Drumbeat: February 10, 2012

The new geography of trade

It is an article of faith that global trade will be an ever-growing presence in the world. Yet this belief rests on shaky foundations. Global trade depends on cheap, long-distance freight transportation. Freight costs will rise with climate change, the end of cheap oil and policies to mitigate these two challenges.

At first, the increase in freight costs will be bad news for developed and developing nations alike but, as adjustments in the patterns of trade occur, the result is likely to be decreased outsourcing with more manufacturing and food production jobs in North America and the European Union. The pattern of trade will change as increasing transportation costs outweigh traditional sources of comparative advantage, such as lower wages.

IEA Cuts 2012 Oil Demand Forecast on ‘Darkening’ Growth

(Bloomberg) -- The International Energy Agency cut its 2012 global oil demand forecast for a sixth month as a “darkening” economic outlook reduced prospects for growth amid supply concern following sanctions on Iranian crude.

Worldwide crude consumption will increase by 800,000 barrels a day to 89.9 million barrels, from 89.1 million last year, the IEA predicted in its monthly oil market report today. That’s 300,000 less than its previous estimate. The agency cut its forecast after a “sharp deterioration” of economic growth projections by the International Monetary Fund last month to 3.3 percent from a September forecast of 4 percent.

Iran oil output, sales slipping as sanctions bite

(Reuters) - Sanctions on Iran over its nuclear plans are already hitting oil production in the Islamic Republic and a fall in the country's output and exports looks set to speed up, industry analysts and a forecaster say.

Global oil flows are realigning even though a European Union ban on imports from Iran does not come into effect until July, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its monthly Oil Market Report on Friday.

South Sudan oil output at risk in 2012 - IEA

LONDON (Reuters) - South Sudanese oil output could remain absent from world markets in the near future, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Friday, as the country struggles to reach a revenue-sharing agreement with its northern neighbour.

Rising Jet Fuel Prices May Curb Demand for EU Carbon, ICF Says

Rising jet fuel prices may trim airlines’ demand for European Union carbon permits, according to ICF International Inc. (ICFI)

Carriers may cut routes that are marginally profitable when jet fuel prices rise, said Samuel Engel, vice president at ICF SH&E, an airline advisory company.

Oil Falls From Three-Week High as Economic Concern Counters U.S. Outlook

Oil fell from the highest level in three weeks, paring a weekly advance, as concern that Europe’s debt crisis will worsen and global commodity demand is weakening countered signs of recovery in the U.S. economy.

West Texas Intermediate futures declined as much as 1.3 percent, snapping the longest run of gains since December. Greece won’t get financial aid until it implements an austerity plan, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said yesterday. The International Energy Agency reduced its 2012 global oil demand forecast for a sixth month, citing a “darkening” economic outlook, and China’s exports fell for the first time in more than two years. Initial U.S. jobless claims slid by 15,000 last week, the Labor Department said yesterday.

Europe Coal Loses to South Africa on Renewables

Germany’s biggest program of solar- and wind-power production has driven European coal prices below South Africa’s for the first time in 10 months.

Italy sees gas shortfall from Russia on Friday-Snam data

Reuters) - Italy, a major consumer of Russian gas in Europe, expects to inject 93.8 million cubic metres (mcm) of gas from Russia into the national network on Friday compared to the 107.1 mcm requested, data from gas transport network Snam showed.

The 12.4 percent shortfall in Russian gas flows is the same as seen on Thursday.

German Gas Supply Still Disrupted By Continued Cold In Europe

FRANKFURT – A prolonged cold spell across much of Europe continues to disrupt the supply of natural gas within Germany, but increasingly milder weather, increased supplies from Russia and robust storage levels have stabilized the situation somewhat, said utilities and energy network operators Friday.

However, the disruptions have created bottlenecks in shipping natural gas to customers in southern Germany, with some gas-fired power plants temporarily receiving either less fuel than usual or none at all in the past few days, a gas transmission network operator said.

Gazprom ramps up gas storages in Europe

(Reuters) - Russia's top gas producer Gazprom said on Friday is aiming to double gas storage capacity in Europe to around 5 billion cubic metres by 2015 to ensure security of the fuel exports.

Repsol Says Argentine Shale-Oil Formation Requires $250 Billion Investment

Repsol YPF SA’s (REP) Argentine unit said $25 billion a year will be needed over a decade to develop shale oil resources at the Vaca Muerta formation in the south of the country, which probably holds about 23 billion barrels.

Pipelines enter post-Nabucco era

For more than a decade, Nabucco was the only pipeline project (and lately, the frontrunner project) for transporting Caspian gas to the European Union. Nabucco relied exclusively on Azerbaijani gas for the pipeline's first stage (the hopes to add gas volumes from northern Iraq proved unrealistic in any usable time-frame).

Canadian PM says country wants to sell China oil but won’t shy from raising human rights

GUANGZHOU, China — Canada wants to sell more oil to China but won’t shy away from raising the issue of human rights as economic ties between the two strengthen, the Canadian prime minister said on Friday.

Stephen Harper said Canada has “abundant supplies of virtually every form of energy” and will sell to whoever wants to buy.

Refinery Closing Threatens Virgin Islands’ Debt, Employment

The U.S. Virgin Islands will confront the threat of a debt downgrade when one of the region’s largest oil refineries shuts down this month, doubling joblessness on St. Croix, the archipelago’s poorest island.

BG slashes shale drilling in weak gas price world

LONDON (Reuters) - Gas producer BG Group is to cut back shale gas drilling activity by almost 80 percent because weak gas prices are making its relatively low-grade reserves uneconomic.

The move, announced along with a 40 percent rise in fourth quarter profits on strong oil prices and a lower tax rate, will mean its 2015 output will be some 110,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day lower than earlier indicated.

Petrobras Drops Most in 4 Months as Profit Misses

Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4), Brazil’s state-controlled oil producer, plunged the most in more than four months after quarterly profit missed estimates.

Iraq targets 200,000 bpd oil export rise for March

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq aims to boost oil exports by 200,000 barrels per day next month after it opens up a new Gulf outlet, a senior Iraqi oil official said, freeing Baghdad to export all the extra barrels foreign oil companies are extracting from its giant fields.

Libya extends Zueitina oil concession for 25 years

(Reuters) - Libya has extended Zueitina Oil Company's concession to operate its oilfields for another 25 years, a document signed by Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib showed.

The company, a subsidiary of Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC), was established in 1986 to operate Libyan oil assets that Occidental Petroleum had to abandon following U.S. sanctions against late leader Muammar Gaddafi's regime.

Maersk Stops All New Oil Shipping From Iran After EU Sanctions-Executive

LONDON – Danish shipping giant AP Moller Maersk AS (amkbf) said Friday it stopped taking new orders to transport Iranian crude as a European oil embargo is already complicating Tehran's oil sailings even before it comes into force.

The news comes after the International Energy Agency said the new sanctions were set to impede Iran's ability to export its oil by hitting marine insurance and shipowners.

Opposition rallies to challenge Chavez

For the first time in Chávez's tenure, a historically disjointed opposition has begun to unite, and Sunday, it will pick its candidate to face Chávez in October's presidential election.

Venezuela clinging to PDVSA

CARACAS, Venezuela (UPI) -- Any suggestion that Venezuela would privatize the country's oil sector by selling parts of the state-run oil company is unpatriotic, a minister said.

Venezuelan Petroleum Minister Rafael Ramirez said opposition forces in the country were taking actions against the state by proposing a selling of shares in state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, known by its initials PDVSA.

A year after Mubarak's ouster, many Egyptians still angry

Egypt's economy has suffered since Mubarak's ouster: Foreign investment has dried up and tourists are staying away. The Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party says it plans to improve things by ending corruption, but little has changed.

The streets have yet to calm since Mubarak's ouster. In October, 26 Christians were killed when they were run down by military vehicles during a protest against anti-Christian attacks. Protests denouncing Egypt's security forces for failing to prevent the deaths of more than 70 people in a soccer brawl last week have resulted in more deaths through ongoing street battles.

Syrians take to the streets amid reports of more explosions

(CNN) -- Tens of thousands of Syrians took to the streets Friday to protest Russia and its recent veto of a United Nations resolution that would have condemned a brutal crackdown by President Bashar al-Assad.

The "Russia Is Killing Our Children" protest, organized by anti-government opposition groups, follows reports that troops in tanks stormed a suburb of the besieged city of Homs. Syria's third-largest city has become a flashpoint in the nearly yearlong uprising.

China’s UN Veto on Syria May Not Hurt Ties With Gulf Oil Nations

(Bloomberg) -- China’s decision to join Russia in blocking United Nations action on Syria may carry little risk of economic reprisals from Persian Gulf states, the major oil suppliers that pushed to condemn the Assad regime.

As Syria's Assad pummels Homs, West reluctantly weighs military option

After diplomatic efforts at the UN failed Saturday, there is a growing consensus that supporting the rebel Free Syrian Army may be the only way to break the stalemate between Assad and his opponents.

Watchdog Clears State Department of Impropriety in Review of Pipeline Project

WASHINGTON — The State Department’s inspector general has found no conflict of interest or improper political influence in the agency’s review of the disputed Keystone XL pipeline project.

But in a report released on Thursday, the official said the department had not adequately weighed concerns about the route of the 1,700-mile pipeline and should strengthen its oversight of contractors performing environmental impact statements for major projects.

BP Said to Seek U.S. Settlement of Spill Pollution Claims

BP Plc is negotiating with U.S. officials to settle pollution claims over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill that may leave the company liable for as much as $17.6 billion in fines, a person familiar with the talks said.

Taylor Oil Spill: 7 Years, 1.1 Million Gallons, Still Going

Today SkyTruth released our Site 23051 Cumulative Spill Report showing our estimation of the total cumulative amount of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico at the site of Taylor Energy's ongoing oil spill that began in 2004. In this report, we conclude:

1. Crude oil has been leaking continuously from this site for more than 7 years

2. Estimated cumulative volume of crude oil spilled is between 251,677 and 1,174,492 gallons

Lawmakers try again on fracking ban in N.J.

TRENTON — The New Jersey Legislature took another step Thursday in its continuing efforts to enact a permanent ban on fracking for natural gas within the state.

The Senate Environment and Energy Committee, in a unanimous vote, cleared a bill identical to a previous ban attempt that was modified by Gov. Chris Christie, who set a one-year drilling moratorium through his conditional veto.

With deep concerns over fracking, a Va. county says no to more gas drilling

Virginia has 7,700 natural gas wells in operation, but none extracts gas from the rich Marcellus — a prehistoric shale formation that runs from Ohio to lower Virginia and entombs one of the most bountiful gas reserves in the world, according to the Energy Information Administration. No other company has approached Virginia since Carrizo abandoned its permit application.

Maryland has also slammed the brakes on gas exploration. Last March, the O’Malley administration put off decisions on two permit applications to search for gas in the Marcellus under Garrett County until the completion of an exhaustive study next year. The state wants to know if a hydraulic fracturing process known as fracking, which uses high pressure blasts of water mixed with a chemical cocktail to break the rock and unlock the gas, is safe.

Area official questions use of brine on roads

COOPERSTOWN -- In the summer of 2010, residents of the Otsego County town of Pittsfield said they noticed a tanker truck equipped with nozzles spreading what they later learned was natural gas well brine on town roads.

They said they had a number of questions, including: Who permitted it and why? Where was the brine from? Did the liquid being spread pose a potential health hazard?

FirstEnergy to close 3 aging power plants in W.Va.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — FirstEnergy Corp. announced Wednesday that it will shut down three aging coal-fired power plants in West Virginia later this year.

The company's Monongahela Power subsidiary will retire the Albright, Willow Island and Rivesville power stations by Sept. 1, affecting a total of 105 workers.

Honda Civic mileage verdict has industry sweating

Honda is bracing for a possible flood of legal challenges if the California courts uphold a recent verdict awarding nearly $10,000 to a woman who claimed her 2006 Civic Hybrid delivered significantly lower fuel economy than the maker had promised.

Are electric or hybrid cars a green marketing myth, or a real solution?

The solutions we seek depend on the problem being solved, electric cars seem to largely be meant to solve environmental problems, but there are many other transportation problems to solve.

Website post overstates railroad support

The post about the Adirondack On Track Partnership included about 35 entities - groups, government bodies, businesses, politicians and institutions - but a number of those people have spoken up, saying they never heard of such a partnership or don't support it.

...The controversial part of that partnership in the Tri-Lakes area is the Remsen-to-Lake Placid corridor. The Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates are organizing to rip up the tracks and create a multi-use trail there, while Next Stop Tupper Lake and the Adirondack Rail Preservation Society have joined forces to raise money to rehabilitate the tracks between Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake.

Japan to slash use of a heavy rare earth as China tightens grip

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan aims to cut domestic consumption of a heavy rare earth used widely in hybrid cars and electronics by 30 percent over the next two years as China keeps a tight grip on exports of the material, known as dysprosium.

An Introduction To Solar Power

It's no secret that the energy equation is changing. Demand in all forms is growing and will continue to rise for the foreseeable future. Electricity usage is increasing at twice the rate of overall energy use, and analysts expect it to go up 76% by 2030. China's booming economy and the threat of peak oil have driven up prices and increased volatility in the oil market. And with convenient fossil fuel supplies dwindling and threats of climate change building, renewable energy has attracted more attention and funding as a solution to these problems.

As a clean abundant resource, solar power has become a key piece in the renewable energy portfolio, but does that mean it's good business? With that question in mind, I set out to learn a few things about the solar energy industry: how the technology works, who the major players are and what the market forces tell us about its future.

U.K. Sets Rolling Solar-Subsidy Cuts, Sees 22-Gigawatt Capacity

The U.K. government proposed a system of regular cuts for solar energy subsidies as the price of photovoltaic panels declines, a plan it says will deliver a boom in installations by the end of the decade.

Energy Minister Greg Barker said he’s targeting solar capacity of 22 gigawatts in the U.K. by 2020, more than 20 times the current level. The government will reduce the feed-in tariff guaranteeing above-market rates every six months, with added cuts if a certain level of installations is passed. It more than doubled the budget for subsidies.

Regulator Approves Southern’s Reactors as Chairman Dissents

The split vote mars the start of a new atomic era as Southern builds the first U.S. nuclear reactor from a standardized design that promises to speed construction and reduce risks of runaway costs that plagued nuclear development during the 1970s and 1980s.

“I cannot support these licenses as if Fukushima never happened,” Chairman Gregory Jaczko said after the 4-1 vote today at NRC headquarters in Rockville, Maryland.

Belgian battery can power 1,400 homes

Chemicals giant Solvay hailed Monday the successful entry into service in Flanders of what it said was the largest fuel cell of its type in the world.

A super-battery that produces enough electricity to power nearly 1,400 homes, the Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell has been producing clean electricity at a "steady rate" for weeks at a SolVin plant part-owned by Germany's BASF in Antwerp, northern Dutch-speaking Belgium.

Neville Bennett deconstructs a large, dense MED Report that forecasts our future energy requirements, and takes an economists look at what drives it

Energy is a vital ingredient to civilisation: it is the source of food, warmth and light that makes life possible, it drives our machines and is the base of our transport, vital for distribution and the locations of our homes, work and recreation.

Despite this The Ministry of Economic Development’s recent Energy Outlook - which forecasts energy supply, demand, prices and greenhouse gas emissions - has not excited much public discussion.

South Africa: The country's windfall lies in the syn tax

Every year the treasury increases so-called sin taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, both addictive substances whose use results in large health and social costs. So why not impose a similar tax on another substance that is a national addiction, deleterious to our long-term health and depleting globally: oil?

Consumers already pay taxes and levies on petroleum fuels amounting to about one-third of their retail price, which is now near the all-time nominal high of more than R10 a litre. Further fuel price increases would hurt poor people, who generally spend a large proportion of their meagre incomes on transport. The treasury should rather impose a "syn" tax -- a windfall tax on the profits of synthetic fuel producers Sasol and PetroSA, which contribute about one-third of our fuel supplies. At the same time, consumers should begin a "rehab" programme to address their oil addiction.

It's the end of the world as we know it, author says: But post-carbon journalist Richard Heinberg feels fine

Economists, resource experts and environmentalists are all finally coming around to the notion that economic growth is impossible to sustain in perpetuity, says American journalist and author Richard Heinberg.

"In fact economic growth may not be good for the environment and for human beings," said Heinberg, who has recently released the latest in nearly a dozen books, entitled The End of Growth.

Peak oil educator Richard Heinberg challenges “binary thinking”

When he scans the current geopolitical lay-of-the-land, California-based peak oil educator and author Richard Heinberg can only reach one conclusion.

"We’re fighting over the crumbs,” Heinberg told the Straight via cellphone from 100 Mile House, where he was giving a talk on February 8. “That’s what’s happening. The world is preparing to fight over the crumbs.”

The crumbs Heinberg speaks and writes of are finite fossil fuels, specifically those deriving from oil, natural gas and coal. In particular, we see current examples with the proposed continental pipelines, the tar sands of Alberta, and the Prime Minister’s boosterism of faster and faster exploitation of these resources.

What's ahead in 50 years? Promise, some say

In Ready Player One, which reached the best-seller list in August, Columbus is relatively stable while much of the rest of the world is energy-starved.

The hero of the book rolls into Columbus on an electric bus that traveled from Oklahoma City at 40 mph because the highways have decayed. Columbus is a magnet because it houses the companies that built an immersive Internet through which most people escape real life.

Chris Martenson: Why Our Currency Will Fail

This report lays out the case that the US is irretrievably down the rabbit hole of deficits and debt, and that, even if there were endless natural resources of increasing quality available at this point, servicing the debt loads and liabilities of the nation will require both austerity and a pretty serious fall in living standards for most people.

Of course, the age of cheap oil is over. And as Jim Puplava says, the oil price is the new Fed funds rate, meaning that it is now the price of oil that sets the pace of economic movement, not interest rates established by the Fed.

The Oil Production Peak: Consequences and Costs

The production of oil has not increased since 2005, despite an increase in the demand. This phenomenon, called “Peak Oil”, and its consequences on the price of the oil and for our society, are discussed in a report published in Nature in January 2012.

The fate of new truths: peak oil appears on "Nature"

With the publication of a prominent article on "Nature" in January 2012, the concept of "Peak Oil" has made another step forward in the debate on resource depletion. This article has made me rethink of the past ten years of work that I did as a member of ASPO, the association for the study of peak oil. Were we right with our prediction of impending peak oil? In a sense, yes, but the crystal ball is always foggy and it cannot be otherwise. The ASPO predictions were basically right but, as all predictions, they were approximate.

A new oil boom?

A flurry of new mainstream media articles telling people not to worry about Peak Oil and hydrocarbon depletion have begun appearing on financial sites like Bloomberg, Forbes or The Wall Street Journal.

Peak Oil Debate Continues

“There is no Peak Oil,” Newt Gingrich told a crowd in Colorado this week.

Newt is wrong.

But he's also a politician who has to pander to whatever crowd he's in front of. In this case, he was addressing the 2012 Colorado Election Energy Summit, hosted by the Colorado Oil & Gas Association.

Being Right and Wrong About Buffalo

But there’s another critique forming of the world Wall Street gave us. In Europe, where low birthrates have been a reality for decades, and where there is a keen awareness of how dependent they are on imported energy (Mideast oil and Russian natural gas), there’s a new, very non-American discourse that is bringing climate physics, the Peak Oil hypothesis, and environmental science in general to questions of economics. What they’re talking about in Europe is not growth at all, but degrowth.

Orion Kriegman on Backyard Chickens & Community Resilience

When Orion Kriegman and his wife bought their house in Egleston Square, they had a vision for what they could do to make an urban neighborhood more sustainable. Kriegman and others went door-to-door and drummed up interest for turning a 30-year-old vacant lot into a community orchard. The Egleston Community Orchard is just one piece of what Kriegman and neighbors are doing to help prepare Jamaica Plain to live in the new economy.

Black Swans and bottom-up environmental action

The rising large-scale disasters and stumbling global economy increasingly indicate the symptoms of self-reinforcing or catabolic collapse. Instead of persisting in the wishful fantasies that somehow centralized government and competitive markets will miraculously reform and adapt to the circumstances of the modern age, environmental and ecological groups must take on the responsibility of preparing solutions for the post-industrial world.

In a Border Town, Drawing a Line on Coal for Mexico

Residents worry that the mining will harm the environment and that they will lose land due to property damage. They are also concerned about having a Mexican company that is held to lower standards operate in Texas. Adding salt to their wounds is the fact that the coal, considered to be of too low quality to be burned in the United States, will be shipped to Mexico.

Auto Recyclers, Exempted From State Rules for Years, Begin to Feel the Heat

The powerful automobile recycling industry in California has avoided toxic waste disposal regulations for decades, but there are signs the situation could be about to change.

As ‘Yuck Factor’ Subsides, Treated Wastewater Flows From Taps

SAN DIEGO — Almost hidden in the northern hills, the pilot water treatment plant here does not seem a harbinger of revolution. It cost $13 million, uses long-established technologies and produces a million gallons a day.

But the plant’s very existence is a triumph over one of the most stubborn problems facing the nation’s water managers: if they make clean drinking water from wastewater, will the yuck factor keep people from accepting it?

Sustainable humanity: Need of the hour

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Sustainable development means achieving economic growth that is widely shared and that protects the earth's vital resources. Our current global economy, however, is not sustainable, with more than one billion people left behind by economic progress and the earth's environment suffering terrible damage from human activity. Sustainable development requires mobilising new technologies that are guided by shared social values.

New study dirties coal seam gas image

GREENHOUSE gases are leaking from some US gas drilling sites at up to double the expected amounts, raising questions over the use of gas as a low-emissions fuel, according to researchers from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The report has implications for Australia's coal seam gas industry, which is marketing itself as a source of clean energy.

The Himalayas and nearby peaks have lost no ice in past 10 years, study shows

The world's greatest snow-capped peaks, which run in a chain from the Himalayas to Tian Shan on the border of China and Kyrgyzstan, have lost no ice over the last decade, new research shows.

The discovery has stunned scientists, who had believed that around 50bn tonnes of meltwater were being shed each year and not being replaced by new snowfall.

Himalayas not losing much ice, but sea levels still rising

What on Earth is going on with the world's glaciers? Reports today suggest that the Himalayan glaciers have not lost any mass in the last decade. But while that comes as a real surprise, the global pattern remains basically the same. Overall, the world's ice is melting away and causing sea levels to rise.

A Carbon Allowance in Every Pot

A researcher proposes that the distribution of personal carbon allowances and shorter working hours be embraced to reduce greenhouse gas emissions quickly and equitably.

Too much of a good thing?

Nova Scotia warned of wind power glut

Nova Scotia's consumer advocates say there could soon be too much wind power in the province, which may lead to higher power rates.

The warning comes as a bidding war gets underway to supply more wind power to meet renewable energy targets. The provincial government says 25 per cent of electricity must come from these sources by 2015.

Existing wind farms and new players are responding to a request for proposals to supply an extra 300 gigawatt hours to the provincial grid.

John Merrick and Bill Mahody say the Department of Energy already has all of the projects it needs to meet its target.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2012/02/08/ns-wind-power-consumer....

Or can’t get enough...

Heaters help save with wind power

Some of Summerside, P.E.I.'s electrical utility customers are saving on heating oil while helping the city use up its excess wind power.

When the wind blows at night the Summerside utility is often generating surplus electricity at its four wind turbines. It offers a night-time discount to encourage electricity use at that time, and a way for customers to take advantage of that surplus.

More than 70 Summerside residents have purchased electric thermal storage units from the city. The unit is filled with ceramic bricks. During the night, the unit turns on and heats up the bricks. During the day it's off, but the warmth built up in the bricks helps heat the house.

Les Chipperfield started using his unit in October.

"In that short period of time in oil alone we've saved over $500," said Chipperfield.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/story/2012/02/09/pei-...

Ninety per cent of Islanders heat with oil and in Nova Scotia it’s roughly eighty per cent and so the sooner Atlantic Canadians can get off oil the better.

As I’ve said before, the beauty of Summerside’s thermal storage programme is that everyone comes out a winner. The utility gets a fair return on the excess energy they would otherwise sell to neighbouring utilities at a loss; the home owner gets a break on their home heating costs (at 8-cents per kWh, this off-peak energy is priced at the equivalent of 70-cents a litre or less depending upon the efficiency of the oil-heat system); the environment wins whenever we burn less fossil fuels; monies that would be normally exported out-of-province stay within the local community to help support municipal services (to the tune of $1,000,000.00 in the case of Summerside’s electrical utility); and, the province lessens its dependency on foreign sources of energy and, with that, its exposure to ever fluctuating world prices.

And as far as the short-term impact of wind on electricity rates, my feeling is that it is what it is. Wind may be more expensive than coal-fired electricity if you choose to ignore all of the externalities, but the price of Nova Scotia's ComFIT wind is competitive with new coal and the price is locked-in for a full twenty years; over the long haul, I expect ratepayers will come out way ahead.



Do they have some type of smart meters that only connect when rates are low due to wind power? Or something like, "hey, its windy outside, turn on the heater"?

"As I’ve said before, the beauty of Summerside’s thermal storage programme is that everyone comes out a winner."

As I understand it, these thermal storage heaters and DHW tanks are connected to the municipal utility by a two-way fibre-optic link and can be recharged at any time, day or night, whenever there is surplus energy available; this generally occurs, as you might expect, overnight when electrical demand is normally low, but it's not restricted to just the overnight hours as would be true elsewhere. In addition, this more intelligent approach allows specific heaters to be topped up in merit order, i.e., the ones that are critically low or the homes with the greatest space heating demand can be given priority over all others. The City is also recharging its electric vehicles through this same system.


The fiber approach seems costly compared to wireless. Methinks the municipal utility staff has bigger things in mind.

Certainly possible. There's a fibre optics plant located in the city (http://www.city.summerside.pe.ca/files/FiberConnections.pdf) so perhaps that has some bearing on the matter. However, I should note that our local phone company is running fibre directly to the door to deliver telephony, high speed internet and television services.

There's a bit more background at: http://www.tantalus.com/2010-12-21_Summerside.php

Vancouver, BC – December 21, 2010 –The City of Summerside has selected Tantalus to provide Smart Grid technology for one of the most innovative energy efficiency initiatives to date in Canada. Summerside, Prince Edward Island’s second largest city, is undertaking a project that uses Tantalus technology to tie together the municipality’s fiber-to-the-meter network, wind generated power, and in-home energy storage devices. Together, these will enable the city to optimize the performance of its distribution network and significantly reduce its carbon footprint by providing consumers with a reliable, low cost source of renewable energy.

The Tantalus system will allow Summerside to precisely measure, monitor and control devices connected to its distribution network including special furnaces that can be charged with power generated by wind turbines. The ability to automatically turn energy storage devices on and off when wind is on the grid using two-way Tantalus technology will enable Summerside to quickly shift to stored power whenever peak load conditions arise, while using the less expensive energy to heat homes at night. Tantalus’ command and control functionality is also used by several utilities to regulate consumption on direct load appliances such as hot water heaters and air conditioners that are enrolled in load control programs. Time-stamped records verify that the action has taken place and indicate whether a customer opted out of an event, which is important for accurate billing and determining how much power was actually saved.


Fiber-to-the-x: the variant "FTTH", especially, has been spieled about (or spruiked, in Australia) regularly in electronics "trade journals" for years now. They saw you coming.

Tantalus: LOL:

Classical Mythology. a Phrygian king who was condemned to remain in Tartarus [a level of hell], chin deep in water, with fruit-laden branches hanging above his head: whenever he tried to drink or eat, the water and fruit receded out of reach.

Only it'll be the customer who's consigned to Tarturus - they never, ever collect data and exert that sort of control without eventually using it against the customer (or citizen.) I do wonder what ingenious schemes they'll cook up.

Fifth pit of Tartarus?


I think the next phase of 'smart' will be 'smart plugs' or 'smart controllers' such that a utility electricity user can have things that are programmed to run for such conditions as
'late night, surplus power: run and use'
'high cost high demand: keep off'

Being an internet person, I'd assume that such things would use a home's internet connection to talk to the utility's power advisement server or such.

I could see something like the reverse working for hot weather - mass that could be chilled if there is excess power, and then drawn upon when there is a relative shortage of power. Maybe already in place somewhere. Perhaps not worth the cost in every region but could be where there is ample wind (or other variable power source) with high demand for cooling.

Speaking of turning electricity into heat, we put an air source heat pump in the lower level of my folks' place in the fall of 2011. Previously the house had only electric baseboard heat. It has been working really well. Although not a perfect comparison, I think the following does help verify how efficient the system is:

On Jan 12, 2011 (before heat pump) with an indoor temperature of about 9 Celsius and an average outdoor temperature of about minus 11 C (and the only meaningful other draw for power being the fridge) the house used 43.2 kWh. On Jan 18, 2012 (after heat pump) with an indoor temperature of about 13 Celsius and an average outdoor temperature of about minus 11 C (and the only other meaningful draw being the fridge) the house used 17.2 kWh. The savings have also been impressive on days when the house was occupied.

Ice making/chilling would be a good option during the off-season and, of course, domestic hot water is required year-round. The nice thing for us is that wind production is strongest during the winter months which is precisely when this energy is most needed and, by extension, the potential to offset our fuel oil requirements is at its peak.

Our total space heating costs so far this season come to just over $300.00 (2,309 kWh at a blended cost of 13.17-cents per kWh); this for a 44-year old, 2,500 sq. ft. Cape Cod. I'm guessing that my neighbours who heat with oil have paid at least four or five times that if not more. Even with our relatively high electricity costs, it's still the cheapest way to heat your home, by far.


I think you may be thinking of something that looks like the Ice Bear.

This makes ice at night and replaces air conditioning during the day. There is both the "off peak" cost saving / load shifting as well as the thermodynamic (making cool while it's cool at night instead of the heat of the day) energy saving.


... an indoor temperature of about 13 Celsius ...

With the greatest respect, that is a very chilly indoor temperature (especially for seniors) - I assume they have good jumpers and cardigans.

I'm curious as to why they are using expensive ceramic bricks with their high embodied energy. It seems like packed sand would be about as effective and less expensive.

That would seem like the simplest way to go, but the long established makes of night store heaters all seem to use bricks.

A look at the digram for this type of heater, sold in NZ, makes it looks like the bricks were specially cast to fit the heater coils.

Sand, would of course, do the same thing.

The only reason I can think of is that sand would need a metal surround to hold it in place, and the bricks are self supporting, and can just be wrapped with vermiculite/mineral wool.

Sand can be molded solid in many configurations using a binder, same as sand casting molds. Perhaps bricks are more resistant to fracturing from constant expansion/contraction, and can be arranged on-site, simplifying transport. Bricks may have a higher thermal density as well.

My large water tank has performed well as a thermal storage system, and was relatively inexpensive/simple to install.

I spent many years doing sales and installation of High temp ceramics to the Steel Industries thru the 70's and 80's. The Brick ceramic is 50's technology. Seems like someone is in the pocket, so to speak. Typical scam.

Just Check out http://www.anhrefractories.com/

Just one example company.....And I wonder, why are they not talking about the size of the House? Or insulation? Or a number of other factors that lead to the over use of the energy to begin with? Everyones house is too big.

Choose Wisely.
The Martian.

My parents had storage heaters, many moons ago. The bricks in them were very dense, like engineering brick, with a U-channel in the base for the coil. I can't remember how many bricks there were but the heaters were around 3' or 4' high and wide and about 1' deep. They were built up in place with the bricks stacked up on the base. They worked great and ran on the overnight 'White Meter' tarif.

As I don't know the density or specific heat of those bricks I can't really compare them with sand but I suspect that ease of stacking and assembly might well win over for the bricks. When fully heated they get pretty hot but then cool down to room temperature. That may not work too well for bound sand, the thermal cycling might well break it down. The foundry sand has only got 1 cycle to go through but a heater would have to last thousands.


I had a fellow ask about refractories for ballasting molten salt energy storage tanks. I explained about needing to select appropriate to the PH, steered him towards high alumina shapes commercially available, and mentioned smashed toilets. Turns out, the slip-casting formula is of similar grade.

I had a cheap rental. plugged in a room heater. good, but no real regulation. Added a wall-mounted thermostat across the room, at my bed. Better, but cycled all night long. Made a stack/checker-work/chimney of cinder-blocks over it. Much better: the heater would cycle on for a bit and then off for a while maybe four times a night.

One option is an electronic thermostat which can be either programmable or non-programmable depending upon your needs. A programmable model could be set to turn on the heat an hour or so before you normally go to bed, run however long it takes to get the room up to temperature, let it fall back a few degrees whilst you sleep, then start raising it again prior to your awakening.

Electronic thermostats dish-out the precise amount of electricity required to keep a space at its set temperature. We have in-floor electric radiant heat in our home, so if I turn on the floor heat in my den all five bars initially appear at the bottom of the LCD display indicating that the elements are being supplied full, uninterrupted power (900-watts in this case). As the floor gets to temperature, it typically drops down to one or two bars, which tells me that it's drawing anywhere from 20 to 40 per cent of the energy it would consume in steady-state operation. No cycling on and off for extended periods of time (rather, precisely controlled pulse modulation) and thus no uncomfortable swings in room temperature.


Very nice!

The problem with loose sand is that it acts more as an insulator than does solid/fused material: it has a higher thermal resistance.

There is this demonstration of a fellow fusing sand in computer controlled patterns using the sun. It could make the checkerwork for thermal storage:

Solar Sinter

A description of checkerwork:

KD - can you expand on that about the smashed toilets? I used to do toilet replacement projects and we could never find a beneficial use for the stuff - not even as "roadbase"

The kiln temperatures for firing toilets, basins etc are about 1200C (2200F) so they can certainly handle some heat!

They are of the same formula as a specific type of alumina refractory.

The fellow was asked about using glass block to fill the bottom of a solar heat-storage tank of molten salts, bringing the level up. The acidic glass would have dissolved in the alkaline salt mixture. Refractory blocks and shapes come in acidic, neutral, and basic PH formulations. Alumina is neutral, robust, and commonly available.

I looked into the formulations of these alumina refractories. I also enjoy reading about ceramic technologies. I noticed a similarity in composition to the slip-cast ceramics used in fixture manufacture.

Vitreous china and porcelain are the subjects, in the instance where the silica is replaced with alumina. I tracked it all down and found an intersection at toilets. I don't remember if sinks were included. I do remember there were three common toilet, or plumbing fixture, compositions. The common one was spot-on. I have this research still available, but not right here. I'm trying to quickly come up with references... but it did take time the first time. Gotta get the exact right words.

The upshot is, toilets are made from a material that is heat and PH resistant. Cut into flat slabs, they would make nice shapes for checker-work heat-storage reservoirs. Big smashed chunks would probably do as they would jumble into a stack with lots of flow-space around them. In the researched application, the molten salt would fill the interstices. The slabs would also do for lining the furnace tanks for molten glass or aluminum. Molten glass is acidic and actually eats away the lining of its tank. Molten glass also conducts electricity... well enough that, once a melt is started, graphite electrodes can be driven in and connected to the 3-phase power to melt the load.

Not a great reference:

These room heaters are supplied by Steffes (http://www.steffes.com/) and I believe they are the only North American manufacturer of these products. Off the top of my head, I don't know of any manufacturer that uses sand as a storage medium. There are, however, under slab storage systems that do use sand.


Regarding the non-melting of Himalayan glaciers.

Back in the 1990ies thre was reports of the glaciers in northern Sweden growing, not shrinking. I went to school by then, and remember a guy from the english-class wondering why they grow, when they are supposed to melt. Answear to that qustion is increased snowfall, wich offset the entire additional melting. Since then, those glaciers have reverted into melting.

As the world grow warmer, the places suitable for "storing ice" is shrinking. The growing areas of net-melt is covering all more of earths land area. In these areas, melting is accelerating.

Now we learn that there are places in the Himalayas that still have not gone into melt-mode. These glaciers are located on top of the highest mountains in the world. And it is chilly up there.

So, ALL glaciers are not melting yet? Don't worry, they will in time. The net-melting areas are growing by the year. But the denialists will write articles soon claiming that NO glacier is melting ANYWHERE. This is bait for the fish, and they will take it.

A glacier that covers a range of conditions, highest altitudes no melting and lowest altitudes, much melting of calving into the sea, can certainly have one portion getting thicker whilst another thins. I believe this is happening with the greenland ice cap. The high central regions are growing thicker, while the edges are melting rapidly. Eventually the pulse caused by the lowering support from thinning edges, will probably carray ice away from the center faster than it accumulates.

There are a few places that buck the trend. A change in precipitation or in summer cloudiness can give a boost.

I spent some time thinking about this. We all know it is the CO2 that keeps the heat closer to the ground. This means that the atmosphere is actually cooling off at higher altitudes. At some altitude there must be a point of equilibrium where + and - equals out. Above that hight atmosphere is cooling, below it, it is heating up. I do not know at wich level this equilibrium occours, but I do know the Himalayas are the highest mountains in the world. Lot of atmsphere is below those hights. Who know, it may be there will never be melting temperatures at those altitudes.

But still, everything is melting by the edges.

I heard a snippet of an interview this morning, on NPR news, with Richard Heinberg, saying that the problems in Europe are (paraphrasing) a symptom of resource depletion and the limits to growth. He was introduced on the segment as "the economist, Richard Heinberg".

It was only a couple of seconds long, but interesting to hear on the MSM. I will look out for any links that show up in this regard.

Yesterday on NPR they ran Newts "There is no peak oil, there is no peak gas" tantrum, also just seconds long.

Better late than never. NPR is good entertainment some of the time, but like most of the MSM, they serve mostly to distract and confuse. They just do it more in-depth than the short-attention span networks.

NPR people are just stenographers for our corporate friends, and the Pentagon--
As you point out, it is just for those with a little longer attention span.

NPR is just the straight-up official message.

Re: Honda Civic mileage verdict has industry sweating

This case is a clear example of lawyers going over the edge. The Honda witness was correct about posting EPA mileage numbers, which, for a 2006 car, were based on the older EPA emissions test data. Those tests were well known to overstate mileage, particularly highway mileage, since the test was based on a simulated driving cycle that dated from the time with the US national speed limit was 55 mph. The test included a start and stop, thus the average speed was only 48 miles per hour. The more recent tests have increased the speed of the simulated driving test, thus produce lower mileage estimates.

Also, the lady has been reported to have previously driven a BMW, perhaps because she enjoyed the thrill of fast driving. If she drove her Honda like a typical lead footed BMW hot dog, her mileage wouldn't have been very good. Of course, we can't know how she drove or what her typical route might have been, so there's no way to say whether she might have attained good gas mileage. I'm sorry to say that I feel no sympathy for her and her use of a litigation "trick" (ie, filing in small claims court) to enrich herself.

Oh, BTW, the same complaint might be used against all the car manufacturers who posted those optimistic EPA highway mileage data. Lets not point a finger at Honda, lets everybody go to small claims court and sue the makers of our cars. Especially the car companies what sold us gas guzzler SUV's...

E. Swanson

Part of the problem with this, also, is that people use the justification of ROI to purchase hybrids. In other words, they want to see a numerical return of measurable gas savings over time, to justify paying a higher price for a hybrid model.

Every time I mention to someone that I drive a hybrid, the first thing they ask is whether the savings "have paid for themselves", rather than whether the vehicle itself is better for the environment, or an advance on the standard ICE.

I can say I have saved a substantial amount on gasoline. The additional price paid the for hybrid is really no greater than if I had added all the bells and whistles to a bog-standard civic - XM radio, sunroof, fat tires and the like, none of which contributes in any way to ROI.

if they want a return on their investment on saved gas. get a smaller car like a smart fortwo. or get a 500cc or less motorbike, not one of the large gold wing like ones that get no better gas mileage then many cars 30~ mpg. you will also do better on the environment too as unlike a hybrid, your car has not done a world trip before getting to your driveway.

hybrids are a joke now to me after doing research on how they are made. it's fake green.

My petrol BMW R100 gs motorcycle (1 litre) gave me 9l/100 km, my diesel 4wd Toyota 5 seat ute (2.5 litre) used 10l/100 km in the same environment. The motorcycle was a little more fun (no, I rarely ran at full throttle even in the no-speed limit NT); but I can't figure out how the truck that weighed 5 times as much, carried 10 times as much weight and twice as many people got the same mileage, as well as getting me out of the sun & providing air conditioning... I can see how the aerodynamics (bad => worse) would help on the highway but it was no better in town. {and, as an aside, not much fun to wait at a traffic light with the sun beating down & the engine broiling below.)

On the other hand I have a 40 year old R50 (eg half the engine size), with no emissions control that does about 3l/100km. It helps that I can run unthrottled at 100km/h. (in other words that's as fast as it goes!) Still twice the size people use in Vietnam.

I, too, am baffled by 'private' hybrids when the VW Lupo 3 conventional diesel was getting 3l/100km (80 mpg) 15 years ago. Regenerating hybrids can be easily justified as urban taxis.

Modern 'western' motorcycles appear to be a massive scam, especially the most popular (but is there any other company name that people will tattoo onto themselves?)

Bryan - born to be mild

...but I can't figure out how the truck that weighed 5 times as much, carried 10 times as much weight and twice as many people got the same mileage, as well as getting me out of the sun & providing air conditioning...

Random thoughts:

  • Diesel has about 30% more BTUs per liter.
  • Diesel engines run at much higher compression ratios and convert that energy more efficiently -- typically 45% thermal efficiency for the diesel vs 30% (or less) for gasoline. These first two give you almost 2:1 advantage in energy delivered to the wheels per liter.
  • Depending on the age of the truck, the control electronics may make a significant difference. It's hard to make the ICE in a contemporary car or light truck use too much or too little fuel. As someone once said, flooring the gas pedal just tells the processor you'd like to accelerate as fast as possible, but it's just a hint; the processor is looking at a bunch of other inputs and is not going to allow you to push fuel that can't be used efficiently into the cylinders.
  • Overall engine design on the motorcycle is probably tuned more for power, less for efficiency.

Modern 'western' motorcycles appear to be a massive scam, especially the most popular (but is there any other company name that people will tattoo onto themselves?)

Hee hee. Or name their kids. I knew one such nut, David, who had a number of tattoos of the kind you speak of. He wanted to name his son Harley, so he could say: "Harley, David's Son." His lady would have none of it. LOL

Re: Chris Martenson: Why Our Currency Will Fail (uptop)

. .. the oil price is the new Fed funds rate, meaning that it is now the price of oil that sets the pace of economic movement, not interest rates established by the Fed.

I suspect that more and more people will conclude that food and energy assets represent the new currency, or at least the best store of value.

Regarding the endless inflation/deflation debates, IMO wherever we are headed, constrained supplies of global net exports are acting as an accelerant, like an aerial tanker dropping napalm on a raging forest fire, instead of fire retardant.

It has seemed to me that raising interest rates to keep inflation in check would be self defeating since energy (and food which is dependent on energy) is the prime driver of inflation these days. The rise in energy prices is more about supply than demand. We don't have the oil supply to meet demand and the economy needs demand for employment to improve.

Basically, the Fed accepts tacitly (realizes in their way) that the price of oil is keeping Core inflation in check. And so it doesn't have to raise interest rates to manage inflation.

From my layman's perspective, the price of oil has replaced the federal funds rate as the most important throttle on the U.S. economy, and the world economy.


Embarrassingly I didn't read Chris Martenson's article before commenting. From his post...

Of course, the age of cheap oil is over. And as Jim Puplava says, the oil price is the new Fed funds rate, meaning that it is now the price of oil that sets the pace of economic movement, not interest rates established by the Fed.

I am a regular reader of the various econobloggers. Krugman, Delong, Salmon, etc. and though I have a great respect for their analysis I am surprised at how little mention they give to the price of oil (energy).

That article was very interesting until it took a quick turn into a how to invest under these conditions. Umm, you mean the currency will devolve, but there's still ways to make money?!

I wonder what he'd have written had the Fed already made public its decision to devalue the dollar by 1/3 over the next 20 years. http://www.forbes.com/sites/charleskadlec/2012/02/06/the-federal-reserve...

I was thinking about 'MADOR' the other day and I was trying to figure out possible scenarios. I wondered what an USACANZ would look like in terms of demographics, wealth and population density.

Population: 375,043,888 as at today.*
Area: 27,764,179 KM^2 or 20.6% of land area.*
Population density: 13.5 per KM^2 vs 52 per KM^2*
Total GDP: 17 Trillion**. vs 63 Trillion*** or 27% of total.

Now, why did I choose these particular countries? I wanted to figure out what would happen if things started to unravel, whom would have the best chance of holding together civilization? Two things become apparent, even though the wealth of these countries are excessive on a per capita basis, they aren't that bad when looking from the perspective of wealth relative to the abundance of natural resources. With so many resources to burn and so few to feed it is likely the world could go to hell and the people in these countries if they worked together could carry on living a closer approximation to current BAU than anyone on the planet.

Why would they work together? They all speak English, they all have common history as ex British colonies and they are relatively close to each other geographically when you consider the wonders of efficient intercontinental shipping.

Hmm, just a thought. I assume that global cooperation will break down eventually (CO2/Energy crisises/Food shortages, I.E every country for itself) so with recent overtures between the U.S.A. and Australia, with Canada effectively in the bag and New Zealand typically following Australia, it seemed pretty obvious that this is a likely way the chips would fall.

** http://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=wb-wdi&met=ny_gdp_mktp_cd&idim=country:USA:CHN:FRA:DEU:JPN:GBR#!ctype=l&strail=false&bcs=d&nselm=h&met_y=ny_gdp_mktp_cd&scale_y=lin&ind_y=false&rdim=country&idim=country:USA:AUS:CAN:NZL&ifdim=country&hl=en&dl=en
*** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28nominal%29

North America has huge reserves of coal, natural gas, forest and fertile land. It is the fourth largest oil producer in the world.

It has a reasonable percentage of highly educated people, and massive installed infrastructure and huge intellectual property reserves.

So why on earth are its people incapable of living within their own resource limits?

I ask that question every time I read your military budget figures.

"So why on earth are its people incapable of living within their own resource limits?"

Just turn on any North American television. They're being programmed to consume.

I would not expect it to be so simple as adding two existing geopolitical entities. More like each would lose some parts and add others based on what makes sense in a world of more limited resources.

Yeah I know it isn't quite as simple as direct addition. My interest here is in whom is likely to work together in case of global (insert catastrophe here) and whom is likely to be the most prosperous under such a scenario. One thing which has interested me recently is wealth vs population density in terms of scarce(r) resources as we move into the future. Whilst it may not seem fair on a per capita basis, what intrigues me is that total population doesn't seem to matter nearly as much as resources per capita. Even if India for instance has a lower footprint per person, they have a larger C02 emission level per area for example than the U.S.A.

Should countries with the luck or foresight to have lower populations be punished for it? Are countries which have a low population density entitled to more resources and more pollution than those who are packed in like sardines relatively? Even the level of wealth seems only marginally higher than the world average on a GDP/Area basis, they could lower consumption by say 25% and keep the same relative lifestyle as before with efficiency improvements alone whilst living a lifestyle of wealth and luxury still compared to the world average.

S - Wow! Am I on the verge of my 15 minutes of fame: someone used MADOR (Mutual Assured Distribution Of Resources) besides me. LOL.

Actually your post is a good lead in to a report I heard on NPR yesterday. As resources become more limited we'll continue to deal with the haves and have-nots. But more and more will belong to the have-not group. But by coordinating with other friendly have-nots life may not be as difficult. As you point out cultural/historical similarities might dominate the match ups. Or maybe just mutually beneficial financial ties will be the primary factor. Along those lines from NPR: Brazil appears to be developing some significant long term oil resources. So who will be Bz's big trading partner down the road? Let's start with who holds that position today. According to NPR China has just becomes Bz's largest trading partner. They didn't offer numbers but noted that trading between the US and all of S. America has been steadily declining over the years. They also noted a certain level of animosity by S Americans to the US from our past adventures in that part of the world.

Of course, the US is held in a somewhat better light with our northern cousins. OTOH business is business. If China can position itself as THE vital trading partner with Canada as they've done with Bz one would assume Canada would expand that relationship especially if it means developing a trading partner that can pay more for one of its major exports (oil) then another country. Blood may be thicker than water. But it's not nearly as thick as cash.

Well, Canada is doing a lot more business with China;

and China is buying up lots of stuff in Canada;

China is now Canada's second largest trading partner, but the gap to the US is huge..

For Cdn exports, in 2010, 75% went to the US, and 3.3% to China, for imports, 50% came from US and 11% from china.

So, China will never really challenege the US for most important trading partner...

BUT, trade in all areas (from energy to tourism) with China is increasing, and in most areas with the US is decreasing. so which markets do you think Cdn companies are directing their investments towards?

PAUL - And how would those numbers rebalance if Canada began exporting the bulk of its oil to China? And if China sweetened the trade for the Canadians by reciprocating and buying most of the wood products from Canada instead of Asia? And what, heaven forbid, if the Chinese develop a taste for maple syrup? Pancakes in the US will never be the same. OTOH I grew up on cane syrup so no biggie for me. LOL.

We may already be past peak maple syrup. Cracker Barrel restaurant used to have the little bottles of pure maple syrup. Now the bottles are "pure natural syrup" which is only part maple. The peak maple syrup skeptics are probably looking at "all liquids" including cane sugar syrup.


What a great parallel! All liquids indeed!

Maple Syrup production is only being constrained by above-ground factors. Quebec has upgraded it's light sweet Sugar Maple reserves & announced there is enough for 250 years at this rate.

However here in BC we are using Douglas maples with a much lower EROI.

Bryan in Canuckistan

Well, the Big Leaf maples, actually, and yes, lower EROEI and a heavier, less sweet product. But, that doesn't stop some grizzled old hands like TREEMAN here in the West from going out there and drilling holes for the stuff, doing enhanced recovery, whatever it takes - we refuse to be dependent on the Middle-East (of Canada)!

B.C. bigleaf maple syrup finding its niche

Maple syrup production is already taking a hit from climate change.

Climate changes, beetles threaten trees


The Canadian PM is in China right now trying to do all that you have just said...

Harper plants seeds for wood export growth to China

Canadian wood exports to China increased to $835 million in 2010, up 119 per cent from 2009. During the first eleven months of 2011, wood products were Canada's third-largest export to China, totalling nearly $1.4 billion and are expected to exceed $1.5 billion in 2011, according to Canadian government figures.

Hmm, wood exports trebled in three years - not bad.

Except that the trade is almost all in raw logs, so not good news for the sawmills...

With oil, If canda sent all its 2mbd exports to China, that would be about $80bn/yr, a pretty good chunk of change.

So if you guys don;t want it, we'll sell to someone else.

As for maple syrup, I think you are too late in trying to keep that t yourself;
Quebec=Maple syrup's strategic reserve

It's the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers’ way of preparing for what it expects to be a banner year for exports to Asia due to surging demand from countries like Japan, China and South Korea.

Those markets are increasingly important to the people who make maple syrup – mostly in Quebec, but also in Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia – as the flow of syrup exports slows to the United States, the condiment’s top importer.

I wonder if we'll see the US military deployed to keep that maples syrup supply heading south instead of east - be a lot of big, angry guys if they don't!

Also from the article;

Quebec produces 94 per cent of Canada’s maple syrup and 77 per cent of the world’s supply

Makes KSA's share of the oil market look small...

This is actually the only reason the rest of Canada hasn't let Quebec separate...

Well, Canada is currently exporting around a billion barrels of year of crude oil and products to the US, so if we diverted half of that to China, at $100/barrel, that would be around $50 billion a year.

The Canadian trade deficit with China is currently around $25 billion a year, so that would completely reverse the trade balance from a $25 billion deficit to a $25 billion surplus.

And if, just to humor us, China was willing to take Canada's lumber exports that the US lumber interests have blocked, that would solve that problem, too. We could sell them lots of cheap 2x4s and plywood.

Maple syrup I don't know about. I don't think pancakes are popular there. I don't know if it would go that well with steamed rice and stir-fried vegetables. The US might be safe from a maple syrup shortage.

Don;t be too sure about the Chinese not liking maple syrup - they will eat just about anything.

From that Globe article;

“We are looking forward to having an even bigger numbers for 2011, 2012,” said Simon Trépanier, interim director-general of the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers. He pointed to the fact that Asian consumers are already using maple syrup as a topping on pancakes, ice cream and other desserts, but it is becoming increasingly popular to cook chicken and pork with it as well.

And they sure cook a LOT of chicken and pork over there...

Okay, maybe there is a big market for Canadian maple syrup in China. They can put it on chicken and pork if they want. It's becoming hard to thing of something we have that they wouldn't buy if they got the chance.

Oh, I don't know, I can think of a few things they probably wouldn't want to buy;

-Any US bonds held by the Cdn gov
-a GM factory in Ontario
- almost any other factory in Ontario or Quebec
-any of the steel works
-The Toronto Maple Leafs
-any of the nuke stations in Ontario (or the one in NB)
-Air Canada
-Via Rail

I think a more accurate statement might be "it's hard to think of anything in Western Canada they wouldn't want to buy, and hard to think of anything in Eastern Canada that they would want to buy"

Rockman - I know how you like crazy analogies... So how about China = Polar Bear and USA = Orca/Killer whale. So whilst the Polar Bear and Orca both effectively eat much of the same stuff the Polar Bear knows he can't tangle with the Orca and win so he treads softly and stays of of the way of the Orca whilst the Orca on the other hand could kill and eat the Polar Bear but it'd be way too much trouble than it is worth. Effectively the arctic resources are divided mutually between them though the Bear knows that at any point the Orca could get pissed and eat him alive, typically they'll just stay out of each others way.

Anyway I suspect China's strategy in MADOR is to develop friendships with as many resource rich nations as possible, hence their bothering with a free trade deal with New Zealand for instance (their first IIRC) and to develop as fast as possible whilst treading as lightly as possible so as they don't piss off the U.S.A. too early. Right now they'll just distract the U.S.A. with Iran etc to keep their attention focused elsewhere whilst trying not to annoy the sleeping giant. Their objective is to keep the U.S.A. distracted with internal problems and trivial matters long enough for them to develop a strong military and economic ties with resource rich countries.

If China pisses the U.S.A. off too early you'll probably see an end to much of the trivial bickering and power plays. Nothing gets things done better than having a common enemy, for instance IIRC the most productive period ever for the U.S. Senate was during WW2 and a little beyond. Right now you guys seem to be busy trying to keep the gravy flowing and BAU intact because it feels pretty good to be on top. If you guys felt threatened then suddenly it is likely that we'd see a change in diplomacy and tactics and one thing China can't match is U.S. propaganda (Hollywood = American good guys, always). Remember how the rest of the world practically fell at Obama's feet because he wasn't Bush? Well if there is some serious action in that direction instead of platitudes it is very likely the world will quickly move towards better trading relations with the U.S. and China will always seem like the worser of two evils in this scenario.

I don't know if it has any relevance to your argument, but polar bears have been know to eat orcas that got stranded. Only if they get the chance, though. Polar bears will eat anything, including you, if they get the chance.

Yeah it works because orcas also have been known to kill and eat polar bears. It is the kind of relationship I was thinking about with both apex predators eating mostly the same food and yet in certain circumstances one can be killed and eaten by the other.

They also noted a certain level of animosity by S Americans to the US from our past adventures in that part of the world.

Hey, Rockman, I just got back from Brazil and despite the official government statements, noted a more than subtle level of animosity, by Brazilian people in general and business people in particular towards the Chinese. Certainly trade is happening and the Chinese are in Brazil but things are not all that rosy for the Chinese either. As for the US Gov't, well, they made their bed a long time ago and will now have to lay in it...

Seems Brazilians are looking out more and more for themselves! However I met a lot of cash rich Brazilians who are coming in droves to the US for tourism and shopping sprees. So they may not be all that unfriendly towards the American People.
It was of course rather amusing to hear what they have to say about the circus that our political system has become.

I want to listen to Newt's thoughts on energy about as much as I want to listen to him preach about family values. He has absolutely no idea what he is talking about regarding both topics.

Tankingthinker, I heard him say that under his policies we will be producing enough oil that we can become an exporter.

About as likely as having a station on the moon. Oh, maybe we will have that too.

If you can force the 99% to seriously cut their oil consumption (by making them too poor to afford it), you could achieve net exporter status.

Hearing Santorum talk about "the farce of man-made global warming" this morning I got to wondering: What percentage of the population believes in global warming. Searched the net and found several including this posted on September 15th:

Poll: More Americans believe world is warming

72 percent of Republicans say it's happening; Democrats at 92 percent...

The percentage of Americans who believe the Earth has been warming rose to 83 percent from 75 percent last year in the poll conducted Sept. 8-12.

I really don't believe Santorum is going to win with that one. He also said that our rights do not come from government, they come from God. I guess we can now repeal all civil rights laws because God did not write them, government lawmakers did.

Ron P.

But his audience is not all Americans, or even all Republicans. His audience is the diehard social conservatives.

You have to pretty hardcore to participate primaries, caucuses, etc. so it's already a particularly committed group. And the Republicans who are concerned about electability are voting for Romney, maybe Newt. Santorum's strength is with the religious conservatives who distrust Romney and Newt.

Leanan - Maybe an even more restricted audience. Most would classify me as a die hard social conservative. And I like much of what Santorum says. But as a conservative oil patch athiest you can guess where he loses me. And never having been found of the "choosing the lesser of two evils" approach there isn't much enthusiasm on my part. Maybe it's just me but it seems to becoming more and more difficult for a conservative (some of us anyway) to support the "conservative" candidate. And there have been times when I supported a Democrat. But those days seem long gone also. At the rate I'm going soon I'll just be one more PO'd old fart that dislikes everyone.

"At the rate I'm going soon I'll just be one more PO'd old fart that dislikes everyone."

IMHO,reality dictates that destination.

Rock, you've pretty much nailed why I've been an independent ("No party affiliation" in NC) for 15 years. I refuse to be associated with either crooked-clown club. Even our "Blue Dog Democrat" congressman , Heath Shuler has decided not to run again, even though he's fairly popular. Word is, he's leaving in disgust..

The sad thing is that every time a moderate congress critter leaves the replacement semms to be a frothing-at-the-mouth extremist.

If Heath Shuler is leaving in disgust, it must be pretty bad.

Wonder why Webb and Dorgan gave it up.


No love for fellow Texan Ron Paul?

He seems to be the only one who seriously wants to downsize government, and get the Feds out of citizen's and corporations' finances and out of citizens' bedrooms, phone calls, library book check-out lists,(DHS) etc.

I would think that oil patch folks would love the idea of much less federal regulation and taxes...perhaps that might be offset by the promise of vanishing federal subsidies?

It seems to me that the reasons the only guy who really seems to be a 'small government conservative' isn't catching fire are:

1. Too many folks have drunk the Koolaid on the 'necessity' of the present scale of the MIC...some of those folks make their living, directly or through investment income, from MIC KTRs (contractors). Paul's promise to cut the MIC significantly is a deal-breaker for many folks who have been taught to fear the boogieman.

2. Paul does not bang the social hot button drums nearly loud enough (abortion and contraception, etc). Nor does he demonize Obama with the expected dog whistles loud and often and stridently enough for many folks' preferences. Not enough fire'n'brimstone.

3. Many conservatives who like to talk a good game about cutting social spending are not going to cut their own throats by voting to eliminate Medicare and Social Security etc. when it is 'zero hour' in the voting booth.

4. Paul simply 'doesn't look or talk Presidential'...Too short, too old, his suits are sometimes too big, doesn't talk fancy/statesmen-like enough, too plain-talking, ears stick out, EIEIO. Doesn't have the Romney 'Superman' square jaw, good hair, etc...

If Paul isn't the closest thing to a 'true conservative, who is?

Edit: Can I also take this as a 'teaching momemt' for me from you?

I am curious what constitutes your 'died in the wool' social conservatism, especially given your atheism...

If you don't mind helping expand my knowledge, what are the top 10 (seven, five, doesn't matter the exact number) most important issues to you which you would characterize as being in the social conservative wheelhouse?

I have for so long been exposed to the conflation of 'conservative' issues with U.S. American Christian conservative issues I now have trouble telling them apart...for example, anti-abortion, anti-contraception access, anti sex education, anti-homosexual anything...I am trying to see if their if a bright line, or any line, between fiscal/money conservatism (want lower government spending, lower debt, lower deficit, lower taxes, reduced or eliminated programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc).

Once again, I circle back to my premise that if one's main concerns are the 'money/budget' conservatism, then Paul seems to be the 'Man'.

There are multiple levels of governmental and government-like regulation that affect individuals.

Ron Paul is the sort of libertarian that appears to not believe that private corporations can wield government-like influence over individuals.

I reckon he has a really good credit score.


I do not disagree with you...

...but that does not change my basic question about the conservative folks who clap and cheer at rallies where any candidate rails against government deficits, debts, big government, government over-reach, nanny-sate, etc.

Why isn't Ron Paul their man?

The results from the Republican nominating process lead me to assess that the true dyed-in-the-wool 'small government'/Tea Party followers are no more than ~ 25%, tops, best-case, of the republican likely voters...probably less than that...and that puts them at ~10-12% of the voting public at large, tops.

Therefore I conclude that when most (>75%)of conservatives say they want greatly reduced government, they are blowing smoke, and they really want a somewhat tailored version of BAU.

Note that I am not touting Ron Paul here..I am sussing out that most conservatives really want a minor to lower-modest tuning of Federal spending and a tweaking of taxing and borrowing towards s of their priorities, but really do not want a sea change in these matters.

Bottom line: The probability seems very low to me that any election in the U.S. will produce any future governments that are capable of planning and enacting any serious policies to change the shape of things to come. Bread and circuses, not while New Rome burns, but while New Rome slowly decays...kind-of like the original Rome. This time with TV, Internet and video games.

Of course they want greatly reduced government. So long as it is not them and their playthings.


This is a hugely important point, and one that way too many supposed greens race right past in their habit of chalking everything up to "human nature."

The real problem is our wildly unresponsive and elite-purchased political system. As Darwinian says, Santorum is merely recruiting voters here, not expressing a general social consensus.

FWIW, here's the latest news on the electoral (read: candidate-marketing) front:


Bill Moyers Interviews David Stockman on Crony Capitalism of Washington & Wall St.

...and Citizens United was the biggest nail in the coffin of the constitutional republic we like to call "Democracy".

And yet still claim to want to export democracy, even after losing it at home.

Maybe we can save it, by exporting it? If we can't keep it, can we give to someone more deserving?

One can not loose what one did not have.

If the rights come from government, then government can take them away as they wish.

And you have a situation where one party can vote away the rights of another.

Then I suppose you agree with Santorum, that all rights come from God. Who speaks for God? How do we get God's take on what rights we have?

Does the Constitution gives any rights? Did the Bill of Rights, (the first 10 amendments), give us any rights? Did the Constitution come from the Government?

Our nation is a nation of laws. Without the laws granted us by the constitution and enforced by the government, we would have no rights except those we could take by brute force. And without laws they could likewise be taken from us by brute force.

So like it or not we are totally dependent upon the government, local, state and federal, to protect our rights.

Ron P.

Does the Constitution gives any rights?

It does not.

Did the Bill of Rights, (the first 10 amendments), give us any rights?

Nope. Gives the citizens not a thing.

For those who wish to get educated:

And winning (or keeping) something by law involves a type of brute force itself, legal firepower of sorts. It may not be quite as gamable as physical brute force, but it isn't necessarily just either.

US. vs.Johnson (76 Fed Supp. 538), Federal District Court Judge James Alger Fee ruled that,

"The privilege against self-incrimination is neither accorded to the passive resistant, nor to the person who is ignorant of his rights, nor to one indifferent thereto. It is a FIGHTING clause. It's benefits can be retained only by sustained COMBAT. It cannot be claimed by attorney or solicitor. It is valid only when insisted npon by a BELLIGERENT claimant in person."

Rights belong to the belligerent litigant.

Our nation is a nation of laws.


Rather than point out the obvious 'are the present laws being followed' lets go back to events like:

Andrew Jackson and the manner the Cherokees were treated.

The "law" had treaties in place. The "law" had the Supreme Court make a decision and yet - when it came time to grab resources...what happened?

Now lets use an example that you, Darwinian, has posted comments about in the last drumbeat.

A modern version of "a Nation of laws" would compare the Constitutional requirements for Congress to make a Declaration of War. Then one gets to take this requirement and compare it to something like, oh say, the use of machines of War to violate another Nation's border, said machines of war resulted in property destruction and loss of life - is that not a "war"?

When was the last time a Declaration was drafted and voted on? If it wasn't for the use of force in Libya - how was that what "a Nation of Laws" does?

enforced by the government, we would have no rights

Say, how'd that 'enforcement' WRT the Cherokee work out for them?

Some of these people who admit things have been warming up ascribe it to all sorts of other non manmade causes. Usually, it's the sun stupid. Or natural variation. But, often its just some variant of "God did it". I know scientifically literate people who think weather/climate is controlled by god for his own purposes. Those purposes usually revolve around religion; punishing the wicked, or bring on the end times. For these people, even suggesting mere man could affect god's creation is an affront to god.

You equivocate implying two different statements are the same. You quote:

Santorum "the farce of man-made global warming"
"Americans who believe the Earth has been warming".

Those are two very different statements. I can easily believe the earth has been warming since the Little Ice Age. I can also accept that it warmed from 1980 to 2000 without saying that humans were the primary cause. The rate of warming over the last decade has been only about a third or less of the IPCC projections. (You always have to specify the time period involved and the relative magnitude of natural vs anthropogenic. e.g., The earth has been cooling since the interglacial maximum and will likely go into another ice age.)
The uncertainties in evidence and models are too great to reliably quantify the relative magnitude of anthropogenic vs natural causes at present.
See evidence at Climate Etc., or WUWT etc.

I guess all that needs to sum you up is this: http://www.skepticalscience.com/graphics.php?g=47

No need to say any more.

Mr. Hagen, I was referring to Santorum's comments on CPAC this morning. After checking I must apologize, what he actually said was "facade" not farce. I was just posting from memory and just got it wrong. But basically a facade means a false front, something that is just made up. Basically the same thing as farce.

Okay so a few people who believe global warming is real think it has natural causes. From the link:

Some 71 percent of the Americans who believe warming is happening think that it is caused either partly or mostly by humans, while 27 percent believe its is the result of natural causes, the poll found.

Ron P.

I really don't believe Santorum is going to win with that one. He also said that our rights do not come from government, they come from God. I guess we can now repeal all civil rights laws because God did not write them, government lawmakers did.

Santorum isn't going to win much of anything except lots of lobbying fees when he goes back to that racket. He just won a string of primaries/caucuses where few people showed up because it appeared all over in favor of Romney and the only people that do show up is the hardcore evangelical base of the GOP. Santorum is too much of a religious zealot even for the USA. After learning more about him, the people of Pennsylvania booted that incumbent out of office by a margin of 18 points.

"I guess we can now repeal all civil rights laws because God did not write them..."

"Burn the books... They are not of God's words." Was the reasoning behind the burning of the library at Alexandria's contents...

Most democratic constitutions have a line about how the power comes from the people. The Swedish one has the words "makten utgår från folket", "the power is extended from the people". Constitutions are a document that defines the relations between the people and its gouvernment. Nothing else. It does not say what rights humans have at all, it only say what rights the gouvernment have been gifted from the people.

Further on, the swedish constitution do not provide rights such as freedom of speach, faith etc. What it does is that it FORBIDS the gouvernment to write laws that limits these freedoms. I do not have freedom of speach because the gouvernement alows me. We, the people, simply forbade them to regulate it. The fact that I have those rights are dealt with as a given.

This is where his statement about "given by God" comes in. He assumes we have these rights from the begining, and he contributes God as the source of these rights. If you are an atheist, you would adress nature, the greater good, or just plain sense, as the source of these rights.

The State do not grant us these freedoms. The constitution does not. We, the people, have the power and we do not alow the gouvernemnt to regulate these issues. And I assume this is the thinking in the constitutions of many democacys.

Minas Crude Oil Spot Price: $129.06


John Hofmeister Discovers the "Chindia Factor" On CNBC

I just witnessed a jaw dropping moment on CNBC. Hofmeister is predicting $5 gasoline in the US by the end of the year. He said that rapidly increasing demand from the developing countries, especially China & India, is far outpacing the very slow net rate of increase in US crude oil production.

China January Oil Imports Rise To Record (Zero Hedge)

At 23.4k metric tons of imports in January, China just imported the most crude in its history, despite the traditionally slow period around the Chinese new year.

The CANE metric: The cumulative post-2005 supply of global net exports available to importers other than China & India

I estimate that there are about 157 net oil importing countries in the world. If we extrapolate the Chindia region’s rate of increase in their combined net oil imports, as a percentage of Global Net Exports of oil (GNE), in 19 years just two of these oil importing countries--China & India--would consume 100% of GNE.

I estimate that the current CANE (Cumulative Available Net Exports, post-2005) depletion rate could be on the order of about 8%/year (versus a 2005 to 2010 2.8%/year rate of decline in the volume of ANE). The CANE depletion rate would be the rate that we are consuming the cumulative post-2005 supply of global net exports available to importers other than China & India. Based on a simple model and based on actual case histories, note that it is common for the initial depletion rate to exceed the initial annual rate of decline in net exports.

In round numbers, I estimate that the remaining cumulative supply of (net) exported oil available to importers other than China & India is falling at an annual rate that is about three times the rate that the annual volume of (net) exported oil available to importers other than China & India is falling.

I estimate that the current CANE (Cumulative Available Net Exports, post-2005) depletion rate could be on the order of about 8%/year (versus a 2005 to 2010 2.8%/year rate of decline in the volume of ANE).

U.S decline in net exports have been around 8%/year since 2006:

2006:~13 mb/d
2007: 11.96 (-8%)
2008: 11.00
2009: 10.12
2010:  9.31
2011:  8.57
2012:  7.88

4-Week Avg U.S. Net Imports of Crude Oil and Petroleum Products: 7,829 (lowest since December 1996)

I am amazed at the linear decline trend there, abut 0.8mdb/yr. IF it keeps going like that, the US will reach zero net imports in around 2022.

I can't imagine what the US economy would look at that point...

Not only are US net imports of crude oil and products declining rapidly, but a rapidly increasing proportion of the imports are coming from Canada:

This means that Canadian imports are backing out imports from all other countries. A lot of this has to do with price. Recent prices:

West Texas Intermediate: $100 per barrel
North Sea Brent Blend: $119 per barrel
OPEC Basket Price: $116 per barrel
Western Canadian Select: $67 per barrel

It is an unstable situation because with declining US consumption and increasing Canadian oil sands production, Canada is beginning to produce more oil than the US economy can reasonably absorb, and this is reflected in prices.

The Canadian Prime Minister is currently in China talking to Chinese leaders about alternatives, and I think something will be done about broadening the geographic range of Canadian exports in the relatively near future.

The low Canadian prices are being translated to cheaper gasoline in the central US. This in turn is helping the economy, but not on the coasts. There, they are more dependent on high priced imports. See this map of gasoline prices.

Nice map. Thanks!

I am a complete neophyte in this, but the data at these two locations astound (or confound!) me.

Note the enormous drop in October and November 2011. Is this data normally revised upwards in subsequent months?

Note the change in exports of gasoline in the last two years. Drilling down, the data says about 60% of these exports are to Mexico!

Based on data I found on vehicles per capita, here would be the implications:

Gasoline Consumed Gallons per vehicle Decline from 2007

Mexico - Sep, 2007 54,180,000 1.81
Mexico - Nov 2011 420,966,000 14.06 777%
US - Jun, 2007 1,825,971,000 7.05
US - Sep, 2011 1,259,178,000 4.86 69%
US - Nov, 2011 928,020,000 3.58 51%

Obviously, Mexico hasn't had a surge in driving. Is Mexico being used as a trans-ship location...for gasoline going to say China or India?

Are you talking about gasoline being sent from the USA to Mexico there? Maybe it is due to Mexican refinery capacity? Don't know enough to dig out the right figures, anyone?


Figures are here: http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/PET_MOVE_EXPC_A_EPM0F_EEX_MBBL_M.htm This is finished gasoline. It is obviously not being consumed in Mexico. Very curious

Looks like refinery bottleneck but there also seems to be an increase in theft of gasoline, in large quantities, which gets sold, ironically, in the USA.




Hofmeister in early 2008:


"We will peak some day, but it won't be because of a lack of oil."

$5 Gas In 2012, Ex Shell President Predicts
December 27, 2010: 6:25 PM ET
gas was up another 2 cents to $3.79 here yesterday

CNBC video link:



What's really unprecedented, Carl, is the fact that developing countries, especially China and India, have this insatiable need for more oil, and that has not been taken into account as we've thought about public policy in this country. So while we may be producing a bit more oil in this country, and while demand is down a bit, on a global basis I'm afraid we face a continuing onslaught of prices creeping ever higher. I hope I'm wrong in this. I'd love to be wrong, but we saw last year's record gasoline prices through the course of the year, and we're seeing the same phenomenon starting out this year, and I'm afraid it's just creeping up and creeping up, and in the meantime you have refineries closing on the east coast because they can't get the margin they need to stay open.

Went to $4.05 in Arcata, CA last night.

I was there last week, and Arcata seems to have some of the highest gas prices in California (Bridgeport is always high, but that is a special situation).

Arcata/Eureka? Transportation costs and not a lot of competition?

I've heard the trip up from the refineries in the Bay Area adds one cent per gallon. Not sure how true that is.

Therefore, I think you've nailed it with "not a lot of competition".

Easy Predictions

Four days ago in the Gas Boom Goes Bust article I said:

We should expect 2012 to be a year in which we see a variety of knock-on effects:

  • Natural gas producers and investors with poor hedge books and too much debt will end up in bankruptcy court.
  • Drilling operations will focus on liquids-rich plays only.
  • Jobs creation in the natural gas drilling industry will fall well short of expectations.
  • Several older coal-fired plants will close.
  • New wind power generation will fall — especially if the production tax credit is not extended.
  • Natural gas fueled fleet vehicles should become more popular.

These were admittedly easy predicitons to make but confirmation is coming in faster than I expected:

BG slashes shale drilling in weak gas price world

FirstEnergy to close 3 aging power plants in W.Va.

At this rate, I expect to hear about cancelled wind turbine projects next week and complaints about missing drilling jobs in a month. Bankruptcies by summer?

Best Hopes for specific, actionable and accurate predictions.


At this rate, I expect to hear about cancelled wind turbine projects next week

You don't even have to wait that long, in the last weeks and months;

Second [Ohio] wind energy project called off

Plans for 20MW [S. Dakota] wind farm cancelled

"the utility said the expiration of federal tax credits in 2012 was a factor in its decision"

Controversial [Michigan] Wind Energy projects cancelled

Tiny bird kills big [Washington] wind project

New Comstock wind energy project [Nevada} cancelled

Wind farm project cancelled due to cheap Marcellus gas

TVA is in the process of closing 18 of it's coal-fired units as well, replacing some capacity with natural gas:

The federally owned Tennessee Valley Authority will be closing 18 units at three of its plants in Tennessee and Alabama as part of the agreement, affecting about 16 percent of its coal-fired electricity generating system....

...To replace the electric capacity, TVA will look to "low-emission or zero-emission electricity sources, including renewable energy, natural gas, nuclear power and energy efficiency," the utility said in a statement.

More demand on our 'abundant natural gas' resources.

In 2009 when the rig count fell below 800, it previously had reached a high of 1600. This time it is plunging past 800 after being around 900. It will be interesting to see if that makes much of a difference.

US natgas rigs at 28-month low, prices squeeze profits

The natural gas rig count, now at its lowest since October 2009, is down about 23 percent from the last year's peak of 936 hit in October.

But traders said the planned gas cuts were no where near what would be needed to tighten an oversupplied gas market.

The recent rig slide to well below 800, which many analysts say is needed to slow record output, has reinforced talk that low gas prices, off about a third in the last three months, could finally be crimping producer profits.

Gog – “But traders said the planned gas cuts were nowhere near what would be needed to tighten an oversupplied gas market” . I would agree but not so much because of production cuts or a drop in rig count. As always the inability to market NG outside its pipeline distribution limits competition. Some years ago Rocky Mnt NG was selling for less than a third of what it was selling for in other regions. Simple reason: limited market due to a lack of p/l to other markets. Now that production isn’t stranded. Taking some NG off the market won’t reduce price contribution as long as supply is still greater than demand.

And the projection for the next few months indicates even great completion among producers. During summer months much NG is sent to storage for use the following winter. Currently some projections indicate NG storage could be at 100% by July. Current inventory is at all time highs for this time of the year. Thus the basis for $2/mcf or less by late summer. The reality is that many operators will cut production not due to low prices but because they lack buyers at any price.

And how much will operators really choke back production? We are but we don’t need cash flow to carry on ops. Most operators require a minimum cash flow to service debt and keep the lights on. And thus will sell their production at any price to meet those income requirements.

“… could finally be crimping producer profits.” Finally??? LOL. Back in ’08 NG hit above $12/mcf companies like Devon couldn’t drill SG wells fast enough. And then the price collapse came. By the end of the year Devon paid a $40 million penalty to cancel contracts on 14 rigs. Over the next year they sold $billions in assets, including Deep Water GOM and Brazil, to keep the company from disappearing completely. And that was at a time when oil prices had also retreated a fair bit. What we see today is just a continuation of a 4 year price slide. Been ups and downs but the trend is there to see. And the pubcos in their effort to keep Wall Street happy by choosing reserve growth over profits have aided in that collapse. By focusing on the more oil-rich SG plays they benefited somewhat. But regardless they still need a certain amount of production cash flow to stay on that drilling treadmill. It appears that equilibrium may be coming to an end.

IEA’s latest summary of key energy data available on iPhone and iPad

Free download includes information on the supply, transformation and consumption of all major energy sources.

The International Energy Agency’s latest annual publication of energy data – Key World Energy Statistics 2011 – can now be downloaded free of charge on iPhone and iPad. The annual summary, which was first produced in 1997, contains timely, clearly-presented data on everything from the annual Canadian production of coal to the electricity consumption in Thailand, the price of diesel oil in Spain and thousands of other useful energy facts.

Also available as a free 82 page pdf

Handy to have. Thanks.


Information on the Quantity, Quality, and Management of Water Produced during Oil and Gas Production from GAO ...

A significant amount of water is produced daily as a byproduct from drilling of oil and gas. A 2009 Argonne National Laboratory study estimated that 56 million barrels of water are produced onshore every day, but this study may underestimate the current total volume because it is based on limited, and in some cases, incomplete data generated by the states. In general, the volume of produced water generated by a given well varies widely according to three key factors: the hydrocarbon being produced, the geographic location of the well, and the method of production used.

According to federal estimates, more than 90 percent of produced water is managed by injecting it into wells that are designated to receive produced water. ... How produced water is ultimately managed and treated is primarily an economic decision, made within the bounds of federal and state regulations.

Several federal agencies, including EPA; the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Geological Survey; and a number of Department of Energy national laboratories, have undertaken research and development efforts related to produced water. These efforts have included sponsoring and issuing studies that describe the volume and quality of produced water, options for managing produced water and associated regulatory issues, as well as options for improving existing technologies for treating produced water and developing new technologies, such as more cost-effective filters.

Full Report: Information on the Quantity, Quality, and Management of Water Produced during Oil and Gas Production

Canada's north becomes a battlefield in Arctic video game

Arctic ice is receding and Canada and other Arctic nations are fighting for control of the last unexploited source of oil, gas and rare minerals in the world. The year is 2030 and the battle for the Arctic—and world domination—is in full force.

That's the premise of a new video game Naval War: Arctic Circle set to be released later this year.

Tesla Model X preview (photos)

see also KalimankuDenku's post here

Small modular reactor design could be a 'SUPERSTAR'

At the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, a team led by senior nuclear engineer James Sienicki has designed a new small reactor cooled by lead—the Sustainable Proliferation-resistance Enhanced Refined Secure Transportable Autonomous Reactor, or SUPERSTAR for short.

SUPERSTAR is an example of a so-called "fast reactor," a type fundamentally different from the light-water reactors common today. Light-water reactors use water both as a coolant and as a moderator to slow down neutrons created in the fuel as it fissions. Instead, fast reactors use materials that don't slow down neutrons—often a liquid metal, such as sodium or lead.

Although the SMR [Small Modular Reactor] concept has been around for decades, the idea has gained greater traction in recent years. Both President Obama and U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu have extolled the virtues of SMRs; Secretary Chu said their development could give American manufacturers a "key competitive edge."

As I recall some 35 years ago when I was working on fast reactors we used to talk about accidents in equivalent tons of TNT. But they were bigger reactors. Maybe this one can use equivalent sticks of dynamite.

The 'explosive'-ness of Fukushima is very little, and yet the economic damamge exceeds the market cap of TEPCO.

The Hanford site has had very small explosions and yet in under 4 minutes exposure to the below you'd be dead man walking.

Less than 60 feet from the ground water.

Advanced power-grid model finds low-cost, low-carbon future in West

The least expensive way for the Western U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to help prevent the worst consequences of global warming is to replace coal with renewable and other sources of energy that may include nuclear power, according to a new study by University of California, Berkeley, researchers.

“Decarbonization of the electric power sector is critical to achieving greenhouse gas reductions that are needed for a sustainable future,” said Daniel Kammen, Distinguished Professor of Energy in UC Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group. “To meet these carbon goals, coal has to go away from the region.”

Related High-resolution modeling of the western North American power system demonstrates low-cost and low-carbon futures

and updates and details on the SWITCH model.

Nice to see some detailed modeling. After some back of the envelope calculations, I concluded a couple years ago that the Western Interconnect had a fighting chance to move to renewable electricity sources, but would need to use its coal and gas as transition fuels. It is much harder to propose plans for doing the same in the Eastern Interconnect. 20-25 years down the road, I expect this to be the source of significant political hostility between the West and the East.

Well, as Greece stutter-steps towards oblivion, Hungary is shutting down as well.

Malev Zrt. (MALEV), the state-owned Hungarian airline founded in 1946, ceased flying after the government withdrew financing, becoming the second victim of European austerity measures in a week after the collapse of Spanair SA.


Bad news for Fred, I guess.


Hey Craig,

Bad news for Fred, I guess.

And why do you think I flew TAM airlines to Brazil?! >;^)

Actually what I saw in Brazil was another huge bubble about to burst... but don't tell anyone, OK?



Szia Fred:

Ajkaim lezárva.


Does TAM fly to Ferihegy? I think Ryanair is the best bet now.


Opinion: 50 years of safe fracking in Saskatchewan


The use of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" by the oil and gas industry has received media attention in recent weeks, particularly in relation to its application to shale gas production in the United States.

These stories have focused on production from shallower American formations and suggested that fracking may pose environmental concerns. With this increased public awareness in mind, it is worth reviewing the state of fracking in Saskatchewan, its 50-year history of safe use, and the robust regulatory regime in place to ensure responsible and sustainable development.

While use of this technology has increased, it has been applied safely in Saskatchewan for more than 50 years on roughly 33,500 oil and gas wells. It is the combined technologies of horizontal drilling and fracking that have unlocked the energy riches of the renowned Bakken in southeast Saskatchewan - a formation that otherwise would have gone largely undeveloped.

Bakken is now recognized as one of the largest remaining conventional oil pools in North America. Technologies such as fracking are important to the future growth and development of Saskatchewan's oil and gas sector, which currently accounts for about 20 per cent of provincial gross domestic product and provides jobs for more than 32,000 people.

The comprehensive regulatory system we have in place ensures that the practice helps us continue to realize significant economic benefits from our oil and gas industry while we maximize environmental protection.

Kent Campbell is Saskatchewan's deputy minister of Energy and Resources.

it is worth reviewing the state of fracking in Saskatchewan, its 50-year history of safe use, and the robust regulatory regime in place to ensure responsible and sustainable development.

It is indeed, and American states that have oil and gas reserves should also ensure they have their own "robust regulatory regime in place to ensure responsible and sustainable development".

"robust regulatory regime in place to ensure responsible and sustainable development".

Worry not! Upthread a respected TOD poster has pointed out how the US of A is a Nation under Rule of Law.

So I know that claims regulators inking over pencil tracings made by oil/gas staffers is nothing but a false lie meant to distract and divide Americans.

Report: Saudi Arabia to buy nukes if Iran tests A-bomb

Saudia Arabia would move quickly to acquire nuclear weapons if Iran successfully tests an atomic bomb, according to a report.

The paper suggested that Pakistan was the country most likely to supply Saudi Arabia with weapons, saying Western officials were convinced there was an understanding between the countries to do so if the security situation in the Persian Gulf gets worse. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have denied such an arrangement exists.

also Saudi Arabia threatens to go nuclear if Iran does

"There is no intention currently to pursue a unilateral military nuclear program but the dynamics will change immediately if the Iranians develop their own nuclear capability," a senior Saudi source said.

"Politically, it would be completely unacceptable to have Iran with a nuclear capability and not the kingdom."

In such an eventuality, Saudi Arabia would start work on a new ballistic missile platform, purchase nuclear warheads from overseas and aim to source uranium to develop weapons-grade material.

Officials in the West believe Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have an understanding in which Islamabad would supply the kingdom with warheads if security in the Gulf was threatened.

A Western official told The Times that Riyadh could have the nuclear warheads in a matter of weeks of approaching Islamabad. Other vendors were also likely to enter into a bidding war if Riyadh indicated that it was seeking nuclear warheads.

A very logical position to take as the present holders of said weapons claim that MAD works.

At least the KSA has the intestinal fortitude to stand up and say 'we are gonna have fission weapons'.

Saber rattling ...

Former Member of Russian Joint Chiefs of Staff Col.-Gen. Leonid Ivashov: Russia Is Ready to Use Military Power to Defend Iran and Syria

... "A strike against Syria or Iran is an indirect strike against Russia and its interests. Russia would lose important positions and allies in the Arab world. Therefore, by defending Syria, Russia is defending its own interests.

"In addition, Russia is thus defending the entire world from Fascism. Everybody should acknowledge that Fascism is making strides on our planet. What they did in Libya is nearly identical to what Hitler and his armies did against Poland and then Russia. Today, therefore, Russia is defending the entire world from Fascism."

Consider the source ... like the Fox News of the ME [only more so]

also Billions at stake as Russia backs Syria

... Russia has long been Syria's primarily military supplier and currently has about $4 billion worth of contracts for future arms deliveries to Damascus, according to a report from global analysis firm Oxford Analytica. Syria received 6% of total Russian arms exports in 2010, the report said, and is "critical for some [Russian] companies' financial survival."

With the loss of arms sales to Iran following U.N. sanctions and the cancellation of contracts in Libya after the Gadhafi regime's overthrow, the list of Russian arms customers in the region is dwindling. The lost business with Iran was worth $13 billion, according to Treisman, while the Libyan deals totaled $4.5 billion.

Beyond the arms trade, Russian companies have made a number of investments in Syria. These projects are worth roughly $20 billion and include some from Russia's powerful energy sector, such as a natural gas production facility and pipeline, according to Oxford Analytica.

Stephen Harper vows to ensure Northern Gateway pipeline is built

GUANGZHOU, China - Canada's prime minister on Friday made his strongest comments yet in support of a proposed pipeline from oil-rich Alberta to the Pacific coast, saying his government was committed to ensuring the controversial project went ahead.

Enbridge Inc's Northern Gateway pipeline, which is strongly opposed by green groups and some aboriginal bands, would allow Canada to send tankers of crude to China and reduce reliance on the U.S. market.

An independent energy regulator -- which could in theory reject the project -- last month started two years of hearings into the pipeline.

In remarks that appeared to cast some doubt on the regulator's eventual findings, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it had become "increasingly clear that it is in Canada's national interest to diversify our energy markets".

He continued: "To this end, our government is committed to ensuring that Canada has the infrastructure necessary to move our energy resources to those diversified markets."

Harper stepped up talk of oil sales to China in the wake of a U.S. decision last month to block TransCanada Corp's proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf Coast of the United States.

Virtually all of Canada's energy exports go to the United States, where a glut of supplies means some Canadian crude is sold at sometimes heavy discounts.

When the Prime Minister says that the pipeline is "in Canada's national interest", I get the feeling that the Big Hammer is going to come out soon. I'm referring to the Peace, Order and Good Government provisions of the Canadian constitution - the ones that were used to build the Canadian transcontinental railways.

U.S. oil demand to be sluggish for years: former ExxonMobil executive Lee Raymond

The United States may be living through 10 years of sluggish growth that does little to boost domestic oil demand in the short term, the former head of oil supermajor ExxonMobil told Reuters.

Lee Raymond, 73, is renowned in the industry as the chief executive and chairman of Exxon from 1993 to 2005, including after its merger with Mobil in 1999 to form the world’s largest listed oil company. The South Dakota native is today a director of bank JPMorgan Chase, among other positions.

“The downturn that started four years ago may have a run of 10 years or so. We may have the equivalent of a lost decade,” Raymond said in an interview on the sidelines of an energy conference.

“It means it will meander along at 1 to 2 per cent economic growth. That does not give anybody any type of confidence (to make investments).”

Raymond described how he expected U.S. oil demand to eventually recover to the record-high levels of 2007.

“Sure, it will. Three times in my career I have heard people say, ‘gasoline prices will never get this high again’, and every time it went higher,” Raymond said.

“We have to get to a point where we have a few years of 3.5 to 4 per cent (U.S. economic) growth, and then we will see demand really go up again. That is going to be a while, unfortunately.”

And when the economy does recover (assuming the unlikely event that it will), there will be new deliveries from the dormant Oil spigots of Iraq? Rather, demand will be stifled by lack of supply, I'm afraid.

What Value the Old and the Young when SHTF

Before SHTF nobody paid too much attention to his stories about terrible time during his fight in WWII, i mean we all respected him, but younger folks in my family even made jokes with him when he started with his stories, we were like ” oh s..t there he goes again how he ate leafes in the woods and fought Italians” or we always joked with him because he never wanted to watch war movies, his medals were shiny things, without some meaning for us.

His stories about hiding, hunger, killing were like fairy tales, jokes almost...

Thanks for running my "A new oil boom?" article. It is also posted at EB. http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2012-02-10/new-oil-boom Now that we're at peak coal too, given the Patzeck study, it seems like we're betting the farm on "shale gas." Matt Simmons told Jim Puplava that the EROEI for most shale gas deposits is negative. Not that that will stop us from doing it, of course, we're still pursuing corn ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, hydrogen, etc.

How can it be that current shale gas is EROEI negative at break-even of $30 per barrel equivalent? Drilling a well takes a couple of weeks, and completion is even shorter. I hear of goals of 31 days from dozer to flowing gas. The power to do those is large, but if you think in barrel equivalents, a few big diesels sip fuel compared to a the dozens of barrels the well makes, and it does that for many months.

Probably most of the rest of the energy consumed goes into casing and pipe, but even that isn't a huge number. 100 barrels of oil, or 1000mcf of gas, is a LOT of energy.

Over the long term, EROEI has to manifest as higher costs, and we see that for ethanol, even with cheap gas-fed fertilizer.

A Tale of Two Cities: Chicago Wholesale Gasoline at Record Discount to NYC Level

In a dramatic flip-flop to the wholesale gasoline market conditions that existed through last summer, Chicago wholesale gasoline prices at times today was selling for a huge 45 cents/gallon less than New York City prices. There are three main reasons for this widening difference: (1) the upper Midwest region within the last few months has seen some major refineries update their processing to handle lower grades of oil from the Canadian tar sands region and the US Bakken region (in northern mountain states) (2) the price of Canadian oil and especially Bakken oil has moved lower relative to WTI (West Texas Intermediate) this week (3) the Midwest has extra supplies of winter grade gasoline, that may not be allowed in some states during Spring time.

Seeking to take advantage of the pricing differential between Chicago and New York, the Buckeye pipeline system, which mostly operates in the Midwest with over 6,000 miles of pipeline, bought a water terminal in Perth Amboy, NJ today. Perth Amboy can be considered a sub-part of New York Harbor and is one allowable delivery point for the actively traded gasoline futures contract. In addition, Buckeye will build a bi-directional six-mile line to connect the Perth Amboy terminal to its existing terminal in Linden, New Jersey.

It is believed that Buckeye expects water borne shipments of gasoline to the NYC harbor region to substantially increase because of Northeast refinery closures and operating reductions.

Linden is the location of a major refinery and it is also the terminus of the Colonial Pipeline. The largest cross-country pipeline by volume, the Colonial Pipeline, stretches from the Texas-Louisiana region up to New Jersey, and has branches through many other southeast and some northeast states.

US Cash Products-Chicago gasoline eases sharp plunge
Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:49pm GMT

Early on Friday cycle 2 87-octaine conventional unleaded gasoline differentials fell 16 cents per gallon to 45.00 cents under the March RBOB futures contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange.


FEBRUARY 10, 2012, 4:34 P.M. ET
Pipeline Deficit Clogs American Oil Dream

Want to lay your hands on some oil at just $70 a barrel? Turns out you can. Question is what you will do with it once you own it. Such cheap oil also raises a worrying prospect: America's vaunted progress toward less reliance on energy imports may well get bogged down for want of a pipeline.

This cheap oil isn't the familiar West Texas Intermediate or Brent crude grades. They haven't been at $70 in almost two years. (WTI now hovers around $99 and Brent at $117.)

Instead, this oil is coming out of fields in the Bakken basin underlying North Dakota and Montana, as well as Canada. Much of it flows through pipelines that meet at Clearbrook, a Midwest oil hub like the bigger one at Cushing, Okla. In the past week or so, the price of oil delivered at Clearbrook has plummeted from about $95 a barrel to $70.


Buckeye says NJ terminal deal gives access to water

Buckeye Pipeline Map

Here is a map of the oil pipeline system from the Canadian perspective. Note that Canadian oil runs right past Chicago on its way to Ontario, but the pipelines don't reach as far East as New York. The places with the cheapest fuel prices are the ones that are first on the Canadian oil export pipelines.

Note also that some of the pipelines run in the wrong direction to take Canadian oil to refineries. Pipeline companies are applying to reverse these pipelines because international oil (Brent) at $117 is far more expensive than Canadian oil at $67. Those refineries that have access to Canadian oil are making a fortune and running at full capacity, those that don't are losing money and shutting down.

It is interesting to comp[are this map to the gasoline price map Gail linked to:

The prices are lower near the hubs.

Yes, and there's a rather noticeable correlation between the pipeline distance from the Canadian oil sands areas (Fort McMurray, Cold Lake) and the price of gasoline. If the pipelines don't reach an area at all, particularly if it has a high population (e.g. California, New York, New England, Florida) then the prices are sky-high.

Actually, California does import some Canadian crude via tanker (presumably coastwise from BC, from the pipeline to there). The biggest reason for CA gas prices is that CA charges sales tax on gasoline, in addition to the excise tax. You will notice that AZ, NV, and OR have lower prices than CA, even though most of their refined fuel supply comes from CA refineries.

Of course, a bigger pipeline to the West Coast or one to CA which didn't go to a tanker terminal would advantage CA refiners over Texas.