Drumbeat: July 22, 2011

Peak oil - are we sleepwalking into disaster?

Like climate change, peak oil is often perceived by the more pessimistic analysts as one of those apocalyptic conundrums where we are already past the tipping point – meaning that any solutions human ingenuity can deliver will simply mitigate the worst-case scenario. Certainly, oil-field discoveries have been in sharp decline since the 1970s. And there is a consensus that peak oil has already been reached, at some point between 2004 and 2008. This does not bode well at a time when huge emerging nations like China and India are experiencing energy-hungry industrial revolutions. China's economic growth was 11 per cent last year and in India, it reached 9 per cent. Increased demand could soon outstrip depleted supplies.

But unlike climate change, politicians seem unwilling to encourage public debate about the ramifications of peak oil. There has been no shortage of government-commissioned reports into the problem, but most have been kept from public view – Britain and the US, for example, have maintained the cloak of secrecy by not publishing many findings. This could be because politicians are concerned that doom-laden messages - like the prediction that ordinary families will only be able to use their cars for emergencies within 10 years because of spiralling fuel prices – will cause panic and civil disobedience on the streets. Or, a more cynical view, might suggest that governments and oil companies are so deeply entwined – in some cases like Saudi Arabia and Iran they are, indeed, the very same thing and we all know about the intimate connections between BP and the political world here in the UK – that educating citizens on the need to move towards conservation and away from consumption would damage business and tax revenues and possibly, even, the foundations of capitalism itself.

Earnings up but output down at many oil companies

HOUSTON (Reuters) - The world's largest oil companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, are expected to report out-sized quarterly profits, but investors are likely to respond with a yawn, focusing instead on the companies' ability to raise output.

Analysts at Barclays Capital expect profits at the oil companies and refiners it follows will increase 42 percent in the second quarter, fueled by a jump in crude prices and global refining margins.

Oil-Drilling Safety Bill Stalls Amid Fight over Oil Royalties

A group of mostly Republican lawmakers blocked a key vote on legislation to strengthen oil-drilling safety Thursday after efforts to use the bill to steer billions of dollars of oil royalties to coastal states like Alaska and Louisiana appeared likely to fail.

The move postpones an important committee-level vote on offshore safety legislation that has been in the works for more than a year, following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.

Researchers: Gulf Drilling Could Add 230,000 Jobs

An energy research group predicted that an increase in drilling activity in the Gulf of Mexico could create 230,000 jobs and add $44 billion to the economy next year.

IHS on Thursday said that the U.S. would produce more jobs, more tax revenue and another 411,000 barrels of oil per day if the industry was allowed to operate at full speed in the Gulf. The government essentially shut down offshore drilling for several months last year after BP's massive oil spill while it put new safety regulations in place.

Why oil autocracy is a complicated thing

Till today, though no full-fledged petro-state has been caught up in the Arab Spring, we remain jittery because of the possibility for more economic havoc should the turbulence strike a big oil producer. Yet Venezuela tells us that the range of possible outcomes includes not only the recurrence of a Yemen or Libya scenario; it is also changes to the market status quo in a simple change of leadership.

Mexico's largest oil field could boost production

(Reuters) - Mexico's state oil company Pemex is optimistic about the prospects for its largest oil field where it could boost production with new discoveries, an independent board member said on Thursday.

Fluvio Ruiz, one of four independent members of Pemex's board of directors, said the giant Ku Maloob Zaap field could produce 1 million barrels per day by 2015, up from the 850,000 barrels per day it is currently pumping.

Malawi president calls for calm, 18 dead in protests

(Reuters) - At least 18 people have been killed in clashes between police and demonstrators during violent nationwide protests against President Bingu wa Mutharika, the Malawian health ministry said on Thursday.

Spokesman Henry Chimbali confirmed 10 deaths in the northern cities of Karonga and Mzuzu, where protesters angry at chronic fuel shortages and Mutharika's perceived autocracy ransacked the offices of his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on Wednesday.

Activist documents violence at Syrian demonstrations

Damascus (CNN) -- She asks that we call her "Laila" but it is not her real name, as she has to protect her identity for her own safety.

A human rights activist and lawyer, Laila says she has been to at least two dozen anti-government demonstrations in and around Damascus and wanted to observe firsthand violations by the Syrian regime.

Could the moon provide clean energy for Earth?

Helium-3 is in scarce supply on Earth, much more abundant on the moon.

Russia to resume fuel exports to Kyrgyzstan

Russia has agreed to resume fuel exports to Kyrgyzstan following a gasoline shortage in the country, an advisor to Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev said on Thursday.

“Supplies will be continued,” the Gazeta.kz news agency quoted advisor Farid Niyazov as saying. “Such an agreement was reached at a meeting of the heads of governments of Russia and Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday in Moscow.”

Ukraine's Tymoshenko says 'not guilty' of gas charges

KIEV (RIA Novosti) - Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, accused of signing a "disadvantageous" gas deal with Russia in 2009, denied on Friday the charges against her.

U.S. delays final report on BP oil spill probe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. team probing the causes of last year's massive BP oil spill has delayed the release of its final report in order to more fully weigh the evidence, investigators said on Friday.

Losing Our Energy Security

Energy security.

At one point or another, we've all heard this term...

We have much less of it now than ever before. Even scarier is the fact that going forward, our energy security will be increasingly unstable.

Con Ed meets heavy NYC demand, but imposes brownouts

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Consolidated Edison (ED.N) said power usage on Thursday was the highest this year and could break the all-time record on Friday as New York homes and businesses crank up their air conditioners to escape a brutal heatwave.

But Con Edison, which delivers electricity to about 3.2 million customers in New York City and Westchester County, did not meet the heavy demand without some problems.

As heat index soars, so does record-setting power demand

(CNN) -- The sweltering heat wave that has much of the United States in a stranglehold is stressing the nation's power grids to the max, according to energy officials.

Thursday, the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO) -- the organization that manages the flow of bulk power in 12 states across the Midwest -- declared an emergency alert due to high temperatures stretching generators to a much higher-than-forecast load.

Holding back the tar sands: Keystone XL and civil disobedience - a web chat with Bill McKibben, David Hughes and Kate Sheppard

TransCanada, one of the largest companies involved in tar sands exploration, has proposed a 1,661 mile, 36-inch extension of the newly built Keystone Pipeline from Alberta, Canada to Texas in the United States. This would expand the capacity for refining oil produced from the Alberta tar sands by approximately one million barrels per day.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the tar sands are higher than those emitted from conventional oil due to the energy intensive extraction process. The extraction process is also highly costly in terms of natural gas and water usage, resulting in a legacy of huge tailing ponds of contaminated water. In addition the development of the tar sands is resulting in an attack on the lifestyle of indigenous populations in the area.

Peak Research

Life has been very hard for scientists during the last few years. Already, the life of an active scientist was a rat race in which you had to run in circles, trying to get grants that would allow you to pay students and postdocs and they would help you write more papers that then would be used to support proposal that would provide you grants that would allow you to pay students..... It has always been like that, but in the last few years it has become hell. More and more bureaucracy, tight controls, guidelines to follow, time schedules to keep and less and less money. And, of course, any attempt to do something creative and a little outside the known schemes seems to be becoming impossible to finance.

The future of the university

Sooner or later the loss of knowledge will be inevitable. We will no longer have the means to keep all that knowledge alive. Then we shall have to get rid of some parts of it. I shall not at this point risk an assessment of which ones that will be. However, I warn against the idea that the humanities will have to go first. Until now scientists and engineers were the ones who could proudly claim to create the basis of our production and therefore of our economy. However, when raw materials and energy are getting scarce it is precisely the stuff with which they used to enchant us that will no longer be available to them. Neither scientists nor engineers are able to create something out of nothing. To the contrary. Now questions will appear which they have never learned to answer.

Peak Moment 197: Portable House, Simple Life

Embarrassed by her middle class affluence after a visit to Guatemala, Dee Williams grabbed her hammer, built a tiny house on wheels, downsized to less than 400 possessions, and parked her house in a friend’s yard. Her living arrangement then blossomed into a multi-generational family / community. Dee shows us her warm and comfy 7×12 foot house, how she meets city codes, and some unusual ways this life has affected her. Her advice to wannabe tiny home builders: Take on the experiment. Just do it! [http://portlandalternativedwellings.com/]

The Peak Oil Crisis: Reality On Hold

As much of America bakes in some of the highest temperatures ever recorded and while Washington argues interminably over taxes, budget cuts and debt caps, one is struck by the unreality of it all. When the House of Representatives votes to preserve the incandescent light bulb for a while as a symbol of personal freedom, it is as if we have entered a wonderland where black is white, up is down and as a nation we have lost touch with reality.

Our media, the cornerstone of our democracy, clearly has failed to communicate something of great import to us. Perhaps it is the information overload of the electronic age. There is so much news that the big picture is lost in mountains of trivia - there are only so many minutes in day. Another possibility is that there is so much bad news out there, that nobody really wants to hear or think about it. Denial is overwhelming us.

Oil heads for $100 as Greece aid deal reached

SINGAPORE – Oil prices rose toward $100 a barrel Friday in Asia after European leaders reached an aid deal aimed at stanching Greece's financial crisis.

...Crude prices were also given a boost by the International Energy Agency's decision not to release more oil.

The IEA said June 23 that it would release 60 million barrels of oil in a bid to lower prices, and traders speculated this week that the group was planning to send more barrels to the market.

Gas prices turn up, could put damper on economy

So much for relief at the pump — and some much needed fuel for the sputtering economy.

After falling to $3.54 a gallon from May's $3.98 peak, prices have unexpectedly surged the past two weeks to a national average of almost $3.70 — a dollar higher than levels a year ago.

Gas Prices Rise Despite Obama-IEA Oil Release

Gas prices, perhaps more than unemployment numbers, housing stats, or stock tickers, have a huge effect on the American psyche. After all, even urbanites who don't have to fill their tank regularly notice how gas prices affect the costs of other products and services. So for politicians who want to get on voters' good side--especially in the face of other dismal economic measures--tinkering with oil and gas prices could be a smart move.

That's just what President Obama did. Less than a month ago, on June 23, the Obama administration and the International Energy Agency sent oil markets in an unexpected frenzy after announcing that 60 million barrels of crude oil would be released from its member countries' reserves--half that amount coming from America's own Strategic Petroleum Reserve. But like that frenzy, the effect of the release on gas prices was short-lived.

Rising oil prices stand to hit energy-inefficient Kyiv hard

Heavily dependent on one supplier and inefficient, Ukraine will suffer the consequences of an oil price spike more than the rest of Europe.

Heat to test East Coast power grid

Overall, the electrical grid covering the heat-afflicted East Coast and Midwest has handled power demands. The grid can manage usage as much as 15% higher than the expected "peak" demand, says John Moura of the North American Electric Reliability Corp., a group that monitors the grid.

Because of the economy, Moura adds, peak summer power demand nationwide is down about 35 gigawatts, a 4% drop from industry estimates made in 2008.

America’s Most Expensive Electricity

Prices tended to be high in areas with small populations, rural areas, and cities with high operating costs. Hawaii had the highest average residential price of electricity, at 24.2¢ per kilowatt hour in 2009, compared with a U.S. average of 11.51¢, followed by Connecticut and New York, the EIA data show. Average prices were the lowest in North Dakota, Washington, and Idaho.

China, rich with coal, seeks more next door in Mongolia to meet its energy needs

TAVAN TOLGOI, MONGOLIA — Overlooking a deep black gash in the Gobi Desert, Od Jambaljamts watched Caterpillar trucks rumble across the rim of the world’s biggest undeveloped coal deposit — and mused on Mongolia’s good fortune to have the world’s most voracious consumer of coal just a few scores of miles away.

“China is so big that even if they cut their economy in half they will still need what we have here,” said Od, a former Mongolian diplomat in Washington who, along with his younger brother, now controls the Mongolian Mining Corp.

Billionaire Jindal’s JSW Delays Power-Project Expansion on High Coal Costs

JSW Energy Ltd., the Indian power producer controlled by the billionaire Jindal family, delayed expansion of an electricity project because of high coal costs.

The company will shelve a planned 3,200-megawatt expansion at a plant in Ratnagiri in the western state of Maharashtra as it waits for coal-pricing “clarity” from Indonesia and Australia, Chief Executive Officer Lalit Kumar Gupta said in an interview in Mumbai yesterday.

Iran: 'No decision on India flows yet'

Iran said today it has no plans yet to cut oil exports to India over a payment dispute according to local media reports.

Iran warned India on Monday that it would stop exporting oil to India from 1 August if the financial dispute over payment was not resolved.

ANALYSIS-India to fill Iran supply gap with Saudi, Iraqi oil

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's immediate strategy to deal with the loss of crude from Iran in August is to buy more from Saudi Arabia and Iraq, while inventories and plant maintenance give refiners breathing space as they seek to establish new supply lines.

Iran has cut supply as it tries to put pressure on Indian refiners to settle $5 billion in debt for oil supplied, and to find a way to pay for future shipments.

Iran, India oil rumpus has wider implications
(Reuters) - The market appears quite relaxed about the escalating dispute between India and Iran over payment for oil supplies, but it has wider implications and may yet disrupt Asian crude markets.

Schlumberger Second-Quarter Net Rises as U.S. Onshore-Oil Drilling Booms

Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB), the world’s largest oilfield-services provider, said second-quarter profit rose 64 percent as increasing crude prices drove more U.S. onshore drilling.

Jeff Rubin: Debt ceilings aren’t the only way America can default

For the People’s Bank of China, which is long a trillion or so dollars of U.S. Treasury bonds, it is impossible not to notice the game of debt brinkmanship currently being played in Washington.

If Congress does the unthinkable by not raising the debt ceiling, the U.S. government will start defaulting on its debt, of which the People’s Bank of China is the single largest holder.

Libya rebels: Brega oil installations boobytrapped

A top Libyan rebel official says Moammar Gadhafi's troops have boobytrapped petroleum installations in the strategic oil port of Brega so they can be blown up if his regime loses the town.

Rebel diplomatic chief Mahmoud Jibril also says Gadhafi's forces have boobytrapped oil fields, but did not state which fields. Brega is a key oil processing and shipment hub. The fields that feed it lie far to the south in the Libyan desert.

Amnesty: Saudi plans anti-terror law to stop dissent

(Reuters) - Amnesty International accused Saudi Arabia of planning a crackdown on public dissent with new anti-terror legislation that it said was a cover to stop further pro-democracy protests in the absolute monarchy.

Yemen says senior al-Qaeda member killed

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A senior leader of Yemen's al-Qaeda branch has been killed in fighting in the nearly lawless south of the country, the Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

China power regulator eyes say on hot power issues

(Reuters) - The new head of China's power industry regulator hopes to make advancements on coal and power shortages, the ultra-high voltage(UHV) power line plan and grid access for wind and solar power, changing the image of a toothless electricity watchdog.

Analysis: Apple guns for Exxon as king of stocks

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc is within sight of catching up with Exxon Mobil as the most valuable company in the world.

Based on Apple's growth trajectory, and a number of catalysts in the pipeline -- from a possible new iPhone this fall to expansions in China -- investors and analysts say Apple could unseat Exxon in the next six months, or latest by the middle of next year.

5 Things You Didn't Know About Oil

Some industry experts forecast an optimistic trend that predicts the year 2020 to be the year when global production would peak and slowly begin its downward spiral resulting in the research and sourcing of other possible resources to replace crude oil. But there is a section of the industry that holds a more pessimistic view based on the assumption that the extensive industrial and transport use of petrol in the present day, fuelled by its extremely low prices has already pushed us over the peak and what we see now is the descent.

Preparing for post-peak

South Africans trying to fill their cars with petrol last week will have some idea of what it would be like to live in a world of diminishing oil supply.

Though sector strikes were the reason this time, future oil price shocks, supply disruptions and shrinking economies could be the outcome of a continuing global dependence on oil, says the Association for the Study of Peak Oil SA (Aspo ).

“The world is addicted to oil,” says Aspo chairman Jeremy Wakeford. Oil accounts for 34% of total global energy and 95% of transportation fuel.

The Shale Oil Revolution: Who could win In North America and Argentina?

The oil market is nervous. As we have highlighted over here, Chinese demand remains the main concern. China's oil imports fell to an eight-month low in June, 5.7% lower than the month before and down by 11.5% year on year. The figures add to concerns that the Chinese government will slow growth with a sharp tightening of monetary policy, in response to consumer price inflation running at 6.4 per cent last month despite five interest rate rises since October. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has increased production to a record 9.6mbpd, an increase of 800kbpd from January, and Iraq reached record output of 2.75mbpd, almost back to pre-war levels. As of June, IEA inventories remain above the 2006-2010 average. However, I still receive doomsday messages about supply. And I say, don’t worry, supply is adequate.

Sorry, but Fracking Doesn’t End the Peak Oil Debate

It’s not clear that 2006 was the official peak year. No one is really sure when the peak will occur. Maybe it already did (some observers are skeptical about the truth of Saudi Arabia’s reserves), and maybe it won’t occur for another 20 years.

Is Peak Coal Real?

About a year ago, I wrote an article about peak coal. And I took some heat for it…

“I’ve had it,” wrote Mark S. “Peak oil, peak natural gas, peak water, peak uranium. What about peak fear mongering, Ian? These peaks don’t exist. We have plenty of oil. It’s not going anywhere. You’re just trying to sell letters.”

You’re wrong, Mark... and you forgot peak coal.

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett Notes Urgency to Reduce Oil Dependency at the first joint United States Air Force and Army Energy Forum

In his presentation, Congressman Bartlett warned of threats to US economic and national security as well as geopolitical stability as a consequence of the inability of oil supplies to meet increases in demand, led by China, coupled with increasing control over oil production and prices by OPEC governments. He said that the correlation between oil price spikes and recessions in the United States after the U.S. peaked in conventional oil production in 1970 portends worldwide economic distress and the potential for conflict between nations. He noted that the most recent recession in 2008-09 was the first to occur in the absence of a supply disruption or terrorist incident. He asked why major private oil companies are shifting from oil to natural gas production. He added that current U.S. oil prices adjusted for inflation are above levels reached before these previous recessions.

Where the Future Oil Is At

The wide-ranging Al Fin hit upon a graph that will stun the peak oil believers. You’ll want to save this. The flip side is it comes from the International Energy Agency (IEA) – a point that many will use to cast justifiable suspicion. Yet absolute accuracy isn’t needed, the blocks paint a picture of a ratio that even if wrong by 50%, there is a huge amount of petroleum supply yet to be used.

Graphene-coated sensors to strike oil?

Tiny sensors coated with the wonder-material graphene and powered by flowing water could expedite the discovery of oil and natural gas reserves, according to university researchers supported by the energy industry.

The idea is to plop the sensors into the water injected down exploration wells where they can then move sideways through cracks and crevices in the Earth in search of hydrocarbons. The electricity generated by the flow of water would allow the sensors to relay their findings to the surface.

Exxon spill highlights gaps in pipeline oversight

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Three weeks after a broken Exxon Mobil pipeline spilled 1,000 barrels of oil into the Yellowstone River, federal officials remain unsure how many pipelines carrying hazardous fuels cross the nation's rivers and streams, nor can they say how deeply those pipelines are buried.

The spill into the Montana river amid historic flooding this month drew attention to what had long been an overlooked part of the nation's energy infrastructure: the presence of pipelines underneath rivers coursing throughout the country. The spill raised concern that other underwater pipelines may have been exposed to debris by high and fast-moving waters that swept much of the U.S. in recent months.

Split Within Nuclear Regulatory Agency

WASHINGTON — A majority of the five-member Nuclear Regulatory Commission is signaling that it wants to move slowly on at least some new recommendations from its staff on how to reduce the chance of a Fukushima-type accident at an American reactor despite calls by its chairman for swift action.

Three commissioners are resisting a proposal by the chairman, Gregory B. Jaczko, that the commission act promptly on all the recommendations, which were issued last week by a team of six senior staff members. Mr. Jaczko said that because this task force had completed its evaluation in 90 days, the commissioners should be able to decide within a similar time frame what changes to make in safety regulations, although the reforms themselves would take longer.

Chubu Electric to Build $1.3 Billion Tsunami Defenses for Hamaoka Plant

Chubu Electric Power Co. plans to spend an estimated 100 billion yen ($1.3 billion) to construct additional tsunami defenses at its Hamaoka nuclear plant in Shizuoka, southwest of Tokyo.

Japan reactors ordered to check data for stress tests

(Reuters) - Japan's atomic safety watchdog has ordered all nuclear generators to check or rerun quake-resistance assessments, the basis for newly imposed safety measures, after Kyushu Electric Power Co reported its analysis included improper data.

Return of evacuees still up in the air

The government may decide when to lift restrictions on local residents in the "emergency evacuation preparation zone"--many of whom have evacuated to other locations both within and outside Fukushima Prefecture--as early as August. The emergency evacuation preparation zone covers parts of Minami-Soma, Tamura, Kawauchimura and Narahamachi, plus all of Hironomachi.

Vernon plans for possible future without nuclear facility

VERNON -- Now in the early stages of planning for a future without the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, officials in Vernon met with the Windham Regional Commission Thursday afternoon to discuss the municipal's planning grant to design a long-term solution if the facility closes next spring.

CEO confirms Chevy to sell diesel Cruze in U.S.

Planned for introduction in 2013, it would be the first Detroit passenger-vehicle diesel since the 2006 Jeep Liberty CRD sport-utility, and the first diesel car from Detroit since the 1980s.

Electric cars about to cost more in California

The state has run out of the $5,000 rebates it was giving drivers who bought all-electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Roadster. Also, prices for the Nissan Leaf are going up.

Celanese to Make Low-Cost Ethanol From Gas if U.S. Policy Changes

Celanese Corp. (CE) would make low-cost ethanol for U.S. motorists using natural gas if policy makers end subsidies for corn-based production and amend the law that allows only renewable sources of the fuel additive.

Celanese can make ethanol from natural gas for about $60 a barrel, one-third less than the corn-based process encouraged by a 45-cent-a-gallon federal subsidy, Chief Executive Officer David Weidman said today in a telephone interview. Celanese has begun building a demonstration plant and research center in Clear Lake, Texas, where it plans to begin production in mid- 2012.

Solar power boom shines for consumers

Solar energy is gaining fans in homeowners who aren't just tree huggers — they're penny pinchers.

Japanese firm perfects fuel cell for homes of the future

A Japanese company has perfected the technology that will store green energy in the homes of the immediate future and control where and when that power is provided to the building.

Other firms are working on similar storage and control systems for individual homes, but Japanese companies have redoubled their efforts in the wake of the massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeast of the country in March and destroyed the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant.

NY mayor's charity boosts anti-coal campaign

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's charity is donating $50 million to the Sierra Club's campaign to shut down coal-fired power plants and replace them with alternative energy sources, including wind and solar power.

Analysis: Ontario green energy plan feels the heat

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - An ambitious plan to feed renewable energy into the power grid of Canada's economic heartland is under fire and could flame out altogether in the autumn, just two years after its launch.

Ontario's opposition Progressive Conservative party, who are leading in the polls ahead of an October 6 election, has vowed to scrap a provincial program that pays above-market rates to producers of energy from sources such as the sun and wind.

WTO to rule on Japan's green energy complaint against Canada

The World Trade Organization said on Wednesday it will rule on a Japanese claim that a Canadian province's renewable energy programme flouts international trade law.

U.S., Seeking to Reshape Electric Grid, Adopts a Power Line Rule

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators laid down principles on Thursday for planning and paying for new power lines, part of a long-term policy effort to help the nation’s electricity grid grow enough to meet the demands of renewable energy and a competitive electricity market.

The rule, which has been in the works for several years, is intended to push the organizations that manage the grid into cooperating with one another, so that developers can build power lines across several states and multiple electrical jurisdictions.

Where the green jobs are growing in the U.S.

It’s no secret the U.S. is struggling with high unemployment and dismal job growth. But at least one industry seems to be bucking the trend. “Sizing the clean economy: A national and regional green jobs assessment,” is an unbiased report published by Brookings. It demonstrates that, despite what some might think, solutions to environmental problems are not a drag on federal and state budgets, and can instead create revenue and new jobs.

EPA Strengthens Protection on Waterways Affected by Mountaintop Mining

This Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final guidance on protecting the quality of water sources in Appalachian communities where there are currently mountaintop coal mining operations.

EPA Changes Energy Star Requirements for Dishwashers and Furnaces

The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday announced is it updating the requirements for both dishwashers and furnaces under the Energy Star program.

Somali president issues urgent appeal for aid as famine hits nation

Mogadishu, Somalia (CNN) -- The Somali president issued an urgent appeal for international aid as his drought-stricken country faces a famine that has left half of the population in dire need.

India explores ways to curb prodigious food waste at extravagant wedding parties

As the ranks of India’s wealthy surge with rapid economic growth, many families are staging extravagant displays of food at their children’s weddings to show off their newfound affluence.

The prodigious waste that follows has horrified many in a nation where food prices are skyrocketing and tens of millions of young children are malnourished.

Organic fruit and veg made easy

Probably the most productive piece of agricultural land in Britain lies in the foothills of the Black Mountains in Wales. Here, on a modest 1½ acres, Dr Paul Benham and a handful of students and volunteers produce around £25,000 worth of organic fruit and veg each year. And the best bit is: you could replicate it in your backyard.

To Nullify Lead, Add a Bunch of Fish Bones

Today, there is more lead contamination in America’s cities than any federal or state agency could ever afford to clean up and haul away. So scientists and regulators are trying a new strategy, transforming the dangerous metal into a form the human body cannot absorb, thus vastly reducing the risk of lead poisoning.

The principle is straightforward, said Victor R. Johnson, an engineer with Civil & Environmental Consultants Inc. “The fish bones are full of calcium phosphate,” he said. “As they degrade, the phosphates migrate into the soil.” The lead in the soil, deposited by car exhaust from the decades when gasoline contained lead or from lead-based paint residue, binds with the phosphate and transforms into pyromorphite, a crystalline mineral that will not harm anyone even if consumed.

Gates Foundation: 'We need to reinvent the toilet'

"No innovation in the past 200 years has done more to save lives and improve health than the sanitation revolution triggered by invention of the toilet," Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of the foundation's global development program, said in a statement. "But it did not go far enough. It only reached one-third of the world. What we need are new approaches. New ideas. In short, we need to reinvent the toilet."

John Michael Greer: Salvaging resilience

The problem with “resilience,” though, is that it also has a perfectly clear meaning. Once people figure out what that is, it’s a safe bet that they’ll be hunting for another buzzword in short order, because resilience can be defined very precisely: it’s the opposite of efficiency.

Coal-Themed Sculpture Annoys Lawmakers

Another dispatch from the coal-fired emissions front:

Some people in Wyoming, one of the country’s top energy-producing states, are not happy with a sculpture that has just been installed at the University of Wyoming that depicts a link between human-caused climate change and dead forests.

Africa a frontier carbon market

Africa is seen as the next frontier for investment in carbon offset projects while China and India prepare to roll out their own cap-and-trade schemes.

What’s Killing Carbon Capture?

CCS technology promised the best of all worlds: Abundant power from coal while cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Now pilot programs are pulling the plug.

Seeing Trends, Coalition Works to Help a River Adapt

Based on current warming trends, climate scientists anticipate that in the next 100 years the Nisqually River will become shallower and much warmer. Annual snowpack will decline on average by half. The glacier that feeds the river, already shrunken considerably, will continue to recede.

...To prepare for these and other potentially devastating changes, an unusual coalition of tribal government leaders, private partners and federal and local agencies is working to help the watershed and its inhabitants adapt. The coalition is reserving land farther in from wetlands so that when the sea rises, the marsh will have room to move as well; it is promoting hundreds of rain gardens to absorb artificially warmed runoff from paved spaces and keep it away from the river; and it is installing logjams intended to cause the river to hollow out its own bottom and create cooler pools for fish.

US lawmakers wade in to aviation emissions row

Members of the House of Representatives are seeking to ban US airlines from taking part in the EU's emissions trading scheme in a move likely to ratchet up tensions between Brussels and Washington over climate policy.

US panel votes to bar climate funding

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A panel of the US Congress on Thursday moved to bar foreign assistance related to climate change, defying President Barack Obama's calls to contribute as part of an international accord.

On a party line vote, the Republican-led House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to ban funding in next year's budget for Obama's initiative to support poor nations in adapting to climate change or pursuing clean energy.

The troubling convergence of poverty, violence and climate change

Some 200 years ago Benjamin Franklin noted that nothing is certain except for death and taxes. Today Franklin could readily have been additionally certain of the inevitability of two further events of sad note, namely armed conflicts and global warming.

In his latest book, impassioned investigative journalist and courageous war correspondent Christian Parenti attempts to connect those two additional certainties of armed conflict and global warming by describing and interpreting events he has witnessed which suggest that the anthropogenic climate change now in progress is already leading to ever greater amounts of social unrest, totalitarianism, violence and armed conflict.

Our Oil Future may not be as Bleak as it Seems

Comparing the yellow block of production to date with the sum of the others is a shock to many doomers – er, peak oil believers. Actually another whole block is missing, the secondary and tertiary recovery from the produced block.

There ought to be a law! The Middle East and North Africa has about 1.3 trillion barrels they could produce at under $30 a barrel. And there is another .8 trillion barrels of conventional oil that could be produced at $40 a barrel of less. That's about 2.1 trillion barrels of conventional oil that could be produced at, according to the chart, anywhere from about $7 a barrel to $40 a barrel. And all this coming from the IEA, folks that get paid to tell the truth.

Then of course, if crunch comes to crunch we could produce a total of about 9 trillion barrels or about 7.9 trillion barrels more than we have already produced. That should do us for another 300 years or so. Thanks to the IEA we can all forget about peak oil and get back to business as usual.

Ron P.

Some idiot's just don't give up,do they?Really gets my blood boiling reading such crap.

I think it was just sarcasm.

(otherwise, imagine all the CO2 that would be dumped into the atmosphere.)

Actually, your blood is boiling from all the global warming that these hydrocarbons will produce!

Did you see the first post in the comments section?

"I have wondered about the Peak Oil crowd for years, and if certain oil interests were behind them.

We are not running out of fossil fuels. In a way, i wish we were–I would like PHEVs to become the norm in cities, thus cleaning urban air.

But fossil fuel is here to stay."

So, where is my monthly check from ExxonMobil? I could really use some $$$

This is right up there with the tool that suggested here recently that environmentalists were responsible for the Fukushima disaster.

I think it's all fantasy. With fantasy it keeps the load off of the thinking parts of the brain... feels better.

I talk to smart people about Peak Oil. Blank stares from smart people means that we are not going to go through this smoothly. The FIRE sector of the economy has brainwashed smart people into thinking that the economy is just run on magic and service jobs and hope - LMAO.

Of course, the media has not been very engaging on this issue. They'd rather portray our problems as political acts with the continuous playing up of the debt ceiling, which everyone knows is a fictitious sideshow. Remember if only the folks in Washington could get things done, then the economy would purrr like a kitten again.

BTW. the whole fake $100/bbl ceiling on WTI is starting to unnerve me. Is there a serious racket to keep it down under $100? Is this really a sound marker for the price of anything? I know conspiracy theory, but darn it if the price never ends above $100.

There are futures contracts representing roughly about 1,500,000,000 barrels of WTI, against a potential storage of about 50,000,000 barrels or so at Cushing, OK, the futures delivery point.

With this enormous amount of outstanding open interest in the WTI contract, it can assumed there is a tremendous amount of speculation on both the price going up and down.

While some of those short positions may relate to spread trading, I am curious as to who is short selling a billion barrels of oil and why.

That's from "World Energy Outlook 2008" released almost three years ago. Strange that someone highlights it now.

One problem with using $ cost as a way to estimate how much oil is left is that high EROeI fuels subsidize low EROeI fuels. So what will happen as we run out of the cheap stuff is that the slightly more expensive will get a whole lot more expensive to produce. The lower the EROeI the higher the cost will go.

Normally reserves and resources are seperated by the "economically recoverable" barrier of cost. But it has been suggested instead that the line be defined by energy required to extract the resource. Put a 3:1 or 8:1 line and everything on the other side is unlikely to be extractd (as an energy source).

I read it as we have LOTS of potential sources of lubricating oil.

A truly high value use of petroleum.


I often read these articles hoping for some new insight from the cornucopian side. Needless to say, I end up disappointed.

It makes me think of Ricardo Montalbon: "Welcome to Fantasy Island!"

While we're at it, why don't we just add the methane on the moons of Jupiter to our resource base? Like you said, problem solved!

You meant to say moons of Saturn, even farther away.

Thanks! I'm astronomically challenged.

I'm sure ROCKMAN is reading this thread for ideas on his next nat gas gig...

steve - Actually up top is a story that sounds almost like a script for "FI": someone will build a pilot plant that can make ethanol from NG at less than half the cost of corn sourced ethanol. Think about the global ramifications: US NG prices are relatively cheap today thanks to the slack in industrial demand from the recession. So cheap the idea of shipping our NG via LNG tankers to the EU is starting to get a serious foothold. And I don't expect prices to rebound much for a few years. The SG players are also bidding their time for prices to regenerate their boom. Add that the govt dedication to blend more ethanol into our gasoline stocks. Add the growing negative PR about the US converting more of its farming output to fuel our car crazy public instead of helping feed the world...a world they may be getting close to a starvation fueled die off.

If the economics prove as good as offered suddenly we can start consuming our NG resources just as fast as we did our oil resource. Thus higher and sustained NG prices. Prices that will covert much of those trillions of cubic feet of shale gas RESOURCES into shale gas RESERVES. And once again Americans will see the ability to carry on BAU well into the future. Most understand the real problem with PO: it's not so much PO as PMF (Peak Motor Fuel) especially in the US. If in the next 10 years we could replace a meaningful percentage of our oil import demand with a domestic source of motor fuel it would give an fantastic boost to the oil patch. We could start cramming higher prices down the public's throat. And they might not be too upset with us. After all, we would be buying much less oil as a feedstock for motor fuel. And instead of shipping all that money to overseas producers that don't really like Americans consumers and are more than ready to abuse them, we'll be giving much of that money to the domestic oil patch that desn't really like Americans consumers and is more than ready to abuse them given the opportunity. Hey...better to give that money to a Texan then some dang "furner". At least IMHO.

I'm so giddy now my head is spinning.

Rockman, be nice to us. We deserve our giant trucks and cars and stuff.

OCT - I trust you read the big chunk of sarcasm spread between my lines. I've no doubt the public and our political leaders would be thrilled at the idea of using our remaining NG is an effort to keep driving as we were able to do by p*ssing away our oil reources.

I'm just one of the dealers...they are the addicts. NG converted to ethanol: the new methodone.

And all this coming from the IEA, folks that get paid to tell the truth.

I guess it all depends on what the definition of 'Truth' is... and how much it's worth to ya!

As with all cornucopian fantasies they completely fail to answer the obvious questions:

  • First, at what rate?
  • Second, at what cost?

Oh, sure, they take a wild stab at dollar costs, although these days one has to wonder about the utility of 2008 USD as any kind of measure for real wealth.

Either way, the second question is actually three questions:

  • What economic cost?
  • What cost to the environment?
  • What cost in energy?

In over five years of reading peak-oil "debate" (if that's what you call shouting past each other) I have yet to see any flavor of optimist answer those questions in any remotely meaningful way. This "9-trillion-barrels-waiting-to-be-plucked-like-a-tulip-on-tip-toes" article is obviously no exception. Tiny Tim would be proud.


I am guessing that the primary objection to these cornucopian scenarios is that failure to recognize that we have peaked or are about to peak breeds complacency. The idea is that the non complacent will take action. Taking action is commendable, I guess but what kind of action is likely to be taken if the people and the powers that be embrace peak oil now and not in the future. Hint: The response will not be a mass conservation/efficiency effort and a radical change in our high consumption lifestyle.

No. The response will be that we have plenty of coal, nuclear, natural gas, and renewables to replace oil. So, even if peak oil is widely accepted as fact, we will double down because after all we don't really need oil, anyway, so why worry.

And really, should we drill less to conserve a bit of oil for future generations? Well, that is futile because even if we stretch out oil's lifetime, we still will be faced with rapid decline at some point so problem not solved.

Whether we embrace peak oil or not is irrelevant. The planet will be fried in any event. Mass suicide might be helpful but I don't see that in the cards.

Darwinian. Your frequent posts on this subject are probably a useful tool for those desiring to embrace reality. However, the only foreseeable future is futility. Maybe a few, if they take the appropriate actions, can live a life of minimal dignity and comfort.

There are no solutions to peak oil but there are approaches, and these approaches will just accelerate the pain and agony which will be experienced in the future.

Developing countries can no longer afford to pay high oil prices:

Malawi fuel crisis

Question for an oil man.

Concerning EOR, what will be the effect of a water flooded reservoir on EOR? Will the fact that say, Ghawar is already flooded with water, have on the efforts to recover left behind oil deep in that water flooded limestone, or sandstone as the case may be from their more northern fields?

If they flood it with CO2 will they be able to recover lots of oil or just mostly seltzer water?

Ron P.

Not a real oilman, 'tho I play one on the internets.

CO2 EOR is almost exclusively being considered for mature fields, which invariably means waterflooded.


Nationally, the Department of Energy estimates that of 400 billion “stranded” barrels in place, more than 84 billion barrels of oil in existing U.S. oil fields could be recovered using CO2 EOR. At an oil price ranging between $50 and $100 a barrel, it is economically feasible to recover 39 billion-48 billion barrels. In the Gulf Coast region and in the northern Rockies–Denbury’s two main operational target areas–recovery estimates range from 3.4 billion-7.5 billion barrels and 1.3 billion–3.2 billion barrels, respectively.

In most U.S. oil fields, about one-third of the original oil in-place is recoverable through primary and secondary recovery methods, increasing to 50-60 percent with CO2 EOR.

The Saudi Arab-D already has high recovery factors, so whether or not it can yield even more is unclear. Also, a lot of left-behind oil in Ghawar is in thin zones in the top layers where the injected water couldn't access; getting the CO2 there isn't easy. But I think it is really a PR stunt anyway.

Ron - Unfortunately the is no easy/universal answer. How much additional oil might be recovered by tertiary CO2 injection into a water flooded reservoir? Anywhere from zero to a bunch. Taking some global estimate of residual oil in these reservoirs and saying X% could be recovered with CO2 is beyond absurd. First, many reservoir can't recover residual oil with a water flood in the first place. There are billions of bbls of oil left in certain reservoirs in S Texas where not one bbl of additional oil could be profitably recovered with a water flood...been tried many times and always failed. OTOH, if there were CO2 available a good bit of that oil might be recovered. But it isn't so it won't.

The dynamics of secondary (like water flood) and tertiary (like CO2 injection) recovery methods are extreme field specific. And even then we make a best guess model and get after it. I've seen the majority of all secondary recovery efforts I've been involved with fail to come close to the best case scenario.

"If they flood it with CO2 will they be able to recover lots of oil or just mostly seltzer water?" I'm sure there are two models out there: one says it will work great and the other says it will be a money loser. If they pull trigger only then will we find out who's correct.

Hey, RM. I just had a thought, and maybe you can fill me in. What happens to all that CO2 that is injected to remove oil. Does it ALL stay in the ground, some of it, most of it, or none of it?

Just wondering, since CO2 seems to be a problem if it gets loose up here above the ground.


CO2 floods work because the CO2 dissolves into the oil (or occasionally vice versa), so there always has to be some CO2 coming back up. Economics determine how much. If you are being paid to put CO2 into the ground and not having to pay for the CO2 coming back up, you can expect that an awful lot of it will come back out again.

If you want CO2 to stay in the ground, you inject it into a saline aquifer. The actual capacity is far greater than in oil fields, the chemistry locks it in, and there isn't any production well for it to come back out of.

Change of pace from the Heat, it's even hot in Maine.

"Chile declares snow 'catastrophe'
Storms isolate thousands; pipes, gas tanks freeze in mountainous Auracania region


Stay cool.

Don in Maine

Thanks Don!

It hit 90 here at 10:00 this morning (central New Hampshire), headed for who-knows-where. It took until 1:00 to hit 90 yesterday...

Think snow! ;-)

102ºF in Newark right now, 11:58am.

107ºF at 3:41 pm. All time, not daily, record WAS 105.

Unseasonably cool in San Gabriel: 85F in the shade in my backyard.

A few seasons ago I lamented that around this time it was 113F.


"Total of 1,048 records Broken (541), or tied (507) so far. Source: National Climatic Data Center."

Gee. I wonder what is going on. Is this part of a trend? Ask Inhofe.

As I understand it is not the record highs that matter as much as the record minimum temperatures with respect to GW. Average temperatures are expected to go higher but that is mainly driven by minimum temperatures being higher rather than high temperatures going higher.

Oklahoma has been hit pretty hard:


If there are karma gods, they are shouting at Inhofe...

Those angry gods are always playing with us humans, lol. I guess over the course of history we have blamed the gods for our lack of foresight. Even though natural disasters cannot be stopped, we do not need to build nuclear plants on the ring of fire, for example.

Maybe, just maybe, we have something to do with the climate.

But I fear humans are a force of nature that cannot be stopped and so it goes. The new natural disaster of our lifetimes. Human overpopulation.

I'm meteorologically challenged - does a heatwave now going into hurricane season have any bearing on the severity of future hurricanes?

Or is the heatwave caused by a high front that dissipates and will have no connection to storms brewing in the Atlantic . . .


Ocean water temperatures matter very much in hurricane strength (less so the #). But we are NOT sweltering down here on the Gulf. Rain and high of 86 today. No rain yesterday and a high of 91. Dewpoints typical 71 to 74 F.

Best Hopes for more pleasant summer days :-)


Nice. It's been 100 plus in DFW for 22 days running. Not been below 80 at night either, which is an important measure. There has been on record (all time, that is) and that was the low temp one morning last week.

Rain will cool ya off, Alan, and the clouds will shade the sun from Big Easy. Out in the Gulf, it depends on water temp. Who has reliable data on where they are today, compared with other years?

Anyway, that is where you need to look, of course. From my bit of reading on the subject, high pressure is a big warming factor over water. First of all it compresses the air, heating it. And, it is clear and allows sunlight through to the water, where it is warmed even more.

It would seem, just from playing a mind game, that heating the atmosphere would raise air pressure, thereby acting as a climate forcing mechanism. Just a theory on my part. I can study climate data, and see if reality matches my simple theory. Then it would be either confirmed or not. Being a skeptic, I would accept either.

Right now I'm working 60 hrs a week and don't really have much time to do the science. It is on my to do list. LOL


The cycle of daily thunderstorms extract energy from the Gulf of Mexico, which is very good.

Best Hopes for 2 PM Thunderstorns :-)


Depends on the sea surface temperature rather than the air temperature. Check here


Go back through the nhc site and you will find more than you ever wanted to know. We have Dora going past, right now, and it is dying as it runs into cooler water. It is actually bringing the warmer air in, rather than being affected by the air, so we have had a record 34 today :( I tend to keep a watch as we can be badly affected.


Thank you all - comments and link brought back memories of old science classes. And you made me go read, as I should have!

Wow! Ask and you shall receive. I guess if I had been patient and read one more post, I would have seen this before my post above. And now no excuse for not doing a part of the science.

Still missing: Long term historical data. How do these rather grim maps showing high oceanic temps compare with other years?

So, where in Mexico are you? Lets see... (9/5 x 34) + 32 is 93.2f? Warm, not hot, but a record - so, on the coast?


Yep, coast, wild wild west of Mexico. We were 3 degrees above the average and broke the 1997 record for the day by a degree. It's not so much the raw heat, I've been in 45 degree heat that felt about the same, it is the humidity. We are running between 60% and 100% - typically 70%-80%. When we hit 90/90 weather it is bad (90F/90% - all other degrees in C). People actually return to Florida to cool off. Looked like a storm tonight but it can't make its mind up and the satellite IR is out at the resolution I need to see. Weather forecasting here is no good, we have about 7 micro climates so I rely on the sats, combined with local geography to get an idea of what will happen hence I follow the hurricane sites.


EDIT Sorry I missed the other bit. Go through the NHC site, I seem to recall some stuff there. Try looking in the El Nino/La Nina bit too.

I'm using a 8K BTU/10.8EER window air to cool the whole 3br ranch we live in. Central air is dead (i killed it i think) and it was big $$$ to replace. Screw them. I only need it 2 weeks out of the year (if that). The past few summers I rarely needed AC. Even with heat index above 110F, I still keep it 78F or less throughout the house. This unit pulls 735-740 watts on the killawatt.

I've heard thieves are stealing window air units. Can't wait until one goes for mine. He's not going to get far before someone is pulling on the other end of that power cord.

"I've heard thieves are stealing window air units."

Perhaps you should get a shotgun. I hear when the average thug hears the sound of a shotgun pump-- the fear of god runs through them and they run away pretty rapidly. I hear you do not even need ammo. Just the sound of the gun's pump is plenty of deterrent.

Once a religious place of worship was being "modified" by skinheads regularly (down in the South). Friends of mine sleep their with empty shotguns and just cocked them all when the skinheads showed up with their spray paint cans. Problem solved, they said.

I run an even smaller 5000 btu/500watt window A/C in the family room aka kids' TV room.

I don't care if the house elsewhere gets warm, and happy to report even when it was 113F a few years ago, the one room stayed at 85F or less.

So I would advocate non-BAU thinking, and have people focus on a 'safe-room' to keep safe/comfortable, and forget whole house, or even zone cooling.

I can handle some heat, but once you throw in humidity, I'm done. Once that dew point creeps up towards 70F, its time to shut up the house and turn on the AC. The biggest annoyance is trying to sleep. Wake up all sweaty and greasy.

I try to turn off everything else. TV gets turned off, lights are a no no until sun goes down. Too bad I can't store all this heat for winter (Areas like Milwaukee, WI do with Lake Michigan acting as a giant heat sink).

You east coast folks need to head up. Mt Washington is in the 60F's:

Tomorrow promises to be the warmest day of the heat wave, with highs expected in the upper 60's. That will be close to the daily record for July 22nd of 68 degrees, but shouldn't challenge our all-time record high of 72 degrees set back in August of 1975 and then tied in June of 2003.


It's Hot in Rangeley... Last night it never really cooled off, rare for up here.

Alberta Wind Rush

I was surprised to find how much new wind is contracted to be built in Alberta. I added up the upcoming projects and found 7,095 MW is scheduled to come on-line by 2015. In addition, 807 MW is already on-line.

Ontario and Quebec also have significant new windfarms coming on-line, but I was more aware of these. Alberta is a surprise to me.

Download pdf from here

Best Hopes for Renewable Energy,


Southwestern Alberta is probably one of the best places in the world to build windfarms. The wind blows hard and it blows consistently.

The saying in the town of Pincher Creek (the heart of wind country) is that, "If the wind ever stopped blowing, the whole town would fall down because the buildings only have foundations on one side", and "People here don't know how to walk without something to lean against." Also, "There are a lot of crashes at the airport because some planes can't fly fast enough to land there".

Humor aside, I have to add that I have driven through SW Alberta numerous times when the wind turbines were sitting idle. You can't count on the wind, even where it is highly reliable. I keep warning people about this characteristic of wind power - there are times when the wind doesn't blow - but people do their best to ignore the issue. They should pay attention, because this is an important problem with wind power, and even in SW Alberta they only get about 35% utilization out of the turbines.

There are also people who get upset every time I talk about riding the wind-powered electric trains to work in Calgary, which of course I did for years. There's nothing impossible about it, it's just a matter of getting the engineering details right.

Anyhow, it is true that there are about 7,000 MW of wind power projects that people want to build in SW Alberta. The only constraint is the lack of transmission lines to take it to market and balance the load against the other power sources, one of which is cogen plants in the oil sands in NE Alberta. One of my skiing buddies is working on that problem, but I haven't seen much of him lately. He has several billion dollars worth of transmission lines to build and he's pretty busy these days.

Either BC Hydro and/or Manitoba Hydro could play Norway to Alberta's Denmark.

Please contact me @ alan_drake at ju no period conn (normalized).

Best Hopes,


PS: The 35% refers to total MWh generated divided by hours in year x rated capacity.

A 1.5 MW wind turbine that put out a constant 0.5 MW 24/7 would have a rating of 33.3%. Wind is more reliable than many realize.

Alberta has its own (relatively modest compared to BC and MB) hydroelectric dams, plus about 5000 MW in natural gas generating capacity. Every old natural gas processing plant I have driven past recently seems to have a brand new natural gas peaking power plant next to it.

A 1.5 MW wind turbine puts out zero watts if the wind doesn't blow. That's when they have to light up the gas turbines.

A classic situation occurred in Ontario recently when a huge continent-wide high pressure trend set in and temperatures hit record highs in many cities. At the same time, the total output of Ontario's 1300 MW of wind turbines fell to 10 watts. Not 10 MW, 10 watts. Fortunately its defective old nuclear power plants were still operational and its polluting old coal plants still worked. NG and hydro made up the rest.

And in mid-January of this year Texas had only limited blackouts because of wind generation.

Coal plants froze up. NG supplies ran short. 3.5 to 4 GW of wind limited the blackouts to a maximum of 4 GW.

Absent wind displacing NG earlier, NG supplies would have run short earlier and stayed short longer (till it warmed up ?).

Best Hopes for more Wind (and Hydro and Solar and Geothermal and Biomass),


Excellent news.

I keep checking, almost daily, California's reported utility power contributions from wind and PV. Some days I see that wind contributed 2+GW for hours at a time (today only 1.8GW peaked, and down around noon).

So far the PV contribution has only been peaking at about 1/2 GW, so I really hope PV will scale up to 2+GW as well, as often it seems wind and PV are inverse to when they provide the most utility power to California.

( http://www.caiso.com/Pages/TodaysOutlook.aspx )

From "5 Things You Didn't Know About Oil" above:

"Some industry experts forecast an optimistic trend that predicts the year 2020 to be the year when global production would peak and slowly begin its downward spiral resulting in the research and sourcing of other possible resources to replace crude oil."

Peak Oil in 2020 is now the "optimistic" position! Folks, that's just 9 years off!

Eight and a half years away.

Best Hopes for not Waiting,


Norway: Blast near prime minister's office in Oslo

A large explosion has hit near government headquarters in the Norwegian capital Oslo.

The blast is thought to have caused damage to the offices of Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and a number of other official buildings.

Initial reports suggested Mr Stoltenberg was unharmed.

At least eight people were injured in the city centre explosion, local media reports. No-one has said they were behind the attack.

Television footage from the scene showed rubble and glass from shattered windows in the streets - smoke was around some buildings. The wreckage of at least one car was in street.

BBC now reporting Norwegian Oil Ministry is reported to be on fire.

Here are 2 live Norwegian links to the scenes .. Windows blown out as far away as 1 km from blast-center..

Here is the very latest on the attacks 1) bomb-blast and 2) attack on youth camp ... from Norway's largest tabloid - Google-translated.


Telegraph reporting one dead.

Looks like a large car bomb. Islamists are the only known threat in the country. The large bomb in public without warning is in their style. Norway is not geared up for this sort of thing. They are used to peace and quiet. That must have made them an easy target.

Who else would want to do this? Greenpeace don't want arctic drilling. PETA hate whale hunting. Neither are into indiscriminate murder.

What a sad world we live in.

The photos they're showing here don't look like a car bomb. The damage seems to be on top of the building, rather than on the bottom as you see with car/truck bombs.

There's some talk of a heliport, but the reports are still so garbled that I'm not sure if they're saying that was the source of the explosion.

BBC have shown a photo of what appears to be the remains of a vehicle which may have been a "car-bomb". The building with flames seen from the upper floor windows is the Oil and Gas Ministry according to BBC again.

Definitely looks like the flames are coming from beneath the heliport. Maybe they had aviation fuel for refueling there, and it caught fire in the explosion?

The Norwegians are VERY safety orientated (much lower accident rate in North Sea than GoM despite much worse conditions).

Putting flammable liquids on top of a office building just does not seem Norwegian to me.

But better an accident than an attack.


Rune, TOD staffer and Norwegian, says it's looking like there were multiple bombs. Some of the buildings affected were on different streets, so one car-bomb seems unlikely. The Ministry of Oil and Energy is hard-hit, and they are on the 8th floor. How would a street-level car bomb do that?

Looks like this may be a very large attack.

Police chief asked about multiple bombs - he said if there were then they all exploded absolutely simultaneously.

All (almost) speculations goes towards at least one very large car bomb, and if you've seen the pictures it's hard to disagree.

Norway's ground zero - the shock-wave reached far an wide.. All enhanced buildings are governmental Ministries.

There are also reports of a second bomb, still to be confirmed.

Holy cow, that would be a bloody huge bomb. I'm surprised the oil ministry building is still standing.

Secondary explosion footage http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbCCR3YKnM8

..."they are on the 8th floor. How would a street-level car bomb do that?"

Oklahoma City, one vehicle, on the street:


Sure, but look at it...the damage is worst on the bottom. It was the same with the Beirut barracks bombing. The Oslo building is relatively undamaged. Except the smoke pouring out of the top corner.

I'm not questioning that there may have been more than one explosion. There are many variables: distance from intended target, type of bomb(s), structures interfering/directing explosion. In OK City, adjacent buildings were damaged, many only well above street level.

Beirut was a collapse situation (I was on liberty in Haifa; got recalled to help pick up the pieces.....).

I am a little dumbfounded...what in the World has Norway done to garner the attention of terrorists?

The Norwegian Special Forces won two US Presidential Unit Citations in Afghanistan. One for all Allied Special Forces, one just for them (details secret).

But it may have been Norwegian Right Wingers. The gunman at the camp was apparently a native Norwegian.

Words cannot fully express my sympathy and respect for the Norwegians,


Supposedly it was outrage over republishing of the infamous Dutch cartoons. But, we'll have to wait for the investigation. I would have thought Norway would be near the bottom of anyone's hate list.

"Massacre suspect is Norwegian"

"Anders Behring Breivik, age 32, a self-described nationalist with no criminal record who was opposed to Islam and to a multi-cultural society.

could be tied to right-wing extremists with a grudge against the left-wing Labour Party."


Facebook page mirror:

Facebook page PDF:

Twitter page:

Wikipedia page:

Fox News:

Tragic and mind-boggling. Spree killers usually get maybe 10 or 20 victims. He now holds the world record for spree killing, by a lot.

I'm reading 87 dead, most of them on the island. Which means most of them young. An act of pure hate.

I included the Fox News article to illustrate the propaganda mechanisms of a sympathetic media machine. The article is by -James Jay Carafano: Director of The Heritage Foundation’s Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies.-

Living in my car, I am somehow better informed and have superior research capabilities. KD

He now holds the world record

Perhaps we are overlooking a few minor historical figures who have gone on population reductions sprees:

Kehmer Rouge

but in terms of individual (lone gun) killers, the following site indicates you might be right:

I used the term "spree killer" for a reason. It has a very specific meaning.

Picture of suspect from his Facebook Page (now deleted) but mirrored at http://publicintelligence.net/mirror-of-ut%C3%B8ya-gunman-anders-behring...

Not exactly your typical Islamic terrorist....

I'm hearing reports now that there were two gunmen at the camp. Dunno if it's true or not, but it would help explain that terrible death toll.

BBC reporting that second suspect arrested on island not thought to be connected but arrested because he was found with a weapon (a knife I think was said) and they are taking no chances. Not sure if he is the same person reported earlier as possible second attacker.

Edit: Now seeing unconfirmed reports that Breivik is the real identity of anonymous Norwegian blogger Fjordman. Breivik himself claimed over a year ago that he was Fjordman but a post apparently appeared from Fjordman denying this yesterday. Some further speculation that multiple authors posted under the "Fjordman" identity. It's all very murky.

Fjordman was widely regarded by other blogs critical of Islam as an expert in his field. Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch calls him the "great European essayist"[2] and "the superb European writer".[3] He is generally referred to as the "noted"[4][5][6] blogger.

His articles, which are often lengthy, are widely quoted in various blogs and right-wing sites critical of Islam, such as Global Politician,[7] FrontPageMag,[8] Jihad Watch,[9] Brussels Journal,[10] Faith Freedom International,[11] Little Green Footballs,[12] Free Republic and Daily Pundit[13] among others, and quite often printed verbatim. Earlier, he also wrote sporadically for the Norwegian site Document.no.[14]

He has also been cited in books and articles as a representative of anti-Muslim viewpoints.[15][16][17][18] He contributed with an appendix in the 2010 book by Ole Jørgen Anfindsen, Selvmordsparadigmet – hvordan politisk korrekthet ødelegger samfunnet (lit. "The Suicide Paradigm – how political correctness destroys society").[19]

The national TV just said that it was a car bomb down on the street. "Helpers of the Global Jihad" have called in and claimed responsibility.



Edit: I hope the media is going to keep calling this terrorism, now that it seems the perpetrator was Norwegian. The death toll is rising, now 94, and there probably are people drowned that haven't been accounted for yet.

"Many dead" - Labour Party Youth secretary Adrian Pracon at the scene of the conference 10 mins ago.

Now reports that shots fired at a Norwegian Labour Party youth camp by someone dressed as a policeman.

Edit: Conference on island of Utoya near Oslo. PM was due to attend (that may have been tomorrow but a former PM was definitely due to speak today). Reports of possible ongoing siege situation there. Further reports at least 4 dead and possibly many injured.

Video from camp taken yesterday - they have nothing but tents and trees to hide behind. Some people (age range 15-25) said to be trying to swim to the mainland to escape.

Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eakm0tJqVYE

UPDATE: Reports suspect arrested (not shot?). Suspect described as "Tall, blonde and Nordic looking"

Media is reporting 20-30 dead in the shooting, with many more injured. Jeez, I hope that's an exaggeration.

Official police figure now stands at 10 confirmed dead on the island. However one local reporter says there may be other bodies in the river and the confirmed count could increase. Police spokesman just confirmed they believe the arrested shooter is the same person seen on CCTV near the bomb site in Oslo earlier. Added information is that he appears to be a native speaker of Norwegian as well as appearing Nordic.

He apparently gathered people around him saying that he had been sent to protect them after the Oslo bombing and then opened fire.

Political cartoons....

CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank said it was far too early to draw any conclusions on whether it was terrorism and who would carry it out. But, he said, by looking at the extent of the damage, it was plain to see the hallmarks of a major attack.

Cruickshank said that in recent months, there had been increased "chatter" about Norway, which had been investigating militants suspected of being linked to al Qaeda.

Norway also drew the ire of al Qaeda for publishing the controversial political cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that appeared in a Danish newspaper and sparked outrage in the militant Islamic community.

There are some witnesses who claimed that the shooter had blonde hair, was tall and had Nordic appearance. It could be a convert to some islamist group, but if not then this complicates the whole 'muslim/islamist attack' meme.

The Norwegian police has already busted the shooter, but wouldn't confirm or deny his identity. They also claim that they suspect the two incidents are linked.

I hope all our Norwegian followers and families are safe and we should send our wishes to the Norwegian people.

I'm not good at this stuff.


87 dead (most of them youths on the island), apparently a right-wing extremist did it.

Latest news in US hostage crisis :-


Reauthorization for FAA being held up due to attempts to strip union rights. That's ok - who needs to fly anyway ?

(/sarc) - hmmm...maybe not...perhaps we'll have clear skies for a while.

More at this link :-


Another edit - relax, air travelers, you'll still be able to fly. You just won't be paying federal taxes on your air tickets :-


But if you rely on a rural airport, it may soon no longer exist.

I chose the stability of a government job as opposed to the private sector when I joined the FAA as a systems specialist. I hope collapse is kind to the aviation sector for a few more years.

"Stability" is somewhat relative these days.

I was less enlightened than I am today.

China makes nuclear power breakthrough

AFP - China said Friday it had hooked its first so-called "fourth generation" nuclear reactor to the grid, a breakthrough that could eventually reduce its reliance on uranium imports. The experimental fast-neutron reactor is the result of more than 20 years of research and could also help minimise radioactive waste from nuclear energy, the state-run China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE) said.
The fourth-generation reactor, located just outside Beijing, has a capacity of just 20 megawatts. Other recently launched nuclear reactors in China had a capacity of more than one gigawatt, or 1,000 megawatts.

The latest technological step comes after China succeeded in reprocessing spent nuclear fuel in an experimental reactor in the northwestern province of Gansu in January.

Authorities said this would help extend the lifespan of proven uranium deposits to 3,000 years from the current forecast of 50-70 years.

At least China is not giving up.

located just outside Beijing

The USA put most of it's experimental reactors in a remote valley in Idaho.


Why does this get labeled a "breakthrough"? From this story and others, we know: (1) fast neutron spectrum, (2) uranium-plutonium fuel cycle, (3) probably sodium cooled, and (4) not commercial scale. It's not like the same thing hasn't been done before. Just to pick one, you could say almost exactly the same things about the US EBR-II in 1969: fast neutrons, uranium-plutonium, on-site reprocessing, sodium cooled, 19 MWe used commercially (provided much of the power for ANL-West), and passive safety features. What's their next step? Recreate the fast flux test facility the US operated in 1982?

For various reasons, I'm a believer in nuclear, and for uranium, fast-neutron reactors of some sort. Among other things, they have the potential to allow the US to make use of the half-million tons or so of depleted uranium that's sitting in warehouses, already mined and refined. But this story certainly reads like China has reinvented something, not developed something new.

Due to non-proliferation concerns, each country has to do the development of this type of reactor on its own, or with the assitance of allies. I believe that the Russians assisted the Chinese.

Hey don't be bitter ;) Aint you in the project group or what?
They get credit because they are building SOMETHING even if it is reinventing. What other country except China (india?) is bold to take a new step in this direction?
If you are pro 4th nuclear - rejoice.

If you are pro 4th nuclear - rejoice.


Just to ask the obvious and usual TOD follow-up questions on the reactor:
- Overall lifetime cost per watt of energy produced?
- More or less expensive than current US$ 2/watt for retail home PV?

Look up the physical properties of Sodium if you want to decide how rational this is. ;>(

Sir, I watched Mythbusters when they played with Sodium ;D

Re: Celanese to Make Low-Cost Ethanol From Gas if U.S. Policy Changes, up top:

There are a couple of problems for Celanese. First the Renewable Fuel Standard. Ethanol from natural gas is not a renewable fuel. It is fossil fuel based:

The problem is that natural gas isn't renewable.

"That absolutely is not going to be qualifying as a bio fuel under the Renewable Fuel Standard, and there's no way around that," said Paul Niznik, bio fuels manager for Hart Energy, a consulting and publishing company for the energy industry. "Ethanol that's not from a renewable source would not have any incentives on it to be used as a transportation fuel."...

"If it's cheaper, the refiners are going to use it. But the problem they are going to have is the refiners have a mandate in place" to use renewable fuel, McAdams said. "You can't just use natural gas and receive any consideration under RFS. It is excluded by definition."


Secondly, natural gas from ethanol is indistinguishable from corn ethanol chemically. Ethanol opponents have been very successful in bad mouthing ethanol to the point that ethanol subsidies are being reduced.

Now comes natural gas ethanol to enter a market that is near saturation. Corn ethanol is currently cheaper than cane ethanol from Brazil. If natural gas ethanol bullies its way into the renewable fuels category, excess corn ethanol will be shipped to Brazil.

Thirdly, EROEI for natural gas ethanol is less than 1 if I remember correctly. It is about .6 or .7. EROEI believers have had a field day knocking corn ethanol because of low EROEI of around 1.3.

I do not accept EROEI theory, but most people here do. This will be a good test to see if EROEI believers will take a dimmer view of natural gas ethanol than corn ethanol.

It may not help corn ethanol, but natural gas ethanol is a no brainer from a practical point of view. It allows natural gas to be used by the current vehicle infrastructure without expensive conversions and natural gas is cheap on a BTU basis at the moment.

But EROEI will have to thrown out the window. No big loss.

Gasoline sold for $27 per million btu, while residential natural gas for heating sold for $14 per million btu. If they lose nearly half the natural gas in the process they could just break even. The spread between natural gas and oil will need to widen further and I think that is unlikely to happen. Natural gas is used to produce the goods to purchase the oil. If it gets too expensive, it lowers the surplus available to purchase oil and that pulls down the oil price.


Corn Ethanol has many strikes against it:

It does have a low EROeI which means it is not a renewable fuel. It is reprocessed natural gas and oil and it will go away at the same time as oil and natural gas. Thus it is a dead end technology. It is no more renewable than the technology you cited.

Secondly, it consumes valuable farm acerage that could be used to grow food for humans. Tens of millions are dying of starvation.

I have no problem subsidizing farmers (I would prefer that the profits being earned by everyone else in the ag business were shared with farmers instead however) but I want to subsidize farmers to grow healthy, non-toxic food. And that is what I do when I pay more for local organic. I just wish that was national policy and not just personal preference.

We may have reached peak ethanol from corn. The meteoric rise in ethanol production has greatly helped in offsetting the fall in oil imports. No more.

EIA data

If you subtract away the natural gas and oil that went into the ethanol production then you get something like (1 - 1 / 1.2 EROeI) * 880 = 146. And that replaced the MBTE made from natural gas. At a cost higher than just paying for the oil. And a cost of food prices rising.

The more dead ends we invest in, the deeper the plunge. Those subsidy billions would have been much better spent on 20:1 wind farms and the transmission lines needed to bring that power to market.

They need to do something about corn. Grow something more like sugar cane that can be converted more efficiently. With how hot and humid most of the growing region is for corn, you would think they could come up with some other crop.

Actually, I'm with you on EROIE.

However, how is the Renewable Fuel Standard worded? It can certainly be argued that corn ethanol uses a fair amount of natural gas, even though most of the energy comes from the sun. Is there a limit somewhere?

Thirdly, EROEI for natural gas ethanol is less than 1 if I remember correctly.

Of course you can't get more back than you put it. From a CO2 emissions standpoint, though, I would be interested in how much natural gas it takes to make a gallon of ethanol.

Secondly, natural gas from ethanol is indistinguishable from corn ethanol chemically.

I think you intended to say "ethanol from natural gas is indistinguishable from corn ethanol chemically".

In any case, it can be distinguished by looking at the C isotope ratios. Carbon in corn has a distinct 13C/12C ratio, and will also have 14C whereas that from ancient methane will not.

It could be an interesting dynamic, though. If they can really make it for $1.50/gal, it would cap corn ethanol use at whatever the mandate is. Could it open up a bigger market for higher-ethanol fuels? Maybe. But they are dreaming about getting a subsidy.

[Edit] Starting with the amount of carbon in a gallon of ethanol (1.56 kg), it would take about 92 cubic feet of natural gas to account for this. This would cost about 30-40 cents. Probably more gas consumed, though, plus capital and operations costs.

RFS has a maximum amount of non advanced bio fuels essentially corn based ethanol that can be used towards meeting the blender mandates.If memory serves me right it is about 13bN gallons. The targets for advanced bio fuels were revised sharply downwards because cellulosic ethanol has turned out be such a bust so far. The big problem with the RFS mandate is that at 10% ethanol/gasoline blend and about 140 million gallons of gasoline consumption they are up against the blend wall-there is just no further room to increase the content of ethanol in gasoline hence the push to get E-15 approved.

x- I agree with you except that EROEI won't be thrown out the window...it was never in the building in the first place. The folks building that pilot plan can't spell EROEI. It will be all about rate of return in $'s. NG sources ethanol will hinge on that IMHO and not any concept of EROEI...just like the drilling buisness. Not to say EROEI isn't important...we just don't care. We exist to make profits...not efficiencies.

EROEI will not apply in a meaningful way in this case of turning hydrocarbon gases into ethanol. All cases of energy conversion will inevitably have an EROEI less than 1. EROEI will be relevant to a energy extraction process from an energy deposit. Otherwise we talk about conversion efficiency.

When one extracts energy from a reservoir of some sorts, it be coal or petroleum, one will expend energy to extract the energy stored. In such a situation EROEI will be a meaningful concept.

The EROEI, hopefully being (much) higher than 1 can then be said to indicate whether one is actually achieving to extract a net energy contribution.

In this case, it is assumed that the natural gas is already extracted. Rather, I think that EROEI applies to the extraction of the gas, and a conversion efficiency of turning natural gas into ethanol, the same way you would turn crude oil into finished products.

Natural gas to ethanol - why bother?

Better off to just make methanol, and stop there. You have a better energy yield, and the methanol can be mixed in with ethanol and into petroleum fuels.
Current US regulations allow up to 3% methanol in fuel - so that would would be about 4.5 bn gallons of methanol a year before that market is saturated.

That said, this is an interesting move - no subsidies for corn ethanol so now, if you can produce it cheaper some other way, you are in the game. I'll bet the oil majors - who are now becoming gas majors - are watching this closely. I'm sure they'd love to turn the cheap SG into a higher value liquid fuel, cheaply.
And if they were smart and then sold the SG derived ethanol cheaply, in SG producing areas, they might just get some support for the fracking to produce the gas.

Right now the numbers on EROEI that I think seem close to the truth are .8 for Corn and 1.2 for Sugar Cane. I am starting to try to understand ALL the variables though. I know they are grown and grow in different regions for a reason. That being said, does anyone have a link that would shed light on how much water for X amounts of corn vs. sugar cane? Add to that the same kind of data for fertilizer and pesticides. I have plenty of anecdotal evidence that Cane requires more water and fertilizer and corn requires more pesticides. Don't even know if they are close or not for Oil consumption from planting, harvesting, tranportaion, procesing, etc.

The whole Ethanol debate reminds me the old saying: "We loose a little bit of money on each sale, but will make it up in volume."

IEA says no more SPR releases needed


More of Earlier Reported Position,


The Sunshine State (my late review of the weekly oil inventory report)

As much of the United States baked under the sunny glare of record high temperatures, Midwest refiners also took advantage of the sunny refining situation in the that geographic area. Benefitting from both the low (relative) price of WTI (West Texas Intermediate) oil and high demand (where regional shortages were starting develop a month or so ago), Midwest refiners stepped up output essentially up to the maximum possible.

Despite a widespread perception that the US economy is growing sluggishly at best, and is suffering under the impact of much higher transportation fuel prices, MasterCard’s SpendingPlus reported that the volume of US gasoline sales in the latest week actually exceeded that of the comparable year ago week:

July 19, 2011, 2:23 p.m. EDT
U.S. gasoline use rose 3.7% in latest week


But strong demand isn’t limited to just gasoline. Diesel demand has also been strong:

API reports drop in US oil production
By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, July 21 -- US crude oil production fell to a 2-year low and showed year-over-year declines for the second month in a row, according to the latest monthly data from the American Petroleum Institute.

Ultralow-sulfur diesel demand continued to post strong numbers over 2010, achieving a record high, API said. Total demand for distillate fuel oil in June climbed 7.2% from May and was up 5.4% in the first half compared with a year earlier.


Even in the face of US transportation fuel demand that is almost insensitive to price changes, the IEA was still satisfied that further oil reserve releases would for now be unnecessary.

The IEA, while not happy with OPEC’s response to the complete loss of 1.35 mbpd or more of high quality oil exports from Libya, none the less had some expectation that OPEC would step up exports to the IEA member states. This hope may be misplaced. With the notable exception of Japan, in recent months OPEC has not increased exports to IEA members.

According to the latest report from oil tanker tracker, Oil Movements, while OPEC exports are higher than in recent weeks, they are still about 1.1 mbpd less the amount shipped about the start of February 2011.

In the last week, Mideast OPEC members have made few final arrangements to ship oil in August. Possibly they are just waiting to see if the IEA really means what it says about not planning another oil reserve release. But there is another possibility – the hot and sunny summer skies in the Persian Gulf region have also increased their oil product demand, where their recently increased oil output would be used domestically, to be refined and otherwise used for air conditioning, driving, and water processing. Ultimately their sunshine state may be more important to them.

Peak Oil, Peak Credit, and Peak Irrigation:

The shrinkage of irrigation water supplies in the big three grain-producing countries — the United States, India, and China — is of particular concern. Thus far, these countries have managed to avoid falling harvests at the national level, but continued overexploitation of aquifers could soon catch up with them.

In most of the leading U.S. irrigation states, the irrigated area has peaked and begun to decline. In California, historically the irrigation leader, a combination of aquifer depletion and the diversion of irrigation water to fast-growing cities has reduced irrigated area from nearly 9 million acres in 1997 to an estimated 7.5 million acres in 2010. (One acre equals 0.4 hectares.) In Texas, the irrigated area peaked in 1978 at 7 million acres, falling to some 5 million acres as the Ogallala aquifer underlying much of the Texas panhandle was depleted....

Probably picking a nit here, but using California and Texas as examples for irrigation limits in a story about grain production is misleading. The big three grains globally are corn, rice, and wheat. The US is the biggest global producer of corn, fifth in wheat, and not even in the top ten for rice. California and Texas are insignificant states for production of either corn or wheat.

A story about grain and the impact of water limits in the US would have to focus on the corn belt (parts of the eastern Great Plains, and the prairie regions across Iowa and Illinois) and the wheat regions (winter wheat centered in Kansas and spring wheat across the northern tier of states from Minnesota to Washington).

Of course, it's hard to write an "OMG, peak water!" story about grain in the US this year -- two of those three US grain areas have had more problems with too much water rather than too little.

It's clear you didn't read the linked story: China, India, Middle East, more, all discussed. The picture at the top is of a farmer in Bangladesh, irrigating his rice.

"A story about grain and the impact of water limits in the US would have to focus on the corn belt (parts of the eastern Great Plains, and the prairie regions across Iowa and Illinois) and the wheat regions (winter wheat centered in Kansas and spring wheat across the northern tier of states from Minnesota to Washington)."

From the article:

Other states with shrinking irrigated area include Arizona, Colorado, and Florida. All three states are suffering from both aquifer depletion and the diversion of irrigation water to urban centers. And now that the states that were rapidly expanding their irrigated area, such as Nebraska and Arkansas, are starting to level off, the prospects for any national growth in irrigated area have faded. With water tables falling as aquifers are depleted under the Great Plains and California’s Central Valley, and with fast-growing cities in the Southwest taking more and more irrigation water, the U.S. irrigated area has likely peaked.

...but then, looking before leaping seems to have fallen out of vogue these days.

Thanks for the link Ghung. You are correct one must read the entire article, and boy what an article. Everywhere, in China, India, Mexico, Pakistan and everywhere in the Middle water tables are falling like a rock and grain production is falling just as fast. Grain production in Jordan, for instance, has fallen by 80 percent and they now must import 90 percent of their grain.

Overpopulation is the problem of course. The world now demands more grain than can be produced without depleting the aquifers. Soon the aquifers will produce no more water and then grain production production will dry up just as the aquifers have.

This is a classic example of overshoot.

Ron P.

Posted at LA Times yesterday :-


"The world's biggest problem? Too many people
Our unsustainable population levels are depleting resources and denying a decent future to our descendants. We must stop the denial."

Lester Brown has just been talking to the host (Michael Smercanish) on MSNBC about this topic. (4.44pm CDT)

I'm amazed to hear it on the MSM.

Not dollar, not euro, but gold

Growing concerns about the slow death of the dollar rather than a saviour's goodwill are underpinning China's widely publicised purchases of European government debt, according to experts. But as the Eurozone debt crisis spreads from Greece and Portugal to countries like Italy and threatens the very survival of the euro, China's finance mandarins and keepers of the country's 3 trillion dollars foreign reserves are looking yet again at gold as the anchor of stability.

... In June Xia Bin, an adviser to China's Central Bank said the country's reserve strategy needed an "urgent" overhaul. Instead of buying government debt from the West, China should invest in strategic assets and accumulate gold by "buying the dips", he was quoted as saying. So far Beijing has admitted to have doubled its gold reserves to 1,054 tonnes or 54 billion dollars, and said it has plans to raise it to 8,000 tonnes.

Poor China, late to the party, brought all the right stuff but the music stopped.

What are they going to do? They put everyone to work doing what the working classes did in the west and sold it all on credit. Now their #1 customer is looking a little unreliable and they look to their secondary customers but their credit stinks too. But they have 1.3 billion mouths to feed.

If they buy gold instead of selling on credit their customers won't be able to buy anything.

Starting down that slippery slope...

Hyatt apologizes for turning heatlamps on strikers

CHICAGO — Hyatt hotels apologized Friday for an incident in which heat lamps were turned on above workers on strike at a Chicago hotel, when the heat index was already 90 degrees.

Maybe next time they'll use rubber bullets

Hey it reminds me of history class. What did the bosses do to the workers again historically? Last time I sleep at Hyatt. Jerks. LOL.

Corn ending stocks for 2012 should now be projected at record low levels. The 156 bushels/acre is based upon good weather in August and current crop conditions being accurately observed -- fairly optimistic, IMO.

Goldman cuts US corn yield estimate by 3 bushels/acre due heat

And this analysis:

If the US loses 1.2 million acres this year due to the weather and yield is adjusted down to 156 bushels per acre, ending stocks for the 2011/12 season could come in at 498 million bushels, not the 900 million currently forecast. The stocks/usage ratio would be a record low 3.7%. This illustrates how a minor adjustment in yield could have a major impact on the stocks outlook. A 156 yield would still be the third highest in history. A 150 yield, not a disaster but well below trend, would leave total supply equal to anticipated demand and would result in near zero ending stocks.

That analysis is way off. Where's it from? Complete loss of production on 1.2 mil ac, only 500 mil bu total harvest? That won't cover last year's etoh.

a few years ago there was a post on TOD called "a wall of oil"
the gist was that prices were due to plummet because so much new oil was slated to come into production.

well the fact is, that was partially true. If you look at Oil Megaprojects, in the 3 most recent years - 2008, 2009, 2010 almost 15 million new barrels came on line. 15 million - astounding!
(this is assuming that all projects produce at maximum levels from the start, which obviously never happens)
But the point is, if you go back to the 1940's 1950's or 1960's, there has never been such a rapid rise in production. Never.

The IEA says we need X number of new Saudi Arabias over the next several years to meet global demand, and the normal reaction is - well, that will never happen when you put it like that. But the truth is, is did happen - we added almost 2 new Saudi Arabias in the past three years.

So heres the problem: Brent price today has been over $110 for the past 4 or 5 months, and does not look like its coming down.

And when you look at Oil Megaprojects, there are no more 5 million barrel years. 2010 was the last hurrah. So if 5 million BPD means the price still goes up, either declining production or increasing demand or ELM is greater than 5 MBPD. how much greater? 5.5? or 6? we will never know.

I'm quite surprised there are no comments here. Perhaps someone with more knowledge of Oil Megaprojects than I will.

Record Nighttime High Temperatures Bigger Deal For Health, Crops, Climate Than Daytime Highs

As New York Times reports today, so far in July 12 weather stations in the US have recorded all-time daytime highs, but 93 have recorded all-time nighttime highs.


T. Boone Pickens and Koch Brothers in fuel fight over natural gas subsidies:


The Koch Brothers think oil is a free market despite OPEC, billions of dollars of tax subsidies for oil and perpetual wars for oil security.

The dispute over H.R. 1380, which would provide maximum tax breaks of $64,000 for transportation companies using natural-gas-powered trucks and $100,000 for owners of natural gas fueling stations, has been waged in unusually personal terms, presenting House members with a choice between Pickens, formerly a top Republican financier, and the Koch brothers, perhaps the most significant conservative money men today.

Pickens’s underlying argument is that government support for natural gas will create jobs, while helping wean the U.S. from oil imported from members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which he asserts is not a free market. The Kochs counter that such support distorts free markets and rewards “politically favored” industries.

But both the Kochs and Pickens have a financial stake in the outcome, though they have all denied that their positions are motivated by their bottom lines.

True free markets are rare. Nearly all markets are distorted in some way. Most markets are a mixture free elements and market manipulation either by government or the special interests involved IMO.

First, when Obama is talking about cutting the budget anywhere from 3 to 4 trillion dollars, it hardly seems appropriate to provide subsidies for any fossil fuel, especially one that will help perpetuate our reliance on trucks for transport. If anything, we should ensure that trucks pay the full costs of their road impact, possibly including external costs as well.

Second, the discussion should not be about free markets but what will benefit society in the long run. These are public funds they are talking about.

Move beyond trucks and you cut down on foreign oil consumption even without the subsidy.

Anyway, I can't believe we are even having this conversation. Budgetgeddon is upon us.


What another great piece of theater. "smoking gun - mushroom cloud" Be afraid. Hate hate hate each other!



One of the more disturbing developments is jobs (hiring) discrimination against the unemployed. That means that once someone is out of work, they are now locked out.

Act Targets Discrimination Against the Unemployed

Discrimination against unemployed continues in online ad postings

What if we default, pull back to our own continent, offer to amortize our nuclear weapons fleet upon any reprisals from our previous imperialistic exploits, and make everything we need... here again? Everyone gets their kid back from the middle east... lots of jobs making gloves and pumps and canning apple sauce... No longer having to compete, to be paid commensurately, against prison and child labor in China... The failure of the private banking system... Who would benefit?

Andrew Jackson wasn't big on a banking system:

* It concentrated the nation's financial strength in a single institution.
* It exposed the government to control by foreign interests.
* It served mainly to make the rich richer.
* It exercised too much control over members of Congress.
* Banks are controlled by a few select families.
* Banks have a long history of instigating wars between nations, forcing them to borrow funding to pay for them.

No. No I don't think we'll be having any lasting default.

What came first? The dead chicken or the cracked egg?

Oil and finance go hand in hand.

It's difficult to tell which leads and which follows.

You need to borrow money to finance an oil extraction party.

You need to produce more oil than you consume,
and the value of the excess had better exceed your debt load
in order to be net positive in that department.

(Clearly the USA has not been producing more oil than it consumes for a long, long time and it shows on the nation's balance sheet. Does anyone know how to say "bleeding red ink"? It appears the patient might be terminal.)

[ i.mage.+]

I salute you and your 'what if...?' ideas, sir.

Although I was not sure what you meant by amortizing our nuclear weapons...so, I will withhold by kudos on that piece until I understand your proposed doctrine.

Farm Thieves Target Grapes, and Even Bees

While other states have their own agricultural intrigue — cattle rustlers in Texas, tomato takers in Florida — few areas can claim a wider variety of farm felons than California, where ambushes on everything from almonds to beehives have been reported in recent years. Then there is the hardware: diesel fuel, tools and truck batteries regularly disappear in the Central Valley, the state’s agricultural powerhouse, where high unemployment, foreclosures and methamphetamine abuse have made criminals more desperate, officials say.

...And copper is not the only tempting metal.

“Two hundred pounds of iron might bring them 75, 100 bucks,” Sergeant Reed said. “That’s money they can use to put gas in their trucks. They can get some food.”

also Making it harder for thieves to target your farm business

So far there has been no discussion of this quote:

This could be because politicians are concerned that doom-laden messages - like the prediction that ordinary families will only be able to use their cars for emergencies within 10 years because of spiralling fuel prices – will cause panic and civil disobedience on the streets.

Where exactly did this prediction come from--I'm not acquainted with it.

Will it come true?

Just someone's wild guess I assume. I'd put that in the hyperbole column but gas certainly will be more expensive. But ordinary family car only for emergency? Seems a bit drastic.

One cannot burn what one does not have.

Fast forward past the initial years of post-Peak Oil. To, say, 2025 (Not quite time enough to turn over our car & SUV fleet in "the old times").

The pool of available world oil exports is a third of 2005/6, about 15 million b/day. Because the USA must pay for imports with exports - no more buying on credit - we import 1/6th of the total - 2.5 million b/day.

The Gulf of Mexico is on it's last legs, Prudhoe Bay has a trickle left, etc. USA oil production is 4 million b/day and another 1.5 million in NGLs. All told 8 million b/day (down from 21 million in 2007).

Critical uses get their oil first via rationing - agriculture, military, police, health, freight transportation, plastics and other manufacturing, buses. What little is left is sold at "free market" prices. The top 2% of Americans still drive when and where they want.

The next 25% make do with shorter range EVs and compressed natural gas cars that they could afford to buy.

The rest still have their old clunker cars#, which are driven only in emergencies.

Best Hopes for such a benign future - just 13.5 years away,


# Gasoline powered cars were still sold at the rate of 5 million/year as late as 2016.

On the bright side, air pollution and traffic deaths and injuries will decline dramatically.

The top 2% of Americans still drive when and where they want.

Any thoughts Alan on the state of the roads by then?
Enough still OK for eScooters for commuters in most cities?
Can't quite imagine the arrangements.

Green is the Enemy

In recent decades, corporations whose profits depend on degrading the ecosphere started to worry that [Green] activists posed a real threat to their operations.

... Coordinated campaigns to target and repress dissident voices have taken place throughout U.S. history, and foremost among them is the Red Scare. For most Americans, of all political stripes, that term is synonymous with using fear to push a political agenda -- it is a dark era of U.S. history where lives were ruined, and freedoms chilled, in the name of national security. Beyond those big-picture similarities, though, there are eerie parallels between the Red Scare and this Green Scare, in terms of the specific tactics used by corporations and politicians to instill fear and silence dissent.

Green is the new Red