Drumbeat: May 27, 2011

OPEC oil output rises in May - survey

(Reuters) - OPEC crude oil output is expected to rise in May as extra oil from Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Iraq counters a further decline in Libyan supply, a Reuters survey found on Friday.

Any extra supply from the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is likely to be welcomed by consumer nations concerned about the impact of oil prices well above $100 a barrel on economic growth and inflation.

High gas prices change holiday travel plans

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The high price of gas is forcing many Americans to change their travel plans for the Memorial Day weekend, according to a survey released Friday.

A CNN/Opinion Research poll showed that one in four adult Americans have altered their plans for this weekend because of high gas prices, and more than half say they have changed their overall vacation plans.

U.S. natgas rig count climbs 15 to 881-Baker Hughes

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the United States climbed 15 this week to 881, its first gain in three weeks, data from oil services firm Baker Hughes showed on Friday.

Ukraine faces huge gas transit losses by 2015

MOSCOW/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Russia's Nord Stream and South Stream pipelines could deprive Ukraine of the equivalent of two-thirds its gas transit volumes when they start up, threatening the country with significant losses in revenues.

Russia supplies Europe with one quarter of its gas needs and 80 percent of that gas is delivered via Ukraine. The remaining volumes travel through another western neighbour, Belarus.

Weathering The Storm: Above-Normal Hurricane Season Predicted

Though hurricane predictions vary depending on the source, four forecasts for the 2011 hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 30, agree that there will be an above normal number of hurricanes in the Atlantic this year.

Aramco discussing globalization strategy

HOUSTON - Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company in terms of oil reserves and production, is discussing a strategy to extend its operations into more than 50 countries in the next 10-20 years.

“We want to transform Saudi Aramco from a leading oil and gas company into a fully integrated, truly global energy and chemicals enterprise with extensive operations in the kingdom and around the globe,” said Aramco President and Chief Executive Officer Khalid A. Al-Falih in an interview posted on the company’s web site.

Why Keystone Pipeline Will Weaken the US

Big, long pipelines don't create resilient communities let alone healthy energy appetites for that matter. And in the case of Keystone XL the pipeline will actually raise, not depress prices at the pump. Nor will it improve energy security by one gallon. In the end the pipeline will simply become a Tar Sands Road to China. That's right, China.

That blunt analysis comes from the internationally celebrated oil and gas consultant Philip Verleger. The U.S. economist has studied the behaviour of oil markets for decades, recognizes hubris when he sees it, and has written 100 articles and books on the weird world of energy economics.

Floodwaters Shut Down 30 Oil Wells in Williston Area

About 30 oil wells were shut off ahead of the rising water on the Missouri River west of Williston and a few of those wells are now under water.

The prudence of a Chinese-funded security strategy for Af-Pak

Already China has saved the day in Central Asia, building large pipelines that have helped to snap a Russian monopoly on oil and natural gas shipments from the self-hobbling Turkmen and Kazakhs, an aim of western strategists since the mid-1990s. Now Pakistan has asked China to build it an Arabian Sea naval base. Should the world be alarmed? No it shouldn’t -- we ought to appreciate more Chinese-funded execution of western-backed strategic aims both there and in neighboring Afghanistan.

Tom Whipple - ENERGY: Peak Oil and the Great Recession

When in the late 1990s it was recognized that world oil production was likely to start declining early in the twenty-first century, petroleum geologists and other industry observers started talking and writing about the economic damage this event would cause. Serious economic consequences were a virtual certainty because, since the beginning of the industrial age, economic growth had required increasing quantities of fossil fuels.

During most of the twentieth century economic growth increased the demand for oil, which had come to serve as our primary transportation fuel, the source of energy for many production processes, and the raw material for an ever-increasing range of industrial products. Unless satisfactory substitutes could be found quickly, economic growth was likely to stop. And without alternatives, economic decline—if not a collapse—was likely.

In diplomatic shift, Russia calls for Gadhafi to step down

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has joined American and other European leaders in calling for Moammar Gadhafi to step down from power -- a shift that appears to indicate a closing diplomatic window for the longtime Libyan strongman.

Britain says Libya war entering new phase

(Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron said on Friday that NATO's war to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was entering a new phase and that the deployment of British helicopters would turn up the pressure.

Yemeni jets bomb opposition tribal forces

(CNN) -- In an escalation of Yemen's crisis, air force combat jets bombed tribal forces opposed to embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a senior defense official said.

Yemen Shortages Worsen as Street Violence Leaves Locals Searching for Food

Safiah Hussein al-Raimi stood for hours outside a store in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, for five straight days to buy a tank of cooking gas to prepare food for her husband and four children. She left empty handed each time.

“Life is becoming hell here and we can’t afford it,” al- Raimi, 43, said as she lined up during her fifth attempt. “We have no gas, no power, not enough food.”

Syrian forces fire on protesters; 8 killed

(CNN) -- Syrian security forces fired on anti-government protesters in several southern towns Friday, killing at least eight people, organizers said.

Bullets flew in the early morning hours as hundreds took to the streets in Dael to chant for support of the military, separate from the security forces, said the witness, who refused to be named for fear of his safety.

Fuel shortage in Egypt adds to the poor’s woes

CAIRO - How could a widow live on a monthly pension of LE240 ($40) and afford a butane gas cylinder for LE17? The answer to this question shows why consumers have to queue up for hours outside main outlets to buy a cylinder for the official price of LE4, particularly in times of shortage, when the price shoots up five times or even more.

These queues usually lack the least degree of order. Skirmishes and fights erupt easily, either because of little respect for the queue or because of short supply.

Pakistan’s energy dilemma

Currently, the proportion of energy from coal in Pakistan is negligible — only 0.10 percent of our total energy generation. The development of Thar coal can be a major catalyst for the nation to unite and work towards common objectives.

NEPRA raises power tariff as people demand electricity

ISLAMABAD: The average Pakistani is being handed a double deuce by the electricity generation companies. While the load shedding hours increase steadily, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority has authorised a power tariff hike.

Power cuts darken mood in Pakistan

As Pakistan’s leaders continue to agonise over the US’s breach of their country’s sovereignty following the killing of Osama bin Laden its people are more concerned with something closer to home: power cuts.

Nationwide power shortages have brought protesters on to the streets of Pakistan in recent days with many parts of the country suffering “load-shedding” when power utilities, long starved of investment, cut back supply. The result is that as the stifling summer heat rises many households are lucky to receive eight hours of electricity a day.

The air conditioners and fans cut out in near 50C summer heat and violence soon follows.

Motorists run dry as Sharjah follows Dubai with petrol shortage

SHARJAH // For the second time in just a few weeks some motorists found themselves unable to refuel their vehicles because of a petrol shortage .

Last month, petrol stations in Dubai ran short of fuel because of a "hold-up in logistics operations after tanker lorries failed to arrive to the loading decks on schedule".

Vietnam: Illegal petrol speculation leads to shortage

HCM CITY — Stiffer penalties should be imposed on filling stations to prevent speculation at petrol retailers around the country, according to industry experts.

Vuong Thai Dung, deputy general director of the Viet Nam National Petroleum Corporation (Petrolimex), said Government regulations required that petrol retailers be supervised by their wholesalers to create a more transparent petrol manufacturing chain.

Fuel shortage: Nine days dry

SKARDU: The damage to Alam Bridge, Baltistan’s only connection with the rest of the world, has not been repaired despite the passage of nine days, leading to scarcity of petrol and diesel severely hitting the two districts of Baltistan.

Fracking may change South Africa's energy future

The discovery of natural gas through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, could be a game changer for the South African economy, believes Philip Lloyd, a professor at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

Nigeria signs gas supply deals with energy firms

(Reuters) - Nigeria signed domestic gas supply agreements with some of its biggest foreign energy partners on Friday, deals which Oil Minister Deziani Allison-Madueke said would help meet the needs of its expanding power sector.

Nigerian youth employed to guard oil pipelines

Nigeria's government has employed 12,000 young people to protect oil and gas pipelines in the Niger Delta.

Greenpeace and watchdog attack 'scaremongering' energy firms

A fresh row has erupted over the chancellor's £2bn energy windfall tax after green campaigners accused oil and gas companies of "scaremongering" and making "bogus" claims in their bid to reverse the controversial increase.

Greenpeace and Platform, the oil and gas watchdog, said: "Threatening the loss of jobs and investment is the oldest trick in the political lobby book. Given that the UK tax regime is acknowledged as being one of the most favourable in the world for energy companies, claims by this vocal and influential lobby need to be rigorously examined by independent bodies, rather than be taken at face value."

The True Cost of Gasoline: Three questions with Andy Chu of A123 Systems

In September, A123 Systems Inc. opened the largest lithium-ion-battery factory in North America, thanks in part to a $249 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. A123 also plans to open a coating plant in Romulus, Mich., with the help of $125 million in state incentives.

Shell may partner with Rosneft in Arctic offshore oil venture

Royal Dutch Shell RDS.B-N could become a partner in Arctic oil exploration of Russia’s biggest producer Rosneft, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Friday.

BP is not out of the picture, he added, speaking to journalists at his residence outside of Moscow.

Indonesia Energy Profile: Leading Exporter Of Coal And Natural Gas – Analysis

Indonesia has the largest population in Southeast Asia and the fourth largest population in the world (behind China, India, and the United States). It is also the world’s third-fastest growing economy.

Although Indonesia has been a net importer of oil since 2004, it is the sixth largest net exporter of natural gas, and the second largest net exporter of coal. However, as a result of inadequate infrastructure and Indonesia’s complex business environment, Indonesia has struggled to attract investment sufficient to meet its energy development goals.

Asia's shaky water and energy balancing act

SINGAPORE — Much of central China along the Yangtze River is in the grip of its worst energy crisis in years. The electricity cuts for industry and households have been exacerbated by a five-month drought that has dried up rivers, reducing hydroelectric generating capacity and leaving many people and large swaths of farmland short of water.

It is a symptom of a key challenge for China in the 21st century. The world's most populous nation and second-biggest economy must make difficult choices between two vital resources, energy and fresh water. Both help drive economic expansion, grow food and raise living standards.

Data Centers: The Energy Problem

Data center energy use is rising at such a high rate that the trend could spur consumer surcharges for data use. Imagine getting hit with a fee for posting on Twitter or Facebook, buying gifts online, or paying bills on the Web.

Think about it: We pay package delivery companies a surcharge for the fuel used to transport our packages. Might we one day pay an online retailer a “data center energy surcharge” for the electricity used to power the data center that processes our purchase?

"Perfect storm" creating another Sudan crisis

(AP) TURALEI, Sudan - A top U.S. official warned of a humanitarian crisis Friday over the north's invasion of a disputed territory as southern towns taking in tens of thousands of fleeing villagers were running short of food, fuel and shelter.

A turning-point we miss at our peril

We have the choice of burning all the oil left and hacking down all the remaining rainforests - or saving humanity.

Intl. Energy Agency: Transforming Electrical Generation is Key to Fighting Climate Change

In a book released today, the 28-member country International Energy Agency, states that the threat of climate change demands an “unprecedented transformation” in how electric power is produced.

A different kind of carbon trading tax

Let’s look at the bigger picture. Spare capacity is an indisputable fundamental factor in oil prices, but it is only what gets the whooping-and-cheering Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and their clients to the casino table. Once they are there, they are standing alongside traditional traders, and pouring their extremely high net worth into the same pot. It’s that piling up of the cash on the table that pumps air into the oil price. Should we ignore that pile while the investment banks divert our attention to the nice flowers and pretty birds? No, we shouldn’t.

Green light ahead

The number of alternative-fuel vehicles in the state has exploded since 2007, from 14,000 to more than 70,000. However, they still represent a fraction of the vehicles on the road: 1.7 percent. Of the state’s 4.2 million vehicles, including cars, trucks, and buses, 4.1 million are powered by gas.

The energy-efficient vehicles cover a wide variety of systems, ranging from hybrids that use electric and gas, compressed natural gas, electric, flexible fuel, and propane. By far the most common are the hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius, with more than 40,000 on the road in the state.

Off-grid city of the future being built near Tokyo

Residents of Kanagawa, one Tokyo’s adjoining prefectures, will doubtless be pleased to hear today that they’re to get a shiny new high-tech neighbor in the form of a futuristic smart town being built in Fujisawa City, 50 kilometers west of the capital.

The project, led by Panasonic and including eight other firms, will see Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town spring up on 19 hectares of land that will become home to some 3,000 people by March 2014.

Why ComEd's Smart Grid and Rate Hike Might Not Be a Bad Thing

The Illinois Commerce Commission approved ComEd's request for a rate hike that will cost consumers a little over three dollars a month, it's estimated. Lisa Madigan has been pounding the utility over the rate hike, leading to concessions from ComEd. But the end game, the implementation of a "smart grid" that would put the onus on consumers to get the three bucks back through decreased usage, might actually be good—for the public generally, if not all consumers individually—in the long run.

Iran says nuclear bomb would be "strategic mistake"

VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran's nuclear envoy said on Friday it would be a "strategic mistake" to build atom bombs, dismissing what a leading Western expert cited as evidence suggesting Tehran was seeking the means to do just that.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), also insisted during a public debate that sanctions and the Stuxnet computer virus had failed to slow the Islamic Republic's disputed nuclear program.

Japan wants Tepco to pay small biz for nuke crisis - Nikkei

(Nikkei) - The Japanese government wants Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) to pay small and midsize businesses half their earnings lost till May as provisional compensation for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the Nikkei business daily reported.

John Michael Greer: A fashion for austerity

The tempest in a media teapot over the apocalyptic predictions of California radio evangelist Harold Camping, it seems to me, provides a useful glimpse into the state of the collective imagination here in America. Camping, for those of my readers who somehow managed to miss the flurry of news stories, announced some months ago that the Rapture – the sudden miraculous teleportation of every devout Christian from earth to Heaven, which plays a central role in one account of the end times that’s popular just now in American Protestant circles – was going to happen at 6 pm last Saturday.

How defining planetary boundaries can transform our approach to growth

Our planet’s ability to provide an accommodating environment for humanity is being challenged by our own activities. The environment—our life-support system—is changing rapidly from the stable Holocene state of the last 12,000 years, during which we developed agriculture, villages, cities, and contemporary civilizations, to an unknown future state of significantly different conditions. One way to address this challenge is to determine “safe boundaries” based on fundamental characteristics of our planet and to operate within them. By “boundary,” we mean a specific point related to a global-scale environmental process beyond which humanity should not go. Identifying our planet’s intrinsic, nonnegotiable limits is not easy, but here we specify nine areas that are most in need of well-defined planetary boundaries, and we explain the steps needed to begin defining and living within them.

Why Time Is Short Now That We're Past Peak Oil

The only thing that could prevent another oil shock from happening before the end of 2012 would be another major economic contraction. The emerging oil data continues to tell a tale of ever-tightening supplies that will soon be exceeded by rising global demand. This time, we will not be able to blame speculators for the steep prices we experience; instead, we will have nothing to blame but geology.

The case for a disorderly energy descent

The energy descent from peak oil production imposes decades of contraction in the global economy. An orderly contraction, particularly in the US, is not likely for a number of reasons. This is a summary of the case for a disorderly descent, garnered from many sources, a couple of which are listed at the end of the essay.

One reason has to do with the nature of the oil extraction and processing industry. According to industry experts, once existing oil wells are shut down, the costs of restarting production are high. The same is true for refinery shut-downs. Also, refineries cannot be economically run at less than capacity. Finally, oil exploration is an increasingly costly and lengthy process. These supply chain problems magnify oil price volatility as it interacts with global economic contraction, thereby punctuating economic behavior with ever deeper stall-outs.

The China bubble: An export-led development model

Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Japan gradually strengthened the yen so as to support the development of a consumer culture, and consumption rose to more than half of GDP. In 1985, Tokyo let its currency appreciate more rapidly. But the result was simply a spectacular inflation of real estate and stock prices. The bubble’s collapse lasted more than a decade, with stock prices scraping bottom in 2003 (before plummeting even further after the commencement of the current global crisis in 2008). Export-oriented industries could not adapt to a domestically led economy because there was insufficient consumer demand. And so rapid growth turned to stagnation, which has persisted up to the present.

Japan still runs on exports, but now government spending is an essential prop for the economy. Twenty years of fiscal stimulus have done little more than stave off even more serious economic contraction, while government debt has grown to nearly 200 percent of GDP.

Big pain at the gas pumps

Consumers are no doubt happy that oil prices are heading south for the time being. And while there’s understandable anger that gasoline prices haven’t come down as quickly, there’s typically a lag effect, so analysts expect pump prices to drop further. But here’s the thing. High oil and fuel prices aren’t necessarily what we should be most worried about. The real threat to the economy—to households and businesses alike—is the sheer unpredictability of energy costs. Over the past five years the price of west Texas crude, the primary American benchmark for oil, has yo-yoed from US$60 a barrel to US$145 in 2008, all the way back down to US$30 during the recession, then up again to US$114, before settling this year around US$100. That last drop, of nearly 13 per cent, occurred over four days, a shift that a decade ago might have occurred over the span of months.

Such extreme swings in energy prices are leaving companies and consumers paralyzed. If you’re a business manager, how do you decide whether to invest or hire when you have no idea how much one of your largest expenses will cost even a month from now? For prospective home or car buyers, it’s a similar story. Do you buy a big home in the suburbs and risk high gas prices for your daily commute, or pay more to live in the city and skip the car altogether? “The volatility can actually slow investment behaviour, and when you do that, you begin to slow the pace at which the economy can potentially grow,” says Kenneth Medlock, a fellow in energy studies at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. “It’s putting a chokehold on investment.”

In other words, wild swings in oil prices threaten to cripple the economy. And experts say it could get much worse.

Oil rises to near $101 on weaker US dollar

SINGAPORE – Oil prices crept higher to near $101 a barrel Friday in Asia as a weaker dollar overrode signs of tepid U.S. economic growth.

Japan prices rise for first time in over 2 years

TOKYO — Japan's consumer prices in April rose for the first time in more than two years on a spike in energy and tobacco prices, the government said Friday.

Japan's core consumer price index, which excludes fresh food, climbed 0.6 percent last month from a year earlier, marking the first year-on-year increase since December 2008, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said.

Now, Air India flies into jet fuel crisis

With Air India defaulting on payment of jet fuel bills, state-run oil firms have restricted supplies of fuel to the extent of the national air carrier's ability to make payment in cash, but supplies have not been stopped.

At no airport have supplies to Air India been stopped, officials at the three oil marketing companies said.

India May Raise Diesel Rates to Cut $44 Billion Loss

India may increase diesel, kerosene and cooking gas prices to support state-run refiners facing revenue losses of 2 trillion rupees ($44 billion) this fiscal year, an oil ministry official said today. Energy shares surged.

Stuart Staniford: Global Shipping Capacity

Obviously, oil is being conserved somewhere, since production growth has slowed down. However, it's not being conserved by shipping less. Instead, the rapid growth of China and other developing markets is driving a pronounced expansion in shipping capacity, even in the face of the 2005-2008 oil shock and the great recession.

There has also been a strain of thought in the peak oil community that oil trade would decline much more rapidly than global oil production post peak (exemplified in extreme form by Jeff Brown's export land model). Note the red band in the first graph above, which represents the capacity of oil tankers. If this is any guide, the onset of a plateau in oil production has been associated with increases in oil trade, not decreases.

In Memorial Day Forays, an Economic Snapshot

Are you going away this Memorial Day weekend, and how far are you going to drive?

A lot of economists would like to know. The answers, when gathered for the entire population, will tell them a lot about where the nation’s economy is going.

Global LNG-Summer demand continues to push Asian LNG prices higher

PERTH/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Asian spot prices for liquefied natural gas (LNG) rose to around $13.50 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) as demand picks up ahead of summer, but trade was limited by a lack of ships to transport the fuel.

"Asia is still seeing demand for cargoes although prices are holding more steady," ICAP analysts said in a note.

China Lures Crude From U.S. as Colombia’s Ecopetrol Targets Asia Oil Sales

Ecopetrol SA, the Colombian oil producer which expects to more than double output this decade, said it plans to ship a greater share of its crude to Asia as growing demand in China competes for supplies with the U.S.

The company may no longer ship the majority of its crude to the U.S. in 10 years because Asia sales will be more profitable, Chief Executive Officer Javier Gutierrez said yesterday in an interview in Bogota. A pipeline the company is weighing that would carry oil to a new port on the Pacific coast to supply Asian refineries may also attract Chinese investment, he said.

Norway shipping magnate refutes oil price charges

A Norwegian shipping magnate on Thursday refuted claims by U.S. commodity regulators that companies he owns manipulated crude oil futures prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange in 2008.

Royal Oyster Group says US sanctions unfair

Royal Oyster Group, one of two Dubai companies facing US sanctions over trade with Iran, says it has been unfairly targeted.

The company denied supplying oil products to Iran, saying it had merely shipped "base oils" from Iranian refineries to buyers in Oman, India and the UAE.

Iranian envoy says sanctions have not affected country's disputed nuclear program

VIENNA - Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency says sanctions against his country have not had any impact on its disputed nuclear activities.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh says the same applies to the effect of the Stuxnet computer worm late last year and that "no matter what, the Iranian people are more determined to continue."

Cnooc: Confident Will Achieve Full Year Output Target This Year

HONG KONG -(Dow Jones)- Cnooc Ltd., China's largest offshore oil and gas producer by capacity, expects to meet its full-year output target despite the shutdown of four oil fields in the Bohai Bay last month due to a malfunction, Chief Executive Yang Hua said Friday.

Cnooc said in March it planned to raise crude-oil and natural gas output in 2011, targeting production of 355 million-365 million barrels of oil equivalent, up 8%-11% from 328.8 million barrels in 2010.

Dewa seeks $1.5 billion abroad for private power plant

Dubai's state utility has begun an international campaign to finance its first private power and water plant.

Officials from the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) plan to visit Japan and Europe next month to pitch a US$1.5 billion (Dh5.5bn) power and water desalination project to banks, said Waleed Salman, Dewa's vice president of strategy and business development.

Vietnam says Chinese boats harassed oil exploration ship

(Reuters) - Chinese patrol boats challenged a Vietnamese ship exploring for oil in the South China Sea, damaging equipment and warning the ship that it was violating Chinese territory, a Vietnamese official said on Friday.

Do Van Hau, deputy chief executive of state oil and gas group Petrovietnam, said he had asked the government to make "the strongest possible" protest to China over the incident, which took place early on Thursday about 120 km (80 miles) off the south-central coast of Vietnam, state media reported.

S. China Sea Oil Rush Risks Clashes as U.S. Bolsters Vietnam

(Bloomberg) -- Vietnam and the Philippines are pushing forward oil and gas exploration projects in areas of the South China Sea claimed by China, sparking a fresh clash in one of the world’s busiest shipping corridors.

BP asks judge to dismiss many spill claims

BP PLC is asking a federal judge to dismiss most of the court claims filed against the oil giant by businesses and individuals who say they suffered economic damage from last year's massive Gulf oil spill.

Big US oil companies face growing concern on fracking

DALLAS/SAN RAMON, Calif. (Reuters) - Large blocks of investors in the two biggest U.S. oil companies on Wednesday demanded more disclosure about the environmental risks of extracting oil and gas through hydraulic fracturing.

Venezuela: US sanctions to hurt US businesses most

Venezuela's foreign minister says U.S. sanctions against the country's state oil company will primarily affect American businesses.

Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro says the U.S. sanctions "affect businesspeople of the United States, not us."

Chavez's new message for opponents: 'Let me work!'

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Hugo Chavez seems to have everything a president could want: power to legislate by executive decree, a bonanza of oil earnings and political allies who dominate nearly all major public institutions.

So Venezuela's opposition is vexed by a government campaign accusing opponents of blocking his programs as the country heads toward presidential elections in 2012.

Japan moves to protect children as new nuclear leak revealed

(Reuters) - Japan will pay schools near the quake-ravaged Fukushima nuclear power plant to remove radioactive top soil and set a lower radiation exposure limit for schoolchildren after a growing outcry over health risks.

The Education Ministry triggered protests in April when it set a radiation exposure limit for children of 20 millisieverts per year, the same dosage the International Commission on Radiation Protection recommends for nuclear plant workers.

'Tornado Alley' nuclear reactor, 150 miles outside Joplin, Mo., not fully twister-proof

The closest nuclear power plant to tornado-ravaged Joplin, Mo., was singled out weeks before the storm for being vulnerable to twisters.

Inspections triggered by Japan's nuclear crisis found that some emergency equipment and storage sites at the Wolf Creek nuclear plant in southeastern Kansas might not survive a tornado.

Hamilton: Higher oil prices fuelling dirtier, not cleaner projects

Has supply peaked? It depends. If you’re talking conventional oil production, some energy economists and analysts have said it happened between 2006 and 2008. Others say 2012 will be the year, and many more say it will be before 2020.

It’s safe to say, then, we’re in the “peak oil” zone, conventionally speaking. The evidence of this is that oil prices have found a near-permanent home in triple-digit territory.

So, has there been a mad rush to invest in cleaner, relatively more affordable alternatives to oil? Not really — it’s been more like a casual stroll, even though such alternatives are highly competitive with oil above $100 (U.S.) a barrel.

Critical Metals: Investing at a Crossroad

Byron Capital Markets believes in a long-term secular shift toward energy efficiency, both through new technologies and weight saving. This shift will be driven because of increasing prices for fossil fuels. While I, personally, am not a peak oil theorist, I am also realistic enough to understand that feeding the Brazil, Russia, India and China beast with cheap oil will demand a neglect of the environment that not many oil-producing regions will sustain. We believe that electrification of transport fleets and maximization of our electrical grids are important future areas of development. Electrifying cars will pull on materials such as rare earths (for their weight-saving and efficiency gains), lithium (for batteries), vanadium (for use in better and stronger metal alloys, as well as in next-generation batteries), graphite (lithium battery anodes), scandium (advanced aluminum alloys), and barium (for ultracapacitors). Maximizing the existing electrical grid demands storage and more generating capacity, so critical materials include uranium (in reactors), lithium and vanadium (for storage). Copper is also an increasingly critical commodity.

Making Money On Triple-Digit Oil

Speaking of competing forecasts on oil, we were given a big reason to doubt whether it should cost over $100 per barrel recently when the CEO of Exxon Mobil, Rex Tillerson, made comments earlier this month at a Senate hearing about $60-70 being fair value, if based purely on supply and demand. His explanation for the current excess value was that price was being driven by the speculation of big oil companies and the high-frequency trading firms we just talked about. I wonder if any of the Senators thought to ask, “Is Exxon involved in this speculation?”

The more important question is whether or not Tillerson is correct. The market seems to be giving a much different answer than this expert. And most of that answer revolves around two synergistic themes. First is the idea of scarcity for a non-renewable resource. This idea often comes by the moniker “peak oil,” symbolizing that we may have seen, or are about to see in the next few years, the maximum levels of reserves globally.

Energy Myths of the Left

From confused "peak oil" theorists to confused Congressmen, it's all but impossible to hear a discussion of US energy policy without hearing the left's tired refrain: "The United States currently uses 25% of the world oil production but has only 2% of world reserves." The left uses this misinformation to argue against domestic oil drilling, claiming that with only two percent of the world's reserves, we can't possibly have enough oil in the ground to matter.

It's a line which reminds me of Mark Twain's wisdom (which he attributed to Benjamin Disraeli) that "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics." Twain would be proud of these haters of fossil fuels whose "statistics" fall apart upon examination of a couple of definitions and a few pieces of data.

Garden Tour of Edible Delights

Where once water-hungry lawns grew, 11 families within a six-block radius of Laguna Beach’s Oak Street tilled and turned the earth into a cornucopia of homegrown produce and an edible garden village.

From patchwork quilts to elegant designs of wild fennel, trellised beans, trailing blackberries and potted potatoes, the public is invited to take a bicycle or walking tour of Oak Village’s vegetable and fruit gardens between 9 a.m. and noon Saturday, May 28. A $10 donation is requested.

2012 Chevy Cruze Eco: Mileage gain, no pain

The Eco version of the Chevrolet Cruze compact sedan is the fuel-mileage special. It currently holds the highest highway rating (42 mpg) for any gasoline-power car sold in the U.S.

German Steel Industry Warns Of Rising Costs In Move to Renewable Energy

Germany’s steel industry said it fears costs for electricity could at least double to 400 million euros annually as the country seeks to move toward renewable sources of energy.

Hans Juergen Kerkhoff, president of the German steel association, said in an e-mailed statement that the country’s renewable energy bill would “deal a new blow to the steel industry.”

Starfish Prefers Energy Efficiency Technologies Over Solar, Wave Power

Starfish Ventures, Australia’s biggest venture capital fund, plans to invest in businesses focused on energy efficiency and avoid solar and wave power until a carbon price makes the technologies more attractive.

Light Bulb Saving Time

BUNNY WILLIAMS, the no-nonsense decorator known for her lush English-style rooms, is laying in light bulbs like canned goods. Incandescent bulbs, that is — 60 and 75 watters — because she likes a double-cluster lamp with a high- and a low-watt bulb, one for reading, one for mood.

“Every time I go to Costco, I buy more wattage,” Ms. Williams said the other day. She is as green as anybody, she added, but she can’t abide the sickly hue of a twisty compact fluorescent bulb, though she’s tried warming it up with shade liners in creams and pinks. Nor does she care for the cool blue of an LED.

A Bright Side to the Bulb Changeover

Interior designers who use LED lighting don't have to worry about returning regularly to replace incandescent bulbs that have burned out.

New Mileage Stickers Include Greenhouse Gas Data

WASHINGTON — The federal government unveiled new fuel economy window stickers on Wednesday, for vehicles starting with the 2013 model year, that for the first time include estimated annual fuel costs and the vehicle’s overall environmental impact.

The new labels, which replace a five-year-old design that provided only basic information about estimated fuel economy, represent the broadest overhaul in the sticker program’s 35-year history. There will be different labels for conventional vehicles, plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles, with cars running solely on battery power estimated to get 99 miles per gallon.

Post Primer: Who’s calling dibs on the North Pole?

Denmark has leaked information about planting the Danish flag in the North Pole ahead of a meeting with the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. (In case you’re not up on your UN commissions, that’s the one that decides which country should have sovereignty over the far north.) So, what’s the rush? The North Pole’s seabed is extremely useful to each country that wishes to claim it, and Russia, Canada, Norway, the United States and Denmark are all eligible to launch programs showing that the much-coveted Arctic sector should belong to their country. Below, what you need to know about who’s calling dibs on the North Pole.

GOP presidential hopefuls shift on global warming

WASHINGTON—For Republican presidential contenders who once supported combatting global warming, the race is heating up.

Faced with an activist right wing that questions the science linking pollution to changes in the Earth's climate and also disdains big government, most of the GOP contenders have stepped back from their previous positions on global warming. Some have apologized outright for past support of proposals to reduce heat-trapping pollution. And those who haven't fully recanted are under pressure to do so.

Christie Pulls New Jersey From 10-State Climate Initiative

Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday that New Jersey would become the first state to withdraw from a 10-state trading system, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, declaring it an ineffective way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The decision delighted Republicans who have introduced bills in the New Jersey Legislature to repeal a law authorizing the state’s participation in the program. But it dismayed environmental advocates, who called it a serious blow to the state’s efforts to reduce emissions from power plants and foster a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

EPA asks NJ to reconsider leaving emissions pact

Federal environmental regulators are urging Gov. Chris Christie to reconsider a decision to pull New Jersey from a 10-state greenhouse gas reduction program.

Sea Level at the Jersey Shore Will Rise One Foot by 2050

Jersey beaches bring in big tourism revenue for the state and are a popular summer destination for local residents, but the rapidly changing environment may cause a shift along the sandy shores.

Sea level along the Jersey Shore is expected to rise by one foot by 2050, according to Ken Miller, a geology professor at Rutgers University.

Island Nations May Keep Some Sovereignty if Rising Seas Make Them Uninhabitable

NEW YORK -- Global sea level rise has put a handful of nations at risk of extinction -- small island states in the Pacific and Indian oceans. But this week, a collection of international lawyers and politicians have begun work to ensure that doesn't happen.

Challenge for our generation

Many native-born Australians, and those born overseas who migrated to Australia in search of a better life, did not anticipate that our expectations might be prematurely curtailed by population growth, peak oil or climate change. A decade ago, when we celebrated the new millennium, such ideas were hardly on the radar.

Not on our radar, perhaps, but not entirely unexpected. A little thought would have told us that exponential growth in our use of natural resources is bound to end when those resources run out, or if damaging by-products compromise our environment.

Here is a link to a fun advertising for electric car http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xixskx_renault-electriques-un-film-publ...
It's in French but the video is funy even without the sound. Their message is that we already use electricty for so many things, why not for car... Of course it is just an ad.

LOL when I saw the miniature jerrycan. Just yesterday I inventoried my old ones after seeing a rusty old one go for $50 on e-bay.


Super Typhoon Songda, which according to Weather Underground will form shortly as a Category 5 storm with 156+ mph winds, will take a northeasterly direction and 2 days later will pass right above Fukushima. The good news: by the time it passes over Fukushima, Songda will be merely a Tropical storm. The bad news: by the time it passes over Fukushima, Songda will be a Tropical storm. As the latest dispersion projection from ZAMG shows, over the next two days the I-131 plume will be covering all of the mainland.

RE: Stuart Staniford: Global Shipping Capacity

If this is any guide, the onset of a plateau in oil production has been associated with increases in oil trade, not decreases.

Nice graphs on shipping capacity in that blog post. The conclusion supposition that increases in shipping capacity represent increases in oil trade is off-the-mark, IMO. Off the top of my head, What is missing from this complex picture is:

1) Charters of oil tankers at current prices are not enough to cover the shipper's cost because of overcapacity. A good indicator of overcapacity is the baltic dirty index. A low charter price should mean that much of this capacity is sitting idle. I know they are converting some tankers to carry LNG instead of oil because of this issue.
2) Lately, I have seen reports of slow steaming to save bunker fuel. This increases the trip length by at least 300% (I am guessing). You could actually have more ships chartered and less oil being shipped which is to a certain extent true with the current price of oil.
3) Ships are ordered to be built at least four or five years before they are delivered. Overcapacity today is a result of decisions made before the peak in global oil exports. Capacity in no way reflects the level of current exports.

4) Single hulled oil tankers were being phased out by 2010. That resulted in a lot of new build double hulls, and
tanker over capacity.

You are guessing wrong with 300% increase trip times. 30% increased trip times would halve fuel consumption for many carriers. I think consumption goes up with the square of speed, near to the designed sailing speeds. However, I am no engineer...

If you go to extreme, 300% is valid. However, it looks like 30% is probably average.

Slow Steaming Brings Fuels, Lubes into Spotlight

With rising bunker prices and growing charterer pressure to reduce costs, slow steaming looks set to stay. Most container vessels have cut cruising speeds from 22-25 knots to 18-20 knots, but in the case of extra slow steaming, to as low as 8-12 knots, which significantly increases stresses and strains on a two or four stroke marine engine.

Another link

Meanwhile, a chartering source said slow steaming may not change the current tonnage position in the market. "Slow steaming will not change the market situation. The vessel's expected time of arrival will be delayed by just two days," the chartering source said, adding that this may not drastically alter the availability of tonnage in the Persian Gulf.

A different opinion. Link

BROKERS today told Fairplay slow steaming has improved VLCC rates this year and has reduced the Persian Gulf tonnage glut. Rates on the benchmark gulf/Japan route improved to Worldscale 52 this week, up from W47 last week. But owners have little reason to cheer, said one broker: W52 is still insufficient to cover operating costs.

GE sees solar cheaper than fossil fuels in 5 years

GE sees solar cheaper than fossil fuels in 5 years

How many times have time periods been projected for solar to overtake FF in price? I remember similar type statements being made many decades ago. But just like I said then, I'll say it again, if it can be done, do it.

"...if it can be done, do it."

A little patience, my friend:


Doin' it!

Re: Republican candidates who have reversed their positions on global warming. I think it is reasonable to conclude that this was based on perceptions of voters rather than an honest assessment of the science or consideration of new evidence refuting the inevitably of climate change.

Given the probable consequences of global warming, both in the future and currently, this seems like one of the most immoral stances I can imagine. But there is always doubt. I guess that is how they assuage their consciences, if any. Now, of course, if a man will strap his dog to the top of his station wagon and head cross country, I suppose he is capable of just about anything.

From stem cell research to evolutionary biology to global warming, the Republican party has fully embraced anti-science and agnotology. At some point, one hopes, delusion must run aground on the rocks of reality.

At some point, one hopes, delusion must run aground on the rocks of reality.

But stupidity is a pretty hard nut to crack.

Some are interpreting the recent NY congressional election (dems won a seat in a Republican district) as signs the R's have have gone too far. I'm more in the wait and see if it (the change) lasts camp.

The analysis that's been published leans heavily to the theory that the Republicans' problem was that they switched from their position of two years ago — we'll protect Medicare at all costs — to a position of doing away with Medicare as it currently exists. The district is reported to have a sizable population of older voters who were outraged by the proposed changes.

If the Republicans have been getting any heat from their constituents about their stands on energy and science (as opposed to Medicare), it hasn't been getting much play in the media.

Neither republicans nor democrats can accurately diagnose our problems, so I'm not going to pay much attention to them anymore.

We have a very large and growing cumulative debt that can't be payed back, a fiat currency backed only by power and oil that is looking increasingly suspicious and is slowly being rejected by the rest of the world, declining marginal returns on complexity at the federal level - especially when it comes to our expensive wars, transfer payments, and healthcare, an infrastructure that must be radically altered to adjust to the peak oil age (mostly reducing sprawl and building rail), and no sustainable immigration/population policy.

We are filling this country with more and more people (even as the people age), trying to keep every last one of them alive forever, and hoping for some magical growth that will pay back the debt and cover up massive fraud, especially in the mortgage markets, which, if revealed, would surely bring down all of our major banks.

Our entire economy is heavily dependent on what is now a declining energy resource - and this is a consequence of both the built infrastructure as well as the size of this country. It takes oil to ship things around! And even if we were to somehow build rail to do the job, it would take alot longer to move things and people, and would not result in the type of growth that could pay back our debts.

We seem to lack a coherent foreign policy. Some sort of strange mishmash of controlling Arab populations, paying off their leaders, and hoping that the oil flows to us and that there are no more "terrorist" attacks, ever again. And if there are, that would mean we would double down! And, always lurking in the shadows, is our relationship with Israel, which would almost definitely mean more war if they were ever threatened.

All the while, we have one party that thinks things will improve if we just teach creation myths in schools, make abortion illegal, and return us to the dark ages. We have another party that thinks things will improve if only more money can be extracted from the productive middle class, and payed out to the favored group of the day, who so desperately need all the help they can get now that everybody in society has been rendered sick or dependent.

Now, of course we still have the most dynamic economy in the world, and North America is the place you want to be in the event of a genuine global collapse.

But the point is that a society, even one as rich as America, can only take so many hits. It's basically over now, and it's not worth paying attention to the political kabuki theatre.

Love Matt Taibbi...none the less it's probably a good idea to pass stuff like this through the TOD filter.

While, most of the article is about 2008 it does imply current trends.

I suppose some of the things to filter are the claim that the Saudis were in fact having trouble selling their crude in world markets (maybe so at $140/bbl) and had to discount it and the claim that they told Bush to reign in the Wall Street speculators.

Wikileaks: Speculators Helped Cause Oil Bubble

When oil prices surged to a ridiculous $147 a barrel in the summer of 2008, conventional wisdom held that normal supply and demand issues were the cause. Both the Bush administration (in the form of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission) and most of Wall Street (through both media figures and market analysts) blamed such factors as increases in oil demand from the Chinese industrial machine, and the failure of Americans to conserve, for the surge in crude prices.


Well, thanks to Wikileaks, we now know (imbedded link to McClatchy in the article) that when the Bush administration reached out to the Saudis in the summer of '08 to ask them to increase oil production to lower prices, the Saudis responded by saying they were having a hard time finding buyers for their oil as it was, and instead asked the Bush administration to rein in Wall Street speculators.


For starters, why didn't Saudi Arabia simply lower their prices if they couldn't find buyers. The fact that SA implied that speculators were causing high prices means nothing.

Pete 'mistakingly' cut and pasted the wrong part of the Taibbi piece.

This portion shows what Wikileaks said about Saudi concerns.

The Wiki documents show that the Saudis had long ago concluded that this increased investor flow was a threat to disrupt the markets. An embassy cable from 2007 recounted a meeting U.S. officials had with Yasser Mufti, an Aramco planner. "The Saudi analysts indicated a link between higher oil prices and the influx of investor funds into the oil markets," it read.

The cables also show that the Saudis urged the Americans to enact reforms to rein in Wall Street, calling for speculative limits and other changes. It also showed that some Saudi officials believed that speculation added as much as $40 to the oil price during the height of the bubble.

All of this is significant because both the Bush administration and the Obama administration have denied this narrative to various degrees. The CFTC only recently admitted that speculation played a role in the 2008 mess, having originally (and stubbornly) blamed supply and demand issues. Subsequent analyses have shown that the Saudi position, that worldwide demand for oil never increased nearly enough to account for the gigantic 2008 price spike, was almost certainly correct.

More on this to come later. Given the surge in commodities prices in the last year (which may in part have caused the rise in food prices that led to disturbances in the Middle East) and the Obama administration's seeming reluctance still to rein in speculators, it's remarkable that this issue doesn't get more press. It'll be interesting to see how much ink these Wiki cables ....

Strange that Saudi, or anyone else would blame US speculators for the world price of oil since the price of oil in the US is the cheapest oil in the world. The "Speculator Driven" WTI closed out last week at a price of $99.49 a barrel. Yet even in the US oil was really selling at almost $5 above that figure. And the world oil price was $9 above the speculator driven price.
This Week In Petroleum, Crude Oil Crude Oil Estimated Contract Prices

Total OPEC      	   108.38
Total Non-OPEC		   108.63
Total World		   108.48
United States		   104.23

Those U.S. speculators are doing their very best to keep prices down but world supply and demand keeps raising its ugly head and pushing prices up.

Ron P.

The Saudis have a vested interested in keeping non-conventional oil off the market. There is a lot more non-conventional oil than conventional oil in the world, and much of it is probably economic at current oil prices. For instance, the price of WTI at the moment is about $100/bbl, whereas Canada has considerably more oil than Saudi Arabia that they can produce for about half that price.

The main thing that frightens the Saudis is that if investors knew that Saudi Arabia did not have the oil it claims it has, and knew that oil prices would continue to remain high, the investors would put their money into non-conventional resources and flood the market with non-conventional oil. This is already occurring in North America - Canadian non-conventional oil is backing Saudi oil out of the American market and depressing the price of WTI because the production costs on Canadian oil sands are far below the price of Saudi oil.

Saudi Arabia is very much at risk from this trend, so you can count on them to lie about 1) the oil reserves they actually have and, 2) who is really responsible for current high oil prices. My reading of the situation is that 1) they do not have as much oil as they claim they have, and 2) it is their inability to meet demand that is causing high prices.

And then there is the Orinoco Belt heavy oil/tar....

As James Galbraith puts it the oil market traditionally didn't have a floor, so one was constructed by the swing producer(s). But now, on the cusp of declining oil production and in the midst of economic dynamism in a huge swath of the world, the oil market doesn't have a ceiling, other than an aggregated undetermined ability and willingness to pay.

The stage is set for 'players' to seek the unknown. What is the price the market will bear? The script is written in multiple commercial laws. The players succeed or gain on their ability to add value to huge financial resources already in their possession.

From a rabbit's perspective human kind made a big mistake by failing to master the bounce.

This WL is interesting:

Saudi Oilfields are 'Sick'

April 20, 2009. No field-specific info, but:

However, a long-serving Western expatriate Aramco employee claims that a daily production rate at or near 12 million bpd is just "smoke and mirrors." He asserted that the Saudi oil fields are "sick" and said that Saudi's Ghawar oil field (the world's largest) "is in bad shape." He said that current Saudi Aramco President and CEO Khalid al-Falih (an engineer by training) has become aware of these problems and has begun to take a closer look at the health of the oil fields. In fact, shortly after he became aware of some of the oil field deficiencies, he ordered regular oil field reviews (similar to an audit) for every field. He contrasted this with the more hands-off management style of al-Falih's predecessor, Abdullah Jum'ah. 3. (S/NF) Nasser explained that Aramco will only bring online an oil reserve if it can maintain at least a "30-year plateau" at a given rate of daily oil production. For example, if an oil field's recoverable assets would be exhausted after 25 years at an average production rate of 1.5 million bpd, then Aramco lowers the rate enough to stretch the life of the field to at least 30 years. Nasser said that in order to maximize recoverable oil reserves, Aramco "produces oil on the flanks of the fields, and then move towards the crest." However, our Western expatriate source said that over the last two years Aramco has been pumping straight from the crest to meet what was at the time rising demand for oil. He also said that the prevalence of horizontal wells, as opposed to vertical wells, increases the reservoir's exposure to water damage.

Thanks Joules, this is very interesting. An admission that Ghawar is in bad shape. We all knew this but it is good to get it straight from the Saudis themselves. And with horizontal wells they are sucking the oil straight from the crest. I suppose that is because that is the only place that they can get much oil. Lower down it's mostly water.

I really don't understand why horizontal wells increase the reservoir's exposure to water damage. There is less water at the crest so they pump less water. How can this increase exposure to water damage. Once the water hits the crest it's all over, or nearly so anyway. But would it be any different with vertical wells?

Ron P.

Saudi Oilfields are 'Sick'

It's nice to have a S E C R E T document from an American consulate confirming what an old oil hand would already suspect if one was not naive and did not really believe what the Saudis were telling people.

Saudi Aramco's Senior Vice President for Exploration and Production, Amin Nasser (protect), says that Saudi Aramco will achieve 12 million barrels per day (bpd) of production capacity by June 2009. -- However, a long-serving Aramco employee does not believe that they can maintain production at that level for more than two months or so. He asserted that Saudi oilfields are "sick" and in worse shape than commonly assumed.

The Saudis are doing all kinds of things from a production enhancement standpoint that one would only expect them to do if their oil fields were in a lot of trouble. However, Saudi Arabian reserve and production data are state secrets, so you have to count on the CIA to get good intelligence on them, since you obviously can't count on the Saudis to be honest and aboveboard about it.

The CIA needs to hack into the Saudi well files, extract the data, and turn it over to a few experienced oil men to analyze, who of course will do it for standard consulting fees. Not me, because I'm retired and out of the consulting game. Just a gentle hint if they are not already on the case.

An eye-opener reading the comments on the "Myth of Peak Oil" editorial. Several abiotic oil believers chime in and then this guy trying to add some reason gets attacked by the others:

The USGS and the API (merely a front group) have no data to speak of. If the USGS had the data a major oil firm had, they would also have a budget rivaling that of the DoD. Petroleum geologists/geophysicists/engineers will only discuss the impending oil crisis AFTER they retire because they are traditionally fired if they do so beforehand. For some basic facts, I would check out Jeremy Gilbert's recent presentation given to ASPO (you can find it online), an association composed mostly of petroleum geologists/geophysicists/engineers. I would dismiss the opinions of journalists/economists/politicians except for, perhaps, Rosoce Bartlett, an man of science and a conservative. It is disheartening to hear politicians debating drilling in the Arctic w/o even mentioning the KIC-1 well. That alone points to the information deficit our leaders have. So long.
Arch Stanton

I like the nom de plume, the name on the grave where all the money is stashed away.

The editorial itself points to how the cornucopians argue. They may not attack the main issue but they nitpick the details and the math. In this case it is the claim that the USA has only 2% of the world's reserves. This is one response that Mr. Stanton got: "You all you've got to say is that peak oil is real? You went around your elbow to scratch your ear as the article was about the misuse of statistics to state that the U.S. has but 2% of the world's reserves. The only mention to peak oil was in passing. Did I miss something?".

That is a basic approach perfected by the climate science skeptics, latch on to a detail and hammer on it, thus serving to discredit the entire argument.

If you dig THAT grave, WEB, you'll never see a penny of that money.

It's in the grave NEXT to Arch Stanton; the one marked, "Unknown" ;-)

You see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend: Those with proven, recoverable oil reserves and those who must purchase them. You purchase.

helios +1

Holy great movie references, Batman! Another (+1)!

Either that guy was a nincompoop, or he is saavy: Arch Stanton's grave was an empty promise, just like abiotic oil, KIC-1, etc.

Amen. There were a number of interesting features of this partisan bit:

A broader measure of fossil fuel deposits is UTRR, undiscovered technically recoverable resources. Marcus Koblitz, energy analyst at the American Petroleum Institute, sent me this "short" definition of the term: "UTRR are estimated by USGS and/or BOEMRE using advanced modeling techniques that apply knowledge of geologic formations and technical access capabilities to currently unexplored formations that are similar to producing formations in order to determine the amount of oil and natural gas in a specific area or basin."

I can only imagine how he would react if climate scientists used the term "undetermined potential climate forcing", but no matter, he accepts the highly modeled UTRR figure uncritically. Here's another one, offered as the soothing voice of reason:

There are broader discussions to be had about substitution possibilities among natural gas, oil, and coal and the appropriate use of the three. What needs to be remembered, however, as we discuss an "all of the above" energy strategy for the nation is that America has abundant endowments of each.

LOL. Anyone remember the Blues Brothers movie where Jake (Elwood?) asks the club owner "what type of music do you play here?" Answer: "We play both types: Country and Western...."

Best hopes for a balanced energy policy, before it's too late.

The worst part of the "Myth" item is that he accepts part of the definition of UTRR, but omits (conveniently) the rest.

If you were to lay out a nomenclature line, at one end would be "proved (or proven) reserves" -- the stuff we are pretty sure is there and believe can be produced commercially. At the other end would be the undiscovered technically recoverable oil resource (UTRR) -- the stuff we think might be there and is probably recoverable but not necessarily economically viable to produce. In between lies a range of resource terminology that can be very confusing. [emphasis added]


So... it turns out that UTRR is not even pie in the sky... it is hypothetical pie in the sky.


There are ways to estimate how much is undiscovered based on what has been found so far. That is the basis of the dispersive discovery model. These kinds of models are all hypothetical because they are based on a hypothesis for the way the statistics will play out. It's all a matter of who has the better hypothesis.

Undiscovered technically recoverable oil resource (UTRR) is oil we don't know exists and which we couldn't afford to produce even if we knew where it was. This is basically oil that would be produced if wishes were horses and pigs could fly. It's not something that any rational oil man would be interested in drilling for, unless of course the government subsidized 125% of the drilling cost.

I'm just speaking as someone who worked for a company that had 125% of its drilling costs subsidized by the Canadian government - which unfortunately came to an unpleasant end when the government noticed we weren't finding any oil even with the subsidies.

Interior designers who use LED lighting don't have to worry about returning regularly to replace incandescent bulbs that have burned out.

Getting in an interior designer to a change a light bulb...snort!

I'm also not sure on this light problem. I can't tell the normal bulbs from the new ones except the new ones take an extra second or so to get to full brightness.

I was surprised to find that my electricity consumption decreased to an average of <500kwh/mo from >850kwh/mo after I changed all the lights to compact fluorescent a couple of years ago.

We use gas/wood for heat, water heater, cookstove so the effect of the lightbulb change is magnified, but it was a lot more than I had expected.

The newest ones seem very reliable; they are certainly inexpensive, and the color has improved (or I have just got used to it.)

I don't know about life-cycle energy costs or the problems of disposal -- all I can really see is my savings.

I can't tell the difference either Richard. I use the bright whites, which are 2700°K temperature, and I think it's a great color. My sister likes the bright whites, but that's much too cold for my tastes. It makes me dislike being at her house. Everyone's bleached teeth are glowing.

I replaced every indoor bulb in my building (4 units) with compact fluorescents more than ten years ago and was astonished at how much my electric bill dropped. It seems like I recovered my cost in just a few months. I should go back in my records and quantify what it was exactly.

In my apartment, I have a total of 16 bulbs, mostly 13w, but some 25's. If I have every light on at once, I'd be using a mere 280w. If they were equivalent incandescents, it would be 1120w. Of course, this never happens. Often I have one 13w bulb going in a lamp. My office which has 6 can lights is the worst for load at 78w total, but that's much too bright, so I split the circuit in half and switch three at a time independently.

In the beginning, I had one ceiling fixture that was cursed and would burn out bulbs. It was a triple bulb fixture and I'd lose a bulb here and a bulb there and over about a years time the last one would go and I'd throw in three new ones. I renovated the room, replaced the old post and tube wiring, and installed recessed can lights. That cured the bulb problem. I don't think I've had a single bulb failure in the past three years. I've no idea what it was about the previous fixture and wire that was deadly to the CFL's.

Oops. I meant to say I like the 'soft' whites.

"This light problem" is not necessarily an open-and-shut case. Just because you can't tell two light sources apart, that doesn't mean the next person can't. To guarantee that, the two spectra must match up closely, which, for an incandescent versus a CFL, they most decidedly do not. An incandescent shows a smooth spectrum; a typical CFL shows a very spiky spectrum with strong lines; and many "white" LEDs, even the "warm" ones, show a double-hump spectrum very deficient in some shades of green.

When red traffic lights were first converted to LED, 660nm LEDs (deep red) were often used, because in the early days those were the brightest based on power output and standard chromaticity charts. However, perception of deep red varies enormously from person to person (that is, a standard chromaticity chart is nonsense with respect to deep red, as there is no universal standard), so standards bodies stepped in and such a deep red is no longer used (or at least shouldn't be used) in new assemblies. There are similar variations in the eye's green and blue sensors (cone cells), but in the past they were of little consequence. [Note: all this is apart from outright color-blindness.]

Until fairly recently, there were just two options for normal indoor lighting: incandescents and tubular fluorescents. Tubular fluorescents have always been too ghastly and flickery to see much use in homes, save for the occasional desk or shop light. So one saw them mainly in places where bean counters could force them upon captive audiences, such as offices.

But now that we've got environmental bean counters heavy-handedly forcing undesirable (to some people) light sources (and toilets and God knows what-all else) upon people in their homes, it should be no surprise when some regard that as intrusive, nor when it affects their voting. Indeed, our environmental bean counters seem to have a problem with tactics, too often maximizing the ratio of conniptions to actual environmental gains, and thereby painting themselves as arrogant twerps.

The other visual perception that varies greatly is flicker. For example, some people can set their CRT monitor (if they still have one) for 60Hz or even 50Hz and find nothing amiss, while others will go bananas from the intense (to them) flicker. Incandescent bulbs have an intrinsic smoothing mechanism. LEDs and CFLs do not - and to save a few cents, a few of them may still have only half-wave rectifiers, which will aggravate the problem.

Probably the new light sources will improve gradually. The spectral issues may prove easier to fix with LEDs, where the underlying light source has a somewhat smooth spectrum, than with gas-discharge lamps, which start off with intense spectral lines; but LEDs are still very expensive. For the time being, one size doesn't fit all.

At my wife's insistence, I replaced a CFL with an LED flood lamp (can type fixture) just to see the effect. She loves it! I am ambivalent however.

One thing I can tell you though is that it will take at least the life of the bulb to realize sufficient power savings to cover the cost of the bulb. In the mid term, it is the long life of the LED (or the claimed long life - time will tell) that may cover increased cost ($40 for one bulb!).

The reason my wife gave for wanting to do this is that CFLs have mercury in them, and disposal is problematic. I agree with that, but since I already have the CFL I would have waited until it died to replace it.


I replaced all the incandescent light bulbs with CFL back in 2006 when I installed the solar panels. I haven't had one burn out yet. The cats have destroyed 2 by knocking over the lamps. One we put in a grocery bag in the attic. The other broke so we openned the windows, shut the door so nothing could go into the room for a day, and then cleaned up. Beats the heck out of me what the morbidity is but that should be compared to breathing traffic fumes all day and all the other fun stuff in modern life.

Has anyone calculated the volume of CFL bulbs one generates in a lifetime? I think you can just toss them all in a grocery sack in the attic and not worry about it.

I wouldn't worry too much about the mercury in a compact fluorescent: the total amount is about 5 milligrams in a bulb, and it's metallic mercury. According to the EPA the safe level is 0.1mg per cubic meter of air (breathing the vapor is the danger). So to exceed this limit you'd have to:

  1. Vaporize all the mercury
  2. Mix it with less than 50 cubic meters of air
  3. Breathe it

Vaporizing mercury is not very easy: it boils at 357C (674F) and the vapor pressure at normal temperatures is about 0.00001 atmospheres. Fifty cubic meters of air is about the volume of the rather small room I'm sitting in at present. So I suppose if I put a broken fluorescent in an uncovered pan over a propane burner in a small room with doors and windows closed and heated it to a dull red heat I might be exposed to possibly dangerous levels of mercury vapor.

However, I suspect the additional mercury exposure from mercury emitted by combustion of coal to generate the additional electricity needed for an incandescent bulb is more dangerous.

All flourescent lights have mercury in them -- it is not something new with CFLs. A 4' tube will have about twice the mercury as a CFL, while a 2' tube is about the same. I'd guess that the circleline, desk lamp, grow light, and U shaped tubes are all about the same.

It isn't just the direct power - also consider the indirect power consumed by using incandescents. By this I mean the additional load on the AC system to remove all of the additional heat.

One of our neighbors put in a new AC unit a month ago, and my wife and I were wondering why the thing was always running - even when the outdoor temperature was quite cool and comfortable. We were over one night, and they hadn't put in any CFLs at all, and when you turned on the lights, you could feel the room warm up. In our house with all of the CFLs, that problem doesn't exist (it isn't just the CFLs, of course - other things like computers and whatnot can also throw off heat).

And there is one more indirect cost - their AC unit wore out before ours, but their system runs a lot more than ours does. I can't prove that this contributed to the earlier failure of their system, of course, but I can't help but wonder whether the systems would tend to last longer if you don't use them as much. Replacing an AC system isn't cheap at all, and if we can get 15 years out of the thing while the neighbors only get 12, that's another cost that is very measurable.

Well, if you're gonna count beans, might as well make 'em the environmental kind!

Something that fascinates me about "The Light Bulb Conversation".

Why do so many people say "I don't like fluorescents / LEDs because the colour is not like my incandescent bulb". I have this feeling that when Mr Edison (or whoever your favourite inventor of the light bulb is) he (or she) did not design for the colour output. I suspect what WAS taken into account was the electrical voltage/amperage/frequency; filament breakdown temperature, lifespan, glass type, fill gas and ease & cost of production.

If you are old enough to have seen a photograph taken with indoor incandescent light using daylight emulsion you might remember the ghastly yellow colour. That was an almost true rendition of the colour difference between sunlight and incandescent light; and it was nasty and jaundiced; but fortunately humans can filter false colour out of a scene.

Now that we CAN design for colour output, when I buy a light I want about the colour temperature of sunlight. Yes, the light from a welding arc is a little too blue for me, but otherwise make it as blue as possible. I just don't understand this pining for a yellow light spectrum determined by a 1890's factory owner. Most of my ancestors grew up viewing scenery using the spectrum of sunlight, and if it's good enough for my great grandpappy it's good enough for me.

And has anyone ever met a person who just smashes their CFL's & throws them in the domestic trash? This whole 'it has mercury in it' argument is right up there with quoting the bible to justify mobile phone use; or the 'I can't afford a $40 lightbulb because I'm too stupid to calculate the future electrical cost'.


That's something I've wondered about too! Your comment brings back all my experiences with photography and having to use "Blue" flashbulbs with "Daylight" film indoors to get correct color rendition. How did current incandescent light bulbs end up with the color temperature they have? Not because they were anything like the "Daylight" we evolved under which is about 5500K-6500K (3000K at sunset/sunrise to 12,000K-18,000K for skylight),or like the gaslight they replaced at 2000K-2200K.


The hotter the filament is run, the higher the color temperature and brightness of the emitted light. However, the hotter the filament, the shorter the life. Where a typical 100 watt lamp has a color temperature of about 2900K and a life of about 700-1000 hours, a 500 watt 3400K incandescent photoflood lamp has a lifetime of only about 10 hours. They are the same design, but the photoflood is run at a higher temperature. There's a tradeoff between lifetime and brightness/color temperature that has to be made for any given bulb/filament design.

I'd be willing to bet that this is a "acquired" preference, much like for certain foods, and that we only prefer it because it's what we're already used to.

And has anyone ever met a person who just smashes their CFL's & throws them in the domestic trash?

Huh? Everyone I know does it. Heck, I do it. What else are you supposed to do with them when they break?

As for the color...I find the color of CFLs (and regular flourescents) very harsh. Not very flattering. Sunlight is rather unflattering as well - too harsh. There's a reason photographers like the "sweet light" - the hour after dawn and before sunset.

I still use CFLs because I'm concerned about energy efficiency and climate change, but if I weren't, I wouldn't have the things.

I let Lowe's recycle my CFLs and other fluorescents when they fail. I think Home Depot also offers that service.

The incandescant light bulb replaced the gas mantle with a color temperature around 2300 degrees F.

But you are right about florescent tubes. I've never found them objectionable unless they are flickering. They are in the kitchen, den and living room, which is where the lights are on the most.

ghastly yellow colour...nasty and jaundiced...pining for a yellow light spectrum determined by a 1890's factory owner. Most of my ancestors grew up viewing scenery using the spectrum of sunlight, and if it's good enough for my great grandpappy it's good enough for me. ...when I buy a light...make it as blue as possible

Great grandpappy doesn't go back far enough. Go back; go way, way back. Up until just a few years ago, for over a hundred thousand years the color of all artificial light was the color of ...fire.

I think a hundred thousand years is enough time for preferences regarding artificial light color temperature to go beyond mere individual tastes. The color of fire, for a hundred thousand years, has meant warmth, safety, companionship, and food.

I like my artificial light yellow. A deep, golden yellow. To you it's ghastly. To me it's that horrible greenish and blueish light that's ghastly- it makes everyone the color of a corpse, it's the color of sickness and death.

Candlelight runs around 2000K. The warmer incandescents run around 2700K. To me, even a 100 watt incandescent is too white. I use lower wattages to get the warmer, yellower light.

The instant I find out about a CFL with a color temp of 2700K or lower I will convert my entire house. But as far as I can tell, the manufacturers of CFLs and LEDs aren't even trying to develop a product in this color range. Perhaps it isn't physically possible for CFLs and LEDs to achieve? And so millions of people are laying in stores of the light they like.

Does anyone know what the lowest color temp CFL available is?

Grab your wallet, VT.... The Philips Tornado True Colour is 2700K and its a 900 series lamp which means the minimum (guaranteed) CRI or Colour Rendering Index is 89, with most lamps being in the low 90s.

See: http://download.p4c.philips.com/l4bt/3/341622/tornado_true_color_341622_...

By comparison, a standard CFL has a CRI of 82 (higher numbers are better).


Grab your wallet, VT.... The Philips Tornado True Colour

I wanted to...

First I was very excited, now I'm very frustrated.

I looked around online. Walmart doesn't have it. Lowe's doesn't have it. Home Depot doesn't have it. Amazon doesn't even have it!


While I was looking, I also found a review that warned that many of these bulbs have weird size and weird shape bases that don't fit standard lighting fixtures. Hmmm.

Also, the light that gets the most use is a beautiful antique table lamp that uses the kind of lampshade that clips right onto the lightbulb itself. That's the one I'd want to try it with; the most rigorous test is the light that gets the heaviest use. Would the Tornado accept the clip-on lampshade?

Sorry, VT, for some reason I though you resided in the UK. Unfortunately, it's not available in the United States at this time .

Clip on shades can be a bit of a challenge with mini-twist CFLs, however, the ones that have a conventional A shape should work just fine (e.g., http://www.lighting.philips.com/us_en/products/energy_saver/softwhite.ph...). This one has a colour temperature of 2700K but the CRI is 82.


Ot you could try this one the Plumen, colour temp 2700K, which I think looks much better than the spirals;

However, when you "grab your wallet" you might grab it shut, as these "designer" bulbs are $30 ea. Make sure you put them where everyone sees and talks about them so you at least get some style points for your money.

A quick change in topic Paul - is there a standard for 12V outlets and sockets? I'm considering running a separate 12V circuit for lights and fans and such, and wondered if there was an existing standard or should I make up my own with automotive hardware.


I'm afraid I don't know the answer, Twilight; sorry. Perhaps Fred, Bob or Ghung can help us out, as all three are well acquainted with low-voltage systems.


I don't think there is a "standard" as such. Many 12V lights are made to fit into standard fixtures, like the Edison screw base, MR16 halogens, etc
I will say, from my experience fixing up the trailers that I would not use standard automotive hardware, but RV or (better still) marine stuff instead.

Also, DC is much harder on switches and contacts than AC, especially if you have high amp loads at 12V. You should be fine if it is LED lights you are working with.

OK, thanks. RV & boat stuff is probably where I will look. I'm OK with the current draw & switch issues, as I'm an EE and I design power supplies among other things.

One of my concerns is that we use fans in the summer to cool the house, and I would like to set up a 12Vdc fan (I accept that it will be smaller than I use now). Simple solar 12V charging systems are very common now and I see no reason not to set up some basic circuits - other than the usual problem of running wires in a 180 year old stone and log structure of course.

The closest thing to a 'standard' is the cigarette lighter adapter. Some folks I know use the high amp AC plugs and recepticles (where one blade is perpendicular to the other), though they can be expensive and aren't made for low voltage DC. Make sure to size your wires big enough and do the math for amperage (Amps= watts/voltage) and efficiency goes up with wire size. With long runs, it may be more efficient to use a small inverter and AC appliances. Voltage drops can be a problem with 12VDC. Be sure to fuse everything!

Yeah, I thought about those but they are absurdly big, plus the spring contact tip is not particularly effective as there is no wiping action, which leaves it vulnerable to corrosion. After all, it was designed to heat a cigarette lighter. Using a variant of standard AC outlets would work great, but there's always the possibility of people getting confused.

Try looking on Farnel, Digikey or Mouser web sites you may find some on there. Many DC connectors are not made to be connected live though so make sure the circuit is off when (un)plugging. For switching larger loads consider a relay, the contacts tend to be better made than the ones in switches and it can be easy to use a 2 or 4 way relay to split the load over several contacts.


As I have said before, 12VDC is hobbled by the lack of standards.

For lights This works with MR-11, MR-16, G4, and generic Bi-Pin. At 25 cents each they are a bargan.

As for connectors Anderson SB-50 (6319 or 6319G1) is the best. Or you can use the powerpole connectors which are about $.75 each.

Edit, Change link to cheaper socket source.

"I think a hundred thousand years is enough time for preferences regarding artificial light color temperature to go beyond mere individual tastes. The color of fire, for a hundred thousand years, has meant warmth, safety, companionship, and food."

OK, now that's an idea that I can accept for an innate preference for a color temperature. I just couldn't see how it applied to an incandescent lamp. Your idea could make sense to me.

I agree with you entirely, but we use CFLs anyway and have become fairly used to them. We buy the 60W and 40W equivalent soft white versions. If you put them behind a paper shade it helps some. It's funny but I don't notice them that much inside anymore, but if I look at the house from outside I can really notice it.

Yeah, the 'fire' argument makes a lot more sense than 'I like the colour of hot tungsten...'


So I'll note my own odd-color low-power lighting solution: strings of clear LED's that emit green light; a 10-meter string of 100 LED's is about $6, and I get green since the human eye is more sensitive to it. This isn't for reading, but for enough light to navigate an otherwise dark room safely. Amazingly bright, and pulls less than a half watt per string according to my kill-a-watt. A lot less than that on "twinkle" mode, but one can only stand so much twinkling in life. I have no idea how long they'll last, but they don't get warm.

I know plenty of people who can not afford to pay for CFL's as they are just to costly compared to "normal" blubs. If you were to ask them to even think about a blub that costs more than 5 bucks each, they'd do without it rather than pay the price.

Limited income people are all over the place and most of them count their pennies a lot more than you might think. I know several people who technically don't use that much electricity in the first place to really need to get a CFL bulb, because they can't afford the electric bill higher than they have right now, and just live in dim rooms more often than not.

As to trashing bulbs, in the waste basket they go and most people I know don't even blink if they have them in the first place.

Cost today means more than cost over the years, to a lot more people in the Poor spectrum of the income range than it does for people with more than $14,000 a year coming in.

The unfortunate thing is the hype that the media on both sides of the left-right divide has been harping on for a while, and lots of misinformation is out there, and fighting through that is the issue at hand, as well as saving energy.

Here We use a mix of Bulbs. Tubes, Curls, round Old school, LEDs, and even light with candles and oil lanterns from time to time. I'd prefer to have a sun lite house, but till then, I will deel with what we have.

Not all light is the same for everyone.

PaulS had a good post on that topic.

BioWebScape Designs for a better fed and housed future.

CFL's are less than $1. each.


It's hard to see the cost of adoption as being a prohibitive factor any more.

Yep...Public Utilities of New Mexico has subsidized certain brands of CFLs for 97 cents each. I bought some at a small hardware chain called Salmons.

My house lights/lamps are 90% CFL...I put them in after we bought and moved in...not one has malfunctioned....even in bathrooms, even in open outdoor fixtures which have been occasionally heavily rained on.

I couldn't pass up the ~ 75% reduction in electricity use...I told my wife and two kids to get used to them and they did...I finagled with brands and types and wattages/lumens/color temps and appropriate use of 'quick start' bulbs where warranted (no extra energy use for them...same efficiency).

Gosh...if I could reduce all types of my energy usages so easily!

Billions in Libyan Oil Money Held by Western Banks Like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, HSBC, Societe Generale

Several Western financial institutions were holding Libyan state oil revenue last year, according to the nonprofit Global Witness, which cited a document it obtained.

The document names Goldman Sachs, HSBC Holdings, Societe Generale and several other institutions holding some of the sovereign wealth fund’s assets, which totaled more than $53 billion at the end of the second quarter of 2010, Global Witness said.

However the Libyan people could not know where it was invested or how much it was, because banks have no obligation to disclose state assets they hold.

The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) owns billions of dollars of shares in household name companies such as General Electric, BP, Vivendi and Deutsche Telekom.

Presentation Libyan Investment Authority Management Information Report

If those western financial institutions continue to hold Libyan money for very long, they will gamble it on something phoney, and when it goes snake eyes, tell Congress they need to reimburse Libya with US taxpayer money.

North Sea oil and gas production 'slows'

The Oil and Oil Products report for the start of 2011 said: "Indigenous crude oil production in the three months to March 2011 was 15.6% lower compared with the same period a year earlier. On a quarterly basis, this is the biggest decrease since quarterly records began in 1995.

Of course North Sea production has been falling for over a decade now, but 15.6 percent over the same period last year is significant. But they say the main fault is maintenance work and a "slowdown" on a number of fields. I really don't know what a slowdown is unless it's just normal depletion. Anyway I find this strange because the maintenance season in the UK North Sea is normally June, July and August.

Ron P.

Up to January of this year, you can see the fluctuations over the months can be fairly large.

The UK DECC uses odd units; I think you have to divide by about 4.5 to get it to barrels per day. It might have dropped below 1,000,000 barrels per day for the first time in a while.
Somebody might be able to find the up-to-date data.

Of course North Sea production has been falling for over a decade now, but 15.6 percent over the same period last year is significant.

It's not only significant, it's looking like Mexico's Cantarell oil field, which of course crashed spectacularly with bad consequences to the Mexican budget.

Note to residents of the UK: It's not too soon to panic. You might want to convince some senior bureaucrats that it's important.

Note to QEII: If you want to meet and discuss it over tea and biscuits, it could be arranged. We in the colonies do our best to keep the Mother Country afloat but, you know, other commitments.

Thank you for the kind offer, should you ever need to drop in for a cuppa i have both rosemary and peppermint available straight from my garden. also I hear totnes is nice this time of year.

Let me know when you intend coming down from your SUV and I'll bring my step ladder...also there are gas stations every 5 miles or so, evenly spaced to match your need to refill


The natural decline rate of our oilfields is 21% per annum- see http://omrpublic.iea.org/omrarchive/11mar08full.pdf, page 23. So there's nothing very surprising in a 15.6% decline - it just indicates there haven't been many new developments coming onstream recently.

In fact we average a lot better than that. Thanks to all our hard work, it's taken a full decade for our production to halve - a decline rate of a mere 7%! You can see it charted in barrels at http://omrpublic.iea.org/supply/uk_to_ts.pdf or in cubic metres at https://www.og.decc.gov.uk/pprs/full_production/monthly+oil+production/g....

Upcoming developments should be enough to keep our decline rate averaging 7% for another decade...but subsequently a sharkfin curve may develop as the infrastructure starts to shut down.

Incidentally, North Sea production is not synonymous with UK production. Norway overtook us many years ago - see http://omrpublic.iea.org/supply/nr_to_ts.pdf.

For a minute I thought you were talking about Quantitative Easing II...

According to zFacts.com, tonight the US National debt will cross the $14.7 trillion level. This is approximately the 100% to GDP ratio as of January 20011. By early August, the $15 trillion level will be passed and that will exceed the 100% to GDP level for 2011. The debt grows at a rate of $100 billion every 22 1/2 days.
There are also off book debts due to the financial crash that the Governmnet absorbed and are continuing to absorb. If the off book debt is included, the ratio to GDP debt might approach the ratio in Greece.

“Energy Myths of the Left“

As opposed to energy myths of the right……?

Nicely done, Les :)

Meanwhile, in Europe ...

300 French economists have published a Manifesto, that in English says
Manifesto of the appalled economists

Too long to quote, just some points

And they propose 22 measures.

The manifesto sounds a lot better in French
Manifeste d’économistes atterrés !!
They translated économistes atterrés (in terror, in fear) for "appalled economists", some kind of understatement.

I'm not sure "atterrés" means "in fear", it's closer to "disconcerted".

Some of it is good, but some is clear denial, for instance "# 4: THE SOAR IN PUBLIC DEBTS RESULTS FROM EXCESSIVE SPENDING", they argue that it's not excessive spending but lesser growth and revenue, but spending should be relative to your income not a constant thing.

That Myth of Peak Oil article is as Flying Mongoose an article as they come. A professor of communication I once had defined the Flying Mongoose, in the context of political advertisements:

"There's one thing you need to know about my position, and that...what's that? Look, a Flying Mongoose!"

From Earth-Policy Institute

Cancer Now Leading Cause of Death in China

Cancer is now the leading cause of death in China. Chinese Ministry of Health data implicate cancer in close to a quarter of all deaths countrywide. As is common with many countries as they industrialize, the usual plagues of poverty—infectious diseases and high infant mortality—have given way to diseases more often associated with affluence, such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

While this might be expected in China’s richer cities, where bicycles are fast being traded in for cars and meat consumption is climbing, it also holds true in rural areas. In fact, reports from the countryside reveal a dangerous epidemic of “cancer villages” linked to pollution from some of the very industries propelling China’s explosive economy. By pursuing economic growth above all else, China is sacrificing the health of its people, ultimately risking future prosperity.

Another legacy of capitalism.

Fukushima tsunami plan a single page

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese nuclear regulators trusted that the reactors at Fukushima Dai-ichi were safe from the worst waves an earthquake could muster based on a single-page memo from the plant operator nearly a decade ago.

In the Dec. 19, 2001 document — one double-sized page obtained by The Associated Press under Japan's public records law — Tokyo Electric Power Co. rules out the possibility of a tsunami large enough to knock the plant offline and gives scant details to justify this conclusion, which proved to be wildly optimistic.

Regulators at the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, or NISA, had asked plant operators for assessments of their earthquake and tsunami preparedness. They didn't mind the brevity of TEPCO's response, and apparently made no moves to verify its calculations or ask for supporting documents.

"This is all we saw," said Masaru Kobayashi, who now heads NISA's quake-safety section. "We did not look into the validity of the content."

The running out of resources myth
Financial Post May 26, 2011 – 10:41 PM ET
By Brian Lee Crowley

One of the most stupid articles I ever read.

First, while it might be popular, it is quite incorrect to think of natural resources as not only exhaustible, but on the verge of being exhausted. If natural resources were actually getting scarcer, then their price would rise. [On what planet does Mr. Crowley live?]

But the price of natural resources has been remarkably steady or even declining for centuries. Long-term price of copper has been stable or falling for years. [Lo and behold Mr. Crowley, the copper price reached an all-time high a month ago.]

In 1980, The Global 2000 Report to the President noted that: “If present trends continue, the world in 2000 will be more crowded, more polluted, less stable ecologically, and more vulnerable to disruption than the world we live in now.… ”

But the ecosystem hasn’t collapsed. We haven’t run out of oil. We are still successfully feeding ourselves. [See how Mr. Crowley distorts the words]

If natural resources were actually getting scarcer, then their price would rise. But the price of natural resources has been remarkably steady or even declining for centuries. [Maybe Mr. Crowley is retarded]

That is possible because the supply of oil isn’t only what is in the earth’s crust. Supply is also determined by the application of human intelligence [Only if I think hard enough I can produce oi]

There is no cure for stupidity. Ignorance, on the other hand, is relatively easy to cure with good education. Prejudice often causes willful ignorance and often is impossible to cure. My conjecture is that the writer of the article is prejudiced against the world view that natural resources are limited and that economic growth cannot go on forever.

My working lifetime caused me to come in contact with over 9,000 students. I ran into only a few cases of true genetic stupidity (retardation), but I ran into prejudice and bias and self-imposed blinders all the time--even with the brightest students sometimes.

If you were teaching at the college level, your sample was pre-selected against the retards. The truly retarded aren't likely to make it past the HS level tests, let alone the college entrance exams like the SAT. Bad statistics makes for bad economics...

E. Swanson

Just a couple of points. First for Don. Stupidity is not always genetic. It can be caused by a variety of environmental problems.

Eric, I have met an awful lot of very stupid college graduates. I had one for a high school civics teacher. There are some colleges that have very low standards. But your passion for valid statistics have caused you to miss Don's point. His point clearly was:

but I ran into prejudice and bias and self-imposed blinders all the time--even with the brightest students sometimes.

I have found that to be true not just for college students but in every walk of life, whether they be farmers, plumbers or PhD's. When I worked at Marshall Space Flight Center I knew one PhD who believed the earth was only 6,000 years old. Early indoctrination into any dogmatic world view can screw a person up for life. Remember the Jesuit motto "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man," which is based on a quotation by Francis Xavier.

Ron P.

I don't disagree with your view about the quality of college graduates. However, to graduate from college, one must first get into college. Here's a comment from one of our US Senators:

March 21, 2007 - 12:13 PM
Burr: Lowering High School Drop-Out Rate Achievable

The state of North Carolina has recently released its most current public high school graduation statistics. The numbers are alarming—only 68% of our students graduate from high school. The numbers are bleaker for various subgroups of students—a 60% high school graduation rate for Black students, 55% for low-income students, and 52% for Hispanic students. Eighty percent of the Nation's high schools with the highest number of dropouts are in only 15 states--North Carolina is one of those states. Our students, our schools, our communities can do better. We must do better.

Of course, there are many other reasons for dropping out besides lack of brain power (call it IQ). And, people with college degrees (especially engineers) can be rather stupid about things beyond their field of training. Even so, the fraction of the population with Bachelor's degree or higher in the US is less than 30%, (for what that's worth). I just wanted to point out that Don's anecdotal comments about his teaching experience can't be considered acceptable evidence, due to the obvious bias in the sample.

For another batch of anecdotal "evidence" check out the faces of these folks. And, this is only one day's worth of "evidence"...

E. Swanson

Try teaching shop classes in a declining resource based town with huge transient pop of various ethnic backgrounds. Then, work hard at making a dummy math class exciting and useful. Watching students with no work ethic wonder why they have to do anything beyond scrolling their stupid electronics and texting friends has made me want to cry. In short, I am retiring early in order to work on my little farm and will get by on less...much less in order to preserve my values and sense of self.

I am now convinced, that the results of the war on drugs is a plot to keep the lower classes sedated or imprisoned, and that 'smart phones', and I use that term loosely, is a technology ceated to keep kids down and dumb. I know this sounds beyond paranoid, but I do remember reading Ayn Rand in high school, (this weeks TOD discussion), Sarte, Steinbeck, etc and fondly remember going for tea at Welches Cafe and actually discussing ideas. Yikes. And yes we drank, raced cars, had bush parties by the river, and tried drugs. I know very few kids today that read, of all class levels, vocab is about 1/2 of 25 years ago and the push for increased graduation rates has so dumbed down the system by the powers who decide policy....well, your avearge teacher is dying on the vine.

Honest to God folks, the powers have decreed that 50% is a C-... When I was in school my folks said 70% was a C and that just wouldn't do...(because I got lots of them). 50%!!!!We would have been skinned alive and then sold for tallow.

There are stupid people. Most are avearge but there are some truly just dumb enough to be lazy folks who are the new normal. I also teach many special needs kids and find them truly fantastic...hard workers, always striving, focussed...work work work. However, the combination of stupid, lazy, and a sense of entitlement of the general population frightens me as I wonder about the future for these kids? We just don't need hewers of wood and carriers of water for awhile. Wait...wait, maybe we will. The problem is in the fall down. Entitlement will bring anger when the promises are too expensive to keep.

Occasionally, I get a student with a solid work ethic and I am so happy. They are excited about life and are participants and not observers. It is awesome. perhaps that intrinsic motivation is genetic, but usually they are children of parents who live on 'the islands', or practice an alternate lifestyle. They don't seem to live in subdivisions, trailer parks, or have tv.

Parents....from someoneone who has also taught thousands of children over the years....limit tv, don't buy your child a 'smart phone', insist on music lessons, buy leggo for the wee ones, chemistry sets, erector sets, take things apart, and insist your child learns to cook with stock ingredients. Cooking is very important and insist on changing the ratios and make the kids figure out the numbers.

Then hope for the best. Trust me folks, the pack is getting dumber and the business interests of the world are rubbing their hands together in anticipation of all the budding consumers (and this includes universities with their shrinking budgets). IMHO, a power down will be painful, but it is the only option for saving people and this earth. I truly believe a simpler life will be better than what I see now.

Anyway...raining this morning so off to bake bread. I just had to rant a bit.


New study argues against conclusion that bacteria consumed Deepwater Horizon methane

Athens, Ga. – A technical comment published in the current (May 27) edition of the journal Science casts doubt on a widely publicized study that concluded that a bacterial bloom in the Gulf of Mexico consumed the methane discharged from the Deepwater Horizon well.

The debate has implications for the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem as well as for predictions of the effect of global warming, said marine scientist and lead author Samantha Joye, University of Georgia Athletic Association Professor in Arts and Sciences.

... “A range of data exists that shows a significant release of methane seeping out at the seafloor to the atmosphere, indicating that the microbial biofilter is not as effective,” Joye said. “Importantly for the future of the planet, there is even less evidence for a strong biofilter of methane hydrate destabilized in the shallow Arctic settings.”

Tepco Failed to Disclose Scale of Fukushima Radiation Leaks, Academics Say

As a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency visits Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled nuclear plant today, academics warn the company has failed to disclose the scale of radiation leaks and faces a “massive problem” with contaminated water.

... Tepco has been withholding data on radiation from Dai-Ichi, Goshi Hosono, an adviser to Japan’s prime minister, said at a press briefing today. Hosono said he ordered the utility to check for any data it hasn’t disclosed and release the material as soon as possible.

... “Tepco knows more than they’ve said about the amount of radiation leaking from the plant,” Jan van de Putte, a specialist in radiation safety trained at the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands, said yesterday in Tokyo. “What we need is a full disclosure, a full inventory of radiation released including the exact isotopes.”

The Japanese utility is trying to put the reactors into a cold shutdown, where core temperatures fall below 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit), within six to nine months. Ostendorff [a member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission] rated the chance of Tepco achieving that goal at six or seven out of 10. [that's pretty close to coin toss territory]

High radiation found on seabed in 300-km stretch off Fukushima

Radiation levels up to several hundred times normal have been detected on the Pacific seabed in a 300-kilometer-long area off the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the science ministry said Friday.

The ministry said high-level radioactive materials were detected on the seabed in a north-south stretch ranging from Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, to Choshi, Chiba Prefecture, and warned the contamination could affect the safety of seafood. The science ministry said it detected iodine and cesium on the seabed at 12 spots 15- to 50-km from the coastline between May 9 and 14

27,580 barrels of Shell oil spilt in Nigeria in 2010

"Sabotage and crude oil theft was the cause of 22,310 barrels spilled from SPDC (Shell Petroleum Development Company) facilities in 112 incidents, an average of about one spill every three days," the company said in a document released to AFP here.

It said the balance of 5,270 barrels was due to 32 operational spills recorded during the period.

Shell said it paid more than $1.7 million in compensation only to those affected by operational spills. Under Nigerian law, compensation is not paid on damages caused by sabotage.

Fertilizer wastage costs China 52 million tons of grain

... In the wealthy eastern part of China, farmers spread more than 180 kilogrammes of nitrogen on each hectare of their land. Excessive amounts of nitrogen cannot be absorbed by the crops; instead, they pollute the groundwater and the air. In the poorer western part of China, nitrogen use is below 100 and even 50 kilogrammes per hectare per year. If the eastern provinces were to limit their fertilizer use to 180 kilogrammes per year, the remainder - 1.2 million tons of nitrogen - could go to the poorer agriculture areas. That would result in additional grain production of 52 million tons, Wang calculates.

That would make quite a difference in the global grain market. For comparison, China currently produces about 500 million tons of grain annually, and the European Union produces about 130 million tons. The inefficient use of nitrogen is one of the major limiting factors in food supply in China, writes Wang.

African land grab could lead to future water conflicts

... China, India and Saudi Arabia have lately leased vast tracts of land in sub-Saharan Africa at knockdown prices. Their primary aim is to grow food abroad using the water that African countries don't have the infrastructure to exploit. Doing so is cheaper and easier than using water resources back home. But it is a plan that could well backfire.

China and India are not currently major players in the virtual water network on a per capita basis, and as the network evolves they could find themselves increasingly vulnerable to market forces and end up paying more for the food they import. Leasing land elsewhere is an attempt to secure their food and water supply in a changing world. But it could be a short-sighted move.

... Last year, Paolo D'Odorico of the University of Virginia at Charlottesville showed that a rise in the virtual water trade makes societies less resilient to severe droughts (Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1029/2010GL043167). "[It] causes a disconnect between societies and the water they use," says D'Odorico. The net effect is that populations in nations that import water can grow without restraint since they are not limited by water scarcity at home.

Well, it's very easy to predict how this will play out, as we already have a perfect real world example in terms of the US and oil.

Lets just change one word from the concluding sentence there;

[It] causes a disconnect between societies and the water they use," says D'Odorico. The net effect is that populations in nations that import water oil can grow without restraint since they are not limited by water oil scarcity at home

Once the scarcity then appears in the external suppliers, what then? Send in the military to secure it? Fortunately, that would never happen!


Your Commute Is Killing You
Long commutes cause obesity, neck pain, loneliness, divorce, stress, and insomnia.

Commuting is a migraine-inducing life-suck—a mundane task about as pleasurable as assembling flat-pack furniture or getting your license renewed, and you have to do it every day. If you are commuting, you are not spending quality time with your loved ones. You are not exercising, doing challenging work, having sex, petting your dog, or playing with your kids (or your Wii). You are not doing any of the things that make human beings happy.

All seemingly true but I know people who lived far from work who claimed that they liked it because the long commute gave them time to think. I told them that I thought it wasn't necessary to be in a car to be able to think. And in the car, maybe you ought to be thinking about the traffic and other hazards around you.

And for most people, if their commute was shorter, would they really use the extra time to work out? Or would they come home, slump on the couch, down a few or more beers and watch tv?

And then there are those who didn't really want to spend quality time with their loved ones. LOL.

...they liked it because the long commute gave them time to think...

I wonder whether that's simply a habit of thinking left over from before ubiquitous 24/7 servitude to cell phones. For some, the commute would have been the only time when no one could nag or make demands on them. Another thought - once upon a time city people went for drives in the country; maybe some commutes partially met that need.

<snark> Notice that Slate, being Slate, had to get in the bit about playing with the Wii. </snark>

For some, the commute would have been the only time when no one could nag or make demands on them.

I think that's an important point. If your drive is not too demanding (e.g. a country road) then it is quite possibly the only time of the day you get to be alone with your thoughts. When I lived in NZ, it was a half hour drive from the town to the aluminium smelter, and my boss always said that it was the down time between his wife and four kids, and his job as a dept manager at the smelter. On the drive to work he would plan out his day, and on the drive home he would think about what to do on the weekend.

A pleasant drive, or better still, a ferry ride, will allow you to do that, I'm not sure if the LA congested freeway, or even NY subway would.

Way, way, waaaay off topic I know. But has there ever been a Jewish US President?

Can't find any list on google of Presidents' faiths.


Not only has there never been a U.S. president of Jewish ancestry, only one person of Jewish ancestry has ever been nominated by a major U.S. party--Barry Goldwater by the Republicans, way back in the sixties. He was defeated in a landslide election.

Thanks Don -

Has there ever been a President who is overtly - explicitly - atheist? I don't mean atheist in heart but gives lip service to faith when the cameras are on but explicitly atheist?

The closest to be an atheist would probably be Thomas Jefferson, even though he was technically a deist. But what about this quote?

"Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear."
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

Or this?

I concur with you strictly in your opinion of the comparative merits of atheism and demonism, and really see nothing but the latter in the being worshipped by many who think themselves Christians.
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Richard Price, Jan. 8, 1789 (Richard Price had written to TJ on Oct. 26. about the harm done by religion and wrote "Would not Society be better without Such religions? Is Atheism less pernicious than Demonism?")

One can certainly make the case, however, that he believed in God. But what is God? His conception of God certainly seemed different than most of his cohorts and certainly those who profess to believe in God today.

ok, I may be pushing my luck here but has there ever been a Native American in a Cabinet position - or any other prominent Federal position such as Supreme Court/FBI director etc..

To the best of my knowledge (and I'm a Trivial Pursuit, Genus Edition champion) there has never been a full-blooded Native American in a prominent federal position. There are and were several, however, who are one-eighth or less Native American, and that goes back to the nineteenth century.

Why this interest in ethnic minorities in government? And what does it have to do with Peak Oil or discussions about our future?

Don – Here’s one for next contest: name the highest ranking US law officer of Asian descent (at least 20 years ago): Harry Lee – Sherriff Jefferson Parish, La. (just outside Nawlins). For double points: name the highest ranking US law officer with a degree in geology: same guy – Harry Lee. No jobs for geologists when he got out of LSU (a very thin link to PO, for your benefit). So he became a driver for a state politician who led him a different direction. A true world class character: a red neck Chinaman a little to the right of Genghis Kan. A great guy and a true legend in his own time.

When Barry Goldwater mounted his campaign for the White House in 1964, the Jewish humorist Harry Golden took notice. “I always knew the first Jewish president of the United States,” Mr. Golden put it, “would be an Episcopalian.”

On the surface, Mr. Golden was simply stating a biographical fact. Mr. Goldwater’s Jewish father had married an Episcopalian woman and their children were raised as Christians.


We got riled enough with the Catholic, and then he had the temerity to ask us .. 'Ask not what your country can do for Jew, but what can Jew do for your Country?'

No, I don't think so. Franken is going to be the first.

re: Big pain at the gas pumps

This is a typically myopic piece from MacLeans, which I like to call "Toronto's national magazine".

The problem they have is that 90% of Canada's oil, gas, coal, and uranium resources, not to mention 90% of its farmland, are in the West, whereas the Eastern industrial centers are severely energy-deficient. They are at the end of the longest oil pipeline in the world (from Western Canada), and that runs their fuel costs up dramatically. Importing cheap oil from OPEC is not working out that well for them. They are also overly dependent on manufacturing automobiles, which is not a good industry to be dependent on in today's post-peak oil world.

So, naturally, they blame it on speculators, rather than excess demand from developing countries and the failure of producers to keep up with demand.

The solution to the problem is quite simple - move the population from the energy deficient East to the energy rich West, and that move is already underway. However it is not the solution they wanted, so they are resisting it to the best of their ability.

Yeah I wasn't too impressed with that MacLeans article either as the idea that high fuel prices are due to speculators is complete bull.

The future isn't looking too good here in Ontario. Our provincial government is basically betting the farm that strong economic growth will return and tax revenues will increase to wipe out the huge provincial deficit. You hear alot about the financial problems California has but in fact Ontario has twice as much debt per capita as California. That hole is going to get pretty deep before people understand that the wealth we currently have is all we have to work with. If anything, things will get worse as we are so dependent on trade with the US.

I'd love to move west and in fact my wife grew up in Prince George. All my family, our children and grandchildren are here in Ontario so we are committed to staying here for better or worse.

Yes, the government of Ontario has some unrealistic expectations about what the future holds for them. They need to get a grip on things and plan for a future in which energy is more expensive than they would like to see, and their economic growth is not what they would like it to be.

It will be difficult to fight because it is part of a global trend driven by the peaking of world oil production, and Ontario is seriously deficient in energy resources. Their planning does not seem to take that into account, though. Denial of reality seems to be their main approach.

"However it is not the solution they wanted..."

"They" being the Easterners, the Westerners, or indeed both ... ? In the USA, many New Yorkers, say, couldn't conceive of living elsewhere, not really; and the feeling tends to be mutual in the sense that they might not be all that welcome elsewhere. Would this hold similarly, for, say, Torontonians?

move the population from the energy deficient East to the energy rich West

Why would anyone want to move from the cultural focus of the country - the history, the gorgeous architecture, plays and symphonies, the great city of Toronto; Montreal culture - to move West? To the blistering heat and bitter cold of the mind-rattling expanseless barren Prairie? To the soggy pagan hinterlands of mouldy Gore-Tex where the only people you might occasionally meet think that lycra is a fashion statement? No, you won't be happy if you move just for economic reasons; and the cultural divide is unassailable.

There is a reason why there is only one poorly maintained lane of traffic each way and one railway track across the Manitoba border. Nope, Ontario & Quebec are the place to be, believe me.

There is a reason why there is only one poorly maintained lane of traffic each way and one railway track across the Manitoba border. Nope, Ontario & Quebec are the place to be, believe me.

Is there a reason why the Trans-Canada Highway is a poorly maintained two-lane highway that winds aimlessly through Northern Ontario, and then, when it hits the Manitoba border, suddenly turns into a four-lane divided highway that runs straight as an arrow across Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta to the Rocky Mountains?

Re: Asia's shaky water and energy balancing act, up top:

Chinese blame drought on Three Gorges Dam:


Meanwhile, the drought worsens, bringing threats to Shanghai’s water supply, lost rice crops and power rationing across China. Some of China’s microbloggers, unable to do much about the disaster, are taking solace in their ability to talk about it (mostly) openly. “Since the Three Gorges began to fill with water on June 1, 2003, disasters have occurred continually on the lower reaches of the reservoir area and the dam,” wrote a microblogger named Xu Xingqi. “The most commonly heard sentence is: ‘it has no connection with the Three Gorges Project.’ From saying this sentence to laying some of the disadvantages of this project on the public media platform, is indeed progress.”

Man, could that Philip Verleger guy in the Tyee article about the Keystone pipeline be any more arrogant and hypocritical?

The economics work like this. By running bitumen from Hardisty, Alberta to Houston, Texas, the line bypasses the great U.S. Midwest refinery market, which due to oversupply, can now discount Canadian Heavy Crude.

By eliminating this glut the pipeline will increase the price of heavy crude in the Midwest to the equivalent cost of imported crude, say, from Saudi Arabia. As a consequence TransCanada "will be able to use its market power to raise the heavy crude to Midwest refiners above the level that would prevail in a competitive market."

This exercise of monopoly power, something John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil fame perfected, will bleed anywhere between $3.9 billion to $6 billion from U.S. consumers.

Let's see here... The US is currently enjoying a glut of stranded oil in the midwest, and apparently that's good and right and the way things should be. If the pipeline goes in and Canada is free to sell their oil on the world market, somehow that's a monopoly.

I agree the Keystone pipeline would not be a net benefit to the US. But the dipshit jingoistic language that bedecks that article is just freakin hilarious. Apparently Mr Verleger thinks that whatever is good for him is the path of right and virtue, and whatever he doesn't like is a 'monopoly'. What a jackass.

We are taught from an early age that what makes our economic system work is the sum total of everyone pursuing their own self interests. Since we never did develop any culture other than that, then our highest calling is to take care of ourselves. Against that background, what else would you expect him to think? He's a true patriot!

As a consequence TransCanada "will be able to use its market power to raise the heavy crude to Midwest refiners above the level that would prevail in a competitive market."

This shows just how much this guy has it wrong. The reason prices are low in the midwest now is because there is no other "competing" market - it is the midwest that currently has the monopoly - Alberta has nowhere else to sell to at present. Once the pipeline is built, they then have a choice - that is what competitive markets are all about.

I agree the Keystone pipeline would not be a net benefit to the US.

Actually, it will be. The alternative, which Verleger probably isn't even aware of, is that there are plans underway to build two pipelines from Alberta to the west coast, and export the oil to China. As soon as that happens, the current supply glut to the midwest will disappear, and the US will have to import more from overseas, where it then pays the Brent pice, not the WTI price, and, of course, the money is going to places not nearly as friendly as Canada.

The US being forced to buy more oil from overseas leads to "bleeding" from more than just consumers, but American commentators don;t seem to understand that.

A final note - if they do kill the Keystone XL pipeline, I wouldn't be too surprised if Canada kills its proposal to buy $20bn of F35 fighters, and go with a Eurofighter instead.