Drumbeat: June 6, 2011

Aramco Searches for Unconventional Gas in Northwest, Ghawar

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Aramco, the world's largest crude exporter, is looking for so-called unconventional gas in the northwest and in the area of the Ghawar field, where gas infrastructure exists, Aramco said in its 2010 annual review.

Aramco seeks to develop resources in shale rock and tight gas, trapped in impermeable sandstone, to reduce the burning of valuable crude for power generation.

Saudi Aramco sees Karan project complete by 2012

KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - State oil giant Saudi Aramco said on Monday it will complete its first offshore non-associated gas field project, Karan, by 2012.

Aramco had previously said it expected work on Karan to be completed in 2013 with the capacity to process 1.8 billion cubic feet per day (cfd) of gas.

Stuart Staniford: The US Crude Production Peak is not Symmetrical

People that worry about the peaking of global oil supplies often use symmetrical curves as simple models for how production will peak and then decline, with logistics and Gaussians being popular choices. This goes back to M. King Hubbert (and I've done some of this myself). The United States is the poster child for this kind of analysis, since this region was the first to be developed at scale and production peaked in 1970.

However, it seems increasingly clear that the US production curve is far from symmetrical (perhaps driven by higher prices since the 1970s, and especially in the 2000s).

This fund manager sees another crash

The situation isn't irreparable; Rodriguez believes the government can keep rates from climbing too high if it starts making cuts of $350 billion to $500 billion per year. But he has little faith in its willingness to do so. If it were up to him, there would be serious tax reform, with all tax deductions (including mortgage interest) on the table. A former Republican, he describes himself as a "fiscal conservative but social moderate" who has grown disgusted with both parties: "I say, 'A pox on both their houses.'"

So FPA's managers, guided by Rodriguez, are battening down again, trimming risk. FPA Capital now has 30% of its portfolio in cash and 38% in energy stocks because he believes the world's oil supply is declining. Still, even in that sector, he doesn't see many opportunities. (Forget other sectors.) He refuses to buy most bonds or long-term government debt. His restraint has rankled some investors: FPA New Income has begun to shrink again, and a few FPA Capital clients are grumbling.

Richard Heinberg: The China Bubble: Economic Growth’s Last Stand?

There is one more similarity between Japan and China that is worth mentioning. During the 1980s, real estate prices in Tokyo were jaw-dropping. In the Ginza district in 1989, choice properties fetched over 100 million yen (approximately $1 million U.S. dollars) per square meter, or $93,000 per square foot. Prices were only slightly lower in other major business districts in the city. By 2004, values of top properties in Tokyo’s financial districts had plummeted by 99 percent, and residential homes were selling for less than a tenth their peak prices. Tens of trillions of dollars in value were wiped out with the combined collapse of the Tokyo stock and real estate markets during the intervening years.

Once again, China is following in Japan’s footsteps. Massive real estate projects—houses, shopping malls, factories, and skyscrapers—have been proliferating in China for years, attracting both private and corporate buyers. As prices have soared, investors have turned into speculators, intent on buying brand-new properties with the intention of flipping them.

Non-payment causes petrol shortage in Punjab

LAHORE: Parts of Punjab faced a serious petrol shortage due to the government’s failure to pay dues worth Rs 150 billion to Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and oil refineries.

Sources said that PSO could not import oil due to the non-payment of dues by the government.

Pakistan: PM pledges to control price hike, electricity shortage

MULTAN (APP): Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Sunday said the PPP-led government would control price hike and energy crisis. Addressing a workers convention at the local Circuit House, Gilani said that government had initiated mega projects like Bhasha dam, Thar coal and CASA-1000 to overcome the energy crisis. The workers convention began with recitation from the holy Quran and later the participants offered Fateha for the late Hakim Ali Zardari, father of President Asif Ali Zardari, and the party workers including Khawaja Yasin, Munir Ahmad Khan and others who had died recently.

Petrol supply disruptions may spread to Dubai

Dubai: Petrol supply disruptions in Sharjah and the Northern Emirates may eventually come to Dubai as a major fuel retailer is rolling out a three-month upgrade of its network of ageing fuel dispensers in hundreds of pump stations in the emirate, XPRESS has learnt.

As fuel dispensers - the boxes to which the refuelling nozzles are attached - are knocked down one by one and replacements take time to come on stream, consumers have found themselves stuck in massive car jams at stations where petrol is available.

Enoc will not hike prices

Enoc will not raise fuel prices, said a top official of the company.

The clarification comes amid petrol shortage in some of its outlets. Khalid Hadi, Director of Media and Corporate Communications, Enoc, told 'Al Bayan', that fuel shortage in some of its stations was due to the upgrade operations the company is carrying out at its 170 stations. As most of these outlets have six to 10 pumps, it has been taking a long time and hence the delay.

Norway bangs drum for gas

Norwegian Deputy Energy Minister Per Rune Henriksen today made a plea for global gas consumption, claiming the fuel is part of the global energy solution.

Canada crude-Keystone restart tightens heavy spreads

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Canadian heavy crude oil spreads tightened on Monday after TransCanada Corp restarted its Keystone oil pipeline, which was shut for a week following a small leak at a Kansas pump station.

Halliburton Loses as Supreme Court Backs Securities Suits

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court made it easier for investors in some states to press securities fraud suits, siding with shareholders suing Halliburton Co., the company once led by Dick Cheney.

The justices unanimously said the shareholders can sue as a group without first establishing that they lost money as a result of the alleged fraud.

A chef, Sharon Stone, and good foreign policy

Georgia has been a pillar of U.S. foreign policy since an ultra-strategic 1-million-barrel-a-day oil pipeline was built across its territory to the Mediterranean Sea. The U.S. worries about the democracy credentials of President Mikhail Saakashvili, whose police last week beat participants in a protest against the government in which there were four deaths including a policeman, but MacDonald seems a more effective way of spreading the message than finger-wagging.

Can renewable energy outshine fossil fuels?

I'm not popular with environmentalists when I tell them that renewables can only provide a small fraction of the energy that fossil fuels do in powering industrial civilization. In fact, I was recently called a liar at the screening of an anti-nuke film for suggesting so.

David MacKay interview

While he insists there is no single ‘right’ answer, MacKay points me to a ‘hedging scenario’, with maximum effort on all the demand-side measures, along with a strong emphasis on wind, coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS), and nuclear. This makes it look deceptively easy, lopping 92% off emissions by 2050. But the more we unpick the technological and political realities, the harder it looks to reach even the 80% target without resorting to unproven technologies or potentially unsustainable land-use.

MacKay likes the hedging scenario precisely because it over-delivers. Simply aiming for an 80% cut would be too risky, he says, because some pathways are bound to fail or under-perform. What if the government can’t persuade people shift to public transport, or accept more onshore wind farms? What if CCS proves uneconomic? Better to aim to over deliver on a variety of pathways, he argues, “so that in 10 or 15 years time, when it becomes clearer what’s happening, you’ve got a chance of ending up still on track”.

Kurt Cobb - Kurzweil: the movie

In "Transcendent Man" it is a sadder than usual Ray Kurzweil who appears on the screen. The 2009 documentary film about Kurzweil, an acclaimed inventor and futurist, shows that the laws of entropy are at work on his body. He undergoes open heart surgery during the course of the film even as he continues to espouse the belief that technological developments over the next 30 years will make human immortality a reality.

To bridge the gap between now and then, the 63-year-old Kurzweil downs 200 pills a day consisting of various herbs, vitamins or other supplements to "reprogram" his body's biochemistry and improve his chances of reaching what he calls the "singularity," a time after which technological change will occur at a pace so fast that the only way we will be able to understand it is to merge with our machines. Humans will at that point become human-machine hybrids.

James Hansen - Silence is deadly: I’m speaking out against Canada-U.S. tar sands pipeline

The scientific community needs to get involved in this fray now. If this project gains approval, it will become exceedingly difficult to control the tar sands monster. The environmental impacts of tar sands development include: irreversible effects on biodiversity and the natural environment, reduced water quality, destruction of fragile pristine Boreal Forest and associated wetlands, aquatic and watershed mismanagement, habitat fragmentation, habitat loss, disruption to life cycles of endemic wildlife particularly bird and Caribou migration, fish deformities and negative impacts on the human health in downstream communities.

When energy-saving does not mean saving energy

A newly published paper in the journal Energy Policy shows that even straightforward carbon-saving activities such as home insulation are not always quite what they seem. The problem is that making one change around the house leaves the door open for other changes – which might include "rebound effects" that undermine the carbon savings. If a driver who replaces their car with a fuel-efficient model takes advantage of the cheaper running costs and drives further and more often, then the amount of carbon saved is clearly reduced.

Michael Klare: How to wreck the planet 101

Here’s one simple fact without which our deepening energy crisis makes no sense: the world economy is structured in such a way that standing still in energy production is not an option. In order to satisfy the staggering needs of older industrial powers like the United States along with the voracious thirst of rising powers like China, global energy must grow substantially every year. According to the projections of the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), world energy output, based on 2007 levels, must rise 29% to 640 quadrillion British thermal units by 2025 to meet anticipated demand. Even if usage grows somewhat more slowly than projected, any failure to satisfy the world’s requirements produces a perception of scarcity, which also means rising fuel prices. These are precisely the conditions we see today and should expect for the indefinite future.

Oil Falls for a Second Day on Signs Slowing U.S. Economy May Crimp Demand

Oil dropped for a second day in New York, extending last week’s 0.4 percent decline, on signs of a slowdown in demand as OPEC ministers arrived in Vienna to discuss production quotas.

Futures fell as much as 1.1 percent as the highest U.S. jobless rate this year fueled concern that the recovery in the world’s largest economy is faltering. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is unlikely to change targets when it meets June 8, according to a Bloomberg News survey of 30 analysts conducted in the week to May 31.

Saudis to push OPEC to lift output, cut prices

VIENNA — Gulf Arab OPEC members led by Saudi Arabia will push for an increase in supplies at a meeting of the oil cartel this week in an effort to support flagging world economic growth by bringing crude prices back below $100 a barrel.

Data indicating that economic recovery may be stalling in the West is worrying OPEC's core Gulf members Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi and its fellow Gulf producers will argue that oil prices are undermining the economic growth that fuels demand for OPEC crude and that more supply is needed to balance demand in the second half of the year.

But Riyadh is not prepared to force-feed crude on to the market to push prices aggressively lower.

OPEC Upstaged by Qaddafi in Most-Hostile Meeting Since Gulf War

OPEC’s decision on production quotas this week may be complicated by hostilities in Libya as members meeting in Vienna find themselves supporting opposing camps of a military conflict for the first time in 21 years.

Saudi Aramco Cuts July Prices for Light Crude Oil Shipments to U.S., Asia

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil exporter, cut official selling prices for light crude grades for July shipments to the U.S. and Asia. The company raised prices on the rest of its grades for July.

Saudi Arabia to double exports of crude oil to India

Saudi Arabia has agreed to double its crude oil exports to India in a move that would reduce the Asian country's dependence on Iranian crude.

Annual Indian crude imports from the kingdom could rise to more than 800,000 barrels per day, an Indian official said yesterday in Riyadh on the sidelines of a Saudi energy conference.

Oil price 'should remain' under $80: Petronas CEO

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia state energy firm Petronas said on Monday that the crude oil market's current fundamentals call for lower oil prices.

"Given the current state of market fundamentals and cost environment, I believe prices should remain within the range of $75 to $80 a barrel," Shamsul Azhar Abbas, the oil company's chief executive officer said at an industry gathering.

'Golden age' beckons for gas

The stage is set for a “golden age” for gas as consumers switch from competing fuels such as nuclear and it could account for more than a quarter of global energy demand by 2035, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Gazprom will not revise Ukraine gas price in '11- CEO

(Reuters) - Russia's gas giant Gazprom will not consider revising the gas price for neighbouring Ukraine in 2011, the company's CEO Alexei Miller told journalists in Russia's Black Sea resort town of Sochi. He also said Ukraine would pay Gazprom around $500 per 1,000 cubic metres of natural gas in the fourth quarter of this year.

China shops for Latin American oil, food, minerals

CARACAS, Venezuela—Latin America is blessed with a wealth of natural resources such as oil, copper and soy, and seeks investment and loans to capitalize on them. China needs the commodities to keep its economy growing and has about $3 trillion in reserves to burn.

Venezuela: Relations with US are 'frozen'

Venezuela's top diplomat says relations with the United States are "frozen" and President Hugo Chavez's government does not perceive any possibility of improving them after Washington imposed sanctions on the South American nation's state oil company.

Lawmaker arrested on corruption charge

ABUJA, Nigeria — Nigeria's anti-corruption agency arrested one of the West African nation's top politicians Sunday night on suspicion of defrauding the oil-rich country, an official said.

'Milestone' for Kuwait Energy

Kuwait Energy, the privately owned oil and gas producer, has signed 20-year contracts to develop two gasfields in Iraq.

The production service contracts for the Siba and Mansuriya fields finalise the Iraqi oil ministry's decision last October to award licences to the foreign consortiums that submitted winning bids for the fields in Iraq's oil and gas auction.

Oil storage tank attacked in southern Iraq

Violence has ebbed in Iraq, but oil infrastructure is still a favorite target for militants, mainly in central and northern Iraq. It is rare for oil infrastructure to be attacked in southern Iraq, where there has traditionally been less violence.

Tepco Falls Most on Record as Bankruptcy Concern Resurfaces

(Bloomberg) -- Tokyo Electric Power Co. shares fell the most on record after the head of Japan’s biggest stock exchange said the utility should follow the same route as Japan Airlines Co. in 2010 and file for bankruptcy protection.

Japan's Edano: must avoid court-led Tepco restructuring

(Reuters) - Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said on Monday that a court-led restructuring of Tokyo Electric Power Co , the operator of the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, must be avoided.

Japan May Tap Geothermal Power to Offset Atomic Loss, BNEF Says

Japan can increase the amount of electricity it generates using geothermal resources to offset power shortages as the government reconsiders its reliance on nuclear energy, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.

Germany Must Find 10 Gigawatts of Capacity, Handelsblatt Says

Germany will have to generate as much as 10 gigawatts of energy capacity from alternative sources to make up the shortfall from its accelerated exit from nuclear power by 2022, Handelsblatt newspaper reported, citing draft legislation.

Libyan rebels seize mountain town

(Reuters) - Libyan rebels entered the mountain town of Yafran Monday, driving out Muammar Gaddafi's forces in a sign NATO air strikes in the region may be paying off.

Yafran had been besieged by pro-Gaddafi forces for more than a month with food, drinking water and medicines running short.

Yemenis Cheer Flight of Wounded President Saleh to Saudi Arabian Hospital

Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis cheered the departure of wounded President Ali Abdullah Saleh to Saudi Arabia even as government spokesmen said he would soon return after receiving medical treatment.

Saleh and other members of his government, including the parliament speaker, the prime minister and two of his aides, were being treated in the Saudi capital of Riyadh for injuries they sustained in a June 3 rocket attack on a mosque in the presidential compound.

Israel to Make Formal Complaint Against Syria

Israel will formally complain to the United Nations about what it said was Syria’s manipulation of Palestinian demonstrators during a violent confrontation in the Golan Heights, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

I Lose a Bet!

Pat is mostly a sensible guy except for his penchant for throwing in his lot with the "crunchy-con" side of things (deploring McMansions, conspicuous consumption, disco revival, etc). Back in 2008 we got into a back-and-forth about "peak oil," and I finally decided Enough!--let's have our own Simon-Ehrlich style bet on oil prices: I proposed that within three years oil would be back below $75 a barrel. Well, the three years is up, and Deneen is triumphantly demanding that I pay up!

Forget Peak Oil. Think Peak Renewables

None of these predictions dispute the peaking of oil production, but disagree only on when it will occur. How helpful is that?

But we can also apply the idea of “peaking” to the renewable energy industry – wind, solar, biomass, hydro.

Cyclists bare all for World Naked Bike Ride

SCORES of people stripped off to take part in the World Naked Bike Ride in York.

The bike ride is held in cities around the world and was picked up in York in 2006 as a protest against oil dependency and car culture.

U.S. Military Favors Biofuels for Waging Future Wars

The U.S. military isn’t keen on War Party member Devin Nunes’ proposal to ramp up the development of a coal-to-fuel technology, which has origins in Nazi Germany, to produce fuel for the empire’s thousands of ships, aircraft, tanks and military equipment.

In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power June 3, Tom Hicks, the Navy’s deputy assistant secretary for energy, questioned the wisdom of using coal-derived Fischer-Tropsch fuels to meet the needs of the Department of Defense.

Wheat Fields Wilt in Drought as Parched Earth Spreads From China to Kansas

The worst droughts in decades are wilting wheat fields from China to the U.S. to the U.K., overwhelming Russia’s return to grain markets and driving prices to the highest levels since 2008.

Parts of China, the biggest grower, had the least rain in a century, some European regions are the driest in 50 years and almost half the winter-wheat crop in the U.S., the largest exporter, is rated poor or worse. Inventory is dropping 8.8 percent, the most in five years, Rabobank International says. Prices will advance 20 percent to as high as $9.25 a bushel by Dec. 31, a Bloomberg survey of 14 analysts and traders shows.

Damaging the Earth to Feed Its People

Humans are cultivating almost 40 percent of the land surface of the earth, and nearly a third of all the greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet comes from agriculture and forestry.

A Grass-Roots Fight to Save a ‘Supertree’

This spring, outraged by plans to uproot hundreds of trees to make way for a new subway line, thousands of Nanjing residents mobilized to oppose the action.

'Roads to Resources' locks up public lands

In the past few years, all of us have spent more than a billion dollars to "beef up" the road, which is owned and maintained by the State of Alaska and considered a "road to resources."

But travel websites warn, "There is no public access to the Arctic Ocean from Deadhorse. You must be on an authorized tour."

At the end of a publicly owned, publicly maintained road, public resources are being extracted, but NO PUBLIC ACCESS.

Scramble for Arctic oil and gas puts pristine ecosystem at risk

The Arctic is becoming a battleground as Russia, Norway, Canada and the US vie for access to oil, gas and minerals – campaigners fear safety and the environment will be the losers.

Greenhouse gas emissions hit record highs - bad news for delegates at climate accord talks

BONN, Germany — Bad news awaits delegates from about 180 countries at the start of two weeks of climate talks beginning Monday to debate a new global warming accord.

Greenhouse gas emissions are going up instead of down despite 20 years of effort, hitting record highs, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency.

Willie Walsh: 'keep emissions trading scheme to European airlines only'

Brussels must delay plans to charge non-European airlines under the emissions trading scheme (ETS), the boss of British Airways and Iberia has warned, or else passengers will be caught up in a trade war between the EU and the US and China.

Thousands rally in Australia for carbon tax

SYDNEY (AFP) – Thousands of Australians rallied around the nation on Sunday to support a tax on the carbon emissions blamed for global warming, as a new report outlined the risks of climate change for sea levels.

Report outlines worst-case climate damage

A new report on the risk of climate change to Australia's coasts predicts sea level rises could claim thousands of buildings and significant infrastructure by the end of the century.

Okay, I know I'm a bit obsessed over the U.S. recovery and I promise I'll stop posting graph after graph on each Drumbeat but I came across some interesting graphs to showcase just how screwed the economic recovery is. Both in terms of unemployment but also, crucially in my opinion, the export/import balance.



Oh, yes Mr. Bernanke, please remove the QE II. I'm sure America will do just fine.


Uh, oh.

Additional commentary:

Here's a simple test of whether the economic recovery is self-sustaining or not: cut Federal spending back to 2007 levels (a $1 trillion reduction) and cancel all Fed intervention such as quantitative easing. If the economy is self-sustaining, it will move forward without Federal spending and Fed intervention.

Here are the deficits of the past three years, and the estimated shortfalls for fiscal years 2011 and 2012:

2008: $458 billion
2009: $1.4 trillion
2010: $1.3 trillion
2011: $1.5 trillion (est.)
2012: $1.6 trillion (est.)

(CBO estimate for 2011)

total: $6.258 trillion in five years.

So the Federal government will have spent over $6 trillion--almost 41% of the nation's annual GDP--just to keep GDP stagnant. That $1 trillion a year in extra spending is 7% of the GDP, which implies that if the Federal budget returned to the carefree, free-money days of 2007, the GDP would contract by 7%.

Read the whole thing.

Now, if you add Fannie and Freddie(which you ought to, I'm excluding future obligations for medicare just to be nice), then debt-to-GDP rises very closely to Greece's for America. Both nations share a similar deficit. Private debt in America is still around 265 %, despite years of deleveraging(this is higher than the peak of the Great depression).

Meanwhile, the Fed is artificially keeping up asset prices through Quantative Easing, since the house is the major source of wealth for most citizens. As QE withdraws, so will the artificial barrier to default and foreclosure for many citizens, which will compound the losses for the banks.

And a lot of these mortages are also contained on Fannie and Freddie, which the U.S. Gov owns.
The toxic is still there, and the deleveraging have been too slow to stave off further value shortfalls. A little-known newspiece came out a few days ago which stated that according to official statistics, the drop in housing prices is now great(from peak to current bottom) than it ever was during the Great Depression.

Last time QE was dropped, about the same time last year, the market fell nearly 20 % just over the course of the summer until the Bernank felt he had to step in and launch QE II to avoid a double dip into the abyss. Now it's almost time to drop QE II.

Are you watching Mystic report the "World News" on:


He's a real doomer.

Nope, I try to stay away from people/things called anything like 'Mystic'.
(I would advise you to do the same)

Instead, I enjoy these:

And of course Krugman's blog.
Cato's got a few neoclassical blogs, if you want that perspective covered too(just remember that the Koch brothers are behind Cato, so keep it in mind. They have an agenda).

What a deep argument. Nothing like picking your company by their online handle. Good thing he didn't reference his skin color or political leanings. This guy has been publishing a video every weekday for years. And his links between peak oil and the banking woes are worth a listen. He also spends time trying to understand the EU issues. He is British, but lives in France. Just saying, not everything is in a name.

I read these too. And of course another great blog: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com


I appreciate your graphs, but what is your point? Yeah, growth is now harder to come by. The amazing thing about graph 1 is not the slow recovery in this recession, which has challenged fundamental assumptions and institutions, but rather the slow recovery from both the 1990 and 2001 recessions.

Coincidently (or not), this change in economic behavior corresponds (exactly) to the warping of our tax structure so middle class Americans no longer benefit from growth in the economy. No demand, no growth (once credit runs out), not rocket science. Unequivocally, the supply siders have won, we have plenty of capitol for investment - just no opportunities in the US with reasonable return. Of course investors chase ponzi (financial) schemes, no real investment provides the return they believe they are entitled too.

I don't really accept the US government debt arguments either (future problem yes, current problem no). Private debt has increased much more than public debt and is currently the problem because it is already unsustainable.

On exports, yeah, thats the bright spot in the US economy - I mean, it is - actually - not joking.

Thanks for sharing those graphs comparing unemployment during this current recessions to those preceding it. I hadn't seen such a striking comparison before. By following the most recent analogue occurring during the dot-com troubles of last decade, this recession will take approximately 3 times as long to recover from, assuming no other major disturbances. Its striking to see how quickly some of the early recessions in the post-war economy turned around in comparison. Paints quite a bleak prognosis for the short-term.

". . . , this recession will take approximately three times as long to recover from, . . ."

What makes you think we are going to recover at all from this recession? With oil imports down and continuing to fall for the U.S., I think economic growth is only in the past, not in the future.

Take a look at shadowstats.com; according to John Williams's numbers we are still in a recession, and rates of inflation are greater than the officially announced ones. I think his numbers are closer to reality than are the government numbers.

Our future is likely to be one of stagnation alternating with recession or depression. By 2020 I expect the headline inflation number will be about 20%, and there will be nothing that fiscal and monetary policy can do to return to economic growth so as to reduce the rate of unemployment. Already it is apparent that massive stimulus from monster federal deficits plus very easy monetary policy from the Fed has done little to stimulate the economy over the past couple of years.

The end of QE2 plus drastic budget cutting by governments (federal, state, local) will tend to reduce growth in the economy.

So my question comes down to: What recovery?

My sentiments exactly Don. Oil is the lifeblood of the economy and as long as the blood is draining slowly out there can be no recovery.

Don't you find it strange that none of the politicians, on the right or on the left, have connected the declining oil supply to the declining economy. Of course they all cite "oil prices" and some cry "drill, drill, drill", in the mistaken belief that this will fix the oil problem.

Of course nothing will fix the oil problem because we passed peak oil way back in 2006 and we passed peak net oil exports back in 2005. There is only one way to go from here.

Ron P.

I think almost all politicians and journalists buy into the "conventional wisdom" happy talk from EIA, IEA, USGS, CERA and the rest of the crowd that says, "No oil problem for the next twenty years."

How it is possible to ignore declining oil imports since 2005 is answered with one word: Denial. Note that denial is robust, because it uses selective inattention and selective perception to keep denying even obvious facts. For example, today the "Wall Street Journal" ran articles on the upcoming OPEC meetings. The journalists conclusions were that quotas would be changed to ratify existing production, which is in excess of OPEC's quota limits. There was discussion about the possibility of increasing quotas--and production--without the slightest hint that there might not be the excess production capacity available to increase production. In other words, the story was that although some members of OPEC want to increase production (KSA, Kuwait, probably UAE) the majority were opposed to this. Thus the failure to increase production is seen as purely a matter of internal OPEC politics and has nothing to do with a lack of excess production capacity. Such is the conventional wisdom.

Don, I presume you and others have noted that slow employment recoveries began when oil was cheap (1990 and 2001). At least that aspect of the current recovery is not new.

It is also said that major financial implosions take a lot longer to work through than ordinary business cycle recessions. We all know the proerty lending and debt is just mountains of toxic sludge, and it will take years to work out of the system.

I no longer find this behavior strange, once I understood that I wasn't looking at myself. Not just in words or semantics, I needed to "get" that whatever is going on in most other peoples' heads is not at all like how I think. "We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are." (Anais Nin) The evidence is that they don't explore, or investigate, or challenge, never admit or even recognize when they're wrong (which is necessary for new learning).

Clearly, explanations and debate, with the intent of improving understanding, can be directed at some people. And when I say some people, I'm clearly lying, because it's actually less than a tenth of a percent of the population who have thinking to latch onto in their heads.

For everyone else, clearly a different solution path must be taken. Commanding, abandoning, coercion, manipulation, cajoling, bargaining, these are among the remaining solutions.

"Most people can't think, most of the remainder won't think, the small fraction who do think mostly can't do it very well. The extremely tiny fraction who think regularly, accurately, creatively, and without self-delusion – in the long run, these are the only people who count ... and they are the very ones who migrate when it is physically possible to do so." (Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough For Love")

At some point, the thinkers give up and leave to try something else.

I suspect that everyone thinks they are in that "special" catagory just like everyone is a better than average driver.

Interesting 710, of course I like to think I'm part of the small, thinking fraction. I think most on this site would be. Every once and a while I question whether I really am as open minded as you say this small fraction of thinkers is, because often in debates I will not relent. I keep on saying the same things over and over again, in different ways, usually to no avail. Is this because I'm butt-headed and narrow minded? In analysis, it seems that most people I lock horns with are indeed part of the larger non-thinking crowd. Sometimes if someone shows me evidence or convincing arguments that challenge what I hold to be true, I switch over and accept different explanations with little hesitation, if warranted. I guess that's why I like to call myself a scientist..... something we should all try to uphold as much as we can because you know what part of the crowd our leaders come from.

"The extremely tiny fraction who think regularly, accurately, creatively, and without self-delusion – in the long run, these are the only people who count ... and they are the very ones who migrate when it is physically possible to do so."

Interestingly, I just applied for immigration to New Zealand to get away from North America..... because the US is toast and I want to be nowhere near it when it collapses.

..and of course there is the old..

"I think, therefore I am."

..'DesCartes thinks he thinks, therefore he thinks he is..'


I couldn't agree more. In fact, I believe those who posit "the new normal" are going to be blindsided as things keep devolving. It's especially sad that many people will continue to structure their lives around a dead belief, i.e., growth is coming back, that the good times are around the corner.


I, also, agree completely. Declining available cheap oil for the US will slow growth as Jeff Rubin says.

Does anyone have a feel for how much of the high price of oil is due to the declining value of the dollar and how much is due to higher demand relative to supply?

and how much is due to higher demand relative to supply?

Or how much due constant demand relative to the declining supply?

In all seriousness there has been some recovery in the oil supply since it hit bottom in early 2009. I doubt that net oil exports have recovered much at all but we don't have the 2010 data yet. I am betting it will be pretty flat in 2010 and down again in 2011 with the decline in Libyan supply along with the ever increasing consumption by most exporting nations.

In fact the EIA U.S. Petroleum Overview shows US net crude oil imports down 227,000 barrels per day, 2009 to 2010 and down another 575,000 barrels per day average for the first four months of 2011.

US Net Oil Imports, 2000 thru 2011 in thousands of barrels per day. The last point represents the average for the first four months of 2011.

US Net Oil Imports

Ron P.

Perhaps this is the answer - a comment on Zero Hedge this morning:

Actually, I am buying gold crucifixes. Gives me double coverage for upcoming events.

Ian Welsh in a posting today says that the Masters will keep the oil age going by any means necessary, whatever the consequences:

Assume that what is happening is, essentially, what your lords and masters are at least okay with having happen. If they weren’t, it wouldn’t be happening. This isn’t a case of incompetence, they didn’t even try to make this stuff not happen.

The future you’ve got coming from you is a future of unconventional oil extraction: aka fracking. The play is to get back to cheapish oil and make that run for as long as it can. That is what WILL happen. That is baked into the cake. The only economy these people want to run is an petro economy. They will do whatever it takes to run one and continue to use their position in control of legacy capital to extract rent and tax the future. There will be more controls on so-called intellectual property (a contradiction in terms if there ever was one). There will be more security theater. There will be more austerity, which means taking public assets and turning them into what appear to be revenue producing private assets.

This will go on until the last drop of cheapish conventional oil has been pumped and the last suburb built. Americans, and apparently the developed world, will do whatever is required to see this happen. They will kill whoever they have to kill. That’s what the developed world is, now. . . . This the future, the next goodish economy will come from unconventional extraction. Not sure how long that will last. It will come at great environmental and health costs, but Americans will give up anything to keep the petro-economy going, so, so be it.

Ian Welsh comments from Canada, and has a pretty good record of analysis.

Yes, and for the unconventionals the beauty part is the Canadians gets all the environmental pollution.

I wish the Canadian had the sense or the control of their government to protect themselves.

Nonsense - the empire will have that energy, and the Canadians (fully part of the empire anyway) have no choice about it, and they will deal with whatever environmental consequences result. This is not a friendly playground game, this is for keeps.

Don't stop posting useful graphics. You know what they say about the worth of a picture...

So what is the meaning of your Gloom?
Why is the debt growing under Obama? We were running deficits for 8 years under the Bush tax cuts so when the economy crashed,economic activity and therefore tax receipts fell further.
Additional money was spent first fighting to save Wall Street and then to fight the recession itself aka unemployment insurance, etc.not to mention the idiocy of extending Bush's tax cuts and now payroll tax cuts.

The problem per Krugman is the stimulus was just too small to raise up the whole world economy. This should surprise no one,
the US lost $13 T in wealth and the stimulus was $1T($4T according to Krauthammer).

Thanks to market-friendly stupidity(starting with Bill Clinton), the US has literally shipped its industry overseas to China.

QE2 will end in August and there must be QE3. Contrary to
dire predictions, treasuries are holding up well despite massive
money creation. The dollar is still the reserve currency because it's better than all the other.

The free-market religion of Wall Street/GOP should have been put on trial for this disaster but they own America so we must blame
Obama who has almost no control over the economy(Congress has a lot more) for the fact that the economy is sputtering.
GOP now is intent on driving the US to default to gain some token political points.

What kind of brain thinks that threatening to default on the national debt will cause a economic revival?

The solutions are obvious.
Put Americans to work. Stop exporting jobs, export products.
Keep the economy from stalling at all costs. Coordinate international efforts to fight the Deflation.
Raise taxes to balance the budget(not reduce the debt). End the foreign wars.

"Put Americans to work. Stop exporting jobs, export products."

The problem is that everyone wants to be a net exporter. Someone has to run a trade deficit, but that eventually blows up your economy even if the people import from buy your debt. (the US is here) Ideally, China and India would now reverse and become net importers, and buy US products. This does not seem likely in the near future.

So export what to whom is indeed the great question.

Why can't the US just withdraw to the North American Continent, and trade amongst the States and Provinces? Wouldn't be much different than Europe.

There really are network effects, which mean that the larger your economic sphere the more specialized areas of the economy can grow and become efficient. I work on one end of the economy that is on the extreme end of that, computers and software. If you are designing one computer chip to service the entire globe (Intel) you can employ a team of thousands of experts (recruited from all over the world) to make advances. Split that level of investment up into a hundred competing projects and progress would be many times slower. Software is similar, hire the best of the world and market the result to the entire world, that works much better than every small state trying to replicate that for every application. Progress would slow to a crawl. Now for some industries, the network effect is pretty weak (think of say harvesting firewood, hard to make that work on a global scale).

I remember how well that worked for General Motors in the '70s when they had a virtual monopoly on the sale of cars in the US (52% of the market).

They got skotched by imports that started with a tiny fraction of the market. Its hungry folks, not monopolies, that innovate.

I suspect, after spending almost 40 years in factories, that there are limits to manufacturing efficiency also. When you reach a certain size you lose breadth of control.

Food,raw materials, energy to start.
The US has the large reserves of coal, natural gas and oil shale.
Of course we would have to reverse the Export Land Model.

In the early recessions on your graph, the US was an industrial economy. Coping with a recession was straightforward then. When people were laid off by the factories, increase government spending to stimulate demand for manufacuted goods and the factories would subsequently rehire.

One problem now is that we lost a lot of jobs in construction. But there is really now way to restart demand, since we are overbuilt in both residential and commercial buildings. It will take time for enough homes to burn or be bulldozed in order to restore demand for new housing. In the office building area, there is no shortage either. Companies continue to be more creative in use of space, with more jobs going off-shore, going to work at home, being done by people on the move, or being automated away. Retail is also well supplied, with on-line eating into demand for retail space.

So several million jobs connected with real estate construction will not be coming back soon.

The second, more fundamental, problem is that restarting a service economy is much harder than restarting a manufacturing economy, since output is not as much a direct function of labor input.

To take an example, if Bank A buys Bank B during a financial crisis, moves the Bank B accounts on its IT systems, and fires all the IT employees at Bank B, there is no reason for Bank A to hire more IT people when the crisis passes. What actually happened is that the service economy has been simplified and made less complex due to the need to maintain only one set of bank IT infrastructure instead of two. Bank A only hires more IT employees if it enters new businesses that require new and different applications.

This example was repeated many times in different companies, in various service business and in the "service departments" of all businesses during the recession. Once companies figure out how to do business with fewer employees in service occupation roles, they do not expand them very fast as business builds back. In fact, they found that getting efficiency in these areas was competitively advantageous and helped them get through the recession -- an advantage that they are unlikely to give up.

Yes, you make some very well thought out points.
When the U.S. switched from being the largest creditor nation in the world during the 80s to the largest debtor nation in the world, one way to keep increasing economic growth was through consumption, and especially consumption riddled with debt. And the best way to do that is through the housing market.

Now that the housing market will continue to fall due to oversupply for the near, and perhaps even medium term, that will cut at least 1 % in GDP growth. Add to this, the food and oil prices which are in highs not seen for decades. And they are both here to stay.

The Fed counts inflation with the so-called 'CPI'. This excludes food and oil prices because it's deemed 'too volatile'. The fact is that with both food and oil prices, growth falls to near zero or even sub-zero with QE II.

Your points on the retailing, service sectors visavi manufacturing are spot on and does not need any further commenting.

I personally see QE III as increasingly likely by the day.
But it may not be a large program like that. I've read the other day on Reuter's news service that the Obama administration is preparing a fresh new mortage package(note that TARP already allocated about $50 billion for distressed homeowners, as well as QE I & II buying up the bank's toxic loans, to homeowners).

This will be employed in the short term and if it doesn't stop the bleeding, then we will likely see more various kinds of packages. I don't think QE III will come in a single, major announcement(it will look bad politically). Instead, I think QE III will come out in parts, spread over a period of time and under different names and for different reasons. But QE III, whatever it's shape, form or name, will most likely come as QE II winds down. In fact, they've already begun on the mortage sector.

Whatever it is, it will not be called QE III, and it is possible that it will be done without being announced.

Normally the Fed controls interest rates by setting the overnight interest rate or other comparably short term interest rates. However, QE had the dual objectives of supplying additional liquidity and of suppressing the longer end of the interest rate curve through open market purchases of mostly Treasury Securities.

The financial system is awash in liquidity, so that rationale is no longer valid.

The long end of the interest rate curve is still a worry. 15 and 30 year mortgage rates are low, but if they start to tick up, it would be bad for the very weak housing market. Treasury has been extending the maturity of US debt, but if long term rates rise, then either Treasury has to bring down maturities or has to pay more interest on longer term debt. Shortening Treasury maturities increases rollover risks and is very undesirable.

On balance, I think that the Fed will probably not act immediately following the expiration of QE II, but instead they will keep their eye on the long dated Treasury interest rates and on the mortgage interest rates. If the latter rise, there may be some fairly targeted program for mortgage rates specifically. Pushing out more money into other long term debt is less likely.

Bernanke Admits Economy Slowing; No Hint of New Stimulus from CNBC.

Bernanke's speech is at The U.S. Economic Outlook

I think that the view is that there will be no QE III, but that the Fed will roll over its maturing Treasuries and not reduce its balance sheet as they mature.

It partially depends who's stats you believe. Shadow Government Statistics says we have contracted about 20% since 2001. Likewise it depends what you think inflation is. Could be that in constant dollars federal tax revenue is down a significant amount. I do not follow this in detail but my 50,000 feet view is significant inflation since 2001 and significant contraction in real terms. Might explain in part the high cost of food in grocery and the high cost of gas.

Yes without the 2.2 trillion (GAAP) deficit the GDP would be even lower. I think a dollar od deficit is more like 2 dollars of GDP. So 4.4 trillion lower?

As we can easily understand from your post Leiten, the trouble with relying on crutches (stimulus & QE's) is it becomes harder to walk (keep the economy buzzing) without one or both. Fact is the economy's expansion (rise in GDP) was facilitated by cheap oil. Now we are on to higher priced oil it's an uphill battle just to keep BAU.

Maybe they are crutches. But those crutches represent actual real live people who had jobs before they were laid off because of the concern over the deficit. Those real live people spend money which is part of aggregate demand which translates into GDP. But as was said above, the impact through the so called multiplier effect seems to not be as great as it used to be through leakage (imports) and the fact that the quality of the jobs created seems to have fallen. Half (literally) of the private jobs created recently was from McDonalds. That provides a pretty good clue as to the quality of private sector jobs.

Putting aside the gross numbers like GDP, the stimulus is real and useful if you spend it on things like conservation, better infrastructure, solar panels, wind energy, more efficient autos, more compact cities, etc. These are real things that would be useful as we descend from the peak.

Frankly, I don't think anyone has a very good handle on where we go from here. However, it may be futile if the primary focus is on GDP, which doesn't really do a very good job of measuring quality of life, anyway. At minimum, we must try to figure out how you employ people without the crude club of aggregate demand. That crude club doesn't seem to be working very well anymore.

Expensive oil is a given but it should not be used as an excuse to just throw up our hands. Suffering is a given but I think our current policies or lack thereof is just an excuse to do nothing. The primary imperative of those on the left is to keep taxes down on the rich. If everything else goes to hell, it is still mission accomplished.

Putting aside the gross numbers like GDP, the stimulus is real and useful if you spend it on things like conservation, better infrastructure, solar panels, wind energy, more efficient autos, more compact cities, etc. These are real things that would be useful as we descend from the peak.

The operative word there is if, as in if it had been spent on those things mentioned, but over 1/2 was on dumb redundant tax cuts which squandered a great opportunity to kickstart renewables on a really big scale.

GDP is the number that reflects economic activity. If you've got a better number or know how to talk the world out of that number then step forward and give a good yell.

As far as stimulus goes, no new stimulus will be approved by the House because deficits are too big.

If you've got a better number or know how to talk the world out of that number then step forward and give a good yell.

OK, stepping forward and yelling at the top of my lungs...

OECD launches happiness index


– Tue May 24, 5:35 am ET

PARIS (AFP) – A so-called "happiness index" to measure well-being and perceptions of living conditions came into life at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development on Tuesday.

Called officially "Your better life index", the new measure is part of a wider OECD programme to measure well-being and progress and is launched to mark the 50th anniversary of the OECD.

The index covers 11 areas: housing, incomes, employment, social relationships, education, the environment, the administration of institutions, health, general satisfaction, security and the balance between work and family.

Just try not to eat the E.coli infected brussel sprouts...

So OECD is promoting a composite number combining disparate elements using whatever set of weights some bunch of ivory-tower academics or bureaucrats pushing some fashionable agenda du jour feel like pulling out of ... well, let's call it thin air. Or, given the wonders of modern computers, whichever at-least semi-plausible set of weights creates the country-ranking that best fits said agenda. Ain't progress wonderful?

Never mind...

It beats GDP, which is a terrible metric, and looks like a step in the right direction to me.


PS just hates it 'cause it points out that one more truism of his ideology is in fact a 'fals-ism.'

Rising GDP does not necessarily correspond with rising general welfare.

A moments thought would have made this obvious, but those enamored of outmoded economic models rarely find the time or energy to actually think for an entire moment.

Just pity any German tourists in Spain, at the moment. Their happiness index will be falling fast.


the house is the major source of wealth for most citizens.

If things change and most houses are built in wrong place this must be really bad. The major source of wealth would disappear and all the infrastructure built to support them would also be worthless. Roads, sewer systems, telecommunication, schools, hospitals absolutely everything.

I grow up in the Swedish country side and there is a lot of farms abandoned during the sixties or something like that then tractors and fertilizers became common. Most of the people moved to the cities there a lot of new suburbs there built during this time but it would totally different if they could not afford to stay because of energy bills.

Nice post.

But everybody knows the U.S. is in bad shape.

The only people who don't think this are the financiers, the talking heads in D.C. la-la-land, and perhaps some who think linkedin and groupon can somehow support an economy of 310 million people.

Mark my words, the savers of dollars and the bondholders are going to be wiped out. It's the only way at this point.

Get your money out of the banks and into precious metals, hard assets, durable goods, and perhaps stocks of good companies, especially in the mining/agriculture/energy sectors. Distressed real estate is probably OK, as long as it's in a decent location vis a vis food/water/energy/transportation/services. Put lots of money down and make absolutely sure that you do your homework and cross your t's, you don't want to deal with any monkey business in mortgages these days.

Get out of 401k's and retirement plans. We are soon going to realize that if it's not your money to do what you want right now, it's not your money at all.

Eliminate all and any unnecessary spending - entertainment and travel, in particular, come to mind.

If you want to be the sucker, then sure, save lots of cash and put it into banks and treasuries, even though it's earning no interest and food and energy are going up.

Of course, the trick is to remain just liquid enough to pay the bills and afford the stuff of daily living. Easier said than done. But there's no point saving lots of dollars.

I'm fighting back. The Fed can choke on it's debt and confetti currency for all I care.

Ben Bernanke just spoke about PEAK OIL!!!

"Indeed, OPEC's production of oil today remains about 3 million barrels per day below the PEAK level of mid-2008.

With the demand for oil rising rapidly and the supply of crude stagnant, increases in oil prices are hardly a puzzle. "

Live on bloomberg TV now.

Full speech:

He is also said that gasoline prices are the major driver of current inflation. And at the end, he said the main priority is to control inflation. Well, I think we are in a global recession or the Fed has to tackle rising gas prices. The latter would be much more interesting than the former.

As I have explained, most FOMC participants currently see the recent increase in inflation as transitory and expect inflation to remain subdued in the medium term. Should that forecast prove wrong, however, and particularly if signs were to emerge that inflation was becoming more broadly based or that longer-term inflation expectations were becoming less well anchored, the Committee would respond as necessary. Under all circumstances, our policy actions will be guided by the objectives of supporting the recovery in output and employment while helping ensure that inflation, over time, is at levels consistent with the Federal Reserve's mandate.

As he sees inflation as transitory and gas prices driving inflation, therefore, in his view, higher gas prices are transitory. While I think that gas prices may stabilize or go down a bit for awhile, I don't think transitory is the right word. In any event, the words he uses do not seem to be tethered to the real world, and by real world I mean the physical world that most of us are forced to inhabit. Monetary policy cannot overcome the effects of the reality of peak oil except to the extent that one addresses peak oil by continued recession and near depression.

I would like to know how the fed addresses rising gas prices without deepening the recession. I also don't see how the priority can be to control inflation at this time.

As he sees inflation as transitory and gas prices driving inflation, therefore, in his view, higher gas prices are transitory.

Maybe not. With these things, you always have to take the right number of derivatives (or sometimes just whatever number gives the sign you want.) "Inflation" is normally the current rate of change (derivative) of the general price level (except to the "Austrian School" who use their own impenetrable private definition.) So if, as you suggest, gas prices stay put for a while, then they cease to contribute directly to "inflation" for that time. That doesn't in any way imply that high gas prices themselves would be transitory, just that if they stayed put for a while, then the recent rising phase ("inflation") would have been.

Naturally, people wouldn't magically become able to afford the other stuff they used to buy with what they're now spending on gas, but from the viewpoint of rate-of-change, that's water under the bridge, analogous to a sunk cost. The affordability problem would remain, but for a while it wouldn't be getting even worse.

Monetary policy cannot overcome the effects of the reality of peak oil except to the extent that one addresses peak oil by continued recession and near depression.

That is how I understand it to work, too. However, I believe the Fed might have the power to inspire a cultural revolution if the leading global capitalists so deem it necessary. That is the direction I see the Fed moving by making these comments. Unless I have missed something in the past, these comments are groundbreaking.

Even if you don't take higher commodity prices (its not just oil/gasoline folks) as temprary, the important thing Fed policywise, is will the increased consumer costs lead to generalized inflation (i.e. can it drive up the price of goods and services that don't require gas? The current opinion is no. Unemployment is enough of a threat, that employees can't damand their bosses give a a raise large enough to pay for the increased cost of gas & food. So it is not a threat to ignite general inflation. The economy price wise is working as it should, if commodities are more expensive (and imported), then in the collective average we end up poorer. If people had the power to demand extra pay to make up for it, then that forces other prices to rise, so staying even with such a shock is a receding horizon problem, and what you end up with if everyone tries to get more pay to maintance their status pre-spike, is seventies style inflationary spiral. But that doesn't look like a threat in the present environment.

If you didn't see the 60 Minutes episode on Wall Street High Speed Trading last night you should definitely watch it today at the link below.

How speed traders are changing Wall Street

Most people don't know it, but the majority of the stock trades in the United States are no longer being made by human beings. They're being made by robot computers, capable of buying and selling thousands of different securities in the time it takes you to blink an eye...

As we first reported last fall, the Securities and Exchange Commission and members of Congress have begun asking some tough questions about its usefulness, potential dangers and suspicions that some people may be using computers to manipulate the market.

This story should answer this question... for those who take the time to watch it anyway. It is 13.5 minutes long. The entire idea of high speed trading is to make money... and more money... and more money. Once you watch this episode it should be very clear to you exactly what is happening.

Ron P.

They aren't kidding about that 'blink of an eye' timescale. For interesting details google on market crop circles.

You know what they say about poker: "If you sit down at the table and you don't know who the patsy is ... you're the patsy."

Unfortunately, that seems to apply to the stock market these days. We left the table in 2001.


The analysis should be even simpler than that:
Why run an expensive high-speed trading operation?
Because there is more money to be made that way.

Where does the money come from?
Other traders.

Why would anyone who isn't a high-speed trader enter that market?
Because they didn't ask themselves the first two questions.

The answer is obvious ..
Don't try to play their game ..

I don't "trade" ..
I invest ..

All I care about when I choose to buy or
sell is that there is enough liquidity to
accommodate my transaction at the time
I place my order and that the
bid/offer spread is narrow ..

The HFTers in my view are providing
necessary liquidity to the marketplace ..

Triff ..

I invest, you trade, he speculates.

HFT machines aren't providing a service, they are making a profit for their owners. If that happens to benefit anyone else in any way it is purely incidental.

> I invest, you trade, he speculates.

The differences are quite simple.

An investment provides cash flow while you continue to own it. A stock provides dividends, a house provides rent, etc.

A trader knows, with 100% certainty, she can sell what she buys for more than she paid.

Everything else is speculation, gambling; although it's often called trading or investment to confuse the naive.

You are correct on the definitions, but people are notoriously bad at telling which of these they are doing.

Incorrect. When you come to the market to buy the stock you want to hold for the next year, you buy it from me, the guy who bought the stock with intent to hold for a few seconds (why yes, I am doing HFT).

Why do you buy it from me? Because a few seconds before you posted your order, I posted mine, and the broker brought you my way because I was offering the lowest price. If I'm not there, you get to buy from the next guy in the queue, and that costs you one penny more. This is the service I am providing. And I keep providing it so long as it makes me money.

Thats true, in theory, the traders add liquidity (and efficiency) to the market. I don't think thats how the high speed trading works. The idea is for their computer program to spot the good deals (the guy that threw out a sell order $.01 too cheap, and snap it up a millisecond before you find it. Then he makes it available to you for $.01 more than be bought it for. So the HFT guys are trying a make tiny amounts per trade, but make billions of trades. They are trying to skim the noise of the system for nickels and dimes. Mere mortals of course can only participate by giving our money to some fat-cat trading house.

What if neither me nor the seller require liquidity that second? What if getting the trade done that day (or even that hour) is sufficient?

Then you are providing a "service" that has no value to me or the seller, for a price that neither of us agreed to pay.

"What if neither me nor the seller require liquidity that second?"

I am not just offering you speed. I am also offering you a price better by one penny. If you do have all day, then you can post a limit order instead of a market order, and if it's not at the price I am posting, then we don't trade. Either somebody comes and fills your order at your price, or you don't get the stock. But if you don't have all day, my presence in the market gets you a better price.

You had to buy the stock from someone in the first place, for less than the price you sold it to me for, or there is no profit.

If you weren't in the middle making that first buy to flip right away then I might have been able to execute my trade directly against the seller you bought the stock from, for a penny less than you would have sold it to me for.

Someone might have beat me to it, but in your scenario you did beat me to it. You were just willing to sell again right away (at a profit to yourself).

"You had to buy the stock from someone in the first place, for less than the price you sold it to me for, or there is no profit."

And you weren't there to buy it from him. If you had been there, you would have gotten the better price. But you have other things to do from 9 to 5. So you bought it from me. And if I weren't there, you would be buying it from somebody else, possibly the specialist, which would guarantee a worse price for you.

"If you weren't in the middle making that first buy to flip right away then I might have been able to execute my trade directly against the seller you bought the stock from, for a penny less than you would have sold it to me for."

No. If you had been there a minute earlier, you would have pushed me out of the way (exchange regulations are on your side, not mine). But you weren't. So it was a matter of dealing with me or with a different middleman. I am the best middleman available to you. Before the likes of me came along, the middleman's fee was 12.5 cents a share. Now it is under a cent.

You're welcome.

The whole point of HFT is to spot those trades and get in the middle of them as quickly as possible.

To be the middlemen for the middlemen.

If you had only been there a second earlier you could have bought from the original seller instead of the millisecond-level HFT you did. You most likely sold to an HFT instead of me as well.

They might have only sliced a fraction of a cent off either end, but that is still money that came from someone else in the transaction chain. And those fractions of a cent add up to the point that HFT is a major driver of supercomputing and high-speed telecommunications technology.

We'll get back up to the $0.125/share for the retail investor soon enough, if we aren't there already, because as the margin per trade has dropped the number of layers of traders has increased.

"The whole point of HFT is to spot those trades and get in the middle of them as quickly as possible.

To be the middlemen for the middlemen."

No. The point is to be the most competitive middleman. Our competitive edge comes from automated trading, which allows us to profit from a tiny spread. Our predecessors required costly human oversight, which is why their fee was higher.

Sigh. No money is made in these activities. Great wealth may be accumulated, but really, no money is made.

The Red Queen has become a machine! Running to keep up.. "Jane, how do you stop this crazy thing?!"

We just had a family owned food-processing company in Portland get sold to an Ohio Company (Barber Foods), and will now be automated, putting many locals out of work. Kind of off-topic from what you're offering,.. and kind of not. http://www.kjonline.com/news/ohio-company-acquires-barber-foods_2011-06-...

"We saw our customers and competitors getting bigger and bigger, and the only way we can make this work is to join forces," said Barber.

Heaven help us.

And yet people watch CNBC much of the day for a "clue". Maybe they will just start playing CNBC to the machines. If they told the suckers the truth, CNBC would close down.

Imagine the consternation should the U.S. Government place a sales tax on "trades"?

Oh, you are vicious, what a wickedly pleasant thought. It would only have to be a fraction of a percent.

Wow, the Gov could nickel and dime the big investment firms the way the investment firms nickel and dime private investors.

Never happen.

I believe the economist Hazel Henderson proposed just this quite a while ago.

But, you're right, the boys will never allow their toys (or the games they play with them) to be diminished in any way.

Unless we force it.

The government already does this. It's called the SEC fee. It applies to SELL orders only, not BUY orders. Last time I checked, it was about $5.40 per $1,000,000.

Hello Hardhat,

I wrote to my two US Senators to suggest this about 20 years ago. This was bafck in the days when they would reply to every letter. Their replies were the most amazing display of bafflegab that I ever saw. The only real difference between the two was that the Democrat needed two pages to say nothing, while the Republican was able to say nothing on a single page.

For sure, that's a great report. It was claimed that the high speed trading "adds liquidity" to the markets, but it's rather obvious that what they are doing is removing substantial amounts of "capital" from the markets. One wonders whether these guys would do all this bit fiddling were it paper upon which the trades were recorded. Better yet, if they had to keep track of every purchase and sale to calculate capital gains taxes, they would drowned in data. Maybe taxing each trade would be a way to put a stop to this madness...

E. Swanson

Climate of fear: Australia scientists face death threats

Australia's leading climate change scientists are being targeted by a vicious, unrelenting email campaign that has resulted in police investigations of death threats.

The Australian National University has confirmed it moved several high-profile climate scientists, economists and policy researchers into more secure buildings, following explicit threats to their personal safety.

Scientists at universities in NSW and Queensland have told of being moved to high security buildings, where their names do not appear on staff directory lists or on their office door.

The more obvious the climate trends become, the more certain the denialists are that the climate researchers are evil. Australia is doomed and the scientists are threatened as if it is their fault.

Australia is doomed

I don't know why so many people think this, when it's just not the case. Australia will be fine - its biggest threat is if the world economy collapses, as it does import a lot of manufactured goods.

Apart from that, it is self sufficient in everything except oil, and there is plenty of scope to reduce oil use, though this is not being done as aggressively as it could be.

As for global warming, it is already hot and dry! Of all the places that are used to living with hot and dry weather - that would be Oz (and Israel).

It is going to get hotter and drier! I think the saving grace for Australia is a small population. It is wealthy enough to do desalination for 20 million people.

Yes, the small population is the saving grace, as long as the Aust government decides to keep it that way.

so it will get hotter, and - maybe - drier - but maybe not. if the Indian ocean warms up there will be an increase in moisture coming onto the continent.

Desalination is already being done - there are enough plants operating or under construction for 1,300 ML/day - enough for the daily needs of about 5 million people.

The energy requirement for this is about 220MW - about 1/4 of a modern coal fired power plant - you could desalinate the domestic water requirements of the whole country for one 1000MW plant.

That said, the Perth and Sydney plants both use wind power.

The cost to produce desal water is about $2/cu.m - or, 50c per person per day. I'll pay ten times that if need be.
So, really, supply of drinking water is not a big problem. Given that Australia produces more than twice as much food as it eats, that is not a big problem either.

And energy, well, other than oil, there is plenty of fossil, and renewable energy to be had.

I just don;t see cause for the doom - we are used to hot and dry - many other countries/places are not. They are the ones that should be worried.

Would Australia get drier? If the tropic belts move south some parts should get wetter. Tasmania might get drier.

One thing that happens with higher temps, is that drying (or wetting, if you are in that phase, like Northeast last fall), happens faster. Evaporation rates go up exponentially with temperature, so a dry spell turns into a drought that much faster. And then when the rains come they are heavier, so it takes a shorter amount of time before it starts flooding.

Funny. I use to think of Australia as the western country in the world to be most seriously kicked in the rectum buy climate change. Already beeing the hottest and dryest country, you have very little margin to lose more to CC. And desalinting for 20 million is very expensive.

Re: reducing Asian dependence on Iranian oil:

Iran needs $60 bn from foreign banks to stop 1 mb/d oil production drop by 2015. Anyone interested?

Sound like an opportunity for China to buy oil cheap from Iran. They can do what they did with Brazil. We will pay all development costs and you will sell us oil for $20 per barrel for 30 years (Brazil might have been 20 years not sure).

Re: 'Roads to Resources' locks up public lands

At the end of a publicly owned, publicly maintained road, public resources are being extracted, but NO PUBLIC ACCESS.

I don't think the author realizes what is going on with these roads. I used to work in the Alberta oil industry, but I suspect Alaska is similar. The Alberta government used to build really first-class roads to oil fields. And then they would just end. Travel past that point was on oil company roads.

Now, the oil companies didn't really care if someone else used their roads, but the government would order us to take out a specialized kind of lease from them that allowed us to put up locked gates and NO PUBLIC ACESS signs (the ordinary sort of oil lease wouldn't allow us to do that). And then they would order us to put up gates and NO PUBLIC ACCESS signs.

Government doesn't "lock up" land from "us." That is the "us" who fish, hunt and fill our freezers with wild things.... The "us" who snowmachine into the lonely hills and eat a hot lunch from under the cowling.

Those are exactly the sort of people the government wanted to keep out. Hunters and fishermen (frequently poachers) who would kill all the animals and fish out all the lakes, and then race around on snowmobiles (frequently drunk), harassing and stressing out the animals they didn't kill.

The oil companies had their own rules - Maximum speed 50 mph, no guns in the vehicles, no hunting, no fishing, no smoking, and no drinking on the job. Unlike government rules, these rules were non-negotiable. The people who broke them didn't get fined, they got fired. No exceptions.

There were usually a lot of animals hanging around the oil fields. They were kind of dispassionately interested in what was going on, but otherwise just munched away on the grass and bushes. They felt safe on oil company property.

Jared Diamond mentioned an example of that in his book Collapse - I think it was Chevron in Malasyia - the land overseen by the oil co was in much better shape ecologically than what surrounded it. Also all the fauna traipsing around in the Chernobyl dead zone.

Author here is bemoaning his inability to get access to the ocean via the Haul road except via commercial tour, but the only roads ever built up that way have been for access to field development in the first place, both the Dalton Highway and the rough trail that preceded it, the Hickel "Highway." I'd say you've got an acceptable tradeoff there, all things being considered.

Or the DMZ between the 2 Korea's.
A bountiful wildlife sanctuary.

Or Rocky Flats in Boulder County, Colorado. Or maybe that's the future of the area around Fukushima.

Or interestingly White Sands missle range, which among other insults had the first atom bomb test.

There is a fair amount of controversy over the health of the fauna in the Chernobyl dead zone. This PubMed link paints a less sanguine picture of the situation:


My favorite example of "wildlife protection by people who you wouldn't expect to do that" is the military base at Suffield Alberta, which became the British Army's largest armoured training facility after Gaddafi kicked the Brits out of their training base in Libya.

Canadian Forces Base Suffield

Canadian Forces Base Suffield (also CFB Suffield), is the largest Canadian Forces Base and the largest Commonwealth military training base. It is located in southeastern Alberta.... In 1971 an agreement was signed between the British and Canadian governments permitting the British Army to use over three-quarters of the Suffield Block for armoured, infantry, and artillery live-fire training.

Wildlife refuge

Ironically, the decision to designate the Suffield Block a military training facility in 1941 left hundreds of square kilometres of undisturbed prairie grassland intact from the effects of industrial agriculture. In 1992, the military signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Environment Canada and in 2003 lands along the South Saskatchewan River comprising some 458 km2 (177 sq mi) were designated as the Suffield National Wildlife Area.

My experience with Suffield is driving past and seeing hundreds of pronghorn antelope grazing on the military side of the barbed-wire fence. They appear to be unconcerned about the heavy artillery, having realized that the British Army is not shooting at them. Rumor has it that if hunters foolishly sneak through the barbed wire to poach antelope, the British Army sneaks up and practices counter-terrorism exercises on them. This keeps the number of poachers low.

The DMZ between North and South Korea is another wildlife sanctuary, and a valuable one for many Asiatic species.

Camp Pendleton in southern California would be 125,000 acres of tract houses and shopping malls if the US Marine Corps
wasn't there.


KLR, It was Papua New Guinea highlands, and Chevron did a good snowjob on Diamond. I was on some jobs in late 90s and there was no containment or treatment for cuttings or discharged mud. It all went over the side of the lease into the watersheds. Chevron were relatively "good", I suppose, in comparison with the big mine at the apex of the watersheds on Bougainville, but that was due most to the much smaller scale of the operation (drilling rig vs open cast mine), not benign environmental practice.

From the land of sensible shoes (and disco music that drives Australians wild)...

Sustainable Sweden
With close co-operation between companies, academia, state and its citizens, Sweden has many clean tech lessons for the UAE

When you think of energy in Sweden, the word conjures up images of efficient ‘passive' houses, energy advisors, defined consumption standards in electronic equipment, hybrid vehicles and empowered customers who can purchase green certificates.

"It has today become a ‘mindset' where already school children are educated in this field," says Geetali Chhatwal Jonsson, Head of Direct Markets, Invest Sweden, a government agency that works to attract foreign direct investments into Sweden.

Since the seventies' oil crisis, Sweden has invested in alternative energy sources, phasing out oil smoothly. In 1970, oil accounted for more than 75 per cent of Swedish energy supply; by 2009, the figure was just 32 per cent, chiefly due to the declining use of residential heating oil. Today, it has "cut in half" its consumption of fossil fuels and oil since the 1970s, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said last month.

See: http://gulfnews.com/gn-focus/sweden/sustainable-sweden-1.815778


Unfortunately Sweden is a long country with low poulation density. Most transporttion of goods is on the road. This put together makes us very transport dependant, second in the world only to the US.

There would be a solution though; costal transportation. We could "easily" build container transport hubs along the coast and move the bulk of the long distnse goods that way, saving up to 98% of fuel costs. Unfortunately no one is on to this.

It sounds like not much is moved by rail either - would not an expanded/upgraded rail network, at least for Stockholm to the S -SW part of the country, be a good option?

Our railnetwork is tuned in for personal transport. Goods on rail is only 4% of the total goods transported, and to make even a dent in that statistics would take silly amounts of investments. Also we had lots of problems with the rail system this and last winter (that were unusually snowy) with millions of man-hours wasted on delayed of canceled trains. Those rails are loaded with people to the max. Any further expansion of the network will be for moving people around.

That said, they do have plans to turn a big chunk of land north of my town (Hässleholm) into a goods transportation hub for all of Scandinavia. This will be, if it happen, a realy big project.

Our railnetwork is tuned in for personal transport.

Pretty much the opposite of N. America.

It would seem that you really need separate systems if you are going to do a lot of both, but that would be a major construction exercise.

The advantage for sea is that anyone with a suitable ship can do it, without waiting for the government.

Plus, there is also the matter of that Swedish truck building company to support, though they could probably learn to build trains too...

Rail transport in the United States

In the 1950s, the U.S. and Europe moved roughly the same percentage of freight by rail; but, by 2000, the share of U.S. rail freight was 38% while in Europe only 8% of freight traveled by rail. In 1997, while U.S. trains moved 2,165 billion ton-kilometers of freight, the 15-nation European Union moved only 238 billion ton-kilometers of freight.

It's ironic that deregulation, decontrol, and private ownership have lead to a much higher usage of rail for moving freight in the US than in Europe. It's really that American freight railroads are much more efficient at moving freight than European railroads.

In 1939 there were 132 Class I railroads operating in the US. Now, as a result of deregulation and consolidation, there are only seven Class I railroads in North America, two of which are Canadian.

Re: The advantage for sea is that anyone with a suitable ship can do it, without waiting for the government. This.

Salish Sea Trading Cooperative, Ballard's (Seattle) community sail transport is holding our 2011 season planning meeting soon. We're cautiously expanding beyond the CSA by also sailing down wool from Whidbey Island and cider over from Port Ludlow. Also starting up a grassroots waterfront alliance, along the lines of NYC's Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. Well, OK, smaller in scale just a little. :-)

Well, this Australian was never one for their disco music...

Sweden has done a lot on energy efficiency and biofuels, to be sure, but I don't know how much of that is applicable to the UAE, really.

Following on from our discussion yesterday about oil heating being replaced with wood pellets - that probably the area where Sweden has been the most aggressive. Not only were there a lot of homes using heating oil, but they have a lot of small (1-10MW) CHP plants, most of which used to be oil fired, and most of which now are pellet fired.

Last year Sweden used 1.9m million tons of pellets - and their domestic production of 1.6m is equal to the combined production of Canada and the US (1m and 0.6m tons) [source] More than half their pellet consumption is in these CHP plants.

For biofuels, they are now the single largest energy source for the country, which is an impressive effort;

A lot of that bioenergy is things other than pellets - waste to energy and (especially) pulp mills.

Also interesting that they report heat pump energy separately - this is the net heat gain from the heat pumps. They produced as much energy as wind power! IF we value the energy at $0.1/kWh, then the heat pumps collectively garnered $300m worth of energy from the air!

No statistics if any of it is still being used for disco joints...

So non-ff/nuclear is nearly fifty percent of the mix. That's impressive. Too bad they aren't going toward doing more transportation by sea. If they did, they would surely represent the most sustainable advanced country, I imagine.

There are lots of harbours but the competition from the electrified rail is to tough.

How large the rail investments should be has been a hot political debate for quite some time, they are large but should be bigger.

Thanks for that insight. I didn't know the electric rail system was so extensive.

Here I thought it was because they were still worried about those rascally piratic Vikings '-)

What? No platform shoes? No polyester leisure suites? No gold chains?

That's a pretty amazing chart. I knew biomass was popular, but had no idea its contribution to the overall mix was that large.

Meanwhile, Nova Scotia races ahead with its own ill-conceived and clumsily executed biomass plans, in traditional ass-backwards fashion.

NewPage proposal puts cart before horse

It appears that the NSPI/NewPage consortium has pursued the first strategy. Instead of acquiring or building a state-of-the-art wood-fired boiler to accommodate the amount of waste wood available locally through sustainable harvesting, NSPI bought a 30-year old 60-megawatt boiler from NewPage for $80 million; now they must find enough genuine waste wood to keep that beast fed.

The boiler’s capacity is 650,000 tonnes per year. Apparently, there is only 350,000 tonnes available within 50 kilometres of the boiler. Where will NSPI find this deficit of around 300,000 tonnes each year for the next 20, 30, 40 years?

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/TheNovaScotian/1246874.html

As I've said before, in this province, the words "sustainable" and "forestry practices" are never used in the same sentence unless it's a lament.

♫ ♬ ♪ Paul ♪ ♫ ♬

Ha! Had to watch that a second time before I noticed they were not actually "doing the hustle". Not sure they were Swedish either, but no matter.

It would seem the real key to success in Sweden has been the CHP plants - since they already existed, the changeover was much easier than building from scratch.

Still, CHP is a natural for biomass - the NSPI/New Page things is exactly not what should be done.
which begs a question - is their supply secured/guaranteed? What would happen if someone else opened a bunch of biomass CHP, or pellet, plants, and competed for the available supply?

Having one plant that sucks resources from a huge area, and delivers the (taxpayer subsidised) benefits to one corp[oration is hardly a win for the people.
The Swedish model of each town have a CHP or two, owned by or in the town, supplied by town people etc, is much better. Biomass is a distributed resource - it is ideally suited to distributed generation.

Something like a modern day version of this system - they didn't need the heat, but even this system 60 yrs ago was higher efficiency than what the NSPI will be. It actually sounds like it was all a deal so that new page could sell an old boiler system.

These kind of shady and counterproductive deals do nothing to advance the cause of renewable energy.

"This system"--What an astounding set of images! How did such big lunkers even come into existence? But that author is roughly my age, and I remember just such hardware in my own little town, run by biomass from the local forest industry, and given to explosions, fires, and burning to the ground, and endlessly rebuilt.

But it also put the citizens in contact with reality, unlike modern society where, for example, some of my friends heat their houses with a "thermostat"- thinking that's all there is to their heating system. They wonder why I would bother with such a big dirty thing as a wood stove.

When I ran my saturday science seminar for grade school kids, the most astonishing thing to them was the town sewer system, dump, and water supply. They had never even thought of their existence, much less their size and complexity- or their effect on the environment.

Domestic scale CHP has been a goal for ME's from the beginning of time. We are getting there--sorta slowly, I admit.

Well, back in the day, those huge engines, and town size powerplants were pretty common. The arrival of "The Grid" in the postwar years did away with most of them. If your plant had fires etc then something was clearly wrong - built and operated properly, these things are fine - but I suspect many ended up being operated on a shoestring.

The biggest woodgas engine ever built is a 6000HP beast built by Henry Ford in 1913 's to power his factories - it had a separate steam cycle heated by the engine exhaust - combined cycle back in the day!. The cylinder was 42" wide by 72" stroke!
A magazine of the day claimed 72.4% thermal efficiency - which, if true, would be a world record, even today!

Description and photos here;


and more here;


About as far removed from "home scale" power production as you can get - but would be ideal for a town power plant - it would be quite the attraction!

Agreed absolutely about putting people in touch with the reality of where the energy and water comes from/goes to. People will take a lot more care about not wasting energy(and food and water) if they know it is coming from the forest and farms around their community. In the big city, the sense of "community" is lost.

In our "big" ice storm a couple of years ago, one small town in SW Okla had it's own
power plant. It wasn't being used, but was maintained. They fired it up and were the
only town in a multiple-county area that had power while it took several weeks to
re-install the major lines that were down in the area. The town residents certainly
had no complaints from then on about the less-than-a-dollar fee on their utility
bill in order to keep the plant available.

The CHP works very well. Many people I know live in houses houses heated with CHP. Including my self. However they are losing poularity. Since you only have one supplyer in each grid you are essentially stuck in a monopoly. And hence the price of the heat - although cheap initially - rises to that of the cheapest competitor. Wich is to burn pellets. Another poular alternative is to suck up the heat from the ground. But as long as the facility is owned by the municipality the money at least goes to your local school and hospital.

So you have a monopoly supplier on one source - the hot water, but nothing to stop you going to the others, thought you do pay for the redundancy of two systems.

I would expect the ductless min-split heat pump to be the best alternative there - though you are probably buying the electricity from the same company?

One good thing about local, if not municipal ownership, is that everyone can tell if they are price gouging. The manager of the operation still has to walk down the street, their kids are in school, etc etc - there is local acccountability. And if it is municipal owned, then people can vote out the councillors - this limits "bloat" to some extent, and better than State owned utilities, where change os out of the hands of the local community.

I would think that when selling a house, having a connection to the CHP is a positive feature - you have something others may not.

Many people tossed out their oil-furnace when they moved to CHP heat. No matter what it was the right move. Oil is the more expensive option even under a monopoly CHP. Those who have CHP AND pellets or ground heat are the real winners; they can pick the chepest option at any time. But investing in oth technologies has an investment cost.

I live in a flat. I just pay the rent and don't worry. The only extra fee I pay is electrcity, phone, internet etc.

By domestic scale I was referring to a small heat engine actually in the house, used for CHP. These are on the market, but not widely used. Several have IC engines, and one at least has a stirling engine. Since the average home uses electricity at a steady state rate below 1kW, IC engines are not a very good match, since at that size they lose efficiency. Stirlings scale down well to much lower power, and so would be a better match. They can also use wood pellets directly, without any intermediate treatment.

Thanks for the wood-gas PDF!

Continuing the economic discussion. Does anybody know who is buying federal debt these days. With interest at about zero and China's holding flat for the last year. Who is folking over 1.4 (to 2.2?) trillion per year? As near as I can tell the federal reserve bank is printing it all. Is that correct? I am far from sure about this.

There is strong demand for U.S. federal debt these days. The U.S. dollar is seen as a safe haven, especially compared to the Euro. Investors and speculators have noted that major stock market averages have gone down for five weeks in a row, and many have sold stocks and parked money in U.S. Treasuries. Finally, QE2 is near its end, but it is still going on; in other words the Fed is still printing money to buy U.S. debt through June.

Because of the strong demand for U.S. T-bills, notes, and bonds, I do not think the end of QE2 will lead to higher interest rates. So long as the economy is as sluggish as it is now, I expect interest rates to stay low. Indeed, if stocks crash I'd expect even lower interest rates on U.S. debt than we have now. My guess is that stocks are going to crash, and sooner rather than later.

This is also the interpretation over on TAE and Stoneleigh. U.S. Treasury debt will remain a "safe haven" even long after there is no longer any rational reason to believe this; and rates will remain low. And there will be continued bouts of "strength" for the U.S. dollar, too.........until there aren't.

You are apparently assuming the debt ceiling will be raised. That scares me too much to be in treasuries at this point.

History suggests the debt ceiling will be raised after much rhetoric and gnashing of teeth. Neither Democrats nor Republicans want the blame for precipitating a financial crisis. The sad state of politics in the U.S. means that nothing will be done to negotiate an agreement that would include raising the debt ceiling until the absolute last minute--which is still some weeks in the future. Until then there will be much bombast and posturing but no decisive actions to create the compromises that will be necessary for the new debt ceiling agreement.

"History suggests the debt ceiling will be raised after much rhetoric and gnashing of teeth."

Suggests, perhaps.

But as the standard caveat goes, past performance does not guarantee future results.

It doesn't guarantee it, but there's a built-in ratchet that shifts the balance of probabilities in favor. The politicians can bring up the debt ceiling for a vote time and time again on into the indefinite future, until exhaustion sets in and it passes in the wee hours of some morning. Not raising it is never a settled question, but raising it is settled forever in just one vote of possibly many.

This is the same ratchet the politicians use to saddle us with their pet projects and costly white-elephant urban jewelry - convention centers, stadiums, etc. etc. etc.

The option to rsing the debt ceiling is to start paying of on the debts. Do you think that will ever happen?

Well, that means either printing money or raising taxes. So no, it won't happen.

It means an immediate and large hit to the economy. Not anything an incumbent political party would agree to. Perhaps an out of power party can push it through, hoping the public will blame the other guy.

Not any time soon. Even when Keynesian theory says it's time to be paying more than borrowing (which is probably not right now), politicians will be wanting to purchase votes by putting ever more goodies on the never-never. IMO they have several incentives - lust for power, their oftentimes blatant messiah complexes, and occasionally just unadorned greed.

I would agree but I would add that interest rates must surely be higher if not for Fed buying. The demand outside the Fed is somewhat stable, if only because the Euro is trash, but it is dropping.

Moreover, equities will crash but not all of them will do so to the same extent. And when the Fed resumes it's printing, they will rise once more.

In general, the biggest bubble of them all is debt especially sovereign debt. Anybody who buys these things is playing the losers game.

The biggest bull market is in precious metals, the second in agriculture.

"Does anybody know who is buying federal debt these days."

You are (if you are American). The Fed is printing up trillions of dollars out of nothing to buy them. That's what Quantitative Easing is. Of course, paper does not equal wealth, so the wealth to buy them is coming from everyone who holds existing dollars, in the form of decreased purchasing power of those dollars, since there are no so many more of them out there. It's called "inflation tax".

Yes I think we can be pretty confident that the Fed will not allow a genuine, corrective deflation, they don't have the guts for it. I'm willing to bet on that. Even small interest rate hike "head fakes" won't convince me.

So I'm all in precious metals and am willing to take losses as the periodic corrections flush out the johnny come lately's.

Agriculture is also attractive given AGW, declining crude oil, and a big, hungry human population, but risky especially if populations crash. If one believes that starvation is not an alternative and will be prevented, agriculture looks pretty good until the human population reaches a peak, which very well may be decades from now.

Land/real estate is a tough one. Too much of the world is in a bubble. That being said, productive farmland and reasonably priced, well positioned homesteads are worthwhile.

Energy is even riskier in my opinion. We simply don't need to use all the energy that we are using, which suggests to me that conservation will be the name of the game when push comes to shove.

Precious metals are the "end of the financial system as we know it" play, and thereby hold the greatest appeal.

Considering market manipulation and speculation:
Suppose SA, as a swing producer, has the ability to withhold or increase 5% of its exports. Suppose also that it plans in advance and takes a large position in the futures market. After taking the position it drives the market, and accordingly takes its profits.
In other words, could or would SA manipulate the market? Is there a way for them to secretly take large futures positions? Would a 5% decrease over a couple of months, followed by a 5% increase be enough to drive the price volatility by 10%?
Could or would OPEC, as a cartel, do this? What would stop them if they so choose?

The market is being manipulated by US efforts to keep oil from Iran, Venezuela and Iraq at low levels of production.

Well they have a goal, and that's a good start.


Look, Japan has upped their radiation estimates again! Shocking.. I wonder what their plan is?

Another claim of an admission

Reactors 1, 2 and 3 experienced a full meltdown, it said.

The plant's owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co., admitted last month that nuclear fuel rods in reactors 2 and 3 probably melted during the first week of the nuclear crisis.

And as a reminder - the backup plan was broken and yet the plant operators worked without the backups being functional.

The No. 1 reactor's emergency cooling system at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant was not functioning even before tsunami

I wonder what their plan is?

Do nothing, because there is little they can do when Fission power enters an advanced failure mode.

In the US of A - (Ya know, the place with the safe stuff due to following the rule of law)

The pipe, which was dug up by an excavator three weeks ago, had plutonium-239 that exceeded the amount lab officials had expected and that was allowed above the ground, lab spokesman Fred deSousa said Friday.

The lab had estimated about 200 grams of plutonium-239 over the 6-acre clean-up site. The pipe alone alone had 42 grams, or about 1.6 ounces.

(paging Dr. Emmett Brown, Dr. Brown your Plutonium is ready)

And elsewhere:

Over three quarters of the French population support a gradual shutdown of all of France’s nuclear power plants, a recent survey has shown.

The IFOP poll of 1,005 adults commissioned by the Journal du Dimanche found that 77 percent of the French people believe the country should follow Germany and abandon nuclear energy over a 30-year period. About 25 percent of the participants believed the transition should take place sooner.

...follow Germany and abandon nuclear energy over a 30-year period...

Of course, what matters is not the fashionable glandular reaction of the moment, to a survey likely asking loaded questions with no consideration of consequences (do you want a pony? of course I want a pony! do you want to feed it and care for it? ummm...) What matters is what happens down the road a piece when the lights threaten to go out. History in Europe suggests that they'll extend the licenses of reactors that very possibly should have been replaced, but won't have been on the assumption that they wouldn't be needed. In other words they'll still have nuclear power in the end, only it will be a bit more dangerous than it needed to be. Such are the webs we weave for ourselves.

Alternative energies face off as Germany exits the nuclear age

Lots of discussion, but no solution or plan.

Gas glut is fading as global demand surges

Only six months ago, the International Energy Agency was warning that the world was suffering a gas glut that would last until 2015.

Now the world's energy watchdog believes that the oversupply has already begun to dissipate and may be gone well before 2015 if the world enters a "golden age for gas".

The agency said on Monday that a combination of factors made rising demand more likely, with usage potentially growing by 50pc before 2035.

"Alternative energies face off as Germany exits the nuclear age"


The investment advice is easy in this case. Gazprom.

The Russians will have Germany over the barrel again.

The entire global economy could be powered by a patch of Arizona desert covered in solar panels, of size 400 km by 400 km. So when people say that we have an energy shortage, this is only because we are still addicted to fossil fuels.

When substitution takes place, we will find that we have no energy shortage. However, are we going to be able to make those substitutions before the economy collapses? Not a chance. Furthermore, the real energy crisis coming is in food, because we currently take about 50% of the planet's biological productivity for our own uses, and there is no substitution for food, unlike gasoline.

We currently have a geometrically diminishing energy supply, clashing into a requirement for exponentially increasing economic growth. Those two curves seem to be crossing now, and the result is going to be very ugly.

Our current system requires economic growth for two reasons: one, because our monetary system is a ponzi scheme requiring unending growth (in order to satisfy interest -- a return on your investment), and two, to keep employment up. We need activities for people to do to make money, and this comes form working to make our economies bigger.

So from this it can be seen that we need to do four things to fix the economy and prevent a complete global catastrophe: 1) get off fossil fuels, 2) reform our monetary system to function in a zero growth environment which entails A) banning "usury" (or making interest off of money), and B) reduce the work week so that there is enough work available to go around for everyone, otherwise unemployment would jump to 60% if there was no economic growth for labour to spend its time working on. We also need to tax the wealthy to re-patriate what has been stolen from us.

In this case, we could all enjoy 3 day work weeks and 6 hour work days, as well as a better standard of living than we do now. But before this happens, even if we do get ourselves organized enough to make these changes, we should expect a complete economic collapse.

There are still a few billion people who lives with a bad standard for their food, water,housing, etc, they need growth.

Yes, but they can get that without growth, if you define growth as the total amount of resources taken from the planet, expressed in GDP.

No, that is not correct: A poor society cannot get higher standards of living without economic growth as measured by per capita GDP numbers. A rich society, such as the U.S. can afford to keep its poorest citizens from starving or freezing to death, but a poor society, such as India, cannot increase living standards for the bottom half of their population without economic growth. Indeed, in India the benefit of economic growth has been concentrated among the top two hundred million or thereabouts; the lives of the poorest half billion have not noticeably improved.

With rising food prices, the poorest half billion in India can afford to buy less food this year than last year. Most Indians still live in villages where abject poverty is the norm, and the middle and upper classes are a tiny minority. There would have to be a great deal of economic growth in India (or any poor country) to improve the lot of the worst-off citizens.

Sometimes there is high GDP per capita but almost everyone is destitute; Equatorial Guinea is a case in point. But the point remains: In poor societies an improvement in living standards requires higher GDP; it is a necessary but not sufficient condition for improving the lives of the poorest people in the world. With global net oil exports and net oil imports falling, it is questionable how long even rapidly growing economies such as those in China and India can continue growing. My guess is that growth in these two countries will be over in just a few years, as the price of both oil and coal rises.

No, that is not correct. A poor society can get higher standards of living without economic growth as measured by per capita GDP numbers.


Not paradise and not without bumps and warts, but still an example of a state that has achieved much higher basic measures of quality of life than its neighbors though just as poor.

The rest of India is in fact a good example of how lots of national growth does not necessarily lift all boats, as you point out yourself. And your Guinea example further proves that growth has little to do with general prosperity. It is distribution. Strong labor and socialist movements in the US and even more so in Europe have insured that the wealth from growth got distributed more widely. Were there are no such movements, or where the movements are less robust or have been successfully supressed (as has now pretty much happened in the US--hence the hollowing out of the middle class), the wealthiest keep all the wealth to themselves.

But you are certainly right that China and India face major challenges. I would say energy constraints are the least of their worries. Water shortages are already hitting hard, and as GW really gets underway, drought, flooding and unsurvivable heatwaves will take their tolls. Not that any location is completely immune to all of these.

I think I have mentioned this before but Kerala has exported a large fraction of its population outside the state and also outside the country. Kerala has a high population density and the economy to a large extent depends on remittances by Keralites who work outside the state and also outside the country.

So to a large extent Kerala derives its standard of living from GDP growth elsewhere.

Kerala and Cuba prove that you don't have to be rich to get a 99% literacy rate. Other than that it is no different from any other Indian state.

There are always complicating factors, of course. But that they achieve these literacy rates, far beyond what some much richer countries achieve, without a lot of resources gives the lie to the notion that only massive growth in the overall GDP can improve basic quality of life measures.

And iirc in both cases the impressive stats were not just in literacy but also in low infant mortality and some other basic measures of human welfare.

The conventional economists mantra of growth at all costs is killing the planet while not lifting many out of poverty (though it is making more and more billionaires and millionaires, as if we need any more of those scum).

"No, that is not correct: A poor society cannot get higher standards of living without economic growth as measured by per capita GDP numbers."

I don't think I agree with that. Let's say that India took some of the oil or CNG it currently wastes to drive cars around, and instead used those resources to make solar panels. Since it is a tropical country, it could get a lot of energy from this. It would instead use these solar panels to drive EV's around, or to power poor people's homes. This would be much cheaper, and in fact GDP would go down because they would no longer be buying so much oil, instead using the energy which shines down on them fr free.

Another example would be cold countries installing heat pumps to heat houses instead of nat gas furnaces or oil furnaces, GDP goes down but standard of living goes up.

Another example would be to eat less meat and more vegetables, since this requires about 10 X less agricultural inputs. Generally, quality of life, in terms of health, tends to go up with the less meat you eat, down to a point below which you can get certain nutrient deficiencies. So eating less meat would result in less GDP, but increased quality of life. I'm not making a value judgement here about eating meat, just pointing it out.

Excellent points. I agree completely. The accounting schemes that say what is of value are made at the highest possible discount rate. We do not value eating healthy. We do not value biking to work. We instead come up with expensive insurance plans to make Mcdonalds folks happy and doctors happy at the same time.

We act like we need an SUV when we only need a medium sized car. But the SUV is worth more in GDP despite the fact that the more efficient car provides more return on investment back to society.

That is killed stuff. Thanks.

Economics is dope.

Growth is not in the cards, so why bother even thinking about it. It was mostly never about growth, anyway.

The two billion poorest who live on one to two dollars a day, could see substantial improvements in their lives with good services, safe drinking water and very moderate increases in wages. None of these need vast amounts of global growth. Only a tiny amount of distribution.

By definition, the money of a few of the world's twelve hundred billionaires could instantly double or quadruple their incomes. This small expense to the world (are the rest of us really going to notice that there are a few less billionaires in the world) could have dramatic effects on the lives of literally billions.

Basic health care, rudimentary education, safe water...do not really cost much.

We as a global community have just decided that it is not worth our while to do it.

And yes, such could come with access to birth control, family planning services...

Growth is the problem, not the answer. Pretty much everyone but (most) economists knows this by now.

Well said dohboi, and sadly they have convinced so many people that it is "the socialists" to blame, when what we have is nothing like socialism, it is fascism.

By definition, the money of a few of the world's twelve hundred billionaires could instantly double or quadruple their incomes. This small expense to the world (are the rest of us really going to notice that there are a few less billionaires in the world) could have dramatic effects on the lives of literally billions.

You are making the common socialist mistake of confusing capital assets and income. The $4.5 trillion in wealth that the world's 1200 billionaires own is not in the form of cash, it is mostly in the form of ownership of companies which are creating jobs and providing services for people in the countries where they hold those assets.

For instance, Warren Buffet owns BNSF Railroad. If you distributed his wealth, all the poverty stricken people in Africa could each own a few millimetres of railroad track in the US. A lot of good that would do them. If you tore up all the tracks and shipped them to Africa, you could build the fabled Cape-to-Cairo Railway, which would actually do them some good, but that would go over badly with the citizens of the US who rely on BNSF to ship coal to power plants, raw materials to factories, and goods to stores across the US.

The reality is the the poor of the world are going to have to build their own railroad tracks and factories, as the formerly poor peasants but now middle-class entrepreneurs of China did, because the wealthy of the developed countries are not going to do it for them.

(BTW, I define the "middle-class" as being people who have at least a third of their income left over for discretionary spending after paying for food and shelter, and who can afford to buy consumer goods, receive health care, and provide for their children's education. By this definition there are more middle-class people in China than in the US.)

"The reality is the the poor of the world are going to have to build their own railroad tracks and factories, as the formerly poor peasants but now middle-class entrepreneurs of China did, because the wealthy of the developed countries are not going to do it for them. "

There is no way China could have created its middle class if it had built it itself from scratch. Rather, China stole America's middle class. This has been enabled by artificially pegging the Yuan low, and artificially propping the dollar high. This has promoted the mass shift in manufacturing across the Pacific over the last 30 years.

The fact is, that there is a limited amount of valuable real world assets to go around. If some multi billionaire holds title to a big chunk of those assets, he did not "create" them. He somehow managed to take, or get hold of them, from everyone else who used to have access to them, because wealth is not created, it is taken, from the planet. I know that statement does not sit well with traditional capitalists who believe that labour and markets "produce" things, but they don't.

Well, maybe turnabout is still fair play.

Our middle-class could well be said to have been stolen from the assets of Africa and the First Nations.. maybe that check is just getting paid forward.

The industrial revolution kicked off long before the peak of colonialism. In fact, it was the Industrial revolution which allowed for colonialism, not the other way around.

I've yet to see an argument that would convince me that slavery and this magnificent land/resource grab aren't at the heart of what gave the United States the advantages that let us build our Sheltered industrial empire, the consequent war machine, and then the great middle class.

I don't think it matters whether the industrial rev. came before or after.. those factors were key advantages that propelled us farther down the track.. even if the industrial north didn't have slaves, they had the economic uplift from the slave trade, whose money was no stranger to Boston Banks, and whose cotton, rum and tobacco were also strong supporting actors in the game.

I think that the industrial revolution was what wiped out slavery. It made slaves obsolete. Machines worked cheaper than slaves, didn't cost money to be fed, clothed, or sheltered, and never tried to run away. Almost anything a slave could be trusted to do, a machine could do cheaper.

The Southern plantation system was an inefficient use of land, and slavery was an inefficient use of labor. The North became much richer because the homestead system allocated land more efficiently, and the factory wage system allocated labor more efficiently.

Unfortunately, the Southerners thought that owning slaves was the key to becoming rich, but in fact, it was the key to staying permanently poor. Adam Smith saw through it in The Wealth of Nations published in 1776, but unfortunately the Southerners didn't believe it. It took a civil war to settle the issue.

NH, I'm not having a go at you, this just seemed a good place for my little rant..

The entire global economy could be powered by a patch of Arizona desert covered in solar panels, of size 400 km by 400 km. So when people say that we have an energy shortage, this is only because we are still addicted to fossil fuels.

It always sounds so easy in those terms, just like growth of wind power of X% over Y years can replace all FF.
Unfortunately the numbers do not work out so well, let me run through a few...

Using current off the shelf PV panels, something like these..


This is ~190w/m2. The unit weighs 15kg.

The world currently uses ~116,000 TW/Yr from FF


190W X 6 hours X 365 Days X 1,000,000 m2/km2 = 416,100,000,000 Wh/Yr = 0.4161 TW

116,000 TW / 0.4161 TW = 278,779 km2 or a square of ~528km sides, a decent hunk of a desert.

Here is the problem. If using the weight of these panels plus the supporting structures, lets assume there is 10kg of Aluminium per panel.

10kg/m2 X 1,000,000 m2/km2 X 278,779 km2 = 2,787,790,000,000 kg aluminium or 2,787,790,000 Tonnes. Considering the world only produces ~50M tonnes/Yr, to build such a thing would take the total production from the next 55 years.

Ignoring the energy use in mining and transport, it takes ~12,500 Kwh to smelt 1 Tonne into ingots in the most efficient smelters.


12,500 Kwh X 50,000,000 Tonnes/year = 625,000,000,000 Kwh/year = 625,000,000 Mwh of production. Divide this by 24 hrs / 365 days comes to a lazy 71,347 Mw of capacity.

All future hopes of BAU totally ignore the size of the problem of depleting FF. There will not be 71Gw of capacity to smelt 50M extra tonnes over the next 55 years to replace FF use (current) with PV.

Using current off the shelf PV panels

Here is your problem.

If you are going to do a mega project, such as you describe, then that is the last thing you do. You will build panels that give you the best return. You will be trying to minimise materials such as aluminium. The OTS panels need to allow for any sort of mount in any situation, you will optimise fiercely. Do you really need an all round frame or would 50% of 2 sides be enough?. 190W is pretty low these days, a bulk panel for that mega project may end up twice that. I would expect to see efficiencies rise, over the next few years, and expect to see numbers around 30%. Add new glasses for the covers, improvements elsewhere and you get a much better picture.

The big trouble is that the later we leave the move the less will be the resources to implement it. It will be hard now but in 10-20 years, when things really start to bite, I just don't know.


I think the real problem with hide-away's response was that the previous post was hypothetical.

To actually enact a 'great big solar solution' would entail MANY technologies throughout many countries. It would be framed onto rooftops and with wood and steel, and maybe floating on the sea. It would be storing heat, heating water, baking bread ... and it would, as it grew, also coincide with a realignment of how much power we think we really 'need', which would likely be far below what we use today.

It's like the STAND BY ME question that Vern asks about who would win, Mighty Mouse or Superman?

EDIT: In other words, it was a thought experiment, so literal extrapolation is kind of a straw man.. the point is that there is a phenomenal amount of solar energy available to us, and yet, the work required to collect this diffuse source is also a potential benefit, since it MIGHT keep us from overconsuming it the way we have with oil..

I just threw those numbers out there in a response to the thoughts of renewables replacing FF.

Of course any type of large scale development would not happen in one big project. However those are the general types of numbers needed in total to replace today's use of FF. We can wait, change some of the numbers like higher efficiencies, different materials or whatever, yet the scale of what needs to happen and the time frame we actually have escape most.

If we went with super efficient/lighweight PV in deserts across the world, somehow joined in a huge world wide grid, then they will still have to have some type of frame that connects them together, some type of structure that anchors them to the ground, some type of wiring that connects them all. All of which has to be new materials processed above what is presently in production.

We have to do it in a world of declining resource availability, with rising energy costs in a time frame that continues BAU. Frankly, when you get out the calculator and do the sums on any renewable technology to continue BAU, the numbers just do not add up. It simply is not going to happen.

I think you sort of responded to his/her first statement about Solar, but didn't really acknowledge that the post then essentially already concluded much of your response, and then went on from there. The core of the Thought Experiment was just that there's ample power from the sun, not that we could really solve it all by going that one route.. just that the problem is NOT access to power, but our unwillingness to prioritize away from much poorer uses of our resources.

"...when you get out the calculator and do the sums on any renewable technology to continue BAU.."

Part of the point was that (and I say this to responders again and again..) it actually requires NOT continuing today's BAU, either the economic models or the energy volumes needed. So your response was arguing a point that he was not making in the first place.

The discussion of renewables constantly hangs up on this assumption, which I think is an obstacle that really needs to be examined. Changing BAU is often quickly stereotyped into 'Amish' or '19th Century Mud-farming', etc.. and I think that's a similar piece of this blindspot. I don't think we're going to lose the computer or the micrometer or the airplane, even with a deep collapse at this point. They're well understood and well recorded all over the planet.. or in other words, BAU is not required to reattain this level of technology fairly quickly.

We need to understand what are the minimum levels of industry required in order to create a range of high quality metals and accurately machined parts.. for a reasonable range of Semiconductors and other basic electronic componentry. I don't think the requirements are as extreme as they are frequently positioned around here. An accurate machining tool or shop or factory requires energy to make, and more energy to make it really durable or flexible.. but at that point, you don't really require a monstrous amount of energy to produce high-caliber parts from it.. if energy or money or source materials are constrained, then your production rate will slow, possibly drastically, but the tools and the knowledge of how to work with the materials is not irretrievable, UNLIKE some of the extremely high-overhead technologies like Nuclear and I would submit, like this Space Solar proposal, that requires developing several industries worth of lifelong specialists just in order to support a rarified system that has to keep running in order to regenerate its support industries and its talent pool.

My point was that you cannot just throw numbers together using an off the shelf approach to this sort of problem. So far panels have, basically, been built for people to buy for many individual small projects using a building block approach. If you are going to build huge farms then you need to consider going to a design for that purpose. Yes, you still need frames, connections etc but do you still need a design that can be used on a roof/pole/boat/tracker etc? A Swiss Army knife is very useful but it is a bit OTT if all you want to do is cut.

If we move to creating many multi square kilometre arrays then minimising the material use will be important. Do you still need an aluminium frame on all 4 sides or just 80% of 2 sides? Do you need wiring between cells or can they connect directly using the supports? Can panels be made twice the size with thinner, stronger glass? If you use a small, general purpose panel as the basis for costing you are going to end up with a high answer and that will be a dis-service to trying to move things forward.


If we are at/past peak oil now, then the time to get to anything resembling BAU will have to be short. We do not have the time to wait for all types of improvements in efficiencies, materials, thinner stronger glass. How long do you suggest we wait for the improvements? The type of panels I suggested were around the cheapest in dollar terms per watt, not the cheapest, currently in production.

Even with those panels, there is no chance of producing enough in the next 50 years to replace FF use. the types of suggestions you and others have made, currently cost more to produce, or have not been invented yet.

My own opinion is that PV is around as cheap as it ever will be, because of rising energy and natural resource costs to production.

I would love someone to prove me incorrect with some numbers, rather than overall statements that I am wrong.

PV prices have been on a plateau because prices have been held high to milk subsidies and silicon has been in short supply. New silicon plant is coming on line and subsidies are reducing so the prices are falling again. We are still looking at pricing to maximise profit. This is the reason, along with complexity, I am saying that 'off the shelf' prices are too high for this situation. It is factory floor prices you need for the simplest panel that will suit your needs and not every TDaH that wants one in their back yard.

To produce panels in sufficient quantity new plant will be needed and if you are going to install a few GW of PV then you had better be thinking about building them yourself at factory floor price not shelf price. Buy a few companies to get the expertise if you have to. Once you are building the plant you optimise for the panels you need, the simplest cheapest ones that can be rolled out the door. Things like stronger glasses are around now and, I think it is Corning, is trying to promote the glass. Highly automated production equipment is available now which is why many of the older, hand driven, lines are closing. Maybe much higher efficiencies are not here now, though they are higher than a few years ago, but they will be over the life of such a project.

I am in no way suggesting that we wait for improvements but we need to get on with building the infrastructure to provide this. Given the technology available now, if fully utilised and optimised for such a project, I would suspect that the cost per watt might be half that of using OTS panels. Remember, with OTS, you would be lining their shareholders' pockets as well as your own :)



My words were....

"I would love someone to prove me incorrect with some numbers, rather than overall statements that I am wrong."

I agree it is not an easy task, yet it is only when you get out the calculator and try to do some numbers that the enormity of the problem manifests itself.

It was the space based solar thread that made me initially think of how much cheaper and easier it would be to have desert based large arrays scattered around the world and somehow connected to overcome the night/cloud problems of continuous power production. What we are doing with all the new technologies is tinkering at the edges of the problem, not realistically replacing FF.

Just think of the logistics of cleaning any desert based solar array that is in the 10's of km2 after a dust storm. The PV panels I used in my example have a rated efficiency of 14.9%, if we had something of double the efficiency we could halve the area to "only" ~136,000 km2 in total to replace current FF use.

According to a an industry insider, 80% of the PV cost at the production line are the wafers, so i expect a long term decline in PV costs. So RE happens, it's just evolution. I Lived off Grid 20 years ago with 6 - 55 watt panels, Today I'm ordering 8kW of PV for a new home for about 60% of the cost of what it would run a power line .6 mile to the site. The utilities can no longer afford to subsidize new connections. This is the case in much of the world. RE happens

According to a an industry insider, 80% of the PV cost at the production line are the wafers, so i expect a long term decline in PV costs.

And they are getting better at slicing those wafers thinner, getting more panels per ingot. And panel quality is not going down, but up. There are plans to now go beyond sawing wafers, in order to get wafers several times thinner. If that happens the cost of silicon feedstock per panel will go down by a large factor.

Yair...we have just done a road trip of two and a half of thousand kilometers through southwestern Queensland (if you are interested pull up the towns of 'Bollon' 'Cunnamulla' and 'Hebel'on Google Earth).

This was my old stamping ground in the scrub pulling days of the nineteen sixty's.In those days the population was much higher than now and the Station homesteads ran on 240V generators or 32V for lighting,washing machine and iron with kerosene refrigeration.

That whole area is now 'on grid' with a single wire earth return system serving houses often sixty or seventy kilometers apart.
In the wet season the power gets knocked out by lightning and can be off for weeks...so the stations still have to keep their fuel tanks and gen. sets.

Though convenient for the folks when it is up and running I was surprised to find the system existed.

Hideaway it is not about dollars and manipulating excel spreadsheets to make one seem better than the other. That is easy to do. It is the perception that people have that fossils are cheaper now. They inherently discount the future so much that fossils are the only choice. As long as humans are humans this is the problem. You could build a renewable system like the hydroelectrics built decades ago and are now cranking away.

The hydros were built with the future in mind.

Some will build out renewables. Many will not. Don't know when the fossil addicts will begin to realize that they were sold a lie that the whol Ponzi energy scheme is a joke.

I think the real problem with hide-away's response was that the previous post was hypothetical.

These type of quick and dirty calculations are very useful for determining whether a proposed solution will scale sufficiently to solve the problem - will there be enough resources to make it work, or will the world run out of resources before the problem is solved. If you run out of resources, then the solution is not going to work.

Most of the problems with alternative energy proposals are problems of scale, and if countries impose the solutions on a national scale, they will discover the hard way that they won't work at that scale because they don't have enough resources. It's better to determine that in advance rather than after a lot of money has been spent.

A more sophisticated study would evaluate whether there are ways around the limitations. However, you have to determine whether the proposed alternative solution will scale sufficiently to work themselves. Frequently, they won't and the problem of scale still remains.

I'm just thinking about the problems of scale because a friend of mine is managing a project to build billions of dollars worth of transmission lines to feed wind energy into the grid. The project will actually work and be economic, but now that they are doing it the sheer scale of it scares the bejeezus out of the NIMBYs. Apparently nobody in government thought about how big it would be.

the sheer scale of it scares the bejeezus out of the NIMBYs.

And there is part of the problem. If you try to do these projects in a "material efficient" way, you end up with industrial scale developments, be they wind or solar or pixie dust - and that is what the Nimby's really hate.

If you go the other extreme, for solar panels on every roof, it is material inefficient - some panels will get shade from trees, or not be at ideal angles, etc etc, so you exacerbate the scalability problem.

The simple fact is, there is no easy renewable solution that is scalable enough (material efficient) , and out of sight, out of mind.

The alternative of dramatic reductions in power/fel usage is unappealing to almost everyone, not just the nimby's.

That's why I don;t think we'll see any real change until we (or individual countries) are forced to.

Forced? Pretty funny. We are forced right now, as anybody with eyes could see. I remember, maybe wrongly, that Prometheus gave us not only fire but foresight. We got the fire part OK, but seemed to have slipped a bit badly on the foresight. So we ARE being forced,-right now- but can't see it.

Anyhow, on scale. David MacKay says solar scales. He is pretty good at arithmetic so I believe him. I also have done some simple numbers and solar scales for me too. I figure it would take about the cost of one of those stupid big fat pickup trucks to give me personally the thing that would give me all the energy I need for everything in my rather spartan life from sun/wind. I don't need the truck, in fact. don't even remotely want it, But I am happy to put that money into solar?wind.

And as for fun. I get more fun than most of my friends, on way, way less fossil fuels. Of course I am cheating a bit because I am counting solar R&D as fun. It is. Y'all oughta try it sometime.

I'm glad that solar scales for you. Please get a calculator out and do some sums again. This is from David Mackay's online book ch 25 p178.

To supply every person in the world with an average European’s power consumption (125 kWh/d), the
area required would be two 1000 km by 1000 km squares in the desert.

That is using todays concentrating solar power. My point is about the total resources needed to build such things, including all the infrastructure that goes with them to keep them in place and join them to the grid.

The sort of credence given to the building of these huge renewables, go along these lines....

We’ll neglect their economic costs, and the energy costs of manufacturing and maintaining the power facilities.

Ch 6 p38.

The large numbers of renewables roll off peoples tongues and in there prose with no real understanding of the magnitude of the task and the time it would take.

I would suggest you use Google first. That consumption is way too high. UK, for example, is only around 6,000 kWh per year.


World total consumption of energy ~143,000 TWh (2008)


143,000 TWh = 143 T KWh divide by 7B people = 20,428 KWh/person world wide. Divide by 365 days in a year = 55.96 Kwh/day/person.

I think you will find that European consumption is above Africa and Asia per person, 111.8 KWh/person/day according to the wikipedia article. Besides I was only quoting from the D MacKay book that Wimbi thought was accurate in the numbers.

Where did you get 6000 from?

1/ Google, there are multiple sources

2/ The figure you use would mean my old house in the UK would have got through 375 kW/d, nearly 16 kW/Hr, over 67 A. The house would have been an oven and the meter melting.

3/ Check the UK national grid energy consumption. Divide it by the population and multiply by 24 to give the daily consumption. You know how to do the annual;)

UK should be a reasonable test case for Europe. I will let you check the figures yourself so you can be comfortable with their sources.



Which part of "Total energy use" do you equate with your meter reading?

The figures I have been using are about replacing FF use with renewables.

You seem to have forgotten that people need to eat, purchase clothing, build new shelters, travel from A to B.

All of these use energy and are included in total energy use, not just what a household uses through its meter.

An interesting figure I worked out today is that total Wind and Solar production does not come close to just the average growth in total energy production (from over the last 10 years, currently around 2,800 TWh).

Thank you for the clarification that you are talking about 'total energy use' as opposed to power consumption. That does change the figures and I did not forget rather looked at 'power use' as opposed to 'total energy use'.


Oh, and while we're at it... So how's that long term scaling up of fossil fuel use, thingy, working out for ya?!

The big trouble is that the later we leave the move the less will be the resources to implement it.

It's worse than that, we will no longer have access to the necessary resources to be able to get ourselves out of the bind we are already in!

Polish Artist Pawel Kuczynski sums up our current predicament quite well with this picture...


We are just too dumb to understand what we are really doing!

It's already later.

Beautiful image. Should be oil drums though. We are burning those in SUVs, hummers, and thrown out plastic trash that ends up in our oceans. What a joke of a society we have become.

Well once that giant Shell NG barge gets going -- problem solved. Korea can build them and Americans can wait for their food stamps so they can buy junk from China at Walmart.

How stupid we are and how much we make Homer Simpson seem like genius.

Go fossils. You are making America great! /src lol

Null Hypothesis:
I think you're right but the problem is that utopia isn't any fun!

This is the brilliant insight of capitalism. It is perfectly aligned with human psychology, even though it results in misery for many. Humans don't want to be comfortable, they want to get rich, win, and beat the other guy.

Best not to fight the market.

Capitalism might die someday, but the human brain would have to evolve and that would take millenia.

Welllll, if the human brain were so perfectly aligned with capitalism one might have thought that some culture would have struck upon it some time in the last hundred thousand years or so rather than just in the last couple hundred. But of the tens of thousands of cultures, there is only one that developed this particular approach to (mis)handling its affairs.

I find it as no accident that this coincides with the culture(s) that also waged piratic attacks on much of the rest of the world, then struck upon an apparently unlimited source of power in fossil fuels.

Capitalism is more rationalization of bad behavior enabled by ff than a legitimate philosophy or way of life. It may be addictive in a certain way, but that is all the more reason to put limits or taboos on it, as most traditional societies do on tempting but destructive behaviors.

One can argue that before fossil fuels, that humans used slavery as a mechanism to try and "capture" cheap energy, and these practices go back thousands of years. Bad behavior is not a modern invention.

"Bad behavior is not a modern invention."

No doubt. But previous attempts to capture energy were limited. Now we have had nearly unlimited access to such energy, and we have developed a handy ideology to accommodate and rationalize its use.

It is easy for us to see how earlier societies rationalized things like slavery through racism or merely saying that it is their choice since they could choose to kill themselves (even though manacles were often specifically designed to prevent this escape.)

What is harder to see is our own ideologies as rationalizations.

"I think you're right but the problem is that utopia isn't any fun!

This is the brilliant insight of capitalism. It is perfectly aligned with human psychology, even though it results in misery for many. Humans don't want to be comfortable, they want to get rich, win, and beat the other guy."

Agreed, remember Milton Freeman a few decades ago arguing that the only economic system which results in generally adequate organization is capitalism because it aligns people's individual motivations (greed) with the greater "good" of producing more things.

Fair enough, although here we know all too well how simplistic this is. It's one thing to acknowledge that people need personal returns to motivate them to work to achieve a greater good (the essence of capitalism), but it's another to take this to the extreme and to not only ENCOURAGE such greedy behavior, but entrench it into the system so that ONLY greed is rewarded, and teaching young people and economists in school that this is the only way, and creating an environment that believes any profit is legitimate, regardless of how it was realized (in the name of the "free market").

The problem with these capitalist economists is that they believe that labour produces things, when it doesn't. It takes and transforms things, and it by necessity, because of the laws of thermodynamics, takes and transforms more stuff than the end products "produced" contain.

Buddhist cultures (and many others) seem to get by OK and they do not preach and entrench such ways of thinking. Look at Bhutan for example and its Gross National Happiness.

The key is that producing more things, even if encouraged by capitalism or laissez faire, isn't necessarily "good" anymore in itself. Capitalism doesn't address the wisdom of producing those things, it just says that it is the best system to encourage more of them. As we have seen, it is all those things or stuff that may do us in. The possible fact that capitalism is the most efficient system at encouraging production isn't the end all and be all on whether it is the "best" system. To determine the best system, one must start with values. Those who are enamored with capitalism have a hidden agenda of assuming that the values underlying the system are validated by the system itself. The market has its uses in allocating resources and goods and it can be a valuable tool. A market for carbon, for example, would tend to optimize our response to the creation of carbon. Prior to that, however, the value system must determine whether the outcome is important.

The extreme that we are presented in American politics is that freedom trumps all other values. The ability to do what you damn well please is considered more important than the consequences. And then there is the absurd belief that given enough freedom, we can fix whatever ails us including the economy. The credo that freedom trumps everything else is of itself a form of tyranny.

Well said , they've taken the "free market" ideology to mean "free from regulation", because apparently all government regulation is bad. Now the major corporations and central banks (and the governments they control) control the markets, unregulated, and we no longer have free markets. Now the free market evangelists are screaming bloody murder about how manipulated the markets are, well what did they expect? For free markets to work they have to be regulated.

Giant open-pit mine raises questions in Uruguay

... So far Uruguay, unlike the rest of South America, has been largely untouched by the ravenous appetites of the mining companies, favoring instead its agricultural sector. Its vast, lush meadows are treated like gold.

... Aratiri, which expects to extract some 18 million tons of iron ore per year, would "seriously change the environmental equilibrium which has existed for more than 200 years," said one cattle rancher.

"The extraction of a finite resource, iron, which will last for just 30 years, is going to replace a far more productive, and longer-lasting activity.

"What's more, 95 percent of the benefits of the mine will disappear down the tube to support the Chinese and Indian industries," the rancher added.

"We're not creating a steel industry here, and later we'll be buying iron bolts from China," he added regretfully.

WikiLeaks Cable Discusses North American Integration Strategy

The integration of North America’s economies would best be achieved through an “incremental” approach, according to a leaked U.S. diplomatic cable.

The cable, released through the WikiLeaks website and apparently written Jan. 28, 2005, discusses some of the obstacles surrounding the merger of the economies of Canada, the United States and Mexico in a fashion similar to the European Union.

Many different areas of a possible integration are discussed throughout the cable, but the focus is on improving the economic welfare of the continent. It suggests one of the main benefits to Canada would be easier access across the U.S. border, calling it a “top motive” for this country.

Diamond was speaking of the Kubutu field in PNG, for those interested. An informant said that Chevron wanted to clean up its act in the wake of Exxon Valdez/Piper Alpha/Bhopal. None of which they had much of anything to do with, but good on them for trying. He contrasted their operation with that of the Salawati field run by Indonesian NOC Pertamini, with the usual nightmarish gas flares etc., so YMMV.

Hey, a pattern emerges - from the perspective of wildlife, humans kinda suck. Wow. News at 11. Perhaps someone has thrown together a photo gallery of how well animals fare when they're left alone.

Re: Stuart Staniford: The US Crude Production Peak is not Symmetrical (uptop)

From the article:

If global oil production behaves like the US, we might expect peak oil to take the form of a long plateau and a slow decline, which would tend to maximize hope for eventually successful adaptation (albeit with quite a bit of pain along the way).

Several points:  (1)  The Lower 48 is a better fit to the logistic model; (2)  The drilling density in the US is far higher than what we will see worldwide and (3)  The real problem is Peak Exports.

Regarding the third point, given an ongoing production decline in an oil exporting country, unless that country cuts their internal oil consumption at the same rate as, or at a rate faster than, the rate of decline in production, then the resulting rate of decline in net oil exports will exceed the rate of decline in production, and the rate of decline in net oil exports will accelerate with time. Furthermore, net export declines tend to be "front-end loaded," with the bulk of post-peak Cumulative Net Exports (CNE) being shipped early in the decline phase (in other words, we tend to see very high post-peak CNE depletion rates in oil exporting countries).   Our work suggests that we are only maintaining something close to "BAU" because of a sky-high rate of depletion in post-2005 Global CNE.  For more info, do a Google Search for Peak Oil Versus Peak Exports. 

However, one contributor to slowing the decline in global crude oil production will be slowly rising unconventional production.

In reality, the US production curve shows a bimodal distribution for oil production, with one peak for the lower 48 states and a second, smaller peak for Alaska. This makes the total production curve somewhat asymmetrical, but doesn't invalidate the Hubble Peak theory. It's just two overlapping bell-shaped curves.

National oil production curves often show a bimodal distribution, but again, this doesn't invalidate the Hubble Peak theory, it just means nations often have two superimposed production curves, either as a result of having two major producing provinces, or alternatively one peak for primary production and a second for EOR.

Stuart did an update with Alaska removed and the curves hang together for about +-20 years around the peak then the decline rate flattens out. I looked into it a bit and it looks like another bell curve for deep water is causing the 2nd deviation with a small amount left over (Bakken? Oil from fractured shale?)

I kind of thought I harassed Staniford away from TOD because he kept on pushing his heuristic approach and I kept on his case :) One of the last things he posted was that USA was a Gaussian as I recall. That said he does admit to his over-reliance on symmetry in his latest post.

If you want to see a couple of real models:


Notice the R/P ratio of about 10 in the right curve. I thought Staniford was TOD Emeritus or some such title. He really doesn't know much about modeling and is essentially just playing around with the data.

Deepwater GOM production probably does add a third, superimposed bell curve to the total US production curve. The risk with deepwater production is that the decline rate after the peak might be steeper than the rise because of the high cost of operating deepwater wells may cause fields to be shut in sooner than onshore. We haven't really seen what the downside of the GOM production curve looks like yet, and the Alaska curve may end with a bang when the Trans-Alaska Pipeline falls below minimum operating levels.

I think Hubbert himself said that there was no particular requirement for the curve to be symmetrical. As in bell curves in statistics, it could be left or right-skewed. High prices and non-conventional shale oil production could slow the decline. We can always hope.

If you want to see a truly asymmetric production curve, you should look at Canadian one. I think of it as the exception that proves the rule, though. Conventional oil production was deliberately regulated by government to reduce the height of the peak and flatten out the decline, producing a left-skewed curve, and new technology (government subsidized) is bringing on non-conventional oil sands production that will greatly exceed conventional oil production. It is a bimodal distribution, but the second, non-conventional peak will be much higher than the first, conventional one, and will be far in the future.

Conventional oil production was deliberately regulated by government to reduce the height of the peak and flatten out the decline, producing a left-skewed curve, and new technology (government subsidized) is bringing on non-conventional oil sands production that will greatly exceed conventional oil production.


The basic fact is that the smaller the statistical the sample and the shorter the time period, the more asymmetrical it will become, but it invariably turns into a right-skew. I did use the Weyburn field as a typical analysis for a small set, which amounts to a single field.

It is a bimodal distribution, but the second, non-conventional peak will be much higher than the first, conventional one, and will be far in the future.

Add in the bimodal from a recovery activity:

Maybe you want us to point to some charts or analysis that points to your assertion.

One other point.

High prices and non-conventional shale oil production could slow the decline. We can always hope.

This is a very dangerous misconception. It is really only obvious after you do the modeling, but there is no way to really "slow" the decline. You can try to limit the consumption, in which case the production curve will drop. Or you can prevent the drop from occurring, in which you have to increase consumption. It is bad news in either case. Really the only way to slow the decline is to not have increased the consumption in the first place. Once it is up there, there is no way to go but down. It is really difficult to speculate on the decline behavior without doing the modeling.

Again I urge you to reference some studies that backs up what you are talking about.

Sorry, I should have said, "Right skewed". I can't tell left from right. People find this somewhat disconcerting when I am driving and turn the opposite direction from what they told me. Maybe I should have said, "Positive skewed".

If you want to see what the Alberta production curves look like, see: Alberta's Energy Reserves 2009 and Supply/Demand Outlook 2010-2019 See Figure 8: Alberta conventional crude oil production and price.

Warning: This is a 232 page document. It is also updated every year, and this year's edition is due to come out soon.

This document is interesting because it shows what contributed to the asymmetrical nature of Alberta's supply curves - not just oil, but natural gas, coal, and sulfur. The amount of non-conventional oil vastly exceeds the amount of conventional oil (which is largely depleted) so the two are treated separately.

Interestingly, Alberta tar sands aren't even an energy source, they are an energy carrier, the energy comes from the natural gas they have to pipe in from everywhere else (liberated by fracking) in order to turn tar sand into gasoline. This is also why they want to put a nuke plant in Alberta ....... to refine oil.....?!?!?!? I thought oil was a source of energy???? Why do they need a nuke planet????? Obvious questions our leaders don't seem to ponder. Strange but true.

You obviously have had large amounts of misinformation inflicted on you. Let me explain the facts of oil sands production.

It takes about 1 gigajoule of natural gas (in Alberta natural gas is priced in GJ) to produce a barrel of oil from the oil sands. At this point in time, a company can buy 1 gigajoule of gas for about $4, and sell a barrel of synthetic crude oil for $100, so the economics are overwhelmingly positive.

A barrel of oil contains about 6 GJ of energy, so the EROEI of producing oil sands is about 6:1. On an energy equivalent basis the gas should be priced closer to $16, but due to a glut of gas in North America it only gets a quarter of that.

They don't have to pipe gas in from very far away because there are natural gas fields underneath the oil sands, not to mention gas fields all around the oil sands.

The only people who were talking about using nukes to produce oil sands were the nuclear reactor manufacturers. With natural gas selling at $4 it's completely uncompetitive, so they were largely ignored. The government said they wouldn't rule it out, but on the other hand, they couldn't see why anyone would do it.

Thanks, Jeffrey,

Re: " Our work suggests that we are only maintaining something close to "BAU" because of a sky-high rate of depletion in post-2005 Global CNE."

I'm having a little trouble understanding the wording. Could you please explain a little further?

1) We are maintaining close to BAU
2) Because the Cumulative Net Exports globally
3) Are depleting at a very high rate?

ie., "exports" are "depleting" - ?

Given a production decline, relative to a prior production peak, the rate of decline in net exports is of course the rate of change in the annual volume of net exports, versus the peak rate. Post-peak CNE (Cumulative Net Exports) would be the total volume of post-peak net oil exports; think of it as a fuel gauge, showing full at the end of the peak production year. The depletion rate would be the rate at which post-peak CNE are consumed. The CNE "Half Life" would be the number of years that it takes to consume half of post-peak CNE. With that as a background, here are some numbers for "Export Land" and for three actual case histories:

A rough rule of thumb appears to be that about one-third of the way into a net export decline is the approximate CNE "Half Life" point for most oil exporting countries. An excerpt from one of our articles follows. Based on extrapolating the 2005 to 2009 rate of increase in the Consumption (C) to Production (P) ratio for global net oil exporters, we would have approximately 50 years of global net oil exports (after 2005), which suggests a post-2005 "Half Life" point of about 2022. In other words, in about 12 years globally we would have burned through about half of the total supply of post-2005 Cumulative Net Exports.

Egypt, a classic case of rapid net-export decline and a look at global net exports

It’s difficult to do detailed modeling on GNE (Global Net Exports), but in many cases we can get a useful estimate of post-peak CNE for a region by extrapolating the rate of increase in the C/P ratio. If we extrapolate the 2005-2009 rate of increase in the C/P ratio for GNE, it suggests that post-2005 global CNE are on the order of about 420 Billion Barrels (Gb). This is of course only a rough approximation, but consider that just from 2006 to 2009 inclusive, world importers consumed 65 Gb of CNE, which is 15 percent of projected global post-2005 CNE.

However, a key question is, how are post-2005 CNE going to be distributed? Note that in four years Chindia’s net oil imports as a percentage of GNE rose from 11.3 percent to 17.1. If we extrapolate this rate of increase, it suggests that Chindia will be consuming 100 percent of GNE around 2025.

While we can all agree that something will change, and Chindia will not be consuming 100 percent of GNE in 2025, it appears likely only a question of what the long-term rate of increase is going to be for Chindia’s net oil imports.

In any case, for purposes of illustration it’s useful to carry out the Chindia extrapolation to its logical conclusion. If we define Available Net Exports as the volume of net exported oil not consumed by Chindia, then the estimated post-2005 total volume of Available CNE will only be about 150 Gb; and in 2006 to 2009 inclusive, non-Chindia importers have consumed about 56 Gb, or one-third of projected post-2005 Available CNE.

Our view is that there are two real questions: the long-term rate of change in GNE; and, more important to developed OECD countries, the long-term rate of change in Available Net Exports. In both cases we think that the long-term trend line is down; and that Egypt, as well as many other countries, serves as clear warning of where we are headed. Furthermore we believe that we are currently maintaining something close to Business As Usual, only because of a very high rate of depletion in post-2005 global CNE, especially in Available CNE.

Re: Millions of barrels per day years.

Stuart's article mentions that we've been operating with ten of these left for 50 years.

I have difficulty imagining how one would calculate these convincingly.

How many barrels per day can be produced at a time t will depend on the price of oil at time t. This price will depend on world events.

Although it is very difficult to come up with a convincing mathematical function representing 'world events', might it not be possible to come up with an explicit mathematical function of O( t, P(t), GeographicRegion, other variables? ) where t is time, P(t) is price of oil at time t?

I would be interested to see such a function explicitly defined as a guess, and the basis of it's construction laid out and debated.

One interesting thing about this function is that it will also depend on the history of P(t). That is, likely a rise in P(t) would have a positive effect on amount produced at time t (O), so that a P(t) that spikes early would likely deplete reserves, and have an effect on O at later values of t.

It would seem that O ought to bake in stuff like 'how does the shape of O influence ultimate extractibility?'.

Might not much of 'world events' be encapsulated in P(t), so that with a working model O of oil production different P scenarios might be explored?

World events will also depend on O for sure. What equations do we have, what variables are free, how might this all be explicitly stated and what can we glean from it all?

We have the equations but they are largely stochastic with some perturbations on the mean value for variations over time.

Stanford climate scientists forecast permanently hotter summers

The tropics and much of the Northern Hemisphere are likely to experience an irreversible rise in summer temperatures within the next 20 to 60 years if atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations continue to increase, according to a new climate study by Stanford University scientists. The results will be published later this month in the journal Climatic Change.

In the study, the Stanford team concluded that many tropical regions in Africa, Asia and South America could see "the permanent emergence of unprecedented summer heat" in the next two decades. Middle latitudes of Europe, China and North America – including the United States – are likely to undergo extreme summer temperature shifts within 60 years, the researchers found.

"According to our projections, large areas of the globe are likely to warm up so quickly that, by the middle of this century, even the coolest summers will be hotter than the hottest summers of the past 50 years," said the study's lead author, Noah Diffenbaugh ...

"We find that the most immediate increase in extreme seasonal heat occurs in the tropics, with up to 70 percent of seasons in the early 21st century (2010-2039) exceeding the late-20th century maximum," the authors wrote.

And how will we increase food supply by 40% while summers peak over 130 F?

World needs refugee re-think for climate victims: U.N.

"Primary responsibility for the protection and well-being of affected populations will ... rest with the states concerned," ...

Ongoing rains worsen record-breaking floods along Missouri River
Rising waters threaten Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota, and are expected to push south soon. The Midwest will be underwater all summer, say officials.


We're having our first heat-wave of the year in Chicago. Temperatures expected in the mid-to high-90's this afternoon, with a heat index breaking 100 deg F.

We had a heat wave yesterday here in the Canadian Rockies, too. The temperature went up to 21°C (70°F), so I opened several windows and took off my shirt to work in the back yard. Today it's 11°C (50°F) and raining, so I guess that's it for our spring heat wave.

I can't wait until summer comes and I can get by without my down jacket most days.

We've already set a new record (for the date) a few days ago - 103F (39.4C) - the earliest 103F ever recorded for Tallahassee. All-time record is 104F.

In May we had 17 days equal to the hottest for the date and 5 exceeding it. June might be trying to match it but I haven't recorded the numbers yet though today was a + day. Rainy season is trying to get started early with showers already, normally it starts on the 15th. Current humidity is very unpleasant:(


Here in the Canadian Rockies, it peaked out at 10°C (50°F) today, with moderate rain and low-lying fog. The low tonight will be about freezing, with snow at higher elevations. I'm sitting here in the living room, wearing my down vest, watching the hockey playoffs. Global warming seems to be something that happens to other people.

TV news reporting drought on the island of Öland here in Sweden. Personaly I spent some quality time under a bridge waiting for some realy heavy rain (acompanyed by flashes 2 seconds away) to pass by. It comes uneven, but some places are gonna experience a good bashing of drought this year. On the global level I've red that loads of drought are in the pipe this summer.

I believe that Stanford fellow is several decades too optimistic. it's been in the 90's several times here where the summer average is in the upper '80's. Let's hope the Arctic Oscillation stays positive this summer to help slow things down.

Chevy's Carbon Plan: Less Than Meets the Eye

Last year, Chevrolet announced an incentive for the environmentally minded. For anyone who buys a Chevy between Nov. 18 and the end of 2011, the company promises to purchase carbon offsets, which are payments meant to encourage environmentally friendly projects that reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the impact of the new autos' pollution.

Based on the first transaction in Chevrolet's $40 million plan, the actual carbon reductions will be far less than promised. The automaker is paying almost $750,000 to bolster a state program in Maine that insulates homes for low-income families. The investment is enough to weatherize 170 houses and reduce carbon emissions by 1,224 tons through 2014, according to the Maine State Housing Authority. Yet Chevrolet is receiving credits for 45,738 tons worth of reduced carbon—the total savings Maine expects through 2014 from weatherizing all 5,500 homes in the program.

The difference illustrates a peril in using carbon offsets to achieve environmental goals, according to Anja Kollmuss, a Zurich-based scientist associated with the Stockholm Environment Institute

Presumably these 170 homes will still be heated after 2014? Since CO2 stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years it ought to be reasonable to use a longer timespan to realize savings from efficiency investments.

I agree with the premise that accounting for carbon credits needs to be verified. But this smacks of the author chery-picking their own metric inorder to support a prior conclusion. Proper science is to gather the data first, and see where it leads, then write the conclusion. Sounds to me like journalists reverse the order.

Novel geothermal technology packs a one-two punch against climate change

The approach, termed CO2-plume geothermal system, or CPG, was developed by Earth sciences faculty member Martin Saar and graduate student Jimmy Randolph in the university's College of Science and Engineering.

CPG provides a number of advantages over other geothermal systems, Randolph said. First, CO2 travels more easily than water through porous rock, so it can extract heat more readily. As a result, CPG can be used in regions where conventional geothermal electricity production would not make sense from a technical or economic standpoint.

CPG also offers the benefit of preventing CO2 from reaching the atmosphere by sequestering it deep underground, where it cannot contribute to climate change. In addition, because pure CO2 is less likely than water to dissolve the material around it, CPG reduces the risk of a geothermal system not being able to operate for long times due to "short-circuiting" or plugging the flow of fluid through the hot rocks. Moreover, the technology could be used in parallel to boost fossil fuel production by pushing natural gas or oil from partially depleted reservoirs as CO2 is injected.

Volvo Offers LNG, Methane Gas Truck for Longhaul Fuel Savings in Europe

Truck maker Volvo AB, based in Sweden, said it has launched its first longhaul truck in Europe powered by up to 75% liquefied natural gas or methane gas.

...The engine technology is based on a conventional diesel engine equipped with gas injectors, a special Thermos-like fuel tank that keeps the gas liquefied and chilled to [minus-220 degrees Fahrenheit] and a specially modified catalytic converter,” Volvo said. ...The fuel tank holds enough gas for a truck weighing 40 tons to travel “up to 300 miles in normal driving,” the release said.

The two links provided by Leanan, above, may well have been posted back to back:

Canada crude-Keystone restart tightens heavy spreads

Silence is deadly: I’m speaking out against Canada-U.S. tar sands pipeline

I'm on Jim Hansen's e-mail list and I received the email alert this weekend:

...Phase out of emissions from coal is itself an enormous challenge. However, if the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over. There is no practical way to capture the CO2 emitted while burning oil, which is used principally in vehicles.

Governments are acting as if they are oblivious to the fact that there is a limit on how much fossil fuel carbon we can put into the air. Fossil fuel carbon injected into the atmosphere will stay in surface reservoirs for millennia. We can extract a fraction of the excess CO2 via improved agricultural and forestry practices, but we cannot get back to a safe CO2 level if all coal is used without carbon capture or if unconventional fossil fuels are exploited.

A document describing the pipeline project is available at http://www.keystonepipelinexl.state.gov/clientsite/keystonexl.nsf?Open

[..if link doesn't work try here.]

Comments, due by 6 June, can be submitted to
or by e-mail to keystonexl@cardno.com or mail to Keystone XL EIS Project, P.O. Box 96503–
98500, Washington, DC 20090–6503 or fax to 206-269-0098.

[bold and alternate link added]

Not much time to respond. I have doubts that there will be much effective outcry against bringing this pipeline to Texas, certainly not in the MSM, and the perceived need is far too great. Some land owners may resist, and I'm sure there will be legal wrangling involving imminent domain and all that, but 'progress and growth' must go on....No way we'll pass up any opportunity to continue BAU as long as possible for the sake of the environment, preventing climate change, etc. Sorry Jim.

We humans will keep burning stuff, as quickly and as cheaply as we can, until we really can't. I voiced my objections anyway, purely on principle.

Map of pipeline, existing and proposed.

FWIW, so did I.

Interestingly, I come form a slightly different angle. Given that Canada has committed itself to economic growth with tar sands development as the main driver of this (not that I agree, but what can I do), should there be a pipeline to A) the US, or B) the BC coast and from there by tanker to China. I fall squarely on option A since the US is not going to get off oil soon, and they are either going to get it overseas, or from Canada. Furthermore, the terrain and seismic activity of British Columbia guarantees a pipeline leak which will wipe out entire rivers and coastlines (the prairies don't have these seismic issues)

As I suggested, someone's going to burn it, and the BC pipeline will likely be built as well. So it goes...

I was just talking with the Dogwood people at lunch today out on the street and they say the aboriginals have all signed a declaration banning the pipeline form their unceded territories, so I imagine that will hold it up for quite a while.

I don't think the BC pipeline is a sure thing at all. Even without the opposition that Null refers to, if there was a big pipe to the US (or eastern Canada) ready to suck it all up, then why bother?

However, since China has been buying up Canadian oil properties as fast as they can, they may well influence that decision. While I am sure they are happy to make money by selling Cdn oil to the US, the real objective is to get Cdn oil to China.

Since, presently, the US seems disinterested or at least, ambivalent, about said Cdn oil the BC pipeline projects are being pushed.

Sure, the oilsands oil is more carbon intensive than Saudi or Venezueala oil, but the good thing is it is not coming from Saudi or Venezuela. And most of the money the US spends on stuff from Canada ends up back in the US anyway - look at all these Canucks buying properties in the sunbelt.

In fact, you could probably do a good deal and swap huge tracts of sunbelt housing for the oil - solves a surplus problem for each country!

Does anyone have an explanation as to why the Keystone pipeline has so many leaks in such a short time?

JUNE 7, 2011, 2:31 P.M. ET

EPA Urges More Scrutiny of Pipeline Expansion


HOUSTON—The Environmental Protection Agency called on the State Department to increase its scrutiny of TransCanada Corp.'s plan to extend its Keystone pipeline system, saying leaks along the line present an environmental challenge.

The 1,300-mile line has sprung 11 leaks overall during its one-year lifespan, raising concerns about the company's plans to nearly double the system's capacity as part of its so-called Keystone XL project, the EPA said in a letter to the State Department. TransCanada restarted the 591,000 barrel-a-day line Sunday after a May 29 leak of 10 barrels of oil in Kansas. The line also spilled 400 barrels of oil on May 7 in North Dakota.

Despite the number of leaks, the line's structural integrity isn't a problem, TransCanada spokesman James Millar has said.


There were a few articles last year mentioning defective steel. Pipelines are in bad shape even the new one.

Does the Keystone Pipeline Contain Defective Steel?

Yesterday Plains Justice released a report showing that defective steel might have been used in TransCanada’s already constructed Keystone pipeline.

Japan doubles radiation release estimate

Tokyo - The Japanese government more than doubled its estimate Monday for the amount of radioactivity released from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station and warned it could extend the exclusion zone around the stricken plant.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said released radioactivity was believed to have totaled 770,000 terabecquerels over the period March 11 to March 16 [6 days]. This was up from the 370,000 terabecquerels estimated in early April ...

Also... Nine workers have suffered heat exhaustion since the start of the nuclear crisis.

As the weather gets warmer and more humid, the working environment at the plant will become more difficult for those wearing protective gear.

....heat exhaustion?!


Why not?

Put on any kind of full body protective gear and heat exhaustion is possible.

Wearing protective gear makes things real hot. Simply wearing a painters type face mask to work on attic insulation a few years back and I would quickly feel hot and out of breathe (I think some of it was psychological), and that was with attic temps in the sixties... wearing impermeable clothing, and full face mask etc. must be pretty miserable even in pretty cool weather (like say 40F).

I just found it odd that they are reporting cases of heat exhaustion when these workers are likely receiving significant radiation exposure. Maybe it's just me.....

What happened to the good ol' cooling suit / vest?
Must the Japanese get it in with a spoon? Hey, you, TEPCO, you have a nuke accident at hand... think!!!

They disappoint again.Here is some nice underwear, a Thermal Vest : http://defense-update.com/products/t/thermal_vest_TPI.htm

Heat exhaustion can kill you now. Radiation might kill you in six months.

At work, we just went through our annual heat injury training session. With all the new PPE requirements that OSHA is packing on, the unintended consequence is that heat-related problems are up substantially.

I've been doing welding in full solar exposure mid summer temperatures on a concrete floor. Fully dressed, including thermal leather gloves, heavy boots and all clothes in heavy spark-resistant cotton clothes. And softhat and welders helmet.
You quickly learn how to work: slowly. Think zombie-style. If you don't produce much of your own heat you can stay just below the balance point of overheating. And drink a lot. By just keeping down the tempo you can endure quite high working temperatures.

By just keeping down the tempo you can endure quite high working temperatures.

Pretty good strategy when you gotta get the job done before receiving a lethal dose of radiation!

It's a lose/lose situation.

We had a problem with that at a nuke plant where I worked. We ended up getting ice vests for the workers. Basically a fishing vest with freezable gel packs in all the pockets. With an ice vest under the gear, a guy's working time went from 15 minutes to 2 hours in a 150 F room.

Might be worth my while rigging up one of those for working here. Thanks for the idea guys.


Hansen and McKibben once again flogging the myth that energy policy takes place at the mouth of an oil pipeline (in this case, the tar sands). This is one of the reasons the climate change movement has failed so miserably. They continually craft political narratives that are not operative, but, which are clearly designed to captivate the audience. Follow me here: this particular framing is designed to give climate movement folks the idea that by stopping a tar sands pipeline, it will stop the flow of oil. Now, given the myriad ways Canada can arbitrage and ferry oil supply to world markets this is simply not true.

US Energy policy is of course made not at the wellhead, but at the on-ramp. Our transport sector is the greatest producer of greenhouse gasses, and the Democratic party is a huge investor in the Auto-Highway complex. In McKibben's piece on the same subject, he feigns a "getting tough" stance with Obama on the "serious matter of the pipeline. " Sad, really.


Hansen and McKibben are right, and they deserve a lot more credit than what most give them. Two guys who walk the walk, not just talk the talk. How many who read this site, can claim that? Very few.

If one wants to kill the Snake, cut off the head. The Well Head.....Leave the Black Death in the ground. It will come to that, eventually anyway. Also applies to the "energy policy" of the twits in the criminal fedgov. Get them out. Steven Chu, one of the most bought and paid for, by gov money, elitists out there, would'nt know a good energy policy if it bit him on the A$$.

In March 2011 Chu said that federal regulators should not delay approving construction licenses for planned U.S. nuclear power plants because of Japan's nuclear crisis. "I think those things can proceed," Chu told reporters on Capitol Hill, referring to construction license applications pending at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

It's all moving in the wrong direction.

The Martian.

Greetings, Martian,

re: "...would'nt know a good energy policy if it bit him..."

If the National Academy of Sciences would directly address global oil supply (decline), including impacts and policy options, then, at least States, Counties and municipalities would have something solid to point to for post-peak planning. www.oildepletion.wordpress.com.

And maybe the fed gov could do something sensible, since the scientists would be the ones to deliver the (bad-for-BAU) news.

Of course, it's ridiculously easy to lambaste some big bad unpopular oil company with cheap shots that leave the impression that closing it down would have no effect except on evil wicked "profits". If, instead, Hansen et. al. proposed closing on-ramps, so to speak, the consequences, while identical in the long run, would be much more transparent, easily seen to affect voters themselves rather than just dumping on iniquitous "elites". They'd be run out of town on a rail in no time flat.

After all, almost no one among the global public is seeking a return to the 19th century, nor even any milder form of austerity (and in that they're merely following the example of most of the austerity advocates, who fly here, fly there, and fly everywhere at the drop of a hat, and otherwise live sky-high off the carbon hog.) Consider for example the kerfuffles in southern Europe, or the threats to Australian scientists. Or the rotating TOD quote, "A third of humanity doesn't want to ride bikes anymore..."

Or, as I've said before, consider the signs here in the Berkeley of the Midwest (now re-sprouting as The Budget comes up for a vote) complaining of the destruction of the middle class. I hardly think the picketers are seeking the closure of any real or metaphorical on-ramps - or seeking to live like their great-grandparents, for whom the five-mile family trip into town for a high holiday was a major expedition requiring no little time and planning and taking nearly two hours each way.

Saudis raise oil production to curb prices

Saudi Arabia has been quietly increasing its crude oil production ahead of Wednesday’s meeting of the Opec oil cartel, in a sign that Riyadh is trying to bring oil prices down to more comfortable levels for consumers in the US, Europe and China.

The kingdom boosted production in May by about 200,000 barrels a day and it is on course to increase it by another 200,000-300,000 b/d this month, taking its output above the critical 9m b/d level for the first time since mid-2008.

The futures market is certainly buying it...

Not- Here's a rather simple question: how does the KSA increasing production lower oil prices? Or perhaps better put: who's going to by this increased production? Certainly no one if it's offered at current prices...those folks are buying now. So they have to sell the new production to folks buying from other oil exporters. And they can do that by lowering their asking price and the other exporters would drop their prices so as to not lose market share. But what if the other exporters decide not to compete? Almost all the other exporters acknowledge they are at peak. So what would you do if you were selling a diminishing commodity that will sell for the same price as you have been getting if you cut production as much as the KSA brings on? Of course, that would lower your income. But so would selling your oil for less. Given you know the reserves you don't sell at the lower price will be worth more down the road perhaps you would just sit back and give up some market share...at least in the short term.

But here's an even more basic proposition: if the KSA wants to lower the price their buyers pay...wait for it...wait for it...why not offer to sell them the same oil for less? Tomorrow the KSA could post all its production at 30% less than what they did today. Of course the other exporters wouldn’t have to lower their prices since they wouldn’t be losing market share. More importantly, the KSA wouldn't be selling a greater volume of their depleting reserves. Thus the KSA would be the good guys and preserve more of their reserve base to boot.

I’m not predicting such developments…just offering some what-ifs. This isn't 1986 when the KSA had a good reason to drop their prices. The global recession left the world drowning in oil. With PO upon us I don't think drowning is a likely prospect.

I'm attending a Clean and Green Investment Forum in San Francisco today and tomorrow and live-blogging at my Energy Trends blog. There are some very smart people here with a focus on policy and markets and how they can support alternative energy. I'll try to get a summary post up later this week.


Resource Efficiency: The Sixth Wave of Innovation

The global financial crisis of 2007-2009 heralded the start of a sixth major wave of innovation — that of resource efficiency, according to Dr James Bradfield Moody, author of The Sixth Wave, speaking at the Creative Sydney conference.

Moody predicts that the sixth cycle will be defined by resource efficiency. The new wave is heralded by massive changes in the market, societal institutions and technology that all reinforce each other. These include rising scarcity of ore grades, increase in water demand, and an increasing recognition of the economic value of the environment over and above its potential as a resource and a rise in cleantech.

Moody flagged up four rules of thumb for succeeding in this new economy: ...

Tyler Cowen at http://marginalrevolution.com/ thinks innovation has slowed over the last 50 years compared to the prior 50 years:

He picks 1973 as the key year. TOD readers know that is about when American oil production peaked. Cowen's contribution is that technological change relevant to the average person peaked at about the same time.

The Great Stagnation:




I suppose we've long done or discovered most of what was "easy" to do or discover. I have also come to believe that humanity as a whole is degrading, probably fairly quickly. People tend to take progress for granted because we've had so much of it... but it's not. It makes as little sense as endless exponential growth.

Ironic that something saying there hasn't been much innovation in the last 50 years is published as a video on the internet.

He did say the ony area of real invention has been tele-comunications, such as the internet.

I would think that other areas of innovation since the '70s would be pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and prostheses, genetic engineering, scientific instruments and measurement equipment.

Futhermore, even if a current Boeing 747 looks like a early Boeing 747, I'd bet that there are few interchangeable parts and that there are extensive upgrades to avionics, flight control systems, hydraulics, fuel handling, jet engines, wing shape, etc.

But isn;t your 747 a prime example of the incremental progress, as opposed to breakthrough? When it was launched, the 747 ushered in a new age of long distance air travel. There have been lots of improvements since them, but incremental.

We had a failed attempt at supersonic travel with Concorde, and the only other big new step, is the Airbus A380, and look at the massive amount of time and money that needed.

Agree with your other comments re "lab based" technology - that has certainly improved dramatically, but our big physical stuff has not.

The 747 is just incremental progress over the B-47, which first flew in 1947. It is larger, has a low wing instead of high wing, and has four high-bypass turbofans instead of six turbojets. Otherwise, it is basically similar.

Long distance air travel was ushered in by the Pan American Airlines Clipper services across the Atlantic and Pacific. They used Sikorski and Boeing flying boats.

Things like Roundup Ready soybeans, introduced in '95, are not really "lab based" any more than advances in aviation. A wind tunnel is just a big lab.

Well, we can go back and forth about which planes did what, but here is an example of just how incremental the progress has been in recent decades;

The four dots on the lower left are the variants of the Lockheed Constellation - it took decades to get back down to their level of fuel efficiency, though at faster speeds.

The difference with lab based things is that you can actually "produce" them in the lab. You can't produce a 747 in the lab.
Most of the lab advances relate to electronics and biochemisty - small scale things. In terms ofbig things that use aerodynamics, thermodynamics, hydraulics, etc the real development work on that was done in the first half of the 20th century, and the last half of the 19th.

But isn;t your 747 a prime example of the incremental progress, as opposed to breakthrough?

Both are important. Here in the west we denigrate incremental progress as unoriginal, and frankly boring. The Japanese almost shut down our auto industry by making incremental progress work. I'm afraid in the real world for every really innovative thing, there are hundreds of supporting activities that can benefit from incremental progress. You need to combine the two to be really effective.

True up to a point ... and yet while we've become ever more adept at shifting pixels and broadcasting 140-character banalities, much else has gone off somewhere in a handbasket. Consider the ever-worsening miseries of flying, or of travel in or near megacities; or the way our (US) schools fail us; or the way everyday "stuff" falls apart so quickly; or even, to get back to pixel-shifting, the way we have hundreds of HD channels but less to watch than ever.

Truly it's a mixed bag. There are certainly impressive specialty advances, for example in orthopedic surgery, that help a few people a lot. Still, there's nothing much for the everyday life of the broad population that compares with, say, the advent of electricity or even motor cars.

Schools are bad due to investments. Call it the Reagan effect. But to say that there was no innovation since 1973 is a bloody joke. What was innovated in 1963 to 1972: agent orange? I love how non-quantitative this historical viewpoint is?

Of course, I can use a GPS device that is also a phone, camera, and video recorder and I can walk in any city on the planet with easy access to information. This is not much of an innovation. Nor is the fact that we have sequenced the Human Genome. That was easy.

Poor guy. He just doesnt understand oil too well.

Actually th schools aren't doing so bad, considering the material (kids) they have to work with. Kids from the lower SES (socieo-economic-status) rarely come equiped to learn. And those higher up the SES scale come equiped with an attitude that things will be given to them by birthright, no effort required. So the results are predictably bad.

Here is an article from Egypt concerned about declining oil demand due to green technology. See it is all a matter of perspective.


Good articles on Fukushima:



Sounds like if Japan gets a large aftershock (8.0) that we could have a worse situation, with no way to stop it. This is an extreme example but its good to see some countries such as Germany deciding to reduce their risk in the future. Here in the US, I wonder if anything is being done to harden nuclear reactor sites or if its all just talk at this stage, the industry saying we'll get around to it eventually (this is, when we are forced - and it takes a lot of force).

After Fukushima and those fresh revelations (Fukushima reactor had meltdown 3.5 hours after cooling system collapsed: U.S. researcher)
------ and when pushing my terror switch - everything got a whole lot easier....

>>>Just clog the water_intake at your favorite nuke station for a few hours -- with a tarp or two -- go home and watch CNN...

According to the simulation, the reactor core started melting about 50 minutes after the emergency core cooling system of the No. 1 reactor stopped functioning and the injection of water into the reactor pressure vessel came to a halt

But we were told those were hydrogen explosions at the reactor site. You don't think any misleading statements would be issued, right?

But we were told those were hydrogen explosions at the reactor site.

Technically true. The hydrogen came from the reaction of the melted (or simply seriously overheated) fuel and water. Those explosions were chemical, not nuclear. But, that doesn't mean they didn't spread nasty stuff around.

Where exactly are the citations that support the claim that there nuclear meltdowns are at risk for hydrogen explosions? I search but don't find anything satisfactory.

Instead if find lots of citations that are very speculative and include "TMI might have had a hydrogen explosion if..." or "hydrogen explosions are an alternate explanation for what happens".

So can anyone show me a definitive citation that nuclear meltdowns cause hydrogen gas explosions?

It is the Zircaloy fuel rod cladding reacting with water vapor at temps over 800 C. Same thing happened at TMI. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zirconium_alloy

Lots of links out there but here is one.

"At some stage during this venting process, the water level may have dropped below the top of the fuel rods. Regardless, the temperature of some of the fuel rod cladding exceeded 1200 °C, initiating a reaction between the Zircaloy and water. This oxidizing reaction produces hydrogen gas, which mixes with the gas-steam mixture being vented. This is a known and anticipated process, but the amount of hydrogen gas produced was unknown because the operators didn’t know the exact temperature of the fuel rods or the water level. Since hydrogen gas is extremely combustible, when enough hydrogen gas is mixed with air, it reacts with oxygen. If there is enough hydrogen gas, it will react rapidly, producing an explosion."


It is likely reactor three or its fuel pool likely went critical (restarted the chain reaction) and blew up. Some of the debris likely reached 1000 m/s. Fairwinds has some good coverage.

No citations, but hot metal plus water (or steam) liberates hydrogen. Have hydrogen siting around and let Oxygen and heat get to it and kablooie.

Enterprise sees 750,000 to 800,000 b/d oil potential from Eagle Ford

The conference began with a new projection on potential Eagle Ford production for 750,000 to 800,000 b/d of oil, with expectations changing all the time, from Enterprise Products Partners executive Mark Hurley.

"The numbers get bigger every time we look," said Hurley, vice president of the pipeline company's oil and offshore business.

He said the new outlook tops previous estimates of 400,000 to 500,000 b/d and noted that some have predicted the play could generate 1 million b/d.

Amazing, SFGate slapped a "June 6" date on a cut-down copy of a story from May 17.

Aramco ‘Keen’ to Develop Shale, Tight Gas to Meet Local Demand
By Wael Mahdi / Bloomberg / May 17, 2011

Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil exporter, wants to develop unconventional gas resources such as shale rock to reduce the burning of crude for power generation, a company official said.

Do they feel they have to run the same story over and over because nobody listened?

Not really on topic, but some of you may enjoy this photo of Saturday's eruption in Chile; certainly 'energetic'. An hypothesis is that this eruption is directly related to last year's large earthquake.

Peak oil? No, but mind the output gap'

Kuala Lumpur: Peak oil theorists may have found themselves at home in some unusual company today as the oil and gas industry gathered for its biggest annual conference, which is being held in Asia...

The solution presented was more exploration, but Shamsul also acknowledged that $2.4 trillion spent by oil companies around the globe between 2005 and 2010 served only to keep production steady. Between 1995 and 2004, the same amount of capex yielded an increase of 12.3 million bpd.

Wait, you mean to say that 2.4 trillion spent over 10 years yielded a production increase of 12.3 million barrels per day but the same amount spent over the last 6 years did not increase oil production one whit? It only allowed us to replace depletion? But not to worry, higher prices will fix everything.

It is higher prices, both in Asia and the U.S. that may be most effective in closing the output gap.

Ron P.

It's ludicrous, really, Ron.
This morning another economic analyst was on CNBC "struggling" to "figure out" what's wrong with the "recovery".
I'm pretty much ready to stop watching the "Business News" entirely. The denial is so thick, one can cut it with a knife at this point.
What a joke.

The Texas and North Sea responses (about 9% of total global cumulative crude oil production through 2005) to rising oil prices (annual oil prices on vertical scales; annual C+C production on horizontal scales):


Economists have this hypothosis:

production = investment

This "makes sense" in an intuitive way. If I want more beer I open another bottle! Easy.

But it is totally wrong and is very easy to disprove using publically available data. Just take the EIA drilling stats vs oil production and you very quickly see a non-correlation. Early on almost no drilling results in a huge flow of oil and later, huge, huge amounts of drilling result in flat or negative flow rates.

Geology wins. But they just refuse to see it.

Between biofuel consumption and weather events reducing corn inventories to close to zero, I have been wondering what happens if we are forced to turn off ethanol production. This is a report from an Iowa university so view their results with a pro-ethanol filter. Nonetheless, they do stick a number on it.

The Impact of Ethanol Production on US and Regional Gasoline Markets: An Update to May 2009

In addition, we report on a related analysis that asks what would happen to US gasoline prices if ethanol production came to an immediate halt. Under a very wide range of parameters, the estimated gasoline price increase would be of historic proportions, ranging from 41% to 92%.

Since we've built quite a house of cards around ethanol, it would be interesting to watch:

~ $7 billion in subsidies/blenders credit: continue, revamp, or scratch?

$.54/gal import tariff?

Brazil, etc.: large effect on their fuel costs?

Live stock feed? Effect on meat/food prices?

Farming economy: How much farm debt built around ethanol?

Numerous knock on effects ....., yeah, interesting, and Romney could take the credit.

House of cards? Oil is the house of cards, not ethanol. Oil depletes. Oil is subject to Mideast turmoil. Oil is more heavily subsidized than ethanol if all costs including wars for oil security are included.

Sounds like you might agree with this rediculous Frobes piece:


Note that Carter is a state employee feeding at the government trough. And that Henry I. Miller, a physician, is the Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. Both are Californians.

The Senators opposing ethanol are from oil producing states
which have a vested interest in oil and oil subsidies.

I won't comment on all the article's errors except the most obvious one that shows these guys don't have a clue: The amount of corn used for ethanol is overstated by 50% since one third of the corn used is recycled as animal feed in the form of DDGs.

The farm economy is probably the most prosperous sector of the whole economy right now. If it is due to ethanol, why destroy it?

I often wonder why the hatred for ethanol? Ethanol is American produced. Oil is mostly imported. People are not being killed for ethanol like for oil. It appears ethanol opponents would rather send their money to people like Qaddafi and Chavez and countries like Iraq and Iran than have prosperous American farmers.

Yet farmers are not suppose to resent this attitude. We do resent it.

Jeez, X - House of cards because food energy trumps transportation energy. Starving people don't drive cars much. House of cards because when the subsidies and blending credits are cut (eliminated eventually because we-the-people are broke) the whole thing likely collapses. House of cards because the EROEI sucks. Matters little if you, I, or the farmers resent it.

"The farm economy is probably the most prosperous sector of the whole economy right now. "

Since mandated ethanol is the most subsidized energy sector, one would hope so. One also hopes that most of these farmers have a Plan B.

For all those who cannot see how one man could manipulate the price of oil.
Fredriksen buying up the world oil tankers.
The billionaire($10.7B) accused by SEC of manipulating the oil market is the biggest ship owner in the world.



So they buy some oil, then withhold it from the market, which drives the price up. Then they sell the oil at some point, which drives the price down. So there's no net price increase over the time period between the purchase and the sale.

Majorian, your first article makes no claim of price manipulation but does say your man will control 10 percent of the tanker fleet.

The carrying capacity of the supertanker fleet will expand more than 10 percent this year and keep growing for at least the next three years, according to Maritime Strategies International Ltd., a London-based forecaster of freight costs.

The second article states only:

“He has been involved in speculative trading before, among other things in currencies. It’s too early to say if these claims of illegal oil trading will hold up.”

The Baltic Dirty Tanker Index is really quite low. In fact rates have fallen 81 percent in the last 12 months. So there is no indication that this guy is manipulating the oil price by holding back deliveries with his soon to be 10% of the heavy fleet.

So exactly how is this guy manipulating oil prices? I keep asking this question and keep getting the same answer... nothing. If one claims that the price of oil is being manipulated it would behoove them to explain exactly how it is being done, else they are making nothing but hollow accusations.

Ron P.

What is the meaning of this BDTI?

The BDTI along with the Baldtic Clean Tanker Index are an index of what tankers are charging to deliver oil. The more tankers and/or less oil to deliver causes the index to go down. A very low number means either a glut of tankers or a dearth of oil to ship. Both indexes are very low right now meaning one or the other.

Ron P.

The Baltic Dirty Tanker Index is simply the rates charged to lease tankers used for shipping crude oil.
The Baltic Dry Index is lease rates for pretty much all other bulk commodities; coal, iron ore, corn, what have you.
So, if rates are high, the implication is that all available tankers are committed to routes; low rates indicate the opposite, more idle ships sitting at anchorage.

As I was mouse-wheel scrolling past the headlines relatively quickly, a screen glitch/optical illusion briefly merged two vertically adjacent headlines to read this:

Forget Peak Oil: Cyclists bare all for World Naked Bike Ride

Anyway, what do you guys make of this:

It breaks no physical laws. The device is just a way to change energy to entropy, IE heating up water by means of friction. Good for you if you have a source of mechanical energy, say a water wheel, and need hot water.

If you come up with a way to reverese the process you have a Nobel price and loads of buissiness oportunities ahead of you.

Thanks for all the great replies, guys, as well as the vote of confidence on the device and bonus stirling engine, which I have vague recollections hearing about.

Useful when you have kinetic energy and want heat, for instance: using an old-fashioned (non-electric) windmill to heat a room or water.

Another interesting Rube Goldberg invention for turning kinetic energy or shaft horsepower back into low grade heat. Maybe some people would like to use this as a bicycle pedal powered heater, instead of pedaling a bicycle generator.

A more useful invention would be a more efficient way to turn low grade heat into shaft horsepower.

A more useful invention would be a more efficient way to turn low grade heat into shaft horsepower.

Sorry, in this universe we obey the laws of thermodynamics.

Now wait a minute. If T_hot > T_cold then you can extract energy. That is all you need to know. Low grade heat is used all the time to heat water or As proposed on the top article cool NG to liquify it.

Carnot stated this thermodynamic fact long ago. And he was right.

Thats true. Maximum efficiency possible (work out/heat in) is (Thot-Tcold)/Thot. So you can get some of it back, the rest is a contribution to increasing entropy. There is a lot of research trying to find ways to extract some of that potential. Heat engines, and thermoelctrics come to mind. You can probably only get a few percent out as usable work, but if you could it is a useful incremental bump to overall efficiency.

With you there, Oct,

All you need to extract that energy is one of these;

Runs off the heat of your hand!

You can buy one today from The American Stirling Company

So we are halfway there - an invention - but not useful. But amazing to behold, as the company says, it is like "magic"

So you need a heat gradient. Or in other words a heat source. This is another way to build a solar panel. Conect those things to an electric generator and aim them towards the sun. Any idea how it performs compared to PV?

Not really.

As appealing as the Stirling engine is, all efforts to apply it to commercial electricity production have been an economic failure.

It is not just the high cost of concentrators etc, it is the high cost of the engine itself. People are working on this (have been for decades) , but there is nothing you or I can buy yet.

Even in applications where the waste heat is free, it struggles to be economic.

A more practical system for large amounts of low grade heat is like this - input hot water is 165F - just a little more than your domestic hot water;


A few days ago there was a link to an article by Kris DeDecker about the low efficiency of bicycle powered generators. As I recall, he was lamenting the low energy conversion efficiency from pedal power to electricity, which was something like 20 to 30%. With this “rotary mechanical heating device”, you can get 100% conversion of pedal power (shaft horsepower) to heat, without having to deal with any of that pesky electricity.

Well, even with the devices Kris was referring to, anything that does not end up as electricity becomes heat anyway - in addition to the heat generated by the rider themselves.

It is an odd discussion, as there are not many places where we have an excess of shaft power that we don;t know what to do with.

Wind turbines come to mind, and they have already turned it into electricity, which we then, sometimes, don;t know what to do with.


Japan finally to admit nuclear ‘melt-throughs’ to UN

Japan will for the first time report to the UN nuclear watchdog that fuel in its crippled Fukushima plant may have melted through the bottoms of three reactor core vessels, a news report said Tuesday.

That headline makes it sound like they new about the problem since it happened and are only now admitting to it.

More likely is that they are being transparent, we are finding out about this stuff pretty close to when they do, and it takes a week or so to draw up a formal report.

But of course, that would mean that TEPCO is merely limited rather than corrupt.

With home prices still on the decline...

Walk away from your mortgage? Time to get 'ruthless'

Jon Maddux, CEO of YouWalkAway.com, reports 10% more clients this year to his company, which advises people how best to handle the walk away process.

Charles Gallagher, a real estate attorney in St. Petersburg, Fla., has also seen an uptick.
And a recent survey by home finance company Fannie Mae found that while only about 27% of homeowners would even consider walking away, that's up from 15% last year.

In an early 2010 report, Morgan Stanley (MS, Fortune 500) researchers said nearly 200,000 defaults in the prior year were voluntary, or roughly 12% of the total. The bank expects to issue updated estimates in coming weeks.

Well, at least foreclosure is cutting both ways.

"Homeowner Foreclosures on Bank of America"


UPDATE 1-Iraq may cut oil output capacity goal -minister

"For example, instead of producing 12 million bpd for 7 years, we can produce 8 million bpd for 13 or 14 years."

Slowly, very slowly, reality is coming into focus for Iraq. But they still have a ways to go yet.

Ron P.

Or maybe 5 million bpd for 26 if they could find some more.

12 million barrel/day * 365 days/year * 7 years = 30.7 billion barrel
8 million barrel/day * 365 days/year * 13.5 years = 39.4 billion barrel

Forget Peak Oil, it is centuries in the future, or even millenna.

Peak Oil Vs. Peak Renewables

The arguments for converting the U.S. economy to wind, solar and biomass energy have collapsed. The date of depletion of fossil fuels has been pushed back into the future by centuries -- or millennia.

Well okay, fossil fuel depletion has been pushed back for millennia, peak oil has only by a few hundred years I suppose. But the news is still bad, we will hit peak renewables long before we hit peak oil. The very long Age of Fossil Fuels has only just begun!

Conclusion: Eventually civilization may well run out of natural gas and other fossil fuels that are recoverable at a reasonable cost, and may be forced to switch permanently to other sources of energy. These are more likely to be nuclear fission or nuclear fusion than solar or wind power, which will be as weak, diffuse and intermittent a thousand years from now as they are today.

But that is a problem for the inhabitants of the world of 2500 or 3000 A.D.In the meantime, it appears that the prophets of an age of renewable energy following Peak Oil got things backwards. We may be living in the era of Peak Renewables, which will be followed by a very long Age of Fossil Fuels that has only just begun."

Ron P.

Under this scenario, there may be some inhabitants 2500 yrs from now but I doubt they will be human. Begin the IPCC worst case scenario starting now.

Begin the IPCC worst case scenario starting now.

Actually if we had that much burnable stuff, it would be so far beyond anything in the IPCC report as to be completely laughable.

About The Author - Dr. Mark J. Perry is a professor of economics and finance in the School of Management at the University of Michigan, and he blogs at Carpe Diem.

Lions and tigers and bears. Oh my!

What if fear, uncertainty and doubt no longer work?

Oh my!

What if economists and finance manipulators are "completely wrong"?

Oh my!

What if physics, chemistry and mathematics actually are true?

One shudders even in trying to think of the possibility.

Here is another dead-on-point article by the good doctor:

Basic economic theory tells us that one of the predictable consequences of resources becoming more expensive is that higher prices will stimulate discovery, exploration and greater production on the supply side. And that's exactly what we're seeing now in Texas for oil and gas


'Once the Lion has actually started to bite your backside, you simply put on a new burst of speed, since that is what's required..'

... since that is what's required at the moment ...' (economically speaking of course)


HP welds data center containers into EcoPODs

Hewlett-Packard is still one of the big believers in containerized data centers, and the reason is simple: A select number of customers who are focused on power efficiency, speed of deployment, or both pay HP money to weld these things together and slap a coat of paint on them.
Because of the efficiency of cooling in the POD 240a and the use of outside air cooling, a 1.2 megawatt configuration of the POD would cost about $552,000 a year to operate. This compares to $15.4m with a brick-and-mortar data center using chillers.

New Nuclear Costs As Much As German Solar


"Nevertheless, the CEC in its most recent Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) examined the cost of electricity from 21 different central-station generation technologies. Such studies, say the CEC, are useful for comparing the relative costs between technologies. The actual cost of electricity to consumers can be quite different from these hypothetical studies.
The detailed study considered three forms of ownership: Merchant Plant, Investor-Owned Utility (IOU), and Publicly-Owned Utility (POU). Merchant plants are built to serve de-regulated markets and assume a high degree of market risk. They may not be able to sell all their electricity at any one time if their price is too high. Investor-Owned Utilities are the traditional private companies serving a regulated market. In California, Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison are IOUs. Publicly-Owned Utilities are municipal utilities, like SMUD. Publicly-Owned utilities pay fewer taxes and have access to lower cost financing than either IOUs or merchant plants.
The 186-page report, 2010 Comparative Costs of California Central Station Electricity Generation, found that a 1,000 MW Pressurized Water Reactor would generate electricity in 2018 from as little as $0.17/kWh to as much as $0.34/kWh.
The results of the CEC study are startling. Most renewable technologies today, even solar photovoltaics (solar PV), generate electricity for less than nuclear power in 2018. Only a municipal utility could generate nuclear electricity for less cost than than that of solar PV."

Nukes are not cheap. Check out Japan as they continue to lie about their too big to fail project. I am all for nukes if they do not need to be lied for. Once you have to resort to lying all bets are off. Honesty and nuclear are like fire and ice. The seaweed is getting real green in Japan.

You know, if they were busy lieing about their project, would we know that there was a meltdown yet?

TEPCO and the Japanese government are releasing all this bad news, and the fact that people guessed that it was this bad in the week after it happened doesn't change that. People also guessed that there had been a nuclear explosion at the site.

Frankly, given the realities of the situation, I'm not sure that anyone could have handled it better than has been done so far.

I realize this isn't good enough for many people, but in life you have to get used to disappointment. Nothing ever happens as fast or as well as we want it to.


'Crude Oil Futures Rise Amid Concern That OPEC Spare Capacity Will Tighten'

Oil edged higher in New York and surged the most in almost two weeks in London amid speculation that an increase in OPEC production quotas will reduce spare capacity and cause tight supplies when demand rebounds.

Isn't it interesting how an increase in price of oil is tied to higher output because that will reduce spare capacity, when not long ago KSA was assuring the world of their 4.5 mbd of spare capacity. Seems like investors are not buying those numbers any longer, or at least are hedging in the direction of lower spare capacity.


At the above link the price of Brent went up 2.30 while WTI dropped 8 cents. Two bucks thirty is a good sized increase for one day, and we will see how this concern over OPEC spare capacity plays out in oil price over the near and long term.

WTI closed up 8 cents at $99.09 while Brent went up $2.66 to $116.68. That brings the spread now to $17.59. Bloomberg Energy Prices

Ron P.

Most oils are over $110. WTI is way out of line. Argus Sour Crude Index for July 11 is over $111.


Saudi Arabia's output this year has been one big haze. Nobody have been able to track it well, neither any of the commenters here nor the major organisations. We all just recently read that they are going up over 200 000 bpd in May and another 200 000 bpd in June. Saudi Arabias production in November-April is still in a giant fog. According to themselves they began increasing near 9 mbpd already at the end of the year but none of this showed for months and months.

The fact remains that nobody in the public domain who has acess to public data, even data from EIA/IEA etc really knows how much oil is being producted right now. Nobody(although we can get some decent estimates, 500 000 bpd up or down will remain a grayzone).

But as you say, it's interesting that as oil production is increased, price actually goes up.
This is completely counter to standard economics of supply and demand, but it's a reflection that the market is slowly starting to understand the fundamental realities.

Morgan Stanley predicts Brent prices upwards of $130 at the most in Q3 of this year.

Now we all know from experience that the Saudis have not gone higher than about 9.1 mbpd in recent history for any longer duration of time(this is especially true of late). Ergo, if Saudi Arabia is maxing out already, who will be there in August, September, October and so forth?

This reminds me of Rune Likvern's interesting post from 2010 here:
OPEC's Spare Crude Oil Capacity - Will it Disappear by the End of 2011?

Ya all remember the promo material about Bohpol?
(Hey! Union Carbine! You've been beaten out for 'Worst Industrial Disaster'! Congrats! And TODers - the link mentions oil production dumping BTW)

Well, here's some promo material for TEPCO
Enjoy! (for certain values of enjoy :-( )

(I've seen how Reactor 4 is known to be flawed and fixes applied. I've also noted that reactors 1 2 and 3 are now known to have melted down. What I've not seen is data that 1/2/3 were flawed in the same way as 4 and the fixes applied to 4 is what prevented its meltdown - wouldn't that be just a fine toxic icing on the fission-failure cake of peril?)

Four has the fuel removed before the earthquake. It is wrong to call four a reactor, it is a spent fuel rod pool.

I was under the impression 4 still had the fuel rods but had full moderating rod insertion and had cooled down a bit.

But the story keeps changing - sometimes showing there was lying, other times updates after analysis.

The entire core of reactor 4 was in the spent fuel pool during reactor shroud replacement work. Multiple workers were working near the fuel pool at the time of the quake and have described water flooding out of the pool at 4 during the quake. There has been speculation that a pneumatic seal and open fuel transfer path (because of maintenance) between reactor and pool was a weak point.

API reports sharp fall in US oil inventories

Lead mostly by problems in the Keystone Pipeline system, the API reports a significant drop in US daily imports, that contributed to the fall in oil inventories. Also another factor in the decline was that refinery utilization nationwide picked up, although there were still some refinery operational problems in the upper Midwest, New Jersey, and Texas (hit by yet more storms).

It is not clear if the shutdown of the Keystone system, which runs through North Dakota, lead to a shortage of oil there a few days ago.

US crude inventories tumble as imports fall-API
Tue Jun 7, 2011 8:59pm GMT

Domestic crude stocks slipped 5.5 million barrels in the week ended June 3, according to the report, compared with analysts' forecast of a drop of 300,000 barrels, on average.

The decline came as imports fell 1.2 million to 8.75 million barrels per day. During the week, the 591,000-bpd Keystone pipeline system, which carries Canadian crude to the U.S. Midwest, was shut due to a leak. It was restarted over the weekend.


Map and facts about the Keystone Pipeline System:


Oil patch roads reopen for business

By LAUREN DONOVAN Bismarck Tribune | Posted: Tuesday, June 7, 2011 6:00 am

Williams County shut down the oil patch last week and reopened it Monday, partly because crude oil supplies were becoming strained at the Tesoro Refinery at Mandan.

"When we were told the refinery was running out of crude, that's a significant thing," he said. Kalil said he verified that through his own contacts and was convinced of the potential hardship.


Not sure if anyone posted this story yet regarding Iraq:


Apparently even Iraq's oil ministry is doubting their own production goals of 12-13 mb/d in 6 years.

The new plan according to the article brings the production goal down to a much more realistic 8 mb/d in 13 years instead of 7 years.

With the oil companies getting less revenue than expected, they might demand higher remuneration fees to cover their losses. An intersting story to coninue following.

Some pics from Albuquerque showing the lovely yellow-orange sky caused by the AZ wildfires.


Kind of looks like artist renditions of what the sky on Venus may look like.

Had some ash on my car this morning...200+ miles from the fires.

I looked at the satellite weather shot this afternoon. Pretty impressive plume. Looked like SantaFe was getting the worst of it.
Here in the Bay area, it isn't rare to get general smokelayers during fire season (delayed by a record rainfall this weekend). But the smoke generally stays up at four thousand feet or more, so it looks ugly, but doesn't get too much into your lungs/eyes.
I remember a week in Wisconsin where we could barely see the sun. The fires were over a thousand miles away in Canada. Maybe this smoke will put an end to the record heat in the upper midwest?

Several years ago I felt the smell of fire in the air, and wondered what forest was ablaze. This was in south Sweden. I got the answear on the TV news: Ukraine. Those winds can cary the smoke far away.

The smoke descends every night...likely due to the decrease in solar heating of the air I suppose.

The density comes and goes...densest parts sometimes over Santa Fe, sometimes over Albuquerque.

This allows me to envision the 'nuclear winter' scenarios better....

Two afternoons ago it was really bad...with some more ashfall it would start to resemble the scenes in The Road.

We had a really weird dull orange sunset even when the sun was still quite far up in the sky here in Minneapolis, and then I heard that the smoke had drifted as far as southern MN. That's some long distance drift!

Could the U.S> follow Germany in abandoning nuclear power?