BP's "top kill" effort to seal its ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well last year.

PG&E exec. resigns in wake of Calif pipeline blast

SAN FRANCISCO – Pacific Gas & Electric Corp.'s top executive is stepping down following a "challenging year" that included a natural gas pipeline explosion in a San Francisco suburb that killed eight and left 38 homes destroyed, the company announced Thursday.

Iraq has doubled its electricity capacity

Iraq has doubled its electricity capacity over prewar levels, making dramatic headway in a critical benchmark that had plagued U.S. leaders and frustrated Iraqis since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

Shanghai fuel protests unnerve Beijing

The rising cost of diesel has sparked protests at several ports around Shanghai, at a time when Beijing is nervous that inflation and high oil prices could contribute to social unrest in China.

Truck drivers at the Shanghai port of Baoshan protested for a third day on Friday, demanding better pay and lower management fees from logistics companies and port authorities. Truckers have seen their incomes shrink as the cost of diesel rises, and they say shipping agents and authorities are imposing unreasonable fees.

Syria: Assad troops 'fire on Friday prayers protesters'

Syrian troops are reported to have opened fire on protesters as thousands marched after Friday prayers against President Bashar al-Assad's government.

At least three people were injured near Damascus, witnesses said, and reports said security forces opened fire near protesters in Homs and in Hama.

U.S. Sends Predators to Strike Qaddafi Troops Fighting Rebels

The U.S. sent armed Predator drones on missions over Libya and European allies dispatched military advisers in renewed efforts to help rebel fighters oust Muammar Qaddafi’s regime without sending soldiers into combat.

U.S. Senator John McCain, a Vietnam War veteran and former presidential candidate who has supported military intervention in Libya, arrived in the rebel-held city of Benghazi today to meet fighters, whom he called heroes, the Associated Press reported.

Libya says NATO stops oil tanker: JANA

Libya's state news agency JANA said NATO forces stopped on Thursday a Libyan oil tanker, adding the forces are dealing with its crew.

Libyan turmoil has limited impact on China's energy supplies

BEIJING - Unrest in Libya has had limited impact on China's energy supplies as domestic companies have found other sources of oil, an energy official said Friday.

China's CNOOC says four oilfields shut by vessel malfunction

(Reuters) - China's top offshore oil and gas producer, CNOOC Ltd., shut down operations at four oilfields in the Bohai Bay with total production capacity of about 39,000 barrels per day, due to a malfunction at a vessel, the company said on Friday.

Egypt detains ex-energy minister for questioning

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt's public prosecutor on Thursday ordered former energy minister Sameh Fahmy and five other senior energy officials detained for questioning into a natural gas deal with Israel the government is reviewing.

Israel gets 40 percent of its natural gas from Egypt under an arrangement put in place after a 1979 peace deal.

BP pledges $1 billion to restore oil-stained Gulf

WASHINGTON (AFP) – BP has pledged $1 billion to jump-start projects aimed at restoring the US Gulf Coast after last year's massive oil spill, officials said Thursday.

"The agreement in no way affects the ultimate liability of BP or any other entity for natural resource damages or other liabilities, but provides an opportunity to help restoration get started sooner," the US Justice Department said in a statement.

Blame game: BP, Gulf spill partners sue each other

MIAMI — After being hammered for a year over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP is going on the offensive with multibillion-dollar lawsuits seeking to shift at least part of the blame to those who owned the ill-fated rig or designed a failed safety device or supplied cement that didn't hold.

Those companies — Transocean, Cameron International and Halliburton — each filed lawsuits of their own, and it will now be up to the courts to divvy up fault.

BP, Transocean spending more on lobbying

WASHINGTON — A year after an explosion killed 11 workers and triggered the worst oil spill in U.S. waters, two companies at the center of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster intensified their spending heavily to influence federal policymakers, new lobbying reports show.

Oil giant BP spent $2 million on federal lobbying efforts during the first three months of this year, a 25% increase over the same period in 2010.

Companies temporarily extend LNP plant operations

JUNEAU, Alaska - ConocoPhillips and Marathon Oil Corp. have agreed to extend operations at their Kenai liquefied natural gas plant until August to fulfill short-term contracts to Asia.

The companies said Wednesday that this doesn't affect their plans to mothball the plant. Rather, ConocoPhillips' Natalie Lowman said this was a case of the plant having the gas and the short-term market needing it.

Ex-Amaranth Trader Hunter Is Fined $30 Million in Market-Manipulation Case

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a $30 million civil penalty against former Amaranth Advisors LLC energy trader Brian Hunter, who is accused of manipulating the natural-gas futures market in 2006.

The fine “is a sufficient deterrent” to discourage traders from engaging in market manipulation, FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff told reporters today at the agency’s monthly meeting. Hunter has 30 days to pay or appeal, FERC said.

Japan faces lengthy recovery from Fukushima accident

Tokyo (CNN) -- The worst may have passed in the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, but cleaning up when it's finally over is likely to take decades and cost Japan an untold fortune.

A six- to nine-month horizon for winding down the crisis, laid out by plant owner Tokyo Electric Power this week, is just the beginning. Near the end of that timeline, Japan's government says it will decide when -- or whether -- the nearly 80,000 people who were told to flee their homes in the early days of the disaster can return.

Evacuation zone to be widened

Prime Minister Naoto Kan's government on Friday instructed parts of Fukushima Prefecture outside the 20-km no-go zone around the crippled No. 1 nuclear plant to evacuate by the end of May, saying that cumulative radiation levels may pose a health risk to residents.

The announcement came a day after the government declared the 20-km evacuation area a legally binding no-go zone, where unauthorized entry is subject to fines of up to ¥100,000 or possible detention for up to 30 days under a special nuclear emergency law.

Japanese Revisit Nuclear Zone While They Can

OKUMA, Japan — Residents who lived near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant flocked to the area on Thursday ahead of a midnight evacuation deadline imposed by the government.

While they were greeted by the buckling roads and collapsed houses familiar to many Japanese in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that wrought such destruction here on March 11, they faced the added burden that dangerous radiation levels from the Daiichi plant might mean they were saying goodbye to their homes for months or years. Some worried they would never return.

Tepco Fails to Get Assurance on Restarting Second Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Tokyo Electric Power Co., the company at the center of Japan’s nuclear disaster, failed to get an assurance from Fukushima prefecture’s governor that a second plant in the area can be restarted.

Tokyo Electric President Masataka Shimizu met Governor Yuhei Sato in the prefectural office in Fukushima city earlier today to apologize for the accident, said Katsuhiro Kiko, a spokesman at the local government. Shimizu, who was refused meetings with the governor on April 11 and March 22, outlined plans to bring the crisis under control.

Sato told reporters after the meeting that Tepco can’t restart nuclear power plants without safety guarantees, according to Kiko.

Japanese utility likely to survive nuclear crisis

Some would consign the Tokyo utility embroiled in Japan's worst-ever nuclear plant disaster to the corporate graveyard.

Japan to stick with nuclear power - ruling

JAPAN will review its energy policy in light of the Fukushima atomic plant disaster but will stick with nuclear power, the secretary general of the centre-left ruling party said today.

Nuclear dilemma: adequate insurance too expensive

From the U.S. to Japan, it's illegal to drive a car without sufficient insurance, yet governments around the world choose to run over 440 nuclear power plants with hardly any coverage whatsoever.

Japan's Fukushima disaster, which will leave taxpayers there with a massive bill, brings to the fore one of the industry's key weaknesses -- that nuclear power is a viable source for cheap energy only if it goes uninsured.

Chernobyl and Fukushima share wounds of disaster

With the passage of time, Chernobyl has become well-explored territory. Guides take you through the nearest town, Pripyat, and they know exactly where to go — and more importantly — where not to.

Chevrolet unveils 38-mpg eco version of new Malibu

On the heels of the high-mileage version of its Cruze compact, Chevrolet said at the New York auto show here today that it will add a high-mpg version of the Malibu midsize as well. It will be called the Malibu Eco.

Toyota: Output won't return to normal until end of year

Toyota said today it won't be able to return all its models back to regular production until "November or December" in the U.S., Japan and around the world.

The announcement heightens the prospect that Toyota and its Lexus luxury division will run out of cars, or at least the most popular models, over the next few months. The output cuts are due to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan.

Faster than a speeding train, number of Amtrak riders soars in Flint

FLINT, Michigan -- Dennis Jefferson noticed something on his Amtrak trip from Charleston, Miss., to Flint this week: There's a lot less elbow room and a lot more people on the train than there were just six months ago.

Fueled by higher gas prices and what state transportation officials say is greater awareness, the number of Amtrak riders has exploded on the Blue Water route that runs from Port Huron to Chicago and stops daily in Flint.

Heating oil phase-out part of NYC clean-air plan

NEW YORK – The city will phase out the use of polluting heavy oils to heat buildings and will begin building solar power plants on capped landfills, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday in his first update to a 4-year-old environmental plan that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2030.

Under the plan, the phase-out of heavy oils from the city's boilers would start right away and be completed by the 2030 deadline. It would reduce the presence of airborne fine particulate matter, which the city says is killing 3,000 residents each year and forcing 6,000 to seek emergency asthma treatment.

Study Finds Solar Panels Increase Home Values

All those homeowners who have been installing residential solar panels over the last decade may find it was a more practical decision than they thought. The electricity generated may have cost more than that coming from the local power company (half of which, nationwide, comes from burning coal), but if they choose to sell their homes, the price premium they will get for the solar system should let them recoup much of their original capital investment.

Transparent Photovoltaic Cells Turn Windows Into Solar Panels

A new class of transparent photovoltaic cells has been developed that can turn an ordinary windowpane into a solar panel without impeding the passage of visible light, scientists said Tuesday.

The cells could one day transform skyscrapers into giant solar collectors, said Richard Lunt, one of the researchers on the project.

Paraguay dividing over spending Brazilian millions

ASUNCION, Paraguay – President Fernando Lugo is about to realize Paraguay's long-held dream of receiving millions of dollars more from Brazil for energy from their shared hydroelectric dam, money he promised would finance land reform and transform his impoverished, agrarian nation.

But now that the extra $240 million a year is about to arrive, that campaign promise seems as difficult to fulfill as ever. The ex-Roman Catholic bishop appears incapable of keeping the money from being directed elsewhere by the entrenched political party that controls congress and ran Paraguay as its fiefdom for 61 years before his election in 2008.

Earth Day 2011: How to make your impact

Americans are going green this week in honor of Earth Day on Friday, April 22, and it couldn't come at a more appropriate time. This week also happens to be the one-year anniversary of the Gulf Coast oil spill, whose devastating after effects are still being felt.

To help make a positive impact on Mother Earth, here's a roundup of Earth Day-inspired resources, events and celebrations taking place nationwide:

Beyond the Oil Spill, the Tragedy of an Ailing Gulf

There is a huge dead zone off the mouth of the Mississippi, and coastal wetlands have been vanishing rapidly.

For a Few, Focus on Green Products Pays Off

Manufacturers who have long aligned themselves with environmental causes, like Seventh Generation and Method, have rebounded better from the recession than the “green” lines of larger, more traditional manufacturers.

Analysts say the reason is that the niche manufacturers tend to attract serious green customers who want products that are good for the environment even if they cost more. And if these customers find that a botanical ingredient isn’t quite as effective as bleach, they believe it is better for their house and lungs.

FTC to issue new green guidelines, address 'tsunami' of marketing claims

The number of green labels that tout environmental virtues is proliferating, as are complaints about them, such as clothes labeled as "bamboo" that are actually rayon.

Help may be on the way. The Federal Trade Commission is updating its guidelines this year for environmental claims, and the U.S. government now requires, as of January, that all products bearing its Energy Star logo undergo third-party testing to prove they're more efficient than regular items. Previously, it required testing of only some products.

Pesticide exposure in womb linked to low IQ

The Berkeley study found that the most heavily exposed children scored an average of 7 points lower on IQ tests compared with children with the lowest pesticide exposures, lead author Brenda Eskenazi says.

A City Built on Oil Discovers How Precious Its Water Can Be

MIDLAND — The oil business is booming, but there is something more precious in Midland right now: water.

Since the beginning of October, barely one-tenth of an inch of rain has fallen on the city, the oil and gas capital of West Texas. Two of the three reservoirs that Midland and other Permian Basin cities rely on for most of their water are getting close to empty. The third is below 30 percent of capacity.

This month, for the first time, Midland imposed water restrictions, forcing homeowners to water their lawns less, and schools to let their football fields grow scrubby.

If the rain does not start soon, “it’s going to get bad,” said Stuart Purvis, the utilities manager for Midland.

Science and policy can catalyze each other, EPA head says

Technological innovations have the ability to change environmental policies just as much as those policies can affect innovation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said during a visit to MIT on Friday, Apr. 15. In delivering the annual Henry W. Kendall Memorial Lecture, Jackson urged students and faculty at the Institute to look for sustainable solutions to environmental problems.

Recession cut EU CO2 emissions by record 7.2%

Recession drove European Union CO2 emissions down by a record 7.2% in 2009, putting the bloc ahead of its climate goals, a report released this week (20 April) by the European Environment Agency (EEA) says.

Fewer Americans, Europeans View Global Warming as a Threat

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gallup surveys in 111 countries in 2010 find Americans and Europeans feeling substantially less threatened by climate change than they did a few years ago, while more Latin Americans and sub-Saharan Africans see themselves at risk.

Ex-climate chief calls for private sector seat at UN talks

Yvo de Boer, the former UN climate chief, has called for the private sector to participate in international negotiations about the financing of the yearly $100 billion Green Climate Fund. He spoke to EurActiv in an exclusive interview.

Reducing sprawl doesn’t require a heavy hand

There is one policy instrument that raises the cost of suburban development without hurting local landowners: Transferable Development Rights (TDR’s). This instrument has been successfully tried in the U.S. and our governments could improve on their experience. TDR’s allow the sale of development rights from a protected area to areas suitable for densification.

Ozone hole has dried Australia, scientists find

The Antarctic ozone hole is about one-third to blame for Australia's recent series of droughts, scientists say.

Writing in the journal Science, they conclude that the hole has shifted wind and rainfall patterns right across the Southern Hemisphere, even the tropics.

Their climate models suggest the effect has been notably strong over Australia.

Many parts of the country have seen drought in recent years, with cities forced to invest in technologies such as desalination, and farms closing.

Scientists: Soot may be key to rapid Arctic melt

WASHINGTON – An international research team is in the land of snow and ice, in search of soot. Though the Arctic is often pictured as a vast white wasteland, scientists believe a thin layer of soot — mostly invisible — is causing it to absorb more heat. They want to find out if that's the main reason for the recent rapid warming of the Arctic, which could have a long-term impact on the world's climate.

Soot, or black carbon, is produced by auto and truck engines, aircraft emissions, burning forests and the use of wood- or coal-burning stoves.

We must halt the explosion in population to offer decent life for all, says Sir David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough has warned that population growth must be stopped in order to offer a ‘decent life’ for all.

The wildlife broadcaster said people were shying away from accepting that the world’s resources cannot sustain current levels of population growth.

‘There cannot be more people on this Earth than can be fed,’ he writes in the New Statesman.

...He warned of a ‘perfect storm of population growth, climate change and peak oil production’, leading to ‘insecurity in the supply of food, water and energy’.

Vilsack, Klobuchar defend biofuels; explain their vision of future biofuel policy:


How are all our Texans holding up under this uber-drought and accompanying fires?


Here in DeWitt Co we are very dry. Fortunately only one pasture near the house has tall, dry forage; the other pastures had been shredded/rotocycled down so present much lower fire hazard to the house. It is too dry to shred the last pasture as spark from blade hitting a rock could set off a fire. With the high winds it would be difficult to control.

Just said to my husband yesterday that between fire danger and gas well being drilled 600 yards fro the house, we need an evacuation plan in case of emergency.

Thanks for the update. I'm reminded of Atlanta a few years ago, when they were trucking bottled water into the city. I don't think central Texas is near as vulnerable as the Atlanta area, but it looked as though we came very close to at least a partial, temporary evacuation of the city back then(!?!). Not to mention legendary droughts in Russia and Australia recently. I hope you see some rain soon.

Took a while, but we've put together quite a nice Black Swan factory for ourselves here. We'll have one in every driveway pretty soon.

Good idea to have an emergency evacuation plan even without those hazards. Never know when or why you might need it.


I'm starting a blog to try and get some of my friends thinking about resource depletion and environmental issues in general. There's not much on it yet to be honest, but take a look if you want. This particular page shows my version of a proof of the impossibility of indefinite exponential growth of resource consumption on Earth.


re Iran worried about Iraq output and reserves. And, unpredictables (Roman decline)

It is hard to imagine a more shortened fuse than shia run Iraq, a worried Iran, and so much oil located in the unstable north of Iraq. When you look at the unravelling of the ME status quo, is this one of the ones the experts say," man hard to see that coming".

Everyone is/seems worried about KSA, but a few more smaller players could rapidly tip the whole mess over. After all, it only takes one loose lug nut to start the process of wobbling a car off the highway (as we speed to the edge of decline). "I think that rattle was Libya I heard. Hey guys, is that noise coming from back there? Maybe we should pull over and check it out before heading out to Wally World"?

Better build more predator drones. Yeah, that'll work. I'm sure that'll work.

Happy Easter, folks. Easter Sunday should be a good day to blast the hell out of someone. After all, that's Christian oil, right Sarah?


Sarah? Did you forget who was President?

Does it matter who is President? Drones are in the air anyway.

Like many states in the US today, Florida is in the grips of a Tea Party encouraged dismantling of government regulatory mechanisms. Yesterday our legislature decided they wouldn't let the EPA enforce water pollution laws (one newspaper comment here)

It seems to me that we are in the midst of allowing a 10% minority of the nation run a grand experiment in which they try to recreate some (inaccurate) vision they have of how the world worked 60 years ago. We have become so obsessed with "the deficit" that we are not paying any attention to issues of real importance. And most people don't even seem to recognize that the greatest "deficit hawks" aren't really interested in reducing the deficit, they're interested in dismantling pieces of the government they believe are holding back "American business" (whatever that might be).

In fact, if you want to get your issue to the top of the agenda these days, just claim that its beneficial to business and will create jobs. Doesn't matter if its true or not, just claim it anyway.

This imaginary world where we all win because business is allowed to operate unfettered and government is curtailed is just going to add velocity to the collapse.

Once we get rid of the environment then business can flourish. Except, wait a minute, oh, you need to eat and drink safe water to do business. I keep forgetting about the living part of the equation.

So much of Florida's economic "success" over the past four decades has been the result of a huge housing development industry, basically allowed to build where and whenever it pleases. And so with the state's economy still in the toilet after the real estate bubble collapse, what do you suppose our genius legislature is trying to do?

Naturally, they are trying to change regulations (like the water quality one) that will make it easier for the developers to build. Because, we all know that the 40% plus drop in real estate prices, the fact that 1 in 450 houses in the state received a foreclosure note in March '11, that more than 50% of existing home sales are foreclosures or short sales, are not the reasons that new houses aren't being sold.

Florida may become a place of widespread ecological devastation in the years ahead if they do not plan out their development. I find it amazing that people think we can build out of this resource-constrained recession.

They are ruining the place at a rapid pace. Well once the aquifers dry up, where will Fl get additional high quality water?


Just a big mess and no realistic notion of water resources. Terrible tragedy.

Yes, I have been living in the state on and off for 40+ years. What incredible and ecologically devastating changes have occurred during that time. First time I visited the west coast of the state - near where the center of the real estate bubble collapse began - you could get up in the morning, walk on the beach and collect sand dollars that had washed up on shore overnight. These days its illegal to take live sand dollars from the beach, none wash up any more, and any you find in the tourist shop are shipped in from the Philippines.

And don't get me started about the water. We've been on water rationing for years because the aquifer is strained, but then they go ahead and approve a new "mineral spring" water bottling plant that plans to pull water from the aquifer (for free, of course) because.... it'll create jobs.

"Well once the aquifers dry up, where will Fl get additional high quality water?"

Seawater RO units powered by coal would be my guess. Although if you put the powerplant on the beach you can use the waste heat to run a distillation plant for less than it costs to run the RO pump. But beaches are such prime development land that it would be hard to site a plant there.

Of course, if you build inland and burn enough coal the beach may come to you.

wait a minute, oh, you need to eat and drink safe water to do business.

Not if you're in the health care or pharma industry you don't!!!

a Tea Party encouraged dismantling of government regulatory mechanisms

Ya sure its not Corporations?

Corporations owning our legislators? Naw, that couldn't happen.

Someone brought a Koch Machine to the Tea Party, who knows what they're drinking these days?

Kochs probably drink purified water or fancy spring water. I doubt they drink the water they are trying to force onto people with these reg roll-backs.

Maybe that is the idea. Reduce US water supplies to that of a poor developing or underdeveloped country.

Why? Well then we all need to buy bottled water. Sounds like free money for the billionaires.

The Kochs are like elites everywhere. They don't eat po'food

Just like their friends in China.



Scary truth there. We bottom feeders are not going to be such from a figurative standpoint any longer.

3rd world water supplies and sweatshops too!

Kochtails, of course ;)


Here in central Florida we are home to a lot of imaginary places. Maybe our governor really thinks we live in Disney World and whatever he wants is what we should have.

Could have had lots of jobs building and operating high speed rail from Orlando to Tampa but apparently that was too real for him. High speed rail is not the best answer but I think it is better than nothing which is the alternative being offered.

I not sure that jobs are really what they are after but massively more money for the super wealthy corportists who really run our country. Of course, anything that dismantles what the "liberals" created to protect people, the environment, etc. is a sure thing with them.

Re: Ozone hole has dried Australia, scientists find

Ozone is a greenhouse gas and it's loss over the Antarctic may also have resulted in cooler temperatures in the region...

Happy Earth Day!!!

E. Swanson

The other day one of the stories covered 'A large ozone hole that is forming over the arctic this year'.

Today there are reports of significant droughts in large swaths of Europe and portions of Southwest, Texas.

Now, today's story "Ozone hole has dried Australia" suggests that the ozone hole can effect climate in the sub-tropics.

I'm wondering if we may be seeing a similar process going on in the northern hemisphere. The atmospheric circulation patterns are different but the arctic has already demonstrated an ability to 'telegraph' effects several thousand miles away.

I watched FUEL on CNBC last night. I didn't like it at all. It was a big promotion of biodiesel. Biodiesel will not save the world. And they repeated that same old lie: "I takes more energy make a gallon of gasoline than you get from a gallon of gasoline."

None of these types of programs seem to be any good. Or is it just me?

Ron P.

No I don`t think it`s just you Ron, I feel the same way.

You know too much about the subject, Ron.
That's the "problem".

It never ceases to amaze me how little information the producers of any of the hour long specials manage to include in these types of programs. One would think that with an hour of time one could really get into some relevant depth; but not. Invariably these programs are extremely superficial. Some of them are useful for introducing people who are totally new to the subject matter, but for anyone who has seriously studied any of these subjects these programs are utterly worthless.

Remember that the primary purpose of any television program is the delivery of eyeballs to the advertisements. Those advertising minutes are the "product" the stations sell. They are the source of ALL the revenue of the station/network. And since they are primarily publicly traded for profit companies, they are required by law to do their utmost to maximize profits. They aren't going to be showing programming that would challenge viewers - this would drive them away. The few who would find such challenges interesting is far to small. If you think about it, this rather bizarre business model explains a lot about what is and isn't available on television.

But Fuel and other documentaries like it (End of Suburbia, Crude Impact, etc.) are full-length films, and they often still come off as dumbed down TV shows.

I'm in a little group that hosts a potluck/video night every few weeks, to a crowd of 30 or so (yes -- "the choir"). It's getting very difficult to find energy- and environment-themed films that aren't shallow, annoying, and poorly edited.

Perhaps it's because of my doomer bias, but they all seem to feel obliged to leave the viewer feeling hopeful at the end.

You've probably already screened What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire, but I link to it just in case you haven't, and for the benefit of others. It's a clear-eyed look at our predicament, purposefully made without a "happy chapter."

Yes, we saw that one shortly after it came out. I did appreciate the serious tone, but it gets a little too touchy-feely for my tastes....

I just watched "Gas Hole." Despite the witty title and some good historical bits, it was mostly disappointingly technotopian.

Of those your group has viewed, is there one or two that you think come closest to getting it right?

End o' Suburbia was good for its time, getting a little outdated now. One of our recent showings was Inside Job -- damning indictment, of course, but have there been any indictments?

The sense I get is often a producer/director has devoted months or years to a film project, and then can't bear to throw out any footage -- 20 minutes of real info stretched into the 90 minute format.

Oh well -- I'd probly do the same :-)

In my other incarnation, I'm a fiction writer, and yes, US fiction / film markets demand mostly happy or at the very least, hopeful endings, what American audiences want to see.

Do you sense that this National Narrative was cemented in with the depression?

Possibly. I've never looked into it and my study of lit is all over the place, but I'm aware of the attitude from my experience in publishing stories and being subject to what U.S. publishers and agents want.

It would be interesting to know why other cultures tolerate more ambiguous endings in stories and film (some exceptions being genres like horror, crime, or dystopic sci-fi, though there can sometimes be different film endings for different markets.)

This attitude might relate at least distantly to the prevailing climate and fossil fuel denial in the US.


A proper French movie needs an unhappy or at the very least ambiguous ending, at least the hero must die, and preferably you need three hankies, example try La Veuve de St. Pierre.

what U.S. publishers and agents want

In my real life incarnation there was a family member who was in the Hollywood business.

The number one demographic that Hollywood aims its work toward is 14 year old boys.
Think "Avatar".
Think "Fast and Furious" [ i.mage.+].
Think "Karate Kid I"

All these movies end with the young boy/man being the "one", the chosen Neo who is recognized by an admiring crowd as their "hero".

The reason for this is pure economics. 14 year old boys spend more on movie tickets and buttered popcorn than any other demographic segment.

I think it goes back farther than the Depression. Think Horatio Alger.

Talking to Europeans, they feel it's a reflection of our youthful naivete as a new nation. They've had to deal the decline of their various empires, and are used to limits in a way we aren't. They see the rise and fall of national fortunes as the natural way of things, while we've seen the rise but not the fall. We think the natural way of things is constant improvement. The American dream: each generation doing better than their parents. I suspect this goes back to pioneer days, if not colonial days.

Good points. I guess that's what gives me my answer when someone asks me 'why do you hate this country?'

Of course I don't hate it, but I'm at least willing to see it as 'complex'.. as good AND bad and many things in between, and that the white knight doesn't always ride in with good news.

As we were heading into Iraq, I argued with someone called wordsmith at the CSM blog who described that Iraq was a 'cesspool', a junked-up swimming pool, and we were the good, decent Cabana-boy, coming in to clean up the sludge and make it nice and fresh again.

Talk about wearing your narrative on your sleeve.

My Narrative is closer to 'The Fantasticks', a sweet fairy tale, but with real shamsters, disasters and foolishness.

El Gallo:
The play is not done; Oh, no, not quite.
For life never ends In the moonlit night.
And despite what pretty poets say, The night is only half the day.
So we would like to fully finish What was foolishly begun;
For the story is not ended, And the play never done;
Until all of us have been burned a bit, And burnished by the sun.

A couple of science fiction writers I know like to say that there's no such thing as a happy ending. They just end the book in the right place, to give the illusion of a happy ending.

US fiction / film markets demand mostly happy or at the very least, hopeful endings

Ding ding.


Which is why the Peak Oil story doesn't sell.

When we Americans walk out of a movie theater, we want to leave with an up beat, feel good emotion.

When we Americans finish watching Fox News, we want to walk away from the experience knowing it's somebody else's "fault". Inconvenient Truths is not what we ordered to be "served" up to us by the market system.

shaman said "the primary purpose of any television program is the delivery of eyeballs to the advertisements"

Obviously you've never worked in television, don't know anything about it.

Explain why you disagree. Don't just post comments telling people they don't know anything.


with regard to understanding television, everyone, starting with avonaltendorf, should read this

Mander was a huckster. No experience in program production.

So What? Is it not possible to WATCH TV and your society and form a clear idea of what is going on with it?

I work in television, and I've read Mander's '4 Arguments'.

His style was annoying, but that above statement reflects a very clear truth about MUCH of television.

Television itself is an addictive activity, and gets a lion's share of its income by advertising other addictions, putting Jenny Craig up against Lipitor, Claritin, Viagra and TV Dinners. Brain Candy.

Disclaimer, I think there are good uses of TV.. but the abuses to our people from this distraction are (to me) some 96%-99% of what's out there in the programming. The producers are desperate.. putting haunted house reality on HISTORY and 'Wild Animals that Bite!' all over Discovery and SyFy. The system is scrambled and can't seem to find footing. I think it's about to go through some great change.. but I prob. won't be watching to see it.

Good thing you "noted" that you should develop some sort of actual counter-argument instead of using a vague appeal to authority.
I guess it is progress that you didn't insult the commenter this time.

Obviously you've never worked in television, don't know anything about it.

Explain how your argument/statement is different than someone saying "Obviously you've never worked in the tobacco industry, don't know anything about it." Perhaps one not need to work in an industry or be an expert in it to detect that an industry is harmful to the public?

On a less serious note, I can't believe someone in 2011 is actually defending television and the faceless sludge pushers behind it.

As a young man, I was deeply involved in a very minor subculture. What it was, is irrelevant. I was always embarassed and annoyed when the media reported on it, because they almost always got the details completely wrong and always made reference to one or two things that the general public recognizes about the subculture. I thought the reporting was bad because the subculture is small and unimportant.

Turns out, the media reports almost everything badly. Journalists are people who study journalism and rarely know much about the actual subject they're writing on. They're as ignornant of law, energy, and science as they are of my erstwhile subculture. Thankfully, the Internet is a godsend to real reporting and actual thinking. You bypass the journalists and go right to the sources yourself.

That's all well and good Jersey but this documentary was not made by the media, it was made by a young man who has been promoting biodiesel for over ten years. This was purely a biodiesel promotional film.

He badmouths gasoline and ethanol. He says for ever unit of energy that goes into making gasoline you get .8 units of energy out. Then he turns to ethanol. He says ethanol is made with the aid of oil, which is of course true. He said that it takes about one unit of energy to make one unit of ethanol energy. He says ethanol is energy neutral. Then he says: That's a little better than gasoline but not when you consider the pollution"

That really made me mad. Even a damn fool knows that if it took more energy to produce gasoline than you get from gasoline, an EROEI of less than 1, then there would be no gasoline produced. There would also be no diesel produced because it cost just about as much to produce diesel as it does gasoline. There would be no liquid fossil fuels produced at all if that were true.

Anyway that convinced me that the man was totally nuts. And then he went on to defend biodiesel against those that claimed it caused hunger. And a poor defense it was. And he did not even mention that Orangutans will soon be extinct because their habitat is being taken over to produce biodiesel.

Ron P.

I watched about 10 minutes of it on YouTube. When he got around to mentioning how he made his biodiesel, I wondered about the fact that he needed to mix methanol with the used cooking oil to produce his product. Methanol is used to separate the glycerin from the mix to enhance the cold weather properties of the grease/biodiesel. That the methanol is produced from some other fossil fuel didn't appear to bother the guy at that point, so I quit watching. Did he get around to discussing the methanol later?

E. Swanson

Methanol (or some alcohol) is one of two necessary ingredients for biodiesel (the other being the vegetable oil). And remember that methanol is often referred to as "wood alcohol".

(Click image for more)

you don't need alcohol for bio diesel. Gave me any cooking oil and I will run your diesel engine on it . http://www.drewnozamiastbenzyny.pl/instalacja-na-olej-roslinny/

. thing is in polish but what you do. You start engine on normal diesel .when you got warm engine you switch to warmed up cooking oil.

Biodiesel is not perfectly green, but if you are going to dismiss it because it uses ethanol in the process perhaps some education of exactly how it is made is in order: http://www.make-biodiesel.org/

Please read my post again. I wrote "methanol". I studied the process for making methanol many years ago and passed on my information to the local state university. They make methanol and run the town bus fleet with it...

E. Swanson

Ethanol was a braino, I still think that is a quite useful link.

E. - a real world application of methanol fuel -you have my complete attention now!

What was your process - is it different to the standard NG steam reforming process? At what scale are they making it, and with what feedstock?
What have been the results for the bus fleet - are they planning to expand to other vehicles?
Is there any information available online?



They did make a half ass attempt to show the negative consequences of biofuel and described the collapse of the biofuel craze after it got a bunch of bad publicity. But then they reverted to the meme that we just need to make sure we use "sustainable" biofuel whatever that means.

Biodiesel will not save the world.

Biodiesel is fine.

The issue becomes trying to get plant oils to substitute for rock oil at the same rate as of today.

Total Energy = Number of people X Energy per person.

If one keeps the population the same and the energy use per person the same plant oils won't work.

Biodiesel is fine.

Not by any stretch of the imagination is Biodiesel fine. Because of the quest for biofuel, in Indonesia, 1.8 million hectares of forest destroyed each year. It is being destroyed in order to grow palm oil trees.

Impacts on the Rainforest and Wildlife in Borneo, Sumatra and Papua New Guinea

Indonesia is facing the highest rate of tropical rain forest loss in the world.

After logging rainforest habitat, palm oil companies often use uncontrolled burning to clear the land. In 1997-98 a devastating fire killed almost 8,000 orangutans in Borneo. Orangutans are predicted to be extinct in the wild in the next 20 years if the palm oil industry, deforestation and burning of peat forest do not change.

Of course if we killed off all the orangutans and all other great apes, except humans of course, there would be much more room for the lone great ape left, humans. And then if you killed off all the other megafauna then we would have so much more room.

We are in competition with all other megafauna, and some fauna that is not so mega, for territory and resources. And we are winning... big time.

Ron P.

Not by any stretch of the imagination is Biodiesel fine.

I'll note how the supporting language was ignored because that conflicted with the axe you had to grind.


I'll have to disagree with you on a technicality here. Biodiesel the product, (and straight vegetable oil used as fuel) is indeed fine. It is a good fuel, can be made from some readily available raw materials (though only in limited quantities) and is a drop in fuel - in that regard it is an ideal biofuel.

Now, we shouldn't let the fact that a corrupt government like Indonesia will denude its rainforests rule out this fuel - we should just refuse to to buy it from them - and so should the EU, who are their primary customers.

Before they were clearing forest for oil palms, they were clearing for the lumber, and to create ordinary farmland - we all know this was going on for decades for biodiesel came on the scene. The attitude of these governments to mining development is the same - they have let companies dump tailings in the river, on condition that the money saved is paid to government cronies.

Biodiesel as on on farm fuel is fine, and can be a good niche fuel from waste oil feedstocks. We should not let the fact that some countries perpetually mismanage their environment prevent well managed implementation of this fuel where appropriate.

Biodiesel as on on farm fuel is fine

And plant oil grown on the farm was the model Rudolf Diesel was using.

And when animals did all the work a huge percentage of agricultural output was devoted to feeding them.

I'd be interested to know what the percentage difference is in acreage used to maintain a farm's output when powered by homegrown bio-Diesel, as opposed to homegrown fodder? A very complicated and certainly variable equation I know, but it would be an interesting comparison.

See http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5796

We used to need to devote 25 - 33% of land to support draft animals. Using canola oil, the article seems to say that we would only need 0.7% (1/150) to provide the fuel.

So tractors are vastly more efficient than horses. And less likely to spook (ie, safer).


We used to need to devote 25 - 33% of land to support draft animals. Using canola oil, the article seems to say that we would only need 0.7% (1/150) to provide the fuel.

True up to a point.

However, if you pasture a stallion and a mare on five acres and wait a year and a half - you'll have a colt.

Like to see you do that with two tractors.

(Need to account for embedded energy in tractor production)

J, I grew up on a farm. As a child my dad had a team of horses and an Allas Chalmers tractor. I am well familiar with how much a tractor can plow in one day. And I am talking about a two row tractor, the kind that was used way after steam tractors time had passed. This statement, from "Engineer Poet" of the Oil Drum is simply not true:

one man on a steam tractor could plow 25 to 40 acres per day.

Baloney! One man on a two row tractor, which was what the average steam tractor was 30 years earlier, pulling a two pan turning plow could plow perhaps 10 acres a day at most. But it is true that two horses could plow less than one quarter of that amount.

But the article talks about steam tractors as if they were common. They were not. I was born in 1938 and I never saw a steam tractor in my life. I never heard my dad, granddad, or anyone else ever speak of a steam tractor. They were rarer than hens teeth in the Southeastern USA in those days. Horses and mules pulled the plow until the gasoline tractor came into common use. Steam tractors were never a factor... ever in that part of the country.

I mention this only to put a light on how modern day historians can get things so very wrong. Steam tractors indeed! I am sure a few of them existed but not enough to rate even an honorable mention in any history book.

Ron P.

Yes, looking back in the family picture albums, it appears that they had a steam-powered threshing machine, but used horses to pull the plows and wagons. There's no sign of any steam tractors.

I think the problem was that the steam tractor was just too cumbersome and ineffecient to be useful for plowing. It was only when the gasoline tractor came along that they had an engine light enough and flexible enough to be useful for plowing.

The threshing machine was at a fixed location so the weight and bulk of its boiler and firebox were not a problem, but my mother used to tell me that the steam engineer had to get up at 3:00 AM to start firing the boiler, so that the threshing machine was ready to go at 6:00 AM when the sun came up and the men could start working

I have good reason to believe this claim of 0.7% of the land can supply biofuels is BS.

An acre is 43,560 ft*2. A typical diesel tractor pulling a disc (maybe 26 or 28ft wide) requires around 1/3 gallon per mile (according to farming people I know). The tractor travels nearly 3 miles in cultivating this one acre. So when pulling the disc (or digger or whatever you want to call the device than turns the soil) the biofuel required is about 150 gallons for 150 acres. Take into account the fuel for planting, spraying anhydous ammonia, spraying the herbicide, airplane fuel for crop dusting (eliminate this if you don't mind lower production), and finally harvesting the crop (assume soybeans). You also have to include the energy of the seed presser and the fuel to get the crop to the press, unless one has a few million $$ or so to buy the press equipment for ones farm (doubtful).

My estimate of cropland required would be closer to 4%, not 0.7%. A friend farms around 150 acres for soybeans in mid Missouri and he uses much more than 77 gallons to produce his crop, more like 250 to 300 gallons when he takes all fuel uses into account.

I have serious doubts about the claim that only 0.7% of the land would be needed to grow biofuels, too. I think it is out by an order of magnitude and a more realistic number would be 7%. One document I read (I don't have a copy) claimed a typical value would be about 10%.

Of course, that is considerably better than the 25% to 33% that draft animals would require for food. That percentage is more credible and based on actual observations.

As someone who merely googled the faqs, I need to defer to actual expertise. mbnewtrain, I won't second guess you.

My city-boy assumption is that farmers in the 1940's hated horses and moved away from them as quickly as they could. Nasty stinky things, messing up barns, spooking and killing/maiming farmers any chance they got, and eating all year round, even if they weren't doing anything. And then they died of something random.

I'll shut up now, my only useful contribution was the link.

"My city-boy assumption is that farmers in the 1940's hated horses and moved away from them as quickly as they could."

Not really. A lot of farmers preferred horses (and mules), and held out as long as they could. But the economics of the day ruled, as always. The companies that made horse-drawn equipment started making tractors and tractor-drawn equipment instead. They would buy the farmers' horses for ridiculous prices to get them into a new tractor. Already farms were consolidating and getting very large. Etc., etc.

Farming with draft animals in the 1st half of the 20th Century was not some medieval throwback - it was a highly evolved technology.

(Yes, I've worked with draft horses :-)

You couldn't just trade in your horses for tractors. There was a substantial investment that needed to be made in new farm implements as well, and not all horse drawn implements could be converted to being tractor pulled. Many horse drawn implements assumed that the farmer was sitting on the implement and could operate levers, etc., as well as managing the team.

So there was actually a period of transition. The first implements bought with the tractor were those that were heavy to pull, e.g plows, or operated better with power take off, e.g. combines, hay balers. Horses continued to be used for pulling hay wagons, mowing hay, cultivating row crops, etc., which were lighter to pull and could be done at slower speeds.

Once the farm implements were converted to tractor pull, old teams tended to be kept as pets or sent to a mink farm.

My city-boy assumption is that farmers in the 1940's hated horses and moved away from them as quickly as they could.

Actually, the farmers loved horses, and even after they were fully mechanized, many kept a few around just for them and the kids to ride. Some still do, if they can afford them. They are very expensive to maintain.

They looked on the new-fangled machines as nasty, stinking things - particularly diesel tractors. However, machines got the job done much, much faster and they didn't hang around the barn eating up the grain stock during the winter when there was nothing for them to do.

"You also have to include the energy of the seed presser and the fuel to get the crop to the press, unless one has a few million $$ or so to buy the press equipment for ones farm"

?! can get a press for 10K US$, i have one.

re: biofuel on a farm: 1) what are you growing 2) what is yield

1) tells you how many gallons/acre you need to run tractor and combine and other
2) tells if you can squeeze enuf oil outta the seed to run the equipment

on a farm i know well:

non GMO Canola: figger 2 gal/bu, 8 gal/acre to run the tractor and combine (no roundup sray run if you use non GMO, overwinter, and no seed costs). if you get 20 bu/acre yield, 40 gal/acre. if you get 50 bu/acre (ha!), you get 100 gal/acre oil. if i were so stupid as to run my diesel generator to run the press to squeeze the oil, add 30% to the oil that you need to run the operation.

GMO soy: 1 gal/bu, 10 gal/acre for the tractor and combine, you figger the yield and the math. its more complicated, soy is harder to squeeze than oil, so go with canola for fuel needs, it squeeze easy.

for extra points try running the fresh oil thru local restaurants fryers, collect the waste and use that for biodiesel. you will loose 10%-30% but you will get paid for the fresh oil, and you will have enuf diesel to run with.

you need to have a source of methanol or ethanol and KOH or NaOH. I havent tried making wood alcohol from wood waste or KOH from lye yet. stay tuned.


I used to have %age in my profile, back when we had public profiles.

And I remember a 10%age number....... .7% does seem low, but such a figure may be right if you are not breaking up the soil. That is an energy intensive job.

Paul, I will have to disagree with you on more than a technicality but on the whole concept of blaming correct governments for the problem. Or blaming anyone else for that matter.

Biodiesel, like crude oil, is fungible. That is all biodiesel goes into one big barrel and every buying nation or company buys from that barrel. Also saying what we and the EU should do is really a joke, with me anyway. We should have fewer babies, we should drive fewer miles, we should not do a lot of things we do. But it is just not in our nature to behave, toward the environment and other species that way. In all the history of mankind we, as a species, have never acted toward the environment and other species in a responsible manner, so why would you expect that we should change now?

Biodiesel as a farm fuel will require more farm land to produce that biodiesel. Where before we got our diesel from deep under ground we will, if we resort to all biodiesel, then get it from farmland instead. Farmland that once produced food for humans and animals. More land will simply have to be cleared to make up the difference. Else a lot of people will just have to eat less food, whichever is more economical for the farmer.

Please understand what I am trying to say Paul. We have simply overpopulated the planet. We are deep, deep into overshoot. Turning farmland or forest into fuel production, whether it be in Indonesia or the USA is just the natural result of the mess we, as a species, have gotten ourselves into. Blaming other governments for the destruction of rain forest and species extinction may make some people feel better but the blame can really be blamed on our evolutionary success as a species.

I said it earlier but it must be repeated here: We are competing with every other species on the planet for territory and resources. We have evolved huge brains that give us a huge advantage over all other species. And we are taking over their territory and resources and killing them off. Victory is ours! Soon we will be the only ones left except for those that live off our waste like rats and mice.

Ron P.

/ronrant......though I agree wholeheartedly.


I don;t disagree that there is a serious overpopulation problem, nor even that saying what govs should or should not do won;t achieve anything. Countries like Indonesia are chronic basket cases and will rape and pillage their environment regardless, as will most others. Some such as Canada and Australia have far more environment, for their low populations, than can be raped and pillaged at once - these places are far from overshoot. Most other countries though, different story.

But I will retain my view that biodiesel/svo is a viable option for self fuelled farming - it is a storable fuel, the byproduct (press cake) is excellent animal feed. I am not of the opinion that it can amount to anything greater than enough fuel for farming. Also, when farmers are growing their own fuel, and thus using some amount of saleable crop as fuel, they will be more likely to adopt zero tillage techniques, and things like pasture cropping.

IF farming had to fuel itself in the future, as it did in the past, we would have a more sustainable system - albeit one that, as you point out, can't feed nearly as many people as it can today. And that is indeed the problem - whether resources are renewable or not, there are just too many people laying claim to them.

"albeit one that, as you point out, can't feed nearly as many people as it can today."


Regenerative Agriculture: grow enough food and combat CO2


Debunking the stubborn myth that only industrial ag can ‘feed the world’

Agreed. The biodiesel we've been using in the generator and tractor is from a local co-op, made from used cooking oil, and most of the methanol is reclaimed.

You gotta problum wid dat?!

No problem at all Ghung. But I would like to know what percentage of the world's transportation and farm equipment can be supplied with used cooking oil?

Don't be bashful, any number between .000001 percent and 100 percent will do.

Ron P.

0.000000029 is about what I figure I control. Beyond that......

Woo! We're number one. :/

It's just you (and your fan club) because you bought the EROI fallacy which was invented by the oil companies.

To believe it you have to have the capacity to believe in perpetual motion machines.

Of course it takes more energy(crude oil gallons) to make a gallon of crude oil products(gasoline)--even considering the 'pop'/drop in energy density, so you ignore the energy in the feedstock completely and only consider the finished energy you invest in it.

Take normal investment of S where you always get 10% ROI.
Suppose you want to withdraw $10 per year sustainably(aka forever).
If S=$100 or more you can withdraw $10 per year forever.

The amount you can withdraw depends on the initial amount of the investment. Same applies to EROI, except you ignore the amount of energy you're living off of and only look at the rate of return.
The amount of energy you're living off is actually quite important in determining how much you can withdraw every year sustainably.

Of course it takes more energy(crude oil gallons) to make a gallon of crude oil products(gasoline)--even considering the 'pop'/drop in energy density, so you ignore the energy in the feedstock completely and only consider the finished energy you invest in it.

Oh my God, you buy into that silly myth also. NO it does not take more energy to produce a gallon of gasoline than you get out of a gallon of gasoline. That is what the film claimed! And I assume that is what you are claiming also. You are starting with a gallon of crude oil. And you consider the energy contained in that gallon of crude as the starting point! You just cannot do that if you are are trying to determine EROEI. You must start with the drill bit, or even before that. When you get that gallon of crude oil, you are in the middle of the process, not the beginning of the process. You must consider all the energy involved in the "upstream" as well as the "downstream".

How much energy does it take to produce a gallon of gasoline, starting with the oil still in the ground. If you determined that it would take more energy to drill then distill the oil then you would never sink the well to pull the oil out.

You cannot start the EROEI process in mid stream, holding a gallon of crude oil. Of course it requires heat to distill that gallon and turn it, or part of it, into gasoline.

I find it extremely frustrating that some people have such a problem with that very simple concept. It is really absurd to claim that gasoline has an EROEI of less than one yet some people continue to do that.

Ron P.

But you don't count the energy in oil just the energy to be added.
Energy is something real not whenever you want to call something different and oil is energy.
If your principle is right than if we add energy to something we can produce more energy than we added and that is called a perpetual motion machine aka a fraud.

It is especially insidious because it doesn't link up to resources
which are being depleted.

EROI from the viewpoint of Hall, etc. is based on the fact that organisms in nature need to consume (much) more energy than they can invest in finding food. It ignores the fact that brainy humans learn ways to get energy from their environment just as farmers can produce a surplus to feed many people who don't all need to go foraging.

The concept of Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI) has been around for decades. I doubt that the energy companies thought about EROEI back in the 1970's when the concept was first discussed in academic circles. Got proof of your claim???

E. Swanson

I'll try to find it again but it was created by some official in the Reagan Department of Energy or from API as I remember to show
that oil was more efficient than ethanol.
The search will take a while because Google is flooded with moronic 'expert' posts on EROI mainly from TOD proving that flooding the Internet with disinformation makes finding real references much more difficult.

Not so hard to find:

2. Hall, C.A.S. Migration and Metabolism in a Temperate Stream Ecosystem. Ecology 1972, 53, 585-604.
3. Hall, C.A.S.; Cleveland, C.J. Petroleum Drilling and Production in the U.S.: Yield Per Effort and Net Energy Analysis. Science 1981, 211, 576-579.
4. Cleveland, C.J.; Costanza, R.; Hall, C.A.S.; Kaufmann, R. Energy and the U.S. Economy: A Biophysical Perspective. Science 1984, 225, 890-897.
5. Hall, C.A.S.; Cleveland, C.J.; Kaufmann, R. Energy and resource quality: the ecology of the economic process. Wiley: New York, 1986.
6. Hall, C.A.S.; Powers, R.; Schoenberg, W. Peak Oil, EROI, Investments and the Economy in an Uncertain Future. In Renewable Energy Systems: Environmental and Energetic Issues. Pimentel, D., Ed.; Elsevier: London, 2008; pp. 113-136.
7. Cleveland, C.J. Energy Return on Investment (EROI). Encyclopedia of the Earth. http://www.eoearth.org/article/Energy_return_on_investment_(EROI), 2008.

The study of EROEI, also known as "net energy analysis", has been around since the 1970's. Howard Odum did some pioneering work, writing several books on the subject, including "Environment, Power and Society" (1978) and also "The Energy Basis of Man and Nature" (1981).

E. Swanson

It's a small world for EROI believers.


As I noted yesterday, the surprising thing is that CNBC (I sometimes think that the first "C" stands for Cornucopian*) ran two programs that seriously talked about resource limits, "Sprawling From Grace" (SFG) on Wednesday and "Fuel" on Thursday.

Of the two, I think that SFG was a lot better, but having said that, it seemed to me to be largely a remake of End of Suburbia (EOS), and in fact Jim Kunstler was prominently featured in both. But SFR was on CNBC, while EOR was not.

Regarding SFG and Fuel, I think that CNBC showed edited versions of both videos. I was also not terribly impressed with Fuel, but there may be more information and nuances in the unedited version.

In any case following are links to SFR (full length) and EOS (somewhat edited):

Sprawling From Grace: Driven to Madness (2008)

The unintended consequences of suburban sprawl inform David M. Edwards' documentary detailing the dangers Americans face should we fail to reevaluate our approach to urban development. The suburban way of life isn't simply at risk; it's in absolute peril. How can a country support such inefficient horizontal growth patterns when the very existence of such patterns threatens to bankrupt the entire nation? By interviewing close to thirty experts on the subject, Edwards discovers that we can no longer continue building our cities as we did in the past. While the suburbs once seemed an essential part of out maturation as a society, it now contributes to pollution, increased health risks, and a decreasing quality of life. But as non-renewable fossil fuels are being slowly depleted, Americans remain trapped behind the wheels of their own cars. With each new subdivision, strip mall, and corporate office block, the promise of a better tomorrow slips further away. So is there a solution to making our society sustainable in a post-fossil-fuel world? By exploring the efforts of state and city governments to invest in such viable alternatives as BRT (Bus Rapid Transit, commuter rail, and light rail, Edwards reveals why innovative thinking regarding land use and transportation is essential to keeping our society functional.

End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion & the Collapse of the American Dream (2004)

Global oil peak and the inevitable decline of fossil fuels are upon us now, Are today's suburbs destined to become the slums of the future? This is a short version of "The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of The American Dream", a documentary about the end of the age of cheap oil.

The complete 78-minute version of The End of Suburbia is available on DVD at www.endofsuburbia.com.

*I suppose we could take bets on what happened to Joe Kernen. Three possibilities occurred to me:

(1) He was abducted by space aliens;
(2) His head exploded after watching previews of these two programs (SFG & Fuel);
(3) He has been on vacation and will be back in full Cornucopian Primal Scream mode on Monday.

I thought we were done with biofuels already. Haven't early mass-production efforts resulted in some extremely unhelpful incentives to convert food and forage crops for fuel?

I'm new to posting, but have been following TOD for a couple of years and have some qualifications. I'm kind of puzzled that we haven't figured out there is only one external input to our otherwise closed system. Why pursue this Rube Goldberg scenario of getting liquid fuels from solar energy when we should be focusing on PV and concentrators? Strictly short-term thinking here.

We need liquid fuels because that's what our transportatino system needs. Liquid fuels have a much better energy density than any electric storage system.

I understand your 'short-term' comment, but betting on some future storage system that will work for transportation is risky.

I'm not pushing bio-fuels - the side effects of taking crop land out of production seems _really_ short term...

Biofuels are also the path of least change. You just slip-stream them in with the fossil fuels. No need to set up a complete new distribution system, train service-people and regulators in new technologies, set up retraining programmes for those with newly obsolete skills, or change government revenue gathering mechanisms.

Yes, sub-optimal. But there it is.

How long can humans maintain renewable energy facilities going forward? Hundreds of years? Thousands of years? "If we just get the energy thing solved, we can move along to other overshoot issues." We have no viable options long-term for sustained high-engery lifestyles, in my opinion. History of this period, if preserved, would be an interesting read 600 years from now. I mean who knows how badly we've degraded our habitat's natural carrying capacity, twill be interesting~!@#

Nah--Biofuels are part of the institutional structure now. Even if they don't make sense. So, you get subsidies (that politicians are now scared to touch) and you even get biofuels being promoted under international environmental agreements like the Convention on Biological Diversity. These things get written into texts, and it is darn near impossible to erase them.

In Sydney

Drivers left to fill up on air after biofuel cut

Ben Cubby
April 20, 2011

THE only service station in Sydney that offered greenhouse-friendly biodiesel has stopped selling it after the fuel failed government air quality tests.
But measurements carried out in January on behalf of the Environment Department showed that fuel samples from the Marrickville bowser contained 34 milligrams of phosphorous per kilogram of fuel, much more than the permitted 10 milligrams.

''[The department] administers the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000 which sets fuel quality standards. However, it is unable to comment on individual suppliers' marketing decisions … This department has no policy promoting nor constricting the use of biofuels.''


CNBC's major and perhaps only contribution to broadcast journalism is the development and refinement of the turd polisher tag team format. This serves to stifle any anti status quo heresy, as the majority shout down any defection. CNBC believes debates are won by whom ever talks the loudest, fastest and most. Unfair and unbalanced should be their moto.

I think Fox News had tag team tear-down honed as a 'journalistic' technique long before the clowns on CNBC's 'business' (as usual) TV copied them.

Who was first is irrelevant.

It's a manipulation technique that works.
And in TV/Faux-Reality-land, that's all that counts.

Yes, "FUEL" was a rather fact-free documentary. The idea that burning recycled French-fry grease in diesel engines will save us from Peak Oil didn't really sound credible to me. Even Americans don't eat that many French-fries.

"End of Suburbia" made a few good points, though. One statement that struck me as highly relevant was:

Americans are not addicted to oil, they are addicted to unencumbered transportation

I thought that was a brilliant restatement of the problem that cut to the basis of it. The only reason Americans use so much oil is because they drive so much. If they drove a lot less, they could easily stay within the limits of domestic production. The US is still, after all, the third largest oil producer in the world.

If my balcony got more sun, I'd build one of these.

Although I have a very large regular garden, I have 16 containers. They are similar to the ones in the article. I use them for specialty crops. FWIW, I don't like them for things like corn that have large root masses because you almost have to empty the growing medium to get the roots out. There are a number of other articles out there describing how to make self-watering containers. Just do a search.


corn...large root masses....empty the growing medium to get the roots out

Alas I can't find the article - but someone was using the corn plant rootballs from container grown plants as a framework/planting pot to grow trees for transplants/veggies. The roots of the tree would air-prune and thusly branch.

I built a system a long time ago that could be scaled up to a row of plastic bag soil containers sitting on sub-irrigation wicking medium. The wicking medium in my design was a half inch of coarse sand that had been ‘fractionated’. (The small-gravel sized fraction had been sieved out, then the fine dust fraction washed out through a 0.4mm mesh). This medium can transport a lot more water than sand and can be maintained wet/damp rather than at full water holding capacity. (The roots can be later lifted out and the special 'sand' mostly recovered.) A long(ish) double row of plants is fed with water at modular spacing from a small header tank, itself supplied via a standard cattle trough float valve. I put in a feed-back loop from a very small container just 'under-the-table ‘ that collected, via a small wick, the surplus water from the 'sand table' with its plants. As the little sub-tank filled, it shut off the header tank supply to the main 'table'. Conversely, when the plants dried the 'sand table' the short wick drew water from the sub tank, and restarted the table-length irrigation flow.
Was amazingly sensitive, you could hear the flow in the header tank slow and then pick up when a cloud passed across the sun.
Went a whole summer from seedlings to fruit without any attention to watering.


I would like to see a diagram of this system, phil. Sounds fascinating, and I know some folks that may be interested ;-)


Yes, seeing pics and/or diagrams would be interesting.

Was it a bit like this, but with the addition of your feedback loop?

Wicking Beds Instructable

Any fertilisers in that water or is it just used for watering? If watering only and there is soil on top, how does the water get up to the soil?? Likewise would love to see the pics and diagram.


Todd, I can see how Leanan's link on containers would be effective in countering rabbits etc, but what about insect pests? Is there a simple yet robust way to protect plants from them?

"Is there a simple yet robust way to protect plants from them?"

Plant a French Marigold in each container with your veggies.

Marigolds are easy to grow and have a long flowering period. African marigolds have a upright growth and can reach a height of 30-40 inches, while French marigolds grow to only 8-16 inches. The scent is strong and somewhat unpleasant, and is effective in repelling many garden pests.

If your containers aren't big enough just plant some contained marigolds nearby. This should help alot.

This thread is a bit serendipitous; I've been shopping for my container gardens this morning. Besides our regular garden, we're planting lots of containers on our flat roof to have an expanded kitchen garden and for shade. I scored at the big box home store: they had a closeout on a line of drip irrigation stuff I like. I picked up a couple of timers and a bunch of connectors, fittings and emitters. Very handy stuff for your container garden. They also had a special on 'rope totes', 12 and 18 gallon round containers, UV stablized.

I've already got my pickling cukes going. They should spread out and do a fine job of shading the roof, saving energy :-) Also planning for tomatos, squash and mellons; lots of space up there.

Note: Container gardens need watering almost daily; recommend some sort of auto-irrigation if you have very many containers and are busy. Some containers can be designed with a reservoir in the bottom with a wicking system. You can buy a starter kit for drip irrigation, perfect for 10-15 containers (these were also on closeout).

More on water/time saving (and stealthy) drip irrigation.

shading the roof,

Get in your time machine, stop at Target 2 months ago and buy the luffa seeds and get 'em started.

In good soil, 12 inch leaves, 30+ feet high. Plant early so the luffas set and grow over the summer.

recommend some sort of auto-irrigation

Stop and shop at curb-mart for the toilet tank float valves.

Yeah, eric, we tried luffas a few years ago; neat to look at but taste like stale shredded wheat.

I never heard of eating them.

I thought everybody just dried them out and used the
cellulosic skeleton like a pumice bar in the bathtub....

You pick them when they are small and TENDER. On the other hand, they are one of the veggies that cause small children in India to weep when they are served them. The other tear inducer is bitter melon which is of course, very good for you.

Speaking of other insect pests, has anyone had any luck with mosquito-proofing the water reservoirs? They seem like a great idea, but hemorrhagic (and non) dengue is a serious issue in my area.

The 'earthtainer' design from Leanan's link looks like the reservoir isn't exposed directly to the air; no way for skeeters to get in or out except the vent tube and overflow, which could have a screen intalled if needed.

The containers I made have 1/2" air holes on each end. I haven't had trouble with mosquitoes but there are organic mosquito insecticides that are granular made for pools that would work fine. If I hadn't had such a messy day, I'd look at our bottle of the stuff for the brand. Why don't you try http://www.groworganic.com They have lots of organic stuff. The URL is for Peaceful Valley Farm Supply.


I'd suggest closed containers or fine screen door mesh, make sure it is spaced off the water. Running water is ok, it's the stagnant you need to worry about. Does your area have a Dengue patrol? Around here they regularly go house to house and check everything putting bags of insecticide granules in any stagnant water. If the container is closed, eg water tank with close fitting lid, or the water doesn't sit around for more than a day or two they are not bothered. If you are in Mexico check with your state Salud department or local Ayutamiento. You REALLY do not want to catch Dengue.


Edit: Oh, think about using mosquito nets anyway.

Honestly, if I could choose I would pick Dengue, even hemorrhagic dengue, over Chaga's disease or Malaria, at least it isn't chronic, and being infected by one of the four types gives you partial immunity to the others. However, that being said and done most people around here are pretty vigilant about leaving standing sources of water. My neighbors have even warned me about the cat's drinking water. They say that the mosquito larvae only need the water to be around for 8 hours.

Interestingly, even though lots of people I know have gotten dengue, I haven't seen anyone use a mosquito net. The standard practice around here is to use an air-conditioner all night, every night, usually to temperatures that would make any northener turn on the heat - without any regard to sealing the gaps around windows etc. Then, when the power grid is overwhelmed it is standard practice to blame the president.

I think I will try to find the landscaping fabric and wicking basket described in the Earthtainer instructions. If I can locate those (not such an easy thing in suburban Venezuela, especially when you are a partially clueless, carless foreigner) I will set it up and silicon gun seal mosquito net over the water intake and overflow.

PS... speaking diseases it seems that all the medical students are being given special seminars on how to deal with Cholera as there are cases coming over from Haiti/Dominican Republic... a good example of why it's smart to help people in other countries before the problem arrives on your door (tempted to write that in a more vulgar way, it being cholera and all)

Of the 3 and I had to have one I would go for Malaria, at least its treatable. Haemorrhagic Dengue has a 20% bad day rate. I don't know about that immunity bit, around here they say that getting a different strain increases the risk of the haemorrhagic variety whereas the first time you catch it the worst thing is the pain, hence the name 'breakbone fever', and it hurts. As for the larvae, most accounts I've seen put it at a few days. I try not to let water stand more than a day or two and I haven't seen any larvae in it, the cats need refilling 2 or 3 times a day anyway. No mosquito access to stagnant water is the key. Maybe some stainless steel pan scourer might work if pushed into overflow and vent pipes you want to stop things like wasps nesting in there anyway as it will block the pipes. Plastic window screen from a ferretaria might work for the landscaping fabric or you may find sun screening, don't know if Mallas Tenax sell into Venezuela but they do geotextiles.

Re heat and keeping cool, did some rough and ready tests on my roof (WHT I did not perform this in a proper scientific setting so no correlation coefficients etc). Bare concrete 37C, white waterproofing 31C, under traditional Spanish tile 27C. Have to play some more.


Of the 3 and I had to have one I would go for Malaria, at least its treatable.

Apart from the stuff that's not treatable...

More recently, P. falciparum has evolved in response to human interventions. Most strains of malaria can be treated with chloroquine, but P. falciparum has developed resistance to this treatment. A combination of quinine and tetracycline has also been used, but there are strains of P. falciparum that have grown resistant to this treatment as well. Different strains of P. falciparum have grown resistant to different treatments. Often the resistance of the strain depends on where it was contracted. Nearly all cases contracted in Africa, India, and southeast Asia have grown resistant to this medication and there have been cases in Thailand and Cambodia in which the strain has been resistant to nearly all treatments.

And that's falciparum - the nasty one.

According to WHO around 3-7% of Dengue cases develop into Dengue haemorrhagic fever and of those about 2.5% die. So an overall mortality rate of around 0.175% (taking the high end estimate).

With malaria 1 in 247 cases die or 0.4%. And that's not taking into account the large percentage of the overall cases which are not the falciparum strain, as it rarely occurs outside Africa.

The first time you contract falciparum, unless you get treatment within 12-24 hours of the onset of symptoms, there's a substantial risk of death. That's if the treatment works of course..

It all depends which strain you contract. At least falciparum isn't chronic, assuming you survive.

At least there is a treatment for Malaria, granted some of the later strains are troublesome but still the large majority does respond to regular treatments and there are newer treatments available. There is no treatment for Dengue. You can only treat the symptoms and DHF can have a mortality up to 20%. You are more likely to get DHF on getting a second type of the virus. The first infection is not usually so bad but it hurts, the second time around is when you worry. The patrols and sprayers that come around here are not playing around and they get my support. There seems to be hope in sight for a vaccine. Given the effects of these 2 diseases more consideration should be given to re-introducing DDT with strict usage control.


Yes, I agree I'd rather have neither if it can be helped!

I saw there was some research into introducing genetically modified mosquitoes that somehow couldn't harbour the malaria parasite and the plan was for the gene to be dominant. I don't know how far they got with this.

It's such a complicated business though - bit of a nightmare. Like you say, DDT has had a bit of a hard time in the press but deserves more praise for the benefits it brought.

I think they are trailing the mozzies but I am not sure how far they have got with it. There hasn't been much work on Dengue except for the vaccine which may still be some while off. On the one hand that was easier for Dengue as it is a virus not a parasite as in Malaria. On the other hand there are 4 types to vaccinate against. When it comes out I will be in the line. I haven't kept Track of Chaggas as it doesn't seem to be a problem around here but we are still advised to keep an eye out for the bugs in case they do move in, a direct example of many eyes make bugs scared.


In a rain barrel, pour a layer of cooking oil or kerosene on top to get rid of the skitters.

Ghung, eric, provo, Todd, NAOM, paleo, thank you for the informative responses. Kudo's to Leanan for introducing the subject.

Fungal based compost tea. The insects do not like it because the fungi weaken the chitin of the exoskeleton. And the plants get to folar feed.

you sure you don't mean bacterial or balanced?

Fungi is what I remember has the chianise. Some bacteria does also it seems.

From link above:

Emotions matter notably in regard to oil, where the world's growing dependence on one region inspires a "fear factor" that contributes as much as US$15 to $20 a barrel in price spikes.

I have trouble believing that fear has anything to do with oil prices. I'm talking about the real market here, not the futures market, which indeed could act irrationally.

When buy a sack of real potatos, is there a price premium based on potentially bad growing conditions this summer? Or is the price of potatos just based on current supply and demand? I believe the latter, but it would be interesting to hear what other people on TOD think.

I think you are wrong Frugal. The price of any commodity is based not only on the supply and demand right now but what they expect the price to be a few months down the road. It happens all the time.

Say the Department of Agriculture predicts a very bad crop of corn this year. That will cause the price of corn go go up right now. Then the storage factor comes into play. Corn brokers will price their corn at the expected price in three or four months minus what it would cost them to store their corn for that long. And the futures market would reflect that "expected" price.

But oil, more than any other commodity has a "fear factor" built in. If it looks like the unrest in Africa and/or the Middle East is going to get worse, every producer will want more for their oil, and they will get it.

Let me ask you a question. Please answer it honestly. Suppose Saudi Arabia announced today that they have no spare capacity, that they are producing every barrel they possibly can. What would that do to the price of oil, not just the futures price but the spot price also? What would "Alaska North Slope oil go to, a grade that is not traded on any exchange?

The link above, in case anyone was wondering is: "A Roman scholar puts oil prices in perspective".

Ron P.

Let me ask you a question. Please answer it honestly. Suppose Saudi Arabia announced today that they have no spare capacity, that they are producing every barrel they possibly can. What would that do to the price of oil, not just the futures price but the spot price also?

Yes I have to admit that your logic is sound and there probably is a fear premium built into commodity prices. As to what would happen to oil prices if Saudi Arabia announced that they have no spare capacity, I think they`ve already admitted to that, cryptically of course. I guess there would be real panic if they straight up admitted to it in non-cryptic language.

Let me ask you a question. Please answer it honestly. Suppose Saudi Arabia announced today that they have no spare capacity, that they are producing every barrel they possibly can. What would that do to the price of oil, not just the futures price but the spot price also?

It would lead to a massive price spike to the point of loss of functionality of the global economy, followed by a market collapse and precipitous plummet of price.

It's the paradox of peak oil and the market. Wide spread admittance of peak oil means contraction and subsequent loss of confidence(faith) in the system(causing a behavioral induced economic collapse and subsequent collapse in price), while simultaneously, that there is serious "scarcity"and the price is not high enough. Does not compute!

Point being, the "market" has no way to translate peak oil to a price because of the mechanism's massive scope limitations i.e. no physical referent coupled with the subjective perspective aspect of the whole mechanism. Which is why wild volatility coupled with massive perception management is the name of the game until the whole thing falls apart.

Yes I agree.

Perception and finance are just that. They can't create wealth. So they don't matter as much as we think they do.

Let me ask you a question. Please answer it honestly. Suppose Saudi Arabia announced today that they have no spare capacity, that they are producing every barrel they possibly can. What would that do to the price of oil, not just the futures price but the spot price also?

Already priced in.

When the the zeitgeist is biased to the more rational side of thinking I agree, the latter.
When not (for reasons real or imagined), the former.

This book is a very good read on the subject of crowd mentality (you may have seen it before). My economics 101 teacher had us read it back when.


That's why I think as soon as people in general get a whiff of the reality regarding oil supplies there will be hoarding and panic buying in the extreme.

It was interesting on the Today show on NBC this a.m.
A woman from some driving institute or other (name escapes me) was actually inferring that high pump prices were being caused by drooping supply.
It was as if she wanted to further the point but was constrained in doing so.
Once that constraint ("I don't want to be perceived as a loony...") is broken, I think all hell will break loose. IMO.

Lots of people will pontificate about the importance of the "fear factor" in the oil markets but extremely few (any?) use actual data to back up their opinions. Let's change that.

Here is a graph from the Futures Chain Explorer that shows the current crude oil futures chain (black) as well as futures chains for the last week (red), month (blue) and quarter (gray).

The x-axis shows the delivery month. The y-axis shows the settlement price for each futures contract. The gray dots trailing to the left show the closing price of each contract, i.e. the spot price on the day of closing. The "futures chain" is the snapshot of what the market thinks crude will sell for one-, two-, three-, etc. months out into the future.

The chart above shows that the market thinks that oil will be somewhat more expensive next month but will then stabilize at that price and be less expensive next year and then declining in price for the foreseeable future. (Don't talk to me about the wisdom of that particular forecast! I'm just reporting what the market data say.)

If you follow the futures chain regularly you will see that the futures market follows the spot price rather than the other way around. Watch this two-minute movie to see what I mean.

Oil is fairly expensive to store and it takes a very strong short term contango in the market to justify storing it for later sale. ('Contango' exists when there is an upward slope to the future chain -- not what we have now.) Thus, when the futures chain is not in contango, the spot price for oil is a very good measure of the balance of supply and demand.

So let's get back to our original quote:

Emotions matter notably in regard to oil, where the world's growing dependence on one region inspires a "fear factor" that contributes as much as US$15 to $20 a barrel in price spikes.

To translate that quote into the chart above, take a look at the colored bands. The weekly "fear factor" is the range of red dots -- how much the front month price has moved based on news reports in the last week. Indeed, the price range covered by the red dots for the front month contract is on the order of $8-$10. The monthly "fear factor", the range covered by the blue dots, is currently around $10-$15. So the quote above seems quite reasonable.

Where the quote falls down is that it leads one to believe that emotions only play a role when prices are rising. In fact "emotional factors", as represented by the red and blue bands, affect prices going both up and down as you will see if you regularly follow futures chains.

The more important take-home message for me is the demonstrable lack of clairvoyance of the crude oil futures market. Over the last two years, the futures market has been remarkably pathetic at predicting changes in the price of crude oil even just a few months out.

That's the main reason I feel that current efforts to blame traders for high gasoline prices are a waste of time. I don't have any great love for traders but scapegoating them is distracting people from the true and much simpler explanation:

Supply is not keeping up with increasing demand.

Happy Futures.


The emotion at play in the above graph of smoothly declining oil futures (right hand side) vis a vis the step wise zig zagging reality of the past (left hand side) is wishful thinking.

re "Soot" article about soot and the rapid arctic ice melt.

I wonder how much of an influence ships in the Arctic Ocean have on this, proportionally to other sources of soot such as coal burning, diesels, etc..

One can sometimes see the effects of ships passing by the cloud trails these leave by looking at visible satellite images of the ocean, at least in the cooler Eastern Pacific. The ships' exhaust contains soot which causes water droplets to form clouds in their wakes. It sort of looks like huge jet vapor trails. The fuel used by ships is often dirty and produces lots of soot. So as the Arctic Ocean melts and more ships use that high latitude pathway, is this accelerating the melting of the ice, by providing a "rapid delivery" of soot to this region?

Here is a good example of these vapor trails from cargo ships, as seen in a visible satellite image:

An article about these:

Of course those vapor trails are a cooling perturbation. They were the genesis of some of the geo-engineering ideas of using wind powered sprayers to put extra cloud condensatio nuclei over such patches of ocean (i.e. the salt particles, help fog and low clouds to form). Of curse black carbon also heats due to absorbing sunlight, especially if it is over a white surface. Even worse if it is deposited on snow, the effect can last for the rest of the melt season, not just the few days the soot would remain airborn.

Yesterday the truckers in China were rioting over fuel. Now you have riot police striking because they can't get biofuel.

'Stop trying to turn us into priests': French riot police threaten to strike over alcohol ban while on duty

Now you have riot police striking because they can't get biofuel

LOL, I read the article, they aren't talking about biofuel (ethanol?) but plain ole alcohol as in wine, beer, liquor. Of course if a human drinks alcohol, and converts it into carbohydrates in his body, one could presume it to be a kind of biofuel. No need to calculate the EROI for that. :)

plain ole alcohol as in wine, beer, liquor.

And that is what Ethanol is.....

(gotta tie it to TOD somehow *wink*)

The Longevity Project has been discussed here before. It's the longitudinal study that found that the best predictor of a long life is not optimism or good genes, but conscientiousness - prudence and persistence. This review has a couple of interesting details about what environment factors (as opposed to genetic or personality traits) affect longevity.

Men sent overseas during WWII were more than 1.5 times as likely to die in any given year after the war than men who were deployed in the US. The single strongest social predictor of early death was having your parents divorce during your childhood.

I suppose the cause must be stress. Suicides increase when the economy is bad...and so does child abuse.

Some say that cortisol (which is released by the adrenal gland in response to stress) is the Death Hormone.


Could be. Though the study also found that not all stress is bad. The stress that comes from a job or challenge you enjoy helps you live longer. Stress from a job you hate but can't leave shortens your life.

Stress from a job you hate but can't leave shortens your life.

The daily pint of vodka probably doesnt help.

I have a few ounces of good blended whiskey every day. I believe it relives stress and lengthens my life. Of course I never drink a pint. That would be 16 ounces. I drink about one third that amount daily and have ever since I retired 7 years ago. It does relieve stress even if it doesn't add to my lifespan.

But I have been extremely lucky. I never had a stressful job in my life except for those six months I spent as a stock and commodities broker. I found out that "Stockbroker" is just a fancy term for "Salesman". The rest of my working life I was a "Computer Field Service Engineer". That is a fancy term for "Computer Repairman". ;-)

Ron P.

I try to have a small glass of cheap wine, I've never liked the stuff. My wife thinks she can get the health benefits from a pill. I think some of the benefits may come from metabolizing the alcohol. I don't know how I ended up with such a tea-totalling family.

Ethanol Subsidy Under Fire

The $5 billion blenders credit for ethanol is on the chopping blocks for some senators seeking ways to trim the massive federal deficit. But the issue has created a firestorm of sorts within Republican ranks as other party leaders contend that eliminating the subsidy is tantamount to a tax increase. Proposing elimination of the ethanol subsidy is conservative Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla), who is working with a bipartisan group of senators on a plan to reduce government borrowing.

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) wrote a commentary in today's WaPo about oil, claiming that the US has abundant reserves. She claims that "the United States’ recoverable oil resources are estimated at 157 billion barrels", referencing to a report by the CRS from November 2010. I suppose this is old news around here, but claims like this keep appearing from the conservative Tea Party types and there's almost no way to rebut them after they are spread widely by the neocon propaganda machine...

E. Swanson

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) wrote a commentary in today's WaPo about oil, claiming that the US has abundant reserves. She claims that "the United States’ recoverable oil resources are estimated at 157 billion barrels"....claims like this keep appearing from the conservative Tea Party types and there's almost no way to rebut them....

Let me clarify this a bit. I don't especially care for Lisa (for other reasons) but she is not a "Tea Party type". In fact, she almost lost her Senate seat to a Tea Party whacko named Joe Miller.

What Lisa clearly is trying to promote is more oil development in Alaska. It shouldn't be a big surprise, that an Alaskan Senator would try to do that. I found it interesting that while she said (emphasis mine) "My home state of Alaska, for example, holds an estimated 40 billion barrels of oil..." she didn't specifically mention the "A" word (ANWR).

Is there more oil to be discovered in Alaska? Sure. In ANWR for example, there are two known accumulations (Pt Thomson and Sourdough) that almost certainly extend into ANWR. And there is a high probability that there are more yet to be found accumulations within ANWR. Whether or not there is "40 billion barrels of oil" yet to be found and produced from ANWR and other areas in Alaska is another question entirely. Estimates of yet to be found oil are at best educated guesses, based on limited data. In my opinion, USGS people making these predictions are often rather too optimistic, and don't sufficiently weight the down side. I say that even though some of the the USGS guys are friends of mine. Certainly their NPRA predictions have so far not turned out well. But that is in the nature of pre drill guesses. We won't really know unless and until we drill.

The bottom line is that yes, there is probably a good deal of oil yet to be found in Alaska and elsewhere in the US. While it might be very significant for the economies of oil producing states, and might help the US economy a little bit, it won't make any significant difference in the long run for the US or the world as a whole.

For kicks, let's take that estimate at face value: 40 billion barrels. Geez, that's really huge. The US currently imports about 4.3 billion barrels annually. So, assuming all other factors are static, and we could somehow extract 100% right now, we'd have less than 10 years of oil self-sufficiency. Impossibly best-case scenario, and don't bother asking what happens when it's gone.

Now if you couched it as an important 'strategic reserve' that we need to get ready to exploit carefully over the medium-term while we transition to alternatives, I'm good with that. But insinuating that ANWR can do a damn thing about $4/gallon is totally irresponsible.

But insinuating that ANWR can do a damn thing about $4/gallon is totally irresponsible.

I certainly wansn't trying to insinuate that. Lisa probably was trying to imply that, but what the heck...she's a politician, and a Republican at that. What do you expect?

Cool, I'm clear on that. The "irresponsible" part really goes without saying for officials in either party playing the issue for votes, but I have my moments of naive outrage every now and then.

"....I have my moments of naive outrage every now and then".

Me too! ;-)

But after living in Alaska for several decades, my naivety regarding politicians has worn off significantly, and I have those moments far less often than I used to. As John McPhee once wrote:
"Alaska is a foreign country significantly populated by Americans. Its languages extend to English. Its nature is its own."

But then, Lisa's attitude is hardly unique to Alaskan politicians.

while we transition to alternatives

I thought that's what we were doing already

Yay! If we keep it all to ourselves (ignoring it is sold on the global market, but let's not upset poor Lisa), we can run the US for about (edit for bad math) @ 20 whole years! but will take forty years to get out of the ground and ten to even get started...

We need more brilliant minds like Lisa's.

Maybe someone should tell the honorable senator that even if we could extract every drop of that 157 billion barrels, that's only about 23 years worth of oil at current US consumption levels - with NO GROWTH.

Aside from the fact that Murkowski is a Rhino (Republican in name only) who was almost defeated by an extremely weak Tea Party candidate in a three way election...and aside from the fact that the "neocon propaganda machine" is miniscule compared to the power of the liberal press in America (as documented by many studies of donations and the leanings of the press)...whether or not she is correct on the exact figures I have a much better idea...

Let's lock up Alaska so there is no more drilling, then we can prevent/prohibit gas and oil pipelines from being built both from Canada and from the Rocky Mountain areas, and furthermore we can then slow down new permit issues in the Gulf of Mexico to a virtual standstill...that should help peak oil...

Oh and for a kicker let's lend Petrobas, a Brazilian company, two billion dollars to drill in the ocean since George Soros a huge Obama/Liberal propaganda supporter owns a very large stake in Petrobas.

That should be a solid energy plan for a bright American future...oops that plan is already complete.

As gas prices increase we see the true stripes on display.

The approved right-wing meme is to create a false choice to explain high oil prices:
1) Caused by environmentalists preventing us from getting new drilling permits.
2) Caused by oil speculation.
The approved choice among the two false ones is of course environmentalists, which means they can go after greenies and protect their sacred Wall Street benefactors from blame. That is the benefit of setting up a false choice strawman, as you can deflect from the reality. The right wing meme machine intentionally ignores peak oil, and sets up their talking-points emails to carefully avoid the topic while making the environmentalists out to be the villains.

The natural choice among progressives is:
1) Caused by Peak Oil
2) Caused by greedy oil companies
3) Caused by geopolitical events
4) others
The left-wing is not told how to think so naturally they consider all the options. The greedy oil companies choice resonates amongst some of the populists. The critical thinkers of course know that it is all about peak oil.

The oildrum should report the new peak in liquid fuels. IEA reported 89 million barrels per day for February 2011. Also the EIA numbers show that 2010 had more oil than the "peak" in 2008


Here was an oildrum article predicting EIA liquids would be about 80-81 million barrels per day and it is 86.1 million barrels for 2010 and should have higher levels of Feb 2011. Crude oil and lease condensates could have set a new peak for Feb 2011. Need to see the EIA numbers. IEA already shows a new peak.


The first link is quite interesting.
The US military is improving it's efficiency for a post peak scenario faster than any ecologist wanabee :

The cost of fuel and energy efficiency is taking on an increasing level of importance in the current fiscally burdened and resource-constrained environment. The importance will continue to grow during the “post-peak”oil production period that coincides with the projected 64-MJ EMRG initial operational capability (IOC) in the 2020 to 2025 timeframe. Post-peak is the era after global production of petroleum products has peaked and begins an irreversible decline. It is vital that the Department of Defense (DoD) begins to develop systems and build platforms that can put steel on target efficiently in the post-peak period. A brief discussion of the fully burdened cost of fuel (FBCF) and some impact on war fighters is provided.

Well, this brings up the question of what is means to very efficient at doing completely unnecessary things.

Wow, peak net energy in oil extraction, too? \sarc

I think you are talking about gains in small chain gases that are not used in motor fuel. The only stat that matters is crude oil, which makes diesel fuel, the life blood of the economy. Everything else is chicken scratch at the end of the day. Very few cars run on ethane and propane and butane cannot be used in the Summer months.

The oildrum should report the new peak in liquid fuels. IEA reported 89 million barrels per day for February 2011. Also the EIA numbers show that 2010 had more oil than the "peak" in 2008

Do you suppose that the price of oil would drop if TOD reported this?

The main thing theOildrum is covering is peak oil. It should be a big deal that oil production reached new peaks. There are still commenters here who are quoting 2005 or 2008 as the peak.

Nothing that is said or done here is effecting the multi-trillion dollar oil markets.

I am suggesting that theOildrum do a better job of covering their main topic with a dedicated article on it or at least some links to it in the Drumbeat.



The EIA data for January 2011 for crude oil and lease condensate is 75.282 million barrels per day. A new peak in straight up oil. 600,000 barrels per day higher than July 2008.

Also, the US dollar according to the real broad index which tracks it against the US dollar value in 1973 is 82.6


The US dollar is weak versus gold, silver, euro, and most everything.

The assertion from Hastings that the weak dollar is responsible for one-third of the total cost for a gallon of gas "sounds very low," Pento says, adding that a barrel of oil should be closer to the $65 to $70 range if priced properly. "That's exactly where it would be if we weren't crumbling our currency," he says.

"Liquid Fuels" is not "Crude Oil", crude oil has peaked (especially light sweet crude from conventional sources), liquid fuels is going to be bouncing around for a while yet but will be dragged down in the wake of the crude oil soon enough.

Did you not see the link I posted that the EIA said that there is a new peak in Crude oil and lease condensates at 75.282 million barrels per day.

Not just liquid fuels but crude oil.

I did miss that one. If it holds it will mean that the peak is at least broader than I had previously supposed it could be.

The market doesn't seem to think that producing as much as we did 6 years ago is sufficient, but it does make the academic definition of the peak more interesting.

I'd probably have posted that link if you hadn't. But I try not to re-post links that have already been posted. The story's been discussed in the comments already, by Darwinian and others.

As for key posts..we've said before we're moving toward quality, not quantity. That means the emphasis on this site is probably going to move more toward analysis rather than breaking news. I'm sure someone on staff will cover this when they have time, but right now, most of the staff is busy preparing for ASPO 9.

Commenters like the one above are still in denial (or not reading carefully) that crude oil reached a new peak. EIA says that crude oil got to 75.282 million barrels per day.

You know that about 1% of the people read deep into the comments. The drumbeat is breaking news. So it should at least be there.

It will save peak oil trackers from embarrassing themselves (and lessening credibility) by claiming peak liquids or peak crude oil back in 2008 when that has been wrong for months.

The peak we're talking about is for the year, not for the day.

IIRC, Darwinian said production numbers for previous years had been adjusted so there might be a new annual peak, but given how common it is for them to adjust the numbers, it makes sense to wait awhile before making the call.

I know most of you like to put current situation under the microscope and charts, but with respect to broader historical aspects of the oil market, re :

It doesn't bother anybody that the labelling of the time chart in below post for instance, is totally skewed and twisted :

Isn't it time for Americans to call the first oil shock, not the "OPEC crisis", the "Embargo crisis" or the "it's the Arabs fault crisis", but call it for what it is, that is "the 1970 US oil production peak crisis" ??

Maybe would help the public in realizing the situation, no ?

[Edit by TOD Mod]

The peaking of oil production in the US would have been inconsequential if the Anglo-American global oil majors could have shifted smoothly to importing from other countries to the US. Their inability to do so, and the concommitant weakening of the US/UK post-WW II extraterritorial hegemony over oil exporters, was the true geopolitical shock.

Partly true, but this was before in fact, starting in 53 with the MI5/CIA Mossadegh ousting story, further to his move on the Anglo persian company, of course Arabs nations nationalized the oil and took part in the strategy themselves, but the point is :

1) Fuel shortages started in the US from the US peak in 70/71, and nothing else :

2) Nixon asked Akins to audit oil production (with the promise nothing would be told to the press)

3) conclusion : it's a mess, not going to get back up, consumption keeps rising, we have more expensive ressources (GOM, Alaska, North Sea) but we need higher prices to develop them ($1 a barrel at the time)

4) Akins meets OPEC in 72 in Algiers and HE does suggest oil should be more expensive (like 4 or 5 a barrel). All benefits for the majors : higher market share through new developments, bigger profits. Less dependance on foreign oil at country level.

5) OPEC cartel set up the quotas system in order to limit their production and raise the price. (and start cheating on their reserves figures as a side effect with the quota/reserves proportional internal rule)

6) Add to this the 73 "Embargo" that was never effective towards the US. The US could PERFECTLY have shifted to "smoothly to importing from other countries", what forbid them to do so ? Point was to keep bigger market share from domestic production and higher prices were required for that. Energy Independance motto, or are you suggesting plain stealing of Iran /Arab oil should have kept on going with direct production by the majors as before WWII ?

7) Message to the public : it's the Arabs fault (that goes better to keep things tidy)

8) result: a US population that not only doesn't grasp global peak oil at all, but not even below picture :

That is the fact that the US is indeed way passed its own hydrocarbons liquid fuels production peak (it's the tree hugger and gaia worshipper fault, man, the stuff is there, just drill it baby)

Or now it's the speculators on the futures market fault ...

There may have been shortages in '70, but there were no severe shortages or price spikes until '73 after the Yom Kippur War when the embargo started.


Point was to keep bigger market share from domestic production and higher prices were required for that. Energy Independance motto, or are you suggesting plain stealing of Iran /Arab oil should have kept on going with direct production by the majors as before WWII ?

While the power of OPEC was increasing during the early '70s, it wasn't clear that they could actually control the quantity and hence price of oil supplied to the world until '73. The period between WW II and '73 was more similar to the period prior to WW II than the post-73 period. The ousting of Mossadegh and his replacement with the more compliant Shah is evidence of that.

Yes there were severe shortages in the US and line at the pumps before the embargo and price rise, from the US peak alone, there was ! (check NYT articles)
As to no major world price increase not sure why (some kind of regulation in the US ?) but shortages yes for sure.
Otherwise agree that post WWII to 70 can be considered closer to pre WWII

But again the point is that the OPEC price rise was PUSHED for by US diplomacy and the majors, before the embargo : higher prices needed to start more expensive "western" ressources

Posted a link to a documentary in the previous thread (doc that unfortunately only exist in French and German), there are direct interviews of Akins and Saudi oil minister of the time in this doc (and some other guys, a Berkeley guy in particular) and they are very clear about it.

And the Embargo was never effective towards the US, tankers were going from KSA through Bahrain and then straight to Vietnam for the US Army in particular.
Akins mentions in his interviews that two senators started to ask rather strongly that actions be taken against the Arabs/Embargo.
He asked the permission to tell them what was really happening, told them, they shut up and there were never any leak. (most probably possible to find traces of this story)

The seventies oil crisis is really two things in parallel :
- The US production peak (US then top world producer, and in a fast consumption growing environement)
- The Arabs/OPEC taking some independance, limiting their prod/raising the price (but this in fact in a common strategy with the majors, in the new context where direct stealing was not possible anymore, or much less)

Really strange that in the "common wisdom", and the US one in particular, only the second point is considered, as if the peak of the then top producer had no influence at all (in a period of overall growing consumption)

According to a Australian Broadcast news article (Peter Day, World of Business, Over a Barrel, parts 1 & 2), Sheik Yamani the ex minister of oil in Saudia Arabia, asserts that Henry Kissinger colluded with shaw of Iran to raise the price of petroleum as high as possible. This was intended to spur investment of oil companies outside of OPEC, and the development of alternative sources, so as to deprive OPEC of their strategic power. The Saudi's were and are not happy about this history.The Sheik also stated:

The united states was not against a high price of oil.

On the contrary, the united states wanted a high price of oil several times.

America has two kinds of states, consuming that want a low prices and supplying that want a high price.

The Sheik asserts that OPEC was not at fault for the high prices and that they were upset at the attempt to undermine their power. He also asserts that the high price of oil is not a good thing. It is only a benefit in the short term. In the mid to long term it is very bad for the Saudi Arabia and the world economy. OPEC wants the world economy steady and demanding a lot of oil.

Of course, the Sheik's stance is not unbiased, nonetheless his recounting of historical events is of interest.

The two programs do a fair job of covering the issues related to oil and its depletion. The audio pod casts are at:
http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio/worldbiz/worldbiz_20110409-0030a.mp3 and http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio/worldbiz/worldbiz_20110416-0030a.mp3

Yes in the doc I mentioned before (being on a phone cannot really paste the link) Yamani also says that Faysal sent him see to the shah to ask him why he was trying ti increase oil price and the shah told him "why do you want to keep price low, you want to please the Americans, but it's them who want a higher price , go ask Kissinger" and when he told that to faysal he was a bit pissed and never wanted to talk to Kissinger anymore

The New York Times articles are mostly about an impending shortage of fuel oil for heating, which later articles make clear never actually materialized. Redoing the search using "gasoline shortage" does not turn up articles about gasoline shortages.

I was a renter and commuting by car in '70 and '71, and do not recall shortages of gasoline at that time. However, I was a home owner and commuting by car in '73, and I vividly recall that period.

I agree with lurker that US diplomacy had much to do with the origens and early development of OPEC, and I've heard about Kissinger's alleged activities before. But my understanding was that the geopolital motivation was to increase cash flow into Iran and the Middle East (mainly from European and Asian buyers of their oil) so that those countries could buy US arms in order to strengthen the southern flank against the Soviet Union. Increasing the price of oil to stimulate more exploration and development in the US seems secondary.

The use of its power by OPEC during the Yom Kippur War was an unwelcome and perhaps unforseen "blowback" of this anti-Soviet ploy.

In a province where three out of five homes are heated electrically...

Ban electric baseboard heaters: commission

New Brunswick's Energy Commission released its first recommendations on Tuesday, including a proposed ban on electric baseboard heaters in all new homes in the province and a price hike for existing electric baseboard customers.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2011/04/20/nb-energy-p...

In eastern Canada, the choice effectively boils down to oil and electric, wood and wood pellet being secondary heat sources. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.


I'm guessing this won't be politically popular.

Maybe you could invade Quebec and expropriate the hydropower.

Edit: Forgot, you're in N.S. N.B. should invade. Logistically a little easier, anyway.

About as welcome as a sunk at the annual church picnic, kalliergo. I fully appreciate the logic behind this recommendation but, politically speaking, it's the kiss of death. I think a smarter option would have been to make residential load controllers (e.g., http://www.blackhillspower.com/demand.htm) mandatory for all new electric heat customers and to offer generous incentives to existing customers to install the same.


That strikes me as insane.
What are people supposed to do on really cold days when even heat pumps need supplimentary heat?
It might work if everyone lived in Passive Houses but nobody in New Brunswick lives in any Passive Houses.
Pellet stoves are generally too small to heat even a fairly efficient house.
New Brunswick oil shale deposits contain 270 million barrels of shale oil.


Bear in mind the proposal calls for the ban electric baseboard heaters, the most popular form of electric heating and the least costly in terms of installed cost; there is no indication that other forms of electric heat such as electric thermal storage, heat pumps with auxiliary strips, etc., would be prohibited, at least as far as I can tell.


I have difficulties tracking Saudi oil production. They said they cut their production in march by 800,000 barels per day, but the april opec report shows a slight increase in saudi production compared to february. Can anyone reconciliate the sources ?

Yes, I can do that. The OPEC Oil Market Report gets their data, not from the OPEC nations but from "secondary sources". They state that in their report.

Total OPEC crude oil production averaged 29.31 mb/d in March, according to secondary
a drop of 627 tb/d from last month.

That means folks like Platts and other reporting agencies. I suspect they take an average of several "secondary sources" and just average them. And the OPEC Oil Market Report came out before Saudi announced they had reduced production by more than 800,000 barrels per day.

So those "secondary sources" simply got it wrong.

Ron P.

Thanks Ron.

So Saudis have decreased their production by 0.8 mbd in march, and in the same time Lybia has cut its production by something like 1.5 mbd.

The total (somewhere around 2.3 mbd) makes a huge decrease from february to march. I cannot see the other countries being able to compensate this.

We haven't even got the Saudi production figures right until January 2011, BEFORE the Libyan production drop

I have plotted Saudi crude production by source (EIA, IEA, OPEC and JODI) here:


Now it's getting worse:

Fuzzy Data Help Roil Oil Markets
April 21, 2011

The US Coast Guard just released its report on the Deepwater Horizon disaster:

In their testimony before the Joint Investigation Team, Transocean witnesses and corporate executives consistently maintained that it was BP’s drilling plan and procedures that caused the casualty and that Transocean did not have any input regarding the safety of DEEPWATER HORIZON. In fact, as the vessel owner and operator, Transocean had responsibility for compliance with the ISM Code, and there is no evidence that BP assumed sole responsibility for such compliance. Moreover, BP and Transocean had executed a bridging document that indicated that they had joint responsibility for Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) programs.397

During the Joint Investigation Team hearing, Transocean’s ISM Designated Person for the North American Division demonstrated very little knowledge of the ISM Code and could not explain the company’s program for compliance. When asked about his ISM experience, he indicated that he had attended a 3-day course, had never participated in an internal ISM audit, had limited participation in a single external ISM audit, and had never worked with the Flag State or Coast
Transocean Management Summary of Corrective and Improvement Opportunities, Performance Monitoring Audit and Assessment ...

Page after page of defective, damaged, inoperable equipment, long- running maintenance 'issues' @ Deepwater Horizon rig, improper procedures, etc. Rig was a disaster waiting to happen. Ship flagged in Marshall Islands, not much in the way of accountability.

Fuel shortage hits Nepal's capital

Nepal's capital is suffering acute fuel shortages because the state-owned oil company says it cannot afford to import more fuel from India.

The Nepal Oil Corporation says price rises in the wake of the Libya crisis have meant it is making a loss on the sale of petrol, diesel and kerosene.

The energy crisis has left Kathmandu at the mercy of rolling 14-hour power cuts every day. While tolerant, some residents are starting to lose patience.

Things have obviously deteriorated in Nepal since I was last there. At that time Kathmandu was only having 8 hours of power cuts per day.

The sad thing about it is that Nepal has vast hydroelectric capabilities as a result of the big rivers that fall from the high Himalayas toward the plains. There must be two miles of vertical drop on some of those rivers, and the amount of water in them from the monsoon rains is huge.

The problem is that the Nepalese are not sufficiently organized to build the hydroelectric dams to take advantage of it.

Lack of capital is always a problem for third-world countries, but the government of nearby Bhutan deals with it by getting other countries to pay. India gets 70% of Bhutan's electricity production, but pays nearly all the costs. It plans to add over 200 MW of hydro power per year for the next 20 years, and expects to have the entire country (including the nomadic yak herders' villages) tied into the grid by 2020.

The difference between the two countries is like night and day. Nepal is turning into a poorer, less-organized version of India, but when you fly to Bhutan, you are suddenly in a country that looks and feels like Switzerland, and is similarly well organized.

It's amazing what a bit of cash and some serious policies can do - I thought the same thing when I crossed the border from Uganda into Rwanda. All those guilt payments from the West have transformed Rwanda since the genocide. I remember just being amazed by how Kigali actually has a government-funded garbage collection system - no litter on the streets!

Plastic bags are outright banned in a similar fashion to South Africa - which can only be a good thing in my eyes.

A central sewerage treatment plant is set to be installed soon - flushing toilets in Sub-Saharan Africa? Get out of here!

Plus it's mandatory for all motorbike taxi riders to wear helmets - another big difference from its neighbours.

The St. Louis airport was hit by a tornado. Cars were blown out of parking garages, all the windows are broken in the concourse, and there's reported "structural damage."

As is often the case these days, the news broke on Twitter. MSM is just catching up now.

FOR ALL - OK. I’m going to take you all on and suffer the consequences. LOL. Some ask what would happen to oil prices if the KSA announced they had no spare capacity. The result MIGHT be exactly the same as if they truly had 10 million bopd extra capacity. The KSA has a simple method for determining what they want to sell their non-contracted oil for: they simply pick a price. Ignore the oil they are selling under existing contracts for the moment. Whatever this spare production capability might be they can offer it for $70/bbl or $190/bbl…the choice is completely their own to make. Of course the price they set will determine how much oil they’ll sell. They might not sell one bbl at $190/bbl and be very accurate when saying the market place is fully supplied: no one wants their excess capacity: i.e. demand has been met. They would also have little fear of losing much market share given that most of the other exporter admits they have very little or no spare capacity. Of course if the set the spot price at $70/bbl then they might sell every bbl of their excess capacity.

In neither case the market forces wouldn’t be setting the price…the KSA would be doing it. All the market place determines how much oil the KSA sells. Or does it? If the KSA does have 10 million bopd excess capacity they can offer it at $110/bbl and perhaps can find buyers for all that spare production. Or they might chose just sell 1 million bopd at $110/bbl and keep the rest in the ground. They might “speculate” that by keeping that extra 9 million bopd in the ground the market might be willing to offer more than the $110/bbl. This is what an “oil speculator” can do to affect the price of oil. But only because this speculator actually possesses the oil. The billion bopd floating around in the futures market by those speculating what oil will be selling for X days in the future have no affect on the price of oil on those future dates. Only the oil sellers can set the price. I can buy 10 million bbl of oil futures contracts 30 days out at $120/bbl. And if the KSA offers all their excess capacity at $110/bbl then I just lost $100 million. But how can that happen? I’m one of the “speculators” being blamed for the rise in oil prices. Maybe it’s because I don’t have 100 millions of oil…just the option to buy 100 million bbls at $120/bbl.

I pushed this point in an earlier post that I haven’t had a chance to survey for responses. But my statement was simple: the increase in oil prices was strictly the result of speculators. And they are the oil exporters…the folks who determine what price they’ll sell their oil at and what volume they’ll offer at the price. And the big dog speculator is the KSA IMHO. For months now they have been speculating that if they continue to raise their asking price the market would continue buying a sufficient amount to meet the KSA cash flow requirements. Of course, such speculation could lead to significant demand destruction and cripple the cash flow of the exporters…just like the global demand destruction in the early 80’s did as a result of oil prices escalating too fast.

And what about that KSA oil being sold under long term contract? Two important aspects. First, eventually all these contracts expire and the KSA is free to offer this oil at whatever price they want. Second, most contracts are indexed. Such as Brent +/- $X. So if the KSA's speculation in the oil market pushes up the price of the Brent futures the greatly benefit.

There you go folks…take your best shot.

We need many more speculators to drive up the cost of oil sooner to alert the public and the market to the not so far in the future crisis. Speculators are just making a bet on the side of future upward prices and a price mechanism to determine the future value of oil.

Besides that the new Saudi budget requires an estimated $84-90 per barrel price just to break even and Barclays estimates the new break even price for a barrel of oil for European integrated oil companies is now close to $100 per barrel. http://business.financialpost.com/2011/04/04/oil-finds-new-floor-at-100/

The simplest explanation is that Saudi Arabia in 2005 was analogous to Texas in 1972 and to the North Sea in 1999. Texas & North Sea crude oil production on horizontal axis, oil prices on vertical axis:


In other words, Peaks Happen.

Peak happens but what Rockman is saying is that the Saudis may be effectively bringing the peak forward, on purpose. Or at least artificially stalling global production growth for their own ends.

I - Good point. Maybe we need to start thinking in terms of APO...artificial peak oil. PO would be the natural max production rate. APO would be the max rate the oil exporters chose to set. And that's not a new phenomenon. I've mentioned it before: prior to OPEC gaining the upper hand, the Texas Rail Road Commission set the APO. It was called the allowable system. A well in Texas might have the capability of flowing 600 bopd but if the TRRC set the allowable that month at 50% the operator could only flow that well at 300 bopd of the month. The allowable was adjusted monthly. And the reason is obvious: to keep oil prices higher. Same reason the OPEC control try to control their production rates. At the time Texas was THE oil producer in the world and they were the speculator controlling prices. Today it's no different except the KSA has effectively replaced the TRRC. BTW the TRRC still has the allowable rule in place and it is still the law in Texas. But since the late 60's/early 70's the allowable has been unchanged at 100%

But of course, Texas (in black) showed a very sharp increase in production leading up to the 1972 peak, somewhat similar to the rapid increase in Saudi production from 2002 to 2005:


wt - I'm starting to wonder if you, along with the rest of us, have been duped by those lying Texas oil men. Maybe they began cutting back production to give the appearence of peak Texas production. After all, look how long the Texas Rail Road Commission forced companies to flow their oil wells at rates lower than they were capable. The KSA is doing the same thing perhps: slowly cutting back production to make us fools think they are approaching PO. Heck of a deal, eh? It's one thing for those dirty lying bastards in Texas to do that. But our Arab brothers...why would do that to us?

Wait a sec...maybe those damn Brits did they same thing. I'm starting to smell a global conspiracy. Where the heck did I leave that roll of tin foil?

On a positive note (always have my rose-tints to hand!) the reason the Saudis may be doing this is that perhaps they fear that if they just let PO run its natural course then maybe it would have given alternative energy enough time to take off proper - reducing dependency on oil. In which case the opportunity for reaping very high prices during the oil/energy scarcity may have been missed.

Better to be safe than sorry and make hay while the sun shines?

I actually used to take Saudi statements about "voluntary" reductions in oil production and reword them as a releases from the RRC in Austin, regarding Texas' multi-decade "voluntary" reductions in oil production--because of a persistent inability to find buyers for all of our oil "Even our light/sweet oil." A handful of people thought that they were actual press releases from the RRC.

Here are the 1969 to 1972 and 1972 to 1977 rates of change in Texas crude oil production (RRC, C+C) and the 2002 to 2005 and 2005 to 2010 rates of change in Saudi crude oil production (EIA, C+C):

1969-1972: +4.3%/year
1972-1977: -2.7%/year

Saudi Arabia:
2002-2005: +7.5%/year
2005-2010: -1.4%/year*

*Based on latest EIA revison

If Texas had continued to show a 4.3%/year rate of increase in production, we would have been producing about 4.2 mbpd in 1977, versus the peak rate of 3.5 mbpd. Actual production was down to 3.0 mbpd.

If Saudi Arabia had continued to show a 7.5%/year rate of increase in production, they would have been producing about 14.0 mbpd in 2010, versus the peak rate of 9.6 mbpd. Actual production was down to 8.9 mbpd--and as I have occasionally noted, the net export decline rate tends to exceed the production decline rate.

Methinks you are overanalyzing the situation (something to do with your Oil Patch developmental background I suspect; as an exploration type I've found that too many control points tend to limit my creativity).

wt - Not over analyzing...just bored and wanted to stir the crap up a bit. I'm sitting ona well on the side of the Miss. River waiting on a little drill deeper after logging yesterday.

Rockman, was making a funny. You made an interesting argument for Average Joe to ponder. Why would all these producers hold back their volumes at the same time? They would need to be in a global conspiracy basically, which is improbable. I see what you were doing.

Oct - I suppose technically you can't have a conspiracy without the vatious parties communicating amongst themselves. If diverse groups are presented with similar circumstance it not difficult to imagine similar responses even if they don't coordinate their efforts.

I commented before that it would be more productive if folks looked at it from the producers' position rather then their consumer chair of self interest. The great majority of TOD see some sort of PO ahead otherwise we wouldn't be here. The KSA, along with all oil exporters, "ain't you momma" (btw in the process of getting a copy right on that irritating phrase). From the KSA chair: Regardless of what my reserve base might be, it's still depleting daily. I have a steadily growing population. I have little revenue generating capacity other than my oil sales. I have a growing demand internally for my energy production. This isn't a situation where one should ask what Jesus would do. Rather what would you, as a ruler of the KSA populace, do for the self interest of your people. From that view point it's easier to understand the KSA statements and actions IMHO.

Incidentally, I'm working on an essay on "ELM, the Prequel,", which analyzes both pre-peak and post-peak production and net exports. Given increasing oil production in an oil exporting country, the rate of increase in net oil exports tends to exceed the rate of increase in production. Post-peak the rate of decline in net oil exports tends to exceed the rate of decline in production, which was probably quite a shock to the world economy, when we went from a rapid increase in net oil exports from 2002 to 2005, to declining net oil exports, post-2005. Of course, the leading contributor to the post-2005 net export shock was Saudi Arabia.

Note that US net oil imports in 1965 were 2.3 mbpd, rising at 10%/year from 1965 to 1972, to 4.5 mbpd. However, after Texas peaked, US net oil imports rose at 13%/year, increasing from 4.5 mbpd in 1972 to 8.6 mbpd in 1977 (later falling back because of Alaskan production and weaker demand). But US net oil imports increased at an average rate of over 800,000 bpd per year from 1972 to 1977. So, even though the US was not a net exporter in the Seventies, the Texas (and overall US) peak clearly had an effect on the global oil market.

Was just watching what is essentially a kid's science program. The main theme of the program was lasers. At one stage they touched on the subject of laser-powered fusion: The HiPER project

The interesting part is that the presenters (all of whom are scientists and have no affinity with HiPER) were very impressed with the project. The guy that visited said he always used to be firmly in the "Fusion is 20 years away.." camp but that his mind has now changed. He said they've been ticking off the obstacles one by one and, what's more, when he spoke to the scientists that worked there they told him they were equally sceptical when they started the project (funded by the UK government's Science and Technology Facilities Council) but now they're optimistic that it really may be a viable commercial energy source and in the near future to boot.

Watch this space perhaps!