Drumbeat: March 19, 2012

Saudi Oil Output in January Was Near 31-Year High, Data Show

Saudi Arabia, the largest oil producer in OPEC, pumped 9.87 million barrels a day in January, its second-highest monthly output since at least 1980, official data showed.

The country produced 0.6 percent more crude in January than in the previous month, according to statistics the government submitted to the Joint Organization Data Initiative. The world’s biggest exporter of crude also boosted shipments to 7.51 million barrels a day in January from 7.36 million barrels in December, data posted today on the website of the international initiative known as JODI showed.

Saudi Arabia, Iran Boost January Oil Exports, JODI Says

Saudi Arabia (OPCRSAUD) and Iran increased oil exports in January from a month earlier amid higher demand for crude from OPEC member nations, official data posted on the Joint Organization Data Initiative’s website showed.

Oil Falls From One-Week High; BofA Boosts 2012 Forecsts

(Bloomberg) --Brent oil declined in London after data showed Saudi Arabian crude output at close to the largest level in three decades. U.S. crude advanced.

Futures fell as much as 0.8 percent. Saudi Arabia, the largest producer in OPEC, pumped 9.87 million barrels a day in January, according to data submitted to the Joint Organization Data Initiative. Bank of America Corp. raised 2012 price forecasts after the economic recovery beat expectations.

Tapping Petroleum Reserve has gotten trickier

WASHINGTON — The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is not quite as strategic as it used to be.

As President Barack Obama moves closer to an unprecedented second release of the emergency oil stockpile in a bid to bring down near-record fuel prices, experts say dramatic logistical upheavals in the oil market over the past year may now make such a move slower and more complicated.

OPEC Recycles Dollars Into Debt 50% Faster Than Foreigner

OPEC nations are plowing cash into U.S. Treasuries at a more than 50 percent faster rate than all other foreign investors, an unintended benefit of oil prices above $100 a barrel.

Iran Central Bank Says Rial Can Be Traded at Market Rates

Iran’s central bank allowed trading in its currency at market levels after fixing the exchange rate in January as the threat of sanctions over the country’s nuclear program and economic risks spurred Iranians to buy up dollars.

“Licensed exchange houses are given permission to buy and sell foreign currencies and answer customers’ needs based on the mechanism of the market’s supply and demand,” the Iranian central bank said in a statement posted on its website.

Valero Energy To Suspend Refining Operations at Aruba

SAN ANTONIO - Valero Energy Corporation (NYSE: VLO - News) today announced that due to unfavorable refinery economics and the outlook for continued unfavorable refinery economics, refining operations will be suspended by the end of the month at its subsidiary`s 235,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Aruba. The refinery has been operating at reduced rates because of inadequate margins resulting in financial losses.

Hess Explores Sale Of St. Lucia Terminal In Caribbean

(RTTNews.com) - Hess Corp. said it is exploring the sale of its St. Lucia crude oil and refined products storage and transshipment terminal in the Caribbean. Hess has retained Goldman Sachs as financial advisor in relation with the potential sale.

Bargain-seeking Americans driving to Mexico to buy cheap gas

LOS ANGELES -- As gas prices skyrocket, American drivers are looking south of the border for an alternative to ease the pain at the pump.

But there's growing concern that bargain-seekers could be putting their lives at risk, with the US State Department issuing travel alerts because of the dangers of encountering drug cartel violence in Mexico.

Mexico Will Keep Oil State-Owned, President Calderon Says

Mexico will keep its oil industry state-owned as government-held oil company Petroleos Mexicanos successfully stemmed output declines in aging fields, Mexican President Felipe Calderon said.

Pemex will invest about 300 billion pesos ($23.7 billion) this year and has stemmed declines at its flagship Cantarell field, Calderon told workers in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico, during a ceremony to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the nation’s expropriation of foreign oil assets.

Maersk Drilling to Spend Much as $6 Billion on Oil Rigs

Maersk Drilling, the oil-rig operating unit of Denmark’s largest company, plans to spend $4 billion to $6 billion on new platforms, with the first of those orders being placed as early as this year.

Canada takes to the grand stage with tar sands

It holds the world's third-biggest oil reserves and has attracted tens of billions of dollars in investment from the United States and China - and it sees itself as a rival to Opec.

Its fossil-fuel projects bear optimistic names such as Sunrise and Millennium, developments it believes will help to swing the world's hydrocarbon balance of power away from the Middle East and towards the West.

And the name of this new kid on the block? Canada.

Kuwait eyes 13 pct budget rise amid industrial unrest

(Reuters) - Kuwait's state budget for next fiscal year envisages a spending increase of about 13 percent from the current year's plan, state news agency KUNA reported on Monday as the oil-rich state grappled with a wave of industrial unrest.

Sanctions' Squeeze On Iran Tightens

The squeeze on the Iranian economy due to international sanctions is turning into a stranglehold. The latest sign of Iran's economic trouble is a new drop in the country's oil output.

Syria troops fight rebels in rare Damascus clashes

BEIRUT (AP) – Syrian security forces clashed Monday with gunmen in an upscale neighborhood of the capital Damascus that is home to embassies and senior officials in one of the worst confrontations in the tightly-controlled city center in the country's yearlong uprising. At least three people were killed.

Regulatory Staff Endorses Gas Pipeline for New York City and New Jersey

A proposed natural gas pipeline that has faced opposition from groups in both New York and New Jersey has won the endorsement of the staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has final approval over the $850 million project.

Brazil Bans 17 Chevron, Transocean Managers From Leaving Country

A Brazilian judge banned 17 executives of Chevron Corp. and Transocean Ltd. from leaving the country pending an investigation into an oil spill.

The order was signed by a federal judge last week as part of the investigation into the 3,000-barrel slick off Rio de Janeiro in November, Marcelo del Negri, a spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office, said in a telephone interview yesterday. Transocean owned the rig involved in the spill.

The Cost of Fear: The Framing of a Fukushima Report

As part of NPR's on-going coverage of the situation in Japan, science correspondent Richard Harris reported that the emotional trauma caused by the massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdowns will likely have a greater negative impact on the population than radiation exposure. The report, in Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep's words, was about "the cost of fear."

Vital energy mission for Japan agency

Japan's export credit agency is proposing an increase in its budget as it seeks to secure the fossil fuels vital to the country's economy amid a nuclear shutdown.

House Panel to Cite New Flaw in Energy Loans

WASHINGTON — A Congressional committee that has been investigating the Energy Department’s loan programs is adding to its line of attack on the eve of an appearance by the energy secretary before the panel.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has been seeking with limited success to portray the financial support for a solar company, Solyndra, which eventually went bankrupt, as a politically inspired boon to an Obama campaign fund-raiser who was an investor in the business. But at a hearing scheduled for Tuesday, the committee is to release a staff report that argues that in other instances the Energy Department overrode the objections of some of its professional staff members to pick aid recipients that were supposed to have innovative projects when, in fact, the technology was nothing new.

We must cut our overheated energy costs

With the Budget looming, we need a plan to help the squeezed middle without adding a penny to the deficit. One way is to overhaul the myriad of tariffs and subsidies, introduced by Labour, that hike up energy bills. Effectively a tax on consumers, they are hurting hard-pressed families and businesses – and represent flawed environmental priorities.

Germany’s $263 Billion Renewables Shift Biggest Since War

Not since the allies leveled Germany in World War II has Europe’s biggest economy undertaken a reconstruction of its energy market on this scale.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is planning to build offshore wind farms that will cover an area six times the size of New York City and erect power lines that could stretch from London to Baghdad. The program will cost 200 billion euros ($263 billion), about 8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2011, according to the DIW economic institute in Berlin.

India Ministry Said to Seek Extension of Wind Farm Tax Break

India’s renewable energy ministry is seeking to extend a tax break for wind farms in the world’s third-largest market for turbines, said two government officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Push Comes to Shove Over Water Restrictions

FLOYDADA — J. O. Dawdy, who has been a farmer for 36 years, is so worried about getting enough groundwater that he is considering a lawsuit to protect his right to it.

As sleet pounded his West Texas farmhouse one recent afternoon, Mr. Dawdy and three other farmers said that new regulations — which limit the amount of water they can withdraw from the Ogallala Aquifer and require that new wells have meters to measure use — could have crippling effects on their livelihoods.

As Cars Are Kept Longer, 200,000 Is New 100,000

“The California Air Resources Board and the E.P.A. have been very focused on making sure that catalytic converters perform within 96 percent of their original capability at 100,000 miles,” said Jagadish Sorab, technical leader for engine design at Ford Motor. “Because of this, we needed to reduce the amount of oil being used by the engine to reduce the oil reaching the catalysts.

“Fifteen years ago, piston rings would show perhaps 50 microns of wear over the useful life of a vehicle,” Mr. Sorab said, referring to the engine part responsible for sealing combustion in the cylinder. “Today, it is less than 10 microns. As a benchmark, a human hair is 200 microns thick.

As gasoline prices rise, so does push for bicycle trails

SMYRNA, Ga. – The Silver Comet Trail, a 61-mile converted railroad track that slices through northwest Georgia to the Alabama border, teems with traffic this time of year from bicyclists, walkers, joggers, roller-bladers and parents pushing baby carriages.

Out here, thoughts of the gasoline pump are far away. But this popular trail, which opened in 1998 and is part of the nation's longest paved recreational trail, was developed with the help of more than $3.7 million in federal matching funds that came from the federal gasoline tax.

Suzuki: Bicycling helps make cities more livable, and people healthier

Cities cover just 2% of the world's land area, yet they account for about 70% of greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the United Nations, 59% of us now live in cities; in developing countries, 8% of people are urbanites. And those figures are rising every day.

Even though cities are a major source of emissions fuelling climate change, "they are also places where the greatest efficiencies can be made," according to Joan Clos, executive director of UN-HABITAT. "With better urban planning and greater citizen participation we can make our hot cities cool again."

Has the 'greenest government ever' gassed itself?

A few weeks ago, I was chatting to a group of people from environmentally-minded UK think-tanks when the issue of the "greenest government ever" came up.

In case you've forgotten, David Cameron pledged to lead such a government on becoming Prime Minister in 2010.

Eighteen months on, and one of my companions put it this way: "They've already lost it on everything but climate change, and they're just about clinging onto that".

Europe's Chief Scientist Warns against Climate Delays

The European Union cannot use the economic slowdown as an excuse to delay action on fighting climate change, the bloc's first-ever chief scientific adviser has warned.

Color GDP growth green

It is often said that the 21st century is the "century of the environment." This means two things: One is that the environmental problems of this planet, especially climate change and global warming, have become so serious that they are attracting more people's attention; and the other is that environmental constraints will serve to trigger technological innovations and economic development.

In other words, technological innovations to overcome environmental constraints will serve as a driving force for economic development in industrially advanced countries in this century.

Rise in natural gas production raises greenhouse effect concern

WASHINGTON -- As natural gas production in the United States reaches an all-time high, a major unanswered question looms: What does growing hydraulic fracturing mean for climate change?

Melting Arctic ice could poison ecosystem, experts say

Arctic sea ice that's been melting at a dramatic rate in the last few decades is releasing a chemical soup that could poison the food chain with mercury and other dangerous chemicals, a new study suggests.

The heat is on

A new analysis of the temperature record leaves little room for the doubters. The world is warming.

As climate changes, Louisiana seeks to lift a highway

GOLDEN MEADOW, La.— Here on the side of Louisiana’s Highway 1, next to Raymond’s Bait Shop, a spindly pole with Global Positioning System equipment and a cellphone stuck on top charts the water’s gradual encroachment on dry land.

In 1991 this stretch of road through the marshlands of southern Louisiana was 3.9 feet above sea level, but the instrument — which measures the ground’s position in relation to sea level — shows the land has lost more than a foot against the sea. It sank two inches in the past 16 months alone.

That’s a problem because Highway 1, unprotected by levees, connects critical oil and gas resources in booming Port Fourchon to the rest of the nation.

Why Kohler is wrong on peak oil

In a recent piece for Business Spectator, Alan Kohler claimed that the boom in US shale oil and gas extraction meant the end of peak oil (The death of peak oil, February 29). In particular his article made the following claims:...

This article rips apart the recent article that was previously discussed here on TOD The Death of Peak Oil. The article has a revealing chart on the decline rate of a typical Bakken well. It also has a chart, posted below, of the additional production we can expect from shale oil.

US Crude Oil Production – 1900 to 2035 (millions of barrels per day)

US Production

Ron P.

Ron, your chart is unattributed. What is the original source?

Sorry but it was right there on the link: Source: US Energy Information Administration

My mistake. I was looking at the wrong Business Spectator link.

Anyway, the EIA is a broad reference. But I think this is it ...

... Yup. Fully referenced in Matt's original

It's listed in the link.

That article is a different version of one that was posted here a couple of weeks ago. The author, Matt Mushalik, runs the Crude Oil Peak site, and sometimes posts here as Matt.

The Bakken decline plot in that link ... it can't be from real wells, can it? They haven't been pumping there for 35 years.


That graph is from the North Dakota Industrial Commission(NDIC) and has been posted on here on other occassions. Two mile laterals completed with multi-stage frac's have been around 5 - 6 years.

The Antelope field has been around about 60 yrs - from vertical wellbores. Horizontal drilling in the bakken started in 1987 and with typically 1/2 mile laterals completed open hole and not frac'ed.

thanks - that's helpful. So it sounds like the plot was based on real data for the first few years (steep decline) but not for the rest (slow decline).

Funny thing - It appears either the legend or the plot itself is in error on the Second year data point. Legend says 35% of original, plot says 25%. I bet they mean 35% - otherwise the well would decline faster in the second year than the first.

Here is is:

BTW, Heading Out first showed us this particular data back in August...


dovie - The first Bakken well was completed 61 years ago. It didn't take off like a bat out of hell but has had drilling spurts since then. It's hot today due in part to horizontal drilling technology but mostly due to the high price of oil. Virtually all the "new" fractured shale reservoirs have been drilled to some degree for many decades. I drilled and completed my first well in the "new" Eagle Ford Shale play over 25 years ago.

I also know where there hundreds of millions of ounces of gold that can be had anytime you want to go for it: in the ocean sea water. All you need do is wait for gold prices to get high enough and it's all yours. Not sure what that price would be but I doubt we're anywhere close to it now. OTOH back when oil was selling for $30 a bbl I doubt many folks were thinking hard about driling most of the unconventional shale plays either.

Thanks - so you think that plot has some reality to it? I'm just curious - since the Bakken has only taken off since 2008 or so, they have a lot more data on the first four years of wells there than the next 31. Yet they predict the entire lifespan of a well.

I guess you're saying how a well declines in the real world has a lot to do with the price of oil. That does indeed make sense.

I know of a well that has been pumping since 1962 and it still is.

Plenty of them out there, too.

Leigh Price stated in his study that once the oil begins to be pumped from the depocenter, lo and behold, the keragen begins to generate more oil. Production will generate more oil, if he is correct.

Expect the Bakken to pump oil to the max for the next 20 years.

You can find a link to his study here:


keragen in the Bakken???

Ward, the graph of typical Bakken well production and decline rate was produced by the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources and it is based on actual observations of the decline rate of real wells. Yet you are saying they don't know what they are talking about, that the Bakken will pump at maximum rate for the next 20 years.

Kerogen cannot generate anything. You can cook kerogen at a very high temperature and turn it into oil, or cook it at low temperatures for several years. But there is no kerogen in the Bakken so apparently you are really confused.

There are lots of wells that has been pumping since 1962 but not at the same rate and not the result of frackin. Fracked shale will not produce oil at the same rate for 20 years, not even for one year.

Ron P.

"The Bakken Petroleum System consists of a brittle dolomitic siltstone sandwiched between two excellent, kerogen-rich marine shales. An extremely slow deposition and subsidence history during the early Mississippian and an anomalously high thermal maturation gradient has resulted in a unique system where much of the oil in the Bakken Formation is self-sourced, in-place and trapped in natural fractures in the Middle Bakken."


There is no new oil being formed from kerogen in the Bakken.

What the article is saying is that the oil which was cooked out of the kerogen-rich Upper and Lower Bakken formations has been trapped in the Middle Bakken rather than migrating to shallower formations or escaping completely, as would normally be the case. In addition, the volumetric expansion of producing the oil has caused a lot of natural fracturing of the rock formations.

You still have to drill more wells to get more oil because each is draining a limited area, and you still have to frac all the wells to get them to produce any oil at all.

1. n. [Geology, Shale Gas] ID: 300

The naturally occurring, solid, insoluble organic matter that occurs in source rocks and can yield oil upon heating. Kerogen is the portion of naturally occurring organic matter that is nonextractable using organic solvents. Typical organic constituents of kerogen are algae and woody plant material. Kerogens have a high molecular weight relative to bitumen, or soluble organic matter. Bitumen forms from kerogen during petroleum generation. Kerogens are described as Type I, consisting of mainly algal and amorphous (but presumably algal) kerogen and highly likely to generate oil; Type II, mixed terrestrial and marine source material that can generate waxy oil; and Type III, woody terrestrial source material that typically generates gas.


Thanks, I know what kerogen is. My point is that you are not going to see oil produced from it naturally on anything other than a geological time scale. In a commercial oil shale process you can do it much quicker, but the Bakken is not going to do it at a rate that is useful to human beings.

I think what wardpierce is advocating is that reduced pressure will cause more kerogen to convert. I don't think that is quite right and have asked for a more specific reference. At this point, I think wardpierce is refering to something more akin to adsorption - but i am willing to be proven wrong.

Leigh Price stated in his study that once the oil begins to be pumped from the depocenter, lo and behold, the keragen begins to generate more oil.

That doesn't sound quite right. I can't find it anywhere in the pdf. I'm not saying Price didn't say it, just that I couldn't find it. Could you direct me to the page ?

Price came to other questionable conclusions too, in my opinion. Predominately horizontal fractures, for example.

Didn't mean to mislead anyone, not trying to prove anything, just providing information. A neutral perspective is more or less what I want to convey. Far be it from me if I can accomplish the task.

If I pique enough interest for someone to read the entire study, you'll be able to learn something more than what you didn't know before you read and read through the paper, maybe.

It is recent in scope and time. Much can be learned from reading the document in entirety. Read it several times.

The mature shales, immature shales, and moderate mature shales in the Bakken System would account for future oil generation. The Dickinson State #74 well produced 8000 bpd initial production and accounted for 3% of Conoco's total domestic production.

If I feigned, conflated something that isn't, it becomes a vehicle to investigate.

All apologies for the enticement, just want to spread the word about the Bakken System. Just being a messenger.

dovey - I think I misread your question: how long the play has been drilled vs. how long such a well will produce. Of course, the critial metric is the production rate vs. time. I know of many wells that have produced 30 to 40 years. But during much of that time the rate was just a tiny fraction of its initial production rate. There are wells in S. Texas that can produce for 100 years as long as the casing doesn't rust away. But they'll only pump 1/2 bb of oil per day. And, beleive it or not, a small independent producer can make a dang fine living with such wells when oil is over $50/bbl...as long as he has enough wells.

"...how a well declines in the real world has a lot to do with the price of oil." not at all. Most operators will produce a well at its max efficiency rate regardless of pricing. Most folks wonder why all the NG produces don't reduce their production rates because of the current low price. easy answer; they don't want to go out of business. In the oil patch cash flow is king...almost always more important than profit margin. There are bank loans to pay as well as salaries. There are capex requirements to drill more wells. During low pricing periods I've seen many operators try to squeeze more production fromtheir wells to increase income.

The NATURAL decline rate of a well is determined by Mother Earth....not price of oil. There are methods we can employ to modify that rate to a some degree. But in the end Mother has the last say.

Thanks - sorry for any confusion. I was just trying get a grip on the basis of the Bakken decline plot that was referenced in the original post on this thread.

I keep thinking of more questions but will wait to see if they are addressed.

Thanks again for helpfully sharing your experience. It is interesting.

dovie - I'll give you a heads up as to where a lot of the debates start: predicting the ultimate recovery of a well with less than one year production history. You've seen how quickly many wells decline. it's virtually impossible to predict with any great accuracy. Some companies push "curve fitting" but that's a very subjective approach IMHO. OTOH after 3 or 4 years of production it gets a lot easier...almost to the point of laying a straight edge against the curve.

The other big argument is predicting average recover across a trend where there is no average per se. Every play, conventional and otherwise, has sweet and sour spots...the actual technical terms we use in the oil patch. Drilling might start at one end of the plays and these wells might recover twice the reserves as wells drilled in another area of the play. And very commonly the technology applied in a trend can vary greatly over time. Wells drilled in the Eagle Ford this year may show a significant increase in ult. recover than wells drilled 3 years ago. But the newer wells might have horizontal section twice as long as the older wells and maybe 20 separate frac stages compared to 5 in the older wells. OTOH the newer wells might cost 3X as much as the older wells so they may not represent a significant improvement in the economics.

Then add in the factor that some operators do a much better job than others. Now toss all these variables into one big pot and it's difficult for even insiders like me to come up with clear characterizations. It also makes it very easy for someone to cherry pick the data and build a model that supports their incorrect assumptions.

I've heard, but have not seen an authoritative discussion or paper on the subject, that many shale gas wells are very rich. Does anyone know: 1) What the average and maximum condensate-gas-ratios are? 2) What the variances between different areas and different wells within an area are? 3) Even with current low natural gas prices whether the high prices for the condensate and NGLS still make a lot of the wells attractive? 4) Whether the rapid decline rates that are seen mean that there is an equally rapid leaning out in the wells even if they start out rich? 5) How much, if any, of the oil production increase which is attributed to shale oil is really the condensate and NGLs from gas wells?

A - Only had time for a quick search and didn't find a good source for all the trends. In general "rich" is somewhat relative as you can probably guess. In general a GOR less than 10 bbls of oil/condensate in consider relatively dry. Anything above 50 bbls/million cf or so is considered getting rich. Above 200 bbls/million cf is very rich.

The oil yield in the shale plays had already become an important economic factor before we were hit with the very low NG price. One of the factors hurting long term recovery is actually high oil yields. Nearly all the fractured shale plays are pure pressure depletion.no water drive support. As the pressure decrease rapidly the velocity of the production stream up the tubing gets too low to flow. That's when they have to install some form of pumping system. Unfortunately the lower pressure in the reservoir also makes it difficult for the oil to move through the fractures to the well bore and there's little we can do to fix that problem.

Actually "condensate" and "oil" are the same animal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_gas_condensate). We call the oil yield from a NG reservoir condensate because it's a liquid phase held in suspension in the NG. When it's produced and the pressure drops this oil 'condenses' into a liquid phase. Condensates thus tend to have higher API gravities...typically 30 to 55. Many such condensates get a little premium pricing over sweet oil with lower gravities.

And NGL's are a different animal and worth a lot more but unfortunately their yields tend to be measured in gallons per million cf and not bbls. I sell most of my NG through someone's processing plant where the NGL's are recovered. Typically we'll split the yield about 50/50.

Nearly all the fractured shale plays are pure pressure depletion.no water drive support.

The bakken/three forks play appears to have a gravity component in some areas. Why wouldn't a reservoir with high vertical permeability (vertically oriented natural and Halliburton induced fractures) have a gravity component ?

Gravity drainage was a significant factor in the recovery from the Puerto Chiquito field in New Mexico. That field produced from the Mancos shale, if my memory is correct.

Cupiagua field in Colombia, is an example of a gas/condensate reservoir dominated by gravity drainage. That one reportedly has natural fractures about 1" wide in places.

bud - That's correct. There are conventional reservoirs that produce with the aid of natural fractures. that's why I don't tend to limp the Bakken and certain other plays in with reservoirs like the Eagle Ford and Marcellus.

..it's a liquid phase held in suspension in the NG

That statement contradicts the wiki reference you cited:

Natural-gas condensate is a low-density mixture of hydrocarbon liquids that are present as gaseous components

What Rockman means is that under reservoir conditions (high temperature and pressure) the condensate is in the gaseous phase, part of the natural gas mixture.

When you produce it to the surface and it goes to ambient atmospheric conditions (lower temperature and pressure), the heavier fractions condense out of the gaseous phase and become liquids. Hence the name, "condensate".

Chemically, it's not much different than extremely light crude oil. In fact it's basically unrefined gasoline, which is why it usually gets a better price than heavier crude oil.

Thank you, I know what condensate is.

So, then in what sense is the first quotation you blockquoted not a simple restatement of the second in different words?

A gas reservoir is a gas reservoir(period) There is no liquid 'phase' in suspension, only gas molecules in a mixture with other gas molecules. A collection of molecules (liquid) is too dense to remain in suspension, except under higher velocity flow conditions, as in the tubing.

You stated:

..the condensate is in the gaseous phase, part of the natural gas mixture.

I agree.

Rocky, Rocky, Rocky - what have I told you before about teaching pigs how to rollerskate?

I know, I know, I should just control myself and walk away from these nitpicky disagreements, but sometimes I just can't help myself.

At least I have manged to stay out of the more recent global warming wars. When I can't control myself, I just go and take a cold shower rather than jumping into the argument. It saves me from a lot of ad-hominem attacks.

Are you having trouble formulating a logical, factual argument ?

Man: Is this the right room for an argument?
Other Man:(John Cleese) I've told you once.
Man: No you haven't!
Other Man: Yes I have.
M: When?
O: Just now.
M: No you didn't!
O: Yes I did!
M: You didn't!
O: I did!
M: You didn't!
O: I'm telling you, I did!
M: You did not!
O: Oh I'm sorry, is this a five minute argument, or the full half hour?
M: Ah! (taking out his wallet and paying) Just the five minutes.
O: Just the five minutes. Thank you.
O: Anyway, I did.
M: You most certainly did not!

Monty Python: The Argument Sketch.

Sorry to hear you and Rockman are having such a hard time with Physics 101:


Yeah, sorry, I missed Physics 101. I started with Physics 201. Our school system was a little more challenging than most, and we took the 101-level courses in grade 12.

I know a mid-size oik & gas company who hired a senior manager to drive an initiative to decrease decline curve by 1% on average. That 1% could make a new industry niche all by itself. Those pennies add up.

From the article above Tapping Petroleum Reserve has gotten trickier:

"Because most U.S. crude oil cannot legally be exported, SPR supplies will typically only displace seaborne imports."

Is the first clause regarding the legality of US crude exports true? Another, older source tells me that it is not...

Eagle Ford crude... destined for export?

"US crude exports are not banned, except for Alaskan crude. A push in the 90's to have the federal goverment allow exports was successful in the sense of getting the federal OK, but proved to be a failure in the marketplace as Asian buyers who purchased ANS found the economics did not work."

It does seem difficult to describe the current situation as an "emergency," when the US is exporting sizable quantities of refined petroleum products. But I'm sure that politicians regard the possibility of record high fuel prices in an election year as an emergency situation.

As I have previously noted, the primary trend we are seeing is that developed oil importing countries like the US are being gradually priced out of the global market for exported oil, as global crude oil prices doubled from 2005 to 2011, and as developing countries like the Chinda region consumed an increasing share of a declining volume of Global Net Exports of oil (GNE).

I don't consider $4.00/gal gasoline an emergency and believe that the President is playing for political favors with the SPR releases.

OTOH, this is yet another small indicator that there may be certain ... geo-political stresses ... in play this summer or early fall.

But is the MSNBC/Reuters article factually correct regarding exports? Is most US crude ineligible for export?

I think that even the ban on Alaskan crude oil exports has been lifted. Of course, as a practical matter, since we need to import about 9 mbpd of crude oil, exporting material amounts of crude oil from the US does not make much sense, unless there are highly localized issues like the type of crude available locally versus the type of crude needed to run a given refinery.

To be fair, EVERYONE is playing in this game, and the Republican Candidates are throwing Gas costs at the president, trying to define the situation as HIS unsolved emergency.

It would be great to be able to change the basis of this conversation, so that the President doesn't have to respond in kind, but that's far easier said than done.

It seems clear that Gas and Diesel will and ought to get more expensive, and it will simply spell political pain for the whole system. No wonder everyone's eager to pass the Hot Potatoe.

At least ONE of them is also floating test balloons with proposals for Green Alternatives.. if he gets enough public support for it, it could become actionable.

As an American having been observing the political process here for a good 30 of my 40+ years, I can tell you that no one is going to "change the basis of the conversation" unless someone comes up with a cure for Stupid and then forcibly administers this cure to a very unreceptive populace.

The reason we have the current crop of Republican candidates (and Democrats for that matter) is quite simple: we're a nation of willfully ignorant, self centered, delusional idiots, most of whom get their information from right-wing religious and corporate/banking propaganda outlets and deprecate reason in favor of religious and political ideology. Despite relatively minor regional variances in culture, we're pretty much all 100% on board with Free Market fundamentalism, prosperity gospel, endless growth, cargo cult economics, and... "U-S-A! U-S-A!, We're #1!, we're #1!, we're #1!!!"

Any message that assumes reason-based thought process or a willingness to assimilate new information that challenges BAU is doomed to failure. Might as well just sit back and wait for gas to zoom to $50/gallon, watch all the SUV and exurban McMansion owners react in horror and disbelief. I'd also try hard not to end up on their official scapegoat list when the inevitable backlash kicks in --liberals, hippies, commies, uppity scientists, minorities, environmentalists, etc. These "real Ahmerkikans" are armed-to-the-teeth and more than willing to use deadly force to "teach them libuhral socialists" a lesson they won't forget for "ruining our country".

we're a nation of willfully ignorant, self centered, delusional idiots, most of whom get their information from right-wing religious and corporate/banking propaganda outlets and deprecate reason in favor of religious and political ideology.

Nice rant HARM! I agree - it's like a mental illness in which reason and data get twisted via a strange form of illogic, immersing themselves in angry emotional outbursts that displace common sense. But for whatever reason it is commonly accpeted behavior for 10's of millions of people on a daily basis throughout an L shaped region from No. Dakota down to Texas and across to South Carolina. There needs to be a psychological study done of about a million people, giving them sets of information and seeing how they respond and why. What is the cognitive dissonance that takes place? Where is it they fail to stay on track with reason and divert into a pool of idiocy?

Who can deny that there's massive disconnects, but just how far do you get with the rants and the obsession about the knuckleheads?

You talk about this situation where ".. reason and data get twisted via a strange form of illogic, immersing themselves in angry emotional outbursts that displace common sense." .. but still congratulate HARM on a nice rant.

Yes, it was a great rant, but I've read HARM's comments for a while now, and I DO hope this person is also able to get beyond those rants, too, and the rest of us as well. We all need some emotional release here and there, even a lot of it.. but I hope not to the abandonment of useful efforts. In Jr High, they used to call it a 'Pity Party', right?

We've got to look for the people out there who are smart and doing good things, and with them encourage each other to remain smart, and not just devolve into raging against the outrageousness of 'the mass of lunkheads' .. It's not that surprising anymore, is it? We KNOW there are a lot of misinformed and unhelpful people throughout the culture. Think it's ever been much different than that? Get over it. There are idiots out there, and the more idiotic they are, the more likely they'll get on TV.

To be in this site, and just getting into a contest about who can be the most cynical and despondent about our world seems to me an extremely self-indulgent and regrettable waste of energy. Kind of antithetical, no?

I DO hope this person is also able to get beyond those rants, too, and the rest of us as well. We all need some emotional release here and there, even a lot of it.. but I hope not to the abandonment of useful efforts

Thing is, jokuhl, it's not that there haven't always been lots of misinformed and unhelpful people out there. But even in my relatively short time alive, things seem to have grown measurably worse, at least in the U.S. Now we have the Fox News and Clear Channel right-wing echo chamber, where every tea-bagging conservative can live in a facts-free alternate reality where no assumption is ever challenged. Every racist and misogynist is a "victim" by virtue of being read back his own words. Science, public education, basic healthcare, and even adult birth control are now fully politicized topics, completely subordinate to one's religion or party affiliation. Facts are no longer facts, evidence is unimportant, and the gut is king. In short, welcome to Idiot America. It's really sad and demoralizing to see my country morphing into a Mike Judge movie in real time, right in front of my own eyes.

To be honest, I've kind of lost faith that good policy ideas can accomplish a d**mned thing unless you have a semi-informed and relatively open-minded public that is receptive to them. This is just no longer the case in 21st century America. I'd prefer to be hopeful about the future, but I see too little evidence out there to actually *be* hopeful.

Call my rants "an extremely self-indulgent and regrettable waste of energy" if you want, but I could say the same thing about pretending as though your average American could understand --much less seriously consider-- any of the great ideas I regularly read here (and many of them are truly ingenious). Can you seriously imagine your average Red State voter sitting down and *reading* any of Robert rapier, Ugo Bardi or Gail the Actuary's magnificent graph and data filled masterpieces? Sometimes it feels a bit like Don Quixote in the Internet age.

Lately, I've come to the conclusion that the only hope of getting significant grass roots political support behind conservation, renewable energy, or population reduction would be to find a way to tremendously dumb down the message to, say, bumper sticker level. Also tailoring those messages to directly appeal to the worst American characteristics, like so many successful politicians have done --greed, selfishness, fear, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, moral hypocrisy, laziness, and (perhaps most importantly) willful ignorance.

If someone here could only find a way to convince blue collar conservatives that conservation, smaller families and renewables would somehow destroy pot-smoking hippes/liberals, put women and minorities "in their place", turn athiests and scientists into Born-again Christians and kill gay people, then I'd say we might have a chance of influencing the broader American public. Otherwise, it feels like a losing (though slow moving) battle.

Save oil. Heretics boil so nicely in it.

They've got the stupid, the anger, and the zealotry turned up real loud. And this is all quite official... supported by the monied interests, half of the major American political parties, and Federal Communication Commission laws. There is no "change you can believe in" to vote for. The suppression of the youth has only escalated in its violence. New powers of surveillance and control are being steadily implemented*. The race to the bottom, for the masses, is being accelerated. To stay here, to live immersed in this, is like slowly going mad... and knowing it.


*For example, it is now illegal to protest within range of a federal official.

It is a tough battle, HARM, and we might not win.. 'we' being anybody who would stand against the erosion of this 'dumbing'.. all I would say to your thoughts above, is that you're playing right into it. The stereotyping and the condemnation.. you might as well be calling it 'Sin' at that point. It's as backwards as Santorum out there criticizing Climate Science saying it's 'just a religion', as though he thinks that's a bad thing.

There are a lot of smart people out there who are just caught in a destructive and badly designed system, who have been misinformed or better said, intellectually starved, but are good people and would do what they can to help, if they saw there was somebody else to do it with..

Pox News and those sorts are truly awful, and it's worth knowing what they're up to, and shining a bright light on them, but it's also a bad idea getting fixated on them. You give them more power at that point. The opposition of fanatically screaming liberals is exactly the blood they feed on. As Charlie Barnett used to say (street comic in NY), 'Give me a bar of soap and I could destroy that man..' And the Bar of Soap that cuts through FOX's Dirt and Grease will be Facts and Sense, presented WITHOUT the hyperbole and screaming and putdowns. THAT is how you change the PH basis of the conversation. Don't do it on their terms.

I don't blame you for being down about the whole thing. In most ways, you're not wrong about how bad it's getting.. but the thing is, all this polarization is, as I see it, what's bringing out the angry and the stupid in so many people on ALL sides.

.. You CAN fight fire with fire.. that is one strategy, but the problem is, the way it works, everything burns.. I'm not strategically inclined towards a Scorched Earth as a result. That's what I'm hoping we can AVOID. You can ALSO still fight fire with WATER, too, and that might save some worthwhile people and options that would have just become charcoal the other way.. or more importantly, it might help keep YOU from burning up in the process, so you can live to fight smart another day.

Counter Clerk at Bloodbath and Beyond:
"Mr. Simpson, I'm sorry, but there's a three-day waiting period to purchase a handgun in this state."

"But I'm angry NOW!!"

Other reasons to get out now:

The presidential Emergency Orders imply gearing-up for a serious war.
The JOBS act, “Jumpstart Our Business Startups”, pulls more regulation out of the financial industry.
...continuing to pave the way for even more financial cannibalism:

I'm sure there must be more...

At any rate, take your hopes, your youth, and your intelligence and go to somewhere where they are safe, wanted, and encouraged, not dragged along the sidewalk by the hair.

Part two of the JOBS bill talk:
...first 20 minute segment

House, senate, and president are pushing for this. It will be paraded as a cooperative, bipartisan achievement.

The talk presents this as part of the "race to the bottom". A logical extension is that there is and was no intent to reform the financial system.

"The JOBS Act Is So Criminogenic That It Guarantees Full-Time Jobs for Criminologists"

"The appalling bill that would repeal essential Wall Street reforms"

I don't consider $4.00/gal gasoline an emergency ...

Ron, I agree with you, it is not an emergency.

Does anyone know whether the SPR was re-filled after the last time oil was released?

Kind - I don't remember the schedule but as I recall the buyers of the SPR release actually pay back for the oil in kind. They don't so much buy it as they borrow it. At least in general that's how it works. Details may vary.

Ha, in his last years, my grandpa was taking out any credit he could get. His idea was that he would die before having to pay back most of it. Turns out he was right. So I wonder if borrowing from the SPR isn't similar. "I'll gladly pay you on Tuesday..."

eastie - Actually the feds thought about that...a buyer of SPR oil going bankrupt before they paid the oil back. There are a bunch of credit and bonding hurdles a company has to jump to get their hands on SPR oil. IOW it will always get paid back.

Does anyone know whether the SPR was re-filled after the last time oil was released?

The SPR has not been re-filled:

...and sweet was released, to be replaced with sour.

Under consideration is to do the same again:

$4.00 gasoline IS an emergency, but it is a political one.


Unless $4 dollar a gallon gas triggers a 2008 style economic collapse.

4 is not a magic number, and whatever impact gas prices have on a micro and macro level has likely changed from 2008.
In 2008 IIRC the US was importing more of the crude consumed visa vie today. As the percentage of imported crude decreases the pain of higher fuel costs on a macro level will be less. For an individual consumer it still hurts though. The US now also seems to export more "product" which on a macro level would actually benefit from higher gas prices.
Also, VMT is down significantly which, assuming it is a relevant metric for consumer level consumption rather than consumption in total (which would include trucks and other commercial vehicles), can be viewed as a proxy for less fuel consumption, which means that every penny increase per gallon is less painful in aggregate (because we're driving fewer miles. Another way to interpret the lower VMT is that the easy cuts have been made and that demand has become less elastic.
There are tons of variables which go into trying to figure out the economic hurt that comes from higher fuel costs but as long as the US imports significantly more crude than it exports product it is going to hurt.
The US is pretty lucky to have Canada as a provider for below world market crude btw. If the US had to pay Brent(ish) prices for all its crude imports it would be more painful.


"4 is not a magic number, and whatever impact gas prices have on a micro and macro level has likely changed from 2008."

Yes. A certain number of marginal uses have gone away since the last time oil went up. No more Hummers being built for one trivial example. So the threshold to economic stall is going to be higher this time. How much higher we won't know until we find it the hard way.

In my opinion there are far too many variables to predict what gas price could begin to seriously damage economic activity, leading to a 2008 type collapse. It MIGHT be $4 gas… It might be a higher number….

Just looking at the sheer size of the 2008 bail out alone, which adjusted for inflation was more than all of these expenditures combined:

• Marshall Plan: Cost: $12.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $115.3 billion
• Louisiana Purchase: Cost: $15 million, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $217 billion
• Race to the Moon: Cost: $36.4 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $237 billion
• S&L Crisis: Cost: $153 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $256 billion
• Korean War: Cost: $54 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $454 billion
• The New Deal: Cost: $32 billion (Est), Inflation Adjusted Cost: $500 billion (Est)
• Invasion of Iraq: Cost: $551b, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $597 billion
• Vietnam War: Cost: $111 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $698 billion
• NASA: Cost: $416.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $851.2 billion

TOTAL: $3.92 trillion

Perhaps the economy has been so damaged by the plateau of crude oil production, that it will be less likely to handle higher fuel prices than in each previous gas price hike. I do not claim to know, but I feel we may find out soon.

I think your info on the COST of the bailout is in error.

I think you is in error.

Then show the error you think is there.

I was giving the person making an outrageous claim a chance to fix their error. Unfortunately, like the story of America's new oil exporter status, news coverage is a lousy source of understanding of the bailout.

First let me say that I do not support all the specific implementation methodologies of the bailout. I would much have preferred a Swedish or Icelandic story. However, the $14T number is utter nonsense as a COST. Adding up numbers without understanding what the numbers mean and then calling that the size of the bailout is rather silly. To understand why, I will break it down for you using the Mother Jones article numbers.

1)$3.757T is attributed to the Treasury's temporary guarantee program for money-market mutual funds. This program began 9/19/2008 and eventually ended on 9/18/2009. Conceptually this program was similar to the FDIC guarantee on bank deposits. Had the government not guaranteed such funds there was a strong possibility of a 'run' on MMMF due to fear of their failure, which would have become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because the goenment issued the guarantee, the total cost of the program was actually ZERO. Simply by saying they would make good the failures of MMMF's the government prevented such failures at no cost to the taxpayers. In fact, the government earned $1.2B.

Here's a link announcing the end of the program at no cost, with a small $1.2B profit.


2)$1T is attributed to the Treasury's PPIF. This was a program under which the Treasury used part of the TARP funds to leverage private funds to buy toxic "legacy" assets (on which a market was not being made in the private market) to remove valuation uncertainty from the balance sheet of large financial firms in danger of failing. The assets are primarily mortgage-backed-securities of various types, all originally rated AAA (snicker). This is one of the programs I very much did not like, as it allowed private investors to make substantial sums due to risk taken by the government and liquidity provided by the government. However, the total money involved is actually only $29.4B, of which some is private funds, some is Treasury equity stake in the investment, and some is government loans. There are assets backing these up, so it is not yet a cost. the only one of these which has been would up resulted in a government profit. Here is the most recent qurterly report on the program:


3)TARP (the Troubled Asset Relief Program) in many ways WAS 'the bailout.' The original bill appropriated $700B for this fund. Mother Jones shows this program (not including HAMP) contributing $578B to their $14T total, because at that time $117.5B had already been repaid. As of the 1/26/2012 report of SIGTARP to Congress, the total still outstanding is down to $121B. Total losses realized to date are just $7.8B. The most recent CBO estimate (11/15/2011 data) of projected total losses (including future losses which may not materialize) is $34B.

4)Treasury purchase of GSE stock is shown at $400B. Treasury purchase of GSE MBS's is shown at $314B. Treasury announced Monday 3/19/2012 that they had completed the sale of all ($225B) GSE MBS's purchased under this program and made a profit of $25B.


The GSE's (FNMA and FHLMC) have been placed in conservatorship by the government under the auspices of FHFA. As most of us know, these were previously agencies of the government, prior to their 'privatization.' Virtually all the trillions of dollars of 'private' mortgages the past 3 years in the U.S. have been guaranteed by the agencies. Treasury is providing equity funds to the GSE's as necessary in exchange for preferred stock, and receiving substantial dividends for doing so. As of 9/30/2011 gross investment by Treasury in FNMA and FHLMC was $169B. This includes reinvestment of dividends earned. It is anticipated that Treasury will continue to invest thru 2012, and that cash flow back to Treasury will begin in 2013. The net (exclusive of reinvested dividends) cash flow in fiscal year 2011 was just $5.2B from Treasury, and gross was just $20.8B, making it clear that the expectation of cash flow reversal is well-founded. Net total cost thru fiscal year 2011 of the stock purchases if no repayment is ever made would be $136.9B.

I think these few examples are a reasonable indication of why the $14T number is ludicrous. If you actually want me to continue line-by-line I can do that.

If you actually want me to continue line-by-line I can do that.

Please do.

5)TARP overpayment is shown as $159B. As noted above the latest estimate is down to $34B.

6)BofA asset guarantee is shown as $118B, but BofA paid the government a fee and voided the agreement so no exposure remained at the time of the article.

7)Citigroup asset guarantee is shown as $306B ... the loss sharing mechanisms of AGP would have resulted in maximum exposure (by Treasury, FDIC, and the Fed) of about $235B in losses if the asset value went to zero. Here's a summary of the terms:


In December 2009, the Citigroup AGP agreement was also cancelled. This had already happened at the time of the article but the data presented was only current thru October 2009. The government also made money on this deal.


8)$25B is shown for the GSE credit facility which had already been ended at that time. The GSE's were discussed above.

9)$50B is shown for HAMP, which is the housing part of TARP (discussed above). To date (3/20/2012 TARP report) only $3.44B have been disbursed.

10)There are several other Treasury entries which I will leave aside for now.

Federal Reserve:

1)The Commercial Paper Funding Facility is shown at $1.8T. The Fed lent money to a 'special purpose vehicle' which bought commercial paper to provide liquidity to the market between October 2008 and February 2010. The commercial paper was 90 day debt, so it was all mature by mid-2010. The amount held peaked at ~$350B in early 2009 and declined to just $10B by December 2009. The government netted $5B on the facility, which was forwarded by the Fed to the Treasury. An excellent 15 page pdf on the CPFF is linked below.


2)The Term Asset-backed Securities Loan facility (TALF) is shown at $1T. Basically the Fed lent money against collateral composed of consumer debt (auto loans, student loans, credit card loans, equipment loans, floorplan loans, insurance premium finance loans, loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration, residential mortgage servicing advances or commercial mortgage loans). Only about $71.1B in total loans were extended, and the maximum amount outstanding peaked at $48.5B. No new loans were made after June 2010. As of Jan 25th 2012, $8B remained outstanding, secured by $9B in collateral (see tables 9 and 11 in the below link).


The Fed and Treasury report that no losses are expected with this program.

“The amount of money the central bank parceled out was surprising even to Gary H. Stern, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis from 1985 to 2009, who says he “wasn’t aware of the magnitude.” It dwarfed the Treasury Department’s better-known $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Add up guarantees and lending limits, and the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year”.

From Bloomberg http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-28/secret-fed-loans-undisclosed-to...

“The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret. Now, the rest of the world can see what it was missing”. From Bloomberg

You believe who you want to believe, but I think the FED has been less than forthcoming. I will go with the Bloomberg total which is MORE than the numbers I cited above. I notice you did not total your numbers to check my outrageous claim. I do don’t find your argument convincing and I stand by my earlier post.

“news coverage is a lousy source of understanding of the bailout”

I think Bloomberg is capable, after an investigation, of adding up the bailout. Or is Bloomberg lousy as well? I included the Mother Jones article to show how much lower the number I used in the earlier post was to some estimates.

The Bloomberg article concludes that the FED 'gave away' just $13B, by allowing banks to borrow at lower rates than they could lend at. To get to $7.77T They took a bunch of loan transactions, guarantees, and available credit and added them up to get a number that sounds huge. I can add the temperature on 30 days of the month and get a high number but it doesn't mean it was 3000 degrees in June.

The Bloomberg article is yellow journalism. There are and were serious issues with how the Fed and the federal gov't dealt with the crisis. Some of the issues are even alluded to in passing in the article. It's too bad the article stooped to sensationalizing the article for a mainstream audience.

“Details of the lending emerged when Bloomberg LP, parent of Bloomberg News, took court action which forced the Federal Reserve and the Clearing House Association LLC (a group composed of the biggest US banks) to make a summary of the bailout public. The Federal Reserve protested that exposing borrower details would dissuade other distressed financial organizations from seeking assistance should a further financial crisis arise, and that investors and other parties would avoid companies that had borrowed from the central bank as a lender of last resort. In March 2011, the Supreme Court refused an appeal from Clearing House Association.
Gary H. Stern, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis from 1985 to 2009, said he was “unaware of the magnitude” when speaking of the bailout. But taking into account guarantees and lending limits, the Fed, as of March 2009 had pledged $7.77 trillion to saving the financial system. That figure, over 50 percent of the United States’s overall production that year, dwarfed the Treasury Department’s Troubled Assets Relief Program, which totalled some $700 billion. The creation of TARP in 2008 was a response to the problems financial institutions had getting loans following the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.), who serves on the House Financial Services Committee, said, “TARP at least had some strings attached,” in regards to the program’s executive pay ceiling. “With the Fed programs, there was nothing.”

Bloomberg’s “yellow” journalism was written after taking the FED to court. I suppose that Gary Stern of the Minneapolis FED is sensationalizing the argument. Maybe the bailout is worse than you thought. The FED had to be taken to court to get the data, which tells me they did not want the public to know the details of the bailout.

As I said, there are and were issues. Research - good. Purple prose and financially illiterate treatment -- bad. Acting as insurer and lender of last resort, at nearly no cost to the American public, to prevent TEOTWAWTI--good, if not great. Not using the leverage for this priceless service to get substantial reforms -- horrid.

I made a lot of noise about HOW they were doing this when they did it. I think though, that you may be surprised about which parts weren't already disclosed.

I would have nationalized the firms ala Sweden, and repudiated parts ala Iceland, as well as putting quite a few folks in the pokey, and getting massive regulation back in place before re-privatizing. I would have brought back cramdowns, reversed the bankruptcy 'reform,' allowed own-to-rent on underwater properties, capped consumer and mortgage interest rates on existing balances, eliminated most banking fees except to cover demonstrated direct costs, required energy efficiency loans to be added on all existing mortgages regardless of LTV everywhere that they would improve affordability, added a financial transaction tax, added cost of federal insurance to the tax structure for shadow banking, etc, etc,

“Acting as insurer and lender of last resort, at nearly no cost to the American public, to prevent TEOTWAWTI--good, if not great”

I agree with you 100% I did not oppose the bailout. I was all for it. My only point in even bringing it up was to try to illustrate how severe, almost TEOTWAWTI, 2008 was. I believe that without modern central banking, 2008 would have collapsed the global economy.

“I would have nationalized the firms ala Sweden, and repudiated parts ala Iceland, as well as putting quite a few folks in the pokey, and getting massive regulation back in place before re-privatizing. I would have brought back cramdowns, reversed the bankruptcy 'reform,' allowed own-to-rent on underwater properties, capped consumer and mortgage interest rates on existing balances, eliminated most banking fees except to cover demonstrated direct costs, required energy efficiency loans to be added on all existing mortgages regardless of LTV everywhere that they would improve affordability, added a financial transaction tax, added cost of federal insurance to the tax structure for shadow banking, etc, etc”,

Sounds to me like some very good ideas, I wish that everything you mention above had been implemented at the time. A stronger argument for regulation may never come along than the subprime mortgage debacle.


Perhaps this list was intended to be only bailouts and wars, but clearly there is more there w/ NASA and the Moon shot.

The 'New Deal' programs did not end in 1941. Those programs along with the sibling Medicare continue today. Combined (Medicaid, Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment), they are larger than all other federal spending combined. The current liability for all these programs, i.e. benefits promised over the lifetime to those living today, exceed $100 trillion. Now that is unsustainable.

I saw these figures in a presentation by Richard Heinberg entitled “The End of Growth”. A little searching the web yielded the following:

NASA Budget
“According to the Office of Management and Budget and the Air Force Almanac, when measured in real terms (adjusted for inflation), the figure is $790.0 billion, or an average of $15.818 billion dollars per year over its fifty year history”.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Budget

Also from the wiki page
“the final cost of project Apollo was between $20 and $25.4 billion in 1969 Dollars (or approximately $136 billion in 2007 Dollars). The costs associated with the Apollo spacecraft and Saturn rockets amounted to about $83-billion in 2005 Dollars (Apollo spacecraft cost $28-billion (Command/Service Module $17-billion; Lunar Module $11-billion), Saturn I, Saturn IB, Saturn V costs about $ 46-billion 2005 dollars)”.

You are right about the new deal, just watch Albert Bartlett’s exponential growth lecture and any illusion of industrial civilization being sustainable is blown apart by simple arithmetic.

The most important video you will ever see!

just watch Albert Bartlett’s exponential growth lecture and any illusion of industrial civilization being sustainable is blown apart by simple arithmetic.

I've seen it. The 89 year old Dr Barlett doesn't say industrial civilization is not sustainable, he says growth (resource) is not sustainable. Fine. But then, after a couple dozen repeats of the scariness of exponential arithmetic, how growth is bad, how decline in per capita oil use can only mean calamity, then a lot of the usual cut and paste from Churchill, Galileo, Huxley, Mincken, Eric Sevareid, M.L. King, etc, I started getting a sense of some ruthless extrapolation, reminding me of own scary example.

I noticed my own local exponential growth example some time ago. I turns out my young son was doubling his weight every five months. This means that by the time he reaches age 15 he will have doubled his mass 36 times, reaching the mass of the entire human race. Everyone will have to leave. Sorry.

I keep hearing about this mythical industrial civilization that is not built on a growth model here. The industrial civilization that I live in has an economic system that was set up assuming growth. Theoretical industrial societies and theoretical economies are pleasant to think about I guess, for some folks, but has little relevance concerning limits to growth. I very much doubt humanities ability to switch to a non growth economy under duress.

Your son will stop growing before he grows to large to be relatively sustainable, therefore industrial civilization will stop growing before it grows to large to be relatively sustainable? That train has long left the station. Humanity is in deep population overshoot and has already triggered a mass extinction event.

The industrial civilization that I live in has an economic system that was set up assuming growth.

I don't follow the insistence that civilization must have resource growth. Are we all assumed to inevitably buy ten washing machines, ten microwaves, else the economy must not only decline, but collapse? We know there is enormous economic value in, for instance, modern software with no embodied material at all, but that is somehow theoretical and does not count? In *developed* countries, we know energy used per economic dollar generated has fallen drastically, we know energy per capita is falling, we know population is falling in several developed countries, that fertility rates are below replacement in most all of them, that percentage forest area is increasing in most all of them, while percentage of land used for agriculture falls. Yet almost all of these economies continue to grow.

I attempted with my whimsical tale of junior's growth to draw attention to whether growth must be ruthlessly extrapolated into a crash or whether there is some fixed or base amount of resource growth that can occur before maturity is reached, after which the system can still flourish and grow in many other ways besides acquiring more resources: in the case of the young (and myself) I hope for more growth in education, know how, experience, and, with luck, wisdom.

But apparently that scenario, base resource with non-resource growth on top must be ignored, the response must be that only "industrial" civilization's exist in the real world, they must grow or collapse, software and the like is not real. Fine. I'll just be puzzled why you are so emotionally invested in the concept.

Yet almost all of these economies continue to grow.

Do you have data showing that almost all economies that are using less energy are growing? I certainly see China growing - but by drastically burning more coal. Most of the economies I see are deeply in debt and struggling to grow.

Here, and I'm referring to developed countries only.

There are some troubling cases more recently because of their debt loads: the PIGS, maybe Japan down the road, further down the road - the US if doesn't control debt.

“I don't follow the insistence that civilization must have resource growth”

Stop population growth and get rid of debt that is borrowed against future growth and you would not need resource growth. If you someone comes up with an economic model that cuts out consumerism that would be great.

“We know there is enormous economic value in, for instance, modern software with no embodied material at all, but that is somehow theoretical and does not count”?

All modern complexities require a functioning economic system to run them. Again our current economic arrangement was set up by men who assumed the early growth rates of the industrial revolution would become the norm. So when net energy per capita began to fall, growth became hard to achieve. The debt levels began growing quite like the scary exponential math in Albert Bartlett’s video. As cheap energy is flushed from the system we can watch economic growth wither, or use deficit spending to keep up the appearance that everything is normal.

“In *developed* countries, we know energy used per economic dollar generated has fallen drastically”
Energy down debt goes up. Energy is the life blood of industrial civilization
“in the case of the young (and myself) I hope for more growth in education, know how, experience, and, with luck, wisdom”.

I am with you there 100%!

“I'll just be puzzled why you are so emotionally invested in the concept”

I hope I am not coming off to emotionally, but I am concerned about the fact that humanity has already triggered a mass extinction that may take out the base of the food chain. Humanity also has about 6 billion more people on the planet than could be supported without industrial agriculture. We are working on wrecking are climate, it may already be in a devastating heating trend that could leave the planet uninhabitable for humanity. Peak fresh water is approaching as well as peak phosphate.

I am not going to rave about any of these things, I may be wrong of course. I wish you and your family all the best, and hope for a sustainable way of life to emerge after industrial civilization is done wrecking our planet.

Numbers like that are misleading, because developed countries outsource the "dirty" industries - by passing environmental laws that make it too expensive for energy-heavy industry to stay, or simply because they've used up all their resources and so start to import products instead of manufacturing them domestically. Plastic gewgaws, TVs, cars, fertilizer, and aluminum parts manufactured in the country use energy; if they are manufactured somewhere else and imported, they don't use any.

So that doesn't mean we are really using less energy; we're just using it somewhere else.

Even software takes more resources than you think. It requires an infrastructure that is energy intensive. Not just computers and the internet, but educating and supporting the people needed to design the software and computers, manufacture and maintain the infrastructure, package, ship, and support the software, etc.

This sounds like you're making the argument that we can have a thriving economy by doing each other's laundry. But in the end, it comes down to resources. Someone has to support the software writers. Someone has to do real work: produce food, shelter, clothing, and other material goods, deal with the waste produced, etc.

I keep seeing this strawman stood up and swatted down, that if one argues that only a fixed amount of energy and material is required to continue economic output, then they are arguing that *no* resources are needed. Clearly this is not the case.

If one looks at the numbers, educating and and feeding people is a fraction of the energy load. This can be, and is, done in the developing world (e.g. India) for 0.75 kW/person (total energy, not just food&shelter), compared to the ~9kW/person in the US with the huge personal transportation energy budget, big houses, and meat heavy diet.

In the economic system, it is a delusion to say what's 'real', or that this industry supports that one. If software were not 'real', then it would have no value, nobody would by it. There is software in every farm tractor now, every combine, an in every computer of course that farmers use to track the futures market.

That's the point. The exponential growth can't and won't continue. How the end of growth is achieved is nominally up to humans, but it will be achieved.

The "89 year old" Dr. Bartlett makes a damn good point. Your post was strangely irrelevant.

This is exactly *not* the point, exponential resource growth has already stopped in many places.

Thanks for reposting that lecture link, I lost it. Should be compulsory viewing for everyone.


NAOM, I fully agree. I watch that lecture a few times a year to avoid complacency!

Regardless of what political motivation might be assigned to the SPR release it more important IMHO to understand how it may, or may not affect gasoline prices. See the chart (http://blog.heritage.org/wp-content/uploads/SPR.jpg).

From the day the president announced the SPR release on 23 June 2011 fuel prices rose slightly until the release began on 25 July. Prices began to drop and continued doing so through the end of the year. But the greatest decrease in price had already occurred in the 3 months preceding the release. In general the decline in prices followed the trend that was already established. It's useful to understand at what price the SPR oil was sold for: essentially for the market price oil was selling for prior to the release. The govt, by congressional law, cannot sell SPR oil for less than market price. SPR oil is benchemarked against Light La. Sweet. In the 2011 release LLS was selling around $108/bbl and that's the price the SPR oil was sold. Las week LLS closed about $128/bbl. If the price deck doesn't change much we should expect the next SPR release to sell for about that price.

The refiners that bought the SPR release paid the same price as they would have paid for the other purchases. If they had no demand for an increase in purchases they would have simply cut back those purchases proportional to what SPR oil they acquired. The pressure would have been on other exporters to lower prices to regain that lost market share. It does not appear they made that choice. Of course, they knew the amount of release was limited by US law and thus only had to wait a month for normal purchases to resume.

As far as exports go no oil/NG produced from federal leases can be exporterd without govt approval (it has been done in the past). I know of no regs prohibiting the export of any oil/NG not produced from federal leases.

Aust oil output slumps but gas jumps

Australian oil production has sunk to a 41-year low and is set to continue falling because the energy sector's focus has switched to gas.

Oil production last year fell by 18.9 per cent to 92 million barrels, the lowest level since 1970, the latest report by Adelaide-based energy sector advisory firm EnergyQuest showed on Monday.

Doing the math that comes out to 252 thousand barrels per day in 2011. That does not jive with what the EIA says Australia is producing. However the EIA and JODI figures include condensate and this article is clearly crude only. But still that is not enough to make up the difference.

Australian production in thousands of barrels per day. The EIA data is the average through November.

Australia	EIA	JODI	This Article
    2010	435	420	311
    2011	358	344	252

Ron P.

And of course you have noted the discrepancies between BP/JODI data bases for 2010 Saudi production versus the EIA, and we see a similar pattern for Texas, regarding the discrepancy between the Texas RRC and the EIA (for both oil and natural gas).

This sounds like a case of cause / effect confusion. Is their oil output really falling BECAUSE they are switching their focus to gas, or are they switching to gas because the oil production is falling? At least here in the States, the latter is closer to the truth. Companies would love to produce more expensive oil, but because it's getting scarcer they drill for less-profitable gas instead.

PT in PA

Well it is getting less profitable to drill for natural gas here due to the very low price of gas. As a result drillers are switching to searching for oil.

Chart Of The Day: Rig Count Reversal Since 2010

Rig Count

The chart above displays updated data from Baker Hughes on rig counts for oil and natural gas drilling in the U.S. Over the last two years, there’s been a complete reversal of the share of rigs drilling for oil vs. gas. In March 2010, there were almost two rigs drilling for oil (926 rigs out of 1,392 total, or 66%) for every rig drilling for natural gas (466 rigs, or 34%), and now that’s completely reversed, with 1,296 rigs drilling for oil out of 1,973 total rigs (66% of total) and 670 rigs drilling for natural gas (34% of total), for a ratio of almost 2:1 in favor of oil.

Ron P.


Good point re US drilling... but my question was about the statement that Australia is producing less oil "because the energy sector's focus has switched to gas".

Anyone more familiar with the Australian situation want to weigh in on that?

Anyone more familiar with the Australian situation want to weigh in on that?

I have no specific expertise, other than being an Australian with an interest in the energy industry. Most of the major companies involved in oil production are also those involved in NG production, and there is an enormous pipeline of NG production investment off the north-west and northern coasts. I haven't heard of a significant oil discovery for ... possibly a generation.

Australia's non-organic wealth is based mostly on minerals (iron, nickel, zinc, gold, uranium, magnesium, alumina, etc), plus vast coal resources of course, and increasingly NG. Oil just bubbles along it seems, in some steady-state production miasma, as far as I can tell. I don't even know of much exploratory drilling occurring.

Is there a typo?

" In March 2010, there were almost two rigs drilling for oil (926 rigs out of 1,392 total, or 66%) for every rig drilling for natural gas"

I see no typo. I did the math and it works out to over 66 percent, almost two out of three.

Ron P.

Yes, it looks like a typo. The graph shows GAS drilling twice as high in 2010, but the text says OIL drilling was higher then. That ratio would apply to the current situation, not the March 2010 situation.

Typo or not, it is a very informative graph

SW - Folks have to be careful what they read into those numbers. For instance, what makes a well's objective oil vs. NG? This is what BH says about their own numbers:

"The determination is made by the operating company when the rig permit is issued by the state's permitting authority. The operator makes a judgment call on how to classify the well. For example, if a well is producing – on a Btu basis – 50% gas; 20% NGLs and 30% oil, it could either be listed as a gas well (gas is the largest component), or an oil well (which is driving the economics). This judgment is solely up to the operator."

Consider the wells drilling for the oil-rich fractured shale reservoirs. They produce a lot of oil but some produce a lot of NG also. Even if a public company is drilling for a target that's mostly NG (in volume if not value) they might chose to self-classify it as an oil well...makes a nicer story to Wall Street these days especially with the price differential between oil and NG.

A more meaningful classification would be the name of their target. That would make it much easier to distinguish between conventional targets and the unconventional like the shale plays. But in the end the take away is the same IMHO: a big switch from primarially NG targets to the oil rich unconventional shale reservoirs.

If there is a major switch to NG as a fuel, i.e. displacing the need for say 1/2 of oil usage in US, has anyone ran the numbers on how long NG supplies would support that level of consumption before sharply declining?

Minas Crude is light(ish) and very sweet.

Minas 35.3° 0.09%

Note that Tapis is lighter (45.2°) and sweeter (0.03%) but cheaper ($135.19).


Maybe Minas is in demand for electricity generation in Japan? Doesn't explain the Tapis price though.

PLATTS ANALYSIS: Japan's use of ESPO crude for power generation seen limited

With a gravity of 34.7 API and sulfur content of 0.54%, ESPO crude could, however, be used as direct-burning feedstock if blended with Vietnam's Su Tu Den crude, which has 35.1 API and a 0.05% sulfur content or with Indonesia's Minas crude which has 34.2 API and a 0.09% sulfur content, Fujisawa said.

A Japanese power utility has started using Russian ESPO crude as direct-burning fuel for power generation in at least one of its oil-fired plants, as part of efforts to diversify its thermal power feedstock, Platts reported February 16.

200 dollar oil is a clear possibility and I hope it does.

No sense in having 150 million cars racing to the next red light.

Demand destruction probably has to be created.

I totally agree with your $200.

When I flow with city traffic I get 17 mpg, but when I slow down and time lights I can get 21 mpg(and maybe few fingers). It also doesn't take me any more than an extra minute to get where I'm going either.

From the Bloomberg article on German Renewables..

"The program will cost 200 billion euros ($263 billion), about 8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2011, "

Interesting to see that the German investment in Renewable Energy is roughly on par with the Budget slice (~5-10%) that Ukraine still spends annually for Chernobyl Cleanup.

(In 2000, Wired had the annual costs for Ukraine at 12%, 'on dealing with the consequences of the Chernobyl accident. ' .. http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2000/07/37417 .. though I've also heard 5% and 7% quoted elsewhere..)

..ok, it's the 'GDP' for Germany, but still a worthwhile counterpoint, IMO.

That clean, safe and too cheap to meter electric power.

The downside risks for fission are more than the owners of the plants are able to pay.

They're more than everyone together is able to pay.

Viable option or just another attempt to salvage an automobile-centric transportation system: When the road charges your electric car (video).

I know this has been mentioned before, but the video provides a good visualization, including a view of the coils involved. I can see many problems with this scheme, primarily costs and maintenance. How to tax vehicles of differing efficiencies? How to repave a road full of these coils? Blackouts and grid failures? (System overload when the grid is restored?) Electrical losses? Rural roads? ...

From wiki-answers: "According to the most recent (2007) data available, there are 2,615,870 miles (4,209,835 km) of paved roads in the U.S." According to the video these folks estimate a cost of $800k/mile to install this system. We can't even maintain the roads we have at this point, not to mention the cost of deploying millions of vehicles equipped to utilize this system. Techno-fantasies abound as some attempt to bargain with reality.

That makes me look at the Kubler-Ross list and wonder if there isn't a cultural blindspot in it that should be considered.

'Bargaining' is a loaded word in the US, I don't know for UK and Europe as much.. but it sort of intimates futility to American Ears, who are often Loathe to take on the interaction OF bargaining.. when the fact is, we're coming face to face with hard realities, and we'll simply be forced to make 'Light-of-day' deals with the Devil all along the way now. We probably can't expect the convenience of a Prix Fixe menu anymore and have to relearn how to Haggle and Cajole, even when all the tomatoes are 'Small and Sour' ('Good thing they was small, then!')

Many of our fixes will be 'Techno', and they'll also be Temporary and Failure-prone and Expensive.. but we might have to dive into them anyhow.

Personally, I think there might be some argument for having EV's and 'Town Power' systems that let certain Main Roads be Wired, whether it would be inductance coils or standard overheads.. and vehicles (a lot less of them, mainly working cars and trucks, I'd think) with a lot less weight, and just a couple miles worth of batteries loaded in, to get them to and from the powered areas.. this way, they could be FAR lighter, and thereby do far more with the smaller batts they do carry.

There are lots of combinations, and I'm not eager to diss them all. I don't mind that most folks are expecting we can continue BAU and Happy Motoring. I think they're wrong, and I still think the bits of tech we CAN incorporate won't really spare us from a rough awakening out of this Comforatble Cusions Dream we've been living.

We will have to pay that ferryman.

It's primarily capitalists, not commoners, who insist on cars-first, no matter the costs or the absurdities of the promises that will supposedly sweep away the laws of physics. The public has no access to basic information, let alone robust choices.

Meanwhile, the more resources we waste on "electric" cars, the lower our chances of rebuilding for genuine sustainability.

$35,000 Nissan Leaf EPA range 73 miles

$28,000 Mitsubishi I EPA range 62 miles

Stark testament as to the extreme utlility value of oil, and how much simpler we may need to go to continue without it.

That said I am more encouraged about electric bikes and perhaps cheap(er) NEV's.

Well, you are ignoring the $7500 tax-credit available for those cars but that is fine since it will need to go away eventually. However, those prices should drop a bit in meantime. And you need to consider that you save $1000+/year in less fuel costs.

But what is so bad about a $28K car that goes 62 miles? That covers most commutes. ~$28K is the current average price paid for new cars these days. Rent/borrow a gasser when you need more range. Sure, people won't be happy about losing range . . . but it beats walking.

At some point some sort of tax structure for electrics and high mileage hybrids will likely be initiated to offset reduced fuel taxes for road maintenance. States are already seeing more revenue shortfalls as consumption has dropped. How long will EV drivers get a 'free ride' as far as roads go?

spec - But there's the hitch in you get-along. What so bad about a $14,000 car that goes 450 miles (highway) that as nice a ride as one of the e-cars. Forget about the range and consider just how much gasoline one can buy for $14,000 at $4/gallon. That equates to over 120,000 miles of driving. And that's not taking into account what you have to pay for electricity for you e-car. And heaven forbid you have to replace the batteries.

I drive a Kia SUV that gets 23 mpg and it cost me $11,000 less than your $28K car. And it's loaded with niceties...probably the nicest car I have ever owned. Don't get me wrong: e-cars are great if you can afford them and don't care of they cost too much. But for the vast majority of drivers they just don't seem to make good economic sense. But not so bad if you're swapping a $38k ICE for a $38K. OTOH I've always consider cars as disposable items and have never paid more than $22K for one.

Another hitch, your ev may be obsolete by trade in time. Battery tech is still evolving. Most likely today's ev car batteries will be nearly worthless in 6 to 8 years.

But most likely, you'll also be able to find after-market options for battery alternates well before then for any of the marketed EV's.. you can certainly come up with ways to put varying chemistries into the conversions, and in this Hack-a-day situation, EV's will have a number of nice options to offer.

Don't forget that the first thing we'll see in a new serious pinch is going to be gas lines, triggered by one thing or another. Your EV and your Extension Cord could have literally thousands of optional charging spots, when half of the dozen Filling Stations in town are dry, and the other half are swamped, no?

If early adopter EVs being obsolete due to much better battery technology becoming available then EVs have a GREAT future ahead of them. They should hope for such 'problems'. We should all hope they suffer such problems!

The battery for my Leaf will not be worthless in 6-8 years. It is projected to have around 70% of capacity at 8 years. Since I can get 100 miles out of a full charge now, that will be a 70 mile range. My roundtrip commute is 45 miles. Should last quite a few more years until I can't make the commute on a full charge. At that point, I will probably be able to charge at work, so will only need to have around 30 miles capability on a full charge. Sure I will need to use my ICE vehicle for a few thousand miles per year for long trips, but 75-80% of miles will go on the Leaf. Look to the future, man!

I think if battery tech greatly improves, your options a few years down the road will be:
(1) Continue with your current setup.
(2) Sell the weakened by now Leaf battery at a steep discount (can be used for utility power storage), and purchase a new better battery, and enjoy greater range than the car was new.

Not sure what the impact on the resell value of (1) is. It could be lower (because of the low battery of an old and oldtech battery). But, it might be higher because of the option for the buyer to do (2).

Like so many future things, it is not completely clear how degrading batteries will be handled. Certainly you can continue for a while but eventually some type of replacement must occur. It may happen in various ways:
1) Replace individual modules/cells as they go bad. I assume they have very good instrumentation so that weak/dead modules/cells can easily be identified and swapped out.
2) Replacement of the entire pack with a new/remanufactured pack. This has the advantage of being able to replace a battery pack with new/better battery technologies as they come along.

My sister still drives the Civic Hybrid that my mother bought in 2003. She'll be looking into replacing the battery soon. Some choices explained:


IIRC, the individual cells are no longer made for these early models, so new cells from existing stock are expensive. The less expensive choice is to buy a refurbished battery using used cells.

Standardization and competition would drive down costs and solve replacement problems. Some of us have been beating this drum for years:

Urgent Action: Battery Size Standardization
White Paper on the need for and obstacles to battery size standardization.

If the auto industry does not settle on battery size standardization for hybrid and electric vehicles, then electric vehicles (EV's) will remain expensive which will severely limit the market growth. Without competition and high volume, lithium batteries will remain expensive. Unfortunately, other issues such as serviceability, reparability, availability and replacement cost may hurt the future growth of EV's. There are other issues which could change this outcome. Outside of the engineering issues, there are issues such as what World competition does or what setting a National Energy Policy to limit imports of foreign oil through user taxes would do. But the future must include standard interchangeable battery modules to be successful....

...Let's get back to battery standards and why they are so important. We talked about the OEM's, but today, most Li based battery companies have sole supply agreements with the OEM they are working with. Why would they support a standard size battery that anyone could make? They would rather sit still and retain their sole supplier roles for as long as possible. If you look at the amount of taxpayer dollars going into these battery companies, we need more intelligent output than what we are going to get. ARRA allocated $2B for advanced battery manufacturing and another $400M was earmarked. There is more when you consider both Federal and State the tax credits available as well. Are any of these batteries being produced going to be interchangeable? I do not think so. These battery companies can make "any size" any OEM wants, but at what cost and time? If there were standard sizes, then batteries would come at a much lower competitive cost and be developed in less time. A perfect example is what happened to GM on the EV1 and S10-EV programs. The Delco Remy lead-acid batteries were a problem and how did GM solve that problem? Since SAE had developed J1797 battery module size standard, Panasonic and Toyota were already using that standard module size, so GM was able to buy batteries from Panasonic and use them in mostly S10-EV's and fixed their battery problem very quickly. The EV1 fix was putting in NiMH batteries, but it was easy to do because Ovonic's batteries were developed to J1797 and were interchangeable. Similarly, Ford was using the standard size module but had Delco Remy building it as an 8V module. When Delco Remy was not able to make it, Ford bought the lead acid 8 volt batteries from East Penn. This is what standardization does...

I was on the Tesla forum a while back and commenters were generally against standardized batteries. They feared it would make their batteries more likely to be stolen. I guess if you can afford a Tesla ....

They don't want standardised batteries because they want you to buy Their batteries from Them at Their price and not shop around or buy 3rd party at discount.


Indeed, that's been the basic economic model used by the auto companies for decades. They build a year's worth of their vehicles from parts and store an additional batch of parts for sale later. They assign 1/3 the cost of all the parts to the new vehicles and 2/3 the cost to the spares. Then, they sell the new cars at roughly what it costs to make them, especially at the end of the model year when their tooling costs have been amortized, which creates a mini monopoly for their spare parts, especially body parts. They know from statistics what fraction of the cars will be wrecked or otherwise need those spare parts, so they are able to make their profit on selling the spare parts. It's all part of the Plan...

E. Swanson

Perhaps the auto industry needs to rethink things and agree on standards like the computer industry has for decades. The PC didn't really take off until standards were defined for power supplies, memory, data storage, bus architecture, etc. Some of these standards fell by the wayside over the years, but backward compatibility has been great. I installed an old ESDI hard drive in my brother-in-law's new computer last year so he could retrieve some old files that were lost. That drive and card had been in storage for 18 years; sounds like a jet starting up, just like when it was new.

It seems that if EV manufacturers could just agree on simple stuff, battery dimensions and connection configurations, they would sell more EVs and cut costs. Should have been a requirement for the bailouts.

Perhaps the auto industry needs to rethink things and agree on standards like the computer industry has for decades.

True enough in many ways (Apple excepted), but printers remain a nightmare ... they practically give away quality printers at gas stations, but they aim to charge you a fortune for the tiny and idiosyncratic ink cartridges, plus include a lot of firmware to prevent you re-filling carts, or using cheap generics. The printer itself is bait just to get you addicted to the ink.

Peak ink ?


Your post and some of the others reminded me of a web page that discusses something called the MPG illusion.

The illusion is caused by the fact that MPG versus cost savings is a very non-linear function.

It is here: http://www.efficient-mileage.com/mpg-illusion.html

The gist of it is that there is much to be gained if you have a low MPG car and decide to upgrade to a higher one but once you get to 25-30 MPG you get into rapidly diminishing returns and there is little justification for spending big bucks for the higher MPG after that.

According to the graph presented there there is more gas savings going from a 10 to a 20 MPG car than going from a 20 to a 100 MPG car.

The illusion is caused by the fact that MPG versus cost savings is a very non-linear function.

That's why Europeans (and Canadians) use litres per 100 km, which is a much more linear expression of the same thing. It's irritating trying to convert from one to the other because it's an inverted unit compared to MPG, but the European version is more realistic for comparing fuel consumption.

10 MPG = 23.5 L/100km; 20 MPG = 11.8 L/100km; 100 MPG = 2.3 L/100km

Well I can't buy gas for only $4/gallon right now . . . and I suspect it will only be more expensive in future years (kinda the whole point of this board, right?). So unless you have a massive tank to fill with that $4/gallon gas, you'll have to deal with higher prices in future.

That $28K EV is only $21K after the tax-credit. The costs of the electricity is pretty cheap . . . $500 for 15,000 miles.

Are EVs cost-effective right now? Probably not. (They might be if gas prices rise sharply in the coming years but who knows?) But this is the first year they have been available. Did you really think they would come out and immediately make oil obsolete? No! Does that mean they'll never be any good? No! I don't understand this binary view.

As EVs get cheaper (probably slowly) and gas prices go up, you'll eventually hit a tipping point and get more acceptance. They are not a panacea . . . but it is better than the zombie apocalypse that many seem to see. They won't ever replace all gas cars. But they will eventually may great commuter cars. And since that is what cars are mostly used for, that should make them pretty useful.

In 1983 the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X received approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and become the world's first commercial handheld cellular phone. When it was made available for purchase just a few months later on March 6 1983 it ignited a demand for personal wireless communication. Everyone wanted to be the first to get their hands on these awesomely unwieldy portable analogue brain-fryers.

Motorola's DynaTAC 'Dynamic Adaptive Total Area Coverage' let you talk for 30 minutes, could go a full eight hours between charges, was 13 x 1.75 x 3.5 inches in dimension, boasted eight hours of standby time, took 10 hours to recharge, featured an LED display and memory to store thirty "dialing locations". Wooo.

Oh yes, the price was some $3,995 in 1983 dollars.

'nough said?

You can buy one for nostalgia's sake.

And most EV's (at least the mass produced ones) will be smaller and lighter owing to energy density differences between gas and battery, which means lower speed and lesser destructive power. All of this will translate to lower fatalities on the road.

Forget about the range and consider just how much gasoline one can buy for $14,000 at $4/gallon. That equates to over 120,000 miles of driving.

Yep; wrong time, wrong EVs.

My scenario is set 25 years in the future, when a US of almost 400M people is "scraping by" on 6-9 million barrels per day of liquid fuels from all sources, and the available fuel is continuing to decline. Rationing is firmly in place, guaranteeing that the military gets its share, agriculture gets its share, etc. A typical person gets a quite small allocation, but will be guaranteed some allocation because rationing-by-price will have been killed off by populist pressures. Small, light EVs like MIT's city car (to pick an example), but with battery tech that is at least somewhat better and cheaper than today's, will be quite popular in some parts of the country.

I think it will take restricted access to fuel to motivate any sort of widespread conversion to EVs. At that point, purchase of EVs is a necessary investment in preserving housing values. The suburbs are not going to have disappeared, replaced by massive new high-density urban housing construction. There are parts of the country where this can work; there are also parts where the electricity supplies are likely to be stressed to the point EVs are impractical.

Mc - Understood. And now I'll throw a hitch in your get-along: if we're only burning 6-9 million bbls/day how many folks could afford any car let alone an EV? You increased population about 30% and are using a lot less energy to fuel the economy. Unless your predicting a watershed of cheap alts fueling the economy (and the many $trillions of capex needed for that expansion) we should be in a very deep depression. A deep depression that would probably last until we invaded the ME and took back our God given right to all that oil.

But this is where I think the economists have a good point . . . the economy will adapt. Just because you are so familiar with a heavily oil-based economy, that doesn't mean economies can't run w/o lots of oil. We humans have existed for a couple hundred thousand years with essentially no oil, we can certainly adapt to having less oil.

How exactly will we adapt? I don't know . . . no one knows exactly. We can look to previous times when we had less oil and other economies around the world that use less oil to get ideas of how it will work, but it certainly won't be just like them. We will use some things they do. We will also use various technological innovations like EVs. I don't see a world where we do a 1 for 1 replacement of gas cars with EVs. We will use more public transport. We will use more rail. We will use more hybrids and PHEVs. We will simply travel less.

But I don't believe that less = permanent recession. They don't live in a permanent recession in Africa. It is just a different way of live. I guess you could view it as a permanent recession relative to our system but I don't think that is a good view. It is just a different economic equilibrium reached. We will have a very different equilibrium when we are forced to live with less oil. Actually, we are achieving it right now. I think the term "new normal", although often used sarcastically, is actually accurate.

spec - I agree...economies adapt. But the adaptation isn't always pleasant. The German economy adapted after WWI to the austerity/restrictions imposed upon it by Europe. That didn't work out very well for much of the world including Germany. It remains to be seen how the Greek economy adapts if the EU bailout doesn't go through. I'm not predicting matters would ever get that bad in the US. But how bad is too bad and how many millions US citizens will suffer?

Africa? I've worked in Africa. You're correct...some don't live in permanent recession. In Equatorial Guinea the majority of the population lives in perpetual depression. They don't really have a metric for unemployment. The members of the small ruling tribe have jobs thanks to the wealth generated by their oil exports. As far as TPTB the rest of the population has not right to employment. They survive at a subsistence level until hunger and disease kills them. And no one cares. Neither the EG govt nor the US and EU that import their oil. In that sense the EG economy and society has adapted quit well to the oil wealth that began in the late 90's. The ruling class is doing very nicely and the rest of the population is slowing dying off. El Presidente's plan to stop spraying and treating for malaria is moving the adaptation right along.

Again, I don't expect matters to get that bad for the majority of our citizens. But what about the minority that may have no place in our adapted economy? Will the rest of society support them and their offspring perpetually? Back to the hope that the economy will adapt in such a way that it doesn't generate a significant and permanent impoverished class. I've yet to see signs of adaptation that will lead us away from such a future. In my part of Texas in the last few years we've spent many $billion expanding the highway systems leading to the burgs. Is that the type of beneficial adaptation you see in our PO future?

I'm not really ranting at you directly. You just caught me in one of my worse doomer moods in a long time. LOL.

Rock - There has been a lot of justification after the fact which doesn't actually relate to the facts themselves in history. Britain didn't improve their economic prospects through force of will, innovation or good political action. Britain simply gained access to North Sea oil at a time which just happened to be extremely convenient. Too much is made of 'free markets, capitalism and leadership' when the reality is that access to resources and the benefits derived from them is the key to economic prosperity. It isn't really a product of American innovation and enterprise that America is the most prosperous country in the world, the truth is that America had and still has a significant quantity of resources available per capita and was able to continue extracting and exploiting other countries resources beyond her borders.

As long as America still retains the biggest military and as long as the world continues to use U.S.D. as the means of exchange then this system will continue indefinitely. The major problem is that people forget what 'butters their bread' so to speak, the real sources of prosperity and the causes for that prosperity to be diluted. Having increasing population subtracting resources away from productive enterprise based off finite and deplete-able resources means that increasing quantities of resources are needed simply to sustain increasing numbers of 'less useful mammals'. Regular Joe accountant simply cannot say that he has produced even a fraction of the resources that the Rockman has. One guy with a back-hoe fueled on Rockman juice is far more useful than 10 guys with spades, yet population growth is seen as a positive?

It seems that there is absolutely no real understanding of cause/effect, unintended consequences and the fact that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. For instance, whilst I am no misogynist I do have to acknowledge that the results from equality with women in the workforce has and always will be a selective one. For every man/woman who steps out of the household to work instead of having the wife/husband staying at home there has to be someone else replacing those non paid services at a rate of earnings less than that of the extra worker. So if your husband goes out to work as well as the wife, someone else has to earn less money doing things like cleaning, cooking, looking after the kids etc at a rate of income less than the person whose household jobs they are replacing. Your wife may be your equal in the workplace but your maid certainly isn't.

If the coup attempt had succeeded, I wonder how things would be now. There may or may not be some truth in the following claim (I don't think the CIA is talking).

CIA foiled Equatorial Guinea coup plot, says Simon Mann

It was the CIA that foiled an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea seven years ago, according to former mercenary Simon Mann, who spent five years in African jails before being pardoned in 2009.

And now I'll throw a hitch in your get-along

And I'll ask about the political will for road repair along with snow and ice removal on the roads.

Responses to various interesting comments...

Absolutely, how well the economy adapts to reduced oil is an important issue. I think there's actually a lot of ability to adapt to shrinking oil supplies. The US burns a lot of oil for things that add little or nothing to the economy: moving an individual student from home to high school and back; or allowing poor people to ignore their tire inflation, and getting 2% worse gas mileage; or letting people mismanage a trip on errands so they drive 15 miles instead of 5. Tick off the usual list of steps for helping adjust that are proposed whenever gas prices get high: car pooling, telecommuting a day per week. Over the course of 25 years, replacing a lot of 18 mpg SUVs that are grossly over-engineered for 90% of their use with 40 mpg (or better) hybrids. Expanded light rail. Electric or LNG heavy rail, and moving freight transport off the highways. Five carrier strike groups instead of 11. 1,000 fewer jet fighters. It's at least feasible that we can run on 6-9M bbl/day, although it's certainly not BAU.

Some areas start with more or less disadvantages/advantages than others. New England's dependence on fuel oil for winter heating. The population east of the Mississippi being more uniformly distributed than the western population, with a subsequent need for denser transportation networks. Distance of food and energy production from the centers of population. For example, it takes only a fraction of the diesel to move a ton of Powder River Basin coal to Denver that it does to move it to Georgia (which consumes a surprising amount of such coal). Las Vegas may dry up and blow away if air traffic gets too expensive -- no four-day weekends in Vegas from the East Coast if you have to spend 24-36 hours traveling by rail each way rather than 5 hours by plane.

Regarding road repair -- moving freight off of roads onto rail reduces the amount of repair needed enormously. Damage increases as the fourth power of axle weight. Looking at the traffic mix on a road like I-80 across Wyoming, it is apparent that essentially all of the damage is due to the big trucks (or things like weather).

Nail on the head, imo.

Is there any doubt we are going to have to get to 6-9M bbl/day anyway in the next 10-20 years? To the extent we insist on this colossal, debt ridden, wasteful use of oil, the harder the fall.

We tax liquor, cigarettes, and excessive income but (18.4 cent) gasoline is a sacred right.

All this talk of EV cars is baloney.There are 1 billion cars on the road worldwide and we expect a couple of hundred thousands per year to save our butt.Get real.EV is good for tech discussion but is not a solution in the short,medium and long run.Anyway regulars on TOD are aware of limitations to production due to Lithium and rare earths needed by the industry.I am not talking price etc which are also drawbacks.

It's not baloney at all. It can't replace ALL or even MOST cars, but EV's can be out there moving people and essentials with energy that's not nearly as vulnerable as Gas and Diesel. Their maintenance can be next to nil, with Regen Braking, the need for even pads and rotors essentially goes away, along with motor oil, coolant, air filters, gas filters, spark plugs and dist. wires.. they can be very durable vehicles, with an extremely simple drive-train.

But as I seem to ALWAYS have to mention.. this is not to replace the Whole Fleet of autos running today.. it's just to be able to have SOMETHING that's able to get around. We'll still need that, and these will become much more clearly economical when the fuels and constant replacment parts for Typical Autos starts to skyrocket.

Yes - as long as humans are around, there will be a need for vehicles. Carriages, cars, whatever. EVs have some potential, and more potential if we start thinking in different terms. The range increases as the speed is brought down, right? I expect if oil becomes TRULY dear that speed limits will be brought down again as a fuel saving measure. At that point, EVs will start looking better and better. At 35 mph, the Nissan Leaf goes about ~130 miles. That's WAY further and WAY faster than a horse team and a carriage.

Of course, that is for more distant travel. Bicycles will probably rule cities at that point. Rural areas will probably be settled back into the small-town focused pattern of 100 years ago.

The question to me is what tech we will be using. Unless we have a collapse of civilization, EVs are a possibility for a substantial amount of travel.

I do really think we'll see the serious introduction and growth of some version of the Human/Electric Velomobile as a common sight on the roads, uh, 'soon'.

I've got a sketch that I keep on a wall of a rough design for a Faired Pedal/Trike that can be quickly linked to a two-wheeled Pedal Trailer-for-one, and maybe a couple of such trailers, so you can have a super-lightweight ride for yourself, but can clip on extra seating and Horsepower when required, for the family. http://s831.photobucket.com/albums/zz240/Ingto83/?action=view&current=rr...

I've also been chewing on ways to make a mix of a Wheelchair/Adult Trike for my elderly Dad that would give him some supported mobility around town, and ALSO link onto my Velo-Rig, so we'd BOTH have Pedal and Handle Power, Modest Electric Motors, and Regen Brakes and prob small PV canopies for a bit of battery support. If I gave it a Spitfire Paint job, I think Dad and I would be in Heaven out on Portland's streets.

"I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandpa, not screaming in fear like his passengers.."

People Power

Is that supposed to replace air force one?
The pres will have to give up smoking.

Ah, he'd TOTALLY be smoking in that thing!

Alan Sheppard; 'Now fix your problems and let's LIGHT this candle!' - The Right Stuff

You are going to get a lot of argument on that one Michael. Haven't heard the term "commoners" used much in the USA. That is mostly a British term. We like the term "middle class" here. But I think you are wrong on that count anyway. People want cars, that is what the suburbs are all about. Without cars they would be a wasteland.

As to your last line, we have no chance of building a genuine sustainability for seven billion people regardless of the efforts we make for the mitigation of declining fossil fuels.

Ron P.

As to your last line, we have no chance of building a genuine sustainability for seven billion people regardless of the efforts we make for the mitigation of declining fossil fuels.

You are 100% right on that statment Ron!

We won't reach sustainable levels until global population numbers drop below one billion. And the longer it takes us to get there the more damage we will do to the carrying capacity of the planet and the lower the population number will have to go to reach sustainable.

I am with Ron on this one, 'commoners' want cars. They want luxury, it may so appear that many people who live in the sterile and safe environs of industrial societies want to go green and local and all that but in reality the majority will not willingly take a cut in their living standards. Ask them if they would all make substantial changes to their lives so that they can cut down on wastage and the answer would be a resounding no.
Do people care about Leibig's law of minimum or how much potash supply is left or what it takes to bring food to their table or how difficult it is to wire a solar panel and wind powered generator to the grid and get a stable voltage. The answer is no, they don't and don't have the capacity to do so.

IMO most people react to memes, like the current meme of 'going green'. Maybe if someone can make living on low energy somehow look cool, enough people will take to it (at least to start a cultural meme), but that's highly unlikely. Sometimes the cliched portrayal of Joe six pack really is true.

I am with Ron on this one, 'commoners' want cars.

All products are consumer driven, but the question is what will most be able to afford when oil is 225 a barrel? An EV maybe, but at a much lower price. There is also the question of how long will EV battery systems work before requiring replacement - will they be economical in the long run? It's not hard to see that as the economy contracts from high oil prices, profits shrink, jobs pay less and EV's are probabaly not an answer to keep BAU.

We end up living on a much smaller scale locally, transporting short distances in much smaller vehicles. Probably size of transport is in direct proportion to strength of economy. Once we end up living locally, each community will have a vehicle that is allocated only as necessary for transporting what's needed for the whole community. "Hey, we get to go in the truck! I haven't been in the truck for over 2 years!"

What EV boosters haven't figured out is that if oil is at 225 or some price tipping point, they won't need car because they won't have a job to drive to. No, this isn't snark but rather reality. You can't take "our" consumer society, jack prices up a bazillion dollars because of energy costs, and expect it to survive.

Me? I'll convert my big, old 4x4 truck to woodgas. I've got the plans, parts and knowledge to do so right now. Had them for years. Like other country people I also stock engine oil, filters and the whole bit so I can go a long time.

If you're worrying that I won't have gas to cut wood for the truck, no problemo. I'll convert one of my generators (got three of them - 2,8 & 23kW) to woodgas and run one of my electric chainsaws. FWIW, I have two electrics and five gas chainsaws. And, if push comes to shove there are the hand saws ranging from 3-7 foot.

Sorry to be smart a$$. But I am really tired of attempts to somehow keep BAU going.


It would be painful without a doubt, but $225.00 oil might not be as apocalyptic as one might expect. I guess it depends to some degree on how rapidly prices move higher.

NEW YORK -- Oil at $110 a barrel is taking only half as big a bite out of Americans' pocketbooks as it did in 1981, the last time Iranian shipments were disrupted.

The cost of a barrel of crude in the United States, adjusted for total disposable income, was $107.92 in January of this year, compared with a peak of $213.44 in the same month in 1981, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and the Energy and Commerce Departments. Oil consumption was 4.8 percent of income in 2010, compared with 9.7 percent in 1981, the data showed.

See: http://old.post-gazette.com/pg/12070/1215776-84.stm

And you're hardly a smart ass, Todd; far from it.



If you are seriously considering woodgas, you should at least take a pass at it now. There is at least a year of practical learning involved, I would say. Don't breathe even a little of the fumes!

That inflation adjusted price Bloomberg is quoting is a peak price. According to IHS Cera last year's annualized price was an inflation adjusted all time record. It would be more appropriate to compare the twelve month moving average right now with the twelve month moving average in January 1981. (Brent and WTI)

Average Crude Oil Price for 2011 Poised to Set 150-Year High, IHS CERA Analysis Says

Global benchmark Brent crude oil expected to average the highest in both real and nominal terms since the earliest years of the modern oil industry

An all time record 'real' annualized price for crude certainly has to bite harder than the all time record 'real' peak price?

Average Crude Oil Price for 2011 Poised to Set 150-Year High, IHS CERA Analysis Says

How can CERA know that and yet continue to deny any peak oil issues? Do they just blame all of that price increase on increased demand from China and speculators? When do they accept some reality?

Or maybe we should never talk about 'peak oil' but only talk about 'increasingly expensive oil' because they literally cannot deny that? When a peak occurs doesn't matter to consumers, only the price does.

How true. Doesn't $111 dollars per barrel equal 2.9 Yergin's?

How can CERA know that and yet continue to deny any peak oil issues?

From TOD February, ,"Total liquid fuels were at all time highs in January, according to OPEC and the IEA."

Do they just blame all of that price increase on increased demand from China and speculators?

With that and Iran, is that not sufficient reality to explain the price?

Well they already pay $9/gallon in Europe, yet they have somehow managed to not become a Mad Max post-apocalypse world. So if doubling the price of oil doubles the price of gas then we just need to live more like they do in Europe. Small cars, drive less, use public transport, etc.

So if doubling the price of oil doubles the price of gas then we just need to live more like they do in Europe

Sounds simple, logical and I keep seeing this line of thought put forth here on TOD, however regardless of the easy comparison, it just doesn't seem to work that way.

Andecdotal yes, but my wife and I have already noticed a major decrease in traffic in our part of California where fuel is anywhere from 4.30 to 4.50 a gallon for reg. unleaded. Part of the problem here in the US is take us for example. If we drive up to walmart and our big grocery story, Safeway, it's about a 1/4 tank round trip. If we go into the closest town things are more expensive, so all in all its about the same costs if fuel and goods purchased are taken into account. If we go to Santa Rosa, CA where there are really big stores like Home Depot for building supplies it takes 5/8 of a tank round trip. A full tank of gas is 18 gallons x 4.40 Avg. fuel per gallon. 5/8 x 18 = 11.25 gallons x 4.40 = 49.50 dollars. Many people in our area commute, so call it 50 bucks x 5 working days = 250 bucks a week just for fuel. That's over a 1000 a month!

Now some may say, oh yeah but you guys live in a rural area. True enough, however we know many people that commute about an hour in the morning and the evening every work day. That is not unusual and their expenses will mirror the above numbers. Now, what percentage of europeans can afford over a 1000 a month in fuel costs without it reducing their disposable income and in turn business profits? As those profits go down, they lay people off.

This past weekend I needed to go to Santa Rosa on a Sunday. I thought it would be horrible with slow and lots of traffic, but it was smooth sailing. Why? People have already reduced their driving to what is only necessary. I guarantee once this happens the California economy stalls, unemployment goes up, and businesses, particularly restaurants start shuttering. Wait two months for the other shoe to fall. The northeast is under the same price situation so maybe it will happen there too. Then we have the same problem we had in 08.

However, please don't stop the 'US should be able to do what Europe does' bit though, because it always gives me hope that the next time the price of fuel gets well up over 4 bucks people will get that message and just keep driving and spending to keep the economy steady to slightly growing.

Okay, now if you were driving one of the little 4x4 Japanese Kei trucks that carry half a ton of cargo but get 40-50 MPG, and they were driving VW Polos with the 1.2 L 3-cylinder turbocharged diesel that gets 65 MPG, how much would it cost?

This is how the Japanese and Europeans deal with high fuel prices. Unfortunately, you can't buy them new in the US (but a lot of people are importing the Kei trucks used when they are old enough to get around the import restrictions).

I think we need to change our regulatory system to allow smaller 4-wheeled vehicles. We have so many safety regulations now that many people can't afford cars and instead get motorcycles and thus end up with a much less safe vehicle. Regulatory back-fire.

Yes. And we have had some areas of latitude already. Sure you are knowledgable, I needed a brush up.

NEV laws in US

US Electric Bike Laws

Funny thing when I travel to Idaho ,where they have county road ORV permits I see 'small 4 wheel vehicles' on the roads everywhere. :)

But in Portland Or one is likely to find all manner of beast, from shopping cart trains to velo's. Culturally, the US is ,well, restricted, but not impossible, imo.

The ebike/ecart/etrike area has promise in the practical; and legal relm. I have built 6 so far from components, trouble is I sell them and go the next better battery so quickly. This year I hope to do some extensive riding on the new steed which looks like it has a 50 mile range with basic fairing.


Interestingly, my wife and I were having a discussion this morning as to whether it makes more sense to shop locally or to spend a couple of gallons to get to a larger grocery store in the next town(s). Our consensus was to shop more locally even though the price per item is higher unless there is a real deal at the big chain stores where we can get back more than the cost of the gas. Even though the cost might break even, there would be less wear on the car.

The only big box store we shop at is COSTCO. We are about half way between the COSTCO in Santa Rosa and the one in Eureka. Even though the Eureka store is smaller, we usually go there because the traffic is smooth sailing all the way. Traffic is never backed up or stop and go because things are so rural. FWIW, we only make a "COSTCO Run" about every three months and stock up - it's efficient but I hate the bill which is usually $300-600!


No offense intended toward our European friends, but there are greater distances to travel in the States. I suppose folks could use horses or motorcycles to check fences every morning, but it's difficult to carry enough hay or grain on a motorcycle.

On the bright side (for buyers), I understand you can get a good horse dirt cheap these days...

It's a curious view of the world, given that the topic remains utterly un-discussable in the political sphere, as it always has been. I'm not claiming that the answer would be simple or unanimous, but I remain fascinated by all the supposedly thoughtful people who dismiss the entire population as dumb, corrupt, and uninterested in reality -- all based on a purchased political and media system that permits no access to reality or major choices, if not simply on rote, unexamined stereotyping about "consumers."

Chalking it all up to the will of the masses also excuses the huge ongoing push from above. But I suppose you cynics think capitalists are merely servants. Indeed, see the next comment below alleging that all products are "consumer driven," whatever that means. Corporate marketing is a trillion+ dollar-a-year endeavor. And it's not "May I take your order, sir?"

As to stereotyping Joe Sixpack, I'll say it again -- have you looked at actual opinions? Look at the environment question on the General Social Survey, for instance. A clear majority want to do more collectively to help the environment. And even if that weren't true, what about those who are open to big change, whatever their proportion of the population may be? You aren't really claiming none exist, are you? So, which side are you on here? Why are you doing the enemy's work by bad-mouthing everybody all together? Think about it. If we stop paying careful attention to how the world really works because we've already given up on it ever mattering, then what's the point of even spending time on the issues at all? Do you stop fighting because the odds are long? Or do you seek the truth even when it's complicated?

Basic transportation policy has never been open to serious public debate in the United States, let alone meaningful electoral choices. And it never will be, without a popular movement to force the issue. It's way too important to corporate bottom lines to be allowed off its short, elite leash.

I myself don't like making generalizations and I agree that using terms like Joe Six Pack is not going to help advance the debate any further. It's just that I am frustrated sometimes at the sheer dumb collective behavior of consumers. To give you a specific example (not generalizing) consider iPad or iPhone sales or for that matter most smartphone sales, the entire industry is based on the idea that one must discard their perfectly working cell phones in the dust bin and buy a new one every year or two simply because not doing so means that you are not fashionable or you are not keeping up with the times(whatever that means).

Even if you recycle the old phone/tablet the amount of waste is just staggering, to me this is zombie like behavior. Where is the environmental concern here that surveys talk about ? Rather our media seems to celebrate this behavior. You could extend this smartphone example to any other sector and it would more or less fit. The waste everywhere is staggering. And it's all 'mature' 'adult' individuals doing all this wastage. Are you saying that just because there's advertising on TV they can absolve themselves of this guilt? aren't we responsible for the choices we make.

which is why I said that people react to memes, and right now the meme is 'go green' and 'sustainable growth'

With the majority of iPhones still activated most are simply handed on to other people, I suspect that the cheaper Android phones are more culpable in terms of overall waste due to the nature of their construction. Even today the used price of a iPhone 3G is often significantly higher than the new price of a typical Android device and this back end support is what drives the sales of new handsets because the used price is so high. Even if they get broken, they more often get repaired than thrown away as a cottage industry has built upon around the standardisation that Apple brings given the fact they don't throw 50 different models onto the market.

With the majority of iPhones still activated most are simply handed on to other people, I suspect that the cheaper Android phones are more culpable in terms of overall waste due to the nature of their construction

Quick fact check.
The wireless penetration in US is 102% since 2011. link Which means that almost everyone has a cellphone now, and yet according to you every year millions of iPhones keep getting passed on. Either people are piling on double, triple connections or those activations numbers are not properly updated. How much does an activated iPhone cost per month? and which is more likely ?
I agree that variety causes more wastage, cell phone chargers and cables could probably be standardized (as in Europe) to avoid the enormous wastage that it causes.

An activated iPhone costs no more or less than any non contract phone once the contract runs out. What really matters in this analysis is that legacy iPhones are supported with updates for a good length of time, are durable and also are supported by a wide ecosystem of other devices which are compatible. For instance looking on Craigslist an iPhone 3G is being sold for $125 USD as you can see here: http://losangeles.craigslist.org/lgb/ele/2912644270.html

When the used market is vibrant you'll see legacy equipment kept viable for significantly longer than for throwaway items. The model of new cars and the relationship to used cars with some people buying a new car every 24-36 months or thereabouts and feeding the used market with quality second hand goods applies more when the original product is both desirable and durable.

I do agree that legacy devices are often thrown out too quickly. What the market really needs are durable and high quality devices rather than a plethora of devices with poor quality hardware and short lifetimes. The iPhone model is better for the environment, though it isn't perfect. I would have to say out of all the smart-phones it is the least wasteful out of a particular wasteful category.

Interesting. I have the exact opposite opinion of the iPhone.

Apple dropped support for my wife's original iPhone after only 3 1/2 years. Android, being open source, can be supported in some form for much longer as the crowd takes over support.

An iPhone has to be taken apart and requires soldering to replace the battery, the most likely component to die. Android phones generally have easily user replaceable batteries.

There is still no recycling program for iAnything despite Apple's enormous profits. Perhaps if Apple led the way, the others would be compelled to follow. Right now it's all really throwaway chinese made junk and nothing is really greener or friendlier.

No need to argue. We can agree to disagree. I just wanted you to know that there were other opinions out there.

By contrast, it's a snap to replace the battery in a Blackberry handset or to upgrade your memory, neither being possible with an iPhone. You can also return any RIM product for recycling by downloading a postage-paid mailing label from their website (see: http://us.blackberry.com/recycle/). Beyond that, they can take an amazing amount of abuse, certainly well beyond anything else I've used to date (see: http://www.thestar.com/business/article/1126945--rim-videos-reveal-how-m...). My Bold 9000 is nearly four years old and still going strong whereas I was lucky to get one or two years out of a Nokia.


Apple is notorious for that. Remember when the original iPod came out? Batteries were failing in as little as 18 months - and were not replaceable. Apple basically said, "Who wants to be using last year's iPod?"

Except in America of course cars aren't really luxuries, they're necessities. As necessary as food and housing. Over the past 80 odd years America has evolved into a society which can only function when most adults have their own cars. And due to the distances driven and other factors, these have to be fairly substantially sized cars. Most car-driving Americans probably couldn't switch to tiny microcars or scooters. But this is probably simply not sustainable. How will America make the transition away from universal car ownership? I'm scratching my head trying to work this out, but it probably won't be pretty.

Agreed that much of the US has infrastructure that enforces car dependence, but cars are not necessities in the US. I have many friends and family that live fine without cars (including my 93 mother who still lives in an apartment and uses buses, taxis, and special transit). Conflating car ownership with real necessities like food and shelter, just reinforces car-dependence, not what we need at the moment.

5% of US households do not own cars. http://networkmusings.blogspot.com/2010/03/does-everyone-in-america-own-... ("It is true that 95 percent of American households own a car").
In NYC, 55% of the population do not own cars. http://www.streetsblog.org/2011/04/06/new-yorks-car-ownership-rate-is-on... ("Among all NYC households, 46 percent own cars, according to Census data gathered between 2005 and 2009, compared to 44.3 percent in 2000.")
So around 18 million US citizens are already living without this "necessity".

In our family, we share one car between 5 adults, and the savings from not buying, maintaining, and depreciating all those cars we don't own has really helped our financial situation, plus the walking and biking we do instead helps our health. When I travel by transit, I put in hours that I bill as a software developer, so each transit hour pays me contract rates (~$85). So I consider driving alone very expensive, since the driving time is wasted for any productive task.

Meanwhile, the more resources we waste on "electric" cars,

"electric" cars are an attempt to leverage what was built out on $10 a barrel oil.

Even if every objection to electric cars were to be addressed, that does not address the infrastructure issues.

They say the key to reduced risk in investing is diversification. I suspect the same would be true of energy. Since many (most?) homes in the US are heated with natural gas, with the newfound "glut" of shale gas it might be worth investing in a natural gas powered standby generator dedicated to charging your electric car (BEV or Plugin) if other power sources become unavailable. With your solar system and the grid, you could have triple redundancy.

Why would you think:
i) that all US paved road would need built-in charging, as opposed to just the longer stretches, any more than every mile of current road needs a gas station,
ii) that for scale comparison, this below the road solution should not be seen against, say, the 240,000 km of existing electrified rail network (world),
iii) that the vehicle side cost of road-charged cars significantly changes the on-going deployment cost of vehicles

Building a Better America: Saving Energy and Money with Efficiency

... Environment America recently released a report, "Building a Better America," showing that if the lessons of high-efficiency homes and buildings were applied to all buildings, the nation could reduce energy 24 percent by 2030.

It matters because 40 percent of the nation's energy is used by buildings, the organization said in a press release. "And because much of this energy comes from dirty and dangerous sources like coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power, this accounts for nearly half of global warming pollution in the country."

Read the Full Report

If we do a little reading between the lines, it becomes clear that we use the majority of our energy for something other than buildings. And one of the big things is all the energy used for transportation, such as all the cars used with our highway based transportation.

So if we work on both problems at the same time, for example by moving from a drafty old farmhouse in the far suburbs, to an energy efficient condo a few blocks from work, and then dispose of the old gas burner, we might be able to reduce our total energy use by 80 to 90 percent, not a meager 24 percent.

That would get us down in the range where we could supply most of the energy still needed from renewables, such as solar thermal and solar PV.

Interesting possibility, eh?

Did you guys already talk about this?

FT: Saudi Arabia moves to calm oil market

Riyadh is also de-mothballing fields that were shut down three decades ago, in an effort to maintain a big cushion of spare production capacity. The moves to boost production capacity are not a response to short-term oil prices, but part of a longer-term strategy to maintain a large buffer of spare production capacity, officials said.

They forgot the kitchen sink.

I cut back on your quote. Since the article's behind a paywall, and the part you quoted included a notice saying not to copy and paste the article.

Sorry 'bout that, but it made my kitchen sink comment work :)

If these guys had any spare capacity, they wouldn't need to do half those things.

Leanan- about those paywalls. I understand (maybe incorrectly) that the NY Times is giving only a limited number of articles free per moneth and then you have to pay for the rest. Other online sources are considering this model. If I see a NYT article in drumbeat and click on it, does this count as one of my 15? The problem, of course, is that drumbeat headlines don't include what the source is so I have no idea if I'm clicking on a Times article or not until it's too late.

I think we talked about this before. I don't remember how it went, but I think there is enough effort put into creating all of those , very nice, links. If in doubt, hover. You can always hover over the link, and see where your browser will be going. Each browser shows this information in a different way, but most show it at the bottom.

...and if you reach your limit at a site, you can clear your cache, cookies and all that.

Thanks eastex- that is very useful. This helps me filter out sites that take forever to load or sites that don't add much more than what was quoted (Reuters!)

I was under the impression that if you click on a link to an NYT article outside of the NYT it does not count towards your monthly total of free articles. You'll have to double check that.

The fields they are de-mothballing are Khurais which went on line in June of 2010 and Manifa which comes on line next year and is expected to reach full production in late 2014 or early 2015. Both projects have been in progress for years. The Manifa project was shutdown in late 2008 when the price of oil collapsed but was restarted about a year later.

They needed to de-mothball these fields due to the extreme high decline rate of their other old giant fields. They have kept up with decline... so far.

Ron P.

So, even in Saudi Arabia, the floor price is coming up. If they don't get $100 /bl, then they don't do the project. That doesn't look good for world price averages, going forward.

Russia needs high oil prices--more than we usually think about.

Putin Needs Higher Oil Prices to Pay for Campaign Promises

In American presidential politics, high oil prices are a problem. For Vladimir V. Putin’s new presidential term in Russia, they will be a necessity — crucial to fulfilling his campaign promises to lift government spending by billions of dollars a year.

But doing that without busting the Kremlin’s budget would require oil to reach and sustain a price it has never yet achieved — $150 a barrel, according to one estimate by Citigroup. No wonder economists who specialize in Russia are skeptical. (On Friday, Russia’s Ural Blend export-grade oil was trading at $120 on the global spot market.)

“It’s very hard to overestimate how vulnerable the Russian economy is to external pressures” from the oil price, Sergei Guriev, the rector of the New Economic School in Moscow, said in a telephone interview.

It would be helpful to know what Putin plans to do with hydrocarbon revenues. Fortunately, he's written several essays on the topic. Imagine a common customs union spanning all of Eurasia, the culmination of Bismark's project.

So Tsar Putin, one of the more corrupt world leaders who imprisons his domestic political opponents, falsifies election results to retain power, sells weapons to the Islamic republic of Iran, assassinates his honest underlings using radioactive polonium and invades his neighboring countries, advocates fair play in international matters. Ha, ha, ha....

And just how is he different from Obama in any of your assertions? Oh, I know, Obama has no plan.

As near as I can tell, election fraud in the US is equal opportunity, with Democrats holding "people power" in some states and Republicans owning the unauditable voting machine companies.

Even at that I don't think our election results are nearly as skewed by this as the partisans of either side seem to have convinved themselves of.

Have you visited the Brad Blog, which looks deeply into the issue of election fraud in the USA? I think after you've spent some time doing due diligence there you will have a much different assessment.

Jeff Masters has a good article on just how really freakish this spring heat wave is


A low temp will likely beat the record high for the date, and we have yet another winter snow storm tonite in the NW.

Thanks, Doug. I noticed this paragraph from my neck of the woods:

"International Falls, Minnesota hit 79°F yesterday, the hottest March temperature on record in the Nation's Icebox. At midnight this morning, the temperature was 66°F there, breaking the record high for March 19 (set in 1910) by 6°F. The low temperature for International Falls bottomed out near 60°F this morning, so low for today is (unofficially) the same as the previous record high for the date. This is the seventh consecutive day that International Falls has broken or tied a daily record. That is spectacularly hard to do for a station with a century-long weather record. The longest string of consecutive records being broken I'm aware of is nine days in a row, set June 2 - 10, 1911 in Tulsa, Oklahoma (with weather records going back to 1905.) International Falls has a good chance of surpassing nine consecutive records this week."

In Los Angeles it got down to 45F over the weekend nights... 20F colder than Minnesota!

The jet stream has been sagging down over the western U.S. while staying above the east. Now, that is moving a bit east.


That is what I was referring to...the icebox.

I think this midwest/eastern heatwave is passing under the radar due in part to the timing. People are welcoming the warmth after winter, and the MSM is afraid to rock the boat, only pretty pictures of folks lounging next to water, green grass, flower buds. May be a different picture in 3 months. Here, we had 4 inches on the ground this am, normal wet spring snow.


"Riyadh is also restarting fields that were shut down three decades ago, in an effort to maintain a big cushion of spare production capacity. The moves to boost production capacity are not a response to short-term oil prices, but part of a longer-term strategy to maintain a large buffer of spare production capacity, officials said.

Yet the moves to bring more oilfields on stream would be welcomed by the market, which is keeping a watchful eye on Saudi Arabia’s total production capacity.

Saudi Aramco plans to return the Damman field into production, the kingdom’s first facility that produced oil in 1938 and was mothballed in 1980, according to the IEA."

RE: Europe's Chief Scientist Warns against Climate Delays

Glover accepts that there is still significant uncertainty over the precise level of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere that would trigger dangerous global warming.

I found some interesting material recently (hat tip to Wit's End blog), that greatly clarified my thinking on the question of climate "tipping points". The idea that there are "precise level of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere that would trigger dangerous global warming." is a complete fallacy. There simply is no point at which one more part per million will trigger catastrophe, but below that level, oh thank god, we are fine.

There is, however, a point where positive feedbacks cross a threshold and push the climate system out of equilibrium and into a sort of phase change of runaway global warming that is beyond our ability to control. That is the very definition of a "tipping point", whereas greenhouse gas concentrations are simply an exponential growth curve with very long feedback delays.

The good news? The climate will eventually find a new equilibrium, albeit one not anything like what we have enjoyed for the last epoch or two.

The bad news? The phase change will wipe out 80% - 90% of life on Earth and it will take millenia for the biosphere to recover as CO2 is ever so slowly sequestered again.

Feedback Mechanisms & Catastrophic Climate Change
David Wasdell


The question about a tipping point is also profoundly important. Not only do the feedbacks accelerate climate change, but they reach the point where the power of the feedback overwhelms our capacity to intervene and damp the systems behavior. At that point we move into runaway change over which we have no further control. Once we've passed that threshold we precipitate a mass extinction event, similar to the five that we've already experienced in geological time, with the potential to wipe out 80% - 90% of life on this Earth.

We don't want to go there.

We have to work very fast to prevent the system moving into an accelerated and destabilized process that then pushes us beyond that critical threshold, the point of no return. That's where the urgency comes from in our new understanding of climate dynamics.

I also highly recommend this paper in which he describes the "topology" of the climate tipping point:

Beyond the Tipping Point
Positive Feedback and the Acceleration of Climate change



Here is another video in which he presents a lecture of much the same material to the Tällberg Forum in Sweden in 2008

Planet Earth We Have A Problem


Thanks Jerry, very informative :-)

Some of you may enjoy Jerry's guest post over at TAE:

An Introduction to Agent-Based Modeling

There is a whole world of complex systems and behaviors out there that is far more qualitative than quantitative, far more subjective than objective, far more unexpected and unpredictable, but this world too can be explored using models. Not with precise tools like those used in engineering, but with tools like agent based models.

"We have to work very fast to prevent the system moving into an accelerated and destabilized process that then pushes us beyond that critical threshold, the point of no return."

The "point of no return" is about the point that there will be a "we", as in "we" waited to long. Meanwhile, from todays Tech Talk "The United States Government has just asked the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to raise the levels of its oil production in summer 2012....", so "we" are begging for more oil to burn and our (US) election cycle is dominated, may well be decided, by the high prices of oil. I'm compelled to rename my "Grim scenario #2" from last week to "Best scenario for Planet Earth #1":

AGW/Climate change will become impossible to ignore this summer; the tipping point has been reached. Severe drought in the northern hemisphere's grain growing regions combined with a global heat wave results in the deaths of millions going into 2013; third world and developing nations devolve into chaos as international food trade and subsidies fail. The tremendous heat reveals the truly fragile state of power systems world wide; cascading failures ensue. Economic ponzi schemes, until now propped up by injections of mass capital, follow. Liquidity, already lacking, ceases entirely as debts, sovereign and private, are defaulted on almost universally. Currencies collapse. Shipments of critical goods cease...

A bit alarmist, I know, but it's my opinion that this is what it will take to get ~7 billion humans focused on this one, terrible thing. Until then, there will be no "we" undoing the damage "we"'ve done.

Who can say this won't happen this summer? It is too late and no one in power seems to give a damn anyway. Obama wants more oil. And he is not considered the crazy one. Only consolation is that I am 65. Earthlings are truly screwed.

Give us more oil = fish faster dammit!

Twi - Maybe you're referring to another form of MADOR: Mutually Assurded Distribution Of Roughy. IOW there aren't enough fish left for everyone so you better catch yours before someone else does.

Yeah, I was referring to the posts of a few weeks past where the response to depleting fish stocks was to fish faster before they're gone. Clearly we need to suck harder on those straws as the rate of production drops - now that's leadership!

"Obama wants more oil. And he is not considered the crazy one. "

That is the most succinct summary I've seen yet. :-)

That said, the high temperature was 11 degrees below normal today, again, and there is snow in the forecast tomorrow.

Crocuses are blooming right on time though.

We are also getting blown out. March is supposed to be windy, but this is ridiculous. And tedious.

Obama has to express his support for US oil production, and even increasing it. Whether it's his wish or not, his position does require it.. and he also says the converse in many ways, too. He's got to play the averages, like anyone in his position.

He is also regularly and consistently pushing for alternatives and efficiency measures, while the 'other side' is simply barking mad at this point, trying to make Solar Panels and Conservation the equivalent of Rubber Chickens and Big, Red Noses..

In Maryland Last week, President Obama said;

"They dismiss wind power. They dismiss solar power. They make jokes about biofuels. They were against raising fuel standards. I guess they like gas-guzzlers," he said. "If some of these folks were around when Columbus set sail, they probably must have been founding members of the flat earth society. They would not believe that the world was round."


So, to simply sum it up entirely as 'Obama wants more Oil' is disingenuous and smug.. Sure, he's part of the Monied Party system and expects the party to continue, but I do hope people have a complete view of the Pros and Cons here.. he's got to be held to a much higher standard than he's currently at, but the other side is simply Huffing off of their Conventional Balloons.

.. despise him for trying to Find the Middle if you want, but every alternative to him right now is FAR worse.

Russ Fiengold's speech last week, he said basically, "Politicians WILL follow you, if you lead them.. I can say that now that I'm out.." www.commonwealthclub.org/events/2012-03-01/russell-feingold

So, to simply sum it up entirely as 'Obama wants more Oil' is ... exactly what he has been saying in his campaign speeches, even if the his *actions* have been to the contrary.

US President last Thursday:

...First of all, we are drilling. Under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. (Applause.) Any time. That's a fact. That's a fact. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating oil rigs to a record high. I want everybody to listen to that -- we have more oil rigs operating now than ever. That's a fact. We’ve approved dozens of new pipelines to move oil across the country. We announced our support for a new one in Oklahoma that will help get more oil down to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

Over the last three years, my administration has opened millions of acres of land in 23 different states for oil and gas exploration. (Applause.) Offshore, I’ve directed my administration to open up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources. That includes an area in the Gulf of Mexico we opened up a few months ago that could produce more than 400 million barrels of oil.

So do not tell me that we’re not drilling. (Applause.) We’re drilling all over this country.


Ghung. You are my favorite poster with your thoughtful insights. But I often find you to be an optimist.

I get nervous every time I leave my boat. I position my boat to be able to flee to open sea and anchor for field of fire. Not even conscious thought anymore. I treat every day as a precious gift.

The idea of a billion refugees [ myself included ] keeps my mind sharp and helps me enjoy these good old days.

The speed at which the current paradigm can change with the new emergency powers of even 'select cabinet members' is shocking. Want to complain ? You'll be on another list in an archive.

Still, thanks for a more viable scenario. And all that optimism.

Dave in Malaysia

Thanks, Dave, It's hard to be a pessimist on this beautiful Summer morning, here on the last day of winter. A boat was my second option, BTW. Tasmania or NZ ;-)

Fair winds...

[I could have had a helluva boat with what I've got in this place, but, where to grow the tomatoes?]

Based on the springs wildly hot temperatures, I think your scenario is looking rather likely.

Historical low today where I live is -8 Celsius, tonight's low will be +7 Celsius.

Today's high 22 Celsius, historical high +3.

The forecast low for Wednesday And Thursday is +11 and +16 Celsius.

Forecast high for the next three days is +23, +25 and +25 Celsius.

It's roasting in my office, because they don't have the AC going yet. Who'd think you'd need AC in March?

The anxiety on the announcer's voices on the morning radio drive-in show was telling. They couldn't decide whether +22 Celsius and sunny was nice or something really really bad.

Anyway, perhaps it's starting to dawn on people that Global Warming is real and has consequences. When that sinks in, one should expect that people will start to scurry about in a furious effort to prevent the worst. One might expect that the worst offenders in our carbonized energy society may end up as stranded assets.

The usual suspects come to mind.

Pretty much the same story here. Today's forecast high is 17°C 18°C and Wednesday and Thursday we're expected to hit 20°C 22°C; the overnight lows fall between 8°C and 11°C. Our normals this time of year are +4° and -4°C, so we're some 15°C to 16°C 18°C above where we would expect to be.

You can sometimes experience freakishly warm weather in southern Ontario come late March, but I can't recall anything quite like this in Atlantic Canada, especially along the coastline.

Temperature records were being broken throughout southern Ontario, including in the Greater Toronto area, where it’s been the warmest March on record so far.

Phillips said it’s one thing that records are being broken, but in these cases they are being shattered.

"It’s the duration of it, it’s the intensity of it and the fact that it is covering so much of the country makes it really a March heat wave that is unprecedented. It’s just breaking and smashing records all over the place."

This winter has been the third warmest since Environment Canada started keeping track 65 years ago and the second driest.

"From the first day of spring the kind of temperatures we’re seeing are more normal for the first day of summer. That’s three months from now," Phillips said.

See: http://thechronicleherald.ca/canada/75563-don-t-you-wish-you-were-us-van...

Update: It seems Environment Canada's projections came in a little on the light side... today's expected high is 24°C and tomorrow we hit 26°C, with an overnight low of 13°C -- some 20+°C above our seasonal norms. This is weather we can only dream of come June or July, certainly nothing like we might expect in March.


I mentioned the other day that temp's in central Wisconsin are running 25-40 degrees above normal for BOTH days and nights. It occurred to me this morning that if that differential were maintained through the summer, we would be experiencing temp's ranging from the 100s to the 120s. My garden would likely be a total failure and the situation would be a genuine public health emergency. I know of no reason to believe that temperature differential would be sustained for months to come, but if it were... That would be a really scary prospect.

Magnolias and cherries in full bloom here in eastern Pennsylvania. Crazy. The weather is stunning and I'm trying to enjoy it without thinking about what it may imply.

I was so far behind on my firewood gathering at the end of the fall, and I busted my but to catch up - it was a lot of hard work but I did it. Now the porch is full of firewood I won't need and I'll have to haul back out again.


My woodpiles are still healthy, too. But this is 'Freak' Weather, don't forget, not just 'Hot' Weather. Time to keep your options at hand.

We're now looking at Thursday to be in the 80's in Portland, that's a nice JULY/AUG day for us.. but then a possible Nor'Easter by the weekend. I'm not putting the Shovel and the Parka out of reach just yet.

"Be prepared! That's the Boy Scout's marching song,
Be prepared! As through life you march along.
Be prepared to hold your liquor pretty well,
Don't write naughty words on walls if you can't spell..."
- Tom Lehrer

Well, yeah - I'm not quite ready to start hauling it out yet! The porch swing can wait a few more weeks I think.

I don't think warm temps are as variable as cold season temps. Generally in the colder seasons the pole to equator temp gradient is high, so not much of a north-south replacement is required to make a big difference. During summer, north south diffs are much less. Now if the pattern continues, you'l have very dry soil, which does lead to higher temps (especially highs), so it is possible (depending upon our friendly jet stream) for it to be one heck of a summer. But I don't think youre gonna get +40F above normal (which would be upper 120's).

I seem to recall a few days around 105-106 during my decade plus there.

Welllll, during the 2003 killer European heatwave (tens of thousands dead in a matter of days), reported temperatures in Cyprus reached 135 F.


I hope we don't get anything like that here. But I don't see how we can rule anything out, given the absurd extremes we've already seen. And of course with high humidity the "wet bulb" temperature is what will kill really kill you.

My garden would likely be a total failure and the situation

Farmtek has a growers catalogue and in that you'll find shade cloth.

You might want to read up on how to use that along with HEAVY mulching. Folar feed Nitrogen if you mulch heavy.

You may also wish to consider drip irrigation.

Try these. http://www.amazon.com/Gilmour-Weeper-Soaker-75-Foot-27075G/dp/B001IKU3QM... After pumping my well dry trying to water my garden last summer, I switched to these. They did a great job and are very durable.

Actually I have an extensive drip irrigation system installed and I do a great deal of mulching, along with composting, rotations, companion planting, etc. And my chickens are helping till the soil before planting. But this year I am going to have to learn how to use row covers and invest in them.

I think that the article mentioned is lots of hand waving without detailed analysis. Lovely graphs, but no math to support the claimed effects. And, I think the author misses some basics as well. For example, from a radiative emissions point of view, the Earth will emit energy to deep space at the same rate no matter what happens within the atmosphere. The distribution of energy within the spectrum will likely change but there can not be more energy either reflected or emitted than is provided by the Sun plus a small increment from geothermal. Increases in clouds or particulate matter might result in more reflected sunlight and less infrared, or, the opposite might happen. The fraction of energy emitted by the surface within the atmospheric window might increase, while the fraction within the absorption bands of H2O or CO2 might change in the opposite direction, but the total infrared must equal the energy of the sunlight which is not reflected directly. The oceans will act to store some of the energy but the surface waters above the thermocline represent a smaller reservoir which responds more rapidly to temperature changes.

Lastly, the IR emissions are a function of T^4, thus there is a strong non-linear emission in the infrared which will act as a barrier to any sort of "tipping point" which might lead to a runaway greenhouse without massive increases in CO2 or methane. The effect CO2 is non-linear, for example, a doubling of CO2 from 270 to 540 ppmv might cause X deg C increase but the next X degrees would require an additional doubling to 1080 ppmv. The snow-ice albedo feedback won't have much effect after there's no snow, and the ocean-sea-ice albedo feedback only works during half the year.

Not to say that I think there's no problem, just that claims of imminent catastrophe seem a bit over the top to me. Worse, spreading such claims without analytical support only provides fodder for the denialist camp if these claims later are proven to be wrong...

E. Swanson

The thermodynamic equilibrium surface isn't at a fixed altitude, so the non-linearity is impacted by altitude saturation as well as by mean concentration.

In other words, it can go non-linear in the other direction, too.

But the IR emissions from the surface are a function of T^4, which is has a highly non-linear damping effect. The convectively unstable atmosphere moves most of the thermal energy from the surface to higher altitudes up to the tropopause but above that level, the stratosphere is convectively stable. I would expect that the average tropopause height would increase, but the IR leaving above that level will always be subject to that T^4 emission rate, so the effective TOA emission temperature above that level should appear the same because the energy must still leave the Earth via the same mechanism. One must also consider spectral emissions, not just total energy as measured by a cavity radiometer such as the ERBE wide field instruments. Lets not forget that during the Ice Age times, such as the LGM, large areas of the NH were covered with highly reflective ice sheets, yet the global average temperature is estimated to have been lower by only 5 to 6C compared with the present in spite of what would have likely been a strong positive feedback amplifying any cooling...

E. Swanson

Of course, T^4 operates on Venus, too, but it hasn't prevented that planet from reaching 460 C.

I know, the chemical composition of Venus's atmosphere is far different from any the earth will probably ever have. But there there are multiple feedback pushing the system ever further out of whack.

On the one hand, once all northern ice is gone, you are right that there will be no further amplification from albedo changes. But all the energy that had gone into melting that ice mass will now go into heating the soil, sea and air. And with an increasingly ice-free Arctic Ocean, we have essentially a whole new oceans worth of surface water available to be turned into water vapor. This is not to mention all the terrestrial and marine carbon feedbacks that already seem to be kicking in.

As for the stratosphere, large off-gassing of methane from land and sea sources will mean that more and more of that light gas will find its way up to those levels where it will both destroy ozone and generate water vapor and CO2. Since there is very little of either at that altitude now, this will be like putting an extra blanket over the whole planet.

In general, we are pocking furiously at a system whose instabilities we do not fully comprehend. Like whacking at a hornets nest, the consequences of such foolishness can be sudden, severe, and very painful. So while I do wish Wasdell was a bit more careful with some of his figures, I do find his tone to be appropriately alarmed/alarming.

I agree that the surface of Venus is quite hot, hot enough to melt lead. On the other hand, the surface of Mars is quite cold. Both planets have an atmosphere with high concentrations of CO2, but Mars has much less atmospheric mass. I also agree that humanity is causing some major changes in our planet's climate. My objection to the referenced paper is that there's no analytical connection between the various physical processes and the postulated "tipping points" which would suddenly throw the climate into a runaway change to some new life threatening extreme. Furthermore, I think the description of the physics as presented on page 15 of the PDF is incorrect.

The problem of methane hydrates might result in a sudden increase in methane emissions, but the paper does not analyze this possibility. There's also the problem of changes to the THC and other aspects of ocean circulation, but these would not represent runaway transitions, IMHO...

E. Swanson

Yes, I, too, wish he had tightened up some of his arguments a bit. It is refreshing to see someone stating quite clearly that we have to get completely off of ffs as soon as possible. It makes me feel a bit less like a freak when I say it.

Do you have any favorite sources on climate feedback? It's an area I would like to know more about.

That's an important question and I don't have an answer which you will like. The various feedbacks are the results of the physical processes, as they appear in each model. There's no single number to quantify any one of the feedback processes. The largest is atmospheric water vapor, the amount of which is a function of temperature and location. The temperature varies thru the seasonal cycle and areas over the oceans will exhibit different amounts compared to land. Another feedback is due to clouds, which can reflect sunlight but also reflect and emit IR both downward and upward. Some people, such as Richard Lindzen, have claimed that clouds act as a negative feedback, while most others find a positive feedback. Then, there's the cryosphere where the albedo difference between snow or ice and land or ocean changes the local energy balance. There is a growing awareness that there are biophysical feedbacks, such as changes in vegetation as the climate in an area warms or rainfall changes. Then, there's the oceans, such as what may happen to the THC.

If you haven't already done so, you might read the IPCC AR4 Working Group 1 report (it's available online for free) for an overview. There are now several text books available as well, with a new one written by Ray Pierrehumbert said to be good, Principles of Planetary Climate . (I should read that one myself)...

EDIT: The concept of radiative forcing is useful when considering the various elements of the problem (see IPCC AR4 Chap 2 at link added above, especially figure 2.20). Trouble is, radiative forcing is defined at the tropopause, where it is impossible to measure the effect. Some folks confuse radiative forcing with what happens beyond TOA or call the forcing a "feedback".

E. Swanson

Thanks for the book link, that should be an interesting read.

My point above was simply that Earth's climate system is too complex to simply apply the T^4 rule, even looking at first order effects, because the energy input doesn't just go to temperature, it also goes to a thickening of the active area of the troposphere. This means that the most active area of the atmosphere will be holding more energy (even at the same temperature), which will make room for more dramatic and energetic weather events.

The black body formulations and the radiative forcing solutions only give a crude indication of the total effects on the system.

Thanks, BD.

What you say is broadly true. However, you're assuming an unchanging albedo (amount of reflected sunlight). It will probably go down, becuase of less snow/ice, which means the primary absorbtion of the planet will rise (but probably only a percent or less). The biggest kicker is water vapour feedback. Without water vapor feedback, because of the T to the fourt law, senisitivty to a 1% driver would be 1%/4. But warmer means more water vapour, which is a strong greenhouse gas. That roughly doubles the sensitivity.

At some rate around 330watts/meter-squared (roughly if the planets albedo were zero), then there is a steam atmosphere instability, whereas the hotter it gets, the more steam you have, makes it hotter still, and the feedback runs away. Of course the uncertainty there is what the steam clouds do to the albedo. But, thats not gonna happen, until the sun gets a couple more billion years of aging behind it.

Not to say that I think there's no problem, just that claims of imminent catastrophe seem a bit over the top to me

Speaking of over the top, I think you're reading WAY too much into it.

A careful reading of the presentation shows that his "claim" is that there are very long feedback delays in the climate system and that if we have any hope of avoiding catastrophe decades in the future we desperately need to start thinking in terms of the dynamic behavior of the entire climate system and begin NOW to put in place negative feedbacks to counteract the threat of runaway global warming.

As for "pretty charts and graphs", well, as Gail has pointed out here before, there is a fine art to writing for your audience. If his intent was simply to get across the true nature of the tipping points we face, and the fact that the situation goes well beyond the problem of CO2 concentration, then I find his work to be extremely well presented.


It seems clear enough to those paying attention that the climate system is already out of eqilibrium.

Yes, and that we are already in the midst of a mass extinction event.

Unfortunately most of the species extinctions happening now are out of site. Out of site, out of mind!

Homonym police:
You appear to have meant "sight".

'Twas truly an awesome sight, the sources they'd cite on their site.

Not trying to be mean, I actually agree with what you said. Most extinctions are not charismatic megafauna.

What Are We Going to Do With All This Gas?
from rigzone.

I wonder what it takes to convert trucks to LNG use.


Global Sea Level Likely to Rise as Much as 70 Feet for Future Generations

Even if humankind manages to limit global warming to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F), as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommends, future generations will have to deal with sea levels 12 to 22 meters (40 to 70 feet) higher than at present, according to research published in the journal Geology.

Ah, but we are already committed to well over two degrees, so likely also far more than 70 feet.

Getting U.S. 'consumers' comfortable with the names of foreign places ...

Nuclear Iran: Sites and potential targets

Their should be a Disney ride for that.

Valero Energy To Suspend Refining Operations at Aruba

And another one bites the dust.

So far, half the oil refineries in the Northeastern US have either shut down recently or are going to shut down soon, the big Hovensa refinery in the US Virgin Islands has shut down, and now this big refinery in Aruba is going to shut down. In addition, a lot of refineries in Europe have already shut down or are going to shut down.

For people living on the Atlantic coast, now is not too soon to think about superinsulating your house this summer and changing to a heat source other than oil. If you have any thoughts about buying a new SUV or pickup, forget it. Get the smallest possible 4-cylinder car instead. And get a wood-burning stove and a bicycle, just in case. Your fuel supply and price situation is going to get worse soon.

Get the smallest possible 4-cylinder car instead.

Depends on how much highway driving you do: the smaller the car, the worse the aerodynamics.

Huh? I think the issue is fuel economy, not aerodynamics. If you do a lot of highway driving, get a small turbo-diesel four. And slow down.

Bad aerodynamics mean poor fuel economy.

A Prius C would be cheaper than any of the Volkswagen TDIs, and would give better fuel economy.

Heck, used Priuses and Honda insights (65MPG) are out there for $10k - if price is the important thing, that's the way to go.

How about I keep driving my 1500cc 1999 Hyundai Accent that I bought new 13 years ago? It only gets mid 30's mpg in mixed driving, but then the energy used to make it was spent some time ago. Some of us were paying attention, even when gas was maybe $1. There are plenty of less expensive used cars that will do mid 30's out there, and no one needs to smelt ore to make them nor support the banks or auto companies by buying something new

There is no reason for a small car to have worse aerodynamics, within reason. The coefficient of drag may be worse, but the frontal area is smaller, so net drag is probably better. Especially compared to what people are actually driving (i.e. SUVs and trucks). Maybe something dumb like a SMART would do poorly.

How about I keep driving my 1500cc 1999 Hyundai Accent that I bought new 13 years ago?

If you want. Heck, I drove my 1985 Corolla for 22 years, but I didn't drive many miles. The cheapest used hybrid out there is a 2000 Insight at about $5k - switching to it would pay for itself in about 75k miles.

There's a limit to the possible reduction of the frontal area for a car that allows two people to sit side by side, and the smaller the car is the boxier it is, and the larger the drag. Highway mileage is decent for small cars like the Yaris (36 MPG) and Mini (37MPG), but not what I would hope for, given the sacrifice in comfort.

It's like motorcycles and scooters: their MPG isn't that great because of their terrible aerodynamics.

You're still missing the point that a smaller car has a smaller frontal area and lower drag if you maintain the proportions of the car.

One of the problems with the big American SUV's is that, not only do they have a huge frontal area, but they also have a huge mass which has to be accelerated to speed, and a huge engine which has a large amount of internal friction. As a result, they are gas guzzlers.

In the US, you can't buy cars like the VW Polo with the 1.2 litre 3-cylinder turbodiesel engine that gets 65 MPG on the highway - car manufacturers think Americans don't like them. Well, regardless of whether they like them or not, Americans had better start thinking about them, because that is all they will be able to afford to drive in the not-too-distant future.

Your options will be limited by the size of your income, just like those of the Europeans and Japanese are now.

a smaller car has a smaller frontal area and lower drag if you maintain the proportions of the car.

And that's my point exactly: as a car gets smaller, it's not possible to maintain the proportions of the car. Instead, the car gets boxier and boxier, and the cd of drag goes up. Overall drag doesn't drop much, and may go up.

a huge mass which has to be accelerated to speed

Mass becomes relatively unimportant with regenerative braking: acceleration isn't the problem...braking is.

Your options will be limited by the size of your income

A Prus C is 2/3 the cost of the average new car, and uses 40% as much fuel. An EV like the Leaf costs less than the average new car, and that will decline with time.

Traditionally (non hybrid) weight matters mainly because we have this psychological hangup on acceleration, so me need humonous engines to satisfy the need for thrills. Big engine, means lots of internal losses. Also of course in stop and go, weight matters a lot.
Given crappy rolling resistance of low pressure air filled tires, I think that also scales with vehicle weight.

True, big engines have more internal losses, and rolling resistance does increase with weight.

Still, once you eliminate braking loss (or even 70% of braking loss, like with the Prius, whose battery isn't big enough to absorb all the power, and not that efficient when it returns the power) weight becomes much less important than aerodynamics overall.

given the sacrifice in comfort

This statement tells me you don't get it, on several levels. First, for the $12k I spent on it in 1999, I find it a supremely comfortable car - A/C (that I never use), power windows, sunroof, leather wrapped wheel, one of the most comfortable adjustable seats I've sat in, nice sound system, handles great and will cruise comfortably at 80mph. This is a level of comfort and luxury not dreamed of by royalty a few hundred yeas ago. Secondly, it's a level of comfort and luxury that royalty a few hundred years from now will only be able to dream about, if they can conceive of it at all.

Sure. A nice used car is always a better value than a new one.

Still, if you compare new cars to new cars, or used cars to used cars, hybrids, PHEVs, EREVs and EVs will be a better value.

And, there's not much value to going very small. A Camry hybrid gets 43 city/39 hwy mpg, which is better than any small ICE car.

Nick, you say: "A Camry hybrid gets 43 city/39 hwy mpg, which is better than any small ICE car."

Just so you know, my (not-so) new 2002 Civic 4-dr EX gets near 40, is comfy and even has a "moonroof" and power windows (which I am not yet sure I really like). Of course, I shift my own gears and am sensitive to the optimum efficiency in each of those gears (which traffic doesn't always allow for). Grannies tend to be frugal, and some of us really do know how to drive. :)

Well, the EPA MPG is only 27/33, so you're doing great.

Of course, Prius drivers who are as careful as you often get 75MPG on the highway.

You are correct. Buying a used car is always a crap shoot, so I did a lot of research and shopping before I decided what to spend my little wad on. On some forums I read that they were under rated. I read that a LOT. I didn't depend on it, but it turned out to be apparently so. Maybe I just lucked up and got one that was the best combo of engine, trans, rear end, etc. I dunno. Works for me, though.

EDIT: If it cornered a little better, I'd be tempted to do the Dragon someday, but I would be more careful than the people who underestimate curves and DIE.

Well, a Prius C would be a good choice, but is a bit expensive and wouldn't get its best fuel economy on the highway. A Toyota Scion IQ would be the most fuel-efficient conventional car. The cheapest economy car would be the Nissan Versa or something similar. There are a lot of choices but the key point is to keep it small and efficient.

The trouble with the US is that you can't get the most fuel-efficient cars you find in Europe, like the VW Polo 1.2 TDI. It gets about 80 miles per UK gallon, which would be about 65 miles per US gallon. It would be an awfully efficient highway cruiser, but you'd have to live with a 3-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine that could barely exceed 100 mph on the autobahn.

a Prius C would be a good choice, but is a bit expensive

At $19k it's cheaper than any diesel in the US. That price and fuel efficiency makes it's total cost of ownership much less than a Scion, Versa, etc.

the VW Polo 1.2 TDI. It gets about 80 miles per UK gallon, which would be about 65 miles per US gallon

Diesel gallons have 15% more hydrocarbon, so they put out 15% more CO2.

More importantly, the original US Honda Insight got 65MPG, 10 years ago. Of course, it didn't sell, so it was discontinued.

Impressive. 95mpg in a 1992 Civic.
I guess I'm less left-brain than I thought, because I have to keep looking at the mpg numbers to keep from saying UGGH! I suspect though that doing this in somewhat more aesthetically pleasing fashion, could acheive similar results.

Adding a long streamlined tail to any car would reduce the aerodynamic drag considerably. Trouble is, the resulting car would be very long compared to it's height, thus would be difficult to maneuver on typical local roads. As mentioned below, the Prius has an aerodynamic rear hatch back, not the sharp cutoff more often found on the recent crop of econo boxes like the older Nissan Versa. Ultimately, something like the VW 1 Litre design with fore-and-aft seating would provide the lest possible aerodynamic drag.

The basic problem is that pushing the human body while seated thru the air at freeway speeds generates lots of drag. That's why motorcycles do not provide much improvement in mpg over a small car at 70 mph. A front fairing is helpful, but most of the drag is the result of the low pressure area behind the rider and the bike...

E. Swanson

That's great!

The EV-1 had a Cd of .19, almost as good as that .17. Of course, it was never a production model.

There are quite a few 5 door hatch backs which have poor aerodynamics, but the same goes for the larger SUV's and also newer crossovers. The smaller cars tend to have lower frontal areas as well. As menaus2 pointed out in his link, good aerodynamics can be included in smaller cars, it's just that the car companies don't want to cut down on the available interior volume, which makes the smaller cars more acceptable to the buying public which insists on hauling large loads as part of our consumer cultural delusion. Both the Nissan Versa and the Ford Focus hatchbacks are rated at 36 mpg highway, but their city ratings are lower, thus the combined mileage is rated at 30. The new Nissan Versa coup is rated up to 38 mpg highway and 33 combined, depending on which transmission is selected...

E. Swanson

My wife likes her 2010 Prius. I have read that it has the best aerodynamics of any domestic or foreign sedan. That design may have been done to maximize highway mileage for advertising purposes. It accounts for the unconventional rear windows. In spite of the strange windows we find the rear visibility to be satisfactory.

You are correct.

The superspike next time will not necessarily be caused by a rise in the price of oil, although the rising price of oil - especially of high oil grades - indicates falling supplies relative to demand.

The superspike will more likely be caused by a failure to deliver the right type of oil products to the right locations. More specifically, as most everyone here knows by now, where this is going to happen first (in a major state wide or larger way) is in the Northeast US. This is not something I look forward to, since I am at 'ground zero' where some of the worse effects may be felt.

Had it not been for a rather steep (7%) fall off in gasoline demand year over year, the situation could have been dire already.

I would not be surprised if the US and/or state governments take some sort of emergency measures before long to keep all Northeast refiners operating as close to maximum capacity as possible.

Presumably the situation in the N.E. would be quite dire already had there been the snow amounts we endured last Winter, this Winter, needing to be pushed around and removed. And the much reduced demand (I assume, I have no figures) for heating oil due to the very, very mild heating season.

Found this while looking for something else;


Capacity factors look to be around 40%.

As much as the GOP slammed wind energy our Kansas GOP Gov. and Senator has had editorals and are pushing Congress to extend the tax credit for wind power.

A 40% capacity factor will make these easy-build wind turbine projects VERY PROFITABLE. How anyone could not like the Kansas wind power industry is absolutely beyond any explanation. I am sure the farm land owners who get compensated for turbines on their land are very satisfied, as are the local and state tax collectors and wind farm owners/operators.

How anyone could not like the Kansas wind power industry is absolutely beyond any explanation.

Why, thats an easy one. Anyone making his living selling fossil fuels! That include the Koch's who fund a lot of the GOP candidates. Mostly they know who butters their bread.

My recollection could be faulty, but I think his wind deal was actually a water deal and when the water portion fell through he "lost interest" in the wind component.

How anyone could not like the Kansas wind power industry is absolutely beyond any explanation.

People who operate the electric grid have two problems with it. These are problems that we have to solve at some point, particularly if wind is going to make a significant contribution to the total amount of power in some regions.

  • Dispatch. Electricity supply must conform closely to electricity demand. Not all generators are allowed to produce power at the time and place of their choosing. When a wind farm has higher-than-expected output, that power can be utilized only by requiring a different generator to scale back. Or if the wind farm has lower-than-expected output, someone else has to scale up (or you do what Texas came close to doing last spring, and impose rolling blackouts).
  • Reliability. All generators require at least some down time for maintenance. Scheduled maintenance has to be coordinated so that adequate supplies are ensured at all times. Recall the California debacle when supplies were so tight that it was profitable for a generating company to shut down some of its capacity to create a shortage so it could sell its remaining output at much higher prices. Wind is inherently "unreliable"; it's not possible to reasonably guarantee that yes, the wind farm will be producing at a 200 MW level on Tuesday in three weeks.

These are not unsolvable problems. However, for the last 20 years the US has been moving towards market-based regulation of the electric power system. Dealing with the dispatch and reliability issues in a market-based system tend to make wind farms less attractive investments, at least IMO. It's interesting to note that some of the Cato people, who are as pro-market a bunch as you'll ever find, have concluded that in the case of electricity, the market approach may not be as good as the old vertically-integrated utility approach . Again IMO, wind works much better in that integrated environment.

Yes, a market based system works really well for electric power -- NOT. Knowing that warm weather at this time of the year can result in a surplus of electricity here in Ontario, I checked the ieso.ca site early this morning. Sure enough, the market price for electricity was negative which means we were actually paying neighbouring provinces or states to take the surplus off our hands. The actual cost of acquiring power would have been much higher as a lot of producers are guaranteed a specific rate regardless of the market rate. This is accomodated through a Global Adjustment charge which is currently set at 4.85 cents per kwh. As I write this message in mid-afternoon, the market price has come up to 1.55 cents per kwh which is still far less than what most producers are actually being paid.

The Cato people thought that markets could work, it's just that it would take at least as much regulation as the vertically-integrated utilities did, and probably require more surplus generating capacity to be available at all times than the old vertically-integrated utilities were criticized for having. The steady tinkering that has been necessary in the PJM Interconnection market mechanisms is indicative of the complexity. It looks like 2012 may be the year that PJM's capacity market comes apart, with both New Jersey and Maryland state governments starting to take steps to bypass that market in order to get added capacity built.

It did work for Enron...until it didn't.

I take it the situation becomes even more problematic once Bruce A Units 1 & 2 come back on line?

See: http://www.thestar.com/business/article/1149210--bruce-power-repairs-rea...


I think a look at the AES Laurel Mountain wind farm project in W. Virginia might inspire some optimism for the electric grid operators. See www.aesenergystorage.com and to check some of the top hits if you google using the search words - AES wind farm west virginia - .

Saudi Arabia moves to calm oil market:

I noticed something interesting. The following passage, from a prior version of the FT article, is not in the current version:

Riyadh also appears to be storing crude oil in overseas locations in anticipation of a surge in
demand for Saudi oil later this year, according to the International Energy Agency. The
kingdom used the same storage tactic last year to deal with the supply shortage created by the
civil war in Libya, officials said. The kingdom held stocks in Rotterdam in the Netherlands,
Sidi Kerir in Egypt and Okinawa in Japan.

In any case, I wonder if the Saudis are shifting stored crude oil from facilities in Saudi Arabia to overseas locations, in anticipation of a possible attack on Iran. And if so, how much of the reported surge in production consists of inventory transfers?

Very plausible, but, will it make any difference? I mean, when the first bomb drops, the price spike will cause such a demand destruction, that we won't need that oil for a while. OTOH, maybe they anticipate quite a long down time. Or OTOOH, maybe we are all wrong, and they are just pumping oil out their ears and have to stick it somewhere.

I've always calculated production from closing inventory minus opening inventory plus sales. When SA reports production to JODI, for example, I assume they are reporting actual production.

Seems like everybody is trying to 'Get the Hell Out of Dodge'...

Iraq Seeks Alternative Oil Shipping Routes Amidst Iran Tensions

Iraq may be looking into reviving inactive pipelines in order to get its oil to global markets, as tensions over Iran can result in the closure of the Strait of Hormuz. About 80% of the 2.2 million barrels of oil Iraq exports daily flows through the strait ...

Iraq’s plans include shipping more oil to the Port of Ceyhan in Turkey, ... They could also ship more oil aboard tanker trucks in the short-term scheme. For long-term options, the main option is to again open a pipeline into Syria and Lebanon that was closed by the revolution that followed the 2003 U.S. invasion. Another pipeline that can be resurrected is the one to Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea port of Yanbu that has been inactive since the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

“If you believe Hormuz will be closed, I will sell you the Empire State or the Egyptian pyramids,” Ali al-Naimi said in a briefing with reporters in Doha, Qatar today. “I want to assure you that there is no shortage of supply in the market.


And Ali is shouting to markets we have more while the crude price falls today.

"Saudi Arabia increased production to 10.047 million barrels a day in November, the highest in at least three decades. The kingdom, the world’s biggest crude exporter, has the capacity to produce 12.5 million barrels a day and will pump about 9.9 million barrels a day this month and in April, he told reporters at the Ritz Carlton hotel in the Qatari capital."

same link as above.

The Oil Price that Launched a Wall of Ships

Vela, the shipping arm of Saudi Aramco, hired over a few days 11 so-called very large crude oil carriers, each capable of shipping two million barrels, to deliver to U.S.-based refiners.

Strategic Petroleum Regatta?

Is it possible that the Saudis are trying to ship every barrel of oil that they have stored in anticipation of a war with Iran?

OLN, no clue really, but thought it might relate here. If true ,think this is really only a few 'extra days' of imports. They would certainly anticipate an economy crippling price shock. They might be basically showing Iran some muscle being so public about it.

I understood Gulf Coast refiners in particular are becoming more important to the world finished product markets.

It be interesting to know how much was destined for the struggling NE US refiners given supplies to there would be a real concern in any disruption.

I understand from an industry contact that it's all headed to start up the Motiva refinery expansion in Port Arthur.... partly owned by Aramco and with throughput capacity of 600 kbpd....

Where else but on TOD? thanks NFE!

As far as I can tell, without having any direct evidence, there was a significant discrepancy between stated Saudi 'output' and actual exports for about the last three months. They could have accumulated about 10 to 12 million barrels in additional storage in this time. Again I don't know how much they had in existing storage before or after recent output changes or where it was located.

It appears to me that the extra oil shipments that KSA booked last week could well mostly or entirely come from storage.

However since OPEC exports have slipped about 300,000 bpd this year already, according to tanker tracker, Oil Movements, it's not clear what if any effect the extra shipments will do except to help get through a short term crisis.

A little while back I found it curious that the Obama administration asked them to send more oil, and I figured they knew full well that KSA couldn't pump more and wondered what was really going on. And now look - here it is! Nicely played. But in the long term playing with storage does not change the real output rate, only messes with short term prices.

From a few weeks ago:

Exclusive: Saudi oil exports surge, seeks to sell more

Saudi exports surged to just over 9 million bpd in the last week, compared to an average of about 7.5 million for January, three industry sources said.


The export data for the past week shows sales to Asia climbing to 6 million bpd with volumes bound for the United States approaching 1.5 million, a three-year high.

"Output" is vague, could mean either production of exports.

OPEC exports to fall in 4 weeks to March 31, says analyst

LONDON: Seaborne oil exports from OPEC, excluding Angola and Ecuador, will fall by 160,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the four weeks to March 31, an analyst who estimates future shipments said on Thursday.

Exports will reach 23.41 million bpd on average, down from 23.57 million bpd in the four weeks to March 3, UK consultancy Oil Movements said in its latest weekly estimate.

And what was it a year ago?

OPEC crude shipments fall for fifth week

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will reduce crude exports for a fifth time in the four weeks through March 26 2011, according to tanker-tracker Oil Movements.

Loadings will drop to 23.56 million barrels a day in the period, down 1.3 percent from 23.88 million barrels a day in the four weeks to Feb. 26, the Halifax, England-based company said in a report.

Exports are lower than this time last year despite Saudi claimed boosts and Libyan production returning.

Saudi Arabia plays storage and shipping games and rotates temporary boosts and cuts around the regions to fool the gullible.

I did some further digging, and there indeed has been some improvement in Saudi exports to the US as compared to the period one year ago, and late last year.

However it is very much unclear if the total Saudi exports, in general, have increased over last year. In fact, they may not be increasing at all - just more is being allocated to the US.

Readers may remember that in news almost exactly one year ago, there was talk of a 'deal' for the Saudis to export more 'East' and less 'West' to avoid a price bidding war after Libya went offline. The resulting oil shortage in the 'West' was soon made up by IEA releases of oil reserves (use of the SPR in the US).

A report on the recent Saudi shipments can be found here:

Statistics on Saudi imports into the US, from the EIA can be found here:

In addition (not online), the nine tankers managed by the Saudi company 'Vela' headed for the US were intended to start leaving on March 20 (today) until about two weeks from now. Due to a sand storm at Saudi Arabia's main shipping port, Ras Tanura, last Sunday and Monday, these shipments may be delayed.

Anyway, the latest shipping bookings from this week indicate that this surge described above may be over for now, and shipments to the US in mid-April will return to their normal range.

Charles - "In fact, they may not be increasing at all - just more is being allocated to the US." I don't think this would stand as solid proof of my MADOR (Mutually Assurd Distribution OF Resources) theory but you know what some say about "sounding like a duck". LOL. Given the tensions in the ME it should 't be a surprise to see certain PTB in the area making nice with certain powerful customers. That power might be military (USA) or commercial (China). And then consider how China is building closer ties to Canada. Kinda like picking teams for sandlot baseball: "Ok...I'll take the KSA and you take Canada." And poor little Indonesia just stand there with its hands in their pockets, gets picked last and is stuck in right field. The kid who owns the bat and ball is critical. But he can't have a game if some of the other kids don't join him.

Builders ready for home construction rebound

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Home builders are getting ready for a stronger construction season, filing for the most building permits in more than three years, in another sign of recovery in the long-battered housing market.

The government reported builders filed for permits at an seasonally adjusted annual rate of 717,000 in February, the strongest reading since October 2008, which was the month after the meltdown in financial markets. It marked a 5.1% rise from January and a 34.3% increase from year-ago levels.

I went to pick up my tile saw from a builder friend who borrowed it. It's a nice house in a gated community, 5700 square feet for two people (their second home, to "get away from the rat race"). 400 amp electrical service, insulated to code (!), 4 bedroom, 4 1/2 bath, high ceilings, imported travertine everywhere, etc. It was a good solar site, now with a home designed (poorly, IMO) to defy the elements rather than utilize them. It would fit nicely in any upscale suburb. This, in a small community that still has over 80 residential foreclosures listed, many never or barely occupied. The new owners are both in 'finance', so I guess they can afford to build their dream home (for now).

Anyway, the visit left me a bit doomed out. It's still hard to see many changes. I used great restraint though, out of respect for my friend; glad he's still working...

The new Pearl Harbor?

The New York Times: U.S. War Game Sees Perils of Israeli Strike Against Iran

WASHINGTON — A classified war simulation held this month to assess the repercussions of an Israeli attack on Iran forecasts that the strike would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States and leave hundreds of Americans dead, according to American officials. ....

The two-week war game, called Internal Look, played out a narrative in which the United States found it was pulled into the conflict after Iranian missiles struck a Navy warship in the Persian Gulf, killing about 200 Americans, according to officials with knowledge of the exercise. The United States then retaliated by carrying out its own strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Premeditated revenge.

Does anybody know what the war window looks like?
Start the war after the hottest days of summer are over, so gas masks don't kill us?
Summer driving winding down.
Not too close to the election?
Seems to me, the window is September 12 to September 15.

I had heard April to June, as Iran is less cloudy then. The schedule would be determined in Tel Aviv, not Washington. The longer they delay, the more stuff Iran gets moved into deep bunkers, putting it out of reach.

I believe that it is impossible to narrow the window down to 3 or 4 days. The Israelis will strike when they are good and ready, although probably before the 2012 election in the US. The war game scenario seems to paint a very realistic and sobering analysis of what the results will be. My concern is that the US/NATO death tolls might significantly exceed 200.

There are several things to consider when trying to assess what the impact will be on oil prices. Initially, there will be a spike in prices just due to the outbreak of hostilities. Secondly, if the Iranians mine the Straits of Hormuz it could take weeks or months to clear the area in order to resume normal two-way traffic with VLCCs. Thirdly, will there be strikes on oil facilities on either side of the Persian Gulf?

Israel will most likely attack around the New Moon, Most air attacks have been. The 1st Gulf War, Iraq & Syria Reactors, etc....

So around

22 March, 21 April, 21 May,.....

Dust storm grounds jets on carrier Vinson

Large dust storms aren't confined to land in the Persian Gulf. The dust regularly blows out over the water, where it can affect maritime traffic. That was the case on Monday, March 19, when dust blew off Yemen and Oman, obscuring the water and grounding aircraft aboard the carrier Carl Vinson, which is based in San Diego.

also Satellite captures images of sandstorm

The sands that blow in that region are extremely fine. They can penetrate many sealed enclosures, such as removable radomes and exposed gear boxes. If you remember correctly it was sand intrusion that caused the helicopter failure during the failed rescue attempt during the Iran Hostage Crisis. Because of that incident the military has paid extra attention to how tight seals really are. However, in this recent case they apparently are taking no chances and grounding the helicopters. Or they know they still have vulnerabilities.

Or its just not worth the extra wear and tear, so they wait till tomorrow.

Airborne volcanic ash will apparently melt and coat the inside of operating jet engines, I suspect sand will do the same. Expensive, even if you manage to make it home.


Saudi Oil Output in January Was Near 31-Year High, Data Show

One can wonder about the why of that, considering that they had a policy of slowing increase so as to preserve some of their reserves in the interest of posterity. Perhaps they are being pressured by legal events in the U.S., now taking place against them.

Brazil Bans 17 Chevron, Transocean Managers From Leaving Country

Or perhaps they think that the prosecution of oil executives for crimes will chill development in other parts of the world?

President Signs Executive Order Allowing Industrial Takeover

Or perhaps they think that a secret, classified interpretation of Executive Orders will follow the path of the secret, classified interpretation of the Patriot Act, which might affect the oil barons?

Airlines group warns over rising oil prices

The International Air Transport Association, or IATA, says it now expects earnings will likely decline to $3 billion in 2012. That’s down from December’s forecast of $3.5 billion, based on an expectation that oil prices will average $115 a barrel. At present, the benchmark New York rate is trading at nine-month highs around $107 a barrel.

Tony Tyler, IATA’s chief executive, said the industry’s diminished profit forecast for 2012 could turn to losses of more than $5 billion if oil prices spike to $150 a barrel due to Western tensions with Iran.

And this from the Seattle Times Yesterday:

Some Analysts Think There Is A "Bubble" In Plane Production.
Seattle Times (3/20, Gates) reports, "Boeing and Airbus are ratcheting up production of narrowbody aircraft to excessive and unsustainable rates, according to many industry insiders at" the annual conference of the International Society of Aircraft Traders. Despite Avitas analyst Adam Pilarski calling this a "bubble" in the industry that will not last, Mike Bair, Boeing senior vice president of marketing, "expressed total confidence that the market will absorb all the 737s Boeing can make." Pilarski also predicted that "artificially high" oil prices will eventually drop, providing less of a case to purchase more fuel efficient planes. The article notes "Pilarski's notion of a bubble in jet production was supported by many conference attendees."

Anyone plan to buy Boeing stock?

Focus on technology overlooks human behavior when addressing climate change

The approach of the International Panel on Climate Change assumes alternative energy sources -- nuclear, wind and hydro -- will equally displace fossil fuel consumption. This approach, York argues, ignores "the complexity of human behavior."

Based on a four-model study of electricity used in some 130 countries in the past 50 years, York found that it took more that 10 units of electricity produced from non-fossil sources -- nuclear, hydropower, geothermal, wind, biomass and solar -- to displace a single unit of fossil fuel-generated electricity.

"When you see growth in nuclear power, for example, it doesn't seem to affect the rate of growth of fossil fuel-generated power very much," said York, a professor in the sociology department and environmental studies program. He also presented two models on total energy use. "When we looked at total energy consumption, we found a little more displacement, but still, at best, it took four to five units of non-fossil fuel energy to displace one unit produced with fossil fuel."

"I'm not saying that, in principle, we can't have displacement with these new technologies, but it is interesting that so far it has not happened," York said. "One reason the results seem surprising is that we, as societies, tend to see demand as an exogenous thing that generates supply, but supply also generates demand. Generating electricity creates the potential to use that energy, so creating new energy technologies often leads to yet more energy consumption."

Jevon's Paradox

Before I got to the bottom of your post I was thinking Jevon's Paradox. That paradox tells us everything we need to know - that any and all economically profitable available energy will get consumed. In laymens terms, we use whatever we can get our hands on, always seeking more. like Edward G. Robinson said in Key Largo, "Sure, that's what I want, I want more!"

Conflict in the Hormuz Strait and the Implications for Africa (pg 29-31)

Hostilities could entrap 9% of the world’s tanker fleet within the Persian Gulf. Indian Ocean Rim states like South Africa who use Iran sour crude for its Natref refinery supply (98,000 b/d) and Sasol (12,000 b/d) will most likely see a significant disruption … refinery compatibility makes substitution difficult …

Total global oil reserves can last 130 days. However, African coastal depot reserves are reportedly calculated in mere days duration and economic slowdowns would take effect within the first week of conflict even were diplomatic solutions immeadiately attempted.

Other 2nd order effects: Depending on the date of the attack, interruption of agriculture, due to lack of diesel, could exacerbate food shortage for millions.


Bloomberg: Saudi Arabia Can Raise Output 25% If Needed, Naimi Says

Saudi Arabia (OPCRSAUD) can increase production by as much as 25 percent immediately if needed, the country’s oil minister said, seeking to allay concern over supplies that has driven prices to the highest in three years


“If you believe Hormuz will be closed, I will sell you the Empire State or the Egyptian pyramids,” Ali al-Naimi said in a briefing with reporters in Doha, Qatar today. “I want to assure you that there is no shortage of supply in the market. OPEC is supplying what it needs, we have capacity, additional reserves of 2.5 million barrels” a day, he said.

Well, that's a relief (;-)...

Oil Prices set to Plunge by June

... The US Congress has created a regulatory environment where a small group of financial kingpins can rig the markets and send prices skyrocketing without fear of reprisal. That said, it should surprise no one that the chief regulator overseeing the multi-trillion dollar oil futures market is former Goldman Sachs partner, Gary S. Gensler, who now chairs the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Here's a little background on Gensler:

"In March 2009, Senator Bernie Sanders attempted to block his nomination to head the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. A statement from Sanders’ office said that Gensler “had worked with Sen. Phil Gramm and Alan Greenspan to exempt credit default swaps from regulation, which led to the collapse of AIG and has resulted in the largest taxpayer bailout in US history.” He also accused Gensler of working to deregulate electronic energy trading, which led to the downfall of Enron, and supporting the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which allowed American banks to become “too big to fail.” (Wikipedia)

It sounds like the fox is guarding the henhouse, doesn't it? And that's why speculators are taking John Q. Public to the cleaners.

The "financial industry" won't stop unless something stops it. This could be another crisis that leads to a state takeover of banking, a popular revolution (ala French revolution or Arab Spring), or simply all the blood being sucked out of the west (in which case they'll try to move on to China and India). Since right now they basically control the state, not the other way around, I think number 1 is out. The level of dissatisfaction is not yet up to what is needed for a popular revolution, and you would need some part of the police and military to break off for it to succeed. So, it's number 3 until the west is impoverished.

I couldn't handle that article, so I wrote a rebuttal.

I read your rebuttal Frugal, it was spot on. Thanks.

Ron P.

Glitches halt oil exports from new Iraq terminal

(Reuters) - Technical glitches have halted exports from Iraq's new offshore oil export terminal for the past week after it loaded just a single tanker, two sources at the state-owned South Oil Company said on Tuesday.

The first of four single-point mooring (SPM) terminals, which are being built by Australia's Leighton Holdings Ltd. , opened on March 8 after being held up for weeks by bad weather and technical issues.

It loaded 2 million barrels of oil into its first ship over the course of five days, marking a major increase in Iraq's export capacity, but has since been shut due to technical problems, the sources said.

Guess it will take longer than expected to raise Iraq's oil production afterall. I wonder what kind of problems they have specifically.

Part 1: Fracking: Pennsylvania Gags Physicians

A new Pennsylvania law endangers public health by forbidding health care professionals from sharing information they learn about certain chemicals and procedures used in high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing.

The law, an amendment to Title 52 (Oil and Gas) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, requires that companies provide to a state-maintained registry the names of chemicals and gases used in fracking. Physicians and others who work with citizen health issues may request specific information, but the company doesn’t have to provide that information if it claims it is a trade secret or proprietary information ... If a company does release information about what is used, health care professionals are bound by a non-disclosure agreement that not only forbids them from warning the community of water and air pollution that may be caused by fracking, but which also forbids them from telling their own patients what the physician believes may have led to their health problems.

The clauses are buried on pages 98 and 99 of the 174-page bill, which was initiated and passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly and signed into law in February by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

The clauses are buried on pages 98 and 99 of the 174-page bill, which was initiated and passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly and signed into law in February by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

Part 2: Fracking: Health, Environmental Impact Greater Than Claimed

I had a friend who knew the family of the Lawywer representing Nutra-Sweet, and although the Lawyer was forbidden to reveal what he came to know about his client and their product, it DID become known that the family was no longer eating ANY products that contained the Compound.

Or as Maxwell Smart used to say, "That's the most Suspicious thing I've EVER seen!"

From Seraph's blockquote...

If a company does release information about what is used, health care professionals are bound by a non-disclosure agreement that not only forbids them from warning the community of water and air pollution that may be caused by fracking, but which also forbids them from telling their own patients what the physician believes may have led to their health problems.

Corporations are people... but people aren't people!

Wow, this is definitely a corporations first, people last country now. Our founding Fathers would not recognize America any longer as their dream of by the people, for the people, etc. is dead and gone. Should we change the stars on the flag to corp. logos and the stripes into corp. slogans?

Thanks for the link Seraph. Thought I was being over the top - oh my.

Gagging physicians is so disgusting, no wonder there's such a love for fracking.

From the WSJ:

Faulty Wells, Not Fracking, Blamed for Water Pollution


A. Scott Anderson, a senior policy adviser with the Environmental Defense Fund who is working with Mr. Boling, agreed. "The groundwater pollution incidents that have come to light to date have all been caused by well construction problems," he said.

Both men are calling for a stronger set of standards for well construction, including better cementing and more testing to ensure that wells and cement have no leaks.

Cement failures have long plagued the industry. Mr. Anderson estimates that cement in about one in 10 wells fails to work properly and requires remedial work.

Even if the fracking itself rarely affects the aquifer, 10% of what must be hundreds of thousands of wells is a large huge number of wells that might be leaking into aquifers. I think the fracking problem is way larger and more pervasive than the industry says it is.

Don’t worry in one million years that aquifer will be good as new…….

And as an added bonus just wait about one hundred years until all the well casings start to fail. It is like we are trying to make the planet uninhabitable for humans in the future…..


Money to be made in purification equipment.
Money to be made in potable water.
Whole cities! Whole farms! Can you imagine...
The money to be made?

If there was no danger, why did Halliburton wangle water purity exemptions first?

You are right what was I thinking, as good American I should never neglect potential profit and economic growth. Maybe we can get all the water in the world privatized! Think of the potential!

Faulty Wells, Not Fracking, Blamed for Water Pollution

A variation on "Guns don't kill people... bullets do."

Or something like that.

Study shows air emissions near fracking sites may impact health

AURORA, Colo. -- In a new study, researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health have shown that air pollution caused by hydraulic fracturing or fracking may contribute to acute and chronic health problems for those living near natural gas drilling sites.

The report, based on three years of monitoring, found a number of potentially toxic petroleum hydrocarbons in the air near the wells including benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylene. Benzene has been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a known carcinogen. Other chemicals included heptane, octane and diethylbenzene but information on their toxicity is limited.

There are a lot of red herrings being dragged across the trail in this study. It tries to implicate hydraulic fracturing but didn't study what if any hydraulic fracturing was done at the wells. I don't know what hydraulic fracturing would do to affect the air quality other than increasing the well production.

Of course there are petroleum hydrocarbons around the wellheads. Most likely there are minor leaks here, there and everywhere. If the liquids storage tanks don't have vapor recovery units (VRUs) they will be venting gases into the air all the time. Who knows what is going on if you don't take a hard look at each well site?

And the more important question is, "Is this worse or better than the air around the average suburban gas station?" The answer could be quite disconcerting. People don't think about what is happening in their own immediate neighborhood.

Most likely the air quality around the well sites is much better than the air quality in downtown Denver. Automobile exhaust contains an awful lot of toxic chemicals.

ET - And there's the confusion. The actual frac'ng doesn't hurt an aquifer 10% of the time. The number would probably be a tiny fraction of 1% if you could get the data base. OTOH bad cement jobs and casing failures of any well, frac'd or not, can be a serious problem. And obviously improper disposal of frac fluids as well as all other production contaminants can cause problems. This is why I keep fighting with folks about letting go of the battle about the frac'ng process itself. By focusing on an activity that can be easily shown to be a minimal risk they aren't paying attention to the other really serious potential oil field activities. In a sense that battle over frac'ng is providing cover for the companies and politicians who aren't being good stewards of the land.

In the past in Texas and La. the worst environmental problems were caused by wells that never had a frac job. That's why today both states have very tough laws they enforce that put an end to those bad practices. And why, after 100's of thousands of frac jobs in both states, you hear almost nothing about concerns with the practice. From our bad ole days we know where the danger lies and where it doesn't. My Yankee cousins need to stop buying into the MSM hype and begin taking care of potentially serious problems. Disposal well rules would be a much better focus than frac'ng IMHO.

But one doesn't do fracking without having wells, so the idea the the fracking itself is reliable is somewhat irrelevant. The issue is fracking fluid into aquifers, and if even 100% reliable and safe fracking is always combined with wells that leak 10% of the time, then fracking is unreliable 10% of the time.

Twi - Try this silly analogy: almost every auto accident began with someone putting their shoes on, getting into a car and then having an accident. Thus putting one's shoes on plays a role in auto accidents. Like I said: silly.

The overall frac'ng process of a well very rarely does damage to an aquifer. Frac'ng itself is very reliable. As long as it's not done in a shallow well it is physically impossible for a frac to reach a shallow acquifer. I didn't just say it was unlikely: I said it's physically impossible. No one can argue the science on that point. A well leaking up a bad cement job or a hole in the casing happens but not very often...much less than 10% IMHO. And what's the probablility of improperly disposed production fluids (frac fluids and all the other crap that comes out of a well)getting into the aquifer: very high if not almost certain. What's the probablility of a disposal well eventually pumping that crap into the aquifer? A lot greater than many would like to admit. In my personal experience the vast majority of environmental damage has been done by improper disposal of fluids and badly maintained disposal wells. Rarely has it happened directly from a well during the drilling and production phases.

Drilling a well, frac'd or not, carries with it some risk to the environment as well as the safety of the hands on the rig. Getting in your car and driving to the grocery store carries some risk to the environment and the people around you. It's called life. The question is what risks do we accept and which do we'll feel aren't justified. IMHO that the question for each community to decide. If a county in PA wants to ban all driling, and not just frac'ng, then they should just do so. Of course, that would deny some of the residents 100's of million in income. But can't make everyone happy, right? LOL.

South Africa debates whether to allow fracking

South Africa's Karoo region is a pristine wilderness of red hills and wildflowers. It is beautiful, desperately poor and is now the new frontline in the global battle over a hugely controversial drilling practice called "fracking".

Energy giants Statoil and Exxon target East African gas

Statoil and its American partner Exxon Mobil have made the biggest offshore discovery yet of gas reserves off the coast of Tanzania.

The Zafarani field, which both companies hope will be bigger than first estimates suggest, is close to the region off the coast of Mozambique, where even bigger deposits of gas are being developed by Anadarko and ENI. "This is the biggest discovery made outside Norway by Statoil ever," a delighted Statoil vice president, Tim Dodson, tells the BBC.

Exxon Valdez to Be Junked Years After Worst U.S. Ship Spill

The Exxon Valdez has been sold for scrap 23 years after causing the worst tanker spill in U.S. history, which led to new designs for oil carriers.

Guess "The Deacon" (Dennis Hopper), captain of the derelict oil tanker, the Exxon Valdez, and the leader of the Smokers won't be using this boat when the ice caps melt like in Waterworld

Like all those postapocalyptic movies that had the NYC skyline still defined by the WTF.. errr, the WTC.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckvDo2JHB7o .. well dang it if Kurt Russell doesn't land his Commando Glider right on top of the Towers.. naturally! Fun Trailer!

Of course, Mr. Heston still puts the best closure on it all.. a madhouse!


(Well I'll be.. the 'Making of' clips for Planet of the Apes shows the Date on the Hibernation Beds in the spaceship as 4/27/2012 .. that's not the Aztec date is it?)

Mayan. 12/21/2012.

Chevron blamed in Brazil oil spill: report

The O Globo newspaper quoted Fabio Scliar, head of the environment unit of Brazil's federal police department, as saying that the deep water well "could not and should not have been drilled under the conditions presented in the area," adding that an "absurd" amount of pressure was used at the site situated off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state.

"All indications are that a desire for profits led (Chevron) to take the prohibitive risk" of drilling at the site, Scliar concluded in the document, according to O Globo.

Prosecutors also have announced legal action against Chevron, its Brazilian unit and oil drilling contractor Transocean, seeking $11 billion over the November spill.

Bitter Irony. Chevron was one company that made the claim, while BP's Macondo well was spewing crude, that they could drill deep water safely.

China subsidized solar panels, US finds. Are tariffs the right response?

A Commerce Department investigation found that Chinese government-subsidized solar panels were dumped in the US market, harming US manufacturers.

This capitalism thing - they have learned it well, No?

Yes, China uses capitalism where it's appropriate. In the United States, we've made a religion out of capitalism so it's the only way things can be done. China has no problem using socialism or some other -ism when capitalism doesn't work (because it is too short-sighted to prepare for future energy needs, for example).

U.S. to impose tariffs on solar panels from China

Must... Stop... Solar...

How dare those communist capitalist rub our fascist noses in solar's socialism. We've been comforting ourselves for years that solar is a scam and a fraud and will never make a bit of difference... and, having missed the boat, we must now insist they cease and desist from investing in any future!

It's the GOP vs. the Navy -- on Clean Energy Use

In 2012, if you want to reduce your use of fossil fuels in favor of clean energy sources, expect to be taken to task by Republicans. Even if you're the United States Armed Forces.

... one out of eight soldiers killed in Iraq between 2003 and 2007 were protecting fuel convoys, a telling statistic that has continued in Afghanistan as well.

So you would think that any effort to diversify the military's fuel sources away from petroleum, and help end our dependence on often-hostile foreign oil suppliers, would be cheered by politicians of all stripes. And you would be wrong.

"It's the GOP vs the Navy on Clean energy use"

Ironic indeed since it was the Navy that first made nuclear power reactors work.

That is just sooo wrong, they should be using clean coal.


Oh! /sarc for the sarc impaired.

I almost got sucked into joining the comments gravity-well in there.. pretty ugly, I'm still scraping some of the dark matter off my shirt. I thought HuffPo would be a little above the yuck, but apparently not.

Where else do you all go to have a couple reasonable words out there? I feel like TOD, even with a little bickering, has become my ASCII Desert Island.. most any other place I look, EVERY comment sounds like.. 'Oh, yeah?!' 'Yuh Huh!!' 'Nuh Uh!!'

Is not!

You can't fool me.. a fella just knows when he's home!

Russia Struggles to Curb Energy Waste

MOSCOW — Russia, the world’s top oil and natural gas producer, may be watching its energy riches blow away in the wind. In 2008, for example, the country was wasting enough energy to power Britain for an entire year.

“We are two and half times less energy efficient than other comparative modern countries in Europe,” said Vasily Belov, the executive director of the energy efficiency cluster at the Skolkovo Foundation, a government-sponsored science park.

Ships Vie With Japan Utilities as Fuel Supplies Dwindle: Freight

Oil refiners’ investment in more- efficient facilities is leaving shipping lines competing with Japanese power producers for a fuel that no one wants to make.

Refiners are upgrading plants to cut output of fuel oil, a byproduct from making gasoline and diesel, as it sells for less than the price of crude. Shipping lines are seeking more of the product -- known in the industry as bunker -- to fuel expanding fleets, while Japanese electric companies are speeding purchases as they close nuclear plants for checks after 2011’s tsunami.

“We have a bunker market that’s still growing, and we have no fuel,” said Fereidun Fesharaki, chairman of Singapore-based Facts Global Energy Inc. “Everyone is destroying the capability for fuel-oil production.”

Fuel oil is among residual fuels that are the heaviest and most-polluting products created from refining crude. Refiners break down crude into four main types of products -- liquefied petroleum gas; light fuels such as gasoline; middle distillates including diesel; and residual fuels. The residuals also include bitumen and asphalt.

Lots of interesting bits in this short article. It may have already been posted.

What stands out to me with the refinery closings and consolidation is that refiners have to get as much value out of the barrel as they possibly can. They can't afford a high proportion of residuals, so if your municipality, state, jusrisdiction wants to pave a road it will in the future have to pay a really high price for asphalt.

"pay a really high price for asphalt" Or use PCC.

Noticed this over at Big Picture Agriculture in the latest Agriculture News

Drover's: Ethanol plants to use corn stover in Iowa.
[K.M. Note: This won't work, it won't be profitable, and it spells ecological disaster all around.]