Putting on Blinders - the EIA Budget cuts

Pit pony wearing blinders to limit what it can see, and so make it easier to control. (Horse and Man)

If you read many of the pieces that I write here, you will soon notice that I am convinced that this country and most of the civilized world has a problem with future oil supply. That problem is getting worse rather rapidly, and this is causing the price increases that you have noticed every time you visit a gas station. It is popular and easy to blame the current increases on either speculators or the “evil” oil companies. While both may play a role on the edges of what is going on, the harsh reality is that prices now are largely controlled by those nations who form the OPEC partnership. Saudi Arabia, who supplies the largest portion of OPEC oil, has said that it is uncomfortable with current oil prices, since they are getting high enough that they could cause another recession. However that did not stop them from raising their prices in April and they now need the high prices to help pay to keep Saudi Arabia from seeing any of the riots that are happening to other countries. One has to know how to separate the popular myths from the actual reality.

And if legislatures at both state and national level are to make the right choices about what to do as oil prices keep going up (bearing in mind that it was a cause of the major recession in 2008) they too need to know what is really going on. There are alternate strategies for changing domestic production and alternate fuels (such as the growing supply of natural gas) that could be a significant help in the near future. Some of those that seemed to be promising, don’t always work as fast as promised, as we found out with cellulosic ethanol. They (and the rest of us who try and explain what’s happening) need to know not only what is going on, but as things change, what the effects of new rules events (such as banning drilling for a while in the Gulf of Mexico) are having on current and future supplies. It is only in this way the rational and useful steps to help get America, and the rest of the world, off this addiction to OPEC oil can be picked out, and put into place.

Because of the need to trim the Federal budget, different Federal agencies are cutting back on the services that they provide to the public. One of the most recent has been the Energy Information Agency who have just explained in a press release, the cuts they are making. Bear in mind that this is the agency that is supposed to provide the information I have just said that we have to have. With a tip to Gregor, the cuts that are occurring are given below, together with a comment.

Oil and Natural Gas Information

  • Do not prepare or publish 2011 edition of the annual data release on U.S. proved oil and natural gas reserves.
  • Curtail efforts to understand linkages between physical energy markets and financial trading.
  • Suspend analysis and reporting on the market impacts of planned refinery outages
  • Curtail collection and dissemination of monthly state-level data on wholesale petroleum product prices, including gasoline, diesel, heating oil, propane, residual fuel oil, and kerosene. Also, terminate the preparation and publication of the annual petroleum marketing data report and the fuel oil and kerosene sales report.
  • Suspend auditing of data submitted by major oil and natural gas companies and reporting on their 2010 financial performance through EIA's Financial Reporting System.
  • Reduce collection of data from natural gas marketing companies.
  • Cancel the planned increase in resources to be applied to petroleum data quality issues.
  • Reduce data collection from smaller entities across a range of EIA oil and natural gas surveys.

Electricity, Renewables, and Coal Information

  • Reduce data on electricity exports and imports.
  • Terminate annual data collection and report on geothermal space heating (heat pump) systems.
  • Terminate annual data collection and report on solar thermal systems.
  • Reduce data collection from smaller entities across a range of EIA electricity and coal surveys.

Consumption, Efficiency, and International Energy Information

  • Suspend work on EIA's 2011 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS), the Nation's only source of statistical data for energy consumption and related characteristics of commercial buildings.
  • Terminate updates to EIA's International Energy Statistics.

Energy Analysis Capacity

  • Halt preparation of the 2012 edition of EIA's International Energy Outlook.
  • Suspend further upgrades to the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS). NEMS is the country's preeminent tool for developing projections of U.S. energy production, consumption, prices, and technologies and its results are widely used by policymakers, industry, and others in making energy-related decisions. A multiyear project to replace aging NEMS components will be halted.
  • Eliminate annual published inventory of Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States.
  • Limit responses to requests from policymakers for special analyses.

In addition to these program changes, EIA will cut live telephone support at its Customer Contact Center.

So, here we are in a mess. Generally when you’re in a mess it is a good idea to understand what the mess looks like, so that you can work out how to get out of it. But now that information is not going to be locally available. Yes there will still be the information from the IEA, though it is not really comparable, and OPEC itself provides Monthly Oil Market Reports, but that is a little less independent than most, and does not cover the internal production within this country that is a valuable tool to indicate how fast we are approaching the next crisis. (And the indications are that it may well hit right around the next election). And ignoring the information (or deliberately choosing not to collect it), is not going to affect the situation from developing, only perhaps possibly it might slow our noticing, but since we go to gas stations very regularly I think that is a bit doubtful.

At some point in the future, perhaps even that soon, politicians and administrators are going to complain “but nobody told us!!” and rush to blame the industry yet again. But the truth is, there was a group that was keeping the records, and who could tell those with the responsibility to fix it when there was a problem. And the Administration just closed it down. We will regret that lack of information and the warning messages that it would have brought.

I agree, however, we have reached a point where the government is contracting.

As examples, would you rather have your meat inspected, oil company data, military, or universities? Sorry, I tricked you, you don't get a choice and the answer is that you can have the military.

The big question is; "What are they still working on with regards to energy supply and demand projections?"

Of course, this could simply be posturing during the budget debates, so I wouldn't put too much stock in it at this time.

Military drawdown from the oilpatch will permit reformed Army/Guard Railroad Operating and Maintenance Battalions as extant Civil War to VietNam era. These rail logistics units will assist American Short Line Regional Railroad (ASLRRA) operators with prioritization and rebuild of dormant rail branch lines, crucial as famine hedge in trucking breakdown.

Railways rebuilt to former Pre-WWII footprint make sense in mid-stage Oil Interregnum and beyond, as transport powered by renewable evolves to most energy efficient ways and means of securing "Societal & Commercial Cohesion" This initial all due haste railway expansion will focus on generic railway engineering, railroads built for dual freight & passenger capabilities. High Speed rail lines will become the province of private capital, initially including airline investors concerned with shorter flight corridors more economical with fast railways than short airplane hops.

Whether or not the government and motor transport interests attempt blacking out info on Peaking Oil, geophysical restrictions on flow of oil and man-caused disruptions, resource nationalism and competition for supply make US railroad expansion a strategic necessity. This is a job we commence without needing any more information!

Railways rebuilt to former Pre-WWII footprint ...

Great idea, but you're going to have to fight the spandex crowd to get those bike trails back. And don't kid yourself; cyclists can get very nasty.

Railways rebuilt to former Pre-WWII footprint ...

Great idea, but you're going to have to fight the spandex crowd to get those bike trails back. And don't kid yourself; cyclists can get very nasty.

The federal government serves the global bankers and global corporations. They need the military to keep control of global resources. Things like medicare, social security, medicaid, education are things they do not need.

Will there ever be an organization that represents the interests of the citizens of America. I think not we are a colony and show no interest in self rule.

I am not surprised by this at all, not in a country that doesn't include things like energy and food in calculating its CPI. This morning there was a big article about an increase in the jobs created in April, but they failed to mention the unemployment increase to over 9%. I guess that we are so into self gratification that we just refuse to see what is really going on and only see what the big box tv wants us to see. Speaking of TV's I find it amazing just how much more power a flat panel 42 to 62" LCD TV uses. So much for cutting back on our energy use.

A 62" LCD uses more power? compared to what? Did you perhaps not notice that a 62" TV has roughly ten times the surface area of a 19" LCD TV?

My 19" LCD TV uses only about half as much power as the 13" color CRT television that it replaced. And LCD computer monitors typically use about half the power compared to CRT monitors of the same size.

And it is still a mystery to me why so many people buy such large TVs. The resolution on a huge TV is typically no better than on a small LCD TV, so why not just buy the small one and sit closer to it?

Although bigger TVs tend to use more power, its never quite as simple as it sounds. Some rough figures:

26" CRT TV: ~ 90W
60" CRT TV: ~235W

26" LCD TV: ~125W
32" LCD TV: ~135W
42" LCD TV: ~150W

42" LCD/LED TV: ~106W
60" LCD/LED TV: ~208W

So small CRTs weren't that bad, but as the size went up, so did the power consumption. Later CRTs tended to use relatively little power once up and working - LCDs weren't much of a win in power terms. Plasmas were even worse. However the new LED illuminated LCD cut a third from the power usage, meaning you can compare a 28" CRT with a 42" LCD/LED.

The other aspect though, is the strides taken in standby power. Mainly due to the impetus of EU requirements, the amount of power taken in standby has dropped significantly. Since most TVs will spend most of their lives in standby, this has it's effect.

A 26" CRT could easily draw 3W in standby. Assuming 4 hours use per day, that means total power usage is:

90x4+3x20 = 420W

whereas the newer 42" LCD/LED could easily hit 0.5W standby:

106x4+0.5x20 = 434W

And that's while powering digital TV decoders and other computer type aspects that the CRT didn't have to bother with.

If your numbers are correct, they have been improving. Our 42inch LCD, which had an energy star sticker when sold 3years ago draws 220watts (about 2 on standby), so 150W is a big improvement, and 106W seems pretty outstanding. Our 12plus y/o 23inch CRT only draws about 50W.

[Note power usage should have been energy usage, and is watt hours not watts]

Oops, I even thought that I needed to label the power used as Whr when I was typing them in, then didn't.

You should note the difference between US and European TVs. Since the EU mandated <1W of standby consumption, manufacturers have really moved and pushed to get that figure as low as possible. It's now the norm, and required levels are moving lower. The 60" Sony Bravia LCD/LED TV referenced claims 170mW standby power consumption.

US Energy Star ratings aren't nearly as taxing, mainly because they can be ignored. Coupled with the go-it-alone broadcast 'standards' means the US can end up as a dumping ground for lesser designs by US-only manufacturers.

Of course, we must give a big hand to the broadcasters. Since they've dumbed down the TV to the level they have, people tend to view much less TV overall - a net energy saving...

One thing is what the television or other equipment is advertised to use in standby.

The LCD TV i purchased for my wife (since i do not watch TV anymore) was rated at 3W.

Actual measurements on the TV in standby showed it used ...... chock..... 32 W.

Needless to say i was chocked and made complaints to the shop and the manufacturer.

I have afterwards checked all my stuff - and the rated standby wattage is not to be trusted.

Then again... I like to buy the cheap brands - so maybe its different with the larger brands.

"US Energy Star ratings aren't nearly as taxing, mainly because they can be ignored."

California is another matter.

The standards have no effect on existing televisions. They would only apply to TVs sold in California after January 1, 2011. The first standard (Tier 1) will take effect January 1, 2011, and reduce energy consumption by average of 33 percent. The second measure (Tier 2) will take effect in 2013 and, in conjunction with Tier 1, reduce energy consumption by an average of 49 percent.

The technology to make TVs more energy efficient is available now and currently used now in a variety of models. As of late-September 2009, more than 1,000 TVs already meet the 2011 standards.


90x4+3x20 = 420W hours

whereas the newer 42" LCD/LED could easily hit 0.5W standby:

106x4+0.5x20 = 434W hours

Common but annoying.

Some of your LCD numbers are wayyy off, especially for the smaller sets.

Some actual power consumption measurements.

27" (P2770HD) Samsung LCD. consumes 39 watts when viewing OTA programming in medium power saver mode. Reduce that number by a couple of watts(to ~37) when viewing programming via HDMI input.

An old 4:3 Sony XBR 27" tube set consumed ~125watts, and that number varied +-15watts based on the brightness level in the video signal.

A 42inch Hitachi 4:3 RPTV(3-tube based) consumed 230watts and also varied +-20 watts depending on video signal.

Standby mode on all the above sets was less than a watt.

But, the same can't be said for Cable TV and Sat decoder boxes. They consume just about the same amount of power 24x7 (20 to 45 watts) regardless of viewing mode. They only way to really reduce their power consumption is to switch them off via power strip.

The numbers came from the power consumption specs of a number of TVs offered for sale today. There is quite a lot of variability depending on how functionality is implemented, but these were median type values.

Even the Samsung LCD you quote has a 60W power consumption figure in normal mode - which is what most people will use.

As for decoder boxes in standby mode, again it depends on how they are constructed, with EU requirements forcing more power friendly performance. As an example, the Humax HD-Fox T2 set top box, with one of the most power hungry codecs around, draws less than 1W standby.

While the US might still have poor designs around, in the EU manufacturers have had to raise their game to meet regulations and standby power drain is low. That doesn't mean you shouldn't check, they sometimes have more power hungry modes, but you can generally push standby vampire draw below the level that matters.

No. The specs are required to be absolute maximums.

I.E. To determine wire and capacity sizes for extension cords and outlet strips..

If you go to the energy star web site, they will list actual consumption numbers..



Watts in On Mode 40.7
On Mode Limit (watts) 43
Watts in Sleep Mode 0.8
Sleep Mode Limit (watts) 1.0

All of these comments about appliance energy use are not un-important, but really are akin to worrying about how much we pay to support the poor folks on welfare, a percent or two of the federal budget, just like a 32" tv might use a percent or two of a home energy budget, versus addressing the real home electrical energy hogs - HVAC, which account for over half of the total home energy budget. Of course you have to start somewhere, but reducing those largest items by a few percent will reap a much large reward than reducing any appliance by the same few percent.

So let me relay a little cowboy story. It's a cowboy story only because because it starts out with "I swear this is true."

Like everyone else, I have become concerned about my electric bill as it has grown over time, and so last fall I borrowed an electronic device from my local utility to measure the electricity usage of various appliances in my home. I found that the major appliances consumed about 5 or 6 dollars of energy per month, and the smaller ones barely registered, if at all. I couldn't measure the 220v units, so I reasoned for a short while more, then raided my wife's file cabinet (she does the books in our household)and graphed our electric bills for the past several years. What I saw was a large spike every year in Jan/Feb.....I mean a $400 bump! Worrisome because I built my own house and insulated it personally, but still not too surprising since this is Minnesota after all. After first trying to accuse everyone and everything else of causing this, I reasoned a little more and finally smacked my forehead - "Duhhh! I use electric baseboard heaters for my office!" This being December, I immediately turned the office thermostat down to 50 degrees, and installed a portable plug-in 110v electric under my desk. It was a little less pleasant work environment this winter but when the 2011 Jan/Feb invoice showed up, well, about $300 of the historical bump was missing.

And the moral of this story is... Well, you fill in the blank.

IIRC, the EIA budget cut was said to be somewhere around 14%. So 86% of the budget remains. Or maybe more remains, since we have always heard constant whining about "cuts", and despite all the "cutting", government budgets magically go nowhere but up, up, up.

Anyway, if they "can't" produce even the most basic abstracts and summaries with that remaining 86%, what in the world are they squandering it on? In other words, isn't this just the usual "kill the bunny" nonsense that self-important bureaucrats indulge themselves in any time something impinges on their precious fiefdoms? I'm remembering a remark by ROCKMAN that this affair illustrated that EIA was delivering poor value for money. So is there any underlying actual "reality" to it, beyond bureaucrats protecting their turf the only way they know how?

The EIA is using the Firemen First Principle to try to save itself from budget cuts. A bureaucracy will threaten to cut what it sees as its most valuable services in order to justify its budget.

This quote proves the point:

In addition to these program changes, EIA will cut live telephone support at its Customer Contact Center.

They are trying to maximize not minimize the cuts impact on the public.

The idea is that people like Heading Out will complain loudly and make the cuts impossible.

We can therefore conclude any information not on the cuts list is less valuable from the EIA point of view.

Since the EIA's only product is information, we can conclude that 86% of what it does is not worth as much as the listed cuts.

Yeah, it's also called the Washington Monument game. Whenever the Department of the Interior is threatened with cuts, they threaten to close the Washington Monument. Of course it never happens, and I hope that's the case here as well.

So is there any underlying actual "reality" to it, beyond bureaucrats protecting their turf the only way they know how?

Protecting their turf is what it is all about.

Along similar lines to X's Firemen First theory, here is the best illustration I have yet seen as to what happens with bureacracies, though it could apply to many companies too (e.g. the auto makers).

[from Charles Hugh Smith at http://www.oftwominds.com/blogdec10/lifecycle-bureaucracy12-10.html ]

Clearly, they are at the fifth stage here, of "budget cuts", and the blue circle - the part we all see - information provided - is shrinking dramatically.

If Rockman is right that most of this information can be obtained elsewhere, then it seems to me the gov might then just as well pull the plug entirely and save the remaining 86%

Paul, I'd like to see them basically Open Source their information collection system. Provide funding, the source code, spreadsheet templates, and other tools on a web site. Let others contribute to the process. Make it very transparent.

No 86% of the budget does not remain. The current fiscal year started October 1. So as of May 1, 58% of the budget was probably already spent (assuming they spent it at a uniform pace). So 42% of the budget would have remained--but they are cutting 14%, in other words 33% of the remaining budget.

Um, what exactly are we doing here suggesting that coal and natural gas (especially given the unsustainability of these options and the fact that it has been amply demonstrated here and elsewhere that natural gas is a bubble waiting to be popped) are answers to an oil supply crisis? What exactly is it going to take to get people to face the music and realize that renewable energy and smart transportation, NOT kicking the can just a bit further down the already crumbling road, is going to do it?

These are facts, people. They don't negotiate, they don't compromise, and they don't particularly care what you think.

We - "These are facts, people. They don't negotiate, they don't compromise, and they don't particularly care what you think." I couldn't agree with you more my friend. And the fact is that the American public is not currently willing to make the move to renewables to any significant degree. So you need to face the facts yourself: "they don't particularly care what you, Wasted Energy, thinks". Nor do they care what I or anyone else on TOD thinks. That's the sad reality some folks have trouble accepting IMHO.

So there's no need to lecture most of us here. Take it to J6P on the street.

By getting rid of any evidence to the contrary, the coal and gas industry will be in a plum position to argue for concessions and subsidies from TPTB in order to "save" the day when the oil runs out.

It won't change the actual facts that coal and gas won't work, but in the absence of hard data will make it much more difficult to argue that point. A gullible public will swallow the line that "there's hundreds of years of coal and gas" and fall over themselves to elect candidates who promise to support the industry.

No mystery here.

T - So true. IMHO we're more of a reactionary society than ever before. No one wants to listen to long term plans...they want it fixed NOW!. And any politicians who doesn't comply will be sent packing IMHO.

Great - Now our energy information/propaganda can come from the energy companies themselves. Exxon/Mobil has launched a large PR campaign on the internet designed to present the "straight facts" on natural gas production in the US. Their blog, (http://www.exxonmobilperspectives.com/) speaks to a number of energy issues, but as far as I can see it is populated entirely of XOM insiders (with the exception of a few comments by me). Today's blog entry argues that XOM should not pay additional taxes because they are taxed enough already. Perhaps a few of the heavyweights around here could head on over to the XOM blog to add a more balanced perspective. The blog is clearly designed to be an apologetic for XOM...it would be very interesting if it turned into a real discussion of the issues. I was going to post today's entry, but it's a bit long. Visit their site if you are interested in further details...cheers.

The usual wisdom from Upton Sinclair still applies! If someone has skin in the game, it probably means their thoughts aren't worth even a penny...

v - Once again I'll point out all the production info from all US wells is available from the various state agencies. And you don't even have to go to each state to get the info. For a few $thousand a month the govt can find out how much NG ExxonMobil has produced in any given month for the last 40 years. In my 36 years not once have I ever used production info gained directly from any oil company. Want to know exactly how much NG a company produced out of a specific shale gas well in E Texas during April 2009? Takes a couple of clicks of a mouse. Want to see the entire production curve over the life of that well? A couple of more clicks. Want to see the production curve for all the NG produced in the US from all the wells operated by XOM for the last 40 years? Again, just a few clicks. And all this data is audited and verified by the various state agencies so you don't have to believe anything XOM says in their PR BS.

BTW the govt has all the same data from all prodicing wells on all federal lands including everything offshore. There is no data is more visible and accessble from any commercial enterprise than the production of oil/NG in the US.

Well, this looks pretty much like the mess of a crowd during a Blackout -
just before the flashing red letters appear:



Have you seen any reference to who proposed this cut? 14% is higher than most cuts percentage wise. I am curious. There have been many complaints about how the natural gas production data is not matching consumption data. I notice that the EIA Texas gas production data is not matching the RRC data, etc and I wonder if or who might be targeting the EIA and the data it provides.


Jon - The only source for oil/NG production in the state of Texas is the Texas Railroad Commission. Every operator in the state reports monthly every bbl of oil and every cubic foot of NG they produce to the TRRC and to no one else. There is no way to even make a poor guess to such numbers. So I have no explanantion why the EIA numbers vary as you say they do.

Rockman, I'd love to see into the EIA IT system for handling all the data. Why does a 16% cut cause so much loss of output data? How much manual work to they need to do to massage the data, and why?

FP - Don't want to sound too smug about it but with a couple of hours training I could teach my 12 yo daughter to handle all that Texas (or any other state) data. Drilling Info is one of the commercial companies that collects the data monthly. Included in the monthly subscription price (a few $thousand) is all the software you'll ever need to handle the data. Want to know how much production came out of all wells producing between 2394' and 5874' in Goliad County, Texas, from wells drilled between March 24, 1994 and April 11, 1998 all you do is make about 5 clicks of the mouse and you got it. Want it see the entire production history of those wells plotted on a log/normal chart...a couple of more clicks

Unfortunately I know of no other data base for the rest of the world that comes anywhere close to what we have in the US. But that also begs the question: since most of the other oil/NG producing countries provide little or no detailed data how much time/money does it take to analyze these counties. As far as I know none of the OPEC nations will give any specific production info. Anyone ever see the official decline curve from ARAMCO for Ghawar field? IMHO our smarty pants on TOD provide more credible analysis than anything I’ve seen come out of any agency.

Rockman, you can get similar information in Canada. All the raw data is collected by the different provincial government regulatory agencies, and then commercial companies package the data for distribution to subscribers (typically a few thousand dollars a month, as you said.)

The detail is probably better than in the US because the Canadian provincial governments have considerably more power over natural resources than US state governments. However, the Canadian federal government has less control than the US federal government, so it doesn't do much more than add up the provincial numbers. The provincial data, though, is probably better than US state data because the provincial governments actually own most of the mineral rights.

I used to use the data to keep our partners honest. I would get the monthly raw production data, and then run it through a program to identify discrepancies between what they should have paid us based on the regulatory data, and what they actually did pay us. If there was a big difference, we would send in the auditors. In fact, Joint Venture Auditing was one of the most profitable departments in the company. We didn't make much producing oil and gas, but we made millions auditing our partners. In some cases, they had actually printed up the cheques, but they didn't send them unless we asked for them.

Rocky - Sorry…sloppy of me. When I talked about the US data base I of course included our sub-region…Canada. LOL. Can’t say much about other states but Texas and La. has a data base comparable to what you describe in your provinces. But I do know that Kentucky is extremely odd: the state doesn't require operators to report the volumes from their wells. Can't begin to understand that set up. Can you imagine wanting to drill a well on your lease and 1,200' away is a shale gas well that's been producing for 20 years and you can't know its cum unless the operator voluntarially gives it to you?

I’ve used data bases as you have and have busted more crooks presenting bogus data to support their pitch then I can remember. Just a few months ago I busted a crook who had gotten around me to my owner and got him stirred up about his play. Claimed he had already drilled X number of successful wells and had Y number permitted. Let him slip the noose around his own neck and then pulled out a print out of all wells drilled not only in his county but also the 4 surrounding counties. He had drilled only one well which had yet to be put on production 1½ years after he drilled it. He also had no active drill permits on record. Took me less than 3 minutes to pull it all down from the state records thru the commercial service Drilling Info. He threw his crap back into his briefcase and announced he didn’t care to deal with folks who couldn’t see the potential of his project. I did well but my owner was a tad embarrassed. He’s a very honest person and tends to assume everyone else is to a degree.

I’ll audit NG sales from time to time. But oil doesn’t require as close an eye. In Texas the oil purchaser mails that check directly to us. I’ll tend to focus more on “accidental errors” on the LOE (lease operating expenses) statement.

Well, like Kentucky, many US states seem to be unclear on the subject of why they should require operators to report production. It is because it makes it easier for the inquiring government to skim some money off the top in the form of taxes, fees, and royalties. Those governments who haven't figured this out are unclear on the whole process of how to fund government services.

But that aside, in Alberta the government requires companies to turn over not only production data but their drilling core samples and wireline logs to the government, and puts them in a giant repository where all the other companies can look at them. This is because the government wants companies to have all the information they need to drill more oil wells. Some people don't understand why governments encourage companies to drill more oil wells - it is because the government is in it for a piece of the action. It is a win-win situation - the company makes more money, and the government makes more money. It makes more sense in Canada because governments own most (but not all) of the mineral rights, so the opportunities for skimming money are greater.

Rocky - Same thing in Texas: drilling/producing a well here generates a huge state owned data base that includes the well log. La. aslo requires mapping to be supplied when units are formed. Many folks seem to think there are a lot of secrets in the oil patch. Not so much in Alberta, Texas and La. so it seems. I can't think of any other industry as wide open to the public eye.

ROCK: Is exploratory well data immediately filed with the state of Texas or only the data from wells that are brought into production?

Luke - All data is reported weekly while the well is drilling. Once drilled you are required to send them a copy of the log. But you can also request a confidntiality status of that log data for 1 year and than another year option after that. But that doesn't happen very often in Texas: not that many big "secret" wells drilled here any more. And in La. when you form a unit for a new producing well you give up all right to your data. In Texas we have "right to capture" rules: if you well is drilled in a legal location on your lease than all the production is yours. But in La. the state determines, from your data, if you should get all or just a portion of your well. You can drill a well at 100% your risk but if the commission declares an offset lease owner gets 40% of your production then so be it...there is no appeal system. That offset lease owner does have to pay for 40% of the well cost but this is after you've already made the discovery. So you can imagine all the well data is put on the table at this point.

Thanks ROCK,
You came through clear as usual.

You probably guessed as to why I posed that question

The only well that has been drilled in 1002 is the Kaktovik Inupiat Corporation #1 well (always called the �KIC well�) drilled over two seasons in 1985 � 1986. This well was drilled on private (Native) land by BP and Chevron and the results of this well are highly confidential and have not been released.

That came from KEN BOYD former Director of the Alaska Division of Oil and Gas speaking on the history and resource potential of the Coastal Plain of ANWR which I found here.

So if the KIC well had been drilled in Texas the data would be filed with the state within a week but if drilled in LA it could remain secret until the well was formed into a new production unit.

Interesting about the 'right of capture.' That two potential years of confidentiality makes the game just a bit more interesting--I'm guessing if a well whose data is being held in confidentiality is brought into production the production data would immediately be made public-would the log data be made public immediately as well.

A rather strange rambling rant (weak tea) by HO.

He 'unmasks' OPEC/the Saudis as the real menace, not the strawman Big Oil and hedge fund speculators(even though market manipulation caused a global spike in oil and food and a meltdown 3 years ago).
OPEC produces 40% of the world's liquid fuel today, the same % as they did in 2000--now they are supposedly causing world prices to skyrocket.


He suggests we unleash natural gas producers to fix our energy problem(really only a liquid fuels problem now)when there are only
200000 CNG cars in the USA.



Then there's the obligatory swipe at the 'failed' technology of cellulosic ethanol.

But then he laments the budget cuts of the EIA without revealing who is demanding them while defending oil/gas subsidies(Teapublican deficit peacocks).
I actually agree it is extremely dumb to reduce energy statistical research(and all energy related research) but it would be more helpful to reveal why these programs are being chopped.

Then there's the obligatory swipe at the 'failed' technology of cellulosic ethanol.

So can you provide us with a list of success stories here?

The 200,000 CNG cars are about 199,000 more than are running on cellulosic ethanol.

it would be more helpful to reveal why these programs are being chopped.

Agreed absolutely - but this seems to be a bit of a state secret at the moment.

You missed the obvious point. Any E10 car(all US cars) can use ethanol either corn or cellulosic.

You need CNG cars to use NG.

The best thing you could do is use NG to produce ethanol in stills(with an EROI of 1.4) and feed it to cars. Directly using NG in CNG cars is slightly net energy negative.

According to wikipedia, the US produced 3.2 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol in 2008.


It is no secret the Teapublicans say that the energy companies already supply statistic and that EIA is redundant.

There is also the distinct possibility that GOP needed EIA investigations of oil speculators to be trimmed.


The obvious point is that all efforts to commercially produce cellulosic ethanol have been a an economic and/or technical failure - ethanol itself has not been, and I have never said so.
The 3.2mg gal is not a lot to show for hundreds of millions of $ and over a decade of trying - when do we pull the plug?

You need CNG cars to use NG.

True, but it doesn't just have to be cars. CNG trucks and (especially) CNG trains can use a lot, for a lot less conversions required.

Using NG to produce ethanol is only as scalable as the ethanol feedstock. Once all the available corn/sugar/starch is used, maybe double today's production, what then?

Another way is to pull out the propane and butane from the NG and use it as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Australia has 600,000 of these cars on the road and last year did 125,000 conversions, compared to new car sales of 1m.

AS for the theories on the why, I remain a distant observer, but it does seem odd that such specific instructions have been given rather than just "find a 14% budget saving"

Marjorian, What was the point in saying that the US produced 3.2 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol in 2008? That would run the US for about 10-12 minutes of one day. And probably at some incredibly inflated cost per gallon. Is that what you consider success after many years of throwing many millions of taxpayer dollars at the program? It seems to me the only bigger governmental failure, in terms of poor results and large quantities of money wasted, is algae.

The current number of CNG cars is irrelevant. Americans buy 10-15 million new cars per year. A shift to CNG just using new cars is certainly possible.

The real menace isn't a specific group of people: It is the instinct to reproduce.

The GOP is afraid that the administration is going to try to use data to educate the American public as to why it will be impossible to drill our way out of this problem. I know it is unlikely that you can teach people something that they don't want to learn. Still, it helps to keep them ignorant if you make it harder to gather the data. Pretty cynical wouldn't you admit?

I've made up my mind and my story and I intend to stick with them.

Please don't try to confuse me with inconvenient "facts".

I don't like to get confusinated.
To everything you say, I will simply refudiate it.

[ i.mage.+]

[ i.mage2.+]

The GOP is afraid that the administration is going to try to use data to educate the American public as to why it will be impossible to drill our way out of this problem.

If the GOP thinks this or any other administration would actually undertake such an educational mission, then they really are stupid and not just vicious.

A boy can dream can't he?

Surely the GOP can't be worried about that. The average person has far too little curiosity or intelligence for large stacks of statistics to be persuasive.

What we see here is a bureaucracy applying cuts in ways that ensure maximal outrage. The governments of California do this so well and I doubt the national government is any less skilled.

Look at what's gotten cut in California during its last 10 years of continual fiscal crisis and what was protected. The redevelopment agencies have kept sucking down billions while parks and schools were threatened with closure. Pretty cynical for real.

I know I am going to miss the International Energy Statistics, particularly. The way I read the list, it is the numbers found by toggling through this exhibit that won't be updated. The report currently gives information on consumption and on production of most different kinds of fuel as well as electricity. Even some of the US data is most easily found on this report.

The alternatives we have for reports are not nearly as good. I find IEA data hard to work with--copy a few numbers from here and there to put together, or buy an expensive report, that really isn't very good. It is hard to find enough comparable number to put together a graph.

I'd be interested in hearing what particular issues others are concerned about. I have been traveling a lot recently (I am currently in Spain), and may have missed what others have said on this subject.

Agree about IEA data. The JODI database is much easy to work with, and it could easily be ported into a Databrowser such as Jonathan C provides, I think. Perhaps a volunteer service could help out here? I'd be glad to lend a hand. Have always thought that a collaborative effort could be of great use to clear away some of the fog surrounding world energy issues.

I've already got a prototype JODI databrowser up and running with a visualization tailored to refinery output. But we pulled the plug on that work until I can find some source of funding.


maybe you can get hold of 0.01% of the remaining 86% for that.

But we pulled the plug on that work until I can find some source of funding.


Really, can't tell if you're serious.


;) "Funding" could mean all kinds of things to a working stiff, after all. Could be a metaphor for "need babysitter," for instance.

JODIDat looks like a winner. Although the 262 kb/d of gasoline we exported this week doesn't show. This must be a matter of net balance, i.e., imports trumped exports and only the larger of the two is shown. I like to create rainbows of stuff on my own graphs...or something the viewer wouldn't latch on to otherwise. TOD member joule was ragging on us graphmesiters last year and I sort of took his advice to heart - he does have a point, and anyway it's a bit of trouble to cook up a graph, upload it, host it, link to it, post it.

Your graphs or the EIA's are handy for showing long term trends, IMO. I've always yearned for something that would automatically update what's going down in the petroleum balance worldwide - just plug in numbers to Google Docs or the like, and voila, graphs update themselves, with embedded URL and everything. Have no clue how to pull that off, though.

The JODI dataset is always incomplete. I agree with Gail. What the US government has done is like turning off the fuel indicators in a plane.

EIA terminates updates of International Energy Statistics

One thing I thought rather strange--the EIA put together a presentation on choices regarding data cuts that ran at a special session after the regular EIA conference finished in late April. The presentation did not even mention international data.

I'd like to see the EIA reveal their raw data sources and see if they can flow them thru and let others develop report generation software on web sites.

That is a very good source of info and was long overdue. It doesn't go back real far but it is quite handy.

I couldn't help but think that the American public are a bunch of Pit Ponys and the American media being the blinders. Thank you TOD for being here.

FOR ALL - I brought this point up some days ago. Let's forget about the budget cuts for the moment and focus on what the remaining huge budget gets us. For brevity I'll run down the list supplied:

No published report of proven US reserves - We have last year's report and can access all US production info for about $5,000/yr and can be downloaded in less than a day by one person. Of course that doesn't include reserve gains from new drilling. But the EIA doesn't calculate this number anyway: the just collect the info FROM JUST SOME OF THE COMPANIES. In my 36 years I have never been asked nor have supplied such info to the EIA. Nor has any of the dozens of companies I've worked for. OTOH I could really care less what companies and the EIA says the reserve gains are. First, companies (including everyone I've ever worked for) are overly optimistic. More importantly, who really cares? The amount of reserves in the ground have no bearing on how much will be produced at what rate in the future. Mother Nature and economics will determine how fast whatever amount of reserves are in the ground are produced. And it's the production rate of these reserves that's meaningful...not the amount IMHO. For the same $5,000/yr subscription fee the EIA can get monthly updates on every bbl of oil and every cubic foot of NG produced in the US. And again, it's this production rate that's important.

Linkage between physical energy markets and financial trading: to be honest I'm not completely clear what that means. But you can pick that database up from the Wall Street Journal really cheap.

Refinery outages: reported directly by the refinery operators so are they just reissuing someone else's press releases?

Curtail collection of monthly state level data, etc, etc, Again, I think basically reissuing the reports from the distributers. I'm pretty sure there are commercial operations who do this more a very small monthly subscription.

Auditing data on the oil industry's financial performance - Wall Street does this for free

NEMS is the country's preeminent tool for developing projections of U.S. energy production, consumption, prices, and technologies and its results are widely used by policymakers, industry, and others in making energy-related decisions. - I've never used this to make any decisions. Never heard of anyone in the oil patch that has. In truth never heard of NEMS before today. Also no one else in the oil patch that I've polled this morning ever heard of it. maybe we've all been missing out on an important data source. Then again, maybe not.

The rest of the categories aren't familiar to me so I'll pass. But I suspect there are multiple and very cheap sources for much of the info. But I'm not saying the EIA doesn't put out anything of value. I'm just saying the new reduced budget looks significantly more than needed to put out the quality of product we've seen from this organization.

Oh pah-lease ROCKMAN.
I found this stuff in about 2 minutes.


You have to remember it is a survey based on what the oil companies report not a geological assessment which is USGS 2006,
which indicated a mean of 83 Gb of undiscovered US conventional oil plus 76 Gb of reserve growth plus 32 Gb of proven conventional reserves and 171 Gb of cummulative production.
The reason the USGS doesn't make more up-to-date reviews is probably because they are a bunch of rock hounds, right?(snark)


The budget slashers say that we don't need government to collect energy statistics because industry(talk about a unbiased, trustworthy source) is already doing that.

Either your standards for data are too high or you haven't been looking.

maj - Read my post again...I didn't say I coudn't find it nor that anyone else in the oil patch couldn't. I said I had no use for it. I've never used the info nor has anyone else in the oil patch that I asked.

But, then again, we're just the folks who decided where to drill so maybe our position on the subject isn' very important. LOL

EIA was never intended to be "the" source of information for the industry, and the fact that you or "anyone else in the oil patch" don't use their data is somewhat irrelevant. I don't say this to be snarky, but to point out that EIA's data are used by a lot of other people and organizations. They need a single source of information that has been deemed acceptable by the great majority of those other people. Everyone could shell out the $5k for the industry database - I would be surprised if EIA doesn't do that as well. But that would certainly cut the general public out of the picture in terms of access. To really gauge the value of the roughly $100 million that is spent on EIA, we need to consider all the data that they generate, not just this particular report. If all that were to be covered only by private databases, it's not hard to imagine that it would cost more than $100 million for all the current users to pay for the information that is now being generated by EIA. The reality is that moving to industry sources would eliminate access to a lot of useful data for a lot of people and organizations, or would increase the costs to business, state and local governments, and academic institutions.

The other point is that enough people see the value in the industry report you mention to shell out $5k. Obviously it has more information than is provided by EIA, or people wouldn't spend the money. It also has a more targeted audience. That doesn't mean that the EIA data are irrelevant, just that the two databases are used for different purposes.

Pull the data from the private sources, give it to some hackers and let them find an archive to upload the data to. Then anyone can get at it free of charge. The problem we confront is much too big to allow private consultants to control the data.

If you think I am smoking dope on this, look at what kind of outcry there is over a few climate scientists not immediately sharing all their data. Sure governments pay for some of the research but but we are seeing people from the USA complaining about data held in England.

Things are going to change, IMO, it's just too bad if you are a high-priced oil industry consultant expecting to make a living off of hoarding data.

If you are a high-priced oil industry consultant, you don't make a living off of hoarding data, you make a living off of interpreting what it means to clients. The actually information is widely available, it is the expertise to figure out what it really means that is in short supply.

Use the client's offices, access their computers, ask their people a lot of questions, tell them what they already know (but didn't know they knew), and send them a big bill at the end of the month. It's a great living.

Somebody just said that you pay for monthly updates to data. That doesn't sound like consultation but more like fast prioritized access to data. It's not too hard to figure out how to maintain an income, just provide a revenue stream and keep it going.

I agree it's a great way to make a living but none of these consultants apparently makes their great inner sanctum knowledge available for the public. This makes it like it doesn't exist to me and they are non-entities, and of course the public suffers for it.

This is really a moot argument because people are free to do whatever they want, but I can show my disdain in any case. Jeez, I get hammered just for my comments when I post here; take a look at this one from this morning by a TOD commenter:

I will hound you for these vital country graphs until I get them, if not then I will achieve one thing and that is to make you respect other peoples knowledge and analysis.
Especially when you are obviously clueless about matters which impact oil production just as much as barrels found in the ground.

Scary, kids.

It's obvious the EIA gave up because someone in the back-office came across my writings.


perhaps it was written, but do you have an idea how much money is being "saved" by this action?
It can't be very much, a million dollar a year perhaps?


The Burr plan of merging DOE and EPA will supposedly save $3B USD.
It's all phony way to defund both the entire DOE and EPA.
Part of the anti-science GOP agenda.


It's a terrible plan.

The whole point of the EPA is to be an independent authority that enforces environmental regulations - many of which have nothing to do with energy.
Now, the EPA has experienced the same sort of mission creep as most bureaucracies do - along the lines of my diagram above - but folding into the DOE won;t really cure that

if it is all based the usual argument about "operating efficiencies" etc, then you might just as well merge all depts.

I am sure the EPA and DOE are each due for a slim down and re-focussing, but that doesn't need a forced, and awkward, wedding to achieve that.

There may be some "improved operating efficiencies" that can be gained by merging DOE and EPA, but as noted, EPA deals with a lot more than energy. Most people outside the government don't realize this, but the Office of Management and Budget is tenacious when it comes to agency overlap. They crack down mercilessly on efforts to do work that is outside the legislated scope of an agency.

A couple of comments on "mission creep." Agencies are being asked by Congress, states, cities, and others to do more and more, but without budget increases. The things that are being asked of them are often outside their traditional missions, to a large extent because the problems we deal with today are different than the problems we were dealing with when the agencies were formed, and when the legislation defining their mission was passed. There is indeed a tendency to have greater and greater amounts of administration, but a significant amount of this growth is also due to Congressional mandate or fear of such mandate. When you couple that with flat budgets and rising personnel costs, you inevitably end up with the growth of the adminisphere at the expense of the productive staff.

That's not to say that improvements can't be made - they most certainly can. But the general public has very little recognition of the efforts that are being made, and have already been made, by agencies to become as efficient and effective as possible. I don't fault the public - I don't think there are many who would have much interest in these efforts.

A slightly off-topic but simple question. Production and consumption of oil is generally expressed in millions of barrels per day, but I'm trying to figure out how much is consumed per year, both in the United States and globally.

If the US uses approximately 20 million barrels per day, is that equal to 7.3 billion barrels annually? And if the world consumes (roughly) 80 million barrels per day, is that equal to 29.2 billion barrels annually?

Just checking the math, and wondering if there a reason why consumption is rarely expressed in such annual terms.

Thank you for this visual. It puts all other forms of energy into perspective, I think. What is the size of the solar panel in wattage?

The Wiki site references a 2.1kw Rooftop System at 15 sq meters (but doesn't seem to state explicitly that it ties to the 92million 'panels' number.. a term which is sometimes also used in place of 'arrays')

Of course, these numbers are 'To replace ALL the oil energy we use in a year', so a lot of assumptions had to be locked in to make this chart which do not have to be treated that way in the real world. (I think the Waterskiiers and Extreme Helicopter Skiiers might not really get to have their Oil Equivalent in Solar panels installed.. and it would seem that the energy we spend Heating a house, then Cooling the Fridge, and Defrosting, Cooking, then Reheating the Frozen-TV Dinner while we're looking for the TV Guide Website might have to get re-engineered before that process's equivalent in PV gets purchased, too. Not to mention the number of trips required to process, cook, freeze, package and distribute that meal..)

There's a LOT of fat to be trimmed.

Wind turbines it is then! :)

Let's not forget that oil isn't equally distributed. It would be interesting to see how much is needed "per country". That should trim a lot of fat for us non-americans right there. ;p

That is an interesting Wiki site.
It says that the world uses just over a cubic mile of oil (CMO) each year. Other sources of energy are presently supplying equivalent to just under another 2 CMO each year. The numbers in the image though refer to what it would take to build each year for 50 years for each source to replace the CMO. You get into thousands of nuclear power stations, 1.6 millions of wind turbines and even 200 "3 Gorges Dams".

Divide each of those numbers by a factor of 3 or 4 to get electricity(useful work) from the oil. (Comparing apples to oranges. )

And don't forget the ever increasing amount of energy and material needed to get that oil out of the ground.

1.6 million == 300 to 500K wind turbines, etc..

Solar PV, thermal, and Wind turbines are a one time investment and their EROEI doubles, triples when it comes time to recycle/refurbish the system. I.E. Tiny fraction of initial energy investment required to refurbish/recycle.

Is combining the EPA and the DOE a good idea?


Burr's bill has 15 cosponsors, all of them global warming deniers: Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), John Thune (R-S.D.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ariz.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), David Vitter (R-La.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Lee (R-Utah).

Some in Congress would probably prefer that the IEA act more like Sargent Schultz from Hogan Heroes and start exclaiming (in a thick German accent):

"I Know Nothing!!!! Nothing!!!! I Know Nothing!!!!"

Someone upstream asked what EIA's budget is:

Here is a figure from 2008: ~ $95 million


According to these slides EIA was going to request $110.6 million for FY 2009.

Just a quick search...I imagine there is more/better/more current data out there...

There is a very good chance that this simply is a form of government information control akin to "embedding reporters" is in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Will the data still be compiled? I'd say definitely yes, but it could be CIA, DIA, or other "black" agencies that will never share it with the public instead of EIA with its legal charter to share. Or the government will rely on "private contractors" aka the Oil Companies themselves who will be paid top dollar to provide what they already compile.

Consider that "Black Program" budgets are believed to approach or exceed the open, public budget sizes. It's pretty trivial to "hide" politically uncomfortable or politically undoable things in Black Budgets - I've seen it done personally with an exceptionally large and well known program that was expensively popular during Reagan's administration once it become "obviously unnecessary". It never died in reality. Not one dollar cut.

Sadly, this kind of anti-democratic structure is basically what the US government is becoming. The US government is no longer "for and by the people".