Drumbeat: August 27, 2011

Irene cuts power, oil operations along US East Coast

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City braced for widespread blackouts as Hurricane Irene churned up the East Coast on Saturday, leaving more than 1 million homes and businesses without power in U.S. coastal states further south.

Power generator Exelon idled the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant as a precaution as winds gained force. The plant in Ocean County, New Jersey supplies up to 600,000 homes.

...East Coast oil refineries reduced operations or shut, while pipelines and fuel terminals also scaled back.

Power Substations in Lower Manhattan Are Vulnerable to Flooding, Officials Say

A slice of Manhattan’s southeastern tip may be especially vulnerable to a loss of electricity from Hurricane Irene, Consolidated Edison said Saturday, and officials at the public utility said it could be forced to pre-emptively shut off power in low-lying parts of New York City.

Some substations along the waterline of Lower Manhattan could be susceptible to severe flooding if the Hudson and East Rivers rise significantly because of the storm, said Chris Olert, a Con Edison spokesman.

Libya conflict: Rebels vow to resolve Tripoli shortages

Libyan rebel leaders have announced measures to tackle shortages of water, fuel and medicines in Tripoli which the UN says are threatening lives.

Libya's rebel oil firm Agoco says all refineries shut

BENGHAZI, Libya, Aug 27 (Reuters) - All five of Libya's refineries are offline due to a lack of crude oil production and damage to facilities, the rebel oil firm AGOCO said on Saturday, leaving rebel forces wholly reliant on fuel imports.

"No refineries are working. They can't get crude oil. Some are in bad shape," AGOCO spokesman Abdeljalil Mayouf told Reuters.

Diesel fuel crisis deepens

CAIRO – A renewed diesel fuel shortage, which has hit Egypt's gov- ernorates over the past few days, has left many truck drivers fuming Friday.

Japanese Island’s Activists Resist Nuclear Industry’s Allure

IWAISHIMA, Japan — When the boats came to start work on a planned nuclear power plant just off this tiny island, an aging fisherwoman named Tamiko Takebayashi carried out a dramatic protest: she lashed herself to the dock.

The move, while reminiscent of a Greenpeace action, was highly unusual in understated Japan. But it was emblematic of the islanders’ nearly three-decade fight against the powers arrayed against them — their own government and the nuclear industry it has championed.

The Spin on Changing Marcellus Gas Estimates

So how much natural gas is in the Marcellus Shale?

The U.S. Geologic Survey on Tuesday estimated the formation contains 84 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas, up from a mere 2 Tcf in 2002. Headlines exploded across the Internet: "Federal report boosts Marcellus Shale estimate."

But on Wednesday another federal agency, the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which just a month ago estimated the shale contained 410 Tcf, announced it was revising its number downward in response to the USGS estimate. New headlines: "U.S. Slashes Marcellus Shale Gas Estimate 80%."

Crude Oil Futures Advance After Bernanke Says Fed Has Stimulus Tools

Crude oil rose after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said growth will resume and the central bank had tools to stimulate the economy.

Futures rebounded from a drop of more than $2 a barrel and stocks climbed after Bernanke said U.S. growth is safe in the long run and the Fed still can aid the recovery. Oil fell as much as 2.8 percent when he failed to announce new stimulus at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where a year ago he disclosed that the Fed would spur growth through Treasury purchases.

US West Coast Products-L.A. gasoline surges on refinery upset

(Reuters) - Los Angeles wholesale gasoline differentials surged by 24 cents per gallon on Friday on upsets at Exxon Mobil Corp's refinery in Torrance, California.

Shell reopens gas plant that fuels Nigeria’s power grid after 2-day shutdown

LAGOS, Nigeria — Royal Dutch Shell PLC says it has reopened a natural gas plant after isolating the leakage point of a damaged pipeline in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta.

Kazakhstan sees oil export duty flat until 2014

ASTANA (Reuters) - Kazakhstan, the largest oil producer in Central Asia, plans to retain its crude export duty at a maximum $40 per tonne until at least 2014, Finance Minister Bolat Zhamishev said on Saturday.

Libyan Rebels Mass for Attack on Sirte

Libyan rebels prepared to attack Muammar Qaddafi’s stronghold of Sirte as the United Nations called for international support against the widespread destruction in the country after six months of conflict.

Venezuela oil tap to flow by ’12

MUMBAI: India's biggest oil investment overseas is all set to pay dividends. The country is expected to get its first consignment of crude oil in the second quarter of 2012-13 from the Carabobo-1 block in Venezuela's oil rich Orinoco Belt. The field is being developed with a consortium led by ONGC for $20 billion.

BP Spill Victims Can Seek Punitive Damages, Judge Says

Businesses and individuals suing BP Plc (BP/) and other companies involved in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill can seek punitive damages in pursuing claims of economic and environmental losses, a federal judge said.

Defendants claimed the U.S. Oil Pollution Act prevented plaintiffs from collecting punitive damages. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said today that the statute is “silent as to the availability of punitive damages” and plaintiffs can pursue such claims under maritime law.

More oil seepage found at Bohai Bay platforms

BEIJING - More oil has been detected near the two leaking oil platforms in Northeast China's Bohai Bay, authorities said.

A statement released by the North China Sea branch of the State Oceanic Administration on Thursday said 16 oil leaks have been detected under platform C and oil and gas are still bubbling in the water in the area of the platform.

Japan to Spend $2.9 Billion to Clean Up Tepco Radiation Spills, Kyodo Says

Japan will allocate 220 billion yen ($2.87 billion) to clean up in areas contaminated by radiation spewed from Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, Kyodo News reported.

The government aims to reduce the level of radiation exposure to less than 1 millisievert per year soon, Kyodo News reported yesterday, citing Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano. Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who said yesterday he’s stepping down from office, will visit Fukushima today to explain the government’s decontamination plans for the region, according to a separate Kyodo report.

US Energy Dept Finalizes Solar Project's Partial Loan Guarantee

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- The U.S. Energy Department has finalized a partial guarantee for an $852 million loan to support a 250-megawatt solar facility sponsored by NextEra Energy Resources LLC.

The Genesis Solar Project is located on land managed by the federal government in Riverside County, Calif.

Trains That Run Like, and on, the Wind

BERLIN — It will not be easy to run a national railroad on renewable energy like wind, hydro and solar power, but that is what Deutsche Bahn of Germany aims to do, for one simple reason: It is what consumers want.

Deutsche Bahn says it wants to raise the percentage of wind, hydro and solar energy used in powering its trains from 20 percent now to 28 percent in 2014 and to become carbon-free by 2050 — targets that exceed the German government’s already ambitious national goals.

“Consumers in Germany have made it clear they want us all to get away from nuclear energy and to more renewable energy,” said Hans-Jürgen Witschke, chief executive of Deutsche Bahn Energie, which supplies electricity for trains in Germany.

Water Use by Vineyards Is Challenged

The increased use of water by Sonoma County vineyards has come under scrutiny from scientists and agencies that say it is harming coho salmon and steelhead trout in local rivers.

World's Top-Emitters No More Aware of Climate Change in 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Residents in the top five greenhouse gas-emitting countries are no more aware of global warming or climate change than they were a few years ago. Majorities in all five countries Gallup surveyed in 2010 -- except India -- continue to say they know at least something about the issue.

Africa: Global Warming Behind Somali Drought

Paris — The severe drought in the Horn of Africa, which has caused the death of at least 30,000 children and is affecting some 12 million people, especially in Somalia, is a direct consequence of weather phenomena associated with climate change and global warming, environmental scientists say.

"The present drought in the Horn of Africa has been provoked by El Ni-o and La Ni-a phenomena in the Pacific Ocean, which unsettle the normal circulation of warm and cold water and air, and dislocate the humidity conditions across the southern hemisphere," Friedrich-Wilhelm Gerstengarbe, senior scientist at the German Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK, after its German name), told IPS.

Assessing Climate Change in a Drought-Stricken State

“We can’t say with certainty whether this particular drought is in and of itself a product of climate change,” said David Brown, a regional official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

However, Dr. Brown added, these kinds of droughts will have effects that are “even more extreme” in the future, given a warming and drying regional climate.

Wading Into New York City’s Future

Better get used to it. More frequent and intense storms are what studies and New York City’s own panel on climate change have predicted for the city as average temperatures and sea levels rise over the next decades.

By midcentury, city officials say, New York City’s average temperature is projected to increase three to five degrees Fahrenheit and sea levels are expected to rise by more than two feet. By the end of the century, they say, New York City may feel more like North Carolina.

Yesterday, I bumped into Stuart Staniford's 2006 piece in TOD, Extrapolating World Production, and thought I would update two of the figures.


The orange diamonds represent the new information from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2011 historical data to provide data from 2005-2010. Staniford's original sources for recent data (2000-2004) were also from BP. The new data points are added by hand and are a bit imprecise. But it is clear that both production and growth are running high from the original logistics model and low of the Gaussian fit. Although closer to the high end of the logistics model.

Staniford included this caveat ...

However, there are trillions of possible barrels of LQHCs (low quality hydrocarbons), such as tar sands, extra-heavy oils, coal-to-liquids, and then biofuels. That stuff can't be ramped in a hurry, but it will probably get ramped up eventually (depending on the climate wild card).

Some of the 5 mbpd difference between Staniford's 2006 logistic model and the following production numbers are due to at least two of those factors: tar sands and biofuels. These two probably account for about 2 mbpd. But Staniford was incorrect in believing the 2004 uptick was anomalous.

While this may read like a criticism of Staniford's work, it is not. If the cusp and post-peak production curves fall between the logistic and Gaussian fits that Staniford laid out nearly six years ago, then the peak is likely to lie about 2017 +/- 5 years (eyeballing) with sustained declines of 5% or more not occuring for many (20+) years after that. With the caveat that this is a curve-fitting exercise and reality trumps.

(Mods: feel free to display the images. They are a tad bit large, so I left them linked)

Ron – Had a chat with another TODster the other day about the various predictions for the decline side of Hubbert’s curve. Curious about you take on the following.

I pointed out that this curve is actually a composite of two independent factors. The exploration side (left side of the peak) is a function of discovery. Logically the bigger fields are found early. It been well established that field size distribution has a fairly predictable log-normal: lots of smaller fields with few very large fields. But this relationship only holds for a unique trend. For example the huge Frio oil fields along the Texas coast represent a significant portion of the oil rate increases during the 40’s and 50’s. Now jump to another trend: Deep Water GOM oil fields. These obviously weren't included in Hubbert’s original model. Had they been discovered in the 60’s Hubbert would have pushed his peak estimate to a later date. But he did acknowledge that his US PO model only applied to known trends. Some folks miss that portion of his analysis.

Now a model assumption: once we reached H’s PO no additional drilling was done. The decline side of his curve would be solely a function of field depletion. This curve would be far from symmetrical. In 36 years I’ve never seen an individual well or field production rate decline anywhere close to that profile. In fact, with a complete data base the decline curve could be estimated rather accurately.

So the future slope of the H curve will be a combination of the decline function of existing fields with the gains of the new discoveries. As you point out we’ve seen significant new trends develop: tar sands, DW Brazil and GOM, etc. These new plays will have their own unique discovery curve. And that curve, as you note, will be also be a function of oil prices as well as their natural distribution. But that was also true of all the fields discovered prior to the US peak.

Given the future oil production rate is a function of two independent processes I would think a single model or function couldn't capture this complexity. The decline side wouldn’t be too difficult compared to the discovery side. During Hubbert’s day no one predicted the DW trends. Some folks are predicting huge potential in other untested trends such as the Arctic Basin. We won’t know what’s there to develop for many years. But even if there are huge oil reserves we know it will be a long and expensive effort before those reserves could add significant rate increases. OTHO the same would have said in 1960 about the DW plays had anyone been foolish enough to postulate their existence. Yet today DW GOM oil represents a significant portion of all US all production. And probably as will DW Brazil when it’s ever fully developed decades down the road.

Caveat: I am not in anyway personally knowledgeable about the oil industry. The following are my musings on the subject.

The exploration side (left side of the peak) is a function of discovery. Logically the bigger fields are found early. It been well established that field size distribution has a fairly predictable log-normal: lots of smaller fields with few very large fields. But this relationship only holds for a unique trend. ... But he did acknowledge that his US PO model only applied to known trends.

I think I see this slightly different. As long as supply outstrips demand, the production curve is a response to economic demand. You only pull out what you can sell at a profit, at a rate the you can sell your product. Demand side dominates.

What you call 'unique trend' is a particular resource exploitable at certain price range with a particular technology. For instance, TX crude production is on the rise. With increased prices and "new" tech, additional oil can be extracted. DW and Arctic is added to recoverable inventories. As is oil sands; as is a first generation of biofuels.

As long as the economy can support additional exploration and research, and the economy continues to create demand, additional resources are added to recoverable liquid fuel inventories as you reach further down the pyramid of available fuel sources. (Or you might say - new unique trends are added.)

A note about the "pyramid of available liquid fuel resources." We have geological resources: oil, nat gas, coal, methane calthrates. We have biosphere resources: methane, annual crops, trees and forests, peat bogs. Arrange them vertically by energy density and horizontally by quantity. At a certain price and tech point, you can extract a particular percentage of that pyramid of resources. At a higher price or better tech point, you can extract a higher percentage. With enough money and the right tech, you can even turn low quality coals into liquids. Eventually you hit the hard 2nd Law limits; entropy rules. But economic and tech limits will intervene long before you hit the limits of "scientifically feasibility." This pyramid is only qualitative for me at this point, but is related to EROEI.

Some "supply siders" try to look at a particular resource (unique trend, ie ... global conventional crude) and limit their discovery, production, depletion curves to that one resource/trend. But the economy doesn't work that way. It is concerned about a much broader class such as "liquid fuels." And the supplies that are available to feed that production is as much a matter of price and tech as it is of supply.

Production curve fitting gloss over these price and tech points as included in the production numbers. But that also assumes that price and tech responses are similar on both sides of the production curve. I am unconvinced.

So I think there is a need for a more complex model which includes demand and supply as modified by price and tech rather than just curve-fitting production.

Now a model assumption: once we reached H’s PO no additional drilling was done. The decline side of his curve would be solely a function of field depletion. This curve would be far from symmetrical. In 36 years I’ve never seen an individual well or field production rate decline anywhere close to that profile. In fact, with a complete data base the decline curve could be estimated rather accurately.

I'm guessing that rising prices and improving tech are extending the tail of production.

These new plays will have their own unique discovery curve. And that curve, as you note, will be also be a function of oil prices as well as their natural distribution.

Yup. That's not really apparent in Stuart's charts or my updates, but that's what I'm poking at. Price and tech modify the decline in individual fields and the aggregate class. In addition, disruptive technologies may make a play.

Given the future oil production rate is a function of two independent processes I would think a single model or function couldn't capture this complexity. The decline side wouldn’t be too difficult compared to the discovery side.

I think it's possible to develop models that work the EROEI as prices and tech fluctuate. I suspect that they will be statistical in nature. I think the decline side would be more difficult since URR will be more dependent on economic and technology factors.

My guess is that in addition to price level the volatility of prices is an important variable for producers. Before you invest in a multi- year project with possibly a multi-decade cash flow associated with that you want to have some degree of certainty before you start such a project. Over that kind of timeframe hedging becomes virtually impossible so that leaves only price projections as data points, and the variance around the projected prices is probably as important, if not more so than, the actual projected prices themselves.
Therefore I would not be surprised if a producer like Venezuela at some point enters into a very long term deal for a large part of its production, and certainly of its exports, with Chindia at a below market prices but with zero variance. I don’t think the US government would be pleased to say the least.


Ron – “You only pull out what you can sell at a profit, at a rate the you can sell your product.” Sounds counter intuitive but this the reality of the oil patch: lower demand = lower prices = companies increase production as much as possible. I’ve seen this first hand many times in 36 years. For instance, NG prices fall as they did in late ’08. Might make sense on paper for companies to choke back rates and save those assets to sell later when prices rebound. Rare indeed to see this happen. Cash flow is truly king in the oil patch. I’ve seen many operators sell as much production as possible even when the price is below their finding costs. Lower prices certainly inhibit new drilling but not production.

“As long as the economy can support additional exploration and research, and the economy continues to create demand, additional resources are added to recoverable liquid fuel inventories”. Yes…until here are no more significant geologic trends to chase. Early 20th century Texas salt dome plays were dying out then the East Texas Field was discovered in the 30’s which was in deep decline when the prolific shallow Tertiary fields and the great West Texas fields were developed in the 40’s and 50’s which were in deep decline when the offshore fields began to be exploited in the 60’s and 70’s which were in deep decline when Barnett Shale in the 90’s and the DW GOM began to be developed after 2000. And fortunately as the DW trends have been stalled thanks to BP the Eagle Ford Shale has arrived. Additionally companies have begun poking around other fractured shale plays such as the Marine Tuscaloosa in La.

The problem in the near future in Texas is that there are very few oil bearing trends left to evaluate. The Eagle Ford is not a newly discovered trend…completed my first EF well 30 years ago. Horizontal wells with big fracs is not a new techniques: many thousands of such wells were drilled in Cretaceous oil shales more than 20 years ago. Obviously high oil prices are driving current activities. But these are not newly discovered trends. Even though few have heard of the potential “new” Marine Tuscaloosa play I reviewed such a proposal over 15 years ago…it’s not a newly discovered play…just being tested now due to high prices.

The point being is that in Texas there is literally no rock volume with oil potential that hasn’t already been discovered. And with current high oil prices all known trends are being actively evaluated. Once these plays have been tapped out there is no significant oil potential left in the state. And some years down the road the same will be true for the rest of the country. And some decades down the road the same will be true for the rest of the world.

“I'm guessing that rising prices and improving tech are extending the tail of production”. Only to a relatively small degree. Actual production costs are rather low compared to exploration costs. There have thousands of wells in Texas producing just a few bbls of oil per day that were profitable and kept on line even when oil fell below $20/bbl. Some folks have speculated that higher oil prices would lead to a surge in production due to secondary recovery efforts. But EOR efforts have been in full play in Texas since the 50’s. Most of Texas production today comes from wells that have undergone EOR in one fashion or another.

“These new plays will have their own unique discovery curve. That's not really apparent in Stuart's charts or my updates,. ” Folks shouldn’t be too critical of that. Really can’t see that very well except in the rear view mirror. Take the Eagle Ford Shale as an example. Its potential has been known for years as well as the tech to get it out. True for the shale gas plays also. From a purely economic perspective I would not have predicted their explosive expansions. But if one understood the near panic mode public companies fell into as efforts to replace production from conventional plays continued to fail they would understand the current acivity. As I’ve mentioned before my privately owned company doesn’t drill unconventional trends…not profitable enough and we don’t have stock to push on Wall Street. I once drilled four horizontal wells that we knew would cost the public company more than they would make but the sizzle due to a higher company production rate allowed Wall Street to bid the stock price up 400%. Needless to say this aspect plays havoc with you EROEI perspective.

“I think the decline side would be more difficult since URR will be more dependent on economic and technology factors.” Again, counter intuitive. URR of an existing field is rather insensitive to the future price of oil/NG. I’ve actually seen more than one operator continue to produce wells at a small loss for a period on time while waiting for a price rebound. Typically if an operator completely stops producing a well the lease terminates in 30 days. And when it does he’ll have to plug the well. That cost might represent more than year’s expense while producing at a loss. He’ll hope for a price rebound or maybe another company subleasing from him and drilling some new target they had ID’s. Sometimes it works…sometimes not.

There is one URR bump up potential in some mature Texas oil fields. I’m about to start a horizontal drilling program in some fields that are producing 98% water along with just a few bbls of oil per day. Not new technology but an application no one has recognized. They’ve produced over 2 billion bbls with 2 billion bbls of oil remaining. If we’re really smart and fairly lucky we might increase URR by 5 to 7%. Expensive wells but high oil prices can make it work. If our efforts work several years down the road the other companies will know….can’t keep such matters secret for long. Might cause another feeding frenzy like the shale plays. Even with current high prices the corporate mindset doesn’t favor pioneers. They are more comfortable being followers. I was part of a small band that did something similar in the 80’s using a seismic technology to find gas fields in the Gulf Coast onshore trends. Today this is the most common exploration approach in the region. So it can happen. I hope I can do the same thing with my hz program. Would be a very satisfying way to fade off into the sunset.

I appreciate the detailed reply and the dash of cold water. Particularly surpised by the 'sell at volume even if below finding costs' although I can understand that once pointed out. Your potential new method is the kind of tail-extender, URR bumper that I'm groping to better understand. Not that I think it will drastically change the end-story, just the timing.

Should mention that I discovered that the BP statistics exclude biofuels, includes oil sands per the data footnotes.

Ron - I fully agree: no game changer. As far as extending the onset of the worst of PO I doubt it can be measured...just too small an adjustment. I suspect even the huge DW Brazil reserves won't have a significant impact on timing. Lots of oil but it will take decades to fully develope. Like rust, depletion and ELM never sleep. I know I confuse some folks when they see support of "drill, baby. drill" from me. It's not that I expect such efforts to change PO. It's soley for the economic gain for society: more jobs, tax revenue, corporate/personal incomes and smaller trade imbalance. All very positive but no "energy indepedence" and no ability to maintain BAU.

The price/production relationships relative to the 1972 Texas peak and the 1999 North Sea peak are interesting. Annual oil prices on the vertical axes and average annual daily C+C production on the horizontal axes:


From 2002 to 2005, in response to rising oil prices, global C+C production rose dramatically, and at the 2002 to 2005 rate of increase we would have been at about 86 mbpd in 2010. What we have seen, based on EIA data, is global production between 73 and 74 mbpd for 2005 to 2010, except for 2009.

The BP data base shows the same kind of inflection point, with global total petroleum liquids production between 81 and 82 mbpd for 2005 to 2010, again except for 2009.

So far, what we have seen is that slowly increasing unconventional production has not been able to keep total production on an upward slope. And of course, then we have the measurable decline in Global Net Exports (GNE) and Available Net Exports (GNE less Chindia's net imports).

In the US, increasing drilling for oil has so far just kept total C+C production between 5.4 and 5.6 mbpd since the fourth quarter of 2009. Incidentally, note that the EIA's production number for Texas for 2010 is about 20% larger than what the Texas RRC shows.

Rockman - Your observation - "Sounds counter intuitive but this the reality of the oil patch: lower demand = lower prices = companies increase production as much as possible."

This exact same thing applies to timber companies. The price of timber declines and they increase production. I believe it has to do with meeting payments on loans, or to investors who need a return.

Few people or companies have the ability to wait for prices to change.

edit- There is also a case where it is better to loose money slower by increasing production than by shutting down which is some situations leaves investment stranded or loans unpayable.

Thanks for pragmatic reality.
Re: But EOR efforts have been in full play in Texas since the 50’s. Most of Texas production today comes from wells that have undergone EOR in one fashion or another."

I understood the Advanced Resource Technologies presentations to say that only about 3% of CO2-EOR was being done because of lack of CO2. If you were provided with sufficient CO2 at $15/ton could you actually ramp up EOR at least 10 fold? e.g., Some with current wells, but the rest with drilling additional horizontal wells?

At an oil price of $70 per barrel and delivered CO2 costs of
$15 per metric ton, 48 billion barrels would be economically recoverable (over 38 billion barrels in the Lower 48), providing a large volume market for captured CO2.

Ironic how CO2 shortages could be a problem today.

David – I’ve noticed here’s been a general misconception about using CO2 for EOR. Only a limmited number of oil reservoirs would benefit from this approach. It is not a cure all. The most common techniques are water floods (the giant E Texas Field) and pressure maintenance (Mexico’s Cantrell Field). And even in fields where CO2 might be practical, optimum results are gained only during the initial production phase. Much of the benefit won't be realized late in a field's life. Even if CO2 were available tomorrow it would be of limited/no economic value to apply it now in many exising fields.

There is another major problem many don't realize when it comes to utilizing any EOR method in many old fields: no wells/infrastructure to do it with. "48 billion barrels would be economically recoverable"...only if all those fields still existed...and they don't. Most wells in old fields have been abandoned and the production infrastructure dismantled. In Texas (a major oil producing region) alone there are over 110,000 abandoned wells. I know of numerous reservoirs that would be very economical to water flood at current prices…if the wells still existed. But the cost to redrill those wells is far too high even at $150/bbl. EOR is essentially a salvage operation. But you need the wells to exist before you can salvage them. For decades the oil patch has proposed changes in the tax code to encourage operators to not abandon such wells when they reached economic limit. Currently about 3500 wells are abandoned every year in Texas alone. But since we’re dirty lying bastards few wanted to listen to us. LOL.

For 36 years I’ve been a development/production geologist focused on getting more oil out of old fields. I know where there are many fields that if CO2 were delivered to me for free I couldn't justify the effort on economic grounds. About the best hope for much gain is for an operator to be paid to inject CO2 for the sake of sequestration. Then you might see some activity.

There is no giant cache of EOR oil out there just waiting for the oil patch to get smart enough to produce. We’ve been doing this for 100 years. Today the public oil companies are spending $2 billion/yr drilling the barely profitable Eagle Ford Shale. They would be spending that much and more on barely profitable new EOR projects if they existed.

The best analogy: if everyone one on the planet began driving an electric car tomorrow oil would sell for less than $10/bbl. But that can't physically happen. If tomorrow EOR was applied to all fields ever discovered oil would sell for less than $10/bbl. And that can'r physically happen either.

But the reality of the situation doesn't stop many folks from offering both "solutions".

RE:"Only a limmited number of oil reservoirs would benefit from this approach."
Are you saying that all the detailed field by field CO2-EOR analyses conducted by Advanced Resources International have no engineering validity? Or that since you don't see the CO2 available at those prices that those conclusions are meaningless?

If you are going to do a CO2 flood on an oil field, you need to have a cheap supply of CO2 available, and it is best if you start the EOR process right at the start of production.

If you start an EOR project 50 or 60 years into the field production process when production rates have fallen to almost nothing, you will achieve almost nothing in terms of additional oil recovery.

In his 2007 presentation Vello A. Kuuskraa shows how early Co2 gives about double the NPV of late CO2.

OK Dave…you owe me big time…just burned up an hour of my life I’ll never get back. LOL. With almost no exception all the govt reports dealt with “technically recoverable” potential. IOW even if there’s no profit to be made and there’s no CO2 readily available and even if the wells don’t exist anymore we can recover X billion bbls of oil. Very useful analysis. LOL. I’ll be sure to recommend to my owner we immediately pursue a number of these “technically” logical projects.

The other reports address nothing but theoretical potential. And ignored the big obstacle I mentioned early: many of the fields no longer exist. The one paper pointing to a series of coastal Texas fields as potential CO2 recovery (if someone first built the pipelines from E. Texas) is a huge pile of horse crap. The very fields spotted on the map are the ones I’ve studied for my horizontal redevelopment. First, they are all water drive reservoirs that have recovered around 50% of the OOIP. Second, most are currently producing 97% water. Even when the fields were first discovered a CO2 flood would not have been practical. These wells were high rate producers of good quality oil. All the text books will tell you these are not good candidates for a CO2. And you don’t have to just take my word on it. I’ve seen DOE studies on each field individually that specifically states they are not candidates for CO2 EOR or any other additional EOR methods. Guess the boys that wrote that paper missed the govt study. Maybe they were just so excited to see the billions of bbls of oil left in those fields they forgot to look. LOL.

One more thing about those fields: the vast majority of the wells have been plugged and abandoned. Even if I had CO2 available and CO2 was a viable approach in these reservoirs I don’t have the wells to inject the CO2 into or the wells to produce the oil. And no…no one drills new wells for stripper production.

But anyone reading this paper might easily accept their proposition. Unless they have specific details as I do. And speaking of specifics: maybe I missed it but in all those reports I did not see one specific field presented as a candidate for CO2 EOR. Lots of “big picture” projections but none showing that Field X would recover Y bbls of oil if it were done. Not even if there were no CO2 available and it was just a hypothetical possibility. Maybe they find such detailed analysis too time consuming. Waving ones arms in the air and making projections without details to support your position is much easier.

Here’s the deal: find one specific field in Texas that someone says they could recover X bbls of oil via a CO2 flood and I analyze it for you. I have a computer data base I can access with a click of a mouse. It’s not difficult…this is how I’ve made my living for 36 years. I’ve had countless oil patch promoters try to blow smoke of my butt with their “big picture” ideas and have sliced and diced them without mercy using the details at hand. There are more than a few such folks who won’t present their ideas to a company if they know I’m involved in the evaluation.

Do you get the idea how I feel about such snake oil salesmen? I’m always ready to go out of my way to rip them apart. LOL. Many folks believe everyone in the oil patch is dishonest and a crook. And some of them are. But not most. That's one reason I have a problem with misrepresentions. How much do I dislike them? I personally helped send two of them to Texas state prison about 20 years ago for defrauding private investors. Defrauding them with very sharp looking "big pictures". One of my biggest regrets is that I wasn't there when the Texas Rangers hauled them off in cuffs.

Yes...I do take it very personal. LOL

Thanks for your helping out the Texas Rangers. Appreciate too your hour. I'll try to make it up and to be worth your while.
I welcome the challenge of having to persuade a grizzled hard nosed oil patch red neck with real data at his finger tips.

Re: "With almost no exception all the govt reports dealt with “technically recoverable” potential."

Apologies for pointing to the whole stack instead of just the latest report.
When you can settle down from LOL, what "confused" me was that ARI appears to give a detailed costing and appears to make their evaluation was based on the both the price of oil and the full costs including CO2 purchase and recycle, O&M, and capital with a capital hurdle rate of 25%. e.g.

See page 14 Table 4 Cumulative probability distribution for onshore economic CO2-EOR prospects, and:

Thus, in the Lower-48 overall, 70% of the economic resource potential exists in 151 economic prospects (at an oil price of $70 per barrel), or 26% of the 582 economic prospects at these conditions (out of the over, 1,100 prospects that are technically amenable to CO2-EOR).

See Table 11. Estimated Distribution of Economic Value of Incremental Oil Production from CO2-EOR by 2030 (Assuming CO2 costs of $15 per tonne) (page 43) and Table 12. Estimated Distribution of Economic Value of Incremental Oil Production from CO2-EOR by 2030(Assuming CO2 costs of $45 per tonne) (page 44) White Paper: U.S. Oil Production Potential from Accelerated Deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage Advanced Resources International, Inc. Arlington, VA USA March 10, 2010.

Now if that is "technically recoverable", what is economic?
Or is 25% ROI too low for current work in Texas?

On specific fields, my understanding is that they have parameters on > 70% of all US fields and have them sorted form most to least economical.

Then see Robert M. Dilmore of NETL who prepared a more conservative and more detailed "An Assessment of Gate-to-Gate Environmental Life Cycle Performance of Water-Alternating-Gas CO2-Enhanced Oil Recovery in the Permian Basin" September 30, 2010 DOE/NETL-2010/1433 206 pp
While it officially focuses on "emissions", it appears to detail all the components needed to get there.
That appears to include all the individual field data. See Appendix C: Raw Output from CO2 Prophet Model for Historical, Best Practices, and 1.5 HCPV CO2 WAG CO2-EOR Scenarios.
See section 3.5.3 Well drilling and completion pp 59-70.
It also appears to include drilling wells, even if the current fields have been capped. He goes into the detail of drill rig specs from Draw works Appendix F
See Fluid Distribution and Gathering Lines p 70, 71. The lengths of 4" and 6" pipe for CO2 delivery to 20 sq miles is shown.

A critical issue appears to be whether the software "CO2 Prophet" (and ARI's updated CO2 Prophet 2" provide accurate CO2-EOR results. See Appendix A p A1-A3 (141-143)
for model definitions and parameters.

Now I have not read through all 203 pages, but by the weight test, it appears to be substantial.

Let me know if you are still LOL after skimming those two reports. Are these detailed public studies helpful to common citizens with a modicum of technical comprehension?

David - Now that's a great reference report. But you have to read between the lines: "The steady growth of CO2 flooding in the Permian Basin..." Yep...lots of CO2 projects in west Texas...many begun 30+ years ago before the fields were nearly depleted and most of the wells abandoned. " Of this technically recoverable resource, over 57 billion barrels would be economically recoverable at these oil prices and CO2 costs." Except they leave off the big if: IF all those fields still existed. A field is not a reservoir sitting X thousand feet below the ground. A field is a number of wells drilled through an oil reservoirs capable of producing oil through the existing infrastructure at the surface.

That's the most frustrating thing about such reports. They are only using the residual oil volumes left in these plays. Without exception every study I've seen ignores the fact that many of these FIELDS no longer exist. You can neither inject CO2 or produce oil from wells that no longer exist. "Innovative flood design and well placement by adding horizontal production wells and vertical CO2 injection wells...". All well and good but nowhere in the report do they project the costs to do this. My horizontal redevopment project will cost a couple of hundred $million. Capex for such projects is not insignificant if the wells still don't exist.

And that once again brings us back to "technically recoverable": the amount of oil that can THEORETICALLY be recovered regardless of the costs. In other words maybe there's no wells left in the field to produce the oil, no infrastructure left to process it, no active leases (yes...minerals don't tend to let you produce without paying them for the right) and no CO2 available. But if none of the previous were true then that's how much oil could be recovered. "On specific fields, my understanding is that they have parameters on > 70% of all US fields and have them sorted form most to least economical." Except one minor parameter: do all those fields still exist?

"about two-thirds (395 billion barrels) is favorable for CO2-EOR." As you ask: "Now if that is "technically recoverable", what is economic?" And that's another problem with such reports. If they don't know the costs to redrill all those abandoned fields, lay CO2 p/l to them and utilize a reasonable production time line there is no answer to your question. And that leads to a couple of more blind spots. Even their "technically recoverable reserves" are based on models and not actual field histories. "A critical issue appears to be whether the software "CO2 Prophet" ...provides accurate CO2-EOR results." Of course it's critical: they don't have a single example of the model being tested against actual field results. The model may be great or full of unrealistic assumptions. All theory until someone does it. And that's an investment decision done by an oil company...not a govt/academic researcher. And the companies are going to make those decisions based on project specific economics...not big picture numbers. Doesn't matter in the least if there is 500 billion bbls of oil to recovered with CO2 if my project X to recover 1 million bbls of iol can't be justified by the economics. It ain't going to happen.

You notice how they love to refer to successful CO2 projects in the Permian Basin. But you notice the lack of details for those EOR projects? For good reason: yes...X millions of bbls of addition URR was acomplished with all types of EOR projects out there. But at what rate? I've studied the economics of hundreds of EOR projects from around the world. And with one exception (in situ combustion/"fire floods") they recover the addition reserves very slowly. And that slow recovery works heavily against the ROI requirements. And that brings us back to one of the biggest stumbling blocks when anyone offers that X billions of oil can be added to our reserve base from what every effort. The PO problem has nothing to do with how much reserves will eventually be recovered but at what rate. Have you noticed not one single study cheerleading CO2 projects or any other EOR method discusses the rate of recovery. And that rate of recovery is THE primary factor that will determine if such a project is ever undertaken.

And finally: " I welcome the challenge of having to persuade a grizzled hard nosed oil patch red neck with real data at his finger tips." Have at it. LOL. But remember I'm not arguing that there won't be viable CO2 ERO projects to be done in the future. Lots of EOR efforts left to do including the $200 million project I'm currently trying to sell my owner on. But as I've said I've had hundreds of promoters and dreamers and con men try to blow smoke up my butt with their "big picture" ideas. All I hear is "blah...blah...blah" when they talk. I could care less what they or any of the EOR enthusiasts have to say about the big picture. Show me the individual Texas project with details and I can readily tell you if it's a viable idea or not. I really am very good at that. Owwww...just hurt my arm patting my own back.

You ask: "Or is 25% ROI too low for current work in Texas?" Every company would give their back teeth for a 25% ROI in such a relatively low risk investment. Now of all the dozens of reports available to you please point out one specific project with such a profit margin available. My owner would gladly pay you or anyone else a $1 million finder's fee if we could acquire it.

Aren't you the least bit suspicious in that all the talk is about what could be done and not was IS BEING done? Or haven't oil price risen enough to make these projects viable enough yet. Many of the reports date back to the 90's. And now 15+ years later and with record high oil prices they are still are talking about what is possible and not what has happened? Essentially all the reports are trying to "teach" us how to recover all this gold just laying on the ground. I apologize for a slap that includes many dedicated teachers out there but: Those they can...do. Those that can't...teach. It would be nice if the next reference you post is from someone actually doing it...not someone trying to tell someone else how to do it.

Yep...hard-nosed SOB. Too freaking old to change now. LOL

Thanks Rockman for distinguishing a "great" report from the others, and for the comments.
My takeaway is that controlling factors are 1a) existing wells or 1b) drilling costs, 2) CO2 availability and cost, 3) recovery rates, and that 4) 25% ROI would be fantastic but that lower might still be commercial.
OK got my homework cut out for me on how to persuade a hard-nosed SOB.
Best wishes on your project.

I've studied the economics of hundreds of EOR projects from around the world. And with one exception (in situ combustion/"fire floods") they recover the addition reserves very slowly.

You are being a bit generous to ISC here. Getting the production fast is a problem for ISC too. The oil banks in front of the combustion front, and you only get it fast, if you have a production well where the oil bank is. Since the front moves with time, the oil bank isn't that far ahead of the combustion front, and you don't want the oxygen to get into the production well, this is easier said than done.

THAI does it effectively enough, but I am not convinced any other ISC process has managed it reliably and economically.

I think I see this slightly different. As long as supply outstrips demand, the production curve is a response to economic demand. You only pull out what you can sell at a profit, at a rate the you can sell your product. Demand side dominates.

Except oil production has costs - rent to the government, the cost of the men/machines to get the oil out, environmental liability while in production and some of these costs can be quite extreme if your environment is "harsh" like, say the north sea

You may wish to re-evaluate your vision as the above factors do not seem to account for the above list.

You are commenting on the "raw material" for a bastard version of the Central Limit Theorem.

The central limit theorem (in its common form) requires the random variables to be identically distributed. Since real-world quantities are often the balanced sum of many unobserved random events, this theorem provides a partial explanation for the prevalence of the normal probability distribution.


The results will not be a normal distribution, but if you squint, with a small amount of ethanol, it will be "close enough".

Best Hopes for a Smooth Glide Down Hubbert's Curve,


That was my thought also, Alan. But consider that the Central Limit Theorem relies on the random variables being independent. Here we have reason to believe that price, exploration, technology, and above-ground factors (politics) are all strongly (but not necessarily linearly) linked.

Edit: Demand is also linked to price in the long run, we think. It's a ball of wax in a can of worms in a tangle of string.

As I said:

The results will not be a normal distribution, but if you squint, with a small amount of ethanol, it will be "close enough".

Best Hopes for a Smooth Curve Down,


Few totally untested trends remain. There's been exploration activity all around the Arctic Basin fringes, & Snøhvit is busily producing gas at Latitude 72˚N, 140 km offshore.

Predictions for post-peak decline rates need to take account of the difference between onshore & offshore, and I haven't seen any model which adequately addresses this. The problem with offshore production - and particularly DW - is that a well must come online with a production rate of 5000 bpd or so, to give a good financial return. By the time it's dropped to 500 bpd you'll be wondering about a workover or side-track. By the time it's dropped to 50 bpd, you're plugging & abandoning. In comparison, onshore wells in Texas pump an average of 3bpd, I believe? Presumably they're still profitable even at that rate.

So stripper wells enable a long tail-off of post-peak production, onshore, but that's not possible offshore, where overhead costs are unavoidably high. E.g. it can easily cost $500k just to replace a choke valve insert. Increasing oil prices only lower the breakeven barrier to a limited extent. The smallest, oldest & cheapest of our construction vessels has a 1300 cu.metre fuel tank, so at current marine diesel prices a refill costs $1M. When oil goes to $200/barrel, then that refill will cost $2M...

Offshore is now something like 40% of total world production capacity, so the long-tail production has to come from the other 60%. Romania, the world's oldest producer, is still producing 25% of its maximum production, 36 years after they hit PO. Similar story in Texas, I believe? But the UK sector will probably be totally shutdown 36 years after our PO date (1999).

Scottie - "In comparison, onshore wells in Texas pump an average of 3 bpd, I believe?" Only the good ones. LOL. I know a very nice married couple who are netting over $500,000/yr from a bunch of wells making 1/2 bbl per day each. And they been producing their wells for over 30 years. Little pump jacks just about 1 foot tall...kinda cute. Gravity drainage of this heavy oil...takes 24 hours for that half bbl to feed into the tubing.

Unsuccesffully tried to buy them out when oil was less than $30/bbl. But who is going to sell a perpetual money printing machine? LOL. I hate remembering that field: 3 hours per day to manage it 7 days per week. And net $500,000 per year. And my 11 yo daughter could take it over in 9 years and turn it over to her kid in 40 years. Recovery so far? 75% of the oil is still down there.

More from Stuart Staniford in Mother Jones:

Our Oil-Constrained Future

—By Kevin Drum
| Fri Aug. 26, 2011 2:55 AM PDT

Stuart Staniford puts some numbers to this for our most recent recession. What would it have taken for growth to continue at its 2000-08 rate over the past few years?

In the counterfactual world, 2009 gross world product would have been 6.4 percent larger than in the actual world. We can estimate the implications for oil supply because we know that the global income elasticity of oil demand is about 2/3. Thus the counterfactual world would have required an additional 4.5 percent more oil than the real world.

…2009 oil production was around 85 [million barrels per day] (depending on what source you like) so in the counterfactual world we would have needed it to be around 88-89mbd. Now, in 2008, oil production got up to around 86mbd (on an average basis) but doing so triggered (or required) an oil shock in which prices briefly reached $135/barrel on a monthly basis and almost $150 on a daily basis. What would the likely price path have been had the world then needed an additional 2-3mbd the following year?

To give an indication of the scale of 2-3mbd, note that the loss of 1.6mbd of oil this year (Libya) triggered something like a $30 increase in the price of oil (before it became clear that the global economy was slowing again causing prices to fall). That, along with other commodity price increases, was enough to cause a little bump in inflation that significantly reduced the Federal Reserve's latitude for action.


I completely agree with the first part of the last paragraph - that is the loss of high quality oil from Libya, that OPEC can't or won't replace, has lead to a $30 increase in the price of oil for a while.

However I would not discount the ability of the Fed to pursue inflationary policies - at least until the next Presidential election when a new President could replace present Fed board members. The US money base has expanded by a huge $550 billion from one year ago. I would not even discount the ability of the ECB to pursue inflationary policies - despite claims to the contrary. The ECB has already expanded the Euro money base by 130 billion euros just from June 30.


This is from a few weeks ago, but I think Captain Watson's take on the economics of extinction is notable.

“There is no court, no corporation, and no government on earth that will convince us that it is wrong to prevent the extinction of these fish,” said Captain Watson. “The economics of extinction is what we are fighting. Diminishment drives up prices and as the populations of fish in the oceans plummet, the price of frozen fish in the warehouses increases and this, the most expensive fish in the world will become even more expensive. With extinction, the frozen corpses become priceless. This is greed at the height of depravity, showing no respect for nature or regard to future generations, and we will not stand by and allow the bluefin to slip into the oblivion of biological extinction. Whatever the cost, whatever the risk, we intend to defend the bluefin tuna.”

Some folks are starting to get it. An old highschool buddy of mine runs high end sport charters out of Ft Lauderdale and Beaufort, SC. Last summer one of their charters hooked into a large Bluefin, which is a big deal. The sale of one big Bluefin can more than pay for a 24 hour charter, and the customer, captain and crew share in the bounty. Anyway, the charter (customer) paid the Captain $1000 to release the fish unharmed. They estimated the fish was 500+ pounds. Even the crew thought it was pretty cool.

Giant Bluefin Tuna Sells for Record Price

Jan. 5, 2011 -- A monster bluefin tuna sold for a record $396,000 in the year's first auction at the world's biggest fish market in Tokyo Wednesday amid intense pre-dawn bidding.

The 342-kilogram (752-pound) fish -- caught off Japan's northern island of Hokkaido -- fetched a winning bid of 32.49 million yen ($396,000), said an official at the Tsukiji fish market.

OK, this is beyond crazy,,,it's sick, IMO. One hopes that the Fukushima situation has one good result, slightly radioactive Bluefin that nobody wants to pay these obscene prices for, though it'll likely drive prices much higher for Atlantic Bluefin.

An old highschool buddy of mine runs high end sport charters out of Ft Lauderdale and Beaufort, SC.

Hey Ghung, let me know which charter in Ft Lauderdale and I'll say hi to him for you, I might even buy some of his catch...

BTW, though I love sushi, I've stopped eating Tuna.



I'll find his card and email you, Fred. While you guys should hit it off pretty good, I think he spends most of his time doing big billfish tournaments these days. Now that's a good use of resources, huh? (though I wouldn't mind doing a stint as his mate for a while ;-) At least they're only doing catch-tag-release these days, and they help fund research.

As a BC resident when and where Paul Watson started out, I have great scepticism in whatever he says. Paul Watson is a glory seeking individual masquerading as a Knight protecting all diminishing species. Where there is a cause, there is a spotlight and he is the first to alert the press as to when and where he will show up. In mho, he brings great discredit to the environmental movement, and is a mockery of those who quietly go through life living the best way possible.

I well remember Paul Watson staging a spectacle of note in Fort Nelson back in the 80s. Trying to whip up the population against a wolf hunt, he then staged a press attended crusade seeing him head south across the Kechika River to single handedly stop the wildlife biologists from their wolf kill plans. Of course he managed to stumble around in the snow for awhile only to emerge onto the highway for a ride to town pretty much as soon as the cameras left.

Shortly thereafter, he began a well funded crusade with his sea shepard society. I just wonder what he would do to make a living if he did not have these causes? Unfortunately, he latches on to ideas that are true and need support, like the Bluefin Tuna. Making statements that the producers are trying to force extinction is beyond the pale. Every business I know wants to ensure supply, to satisfy demand. Freezing the fish does not raise the quality. A plot to extinction in order to raise prices is a little too much to believe. When they sell the last one, do the co-conspirators high five on the way to the airport? Come on.

The last sentence, "Whatever the cost, whatever the risk, we intend to defend the bluefin tuna.”, lets us know well in advance he will soon start another tv program of courageous battle against the terrible greedy fishermen. I just get so tired of these politics of image. Most fishermen I know, in fact all of them, (and I know lots) are pretty fine people who care about the resource. They are just doing the best they can to make a living.

Excuse my rant, but I would have far more respect for the man if he exposed with a byline, and worked behind the scenes instead of staging them. Remember, 'whatever the cost' really means other people's money.


We need to protect Bluefin tuna, or that are headed for extinction (especially Atlantic Bluefin).
That is the material reality of the situation.
And I'm a former commercial tuna fisherman.

Well said. Fishermen need to speak for this protection, just as you have done. You are worth listening to. I apologize if I have offended you with my rant. A Paul Watson pronouncement is too much like a political leadership race. I admit that if he raises the issue this is a good thing, but as one who doesn't eat tuna, even off the boat, I believe the consumer will decide the issue, eventually.

Instead of racing around the sea harrassing fishermen with the cameras rolling, expose the consumers, embarrass them, harrass them. I assume the dolts who buy this stuff are sushi pounders trying make a statement on how great they are because they can afford to..... Those are the guys to hound, and the restaurants, fish auctions, etc. Just like one needs to be ashamed of buying and driving a hummer, the same can be done with housing and food and all conspcuous consumption.

Politics aside, Watson has no business captaining a ship. If he had been aboard (in any capacity) any of the ships I served on, he would have been "lost at sea, missed muster, circumstances unknown", in short order. It's a wonder the Sea Shepherd, et. al., ever make it back to port. Further, I couldn't watch the show with my wife because virtually none of the crew members are qualified as seamen. 'Comical' is an understatement.

Perhaps rather than focus on this man (or any particular person or movement/organization that one does not respect), it may be more useful to focus on the facts of the situation, and what factors should be changed, and in what way, to mitigate the problem.

These fishing fleets are sent from far shores across the World and are run by people who want to maximize their annual and quarterly profits. They may very well not understand/believe that the fish they profit from will be fished into extinction...they may believe there will always be another under-exploited area of the ocean they could send their fleets to,...or that they could turn their fleets loose on the next-best fish...and/or they may think that these extinction possibilities lie off in the future...comfortably beyond their lives...

If it wasn't for this guy and folks like him, what attention would these issues receive?

How much has behind-the-scenes work accomplished? Some things, no doubt, but enough?

We are an arrogant, short-sighted, greedy species.

The U.N. should establish (and enforce...with force) very conservative fish catch limits on the high seas and regulate away mass catch techniques which snag tremendous by-catch to be throw away, mangled and dead in many cases...

other people's money? money?? we are talking about species extinction here...

Edit: trying to focus on the consumers to educate/shame them is a worthy approach, but we are likely very time-limited with this situation...look how long the drums have been beaten about the dangers of smoking and fast foods, etc.

As a military thinker, let me use those terms; We need to go for the enemy's 'center of gravity', and that is the industrial fish fleet operations. Enforce that down from its current unsustainable practices and regulate it to catch no more than is sustainable in the long-term, using only techniques that do not generate horrific amounts of by-catch. Then the excess number of sushi bars and (wild-caught) fish consumption in general at restaurants and in homes would decline to match.

Time is not on the threatened species' side. Public education techniques can certainly proceed in parallel with the forcible regulatory reigning in of the production side. Finally a more noble use for all those naval vessels we paid dearly to build and operate...

"...They may very well not understand/believe that the fish they profit from will be fished into extinction..."

They don't believe it because their jobs depend on them not believing it. It seems to be a plague these days.

"The U.N. should establish (and enforce...with force) very conservative fish catch limits..."

Unfortunately, H, I predict the opposite will occur. When we see a decline in over-exploitation/consumption of resources it will be because it is no longer profitable or possible. The woodcutters of the Roman Empire didn't stop cutting wood to preserve the forests: No trees, no woodcutters; no fish, no fishing fleets; no soil or water, no farmers; no oil.......

Unfortunately, as peak oil inexorably arrives, there will be a lot less money available for the monitoring of far-seas fisheries by anyone. That's when Japan and others will phase-shift back to pelagic driftnets, currently banned, to get the last biomass from every ecosystem. Which they will do, and perhaps others, most of whom will sell to Japan's market. Highly cost-effective because you take everything that's there; even at much-higher fuel prices.

That's what's coming. Nothing short of having navies sink them will protect the marine habitat at that point. (I have a fondness for Peru using planes to bomb Onassis' whaling fleet forty-some years ago).

The mechanisms, markets, and technologies are in place to scour the oceans. Either some nation or nations will start torpedoing pirate fishing vessels at some point, or most large life will end up in the highest-priced markets as a direct consequence of peak oil. No big secret which I would prefer.

Hey greenish. Our navy has a very good track record of sinking Japanese shipping when they misbehave. It would in fact be a noble way to go, protecting the last of the ocean's wild life from over-exploitation. Japan might declare war on us again, ho hum, deja vu.

Paul is a showman. He's impossible to work with, but he has found a niche. I've heard it said that by others who have worked with him in the past he and the Japan Whaling/Fishing Association(s) are a match made in heaven; both spinmasters. (that last word being a large euphemism).

Bigger battles and more significant victories are often won out of the limelight; there are real limits to what puffery can accomplish. However, when Paul attaches himself to some issue like a venereal disease, it can have an effect. Harassing Japan's cynical and yakuza-affilitated whaling industry is perfect. Getting involved in any situation which can be handled more subtly, less so. The Japan market for bluefin deserves all the high-profile scorn anyone can heap on it. Japan's far-seas fisheries are operated as a quasi-criminal enterprise, always; and the loading ports are yakuza-controlled; the distribution channels are byzantine to facilitate laundering any damn thing onto Japan's markets.

There are more-effective people, sometimes, working behind the scenes. That's not Paul's niche. He's the venereal disease, and some industries - like Japan's fisheries - deserve it. The subtle stuff has been tried with them ad nauseum, and they're simply greedy two-faced sociopaths. If they've come down with an incurable case of "watson", they richly deserve it.

The best allies against rapacious fishing are other fishermen, because they have skin in the game. And I've never met a commercial fisherman who isn't willing to blame the fleets of other nations for falling fish catches, which makes them great allies. Thus, demonizing them all is highly counterproductive. Coalitions which have a lot of fishermen in them are strong, because them guys are hard core.

Paul is a showman, who brags in his books about the art of lying. The symbolism is the substance; the campaigns themselves won't bear much critical scrutiny... but then, we don't live in a society of critical scrutiny. His press releases may be well-suited to a twitter world, where nobody does followup.

And he's right about Japan and many other things. If he'd stick to those, I'd wear his T-shirt.

By what course of action does humanity veer away from the path of causing grave environmental collapse with numerous extinctions?

Apparently there is no hope.

Perhaps the Earth will regenerate a diverse and healthy/in-balance ecosystem a few million years after humanity's flame burns down to an ember or snuffs out.

I think there is hope, but it can't be idle hope; and it may have to be happy with shades of grey.

Numerous extinctions have occurred, and numerous more will occur. However, very many may be determined by events which can still fall multiple ways.

Getting species and carrying capacity past the human overshoot/energy/resource bottleneck - or failing to - will deeply affect the nature of life for the next half-billion years. Evolution only works with what it has available.

Complex interacting systems can be steered some, at least in principle. The game is afoot, and it's a lot more complex than what Mr. Watson does.

RE: Assessing Climate Change in a Drought-Stricken State

On the other end of the planet, the sea-ice is melting back at about the same rate as seen in 2007, which produced a record minimum extent at the end of the melt season. It appears that both the Northwest and Northeast passages are open for business...

E. Swanson

Yep. The North West has been opening and closing like a revolving door the last few weeks due to ice drift, but now it has finally opened up wide and clearly. Now you can be the first to sail around the artic ice sheet using both passages. Not many times you get such an oppurtunity to be first with something.

And the ice coverage, slightly behind the record year or 2007, is slowly slowlycatching up with '07. We'll pick the winner in september.

Cheney wanted Bush to bomb Syria, reveals autobiography. Apparently in 2007.

"But I was a lone voice," Mr Cheney wrote. "After I finished, the president asked, 'Does anyone here agree with the vice-president?' Not a single hand went up around the room."

He says other Bush advisers were reluctant to back his plan because of "the bad intelligence we had received about Iraq's stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction".

Huh? If memory serves me right in 2007 Iraq was not going well, the U.S. was mired in Afghanistan, and there was sabre-rattling with Iran. So this guy was keen for yet another international provocation. The scary part is that for eight years Cheney was a heartbeat away from the presidency.

There are voices saying the former VP is getting off a tad easy. Such are the fruits of elite immunity.

I wonder what all those stayed hands in the room thought about Dick Cheney at that point.

That the man had no pulse due to the mechanical heart and therefore was undead?

Newt Gingrich’s former group, American Solutions, shutters its doors

After Gingrich left to make his run for the R's nomination, his group apparently failed to gather enough contributions to keep the doors open. Gingrich coined the phrase: Drill Here, Drill Now, a plan to bring energy independence to the US. Looks like his efforts to become Fearless Leader aren't doing very well, either...

E. Swanson

From the article,

In its heyday, the group raised more money than any other such organization, collecting more than $52 million in its first four years. Nearly two-thirds of that, however, went toward fundraising, which made it an unusually expensive operation.

Wow! I'm impressed. It takes very special talent to reach that level of incompetency. I'm involved with several organizations that rely on fundraising. Any group that spends 2/3rd of its budget on raising money ... well, what more can be said?

I suppose it depends upon who is doing the fund raising. Did these guys send their money to organizations run by their friends, as a way of rewarding them for their efforts? The result might be a shift of money dedicated to whatever their stated cause might have been toward support of various friends. That would be rather like money laundering in the drug world or US military spending diverted to support black programs being run off the books...

E. Swanson

I'm no Newt fan, but actually large-scale small-gift fundraising is always very inefficient; it's just that most organizations offload much of the "fundraising" cost into bogus "program" line-items. Hint: looking at a group's financials and see a huge "educational" component? Those are the fundraising appeals and boiler rooms and spare outreach staff, which are claimed to be educational. (And they may be, even if that isn't their raison d'être.)

A lot of the early Greenpeace direct mail campaigns used over 99% of income to pay for rolling the same mailings out again to churn and prospect for new members on rented lists, and this was pretty much the industry standard of ALL mass-mailing charities. Most of it was counted as "education program" on the books, and CPA's go along with it in all such groups. Moreover, a lot of the "big disease" charities have large staffs with all sorts of program titles, but they're nearly all doing fundraising.

The actual non-misrepresenting groups out there are thus at a disadvantage to these others. Any group using mass-fundraising methods and paid staff probably has a cost of fundraising in excess of 80%. It doesn't show up on audits.

The groups I've directed on and off since the mid-80's actually do avoid high cost-of-fundraising, and for that reason have only a quarter the budgets they would have if they adhered to industry standards for flimflammery. There is a high cost to be truly efficient, and its understandable that many people think the cause they're espousing justifies the inherent waste of mass fundraising.

There's a lot of book-cooking out there.

...but actually large-scale small-gift fundraising is always very inefficient;

Yes. My uncle spent 30 years at the national office for the YMCA, helping turn around failing branches. His rule of thumb was that to meet the goal for any particular fund-raising project (that is, raise the total amount at reasonable cost), you had to get 50% of the total from one donor, 25% from three more donors, and the last 25% from the little stuff.

He had an incredible little database of people in all different parts of the country who could afford a $100K donation, and what kinds of interests they had that the YMCA could support.

Your uncle knew what he was doing.

Very few groups understand that most donated funds are from a few high donors; that's the most cost-effective fundraising, but it must be actively curried and closed. Most never learn how do do anything but the basics, missing potential very-high donors by accepting relatively small gifts from them.

Such as a "donate" button on a website visited by billionaires.

There would seem to be a difference between the groups which work in support of political candidates and those which work as charities. In a political campaign, the money raised isn't as important as the names and addresses of the people who contribute, who are likely to be voting in support of the stated positions of the PAC during the next election. Newt's group has developed a large database of people, many of whom might not contribute to Newt's campaign but who might be expected to spread his messages directly to other voters and then vote for Newt during an election. His political action committee may be closed, but a DVD ROM with the data base was likely deposited into his briefcase, so to speak.

This election cycle, we are going to see lots of effort by groups which aren't ostensibly connected to a candidate, but which act as if they were. HERE's a story from today's NYT which describes what's happening after last year's Citizens United case, as so-called Super PACs are now actively supporting Repub candidates...

E. Swanson

Mid America Energy‘s Rolling Hills Wind Farm at Massena,Iowa nears completion:


It was featured on this week’s Market to Market:


Iowa had the warmest July since 1955. August has continued the trend. Likely lower corn yields helped corn hit new highs Friday.

This along with very low interest rates has encouraged speculators to flee financial assets for hard assets like gold and farm land.

Saudi OPEC Governor admitted in June 2009 that Peak Oil: “Maybe 10-20 years from now”

in a Confidential diplomatic cable from the US Embassy in Riyadh:

"Asked about the peak oil theory, Moneef said the decline rate for Saudi oil fields averaged 4% for the Kingdom, compared to 6-8% worldwide. He said "peak oil exists since petroleum is a depletable resource but the peak is not around the corner. Maybe 10-20 years from now."(10 Jul 2009)


June 2008 Confidential diplomatic cable from the US Embassy in Riyadh:

“While this Mission is far from embracing doomsday "Peak Oil" theorists, Saudi Aramco's challenges are significant.”


May 2006 Confidential diplomatic cable:

"Finally, he dismissed Matt Simmons's peak oil thesis: "I know Matt. I think he is a very nice guy. But he's a banker. He came to Aramco for two weeks and suddenly he thinks he's a geologist. The book is just rubbish. I've met him, but I've never discussed the book with him." "


All for now,

my twitter: @LionelBadal

Gas in place estimates for shale gas resource plays is only an exercise for arm waving bureaucrats. Each of the gas resource plays in the U.S. has followed similar development paths. Gas production from shale zones has been known to occur for decades. Generally, there are a handful of verticals that were completed in the shale formation as a secondary target for what would have been a dry hole. These wells were fracture stimulated and placed on production at low rates and were marginally economic depending upon product prices. The game changers for the natural gas industry were:
1. Advances in horizontal drilling technologies. Each resource play started out with marginal vertical completions which led to early horizontal attempts. “Slant hole drilling” began with less than 500’ laterals in the Fayettteville shale, whereas 3500’ laterals are now the norm in the play. Laterals in the Bakken and Haynesville shale reach 10,000’. Geo-steering additionally allows the operator to penetrate sweet spots as identified by 3D seismic attributes.
2. External casing packers allow the operator to isolate specific frac stage intervals. This has resulted in increasing the number of intervals that can be stimulated and higher initial production rates. Whiting Petroleum has recently completed a Bakken well with 32 frac stages, a two to three fold increase from wells that were drilled just a few years ago.
The key to unlocking the gas in shale reservoirs has been longer laterals and increased number of frac stages which results in improved individual well economics. The larger companies can then achieve economies of scale by implementing large scale drilling programs. The bottom line is learning what technologies work to convert a resource to proved developed producing status. The natural gas industry has accomplished this via free market competition, good science and engineering, and not by some bureaucrat or Agency estimate.

Gas in place estimates for shale gas resource plays is only an exercise for arm waving bureaucrats.

So...because the USGS didn't do an inplace calculation, they must be populated with geologists and whatnot rather than bureaucrats? This is good, right?

Chesapeake's DFW Airport (18,000 acre) lease is an interesting case history. Prior to drilling, Chesapeake described it, based on extensive 3D seismic surveys, as one of the best producing areas in the Barnett Shale. The predicted recoverable reserves from the lease of about one TCF (1,000 BCF), with late 2011 production of about 250 MMCFPD.

It appears that recoverable reserves from the lease might be around 100 BCF, and late 2011 production will probably be about 25 MMCFPD, about 10% of what they predicted it would be.

Rick Perry Is a Higher-Education Visionary

Perry’s next big higher education announcement, made during his 2011 State of the State address, challenged public universities to use information technology to create a bachelor’s degree program that would cost students only $10,000—total.

Perry's seven solution plan in Texas includes teaching measurements, rewards to increase teaching skill, split research and teaching budgets, teaching skill requirement for tenure, quality contracts with students, student control of state funding and results-based accrediting.

I'm unsure what to think of these plans. Oftentimes, folks with little knowledge of teaching are source for such plans.

Then there is the "Good Will Hunting" approach "get a library card and read". Of course the Boston public library is better than most.

I guess not much laboratory experience for $10,000. OK for English majors but what about chemistry, biology, and physics. Well I guess those can be handled by the Koreans, Taiwanese, Chinese, Indians, Russians, Germans, where they can provide extensive fours of labs for a total of only $5000 (except Germany).

There has never been a better time to be an autodidact. There is a huge amount of material that is available much less expensively than ever in the past.

The question of the future will not be "how can educators best teach their students"? It will be "how can parents best inspire their children to learn"?

One of the great global "flatteners" is the growing availability of learning materials cheaply in the great majority of countries. This is a main driver of developing human capital in those countries. A highly talented, highly motivated person who wants to learn software developement can do so with a personal computer and internet access.

The most talented people are necessarily autodidacts, since it is unlikely that they will have equally talented teachers.

'The question of the future will not be "how can educators best teach their students"? It will be "how can parents best inspire their children to learn"?'

A good point, but... I think that has been the issue all along. Past, present, and future.

Must go now, Irene is knocking on my door with some pretty frisky lightning and thunder. Here we go!...

I think its pretty difficult to be a completely self-reliant autodidact. Especially, in math-heavy subjects. I expect the traditional teaching institutions aren't going to go away. I do have real hope, that the financial barriers to acquiring an education can be significantly reduced for those who have partial-auto-didact skills.

I think its pretty difficult to be a completely self-reliant autodidact. Especially, in math-heavy subjects.

One can't be 'completely self-reliant' - you are building on the works of others. Over on Global Guerallas they are pointing out the $20 cost VS the $20,000 cost of education.
(And a web ad I read had nail techs needing to spend $15,000 to get a "local" degree. $15K. To be a nail tech.)

I think its pretty difficult to be a completely self-reliant autodidact. Especially, in math-heavy subjects.

That is unless your name is Gauss

That is but a mere quibble, on the whole I am in complete agreement with you, maths is a difficult subject if you don't have a feel for the subject

Merrill – Had not ever thought about it but here’s my personal experience. I received my BS in Earth Sciences from LSU-New Orleans in 1973. In the ES dept we had one of the best ratios of students/professors in the country and no Masters program. The undergrads had a relationship more akin to grad students. Often no more than 20 in a class. Thus a great deal of attention from our teachers. But I would guess that 95% of my education came from my self directed studies and not the classroom interactions even though I did do a couple of special projects. Our learning was primarily a function of self discipline. IOW how you applied yourself to the effort. The main motivation from our professors came from testing and not classroom lectures. And testing was tough. We ran on the honor system. Normally finals were given in 2 hours. With our honor system our profs could give us tests that could take 6 to 12 hours to complete…and many did

Just MHO but if I had the computers and Internet we have today it would have so much easier. Probably could have finished in 3 years instead of four. In addition to self directed studies maybe a 2 hour Q&A session with the profs once a week would have sufficed. Probably could have cut the staff 75%. The uni was experiencing a huge growth when I was there that led to a big building boom. But essentially just building classrooms to sit in while hearing lectures. Obviously couldn’t have eliminated all the infrastructure but a good bit wasn’t needed.

Grad school is an even better example. At Texas A&M I only took about 12 courses. The rest of the effort was working on my thesis research = 100% personal effort. Would have been so much easier with the Internet. How many here remember spending days going though the card catalog, hunting shelves for books that were checked out or waiting a week or two to have one transferred shipped from another library. What I spent one week doing in the library I could accomplish twice as much in half a day on the net. And composing on a manual typewriter and drafting displays with pen and ink. I could have written my thesis in several months instead of a year.

So could students perform as well without a professor looking over their shoulder? Why not? We did. We had a very nurturing relationship with our profs. But only 18 of the 46 members of my sophomore class got their degree. In the end you either did it on your own or you didn’t. I suspect a big part of the high early drop out rate in college these days is that many think it will be like many high schools: just sit in class, listen to the lecture, go though the motions and get your degree.

I know some folks poo-poo online degrees. I did too...sorta. But upon relflection I would have been no less educated had I done my BS one line than inside that brick and mortar. And probably a tad bit more knowledgable. If you don't have the discipline to handle it online then I doubt you'll get it sitting in a lecture hall. The current college drop out rate seems to support that opinion.

At the University of Minnesota in the '60s, most courses during the first two years for all engineering majors were taught by professors giving lectures in rooms holding anywhere from 100 to 350 or so students. You could interact with a professor during office hours, but this did not seem to be encouraged. Otherwise, you could interact with grad student teaching assistants in a once a week session or with the lab assistant if the course had a lab.

The lectures could have been completely replaced by DVD recordings, and probably would have been better prepared with better illustrating material if they had been recorded.

Students who did not have "good study habits" did poorly on the mid-term and final exams, and washed out during the first two years.

Upper class courses were smaller and the professors were much more helpful in class dialog and in consultations. However, quality varied, and one of the most frustrating courses was where the professor copied his notes on the blackboard and the students dutifully copied them down. There was no text. The text was published a couple of years later by the professor, and is essentially the same as his notes.

In studying, it was often useful to browse the library for a more advanced text or monograph on the subject. The introductory chapters of a more advanced text would often recapitulate the subject in a very concise way, leading to a "so that's what it is all about" reaction.

Merrill - Had the same experience with the culling course in our Earth Science program: sophomore Mineralogy. Prof did the same thing: wrote his lecture on the blackboard...just as it was written in the textbook. And again you one or lost with the exams. The final took me over 9 hours and I wrote over 60 pages of answers. The only easy part of the course: figuring out what to study. It was easy: you spilled back every bit of info we were taught. None of the ussual "Do you think he'll ask about X?" Prof was a very nice guy...and we all hated his guts by the end of the semester. More than half the cull happened sophomore year. Calculus also took its toll. LOL

Culling classes? We called them weedout classes. I guess it depends on whether you are from a ranching school or a farming school.

Mass and Energy Transport was the weedout class in my field. If you couldn't get through calculus you were gone by the end of your sophomore year. If you couldn't apply calculus, Transport got you in your junior year.

Funny thing is, after spending all that time on math, I never used it again. Everything is pretty much high-school algebra, or a horrid nightmare that you let a computer beat on for awhile. Applied Numerical Methods is probably the most useful math class I took, and linear algebra a close second.

I found that tensor calculus helped me understand the physical world better - but very rarely have I applied the math to a real problem.


Where I went to college, a good percentage of the students expressed an interest in being pre-med when they first started. So the culling classes were the intro to biology and organic chemistry.

My interests were more with math/physics and they had no need to cull students. In retrospective, it would have been interesting to have taken organic chemistry (without the pre-med students) or perhaps some geology classes, but there was only so much one could squeeze in. I guess the one overarching thing that I came away from college with is the idea that learning never stops. You don't need to sign up for formal classes somewhere - you go where your curiosity takes you, and that sometimes leads to surprising things (like this website).

PV - Oddly enough the same applies for petroleum geologists. Even though the majors would only hire folks with Master's degrees most geologists coming out of school have little background applicable for the oil patch. Doing my thesis on an petroleum project was very rare. Most universities didn't offer a single course related to petroleum geology. That's why the majors spend the first five years training us.

Something to remember about the graying oil patch: between college and OTJ training it takes a good 10 years before a geologist becomes a useful mammal. Longer for engineers. And then there's the old joke: "Please don't tell my mom I work for an oil company...she thinks I play piano in a whore house".

The most talented people are necessarily autodidacts

The vast majority of autodidacts, on the other hand, have a fool for a teacher. (I count myself in that group. ;-) )

A large percentage of what I would call brick-and-mortar learning could be replaced with virtual learning via well-written custom software and well-thought-out implementation of current technologies. Interaction with a teacher would not necessarily end. For example, I've participated in interactive virtual training for MSDN provided by Microsoft. Training details are sent via Outlook email as a Calendar invite. Calendar entry includes time, phone number, communicator link and documentation. A conference phone number is called that provides an automated gatekeeper for asking questions. Press #7 to ask a question. A link is provided for on-screen presentation. The communicator session allows participants to send questions to trainer or the phone can be used. The trainer is able to disable phone questions until end of training and training proceeds with less interruption.

Many lab tasks could be simulated with interactive software. Tasks that are impossible to simulate should be identified and brick-and-mortar learning provided for these tasks.

There are many college campus experiences that are not formally labeled as learning and I'm not sure how much attention they need. Many of these may be lost if cost of learning is primary concern.

The university education greatly expanded in the late 1800s, not mainly as an educational route to the middle class, but as a mark of the family having arrived in the middle class. In THE AGE OF EMPIRE, Hobsbawm writes:

Its major function was not utilitarian, in spite of the potential financial returns from trained intelligence and specialized knowledge in an age increasingly based on scientific technology, and in spite of its opening careers a little more widely for meritocratic talent, especially in the the expanding industry of education itself. What counted was the demonstration that adolescents were able to postpone earning a living. The content of education was secondary, and indeed the vocational value of the Greek and Latin on which British 'public school' boys spent so much of their time, of the philosophy, letters, history and geography which filled 77 percent of the hours in French lycees (1890), was negligible. Even in practical-minded Prussia, the classical Gymnasien in 1885 contained almost three times as many pupils as the more 'modern' and technically minded Realgymnasien and Ober-Realgymnasien. Moreover, the cost of providing such an education for a child was itself a social marker. One Prussian official, who calculated it with German thoroughness, spent 31 percent of his income on his three sons' education over a period of thirty-one years.

Formal education, preferably crowned by some certificate, had hitherto been irrelevant to the rise of a bourgeoisie, except for those learned professions inside and outside public service which it was the main function of universities to train, in addition to providing an agreeable environment for the drinking, whoring and sporting actvities of young gentlemen, to whom actual examinations wer quite unimportant. Few nineteenth-century businessmen were graduates of anything. The French polytechnique at this period did not especially attract the bourgeois elite. A German banker, giving advice to a budding industrialist in 1884, dismissed theory and university education, which he considered merely 'a means of enjoyment for times of rest, like the cigar after lunch'. His advice was to get into practical business as soon as possible, look for a financial backer, observe the USA, and gain experience, leaving higher education to the 'scientifically trained technician', whom the entrepreneur would find useful. From a business point of view this was plain common sense, though it left the technical cadres dissatisfied. German engineers bitterly demanded 'a social position corresponding to the engineer's significance in life'.

Schooling provided above all a ticket of admission to the recognized middle and upper zones of society and a means of socializing the entrants into the ways which would distinguish them from the lower orders.

Universities and colleges still play an important role in confirming the ability of families to spend liberally on their offspring's educations, providing the opportunity for social and business networking with other student in the same social class (including meeting a well-qualified spouse), and confirming the students status by granting diplomas (as well as other distinctions, memberships, etc.).

...challenged public universities to use information technology to create a bachelor’s degree program that would cost students only $10,000—total.

Yeah, it will be a Bible School (BS) degree program in flat earth theory, abiotic oil production and creation science...

Can't wait for the MS and PhD programs that will follow!

I read an article where Kinky Friedman stated, "God talks to televangelists, football coaches, and people in mental hospitals. Why shouldn’t he talk to Rick Perry?"

I will point out that Rick Perry is a proud graduate of Texas A&M University, with a very low GPA. He shared one skill set with that other Texas President - they were both cheerleaders.

Two photos


Best Hopes for No More Texas Cheerleading Presidents,


I'm a strong auto-didact, and have done pretty well with distance learning classes and simply reading textbooks. Those classes that irritate me are ones where the prof doesn't provide full notes on-line, and you have to wade through hours of lecture to fill out the details and get hints about exam questions and homework.

Give me a well-written book, thoughtful homework, and a modest set of discussion notes and I'll be successful.

Interestingly, the DL classes I've taken of late are EXPENSIVE though! For a part-time professional or employer-paid student, a couple of grand per class is tolerable. For a BS degree, it would suck. Start-up costs for high-quality content are likely high, but over time these programs have to be cash-cows.

The aspect we all need to realize is that cheap, high-quality education isn't really the current college goal; keeping all the kids busy while siphoning off money from them and their parents to all sorts of vendors and bankers is.

The best schools filter the input stream but still play the same games once you're in. Sure, some will get a decent education and some of those will be great contributors to society. Most of those would have done fine self-teaching themselves anywhere, though.

Many MIT classes are available on-line for FREE. Anybody can go learn a lot, but will be unable to prove they've done so. A service to test a persons performance against those class teachings and render a degree based on that would seem to have value. Content seems to be available.

Many MIT classes are available on-line for FREE. Anybody can go learn a lot, but will be unable to prove they've done so. A service to test a persons performance against those class teachings and render a degree based on that would seem to have value. Content seems to be available.

Speaking of which...


21H.207 The Energy Crisis: Past and Present
As taught in: Fall 2010

The only question I have is how come there is not a single mention of the TOD site anywhere?!

You have to face the fact that this place is still considered a 'fringe crackpot theory internet blog' to the mainstream.

I'm not sure that is completely true at the level of an MIT course about The Energy Crisis, in any case I left some feedback for them and suggested they check TOD out.


The MIT website mentions Peak Oil in The Coming Years syllabus.

One of the recommended readings is Colin Mason's book, A Short History of the Future: Surviving the 2030 Spike.

The only question I have is how come there is not a single mention of the TOD site anywhere?!

Why would there be?

Why would there be?

Why are you, or any one else, here?!

FM - Me? I've got bad knees and MS. When I'm not at work and just sitting on my butt in a big recliner at home where the heck else would I be? LOL. Thanks to a lack of technical background many on TOD think I'm very wise geologist and a few have elevated me to demi-god status. Heck, my wife and dogs don't pay much attention to anything I have to say anymore.

Heck, my wife and dogs don't pay much attention to anything I have to say anymore.

LOL! Oh oh, When your dogs start to ignore you, that's when you know it's really time to pack it in!


I enjoy the easy social banter of people interested in a common topic. Who would ever confuse that with a technical reference?

The U.S. may very well have forces in Afghanistan until 2024.


the Obama administration is now negotiating a “pact” with the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai that could leave American military “trainers” -- thousands of them -- as well as special operations forces, and the U.S. Air Force settled into some of the enormous Afghan bases the Pentagon has built there until… 2024.

According to an Inspector General audit released in April 2011:

...some of the $10 billion a year being poured into training, building up, and supplying Afghanistan’s police is simply missing-in-action. Gone. Nowhere in sight. Not accounted for.

Afghanistan is a U.S. money-pit:

If all goes well, the U.S. and its allies can continue to offer another 13 years’ worth of military and “development” funding that, as a June report by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Democratic majority staff indicated, already accounts for 97 percent of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product. And as that report (and so many others before it) also made clear, that funding has a remarkable way of “developing” next to nothing.

And exactly how long will the U.S> retain 25,0000-50,000 troops in the Iraq?

Another 50 years? longer? How long have we maintained troops in Europe and South Korea and Japan?

Why is this not an issue with the American people, most of whom are concerned about our annual deficits and our accumulated debt? Could it be that our perpetual war machine represents waaayyy too much income for our defense contractors and all the folks in the employ of the military-defense-complex? Can you all grok middle-and-upper-class welfare?

We should implement substantial cuts in our non-military spending, but only when matched by substantial cuts in military/defense/security training.

Is there no way to turn from this path?

The US economy consists of what the government pays for.
1) education
2) medical
3) security (police town, county, state federal), military, spy organizations (NSA, NRO, CIA)
4) roads
5) water and sewer systems
6) subsidized agriculture
7) subsidized oil
8) section 8 housing
9) food stamps

I wonder what percentage is in these and what percentage is outside these categories?

This graphic might help a bit


Fred, this is an awesome graphic...I spent some time magnifying it and scrolling all around the graphic...I just tried to order the poster (in fact I was going to order several depending on the price) and the 2011 version is sold out.

I subscribed to the author's site to get in line to order the 2012 version.

I would recommend that anyone interested in the U.S. budget (where does our money, and the borrowed money, go?) examine this closely...perhaps even order the oster if its cost is reasonable and one is sufficiently interested.

I wonder if Jonathan Callahan could partner with this author and put the U.S> budget over time into a data browser format, from the overall budget down through all of its major components, and sub components.

Then get with the folks who created the site where one can turn the knobs on the budget and increase or decrease spending and revenues.

Tie those three things together, and hyperlink everything to a 'U.S. budget Wiki' with all the detailed words, numbers, etc.

It would make the budget much more accessible and understandable to more people than is the case currently.

transparency and accessibility is good!

I wonder if Jonathan Callahan could partner with this author and put the U.S> budget over time into a data browser format, from the overall budget down through all of its major components, and sub components.

I'd sure like to see something like that! Especially if I could fiddle with some knobs or sliders to create future scenarios. As it is I was particularly struck by some of the decade long trends.




Another thought...in additionally to my wish list stated above, it would be great to have information on how much the states (collectively, and ideally, broken down individually) spent on the same focus areas (Health&Human Service, law enforcement, education, transportation, etc) and further, to be able to differentiate the federal contributions to these state budget areas from the portion funded by state revenues.

Having a third layer of information what what was spent by localities/municipalities on the same areas collectively would give the last part of the government budget/revenue/spending picture.

Being able to visualize data helps immensely in achieving better understanding..and that should be the foundation for planning and action.

Now, off to walk with my dog...have a great rest of the weekend,


You put #3 in a pretty mild position, considering our military expenditures outpace by several times the next countries down on the list.

According to SIPRI, the US spends 43% of the global expenditure on Military, China is second at 7.3%, and the UK, Russia and France come in all at around 3.5% each.


Within that, of course, is all the private 'military' that we the US hire, and all the manufacturing contracts that are driven by this taxpayer money.

Basically what i see in those charts and pictures is the result of a group of people who got too used to the large profits they got during the cold war. the perpetual build up of arms and armor out of fear of attack. notice how others tried to cut back once that precevied fear turned out to be false. around 1989-90 when the ussr collapsed. also i notice how the climb started again in 2000 when the Clinton administration was ending and with it their plans on cutting back due to no large nation sized military threat..

Well, I'm not disagreeing, but I think I'd also point out that much of what anyone does is habitual. Our brains couldn't handle doing everything with fresh, original thinking throughout the day.. so our activities are a collection of built up routines, from muscle memory to travel routes.

A large country's Military Infrastructure and Aquisition Patterns is probably no different in the long run.. just harder habits and expectations to revise and rethink. Ever try quitting a favorite drink?

I am not trying to imply malice(as in doing this just to be evil) in any part but them trying to get things back to the way they are used to. I am also trying to point out that the current war on terror looks, smells, and walks the exact same as the cold war. heck in most cases they used the exact same idea's just replaced communists with terrorists and ussr with alquida. remember when it was said that all terrorists in Europe were directed by or funded by the ussr back in the 70's and early 80's?

personally i think it's just the interests of a group of private companies, who happen to be in the business of providing weapons, infrastructure, and logistics to a military and the heads of state there that had their entire working careers doing this that are at fault. the only apt comparisons i can think of are 'imagine a world where the horse and buggy operators were as deeply embedded with the government as theses defense companies are now when the car came out' or look at what the mpaa & riaa are doing now that their structured and tightly controlled distribution and systems have been made obsolete by the internet.

Capital can not abide a limit. It turns it into a barrier and then circumvents or transcends it.

The question is how will capitalism circumvent or transcend Peak Oil?


Peak Oil demonstrates the failure of both capitalism and Marxism in that it can not be easily circumvented or transcended.

Amen! I use to say that both Marxism and Capitalism are industrialisms. The difference is that while they both require cheep acces to recourses to work, Capitalism actually DO work under those conditions while Marxism don't.

Wich is why I used to be a capitalist but nowI am niether.

Neither capitalism nor communism exists today if at all by text book definition. Mainly because both systems do not scale to the national level. Both systems also seem to require people to behave in such a manner that does not exist on the national level let alone how people actually act. A form of both does exist in small tribes and communities but only because those who abuse the system face much higher costs to do so. they could be directly harming kin or their very own survival.

I find this 'Fission Stories' posted as a weekly feature to be most interesting:


Tip of my hat to the Union of Concerned Scientists for publishing information such as this.

The Spin on Changing Marcellus Gas Estimates
USGS says there are many reasons that assessments might disagree - the use of different data, or proprietary information. Doug Duncan, associate program coordinator of the USGS's energy resources program, said the agency only makes its assessment after observing reliable production data over at least a 30-month period.

The wide ranging estimates for the URR of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale continues to sound like a debate over the production profiles of horizontal and fracked wells. If the wells produce rapidly for the first few years and then slow to a trickle, the industry estimates may be wildly overstated to attract investors.

Blue - A couple of observations about the Survey's estimate of URR from the Marcellus. First, the observatiion of 30 months of production gives little insight into this value. Recoverable reserves from any unconventional play is not uniform. There are sweet spots and dead zones. Companies will try to hit the better areas first thus th origial recoveries will be above average. OTOH the industry often get's it wrong and the origibal wells are of lesser quality then later ones. OTOOH each play has its own learning curve. Early wells are often not engineered in the best way.

Second, and this might sound a tad catty, but who cares what the Survey thinks? LOL. Seriously. The companies in the play not only have their estimate based upon more detailed data but they are driven to drill by dynamics beyond the URR. No company drills a single well or 300 wells based upon a trend's UUR. They drill each well on its specific attributes so it doesn't matter if any company thinks there are 10 tcf or 300 tcf to recover. So even if the Survey accurately estimates the URR is 50 tcf based on their assumptions the oil patch may not reach that level or might exceed it. Oil patch efforts will be determined by our criteria...not that of the USGS.

Those interested in open source textbooks might want to look at


Thanks, Ed!

German trains to run on wind and solar.

Since this is hard to comprehend on a calm night there needs to be a checklist for claims that an industry runs on green electricity. For starters the total amount of such claims (say in megawatt hours) should not exceed the amount of green electricity actually produced. Then some account needs to be made of backup costs such as spinning reserving and cycling of gas fired power plants.

I think the 'easy being green' claimant should overcompensate by buying extra green electricity to cancel out the CO2 from running the backup. How much that is is a tricky calculation I won't do here but there are parallel examples. In Australia several desalination plants claim to be 'offset' by wind farms. This wouldn't be a problem if they were directly connected but the larger grid keeps the desalination going when the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine. That couldn't happen without fossil fuels. No backup no service. Therefore claims that trains or desalination plants are 100% run with green electricity are bogus.

Germany has both hydro and hydro pumped storage and access to a lot in the EU( as does Frances to back up nuclear).
Australia also has >7GW hydro capacity,and 2GW pumped hydro, more than enough to back up the 2GW wind capacity.
I think we should at least include hydro as part of "green" renewable energy

German and Swiss pumped storage, and hydroelectric with dams, can make such claims quite true.

Best Hopes for more Pumped Storage,


Coast Guard, BP find no Macondo oil leak

...the British oil giant sent a remotely operated vehicle down Thursday night to inspect the Macondo wellhead a mile beneath the Gulf surface, and the oil giant found no evidence of a leak...

This would be the same BP that had been caught at least 2 times using photoshop to doctor photos during the oil volcano back in the day?

They should be trusted at this time because?

Because they crossed their hearts and hoped to die?

Doesn't matter whether we trust BP or not. The Coast Guard had observer on hand at ever step. So the question is: do you trust your govt? The govt has the primary responsiblity for evaluating the situation...not BP. That would akin to sending the fox to the coop to see if the chickens are OK.

So the question is: do you trust your govt? The govt has the primary responsiblity for evaluating the situation...not BP.

The same government that had BP fill out the forms in light pencil and then had the government staffers trace over the pencil in ink?


CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports inspectors even went so far as to let oil companies literally fill out their own inspection reports using pencils. MMS inspectors would write on top of the pencil in ink and turn in the completed form.

What have these institutions done to earn or keep trust?

"...question is: do you trust your govt?"

answer is: Nope


"do you trust your govt?"

Do you mean that 'govt' that is a fully owned subsidiary of BP and its fellow mega-corporations?

Freedom: The Movie that Dares to Defend Ethanol

"Freedom” starts off by confronting the arguments against ethanol and goes straight to the source, interviewing the scientists whose work has been most effective in damaging ethanol’s reputation as a responsible fuel choice. And one by one, the Tickells throw every argument into question. To challenge the argument that turning corn into fuel is tantamount to taking food from the mouths of children, the Tickells visit the Corn Belt to interview farmers. Turns out that only a small percent of the nation’s corn harvest is used for food. Most is industrialized corn, grown for processing into by-products and additives. To prove the point, the Tickells hike halfway up a mini-mountain of kernels and try a mouthful. Sure enough, the stuff is tasteless and inedible — like munching on gravel.


I have never heard of this explanation for the establishment and then repeal of prohibition before.

One of the film’s more remarkable assertions is that Rockefeller was responsible for pushing the law that resulting in Prohibition, a law that was carefully crafted to outlaw the production of farm alcohol as well as bootleg booze. Up to that point, auto pioneer Henry Ford had presided over an expanding auto industry that was fueled by renewable, farm-based agrofuels. (Ford even used hemp to make body parts for some of his vehicles.)

According to Tickells’ narrative, it wasn’t impatience with the gangland tactics of organized crime that lead to a repeal of Prohibition, it was Henry Ford’s personal capitulation to Oil Baron Rockefeller. When Ford agreed to abandon farm-alcohol as a fuel, Rockefeller signaled it was time to pull the plug on Prohibition. [For more, see “Rockefeller, Ford and the Secret History of Alcohol” at: http://www.prisonplanet.com/rockefeller-ford-and-the-secret-history-of-alcohol.html.]

This was mentioned a few times on TOD - tied to discussions about using booze to make tires.

It may be 100% true, or 100% a lie. Makes for a fine story, no matter the truth or lack thereof. And can teach the lesson that things are not what we've been told.

You get bonus story telling points if you tie in the Hearst publishing empire's spending during the same timeframe to get rid of the new hemp fiber machine and preservation of the the pine forests just purchased.

Turns out that only a small percent of the nation’s corn harvest is used for food. Most is industrialized corn, grown for processing into by-products and additives. To prove the point, the Tickells hike halfway up a mini-mountain of kernels and try a mouthful. Sure enough, the stuff is tasteless and inedible — like munching on gravel.

That proves nothing at all. If the price of corn is high, say because of a mandatory blending requirement, then some farmers will choose to plant corn instead of their usual crops. This means that there's less of those other crops, so their prices rise, too.

Kids are over-represented among poor people; when prices rise, some kids do eat less.

Granted, the above is not obvious to the uncritical mind. But the Tickells sure are not helping to spread knowledge and understanding here.

Michele Bachmann Takes Issue With "Radical Environmentalists"

argumentia ad ignorantem or, who needs an environment anyway?

Michele Bachmann is behind Ron Paul in latest Gallup poll.
Perry: 29%, Romney: 17%, Paul: 13%, Bachmann: 10%

I think we can all take comfort in that.

The bad news is that Mr. Good Hair has almost a third of the field.

dohboi - Bad news??? Imagine how boring the race would be if the R's ran another old Grey Hair instead of Good Hair. I figure regadless of who gets elected we're still screwed so why not have a good laugh while we're at it. LOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL.

Ahhh, the Boris Johnson effect.

Problem is, then they DO get elected, and suddenly it's not so funny anymore. They open their mouth and you cringe at the stupid insanity of it - like the uncle who's borderline insane and fun at family gatherings, until you have a visitor who they start haranguing about the government mind control ray.

And Boris was at least intelligent, underneath the buffoon exterior. Good Hair is an idiot all the way to the core.

Please, can we have minimum sanity and intelligence standards for those in public office, and no more joke candidates like Perry.

gary - I keep warning folks to stop underestimating Good Hair. He is not an idiot. He is a Class A preditory politician. He will say/do anything to to win. Doesn't matter if you and I don't buy his BS...he's not after our vote. I've observed such Texas politicians for most of my adult life: the Bush clan didn't capture the White House on numerous occasions because they were idiots. Tell me: did you also think the bush baby was an idiot back when he ran? How that turn out for you? LOL

You'd be getting a lot more pushback on this, I think, if you didn't have a lot of agreement on this.

.. and as with the Bachman comments the other day, the more the Left calls him names, ANY names, the better that just makes it for him to win with his target audience.

Bob, .. confirmed Progressive. (can't call myself a Democrat .. just another in the herd'0'cats)

joker - I know it's been used too much but it still true for many folks...both left and right: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Many folks on the religious right might not have paid attention to Good Hair until the left starting making fun of his religion. I don't understand why it's so difficult for some folks on the left to get it. How do they feel when someone on the right calls President Obama a communist? Makes them back off their convictions and consider not supporting him? I'm no big fan of Good Hair. A great many battles have been lost solely by underestimating the enemy.

hear, hear!

Well what do you expect us to do about 'em?

You know I like that Twain quote,

"Always tell the truth. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest."

My approach to a Perry or any such opponent is to treat them with respect and as peers, and let their foolishness shine on its own. It doesn't mean you fail to challenge the points you object to.. but doing it from the high road means they get the mud pit all to themselves, and don't win any points from your 'below the belt' strikes.

Most will say this won't work, it's off the table, etc.. Many will expect it to look too 'elitist', and you'd have to be careful not to be that, (Gore and Kerry couldn't quite pull it off.. unless you're actually counting the votes that came in..) that's as unhelpful as the mud pit.

The middle road is the hardest, especially in such a time of polarization and reaction.

Easy answer eric: support your candidate and don't do anything to motivate folks to vote for his opponent. Same question as before: when was the last time "the other side" belittled your favorite candidate and you were't motivated more to vote for your guy?

And remember what this thread was about way back when: not comments by TODsters but by the MSM and the other talking heads.

The whole idea of Perry as president makes me shudder. Mainly because we have choices today as to how badly screwed we will be in the future, and by picking a Perry we would be going down the path of being more screwed.

From the article:

AP/The Huffington Post) POINCIANA, Fla. — Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann claims the U.S. has more energy resources than any other country but isn't exploiting them because of "radical environmentalists."

Bachmann said with shale oil, natural gas and coal, the United States shouldn't be "begging" others for oil and energy supplies. She said "we are the king daddy dogs when it comes to energy," but that environmentalists are preventing resources from being tapped.

With untapped oil reserves in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and off the nation's coasts, shale oil in Western states, and rich natural gas and coal deposits, she said the U.S. "is sitting on a mother lode of treasure." As president, Bachmann said she would unlock those resources and eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency.

Actually, regarding most people's working assumptions regarding energy resources, Bacmann is pretty much within the mainstream. Some quotes about Peak Oil that I posted following Robert's article about Bachmann:


Happy stories win elections. We do not elect sourpusses.

Yup, but to be realistic not all those who are elected are in control anyway..

I feel better already just knowing I am a king daddy dog!


With untapped oil reserves in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and off the nation's coasts, shale oil in Western states, and rich natural gas and coal deposits, she said the U.S. "is sitting on a mother lode of treasure." As president, Bachmann said she would unlock those resources and eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency.
"The radical environmentalists have demanded that we lock up all our energy resources," she added. "President Bachmann will take that key out of the door. I will unlock it."

Uh huh! Riiiiight! So the two oil men, George W Bush and Dick Cheney, the same two guys who managed to pull off a war with Iraq because of weapons of mass destruction the same guys who weren't exactly very friendly towards the so called radical environmentalists such as NASA's James Hansen, nor were they above taking away citizen's rights or even using torture to get whatever the hell they wanted... These guys couldn't do what Michelle Bachmann is promising to do!

Michelle Bachmann is a moron of the highest order! It's time to completely stop paying attention to her, she is an embarrassment to herself to the GOP and would be lucky to get elected to the post of city dogcatcher if she happens to be the sole candidate for the post....

"The radical environmentalists have demanded that we lock up all our energy resources," she added. "President Bachmann will take that key out of the door. I will unlock it.

I wonder if she knows enough to unlock it before she takes the key out.

"So the two oil men, George W Bush and Dick Cheney, the same two guys who managed to pull off a war with Iraq"

Exactly. The war that was after the semi-secret meeting with the heads of the major energy companies. I imagine Cheney's opening remarks went like this;

"Gentlemen, the President and I are oilmen. We can not make your numbers come out. We can not make your public numbers match either reality or the CIA's assessment. This has implications not just to your profits, but national security as well.

So, what we need to know is the truth. Not what you tell the tax collectors. not what you tell the stockholders, and not even what you tell your spouses in the dead of night. Whatever you say will stay in this room. The only set of notes will be mine, and they will be destroyed after preparing the summary report for the the President. So, what the H is going on out there?"

I wonder if Obama got to read that report? It would explain the sudden demise of hope-and-change really well.

Hurricane Irene Storm Surge

Local tv reporting major flooding.

2 million now reported without power in Virginia.

Irene is back over water and still Cat 1 as projected. Pressure 951mb and an eye has reformed according to latest Air Force Recon.

Site with hourly spaghetti map updates.


Best Hopes for Weakening,


There has been a weakening trend in the forcast intensity the past couple of days. I do think the media is overplaying the wind and storm-surge threat, but underplaying the inland flooding risk, which is extremely high. Many of these areas in the northeast have had near record rains the past couple of weeks, add 8inches from Irene, and its bound to be serious.

I think the responsible media has been calling it quite well, and clearly pointing out both the diminishing wind threat and increasing flood threat.

Then there's Accuweather, which often gets downright hysterical.

EOS - Very good point. Many decades ago a fast moving Cat 1 blew thru LA without a great deal of destruction. But still carried a lot of rain. I think it was KY that got hit worse: flash floods and 50+ killed. The prediction of 8"+ of rain might sound bad enough but the real threat is the fall rate. Big difference locally between the accumulation hitting in 4 hours and 24 hours. I've survived 2 flash floods in the mountains of Mexico. Unless you've experienced a flash flood you don't appreciate how almost comletely helpless you are: too much power to deal with much too fast. Death and destruction comes in minutes...not hours.

The storm track shows it heading inland quickly. It won't be a shock if the majority of casualties and damage occurs far north on NYC.

Whoa...big update just now: ground speed has just jumped from 12 mph to 25 mph. Probably very bad news in the hilly/montanous areas north of NY. Those heavy rains will dissipate over time but the storm will be 250 north in less than half a day.

Hurricane Irene already has had a major impact on oil refining and distribution in the Northeast US:

Irene cuts power, oil operations along US East Coast

Sat Aug 27, 2011 9:25pm EDT

East Coast oil refineries reduced operations or shut, while pipelines and fuel terminals also scaled back.

ConocoPhillips (COP.N) shutdown the Bayway oil refinery in New Jersey. The U.S. Coast Guard closed the Port of Philadelphia, an oil hub, and restricted some vessel traffic at the larger hub of New York Harbor, which stayed open.


Even if gasoline futures prices do not rise Monday in NYC - that is if there is any trading - I expect the actual wholesale prices paid in the Northeast for gasoline to be quickly affected as surplus supplies were generally low before the hurricane.

I'm no expert on wholesale distribution, but it occurs to me that consumption would be suppressed during the same period. As long as there is no actual damage the the refining facilities, things should even out.

"Oh my god, not hurricane Irene! It's, It's actually..... (drum roll).... raining."

Peak levels in the New York area.

Approx 50% of customers in Connecticut now without power according to Governor Malloy in live news conference just now.

Now 1 million customers (approx 2 million people) reported without power in New York State. Watching serious river flooding upstream in parts of New York State. Up to 12 inches of rain fell in parts of the state.

Flood sirens going off at Gilboa Dam/Schoharie area NY. Residents urged to evacuate the flood zone immediately.

TYPE B EMERGENCY DECLARED - "Possibility of dam failure has increased"

Appreciate all of the updates, UT. Good luck to one and all.


Latest news seems to be that dam has been over-topped but said to be intact at the moment. However monitoring equipment has failed (or that's what they say - perhaps the equipment is telling them something they don't like?) so residents must evacuate immediately. Edit: NWS says bluntly that the dam is at risk- see below.

It is really, really lucky this didn't come in as strong as it might have done considering the number without power across multiple states and the many reports of flooding even as it was.

Edit: http://alerts.weather.gov/cap/wwacapget.php?x=NY20110828173500FlashFlood...


Since when is a damn in danger of failing due to water flowing over the top of it? That's like saying a glass holding water will fail if its put in the sink to overfill it using the tap. The damn is designed to overflow just like the glass.

In fact, once water overflows a damn, that's the maximum pressure to ever be exerted on it. So if it holds for an hour, then it will probably hold for weeks, maybe even months. Essentially it goes from being a damn to being a spillway.

Because it IS at Max Pressure, and it just went through an unexpected earthquake days before. Continual max pressure might not be getting any worse (save for erosion on the downstream side..?), but it might be too much anyhow.

I wouldn't normally comment on spelling but as you seem to be setting yourself up as an expert who knows more than the authorities, I'll just point out that it would help if you could actually spell the subject you claim to be an expert about. It is "dam" not "damn" and you managed to get it wrong four times.

tow - Dange good catch. I mean dang good catch.

The evacuation is due to flooding, not potential dam failure. In 1996, the dam had 6 ft of overflow and held fine. That flooding put streets of Middleburgh and Schoharie under water. This is from article, Evacuations start as Irene brings flooding and road closures to county

...we will be running from a major flood long before the dam fails

NOAA/NWS said in an official warning that the dam was at risk of failure, not me. I suspect they also had more info than you. And they are still saying there is a current risk of failure as of the 7:30am EDT update. The current flooding exceeded your 1996 level in any case and new records were set for the dam itself and downstream.


730 AM EDT MON AUG 29 2011
730 AM EDT MON AUG 29 2011

Apologies for the directness of my words. They weren't aimed at you or your valuable research but were just an interpretation of what I read in link.

No problem. The article you quoted was written in advance and said they would only be in trouble if they got major flooding which they didn't expect. Unfortunately they got record flooding :-(

tow - Might be a while before this lesson is of practical value to my Yankee cousins but flooding was always a serious potential danger with this hurricane. Besides the example I offered last week, the folks in the Texas Hill Country always keep an eye on such storms (even just nasty tropical depressions). Those folks are very susceptible to flash floods: every low point in the roads has a flood gauge marker for this very reason. I don't have the stats handy but some of the greatest loss of life have been recorded in Central America due to hurricane induced flooding/landslides.

Flooding has always been a major potential threat with hurricanes...even when the levees don't break.

WORST CASE SCENARIO: Here's Everything Hurricane Irene Is Capable Of

I once decided to evacuate from the small city of Jacksonville, FL to avoid direct contact with an approaching storm. The reasoning was very simple. Would I be happier drinking Strawberry Daquiri's on the beach in Panama City or gawking out my window at the tree motions? Pretty easy decision for me. I waited till a day before the storm was due to arrive thinking that was plenty of time to get out of town relatively quickly. I was in for a rude awakening when I got on the interstate. It took 8 hours to get to Lake City instead of the normal 1 hour. Eventually, I made it to my destination. I would do the same again if another storm heads this way.

"Oh my god, not hurricane Irene! It's, It's actually..... (drum roll).... raining."

I'm pleased to hear that Irene has caused you no harm. I only wish the same were true for the eleven individuals who lost their lives and for their families and love ones.


18 now, and counting. Millions without power.

Hi dohboi,

Sadly, very true. As of 20h00 local time, the Associated Press was reporting the number of storm related deaths as "at least 20" –– one in Connecticut, two in Florida, one in Maryland, one in New Jersey, one in New York, six in North Carolina, four in Pennsylvania, and four in Virginia.


How many die in a typical rain storm? How many die in car accidents at stop lights that go out when there is no rain? What is the background rate?

8 million customers without power. Are you going to suggest that is "typical" as well?

Depends on "where".

I understand that such is quite typical in places like Baghdad or North Korea.

The expectation of 24X7 all you can use power may not be a reasonable position for the future.

But 1Kw for 8 hours a day - it is still a great improvement for ones life.

What is the background rate?

That's a good question Edpell. How many would have died over a weekend if there was no storm at all? Typically, maybe even more, because in this case people are concentrating on surviving not just living their normal half asleep lives as they crash their cars text messaging.

I'll bet if a statistical analysis was done to compare non-hurricane weekends with this one, Irene saved lives. This is a case of MSM generating much more hype about something than it warranted to have something big to draw in audiences to make big bucks on ads. It's almost like they took Irene and built it into an Andrew type event. They got spoiled on the media hype Katrina created and they've missed that ad generating intensity ever since, so when Irene came along, they all jumped on it.

There should be a rule or law, that only cat. 3 or higher hurricanes can be hyped up.

Dohboi and I were discussing the number of fatalities that have been attributed to this storm, without reference to other weather-related events. By all means, please feel free to extend the conversation to include such an analysis if you so wish.



A Hurricane of Hype
Aug 28, 2011 11:15 AM EDT Irene fell far short of the media’s dire warnings even before it was downgraded. Howard Kurtz on the scaremongering by television and local officials.


'The Hurricane Irene Hype Backlash Begins'

The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz writes the first of what will likely be many stories over the next few days declaring Hurricane Irene a triumph of media hype over dangerous substance.


Media hypes Hurricane Irene, now downgraded to Tropical Storm

There's 3 articles plus I earlier saw a special being advertised on TV that is on Irene being hyped.

As far as deaths go, you'll probably find that since most people stayed home, the number of deaths on the road, highways, freeway, biways, etc. was far less than for a usual weekend one the eastern seaboard. Irene probably saved lives.

Sorry, but it's apples to oranges.

You might well be right that more people would have died in typical Traffic.. but listen to what you said, "Irene probably saved lives" .. you mean because people were warned of the potential for a bigger storm, and they got off the roads? They were being careful? Their attention was up? That wasn't the storm any more than it was the very Media Hype that you are complaining about.

There are some big washouts on the highways today.. if there had been significant traffic, we could have seen some real disasters and heartbroken people by the score. The daily highway deathtoll is simply a different set of problems.

I don't watch the regular news on TV, and if you're offended by their tone and all the other crap they offer, good. For decades now, we've known it's largely junk and we should stop watching it, right? But the fact that between their Hype and NOAA's Type (Their plaintext announcements).. people took some care and even with a milder storm than was in the range of expectations, they seemed to have done what was needed.

It's just like the endless Y2K yapping. The warnings were a bit heightened, sometimes overly so.. but then vast amounts of prep work got done and now everyone can claim 'It wasn't a big deal, stupid worriers!'

Before Hurricane Juan paid us a visit my business partner kept telling me "Don't worry, it will veer off to sea", "the media is blowing this out of proportion", "we get nor'easters all the time, so what" and so on. Then, after a large tree came crashing through his dining room, it changed to "no one knew it would be this bad", "we should have been warned", "the media dropped the ball", etc. So much like the old saw that it's a recession if your neighbour loses his job and a depression if you lose your own, one's opinion will likely parallel one's own experience.

Personally, I would be thinking "gee, if it was this bad and it was only a Cat 1, imagine if it were a 2 or 3" so, if anything, I would take any future warnings that much more seriously because I now have a sense of what to expect.


I'm pleased to hear that Irene has caused you no harm.

People die because stuff like trees or telephone poles fall on them. Just stay inside until it passes.

I actually think this storm was blown way out of proportion. It was a cat. 1 when it made landfall. A one on a scale of 1-5! The news gets so carried away. 3's - 5's now that's worth getting all worked up about. Give me a buzz when another Andrew or Katrina comes blasting ashore.

Heavy rainfall - that's all this was. Sure, some local flooding, some power outages, some dummies getting hit by trees. It really should not be that hard to avoid getting killed in a cat. 1 hurricane.


Living where I do I have been through quite a few hurricanes (cyclones here) and we often get the same clueless ignorant comments over here.

If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time even a Cat. one can be dangerous...and given what I have seen a Cat. two or three can result in catastrophic damage.

It is far better to err on the side of caution...you want to live through one of these suckers before you go spouting crap.

Cheers...and you have a nice day y'hear

Heavy rainfall - that's all this was. Sure, some local flooding, some power outages, some dummies getting hit by trees. It really should not be that hard to avoid getting killed in a cat. 1 hurricane.

It may have been just a Cat. 1 as far as the wind speed was concerned but it was a huge powerful and intense rain making storm that produced massive storm surges.

My guess is you've never experienced the consequences of a storm surge or flooding from heavy rains have you? And as someone who has been through more than my share of Cat. 1 hurricanes I can tell you they are no laughing matter.

BTW both my boss and I had electrical problems in our cars and the brake drum on our forklift froze up from going through standing water while cleaning up some debris in front of our warehouse. We are near Ft Lauderdale and Irene passed far offshore, we only got some 30 mile an hour wind gusts and heavy rains. Still, while not life threatening nor a huge expense I had to replace the ignition coil in my car, and we lost a day's worth of business... Multiply that by millions of other south Florida residents and you begin to get the idea of the negative economic impact of even some minor flooding, let alone, a little Cat. 1!

OH yeah, all that economic impact probably increased the GDP >:-(

Seems like any natural event wants to take a kick at the nuke plants lately...

Hurricane Irene – which was downgraded to a tropical storm Sunday – has prompted the shutdown of nuclear reactors in Maryland and New Jersey.


It is interesting.. and I did a little search to see if there is any news about Wind Farms or Solar Systems being in trouble or on alert, and didn't see anything popping out at me. (Except of course for all the mentions of how renewables are useful as part of your safety preparations for emergency weather events. Inconceivable!

As that goes, Portland Maine is getting a bit gusty now, tho' the precip. seems to be over.. so I think I'll take my vid-cam over and see how my little rooftop system is handling the 'War-on-Buffets'.. knock wood!

"In Maryland, one reactor at Constellation Energy’s Calvert Cliffs plant automatically went offline late Saturday because a wind gust propelled a piece of aluminum siding from a building into the facility’s main transformer.

Aluminum siding across the terminals of a 300 KV transformer. I bet that was a really big spark.

I had a fried in the telephone company. Back in the old style exchanges they had an accident with an aluminium ladder. It fell onto the bus bars from the battery bank, lead plates hung in acid baths not your tiddly little deep cycle. He said the ladder didn't even slow down. It went straight through the bus bars or rather the bars went through the, now, 3 section ladder. BTW not many fiberglass ladders around then.


Over twenty years ago, an electrician was installing new control wiring in the generator hall of the Fayette Texas power plant (LCRA + Austin Energy). He waved the conduit in the air just a little too close on a humid day.

Two poles of a 598 MW generator arced for an instant. Instantly vaporized and the plant was down for almost a year.

Best Hopes for Safety Consciousness,


Ouch! The only thing left to bury were his shoes?

Melted rubber on the floor.

Nouri Balroin, the head of the NTC’s oil production unit, said output will resume within three weeks, Al Jazeera reported. Oil experts will follow a three-stage plan to restore the flow of oil to 1.6 million barrels a day within 15 months,...


Best Hopes for December 2012,


Good times return for ethanol, but how long will they last?

With ethanol, something always happens to ruin the party.

Ethanol demand is up as much as 6 percent this year over 2010, largely due to exports to Brazil and Europe that are expected to top 1 billion gallons.

Valero is shunning E15, pushing E85 instead.

With ethanol, something always happens to ruin the party.

This "poor little me" schtick is getting a bit tiresome, x. Ethanol increased from 6% to 37% of the corn crop in ten years, while the crop itself was growing.


Interesting NYT article on an e-bike tour of the Swiss Alps (changing out batteries along the way):