Drumbeat: June 24, 2011

Loss of Libya oil bigger disruption than Katrina-IEA

(Reuters) - The loss of Libyan oil output since February represented a greater disruption to global oil supply than the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Richard Jones, the deputy head of the International Energy Agency, told Reuters Insider TV.

Jones, speaking in Reuters' Paris bureau, said that the initial disruption to oil output in Libya happened at a "fortuitous" time for European oil refiners as many were closed for maintenance.

"Now we're going into the summer driving season, those refineries which have returned to operation are about to ramp up their production."

House defeats Libya authorization measure

WASHINGTON — The House on Friday resoundingly defeated a resolution that would have given President Barack Obama limited authority to continue the American involvement in Libya in the NATO-led operation against Moammar Gadhafi's forces.

Just 123 members of the House voted for the authorization measure, while 295 voted against it. The congressional action has no immediate effect on American involvement but represents a repudiation of the commander in chief.

Cracking the Permian to provide oil supplies for future

While oil patches from the Bakken shale to the Eagle Ford have been getting a lot of attention in recent years, the oil industry is focussed increasingly on one of the oldest and richest basins in the country – the Permian Basin. Permian formations have long trapped hydrocarbons in shale and other tight sands and rock in what was formerly the Permian Sea, an area of what is now 110-degree-heat desert that stretches 100,000 square miles across West Texas and Southeastern New Mexico.

Norway looks to state oil firm to slow output slide

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's government wants to extend oil production in aging fields by empowering state firm Petoro to keep its commercial partners from moving on too soon, it said in a parliamentary report the opposition called "tame".

"The government wants to pave to way for a clear effort by the industry to maintain production at a very high level for generations to come," the government said on Friday in its first white paper on oil policy in seven years.

White House Secret Delegation To Saudi Arabia Paved Way For Oil Move

President Barack Obama sent a delegation of high-ranking advisers in secret to Saudi Arabia to pave the way for Thursday's surprise release of oil from strategic reserves, administration officials said.

Mr. Obama and his top economic and national security advisers began discussing how to cope with the economic impact of higher oil prices in late January, as U.S. gasoline prices began rising above $3 a gallon for the first time since 2008. White House officials became more concerned after civil unrest in Libya disrupted oil shipments from the North African nation in late February.

Fracking Gold Rush Lifts Halliburton Prices as Backlog Swells

Halliburton Co. and Schlumberger Ltd. may have the power to charge higher prices for their oilfield services through 2012 thanks to a backlog of unfinished oil and natural-gas wells that tripled in the past year.

Panel Rules Out Possibility of Selling Off Tepco

TOKYO -(Dow Jones)- An independent panel of experts looking into the restructuring of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501.TO) on Friday ruled out the possibility of selling off the entire company to a third party, amid speculation that a sharp drop in the utility's share price has made the company an attractive take-over target.

"The panel is not considering a sale of the whole company, not now and not in the future," said Kazuhiko Shimokobe, chairman of the five-member panel and a bankruptcy lawyer, in a news briefing.

'Cars 2' fuels energy debate with green theme

LOS ANGELES — Even the animated world of Lightning McQueen and Mater the tow truck is testing new energy sources to replace fossil fuels.

Pixar Animation mastermind John Lasseter says the company has no environmental agenda, but with "Cars 2," the blockbuster outfit does tap into today's eco-mindedness with a plot driven by oil vs. a cleaner alternative.

Calif. 'dust-bowl': Real danger or a mirage?

FRESNO, Calif. — Drive on Highway 99 or Interstate 5 between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and you will see plastic banners scattered among wine tasting ads and billboards hawking the latest pesticide.

"Man-made drought," the banners draped across fences and cotton trailers proclaim in large, bold letters.

"Congress-created dust bowl" and "Food grows where water flows."

The signs in the Central Valley, which provides many of the nation's fruits and vegetables, are a reminder of California's decades-old water war, a conflict stemming from large numbers of people living and farming in areas where the resource is scarce.

Asia joins global move to tap oil reserves

TOKYO — Asian nations moved to release emergency oil stockpiles on Friday as part of a rare global coordinated action by consumer countries to prevent high energy prices from stunting a stuttering economic recovery.

The move, led by Washington and criticized by the oil industry as an unnecessary distortion of markets, suggests a fundamental shift on the part of industrialized nations toward intervention in commodity markets as an economic policy tool.

Crude Oil Futures Decline on Slowing U.S. Consumption, IEA Reserve Release

Oil fell, extending its biggest one- day drop in seven weeks in London, on concern slowing U.S. economic growth will reduce demand and after the International Energy Agency said its members will sell oil from reserves.

Brent dropped as much as 1.5 percent, extending yesterday’s 6.1 percent decline, after the International Energy Agency agreed to release 60 million barrels to buyers starting next week. The U.S. Federal Reserve this week cut its forecasts for growth and employment this year and next.

“There are clear signs that the U.S. and Chinese economies are slowing,” Roland Stenzel, an oil trader at E&T Energie Handelsgesellschaft mbH, said from Vienna. “The IEA triggered a lot of stop losses,” he said, referring to the automatic instruction to buy or sell a commodity at a certain level.

Goldmans and JP Morgan cut oil forecasts after IEA surprise

JP Morgan cut its average forecast for Brent crude to $100 a barrel in the third quarter, down from its previous projection of $130.

Goldmans, the commodities uber-bull and one of the most influential investment banks when it comes to commodities investing, downgraded its expectation for Brent far less. It cut its third quarter forecast to $105 to $107 a barrel, a pull back it expects by the end of July.

Gas price drop from tapping oil reserves could be weeks away

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Boosting the nation's oil supply could lower gas prices as much as 50 cents a gallon, but relief at the pump is still weeks away.

Tesco petrol price cut prompts rivals to follow suit

Tesco cuts 3p from a litre of petrol and diesel after move to open up emergency reserves by the International Energy Agency.

Instant view: IEA to release 60 million bbls oil from reserves

"It could be a signal of the overall the level of concern about a slower global economy. We're seeing the euro pare some losses, but in the long run, if anything, lower oil prices should be a euro negative, as it has been energy and food prices driving euro zone inflation. This may be a knee-jerk, risk-positive reaction."

Obama takes flak for tapping emergency oil reserves

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama took withering fire from the oil industry and Republicans for agreeing to release the nation's emergency oil supplies, a decision that senior officials said was prompted by the need to prop up the ailing economy.

Critics blasted the release of 30 million barrels of oil -- half of a global injection coordinated by the International Energy Agency -- as an ill-timed misuse of reserves at a time when U.S. supplies are relatively high, despite the loss of Libya's exports for the past three months.

‘Head-Scratcher’ IEA Petroleum Release to Inflate U.S. Crude Supply Glut

Oil producers tumbled the most in more than a year after the U.S. government announced plans to pour as much as 1 million barrels of stockpiled crude a day into an already-glutted market.

More than political interest behind IEA move

Does the International Energy Agency know something that the market ignores?

The release of the strategic petroleum reserve is prompting questions in the market. True, Libya oil production is out-of-action; refineries are demanding more oil as we move into the second half of the year, and high oil prices are affecting economic growth. All of that is plainly evident to the market. Yet, it appears that there is something more.

Business group slams Obama over oil release

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Washington's most powerful business lobby panned the Obama administration's decision to tap the nation's strategic oil reserve Thursday, calling the move "ill-advised."

"Our reserve is intended to address true emergencies, not politically inconvenient high prices," Karen Harbert, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Energy Institute, said in a statement.

Obama Faulted for Tapping U.S. Petroleum Reserves by Republicans, Industry

Republicans called the Obama administration’s plan to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve a political move, while some Democrats said the effort to ease shortages may be too little, too late.

Obama voter support from oil tap could be fleeting

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama stands to win a bump in voter support for his decision to tap emergency oil reserves, but the gains from lower fuel prices run the risk of evaporating before next year's election, political experts said.

N.C. gas tax increase means more pain at pump

RALEIGH - As consumers begin paying less tax on most things purchased at retail stores next month, they'll face even more pain at the gas pump.

The state gasoline excise tax will rise by 2.5 cents per gallon to a record 35 cents starting July 1 the same day the sales tax will go down by a penny statewide.

House votes to ease rules for offshore drilling

WASHINGTON – The House has approved a bill removing a barrier to companies seeking to drill for oil in some areas offshore.

The measure was approved Wednesday by 253-166 vote. It would give the Environmental Protection Agency six months to decide on air pollution permits for offshore rigs or platforms exploring for oil. It also limits challenges to the EPA's appeals board and restricts which emissions can be evaluated.

Self-regulation the way forward for oil futures

(Reuters) - While governments and regulators dither, IntercontinentalExchange energy hub has moved ahead of the curve, with steps to boost transparency that could increase the lure of its flagship Brent contract over its U.S. rival.

China aims to find 6.5 bln T of oil reserves in 5 yrs - report

(Reuters) - China aims to discover 6.5 billion tonnes of proven domestic geological oil reserves in the coming five years, China Land and Resources News, a newspaper run by the Ministry of Land and Resources reported on Friday.

The projection assumes the discovery of an average of 1.3 billion tonnes of proven geological oil deposits per year, slightly higher than discoveries in each of the past several years.

China to cut import duty for oil products from July 1

(Reuters) - China will cut the import duty for gasoline, diesel, jet kerosene and fuel oil from July 1, the ministry of finance said on Friday.

Chinese warships cross high seas off Japan island

TOKYO – Japan's Defense Ministry said Thursday 11 Chinese warships were spotted in international waters off the country's southern island of Okinawa.

No territorial violations were claimed by Japan, but the movements are sensitive because Japan and China have a dispute over small islands in the East China Sea.

Iraq's largest oil refinery shuts down after fire

Baghdad - Production at Iraq's largest oil refinery was halted after a fire caused serious damage to the complex, sources within the company operating the refinery said Friday.

Civil defence teams brought the fire under control four hours after it started, sending thick black smoke from the facility located in Beiji, some 200 kilometres north of Baghdad.

Athabasca Oil Sands' ups reserve estimates; raises capex

(Reuters) - Canada's Athabasca Oil Sands Corp said it increased its net resource volume by 10 percent and raised its capital expense to drill more wells.

The bitumen producer will now spend $363.5 million in 2011 and expects to drill 14 wells, up from its earlier forecast of six wells, in the Deep Basin in Alberta.

Yanukovych: 'We have no conflict with Gazprom, but gas price should now be less than $200'

Ukraine is not conflicting with Russia over the gas price, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has said.

"This is not a conflict, but the difference of opinion, and we announced this immediately after coming to power," Yanukovych said in an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde, which was published on the Web site of the Ukrainian president on Friday.

Belarus to sell its gas pipelines to Russia

Belarus says it will sell its remaining stakes in its strategic natural gas pipelines to Russia's Gazprom for $2.5 billion.

The deal will help the Kremlin-controlled gas giant secure exports to Europe that have been affected by pricing disputes with Belarus and neighboring Ukraine in recent years.

Obama Says Withdrawal From Afghanistan Will Aid ‘Nation-Building at Home’

President Barack Obama, announcing a reduction of 33,000 troops in Afghanistan by September 2012, said it was “time to focus on nation-building at home” and offered a “centered course” for U.S. military engagement that he said would be rooted in pragmatism.

In a nationally televised speech, Obama sought to balance the demands of the military, which wanted to avoid a rapid withdrawal, and the sentiments of many Americans, who polls show think the war is no longer worth waging.

Ahmadinejad loses fight over oil portfolio: parliament

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's plan to merge the strategic oil ministry into an enlarged energy portfolio has been "cancelled," the official parliamentary website said on Tuesday.

"The merger of the two ministries has been cancelled and taken off the government's agenda to merge ministries," the website quoted Hossein Sobhani-Nia, a member of the parliamentary management committee, as saying.

Living conditions deteriorate as Yemen impasse deepens

SANAA (Reuters) - Clutching a textbook, Saleh al-Kawkabani struggled to concentrate on preparing for his high school exams, which in Yemen begin next week.

"In the morning, we wake up to the sound of gunfire and at night, it is scary pitch dark without electricity. And then you expect me to study?" the 18-year-old student said, sitting on the pavement near his house in the capital Sanaa.

Norway lets watchdog loose

Norway aims to raise the bar for oil and gas exploitation by giving state-owned Petoro more muscle to influence operators under a new white paper unveiled today.

Fracking and Water: E.P.A. Zeroes In on 7 Sites

The Environmental Protection Agency has chosen seven natural gas drilling sites where it will conduct case studies to evaluate the impact of hydraulic fracturing on local drinking water.

Agency issues report on Arctic offshore drilling science ‘gaps’; spill, climate data lacking

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Decision makers lack key scientific information on what effect oil and gas drilling would have in Arctic offshore waters, according to a report released Thursday that also acknowledges pro- and anti-development sides in the largely undeveloped region are unlikely to agree on what is a science “gap” and what is sufficient.

Fusion Experiment Faces New Hurdles

The $3.5 billion ignition facility, derided by some critics as taxpayer-financed science fiction, is running into new challenges that may further delay and perhaps scuttle its goal.

Among those challenges is the unanticipated presence of particles that clog filters designed to prevent the escape of radioactive material. Officials have proposed bypassing the filters for some experiments and venting radioactive particles directly into the air.

Officials say the radiation risks to people living in the surrounding area and to Lawrence Livermore researchers not involved with the experiments will be negligible. But according to a worst-case scenario outlined in a draft environmental report, an average of one worker involved in the experiments could die every 18 years from cancer caused by radiation exposure.

Expert: GA nuke plant issues not 'insurmountable'

ATLANTA - Building the country's first brand-new nuclear power plant in a generation could take longer and cost the Southern Co. more than its approved $6.1 billion budget, but the problems "are not insurmountable," an independent monitor testified Thursday.

Futuristic U.S. Power Reactor May Be Developed Overseas

The TerraPower "wave reactor" concept is backed by Microsoft's Bill Gates, is endorsed by Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman Jr. and has gotten a receptive ear from President Obama's Energy Department.

First Japanese robot enters damaged nuclear reactor at Japan plant

Tokyo - A Japanese robot was sent Friday into a damaged rector building for the first time to reduce the radiation exposure of workers, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said.

The unmanned robot 'Quince' developed by a team of researchers at Chiba Institute of Technology entered the building of reactor 2 at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station to install equipment to measure water levels inside.

IAEA to End Fukushima Meeting Without Agreeing on New Nuclear Safety Rules

The United Nations atomic agency missed a chance to strengthen international nuclear safety today when delegates concluded a meeting on Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi reactor meltdowns without implementing new policies.

Is Fukushima a Roadblock, or Just a Speed Bump?

Three months after the Fukushima Daiichi accident in Japan, energy experts are moving past analyzing the accident itself and trying to divine what it means for the future of nuclear power. Three experts from Platts, the energy newsletter publishing company, suggested on Thursday that it might be minimal. The three spoke in a webinar sponsored by Westinghouse, the reactor manufacturer.

Ford Steps on the Gas in Asia

Alan Mulally is planning on a 50 percent production boost, and that depends largely on expansion in China and India.

Hybrid cars' share of sales stalls

Despite months of high gas prices, a bevy of new fuel-stingy cars with conventional gas engines may be eating into sales of pricier gas-electric hybrids.

Sales of high-mileage, high-value conventional compacts such as the Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze are hot, while hybrid sales have stagnated.

Sports car buyers cite fuel economy as top factor for first time

For the first time, sports car buyers say they are taking fuel economy into consideration as one of the top 10 factors in deciding on a vehicle, a new annual survey says.

That's just one of the surprising findings in the the New Vehicle Customer Study from Maritz Research, which has been conducted for more than 30 years.

Build bike paths and the people will ride

''On the weekends it's not bad out here because the trucks are off the road. But it's a chicken and the egg situation: people would like to cycle, but the first thing they say is 'It's not safe'. What comes first, the infrastructure or the cycling?''

A new survey appears to show it's the infrastructure.

Five Ethanol Myths, Busted

We must develop a multitude of alternatives to address our future energy needs. One such alternative is ethanol, which is domestically generated and sustainable. However, there are many myths surrounding ethanol, and I’ve come across a lot of them in my work at Argonne National Laboratory. I’m a mechanical engineer in the lab’s Transportation Technology R&D Center, so I’ve spent a lot of time researching ethanol.

Here are counterpoints to five prevalent myths about ethanol.

Spring deadline lapses, still no solar panels on White House

WASHINGTON — Last October, the Obama administration announced plans to install solar panels on the roof of the White House by the spring of this year, returning the power of the sun to the pinnacle of prominence a quarter-century after Jimmy Carter's pioneering system was taken down.

Spring has come and gone, and the promised panels have yet to see the light of day.

Can North Africa Light Up Europe With Concentrated Solar Power?

HAMBURG, Germany -- Twenty-five years after Gerhard Knies conceived of powering Europe with the Sahara Desert's sun, the North Africa Solar project has grown into something considerably more than a mere mirage, but it's still less than a reality.

Chile court blocks giant Patagonia dam project

SANTIAGO (AFP) – A Chilean court ordered the suspension of a project to build a complex of giant hydroelectric dams in the Patagonian wilderness, bowing to appeals by lawmakers and environmental groups.

The appeals court in the southern port city of Puerto Montt ordered a stay "which means the project is paralyzed until the essence of the matter is resolved," the judiciary said in a statement.

Middle East's Push Toward Renewable Energy Spurred by Rising Oil Prices

There's a revolution sweeping the Middle East that has nothing to do with street uprisings or Twitter protests. It's a clean energy upheaval with international implications that could transform the Arab world from North Africa to the Persian Gulf.

Solar plants are cropping up in Jordan and Morocco. Wind farms are being built in Egypt and Tunisia. Eight Arab nations and the Palestinian territories have a renewable energy target, and at least five more are taking serious steps to promote the domestic use of clean energy. Some of the most surprising movement is happening in oil-rich countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Budget amendment would repeal increase to Focus on Energy funding

Eau Claire (WQOW) - The state budget has sparked debate surrounding an energy efficiency program.

This week, dozens of businesses across the state sent a letter to the governor asking him to veto a measure that scales back funding for Focus on Energy. Focus on Energy is a program that promotes energy efficiency.

Albany Mulls Altering Way State Permits Power Plants

Utility customers would be able to pay off the cost of making their homes more energy efficient through charges on their monthly electric bills and the process of getting permits for new power plants would be streamlined under a bill that state lawmakers in Albany were expected to pass on Wednesday night.

Ecological Reality Is Not What You Hypothesize

This year, in The Wealth of Nature: Economics as if Survival Mattered (New Society 2011), John Michael Greer, his own understanding of the interconnectedness of all things within the earth ecosystem firmly in place, asks mainstream, neo-classical economists to take the same journey—to get out in the real world and base their economic theories on what they find, rather than on what the mathematics say they ought to find. In particular, he points out that current economic theory and policy is only exacerbating our headlong trajectory into “Nature’s brick wall.”

John Michael Greer: Santa isn't bringing gigawatts

Through the clouds of wishful thinking that too often make up what we are pleased to call a collective conversation on the subject of energy, a ray of common sense occasionally shines through. This week’s ray came by way of a study on the Earth’s thermodynamic balance, soon to be released in no less a scientific publication than the Proceedings of the Royal Society. The study found among other things that there’s a fairly modest upper limit to the amount of energy that wind farms can extract from the atmosphere without changing the climate.

So far, at least, the peak oil blogosphere hasn’t responded to this study at all. That’s not surprising, since the idea that renewable energy resources might also be subject to environmental limits is about as welcome in most alternative circles these days as a slug in a garden salad. These days, for many people who consider themselves environmentally conscious, a vision of giant wind turbines in serried ranks as far as the eye can see fills a pivotal emotional need; it allows them to pretend, at least to themselves, that it’s possible to support today’s extravagant lifestyles on renewable energy – to have our planet, one might say, and eat it too.

Technocracy’s Endgame: Global Smart Grid

The dark horse of the New World Order is not Communism, Socialism or Fascism: It is Technocracy.

Does life online give you 'popcorn brain'?

Clifford Nass, a social psychologist at Stanford, says studies show multitasking on the Internet can make you forget how to read human emotions. When he showed online multitaskers pictures of faces, they had a hard time identifying the emotions they were showing.

When he read stories to the multitaskers, they had difficulty identifying the emotions of the people in the stories, and saying what they would do to make the person feel better.

"Human interaction is a learned skill, and they don't get to practice it enough," he says.

Thieves steal copper ground wire, cut power to 3,800 homes

Modest New Steps on the Food Supply

The global food crisis is getting a fresh round of high-level attention. At their first-ever summit meeting on Thursday, agriculture ministers for the Group of 20 major economies agreed on an action plan to tackle food supply problems as well as high and volatile prices for major commodities.

Perhaps the most significant element will be the creation of a new information system designed to shine a brighter light on global grain flows and reserves. In the past some countries, notably China and India, have treated this kind of information as state secrets. Both traders and scientists have long complained about the lack of reliable global statistics, especially regarding stockpiles.

Our oil-dependent culture is sleepwalking into the future

What is agriculture going to look like 30 years from now? Probably a lot like agriculture 130 years ago.

Gillard Stares Down ‘Electoral Annihilation’ With Carbon Tax

A year after ousting her predecessor, Prime Minister Julia Gillard is counting on the same political skills she used then to hold her party together as she pushes a climate-change plan opposed by 60 percent of Australian voters.

With the least-liked government in almost four decades and the lowest personal popularity in 13 years, Gillard is wooing legislators across Australia for the package.

Mexico’s $8 Billion Power Projects May Cut California Emissions

Mexico expects foreign investment in renewable energy to almost triple this year to $8 billion, helping U.S. states such as California to slash carbon emissions, said the head of the Latin American nation’s investment promotions agency.

A Region With Big Climate Vulnerability and Bigger Distractions

Climate change may be the last thing that leaders of revolution-riddled countries in the Middle East want to deal with now. But before long, experts say, the problems caused by rising global temperatures could disfigure the land they are fighting over.

From disappearing snow in Lebanon to rising seas threatening Bahrain to flooding in Tunisia and Egypt, climate change already is giving the Middle East and North Africa a good deal to worry about. And those who work in the region note that governments -- struggling to maintain power and in some cases engaging in all-out warfare with their citizens -- are losing valuable time needed to adapt.

With all the buzz ttoday about the release of oil from the SPR, I wonder what will happen to the price or propane, which is running about 50% above last summer's price on the spot market. The spot price appears to track the price of oil, as seen in the historical EIA data...

E. Swanson

One of the NYC radio Stations had a talk about this IEA action and explained that the IEA was the "International Emergency Administration" Oh Great, now I bet that some people will think that there is a secret society (?of super heroes?) that is out looking out for us and our well-being.

Oh Joy, joy, Happy Joy, we'll always have someone keeping our fuel tank fulll.

It would seem like propane price would not be too much affected. I was thinking its big source would be Natural Gas Liquids, and those have been rising. It would seem like the crude oil that was extracted from one source, and put in the SPR, wouldn't have much propane in it.

Am I understanding things correctly?

As I understand it, most propane is produced from the mix of natural gas liquids. But, the price of natural gas has been rather low in recent months, while the price of oil has climbed beyond $100 a barrel and propane prices appear to have followed oil prices, not NG prices. In addition, propane was in rather short supply over the Winter. The difference in the markets was the reason for my question...

E. Swanson

I read that in the U.S. the natural gas/crude source mix is 60/40. 90% is produced domestically.

I attended one of several public meetings this week, organized by a new initiative in the Chicago Department of Transportation called The Chicago Pedestrian Plan.

Topics on the agenda included development, infrastructure maintenance, traffic control, transit and pedestrian safety. Ideas were solicited from the public with regard to dangerous street crossings, need for signage, driver education, narrow sidewalks and lack of streetscaping, and other impediments to more walkable neighborhoods.

Funding has apparently been received via a Federal grant to enable improvements to be made. I hope someone really makes this happen in a serious way.

The Alderman in my ward, whom I happen to know from previous initiatives, is now leading the team to improve pedestrian accessibility. We can hope.

Edit : unless someone decides funding should be terminated because we shouldn't really be walking at all. /sarc.

Fukushima Prefecture to fit all 280,000 infants and school children with radiation monitoring badges

There they go. Dr. Shunichi Yamashita must be thrilled for the prospect of a research of a lifetime! Fukushima Prefecture decided to fit ALL kindergarteners, elementary school and junior high school children in Fukushima Prefecture, 280,000 of them, with what NHK World called "dosimeters" to monitor the radiation level as experienced by these small and young children.

USA to export Liquified Natural Gas - 20 Year Contract

DoE permission to export 2.2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) from Sabine Pass for 20 years.



They are a long way from actually exporting the gas. I am not aware of them actually having a customer, or funding, and just recently there was an uproar regarding their proposed pricing scheme. I have my bets on another specific company exporting before Sabine liquefaction ever sees the light of day.

This is very good news.
The US has lots of coal and natural gas.
We should be sending out our FF to our environmentally responsible friends in Europe and Japan who are adopting greener technologies(not Chindia).
We are so rich in renewable energy of all kinds we should be putting our effort into using them.
I call this the Reverse Exportland Model™. ;-)

One small problem is that the US is still a sizable net natural gas importer, and our net imports increased in 2010, versus 2009.

We are a small net exporter of coal, although on a tonnage basis we we actually briefly slipped into net importer status a few years ago.

DoE permission to export 2.2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) from Sabine Pass for 20 years.

Well, there goes your childrens and grandchildrens energy supply. But just think how much money they can make TODAY. I have the feeling that future generations, while freezing in the dark, are not going to have much good to say about our current generation?

If several facilities get their way, there's the potential for much more than 2.2 Bcf/day export to occur.

It may suprise you to know that some people very high up in these organizations think it's absolutely blasphemous for the US to be exporting Natural Gas while at the same time importing millions of bbls of oil. Unfortunately, as they'll tell you in the next breath, unless the government gets its act together with an energy plan that includes increased use of natural gas, somebody is going to sell (export) that gas to the highest bidder in order to generate revenue.

Ahh, what the NG companies really need is a http://www.sbr.gov.bc.ca/documents_library/notices/British_Columbia_Carbon_Tax.pdf">carbon tax

That would do several things;
1. make NG fuel cheaper compared to coal
2. support the building of wind turbines - which invariably leads to more NG turbines as backup/peaking plants
3. raise the price of gasoline a bit more, which encourages switching to lower carbon alternatives like CNG

Problem solved!

LNG exports of 2.2 Bcf/d made me laugh out loud.
Sempra Energy, owner of San Diego Gas and Electric spent $1.2 billion to construct a LNG terminal in Baja California, Mexico with a 1 Bcf/day capacity. Baja is a relatively undeveloped, isolated and sparsely populated part of Mexico.
The goal is to construct power plants in an area with few environmental or regulatory laws and send the energy north to California and SDG&E's under-construction Southwest Powerlink transmission line.

"LNG The North American Solution"
First LNG receipt terminal on the West Coast of North America.
Between Rosarito and Ensenada in northwestern Mexico.
The terminal is capable of processing 1.0 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas, with room for expansion.
Owned 100 percent by Sempra Energy; represents a capital investment of about US$1.2 billion in Baja California (including pipelines).
Two full-containment storage tanks (2 x 160,000 cubic meters); one ship berth with separate breakwater.
Fully permitted; capacity fully contracted.
Construction began in January 2005.
Commercial operations began in May 2008.

The Sunrise Powerlink:
SDG&E sought to blunt the economic arguments by pitching Sunrise as a "green" investment as it would stimulate renewable power development. This was, in fact, the basis for the regulatory approval. Inexplicably, regulators did not require that the line be used to import renewable power. Because of the financial crisis, dropping prices in photovoltaics, and the collapse of the wind industry, it is unlikely that the renewable power in the Imperial Valley will materialize in the timeline envisioned by SDG&E.

I'm looking at the amount of barrels that were blocked out by this Libyan "affair" and the amount of barrels that the IEA released yesterday ... and if so little fluid can affect the market so much... I think that we're pretty close to the market's "last straw" that's being thrown onto the camel's back.

There's not much leeway to this situation anymore.

As I alluded to yesterday, here is what I find confusing. The vast majority of people, including so called expert analysts of oil markets, and adminstration officials, believe or purport to believe that a significant cause for the run up in oil and gas prices is due to the power of the speculators. Speculators, it is apparently believed, have this magical ability to levitate the markets regardless of the supply and demand situation. Saudi, of course, pushes this meme incessantly and Obama has even explicitly stated that speculators have a big impact.

And yet, these releases from the SPR are intended to bring down oil and gas prices to the extent that they can have a significant positive impact on our economy and are supposed to be the straw that will break the speculator's back. Those speculators who were caught long, however, have been powerless to prevent the damage to their bottom lines.

From all the noise in the media, it seems like just about everyone is unhappy with this move. The Republicans, of course, are loudly against it, the Democrats are mostly silent, and probably most everyone else doesn't know what to make of it. I think this will backfire and will actually decrease rather than increase Obama's popularity.

The administration has clearly decided that America cannot prosper without a cheap oil policy. That could be true but a cheap oil policy cannot be maintained for a very long time as it cannot overcome fundamental geological and economic realities.

The American people cannot handle the truth; at least it is clear that that is what Obama has concluded. So we will persist in trying to fix the situation with magic.

I'm more convinced that it's Obama who can't actually handle the truth. This was my final "jump the shark" moment for the Obama administration. All we need now is a major hurricane in the gulf this summer and then you'll truely see them all start to freak out.

So how does this tie in with the administration's push for electric vehicles and the chevy volt? On one hand he wants to encourage electrification, but this action runs directly contrary to that. GM is on record multiple times indicating that they need consistently higher gas prices to push people to smaller vehicles.

I wonder if GM had preliminary indication that this was going to occur?

The irony here is that so many people (including apparently our leader) assume speculators are always betting the price will go up and are trying to drive it up. In fact speculators don't care whether it goes up or down - they just want to guess right and make money on the moves. Many speculators will make a small fortune from this attempt to artificially reduce prices for the short term. Then many of them will make another fortune again when it shoots back up on increased demand (from lower prices). It's a game and our leaders are participating in the game.

The amount of oil released (2 million barrels a day) is more than Libya's total oil exports (1.4 million barrels a day) were before the interruption. See my post on Our Finite World.

What I don't understand is if this boosts the world economy then oil demand will go up just at the time that the SPRs need topping up again - to me all this seems to do is make the price even more unstable than it already is - what am I missing?

I agree--raising demand right when the SPR needs topping up isn't great, and could make volatility worse, not better.

Intervening in market could also make buyers and sellers less willing to trust market forces.

What it does do is makes elected leaders look like they are doing "something". That may be a major purpose of this. If it does force prices down for a while, it is a temporary band aid for the economy, which is what I think is another major purpose of the announcement.

I wonder if the primary goal might be obscure the Saudi's inability to materially increase their net oil exports, especially their exports of light/sweet crude. The Saudis can now claim that the markets don't need any additional oil.

Horse Progress Day runs 1-2 July (This year in Lancaster county, PA). May be time to learn how to use horses in lieu of gasoline fueled machinery.

Heck, let's not be technically overtaken by the Amish!

Film on coal mining, The Last Mountain, opens in theaters this month.

One wonders if everyone using electricity today will go and see it.

One wonders if everyone anyone using electricity today will go and see it.

I re-read my words while typing on my electric writing machine...sheesh...

This seems promising:


Any comment from Drumbeat readers/staff is welcome.

Count me in the movie audience.
We just came back on-line after 48 hours without electric (Chicago West suburbs). I did have a gas generator which I purchased from Home Depot as a hedge, but did not open the box. We did not have a risk of flooding and the temps were not extreme, so we made a low power experience out of it. I brought the Briggs & Stratton 5500 watt unit back for full refund. Feel smug for less consumption these last couple days, except for the Starbucks and Panera additional expenses.

SPR = Strategic Political Reductio

We were out for a whole week a couple of years back, when lightning hit a transformer box. Being in the city, the couple of houses with generators were painfully obvious for the noise. Definitely would not deter a determined thief if conditions got really bad.

I also used the opportunity to test a number of low-energy substitutes - candles, solar cooker, solar lantern/radio, super-insulated cooler for refrigerator items, solar battery charger etc etc.

The thing to realise is that solar battery charging is *slow* compared with outlet usage, and to plan accordingly. I did end up taking my laptop to clients for a quick charge. Internet-dependence has become pretty serious.

It was handy to have a store nearby with a (temporary) surplus of ice cubes. One has to be quick about that.

Luckily, my old house does not get that hot in summer, due to large shade trees, and I can use the basement, which is at least 10 - 20 degrees cooler than the rest of the house. Similarly, it is warmer in winter. I have been fitting it out as an emergency, self-contained living space, easy to heat, if necessary, with a small space heater. No need for cooling. The only drawback is a lack of good airflow (glass-block windows). There is an exit door, but only one small window-opening.

In a low-energy scenario, I can envision centralised, neighborhood charging-stations for people without electricity, not unlike neighborhood cooling centers for people without air-conditioning. Pay-as-you-go.
Another post-peak business opportunity.

Australia to move warships to see off Indian Ocean threat

Australia is to move its warships and aircraft to the north-west of the country to protect the booming oil and gas sector and address the military rise of nations on the Indian Ocean rim.

... The coasts of Western Australia and the Northern Territory are home to several multi-billion dollar oil and gas projects and also lie closest to China and the Indian Ocean. However, there is only one major military base in the region, located in Perth.

"As circumstances change our posture needs to change," Mr Smith [Defence Minister] said. ...into the future, considerations arise which go not just to the physical security of a growing resources industry infrastructure but also the general question of energy and energy security."

Also: http://www.miningweekly.com/article/australia-may-boost-north-west-defen...

Hah, is this the time to do an: "See I told you so!"?


So why do I think that Shell has a hand in this...

Yeah, you called that one spot on.

I think that,if the producers are asking for protection the Oz gov should;
First - say no, and let them cost out hiring their own armed ships
Then - charge an extra royalty equal to that cost.

Any normal business that decides to set up in a rough neighbourhood has to take care of it's own security, thee guys should too.
Given that it is a foreign company, with a foreign ship, and likely a lot of foreign workers, the Oz gov should make these guys sweat a little before agreeing to anything, and still charge that royalty, of course...

The problem is that Australia's most secure gas resources are in the northwest but the population is concentrated in the east. Thirty years ago there was a proposal to build a pipeline across the continent and the financial shenanigans brought down the government http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loans_Affair

With carbon tax supposedly starting a year from now there is talk of replacing high emitting brown coal fired power stations in the south east with gas. While southern Australia no longer has secure gas reserves the carbon tax won't be enough to justify the expense of a pipeline. Nuclear energy is banned in Australia. With proposals such as Shell's floating platform a lot of 'Australian' gas will go straight to customers in Asia. The Australian government seems to believe that after carbon tax a lot of coal fired generation will be replaced with wind and solar. I think not. In south eastern Australia we'll get doubly expensive electricity from new gas fired plant which pays both carbon tax and higher gas fuel prices.

It would be helpful if the Australian government formulated a policy on gas reserves. Key guidelines would cover how much is exported, burned for baseload power or used as an oil replacement like CNG.

Yair... hello Boof (or anyone with knowlege in the field). What's the go with this coal seam gas carry on up here at Gladstone?

Is it a different product to what they produce in West Aus? If so what are the applications and where is it headed?

They are talking forty thousand fracked holes on good cropping country. Would those holes have fast depletion rates? It all seems pretty suss. to me.


CSG presumably is methane from freshwater swamps and natgas is from what was once seafloor mud. In rough terms the optimists say that Australia has about 250 tcf of both, or nearly a billion tonnes of gas all up. Maybe we'll get Hollywood on side as they are supposed to be drilling for CSG next to Nicole Kidman's house near Sydney. If we've got so much gas how come they need to drill in peoples back yards?

Most of the natgas is in offshore Western Australia and most of the CSG is in Queensland. Some CSG will be liquefied at Gladstone to be sent overseas. Natgas is dwindling in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania so those places are not readily able to swap coal fired baseload for combined cycle gas with just a measly $20 carbon tax. They say they need CO2 to be taxed at $80 a tonne but perhaps that would treble electricity prices. There is talk of fracking to revive the southern gas basins but let's see if it works. SA of course has the world's largest uranium deposit at Olympic Dam but nukes are forbidden.

Tough questions for gas pushers
1) is 'new gas' worth the problems?
2) should we save some 'old' gas for later?
3) will this get us to 80% less CO2?

They are talking forty thousand fracked holes on good cropping country.

Drill forty thousand holes on good cropping country and pump them full with poison. What could possible go wrong?

I know it should be perfectly safe or our grandchildren may redirect the sewer systems to our grave yards.

World on the Edge by the Numbers – Growing Goat Herds Signal Global Grassland Decline

... One indicator that helps us assess grassland health is changes in the goat population relative to those of sheep and cattle. As grasslands deteriorate, grass is typically replaced by desert shrubs. In such a degraded environment, cattle and sheep do not fare well. But goats—being particularly hardy ruminants—forage on the shrubs. Goats are especially hard on the soil because their sharp hoofs pulverize the protective crust of soil that is formed by rainfall and that naturally checks wind erosion. Between 1970 and 2009, the world’s cattle population increased by 28 percent and the number of sheep stayed relatively static. Meanwhile, goat herds more than doubled.

That is a scary article. I hadn't realized how hard goats are on grassland.

Plus they chew the grass down to the nub. It is very easy to tell if someone has a family goat mowing the lawn just by looking at the grass.

Yeah, but, humans with their cars, roads and parking lots don't make the grass much greener on the other either...

Japan's Crippled Power Plant Faces More Difficulties

A drone aircraft being used to take air samples at Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant crash landed on the roof of the Unit 2 reactor.

The U.S.-made drone was being used to measure radiation levels in parts of the plant that are hard to reach. The spokesman said the drone did not damage the roof of Unit 2 reactor - the only reactor to still have a roof following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The Associated Press said a second machine being used to help measure radiation levels at the Unit 2 reactor also failed Friday. It said a specially-made robot got stuck on a staircase landing.

Also: Japanese baseball games may be delayed by radiation

From NYT: A Nuclear Plant's Flood Defenses Trigger a Yearlong Regulatory Confrontation

[Current level 1007 feet]... [From NRC 2010 Assessment] If levels exceeded 1,004 feet, water would reach the lower floodgates, hampering the welding of plates to door frames, the NRC said. At 1,008.5 feet, the technical support center used by emergency technicians would have been inundated. At 1,010 feet, water would begin to enter the auxiliary building, "shorting power and submerging pumps. The plant could then experience a station blackout with core damage estimated within 15 to 18 hours," under a worst-case scenario, the NRC said.

Flood related: Minot, North Dakota Residents Flee and Nuclear Silos Protected as Historic Flood Waters Rise

... Minot is also home to more than just families - Minuteman III nuclear missile silos are also in the flood's path. At least two silos are being protected by sandbags and pumps, but are reported to be safe.

reactor - electricity = dirty bomb

"Dirty-Bomb Nation" -- here we come!

In looking at that image- in retrospect it's fairly easy to spot where the nuke-plant should have been located in the first place - yeah, that green and nicely elevated patch.

Isn't this inundation situation supposed to last until August or so..? Looks dire from my neck of the woods.

Friday, June 17, 2011 11:55 pm
8 feet (or 2,5 meters of compact summer snow !!! yikes) of snow remains on ground in Montana, and still snowing — “It’s going to flow back down there toward Nebraska”: NWS Meteorologist

Source : http://journalstar.com/news/state-and-regional/nebraska/article_0dcb3ea6...

I haven't seen information about the Fort Calhoun site, but near the Brownsville nuclear station 100 miles or so to the south, the ACoE is talking about the river remaining at flood stage until August, possibly September.

One of the topics frequently discussed in Omaha these days (with its 13 miles of levees) is that no one has any experience with levees exposed to this level of flooding for that long. A contemporary hydrologist was quoted in the paper as saying that levee design in the 1950s when Omaha's system was built was largely based on "junk science."

Note that the current situation is the result of a sequence of unusual weather events: freak rain in the Dakotas refilled the Missouri reservoirs after they had been drawn down before the snow melt, much heavier than usual snow pack, and a cool spring in the mountains that delayed the melt. The Dakotas had another batch of unusual rain this week.

One of the US Senators from one of the Dakotas is considering legislation that would mandate that the ACoE put flood control at the top of its priority list for managing the Missouri, with irrigation and recreation at the bottom (the ACoE currently has a different balance). The obvious policy decision if it's all flood control all the time is that the reservoirs would be largely drained each fall. Among other things, South Dakota would have to find a way to replace much of their electricity -- currently they get about half of their power from hydro from the big Missouri dams.

Another problem - sand shortage

Sand shortage causes concern for flood fighters

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — The supply of sand used to fill hundreds of thousands of bags needed to fight off the swollen Missouri River is running low after weeks of relentless flooding. It's a problem that could get worse as the river is expected to remain high through August, making it unsafe to gather sand from the easiest place to get it: the river itself.

Also Nuclear agency head to visit flooded Nebraska reactors

... Flood water up to 2-feet deep is standing on the site of the 478-megawatt Fort Calhoun plant, operated by the Omaha Public Power District, the NRC said Wednesday.

The Dakotas had another batch of unusual rain this week.

And big thunderstorms firing off in western South Dakota and Nebraska again tonight, with locally heavy rain. Supposed to reach eastern Nebraska about 1:00 AM local time. So possibly heavy rain in the immediate vicinity of the nukes tonight, and the guarantee that the runoff from South Dakota gets there in a few days. Each time the Dakotas get hit, seems that the ACoE opens the Gavins Point dam a bit more and raises the water level a bit more all the way downstream...

flood control at the top of its priority list for managing the Missouri,

Alternatively, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri can do what was done for the towns located where the Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota lakes are -- move them out of the river valley.

Is this what it looks like just before TSHTF? I hate to see what it looks like after it's completely FUBAR!

Have we all lost our freaking minds? Standby, 4, 3, 2, 1,... Everybody now: 'NUCLEAR ENERGY IS COMPLETELY SAFE!'

Yeah, LOL! I live in Japan, fled away from the Fukushima accident, am rebuilding my live (actually it is nice to be away from the Tokyo area and I don't miss the urban scene), BUT (have a look at Steve from Virginia's excellent blog Economic Undertow) the Monju plutonium processing nuclear plant in Fukui could blow..that is too close to me here!....then where do I go? The U.S.? Where 100 nuclear plants are getting ready to age ungracefully and with floods that maybe linked to climate change, WHILE people are predicting gasoline shortages within a year...and (oh yeah) cannot drive...it is a funny feeling to survey wreckage when it is coming at you..
But who ain't a slave, as Melville put it? Who isn't feeling the effects of this process; lots of entropy was "stored" in highways, nuclear power plants, skyscrapers, factories. That entropy production released the heat that was stored inthe chemical bonds of the oil. Hooray for us, helping to dissipate the energy but LOL the joke is on us as the entropy continues to be produced beyond where we planned.Way beyond.People here are in deep shock! And yeah, what happens when all 600 nuclear plants worldwide turn into waste? Will there be anywhere to live? Any water to drink? And between that point and the point where oil becomes hard to get (so it is hard to service and maintain the plants) what will happen?

So, yeah, I hate to see the next step down if this is just the beginning.

If I recall the topo maps of that area correctly, the green non-flooded area to the right really isn't any higher than the plant site, but is behind another levee. Putting the plant up on the bluff at the edge of the 100-year flood plain would, again from possibly faulty memory, have required moving it some thousands of feet away from the river itself, and a few miles of large pipes and pumps to provide cooling water.

I'm not defending the siting decision; I would have insisted on putting it at least part way up the bluff.

From FT's 'Cracking the Permian' linked above:

That is something those fixated on the concept of peak oil seem to resist understanding. [...] A trip there into the desert heat might make clear the production growth possibilities in the oil patch created by technology.

Those of us who focus on peak oil would do well to remember that, sometimes, production can grow. It can even 'surprise to the upside'. It's great that we can drill down 10,000ft in multiple directions, insert charges to blow up shale rock, force a mixture of sand, water, and other stuff into the broken up rock, and get oil out. Genius, actually.

It would be nice though if those fixated on the concept of heroic technology acknowledged that these approaches are unlikely to grow supplies appreciably, at appreciably lower prices. It's a concept they seem to resist understanding.

I call it incremental versus material differences. Oil companies can and will find new fields in post-peak regions, and do a better job of exploiting existing fields, but that does not necessarily mean that they can make a material difference in global supplies. And in fact, global annual crude oil production has been approximately at, or below, the 2005 rate for five straight years, with a measurable and apparently ongoing decline in global net oil exports.

It makes sense. The pro-growth crowd blurs the distinction between incremental vs. total growth to create a sense that all is well. And for those with financial interests in the oil business (by which I mean stock pickers), those companies that can achieve incremental growth are really all they are interested in. As fewer companies are able to grow production, equity dollars chase fewer real opportunities, and push capitalization up. If you stay within that sphere, you could really convince yourself all is well.

The tide is shifting though. 1-2 years ago, and article like this would end by saying 'thus peak oil is now and forever debunked'. The tone is very different these days.

Anyone else spend time at Build It Solar? A site for solar DYI'ers.

The author has a solar hot water and heating system described for $2k DYI build cost. He has very little performance data, but it looks to put out about 65kBtu per day in Feb in Montana (far north and cold). If we use that value as the yearly average to factor in clouds) then we get a cost of about $4.6/million BTU delivered to the house.

That is actually quite good. My 95% efficient natural gas boiler cannot compete with that rate even with nat gas at an all time low. I would guess the EROI is above 20:1. If you live south of Montanna and still have clear skies, it would be even cheaper.

What I find interesting about this is that the professionally installed super high tech solar hot water system I have been looking at has a performance closer to $32/ million BTU, which would be an EROI of like 2:1. I think this is the danger of focusing on trying to maximize BTU per sq foot, instead of $/BTU.

This reminds me of Greer and his thoughts about simple home cooked solutions. It gives me some hope, because it means that we have high EROI systems out there. We just need to make use of them.

I just finished my first unit, per Buildit's designs, somewhat modified (I used glass glazing, sized it down a bit). Undergoing testing; good results so far. The copper tube/aluminum fin collector seems quite efficient. Frustratingly, it's been mostly cloudy since the completion, but during one sunny period I measured over a 20 degree (F) rise at ~1.1 GPM. Two more under construction.

I'm assuming you're refering to A $1000 solar water heating system. I built mine for much less with scrounged stuff. I'll only have about $300 into all three.

$300! Sweet! That drops your cost to something like $2 per mmBTU. Nat gas has not been that cheap for 20 years. Are you ground mounting your unit, or are you putting it up on a roof?

He has a $2k system up also. I took the performance data from that system.

12kBtu per hour capacity won't heat a whole house in my northern climate, but it would have no problem with an insulated room, like a kitchen. I am beginning to see how we are going to muddle through a rapid increase in natural gas costs.

I'm building a shed roof over my diesel genny, room enough for 3 of the 4'x6' collectors I'm building. It'll make it easier to tie in the diesel to collect its waste heat, and promote good drainback in winter. The genny is above/behind my in-ground utility/power room, only a few feet away from the hot water storage tank. I ran several 3" conduits up to the surface for piping and wiring years ago when I poured the back walls of the house. A little planning helps, all part of my crazy, long-term master plan. Having solar, wood stove, etc., all feeding my thermal storage system should go a long way providing DHW and the radiant floor heat.

Now if I can just decide were to put the anaerobic biogas reactor. Maybe next year, near the chicken coop :-0

I've linked that Jean Pain article a few times, about the French guy down in Alpes du Provence in the 70s who built a digester and used heat and the gas coming out of it, as well as the rich compost afterwards.. well, I've been noticing just how much the Bamboo is running rampant around here and was wondering just how good a feedstock it would make for digesting? Anybody know?



I've been noticing just how much the Bamboo is running rampant around here and was wondering just how good a feedstock it would make for digesting? Anybody know?

Hi jokuhl, I'm a member of a Brazilian bamboo forum but haven't been very active in it lately. I'll try and post that question there to see if they have any better information. However my guess is that by itself it would be a mediocre feedstock at best. Here's a link to a page that mentions using some bamboo as part of the feed stock.


This other link has a pretty good in depth explanation on what you can use as feedstock material and they don't mention bamboo at all, then again, it was probably written by people who didn't have much access to bamboo.



Thanks for the links, guys! I went to can blackberries into the wee hours; late getting back to the party. Bamboo is something I'm working on; figure I can make a bit of cash making things, tomato cages, etc.. Ive been warned by my sister-neighbors not to plant it; one because it'll spoil her view (but she's on my s-list anyway) and the other because she's worried it'll invade her property. Too useful to not consider. I have a pasture with a swampy wet spot in the center. Perhaps I'll put it there and surround it with goats to forage on any SKPs. I wonder how bamboo burns in a rocket stove (pop,pop)?

I need to put in a SHW panel using thermosiphon circulation. I am trying to figure out the best place for the non-return valve to stop night time cooling. Any of you guys any thoughts on this? Next to tank or next to panel, cold line or hot line, flap or spring with spring taken out etc?


Flapper, as a spring check will reduce efficiency some. I like to put anything mechanical on the cool (suction) side to avoid heat degradation, but if it's a closed loop you can put it anywhere there's a mostly vertical line. The main thing is to only allow flow in one direction. The valve may chatter a bit at times; you might want to consider that, though I sort of like being able to hear the system is working.

Thanks, it will be open circuit as we don't worry about freezing down here ;) Sounds like a flapper at the bottom of the cold run down, at the horizontal turn, just before it enters the panel.


If you really intend to use thermosyphon circulation, your collectors need to be placed below your tank. The greater vertical distance between the two, the better your circulation will be and the collectors will operate more efficiently as well. In that situation, there's no possibility for reverse flow, as all the hot water is above the collector during the cold night hours...

E. Swanson

The geometry won't be ideal as I will be making the best of the existing space. The panel will be on a sloping roof below the existing tank. A small test I did showed some reverse circulation cooling so I do want to put a one way valve in it.


Build it Solar is a great site - it is the best compilation I have yet found of practical solar ideas. Even though the focus is mainly on DIY'ers, some of these things are very scalable. They are very good at finding alternatives to the eye watering costs of high tech solar HW systems. If solar HW is to take off, it must be done in a practical way. Presently, the professional installers want to give you the "best" system, and that is what you are getting - it's just that it is then no longer worth it.

I am putting together a proposal plan for a small biomass CHP/district heating system (100kWe, 300kWth, 1km long pipe run) The two examples they give of insulating pipes are great - turns a cost of $200k/km into about $50k.

For the solar HW, check out this interesting concept (linked from Build it) for integrating it into an existing system - looks much cheaper and simpler than the normal way the professionals do it;


Build it is a great example of the power of the internet to enable collection, contribution and easy access to information - the pace of improvement/implementation is greatly accelerated by learning of other people's efforts.

I bought a kit of parts for about $3K and installed a solar water heating system myself. Being in central Texas, the biggest problem with it has been that it sometimes boils over in summer.

Since this system replaced electric resistance water heating, the $3K system saves as much elecricity as a $20K solar PV system produces. Nice fast payback.

You must be using one hell of a lot of hot water that a $20k(say 4kW) PV system is needed to power it.

Assuming you get five sun hours a day there, 4kW would give 20kWh/day of hot water, or 136 gal/day at a 50C rise.

So, I can see why your solar HW system would have a fast payback, but so would some water efficiency measures.

Folks who are handy can really save on solar thermal stuff if they shop around. A guy who runs a solar HW business offered me a nice Rheem 125 gal. tank (internal heat exchanger) and two 8'x3' flat plate collectors with insulated line sets for $1000. A few weeks after he installed the stuff the house had a fire. The collectors were like new and the tank had some slight damage to the paint. Insurance paid them off. Alas, I couldn't justify the $$. Turned a buddy on to the deal. It pays to call around, shop the swap sites, etc. Anyone who can do basic plumbing can do solar HW.

Your system should have a high limit to prevent boiling. Using glycol?

Yair... Hey fellers I have a twenty thousand litre concrete rain water tank one third buried in the ground and under an insulated roof.

At this stage no idea of water temps but I thought there may be the possibility of circulating the water through a large aluminium truck radiator size air/con condenser with a fan behind it to aid with a bit of house cooling this summer.

We are talking (say) thirty eight degrees ambient and even on a hot day the water is cool enough to "ouch" you in the shower.

Would it be worth a bit of experimentation you reckon?


It might condense water and that would dry out the air a bit.

1 BTU = 1 lb of water raised 1 degree F. So you could get something like 2.2 * 20k * (72 -38) = 1.5 e6 BTU. 1 ton air con = 12,000 BTU per hour so = 132 hours of air con for a med-small house.

I wonder if you could chill down the tank at night with a pool solar panel (no glass) aimed up at the sky? Insulate the back so the ground radiation can't heat it.

Speaking of Air Con, I just saw this interesting idea of using a Calcium Chloride solution to dry out the air. The excess heat from the solar panels in the summer would do the drying. Check this out: http://2007.solarteam.org/page.php?id=641

The pump and radiator loop with the tank of water makes a thermal mass-storage system. The air delivered within the house is dry. Adding a louvered cooling tower with another small pump in a loop with the tank will chill the tank's water.
A house near my childhood home had an outdoor square wooden tower with water flowing over the angled slats. I never saw another one at a residence.

I've built a Hot Air Collector that is featured on the BuildItSolar site,


-- and I have the glazing available to build 11 more of them, tho' I'll probably use about half the glass for Hot Water Panels, ultimately. I got 6 double-paned Porch-Door panels free from a neighbor at about 34"x78", so the dimensions are a little changed from the plans, but the concept is very simple and adaptable.

In January/Feb, my household air goes in at 68 and comes out the other end at 115-120 or so.. the flow is similar to a small space heater, so it would take a handful to make a serious dent, but there is very little to go wrong with it, and it's easy to repair and modify.

The Solar PV next to it on the little tower drives the fan and control circuit, with room to spare (It's those cheap Harbor Freight 15w panels..), and the silver doors act as simple concentrators in winter, and close to be sunshades in hotter weather.

It's very simple stuff, particularly if you like being on the roof as I do.

Would you tell us about the access tower? How do you open/close it air seal it etc? It is an interesting idea...

The tower comes through the roof where an old chimney used to be, so the shaft (only cleared to the ctr of the 2nd floor as yet) became my spot for bringing in and out the insul. duct hoses. There is a PolyIso plug at the ceiling height of the 2nd floor, and a somewhat sealed door/hatch that let me get into the shaft from the Bedroom. My wife was very reasonable about all this. I could tighten things up a bit more, but for the initial tests, it was pretty good.

I can also get into the tower from a doorway out onto the roof, if need be.. and we have tenants in that apt now, so the need has arisen. (We moved around the corner to my late Mom's house)

The tower also has a couple other tests to it.. the NORTH roof of it is glass, intended to allow for a tracked mirror to toss in a beam of sun, then reflected straight down the chimneyshaft with a 2nd Mirror, and then 'subbed out' into the various adjacent rooms that the chimney passed through, using mirrors and windows build decorously to place these unmoving beams of light where they were needed.

Lots of ideas.. it's hard to make them all happen.. I'm trying to pull down that second Chimney (time is the bottleneck), and then have two pairs of these boxes going up the roof from each shaft in A-frame ridges, and do away with the turret.. make it all look a bit less.. err, nuts, and to be able to feed warm air into each of the 3 units, and my basement workshop.

Oh! I just found this PDF for a Treadle Powered Lathe design, in case anyone is intrigued by such things.. my version would, I think be build on a Flywheel based Exercise Bike, and use Bike Chain for the belt.. otherwise, perfectly lovely! http://www.manytracks.com/lathe/lathe.pdf

Anyway, thanks for asking. Happy to answer any questions.

Oh, replace a chimney with a cupola! What a wonderful idea. It makes me want to get out the sledge right now!

I have been told that the Victorian houses often had cooling shafts running up to little to draw away the heat. I had not thought of putting one in to replace the chimney. Easier to work on the roof too.


Have care taking out a chimney. Older ones formed part of the structure and supported important things.


Meh, way to complicated a lathe :) Much better these


US Housing Crisis Is Now Worse Than Great Depression

It's official: The housing crisis that began in 2006 and has recently entered a double dip is now worse than the Great Depression.

Prices have fallen some 33 percent since the market began its collapse, greater than the 31 percent fall that began in the late 1920s and culminated in the early 1930s, according to Case-Shiller data.

The news comes as the Federal Reserve considers whether the economy has regained enough strength to stand on its own and as unemployment remains at a still-elevated 9.1 percent, throwing into question whether the recovery is real...

One gets the feeling that real estate has much, much farther to fall.

Who has the credit to pay for the asking price on all of these far flung homes? Especially when, in an energy constrained future, it makes sense to pile into apartments and smaller homes in the inner core areas, close to places of work, services, and with shorter commutes?

And with the mortgages sitting on the banks' books, doesn't that mean further deterioration of their balance sheets, which means the Fed prints more money to cover it up?

And as the Fed prints more money, doesn't alot of that money cause higher commodity and energy prices?

And doesn't that accelerate the trend above in a vicious feedback loop?

But then again, I'm just another idiot American. I'm not a Master of the Universe on Wall Street or a celestial bureaucrat in D.C., who are all-knowing, all-powerful, never lie to me, and always have my best interest at heart.

Back to Dancing with the Stars.

In that the money ends up financing speculation in energy and other commodities, yes. 30 years ago, when the Fed created cheap credit, (1) capital restrictions kept most of the credit in the country, (2) separation of commercial and investment banks made it hard for the money to go into financial paper, and (3) there were actual standards for real estate loans. What banks with access to the Fed could do mostly was make business loans they wouldn't make when interest rates were higher, and most of those business plans involved "open/expand business and hire more workers."

Since then, the financial industry has been quite successful at getting Congress (and other countries) to loosen those constraints. I won't comment on whether the changes are good or bad on net, other than to remark that they have been very good for the big banks' profits.

The Fed's ability to push credit (money) into the real economy has been greatly degraded.

It is a full orchestra fiddling while America burns.


Shrinking money:

"Prices have fallen some 33 percent since the market began its collapse"

It doesn't matter how much they fall. what matters is that the local median house valued at 3 times the local median income. Then you can afford it without games.

What's the ratio at the moment in the US?

In the UK it's still got a looong way to go seeing as it's about 6.5 / 7 at the moment (income per person, not per household).

Nice graph here of affordability: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/00/Real_Melbourne_House_...

Sudan pipeline threat could spark oil war

JUBA, Sudan, June 24 (UPI) -- President Omar al-Bashir's threat to block oil pipelines in southern Sudan, due to become independent July 9, unless it shares its oil wealth with the Khartoum regime has heightened fears of renewed conflict....

That would further destabilize the entire region of East Africa, including troubled Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which with neighboring states are on the cusp of becoming serious oil producers themselves.

...Sudan is the third-largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa, after Angola and Nigeria, with an output of 490,000 barrels per day. Two-thirds of that is exported to China. That gives Beijing a keen interest in Sudan's future.

Interesting news from the UK offshore WindTurbine farms
(article is auto-translated from Danish)

Siemens to remove the wings from 126 turbines, due to corrosion on bearings

idea of the cost, must be subtracted from their EROEI calculus.

Siemens, which have warranties on these wind farms, says nothing about the cost of those repairs, but according to an industry source who Ritzau Finance has spoken with, a vessel of the type used for such tasks, cost near 100,000 euros rent per day

Lessons learned from:

Preparing for the last battle: Lessons from Afghanistan

and Afghanistan’s Last Locavores

...During the 12 months I spent as a State Department political adviser in northern Afghanistan, I was dismayed to see that instead of building on Afghanistan’s traditional, labor-intensive agricultural and construction practices, the United States is using many of its aid dollars to transform this fragile agrarian society into a consumer-oriented, mechanized, fossil-fuel-based economy.

In 2004, the Department of Energy carried out a study of Afghanistan. It revealed abundant renewable energy resources that could be used to build small-scale wind- and solar-powered systems to generate electricity and solar thermal devices for cooking and heating water.

Rather than focus on those resources, the United States government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build large diesel generators and exploit the country’s oil, gas and coal reserves.

...Even when DOD tried a renewable project in support of our Afghan partners, they looked through their own filters, not the locals. An example can be found in Dina Maron’s article about an Army Corps of Engineers' plan running into trouble with a wind project in Afghanistan. A plan to build a 1 MW wind turbine for the Afghan equivalent of ... (West Point) went poorly. Problem was that the guy who drew the blueprints hadn’t walked the road. The 300 ton crane necessary for this behemoth couldn’t navigate the terrain. A U.S. solution (huge, centralized power) is not necessarily the answer in less developed regions.

Technicians apply their techniques to any problem they're given, so the results above are hardly surprising. If you send an agricultural expert (ie. technician) to sort out agriculture in some other part of the world what do you get?

From Congressional Research Service

Kazakhstan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests

(pg 1)... the United States’ strategic aim in Kazakhstan is to help the country develop into a stable, secure, and democratic country ...


(pg 8)... The U.S. Energy Department (DOE) reported in November 2010 that Kazakhstan possessed 30 billion barrels of proven oil reserves (comparable to Qatar). DOE also reported estimates of 85
trillion cubic feet (tcf) of proven gas reserves (comparable to the European Union countries).

Re: Five Ethanol Myths, Busted. Up top:

Thanks, Leanan, for finding and posting. Most here know that I have ranted off and on for over four years now about the lies and distortions used by ethanol opponents.

I have attacked the falacious EROEI concept many times. As one who actually buys and uses the inputs to corn production I have known from the time I heard of the concept that something was seriously wrong with it.

The energy in a bin full of corn is many times over the energy purchased to produce it. I spend weeks and months hauling thousands of bushels of corn to the elevator. The fuel truck comes out 3 or 4 times a year and fills my little barrels with a few hundred gallons of diesel. I just bought 60 gallons of glyphosate (Round-Up) to spray my corn once.

And the notoriously false idea we hear nearly every day that field corn is human food has been another target of mine. The idea that the starving people of the world have money to buy it or even want it is beyond bizarre.

As regards Obama's release of the SPR reserve, please remember that Obama is an ethanol supporter.

Ethanol opponents in Congress have been playing pretty rough lately. Ethanol supporters can play rough too.

The hypocritical argument that oil is a free market and unsubsidized like ethanol is shown to be a lie by Obama's release of the SPR reserves. The government does not own reserves in a free market. The reserves are prima facia evidence of government meddling in the market.

I applaud Obama for giving oil a taste of the medicine that ethanol opponents so often dish out. Of course the Chamber of Commerce and the oil industry as seen in the other links up top don't like it.

They want tax dollars tied up in the SPR at a time the fiscal deficit is used to threaten cuts to everything but war and oil subsidies.

What good is the SPR if we never use it? Who is going to attack us?
Not China, we are their best customer. Not Russia, it would lose its oil and natural gas markets in Europe.

Who then? Some crazy terrorist acting alone or not most likely. We have seen the futility of responding with war to that. It has taken 10 years, thousands of American lives and billions of dollars to kill Bin Laden. Was he worth it? I don't think so.

If ethanol opponents want to play hard ball, Obama just threw a fast one and big oil struck out.


It isn't the energy that is used to produce the corn that is the issue - or if people are saying it is, then, as you point out, they don't understand the economies of scale of mechanised farming.

The real issue about the energy input is what is used to turn corn into ethanol - and the surprising amount of energy needed for drying the ddg's. The overall output is still positive, and I think that author actually lowballed the number. Ethanol as 24Mj/L and he said it is energy positive by 8MJ, which implies and EROEI of 1.5. Actually, by not giving the energy content of ethanol, he is doing some poor writing there - what does the reader compare that number to?

He also fails to point out that ethanol can, in an engine tuned for it, be a better (more energy efficient) fuel than gasoline. But then, the ethanol industry hasn't really pushed that front either. If they had, they might create customers that actually want to use their product, instead of being forced to.

Field corn is fed to animals. The fact that it is not consumed directly is irrelevant. I think you are engaging in sleight of hand. You can attack energy return a billion times. And it will still be valid. Just ask the rabbit.

In the other news in India...

[...]the government on Friday decided to raise the price of diesel by Rs 3 a litre, kerosene by Rs 2 a litre while cooking gas will cost Rs 50 more per cylinder.


while cooking gas will cost Rs 50 more per cylinder.

On the bright side they will have less food to cook... not to mention that if they had any sense at all they would be massively implementing solar cookers for all.

Who knows, maybe their counting on a nuclear war with Pakistan to solve both their population problems.

Sorry, solar cookers do not offer any sort of steady cash flows as it does today with LPG cylinders.