Drumbeat: March 21, 2012

Saudi Arabian oil minister says kingdom ready to boost output

One major oil trader, who requested anonymity to protect business relationships, said that if Saudi Arabia really wanted to tamp down prices it could lower its asking prices and then customers might buy more. Saudi prices are adjusted monthly, but the trader said Saudi Aramco is “extraordinarily inflexible” in the terms it offers buyers.

“That makes it difficult for them to turn their rhetoric about supply into a signal to the market,” the trader said.

But West said that it would make no sense to expect Saudi Arabia to accept lower prices than other nations and that near-record output level showed that “the Saudis are really stepping up here.”

Saudi Aramco to Ship First Cargo From Yasref in Late 2014

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., the world’s largest crude exporter, said the Yasref refinery will ship its first oil-product cargo in the fourth quarter of 2014.

The plant on the Red Sea will start operating in September of that year following completion in June, the company said today in a statement on its website. China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. or Sinopec, has a stake in the plant.

Chesapeake exec: Many unknowns about Utica shale play

A Chesapeake Energy Corp. official has provided some level-headed perspective on all the hype about potential riches that could come from development of shale gas resources in eastern Ohio.

Speaking at a Columbus Metropolitan Club luncheon Wednesday, Chesapeake’s Matt Hammond said there is no way to predict how long it will take oil and gas companies to determine the long-range productivity of wells in the Utica shale play.

Despite Near-Term Energy Woes, Experts Optimistic

Rising oil prices are having an impact on the world economy and, by driving up gasoline prices, becoming an issue in the U.S. presidential election campaign. Tensions in the Middle East, turmoil in Africa and rapidly rising demand in China are driving oil prices higher. But experts see many positive developments in the world energy sector.

The biggest development of an alternative to oil in recent years has been the expansion of natural gas production in the United States, using technologies that free up gas trapped in shale rock.

That is one of the reasons experts speaking at the annual IHS-CERA conference here in Houston earlier this month expressed optimism about the world's energy picture.

The Peak Oil Crisis: Parsing the Bakken

There is a lot of talk recently that "tight oil" as found in North Dakota's Bakken and other shales in the Southwest will save America from stagnant global oil production and increasing gasoline prices. The current glut of natural gas which has brought prices to a 10-year low has forced companies drilling for gas to curtail their activity and move the crews and rigs to North Dakota and Texas where money can still be made in drilling for shale oil. New well completions in North Dakota are expected to surge again this year.

A recent pronouncement by a noted analyst says that America's "tight oil" (shale oil) production could reach 3 million barrels a day (b/d) by 2020 which will again put us among the top few global oil producers. On digging a little deeper into the issue, however, many have a problem with all the optimism.

CenterPoint applies to trade natgas at La. hub

NEW YORK (Reuters) - CenterPoint Energy Inc on Wednesday said its gas transmission unit filed with federal regulators to establish a trading point for natural gas at the Perryville Hub in northern Louisiana.

The Perryville Hub connects with new and growing supplies of natural gas from Barnett shale in Texas, Haynesville shale in North Louisiana, Woodford shale in Southeastern Oklahoma and Fayetteville shale in Northeast Arkansas.

Obama Defends Energy Plan With Keystone at Center

President Barack Obama is defending his energy policies amid criticism from Republicans by highlighting projects designed to increase U.S. supplies, including a pipeline that is part of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL.

Obama: I won't walk away from promise of clean energy

Kicking off two-day tour touting his energy policies, President Obama on Wednesday reiterated his commitment to expanding America's renewable energy sources, telling a crowd in Boulder City, Nevada that "as long as I'm president, I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy."

Obama angers both environmentalists and energy companies by supporting Keystone pipeline’s south leg

WASHINGTON — In supporting Calgary-based TransCanada’s decision to build the southern leg of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, President Barack Obama has managed a rare feat — angering both environmentalists and energy companies at the same time.

Obama will deliver a major speech Thursday endorsing the expedited construction of TransCanada’s proposed pipeline from Cushing, Okla., to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas.

But prior to his speech, critics on Wednesday were lining up on both sides of the issue.

Venezuela says oil output rose to 2.99 mln bpd in 2011

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's efforts to boost oil production have apparently gained traction as the country's energy ministry reported 2011 production at 2.99 million barrels per day, up 5 percent from the year before.

The socialist administration of President Hugo Chavez wants to increase the South American OPEC nation's production to 3.50 million bpd by the end of this year, with much of the new output coming from the huge Orinoco extra heavy crude belt.

Colombia troops kill 33 rebels as part of new strategy

(Reuters) - Colombian troops killed 33 FARC rebels on Wednesday in an oil-producing region close to the border with Venezuela, the government said, in one of the harshest blows against the drug-funded group in more than a year.

Brazil Oil Reserves May Double; Investment Needed -ANP

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil's probable oil reserves may jump to 30 billion barrels in the near future, from 15 billion at present, the new president of Brazilian oil regulator ANP said Wednesday.

At present, only 4% of Brazil's sedimentary basins, which potentially hold oil, are being researched, said Magda Chambriard, who is taking office as ANP president here. Further investments in the sector need to be encouraged to help boost Brazilian industrial development, said Chambriard, the first woman to head the ANP. She replaces former ANP President Harold Lima.

Brazil Prosecutor: Chevron Failed To Properly Manage Oil-Spill Accident

RIO DE JANEIRO – U.S. oil major Chevron Corp. failed to properly manage the aftermath of a November drilling accident and oil spill that could lead to the company being prohibited from operating in Brazil, a federal prosecutor said Wednesday.

"Chevron may never be allowed to freely operate in Brazil again," federal prosecutor Eduardo Santos de Oliveira told reporters.

Crude Oil is Going to $500 a Barrel (Part 1)

Now that’s a headline grabber! Quantemonics Investing (QI) is projecting US$500 a barrel for crude oil in 8 years, basically compounding at the same rate as it has since 1999, between 2012 and 2020. During 1999 the price for a barrel of oil was $10. Today it goes for $110-$130. Anybody predicting $100 a barrel for 2011 back in 1999 was considered a crackpot lunatic, and I am sure many reading this will say the same about such a ludicrous “prediction” of $500 in the not too distant future.

Crude Oil is Going to $500 a Barrel (Part 2)

Today crude oil and related oil producing assets are substantially “undervalued” and misunderstood by Wall Street analysts and main street investors. With seemingly high prices for crude oil and refined products like gasoline, widespread disbelief exists that oil can climb yet higher. On the contrary, the sheer size of record money printing by the U.S. Federal Reserve and a lack of understanding of the Peak Oil problem presently give petroleum quotes a solid foundation to rise markedly in 2012-13, based on our work. We are confident a combination of factors will propel crude oil to US$500 a barrel before the year 2020.

TEPCO changes rate hike plan / Rates for industrial customers can't be raised before contracts expire

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday that it will postpone utility rate hikes for some of its industrial customers until after it can obtain their approval on its rate increase plans.

Those subject to the postponement are industrial consumers whose current service contracts are effective until after the planned April 1 implementation date for the new rates.

TEPCO criticized for being vague on terms of higher rates for corporate users

TOKYO — Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) on Wednesday came under more criticism after it admitted that it had been vague on conditions for hiking electricity bills for corporate users, starting April 1.

Oil Company Biofuel Profits

A recent report published by Pike Research has given Shell and BP the highest marks in their assessment of all oil major’s commercialization of biofuels.

As the realities of peak oil continue to hit us in the face with all the subtlety of a brick, major oil companies are now charting the best ways to bring biofuels to market. Of all those companies, Shell and BP are in the best position to profit from the growth of biofuels.

Energy Secy. Chu disputes GOP claims that Obama energy programs rife with incompetence, political favoritism

Energy Secretary Steven Chu defended his department’s policies to Congress on Tuesday after House Republicans released two extensive reports charging that alternative-energy loan programs and a huge home weatherization program for poor households were riddled with failures and mistakes.

As Reactors Age, the Money to Close Them Lags

WASHINGTON — The operators of 20 of the nation’s aging nuclear reactors, including some whose licenses expire soon, have not saved nearly enough money for prompt and proper dismantling. If it turns out that they must close, the owners intend to let them sit like industrial relics for 20 to 60 years or even longer while interest accrues in the reactors’ retirement accounts.

Decommissioning a reactor is a painstaking and expensive process that involves taking down huge structures and transporting the radioactive materials to the few sites around the country that can bury them. The cost is projected at $400 million to $1 billion per reactor, which in some cases is more than what it cost to build the plants in the 1960s and ’70s.

Mothballing the plants makes hundreds of acres of prime industrial land unavailable for decades and leaves open the possibility that radioactive contamination in the structures could spread. While the radioactivity levels decline over time, many communities worry about safe oversight.

Oil Rebounds From Biggest Drop in Three Months on Supply

Oil traded near its lowest closing price in three days before a weekly report on supply and demand levels in the U.S., erasing earlier gains as the dollar strengthened.

West Texas Intermediate was little changed, having given up an increase of as much as 0.7 percent. A stronger dollar typically undermines investors’ appetite to protect against inflation through purchasing commodities. The Energy Department may say today that stockpiles climbed 2.2 million barrels, a Bloomberg News survey showed. Saudi Arabia can increase output by 25 percent immediately, Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said yesterday.

Worried About $6 Gas Prices? Try $8

Loose monetary policies among G-8 member nations, Peak Oil, and Persian Gulf tension—which have now begun escalating to the highest threat of military action since the 1980-88 Iran/Iraq War—have conspired to lift gas prices to levels which may appear high, today. But $105 WTIC and $4 gasoline may, in retrospect, turn to fading memories of the ‘good old days’ some economists speculate.

Downward push on gas prices builds up

Natural gas prices are coming under pressure again, ahead of a flood of supply expected to reach the market at the end of the month.

The UAE may be facing a shortage of cheap, readily available gas, but globally, natural gas prices are being squeezed by oversupply.

Mubadala to build big gas terminal in Fujairah

Mubadala Development is building a major gas terminal in Fujairah to eliminate the need for gas tankers to pass through the Strait of Hormuz.

Obama starts energy blitz

WASHINGTON — Shiny solar panels, sprawling gas fields and the site of a future oil pipeline will give President Barack Obama a set of convenient photo backdrops this week as he launches a campaign-like tour to tout his energy policies to Americans.

Obama begins a two-day, four-state trip on Wednesday to promote plans to make the United States less dependent on foreign oil just as voters grow increasingly exasperated about rising gasoline prices, a trend that could influence the president’s re-election chances.

Baker Hughes sees weak 1st-qtr profit as customers shift to oil

(Reuters) - Baker Hughes Inc expects pretax operating profit margin to fall sequentially in the first quarter as North American explorers' shift to liquids from natural gas leads to higher costs and lower utilization at the third-largest oilfield services company.

Industry-wide costs are going up and most oilfield services companies are struggling to swiftly move their rigs to oil and natural gas liquid fields, which see heightened activity.

Stand and deliver

On the evening of Friday, March 16, Reuters broke the news that Saudi Arabia was chartering 11 Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) tankers to deliver some 22 million barrels of crude oil in the last few days of March and early April.

The initial reaction to this fleet is that these cargoes could perhaps slake the insatiable thirst for crude oil of refiners in the east, which according to conventional wisdom has driven the global benchmark price - North Sea Brent quality crude oil - to US$126 per barrel.

But this Saudi fleet is not eastbound: it will in fact make a right turn and head for the US Gulf. This means that the price received by the Saudis will be based on US WTI quality crude oil, at a price of $107 a barrel.

U.S. exempts 11 countries from Iran sanctions; China, India exposed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States exempted Japan and 10 EU nations from financial sanctions because they have significantly cut purchases of Iranian oil, but left Iran's top customers China and India exposed to the possibility of such steps.

The decision means banks in these countries have been given a six-month reprieve from the threat of being cut off from the U.S. financial system under new sanctions designed to pressure Iran over itsnuclear program.

China's crude imports fall from Iran, Saudi record

BEIJING (Reuters) - China slashed its crude oil imports from Iran by half in February from December levels to pressure Tehran in a contract dispute, while increasing its purchases from Iran's rival Saudi Arabia to a record level to fill the gap.

February was the first month to reflect the full scale of the cuts in China's imports of Iranian oil after top refiner Sinopec Corp decided in December to chop purchases in an attempt to force Iranians to back off from the tougher terms they had proposed for the 2012 contract.

Japan wants Iran crude imports cut 10-20 pct -Idemitsu

(Reuters) - The Japanese government probably wants Idemitsu Kosan to continue cutting Iranian crude imports as before, which is by 10 to 20 percent a year, the oil refiner's chairman said on Wednesday, a day after the United States exempted the Asian nation from financial sanctions.

U.S. senses threat from Iran in north Yemen, a new hot spot

Yemen is beset by three insurgencies, two in the south and one in the north, which borders Saudi Arabia. U.S. counterterrorism efforts have been centered in the south, where al-Qaeda's presence has grown and secessionist groups still launch attacks.

But the United States believes the north may be the latest place where another adversary is seeking to influence events.

"We see Iranian efforts to increase their activities and take advantage of the political upheaval and build up their own presence," said Gerald Feierstein, the U.S. ambassador to Yemen, in a recent interview.

Falklands Dispute Sparks Concerns in Oil Market

An already fragile crude market was dealt another dramatic blow recently with news that Britain had accused Argentina of illegal attempts to intimidate Falkland islanders relating to oil exploration, in hopes of sparking talks centred on sovereignty.

Britain has responded by stating that it will defend the Falkland territory, adding that it will only negotiate sovereignty or oil rights in the unlikely event that the 3,000 islanders request that it do so.

Top Argentine Official Denies YPF Nationalization Plans

MADRID – Shares of Spanish oil firm Repsol YPF SA jumped Wednesday after a top government official in Argentina said that his government has no plans to nationalize the company's YPF division.

Rising gas prices aren't as bad as you think

This isn't to say high gas prices don't hurt -- they do, especially for people living paycheck-to-paycheck or those that drive a lot.

But for the average American household, which has an income of over $62,000 a year, the increase in gas prices represents a relatively small portion of total spending.

High gas prices? Bring 'em on!

Me, I'm not running for office. I blame feckless politicians from both parties for the lack of a sane energy policy over the past 40 years. And unlike Obama or his Republican challengers, I want higher gas prices. At least for a while. Long enough for us to get the market signals right and to continue to wean ourselves off our fossil fuel addiction. The way I see it, every time we've been confronted by an energy crisis, Americans have done the right thing. Faced with the cold hard economic facts of life when it comes to oil availability and price, we've figured out for ourselves how to be innovative, resilient and sensible. Having plentiful cheap resources can make us wasteful; scarcity and high prices can make us smart.

Appalachian Coal Fights for Survival on Shale Boom

Coal mining in Appalachia has survived deadly explosions, the Great Depression and the country’s largest armed insurrection since the Civil War. The latest threat is booming shale-gas production.

Shell signs shale gas deal with China National Petroleum Corporation

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Royal Dutch Shell says it has signed a deal with China National Petroleum Corp. to seek, develop and produce shale gas.

Shell says the so-called production sharing contract is the first signed with China to exploit shale gas and covers a 3,500 square kilometer (1,350 square mile) region of the Sichuan Basin.

Iran and the Oil Scarcity Myth

Long gone are the days where peak oil alarmists had their own genre of literature, ran up massive book sales and attracted sensationalist headlines alleging the end of civilization as we know because the ‘oil is running out’. New technologies, new oil and, above all, shale oil and gas, have blown away all their ludicrous predictions. Shale oil prospects alone suggest that a minimum of 4.8 trillion barrels should be added to global recoverable reserves; production from oil sands another 6 trillion or more. Meanwhile, new exploration is also ramping up on all five continents.

IEA Report Shows We Are Already In A 'Peak Oil' Context

The most recent IEA Oil Market Report, for February, could be interpreted as bringing some good news to oil importer countries of the OECD group, for which the IEA is the "energy watchdog agency". Its report said that oil demand in the OECD group, at about 46.25 million barrels per day (Mbd) was still 1.25 Mbd below the 5-year average for oil consumption by the 30-nation developed economy group.

South Africa: The Age of Cheap Oil Has Ended

While motorists feel the pain of the recent ascent of the oil price to near record levels, the underlying reality of rising oil prices has profound implications right across society.

Barring an unprecedented oil discovery, the world will never again see the return of cheap oil. Oil prices will certainly never return to the levels of the 1990s, or even the first half of the first decade of this century.

Why Kohler is right on peak oil

Heavily paraphrased, Citi’s riposte to 'peak oilers' and their less bold cousins, 'plateau oilers', is that the International Energy Agency has misread the tea leaves, strongly influenced by the tendency in the past decade for major projects to come on line much later than expected, at higher costs than budgeted and with much less oil.

Citi, in my interpretation, asserts that the IEA has committed the classic error of using yesterday’s information to forecast tomorrow’s outcomes and the bank predicts that a surge in discoveries and their conversion in to production should see a marked improvement in the oil supply outlook.

Collapse: The Scariest Movie You’ll Ever See

Everyone knows that the world is going to end on December 21 this year. Nostradamus, the Mayans, and Mel Gibson can’t all be wrong, right? But just in case that doesn’t happen and we’re not plunged into darkness and the end of days next winter, Michael Ruppert has some alternative world-ending prophecies.

Joseph Kony and more AFRICOM wars over oil

This region of central and east Africa is considered one of the hottest unexplored regions in the world for potential hydrocarbons—oil and gas. In 2010 Texas oil company Anadarko Petroleum discovered a giant reservoir of natural gas off the coast of Mozambique. Estimates are that Somalia holds perhaps 10 billion barrels of untapped oil. The chronic political unrest and AFRICOM-backed tensions there—convenient for western oil majors seeking to maintain absurdly high oil prices by controlling supply—prevent the development of the oil. While West and North Africa have undergone tens of thousands of oil well drillings over the last decades, East and Central Africa, including Darfur and South Sudan, Chad, Central African Republic are all but terra incognita in terms of drilling.

This all runs smack up against the popular talk of “Peak Oil.” Far from exhausting the Earth’s resources of oil and gas, oil companies everywhere, from the eastern Mediterranean to offshore Brazil to the Gulf of Mexico and now the Great Rift Belt of eastern and central Africa, are discovering huge new potentials almost daily. We are, as oil economist Peter Odell once noted, not running out of oil, “We’re running into oil.”

Canadian Tire pleads guilty to gas price fixing

The Competition Bureau says Pioneer Energy, Canadian Tire Corporation and Mr. Gas pleaded guilty to the charges today.

Investigators found gas retailers or their representatives phoned each other and agreed on the price they would charge.

BP May Get A Chance To Explore The Russian Arctic After All

British energy major BP may get a chance to explore the Russian Arctic region for oil and gas reserves after all. Last year the company failed to reach a deal with Russian state-owned producer Rosneft to jointly explore the country’s northern territories for oil. Rosneft later partnered with rival Exxon Mobil in what was seen as a major embarrassment for BP.

BP Settlement, Milestone for Some Victims, a Setback for Others

The proposed settlement between BP and individual and business plaintiffs over the spill has not even been fleshed out yet, but there are already lawyers and clients complaining that they have been inconvenienced or cut out. People like Ms. Haralson are upset that they have to wait on deals they had already closed. And some groups of plaintiffs have found themselves excluded entirely. The complaints suggest that the path to settlement promises to be a rocky one for many who say they were made victims twice: first by the spill, and then by a baffling legal process.

Transocean Holders’ Suits Over Rig Explosion Dismissed by Judge

Transocean Ltd., owner of the oil rig leased to BP Plc that exploded and spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, won dismissal of investor claims that the company failed to disclose repeated safety failures.

Judge calls for ‘minimum of sealed records’ in BP Atlantis case

While the ongoing settlement issues involving BP and business owners hurt by the Deepwater Horizon spill still dominate the news, a judge in another BP legal battle has thwarted the company’s attempt to keep much of the evidence in that case hidden.

U.S. Plans Tariffs on Chinese Solar Panels

In a move that seems likely to increase trade tensions, the Commerce Department plans to impose tariffs on solar panel imports from China, Keith Bradsher and Matthew L. Wald report. The tariffs are relatively small — 2.9 percent to 4.73 percent — but additional ones could be imposed in May, when the Commerce Department is to decide whether China is dumping panels in the United States. The department has already ruled that the Chinese government is providing illegal export subsidies to its solar manufacturers.

The Smart Grid Can Change the Energy Agenda

Modernizing the grid can transform the energy agenda from oil as our primary transportation fuel to clean, domestic and renewable sources of electricity. Investing in a Smart Grid that integrates renewables also addresses future resourcing concerns. Do you think we’ll ever utter the words “peak wind” or “peak solar” like we use the phrase “peak oil?”

Solar’s 80% Plunge Hurts Utilities From Hawaii to Spain

Solar panels costs have tumbled 80 percent in the past five years. A technology that in the 1970s was so expensive it only made economic sense for satellites and offshore drilling rigs is today a $100 billion industry that’s transforming the world’s power supply in the same way semiconductor efficiencies put personal computers everywhere, changing the way information flows.

In Hawaii and India, project developers are beginning to match the rates customers pay to Hawaii Electric Industries Inc. and Tata Power Co., and they’ll gain that edge in parts of Europe this year, Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts.

New York Maps Viable Offshore Wind Power

A new study mapping out habitats in and around the waters off New York was released on Tuesday, bringing the state a step closer to determining the potential for wind energy projects offshore.

China's monopoly on rare earths may soon be broken

Despite their name, rare earths can be mined on most continents, although the cost of extraction has been too high to be economical. China's quotas may have helped push up demand – and prices – enough to make extraction cost-effective.

Newcastle's Bike Hour goes viral

University of Newcastle academic and keen cyclist, Dr Steven Fleming, came up with the idea to encourage everyone who owns a bike to get outside and ride it at the same time.

Rainwater Toilets in Apartments Add Premium for U.S. Developers

The 22-story apartment tower in Portland, Oregon, has a roof garden that funnels rainwater to its public toilets. Because the water isn’t treated, state law requires “Do Not Drink” warning signs.

“Just in case your dog can read,” said Dennis Wilde, chief sustainability officer for Gerding Edlen, the Portland- based builder of the development called Indigo @ Twelve|West.

Ed Davey's dash for gas will not help UK meet carbon targets

As one of his first major announcements, climate secretary's plans for investment in gas are disappointing news.

As natural gas production grows, questions arise about methane leaks

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

The Obama administration lists natural gas as one of the "clean energy sources" it wants to expand. When burned, natural gas emits about half the heat-trapping carbon dioxide as coal. Yet natural gas production can result in releases of methane into the atmosphere.

David Suzuki: Dirty fuel should be consigned to the coal bin of history

More than anything else, coal fuelled the Industrial Revolution. It was, and still is, plentiful and cheap. It’s also always been relatively easy to get at, especially if you don’t mind sending kids into mines, endangering the lives of miners, or blasting the tops off mountains.

Change the approach to sustainable development

In many areas, the rates of global environmental change are accelerating but decision-making processes are stuck in low gear. It is not clear that another conventional assessment will catalyse swifter action. So, although the research community should rally behind an integrated analysis, it must be done differently.

First, the focus must shift from documenting problems to supporting solutions. This requires strong and continual interaction between those working in strategic applied research and decision-makers in policy, industry and civil society, both on specific decisions (such as how to frame a particular trade agreement) and on the wider context (interactions between national well-being, environmental outcomes and economic flows).

Damage to world's oceans could hit $2 trillion a year, experts say

The cost of damage to the world's oceans from climate change could reach $2 trillion a year by 2100 if measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions are not stepped up, a study by marine experts said Wednesday.

'Global warming' gets a rebranding

There’s been a change in climate for Washington’s greenhouse gang, and they’ve come to this conclusion: To win, they have to talk about other topics, like gas prices and kids choking on pollutants.

Volvo Car Corporation Challenges EU's Goals And Tactics On Cutting CO2 Emissions

Volvo Car Corporation warns that EU targets for cutting carbon dioxide emissions are being jeopardised by the absence of harmonised incentives to consumers.

Another key issue is the urge for continuous support to automotive research and development, including electromobility.

Sea-level rise will cost $2 trillion

As the seas rise, so will the costs associated with them. The impact of climate change on oceans alone could cost $2 trillion by the end of the century, according to a report by the Stockholm Environment Institute in Sweden.

Global Sea Level Could Rise As Much As 70 Feet In The Future

Even if humankind manages to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit)–as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommends–future generations will likely have to deal with a completely different world.

One with sea levels 40 to 70 feet higher than at present, according to research results published this week in the journal Geology.

Hofmeister was on Bloomberg this am and came within a cats whisker of saying Peak oil talked of the ME and there is doubt on spare capicity and a high water cut by Ganwar.And all the oil majors had falling production in 2011 and demand is outpacing supply.

View and listen to it here: Saudi Oil Supply Claim Unlikely, Hofmeister Says

March 21 (Bloomberg) -- John Hofmeister, chief executive officer of Citizens for Affordable Energy and the former president of Shell Oil Co., talks about Saudi Arabia's oil supply and the outlook for the oil market. Hofmeister speaks with Betty Liu on Bloomberg Television's "In the Loop." (Source: Bloomberg)

Hey folks, catch this one. Hofmeister may be coming around. This is really interesting. And thanks for the heads up Vaporlock.

Ron P.

Hofmeister is indeed coming around. I don't think he will ever use the term "peak oil" but just as he began to do in his debate with Tad Patzik he is using phrases like "the real problem we are facing right now is that global demand is growing and yet the major oil producers are not able to increase production." You will never hear Exxon/Mobil say that.

Hofmeister's consulting company (Citizens for Affordable Energy) is still pushing for less government restrictions so that we can drill-baby-drill but I think he has studied the oil production realities and concluded that for the next 5-8 years we are heading for a world of hurt.

I just don't think he has yet realized that we cannot drill our way out of this one.

Neither ASPO or any TOD contributors will be invited onto Bloomberg, so Hofmeister might be the next best thing because he gets invited onto one of the talking head shows frequently.

Well is about to change and Hofmeister explains why. Everyone expects the Saudis to step up to the plate and pump a lot more oil to keep the world out of the recession. When that don't happen everyone will be asking why. Why, they will ask, did Saudi not increase production and hold prices down, and kept this recession from hitting? At that point a light will go on in a lot of peoples heads. Perhaps, they will tell themselves, Saudi didn't have any spare capacity after all, perhaps they cannot increase production, perhaps they have peaked.

Hofmeister explains why he believes that the Saudis aren't telling the truth and why. A kind way of saying they are lying in order not to send prices higher and the economy into a tailspin, which it would if the world really knew the truth.

There are many out there who doubt that the Saudis have this much excess capacity as he's articulating. I for one really would have thought they would have put more oil into the market by now if they really had it. I'm not saying they don't have it, but I don't believe they have it. And the proof will be in the pudding as time moves on.

Ron P.

Please don't get mad at me, I am not trying to be mean, but, have you been reading Dr. Seuss books lately?

Darwinian wrote:

Perhaps, they will tell themselves, Saudi didn't have any spare capacity after all, perhaps they cannot increase production, perhaps they have peaked.

Dr. Suess – How the Grinch Stole Christmas

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

Were you also, perhaps, thinking of this part?

"The Grinch hated Christmas — the whole Christmas season.
Oh, please don't ask why, no one quite knows the reason.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small."

Just a wintry distraction in this unsettling, summery paradise/paradox. (78f in Portland now.. and back to your Oars, you wretches!)

There'll no doubt be an "above ground" or economic reason given as to why they didn't (as opposed to "couldn't") increase exports.

In the case of a whole or partial closure of the Straits of Hormuz, such a reason would be genuine.

However, in the absence of such an event, I have no doubt they'll simply revert to the tried and tested: "We offered to sell the oil but there were no buyers"....

C'mon, John. You can say it: "P-P-P-P-PEAK Oil"... Now, doesn't that feel better?!

Now if some of these guys would admit that we can't achieve energy independence and perpetual growth by consuming our remaining resources even faster. Then again, the energy independence thing is a given, just not on our terms...

I can't currently watch the videos of him on CNBC (since I'm at work) but am I close to the mark in saying that I bet once Hofmeister gets too close to a "peak" proclamation on air, well it's time to go to commercial / end the segment in short order, if not being cut off outright...?

That's been my observation of CNBC's MO over the past few years of watching / listening to them. Who knows though - maybe they really all do know what's going on and they feel they have to allow this information out in just a slow trickle..."break it to us gently..."

That is so true.

I once saw them cut Boone Pickens off when he corrected the interviewer that kept referring to WTI as the world oil price. I am paraphrasing but she responded that it was important to use the WTI price because that was what Americans were paying. Pickens just told her that saying the WTI price is either the world price or the US price is showing ignorance of the oil business. They cut to a commercial and I never saw Pickens again that day.

This is the same guy as saw for the first time in this hour long debate:

He sounds a bit more paniced now than he did then.

CNBC Video link (2/21/12):

"(Oil) Demand globally is not down. That's the issue. Demand continues to rise in Asia and whether we (the US) use less or not, doesn't matter. Price is going up because supply can't keep up with the demand . . . 
I think OPEC is about maxed out. When people talk about spare capacity in OPEC, I don't see it. I just don't see it coming through and I'm not sure it's there.  And it's not just that they're greedy, but they're really producing what they can produce."

Thanks bunches for that bit, vaporlock.

You never know when a TODer will get a new understanding on something. So much of what we say here amounts to preaching to the choir, you know?

Anyway, along with agreeing with everybody else here that he did a great job of explaining peak oil, without even saying it, I learned something. When a new Chinese car is sold, it has a bigger change of belonging to a brand new driver than in the west. This means a more direct addition to fuel demand. In the west, a driver may even require less fuel after a new car purchase, as the old gas guzzler could get scraped when he or she buys a new, more fuel efficient car.

So if China sells 18 million cars this year and half(9 million) are to someone who has never owned a car before. This means we have 9 million new consumers for oil in China this year alone. What about India, Middle East, Latin America...ect. Everyone always points to the growth starting to slow....this is true but the growth will slow off a larger and larger base(the law of large numbers) and we have to feed the installed base. So even if China's growth goes to 2%, don't expect oil and thermal coal consumption to come down that much.

Ah. Interesting. A car sold in China is fundamentally different from a car sold in the US.
A car sold in the US may actually reduce gasoline consumption because it replaces an older, less efficient car whereas in China that same car constitutes a marginal increase in demand.


Wouldn't it be fair to set car ownership rates equal for all nations? Shall we start with 1 car per 3 citizens? That would be 103 million cars in the US. Need to get rid of 35 million cars in the US. In China that would be 440 million cars. With about 80 million cars China will be allowed to add 360 million cars. Only fair.

If adding cars is not allowed due to global warming then we can use 1 car per 7 citizen with 44 million cars in US and million cars 190 million in China. So we just need to get rid of 110 million cars in the US. Only fair.

Fair enough, them cars seem to follow the fuel buyers anyhow.
Peak Fuel Tanks, here we come!

The number of vehicles is not really relevent (except in the manufacturing process), it's the fuel consumption and distance travelled that make the real difference. Most cars spend over 95% of their lives parked!

Warren Olney's show, To The Point, had a good discussion on oil/gas prices. Chris Nelder of SmartPlanet.com laid out the fundamental problem pretty well, I thought. He focused on the supply problem (can't increase) under the pressure of rising demand. The show can be listened to here. The relevant segment starts at 7 minutes in.

Yes. That was an interesting segment.

At 11:35, Jack Gerard;
Cofounded the lobbying firm of McClure, Gerard & Neuenschwander
Became president and CEO of the National Mining Association
Then CEO of the American Chemistry Council
Now president of API, The American Petroleum Institute
Sits on the Council on American Politics,
Warms to his subject:

At 12:00, arguing that making federal land available would lower the price of oil, he offers that in July 2008, Bush announced the opening of the outer continental shelf, and then oil prices fell $15/bbl within two days.

Oil price graph:


Gas price graph:

He makes no mention of the financial crash. The price declined steadily from there.

So, the guy is a real piece of work.

At 14:20 The U.S. has trillions of barrels of oil.
14:50 "We could be energy self-sufficient in 12 years."
15:00 The oil shale has more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia holds. But the president won't let us develop it.

At 23:35
"We import a lot of energy. We would like to reverse that course"
"We produce and refine more than our market needs." (24:00)

Now, this is not a layman speaking informally. This is a representative, perhaps the representative, of the oil industry addressing the American people on their National Public Radio*. "Produce" means to draw out of the ground. He appears to be saying that we produce more oil than we need. That we refine that produced oil into oil products which are exported.

This is in alignment with the mystifying mainstream media statements that we are, somehow, a net exporter.

Fascinatingly, he fails to address or even recognize the conflict with his previous statement. If we now produce more than we need and export the excess, how would opening federal lands to development improve upon this happy situation?

Oil production and imports
People here have much better graphs.


What underlying physical changes happened 2007 to mid 2008 to cause a doubling in the price of oil in just a year and a half?

* (NPR is not happy-clappy liberal radio. NPR hid the occupy movement from the American public as long as it could, right along with Fox.)

What underlying physical changes happened 2007 to mid 2008 to cause a doubling in the price of oil in just a year and a half?

Good Question. Reference Gail's Figure 1:


Supply from mid '07 until the end of '10 was flat or rising slightly, yet price fluctuated wildly. Speculation seems to have magnified the supply/demand signal physical was sending financial.

Here is a chart showing supply ahead of demand during the great ramp-up to $120/bbl for WTI:

Oddly, any such chart is uncommon.

Below, the explanation is elasticity: the snapping-taught of limited supply in the face of demand. But, the demand is not shown. Using the previous graph, demand seemed to be outpacing supply. I think the in-elasticity these following graphs attempt to illustrate is an illusion from only considering supply and price:


OPEC relies on inventory to scope the balance of supply/demand. supply = demand + delta inventory.

Apparently, not having a complete picture of inventory, OPEC relies on OECD inventory. And, of course, inventory is a trailing indicator.

That is one crazy looking chart, KD. Forgive my ignorance, but my understanding is that supply always equals demand...?

Demand(consumption) is met by supply(production) plus or minus change in inventory(storage).

It is the two variables Supply and Demand in millions of barrels plotted against price. It would help a lot if the quarter-year points were labeled with time.

Supply and demand gyre closely around each-other at $30/barrel and at $60/barrel. During the run-up in price, demand is ahead of supply except for one big deflection down to 85.5. Before and during the drop, supply is shown as always ahead of demand.

The independence of supply and demand is the stuff of economic ideology.

15:00 The oil shale has more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia holds. But the president won't let us develop it.

Wow . . . that guy is a huge liar.
Ironically, Jimmy Carter pushed oil companies to develop oil with lots of subsidies. But the costs were just too high.

So, is the API the source of all these stories in the media about limitless US reserves, exporting energy, etc.?

That's a great article.
All forgotten. The media remembers nothing. Only today's on-message script, being read from the teleprompters by models, matters.

"Don’t remember Colony Shale? Coloradans do. In the mesa country of northwestern Colorado, May 2, 1982 is still referred to as Black Sunday. That’s the day Exxon pulled the plug on a $5 billion extravaganza to excavate massive quantities of sedimentary rock, cook it in massive ovens to extract kerogen, a low-grade hydrocarbon within the rock, and produce an oil-like liquid suitable for refining into diesel and jet fuel. The operation would have consumed spectacular quantities of water in an arid region.

Exxon... figured that oil shale wouldn’t pay, shut down Colony, and vamoosed from the business. Money and political reputations weren’t the only things that were lost when the boom went bust. Jobs vanished. Homes went into foreclosure. Businesses crumpled. Marriages broke. Desperate breadwinners poached wild game to feed their families."

Don't worry, be Happy! The NYT says so... Then again their reporters might not have the firmest of grasps on reality or they may just be too ignorant or lazy to be able to connect the dots.


U.S. Inches Toward Goal of Energy Independence

“There is no question that many national security policy makers will believe they have much more flexibility and will think about the world differently if the United States is importing a lot less oil,” said Michael A. Levi, an energy and environmental senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “For decades, consumption rose, production fell and imports increased, and now every one of those trends is going the other way.”

How the country made this turnabout is a story of industry-friendly policies started by President Bush and largely continued by President Obama — many over the objections of environmental advocates — as well as technological advances that have allowed the extraction of oil and gas once considered too difficult and too expensive to reach.

It's always good to recall when the term "energy independence" is used that the only time anything can become independent of energy or energy independent is upon death--our whole life 24/7/365-6 is absolutely 100% dependent on energy--indeed, we are enslaved by our dependence on energy.

From: Stand and deliver

"But this Saudi fleet is not eastbound: it will in fact make a right turn and head for the US Gulf. This means that the price received by the Saudis will be based on US WTI quality crude oil, at a price of $107 a barrel."

They didn't explain why they expect to sell that oil for $107/bbl. I barge the equivalent oil from Texas to La. and get Light La. Sweet pricing which was bouncing around $128/bbl last week. I doubt the KSA is shipping oil half way around the world and getting less them I am by shipping my oil a couple of hundred miles. That represents almost half a $billion difference in pricing for those tanker loads. I suspect they are just making the common error these days that all oil in the US is sold at WTI prices.

As I recall, the Saudis price their oil relative to the ARGUS SOUR CRUDE INDEX, which is presently trading at about $120 a barrel. They also have an interest in a new refinery in the US, thus there may be some empty tanks needing to be filled with that Saudi sour crude...

E. Swanson

Saudi, and all other OPEC nations, only use the Argus index as a rough guide. Their price usually runs a few dollars higher because, on average, it is a bit lighter and sweeter. But every load is also priced according to grade. The OPEC Basket Price closed yesterday at $123.03.

It usually follows the Brent price pretty close, about a dollar cheaper than Brent right now.

Ron P.

I couldn't make sense of that either. Just as I couldn't make much sense of another linked article from UAE "Downward push on gas prices builds up" which said: "The UAE may be facing a shortage of cheap, readily available gas, but globally, natural gas prices are being squeezed by oversupply."

Really globally eh? Current UK Distribution Wholesale Nat Gas price is £0.62 per therm which is $9.87 per MMBTU. Japan is paying about $15 per MMBTU for LNG.

If these are supposedly "squeezed" prices due to "oversupply" then I'd hate to see what a shortage would look like. The author, in common with others, mistakes US Henry Hub prices with global prices.


This would be a good occasion to trot out Chris Nelder's post on energy journalism.


Why energy journalism is so bad

One of the questions that plagues me constantly is, “Why is energy journalism so bad?” Most mainstream articles about energy will leave you horribly confused at best, or horribly misled at worst. Today I will try to teach you how to read reports on energy without getting lost.


Peak Oil and Significant Speculation are both happeningI didn't agree with everything in that article (Stand and Deliver) but I do think speculation plays a significant effect on oil prices. The gyrations of price over the past 5 years have been too extreme to be explained by supply and demand. I think peak oil people tend to be resistant to this idea because they feel it weakens the case for peak oil and obscures fundamental forces leading to long term oil depletion. To be fair, many people use the evidence of any speculation to completely dismiss PO so this fear may be warranted. OTOH Peak Oil people tend to dismiss any talk of speculation or insist it has a minor effect on prices. But the marriage of a large producer with secret supply data (Saudis) combined with major US banks (and their shady history) begs of "insider trading". It is OK to believe in both PO and significant speculation, in fact, this is the logical outcome of a world where declining resources produce market takeovers by financial monopolies.

I hear the "speculation" argument pretty frequently but don't quite understand it. Let's see how futures (trading) work. Derivatives (and futures are derivatives are fundamentally different from stocks, bonds and other "real" assets in that for every long position there has to be short position.

On day one there is no WTI contract for a given month. When a speculator buys a futures contract the only way s/he can do this if another speculator sells it. The total of longs and shorts is always zero, and so are the profits. One future contract's holder gains are another future contract' losses.

Let's assume the speculator has significant capital and can rent a couple of crude carriers to buy physical oil and hold it for a while. Let's say a VLCC holds 500k bbls (which is the same as 500 future contracts btw) and rents 10 of them and fills them. 5mm is about 5 percent of one day's worth of global production. Although s/he may be driving the price up a bit when it comes time to sell s/he will drive the price down by the same amount.

The only way that I can envision speculation drives up prices is because it increases price volatility which increases the required rate of return of those who actually extract the stuff. This is because the extraction business is an NPV business and the higher the volatility of your expected cashflow the higher your required return will be. That would increase the hurdle for projects the investor would want to invest in. Although real, it is a long, long term effect and not something which is likely to explain day to day / week to week price volatility.

I am open to any suggestions / explanation of mechanism or papers which explore mechanism in which speculation drives up short term prices. Note that you never read about how speculators drive DOWN prices. That asymmetry of reporting should set off an alarm bell or two in the back of your head.


C8, speculation is definitely responsible for short term swings in the futures market. But they are never responsible for any long term trends in the oil price. They are not because it is just not possible. And futures swings can sometimes affect the spot market for a day or so, but not longer than that. The spot market is far more sluggish than the futures market and it always comes back to supply and demand.

It is nonsense to say that we peak oilers resist this because it weakens the case for peak oil. The only thing that will ever prove peak oil to the rest of the world is the world seeing peak oil in the rear view mirror.

But the marriage of a large producer with secret supply data (Saudis) combined with major US banks (and their shady history) begs of "insider trading". It is OK to believe in both PO and significant speculation, in fact, this is the logical outcome of a world where declining resources produce market takeovers by financial monopolies.

That is the biggest line of nonsense that I have read in a while. There is no marriage between Saudi Arabia and US banks. And the only thing Saudi ever announces to the world is "We've got plenty of oil and will supply any shortfall." If banks got those announcements in advance it would do them little good as far as insider trading goes because no one pays any attention to such noise from Saudi Arabia.

And just what is a "financial monopoly"? What bank or institution has a monopoly over the world's finances?

Ron P.

So you are saying that oil going from over $100 dollars a barrel in the first half of 2008 to under $50 for the second half are a result of supply and demand forces? Are you really saying the world shut down activity by over half? Because if this is what you are saying, then the GDP data clearly refutes this. The world maybe slowed by something less than 10% but it did not slow by over 50%. These were not short term or daily price fluctuations! These price trends lasted over half a year each so this kinda destroys the supply and demand argument unless you saw a world where half the people suddenly stopped moving. If Oil can fluctuate this far and for this long then only a blind person says speculation is not involved- or a person who denies their own logical faculties in obedience to a dogma. Please explain how supply and demand cut oil prices from $140 to $30 in less than 5 months. Aren't markets supposed to be efficient and not subject to these extremes according to your rationale? Again- you do not have to deny speculation to believe in PO. The long term trend (multi-year) is going to be up- I guarantee that. But significant swings can and will happen on a shorter monthy scale due to speculation. Heck even the news announcers and experts agree- there are always reports that "oil rose on fears of Iranian attacks, etc" That is what speculation is- betting on the future. Or are all these news people also deluded (it must be an incredible mass delusion).


Find a first semester Economics textbook and look up the word "elasticity".

A 50% drop in price does not necessarily mean a 50% drop in usage, nor the converse.

jjhman- I know what elasticity means. Do you know that very little of the buying in oil is by people who take actual possession of the oil- therefore it is primarily a speculative market? Do you know that in an efficient market with open information that these wild price swings shouldn't happen (you do understand the efficient market hypothesis correct)? I have taught economic history. Any commodity that goes from $140 to $30 in a matter of months is generally strongly influenced by outside financial interests- not too many economic historians will take your side.

Do you know that very little of the buying in oil is by people who take actual possession of the oil- therefore it is primarily a speculative market?

Quite so, provided you're talking about the futures markets, which you seem to be, and I think that gets to Ron's point even if you missed it. In order to have gasoline or diesel for, say, your car or truck, you've got to take possession of it, and to do that, you buy it from a supply chain of people who also took possession of it.

One might use the futures market to hedge, but it's unlikely that more than a few drops of your physical gasoline or diesel were bought there. So it swings the price around a bit in the short term because folks in the supply chain react to it to some extent, but that's about it. Pretty soon those folks have to stop reacting to pundits and virtual-paper-shufflers, and pay attention to supply and demand, or they either (1) run out and anger everyone down the line, or (2) swim in fuel they've no longer got any place to store.

A good part of the large swings is down to very low short-term elasticity, one sees numbers as low as 0.1 or less. For example, if somebody's already got money sunk into non-refundable reservations for a trip, they're not likely to cancel and toss a bundle of money out the window just because gasoline goes up 50 cents/gallon. (Next year's trip might be another story, if they haven't sunk any money into it yet.) For many reasons that have similar dynamical effects, many markets are not perfectly efficient in the short term; very little in this world other than paper trading turns on a dime.

I like


I have heard that, and ironically perhaps, there is little economic about "economics".

C8, did you not even bother to read my post? I said: "speculation is definitely responsible for short term swings in the futures market." So of course news affects the market, the spot market as well as the futures market. But, long term, the price always returns to what supply and demand dictates. The long term drop in the price of oil was caused by the recession. The slow rise in oil prices was caused by the slow recovery of the economies of the world.

There was nothing strange about that, only what common sense would predict.

Ron P.

Ron P- did you read MY post? I talked about price "gyrations". Nowhere did I say that PO would NOT cause "long term" upwards price trends. Maybe we differ in what we consider "long term" but consider this: four years after 2008 oil is still cheaper than the $140 price of the summer of 2008. Is this not evidence of the significant speculative power put into force back then? For the record I do believe oil will eventually reach $1,000 a barrel in the "long term". I am simply not a buyer of the idea that PO and speculation cannot exist together. I appreciate your feedback however.

The price of oil is set in the physical markets. The futures market prices only follow the spot prices with some independent short-term swings in the future markets but they have to realign themselves on a monthly basis. The reason the price of oil fell in 2008 is demand fell with economic troubles.

This quote in regards to the 2008 run-up is from a Fed Bank analyst (the report has disappeared since last year from the Dallas Fed Bank website):

Prices in the physical market were consistent with several market fundamentals, including increased demand from emerging markets, low elasticities of demand and reduced OPEC excess capacity, Plante and Yücel write.

“The behavior of inventories was also consistent with the reality of a tight market, not with a story of speculation-driven hoarding, whether we look at inventories above ground, below ground or floating at sea,” the authors state.

re As Reactors Age, the Money to Close Them Lags

I've been saying this for months, including here. I also suspect that the deficit that that this reporter mentions is vastly understated. Utilities had a pool of cash for decommissioning just sitting around and they did what any corporation does with a pool of cash does - try to make it larger by investing it in sometimes shaky schemes like derivatives. Its likely they put it all at risk and lost some or even much of it in 2008.

Hence the push to relicense. If they can kick this can down the road, so be it. Its cheaper to keep these plants "running" than face the huge dead end cost of decommissioning now when they are otherwise broke.

They are making a few unwarranted assumptions:

1) That they will be fiscally prudent this time and save money for decommissioning costs (and that this money will be worth anything 20 years from now)

2) That they can keep these nuclear plants which are corroding away running forever

And of course, the one that they have been promising us for decades:

3) We will have a permanent waste repository

A wrinkle on this last promise is the idea that we will somehow be able to recycle this fuel and render it less toxic. And that new nuclear plants will run on Thorium which is safer - thus by substitution these aging hulks of rust and concrete are probably safe too so why worry. Promises! Promises! Promises! And as far as Fukushima goes, they are telling us to look the other way, nothing to see here. It can't happen here.

San Luis Obispo is a lovely town on Hwy 101 a few miles inland from Morro Bay. Avila Beach is a lovely south facing bay with a lovely fishing pier, a few miles away. You can see it on webcam at http://www.avilabeachpier.com/beach-cam.html. However, Diablo Canyon is right there with its nuke plant in a seismically very active region. Downwind are the Salinas and the Central Valleys which grows much of the nation's produce, not to mention a bunch of California's wine. Offshore is one of the most productive fishing areas on the West Coast. If this plant suffers a Fukushima type accident, the implications for our food supply will be huge.

Fort St Vrain, Colorado shut down in 1989. Over 20 years later, 405 Kg of Highly Enriched Weapons Usable Uranium-235 is listed by the NRC as still stored onsite (as of last published data) as well as much of the rest of the "spent" fuel.. I can't find any plans to move it. Seems the plan is to leave it there forever.

Found this article via Google Cache. The original is now "not found" but is from KDVR (Fox 31 Denver).

Colorado's Fort St. Vrain nuclear reactor no threat

Over the course of two years in the early 1990s, large concrete blocks were brought into the building which formally housed the nuclear reactor at a cost of $22 million. Each block contained highly radioactive fuel blocks that needed a safe place to cool.

"These are our babies," Borst said, "It's our job to make sure this is a safe facility."

More than 1,400 radioactive fuel cells are stored in the ground inside 270 capsules. By design, the casings in which the fuel cells are stored are protected from terrorists, tornadoes and even earthquakes.

...The stored fuel cells have only used 10 percent of their power. The remaining 90 percent may be used at another nuclear plant one day, or it must be transferred out of Colorado by 2035 under an agreement with the Department of Energy.

I am fairly sure I read that there had been a recent disaster drill at Fort St. Vrain simulating a plane crashing into the building but I can't find details offhand. Sure it was on the KDVR (Fox 31 Denver) website but it also appears to have vanished and so far I can't find a cached copy.

Edit: Found another source for the drill. It is also now "not found" but Google Cache comes to the rescue again

Mock Tornado, Plane Crash Test Response at Former Nuclear Plant Near Platteville

May 13--PLATTEVILLE -- It was a disaster scenario that tested several aspects of the Fort St. Vrain plant north of here: a tornado hit and caused a plane to crash into a building at the spent fuel storage area.

Fort St. Vrain was once a nuclear power plant in Weld County operated by the Public Service Co. of Colorado, but it never accomplished what the company wanted. It was changed to the U.S. Department of Energy's Fort St. Vrain Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation and now stores the used nuclear fuel that was used in the plant.

That means a real tornado or plane crash into the plant could present some difficult emergency situations that local and national emergency systems would have to control.

"That's why we presented this scenario," said Greg Horton of the Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory. "We want to see how they react to this type of emergency."

Try "The Wayback Machine".
Internet Archive:

I participated in the first fuel loading at FSV in 1973-4. That building has no real "containment vessel" as you would see at a typical water cooled reactor. The "fuel cells" mentioned in the article are hexagonal graphite blocks about 15 inches across the flats and 30 inches high. They are apparently, according to the article, now stored in individual concrete blocks, both to keep them safe from outside attack and to keep them from going critical if too many are pushed together in a corner somewhere. The uranium in the fuel blocks is highly enriched, weapons grade uranium mixed with Thorium, very dangerous stuff.

According to government publications here and here (warning: PDFs), the fuel blocks are stored in big stainless steel cylinders, six per cylinder, then the cylinders are stored in reinforced concrete storage vaults. Calculating from the thermal load figures in the second document suggests there are 442 cylinders in storage. Natural circulation with outside air introduced into the vaults is sufficient to maintain the cylinders at a stable temperature. The vaults themselves can be opened from above; IIRC, the federal DOE is still required to remove the fuel by 2035. The amount of heat to be dissipated in 2010 was estimated to be about 640 watts per cylinder, about 28.3 kW in total.

The fissile/fertile material proper consists of TRISO-coated micro-spheres of multiple types, ranging in size from a diameter of 0.38 millimeters to 0.80 millimeters. The TRISO particles are assembled into "fuel rods" 12.5 mm in diameter and 50 mm long using a binder of some sort, and the rods are stacked and sealed in holes drilled in the hexagonal graphite blocks. Some particles contain only fertile thorium fuel, some a mixture of thorium and fissile U-235. Extraction of the fissile material from the TRISO particles is considered more difficult than extracting fissile material from more typical fuel structures. Pebble-bed reactor fuel is a variation on this basic design, with the TRISO micro-spheres contained in graphite spheres.

Not the nicest stuff to have up the road from me. Could be a lot worse: say, like the spent fuel pools at Fukushima.

I participated in making a lot of that fuel. Your description matches what I remember. One of the ways that the fuel is different than other fuels is that instead of an oxide the fuel is in the form of a carbide. I'm not sure why it is considered more difficult to separate out, we used to just crush the spheres and put it back in the front end process after determining the amount of U and Th. The "binder" you mention was just coal-tar pitch carburized at a very high temperature.

Most abstractly it sounds like the same storage issue that every other reactor in the world is not dealing with.

Most abstractly it sounds like the same storage issue that every other reactor in the world is not dealing with.

Aside from the several years the other fuels spend in a spent-fuel pool, because they need circulating water to carry off the excess heat as air is not adequate, and if something happens to the pumps for long enough (a la Fukushima), the water boils off, the spent fuel catches fire, and lots of nasties go up in the smoke plume. Or the fuel melts and behaves in unpredictable fashion, pooling here and there and doing ugly things. And where the authorities keep authorizing increased density, well over the initial spec.

Spent fuel pools have made me nervous for a long time. I'm much happier when the stuff cools down to the point where it can be tucked away in dry storage.

Typo somewhere: 442 cyl @ 640W = 283kW

According to government publications here and here (warning: PDFs), the fuel blocks are stored in big stainless steel

The second of your links is broken (missing http at start) but if I unmangle it I still end up with the same document as the first.

Interestingly the DOE document gives the average burnup for discharged fuel as 42,000 MWD/MTHM (42,000 Megawatt-days/Metric Tonne Heavy Metal). That's not too far away fromn the 32,600/MWd/t I found elsewhere in an individual sample spent fuel analysis from FSV. The maximum burn achieved by an individual element was said to be 527.79/fuel element (segment 4 discharged 8/18/1989). That's less than 50,000 MWd/t and is nothing like the maximum burnup of nearly 200,000 MWD/t conjured out of the air elsewhere. The average burnup achieved is less than half that claimed by Wikipedia. It was also comparable to that of more traditional US reactors. The fuel was discharged at the end of its lifecycle at a planned interval. The reactor was never subsequently reloaded.

The document gives the initial U-235 enrichment ratio as 93.5% enriched (Weapons Grade). Most of which is still on-site together with even more potentially explosive U-233 bred in operation.

Am I to understand the financing for decommisioning these reactors is based upon the Global Financial Ponzi scheme? I don't see how this doesn't end up with a bad outcome for our kids and grandkids.


Decommissioning options:

The International Atomic Energy Agency has defined three options for decommissioning, the definitions of which have been internationally adopted:

Immediate Dismantling (or Early Site Release/Decon in the US): This option allows for the facility to be removed from regulatory control relatively soon after shutdown or termination of regulated activities. Usually, the final dismantling or decontamination activities begin within a few months or years, depending on the facility. Following removal from regulatory control, the site is then available for re-use.

Safe Enclosure (or Safestor(e) SAFSTOR): This option postpones the final removal of controls for a longer period, usually in the order of 40 to 60 years. The facility is placed into a safe storage configuration until the eventual dismantling and decontamination activities occur.

Entombment: This option entails placing the facility into a condition that will allow the remaining on-site radioactive material to remain on-site without the requirement of ever removing it totally. This option usually involves reducing the size of the area where the radioactive material is located and then encasing the facility in a long-lived structure such as concrete, that will last for a period of time to ensure the remaining radioactivity is no longer of concern.

There is $24 billion sitting in a "nuclear waste fund" that can't actually be used to pay for a safer way to store the waste at reactors.

When one does the math, it just boggles the mind. The trillions of dollars which will be required to clean up this mess, or even to mitigate some of this problem using "new generation reactors" simply isn't and won't be there, and the costs will continue to increase exponentially. Nothing that the pro-nuke bunch has posited, here or elsewhere, has even begun to cause me to question this conclusion. I'm not prone to mental blocks, have some background in nuclear power, and have a vested interest in solving this problem predicament, as I'm directly downwind of some of the oldest plants in the country. Soma,,, anyone?

It's actually easy. Just like at Fort St. Vrain you simply change the name of the facility from "[PLANT_NAME] Nuclear Power Plant" to "[PLANT_NAME] Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation". And you're done!

Works for me :-/ Now if we can all call global warming "periodic climate inconsistencies", or "heating-degree-days reduction"...

Just engage in some hand-waving, like the pro-nukers, and your fears will vanish. Seems to work every time for them.

I just finished reading 1491 (I highly recommend it), and there were two points that became clear to me. First is the incredible resiliency of man and our potential to thrive in varied unlikely environments from the Andes to the Amazon, and without destroying that environment. The second is how horrifically that can end when people are exposed to something beyond their ability to adapt - in this case disease they had no ability to fight off.

I see both those things in this area of Pennsylvania where my ancestors have been since the 1750's. Clearly this is a land where (at least potentially) people can eventually learn to thrive without fossil fuels. At the same time all around are nuclear power plants loaded with waste that will be, must be, released into that environment if it is not removed, rendering the land toxic in a way people will not be able to adapt to or survive.

It seems clear to me that if we have been unable to move that waste in the time of plenty, it is unlikely we will move it as we collapse, even if that happens slowly. It's possible, but unlikely. As a result I've spent a lot of hours contemplating that Mother Jones map showing where the waste is stored, and where might be the best place to relocate.

And exactly whose backyard do you propose moving it into?

That's the rub of course. However, we made the stuff, it exists and we cannot undo that and it cannot leave the earth. Therefore we can either put it somewhere, which will likely become contaminated and uninhabitable, or we can let it sit where it is - distributed in the very places that are most populated due to being historically the best land for people to live. I don't see the latter as the best choice, but it is what I expect will happen. For the next couple of thousand years the containment systems will randomly be breached, distributing radioactive particles over areas where people may not even be aware of them, rendering whatever progress they may have made toward sustainable living moot.

I really don't see a basis for your pessimism. If waste fuel can be transformed into a glass like material that is not water soluble, stored in corrosion resistant containers and then buried deep in a stable geologic formation the chances of material escaping are rather low. Even if there is a mathematical possibility of material escaping through the various barriers to the surface, the rate at which material escapes would not be high enough to threaten life on the surface. A lot of research has been done on this but in most countries there has been a lack of political will to actually select a site for a deep respository and build it. It's a scandal that so much spent fuel is still being stored in close proximity to power reactors. As was demonstrated at Fukushima, having a spent fuel pool in close proximity to a reactor greatly complicates the job of dealing with a damaged reactor.

In Canada, a waste respository would be built in the Canadian Shield, an immense area of igneous rock billions of years old. It is quite common for rock in this part of the country to contain radioactive material such as uranium and the natural decay of this material creates radon gas that can seep into the basement of homes. While people living near a nuclear waste respository may believe it poses a risk to their health, the reality is that there is a much higher probability that they have an elevated risk of getting cancer due to radon gas leaking into their house.

If, can, could, etc. We won't do these things, they always cost too much, are too inconvenient, etc. The pessimism comes because, while these things might be possible, they won't actually ever be done. This comes up repeatedly and seems to always be ignored.

It's important to remember the lag time between a major change in circumstances and popular thinking. Most folks I know are vaguely aware of the phrase, 'Peak Oil'. But everybody, and I mean everybody, is still fully invested in BAU and can't even conceive of any other arrangement. People even scoff at the suggestion of keeping a few weeks of disaster supplies on hand. Even in earthquake country where everybody knows it's just a matter of time. The vast majority of people are still thinking in terms of getting ahead in our current economy and buying more toys, period. Our existing political willpower comes directly from this thinking.

Now fast forward five years to when gasoline is maybe $8 / gallon on days when you are permitted to buy any. Pardon my chauvenist attitude, but when 'security moms' get a glimpse of the chaos from a real fuel shortage, they are going to stop worrying about Silent Spring and start worrying about having something to cook for dinner and a table to serve it on. I expect the environmental movement will get trampled in our stampede to do whatever it takes. It will happen first with oil, but once people get really concerned about the foundations of their modern lifestyle I do expect it to carry over to other areas too. Once people are truly scared they will accept many things that were once unthinkable.

So maybe I'm an optimist, but I expect greatly renewed insterest in nuclear power. In particular since our existing plants are already there and radioactive, at end of life it makes the most sense to backfill the existing containment structure and build a new gen III reactor on the same site. Thus reusing the existing turbine house, switchgear, and transmission lines for a major cost savings.

One thing I keep in mind with future cost projections is to think of things in terms of what is physically possible, and not extrapolate strictly from current ways of thinking.

My pessimism is based partly on the fact that nothing we can construct in terms of "corrosion resistant containers" will last long enough. Also, while moving it to a stable geologic formation would be my preference, there is no evidence that this will happen. We've made no effort to do it while we had the resources and wealth to do so without so much sacrifice, why do you think it will happen as our energy and resource base fails and we go broke? Like so much else, it's not about what we theoretically could do, but what we likely will do.

Keep in mind that accidents often happen in the act of transporting dangerous material like this.

Something unusual or intrusive has to happen to them now for something to go wrong.

In transit, any number of common random accidents could cause them to be scattered around an area, or smash together in such a way that criticality may become a problem.

The fact is that we have dug ourselves a hole that there is no particularly good way to get out of.

It would be good, though, to stop diggin'!

There would of course be risk, and likely an accident, but I disagree with this statement:

Something unusual or intrusive has to happen to them now for something to go wrong.

In fact that's the main point - in the fullness of time nothing unusual at all has to happen for a release of radioactive material. Leaving them alone ensures a release from every one where waste remains.

And near term, all that is required for a more catastrophic failure is to stop the pumps for less than 1 day.

They appear stable, but that's an illusion. So I don't think we can stop digging yet - we have to complete removal of the waste or the lands where each of these plants are located will be poisoned eventually. There is no other possible outcome while that material remains there.

Yes indeed. I should have added "in the short term."

I have said repeatedly here and elsewhere that all of these plants and storage facilities will go Fukushima or worse eventually. Over enough time, the probabilities of something going wrong just climes to near certainty.

Of course, the longer they run, the more junk will be produced and the worse the inevitable disaster will be.

I really don't see a basis for your pessimism...
It's a scandal that so much spent fuel is still being stored in close proximity to power reactors.

I think you answered your own query. Yes, properly depleted, processed, casked & entombed nuclear waste is - like the perfectly maintained reactor - completely safe. There do not appear to be many examples of this standard (and yes, I know that huge nuclear state, Norway, is trying to deal with it).

There just seem to be a lot of ways to cut corners & screw it up.

I cut corners and screw up, too; but when it's my painting or carpentry skills that fail I'm not bothering anyone else. Somehow I have to hold the nuclear industry to a slightly higher standard. Sadly that does not seem to be the case.

"I really don't see a basis for your pessimism..."

...then: "..but in most countries there has been a lack of political will to actually select a site for a deep respository and build it. It's a scandal that so much spent fuel is still being stored in close proximity to power reactors."

Our Your "too cheap to meter energy source" has become a political hot potato, and too expensive to complete the cycle. These costs will be socialized, one way or another, and likely not by the ones who've incurred them. These full costs should have been imposed upon the beneficiaries of this technology in real time over the last 50 years. That they haven't been is a pretty good indicator that they won't be, just one of the many foul legacies presented to future generations being sacrificed at the alter of growth. It's no wonder so many try to rationalize these things away; the deeds are done and current generations have little hope of undoing them, considering the path we're on.

Again, anyone in disagreement with my position is welcome to present evidence of any real, meaningful progress now being made on this front, including technology, timelines for completion and mitigation, costs (and who bears them). The problem is very well defined, as should any solutions be. I urge you to keep in mind though that these problems (predicaments) all began as solutions.

I'm still waiting for someone to propose Antarctica as the global dumping ground for this stuff. Nobody lives there and it's plenty cool :-/

They are probably waiting until all the ice melts. Although, it will likely be geologically unstable afterwards. /sarc

"alter of growth" - I know it's just a typo, but I love it. That's definitely what we face, a major alter of growth. And it's gonna keep us from doing so many things we think we can/will do: go to mars, safely bury nuclear waste, sequester carbon... Of course in the end it was inevitable, and is a good thing. The sooner growth stops, the less damage to the planet.

I really don't see a basis for your pessimism.

Oh I'm really quite optimistic. Here's how I think it's going to play out (suggestions for edits/additions, welcomed)...

In no particular order:

- Peak resources are going to set in motion all kinds of wonderful economic things, which already seems to be beginning
- The above will put pressures on the viability of nation-state/centralized/large-scale socio-political/economic control, which doesn't work anyway, and undermine all kinds of feasibilities, such as what to do with nuclear waste
- Anthropogenic atmospheric carbon (much of it, retroactive) will continue to enhance global climate change knock-on/feedback effects, including methane release, and more radical swings in weather patterns, oceans and jet stream shifts/loops, etc.
- This will place all kinds of pressures on the planet and there will (continue to) be mass extinctions, though humans might somehow survive, assuming the climate doesn't get severe enough to create a poisonous ocean and/or atmosphere, not that humans aren't already leading the way
- In various places over time, say 100 000 years, former neglected nuclear sites will leak radioactivity into the environment, further enhancing the changes to it and maybe the flora and fauna, including humans
- Finally, after 100 000 years or maybe far longer (add a '0'?), species will bounce back, the climate will have achieved a new equilibrium, Earth will be the Eden it once was before humans appeared, and maybe the (mutated?) humans, if any survive, will either do the same thing over again, or be actually smart enough not to.

"after 100 000 years or maybe far longer (add a '0'?)"

Perhaps many '0's

I'm inclined to agree in retrospect, but it seems that I've crossed my time-to-edit-post tipping point.

Once a member replies to your post, you can't edit.

Thanks :)

Shouldn't we study this idea for, like, the next 50 years?

Perhaps the saddest part of Apocalypto is the ending when Jaguar Paw takes his little family away into another part of the jungle, never knowing that they could run, but they couldn't hide from what was to come, at least, not for long.

If some folks can quote Dr.Seuss, then I will quote Monty Python: "Run away!"



Last week's Economist magazine (March 12 issue) had a fantastic section on Nuclear power - a portion discusses why reprocessing waste is less popular than one would think it ought to be. For one, I didn't know that reprocessed fuel ran much hotter than does standard fuel; there are other reasons listed that lead the reader to believe that reprocessed fuel is more dangerous to use making the risks outweigh the benefits.

Um, just a minor observation; The wind along the Ca. coast is from the NW for 9 to 10 months of the year. Otherwise calm in October and some SW winds in LA area when mexican storms approach. Winds pretty much rip down the coast from the North.

Thus the probable path of Diablo Canyon toxics would be towards the LA basin and Channel Islands, also crossing the fertile Lompoc area. Gallo wine from Salinas area is about 200 miles upwind. Just a matter of which disaster would occur.

Fishing off the Ca. coast died years ago. Salmon fishing closed. Virtually all commercial fishing fleets decimated. We allowed commercial fleets to overfish for decades. In the 1930s, the Catalina basin was filled with lobster, abalone, and every square foot of sand was carpeted with sole. By 1970, it was hard to find anything but kelp. One friend built a boat which he took out for shark fishing, with machine guns.
Recently stock is returning because fishing was banned but it can be stripped quickly.

Not to disagree with your basic premise that Diablo Canyon is a predicament we won't be escaping. One of many.

My personal guess is that the problem will be 'solved' by dumping the waste mid ocean. Just encase the waste in glass and lead blocks and find a nice gooey bottom. All accomplished under 'emergency' regulations.

Cheers, Dave

Didn't France "deal" with their nuclear waste that way for many years - just dump it in the ocean?


The USSR dumped submarine reactors in the Barents sea as I recall. Many US companies dumped so-called low level waste in the Pacific. I've seen the 55 gallon drums being prepared for dumping. Usually the radioactive "junk" was mixed with concrete in the steel drums.

Perhaps we should resurrect some Romans to help us out with that. Their concrete seems to last longer than ours...

Their lead is less radioactive, too. There is a market for old Roman pipes and ship's ballast blocks. They were mined, the uranium ores refined away from them long ago, and they've had time to quiet.

Monkey traps.

If we believe that the future will be better and easier, then it makes sense to put off difficult tasks.

We are evolved to be optimistic about the future, and to only respond to crisis.

Short of crisis, there will be no point in time at which safely storing "spent fuel" is politically do-able in what passes for representative democracy in this country. It gets progressively more difficult, while views of the future, and promises of politicians, get progressively more rosy.

Once the pools start boiling away in place, people will run away.

It ain't about reactor designs. It's about human brain design. Since human industrial cleverness is a additive phenomenon based on the sharing of durable exosomatic information, we naturally pass through the "clever enough to get into deep trouble" stage before advancing to the "clever enough to anticipate the inevitable results" stage.

hence, monkey traps.

Fission power. Fishing power. The green revolution. Etc. A system comprised of a cage of monkeys and a hand grenade will tend to seek a stable state. One may wonder retroactively about the monkeys' motivation, narratives, politics, etc. But the stable state calls out, that seductive grenade pin... see how it shines...

Pretty safe odds that the background radiation and isotope levels hanging around in 100 years will be a lot higher. And by that time, none of the stuff we did with that power will seem to have been worth doing.

Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending March 16, 2012

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged just under 14.4 million barrels per day during the week ending March 16, 100 thousand barrels per day below the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 82.2 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production decreased last week, averaging nearly 8.8 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging about 4.3 million barrels per day.

U.S. crude oil imports averaged 8.2 million barrels per day last week, down by 492 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 8.7 million barrels per day, 215 thousand barrels per day above the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 632 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 174 thousand barrels per day last week.

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 1.2 million barrels from the previous week. At 346.3 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are in the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 1.2 million barrels last week and are in the upper limit of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories increased while blending components inventories decreased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 1.8 million barrels last week and are in the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 0.5 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 1.5 million barrels last week.

Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged nearly 18.2 million barrels per day, down by 5.7 percent compared to the similar period last year. Over the last four weeks, motor gasoline product supplied has averaged about 8.4 million barrels per day, down by 7.8 percent from the same period last year. Distillate fuel product supplied has averaged just under 3.6 million barrels per day over the last four weeks, down by 8.5 percent from the same period last year. Jet fuel product supplied is 1.0 percent higher over the last four weeks compared to the same four-week period last year.

4-Week Avg U.S. Net Imports: 7.430 mb/d (lowest since March 1996)

self-sufficient in oil by 2019... ?

Sure, RW. Maybe sooner than that. It's easy: crash the economy; 60% unemployment (we can fudge figures to show 25%-30%), negative growth, only food and necessaries in play. Biggest user then is the military, coping with widespread civil unrest, and they can always use the SOR.

How do we do it? Well, GB can fight their war for oil at the Falklands; and we (Israel as our surrogate) can bomb Iran. Oil prices surge, destroying EU and the PIIGS immediately default. Panic (rightfully felt) insues, cratering our financial house of cards... the Fed can't lower interest rates, and the Repubs will never allow another stimulus package, so nothing will be done about it on any realistic economic way. Not that any application of Macro-Economic pseudoscience would help at that point.

So... enjoy those low gas prices and oil self sufficiency!

Sort of like watching the train wreck in slow motion... right now the engines are about the drop off the cliff!



Sure the wheels could fall off the global economy (again) or we could have an(other) major oil war. (Not that an(other) Falklands conflict would count given that there is no oil produced in Falklands now nor for a few years yet).

I was just wondering how far this linear drop in imports could continue in a more or less BAU world, before the US economy imploded catastrophically.

Sort of like watching the train wreck in slow motion... right now the engines are about the drop off the cliff!

I'm wondering if we are closer to that than many think even here amongst the choir. The Saudi's are placating, cajoling the naive, easily led West into thinking they have 2.5 mbd spare capacity. Once MSM finally gets enough long term and circumstantial evidence they will acquiesce to the fact it just ain't so. In fact, the price of oil didn't drop much with all the ballyhooed rhetoric about recently increasing Saudi output, so it would seem oil investors are savvy to the fact there isn't much in the way of spare - maybe nothing. Which means oil price just keeps getting pressured upward as a limited supply tries to keep up with increasing demand from Chindia. The pressure keeps being applied not only to oil price but the world economy as well, until we start seeing those 'closed - out of business' signs again like 08. The 2nd stepdown, which will probably happen this year. Like you posted, what will stop its decline then? Nothing.

Something I posted a while back is the idea that this coming stepdown will be worse than the 1st in 08, because there isn't a real estate bubble to burst - that already happened. So the pressure will more incrementally mount until the entire economy is the bubble that bursts.

Earl: I go back and forth between a "it's about time" to, "no, please, not yet!" I see nothing to stop the next stepdown very quicikly. I guess when you fall off a cliff, you fall until you hit bottom.

Definitly time for us to scale down... otoh, us 99ers are already in a world of hurt. Just about the time you think it can't get worse, well, you get the idea.

So, do you think the Israelis wait until the election, hoping for a better US admin to support them more fully, or do they take action sooner, either assuming Obama will win or that Obama would never buck them just before the election? Either way, there are enough loose cannons in the ME to arm a ship of the line. And all of them seem to believe that the God of vengence and anger supports them.

Funny... whoever is left standing will probably say, "it was God's will."



"Once MSM finally gets enough long term and circumstantial evidence they will acquiesce to the fact it just ain't so."

A fellow here witnessed the fall of Russia up-close. He says the media lies just got sillier and more obvious as the event approached.

Those media was state controlled. Our is contolled by corporations. How this differs, time will tell us.

Ha, as the Saudis would say, "The market is fully supplied". Although the price is not noted.

If I remember correctly the last time prices went up the Saudis were saying that the oil was available but no one was buying. Yet prices were going up because there wasn't enough oil. Now it appears that both stories are true in their own way and being repeated.

Isn't the situation that the stuff the Saudis have for sale is so nasty that there isn't enough refining capacity to turn it into usable fuel?

Yes the Saudis are making some progress with low grade and contaminated oil, although not as fast as planned.

Processing lower grades may also lead to more refinery maintenance. Saudis blame maintenance for a large increase in gasoline imports.

Please note the word "shortage" being used here.

Aramco to import more fuel on supply shortage
Riyadh: Wed, 21 Mar 2012

Saudi Aramco, the world's largest oil exporter Saudi Arabia's state oil firm, is expected to import higher-than-usual volumes of gasoline and gasoil.

The increased import will plug a supply shortage caused by refinery maintenance and firming demand ahead of summer season, traders said on Wednesday.

The refiner has been aggressively seeking gasoil and gasoline in the spot market after having already bought 20 per cent more gasoil for March. Its gasoil imports for April are expected to be even higher than March, traders added.


It makes sense Saudis need more juice given the need to fuel their oil production expansion work. Gotta watch such imputs and make sure they don't get counted as domestic production consumption that provides the net export numbers. Thanks for the instructive story.

That is an impressive net drop in imported crude. But people need to remember that the drop is so big because it has two parts
1) Increased production of 'tight oil' made possible with $100/barrel oil; and
2) Decreased consumption because we are too poor to afford as much of the $100/barrel oil.

But it sure shows that we make big changes in our crude imports when we are forced to do so by price.

The decrease in net oil imports, according to the chart, comes to about 4.5 million barrels per day. The increase in production comes to about half a million barrels per day over several years. So doing the math...

Ron P.

Saudi imports into US fall, while the Northeast US strains to meet gasoline demand

According to MasterCard Spending Plus, gasoline demand has actually improved steadily over the last month:

US Gasoline Weekly Use +3.4% At 8.777 Million B/D - SpendingPulse

This report is somewhat at odds with the EIA report, which even the Wall Street Journal now says is understating gasoline demand.

Meanwhile the specter of potential gasoline shortages in the Northeast US this summer motivated Congress to conduct an inquiry into the situation. The EIA issued a revised assessment, although still bleak, where one major refinery previously thought to be on its way to closure may remain open.

EIA has been following the changes in the East Coast market closely as described in the reports that accompany my testimony. Significant capacity serving Northeast petroleum product markets was recently idled. ConocoPhillips` Trainer and Sunoco`s Marcus Hook refineries were closed during 2011, but were partially offset by the restart of PBF Energy`s Delaware City refinery, which is about same size as Trainer. (Table 1) HOVENSA`s U.S. Virgin Islands export refinery, which supplied the East Coast, also closed in February 2012. The impacts of that closure are just beginning, but by itself it is not expected to be a major problem for Northeast product markets.

[includes map of northeast pipelines and terminals]


The Implications of Refinery Closures for U.S. Homeland Security and Critical Infrastructure Safety

In addition, there are plans to improve the operational capacity of the most important Gulf Coast to Northeast Pipeline, the Colonial Pipeline.

March 19, 2012
Colonial to add pipeline capacity
Colonial Pipeline has unveiled a major expansion of the only gasoline and disel line from the US Gulf Coast to the Northeast, thirsty for fuel as refineries in the region shut down. Colonial, the only major conduit for moving refined fuels from the Gulf refining center up the East Coast, will add 125,000 barrels per day of new capacity to its Line 3 pipeline from Greensboro, North Carolina, to Linden, New Jersey, boosting its capacity to a total 950,000 bpd by 2014, the company said. It is the latest and largest of a series of multimillion-dollar projects that will boost shipments along the network, which has been running flat-out for the past several years after a series of refinery closures in the US Northeast forced the region to pull more supplies from farther afield. "We want to make sure that we're staying ahead of what's going on in the Philadelphia area ... as refineries close and turn into terminals and as pipelines look for supply," said Dave Doudna, Colonial's director of business development and optimisation. Colonial, owned by investors including Canadian pension fund Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec as well as units of Royal Dutch Shell and Koch Industries, may stand as one of the winners from the painful collapse of the Atlantic Basin refining industry, in the US and Europe. The region's older refineries lack access to the bonanza of cheaper shale oil and Canadian crude in the Midwest, and aren't sophisticated enough to process cheaper imported heavy grades.


Despite all these well laid plans, and despite much media hype, it remains to be seen if Saudi oil shipments to the US will be maintained at a higher level than in recent years – about 1 million bpd. So far in 2012, they have been running 25% or more higher than usual, but last week, they even fell slightly below the one million mark.


Questions Arise on Gasoline Data

If the Department of Energy is to be believed, weekly gasoline demand has fallen 7% on average from a year ago, to its lowest level since 2001. But few market observers believe it . . .

"Historically, it was a very reliable indicator," Mr. Stuart says.

The problem lies in how gasoline demand, both domestic and foreign, is calculated. The EIA looks at demand as a whole, then estimates how much is used domestically and how much is sent overseas. But the EIA had been vastly underestimating export demand from late 2010 to August 2011, said Robert Merriam, who oversees the EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status Report. For example, in early August, the report assumed gasoline exports at 255,000 barrels a day, but, in fact, exports amounted to 536,000 barrels a day. Once it realized its mistake, the agency changed its methodology. But the switch has caused the appearance of a sudden plunge in domestic demand.

Instead of a 7% drop, the decline probably is closer to 4%, Mr. Merriam estimates. "We take that responsibility very seriously," Mr. Merriam said. "We try to make it as accurate as we can, given our resources." Those resources have been shrinking. Last year, Congress cut the EIA's budget 14%, forcing it to scale back its research efforts, including the termination of its annual report on U.S. oil and gas reserves.

The article also mentions questions about EIA production data, such as US natural gas production, and then there are the discrepancies between the EIA and other data sources regarding oil production from Texas and Saudi Arabia for 2010.

Given the budget cuts I wouldn't be suprised to see the EIA data getting less and less credible.

That WSJ article uses disinformation tactics. For some reason they are trying to confuse and cast doubt on demand dropping (this isn't the first article to try and convince readers that demand is okay). They report that the EIA has now fixed the demand numbers so that means that we have witnessed a 7% drop since 2 years ago instead of one. Instead of clearly stating that, the WSJ writer casts doubt on demand dropping at all even when it is clearly dropping by multiple sources including the EIA. My guess is that it doesn't correlate well with all of their recovery talk so they have switched to denial mode.

"This recent tanking is unprecedented, very strange," Mr. Wallace says. "It doesn't correlate with other things that we are being told."

He pointed to the recent data showing more people were finding jobs.

"How are they getting to work? Are they all walking?" he says.

Gasoline demand still falling. Selected approximate YOY monthly gasoline demand changes based on EIA weekly numbers (the first negative YOY month was April 2011)

Apr 2011 - Apr 2010: -150 kbd
Aug 2011 - Aug 2010: -280 kbd
Nov 2011 - Nov 2010: -420 kbd
Mar 2012 - Mar 2011: -700 kbd

With gasoline demand falling less ethanol is being consumed:

Also, this is the first report where weekly ethanol production fell YOY. It took about two months longer than I thought but I would expect ethanol production numbers to keep falling.

It's nice to see Mike Ruppert mentioned up top. Although I haven't seen Collapse, I did hear Mike at a presentation he gave locally last year - I was in the front row of the folding chairs so it was "up close and personal". He may be seen as nuts by some people but he is totally credible when you listen to him; not that I agreed with everything he suggested. What was especially good about seeing him in person was the ability to ask questions directly. I have a DVD of the presentation and it's fun to go back and re-watch it.

Get those personal lifeboats going and then start on your community arks.


I Like Mike Ruppert, he does sometimes have a flair for the dramatic, and he makes short term predictions which are maybe regrettable. I do not feel that very many people will ever listen to such an extreme message anyway, even if it is true. Cognitive dissonance and conformation bias will keep the vast majority of people from seriously considering a peak oil economic collapse. It interesting though how many people are “doomsday prepping”. There are now to television shows about this now I hear. I briefly saw part of an episode, and though it seems most preppers are worried about the New World Order or solar flares, they are preparing for survival on some level which I find interesting.

My email is in my profile here, I would love to get on your mailing list I have heard you mention.

Hi Mark,

Sure, I'm more than glad to add you. I usually send them out every Saturday. I cover a lot of topics but not energy since the majority of folks who get it either read or post on TOD. I'll send you a list of the people and where they live in a separate email in a few days. I'll forward last week's to you today.



I listen to his show once and awhile and sometimes it's pretty good. For example, I enjoyed the recent one with Derrick Jensen and an older one with James H. Kunstler, whose show I also listen to once and awhile. (Yes, I also followed, via Google Street View/Maps where he might have moved to. :)

Ruppert strikes me as one of those former and maybe rare and maybe naive, "fresh-faced", tough-talkin' do-good cops who realized that the system he was in has/had other ideas. I imagine movies have been made about that too.

Next show he does, I'm going to try to email him and suggest he consider a 'Collapse 2 New Edition'. Like a Collapse 1, only new-&-improved.

I just listened to his show with Dmitry Orlov and it was good. I will look for the Derrick Jensen show, I really like his writing.

”Ruppert strikes me as one of those former and maybe rare and maybe naive, "fresh-faced", tough-talkin' do-good cops who realized that the system he was in has/had other ideas. I imagine movies have been made about that too”.

That is my take on him; his heart is in the right place. His “lifeboat” concept makes a lot of sense; I am working on my own.

Best wishes with your lifeboat too.

Re: Iran and the Oil Scarcity Myth

Glover & Economides are outdoing themselves in cornucopian rhetoric!

And we get a breath-taking glimpse of the scale of newfound Western resources when we realize that Wyoming and its surrounding states alone are estimated to hold over 800 billion barrels, more than triple Saudi Arabia’s known reserves. According to industry consultants Wood MacKenzie, spending on oil and gas exploration hit a record $72 billion in 2011. That figure could well continue to rise during 2012 and beyond. Against this background, Iran’s share of global oil production is, according to the IEA, set to fall from 4.9 percent in 2012 to 4.5 billion barrels in 2015. It also explains why the European Union remains unconcerned by the embargo it has imposed on Iranian oil imports to the continent from July 1.

Just two of many possible objections: Wyoming isn't producing all that oil (Green River shale) for a good reason: there's no economical way to do it. And the numbers on Iran are crazy... 4.5 BILLION barrels of oil in 2015??? That would be 12 Mbpd, if I remember my 5th-grade math correctly.

So, if the MSM can make us believe that so much oil is soon coming from Iran, then peak oil can be talked down a few more years. The idea might be, bomb Iran, then claim that if they were still on track to pump all their oil, the world would not be peaking.

I'm guessing they meant to say that Iran's share of global oil production is predicted to decrease from 4.9% to 4.5% over the next three years. Of course, if war breaks out it will fall a lot farther and faster!

Overall, the article is full of big numbers meant to impress the masses, whether or not they are have any bearing on future oil extraction rates.

How does one switch from percent to billions of barrels of oil in one sentence? I'm seeing these "mistakes" more often and have little doubt that they aren't mistakes. "Feed'em s#!t and keep'em in the dark" is reaching remarkable levels, indicative of the end game, IMO.

These folk are starting to sound like the woman who prayed the tornado away.


"Feed'em s#!t and keep'em in the dark"

You forgot, if their heads pop up, cut them off!


((Last rant for me today... I am at work and won't have time to get back on except for a quick peek and back to it. Have to make hay while the sun shines!))

Ha Haaaaaaa!!! Thanks for the chuckle! Seriously, I've had bowel movements smarter than some of these people.

eastie/SW - But there's the rub, isn't it:"...the MSM can make us believe that so much oil is soon coming from Iran." Coming when and, most importantly at what rate? If there is one area where we should slam every "expert" predicting X billions of bbls of producible oil is to force them to add the time line that matches those big "proven reserves". Take the extreme example of the many billions of POTENTIAL bbls of oil we might get from the kerogen-rich oil shales. Don't get sucked into any tech arguments about how it might be recovered or at what costs. Just simply require them to state approximately when and, most importantly, at what rate that oil will be generated. That stops them cold in their tracks: they can't even offer that anyone is making any serious effort to produce a single commercial bbl today let alone billions of bbls some unspecified time down the road.

Bottom line: the heart of the discussion is PEAK Oil RATE and not PEAK OIL RESERVES. As the price of oil has increased many previously non-commercial reserves can now be recovered and that does add to our proven reserve base. But we have to stop letting them equate the amount of reserves left to recover with the rate at which they will be recovered. Estimating recoverable reserves is a complex and tedious effort and full of uncertainties and estimations. I know: I've done it for 36 years and have argued from both sides of that very biased fence. OTOH reliably predicting future flow rates of a well, field, or trend isn't nearly as difficult. Which is why the cornucopians love to toss out reserve numbers but duck and run when you try to pin them down on time lines and production rates?

Great point, and while we grapple with PEAK OIL RATE, depletion like rust never sleeps….

Mark - Yep...and why I haven't been sleeping more than 4 or 5 hours a night. LOL. With the low NG price it's becoming very difficult to find conventional NG prospects to drill. And even with $100 oil it has been very difficult to find enough conventional oil prospects to drill for a long time. And since my company isn't public we don't have stock to hype. Thus the economics of the unconventional shale plays can't justify our chasing them: my owner could invest his capex in less risky efforts that require less overhead then me and my band of brothers cost.

Not asking anyone to shed a tear for us. But I don't think most folks can believe the general concern me and my cohorts have for our future. Doesn't matter if energy costs continue to climb and what a company's profit margin may be. . We get paid to drill wells. The fewer wells left to drill the fewer of us the oil patch needs.

You will end up in service and work-overs. That should take you well past retirement.


Rock, I appreciate the information and hope things fall your way until retirement. I will never meet you in all probability, so I will take the time to thank you for all that I have learned from you over the years here at TOD. Things about the energy business that I have learned from your posts helped me make decisions that saved some friends and I money that we did not have to lose! Also your information, along with some of the TOD brain trust, has spurred me to prepare for a lower energy future, and POSSIBLE economic collapse. So thanks again, I wish you luck in the future, I think we will all need some!

P.S. I think you should not completely ignore your doomer moods, they may be on to something! There is some cheap remote land left in Texas I hear….

Mark - You're most welcome. This was not a good morning to give up my doomer side: last night a well I just put on production last Friday was hit by lightning and suffered some wind damage. Not a good start to the day. LOL But fortunately it didn't do much damage and we got it back on production an hour ago.

There may be fewer wells left to drill (of course each one drilled is one fewer left), but I fully expect the number to grow as the end comes closer.

Drilling for low-producing wells (our stripper model in the US) is not yet cost-effective over most of the world, but surely it will eventually be.

Oddly, the Macondo well may be one proximate cause of low gas prices. When some multi-market companies were blocked from spending dollars in the deepwater gulf, they bulked up on-shore. A few billion dollars drills a lot of shale wells.....

Amen. And the same with Orchison defending Kohler, above. In both cases we are seeing either confusion or deliberate obfuscation between 'shale oil' and 'oil shale'. As if we could wave a magic wand and $25/bbl oil will ooze from the kerogen.

It is akin to saying that peak oil is falsified by the well-established vast quantities of methane on the moons of Saturn. I'll bet it's even liquids rich!

Wyoming isn't producing all that oil (Green River shale) for a good reason: there's no economical way to do it.

Congressional Republicans have proposed funding a significant share of federal transportation spending out of revenues from commercial oil shale production on federal lands, starting almost immediately. OTOH, around the end of last month Chevron gave up its lease on federal oil shale lands in order to pursue "other priorities". Apparently Chevron didn't get the memo... :^)

I worked at the Chevron Richmond, CA refinery from 2003-2005. One of the buildings adjacent to the Energy Technology Co. offices was a tall, somewhat unusual looking lab building that was used for materials storage. I asked what this building had originally been designed for and was told it was purpose-built in the late 70s/early 80s for oil shale processing research. Guess that didn't pan out.

Youngquist has discussed the repeated oil shale failures.
From www.hubbertpeak.com
"Shale oil. Production of oil from oil shale has been attempted at various times for nearly 100 years. So far, no venture has proved successful on a significantly large scale (Youngquist, 1998b). One problem is that there is no oil in oil shale. It is a material called kerogen. The shale has to be mined, transported, heated to about 4500C (8500F), and have hydrogen added to the product to make it flow. The shale pops like popcorn when heated so the resulting volume of shale after the kerogen is taken out is larger than when it was first mined. The waste disposal problem is large. Net energy recovery is low at best. It also takes several barrels of water to produce one barrel of oil. The largest shale oil deposits in the world are in the Colorado Plateau, a markedly water poor region. So far shale oil is, as the saying goes: "The fuel of the future and always will be." Fleay (1995) states: "Shale oil is like a mirage that retreats as it is approached." Shale oil will not replace oil."
See also http://hubbert.mines.edu and GeoDestinies 1st Ed. To the best of my knowledge the 2nd Ed. has not been published.

There was a frenzy of activity around Green River/Rocky Springs WY in the 70's. Nothing came of it. ISTM that there was some talk of "cooking it in the ground," until someone figured out what was required, and the consequences.

IMO there will never be a price where oil shale is viable.


The Latvians have been burning oil shale in power plants for a very long time. It seems that a Lativan company is setting up a pilot plant to turn oil shale in Utah into oil. This should be interesting to follow. They say they can get 2.1 bbls of oil from 3.1 tons of shale.


I read earlier that they burn "raw" oil shale in power plants in Lativa. Very dirty and very low energy density.

I'm wondering how burning raw oil shale (keragen) in power plants qualifies them to turn oil shale into oil, as it is said, economically. Or, as I would put it, with a meaningful net energy return, or EROEI.

From that link:

Its business areas are oil shale mining, oil shale based electricity and heat generation, shale oil production, electricity distribution, and selling electricity and other products to retail customers.

As you say, this should be interesting to follow...

it's estonia, not latvia

My mistake. I found them first operating at a Latvian plant.

I read earlier that they burn "raw" oil shale in power plants in Lativa. Very dirty and very low energy density.

Yes. Think "really crappy coal" when used that way: high ash content, lots of contaminants, low energy content. Makes lignite look good.

Long before I became PO aware I already labeled that fuel the most dirty fuel in the world. I livein Sweden so I am not terribly far away from it.

The point of rising oil prices and pain threshold has been discussed endlessly here on TOD. So I thought I'd put forth some of my recent interesting observations. Esp in light of the charts on ANE minus chindia imports.

In India Gasoline is sold at a much higher price than diesel. The reason is mostly political, diesel is heavily subsidized while gasoline is heavily taxed. The logic being that diesel is used in public transport and by farmers (to run diesel generators/pumps) while gasoline is used by the 'affluent' middle class. Essentially gasoline is being used to subsidize diesel. Gasoline prices vary in India depending on state taxes, the city I live in has one of the highest price anywhere in India, I currently pay the equivalent of $5.67/US gallon to fill my tank while diesel retails at approx $3.62/US gallon.

What's interesting is that with the recent price hikes, gasoline car sales have essentially stopped. The latest figure that came out was that for every five cars sold here four are diesel, and this shift is pretty new because till recently petrol cars outsold diesel cars since there is about a $3000-4000 difference between the engines, something which is big money here. So I guess the current price of petrol here is a sort of pain threshold for petrol car users. Of course the threshold would be higher if people didn't have the option of subsidized diesel, but this is a good enough indicative number. Yesterday I read a report that seconds petrol car prices have dropped by as much as 30-40% from their previous values.

The threshold for two-wheeler users is higher given the fact that two wheeler sales are still going strong. But even they have started complaining recently about the high price of gasoline. It's difficult to arrive at numbers but I'd say that you can't go beyond $150-160/barrel without seriously destroying demand (at least from India).
Westexas can probably make remove that India word from Chindia going forward. :-)

Very interesting. Has the government ever made any effort to try and capture the 'lost' revenue from the fuel going into diesel cars on the roadways?

There was a talk about taxing diesel cars to replace this loss but automotive industry lobbyists have managed to stall that for now, but I am sure the idea will come back in one form or the other as people will keep shifting from petrol to diesel.

You are good in India :)

Currently we pay the equivalent of $9.66/US gallon for gasoline and $8.40/US gallon for diesel in Turkey.

Gasoline: TL 4.62 /litre
Diesel: TL 4.02 /litre

To see actual fuel prices in Turkey:

In page, choose a province in dropbox (il adi) on up-right corner (e.g Istanbul)
Click "Bul" button.

Prices are TL/litre

1 gallon = 3,785 litre
US $1 = TL 1.81 (Turkish Liras )

Do your math.

Apparently, yesterday was the day that Iran officially started selling oil in currencies other than USD (mentioned in the article in the link below). The cut-off from the SWIFT system a few days ago was obviously not an arbitrary date....

"...in Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad helped establish the Iranian oil bourse in February of 2008 and announced that Iran would start trading their oil in currencies other than the US dollar as of March 20, 2012."

Link: http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2012-12-21/are-middle-east-african-...

As an aside, I just realised the reason for all this recent news about Kony and the LRA in northern Uganda.... take a look at the map in the link and consider the juxtaposition of southern Sudan and northern Uganda, and then bear in mind that northern Sudan (with Chinese support) is the only current export route for southern Sudanese oil.... as the crow flies (and avoiding the mess that is Somalia) the nearest other route to a seaport is via Uganda....

No, You're mistaken. The LRA have been stealing from clotheslines which represents a clear and present danger to clotheslines everywhere. An open-ended military occupation of Uganda is obviously a suitably measured response. Celebrities were upset, something had to be done.

But even after adjusting for the variations in things like income and education, counties with active coal mines came out far worst in many measures of health. These include the problems you'd expect from mining, such as cardiopulmonary and respiratory issues, black lung, hypertension, and kidney disease. But they also include things like a 25 percent increase in birth defects in mining counties.

And that's just from living near a coal mine.


Meanwhile, we continue to have wildly bizarre weather for March across much of the country:


Northern Gardeners Worried About Radical Warming

Candyce in Dearborn, Michigan “hardy weeds have survived with gusto”, and Mike in Northern Ohio sees cherry trees flowering, and writes, “now, we all have to keep our fingers crossed. These plants are leafing out way too soon.”

“Northern Gardener” sums up with this question: “How do you garden in weather that no one has seen before?”


Broken Record of Record-Breaking Heat

In fact, the broad geographic scope of this heat event, along with the margins by which records are being broken, the time of year this is occurring, and the duration of the event are all indications that this may be an unprecedented event since modern U.S. weather records began in the late 19th century...

According to the CapitalClimate blog, so far this month warm weather records have been outpacing cold records by a lopsided ratio of 19-to-1. ...

In a rare feat, the overnight low temperature in Rochester, Minn. on March 18 was 62°F, beating the record high for the date, which was 60°F.

What are things like in your neck of the woods?

March 2102 Weather Anomalies
“Yesterday, the analysis showed that Michigan experienced temperatures that were 4 - 5 climatological anomalies warmer than average (4-sigma to 5-sigma), the type of extreme that occurs between once every 43 years and once every 4779 years.”
Dr. Jeff Masters, March 21, 2012
Weather Underground

Amazing that anyone could even question AGW after reviewing Dr. Masters post today. Leanan could you link to the entire article. It is a must read for anyone concerned about climate change.

How rare is this Summer in March heat event?

One measure of how record-breaking this "Summer in March" heat wave has been is the impact it had on NOAA's National Climatic Data Center web site. The extremes section of the their web site has been down since last Friday, since their software has been unable to handle both the huge number of records being set and the huge demand from people wanting to see these records. The web site came back on-line this morning with software re-engineered to handle the load, but only with data through Sunday.

Even two of our bitches female dogs came into heat about 8 weeks early this year.

Don't worry about all those high temperatures. Dr. Masters says it's just a blocking event, a loop in the jet stream or a cut off low over Texas. No mention of Global Warming or the prospect of increased tropic-to-pole warm air flows and more cold air returning to complete the loop. The Arctic sea-ice is at the yearly maximum these days, so the delta T is greatest, driving the circulation engine at full throttle. Dr. Masters isn't one to jump to some wild eyed conclusion blaming one "event" on AGW. Still, the statistics for the past week look rather ominous. When that front eventually meanders to our side of the US, things may get even more interesting.

Oh, well, the male dogs in your neighborhood will be coming around to visit, seeking instant gratification. Time to clean the last of the leaves out of the drains before the deluge arrives...

E. Swanson

Ummmm, these things are not incompatible with GW. In fact, they are completely consistent with it.

As the Arctic warms faster than the rest of the globe, the jet stream gets larger and more irregular loops that stay in place longer than they otherwise would.

A number of "events" have been attributed to GW--the Russian heat wave a couple years back and the killer European heatwave of 2003. This one is as extreme for this time of year and as long lasting as those.

It is no surprise that people aren't talking about GW in this context. No matter how extreme things get, it seems no completely verboten to breath a word about GW in the main stream media.

Indeed, and the jet stream linkage is why the recent European cold snap that was so devastating was *also* a global warming event.

I read the term "global" as "everywhere". If it gets colder some places, it is not warming everywhere. Wich is why I prefer the term climate change.

"Global Warming" means the globe is warming.

Since even on a daily basis localities cool down it obviously doesn't mean that every locale will always experience the warming of the globe as a local increase in air temperature.

[Edit:]I'm in Minnesota, Europe's cold snap, while extreme for the areas it hit, was the weather we were expecting and prepared for at the time.

We were busy getting one of the 10 warmest winters on record already.

Black_Dog wrote:

Dr. Masters says it's just a blocking event, a loop in the jet stream or a cut off low over Texas. No mention of Global Warming...

From Masters' article, near the end, "It is highly unlikely the warmth of the current "Summer in March" heat wave could have occurred unless the climate was warming."

Yes, I missed that, but I also missed the previous sentence:

However, keep in mind that had we used a century-long climatology instead of using the past 30 years, yesterday's warmth would have been classified as much more extreme, since the climate has warmed considerably in the past 30 years.

There's the bottom line, if you will. His analysis used only the past 30 years of data from the re-analysis product. The past 30 years has included many other instances of record high temperatures, which may have pushed the data set toward higher averages. For example, 1998 was a rather warm year in the global averaged data, which also happened to be at the beginning of the last solar cycle. Perhaps, we are in "catch up" mode, as the long delayed start of the present solar cycle adds to the warming accumulated since 1998...

E. Swanson

And now Trenberth:

"when all the evidence is in we will find that the event likely would not have occurred without global warming, the odds will be so low"


I think we are beginning to see that, when one recklessly upsets the balance of a finely tuned machine, there can be feedback loops that make the initial wobble much worse.



After checking Masters this am, my thoughts went to Lake Michigan, and it's surface summer time water temps in March. (see the graph at Underground) Hard to say how subsequent mixing will affect this, but it seems spawning activities will be affected, esp if this should persist. Many of the spiny-rayed fishes of the Lakes are near shore spawners, with rather narrow windows, of 6-10 days for small mouth bass and yellow perch at 2 weeks, for 2 important spp. Both spp normally spawn in late may-early June. Hopefully, nothing will come of my speculations...

What are things like in your neck of the woods?

Colorado Front Range checking in. Compared to the eastern U.S., it has been a pretty prosaic winter, but unusual in some respects. Mountains got virtually no snow through January, and aside from a couple of strong storms subsequent, it was a very disappointing year for ski areas.

Winter temps were a bit cooler than average, and there was more cloud cover than we are used to. The result being the snow in the Front Range accumulated and tended to stick around. We didn't get more snow but it persisted. Our winter was more like Minneapolis than Minneapolis got, in other words.

The Eastern plains were dry similar to the mountains, and with March temps warming up (again, nothing like the Midwest and East) fire danger is a concern out there.

Two points to offer from southern Wisconsin:

- We've seen record highs at the Madison weather station for eight of the past eleven days. Most of these new records have been at or slightly above 80 degrees. Historically, prior to this year, we've only had 80-plus temps ~three times - ever - in March. In the last week and a half, we've had something like a half-dozen such days. The weather is just right - for June or July, that is.

- This past weekend, I was reviewing the results of a recent prescribed burn on a steep slope of remnant prairie. The burn had occurred 6 days prior, and the slope was almost entirely black/bare with the exception of a few green shoots of grass emerging. However, it was covered with honeybees, apparently searching for something - anything - in bloom. Needless to say, they weren't finding it on that slope, and from what I was able to observe their prospects were no better elsewhere. Normally, such high temperatures would be a sure clue that flowers would be available. But not this year - the warmup was so fast and abrupt that the insects appear to be out of phase with the plants. I wonder how many of those bees will starve before the plants catch up and the flowers start emerging in the coming days.

Our woods here on the Oregon coast saw a very mild January and what so far looks to be a repeat of last year's Winter-like Spring with very low snow levels and needed heavy snowfall in the Cascades. The reporting station at Mt Hood's Timberline Lodge says 275" of snow, which means we're catching up with last years totals rather quickly. Unlike the last big storm about 10 days ago where we got about 5" of snow accumulation here at sealevel, the upperlevel temp is a tad too warm for it to snow on us, although the air temp at 35-36 is about the same, so we've had about an inch of rain over the past 24 hours. The NWS's longterm says we're supposed to see a return to more normal temps and less precip, but they don't say how long that might last.

The southern Willamette Valley received an unusual late-March snowstorm today, with 6" (15 cm) of accumulation officially at Eugene. Reports of at least 1-3" (3-8 cm) in Corvallis and the South Salem Hills. A baroclinic band, the remnant front of a deep 96 kPa low that passed over Haida Gwaii, with cold and dry air to the north of the boundary, brought the wintery precipitation. Steady precipitation, as it fell through the cold and dry air, likely contributed to evaporational cooling that pushed temperatures toward freezing.

The pattern of cool to cold weather in western North America, and warm weather in the east is not an atypical state, one that may indeed flip-flop at some point. Our spring may be a cool one currently, but I would not be surprised to see this situation change at some point, with the eastern heat giving way to more typical temperatures and the Northwest seeing warmer conditions. Last year had an exceptionally cool spring and summer--the probability of a repeat is rather low.


Edit: I see that the snow has made it into the Portland, OR, area now, with a decent fall in places like Aurora and Hillsboro. Looks like a few inches in some locations. Reports of 5-7.5" (13-19 cm) widespread in the South Willamette Valley--this magnitude is historic for the region. A March to remember in Western Cascadia.

I bet Eugene was a mess! Folks there will likely get more, so the storm total will be even more impressive. Snow day for schools I imagine.

Well, I hope it changes soon. 2 degrees this morn in Sayward after a sprinkle of rain and snow. I have commuted in snow 7/10 days these past two weeks and the wind is cold cold cold. March is usually a windy month with fast moving cold fronts and quick switching westerlies. These cold lows this winter are unrelenting and I won't even go into the 970 I measured at my house when the power went out for 4 days. This whole VI winter is more like living in Rupert than what I have known for the last 45 years.

supposed to be sunny this weekend, though. hmmm, maybe I won't have to fill the woodbox tomorrow.


5 years ago, here in the Southeast (not sure how widespread, I was in central NC at the time) we had such a warm March that I postulated March and April might effectively flip. April was just a tad on the cool side, so that didn't happen, but it was close. The mean temp. for April was just 4 degrees warmer than for March, whereas normally it is about 12 degrees warmer. Even such a near flip flop wreaked havoc with such things as apple blossoms, for example. This year, as the pattern shifts and temps return even to near normal, it seems more than possible that we will have such a monthly flip across much of the East, or especially the Upper Midwest. The birds, bees and plants will be much confused...

Well, here in Knoxville, the dogwoods have now opened their blossoms. Also azaleas. This is about a month early. The Dogwood Arts Festival is scheduled for April 14 - 30, and those people KNOW that the dogwoods will bloom sometime during that spread. This year they blossoms are a month early. The Arts will miss the Dogwoods this year, and the Planner People will be sad.

I was in the line to get my license plate sticker the other day and a middle-aged lady with bangles, sun wrinkles, and bleached hair, carrying her motorcycle helmet, said "This is really weird!" Just an example of how people who are not usually "spooked" are thinking this year. The humans are confused. I hear this all around me. Maybe they will start "paying attention" and stop saying that it's all just a fraud perpetrated by "libruls."

If I think about it much, the Ride of the Valkyries plays in my head.

Women of death and war:

gathering the bodies
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aKAH_t0aXA (this is a clip of a great production)
Those regressive crazies better be careful how they treat the women...

And truly, it is not nice to fool Mother Nature.

Ohmy, that clip has the goosebumps running up and down my arms and legs, great music for fireworks too. Here the fur heads have started moults, tufts of fur all over the place and we have had the first attack of pollia, the earliest I can remember. After last summer I wondered what the new year would bring and it brought weird. Now I am wondering what this summer will throw at us.


The general pattern of a warmer east than west this time of year may not be atypical, but the extremity and persistence of this one is.


Look at the third map and commentary.

Michigan temperatures are five standard deviations out from normal.

This level of anomaly is only expected once in about 5000 years.

I call that pretty darn atypical.

The large number of 3-5 sigma events that were shown over such a large area for an extended period of time is what amazes me. Of course you realize if these same extreme temperatures are not reached again next year the denialists, and their media machine, will tell us that the earth is cooling.

I have a question for those with more climatological knowledge than I do. Does the lack of snow cover across the northern states and the reduction of sea ice on the Great Lakes, at this time, have any significant albedo effect??

Snow and ice cover (as well as soil moisture) can have a significant impact on weather at the mesoscale and synoptic level.

Lack of snow cover likely influenced the severity (measured from norms) of the recent heat wave, particularly in the upper midwest where there would normally have been a moderating effect with snowcover - somewhere.

Throw in some warmer than normal, ice-free lakes...

And why was it so warm in winter? And why have lakes such as the Great Lakes have 70% less ice than they did a few decades ago?

The proximate causes are rarely the only causes.

Good point!

Warming climate is bad news for Canadian outdoor skating

The researchers found that many locations in Canada have seen a statistically significant decrease in the number of viable ice-flooding days, especially in south-west Canada. "There has been a 20% decrease in the number of viable ice-flooding days over the last 55 years in some areas of Canada," Matthews told environmentalresearchweb. "But in the east of Canada, the change has been negligible. This reflects the spatial patterns of warming across the country."

People in the high-rises on the lakefront are complaining they can't put their air-conditioning on yet.

Many older buildings have one ducting system for both heating and cooling, operated centrally. Generally, this time of year, the heating systems are coming offline and the cooling systems undergoing maintenance, to be ready for mid-May.

People are actually opening their windows to let fresh air in. What a concept !

Having lived in a high-rise on the lakefront, though, I can say it is horribly noisy with the windows open - the 24x7 drone of the traffic on the Drive, sirens etc. Hard to sleep...and it can get really windy up there, too...

Nova Scotia South: Summery for the past two or three days. Got a soaker yesterday from mountain biking through a (flash?) river that went over an unpaved road. The water was warm too.

Snow level is at 2000' this evening, and 12" of snow reported on the ground just north of Moscow, ID.

Wood stove has a nice fire going. At 7:20 PM the outside temperature is 38 F.

Is that pretty normal for this time of year in those parts?

Not PV but live in the same neck of the woods. (Elk, Wa 1900 ft)

This heavy early spring snow seems to be a more recurrent feature. (as I look out currently we are being blanketed in the stuff again ,understand it's a bit general for the PNW today)

We usually get some in March and perhaps a skiff in April but..anecdotally,
a new immigrant and fellow cyclist from Seattle kept asking last year, "Is this the last snow storm?" We told him 'yes' (about five times) and were prone to avoid him a bit untill it finally stopped.

Agree with PV about the windiness and I would wonder if there is evidence of an increase over time.

"Is this the last snow storm?" We told him 'yes' (about five times)

Characterizes US PacNW weather (this spring and last) perfectly.

Meanwhile, here in Central New Hampshire, we're on our 5th straight day in the 80's (86 yesterday!). The lilacs are leafing out, maples/elms/aspens breaking bud, daylilies and daffodils coming up, and the garlic is coming up in my garden! The grass is turning green, the turkeys are mating, several bird species are here a couple of weeks early, including one I've never seen here in 20 years. I've already had to pull ticks off me and my dogs.

For reference - we usually have at least a foot of snow, more likely 2 feet, on the ground at this time. We get a day in the 50's and everyone would get excited. The garlic usually comes up mid-April. I am really worried about what's going to happen when it turns cold again. And yet, though it's supposed to get cooler starting tomorrow, there are no hard freezes in the forecast for the next week. Hopefully things will slow down, and the apples and peaches won't flower before the bees are out...

[Edit: I just read that we have a Fire Danger Watch through tomorrow evening! In March! A Fire Danger Watch...]

Our forecast high has been revised upward again, this time to 28°C. We're currently at 27°C so I fully expect we'll hit that if not surpass it. It's rare for us to see anything in this range even in July or August, and certainly not March (our highest recorded temperature for this date was 10.5°C back in 1979).


The million dollar question is whether or not these blocking events are going to become much more common. Almost everyone here in Eastern NA is happy with the unseasonably warm weather we experiencing right now. If the same thing happened in the summer months resulting in an extended stretch of extremely hot, uncomfortable 30 to 40 degree weather, I don't think people would be so happy about it. There would also be the potential for a lot of crop damage over a large area and other undesirable side effects at that time of year. Of course we were warned that climate change would manifest itself in the form of more extreme weather events as opposed to a uniform increase in temperature. This is an example of extreme weather that is hitting pretty close to home!

Yike! You are going to be hotter than us down in tropical Mexico. Though to be fair the sea has a cooling effect, here, at the moment.


Here in Chicago there's quite a bit of concern about a late frost taking out fruit set on fruiting trees.

My fruit trees, apricot, nectarine, peach, have all finished blooming already. The cherry is in full bloom. The apples haven't quite opened yet, but will in a day or so. The black and red currants have flowers. Plenty of pollinators have been out, including mason bees, wasps, bumble bees and butterflies. My honeybees have been out foraging since January. Of course, only bringing pollen in for about 3 weeks.

We have storms coming in from the south this afternoon - it's darkening as I write - usually our rain pattern is west-east. The ten-day forecast has us going back down from mid-80's to the 50's day and 40's night - more usual for this time of year.

I did hear someone on a local radio show say that he thought we would not see another hard freeze this year, due to the consistency of the blocking pattern on the jetstream. We'll see if he's right.

Edit : Weather Underground mentions the possibility of pea-sized hail where the storms are strongest.

Update, weather people were wrong, snow level was 1000' (or lower). Woke up a to nice white blanket this morning.

Weather forecast is for temperatures to stagger up to normal this weekend, then return to cool and wet next week.

How long have you lived in that area? Have you noticed the trend this study shows that spring is coming 4-5 days earlier there on average than it did a few decades ago?



FARSIDE CME: A coronal mass ejection (CME) blasted away from the farside of the sun on March 21st at 0740 UT. SOHO photographed the cloud expanding at 1550 km/s (3.5 million mph). The source of the CME is probably old sunspot AR1429, still active as it transits the farside.

Just as well that blast occurred on the far side of the sun.

I'm trying to figure out why we still have an electron storm which began on March 10.


Space Weather Message Code: ALTEF3
Serial Number: 1881
Issue Time: 2012 Mar 21 0506 UTC

CONTINUED ALERT: Electron 2MeV Integral Flux exceeded 1000pfu
Continuation of Serial Number: 1880
Begin Time: 2012 Mar 10 0410 UTC
Yesterday Maximum 2MeV Flux: 22236 pfu
Potential Impacts: Satellite systems may experience significant charging resulting in increased risk to satellite systems.

The NASA Real-Time Global Ionospheric Total Electron Content (updated every 5 minutes!) is currently offline.

In "Rising Gas Prices Not as Bad as You Think," we read about the average American household income of more than $62,000.

I wonder what America the author lives in. Reality looks to me like less than $50,000 (except Asian American household income of about $64,000)


This looks like an effort to convince people that we are really doing well, "everyone" is making lots of money, and those gas prices? Well!

Don't Worry. Be happy.


((and here I said no more rants today... I should be running for office!))

I made a similar comment based on your/our observation at another forum. I know a lot of households here in Oregon that would be very pleased to earn half that figure.

This average quoted is probably the mean. Its the median number that is more interesting, the income that half the people have more and half less. The mean in the USA is highly distorted by the very, very rich.

On a similar note there was an article in the local paper citing that the California State Univ. presidents got a 10% pay increase this year. with benefits some of the presidents will be earning in excess of $400k. This in a school system that is being systimatically dismantled because of a lack of funds. I think our entire society is gong crazy. People are starving, the future is being forfitted and "executives" are raking in the dough. Madness.

It's the state's bonus for supressing student protests--Blood Money.

"I think our entire society is gong crazy. People are starving, the future is being forfeited and "executives" are raking in the dough. Madness."

Just a shift in business. Since our work is not needed and our value is largely in the land we stand on, they are treating us like Somalia or Nigeria now. Nothing personal. When people will toil just to live within the relative safety of corporate factory barracks housing with its tea and biscuit rewards, perhaps they will find something more for us to do.

As someone said a while ago now--the market finds a price for everything, and it has priced most of us at zero.

It may the the difference between average, and median. Normally the later is used. But an dishonest journo, can use average, which is higher.

“The Spanish rebellion has begun, sooner and more dramatically than I expected.
As many readers will already have seen, Premier Mariano Rajoy has refused point blank to comply with the austerity demands of the European Commission and the European Council (hijacked by Merkozy)”.

From the U.K. Telegraph


This could get interesting….

P.I.I.G.S. in Space! Very interesting.


From the article:-

"Spain and other nations in the EU are sick and tired of Chancellor Merkel’s meddling and Germany’s usurpation – with the help of Sarkozy’s France and their pretended "executive presidency" that does not in fact exist in EU treaties."


Also, and perhaps more important:

There comes a point when a democracy can no longer sacrifice its citizens to please reactionary ideologues determined to impose 1930s scorched-earth policies. Ya basta.

Except that the Austrian/Fresh Water Economists do not recognize any such limit! Shock and Awe!


If the revolutionaries dump enough salt into that fresh-water, it will become salt water. Go revolutionaies!

From CNBC: Oil Prices at $200 a Barrel? Some Think It's Coming

And they comment on a possible release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve:

Gas prices were roughly $3.60 when the drawdown occurred, (SPR) and were depressed for only a few days before climbing back over $3.70 a month later. Because of that, many traders tend to dismiss the recent chatter in Washington about releasing more oil from the SPR as bad politics.

“The seaborne oil market is extremely tight,” says one bullish hedgie. “As much as the politicians love blaming speculators, if the market was up on speculation and not fundaments, the physical market would be trading at a discount.”

Ron P.

Posted on CNN a short while ago: Saudi Arabia can't save us from high oil prices

Ron, I know you've commented quite often here about the realities behind longs and shorts in the markets, and I'd be interested in your take on what's said, or claimed, in this article. Is there anything to this author's comments in your opinion?

Petro, thanks for the link. The article is total poppycock. As the trader listed in my post stated: “As much as the politicians love blaming speculators, if the market was up on speculation and not fundaments, the physical market would be trading at a discount.” These people who blame speculators don't seem to realize that there is a physical market that is independent of the futures market. If the price is bid up too high in the futures market then then other speculators, realizing that the futures were higher than the physical, would go short and knock the futures back down while making a lot of money in the meantime.

But I looked up that comment that was supposed to be made by Goldman Sachs and found this at: Speculators are driving up gas prices.

In a report last year, Goldman Sachs said that when speculators open contracts worth one million barrels of oil, the price of a barrel rises by 10 cents across the whole market.

That statement does not make any sense. Speculators are never net long. There are always just about as many speculators short as they are long. First they claimed that hedge fund managers, being net long, drove up prices. Now they are saying that when speculators are net long that causes prices to go up. But there always must be exactly the same number of longs as there shorts! Both speculators and hedge funds go both long and short. They, combined, are never net long or net short, they are always net neutral. And hedge fund managers, who use computer generated algorithms, go short just as often as they go long, just like speculators.

True hedgers, who also go long and short depending on whether they are producers or consumers, are such a tiny minority of futures traders that they really don't make any difference.

Blaming speculators for high prices is an absolute crock. It is just another way to deny that peak oil and particularly peak net oil exports, which happened in 2005, is the real culprit.

This is very important: The price of oil is always priced as high as the market will bear. If the price is too high then sellers will be left with a glut, that is oil they cannot sell at such a high price. If that happens then they will discount their oil until they can sell it regardless of what the futures are going for. If that happens then the futures traders, realizing they have bid the price up too high, will rush to dump their longs, pushing the futures price right back down.

Ron P.

Ron, I think that you put this well, and the quote about futures vs. spot prices is particularly apt. The CNN Money author is citing filings by hedge funds that disclose their net positions in commodities, among other things. Analysts have latched on to the net long/short disclosure as a measure of where these funds expect prices to go.

But if you flipped the Goldman Sachs statement around, you immediately see how absurd it is: "for every 1000 contracts strategic and institutional investors (i.e. hedge fund counterparties) net short the market, the futures price rises by 10 cents."

IMHO, the Goldman Sachs observation confuses chicken with egg. The hedge fund segment, observing rising prices, tends to bet on upward price momentum, leaving them as a group with a net long position.

Steve, I once sold stocks and commodities. I was constantly getting news bulletins from fund managers advertising their fund. But first let me explain exactly what a "Hedge Fund Manager" really is. It is someone who gets people to believe that he can make them a lot of money, then they invest that money in stocks or commodities in hopes of making their clients a lot of money, for a cut of the profits of course.

The more conservative funds invested in equities but the more speculative funds invested in commodities almost exclusively. They hired computer programmers to figure out which program, if used in the past, would have made them a fortune. "Back Testing" was the buzzword they used. Then they would solicit funds from ordinary investors who knew absolutely nothing about the commodities market, and suggest, but never promise, that they could generate huge profits on their investment.

There was always an exit point. If the fund dropped 50%, or some such figure, then the fund would be closed and the investors were returned what was left of their investment. Most funds did exactly that and closed within a few months. But a few made their investors a lot of money before they eventually hit a losing streak and then also closed.

But the computer algorithms would generate both buy and sell signals. True, at some times, because the computer programs are all similar, most funds would be net long. But just as often, at other times, most funds would be net short. And of course speculators always balanced the other side of the long or short contracts.

My point is, funds and speculators both go long every bit as often as they go short. To say that funds are usually long is just not correct. They are short every bit as often as they are long.

There is one caveat to this whole argument, Exchange Traded Funds. A few years ago the Oil ETF came into existence. There are long ETFs that are always long, and short ETFs are always short. And long ETF likely outnumber the short ETFs in the oil market. But ETF are played by people who know little or nothing about the commodity they are trading. If there are more ETFs long than short then that only means that the dummies are betting long. And of course speculators, on the short side, would balance the scales. So it could be said that ETFs are usually net long. But speculators would balance the scales on the short side.

Ron P.

It seems to me that they are talking about speculators trying to "corner the market" in the way the Hunt Brothers attempted with silver in the mid-80s. We all know how successful that was for the Hunts! Of course, Hunts were trying to capture all of the physical silver. Futures work a bit differently than that; they are bets on direction. I fail to see how someone could influence price much by betting it would go up (or down). And, yes, for every buy there is a sell... what happens is that a speculator bets the price will change. Let's say the bet is it will go up. The speculator then purchases a contract at today's price. Later, he must either cover or sell when the speculation date is reached. If the price goes down, the person who sold him his future contract makes money and he loses.

Of course, to be remembered, the brokerage always makes a fee, and they don't care who wins and who loses. That is why Golden Sacks and the bunch get paid big bonuses. They skim off the top. [Not sure that G.S. is a broker of futures - they probably are, but I don't know that. Someone is, though. Maybe Duke Brothers?]

BTW, if a person buys a futures contract to sell oil at $125/bbl on June 1, and June 1 comes, they must buy enough oil to cover the contract and make delivery. That is why near the sales dates, futures get a bit wild! In stocks these are called puts and calls. The market is made by date; players bid on the date. Last week, for instance, 2014 oil was about $98/bbl. If you bought a contract, you would be required to deliver at that price. Whew! That's a gamble! Doubt I would buy any of those contracts. But it makes the point that speculators also keep the price low.

Hope I did more than just confuse.


Good post Zap and you got most of it right. But...

In stocks these are called puts and calls.

No, that is not quite right. Futures and options are both derivatives but that is where the similarity ends. You can buy or sell options, puts or calls, on futures just as you can on stocks.

Oh, and the futures contract does not expire on the first day of the month. They expire on the third business day prior to the twenty-fifth calendar day of the month preceding the delivery month.

And no one is ever required to make or take delivery. The option is always there to settle in cash even if you do let your contract expire before closing it out. That actually happens more often than you would imagine. People get sick, or die, or sometimes just forget. But they, or their estate, can always settle in cash.

Ron P.

Thanks - tried to state in understandable English what are relatively complex transactions.

It is true, of course, that on expiry a futures contract is always a deliver or pay situation. That is why and how futures trades can destroy an investor. It is a very risky business, and ultimately does not cause price to rise or fall very much. It does help to moderate prices though, don't you agree?


These people who blame speculators don't seem to realize that there is a physical market that is independent of the futures market.

I think it's different than that Ron. I think the average person who blames speculators hasn't even considered what a futures market is. Thus articles can say whatever they want knowing most people will not put much thought into whether it even makes sense or not.

It's not even "the average person". Even prop traders will say stuff like "everybody is long crude" while they obviously should know better. And they say it because their 4 buddies at other trading desks have the same position on. People tend to extrapolate from extremely small and often irrelevant samples without giving it much thought.


It is true that "longs" always match "shorts" at a given clearing price (the "futures price"). However, suppose that the current futures-price per barrel is p (with respect to a particular closing time, say June 2012). If Goldman suddenly place a "long" order for 1 million barrels, then that creates additional demand, and the price could easily shift to p+10 before there are matching "short" orders to meet the demand.

Does the futures-price affect the actual price? Probably not much, for the reasons you discuss, or if it does, not for very long. The caveat is that the futures-price on an exchange can act as an "anchor" for contracts around delivery of actual physical oil (contract is for WTI + X dollars per barrel, or Brent Crude - Y dollars per barrel). So by shifting the anchor around a bit, there will be a temporary effect on prices of physical oil (that's until the X and Y values are re-adjusted of course).

But "blame the speculators" is the easy cry. There can't be a basic supply and demand problem, because we all know that supply is infinite, and increasing all the time, whereas our own demand is falling :-)

The connection between the (oil) futures markets and the physical markets is a tentative one. Only a very, very small fraction of futures contracts traded end up in physical transactions. In 2010 about 3,500 WTI contracts settled physically, so that is 3.5mm bbls in one year. No matter how you choose to look at that it is unlikely to be the dog that is wagging the tail. Add to that that lots of physical crudes do not have future contracts to go along with them.
However… there is a significant OTC market where energy is traded. From what I've learned over the years is that in US NG for example utilities buy and sell excess NG through swaps, not futures because they are customizable to specific requirements - for example, if a utility has contracted for too much gas on a certain day they can lay that off for that specific day rather than have to wait to the next settlement date. That is different from a futures contract where you only settle once a month. Also supposedly the liquidity tends to be much better in the swap market vs the futures markets.
In other words, although the mass media (and often people on TOD) tend to focus on futures markets as the speculative element in reality there is a good chance that the real speculation happens in the swap markets. ICE offers a mechanism to post swaps and collateralize them but not all swaps go onto ICE. And what goes on in say Minas swaps or other non-western grades is completely off (certainly mine) the radar screen. I'll poke around and see if I can get some more detail on that.

Commodities Modernization act


"Current estimates are that speculators, that is futures traders such as banks and hedge funds who have no intent of taking physical delivery but only of turning a paper profit, today control some 80 percent of the energy futures market, up from 30 percent a decade ago."
I've heard this 80% number before.

"The result of a permissive US Government regulation of oil markets has created the ideal conditions whereby a handful of strategic banks and financial institutions, interestingly the same ones dominating world trade in oil derivatives and the same ones who own the shares of the major oil trading exchange in London, ICE Futures, are able to manipulate huge short-term swings in the price we pay for oil or gasoline or countless other petroleum-based products."

"We are in the midst of one of those swings now, one made worse by the Israeli saber-rattling rhetoric over Iran’s nuclear program. ...the effect of the war rhetoric is to create the ideal backdrop for a massive speculative spike in oil. Some analysts speak of oil at $150 by summer."

Short term, like the run-up in 2008.


"In contrast to trades conducted on the NYMEX, traders on unregulated OTC electronic exchanges are not required to keep records or file Large Trader Reports with the CFTC, and these trades are exempt from routine CFTC oversight. In contrast to trades conducted on regulated futures exchanges, there is no limit on the number of contracts a speculator may hold on an unregulated OTC electronic exchange, no monitoring of trading by the exchange itself, and no reporting of the amount of outstanding contracts (open interest) at the end of each day.”

A timeline of futures deregulation:

"The Gramm amendment allows so-called “over-the-counter” energy derivatives not only to be traded outside of regulated exchanges, but for private unregulated exchanges to deal in these sorts of financial products. Thus, massive “dark” oil speculation markets are born, including Enron’s platform for trading energy futures, and the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) — an online speculation exchange founded by BP, Shell, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and other firms."

Another very good history:

PBS Frontline "The Warning"

I think one problem arising in the TOD discussions on speculation is that there has been a lot of recent changes to the game. It is no longer the old-school "most trusted futures market in the world". Another is that the whole commodity market/futures/OTC system is just a detail of one path within a much larger system.

From Business Insider:

CITI: The US Energy Industry Is Going To Grow So Fast, It Will Spark A New 'Industrial Revolution'

Oil and gas production in the United States and North America is going to skyrocket in the next 8 years due to strides in natural resource extraction, write Citi analysts in a report published yesterday. In fact, they went so far as to call North America "the new Middle East," at least in terms of oil production.

This—as well as a trend towards declining U.S. energy consumption—will completely transform both the domestic economy and the threats the U.S. will face in the future,

Indeed, Citi economists expect total liquids production to as much as double for the continent in the next decade, and predict that the U.S. could overtake both Russia and Saudi Arabia in oil production by 2020:

US crude oil production over the past two years increased at an average rate of about 0. 12 mbpd per year.

Combined net oil exports from the major net oil exporters in the Americas and the Caribbean fell from 6.2 mbpd in 2004 to 4.8 mbpd in 2010, a 23% decline in six years (BP, Total Petroleum Liquids), an average volumetric decline of about 0.23 mbpd per year.

Our study showed that Global Net Exports of oil (GNE) fell from 46 mbpd in 2005 to 43 mbpd in 2010, an average volumetric decline of about 0.6 mbpd per year.

And Available Net Exports (ANE, or GNE less Chindia's net imports) fell from 40 mbpd in 2005 to 35 mbpd in 2010, an average volumetric decline of about 1.0 mbpd per year. I estimate that this volumetric decline will increase to between 1.4 and 2.0 mbpd per year from 2010 to 2020.

Meanwhile, my latest version of the Titanic Metaphor:

Consider the first 15 minutes after the Titanic hit the iceberg versus the last 15 minutes before the ship sank. In the first 15 minutes, only a handful of people knew that ship would sink, but that did not mean that the ship was not sinking. In the last 15 minutes, it was readily apparent to everyone that the ship was sinking, but by then it was far too late to try to get to a lifeboat.

Let's assume that the water was flowing into the ship at a rate 10 times faster than the rate that water was being pumped out of the ship.

Should one focus on the water being pumped out (a slow increase in US crude oil production) or on the water flowing in (the decline in the volume of net exports available to importers other than China & India)?

Aye, Cap'n!! Okay, every able bodied soul must man the bilge pumps--Pronto!!!

Reading between the lines, CITI says:

Our lending window is open for business
If you have an energy project, come see us first

One of the comments following the Business Insider article:

My first thought if this is true is that we need to round up a lot of gov't officials and analysts and investigate them for fraud/treason. Less then 2 years ago both the US and British military released reports saying an oil shortage was on the way.

I've thought for a while that most people are going crazy, just at different rates. I'm beginning to think that the rate of increase is accelerating. In any case, I wonder if it might be a good idea to invest in vacuum cleaner companies. My reasoning: If Obama is reelected, I suspect that a sizable percentage of the AWM (Angry White Male) population will spontaneously combust, leaving large piles of ashes in their recliners.

Then hedge your bets (against spontaneous combustion) by investing in gun/ammo companies as the crazies restock their bullets. Perfect, assuming he is reelected.

In case the repubs win? Maybe - defense contractors, and short Trojan. :-)

My wife forced me to go, since in her judgement, I was a bit too feral for the forthcoming effete visitors to stomach, to get a haircut.

While she was getting snipped, I took a short wander around the little mall. There was that female haircut place, full of absolutely empty women’s fashion mags, and next to it a pet store, and then a couple of 3 sigma-mediocre restaurants, and then a place without clear identification, which, from its relatively prosperous appearance, might have been selling weed or fake auto registrations.

Then it was my turn in the chair, and the nice lady left me looking a bit more like Julius Caesar might have if he had got about twice as old as he did.

Conclusion so far. Absolutely none of any of what I had seen or experienced could be remotely classified in the “needs” category, but every bit of it was most conspicuously wasting energy in great big glowing gobs.

Grow the economy? For that? Heaven forfend!

Then we went to the hardware store so I could get a pulley to hold the counter-weight for the solar water pump I had floated down in the well on its own little life raft.

Some of the stuff in the hardware might have been classified as “needs” by people whose junk pile was insufficiently variegated.

But by far the biggest category on display was lawn-related--mowers, bragging about how big their engines were, and deadly poisons for the dandelions, and power -everything you can think of-, and tons more paraphernalia that I never knew existed.

I staggered out of there, with my pulley, but swathed in a roiling, rumbling black doomerhead.

We have had it, bygod, for sure.

Then, in a bolt from the doom, it suddenly all clicked together- the solution to the energy problem!

Presidential Declaration.

As of today let the word go forth -to friend and foe alike- we shall exert no further effort of any sort, public or private, on lawns. All of that money, ironmongery, talent, sweat, hopes, toil previously expended on lawns shall now and forever after be directed to the truly rewarding national goal of total independence from any sort of fossil fuel whatsoever,

Let us spend intense, sweaty weekends on solar panel umbrellas over everything that isn’t moving at the moment, instead of vast rolling deserts of dandelion devastation, let us have solar water pumps down every well, let us forego any energy-related effort when the sun is not out, as god intended from the beginning. Instead let us have big meadbashes with harmless armwrestling and lying (TOD an exemplar) when it is raining. Let us live on our current income like real people have always done, instead of stealing the planet from our descendants like the bunch of petro- addicted wimps we have of late descended to become .

And let there be no more hair snippy-snapping or publications of mags full of nothing and too-skinny women.

Now you're talking.

Still have to mow the lawn though. Otherwise it will grow into a fire hazard. Too much tall grass too close to the house also provides cover to the mice.

Still, I only mow every other week, despite the occasional glares from the neighbors. Spraying is limited to the Canadian thistles (which are not actually Canadian) and the wild morning glories.

There is a happy median. Or a Doctrine of the Means for those who took Philosophy 101.

Bull. Plant it in native perennials. Much less watering, if any. Holds more water so runoff to local streams is reduced. Whack 'em down once at the end of the season, or do a very carefully controlled burn (if you can get away with it).

In our neighborhood, cats keep the mouse population pretty well under control.

The "native perennials" are sage brush. Also a fire hazard. Cheat grass is also common, though not native. Burns like a torch. In fact the native grasses tend to grow fast, then expect to burn off later in the year, or at least every few years.

Fire is how the West recycles. 8" a year of rain is not enough to allow decay to get anywhere.

A reasonably watered patch of "rough" grass, including clover and dandelions, makes a decent firebreak, and provides some cooling benefit in the hotter weeks of summer.

The cats do help with the mice, but a couple seem to sneak in every year anyway.

I planted my one acre lot with trees.

I chose the most wind-firm trees that grow well here, and purchased them on the cheap from ArborDay.org.

Primarily Bald Cypress and Dawn Redwood - fast growers.

I mixed in a few evergreens for winter wind blocking and planted a row of hazelnuts to take up a long grass strip.

Mowing will be obsolete when the trees get up and start blocking out most of the sun from the grass below.

I'll also have a cooler microclimate for our hot southern summers and a wind block for winter.

I may leave one strip of grass out front, but it'll be something that barely grows (maybe once a month with an electric weedeater).

Everywhere I see grass, I think it should be full of trees. Shade, fruit, nuts. Maybe a sunny spot for a garden.

Let's play the long game indeed!

When we first moved out here to this benighted booney bit, my wife thought of lots of lawns, but after very short and intensely unpleasant experience, I said was not gonna spend my life breathing smoke and treating geriatric briggs engines in the ICU. So she started planting bushes and all kinds of trees, and so now, 50 yrs later, we have no lawn at all but strips of grass going thru her big garden. I got a little battery driven mower which works just fine for that.

And PV. Now that a kW of PV costs only $750, why not? I have stuck them all over the place, dedicated to doing the local thing- water pumping, fence charging, blowing out greenhouse, and all that.

If you stick a little DC motor directly on a PV, it will grunt and groan when the light is too little to get its work done. I hate to see things suffer. Simple fix, a little relay to turn on the motor if and only if the sun is above the needed intensity. Costs next to nothing. Motor is grateful.

From the Business Insider Citi New Industrial Revolution article I have learned that peak oil is over…. What a relief. I feel compelled to post some of the comments from Business Insider, where it seems to me most of those who comment are anything but….

“Stay away from the Oil Drum! Several years ago, a geologist stated the Bakken would hit a short-live peak of around 225,000 bpd - not it's producing more than double that!
Those boyz at the Oil Drum couldn't predict a sunrise”.

“The naysayers are here....GOLD BUGS and Middle Eastern Desert Jockeys who hate the idea of losing the grip on Oil industry. They want the economy to fail....they want more $$$ for their oil so that they can buy more Premier league teams and afford fancy sand castles. They want Gold to go up....they are hedgers...they will lose this game....poor uneducated fellows....I need a kabob now”

“peak oil is a myth and perhaps a conspiracy theory. Energy is crucial, no nation wanna over explore nor expose their actual reserve”

“Canadian Oil from shale costs US$40/barrel. Cannot believe that US Shale would cost anymore. At $100+/barrel, there is plenty of money to be made”.

“Is this ever looking good. Gloom and Doomers and the peak oil End of the World Crew can get with the good news.
Earn and invest!
Our nation has benefitted extraordinarily well since the Crisis putting the US in the best position of all the developed countries”!

Well that is a sampling from real Americans and I do not think the finite nature of anything is a concept they understand. The few people trying to present factual and logical arguments are easily lost in the shouting. While reading the comments it occurred to me, maybe it is o.k. not to get the message out to the general public; maybe natural selection will not allow it. There are going to be a large number of people whose concept of reality and the nature of life on this planet will be overturned.

I will leave you with these prescient words from a man who understood the rank and file American. In times of Crisis there is only one answer....


And in other news, CITI is inviting eager participants to help with a campaign to support 'Giacomo' for the 2013 Derby Race. When he won the Derby in 2005, we feel he was just getting started, and that the next several years show great promise!

CITI has every confidence that Giacomo should be able to Double his 2005 speed by next year!


The comments thread under that article is pretty frightening. Then again, maybe any story in the MSM with a comments thread would be pretty similar.

I see westexas trying to provide a modicum of sanity there, thanks for fighting the good fight sir.

I just returned from over there. All comment sections in the main stream press are frightening to me, but this one is special. The authority figures have just relieved them of the slight lingering fear that the peak oil conspiracy theory might be right. I get the same vibe from that comment section that I get from drunken crowds at gladiatorial sporting events like football. Elation mixed with anger and aggression. May be time to start producing some hummers, it’s time to party! USA! USA! USA!

As noted the other day, I feel like a 10 year old boy trying to put out a raging forest fire by peeing on it.

"According to him, the dystopia of the Wachowski Brothers' Matrix trilogy is already here: the technological-industrial 'machine' is already running the world, a world where individual humans are but insignificant little cogs with barely any autonomy. No single human being - neither the most powerful politician, nor the most powerful businessman - has the power to rein in the system. They necessarily have to follow the inexorable logic of what has been unleashed."
~ G Sampath on John Zerzan

All of you are just too doomey (is that a word?)

Just check out Goldman Sacks:


And though you might think that things are slowing down around the world, Goldman argues just the opposite, that the 2010-2019 period has more growth potential than any decade between 1980 to 2050.

We are saved.

So is CITI underwriting the IPO of some little oil companies? They have really been pimping the tight oil from the Bakken as the second coming lately. I assume there is something they are selling because the free analysis that comes out from these companies is worth what you pay for it.

Solar’s 80% Plunge Hurts Utilities From Hawaii to Spain

It still annoys me to no end how low solar panel prices is always viewed as a bad thing (Oh, those poor utilities!) but cheap natural gas is view is a good thing.

Why isn't the headline "Solar’s 80% cost Plunge creates booming solar market across the world"?

+1 As a writer, I also often wonder at the semantics of particular headlines.

Sometime post-Gutenberg and pre-computer era, as young freshman I had to write headlines for my college newspaper. It's not as easy as one would think. There's an art to having a headline that grabs the readers attention without being deceptive. The current political blogosphere is notoriously deceptive with their headlines.

The price of solar panels have less effect on the price of an installed system, than most people think,all this talk of less than a dollar a watt for a panel is irrelevant if the total cost of a system is 6 dollars a watt, most of this being made up by paper work labour costs and the installer profit. Get the price down to 50 cents a watt for solar panels and that only reduces the price of the whole system by 12% That is the real problem

Indeed, the 'balance of system' cost is the big issue NOW (after the big panel price drop). The DoE has started a program to look into these issues and come up with systems for lowering the other costs. But if you are paying $6/watt then your contractor is ripping you off.

But for DIY people, solar is great these days. And it isn't rocket science to install a system. The biggest headache is getting the plans approved by the local building department. (And that is an area the DoE needs to harmonize.)

Spot on, I don't know what the price is in the U.S.A but in Germany just over the boarder the total installed costs are in the region of $3.60 a watt. There is a small local installer in the next village who has been doing great business for the last six months before the Germans dropped there tariffs. I went and had a talk with him to see what it would cost me to have a system put on my roof, it was just not affordable seeing as I live in Holland and there are different regs. that make it not profitable for me.

All, so true. Although I think the US is now closer to $5. The germans are about half that. Paper work and such is reffered to as soft cost. I think the paper work is probably more like $1/watt (still inexcusable), but why not five cents instead!

As Reactors Age, the Money to Close Them Lags
Solar’s 80% Plunge Hurts Utilities From Hawaii to Spain

A Spanish solar-thermal power generating facility generates 24/7, not just when the Sun is out, having added the use of a molten salt storage mechanism.

Molten salt nuclear reactors that use thorium and don't produce plutonium can likewise be used with orders of magnitude greater safety.

I'll add my usual comments. So called "Thorium reactors" don't run on thorium. That's like saying plutonium reactors run on U-238. Some previous so-called thorium reactors have mainly fissioned U-235 (Highly Enriched Weapons Usable at Fort St. Vrain for example) and used that to breed U-233 from thorium which can then be fissioned itself. You cannot start a reactor with thorium.

U-233 produced from thorium is highly suitable for atomic weapons and it is even possible to extract highly pure U-233 free of U-232 via protactinium-233 decay from many of the proposed designs with simple clandestine modifications - even though it doesn't say that in the sales brochure. There are ways to enhance proliferation-resistance but these things aren't the free lunch many people think.

The famous "safe" Molten Salt Reactor at Oak Ridge, mentioned in your link, almost blew up 25 years after it was shutdown!


The reactor facility, called “Ole Salty” by some, was converted to lab and office space as the reactor lay in stand-by status. Then, in March 1994, samples of the off-gases in the process lines unexpectedly revealed uranium hexafluoride (UF6) and fluorine, a highly reactive gas. Where surveyors expected to find part-per-million concentrations, they found concentrations of UF6 of up to 8 percent and fluorine of 50 percent.

...“We discovered a highly hazardous situation in 1994,” Rushton says. “The uranium in the charcoal beds was in an unfavorable geometry that could have led to a chain reaction. If the system had burped, the contamination would have been dispersed over a wide area.

“The more studies we did, the more they showed that it could happen. There was a significant potential for disaster.”

U-233 Weapons Usable starts at about 12% enrichment as opposed to the minimum 20% enrichment of U-235 needed for a crude bomb.

I would still like to see more research on U-233/thorium but I can't say I've been too impressed so far once you look behind the glossy feel-good sales-pitch stuff that predominates the literature.

The link clearly says:

"In the 1960s and 70s, the United States carried out extensive research on thorium and MSRs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. That work was abandoned — partly, believe many, because uranium reactors generated bomb-grade plutonium as a byproduct."

Propaganda by nuke-mad G-men deniers does not impress me.

This presentation does: Thorium Conference.

This presentation does too: About Thorium Reactors.

Did you know one of the design goals of the early thorium reactors, including molten salt, was explicitly to generate bomb grade U-233?

Let's see what Oak Ridge says.

Definition of Weapons-Usable Uranium-233

Definition of Weapons-Usable Uranium-233

C. W. Forsberg
C. M. Hopper

Oak Ridge National Laboratory*
Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831-6180

J. L. Richter

Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545

H. C. Vantine

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Livermore, California 94550

...WGP is primarily 239Pu made by neutron irradiation of 238U. Plutonium is a man-made material. Likewise, 233U is made by neutron irradiation of thorium. Thorium is a naturally occurring element. Uranium-233 is a man-made material. In terms of weapons designs, 233U is similar to Weapons Grade Plutonium. The IAEA (1993) defines a Category I quantity of 233U in the context of safeguards as 2 kg. This is the same amount as is defined for WGP. In contrast, a Category I quantity of HEU is 5 kg.

...Uranium-233 has been historically produced by irradiating thorium with neutrons. The 233U produced is then separated from irradiated thorium targets or thorium-containing spent-nuclear fuel (SNF). The production system results in the generation of nearly pure, weapons-usable product 233U.

...1.2.2 Development History

All three fissile materials were investigated as components in nuclear weapons. Currently, U.S. nuclear weapons contain WGP or HEU or both. Uranium-233 was not chosen as a weapons material (Woods 1966; Smith 1963) for several reasons: (1) methods and facilities to make WGP and HEU were developed in the 1940s, 20 years before methods were developed to make 233U; (2) 233U was more difficult to make than were the other weapons-usable fissile materials with the then available technology; and (3) radiation levels from 233U with associated impurities from the production process are higher (see Sect. 3.4) unless special production techniques are used. The development of such special production techniques to produce high-purity, lower-cost 233U occurred after major decisions were made about which weapons materials to use.

In other words one of the main reasons weapons used U-235 and Pu-239 was because there wasn't enough pure U-233 available until the technique was perfected with molten salt reactors. Wikipedia entries on nuclear power have been heavily selected edited.


You use the word "know" as if it implicated actual knowledge, which is scientifically known to be belief, according to Epistemology, not knowledge.

Your assertion comes from the realm of "my dad can beat up your dad", or in trial terms, "my expert can beat your expert".

It is a jury question.

Since American education has failed on that, and you are a product of that, I care none for that type of horseplay, which is a waste of time, on an important subject.

Gosh, Dred, from your post above...

"Molten salt nuclear reactors that use thorium and don't produce plutonium can likewise be used with orders of magnitude greater safety."

...sounds like a "belief" to me, and the same type of claim made by the fission industry for decades (who have no clue how to clean up their mess). Economically viable over the full life cycle? Demonstrable at scale by civilian utilities? If so, where's the beef?

Fool me once.....

Actually, Dredd, you are coming across as an uncritical cheerleader, cherry-picking your sources to make this stuff look good.

Getting all indignant and blithering about epistemology and the supposedly failed American education system just reinforces that impression.

Just sayin'.

You use the word "know" as if it implicated actual knowledge, which is scientifically known to be belief, according to Epistemology, not knowledge.

There are multiple sources for the simple fact that one of the goals of thorium research was to produce U-233 for possible future weapons use. The USA even went as far as exploding at least one U-233 bomb (from declassified info). Molten salt reactors provide an easy path to pure U-233 with slight design alterations. This information is all in the public domain as well. Much of it on websites in the .gov domain.

By the way I'm a product of the UK education system.

And I have said multiple times (including in this drumbeat) that I still support further careful thorium cycle research but I remain highly dubious about the ability to do it safely.

Alvin Martin Weinberg (April 20, 1915 – October 18, 2006) was an American nuclear physicist who was the administrator at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

He originated MSR reactors FYI.

Why on earth would anyone assemble a U233 bomb? It doesn't make sense, even (especially) for terrorists. Very difficult to handle, difficult to transport(I can hold both weapons grade uranium and plutonium in my hand without harm, while weapons grade u233 is extremely dangerous and likely to kill me), if you're able to pull it off you could easily manufacture conventional weapons at much less expense and danger - also you're statement re 12% vs 20% is very misleading, you infer that this would be significant re creation of a u233 weapon, how in this case could this make a bit of difference?.
Weaponizing u233 seems to me as practical as weaponizing americium - technically possible but if you have the resources to do it you already have the resources to do it better with uranium or plutonium.

while weapons grade u233 is extremely dangerous and likely to kill me),

No it isn't. Didn't you read my ORNL/Los Alamos/Sandia link which said "(3) radiation levels from 233U with associated impurities from the production process are higher (see Sect. 3.4) unless special production techniques are used. The development of such special production techniques to produce high-purity, lower-cost 233U occurred after major decisions were made about which weapons materials to use. "

It is easy to get pure weapons grade U-233 without the highly radioactive U-232 component using known methods which were developed during thorium cycle research.

And even with moderate U-232 contamination it is still possible for a small group to build a bomb without fatally exposing themselves. Just as it is possible with reactor grade plutonium. Multiple nuclear bomb designers have said this an so did a published Sandia "Red Team" Report.

You are correct, I didn't read re special production techniques, however a group of people of sufficient skill in a position to develop and use such techniques, it would seem to me, is in a position to build a bomb by the normal means.
We're talking about rogue states, right? Why would they go to the trouble?

I like thorium MSRs. Bombs you say. Any country that try to benefit their people with electricity from thorium MSRs will have democracy brought to it by the US federal Government, so no problem for us.

A noted physicist who advocated for MSR was fired by Nixon:

Alvin Martin Weinberg (April 20, 1915 – October 18, 2006) was an American nuclear physicist who was the administrator at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) during and after the Manhattan Project period. He came to Oak Ridge, Tennessee in 1945 and remained there until his death in 2006 ... Weinberg was fired by the Nixon Administration from ORNL in 1973 after 18 years as the lab's director because he continued to advocate increased nuclear safety and Molten Salt Reactors, instead of the Administration's chosen Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor (LMFBR) that the AEC's Director of Reactor Division, Milton Shaw, was appointed to develop.[13] Weinberg's firing effectively halted development of the MSR, as it was virtually unknown by other nuclear labs and specialists.


The warmongering neoCon elements can't fathom a world that does not have enough WMD to destroy the place 50 times over.

That is what happens when we are governed by psychopaths.

US bomb designers, including Teller and Taylor, did not consider Weinberg's designs proliferation proof or even particularly proliferation- resistant - despite claims to the contrary. When it comes to bomb making I'll believe top nuclear bomb designers over reactor designers. Ted Taylor actually spent many years trying to come up with a thorium cycle he considered safe enough. He couldn't and eventually turned against all nuclear power as well as the nuclear weapons he had helped design.


"US bomb designers, including Teller" ... "When it comes to bomb making I'll believe"

Thanks for proving my point sir.

So you suggest that nuclear bomb designers aren't the experts at designing nuclear bombs?

If I had said "When it comes to brain surgery, I'll listen to a neurosurgeon rather than a heart surgeon" would you have jumped on that as well?

Nuclear bombs are not useful energy producers.

They are death producers.

Death of innocents.

War criminals use them.

MSR reactors do not do that.

I have made my choice and you have made yours.

I am not a psychopath.

You might want to try investigating the decay properties of protactinium-233 and how this pertains to thorium cycle MSRs.

Let's look at what the Oak Ridge MSR was doing in 1967 ("The Summer of Love").


ORNL-4191: Aug 1967 Progress Report

For Period Ending August 31, 1967


12.1 Extraction of Protactinium from Molten Fluorides into Molten Metals

And, as if by magic, within a month of extracting your protactinium, half of it has turned into Highly Enriched Uranium-233 Within a year it's effectively 100% pure Weapons Grade Uranium-233.

Reactors can be designed to try to make this process harder of course but there is nothing intrinsic to fundamental MSR design that prevents them being used for weapons grade production.

An excellent book about Ted Taylor is The Curve of Binding Energy. Taylor was concerned about nuclear terrorism and long before 9/11 suggested that terrorists might plant a homemade nuclear device in the World Trade Center. Taylor once had an interesting blog on the internet but it disappeared after 9/11.
--Weinberg certainly functioned as a nuclear physicist but he had a strong background and interest in biology, his PhD being in biophysics. His 1959 Physics Today article is one of my all time favorites, at least the parts that I can understand. His use of the word asymptotic seems in tune with Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen's formulation of an entropy law for materials

I too highly recommend "The Curve of Binding Energy". Ted Taylor talks to the BBC about Project Orion in the documentary I've linked in another post. Anyway I highly recommend it as well - BBC Documentary on Project Orion at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4k_YZAXSEI - "To Mars By A-Bomb - The Secret History of Project Orion - BBC - Nuclear Propulsion"

If I recall, Taylor speculated in "...Binding Energy" that the Twin Towers were particularly vulnerable to a "special" class of nuclear weapon (as well as the "general" class obviously). A single small "specialised" design, detonated at a certain point in the building, could instantly heat the tubular infrastructure to the point where it could no longer hold weight, causing the building to collapse straight down on itself at virtually free fall speed. That was Taylor speculating in 1974.

Makes me wonder who's been reading his stuff.. or was the point?

I never even thought to look up a movie on project Orion. Thanks!

You are what you eat ...

Study: Distiller's grain safe for pigs, even with sulfur content

University of Illinois research reports that swine producers can feed distiller's dried grain with solubles (DDGS) to their pigs without concern for sulfur content.

To maintain a stable pH in fermentation vats, ethanol producers use sulfuric acid, which results in a sulfur content in the DDGS that varies according to how much sulfuric acid was used. Until now, the effect of low levels of sulfur in the diet on growth performance in pigs fed DDGS had not been determined, he said.

"Sulfur is toxic to cattle. If there is 0.4 percent sulfur in the diet, cattle start getting sick," ... pigs can handle a high-sulfur (0.9% sulfur) DDGS diet.

Pay no attention to the 'brimstone' .... besides, their feet are cloven already.

tangentally related ... Diet may be affecting rhino reproduction

Southern white rhinoceros populations, once thriving in zoos, have been showing severely reduced reproductivity among the captive-born population. San Diego Zoo Global researchers have a possible lead into why the southern white rhinoceros population in managed-care facilities is declining: phytoestrogens in their diet might be contributing to reproductive failure in the females.

"Due to the decades-long decline in male sperm counts, apparently caused by a proliferation of environmental hydrocarbon-based, estrogen-mimicking pollutants, the human species will go extinct sometime within the next two centuries".

So much for the Techno-Utopian future :(


I would be more worried about flatulence in the pigs.

No; Seriously. How could you tell?

Pig farms have been blowing up in the U.S. now that you mention it


We may be seeing flying pigs after all.

Amount of coldest Antarctic water near ocean floor decreasing for decades

... Two oceanographers from NOAA and the University of Washington find that the coldest deep ocean water, called Antarctic Bottom Water has been disappearing at an average rate of about eight million metric tons per second over the past few decades, equivalent to about fifty times the average flow of the Mississippi River or about a quarter of the flow of the Gulf Stream in the Florida Straits.

“Because of its high density, Antarctic Bottom Water fills most of the deep ocean basins around the world, but we found that the amount of this water has been decreasing at a surprisingly fast rate over the last few decades

The world’s deep ocean currents play a critical role in transporting heat and carbon around the planet, thus regulating our climate. While previous studies have shown that the bottom water has been warming and freshening over the past few decades, these new results suggest that significantly less of this bottom water has been formed during that time than in previous decades.

Antarctic Bottom Water formation is the southern branch of the Thermohaline Circulation. If the Antarctic Bottom Water is decreasing, that says either: 1. Less is being produced, or 2. more is being lost thru mixing and upwelling. Since there appears to be little change in the Antarctic sea-ice cycle, that would imply that #2 is the likely explanation. Looks like another report to read...

E. Swanson

Analysis: More drilling hasn't lowered gasoline prices

Analyzing 36 years of gasoline prices and U.S. oil production, the Associated Press finds no statistical correlation between how much is pumped out of the ground and how much is paid at the pump.

AP says four independent statisticians came to the same conclusion.

When you put the inflation-adjusted price of gas on the same chart as U.S. oil production since 1976, the numbers sometimes go in the same direction, sometimes in opposite directions. If drilling for more oil meant lower prices, the lines on the chart would consistently go in opposite directions. A basic statistical measure of correlation found no link between the two, and outside statistical experts confirmed those calculations.

As one energy economist put it: "Drill, baby, drill has nothing to do with it."

When U.S. production goes up, the price of gas "is certainly not going down," said New York University statistics professor Edward Melnick. "The data does not suggest that whatsoever."

Are you calling Newt Gringrich a liar? I won't stand for that . . . . I'll sit back & smile.

Amazon Man Questions Logic of Apple Solar Farm

Apple is building a 100-acre solar farm to help power its massive data center in Maiden, North Carolina. But Amazon data-center guru James Hamilton questions whether this actually makes sense.

In a recent blog post, Hamilton — who also served as a data center architect at Microsoft — asks whether such solar farms are “really somewhere between a bad idea and pure marketing, where the environmental impact is purely optical.”

... by his estimates, it will provide the data center will only about four percent of the power it requires. If you wanted to power the entire 500,000-square-foot facility, he estimates, you’d need a 181-million-square-feet [6.5 square-mile] solar farm.

Leave Gaza Strip, U.S. tells citizens

WASHINGTON, March 20 (UPI) -- U.S. citizens are called on to leave Gaza Strip immediately and be on high alert when traveling to Israel or the West Bank, the U.S. State Department advised.

A cease-fire backed by leaders from the militant Islamic Jihad appeared to be holding in Gaza after a rockets were fired into Israel territory last week.

In a travel warning, the State Department called on U.S. citizens in Gaza to leave immediately through the Rafah crossing to Egypt.

What is new here? They fire rockets into Israel every week. It is sort of a hobby Hamas and Islamic Jihad and the others are having.

Perhaps the US anticipates being a US citizen in a territory with strong links to a certain not-yet-nuclear Islamic state will be extremely detrimental to health in the coming weeks or months...

I'm thinking of visiting Israel this spring or after the summer. With some luck I may experience a major geopolitical event on site.

Vernor Vinge Is Optimistic About the Collapse of Civilization

... But could humanity really claw its way back after a complete collapse? Haven’t we plundered the planet’s resources in ways that would be impossible to repeat?

“I disagree with that,” says Vinge. “With one exception — fossil fuels. But the stuff that we mine otherwise? We have concentrated that. I imagine that ruins of cities are richer ore fields than most of the natural ore fields we have used historically.”

... BIG exception

He starts out with a discussion about the Singularity, then about a third of the way down he gets into collapse.

elsewhere ...

The Hunger Games: Post-Apocalypse Now For Young Adults

The Hunger Games, the first movie version of a highly popular series of young adult books, is coming out this weekend. It portrays a food-insecure society struggling to survive in a world at least partly devastated by climate change.

The revolution will be televised. So will the post-apocalyptical fight to feed ourselves on a ruined planet.

BIG, BIG exception. I don't think he reads many peak oil sites if he can say that so blithely.

Severe sandstorm hits north-west China

A severe sandstorm descended on China's north-west Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Tuesday. Visibility dropped sharply causing traffic chaos and disruption in schools across the region.

Any news on how close the Gobi dessert is to the western suburbs of Bejing? It is going closer every year.

Fuel price hikes ignite protests in Indonesia

Thousands of workers in Indonesia have protested against a 33 per cent rise in the cost of fuel.

The government has said that current fuel subsidies cost them billions each year, but for 100 million Indonesians living on two dollars per day, the latest in a series of hikes is a step too far. Low-income workers feel they are being priced off the roads.

... and, to think, once upon a time, they exported their precious birthright.

Winds of change blow through China as spending on renewable energy soars

... Wind turbines, which were almost unknown five years ago, stretch into the distance, competing only with far mountains and new pylons for space on the horizon. Jiuquan alone now has the capacity to generate 6GW of wind energy – roughly equivalent to that of the whole UK. The plan is to more than triple that by 2015, when this area could become the biggest windfarm in the world.

Good link, I hope the Chinese realize that their rare earth metals need to go to OECD countries so that we can all have cars in the future. I do not want them to get too used to renewable energy using OUR rare earth metals. After America has 250 million electric cars built and delivered, the Chinese can use the rest for renewable energy for themselves I guess. ;^)

Oh those Chinese using their resources to benefit their country rather than benefit the global bankers. What next people before corporations? Clearly the US federal government will need to bring democracy to China.

We can build EVs with induction motors that do not use any rare earth metals.

technically yes, but hard to do while keeping them so small.


Hard to make a small induction motor that doesn't use rare earths? I had a Chevy Sprint with a Brusa AMC200 controller and a GT20 induction motor. 18KW/~20 HP motor was only about 8" x 10" and about 70 lbs. That was almost 10 years ago. Now there are induction motors like this:


67 peak HP, 8" diameter, 14" long, 122 lb. Induction motor. This would make a very decent car. No, it wouldn't go 80 mph on the freeway all day, but that's not necessary.

BTW, all going to electric cars isn't going to solve our problems. I just find it interesting when people will do all the handwaving to say that space-based solar power is very possible, yet there are those who don't see that we don't have to use the latest and greatest, fancy tech to make things happen.

Hard do while keeping them small?

They are used in the Tesla Roadster and people regularly complain that car is too small.

You will need an inverter in the car as well, very inefficient, plus torque and starting issues. You'd probably need a lot of control circuitry as well as a higher power motor to overcome these issues which is why most EV's use DC.

Yes it also seems that those PM axial (pancake) motors will lend themselves to 'in the wheel design' better. (2-4wd, in wheel regen braking, vehicle stability and traction control, platform conservation)

The two ebikes I have built with PMAC (DC with Hall sensor) seem to have incredible torque and battery life. To be fair the others were brushed motors, not AC induction, but in researching this it seems pretty clear.

Induction vs. PMAC PDF

I wasn't thinking when I wrote what I wrote. I was thinking about other rare earth applications like in disk drives etc, not EVs. My bad.


Prius is A.C. with inverter:

"Prius is the biggest user of rare earth metals of any object in the world."

No bad involved.

Yes using sycronous AC with permanent magnets (BLCD/PMAC) not Squirrel Cage Induction Motors like Tesla. (and I'm sure if I poked a Tesla owner with that "squirrel" line they'd want to blow the doors off my Prius)

Not quibbling with you just carefully stating here to counter the claim. "We can power EV's w/o rare earths." Yes they could, but not many are, and for good reason.

From the link. "quotes" are theirs

Each MG has an "inverter" which performs this function. The inverter knows the position of its MG's rotor from a sensor on the shaft and switches current through the windings as required to keep it spinning at the desired speed and with the desired torque

The Prius has two electric motor/generators. They are very similar in construction, but different in size. Both are three-phase synchronous AC permanent magnet motors.

Here is a real nice flash of how the invertor/controller switches for any interested.


Yes, the rare-earth magnets allow easier designs. The little aircraft motors are rare-earth. One solution to the question as to whether a motor is AC or DC is to spin the shaft and look at what comes out of the disconnected ends of the power wires emerging from the motor's casing shell. A.C. comes out of inherently A.C. motors, D.C. out of inherently D.C. motors, and nothing comes out of induction or out of "universal" motors. This works for most everything except motors with built-in electronics packages, such as some little brushless "D.C." fans. The spun fan motor will self-power the electronics which then decommutates the A.C. generated by the motor's coils back into a D.C. output on the two power wires emerging from the case: They can be used as D.C. generators.

Magnet motors work the field coil's magnetic force against the force of the magnets in the rotor. Induction motors work the field coils against their own reflection in the rotor.

The Tesla Roadster's induction motor makes 2.5 to 3.5 horsepower per pound, depending on whether you use the 70 or 115 pound number.


Actually most commercial electric cars (Leaf, Volt, Tesla Roadster, etc.) use AC motors. Hobbyists tend to use DC motors though.

Hmm. That's new information for me. Thanks for that. I always thought that AC moors were useless for use in EV's.

The EV-1 used a drive system developed by the company A.C. Propulsion. The batteries were stacked to 400VDC and fed an inverter/motor controller. Newer efforts are using 750VDC power run through the controller.

The 3-phase model aircraft motors are fun!
Here is one: 12.5cm/5" diameter, 1350 grams/3 pounds, 10kW/15 horse-power.
Replaces 100-150cc engine:

Tesla uses SCIM (squirrel cage induction)
Leaf and others BLDC (permanent magnet brushless direct current)

Tesla vs. Leaf PDF

BLDC/PMAC terminology

Ok I will 'stepper' in it here for sure before the real experts wade in but this is how I understand it.

The Tesla uses a conventional radial non sycronous AC induction motor w/o permanent magnets.

The Leaf and others use a high efficiency sycronous DC permanent (rare earth) magnet motor which uses a controller and Hall effect sensors which monitor and 'tell' the controller how to switch the current to keep the stator field running at the same speed as the PM shaft. (which the SCIM does not) BLDC's are sometimes referred to as AC because they are swiched by the controller which acts as an 'inverter' of sorts but does not require the somewhat less efficient AC conversion and slippage of the SCIM. SCIM may provide higher RPM.

The advantages to a BLDC setup ,in addition to those wiseindian mentioned, over SCIM are touted in that link I gave in my previous post. It is not dissimilar to what I think of as a 'pretty fancy setup' one can buy for small applications today like I have on my ebikes.

Think rare earths do matter and make for more efficient EV's.


EIA has published annual data for 2011:

Production of Crude Oil including Lease Condensate (Thousand Barrels Per Day) 

       2005       2006       2007       2008        2009       2010       2011
World  73,671.0   73,378.1   72,906.3   73,589.9    72,181.8   73,889.2   73,964.0

Dec 2011: 75,383

This forecast was wrong: ace on March 18, 2009

So, the plateau continues:

At the 2002 to 2005 rate of increase in production, globally we would have been at about 89 mbpd in 2011. Instead, we have not seen a material increase in global crude oil production for six years, despite the fact that annual Brent crude oil prices doubled from $55 in 2005 to $111 in 2011.

At the beginning of 2005, Brent was $41/bbl and at the end of 2011 it was $108/bbl. So, production barely increased while prices were up more than 2.5 times. Clearly, free market capitalism isn't working.


I think that it is more accurate to say that once conventional production peaks in a region, rising oil prices empirically don't seem to have much effect on conventional production in that region, e.g., Texas & North Sea, following their respective peaks.

However, rising prices do provide a strong incentive for substitutes, e.g. biofuels, and for unconventional production, e.g., the tar sands in Canada. The question is whether the substitutes and unconventional production make an incremental difference or a material difference.

I don't know if this has been posted before, but here's an interesting excerpt from the book Bad Money quoting Sadad al-Husseini, former chief of exploration and production at Saudi Aramco:

Al-Husseini was even more provocative. In one of the interviews he gave at the London conference, the candid Saudi more or less agreed with the Pickens-Simmons thesis. He indicated that world production was in the process of making a 2005-7 top and would plateau for ten to fifteen years at roughly the same level, assuming prices were raised some $12 a year to incentivize the continued output of oil and other related liquids. He further suggested that world oil reserves were inflated, and that 300 billion of the 1.2 trillion barrels -- mostly in the OPEC countries -- should be reclassified as speculative resources.

Clearly, free market capitalism isn't working.

I understand what you are saying, and do not necessarily agree.

According to free market theory, when price (p) goes up (+p), supply (s) will increase (+s), and that in turn will drop prices (-p). The problem is not with free market theory


per se, but that the theory makes an assumption that supply is unlimited. When you begin your syllogism with a false premise your argument becomes unsound, but not false. In other words, the theory would be correct if all assumptions were true. Since the major premise is not true, the argument is valid, but the conclusion is wrong. Here the first set (C+c+s) is false because +s is not a given, and may in fact and reality be impossible. In fact, we may be seeing an increase in cost resulting in either no increase or a fall in supply, as supply becomes increasingly unresponsive to price.

It is interesting to note the logic of the free market theory, when set forth symbolically, would seem to dictate level prices, with any increase necessarily adding supply to bring price back to equilibrium, since conjunction of C+p+s and C+s-p is equivalent to C+p-p, and in that case +p and –p cancels out. In short, the free market theory is a nullity, or at best a tautology of Css (supply is supply). It does not have any real meaning whatever from a logical standpoint.


Let's just hope we don't end up doing what the Soviets did under Stalin: Using Moose to pull plows.

Free market theory only says that the price of a commodity will adjust until the supply of the commodity is equal to the demand for the commodity at that price.

Since this can be accomplished by reducing demand due to higher prices, I'd say it is working perfectly.

Anybody who thinks that it is only the supply that adjusts clearly doesn't understand economics.

Just as supply can only rise to meet physical limits, demand can only be reduced to zero. The question is how high can the price go before the impact craters the rest of the economy, given the dependence we have placed on this unreliable comodity.

I can see a time when food prices increase (due to fuel cost increase) to the point that people cannot purchase food at cost. At which time, the prediction would be that they acquire food at a cost of zero, by theft, or die. A black market at that time would be sale of stolen foodstuffs at below actual cost, thus creating new opportunities for criminal cartels.

The impact this would have on society is incalculable, while at the same time it seems to be the direction we are taking. How long it takes to reach that destination is problematic.


Edit: Decreasing supply would also impact this equation. We would expect price to drop as demand decreases, thus relieving supply problems. However, if supply decreases as well, decreased demand may result in little or no reduction in price, and in fact if the drop in supply exceeds the drop in demand, price could continue to rise as everything else drops. The flaw in the equation comes if any one of the premises is wrong. The supply side is incorrect... supply is not sufficiently elastic to expand to meet demand. Demand is only elastic to a certain extent, where lack of a commodity is a matter of life or death. Most people take a dim view of the death part, opting to do what is necessary to acquire survival supplies. When the supplies are not even availble then, the die off begins.


Well, I like to say the free market can resolve any issue, but the solution it comes up with isn't likely to be one that anybody actually wants.

r4 - As was explained on one M.A.S.H. episode: God answers all prayers...just sometimes the answer is no.

Rockman - Do you believe in anything other than your bank account? (Texas doesn't count since it's controlled by the Oil Industry).

bmiller - I believe in a great many things. Toss out some specifics and I'll give you quick yes/no answers. As far as bank accounts go you might find it hard to believe but I may be one of the least money centric folk around TOD. Almost to the point of being negligent. Don't ask me why. I grew up dirt poor. I was hospitalized when 5 you for malnutrition...a side benefit of being raised by alcoholics. Even into my 30's I would almost have a panic attach if I saw someone leaving food on their plate in a restaurant. I make a good pay day now but I wear cheap cloths, drive cheap cars, live in a inexpensive home when I could afford one at 5X the price, I earn virtually nothing in the form of investments other than money market rates...investing takes too much mental energy, not only do I not have expensive hobbies but not even cheap ones, I consider a $10 bottle of wine expensive and it dang well better be a good one, I loan money to friends/family and don't worry about getting it back, etc, etc. For some unexplained reason money and its trapping have never impressed me. Last year I watched my billionaire owner christen his new $70 million sail boat. Nice boat but I wasn't impressed. Actually I'm not much a boat person in the first place.

And I believe in God and the Devil. And that they both reside in each of us. We chose which one will dominate our lives. IOW it's within our control where we fall between these two extremes.


Interesting insight - you are the salt of the Earth. I also spend much less than I make, and don't think much of the group driving BMWs etc. I hate the SUVers. Also, like you, my money is currently in money market funds. I'm afraid of a big, bad, recession/depression when PO becomes evident.

Another topic - ever think insect-sized nanobots will be able to suck more oil out of wells? After all, 70% of the oil remains after the well is "depleted." That bothers me. Of course, nanobots might be in the year 2050 when oil is $400/barrel.

That is interesting.

I never much cared about money, either. Had it. I remember, at 11 years old, watching the crew of the QE2 cleaning up the vomit in the corridors at three in the morning. Whatever the money did for the passengers, it didn't make them happy. Work was always my thing. I would work for little money just to see things happen that otherwise couldn't. I gave inventions away for the same reason. I had a client once take me out for a very expensive lunch. What a waste. For that money, I could have lived quite a while. That's all I thought. Not impressed.

I can so relate to that. Grew up poor. Have money now (my rich uncle died and had no wife or kids) but didn't change a thing. Use clothes of the same type, walk and bike(ed) everywhere or took the bus. Bought some furniture, a better camera and a new bike that was later stolen. I know I can do stuff if I want but don't do much different. Money is just a number. But sure, do I ever need a house one day, it may come in handy.

It is like if you grew up poor, money sort of don't attach to you. If you grew up rich on the other hand... They found this dead guy in Germany after the 2008 crisis. He owned large shares in a successfull car manufacturer, and was on the top 100 of the worlds richest. He was badly hit by the crisis, and it left him with only a few hundred millions left on his bank account. He killed himself.

Greer's take differs a bit:

...but you’ll have a hard time finding anybody in the economic mainstream willing to consider the possibility that the market, left entirely to itself, might dive into a depression twenty-three years long. That’s bad reason #2; once you discuss the Long Depression, it becomes very hard to ignore the fact that an economy left to its own devices can dole out decades of misery to everybody.

Then there’s bad reason #3, which is that the cause of intractable problems like the Long Depression was well understood at the time, but nobody wants to talk about it now. That unwillingness, in turn, reflects the way that a concept once very widespread in economics—the concept of overproduction—...

...For all that, overproduction’s easy to understand, and it offers a crucial insight into how industrial economies work—or, more precisely, how they stop working. ...

The problem, of course, comes when the people who are getting next to nothing for their labor, crops, and so on are also the people who are supposed to buy those expensive industrial products. As the people on the losing end of the exchange get poorer, their ability to buy industrial products goes down, ...


The thing is, the “Law of Supply and Demand” is a null entry. All it says, when stripped down to it’s essentials, is that supply = supply and demand = demand, depending on which side you are looking at.

Reality says that price is determined by what the suckers believe they have to pay. There will be supply so long as the providers can do so for less than the suckers will pay. Peak Oil says that there will come a time, shortly, when the cost of production will be more than the suckers can pay for the product.

Further ramifications say that the end of available oil means a decided downturn of the economy. Given that each of the major hydrocarbon energy sources will eventually reach such a peak, P.O. further says that mankind will either need to have sustainable alternatives ready when these peaks happen, or further grim consequences loom darkly on the horizon.

Of course, there are other impacts from various of these situations, including loss or limitation of commercial fertilizer production, loss or limitation of pharmaceutical production, etc.

The upside is that when the last of the fossil fuels that are economically recoverable is burned, the climate may stabilize. The downside is that climate change may be irreversible by then, and may have stopped further extraction by eliminating customers for the stuff.

Mostly not happy news, and all naturally occurring without the need for political agreements or scientific certainty. When Faux News, et al, are no longer physically able to transmit their vile propaganda in support of fresh water economics, it will probably no longer matter to anyone that they were wrong, since there will be nothing that the survivors will be able to do about it at the time. I doubt they will even think to say, “we’re sorry.”


We have been over that before Pollux. Ace just got it wrong. He simply assumed that the decline we saw in late 2008 and early 2009 would continue. But we now know that was simply producers cutting back because of the collapse in oil prices.

That being said: Non OPEC according to the same EIA data in thousands of barrels per day:

 2005       2006       2007       2008        2009       2010       2011
41,905      41,902     41,821     41,227      41,740     41,458     41,239

So the the EIA has non-OPEC down by 219 thousand barrels per day in 2011 verses 2010. That is about half what JODI has them down. The gain in total C+C was all OPEC coming back to full production.

Ron P.

He simply assumed that the decline we saw in late 2008 and early 2009 would continue.

No, he did not. From March 18, 2009:

The world C&C forecast is based upon aggregating country forecasts from 56 major oil producing countries and 45 minor oil producing countries. Each country forecast has its own future production profile. This profile can vary greatly. For example, Kazakhstan's C&C production is increasing while Norway's is decreasing.

The number for December 2011 is off by more than 8 mb/d.

Ace assumes a total URR of 1.95 TB.
Either (A) this is to low or (B) the decline will be much steeper when the plateau finally ends.

Or 2 TB is about right for conventional production, and slowly rising unconventional production is keeping us on the plateau.

Sorry folks but I realize I have a typo in my above post concerning Non-OPEC C+C according to the EIA. It should be:

 2005       2006       2007       2008        2009       2010       2011
41,905      41,902     41,821     41,227      41,740     42,485     42,239
                                                     Not 41,485 Not 41,239

Sorry about that.

Ron P.

DARPA Pursues Security As Polar Ice Caps Melt

Anticipating increased shipping in Arctic seaways, agency looks for new methods--such as underwater sensors--to make the harsh region safe for human activities.

Through the Assured Arctic Awareness (AAA) program, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is looking into environmentally-friendly ways to monitor the Arctic region both above and below the ice without the need for more expensive means of monitoring--such as aircraft, satellites, or manned ships and submarines--of the largely remote region, according to the agency.


Anticipating increased shipping in Arctic seaways, agency looks for new methods--such as underwater sensors--to make the harsh region safe for human activities corporate extraction.

Inside the Ring: Beijing coup rumors

By Bill Gertz -The Washington Times

U.S. intelligence agencies monitoring China’s Internet say that from March 14 to Wednesday bloggers circulated alarming reports of tanks entering Beijing and shots being fired in the city as part of what is said to have been a high-level political battle among party leaders - and even a possible military coup.

The Internet discussions included photos posted online of tanks and other military vehicles moving around Beijing.

The reports followed the ouster last week of senior Politburo member and Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai, who was linked to corruption, but who is said to remain close to China’s increasingly nationalistic military.

Media attention to climate change? I think I heard them say they're doing a piece on the Texas drought and towns running out of water this evening (Thurs., Mar.22).


EDIT: Apologies for mis-threading this note. Time for sleep.

From BBC: Damaging coup rumours ricochet across China

... To be completely correct we should say we do not know what's going on. Hard facts are non-existent.

Photographs of tanks and armoured cars on city streets were flying around Twitter and elsewhere. On closer inspection though, some of the pictures seemed to be old ones from rehearsals for military parades, others did not even seem to be of Beijing, as they claimed, but different Chinese cities.

also Coup Chatter Wakes The Great Firewall

And in other news, the Australian state of Victoria (where I currently reside) has announced the following:

• $55m subsidy (by taxpayers) to Bernie Ecclestone's Formula 1 Grand Prix circus
• $275m subsidy to General Motors to continue to build 6&8 cyl clunker sedans here
• This follows millions to Ford for ditto
• Millions of dollars of investment into brown coal for export ("400 years of coal available")
• Millions to complete a desalination plant to make Melbourne "drought-proof"
• And plans for new (urgently needed) suburban railways are put back on the never-never list

No wonder they call this the lucky country!

Analysis: Murky data makes oil trading tricky

Speculation over possible war with Iran and even the closure of the Strait of Hormuz in the Middle East Gulf has encouraged investors to buy oil in the hope of making large profits.


Oil lower as rich nations mull tapping crude reserves

Oil retreated in Asian trade Thursday, as France said industrialised countries were considering releasing part of their crude stockpiles to counter rising prices, analysts said.

S.Korea would support oil stock release -econ min source

South Korea would support a release by industrialised countries of oil from strategic reserves to help stem high prices, but has yet to receive a request from the International Energy Agency or its members to do so, a government source said on Thursday.

I guess the rumors of the SPR release caused all commodity prices to drop this morning. [/sarconal]

Pollux - Once again the MSM is doing their job to confuse the public: "Oil retreated in Asian trade Thursday, as France said industrialized countries were considering releasing part of their crude stockpiles to counter rising prices, analysts said. New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in May, shed 20 cents to $107.07 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for May settlement was down nine cents at $124.11."

They constantly confuse the futures contracts on oil with the price at which oil is actually selling. The price of futures may have "retreated" but the price for Light La. Sweet (at which I sell my Texas production) has been going up. And has gone up almost 20% in the last 6 weeks. Yesterday it closed at $130.45/bbl. Midwest refiners may still be getting cheaper crude due to the bottleneck at Cushing. But Gulf Coast refiners are paying almost $25/bbl more and that sets the price for motor fuel for much of the rest of the consumers. That and what the NE has to pay for Brent. The Gulf Coast refiners may have positions in the futures market and may thus have concerns about those political decisions. But they aren't paying me $130/bbl because of those concerns. They are paying me that price because if they don't I can sell it to someone else who'll pay. My oil will go into the system and be converted to fuel. Those products will sell for whatever the market will bear at the time they hit the street.

Atlantic Canadians should be burning Alberta oil: Senator

Sen. Mike Duffy says Atlantic Canada needs access to Alberta oil to combat the high international price of crude and to solidify the country’s long-term energy security.

But while the former political commentator from Prince Edward Island says access can be as simple as reversing an existing Ontario pipeline, he warns that environmental opposition may stand in the way.

“Maritimers are paying the world price of oil because they do not have access to lower-price Canadian crude,” Duffy said. “Most Maritimers are unaware that the oil we burn in our cars and our heating oil comes from offshore, it’s not Canadian oil, some coming all the way from the Middle East.

“The push to provide energy security for Canadians would be to allow Canadians from coast to coast to coast to be burning Canadian petroleum — oil from Alberta.”

Current prices:
North Sea Brent Blend $124 USD/BBL
OPEC Basket Price $123 USD/BBL
West Texas Intermediate $106 USD/BBL
Canadian Par Average (40 API) $83 CAD/BBL
Western Canadian Select $74 CAD/BBL

Rocky - Check out Light La. Sweet pricing since the bust back in '09: www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=pet&s=f003075773&f=m. It has steadily increased from $40/bbl to closing a tad over $130/bbl recently...over a 300% increase. Notice it has a similar rise as it had right before the bust at the beginning of '09. Predictions are difficult...especially about the future. But looks like we might be heading for another tipping point. Maybe $40 oil by 2013? That would be a really foolish prediction. Which is what they would have said about a $40 oil prediction in Jan '09 if you had proposed it in the spring of '08.

In order to get back to a price of $40/bbl by 2013, we would have to have an economic collapse similar to the so-called Great Recession of 2008-09. However, I think the major bubbles in the financial system have already collapsed, so there is not the same downside potential.

Sure, the Greek economy could collapse, but that's not in the same league as the US mortgage meltdown. The Greek economy has collapsed quite frequently in the last century and a half.

I think the biggest factor is that we are starting to approach the steep part of the global oil decline curve. Past 2015, the decline will probably start to become quite apparent, and that will affect global oil prices quite drastically - i.e. they will go up sharply. So will fuel prices.

As I keep telling people, don't buy a car with more than 4 cylinders. One with a tiny 3-cylinder turbo-diesel engine would be ideal, but you can't buy them in the US.

Rocky - I agree about the lack of similar downward potential. OTOH the previous price collapse seemed to be a result of a number of factors hitting home at once. As you say not likely for those same factors to bite us again at the same time. But what about another set of theoretical (and somewhat unpredictable) factors hitting at the same time?

You've been doing this for about as long as I have. And you know the good times for the oil patch always end...and often sharply. Just a question of when and how far we drop.

Rocky, well thought out, but I wonder if the downside potential is much better. Sure the housing bubble popped, but if gas prices increase dramatically overburdened consumers will have to cut back somewhere. Who knows maybe retail, airlines, or any business with a big supply line gets a beating next. I am not implying there are bubbles like housing, just demand destruction.

As far as sovereign defaults(Greece)I think the threat lies in the derivatives market. Greek CDS payouts appear to have gone off fine, but if Spain or Italy default, the holders of CDS will be put to a real stress test. Cascading defaults could ripple through the derivatives markets (Big Banks hold plenty of CDS) parking us right back in a 2008 style mess. With much higher debt levels than the last go round. I do not think the global economy is adjusting well to the plateau of crude oil.

Do I detect signs of panic developing as the US Presidential Election grows nearer, and gas prices continue to rise in those parts of the US without pipeline connections to cheap Canadian and North Dakota oil?

Obama to fast-track oil pipeline, other projects

President Barack Obama will direct federal agencies to fast-track an oil pipeline from Oklahoma to Texas, backing a segment of the larger Keystone XL project that he rejected earlier this year.

The 485-mile line from Cushing, Okla., to refineries on Texas' Gulf coast would remove a critical bottleneck in the country's oil transportation system, as rising oil production has outgrown pipelines' capacity to deliver oil to refineries.

Obama's directive, to be announced Thursday, also would apply to other pipelines that alleviate choke points. It will be issued along with an executive order requiring agencies to make faster decisions on other infrastructure projects.

For Obama, the announcement provides an answer to Republicans who say his energy policies, including the rejection of the larger Canada-Texas pipeline, have contributed to high gas prices and destroyed jobs.

Keystone pipeline: Separating reality from rhetoric

Gas prices might go up, not down: Right now, a lot of oil being produced in Canada and North Dakota has trouble reaching the refineries and terminals on the Gulf. Since that supply can't be sold abroad, it reduces the competition for it to Midwest refineries that can pay lower prices to get it.

Giving the Canadian oil access to the Gulf means the glut in the Midwest goes away, making it more expensive for the region.

"The price that refineries on the coasts have been paying is around $120 a barrel for months, while you had $75 to $80 a barrel crude available in the Rockies and Midwest," said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service...

..."In the current market, people are so worried about the loss of 3.5 million barrels from Iran, that 500,000 to 700,000 barrels isn't enough to calm the markets," said Tippee.

The ironies of Keystone would be:

1. No significant impact on US gasoline prices, as it would simply allow more Canadian crude access to "real" global oil pricing, rather than Cushing-constrained WTI prices
2. Cushing area refinery bonanza would come to a swift end, putting pressure on financial performance of those units and tending to raise gasoline prices in those areas - possibly leading to some refinery closures
3. Any refinery closures in Cushing area would generate even more concentration of US refining capacity on the Gulf Coast - leading to greater exposure to hurricane risk and more access to international refined products markets - other countries paying more for US-refined products could outbid US consumers.....

Other than job creation and some on-going transit fees, I cannot see the big deal about Keystone.

(Edited to remove a suggestion that Keystone permits not applied for yet)

"Other than job creation and some on-going transit fees, I cannot see the big deal about Keystone."

Keystone pipeline: How many jobs it would really create?

The U.S. State Department, which must green light the project, forecasts just 5,000 direct U.S. jobs over a two year construction period.

Even according to TransCanada, the amount of permanent jobs created would be only in the hundreds.

"Those are the real numbers," said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, director of international programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "The Republicans have been acting as if this is a national jobs package, and it's not."

Meanwhile, one study from Cornell University said the pipeline could actually lead to a decline in jobs in the long run. One reason is that the pipeline would lead to higher fuel prices in the Midwest, the study said, and that would slow consumer spending and cost jobs.

...not only that, ROCKMAN will get less for his oil :-0

Ghung - Exactly. And if my company shuts down and I'm back to roaming the streets no one will be safe. LOL.

And since we're talking about actions that might affect crude prices let's toss out that little understood fact about an SPR release and the near term price of oil. By congressional law the oil that is sold is benchmarked to Light La. Sweet. I forget the exact formula but it's roughly based upon the average price for the last 30 days before the release. Which is why the last release in 2011 essentially sold for the going price of oil in the market place at that time...$107/bbl. There's no logical reason to expect another SPR release to lower the price of motor fuel. Especially if the exporters cut back their production proportionally for just one month. Given the release would amount to 1 million bopd max then the exporters need cut their production about 2% for a month to keep the net oil to the market place unchanged.

The SPR release laws are designed specifically to NOT ALLOW it to affect pricing but to address supply disruptions. And since no one who can afford the going price of crude is having any problem finding oil then an SPR release is pointless IMHO except, perhaps, to give the public the false impression that the govt is trying to help them.

Perhaps this is why it was named the STRATEGIC Petroleum Reserve and not the TACTICAL Petroleum Reserve. Like the bushbaby said: it's all about the strategary.

No significant impact on US gasoline prices, as it would simply allow more Canadian crude access to "real" global oil pricing, rather than Cushing-constrained WTI prices

The weekly WTI spot crude oil price in the first week of March, 2008 was $103, and the average Midwest gasoline retail price was $3.15 (EIA).

The weekly WTI spot crude oil price in the first week of March, 2012 was $108, and the average Midwest gasoline retail price was $3.82.

So, an increase of 12¢ per gallon of WTI crude, from 3/08 to 3/12, corresponded to an increase of 67¢ per gallon of gasoline.

Note that from the first week of March, 2008 to the first week of March, 2012, the price of Brent increased from $102 to $125, an increase of 55¢ per gallon of crude.

So, are product prices in the Midwest more closely tracking WTI or Brent crude oil prices?

So, I agree with your statement, but the risk we run, IMO, is that if Canada ships their oil to their West and East Coasts, the US will, in all likelihood, lose access to that crude oil. In any case, at present Mid-Continent refiners are paying low Mid-continent prices for crude oil while happily charging product prices which are linked to global crude oil prices, and they are therefore, in effect, providing a huge financial incentive for the Canadians to accelerate their plans to ship their oil to their West and/or East Coasts.

At least until Mid-Continent refiners drive away our closest and most reliable source of imported oil, life is good for Mid-Continent refinery executives.

Cushing area refinery bonanza?

Cushing is a trading hub, not a refining area. There is only one fairly big refinery in Oklahoma, the Ponca City refinery with 190,000 bpd of capacity. The oil price differential is probably encouraging ConocoPhillips to keep the refinery running (while it is transferring most of its other jobs out of Oklahoma), but that is only a big deal as far as Ponca City (pop. 25,000) is concerned.

By contrast, half of the refining capacity in the US is on the Gulf Coast.

Gasoline princes in the US Midwest are not particularly low because the Midwest refineries are selling their surplus production into the Northeast market area, putting the Northeast refineries out of business. They just put the difference in sales prices into their own pockets.

Way too nuanced and complicated for the American mind.

I agree, that is a big bumper sticker!

The bumper sticker:

"Keystone? Whatever.....pass me another beer!"

I think Keystone is a beer.

Well they technically call it beer but it must only VERY marginally qualify as such...

Yuck !


I recall Monty Python used the expression "... like having sex in a canoe" to describe American beers like Keystone

I've never had it(Keystone), but that quip was good.

Yep! Initially marketed as the beer in a can that tastes like beer from a bottle. Real cheap, too.

The central states are not going to vote for Obama anyway. This is a way to punish them while pandering to his coastal supporters.

Funny thing is, it'll end up raising costs for everybody, and the only Americans to profit will be producers in the Bakken and similar northern areas that feed Cushing, and anybody who owns oil in storage.

I don't believe any such moves are made without quite deep understanding of the politics. And probably some big campaign money from somewhere.

Rocky, I guess in Canada you guys do not really pay much attention to politics in the States. The Obama administration is rocking with delight. Sure they are concerned about gas prices, everyone is. But only a few idiots blame it on Obama.

But otherwise everything is going the Democrats way. Romney, the leading candidate on the Republican side, has become the Etch A Sketch candidate, just shake the slate, wipe it clean, and etch a new candidate to whatever the public wants. And they admit it. Ain't that a blast.

These are the best of times if you are a Democrat. And you can be sure we are not the ones in a panic. It is the Etch A Sketch gang who are in a panic.

Ron P.

Mitch-a-sketch and Anti-porn Santorum.

The Democrats couldn't have asked for a better scenario if they'd planned it themselves.

Rocky, I guess in Canada you guys do not really pay much attention to politics in the States.

Well, we do try to pay as little attention as possible, but often it intrudes into our own space.

I have noticed, though that when Americans say something like, "Who do you think is going to win the next election?" and I say "I don't really care", that it goes over badly. For some reason Americans expect us to care about their politics. Do they care about ours? Do they even know about ours?

For your information (and potential inclusion in Drumbeat march 22nd?), a "Tribune" or call towards the current French presidential election candidates for positioning/action regarding peak oil has been published on lemonde.fr :

This tribune signed by :
Pierre René Bauquis, ancien directeur de la stratégie et la planification du groupe Total (ex head of Total strategy and planificaion)

Yves Cochet, député européen, ancien ministre de l'environnement ; (European deputy "les verts" party)

Jean-Marc Jancovici, ingénieur consultant, président de The Shift Project ;

Jean Laherrère, président d' ASPO France (Association pour l'étude du pic pétrolier et gazier), ancien patron des techniques d'exploration du groupe Total ;

Yves Mathieu, ancien chef du projet ressources pétrolières mondiales à l'Institut français du pétrole

You can join this call with an online signature on :

Page with current list of signatures and messages :

Signatures with messages in English welcomed!

Conservatism saved Iceland from Catastrophe

The people of medieval Iceland survived disaster by sticking with traditional practices, an innovative new study suggests.

... 'Icelandic society at the time was both very conservative and very resilient' says Dr Richard Streeter, lead author of the paper, which appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 'We hear a lot about how societies need to be flexible, but in this case it seems to have been reluctance to change that helped these people recover surprisingly quickly from plague and cope with climate change.'

This analysis runs counter to Tainter's hypothesis of Viking collapse in Greenland following the same practices.

What works in one place may not in another. Being conservative may have saved Iceland while dooming Greenland.

U.S. security at risk over water

"Water shortages, polluted water and floods will increase the risk of instability in nations important to U.S. national security interests, according to a new U.S. intelligence community assessment released Thursday.

"During the next 10 years, many countries important to the United States will almost certainly experience water problems - shortages, poor water quality, or floods - that will contribute to the risk of instability and state failure and increase regional tensions," the report from the office of the director of national intelligence states. "

Stubborn drought expected to tax Mexico for years

A severe drought in Mexico that has cost farmers more than a billion dollars in crop losses alone and set back the national cattle herd for years, is just a foretaste of the drier future facing Latin America's second largest economy.

... Mexican President Felipe Calderon, an outspoken advocate for mitigating and adapting to climate change, has ordered his government to start getting ready for tougher times.

... "We're at the point of no return. The northern part of the country is drying out. If the rains don't come, the situation is going to be worse than serious. It will be a disaster,"

and Drought cost Texas nearly $8 billion in agriculture losses

also European Crops Damaged by Winter Freeze Now Face Drought

... Rainfall in northern France, England and the north of Italy this year was 23 percent to 47 percent below the long-term average, data from the EU’s Monitoring Agricultural Resources unit show. In Spain and France’s Mediterranean region, amounts were 59 percent to 78 percent lower.

I wonder if the USA farm belt will take a climate hit this year. Crops are very sensitive to temperature. If the farm belt takes a hit world food prices will soar. (and millions more will starve).

Might be the cornbelt is itching for a bruising...many are gambling that the current heatwave will last, or at least they won't see killer frosts again this season. There's quite a premium for early harvested corn, and it seems worth the gamble. Some analysts predicting a decline in beans as part of that acreage may go early corn.

Will soar? Food prices have not come back down. Soybean prices are near historical highs right now and there is a lot of upside to food prices since buyers are always optimistic about yields and USDA numbers are suspect. Falling gasoline demand should curtail ethanol which may be our saving grace if livestock herds are smaller this year. Soil moisture in the corn belt will be what I wonder about as the summer approaches -- I am watering my garden bed in March which is absolutely astounding. Not saying it will be a problem but right now we will need a lot of rain to make up for the fun and sun we had during winter.

It seems we have nuclear plane capability ...

Secret Drone Technology Barred by “Political Conditions”

... The June 2011 Sandia National Laboratory Project Summary, which refers to “propulsion and power technologies that [go] well beyond existing hydrocarbon technologies,” does not actually use the word “nuclear.” But with unmistakable references to “safeguards,” “decommissioning and disposal,” and those unfavorable “political conditions,” there is little doubt about the topic under discussion.

Furthermore, the project’s lead investigator at Sandia, the aptly named Dr. Steven B. Dron, is a specialist in nuclear propulsion, among other things. He co-chaired a session at the 2008 Symposium on Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion at the University of New Mexico.

... “none of the results can be shared openly with the public due to national security constraints.”

It seems we have nuclear plane capability...
~ Seraph

"Many people's thinking is permeated by state perspectives. One manifestation of this is the unstated identification of states or governments with the people in a country which is embodied in the words 'we' or 'us.' 'We must negotiate sound disarmament treaties.' 'We must renounce first use of nuclear weapons.' Those who make such statements implicitly identify with the state or government in question. It is important to avoid this identification, and to carefully distinguish states from people..."
~ Brian Martin, 'Uprooting War'

“none of the results can be shared openly with the public due to national security constraints.”


So, if I understand correctly, you're not to blame for this then:

French bread spiked with LSD in CIA experiment

In 1951, a quiet, picturesque village in southern France was suddenly and mysteriously struck down with mass insanity and hallucinations. At least five people died, dozens were interned in asylums and hundreds afflicted.

For decades it was assumed that the local bread had been unwittingly poisoned with a psychedelic mould. Now, however, an American investigative journalist has uncovered evidence suggesting the CIA peppered local food with the hallucinogenic drug LSD as part of a mind control experiment at the height of the Cold War.

Just as well you disassociate yourself from the "we" responsible :)

I guess the real problem is that specialisation provides a role for savants, and lacking in social awareness (ie. sociopathic), they real screw up the freaking place with their tunnel visioned super intelligence. The system's imperative to advance all forms of technique, which automatically gives greater systemic control, means there's always support for the output of these un-conflicted geniuses.

Nuclear powered autonomous drones that can traverse the planet and stay airborne for years. Yeah, great idea. Now, back to the ZeroHedge's construction plans for the Death Star to solve the unemployment problem.

And the nuclear drones kill with neutron beams... Enemies are vaporized..

A nuclear plane is stupid - a crash and you've got a "dirty bomb."

It's a gig.
Now, back to work on autonomous micro-quadrotor with self-forging fragment.

ahhh! You should link-up with the PirateBay's project for airborne low-orbit mobile servers using micro-quadroter tech. If you can't catch the server you can't shut it down :)

Trouble is, if marketeers adopt the technology, we'll end up with mobile autonomous spambots that can lock-on to located humans and spam them wherever they are. I can visualise a mountaineer half way up Mount Everest being spammed with climbing gear adverts by a blimp spambot ;)

What... What's that buzzing sound?

Which reminds me. High quality BBC Documentary on Project Orion at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4k_YZAXSEI - "To Mars By A-Bomb - The Secret History of Project Orion - BBC - Nuclear Propulsion"

Includes interviews with Ted Taylor, Freeman Dyson and many others who worked on the project. Curously, when Orion was officially cancelled, Ted Taylor went to work directly for the Pentagon. Details of the mini-nukes developed by Taylor's team remain highly classified to this day.


Project Orion was a study of a spacecraft intended to be directly propelled by a series of explosions of atomic bombs behind the craft (Nuclear pulse propulsion). Early versions of this vehicle were proposed to have taken off from the ground with significant associated nuclear fallout; later versions were presented for use only in space.

This book is a great read if you want to see a contrast/compare between ORION Project and Freeman's Worldview, with that of his son George Dyson..

From the review comments..

"so far this book is an amazing story of a father/son relationship that is black and white. the dad is interested in exploring/colonizing outers space with a high tech spaceship and the son is interested in living simply on the earth and exploring with a low tech but high quality animal skin canoe. "

They built and tested such a power plant.


Fortunately, they developed mid-air refueling as an alternative.


People with Autism have a Greater Ability to Process Information: Study

People with autism have a greater than normal capacity for processing information even from rapid presentations and are better able to detect information defined as ‘critical’, according to a study published today in the ‘Journal of Abnormal Psychology’. The research, funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Economic and Social Research Council, may help to explain the apparently higher than average prevalence of people with autism spectrum disorders in the IT industry

Something to know, for that time when Blood Pressure medicine is no longer available ...

How eating bread [and beets] can lower your blood pressure

A new study from the University of Reading has found that even small doses of beetroot juice lower blood pressure. In addition, bread enriched with either white or red beetroot had a similar effect. A 100g dose resulted in a significant lowering of BP in the short-term (0 to 4 hours) and longer term (0 to 13 hours). And bread enriched with a similar dose of both white and red beetroot also reduced BP by a similar margin. British Journal of Nutrition,/i>.

Off-the-charts pollen spreads allergy misery

Allergy season has come early and hit with a wheezing vengeance in parts of the South and Midwest this year, thanks largely to an unusually warm winter.

In some areas, allergists say pollen counts this week are as high as they've ever recorded. A clinic at Vanderbilt University in Nashville recorded 11,000 grains of pollen per cubic meter Tuesday, the worst in the 12 years they've tracked the number. The Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic says this week's pollen counts have beaten a high mark recorded there in April 1999. Their count for Tuesday was almost 9,400. Fifteen-hundred [1500] is considered very high.

Getting the dirt on immunity: Study shows early exposure to germs is a good thing

or A Taste of Exotic Meats at the Explorers Club Annual Dinner ... reminds me of The Freshman

Talk about spin - "How eating bread can lower your blood pressure" - when the article clearly states that eating beetroot lowers blood pressure. Bread has nothing to do with it, unbelievable. Actually it seems there are many benefits linked to eating beetroot.

Interesting phenomena I have noted today while listening to several radio sources (WRR, KERA and KLUV) during news interludes. The 'official' news that the economy is growing (actually it is a very low and stastically insignificant rise that was reported) is not having its intended impact on the stock market, which is reacting instead to the reports of significant reduction in production in both China and Germany. The newscasters are absolutely livid - it sounds for all the world like they are throwing collective tantrums!

Of course, China and Germany are producing for delivery to the US, their largest customer. Since our economy has not really advanced, and is in retreat, notwithstanding "official" stastics to the contrary, we cannot buy all they want to sell us, and now it is impacting them.

What will this do to the EuroZone, as Germany's economy fails? Will they be able to deliver the necessary bail outs to Greece, Spain, Portugal, etc.? No comment on the airwaves. We expect more tantrums.


Zaphod, your post really shows just how falsified govt. indicators of growth are, when in fact those countries supplying the biggest economy (US) are contracting.

But the world's hopejuice seems to run to some degree on phoney news, like Saudi spare capacity and EU financial situation under control, or price of oil is because of speculators. It's information tweaked to keep people invested in the stock markets around the world, when in fact they should all be selling and fast. This puppy's correcting soon.

I know people have short memories, but it would seem like a very difficult thing to do to get people to invest heavily again in the stock market should it plummet like it did in O8.

Renegade soldiers declare coup in Mali

elsewhere ...

Finally serious oil explorations in Mali

Within one week, two oil companies have signed oil and gas exploration deals with the government of Mali that oblige them to invest millions of US dollars n the search of petroleum in the country's vast desert. Both Algeria's national oil company SONATRACH and the Canadian owned Selier Energy say that the vast Taoudeni basin, at Mali's borders with Mauritania and Algeria, shows great potentials for major oil and gas discoveries.

The Bamako Mining and Energy Ministry on Monday announced it had signed an energy concession deal with Algeria's SONATRACH, a state-controlled company that has long experience with hydrocarbon exploration and production just north of Mali, in similar geological and envirnomnetal conditions as the Taoudeni basin. SONATRACH also operates in comparable basins in Niger and Libya.

and Algeria's Sonatrach vows Mali oil drilling by mid 2012

Upstream: While the landlocked West African state of Mali has considerable mineral resources, it has no known commercially exploitable oil or gas resources. There is therefore no upstream oil industry.

Downstream: Mali depends entirely on imports to satisfy its commerical refined petroleum product needs All fuel products are imported from Côte d'Ivoire (67%), Senegal (18%) and Benin - Togo (15%). The main companies involved in distribution are Elf, Total, Texaco, Shell and ExxonMobil. Storage depots are located at Bamako (ExxonMobil), Kayes (Petrostock and Total) and Kabara (Total). Mali is planning a new depot south of Bamako. Prices are based on refinery costs ex SIR and SAR Refineries plus the transit costs to Bamako. A liberalisation programme is planned however for pricing and procurement. A limited amount of smuggling occurs from Nigeria.


also Niger river dams could displace 1.5 million

Oil Companies Seek Tax Cuts, but Promise Little

It could take billions of dollars in additional annual investment from oil companies just to stem the decline of oil production in Alaska. Oil company executives on Wednesday said this kind of investment will never happen without changes to its tax structure.

Pressed by legislators on the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday, Scott Jepsen, ConocoPhillips’ vice-president for external affairs for Alaska and representatives of BP and Exxon Mobil said the change Parnell is proposing would make Alaska more competitive in seeking investment, but were extremely reluctant to promise they would provide new production, particularly above the current oil production rate.

And some expressed doubt it would even stop the decades-long decline in North Slope production.

Sen. Bert Stedman, co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, asked if that field’s production, now at about 133,000 barrels per day, could be boosted to 250,000 to reach the governor’s goal.

Jepsen said it was unlikely with current technology.

“I don’t know that we could ever get to 250,000 barrels a day,” he said. I would hope with some new ideas maybe we could, but no, I can’t lay out a game plan to get there,”


Germany Unprepared for Major Nuclear Disaster

If a nuclear disaster comparable to Fukushima were to hit a German nuclear plant, authorities would be unprepared to handle it, and scientific projections show that radiation would likely spread much further than previous estimates. But government agencies have done little to address the problem. Critics call the delay a "scandal."

Radiation Dose Map

Their Own Food Network

Heather Fischer has 12 prolific hens and eggs to spare. She's popular at her local food swap, where Fischer offers eggs in exchange for items as varied as limoncello, dried purple basil, canned tomatoes and mustard — all homemade and in many cases homegrown. Fischer is a member of the From Scratch Club ...

... Items are swapped one for one; there is no bartering. At the beginning of the swap, everyone checks out the offerings. If you want something, you write your name and what you have to swap on a piece of paper. The owner of the item then decides who to swap with. There is no money exchanged, but everyone must have a ticket to attend and sign a waiver they understand they are swapping homemade goods.

Burma's 'Resource Curse' Set to Get Worse, Says Watchdog

The Arakan Oil Watch report states that billions of dollars in revenues from the sale of natural gas have gone unrecorded in Burma’s public accounts and been siphoned off by corrupt military rulers, leaving Burma with some of the worst social indicators in the world and embroiled in conflicts over natural resources.

'Oil Movements' see recovery in OPEC exports

Yes, Oil Movements is reporting that OPEC exports are expected to increase in the four week period ending on April 7. However the expected level of seaborne exports, 23.63 million bpd, only brings us back to the level that prevailed at the end of 2011 and the first few weeks of 2012. Curiously Libya increased exports about 300,000 bpd in the last three months, so other OPEC exporters decreased exports by about 300,000 bpd.

While the culprit in most of the decrease may be Iran, Iraq also was said to increase exports in early 2012. So some other OPEC exporters are also shipping less.

Keep in mind that just to get OPEC exports back to even, the Saudis had to deliver a one month export 'surge'. This widely proclaimed surge may just be draining down existing inventories. At the same time Saudi oil exports have 'surged', oil product imports into Saudi have also 'surged'.

It is not clear at all if the net figure of oil exports less oil product imports has changed in any meaningful way.

22 Mar, 2012, 10.22PM IST, Reuters
OPEC exports to rise in 4 weeks to April 7: Analyst

LONDON: Seaborne oil exports from OPEC, excluding Angola and Ecuador, will rise by 360,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the four weeks to April 7, an analyst who estimates future shipments said on Thursday.

Exports will reach 23.63 million bpd on average, up from 23.27 million bpd in the four weeks to March 10, UK consultancy Oil Movements said in its latest weekly estimate.


At the same time Saudi oil exports have 'surged', oil product imports into Saudi have also 'surged'.

Good point, and since Saudi exports are much more closely watched than imports, exporting crude that would normally go to domestic Saudi refineries, while importing increased refined products would be one way to boost their gross exports.

It's looking like the game's almost up, if Saudi are having to resort to increasingly desperate tricks like this to pretend they're still in control. And the interesting thing is that no-one trading oil believes them... Saudi promise to increase supply by 25%, flood the market and bring prices down. Exchange prices wobble for a day, and then back up again.

Those dastardly speculators... what do they know that the media doesn't?

Not only is it questionable as to where the extra capacity will come from, but there is a real concern as to whether that extra capacity can even be used by the world's refiners. It is believed that the extra capacity is generally low quality oil, and refiners that can handle that kind of oil are already operating near maximum capacity.

For example, according to a Reuters news report today [no link], the only product that the Saudis are offering for sale today is 'residue' - which is which is residue extracted from the bottom of a fluid catalytic cracker. For more information on residue and refinery cracking, and Saudi refining, see Global Refining Capacity by JoulesBurn. http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7641

So they are literally scrapping the bottom of the barrel now, while undergoing maintenance at Ras Tanura, one of the best refineries worldwide able to process the lower grades of Saudi oil.

Behind a pay wall but available via Google.

UPDATE:Global Spare Oil Output Capacity "Ridiculously Thin"-Barclays

--Global spare oil capacity running "ridiculously thin" at less than 2% of demand

--2% figure represents around 1.6 million to 1.7 million b/d, says Barclays

--Any further announcements of supply hikes could be neutral, or even bullish, for oil prices

In other words if Saudi were to announce they will increase production by a million barrels per day, that would make prices go up because it would decrease spare capacity. ???

Ron P.

Ron - At the risk of imitating a cat chasing its tail let me run this by you. What really is the PRACTICAL meaning of spare capacity? You can produce X million bopd. That's it...wide open. So now you sell only 90% of X so you have 10% of X as spare capacity. So a simple question: why aren't you selling that 0.10X bopd? If you're offering that 0.10X bopd at the same price as the rest of your oil then I suppose the market is saturated and there are no buyers....the world has all the oil it wants AT THAT PRICE. So whether you call that 0.10X spare capacity or not doesn't really matter because it won't be produced AT THAT PRICE.

So if the exporter does want to turn that 0.10X production into true spare capacity it needs to be offered at a lower price and sell it to those buyers that can only afford the cheaper oil. So in that sense the only legitimate way an exporter can say it has spare capacity is to offer it at any price that allows it to be sold. If the exporter continues to offer that oil a price that no one will meet then it really isn't spare capacity in the sense that if no one will pay the price then it won't get produced whether it 0.10X or 10 times X.

So let's look at the other what-if. What if the exporter wants to sell that 0.10X spare capacity at a price the market will bear. So they drop the price so that all that oil is being sold. Then what is the current spare capacity? Easy: zero bopd...they are selling all they can physically produce.

So if what I just said makes sense then there really isn't a volume of oil production out there that represents "spare capacity" other than one possible scenario: the operator has a volume of oil they could produce if they were to lower their price. So if they can't physically produce more oil or if they are unwilling to lower their price to sell what oil they can actually produce then they actually have no EFFECTIVE spare capacity. Thus if one wants to believe the KSA truly has spare capacity as they claim then you can only conclude they are unwilling to lower prices to sell that extra oil. IOW, as long as they don't lower the price they have no spare capacity.

But what if the world starts running short of oil and the price goes up as competition for remaining reserves increases? Easy: then the KSA can start selling that extra physical oil they say they can produce at will. But in that scenario the spare capacity would only be produced at prices higher than we have today. That doesn't sound much like the safety net the KSA seems to want the world to believe in.

Good points, all, Rockman. Only thing is, it seems that as oil goes up that 'spare capacity' does not see the light of day, despite more wells, and more statements about 200 BBL reserves and the like.

Let's say though that KSA knows they are about to hear a loud sucking sound as Ghuwar fails. Mightn't they decide to store some oil from the 'last of the fast' oil they are now delivering? Say, in about 20 or so tankers strategically parked in the Gulf? Would recent news make more sense in that case?

Not saying Ghuwar is about to fail... just wondering.


My guess is that spare capacity, just like supply or demand is a quantity AT a certain price, not just a quantity without a price. For some reason we don't talk about it in those terms although we obviously should...


Rockman, spare capacity isn't something physical it is something "believed in". It is "faith" that if crude oil gets really tight and the price starts to shoot up, then Saudi, and perhaps even two or three other OPEC members, will increase production by a couple of million barrels a day, calming things back down, and of course reducing prices before they cause another recession.

I always wonder how they come up with how much spare capacity is available. From Financial Times on March 14th: The IEA said Opec spare capacity is now below 3m b/d for the first time since 2008. How do they know? That is just a wild guess and I suspect it is almost 3m b/d too high. ;-)

Ron P.

Thanks gang. I wasn't sure if I was spinning myself into a another diminsion. I particularly like Ron's take. Perhaps another way to understand "spare capacity" is to think of it as a code word...a sort of short hand. It's used to imply a safety net - don't worry: if prices get too high or if domestic supplies get short or if the Straight gets closed or if Israel nukes Iran or if President Obama gets reelected, or etc, etc, etc.

In that sense it like one of those handy little multi-tools...can fix any problem you have. Useful to many groups: exporters, Big Oil, politicians of both parties and everyone else with an interest in keeping the public thinking that BAU can go on.

I dunno, I thought the big deal with ARAMCO was they were disciplined and only sold as much oil as they *needed* to, thus actually having some capacity for production that could be brought on-line quickly if they decided it was necessary.

For an American public company that's impossible, of course.

I am no oil expert, but I always thought "spare capacity" is defined as the amount of physical oil production that can be brought online with a lead time of less than a month. Given the long times it normally takes to drill a well or lay a pipeline, spare capacity would be independent of price. For example I'd presume, even at $10000 / barrel, the huge kerogen couldn't be turned into oil in less than a month. Spare capacity on the other hand could be.

Whether who ever has the spare capacity turns that capacity into actual production is obviously a different matter and one that does depend amongst other things on price. For practical purposes spare capacity might therefore not matter too much, as if it isn't ever turned into actual production then it isn't really of any help to consumers. But it is a well defined quantity.

Also interesting, as it means that Barclays are - in public - calling the Saudis' bluff. Saudi Arabia claims 2.5 million bpd of spare capacity. Barclays say the global spare capacity is 1.6-1.7 million bpd. You do the math!

Egypt petrol shortage causes long queues

Long queues snaked outside empty petrol stations in Cairo and other Egyptian cities on Thursday, as worried motorists waited for new deliveries amid fears of price hikes and longer-term scarcity.

Fuel is highly subsidised in Egypt to maintain the price of 15 US cents (11 euro cents) per litre of 80 octane petrol, the cheapest quality.

and Egypt's motorists queue, officials struggle to explain why

also Fuel shortage in Aden

Funny thing that my friends transiting the Suez canal report that diesel is available at 90 cents a liter plus baksheesh of 10%. Not to call it black market or anything. Locals pay much less but there isn't any for sale. Fair market price is a buck a liter, Allah willing.

Ready to put out a rebel yell! HART 2.0 was suppose to be for people to be able to refinance at a lower int. rate if they were current on their loan payments (which we are), and the loan to value ratio could be above the previous limit of 125%. But I just contacted Greentree lending and they told us that they just got a communique from the Feds yesterday limiting those loans to 125%. So HART 2.0 does not do what the govt. oridinally claimed it would do.

Here's the link to show my homework: https://7503852415.secure-loancenter.com/WebApp/FullAppLogin.aspx

Check this out (NY Times):

U.S. Is Inching Toward Elusive Goal of Energy Independence

Declining consumption of oil and increased energy production have brought the United States closer to a goal that has tantalized many American presidents.

Well, the US will (eventually, inevitably) see energy independence, but the people may not like it when they see it!

I think the ones who would be most upset will to busy trying to put food on the table to even notice when it happens.

Food=Energy. All life is enslaved to the need for energy.

I feel I need to take leave of TOD. Some time back, while doing research for what I hoped would be a treatise of hope, weaving in the various crises of the day (political polarization, global warming, water degradation, and economic wrong-headedness), showing their interconnectivity and concluding with a means by which disaster could still be averted, I stumbled on to an extremely knowledgeable source of information known as “The Oil Drum.” After a while, I began to post some questions, and subsequently to post comments to ongoing themes as I found myself becoming more doomer and less purveyor of hope.

Today, I am convinced that our ‘leaders’ are either incredibly (means not believable, so I don’t) stupid, astoundingly greedy and evil, or caring and wanting to spare ‘us’ the worst case of knowing what is coming and thereby speeding an otherwise inevitable debacle. Using Ockham’s Razor, and the principle of ‘follow the money,’ I tend to think it is the greed thing. After all, we have now had 32 years of uninterrupted fresh water economics, shock and awe, and “greed is good” politics. It no longer seems to matter which party is elected…

On better days I sometimes think maybe, just maybe, one or another of our representatives in Congress actually care. Unfortunately it is always only just one or another, which totals two.

I am fortunate today to be working at an age most would be retired (like it or not), and getting close to being able to do something to protect at least a few of my family members. I don’t know if things will hold together long enough to implement, but for that at least I remain hopeful.

So, thanks to each of you, and especially to Rockman, Darwinian, Westexas, RockyMtnGuy, FMagyar, and all the rest who have answered my many questions, or responded to my comments. Leanan does a great job of selection, and I will undoubtedly be sending the occasional item to her as I surf the web for more source material. My treatise will be changed and enhanced; J.M. Greer and Jim Kunstler have done a great job dealing with most of the material I have gleaned, so I doubt I will publish. I will finish it though.

I somehow don’t think, “So long, and thanks for all the fish,” is quite enough. So, thanks for all the effort

Best hopes to you all in a world greatly changed. .



I like your writing (am jealous). Question - are doomers a fringe group? As I've become more and more convinced of a coming deep recession/ depression I'm finding out it's not a pleasant topic of conversation. The BAU crowd has a bunch of experts telling them they are correct. The stock market is making new highs. US oil production has risen. Past predictions of "Limits To Growth" have missed the mark. Even if oil has peaked, the BAU crowd believes alternative energy or some tech magic will save the day.

So I've stopped trying to persuade others, but I hope you go ahead and publish.


I've become more and more convinced of a coming deep recession/ depression...

Brad, you are just another wide eyed optimist. Only a deep recession is really way too much to hope for. ;-)

Ron P.

Even the bewildered herd knows something is wrong, even if it is subconsciously.
Most are not literate enough in basic thermodynamics and evolutionary biology to understand what is happening, and cling to simple stories to make sense of a bewildering and groundless situation.

"Past predictions of "Limits To Growth" have missed the mark."

There are no predictions in "Limits To Growth"

Ugh, its tiresome to keep saying that.

Sorry to hear of your leaving. This site can become somewhat overwhelming and one might find better ways to spread the message beyond the ranks of the already aware. One can only hope that your treatise will appear and you will return to tell those of us who may be still posting on TOD, so that we might appreciate your efforts. And, if the future is as bleak as some suggest, thru your efforts, maybe you and your family will find a way to safely navigate the approaching storm...

E. Swanson

"This site can become somewhat overwhelming"

Not only that, it sometimes seems as though it ought to be called, rather than the Drum Beat, the "Rorshach Test". I.e., everyone looks at the same reality and has their very, very different interpretations thereof. We have Lefities and Righties and everything in between. I often read a comment before I really notice who wrote it, and by the end of reading the comment, I know who wrote it. That's when I know it's break time :-)

Great stuff here, great folks, but there's a point of diminishing returns. I have taken breaks, but I come back because I miss everybody :-)

But I totally understand your feeling.

Best of luck to a fellow traveller! I've taken many breaks from TOD, some of them long, and my reading and posting patterns are much different now than they once were. It's healthy to move around. Don't hesitate to stop back now and then should the mood take you.

Mr. President,
If I had access to the Heart of Gold, I think I would also take a bit of a cruise myself, and let the worries of the universe go for a while. You've got to take care of yourself, after all.

That said, if you want to read some people who are working hard and trying to keep a chin up, I highly recommend 'YES' Magazine. http://www.yesmagazine.org/ (and Heaven knows, they deserve the support!)

I don't ever sense that they are pouring empty shots of pollyana, far from it, as they take on our culture's challenges as fully as TOD ever does. But they look at people being forward thinking and courageous, caring and bold.. etc, etc.

Best of luck to you, pray for Shackleton now, and frolic with Snoopy whenever the opportunity presents itself!

Bob Fiske

I suspect hiding under a bed won't improve things, but good luck anyway.

Good luck to you Craig.

I've found your comments very informative over the short time I've been coming to TOD.

Thank you.
And, as for your treatise? Remember to "Share and Enjoy"!


zap - I suspect you'll be back in time. I believe I recognized some of the same masochistic tendencies in you that I see in myself when it comes to our energy situation. A band of brother moths drawn to the flame. LOL. A break would do us all good from time to time. Shortly I’ll probably be off the net for a couple of weeks. But eventually I suspect anyone of us will be saturated with that unending rattle of foolish ideas and false perceptions of the reality. Eventually we won’t resist the urge to jump back in and say: “Did you hear what that idiot said about X?”

Don’t worry. Me and Tom Baudette will keep a light on for you.

Good for you, bad for us. You have always made pretty balanced, reasoned comments which I've learned a lot from.
I can somewhat relate perhaps. I too wonder about where the rest of the world keeps their heads. But, reading a fair amount of history, rationality seems to be the exception, not the norm. We humans are balls of emotion covered in a very, very thin layer of rationality.


Your comments will be missed, they're good 'uns. But maybe you'll find your way back after awhile.

I pulled back from the site after Nate's freewheeling subject matter petered out, but I keep coming back for the high level of sanity. A rare mix of folks has assembled here. Checking in is addictive; and if the real-time peer-reviewed consensus here seems to have a doomy slant, it's just relative to unrealistic preconceptions.

Understanding the doomy-seeming stuff is useful for nurturing realistic hopes, and making things better than they might otherwise be.


Will miss you.

Everyone deserves a holiday. We will keep your seat warm.

Vaya con Dios good friend. Keep the flame lit. In a thousand years, when they start to rebuild civilization we may meet. Good Luck.

BP given consent for deep-water well North Uist west of Shetland

Oil giant BP has been given consent to drill a controversial deep-water well west of Shetland.

The North Uist well is about 125km (78 miles) to the north west of the islands, at a depth of nearly 1,300m.

The UK government's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said it had thoroughly examined BP's environmental impact and emergency response plans.

Environmental organisations have expressed concern at the news.

The Sinking of the E-Cat:


That Rossi can't be trusted has been clearly perceived also by Rossi's supporters, who have been abandoning the sinking ship: for instance Sterling Allan. The University of Bologna had wisely disengaged from Rossi already in January.

So, the E-Cat has reached the end of the line. It still maintains some faithful supporters, but, most likely, it will soon fade away in the darkness of pathological science, where it belongs. There remains a question: how is it possible that so much time and energy has been lost in this incredibly story? Well, there has to be something wired wrong in the human mind but, at least, from this story we can learn what mistakes we should avoid. As Captain Kirk said, never put yourself in a no-win situation by believing without proof in salvific inventions.

2nd law of thermodynamics strikes again.

Rossi the conman is out but low energy nuclear reactions are still alive. See Mike McKubre, George Miley and Francesco Piantelli.

I'm not worried. Either they have something or they don't, and if they do it will be easy to prove.

Personally I think LENR is barking up the wrong tree completely, it isn't like high temperature fusion where there is a known effect with difficult engineering. Unknown effects that are difficult to reproduce and seem to evade the capabilities and notice of scientists working in the domain always set off my suspicions.

Hopefully Tom Whipple won't waste anymore of his time on that debacle.

BTW, I was living with some Stanford physics PhD candidates some 20+ years ago when this whole 'cold fusion' debacle began. We talked about it and we all concluded it was BS. One guy even shorted Palladium futures that had risen and made a few bucks. I can't believe this charade has been continuing for 20+ years. But as religion has taught us, people will believe what they want to believe. It is really hard to kill a good salvation myth when people so want to believe.

Earthquakes the cause of Wisconsin town's annoying booms?

Earthquakes can generate seismic energy that moves through rock at thousands of miles per hour, producing a sonic boom when the waves come to the earth's surface, Caruso said.


Atmospheric tsunami ?

I am speculating that earthquakes can also be the cause of visible light flashes !

Optical tsunami ?

Many good years ago we had a large military execise in Sweden. When it was done there was a large supply of leftover explosives, wich they decided to destroy. So they moved the whole batch to a remote place far away from everything, piled it up in one big pile, and detonated the whole shebang. However the shockwave followed some sort of geological structure all the way towards a village, and made a large crack in the church tower.

Thanks for the data point. Here is an example of a light flash associated with an earthquake:


The idea occured to me recently when I was watching an episode of A & E, I think. There was a family who experienced shaking of the furniture followed by a glowing blue-green light. A & E attributed the occurance to poltergeist. Having a vague recollection of light flashes being associated with earthquakes, I recall thinking, "that could be an earthquake".

What's the news on this mornings sudden oil spike? Brent just spiked over $126.14 from $123.20. Now $124.79 and rising.