Drumbeat: December 7, 2011

Five Truths About Our Energy Future

Here's the thing that forecasts about energy use and production tend to have in common: they're probably wrong. From the predictions in the 1950s that nuclear energy would one day be too cheap to meter, to the belief in the 1970s that the world would run on solar power by the end of the 20th century, would-be energy prophecies have seemed to come from very cloudy crystal balls. Today the biggest trend affecting global energy markets is the explosive growth of shale natural gas — something that virtually no one thought was even viable 20 years ago. Technological advances, new discoveries, unexpected economic crises, environmental concerns — all of these factors can skew our expectations about how we'll be powering our homes, cars and industries tomorrow. So when you listen to the gloomy forecasts from peak-oil theorists or hear the sunnily optimistic scenarios of energy executives, keep this in mind: the future is really, really hard to predict.

Crude Oil Futures Decline on Concern EU Summit May Not Resolve Debt Crisis

Oil fell, snapping three days of gains on concern that the European Union’s debt crisis may not be resolved by the group’s summit this week.

Crude retreated as much as 0.4 percent as the dollar gained against the euro after a German government official said Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is more pessimistic of the outcome of an EU leaders’ summit in Brussels beginning tomorrow. The dollar rose as much as 0.3 percent against the euro, making it more expensive for holders of the European currency to purchase dollar-commodities such as oil.

OPEC: Speculators to blame for high oil prices

DOHA, Qatar (CNNMoney) -- The head of OPEC said Wednesday that speculators are at least partly to blame for high oil prices -- not any lack of supply on world markets.

Speaking at a World Petroleum Congress panel, OPEC Secretary General Abdulla Salem El Badri said the world has plenty of crude but that the number of barrels of oil changing hands in the financial markets is 35 times greater than the actual supply.

BP boss Bob Dudley warns of high oil prices

High oil prices could send the global economy into a fresh recession, the chief executive of oil giant BP has warned, writes Michael Glackin.

Oil prices have remained stubbornly high, driven by a combination of supply fears due to Middle East political unrest, and continuing strong demand from fast-growing economies in Asia.

OPEC chief hopes EU will not impose embargo on Iran oil

(DOHA) - The head of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said on Wednesday he hoped the EU would not press sanctions on Iran's "difficult to replace" oil exports.

"I really hope there will not be an EU embargo on Iranian oil," OPEC Secretary General Abdullah El-Badri said at the World Petroleum Congress in Doha.

"It will be very, very difficult to replace" the exports of this OPEC member, he said.

Russia to stay 'neutral' on Iran oil embargo

(DOHA) - Russia will remain as "neutral as possible" on a possible European embargo on Iranian oil, the country's energy minister said Wednesday, warning against the "politicisation" of the energy sector.

Saudi Arabia Crude Production Rises to Highest in Three Decades

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, boosted output last month to the most in more than three decades to meet customer demand.

“We produced 10 million and 40 barrels in November because that’s what the customers wanted,” Ali al-Naimi said in an interview in Durban, South Africa, where he is attending a climate conference. That’s the highest level since at least 1980, according to data from the U.S. Energy Department. The desert nation pumped 9.4 million barrels a day in October, al- Naimi said on Nov. 20.

Saudi Arabia – Headed for A Downfall?

The figure shows that Saudi Arabia has not been increasing its production for many years. At the same time, the country’s own oil consumption has been rising rapidly. The combination means that oil exports have already started declining.

Saudi oil boss says fossil comeback gives renewables time

Khalid Al-Falih, Saudi Aramco’s chief executive, told the 20th World Petroleum Congress that a confluence of factors will position the oil and gas industry for a new era of success.

He says the global discourse on energy is being changed by deflating “peak oil” concerns, the “faltering pace” of renewables and other alternatives, economic uncertainty and a shift in environmental policy.

“Rather than the supply scarcity which many predicted, we have adequate oil and gas supplies, due in large part to the contributions of unconventional resources," claims Al-Falih.

Oil majors' skills vital for Gulf

The Middle East is likely to become more reliant on the expertise of international oil companies as the region's oil and gas deposits are increasingly hard to extract, says BP's chief executive.

Peak oil debate losing relevance due to new upstream technology: Repsol CEO

The debate over whether the world's reserves of hydrocarbons have now peaked and are in decline has lost relevance over recent years as new technology allows oil companies to find and exploit new hydrocarbon sources, the CEO of Repsol Antonio Brufau said Tuesday.

Shell Says Exports, Truck Fuel Among Options for U.S. Shale Gas

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest energy producer, is weighing options for rising North American natural-gas output including exports and making liquid fuels, Chief Executive Officer Peter Voser said.

Shell will double North American gas production in the next three years to the equivalent of 400,000 barrels of oil a day as output from shale deposits rises, Voser said in an interview. Shell may channel gas into chemical production, an export project in Canada, and a program to use the fuel to power trucks, he said.

Is natural gas drilling causing Ohio earthquakes?

New monitoring equipment will help determine whether earthquakes in northeast Ohio are resulting from the disposal of brine used in natural gas drilling.

The Estonian connection: Or how I started worrying about oil shale

Here's a primer: Underground room and pillar or strip mining is typically used to get the rock, which is then ground up, heated to extremely high temperatures, or retorted, to get the "oil" out of the kerogen, a waxy hydrocarbon. The oil then must be processed and refined in order to make them into a mid-grade fuel. It’s a water-intensive process. The leftover shale -- laden with the same sort of nasty heavy metals and other substances as coal combustion waste -- actually expands during the process, making disposal a bit of a challenge.

It sounded as crazy back then as it does now.

And it’s that very craziness that has largely kept oil shale off my radar as a journalist covering the big issues in the West. It’s simply too costly, too inefficient and too illogical for any profit-minded company to pour billions of dollars into trying to make it work. Why waste time, I thought, worrying about something that was nothing more than some western Colorado energy booster’s waxy hydrocarbon dream?

BP Has Road Map in Citgo Oil-Spill Case for Macondo Fine

A Citgo Petroleum Corp. oil-spill case gives a template for the way BP Plc (BP/)’s liability and penalty will be decided in the government’s Clean Water Act lawsuit over the worst U.S. offshore spill.

Survivor of Oil-Tanker Rout Sees Biggest Returns in Coal Carriers: Freight

Knightsbridge (VLCCF) Tankers Ltd., whose long-term charters mean it is still profitable during the worst shipping-rate slump in more than a decade, says the biggest returns in 2012 will come from hauling coal and iron ore.

Kazakh dep oil min sees Kashagan Phase 2 by 2019

(Reuters) - Kazakhstan expects the second phase of its giant Kashagan oilfield to be launched by 2018 or 2019, with first oil now expected in June 2013, the vice oil and gas minister said on Wednesday.

The start of the Kashagan project in the Caspian Sea, the biggest oil discovery since the 1960s, has repeatedly been delayed while costs have soared.

Bulgaria abandons oil pipeline project with Russia, Greece

Sofia - Bulgaria said on Wednesday it would withdraw from a joint pipeline project to carry Russian oil to Greece, citing possible accidents that could have an environmental impact and harm its tourism industry.

Saving Shambala from a Russia-China pipeline

Pristine wilderness in a remote corner of Siberia and a Stone Age archaeological legacy notwithstanding, Russia and China are working furiously to complete a natural gas pipeline agreement that would see the fragile Ukok Plateau in Russia's Altai Republic forced open to development, driving one more industrial stake into the heart of the earth's dwindling wild places.

The plot is familiar - giant multinational corporations want to develop a controversial gas pipeline - but the setting is anything but familiar. In a little-known border region of Russia's Altai Republic, where southern Siberia's Altai Mountains meet northwest China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and the frontiers of eastern Kazakhstan and western Mongolia, national boundaries form an enormous "X".

BP, Shell Plan to Resume Exploration, Boost Production in Libya

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s biggest oil companies, aim to resume exploration in Libya, whose new government seeks to stabilize relations with foreign companies following the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi.

Saboteurs attack Iraq pylons transporting power from Iran

Baghdad - Saboteurs attacked pylons supporting high-tension cables that bring electricity from Iran to Iraq, killing a policeman and interrupting the power supply, an Iraqi official said on Wednesday.

Syria’s Assad Says He Didn’t Order Crackdown

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denied ordering the military to crack down on civilians and said that most of the people who have been killed in protests and fighting since March were his supporters and troops.

“There was no command to kill or be brutal,” al-Assad said in an interview with ABC News. When asked whether his security forces acted too harshly, he said: “They are not my forces. They are military forces that belong to the government.”

China trying to mediate oil impasse between Sudan, South Sudan, stepping up Africa role

JUBA, South Sudan — China is inserting itself into the fight over oil between Sudan and its former territory South Sudan, sending a special envoy to try to break a deadlock between two rivals.

The End of Growth in the United States

Care to forecast the US will return to economic growth, given energy prices and aggregate levels of debt in the OECD nations? Good luck with that. The US could certainly increase taxes, and reduce government spending. But that won’t restore economic growth. How about increasing annual government deficits more rapidly, to double our debt even faster? Good luck with that too. As I have written before, the energy limit and total debt now trump the tiresome argument between Austrians and Keynesians, rendering the conversation moot.

Trade of the Decade - Cook`s Kitchen

You already know I'm not an economist. You will also not be surprised to learn that I am not a geophysicist either. My expertise is clearly limited in the realm of "peak oil" theories.

But just like I can make broad-stroke conclusions about the European debt crisis that guide my trades (without knowing all the micro-economic details), I can also do some classical inductive reasoning about global oil supplies. Since a new oil field bigger than Saudi Arabia's hasn't been discovered in decades of exploration, it's not a stretch to assume we may be very close to the "peak".

Is Oil Fueling the Rise in Political Partisanship?

The US is arguably the most fossil fuel-dependent nation on earth. It is also widely acknowledged that the degree of electoral volatility and political partisanship has increased in the United States in recent years. Could discontent sparked by an uptick in volatility in oil prices be one reason behind why American politics of late seems to have gotten so much nastier ?

FAO Report Warns About Fossil Fuel Dependence in Global Agriculture

The food sector uses around 30 percent of total global primary energy consumption. Petroleum products are used to transport, produce, cook, and store food, and the success of feeding the world's growing populations can largely be attributed to fossil fuel inputs à la Norman Borlaug's green revolution.

The Lesson That Pearl Harbor Should Teach Us

We face a threat----scarcity----which will breech every wall, border or nuclear umbrella. The virtue of the analyses like those of Jack Alpert and Chris Clugston is that they remind us that we are all tied into a global resource base. The depletion of the minerals and metals and fuels (NNRs) which Chris has inventoried will affect everyone on this planet as surely as the radiation did in Nevil Shute's book (and movie) and in "Testament". We can hide behind our gated communities, or behind militarized borders, but scarcity will come calling and will not be kept out. Not even a trillion dollar-a-year military budget can save us.

"When The Oil Runs Out" - A Sadly Relevant Punk Rock Classic (music video)

From the IEA's dire warnings about peak oil to business leaders claiming that peak oil could dwarf our current financial crisis, the idea that we can't keep relying on cheap fossil fuels to run our already faltering economy has gained considerable traction in recent years.

But much like Matthew's lament on the tragically repetitive groundhog day that is COP17, it's worth remembering that we've known (or at least should have known) for a very, very long time that oil will not last forever and that designing systems that can thrive in a post-oil era is simply a case of common sense.

Lyrics here

Artist Chronicles the Petrochemical Age With Crude Oil Paintings

Just like the first gush of black gold that emerged from Saudi Arabia’s inaugural oil well in 1937, the idea to chronicle the petrochemical age came quite suddenly to artist Piers Secunda. He was riding on the London tube reading Daniel Yergin’s history of oil, The Prize, when it occurred to him that he wanted not just to paint oil scenes, but to paint them with crude oil.

Why the future needs great comedians

Last February I had the dubious pleasure of seeing comedian Rod Quantock's show Pardon My Carbon at the Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne. In this performance his opening remarks moved swiftly into a discussion of those humans he thinks should be eaten first. Out of foreseen necessity, I should add. Quantock outlined a dystopian future he predicted would emerge due to the interconnected problems of climate change, "peak oil", food price increases and associated growing supply requirements, population growth, and water scarcity. Andrew Bolt, along with someone called John who used to live in Canberra, was at the top of his list. An audience member who admitted he wasn't sure if climate change is largely humanly caused was also added to the list.

Hawaii Should Show Way to Better Energy Future

Over the past decade, world oil prices have advanced from approximately $25 per barrel to more than $100 per barrel. Had the price of oil merely kept pace with inflation, the $25 barrel in 2000 would have been worth just over $30 in 2010. Thus, there was a fundamental shift in the oil markets.

By 2005, the idea that the price increase was being caused by oil depletion – commonly referred to as “peak oil” – was receiving widespread attention. While some dismissed the idea of peak oil, instead offering up speculation, OPEC, growth in developing countries, or other geopolitical factors as the primary factors behind the advance in prices – oil production remained flat despite record high oil prices.

Japan Split on Hope for Vast Radiation Cleanup

Even a vocal supporter of repatriation suggests that the government has not yet leveled with its people about the seriousness of their predicament.

“I believe it is possible to save Fukushima,” said the supporter, Tatsuhiko Kodama, director of the Radioisotope Center at the University of Tokyo. “But many evacuated residents must accept that it won’t happen in their lifetimes.”

To judge the huge scale of what Japan is contemplating, consider that experts say residents can return home safely only after thousands of buildings are scrubbed of radioactive particles and much of the topsoil from an area the size of Connecticut is replaced.

Fukushima’s Ripple Effects Continue

The triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March startled many people in the American nuclear industry, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Tuesday, although the success in ultimately gaining control of the reactors did not.

“I think there are many people who are associated with this industry who believed we had designed away, or operated in a way, that eliminated the possibility of ever having a significant, really severe accident,’’ said the chairman, Gregory B. Jaczko, who held a year-end roundtable session with reporters.

Shuttered Nuclear Reactors Open Energy-Supply Gaps in Daimler’s Hometown

Matthias Schuele’s aluminum foundry stands a 30-minute drive from a nuclear reactor that supplied electricity for more than three decades until German Chancellor Angela Merkel switched it off in March.

His furnaces today are backstopped by power generated in Austria while Merkel’s government spars with utilities including EON AG over how to add 20 gigawatts of fossil-fuel plants and offshore wind farms, and 3,600 kilometers (2,237 miles) of high- tension cables fast enough to keep his lights on.

U.S. and South Korea Renew Talks on Nuclear Technology

SEOUL, South Korea — United States and South Korean negotiators on Tuesday resumed their low-key but highly sensitive talks on whether South Korea should be allowed to do what Washington has tried to stop North Korea from doing: enrich uranium and reprocess spent nuclear fuel.

AP Source: Coolant leak likely cause of Chevy Volt fires

The liquid solution that cools the Chevrolet Volt's batteries is the likely cause of fires that broke out inside the electric car after government crash tests, a person briefed on the matter said.

Shrewsbury weir electricity plans get £15k of funding

A Shropshire group hoping to generate electricity from the River Severn has won £15,000 to move its plans forward.

...Mr Scutt said: "We're looking at things post peak oil and anything not dependent on fossil fuels.

"The plan is to install a hydro electric plant, the turbine would be underground so you wouldn't see anything different."

Conclave to Open on Mekong’s Fate

The Laotians call it Mae Nam Khong, the Mother of Water. The Vietnamese refer to it as Song Cuu Long, or the Nine Dragons River. The Khmer prefer Tonle Thum, or simply Great River. Whatever its name, the Mekong River is a lifeline for millions in the countries touched by its muddy waters, the world’s largest inland fishery.

On Wednesday, ministers from Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos open a three-day meeting in Siem Reap, Cambodia, to decide whether to approve a controversial dam on the mainstream of the river in Laos. Proponents say the dam would bring much-needed revenue to Laos and the region, but scientists warn that it could prove devastating for the environment and the people who depend on the river’s bountiful resources.

Outrage Grows Over Air Pollution and China’s Response

BEIJING — The statement posted online along with a photograph of central Beijing muffled in a miasma of brown haze did not mince words: “The end of the world is imminent.”

The ceaseless churning of factories and automobile engines in and around Beijing has led to this: hundreds of flights canceled since Sunday because of smog, stores sold out of face masks, and many Chinese complaining on the Internet that officials are failing to level with them about air quality or make any improvements to the environment.

Discovery Channel to air all 7 episodes of 'Frozen Planet' series

Discovery Channel extricated itself from a political ice storm by announcing it would air all seven episodes of "Frozen Planet," a wildlife and natural history series co-produced with the BBC.

...Controversy erupted last month when reports surfaced that Discovery was considering ditching the seventh episode of the series, which delves into the thorny issues of global warming.

Climategate 2.0: fool me once.....

Apparently in these things there holds the old say, "fool me once...." That is, it is very difficult to fool people twice with the same trick and, indeed, "Climategate 2.0" is turning out to be a big flop.

Greenpeace Leader Visits Boardroom, Without Forsaking Social Activism

For too long, he contends, the environmental movement has been a project of elites in wealthy countries who care more about saving rare animals than aiding people threatened by poverty and climate change. And he has resolved to change its focus.

“Ever since I came into this job, I’ve been accused of selling out,” Mr. Naidoo said. “But I genuinely, passionately feel that the struggle to end global poverty and the struggle to avoid catastrophic climate change are two sides of the same coin.”

Qatar Urging World’s Driest Nations to Join Alliance, Head Says

Qatar, which will host the annual round of United Nations climate talks in 2012, is urging the world’s driest nations at this year’s talks in South Africa to join its Global Dry Land Alliance, the chairman said.

Brazil Rewrites Amazon Protections While Seeking to Slash Carbon Emissions

Brazil’s Senate approved legislation yesterday that the government says will help the nation reach its carbon emissions target by strengthening protections against deforestation in the Amazon.

Brazil is seeking to cut its net greenhouse gas emissions after loggers and ranchers cleared since 1990 a Germany-sized tract of the world’s biggest rainforest.

Nunavut Region to Boost Renewable Power to Offset Climate Change

Nunavut, Canada’s northernmost territory, is studying ways to boost its use of hydroelectric, wind and solar power to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate climate change, Premier Eva Aariak said.

UN’s Maritime Agency to Weigh Setting Price on Ship Emissions

The International Maritime Organization, the United Nations’ shipping agency, will next year consider how to set a price on greenhouse-gas emissions from ships that contribute to climate change.

Carbon Credits Turning ‘Junk’ as Ban Shuts Door

Investors are rushing to sell emission credits before they become almost worthless in 2013, pushing prices to a record low.

U.S. Climate Stance Is ‘Blowing Negotiations Apart,’ Envoy Declares

The U.S. view that no new global climate deal is possible before 2020 is derailing negotiations aimed at slashing the world’s oil and coal emissions, according to an envoy at the talks.

“The present U.S. position of no new agreement until post- 2020 is really blowing negotiations apart,” Papua New Guinea’s chief climate delegate, Kevin Conrad, said in an interview in Durban, South Africa, where United Nations-led climate talks are divided over when to seek a new treaty to curb global warming.

Chris Huhne: tax on shipping to help poor countries fight climate change

A tax on ocean cargo and cruise ships to help poor countries cope with global warming is one of the most likely outcome of the ongoing climate change talks, Chris Huhne has said.

Raising $100 billion for climate fund in dispute

DURBAN, South Africa – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says raising billions of dollars to fight climate change is a necessity, not a luxury, even in financially hard times.

Mobilizing $100 billion a year, much of it to be channeled through a new Green Climate Fund, is a central issue at the 194-nation U.N. climate conference being held in South Africa's coastal city of Durban.

Warming to lead to global sea-level rise

SAN FRANCISCO – Ice-age geologic records suggest Earth's climate will warm faster than expected, pushing the global sea level perhaps more than 3 feet higher within this century, a panel of scientists warned Tuesday.

Speaking at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting here, federal and academic scientists said they reviewed ice core measures spanning more than 500,000 years of Ice Ages and subsequent warming periods to warn that ice sheets in the past had quickly melted once temperatures reached tipping points.

I have a question about "frac'ing" for natural gas. If I understand correctly, one difference between frac'ing for oil and frac'ing for gas is that the oil formation you're frac'ing is under a cap rock, while for natural gas the cap rock and the reservoir rock are the same. If true, could a fugoid down a fault to a salt water layer have unusual and irreversible results?

For shale resources, the shale formations are the same. It's just a question of differences in hydrocarbon content. However, producing formations are much more permeable to gas than to oil, and I assume that there are differences in the composition of frac fluids.

UK fracking to save Britain:


For shale resources, the shale formations are the same.

I don't understand your answer. Let me try again. For shale formations, is the shale its own cap rock?

I don't think that most of these zones have a seal in the conventional sense, where there is a more porous & permeable reservoir sealed by less porous & permeable rock. It's more a question of which shale zones in producing areas served as source beds for hydrocarbon generation. In other words, one could have identical shale formations, but one formation is a rich source bed, with a high hydrocarbon content, while the other has minimal hydrocarbon content.

I don't think that most of these zones have a seal in the conventional sense, where there is a more porous & permeable reservoir sealed by less porous & permeable rock.

So there is nothing preventing frac'ing from propagating up or down a vertical fault, correct?

So there is nothing preventing frac'ing from propagating up or down a vertical fault, correct?

Nothing except 'leak-off". As a fracture grows, the rate of 'leak-off' over the entire area of the fracture (or fault) exposed to permeabile rock increases until the pump rate is reached or exceeded. At that time the fracture stops growing.

If a fault were encountered which had zero leak-off, I suppose the fracture could grow upward all the way to the surface. The probablility of that happening is remote, imo.

A hard, dense impermeable rock is easier to fracture than a porous, permeable rock.

If a fault were encountered which had zero leak-off, I suppose the fracture could grow upward all the way to the surface. The probablility of that happening is remote, imo.

So it would be difficult for a fault to propagate down to a fluid layer, and I can sleep knowing that my vision of a saltwater geyser rising in the Dakotas is just a nightmare.


A fracture growing downward is slightly more complicated because of increasing confining stress with depth. Well completion failures because of frac'ing down into water are all too common. Relatively small depth differentials are involved.

jon - Not that it should keep you awake at night but I've seen a number of cases when salt/fresh water or oil/NG have sneaked theuir way to the surfce via a fault plane. But they have all been Mother Earth made faults. Many fresh water springs owe their existance to leaky faults reaching the surface. On very rare occassions a well is frac'd and then suddenly a nearby well that has casing to the same depth as the frac job starts spewing. Again, very rare and falls into the category of sh*t happens. A very expensive problem for the operator.

On very rare occassions a well is frac'd and then suddenly a nearby well that has casing to the same depth as the frac job starts spewing.

But this is through the wellpipe, not through the earth, right?

jon - That's correct. The weak link in the system will always be the original hole in the ground. The steel casing is run to keep the hole from collapsing. But the annulus between the casing and the hole needs to be plugged off properly with cement. And the casing needs to be monitored over its productive life...corrosion is a constant process. As long as well bore integrity is maintained there's virtually no risk of anything flowing up to the surface. But that's also why we need to have tough regs that are enforced in order to protect our drinking water.

And the casing needs to be monitored over its productive life...corrosion is a constant process.

Great. Now I see some abandoned old wellhead in the Pennsylvania woods, with an rusty old wellpipe thrust 20 feet in the air like the phallus of a fallen giant Hermes, surrounded by bubbling foul quicksand. Thanks Rock, my nightmares are now comic as well...

jon - If your regulators in PA do as ours in Texas that won't be a worry. Wells here have to be abandoned following strict guidelines. And if an operator goes bankrupt the state has an orphan well fund (paid for by all the other operators) that pays to plug the well properly.

It really isn'tt that difficult for you folks to get it right. Texas and La. developed the rules as a result of how things were done in the "bad ole days". Just have your regulators learn from our bad experiences just as we did.

Yes, and the regulators in Alberta learned from Texas' bad experience in framing the rules here. Well operators know they have to clean up their old well sites or the government will come down hard on them. As a worst case, the CEO and the board of directors can go to jail if they don't.

Alberta has an orphan well fund, too. If an operator goes bankrupt, there's no point in the government paying the costs of cleaning up his wells, all the other operators pay for it. It's just a cost of doing business.

The regulators in the other oil producing provinces basically copied the Alberta rules - there didn't really didn't seem any point in doing anything different.

For some reason the governments of the other states seem to have a mental block about adopting the same rules as Texas.

Chris Mooney had a good article on fracking hazards in Scientific American. I think only the abstract is open. The law of gravity will prevent fracking fluids and oil from working their way up a crevice. It will not prevent methane from leaking through a crevice. Fracking fluids can also leak out from the wellbore from bad cement jobs, which can not be entirely prevented.

The law of gravity will prevent fracking fluids and oil from working their way up a crevice.

I'm surprised Scientific American would make that claim. Many of these fractured reservoirs are overpressured, in other words, reservoir pressure exceeds hydrostatic(at least initially).

jon - As ban says "cap rock" isn't the best term. In general it's any nonpermeable formation that may trap oil, gas or water, preventing it from migrating to the surface. As said "seal" is a more appropriate term. This cap rock or trap can create a reservoir of oil, gas or water beneath it and is a primary target for the petroleum industry. Typically it's used in this context: in the tops of salt domes the halite (salt) is removed first, leaving behind gypsum and anhydrite. The anhydrite and gypsum react with organic material to form calcite. This is often referred to as cap rock.

With respect to how far an induced fracture will propagate vertically it's very limited. The frac companies will make a sales pitch showing their latest and greatest frac design can propagate upwards 100'+. But in most cases that's wishful thinking. There's a great deal of force stopping a frac from going up or down any fault: over burden pressure. That's the collective weight of a column of rock many thousands of feet thick. You're probably more familiar with the concept of water pressure in the case of a deep dive submersible. The pressures produced by the rock column are much greater than produced by the water column.

That's why a deep frac job may have 500,000 hp lined up on the location to force the fracture open. But once the pumps are turned off the over burden pressure comes back into play big time. Think of a very tough air bag laying under a concrete block weighing 1000 tons. Inflate the bag (with a huge pump) and the block rises. And then turn the pump off and let the air be released. The full weight of the concrete is no longer supported by the air bag. The ground under the concrete bears the full force of it. In deep wells the force is strong enough to crush the quartz sand grains used as proppant into powder. In such cases we'll use much stronger ceramic grains. A frac job will create a great deal of opposing pressure but over a very small area and only while the pumps are on. Without proppant pumped into the induced fractures the close back up and completely heal.

I'll guess you wondering about the ability of a frac job reaching back up into a shallow fresh water aquifer. Unless the frac is very shallow (<3,000') it's virtually impossible. But there are other ways for the frac fluid (or any hydrocarbons) to pollute the drinking water. The annulus (space between the well casing and the rock) should be filled with cement. If the cement job is very poor the frac fluid could be forced upwards thousands of feet in the annulus. It's also possible to rupture the shallow section of the casing during the frac job and pump the nasties directly into the shallow aquifer. Such events happen but are relatively rare. And when they do occur it is very apparent to the operator (and the regulators if they are doing their job).

Good morning Rockman,

I have some questions question that might be pretty dumb, but then otoh maybe not!

These very deep saline reservoirs under discussion are obviously quite common at least in areas likely to contain oil and natural gas.

Are they common elsewhere?What I mean to say is that if somebody started drilling very deep wells at random just about anywhere, would they find a lot of them ?

Are they easily located using the technology used to find oil and natural gas?

And other than ordinary salt, what other minerals/chemicals are commonly present, and in what quantities?

It occurs to me that since such water might be expected to flow to the surface without benefit of pumps that it might actually be useful for some purposes in some situations.

For instance it might be possible to evaporate it in a desert and capture the vapor cheaper than it would be to haul or pipe water in-supposing a lot of water were needed there for some reason-and supposing the minerals left behind have some market value.

The model that makes the most sense, to me at least, is proposed by Larry W. Lake, Phd., UT Austin. Dr. Lake proposed that the conversion of kerogen to hydrocarbons results in an increase in volume and/or pressure which causes the rock to fracture. The hydrocarbons within the fractures may leak-off into low permeability rock and be trapped in what is sometimes called 'matrix'. The matrix is, therefore, its own 'caprock' and works the same for oil or gas.

Caprock is sort of old school. Seal is more descriptive,imo.

Another question is wheather the 'matrix' will give up hydrocarbons in a meaninful economic quantity.

The head of OPEC said Wednesday that speculators are at least partly to blame for high oil prices -- not any lack of supply on world markets.

What's the marginal cost of extracting Saudi oil? $80 or $90, right?

$80/bbl is price I've heard quoted right now to roughly pay for the entire Saudi budget (including huge social payments and subsidies to keep the unemployed masses from rioting).

Actual cash cost of extracting the last barrel currently produced by Saudi is probably on the order of $10/bbl (for processing & transporting sour, high water cut oil to market).

A new advance in solar?


In photosynthesis light is absorbed by the light-harvesting antenna and within several tens of picoseconds transferred to the photosynthetic reaction center (RC) where an ultrafast charge separation is initiated.

Discovery Channel to air all 7 episodes of 'Frozen Planet' series

Ha! Sometimes it pays to bitch. I (and thousands of others it seems) sent Discovery an email expressing my displeasure at their initial decision to not air episode 7, suggesting that the controversy would certainly increase the ratings. Too bad we (in the US) have to wait 'til March. Anyone over the pond been watching this series?

Seems like Discovery executives were somewhat surprised by the onslaught of emails - I'm glad to see they have backed down and are showing Episode 7.

Thanks for writing in - people have to stand up when it counts !

Unfortunately, I lost the Discovery Channel when I cut back on cable - I'm hoping they will release the series on video or DVD.

Available from Amazon on DVD or Blue-Ray.
UK version shipping since yesterday, US version available on pre-release.

Ghung, lookup proxy servers, the BBC will think you're in Merrie England!

Got any suggested ones? Unblockit not working on the beeb for me.

If the proxy is not in the UK it won't help, try googling for proxies in the UK.


good, now they will have two science shows..
... whoops.. well this country did kind of abandon science a long time ago, which is sad. i am a bit interested in the series and i wonder if they will cut it up like they did planet earth.

Hi Ghung,

I've watched the whole series, episode 7 aired last night. Absolutely fantastic, as everything by David Attenborough is. I had the DVD on pre-order from Amazon, it got shipped yesterday.

The series is aired on the BBC here, which does not have commercials. As a result, each episode is extended to 1 hour length by the inclusion of a segment of about 15 minutes which shows how the film crews went about making the series. I'm guessing that in other countries, you will see the episodes uncut but excluding these segments.

It's a must-see!


They patch those segments together and make extra episodes out of them.

Thanks, Rovman! I'm a big fan of Sir David and looking forward to it.

I'm extremely concerned by this development ... I am totally convinced that the American people cannot handle the truth ... if they could, Ronald Reagan would never have been elected. Americans like their world to be couched entirely in fantasy - like Historic Williamsburg - or better - Disney World. Allowing them to see Episode 7 is a seismic event ... and there could well be unintended circumstances. I foresee panic in the streets of West Palm Beach.

Maybe this is why it is being shown on Discovery, rather than on PBS. My love for Attenborough's great documentaries is from years of seeing them on PBS, I think. I have no cable, just rabbit ears. Many have no cable and rabbit ears don't work for them very well, so they may receive only some local "preacher channel" day in and out.

Don't worry, Cargill. There've been many really good documentaries on "good television" that suggest that the end of life as we know it is imminent, relatively speaking. Americans do not "believe in" science. And too many do not even understand "relatively speaking." So....

One I particularly remember was two years ago or so. A guy did an amazingly thorough job of documenting contrails, with the resulting conclusion that there is no doubt in his mind that the "coverage" of contrails is dense enough to have a "cooling effect" on global warming, thereby skewing the data and masking the REAL rate of global warming, as well as the warming itself. He convinced ME, but the first I have heard of this phenomenon since then was on this thread of Drumbeat.

Re: Shell Says Exports, Truck Fuel Among Options for U.S. Shale Gas

Shell isn't the only company interested in using natural gas for exports. HERE's another report on LNG exports from MarketWatch. One obvious question is: How can the US achieve the mythical "Energy Independence" the politicians are promoting if that gas is exported to other nations?

E. Swanson

BP shows that US natural gas consumption exceeded production by 12% last year.

One wonders why these companies would be building LNG export terminals, if US remains a gas importer. Would it be like the imports of oil and products, a way to balance regional differences in supply? Or, is the thinking that building this export capacity would be a way to ship the gas when present pipeline capacity is reached, say, shipping from the Gulf Coast to Boston or Maine?

E. Swanson

No these shipments would likely be going overseas. Let's see....you can sell it for $4/dek in the US or $12/dek in asia...hmmm that's a tough choice for gas companies. It probably wouldn't be a very good thing for the American Consumer, but we're all about freemarkets over here right?

Spain was the first customer for Louisiana LNG exports. The are looking for Caribbean customers ATM.

Not sure if the Panama Canal wants LNG tankers through their soon to be completed 3rd locks (much larger). What could go wrong ?

So Louisiana LNG will head east or southeast IMHO.


Amidst the hype, the mainstream media is kind of glossing over the fact that the US imports large amounts of natural gas from Canada. Canadian conventional gas production is declining, but there are, in fact, large amounts of shale gas in Canada that has not been thoroughly evaluated. It may exceed the amount of shale gas in the US.

Since the American market is saturated with natural gas, the Canadian shale gas is likely to go to Asia in the form of LNG. There is a large LNG project being planned for Kitimat in NE BC.

Compared to a gas-to-liquids plant to convert natural gas to diesel fuel, it is much more efficient to feed the natural gas into oil sands plants and refine the produced bitumen into diesel fuel. A bitumen-to-diesel refinery is planned for Alberta.

NE BC? Wow, you really a westerner aren't you? How far you gotta go before it's really the west? Here in Toronto, we call that Mississauga.

Sorry, that should have been "NW BC". The shale gas is in NE BC and the Port of Kitimat is in NW BC.

There's a sign on the Trans-Canada highway a short drive east of Winnipeg, Manitoba that says, "Longitudinal Centre of Canada". Anything east of that is the East, anything west of it is the West.

Unless you're from BC. Then, anything west of the Rocky Mountains is the West and anything east of the Rockies is not discussed in polite conversation.

Unless you're from BC. Then, anything west of the Rocky Mountains is the West and anything east of the Rockies is not discussed in polite conversation.

Below the 49'th parallel we have a better defined separation between the Cascades and the Rockies leading to further distinctions. For people in Seattle, West of the Cascades is 'Western Washington' or 'Pugetopolis' or 'Cascadia'. We actually have to travel east over the Cascades to get to what you might call 'Out West'. Then you have to drive clear past the Rockies and well into the flat lands before it's considered 'Back East'. If you keep going in that direction long enough you will eventually arrive at 'the other Washington'.


FAO Report Warns About Fossil Fuel Dependence in Global Agriculture
The food sector uses around 30 percent of total global primary energy consumption.

30%? Was the TOD POV it the energy use was 5%?

Not sure about the global average, but 30% seems awful high relative to US.

From Energy Use in the U.S. Food System

A projection of food-related energy use based on 2007 total U.S. energy consumption and food expenditure data and the benchmark 2002 input-output accounts suggests that food-related energy use as a share of the national energy budget grew from 14.4 percent in 2002 to an estimated 15.7 percent in 2007.

Considering the U.S. per capita energy use is far higher than most nations on the planet (with far more processing and transportation), I can't see global per capita energy use [for food] being much more than 5-8%

That's an interesting chart - I am surprised at how low the transportation part is, given that it gets the most attention.

if we are serious about reducing energy use in food, then the processing and packaging and wholesale/retail part is what needs to be avoided.

Local, unprocessed food, bought directly from your local producers, would seem to address all of the above.

And is a good deal healthier too...

In my "Conclusion" at the bottom of my report on FAO energy use in agriculture I tried to put together some thoughts about how the energy descent in Ag will play out (mostly from a U.S. perspective) and processing and packaging is a nice cushion the system now has which is unnecessary. I discuss working out the "slack" in the system... Like always, though, working the slack out will have devastating consequences for food industries, agribusiness corporations, and our GDP - more joy than tears regarding some of those changes.

Your review was very thorough, Kay.
This review of the new FAO study is focused more on the ongoing neglect of the PO issue by the FAO and the entire United Nations, which I did not realize until I started examining their websites.
Even the IPCC site has nothing which is relevant to oil depletion, which is really quite bizarre: why on earth would they ignore such a compelling argument in favour of their central argument (ie. we must reduce our use of carbon fuels)?


Local, unprocessed food, bought directly from your local producers, would seem to address all of the above.

And is a good deal healthier too...

Not necessarily healthier. Fruit and vegetables don't grow well in the winter around here. Long-distance fruit and vegetable transportation improves winter diets significantly.

Long-distance fruit and vegetable transportation improves winter diets significantly.

As does blanching plus flash-freezing of local produce. IIRC, when locally grown and frozen vegetables stored at 0 °F are compared to fresh produce transported long distances, they're pretty much equal in terms of both nutrition and energy. Of course, not all vegetables (and in my experience, very few fruits) survive the freezing process in terms of texture.

"and in my experience, very few fruits) survive the freezing process in terms of texture."

That's why we invented the pie. :-)

I eat a lot of frozen fruit (as do my kids) during winter. No complaints here. Its not as good as fresh picked local fruits, but its better then the garbage shipped in from S America. Watch the brands. Some are a lot better then others.

I am a bit confused:

In the chart transport is about 0.5 quadrillion btu, while processing is 2.5 quadrillion btu, about 5x greater.

Wouldn't that mean that shipping things that travel well would lead to less overall energy demand than flash freezing seasonal produce? The highest bar on the graph was from households, I imagine those big freezers that each house has contribute to overall energy demand.

I suspect that it would be better to eat kale, squash and other "winter" vegetables supplemented with the occasional grapefruit/banana.

PS a lot of the fruit I eat here in South America is great...when it is fresh off the farm truck in season.

I seem to remember a similar analysis in the UK. The single biggest transport energy cost was driving to and from the store to buy the food. Swamped the transport cost of the food from field to processing plant to wholesaler/distrubition centre to shop.

Which is why I walk 7/10ths of a mile (1.1 km) to my local Farmers & Fishers Market on Saturdays :-)

While I don't doubt that is true, that is also beyond the control of the food industry. people use lots oif energy wastefully in personal transportation for all sorts of other reasons too.

To really change this, cities/towns need more localised communities, transit options etc, and creating those is even harder than reforming the food industry, and much harder than bypassing the food "industry" by just buying direct from local producers.

I'd think the wholesale & retail, and foodservice sectors would have a lot of low hanging fruit. Despite the act that the first category is the only one showing net decline, very wasteful practices, (like open freezers, and cooking) are shamefully easy to find.

In domestic cooking, a lot of progress could be made going from ovens to microwaves. Can a technologic change, which allows the bulk of cooking be via microwave, but surface browning allowed as a final step, be marketted, which gets consumers to convert from oven to microwaves?

Note that on p 4 of the pdf FAO report there is a discussion of "energy inputs for food supply chains" which states EJ/yr amounts for various direct and indirect energy demands in global agriculture. Eric, you are correct that these numbers do not add up to 30%, and it looks like there are many conflicting numbers and quite a bit of math that doesn't add up in this report.

I add up the following exajoule totals from the report as follows:

+ on-farm direct energy demand is around 6 EJ/yr
+ indirect energy demands for operating boats, tractors, and other farm machinery as well as for fertilizer manufacturing is around 9 EJ/yr
+ For fisheries, global primary production directly consumes around 2 EJ/yr of total final energy.
+ Around 0.4 EJ/yr of indirect energy is embedded in aquaculture feedstuffs.
17.4 ÷ 474 = 3.7%

Under Figure 4. of the report is a footnote saying that

"Data is uncertain and varies according to the methodology used to gather and analyze it. For example Schneider and Smith (2009) show global direct energy input for agriculture has stabilized at around 7.1 EJ/yr between 1990 and 2005, whereas Giampietro (2002) gives 5 EJ for ‘fuel’ plus 1 EJ for irrigation, electricity and heat with an update of this work (Arizpe et al., 2011) indicating over 9 EJ in 2003 for direct plus indirect energy inputs."

So, 3.7% is the percentage, according to the report, for direct and indirect Ag production energy use before adding in the rest of the food system energy expenditures of cooking, processing, eat at home, refrigeration, eating out, etc, all much higher in high GDP nations.

Figure 6 pg. 11 of the report uses the value of 95EJ/yr for global energy demands in the food supply chain, which would be 20% of total world EJ/yr (using a value of 474) according to my calculation, though the report states that it is 32%. A caveat was added below Figure 6. saying numbers were indicative only and should be interpreted with care.

The report also contains this statement:

In high-GDP countries, energy used for processing, transport and food preparation is usually around three to four times the amount used for primary production (Smil, 2008). However, these inputs are complex, difficult to assess and vary widely with region (Fig. 5). The dominance of energy for cooking is evident in Africa, which has lower shares of energy used for production and transport compared with USA. In the USA, the overall energy input/food output ratio is around 7 to 1 (Heller and Keoleian, 2000).

According to a USDA 2010 report by Patrick Canning in the U.S.:

The share of total food-related direct and embodied energy use by agriculture rose to 14.4 percent in 2002.


In 2002, U.S. households used 3.94 qBtu of energy on food-related tasks—28 percent of total food system energy use.

Was the TOD POV it the energy use was 5%?
Eric, do you have a link to TOD's 5% number?
Kay M.

I noted the anomaly of 30%, where I thought it was around 15%.

Your statement that FAO numbers from the link above only reference ag production, not home use, processing etc was a big help.

I add the amounts from the link differently, that the FAO ag total is 15 EJ, that fisheries and it's portion is included already in the direct and indirect tabs. That is the way I believe it is done US, that the inputs from say a rice/catfish operation are included, the catfish isn't excluded from the rice in final tallies.

FAO shows 1/3 of ag energy from fertilizer, if I'm reading it correctly (5 EJ). This seems to be a source of anomaly also, is fertilizer included in the ERS tally in Sera's ERS graph?

From the summary

Energy is used throughout the U.S. food supply chain, from the manufacture and application of agricultural inputs, such as fertilizers and irrigation, through crop and livestock production, processing, and packaging; distribution services, such as shipping and cold storage; the running of refrigeration, preparation, and disposal equipment in food retailing and foodservice establishments; and in home kitchens.

It's counted as part of the NG inputs

FAO shows 1/3 of ag energy from fertilizer, if I'm reading it correctly (5 EJ). This seems to be a source of anomaly also, is fertilizer included in the ERS tally in Sera's ERS graph?
Yes, the FAO report states that the synthesis of nitrogenous fertilizers alone consume approximately 5 percent of the annual natural gas demand (around 5 EJ/yr).

Sera's ERS graph is taken from the 2010 Patrick Canning USDA report which I referred to. That report didn't cover fertilizer. But, the other report (which I linked in my write-up, did). That one was titled "Impacts of Higher Energy Prices on Agriculture and Rural Economies", a USDA report from August 2011.

From it:

Over 2005-08, expenses from direct energy use averaged about 6.7 percent of total production expenses in the U.S. farm sector, while fertilizer expenses represented another 6.6 percent.

Nitrogen fertilizer needs vary by crop, corn requiring the most. Natural gas makes up 70-80% of N fertilizer production costs, and half of the N fertilizer that we use in the U.S. is produced abroad, now.

No energy units were given.

In 2008, the FAO reported that the "world nitrogen supply is forecast to rise by 23.1 million tonnes by 2011/12; world phosphate fertilizer supply will increase by 6.3 million tonnes and potash supply by 4.9 million tonnes." I assume that phosphate and potash energy expenditures are included in this new FAO report, but it doesn't say so. Many unknowns here.


Eric, do you have a link to TOD's 5% number?

No I do not. It is what I remember in the various discussions. I may have had links in my profile, but the profiles are gone.

You have a sub 5% number in your response that could be labelled "energy needed to make food" - and that is the kind of label I remember tied to the 5% number.

Re: Saudi Arabia Crude Production Rises to Highest in Three Decades* (uptop)

*An alternative headline:

"Estimated 2011 Saudi net oil exports show year over year increase, but remain well below 2005 level"

Here is what BP shows for Saudi production, consumption and net exports for 2005 to 2010 (total petroleum liquids, mbpd), versus annual Brent crude oil prices (EIA):

2005: 11.1 - 2.0 = 9.1 & $55
2006: 10.9 - 2.1 = 8.8 & $65
2007: 10.5 - 2.2 = 8.3 & $72
2008: 10.8 - 2.4 = 8.4 & $97
2009: 9.9 - 2.6 = 7.3 & $62
2010: 10.0 - 2.8 = 7.2 & $80

The EIA is showing average Saudi total liquids production of 11.0 mbpd for 2011, through August. Let’s assume that the EIA shows them matching the 2005 rate of 11.1 mbpd for all of 2011, and let’s assume that consumption continues to increase at the 2005 to 2010 rate. This would put Saudi 2011 consumption at 3 mbpd, resulting in 2011 net oil exports of about 8.1 mbpd, versus an average Brent price of about $111 for 2011.

However, while the BP and EIA data were virtually identical for 2005, we have recently seen a significant discrepancy between the two data bases, with BP’s total liquids number for 2010 only being about 95% of the EIA’s number. Given the discrepancy between the JODI and EIA data bases for 2010, I am more inclined to use the BP numbers. Applying a 95% correction factor would give us the following estimate for 2011:

2011: 10.5* - 3.0* = 7.5* & $111*


In any case, it seems likely that annual Saudi net oil exports for 2011 will be somewhere between 7.5 and 8.1 mpbd, versus an annual Brent price of about $111, versus net exports of 8.4 mbpd and an annual oil price of $97 in 2008 and versus net exports of 9.1 mbpd and an annual oil price of $55 in 2005.

Saudi Arabia has almost certainly shown--for only the second time since 2005--a year over year increase in net exports. However, although annual global oil prices doubled from 2005 to 2011, Saudi Saudi net oil exports in 2011 were probably 1.0 to 1.6 mbpd below their 2005 level.

From the Platts article Peak oil debate losing relevance due to new upstream technology: Repsol CEO

"..it estimates the cost of fully developing its Vaca Muerta shale oil and gas discovery in Argentina at some $20 billion. "

I wonder if Spanish has any fun colloquialisms about 'Beating a Dead Cow' .. ("Vaca Muerta", no?)

Seemed for a while there like at least some European oil companies were talking more responsibly about PO than their American counterparts (i.e., at least acknowledging the problem) although now it seems like everyone beating the same drum for shale, etc. so maybe this was a short-lived phenomenon. In any case, it almost goes without saying, but the point missed in the Platts piece and most similar proclamations, whether they emanate from the desks of corporate P.R. offices or the Yergins of the world or wherever else, is that similar problems exist in all of these new sources whether long horizontal fractured wells in shale, drilling ultra-deep or Arctic waters, drilling in Brazilian pre-salt zones or tar sands or other unconventional resources (i.e., initial capex requirements are high, formations often exhibit high decline rates, timeframe of development is slow compared to conventional oil/gas, return on investment is uncertain, water consumption and environmental impacts are high and EROI is low).

What this boils down to is drilling down into the lower levels of Gail's "resource pyramid" -- yes, the resources are more "abundant" than the onshore conventional oil and gas at the top, but they are also vastly more expensive and slower to develop, and so their availability to industrial society is not as high. Higher extraction costs and environmental impacts are a sign of Peak Oil ("the easy oil is gone") not a reason to dismiss it.

I think it boils down to Rockman's argument: generating a positive mood regarding the future value of oil companies stock drives the show. They gotta apply the happy talk to keep investors on the Ponzi bandwagon.

Yes, Jokuhl, you are right. Vaca muerta is a dead cow and it seems that this is what Repsol president is kicking, IMHO.

As for the comment of WastedEnergy, also yes; it seems that European oil companies are a little bit more prone to talk about peak oil. But in a sense that is very disgusting for those like me involved in peak oil issues in Spain. He literally said in Doha (Qatar) in the 20th. World Oil congress that “In the last three years, the debate on peak oil, for instance, has lost, a great deal of momentum” He was referring that with the new unconventional reserves (and he carefully moved ultra deep waters from the “unconventional” to the “conventional”), specifically shale gas and oil. Of course he was able in parallel, to advocate for green and responsible envirnomental practices and bla, bla, bla.

I am going to write in my webpage a criticism to these comments. I recall 1973, when dictator Franco was still ruling Spain. This year arrived the film “Love Story” (1970 Eric Segal). The film of Bertolucci “Last Tango in Paris” (1972) was absolutely forbidden. A famous cartoonist, Chummy Chumez, cornering always the dictatorship, published a cartoon, depicting a man reading a newspaper, referring to these two films, with a headline saying “The era of erotic movies is over; romanticism is back” and he very sadly exclaimed: “oh, boy here in Spain fashions pass away before we can taste them!!”

This is exactly what happens with the press release of Mr. Brufau, president of Repsol. He has never mentioned before the concept of “PEAK OIL” (in public; of course, he has warned several years ago in private meetings with some investors about peak oil, with a graphic that was virtually copied from ASPO), until three years after PEAK OIL apparently lost a momentum that nobody saw in the media.

They are and will be in denial until the last breath.

heh, meanwhile here in the 'ol USA we just hope to keep gorging ourselves right on through the famine

From GAO

Vacant Properties: Growing Number Increases Communities' Costs and Challenges

... According to Census Bureau data, nonseasonal vacant properties have increased 51 percent nationally from nearly 7 million in 2000 to 10 million in April 2010, with 10 states seeing increases of 70 percent or more. High foreclosure rates have contributed to the additional vacancies. Population declines in certain cities and high unemployment also may have contributed to increased vacancies.

... In 2010, [Fannie and Freddie] reimbursed servicers or vendors over $953 million for property maintenance costs. However, local governments reported spending millions of dollars--including federal funds--on vacant properties that are not adequately maintained. For example, Detroit spent about $20 million since May 2009 to demolish almost 4,000 vacant properties.

Gasoline at $400 a gallon? Yes, if funded by Congress.


OVER EASTERN AFGHANISTAN—Parachuting a barrel of fuel to a remote Afghan base takes sharp flying skills, steady nerves and flawless timing.

It also costs a lot of money—up to $400 a gallon, by military estimates.

I wonder if:
1) Hell exists
2) If Osama is there
3) If he got better seating there to stroke his beard and gloat about how well the bankrupt the enemy plan is working out.

I wonder if:
1) Hell exists
2) If Osama is there
3) If he got better seating there to stroke his beard and gloat about how well the bankrupt the enemy plan is working out.

Hmmmm... Probably a rhetoric question(s), but still, I will try to answer them. :D

1) Usually religions try to convince us that it indeed exists. And on top of that, they have their own Hell. So... Let's say that you are a faithful believer of one religion. Then you are safe, you'll go to Heaven of your religion, but at the same time you are not part of another, so you have to go to Hell of that religion. Very simple, eh?
2) Yes, he is - he is in the Christian Hell, but(!) also in Islamic Heaven. For explanation why see 1).
3) I think he has better things to do than to bother with some earthly stuff... :P

How ironic, this is how we killed the soviets when they tried the same thing. funding local groups and cutting supply liked to force methods such as this.

The Lesson That Pearl Harbor Should Teach Us from up top

I haven't posted much lately because I see a disconnect between what I see as our probably future and the majority of TOD posters. So, why waste the time. However, the mention of the movie Testament in the article caught my eye. This is a film everyone, except those who have problems with depression (seriously), should watch, not because of its focus on the outcome of nuclear war but rather how our society may end up as it collapses.

The people in the movie did just about everything wrong and there are many lessons to be learned for those with eyes to see. No gore or special effects - just unrelenting psychological depression.

For a real life view of collapse I'd also suggest SHTF School http://shtfschool.com. This is a blog from a man who lived in Bosnia during its crisis. Will it be the same in the US at some time in the future? Who knows...but he presents many wise thoughts.



Thanks for the link to the Bosnian's perspective - I wish Dmitry Orlov would ignore his mother's admonishment and write more about the details of daily life after the collapse of the USSR.

Also, about that disconnect between what you see coming and the POV of what might seem like a vocal majority here at TOD - your posts are Not a waste of time. I for one always stop to read your posts (as well as wharf rats, etc).

Seconded - Todd, keep 'em coming, I always like to read what you and the off gridders have to say, it's a great perspective from people who do it themselves, instead of asking for others to do it.

"I haven't posted much lately because I see a disconnect between what I see as our probably future and the majority of TOD posters. So, why waste the time."

Gosh Todd, it seems like if everyone here agreed on things it would really be a waste of time; preaching to the choir. Where's the fun in that? I too enjoy your posts, and don't forget the lurker majority who may benefit from your perspective.

I agree! Todd, I pay plenty of attention to your posts.


Maybe it's because I'm old but I find it more fun to discuss things with people who have the same point of view. For example, as a doomer I have no interest in debating with a cornucopian. It takes too much time whereas I find it lots of fun debating the merits of a .30-30 vs .223 vs a .308.

In a way, the Update newsletter I send to friends and some TODers about once a week fulfills my need to cover the doomer world.

Thanks for your comment.


Hang in there Todd!

Your comments are among the best.

I post a lot because I am stuck in the house looking after an invalid most of the time nowadays, but in the end I think pretty much like you do.

I used to have an elderly Model 94 Winchester "thuddy thuddy" but I loaned it to a dear old friend who unfortunately turned into a drunk and died on me without returning it.It didn't shoot very straight, but it was great in heavy cover at short range, light and fast to get on target.

I have a well used Sears branded 243 that I have been told is actually one of the old Model 70 Winchesters , which are very well thought of rifles.It certainly looks like one, that's all I know for sureIt shoots VERY well, and I keep the freezer stocked with venison with it.The beautiful thing about it is that I can consistently hit a groundhog at over two hundred yards with it, shooting off a rest with a scope of course.It will drop a deer in its tracks at a hundred yards plus while kicking less than my lightweight 12 gauge Spanish double which I use to hunt rabbits-if I get loose long enough to get out in the fields.

We could have a great time swapping stories if we were neighbors.;-)

I love my Model 94 (given to me by my father). I live in New Hampshire, and "200 yards" isn't really a concept as far as lining up a shot goes - 20 or 30 yards if you're lucky. But the 94 is really good in the woods.

I have a Model 74 22 (also given to me by my father) for the woodchucks and other such varmints.

I'm still trying to imagine a 200-yard shot. :-)

When I was growing up on the farm in Australia, we did some 300 yard shots - at birds eating our wheat seed on the fields- using my grandfathers WW2 Lee-Enfield .303! Just aim for the middle of the bunch and hope. It would scare them off but we did hit one once. There was an explosion of feathers and when we got there there was nothing left of the bird!

If you really want a shooting challenge, try to shoot a kangaroo "on the hop" - the 303 would stop one in their tracks.

Most fun gun I ever had - my nephew has it now, is an 1898 Winchester .22 single shot, short chamber and short barrel. Hard to hit anything reliably at more than 50 yards but I did get a rabbit with it once, and I regard that as my best shooting effort ever. Using a modern gun, scope, bipod, etc seems like cheating in comparison!


I thought all .22 shorts rifles had a thread on the end of the barrel for a silencer, lol, as they were sub-sonic bullets. Great for flying foxes as they didn't scare their neighbors when you fired.

Highly illegal is Aust, but did the job.

We have lots of large open fields where I live, and lots of heavy brushy cover too.The best gun for any given day depends on whether you want to watch such a field, or tramp through the woods and thickets.

I don't shoot groundhogs for "sport" but rather simply to thin them out as they are a serious pest. But hitting one at two hundred fifty yards is not easy and doing so consistently requires a very good rifle and scope and plenty of practice.I should not have said I can hit them that far consistently, but I can more often than not.

I enjoy Todd's comments as well.

I have a Krico (small German company) 243 which is fantastic at picking off coyotes.
The 243 is a nice size: small enough to be suitable for small game/varmints, but with enough force to drop a deer. The last I heard, the US military was switching from 303 to 243... 303 is overkill on human targets.
Other TOD readers may know more about this


Hi Todd,

Any chance you could add me to list of people to whom you send "Update"? (info in profile)

Unless it's *only* about .30s and such. :)

Many thanks.

Hi Aniya,

FWIW, I cover financial, government, agriculture, prepping, health, some misc. stuff that I think is interesting and "around home" which is what I've been doing*. It's all stuff that peaked my interest. I don't pretend to be comprehensive.

I don't cover energy and I seldom rant beyond a line or two.

The Update goes to 43 people and I've insisted that we all be on a real name basis as well as where we live so everyone "knows" everyone else (if I know their "handle" I don't pass it on). The Update started because some friends and I have lunch every other week to discuss what's going on and this was an easy way to give them links. I want to keep it that way.

So, drop me an email at detz2 at willitsonline dot com and I'll add you and anyone else.


*This week I'll write about a neat bobcat my wife and I saw on our road Wednesday.

I find it lots of fun debating the merits of a .30-30 vs .223 vs a .308.

Feel free to tell us why this ammo is better than an normal off the shelf round.

ZOMBIE MAX™ Ammunition and PROVEN Z-MAX™ Bullets
Be PREPARED – supply yourself for the Zombie Apocalypse with Zombie Max™ ammunition from Hornady®! Loaded with PROVEN Z-Max™ bullets... yes PROVEN Z-Max™ bullets (have you seen a Zombie?). Make sure your "bug out bag" is ready with nothing but the best!

eric - All about marketing, eh? LOL. I've been hunting for over 40 years and always enjoyed reading about the latest/greatest new round/rifle in Guns&Ammo. The tech advances over the years were great. But I never saw the need to replace my 6.5 X 55 Swedish Mauser that was built in 1917. Paid $89. Can shoot 1" groups at 100 yds all day long with no kick/ear plugs. Except for bears there's nothing in N America it won't take down with one well placed shot. And a good hunter won't take a risky shot.

But still love the ballistic on all the new short mags. Just don't have a need for them. Don't even need them for the zombies. The body count in WWI proved the Mausers were more than efficient enough.

I have a somewhat newer Swedish 6.5 X 55 which I foolishly bought (used, $100) to kill coyotes since my only other rifle at that time, my grandfather's .22 (made in 1903, still very accurate), was clearly not up to the job... I hit a coyote with it & knocked him over, but he got right up again and ran away.
The 6.5 was the other extreme: total overkill on coyotes as you point out... more like a moose gun. Overkill even on humans, which I presume is what it was designed for.

Mine has a military style flip-up rear sight and I believe the barrel reads "Husqvarnawerk 1942" (but it's on loan, I don't have it in front of me).
It is extremely accurate with nice consistent grouping as you report. I wanted to put a scope on it but it meant doing considerable work to the top of the barrel and I sort of like the historical aspect (plus I realized that it was just plain unsuitable for coyotes, so I bought the 243).

I would also recommend if a series in the uk called 'holiday hijack' less for the reality show aspect and more for the glimpses into the lives of the poor. especially the ones where they go to Africa and are then taken to live with native tribes. it would be a good point in contrast, as the western world will most likely end up like or similar to testament. these people will just go on living another day. it helps keep things in perspective that even though nature's limits are immutable, this still is a problem of our own making. when did it start? the second progress started.
edit: typo fix..

Thanks for the link. I just finished reading every post in the blog. Very real. Your contributions are valued.

i watched that movie today. yes it's depressing but i think it has a happy ending. they chose to stick with it, they could of stayed and killed themselves but they chose to stick with what had happened and move on.

I bought that DVD years ago, when Todd recommended it before. I didn't find it all that depressing. Or even all that memorable, to tell you the truth. I think movies and TV in general have gotten a lot darker in the years since it was made.

Still haven't watched The Ballad of Narayama, which was also recommended here. I'm really not much of a TV or movie watcher. Too passive. I'd rather argue with people on the Internets. ;-)

Dubai to mandate solar water heating in new construction

Solar must provide at least 75% of the energy for domestic hot water (the rest from back-up), but only 50% for pool heating.


Best Hopes for First Steps,


PS: This means less oil (@ 40% of Dubai fuel for generating electricity) for water heating in the future, especially in the summer.

It's smarter, but only smarter not smart. They should dictate 100% for pool heating. Using fossil fuels for heating a pool in an already warm country is nuts.

I just had an odd thought.. is it done anywhere that you could use your pool as thermal mass for an A/C Heat Pump for a residence? Warms the pool, cools the house..?

That would make far too much sense!
But putting pool heating panels on your roof is actually achieving the same result, by reducing the house solar gain.

Still, an air to water heat pump would make a lot of sense for those big houses with lots of AC and a pool - while their occupants can still afford both.

When my father in law was working in Mali, they were some people putting ice in the pool to keep it cool! It is a bit more complex to do with solar.

As a result, Israel is now the world leader in the use of solar energy per capita with 85% of the households today using solar thermal systems (3% of the primary national energy consumption),[7] estimated to save the country 2 million barrels (320,000 m3) of oil a year, the highest per capita use of solar energy in the world.[8]


None of those countries should need fossil fuels to heat water, its insane.

That speaks lengths about how cheap and convenient oil and other fossils are as a fuel. Was.

Air Force Fuel Supply and Storage to be Outsourced Around Globe

The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) plans to outsource a chunk of its global fuel supply and storage services to industry, though the agency has not disclosed the exact magnitude of those future contracts, U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor has discovered.

The Contractor's responsibility under the resulting contract will be to operate and maintain bulk storage facility to ensure safe and accurate receipt, storage, transfer, and issue of petroleum products under their control.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending December 2, 2011

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 15.2 million barrels per day during the week ending December 2, 682 thousand barrels per day above the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 87.7 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging 9.1 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 5.0 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 9.4 million barrels per day last week, up by 375 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.8 million barrels per day, 248 thousand barrels per day above the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 820 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 198 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased by 1.3 million barrels from the previous week. At 336.1 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are in the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 5.1 million barrels last week and are in the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 2.5 million barrels last week and are in the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 0.1 million barrels last week and are below the lower limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 9.5 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged 18.5 million barrels per day, down by 2.8 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged 8.6 million barrels per day, down by 3.5 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged about 3.9 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, up by 3.4 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 3.1 percent higher over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

Weekly ethanol production hit an all-time high in this report after falling to annual lows last month. This is probably short-term spurt to take advantage of the blender credit that will expire the end of December. I do think that 2011 will be the peak ethanol production year unless we can figure out how to grow corn in the desert.

"2011 will be the peak ethanol production year" --I see no reason for this at all on the current trajectory.

I'm sure you know in 2011 etoh passed animal feed as a corn use. I think this will continue, a bunch. And I think we have not come close to the amount of "marginal" land pressed into corn/soybean rotation. Or finished lowering our CRP reserves. That wheat, other grains, maybe even pasture, will continue to replace corn in feed rations. That corn, who I thought would never equal, will overtake wheat for top $ paid between the two.

I am 99.9% certain that ethanol production in 2012 will not exceed this year's number. The inventory numbers are too low. I am also fairly certain that 2013 will have to be an inventory-building year if Mother Nature lets corn grow well next summer. Now, 2014 and beyond, I think it is probable that demand will drop as finite resources and debt continue to take their economic toll on consumers. I don't see either side of the fundamentals being positive right now.

USDA seen cutting domestic corn supply forecast 1 percent

Also plotted are the 5, 10, and 20 year corn/soybean yield trends. The 20-year trend rises, reflecting corn yields gaining more rapidly than soybeans, but the 10-year trend is flat to lower while the 5-year trend is distinctly downward, reflecting corn yields faltering relative to soybean yields.

Keep in mind that corn yields the past two years have been down 4.5% and 8.5% from trend. However, it also appears that corn yields have plateaued and do not perform well in the face of hot summer temperatures, certainly a consideration if one feels that there is some merit to the global warming controversy.

That's alot of certainty.

But I still don't see it. USDA corn yield forecasts have been all over the place, usually down, I know, from projected stats. This has been attributed to weather, unforeseen heat and drought. And I am a early believer that CC induced climate change will have it's greatest effects in altered ppt patterns, not the oft reported rise in sea levels.

But in the immediate future, rising fuel prices, inability to afford meat, etoh export markets, relatively easy etoh plant expansions, along with cropland reasons listed above, will give etoh at least a temporary surge above this years levels. I'm uncertain what effects the government mandates will do, but don't see a probable end to the blenders credit as having much effect in the next year or two. Long term, as CC takes hold, total production will change, but corn will still flow to highest bidder.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 9.4 million barrels per day last week, up by 375 thousand barrels per day from the previous week.

So where do we think these extra imports have come from, Lybia, Saudi, or displaced imports from a shrinking European demand?

The gain in oil imports was more than accounted for by increased imports into the West Coast region. In the EIA weekly report details, imports increased from Columbia, Venezuela, and Russia. It's possible imports from Russia and Columbia, which are somewhat erratic, accounted for the increase in imports.

Meanwhile imports from Kuwait fell significantly.

At this time, imports from Libya are negligible.

According to a report today from tanker tracker 'Oil Movements', OPEC exports are now down only about 400,000 from the rate of February 1 (before Libya went 'off line').

The drop in OPEC exports has almost exactly equaled the drop in US oil imports throughout 2011, so that appears to be no coincidence.

Basically, the US bears the entire burden of any slowdown in OPEC exports. Further improvements by Libya will indirectly help the US. US oil demand is down about 400,000 bpd, so if OPEC can maintain its export levels, a six month drop in US oil inventories may finally be over.

Thanks Charles,

Always look forward to your interpretation of these weekly numbers. Interesting about the Russian oil to the west coast. Currently it must be coming from the newish east Siberian oil pipeline, though I would have thought China and Japan would have been taking as much as possible. Exxon is just bringing on line a new oil platform off Sakhalin Is. Not sure where Exxon sells their oil, but it could be heading your way.

From CNA

Ensuring America's Freedom of Movement: A National Security Imperative to Reduce U.S. Oil Dependence


- America’s dependence on oil constitutes a significant national security threat.
- A 30 percent reduction in our use of petroleum would significantly improve our national security.
- We can achieve a significant portion of a 30 percent reduction through greater efficiency in how we use oil.
- There are many promising alternatives to oil as a transport fuel—some available today, others on the horizon. If managed properly, all of the most promising alternative fuels examined can lower overall national security risks rather than continuing our overreliance on oil as a singular fuel source.

Report: http://www.cna.org/sites/default/files/MAB4.pdf

related CNA Report on Reducing US Oil Dependence review by Sohbet Karbuz (former International Energy Agency (IEA) senior analyst)

Re pollution in China. I think the pollutants mentioned, pm10 and pm2,5, are cooling influences. SO2 may also be part of this problem. When China gets a handle on this pollution, it will amplify the impact of the CO2 that its coal plants are putting out.

Yes. This is established by climate science. Global dimming is it called,or in this case the big asian brown cloud. I don't know the effect of this, guess we are going to learn the hard way when it come.

Yes, aerosols do have a net cooling effect, but it is hard to calculate exactly how much of one it has.

Estimates range from negligible to around 2 degrees C. If it is at the latter end, it means we constantly just weeks away (the time it would take for most aerosols to wash out of the air if not constantly replenished) from sudden catastrophic warming.

NOT moving to cleaner-burning coal plants means damning their people to less and less breathable air and more and more acid rain. Moving rapidly in that direction (or just vastly reducing the amount of coal burned) may mean a sudden global jump in temperature with almost certain global catastrophic consequences.

A couple of reasons for the large uncertainties. The biggest effect is called the indirect aerosol efect, which refers to the aerosols becoming cloud condensation nuclei, and affecting clouds (more more of them, and affecting their reflectivity). Also black carbon deposited on snow is warming, and causes enhanced melting.

Estimates range from negligible to around 2 degrees C. If it is at the latter end, it means we constantly just weeks away (the time it would take for most aerosols to wash out of the air if not constantly replenished) from sudden catastrophic warming.


"We show that there was an anomalous increase in the average diurnal temperature range for the period Sept. 11-14, 2001," the researchers reported in today's (Aug. 8) issue of the journal Nature. "Because persisting contrails can reduce the transfer of both incoming solar and outgoing infrared radiation and so reduce the daily temperature range, we attribute at least a portion of this anomaly to the absence of contrails."

China is a poisonous pit. They've paid, and continue to pay, a heavy price for blitz-style economic development. I vividly remember not airing out for days, because the thought of letting the brown ambience into the flat, made me want to tolerate stuffy air as long as I possibly could.
In the period succeeding the Chinese new Year, power plants and factories would ramp up production again and the effect on the air quality in Beijing would be unmistakable. On those days, measurements on the Air Pollution Index would venture deep into profundo russo territory, actually exceeding 500.

It really is "crazy bad".

I remember when, in the 1960s, Birmingham Alabama particulate count hit over 800. I was there when it was over 600 - *VERY* Bad !

Birmingham had a steel mill in a mountain valley. When the Red Mountain Expressway cut a notch in the mountain, pollution readings dropped significantly (and rose in a nearby suburb that previously had very clean air.

So not just China,


China's pollution data shrouded in official fog

The government keeps secret all data on the fine particles that shroud China's capital in a health-threatening smog most days. But as they grow more prosperous, Chinese are demanding the right to know what the government does not tell them: just how polluted their city is.

While the pollution choking China is testament to the country's explosive growth over the last 20 years, so is the current call for greater government transparency - and cleaner air. A new middle class that is increasingly well-traveled and wired to the Internet is turning its attention to quality of life and demanding official accountability.

"Firstly, people on low incomes care about food and clothing. Once food and clothing is no longer a problem, they start to care about the environment and health. Especially the air," said Wang, 23, the Green Beagle activist.

So not just China,

Indeed, we all went (or still going) through it. Two examples:

The famous London Fog of the early 20th century to about 1960

LA is quite notorious as well...

Gave birth to EPA's and Clean Air Acts all around the world.

Which will be returning in as early as 2013 if certain people get their way.

if certain people ...

If God had meant for there not to be agricultural dust and pollution, He would not have created them things in the first place! Obviously it is God's will that our cities be polluted death traps because He has a higher purpose in mind for us. It is blasphemy to challenge the grander plan that He has for us. Read your Revelations.

/end sarcasm (lest yea take me seriously)

Oerlikon Solar works to pull down PV costs in 2014

Switzerland-based Oerlikon Solar, kingpins in thin film silicon solar module equipment, has announced that it has reached a milestone in reducing the cost of production for its thin-film silicon photovoltaic panels. Oerlikon Solar describes its business as one that designs and manufactures equipment and turnkey manufacturing lines for the mass production of environmentally sustainable thin film silicon solar modules. The company said it is to realize a module manufacturing cost of 0.35 euro ($0.47) per watt in 2014.

related http://www.oerlikon.com/solar/thinfab/facts.html

Demo http://www.oerlikon.com/solar/thinfab/thinfabdemo.html

I'll believe when I see it. How many claims have we seen from alt energy companies saying "we can be competitive with coal" or "with oil at $X per bbl".

Making a claim like this, for a date three years hence, is at best an educated guess. A lot can happen in three years.

Solyndra was probably making these sorts of claims not too long ago...

Oerlikon Solar has 12 factories in production in seven countries, almost 3 million modules produced and 450 MW of installed capacity worldwide on the fast-growing thin film silicon PV market.

I didn't mean to imply they aren't a real company (unlike solyndra) - I could have chosen a better analogy there.

But many large, global companies have made many bad predictions - GM on cars, oil companies on oil prices.
Shell bought into a Canadian cellulosic ethanol company, and proclaimed cellulosic ethanol for $x - didn't happen.

I think making a firm price prediction for a point three years hence is quite a gamble - market conditions can change, and, as pointed out below, the thin film types are suffering at the hands of ever cheaper crystalline types.

I can see a possibility where, even if the thin films are free, at twice the land area required, the mounting/BOS costs still make them uneconomical.

So, they may even achieve that price point, but if the market conditions are such they are still economical, what's the point.

The thing film/crystalline thing is starting to remind me of VHS and Beta...

Buffett Gets High Rates, Incentive in Solar Bet:


Those projected prices are only a little bit lowerthan First Solar's (a completely different sort of thin film). The exciting thing about Si thin film, is that the basic ingredients aren't in short supply, so it can scale.

The one thing I got from SPI2011( www.solarpowerinternational.com ) is that Rigid Thin Film is currently toast with the global expansion of Si production. 1000+ module makers, most Crystal Si with 2x the output per area of film. Rigid Thin Film Prices can never drop enough to offset the 2x mounting costs. Major focus of the show was solutions for reduction of mounting costs ie. Racking, Ground mounts, etc. If you run the numbers, looks like lots o hurt for First Solar, GE, Sharp, etc. Chose wisely and it's Rock on the roof, or is it like the Chevy Commercial - Like a Rock,... always wondered about that.

Would be scary to be investing in one of these companies individually. Volume wise, First Solar is thin film. They have efficiencies more like 12 to 13 percent, and a lower thermal coefficient, so the areawide penalty is more like 50%, not 2x. I suspect FSLR, will be one of the winners/survivors.

Solar power much cheaper to produce than most analysts realize, study finds

The public is being kept in the dark about the viability of solar photovoltaic energy, according to a study conducted at Queen’s University.

Dr. Pearce says some studies don’t consider the 70 per cent reduction in the cost of solar panels since 2009 . Furthermore, he says research now shows the productivity of top-of-the-line solar panels only drops between 0.1 and 0.2 percent annually, which is much less than the one per cent used in many cost analyses.

Equipment costs are determined based on dollars per watt of electricity produced. One 2010 study estimated the this cost at $7.61, while a 2003 study set the amount at $4.16. According to Dr. Pearce, the real cost in 2011 is under $1 per watt for solar panels purchased in bulk on the global market, though he says system and installation costs vary widely.

I think perhaps a more accurate headline might be "The cost is different to what most analysts realise"

The only studies of solar cost that really matter, are the ones being done by people/companies that are willing to put their money on the line. Studies by academics, or other people that make their living doing studies, are of limited use.

Best I have seen, cost wise for small scale (1-10kw) is $3/w for the equipment, and then install, so probably about $4-5W
At utlity scale, there should be economies of scale, and maybe the best, simplest to build installs, on free land, might be as low as $3/W.
If the place gets 2000hrs of sun a year (6hrs/day), then you have $1.50 per annual kWh produced.
If the value of that kWh is 10c, then it is still a 15yr payback.

BUT, while still more expensive than coal, the difference is that you will probably be allowed to build a solar plant, while the chances of building a coal plant are near zero.

The real benchmark is the cost per annual kWh for any new generation types, and NGCC turbines, at about $0.20 per annual kWh (including the NG) are the cheapest by a long shot.

A wind turbine at about $2/W built and 30% capacity factor is $0.67/annual kWh - less than half of solar. That is why we have 10x the wind capacity than of solar.

Coal and nuke take forever to get approved, so they are off the table.
Hydro is good, if you actually have a site, but there are not many of those left.
Landfill gas, biomass and the like are fine for niche applications, but are not that scalable

So the only real options available today, for new generation, are NG, wind and solar.
Solar is getting less expensive for sure, but that does not necessarily mean it is always "viable", and certainly does not mean it is the best investment.

I don;t think the public is being kept in the dark at all.

Kept in the dark in that in some areas with a lot of sun, and high retail rates, they could save money by adding PV. Which is different then it being price competitive everywhere -or every mostwhere. A lot depends upon the discount rate, and the future prices of electricity. As far as NGCC goes, it will depend a lot upon the future price of NG. Add wind/solar to reduce the demand for NG, and the prospects of keeping NG cheap go up. It may well be the case, that if we invest in wind/solar, we won't like the comparison to the cost of electricity from cheap NG. But, if we don't invest, and NG has a demand driven price spike, then the wind/solar we didn't build will be missed.

One comparison with wind turbines versus residential solar. They've just finished setting up 34 2.3MW turbines about 10miles from here. I figure one of these turbines is worth a thousand residential PV systems output wise. So to match the new turbines would require 34,000 residential PV systems! To make a real dent, PV is going to have to be built in utility scale plants, not just residential and commercial rooftops. Thats starting to happen.

Well, it is up to the people to find out, and for the solar industry to make their case that it is a worthwhile investment.
When we see pension funds and the like investing in these things, then we will know.

I'm not saying we shouldn;t invest in wind and solar, and other renewables (I am working in micro-hydro and biomass), just that we need to strip away all the hype in evaluating our the options. And these evaluations, of course, vary from place to place.

I take with a grain of salt any analysts report that says anything about the economics of these things as few, if any of these anaylsts have ever built one, and if they come up with a glowing recommendation that I build X because they say it is economic, the first thing I would ask is if they are willing to invest half their fee and/or retirement into X.

To paraphrase Admiral Halsey, it is very easy to tell people to invest if you are not the one doing the investing.

As for your example of rooftops, yes, you can see the scale difficulty for solar.

But rooftop solar has a couple of advantages of its own;
- it is generated right at the point of use, so there is no transmission loss, and it relives daytime demand on transmission lines, instead of increasing it.
- it doesn't need any transmission lines to be built, nor, in most cases, any environmental studies to be done.
- it is the only type of energy producing system that is practical for an individual to own and operate.

I regard solar as the electrical equivalent of city/backyard gardening. It produces something, and something of value, but is only incremental in solving any of the real issues.

However, as Fmagyar has said before, it also serves a useful purpose in that those who have it become very educated and aware of the issues, and their own electrical consumption. Once they are in the business of being a net exporter, they (mostly) minimise their use to make some money off the sunk costs.

But when people complain that utlities aren;t investing in it, there is a reason - other investments - wind and NG - are better.
It;s that simple.

Well, it is up to ... the solar industry to make their case that it is a worthwhile investment.


This is the insanity of our "modern" way of thinking.
Everything is all about the money.

We can just as easily ask whether it is economically "worthwhile" to eat all our meals at McD's (cheap "happy" meals) or at Whole Foods (an expensive "organic" foods chain)?

Sometimes the real issue is not money but rather health and long term sustainability.
Every day that we do not build up wind and solar but instead burn fossil fuels and pump the CO2 into the air (CO2 plus other stuff) is another day that we are eating unhealthy "happy" meals like a bunch of fast-gratification children.

Every day that we continue to deplete from non-renewable sources is another day that we drain the non-replenishable principle out of our geological bank account.

But then again, we are sophisticated economic analysts as opposed to being instant-gratification driven "clever" monkeys.

Now remind me again about those clever "fixes" to our spreadsheet validated "debt" situations and about how the market always provides. Sometimes I forget the fantasy and stare instead into the cold heart of a darkening and funds-depleted reality.

Yes, worthwhile.

There has to be a re-discovery of the concept that we should concentrate on doing things that are the best use of our scarce resources.

I have the solar folks here in wet and cloudy (and windy) BC clamouring for more subsidies for rooftop solar. Even though the average capacity factor here would be just 12-15%, and many people have out tall cedar trees partially shading their houses.

I am just, this morning, submitting a proposal to my municipality - who is looking for renewable energy projects - to do up to 600kW of micro hydro on their municipal water systems. The projects will cost just over $1m to build and have an average payback of 2.5 years. To achieve the same production with solar would need 3600 rooftops, and cost about $18m. The local solar guy is asking the muni to spend $200k on a rooftop system that will produce 1/15th of the energy, and value, of the same $ spent on hydro - would you do that?

So which do you think is the better investment? should the muni listen to the local solar guys who say solar is better because people can see it every day? Is it worth that price difference?

Even wind, here, for a household, (1kW turbine) is about a 2x better investment, and more so if several housheolds get together and put up a bigger one, or they create (as we are) a community energy company, and pool our resources for common and greater good - we will not be going solar here. Next on the list is the community landfill.

I don;t think the Whole Foods analogy is good at all. I know several local organic farmers (potatoes, mostly) from the world class Pemberton valley - where seed potatoes are produced and sold to spud growing areas across the continent. Whole Foods has refused to buy from them, as they have "corporate" arrangements with large growers - in the US , of course. That chain has no interest in supporting locals, and simply drains excessive amounts of money from its customers for its "organic" produce. The community would be far better off supporting local producers, not yet another big chain store.

In all these manners, the hype has to be stripped away - why should the gov debt make any difference to a decision to favour wind over solar? In the coming economic recession, can we really afford the fancy stuff of Whole Foods, or should we, as Michael Pollan urges, just eat locally grown, whole, *food*?

We should not believe the economic analysts, as they mostly have their own interests first, and that includes when they are telling us to go solar when we have better options. there are places where solar is the best option, but that is not everywhere.

Best hopes for harsh reality!

MHyLab, a non-profit engineering design firm for microhydro in Switzerland, has extensive experience with treated sewage outfalls (as well as replacing potable water pressure reducers).

Best Hopes,


What is an "annual kWh"?

It is simply one kwh of electricity produced, per year. Sorta like an equivalent to a barrel of oil per day.

It is the best way, IMO, to compare what you pay for a generation technology, and what you get. Since in most cases you get paid per kWh produced, knowing how many are produced per year, and the capital (and operating cost) of producing them is important.

For wind and solar the operating cost is negligible, so we can just look at the capital cost.

So, for a 1000W solar system, we want to know how much it produces in a year. This, of course, depends on where it is, but 2000hrs a year (6hrs/day) is a nice sunny location, though the best ones get over 7hrs/day.

So, the 1kW system produces 2000kWh/year, for the $3k spent, or it cost $1.50 for enough equipment (panel, mounts, inverter, etc) to produce 1 kWh per year.

Now we can look at how much we need to spend on a wind turbine, to get 1 kWh/yr.
And then we can do the same for hydro, NG and even nuclear. (nuclear, at about $10k/kW, and 90% capacity factor, comes in at $1.20, if you ignore decomissioning and disposal cost).

Basically, it takes into account the capacity factor of the generator - what % of the time it operates. Fossil plants can be 90+, same for nukes and run of river hydro. Storage hydro is often 60%, wind about 30-35, and solar 15-20%.

It is the basis, in this case, of the engineers definition of efficiency - [what you get]/[what you pay for] !

I'm doing a new flat roof installation for a family member here in Holland of about 2.5kWp and the installation cost is Eur 0.80 per Wp. We do the labor and also fabricate the racks made of stainless steel ourselves. This includes an German SMA inverter, using a much cheaper US Delta or Chinese converter this could be reduced up to half.

A pallet of A-brand panels from Ebay comes in at Eur 0.78 per Wp which is shared with 2 other DIY-types.

Total installed systems cost: Eur 1.58 per Wp including taxes, excluding labor and hours of scouring the web for good deals :D This is about $2.10 per Wp.

Expected production is about 2300 kWh per year which should cover about 3/4 of the electricity consumption. At current electricity grid prices this saves about Eur 550 per year which puts the payback time at less then 8 years.

All without subsidies or FIT or whatever help from our nuke and coal loving government. (/me shows the middle finger to the Ministry of Economic Affairs)

NOAA: Autumn and November both warmer than average in the United States

•To date, the United States set a record with 12 separate billion dollar weather/climate disasters in 2011, with an aggregate damage total of approximately $52 billion. This record year breaks the previous record of nine billion-dollar weather/climate disasters in one year, which occurred in 2008.

related Billion-dollar weather disasters smash US record

So 2005, which brought us Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, and Rita, doesn't crack the top two? Kind of amazing....

Well, if you just use nominal dollars, then the number of "billion dollar disasters" automatically drifts upward as the years pass by. And if you keep putting up more and more expensive buildings hard by the pretty ocean or the pretty river (with Uncle Sucker subsidizing the flood insurance, of course), that adds to the upward drift. And if you keep building more and more exurbs out in the pretty, highly flammable piney woods, that too adds to the drift. It would take a rather deep and lengthy analysis to tease out all the different factors and form a clear picture of what's going on. But one potential mitigation, at least, is blindingly obvious - stop subsidizing people to build in stupidly chosen places.

Arctic blizzards and snowdrifts to create traffic chaos in north

Britain is set to be hit by Arctic blizzards of up to 80mph and snowfall as far south as Birmingham in the coming days, with drifts expected to halt transport on dangerously icy roads

Wonder how the U.K. is set for NG this winter? As I recall they don't have much storage and the pipelines are a bottleneck. Maybe LNG?

OTOH the UK always seems to have undue problems with winter. The wrong kind of snow (when is it ever the right kind?) on the tracks, and all that. But being snowed in for a few days once in a blue moon is one thing - while, say, having everything washed away because you chose foolishly to build below sea level and also chose (collectively) not to build proper sea defenses (oh, well, the money was "needed" for frippery such as palaces of moronic "entertainment") is quite another thing altogether.

UK Nat Gas storage is nearly full at the moment. It's been a mild start to winter so far although it has turned colder recently. Compared to last year at this time it is tropical :-)

Confirmed by Met Office gust of 165 mph just recorded at Cairngorm summit at 1245m (4084 feet) above sea-level. Current average wind speed there 115 mph.

Guests exceeding 80mph being recorded in various parts of lowland Scotland. Many bridges and roads closed.

Estimated central pressure of system 956 mb. System currently centred just off North Coast Scotland.

Wind turbines not doing well

Both images from BBC.

Scotland storm blackout hitting thousands

Police have told people in Scotland not to travel, as severe winds of up to 165mph are battering the country, leaving thousands without power.

As the Met Office issued its highest warning, a red alert, hundreds of schools have shut and bridge and road closures are causing disruption.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland are also being hit by wind and rain.

Police in Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway, Central Scotland and Lothian and Borders advised against all travel.

Now that's decidedly wicked weather. Our winds are currently running at 50 kph, gusting to over 100, but that's a light breeze in the park compared to what you're describing (temperatures have also dropped a full 5°C in less than an hour). But given our papier-mâché and bailing wire distribution system, as at 13h15 local time some 37,000 NSP customers are without service (http://www.nspower.ca/en/home/residential/outageinformation/liveoutagema...).

Hang on to your kilts, brave souls !


Hang on to your kilts, brave souls !

See https://twitter.com/#!/jakeroche18/status/144812112420679681/photo/1

I'd better not hotlink it :-)

That's one of the top tweets in Scotland now for what's been nicknamed "Hurricane Bawbag" - See twitter #bawbag - currently number one trend in the UK right now.

Ack ! Stabs both eyes with a pencil...


Well, that answers that question then....

And wasn't there, just a few days ago, a bizarre November hurricane in Alaska?

Is it my imagination, or are things getting increasingly very weird at an accelerating rate?

And in Pasadena last week.

That was only the 11th worst storm in SoCal from an electrical outage standpoint in the past 17 years.

What we need is some really freaky storm to hit Durban South Africa HARD, right now.


Wouldn't help.

Climate is always changing ... as we skeptics well know.

Winter storms are common in North-West Europe. Nothing unusual.


Sorry, 165mph winds are NOT common occurrences in Scotland (or much of anywhere else).

Wind speed is indeed high. I am not implying weather weirding ain't happening. Just that your statement implied winter storms are uncommon. Same weather events are displaying more power owing to AGW.

Wow - that's a bit breezy, isn't it!

Wow... Could u imagine how much energy is in a 165mph wind? Bigger wind turbines you clowns!

Looks like about 2.4 GW of wind power is "unexpectedly" offline right now.

Data from http://www.bmreports.com/bsp/bsp_home.htm

Most turbines in Scotland are large 2MW or greater each. That's a huge 2 MW turbine at Ardrossan on fire in the pic upthread.

Most wind turbines feather or stall (intentional) at wind speeds in the 60 to 75 m/sec range.

Such winds happen so rarely, that is not worth engineering to capture them.

It is my understanding that the airfoil of the blade is unlike an aircraft wing - it is designed to stall at certain speeds.

Other WTs just shut down and go stationary.


There are 15 turbines at the Ardrossan site and I believe just one failed so dramatically. Perhaps the brakes failed on it and the others successfully halted?

The other turbine on the ground was at Coldingham also in Scotland.

Lot's of higher resolution pics of the storm (including the turbines) at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2071633/UK-weather-Wind-turbine-...

There's a pic of a very scary landing at Edinburgh Airport there as well.

Wind turbines not doing well

Yes, lets compare the effects.

Mother Nature exposes Man's energy producing machines to stresses outside the design parameters.

Next week - will the wind turbine repair crew need to watch radiation levels to repair the turbine?
How about that collapsed turbine - is there any reason the metal can't be smelted back down?
How many animals are going to die from the failure mode, VS, of say BP's oil slick when that energy mode failed?

Because the counterpoint is fission plant failure modes like Fukushima or even BP/Haliburton and their failure modes in the Gulf.

Now which has better failure modes for the planet?

Oddly, during last weeks California wind event, the newly constructed 2.3MW turbines, as well as some earlier roughly 1MW turbines were running. I think the wind over the site was probably more like 30knots, and I guess thats within the operating regime of these newer designs.

stop subsidizing people to build in stupidly chosen places.

Indeed. Isn't there some (very) old story about a man who built his house on the rocks and another who built on the sand...

Some lessons are never learned...

What makes the parable very appropriate to flood plain issues is the New Testament era setting. The low lying flat areas with sand were the easiest and cheapest on which to build, and were by the gentle, running waters. The rocky ledges were further away from water sources, required a difficult climb, and building materials had to be dragged up to the ledge. Those living in the sandy plains had it easy until the spring flash rain storms rolled down from the surrounding hills and the small stream became an overwhelming flood event.

When I was a city engineer I used to use that parable as an example.

2011 Extreme Weather Map

Climate change increases the risk of record-breaking extreme weather events that threaten communities across the country. In 2011, there were at least 2,941 monthly weather records broken by extreme events that struck communities in the US. Check out the interactive map below to find out what events hit your area from January to October 2011

Cambodia opens controversial mega-dam

PHNOM PENH — Energy-starved Cambodia on Wednesday opened the country's largest hydropower dam to date, a multi-million dollar Chinese-funded project that has attracted criticism from environmental groups.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said the start of operations of the 194-megawatt hydroelectric dam, which cost more than $280 million, in southern Kampot province was a "historic event" in the development of the nation.

He brushed aside the concerns of local and foreign activists, saying the environmental impact of the dam had been "well studied" and it would help bring down electricity prices in areas including the capital Phnom Penh.

That must be the worst excuse I ever heard. So they have studied the consequences well. Good. And did those sudies reveal it was a big problem wich you chosed to ignore? Just wonderin'.

I suspect they were ignored.

What can't be ignored is that 194 MW for $280m ($1.44/W) is an absolute bargain. I'll wager that this was the cheapest, by a long margin, electricity option they had.

I doubt there was too much attention paid to environmental issues before building Grand Coulee dam either, though it has been disastrous for salmon on the Columbia River.

Protester's Express Outrage Over Russian Elections

If you pause at 0:13 you can see a few palms. Palms. In Moscow. In December.

And the police shields have the word 'Police' written in Greek and English.

Uhm. I don't know what to say really.

Nice catch. All you have to say is "Propaganda".

This video was supposed to be about protest against lies and dishonesty. And what we see? Lies from the first second.

What a perverse world.

It's a fantastic illustration of what the "news" actually is. But that's not news, or it shouldn't be. By now, this reality should already be factored in to everything you see and hear from such sources, at least on those occasions when you are forced to subject yourself to it. Far better to eliminate such lies and manipulation from your life than to try to withstand it.

Moscow has a major who is very concerned about the extrior of his town. He spend lots on the issue. Those palms are most likely grownin pots and bussed around. But yes, it does make you wonder.

Compare this screenshot from the video and this photo of Greek police.

It's Greece, without a doubt.

The link appears to be dead now, but I'm sure it's done its job.

RT Moscow has picked this up

FOX, lies & the wrong videotape: What’s NOT happening in Moscow

Now, even though FOX news has kindly told us that this is, in fact, Moscow – as a Muscovite, one glance is enough to tell me it's NOT. First of all, the phone box – ours are a greyish-blue, and are few and between. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I saw a public phone box, let alone anyone using it.

Secondly, the people in the background – the young couple pressed against the building? They’re dressed in jeans and long-sleeved tees.

It’s December. In RUSSIA. No one in their right mind would go to a rally (where most of the time, a lot of standing around is involved) in a tee shirt. People here wear thermals, ski jackets, hats and gloves – the works. Stereotypes are based on fact, you know – and Moscow is very cold in December.

But even if all of this isn’t enough to convince you – and believe me, I do not want you to just take my word for it, here is my final argument.

You may say ‘Hey, that looks Greek to me” – and you know what, you’ll be spot on. Greek it is – literally. And that sign? Says “National Bank of Greece” in those big, pretty, gold letters.

A short while ago, there was a post or two on TOD about how Fox News' viewers knew less about the world than people who don't watch any news.

Says it all.

The link was not working when I saw it so I never watched the video. Took me a while to piece the puzzle together what this thread was about.

I know russians don't often print english translations of their signs (or police shields) around, and I can read cyrillic and know some simple russian. Would have spotted this if I saw it.

The video is available on youtube:

Not only palms, in Moscow, in December, but also lady at 0:23 doesn't speak Russian at all! I do speak some Russian, so in spite of all the noise and added English "translation" (wink-wink :P) I should be able to recognize a word or two and I didn't.

I think they simply used footage from some Greek protest, added their own translation, hoping that none of [the Fox News] viewers knows any Greek or even Russian, and won't question the validity of this footage.

Well... kinda reminds me of "Wag the Dog" movie... :-/

Well, USA don't recieve any imigrants, so it is a safe move.

Probably just incompetant editors who don't know their #%$@ from a hole in the wall. I remember getting a paper published in a Colorado State tourism brochure. Across from it was a picture of Mt Rainer, which for anyone who knows anything at all about mountains is totally out of place. These folks simply aren't the sharpest tacks around, and grab the first graphic that fits their imagined need.

The protests were actually in Wisconsin last March.

Gates discussing new nuclear reactor with China

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates confirmed Wednesday he is in discussions with China to jointly develop a new and safer kind of nuclear reactor.

"The idea is to be very low cost, very safe and generate very little waste," said the billionaire during a talk at China's Ministry of Science and Technology.

Gates said he had largely funded a Washington state-based company, TerraPower, that is developing a Generation IV nuclear reactor that can run on depleted uranium. TerraPower says it has discussed its plans with India, Russia and other countries with nuclear energy programs.

Electricity too cheap to meter... a nuclear battery in every toy....

From elsewhere
'Core workers exposed to year's radiation in day'

... "Dimona workers were exposed to more radiation in a day than the safe limit for a year," she said in her witness testimony Thursday.

Nuclear workers are engaged in a long compensation battle against the State after being exposed to what they claim were unsafe levels of radiation while working in Dimona and Nahal Sorek [Israel].

Of the 44 workers that filed the suit in the mid-90s, nearly half have died of cancer

If you like your toys containing liquid sodium cooled fast breeder reactors that is :-) Which is what the Gates contraption actually is. An all-in-one fast breeder creating plutonium for power. What could possibly go wrong - specially with Bill Gates input?

"This Reactor Has Performed An Illegal Operation And Will Now Explode"

The Blue Screen Of Death takes on a whole new meaning!

The Blue Screen Of Death > The Cherenkov Blue Screen Of Death



Oh, you beat me to it :-) +10 :-)

If Gates must spend on nuke power, why not invest in the efforts to develop the thorium reactor - that type at least solves some of the potential problems, instead of creating more.

One of the selling points of the current TerraPower reactor proposal is that the large majority of its fuel is drawn from the existing 700,000 or so tons of depleted uranium already stockpiled in the US as a byproduct of enrichment: no mining, no refining, just shape the stuff properly. In theory, there is no reason why their traveling-wave reactor couldn't burn thorium. The details of spacing, size, and shape of fuel blocks might be slightly different, but if you can make the uranium version work, you can make a thorium version as well.

Living in a state that is still struggling with the environmental contamination from a former uranium mine, I admit to seeing a certain attraction in a solution that doesn't require further mining. Other than that, I'm not real picky, so long as we understand that if fission is going to have a future, it needs to be based on some form of fast-spectrum high-burnup breed-and-burn technology.

One would be wise to not pick a fast breeder.

Out of that, you can be not picky.

Depleted uranium is widely available as a feedstock. Stockpiles in the United States currently contain approximately 700,000 metric tons of depleted uranium, which is produced as a waste byproduct of the enrichment process.[12] TerraPower has estimated that the stockpiles present at just the Paducah enrichment facility represents an energy resource equivalent to $100 trillion worth of electricity.[11] Company scientists have also estimated that wide deployment of TWRs could enable projected global stockpiles of depleted uranium to sustain 80% of the world’s population at U.S. per capita energy usages for over a millennium.[13]

Too cheap to meter for sure!


With Plutonium?

General Protection Fault will be taking that Plutonium for the Peacekeeper(tm) line of bombs and missiles.

"Who is General Protection Fault?" a new line of bumper stickers to go 'longside the "Who is John Gault?" one.

Its time for emergency shutdown, but I'll have to delete a file. Is it OK to proceed? [Don't worry I won't do the shutdown till you respond to my dialog box.] Melt, Melt, ... hydrogen explosion!

And I'm sure it'll be designed with all the care and forethought of Windows.

One problem with Bill Gates getting involved is that using Microsoft products becomes a requirement for the aid. Not good.


And at one time one for forbidden by the terms of the licence to use Windows in a nuclear plant.

Dollar demand in ECB tender shows funding stress

A larger-than-expected take-up of dollars at a European Central Bank tender on Wednesday reflected euro zone banks' funding stresses but the fact banks were using the facility was seen as a positive.

Yes. There are signs of people fleeing the euro. Even the swedish Krona is used as a safe haven these days. I did not expect to see that only a few months ago.

I heard on the radio this morning that the rock group Metallica is moving their European tour forward because they're afraid that the Euro is going to collapse. Seriously, heard it on BBC radio.

Metallica bring forward Europe gigs over fears recession will hit ticket sales

Heavy metal legends schedule more concerts for next year, fearing eurozone crisis will soon make fans too poor to attend
Managers often take economic factors into account when deciding when and where an act should play, Mensch explained, and Metallica's decision on Europe was no exception, conjuring up images of the Financial Times and the Economist being passed around the tour bus.

Whenever I hear Metallica I think of Lars and his gold plated shark tank:


What WOULDN'T Metallica do for money?

Heads-up for the mods

Adobe confirms zero-day danger in Reader and Acrobat

Adobe on Tuesday issued a critical security advisory for Adobe Reader and Acrobat. A vulnerability was detected and confirmed in Adobe Reader X (10.1.1) and earlier versions for Windows and Macintosh, Adobe Reader 9.4.6 and earlier 9.x versions for UNIX, and Adobe Acrobat X (10.1.1) and earlier versions for Windows and Macintosh. Adobe said the flaw could cause a crash and allow an attacker to take control of the affected system.

delete after reading

Yes. Bugs are always out there and ready to get us. Or h4xOrz. :-S

Phew, good that I'm using Okular... :P

Slightly off topic: Is anybody else having a problem with the "Energy Bulletin"? "Skipping" the Post Carbon overlay display doesn't work for me.

Legal fallout from nuclear bomb frack job reaches Colorado Supreme Court

Even as state oil and gas regulators mull over new rules for the disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, the Colorado Supreme Court is pondering whether citizen activist groups can intervene on matters like the ultimate frack job in 1969 using a 43-kiloton nuclear bomb.

That blast more than 8,000 feet beneath the surface near the tiny Western Slope dot on the map called Rulison was meant to free up natural gas for commercial use. Instead it produced gas so radioactive it was useless ...

S - Besides the insanity of introducing radioactive material to the NG just fracturing the rock doesn't make it very productive. If proppant isn't forced into the induced fractures to keep them open they'll seal up for the most part.

ROCK - My memory may be wrong, but I recall that the operation is very different than a conventional frac job. The nuclear blast creates a void of limited diameter (but still several feet per kiloton) in the rock. It also crushes -- not just fracturing -- the rock over a much larger diameter, and cracks it sufficiently to resist healing (I recall "irreversible damage" being the buzz phrase) over an even larger diameter. The roof of the void eventually collapses, although it may take days for the temperature and pressure to decrease to the point that collapse occurs, creating a rubble chimney of fractured rock that can extend a considerable distance upwards (in many of the underground tests in Nevada, the rubble chimney reached the surface). Recovery wells are drilled later as deep as the top of the rubble chimney -- the whole mess is permeable enough for gas to flow freely to that point.

I don't know what kinds of temperatures and pressures are obtained with current frac'ing technology. The nuclear blast generates, for a very brief period, temperatures on the order of a million °F and a million atmospheres of pressure.

And obviously, given the rather indiscriminate volume that suffers "irreversible damage", only certain types of geologic structures would be suitable for this kind of operation.

mc - Thanks for the details. I stil question the producibility of the "rubble zone". Again, a bit outside my expertise but immagine you take a nice brittle shale and break it up into nice little pieces. Then put a pile of it into a press and crank it up to 15,000 psi. How much void space would you imagine will remain afterwards? I'm sure you understand the pressure exerted under 10,000' of water. Imagine unde rock with an over burden pressure many times that from the rock colimn. I can only make a qualitative WAG but I would say very little. And again remeber the primary reason the frac a shale well: it's not to break the rock apart but to extend the well bore out to existing natural fractures that were penetrated by the well. You can frac a shale as much as you want and the shale matrix will produce exactly zero cu ft of NG. The production from these wells comes from NG trapped in existing fractures that are penetrated by the well bore or intersected by the frac job.

But back to the original point: did they think the NG wouldn't be contaminated with radioactivity? I can't imagine that expectation.

It was a very poorly thought out idea. A nuclear explosion doesn't fracture the rock, it vaporizes it. The fireball creates a cavity and the molten rock on the outside of the cavity cools and congeals to create a glassy surface.

I think their idea was that any oil would condense and create a pool on the cavity floor with natural gas above it, and then they would just sink a well and pump the oil and gas out.

That's not really what happens because the fireball would convert everything to a hot ionic plasma and drive it out into the formation, as it cooled, they probably would get something approximating a vacuum in the cavity, and then the roof would collapse and fill the cavity with radioactive debris.

And, of course, the big problem is that everything in the formation is now contaminated with highly radioactive isotopes, including any remaining natural gas, and nobody would want to buy it.

Instead it produced gas so radioactive it was useless ...

Simply a case of bad PR/marketting. "Our gas contains bonus BTUs of the nuclear type!".

Study: Shale-gas production will be boon to economy

The Study, which was conducted by IHS Global Insight and commissioned by America's Natural Gas Alliance, says the shale-gas industry will “support” more than 1.6 million jobs and contribute $231 billion to the economy in 2035.

“The extent of job and GDP contributions reflect the capital intensity of the shale gas industry, the ability to source inputs from within the United States, the nature of the supply chain, and the quality of the jobs created,” the study, which was released Tuesday, says.

The trend toward moving crude oil by train gathers steam:

Enbridge invests $145 million US to transport Bakken crude by rail

Oil pipeline giant Enbridge Inc. will be investing $145 million US to transport North Dakota crude by rail car next year to Midwest markets as its U.S. subsidiary rushes to accommodate burgeoning production from the Bakken formation.

The Berthold rail project is the latest in a series of expansion projects the company has announced to accommodate the region's booming oil production.

Enbridge Energy Partners said Tuesday it will move 10,000 barrels of crude oil per day by July through the proposed rail car loading facility with a second phase adding 70,000 bpd by early 2013.

The company said it has contracted 70 per cent the rail loading capacity and expects to finalize agreements for the remaining capacity.

"The Bakken production in North Dakota is growing significantly but the pipeline capacity has not been growing in the same manner to meet that demand," said a spokes-woman, Lorraine Little, in Wisconsin.

"This rail project is an interim solution that can get online faster than doing an additional pipeline project."

CME Group to Develop New Gulf Coast Crude Oil Futures Contract at Enterprise Terminal

NEW YORK and CHICAGO, Dec. 7, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- CME Group, the world's leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, today announced it will work with oil market participants to discuss developing a new Gulf Coast crude oil futures contract at the ECHO Terminal, a storage facility being developed by Enterprise Products Partners L.P., to be listed on the NYMEX exchange. Connected to multiple facilities along the Houston Ship Channel, the ECHO Terminal is expected to begin service during the second quarter of 2012. The ECHO Terminal will be the destination of Enterprise's Eagle Ford Crude pipeline, as well as the Seaway pipeline following the reversal project announced November 16, 2011 by Enbridge Inc. and Enterprise. Once the process of changing the flow direction has been completed, Seaway will transport crude from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Houston refining market. The Seaway pipeline will accommodate growing domestic crude oil production supplies from the Cushing hub and Canada.

"The recent announcement to reverse the Seaway pipeline represents a major development for the North American crude oil market, and will be an important logistical solution for the vital Cushing marketplace," said Bryan Durkin, chief operating officer and managing director, products & services at CME Group. "We believe this new project will make the NYMEX Light Sweet Crude Oil (WTI) benchmark more accessible to global markets, bringing 150,000 barrels a day to the Gulf from Cushing by the second quarter of 2012 and approximately 400,000 barrels a day by 2013. This is a significant milestone, and we look forward to working with our oil industry customers to explore the development of a new physically-delivered crude oil futures contract at Enterprise's ECHO terminal."

For Midwesterners, more boxcars mean cleaner air

MADISON -- Shifting a fraction of truck-borne freight onto trains would have an outsized impact on air quality in the Midwest, according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

"There's a 31 percent decrease in carbon dioxide produced by freight shipping in the region, and that's straight from emissions," says Bickford, who made a model of freight traffic in 10 Midwestern states from Kansas to Ohio that she will present today in San Francisco at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. "It's 21 million metric tons of CO2, the equivalent of what's produced by about 4 million cars."

The 500 million tons Bickford selected for travel by rail represent about 5 percent of U.S. truck freight by weight.

I've mentioned this before, but a new report by a NAFTA committee states that CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel burning power plants vastly exceed those by oil sands plants.

The US is the second largest emitter of CO2 in the world, and the biggest source of those emissions is its hundreds of coal-burning power plants that are spread across the landscape like a bad case of measles. Even in Canada, where electricity production is 60% hydroelectric and 15% nuclear, the remaining 25% of fossil fuel generation is the biggest source of CO2 emissions.

The world's largest emitter of CO2, China, is currently building one or two new coal-burning power plants per week.

Electricity plants much worse than oilsands in emissions: report

A report from an organization tasked with overseeing environmental practices in Canada, the United States and Mexico says electricity-generating plants that run on fossil fuels in North America account for 33 per cent of greenhouse-gas emissions originating on this continent, and six per cent globally.

By comparison, the Canadian government estimates the country's oilsands-mining operations account for just 0.1 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, or 6.5 per cent of Canada's.

The electricity plants at issue are run mostly on coal in Canada and the U.S., and oil and gas in Mexico.

"The production of electricity from burning coal is significantly more important in terms of a source of CO2 than the current output of the tarsands," said Evan Lloyd, executive director of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, an inter-governmental organization established in conjunction with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

so far! The problem with tar sands is that it contains hundreds of billions of tons of carbon. If fully developed, it will change the planet. The smallish amounts that have been produced so far aren't a great problem, it is the future prospects that are worrying.

The world's coal reserves are vastly bigger than Canada's reserves of oil sands, and the coal is in the process of being mined even as we speak. Most major industrial countries have huge reserves of coal. Only Canada and Venezuela have large oil sands reserves.

In Canada, Ontario's coal burning power plants generate more CO2 than Alberta's oil sands plants, and Ontario isn't particularly dependent on coal for electricity generation. It doesn't even have coal of its own and has to import it from the US.

And Ontario is making a good faith effort to get off coal by 2014.

A new 14.4 meter tunnel at Niagara (Sir Adam Beck plant) to get more water with less friction loss. 200 MW more power (from memory).

Rehab some aging nukes

A chunk of wind power from 3rd Parties.

438 MW + 47 MW more at existing dams and two new dams for 100 MW. Planning on a 450 MW new dam.

And converting some coal plants to natural gas.

Best Hopes for Good efforts,


My grade school teachers used to say, one wrong doesn't offset another. We've really got to leave the coal, and the heavyoil in the ground or suffer serious future harm. We just have to just say no.

We just have to just say no.

I think that is a philosophy lifted from the wife of the Great Grinning Reagan: just say "no" to substance addiction.

Works every time (not).

U.S. Refinery Closings ‘Negative’ for Oil Tankers, Arctic Says

Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Closings of Sunoco Inc. and ConocoPhillips oil refineries on the U.S. East Coast would be “negative” for suezmax tankers that haul crude, said Arctic Securities ASA.

Sunoco said Sept. 6 it would sell or shut its last two refineries, located in Philadelphia and Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania. ConocoPhillips has idled its plant in Trainer, near Marcus Hook, as it seeks to sell the refinery. Refining capacity on the U.S. East Coast fell 16 percent over the past two years, Arctic said last month.

“We see this trend as structurally negative for the suezmax tanker market, due to the fact that East Coast refineries are primary consuming light, sweet crude from West Africa ...

You wouldn't shutdown a refinery unless you knew you wouldn't be seeing light, sweet crude anytime soon.

Light, sweet crude is becoming an increasingly rare commodity in the modern world. The international crude supply is increasingly heavy and sour, and these East Coast refineries are not designed to handle it.

Their biggest problem is that they are competing against Mid-West refineries which have been rebuilt in recent years to handle heavy, sour Canadian crude as US production declined. Canadian exports have been steadily increasing as new oil sands production comes on-line, and the market in the Mid-West is now flooded with cheap oil, not just from Canada but North Dakota. As the result, the Mid-West refineries can buy oil for about $25/barrel less than the East Coast refineries. This is a huge difference in input costs and more than enough to put the profit margins of the East Coast refineries into the negative since they have to sell products at the same price.

Meanwhile the US refineries which do have access to cheap Canadian oil are increasing their product exports to Europe and Asia because they have a cost advantage against the refineries there as well.

I just thought I'd add some example numbers from the EIA web site: Landed Costs of Imported Crude for Selected Crude Streams. In September, refineries were paying about $75/barrel for Canadian Bow River and Lloyminster heavy oils - these go to Mid-West refineries. By contrast, Nigerian Qua Iboe light sweet oil was imported for about $120/barrel. That's a $45/barrel difference, and most of that difference goes into refinery profits. The East Coast refineries relied on Nigerian light sweet oil, so they didn't make any profits at all.

Rare Earth Metals Scarcity: A ‘Ticking Timebomb’ for the World, asks PwC?

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) sounded an alarm on the impending supply shortage of rare earth metals, which could seriously hit the automotive, chemicals and renewable energy industries.

PwC went as far as calling the situation a "ticking time bomb". “Put simply, many businesses now recognise that we are living beyond the planet's means,” said global sustainability leader at PwC Malcolm Preston

“The world’s growing population, an increase in GDP levels and changing lifestyles are causing consumption levels to rise globally - creating a higher and higher demand for resources. Governments and companies should all be aware of the scope, importance and urgency of the scarcity of both renewable and non-renewable natural resources: energy, water, land and minerals.

The risk of scarcity across all sectors is expected to rise significantly, leading to supply instability and potential disruptions in the next five years ...

Managing the Global Competition for Resources: A briefing for the annual meeting of WSJ CEO Council

- More than one-third of the 202 global executives we surveyed said oil is the resource at greatest risk of scarcity or supply disruption.

- Emerging economies that have previously exported large quantites of natural resources will very soon consume all the resources they produce - and then some. India, for example, is projected to go from coal production surplus to a widening coal deficit by 2013.

Is Oil Fueling the Rise in Political Partisanship?

Appreciate critique of this article posted at Oil-Price.net.

In the post, Fourier transformation is used to identify the dominant frequency of oil price volatility over the last decade. It turns out oil shows a distinct FFT peak at around 32.3 months i.e., spikes in oil price (volatility) occur every ~2.5 years or so, based on the retrospective analysis. Interestingly, a correlated change has kicked-in over the last 5 years or so in swings Presidential popularity and other political polling data.

You get the picture of what is inferred from the emergence of this unexpected correlation between oil and polling data based on the question posed by the title of the post.

Generational Analysis as presented in The Fourth Turning some years back rather accurately projected the political discourse we are seeing while not attempting to predict what would cause it. To the extent oil prices are jolting the economy they may be on to something. The reason for the uncivil discourse, though, is also related to the passing of the WWII generation. Those politicians had gone through a great crisis together and were determined not to let differences in policy overcome the overall civic good. Those in political power today have no such shared experience. From the crisis we are entering, the generation in their teens and 20s will forge a new alliance like their WWII counterparts.

Given the leadership failings of (my own) baby boom generation, I'm expecting the election of a U.S. president born after the late 70s quite soon. Gen-X looks less than promising as well.

U.S. history would suggest an Iraq/Afghanistan combat veteran might make up for perceptions of being too young. The youngest president ever (likely under 40 and strong chance of being a woman) in 2016 seems as likely as not to me.

Those in political power today have no such shared experience.

Excellent insight.

Additionally we should note that the end of WWII was the dawn of an era of unprecedented "growth" because much of the civilized world had been bombed to smithereens and could be re-built afresh with the aid of booming oil productions.

Today's youth however, are facing the prospect of a shrinking pie scenario (i.e. declining oil production rates, fewer jobs, fewer opportunities for advancement, etc.). The OWSt movement is probably the beginning of that altered view of the future.

As corn and ethanol prices fall, Iowa farmland sale sets new record:

Iowa set a new farmland price Wednesday when a 74-acre tract near Hull in Sioux County went for $20,000 per acre.


The previous record was set in early October when a 120-acre parcel near Sioux Center went for $16,750 per acre. In late September an 80-acre tract near Sully went for $16,200.


War on Iran has already begun. Act before it threatens all of us

Last month the Guardian was told by British defence ministry officials that if the US brought forward plans to attack Iran (as they believed it might), it would "seek, and receive, UK military help", including sea and air support and permission to use the ethnically cleansed British island colony of Diego Garcia. ...

related US considered missions to destroy RQ-170 Sentinel drone lost in Iran

And all this effort on this front is being done because?

is being done because?

It feels good to show you have the biggest stick on the block.

In any case, reports Aviation Week, “the single-channel, full-motion video capability that made the stealthy flying wing so invaluable when it debuted in Afghanistan about two years ago is considered outdated, potentially limiting the intelligence fallout.”

From cutting edge to outdated in 2 years? Things move fast around here.

jedi - Maybe more than 2 years. I've read numerous stories re: how long it takes systems to get approved by the DOD and then produced and deployed. It's possible that the technology they speak of is 5 to 10 years old. Given how some technologies advance 10 years would be ancient history.

An item linked on Calculated Risk:

We cannot afford another half-baked solution

Time and time again over the past 18 months, European leaders have pledged to do “whatever it takes” to preserve the single currency. Just as often their subsequent actions, or lack of them, have belied these fine words. The failure to fill in the gap between rhetoric and reality has taken the eurozone, and the world, to a perilous place. Fear about the ability of states to service their debts has become self-reinforcing. Absent a radical shift in market psychology, the very core of the eurozone is at risk. The break-up of the single currency, once dismissed as unthinkable, is now openly spoken of as a possibility. . .

It borders on hysterical to say there are but hours to save the euro, but there is a risk that if the crisis is not now tamed the price of a rescue might start to spiral out of politicians’ grasp. The stakes are therefore very high at Friday’s summit. The world cannot afford another half-baked solution. The overwhelming challenge is to stabilise markets – preventing a refinancing crisis for a large European sovereign, and putting the solvency of systemic financial institutions beyond doubt.

I'm a big fan of Ilargi's take on this over at The Automatic Earth. If I understand him correctly he's essentially been saying that month after month and year after year now the banksters have been threatening "armageddon" if they aren't continuously offered up bail outs of every different flavor. The problem is they are really only worried about armageddon for the bankster class - but they couldn't be any more out of touch - armageddon is already occuring for an ever increasing portion of, as you put it Westexas, the "formerly well off"...

As Ilargi points out - at some point it is going to dawn on a lot of people that the money shoveled at the banks has made NO material difference in the lives of the little people who are fed a steady diet of austerity to pay for the broken promises from the banks and governments. The trillions dumped upon the banks - what kind of amazing accomplishments could that money have resulted in if it were to be used DIRECTLY on infrastructure projects and other programs directly for the benefit of the general population. It is absolute madness and it just continues day after day after day...

The trillions dumped upon the banks - what kind of amazing accomplishments could that money have resulted in if it were to be used DIRECTLY on infrastructure projects and other programs directly for the benefit of the general population.

The author of the following article in Vanity Fair makes the same point; following is a link to an online preview. I'm not sure I buy all of the arguments he made (he only very tangentially touched on energy, and he did say that current BAU is not sustainable), but he had an amazing statistic: In the years leading up to the recession, the bottom 80% of the US population were spending about 110% of their income.

The Book of Jobs
By Joseph E. Stiglitz

It has now been almost five years since the bursting of the housing bubble, and four years since the onset of the recession. There are 6.6 million fewer jobs in the United States than there were four years ago. Some 23 million Americans who would like to work full-time cannot get a job. Almost half of those who are unemployed have been unemployed long-term. Wages are falling—the real income of a typical American household is now below the level it was in 1997.

We knew the crisis was serious back in 2008. And we thought we knew who the “bad guys” were—the nation’s big banks, which through cynical lending and reckless gambling had brought the U.S. to the brink of ruin. The Bush and Obama administrations justified a bailout on the grounds that only if the banks were handed money without limit—and without conditions—could the economy recover. We did this not because we loved the banks but because (we were told) we couldn’t do without the lending that they made possible. Many, especially in the financial sector, argued that strong, resolute, and generous action to save not just the banks but the bankers, their shareholders, and their creditors would return the economy to where it had been before the crisis. In the meantime, a short-term stimulus, moderate in size, would suffice to tide the economy over until the banks could be restored to health.

The banks got their bailout. Some of the money went to bonuses. Little of it went to lending. And the economy didn’t really recover—output is barely greater than it was before the crisis, and the job situation is bleak. The diagnosis of our condition and the prescription that followed from it were incorrect. First, it was wrong to think that the bankers would mend their ways—that they would start to lend, if only they were treated nicely enough. We were told, in effect: “Don’t put conditions on the banks to require them to restructure the mortgages or to behave more honestly in their foreclosures. Don’t force them to use the money to lend. Such conditions will upset our delicate markets.” In the end, bank managers looked out for themselves and did what they are accustomed to doing.

I really don't see what the big deal is. The Euro is meant to be a common currency, that's all.
So if greece defaults on its debts, big deal - whoever bought Greek bonds would have known that there was a higher risk of default than if they bought German bonds.

The problem is that the bonds of certain Euro member countries will become worthless, not the Euro itself. But the Euro banksters are worried that it will devalue the Euro, and make all their holdings worth less on the world stage.

Devaluing the Euro is actually helpful for export oriented countries like Germany, but the banksters have no interest in the countries.

A better explanation of this is here;
What is the purpose of the Euro?

Paul, read this:


'Look Back, Look Forward, Look Down. Way Down.'

Well, if anybody out there understands fourth grade arithmetic you know from metaphysical certitude that Europe is done. Europe is mathematically impossible. It cannot be saved.

You want to make a start. You even want to make a start at trying to bail out Europe we are talking $25 trillion just to start.

And it would then - if you were going to bail out the entirety of Europe - you would now be talking about hundreds of trillions of dollars.

It's not a matter of if the global financial system is going to collapse. Oh, it's going to collapse.

I will be very surprised if we make it until Christmas.

2012 should be a doozy!

But...they've been issuing warnings like that for three or four years now.

I think they are likely right about what will happen, but the timing is another story. Christmas is less than three weeks away. I would not be at all surprised if we make it until then.

True, Xmas may be too soon. However, the line of thought in the article certainly had me thinking at some point the jig will be up. But there are some amazing fiscal feats they have performed so far, so let's see what's in store.

As a side bar to this, has anyone else noticed how the Dow, although volatile up and down, seems to keep ending up around 12,000? WTI keeps ending up just a little less than 100. Brent just a little less than 110. Gold and silver have held steady lately as well. It's like we are in a holding pattern until investors see a clearer path forward (or backward).

I have to imagine that there are many who gauge the 'State of the World' on the level of the DJI, assuming it makes a worthy Canary to keep ringing the 'All's Well' Bell.

Does anyone know how the ownership of stocks is further laid out, to help qualify the Index with a little more relevant detail? (IE, how much of it is in the hands of the 1% now as opposed to 5 or 10 years ago.. the balance might still make the magic 12,000, but in fact doesn't have the foundation it once did.)

We've been warning of a credit crunch and deflationary depression since the end of 2005, just as the housing bubble was beginning to burst. In other words, our timing was perfect. In August 2007 we warned of what was just around the corner, as the markets topped 2 months later. Again, our warning was extremely timely. At the very beginning of March 2009 we pointed out that a major rally was due and it would last for quite a while. In began within the week. It lasted a few months longer than we had thought it would. Big deal. Who else was making predictions like that, at any of those critical junctures?

We said the rally was ending this spring. It topped on May 2nd, and we are now 7 months into the next phase of the decline. We warned what was coming. We said this would be worse than 2008. We said commodity prices would fall. Just watch and see. This is another timely warning. The financial system is on the verge of seizing up entirely, like in 2008, but worse. Watch for Libor and TED spreads to shoot up. Watch the VIX go crazy. Look for sovereign debt defaults in Europe and the implosion of the eurozone. The contagion will be quite something to see.

The issue is the extinguishing of excess claims to underlying real wealth, which is deflation by definition. I explained that recently in great detail. everyone needs to understand this concept.

We make dire warnings because the whole financial system is going to go over Niagara Falls in a canoe. If you were in such a canoe on the Niagara River, you knew the falls was up ahead, and you heard white water, what would you do? The smart thing would be to be cautious, but our system hasn't done that at all. It has doubled down on its bets since 2008. We're now in a much worse mess. With a few exceptions, we didn't even bother to put on the lifejacket. The seriousness of the situation cannot be overstated. It will have tremendous impact on all of us.

It crescendos into euphoria, leading societies into a period of collective madness where risk is embraced and caution is thrown to the wind ... [and then the lemmings begin to plunge over the precipice]

Thanks for the warning and link. (I think.)

I agree with much of what you say except for the fact that this time people will seek safety in gold and not so much in US $ and treasury bonds. Everyone knows that the US $ is the next (after Euro) domino to fall. No one with any sense thinks that bonds of a government which borrows 50c for every $1 it spends are safe. It is also dangerous to keep a lot of money in the banks since they are insolvent and could shut down for a few days.

My prediction is that gold will exceed $2000/oz by spring of 2012. Gold stocks are at or very close to a bottom and will rise significantly within the next 1 year. I will be a buyer of GDX tomorrow. We will see what happens.

GDX?! Physical gold seems to make more sense, in quantities that aren't tracked and can't be seized. Better yet, shovels, hoes, seeds, and bags of 10-10-10. A few thousand rounds of .556 may prove to be useful as well :-/

Gold is already falling, and the dollar is already rising. Both are set to continue in their new trends for months if not years. The bearish sentiment round the dollar is a powerful contrarian indicator, as is the bullishness surrounding gold. Always take the other side of the bet against received wisdom, especially when it is almost universally held. When everyone thinks something can only go up, do you really think it will be cheap? And when everyone thinks something can only go down from here, will it really be overpriced? Think about it. That what the insiders do. They feed off the herd, which is always wrong near major trend changes. Markets are a very effective mechanism for separating the masses from the money, in favour of the well-connected of course.

Keeping money in the banking system is a no-no, as we have made clear many times. FDIC insurance won't be worth the paper it's written on in a systemic banking crisis. Your bank balance is just more excess claims to underlying real wealth.

By the way, if you don't own physical gold, you don't own gold at all. Paper gold is a massive ponzi scheme.

The quote is from Ann Barnhardt during an interview with Jim Puplava. She's not known for having moderate views. Also from the interview:

You have to stop thinking that these people are just misguided or that there is some sort of a difference of opinion on economic theory. These people are nefariously trying to destroy everything in this country. It's called the Cloward-Piven strategy. Go in and destroy and collapse the entire economy, everything and then rebuild a new Marxist, Socialist, fascist state out of the burning rubble of this destruction. This is intentional. This is nefarious. This is not a function of incompetence. It's a function of malice of forethought and conscientious theft and destruction.

...referring, it seems, to the Obama "regime", Corzine, and their Wall Street cronies. It would be interesting to see an alliance between Barnhardt's like and the #OWS. They seem to have something in common here.

We generally shy away from promoting conspiracy theorists on TOD, but I'm sure some folks here may be thinking along these lines. I'm not sure that discussion would be useful at this point...

I would think Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine" and John Perkins' "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" would be relevant to that discussion.

It isn't exactly a secret conspiracy we are looking at, much of what is happening even makes it onto the corporate news.

Yet still I see people making the mistake that it is "Democrats" or "Republicans" that are the problem and that somehow choosing the other party will make a difference.

I find that those who decry Marxist and Socialist don't actually know what they are talking about. Even karl marx before he died did not understand the obsession with calling a state "Marxist" when it is not such a state. as for fascist or any other kind of totalitarian state* most if not all democracies and Representative republics end up like that in the end with nothing but time. So i don't think a conspiracy to kill from within to form such a system is needed. that doesn't mean they are not trying to do a wider spread version of disaster capitalism though.

*friendly fascism i.e. the united states, totalitarian fascism aka ww2 Germany & Italy, one party state dictatorship either with a cult of personality like the ussr and north korea or without like china, or a theocratic state.

Austerity And Bloodbaths: Historical Graph Shows Perfect Correlation Between Austerity Programs And Mass Violence

Here is a graph I found (H/T: “Financial Armageddon”) based on a study by Control Risks that illustrates as simply and clearly as can be, so that even My Pet Goat readers can grasp it, the linear correlation between harsh austerity measures and mass violence:

I suppose a basic lesson in physics carries over to currency devaluation but if so it is seldom mentioned.

"For every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction."

So let us suppose the Koreans or whoever devalue their currency.

Certainly they can then sell more exports in the short term , and this might be a useful short term strategy.

But the REACTION is seldom if ever mentioned.

What is gained in the long run?

In a race to the bottom, the Koreans might maintain a more dominant position as an exporting country, and be able to shore up the currency later when the competition is less intense.

But so far as I can see, when we Yanks devalue the dollar, the consequence is that my own living standard declines as I have some savings and buy some imports, rather than exporting my own product.

I could live without the imports but sseing my savings melt away as prices go up has convinced me that holding cash in any form, beyond the amount deemed necessary for possible emergencies, is a mistake.

My strategy is to buy and store as many durable things which I am certain to need later as I can easily store;and storing lots of stuff on a farm is easily accomplished.Some of what I have stored can easily be bartered or converted to cash later, and hopefully I will have preserved the purchasing power of my money.

No one has so far presented an argument which convinces me that devaluing a currency produces any net long term gain for the country that does it

I agree. In addition, I think everyone should buy at least a small amount of gold bullion. Event the people who never bought any gold before or never thought of gold as an investment should buy at least 1 oz. The bankers have turned the global economy into a casino. The government is no longer enforcing the law. M F Global stole $1.2 billion from clients and their CEO walks free. The governments (latest: Portugal) are raiding pension funds with impunity. Keeping all your wealth in cash at a time like this is a fatal mistake.

I am puzzled that Europeans are not pulling out their cash from the banks and storing it in the mattress or buying gold. If I was in Europe today, I would immediately withdraw enough cash from the banks to last for 1 year, convert one third of that into Swiss Francs and one third into gold (one third can be left in Euro).

Think of gold as a currency which cannot be devalued by central banks.

suyog, the Europeans are very much pulling savings out of euros and buying gold. This is one of the significant trends supporting the rise in the price of gold. Also the Asians are doing the same thing. The Europeans are also buying Swiss francs and U.S dollars. This is a factor in the increase in the M2 money supply; european savings leaving europe and being redeposited here in the U.S.

The Greeks have been staging a slo-mo run on the Greek banking system; large amounts of Greek savings have been leaving Greece.

These are trends that are bound to continue and to accelerate. The very last people who will get onboard will be Joe Six Pack and the middle class savers of the U.S.; by then it'll be too late in the day to do these people any good.

The WSJ has some interesting articles on the topic this morning. Central Banks are making contingency plans for various countries withdrawing from the Euro, or a complete collapse. Apparently, Poland is doing quite well, which they primarily attribute to not being part of the Euro currency:

Euro's Allure Dims in Eastern Europe

OSTROW MAZOWIECKA, Poland—Assembly lines in a sprawling furniture factory here run round the clock, seven days a week, churning out desks and bookcases for customers across Europe. Despite the downturn gripping much of the Continent, workers struggle to keep up with demand. "Frankly speaking, we haven't even felt the crisis," said Maciej Formanowicz, president of Fabryki Mebli Forte SA, as forklifts loaded a shipment of television cabinets bound for Germany. A critical reason for Forte's strength: Poland doesn't use the euro.

When turmoil enveloped the globe three years ago, Poland's zloty declined against currencies seen as safer, including the euro. That made Polish exports less expensive for buyers abroad and helped keep the economy growing. Since then, Poland has been the sole member of the European Union to avoid a recession . . .

A floating currency is by no means all Poland has going for it. Its households didn't borrow as much during the credit boom as many of their peers in other parts of Europe. A constitutional limit on public borrowing has held down government debt. Tax cuts and infrastructure spending helped bolster domestic demand. But "it's obviously better to be outside" the euro zone now, said Poland's central-bank governor, Marek Belka, because "we can avail ourselves of a sovereign monetary policy, including the ability of the currency to depreciate," and don't have to share in the cost of bailouts. "We have the benefits of being in the European Union, but not the euro zone," he said.


This is often not understood. When US dollars are "devalued" relative to other currencies, it only means your cash can buy fewer foreign goods. Is that bad? Certainly not for people who work in an industry that exports its products. I don't export anything, you might say. Does anybody who buys your product or service work in an industry whose product is exported? Certainly the low value of Chinese currency has helped provide jobs for many Chinese workers. The basic strategy is called export led development and it has worked pretty well for many undeveloped countries (though it is by no means a perfect strategy.)

If currency is devalued, it is not the same as inflation although it would tend to lead there to some degree. It is dependent on how much a country is dependent on imported goods. It is inflation which reduces the value of savings, not devaluation. The two are associated, but they are not equal.

A final thought, it seems that to be logically consistent, if one thinks devaluation is bad for the US, then that same person would need to argue that China keeping its currency undervalued must be a good thing for US citizens. I would disagree.


The problem is that the currency is common but each country has its own budget.

Soviets familiar with Canada's Arctic waters

"The old Soviet Union may have been just as familiar with Canada's Arctic waters as Canadians. Sections of Cold-War-era nautical charts obtained by The Canadian Press suggest that Russian mariners have for decades possessed detailed and accurate knowledge of crucial internal waterways such as the Northwest Passage."

Apparently the country formerly known as the Soviet Union was quite familiar with certain Canadian territorial waters, even to the extent that their published nautical charts may be as good (possibly better) than Canadian charts of the same waters. See: Soviets familiar with Canada's Arctic waters.

Time tested strategy: 'know thy enemy'. And, 'keep your friends close and your enemies closer'.

Halifax is a strategic NATO port. During the Cold War, individual Soviet fishing boats would pull into harbour for repairs or supplies. We use to joke, "some do actually fish."

The Soviets knew more about what we were doing than we did and they knew the city better than most native born citizens.

Thisis correct. KGB and GRU (the soviet civilian and military intelligense services) was the 1:st and 2:nd biggest in the world. They had so much resources it put a heavy burden on the soviet economy to pay for it. This is among the sort of information they gathered. If you get a soviet made map, treasure it, those are quality.

Well, at least the Russian boats weren't overfishing - the local boats did a much better job of that!

Crude oil ‘far from depleted'

According to calculations, the world's proven oil reserves based on BP figures were 1,383 billion barrels in late 2010, and the world burned 31.9 billion last year, meaning the taps should run dry by 2053.

Of course those are not "BP figures", those are mostly OPEC figures. OPEC told BP what their "proven" reserves were and BP just wrote them down. Also any fool knows the taps don't run full force until they run out. They start to decline, or taper off once the peak is reached.

But all this makes for good press when you desire to debunk peak oil.

However the article does have some redeeming qualities. It admits that peak oil will happen but says it is quite a ways away. Also the article stresses that “It's the end of cheap oil,”...

Ron P.

From the same article:

“You have to remember that huge parts of the world haven't been explored yet. Even in countries like Iran or Saudi Arabia,” said Noe Van Hulst, the secretary general of the International Energy Forum.

Is this really true? Antarctica and the deep ocean crust haven't been expored yet. Most other parts of the world, including the Arctic, have been explored (I think). To say that parts of Iran and Saudi Arabia haven't been explored pushes the realm of credibility.

Doos anybody here or TOD have data showing which parts of the world have and haven't been explored?

Frugal - Best to frame the question as how much exploration has been conducted instead of whether it's been conducted or not. Nearly every sedimentary basin in the world has been drilled. Some heavily (Gulf of Mexico) and some very lightly (southern Atlantic). All the ME basins have been heavily drilled. But not necessarily to all depths...over time drilling gets deeper. Of course, deeper targets start tending to be more NG prone than oil. So how much drilling is enough? Many years ago I read that the first major North Sea oil field was discovered by the 93rd well drilled in the basin. OTOH the seismic data is so much better today it would change the exploration game to a significant degree.

But as far as the deep ocean crust you can right off the vast majority of those areas right now: they have no sedimentary rocks to form either traps or source rock. In those extremely rare cases where oil has been produced from igneous rocks it was because those rock were immediately adjacent to sedimentary rocks that were the source of the oil. If you look at all the big "deep water" plays being developed today they rim they continents and for good reason: the continents are the source of the sediments.

I read somewhere that the South China Sea was the one place that had not been explored. Of course the Arctic, under the ice, has not been explored but the areas around the shore have most likely been explored. I know Alaska off shore has been explored and there has been some oil discovered in offshore ANWR that has not been drilled.

To say that Saudi Arabia has not been thoroughly explored is just silly. They have even been exploring the sub-salt Red Sea lately.
Aramco boosts drilling in seismically tough Red Sea

Aramco is seeking reserves in anticipation of global economic growth and increasing demand for oil. The Red Sea is two kilometres deep in places with a 7,000-foot thick salt sequence which can distort seismic images, according to the magazine.

They wouldn't be taking such desperate and expensive measures if there was anywhere else in Saudi that had not been explored.

Ron P.

Ron - According to Wikipedia: The region has proven oil reserves of around 7.7 billion barrels, with an estimate of 28 billion barrels in total. Natural gas reserves are estimated to total around 266 trillion cubic feet.

Also: "The sea lies above a drowned continental shelf; during recent ice ages global sea level was hundreds of metres lower, and Borneo was part of the Asian mainland." That would make it prime hunting ground for oil/NG.


China has been making some serious threats lately with regards any other nation conducting exploration out there.

To say that Saudi Arabia has not been thoroughly explored is just silly. They have even been exploring the sub-salt Red Sea lately

Why wouldn't Saudi Aramco assess their resources and potential resources ?

See AAPG Memoir 74: Petroleum Provinces of the Twenty-first Century at Google Books for paleozoic potential of the Arabian Plate. The Red Sea is discussed only as it relates to Egypt.


As Rockman pointed out, "Best to frame the question as how much exploration has been conducted instead of whether it's been conducted or not." How much exploration has been done varies considerably within some basins. This is particularly true in the North American arctic.

In the Canadadian Beaufort Sea, waters out to about 60 meters or so have seen significant exploration. A good deal of gas and a couple of oil fields in the 250 million barrel or so range have been discovered but are not presently economic due to a lack of infrastructure. The nearest oil pipeline of any sort is a smallish one far to the South at Norman Wells. Canadian Beaufort waters deeper than that have had very little little exploration. There is certainly potential there for a billion plus barrel discovery which would make a pipeline feasible. Exxon, BP, and Chevron have placed big bets there, and exploration is proceeding, but they are not yet ready to drill. Unless and until someone finds a big anchor field, production from the Canadian Beaufort will not be feasible.

Regarding the Alaskan Beaufort Sea, TAPS extends to Prudhoe Bay. There are a couple of fields producing from artificial islands in shallow waters (North Star and Endicott). There are several known oil accumulations in the 200-300 million barrel range. Shell spent big bucks to aquire one of these (Sivulliq, formerly known as Hammerhead) in a lease sale in 2005, and has been trying to drill ever since. So far they have been blocked by regulatory challenges. This structure has the potential to have more reserves, and a pipeline may soon extend to Point Thomson, onshore only 20 miles to the South of Sivulliq. This may make Sivulliq economic to develop. Similarly to Canada, deeper waters in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea have not been explored.

The Alaskan Chukchi Sea has had only five wells drilled, in an area the size of California. Hence, there is certainly significant remaining potential there for a big oilfield. Shell, ConocoPhillips, and others have leases there. Similarly to the Beaufort, Shell has been blocked from drilling by regulatory challenges.

Canadian companies have drilled hundreds of wells in the Canadian Arctic. I worked for one company that ran a drilling fleet of 26 ships in the Beaufort Sea for decades and lost billions of dollars in the process. They found lots of natural gas for which there is no available market and a few oil fields which are too small to be economic.

In general, the Beaufort Sea area is highly gas-prone, unlike the Gulf of Mexico which is oil-prone. The real problem is that there has been too much tectonic activity in the Arctic Ocean area over the eons. Most of the oil which may have existed has been exposed to too much heat at one time or other and converted to natural gas by thermal cracking. In addition, most of the reservoirs have been fractured by the tectonic activity and most of the oil which might have survived the thermal cracking has leaked out.

I don't think many of the companies which did the exploring are around any more. They were mostly acquired by other companies which didn't waste their money exploring up there. The Canadian taxpayer paid for most of the drilling through tax subsidies, but the Canadian government has since given up on it and no longer subsidizes oil exploration.

In order to be economic in the Arctic Ocean area, a field would have to be huge - similar in size to Prudhoe Bay, the biggest oil field ever found in the US, and there seems to be only one Prudhoe Bay in North America. None of Canada's conventional oil fields are nearly as big as Prudhoe Bay, or even as big as the ones in Texas and California.

The US had it good for a while, based on the availability of cheap oil, but those days appear to be gone forever. I don't think drilling in the Arctic will change anything.

If anyone is actually interested in current geologic thinking regarding the oil potential, or lack therof, of the Canadian Beaufort, I would suggest a couple of links:

The Future Oil Discovery Potential of the Mackenzie/Beaufort Province by the Geological Survey of Canada.

Preliminary Evaluation of a Potential Major Petroleum Province from BeaufortSPAN™ Seismic Data: Canadian Arctic Passive Margin, Banks Island Segment An article from the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists.

Highlights of Petroleum and Crustal Framework of the Beaufort-Mackenzie Basin: Key Results from BeaufortSPAN East Phases I and II Surveys Another article from the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists.

Beaufort find is oil, not gas A few years ago, Devon Canada went looking for gas, and found 240 million barrels of oil instead. Still not presently economic, but it does demonstrate that this is an oily basin.

Rocky Mountain Guy's efforts 30 years ago were commendable, but his ideas do not reflect current thinking by the exploration community.

It is true that there wasn't much drilling in the Canadian Beaufort toward the end of my career. Canadian exploration efforts in the Beaufort Sea and Arctic Islands wound down in the late 1980's with the end of Canadian government subsidies for drilling there. The government had spent billions of dollars in tax subsidies over 20 years, and all it had to show for it was one good oil well, Bent Horn N72, which produced about 2.8 million barrels of oil between 1985 and 1996. It was plugged and abandoned in 1997.

The whole exploration effort was an example of irrational exuberance, with government officials being the most irrational and exuberant people involved. A lot of people lost a lot of money in the process. Companies involved actually ran out of prospects to drill before they ran out of people willing to put money into them.

It was not that companies didn't find any oil, I think in total they found about 1.7 billion barrels of oil in about 50 different fields, but unfortunately they needed to find about several billion barrels in 1 field to make it worthwhile. A 240 million barrel oil field such as Devon found in 2006 is uneconomic under Beaufort Sea conditions. Even the largest oil field ever found in Canada, the Pembina field with 1.5 billion barrels of recoverable oil, would be uneconomic if it was found up there. If you are hoping to find a commercial oil field in the Beaufort Sea, you are betting on finding a better oil field than has ever been found in Canada.

By contrast, the oil sands research I was involved in was much more productive. Governments and companies spent about $1 billion in research, and as a result Canada was able to book 170 billion barrels of additional oil reserves. At the moment, about half of Canada's oil production is from the oil sands, and the amount is rising steadily.

The US is not in such a good position and is reduced to betting on a dark horse rather than a sure thing.

Apparently Exxon and BP in the Canadian Beaufort, and Shell and ConocoPhillips in the Alaskan Beaufort don't share your views. Not everyone is suited by temperment for exploration. It requires a fundamentaly optimistic mind set. It also requires an open mind about the implications of new data and methods, and the willingness to to re-evaluate old data with new ideas. Tenacity is also necessary.

As always, any guesses prior to drilling are just that....guesses. Doesn't matter whether they are guesses by the GSOC, the USGS, Exxon, Devon, BP, RockyMtnGuy, or Alaska_geo. One can guess wrong for all the right reasons, or guess right for all the wrong reasons.

A bit of ancient history is worth considering. By 1967 BP had drilled several dry holes in the Brooks Range foothills, since they thought (erroneously) that the Brooks Range was similar to Iran. They also drilled a dry hole on the "Colville High", which appeared to be the biggest and most attractive structure along the coast. London decided enough was enough, and planned to drop all their N Slope leases and close their Anchorage office.

Meanwhile, a pip-squeak California company called Richfield had drilled one dry hole just north of the foothills. Running short of money, they sold partial interest to Exxon and tried one last roll of the dice on a structure on the coast. BP's Anchorage geologists convinced London to at least retain their leases and keep the lights on until the Richfield well was drilled, since BP had flanking acreage. Before spud, Richfield merged with Atlantic, so the well became the ARCO Prudhoe Bay State #1.

There is one final bit of irony to the story. Sinclair had been partners with BP on some of their earlier wells. Sinclair also tried one last roll of the dice in an area west of Prudhoe Bay. Their main target (the same sand as the main Prudhoe pay) was dry. However, on the way down they tested about 1000 barrels/day of oil from a shallower sand, but decided it wasn't nearly enough to be economic, and Sinclair decided to suspend the well. Only in retrospect, after Sincliar merged with ARCO, was it recognized that the Sinclair Ugnu #1 was the first oil test (and hence the discovery well) for the Kuparuk Oil Field.

Tennessee family home burns while firefighters watch

It's apparently the county policy to charge a $75 fee to rural dwellers. If you don't pay, they won't put out the fire.

South Fulton Mayor David Crocker defended the fire department, saying that if firefighters responded to non-subscribers, no one would have an incentive to pay the fee. Residents in the city of South Fulton receive the service automatically, but it is not extended to those living in the greater county-wide area.

"There's no way to go to every fire and keep up the manpower, the equipment, and just the funding for the fire department," Crocker said.

Firefighters will help if lives are endangered, even if you haven't paid the fee.

Of course there is that silly concept called "taxes" which generally covers communal services like fire departments.

I can grasp why someone living far from their nearest neighbor would probably prefer a pay-as-you-go option for fire, since if one's neighbor's dwelling bursts into flames one is unlikely to be affected. I can't see this translating in an urban environment, though, where, at best, one is only a few feet from one's neighbor, and, at worst, right on top of them.

Unfortunately, I think most people have forgotten how, in the nineteenth century, even urban dwellers had to pay a fee to belong to a fire service. If you didn't have one, your place (and those of your neighbors) could burn to the ground.

No new taxes!!!

but, fees, that's a tiger of a different stripe.

I laugh when I think of the town trying to figure out how to deal with a mistake on this one. "Why did you let my house burn down?, I have my fee receipt right here." "Well, I guess we will have to raise your taxes to pay off the law suit."

Ancient Rome used to have private fire departments that would show up if someone's building was on fire, and offer to buy it from them for a very low price. If the owner didn't accept, they would wait as the building burned, and make lower and lower offers as the flames got higher and higher. If the owner accepted their offer and sold the building to them, THEN they would put the fire out.

Most owners would accept their offer because the alternative was to watch the building burn to the ground and end up with nothing.

Generally speaking, tax funded fire departments are a better idea for everyone except the people who can afford to own their own fire department.

Should be the rule to put out the fire then require the bill to be paid or covered by the fee.


How are you going to bill people who can't even afford to pay $75 a year? Can't get blood from a stone.

True, they may even have to sell what is left of that home but they stand more of a chance to keep some of it.


This was a mobile home. Wouldn't be worth anything in resale value after even a minor fire.

Maybe in this case. Maybe it is because I'm from the UK where these services are provided regardless and, where I live in Mexico, we have the local fire brigade that just gets on with the job. I find the American attitude very strange. Maybe they cannot recover the money every time but the requirement for being billed would reduce the risk of people not paying the fee.


This is the only blog that I contribute to, because it is hard to find a group of minds worth the time. I thought this was interesting. Watch what you say about people. I guess that if you don't use full names, you might be safer, but...

Federal judge: Montana blogger is not journalist

Associated Press: A federal judge in Oregon has ruled that a Montana woman sued for defamation was not a journalist when she posted online that an Oregon lawyer acted criminally during a bankruptcy case, a decision with implications for bloggers around the country.

I believe that one can express opinions without crossing the libel/defamation line, e.g., "IMO, Joe Smith is dishonest." The problem arises when one makes factual declarations, e.g., "Joe Smith is dishonest."

Wow! great tip.
Can we create a blanket "In Our Humble Opinion" clause at the top of the website? That way, we are always covered?

From the reader guidelines, up top...

2. Make it clear when you are expressing an opinion. Do not assert opinions as facts.

...though I'm sure many of us are guilty of slipping a bit on this one ;-)

Imo, that attorney isn't very smart, either - he sued someone who, imo, doesn't have a pot to pi$$ in.

It makes a huge difference if the subject is a public figure or not. Libel Laws and the First Amendment

Thus, according to past precedent, public figures are expected to prove actual malice to win a libel case...

Why are public figures forced to prove actual malice when private persons do not? This is not an easy question to answer. However, I think that the public officials are more interesting to hear about when there is a little glamorizing added to the article. The American people are more drawn to any type of scandal, especially ones involving sex. In the media, sex sells. When you connect a public figure or official with a sex scandal, there is surely going to be a great deal of public interest.

So you can say anything you wish about any public figure as long as you believe it to be the truth. (Absence of malice.) But if you libel a private figure then you must be able to prove that you are telling the truth. That is the burden of proof is upon the person making the accusation. But if the subject being accused is a public figure, then the burden of proof is upon the public figure to prove that the person making the accusation is knowingly lying.

But you can say anything about anyone as long as you can prove that it is the truth.

Ron P.

The difference in treatment is the first line of whistleblower protection, so that people can speak out about suspected (or observed) malfeasance by powerful figures without having to fear the courts being used as a weapon against them.

I can't recall whether this graph has been posted here before.

It points to an icefree Arctic by 2015, based on accelerating loss of total ice mass over the last couple decades. Rather stunning how rapidly we were able to so fundamentally alter a basic feature of the planet, one that has mostly been there for the last few million years:


US plans its first megadam in 40 years

Later this month, Alaskan authorities will file plans in Washington DC for a 213-metre megadam on one of the country's last remaining wild rivers: the Susitna. If approved, it would be the country's first hydroelectric megadam for 40 years, and its fifth tallest, just 8 metres shy of the Hoover dam.

Opponents say the project is a $4.5 billion boondoggle that will affect wildlife including caribou, grizzly bears and salmon. Instead they say the state should tap its abundant tidal, geothermal and wind power.

How sustainable is nuclear power for the UK?

The research into the sustainability of nuclear and other electricity options in the UK shows that nuclear power could make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. However, that would require a huge expansion of nuclear, constituting 35% of the electricity mix by 2035, almost double the current contribution.

... Expansion of nuclear power will depend on many factors, including availability of uranium, fuel used in today's nuclear reactors. Uranium shortages could within a few decades constrain any significant global expansion of uranium nuclear plants, unless major new uranium reserves can be identified and exploited economically.

... nuclear power poses complex ethical questions regarding its intergenerational impacts as future generations, who will not benefit from today’s nuclear electricity, will have to bear both the risks and costs of nuclear decommissioning and waste management.

Report: http://www.springsustainability.org/downloads/SPRIngReport.pdf

NREL releases report on testing electric vehicles to optimize their performance with power grids

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have released a technical report that could help improve the performance of electric vehicles (EVs) and the efficiency of the electric utility grids that power them.(V2G)

Report: http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy11osti/51001.pdf

Transportation fuels expert says policy makers need to think about practical ways to reach new energy goals

A transportation fuels expert from Sandia National Laboratories says policy makers should consider such practical issues as the number of gas stations selling ethanol and how long it takes to get new transportation technologies to market as they introduce aggressive federal and state energy policies.

“Policymakers need to have ways to think about the evolution from the current state of transportation energy to the desired future state,” Dawn Manley said. “It is one thing to set aggressive targets on emission reductions, but you need to examine options for reaching desired future states in order to get there,” she told California’s Senate Transportation and Housing Committee on Oct. 24.

When making decisions about transportation energy investments and technology development, the Chinese have described their strategy in terms of points, lines and areas,” she explained. “’Points’ refers to dense urban areas, and they consider the kinds of vehicles that will make the most sense there. ‘Lines’ are what connect those urban areas, so the Chinese think about the transportation strategies that are most effective in doing that. Finally, ‘areas’ are the broader, rural and agricultural regions of the country, so again, they look at the unique transportation needs in these areas and build their strategies around them.”

No one technology or policy will fit every transportation need, Manley said.

CAFE standards create profit incentive for larger vehicles

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The current Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards create a financial incentive for auto companies to make bigger vehicles that are allowed to meet lower targets, according to a new University of Michigan study.

Over their lifetimes, these larger vehicles would generate between three and ten 1,000-megawatt coal-fired power plants' worth of excess carbon emissions. A 1,000-megawatt plant could provide power for more than half a million people.

The loophole is the formula for setting mile-per-gallon targets. The standards, which actually depend on the sizes of vehicles automakers produce, are expected to require that firms boost average fuel economy to 35.5 mpg by 2016 and 54.5 mpg by 2025. Those oft-cited numbers are averages. In reality, each car company must meet a different standard each year determined by the literal "footprints" of the vehicles it makes. A vehicle's footprint is its track width times its wheelbase

As I recall, one of the effects of CAFE standards is also to count "flex-fuel" vehicles according to their maximum compatible ethanol blend and to ignore gallons of ethanol consumed. As a result, auto companies could sell "flex-fuel" capable vehicles that were in reality gas guzzlers that would seldom, if ever, consume E-85 (and ignoring the environmental effects if it did), which would count toward a higher fleet mileage average.

The new standards, as I understand them, also change the definition of mpg so a vehicle is not penalized for running "auxiliary systems" like cabin HVAC or engine electronics, with the effect of diluting the mpg rating (so a manufacturer need not achieve in practice a fleet average of 54.5 mpg; somewhere in the 40's is probably good enough).

Megaquake warning for the high Himalayas

Take a hotspot of potential conflict and add a magnitude 9 earthquake. It sounds like a nightmare scenario, but it could play out in the troubled Kashmir region of the Indian subcontinent, according to Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Worse still, Bilham fears that such a major quake is likely to trigger landslides that could dam the Jhelum River, which drains from the Indian-controlled Kashmir Valley into Pakistan. That could put the Kashmir Valley under water within three months - and would also threaten disastrous flooding in Pakistan if the waters were released too quickly.

Methodology. The Austrians begin by insisting that economics is an a priori field of inquiry, and non-quantitative in terms of forward policy prescription. That is to say, the main truths of economic analysis can be deduced through rational thought, rather than needing to be induced from empirical observation. This is so because economics deals with human action, at its essence: humans act purposively, and because we ourselves are human, we can apprehend reality and interpret actions of others via rational thought. (An example of this is to say that if the price of apples rises, fewer will be demanded. This is a statement that is axiomatically true, and can be deduced from the mere fact or axiom of human action; that is to say, that human beings act to improve their condition in life. No “empirical studies” need be undertaken to determine this fact; we know its truth in an a priori way.).

To say this differently, reality in economics cannot be comprehended via statistical studies or controlled empirical research the way physics or chemistry can; nothing can be quantitatively analyzed in the social sciences where, unlike the physical sciences, purposive human beings are involved and “cannot be held constant”.

The Correct Model for the Economy: An Austrian View (Part 3 of 3)

... stands in contrast with ...

It’s fair to say these models [of disequilibrium] don’t yet give us an adequate understanding of the basic patterns we see in markets, but they at least move in the right direction by taking the historical data seriously and trying to explain it. Nothing in mainstream economics seems as likely to succeed in this. “I urge students to read narrowly within economics, but widely in science,” Vernon Smith wrote in his 2002 Nobel Prize for economics lecture, because “within economics there is essentially only one model to be adapted to every application.”

Simple ideas of equilibrium and balance may flatter our Platonic prejudices, but they don’t fit the real world. Nothing in the mathematics and physical science of the past 30 years stands out so much as the increasing importance of the irregular, the chaotic and the disordered in every part of the natural world. In many cases, this disorder isn’t simply random, but rather contains important regularities. Finding the expected disorder in the marketplace, and understanding its origins, could give economics a much stronger scientific foundation.

Mandelbrot Beats Economics in Fathoming Markets: Mark Buchanan

if the price of apples rises, fewer will be demanded.

Unless, of course, the scarcity of apples creates the impression that they are a highly sought-after luxury good and a status symbol, whose consumption, if seen by the neighbors, will advance my children's chances of being accepted into an elite university or at the very least serve to make them jealous, thereby making me feel momentarily better by comparison. Then the rising price of apples would create more demand, not less.

Seriously, this might seem like a trivial example, but it shows how the neoclassical view of economics as a fundamentally rational enterprise (and those views that follow from it, like the Austrians) ignores the myriad ways humans can and in fact do make choices every day based on irrational desires (or, perhaps, rational evaluation of incomplete or bad information). If you want to see a truly incredible display of mental gymnastics, get someone who believes strongly in libertarian market theories (and they are easy to find because they tend to be extraordinarily loud) to explain what they think happens in a commodity bubble or in a recession. Fortunately nobody who matters really takes these theories seriously anymore. Oh wait, I take that back, the Koch brothers are big fans of the Austrian school...but of course what I meant to say is of course that nobody respected within the field of economics, nor any other social science discipline takes Austrian economics seriously.

The most irritating aspect of this particular theory is that it posits economics to be an intrinsically qualitative discipline, i.e. it cannot be quantified because it depends upon observations of changing human behavior...then goes on to present a reductionist view of human behavior in order to accommodate the preconceived notion of market rationality. It presents a problem to a simplistic view of the economy when you realize markets are in fact complex aggregations of complex, not simple behaviors, and it contradicts the premise that economics are too complex to be quantified.

Syria unrest: Oil pipeline attacked near Homs (w/Video)

A major pipeline carrying oil to a refinery in Syria's restive Homs province has been attacked, activists and the state news agency Sana said. The agency said the attack happened at Tal al-Shor, west of the troubled city.

Syria's oil output has slumped to 120,000 barrels per day from 340,000 before the unrest due to narrowing exports in line with sanctions against President Assad's regime, according to an industry expert quoted by AP

Wells Fargo to Pay $148 Million in U.S. Muni Bid-Rigging Case

The Securities and Exchange Commission said in a statement that Wachovia Bank, which has since been acquired by Wells Fargo, fraudulently rigged the bidding for investment deals with local governments on at least 58 transactions from 1997 through 2005.

The settlement is the latest in a more than five-year investigation into how Wall Street banks conspired with local- government financial advisers to reap excessive fees on investment deals by rigging auctions and carving the market up among themselves. JPMorgan Chase & Co., UBS AG and Bank of America Corp. previously settled similar cases

Criminals! But no one goes to jail.

related Corzine Says He Doesn't Know Location of Missing Funds

Jon S. Corzine, former chairman and chief executive officer of MF Global Holdings Ltd., tells lawmakers he doesn't know the location of the estimated $1.2 billion in missing client money.

and The "Banker Gangs" Are Still On the Loose, and the Justice Department Still Won't Come Clean

here's an alternative idea to jail.

It should simply be that any bank that is found guilty of this sort thing - fraudulent dealings with governments, at any level, is deemed untrustworthy for government business and will be automatically barred from any and all direct dealings with any and all governments.

So, in this case, WF would lose all their gov accounts, can no longer participate in gov bond auctions etc etc.

This would require no changes to criminal, law, would result in no less people being jailed than today, but would surely impact the banks business. The directors may not go to jail, but I'd say there is a fair chance they would be booted out at the next shareholders meeting.

The only problem with this system is that, in short order, there would be no banks left with a clean rap sheet for the gov to deal with!

Video of advanced drone captured by Iranian cyber warfare:


Almost looks like it is straight out of the factory. Don't see the undercarriage though.

Very interesting that everything underneath is obscured. Also looks like it is in primer, odd.


Is that the original color or was it painted? What is under its skirt? It sure didn't crash land, unless they put it back together with bondo.

Will they sell it to the Russians or the Chinese?

The colour is more like the primer coat rather than a low visibility coat. From the sizes that are found in various places it looks like about 1/2 scale, don't look like a 26m wingspan to me. Those joints just outside the humps don't seem to be visible on any of the images of "The Beast" though there are few good ones, they also look very messy. I cannot see any roundels though there are some that show up in images they may not be on an operational machine. If the Iranians really took over control and landed it then how did they have the knowledge and experience to fly and land it? If it was taken control of then a few peoples careers are going to be cut short in the design and operations team.


I've seen suggestions that it is sitting on a parade float. Also, the color appears correct according to 'experts'. CNN (tv) still reporting that "Iran claims it shot it down", though others are reporting Iran claims they gained electronic control. Others suggesting its control signals were jammed. I've seen no comments from Locheed-Martin, who's 'Skunkworks' built the thing.

At least they're not dragging some beat-up (or dead) pilot through the streets :-/

Ghung - Had the same thought. If the Iranians had any sense of humor they would broadcast a Gary Power's sym being dragged through the streets. I would if I were them but I've been known to be a sick puppy when the right circumstances arise.

Is it too early to toss out the theory that we let them capture the drone? Maybe we have monitoring devices hidden in it that are picking up valuable intel as I type? Or maybe just an 8X10 glossy of Dick Chaney's naked butt...psychological warfare does have its place, ya know.

"Or maybe just an 8X10 glossy of Dick Chaney's naked butt...psychological warfare does have its place, ya know."

Thanks a lot Rockman. I can never un-read that.

"Or maybe just an 8X10 glossy of Dick Chaney's naked butt...psychological warfare does have its place, ya know."



well i am more worried about what it was doing there. since it's based off the b2's stealth tech and has some stealth elements. It might of been used to probe for where b2's can slip in, use bunker buster nukes on iran's facility's and slip out...

That sort of stealth design goes back to the Vulcan bomber and before. It's not really that new.


the design is not, supposedly the paint on the drone is. i was talking about both and the fact that iran still uses soviet era radar. something the b2 and it's design is supposed to be able to slip pass.

The paint has been around a while too and ISTR the Russians have their own. They probably have samples of the American paint already anyway. The shape and features are the big part, the Vulcan was really good for that.


It must be the real deal, otherwise DC would be countering story. In any case, obvious it was sent over Iran to take spy photos of nuclear sites. Probably collecting intelligence in collaboration with Israel.

Seems like the rhetoric on possible Iranian nuke development is rising lately. Israel is probably trying to get the US/UK involved in planning air strikes sooner rather than later. Hard to know though if Obama would be on board with military strikes. He responds very slowly to situations - remember the gulf oil spill? Israel may have to wait to see if a war hungry GOP candidate gets the nod and if so, wait until after the innaugeration to launch operation nixIrannuke.

He responds very slowly to situations - remember the gulf oil spill?

What, was BP waiting for Obama to tell them to cap the damn thing ?

My logic tends to run the opposite way. If it was real we would be hearing a lot more noise.


Yep, war with Iran would mean higher gas prices.

Gotta start selling the need early.

Economy, gas prices make Americans drive less

Americans have been driving fewer miles every month since March, a decline fueled by factors ranging from the weak economy to high gas prices to aging boomers and teens driving less. It's the first time the nation has seen six consecutive monthly decreases since October of 2008.

"With the number of Americans unemployed or underemployed, you have a reduction in disposable income, fewer commutes, fewer shopping trips and leisure trips," says Troy Green of auto club AAA. "And we are on pace to set a new record for the average annual price of gasoline."

"There was a hunker-down mentality, especially in the fall. People realized they had spent as much money on fuel by Columbus Day as they had for the whole year the year before."

Water leak forces [another] nuclear reactor shutdown

The shutdown at the Mihama nuclear plant means just eight of the country's 54 reactors are online, with power shortages expected in parts of Japan this winter.

The operator of the plant has shut down the reactor, which has been leaking since last month, because there is a risk the water will spill over the top of a tank where it is being collected.

also Nuclear plant to dump decontaminated water at sea

The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant said today it was considering dumping water it treated for radiation contamination into the ocean as early as March, prompting protests from fishing groups.

Tokyo Electric Power, (Tepco) said it was running out of space to store some of the water it treated at the plant due to an inflow of groundwater.

and Japan’s ‘nuclear gypsies’ face peril at power plants

... A study by the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, a Tokyo-based watchdog group, found that contractors last year accounted for 96 per cent of the harmful radiation absorbed by workers at the nation’s nuclear power plants. Temporary workers at the Fukushima plant in 2010 also faced radiation levels 16 times higher than employees of the plant’s owner-operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co.

"TEPCO TEMPS" , because sometimes Short Term commitments are just easier!

Arigato, gotta go!

US Republicans urge covert ops against Iran, Syria

"They only have one very, very large refinery. I would be focused on how to covertly sabotage it every day," Gingrich told the Republican Jewish Coalition, a group highly critical of President Barack Obama's handling of ties to Israel.

Santorum: Let's cut off Iran's oil supply

Newt Gingrich Would Name John Bolton Secretary Of State If Elected

Gingrich's promised anointment of the hardline Bush administration veteran comes as Bolton and his fellow neocons are seeking a way back into the Republican Party's good graces after the invasion of Iraq and the insurgency that followed. [resposible for 4500 American soldiers - dead, >500,000 Iraqi civilians -dead]

Despite Gingrich's comments, candidates can face fines and prison time for promising or pledging appointments.

G.O.P. Candidates, at Jewish Coalition, Pledge to Be Israel’s Best Friends

Sounds like terrorism to me

'Terrorist' only applies to those who don't support empire.

'Terrorist' only applies to those who don't support empire.

'Terrorist' only applies to those who don't support your empire.
If they support the other guy's empire, they are simply terrorists.

I happened to catch The Newt's speech yesterday before the Republican Jewish Coalition, which was broadcast on the WaPo web site. The Newt sure knows how to deliver his stump speech and work a crowd. I think his prescription was a bit over the top, as he called for more "covert operations" against countries which he claims to be our existential enemies, particularly, Iran. He apparently thinks our previous covert activities, such as orchestrating a coup against Mosedec in Iran in 1953, Allende in Chile or our intervention in Nicaragua were the proper way to conduct foreign policy. Of course, speaking before a Jewish audience, he wholeheartedly supported Israel, including his comment that he would move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I suppose this means I will find myself involved in next year's campaign, if The Newt is nominated...

E. Swanson

you and about every able bodied man and woman between the ages of 18 and 40(i think that's the max draft age?)

The Saudi Arab Spring Nobody Noticed

Those wanting a closer look at what is going on in Saudi Arabia can go to the site Liveleak, where there's highly disturbing video accompanied by this text: "Qatif--Firing live bullets at the demonstrators November 21, 2011: Video shows the brutal style Saudi security forces in dealing with the demonstrators by firing live bullets." Another source is a blog called “Angry Arab News Service,” which features video in which a large and vocal group in Qatif are apparently chanting “Death to the House of Saud”:That kind of material seems to warrant worldwide attention. And with that, we might reasonably expect the protests to grow. But the coverage has not come, nor the greater uprising.

So, what's the real story in Saudi Arabia? December brought a report from the human rights group Amnesty International, covered as follows by BBC: ...

Amnesty International Report Saudi Arabia Repression In The Name Of Security

... Amnesty says the government has drafted an anti-terror law that would effectively criminalise dissent as a “terrorist crime” and allow extended detention without charge or trial.

How much of this larger play is about keeping the Saudi royal family in power, and taking care of the Western oil industry, and the "western way of life"?

Kinda like the U.S.

Saudi Faults Israel/Iran for Arms Race

Prince Turki bin Faisal, a prominent member of the Saudi royal family, has cited Israel’s existing nuclear arsenal as well as Iran’s alleged pursuit of an A-bomb as justification for his country’s possible development of its own weapons of mass destruction.

“If our efforts and the efforts of the world community fail to bring about the dismantling of the Israeli arsenal of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and preventing Iran from acquiring the same, then why shouldn’t we at least study seriously all available options, including acquiring WMDs, so that our future generations will not blame us for neglecting any courses of action that will keep looming dangers away from us,” he told a GCC conference in Riyadh on Dec. 5.

New Study: Solar Grid Parity Is Here Today

The shift to solar “is not going to happen all at once,” Pearce said. “Two pockets of the country,” he predicted, will “open up to solar first.” Solar will most quickly be noticed as competitive where electricity rates are high or where utilities have inordinate monthly charges.

Functionalized Graphene Oxide Plays Part in Next-Generation Oil-Well Drilling Fluids

The Rice University lab of chemist James Tour and scientists at M-I SWACO, a Texas-based supplier of drilling fluids and subsidiary of oil-services provider Schlumberger, have produced functionalized graphene oxide to alleviate the clogging of oil-producing pores in newly drilled wells.

In a series of standard American Petroleum Institute tests, the team found the best mix of functionalized Graphene Oxide [GO] to be a combination of large flakes and powdered GO for reinforcement. A mud with 2 percent functionalized GO formed a filter cake an average of 22 micrometers wide -- substantially smaller than the 278-micrometer cake formed by traditional muds. GO blocked pores many times smaller than the flakes' original diameter by folding.

Aside from making the filter cake much thinner, which would give a drill bit more room to turn, the Rice mud contained less than half as many suspended solids; this would also make drilling more efficient as well as more environmentally friendly.

Abstract: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/am2012799

Natural gas site fire hits Wyoming natural gas production

A Tuesday fire at a natural gas compressor in southwestern Wyoming shut down the site, hampering production from the region.

The Falcon compressor station is a key part of the Jonah Gas Gathering System, which collects and transports gas from the Jonah and Pinedale Anticline fields in the Upper Green River Basin.

Shell Oil Co. has had to temporarily stop production in the Pinedale area, from which the company typically produces 320 million cubic feet of gas a day, said company spokeswoman Kayla Macke.

The station is one of several compressor stations in the gathering system, which can transport up to 2.55 billion cubic feet a day of gas through a network of 849 miles of pipe to processing plants and interstate pipelines, according to a 2010 company filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

ExxonMobil Says: Oil In 2040, Made In The USA

US oil imports will continue to decline as domestic production rises, and by 2040 the US could be importing crude only from Canada, according to the latest forecast from ExxonMobil.

That forecast depends on off-shore, Arctic, oil sands and unconventional resources being available for development in coming decades.

"We believe oil imports have reached a peak in the US," said William Colton, ExxonMobil Vice President of Corporate Strategic Planning at a recent company announcement in Washington DC. He said Exxon's forecasting models show that imports, other than Canadian, could reach 1 million barrels per day or less--perhaps down to zero--in the coming 30 years.

related Exxon expects that U.S. Oil Imports have Peaked

Westexas (Jeffrey Brown) said it first !

Jeffrey just added that the halt in oil imports may not be voluntary.

Best Hopes for Giving Credit where Due,


Hats off to Westexas

Maybe Will Colton [Exxon VP] is a secret TODer?

Jeffrey just added that the halt in oil imports may not be voluntary.

Which is actually the most important part of this, IMO.

There is a LOT of work to be done to close the gap to just Cdn imports, though they do give a long time to do that...

the halt in oil imports may not be voluntary

The idea of the US Dollar being declared "no good for trade" is what brought me to Peak Oil. Back 10+ years ago.

the halt in oil imports may not be voluntary

It will still look voluntary. When the time comes we will agree that we don't really want that much $250 oil. So the pundits can still say we volunteered to use less.

I think for the sake of newbies to TOD that we should mention we are talking about Westexas's ELM model

Cyber attacks could wreck world oil supply

Hackers are bombarding the world's computer controlled energy sector, conducting industrial espionage and threatening potential global havoc through oil supply disruption. Oil company executives warned that attacks were becoming more frequent and more carefully planned.

"If anybody gets into the area where you can control opening and closing of valves, or release valves, you can imagine what happens," said Ludolf Luehmann, an IT manager at Shell Europe's biggest company .

"It will cost lives and it will cost production, it will cost money, cause fires and cause loss of containment, environmental damage - huge, huge damage," he told the World Petroleum Congress in Doha.

If anybody gets into the area where you can control opening and closing of valves, or release valves, you can imagine what happens...

And why would time- or safety-critical controls of that sort be connected to the public Internet in any manner whatsoever? We already know that Internet connections routinely experience temporary failures even without any assistance from hackers.

Oil May Rise as Supplies Fall on Europe Crisis, Greely Says

“The physical markets are telegraphing severe tightness,” Greely said at the Inside Commodities conference today in New York.

Supplies have declined on speculation that the European debt crisis may lead to a global economic slowdown that undermines crude demand, he said. Falling inventories leave the market vulnerable to bullish surprises like supply disruptions because of tension in the Middle East, he said.

Supplies in Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for the Nymex contract, have declined 26 percent to 31.1 million barrels the week ended Dec. 2 from a record 41.9 million in April.

Aging oil must shed 'devil' image to attract youth

The oil industry has a problem.

Nearly 50% of its workforce is set to retire in the next 10 years and it needs to attract new talent. But many young people don't want to work in the oil and gas business and are instead flocking to firms like Facebook, Google or the renewable energy companies.

"The industry is not highly looked on," Manisha Bhargava, a business developer at the Indian Oil Corporation said Thursday on a panel of under-35-year-olds at the World Petroleum Congress in Qatar. "It's considered a dirty industry whose days are supposed to be limited."

Somebody is going to pay for this.

Gas-Fracking Chemicals Found in WY Aquifer

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said for the first time it found chemicals used in extracting natural gas through hydraulic fracturing in a drinking-water aquifer in west-central Wyoming.

gog - Since I'm not hampered by facts I can make a WAG and guess the source is improperly disposed produced frac fluids and not directly from the frac'd wells. That's been the case in almost all the documented cases. The real trick will be figuring out who did the dumping if that's the case. Might have been the operator or a company they paid to handle the disposal. In Texas we call it "midnight hauls": instead of taking the nasties to a certififed disposal facility (expensive) the subcontractor dumps it somewhere out of sight at 2 AM. Or. like in PA until they just recently made it illegal, local municipalities were charging to have the nasties dumped into their treatment facilities and then discharged back into the streams. These nasties can't be treated in such facilities. It didn't sound like there was a likely source other than the frac fluid.

Yeah Rockman, but once its dumped it cannot be undumped. Once its in the water table its there permanently. How many of these cases big and small have there been? If people cannot be trusted to not dump the frac fluids, then it cannot be allowed.

If the dog is allowed to get up on the couch, it will, and humans are no different. They will get away with whatever they can. There would have to be a cop with a revolver against the head of the drivers to the site and from and even then the driver would be saying,

"Are you sure I can't interest you in dumping this stuff on the ground? I could make it worth your while. How about I give you 300 bucks and you put away the gun. Friends?"

but once its dumped it cannot be undumped.

This is very true, and is true of many other chemicals and bio-wastes and so on.

Having previously made a living cleaning up contaminated groundwater, I can say that these things can be prevented, with appropriate regulations AND enforcement.

The paint and petrochemicals industries used to be notorious for this, and eventually were forced to clean up their act, or else they can;t operate.

I see no reason why the same can;t be done here - any well that is being fracked is registered first, and and the fluid disposal must be rigorously accounted for. Any company that fails - is not allowed to drill/frack again in that State (and will likely not get contracted in any other, either).
I expect the Texas RRC has powers similar to, or greater than this, they just need to be put into place, and enforced, elsewhere, that's all.

The shale gas/frack industry needs to get its act together fast on this, and *ask* for these sorts of rules to be put into place, and enforced.

Otherwise, to use the words of Jared Diamond, they "will lose their social license to operate".

I would say they are getting close to that in some areas - though not the ones, like TX and La, that already have such rules...

Earl/Paul - Exactly: cheaters cheat...especially when there are big $'s to be made. And the cheating isn't limited to haulers and oil companies. A couple of years ago a landowner in PA was busted for allowing the nasties to be dumped into a pond on his land. And most should know by now that some local govts were taking the nasties into their municipal treatment facilities and discharging them (untreated) back into the streams. But both PA and NY have now passed laws making that illegal. As said: good regs and ENFORCEMENT can make all the difference. And some folks might be surprised who'll help in the process: the oil patch. I've mentioned before I helped bust 2 illegal dumpers. Folks like me know what looks odd going down the road. It should come as no surprise that most of us field types would do this: many own property in the country side and drink well water every day. Just like my 12 yo daughter. Getting busted by the law might not be the worse thing to happen to an illegal dumper. Virtually all field hands in Texas are heavily armed these days.

It's not that difficult to eliminate most of the potential threat: good regs and a certified accounting of fluid disposal will eliminate most potential problems.

EPA: Fracking may cause groundwater pollution

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday for the first time that fracking — a controversial method of improving the productivity of oil and gas wells — may be to blame for causing groundwater pollution.

The EPA's found that compounds likely associated with fracking chemicals had been detected in the groundwater beneath Pavillion, a small community in central Wyoming where residents say their well water reeks of chemicals. Health officials last year advised them not to drink their water after the EPA found low levels hydrocarbons in their wells.


I know you've been saying for well(no pun intended) over a year that the contamination is either via dumping, or a failed cement job, or both. But I wonder if you might comment on some aspects of what EPA is saying...

The agency said "the best explanation" for the pollution in the wells in Pavillion, Wyoming was that fluids from hydraulic fracturing contaminated the aquifer.

The EPA, however, noted that Wyoming was much more vulnerable to water contamination from fracking chemicals than other areas because drilling there often takes place much closer to the surface than in other states.

If I recall correctly, you had a figure over of >3000 ft, and no problem. This appears to be under that lid, so problem? Should different regs apply?

The EPA said the pollution in Wyoming, which it detected after drilling monitoring wells, included benzene, which can cause cancer, alcohols and glycols.

"The presence of these compounds is consistent with migration from areas of gas production," it said.


This suggests a wide area monitoring program, an extensive contaminated aquifer as opposed to more of a point source, or spring/water vein. Also I would thinnk makes it harder for refuting by saying the contamination was the result of the monitoring program.

Your explanations make the most sense, but then I'd be furious if it was my watering hole. Towards the end of the article, it notes the special exemption fracing has given from the Clean Water Act, which to me points the dirty finger. If it's so clean and safe, then why the exemption?

doug - Conducting any down hole activity when close to the fresh water column is risky. Texas has very strong regs protecting fresh water aquifers even during normally low risk drilling activities. I still don't have a good idea of the depths they're talking about. But if I were frac'ng within a few thousand feet of the fresh water I would be very careful. And if I were doing any frac'ng at all in an area I would have fresh water wells tested prior to drilling anything. Just a matter of self defense. I only have a little experience drilling in WY but they do have some odd natural contaminants out there. One oddity was high sodium content in freshwater sands. This came up when they started producing fresh water with coal seam gas. There was no standard at that time for how much NA was too much.

Nothing is going to be done. it's not going to be in the mainstream news long. any lawsuits will be dragged out to the point that those who brought them run out of money. your going to save yourself a lot of stress and worry by just stocking up on water purification systems.

OPEC Ready To Help If There Is Oil Shortage, Crisis -Secy Genl

DOHA (Zawya Dow Jones)--The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is ready to help in case of a shortage or crisis in the global oil market and the Paris-based International Energy Agency, or IEA, has the sovereign right to release emergency crude stocks if needed, the cartel's secretary general said Wednesday.

Abdallah Salem El Badri, at a conference in Doha, said this year had been a difficult year for the oil producing group but it remained committed to help "if there is a shortage, or a catastrophe somewhere."

The IEA in June decided to release 60 million barrels of oil from emergency stocks to alleviate a shortage induced by the civil war in Libya, a decision the OPEC secretary general in September said he hadn't been happy about.

"This is really a sovereign right for the IEA to release (stocks), to take the decision, whatever they want and we don't want to interfere," El Badri said today, adding that the IEA's director had assured OPEC that it won't have any further crude reserve releases.

Learning high-performance tasks with no conscious effort may soon be possible (w/ video)

New research published today in the journal Science suggests it may be possible to use brain technology to learn to play a piano, reduce mental stress or hit a curve ball with little or no conscious effort. It's the kind of thing seen in Hollywood's "Matrix" franchise.

Here's the scary part ...

What's more, the approached worked even when test subjects were not aware of what they were learning.

Think of a person watching a computer screen and having his or her brain patterns modified to match those of a high-performing athlete or modified to recuperate from an accident or disease. ... [or modified to match a mindless drone, or obedient slave, or sycophant]

Oil at $150 Becomes Biggest Options Bet on Iran


Even if nothing happens with Iran, such a position may pay off if there is an oil crunch due to increased Chinese demand and continued weak supply.

Paleoclimate Record Points Toward Potential Rapid Climate Changes

... Two degrees Celsius of warming would make Earth much warmer than during the Eemian, and would move Earth closer to Pliocene-like conditions, when sea level was in the range of 25 meters higher than today, Hansen said. In using Earth's climate history to learn more about the level of sensitivity that governs our planet's response to warming today, Hansen said the paleoclimate record suggests that every degree Celsius of global temperature rise will ultimately equate to 20 meters of sea level rise.

Hansen notes that ice sheet disintegration will not be a linear process. ....This continued rate of ice loss could cause multiple meters of sea level rise by 2100, Hansen said.

"We don’t have a substantial cushion between today's climate and dangerous warming," Hansen said. "Earth is poised to experience strong amplifying feedbacks in response to moderate additional global warming."

Hansen notes that ice sheet disintegration will not be a linear process. This non-linear deterioration has already been seen in vulnerable places such as Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica, where the rate of ice mass loss has continued accelerating over the past decade. Data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite is already consistent with a rate of ice sheet mass loss in Greenland and West Antarctica that doubles every ten years. The GRACE record is too short to confirm this with great certainty; however, the trend in the past few years does not rule it out, Hansen said. This continued rate of ice loss could cause multiple meters of sea level rise by 2100, Hansen said.

It doesn't take a lot of doubling to turn an ice sheet which would melt in say 1000 years at the current rate to less than 100 years. If we're talking business as usual carbon release next to diminishing capacity from sinks such as oceans over the next 10-20 years to absorb the increase as well as increasing methane/CO2 feedbacks from the arctic then the problems creeping up on us may be more near term than the scientists let on.

Fortunately the melting timescale change is more likely from 6000 years to 600 years. So 25meters in 600 years is roughly 4M/century. Which is still going to be a royal pain in the tusch to deal with.

A ten times increase is 3.32 doublings.

The issue there is that Greenland isn't the only ice sheet which is melting. Beyond that we have the humble thermal expansion of water which will take an already large mass of water and make it even bigger. This may not be as big a problem as I imagine but I have the distinct feeling that climate scientists are chronically under-estimating the impact of climate change and the resulting feed-backs, case in point the arctic ice cap melting far faster than the mainstream models predicted.

US official: Fukushima fuel worries were justified

"You see all that damage on the top of that building and you're thinking, 'There's probably some damage on the spent fuel pools,'" Casto said.

U.S. officials were aware that no one had poured water onto the pool for three to four days after the tsunami, Casto said. Images from flying drones and even TV cameras showed white smoke — likely water vapor — coming from the area of the Unit 4 pool. Casto's team interpreted that as a sign water from the spent fuel pool was boiling.

"And then suddenly it stopped," he said.

Plant workers also reported high radiation levels from debris in-between the Unit 3 and Unit 4 reactor buildings. Casto said his team thought those radiation readings could indicate that damaged nuclear fuel had spread on the site.

"You put that together and you say, 'We're worried that there may not be water in that spent fuel pool,'" he said.

Some information was open to debate. Japanese officials once called Casto to an emergency center where he watched video taken from a helicopter that flew over the Unit 4 building. Japanese officials told Casto that they saw a reflection among the rubble, indicating there was water in its pool.

"I couldn't see it," he said.