Drumbeat: January 21, 2012

Growing U.S. energy output a threat to Canada

While the media fixates on the political spin around the Obama government’s rejection of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, there’s another, more important element to this story that has been grossly underplayed: growing domestic U.S. oil production, which will slash U.S. dependence on imported oil in the years ahead.

After decades of decline, U.S. oil output is growing rapidly again, thanks to the use of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) technology to open up previously untapped tight oil or shale oil deposits. (So much for Peak Oil theory.)

Oil Declines to One-Month Low on Chinese Manufacturing, Europe Concern

Oil fell to the lowest level in a month as Chinese manufacturing contracted and negotiations to resolve Greece’s debt crisis entered a third day, fanning concern that Europe’s economy will slow.

Oil declined 1.9 percent as the preliminary January reading of a Chinese purchasing managers’ index showed the country’s manufacturing declined for a third month. The euro weakened as talks in Athens on debt swaps resumed. Prices extended losses after sales of previously owned U.S. homes grew less than expected.

Gasoline Supplies at 10-Month High

The U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory release showed an unexpected decrease in crude inventories on the back of lower imports, though product demand continues to be weak. Gasoline supplies rose for the third straight week to reach their highest level since early March 2011. The agency’s report further revealed that distillate stocks posted another build. Meanwhile, refinery utilization rate was down by 1.9%.

China Cuts December Gasoline Exports, Imports More Diesel Before Holiday

China cut gasoline exports to the lowest level in almost three years in December and diesel imports reached their 2011 high as fuel was stockpiled to meet increased demand for transport around the Lunar New Year break.

Net gasoline exports fell to 164,392 metric tons last month, the lowest since March 2009, and net purchases of diesel were around 210,000 metric tons, according to data released by the General Administration of Customs today.

China's Dec Saudi crude imports 4th highest on record

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia rose to 1.12 million barrels per day in December, the fourth-highest on record on a daily basis, Chinese customs data showed, as the world's top oil exporter pumped just under the 10 million bpd mark.

Congress has legal clout on Keystone pipeline: study

(Reuters) - The Congress has the constitutional right to legislate permits for cross-border oil pipelines like TransCanada's Keystone XL, according to a new legal analysis released late on Friday.

The study by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service could give a boost to Republicans drafting legislation to overturn a decision this week by President Barack Obama to put the $7 billion Alberta-to-Texas project on ice.

BP joins in £250m gas storage project in North

A unit of oil giant BP has secured an option to acquire over a 50pc stake in a planned £250m (€300m) gas storage project in Co Antrim. The facility would be the largest of its kind on the island if construction proceeds.

Gulf comeback bodes well for oil field services

The resurgence of deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has the region on track to return to normal by year's end, boosting profits for oil field services companies, analysts say.

The Gulf comeback improved year-end financial results for Schlumberger, the world's largest provider of oil field services and equipment. The company reported a 36 percent increase in its fourth-quarter profit Friday.

China Urges Sudan, South Sudan To Resolve Oil Dispute With Talks, Respect CNPC Rights

BEIJING – China on Saturday urged the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to remain calm and restrained and resolve their differences over oil exports through "negotiation at an early date".

"Oil is the economic lifeline shared by Sudan and South Sudan," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Weimin said in remarks posted on the ministry's website, adding that the Beijing government "hopes that the two governments will fulfill their commitment to protecting the legal rights of Chinese enterprises and those of other partners."

Yemeni President Saleh granted immunity

Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- Yemen's parliament approved a controversial law Saturday that ensures President Ali Abdullah Saleh complete immunity from prosecution.

The law was delayed for weeks as Saleh insisted on specific changes guaranteeing his aides partial protection from legal actions.

In return, Saleh will step down from power in Yemen next month after ruling the country for more than 33 years.

Police: Dynamite bomb explodes near bridge in oil-rich Nigeria delta, no casualties

LAGOS, Nigeria - Police say unknown bombers detonated locally made dynamite near an important bridge in Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta overnight, though no one was injured.

The blast happened Friday night in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa state, the home of President Goodluck Jonathan. Bayelsa state police spokesman Eguavoen Emokpae said the bomb targeted a bridge, but caused little damage.

After threats, Iran plays down U.S. naval moves

(Reuters) - Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps said on Saturday it considered the likely return of U.S. warships to the Gulf part of routine activity, backing away from previous warnings to Washington not to re-enter the area.

The statement may be seen as an effort to reduce tensions after Washington said it would respond if Iran made good on a threat to block the Strait of Hormuz - the vital shipping lane for oil exports from the Gulf.

OPEC head to hold talks in Tehran on oil export via Gulf

Tehran - OPEC head Abdul-Kareem Luaibi will on Saturday hold talks in Tehran with Iranian officials on oil exports via the Gulf, the Mehr news agency reported.

Luaibi decided to visit Tehran after warnings by Iranian generals that the country might close the Gulf's Strait of Hormuz - a vital international oil shipping route - if oil sanctions were imposed on the Islamic state.

Iran oil to be sanctioned by Europe Monday

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The European Union will announce tough new sanction on Iran's oil industry Monday.

According to a source familiar with the matter, the sanctions will ban the import of Iranian oil and also restrict Iran's trade in gold and precious metals, as well as freeze certain Iranian financial assets.

China tells Iranian delegation to return to talks

BEIJING - China told a visiting Iranian delegation that returning to nuclear talks was a “top priority,” the Xinhua news agency said on Saturday, in a meeting highlighting Beijing’s efforts to reduce tensions that could threaten its oil supply.

The delegation, led by Supreme National Security Council deputy secretary Ali Baqeri, visited Beijing as lawmakers in the United States moved to detail punishment of foreign banks that do business with the Iran’s central bank, the clearinghouse for its oil exports.

China Hedges Mideast Oil Bets Amid Iran Tensions

China has become increasingly concerned about all the threats of conflict with Iran in the Persian Gulf, which supplies China with a great deal of its oil.

In fact, China is Iran's biggest customer. But Iran was not a stop on the Chinese itinerary — Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were.

U.S. Holds Military Talks With Israel on Iran as EU Readies Bank Freeze

Israeli leaders held talks with the top U.S. military commander, General Martin Dempsey, following the postponement of a joint exercise that was to be the biggest ever for the two allies.

ENI says Libya oil output back to pre-war levels

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Italian group Eni's oil output in Libya is almost back to its pre-conflict levels at 260,000 barrels per day, Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni said on Saturday.

"Output has now gone back to its pre-war levels. It was 270,000 bpd (before the war), now it's 260,000 bpd," Scaroni told journalists in Tripoli.

Chevron appeals $18 billion ruling in Ecuador lawsuit

SAN FRANCISCO/QUITO (Reuters) - Chevron Corp has filed an appeal with Ecuador's Supreme Court to review a judgment that the U.S. oil company pay $18 billion in damages for polluting the Amazon jungle.

Toronto Hydro to ask energy board again for rate hike

Toronto Hydro will be asking the Ontario Energy Board to reconsider a request to increase hydro rates, which was turned down earlier this month.

On Friday, a letter signed by the chairman of Toronto Hydro’s board of directors was sent to the energy board, outlining why it says an increase is necessary.

Tepco to be nationalised for 10 years-Kyodo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Tokyo Electric Power Co will in effect be nationalised for at least 10 years and is expected to become profitable in its 2013 business year, under a plan by a government body for funding nuclear disaster compensation, Kyodo news agency reported on Saturday.

The public fund is expected to inject 1 trillion yen ($12.97 billion) into the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in a de facto nationalision of the firm, the news service said, citing sources close to the matter.

First Round: Entergy 1, Vermont 0

Wherever the case goes from here, Vermont Yankee’s recent history demonstrates some of the benefits and the pitfalls of a current trend in the nuclear industry in which a handful of companies specialize in owning and operating plants. Entergy operates 12 reactors at 10 sites, including Vermont Yankee’s.

U.S. Ends Chevy Volt Battery Fire Probe

U.S. regulators, who ended their investigation yesterday into the Chevrolet Volt, said electric- powered vehicles do not pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline cars.

“Based on the available data, NHTSA does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in an e-mailed statement.

Let’s ban electric cars

I’ve been thinking very, very hard about this, but at the end, there can be only one conclusion. We have to ban electric cars.

No, honestly, we do. And I have a very valid reason for this, let’s face it, somewhat controversial assertion.

The future of diesel, gas and electric cars

Here’s the big picture in terms of gas, diesel and electric cars that came out of the just completed Detroit auto show.

Car Batteries Are Not Just For the Car

Coda Automotive is supposed to start selling its electric sedan next month. On Friday, its parent company announced that it was also moving into a related line: stationary batteries for electricity storage.

Matt Simmon's Wind Dreams

When Matt Simmons retired he undoubtedly realized that of the fifty states, Maine was the most highly dependent upon petroleum for its energy needs. Over 75% of Maine’s households heat with fuel oil, no doubt he found we were completely dependent on others for our energy needs. Simmons established the Ocean Energy Institute (OEI) and brought his expertise and contacts in the off-shore oil industry to jump start a renewable energy industry in Maine. This state, settled by people who used wind and water for their transportation and trade, has a tremendous wind resource. Looking at wind maps of the continental US, the proximity of abundant offshore wind resources to densely populated areas is clearly evident.

China’s Goldwind Expanding in U.S. as Rival Vestas Plans Cuts

Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co., China’s second-largest wind-turbine maker, indicated it’s picking up market share in the U.S. as falling prices and expiring subsidies force rivals to pare back.

Goldwind bought two 10-megawatt wind farms in Montana to showcase its equipment and has taken orders in seven other U.S. states since it started sales in the region in June 2010, according to a company statement released yesterday.

U.S. Wind-Farm Boom Set to Bust in 2013 as Obama Tax Breaks End

A U.S. boom in wind farm projects is poised to bust in 2013 as tax breaks by President Barack Obama’s administration prompt developers to rush through construction of new sites this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Some idle solar energy projects may soon connect to grid

Two federal agencies and Southern California Edison say they're close to ending a long impasse that has made renewable energy projects sit unused. Negotiations with a third agency are tougher.

Solar Stocks Plunge as Germany Vows to Quicken Subsidy Cuts

Solar stocks plunged around the world after Germany, the largest market for panels, said it will make quicker cuts to subsidized rates and phase out support for the industry by 2017.

India Misses Solar Target With 20-Fold Jump in Capacity in Year

Indian solar power capacity expanded 20-fold in the past year to at least 356 megawatts, a third of the targeted level, after infrastructure, financing and weather- related delays, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Why the Clean Tech Boom Went Bust

Anyone who has heard the name Solyndra knows how this all panned out. Due to a confluence of factors—including fluctuating silicon prices, newly cheap natural gas, the 2008 financial crisis, China’s ascendant solar industry, and certain technological realities—the clean-tech bubble has burst, leaving us with a traditional energy infrastructure still overwhelmingly reliant on fossil fuels. The fallout has hit almost every niche in the clean-tech sector—wind, biofuels, electric cars, and fuel cells—but none more dramatically than solar.

Breakthrough in seaweed biofuel reported

Energy experts believe that seaweed holds enormous potential as a biofuel alternative to coal and oil, and US-based scientists say they have unlocked the secret of turning its sugar into energy.

A newly engineered microbe can do the work by metabolizing all of the major sugars in brown seaweed, potentially making it a cost-competitive alternative to petroleum fuel, said the report in the US journal Science.

The Man Who Fell for Fusion

Whipple blithely notes that working units would probably emit gamma rays but that Rossi expects Underwriter's Laboratories to certify the e-Cat for home use.

Summer school inspiring sustainability

Books have been bound, bees kept, tools sharpened, bicycles adjusted and seaweed eaten at the Transition Oamaru and Waitaki District Sustainable Skills Summer School which started on January 14.

Official Pack shot for Oil Rush revealed

Today, videogame publisher Iceberg Interactive and game developer UNIGINE Corp., reveal the official pack shot of the naval strategy game Oil Rush. The global war for oil in the flooded post-apocalyptic world of “Oil Rush” starts with the digital release on January 25th 2012. The boxed version is set for a release date of February 24th in the UK, Benelux and Scandinavia and in Germany on February 23rd 2012.

Interior Candidate Bows Out

The nomination of Rebecca Wodder, a longtime environmental advocate and former head of the conservation group American Rivers, expired at the end of last year. Expecting a bitter battle with an uncertain outcome, she asked that she not be renominated, according to an Interior Department spokesman. She was originally nominated last June.

With Keystone, it's Harvard vs. the heartland

In the larger scheme of things, Keystone isn’t that big a deal. Energy expert Vaclav Smil says the entire Keystone system would move just over 6 per cent of current U.S. crude oil consumption. The new pipeline would add just 1 per cent to the quarter of a million kilometres of existing oil pipelines that criss-cross North America. “Why, if pipeline safety is a key concern, have we not seen waves of civil disobedience?” he asked in a recent commentary. As for the biggest objection to Alberta’s “dirty oil” – the fact that it produces more carbon dioxide than other oil sources – he says that, in 2010 alone, China’s carbon dioxide emissions rose by 780 million tons. That’s more than 40 times the annual emissions of all the oil that would flow through Keystone.

Bill McKibben: Keep Alberta's oil in the ground

Put simply: Just as the planet’s physical stability depends on Brazil's guarding its rain forest, so it depends on Canada's keeping that carbon in the ground. Put even more simply: The carbon in the tar sands can wreck the future. Start burning them on a grand scale, says Dr. Hansen, and it’s “essentially game over” for the climate.

“Cold Front: Conflict Ahead in Arctic Waters,” by David Fairhall.

On Aug. 27, 2008, a NASA satellite hovering above the North Pole captured images that stunned climate-focused scientists around the world. Both navigable passages linking the eastern and western hemispheres were clear of ice at the same time, a first in recorded history. Based on the rare occurrence, climatologists began making bold predictions about the future of the far north. Some scientists claimed a new northwest passage would be reliably open for ice-free sailing in the summer months as soon as 2013. In David Fairhall’s evocative new book, “Cold Front,” the issue is not whether the polar ice sheet will melt — because in his mind it surely will — but what happens then.

Scientists fire salvo in Canada's bid to control Arctic seabed

In the midst of a Cold War-esque spy scandal involving a Canadian naval officer accused of passing secrets to a foreign entity, Canadian scientists have quietly accomplished something likely to prove far more effective than espionage or military posturing in affirming — and extending — Canada's sovereignty in the North: They've published two academic studies about Arctic Ocean geology that lend solid support to the country's ambitious claims for new undersea territory in the region.

Feeding The World Gets Short Shrift In Climate Change Debate

Food is getting elbowed out of the discussion on climate change, which could spell disaster for the 1 billion people who will be added to the world's population in the next 15 years. That's the word today from scientists wondering why food and sustainability get such short shrift when it comes to thinking about how humans will adapt to climate change.

In the past year, we've seen drought in Texas, floods in Australia and massive drought and wildfires in Russia, all of which have had a big impact on global food supply and prices. Those are good examples of the extreme weather events and changes in weather patterns that scientists expect to see with climate change.

Re : "Growing US Energy Output a Threat to Canada"

What's interesting about the article is less about Peak Oil and more about how Canada views the marketing opportunities for its tar sands, in light of the view that US demand is falling while production is rising.

"At the moment, about 97 per cent of Canada’s crude oil exports go to the U.S. Virtually no Canadian crude makes its way to any other markets, including China or India. Now that’s what you call a mismatch between supply and demand.

Put differently, unless Canada as a country can get its act together and find a way to export crude to Asian markets in significant volumes, this country is likely to lose a key source of national wealth generation for generations to come."

Viewed from the Canadian perspective, Peak Oil not being considered, it's all about how to keep the oil flowing to growing markets, and the petrodollars coming back.

Re: Growing U.S. energy output a threat to Canada (uptop)

(So much for Peak Oil theory.)

After US crude oil production rebounded from the post-huuricane low that we hit in 2008, US crude oil production looks like it will show an increase of about 100,000 bpd per year from 2009 to 2011, to about 5.6 mbpd in 2011, versus the pre-hurricane production rate of 5.4 mbpd in 2004, and versus the 1970 peak rate of 9.6 mbpd.

It would now appear that the net increase in US crude oil production per drilling rig (drilling for oil) is going on the order of about 100 BOPD per year per rig (from 2009 to 2011).

I agree that the captioned column is basically making a case for arranging for Canadian crude oil exports to go to markets other than the US. From the column:

“Rapid economic development means industrialisation, urbanisation, and motorisation. Over the next 20 years China and India combined (will) account for all the net increase in global coal demand, 94 per cent of net oil demand growth, 30 per cent of gas and 48 per cent of the net growth in non-fossil fuels.”

No, that’s not a typo. Let me repeat that: over the next 20 years, BP says China and India will account for 94 per cent of the net worldwide increase in oil demand.

Of course, if we extrapolate recent data (Chindia's net imports as a percentage of Global Net Exports, 2005 to 2010), China & India alone would consume 100% of Global Net Exports of oil in about 20 years.

After US crude oil production rebounded from the post-huuricane low that we hit in 2008, US crude oil production looks like it will show an increase of about 100,000 bpd per year from 2009 to 2011, to about 5.6 mbpd in 2011,

Yes traditional oil is declining, but have you been following the last few months of Bakken production?

N. Dakota Oil Production, thousand bbls per day:
2004: 85
2005: 100
2007: 123
2009: 218
2010: 310
2011: 424 (July)
2011: 446 (August)
2011: 600 (December)

EIA N.Dakota

600,000 bpd for December ? Clearly the author is making a wild a$$ed guess. The editor-in-chief, Economides, is Westex's chief rival for dating 'pretty woman'.

Operators will submit December, 2011 to the NDIC by about February 10, 2012. Monthly production is submitted electronically for most operators, so the NDIC doesn't know yet either.

Here, I will update your table:

Sept. 464
Oct. 488
Nov. 510


I don't follow. We know Nov production was 510K bpd from official reports, we know the prior trend, and you think 600K bpd for Dec is wildly off?

Depends on the definition of 'wildly'. Sept-Oct was an increase of 24, Oct-Nov was an increase of 22. All else being equal, Nov-Dec should be an increase to ~532-534, somewhat short of 600.

What I meant was that the author doesn't know December production because it hasn't been reported.

IMO extrapolating the trend on face value would suggest more like 534 k. So yes, my opinion is that 600 k is a wild a$$ed guess. In fact any estimate of production for December is essentially a wild a$$ed guess.

Going back to 2008, November has been a seasonal peak because of the difficulty in completing these bakken wells in cold weather. 510 k bpd may be the peak until spring. This winter has been milder that '08,'09 or '10.

Some of these wells are completed with 100,000 barrels water in 30+ stages. It takes a lot of heat to keep the water from freezing and warm enough to activate the polymers needed to gel the water so that it will carry 3+ million lbs of propant.

Despite the cold temps, drilling goes on at more or less the same pace winter and summer in ND. A backlog of wells waiting to be completed developes through the winter and then a surge of wells are brought into production. Earlier this year the backlog of wells waiting to be frac'ed was on the order of 6 months and that was during the summer. Gridlock.

"it's all about how to keep the oil flowing to growing markets, and the petrodollars coming back."

You're surprised? Petrodollars are very addictive. Whatever it takes to keep the next fix coming will happen.

Not surprised at all - but the article leaves out so many facts it's hard to know where to begin. For example, that, although the US production has risen marginally, the larger percentage of oil consumed in the US is still imported, and for the forseeable future, will continue to be so.

If one is looking for the usual light fare which moves public opinion, it pretty aptly demonstrates the case being made for new pipelines, new routes, and new markets with none of the cons.

Perhaps, in light of Peak Oil, better-informed Canadians might prefer to hang on to their own resources (perish the thought, in a free market world), or from the environmental perspective, just leave the resources in the ground.

It gets tiresome countering crap like "growing domestic U.S. oil production, which will slash U.S. dependence on imported oil in the years ahead.." especially knowing that the uninitiated latch onto this stuff like it's comfort food. Telling folks that the only way to "slash U.S. dependence on imported oil in the years ahead" will be to reduce consumption dramatically, either by design or circumstance, gets shouted down, ridiculed or attacked as "un-american defeatism". So it goes...

Looking forward to obscenely high oil prices.

We can all now celebrate by buying Dodge Rams.

...and the rhetoric keeps getting deeper.

I swear I just watched a new Obama re-election ad that boasts that U.S. dependence on foreign oil has declined to below 50% for the first time in over a decade under our Prez. I'll have to watch closer next time to see what is specifically cited to be able to make such a claim.

The ad is obviously very misleading in ignoring the fact that the "decreased" percentage of imported foreign oil is due largely to the lack of demand as our economy continues to languish (as well as other import/export matters as defined so well by Westexas), but to claim less than 50% imports seems absurd.

Thanks to everyone here for all the hard work in trying to keep the discussion in these matters honest. Apparently, it will become increasingly important going forward if such claims can be made straight-faced by numero uno.

Umm, the fact that it's true? Petroleum (crude plus products) fell below 50% import in 2010 for the first time since 1997. Factors include reduced demand due to the poor economy and high oil prices, slightly increased production due to high oil prices, a massive increase in ethanol use substituting corn, coal and natural gas for crude.

It's misleading, and highly cynical, for Obama to use this for re-election purposes, as clearly it's due to reduced demand across the board from an economy, and a nation, in slow but sure collapse.

But, if you liberals want to keep believing in him, if only because the Republicans appear so much worse, so be it.

The Titanic is the Titanic, no matter who takes the helm. Lifeboats are out there. You can go get to them, or you can keep arguing that your choice of captain is better than that other guy's choice for captain, and if you just get your captain in place, the ship will be saved. Your choice.

Misleading and highly cynical? It's a political advertisement. But I repeat myself.

If an electable liberal were to run for President in the U.S. I'd probably vote for him, given that he'd likely come a little closer to my idiosyncratic preferences. As it is I will probably have to vote for the moderately conservative DLC puke we've got, in lieu of the party which thinks conservation is an unimportant personal virtue, and we can drill our way to energy independence, $2/gas, and a flooded global oil market to reduce OPEC's clout.

Divide and conquer.

The difference between a Hutu and a Tutsi (Watutsi) is how many cows they own. It is a division made and aggravated by their European colonizers. It works to this day.

Citizen Kang:
..."Well, I voted for Kodos"

"Liberal" "Conservative" and choices among the brothers of Abraham make useful divisions of the people.

It seems that the people in power have made their plans clear. There is to be no redirection. There is to be an investigation of criticism.

Google "General Dynamics" "social media"
(Now, there's a combination!)
Up will come descriptions of General Dynamics' task in gathering instances of criticism of DHS and other government entities. Also, there will appear job offers from General Dynamics for social media specialists.


The captain of the Italian cruise liner is a fine example of operational leadership reality.

The country's children might alter its trajectory.

Personally, I think this is the same as the Jews considering if it was time to get out of Germany.

Lifeboats are out there. You can go get to them, or you can keep arguing that your choice of captain is better than that other guy's choice for captain, and if you just get your captain in place, the ship will be saved. Your choice.

The problem is they are all like Captain Francesco Schettino, a bunch of self serving, pretty boy, cowards who know the ship is going down and are out to save only themselves! At least the captain of the Titanic went down with his ship!

The person that I reserve the deepest scorn for is Nobel prize winning physicist, Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu!
A coward's coward, if ever there was one! He doesn't have the excuse of ignorance. If he didn't have the guts to speak out then at the very least he should have resigned his post!

I wouldn't be so scornful of the poor Dr. Chu, for I can imagine the sitution, were I were offered his job. Knowing what needs to be done, and knowing that at best I will be able to get 10-20% of it done, because of a hostile political climate. And believing that a too aggressive stance will lead to less rather than more.... I'd take the job, if I thought that by doing so the least harm would come, even knowing that folks who don't appreciate the difficulties will scorn me.

At this point, "the poor Dr. Chu" could walk away and become the whistle blower of the century, cement his place in history (what's left of it). What about it, Doc? Still think we can fix this mess?

"the poor Dr. Chu" could walk away and become the whistle blower of the century

He'd be lucky if he got 15 minutes of fame, then he would disappear down the collective memoryhole. Then someone else less qualified would take over his job, and the prospects of getting 10-20% of whats needed become 8-18% instead.

Dear Dr. Chu, what do I do?

Humans scour the earth for energy and resources to further their comfortable technological encapsulation. They gawk at the seamless insides of their wondrous new home whose construction and maintenance devours the natural world while poisoning what remains with toxic excrement. Inside the capsule many have a role to play in its support, and in return receive an artificial environment where bodily homeostasis is guaranteed. Inside the capsule hunger is eliminated, infectious disease is eradicated, too hot and too cold are unknown, and even death is seen as something for the capsule to conquer.

But the capsule was too ambitious, it's energy too limited and toxic. As the energy waned, the infrastructure began to deteriorate, further efforts at metabolism only increased environmental instability and toxicity that seeped through its pores, causing cancers and long term genetic damage amongst the denizens whose hopes for a painless existence could only be maintained by delusional thinking and anti-depressants. Citizens were distracted from the true conditions of their deteriorating existence with endless entertainments and propaganda so as not to notice the weaknesses of the organization they depended upon.

As collapse proceeded and many found themselves standing outside the capsule, great crowds paid rapt attention to political figures promising renewed progress and growth and a return to the comfort of the past, but more and more found themselves standing outside the capsule. Eventually there were no more promises as the capsule core began to react immunologically against its own peripheral necrosis with organized and spirited brutality. This was the beginning of the end as those outside in their tent cities spent their remaining energy struggling to return to their dying protector, while those inside clung selfishly to what remained.

Dear Dopamine,

Quite frankly I don't give a rodent's rear end what you do! There's no way in hell that the capsule will not protect ME! The fact that you and the rest of you poor wretched mortals find yourselves outside of the capsule is your own damned fault! You wanted to try surviving outside of the Matrix, well you got what you deserved. As for me I'm safe and sound very deep within in it!

Good luck suckers!
Dr. Chu

Every dissipative structure born into this world should have “I'm gonna get mine”, emblazoned on their bodies, except ants should have “We're gonna get ours”, as their motto. Some people on Wall St. are imprinted with “I'm gonna get mine and yours.” People are simply resilient structures harboring their gametic cells until they can be recombined so that a new marker in time can replace them. Our current mix of behaviors are entirely self-destructive when combined with our technological capability. Dr. Chu is human and perhaps wishing upon a technological star.

Lets not forget about the mistress, women and children first.

During the recent Italian cruise ship accident, the Captain was canoodling with a young lady 20-something years younger than he. Some wag on a talk show said "women and children first, eh? He got them both in one go".

The 'alternative prime Minister' here in Australia - no, not Kevin, or Bob, I'm talking about Tony "Dr No" Abbott - used the opportunity to again attack dark-skinned people, via a comment "well, that's one boat that got stopped". No need for the Boatphone now, Mr Abbott, just hire an Italian skipper.

HERE's a LINK to a comment in the WaPo and the video. I think the add stretches things with the claim that the US is importing less than 50% of our consumption. Looking at the EIA data, I can't see support for that conclusion, although imports have declined considerably. The data for crude oil as refinery input for the latest week shows 5,726/14,585 bbl/d, which is only a 39% domestic input. Then, one must consider the mix of other sources and the product balance which add up to the net consumption of 17,902 bbl/d delivered...

E. Swanson

And if you go to barackobama.com/energyfacts as referenced by the video, it says flatly:

The U.S. has become a net energy exporter.

which is, of course, patently false. But how many will realize that? And why do they peddle falsehoods, whilst accusing the repubs of the same?

Their previous attack ad was labeled “mostly false” by independent fact-checkers.

Their most recent ad has been deemed “not tethered to facts” by ABC News.

Politics mystifies me. Makes me feel like a Vulcan, so illogical is its practice.

The U.S. has become a net energy exporter.

Are we exporting N reactor fuel? It is possible (I don't have any numbers) that we could be exporting enough non hydrocarbon energy to make up for our net hydrocarbon imports.


The U.S. has become a net energy exporter.

That's kind of startlingly wrong. Hopefully Obama isn't that out of touch with reality. If he is, Americans are in real trouble.


2010 domestic crude oil production reached its highest levels since 2003.

Talk about setting the bar low! Highest oil production in 7 years! Woohoo! However I suppose the optics are better than saying, "Domestic crude oil production reached its lowest level since 1951".

The politicians really do rely on people's ignorance when making statements. They can say things that are obviously ridiculous, and nobody calls them on it.

Given the optics from the opposition, "O is standing in the way of abundant oil production cause he's one of them enviro-wackos", it only seems reasonable that he tout the fact that his administrations is the first in a long time during which domestic oil production actually rose. [We all know this is a response to much higher prices, but presidents get blamed for bad luck, its only fair to give them credit for good luck]
Don't know about the net energy export thingy...

Couple points:
1. Looks like oil and gas data stop there in 2009. Gas production is certainly well below domestic consumption as of Jan 2012, and oil domestic production (all liquids, as the issue is net energy not crude) now exceeds imports. (9mbbl/day imports vs ~19 mbbl/day consumption).
2. Those ratios don't tell you volume and thus not net energy. For instance, 2011 US coal exports appear to be ~100 million tons*, or 2.4x10^18J, or 393 million bbl oil equivalent, or ~11% of US oil imports.
3. Nuclear fuel exports?


Sorry. Grabbed wrong file. Here is the chart with data through 2010, using the BP data base. The coal calculations are in terms of oil equivalent (and thus based on BTU's). The US was net coal importer a few years ago, and we are currently barely self-sufficient. Ignoring inventory changes, 1.0 represents the dividing line between net importer and net exporter status. (BP does not count biofuels production as part of total petroleum liquids produciton, nor do they count refinery gains.)

But here is the chart that presents the problem for the US and other oil importing OECD countries (as annual Brent crude oil prices doubled from 2002 to 2011):

Yes, I can confirm only coal and ethanol are net exports in 2011:

o Coal exports were 25 million tons or 2% of production, about double 2010 exports
o Ethanol exports have doubled to ~66 thousand bbls / day.
o Electricity is net import, mainly from from Canada, at ~30TWh/year.
o Gas net imports continued to decline through October 2011, and with production booming and some large LNG loads going out to China and Japan, gas net export is probably less than a year away (but not yet).
o US uranium mining doubled to ~4.5 million lbs/year from 2 million in 2003. I know the US signed a nuclear fuel deal with India in 2006, but have no way to tell how much LEU might be exported, or stockpiled instead.

Unless there is some terajoule exporting of LEU going on, there's no way coal, ethanol and a little gasoline make up for the incoming 9 mbbl/day crude, gas, and electricity (yet).


Rocky alleges the Obama web site says "The U.S. has become a net energy exporter."

Wat? *checks site*

No, it says:

The U.S. has become a net exporter of fuels for the first time since 1949.


Which is technically true (fuels meaning refined oil) but misleading as proven by the fact that it tricked Rocky.

It's not so much that they tricked me, as they changed what the site said.

Somebody probably pointed out to them that what the original version said was ridiculously stupid. Good fact-checking there, guys, glad you're on top of things.

It's still misleading, though.

But, I think this should convince the people that politicians really do listen to the people. If everybody points at a politician, laughs, and points out that he's not wearing any pants, he'll go back in and put some on. Either that or claim it's all a lie to discredit him and keep on walking.

On renewables providing base load power:
"I'll be dead,you'll be dead,so will your children unless we become a pastoral society."

- Ron Ballinger, Prof of Nuclear Engineering, MIT

Oh how right you are! Right now, it appears that most of the media is also 'addicted' to those petro-dollars.

In this one Drumbeat we have a wealth of articles proclaiming the green energy revolution dead and calling for banning the electric vehicle. We have a litany of articles blaming food scarcity on climate change realists (WTF??). We have massive costs ongoing due to climate change and damage to the water supply.

It's amazing the level of stupidity a little short term profit engenders.

One of the reasons for the current series of Tech Talks, and particularly the set I have just completed on North America was to show that the long-term prospect for significant increases in production (particularly if one uses US production rather than the new definition of "North American" which includes the oil sands) is not that promising. The new savior is projected to be oil from shales, but these are relatively transient in nature - see for example the Eagle Ford, and how long the peak production from such reservoirs has been in producing natural gas.

Note that combined net oil exports from Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina and Brazil* fell from 5.1 mbpd in 2005 to 4.0 mbpd in 2010 (BP, total petroleum liquids). Canada and Colombia were the only two net oil exporters in the Western Hemisphere (with net exports of 100,000 bpd or more in 2005) that showed an increase in net exports from 2005 to 2010.

*The BP data base shows that Brazil is a net importer of petroleum liquids, but the media generally seem to believe otherwise, so I include them on this list.

Westtexas, Do you know how much oil (C+C) Brazil currently produces? I read somewhere that they expect to produce 4.9 million barrels a day by 2020. Thanks, Joe B.

Petrobras' Oil Output In Brazil Set An Annual Record In 2011

Oil production alone also set an annual record with a daily average of 2,021,779 barrels, exceeding the 2010 production by 17,607 barrels.

China gets jump on U.S. for Brazil’s oil

The country’s state-controlled oil company, Petrobras, expects to pump 4.9 million barrels a day from the country’s oil fields by 2020, with 40 percent of that coming from the seabed. One and a half million barrels will be bound for export markets.

I think that is extremely optimistic especially since they say only 40 percent is coming from offshore, that is Tupi and other pre-salt deposits. That is an increase of over 2.8 million barrels per day above what they are producing now. But we shall see.

Ron P.

WT and Ron, Thanks for the response. Joe B.

Viewed from the Canadian perspective, Peak Oil not being considered, it's all about how to keep the oil flowing to growing markets, and the petrodollars coming back.

Seems quite reasonable, doesn't it?

-->>Viewed from the Canadian perspective, Peak Oil not being considered, it's all about how to keep the oil flowing to growing markets, and the petrodollars coming back.<<--

That's true. From the Canadian perspective, the question is not, "How will we survive peak oil?" but "How much money can we make from this?"

I don't think growing US oil production is a threat to Canada, because if US oil production increases, Canadian oil producers will just back other foreign importers such as Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Mexico out of the US market.

If production in Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, or Mexico was increasing, that would be a threat, but at this point in time Venezuelan and Mexican production is falling, and China is increasingly drawing on Saudi Arabian production.

And, as Westexas is fond of mentioning, internal consumption in all these countries is rapidly increasing and using up more and more of their production. Canadian consumption is generally flat, so that's not a problem.

To be slightly more precise:

Given increasing production in a (net) oil exporting country:

Unless the rate of increase in consumption matches or exceeds the rate of increase in production, the rate of increase in net exports will exceed the rate of increase in production. For example, rates of change for Canadian Production (P), Consumption (C) and Net Exports (NE) from 2005 to 2010 (BP, Total Petroleum Liquids):

P: +1.9%/year
C: +0.4%/year
NE: +5.3%/year

And given declining production in a (net) oil exporting country:

Unless consumption declines at the same rate as, or at a faster rate than, the rate of decline in production, the rate of decline in net oil exports will exceed the rate of decline in production, and the rate of decline in net oil exports will accelerate with time. For example, rates of change for Saudi Production (P), Consumption (C) and Net Exports (NE) from 2005 to 2010 (BP, Total Petroleum Liquids):

P: -2.1%/year
C: +6.8%/year
NE: -4.7%/year

By this calculation, SA had a capacity of 12.8 million bpd(c+c+ngl)in 2011:

year		prod		depl		+ cap		cap
2003		10.2		0.204		0.300		10.2
2004		10.6		0.212		0.690		10.6
2005		11.1		0.222				11.1
2006		10.9		0.218		0.300		10.9
2007		10.4		0.208				10.9
2008		10.8		0.216		0.610		10.7
2009		9.9		0.198		1.430		11.1
2010		10.0		0.200		0.670		12.4
2011				0.200				12.8

2003,04,05,06 and '08 were essentially at capacity. All figures in million bpd. Capacity for each year was estimated as the previous year's capacity + capacity additions from previous year - depletion. Depletion was 2% of production in current year, 2011 depletion was assumed to be 0.200 million bpd. Production is from BP data and capacity additions include NGL's.

As I first noted in 2007, I have the theoretical capacity to date Julia Roberts, but is it a realistic outcome?

In any case, annual Brent crude oil prices approximately doubled from 2002 to 2005, from $25 to $55, and here are the 2002 to 2005 rates of change in Saudi production, consumption and net exports (BP, total petroleum liquids), in response to a doubling in oil prices:

P: +7.3%/year
C: +6.9%/year
NE: +7.6%/year

As noted up the thread, here are the 2005 to 2010 rates of change, as annual Brent crude oil prices were on their way to doubling again, going from $55 in 2005 to $111 in 2011:

P: -2.1%/year
C: +6.8%/year
NE: -4.7%/year

And here are my estimates for 2005 to 2011 rates of change:

P: -0.5%/year
C: +6.8%/year
NE: -2.6%/year

I estimate that 2011 annual Saudi net exports (total petroleum liquids) will be between 7.5 and 8.1 mbpd (versus a 2005 net export rate of 9.1 mbpd), as we are seeing a small change in the slope of the projected and ongoing Saudi net export decline.

If we take a net export rate of 7.8 mbpd as a middle case estimate (used above for rate of change calculations), then Saudi Arabia would approach zero net oil exports some time around 2028 (projecting the 2005 to 2011 estimated Consumption to Production ratios, total petroleum liquids, which increased from 18% in 2005 to an estimated 28% in 2011). The 2028 estimate is consistent with Sam Foucher's projections.

Using "Cowboy integration," post-2005 Saudi CNE (Cumulative Net Exports) would approximately be: 3.3 Gb/year X 23 years X 0.5, (less 3.3 Gb), which would be approximately 35 Gb. 2006 to 2011 estimated Saudi CNE are about 17.5 Gb, so based on this ballpark estimate, post-2005 Saudi CNE would already be about 50% depleted.

I have the theoretical capacity to date Julia Roberts, but is it a realistic outcome?

It was a realistic outcome for 2003,04,05,06 and '08 as production was essentially equal to capacity. Does Mrs. Westex know about this ?

2011 depletion was assumed to be 0.200 million bpd

What if your assumption is in error?

In any case, why not focus on numbers that we have reasonable confidence in, to-wit, why did the Saudis increase their net oil exports at close to 8%/year from 2002 to 2005, as annual Brent crude oil prices doubled, but then show six straight years of declining net oil exports, relative to 2005, as annual Brent crude oil prices doubled again?

As they say, frequently the simplest explanation is the best, i.e., even Saudi Arabia is not immune from the laws of physics.

Regarding my prospective date with Julia, Mrs. Westex is aware that it is purely a theoretical discussion, much like the discussion of Saudi productive capacity, as the Saudis have shown an enormous--and growing--gap between what they would have net exported at their 2005 rate, versus what they have actually delivered.

What if your assumption is in error?

Then the 2011 calculated capacity would be in error by the amount depletion varies from 0.2 million bpd. The 0.2 million bpd (capacity depletion) is based on your estimated 2% decline quoted above and estimated 2011 production of 10 million bpd.

In any case, why not focus on numbers that we have reasonable confidence in,

The calculation shows that production was essentailly equal to capacity 5 of the 8 years for which capacity was calculated.

..even Saudi Arabia is not immune from the laws of physics.

The calculation of capacity doesn't violate the laws of physics and SA exports are not a part of the calculation presented.

SA's import of $'s are at an all time high.

Your assumed depletion percentage is of course a function of your reserve assumptions. What is not in dispute is that the majority of Saudi production comes from fields found decades ago.

SA's import of $'s are at an all time high.

I call that a Phase One decline, as generally rising oil prices offset the decline in net oil exports. In any case, to restate my question above:

"Why did the Saudis increase their net oil exports at close to 8%/year from 2002 to 2005, as annual Brent crude oil prices doubled, but then show six straight years of declining net oil exports, relative to 2005, as annual Brent crude oil prices doubled again?" Perhaps like Texas and the North Sea, Peaks Happen. It's possible that 2005 may not be the final annual production peak for Saudi Arabia, but I think that there is very little chance that they will ever again exceed their 2005 annual net export rate of 9.1 mbpd.

As noted above, the Saudis consumed 18% of their total petroleum liquids production in 2005, and I estimate that they consumed 28% in 2011. As I have occasionally opined, this trend does not end well, and an extrapolation suggests that the Saudi post-2005 cumulative supply of net exports may already be about 50% depleted.

No, the column labeled 'depl' is estimated reduction in capacity based on production. That column can be labeled decline in capacity if you like. Capacities are for year end - ye.

SA claims that more than half their proven reserves are proven undeveloped, so an estimate of capacity based on proven reserves would be more or less meaningless.

Perhaps I missinterperted the post I originally responded to. I think you are saying that SA's production is expected to decline by 2%/yr. The 2% decline is also based on SA's statements that they are able to keep decline from existing fields at 2% by drilling.

I was noting the 2005 to 2010 observed rate of decline in total petroleum liquids production (BP):

Here are the 2005 to 2010 rates of change:

P: -2.1%/year
C: +6.8%/year
NE: -4.7%/year

And here are my estimates for 2005 to 2011 rates of change:

P: -0.5%/year
C: +6.8%/year
NE: -2.6%/year

Here are Sam's projections for Saudi Arabia, with his calculated 95% probability boundaries shown, using data through 2006 to generate the projections. Actual data for 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 are circled.


Saudi Arabian Crude + Condensate production according to Saudi Arabia. Actually it's from the JODI data but Jodi gets their production information from each country. JODI is based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Your data is probably from BP which includes all liquids. Either that or it is EIA all liquids. Saudi claimed spare capacity does not include all liquids. Actually it does not include condensate either, only crude. So any calculation of spare capacity must be compared to crude only production

Saudi C+C production in thousands of barrels per day. The last data point is November 2011

Saudi Arabia

However if you want crude only production here it is in yearly average according to OPEC's own Oil Market Report. OPEC stipulates that this data is from "secondary sources" and not from the countries themselves. The data is in thousands of barrels per day.

2003 Average	8,775
2004 Average	9,100
2005 Average	9,416
2006 Average	9,158
2007 Average	8,637
2008 Average	9,110
2009 Average	8,046
2010 Average	8,211
2011 Average	9,277

Ron P.

The same calculation using crude oil only, indicates SA's crude oil capacity at the end of 2011 was 10.9 million bpd, 1.6 million bpd above production:

year		prod		depl		+ cap		cap
2003		8.8		0.176		0.300		9.0
2004		9.1		0.182		0.690		9.1
2005		9.4		0.188				9.6
2006		9.2		0.184		0.300		9.4
2007		8.6		0.172				9.6
2008		9.1		0.182		0.300		9.4
2009		8.0		0.160		1.150		9.5
2010		8.2		0.164		0.600		10.5
2011		9.3		0.186				10.9

2003 ye crude oil capacity was set at 9.0 million bpd, in accordance with SA's statement that their capacity was 9.2 million bpd in March 2003. 2004 was at capacity.

That's true. From the Canadian perspective, the question is not, "How will we survive peak oil?" but "How much money can we make from this?"

Except the eastern half of Canada is dependent on crude from the Middle East, Nigeria, Algeria and other exemplary democracies!

Bitumen doesn't flow, and dilbit doesn't flow beyond Western Ontario.

In the end every Canadian pays the market price for refined petroleum products. It won't matter that revenue to the Canadian treasury is increasing if Canadians can't afford to fill their gas tank or heat their home. And that includes Albertans too!

Eastern Canada does import most of its crude oil, but a lot of the refined products are re-exported to the US. The oil pipeline system could be extended to the Atlantic coast, but so far there hasn't been a great deal of need to do so since there is East Coast offshore oil production. On balance the country is a major oil exporter.

If necessary, oil could be shipped from the West Coast to the East Coast refineries via the Panama Canal, but it would be more efficient to supply the Eastern consumers from refineries that are already on the oil pipeline system.

Canadians should realize that it is economically more efficient to pay the world price for oil and fall back on the country's numerous other sources of energy for most domestic uses. This includes hydro and nuclear electricity and natural gas.

In Alberta, 88% of the homes use natural gas for heating, and 12% use electricity. 0% use oil heating so the cost of fuel oil is a non-issue.

Given these facts, and the political difficulties securing sufficient pipeline capacity to the west and south, adding east going pipeline capacity seems to be an obvious course of action to take. What sort of obstacles are preventing/delaying this?

Enbridge has indicated its desire to re-reverse Line 9, which was built in 1975 to move western crude as far east as Montreal.
This line was reversed in 1999 and now carries imported crude to refineries at Sarnia & Nanticoke. (Sarnia is primarily served by western crude, Nanticoke with imported crude only, as far as I am aware.)

Some environmental groups have expressed opposition to the idea of bringing 'dirty oil' to Quebec and also to the suggestion that the Portland-Montreal Pipeline might be reversed to extend the flow of oil sands to Portland, Maine.

Personally, I think that allowing Line 9 to resume the purpose for which it was built is a "no-brainer" and should be done ASAP (assuming it's still in good shape after almost 40 years).
Reversing it would improve security of oil supply for eastern Ontario and western Quebec, and would provide Alberta with a 'new market' for its oil, which should improve the price that it receives.

The usual gang of environmental groups is opposing it on their usual principle of "all change is bad", including re-reversing an existing pipeline to run the same direction it originally did when it was first built:

Enbridge faces delay on bid to partly reverse flow of Ontario oil pipeline

Battles over pipelines have created troubles for Canada’s oil sands producers looking to export more product south and west.

Now, a decision by the National Energy Board creates new obstacles for sending oil east, too, to markets in Ontario and the Atlantic coast.

Canada’s energy regulator said Monday that it will launch an oral public hearing for the partial reversal of Line 9, an Enbridge Inc. pipeline that currently delivers crude from Montreal to Sarnia, Ont. In August, Enbridge had applied for an exemption from such scrutiny.

The oral hearing won’t take place until the fall of 2012, meaning a decision on the partial reversal won’t be made for some time.

Line 9 is built to carry up to 240,000 barrels per day. In its original construction, in 1975, the crude flowed west to east; it was reversed in 1999. Now, Enbridge wants to re-reverse part of it, sending oil from Sarnia to North Westover, Ont., which is located between Cambridge and Hamilton.

That partial reversal would allow western Canadian crude to reach two refineries, including one operated by Imperial Oil Ltd., that currently rely on crude imported from the Atlantic. Such imported oil comes from places like the North Sea, the African offshore, and the Middle East, where crude has been trading at levels above the price of North American crudes. That has created a financial incentive to bring cheaper Canadian crude across the country.

The partial re-reversal would not entail the construction of any new pipe. Indeed, Enbridge told the NEB the work will be environmentally benign, and “will not be a cause for public concern.”

Line 9 would also not be intended to carry oil sands crude. Rather, it would transport lighter crudes.

But environmental groups have affixed substantial new scrutiny to pipeline projects, and argued that the pipeline could one day bring oil sands-derived oil to eastern Canada. Critics have targeted pipelines as a way to interrupt expansion of the oil sands. That strategy achieved some success earlier this year when, amid a public outcry, the Obama administration delayed a decision on the $7-billion Keystone XL line that would carry Alberta oil to the Gulf Coast.

This line was originally built to carry Canadian conventional crude from Ontario to Montreal. However, Canadian conventional crude production peaked and started to decline in 1973, so the line was reversed to bring imported oil into Ontario. Now that most Canadian production is from the oil sands, and the Western refineries upgraded to handle heavy oil, it has freed up light oil to send East. The pipeline company wants to re-reverse the line to run the way it originally did, carrying the same type of sweet, light oil.

The environmentalists, however, seem to think that all oil is bad and everybody in Eastern Canada should ride bicycles to work, I guess. Those Easterners still using fuel oil for home heating are already in serious trouble, and it will only get worse as international oil supplies decline.

So opposition to tar sands expansion is not just something that USAers are doing to Canada, but is also Canadians doing to other Canadians. Perhaps there is some cause besides national envy involved in this?

It's ignorance really. Compounded by the abundant hydro power we have. It makes people think that we don't need the "dirty oil from Alberta". Of course these people are the same to start yelling when gas prices increase. They just don't make the connection.

After decades of decline, U.S. oil output is growing rapidly again, thanks to the use of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) technology to open up previously untapped tight oil or shale oil deposits. (So much for Peak Oil theory.)

How the heck does hydraulic fracturing negate Peak Oil?


I guess that fracking thingy is so powerful that it has changed the meaning of "axiomatic."

IT would appear that something/somebody wants to change the reality of a finite resource axiomatically reaching "the end of the line" in the context of continued use.

Changing one piece of the puzzle does not change the whole picture the puzzle presents.

What would we do without a little humor to cheer us up on such a dreary day as today.

Link up top: Let’s ban electric cars

You see, we could, and should, just leap right past electric cars and go straight to hydrogen fueled transport. Hydrogen is brilliant. It’s the most abundant element in the galaxy (no more peak oil worries)

Hydrogen is plentiful but it’s also the tart of the chemical world, bonding readily with almost every other substance. So separating the hydrogen from its chemical partners can be messy, and causes emissions of its own…

There is, however, a simple solution. Money. Lots and lots of money.

Let’s ban electric cars then, and take the money that would have been spent on them and spend it instead on hydrogen.

Ron P.

Heh - it's pretty dreary here - we had 8 inches of snow fall since yesterday morning. Last night's commute was pretty dismal for those people who insisted on taking a vehicle onto the "expressway". Walking would have been faster.

Compared with last year, though, it has been mild. There were a bunch of 911 calls re people stuck in cars. One person locked her keys in the car with the engine running. Many spinouts, and cars blocking driveways and intersections.

As for the referenced article, the author shares his view in the comments section.

Well, your car could have gone "nuts" like mine did this morning. Just took the Prius in for its 70,000mile checkup. Pulling onto the highway the truck behind me was perturbed at my slow acceleration, then the check engine panic computer shutdown set in. Managed to limp off the next exit. Got a ride back back to the dealer, the mechanic said "I bet it was those nut shells we saw under you hood, must have sucked one into the air intake". So I took the mechanics to the car, and they took apart the air intake, sure enough some nut shells had blocked it! Seems the storm somehow blew leaves and nuts under the hood into the air intake system. Working, now no harm done, just a crazy story to tell!

Sure you don't have some critters living in the engine bay and using it as their lunch spot?
It's happened in my car (no damage done, fortunately) but I've known several people whose wiring harnesses etc. have sustained some serious damage from chipmunks, mice and other sharp toothed little intruders.

That's exactly what happened to me recently. A squirrel chewed thru the covering and several strands of a ground wire on the battery. Tell-tell paw prints all over the dusty engine.

Many years ago we had a service alert for a type of disk drive we used. Big boxy things with a power supply on the back. One had arrived on site in non-working conditioning. On inspection all the yellow wires in the power supply had been chewed and a dead mouse was inside. The ventilation holes were far too small for a mouse to get through and no-one could work out how it got in there or why it was only the yellow wires that had been chewed.


Some wires are attractive. The yellow wire stock might have been processed with vegetable oil as the lubricant. I used to have to store the "yummy' wire(s) in a metal cabinet at night... the other wire stock and equipment cables were OK to leave out. Poor mouse was probably hiding when the lid went on.

The thought has crossed my mind. Heck I have no idea where those seed shells came from. Nothing near my house. I'll check the vegetation at work. I supect they can't cause a clog/shutdown unless someone opens the airbox. The mechanic guessed what happened right away, he must have recognized the chance of one of these things getting in while he had it open. It choked about 1 mile after leaving the shop. Possibly that stuff had been under the hood a long time.

Did you identify the shells so that you can trace the type of tree/bush?


Trouble is, so many folks are seriously promoting so many flippant top-down schemes for banning this, massively subsidizing that, and compelling everyone but themselves to do the other thing, that it has become essentially impossible for a lay reader to detect irony. That's clear from the comments, so the author felt obliged to remind readers that "It’s probably worth pointing out that my tongue was very firmly in my cheek whilst writing this piece..."

The problem is illustrated well by the bit, "Hydrogen is brilliant. It’s the most abundant element in the galaxy (no more peak oil worries)..." That line has very often been used in all seriousness - though if I recall correctly, "universe" normally substitutes for "galaxy", no doubt because a "universe" is even bigger, and contains impressively more hydrogen, than merely a "galaxy"...

I didn't even notice that. I thought the guy was serious. Well, either way it was quite funny. However I have read articles that was every bit as outrageous as this one where the author was quite serious. With so many really far out opinions out there it is almost impossible to tell when a person is just being sarcastic or if he/she really believes the outrageous stuff they write.

Ron P.

Perhaps he changed his mind after reading the other comments ;)

I have lost track of how many times i have taken huours rants and other sarcasms totally serious. Just to may people who actually mean it for it beeing able tospot the jokers on just how they make outrageous staements. Maybe it is a sign of the times...

They say snarc doesn't transmit very well over the tubes. Add in a language that's not your native, and its easy to be fooled.

With every bit of news or information being spun by someone or other we seem to be living in a world of cognitive dissonance. Yesterday the lead story in the financial section of the Telegraph was "Debt crisis: Greek talks continue despite creditors 'leaving Athens'". Our every attempt to understand what's happening in the world is met with a maelstrom of spin, disinformation and absurdity. But I guess that is the nature of collapse, people behaving like 'headless chickens' while the world around them falls apart.

When it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate between satire and reality, I guess we're in deep trouble.

Yes, and the land salted for good measure. Here's today's peek behind the curtain.

'Secret jobless' could mask extent of unemployment[uk]

Jobcentre officials have moved hundreds of thousands of unemployed people claiming jobless benefits on to a separate "training allowance" over the past year, raising concerns the Government is "massaging" figures to mask the true extent of unemployment.

Most people suspect that government statistics are "massaged", yet we're still presented with them as though they are factual by the media. The practice of releasing incorrect data and revising it later once out of the limelight is the "new black" in statistical data manipulation.

In our journey to destiny and a brick wall, it's getting hard to know which way's up and which is down, let alone which is the front and which is the back. I guess the recent cruise ship disaster is an apt analogy of our situation. A glittering illusion of riches and power, its occupants entertained and bedecked with the temporary trappings of wealth in their make-believe world. Then reality intervened, the ship holed and sinking, they're told everything's fine, party on, go back to your cabins, normality will be returned shortly. Reality intruded again when the ship capsized. The ship's elite jumped ship and tried to control events from a lifeboat a safe distance away, passengers left to save themselves.

To be fair, assessment of data quality and corrections are best scientific practice is a number of fields. The existence of retroactive chances is NOT an indication of cooking the books. You have to dig deeper to uncover the reasons behind the corrections.

A glittering illusion of riches and power, its occupants entertained and bedecked with the temporary trappings of wealth in their make-believe world. Then reality intervened, the ship holed and sinking, they're told everything's fine, party on, go back to your cabins, normality will be returned shortly. Reality intruded again when the ship capsized. The ship's elite jumped ship and tried to control events from a lifeboat a safe distance away, passengers left to save themselves.

Very reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe's "Masque of the Red Death." The rich elites think they can escape the chaos of a collapsing society. Maybe they can, for a time, but I doubt for long.

Yes. There is no way to make rational plans or decisions when the data is so corrupted. "Treated like mushrooms"

On the example of unemployment, the U3 number is the one reported. U6 is about twice that. Both ignore those who have given up or fallen through the cracks.

I agree that for a suposedly satirical piece, the satire is buried so deeply behind all the well used cliches about hydrogen, that the satire is lost on the reader.

This ine copuld have come from the fuel cell lobby itself;

We know hydrogen works, it’s mature technology and doesn’t require any major new breakthroughs; it just needs to be honed, developed, productionised and made affordable. If we can concentrate our resources on doing that, then maybe we can truly change the future of motoring, for good, for all.

The fuel cell people have been promising they can deliver for decades, if they are just given more funding, and to date they have delivered very little.

And this;

Meanwhile, there is a final engineering aesthetic argument. The technology that drives electric cars is, essentially, the same technology that makes a food blender spin around and around. The technology that drives hydrogen fuel cell cars is the same technology that NASA used to power the Apollo spacecraft that flew to the moon and back. Which one would you rather have in your car?

Contrary to what he writes, fuel cells did not send Apollo to the moon and back, that was rockets using combustion of liquid oxygen and various fuels, including liquid hydrogen. Now, there were some fuel cells on Apollo, for electrical power, and it was a fuel tank that blew out on Apollo 13 and almost left them stranded in space - do we really want such a system in our cars?

If his goal was to actually show how e-cars are actually useful, he has failed miserably, and if his goal was to have a humorous article, he has failed in that too.

In fact the only thing he has succeeded in doing is further obfuscating readers who have enough trouble getting the real facts as it is.

Maybe he should take a look at George Monbiots writing to see how to get his messages across clearly...

Yup, well-buried. For me the penny finally dropped for certain when I got to the line about the blender.

Indeed, on the second reading, that was where I saw it, but still, it is confused by his inaccurate statement about fuel cells getting Apollo to the moon. It is hard to see the irony when what he is using as the counterpoint isn't true.

I think this is a problem with a journalists writing on technical issues, or issues that have a technical side - they often get their "facts" wrong. Monbiot is pretty thorough at checking his, and also at making clear the distinction between "facts" and [his] "opinion" - that is the basis of good technical based writing, IMO.

I agree that for a suposedly satirical piece, the satire is buried so deeply behind all the well used cliches about hydrogen, that the satire is lost on the reader.

You're all too kind. Let's bring out ol' Occam's Razor: is it possible that this guy is not a good writer and not very funny?

I believe, judging from this example, that this is the more likely condition.


I was hoping I missed the 'sarc' tag on the "..threat to Canada" piece. Sadly, no.

Heck! Lets use the electricity that would be saved by banning electric cars to make hydrogen by electrolysis to use in hydrogen-fueled cars!

So sorry about that net energy loss every time you add an extra step. Blame it on entropy.

However, the most important thing is that there is Money to be Made!!!!


Ohh, heck. We should ban hydrogen cars, and go straight to the most common matter in the galaxy (and universe), dark matter. We still don't know what it is, but it apparantly can go right through solids (like the earth), so it must be good for something very profound.

That article was terrible. It was apparently meant to be sarcastic but it was done so poorly that it wasn't apparent to most readers. Total fail.

re:Congress has legal clout on Keystone pipeline: study

Really, if Keystone brought the bitumen to Houston for refining, and/or sales to other world markets at world prices, this would be a win win for oil consumers. (I know many here will say it is horrible, but I am commenting from our current state of ff dependency.)

I think that many of us ,(and I include myself on the list), like to play the China card as an 'in your face' reaction/threat to the old USofA when they tick us off.

Surely, it makes much more sense to target the end use to our friends and neighbours who have been our ally for a long time.

Thinking about the Northern Gateway alternative the past few days, my reaction has been negative, not because of the pipeline per se, but because of the unknown quality of tankers and crews that ply the worlds open oceans under flags of convenience and bogus surveys and safety inspections. A few days ago some wondered about a Rupert terminus and mused engineering could handle the route. Well, the route is highly prone to slides (mud and snow) and occasionally has engulfed the narrow road route closing #16. Furthermore, the route would have to follow the entrance to the Nass, from Terrace west, and this is a vital and important salmon river to both Canadian and Alaskan fishermen. Bad idea.

If a western pipeline has to be built, how about this solution? Yes, the oil is for sale/available per company operations, however, it can only be transported through Canadian waters on Canadian ships subject to a Canadian inspection regime. The ships must be crewed by Canadians, with all officers English speaking from either Canada, England, or the USA, or any other country provided the entire crew speaks english. The operation is set up as non-union....but under control so that the reliability cannot be 'struck' (and this really hurts me to say this because I am a Union man). However, wages and benefits paid to all are based upon an average of BC Ferries and local coastal maritime agreements (Seaspan/Washington Marine Group). This would mean that no longer are these potential shipping nightmares are crewed by the exploited poor. This must be a professional group of folk that relish their profession. Shifts could be one trip out and back, (approx 2 weeks on and two weeks off) with the regular on board coastal rotation of 12 hours on 12 hours off, with ample recreation and fitness facilities on board. Marshalling could be transport from Terrace, and this would encourage hires to live in the Kitimat area, thus benefitting the local economy. Folks could live anywhere, but no special deals and getting to Terrace Airport would be on their own nickel. If you want our oil, these are the terms. We don't refine here, yet, because the economy doesn't support more refining. But why shouldn't we benefit from the transport? The main issue is pollution avoidance and shipping integrity. Furthermore, a super intense maritime traffic control could be updated for safe transit down the inlet and passage to open waters.

I see no reason why the shipping crews cannot be Canadian and treated as well as my son who works plant Maint. on site where the stuff is produced? It would add pennies to end user costs. Don't like it? Go get your oil somewhere else.

Just some thoughts.



That was my suggestion about the line going to Prince Rupert. As Rocky Mtn Guy pointed out, if they can get a railroad in there (and a road, and high voltage powers lines) then they can certainly get a buried pipeline. The Trans Mountain pipeline crosses many avalanche paths on it's route, as do roads and railways - all these things can be engineered.... I think doing that to keep supertankers out of the Kitimat inlet is a worthwhile trade.

As for the shipping, what you are suggesting is a Canadian version of the US Jones Act . It is arguable that the result of the Jones Act has made US owned shipping (and shipbuilding) completely uncompetitive in the world market, and has resulted in higher living costs for island territories, like Hawaii, Puerto Ric etc.

If you truly think this is worthwhile (and you know that Quebec would *insist* that all the crews have to be bilingual), then why is not worthwhile today for the protection of the Port of Vancouver, Kitimat, P.Rupert, etc? The consequences of poorly maintained/crewed ships are the same everywhere, and the gov allows oil tankers in Burrard inlet today.

I'm not saying it couldn't be done - China would take the oil anyway, it just means the extra shipping costs are reduced revenues to the sellers of the oil. But something like that has all the hallmarks of a government boondoggle, and inevitably the unions would get involved, resulting in a bloated and inefficient operation. After all, BC Ferries comes close to meeting all your requirements (Cdn owned and crewed, etc) and still they had incompetent staff run a ship aground resulting in the loss of the ship and two deaths. Not only that the union representing the staff on duty has consistently defended their right not to have to testify at hearings or be held responsible in any way for dereliction of duty or the loss of ship and life. Meranwhile we all pay for the BC Ferries staff to be over paid, over benefitted etc etc...

So how, exactly, is this any better than the current international shipping?

Hi Paul Nash

Yes, I agree with your comments in most respects. It is similar to the Jones act, however, this would be for just this one narrow sector of the shipping industry.

As to better than current industry shipping standards? I read a book over Christmas (forget the name right now but I will email in law for the title) that has researched the shipping industry and its' decline over the last 20 years. For example, major oil leak catastrophe on Italian beaches with a derelict tanker breaking up....authorities able to trace ship owners to a numbered type company in Englan, but actual owners firewalled. Leak goes on. After a week eventual owner found....son of the family patriarch....Italian by the way....billionaire....on the ski slopes. Had watched the crisis unfold, did not interrupt holiday for the event, in fact stayed hidden. And on and on. Small tankers renamed and re registered with a 'bought' certificate (we used to call them certificates of airworthiness in aviation industry) crewed up with Pakistanis, many languages on board ship, ship so decrepit the hull was flexing and twisting in moderate seas, broke apart on Spaind Med shore. And on and on.

As for the BC ferries, the link was for wages and working conditions....not for the professional boinking on the chartroom table while in transit. The condition of world shipping has deteriorated to the point, (in that almighty race for profits and the lowest cost) to the point where accidents and catostrophes are inevitable. We control every aspect of oil production and transport including labour laws and worksafe regulations. This should extend to shipping these highly dangerous and damaging cargoes through our waters.

This should apply to all tankers in Canadian waters....including those calling at Port Moody.

By the way, the trip down the inlet to Kitimat is safe as hell. Ships have been doing it for 60 years when Eurocan was in operation. The waters off Rupert are no less dangerous...with lots of shallows and reefs. Inlets are deep deep with sheer sides, like Sechelt inlet without the skookumchuk. I cannot count the number of times I have flown barge loaders and customs officers to ships loading up in many northern inlets. Reduced speed with a ships pilot and good nav equipment can thread any sized ship up to Kitimat.

My point is that this product can be transported safely on the water, but not with rag tag ships, hidden ownerships, poorly paid and matched crews, decrepit equipment, and owners pushing for hurry up and go at every instance. It will take Govt. oversight and authority to stop this as the industry sure as hell won't do it because it is the right thing to do.

Govt has a bad rap these days and a small to large folk myth is developing that all Govt oversight is bad. One area where total Govt control works for the good of the environment is the implementation of research and supply in Anarctica and ice shelved waters. I had a friend who spent six months down there flying tourists and research support....even the pee gets flown out in drums.

Oil can be produced and transported safely. Would the spills of Nigeria be permitted in North Dakota? Of course not, but left to industry the cheapest product goes first. That's what kills me about our Sands oil, rather, the holier than though protests about its use and development. Its okay to burn the stuff from exploited and destroyed ecosystems on the 'coloured side' of the world, but the Canadian product is oh so bad. We have a fledgling industry as to reserves. Let's do it right and use the resource to benefit our people all along the way, and not just for the crumbs that fall off sinopec's and Exxon's table to a few. I think it is pretty obvious that if these companies could produce the stuff with slave labour and no oversight, they would. If they could do it with programmed robots, they would. Environment wasted with some spills, well that's just their cost of doing business where they don't live, anyway.

IMHO, continue to send it south in existing pipelines. Really regulate existing tanker traffic into Burrard inlet. If the tankers cannot be controlled and regulated going forward to make them as safe as possible?, then leave the stuff in the ground and/or slow down development.

This making a living isn't a race for the fastest and the most. That is precisely why we have screwed up things so bad. Slow it down and do it right or leave it undeveloped. If the world economy has to burp because they can't get that 'Canadian Tar' in their veins, time to go into rehab.


Paulo, your post is a great comment on the situation. Why not re-write it a bit and submit it as an op-ed to your local news paper?

E. Swanson

yes, great post.

My point is that this product can be transported safely on the water, but not with rag tag ships, hidden ownerships, poorly paid and matched crews, decrepit equipment, and owners pushing for hurry up and go at every instance. It will take Govt. oversight and authority to stop this as the industry sure as hell won't do it because it is the right thing to do.

Yes, agreed. I don't think gov oversight/regulation is bad, I think gov operation is bad. A gov body equivalent to the Texas RailRoad Commission is exactly what is needed to set and enforce the standards. I also think that is all that is needed - I don;t want to see yet another monopoly "Crown corporation" like BC Ferries or BC hydro set up to actually move the oil, as that will result in the inevitable bloated boondoggle.

I don't doubt at all that lots of nasty stuff has gone on in the shipping world. It would be interesting then, if the rule was instituted that The Owner had to be present at the loading of the ship, each and every time. No Owner, no oil...

Thanks for you comments re Kitimat v Rupert - do things change when there is lots of two way traffic in that inlet?


Ummm...OK. I tend not to click through to video links, because video is very time consuming compared to the Gutenberg method, and only rarely is the extra time worth it.

However, here, there is another question: why should I give a stuff about what Robert Redford, or any other Hollywood "celebrity" known mainly for good looks, "thinks" about any subject whatsoever, save for, just conceivably, acting?

While I'm not going to start looking to Hollywood to decide what to think, anymore than I look to Washington or AM radio, I'd like to point out that most folks with the Hollywood stature of Redford have IQ's well north of the typical Washington pol. There are plenty of model pretty boys who never become Robert Redford. Even among the less brilliant, I think there are very few who wouldn't be able to remember which Federal agency their handlers told them they wanted to ax.

...which Federal agency...

"Oops." Hadn't thought of that.

I'd like to point out that most folks with the Hollywood stature of Redford have IQ's well north of the typical Washington pol.

OTOH, now that I am thinking of it, it's setting the bar rather low indeed, or, as they say, damning with faint praise. Of course, I suppose Hollywood airheads in general do have at least one thing in their favor - they rarely seize up with stage fright.

I'd love to see a debate between you and Redford, Paul.

I know you're educated, but I don't think you'd win..

Exactly, and furthermore, it wouldn't depend in the slightest on the subject of the debate, nor on who took which side. Since spin and staging are everything, good-looking airheads with skilled makeup crews usually win debates (and often reap lavish annual incomes to boot.) Some of them are nice guys and all that, but somehow they get completely excused from knowing anything at all about whatever they happen to be bloviating on.

Of course, I'm still a bit astonished when some professional spinmeister, who presumably has unlimited access to the best available coaching, forgets the all-importance of spin and staging: oops.

While I'm not going to start looking to Hollywood to decide what to think, anymore than I look to Washington AM radio, I'd like to point out that most folks with the Hollywood stature of Redford have IQ's well north of the typical Washington pol.

So, if they are to be taken as an valid voice on this, then why don;t some of these supposedly brilliant Hollywood types run for public office, or volunteer for public jobs?
It is easy for a Redford or Ed Begley or whoever to criticise this that and the other - they have no skin in the game. Redford is hardly staking his career/reputation on this. For someone like [Energy Secretary] Stephen Chu, they *are* staking their reputation and career with their statements and positions, so they think about it a bit more carefully.

Personally, I am tired of these millionaire Hollywood types lecturing us on how we should live, when they have made their very comfortable lives on the backs of the masses whom they now lecture.

You aren't the intended audience.

I'm not sure it's accurate to say that folks whose livelihoods are based on public perception have less skin in the game of public perception than career academics. See Chicks, The Dixie.

Personally, I am tired of these millionaire Hollywood types lecturing us on how we should live, when they have made their very comfortable lives on the backs of the masses whom they now lecture.

No, it's not as if Robert Redford rides an electrically assisted bicycle to an environmental conference when he lectures people that they have to "kick the oil habit". He drives his Porsche to the airport nearest the ski resort he owns, and then gets on his own private jet. He probably doesn't use as much fossil fuels as Al Gore, whose mansion notoriously consumes 20 times as much energy as the average American house, but he comes close.

As I type this my home is being heated and illuminated by electricity; I’m nibbling on clémentines imported from Maroc, thousands of kilometres away; I’m wearing a shirt made from cotton, a plant that demands vast quantities of water and liberal doses of herbicides and pesticides; and there’s a good chance that the very laptop I’m using will ultimately become toxic waste in some impoverished county a half a world away. If you wish to cast aspersions on someone, I respectfully submit that you start with me.


You don't have nearly the environmental impact that some of these wealthy people who are lecturing us on the importance of reducing our environmental impact do - frankly, you don't make enough money to consume as much resources as they do.

I spend decades working for oil companies finding oil for other people to consume, during which time I walked or took wind-powered electric trains to work. I walked to the local grocery store to buy my locally produced bread and milk. On weekends I drove my Toyota (built in Cambridge, Ontario) to the mountains to go cross-country skiing because the Canadian government cancelled the passenger train service through Calgary.

Tonight we had a nice meal of locally produced buffalo, although the salad came from California - there's not much that grows here in the winter. The lights are powered by the 50 MW hydro plant about 10 minutes walk from my house, the heat comes from natural gas produced on the Indian reservation down the valley (they get royalties on the gas), my clothing comes from locally produced petrochemicals.

I mean, people can talk endlessly about other people's environmental impact, but they don't really look at where their goods come from or how they are made.

Brief interlude - our houseguests' Havanese (a type of poofter dog from Cuba) just growled through the window at a coyote walking down the street in front of the house. We have to check the yard carefully before we let him out to pee. You never know what might eat him.

I mean, people can talk endlessly about other people's environmental impact

Stop it RMG, you had me in tears until I remembered you are a shameless promoter and investor in tar sands exploitation.

I'm also a shameless investor in Canadian banks, gold mines, and electrical utilities. You don't often hear me say much about them - the objective is to finance my retirement, since I'm certainly not counting on the government to do it over the long term.

The point behind the oil sands is that they are the last game in town. The world's conventional oil resources are drying up, and without oil sands, the average Canadian or American is not going to have enough fuel to drive his pickup or SUV to work.

The Robert Redfords of this world will still be able to afford to buy fuel to fly their private jets to environmental conferences, but his fellow American won't be able to afford fuel to get there, and most likely there is no train stopping near them any more, so they will have to stay home and wonder how they are going to afford to get to work, assuming they still have a job.

From the Canadian perspective, things are a lot brighter. While the country's conventional oil resources are nearly exhausted, most of Canada's oil production is now from the oil sands. The country doesn't have to wreck its economy or fight foreign wars trying to ensure its supply of imported oil - it exports more than it imports so the trade balance is in the black, the economy is healthy, the banks are solvent, and government deficits are under control.

Canadian governments are focused on the jobs and tax revenues from the oil sands, and the consequences of depending on unstable foreign governments for the country's oil supply. Digging up a few thousand square miles of boreal forest doesn't seem very important to them when they have more boreal forest than they know what to do with and there are 6 million square miles of it left untouched.

And they're perfectly capable of ignoring a few high-profile foreign movie stars in the process of making the economy work. It comes down to votes versus optics, and rational politicians prefer to get votes rather than look good in the foreign press.

... (a type of poofter dog from Cuba) just growled through the window at a coyote ..

LOL ... a great image and sound bite indeed, "Bow wow, woofity woof! Go away naughty coyote darling!"

..and while various people here at TOD are calling out certain 'eco-celebs', about how they in turn are calling out environmental ills from their nice mansions, I have to wonder which is, in fact the better parallel to that Yappy Dog safely scolding the Big, Bad Wolf..?

That little "poofter dog" would would likely have ended up as coyote dinner, if he had been let loose to face reality...

E. Swanson

The local coyotes do a fine job of keeping the streets free of feral bunny rabbits, poofter dogs, and large, fluffy cats. The people who own poofter dogs and fluffy cats have to keep indoors. The bunny rabbits are being saved from Animal Control by international humane groups, but nothing will save them from the coyotes.

But even big dogs have to be careful. The neighbor's Labrador retriever took a hoof to the guts by an elk he was chasing, and died from it.

However, even the coyotes have to watch their step. The local wolves will eat the coyotes if they get the chance (and the local grizzly bears will eat the wolves).

When do grizzlies attack wolves? Maybe if they come across a dead or dying one. A healthy one -especially if the pack is around is probably too risky a meal (the danger of injury is greater than the survival value of the food). There are such things as bear dogs, which I think bears avoid/are afraid of, despite the arge difference in size.

When do grizzlies attack wolves?

The short answer is they don't. Bears are opportunivores (Muir said "to the bear, everything is food except granite itself"), and as you said they certainly would eat a dead or injured wolf. But ordinarily, wolves are much too fast and wary for a bear to catch one. What does sometimes happen is that wolves will kill a moose or caribou, and the bear will take advantage of the opportunity by chasing the wolves off long enough to enjoy a good meal.

Such is true, grizzly bears don't get a chance to eat wolves very often - the wolves are much faster and more alert than they are. More commonly they will force wolves off a kill - if there aren't too many wolves.

A pack of wolves can make life miserable for a grizzly bear even if they can't kill it. The ones behind it will run in and nip it in the butt, and when the bear turns around, the ones that are now behind it will run in and nip it in the butt. Eventually the bear gets tired of the whole thing and goes away.

Wolves eat coyotes much more often because they have the speed and organization to catch them. Coyotes have benefited greatly from the near-extermination of wolves and have thrived in many areas that used to be almost exclusively wolf territory.

If one wants to understand grizzlies and wolves, and their interaction in the wild, a couple of the best sources you will find are two books by Adolf Murie. After spending all or portions of more than twentyfive seasons in Denali National Park (then called Mt McKinley National Park) he wrote "The Wolves of Mt McKinley" and "The Grizzlies of Mt McKinley". Both are still available in paperback, and are delightful reading.

The tiny cabin where Murie lived for some of his time in the park still stands along the park road near the East Fork of the Toklat. The cabin is currently used as a base for the lucky few who are selected for the Park's "Artist in Residence" program. Many thousands of tourists pass by that cabin each summer on the park buses. I suspect relatively few of them are aware of the landmark work Murie did there.

So, have bears been observed stealing a meal from a pack of wolves? Thats a bit more aggressive than I would have expected. I think ancient humans may have occasionally done that to lions, but as a group, not as individuals. I suspect a pack of wolves, it they wanted to could give a bear a very bad day.

Wolves will occaisionaly harass a bear, and bears will steal food from wolves. Their interactions are complex, but in general, neither will take any great chance in trying to steal a meal from the other. The risk of injury is too high, and even a minor injury means the injured animal is then at risk of being eaten. See the Murie books referenced in my other post for more info. Note that even a healthy moose is is more than capable of defending itself from wolves. The Alaska Moose (Alces alces gigas) native to Alaska and the Yukon, is the largest subspecies of the deer family. A single kick from a moose can virtually destroy a wolf. Even grizzlies will not mess with a healthy adult moose. At the same time, no other critter can seriously challenge a healthy grizzly.

The old, lame, and injured are always the primary prey of predators, whether wolf or bear.

Ya just need more dog! A friend of mine from Georgia told me of the Caucasian Shepherd.

Yeesh, is that a cross with a pony?


They will actually take-on bears, I understand.

Locally, they use Karelian Bear Dogs to deal with problem bears. Those dogs aren't as big as the Caucasian Shepherd, but they are willing to take on a bear.

Some (not all) of them are born with the instincts to handle bears safely and effectively. They use them to track bears and if they stumble upon the bear in the process, the dogs will protect their handler from it (unlike most dogs which will run back to their owner for protection). Often, when a bear has become habituated to humans, they use them to reinstall the bear's natural fear of humans (and dogs).

They don't really make good family pets because they are rather aggressive and need a lot of training.

I'm down to one dog... the dog in your link reminds me of her... the look in the eyes, the shape of the head. She is a problem dog... but a good dog, a smart dog, a loyal and protective dog... happy and enthusiastic... it is just who she is.

I'm sure Mr. Redford's environmental impact is greater than my own, although, who knows, maybe he buys clothing made from locally produced petrochemicals just like you; one thing is for sure, his personal income is many, many orders higher. Even so, the very fact that I live in Canada ensures that the resources I consume and the ecological harm that I cause far exceeds the vast majority of the world's inhabitants. Do I still get a free pass? At least Mr. Redford is out actively championing causes he believes in, as opposed to enjoying his sunset years lounging around some pool or flogging unless crap on the Home Shopping Channel.

One other thing... we can be assured that Mr. Girling's interests are first and foremost those of TransCanada and its shareholders (and understandably so), and that whenever he or his company engage the media on these kinds of matters those interests will be the first order of business.


No, I'm pretty sure that Robert Redford's clothing is not manufactured in Utah by local Mormons from locally produced petrochemicals originating in Utah gas wells.

I think it's more likely made from "organic" cotton and wool grown by slave labor in third world dictatorships, made into clothing in giant sweatshops staffed by underage child labor in East Asia, and then carried on the backs of overworked, underpaid mountain porters to Europe, where Redford buys it and then flies it back home to Utah in his private jet. Just a guess.

People don't take a hard look at where their stuff actually comes from. I actually do. I probably buy more stuff made in Utah from local petrochemicals than Redford does.

One think Redford needs to think about is that in the post-peak-oil era his ski resort is not going to do that well. If the rich Europeans, Japanese, and American Yuppies from the East and West Coasts can't afford to fly there, I don't think the local Utah Mormons will buy enough lift tickets to keep it solvent.

Not being privy to Mr. Redford's closets, I'm afraid I can't confirm whether his shirts are made from cotton, organic or otherwise, or locally sourced petrochemicals, as appears to be your preference. Whilst we're on this topic, any idea where Mr. Girling's environmental footprint clocks in, two corporate jets et all?


One thing I have always wondered about emissions, resource use etc is whether a per capita measurement is the best way to judge different countries.

Imagine two countries. Country A emits twice as much C02 as Country B on a per capita basis but has 10 times lower density compared to Country B. Should country A be allowed to emit more per capita because they kept population growth under control? Or should country A and B only be permitted to emit the same emissions per capita. Which is fairer?

To give a concrete example India has a population density of 368/KM^2 and the United States has a density of 32/KM^2. India produces 1.7 kilotonnes C02 whereas the United States produces 5.83 as at 2007. On a per area basis India produces 2 Kilotonnes per KM^2 and the United States produces 1.7 per KM^2. So is it morally sound for a country with lower population density to be allowed to emit more carbon per capita than a country which is over-populated?


Hi Paul,

I've never felt as if I were being lectured by either Mr. Redford or Mr. Ed Begley Jr. Mr. Redford has been active in the environmental community for over thirty years and supports various charities and foundations that are of particular interest to him, e.g., the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. And Ed Begley Jr. doesn't strike me as a "Do as I say, not as I do" sort of guy. You may or may not agree with their views, but I believe both men are sincere in their convictions and they've certainly proven themselves more than capable of engaging the public in an articulate and intelligent manner. I hope more of us will follow their example.


Hi Paul,

No question that these guys are sincere in their convictions, and certainly very good at public engagement, but what I don't like is that they think that being a public figure (unrelated to energy matters except as a consumer) makes their view more important than other people's.

Ed walks the talk - sort of - but he is making a lot of money out of his show that is notionally telling us how to live a lower impact life. It is great that he has the money and time to set his house up and live the way he does, and even get paid to live the way he does, but how many of us can do that?

As for Redford, he makes part of his money from a ski resort - an environmentally unfriendly (but very enjoyable) business on several levels. he host the film festival there where people fly in from all over the world - will he start doing it via skype to save fuel?
He has never - to my knowledge - spoken out against Robert Kennedy and co, who have campaigned against wind power in Ct, because it would spoil their views, and neither has anyone else from the entertainment industry. That would be the same Robert Kennedy who would fly all his celebrity friends to Banff each year for a ski weekend to raise money for his waterkeeper alliance, telling all of us in Calgary how we should stop development of this and that - as he enjoys the fruits of a ski development in one of the world's great national parks.

Ted Turner goes and speaks at the American Wind Energy Association last year, championing their cause, yet doesn't have a single wind turbine on his large Montana ranch, and won;t put up any;

Until better incentives are issued for wind, Turner finds it unfeasible to install large-scale wind operations on his own land, which he hopes will soon change. He closed with a sense of urgency, saying, “I’ve never seen anything so clear and overwhelming as the case for wind, solar and geothermal right now.”

So overwhleming that he, a man with more money than he knows what to do with, and a windy property that he owns, won't do it himself until he gets taxpayer money to do so?

I didn't see Redford or Begley or anyone else from the entertainment industry criticising him for that double standard. And I don;t see any of them giving up what they do to go into public service to try and change things.

I think the thing that ticks me off most about these sorts weighing in on these issues, is that the modern entertainment industry, and its celebrities, owe their existence almost entirely to the benefits of modern technology and fossil fuels that power it. In the 19th century there were not many superstar entertainers they could not distribute recorded material, or themselves, worldwide. The postwar oil boom and air travel has been of tremendous benefit to them -they cannot fly around the country/world without the benefits of fossil fuels, though some championed efforts to make bio jet fuel - which almost always comes from oil palms grown on former rainforest land in Malaysia/Indonesia.

Some of them rail against "globalisation" yet they sell their own entertainment all over the world - theirs is arguably one of the most globalised industries there is. They make token efforts to "green" their own industry, yet look at the amount of resources and man hours - $1bn - commandeered by James Cameron to make Avatar. He then flies around the world to promote his movie about using less resources, and demands an audience with the Alberta premier to chastise him about the oil sands.

They have *never* acknowledged that their success has been enabled by fossil energy.
So before they start telling all of us to make do with less, I'd like to see them admit they got to where they are by using more.

That would be very sincere, IMO, and I would have a lot more respect for Redford et al if they would do that.

And Ed Begley Jr. doesn't strike me as a "Do as I say, not as I do" sort of guy.

Gotta add more to Ed's defense here (don't know anything applicable to Redford.) I read an article in the Toronto Star a couple of years back (don't have a link, unfortunately; behind a pay wall.) Ed wanted to stop using air travel because he was aware of the appearance of a disconnect between what he said and what he did, so he talked to David Suzuki about it. Mr. Suzuki told him that he was worth more to the environmental movement if he spoke to a broader public, and that meant air travel. For an environmentalist, this is essentially a dispensation from the Pope. And Ed was still vacillating.

For me, this cinches Mr. Begley's commitment -and humility.


And I've said before, we can do certain things which have a nagative footprint, such as contracting to have carbon sequestered -or to purchase PV powered lighting for poor rural folks, who would otherwise use kerosine lanterns. Someone with a lot of money can (doesn't mean they do) contract to have a lot of this sort of thing done.

Lets say someone drove down to Home Depo, and bought 500CFL bulbs, then gave them out to the poor. Would he be a hypocrit, because he consumed a gallon of gas doing that?

Well in America we've replaced independent thinking with the cult of personality. If X, Y, or Z person says or thinks this, then it must be true.

Not to mention the decline of the media, where integrity and truth seeking have been sacrificed in the quest for more almighty fiat dollars.

Hopefully as these almighty fiat dollars become worth less and less in real value, even as they become scarcer in their availability, many of these institutions will just disappear.

I am not convinced, for example, that producing a gazillion repetitive CGI movies every year is a productive activity. Hollywood could go the way of the dodo and few would miss it.

Solely based on my own biased and elitist anecdotal observation...
The average person isn't equipped for much in the way of independent thought, this isn't Lake Woebegone. The average pol/actor is about a standard deviation brighter than the average citizen, and about a standard deviation less bright than the average participant here (who is equipped for some independent thought). The typical policy wonk has an IQ similar to the average here. The great original thinker has an IQ one or two standard deviations higher yet.

How do you feel about Sundance providing alternatives to those gazillion repetitive CGI movies?

I'm not much of a film buff. My main point is that nature takes care of things, given enough time.

So many of the entities in America, and the people associated with them, are dinosaurs. Dinosaurs go extinct.

We can either let them go extinct, or we can try to save them and sacrifice the currency, and thereby everybody, in the process.

The entertainment industry is being used as a Trojan Horse in an effort to restrict the internet.

The internet is the only voice you've got.

The entertainment industry corrupts culture.

Let it die. The sooner, the better. Maybe we will go back to entertaining ourselves and each-other from the heart.

And, yes, I've made money in the 'biz:
The "Alien" series, "Terminator" series, video games, television, and the cover-boy for "The Best of Sex and Violence" back in 1981... The beard's white, now.

RR, does have some class. I met a gal who bumped into him (quite literally), on the ski slope. Knocked him down. It was her fault but he apologized and disted himself off..... [No she didn't get a date]

At a 711 in Sausalito, a little guy in front of me was asking about batteries when I wanted to get home for a shower. I asked if I could check thru and he apologized and left. Very courteous.

The checkout guy said I had just 86ed RR. So it goes.

I don't get the big deal about the pipeline? Really I could care less. It would be nice for the jobs it would create. It cool off hurt some irons I have in the fire and it would compete with interest that I have in the GOM, but that in itself doesn't put me against it.

If you are a person against it because of climate change, well that oil is going to get burned with or without the pipeline. Maybe more carbon may be created trying to ship the oil in a less efficient manner. All of the other environmental reasons are red herrings pipelines over land are much safer than the alternative. Without the pipeline you will get the alternative.

I think Obama screwed up on this one, he wasn't going to loose his base by allowing this to happen, but he may have looked better by adding thousands of jobs and at least looked like he was trying to bring in more oil in order to lower gas prices.

The Republicans won't loose any votes over this, heck the unions that lost millions due to Obama's decision may just stay home during the next election.

My understanding is that the approval matter will all come around again next year and that all Obama was doing was putting the brakes on "fast tracking" the environmental review process. "Fast tracking" naturally meaning to the Republicans now whining about it - "just forget about some dumb fish, birds, caribou, (fill in blank)". Given the BP debacle I can't believe Obama wouldn't easily be able to smash this back in the face of Boehner et al. - mighty short memory there guys and, oh by the way, you must be lunatics to think that we would "fast track" anything after what we went thru in the Gulf...

I've been mostly unimpressed by Obama's first term but the fact that he finally didn't cave to BS name calling and "job creator" nonsense but instead appears to be allowing the process to occur as it was designed offers me a tiny bit of hope. Now whether that design is valid is another matter entirely - don't like it ? call your representatives - have them change the law...

I suspect though that this was a trial balloon in what will be an ever increasing flurry of circumventing / repealing / ignoring environmental law and regulations in the name of offering up some easy to swallow half baked "solutions" to the populace to confront the crisis of the year/month.

I will also admit though that my knowledge of situation is very limited and based on what I heard on a short news report covering the rejection of the pipeline - so please enlighten me if I have it all (or mostly) wrong...

think that we would "fast track" anything after what we went thru in the Gulf...

Or, after what they went through after fast tracking the Solyndra loan guarantees. They learned the hard way that haste, even in a good cause, never goes unpunished.

Well, Obama does possess the power to rubber stamp any of these investments he wants. He should, however, be more careful what he rubber stamps. Unlike the Solyndra loan guarantees, the Keystone XL project puts no taxpayer dollars at risk.

The trouble with touchy-feely investments such as those in solar energy is that they can cost you an awful lot of money if you don't take a hard look at what exactly you have risked the taxpayers' money on, and whether or not it just sounds good but has no rational economic basis.

In the context of the fast injection of stimulus money into the economy needed to stop a freefalling economy, which was the case at the time of the Solyndra deal, the risks of losing taxpayer money on some deals is less important than getting the money injected into the economy quickly. So an approach that carefully balances societal risks versus benefits (without consideration of potential political complications), would accept a greater level of risk during such times, than during other more normal times. Obviously different political persuasions see such things differently. If you follow Krugman, at such times hiring people to dig and refill holes is you have to. [I think Keynes originated that example]. Of course politics, especially in the USA is all about creating a public firestorm over something the opposition did, and nuances involving the optimization of government policy are completely lost.

Even in normal times, how much time and effort should be expended in order to insure that an investment in a critical future capabilty (getting it sooner, rather than later is seen as a large public good), should be subject to debate. There are no easy answers. Vet everything completely (all due diligence), would lead to needless delay, and a major opportunity cost. Go too quickly, and the number of bad apples that gets funded goes up. Having political opportunists hovering over the field just waiting for bad apples with which to destroy their opponents, doesn't help the process.

It's funny but cash injections into risky private companies using my tax dollars is fine, but when Bush talked about allowing me to direct my Social Security funds into investments of my choosing, well that's "crazy talk".

Krugman is an idiot and many so called Keynesians take the ideas that Keynes had and pervert them. Even Keynes wouldn't do what we have been doing in this economy for the last 50 years or so. Keynes called for a surplus when needed and for deficits when necessary, but we haven't been disciplined enough for one part of that equation.

Krugman is almost always right. If Bushes diversion of SS funding to private accounts had gone through the pay as you go part of the system (funding all existing retirees, would have been starved of funds). Opposition wasn't just about the restriction of choice, its about maintaining the integrity of the system. But, system analysis is not a strongpoint of the right.

Analyzing the system that gave Solyndra a cash infusion of my money is what I'm talking about. Analyzing a system that gives corporate welfare to Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland and the like so we can have ethanol shoved down our throats is a big problem.

I'm saying that the left is ok with risky unsustainable investments using tax dollars if they are handing out the money, but they wouldn't allow me to make a decision with my social security funds thats in the lock box, LOL.

When you say "integrity of the system" are you serious? Analysis is not a strong point of either political party if you look at the results of the last 50 years or so. Both parties are going down a path that's not sustainable whether it's big spending republicans or big spending democrats it's the wrong direction. Large portions of Europe, that the left used to point toward as a good example of where we should be is proof of that.

Well at least the democrats do honestly analyze what the welfare system does to people over generations? And the end result is a crime against humanity! It's no different than the result corporate welfare loving republicans expect, more votes and more power!

"Peter Schiff was right", Ron Paul, Jim Rogers, Marc Faber, and many others have been correct when predicting future events. Put Krugman in a debate with Peter Schiff and see which one passes the sniff test. Even J.M.Keynes would disagree with Krugman's current take on economics. If Keynes knew how they would pick and choose his theories he would have changed his theories. It's Buffet style Keynesianism, where you always have deficit spending and never get around to a surplus.


"touchy-feely investments such as those in solar energy .... and whether or not it just sounds good but has no rational economic basis."

Oh, Please. It's so easy to sound all hard-nosed about those 'unproductive expenses' when you're willing to blithely overlook a pair of unnecessary wars that have outstripped WWII in duration, and similarly unchallenged payouts for holding together a massively inefficient system keeping the Mideast Oil routes well-buttered and lavishly patched.

If that Solyent Green money was blown on some Joint Strike Force Fighter, that kind of brass-tacks payback argument gets quickly swept behind grandiose claims of National Security. THAT is the Touchy-feely stuff, RMG. Cheap, Uncritical Patriotism at any cost.

The gambles we're taking trying out various forms of Solar and Battery Tech may often be long shots, but they're nowhere NEAR as financially outrageous as our insecure and inappropriate security appropriations. Keep it in perspective a bit, eh?

Solindra: 500 million dollars

F-35: 100-300 million dollars each
40 billion dollars in development.

Both have problems.
A huge media circus was made of Solindra.

You hit the nail dead-on the head there...

'Both have problems.'

Well.. maybe it's because I'm watching the John Le Carre' Interview with Amy Goodman, but I have to say the way you seem to have coolly posed the two sides sounds a little to me like the 'let's hear both sides' Fox News approaches to Climate Change.

(http://www.democracynow.org/2010/11/25/british_novelist_john_le_carr_on )

Yes, I was the one to bring up ONE military program, and it's against merely ONE solar example in my post (sort of).. but the 'problems' on both sides are a lot like the balance of Scientists on Both Sides of the Climate issue.

Sorry, Dr. Malcolm put the best histrionics onto the comparison..

HAMMOND "Look at Disneyland, Ian. When Walt opened Disneyland in 1956, NOTHING Worked!"

MALCOLM: "Sure, but, John, when the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks, the Pirates don't EAT the Guests!" (Jurassic Park)

I am confused.

The interview is fun!:
"I remain terrified of the capacity of the media, the capacity of spin doctors, here and abroad, particularly the United States media, to perpetuate false lies, perpetuate lies. Mussolini, I think, defined fascism as the moment when you couldn’t put a cigarette paper between political and corporate power." "...I worry terribly that the absence of serious critical argument is going to produce a new kind of fanaticism..."

"Both have problems"... Cylindra faced the Chinese onslaught into solar... They took the armor off of the f-35 because it weighed too much... among a host of others for both: neither was perfect. We only got to hear loudly about Cylindra... But, I am not sure what argument I am addressing. Could you clarify?

You are correct, and I will point out that few people of any political stripe care to give anywhere near the same scrutiny to U.S. DoD/MIC expenditures, some of which seem to fall into the 'Fraud, Waste, and Abuse' category.

Some of you might enjoy reading the book 'Imaginary Weapons', which focuses on the carnival hucksters who bilked DARPA out of money to pursue the induced gamma emission of Hafnium 142m, allegedly demonstrated (but never replicated) using energy input from a used dental X-ray machine.


Then one can look at the case of the very expensive development of the Navy A-12 Low-Observable attack aircraft, the government termination of this effort, and the subsequent termination fees.

Then research the ridiculous history of the Air Force's attempt to acquire a new aerial refueling tanker to replace the Eisenhower-era KC-135s...we can't even produce a prosaic aerial refueling tanker without requirements documents with 300+ requirements statements, and without three different acquisition efforts (the initial attempt to sole-source from Boeing, the competition after McCain led the protest resulting in an EADS selection, then the Boeing protest that resulted in the Boeing selection...

...there are legion other examples...

The Solyndra episode was unfortunate and the government hopefully learned a lesson resulting in better due diligence in the future...but...at $500M, the Solyndra episode is a rounding error in the upwards to $1T USD U.S. MIC annual budget....which is rife with questionable (I am being charitable with that characterization) expenditures.

My point here is /Not/ that 'two wrongs make a right' or any such foderol, but that we certainly have folks out there with selective attention whose silence is deafening over any MIC fiscal travesties, but who are only too eager to pile on any such episodes on the alt-energy front.

Edit: Jokuhl said it better. What he said, in spades.

I know someone who works for the empire...I wish I could share with you the many particulars...

who are only too eager to pile on any such episodes on the alt-energy front.

We are rife with political opportunists. Some with a partisan or ideological motivation. Some simply sell there wares to the highest bidder. The destruction of reputations is the object. Some project types have effective defenses (this is for defense, and anyone who challenges it is unpatriotic and an agent of our enemies...), and some do not.

Cat - Like you I don't consider myself an expert on the matter and I'm sure one of our resident smarty pants will correct me. Environmental impact analysis was done long ago on a state level. The issue isn't so much fed approval for the line per se but approval for the border crossing of the oil. That's the permit that has been put on hold(?) More importantly I've seen a number of folks explain their lack of support for the p/l because they don't like the env. impact on Canadian lands, they don't want more oil consumed, don't want more GHG generated, they don't want to risk potential neg. env. impacts of pumping that oil across the mid section of the US, etc.

But as I understand it not building the Keystone p/l won't achieve any of those goals. The oil is being mined in Canada today, it is being pumped across the midsection of the US today and it is being refined and burned producing that GHG from that "dirty oil" as you read my words. What Keystone would do is get the oil to the Gulf Coast more efficiently and in theory reduce the cost of US consumers (thus lowering the price I get for my GC crude...bad...very bad...LOL). Additionally instead of the oil being shipped through existing pipelines that have been in service for decades (similar to the p/l that broke and spilled oil into the Yellowstone River) it would be shipped thru a new p/l built to higher standards that most existing p/l's...the 100's of thousands of miles of hydrocarbon lines that currently crisscross the country today.

Corrections to any misunderstanding of the situation are always appreciated. I suspect Rocky can confirm that nearly every bbl of tar sand oil being produced today is currently being piped into the US right now and will continue whether Keystone is built or not. In that sense the only real negative impact from the president's decision to delay approval is higher costs for the American consumer and lower income for the Canadian govt and the oil sands operators. Me and 99% of the US oil patch are just fine with that. Sorry Rocky...nothing personal...just business.

"I've been mostly unimpressed by Obama's first term but the fact that he finally didn't cave to BS name calling and "job creator" nonsense"

That is a very true statement. No one is confusing Obama with a job creator!

I wonder if a President Romney with a Vice President Santorum would excel at being 'job creators'.

It now has been demonstrated that tax cuts do not guarantee job creation and employment growth (see Bush, continued by Obama, tax cuts).

It has been demonstrated that government stimulus does not lead to dramatic job creation either.

However, to be fair, in both cases a case could be made for each of these measures averting an even worse outcome in employment...the tax cuts may have helped avert a crash post 9-11, and the stimulus may have averted a deep recession/perhaps depression spiraling out of control from the ~2008 carsh.

The real question is whether and how the economic landscape has and is and will change in response to Limits to Growth factors, and also to the past, present, and future effects of increasing automation, lean/efficient processes, and offshore outsourcing...

...and what, if anything, any President of any stripe (and Congress as well) can do about it.

The current candidates seem to be clustered around current BAU policies...the two clearly different tracks would be a government in the U.S. with policies similar to certain European 'Social Democrat' systems, which is not going to happen (probability <5% in the next 20 years IMO), or a government that is dramatically Libertarian/minimalist, such as is vocalized by Ron Paul, and I think that has a <10% chance of happening in the next 20 years.

My apologies to non-U.S. readers, my comments are U.S.-centric...YMMV.

The biggest thing with stimulus, is it is only tried during deep crises (indeed if the crisis isn't deep enough that interest rates drop to near zero, then the central bank can gas the economy by dropping interest rates). And inevitably, political controversy means any stimulus actually applied (Great depression, and the 08 crisis) is undersized. Its like jumping out of an airplane and using an undersized parachute, one schools proclaims "parachutes don't work, witness the broken legs of the jumper", the other side claims, "well he'd be dead if he didn't have one...next time let us double the size of the schute".

Tax cuts do provide some stimulus. Changing the balance of flow money spent by government minus money taken in, either pumps money into the economy, or removes it. But different stimulus strategies have different multipliers. How does a dollar of stimulus get used? Is it spent or saved? Is it spent in ways that cause other spending or investment to occur. Generally the tax cuts have a fairly low multiplier -especially if they are targetted at the rich. Tax cuts for the poor, are mostly spent right away, so the multiplier is better there. The long term cost to the government of a dollar spent on stimulus (ignoring interest for simplicity) is less than a dollar, because any extra economic activity enegendered by it generates some additional tax revenue (the guy you gave a job, pays taxes...). If the stimulus is spent on investment goods, like say a toll collecting bridge, the government could in principal reduce its long term deficit i.e. if revenue generated by the bridge exceeds the cost to the government (principle plus interst -minus tax revenues from extra economic activity). You should note that government investing is (taking management the same) more efficient than private, because any taxes paid by the economic activity accrues to the government. Of course the incentives for management decisions are not the same, but the advantage from tax acrual is in fact substantial. Economic activity of an enterprise is an external from the standpoint of the project (in this case the people raising the money and building the bridge) is an external public good from the standpoint of the project. But the government gets tax reciepts from that externality -a private corp wouldn't.

In a time like the present where interst rates are low, the government could invest in infrastructure at low cost, and probably make money longterm (i.e. pay back the bonds, plus generate extra tax reciepts). It should be a scandal that we (and most of the rest of the world) are doing austerity at this time, rather than investing in needed future infrastructure like alt energy and efficient use of energy etc. But, human cognitive processes have weaknesses, and a huge plurality falls for the meme "I gotta make painful cuts, the government should too".


good thoughts, thanks for sharing.

In my dream World, we would allocate more resources to a more diverse, robust, and resilient energy infrastructure, more to bringing manufacturing jobs back within our borders, and more on science/research/education, and less on some other non-productive endeavors...it is nice to dream.

Yes. The energy infrastructure. Those jobs can not be outsourced. From the centralized view: The energy highways would invite more jobs. Without the means to move it, energy from novel sources is stranded. Without the means to store and distribute it, energies for transportation are constrained. From the distributed generation view: now would be a good time to start offering neighborhoods a means of functioning independently: without total reliance on a central supply.

From the distributed generation view: now would be a good time to start offering neighborhoods a means of functioning independently: without total reliance on a central supply.

I think that communities are starting to do just that.

One Regional District (equivalent to a County) produced Canada's first Energy Resiliency Plan - it reads a bit like a Transition town document, but they are clearly thinking about this stuff. Too bad the primary economic engine of the are - Whistler ski resort - will be hit hardest and fall farthest from peak oil and/or economic decline


What would be the reaction of the Fed gov and monied interests if every county in the US started doing this, and taking it seriously?

That's a great document. It includes a concise introduction to peak oil. It could be presented as the basis of an TOD article.

I don't know what they would do. It presents as a money-making opportunity. It transfers to whom the money flows. Usually, that is a no-go.

An amusing triviality: In California, the winter has been warm and without snow. In response, the ski resorts have been making snow. This involves lots of power. So, as the climate warms, more energy will be used to make snow... making more CO2... Another dreaded positive feedback!

EOS, We don't and didn't need stimulus. Stimulus is a short term high that creates the next bubble, so politicians can get re-elected now with no regard to the future.

In the big picture Bush's tax cuts were not cuts at all if you look at the inflation that resulted in his big spending then Obama doubled down like he's Bush on steriods. Deficits and debasing our currency is a hidden tax increase that cowardly politicians of all stripes can hide behind. They devaluate your holdings, spend more money and then get to say they never raised taxes at all. It's a BS shell game.

I can't believe people that understand peak oil theories also think that stimulus bubble economic priciples are reasonable and sustainable, it's not. The growing welfare state, everlasting deficit spending and dilution of our currency is just as unsustainable as acting like we will have cheap oil forever. It's all a fantasy!

In a time like the present where interst rates are low, the government could invest in infrastructure at low cost, and probably make money longterm (i.e. pay back the bonds, plus generate extra tax reciepts). It should be a scandal that we (and most of the rest of the world) are doing austerity at this time, rather than investing in needed future infrastructure like alt energy and efficient use of energy etc.

BHP Billiton did this with their mines and infrastructure in the Pilbara when the GFC hit. They maintained and even increased spending while costs were low, and are now reaping the benefits big time.

Bellistner, the reason we in America can't invest in infrastructure projects when cost are low and interest rates are cheap, is because our government wasn't disaplined enough to run a surplus during good times. Whether many here want to believe it or not, truely following the theories of JM Keynes as many claim to do takes disapline. We don't have that disapline and that's part of the reason for our economic problems.

I'm sure BHP had a much better balance sheet than the USA does now, when they made there invested during poor economic times. Our problem is that many know we'll never pay them back. All it's going to take is one bond auction when the Chinese don't show up or another debt downgrade and this house of cards is going to collapse.

For people saying the stimulus wasn't big enough and that's the problem look at it this way. If we as a country were strong enough fiscally to dish out a grand stimulus package that was massive enough to fix our economic problems, well we wouldn't have any economic problems.

You are correct that the only 3 post-war (WWII) presidents who did not decrease the national debt as a percentage of GDP (which does not require running a surplus) during economic good times demonstrated not just a lack of fiscal discipline but a willful disregard for true conservative economic principles. Those presidents were Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush, and George W. Bush. Despite their profligacy, our debt burden is not and was not high enough to prevent us from implementing an effective stimulus, that was all politics. Stimulus spent on infrastructure increases physical capital as well as increasing debt. Intelligent fiscal stimulus would massively improve the fiscal situation.

P.S. I'll give Poppy a pass on the 'willful' aspect above.

A tribute to Fox News.

Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.

The Party does not allow individuals to keep records of their past, such as photographs or documents. As a result, memories become fuzzy and unreliable, and citizens become perfectly willing to believe whatever the Party tells them. By controlling the present, the Party is able to manipulate the past. And in controlling the past, the Party can justify all of its actions in the present.

The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible.


It's very imformative how you left out who controlled congress through much of the same period the presidents you named held office. I think they are all part of the problem, but you only pointed to Republican presidents and not the congress that held the purse strings and what about the populace from the top down that begs for more goodies. It's not just some presidents and people with an R behind their name who lack disapline. It's across the board.

Very telling!

It's the way both sides play the game.

The Regal Presidency definitely exists in the political mind, even though the US Constitution calls for the President to be a mere executive of the laws.

The kind of people that believe in the "Regal Presidency" are probably the same kind of people that Fascist dictators depend on to either support or fear them in the early stages while they are gaining power.

Yep. Cheney and Scalia come to mind.

Those 3 Presidents served for 20 years, during 12 of which Congress was not controlled by Democrats, and during 20 of which the Presidents had veto power on reversing tax giveaways. During the years that Congress was Democratic, the budgets passed had smaller deficits than requested by the White House.

We have the debt for a very simple reason, tax breaks for the rich which started with Reagan. If you don't believe me, answer a simple question: How much more tax would Romney have paid under Carter?

In personal finance people never want to admit a spending problem until it's too late. Even if we taxed 10 million Romney's at 100 percent our leaders would figure a way to spend 200 percent of the funds they had aquired. If you don't know people who make a high wage, but still can't control their credit card debt and other debt then your not experienced enough to be taken serious on this issue. Our government is just like those type of people that bring home a good steady check and are further than broke.

Our government needs the Dave Ramsey and Suzy Orman to teach them to handle the finances.

It will always be a spending problem, until we break the system just like many other Empires broke their's.

It's also a taxation problem, but not in the obvious way.

Since the US has a regressive taxation system it increases the need for services from the lower classes while decreasing government revenues.

Keep the average percentage tax at the same level but tilt the balance so the highest earners consistently pay the highest percentage and a lot of the problems we see would sort themselves out.

You obviously haven't looked at the numbers. http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy10/pdf/hist.pdf

In 2009 we collected just 7.7 percent of GDP in corporate and individual income taxes. That's the lowest percentage in the postwar era. It's about half the post-war high of 14.1 which came in 1952.

For the 20 years of those three presidents the average collected was 9.66% of GDP, for the remainder of the post-war era to 2009 the average was 11.4%. It's a income tax revenue problem NOT a spending problem. In fact, we spend substantially too little on 'discretionary' spending. We should be spending more and investing in infrastructure. Which party owns the tax rates on the rich that currently obtain? Why do multi-millionaires pay lower tax rates than the median household? I dare you to try and hang that on Democrats. You would deserve to be laughed off the planet.

I believe in running a primary surplus during boom periods (this is not a boom period). Currently we need to be running even larger deficits than we are, although the tax incidence needs to change. In the short term we need bigger deficits (partially offset by higher taxes on estates, capital gains, dividends, financial transactions, and upper incomes) thru infrastructure spending, workfare, and unemployment benefit expansion; in the medium term we need higher tax rates on the rich and lower healthcare spending.

"I dare you to try and hang that on Democrats."

Dare me? Go ahead, heck why not triple dog dare me? I think everyone in congress and all of the presidents since Johnson are to blame for the direction we are going. Anyone from either party that denies that is part of the problem.

You say we should be spending more on infrastucture and you are obviously a fan of the Keynesian thought process, but we can't follow Keysnesian policies on spending in hard times, because we didn't save during the good times. Keynes didn't allow for politicians from any party to have no disapline and for that reason his theories ultimately fail.

My apologies to non-U.S. readers, my comments are U.S.-centric...YMMV.

Heisenburg, please don't fret about that. US politics is an important element in the scheme of things.

I won't complain if Americans talk about America if you don't complain about Canadians talking about Canada or New Zealanders talking about New Zealand or Norwegians talking about Norway. Nor should there be any restriction about talking about one another. The point is to be relevant, at least in some vague or creative way, to the topic of energy.

Besides, most of us trust Leanan to pull it if it's too far off topic;-)

Canadians talking about Canada or New Zealanders talking about New Zealand ...

I think thats great. I like to watch the foreign news. Not only is it about things I'd never hear about with the local variety, but they usually do in depth stuff, instead of the shallow dualing soundbites served up by our (dis)infotainment mavens. It is important, and interesting to read about the ROW.


Thanks, I enjoy reading about other counties besides the U.S. and hope to continue to do so!

We all share this one small 'rare Earth' (tip of the hat to Ward and Brownlee).

It has a very direct effect on Mexico so I keep track of it. When candidates say crazy things about drugs, immigration and borders I start to look over my shoulder more.


"However, to be fair, in both cases a case could be made for each of these measures averting an even worse outcome in employment...the tax cuts may have helped avert a crash post 9-11, and the stimulus may have averted a deep recession/perhaps depression spiraling out of control from the ~2008 carsh."

I understand much of what your saying and I think that the Non US readers may understand even more than we do about this, because some of them are living the results of either poor or good economic policy.

I think we are finding out that stimulus either by Bush or Obama was and is wrongheaded. As Peter Schiff would say the recession is the cure, it corrects the mal-investments that caused the bubble in the first place, it should be embraced. We can't keep creating bubbles, just because we're not willing to deal with the pain of the next recession. That's not sustainable.

Both the right and the left have it wrong when they discuss the Great Depression for instance. Krugman would tell you that it was big government and Roosevelt that got us on track, Newt would say it's was a war that did the trick. They are both wrong it was the pain and the scar left on people and business that changed them for decades. Look at banking rules in America that was born during the great depression, they only changed when the people of the depression generation were long retired. Do you think that the bankers that survived the problems brought on by the loose money roaring twenties generation and then had to struggle through the resulting great depression would have allowed "No doc" or "NINJA" loans? Certainly not.

This recession hopefully is laying the goundwork for more reasonable future expectations, then these bubbles and bust can stop for a while.

That is why, save for my refusal at throwing off environmental controls which have kept the U.S. from being like the filth-drenched examples I have seen in some spots around the World, that I think that a Ron Paul, if he has support from Congress, would shock the system to a new reality.

Many folks here think one of two things:

1. The free market needs to be unfettered by government spending; if government drastically downsizes in budget and expenditures, after a period of adjustment, people would be empowered to create their own future, make their own rain, etc, and personal and societal wealth would be maximized. As far as reducing people's footprints, sustainability, etc...not so much. That is one theory, in very broad strokes.

2. People, especially in the U.S., need to do less with less, reduce their ecological footprint, and live more simply. Much current 'work' is unnecessary as it is in the service of providing much unnecessary crappy products and 'services'. Another huge broad brush description...theory #2.

I figure that if a Ron Paul-like figure, with Congressional allies, enacted the Ron Paul agenda of engineering a rapid, huge government contraction, the chips would fall towards either outcome # 1 or #2.

It would be an interesting experiment.

The only other other-than-BAU experiment would be a big time Social Democracy...

Obama, Romney or even Gingrich would be more or less more of the same BAU.

I will say that a Romney or Gingrich may be more prone to more ill-advised overseas military adventures than Obama...

That's a very good analysis and that's why I have such a problem with people that claim to be progressive, liberal or western socialist and also claim to be the only ones that care about the environment. Most libertarians don't mind letting the chips fall where they may, many of the Tea Party people don't mind living a simple life. Many of them already do live a life that's better for the environment, they just don't want to be forced to do it with the threat of violence if they decline.

The principals the most Ron Paul supporters have is simply freedom, liberty, sound money, no Empirial foriegn adventures and fiscal resposibility. Now in their personal lives one may grow a five acres patch of Medicinal plant that's currently illegal in the US, one may be the gun toting redneck "prepper" that waves a rebel flag and plans for TSHF, another is the college kid that's just starting to understand what life is about.

If we get the government out of our lives, lower spending, stop the stimulus and then allow this recession to force people to live in a more sustainable way, that will be good for the environment. Lowering the comfort level for people on government assistance will lower the population, that will help the environment. Stopping Corporate welfare will allow our resources to be allocated properly and not allocated to who has the best lobbiest on K-Street.

Oh yeah, Ron Paul can't win! That's very true.

Considering how the right has made it their priority to refuse any of the Jobs Programs he has brought to the table, and had his Green Energy Jobs advisor run out of the position on unrelated slander..

It's wrong to blame that failure on him alone.

The pipeline should be a piece in a chess game Obama needs something passed to help the middle class but wait until when the GOP last two for prez are known. The spring spike in energy cost developes consumers want relief the tax item and the pipleline joined at the hip and see if the other side blinks or if the two wannabes waffle.Might I add it's not going to make any difference who's the Prez is with the hit from peak oil.

it's not going to make any difference who's the Prez is with the hit from peak oil.

I think it will make a great deal of difference; as to who is targetted to be the scapecoats! If the party affiliation begins with the letter "R", rest assured that we will be on the shortlist.

"Scapegoat" Well it'll mean that someone will finally have to stand up and tell the truth of where we're at in the history of time.And your or my guess is good as any as to what direction it'll take for future generation what is taken for granted today,if you never had had it you'll never miss it.

The main dualing scapecoating narratives we are likely to see in the near term:

(1): Its the fault of those who opposed efforts to create alternatives, and increase efficiency.

(2): We could have had it all, except those in camp 1, prevented drill-drill-drill, and the operation of the totally unfettered free market.

The identities of those being marched up to the guillotine will be different depending upon which group has effective power at the time. And the future trajectory of the system will be different in the two cases.

Obviously the viewpoint from 200 years in the future will lead to very different attitudes than are prevalent today. Any guesses as to which side they would wish had prevailed?

It's obviously the the fault of those Iranians, who want to cut their domestic oil consumption by building nuclear power stations, so they can export more... forcing us to inflict sanctions that stifles their production and making them export more to China.

Regarding link up top: “Cold Front: Conflict Ahead in Arctic Waters,” by David Fairhall. There is an excerpt from the book on Salon. It is interesting that Fairhall, who is a defense correspondent, believes that some sort of accord will be reached between arctic nations:

"There are admittedly numerous conflicts of interest, not excluding close allies like Canada and the USA, who have radically different views on the legal status of the North-West Passage and are in dispute over their shared continental shelf. There has even been some gentle sabre rattling as Canada asserts its sovereignty and Russia rebuilds its naval strength. But this does not mean they are looking for trouble. .........the most obvious new source of economic prosperity is in the gas, oil and rare minerals hidden beneath the Arctic. Finding, extracting and selling them at a profit is a lengthy process, measured not just in years but in decades. It can only be achieved from a reasonably stable platform of international technical, legal and financial co-operation – international oil companies want to know where they are going to pay their taxes. ........ And that suggests that expensively suited lawyers, rather than men in uniform, will be in the front line of any arctic conflict."

I've ordered a copy of the book, but haven't recieved it yet. (The dogsleds are sometimes slow delivering our mail up here.)

Regarding link up top Scientists fire salvo in Canada's bid to control Arctic seabed

Much of the data was collected jointly in a five year project involving Canadian and US researchers, using icebreakers of both countries. See NOAA's webpage on this project.

First, let me help myself to a large serving of crow. I recently said that Home Depot had lowered their price on the Philips Ambient A19 LED lamp from $25.00 to $15.00. Unfortunately, that deal is only available at designated stores in Minnesota (a local utility has rebated part of the cost). The rest of us will have to wait a little longer.


Prize-winning LED 'bulb' to go on sale next month
Philips' high-efficiency LED replacement for 60 W incandescent bulbs to become available from February

Philips, the sole winner (so far) of the US Department of Energy’s “L Prize” competition to replace 60 W incandescent bulbs with a high-performance LED equivalent, is set to launch the winning products commercially next month.


The L Prize criteria demand a unique combination of overall brightness, electrical efficiency, warm-white light and high color rendering index (CRI) that places the technology meeting those targets at the very top of the range in solid-state lighting.

That, of course, comes at a cost. But at the DOE webinar, Philips Lighting’s Todd Manegold outlined that despite the high cost of the technology, in many common applications it would still offer a very short payback period. In those estimations, the price of the LED bulb is set at $50 – a hundred times that of a conventional incandescent bulb. But with the Philips replacement only consuming 10 W, energy consumption is cut by 83%.

See: http://optics.org/news/3/1/25

I had mentioned sometime ago that the initial selling price for this L-Prize lamp would be "a whopper". Looks like I got that part right.


I paid full price for one of those Philips bulbs for a spot that was too small for fluorescents and where incandescents kept burning out. I can say that the Philips bulb produces excellent light and I am happy with it for this purpose -- beats replacing the fixture.

Any thoughts about the bulbs soon to be available from Switch Lighting? They are supposed to come on the market at $20.


Hi Jon,

I'm afraid I know nothing about the company nor their forthcoming products other than the little that I've read elsewhere, but I wish them well and hope that they achieve great things.

That said, it will be difficult to secure shelf space among the big box retailers and grocery chains as that's all pretty much locked-up by the Big Three (GE, Osram-Sylvania and Philips), and without this retail presence it's awfully tough sledding. This is a high volume/low margin game, and if your competitors are cranking these products out by the millions and you're producing in the tens of thousands... well, let's just say there's little room for error, especially when these other guys have deep pockets and huge R&D resources at their disposal, good marketing savvy and strong channel partners.


I just spoke to someone at the local Home Depot here in Minneapolis and he said the Philips bulbs were flying off the shelves since the sale was announced in the local paper a couple days ago.

He suggested ordering it on line from the Home Depot web site and insisted the sale was available on line, too. And there is free shipping if you order $40 or more. I assume that, if I can get this deal here, you can get it at there web site wherever you are.

No surprise that they're moving quickly... it's a great product and $15.00 is an unbeatable price.

Home Depot's website identifies this item as a "Store Exclusive" and the "Add to Cart" button has been removed from the summary page. However, when you click on the item the "Add to My List" button in the upper right corner of this secondary page is still active. Perhaps it will only complete your transaction if the shipping address falls within the sponsoring utility's service territory?


The folks at GreenTechMedia seem to love Switch. They have some sort of liquid cooling. I've been going for cheap, 40watt replacements @$10. I think Home Depot has these, but sometimes they run out. Saw a similar bulb at Lowes for $12. Prices are beginning to be marked down. Shop around.

in Minnesota (a local utility has rebated part of the cost)

At least someone has seen the light.



My local Utility Co. SDG&E (So Damn Greedy & Expensive) "rebated" CFL's in stores to sell for $0.50-$1.00 each, I have bought twenty or so lamps.
It's a good program to provide low cost lamps to consumers, but paid for by me, the ratepayer.
SDG&E info:

But did it really cost you? If they were able to avoid new capital costs for expensive new capacity, if just might be keeping your rates lower (as well as your use). Thats the whole argument behind "negawatts". They can be cheaper than new capacity.

But, our political capacity has pushed resentiment (of anyone who might unfairly be getting any piece of "mine"), so far, that many places reject sensible policies, because someone underdeserving might get something for free.

I don't bemoan affordable CFL's. SDG&E is raising rates by 10%, already among the highest in the US of A.

I placed this request late in the last Drumbeat. I got a couple of responses, but hoping to find some data that is more complete and graph-friendly. Any help would be greatly appreciated. This is for a graph for my book, which is undergoing editing right now:

Does anyone here know of a good source of global oil production/consumption data going back to 1850 or 1900? I have lots of data points for different time periods, and I see graphics going back to that time, but they aren't referenced. I need something that I can use to create my own graphics. Does anyone know of a source like that? Thanks.

Have you checked this out?

Romer, R. H. (1985). Energy Facts and Figures. Spring Street Press, Amherst, MA

No, but unless I am able to access the data online, I won't have time to order it. I need the data today or tomorrow. I have the data for U.S. production, but the publisher asked if I could do a similar graph for world oil production. I see that people have made graphs, but there are generally not sourced.

This site (http://tqe.quaker.org/2007/TQE155-EN-WorldEnergy-2.html) references HYDE (http://www.mnp.nl/hyde/) which references the source I pointed at but processes it fairly nicely.

Perfect. This is exactly what I was looking for. Many thanks.

Drillers on the Henry Bakken farm in Divide County in North Dakota discovered the Bakken Formation in the 1950s, not Harold Hamm. It is a North Dakota farm family that bears the Bakken Formation name.

In fact, there is a story of oil found in the Williston, North Dakota area in a 1929 newspaper. Oil in North Dakota has been known for a long time. It wasn't commercially developed until ca. 1951 in the Tioga region. Wells galore in and aroung Tioga and have been for some time now.

The easy picking is gone, that is why the Bakken is being developed. Peak Oil is here and it is good for oil exploration. Cheap Oil suppresses oil field exploration.

It is all going to get burned, so might as well get it while you can.


Ahhh, Tioga. I did some jugging (planting geophones for seismic surveys) there in Decenber 77. It does go back a long way.

Just left this comment below the laughable Edmonton Journal article by Lamphier:

Rhisiart Gwilym
2:59 AM on 1/22/2012
This article should not be taken seriously. Lamphier is either deeply ignorant about the energy realities, worldwide and in North America; or shilling for Big Oil; or both.

For an intelligent and properly well-informed sketch of the realities, from a number of posters including some who are actually long-time professionals in the energy industries, please go to this link:


At that link, at The Oil Drum website, are comments on this article by Lamphier. The first twenty or so are enough to offer a serious, real-world picture of the true situation. Anything by 'Westexas' (Jeffrey Brown) in particular is authoritative; a veteran oil-trades professional, and a serious, deeply-well-informed commentator. Not a lamestream-journalist, in other words.

Some commentary on why the plans to build the Northern Gateway pipeline to take oil sands production from Alberta to the BC coastal port of Kitimat don't take it to the port of Prince Rupert instead:

Why not end the Northern Gateway in Prince Rupert?

In many ways, building the pipeline so it finishes at Prince Rupert makes more sense, anyway. You already have a world-class port capable of handling large tankers. And once they’re loaded, it’s a shorter journey to Asia than it will be from Kitimat. And there aren’t nearly the same environmental concerns.

Enbridge is obviously aware of this. But it rejected this scenario because the pipeline would have to traverse parts of the Skeena Valley, a particularly complex and technically challenging stretch of terrain. There’s a high risk of avalanche throughout this area, and the spring runoffs can often be fierce, churning up river beds in dramatic fashion.

This type of environment can be particularly troublesome for, say, a pipeline running underground.

The reason we know this is because there’s already a pipeline that runs through much of this same area. It’s a natural gas line that was built in 1968 and is operated by Pacific Northern Gas.

Given a challenge, engineers can do almost anything. Advancements in theory and design have addressed many of the problems early pipeline builders in Canada encountered. There’s no question we have the minds to construct an oil pipeline to Prince Rupert that would be safe, reliable and efficient.

It would certainly be more costly for Enbridge. But when you’re talking about a project worth tens of billions in revenue, it seems like a small price to pay. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is ultimately where the company ends up. But like TransCanada, it probably will have to be forced into the move. And that comes with risks all of their own.

Well this is a good start, and hopefully the public discussion will follow through to the logical conclusion; that the best pipeline is the existing CN railroad. Bitumen from the hot-water process is produced in the fluid state, and if pumped into tanker cars it would congeal during the long cold trip to Rupert. By the time the train crosses the most sensitive streams and valleys of coastal BC, the bitumen would be thick enough that derailment and loss of containment would not lead to the massive contamination that dil-bit would produce.

CN seems ready and willing to consider this and already transports supplies and crude oil on their network. Of course, this would no longer be Enbridge's proposal, and the oilsand producers would have to make a deal with CN.

There would be lots of other benefits to a fully double-tracked CN. Forestry, coal, mining and grain would all benefit, no tankers bringing diluent (the really dangerous stuff) into port, lower GHG impact etc..

Looks then like rail should be taken seriously when it comes to discussing bitumen deliveries. Canada has coast to coast railways, although the decades-long lack of investment in rolling stock has left its mark. Yet rail is one of the few areas that clearly falls constitutionally under the jurisdiction of Ottawa so you don't have to worry about negotiating for every province's support or consent.

What's more, rail would make deliveries to the west coast and east coast both achievable, which would, in turn, open up any number of possibilities for markets beyond the US. This is particularly important as Canada seeks a third option to wean itself off an over-reliance on American customers.

Probably the biggest advantage the railroads have is that they have been hauling crude oil for well over 100 years. The legal precedents were set in the early part of the last century and the later part of the previous one, and leaned heavily in favor of the railroads. And they have tracks more or less everywhere that matters.

The railroads actually are moving surprising amounts of oil by rail these days, but it doesn't come close to the volume that the pipelines can move. There is an issue around building the thousands of tank cars that are needed, and the loading and unloading terminals. The tracks are already there, however.

Meh, just stack it outside, in the winter, and send it down stacked as bricks ;)


CN has clearly been looking at this, and are quietly increasing their oil transport capacity.


From this article;

Oilsands projects are all within about a 100-kilometre radius of the end of CN's network just east of Fort McMurray's Linton yard at the end of Highway 69. The yard is currently being used to truck in commodities such as sulphur and petroleum coke, and to truck out products like heavy components for construction.

Trains have capacity for about 60,000 barrels of bitumen and do not need to run full. Shippers only pay for what they use when they use it. According to CN, five trains can take the equivalent of a 400,000-barrel-per-day pipeline.


Rail shipments of bitumen use existing infrastructure, avoiding the necessity of getting permits and approvals that proposed pipelines such as Northern Gateway and Keystone XL are going through, he said.

Rail also offers less risk, as much of the capital has already been spent and it does not require 20-year take-or-pay commitments or $10-billion investments. Infrastructure commitments would likely consist of $5-million or $10-million terminals, he said.


Asked about public opposition to transporting oil by rail, Meyer said, "We started moving condensate through Kitimat and there wasn't a peep. Now, if you're going to move crude and you're going to advertise that I'm not naïve enough to say that you're not going to have opposition, but the opposition then comes to that port and that tankage area that you're going to have to build and in the case of Prince Rupert, that's a federal port which has a whole different regulatory regime than anywhere else, but you narrow your scope. You're not going through a bunch of bands and such to get there. We can get there and increase our traffic with no problem."

He said each train can carry about 10,000 tonnes or about 55,000 barrels a train. "If you're looking at 10 trains a day, which is one every two hours, that's about 550,000 barrels a day. That's a lot. You can put a lot of traffic on there. And don't forget, a barrel on rail is not a barrel on pipeline because a barrel nominally is a 30-70 blend of oil and diluent, right? ...We run about 135 trains a day in western Canada. CN runs 90 trains a day just of coal so these things are easily possible."

It's amazing that the whole pipeline could avoided by just ten trains a day, and they could probably start shipping next year. Enbridge and Trans-Canada won;t like this, but I wonder what the oil co's are thinking?

The biggest constraint is tank cars. For moving bitumen they want very specialized tank cars with heating coils in them to heat up the oil so they can get it out of the cars. In addition, they would like to move condensate on the back haul to pay for that portion of the trip, and that has vapor pressure issues, so if you want to maximize the usage both ways you need a very, very specialized tank car. There are only a few companies in North America that build those kind of tank cars and any serious shipments would require thousands of them.

They could, in theory, run 20 trains per day from Fort McMurray to Prince Rupert on the existing track and move 1.1 million barrels per day of oil sands production to the port. However, assuming 7 day turnaround on the tank cars, that would require 20 trains x 100 cars x 7 days = 14,000 tank cars.

But the legal issues around shipping oil by rail were solved over 100 years ago, especially about native land claims, and that can make all the difference.

The legal rights of the railroads have been "grandfathered". I like that word because both of my grandfathers helped build the CN tracks in the first place.

14,000 tank cars will be easy - Chinese will trade them for oil.

Well, well have to assume that CN has some sort of plan regarding the tank cars. For the levels they are talking about to start with, 400,000bpd, that is "only" 5000 tank cars, and, as suggested, the Chinese would probably happily build them in return for oil, sooner.

The part I don;t get is why you would still move diluted bitumen by tank car. The purpose of dilution is to make it flowable in the pipeline, and with the tank car, this is not needed. If the outbound car is 70/30 bit/diluent, and you have to haul that diluent back, than you are actually moving almost 2x the ton-miles of the bitumen delivered. Given the environmental advantages of the solidified bitumen, why bother with a diluent?

I presume the tanks cars are only heated at the destination. If they were fitted with electric heating, you could electrify the last part of the line into PR, and be heating the cars on the way in, so you have fast unloading and turnaround. That said, probably cheaper to just use some form of nat gas heating at the unloading facility and accept the delay.

In any case, building even 14,000 tanks cars seems a *lot* easier than building 1100km of pipeline, and all the environmental, first nations battles, etc etc.

This does seem like a workable solution, but the major oil co's have stayed silent on it.

Induction-heat the tank-cars in a tunnel-oven?

Maybe they could carry it in tilting hopper cars instead of tankers? The stuff's thick, right?

Bitumen is thick like molasses. Put a jar of molasses in the refrigerator overnight, take it out, turn it upside down, and see what happens. Nothing.

Then put it in a pot of boiling water for an hour, take it out, and see how easily it pours. The basic concept of heated tank cars is exactly the same.

"We are going to have to go back to gravel....."

Loss of federal forest payments has Oregon counties looking for revenue while having millions that can't be tapped

see http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2012/01/loss_of_federal_...

With all the flooding events they've been having, Oregonians should consider reverting to nothing.

Slightly off-topic, but for anyone who likes global disasters as a topic, I just watched the Discovery series of 4 programs entitled "Prehistoric Disasters", which outlines how the Earth was formed and how it is thought life found a way to develop.

It talks about a series of serendipitous events, unlikely to be replicated anywhere in the known universe, that brings us to where we are today, and how the odds were very long indeed.

On the one hand, it is reassuring that the Earth has suffered catastrophe before and been pretty resilient. On the other hand, it makes one think about how life on Earth is really a very tenuous thing, and we should be fighting tooth and nail (to use an apt metaphor) to preserve it.

If one really looks into it, it seems likely that multicellular life as we know it (and embody it) is hugely unlikely to happen on time scales commensurate with stellar lifetimes.

The stakes couldn't be higher, but apparently the odds of actually evolving collective sapience are "a bridge too far" in terms of lucky accidents.

I always wonder if "intelligence" in H.sap will prove to have been an evolutionary blind alley.

The confluence of what we call "intelligence" with grasping appendages, durable exosomatic information storage, a flammable environment with easily-mined ores and many other special conditions seems to just happen to be a mass-extinction scenario. Intellect and self-awareness in and of themselves would not have done it. An evolved orca society with average IQ of 800 would not have overheated the planet. We just happen to have the peculiar mix of abilities, smarts and stupidities to de-sequester a lot of fossil carbon and do other mischief.

So let's not fault "intelligence" per se. But yes, in H. Sap it's a disaster... and ironically will likely spell the end of all other large-brained species. If our species had died out at one of the past bottlenecks, planet earth might have actually evolved advanced mature intelligence. It had a shot...

I always wonder if "intelligence" in H.sap will prove to have been an evolutionary blind alley.

If you consider what humans have "intelligence" (our collective IQ seems to be incerdibly low).. In any case, it unfortunately shed light on the Fermi paradox (if life is common in the universe, where are the aliens/). Perhaps true spaient intelligence is really tough to develope. Maybe the normal sequence is a cleverly foolish species evolves, and destroys the biosphere.=> one more planet that didn't develope true intelligence!

There could well be intelligent life out there. However, for intelligence to persist for more than a flash in the plan it needs to be in balance with its environment, and that will inevitably mean in balance with the renewable energy floes , other life forms, and resource and pollution cycles.

Such an intelligence would have a very small energy signature on the galactic scale. We would be very hard pressed to see it.

An 'intelligence' which has ambitions at galactic dominance and expansion has a vanishingly small chance of breaking free of its home planet before it triggered it's own extinction.

It talks about a series of serendipitous events, unlikely to be replicated anywhere in the known universe

I'm fairly sceptical about this quite common claim.

I understand how it boosts the fragile human ego to think we are unique, but it seems to me that the likelihood of complex (multi-cell, intelligent and self-aware) life is probably quite high, and therefore there are millions (if not billions) of similar planets out there - where water is normally liquid most of the time, and there's an atmosphere conducive to life existing.

And that there has been sufficient time (a billion years max?) for complex and intelligent life to evolve. After all - we are just a bunch of amino acids, proteins and other hydrocarbons. Nothing special really.

And Fermi's Paradox is nothing more than further evidence of on-going hubris and robust self-centredness; lots of intelligent beings could exist out there - without our being aware of them ... of course ...

I haven't seen the programs in question, but if they are talking about our uniqueness as a species, rather than intelligent life in general, I could buy it. Stephen Jay Gould has written about this a lot. If we were to rerun earth's history, the results might be very different, since chance plays such a huge role in evolution. Maybe intelligent life as we understand it would not evolve. Maybe it would, but the ancestral species would not be a primate, which would mean a very different sort of intelligence.

As for Fermi...I think Greer is probably right about that. There is such a thing as peak technology (perhaps related to peak oil). The gulf between stars is too large, and even the most intelligent species has not been able to cross it.

If we were to rerun earth's history, the results might be very different, since chance plays such a huge role in evolution.

Sure - who could disagree with that? Well - I guess a lot of Republican voters might have a different view.

But SJ Gould also makes the point that, while it might be very different if the tape were replayed, chances are that intelligent life would still have emerged in some (fairly recognisable) form - homo sapiens might be a one-off event, but evolution has its own life force that makes things happen, both on Earth and on millions of similarly suitable planets (presumably - it is a brave call to claim uniqueness for us).

Maybe the smartest dinosaurs built great cities (without oil!) - and if they did, there would be no evidence of them today.

The premise of the films is this :-

The newly formed Earth was one of about 20 planets circling the sun. Another newly formed planet, smaller than Earth, crashed into the Earth, causing a ring of debris to spin off and coalesce to form the moon. The Earth began to rotate much faster than it does today, while the moon was much closer.

Meanwhile, water came from comets which crashed into the Earth, as well as from the cooling interior. The rapidly spinning Earth and the proximity of the moon caused enormous tides, which pulled minerals from the land into the ocean, and this cocktail eventually resulted in amino acids forming.

Then, the Earth's rotation began to slow and the moon to move far enough away that oceans were stable enough for life to arise.

At some point, simple bacteria evolved, which lived in an anaerobic atmosphere (no oxygen). A mutation in these bacteria enabled them to photosynthesize, and produce oxygen, which killed off others not able to adapt.

Life, however, remained as single-celled organisms, until the fairly recent geological past - 650 million years ago - when "Snowball Earth" occurred. Enough carbon dioxide was removed from the atmosphere by formation of limestone to freeze the entire planet, down to the equator. The only organisms surviving were cyanobacteria.

Volcanic action broke the freeze, by releasing a large amount of greenhouse gases, which warmed the Earth again.

It is at this point that there was an explosion of multicellular organisms, due to the oxygen atmospheric percentage of 21% allowing enough fuel for living cells to be able to aggregate and become more complex.

90% of life went extinct during the Permian Extinction due to vast volcanoes in Siberia, the Siberian Traps, heating the planet and releasing large amounts of toxic gases. Cynodonts survive. (also, animals with high metabolic rates)

The dinosaurs evolve, only to be wiped out by an asteroid hitting the Earth.

Mammals survive.

Scientific evidence is presented, along the way, substantiating each of the steps.

I have condensed the plot substantially, but I don't see how these particular circumstances could possibly be replicated. Of course, that doesn't mean life could not arise some other way.

That sounds like they are talking about the likelihood of Homo sapiens in particular, not intelligent life in general. Those extinctions, for example. Bad news for other species, but they made room for us.

There is no evidence that supports the idea that humans have been the only intelligent species on earth.

In fact, every time we come up with something that makes humans "unique in kind" those pesky researchers look at other animals and discover the same traits.

Humans are just more of the traits that make us special than any other species currently alive.

This means that the odds of other humanlike species arising on Earth was actually pretty good, we just happen to have been successful enough to foreclose the niche before any other species here could follow.

It is also possible that we weren't the first, though it is unlikely that there was a previous industrial age.

People who advocate shutting down the tar sands because it is "dirty oil" don't realize where the money is going or who is benefiting from it:

How the oil sands stretch all the way to New Brunswick

In recent weeks a number of commentators have floated the concept of bringing Alberta bitumen from the oil sands east by pipeline to be processed in eastern Canadian refineries and shipped to Asian markets via east coast ports. Former New Brunswick Premier Frank McKenna also weighed in suggesting the Irving Refinery in Saint John could be modified to upgrade bitumen from the oil sands.

The reality is that New Brunswick, and all the Maritime provinces, are already deriving substantial economic benefit from the Alberta oil sands.

We don’t have much recent data on how many people from the Maritime provinces are working in Alberta while maintaining their primary residence in their home province. A 2008 study cited in Chatelaine magazine suggested that “more than half of the Fort McMurray area’s 25,000 migrant workers are from Atlantic Canada”.

I estimate that conservatively somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 people live in New Brunswick and commute to Alberta for employment -- with the vast majority of them working in the oil sands.

In 2010, the average wage for a worker in Alberta’s oil and gas extraction sector was $2,230 per week, or more than $116,000 on an annualized basis.

But thousands of direct and induced jobs are not the main benefit to the Maritime provinces. If all development in the oil sands was scuppered tomorrow, it would jeopardize a significant portion of fiscal equalization payments provided by the federal government to less prosperous provincial governments. According to Finance Canada, in 2011-2012, New Brunswick was slated to receive $1.5-billion in equalization, Nova Scotia gets $1.3-billion and Prince Edward Island collects $337-million.

A recent study by the Canadian Energy Research Institute estimates Alberta’s oil sands will generate $307-billion in tax revenue across the country over the next 25 years of which $187-billion will go to the federal government.

For better or worse, directly and indirectly Alberta’s oil sands are also the Maritime provinces’ oil sands.

Therefore, governments in the Maritime provinces are not disinterested bystanders in the debate over Alberta bitumen and its potential markets. The fate of the oil sands will have lasting economic implications for all parts of Canada -- in particular its eastern most provinces.

For better or worse, directly and indirectly Alberta’s oil sands are also the Maritime provinces’ oil sands.

RMG, that basically summarizes much of the sentiment here on the east coast. The relationship between Fort Mac and Maritimers has been ongoing for a better part of a generation.

Which actually gives oil sands producers a bit of leverage. If BC stalls too much on the pipeline, get the stuff moving to Montreal, press Ottawa to declare a corridor through the rest of Quebec, and presto, you got a region eager for moving the bitumen to a wider, waiting world.

The Atlantic seaboard ports are ice-free which gives them a competitive edge over Montreal or Quebec City. The black gold can be shipped 24/7, 365 days a year.

Meanwhile, enough of the refined product can be held back to be sold to the regional market weaning east coast dependency on petroleum from Venezuela. That would be viewed locally as a win/win scenario.

CME passing now. No low latitude auroras yet as far as I can see.


Space Weather Message Code: WARK05
Serial Number: 737
Issue Time: 2012 Jan 22 1231 UTC

WARNING: Geomagnetic K-index of 5 expected
Valid From: 2012 Jan 22 1230 UTC
Valid To: 2012 Jan 22 1800 UTC
Warning Condition: Onset
NOAA Scale: G1 - Minor


Great graphic, UT. Kind of puts things into perspective. It needs a little arrow "You are here --> "

Here's a curiosity.


Magnitude mb 4.5
Date time 2012-01-22 16:26:22.0 UTC
Location 72.91 N ; 4.34 E
Depth 10 km
Distances 1081 km NW Trondheim (pop 147,139 ; local time 17:26:22.6 2012-01-22)
631 km NW Tromsø (pop 52,436 ; local time 17:26:22.6 2012-01-22)
580 km NW Andenes (pop 2,766 ; local time 17:26:22.6 2012-01-22)


Kiruna is one of the nearest public magnetometers to the quake at about 500 miles distance.

Edit: Tromso, Norway is a bit nearer at about 400 miles - shows similar - http://flux.phys.uit.no/cgi-bin/plotgeodata.cgi?Last24&site=tro2a&

Heavy clouds here all weekend, even if we do have auroras I won't get to see them :(

Might be worth playing with a radio as well. Now where did I put that old scanner :-)


VHF AU Opening: Geomagnetic conditions are again near storm levels, and contacts are currently being made on VHF via the Aurora in both EU and NA. If you are high in latitude, turn the antennas north. It should be noted that there is also a 6 Meter (50mhz) Es opening up and down the east coast in North America with very strong signals.

We were clear last night. This night is supposed to be heavy rain. Checked a few times last night, just in case. But the odds are pretty slim, between the too southerly latitude (38), and the light pollution, it would take quite an event. I don't think my grown kids remember seeing one, although I carried the oldest out one night when he was about four, and we had a horizon to horizon event in Wisconsin.

I clearly remember one night in about 1959 (I was seven) - my parent woke us kids when driving home from their Friday Night tennis comp. In the southern sky of Sydney (lat 33°52'S) there was the most beautiful Aurora Australis - it was quite something ... and the family still talks about it (my father is now 92, my mother 87).

And G1 (minor) storm now officially confirmed after hovering just below the threshold most of the day

Space Weather Message Code: ALTK05
Serial Number: 673
Issue Time: 2012 Jan 22 2022 UTC

ALERT: Geomagnetic K-index of 5
Threshold Reached: 2012 Jan 22 2021 UTC
Synoptic Period: 1800-2100 UTC
Active Warning: Yes
NOAA Scale: G1 - Minor

Possible mid latitude aurora reported

Confirmed aurora across Scotland from twitter and personal observation. Also tweets from people in Northern England saying they see it. There's variable cloud cover here but I could clearly see it as streaks of green light through the cloud breaks to the north.

Got a picture but it is poor quality long exposure hand-held shot so you are better to take my word for it :-)

Here's a good image grabbed from twitter from not too far from me. Image is looking north towards Dundee area from Fife if you know Scotland

And another image from Dundee area http://www.flickr.com/photos/ben-e-boy/6745222659/in/photostream

Visible in both photographs (most clearly the second) are two very large UHF tv and FM radio antennas lit up like Christmas trees. Also in frame in both are the BT/NSA (allegedly) antennas at Craigowl. Strangely not lit up at all :-)


The British Telecom microwave relay station on top of Craigowl Hill provided intelligence-gathering facilities for the US National Security Agency from 1963 onwards and may still do. The activities of the NSA at Craigowl were secret until 1980 and despite a public outcry were not denied. Craigowl was linked to the NSA's electronic monitoring station at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire.

To put the visibility of the aurora into perspective, this is only the second time I have ever seen aurora at this latitude - and the last time was in the 70s or 80s so I'm very impressed! Yes it has been briefly visible at other times but I've always missed it.

You need to recognize that what counts aurorawise is magnetic latitude. The magnetic pole is displaced a long way from the pole -last I looked somewhere north of Canada. When I lived in Wisconsin right on the 45th parallel they weren't uncommon. Maybe 10% of the time you could see a faint glow just above the northern horizon. But real lightshows were fairly rare. In Fairbanks (65N) its supposed to be visable on (was it 75% or 85%) of clear nights! I did notice one the one time I was their. Apparently its a big tourist draw.

I think you will find the TV/Radio masts are a lot taller than the ones on the hill. The Craigowl ones may well be under the hight limit required for lighting. A lot of masts and hotels are lit up around here, close to an airport, but there are some noticable exceptions.


Craigowl is the highest peak and it was lit up way back in time. Back in the 80s the local council attempted to refuse planning permission (and discovered they couldn't) for new masts which is where much of the "secret" nature of the site came out. The lights were switched off and, over time, most people forgot about it. Also generated from somewhere in this area there used to be frequent (sometimes every few minutes) massive several second bursts of tv and radio interference right across the spectrum for several miles. I have recordings on old tapes from the late 70s somewhere. The source and purpose of these bursts was never explained despite thousands of complaints to authorities.

There used to be a document on a US .mil site (maybe still is but this was pre 9/11) listing some overseas vital assets and Craigowl was on it. Likely it was also linked to RAF Edzell (a US base in all but name).

Edit: A quick search only find this now http://www.geographic.org/geographic_names/name.php?uni=-3567787&fid=648...

This page presents the geographical name data for Craigowl in United Kingdom, as supplied by the US military intelligence in electronic format, including the geographic coordinates and place name in various forms, latin, roman and native characters, and its location in its respective country's administrative division.

Full Name (see definition): Craigowl

And this post from someone who briefly worked there.


I was posted to Craigowl for a couple of weeks leave relief in the sixties.
The MOA station was a Gee slave station to the master at Lowther Hill with other slaves at Great Dunfell and Rhustafnish.
Gee was providing a vital navaid for Shackletons engaged in ASR and 'other duties',in the North Sea.
It's importance may be judged from all stations being equipped with complete triplicate sets of control,kw power transmitters and aerial masts.
The station also provided area cover for three ATC frequencies,one of which fisbangwallop is using today.
The access road had a number of vicious bends,with names like 'Grahams Corner,and if you looked down you could see the remains of Grahams truck!
I seem to remember a mystery building run by foreign nationals on the site but any curiosity was distinctly discouraged.

Another flare last night. Almost reached X class at M8.7 with an associated R2 radio blackout. Currently an S3 (Strong) proton storm is taking place.


Space Weather Message Code: ALTPX3
Serial Number: 24
Issue Time: 2012 Jan 23 0911 UTC

ALERT: Proton Event 10MeV Integral Flux exceeded 1000pfu
Begin Time: 2012 Jan 23 0855 UTC
NOAA Scale: S3 - Strong

Initial CME arrival time projected for about Tuesday 14:00 UTC. G2 level storming predicted which is stronger than last night.

As Price of Oil Soars, Users Shiver and Cross Their Fingers

While natural gas prices have plummeted to 10-year lows, heating oil prices have been steadily rising for years and are expected to reach record levels this winter, precipitated by higher costs for crude oil and the shutdown of several crucial refineries in the Northeast and in Europe.

With electricity prices also down, utilities are trumpeting that bills will drop this season for customers using gas and electric heat. Con Edison announced this week that residential gas heating bills in New York were expected to drop 11.5 percent this winter, and in New Jersey, PSE&G said that it would cut February bills for residential gas customers by an average of $30.

“The people who have been unable to switch off of heating oil will be increasingly penalized in the coming years,” said Jay Hakes, a former administrator of the Energy Information Administration

But many oil users — living in places like Alaska, Maine and even affluent parts of Manhattan — do not have that option. Some are simply too far from a pipeline. For others, converting to natural gas is unaffordable, with costs that can run to tens of thousands of dollars for each home. As a result, they are trapped in a cycle of spending more and more for heat while those who use natural gas and electricity are generally spending less and less.

That dynamic is at work in households across the economic spectrum, but the cost gap looms as a crisis for the poor, experts warn, since the federal government has cut financing for energy assistance programs.

Meanwhile, heating oil could grow more scarce in the Northeast this winter, the Energy Department warned last month. Companies have been closing refineries that produce heating oil because of declining profit margins. Sunoco and ConocoPhillips recently announced the idling of two major refineries in Pennsylvania, and a third refinery owned by Sunoco may close next summer.

For some time, I've been warning people here who use fuel oil for heating that this crisis was coming, and hopefully it encouraged some of them to switch away. Some constructive action by government, such as building natural gas infrastructure in places without it would have been useful, but nothing much happened. For the people who are still using heating oil, I guess it's going to be a preliminary introduction to what is going to happen in the post-peak-oil era.

I know the media is primarily a vehicle for enforcing the status quo, but articles like "Growing U.S. energy output a threat to Canada" remind me of the particulars of it. Implicit in this ill-informed propaganda, is the idea that oil is unlimited. Believe that, and you can be fed anything. Never mind that future generations of Canadians might need that oil more than Asians do now, but science and technology and the market will take care of everything, so you don't have to think about future generations. All you need to think about is consuming as much as possible.


At 12:01AM on Thursday, January 19, Eastman Kodak Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. Since I have lived in the Rochester, NY area for over 40 years, and originally came here to work at Kodak as a co-op student, and for many other reasons, this is an event to reflect on for me. In one sense it is a non-event; just one more step in the long Kodak decline going back to the early 1980’s when they employed 60,000 in this area; now it’s down to 6000. The short story is that they couldn’t make it in the digital age, although they tried valiantly, and weren’t able to negotiate the relentless evaporation of their cash cow photographic film and paper businesses.

Rochester itself is surviving this; over the years Kodak was a magnet for bright people, many of whom stayed, grew to love this area, and left Kodak to form or join various smaller companies here. Kodak itself spun off a number of these businesses. The area remains a center for imaging, optics, and health sciences. But Kodak’s rise through the 20th century was part of the development of our technological cocoon referred to previously in this thread. They gave us the power to capture images to look at as an alternative to looking at the real world around us. To me Kodak Kodachrome (born 1935, died 2009) is/was one of the iconic products of industrial civilization. Nothing could more realistically duplicate a scene. I still have Kodachrome slides from years ago that haven’t deteriorated at all, as well as a Kodak Carousel projector to view them with. Years from now if the slides survive, all anyone would really need is some sunlight and a magnifying glass to view them.

I can recall when I grew up, that they were considered to be an unstoppable monopoly. As a former film photographer, I am in complete agreement about Kodachrome (especially the slower 25 product). But the processing was complicated, and they didn't want to keep it up. Also I had the impression the FujiFilms were giving them some pretty decent competition. But, obviously that never mattered, as it was digital that did it. Not a surprise.

So what happens to those 6000? Do they still have viable divisions. A guy at work, his son does special image processing for Hollywood, and claims there are still applications where digital can't replace film. But with tens of megapixels becoming cheaply available -and some specially built astronomy cameras near the billion mark, I have trouble believing it.

Here's a link to our local Democrat and Chronicle newspaper for ongoing coverage of the Kodak story. The remaining 6000 employees will be okay for now; they still have jobs and are collecting paychecks and the plan is for the company to continue operations in some fashion. The retirees are pretty concerned; they will probably lose their paid healthcare benefits. My first reaction to that was, well, they can just switch to Medicare. But then I read somewhere that 85% of them are under 65. Kodak really was big on early retirements, with generous packages. This is one of the burdens they want to get out from under. The retirees are still mostly shell-shocked; they can't believe this is actually happening. And there are about 25,000 of them around here.

Otherwise, the shareholders have been and will probably be essentially wiped out; shares were trading at around $.30 last I checked. A big concern of mine is the chemical contamination under and around Kodak Park, which was for a long time the largest industrial complex in the Northeast USA. This came to light during the 80's and Kodak did a lot to clean it up while they still had money to spend on it. Still more needs to be done, and I understand they will not be able to shed that obligation.

It's been a few years since I loaded any 35 or 16mm into a film magazine, but that process was repeated so many times with boxes under the orange label that it's a part of my life I guess I am saying my final goodbyes to.

Very significant..

Goodbye Kodachrome. Paul Simon leaves us with the best tribute of all.

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, Oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don't take my Kodachrome away

It was Kodak who introduced the first digital camera back in 1991 with the Nikon F-3 for photojournalists with a 1.3 megapixel sensor.

Sadly, the corpse isn't even cold before the post mortem begins, http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/cameras/how-kodak-squandered-every-si...

In a very important sense, Kodachrome has been dead for a long time. I was a very serious landscape photog during the seventies and eighties. By then Kodachrome had been restricted to only the 35mm format. Serious photography was done with large format film (70mm or larger for cinema, stills, 6x7cm 10x12.5cm or even 20x25cm). I remeber the old timers raving about how spectacular large format Kodachrome was (it had much better resolution as well as color rendition than the cheap crap that was developed to replace it).

I still have my old Kowa Super 66 (6x6cm) I got at a highschool auction for $5.00. It took amazing portraits and landscapes, but film and processing were expensive. Last camera Kowa ever made. I think they called it the "poor man's Hasselblad".

U.S. economy unlikely to fully recover: Bank of Canada governor

Canada needs to look beyond its southern neighbour for markets because the United States economy is unlikely to ever fully recover, Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney said Sunday.

In an interview with CTV’s Question Period, Carney said that it is vital for Canada to look for new trading partners in the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere to prevent the economy from being dragged down by the U.S.

“It’s going to take a number of years before they get back to the U.S. that we used to know — in fact, they are not, in our opinion, ultimately going to get back to the U.S. that we used to know,” he said.

How great the fall can be? On a somewhat similar vein, but from the inside looking out, a poignant Op-Docs | Dismantling Detroit .

The filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady look at young men who salvage scrap metal from Detroit's derelict buildings, set against the backdrop of globalization.

Hard to watch. 50,0000 factories... gone.

A comment on the film's page:
"The capitalists are moving on. After all, what is America but a fading European and industrialized colony? It is now not profitable for the 1%, so off to the next colony. I collect scrap as an old man. I call it the deconstruction of the old colony. What will take its place? Look to other old colonies."

I think the capitalists are done with us. They evacuated what remained and left. They left their dogs to mop-up anything they missed, like retirement programs and the SPR.

Similar feeling in Russia. Everything just stopped:

Another film from the page:
"Rollin Down Robbinwood street"

Kalimanku, the pictures bring into focus the parallels between the dereliction of old Soviet Russia and the Motor City.

This is what post city life, post industrialization looks like.

There are many parallels to be drawn between the fall of Russia and the situation in the United States.

That's the trouble with a one-industry town like Detroit when its one industry (auto manufacturing) starts to fade away. If they had a diversified economy there would always be other opportunities. Usually when one industry fades, another one starts expanding.

The auto industry is clearly going to be a sunset industry in the post-peak oil era. Just like buggy whips and whalebone corsets, its economic reason for existence is fading away.

The hard part for the young and ambitious is guessing what the new sunrise industry is going to be, and getting in on the ground floor. Usually it is a complete surprise what new industry suddenly takes off. I mean, who saw the personal computer or the Apple iPad coming? Certainly not the children of the automobile workers who thought they could follow their father's footsteps into a cushy lifetime job on an assembly line.

That is the kind of sobering talk that BAUaholics don't/won't want to hear. It'll be 'I told you so' for the people who don't need converting and 'in one ear and out the other' at best for those who need converting. *sigh*

Reading these articles makes me lament for the field of journalism. It is increasingly obvious that the people researching and writing these articles know very little and are only printing their information directly from the 'fact sheets' mailed to them by various special interests. Whatever happened to fact checking, investigative journalism, and developing information flows outside those provided by monied special interests??

Almost all "fact sheets" these days are anything but.

The media is just another division of those monied interests.

EU Iran sanctions: Nations poised to ban Iran oil imports

European Union foreign ministers are expected to announce a phased ban on the purchase of oil from Iran at a meeting on Monday in Brussels.

It would be the latest EU measure to be introduced in retaliation for Iran's nuclear programme.

The EU currently buys around 20% of Iran's oil exports.

This should be interesting, considering that it is the Club Med countries that are particularly vulnerable to a boycott. Fuel lineups should really improve relations among the Eurozone partners.

As late as yesterday, Greece was asking its partners to ease up on the sanctions.

Greece Pushes Back Against Cutting Off Iranian Oil Imports

Greece is pleading with its allies in the European Union to ease the forthcoming complete ban on Iranian-imported oil, complicating a U.S.-led international sanctions regime aimed at crippling Iran’s economy and political leadership.

EU diplomats are confident that the measure to phase in a total embargo on Iranian oil will be agreed to on Monday, but the move would seriously harm the struggling economies of of Europe like Greece, Italy, Spain, and others who rely on Iranian oil.

Maybe just as well.

Greek debt deal hits setback as talks suspended

Greece needs a major reduction on its debt pile because it cannot grow its way out of the crisis in a reasonable period of time. The country was accused of living beyond its means before it entered the euro but public spending soared after Greece's entry. Widespread tax evasion helped to ensure that the country's balance sheet was put under extra pressure when the financial crisis hit in 2008.

The country's debt is now equivalent to €31,800 for each one of the country's 11.3m people.

Hmmm... recovery without oil. Add that to the other fantasies like Greece has any say, that Eurozone decision-making has any popular or representative input, that Greece will not default, that the Greek people will pay their taxes, and that Italy is going to emerge as the land of milk and honey under the benevolent hand of its technocratic masters.

Chesapeake Energy Corporation Updates Its 2012 Operating Plan in Response to Low Natural Gas Prices

Chesapeake Plans to Reduce its Operated Dry Gas Drilling Rig Count to 24 Rigs, a Decline of Approximately 50 Dry Gas Rigs from its 2011 Average Operated Dry Gas Rig Count

Chesapeake Plans to Curtail its Gross Operated Gas Production by up to 1.0 Bcf per Day and Plans to Defer New Dry Gas Well Completions and Pipeline Connections Wherever Possible

Chesapeake to Redirect Capital Savings from Curtailing Dry Gas Activity to its Liquids-Rich Plays that Deliver Superior Returns

Chesapeake’s Undeveloped Net Leasehold Expenditures in 2012 Projected to be Approximately $1.4 Billion, Down from Net Leasehold Expenditures of $3.4 Billion and $5.8 Billion in 2011 and 2010, Respectively


Chesapeake recently joined the Liquids-Rich Bakken Play. Chesapeake is late to the party, their drilling is on the fringes. I don't think they have released information on any of their Superior Return wells.

Chesapeake has got to be in desperate trouble with the current low prices for natural gas (<$2.50/Mcf at the moment) and the extent to which they are leveraged. I wouldn't be surprised if they're not around this time next year.

I would expect to see a lot of reserve writedowns coming, given that so many companies have booked proven undeveloped BOE reserves using the six to one BTU ratio. The cash flow ratio this summer could be around sixty to one.

ROCKMAN is a bit quiet these days. He busy buying up assets cheaply from the gas glut fallout?

I heard one of his rigs drilled into a salt dome in Louisiana to feloniously tap the SPR and but found out it was already empty like Fort Knox. We may never hear from him again!

Or zero to one based on either cash flow or usable energy from flared gas, as is the case for 1/3 of ND's gas.

Yes, but their enterprise value is hugh !

I've never understood why debt is catagorized value.