Drumbeat: January 7, 2012

Pumping Up TAPS: Four years of stability

The economic, political and technological forces that have always driven oil prices will continue to do so in the future, but with a difference, longtime oil industry analyst Roger A. Herrera told Petroleum News Nov. 28.

“In 2008 the first recent economic recession, I could argue, was triggered by the high price of oil. It was affecting everything we were doing,” Herrera said. “However, today oil is a follower, not a leader. That was forcefully demonstrated during the battle in Libya a few months ago when 1 billion barrels per day of oil production effectively dried up and there was virtually no effect on world oil prices.”

IEA Has No Immediate Plan to Release Oil Stockpiles on Iran

(Bloomberg) -- The International Energy Agency, the adviser to U.S., Germany and Japan, isn’t planning an immediate release of emergency oil stockpiles in response to the tension in the Middle East.

“We remain prepared to respond to any significant oil supply disruption, but as no specific supply disruption is under way, we are not actively considering any action at the present time,” the Paris-based adviser said on its website today.

Iran accuses US and EU of trying to wage 'economic war'

IRANIAN OFFICIALS have struck a defiant posture in response to a proposed oil embargo by the European Union, calling the intensified efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear programme, including new sanctions by the United States, tantamount to “an economic war” and vowing to conduct a new round of military drills near the Strait of Hormuz.

Tensions rise in Gulf as key powers plan new war games

TENSIONS on the shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf have escalated amid threats of an EU embargo on Iranian oil, with the announcement of new naval exercises by Iran and news that Israel and the US are planning to carry out their most extensive joint manoeuvres.

Britain is also sending its most formidable warship to the Gulf for its first mission as tensions rise in the strategically vital region.

India exploring ways of making oil payments to Iran

India is exploring all options to find a way out to make oil payments to Iran as there are chances that Turkey, through which it is making payment, may come under pressure after a fresh round of U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran.

India currently pays Iran about $1 billion every month through Turkey for the 370,000 barrels a day of crude oil it buys from the world's fourth-largest oil producer.

EU Iran Oil Sanctions Likely to Be Phased In Over Time, Official Says

A European Union embargo on Iranian oil will probably be phased in to protect countries with the greatest reliance on imports from the country, according to an EU official familiar with the talks.

Shipowner Bombed in 1980s Says Gulf Crude Flow to Withstand Hormuz Crisis

A Greek shipowner whose family’s oil tankers were hit by missiles during the 1980s Iran-Iraq war said he expects Persian Gulf crude exports to continue after Iran’s threats to block shipments through the Strait of Hormuz.

Japanese foreign minister in Saudi Arabia for talks on oil

Riyadh - Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba arrived in the Saudi capital of Riyadh Saturday for talks on securing his country's oil needs in light of an Iranian threat to close shipping through the vital Strait of Hormuz, said sources in the Japanese embassy.

Iran state firm says it owes no oil to Italy

(TEHRAN) - The state-owned National Iranian Oil Company said on Saturday that it does not owe some $2 billion in oil shipments as claimed by Italy, in remarks that could be aimed at undermining EU unity over banning oil purchases from Iran.

Tiny port, new energy battleground

CALGARY — In a remote Aboriginal recreation centre on the shore of the Douglas Channel in British Columbia’s North Coast, Canadian regulators are kicking off historic hearings on Tuesday on the proposed $5.5-billion Northern Gateway oil sands pipeline. By the time they are finished in two years, thousands of Canadians will have had their say on the giant project.

Improving economy: More jobs, higher pump prices

NEW YORK – As the U.S. economy recovers and adds more jobs, Americans are paying the price at the gas pump.

The government said Friday that the nation's unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 percent, the same day that gasoline prices hit an average of $3.35 a gallon, the highest ever for this time of year.

Gasoline prices are rising again after falling in the last months of 2011. Motorists are buying less gas than they did a year ago, but pump prices are rising with higher oil prices.

Exxon Settles Lawsuit Over Gulf of Mexico Offshore Oil Lease Against U.S.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), the largest publicly traded oil company, settled its lawsuit against U.S. Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar over the government’s decision to cancel offshore leases that may yield “billions of barrels of oil.”

The accord “will allow ExxonMobil to develop this very large, but technically challenging, resource as quickly as possible using a phased approach,” Patrick McGinn, a spokesman for Irving, Texas-based Exxon, said in an e-mail yesterday.

Hugo Chavez has reason to smile

Talk of foreign companies cancelling Venezuelan oil projects abounds in some business circles. But aside from Exxon and ConocoPhillips, western multinationals have stayed, perhaps because the stakes of leaving are so high.

"ChevronTexaco is still there. European oil companies are there from Italy and France; the Russians, Chinese, Indians and Brazilians are there," Golinger told Al Jazeera. "Foreign companies shouldn’t try to use their political and economic power to undermine local laws."

Tanker encounters ice near Bering Sea island

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A Russian tanker carrying fuel for an iced-in Alaska city that without a delivery could run out of crucial supplies before winter’s end encountered ice early Friday in the eastern Bering Sea.

The ice was not a surprise. The 370-foot tanker Renda will have to go through more than 300 miles of sea ice to get to Nome, a city of about 3,500 people on the western Alaska coastline that did not get its last pre-winter fuel delivery because of a massive storm.

Second Tunisian man sets self on fire in 2 days

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — A hospital official says a second man has set himself on fire in Tunisia, two days after a similar case.

13 killed in attacks in northeast Nigeria

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria—Members of a radical Muslim sect attacked a church in northeast Nigeria during a worship service, part of a series of assaults that killed at least 13 people, authorities said Saturday.

Is Ed Markey Fracktracking?

Wait, did Rep. Ed Markey really just give a shout out to hydraulic fracturing? Back in July, the ranking member of the House Natural Resources committee was warning that “fracking” — a technique for unlocking natural gas and oil held in dense rock — could “turn stretches of forest into lifeless dunes.”

Natural gas price drop won't derail shale drilling

Because of a warm winter and the expansion of shale gas drilling, the price of natural gas is as low as its been in a decade or more. The development of the Utica Shale in eastern Ohio isn't threatened by these rock-bottom prices because energy producers never were solely, or even primarily, focused on natural gas anyway.

2012 – Welcome to the Jungle

As I mentioned earlier, there is no way – the math doesn’t add up – to make the collective solar, wind, hydrogen and other energy sources we have make up for the lack of oil. The only aircraft which run on electricity are the kind my neighbor’s kid runs with a radio-control joystick. The only cars which run on electricity have a short range and take forever to recharge – and it’s not like you can sell them used; either – not when replacing a battery array is somewhere north of $10,000.

Japan makes new rules for nuclear plants

TOKYO (AP) – Japan says it will soon require atomic reactors to be shut down after 40 years of use to improve safety following the nuclear crisis set off by last year's tsunami.

Concern about aging reactors has been growing because the three units at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant in northeastern Japan that went into meltdown following the tsunami in March were built starting in 1967. Among other reactors at least 40 years old are those at the Tsuruga and Mihama plants in central Japan, which were built starting in 1970.

U.S. to Block New Uranium Mines Near Grand Canyon

The Obama administration is set to announce on Monday that it will block new uranium mining on one million acres in northern Arizona near the Grand Canyon, lobbyists and Interior Department employees who had been informed about the decision said on Friday.

Welcome windfall for an industry in need

Saudi Arabia's commitment to industrial-scale solar power represents a windfall to an industry that is in need of cash.

Chinese Companies Prefer Dying to Being Bought, JinkoSolar Says

Chinese solar-panel makers, which supply more than half the world market, will respond to the supply glut by shutting factories or their entire businesses rather than merging, a JinkoSolar Holding Co. (JKS) official said.

Acid test for 'evil twin' of climate change

ABOARD THE AURORA AUSTRALIS: They call themselves Team Acid and are trawling the Southern Ocean with fine nets to see if the shells of tiny marine snails are thinning because of ocean acidification.

Scientists label this acid trend "the evil twin of climate change".

An Arctic methane worst-case scenario

Let’s suppose that the Arctic started to degas methane 100 times faster than it is today. I just made that number up trying to come up with a blow-the-doors-off surprise, something like the ozone hole. We ran the numbers to get an idea of how the climate impact of an Arctic Methane Nasty Surprise would stack up to that from Business-as-Usual rising CO2.

Re: 13 killed in attacks in northeast Nigeria, up top.

Nigeria appears to be descending into chaos.

"We are extending our frontiers to other places to show that the declaration of a state of emergency by the Nigerian government will not deter us. We can really go to wherever we want to go," said Abul Qaqa.

He said the attacks were "part of our response to the ultimatum we gave to southerners to leave the north" and called on the government to release all Boko Haram prisoners.


Inside Story - Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram?


Inside Story: Nigeria's fight against Boko Haram


The loss of high quality oil exports from Nigeria to Northeast US refiners is a major motivating reason behind a wave of refiner closures and cut backs. Apparently Northeast US refiners don't believe they will get that supply of quality oil back from Nigeria, or anywhere else for that matter.

They don't want to make a huge investment in converting capacity to handle lower quality oil, so they are shutting down - and fast.

Nigerian leader Goodluck Jonathan defends fuel cut:


Nigeria's Christians to take measures against killings:


I feel that we won't have to wait for significant depletion to see widespread disturbances, rising prices will ensure disturbance in oil producing areas, disrupting production and deepening the vicious cycle.

Talking about Nigeria, we have not heard much about the group MEND that was causing so much mayhem in the oil producing regions of the Niger delta. Wonder whats happening with them.

Robots as farm hands

Carbon dioxide produced by machinery working on the up to 250-hectare (600 acre) site will be channeled back to crops to boost their growth and reduce reliance on chemical fertilizers, the Nikkei newspaper said.

And exactly HOW they gonna do that?

"Japan says it will soon require atomic reactors to be shut down after 40 years of use to improve safety following the nuclear crisis set off by last year's tsunami."

I just went through a "fitness for service" evaluation of some pressure vessels at work. The original design case as for 20 years of service, which came and went. The question then became 'how much longer can we keep them?' The answer came out to 40 years total operating time. Thermal stress and cycling was our limiting case.

Does the U.S. have any nuclear fission power plants that have been in-service for 40 years or greater?

I am guessing that replacing the pressure vessel and associated piping etc has never been done in an in-service U.S. nuclear power plant?

The Enterprise is 50 years old. She has eight Westinghouse A2W reactors, though I don't know to what extent they've been refurbished/upgraded.

In 1969–1970, Enterprise returned to Newport News Shipbuilding and went through an overhaul and her second refitting. In January 1971, she completed sea trials with her newly designed nuclear reactor cores which contained enough energy for 10 years.....

In March 1990, Enterprise completed her around-the-world deployment, arriving in Norfolk, Virginia, after having steamed more than 43,000 mi (69,000 km) . In October, the carrier moved to Newport News Shipbuilding for refueling and the Navy's largest complex overhaul refit ever attempted. During this overhaul, the Navy extended the carrier's length from 1,101 ft (336 m) to 1,123 ft (342 m), as well as other modifications to extend her service life.

She is scheduled for decommissioning soon, despite completing a 662 million dollar refit in 2009. The US Navy's reactor maintenance and inspection program is second to none.

Ghung, excellent point.

I should have more carefully phrased my question to ask specifically about civilian fission electric power generating plants.

The stories breaking about the President's plan to reduce the size of the military (Army and a little bit of Marines) point out that the President has decided to keep an 11-carrier force.

Wikipedia states that the Gerald Ford will enter service by 2015, so the 'Big E' will serve a while longer, until the Ford is operational...unless subsequent economic circumstances convince TPTB to amend the plan...

"...second to none..."
Remembering that the USS Nautilus did its sub-polar trip with a leak in the primary coolant system plugged with Bars-Leaks! Apparently it held the leak for the life of the sub! Appropriate technology eh!

I don't know about Bars Leak and nuclear subs, but everybody can take this to the bank:

If you have a coolant system leak in a car or truck, and catch it early, while it is small and before any harm is done, there is a very good chance Bars Leak will fix it for the life of the vehicle.It is one of a VERY SMALL handful of "cures in a bottle" that actually work-sometimes.I will hazard a swag that less than one out a hundred such products out of the huge variety sold in auto parts stores is worth anything all at in terms of achieving a long term repair.Some of them occasionally "work" masking the symptoms of a problem-an oil additive may actually quieten engine clicks and taps but it doesn't generally make the engine last any longer, or reduce smoking-for a few weeks while you are trying to sell a jalopy.

Additives intended to "fix" automatic transmissions occasionally work for a little while in terms of improving balky shifting-long enough maybe to sell a jalopy.

A few products are actually very useful if used religiously all through the life of a vehicle, such as STP, but only if you are practicing a false economy by buying both STP and cheap oil.You are better off to buy a premium brand of oil and change it regularly.

Anybody who intends to keep a newer vehicle until the wheels fall off should definitely be running a reputable synthetic oil.I don't know personally of any case of an automobile engine wearing out under ordinary usage due to high mileage if it was lubed exclusively with synthetic oil properly changed.I have one good friend who has been running a Volvo shop for three decades, and he has insisted his "regulars" use synthetics the whole while, even though they were VERY expensive back when he started this practice.Another friend who works on heavy trucks says his employer uses synthetics exclusively in the differentials of road tractors, and that they routinely tradeoff old tractors at two million miles without having had to overhaul the differentials even once.

There is an enough of an uptick in fuel economy to cover the extra costs, so the extra durability is "gravy" all the way.

"Remembering that the USS Nautilus did its sub-polar trip with a leak in the primary coolant system plugged with Bars-Leaks! Apparently it held the leak for the life of the sub!

Care to document that? Nautilus' S2W reactor was a PWR, primary loop operating at high pressure (2250PSI?, IIRC), and it was later replaced with a S5W reactor (1970?). While the original S2W may have had issues (can't comment on that), a primary leak, no matter how small, would have been addressed during her first complete overhaul (28 May 1959 – 15 August 1960) if not much sooner.

One wonders who the volunteer was who removed the radiator cap :-/

Thanks for the belly laugh, Ghung.

I've never been closer than maybe ten miles to a naval reactor-and that close only if if a nuke powered ship happened to be in Newport News when I passed through-but I have worked in civilian nuclear plants.

IIrc, the primary coolant piping was mostly about three feet in diameter and six inches thick stainless steel.I sat fire watch once for a solid week, 7/12,while the welding engineer and pipefitters worked on a single weld, and they weren't anywhere near finished then.

It's hard to imagine anybody believing that a navy officer or sailor would put his career on the line by even JOKING about a makeshift repair to a reactor in a public place.

But no country boy or old farmer is going to be without a couple of bottles of Bars Leak in his shop, because the trip to town costs more than the product, and it will eventually be needed if you own old vehicles and equipment.The last time I used some was a couple of years ago on a neighbors older Toyota pickup with a leaking head gasket.It's still running after twenty thousand or so more miles.

The repair job done in the conventional way would have run close to or over four figures, depending on the mechanic or shop selected.A backyard job would take two days and cost three hundred dollars or so for parts and materials..

Four bucks can go a long way sometimes.The time to use it is at the VERY FIRST indication of an internal or external engine coolant leak unless the leak is caused by a bad hose or water pump, either of which which must be replaced immediately.

If you catch a leak early, there is about a fifty to seventy five percent chance the Bars Leak will fix it.

Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant Unit 1 came on line in 1973, Unit 2 in 1974 and Unit 3 in 1976. So they have all been on line just under 40 years. All units go off line every so often for overhaul, one at a time of course. But I have no idea what is replaced. All units are licensed to operate until the mid 2030s.

Browns Ferry was the first TVA nuclear power plant. The first commercial nuclear power plant in the US was Shippingport Atomic Power Station in Shippingport PA which went on line in 1957 but is now decommissioned. I have no idea what the oldest nuclear power plant currently in service is.

Ron P.

Oyster Creek nuclear power station is a single unit 636 MWe boiling water reactor power plant located on an 800 acre (3.2 km²) site adjacent to the Oyster Creek in the Forked River section of Lacey Township in Ocean County, New Jersey. The facility is currently owned and operated by Exelon Corporation and is the oldest operating nuclear power plant in the United States. The plant first came online on December 1, 1969, and is licensed to operate until April 9, 2029.

Sixty years, for a BWR. Jeez...

In August 2009, workers found and stopped two small leaks of tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen.[22] An NRC investigation found the levels to be too low to be a danger to public health. The leaks originated from two buried pipes that had not been properly insulated when they were last worked on in 1991.[23] A second leak was discovered in August 2009, from a pipe leading into an electrical turbine building. Tritium levels found in this leak were measured at 10 microcuries per liter of water, higher than the 5 to 6 microcuries per liter found in the earlier leak.[24] Tritium contaminated groundwater remained on site and had not spread to any public water supplies.[25]

In May 2010, the New Jersey DEP announced that water from the leak had spread to a nearby aquifer, though it stated there "was no imminent danger" to water supplies. At the current rate of migration, the water will reach the closest public wells within 10 to 15 years. The DEP stated there are several ways to address the problem, such as pumping out the tainted water, or injecting fresh water to force the tainted water backwards. A spokesman for Oyster Creek said they are working with the state on the issue, and have seen contamination levels steadily dropping, sometimes by "as much as 90%".

18 more years??

Tritium has a ~12.5 year half life, IIRC, that equates to ~ 5.7% turning into He each year.

15 years to reach the nearest well...I am sure the answer will be 'Dilution is the solution to pollution'...

'Dilution is the solution to pollution'

Or in the case of stuff with a short half-life, letting time pass by is another answer.



Here is a list of reactors from the NRC:


Here is an article claiming that Oyster Creek (NJ) has the oldest operating U.S. nuclear fission commercial electricity-generating plant (1969):


I looked at the NRC site and it said license issued in 1001...perhaps that was a new license to a new operator?

Here is a site with a nice top page with some interesting stats re: U.S> nuclear fission power plants:


This site also cites Oyster Creek as the oldest running U.S> nuke power plant (1969).

So, back to Brown's Ferry: The license allows the plants to operate until they are ~ 60 years old. I checked the NRC site previously for a previous DB, and recall that those aren't the only plants that my operate to 60 years or so.

Perhaps 60 years is seen as the top end...unless they sharpen their pencils and stipulate 80 years is OK....all through sound engineering analysis, of course, with no bribery and/or desperation about loss of electricity to angry customers...

ZED-2, a research reactor still in service at Chalk River, first ran in September 1960.


Nukes are initially licensed for forty years and they can reapply for an additional twenty. I expect them all to do 60.

At 60 years will some start to fall apart enough to meltdown or cause some other horrendous accident that covers half the US in Cesium 137 and Strontium 90?

Will we build new reactors to replace these old units or will we just replace them with coal/gas? Clock is ticking.

There's something called nuclear embrittlement where bombardment by huge flux of neutrons cause atoms to displace from their position in the crystal lattice. Of course the NRC knows all this and they do their inspection/paperwork before issuing a renewal.

Will we build new reactors to replace these old units or will we just replace them with coal/gas? Clock is ticking.

Dunno. It doesn't appear anyone is gonna build a new reactor in the USA unless the taxpayers assume all the risk with loan guarantees and cost overrun guarantees. And that depends on whos in power in Washington. Gas is going to be a big part. Coal depends on the pollution standards which depends on Washington again. There's a lot of sixty year old coal plants which are grandfathered from the Clean air act, which is the cheapest electricity there is if you don't count the people they kill or their medical bills. You don't mention renewables.

Will we build new reactors to replace these old units or will we just replace them with coal/gas?

Is fission/coal/gas the only choices?

IIRC, essentially all of the commercial power nukes come up for either 40- or 60-year reviews over the next 20 years. Some state governments are starting to push back on the 20-year extensions -- eg, Vermont Yankee and Indian Point. I believe there's a case in federal court now challenging the right of a state to bar operation of a federally-licensed nuke.

Have any of the licenses come up for renewal since Fukushima?

Don't know, but there is already the governor of New York claiming that HE can refuse to renew license of the Indian Point plant, because it has licensing from the state as well as from the NRC. He wants to shut'er down in 2013 and 2015, the expiration dates of the two reactors.


The Vermont Yankee plant, same design as Fukushima, reaches its 40 year point this year. The state wants it shut down. The NRC approved it for another 20 years. This battle is now in court. In recent years the plant has had multiple leaks and other malfunctions. And the amount of spent fuel stored in its penthouse pool is 10x what they had at Fukushima.

I used to live quite near Fukushima Prefecture. I visited four or five times, and it was one of the loveliest prefectures in all of Japan. It was very green, forested and of course there were mountains, and there was not that much industry there compared to prefectures nearer Tokyo.

I used to spend time in Vermont as a teenager. My mom would drive us to go skiing at Stratton. We lived in Connecticut, and although Connecticut is not bad, I always thought that Vermont had a cleaner and prettier natural environment, better tasting water, the snow was clean enough to eat, and people did eat it,with maple syrup on top. There were fewer cars, smaller and less showy houses than those in metroNY-suburban Connecticut.

Fukushima is now completely ruined for decades if not centuries. No one can be sure the food is safe. People have nosebleeds, their hair falls out, nails fall off and no tourists go there anymore, including me. Thousands have fled from Fukushima and nearby prefectures, including me. A friend in the town where I used to live was recently diagnosed with cancer, though she is only 44. No one can have any peace of mind, and no one can live around there without worrying. People would give anything to turn the clock back, shut down the reactors and live with less.

I sincerely hope that Vermont will protect its precious land and water, its food and its environment by shutting down the old nuclear plant before a horrible disaster wakes everybody up the hard way.

Pi - Thanks for that moving and poignant plea for sanity. And for bringing back memories of what we called jack-wax, or sugar-on-snow. The time for it is but weeks away. Only this year, so far - no snow. Very much appreciate your on the ground reports from Japan.

If the Indian Point reactors are indeed shut down, the ensuing experience should be instructive. The nukes provide about 25% of the electricity consumed in New York City and Westchester County. So far, those areas' strategy appears to be to buy up power from the PJM: the Neptune Transmission project is up and running, with 660-MW HVDC capacity from the coast of New Jersey out to Long Island, and ground has been broken for the Hudson project that will provide a 660-MW HVDC link from norther NJ to Manhattan. It remains to be seen if the PJM areas have sufficient power and longer-haul transmission to meet the demand.

I don't have any data, but weren't we extending operating licenses for 40 to 60 years? This was all pre Fukushima.

Heck, railroad cars in the US built after 1974 are required to be taken out of service when they hit age 50, regardless of what they are hauling. Pre-74 railcars need engineering evaluations to determine if they can continue to be used beyond age 40 for another ten years.

While a failed railcar could cause a hazmat release, it strikes me that a nuclear release would be worse.

Regrading: Pumping Up TAPS: Four years of stability - up top.

I find that comment about "1 billion barrels per day of oil production effectively dried up and there was virtually no effect on world oil prices” particularly amusing coming from inside the US (Alaska). It's closer to a million barrels a day.

Apparently the author was also not trying to be funny by saying that "I’d rather say that we will work things out with the economic situation in the next three to four years, and there will be no major crisis in the Middle East." Seems that we have an economic crisis already if not also a Mideast one - and the four year period just got started.

Anyway the author did not notice that Brent oil prices rose about 50% from the lows of late 2010 to their late Spring 2011 peaks - after that 1 million bpd from Libya left the market. Prices only started dropping after rumors - and later confirmation - of a 60 million barrel release of oil from IEA countries dampened world oil prices.

I thought Japan's demand for crude oil dropped by over 1 Mb/d a month after the disruption in Libyan supply due to the earthquake and tsunami. Because the Japanese got shortages, the rest of the world did not get an oil price spike.

Err ... not quite.
Better story of Japan's oil imports at
There was usual significant seasonal decline in imports in 2011 that took place before earthquake and the the earthquake-related drop in imports was strictly temporary with recovery by August. See figure 1.

Err ...
I linked to Peak Oil website because it appeared to have a straightfoward account of recent Japanese oil imports.
But I notice they use the same image as TOD on my Tab!
Something funny going on here ... anybody?

The chart shows that Japan's demand for liquid fuels dropped by ~1 Mb/d after the earthquake. It increased back toward normal in July 2011 just as the release from the SPR occurred. In February 2011 there was a draw down of finished products in Europe and USA that moderated a price spike from the disruption in Lybian crude oil. This is what I remember happening at the time.

It actually makes perfect sense. A pretty good stretch of well-populated coastline was taken off the energy grid by the tsunami, and while there was a lot of oil being spent on rescue and rebuilding the normal uses were mostly gone.

They also had at least one refinery off-line for a while for repairs from earthquake and fire damage, but I don't have a lot of details on that.

It also states:

... liquid fuels and natural gas used for power generation increased to make up for the lost nuclear generation.

We need a graph for crude oil, not liquid fuels.

We need a graph for crude oil, not liquid fuels.

I agree (crude oil imports not liquid fuel transport/heating/a.c total consumption). Sorry about that, but the following perhaps still gives an idea and a sense of proportion.
Best I can come up with is a Bloomberg report from Japanese Ministry last August 2011, which says that July had seen a 1.9% decline (~70,000bpd) in crude oil imports compared with July 2010, that is, down to about 3.5mbpd. Earlier Japanese crude oil imports in January had been at a high (3.6% higher than January 2010)@ 3.9mbpd. There seem to be regular seasonal fluctuations as well as ups and downs in economy.

In case anyone is interested Brent closed out the year with an average daily closing price of $111.26 a barrel. Below is the average price per barrel in US Dollars. The 2012 average is only for the first four trading days of this year.

	Brent Yearly Average
2000	$28.66
2001	$24.46
2002	$24.99
2003	$28.84
2004	$38.26
2005	$54.57
2006	$65.16
2007	$72.44
2008	$96.94
2009	$61.74
2010	$79.61
1211	$111.26
2012	$112.41

Brent Average Yearly Price

Ron P.

Since 1998, annual Brent prices have approximately doubled three times, with the most recent doubling occurring from 2005 to 2011. In this post, I looked at various rates of change in production and net export metrics for 2002 to 2005, versus 2005 to 2011:


If the post-1997 higher highs/higher lows pattern holds, the next year over year decline will bring us down to an average annual price of about $120.

Your numbers show that the average (Brent) oil price in 2011 was 15% higher than in 2008. I'm surprised that the airline industry managed to survive 2011. Maybe it's just a delayed effect and 2012 will be the crunch year?

I am surprised that airlines have not consolidated more as well.

I have been fortunate to make a good paycheck since I retired from my first career, am even I have balked at the price of travel, especially anything involving air travel.

But it is just not the effects of the oil price on airline seats...it is the costs of hotels, rental cars, attractions, eating out, etc. that puts me off spending money on travel...

...as well as the continual Sword of Damocles fear of losing my nice job, whilst having the large mortgage I foolishly assumed.

If that is where I am at (good job, some money in the bank)...I wonder how folks of lesser means travel...perhaps they have hefty credit card bills?

Let us see...U.S. airlines....American, Delta, United, and US Air and Southwest are the 'Majors' I believe...with some smaller fry such as Alaska, Jet Blue, etc.

I would not be surprised to see three 'Majors' in a few years...maybe US Air becomes history and its landing/gate slots are picked up amongst the other three?

Alaska Airlines seems to be doing quite well: Alaska Air profit grows....

I do the bulk of my leisure travel on Alaska Airlines. They go almost everywhere I choose to go, and I find their service pretty good (relative to other air carriers). However, their record setting "load factors", while good for the airline's proft, make for very crowded flights.

Alaska Airlines doesn't fly to Houston, but I never go their except on business, and then only when I can't avoid it. (Texas has never been my kind of place.) When I travel on business, I fly whichever airline the company buys me a ticket on.

Their route structure is bigger than I thought.


As for the load factors, if I had the money to burn, I would fly in First Class...only every did that three times, two times were a bonus upgrade due my economy seat being unavailable, and once was due to the kindness of a medical donation program.

Big seats, hot towels, more eats,free booze, and the flight attendants are much nicer to you in front...and no jostling to the back of the bus waiting each way for all the folks shoving their bags into the overheads...oh yea, and a nearby toilet serving a much smaller crowd!

Ooops...I made a mistake. Looks like Alaska Airlines has added Houston to its routes since the last time I was forced to go there.

The airlines have raised prices, cut available seat miles, and shifted the load from leisure to business travelers.

The business community will do everything it can to cut down on travel by air as times get worse and tickets grow ever more expensive. Video conferencing is evidently growing by leaps and bounds.

The demise of tourist flying will likely finish off a good portion of business flying directly-the hospitality industry won't be needing so many travelers after that.

The hotels especially in larger cities with major tourist attractions are going to be in a fix for sure;there are way too many to survive on business travelers alone.

Although it's true most of the majors are around, I think most of those have filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy since 2001. Restructured by getting rid of legacy costs ie early retirement,generous pension & lighter work loads. Next price spike in oil there will be less fat to trim.


" .... American Airlines parent AMR, one of the few major U.S. airlines to avoid bankruptcy, finally succumbed Tuesday and filed for chapter 11..."

Well, since 2008 we've had QE I & II.
The dollar has lost about 30 % of it's value since those four years ago.

That's why comparing 2008 with 2011 in nominal terms just doesn't work.

The dollar has lost about 30 % of it's value since those four years ago.

That is an absolute gross exaggeration. You just pulled that 30% right out of the air without checking anything to get the truth. And it has been three years since the end of 2008, not four. Historical Inflation in the USA

2011   3.17% (average for first 11 months)
2010   1.64%
2009  -0.34%
Total  4.47%

Ron P.

While I agree that inflation isn't as high as some folks claim, neither is it as low as the US Govt. states, who has been tweaking their numbers for years. I prefer Shadowstats to official govt. numbers. Crash Course has a great explanation, "Fuzzy Numbers", as to the how and why of govt. reported stats.

The London fix gold price was under 880 on Jan 9th 2008 And the latest fix was over 1615.

A tad under 50% "loss" in value.

Not so much a gross exaggeration as an understatement.

The inflation rate does not move up and down with the price of gold. I thought you knew that... but I guess not.

Ron P.

And we saw a material decline in Global Net Exports* (GNE) and in Available Net Exports (ANE, or GNE less Chindia's net imports) from 2008 to 2010 (we won't have annual 2011 data for a few months).

GNE fell from 44.5 mnpd in 2008 to 42.6 mbpd in 2010, a decline of 4.3%

ANE fell from 38.1 mbpd in 2008 to 35.1 mbpd in 2010, a decline of 7.9%

*Top 33 net oil exporters in 2005, BP + Minor EIA data

Re: Pumping Up TAPS: Four years of stability, up top:

It is difficult to have confidence in an analyst who makes mistakes.

“In 2008 the first recent economic recession, I could argue, was triggered by the high price of oil. It was affecting everything we were doing,” Herrera said. “However, today oil is a follower, not a leader. That was forcefully demonstrated during the battle in Libya a few months ago when 1 billion barrels per day of oil production effectively dried up and there was virtually no effect on world oil prices.”

We here know he means 1 million, but a novice reader might not. It is unfortunate if Mr. Harrera really said 1 billion that Rose Ragsdale didn't put (sic) after it or correct it. It shows sloppy editing.

If I remember correctly the Libyan crises did affect oil prices. Oil prices rose during The Arab Spring before falling in early summer:


Some might argue the timing is off, but futures markets look at the future not the past or the present. Right now they are seeing spring oil demand, Iran and Nigeria.

Furthermore, it can be argued that, while high petroleum prices were clearly a contributing factor in the recession, rising interest rates and the subsequent housing debacle played an important role. After all, rising oil prices fell quickly in late 2008, but the housing and financially crises are with us until this very day.

In 2008 oil clearly was the leader and I maintain it is still the leader even now. It was the first to regain a large portion of the 2008 drop and hold it.

If oil is not the leader what is?

“So I think oil prices will stay at the current level of between $80-$100 per barrel for the foreseeable future,” he said.

He is already wrong. We are above $100 going into spring which is normally a strong period for oil prices.

He also said oil demand from China is unlikely to change this scenario because that country has embarked on huge internal energy schemes to quench its thirst for oil. These include developing its own hydrocarbon resources and new nuclear power facilities when the rest of the world is shunning that energy source.

“China is going to do reasonable things for its own energy needs by other means than decadent use of energy like the West,” Herrera said.

TOD follows China quite closely and we know that the statement is simply false. China is following in the footsteps of the West. It is mostly buying up resources around the world to feed its industrial machine. Auto sales which have slowed recently are still the highest in the world. And a housing bubble may now be bursting just like in the West.

But Mr. Harrera's biggest mistake is comparing oil, other hydrocarbons and nuclear. Other hydrocarbons and nuclear are different and have different uses that do not ease the oil problem. Developing coal does not fill empty vehicle gas tanks. Nor does nuclear or hydro for that matter.

My conclusion is that Mr. Herrera does not know what he is talking about even if he called the oil market correctly in the past. He may have just been lucky.

Confidence in the financial system and non-tangible money is rapidly evaporating. The ones who panic first will be able to save something of their wealth. This cannot end well. This article is a must read: http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,806990,00.html

How long before almost everyone with financial assets starts thinking like these Germans? The global financial system is held together by nothing more than faith which is evaporating rapidly.

I think the trigger will be a sovereign default by one of the PIIGS followed by a large bank failure.

Luxury goods only make sense if you believe the problem will be inflation and you believe that the rich will not be hurt by it. Otherwise, gold, and useful things make more sense. If you believe that the problem is deflation, cash is king.

Interesting but the article mistakenly says Theodore Roosevelt in 1933 instead of Franklin Roosevelt.

Nevertheless, it's important to keep in mind that, at that time, gold was confiscated in order to recapitalize the banks, as a gold standard was in place. Gold was then revalued higher in order to expand the monetary base. At least that's how I understand it.

Today, you just create digital fiat money to recapitalize the banks, so no gold confiscation is necessary. Which means that most people will still be able to participate in this once in a generation bull market.

See, the government can't have it both ways. They can't simultaneously propagandize against gold yet confiscate gold. If they tried confiscating gold, or restricting it in some way, that would be a tacit admission on their part that gold is in fact quite valuable. It would simply drive it underground, and drive the price even higher.

The metals are basically in the process of establishing themselves as alternative currencies and stores of value, as you would expect in this environment of debt deflation and fiat monetization with negative real interest rates.

Correct. Gold will be the last man standing as long as we have a civilization. I feel really bad for people who don't understand this because they are going to get hurt real bad. Even people who are not "gold bugs" should buy a few ounces. What do they have to lose? The banks are not paying any interest anyway and they could shut down next week.

If one is so inclined, perhaps actual physical gold would be better than a piece of paper saying that you own gold?

Of course, then one needs to guard it (safe?).

Perhaps coins, which could be cut into pieces of eight...

Yes, physical gold and gold mining stocks. PM stocks are dirt cheap right now. This is the cheapest they have been (relative to the price of gold) since the start of the bull market. Practically no one is interested in gold mining stocks. Therefore this is a great time to buy them. I was going to buy them about a month ago but then chickened out. I will do it on Monday.

I've been hearing gold mining stocks are cheap, etc. for years, if not decades. A share certificate is only a claim on the underlying asset, often the underlying asset gets sold off and the shareholder left with a useless peace of paper. The reason this happens is due to the business running into financial difficulties, generally due to problems in the wider economy. Ownership means possession and if you don't possess it then someone else essentially owns it.

Also, remember that the law is an enormous state run coercive asset stripping machine. When things get tough it will be used by the State to survive by monetising and confiscating citizens wealth.

Gold can help you survive, what it is unlikely to do is protect your wealth. When the ponzi scheme goes down everyone loses and peoples attention turns to the wherewithal to provide the necessities of life. Gold can be traded for necessities, but the exchange rate is likely to be very poor as it is essentially being liquidated to purchase essentials.

The future is going to be tough and it will take more than converting current ponzi wealth into some easily purchasable asset (which is itself likely to be part of the ponzi scheme). It just isn't that simple. To survive and thrive in the future is going to mean hard work in the real world, which means using energy to undertake physical transformations that enhance survival.

Burgundy is VERY likely correct when he says that "the exchange rate is likely to be very poor " in relation to trading or buying essentials with gold , given the circumstances.There might or might not be a time when there is a great deal of inflation(Personally I think this highly likely, virtually a foregone conclusion) as various governmments print money in a last ditch defense against collapse.

Gold will be a wonderful thing to have for as long as this phase of a collapse lasts.There will be plenty of opportunity to sell it and take the cash directly to the food markets and to the drugstore and the dentist.

But once ts is well and truly itf, and long distance trade is mostly a thing of the past, I find it hard to believe that somebody with a hoard of non perishable foodstuffs will be interested in trading very many beans dried beans for an inedible coin, considering the likelihood that he will be unable to replenish his stock of beans.

If I had any significant amount of gold, which I don't, I would get rid of it as soon as a runaway inflation started unless I found myself believing stability would return, allowing me to trade it and make a huge profit buying up distressed hard assets from those unable to pay off old loans due to an inability to raise any cash.Otherwise I would sell it and convert the proceeds to durable material goods -whatever kinds of goods I could easily store.

In a long term runaway inflation, a half dozen pairs of good quality work shoes are going to be worth more than an ounce of gold.There are NO shoemakers.

A few pairs of properly stored Carrhart insulated coveralls will be worth a virgin bride.A carton of fifty rounds of 9mm or 38 Special will be priceless.A drum of diesel fuel will mean that you can plow a good sized field -remember, there ARE NO DRAFT ANIMALS.

Such modest savings as I have are invested to the extent I can do so from a practical pov in durable goods.The returns so far have exceeded what I could reasonably expect to earn in any other fashion.

I don't expect it him to get better, but old man bau has suffered many a crisis that would have killed a fellow less hearty than he, and he may yet recover and keep us company for another decade or even longer.

The price of gold could fall by half or more if that happens.The last time gold fell, the price of good boots and ammo held dead steady to gradually rising IIrc..

A drum of diesel fuel will mean that you can plow a good sized field -remember, there ARE NO DRAFT ANIMALS.

Except by that time the drum will have aged and the fuel will not be good.

Better to have an oil press - to extract veggie oil for fuel and for cooking.

If you have an oil press, you can run the diesel tractor on vegetable oil. I remember farmers doing that during the 1970's oil crises.


Except by that time the drum will have aged and the fuel will not be good.

I don't think this is a problem with diesel fuel eric...within reason of course. We have six year old diesel at a remote fishing camp and it seems fine.

I would be interested in comments from folks who know the chemistry though.


Diesel fuel does have a problem with water condensation and bacteria growth (people call it "algae", but it's not) in the tanks. If you fill them to the top to keep the moisture out, and put in bacteriacide, you can store it for years.

The filters on diesel engines are good enough to take the crud out of the fuel, but if you get bacteria growing in the tanks, watch out! The bacteria is small enough to go through the filters and wear out the fuel injection pump and injectors (speaking from expensive experience).

In the case of gasoline, the lighter fractions evaporate off and the remaining heavier fractions burn too hot. It burns holes in the pistons and cylinder heads. I've seen a lot of lawnmowers wrecked because people used year-old gasoline in them. There are also some chemical reactions in the fuel that will gum up the fuel system.

In addition, the refiners change the composition of gasoline from winter to summer. Winter gasoline has more butane, and if you use it in the summer, it can vapor-lock the fuel system. In addition to not being as good for cold-starting, summer gasoline often has more water and cause fuel line freezing in winter. (Some readers are saying, "They don't put water in gasoline!" Yes they do - One of the things you did't know about the oil industry.

Bottom line: don't use old gasoline in an engine. Don't even use it for camping fuel because it will gum up your stove (speaking from experience).

But once ts is well and truly itf, and long distance trade is mostly a thing of the past, I find it hard to believe that somebody with a hoard of non perishable foodstuffs will be interested in trading very many beans dried beans for an inedible coin, considering the likelihood that he will be unable to replenish his stock of beans.

I don't think it will ever get that bad in US or Canada. Even if all the oil imports were cut off, the US still produces 9 mbpd of liquid fuels. Oil from tar sands and Bakken shale will be produced for a long time. The US has a lot of coal & NG which can converted to liquid fuel. All the US has to do is cut its per capita fuel consumption to European levels and it will be free of imported oil. I see an end to the fabled "American way of life", but not a return to 18th century living conditions.

That's a fairly hellish vision you got going there, OFM.

Why do you say, in all caps no less, "remember - there ARE NO DRAFT ANIMALS." There are plenty of draft animals, and they breed quickly. I would think a good broke pair of draft horses would be worth at least a pair of Carharts.

I have noticed a real antipathy here regarding draft animals, right down to ignoring that they were the motive force for the great majority of civilization.

Is it because they are living creatures, and most of the people here are engineering types?

"There are plenty of draft animals, and they breed quickly."


According to that, 11 month gestation, 6 months to wean, then she can start over. Call it one birth every other year. Twins are about 1/6 of births, so not much help there.

Your definition of "breed quickly" is different than mine.

Notwithstanding the 11 month gestation period, you can breed the mare on the next ovulation after birth and produce one foal a year. Mares start breeding at 2 years in the wild, although horsebreeders start them at 3 or later.

Cattle can also be used as oxen to pull plows and wagons once they are mature (an ox is usually a mature, castrated male). Cows have a shorter gestation period and can easily produce one calf a year, starting at the age of 1.

There are about 10 million horses and over 100 million cattle in the US.

I agree, PV
Two additional points:
- the majority of horses in North America are ponies & riding horses, not draft breeds (and are therefore not suitable for field work);
- owning a draft horse is a minor first step: one also needs to know how to train it and also how to set up & adjust the various horse-drawn equipment (which is much more complicated than most of us would imagine).
As George Ewart Evans lamented decades ago in the UK, there was a comprehensive, detailed horse culture which took many centuries to evolve, but only a few decades to evaporate.
Thank God for the Amish, who still know how to do such things.

Hi guys,
When collapse comes , if it comes, it will most likely come in a rush.

I do believe it could conceivably be avoided, but that more than likely, it won't, because we are not smart enough to work together to prevent it.

We are deep into overshoot, and the various thinkers who have earned my greatest respect believe ts is already irrevocably headed for the fan.It won't be peaceful.

A drum of diesel can be stored for ten years plus, a drum of alcohol free gasoline at least five, going by my own experience.E10 separates and attracts water and is hard to store, but I am confident I can make an engine run on it after five years. So you put some aside and rotate your stock.

I should not have said there are NO draft animals-there are a few of course-in this mountainous area where I live today, there might conceivably be a hundred mules and draft horses in the county , which has over twenty thousand citizens-and this many only because some old farmer remembers using one on the farm as I do, when I was a child (although I cannot ever remember when my family did not own a tractor and a truck) and keeps a mule or draft horse as a way of remembering his youth..We haven't had a draft animal in our family for nearly twenty years-we kept a mule until then for the old folks sake as it pleased them.

There are probably pleasure horses numbering upwards of a thousand,, maybe more, and a few dozen ponies, and a dozen or two dozen exotics such as llamas.The pleasure horses could be broken to harness , but they are not well suited to heavy work.The ratio of POTENTIAL draft animals to people here is probably far higher here than most places.Hence there are, for practical purposes, essentially no draft animals, given the number that would be needed.Most of us would starve before enough could be bred and trained to produce adequate amounts of food.

If we are very lucky, we will get an authoritarian government strong enough to maintain some semblance of peace , and maintain a basic functioning industrial society;there IS enough water and oil and soil and so forth to keep us all alive and fed, here in the US, albeit on more beans and a lot less meat-IF we can avoid some sort of Mad Max scenario.

Being somewhat of a cynic, and a reader of history, my bet is on a fast violent collapse; there are simply too many potential triggers for it to avoid it indefinitely.

But it might not come for a good long while, and if old man bau staggers along long enough, we will get our authoritarian government during his hopefully long drawn out demise-and in that case, relatively few of us need starve here in the US-unless maybe we are on tptb's shxt list.

The greatest paradox of industrial civilization is that we must save it, for the next couple of generations at least, if we can, to prevent it destroying us.This is our only real hope of renewables such as pv and other fairly new technologies ramping up enough to make a transition to a new economy feasible.

OFM - When the collapse comes it'll likely be televised. It is more likely you'll watch the fall of nations around the world, the increase in failed states and general misery spreading from your television set and computer screen than your window or from reporting on the radio about local events.

The most likely trigger events won't be oil but food and water and with rising costs of each with falling supplies of energy per capita it'll become increasingly difficult to provide aid to the most miserable places in the world. Without aid a lot of marginal countries will start falling over such as places in Africa and West Asia/Middle East so people will have plenty of time if they're so inclined to figure out how to make basic adjustments to their lifestyle.

ignoring that they were the motive force for the great majority of civilization.

Is it because they are living creatures, and most of the people here are engineering types?

It could be because he's actually worked with said critters and knows how little they can do.

Go read Lenin and what he said about 40HP tractors.

I've owned and worked with the critters, and know exactly how much they can do. I also know many people all over New England who farm, log, hay, etc. using horses.

Horses are not tractors - nobody's saying they are. But there are more horses, doing more work, than people here seem to want to believe.

Eric, Sgage,

Both you guys are right!I am sure that a couple of good fertile draft mares will be worth at least two blushing twin virgin daughters if collapse comes in a hurry.

The really tough problem with draft animals is that not only do you start from a low initial supply and can't ramp up FAST ENOUGH in terms of numbers of trained animals,you also have to deal with the lack of people and facilities needed to train them , feed them, shelter them, and people to actually go out in the field and look at their ass end all day, day after day,which is VERY HARD WORK.

Modern people in a country like ours are going to go for mass protests and insist that SOMEBODY ELSE look after the actual work of farming by hand, and riot when it doesn't happen.`

I've been hearing gold mining stocks are cheap, etc. for years, if not decades.

Not sure what you have been hearing but there objective measures such as the ratio of the price of gold to HUI index. Here is an example of such analysis: http://www.321gold.com/editorials/hamilton/hamilton010712.html

Except there were no actual confiscations of gold in 1933 (with the exception of one lawsuit where a man tried to withdraw a large amount of gold from Chase, Chase refused to release it - the end result was not a confiscation at all but did uphold the right of the gov't to do so). Executive Order 6102 was repealed in 1934, and since no gold was ever actually taken away, this tired old rumor should be put to bed.

so no gold confiscation is necessary.....not a confiscation at all but did uphold the right of the gov't to do so

Government policy is about control. If those in Government feel they will have 'better control' via confiscation - then that is what will happen.


China, already the world’s -second-largest bullion consumer, has installed the country’s first gold vending machine in a busy shopping district in Beijing, state media said yesterday.

in less than a year:


Tightened oversight of the gold market, including a ban on bullion trading apart from that directed through the official exchanges in Shanghai, comes after a year of volatile price moves for gold and silver. Unauthorized trading platforms have proliferated along with the boom in precious metals

Congress Considers Paywalling Science You Already Paid For

A new Association of American Publishers [AAP] backed bill – the “Research Works Act” – was just introduced by Reps Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Dareell Issa (R-CA).

This bill would not only end the NIH’s Public Access Policy, but it would forbid any effort on the part of any agency to ensure taxpayer access to work funded by the federal government.

According to MapLight, which tracks political contributions, Dutch publisher Elsevier and its senior executives made 31 contributions to members of the House in 2011, of which 12 went to Representative Maloney. This includes contributions from 11 senior executives or partners, only one of whom is a resident of her district.

This idea is not in the public interest, and it should be illegal.

We pay for it, we get to access it (without additional charge)(except for classified info).

If authors and publishing houses want to compilate different research sources and publish a paper, article, or book using this research to make a further point, then fine, have at it, publish it from private enterprise and make a profit if you can.

As long as there is an Internet or something like it, the government can publish its findings electronically...PDF will do fine.

Now, if folks want a printed copy, then the government can outsource that to private enterprise to do print-on-demand and ship to folks, for a fee covering costs and a reasonable profit.

Support the Public Library of Science. http://www.plos.org/

This government is so corrupt that it makes me laugh. Its just beyond mind boggling how far down the toilet these turds have been flushed.

Scientific Publishers - Censors of Knowledge

"On July 19th 2011, Aaron Swartz was criminally charged by the US Attorney General's office for, effectively, downloading too many academic papers from JSTOR. Academic publishing is an odd system - the authors are not paid for their writing, nor are the peer reviewers (they're just more unpaid academics), and in some fields even the journal editors are unpaid. Sometimes the authors must even pay the publishers. And yet scientific publications are some of the most outrageously expensive pieces of literature you can buy."

Of course, the politicians here are indeed hopelessly corrupt. But there is a well tried solution for that too -
Castration Might Bring Us Better Politicians

If you had to submit to this before being sworn in, I'd say that would weed out quite a few candidates who have less than pure motives...

That's a bizarre-looking instrument: its design does not seem to make much sense.

Burdizzoes are much simpler and very effective:

My late father-in-law ran a mixed livestock farm (dairy, beef & sheep) and had at least two Burdizzoes which I recall rather vividly.
He made it pretty clear that he'd be quick to use them on any smart-ass guy who screwed around with any of his 7 daughters (I prudently married one of them, saving us all from a good deal of trauma).

Rick, agreed it looks strange, but that instrument is from the Roman era, and I think I'd still wouldn't want it anywhere near my nether regions.

You are spot on about the Burdizzoes, and we used them on my farms - always felt sorry for the poor calves!
I though the rubber ring elastrators were a much more humane way to do it.

In any case, the original point of that article about eunuchs as politicians is quite interesting, and they have a long history.

At least Elsevier is trying to bribe some US politicians to do the job. In China, they just ask us to pay as much as they want. My highschool tablemate's mom works in CALIS, the body representing Chinese University libraries to meet those publishers. Do you know what is Elsevier's term for CALIS at that time? 25% annual increase in purchase of Elsevier products! Some poorer universities were forced to drop out and cut all internet access away, they have peak access to Cell far before peak oil!

Does anybody know who actually controls the scientific publishing industry?

I wouldn't be too surprised to find out it is the academic community itself, operating on the textbook model-charge the hell out of the students for new ones every years which in fields other than ones such as biology don't need new editions, especially for freshmen, more than every five to ten years.We have the net for recent advances , and it is extremely easy for a professor to assign a little reading on the net, or write up something himself.

I say this because even the faculty at Harvard (sarc) are not dumb enough to allow a bunch of capitalist/fascist parasites rip off their work for free.Just how MUCH MORE work is involved in publishing a research journal is involved, once the articles are written and peer reviewed?How much more glory would be reflected upon that august institution if it were to publish ONE MORE academic journal?

The answer to this is VERY simple-damned little-one good secretary can handle it all with a desktop computer and a bank account to pay the actual publisher of paper copies and the hosting isp.

I can't see any reason at all any reputable professor at any reputable school would not publish his work in a journal controlled by his or another university , and get together with his colleagues, and FOUND an appropriate journal, if necessary

I get thoroughly sick of hearing about how speculators can control the price of commodities such as oil.Rockman referred recently to the pundits pulling the speculator rabbit out of the hat to explain oil price fluctuations, etc

Well, take it from an old farmer, that old Speculator Rabbit is one mean rabbit-mean enough to get between the multinational and national oil companies, and their customers, and rip off a good bit of their profits, and keep them so scared they won't even complain about it.He probably catches wolverines and eats them raw , still kicking, when he goes on vacation.

Of course no doubt there are people and institutions out there who can engineer temporary price moves and profit from them to some extent- but they are part and parcel INSIDERS, who are major players in the oil industry and the banks that finance it.OPEC for instance comes to mind first of all!

Speculator Rabbit is a well constructed part of the media generated smoke screen that blinds most of us to the day to day reality of turbulent geopolitics and ff depletion, no more and no less.He is so well constructed that even seriously intelligent thinkers often believe in him.

But a little thought is adequate to throw back the curtain and let us have a look at the wizard known as Speculator Rabbit. If he can turn on or off the oil taps at the wells, or anywhere in the refining and the distribution systems , he has control of part of the oil industry himself, and is therefore by definition an INSIDER.

Iran Welcome U.S. rescue of Iranian sailors from Somali pirates:


May decent and cool heads prevail in World relations.

Africans want electricity too.

Civilian nuke power and research does not necessarily equate to or lead to a nuclear weapons program.

Allegedly, according to open Internet sources, one African country had a small number of devices but got out of that business, and another country was working on having some devices but gave up on that quest.

There are many more productive ways to spend a country's wealth (money, labor, mental skills, etc)...that is probably a big factor why the World does not have 20-40 countries armed with nuclear weapons, as some predicted back in the 60s-70s. That, and non-proliferation efforts by members of 'The Club'.

The costs are too high for any utility gained.

Even Club members (privately) recognize this, IMO...

...they are stuck with a high priesthood, sunk costs in infrastructure, and most of their level of effort in this arena is due to institutional momentum/dogmatic mind sets...a self-licking ice-cream cone of high-tech welfare, if you will...IMO.

Allegedly, according to open Internet sources, one African country had a small number of devices but got out of that business...

Assuming you're talking about South Africa, there's nothing "allegedly" about it. They admitted they had built bombs, they dismantled them, the IAEA confirmed that they had done so, and South Africa signed the non-proliferation treaties.

I am 'overly prudent' about posting about certain topics.

Having once had a high level clearance, I understand that you want to be prudent in certain areas. Even though anything I "know" is now decades old, I still believe in prudence.

MIT Technology Review has an article today on a new coal to liquid gas process being developed at Stanford Research Institute International (or SRI).


Does anybody have any thoughts? Process uses natural gas instead of water as a hydrogen source, and is said to have very low fuel and conversion plant cost, and zero carbon emissions (you still have to burn the final product). Process appears to be in early stages of development, and early projections estimate a fuel cost of around $2.82/gallon for a synthetic jet fuel. According to this source, conventional diesel has a carbon emissions level of 389 gCO2/mile. SRI claims an environmental impact of 190 gCO2/mile for their coal to diesel synfuel (using biogas as a hydrogen source).

Well... Here's what you do:

Bring up this page, hit pause, and make it the right side of the screen:

Make this page the left side:

It's a bit of work, yes.

Unpause and enjoy!

Yes, that sums it up, but I have to express my disagreement with the sides.

I think the Youtube video goes to the left, titled as "BEFORE" and Google pictures to the right as "AFTER". :-((

Yea ... and I'm not sure drilling in sensitive environments like the arctic, or in deep water (with much fewer safeguards) is looking any better. I received a very impressive pamphlet in the mail the other day: "The Past is Always Present: Review of Offshore Drilling in the Canadian Arctic: Preparing for the Future" (Dec. 2011).

If the numbers in the reports above are correct, we appear to be looking at a more affordable liquid fuel from coal, and with an environmental impact of 1/2 the carbon emissions of conventional diesel. And in the process, we may just save the artic and the world's oceans from catastrophic spills from a very expensive drilling process in remote and difficult to reach (and regulate) environments.

I'm really looking for a hard look at this technology from someone who is familiar with CTL diesel. It's going to take decades to successfully decarbonize electricity sector and bring to market cost effective and practical electric vehicles. If we can bring CTL diesel to jet planes and semi tractor hauling (without industrializing the arctic or deep ocean floor), while continuing to work on zero carbon alternatives for residential and consumer sector (all with a very low price), I think we might be saying somethin'!!

This looks like a much simpler process. The advertised price point is nice. When the price of fuel goes way up, all these alternatives become attractive. When economies decline, the consumption driven aspect of price falls back below that trigger point. Those with enough money will always have fuel. Add in a continuing string of little discoveries... and the sharp edge of physical liquid fuel decline seems to blur even more.

It is a high temperature process starting with coal, natural gas (methane) and water. Development adds lead-time. The rational thing to do would be to start many such programs in parallel with our efforts to start new wars and to turn our currency into an emergency heating fuel source of its own.

Cool... I've said nothing in nine sentences...

Looking at the flow diagram:

The process is a gassifier making syngas. The syngas is then reacted into methanol. The methanol is further processed with outputs of gasoline, propane, and propylene. The propylene is processed into jet fuel. The question is asked as to whether the process could deal with oil shale. Oil shale is like a poor-quality coal.

SRI's news release:

Process flow diagram:

So, the actual action is a gasifier. The entire rest of the flow diagram is an embodiment of a syngas (mostly carbon monoxide and hydrogen: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syngas ) to fuel conversion chain. Claims are made for this chain including making less carbon dioxide (CO2). A claim made for the gasifier is that it can function without the heat of oxygen-fed combustion that is found in typical gasifiers.

Bigger version: http://newenergyandfuel.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/SRI-CTL-Compared-...

It really is quite different than Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis (FTS).
It is a version of the methanol synthesis means of coal-to-liquids.

Fischer-Tropsch coal-to-liquids starts with coal and water heated with the combustion of coal and oxygen in the gasifier. This makes the syngas that is fed into the FTS process. The FTS makes alkanes of various chain lengths: hydrocarbon chains with a hydrogen at each end ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alkane ): H-CH2-CH2-CH2-...-CH2-CH2-H. Octane has a chain length of 8, for example.

SRI's process starts with coal, methane, and water. The coal supplies the carbon ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal ). The methane, CH4, ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methane ) supplies part of the hydrogen. "SRI’s new process, developed in response to a DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) solicitation (DARPA-BAA-08-58)( https://www.fbo.gov/?tab=documents&tabmode=form&subtab=core&tabid=d8d3f0... ), is based on the co-gasification of coal and methane. The coal first decomposes into volatiles and char while CH4 is converted into CO/H2 mixtures; the char is converted into CO/H2 mixtures via steam gasification on longer time scales." ( http://www.greencarcongress.com/2011/12/srictl-20111220.html ). "In SRI’s process, methane preheated to 600 °C displaces much of the water required, thus reducing the unwanted reaction with the coal. The methane also reduces the amount of heat absorbed by the gasification process, eliminating the need for oxygen and combustion to maintain the 1,400 to 1,500 °C temperatures the process requires." ( http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/39430/ ) This line also exists out there in internet land: "Using natural gas eliminates the need to add water as a source of hydrogen, reduces the need to add energy to drive the gasification reaction, and results in the use of a smaller gasifier." That implies that all of the hydrogen comes from the methane. If true, this would mean that the process would only double the number of molecules input with the methane. Another quote has the process using 70% less water than FTS CTL. So... I'm having trouble following the hydrogen supply without more work. These reactions not heat the reactor as much as oxygen reactions do in FTS GTL. Because of this, a detail of the proposal is to add additional make-up heat to the mix with electric resistive heaters. These two things together reduce the amount of CO2 the SRI CTL is claimed to make. The process is also claimed to use less water.

A debate exists as to whether oxygen-fired heating can be avoided in a scaled-up version of the lab demo.

The crud* is stripped out of the syngas, just like in the FTS CTL chain, including ammonia ( http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/chemweek/pdf/ammonia.pdf ). Then the syngas is converted to methanol.

In the the flow diagram, methanol is converted into jet fuel: the result sought by government funding. Jet fuel has hydrocarbon chain lengths of 8-16 or 5-15 long. "Chain" is kind of a simplification because the groups of carbon atoms also want to form into ringed structures ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_fuel ). Gasoline is has chain lengths between 4 and 12 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline ). Diesel is, similarly, a mix of 10 to 15 CH2 molecule-long hydrocarbon chains ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diesel_fuel ). Propane is 3 CH2s long with a hydrogen at each end: C3H8 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propane ). C3H6, also having 3 carbons in a chain, but structurally different, is propylene ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propylene). Propylene is the product of the process flow just before jet fuel.

Just the gasifier alone might be useful in stationary applications running on producer gas: syngas made and then immediately used ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Producer_gas ). It then becomes an energy multiplier for natural gas ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_gas ), which is mostly methane, using water and coal. Compared to natural gas alone, how much energy is had in addition after gasifying coal in this manner and spinning a generator on some of it to supply the process with its electric heat? This is the same as asking how much of the hydrogen is coming from the water part of the mixture loaded into the heated reactor.

Could the process run with propane? I'm guessing no. Could be wrong: Methane and propane both only have two hydrogens to give-up directly to the creation of another CH2 unit. Further, my thinking has not been in terms of making the hydrogen and carbon monoxide feedstock, syngas. It would be fun if SRIs novel gasifier could be used to multiply the value of propane in a stationary application, like home/farm power generation, or in a car or truck, with carbon from wood/cellulose... The process wants water anyway, so would wet wood do?... Sorry... Woodgas is just too much fun...

On water in coal gasification:

*The mercury is similarly removed, perhaps in an activated carbon bed. The syngas is then fed into a process called "Selexol" that removes CO2 and H2S.

Here is another process referenced in idyl's first link:

It sounds like the challenge for scalability is to make the slower reaction competitive with quicker processes using water and that emit CO2. The DOE document on LPMEOH methanol synthesis states the following: "The amount of MeOH conversion through the LPMEOH reactor can be increased with internal recycle, C02 removal, and water addition options." So it's hard to see where the incentives will be to not use water and CO2 removal options in scaling methanol production from coal and natural gas to a larger scale?

Electricity shortages appear to be getting worse in India if this story is true. Gurgaon is not a backwater but a modern, hi-tech city built from scratch in the last 10 years. It is close to the capital New Delhi. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/12-hour-power-cuts-cripp...

holy crap has anyone actually bothered to read this? im sure most republicans have similar plans. total ignorance http://mittromney.com/jobs/energy

It's the primary, every GOP candidate is running to the Right to secure the nomination. The General Election is a whole nuther ball of wax. The only concern here is to protect your flank and not expose your belly to attack ads down the road. Romney has shown he's incapable of sticking to any consistent thread, if it's oil one day it's renewables the next (and reason and analysis gets thrown out the window for self-promotion, stoking media fires, and expediency).

Mitt knows he will have to tack left (or centerward) once he secures the nom. I'm not paying much attention, but I thought he was taking a bit of care not to leave too many juicy "extreme" statements for the Dems to run with (against). The others should all view the nom as a longshot, so why not just go for broke.

The Mitt Master has a more detailed plan for American Energy "Independence" in his freely downloadable book Believe in America. (Yes, I have bothered to read it.)

The Cute Newt charges money for his book. (Never miss a chance to make a buck, even if it is the American people that you f... -finagle the money out of.)

As I read that, I happened to be listening to the Sunday Morning CBS TV news. Newt was saying that Romney is a liberal just like Obama.

Humans are devolving. Scary, isn't it?

"Russians are leaving the country in droves"
From the article:
a relatively stable country, though one awash in corruption and increasing limits on personal freedoms.
economic strictures are the prime motivation. With inflation on the rise, and the country's GDP stuck at an annual 3% growth rate the last three years — compared with 7% to 8% before the global economic crisis
"as a scientist I couldn't work there with the ancient equipment which had not been replaced or upgraded"
large numbers of educated
"People are going abroad for better college education, for better medical help, for better career opportunities,"
"The intellectual potential of the nation is being washed away, as the most mobile, intelligent and active are leaving."
"But it appears that (TPTB) couldn't care less if the most talented, the most active (people) are emigrating, because their exodus lifts the social and political tension in the country and weakens the opposition."
Among 18- to 35-year-olds, close to 40% of respondents say they'd like to leave.

Time to go.

Not a unique situation by any means. In New Zealand, 50,000 citizens left last year. Worse yet, they were concentrated in the aged 25 - 40 segment. Very high cost of living and low wage economy, no hope for young people. Pensioners never leave, people with arrest records cannot leave, and welfare recipients won't leave. We lose about 5% of our productive population every year. NZ appears to be earmarked for corporate farming and as a retirement village for the global 1% - which in reality is more like the 0.1%.

Is NZ's population declining in numbers?

NZ's population is growing due to high fertility rates among the welfare recipients (almost 10% of the population) and the importation of cheap labour from the Asia/Pacific. There are smaller numbers of semi-wealthy British retirees coming in as well.

I'd say that's pretty typical of countries that allow emigration. About 3 million people a year leave the U.S., the biggest group between 25 to 34 years old. It usually is the young adults who leave. I suspect there's some underlying biology involved. In many species, it's usual for young adults to leave their natal areas and seek their fortunes elsewhere.

Actually it isn't that bad. Whilst we're 'losing' some qualified people we're also gaining them at the same time, likely more than we're losing. A lot of the 50,000 people going overseas are actually unqualified and are seeking the much higher minimum wages over in Australia.

In the longer term as a resource extracting country with decent renewable supply we ought to do ok relative to much of the rest of the world. With a rising population and affluence in places like China the value of natural resources are going to increase relative to manufacturing and it is likely to tip the balance of power back to countries which are resource rich if manufacturing poor. Milk, timber, fish etc will likely increase in value so the balance of trade is likely to improve in the near future as well. It is simple logic to say in a world with an abundance of people and a lack of resources that the countries with more resources and fewer people will do better on a per capita basis.

I looked up NZ population increase on the Mazama Science Population ata Browser:


In round numbers, NZ population doubled in the 60 years between 1950 and 2010, with an 11% increase between 2000 and 2010. Standing at ~ 4.2M as of 2010.

According to this Wikipedia article,


Population density (per square km):

World (land, excluding Antarctica): 52

United Kingdom: 255

New Zealand: 16

Two ways to look at it:

1. NZ has a lot of room for growth, bring it on!


2. Protect a good thing while you still have it.

I go for option 2, always option 2. I like being able to go down to the beach and be the only one on it for miles around. I personally don't see the advantage of extra people coming into my country when everything which makes it a great place to live is due to it having a relatively low population.

Doe the majority of Kiwis and their elected government agree, and further, are they enacting polices to make it so?

It is really hard to say. The lucky thing is that BAU will likely break down before population becomes a problem so it isn't something which I spend time worrying about.

I lived in NZ for two years, and still vacation there fairly regularly. It always astonishes me that Australia has 22 million (and growing) while NZ has about 4 million. I remain perplexed that it isn't the other way round.

Australia has ancient, poor soils, a critical shortage of water in many regions, plus vast deserts and wet-dry tropics where nothing can effectively be grown. The surrounding seas are mostly weak for fishing. Plus much of the country is brutally hot and dusty.

NZ on the other hand is a rich, verdant, fertile, well-watered place, with a moderate climate - and essentially empty. And while I wouldn't wish the world to have more human being, it seems to me that NZ is one special place that would benefit from a few more - its low wages might then be addressed.

It is only about 50-60 years since NZ (and indeed Australia) were at the top of the per capita income ladder ... something happened (and the rest of the world caught us).

Anyway - when TSHTF, NZ is one place I would definitely like to be.

Where are these people going? From Russia? From NZ? Where is the net migration of 25 y.o.'s positive? Or are they trading countries?

Don't know about the Russians, but a lot of Kiwis head to Australia - permanently. There is free movement between the two countries, with no visas required, and no bars to employment or residency. NZ was almost a state (or two states) when Australia was federated in 1901.

The flow of young adults is definitely east to west however - wage rates and the higher cost of living in NZ ensure that happens.

Natural gas fuel of choice for transportation providers

Larry West, the executive director of Scott Appalachian Industries, couldn't find a local supply of natural gas for the 16-vehicle fleet he is retrofitting, so he decided to build his own.

"Here we are in Scott County, with natural gas underground, and we're bringing oil and buying it from countries that don't even like us," West said, adding the organization saves about $1.80 per gallon without losing any efficiency.

"The economy has really suppressed a lot of interest by fleets," said Jonathan Overly, executive director of the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition, an advocacy group. "Even when sometimes a reasonable ROI is there, the capital isn't."

West will spend $5,000 to $10,000 per vehicle to transition to compressed natural gas, a technology he used in the 1980s until his local source disappeared. He estimates he will save about $3,000 per year in fuel and maintenance costs.

Financing the new technologies can be difficult. Funds from federal grant programs are no longer available, he said.

Some money may trickle down to fleet owners from TVA's settlement of charges by the Environmental Protection Agency that TVA violated the nation's Clean Air Act.

The bottom line is that converting truck fleets to natural gas is cost-effective (saving $1.80 per gallon), but companies do not have the money to do it due to a depressed economy, and zero government money is available (other than pollution penalties from coal-burning power companies).

West will spend $5,000 to $10,000 per vehicle to transition to compressed natural gas, a technology he used in the 1980s until his local source disappeared. He estimates he will save about $3,000 per year in fuel and maintenance costs.

That cost is beyond ridiculous!

As most people here probably know, I'm not a big believer in the future of BAU nor do I believe LNG is a magic bullet, but still...


Quanto custa a conversão típica de um veículo?

A conversão típica oscila entre R$ 2.500,00 e R$ 3.500,00 podendo variar de acordo com a configuração e a capacidade de armazenamento desejada pelo usuário.

1 Brazilian real = 0.5385 US dollars

A typical car conversion costs less than US $2000

R$3,500 = US $1,885

Here's an example of a conversion done on an 8 cylinder Jeep grand Cherokee done in Sao Paulo.


Can a truck conversion really be up to 5 times more expensive?!

BTW. Brazil has had Triflex fuel vehicles available for purchase to the general public since 2006... Quo vadis USA?

Brazil shows "what the gov. is for"
or at least a valid idea..........

I'll give you an example. I've noted a few times that you can stroll into most car dealerships in Brazil today and buy a tri-flex car. That is, the same car can run on any mix of gasoline, ethanol and natural gas. (There are two fuel tanks - one for ethanol and/or gasoline and one for natural gas.) You can then drive that vehicle into any number of fueling stations and fill up with whatever fuel is going to get you the most miles (er, kilometers) for your dollar (er, real). The technology to run cars on a number of different fuels, which you won't see in the US for a very long time, is marketed under such exotic brand names as GM, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen and Fiat to name a few. (Look 'em up if you haven't heard of 'em.)

I've posted on how it came to be that Brazilians have choices that Americans do not, namely to buy a tri-flex vehicle. The Brazilian government wanted to reduce the country's dependence on gasoline, but it realized that nobody would buy a car that ran on a fuel other than gasoline if there was no place to buy that fuel, and hence no manufacturer would make such cars. The government also realized that Shell and Esso and Texaco (remember them?) weren't going to start selling other types of fuel because there weren't enough cars on the road that could use those fuels. But the Brazilian government owned an oil company that had a chain of gas stations. One fine day, that chain of gas stations started selling ethanol even though there was no market for it. It wasn't profitable. It was insane. No private company would have done something that stupid. But the result, a few decades later, is that about 80% of cars sold in Brazil in 2010 were flex-fuel. Guess what percentage of cars sold in the US in 2010 were tri-flex?

Rothbard would never approve of what the Brazilian government did. Neither would Goldberg. Personally, I like having choices. I wish I could pick among three different fuels for my car and go with whichever is cheapest. I suspect that in a few decades, when that technology finally arrives in the US, Goldberg might like having those choices too.

Even though I am a native born Brazilian, I don't support everything the Brazilian Government has ever done, but at least for a while now it has made a serious attempt to give the Brazilian people some alternatives. Funny how the major automobile manufactures all sell Triflex fuel vehicles there, eh?

A decade after deregulation, Alberta’s electricity prices are soaring

Consumers who aren’t signed up to contracts could end up paying nearly twice as much for their power this month as those who are. They paid 13 cents per kilowatt-hour in December, and are now paying 15 cents in January, nearly 100 per cent more than they were paying this time last year.

Driven by supply problems, Alberta electricity prices are now among the highest in the country.

But Nykiel, who lives on a fixed income, refuses to sign a contract because he doesn’t want to be locked in at a high rate if prices drop. He is no fan of deregulation.

“It’s not working to our advantage, for sure,” he says.

See: http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/alberta/decade+after+deregulation+Albe...


Consumers paying price of deregulation
Alberta's power privitazation brought industry investment but also roller coaster power bills for residents

Alberta's foray into electrical deregulation is either "a raging success" or "a dismal failure," depending on who you ask or what study you read.

While Alberta's power producers are trumpeting the success of the move to market competition - additional generation and private investment - consumers facing skyrocketing electricity bills this winter can't fathom how that can be.

An annual survey by Hydro Quebec suggests Alberta prices in early 2011 were among the highest in Canada and they have increased substantially since then.

See: http://www.calgaryherald.com/technology/Consumers+paying+price+deregulat...


It's fairly obvious that the Alberta government screwed up the deregulation process. It exposed consumers to the ups and downs of the unregulated North American electricity market with no rational basis to pick a plan from the limited choices available.

The province's coal-burning power plants are nearing the end of their lives - many of them will have to be decommissioned soon. With the uncertainty over greenhouse gas regulations, utilities aren't building new coal-burning power plants, or even doing proper maintenance on their existing ones. As a result, power plants break down, utilities have to import emergency electricity from BC Hydro or SaskPower at steep rates, and under deregulation they just pass the costs straight through to the consumer.

Natural gas is cheap at the moment, but utilities aren't sure it will stay cheap forever. Alberta's natural gas production is declining so they don't want to commit themselves to building big NG plants with a commitment to long-term financing. There have been lots of NG peaking units built, but they are small and inefficient for base-load power.

Wind power is available, and investors are standing ready to finance new wind farms, but this requires lots of transmission lines to be built to balance the grid, and landowners are objecting. The provincial government doesn't want to run roughshod over them and build transmission lines across their properties over their dead bodies, which is what would required. The existing transmission lines are overloaded, running hot, and losing electricity to increased resistance.

And, as the article notes, Alberta doesn't subsidize electricity production, which differentiates it from the vast majority of Canadian provinces. The consumers have to bear the full costs of new generating capacity which is required because of economic growth. The economy is booming ahead due to high oil prices and the power supply isn't keeping up.

Fortunately, natural gas is cheap, so I'll just turn down the thermostats on the electric in-floor heaters, turn up the thermostat on the 97% efficient NG furnace, turn off the lights, and read using my LED headlight. If both electricity and NG were expensive, I'd have to turn down the thermostats on everything, switch the furnace to "FAN", and use it to distribute heat from the wood-burning fireplace. There's lots of beetle-killed pine available for free around here.

Paul and RMG:

Is Alberta now a good experiment/future case study to test the theory that higher electricity rates should result in lower demand through adoption of efficiencies, substitution (electric-NG-wood) and doing less with less (wearing sweaters around the house, etc. ?

Another way to more succinctly phrase the question: We should find out the elasticity of demand for electricity...I suspect the slope will be rather flat until prices get truly high.

Alberta is probably a poor case to test the elasticity of demand for electricity - The oil industry accounts for so much of its economy that electricity demand tends to follow the price of oil rather than being inversely related to the price of electricity.

In addition to that, the oil sands plants are capable of generating a large surplus of electricity as a by-product of their operations, and they would be enthusiastic about doing that. The only problem is building those d*mn transmission lines to put it into the grid.

One could break out the stats for electricity demand for users excepting the oil industry customers I suppose.

How long do you estimate that the oil sands will be production at a level near today's prodcution rates?

How long at today's production rate? About 400 years. Most likely they will step up production rates considerably so that it will last only 100-200 years.

Wow, even 'only' 100 years (at at considerably greater production rate, no less!) is remarkable.

Have TPTB up there considered building refineries nearby and selling refined products at a greater markup/profit? Build a number of nukes in the middle of the whole shebang and power the refineries, etc...maybe provide some process heat?

Charge Canadians a price that provides a healthy profit and charge us in the States at least double!

...like another poster said, finance great health care and education for your folks...while you are at it, with the awesome profits we will send you, build a bunch of first-rate health care centers and profit from us again through medical tourism...maybe you could sell Americans a health care plan for a good profit.

Instead of wasting our blood and treasure and national reputation/goodwill on our seriously misguided Middle East/South Asia entanglements, we should have done good business and kissed butt with Canada and Venezuela as a better long term strategy to have access to liquid fuels.

It's an interesting question, H, and one that's intrigued me for sometime. Various studies over the years have suggested that the long-term price elasticity of electricity is in the range of -0.7 to -1.0, but my suspicion is that the actual number is quite a bit lower. I can't speak for Alberta, but the cost and price volatility of other fuels and the relative ease with which electricity can displace its competitors are key factors. So, for example, with the price of fuel oil steadily outpacing that of electricity, nine out of ten new homes in this province are now heated electrically. Likewise, electricity is slowly chipping away at oil's share in the existing home market. Case in point: originally, our home and DHW were both heated by oil, but now our two ductless heat pumps and electric water heater supply virtually all of our needs (oil having been relegated to providing backup heat only in the event of an extended power cut, in which case we'll run our boiler off the generator). As you can appreciate, "all things being equal" seldom are.

Further, a homeowner that heats with oil (or propane or natural gas for that matter) can easily run down to Canadian Tire and purchase a couple 1,500-watt space heaters for $20.00 or $30.00 a pop; in effect, the cost of switching to electric heat, either in whole or in part, is rather modest and, consequently, electrical demand can tick-upward almost overnight. It doesn't work quite like that the other way around. If you want to substitute another fuel for electric resistance heat (e.g., wood or wood pellets), or to use it more efficiently (e.g., by installing ductless heat pumps or by undertaking various improvements to your home's thermal envelope), then be prepared to fork over several thousands of dollars to do so. The barriers to fuel substitution or fuel reduction in this case are set much higher.



That was a real informative post.

Electricity certainly has the property of being a 'portable' (easily transmissible) carrier of energy which can be generated from afar or right on-site from a multitude of fuels or from CSP/PV/Hydro etc, and versatile/scalable (ref: mechanically simple, easily portable space heaters up to ductless heat pumps etc). As oil and NG inevitably deplete, what is left? Coal home heating? Coal more likely will be used for e generation, coal-to-liquids, industrial feedstock...

Wood? Certainly, but only to a point.

Places proximate to hydro and sunny places for PV and CSP will have opportunities; same with areas with sufficient wind...otherwise it will be ole king coal and NG peakers for a while, and nuke...with nuke being the only potentially enduring option of those three...assuming we can maintain expertise and infrastructure.

JSOnline (major Wisconsin newspaper) has a story out this morning on families paying record amounts for gasoline (duh). The comment section is obviously where the action is. Some guy was complaining because he drives over 100 miles commuting to work. Lots of comments blaming Obama, lot of comments saying we need to build the pipeline (wouldn't that increase prices?). Didn't see any blaming peak oil. Its scary how dumb people are.


And the picture that tells the story from the article

I suppose it's a safe assumption that diesel, heating oil, and petrol prices would have been even higher had the N.E. U.S. not been enjoying such a balmy Fall/Winter season so far?

The weather has been unbelievably warm here in N. Iowa too. Also very dry with virtually no snow on the ground. The forecast is for more of the same. Very unusual.

Part of the rise in gas prices is the elimination of the the $.45 blenders credit. Oil companies now have to pay more tax and are simply raising gas prices by 4.5 cents a gallon to cover the increased taxes.

Ethanol opponents thought they were gaining something in abolishing this subsidy for oil companies which has been wrongly called an ethanol subsidy since its beginning. It is now obvious that this subsidy went to oil companies and not a dime of it went to ethanol producers.

The new reality is that oil companies who were the beneficiary of the blenders credit have simply raised gasoline prices to cover the lost credit and maintain profit margins. They can get away with it because they have monopoly power over liquid fuel distribution. Consumers have gained nothing overall. In fact they have lost and will be paying more.

Elsewhere, there is more scare talk coming out of Iran about closing the Strait of Hormuz and this is affecting crude and gasoline prices:


Strait of Hormuz powder keg: US-Israel to meet Great Prophet?


Iran stand-off could trigger oil price spike
Fears of another oil price spike are climbing as the war of words between the West and Iran intensifies.


SocGen Lays It Out: "EU Iran Embargo: Brent $125-150. Straits Of Hormuz Shut: $150-200"


Iran can readily replace EU oil customers:


Iran oil ban could herald economic disaster for Europe: energy experts:


What? It's now obvious that the blender's credit was passed on to the consumer and the oil companies were a conduit.

Thank you.
More complex than I knew but feet of snow to be pushed around would certainly have been an aggravating multiplier I would guess!

Warm indeed, the first night of Winter here in the Boston area I climbed into my car at 10 p.m. and the thermometer read 48*....a little unusual for these parts....it was 60* here yesterday.

Similar here on the left coast. Today is a dissapointment after yesterdays 64 -if might only hit 60 or 61! Its basically due to the AO Arctic Oscillation) -or maybe the AO just measures it. In any case it is near a record maximum, after being near a record minimum the last two winters. The past few years its been eith one extreme or the other, and the longer this goes on the more suspicious I am that this is caused by the low seaice levels. Maybe we are now in a world where winters are always epic. Sometimes epic as in real winter, and sometimes epic as in "feels like spring". Maybe good old fashioned normal winters are a thing of the past?

Meanwhile, this is supposed to be the green season here in California. Its turning into a desert, with virtually no chance of rain anytime soon.

A outside chance of rain next weekend in NorCal.
I just got back from steelhead fishing in Del Norte and Hum--- it is scary beyond belief, the water as low as I have ever witnessed this time of year.

Imagine the screams of these people when the Straits of Hormuiz becomes impassable due to "war" in the Middle East? These prices will be "the good old days"

"Controversy grows over proposed sand mine near Starved Rock".


"UTICA -- A sand-mining operation slated for land next to Illinois’ most visited state park has sparked controversy in La Salle County.

Mississippi Sand LLC of Maryland Heights, Mo., wants to mine St. Peter sandstone from a 350-acre parcel of farmland just east of Starved Rock State Park on the Illinois River near Utica.

Mining of sand or gravel occurs elsewhere in the area, but opponents of the latest project say the mine’s proximity could harm local tourism and the ecology of the park."

The sand will be used for fracking of gas wells.

German Jobs Boom in Renewable Energy Questioned

... While the installation of solar panels in Germany has jumped in recent years, it is down to a subsidy system financed through levying a surcharge on consumers' energy bills, ...

At the same time, the system has proved particularly beneficial for Asian producers of solar panels which are less costly than those produced in Germany.

According to a study last year by Stuttgart University's Institute for Energy Industry and Efficient Energy Use, the end of nuclear energy by 2022 will have a limited negative impact on jobs in the short term.

"But by 2025 job losses of about 185,000 people will be recorded here too," it said.

Record Air Pollution Hammers Calif's Ag Heartland

... A dry December and January has stagnated air across California, but nowhere is the situation more serious than between Modesto and Bakersfield, where nearly every day dirty air has exceeded federal health standards.

It's the worst air quality recorded in a dozen years, and it's the unhealthiest kind- microscopic, chemical-laden particles that can get into lungs and absorbed into the bloodstream to create health risks in everyone, not just the young and infirm.

Air quality advocates have argued for years that the local air district's focus on fireplace burn bans ignores other major sources of industrial pollution, such as dairies, feed lots and oil rigs.


[b]2011 was driest year on record for Texas, second hottest[/b]


[b]Graph of the Day: Projected Soil Moisture Anomalies, 2046-2100[/b]

These graphs remind me of the IPCC's projections that total sea ice loss would not happen till near the end of the century or later, but then the '07 collapse happened and the ensuing disintegration of ice mass and at this point it could happen any year now.

So here. It looks to me as if the second map is already what we have in TX and Mexico. Everything is moving along much faster than nearly anyone expected.

For those interested in the topic, I recommend the last article leanan posted above on Arctic methane, especially the comments section. The problem with the lead article is that direct observations suggest we have already exceeded the 'worst case' posed by the author.

We can only hope that the methane increases reported are mistakes, or are somehow going to be self limiting and not the beginning of an exponential feedback.

Meanwhile, global industrial society just keeps making things works at an increasingly massive rate--there was a 6% jump in the rate of increase in global CO2 emissions last year, iirc. We seem to be determined to utterly seal our and our children's doom.

RealCimate has a peice on arctic methane. Go over there are read it. It doesn't sound like an end of world situation. They are more worried about the CO2 emissions. Methane becomes CO2 once it oxidizes. At worst (according to present thinking), carbon releases from a warming arctic will efectively increase the effect of human carbon emissions -perhaps by as much as 50%. Not an end of the world scenario, but clearly the end of realistic hopes for holding warming to 2C.

"RealCimate has a peice on arctic methane."

Ummm, yeah. That's what I was just referring to.

There is disagreement even among the scientists there about how large a role Arctic methane may play.

The people who have spent the most time up there, folks like Semiletov and Shakhova, are saying things are changing fast. We all await their full report eagerly, but without seeing that, it is premature to say what the worst case scenario may be.

And of course increasing human carbon emissions by 50% is no wonderful thing either, especially when you consider:

--higher sensitivity to doubling of CO2 that has been proposed,
--other feedbacks that are certain to kick in,
--the fact that global dimming has been shielding us from the full effects of GW so far,
--the speed at which things in the Arctic have accelerated beyond where anyone thought they could go just a few years ago...

Holding things to 2C is not in the cards at this point, as far as I can see.

Thanks for posting the Horizon programme. I guess..... :-}
Add that one to the pile that will never be shown on MSM here.
I don't know if I missed any estimation of where we would stand right now minus GD, but I would guess if just three days minus only vapor trails (post9/11) made such a measurable difference, it wouldn't be pretty.

At one point toward the end of the program they suggest that if you take away global dimming, you get 5 degrees C beyond the 5 degrees already predicted by the end of the century following the higher-end BAU scenarios (like the one we seem to be following) for a total of 10 degrees C warmer by the end of the century. (Keep in mind that those models also don't factor in 'slow' carbon cycles like methane and CO2 from permafrost melt and methane clathrates, so add another 5 degrees or so for those, if not much more). Such levels are well beyond the catastrophic.

RC did a bit on the 'aerosol parasol' back a ways and iirc correctly claimed that it could be shielding us from as much as 2 degrees C of warming already.

It's bad, folks, no matter how you cut it.

Somehow I am skeptical that an emission of methane from Arctic lakes that is 100 times the amount reported in 2007, is anywhere near the worst case scenario. David at Real Climate is totally ignoring methane emission from the Arctic Ocean.

He has very good arguments for why they shouldn't escalate substantially. Firstly you have to realize that once the sea covered permafrost, that the overlying water is already much warmer than the covered ground (the permafrost/hydrates are well below freezing point, the water is at/above freezing (even in an ice age climate). These have been covered by "warm" water for thousands of years. The warming up of the hydrates ocurrs over that sort of time scale. Thermal transfer through sediments is pretty slow, the annual temperature wave only penetrates a couple of meters, and as the thickness increases the time span needed goes as the square of the thickness. This really should be a slow process -even if the water warms up a few degrees C.

So the doomsday scenario seems farfetched. The more prosaic, GW according to recent understanding has gotten worse is the important takehome.

Many good points. But keep in mind a few others as well:

--The Arctic is warming much faster than anywhere on earth.

--The Arctic Ocean's total ice volume has essentially collapsed in the last few years.

--The corresponding fall in ice extent means that waves action has increased which can churn water to the bottom especially in the shallow continental shelf.

--The open water absorbs heat during the summer.

--Warm ocean currents are intruding ever further into the Arctic Ocean.

--We don't know what the range of dynamics will be in a newly mostly ice free summer Arctic Ocean.

--Previous warming climate shifts were set off by slight changes in warming from Milankovich cycles triggering large, ongoing feedbacks involving especially methane.

--Some of these shifts have been quite sudden.

--Most of the methane is right at the destabilization zone of about 200 meters deep and a couple degrees below freezing.

--Changes in salinity as well as changes in temperature can destabilize the hydrate.

--Destabilization in one area can trigger destabilization in adjacent areas in a process that NASA has described as zipper-like.

--According to many reports, there are pools of free methane ready to bubble up once the methane that caps them start to destabilize.

--Once this process starts in earnest, it is not clear that there is any way to stop it, since the escaping methane will further warm the area (and eventually the globe) and prompt further melting.

--There are probably trillions of tons of methane hydrate in the seabed of the Arctic Ocean, 1400 Gts estimated in the vast and shallow East Siberian Arctic Shelf alone.

--In shallow areas like these, there is not much opportunity for the methane to dissolve in the water.

--Methane is 105 times the GW potential of CO2 at decadal time frames.

--The heating from the extra release will make it even more certain that many other feedbacks will ensue, from release of carbon from drying soils, to forest death, to heating the ocean enough that it won't absorb any more CO2 and may instead start to emit it...

And even if, as you suggest, this process were to take a long time to get going, once started it will likely continue till all the methane is released, dooming the planet to an even harsher future than our enormous mass of ff carbon has done already. And some of us (including Archer, apparently, from some of his responses to posters at the RC thread) are concerned about these long term consequences.

Not entirely related but I happened to see the latest NASA temperature anomaly readings for November.


So far 2010 has been the hottest year on record and temperature anomaly has been essentially flat for past six years barring 2010.

It's probably a short term phenomenon raising the prospect that in next few years we could see a more dramatic rise in global temperatures

Longer term trend remains intact

Keep 'em coming WI.
The more who pay attention I hope the better.
The last 25+ years since I began to pay attention have gone in a flash.
Was just thinking that places of ancient soil fertility, populations and civilisations like yours and China must face unbelievable risks. A third of the planet's population - hardly canaries in the coal mine - if seasonal circulation gets even an episode or so of disturbance?

Thanks. I have also noticed that Indian Monsoons tend to fail whenever a major El-Nino event occurs, and since El-Nino gets magnified by global warming, it does not bode well for my country.

There are already plenty of inter-state conflicts between upper and lower riparian areas due to water scarcity, a prolonged spell of drought (~6-7 years) would ignite civil war here.

WI, did you look at the global dimming video. The biggest concern was that the effect could shift the monsoons permanently southward so as to permanently miss the Indian subcontinent completely.

But now rapidly addressing global dimming (removing the 'aerosol parasol') will cause a spike in global warming which, as you say, could have the same effect.

There are no good options, but for the off chance that we can still ameliorate slightly the long term prospects for our own and other species futures, we should be reducing both as soon as possible.

Some posts from Technology Review

New CTL process:


New PV manufacturing process:


Old man BAU, as many others here have said, may keep on shuffling along a ways yet...

Amazing Video – 800,000 Years Of CO2 In 3 Minutes


This BBC Horizon documentary is well worth watching …

It suggests that the true impact of the warming effect of greenhouse gases is being masked and offset by the albedo effect from atmospheric pollutants.


Latin America Battling Wildfires, Floods, Droughts

CHIA, Colombia — From Chile to Colombia to Mexico, Latin America has been battered recently by wildfires, floods and droughts.

For many witnessing the extreme weather in the region and around the world, the question that comes up again and again is whether climate change is playing a role. The response from experts: Probably.

While leading climate scientists are unable to pin any single flood or heat wave solely on climate change, experts say the number of extreme weather events is increasing worldwide and the evidence suggests global warming is having an impact.


In clinical terms, it's humankind's biggest environmental experiment ever. I suppose collectively we are all saying, "Let's see where it goes."

Dohboi, I was somewhat familiar with dimming, but had no idea the effect was so pronounced! That is a great segment on the topic. GW & GD are offsetting to some degree, yet with some warming anyway. If their figure of 10% dimming is true, then really hard to see how this situation turns out ok no matter how we move forward from here. Like what they said near the end, "This is not a prediction, but rather a warning." In other words, we're not guessing anymore, we know what the stakes are, and we change dramatically how we do business or we are in for one heck of a ride.

Article on a Japanese government-commission report on the Fukushima nuclear incidents.


This sentence struck me as remarkable:

Meanwhile, across Japan, 48 of 54 nuclear reactor remain out of service, almost all because of safety fears.

They must have cut waaay back on load demand, and/or had a lot of idled/underused other power plants waiting in backup.

How would the U.S. fare if it lost a similar percentage of its nuke reactors?

How would the U.S. fare if it lost a similar percentage of its nuke reactors?

Some places/markets would not be effected at all.

The more interesting question would be the effect when plants fail via meltdown or are subjected to bombing/attack as has been demonstrated in the past.

The economy would take it on the chin-due to faster rising coal and ng prices and also to shortages of electricity, if I am correct in believing we do not have adequate back up capacity to replace the nukes.

Furthermore, we apparently don't have adequate transmission capacity to move coal and gas fired production from such places as do have idle coal and gas plants to the markets currently served by the nukes.

Of course I might be wrong on both counts-all I know about these things is what I have gleaned by reading this site and a few other similarly oriented ones.