Drumbeat: February 22, 2012

Threat to economy could force IEA to release oil

(Reuters) - Political leaders in the United States and Europe could soon face an uncomfortable choice between raising the pressure on Iran further or taking steps to safeguard their economies from the damage wrought by rising oil prices.

Confrontation with Iran and a series of supply disruptions in South Sudan, Syria and Yemen have pushed prices back to levels that derailed the recovery in the United States and Europe last year, and could do again in the first half of 2012.

If prices continue rising, releasing oil from government-controlled stockpiles will look attractive to policymakers keen to maintain the embargo but anxious to avoid a stalling economy in a U.S. election year.

Crude Oil Falls From Nine-Month High on Signs of Slowdown in Europe, China

Oil fell from a nine-month high as signs of slowing demand in Europe and China countered concern that a conflict between Iran and Western nations may escalate and disrupt supplies from the Persian Gulf producer.

Futures slipped as much as 0.6 percent in New York after an index based on a survey of euro-region purchasing managers unexpectedly declined, signaling a contraction. Manufacturing in China, the world’s second-biggest oil consumer, may shrink for a fourth month. Oil rose earlier after United Nations inspectors in Iran said they were denied access to a suspected nuclear- related military base.

With gasoline consumption trending down, motorists wonder why price keeps rising

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As the average price of gasoline zips toward $4 a gallon in California and past $3.50 nationwide, increasingly frustrated motorists are asking questions.

Among the most vexing: If we're using less gas, how come prices keep going up?

Since January 2010, California Board of Equalization statistics show year-over-year gas use statewide generally declining by 0.1 percent to 4 percent each month. National gas use has also been down or flat.

Some U.S. refineries have even begun exporting their fuel abroad.

Yet the average price of a gallon of gas in Sacramento is $3.93, the highest ever for the month of February, when prices are typically lower than they are at their summer peak.

Higher oil likely to help Gulf petrochemical makers

Higher oil prices will boost Gulf producers' margins as their Asian counterparts, which base their production on crude-based naphtha, are forced to raise prices. This enables Gulf players also to sell their products at higher prices, so boosting their margins.

UK forward gas price hits 2012 high, prompt strong

London (Reuters) - British gas for summer delivery reached highs not seen since December 2011, supported by strong oil prices, while near-term contracts also made gains due to reduced supplies of stored gas.

The benchmark summer 2012 gas contract rose one pence to 58.70 pence per therm, its highest level since the first half of December.

GOP's latest anti-Obama weapon: Gas prices

In addition to paying more at the pump, motorists will be hearing a lot about higher gas prices in the political world.

The prospect of $4-a-gallon gas nationwide is giving Republicans a new issue to whack President Obama this election season.

The GOP’s disconnect on gas prices

Gas prices are driven by: 1.) geo-political forces, exaggerated by an active futures market. Day-to-day supply and demand are secondary to speculation about what might happen to supply given the latest in Iran, Venezuela or Mexico; 2.) a falling U.S. dollar; and 3.) the market’s conclusion that “peak oil” has arrived with the coming on line of India’s and China’s automobile ownership.

To further demonstrate the disconnect between traditional laws of supply and demand when it comes to gas prices, consumption in the United States is down and production is at a six-year high.

Fact-checking Newt Gingrich on gas prices

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich appeared on CBS This Morning today, where host Charlie Rose asked if he truly believes President Obama wants to see the price of gas increase, as Gingrich has repeatedly indicated.

"Of course, he does. Come on, Charlie," the former House speaker responded. "You know that. He has said it himself."

Gingrich is wrong on both gun racks in Chevy Volts and US energy policy

During a campaign sweep through Georgia last weekend, Newt Gingrich had some interesting things to say about the ability of a Chevy Volt to carry a gun rack, and his fantasy of returning to $2.50 a gallon gasoline.

One in four Americans has more debt than savings

Consumers are doing better when it comes to living within their means, said Greg McBride, Bankrate.com’s senior financial analyst. But, he added, years of stagnant wage growth, high unemployment, declining home values and escalating household expenses have strained wallets. “Even though there’s been progress things are still out of whack,” he said.

And the economic pictures may get even gloomier for consumers if gas prices continue to escalate, he pointed out. Last year, he said, “60 percent of Americans said they cut back on discretionary spending because of gasoline prices.”

Cabot Joins Williams to Move Marcellus Gas to New York

Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. (COG) and Williams Partners LP (WPZ) will join forces on a new pipeline to move at least 500 million cubic feet of natural gas a day from Pennsylvania to higher-priced markets in New York and New England.

How To Play Peak Cheap Oil: Looking For Yield And Growth In The Canadian Oil Sands

If you are like me and you were always skeptical of the peak oil theory, you are feeling pretty smug right now. New technologies and new oil discoveries are being made daily and politicians are once again musing about America becoming energy independent. You never even hear the phrase "peak oil" anymore unless it is from some jerk like me enjoying a self-satisfied pat on the back for being right.

However, I am becoming a believer in peak oil theory's little cousin: peak cheap oil. Or peak conventional oil, if you prefer. Whatever you call it, it is undeniable that the face of oil production is changing. Conventional oil deposits are shrinking, as are margins at the oil majors. Oil exploration is becoming more expensive and most new oil reserves are coming from deep horizontal wells, hydraulic fracturing and deep-sea drilling.

Kurt Cobb: How you can tell that the peak oil debate is (almost) over

Protestations in the mainstream media that we need not worry about a peak in the rate of world oil production anytime soon are suddenly coming fast and furious. As a result, I was reminded both of Shakespeare and Gandhi.

"The media doth protest too much," I thought (with apologies to Queen Gertrude in Hamlet). As for Gandhi, a quote commonly attributed to him may shed light on where we are in the peak oil debate: "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they attack you. Then you win."

Chevron Pumps Billions Into Kazakhstan For Barrels Of Sour Crude

Chevron Corp.’s Kazakhstan venture will seek to spend between $5 and $6 billion to sustain output in the country’s prolific Tengiz oil field.

The budgeted amount will be used to drill wells in the region over the next five years through the TengizChevroil LLP venture.

Oil producer Apache to spend $1bn in Egypt

Egypt's oil and gas sector is to benefit from US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) of investment as the nation tries to rebuild its economy after the revolution.

The US oil producer Apache has agreed to spend that sum developing Egyptian hydrocarbons over the next two years - as much as it has spent on exploration in Egypt in the previous decade.

Egypt: Time for a green constitution

Religion, class, faith, culture and gender will all play some part in shaping this new document – but will the environment gain fair representation?

Waleed Mansour is an Egyptian environmentalist – and below is his take on the key message he would like to see those legislators take forward.

In Egypt, hopes of a true revolution fade

A year after the revolution, many Egyptians — already suffering under the weight of a wretched economy — see an undemocratic society where the military and Islamic ideologues are hoarding power while changing nothing. Though some are pleased that a form of law shaped by the Quran is coming to Egypt, others wonder whether they have swapped one corrupt and suppressing dictatorship for another.

IAEA Departs Iran After Talks Yield No ‘Way Forward’

Officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency, sent to Iran to defuse tensions over the country’s nuclear program, were denied access to a military base and said the talks “couldn’t finalize a way forward.”

The IAEA inspectors were refused permission to visit the Parchin base during two days of meetings that ended yesterday. Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told state television that officials discussed grounds for cooperation and further talks will be held. He didn’t elaborate.

Iran ‘could lift France, UK oil ban’

Iran has said it may lift its ban on oil exports to France and the UK on the day UN nuclear weapons inspectors were reportedly blocked from visiting one military site.

Don't Expect Asia to Join the Iran Oil Embargo

China and Russia, of course, are obstructive and self-interested in all this, and other countries aspiring to new global roles prefer to hunker down than to choose sides.

But the real failure of US-EU diplomacy is in Asia. Taken together, Japan, South Korea, India and Taiwan account for about 38 percent of all Iranian export purchases. (Add China and the figure is 60 percent, but that’s a non-starter).

India BPCL plans shift from Iran to Saudi oil -sources

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's Bharat Petroleum has turned to Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, for higher supplies in 2012/13, fearing global sanctions may jeopardise trade with Iran, industry sources said on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia is the biggest oil supplier to India, the world's fourth-biggest oil consumer, and is the only oil producer with significant spare capacity to replace any fall in supply from its regional rival Iran.

Indonesia President: Need To Revise Growth, Oil Price Forecasts After Iran Sanctions

JAKARTA – Indonesia needs to revise its economic growth and oil price forecasts in the state budget due to the global economic slowdown and after some developed nations slapped sanctions on major oil producer Iran, the country's president said Wednesday.

Oil firms plan for Mideast turmoil

BEIJING - China's biggest oil companies are learning how to alleviate the risks resulting from the uncertain geopolitical scenarios in the Middle East and North Africa.

One of their latest moves is a plan to assemble equipment in Dubai in the United Arabic Emirates. The regional business hub will act as a halfway house on the road to the turbulent areas.

Congressman: Iraq War's end gives al-Qaeda opening in Syria

WASHINGTON – The withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq has hurt the United States' ability to blunt efforts by al-Qaeda militants to extend their reach into neighboring Syria, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said.

Afghan police fire at anti-U.S. rallies; 3 killed

KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan officials say at least three people have been killed after police opened fire to disperse thousands of anti-American demonstrators rioting for a second day over what the U.S. has said was the inadvertent burning of Muslim holy books at a NATO military base.

Gazprom Accuses Ukraine of Gas Siphoning

Ukraine illegally siphoned off up to 40 million cubic meters of Russian natural gas for Europe over several days this month, Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said on Wednesday.

Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko said this January that Ukraine was seeking to cut Russian gas imports to 27 billion cu m from 52 bcm. Gazprom reacted then by saying the current contract did not stipulate unilateral changes in gas purchase volumes.

Medvedev Orders Gazprom to Build South Stream with Maximum Capacity

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday instructed Gazprom to build the South Stream gas pipeline intended to carry natural gas to Europe with a maximum annual capacity of 63 billion cubic meters.

“What we witnessed at the beginning of the year (severe cold in Europe and Russia) is sufficient ground to instruct Gazprom to focus on the maximum pumping volume of gas through the South Stream gas pipeline construction,” Medvedev said at a meeting with Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller.

'Find of a lifetime' in Black Sea: OMV

An offshore Black Sea well jointly owned by ExxonMobil and OMV's Romanian arm Petrom has made a potentially significant discovery, according to the Austrian player.

...OMV said the exploration well encountered 70.7 metres of net gas pay, resulting in a preliminary estimate for the accumulation ranging from 1.5 trillion to 3 trillion cubic feet.

Exxon signs Nigeria oil renewals, dispute ends

ABUJA (Reuters) - U.S. energy giant Exxon Mobil signed 20-year oil licence renewals on Nigerian assets producing around 550,000 barrels per day on Wednesday, the company's country manager said, ending months of negotiations.

As wide-ranging energy reforms have been delayed by political wrangling, Nigeria has not renewed several drilling licences that expired as far back as 2008 with foreign oil companies, including Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron .

Nigeria losing 150 000 barrels of oil per day

Abuja - Oil companies in Nigeria are battling against a rising theft that is costing them an estimated 150 000 barrels of crude each day, an oil major official said on Tuesday.

Bonds proposed to recoup W.Va. utility fuel costs

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Seeking to avoid a one-year rate hike of 30 to 40 percent, Appalachian Power is asking the West Virginia Legislature to allow it to issue bonds instead to recoup energy costs.

The electric utility estimates its costs from steadily rising coal prices tops $350 million, spokeswoman Jeri Matheney said Wednesday. Lower demand attributed to the recession and fragile recovery also is a factor, she said. But the crunch is hitting the utility on the heels of four years of rate increases triggered by a spike in coal prices last decade, Matheney said.

Records Show Confusion in U.S. at Start of Japan’s Atomic Crisis

WASHINGTON — Something resembling a “fog of war” prevailed at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s headquarters in the first hours and days after the Fukushima accident began last March, the N.R.C.’s chairman said Tuesday, as the agency released a cache of transcripts of internal conference calls beginning hours after the earthquake.

Nuclear power entrepreneurs push thorium as a fuel

One year ago, a massive earthquake spawned a tsunami that nearly destroyed Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, further frightening people who had been wary of nuclear power since accidents at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986.

But a small group of scientists, entrepreneurs and advocates see the post-Fukushima era as the perfect opportunity to get the United States to consider a proposal they have made with no success for years. What about trying a new fuel, they say, and maybe a new kind of reactor?

Spain to extend life of its oldest nuclear plant

Spain will extend operations at its oldest nuclear power plant by five years, Industry Minister Jose Manuel Soria said Saturday as the country seeks to make the most of its energy sources.

The decision was immediately slammed as "irresponsible" by environmentalists.

China starts program to beef up nuclear safety, technology for assessing risks

SHANGHAI - China's National Energy Administration plans to beef up safety at nuclear power plants after months of assessments and inspections in the wake of Japan's Fukushima disaster.

The administration said in a statement on its website that 13 research and development projects involving the China National Nuclear Corp. and other state-run companies and research institutions should be completed by 2013.

Government to buy more biobased products

To buoy America's farmers and cut the nation's dependence on oil, President Obama is expected to issue rules today to expand the emerging market for biobased products that are just starting to appear on store shelves with a U.S.-approved label.

The Peak Oil Crisis: Technology Update

While waiting to see how the latest settlement of the EU's debt crisis or any of the ongoing Middle East confrontations turn out, it seems like a good time to review a few of the hundreds of announcements of new energy technology that have made in the last few months.

'Artificial leaf' eyed as holy grail in energy research

Turbo-charging photosynthesis -- by which plants and bacteria turn sunlight into food and energy -- in an "artificial leaf" could yield a vast commercial power source, scientists said.

Europe’s Top Solar Subsidy Lifts Ukraine as Growth Slows in West

Solar-power capacity in Ukraine is forecast to double this year, spurred by the completion of Europe’s biggest photovoltaic plant in December and incentives a third higher than anywhere else in the region.

Developers in the former Soviet republic may add panels with 300 megawatts of capacity after last year installing about 200 megawatts, according to the Association of Alternative Fuels and Energy Market Participants, the main lobby group tracking PV installations in the nation. It had just 2.5 megawatts in 2010.

Scotland Vies With England for $52 Billion Offshore-Wind Future

Scotland and England, haggling over the possible breakup of the U.K., are competing to create a hub for the country’s $52 billion offshore wind industry.

Vt. won't make renewable energy goals

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Two key state lawmakers said Tuesday that Vermont won't meet its goal of getting 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2017, and they're withdrawing their support for setting a new goal of 30 percent renewable power by 2025.

Two key battery car start-ups race to prove critics wrong

A new lawsuit targeting California car- and battery-maker Fisker Automotive is the latest potential setback for the once-promising company, one of several high-tech start-ups to receive millions of dollars in assistance under a Department of Energy loan program meant to promote the development of high-mileage technologies.

The legal wrangle with investor Daniel Wray underscores the problems Fisker is facing as it struggles to line up alternative funding if the DoE pulls the plug. The loan is critical to develop a second line of Fisker products aimed at the emerging market for battery-powered automobiles.

New Enzyme Could Cut Cost of Ethanol Made From Waste

It is one of the holy grails of clean energy production: finding a way to make ethanol from the cellulose in biowaste like corn husks and household trash. Although several pilot projects are up and running — with many more in the pipeline — commercial production has remained elusive, with the costs remaining much higher than for producing ethanol from corn, or gasoline.

But in what may come as welcome news to oil companies that are paying penalties for failing to use cellulosic ethanol — a biofuel that, commercially speaking, does not yet exist — a big producer of industrial enzymes has developed an enzyme that can help wring more ethanol out of cellulose at a lower cost.

The Quest for ‘Hydricity’

In the 1980s and ’90s, hydrogen fuel cell technology seemed like a strong candidate for use in cars and stationary applications, converting hydrogen to electricity with no emissions beyond a puff of antiseptic water vapor.

Geoffrey Ballard, founder of Ballard Power Systems, coined a term to describe the new system, “hydricity,” a fusion of hydrogen and electricity. Surplus electricity could be used to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, with the hydrogen stored for reconversion into electricity.

Twelve Principles for Sustainable Business

There is much talk of business needing to become more sustainable, in the face of an increasing number of challenges, such as climate change, peak oil, new legislation, repetitional risk, and increasing costs. That companies need to change is no longer the debate, but there is a need to understand (in easy terms) what businesses could be doing and how this action will deliver sustainable business success, as well as helping to save the planet.

The Way is Shut

When I first approached the topic of societal energy in 2004, I became aware for the first time that our energy future was not in the bag, and proceeded to explore alternative after alternative to judge the viability and potential pitfalls of various options. I have retraced my steps in Do the Math posts, exposing the scales at which different energy sources might contribute, and the practical complexities involved. My spooky campfire version of the story, a la Tolkien: The Way is Shut.

Texas agency likely to cut water to rice farms

LISSIE, Texas (AP) — Five generations of Ronald Gertson's family have tilled the claylike soil of southeast Texas to grow rice, confident that no matter how fickle Mother Nature was, there would be one constant: water to irrigate their crop.

Until now.

For the first time since Gertson's great-grandfather made his way from Denmark through Kansas to the flat, coastal area south of Houston, his family faces the likelihood officials won't release water from two Austin-area lakes into the rivers and canals they use for irrigation.

Our unrealistic attitudes about death, through a doctor’s eyes

For all its technological sophistication and hefty price tag, modern medicine may be doing more to complicate the end of life than to prolong or improve it. If a person living in 1900 managed to survive childhood and childbearing, she had a good chance of growing old. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person who made it to 65 in 1900 could expect to live an average of 12 more years; if she made it to 85, she could expect to go another four years. In 2007, a 65-year-old American could expect to live, on average, another 19 years; if he made it to 85, he could expect to go another six years.

Another factor in our denial of death has more to do with changing demographics than advances in medical science. Our nation’s mass exodus away from the land and an agricultural existence and toward a more urban lifestyle means that we’ve antiseptically left death and the natural world behind us. At the beginning of the Civil War, 80 percent of Americans lived in rural areas and 20 percent lived in urban ones. By 1920, with the Industrial Revolution in full swing, the ratio was around 50-50; as of 2010, 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas.

How monkeys handle moral outrage

The bottom line from de Waal's talk is that a sense of fairness, outrage over moral equality and the ability to reconcile and cooperate are not uniquely human behaviors. Rather, such sensibilities were hard-wired into brains long before the rise of the human species. This is reflected in neuroscience as well, de Waal said. "Very ancient parts of the brain are involved in moral decision making," he observed.

Science overturns view of humans as naturally 'nasty'

But he told reporters that research also shows animals bestow their empathy on animals they are familiar with in their "in-group" -- and that natural tendency is a challenge in a globalized human world.

"Morality" developed in humans in small communities, he said, adding: "It's a challenge... it's experimental for the human species to apply a system intended for (in-groups) to the whole world."

When a Country Cracks Down on Contraception: Grim Lessons from the Philippines

Over the past few decades, as most of the world has embraced family planning, the majority-Catholic nation has waged war on reproductive rights. There, abortion is strictly prohibited and crackdowns on contraception are common. Church officials promote what they call “natural” family planning: women are advised to track their cycle and abstain from sex on all but their least fertile days. They cast “artificial” contraception as an affront to God’s will, a gateway to abortion and a threat to public health. In their minds, condoms are “abortifacients” and family-planning campaigners are, as Archbishop Paciano Aniceto told me in 2008, “propagandists of a culture death.”

This type of thinking has led several jurisdictions to try to curb the use of modern contraception. For much of the past decade, for instance, the city of Manila kept birth control from city-funded clinics. The architects of the plan told me that it was designed to discourage promiscuity and, as much as possible, keep public funds away from private vice. The evidence suggests the bill did little to promote abstinence (what Aniceto called “self-mastery”) and did much to hurt women’s health. A report by the Center for Reproductive Rights documented a relative rise in maternal mortality, a slew of unwanted pregnancies and evidence of injury caused by clandestine abortions.

Raw milk causes most illnesses from dairy, study finds

Unpasteurized milk, touted as the ultimate health food by some, is 150 times more likely to cause food-borne illness outbreaks than pasteurized milk, and such outbreaks had a hospitalization rate 13 times higher than those involving pasteurized dairy products, a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds.

..."When you consider that no more than 1% of the milk consumed in the United States is raw, it's pretty startling to see that more of the outbreaks were caused by raw milk than pasteurized," says Barbara Mahon, senior author on the paper and deputy director of enteric diseases at CDC.

Demand presents risks to water supplies

"The bulk of the research in recent years has focused on climate change effects on coastal groundwater but increases in water demand could be more important," researcher Grant Ferguson said. "This is particularly true in growing coastal cities and towns where groundwater is often an important water supply."

Why should you care about Canada’s tar sands?

A lot of progress has indeed been made. This is due to high oil prices and lower production costs than in the mid-2000s. It is generally assumed that new oil sand operations require an oil price of $70 per barrel or more to be economically feasible. However, technological advances mean that some existing operations provide a return on investment with oil prices as low as $50 per barrel.

For the last three years, global oil prices have been well in excess of those margins. Brent crude, the global benchmark, stood above $100 per barrel for most of 2011 and is now above $120 following problems with Iran. It is unlikely that prices will drop dramatically in the near to mid-term future. Oil sand projects are likely to remain economically viable for some time to come.

All fossil fuels must be cut to avoid global warming, scientists say

OTTAWA — Two Canadian climate change scientists from the University of Victoria say the public reaction to their recently published commentary has missed their key message: that all forms of fossil fuels, including the oilsands and coal, must be regulated for the world to avoid dangerous global warming.

"Much of the way this has been reported is (through) a type of view that oilsands are good and coal is bad," said climate scientist Neil Swart, who co-authored the study with fellow climatologist Andrew Weaver. "From my perspective, that was not the point. . . . The point here is, we need a rapid transition to renewable (energy), and avoid committing to long-term fossil fuel use if we are to get within the limits (of reducing global warming to less than 2 C)."

Norway faces EU climate measure penalty

The EU will, through a new directive, punish the Norwegian oil industry for efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, says Statoil’s head of environment.

Gleick hurt by ethics lapse over climate papers

The latest national uproar over climate change science has damaged, if not ruined, the reputation of one of the Bay Area's most prominent scholars and raised serious questions about ethics during what has become a roiling political and ideological debate.

Peter Gleick, a MacArthur Foundation fellow and co-founder and president of Oakland's Pacific Institute, admitted Monday that he had posed as someone else and obtained confidential internal papers from the Heartland Institute, a libertarian group that has questioned the reality of human-caused global warming.

The Heartland Affair: A Climate Champion Cheats — and We All Lose

Late last year, Peter Gleick — the president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security; and a respected expert on water-and-climate issues — co-authored a paper on the American Geophysical Union's (AGU) task force on scientific ethics and integrity. Gleick and his co-author Randy Townsend of the AGU wrote that advancing scientific work to create a sustainable future would only be possible if scientists had the trust of the public and policymakers. And that trust, they added, "is earned by maintaining the highest standards of scientific integrity in all that we do."

Strong words, and true ones too, but Gleick himself has failed to live up to them — and his actions have hurt not just his own professional reputation but the cause of climate science as well.

EU faces multiple trade wars defending green policies

BRUSSELS - EU measures to cut CO2 emissions and improve the climate have sparked outrage in the global aviation industry and most recently in Canada, home to the world’s second largest fossil fuel reserves.

Russian heat wave 'had both manmade and natural causes'

(PhysOrg.com) -- The heat wave that struck western Russia in summer 2010, causing 55,000 deaths, was caused by a combination of manmade and natural factors. However, the frequency of occurrence of such heat waves has increased by a factor of three over recent decades, new research suggests.

Oil: In perpetuity no more

Industrial civilisation's entire economy is based on a finite resource we treat as infinite.

This is a great article and is published in AlJazerra, the leading newspaper in the Middle East. And it now quotes Tom Wipple. In fact this entire article is about Wipple's take on peak oil.

"Most outside observers believe that the 'official' reserves of OPEC members are way overstated," Whipple, who is also a Post Carbon Institute fellow, told Al Jazeera. "Remember the last increase was in response to the OPEC quota agreement which allowed members to sell oil in proportion to their reserves - the bigger your reserves, the bigger your quota."

"There have been many scandals over the years from people overstating reserves to make them look richer and more important than they are," added Whipple.

"The biggest fuss I can recall was in Kuwait about five years ago, when somebody leaked a secret government study that said Kuwait's reserves were less than half what they had been saying. After much fuss, the government made the whole issue even more secret and refused to answer further questions about the report."

Ron P.

I agree that the Al Jazeera article is significant, and I am a great fan of Tom's work (especially his insights in his his weekly Peak Oil Review at Energy Bulletin).
We should also recognize Al Jazeera's equal focus on the excellent research of Dave Hughes here in Canada. As the article points out, Hughes is a geoscientist who has studied energy resources "for nearly four decades." Dave is also a meticulous researcher.

Adding the observations of Mr. Birol makes for an article which is built around the concerns of three very well-informed analysts.
It is certainly worth reading.

Just one more note from my neurological haberdashery, as I don't think people are conscious or sufficiently in control of their impulses to voluntarily avert the misfortunes that await them, and I must take full control of the rudder in personal preparations to avoid such misfortune.

Generally speaking, humans are “aware”, moving through an environment of potential rewards and punishments, pleasures and pains, forming memories of experience as they go along. They can even be “attentive”, pay close attention, especially to things that interest them or in fulfilling a complex behavior to accomplish a goal that has been previously established in the subconscious. But it seems that consciousness comes in degrees associated with the depth of ones experiences and the fullness of one's inner world. You can be awake, aware, attentive and still not be very conscious.

Additionally, we entertain simplified perceptions of the human body as being an irreducible whole, rather than a complex system. We move through space and time remembering, making memories of pleasurable and painful stimuli. We try to repeat pleasurable experiences and avoid painful ones. Our anatomical and physiological complexities, including the influence of our subconscious minds are usually never considered. In a similar way we are not conscious of the complexities at a larger scale, the ecosystem. Even a conscious appraisal of the complexities may not be enough to overcome the natural greed and pleasure-seeking propensity of our subconscious minds.

Just as we can destroy the system which is our body by ignoring pain and a doctor's (systems analyst) recommendations to moderate our destructive pleasure-seeking behaviors, we can also destroy our civilizations and ecosystems by ignoring the advice of the systems doctors at the scale of ecology and economy.

Historically, at the organism level, seeking pleasure and avoiding pain has worked well in fostering survival. It's worked so well, you don't even have to think about it, and we don't. To stop and think before you grab a tasty and nutritious morsel means that someone else that isn't burdened with “thinking” but is conditioned with pleasure and pain, will grab it first. We don't think about what happens when you equip a nominally conscious, pleasure-seeking organism with a new stable of tools and an external energy source that essentially enables them to devour the natural world to sate that which cannot be sated, our desire for pleasure and avoidance of pain.

Nice points.

Now pile on top of that an entire, well funded industry devoted to manipulating those basic urges and tendencies so as to maximize our predilection for consumption of all sorts. And just to give you some idea of how much more advantaged that industry is over anything trying to promote 'thinking,' note that more money goes into advertising every year in the US than goes in to all of higher education.

In a nutshell, the cards are stacked against us in trying to mitigate our dilemma.

There is a fundamental disconnect between reality i.e. physics and mathematics and the majority of the population. Whether one is too busy, too lazy or lacks the education necessary to discern the details, the innate tendency is to choose the story that makes one feel best and avoids any cognitive dissonance.

This happens regardless of how straightforward and honest the journalist is. Of course, as you say, the special interests make any rational discussion of our predicament almost impossible.

For example, from Tom Whipple's article above; The Peak Oil Crisis: Technology Update, some Googling produced this:

Breakthrough in designing cheaper, more efficient catalysts for fuel cells

The article focuses on splitting water to obtain hydrogen and fuel cells have nothing to do with it, the hyperbolic title notwithstanding, except that fuel cells are one of many potential recipients.

The energy to split the molecule still has to come from somewhere and IIRC, electrolysis with Pt electrodes is ~80% efficient. A new catalyst could bump that to what, maybe 90%.

This "breakthrough" ignores the obstacles of cooling, compression, distribution and storage. IMHO, it's a nothing burger.

And yet we continue to be in love with Hydrogen because burning it produces beautiful clean pure water, and that's a good thing right?

Phew! Now I can go back to watching American Idol and stop worrying.

Brilliant! I have two kinds of friends. A. Oil will last forever, and we'll be lng and oil net exporter soon, some even believe we are now. B. There is a technological solution right around the corner that will provide FREE clean energy, and all we have to do to get there is sign petitions to the president to increase renewable funding and add facebook shares to articles touting said technologies. Both a & b detest each other, refuse to read in detail about energy, and refuse to change their behaviors. TOD is the only place I find reason and honesty on the topic. This site needs it's own cable channel. We could sneak in the message between explosions and naughty shower scenes. Maybe then people would listen and think?

Tom Murphy sums up his Do the Math series with The Way is Shut, linked above:

Talking with a friend, I cast our impending collision between finite resources and a growth trajectory as being akin to driving full-speed toward a cliff. If you pass a sign that says “Cliff Ahead: Road Ends,” why would you possibly decide to keep barreling ahead? His answer: “I’ve seen that sign 20 times already. Why should I believe it this time?” Yeah. Why should he? I’m totally sympathetic to this reaction. Had I not been stymied time after time by my own quantitative analyses and consideration of practical challenges, I might well have the same attitude.

But to me, the sign has achieved a credible status. Is it right? I can’t say for sure. But I judge that we should heed the warning and adjust our behaviors accordingly. Slow down. Make a turn toward sustainability, even if it’s rough at first. Do it while we can. Be conservative. Creep up cautiously toward the purported edge and see if there is any truth to it (maybe already traveling sideways on a sustainable tangent).

While I heeded the warning years ago and tried to make the turn towards sustainability, hoping perhaps to grab the proverbial soda and box of popcorn, to watch much of the world drive off the cliff from the cheap seats, it occurs to me that, chances are, sooner or later the cliff comes to you and you get driven over the edge by the herd.

I suppose this is the best reason for TOD and other efforts to increase awareness of the complex array of predicaments facing societies, and efforts to steer the herd away from the edge, if only to limit the carnage. It seems futile sometimes, as the collective seems unable to slow itself down these days. Perhaps some "John Wayne moment" will occur (you know, when he rides madly in front of the herd, firing his sixshooter to steer the whole lot into the safety of some conveniently located box canyon), but I suppose that only happens in the movies.

Wiley's Olduvai

I've been thinking about the cliff-edge analogy... I don't think it works for a number of reasons, which I won't go into in detail. Suffice maybe to say that a plunge off a cliff promises nothing but certain, quick and relatively painless death.... an extremely binary proposition that most "normal" people are unlikely to bother processing....

What about a slightly different analogy. We're all travelling in a series of automobiles of different age, make, etc. The flat, metalled road is definitely going to end shortly ahead, but, rather than a cliff, there's a never-ending rock-strewn hill of sufficient gradient to make stopping nigh-on impossible.

As we careen down that slope in our various vehicles, some will crash immediately, some will lose control and crash shortly thereafter. Others will be shaken and battered so badly that loss of control is inevitable. Some that do actually manage to stop will be hit violently from the sides and behind by the sheer mass of vehicles all plunging down the slope.

It matters not whether you drive a Prius or a Hummer, given that the hill is never-ending, your vehicle (and you inside it) are doomed one way or another - whether it be a quick violent death, or a relatively long, deeply uncomfortable ride followed by a lingering painful death in a wrecked car...

Question is only whether we're already on the never-ending downhill slope, or whether we have a chance to slow down to a speed where the slope is somewhat navigable before we get there....

Of course, all analogies do break down at some point, but yours does have several advantages.

It suggests that there are two strategies for survival:

1)Get in the biggest hummer (or even bigger vehicle) so you can ride out however rough a slope you are heading for--this seems to be the strategy of at least some of the global rich.

2) Get in the slowest but most reliable vehicle you can and do what you can to slow it further as you go, so you don't go too far down and you don't get rammed from behind too much. This is pretty much the only strategy left to the rest of us.

The downside of your analogy is that in fact the number and size of 'vehicles' on the 'slope' actually effects the steepness of said slope--The more people aiming for the hummer solution (both literally and figuratively, in this case), the harder it will be for everyone else to survive.

3. Get out of the vehicle, find a nice spot on the slope and make a home there.

Jump out of your car as it bursts into flames, dash madly through the oncoming flow of other crashing/piling up/speeding/out of control cars. Make sure you are carrying a bottle of water. Run. Keep running. Don't stop. And don't worry too much: as you dart through the burning wreckage, reflect on the possibility of reincarnation, which will allow you to revisit the earth in another form later after all the wrecked cars have come to a stand still and daisies are growing on what used to be the smoking rubble.

This is my plan.....Do you like it??

This is my plan.....Do you like it??

Yes, I like it and that's my view too. Figuring to come back to a much slower paced, less populated, less complex, better diet, minimal tech, get in touch with nature type future society, in which the emphasis is on close personal relationships and a symbiosis with our environment.

Ah, yes, the wholly imaginary Arcadia where and when life was "simple" enough to give the lazy their just due, while the nymphs and satyrs gamboled in the woods... Oops: but in the real world, life expectancy was on the order of 30 years; and food was so "localized" that they starved whenever the weather was bad; and in the tropics they were riddled with horrible parasites and diseases; and outside the tropics they lived in mortal fear of winter, when, as the poets observed, the spirit of Death ran amok and mowed people down indiscriminately.

You can have a society where almost everyone lives until 70 or 80 and it is a difficult place for young people. It's got pollution and nuclear waste up the wazoo. Young people can't afford to have kids. Children can't play outside because it's too dangerous and there are no natural places to go to. People are depressed and saddled with debt. Uneducated or unsmart people don't even get married because no one will marry them. This is the society I live in now.

Or we can all live simply and die at 50 or so. Then young people can get a chance for happiness again. Even uneducated people can have kids. Young strong people can use their bodies and work hard into their late 30s and early 40s. If they are strong they might even live until 70 or 80 or more. But many weaklings will die at 50 or so. And then they won't burden the world with their needs. I myself am approaching 50. It's not as much fun as 30 or 20. I'm not advocating suicide. I enjoy life. But I have older friends whose parents are in their 90s in nursing homes, barely conscious for years. I certainly don't think that's a good thing for society to do---spend lots of money keeping the elderly alive in bed while the cars and machines rule the planet for the comfort of the older people and elderly....and children can't play outside, young people can't have kids, run around, enjoy nature. I myself am not looking forward to being 90 and in a nursing home. Wouldn't it better to let a cold winter carry me off when I'm in my late 50s if I'm just too weak to survive without a lot of drugs?

After all, I do believe in reincarnation, so there'll be another chance to come back and feel the warmth of the sun again.

pi, I've read many of your posts in the past and in general I agree with most of how you view the world!

Not this time. To be clear, let me start with a caveat. I certainly don't subscribe to the notion of prolonging life at any cost especially if the quality of that life is seriously compromised.

Having said that, I personally know many people well into their 80s some into their 90's who are healthy and productive individuals. I was just in Brazil for my mother's 80th birthday, you should see her climbing waterfalls or driving her tiny little car in Sao Paulo... I have a 96 year old neighbor who walks 2 miles to the beach every morning and has half a dozen girl friends. He loves taking them flowers and chocolates.

You say you are in your 50s and it's not as much fun as 30 or 20? I'm almost 59 and I scuba dive from a kayak out on the coral reefs. I'm even staring a new job in a week. I'm having a lot more fun than when I was 30 and this despite living in the US which is a very sick society already in the throes of catabolic collapse.

Much of what you describe regarding opportunities for young people has nothing to do with others living long healthy and productive lives. Both the elderly and the young have a place in a healthy society and they can help and learn from each other.

What you describe is a direct result of many factors and most importantly the simple fact that we are in ecological overshoot and our planet can not support 7 billion humans regardless of their age! We need to bring the human population down to at least around 2 billion in the next few generations if young and older people are to live healthy productive lives on this planet.

In closing, I do support assisted suicide and would chose it myself as opposed to living in a nursing home at the expense of using resources from my family and children if my quality of life were so diminished that I could no longer provide anything of value to anyone or perhaps at least pass my accumulated wisdom to those younger than myself.

I hope that you have a long, happy and productive life and can share it with people you love and who love you in return!

Be well!


Myself, I do not believe in reincarnation! I believe that this life is all I have, so I try to give it my all every day.

Life expectancy was 30 years because of high infant mortality. If you survived childhood, you had a good chance of living to the Biblical threescore and ten.

Agricultural life was difficult, but less complex societies - basically, those where it's not possible to hoard wealth - likely provided a life better than ours. No iPads, sure, but no working all day, either. Three hours a day of work to provide all needs, and things like parasites and other diseases were less of a problem because the population density was so low.

I have serious doubts about whether it's possible to transition back to that lifestyle, at least in the lifetime of anyone now alive, but it wasn't terrible.

Question is only whether we're already on the never-ending downhill slope, or whether we have a chance to slow down to a speed where the slope is somewhat navigable before we get there....

I would say the jury's in on that decision. Seems like society and politicians have gone 'all in', with a 'push the pedal to the metal' mentality of perpetuating BAU until we all crash down that steep slope in close succession. Should be quite a chaotic game of musical chairs when shtf.

PE - To carry the analogy one step further. Your older brother convinces you that riding down that steep hill in your wagon would be great. So you climb in the front with him behind you. After all he told you everything you needed to hear in order to trust him with your life. Of course he knows the ride will likely end badly. But he knows that he'll bail before the wagon gets too close to the edge. And there you are...all alone to face the music.

And that's how I see our current crop of politicians regardless of party. The smart ones who can see the future know they'll probably be out of office before TSHTF. And if they are still in office they can ride another cycle or two blaming "them". And they'll likley be in a financial position to weather PO just fine. And the really clever ones will position themselves to actually take advantage of the circumstances.

So there's your brother Newt...got the wagon all ready for you. Ready to ride? And as you go screaming down that hill keep thinking: "$2.50 gas...$2.50 gas...$2.50 gas...<<>>

And that's how I see our current crop of politicians regardless of party. The smart ones who can see the future know they'll probably be out of office before TSHTF.

Absolutely agree with the brother analogy and the above, Rockman. Seems like a frenzy out there as people with the opportunity or opportunities they conjure up (wall street gambling), find whatever green they can grab in a desperate effort to beat the buzzer before shtf, forgoing any and all moral and ethical ideals in the process. I guess the game of surviving the collapse has already begun in anticipation of that slow or fast event. I suppose its easy for some, like the politicians to justify their actions as self preservation.

well that is what i am trying to do...survive....and allow my family to survive...isn't that why we come here? What do you expect..that is how how are genes have been able to go on for 1000 of years...I am not trying to take advantage of other people but I am going to keep my powder dry and move up each chance I get...that is why I try to stay informed...maybe you are just talking politics here...but I think it is too late for that...as the pieces start to fall there won't be time for easy political correction...watch out for the Hitler factor!

I've greatly enjoyed Tom's postings. However, there's another step that needs to be taken, and that's what happens when regional differences are considered. Scandinavia, for example, has robust hydro and wind resources relative to the size of its population. Bangladesh, OTOH, is probably in deep doo-doo. In the US, the renewable resources (and for that matter, fossil resources) in the Western Interconnection are much larger relative to the population and power demand than are the resources of the Eastern Interconnection.

If a consequence of Peak Oil is regionalization, not all regions are going to be equally endowed. If globalization is going to decrease sharply for other goods and services, it seems likely to decrease sharply for transport of energy supplies as well. The BosWash urban corridor -- my favorite whipping boy -- would seem to be rather badly positioned for a developed area. Large amounts of their electricity comes from an aging nuclear fleet, Canadian hydro brought long distances, natural gas brought long distances, and even western US coal (although the last is a more indirect effect).

What an interesting combination of back-to-back headlines on TOD today:

"Threat to economy could force IEA to release oil"
"Oil Shocks Around the World: Are They Really That Bad?"

From the Link: "Crude Oil Falls From Nine-Month High on Signs of Slowdown in Europe, China"

These types of articles ar so tiresome and pathetically silly. It is a case of reporting on the noise and ignoring the signal.

Once you read down into the article you see that the price on Brent futures dropped 1 cent!! And this is worth an article?

Good grief.

Amen. I'm also seeing a lot of reporting that mixes up WTI and Brent pricing. They will for example quote Brent as the 'European Benchmark Price' but the reported price level could only be the WTI. They are not only reporting on the noise, but creating noise on their own!

Maybe they hope some passing sheep will catch the headline that the price is falling and instead of buying a new bicycle to commute to work on, they'll throw another $10,000 into the stock market.

I swear some of those articles they just change the date.

Actually, rising oil prices is a good sign...


...so falling oil prices must be bad :-/

What work....this contraction will mean less jobs at first there will be an elimination of a lot of jobs..will we need big box stores...certain government jobs etc...I can see why a lot of people want to stick there heads in the sand and get another beer and lose themselves in sports...

I think that we need to differentiate between long term and short term factors that affect crude oil prices. In my opinion, average annual oil prices give us the best indication of fundamental long term supply and demand factors. And of course, Brent is a far better indicator of global prices than WTI.

The annual Brent spot crude oil price (EIA) doubled from $55 in 2005 to $111 in 2011. This is an average rate of increase of 12%/year, or the average six year rate of increase in annual global crude oil prices has been about 1% per month for six years. Of course, actual prices have been above and below the trend line, but this is the six year annual trend.

As I have, on occasion, noted, I think that the primary factor affecting global crude oil prices is the post-2005 decline in Global Net Exports of oil (GNE), with the Chindia region consuming an increasing share of a declining volume of GNE.

"The annual Brent spot crude oil price (EIA) doubled from $55 in 2005 to $111 in 2011."

Good point, worth repeating. (And that in spite of a global recession of a scope and depth unseen in decades.)

And isn't this doubling after a (more than?) doubling over the previous 6 years?

I usually break it down into two doublings, $25 in 2002 to $55 in 2005 and then $55 in 2005 to $111 in 2011. Here are the annual Brent data:


I have previously noted the doubling pattern in successive year over year annual WTI price declines, and we see a somewhat similar pattern regarding Brent.

Brent declined to $15 in 1998, it declined to $25 in 2001/2002 and it declined to $62 in 2009. So, if the next year over year decline fits the pattern we would expect to see annual Brent prices fall to between $103 and $154, or an average expectation of about $129.

I'm thinking that the 12% annual oil price increase may accelerate:
1. Chindia is growing fast, at a compound rate.
2. The top 100 wells are aging and hence their decline rate is increasing.
3. We may already be at or near peak oil - hence we may be close to declining oil (including liquids) production.

Nope, t doesn't work like that as price gets pinched. In a nutshell the world can only afford to pay so much for oil before it "corrects"

The correction should be less than many would anticipate, as (hopefully) market participants can preferentially eliminate the more wasteful or less efficient uses first. At a given production level, and technological level, there ought to exist an equlibrium price (and GDP). As we get smarter about usage, hopefully that equilibrium point should shift in a beneficial direction.

When the price of oil goes up, so do the share of all that we spend wich goes to oil. So when the price reach a certain (spelling?) level, we will pay all of our money for oil. At that point, there is no use, and spending on oil will end. Simple mathematics. Therefore, there are a hard limit for price wich it can never pass. Adjusted for inflation, off course.

Even if you are super rich, you can't afford it, since the value of the oil you purchased is less than what you payed.

I think your analysis is faulty (your spelling was correct). Oil cannot of course end up costing net 100% of GDP. What will happen (on different timescales) is an ajustment of the economy to much higher oil prices. Some things with high oil inputs in the supply chain will go up a lot, some things with little or no exposure won't go up so much. And people will start using less of the first category. Also the economy will become more oil efficient as people gain experience in conserving it. Some of the changes may take quite a while to pas through in terms of more oil efficient products: product conception, R&D, build prototypes, build production, begin replacing the old inefficient stuff... There was an economy before oil, there will be one afterwards.

Yes, different issues are differentially sensetive to high oil prices. People will pay more forfood than for a trip to Disneyworld. So it is not that everything will go on, and then suddenly stop. But I argue that for every item there is a hard price limit where there is no point in buying.

Example: If you pay so much for food that you need to spend more energy making the money than you will get eating it, resting is better. Now,if you have a pile of money, you will spend it till it is gone, but the question is if there are any producers left?

When the price to lift a barrel of oil (out of the ground) is to high to even warrant food purchases, no more oil will be lifted.

In my country oil has a very high marginal value, and even poor people are willing to people high prices for it because their livelihoods depend on it. I think we are already paying close to $7/gallon for gas, demand for vehicles has moderated a bit but growth is still there.

We pay that for gasoline in Europe to. It is called "taxes". Thats why we have smaller cars. And go more by train/busses.

Thats why we have smaller cars.

Not so much SUV's, but still a lot of gas guzzler Audi's, BMW's, Mercedes, Renaults, etc. in the rich European countries.

And go more by train/busses.

Doesn't seem so if you look at the amount and lenght of traffic jams.
To get only 10% of the people that go by car in the train you need to double the amount of trains or make them twice as long. That's what I read about Holland. Otherwise you get India-like scenes.

Not so much SUV's, but still a lot of gas guzzler Audi's, BMW's, Mercedes, Renaults, etc. in the rich European countries.

Sure, but even those are still more fuel efficient than the large pickups - new and old - that you'll see driving around in the poor parts of the US

but even those are still more fuel efficient than the large pickups.

Yes Paul, but not enough. If it doesn't go to 50-100 MPG, then growth of EC cars soon hits a wall. The new generation hybrids are not very far from reaching 50 MPG.

Yeah. Our trains are pretty much jammed. Running at max capacity. Only space for little more expansion, without infrastructure upgrades.

Crazy as it sounds, we have politicians enrolled in a program to build a new road system on the SW side of Stockholm. Not intended to rerout trafic, and thus get rid of the jam when all cars try to go through Stockholm but having nobuissiness there, no, they want to conect more areas for car bound comuting. Yes, expand car usage! The same politicians vow to reduce CO2 emissions to. The right hand don't know what the left one does.

The right hand don't know what the left one does.

That usually requires engagement of the brain.


In the current political climate, the right hand doesn't know what the ultra-right hand is doing.

Sweden was ahead of the curve in touting non-fossil fuel cars.
See where it got them:


Published on Friday, June 10, 2011 by CommonDreams.org
The Green Revolution Backfires: Sweden’s Lesson for Real Sustainability
by Firmin DeBrabander

What if electric cars made pollution worse, not better? What if they increased greenhouse gas emissions instead of decreasing them? Preposterous you say? Well, consider what’s happened in Sweden.

Through generous subsidies, Sweden aggressively pushed its citizens to trade in their cars for energy efficient replacements (hybrids, clean diesel vehicles, cars that run on ethanol). Sweden has been so successful in this initiative that it leads the world in per capita sales of ‘green cars.’ To everyone’s surprise, however, greenhouse gas emissions from Sweden’s transportation sector are up.

This is keeping with the data in "Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight without Oil" and the following table of Greenhouse Emissions:

"Transport Revolutions" includes this amazing table of changes in Greenhouse Gas Emissions compiled from UN data:
Changes in GHG emissions 1990-2004:

All sources including LULUCF All sources except LULUCF Transport only
Canada 62% 27% 30%
EU15 -3% -1% 26%
Japan 5% 7% 20%
US 21% 16% 28%

LULUCF means "Land Use, Land Use Changes and Forests"

It is CARS and TRUCKS which are the major source of increased Greenhouse Gases!

From these two tables


(PDF) http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-DA-07-001/EN/KS-DA-...

All rail passenger miles in the US account for just over 1/2 %-And for Europeans 7%
For busses US under 3% - and Europe over 8%
Cars and motorbikes predominate in both areas US 82% -and Europe 76%

but as noted efficiency isn't included which would favor europe both in cars and 2 wheel powered vehicles, more flying in the US, and then there are those pickups that are hauling...basically people (add 4% to the 82%).
All in all Europe 17% non air and car %miles and for the US barely 3 1/2%
(measured in percent of passenger miles traveled)
Seems sure in Europe there exist better alternatives to automobile travel even if it isn't utilized as much as some would like.

Think what surprized me the most was looking at the percentages for road vs. rail and pipeline freight in the two areas which shows Europe using the roads 44% and US (truck) 28% My WAG; big long heavy trains of coal, wood, fertilizer, petroleum, ship containers, cars (over longer runs) make averages look better.

Which is why even though Europe is ahead of the US on moving towards Green Transit, it still has a far ways to go. There has to be a turnaround where the MAJORITY of transportation is Green Transit rather than cars and trucks.
That accounts for this table from "Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight without Oil" ( http://transportrevolutions.info ) which shows Transportation (ie
cars and trucks) was the primary reason the EU15 did not meet their Kyoto targets:

"Transport Revolutions" includes this amazing table of changes in Greenhouse Gas Emissions compiled from UN data:
Changes in GHG emissions 1990-2004:

All sources including LULUCF All sources except LULUCF Transport only
Canada 62% 27% 30%
EU15 -3% -1% 26%
Japan 5% 7% 20%
US 21% 16% 28%

LULUCF means "Land Use, Land Use Changes and Forests"

It is CARS and TRUCKS which are the major source of increased Greenhouse Gases!

In the short run recessions can greatly impact the price of oil as we've seen before. At what oil price will recession set in? A matter for debate - in my thinking somewhere around $130 to $150/barrel (nymex). Hence it is dangerous to speculate on the price of oil.

Long run (+ 10 yrs?) the highest price for oil may be determined by the price of converting other fuels (natural gas, coal, biomass) into a liquid fuel suitable for transportation and other uses. In my thinking $200 a barrel should be sufficient. Eventually ng and coal will also reach peak production, but that's a subsequent chapter.

A supply disruption such as declining oil production ( or war) will require a massive response to prevent a dire situation. Too little, too late is what I'm expecting. As many posters have said, our governments prefer to be in denial. The wake up call may be when oil production goes definitely on the decline.

Regarding the kerfuffle over the Heartland/Gleick affair, ClimateProgress has some interesting perspectives:


Responding to NYT's reporter Andrew Revkin's attacks on Gleick, Joe Romm writes:

"Revkin has ZERO credibility in making these attacks. Zero.

First off, if one act of this nature could ruin a reputation or destroy his credibility, then what precisely is Revkin doing routinely quoting and citing people who have been repeatedly debunked, the disinformers and confusionists.

Seriously, Revkin — and the NY Times itself — quote all manner of people who simply should have no credibility whatsoever on a regular basis (see “Revkin’s DotEarth hypes disinformation posted on an anti-science website” and “In yet another front-page journalistic lapse, the NY Times once again equates non-scientists — Bastardi, Coleman, and Watts (!) — with climate scientists“).

Revkin smeared Al Gore — equating his science-based talks with George Will’s long-debunked falsehoods — based on the false claims of one of the most debunked people in the blogosphere (see “Yes, the false accusation that Gore was exaggerating came from none other than Roger Pielke, Jr.: And yes, I just re-confirmed with Gore’s office that Pielke is as wrong today in his false claims as he was 2 years ago”).

But Revkin has never retracted his attack or apologized. And he keeps quoting Pielke (as does the NY Times), even though Pielke’s statements on climate scientists inspire objections from scientists like Ken Caldeira (see here). Heck, now Pielke brags about the ability to team up with the hard-core anti-science websites and drive traffic to his site. Revkin’s defense is that Pielke has published articles in the peer-reviewed literature. Gosh, Gleick has published many more articles. So I guess his reputation remains intact for the New York Times.

Revkin himself has made countless mistakes that he has never formally retracted or apologized for [see, for instance, "NYT's Revkin pushes global cooling myth (again!) and repeats outright misinformation"].

The closest he ever came was his 2009 stunner on NPR: “I’ve made missteps. I’ve made probably more mistakes this year in my print stories than I had before. That’s kind of frustrating.” Yes, the top reporter in the country made missteps and mistakes on the story of the century, but all he can offer up is “That’s kind of frustrating.”

Why haven’t that series of missteps and mistakes destroyed his credibility and ruined his reputation?

Again, Revkin has zero credibility in his statements about Gleick and he should retract them.

Revkin writes, “I won’t speculate on how the legal aspects of this story might play out.” Gosh, he’s happy to say there’s no crime in Climategate until the police weigh in.

He writes, Gleick’s “admitted acts of deception in acquiring the cache of authentic Heartland documents surely will sustain suspicion that he created the summary, which Heartland’s leadership insists is fake.” Why? Does Revkin have any evidence to back up this “suspicion.” Is he no longer a journalist but just a guy who passes on suspicions from the blogosphere and from an organization known for “spreading misinformation” and “personally attacking climate scientists to further its goals”?"

Also relevant:


The linked article concludes:

That's not how politics works, to say the least — which is one reason climate advocates have always faced such an uphill battle. It's not a fair fight, but we have to believe that over time, the truth will win out...


Firstly, politics doesn't 'work' at all these days. It's just a bunch of monkeys chasing weasles chasing monkeys... and he really goes out on a limb with "...over time, the truth will win out." Yeah, the truth will win out alright, it just won't be much of a victory.

Perhaps a Pyrrhic victory?


I'm not sure we can even hope for that any more.

Heartland likely knows who was involved in the Climategate hacking, and can't be surprised that a similar stunt would be pulled against them.

But I'm surprised and a little disappointed in how Gleick played this. The information he got wasn't really all that damning. He would have been better off keeping it as background and digging further, if he was inclined to snoop around.

It may be that his hack was so transparent and clumsy that he was going to be outed as the snoop in any event so he had to own it.

Folks like Revkin who think Gleick's reputation will be irreparably harmed are living in a bubble. This too shall pass. Not much different than Climategate, where so many predicted that it would 'blow the lid off the hoax.' Climate skeptics must have been deeply disappointed.

Now all the ink is being spilled on Gleick, rather than the fact that Heartland Insitute deliberately paid for and spread misinformation. Sigh...

And so now we won't be able to fix the climate?

The whole episode is disheartening. I always liked Gleick's presentations on water, never read that much from him on climate. It is a shame he let his guard down and did this.

And I couldn't care less about "political" tanks like Heartland.

But today, after hearing about all of this I read the document that Heartland claims is fake. And I hate to tell you but it really does sound fake. I am sure Gleick didn't do it but someone must have written this to make Heartland look bad. I just can not believe that an organization like Heartland would circulate a secret document (no one on the address list) that talks about developing a curriculum for science teachers that that "shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain–two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science."

The whole thing doesn't pass the smell test. Hope I am right that Gleick did not write it but was just fooled by it.

I just can not believe that an organization like Heartland would circulate a secret document (no one on the address list) that talks about developing a curriculum for science teachers that that "shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain–two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science."

I don't think it's necessarily faked -- it's straight out of the creationism/intelligent design playbook.

"an organization like Heartland"

An organization like Heartland??

Have you followed what kinds of nonsense these guys put out?

I don't know what will be found, but Heartland is in the forefront of spewing the idiocies into the public forum that distract the entire discussion from the real issues.

Amongst other things, they are at the forefront of a push to privatise Great Lakes water in order to sell it to Asia.

The economics of bulk water transport by tanker simply don't make sense, especially over the tremendous distance you would have from the Great Lakes to China. There has been plenty of talk about supplying dry parts of the world such as the Middle East with water by tanker but I am unaware of any country that is actually doing that. Conservation or desalination is cheaper than trying to move water by tanker.

The only way to effectively move large amounts of water is through water diversion. The NAWAPA project conceived back in the 50's would have moved water from as far away as Alaska through Canada to the Southern US. The amount of water that could be moved this way would be vastly greater than you could ever move with tankers. However, economics gets in the way again as such a scheme would only be doable if it was heavily subsidized. Farmers and other consumers of the water could not afford to pay for the actual costs of building and operating such a system.

Methinks spring_tides was pulling someone's leg ;-)

I wish I was...

" Water rights advocate Terry Anderson, director of the Property and Environment Research
Center in Bozeman, Mont., says it's a mistake to lock up Great Lakes water inside the
He says water rights should be allocated and traded in the marketplace, even if that means
shipping water to Asia at the right price. "It's no different than shipping out cars or iron ore,"
he says. "

From the Heartland Institute policy document linked below (PDF Warning)


Edit: granted, a policy document doesn't do much about the economics of actually shipping water to Asia, but, after all, it's the principle at work.

What an awful to read document - about 50% footnotes!

In there though, is this paragraph;

In the spring of 1998, the Nova Group based in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario proposed annual shipments by tanker of 160 million gallons of Lake Superior water to Asia. Although Ontario initially approved the proposal, the province quickly reversed course after a public outcry against it. More importantly, the proposal prompted renewed efforts by the Great Lakes states and provinces to revisit the Great Lakes Charter. The 2001 Annex, and the proposed compact that followed, are a direct result of those efforts.

Amazing that any company really thought it would be worthwhile to do this, even if they were going to be allowed to do so..

According to this calculator it would take about 0.4 tons of fuel to move a 20ft container from Chicago to Shanghai.

That container has volume of 38.5cu.m - call it 40 - so it takes 10L of fuel to transport one cubic metre (=one ton) of water.

$10/cu.m is is about $3.7c/gal, or about $28 per 100 cubic feet (common US water utility measure) - about 10x what the rate is for many US cities.

That's just the fuel cost, let alone the ship, the backhaul, and a profit margin, so what where these people thinking?

The PTB want to sell water... they tried it in South America under the auspices of the IMF. Also, see:


Who owns the rain?

Best hopes surviving at home!


"Who owns the rain?"

Actually, there are places here in the USA where it is illegal to collect rainwater from the roof. A corporation owns the rights to the river water and the courts ruled that the runoff rainwater forms the river and so belongs to the corporation.

I find it interesting that the first move in paving the legal way for gas fracking was gaining immunity from the clean water act.

In China, some rivers run in primary colors.

Yes, they would like to sell water in these captive markets.

Today you unfortunatley do not need to be Jesus to walk on water in some places. And I have heard the Indus has burnt twice. Dunno if it's true, but seems likely.

Well, at least it should lead to great art! Really, I'm serious. Those photos of denuded Haitian and Madagasgar landscapes, as long as you aren't thinking about the destruction, were very colorful, and in an abstract way beautiful. Magnificent desolation!

Actually, there are places here in the USA where it is illegal to collect rainwater from the roof. A corporation owns the rights to the river water and the courts ruled that the runoff rainwater forms the river and so belongs to the corporation.

Wait . . . what? Really? That has to be in a HOA contract or something. If someone buys land, the water that falls on it is theirs if they decide to keep it.

No, it's actually very old:

It’s Now Legal to Catch a Raindrop in Colorado

Water law is very strange, and very different depending on which part of the country you live in.

Basically, water is an area where it was realized very early that what you do on your property can adversely and unfairly affect others.

For example: if you're upstream from your neighbors, can you build a dam and prevent them from having any water? Or can you collect all the rainwater that falls on your land, then release it all at once so your neighbor is flooded?

I suppose if you catch a glass of rain water to drink you would have to agree to piss an equivalent amount back out into the watershed.

The rainwater catching situation in Colorado is still ridiculous. You have to have a permit to collect rainwater, and the permit must be an adjunct to a well permit. Thus, suburbanites with no well still cannot legally catch rainwater.

With that said, it is one of those laws that is unenforced. Of course, if everyone starts installing rainwater barrels, they will start flying black helicopters over neighborhoods looking for them. I truly believe they would do that here. I didn't used to be so cynical, but some of the stuff that happens in Colorado now is just whacked. Big Brother is alive and thriving here.

Some relatives of a former lady friend own(ed) a house in Monument, Colorado - way up on a hillside directly West of the interstate there. The custom house was built at about 8000 ft - and they had no water. Their well had spouted for only a short time (something to do with layers and pockets) and so they were literally high and dry - having to have their water delivered (to their cisterns). The unfortunate side effect for visitors such as myself was that using the toilet was a smelly affair - one was allowed to flush for #2, but #1 ... let it sit. I'm sure it hardly ever rains there, too.

Such a nice house, too bad ...

"If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down."

Why no composting toilets? Also, I saw a place near Breckenridge that had a (admittedly expensive) system that filtered all but the black water for reuse. Grey water was reused, and the end of the cycle was used for toilet flushing. They had to be careful about what chemicals they used, but IIRC, this large home recycled all but @ 1000 gals/month.

Rip up all the concrete around the house and replace it with deep gravel to colle... sorry ... for aesthetic enhancement. Tell 'em it will get to the river eventually.


Build a water pipeline from China to Lake Baikal.

Just reroute the Mississippi River westward. Instead of allowing all that pollution into the GOM< dump it into some huge man made lake in Texas :)

daddy - That model has been worked on for decades. Still no economic way to make it happen. We could do with the Miss. R what the western state have done with the Colorado R. It would just take a lot more money than anyone is willing to spend. We have rivers in Texas a lot closer than the Miss. R. we could divert...same capex problem. Like they say: the world is full of good water...just much of it is in the wrong place.

It would be real tough to Colorado-ize it. I don't think evaporation is strong enough to actually get rid of the water in ole Miss. The Colorado flows through a thirsty desert for the last several hundred miles, so its easy to get rid of the water (theres not much to begin with, it would be only a minor tributary to the Miss).

...they are at the forefront of a push to privatise Great Lakes water in order to sell it to Asia.

Over my cold dead body.

The lakes are under enough pressure from pollution, climate change, invasive species, ect. Start draining them, and I draw the line.

In 10,000 years the erosion at the falls will result in a draining event.

You'll be dead. But if Man is still 'round in 9,500 years it might be a good idea to sell it before it gets drained away anyway.

Calm down guys. I am not defending Heart land. Good grief.

I'm just saying I read it and it really "smells" faked. I hope it is not. But every paragraph reeks with evil so it sounds contrived to me. We will probably eventually find out.

The idea that climate change is uncertain and open to debate was first contrived by master wordsmith Frank Luntz. He, in fact, was initially responsible for encouraging the use of the term "Climate Change" instead of "Global Warming" because it sounded "less threatening".

There is a push to teach the idea that Climate Change is open to debate - in other words, to teach both "sides" of the issue, as if both "sides" were factual.

Read DeSmogBlog for all the background.

Which is exactly what they've been doing with evolution, teach the controversy.

Heartland has called the strategy document "a total fake," which "contains several obvious and gross misstatements of fact." (It has not challenged the authenticity of the other documents.) But Wojick's email appears to confirm his leading role in the education project. A spokesman did not respond to a request for comment from Yahoo News.

The memo says that Wojick "has conducted extensive research on environmental and science education for the Department of Energy." And Wojick told Yahoo News he won a grant from the Department of Energy "to develop an algorithm that estimates the grade level of science education content."


You may find this item interesting.

So What’s A Teacher to Do?

"Imagine you’re a middle-school science teacher, and you get to the section of the course where you’re to talk about climate change. You mention the “C” words, and two students walk out of the class.

Or you mention global warming and a hand shoots up.

“Mrs. Brown! My dad says global warming is a hoax!”

Or you come to school one morning and the principal wants to see you because a parent of one of your students has accused you of political bias because you taught what scientists agree about: that the Earth is getting warmer, and human actions have had an important role in this warming.

Or you pick up the newspaper and see that your state legislature is considering a bill that declares that accepted sciences like global warming (and evolution, of course) are “controversial issues” that require “alternatives” to be taught.

Incidents like these have happened in one or more states, and they are likely to continue to happen. Teachers are encountering pushback from many directions as they try to teach global warming and other climate science topics."

“Mrs. Brown! My dad says global warming is a hoax!”

Excellent point Jimmy.

As your "science" teacher, it is my job to educate you on what people known as "scientists" are currently saying and to teach you about what "science" itself is and is not.

In your other class on politics and history your teacher can tell you about the right of free speech and how in this country anyone can say pretty much anything they want to say. In other words, one of my relatives may declare that the Earth is flat and the moon walk was a hoax. I would defend his or her political right to say so. But that political right does not transform my relative into a "scientist" and what he or she says into a scientific statement. Now let's talk about what makes someone a "scientist" who practices "science" versus non-science. ...

Pink slip on the way! And your name is on a universal blacklist now, better find a new profession, cause you just made a career ending blunder....

Surely there must be a faith-based,
and tax-exempt,
educational institution that is dedicated to worship of the Flying Spaghetti Monster
and that will still entertain my resume, no?

(My apologies for calling you Shirley)
((My further apologies for linking to a web site depicting images of TFSM, blessed be its name))

How did I miss this?
"How long has this been going on?"
These things happen so fast!
Like SackBoy:
Or Caramelldansen:
So, thank you for bringing my cultural heritage up-to-date with Flying Spaghetti Monster!

How Long:

Recent archeological digs indicate that worship of TFSM (blessed be its name) pre-date that of many other made-up dieties.

Good song pick (How Long?) --Thanks

Global Warming isn't a hoax, the idea that anything will be done about it is the hoax.

You can solve any problem with energy. Where do we get the majority of our energy from? Fossil fuels. Global Warming is just one problem amongst many which will be 'solved' that way.


It doesn't take much to imagine. One of my sons is a middle school science teacher in Utah. He parses little with the "C" words, or evolution. But it is a huge challenge, and he has consulted with folks from various universities who are pleased to help with his requests.

The National Centre for Science Education now has a section on climate change for teachers. Apparently it is now becoming a problem in schools of similar proportions to the idiocy of Creationism.


I heard about it on "Skeptics Guide to the Universe" (ep 340) http://www.theskepticsguide.org/archive/podcast.aspx?mid=1 if you want to hear Eugenie Scott discussing this growing problem.

The 21st Century is no different than any earlier times when people were adamant about believing what their "lying eyes" (and ears) told them as opposed to giving credence to this absurd and abstract thing called "science".

Here in Northern California, my "lying eyes" are telling me that all the trees are blossoming in mid-February, in what is supposed to be our freakin' "winter" --except the trees no longer understand that. 80 degrees F in mid-February. Who would have believed such a thing would happen so soon?

Then of course, there are still those who tonally sound out about how sKKKeptical they are. "Sound" logic. Humph.

I am not surprised.
I've taught elementary school for 30 years and believe that older students (Grades 8-12?) have a right to learn about fossil fuel depletion & PO, as well as Climate Change concerns.
However, although virtually every parent will have heard about CC (and I think most view CC as a serious/credible concern), I am sure that most parents have never heard the term, Peak Oil, hence a teacher's vulnerability in teaching anything about it.
The teacher's principal (who may also have never heard of PO) is quite likely to ask why a teacher would attempt to teach a concept to students, knowing full well that the parents of his/her students have never even heard of the term and know nothing about the concept/issue.

The parents of the teacher's students may have never even heard of the term, "energy tsunami"

But when the tides of oil pull back from our financially-secured shores, the pupils had better have been taught how to run for the hills, lest our species will not otherwise make it through to the other side of the wave after TSHTF.

The prime job of a teacher is to teach survival skills to the next generation.
If the teacher doesn't do that, the teacher hasn't really done his/her job.

"I read the document that Heartland claims is fake. And I hate to tell you but it really does sound fake."

It could be that Heartland faked their own document and put it where it was sure to be found so that they could accuse others of a "dishonest scheme to attack the credibility of a respected institution", discrediting the discreditors; one of the oldest setups around, especially when you know someone's poking around in your business.

" Target 'AF' (Midway Island) has a broken freshwater evaporator condenser..."

I published something on this today. Bottom line, Gleick has done tremendous damage to his cause. For the skeptics, this was manna from heaven:


"You never even hear the phrase "peak oil" anymore unless it is from some jerk like me enjoying a self-satisfied pat on the back for being right."

Interesting: he satisfied for being right that PO doesn't exist. But he also says: "However, I am becoming a believer in peak oil theory's little cousin: peak cheap oil. Or peak conventional oil, if you prefer. Whatever you call it, it is undeniable that the face of oil production is changing."

So he does believe we have peaked conventional and relatively cheap oil. And so as long as oil prices continue to rise there will always be as much liquid hydrocarbons to burn as we have ever had. There's no argument that the US didn't reach PO decades ago. But he acknowledges that "...most new oil reserves are coming from deep horizontal wells, hydraulic fracturing and deep-sea drilling." Logic thus indicates that he expects these new resources will not only stop the decline curve but return us to the days of record breaking oil production. Of course, he does so without offering support for that projection other than his expectation that it will happen. Nor does he offer any expectation that these new sources of oil will eventually peak also.

I suspect we'll see more of this sort of "clarification" of the positions from folks who haven't accepted PO. IOW by redefining what "PO" really means they were never wrong in denying PO...they just were framing it differently. They were really talking about peak liquids and future sources of oil that would be available as long as high prices continue to support their development. So what they are really saying is that not only did US production peak but so has global cheap conventional oil production likely peaked but that wasn't what they really meant when they said "PO". What they were really saying was that we are a long way from expensive liquid hydrocarbons from all sources being at peak...as long as the market continues to support those higher prices, of course. And, no mention of those sources peaking either.

And one small nerdy picky point: "...most new oil reserves are coming from deep horizontal wells...". The new fractured shale oil production isn't coming from "deep horizontal wells". The occurrence of oil is restricted to shallower depths due to the temperature window that oil can exist within. At great depths/temperatures only NG will remain. And it also has a max temp it can survive. Maybe I should have left that pass but it hinted of "abiotic" thoughts and didn't want to let it ride through unchallenged.

I suspect we'll see more of this sort of "clarification" of the positions from folks who haven't accepted PO. IOW by redefining what "PO" really means they were never wrong in denying PO...they just were framing it differently.

Truly amazing how much trouble people will go to avoid being wrong. They will twist ideas, turn a phrase, substitute terms, redefine expressios, sidestep data, whatever it takes to convince themselves they had it right all along. As the good Dr. said in a Star Trek episode when Spock explains away his emotional reaction as actually being a logical response, "In a pigs eye!"

War with IRAN will be the most likely excuse if there are shortages and/or price spikes this summer. They will always have something to blame, on the left it's "Wall street speculators" and "big oil" conspiracies, on the right it's the EPA, drilling restrictions, or Obama's secret plan to enslave us all. Lots of people just don't want to know the truth.

By summer, eh? If so, then where's the 3-5 million combat ready army that's required to even have a chance at defeating the Iranian army, overthrowing the Regime--the longstanding US Imperial policy goal--and installing what must become a neverending occupation? There's no budget for such an army, or for the equipment it will require, nor is there even any discussion of forming one--facts that ought to be informative.

I think getting a US attack going will be difficult. I hear (caveat: just in print no personal contacts), a lot of high up military brass will resign if asked to do it. It would raise quite a stink. Then if it went badly, and the country were to discover that we were pushed into this thing by Israel/AIPAC, there could be potentially serious backlash. We had actually been offered a grand bargain with Iran more than once (settle the nuclear issue, stop supporting terror groups, recognize Israel, get normalized relationships, they even offered to let US oil companies modernize their industry). But AIPAC made it clear they would scuttle any such deal, over Bush's dead body if need be, and the opportunity has gone away.

It's an election year... They want to make it seem that everything is improving; but actually looking at fuel sales maybe things aren't nearly as rosy as they want us to believe. War would cover all that up, give them an excuse for high gas prices and other economic issues. We are past peak we know the economy can not recover - it's all downhill from here and they need excuses and an enemy to blame.

Definitely, I think this is already starting. Today Cramer (who I consider one of the most reptilian of humans) explained that Iran's "posturing" in the Gulf is adding 20% to the price of gasoline. Cramer is upset about the possibility of $5/gallon gasoline.

It occurred to me that maybe, on the other hand it's Cramer's "posturing" on CNBC that is adding 20% to the price of gasoline. Maybe it is my posturing (I admit that I have also been posturing....though not on CNBC). We have all, actually, been posturing in one way or another.

I love that word "posturing".

All of you guys out there posturing, just stop, OK. Enough posturing. You're making oil go up!

"Cramer (who I consider one of the most reptilian of humans) "

I have been searching for a way to describe Cramer. That works.

I think he's rather more a feces flinging monkey...

Quite funny interview with Cramer by Jon Stewart

The arrogant master propagandist gets gutted by another master in the art.

maybe, on the other hand, it's Cramer's "posturing" on CNBC that is adding 20% to the [current] price of gasoline?

It's time to pull out your dog eared copy of "The Black Swan" by Talib Nassim and to re-read that section about "narrative fallacies" which is a polite way of saying that most people in the financial world are BS artists and they simply make up totally BS stories (narratives) when in fact they haven't a clue of what is really going on or why.

sb - Good point. Many years ago I attended one of those New Age self help seminars. Very intense: 48 hrs straight...slept on the floor if you had to. The program was each person describing some troubling aspect of their life such as momma did this or my ex didn't do that, etc. And the constant drum beat by the seminal leaders was simple: what happened. But naturally each person had to qualify what happened with how they interpreted the cause or reason behind what happened and "what it all really meant". And the leaders would pounce on them: Forget the "story" and just tell what happened. Of course it was always easy to see how someone else tried to change "what happened" with their own spin but the group was relentless: Don't tell what "it" meant...just tell us what happened.

I know it sounds goofy but when you have 50 or so people jumping your butt every time you start to spin the point does come across. In regards to your post the "story' is Talib's narrative. And our individual spins would be the fallacy aspect. Again, sounds goofy but we would watch the stories of others evolve as the source of those fallacies were sometime painfully exposed. In virtually every case the problems came from what folks thought the situation meant as opposed to what simply happened.

The Forum?

Talib's other point is that no one knows what "really" happened.

Examples: 11/22/1963-What "really" happened? 9/11/2001-What "really" happened?

...how much trouble people will go to avoid being wrong...

There it is, staring at us constantly to point out our folly.

The mind acts as if hardwired to defend itself at all costs. But such can be undone as already demonstrated in many cases.

Fortunately, to "avoid being wrong" helped Mankind keep its hands out of the fire, AKA survive.

Now, Mankind's future depends on undoing that lesson to prevent roasting Earth [and its breathable atmosphere] in run-away emission of energy that exceed life's limits.

Note how "avoid being wrong" trumps the concept of fairness, AKA justice.
And unfairness begets chaos.

Maybe I should have left that pass but it hinted of "abiotic" thoughts and didn't want to let it ride through unchallenged.

But, RM! God can make as much oil as She wants, and so long as we have the right President, well... I am sure She will always provide as much as WE want.

Drill, Baby, drill!


zap - Not that I've even given much ear service to the R candidates before, but now I have the TV remote already to flip channels when they pop up. It was bad enough when Bachman began her foolishness about energy. But Newt has a much bigger audience and thus greater potential to do harm.

As I've said before long ago it became rather difficult to be a R. Now they are making it more difficult to be a self described conservative when they hold themselves up as "conservatives". I think in the future if someone asks me which way I lean I'll just say:" Away from all the rest of them".

RM, the guy to watch out for is probably Santorum. Though, I am convinced that the PTB are setting up a brokered convention and they will draft Jeb Bush! (More of the same.)

Rinse and repeat??

[[comment self-censored]]


zap - I would never have expecting anyone to out-newt Newt but Santorum seems to be making a serious bid. Whe i first started reading about santorum I thought this might be interesting. But then quickly I started longing for the sanity of tha Bachman days. LOL.

I started longing for the sanity of tha Bachman days

My theory - in about a month 2008's right wing wacko Sarah Palin gets brought back in as 2012's centrist, moderate, intelligent candidate.

hard to argue with that.

Although I think politics is a waste of time (a sham) and therefore ignore it as much as possible, I do inadvertently catch the odd sound bite etc. It strikes me that US politics in particular is positively medieval, riddled with taboos, mystical beliefs and make-believe. I imagine its just a matter of time before we get the Inquisition resurrected in some horrible modern day state theocracy.

It almost seems there are certain elements within the elite that are laying the foundations for a post industrial future. The chosen method of controlling the masses in the future is via religion where the manipulation of people's beliefs can create the required outcome. As religious beliefs can be quite fantastical the range of manipulated outcomes can be infinite and unrestricted. Religious ideals can be expanded throughout a country by peer pressure with non-believers coming under extreme pressure to conform.

It strikes me that the US population is more susceptible to this form of control. But if it succeeds there it will rip through the Anglo-Saxon world like wildfire. For the British, that would mean the return to power of Tony Blair ;)

I do not expect the inquisition to come at any time soon. Especially not the spanish one.

No one expects expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Dare I say it? No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

The Id, the subconscious, that selfish cerebral governor that seems to make many of our decisions based upon their survival value, must be placated for its temporal sacrifice with the promise of eternal reward. Of course this is all acceptable to an uneducated, fearful and rarely reflective mind.

Through the experience of living the mind forms memories, flavored with pleasure, pain or without much spice at all. The most intensely flavored ones are the ones we notice the most along with those that stand-out from the normal background. We avoid the painful ones, seek the pleasurable ones, investigate the unusual ones and ignore the background. As you go through each waking day, the senses flood the brain with stimuli and compare it to existing memories. If you see something potentially interesting or pleasurable, your body will move you towards it automatically, without great reflection or consciousness.

I can access your memory immediately by simply saying or writing, “All cats have two tails.”, and you just searched your memory for verification and I hope you came up empty. For many people, you can tell them anything and they just don't have enough in their heads from experience or learning to accept or refute the assertion, especially if it is stated by an authority (Cramer, hah).

Many people, of the religious sort, don't want their most primal fear, death, resurrected after they've put it to rest under the covers of religious belief. Theocracy is not a loss of freedom for the devout, but for us it certainly is.

I've been thinking about Thailand and New Zealand a lot lately. There is an overshoot index listing all countries and their current state of overshoot, if any. Based upon many of my observations and memories, the collective mind of the United States is irredeemable.


I've been thinking about Thailand and New Zealand a lot lately.

Well, having spent quite a bit of time in both (years not weeks), I would strongly recommend you pack up all your well-worn Psych 101 textbooks and shuffle off to New Zealand.

Wonderful country, good people, solid institutions and law-making, lots of cheap land, and good soil and water. Might be a bit light-on for fossil fuels, but the hydro is absolutely everywhere.

Thailand is much more problematic - very high population, lots of poverty, lots of pollution, unstable governance, and a bit shaky on the rule of law. Plus they are not real keen on foreigners.

Actually we do have plenty of fossil fuels, about the equivalent current production ratio of the U.S.A to consumption. However we are what you would call one of the few unexplored oil frontiers. All things going to plan, within 20 years we'll be self sufficient up to about ~60-70% of total energy consumption and more than self sufficient if we are just talking about our own needs and not energy used to create export production.

Lots of milk and butter too.

I remember when I first lived there in 1974, you could go to one of those Soviet-style subsidised "dairy" stores and get milk for 4c a pint, and butter for 4c a pound. Lovely.

Tony Blair seems like a paragon of virtue compared to us.....

It almost seems there are certain elements within the elite that are laying the foundations for a post industrial future. The chosen method of controlling the masses in the future is via religion where the manipulation of people's beliefs can create the required outcome.

I heartily disagree with this ... if this were possible, it would have happened years ago, possibly decades ago.

The trouble is that the democratic process (flawed and shameful though it may be) still has centre stage, and both the ruling elite and the lunatic right (including the army generals and the weapons millionaires) can't actually predict it, control it, or especially manipulate it.

It is much easier to simply assume that whoever is in the White House (and in fact Congress) - doesn't matter a bit - control is in place all over. Those who do not live in the US are therefore much amused (in an eyebrow-raising way) - when we see American journos write about the US President being the "most powerful person in the world". For many of us, he isn't even considered the most powerful person in the BosWash sector.

Rockman. I no longer consider myself to be conservative (but have not gone liberal), I rather label me as "beyond left/right and conservative/liberal". I found a third road. Also I am european, not USian. But I am a christian and I feel just like you, if not even worse. Can't distance myself from these people far enough. If I got a penny every time this site gave me a "he said WHAT?" moment from these fellows, I could afford to buy a horse.

"If I got a penny every time ... I could afford to buy a horse."

Great saying. Love it. Perhaps it will gain widespread use in the (World Made by Hand) future...

Far center is the rout for the 2000 teens.

""he said WHAT?""

"We are not auditioning for fearless leader.
We don’t need a President to tell us what direction to go […]
We just need a president to sign this stuff.[…]
...then pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become President of the United States."

What they seek in a presidential candidate for 2012 is compliance and nothing more, where nothing is a requirement.

The politicians pledge allegiance to Norquist.

IMO, Norquist is the scariest element of US politics right now and going forward. He has figured out that he can have more power than any single politician by forcing all members in one of our party's (Repub's) to sign on the "No More Taxes Pledge." His single issue is taxes. And without even being elected he has cemented the position of no more taxes for more than half of our congress. The position he takes can be characterized as "The Anaconda Tax Strategy." Which is like an anaconda: constrict the tax code so that it can't inhale with a tax increase, and when it exhales with a tax decrease, tighten the constriction to consolidate the exhalation and prevent further inhalation.

He has said that his endgame is to shrink the size of government until it is small enough to drown in a bathtub. And he obviously is trying to do this by cutting off all revenue. It is really a sick, destructive, maniacal plan. I wonder if he realizes that the endgame of his strategy is essentially anarchy, which would devolve into strongman politics a la shoguns, warlords, and the feudalism of ages past.

During hard economic times people want more, not less, government. Given the current conditions in the US there have to be a lot more people who realize they are going to be depending on unemployment insurance, social security and medicare in the future. Once people connect the dots and realize that holding the line on tax increases would result in sizable cuts to these social programs, it will be hard for the GOP to resist tax increases if they want to get elected.

"During hard economic times people want more, not less, government."

Yes and no. They want more transfer payments. But hardly anyone wants yet more endless form-filling and box-checking.

I don't think he would have a problem with that outcome.

You're kidding! These Republicans are great! Imagine them wearing the cap and bells of a court jester, carrying pinwheels and balloons, romping around doing cartwheels and talking about "high gas prices!" They are babbling fools, entertaining everyone for free. It is too bad that, not living in the States, I can't view them as often as I wish. (There is YouTube but I'm too busy.) I read secondhand reports of their fascinating comments. Love it, love it, gotta love it....today I read that Newt plans a series of ads focusing on high gas prices. What could be better entertainment, really, than that? Don't look away! Enjoy the show!

I have to agree that as a non-resident of the USA, watching its political shenanigans over the last six months has been hilarious. Sadly however, what happens in Seppostan tends to affect the rest of us - so we treat them with great caution indeed.

What I find intriguing is how liberals (and other thinking Americans who are not drunk or consumed by NASCAR by 8:00pm) feel about Obama. Sure - things would have been much worse had the Repubs got in, but still, his reform agenda has been very, very skinny indeed. But there again - so was Clinton's - probably reform in the US is always a non-starter.

I do feel for Obama. He probably knows what he'd like to do. Then he knows what is possible to get through all the pressure groups. Then he knows, what is really really wrong to do, but will hapen with or without his approval... They don't call it the worst job in the world for nuthin.

You don't get to his place without pleasing the right people. He knew the job when he took it, and he extended and enlarged its evil.

Even so, I think all people who get into that office, think they will have a lot more choice then they really get. Don't we all think, "if I were president, things would be so very much different?". Political constraints aren't usually obvious to the outside observer.

I'm very liberal, consider Obama to be a Raygun Republican, and will not be voting for him in Nov; either Buddy Roemer, or a write-in for Bernie Sanders. Don't know enuf about Roemer, yet.
Wht's the difference between RR and BO? RR actually raised taxes on GE.

Now they are making it more difficult to be a self described conservative when they hold themselves up as "conservatives".

Rock...I don't know how to break this to you, but the centre has moved. If we look at the positions of the major parties, the Democrats are to the right of the old-school centre (to the right of Regan, actually.) I'd say that to get to Regan territory (not to put words in your mouth, of course) you end up to the right of Obama. You're a leftist- whether you like it or not.


Rock...I don't know how to break this to you, but the centre has moved.


That God is a male god. In fact I think he has two Y chromosomes, and a double dose of testosterone. Maybe the true god (if one exists, is female, but not the abiotic one).

I know many people who are happy to admit that almost everything about God's nature is a mystery. But the one part of him they seem to have a firm grasp on is what is apparently dangling between his legs.

Like if a god capable of creating life just by wishing would need gender parts.

Just sayin'

As the Y chromosome is missing hundreds (thousands? ) of life critical genes found only on the X chromosome, he would need supernatural powers just to exist.

Hey, what do you mean SHE? Are you some PC librul type? God was born a man and a man he has always been! Just go consult your Bible for the unerring truth.

There's a bumper sticker around here that says,

"My Goddess gave birth to your God."

They might be setting up Santorum to be their golden boy, but I really wonder how a debate and race between him and Obama would go, as opposed to these strange plays between this Motley Crew of Republicans..

I guess the question is really whether the DNC or the RNC would make the worst stumbles, as opposed to the candidates themselves..

The bumper stickers I see around here are:

"God was my co-pilot, but we crashed in the Andes, and I had to eat him."


"Going to war over religion is killing people to see who has the best imaginary friend."


"Buckle up! It makes it harder for the aliens to suck you out of your car."


"Pee for enjoyment, not for employment."


"People are more violently opposed to fur than leather because it's easier to harass rich women than motor-cycle gangs."


"Don't believe everything you think."


"The meek are contesting the will."

"Where are we going, and why am I in this handbasket?"


"Dog is my copilot"

I love the second latest. If I had a car, I'd order one.

Love it! I would be afraid to sport those first two around here.

Favorite two Church of the Subgenius bumper stickers:

"Pro Choice, Pro Family, Pro Wrestling" and

"My Other God is Nailed to a Stick"

@Nick: As a follow-up to this really old comment, I did the math. The result improved with your DSM strategy from 74% to 81% of wind usable. (The amount of usable wind increased from 100 TWh to 105 TWh of 135 TWh produced.) It may be interesting to note that your suggested DSM strategy lowered overall electricity demand by 4%.

your link is broken.

Ah, thanks. This should work.


Thanks for your persistence in working on those numbers.

while it is good to see that the 15%DSM did make a difference, I remain amazed at the 76% number to start with.

One question, when you said "scale wind to meet 100% of annual demand" - do you mean the peak annual demand in MW, or the annual energy consumption in MWh?

In any case, it's an amazing result. Makes me wonder why the American Wind Energy Association has not done some similar exercise.

I mean annual energy consumption i MWh. I.e. Swedish demand was 135 TWh in 2011. I scaled our wind generation (~5%) by ~20, so the total yearly wind production would be 135 TWh. And then I calculated how much of the scaled-by-20 hourly production fits within hourly demand.

The challenge, actually, may be seen in this graph of the (would-be) hourly deficiency in january and february 2011, i.e. the demand that isn't covered by the scaled wind. It is quite "spiky" and provides virtually no guaranteed power.

Good stuff.

From that chart, we can safely infer, that if wind is scaled to 100% of energy consumption, it will meet at least 10% of the instantaneous (hourly) demand for 100% of the time.

And it meets 100% of the demand for about 30% of the time.

And, when the backup is needed, it is usually for at least 50% of the demand...

All this says to me that the system probably does still need 100% backup, and it needs to be capable of fast ramping - meaning hydro where possible, and gas turbines where not.

Which is pretty much the pattern we are seeing today, just not on the 100% scale.

If the tradeoff for adopting this scheme is going from using CCGT at 60% to SCGT at 40%, but the run hours are reduced from 100% to 20%, we still have a 70% fuel use reduction, and the fuel we are using is clean NG, not coal.

That's quite an acceptable compromise, IMO.

Can you post the full year chart (or would you be willing to email the data set?)



All this says to me that the system probably does still need 100% backup, and it needs to be capable of fast ramping - meaning hydro where possible, and gas turbines where not.

There is a 3rd way.

Accept there is no such thing as 100% coverage. That energy ebbs and flows, and if you "need" 100% - batteries exist. (perhaps magical solid state capacitors at some point)

You have lights, you have a head mounted entertainment device for that big screen effect

Just because something was done in the past doesn't mean it'll be in the future.

I claim we've always had less than 100%. because its just not feasible to be totally reliable. Ever been in a power outage, or heard about one? So its all a matter of degree 99.99% versus 99.9% versus 98% versus 70% versus 50%. We can also have degrees of curtailment (shut off all unneccesary power -including your A/C!). This happens even today if enough black swans swim by at once.

Well, we do actually have more than 100%, though not all of it is available all the time.

And yes, there is curtailment - many industrial customers have agreements with utilities to curb power on request, in exchange for lower rates.

Most power outages I know of are from a transmission failure as opposed to not enough generation - though Ca did manage to create some of those back in the day. As a functional goal, an electric grid should be able to meet 100% of it's normal peak. Abnormal peaks, maybe not.

The idea here is to have a functional, reliable electric system One of the scenarios explored by Jeppen and Nick was using demand side management - which means voluntary curtailment - and it does improve the "coverage" achieved by wind. There is *lots* of scope for doing more DSM through the use of active controls and ToU rates.

The point was, that a not unreasonable overbuilding of wind was able to meet the system demand most of the time. Backing it up for the remaining time is not that big of a deal, if we are prepared to use NG when other options are not available.

The chart shows there are some extended periods where wind can;t do it alone, and "storage" schemes like pumped storage, and batteries, aren't much help on the third day. But a cheap SCGT can do it no problem.

This is not to say that pumped storage and other schemes aren;t worth doing, but it is to say that we can get there with the options we have available today.

And if better things come along than the SCGT, then great - if they are sitting unused for most of the time they have not tied up a huge amount of capital.

Sweden is blessed with hydro, but we can't really use it that intermittently to balance such a wind profile, since we need to mind the riverbeds, ecosystems, nearby buildings and so on. But perhaps our export can help us some.

The full year deficiency chart is here:

I'll also email you my excel sheet.

Thanks for the work, and for letting me know. That's a good result.

A few thoughts: as I know you know, this is just a baseline, which would be greatly improved by many things:

-these DSM rules are very simple. More complex strategies would improve energy utilization further, especially given that in the longterm EVs will dominate transportation.

-more aggressive short-term DSM would obviate the need for most very fast response spinning reserves - DSM is actually faster and cheaper than spinning reserve

- a real scaleup by 20x would have significantly less intermittency, as many more windfarms would have less variance than a small number scaled proportionately - changes in hourly output would be reduced more than seasonal variation

-averaging over a greater area would also reduce variance

-81% usable power means 19% available very cheaply roughly half the time (IOW, about 40GW would be available) - that would allow affordable synthetic fuels (including H2 stored underground), as most of the cost of synthetic fuels is the energy input. Such synthetic fuels could be used for backup. Storage of H2 or methane in underground tanks, or liquid fuels aboveground, would be very affordable, and largescale backup could be very cheap ICE generators or single cycle plants - the energy input would be almost free, and the volume of kWhs relatively low (perhaps 5% of total, so efficiency would be unimportant.

-if use of the surplus power for backup created a market for that power, that would increase the cost of backup, but reduce the cost of overbuilding - it would simply be a transfer of costs, not new costs

-DSM with EREVs will eventually extend to V2G, which would be synergistic with those synthetic fuels.

I'll answer more later, when I can.

If you could email the spreadsheet, I'd be much obliged.

First, let me say that my simulation has converted me into a believer in high wind penetrations. It has also converted me into a believer in moderate wind subsidies (carbon taxes would be even better). However, I feel your solutions to the intermittency problems are not the most practical, and also they come off as too optimistic. Let me expand on that:

these DSM rules are very simple. More complex strategies would improve energy utilization further,

I don't see how, really. I can see that increasing DSM volume would improve things, but not that increased complexity would. Also, I think the two main issues seen in my graphs are depth of deficiency (80-90% often) and long-term intermittency (a week or two above 50% deficiency). Private consumption DSM doesn't help much in either case. (Shifting a dishwasher run, some heating load or EV charging up to half a day won't help.)

more aggressive short-term DSM would obviate the need for most very fast response spinning reserves

I don't think that's the big issue.

a real scaleup by 20x would have significantly less intermittency, as many more windfarms would have less variance than a small number scaled proportionately

Again, this doesn't solve the big issues.

averaging over a greater area would also reduce variance

This, however, might really help. If someone could provide hourly 2011 wind production data from neighboring countries such as Germany, Denmark, the Baltics, I'd be happy to simulate the effect.

that would allow affordable synthetic fuels (including H2 stored underground)

I think you'd be happy to get 25% efficiency out of that, so that would improve utilization from 81% to 86%. You'd need this system to be able to absorb and deliver the entire country's average power requirements, and also to be able to store 3 weeks worth, which makes for quite (extremely?) high capital costs.

DSM with EREVs will eventually extend to V2G

Again, impractical and too short-term.

I think the most practical solutions for the big/longer-term wind intermittency problems include long distance transmission to get less variance, biomass plants with combined power and heat and also natgas plants. And, of course, any hydro balancing that might be available. I don't think DSM or energy storage will do much, as they mostly operate on too short time scales.

(I'll send the email.)

Those are good areas for discussion and analysis.

As it happens, I've done a simulation using Ontario Canada data that's been helpful, though I haven't had time to report on it (reporting can easily take much more time than analysis!!). It will be interesting to compare.

Here's some info on regional balancing. It has some problems with the final interpretations, but the analysis and data are helpful.

"Equalizing Effects of the Wind Energy Production in Northern Europe Determined from Reanalysis Data". It shows correlation coefficienof wind patterns across Europe between -0.2 and 1.

The total hourly outputs for Spain, Britain and Denmark show correlation coefficients of 0.08 (Spain and DK), 0.09 (Spain and the UK), and 0.32 (UK and Denmark). Barcelona (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark) are in the same time zone. They are separated by 14.5 degrees of longitude - about 500 miles.

This tells us that a modest separation (UK and Denmark) gives good independence, and a reasonable separation (Spain and DK&UK) gives almost complete independence.

So, as we add more countries, and connect wind resources at greater distances, the ratio of variance to mean output will continue to fall dramatically - the Law of Large Numbers.

more later...

I tried adding Ireland to my calculation. I began by normalizing Ireland's consumption and wind production to Sweden's levels, then adding Sweden and Ireland together and doing the same calculation on the mix. That, somewhat disappointingly, increased the amount of wind that would be within the demand curve from 74% to 77%.

Worst production was 3% of demand in Sweden alone (and 17 episodes below 10%), and 6% of demand in Sweden+Ireland (with 9 episodes below 10%).

Where did you find Ireland's data?

I'd be curious about the R squared between Irish and Swedish wind.

When you measured low episodes, what was the duration you used for the episodes?

I stumbled upon this study (which says Denmark and Ireland are correlated at 0.09, and I just assumed Sweden and Ireland would be even less.). That study got its data from www.eirgrid.com, and I found consumption data and wind generation there. (I didn't try to adjust for time zone differences, as I'm more interested in longer-term intermittence.)

I merely looked at the yearly graphs and counted the spikes above 90% deficiency. The episode length, thus, may have been determined by the resolution of the graphs. I don't know whether higher resolution would have presented more spikes. Unscientific, perhaps, but it was just part of a quick glance to try to determine if there were tangible differences.

Good comments J.

For the DSM issue (and I can't see what Nicks rules were) I think we have to divide it into two classes - daily and weekly.

Daily is obviously easy to do on a large scale - ToU rates, special rates/rules for space heating, domestic hot water. The utility that services my family farm in Australia has two classes of "controlled load", that are restricted to off peak run hours, and the utility has the right to partially curtail them;

Residential Controlled Load 1: Supply will be made available where another primary metering point is present at the same metering point as the secondary load and the load is remotely controlled. Applicable to loads such as water heating, swimming pool operation, heat pumps etc. Loads must be permanently connected. Supply will be made available for 5 to 9 hours overnight on weekdays and extra hours on weekends except where the load is controlled by a time clock. Note: This tariff is not available for the top boost element of a two element water heater for new connections.

The EREV's and V2G, if it comes about, can also contribute to "daily DSM"

Doing daily DSM will certainly help increase the utililisation % of wind energy, and reduce the demand on backup fuel sources.

But weekly DSM is a whole different beast - there are not many places that can turn down their heat, hot water or whatever else for a whole week. And if wee need 90% replacement, the system may as well be built for 100%, just in case.

And pumped hydro is not cost effective at this time scale - you build a system 7x the size of a daily one and get to use it 1/10th as often - hard to make those economics work.

Conventional dam hydro is fine, of course, if the area has it.

So, for the week long calm periods, there is little choice but backup fuel fired generation.

I am not so sure about doing H2 storage for backup - it is very hard (expensive) to store.
I wonder if it would not be better to put the H2 into the natural gas stream (assuming NG is still being used) to create "hydrogen enriched NG" (also called "hythane"). There have been successful trials of this in cng vehicles - replacing 5% of NG with H2 leads to significant emissions reductions, but does need specialised H2 equipment (and, apparently, does not cause embrittlement at these low concentrations and NG pressures).

So, the H2 is used when produced in windy periods, and displaces an equivalent amount of NG, and when backup generation is needed, it runs on the NG.
Some large NG storage is needed somewhere, but this is easier to do than H2 storage.

Of course, we can do biogas and biomass fuelled backup too, but this is more expensive, and for solid biomass the response times are longer, but then we are trying to cover a week long calm period, we will know in advance that we are going to need to do so.

The problem is ultimately one of having to over build everything - the wind generation, the transmission, the storage, the backup. We have traded capital cost efficiency for resiliency, which is not necessarily a bad thing..

Oh, and cleaner air too, if we are getting rid of the coal plants...

Agreed on time scales. Interesting idea about hydrogen enriched NG.

I am not so sure about doing H2 storage for backup - it is very hard (expensive) to store.

Underground storage (as is done with NG) is very cheap.

More later...

It may be interesting to note that your suggested DSM strategy lowered overall electricity demand by 4%.

That makes sense. My DSM strategy was asymmetric: demand decreased by 15% when supply was below "standard" consumption, but increased only 10% when supply was high.

That probably should be symmetric, especially given a strategy of soaking up excess power with synthetic fuel production.

Hey can someone please post the link which has all the live global crude prices (Bonny, Tapis, Dubai etc), together on one display, I seem to have misplaced it. TIA.

o you mean this one?

Stopped updating 9 months ago :(

Yes that was the one, thanks. Darn how annoying that its not being updated. Any other sources anyone?

Thanks for supplying those links.

Thanks WT. Really shows that WTI is in effect irrelevant compared to 90% (by volume) of all the worlds global crudes prices.

about 300,000 bbls/day of WTI are produced and close to 3mm bbls of crude grades which are deliverable into the WTI contract are produced on a daily basis so the significance of WTI is even smaller than you suggest. It really is a broken benchmark, not with a broken leg but with terminal cancer.


WP et al - all good points but I want to point out what "WTI Benchmark" pricing means to most of the oil patch. When buying/selling oil on long term contract you typically don't set a price of $X/bbl for a simple reason: you don't know what that bbl will be selling for in the market place, say 6 months from now. So I may have a contract that says I'll sell my Gulf Coast Texas oil to Sunoco for the next 12 months at WTI + $4.50 per bbl. Or maybe WTI - $8 per bbl. The adjustment is a function of the specific quality of my oil and transport consideration. And, of course, free market conditions. BTW: I'm actually selling my Texas oil based on the La Light Sweet benchmark. A refiner in Houston might have a contract for someone's oil in Cushing at WTI - $25 per bbl due to the transport bottleneck of getting from there to here.

If folks want to equate WTI pricing to other benchmarks that's fine. But it's also not very relevant IMHO. Actually WTI oil (which actually doesn't really exists per se) price is just what someone is selling oil for under a certain set of circumstances. One can sign a contract to buy west Texas oil based on the Brent benchmark price or any other benchmark in the world. But the idea is to use a benchmark that's sensitive to conditions in the area that oil is being marketed. BTW: there is virtually no more "Brent" crude being produced in the N Sea...the Brent Field is close to being abandoned. "Brent" prices are now based on a basket of various N. Sea oils.

And I think that most here now understand that the "price of WTI" that the MSM puts out has nothing to do with the price any oil is sold at in the US. It's the price used to value a future oil contract at some specific time interval. The price I sold my oil at last month had no relationship with what oil futures prices were on any one day that month. And never will. In fact, it's just the opposite: whether one makes a profit or loses money on the "WTI" futures contracts they bought will be determined by what WTI is actually selling for when the contract matures. I think a lot of folks are still confused as to what is the dog and what is the tail. The futures market doesn't determine what profit I make when I sell my oil. And if I'm not invested in the futures market it has no bearing on my net income at all. But me and the rest of the oil patch determine who makes/loses money in the futures market based on what we ultimately sell our crude for when those contracts come due. When I sell my crude there are a limited number of potential buyers in my area. I may be selling on a long term contract based on some adjusting benchmark. Or if my oil isn't contracted I can sell on the spot market. But there's no negotiating there: the buyers in my area post the price and I either accept it or let the oil sit the oil sit in my tanks and make no revenue from that production until I eventually sell. And in the meantime I may have to stop producing when I run out of tankage at the well. And if i were to do that with all my current oil production I would lose $170,000 of revenue PER DAY. Like I said: there's not much negotiating with the spot market. The buyers know it's very unlikely I would shut my wells in.

Thanks for that explanation. I went and shared it with some ignorant folks, although I don't really expect them to learn anything.

Question: the practical "meaning" (for lack of a better term) of "WTI" will change over time. So if you're selling at WTI+x today, x may eventually become the wrong value as the "WTI" meaning drifts. So how, and how often, does x get adjusted in a really long term contract?

good question. Brent is going through the same issue right now where the actual source of brent is being decommisioned.
I don't know how benchmarks die.....


Paul - Yes...good question. I'm not involved in marketing enough to make a guess. But the price differential last as long as the contract term. Not sure if there is a typical term but I often hear 12 months. When the contract expires it back to the negotiating table.

A sign of the Peak Oil time: Production of Brent oil, the international oil benchmark (not to be confused with West Texas Intermediate, the US oil benchmark), is coming to an end.

Coming soon: Brent trade with no Brent crude

  • Brent Delta platform already ceased production
  • Decommissioning likely to take over 10 years
  • Oil was original source for Brent futures contract

Brent is the benchmark for pricing two-thirds of the world's oil, but soon there won't be any Brent crude left in it.

Royal Dutch Shell's Brent oilfield, among the largest fields ever found in the UK North Sea, is set to be decommissioned in the near future, a company official said on Tuesday.

Brent had an important role in the oil market as the original source of crude for the Brent futures contract. But output is dwindling, and "Brent" now refers to a blend of North Sea oils.

"The UK's North Sea used to be the ultimate technology frontier but is now a mature oil and gas province," said Ian Craig, executive vice president Shell E&P Africa, speaking at a Nigerian oil conference in Abuja.

"Indeed Shell's Brent field, which is synonymous with the UK industry, is due to be decommissioned in the near future."

"paper" oil.

'fiat' oil?

Perhaps in the same sense as "'fiat' lux"?

Steve LeVine (author of "The Oil and the Glory") to be interviewed on Minnesota Public Radio this Thursday:


My mistake: the interview was on Wednesday. Link to the show is here:


Brent Priced In EUR At Record Highs*

Brent  : $123.18
EUR/USD: 1.3246
Brent  : ~€93

* http://www.zerohedge.com/news/brent-priced-eur-record-highs

Record sterling oil price sparks fears

European countries are facing pressures on economic recovery as the price of oil hits an all-time high in sterling and flirts with the euro-terms record high set 2008.

"This is a regional oil shock," said Amrita Sen, commodities analyst at Barclays Capital in London.

In euro terms, the oil benchmark reached a three-year high of €92.70 a barrel, a fraction below the peak of €93.50 a barrel set in July 2008.

CounterPunch has published an article revealing for the first time the manipulations surrounding an event that forms the basis of our current geopolitical dilemma. Part of the author's conclusion:

A few years after the war, Sadat was assassinated, and his hand-picked follower Hosni Mubarak began his long rule, followed by another participant of the October War, Gen Tantawi. Achieved by lies and treason, the Camp David Peace treaty still guards Israeli and American interests. Only now, as the post-Camp David regime in Egypt is on the verge of collapse, one may hope for change. Sadat’s name in the pantheon of Egyptian heroes was safe until now. In the end, all that is hidden will be made transparent.

I don't know enough to comment on this. Darwinian might.

I tend not to pay much attention to Counterpunch these days. Any publication that denies anthropogenic climate change is not worth my time.

This conspiracy theory relies on a lack of familiarity with the well documented historical record. Sadat had tried diplomacy to get the Sinai back but had met a brick wall. He decided to force the issue through militarily action. He made a pact with Asad in Syria as the latter wanted to get the Golan Heights back. However, Sadat really only planned to take some territory in the western Sinai, then when the great powers intervened, he would have a bargaining chip at the negotiation table. He didn't let Asad in on the secret. He hoped that Syrian pressure in the Golan would assist him in taking territory in the Sinai.

If the Israelis were in on the secret then why were they so unprepared that they needed to make a desperate plea for US resupplies (which the US provided in spades). If it was all a plot then why did Sadat make a desperate plea to the Soviets to negotiate a cease fire as the Egyptian 3rd Army was being decimated. We know from the Soviet records that Kissinger angered the Russians by a variety of delaying tactics to allow the Israelis to seize more territory. We also know he put US nuclear forces on high alert when the Russians threatened to directly intervene to prevent the decimation of Egyptian forces.

So in the end while it is true that Sadat was duplicitous with his Syrian ally, there is really no evidence that the Israelis or Kissinger were in on the war planning.
I'm teaching a course on Regime Change in the Middle East and just covered this material earlier today so its sort of fresh in my mind. My references are primarily from the writings of Professor Salim Yaqub of UCSB

After the smoke clears, and the mirror shards lay unswept off from the streets, it will become apparent (transparent) that the people of Egypt are no better off after the "Arab Spring" than they were before.

The Egyptian economy is tanking.
It's as plain and simple as that.
No amount of yelling and street fair will turn the tides of history.
There was no conspiracy by long nosed men in smoke filled synagogues with nothing better to do late at night than plot against their Semitic cousins.
This is simply Mother Nature rolling in to remind us that unchecked population boom and pervasive desertification has its consequences.

The plague that hath visited upon Egypt land will soon roll up on our shores too.
As they say, when TSHTF, the SHTF.

The essay was about a new source by an eyewitness that provides new facts. The whole extract has yet to be published, which was announced. As a historian of the US Empire, I'm more than mildly interested, as I can read the Ambassador's words without having Shamir interpret. I do share your sentiments about Cockburn.

US Gasoline Demand Unexpectedly Increases even as gasoline prices soar

Per today’s MasterCard Spending Plus report on US retail gasoline sales, there was a surprising 3% increase in week over week gasoline demand. It was thought that consumers filled up their tanks in advance of a long holiday weekend – despite higher prices. However the long term trend of US gasoline demand remains decidedly downward – dropping about 6% year over year. The MasterCard SpendingPlus report is consistent with a similar 6% drop in US gasoline ‘products supplied’ reported by the EIA.

It is not clear if the incipient increase in the US economy will be able to make much headway as retail prices continue to rapidly rise. See West Coast and Chicago wholesale gasoline prices soar .

Consumers may not get any relief from high gasoline prices in the next few months – especially in the Northeast and West Coast regions. Gasoline output in the Northeast has been severely cutback by regional refinery shutdowns and slowdowns, a problem made worse by a slowdown in imports following the abrupt closure of after three Petroplus refineries in Europe. At the same time a huge Virgin Islands refiner, Hovensa, has now shut down. It shipped a significant amount of gasoline to the Northeast US. [The EIA counts the Virgin Islands as part of the US, and does not consider shipments to the NE as imports into the US]. Virgin Islands' consumers may no longer view their idyllic location quite as nicely as before after their source of cheap gasoline disappears.

In the downhill race between falling supplies and falling demand, it is not yet clear if the significant year over year 6% fall in gasoline demand is enough to allow the US to smoothly sail through another 'summer driving season' without any supply interruptions. With Spring time around the corner, many Northeast states must soon sell a blend of gasoline with a lower vapor pressure (RVP) for which supplies may be limited. [Summer-blend gasoline has a lower Reid vapor pressure, meaning it creates less vapor than winter-blend gasoline and is less likely to contribute to smog formation in higher temperatures.] If faced with a shortage of low vapor pressure gasoline, individual States can and likely will request exemptions from the Environmental Protection Agency to use what gasoline is available - which will probably be a leftover 'winter blend'.

US gasoline demand up ahead of holiday-MasterCard
Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:23pm GMT
Retail gasoline demand rose by 3.4 percent in the week to Feb. 17, compared with the previous week, even as the average price of gasoline rose by 3 cents a gallon to $3.53, MasterCard data showed.


Hovensa: St Croix Refinery Shutdown Completed
NEW YORK – Hovensa LLC completed the shutdown of its 350,000 barrel-a-day refinery on the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix, the company said.


HOVENSA raises prices again
(Daily News Staff)
Compared with HOVENSA's first rack rate change in 2012, which occurred on Jan. 2, current rack rates are 40 cents per gallon higher for regular gasoline, 41 cents per gallon higher for premium gasoline, and 27 cents per gallon higher for diesel fuel.


Perhaps a lot of folks are topping off their tanks expecting prices to go up more. My local fuel retailer has been telling folks to "get it while it's cheap" so he can fill his tanks again before the big spike he's expecting. He's usually good at calling these increases. Another friend has a landscape business and he has bought a few hundred gallons before his spring rush (and higher fuel prices).

I topped my truck off last night at $3.51 after I noticed the place down the street jumped to $3.67. Saved a whole $2.50 ;-/

I find it interesting in a negative manner that you can provide a whole lot of info detailing why gasoline prices are going up even as demand declines and yet people--many who are openminded about most topics and acknowledge Peak Oil--are adamant in their persistent belief that it's a combination of Big Oil manipulation on behalf of the Republican Party and market speculation that's driving up gasoline prices.

Had that argument with a normally mild-mannered friend today. All of a sudden he got quite bent out shape about oil companies colluding, about cartels, and said that he had seen this talked about in several articles in the MSM. He was really getting hot as I was trying to say it was a matter of peak oil and growing world demand, etc. I just literally threw up my hands and said "O.K., Bob, O.K. Have it your way!" Just not worth getting into a heated argument over it.

Well, the one thing we shouldn't ever let PO do is let the major oil companies off the hook. They really are pretty much evil personified, even if it is evil that society has conjured up.

This is one of the hardest areas of I have negotiating with people I respect. I can't disagree with them that the oil companies are horribly corrupt and that they are corrupting the whole system, but I also feel the need to suggest that there are also physical limits to what can be pumped out of the ground, and of course limits to what the atmosphere can absorb.

Eeeeeek! Don't try to speak seriously to people in denial! It is a complete waste of time! Just start blaming Iran and Obama or whoever else you happen to dislike. It's all the fault of the Chinese! It's because the Indians are buying cars. It's Iran posturing! It's the Greeks! It's the US politicians! Etc. See if you can get to "It's also the fault of space aliens who are using giant straws at night under cover of darkness to suck oil out of the ground!" without your friend noticing anything absurd.

Once again, speculators get most of the blame. Complaints about speculators increase when prices are rising, but when prices are falling, they are almost never mentioned.

The article below sums up the gasoline situation very well:

What's Behind The Recent Hike In Gas Prices?

by John Ydstie

"The supply of gasoline has been declining," Gheit says. "We have 700,000 barrels of refining capacity [that were shut down] in the last three months. That is almost 5 percent of U.S. gasoline production ... now offline."

Energy analyst Phil Verleger says that's an amazing drop in refining capacity.

"I've been following the industry since 1971," he says, "and never in my life have I seen so many refineries close all at once."

Sunoco, Conoco and Hess have all retired outmoded, unprofitable refineries in the eastern U.S. and Caribbean. The shuttered refineries were not retrofitted to meet the requirements for removing sulfur from high-sulfur crude. As the supplies of "sweet" low-sulfur crude that they could refine have contracted and become more expensive, they became money losers.


But its "speculation" that shut those refineries. Speculation that continuing to operate them at a loss would be bad for the owners. In some sense, acting on future predictions of costs, prices, and profits in order to optimize your future bottom line, is speculating....
But, of course this quickly becomes a case of blaming the messenger rather than the message.

Is demand declining?

Several articles mention US demand decline. But is global demand declining? I wasn't aware of that. These articles that mention US demand only seem deceptive.

No, global oil demand is not declining, and that is the basis of the problem. The rising demand in rapidly developing and heavily populated countries like China, India, and Brazil is more than compensating for the fall in demand in the US and EU.

And also, OPEC's demand for its own oil is rising rapidly, meaning the oil producing countries have less oil available to export to the oil consuming countries.


Thanks SO much for taking the time to explain about the geological origins of "oil sands." I learned a LOT from the thread that followed my question yesterday, under the pic of "man with ugly fish." THAT is why I read TOD. Much obliged.

AGU: Oil sands pollution comparable to a large power plant

It takes a lot of energy to extract heavy, viscous and valuable bitumen from Canada's oil sands and refine it into crude oil. Companies mine some of the sands with multi-story excavators, separate out the bitumen, and process it further to ease the flow of the crude oil down pipelines. About 1.8 million barrels of oil per day in 2010 were produced from the bitumen of the Canadian oil sands – and the production of those fossil fuels requires the burning of fossil fuels.

In the first look at the overall effect of air pollution from the excavation of oil sands, also called tar sands, in Alberta, Canada, scientists used satellites to measure nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide emitted from the industry. In an area 30 kilometers (19 miles) by 50 kilometers (31 miles) around the mines, they found elevated levels of these pollutants.

"For both gasses, the levels are comparable to what satellites see over a large power plant - or for nitrogen dioxide, comparable to what they see over some medium-sized cities," said Chris McLinden, a research scientist with Environment Canada, the country's environmental agency. "It stands out above what's around it, out in the wilderness, but one thing we wanted to try to do was put it in context."

As to the reasons behind oil prices...

Republicans blame Democrats and the EPA

Democrats blame Republicans and Speculators

Tyler Durden blames the "$2 trillion balance sheet expansion"

MSM blames Iran and an improving economy

Our very own Charles Mackay is pointing to true supply/demand problems.

And we wonder why Americans are so disillusioned/confused/flippant in regards to energy issues? Sad indeed.

"Above ground factors" will be to blame all the way down.


As a second Roadster owner discovered, the Tesla battery system can completely discharge even when the vehicle is plugged in. This owner’s car was plugged into a 100-foot long extension cord for an extended period. The length of this extension cord evidently reduced the electric current to a level insufficient to charge the Tesla, resulting in another “bricked” Roadster.

I just read that article on evworld.com and I was shocked: http://evworld.com/news.cfm?newsid=27447

I was seriously considering buying a Nissan Leaf which has a Li ion battery similar to Tesla. Apparently this is a problem with all Li ion batteries. If you let the battery discharge completely, it dies and must be replaced.

Consider the following scenario:
1. You drive to work and back on Friday and your battery is 70% depleted.
2. You forget to plug in your car
3. On Saturday morning you leave for a 2 week vacation
4. When you are back you discover that your battery is completely discharged and your car has turned into a brick.

I guess I will go for a Prius which does not have this problem since it does not use Li ion batteries.

It sounds like a Tesla specific issue. LiIon batterys can recover from a deep discharge, but it takes a special very slow charge cycle. The article spends a lot of time talking about the issue of getting stranded and not being able to tow the car away, which sounds like the main point. I guarantee I could fix one of those battery packs for a lot less then $32,000, that part is just ridiculous.

NiMH batteries are touchy, too. I don't know about the comparative cost.

Edison developed the nickle-iron battery for electric cars. Spent $3,000,000 doing it: a big investment back then. The batteries are big, but rugged. There are newer versions.

If the need arose, would you put the overhead wires back up and run electric trolly cars? Old-school batteries would be just fine for the trip to and from the electrified main streets. The weight and cost of the vehicles could go way down.

You could put the overhead wires up and run electric trolley cars, but the new versions are called low-floor light rail vehicles and are much more passenger friendly:

FLEXITY Freedom - the made-in-North America LRV of the future.

Designed for passenger-friendly service

  • 100% low-floor, entirely step-free interior
  • Extra-wide 2.65m (8’ 8½”) carbody
  • Two-by-two seating and maximized aisle width
  • Easy to configure interior layout
  • Designed for operational flexibility
  • Adapted for urban and suburban rail networks
  • Trains can be either uni- or bi-directional
  • Can be coupled to form trains of up to 4 cars
  • Capacity of more than 30,000 passengers per hour, per direction
  • Optional 100% catenary-free operation

Not that I'm promoting any particular model of LRV, there are lots of different designs that transit systems could choose from if only they had the money to run something other than diesel buses. They seem to be the ideal commuter vehicle for the post-peak-oil era.

EV's, I fear, are going to become the playthings of the 1%, LRV's will be the vehicle for the 99%, assuming the 99% have jobs and can afford to do anything more than walk.

You could put the overhead wires up and run electric trolley cars,

Or go a RUF style http://www.ruf.dk

EV's, I fear, are going to become the playthings of the 1%

And at the point where the roads are no longer something you get utility from - how much support will there be for the "public" funding of roads?

Well, at that point the roads will begin to deteriorate, as if they are not already starting to deteriorate in the US because Americans are not willing to pay enough in gasoline taxes to maintain them.

Roads are very expensive to keep up, particularly in the US, where they were never built to the same standards as the German Autobahns, for instance. The design life of the US Interstate highways and freeways is about 15 years, and if you don't rebuild them every 15 years they will fall apart.

And the price of maintaining asphalt roads is rising rapidly with the price of oil.

As does the price of concrete pavement.

I assume that it is diesel powered? Found the answer: Nope.

A catenary-free power transfer system uses covered induction loops on the rail bed as its energy source (or overhead lines)

PRIMOVE Catenary-Free Technology:

They have an animation here that shows how the induction system works;

doing indcution loops buried between the tracks has been been tried before, but was given up as too expensive.

I'm sure it is still very expensive today...
Still, once it is ion, the same loops can be used to recharge electric buses, trucks and cars...

As an alternative, where you have existing tracks and can;t retrofit induction or overhead wires, you could have this not quite so sexy but much cheaper LRV;

[Parry People Movers]
It uses the engine from a Ford Fiesta and a flywheel energy recovery system coupled to the hydrostatic transmission (the half ton weight of the 1m diameter flywheel is not an issue for a train) . It can accelerate faster than a diesel railcar, is much lighter (so can be used on old, light duty lines, or newly built light lines) and is much cheaper than the Bombardier units.

It also gets 15mpg - while transporting up to 50 passengers! 3x better than a Prius with four people on board.

The flywheel system could also be set up to be charged from an electrical pickup at each stop, giving it about 800m range between stops, though this could easily be extended with some batteries or (better) ultracapacitors (which is what i think the Bombardier train is using).

I like the concept of these trains as they are cheap - less than $1m each. and can immediately be out to work using existing rail lines, even ones that have been downgraded and can;t take heavy trains. Building new rail lines for these is also very cheap, as the lines can be very lightweight, and bridges etc do not need to be overbuilt.

In other words, they are an affordable retrofit option.

The Bombardier system is a great option too, but will be an order of magnitude more expensive.

Overhead wires work extremely well, are safe, and are cheap. The only reason you would want to eliminate them in an urban environment is that someone thinks they look unsightly and doesn't understand the cost, safety, or reliability problems with putting the power source in the railbed. This is a problem with letting amateurs design a light rail system.

In my experience, people don't really notice the overhead wires because the urban environment is already very cluttered, the wires blend in fairly well, and they frankly don't really care. What they are looking for is a fast, smooth, efficient ride.

Yes, they work well, are safe, can be made not unsightly, but cheap?

They should be, but aren't.

For the 2010 Olympics, Bombardier convinced the City iof Vancouver to do (=pay for) a demonstration run of its Flexity train.

There is an existing rail line that runs from Granville Island to near the Olympic Village (the line used to run all the way to the Main St Skytrain station, but that segment was torn up for the olympic village construction. they did leave a median ROW for laying down tracks in the future)

This line already has a vintage, electric, tram that runs on it.

So, the cot to upgrade the 1.1miles of track for the Flexity train?
It was $8.5m - to upgrade a track that was already there, and electrified!

The cost for the whole project - to complete the remaining 1.4 miles to Skytrain station, plus three trains and a maintenance facility, was an eye watering $90m. That makes it $98.5m for 2.5 miles.

To use the Parry type trains (they can come in low floor versions, and with classic or modern styling) would only have required laying light duty tracks, and no electrification, and could have used the site of the existing maintenance shed for the streetcar. Probably could have been done for $9m instead of $90.

Any project involving Bombardier trains is so expensive you'd think it was a military budget - that is why they don;t get to do too many projects.

The cost for a mile of two-track light rail, including power supply, is typically about the same as for two lane-miles of freeway - about $25 million per mile. Costs of course vary depending on circumstances, but $98.5m for 2.5 miles is not totally out of line.

If somebody quotes a price of 1/10 that, the first question to ask is, "What are you sacrificing for that price?" It's important to know.

You can build a freeway much cheaper by, for instance, using a gravel roadbed instead of a paved surface, but that defeats the whole purpose of a freeway.

The use of a buried rather than overhead power supply for a light rail system will typically double the cost of the system. Putting the tracks underground (which the current mayor of Toronto seems to think is the only way to go) will typically quadruple the cost of the system, and might increase it much more if tunneling conditions are bad.

Keep in mind that 1.1 of the miles is already done, and you then have$90m for 1.4 miles and three trains...

What would be sacrificed by using the Parry type trains at 1/10th cost?

Well, you don't have to overbuild the tracks to start with. I saw their refurbishment - concrete sleepers and 120lb/yd rail, heavy duty overhead electrification (like the C-train) - that is the same stuff used for mainline. The Parry system can use much cheaper 60lb rail, and with the < a href="http://www.parrypeoplemovers.com/holdfast_tramwaytrack.htm>carpet track system, can be laid in removable sections so that you do not have to relocate all underground services. Preparation of the subgrade is far simpler too.

Then you don;t have to electrify, and have everything that goes with that.

The maintenance shop can be smaller - on the footprint of the existing one - the Bombardier needed more land - and that waterfront land in Vancouver is not cheap.

And you are not paying all this for a system that can move 10,000-30,000 people per hour, on a line that is likely to only need to move 1-3,000 at best.

Finally, if the Parry system was used, then you could also buy another one or two of them, and run them on the disused 9km long Arbutus line, which terminates at Granville Island. With Bombardier, you would need to upgrade and electrify all of that length, again for a line that would be relatively light traffic.

The Flexity train is great where you need to move 30,000pph, but where you only need to move 1/10th of that, why not go with a system that is also 1/10 the cost?

Otherwise you end up with what there is now - no train and 1 1/2 rail lines just sitting there.

The Parry system falls into a category known as "Ultra-Light Rail Transit", and the question about ULRT is, "Why don't you just use a bus?" You can put in electric trolley buses and avoid the cost of laying rails, or put in a hybrid bus and avoid both the cost of both rails and wires. If you have low passenger volumes, buses work perfectly well. It is only where the passenger volumes get high (>2000 passengers per direction per day) that rail systems become economic and buses start to get overloaded.

The tradeoff between bus and rail is mostly labor cost, because at 1 driver per 40 passenger bus, you need far more drivers than 1 driver per 160 passenger LRV or 1 driver per 800-passenger 5-car LRT train. The trouble with ULRT is that the labor costs fall in the same range as buses, but infrastructure costs are getting up into the LRT range.

At far as track is concerned, I'm not too sure about 60 lb./yd. track. It might not be very durable in heavy service. Even 80 lb. rail has been known to fail after less than a year in service. The North American standard for LRT track is 115 RE rail, which weighs 115 lb./yd. It has been shown to be heavy enough for any LRT system and is widely available at reasonable prices.

An interesting new product is something the Brits came up with, LR55 track . LR stands for "Light Rail" and I assume it is in metric, 55 kg/m, which is about the same as 115 lb./yd. The main advantage is that track can be laid into a trench cut into existing pavement without modifying the roadbed or moving the underground utilities. This makes it a lot quicker and cheaper to install where you just want to run an LRT system down an existing street. No more digging up the entire street, just cut a couple of trenches and lay down the track.

Now, you could run some kind of internal combustion engine LRV down these tracks, but I would recommend going the full distance and hanging the overhead wires. Electric motors last much longer and take much less maintenance than ICE's, and then there is this whole Peak Oil thing to worry about if you don't go all-electric.

"why don;t you just use a bus"

Well, sure, but in this case, those two lines are already there, so the trains are not subject to Vancouver traffic. In the case of a link to Granville Island, where you are going there to enjoy yourself, having to go from the Skytrain to a bus for that leg of the trip makes the whole experience much less pleasant.

Mot only that, but the line runs from Granville Island, right past the Olympic Village stn on the Canada line and then on to the Main St/Science world Skytrain stn. It would allow switch from one line to the other without having to ride right into the city, and connect both lines to Granville Island.

I'd say that is worth doing - but not worth $90m. This is a much cheaper alternative.

Not only that, trains/trams always attract a higher ridership than buses - riding train can be enjoyable - no one ever said the same about a bus.

The Parry system can be made for larger trains, of course, but what I like is that you don;t have to start out with that. Start out with one or two of the 80pp units and s

At far as track is concerned, I'm not too sure about 60 lb./yd. track. It might not be very durable in heavy service.

Well, that's the point of using ultra light trains. 60lb has been used in lots of mining operations for a long time - it is fine if the loads are appropriate.

As for the ICE, in this case, you could do a larger version of the charge-at station system. The low speed and flat track of this line make it ideal for that.

There is still space for innovative solutions in rail transit - presently we have a case where even LRT is getting too expensive, and a bus is not much of an improvement, and still subject to the traffic that train travellers seek to avoid. I think ULRT fills that gap nicely.

The San Diego Trolley. Sixty miles of light rail powered by overhead wires. The trolley provides low cost(subsidized)transport from the border with Mexico(!Hola Tijuana!) to the city of San Diego, two schools(City College and California State University San Diego), shopping and entertainment districts, and to the bedroom communities of Santee and El Cajon.
It's great if you live/work near a station, but like most of South California the other public transport options are limited or lacking and driving a car is the way to go.


Actually, it is 53 miles according to the SDMTs Fact Sheet.

That sheet also says they 91,000 riders on a weekday, or about 1700 per day per track mile - not that well utilised.
Actually, the up to date report from the APTA says the ridership is 133,000 per day, so 2500 per track-mile.

[For comparison, the Calgary system has 29miles of track and carries 300,000 per weekday, for 10,300 per track-mile.]

And they (San Diego) need a staff of 462(!) to do so! 70 of them are on maintenance of the 8 trains!

It all sounds like a typical very expensive government paid for system...

This is why I like the Parry system - simple stuff. A Ford mechanic can work on the Fiesta engine. The bogies are similar to that used on light duty freight cars, and can be sent to a freight rail co for maintenance (can even get there under its own power!).
You only need a few staff to operate the thing. IF it was the same 8.7 staff per track mile as the San Diego one, the Vancouver project would need 20 staff, and I think it could actually be done with half that.

There is no question that light rail is good at moving people. But keeping the capital costs down is the challenge...

doing induction loops buried between the tracks has been been tried before, but was given up as too expensive.

Plus the inefficiency of induction power transfer negates any potential gain by using electric in the first place.

Just because it works for a stove(MM's of distance to travel), doesn't mean it will work road to vehicle.

Transfer of energy works better with a waveguide.

A wire is a fine waveguide. An induction loop? Not so much.

And if the EM effects biology people are right - large induction loops would be an issue if they are correct.

The control system only energises the loop that is actually under the train. Above the pick-up loop in the train is the metal body of the train itself, which will function as a Faraday Cage, so there won't be any EMF on the people.

From a physics point of view, it's an elegant system.
From an implementation point of view, I think it will be harder.

Much cheaper would be to have recharging done at the train stops, and have the train run autonomously between them. such a system could easily be retrofitted to existing networks.

If you had an entire transport system -trains, buses, trucks and cars, all using the same induction loops - as Bombardier proposes - then it might be worthwhile doing. But that is a complete replacement of all vehicles, and to have them all using the same, standardised, pick-up system. What are the chances of that happening anytime soon?

What would be really cool is if one lane on our freeways had a power source so that electric cars could charge while on the road.

Something like this....


It would pretty much solve the long distance travel issue for electric vehicles.

Very nice. Are any of these in actual service?

Not in "actual" service...

They have an 800m long pilot project in Germany for the train, and are doing another one in Belgium for the bus.

Now, why they don;t implement their own idea and show the bus can work on the same loops as the train, and do both pilots in the same place, I have no idea.

But this is Bombardier - they are possibly the worlds foremost company at extracting money from governments for their projects, so I'm guessing that Belgium paid them to do it.

In any case, these have not yet been proven in actual revenue service, nor is there any information being put out about the likely cost to build this - which tells you something...

I hasten to point out that I am not in any sense promoting Bombardier. I just pointed out that they are one of the manufacturers of transit vehicles that any Peak-Oil aware government should look at. (That would of course not include the current US government).

The North American standard for light rail vehicles has been Siemens, and they build some pretty darn good products, too. Any self-respecting transit system would try to play the two companies off against each other in the interests of getting the best deal, not ignoring other manufacturers, and of course having their lawyers carefully examine the sales contracts looking for "Gotcha's!"

I agree that the transit clients should encourage competition between B and S and others, but I do think that B, in particular, has been very good at playing the game.
It is too bad, in the case of Calgary, that the exercise of building the railcars there, as was done with the first Siemens ones, can;t be repeated with the Bombardier ones, but I guess Calgary doesn;t really need those jobs as much as Montreal does.

Calgary, Edmonton, and San Diego were the first three installations of modern light rail systems in North America, about 30 years ago, and the Calgary system is by far the most successful one.

Alberta could have acquired a Siemen's light rail manufacturing plant if it had shown a little interest at the time, but the Alberta government didn't feel like sweetening the pot by guaranteeing purchases of LRVs (which the cities bought anyway), so the light rail plant went to Sacramento, the capital of California, rather than Edmonton, the capital of Alberta. It now has about 800 employees and manufactures 1/3 of the light rail vehicles in North America.

After dealing with other provinces, companies find Alberta's disinterest in creating jobs disconcerting, but the government seems to think that Alberta already has enough jobs, and its objective is to stay ahead of the rather rapid economic development, particularly in the oil sands.

I don't think these particular units are in service yet, but according to the Web site the previous generation of maybe not quite so flashy light rail vehicles are in service in:

  • Adelaide, Australia
  • Augsburg, Germany
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Bremen, Germany
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Dessau, Germany
  • Dortmund, Germany
  • Dresden, Germany
  • Eskisehir, Turkey
  • Essen, Germany
  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • Geneva, Switzerland
  • Graz, Austria
  • Halle, Germany
  • Innsbruck, Austria
  • Kassel, Germany
  • Krakow, Poland
  • Leipzig, Germany
  • Linz, Austria
  • Lodz, Poland
  • Marseille, France
  • Milan, Italy
  • Palermo, Italy
  • Porto, Portugal
  • Schwerin, Germany
  • Strasbourg, France
  • Valencia and Alicante, Spain

My own experience with LRV's has been with the Siemens high-floor units, but I think ultimately the low-floor models are the way to go. It saves money in station costs because you can load directly from just a relatively high sidewalk. Siemens builds low-floor units, too, as do several other manufacturers.

Bombardier (through their acquisition of the German Adtranz company) has done a lot of those Euro train systems, and I'm sure they are all "successful" - though I am not sure if they were all "worth it".

In any case, the induction system is, at present, the train equivalent of a concept car. The train part is relatively easy, but what is the performance, maintenance and life of the in-rail induction loops ?

It seems a lot of complexity compared to station-stop charging.

I do agree with the low floor configuration - for streetcars, this is the way to go -the Portland one is very nice. If Calgary was building the LRT today, that is what it would do, but the low floor trains weren't around when they did, and it's too much trouble to change now.

Yes, the induction system is a waste of time to pursue. There have been other ground-level power supply systems in the past, but they have all been compromised by the need not to electrocute pedestrians. The overhead wire systems don't have that problem unless the pedestrians are carrying aluminum ladders.

Calgary would probably have built its system with low-floor trains if they had been available at the time. Now that it is fully functional, it isn't worth the cost to lower the platforms for low-floor trains.

OTOH, Edmonton is talking about going to low-floor trains for additions to its system. However its system has the problem that its LRV's can't operate in streetcar mode anyway - they built it around a subway concept. So, if they build another cross-line, they will use low-floor LRVs for it, and not use them on their subway system. Essentially it will be two different rail transit systems that just happen to cross, one at grade and one underground..

That's all well and good, but it probably won't get suyog to that vacation site, since it almost certainly doesn't go very far (if at all) beyond city limits.

Maybe there's a cultural issue; Americans tend to say they want to get away from the crowd when they go on vacation. Almost by definition, that's not overly practicable on mass transit.

I suspect the problem has been overhyped, (there are political enemies of these things, and they aren't above lying to smear them).
I can't imagine they don't come with a battery charge display, so you ought to know where you are charge wise.

You drive to work and back ad your battery is 70% depleted, but you forget to plug in your car? Say what???

This is not going to happen.

I have a Leaf (and love it). It becomes natural to plug in right after you pull into your driveway (only takes a few seconds). You aren't going to forget.

I haven't noticed any tendency to self-discharge. If we haven't driven far and don't plan to, I put off charging until next time. I haven't noticed any self-discharge. NiMH batteries naturally self-discharge; my ebike with LiFePO4 batteries holds lots of charge after a month's vacation.

I have a Leaf (and love it).

When gasoline hits $5/gallon this summer, who is going to have the last laugh?
You or your "economical" friends who said an EV wasn't "worth it"?

I pay $8.50 for diesel, for a car larger than the leaf, that cost a lot less to buy. As I get over 50mpg (US), it is still more economic
than the leaf for the miles I do, about half of which are long journeys not possible yet by EV.

I will probably buy a plug in hybrid one day, but the right vehicle hasn't been built yet. I think China builds one that gets close, so maybe in another 5 years. However, a lot can happen in 5 years....

(My ideal car would be about leaf sized but longer, with more cargo space, EV range about 50 miles with a cheap small (500cc?) ICE to recharge the batteries on the move for longer range. Even if the ice was too small to fully recharge the batteries on the move, it would be more practical to lay up for an hour every 1-200 miles whilst the ice caught up with the rate of discharge, than hunt for an EV recharge point. After all, at 50 mph on the open road (level ground, no headwind) my car current returns up to 100 mpg . It wouldn't take much of an ICE to sustain that level of power.

100 mpg is pretty impressive. In terms of US mpg, that would be 83mpg, and in terms of petrol equivalent would be 75USmpg - three times the US average of 23mpg.

Also, at that rate, you are burning 2.2L/hr, and with diesel at 36MJ/L, you are using fuel at 22kW.
Assuming the engine is 35%efficient, the power output is all of 7.7kW - 10hp. Less than any ride on lawnmower!

Also, if that was an electric motor, with the Leaf size battery pack of 24kWh, you should get three hours = 150 miles.

In fact, you are getting 6.5miles/kWh of engine power. The Leaf gets about 4.

Part of the problem for the Leaf is that it weighs about 3300lbs!

But back to your original point, it could indeed be small, lightweight engine and gen to give you a sustained 10kW.
couple that with, say, an 8kWh battery pack (cost about $5k) and you would have a range of 50miles on elec alone, and unlimited with the engine running (at 50mph).

The trick is to keep everything lightweight (and cheap) something neither the Leaf nor Volt achieves..

What is the range under worst possible conditions?

Well, I don't know. We have never driven it close to running out.

We get an average of 4.1 miles/KWH with both me and my wife driving it. When driving it by myself, I averaged 4.4 miles/KWH. Both of those are consistent with a range of 100 miles on a 24 KWH battery.

It has a good A/C, and that does not seem to decrease range much, even when it is 105 as it was last summer.

The length of this extension cord evidently reduced the electric current to a level insufficient to charge the Tesla

What he's trying to say is that there was insufficient voltage at the end of the extention cord to charge the Lithium Ion batteries. In other words, the resistance in the cord was great enough to significantly reduce the voltage at the outlet end of the cord.

I have trouble believing that this could be true. As the batteries discharge, their voltage drops, which would lead to greater voltage difference between the end of the cord and the battery terminal, which would in turn increase the charge rate. I think this story is bogus. Maybe an eletrical engineer here ar TOD could fill us in.

If it isn't charging, there should be very little current draw, thus very little voltage drop (V=IR). Maybe he ahd a break in the cord, and didn't know it. Or the ground fault isolation thingy had shut down the plug (i never know this till I test to see if it works).

Ding! A winner.

Just like the 'this switch shut off the e-cat' reply with a circuit showing how the meter could read zero yet still be passing current. A wiring fault unknown to the end observer.

Li packs want the batteries to have the same voltage across each cell - to that end they have resistors that 'bleed' off current to equalise voltage.

one can 'hack' battery packs - microcode can make a pack be labelled "dead" and has been demonstrated at devcon/blackhat style conferences.

In other words, the resistance in the cord was great enough to significantly reduce the voltage at the outlet end of the cord.

Probably the charger saw the reduced power and cut off for safety reasons. A loose connection that could start a fire would look similar to the charger.

I can see banks refusing to give loans on Tesla's.

Not a good counter argument at all. Just some ones opinion.

I have played with some Lithium Ion batteries from e-bay. I managed to quickly kill 2 out of 4 in a bank by discharging too deeply.

In a Tesla, even if only a few cells die, the labor of individually accessing and testing every one of the 8000 cells would be very expensive.

Never said it was good - just that it is a counter. In the interest of being fair and balanced.

I would think it should be possible to design it such that a diagnostic could quickly isolate any bad apples. Perhaps even bypass them to operate in some sort of degraded mode until you can get it to the shop.

Lab-grown meat

Growing artificial muscle in the lab.

"During a recent press conferance which took place in Canada Professor Mark Post from the Maastricht University in the Netherlands, claimed artificial meat can potentially reduce the environmental footprint of meat by up to sixty percent."

The meat without the bones, organs, or head. Since the power-broker's stated* requirements for an opposition candidate are spineless, heartless, and brainless, this could be the perfect solution.


*With video and audio:

I'd rather eat veggies...

"This is the latest," said Crake.
What they were looking at was a large bulblike object that seemed to be covered with stippled whitish-yellow skin. Out of it came twenty thick fleshy tubes, and at the end of each tube another bulb was growing.

"What the hell is it?" said Jimmy.

"Those are chickens," said Crake. "Chicken parts. Just the breasts, on this one. They've got ones that specialize in drumsticks too, twelve to a growth unit."

"But there aren't any heads..."

"That's the head in the middle," said the woman. "There's a mouth opening at the top, they dump nutrients in there. No eyes or beak or anything, they don't need those."


From Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood (2003).

Food Project Proposes Matrix-Style Vertical Chicken

... Ford goes a step further and proposes a “Headless Chicken Solution.” This would involve removing the cerebral cortex of the chicken to inhibit its sensory perceptions so that it could be produced in more densely packed conditions without the associated distress. The brain stem for the chicken would be kept intact so that the homeostatic functions continue to operate, allowing it to grow.

After this “desensitization,” the chickens could then be stacked into huge urban farms with around 1,000 chickens hooked up to large vertical frames — a little like the network of pods the humans are connected to in The Matrix. The feet of the chickens would also be removed in order to pack more in. There could be dozens of these frames in the vertical farming system, which Ford refers to as the Centre for Unconscious Farming. Food, water and air would be delivered via a network of tubes and excrement would be removed in the same way. This technique could achieve a density of around 11.7 chickens per cubic meter instead of the current 3.2 chickens achieved in broiler houses.

A challenge for Ford’s system would be the lack of muscular stimulation. However, Ford proposes using electric shocks similar to that used in other lab meat experiments.

PETA Alert !!

It's so sick it's making me laugh. Unconscious farming?

Maybe their slogan should be:
'Souless chickens, providing the McNuggets of tomorrow'

"Alright, something went wrong there. That one died from too much electrical stimulation of the muscles - let's try injecting more electrolytes."

I can remember a firm in England many decades ago breed a chicken without feathers. They were hoping to save money not having to pluck it. The law of unintended consequences kicked in. It cost them more money just keeping them warm.

Then there was the 3 legged chicken they bred so that there would be 3 drumsticks for ma, pa and the kid. They never found out what it tasted like as it was run fast to catch.



It's also interesting to note the ironic and misplaced use of the term 'desensitization' ...

".. so that they don’t experience the horrors of being packed together tightly in vertical farms.

...To meet the rising demand for meat, particularly poultry, and to improve the welfare of the chickens by desensitizing them to the unpleasant reality of their existence."

how sensitive and compassionate. Try a little Tenderness! Try it in the sauce!!

yes, one of my favourites of his.

That guy was a genius... in an "out there" way.

"in an "out there" way."

I guess that happens to old entomologists who don't want to work in pesticides.

Fed's Fishers on CNBC this am Dallas Federal Reserve President said oil is very helpful for Texas but it's only 2% of the Texas economy.We have many other businesses that are the bulk of the Texas economy.I'm going to let other here with much better writing skills than mine expand on this.We need to find out what the other 98% use to run their business.

here is an interesting piece on the TX economy. it focusses more in employment stats than sectoral output (PDF)

Below is a piece from the Dallas fed. When you go to the last slide you'll see TX exports (not production) by sector.

On chart 2 you can see the percentage of output of slices of the TX oil industry.


vapor - Couldn't find a comparison with other sectors but found this: So if both are correct and oil makes up just 2% then the Texas economy is knocking out $8.6 trillion per year. So be nice to us and we might pay off the national debt for you in a couple of years.


Texas' 26 refineries lead the nation in both crude oil production and refining, generating more than 4.7 million barrels of crude oil a day and accounting for 27 percent of the nation's total capacity.

Texas is the only state with its own power grid, making it free from federal regulation over electrical transmission and expediting the regulatory process for new energy development.

Texas is a major nuclear power generating state with almost 5000 MW of installed nuclear power capacity generated at two plants, The Comanche Peak project and the South Texas Project.

Home to the two largest wind farms in the world, Roscoe Wind Farm and Horse Hollow Wind Farm, Texas leads the nation in wind energy production.

The energy sector contributes more than $172 billion to the Texas economy.

Rock,that was 8-10% of gdp and 2% employed for Texas about the 3 minute mark http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000074867

Texas is the biggest energy producer (just above WY) AND biggest energy consumer state in the country. Texas produces less than half as much nuclear electricity as a share of consumption than the U.S. ex-Texas and almost no hydro. It also has lower coal electricity share (despite being the largest coal consumer and largest interstate coal importer in the country). Most of the imports are from WY's PRB (rail transport is the majority of cost). Incidentally, the closest large coal mines (over 4 million tons) producing cheap coal (outside Texas) to East Texas are in southern Illinois (but that coal has high sulfur so can now only cheaply be burnt in a plant with a scrubber due to SOx cap and trade markets). Texas is significantly more reliant on natural gas for electricity production than most other states (which briefly resulted in higher average retail electricity rates than CA a few years ago when gas was high), but of course has local production and cheap gas currently. Texas has more wind production than the next two states (IA and CA) combined, but wind's share of production is lower than many other states, and very little wind was built last year (about a 3% increase in capacity) due to delays in transmission construction to bring West Texas wind to East Texas load centers. Similar issues in CA (congested transmission due to wind built during the previous boom) allowed Texas and IA to pass industry pioneer CA as the number 1 and number 2 wind producers over the past 5 years (in 2006 and 2008 respectively). Last year (after the first phase of a multi-billion dollar transmission project was completed) was the first year of the ongoing wind boom when CA installed more wind than any other state again. I would expect CA to catch IA this year and make up significant ground on TX. What happens after this year is dependent on federal incentive policy.

RIP: Peak Oil - we won't be running out any time soon

Yet Peak Oil isn't the only casualty of recent energy developments. The death of Peak Oil kicks away the underpinnings from a great deal of policy-making by our bureaucracies and their advisers. Over the past two decades, we've seen the mushrooming of the "sustainability" sector, which is almost completely dependent on state funding and which shares similar erroneous assumptions.

The proposition we're invited to accept in each case is that modern industrial society is founded on a resource which is being depleted and which cannot be easily replaced. The second part of that is rather crucial. Peak Oil thinking was based on the idea that crude oil couldn't be replaced by unconventional oil and, in time, with synthetic hydrocarbons. We're now seeing unconventional oil production ramp up, and in a decade the low-carbon synthetic replacements for oil will be in production, too, assuming oil remains at $40-$50 a barrel.

The deeper problem shared by both "sustainability" and "Peak Oil" thinking is that both camps insists on thinking of a resource not as a vector, but as a thing - a thing that's rare, unique and irreplaceable.

It's a must read. Oil production is far more contingent on upstream investment than many people realise. When it does respond, it responds rapidly; the US well count has increased 500 per cent in three years.


...so an increase in well count of 500% results in barely a 10% increase in production over the same period. "Responds rapidly?!"

This is what "Peak Oil" looks like...

Ghung - And: "Oil production is far more contingent on upstream investment than many people realise". What "people" are they? The upstream oil patch is by definition who drills all the wells. So unless you talking about scooping oil out of a surface seep all oil production is contigent entirely on upstream investments.

And a "500% increase in three years". Do these folks even bother to do a 30 second net search? Current rig count (ihttp://www.wtrg.com/rigs_graphs/rigus.gif) is around 2,000. Lowest rig count in the last 3 years: 1,000. So that's a 100% increase. And that only lasted a couple of months. The lowest count in the last 39 years was about 500 in '99. Even that's only a 400% increase. As a rough average the rig rig count has been around 1,500 for the last 5 years. So it's more like a 33% increase has given us a 10% increase in production.

And I'm still cutting them a lot of slack: they said "well count" which implies the number of wells producing. Obvious nothing remotely close to that sort of increase. I'm assuming they meant rig count.

A better look at what peak oil looks. Data is from the EIA in thousands of barrels per day. The last data point is 2011 eleven month average through November. The new EIA data is out today with the November data. International Energy Statistics


Ron P.

Oil Tanker Tracker ‘Oil Movements’ Sees Continued Fall in OPEC Exports

If you thought OPEC would ‘make up’ for any fall in sanctioned Iranian oil exports, well, think again. Since the start of the year OPEC oil exports have been in a gradual, but sustained, downturn. This may be somewhat surprising as Libya has made a swift post-war recovery – up to 80% of pre-war export rate – which should have resulted in increased, not decreased, overall OPEC exports.
In addition, the major media has told us that since the December 2011 OPEC meeting that OPEC had ‘failed’ to restrain oil production, that Saudi Arabia would ‘ramp up’ oil output at the first sign Iranian exports were lagging, and in general, oil was ‘over-priced’ and Saudi Arabia wanted to restrain the price of oil from exceeding $100.

OPEC oil exports are about 23.27 mbpd level, down about 400,000 bpd from the level that prevailed about two months ago. In general, OPEC exports are now running about 800,000 bpd less than a peak about one year ago - which is a significantly greater amount than the 300,000 bpd fall in Libya’s oil exports in the same time period.

OPEC Shipments Drop as ‘Spring Trough’ Nears, Oil Movements Says
February 23, 2012, 11:52 AM EST

This is probably one of the best games out there on the market today, it effectively deals with the disconnect between peoples lives and their impact on the world.



I suggest you all give it a try if you can as it is flash based browser game and free to boot!

For Paul aka hereinhalifax

Hey ho..

Another led question.

Have you tried the led tape for under counter ops. The going price seems to be between 15-17 dollars per lineal foot...plus supply, connectors, etc. That would be tape as opposed to the mentioned slim line fixtures.

Thanks in advance....Paulo

I've been putting in some of that material.

This picture has the Left and Center Cupboards lit with Warm White LEDs, and the Righthand one was still the 8" t5 Fluoros.

They seem good so far. I stuck the tape into a shallow plastic Track that was left over from a window replacement, and they are all wired to a single Wall-Wart (just right of the Microwave) with switches for each section.

I'll be putting a double-strip for the stove, as the distance and the stove-color leaves that part a little dimmer. But the Cost for the roughly 16watts of leds that will finally be there comes to less than $10/US (Amazon sells reels of these for $12-20 each) .. and the small profile offers some great opportunities. Putting these right up at the near edge of the Cabinet, showing just that little, 1/2" edge, has allowed the light to fill the counter better than the 'backlit' feel of the bulkier Fluoro fixtures.



Thanks Bob and Paul

I think I will buy the tape on Monday.


Hi Paulo,

I'm afraid I haven't had the opportunity to use any as yet. Bob's definitely your go to guy on this one. Good luck.


Enbridge considering Prince Rupert for Northern Gateway pipeline terminus

In a conference call announcing Enbridge’s fourth-quarter results, CEO Pat Daniel said the company will look at ending the pipeline in Prince Rupert instead of Kitimat, where the project has faced staunch opposition from local First Nations and several environmental groups.

Prince Rupert, located about 110 kilometres north of Kitimat, was previously ruled out by Enbridge because it would require an 80-kilometre right-of-way extension along the Skeena River. Daniel said studies indicate that Kitimat is the better option for a terminus but that Enbridge wants to look at other possibilities:

“Recently, I have indicated that we will re-examine that to see whether there is another way to get to Prince Rupert, but all of our engineering and environmental studies continue to point in the direction of Kitimat being the best alternative,” Daniel said. “We want to make sure that we have thoroughly evaluated any and all routing opportunities.”

Yair...could anyone give an insight as to why in this era of diminishing recources there is such a race to deplete them as quickly as possible?

Coal and coalseam gas are the main recourses here and if they are not exploited today shurely they could be exploited tomorrow at (presumably) a higher value? In other words, for the good of the country wouldn't it be better to eke out the recources and keep folks in work for longer?

We have a situation where Indian interests have bought up coal country and there is even talk of them building an International airport at the site to fly workers in from Asia.

There is a huge disconnect between the mine workers and the rest of the community which flows on to all walks of life. For instance a three bedroom house in some of the mining towns rents for over two thousand dollars a week.

How can it be cost effective to pay workers such a wage that such nonsense is affordable?

The contagion is spreading to the coast. In our local town it is almost impossible to get any trade work done because all the hourly rates have been structured around contracting for the LNG projects...one hundred and fifty bucks an hour to do a little TIG welding on a twelve foot aluminium boat.

I have no objection to folks making decent money but the whole concept of "development" is getting out of hand.

Any comments?


Well, SP, the problem is that corporations own the resources, and the mining operations, and in fact the pretty much own the whole dang situation.

And, they have to report higher profits every quarter, or the directors and officers can't cash out big stock options. So, like most problems, if you want the answer, just follow the $$$$.


It's just like the Canadian oil sands. You have to pay $2,000 a week rent for a house, but if you're a welder, you can make $2,000 per day with overtime - so what's the problem?

It negatively impacts the economics of the projects, though, because if they try to build too many at once, wages go even higher.

There's not much chance of flying workers in from India. It's on the other side of the planet. There are lots of workers who fly in from the Atlantic provinces, though. They are only about 5,000 kilometers away. Fort McMurray is called "Newfoundland's second largest city", because there are so many Newfoundlanders working there, and there are direct flights From St. John's (Newfoundland's largest city) to Fort McMurray.

Since the cod fish are gone, the best thing available for them is working in the oil sands. Fly in for two weeks, do a little welding, make $20,000 or so, fly back and spend two weeks fishing and hanging out with the wife, kids, and friends. Repeat twice a month and make a few hundred thousand a year. It works for them.

Meme was kicked around here a week or so ago:

We must fish faster before they're all gone.

Seems exactly what to expect from monkey brains in an era of diminishing resources, tragic though it may be...

This one ?


The simple answer is India need the coal NOW but we Australian's don't need it YET (perhaps to our detriment further down the track).

My guess is the cattle station owners saw it as an offer too good to refuse AND there are no laws saying the Indians can't buy it and extract the coal.

As for the fly-in foreign workers ? - that probably wont go down too well, but there is a shortage of skilled workers in the mining industry. I guess we will see what the QLD government has to say.

As for the bigger question of long term strategic resource planning ?
With 3-4 year electoral cycles, it really just doesn't exist yet in any meaningful way.

And its not just coal that the foreigners want:


Scrub Puller:
"for the good"

It's not for the good. It is for the concentration of wealth to the few. The wealth that is concentrated is not available to the many or the future of the many.

I knew a rich crazy b^%+^>d who would go to the auto-salvage yards and rummage through the trunks of wrecked cars looking for old bottles of oil because it was cheaper than buying it new. I used to live a few mansions down from H.L. Hunt, the silver Barron... and, yes, he did drive an old beater car... I heard he took his lunch to work in an old paper bag... the same paper bag for many days. These people were crazy about money. I would not be expecting much "trickle down" from them.

In America's days of rapid growth after WWII, people making huge money were taxed at 90+%. Rather than simply accumulating money, a good portion of the money flowed into enterprise.

Coal and coalseam gas are the main recourses here and if they are not exploited today shurely they could be exploited tomorrow at (presumably) a higher value? In other words, for the good of the country wouldn't it be better to eke out the recources and keep folks in work for longer?

Maybe, but it also means fewer folks working today. Is it better for fewer folks to work longer, or more folks today and much fewer tomorrow? There's no right answer. Because of the time-value of money, humans tend towards the latter arrangement.

How can it be cost effective to pay workers such a wage that such nonsense is affordable?


The next worker to be hired may bring in $100 an hour. Paying him or her $80 may seem ridiculous but actually makes perfect sense.

Microeconomics is really enlightening stuff, and I think you would benefit from learning a bit of it. A lot of it is counterintuitive, but it does explain markets fairly well. I wouldn't worry too much with macroeconomics, which is something more like alchemy than an actual science.

The BBC actually did a good programme on Fukushima tonight. Inside the Meltdown.


I missed it, I had on NHK instead. But NHK had a similar story, TEPCO allowed some journalists in bunny suits to report on it. Pictures of workers in suits working on the reactor buildings. They said there were something like 3000 workers on site, but some aren't allowed to work any longer because they already exceeded their rad exposure limits. Plus a comment, that with the suits plus breathers -even on a cold day, they were sweating like pigs after an hour. Definitely looks like unpleasant, as well as dangerous work.

Transport Canada OK's Northern Gateway supertankers

Transport Canada has "no regulatory concerns" with Enbridge's proposed marine operations for the Northern Gateway Pipeline, clearing the way for supertankers to carry Canadian crude across the Pacific.

In a statement issued Thursday, Transport Canada said it has finished its review of the proposed tanker traffic that would sail through waters of B.C.'s North Coast, taking crude from the Alberta oilsands to overseas markets in China.

"While there will always be residual risk in any project, after reviewing the proponent's studies and taking into account the proponent's commitments, no regulatory concerns have been identified for the vessels, vessel operations, the proposed routes, navigability, other waterway users and the marine terminal operations associated with vessels supporting the Northern Gateway Project," said Transport Canada.

The high price of losing manufacturing jobs: research

... what do the cold, hard numbers reveal? How has the rise in foreign manufacturing competition actually affected the U.S. economy and its workers?

The disappearance of U.S. manufacturing jobs frequently leaves former manufacturing workers unemployed for years, if not permanently, while creating a drag on local economies and raising the amount of taxpayer-borne social insurance necessary to keep workers and their families afloat.

Geographically, the research shows, foreign competition has hurt many U.S. metropolitan areas — not necessarily the ones built around heavy manufacturing in the industrial Midwest, but many areas in the South, the West and the Northeast, which once had abundant manual-labor manufacturing jobs, often involving the production of clothing, footwear, luggage, furniture and other household consumer items. Many of these jobs were held by workers without college degrees, who have since found it hard to gain new employment.

Autor notes, when a large manufacturer closes its doors, "it does not simply affect an industry, but affects a whole locality."

"Trade tends to create diffuse beneficiaries and a concentration of losers," Autor says. "All of us get slightly cheaper goods, and we're each a couple hundred dollars a year richer for that." But those losing jobs, he notes, are "a lot worse off."

also Companies looking at a more regional approach to manufacturing

Study shows Maya civilization collapse related to modest rainfall reductions

... "Our results show rather modest rainfall reductions between times when the Classic Maya Civilization flourished and its collapse – between AD 800-950. These reductions amount to only 25 to 40 per cent in annual rainfall. But they were large enough for evaporation to become dominant over rainfall, and open water availability was rapidly reduced. The data suggest that the main cause was a decrease in summer storm activity."

'Storm of the century' may become 'storm of the decade'

The researchers report in the journal Nature Climate Change that projected increases in sea level and storm intensity brought on by climate change would make devastating storm surges — the deadly and destructive mass of water pushed inland by large storms — more frequent. Using various global climate models, the team developed a simulation tool that can predict the severity of future flooding an area can expect.

The researchers used New York City as a test case and found that with fiercer storms and a 3-foot rise in sea level due to climate change, "100-year floods" — a depth of roughly 5.7 feet above tide level that occurs roughly once a century — could more likely occur every three to 20 years. What today are New York City's "500-year floods" — or waters that reach more than 9 feet deep — could, with climate change, occur every 25 to 240 years, the researchers wrote.

The worst simulated flood, a 15.5-foot storm surge at Manhattan's Battery, stemmed from a high-intensity storm moving northeast and very close to the city. On the other hand, a weaker but larger northwest-bound storm that was further from the city resulted in floodwater nearly 15 feet deep as its strongest winds pushed water toward the Battery.

Floods of this magnitude outstrip the most devastating storm surges in the city's recorded history, Lin said. The worst accompanied the 1821 Norfolk and Long Island hurricane, which packed winds of 135 miles per hour and is one of only four hurricanes known to have made landfall in New York City since pre-Columbian times.

"The highest [surge flood] was 3.2 meters [10.4 feet], and this happened in 1821," Lin said. "That's the highest water level observed in New York City's history, which is like a present 500-year event."

Unstoppable: West Coast and Chicago wholesale gasoline prices rise again

Getting a feeling of déjà vu? Yes, it was only two days that I made a similar post on soaring gasoline prices.

No, the rise in gasoline prices was (mostly) not caused by speculators, big oil companies, or even Iran - but just low supplies.

An important refinery in Cherry Point, Washington may stay shut for up to six weeks, possibly even leading to not just very high prices - but shortages.

BP Refinery fire could boost gas prices in Wash.

Los Angeles Gasoline Rises After California Fuel Supply Drops
By Lynn Doan - Feb 23, 2012 6:12 PM ET

Chicago gasoline surges, sellers absent

Yes, but in the Rocky Mountain states they've kind of missed the whole thing:

The Dis-United States of Gas Prices: Why Fuel Is So Cheap in Denver
Thanks to America's overwhelmed oil pipelines, some lucky drivers in the Rockies are getting a big discount on gas.

Right now, it's very, very good to be a commuter in Colorado.

Gas prices have been on the rise for the past two months, as the international game of chicken between the West and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program has sent global price of crude oil up above $120 a barrel. In California, an average gallon of fuel now costs more than $4. In New York, it's about $3.90. Even in Houston, the gas-pumping heart of U.S. refining capacity, motorists are paying more than $3.50. The run-up has many contemplating whether gas prices could break the U.S. economic recovery, as they nearly did in 2011.

Yet up in the Rockies, as well as in parts of the Midwest, motorists have been getting spared, relatively speaking. As the map below from Gas Buddy shows, prices in states such as Colorado, Idaho, and Utah are lagging well behind the national average of $3.65. As the U.S. Energy Information Administration points out, prices in the Rocky Mountain region were actually falling towards the end of January, even as the rest of the country saw average fuel costs tick up.

Right now, the United States has a big glut of crude oil sitting in the middle of the country, and no easy way to move it. The combination of surging production from Canada's tar sands and North Dakota's Bakken region has overwhelmed the existing pipelines to the Gulf of Mexico, where it would ordinarily be refined and shipped onto the global market. As a result, the price of American and Canadian crude oil is trading at a steep discount to varieties from elsewhere in the world. After all, with fewer potential customers, oil buyers can dictate friendlier prices. West Texas Intermediate, which is traditionally considered a benchmark variety of crude used to price other types, is selling for about $106 a barrel. But according to Oil Price Information Service analyst Tom Kloza, oil from North Dakota has recently been selling for around $83 a barrel. Canadian crude has been trading for even less.

It's fairly easy to move gasoline around as I observed during Ike/Gustav. If the price differential is 50 cents then a tanker truck with 9,000 gallon capacity could make $4,500 taking gasoline from a region with high prices to a region to low prices.

Yes, but if it costs 50 cents per gallon to truck the gasoline to a coastal market and cell it for 50 cent per gallon more, the tank truck is making nothing.

As the Governor of Montana pointed out above, it costs producers in Montana $20 to $30 per barrel to move their oil to market by rail. That is 48 to 71 cents per gallon. The shipping costs on gasoline are not much different, and that is why the cost of gasoline in Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado is so much less than on the coasts.

The fundamental issue is that it is a lot cheaper to move oil and refined products by pipeline, if you have a pipeline.

also, different regions have different blending standards reducing liquidity in physical gasoline markets.

Nice graph!

Of course, it needs three more colors on top to show the $4.34 - $4.43 band which is where prices are here in Arcata/Eureka, CA ($4.40 when I came to work, and if the past week is anything to go by it will probably be higher when I go home).

An item on Chesapeake:


When Chesapeake announced its $10 billion to $12 billion monetization plan, curiously absent from assets it would seek to monetize was its acreage in the North Dakota shale play. The company had not too long ago talked about the North Dakota region as a potential joint venture opportunity. There have been reports in the industry that Chesapeake has given up on the two wells that it had been working on in the Williston, and on the conference call this week with analysts Chesapeake Energy sent a mixed message about the same North Dakota it had not long ago only been praising . . .

In the Niobrara shale, Chesapeake provided a similar note of disappointment amid optimism. "On the DJ Basin, like with other companies, our results have been spotty. And today, I don't think we're drilling anything in the DJ Basin in the Niobrara. On the other hand, our Powder River Basin play is working quite well ... So we have some delineation to do. But as we bring in extra rigs, we can start focusing part of those in sweet spot also," company executives said.

And where the play started, in eastern MT, ...

"The Elm Coulee Bakken oil field, located in Richland County, MT, is producing from over 700 wells drilled over the past ten years, and completed with horizontal wellbores in the deep Bakken shale formation. The field has been one of the top producing areas in Montana but as the producing oil rates decline, alternate ways must be found to recover oil that would otherwise be left behind."


Bicycle stats

Something to cheer

As recently as 1965, world production of cars and bikes was essentially the same, with each at nearly 20 million, but as of 2003 bike production had climbed to over 100 million per year compared with 42 million cars. Bicycle production was 105 million units globally in 2004, a 1.5% increase over 2003 (WorldWatch Institute).

Something to worry about

However, cycle use in China is decreasing sharply, down to 20% of all trips, compared to 33% in 1995. In Beijing, only 20% of commuters rode bikes in 2002, compared to 60% in 1998.

Says that US has 100 million bicycles. I wonder if most of them are lying in garages.

I wonder if most of them are lying in garages.

Yes, it is one of our great untapped PO preparedness plans :)

To all the old bicycles in the shed, ready to be used during an oil crisis :)

Yes to the SBR's!

An interesting new entrant in the grid storage race, LightSail energy:
LightSail Energy Could Make Compressed Air Grid-Scale Storage Work

They have devised a scheme whereby water absorbs most of the compressional heating, and claim a round trip efficiency of roughly 70%. They project a cost per kilowatt (rate not the total amount of energy in storage) lower than for batteries, and not too much worse than stored hydro.

Attended a leture in our fair town of Spokane Wa. this eve on the "Geopolitics of Oil" by our former mayor who is an environmental scholar and it seems a pretty solid PO advocate.

I thought the presentation ,which covered ELM of a fashion, and most of the other key ingredients, was well grounded, but a bit heavy on electric cars just at the close.

My query involved the "consumer of means" who could continue w/o restraint even if fuel did go to $6 or $10 per gallon and beyond. I made the point that the US fed fuel tax had not increased since gas was $1.05 a gallon while meantime the highway trust fund is being bankrupted by current trends. I intimated that this 'person' might tend to squeeze out the marginal consumer before they themselves got a price signal sufficient to change their behaivior.

The response was a little like the 'market will provide' and folks with means and intellegence would go to 'electric cars' or some such when the choice was clear anyway. My issue is that the 'full burden' cost of liquid fuels is not being passed to consumers so they are having trouble getting the 'signal' now. I sense that further economic shocks which destroy demand (i.e cost jobs from the bottom up) w/o creating sutable alternatives are being cooked into the mix partly because of this failure to communicate.

Seems like rather than the market providing people of means who should be capable of helping us make these rational choices it is not doing so. Our congresscritters are sailing us off in exactly the wrong direction with these highway bills that like to kill off cycling and transit funding.

With 3 1/2 % of passenger travel in this land being of a non car/PU/plane type it seems we are ill prepared from an infrastructre standpoint to weather the next liquid fuels crunch and every downturn seems to be an excuse to have less of it not more.

I would rather see a strong tax re-enforced price signal come sooner than later with some
set rebates which would enable folks to boost alternatives like transit or electric bikes to ease the slide down Olduvai. Not gonna happen, but trust in the 'signals' we have now ,and have coming, to promote timely mitigation seems like the hard way to go.

It is amazing to recall that 30 years ago John Anderson ran as an Independent candidate
for President with the following proposal:

He introduced (as congressional legislation) his signature campaign proposal, advocating that a 50-cent a gallon gas tax be enacted with a corresponding 50% reduction in social security taxes. This idea, while not broadly supported, was hailed as interesting and innovative. Experts agreed that it would reduce consumption dramatically and cost average families nothing if they drove less than about 18,000 miles a year, depending upon the fuel efficiency of their vehicles....

(from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_B._Anderson )
30 Years later and we STILL have not increased the gas tax despite support from
conservatives like George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Paul Mulshine, Paul Weyrich,
and neoliberals like Thomas Friedman and others!
Shows the power of the Auto/Big Oil/Paving Contractor/Sprawl Lobby!

Read with interest, Thanks so much.

Is there a housing bubble in Canada or is this a local thing ?


If you can stand in the cold all night and don’t need to pee, I’ve got a deal for you. But only if you can drop $600,000 in ten minutes. Then you can relieve yourself. Welcome to Jefferson Forest!
Ten nights ago, in the snow, a whack of horny, delusional people stood for as long as 30 hours in front of a sales trailer in the GTA hinterland known as Richmond Hill. There was nothing being given away. No prizes for the first in line. Once the doors opened and the crowd pushed inside, camaraderie in the deep freeze outside turned into desperate competition as the hooded, jacketed suitors pushed rudely around map tables and jostled for the right to occupy a chair and scribble their names on an offer to purchase.

What did they lust after? A new release of unbuilt houses selling on average for more than $700,000 on lots as skinny as 32 feet, in a distant suburb of Toronto.

Well, Toronto is starting to become a BIG city and house prices are starting to become unreasonable. This is not really a bubble, it is just a consequence of living in a BIG city. Not as big or expensive as New York, London, Paris, or Tokyo, but getting up there.

It don't think it's a very good idea for them to be paying that much for a house that far out in the suburbs because Peak Oil will eventually hammer them with fuel costs for commuting back into the inner city area.

However, a house in the inner city area of Toronto could be worth that much money because Canada is one of the countries to live in in the post-Peak Oil era, and Toronto is the main head office and financial center for the country.

Not that Toronto is the place to be, because the West is where the growth is going to be, but for those persons who want to live in a BIG city, it is the only choice.

For the rest of us who don't like BIG cities - we can find better places to live.

Related?: The Chinese are buying Vancouver. This is a fun site:

I threw together three graphs from North Dakota oil production data. Not surprisingly, total production shows the hockey stick pattern that has the MSM agog:

But the daily barrels per well, while up from it's low, is not showing as dramatic a rise reflecting the higher productivity of the new wells:

Clearly, the production increase is largely the result of the number of holes they are poking in the ground:

What I find fascinating is the very early years in ND. In their first years, the very first wells produced a large daily volume of 100 to 200 bbls per day. But by the mid 50s drilling activity slowed and the average daily production fell to 40 to 60 bbls per day. By the late 50s, drilling activity slowed to a crawl and the average daily production hit a rather stable rate of around 40 bbls per day dropping to around 25 bbls per day in the mid 90s.

Now fast forward to the 00s. Drilling began in earnest around 2005. The table below shows the increase in the number and percentage of producing wells. In 2005, for example, 71 more wells were producing than in 2004. The daily production per well grew from 27 bbls per day to 30 bbls per day -- an increase of 3 bbls per day or 10.7%. In each of the following years, the addition of wells grew at an expanding rate to a high of 14% in 2011. Yet, as rate of growth in wells has grown each year, the incremental bbls per day per well peaked in 2008. Clearly, there is a significant decline rate in the newly added wells that drags down the per well production growth despite the accelerating rate of drilling. At some point, I expect that drilling growth will hit a ceiling and, when it does, the productivity per well will drop quickly.

Year Wells added Well Growth Inc. Per Well PW Growth

Wells added is the average monthly producing wells for given year minus the average monthly producing wells for previous year. Inc. per well is the average daily production per well for given year minus the same number for previous year.

As of December 2011, North Dakota was producing 534,884 bbls of oil a day at a rate of 86 bbls per well. If no more drilling were done and the pattern of the early days holds, we could expect the daily per well production to settle down to around 50 bbls a day in five years -- which would yield a 310,550 bbls per day - a drop of about 40% from today's levels. Is there a ceiling that will restrict well growth? How far are we from it? How far in the future can that hockey stick continue to extend?

Not surprisingly, the production graph shows increases during oil price spikes.

I think the real question is how high oil prices can go without breaking the economy.

A bit higher than some years ago. Prices between 160 and 180 dollar for a few months-half a year will do it. After that oil prices will reboot again to 2005-2006 prices. After 1-2 more repetitions, maybe, maybe something starts to dawn on much more people.